Published by Dominican Nuns Ireland in Reflections (Dominican) · 1 August 2021
Tags: St, Dominic, Virtue
Tags: St, Dominic, Virtue
Dominic on his deathbed bequeathed to his brethren, as their rightful inheritance, his last will and testament saying: “have charity, guard humility and possess voluntary poverty.” This was the path which led him to holiness and he was and is inviting us his sons and daughters to imitate him as he imitated his Saviour, Christ Jesus. In his letter on the holiness of St Dominic, Bro Bruno Cadoré says that in this testament Dominic “makes us heirs of what had been his life’s passion, namely, to live with Christ, to learn from Him and be configured to Christ through evangelical and apostolic life.”
Have charity: as we know for Dominic this was not an empty cliché – Bl Jordan tells us that Dominic’s constant prayer, even as a Canon at Osma, was for the gift of true charity which would enable him to respond to the Saviour’s charity, as displayed in His outstretched arms on the Cross, by a life totally spent in caring for and procuring the salvation of all people. This charity was the source of all Dominic’s activity and found expression in his tranquil composure, cheerfulness, kindness towards his companions during the day and at night he unremittingly poured forth his compassionate heart in prayer and intercession before the Lord. In our constitutions we, the nuns, are exhorted to “perpetuate this singular gift which our father had of bearing sinners, the down-trodden and the afflicted in the inmost sanctuary of his compassion.”
Guard humility – the witnesses of the canonisation process speak of Dominic’s humility – Bro Bonvisus states: “when they had to stop on their journeys, he did not insist on his will, but followed the wishes of his brothers who were with him. And if he were badly treated he showed greater signs of joy than if he were served well. It was his custom to always rejoice in trials rather than in good fortune – he was truly humble, kind, merciful and patient.” Bro Ralph states: “a comforter of the brethren he was patient, merciful and kind. If he saw a brother breaking any rule, he would pass by as if he had not seen it...... But afterwards with his gentle words he induced all to confess and repent... and the offenders went away consoled because of his humble attitude.... he humbled himself greatly in all things.” Another states he was deeply religious and held himself in low regard. (Toulouse canonisation process (3).
Possess voluntary poverty: Some translations say treasure voluntary poverty – as if it were something precious that we treasure! The witnesses of the canonisation process speak of Dominic embracing poverty and he exhorted his brethren to act in like manner. Bl Jordan tells us that Dominic was a true lover of poverty, and he always wore cheap clothes.... He was quite content with very simple food and drink, avoiding all luxuries. Dominic’s treasure was in heaven and he knew that nothing less than God can satisfy the human heart – his love of poverty and detachment from the things of earth allowed him the freedom to be available for God’s work in the service of all with whom he came in contact.
On his deathbed Dominic assured all his brothers and sisters that he would be more useful to us after his death – surely we can rely on his promise to help us remain faithful to his dying wish: “have charity, guard humility and treasure voluntary poverty.” St Dominic pray for us that we too may be united with the blessed.
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