I would like to focus this reflection on St Dominic as a man of prayer.
Jordan of Saxony tells us in the Libellus that Dominic was familiar with Cassian’s Conferences, and that they were among his favourite reading. From Cassian we learn that humility, simplicity and charity are the foundations of all prayer. St. Dominic practised all these to a heroic degree.
Take for example humility: when the Bishop of Osma made him a canon regular in his church, we are told that “he was the lowliest of them all in his humility of heart, but he was their leader in holiness.” ( Libellus No. 12)
At his final Chapter in Bologna, he did not want to be re-elected as Master of the Order but to be given the freedom to be an ordinary friar and to go and preach to the pagans in the East. He was neither ambitious nor power hungry but humble, living a simple life as he spent himself entirely in preaching for the salvation of everyone, “haunting the church by day and by night, devoting himself ceaselessly to prayer”. ( Libellus 12)
Dominic’s deepest source of inspiration was his profound love of Jesus Christ, a love which overflowed in his charity for others. “He certainly did not lack the greatest form of charity that a person can have – that is to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. The story goes that when he was urging one of the unbelievers to return to the true faith, the man explained that his association with the unbelievers was prompted by his worldly needs, because the heretics gave him the necessary funds, which he could not obtain in any other way. Dominic was so moved by sympathy that he decided immediately to sell himself and relieve the poverty of this endangered soul with the price of himself. And he really would have done it had not the Lord made other arrangements for meeting the man’s needs.” (Libellus 35)
Dominican Spirituality is simply, in the manner of St. Dominic, to allow oneself to be seized by the mercy of God revealed in the Incarnation and in the Scriptures, to gaze on God with the eyes of the heart, and to gaze equally on people in order that they may be saved.
Today is the memorial of St. John Mary Vianney, the Curé D’Ars. Although Dominic was born at the end of the 12th Century and the Curé D’Ars at the end of the 18th Century – almost 600 years apart- there is a definite realisation by both men of the vital importance of prayer in their lives and in the lives of the faithful, to whom they ministered. The Curé D’Ars said in one of his writings:
“The priest is above all a man of prayer…..
And elsewhere about prayer:
“In this intense union that is prayer, God and the soul are like two pieces of wax melted together.”
“He who receives communion loses himself in God like a drop of water in the ocean. They can no longer be separated.”
“In the soul united to God, it is always Spring”.
“Our language should be used only to pray, our heart only to love, our eyes only to cry”.
Through the intercession of St. Dominic, St. John Mary Vianney, and all our Dominican Saints may all of us receive this gift of prayer which will enlarge our hearts and make us capable of loving God and our neighbour at a progressively deeper and deeper level.
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