Saint for the day: Dominic (August 8, 1170 – August 6, 1221)
Numbers 12:1-13 – Psalm 51 – Matthew 14:22-36
A note about today’s Liturgy
Since today’s “saint” is the founder of the World-Wide Religious Order – “The Dominicans” – also, formally known as “The Order of Friars Preachers” places staffed by Dominicans will have special scripture readings as listed below:
Isaiah 52:7-10 – Psalm 96 – 2 Timothy 4:1-8 – Matthew 5:13 – 19
There is something very special when we come to celebrate this Feast of Our Holy Father, Dominic. We both look back to contemplate his life and look here and forward to our own living out of the heritage he left us. The main difference, though, is the fact that HE is a saint and most of us are still on the road struggling to live our lives as he did.
In doing this, however, we must remember that Dominic was a product of his time and we are trying to follow him with our feet planted in the 21st Century. We simply can’t just pluck him out of his time and drop him into our era. So… how do we manage to live in the ‘Spirit of Dominic’ in this, our age?
In the first place we might look at those familiar ‘Four Pillars’ that he based the foundation of the Order upon: Prayer, Study, (in) Community and Ministry. It is my firm belief that if we put our focus on these basics – and kept them in their proper order – we, too, could be successful in our lives and ministry.
Dominic is known for his ‘Nine forms of prayer’ which involve the total person. In other words, he was distinct from the Albegensians (who saw the body and material things as evil) and he let his prayer be supported by his bodily actions of bowing and imploring the mercy of God.
Our problem is that we often let our prayer life slide into a minimalistic place and then wonder why we’re not successful in our pursuit of study, our living in community, and our ministry. The words of Dominic – which I think are based on Ephesians 4:28 (let all your words be for the building up of the community) – in which he is quoted as saying, “I wish only to speak either TO or ABOUT God.” Think about it: he based his entire life on that principle and at the same time was able to travel all over the then-known world as a very successful preacher and founder of many communities of both women and men.
It is very much like G K Chesterton’s statement: “It’s not that Christianity has be tried and failed. It’s that Christianity HASN’T really been tried!” In so many ways we modern-day Dominicans haven’t really TRIED to emulate the wisdom of our Holy Father Dominic. Let’s give it a try and see what happens. But you better prepare yourself for a roller-coaster ride into the Kingdom once you have opened yourself to the Grace and Mercy of God! Amen!