St. Dominic, who’s feast is August 8th, is a saint universally celebrated in the Catholic Church. Why is he universally celebrated?
Dominic, who lived at the beginning of the 13th century, faced the Albigensians , a gnostic movement strongly entrenched around Toulouse in France that was drawing believers away from the church. Dominic gathered preachers to bring the teaching of the gospel to the area. Preaching the gospel, according to Dominic, meant not only to understand your faith, but to know what those who differ from you believe. He established communities of followers, the Dominicans, near universities such as Paris and Bologna.
They were to study and pray. Study and prayer and a simple life would help them know the truth and bring it to their world. His community still has that vital role in the church today.
The prayers for Dominic’s feast ask that the gifts of study and prayer and a simple life remain in the church. We need people who think and pray and preach.
One of Dominic’s biographers mentions something about him that’s true of all the saints, I think. Saints look redeemed. Dominic’s face was joyful, which came from a joyful heart and a soul at peace. He believed God was with him.
“He was a man of great equanimity, except when moved to compassion and mercy. And since a joyful heart animate the face, he displayed the peaceful composure of a spiritual man in the kindness he manifested outwardly and by the cheerfulness of his countenance.”
That same “cheerfulness of countenance” seems to be what people remark about Pope Francis. That doesn’t mean smiling continuously, but that joy is our “default,” it’s the attitude usually there. Fra Angelico seems to capture the peacefulness of Dominic in his portrait of the saint. (above)
Good questions to bring up in our women’s prayer group. We certainly don’t look sad when we meet and pray. There are lots of joy filled hearts and hungry hearts as well.
I LIKED THE TO “A REDEEMED FACE.
Good questions! Could be that the concept of “holy” during those times meant set apart from all that is pleasurable…they had to look deprived of all human joy? Or they were totally focused on doing the work of building the kingdom and no time to smile? As for Dominic, how could he or anyone pray the Joyful or Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary without smiling?
To teach, to preach. to bless as Dominic did in imitation of Christ.
In 1203 Diego, bishop of Osma, was sent on a royal mission abroad and took Dominic with him. This journey first made Dominic aware of the threat posed to the church in the south of France by the Albigensian heretics, or Cathari, who were reviving and developing the Manichaean teaching that two supreme beings, Good and Evil, dominate spirit and matter respectively, so that whatever concerns the body—such as eating, drinking, procreation, and the possession of worldly goods—is essentially evil, and the ideal is the renunciation of these things and even of life itself. Thus, there arose among them a caste of the “perfect,” who led a life of great austerity, while ordinary people were regarded as reprobates. A regularized Albigensian hierarchy had come into existence, and local feudal lords, especially the count of Toulouse, supported the Albigenses. Pope Innocent III had launched a mission to preach against the heresy.
On a second journey Dominic and the bishop visited the pope, who refused their request to preach to the pagans, so they returned to France. In 1206 the papal legates and preachers, depressed at the failure of their mission, consulted the bishop and Dominic, who reasoned that the heretics would be regained only by an austerity equal to their own; the preachers must tramp the roads barefoot and in poverty. This was the birth of Dominic’s “evangelical preaching.” An important part of his campaign was the establishment of a convent of nuns at Prouille, formed in 1206 from a group of women converted from the heresy.”
“How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!” (Romans 10,15)