Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Feast of Saint Dominic

Today, August 8th, is the feast of Saint Dominic - founder of the Order of Preachers. It is a day of great celebration for Dominicans throughout the world - a day for the Dominican family, of friars, nuns, sisters and laity to ponder the legacy of Dominic.


It is tempting to try and situate his legacy in the context of our own time - our own period in history. To do this is to do a disservice to the charism of Saint Dominic. The principal charism is of course that of preaching. This is interesting since no text has preserved the content of his sermons for us! Marie - Humbert Vicaire OP in his excellent Saint Dominic and his Times (Darton, Longman and Todd, 1964. London) reminds us that evidence from the early brothers of the Order tell that "Dominic preached frequently to the brethren 'almost every day'. Whatever his fatigue might be when he arrived in one of his houses, he immediately called his brethren to chapter and began to preach. He did the same in the case of religious who gave him hospitality. Moreover he did so for the travellers whom he joined along the road."


The Constitutions of the Order contain the formula which Saint Dominic is said to have repeated many, many times - namely: 'To speak of God or with God'. This indicates clearly enough that he envisaged a preaching that should be positive, doctrinal, theocentric and an exposition of Christian revelation.


This remains the task of the Order today. It is, of course, an urgent task - as urgent as it was in Dominic's time. It is a task that captures the minds of many - even in these past twenty four hours I have received enquiries from three individuals who want to explore the way of Dominic, the way of preaching. The spirit and charism of Dominic is alive in the twenty first century.......may it continue to bear fruit in abundance.
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