Today, August 8, we celebrate the Feast of St. Dominic!
A Man of Prayer: At the heart of Dominic’s life was prayer centered in the Eucharist. We are told that from this groundedness he spoke only to or of God. While this might suggest a somber man, he was from his earliest days known as the “joyful friar,” who admitted to enjoying the company of younger women more than that of older ones.
His constant companion on the road was the Gospel of St. Matthew (he would not have had a pocket edition of it) The journey of the day was often accompanied by nights spent in prayer, pleading with God for the salvation of souls.
A Man of Study: As Dominic took in his world, he realized that he and his men would need to be educated in order to be of service to the people of his day. University education became an important part of the formation of his followers. While theology was seen as the queen of the disciplines, the liberal arts were also pursued. As time went on, philosophy and science were added to their studies. Dominic, as Dominicans today, believed that truth was to be pursued wherever it was found.
A Man of Community: Dominic knew the importance of finding support from his fellow friars. Community was not simply a place to share meals and bed down for the night. It was a dynamic place where ideas were shared and spirits were nurtured. In this home, where they interacted with one another, they would be strengthened for their preaching mission. And it was to this same home that they would return once the day or the trip to near or distant cities was over.
A Man for Others: While a man of the Church and a man of prayer, Dominic drew his early inspiration for preaching and modeling Gospel values from a night in a pub. On foot with his companion Diego, and needing shelter for the night, Dominic found his way into a local tavern, where he spent the night in dialogue with an Albigensian heretic. (Albigensians were known for their disciplined lives and for championing the dualistic belief that the spirit is better than matter.) This long night made Dominic realize that, if these people were to be instructed in the truths of the Christian Church, they would have to be taught strong doctrine by those living Gospel values. From this rather incongruous place were sown the seeds of the Dominican Order.
Dominic’s concern for learning did not blind him to the needs of others. As a student, books were understandingly important to Dominic, but not more so than people in need. When faced with people lacking the necessities of life, he sold his books and gave the proceeds to the poor.
Reflection: In the Dominican spirit, reflect on the following questions. Hopefully, at least one will resonate within.
- For whom are you called to pray?
- What might you study in the coming weeks/months? Why?
- What more could you contribute to one of the communities to which you belong (family, work, social networks)?
- How might you further spread Gospel values in your life?