Three years ago today (August 8th), on the feast of St. Dominic, I, along with two of my classmates, professed simple vows (for three years) in the Order of Friars Preachers. It’s no secret that I have a strong devotion to St. Francis, as do many others regardless of what Order they may have joined, but I am a friar preacher, a Dominican. In a spirituality class that I recently took at Aquinas Institute of Theology, a Dominican school, the writings of St. Francis, St. Ignatius, St. Vincent de Sales, Bl. John Henry Newman, and others were mentioned, but no St. Dominic. The reason is simple: there aren’t many. And this fact, I think, speaks volumes about St. Dominic.
Among Dominicans, two well known sayings of St. Dominic are the following: “Have charity one for another, guard humility, make your treasure out of voluntary poverty.” and “Do not weep, I shall be of more use to you after death than I ever did in life.” The former is known as his last will and testament and the latter are his final words to the friars on his deathbed. In both of these lines St. Dominic looks ahead, he looks toward the future and the preaching mission of the Order and the impact it will have on the world. The Order was founded for preaching and the salvation of souls, a mission that sounds simple and complex at the same time. How do we know if we're succeeding?
Today we are very much concerned with measuring success. What was the turnout? How many signed up? Did we raise enough? But what about those times when we can’t measure, when we won’t see the end of the mission in our lifetime? St. Dominic always carried the Gospel of Matthew with him, and undoubtedly he was familiar with the parable of the sower (Matthew 13). St. Dominic knew that God was at work, that it was God who would work in his life, in the friars’ preaching, and in the people that heard the preaching. A popular hymn to St. Dominic calls him a “joyful friar, tolerant master, grace filled preacher, gospel man of prayer.” St. Dominic had faith, courageous faith in God - if the Order of Preachers is truly God’s work, then He would see to it that the preaching continue. We remember St. Dominic today, not by reading his writings or sermons, but by looking around us at what he started and entrusted to us, by praying that with God’s help the Order of Preachers continues. Below is a vocations prayer used at many Dominican priories.
Blessed Father Dominic,
preacher of God’s grace,
you promised to assist us even after your death.
Intercede for us before God,
to help us encourage more men and women
to follow our way of life,
the way of a preacher.
Bless us in our common life,
study, prayer, and ministry,
that our lives together may be a joyful witness
creating a desire in others to join the Sacred Preaching.
A few months ago, on May 22nd, I professed solemn vows (until death) in the Order. Myself and all other Dominicans are living testimonies to the work of God through St. Dominic and the Order of Preachers.