Monday, August 8, 2011

Memorial of Saint Dominic, priest

(Deuteronomy 10:12-22; Matthew 17:22-27)

St. Dominic is often pictured with a dog. A legend says that his mother dreamed of giving birth to a dog with a torch in his mouth that would set the world on fire. The dog is taken as Dominic himself who with his band of friars helped spread the gospel to the corners of Europe and beyond. C.J. Jung thought the dog indicates the saint’s well-integrated emotional life. Dominic was noted as a person of equanimity able to accept advances or setbacks with the same reliance on the Lord. A more recent explanation of the dog would be that Dominic had a personal affection of the Lord akin to a dog’s for his master. This may be pushing the envelope too far, however, as dogs may in ways imitate people but certainly mature human love reaches far beyond canine devotion. Nevertheless, throughout their history Dominicans have taken pride in being thought of as “dogs of the Lord,” what their popular name sounds like in Latin.

Dominic would readily accept Moses’ plea to the Israelites in today’s reading from Deuteronomy. The primitive constitution of his Order speaks of its purpose as bringing men (and in their own convents women) together to be perfected with the same love of God and of neighbor. But the Order has always been more outward than inward looking. The same constitution speaks of its mission as “preaching and the salvation of souls.”