Memorial of Saint Dominic Guzman, priest
(Ezekiel 1:2-5.24-28c; Matthew 17:22-27)
Some may remember St. Dominic from images in churches of him receiving the rosary from the Blessed Mother. A few may recall a song about his life by a Belgian religious that rose to the top of the sales charts in the early 1960s. But for most people St. Dominic’s story is as obscure as that of Jorge Bergoglio’s four years ago.
Dominic was not a bishop or a martyr. He did not leave any writings as a legacy beyond a simple exhortation to a community of sisters and some letters. He was reportedly a fine preacher but no transcriptions of his sermons exist. Dominic achieved standing in the Church for founding the Order of Preachers exactly eight hundred years ago. In fact, since there is no historical evidence of Dominic’s miraculously receiving the rosary, historians attribute the popular image to the fact that members of the Order, called “Dominicans,” have been the leading promoters of the rosary through the ages.
But no one should mistake Dominic as a mediocre man who happened to found a successful religious congregation. The Order of Preachers became successful because of his effectiveness as a leader. Three qualities stand out: the breadth of his vision for the “holy preaching” (as he called it), the excellence of his character to set that vision in motion, and most of all the profundity of his faith which was not deterred by historical setbacks or weak followers. Dominic believed radically in God’s providence and beseeched the Lord constantly for assistance in his enterprise of announcing Jesus Christ to the world.