Thursday, August 8, 2019

Memorial of Saint Dominic, priest

(Numbers 20:1-13; Matthew 16:13-23)

St. Dominic is most often portrayed in art receiving the rosary from the Blessed Mother.  There is no reliable historical evidence of this event having taken place.  Still there is reason to associate Dominic with the rosary. Dominican priests, the spiritual sons of Dominic, have been among the principal promoters of praying the rosary in history.  There are statues of Dominic holding a church on one of his arms.  It’s a symbolic gesture, of course, but it has definite historical roots.

Dominic founded the Order of Preachers when the Church was being severely challenged.  Especially in France and Italy people were reacting against the corruption that often contaminates living the faith.  These people were called Cathars, a term meaning pure ones, or Albigensians for the city in what is now southern France where they were popular.  These idealistic people lived in austere ways accepting Jesus’ radicalness in the New Testament but rejecting the goodness of creation from the Old Testament.  Dominic believed that they might be converted back to a truly evangelical life.  He formed his spiritual brothers, who became known as Dominicans, to live in simplicity and community.  They would study Scripture and preach dynamically to win back those alienated from the Church.

We should see St. Dominic as standing in direct line with Jesus and St. Peter.  In today’s gospel Jesus calls his lead disciple “the rock (upon which) I will build my church.”  Twelve hundred years later Dominic worked to maintain that Church’s integrity.  The newly elected successor of St. Dominic, Fr. Gerard Timoner, Master of the Order of Preachers, has indicated his intention that the Order continue that enterprise. After accepting his election, he said, “The mission of the order is to help build the communion of the Church, the Body of Christ…”