Uncategorized Blazes

St. Dominic: Preaching Fire

When St. Dominic’s mother, Juana, was carrying him in the womb, she had a very interesting dream. She dreamt that a black and white dog with a blazing torch in its mouth jumped right out of her womb! This dog appeared to set the whole world on fire with the firebrand it held in its mouth. It turned out that the dream became a reality.

Today is the feast day of the man we call St. Dominic – – it’s not merely a feast day, but a solemnity for the Dominican Order. St. Dominic founded the Order of Preachers, known as the Dominicans (which consists of friars, sisters, and third order lay members). The primary mission of the Order of Preachers is to pass on the fruits of their contemplation, that is, of their prayer, as well as, I might add, their study. St. Dominic was all about fidelity to the truth, the Truth which is ultimately the person of Jesus Christ. He wanted to save souls through the preaching of the truth because it is the “truth that will set you free.” (John 8:32). Dominic began preaching when he encountered a group of heretics called Albigensians while on a mission with his bishop all throughout France. This group viewed the world as evil – – all matter was considered evil and so as a consequence, things like procreation and sacraments were abhorred while escape from the body was considered ideal – – sometimes they basically committed slow suicide through starvation. St. Dominic was sent to preach against this aberration against the truth. At first his efforts met with little success but then Dominic turned to the Blessed Mother for assistance. She appeared to him in a vision and let him know that she would guide his efforts. It has been believed that he was given the rosary as a means to combat the heresy. Whatever the case may be, Dominicans are big promoters of the rosary. I have heard it said that the Dominican entry into prayer is contemplation of the truth; Dominicans assimilate the truth, and then, having done so, they can deliver the truth to others, the same truth that was elucidated to them in prayer. Not only do their hearers benefit from this, Dominicans do as well!

This practice of contemplation and sharing the fruits of that contemplation is what the Dominicans do today. They have so many outreaches online such as the Thomistic Institute, and Aquinas 101, where they teach on topics ranging from theology, philosophy, prayer, and the complementarity of faith and science. They also head the Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary and the Confraternity of Angelic Warfare (to both of which I belong). And these websites are largely the work of one province of Dominicans, here in the US! They originated in France (where their first religious house was founded) and in St. Dominic’s native Spain in the 1200’s and now they are worldwide! Some notable Dominicans include St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Martin de Porres, St. Rose of Lima, St. Louis de Montfort and Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati (the last two were lay Dominicans).

As I finish writing this, I think of the exhortation of St. Paul to St. Timothy:

” [P]reach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths. As for you, always be steady, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:2-5)

St. Dominic did just that – – through his prayers, may we also be preachers of the truth in our own small way.

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