August 7, 2022: Holy Father Dominic - Pastor’s Corner
This coming year, we will celebrate the sesquicentennial of St. Dominic’s Parish. In light of this coming celebration, over the course of the next month, I want to highlight the life story of our founder St. Dominic. Even though he is our patron, I am often surprised how little known and studied the life of St. Dominic is when compared to Saints like Francis and even other Dominicans such as St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Catherine. So I hope this series on the life of St. Dominic’s is both an introduction to his life and an encouragement to further inquiry!
Story of St. Dominic: Part IV
The first Marian moment in St. Dominic’s story relates to the Rosary. In fact, St Dominic had a deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, that he is connected with the very origin of this great Marian prayer. As we have previous noted, St. Dominic was not immediately successful in preaching against the Albigensian heresy. Distressed at his lack of accomplishment, Dominic turned to the Mother of God for assistance. According to legend, she appeared to him and gave him the Rosary as an effective means to join vocal and contemplative prayer with preaching the truth in order to call all to conversion of life. Once Dominic began to preach the gospel using this effective prayer, hearts were convicted, and lives transformed. For St. Dominic there is no successful preaching without prayer! Since the Rosary fosters a unique blend of vocal, mental, and contemplative prayer, it continues to serve as a model for Dominican prayer. Thus, the Order of Preachers encourages its devotion with enthusiasm. For example, the Rosary is both part of the Dominican habit and the daily spiritual life of the friars. The biographers of St. Dominic reveal that he was a man of intense prayer and that his delight for preaching the gospel was rooted in a strong contemplative prayer life. St. Dominic’s conversations were always “to God or about God,” and it is precisely this intimate relationship that St. Dominic enjoyed with God which fueled the zealous flame of his passion for preaching the gospel. In striving to preach the word of God with faithfulness and perseverance, St. Dominic first sought to be spiritually nourished by the food of the Scriptures and contemplative prayer.
The second moment relates to the habit itself. As the Dominican established themselves at the major Universities in Europe, many of professors and students began to enter the Order. One such esteemed professor was Bl. Reginald of Orleans. Though he initially inspired by the preaching of St. Dominic to consider entering his new Order, he was racked with doubts and anxiety. In fact, his fears about his vocation, coupled with an untimely illness drove him to his sickbed. In this state of physical and emotional distress, the Blessed Virgin appeared to Reginald in the presence of St. Dominic and reassured Reginald’s vocation to the Dominicans and gave them the scapular as a visible sign of her protection and guidance for the friars (up until this time, the habit was made up of the tunic and capuce (habit hood). To this day, the scapular is worn as an essential part of the Dominican garb and, in fact, is the only part of the habit which is blessed upon receiving the habit.
The moment occurred in the middle of the night. As Dominic was retiring from keeping Vigil in the chapel, he saw a vision of Mary walking the halls of the cloister flanked by Sts. Catherine and Cecilia. As she proceeded to each room, she blessed each one of the friars in a solemn procession. This vision gives rise to the Dominican tradition of concluding each day by singing the great Marian anthem Salve Regina. As the Salve is sung, the friars are blessed as a symbol of Mary’s intercession on behalf of our preaching.
~ Fr. Michael