Man with a Mission
“Each saint is a mission”, wrote Pope Francis, “planned by the Father to reflect and embody a certain aspect of the Gospel”. Our saint today, St. Dominic, is a mission, with a mission. As we follow Dominic, he will teach us “to see the entirety of our lives as a mission”.
In 1204, at the age of 34, Dominic found his mission. He was on a journey from Spain through southern France. There in France he encountered a group of heretical teachers who had become influential in certain parts of the country. While in one area Dominic met a man who was deeply confused by the heretics. Dominic spent the whole night in discussion with him and by daybreak the man was confirmed again in the Catholic faith. From this meeting Dominic clearly saw his own mission: to preach the Gospel of Christ, battle the heresy of the Albigenses and gather around him a group of holy and learned teachers who would instruct those in error.
The Order of Preachers, or the Dominicans, was approved in 1216. Soon after, the friars were sent in all directions. Friaries would be established in Spain, France, England and Italy. Dominic was appointed master general of the order, and died a year later in 1221. This man with a mission had such a reputation for holiness that he was canonized only 13 years after his death.
The Dominican Order has not one motto but three mottos. Reflecting on these mottos, they offer us a great insight into the motivation and day to day activities of its members. The motto that is frequently cited is ‘Veritas’ (Truth). One is to embrace Christ, who is the Truth and to share his truths. A second motto is to ‘Contemplate and to hand on to others the Fruits of Contemplation’. The third motto is to ‘Praise, Bless and Preach’. St. Dominic carried with him the Gospel of Matthew. In that gospel he was guided by Jesus, the model for teachers and preachers
“We all need to see the entirety of our lives as a mission”. (Pope Francis)
Fr. Theodore Walsh, C.P.