Over 800 years ago in Spain, a virtuous young man was on his way to becoming a priest. This young man was raised in a very religious family; his mother had been beatified, one of his brothers had been beatified, and another brother became a priest. As he traveled, he began to realize that many supposed Catholics did not fully know their faith. He sought after answers to this issue and found that many of these Catholics did not have righteous role models in the church. Inspired in part by this, he knew early on that he wanted to pursue a vocation that would allow him to give himself entirely to God. This man, Dominic De Guzman, set out to preach and teach the Word of God as a priest.
Dominic decided that he would allow God to speak through him as a priest. His preaching manifested into a passion, placed in his heart by God, for Veritas, or truth, and he went on to profess this truth to others.
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During this point in history, there was a heresy—the Albigensian heresy. It was problematic; it undermined and tried to condemn the physical aspect of our existence. While this seems absurd and questionable today, there could be an argument for the resurgence of this kind of issue in today’s world.
Do we really appreciate all life? Do we appreciate human life in the form of a child in the womb? Do we appreciate a life if we know, from ultrasounds and other technology, that it is already compromised when still in the womb? Do we really appreciate the life of a child that will likely have Down Syndrome? Would we love and encourage the growth of this child through our nourishment and love, even after birth and through the age The good God has destined for this particular child? Or do we very readily say, “This person is not worth the effort they will require.” This disheartening statement is a very Albigensian, heretical, and wrong teaching and pattern of thought.
Because this heresy was prevalent during Dominic’s lifetime, he was deeply and passionately motivated to go out and teach others the truth—the truth that would set them free. This truth, along with Dominic’s charisma, attracted a group of similarly passionate friars, who joined him in his triumphant mission to preach the truth. Being the joyful leader he was, he drew many others. This following eventually led him to ponder the possibility of founding another order in the church.
Dominic wanted to found his order with the motto of Veritas. So, he traveled to Rome to ask the Holy Father for special permission to establish this new family within the church. While he was there, he met another young man, named Francis, who had traveled there with a similar goal: to found another order. His would not be based on teaching and preaching the truth, but rather would focus on poverty.The legend of St. Francis’ and St. Dominic’s meeting in Rome holds that they both were seeking permission from the Holy Father to begin another religious order; both received their desired permission, and both went on to change the world.
For me, the Dominican spirituality fits perfectly. I like the true. I like the real. I like the incarnation aspect. I’m grateful that God gave me a body. I hope that I can use it well and that I can use it to glorify him. I’m grateful for the fact he has given us the Eucharist, and that we can receive him in Holy Communion. I ask myself, “How could I exist without Mother Mary to lead me? How would I know my spiritual motherhood on every single child that I could ever teach?” I find my answers through the Dominican spirituality.
As mentioned, the Dominican spirituality is out there for everyone. There is probably more laity in the Dominican spirituality than there are priests, brothers, sisters, and contemplative nuns. And yet, each aspect of those highlights the unity and togetherness of Dominican spirituality. The beauty of the Dominican spirituality will shine like the stars for all eternity because God blessed our father Dominic with an incredible desire for a holiness that shines throughout all the ages. And, the Dominicans have so many saints in heaven that are praying and pushing and pulling us throughout our lives.
So let us thank God for this beautiful spirituality, and let us remember to pray for our priests and religious as we pray for all of you.
Sr. Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz, OP is a Foundress and Vocations Director for the Dominican Sister of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. Her podcast “And The Truth Shall Set You Free” can be downloaded every Friday at 1:00 p.m. EST from iTunes. The podcast can be seen on YouTube at GoLEDigital.