DOMINICAN SISTERS OF SAINT CECILIA CONGREGATION
From the Desk of Mother
Ann Marie Karlovic, O.P., Prioress General
Dear Friends, It is wonderful to share with you, in this Jubilee edition of Veritas, our joy in celebrating the 800th anniversary of the Dominican Order. From the earliest days of our community, when our four foundresses first arrived in Nashville in 1860, St. Cecilia has possessed a “Dominican heart.” We are told in the writings of Mother Frances Walsh, one of those foundresses, that as the four of them worked and planned for the opening of the Academy, they reflected on the history and spread of the Order and saw their new Nashville foundation as part of that history. She wrote: “The wonders achieved by the Order had never before impressed the minds of this little band as at the moment at which they were about to commence the new enterprise which they fondly hoped and prayed would ever tend to the honor and glory of God.”She went on to reflect on the fact that, at St. Cecilia, “action and contemplation were [again] about to be intermingled…” She called this a “happy combination” which characterizes all true Dominican life. In preparing this Jubilee Veritas, we have welcomed the opportunity it gives us to reflect on the history of our Order and the wonders God has worked through Dominican men and women during the past 800 years. Though the specific needs of the Church have changed over time, the constant Dominican plan of life has
been that “happy combination” of prayer and action; love for Christ and the fruit of that love; dedication to the Church and zeal for her mission. We could not let this 800th Jubilee pass without inviting you to participate in some way. We hope the selections and the photos in this special Veritas will allow you to enter into the Dominican memory and experience something of the treasures it holds. It is a great heritage that we have received from St. Dominic and those who have continued to live it and hand it on through the centuries. One wonders what the “secret” of such longevity is. A hint of the answer lies in the foundational documents of the Order, as far back as 1221. Here, Dominicans are encouraged to be: “Fully engaged in proclaiming the Lord”1 so that they might be “of use to the souls of others.”2 This being “fully engaged” has a deeper secret, however; for the typically Dominican manner of being fully engaged and of use means much more than simply getting things done. We who are Dominicans today have as our example men and women who knew who they were, and were unafraid to trust the God who had called them. They were convinced that it was not just they who were acting, but the Lord who was acting in and through them. The love that filled them wasn’t simply their own love for those they served; it was God’s love for the world. Fidelity to that “happy combina1 cf. Honorius III, To All the Prelates of the Church, February 4, 1221. 2 cf. Primitive Constitutions, Prologue. Photo at left: Father Bruno Cadoré, O.P., 87th Master of the Dominican Order during his visit to St. Cecilia Community in 2012. Father Bruno is the 86th successor of St. Dominic. The Dominican Sisters are joining with Father Bruno and all the friars, nuns, sisters, and third order Dominicans around the world in celebrating the 800th Jubilee Anniversary of the founding of the Dominican Order.
Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia
tion” of prayer and action has borne this fruit in Dominican history. Please join us in celebrating this Dominican Jubilee. May all of us together, in whatever our vocations, allow God’s love to be at work in us, and to touch the lives of all those whom He entrusts to us each day. God bless you,
Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia Congregation 801 Dominican Drive, Nashville, TN 37228 Phone: (615) 251-0053 Fax: (615) 259-0176 Mother Ann Marie, O.P., Prioress General General Council: Sister Mary Angela, O.P. Sister Mary Sarah, O.P. Sister Ann Hyacinth, O.P. Sister Anne Catherine, O.P. Advancement Office: Sister Mary Angela, O.P., Director of Advancement e-mail: email@example.com Paige Matthews, CFRE, Development Director e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: (615)251-0053 Vocations Office: Sister Peter Marie, O.P., Vocations Director e-mail: email@example.com Phone: (615) 256-0147 Contributing Photographers: Sister Mary Justin, O.P. Sister Helen Marie, O.P. Map, p. 2: Sister Amata Christi, O.P. Editorial Committee: Sister Elinor, O.P. Sister Dominica, O.P. Sister Scholastica, O.P. Cover photo: The image on the cover is the frontispiece of a Book of Collects printed and illustrated by the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena of Stone, England, in 1871, for the use of the Prioress Provincial. Photo by Father Lawrence Lew, O.P.
Burning as a Torch for the Salvation of the whole world
R D ominican ree T The
The brethren were gathered around their dying leader, speaking in hushed tones. Their eyes were red, and occasionally one of the younger friars would let out a muffled sob. Their father had been with them such a short time, and now he was leaving them forever. Never again would they arrive at choir before dawn, only to find him there already (as indeed he had never left). Never again would they hear his strong voice encouraging them to chant the praises of God “More strongly, brothers!” Fortiter, fratres! Never again would they see his paternal blessing shining in his eyes as they told him of their apostolic labors, or the gentleness that emanated from his face as he corrected their faults. Never again would they see him light up with a supernatural joy when told
Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia
that the convent was out of bread or some other necessity, or when being insulted by some angry townsman. With gloomy thoughts such as these, the brethren were feeding their sore hearts, when suddenly a voice rang out with all the good cheer of a man on the way to a banquet:
Do not weep. I shall be more use to you and bear more fruit for you after death than I ever did in life. At Dominic’s command, the brethren began the prayers for the dying, and as they recited the words, “Come to his aid, saints of God. Hasten, angels of the Lord. Receive his soul and offer it before the face of the Most High,” Dominic gave up his spirit. 1 It was the sixth of August, 1221. When Dominic died, the Order of Preachers he had founded was less than 10 years old. Its Constitutions had been confirmed by Pope Honorius in 1216, just five years before the founder’s death. Although the Order was so new, young (and not-so-young) men were flocking to it, and houses were being established
across Europe, as far as Scandinavia in the North and England in the West. Monasteries of nuns in France and Rome had also been formed under the protection of Dominic’s friars. And while these friars mourned the death of Dominic as their spiritual father, they did not pause on the path on which he had set them. They had a clear mission and a solid framework in which to pursue it, and pursue it they did, as we will see in the pages following. Who was this man Dominic, the source of an explosion of apostolic
liness. Although he did indeed progress in holiness, as all around him could see, his life was not destined to remain in the quiet of the Cathedral chapter. Dominic was chosen by his Bishop, Diego d’Azevedo, to be a companion on a special mission that involved traveling through areas of Spain and France in which the Albigensians, an unorthodox Christian sect, had done great damage to the people’s faith. Diego and Dominic were greatly moved by the needs of the people, and as they passed through these troubled lands, they did what they could to correct the errors into which the faithful had fallen. They began to develop the idea of a company of clerics devoted to preaching, who could travel the towns of Europe on foot, and preach the Catholic faith to all those who had been led astray. Bishop Diego died before this idea had developed, but the seed remained with Dominic, who fed it with constant prayer, weeping for those who did not know Christ or had rejected his Church, and begging God “for the gift of true charity capable of laboring for and procuring the salvation of men.”3 Already Dominic had begun to attract other generous men to his ideal, when he went to Rome in 1215 to seek the Church’s confirmation for his company of preachers. He was instructed to choose from one of the existing rules, and he and his men quickly selected the Rule of Saint Augustine, which Dominic had already long observed as a canon. In 1216, Pope Honorius III gave formal approval to an Order “that to shine. Those with whom he lived, would be in name and in fact an orincluding his bishop, recognized “his der of preachers.” Dominic sent out humble heart and extraordinary holi- his newly formed band, two by two, to evangelize the cities and towns ness.”2 of Europe. The work of “the Holy No doubt Dominic could have Preaching” continued and grew, with lived out his life in this quiet and ordered way, daily progressing in ho- Dominic’s death in 1221 slowing activity, of holiness and preaching? He was born in 1170 to Jane of Aza and Felix de Guzman, in Caleruega, Spain. After his parents, Dominic’s first teacher was his priest-uncle, to whom he was sent at the age of seven, in order that he could receive the initial education that would prepare him, eventually, for the priesthood. He went on to study in the city of Palencia, where he completed the study of liberal arts and philosophy preparatory to theology. In due time, the young man was ordained, and soon began to exercise his priestly duties as a canon regular at the Cathedral of Osma. As a canon, Dominic chanted the Divine Office with the other clerics associated with that cathedral, administered the sacraments, studied the Word of God, and prayed. It was particularly in this last activity that Dominic, in spite of all his self-effacement, began
it not at all. The words of John the Baptist, “He must increase; I must decrease,” capture well the spirit of this founder. The one who is to be preached is everything; the preacher himself is nothing. He is the laborer who says at the end of the workday, “I am a useless servant. I have done no more than is required of me.” And yet the laborer deserves his wage, and the preacher the unspeakable joy of participating in Christ’s work of salvation. Dominic fades from our sight, not because he is less present, but more. Dominic lives in each of his sons and daughters, and each of them lives in him. They share in their father’s zeal for souls, his sorrow for sin, his love for Christ, his joy in the Gospel, and Dominic continues to bear fruit in each of them, as indeed he promised to do. 1 M.-H. Vicaire, O.P., Saint Dominic and His Times, translated by Kathleen Pond (Green Bay, WI: Alt Publishing, 1964), 374. 2 Blessed Jordan of Saxony, Libellus, in Saint Dominic: Biographical Documents, edited by Francis C. Lehner, O.P. (Washington, D.C.: Thomist Press, 1964), §12 3 Ibid., §13. nashvilledominican.org
M B ranches
A Single Tree any with
From the beginning, the friars preachers associated themselves with groups of women who were likewise touched by the preaching and example of Dominic. Even before the friars had been formally established, Dominic had formed a community of nuns in Prouihle, France. Not long afterward, lay men and women also became associated with the work begun by Dominic. These are the foundations of what today are known as the branches of the Dominican Order. The four branches are the friars (both priests and brothers), the nuns, the sisters, and the lay men and women. What unites these friars, nuns, sisters and laity is more than simply a "shared project." Rather, they are one because they share the same father, inheriting from him his longing to proclaim to the world the love of Christ and the joy of the Gospel. The four branches stem from a single root, that holy man of God, Dominic de Guzman.
Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia
by Reverend Alfred Wilder, O.P. Province of St. Martin de Porres
The way of life which St. Dominic and his early clerical companions left to be followed by the priests of his Order is composed of various elements of the Christian life in general. First, there was the life of intense liturgical prayer in which he had participated in a community of canons gathered about their bishop in Osma in Spain. The second foundation of clerical Dominican
Archbishop Carlos Alfonso Azpiroz Costa, O.P.
life consists in a specific realization of the apostolic ideal, which consists in mobility, poverty, and above all the preaching of the salvation of the world in Christ. This ideal was a part of the evangelical account of the
The Cooperator Brothers public life of Christ and his calling together and guidance of the Twelve. Its appeal and its reenactby Brother Ignatius Perkins, O.P. ment were strong when St. Dominic Province of St. Joseph moved from Spain to defend the Catholic faith in southern France. In His love for the Church in The appeal was felt even among every age, Christ calls persons to the schismatic and heretical groups take care of His people. Before time among whom Dominic felt called began, every one of us was called to to preach. In Dominican apostolic be a Dominican Cooperator Brother life, however, all is integrated with for this time, for this age, and for the sacramental eucharistic shape the world in which we live. We as of the Catholic Church. The final Dominican Cooperator Brothers foundational element of Christian responded to the radical call that life which characterizes the clerievangelization evokes: to believe and cal form of Dominican activity is then to proclaim that every person study. Dominican study is primarily born into the world is worthy of our concerned with the truth revealed by respect and of our unlimited love God, but it includes the whole ambit regardless of the reasons for their of spiritually significant philosophidistress or their station in life. We cal and historical knowledge. Such responded to the radical call to open study was particularly necessary in our hearts to those who seek healing the time of St. Dominic, given the challenges he faced in the anti-Catholic movements which flourished in his days and given the new awareness of the thought of Aristotle and of neo-Platonism. St. Dominicâ€™s ideal is clearly rooted in the circumstances and needs of his time, but it is clear as well that it has been deeply attractive and useful for the Church in circumstances following his times. Indeed, those striving to live that life today deeply sense its enduring value in the life of the Church. As one reflects on the Orderâ€™s 800 years of fidelity, deepened in times of suffering, purification and renewal, this judgment Brother Ignatius Perkins, O.P. seems altogether well-founded.
photo: Aquinas College
The Way of Life of Dominican Priests
and hope; to open our hearts to heal the sick, the broken and the abandoned in their darkest hour wherever they may be and wherever they call home. We freely embraced the call of our Holy Father St. Dominic to be “consolers of the sick and those in distress.” (LCO, No.9)1 The need for evangelists in the work of the New Evangelization in the universal Church is urgent. It is the central ministry exclusively assigned to the Order of Preachers since 1216. It must also be the principal ministry of Dominican Cooperator Brothers, but now in a new time and in a world in need of hope and healing. 1 Friars of the Order of Preachers, The Book of Constitutions and Ordinations of the Brothers of the Order of Preachers. (Rome: Curia Generalitzia, 2001).
missioned entirely for spreading abroad the word of God, fulfil their vocation primarily by preaching. The nuns, while commissioned by God primarily for prayer, are not for that reason excluded from the ministry of the word. For they listen to the word, celebrate it and ‘keep it in their hearts’ (Lk. 10:39) and in this way proclaim the Gospel of God by the example of their life. “The friars, sisters and laity of the Order are to preach the name of the Lord Jesus Christ throughout the world; the nuns are to seek, ponder and call upon him in solitude so that the word proceeding from the mouth of God may not return to him empty, but may accomplish those things for which it was sent.”
The Dominican Nuns by Sister Mary Thomas Michalek, O.P. Monastery of the Blessed Sacrament Farmington Hills, MI
The Nuns of the Order have an integral place in the Dominican Family, not only because they were founded by St. Dominic 10 years before the friars, but also because to this day they, like the friars, profess obedience to the Master of the Order. The Nuns’ Fundamental Constitution (1.11) quite succinctly captures the whole concept of their role in the Mission of the Order: “The brethren of the Order, com-
Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia
photo: Father Lawrence Lew, O.P.
(cf. Is. 55:10) Quoting Fr. Aniceto Fernandez, OP “. . .their contemplation and their life, inasmuch as they are truly and properly Dominican, are from the beginning and by their very nature ordered to the apostolate which the Dominican Family exercises as a whole and in which the fullness of the Dominican vocation is to be found.” (Presentation of new Constitutions (LCM) to the Nuns by Fr. A. Fernandez, 1971) The Dominican Sisters by Sister Mary Madeline Todd, O.P. Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia Nashville, TN
The active sisters in the Order of Preachers strive to live the contemplative life of Saint Dominic and his family, giving the “fruits of their contemplation” in many forms of service to their neighbors. For its direct link to the preaching mission of the Order, teaching, both in the classroom and in the many settings of the Church and the world in which they are called to serve, has been one of the primary ways Dominican Sisters have engaged in a charism well-summarized by Fr. Guy Bedouelle, O.P. as “the grace of the Word.” Although Saint Catherine of Siena was not a religious living in community, but rather a lay Dominican who lived with her family, her life of receiving God’s Word in prayer and attentive listening to God in the needs of others is a
photo: St. Gertrude School
model of the life of active Dominican Sisters. Sisters of the Order of Saint Dominic around the world share the common bonds of prayer and study, which mutually enrich their pursuit of truth in charity; life in community where bonds of charity are deepened; and apostolic giving which enables the graces received to bear fruit for the glory of God and the salvation of souls. Whether Dominican Sisters are teaching in the classroom; spreading the gospel by diverse forms of apostolate; or serving the sick, the poor, or those in any need, they remain rooted in the Dominican charism in their desire to praise, to bless, and to preach.
The Dominican Laity by Mr. Brad Schepisi, O.P. and Mr. Ken Auerweck, O.P. St. Cecilia Chapter of the Dominican Laity Nashville, TN
Father Dominic called each member of his family to the sacred duty of contemplating the love and mercy of our God. Whether priest, reli-
Mr. Ken Auerweck, O.P.
gious, or laity, it is the Dominicanâ€™s vocation generously to give to others the fruits of that contemplation. While each branch of the Order brings the joy of the Gospel into the world, it is the lay Dominican who, though his heart resides in the cloister, has his feet firmly planted in the world. Lay Dominican men and women live and work in areas of society where friars, brothers and sisters might not be able to reach. We are the example in our workplaces, neighborhoods, and parishes.Â The vocation of the Lay Dominican is to remain immune from the glitz and glamour of this world. Rather, devoted to prayer, study, and community, he receives that which the world most needs, the love of Christ. Whatever his apostolate, he is tasked above all with communicating that love through the witness of a holy life. When we pray the Liturgy of Hours, whether with the sisters and friars, or at home, we are in communion with the Order around the world. The Dominican Order is like a bucket in the hands of the Lay Dominican. He kneels before the altar collecting from it living water. Then into the world he carries these buckets like emergency rations in the midst of a great battlefield. Let us pray that through the intercession of our holy father Saint Dominic, God will increase the capacity of each Dominican soul, in order to bring these living waters to a thirsting world.
Prouilhe is founded. Bishop Diego and Dominic establish a religious house for women converts to Catholicism.
Dominic disperses the first 17 brethren from Prouilhe to the major university centers of Europe.
Jordan is elected the second Master General of the Dominican Order. Jordan had only been in the Order for a little over a year when he attended the Chapter in Bologna that elected him Master General. Jordan traveled widely and attracted a thousand novices to the Order, wrote an account of the origins of the Order (the Libellus), and cared tenderly for all of his subjects, both friars and the nuns.
The Church in the 1200’s faced the challenges that accompanied the growth of new urban centers, with varied effects on the social order and on the life of the Church. It was a time that saw an influx of people from rural areas into cities, increased trade, development of new social classes, spread of new ideas and rise of universities; while also being marked by poverty, human misery and lack of education. Within the Church various movements emerged which saw the opportunity to preach – with or without the approval of the local bishop. Some heretical sects, such as the Albigensians, despite their dangerous doctrinal errors, impressed the destitute of the cities with their willingness to accept extreme asceticism. It was in such a context that the Order of Preachers was born.
Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia
Pope Honorius III approves the creation of a new order, which “will be called, and will be an Order of Preachers.”
The Primitive Constitutions are approved. Along with the Rule of St. Augustine, the new constitutions provided the legislation that would structure Dominican life.
Our Lady appears to Reginald of Orleans. Reginald, a canon lawyer, was drawn by Dominic’s preaching in Rome to enter the Order. Becoming deathly ill, he was healed through the intercession of the Blessed Mother. In a vision she presented him with the white scapular, which was to become a distinctive element of the Dominican habit, a pledge of her motherly protection.
The Fourth Lateran Council begins. This Council established a principle that bishops may share the office of preaching in their dioceses, to ensure that the faithful are fed solid teaching. Dominic’s request a year later to establish an Order of Preachers found support in this concern of the Church to nourish the faithful with solid preaching.
Thomas Aquinas is sent to the University of Paris, where he is taught by Albert the Great.
Lives of the Brethren is written. Humbert of Romans, fifth Master General of the Order, requested reports of works and miracles associated with the brethren to be sent to him. These were compiled and published by Gerald de Frachet as Lives of the Brethren.
Peter of Verona is martyred by heretics on the road. Peter had been appointed Grand Inquisitor by Gregory IX in 1232. His preaching against the heretics culminated in his being murdered with the blow of an axe, inscribing on the ground with his own blood the words Credo in unum deum.
Thomas Aquinas establishes a studium (a center of studies for the brethren of the Order) at Naples, where he will preach and teach until his death in 1274.
HYACINTH OF POLAND (1185-1257): Hyacinth, the “Apostle of the North,” evangelized his native Poland, where he made the first Dominican foundation in 1222, as well as in Prussia, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Russia. Hyacinth and his brother Ceslaus witnessed one of Dominic’s greatest miracles, when he raised to life the young nephew of a Cardinal. The brothers were clothed and instructed by Dominic himself. In Kiev, the brethren faced a terrifying onslaught of Tartar invaders. With the city destroyed and the monastery under siege, Hyacinth was about to flee with the Blessed Sacrament, when he heard a voice saying, “Hyacinth, my son, do you abandon me to certain destruction? Take me with you.” Looking around, Hyacinth saw an immense statue of the Blessed Mother, too heavy for even a crew of men to carry. The statue again spoke to him, “My Son will make the burden light for thee.” Hyacinth picked it up and easily carried it to safety.
Venturino of Bergamo begins travelling and preaching. Venturino’s preaching brings peace between some warring political factions in Northern Italy. They follow him as penitents as he continues preaching throughout the peninsula.
Margaret of Castello dies. “Little Margaret” was born a hunchback, blind, and lame. Rejecting their physically disabled child, Margaret's parents forced her into a hermitage, later abandoning her in the city of Castello. She became a Dominican tertiary, and was known for her sweetness of disposition, even when others were cruel to her.
John Tauler, the preacher of the Rhineland mystics, dies in Strasbourg. His sermons will be influential in both Protestant and Catholic Germany for many years.
Catherine of Siena (1347-1380) is mystically espoused to Christ who sends her out to perform the works of mercy in Italy.
The Order begins to divide into provinces, which will number 18 when complete.
Meister Eckhart, the first of the Rhineland Mystics, begins to preach in Strasbourg to a convent of nuns. Eckhart will become famous for his emphasis on the individual soul’s journey to God, including the practice of detachment and union with God. His sermons stretched the ability of the German vernacular to speak of God, so while inspiring others to a deep interior life, Eckhart was considered suspect by authorities. He submitted all to the judgment of the Church before dying in 1324.
The Church in the 1300s was struck with calamities: the Black Death decimated the population, the papal establishment at Avignon and the Western Schism split obedience and undermined the authority of the Church, and both the One Hundred Years' war and the Crusades destabilized the West and the East. The Dominican Order faced repercussions from these events, and so was called to a renewal and reform from which individuals, the Order as a whole, and the Church would benefit. Dominicans were called to renewal in Christ so that they could be mediators of peace.
Henry Suso writes The Little Book of Eternal Wisdom. Suso was a student of Eckhart and also a spiritual director or friend to nuns formed in Eckhart’s mysticism. The Little Book of Eternal Wisdom is a series of meditations on the soul’s pilgrimage with the Lord that reflects on the Passion, the soul’s duty to love God, and the finality of heaven and hell. Suso’s writings manifest his ardent longing for God and His glory.
Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia
content to live as a Dominican in the home of her parents where she served her family by day and spent her nights in intense prayer, Catherine was being prepared for the great mission that would take her far from Siena. The fire of her love for Christ blazed outward in a zeal for souls that took her to hospitals, prisons, scaffolds, and royal courts. Catherine’s extensive correspondence has left us a rich and engaging view of her personality. Most famously, by way of letters and then in person, she exhorted, cajoled and reprimanded the Supreme Pontiff, “sweet Christ on earth,” to return to Rome and end the Avignon papacy. A treasured gift left us by Catherine of Siena is her account of her mystical conversations with God the Father recorded in The Dialogue.
— St. Catherine of Siena
“Love does not stay idle."
John Dominici founds, in Venice, a house of strict observance for the friars, as well as Corpus Domini, a monastery of strict observance for the nuns.
CATHERINE OF SIENA (1347-1380): Though
Raymond of Capua is elected Master General. After serving as confessor to Catherine of Siena, Raymond begins a reform to combat growing laxity within the Order due to the turmoil caused by the plague. His reform establishes houses of regular observance in cities that do not already have a Dominican priory, and he asks friars to enter them willingly. Other houses are allowed to continue to live as they have, but are not allowed to receive new members. nashvilledominican.org
Juan de Torquemada is made Master of the Sacred Palace. This office was established when St. Dominic lectured on St. Paul in Rome. After him, a Dominican has always been appointed papal theologian. Juan de Torquemada was known for defending papal primacy when many believed a Council had greater authority, for defending the Eucharist against a schismatic sect, and for diplomatic missions between England and France to end the Hundred Years’ War.
The Rule for the Third Order is approved. This rule, a forerunner to modern-day “active sisters,” established a formal relationship between women who followed the Master of the Dominican Order and lived either in convent communities without enclosure or in their own homes. Members of the Third Order were free to do apostolic work and received direction from Dominican friars in their area.
Alvarez of Cordova dies. Alvarez erected the first Stations of the Cross and may have been the first to formalize the devotion into the 14 we know today. This devotion was soon spread by the Franciscan Order.
Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia
Clara Gambacorta dies. Clara, inspired by Catherine of Siena, entered religious life after being widowed at 15. She helped to found the monastery of St. Dominic in Pisa. This monastery of strict observance was known for its example of religious discipline and charity, and Clara for her forgiveness of even her brothers’ assassins.
The Church of the 1400s was faced with heretics and schismatics who threatened the orthodoxy and the unity of the Church. Despite ongoing wars in the East and West, the cultural and political situation of Western Europe welcomed greater trade and travel, and an increase in the practice and patronage of the arts and letters marked the beginning of the Renaissance. The Dominican Order would support the Church in the Office of the Inquisition, while also raising up artists who preached in paint, glass, and words.
John Capreolus completes his reflection and commentary on the thought of Thomas Aquinas. This text will form a basis for all subsequent Thomistic commentators.
Antoninus founds San Marco in Florence. Zealous and devoted in his own living of Dominican life, Antoninus was given charge of the Order’s convent in Florence. A beloved prior, he was concerned for the formation of the friars under his care, becoming a great reformer more by example than by words. It was he who asked Fra Angelico to paint the renowned frescoes in this house of the Dominican reform. Appointed Archbishop of Florence, Antoninus was known for his service to the poor and sick, and his untiring work for peace and justice in civil disputes.
one could paint like that without first having been to heaven.”
1400s James of Ulm dies. This Dominican friar, an accomplished craftsman in the art of stained glass, was even more deeply accomplished in his spirit of humility and obedience. It was first of all fidelity to his Dominican vocation and the desire to give glory to God through use of his gifts that were the focus of James’ service in the Order. Known for his sanctity and the miracles attained through his intercession, Blessed James is buried in the Church of San Domenico in Bologna, the very church which also houses the tomb of St. Dominic.
and his brother Benedetto were attracted to the Order of Preachers by the wisdom and prudence of John Dominici. Guido received the habit and the religious name John of the Angels, but he would be known ever after as Fra Angelico. An artist of considerable talent, he would leave his mark on the Order and on the Church by way of painting frescoes. His works adorn the halls of the convent of San Marco in Florence and several
chapels and churches in Rome. Replete with a sublime theology, his paintings are among the most lasting sermons of the Friars Preachers. St. Antoninus, a friend and collaborator of Fra Angelico, remarked that “no
First Confraternity of the Rosary is founded by Alan de la Roche. A vision of Our Lady giving the Rosary to Dominic inspired Alan de la Roche to spread this devotion throughout the world. It has also inspired many works of art depicting Dominic receiving the Rosary from Mary’s hands.
FRA ANGELICO (13871455): Guido de Vicchio
Pius V is elected Pope. Anthony Ghislieri was a poor shepherd boy who entered the Dominicans and became Father Michael. After the death of Pius IV, he was elected unanimously as pope. He was known for his religious zeal, his rigorous moral standard for clergy and laity alike, and for refusing to give up his Dominican habit as pope. To this day, the pope wears white because of him. Pius V declares St. Thomas a Doctor of the Church.
Francisco de Vitoria is installed as chair of theology at the University of Salamanca. Vitoria taught many Dominicans at Vallodolid and at Salamanca. He is also called the â€œFather of International Lawâ€? for his influence on the Dominicans who would defend the rights of Indians in the New World. His works included treatises on the right to life and a proper understanding of marriage.
use granted: Dominican Province of Toulouse
Thomas de Vio Cajetan is elected Master of the Order. Cajetan was an able teacher and commentator on Aquinas. He was a staunch defender of the papacy against conciliarism (the belief that councils are of greater authority than the pope), which had spread as a reaction to the Avignon papacy and the Western Schism, and he assisted in examining the teachings of Martin Luther.
The Church of the 1500s was troubled by corruption from within and opposition from without. The Renaissance effected a change in the morality of some churchmen, and the emphasis on the arts came at the high cost of the abuse of indulgences. This sparked criticism of the Church and led to the Reformation. Fiery Dominican preachers defended the Church while great writers and scholars assisted in the CounterReformation. Towards the end of the century, an emphasis on exploration and observation would allow the missionary charism of the Order of Preachers to turn towards the New World.
Bartolome de las Casas returns to America after his Pentecost conversion of 1514.
Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia
Sessions of the Council of Trent are held. The council fathers included 18 bishops and 27 theologians from the Dominican Order.
Dominican preaching of the rosary results in the approval of the second part of the Hail Mary by the Catechism promulgated at Trent.
The Battle of Lepanto is won by the Italian papal navy against the Moors. Pius V had led the people of Rome in praying the rosary for victory. This popularized the devotion of the Rosary and served to plant it deep within traditional Christian piety.
1572 use granted: Dominican Province of Toulouse
CATHERINE DE RICCI (1522-1590): At a young age, Catherine cultivated a strong devotion to the Passion of Our Lord and she could often be found praying at the foot of a crucifix. In 1535 she entered a Dominican convent near Florence. Here her meditation on the Passion reached new heights as she mystically accompanied Our Lord on His path to Calvary. In 1542 during a period of intense prayer, she received the wounds of the stigmata as well as other wounds of the Passion. Her mystical experiences did not, however, distract her from attending to practical matters of life. Catherine de Ricci was appointed as Prioress of her convent and was known as a loving and wise advisor to all who sought her counsel.
John of Cologne is martyred. This Dominican priest brought the Blessed Sacrament to priests in the Netherlands, mostly Franciscan, who had been imprisoned for professing the Catholic faith. After great torture, they were all martyred together.
1500s Louis Bertrand dies. This friar was known as a gentle novice master and a fearless missionary. He is often depicted in art with a cup out of which snakes are crawling, to indicate an attempt by enemies to poison him.
photo: National Museum of Fine ARts, Argentina
BARTOLOME DE LAS CASAS (14741566): When he was 18, a Spanish law student named Bartolome de las Casas made his first trip to the New World, to labor on his familyâ€™s lands. After being ordained back in Spain, he returned again to the New World as a gentlemanpriest. Bartoleme was more and more disturbed by the treatment of the native peoples, and his own complicity in these evils, until finally, moved by the preaching of a Dominican friar on the evils of the encomienda system, he renounced all his property and asked to be admitted to the Order. Friar Bartoleme spent the rest of his long life laboring, both in the New World and in the Old, for the welfare of the native peoples in whose oppression he had once participated.
Alphonso Navarette is beheaded while ministering to a Christian community in Japan.
John of St. Thomas dies. This Dominican friar is responsible for the Thomistic mystical theology centering upon the indwelling of the Holy Trinity in the individual soul. His works, especially On the Gifts of the Holy Ghost, would influence later Dominican spiritual writers such as Ambroise Gardeil and Juan Arintero.
Antonin Cloche is elected Master of the Order. Antonin led the Order for 34 years, longer than any other Master. An able administrator, he had the Constitutions rewritten and reissued for the men, as well as having Constitutions for the active sisters and the Third Order written. He also encouraged study and preaching, and fought against Gallicanism and Jansenism (a rigorist movement that undermined the power of grace).
photo: Father Lawrence Lew, O.P.
Robert Nutter is hanged, drawn, and quartered in Lancaster.
In the Church of the 1600s controversy raged. Protestant and rigorist doctrines provoked responses by the Dominicans to defend the faith of the Church. Gallicanism (French Nationalism) and Anglicanism required the Church to assert and define papal authority. Elizabeth I reigned over the Church of England and her penal laws created martyrs in Britain and Ireland. The European expansion into the New World and Asia provided more opportunities to preach to all nations, and the witness of the deaths of many Dominican martyrs, native and missionary, helped to establish the Church in these new lands.
1696 Diego of Yanguas, advisor to St. Teresa of Avila, dies. Diego was also notable for defending the rights of the natives in the Philippines.
Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia
Stephen Thomas SouĂŤges completes and publishes Annee Dominicaine. A study of Dominican history, this 12 volume work collected all the legends and stories of the lives of the Dominican saints, martyrs, and other notables.
Lopo Cordozo is martyred in Cambodia.
Six Dominicans are martyred in Guadalupe, Mexico.
Antoine MassouliĂŠ publishes a systematic refutation of Quietism. The heresy of Quietism, condemned in the late 1600s, supposed that Godâ€™s grace makes the exercise of human free will unnecessary. Francis de Capillas is killed. Francis, the protomartyr of China, and his companions in martyrdom (through 1748, there were 133 Christian martyrs), were known for converting fellow prisoners by their joy in the midst of torture, peace during imprisonment, and devotion to prayer that gave witness to the reason for their hope.
use granted: Dominican Province of Toulouse
ROSE OF LIMA (1586-1617): As missionaries to the Far East were receiving the crown of martyrdom, a young Dominican tertiary, half a world away in Lima, Peru, was offering prayers and mortifications for their fidelity. Rose of Lima, to the ordinary observer, lived a quiet, serene life as a Dominican in the house of her parents, as was the custom at the time. She spent her days partly in prayer, and partly in serving the poor, but always kept her heart united to God in prayer. This exterior simplicity, however, belied the depth of Rose’s fervor and devotion to God. Her mystical experiences included a betrothal to Christ and, because of her great devotion to the Blessed Mother, she was often granted favors through her hands. Rose died at the age of 31 on August 24, 1617.
1600s MARTIN DE PORRES (1579-1639): The virtue most manifest in the life of Martin de Porres is humility. Martin was the son of a Spanish nobleman and a freed slavewoman, but Martin’s childhood was made difficult because of his father’s refusal to claim Martin as his son. These sufferings, by God’s grace, served to make Martin more and more reliant on his Heavenly Father. From a young age, Martin was known for his deep, contemplative prayer life, a loving union with God that he sought to deepen in the Dominican Order. As a laybrother, Martin’s humility was forged in the furnace of loving service. Martin constantly sought the hardest, lowliest, most menial tasks for himself. By his love of God and love of neighbor, Martin found the most direct route to sanctity, and was renowned as a worker of miracles even during his life. nashvilledominican.org
The Civil Constitution of the Clergy forces priests in France to swear an oath of allegiance to the government, effectively forcing the Church to submit to the state. Catherine Jarrige, a Third Order Dominican, hides priests who refuse to take the oath of allegiance, and develops a method of smuggling them out of France during the Reign of Terror.
Louis de Montfort dies.
Charles Rene Billuart completes his theological commentary on the Summa Theologia. This work was not only an explanation of Thomism, but applied the methods and principles of Thomas to Church history and modern moral concerns.
Marie Poussepin founds the Sisters of Charity of the Presentation of Tours. This Congregation was not formally affiliated with the Dominican Order until the 1800s, but it was the first congregation of truly active sisters with the Dominican charism.
The church of the 1700s encountered revolution in academic, political, and social life. Descartes’ philosophy radically affected the humanities; science and technology began to progress rapidly; the encyclopedists believed that all knowledge could be catalogued and accessed at will. Meanwhile, the political and economic worldview increasingly focused on individual gain, pragmatism, and utility.
Peter Sanz and his companions are martyred in Vietnam.
Charles Louis Richard publishes his Universal Dictionary of Sacred Sciences. This work is the precursor to Catholic encyclopedias.
Jean-Baptiste Labat publishes his travelogue of the West Indies. Labat was an avid missionary with a scientific mind. His observation of the American islands under French control was not limited to memoirs or interactions with the people, but combined history, sociology, and botany and other natural sciences. He would go on to write about Africa using other missionaries’ accounts.
Dominicans were not immune to the effects of intellectual and political upheavals. The order struggled to answer the intellectual challenges of the 1700s, and in time it was able to engage the new sciences, to explain and witness to human rights, and to understand man’s relationship to the government and economy.
Cecilia Mayer, a Dominican nun, dies. Cecilia had “offered herself in prayer and penance for the survival of the Church under the Enlightenment onslaught.” (Benedict Ashley, The Dominicans, 183).
In France, the Constituent Assembly formally abolishes religious life for that country. France was the cradle of the Dominican Order, and the loss of religious life in France was an introduction to the effects of secular humanism and the Enlightenment throughout the world. Dominicans in France who did not flee to other European countries were imprisoned, tortured, or killed.
Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia
Tot u s Tuus
LOUIS DE MONTFORT (1673-1716): De Montfort began his work as a diocesan priest in Paris. He spent his days and nights preaching parish missions throughout the French countryside. Louis joined the Third Order of St. Dominic and tirelessly promoted devotion to the Mother of God, in particular through the recitation of the Rosary and through Marian consecration. In our own times, renewed interest in de Montfort’s work has come largely as a result of the motto of Pope John Paul II, Totus Tuus, taken from de Montfort’s prayer of Marian consecration: “I belong entirely to you, and all that I have is yours. I take you for my all. O Mary, give me your heart.”
1700s artist: Monica Liu, University of Dayton Marian Library
DOMINICAN MARTYRS IN EAST ASIA: “For who would not be so stirred by these magnificent triumphs that they would not feel themselves incited, as by a sting, to set out on the apostolic way that our brothers have pointed out to us by coloring it with their blood?” (Antoninus Bremond, 63rd Master of the Order) The Dominican Order claims many martyrs in East Asia during the 1700s, 1800s, and 1900s. Blessed Francis de Capillas and Alfonsus Navarrete and their companions “shed their blood for the sake of the Gospel in Japan and China at various times during the 17th and 18th centuries.” The 117 Martyrs of Vietnam canonized by John Paul II include 59 members of the Dominican family, one of whom was Bishop Ignatius Delgado, a Spaniard who preached in Vietnam for 50 years before being executed in 1838.1 1 Quotations from the Supplement to the Liturgy of the Hours for the Order of Preachers. nashvilledominican.org
France is re-established as a province of the Order.
use granted: Dominicaines de Bethanie
Jean Joseph Lataste dies. This Dominican was known for his prison ministry in France. He founded the Dominican Sisters of Bethany, who continued this ministry.
Ignatius Delgado is martyred.
Edward Dominic Fenwick, an English Dominican, founds the St. Joseph Province in the U.S.
Mother Margaret Hallahan founds the Congregation of Stone, England, a Third Order Regular community. The Constitutions written by Mother Margaret, based on those used by the friars, would be adopted by many Dominican Third Order Regular communities in England and the United States.
The Church in the 1800s faced civil, religious, and intellectual unrest in Europe, while receiving new life from the preachers, teachers, and martyrs of the Americas and the Far East.
Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia
Henri-Dominique Lacordaire returns to France as a professed Dominican and founds the first community at Nancy in 1843.
St. Catharine Congregation is founded in Kentucky. Four American women answered the call of Father Samuel Wilson to join the first native foundation of Dominican sisters.
One of the most famous Churchmen of the 1800s, John Henry Newman, famously asked whether the Dominican Order was not “a great idea extinct,” because there were few provinces and even these were badly organized. Henri Lacordaire, however, found that this great idea could flourish again in post-revolution France. During this century, the Order was re-established in France, reorganized in Spain, established in the United States, and strengthened by martyrs all over the world. The Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia are founded in Nashville, Tennessee when four sisters are sent from St. Mary’s in Somerset, Ohio in response to a request by Bishop James Whelan, O.P.
Sister Frances Walsh, one of the foundresses of St. Cecilia
Aeterni Patris is published by Leo XIII. This encyclical praised Thomism as a philosophy and a theology of perpetual relevance to the Church. It was instrumental in the revival of Thomistic scholarship in the following decades.
The Leonine Commission is formed to publish the complete and definitive editions of St. Thomas Aquinas’s works.
Mother Dominic Clara Moes dies in France. When she was very young, Anne Moes received a private revelation that she was to pray and suffer for the revival of a great religious order in the Church. Though she steadfastly undertook this mission in total faith, for years she did not know the order’s identity. It was only after the reestablishment of the Order of Preachers in France by Lacordaire in 1843 that she recognized this as the fruit of her prayer. She herself was eventually called to found a Dominican Second Order cloister. Mother Dominic Clara lived a long and holy life, devoted to the Order which owes her so much.
Marie-Joseph Lagrange founds St. Stephen in Jerusalem (the Ecole Biblique). Father Lagrange was one of the most notable scripture scholars of the 19th century and a founder of the historical-critical method of studying Scripture.
The Dominican Fathers and some lay teachers at Arcueil College in Paris are martyred. They were arrested during the socialist-revolutionary siege that established the Commune of Paris. They were ordered to walk, one by one, from one prison to another, and during that walk were killed.
In 1822 Provincial Samuel Thomas Wilson, O.P., publicly invited young women of the area to consider establishing a community of Dominican Sisters. Mariah Sansbury (later, Sister Angela) was one of the first to respond. She eventually became the first prioress of this new community, which was the first foundation of Dominican Sisters begun in the United States. This congregation joined with six other Dominican communities in 2009 to become The Dominican Sisters of Peace.
Sister Angela Sansbury, O.P.
use granted: �cole Biblique, private collection
DOMINICANS IN AMERICA: The first Dominican missionaries to America arrived in the 1500s. There were a few Dominican martyrs in present-day Florida and Texas. Antonio de Montesinos, who had preached forcefully against the oppression of native peoples in the Caribbean, was part of an attempted foundation in what is now South Carolina. However, it was not until the 1780s that Dominicans came to America to stay. The son of a Maryland family, descended from the early colonists, entered the English Dominican Province in 1788. This friar, Edward Dominic Fenwick, with the support of Bishop John Carroll, established the first American Dominican Province, near Springield, Kentucky.
Chinese missions are suppressed by the Communist government.
Dominican Congregation of St. Rose of Lima is established by Mother Alphonsa (Rose) Hawthorne for the care of terminally ill cancer patients.
Henri-Dominique Pire receives the Nobel Peace Prize for his work with war refugees.
Pier-Giorgio Frassati, a Dominican tertiary, dies of polio. At Pier-Giorgioâ€™s funeral in Turin, Italy, thousands of the poor processed with the coffin. Frassatiâ€™s generosity extended not only to monetary charity, but to friendship with all he met.
The Third Order Rule for the Dominican Laity is revised.
The General Chapter in River Forest, Illinois revises the Dominican Constitutions to conform with the decrees of the Second Vatican Council.
The Church of the 1900s faced the ideologies of Nazism, Communism, and secularism, which all proposed views on the world, humanity, and freedom in direct opposition to Christianity. In the latter part of the century, the Second Vatican Council was called to renew the Church by returning to her sources, and to update in response to the needs of the modern world.
The Dominican Constitutions are revised in line with the 1917 Code of Canon Law under Master General Martin Gillet. Buoneventura Garcia de Paredes (Master General from 1926-1929) is martyred in the Spanish Civil War.
Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia
Vatican II opens. Over 50 Dominicans served as bishops and periti at the Council. Yves Congar in particular made substantial contributions to the documents on the Church, ecumenism, and the laity during the course of the Council, which closed in 1965.
Father Hyacinth-Marie Cormier, Master of the Order, obtains pontifical status for the College (now University) of Saint Thomas Aquinas in Rome (the Angelicum).
In this century, the Dominican Order renewed its commitment to education at all levels. Martyrs from the Order continued to witness to truth and charity. Dominican theologians and bishops advised the Church during the Council. The Order looked to its own founding, and sought to renew Dominican life in a manner that would best enable it to serve in the 20th century and beyond.
The Jerusalem Bible (first French edition) is published by scholars working at the Ecole Biblique.
MOTHER ALPHONSA (ROSE HAWTHORNE LATHROP)(18511926): Daughter of American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne, Rose, along with her husband, George Lathrop, converted to Catholicism in 1891. After being separated from her husband, and then widowed, Rose devoted herself to the poor, taking into her home in New York women suffering from cancer. In 1900 the Archbishop of New York approved a new community dedicated to the care of those with incurable cancer. The community became affiliated with the Dominican Order, and Rose became Mother Mary Alphonsa, O.P. Her community, under the patronage of St. Rose of Lima, continues her work today.
St. Catherine of Siena is declared a Doctor of the Church.
use granted: Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne
BEDE JARRETT (1881-1934): An English Dominican, Bede Jarrett reestablished the Dominican Order at Oxford for the first time since its dissolution by King Henry VIII. In 1921 as Provincial of the Order in England, Jarrett founded Blackfriars Priory at Oxford. Father Bede was also renowned for his preaching, travelling throughout England and even to America on his preaching tours. Father Bedeâ€™s devotion to St. Dominic and his love of the Order are evident in his biography of St. Dominic.
Timeline references: Ashley, Benedict (O.P.). The Dominicans. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1990. Hinnebusch, William A. (O.P.). Dominicans: A Short History. New York: Alba House, 1975. nashvilledominican.org
Pope John Paul II canonizes 120 martyrs of China, including the Dominican protomartyr of China, Francis de Capillas.
photo: Matt Hadro/CNA
Dominicans in Iraq: In 2014 the so-called Islamic State began to seize cities in Iraq’s Nineveh Plain. Dominicans had been in this area continuously since 1750, and had roots there dating back to the 1200s. Sisters and friars, along with thousands of other Christians, were forced to flee rather than convert to Islam or pay tribute to The Islamic State. As the persecution continues, Dominicans continue to witness steadfastly to truth and charity in the midst of suffering and devastation in Iraq. For example, the Dominican Sisters of Saint Catherine of Siena, having themselves been exiled from Mosul and Qaraqosh, serve their fellow Iraqi Christians living in exile, establishing schools and orphanages, and giving of themselves in countless ways. An Iraqi friar, Fr. Najeeb Michaeel, has worked to save Iraq’s ancient Christian heritage by spiriting
Iraqi Dominican Sister Diana Momeka testifies before the US House Foreign Affairs Committee on the persecution of Christians in Iraq.
As the Order of Preacher celebrates 800 years of history, it now finds itself embracing a New Millennium. Led by the presence and the zeal of their founder, Dominicans know that a Jubilee is not an occasion for resting content. Instead it is a moment to be renewed in the energy of St. Dominic: an energy born of prayer, love for Christ, Who is the Truth; and a yearning to communicate the Truth to others, so that they can come to know and love Christ.
Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia
photo: Bozica Babic photo: Alice Fordham/NPR
Pope Benedict XVI canonizes Francis Coll y Guitart, Dominican priest and founder of the Dominican Sisters of the Annunciation.
2000s thousands of ancient manuscripts out of Iraq to save them from destruction. Within the Order, both friars and Dominican women’s communities in other countries, including the United States, have been active in providing spiritual and material support to their brothers and sisters serving and suffering in Iraq. The spirit of St. Dominic reaches through the centuries to embrace God’s people with His merciful love and compassion.
2016: Still reach the Pope Francis recently met with Dominican friars gathered in Rome for the Order’s General Chapter. The Holy Father’s message was one of encouragement, gratitude, and especially of challenge to all Dominicans to be what we are called to be, in a world that is thirsty for God: Dear Brothers and Sisters, ….This year has a special meaning for your Religious Family, upon the completion of eight centuries since Pope Honorius III confirmed the Order of Preachers. On the occasion of the Jubilee, which you celebrate for this reason, … And this eighth centenary leads us to remember the men and women of Faith and Letters, of contemplatives and missionaries, martyrs and apostles of charity, who took God’s caress and tenderness everywhere, enriching the Church and showing new possibilities to incarnate the Gospel, through preaching, witness and charity: three pillars that guarantee the Order’s future, keeping the freshness of the foundational charism. God stimulated Saint Dominic to found an “Order of Preachers,” preaching being the mission that Jesus entrusted to the Apostles. It is the Word of God, which burns within and spurs [one] to go out to proclaim Jesus Christ to all peoples (cf. Matthew 28:19-20). The Founding Father said: “First contemplate
ent to ospel
and then teach.” Evangelized by God, [then] evangelize. Without strong personal union with Him, the preaching might be very perfect, very reasoned, even admirable, but it will not touch the heart, which is what must change …. To transmit the Word of God more effectively requires witness: teachers faithful to the truth and courageous witnesses of the Gospel. A witness incarnates the teaching, makes it tangible, [attractive], and leaves no one indifferent. He adds to the truth the joy of the Gospel, of knowing we are loved by God and object of His infinite mercy (cf. Ibid., 142). Saint Dominic said to his followers: “Let us go out with bare feet to preach.” It reminds us of the passage of the burning bush, when God said to Moses: “put off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground” (Exodus 3:5). The good preacher is conscious that he moves on holy ground, because the Word he takes with him is sacred, and so are its recipients. Not only do the faithful need to receive the Word in its integrity, but also see the witness of life of one who preaches (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 171). The Saints obtained abundant fruits because, with their life and mission, they spoke with the language of the heart, which knows not barriers and is comprehensible to all.
Finally, the preacher and the witness must [live in] charity. Without it, they will be controversial and suspicious. Saint Dominic had a dilemma at the beginning of his life, which marked his whole existence: “How can I study dead skins [i.e., parchment texts], when Christ’s flesh suffers?” It is the living and suffering body of Christ that cries to the preacher and does not leave him in peace. The cry of the poor and the discarded awakens, and makes one understand the compassion Jesus had for peoples (Matthew 15:32). Looking around us, we see that today’s men and women are thirsty for God. They are the living flesh of Christ, who cries “I thirst” for a genuine and liberating word, for a fraternal and tender gesture. This cry challenges us and it must be the one that supports the mission and gives life to pastoral structures and programs…. The more we go out to slake the thirst of our neighbor, the more we will be preachers of that truth proclaimed out of love and mercy, of which Saint Catherine of Siena speaks (cf. the Dialogue, 35). … May Our Mother, the Virgin of the Rosary, intercede for you and protect you, so that you are courageous preachers and witnesses of the love of God. Thank you! nashvilledominican.org
M ercy EnduresForever His
By Reverend Brian Mullady, O.P., Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus
Pope Francis has proclaimed the year 2016 as the Year of Mercy. By a happy coincidence it is also the 800th anniversary of the foundation of the Dominican Order. The two are certainly connected. Both are about and committed to evangelization. Mercy in human terms is the sympathy of heart for the sufferings of another which leads us to consider their sufferings as our own. Reason and faith are clear that mercy is a virtue. The ancient Greek philosophers contrasted mercy with two other human experiences. The vice which is contrary
Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia
to mercy is not injustice, but rather envy, which is the sorrow at the real good of another simply because it rivals one’s own. Its opposite would therefore be sorrow at the real evil of another (mercy). Envy is also contrasted with nemesis, which is sorrow at the undeserved good of another. As a sin against the order of reason, envy denies both of these tendencies which are good and in accord with the natural law. If one is merciful, one desires to repel the evil of others. The evil of others can be considered in two ways: evils which are temporal and evils which are moral or sins. Moral evils are worse because virtue leads us to happiness and integrity of soul whereas vice or sinful habits lead us to unhappiness since they involve a lack of integrity of soul. A merciful person seeks to resolve both moral and temporal evils, but in different ways. Reason and philosophy would lead a person to seek this resolution. Both reflect an attribute of God. The Relation between Charity and Mercy In Christianity, however, the concept of pity or mercy takes on a more urgent and central aspect. Charity, which is love of God, is the primary virtue at the basis of all virtue, whether acquired by human practice or infused by God. The companion of charity when it comes to others is implemented principally in mercy. This is even true of the love of neighbor which is expressed in external works by
Out of envy, Cain kills Abel
mercy. Thomas Aquinas says: “The sum total of the Christian religion consists in mercy, as regards external works; but the inward love of charity, whereby we are united to God preponderates over both love and mercy to our neighbor.” (Summa Theologiae, II-II, 30, 4, ad 2) The reason mercy is the prime Christian virtue is that it is not only other-oriented but is also characteristic of the way God treats every human being. Charity is greater because God is above us, but supplying the defect of someone who is suffering comes next. Here we apply the attitude of God towards his creation: because he is higher and better than all created things, he loves to supply what is deficient in his creation. His nature is to share the bounty of his goodness because of the creative power of his love and grace. Mercy must be applied to both temporal and spiritual suffering. The traditional way to do this is expressed in the Christian teaching about the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. The Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it this way: The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our
neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead. (CCC 2447). Dominicans have been actively involved in performing both spiritual and corporal works of mercy since the foundation of the order.
There is a story told about St. Dominic that as a young man he sold his books during a famine to feed the poor. He is reputed to have said: “Would you have me study off these dead skins [the vellum pages of his books were treated animal skins before the discovery of paper] when men are dying of hunger?” Catherine of Siena was so solicitous for clothing the naked that she was tempted to give a passing beggar her own clothes and go naked. This beggar was Christ who mystically clothed her in a red garment from his wounded side so that she never suffered from cold or heat again in her life. Margaret of Castello, though a dwarf, blind and a hunchback, made it her special joy to visit the convicts in prison and convert them to religion by her joy.
Margaret of Castello ministering to prisoners
The Order has always been even more involved in the spiritual works of mercy. These are oriented to relieving the moral sufferings we still inherit from the Original Sin by teaching the truth and inviting to conversion of heart. These sufferings include things like ignorance, malice, the desire to dominate and manipulate others, and concupiscence. The cure for these involves a deeper truth and so a deeper mercy. They are implemented in the spiritual works of mercy: instructing the ignorant, counseling the doubtful, admonishing sinners, bearing wrongs patiently, forgiving offenses willingly, comforting the afflicted, and praying for the living and the dead. The spiritual works of mercy are at the basis of the whole preaching mission of the Order and so Dominicans have always been missionaries of divine mercy. It should be obvious that these involve a spiritual misery, not a physical one. It should also be clear that the cure for these miseries should not ignore evil or the need of conversion on the part of another. In other words, though the cure results from love, it does not dispense with truth. Pope Francis has established over 1000 priests to be special Missionaries of Mercy during this jubilee year and many friars from all four of the American Provinces have been chosen for this mission. These missionaries are given special faculties to absolve from rather rare, but especially heinous sins such as assaulting the Pope. But they are also commissioned to encourage people to
return to the sacraments, especially confession, though a clear presentation of the truth through preaching. This corresponds to the mercy taught by Christ and was the original impetus for the life and apostolate of the early friars when St. Dominic founded the Order. Theirs was a mission to present the truth of the Catholic faith clearly and intelligently and to call for a conversion to love through grace. Pope Francis is reflecting the purpose the Order has had for 800 years when he states: “Let us not forget that mercy is doctrine. Even so, I love saying: mercy is true.” (The Name of God is Mercy)
D ominican oy J
The following essay by Father Paul Murray, O.P., is included in Veritas with his permission. Father Murray is an Irish Dominican author, poet and preacher, and a professor at the Angelicum in Rome.
The central passion in the life of St. Dominic was to preach a truth he could not keep to himself. And he preached it by word and by example. But also – to a remarkable degree – he preached it by joy. "[H]is face was always radiant," we're told, and "By his cheerfulness he easily won the love of everybody. Without difficulty he found his way into peoples' hearts as soon as they saw him." Blessed Cecilia tells us that "A kind of radiance shone from his forehead and between his eyebrows, which drew everyone to venerate and love him. He always appeared cheerful and happy." "...Sometimes people, even Catholics," writes the Dominican, Fr. Vincent McNabb, "are frightened away from the spiritual life. They think it aims at making us miserable." But McNabb himself, when he entered the Dominican Order as a young man, began immediately to breathe in an atmosphere that was altogether different. "I was immensely surprised and delighted," he tells us, "to find that sadness was never considered one of the products of the religious life ...if you hadn't joy, out you went!" Of all the early friars perhaps the most spontaneously good-humoured and exuberant was Blessed Jordan 30
Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia
of Saxony, Dominic's first successor as Master. Almost an entire section of the Vitae Fratrum is devoted to a number of his witty replies. Everyone, we're told, longed to hear him. And he attracted an enormous number of vocations to the Order. Once, in 1229, when he was on his way to Genoa, bringing with him a batch of new Dominicans, one of the group, during night prayer or Compline, started laughing, and then all the rest joined in "right merrily." A senior brother reprimanded them at once, and by using signs, ordered them to stop. But this "only set them off laughing more than ever." As soon as Compline was over, Jordan turned to the friar in question, and said: "Brother, who made you their master? What right have you to take them to task?" Then, addressing the other brothers, Jordan said: "Laugh to your hearts' content ... and don't stop on that man's account. You have my full leave, and it is only right that you should laugh after breaking from the devil's thraldom ... Laugh on, then, and be as merry as you please." ...Throughout the preaching ministry of Dominic, a vision of Gospel joy had come to define itself over against some very grim and very gloomy notions indeed. So Jordan of Saxony's instinctive refusal here to silence the brothers' laughter, was very probably, I would say, no accident. ...In The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena, God the Father speaks at one
point about the Dominican Order, declaring that, in itself, it is “wholly delightful." Dominic, He tells Catherine, built his "ship" both "very spacious" and also "very happy." What’s more, the Order, he declares, is not tied "to the guilt of deadly sin." So "both the perfect and the not-so-perfect fare well on this ship"! A no less enthusiastic statement concerning the Order occurs in a letter composed by Jordan of Saxony. Just over fifty of Jordan's letters have survived, and the word "joy" occurs on almost every page. Most of these letters were sent by Jordan to his beloved Dominican friend, the enclosed contemplative, Diana d'Andalò. In one letter, addressed not to Diana only but to her entire community at Bologna, Jordan quotes a phrase from Matthew's Gospel about joy: "Enter into the joy of your Lord" (Mt.25:21). The meaning of the phrase is clear enough. But Jordan, in a moment of sheer Dominican bravado and enthusiasm, decides – for the space of a paragraph – to change or to extend its meaning. For him "the joy of the Lord" has somehow become one thing with the happiness of belonging to the Order of Preachers. And so he says "Enter into the joy of your Lord," meaning by "Lord" that form of the grace of the Lord which is the Order itself. Enter into it, Jordan says, into that life of obedient communion, and "all your sorrow shall be turned into joy, and your joy no-one can take from you"!....
...One phrase associated with Dominicans since the 13th century (and which, by now, has almost become a Dominican motto) is the Latin phrase “contemplata aliis tradere”: “to pass on to others what we ourselves have contemplated.” But the "alii" – the others – are not simply the passive recipients of Dominic's graced preaching. Even before the actual moment of preaching (when Dominic becomes a kind of channel of grace) these people – the afflicted and oppressed – inhabit the inmost core of his spirit. They form part even of the "contemplata" in contemplata aliis tradere. Jordan of Saxony writes: God had given [Dominic] a special grace to weep for sinners and for the afflicted and oppressed; he bore their distress in the inmost shrine of his compassion, and the warm sympathy he felt for them in his heart spilled over in the tears which flowed from his eyes.
...The wound of knowledge that opens up Dominic's mind and heart in contemplation, allowing him with an awesome unprotectedness to experience his neighbour's pain and his neighbour's need, cannot be accounted for simply by certain crowding memories of pain observed or by his own natural sympathy. The apostolic wound Dominic receives, which enables him to act and to preach, is a contemplative wound. "...Whenever Dominic laughed, [Jesus declared in a vision to Mechtild of Magdeburg], he did so with the true delight of the Holy Spirit." The statement is memorable. It alerts us to something at the very heart of the Dominican charism. As does also this radiant statement from Vincent McNabb which can serve to bring our brief reflections on Dominican joy to a close:
bread with us and make merry; and we too make merry, with the merry-making of God within us.
When our heart is a home of prayer, God is so much at home with us that all the Blessed Trinity are there, too. They break nashvilledominican.org
800 Years of Dominican Study and Preaching By Reverend Andrew Hofer, O.P., Province of St. Joseph
Seventh Way of Prayer of St. Dominic
“First the bow is bent in study, then the arrow is released in preaching.” This line from the first Dominican cardinal of the Church, the thirteenth-century biblical scholar Hugh of Saint-Cher, sums up the relationship between study and preaching among Dominicans. The Order of Preachers would have no preaching if it were without study. Without the archer’s bending the bow, the arrow would go nowhere. As Bl. Humbert of Romans, the fifth Master of the Order commented, “Study is not the end of the Order, but it is an utmost necessity to that end, which is preaching Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia
and working for the salvation of souls, for without study we can do neither.” It was St. Dominic who placed great importance on study for the Order’s purpose of drawing people to Jesus Christ, our Savior. Rather than emphasizing manual labor, as did so many monastic founders, St. Dominic wanted his brethren to study so as to be learned preachers. Intellectual work, rather than physical work, would be the primary ascetical practice to discipline the mind and body. According to a Dominican adage, the wood of the desk is the wood of the cross! Study is so important to the Order’s mission of preaching that it is compared to prayer. Just as we are commanded in 1 Thessalonians to pray unceasingly, so too we read in the tradition that Dominicans are to study assiduously. Bl. Jordan of Saxony, the second Master of the Order, was once asked whether it was better to spend time in prayer or in studying Scripture. He replied, “Which is better, only to drink or only to eat? Both have to be done alternately; the same for these activities.” By this dedication, Dominicans are meant to be consecrated in the Truth lovingly learned. The saints of the Order testify to this sanctification through study for the Order’s mission of preaching. Take, for example, the three Dominican saints among the thirty-six Doctors of the Church. St. Albert the Great was a holy polymath who is now recognized as the Universal Doctor and Patron of the Natural Sciences. His student St. Thomas Aquinas surpassed his teacher to become the Church’s Common Doctor, and has a pre-eminent status in the Catholic Church among all other teachers. Not only has there been a continuous reflection on his
thought through the centuries, he is the only theologian specified by name for priestly formation in the documents of the Second Vatican Council and in the 1983 Code of Canon Law. The third Dominican Doctor, St. Catherine of Siena, is one whose study was not at the university, but who well exemplified the Order’s charism of study and preaching. St. Catherine heard God say about St. Dominic: “…he took the light of learning in order to stamp out the errors that were rising up at that time. He took up the task of my Word, my onlybegotten Son. Clearly he appeared as an apostle in the world, with such truth and light did he sow my word, dispelling the darkness and giving light.”
In fact, over the past eight hundred years many Dominicans have shown the power of the Order’s combination of study and preaching in a remarkable way, in order to dispel darkness and give light. Here are yet a few more examples. St. Raymond de Peñafort, the third Master of the Order, is the patron of canon lawyers for his incomparable contributions to organizing the laws of the Church in the thirteenth century. The fifteenthcentury Blessed Fra Angelico used his study in the arts to preach holiness through extraordinarily radiant artwork reckoned to be among the finest accomplishments of the Italian Renaissance. His contemporary St. Antoninus of Florence was renowned for his work in moral theology and economics. Bartolomé de las Casas in the Americas and the contemporary sixteenth-century Thomistic school in Salamanca, Spain made significant contributions in studying and preaching international justice and human rights. The servant of God Marie-Joseph Lagrange founded the École Biblique in Jerusalem in the late nineteenth century, leading the beginning of Catholic biblical exegesis faithful to the Magisterium while taking into account modern historical, literary, and archeological methods of biblical research. Down through the centuries, the Catholic Church has indeed fostered the Dominican charism of study and preaching and benefited from a Dominican confidence in Veritas, the Order’s Latin motto of Truth. One recognition of this is that the Theologian of the Pontifical Household (“Master of the Sacred Palace” to use
the traditional term) is always a Dominican friar. Whether in the Vatican or in missions far away from Rome,
Dominicans are to be, like St. Dominic himself, in medio Ecclesiae (in the heart of the Church) through their study and preaching. The Dominican charism of study and preaching has served as inspiration for many congregations of Sisters dedicated to the apostolate of Catholic education. For example, the Dominican Congregation of St. Cecilia, founded in 1860, has shown how St. Thomas Aquinas’s expression, contemplata aliis tradere (to hand on to others the things contemplated), can be done in a variety of settings. From the establishment of St. Cecilia’s Academy in Nashville in 1860 to twenty-first century missions both in the United States and overseas, the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia express the Order’s charism of study and preaching through their work in education on the primary, secondary, and college levels, as well as through youth and adult faith formation. If Dominican study and preaching can be compared to the two actions of an archer, i.e., bending the bow in study and releasing the arrow in preaching, then what is the archer’s target? It is you! All of this study and preaching for the past eight hundred years is for the salvation of souls. It is so that your soul, and all those touched by Dominican lives, may be pierced by the Truth and thus may come to know and love God in whom is all our delight.
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Burning as a Torch for the Salvation of the whole world