Dt 6. 4-13; Ps 18; Mt 17. 14-20
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Itinerant: His Practical Approach
"If he hadn’t taken a trip with his bishop, Dominic would probably have remained within the structure of contemplative life. . .” so began a brief summary/1/ of St. Dominic. This year’s semi-continuous scripture readings are apt for the founder of the order of men and women, which bears his name, particularly the familiar words from Deuteronomy:
Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the Lord alone! Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength. Take to heart these words…Drill them into your children. Speak of them at home and abroad, whether you are busy or at rest.The key phrase is, Take to heart. This means personal appropriation not just memorization or mental knowing. Personal appropriation includes living one’s relationship with God our Lord. On that “trip with his bishop” Dominic noticed that was not happening.
Their trip took them to Spain’s home territory of the Albigensians, who lived a heresy with several earlier incarnations. They considered all material things to be evil. You can imagine the implications of such a principle: sacraments were evil; also the body--which meant procreation was evil and so was healthy eating. Their behavior flowed from their belief: the Albigensians did not believe a good God could create a world filled with pain and suffering. Purists--Albigensians called themselves the Pure--in any age have great difficulty being realists.
St. Dominic wanted to curb and correct this distorted view of God, the world and people. Preachers came and went, but many “traveled with horse and retinues, stayed at the best inns and had servants.”/2/ The Pure, of course, and others rejected them. So Dominic began to move about humbly with three Cistercian monks.
Cistercians, more often called Trappists, emphasized manual labor and self-sufficiency. This preaching effort, in imitation of the apostles, led to the Order of Preachers. Its membership seeks to keep alive Dominic’s ideal: “to pass on the fruits of contemplation.”/3/ This describes the vocation of most of the faithful in the church.
God calls less of us to focus our lives on contemplation only. Indeed, St. Ignatius of Loyola, born 270 years after Dominic had died, was very fond of Dominic. St. Ignatius recognized that contemplation is important and is the foundation of action. Long before Ignatius and his contemporaries/4/ coined the phrase “contemplatives in action,” St. Dominic lived it. Many of us here are called to live that way as well.
1. Saint of the Day, 08 Aug at AmericanCatholic.org.
3. The meaning of contemplata tradere.
4. Jerome Nadal, S.J., gave particular emphasis to this phrase in his recollection of St. Ignatius.
Wiki-image of El Greco's St. Dominic is in the public domain.