Dominicans: Term One / Week Three

Reading and answering question from: Donald J. Goergen O.P. St. Dominic: The Story of a Preaching Friar. New York, NY: Paulist Press, 2016.

This book gives you a good foundation for your essay on St. Dominic.  In responding to this question, however, please focus on Chapter 4, and be selective rather than comprehensive. 

Following the meeting with Pope Innocent in 1215, the scope of the OP mission grew from a diocesan program to an organization that now spans the globe and even though Dominic would lead the order in its infancy and early growth, I believe that he always viewed himself as the “humble servant of preaching.” (p.56)  “For him it was always the preaching, not the preacher, who was never to get in the way of the Word.” (P.63)  From this view and mission, the order developed multiple elements and characteristics which are seen in the AOP.

Organization – The AOP maintains the structure of the order as established by Dominic.  “There existed in the Order the two primary instruments of governance: the general chapter, legislative in nature, and the head of the Oder along with local superiors, executive in character.” (P.87)  This also is evident in the AOP through the Master, Chapter, Houses, Priors, etc.

Study – “As witness to the value that Dominic placed on study, these first friars in Toulouse began to attend lectures.” (P.50)  “The preacher was to be an ongoing student of theology.  The order was to be an order of students.” (P.88)  As with Dominic, the AOP recognizes that any good preacher will be an educated preacher, so as to preach the truth and recognize error.

Dispersed – From Toulouse he sent the friars out.  “The decision to disperse the men was both to protect the preaching and to expand it.” (P.67)  “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?  And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’” (Romans 10:14-15)  The AOP is dispersed, even to far off lands like Oklahoma!

Rule – The rule for Dominic and his friars would be “that of St. Augustine.” (P.59)  The AOP also lives under an established rule, that guides daily life of prayer and study, which are set to enhance the preaching.

How did the life and work of St. Dominic lay a foundation upon which the Anglican Order of Preachers is built?  What elements or characteristics do you find in this chapter that you can see in our own Order?  Be specific, and give at least one reference, with page number or Kindle reference number, for each element or characteristic that you describe.

“To contemplate and to hand on to others the fruits of one’s contemplation,” (P.6/P.134) sums up what it means to be an active Dominican, which finds it roots in the Orders founder, who was “a man of prayer with a mission, a contemplative missionary.” (P.74)  Whereas other religious orders find their calling hidden behind the cloister walls, Dominic believed that the purpose behind the contemplative prayer was to be able to share what was learned.  “There could be no authentic contemplation without the handing on of it to others and vice versa.” (P.103)  Dominic “preached his prayer and prayed his preaching.” (P.102) 

To assist in his prayer, “Dominic trusted Mary in his prayer from the beginning.” (P.136)  “As Mary gave brith to the Word in her womb, so the Preacher gives birth to the Word in the world.” (P.136)  This deep devotion to Mary was of great benefit to Dominic and the Order and it is to her that the Order has been given over to for motherly care (cf. P.137)  

Contemplation with the assistance of Mary is and will be a great source of strength and intimacy with Jesus in my life.  As I pray / contemplate, if I will first walk with Mary, she will lead me to moments of great communion with Jesus.  Dermot Power, in The Spiritual Theology of the Priesthood (1998), discusses the works of Hans Urs von Balthasar.  Power writes, “Mary is the prototype of the Church’s responsive faithful love and is the real type and abiding centre of holiness which encompasses the Petrine and ministerial function within the Church.  According to Balthasar, the priesthood exists only to nurture, safeguard and make transparent this spousal love of Christ for his Church.” (P.50)  Where Power speaks of Church and Priesthood, I believe we can insert the word “preacher,” because the making known—or to use the words of Dominic: the “handing on”—of the message of the love of Christ is the raison d’être of preaching just as preaching is “the raison d’être of the Order.” (P.62)  If we are to hand on this message, we must first spend time in contemplation with Him who is Love.

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