Her Doctrine and Morals

Feast of Saint Dominic

4 August 2019


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Indulgences for the Feast of the Portiuncula

Dear Friends,

In the Franciscan Order, we speak of Saint Dominic, the founder of the Order of Preachers, as "Our Father St. Dominic." We are as sister orders in the Roman Catholic Church. It is related that: "One night, while St. Dominic was praying in the church of St. Peter in Rome, he saw the Blessed Virgin introduce two men to Our Lord Who was angry with the world, and observed that these two men calmed His anger. He recognized himself as one of these men, and when he was going into a church on the following day, he saw the face of the other under a beggar's cowl. Running up to this poor man, who was none other than St. Francis of Assisi, he embraced him warmly, saying, 'You are my companion, come with me. We must keep together, then no man will be able to prevail against us.' St. Antoninus, of the Order of Preachers, relates how St. Dominic, after long entreaty, obtained the coarse rope that our Father St. Francis wore round him. He girded himself with it, and up to his death never left it off. The friendship of the two holy patriarchs continued among their children." St. Dominic died at Bologna on August 6, 1221. His friend, Gregory IX, canonized him three years later.

The Order of Friars Preachers was founded about the year 1215. Instead of manual labor, as practiced by the Cistercian monks, he required his friars to work with their minds by preaching and teaching. At the end of the twelfth century, the Church in France was ravaged by the Albigensian heresy, a doctrine which was not only entirely unchristian but which, in addition, constituted a social evil. Effective measures were required to be taken to combat it. Where others had failed, St. Dominic succeeded.

The Church is The Mystical Body of Jesus Christ. As with a physical body, in the Mystical Body, there are parts, organs, and systems that all work harmoniously for the good of the entire body. All the approved religious orders in the Church have been inspired by the Holy Ghost, and have been given a specific function or duty to perform in the Church. All of the religious make vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience; but each has a specific charisma, function, and duty. There should never be any competition, quarreling, or fighting between the various orders in the Church. However, history shows that this is not nor has not always been the case — much to the spiritual shame of the various religious involve.

St. Dominic and his order are known for their learning and poverty. As we have mentioned, it was through his efforts that the heresy of Albigensianism was overcome. It is St Dominic's order that has given to the Church many great intellectual works. Perhaps, the best known of these is the Summa of St. Thomas Aquinas.

If we think of each person in the Mystical Body as a part, we might think of each religious order as an organ or even a system of the body, like a heart or circulatory system. The heart is never working against the brain, nor is the nervous system ever at odds with the circulatory system. In a physical body, we see that physical parts are renewed and replaced like our skin cells. In the Mystical Body, we see that members grow old and die, but that they are replaced by new members. The Mystical Body is a living Body — just as Jesus is the Living Son of God.

We are to recognize and honor the work that the saints have done before we were brought into existence in the Mystical Body. Their works have been completed. The glory that they gave to the Church and God is cause for us to rejoice in, but we must not forget to do our own part. We, like them, are members of the Mystical Body. We should ask ourselves what we are doing for the honor and glory of God and His Church. Do we always strive to live up to the vows that we made at our Baptism? Do we promote or encourage others to enter the Church? Do we promote and support vocations to the priesthood and religious orders? Perhaps a young soul only needs a little encouragement from us? We should never try to force a vocation, but that does not mean that we should not promote one either.

We may not be called upon to do "great" things in the Church, but we are called upon to do our part. As with the physical body all the parts are needed and have their function to perform, so it is in the Mystical Body. We must all strive to do our part in honoring God and the Church by a holy life, and then do what we can to maintain the Church and build Her up. We must continue this right up to the very end just as the organs in the body continue to function as long as they can — even when other organs have failed.

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