“All my children, what I leave to you: Have charity, guard humility, and make your treasure out of voluntary poverty.” – St. Dominic
St Dominic was a canon at the cathedral in Osma, Spain. He was traveling with a bishop in France when he encountered the who believed in the Albigensian heresy. This heresy essentially said that all material creation was evil. St Dominic began to preach against this deeply entrenched heresy and the Order of Friars Preachers was born out of his desire to use persuasion and not force to bring people back to the faith. He was a contemporary of St. Francis, and they both envisioned and brought forth these mendicant orders.
It is interesting to think of this in regard to our contemporary time when begging is awash in shame. It was not exactly thought of with high regard back then, but it is worse now. Begging reminds me that those who give do not do so from some vaunted position, but in connection with the heart of Christ… and that is the dynamism of the humility found in this kind of life. As ever in our Christian journey, we are asked to empty ourselves for Jesus, and in doing so we must give, even give until it hurts – that is the Cross. Giving and receiving are in balance, with God found in the tension between them. St. Dominic knew this I think and he offers us, along with St. Francis, a great source of inspiration and prayer to live a deeper life. If we look to St. Dominic’s words, he reminds us to make an actual treasure out of voluntary poverty. Yes, he was addressing his friars on his deathbed, but can we not all make the Christian case for a simpler life, living so simply so that others may simply live?
In any case, St. Dominic has a special place in my own heart. When I returned to the church in 1990, I was formed in a Dominican parish. The spirituality of the Dominicans means a great deal to me to this day, and thus this feast day means a lot to me. St. Dominic, pray for us, help us to know the endless chain of giving-receiving-giving that goes on and on and on in Christ.
Here is chant from Dominican Compline. (Night prayer.)