During our formal meals at the Dominican House of Studies, we have a reading during part of the meal. Last night, we began reading the Lives of the Brethren, which is a whole host of stories about the founding of the Order, St. Dominic (1 and 2), Bl. Jordan, the development of the Order, and the departure of the brethren through death.
The whole work begins with a ‘tribute’ to the Blessed Virgin Mary describing how the Order of Preachers came to be due to her powerful intercession. It is a beautiful story, and is still true in our own day and age:
“It is clear from a careful study of holy Scripture, that the blessed Virgin is a compassionate advocate and powerful helper of mankind. By her prayers the fire of God's wrath kindled against sinners is tempered lest they perish, and countless blessings are showered down upon the world. Rightly therefore is she compared to a cloud between the consuming fire of God's justice and guilty man, softening by her tender influence the heat of his wrath. She is a vessel of loving kindness; and God allows his ire against sinners to be appeased through her and pours forth by her the waters of his compassion in blessings. One of the examples of this is the fact, revealed to many of God's servants, that this great Order was raised up by Almighty God's mercy for the salvation of souls, through her all-prevailing intercession.
Before the Order [of Preachers] had as yet sprung up, a certain monk, a man of upright and holy life according to the rule of his Order, during three whole days and nights was rapt in ecstasy, scarcely giving token of feeling or life. While his brethren and bystanders were considering what should be done, he regained consciousness as if waking from a deep sleep. When all asked in wonder what had been amiss, and whether he had seen any marvel, he gave no reply but this: ‘I was a little while in ecstasy,’ whereas he had been so during three days and nights, nor would he for a long while mention what had been shown him. Some years later, when our Order had obtained a sure footing, and our brethren were scattered abroad on their ministry, two of them chanced to come into the neighborhood to preach. On beholding them this monk began to make diligent enquiries as to their Order, name, and manner of life, since their habit was new to him. Their preaching being over, he drew them aside, and summoning other wise and sober persons, spoke thus to them: ‘I feel, brethren, that the hour is come for me to reveal the secrets which the Lord was pleased in his goodness to unfold to me and about which I have hitherto been silent, for I now see that they have come to pass.
During the time that I was caught up in rapture I saw our Lady, Mary the Mother of God, during those three days and nights, upon bended knees and with clasped hands, pleading with her Son on behalf of mankind, and beseeching him to forbear yet a while that the world might repent. But although during all that time he spoke never a word, at length upon the third day he yielded and made answer: 'My own Mother, what can I, or what ought I to do further for the race of men? I sent them patriarchs for their salvation, and for a brief space of time they gave ear unto them; I sent them prophets, and for a while they did penance. After that I myself went unto them, and I gave them apostles, but me they crucified and them they killed. I have since sent them martyrs, confessors, and doctors, and many more, yet despite their toil the world has not amended; nevertheless, at thy prayer -- for it is not beseeming that I deny thee aught -- I will send unto them preachers and men of truth, through whom the world shall be enlightened and reclaimed. If it so prove, it is well; but if not, there remains no further remedy, but I will myself come in judgment and be avenged upon them.’”
May the Lord continue to raise up “men of truth” in the Order of Preachers “through whom the world shall be enlightened and reclaimed.”
Our Lady, Queen of Preachers, pray for us!