"Go, sell what you have and give to the poor, then come and follow me!" Mt. 19:21

"Go, sell what you have and give to the poor, then come and follow me!" Mt. 19:21

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

St. Thomas recommends the Dominican life - Part III

See also
St. Thomas recommends the Dominican life - Part I
St. Thomas recommends the Dominican life - Part II

In this third post, we move from the bird's eye view of the first 412 questions of St. Thomas’s 
Summa Theologiae to his treatment of the diversities of life (active and contemplative). We recall that we are at the end of the Secunda Pars, which covers the ascent of the rational creature (i.e., man) to God. The first five questions of the Secunda Pars give us the goal of the ascent: happiness, or beatitude, in God. After covering the intricacies of that ascent that apply to all men, the last 19 questions of the Secunda Pars cover "acts pertaining especially to certain men." 

Skipping over the "diversity of gratuitous graces" (things like prophecy, rapture, tongues, and miracles), we come to the "diversities of life" in questions 179 through 182 and the "diversity of states of life" in questions 183 through 189. Under "diversities of life," question 179 is about the division of life into active and contemplative, question 180 covers the contemplative life, question 181 speaks of the active life, and question 182 compares the two. In this post, we will cover the first two of these questions. Note that under each question, which is really a topic, there are several articles to which we will refer, which are the real questions, as it were, of the Summa.

In question 179 there are two articles which ask whether the division of life into active and contemplative is fitting (article 1) and adequate (article 2). In the first article, St. Thomas cites St. Gregory, who speaks of the active and contemplative life as "a twofold life wherein Almighty God instructs us by His holy word." As we examine the division, it is important to remember that God's word is accessible to those in both forms of life: both have the same final end of happiness or beatitude in God. St. Thomas defines the division in this way: life is shown by movement or operation, and man's knowledge (his defining characteristic) is directed towards one of two movements: the knowledge itself of truth or external action, the former being contemplative and the latter being active. For Aquinas, this distinction is also
fitting because some are especially intent on the former and others on the latter.

Question 180, on the contemplative life, begins by asking whether the contemplative life pertains wholly to the intellect or to the affections as well as the intellect. While the essence of the contemplative life pertains to the intellect (as it is directed toward "knowledge itself of truth"), its beginning and end, he says, lie in the affections: it is motivated by the love of the Truth, and it ends with the delight experienced when that Truth is obtained. The affections are, therefore, involved in the happiness or beatitude toward which our whole life, especially in its contemplative aspect, is directed.

The next three articles of the question give us the prerequisites of contemplative life, which belong to it dispositively rather than essentially, i.e. they dispose us toward the contemplative life. First, the moral virtues dispose us to the contemplative life by curbing the passions and the outward disturbances that can hinder us from having the peace and cleanness of heart necessary for it. Second, because we do not come to know truth through simple apprehension like the angels but rather "by a process from several premises," other actions must precede our contemplation of God: whether receiving things from someone else, as in prayer, hearing, and reading, or by our own personal study in meditation. Third, contemplation of the divine effects (i.e., creatures) show us the way to contemplation of God himself (Rom 1:20).

Having established both the role of the affections and the prerequisites for the contemplative life, St. Thomas examines, in the fifth article of question 180, just how far contemplation can go in this life. If one is in the state of rapture, a middle state between this life and the life to come that frees man from the use of the body, then St. Thomas argues that the full vision of the divine essence is possible. For those not in the state of rapture, however, the full vision of the divine essence is not possible in this life, as human contemplation requires some reference to the senses and therefore, we could say, cannot be purely spiritual. In the sixth and longest article, St. Thomas describes in greater detail the complexities of the operation of human contemplation using a distinction from pseudo-Dionysius. Though we will not examine this article further in our present discussion, note, if you are reading along with St. Thomas, that the second objection and reply provide the meat of the argument.

If you do not experience rapture and, therefore, felt rather let down after the fifth article, the
seventh and eighth articles help us to go out on a high note. In the fifth article, St. Thomas is not denying that human contemplation can reach divine truth, even if the fullness of the beatific vision is left for heaven. We find, in the seventh article, that even in human contemplation there is delight (Wis 8:16), both because the operation of contemplation is the highest human good and because its object is God, whose divine love both motivates us to contemplation and delights us when God is attained. Even though the delight is less perfect in this life than in heaven, it is still more delightful than anything in this life for two reasons: (1) the delight is spiritual rather than carnal, and (2) the love of God through charity surpasses all other love.

Citing our Lord's statement in Luke 10:42 that "Mary hath chosen the better part, which shall not be taken away from her," St. Thomas ends his treatment of the contemplative life by affirming that it is continuous. It is continuous with respect to its nature both because it is "about incorruptible and unchangeable things" and because there is nothing contrary to it. It is continuous with respect to us both because our intellects are capable of it and because we are more able to persevere in works that are not done primarily with our bodies. While St. Thomas admits that the manner of contemplation in this life is different than in heaven, he says that contemplation in this life is said to remain by the continuation of charity, which is its beginning and end. 

Stay tuned for our next post, in which we will see the other half of the equation in question 181, which covers the active life, and also a comparison of the two forms of life in question 182.

Monday, April 29, 2013

SUMMER 2013 VOCATION EVENTS for the Eastern Province Dominicans

*read about our new novices HERE.

This summer the Dominican Province of St. Joseph
organized regional vocation events.

If you have not made a vocation weekend yet in Washington DC, you should contact Fr. Benedict OP now to reserve your space. Did you know our vocation weekends next academic year are already starting to fill? It is important to RSVP for each of these events.


Vocation Event: Diaconate Ordination (click here)
September 7, 2013 at 10:00AM
Crypt Church, Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
Washington DC (across the street from the Dominican House of Studies)
-reception follows at House of Studies, RSVP

It is possible in some cases to stay the night with us if you are traveling a distance, contact Fr. Benedict OP as soon as possible.

1st Vocation Weekend of new Academic Year 2013-2014 will be September 27-30, 2013  (this weekend is already full - register now for the November weekend)
Vocation Event for Washington DC
Friday, May 24, 2013, St. Dominic's, Washington DC
(reception follows at the Dominican House of Studies)
-more evening events are scheduled for vocation candidates after reception
          First Mass with All the Newly Ordained
          Dominican House of Studies, w/families, friends and friars
          Saturday, May 25, 2013 at ~8AM, breakfast follows

Sunday, May 26 there were a number of First Masses - click here for the schedule.

Vocation Event for New England (click)
Friday, June 7, 2013 at 4PM
St. Pius V parish & Providence College in Providence, RI
4PM Tour of St. Pius V & Providence College, 5PM Vespers at St. Pius V, dinner, and A Talk on Dominican Life

High School 2013 Dominican Vocation Event for Boys (OH & KY(click)
Monday, June 24, 2013 - 4:45-7:30PM
  (permission slips required via St. Gertrude H.S. Youth Ministry - CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD, and send to St. Gertrude Priory, Attn: Brad Bursa)
-with Novices & Priests of St. Gertrude Priory in Cincinnati
Rosary, Solemn Vespers of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, Recreation w/Novices, Dinner & Talk on Dominican Life

Vocation Event for New York City (click here)
Wednesday, July 10, 2013 at 4:45PM
St. Joseph University Church at the Catholic Center at NYU
-arrive 4:45PM in time for 5PM Vespers
Cookout "on the roof"
Talk on Dominican Life as a University Chaplain with Fr. Allan White OP, Chaplain of NYU
A tour of St. Joseph University church and the Catholic Center at New York University in Lower Manhattan (New York City)
      WATCH VIDEO on The Catholic Center at NYU

Vocation Event for Ohio (click here)
Dominican Rite Mass at 2PM
Sunday, August 4, 2013
Mass in the Extraordinary Form for Holy Father, St. Dominic (celebrantFr. Austin Litke OP, Asst. Chaplain at NYU)
On Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 2PM there was celebrated a Dominican Rite Missa Cantata for the Solemnity of our Holy Father Dominic (old calendar) at St. Patrick's Church in Columbus, Ohio. For men considering a vocation, there was a meal after the Mass with our friars.

Vocation Event: Mass of Solemn Profession of Vows (click here)
August 10, 2013 at 10:30AM
Dominican House of Studies
Washington, DC - reception to follow

August 15, 2013 at 11:30AM
St. Gertrude Church & Priory
Cincinnati, OH
-reception follows, with a chance to meet the new novices

Q&A: Universae Ecclesiae and the Dominican Order

Below is a series of questions and answers regarding the Apostolic Constitution Summorum Pontificum, as further interpreted by the Instruction Universae Ecclesiae, and its application to the Dominican Rite.  This is meant to help explain the legal status of the Dominican Rite and its use by the friars of the Province of St. Joseph.  Additional questions may be submitted through to this blog and they will be forwarded to our liturgical commission.  


Q: What is Universae Ecclesiae?
A: Universae Ecclesiae is an Instruction issued by the Pontifical Commission Ecclesiae Dei, on the application of the Apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum.
Q: What is Ecclesiae Dei?
A: Ecclesia Dei is a Pontifical Commission originally established by Bl. John Paul II in 1988. It was originally given the task of "collaborating with the bishops, with the Departments of the Roman Curia and with the circles concerned, for the purpose of facilitating full ecclesial communion of priests, seminarians, religious communities or individuals until now linked in various ways to the Fraternity founded by Archbishop Lefebvre, who may wish to remain united to the Successor Peter in the Catholic Church".
Q: But didn't the Pope lift these excommunications in 2009? Does Ecclesia Dei still have a role?
A: Yes and yes. In the 2007 Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum, the Pope expanded the role of the Commission, affirming that "the same Commission, beyond the faculties which it already enjoys, with exercise the authority of the Holy See, supervising the observance and the application of these dispositions." The same Apostolic Letter of the Holy Father provided that the Commission "would have the form, the tasks and the norms which the Roman Pontiff should wish to grant it."
Q: What is Summorum Pontificum?
A: Summorum Pontificum is an Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio by the Holy Father in 2007. It affirmed the unity of the Roman Rite of the Church, and recognized the Missal originally promulgated by our brother Pope St. Pius V (and subsequently issued by Bl. John XXIII) as the extraordinary form of the one Roman Rite.
Q: What did Summorum Pontificum do?
A: Primarily, Summorum Pontificum granted to all priests the right to say the extraordinary form of the Mass in private (Mass celebrated without the people). It also gave stable groups of the lay faithful the right to request Mass said in the extraordinary form, and encouraged pastors and bishops to accept such requests.
Q: Why did the Pope issue Summorum Pontificum?
A: The Pope issued Summorum Pontificum for three reasons: (a) to offer to all the faithful the Roman Liturgy in the Usus Antiquior, considered as a precious treasure to be preserved; (b) effectively to guarantee and ensure the use of the forma extraordinaria for all who ask for it, given that the use of the 1962 Roman Liturgy is a faculty generously granted for the good of the faithful and therefore is to be interpreted in a sense favorable to the faithful who are its principal addressees; and (c) to promote reconciliation at the heart of the Church.
Q: Doesn't this detract from the authority of the Second Vatican Council by calling into question its liturgical reforms?
A: As Pope Benedict XVI indicated in the transmittal letter accompanying Suommorum Pontificum: "This fear is unfounded. In this regard, it must first be said that the Missal published by Paul VI and then republished in two subsequent editions by John Paul II, obviously is and continues to be the normal Form - the forma ordinaria - of the Eucharistic Liturgy. The last version of the Missale Romanum prior to the Council, which was published with the authority of Pope John XXIII in 1962 and used during the Council, will now be able to be used as a forma extraordinaria of the liturgical celebration. It is not appropriate to speak of these two versions of the Roman Missal as if they were ‘two Rites'. Rather, it is a matter of a twofold use of one and the same rite."


Q: So is Universae Ecclesiae another legislative document like Summorum Pontificum?
A: Not quite. Universae Ecclesiae is an "Instruction", not an Apostolic Letter.
Q: What is an "Instruction"?
A: Under the Code of Canon Law, "Instructions clarify the prescripts of laws and elaborate on and determine the methods to be observed in fulfilling them. They are given for the use of those whose duty it is to see that laws are executed and oblige them in the execution of the laws. Those who possess executive power legitimately issue such instructions within the limits of their competence." (CIC, Can. 34§1)
Q: Does this mean it has no legal effect?
A: The Instruction is not itself law, but clarifies and elaborates upon the law established by the Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum. It is an authoritative interpretation of the law contained in the Apostolic Letter.
Q: Why did the Ecclesia Dei Commission issue this document?
A: When he issued Summorum Pontificum in 2007, the Pope asked for bishops to send an "account of their experiences" to him in three years. This Instruction is meant to respond to some of the difficulties and concerns raised by the original Apostolic Letter.
Q: So, what does this new Instruction say?
A: In an accompanying letter, the Commission briefly summarized the Instruction: After some introductory remarks and historical type (Part I, ch. 1-8), the Instruction first makes explicit the duties of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei (Part II, nos. 9-11). Next, in accordance with Summorum Pontificum, it clarifies the rules and regulations (Part III, nn. 12-35), primarily those relating to the jurisdiction of their diocesan bishop (Nos. 13-14). Then, the Instruction discusses the rights and duties of the faithful who make up an coetus fidelium (Nos. 15-19), and how a priest may be considered qualified to celebrate the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite (sacerdos idoneus, nos. 20-23). The instruction also regulates some issues pertaining to liturgy and ecclesiastical discipline (Nos. 24-28), indicating in particular the rules governing the celebration of Confirmation and Holy Orders (Nos. 29-31), the use of Roman Breviary (n. 32), of the liturgical books of the religious orders (No. 34), the Pontifical Romanum and the Rituale Romanum (35) which were in force in 1962, and the celebration of the Sacred Triduum (33).


Q: Is there anything new in the document?
A: Yes. The instruction clarifies a number of issues, a few which affect the Dominican Order specifically.
Q: What does the document say that impacts Dominicans?
A: The primary impact on the Order is seen in this statement in the Instruction: "Members of Religious Orders are permitted to use their own liturgical books in force in the year 1962" (Sodalibus Ordinum Religiosorum licet uti propriis libris liturgicis anno 1962 vigentibus.)
Q: How does that affect the Dominican Order?
A: From its very beginning, the Dominican Order maintained its own liturgical customs, rooted in (but distinct from) the prevailing Roman Rite. In 1962, the Order still had its own Liturgical Books, including the Dominican Missal and Breviary.
Q: Does this mean that now any Dominican priest may say the Dominican Rite?
A: In the same way as priests of the Latin Church who desire to say Mass according to the Missal of Bl. John XXIII must be qualified (ideoneus) to say Mass in the extraordinary form, Dominican priests who wish to celebrate Mass according to the Dominican Rite must be qualified.
Q: What does it mean to be qualified?
A: The Instruction says that any priest not impeded from saying Mass under canon law is considered qualified. He should also have knowledge of the ars celebrandi of the form of the Rite he is celebrating.a
Q: Doesn't a priest need to know Latin?
A: With regards to the Latin language, it is only necessary that a priest be able to pronounce the words correctly and understand their meaning. (necesse est ut sacerdos celebraturus scientia polleat ad verba recte proferenda eorumque intelligendam significationem).
Q: Does a priest need to prove he is qualified every time he says the Dominican Rite?
A: The priest is under the same obligation with regards to the extraordinary form as he is with the ordinary form.  That is, in most places a visiting priest must show that he is not impeded, usually evidence by a celebret or letter of good standing.
Q: What about a priest's qualification regarding knowledge and execution of the rite, need he provide his qualifiation in these areas before he is permitted to say Mass?
A:  With regards to knowledge and execution of the extraordinary form, a priest who presents himself to say Mass in the extraordinary form is presumed to be qualified if he has previously celebrated it. In a similar way, priests who present themselves to say the ordinary form (whether in English or Latin) are presumed qualified with regards to the execution of the rite, and need not evidence their qualification further.
Q: Don't we need the permission of our local superior or the Provincial?
A: "The faculty to celebrate sine populo (or with the participation of only one minister) in the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite is given by the Motu Proprio to all priests, whether secular or religious (cf. Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, art. 2). For such celebrations therefore, priests, by provision of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum,do not require any special permission from their Ordinaries or superiors."
Q: So what about a public Mass (Missa cum populo)?
A: A public Mass would be subject to the same regulations as any other public Mass said in a parish church or priory. Just as the pastor or prior has the right and obligation to oversee public Masses said under his jurisdiction, the same is true with regards to Mass said in the Dominican Rite. Even so, pastors and superiors should not discriminate between the two forms of Mass.
Q: Does this mean that a Priory could decide on its own to use the Dominican Rite regularly as its conventual Mass?
A: No. Summorum Pontificum makes clear if a religious community wants to use the extraordinary form "often, habitually or permanently" as its conventual Mass, it must first receive the approval of the Major Superior (i.e., the Prior Provincial).
Q: What would prevent a group of friars from separating themselves from the conventual Mass in the ordinary form so that they could celebrate Mass in the extraordinary form instead?
A: Deliberately absenting oneself from the conventual Mass and choir is contrary to the laws and customs of the Order. Our own Constitutions make clear that the brethren are obligated to attend (and priests encouraged to concelebrate) the daily conventual Mass. "All brothers are bound to the celebration of conventual Mass and Liturgy of the Hours in choir. Everyone shall be mindful of this common obligation." (LCO 63)
Q: What about the other liturgical books of the Order, may a Dominican priest use those, too?
A: Yes. The Instruction makes clear that the permission extends to all of the liturgical books of the Order in force as of 1962.
Q: If Dominican priests are permitted to say the Dominican Rite, may they also celebrate Mass according to the Missal of Bl. John XXIII?
A: Yes. A Dominican priest may celebrate Mass according to the Missal of Bl. John XXIII, so long as he is qualified to do so.


Q: Didn't Dominicans already have the right to celebrate Mass in the Dominican Rite?
A: In 1968, the Dominican Rite ceased being the normal liturgical celebration of the Order, and the Order began using the Missal of Pope Paul VI (the ordinary form of the Roman Rite).  In 1969, the Order received a Rescript from the Holy See granting permission for friars to continue to celebrate the Dominican Rite as it then existed.
Q: What is a Rescript?
A: Accoridng to the current Code of Canon Law (promulgated in 1983), a Rescript is: "an administrative act issued in writing by competent executive authority; of its very nature, a rescript grants a privilege, dispensation, or other favor at someone's request." (CIC can. 59 §1.)
Q: Does this mean all friars may also celebrate the Dominican Rite according to the 1965 Missal as well?
A: According to the terms of the Rescript, the permission to celebrate Mass was not given universally.  It was given at the discretion of the Prior Provincial or the Master of the Order to those who requested the faculties.
Q: Did this permission extend to the liturgical books of the Order existing as of 1962?
A: No.  In 1965, the Order issued a revised Dominican Missal.  The Missal significantly changed the Dominican Rite to be closer to the then existing Roman Rite, especially as envisioned by the Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Sacred Constution on the Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council.  The Rescript gave permission for the use of the 1965 Dominican Missal.
Q: Does the Apostolic Constitution Summorum Pontificum abrogate the provisions of the Rescript?
A: There is nothing in the terms of Summorum Pontificum or the Instruction Universae Ecclesiae that repeal the permissions given in the 1969 Rescript.  According to the Code of Canon law:  "Rescripts are not revoked by a contrary law unless the law itself provides otherwise." (CIC can. 73)
Q: Which Missal is meant to be used according to the Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum and the Instruction Universae Ecclesiae?
A: Those documents indicate that the liturgical books in force as of 1962 are to be used.  In the Roman Rite, this refers specifically to the Missal issued by Bl. John XXIII in 1962.  The Dominican Order did not issue a new Missal in 1962.  Rather, the version of the Missal in force in 1962 was the Missal issued by the Master of the Order, Fr. Martin Stanislaus Gillet, O.P., in 1933 (the Missale Sacri Ordinis Praedicatorum).
Q:  So under Summorum Pontificum the Dominican Rite should be celebrated according to the 1933 Missal?
A: Not quite.  In 1955, Pope Pius XII issued a major revision to the celebration of Holy Week in the Roman Rite, a revision that is still seen in the celebration of Holy Week in the ordinary form. Shortly after this change, the Dominian Order revised its own celebration of Holy Week.  Also, in 1960, Bl. John XXIII revised the universal calendar, and greatly simplified the ranking of liturgical days.  The Dominican Order followed suit in 1961.  Certain other smaller changes were also implemented in 1961.  Therefore, according toSummorum Pontificum, the Dominican Rite should be celebrated according to the 1933 Dominican Missal, with the changes implemented by the order through 1962.
Q: So what does all this mean, practically speaking, with rescpect to the two Missals (1933 and 1965)?
A: Friars who have received permission to celebrate the Dominican Rite under the 1969 Rescript may continue to do so, using the 1965 Dominican Missal.  No friar may use the 1965 Dominican Missal except with permission from his Prior Provincial or the Master of the Order.  All qualified Dominican Friars may celebrate the Dominican Rite using the 1933 Dominican Missal, as subsequently revised through 1962, no additional permission being necessary.


Q: Are priests required to learn to say Mass in the extraordinary form (either the Missal of Bl. John XXIII or the Dominican Rite)?
A: No. But the Pope has encouraged all pastors to make Mass in the extraordinary form available to stable groups of the faithful. In addition, one of the Pope's aims in issuingSummorum Pontificum is that the two forms of the one Roman Rite would influence each other, which would seem to require knowledge of both forms.
Q: Does the Instruction say anything about training in the extraordinary form?
A: Yes. In the new Instruction, Ordinaries are strongly requested (enixe rogantur) to offer their clergy the possibility of training in the ars celebrandi of the extraordinary form.
Q: What about seminarians?
A: The strong request for training to be offered applies especially (potissimum) to Seminarians, which would include our Dominican clerical Student Brothers.
Q: But this request only applies to Bishops, right?
A: No. This strong request is made to all "Ordinaries". In canon law, "Ordinaries" include "major superiors of clerical religious institutes of pontifical right ... who at least possess ordinary executive power." Priors Provincial in the Dominican Order are "Ordinaries" under the law, and so this request applies to our Province as well.
Q: Shouldn't we wait for guidance from a Provincial Chapter first?
A: Our 2010 Provincial Chapter has addressed this issue. The Chapter stated in an ordination that the Province should provide: "optional education in the celebration of the Dominican Rite of the Mass, for use in private. This is to be done without prejudice to LCO 59, II and CIC can. 902."
Q: Have other Provinces done any training with the Dominican Rite?
A: In the Western Province, a for-credit class in the Dominican Rite is offered to the Dominican Students of the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology.
Q: How will such training be provided in the Province of St. Joseph?
A: In the past, and with the confirmation of the Prior Provincial, matters dealing with the Dominican Rite have fallen to the Provincial Liturgical Commission. That Commission will work to make available training in the ars celebrandi of the Dominican Rite to all friars who may desire such. In addition, this website provides text and videos to explain how to say a low Mass in the Dominican Rite.  The first training session will occur on Thursday, June 23, 2011 at St. Gertrude Priory.  It is open to all friars interested in learning more about the Dominican Rite.
Q: Are there any plans to celebrate the Dominican Rite on a regular basis in the Province of St. Joseph?
A: As of this date, there are no current plans to celebrate the Dominican Rite on a regular basis in any of the Priories or parishes of the Province.  Currently, however, the Priory of the Immaculate Conception (Dominican House of Studies) celebrates a monthly Mass in Latin in the ordinary form.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Timeline of the Life of St. Dominic


1170 Dominic de Guzman is born in Calarogo, now Caleruega, Spain.
1184 Dominic attends the university in Palencia.
1190 Dominic is appointed to the canonry at Osma.
1203 Dominic accompanies his holy bishop to the Marches of France.
1206 On the feast of Saint Mary Magdalen, Saint Dominic has a vision.
1207 Bishop Diego dies and Saint Dominic takes charge of the small band of preachers.
1208 Servants of an Albigensian count murder a papal legate, giving the heresy more political significance.
1211 Saint Dominic prayers save drowning pilgrimages.
1215 Dominic goes to the Lateran Council.
1216 Pope Honorius III succeeds Innocent III. Dominic set out for Rome to complete the foundation.
1217 The Founder is allowed to return to Toulouse in May of 1217.
1218 By January 1218, Dominic had walked back to Rome.
1219 Dominic then travels through France to his Spanish homeland, and then as far as Paris by June of 1219.
1220 The first General Chapter of the Order is held in Bologna around Pentecost, 1220.
1221 Death of St. Dominic - Friday, August 6, 1221, about 6 o'clock in the evening.

Dominic de Guzman was born in Calarogo, now Caleruega, Spain. As the Middle Ages were approaching their peak, the pope grew in prominence beyond any king in Christendom. The spiritual life of the Church was in the process of renewal, but there was still ignorance and division that threatened to get worse. In the year 1170, the same year in which Saint Thomas Becket was martyred in England, Dominic de Guzman was born in Calarogo, now Caleruega, Spain, about 20 miles from the Cathedral in Osma.

Before his mother conceived him, she saw in a vision that a dog with a burning torch in its mouth would come forth from her womb and set the world aflame. Later, she saw the moon on his forehead, yet at his Baptism, his godmother perceived it as a star. The boy was christened probably after Saint Dominic of Silas whose nearby shrine was a favorite of his mother.

His parents were Blessed Jane or Joan of Aza, renown for her charity to the poor and her miracles, and a nobleman named Felix de Guzman. They lived in a tower in the little village of which they were the royal wardens. Their eldest son Anthony would become a Canon of Saint James, and their second, Mannes, would eventually follow his younger brother in the Order of Preachers. Mannes was later beatifide. Two nephews of Dominic would also join the Order, sons most likely of his sister. As a boy, Dominic was sent to his mother's brother to receive instruction for seven years. His uncle was a parish priest in Gumiel d'Izan. Even as a child, Dominic avoided games and denied himself the comfort of a bed to sleep on the floor.

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1184 Dominic went to the university in Palencia. At the age of 14, he went to the university in Palencia, in the kingdom of Leon. Around that time, there was a terrible famine. To give alms to the poor, he sold his possessions, even his precious annotated books, thinking that the living skins of the famished were more important than the dead skins of his books. Music was studied in the quadrivium. Consequently Dominic loved to sing, particularly the Ave Maris Stella and the Veni Creator. His study of the arts lasted six years.

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Dominic accompanied his holy bishop in 1203 to the Marches of France, in the Languedoc region, because of a royal wedding. It was there that they were struck by the spread of falsehood. People were adopting Albigensianism which considered all material things to be evil. While at Toulouse, Dominic stayed up all night until he had persuaded the innkeeper to accept the true faith. About that time, the pope had called upon the Cistercian abbots to preach against this heresy. At Montpellier, Bishop Diego convinced them to abandon their ostentatious retinues. He himself put on the Cistercian habit and joined the mission, taking Dominic with him. From then on, the subprior was called “Brother Dominic.”

The preachers held disputations from town to town, attended by the lowly and the noble alike. At Fanjeaux, arbiters held a trial by fire for the manuscripts written by Dominic and his adversaries. The one written by Saint Dominic flew out of the flames three times. A similar miracle took place at Montreal.

The Albigensians were extremely austere, but Dominic surpassed them all by his charitable sacrifices. He might eat a bit of dried fish or a little bread and soup. Women who often fed him testified that he never ate more than two eggs, and his wine was about two-thirds water. Dominic wore an abrasive hairshirt, and had an iron chain forged around his waist. He slept very little, and when he did, it was always on the floor, preferably in the chapel. There, the fire of the Holy Spirit even dried his rain-soaked habit better than those of his companions who spent the night by the fireplace. Exhausted from his vigils, he sometimes napped on the side of the road. It was his practice to carry his shoes until he got to town. Once when he needed directions, people maliciously sent him along a path of briars, but he was always happy to bear a little more for the love of God.

Dominic once told a pompous bishop, “... heretics are more easily won over by examples of humility and virtue than by external display or a hail of words. Should we not rather arm ourselves with devout prayers and, carrying before us the standard of true humility, proceed in our bare feet against Goliath?” As hard as he was on himself, nevertheless, Dominic was easy on others.

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On the night of July 22, 1206, the feast of Saint Mary Magdalen, on a hill of Fanjeaux overlooking the little town of Prouille on the plain, Saint Dominic saw what appeared to be a globe of fire descending upon a shrine of Our Lady. The sign from Our Lady (or sign of God, “Seignadou” in the local dialect) occurred again the next two nights. From this, he understood that he was to establish a monastery of nuns at Prouille. In the months that followed, Dominic converted nine young women. Consequently, the first “Dominican” convent opened on the 27th of December. Saint Mary Magdalen, the penitent Apostle to the Apostles, therefore, would become the patroness and mother not only of the converted nuns of Prouille but of the Order of Preachers about to be born.

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In 1190, Dominic was appointed to the canonry at Osma, while pursuing theological studies. Around five years later, he was ordained to the priesthood. The Canons Regular were essentially clerics who customarily followed the Rule of Saint Augustine. He continued with this life for another nine years. During his nightly vigils, Father Dominic grew in holiness as he wept for sinners. Of the many books he read, he was particularly fond of the Conferences of the Desert Fathers by Cassian. When Dominic was 31 years old and the subprior of his community, his prior, Diego d'Azevedo, succeeded the Bishop of Osma.

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Bishop Diego returned to his diocese in 1207, but died soon after. Saint Dominic then took charge of the small band of preachers. Already at Prouille, there was a double monastery or priory next to the monastery, but the brothers were not yet bound to Dominic canonically.

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Unfortunately in 1208, servants of an Albigensian count murdered a papal legate, giving the heresy more political significance. As a result, the mission turned into a bloody crusade in the hands of aristocrats and their armies. In the course of the war, Churches were burned, and the preachers disbanded. Dominic, often alone, continued at the task for years, all the while serving the victims of violence.

Brother Dominic always hoped to be martyred but thought himself unworthy. So, he fled places of honor and drew near to mistreatment, to where people would spit and throw filth at him. Aware of looming ambush, he approached singing in plain view. His courage and faith, however, intimidated assassins.

At Muret, the Catholic force was vastly outnumbered, but they broke through the enemy line, killed the heretical King of Aragon and won a great victory, just as Dominic had foretold.

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In 1211, while the war continued , a group of English pilgrims were on their way to Saint James of Compostela in Spain. While crossing the River Garonne, the overloaded boat capsized. Dominic, in a nearby church, heard the cries of bystanders and soldiers. Many of the pilgrims were already underwater. Dominic prostrated himself, prayed and loudly commanded their safety in the Name of Jesus Christ. Immediately, the pilgrims emerged near the shore and were pulled to the riverbank. One of the pilgrims, named Lawrence, would be one of the first members of the Order of Preachers. In another incident, a ferryman demanded payment from Dominic, who then prayed and picked up a coin at his feet. Later, eyewitnesses would testify to these and many other miracles at his canonization process.

At Castres, Dominic was praying in the church. The prior sent one of the canons to fetch him for dinner. Seeing Dominic floating in the air, he returned to tell the prior who went to see for himself. So moved was he by the phenomenon, the prior, Matthew of France, became another of Dominic’s first followers. Eventually, a new group of preachers gathered to support his mission.

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Peter of Seila gave Dominic large stone buildings at Toulouse, and became his follower. While in this city, the small fraternity attended lectures in theology. Toulouse was the see of Bishop Foulques, who greatly supported the preachers. In 1215, Dominic accompanied Foulques to Rome for the Lateran Council.

While in Rome for the Council, it is believed that Saint Dominic met Saint Francis of Assisi. Both of them would establish a new kind of religious life,which is mendicant and apostolic. At a later time, one or the other founder got angry at his sons for extravagant buildings and held up the other Order as an example of simplicity. Members of both Orders call both saints "Holy Father." For centuries, it has also been the custom for Friars Preachers to invite a Friar Minor to preach on the feast of Saint Dominic, and vice versa. Pope Innocent III was inspired to approve these new Orders because he saw in a dream one or the other of these saints reaching up to support the tottering Church, lest it fall to ruins. Today in Saint Peter's Basilica, colossal statues of Saints Francis and Dominic flank both sides of the Chair of Saint Peter.

In Rome, Bishop Foulques and Saint Dominic petitioned Pope Innocent III for the right to establish a new Order of Preachers. Until that time, preaching was the proper function of bishops. The bold prospect of having an order whose priests cross diocesan boundaries to preach as needed would be a great privilege, yet clearly the time had come for such a development, and Dominic was worthy of the responsibility. So, the pope told him to return to his brethren, and with them, to choose an existing rule. Hence, after the council, Dominic and his companions chose the Rule of Saint Augustine. To this short monastic rule, constitutions were added. Therefore, the preachers would be generically monastic, yet specifically "friars" not always bound to a particular cloister nor to manual labor. For the friars, even the monastic elements of their life acquired an apostolic thrust; for instance, the Liturgy of the Hours was celebrated more succinctly so they could get on with study and the preaching of truth. Bishop Foulques then gave them charge of three Churches, to each of which priories were added. The first was Saint Romain in the cathedral city of Toulouse, and its priory was a model of simplicity. It was the summer of 1216 and the friars had grown in number to sixteen.

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Pope Honorius III succeeded Innocent III. Dominic set out, nevertheless, for Rome to complete the foundation. He arrived in September, but did not receive the papal bull of confirmation until December 22, 1216. In a second bull issued the same day, Honorius said, "We, considering that the brethren of the Order will be the champions of the faith and true lights of the world, do confirm the Order in all its lands and possessions present and to come and we take under our protection and government the Order itself, with all its goods and rights."

The pope wanted Dominic to stay at the Lateran for awhile, so Honorius appointed him to be the Master of the Sacred Palace, that is, a theological advisor to the pope, a teacher of the papal court and a censor of books. Since then, the position has traditionally been held by a Friar Preacher. While in the Eternal City, Dominic made pilgrimages to the great Christian shrines.

Once, while praying in the old Saint Peter's Basilica, Saint Dominic saw a vision. The Apostle Peter handed him a staff, and the Apostle Paul handed him a book. Together, they spoke to him, saying, "Go and preach, because you have been chosen by God for this work." Immediately, it seemed to Dominic that he saw all his children preaching two by two throughout the world. From then on, Saint Dominic was often seen on the road carrying a walking stick and the Epistles of Saint Paul. He also carried the Gospel of Saint Matthew, and could recite these Scriptures by heart.

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The Founder was allowed to return to Toulouse in May of 1217, but the reunion was short. By August, our Holy Father planned to send his sons far and wide on the feast of the Assumption. They protested because it seemed that their small number would be too diffuse, but Dominic replied, "Do not oppose me, for I know very well what I am doing. The seed will molder if it is hoarded up; it will fructify if it is sown." In time, his prophecy proved true. Instead of dissipating, the Order grew rapidly, and its fruit likewise multiplied.

Consequently, before the great dispersion, the whole Order gathered for the last time at Our Lady of Prouille. The congregation was stunned by the unusual severity of his sermon, for on that day, he had inspired fear in them all. It was probably on that occasion that the brothers professed their vows in his hands; hence the custom of making profession on the Assumption is still common. Coincidentally, Saint Dominic appears today in the painting of the Assumption in Saint John Lateran. When the time had come, he sent most of the friars to the universities at Paris and Bologna. This emphasis on study has always been an integral component of Dominican formation. In fact, many professors soon entered the Order. Dominic, the first "Master" of the Order, sent other friars to Rome and to Spain, while the remainder continued the mission in southern France. About this time, our Father let his beard grow in hopes that he would be allowed to preach among the Tartars and receive martyrdom, but the opportunity never came.

To his brethren, Dominic was exemplary in mortification, doctrine and contemplation. Three times each night, he would whip himself to blood, once for his own salvation, a second time for sinners, and a third for departed souls. Later, other Dominican saints would do the same. Dominic habitually wept for sinners, in the towns he passed, while celebrating Mass, and during his vigils. He was heard crying: O Lord, what will become of sinners? Often on the road, he would either instruct his companions or wander off to pray. His most evident characteristic was that he always spoke to God in prayer or about God to others.

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By January 1218, Dominic had walked back to Rome. Around that time, an important canon lawyer, Blessed Reginald of Orleans, wanted to follow Dominic but became bedridden with sickness. Our Lady came to anoint him and to show him the full habit of the Order of Preachers. Reginald recovered and the Order soon adopted the addition to its habit, which was probably the scapular. Saint Dominic too had seen visions of Our Lady. Once he saw Her in the dormitory sprinkling the brethren with holy water as they slept. Therefore, today, the prior or prioress in every Dominican convent sprinkles the community at night prayers (Compline) during the Hail, Holy Queen (Salve Regina).

Due to the generosity of Pope Honorius, a Dominican priory was established at San Sisto (Pope Saint Sixtus II, Martyr) on the Appian Way. Dominic, having received a revelation from God, called the brethren to the chapter room to announce the proximate deaths of four friars, two physically and two spiritually. Soon thereafter, his prediction proved true, for two men died, and two others left the Order for worldliness.

The community at San Sisto had grown very numerous. One day, Dominic was informed by the procurator that their begging had produced almost no food. He ordered the brethren, nevertheless, to gather at table for their meal. He then prayed and suddenly two young men or angels, looking mysteriously alike, came into the refectory to dispense a portion of bread and wine to each friar. The same procurator told of a similar miracle on another occasion.

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Dominic then traveled through France to his Spanish homeland, and then as far as Paris by June of 1219. For a few days, German pilgrims, who traveled on the same road, fed him, so he prayed for the ability to speak their language, and the gift was given to him. Neither language nor locked doors could obstruct him. More than one porter wondered how he got beyond their gates. After establishing houses along the way, Dominic returned to Italy, stopping at Milan, Bologna, Florence and Viterbo. He was in Rome for Christmas.

The pope then asked Dominic to reform and organize the more or less independent nuns of the city. By February of 1220, he gathered many at San Sisto. The diplomacy he exercised to overcome protests and achieve this unfavorable organization must have been inspired. He called Mother Blanche from Prouille to take charge of the monastery. The friars meanwhile moved to the ancient Basilica of Santa Sabina, another donation from the pope. For centuries, the Masters of the Order have managed the Order from there.

Dominic is a saint because of his great charity, not because of his miracles, yet the greatness of his miracles is a sign of his love. Of all his well attested prodigies, the most remarkable are the resuscitations of the dead. Our saintly Father once rescued a workman who was crushed by a fallen wall at San Sisto. Another time, the nephew of a cardinal fell from his horse and suffered mortal injuries. Almost immediately, Dominic celebrated Mass. Hours passed before he raised the man to life, with all his wounds healed. In another case, a woman went to hear Dominic preach at San Marco in Rome, but later she returned home and found her little boy dead. She rushed the child to Dominic who brought him back to life. When the pope expressed his desire to publicize the miracle, Dominic threatened to leave town. People were already clipping bits of his habit for relics.

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The first General Chapter of the Order was held in Bologna around Pentecost, 1220. Centuries later, the democratic principles of the Constitutions of the Order of Preachers would influence nations. The Founder recommended that all economic matters be handled by the lay brothers, but the Chapter Fathers voted against him. Dominic preached throughout Italy for a year until the second General Chapter, once again in Bologna. By then, his health was declining, yet he continued to walk from town to town preaching. By mid summer, he had spent his strength. Heaven had warned the “Athlete of Christ” that his life was about to end. His work was bearing fruit. Already the Order had grown to eight provinces: Spain, Provence, France, Lombardy, Rome, Germany, Hungary, and England. By the time he reached Bologna in August, it was very hot and humid.

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The heat compounded his fever. He could no longer stand, but refused to be put on a bed. He lay on the floor of a borrowed cell, in a borrowed habit, for he had none of his own. He had bequeathed to his children this testimony: “Have charity one for another; guard humility; make your treasure out of voluntary poverty.” He then emphasized poverty, saying, “May my malediction and that of God fall upon him who shall bring possessions into this Order.” When asked about burial, he expressed his wish to be “under the feet of the brethren,” that is, under the feet of those who bring Good News. He assured them, “Do not weep, my children; I shall be more useful to you where I am now going, than I have ever been in this life.”

Near the end, he told the elders, “Till this day, God, in His mercy, has kept my virginity pure and unstained. If you desire this blessed gift of God, hold yourselves apart from everything that can conjure up evil, for it is by watchful care in this that a man is loved by God and revered by man. Be eager in your service of God; strengthen and widen this newborn Order; increase your love of God and your keen observance of the Rule; grow in holiness.” Only a few more words were exchanged. After his confession, he directed his sons to begin the Commendation of the Dying. During its recitation, he stretched his arms upward and died. It was Friday, August 6, 1221, about 6 o’clock in the evening: fittingly the Transfiguration, a feast regarding prophets and apostles. Saint Dominic had lived 51 years.

Miracles followed and devotion to the saint grew, so the church building needed to be expanded and Dominic’s body moved. Hundreds of people of every rank attended the Translation on May 24, 1233. When the stone covering his remains was lifted, a gentle aroma, like a sweet perfume, filled the air to the delight of all. The sacred relics have since been revered in a sepulcher befitting his glory. Within a year after the Translation of the Body, after collecting depositions and testimonies, Dominic was canonized a saint. His feast is celebrated on the eighth of August.

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Dominican Young Adult Frassati Fellowships

Blessed Pier Georgio Frassati was son of the founder of La Stampa newspaper in Italy and a Third Order Dominican. This young man was enamored of the liturgy and spent many hours in Eucharistic Adoration. His parents wondered where he was! They were so alarmed and asked their local priest to help him. The priest reassured them he was fine. Many times he had been praying at an all night vigil!

He was a serious mountaineer and loved the outdoors. He frequently signed his name: "Verso l'Alto" meaning "To the Heights!" He was a young man always oriented towards the things of heaven. He had a deep love for the poor even though he was from a wealthy family in Turin. While he spent himself helping the poor, he contracted polio and within five days, he died tragically at age 24. The poor came out in huge numbers to give him homage, carrying his casket.

As a young man, if you are considering a vocation to be a friar preacher, we suggest you have the concrete experience of building up the Body of Christ around you. In our aspirancy guidelines we suggest you do that by getting involved with other
strong Catholics around you. Frassati Fellowships around the country are a great way to put your faith into action.

The Frassati Fellowship follows in the footsteps of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, seeking to bring the whole person to Christ through adoration, study, community, charitable activity, and love of the outdoors. Young adults are encouraged to join.

The Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Joseph are chaplains to four Frassati Fellowships and assist with a fifth:

NYC Frassati Fellowship - run by the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (aka CFR's) they meet at St. Vincent Ferrer in NYC, we frequently help them
...by the way, if you think you might have a Franciscan vocation, I would highly suggest the CFR's

commentary on the life of Blessed Pier Georgio by Fr. Robert Barron:

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Upcoming Events sponsored by the Dominican House of Studies

There are a few excellent events being sponsored by the Dominican House of Studies and our Thomistic Institute in the upcoming months.

Advancing a Culture of Life Conference
The Catholic Center at New York University
April 5-6, 2013  (MORE INFO)  (FLIER)
Speakers include: David Novak, Rusty Reno, Angela Knobel, Fr. Thomas Joseph White OP, Carter Snead, Yuval Levin, Fr. Allan White OP, Paige Hochschild, Anna Halpine, Francis Beckworth, Ryan T. Anderson, Mary Eberstadt, & Ashley McGuire

Thomas Aquinas: Free Will & Virtue Workshop
Mt. St. Mary College, Newburgh NY
June 13-16, 2013 (MORE INFO)
Speakers include: Fr. James Brent OP, Alfred Freddoso, Jennifer Frey, Michael Gorman, Russell Hittinger, John O’Callaghan, Fr. Michael Sherwin OP, & Candace Vogler

The Priest as Teacher of the Faith Conference (for Priests only)
Cathedral, Nashville TN
July 16-18, 2013 (MORE INFO & BROCHURE)
Speakers include: Fr. Romanus Cessario OP, Fr. Jeremy Driscoll OSB, Fr. Paul Scalia, Fr. Michael Sherwin OP, & Fr. Tom Weinandy OFM Cap

All of these events would be excellent opportunities to meet friars of our province.  For info on our next vocation weekend, CLICK HERE.