• 08 Aug 18

Aug 8 - “St. Dominic Guzman” © icon by Br. Robert Lentz, OFM.  Happy Feast Day St. Dominic!

At a time when clerical wealth and abuse had robbed the Roman church of credibility, a bright light arose in Spain. He was a quiet person named Dominic Guzman, drawn to prayer and study. At 26 he became a cathedral canon and seemed headed for a predictable life of routine, when his bishop took him along to southern France on a preaching tour.

One response to the scandalous behavior of Catholic priests and bishops was the Albigensian movement in France. These people stressed poverty and austerity, but ended up rejecting the entire material world as something evil. Dominic realized that the only effective response to the Albigenses was for Catholic clergy to return to lives of poverty and simplicity and again study theology prayerfully so that they could become effective preachers. Dominic embraced such a life, and founded the Order of Preachers when others began to join him.

In this icon Dominic carries a walking staff as a symbol of his tireless journeys throughout southern Europe, preaching the Gospel. He carries his favorite books: The Gospel of Matthew and the Epistles of Paul. Filled with compassion for those who suffered, he once sold his precious books to feed the hungry. "I will not study dead skins when people are dying of hunger." Although he himself led an austere life, he was always radiant and joyful.

While Dominic’s response to the Albigenses was to reform his own life and preach the Gospel, Rome’s response was to unleash five years of indiscriminate slaughter in southern France. Both Albigenses and Catholics were slain by Pope Innocent III’s armies, giving that pope the distinction of having murdered more Catholics than Diocletian. Using force to overcome dissent is a constant temptation for church authorities, in the twentieth century no less than the thirteenth. Dominic reminds us that truth is never served by force. Truth draws people to itself gently, by example alone.

His feast day is August 8.