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Ad Iesum per Dominicum
"True Devotion to Saint Dominic"
Br. Bertrand Hebert, O.P.
August 19, 2022
2022 Summer Reading Recommendations
True Devotion to Saint Dominic
by Marie-Ètienne Vayssière, O.P.
The Dominican life treats us much better than we deserve. It often showers the sons and daughters of Saint Dominic with blessings—and trials—that far exceed our expectations.
This life also affords us incredible opportunities to see beautiful parts of our Order’s patrimony, such as the stunning Arca di San Domenico in Bologna where our holy founder is buried. I was fortunate enough to visit this beautiful priory recently. It was immediately clear that the grace of the Dominican life has generously filled the walls of this convent and the hearts of its inhabitants. Dominic is clearly at work in his sons as he watches over them.
But the friars in Bologna have no right to boast. They may seem to have privileged access to the grace of living the Dominican life in the presence of Dominic. But this grace is not something unique to the friars in Bologna. It is something that all of Dominic’s children can and should employ. How is this possible? Father Marie-Ètienne Vayssière, O.P. explains in his work, True Devotion to Saint Dominic.
This reflection was written to commemorate the 700th anniversary of St. Dominic’s canonization. The translation by Father Anthony Giambrone, O.P.—included in this edition with his translation of George Bernanos’ biography of Dominic, also worth reading—beautifully expresses what some may consider strange: the capital grace of St. Dominic. As Christ is the unique channel of all graces—the Head giving life to its members—so Dominic is the unique source of grace for our evangelical life. To fully embrace the saving work of our consecration, we as Dominic’s sons and daughters should seek devout union with our holy founder.
The objections may arise, “Isn’t it too much to attribute this kind of grace to a creature like Dominic? Doesn’t this language detract from the honor that belongs to Christ alone?” Vayssière’s response rings loud and clear: No, not at all. If anything, the devotion we give our Holy Father Dominic is often lacking. Asserting the need to temper our devotion would dishonor the legacy of the saint. But, above all, this objection would also offend Christ himself. Our confident flight into the arms of Dominic, where we receive his paternal grace, is prompted by what the Church observes in this man of God. His life, miracles, death, canonization, and the continuation of his work in the world manifest that Christ has come to full stature in him (cf. Eph 4:11–14).
Fathers are first sons, and Christ has made us adopted sons of the Father. In his work of founding the Order of Preachers, Dominic was first himself made perfect in the Image of the Son and he is now in turn rightfully called our Holy Father. We, by the help of his unique graces, are made imitators of Dominic as he is an imitator of Christ (1 Cor 11:1). The Dominicans’ confidence in Dominic, therefore, is founded upon our confidence in Christ. To withhold our filial trust in Dominic would amount to feeble confidence in the work of Christ himself. The same grace at work in Dominic is at work in us, his children, as we likewise bear Christ into the world (cf. Gal 4:19).
The Dominican life treats us much better than we deserve. For Fr. Vayssière, this truth is founded upon the grace entrusted to Dominic as the head of this Order. Our devotion and union with Dominic are intimately tied to our loving union with God. In this way, the reward of the Dominican life is the reward of being fully alive both in Christ and in St. Dominic (cf. Gal 2:20). With this fulness of grace dwelling in the Dominican soul, God’s saving work that he accomplishes through Dominic also becomes our work, and this grace is effective at any time and place. It is as if Dominic’s tomb, containing abundant grace and the sweetest odor, is present in the heart of every Dominican. For anyone, Dominican or otherwise, Fr. Vayssière’s short work is sure to refresh them in their holy endeavors by directing them to this great champion of the faith.
Pray for us, O Holy Father Dominic.
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Image: Photo by Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P. (used with permission)
Originally posted in the Dominicana Journal.
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