This passed Tuesday, August 8th, was the feast day of St. Dominic de Guzmán, founder of the Order of Preachers, their official name, otherwise referred to as the Dominicans. It's no secret around here I think that I associate with the Dominicans. If I had a religious calling I would have joined them. St. Catherine of Siena, my beloved patron saint, was a Lay Dominican. St. Dominic was a contemporary of St. Francis of Assisi and they developed their orders in parallel. In many ways St. Dominic and St. Francis shared a number of things in common: reform of the Church, a belief their members should live in poverty, active ministry as opposed to monastic or purely contemplative religious life, and preaching at all times, both with words and actions. St. Dominic has a more intellectual bent than St. Francis, and so Dominicans have this intellectual tradition. Once the order was established in 1216 (they just had their 800th anniversary), it spread rapidly across Europe. Perhaps it was St. Dominic’s personal touch that inspired so many to join him. He seemed to befriend everyone. Someone once said that he befriended an order, not created. He never wanted the order named after him; he was just too humble for that. And so it is named the Order of Preachers because their mission is to preach the Gospel.
On his death bed he gave an open confession and one of the things he confessed was that he had a particular fondness in working with ladies. It’s true, he created several monasteries for women, and was quite ahead of his time in allowing women into an active participation. St. Catherine herself was part of a woman lay Dominican ministry called the Mantellates. I also remember reading that on St. Dominic's death bed he told the friars gathered around him he could do more for them in heaven now that he was incapacitated than in earthly life. And so he didn't want them to fuss with him. He meant that he could pray and petition God from there. So though his feast day has passed, look up St. Dominic if you are unfamiliar with him, and say a whisper to him to pray for your cause. I think of him as the friend I have in heaven.