Feast of St. Dominic Preaching by Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress Celebrated on August 9, 2020 Continued Happy Feast Day, Sisters and all who are joining in with us today. We celebrate with all who live the Dominican charism: our Dominican Sisters and Brothers, friars, nuns, apostolic sisters, associates and laity across the world, all our co-workers, partners, family and benefactors. Dominic’s genius lay in bringing together women and men to preach joyfully the Good News of the Gospel within their multiple cultural contexts. Today we are particularly mindful of our own Sisters in the Philippines, in the Dominican Republic – and of our special relationship with our Sisters in Iraq. On this feast day, I want to remember the lineage of Dominican women who are our foremothers. From the valley of Prouilhe, France where the first Dominican women gathered in 1206; from the women of Holy Cross Convent in Ratisbon/Regensburg, Germany in 1233; from the women of the Congregation of the Most Holy Rosary, founded on Second Street, New York in 1859 - we became Edmonds and Adrian Dominicans and later Our Lady of Remedies Dominicans. May their lineage live on in us into the future. It seems likely that Dominic never dreamed of the Order’s resiliency over the centuries. Like Elijah in the first reading today, Dominic learned how to listen for God’s voice, discerning God’s presence in the wind, the earthquake, the fire – and finally - finding God in a quiet whispering sound. Over the years, Dominic learned the lessons of discernment. He learned to recognize the pattern and movement of an inner energy moving within him. He gifts us today with a legacy of trusting our own inner voice and knowing it as the voice of the Holy One. It is probable that like most of us, Dominic did not immediately know his purpose in life. With his mother, Joan of Aza’s, insistence he studied at Palencia, Spain; he was an avid learner yet early on, he sold his precious books to give the money to the poor who were starving. He became a diocesan priest, a “canon-regular” and lived in a community life of sorts for a few years at the Cathedral of Osma, Spain. He accompanied his bishop, Diego, on a diplomatic marriage mission of the King of Spain to Germany and back, several times. It was during those long journeys that Diego, not Dominic, first had the inspiration of forming an itinerant group of preachers because he saw the need for authentic preaching of the gospel. Then just as Diego’s idea was taking shape, he died, leaving Dominic on his own. Dominic could not abandon this idea of itinerant preachers as he served as pastor of a rural parish in Fanjeaux, southern France. Fanjeaux is located in the heartland of Carthar country. The Cathars were a sect of people who believed that all material matter was evil, including the human body. They lived very austerely. Dominic longed to show them a God who loved all of Creation; a God who incarnated God’s Spirit into matter; a God for whom all matter and spirit was sacred. Dominic believed in what we would today call the sacramental and incarnational goodness of creation. He knew that God could reside within the hidden crevices of the natural world and that it was possible to find God in a small whisper - and in the searching hearts and minds of others. He would believe in a God who could walk on waters as he heard in today’s Gospel as well as remove fear from peoples’ lives. We know that Dominic did not leave much in writing for his sons and daughters: rather he was a preacher. He preached foremost by his life of authentic simplicity and humility. He was a gifted preacher in being able to explain the gospels to others. Dominic’s lifestyle and values are our greatest inheritance. He desired his followers to know the freedom that simplicity and humility offers. His experience of the Holy One, the Divine Whisperer in his life, directed all his life choices. He longed for all people to know the mercy and compassion of God. Today he would no doubt be praying - IS praying - for all the wounded ones of today’s world. He would bring to prayer those suffering from Covid -19 and their loved ones, those who are on the frontlines as health care providers and first responders and all essential workers. He would also be praying for all those who refuse to wear facemasks in the midst of the pandemic. He would be praying a conversion of heart for those who insist their individual “rights” take precedence over the common good. He would be praying for all those whose hearts are hardened and will not listen to the voice of the Divine within themselves – or listen to others. Dominic would be praying long into the night for the “sinners” of today who are self-righteous and causing horrific harm to innocent ones – as well as for all the healthcare providers and first responders. Dominic would be praying for us – sinners and saints alike. He would be preaching through example and from church and public square alike of the need for humility, repentance, the common good, and the mercy of God for all of us. May we have the same inner conviction that God is working in and through us, despite setbacks and disappointments. Dominic knew about prolonged disappointments; he experienced years of failure while pastoring in Fanjeaux where after 10 years of preaching there were a mere six Albigensian – Cathar women who converted. These women remained under Dominic’s protection in Prouilhe and became the foundation of the Order over 800 years ago – and remain so today. May we have similar trust in God’s working in and among us in the world today. May we too come to know the world as both sacramental and incarnational, recognizing God’s presence infused in all of creation. So while Dominic left no written directions for us he did leave us: a love of learning and exploration a joyful spirit, an inner freedom and a trust in God’s work in and through us into the future. Dominic left us the desire to pursue and lift up the truths embedded within today’s realities some of which are hidden within scientific and technology advancements. He left us the capacity to reveal corruption and suffering; he left us the desire to set people free. As we do these works – and as we pray in support of those who are able to do this actively – (not unlike the first women of Prouilhe) then we too become the joyful preachers living out the promise of an unfolding future filled with hope. Father Dominic, pray for us.