2023 Morning Prayer for the Feast of St. Dominic Preaching by Sister Mary Ann Dixon, OP Tuesday, August 8, 2023 Ephesians 3:7-9, 11-12 When I was asked to share a brief reflection on St. Dominic today, I was tasked with introducing Dominic, telling stories for the Co-workers and the Sisters. So here is Dominic, the CliffsNotes Edition. I’ll ask the Sisters to think about a question, and I’ll share a few of the legends about Dominic which reveal a bit of the essence of his life. Even as a young child, Dominic preached to his friends. As a young man in service to the Church, he was a companion to a bishop, and in their travels they saw many effects of heretical teachings from what today we might call a cult. In time, Dominic visited the town of Prouille, France, and saw a town in devastation after a war. The people had abandoned their faith. They were led astray by cults that were against the Church. There was indifference, immorality, discord, violence, greed, and civil anarchy. Sound familiar? And Dominic thought, "This is where I’ll establish a base." A religious sect that had taken hold attracted and recruited women, even young girls. It taught that eating, drinking, and procreation were evil and that renouncing all worldly pleasures would make them perfect. The sect believed in reincarnation, suggesting that after many lifetimes the person could become perfect, in their estimation. Some women who had left this group were impoverished because their families had rejected them. Dominic arranged a place of refuge for the women. That was the beginning. Today, his story would be a 60 Minutes episode! At the same time, Dominic also saw that only the bishop was preaching to the church members and not regularly. The people were deprived of the Word of God. An idea was emerging. Aha! He would ask the rescued women to teach the faith to children. He would begin a group of preachers and call it an "Order of Preachers," abbreviated OP – and now you know! And now to my Sisters, I ask, "Even though many of us chose the Dominican Order because we knew a Dominican Sister, as you learned more about the man Dominic, what did you grow to appreciate about him?" Perhaps you could share your answer with someone today. Here are a few snapshots from stories about Dominic. When I participated in a "Lands of Dominic" pilgrimage in the year 2000, our guide, Sister Mary Ellen Green of the Sinsinawa Dominicans, told us as we traveled from town to town and heard stories of events from those towns, "All of it is true, and some of it really happened." These "memories" represent a glimpse into the man, Dominic. Dominic didn’t preach at , he dialogued with . It was said that he spent a whole night in dialogue with an innkeeper, and by dawn the man was ready to return to the Church, abandoning the heresy he had embraced. Here we see Dominic’s ability to listen. When a famine ensued, Dominic sold all his books to buy food for the starving, thereby revealing Dominic’s compassion. In a standoff against heretics, when challenged to throw his rationale into a fire three times, he did, and three times it did not burn. Dominic’s commitment to truth was tested like gold in a furnace. Although historians cannot find sources for this, it has been said that because the Dominican Order had a democratic form of government, Thomas Jefferson was inspired by the Order when he fashioned our government. Unique, at that time, the Dominican order has always had participatory governance. Dominic was called “the joyful friar” apparently because when heretics attempted to kill him, he just laughed at their threats, saying he’d join his sufferings with those of Jesus. This story reveals Dominic’s serenity under stress. And finally, one for which I found two Dominican sources, Marie-Humbert Vicaire, OP, and Simon Tugwell, OP: On his deathbed, Dominic said to a gathering of friars and novices who were keeping vigil, “I’ve been a virgin all my life, but I have enjoyed talking to younger women more than listening to older women.” So, my Sisters (and all women of a certain vintage), let us be young at heart, giving joy to the joyful friar.