2023 Feast of St. Dominic Preaching by Sister Patricia Harvat, OP Tuesday, August 8, 2023 Isaiah 52:7-10 2 Timothy 4:1-8 Matthew 5:13-19 We place upon your table a gleaming cloth of white: The weaving of our stories, the fabric of our lives; The dreams of those before us, the ancient hopeful cries, The promise of our future: our needing and our nurture lie here before our eyes. - "We Come to Your Feast," song by Michael Joncas At any time during meals or even during physical therapy, you can hear family stories being told about people’s grandparents, parents, or siblings. Some are serious, some are comical, and some have been embellished through the years. What all the family stories have in common is they try to relate what was important to that family. Stories reveal values and priorities of how life was to be lived. Dominic left us family stories. He did not leave behind books or documents. The stories we have evoke wonder and not explanation . So I thought today I would relate a few of those stories and look at what values they reflect, and then consider "what is our living legacy of Dominican stories?" There are three characteristics Dominic would want us to remember in listening to these stories: Trust in God Tenderness with others Truthfulness with himself The final line of the Gospel, “Know that I am with you always until the end of the world,” was something Dominic trusted to be very true. He trusted God was and always would be with him in any circumstance of his life. As he prayed overlooking the valley of Prouhile and saw a ball of fire, he trusted this was God’s inspiration to begin the Order of Preachers. He continued to trust in God as he sent the friars out two by two all over, trusting in the gratuitousness of God’s love and mercy to guide and protect them. And then we know his invitation to women and men, married and single, to be a part of this new group was complete trust that God would see it flourish. In doing so Dominic established a full lay ecclesial community. The second characteristic is tenderness with others. Isaiah’s reading reminds us of Dominic’s journeys. “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good tidings.” As Dominic walked up and down roads leading to many cities he encountered many people. He saw the poor begging along the road side as he carried his books of learning. That’s when we hear the story of Dominic saying, “How can I study from these costly books made from the skin of animals while the people I pass do not have enough to eat?” I like to always think he learned this kind of tenderness from his mother, who we will recall gave the best wine from the family wine cellar to those who came to the door begging. Dominic was tender with the friars also. Each superior was empowered to dispense the friars from any particular requirement of the rule which might interfere with the work of saving souls. Hence a friar could miss prayers if he had to study for preaching. There is another story of a novice who had some issues and was brought to Dominic asking him to dismiss him. After a dialogue with the novice Dominic said we need to give him a second chance. The third characteristic is truthfulness with himself. The second letter of Timothy reflects well Dominic’s sense of self: “Preach the word, stay with the task convenient or not, be steady and self-possessed.” We can only imagine his many conversations with the Albigensians who were so confused about their faith. We remember the story of the innkeeper and Dominic staying up all night till he helped him see the truth. So what is our legacy of stories that we have to tell? To people like Jamie, who will be joining us as a candidate in September; to or our Sisters under 70; or to our Associates, Co-workers, and Partners in Mission? Or today on this feast, what Dominican family stories do you have to share at lunch or supper? Especially over a nice glass of wine or sparkling water! Dominic’s mother would be happy to see that! What story of trust in God would be important for you to share that would be helpful to someone struggling with trust? And from your many ministerial experiences: What do you remember about your tenderness with others, or giving someone a second chance? And perhaps something more personal: How you were truthful with your self and how did this lead to a deepening of your Dominican vocation? The author Amy Tan wrote, “The path of our lives is the stories that we remember.” The path of our lives is revealed in our Dominican family stories that are as interesting and fascinating -- if not as humorous -- as our own family stories that we remember. People want to know: How did you fall in love with God? What adventures have you had in seeking God? How did you find God during your quest that has lasted 30, 40, or 50-plus years? Dominic left us a living legacy in each other. Its legacy continues to shape us. Holy Father Dominic, We place upon our table a gleaming cloth of white: The weaving of our stories, the fabric of our lives; The dreams of those before us, the ancient hopeful cries, The promise of our future: our needing and our nurture lie here before our eyes. Let us celebrate that today as Sisters, to one another and to our many friends!