St Dominic Guzmán

Founder of the Order of Preachers (O.P., aka the “Dominicans”) (entered heaven this day in 1221)

Dear Don,

If you are ever to become an effective apostle (or an effective anything), you must learn how to aim.  The needs of those around you have to influence your efforts to build the Kingdom more than your personal preferences.  If someone’s real problem is a bad moral habit, arguing about papal infallibility will be useless – no matter how much you may enjoy it.  You only have a little bit of time to evangelize that decadent college culture, so you need to make every effort count. Aim smart.

Today’s saint exemplifies this ability as stunningly as he exemplifies almost all the Christian virtues.  Born and raised in Spain, Dominic showed a lively intellect and sincere piety growing up, but didn’t start to make waves until he was a young man, already serving as a priest.  On a trip through France with his bishop, he boarded for a night with an Albigensian heretic (they taught that all matter is evil, so they denied the Incarnation and the sacraments, and were causing widespread moral and social havoc in southwestern France).  They ended up spending the whole night in conversation, and St Dominic managed to show the man his errors and bring him back into the Church. Later, he visited the monastery of Citeaux, which had been put in charge of combating Albigensianism. He immediately identified the reason behind the monks’ lack of success in rooting out the heresy: they undercut their own teaching by their self-indulgent lifestyle.  What the people needed was preaching that flowed from a zealous love for truth and goodness, not a superficial attachment to tradition. Dominic took up the challenge without delay. He relocated into the heart of Albigensian territory and gathered a group of companions that would form the core of his “Order of Preachers,” dedicated to a life of simplicity, virtue, and, above all, avid and patient preaching (which required a demanding intellectual formation, a hallmark of the Dominican heritage).  By the time of his death, over sixty Dominican friaries throughout Europe were radiating the light of the gospel in both words and deeds.

St Dominic aimed well.  His charity sensitized him to the needs of those around him, enabling him to sacrifice his own preferences for their sake, and the Church has benefited ever since.  I will pray that the Holy Spirit helps you do the same; after all, college culture has its own “Albignesians” who need converting.

Love, Uncle Eddy

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