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St Dominic Guzmán
Founder of the Order of Preachers (O.P., aka the “Dominicans”) (entered heaven this day in 1221)
It’s nice to have a big enough COMPASS chapter that you can organize grand events like the Campus Pow-Wow and the Sundown Serenity Concert. But need I remind you that big events aren’t ends in themselves? Adolph Hitler organized some of the biggest events in the twentieth century, but I don’t think they’re watching the videos in heaven. Don’t get me wrong, the bigger the event, the more people you reach, the more you can do for the Kingdom – I agree. But you have to make sure that the event actually does do something for the Kingdom; it’s easy to lose focus when you’re busy tallying numbers. Today’s saint can help keep you clear-sighted.
In fact, Dominic 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 (the Albigensians 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). The two 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, Dominic visited the monastery of Citeaux, which had been put in charge of combating Albigensianism, which was spreading like wildfire in southern France and northern Spain. 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.
Dominic directed his energetic efforts to the needs of the people he was trying to help. He identified the source of the poison, and attacked it. Whether your events are big or small (and I pray they continue to be big and get bigger), if they aren’t pouring Christ’s love and truth into the real wounds of the people who participate, the devil may find them entertaining, but you’ll be wasting your time.
Your devoted uncle, Eddy