St Dominic - Part 1
In the Libellus, Bl Jordan tells us that Dominic, while studying theology in preparation for the priesthood ” began to develop a passionate appetite for God’s words, finding them (as the psalm says) sweeter than honey to the mouth”. These words ‘ a passionate appetite for God’s words’ gives us an insight into Dominic’s character and spirituality. Dominic gave himself totally, wholeheartedly, with a singlemindedness of purpose and an undivided heart to the mission of the Order, for Jordan says later on in that same book that: ‘Dominic thought he would only really be a member of Christ’s Body when he could spend himself utterly with all his strength in the winning of souls, just as the Lord Jesus, the Saviour of us all, gave himself up entirely for our salvation’.
Dominic gave his ‘all ‘ – there were no half measures with him – he was passionate about the things that really mattered. His spirituality was deeply rooted in the word of God, in Sacred Scripture – the deepest source of his inspiration was his love of The Word, Jesus Christ. This passionate appetite for God’s word led Dominic to study and ponder the sacred scriptures so deeply, becoming so familiar with them, that it was said of him that he knew the Gospel of Matthew and the letters of St. Paul almost by heart.
This indeed suggests long hours of reading, pondering and study. We are told in the words of Jordan that : ‘Dominic’s eagerness to imbibe the streams of holy scripture was so intense and so unremitting that he spent whole nights almost without sleep, so untiring was his great desire to study’ and he goes on to say ‘that the truth which he received he stored away in the deepest recesses of his mind and guarded in his retentive memory’ - and what a memory he had!
In the early days of the Order there was not a clear distinction, as there is today, between study, lectio divina and prayer. They were all combined in a single activity, were very much intermingled and the words used interchangeably. Dominic imparted to his followers this love of scripture, always encouraging them to be “eager students of the word of God.”
Dominic believed in the power of God’s word and this is evidenced by the fact that he sent his friars out to preach, some of whom were only novices,’ – “simply in the strength of the Gospel itself”. Dominic believed in the power of God’s word to save. Paul describes it in Romans as: “the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith”( Rom1:16)
- It is not only truth; it is power.
- It not only teaches; it is at work in us.
- It not only shows us models to imitate; it causes us to act.
As the letter to the Hebrews says: ” The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow”(4:12)
As nuns of the Order of Preachers the Word of God is of vital importance in our lives too. Our Constitutions state that: by allowing the seed which is the word of God to grow in our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit we are interiorly renewed and more closely conformed to Christ .( Const. No. 99) While our brothers and sisters preach the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ throughout the world, we, the Nuns seek, ponder and call upon him in solitude, – ” we seek mainly through study, ” we ponder through lectio divina and ” we call through prayer – so that, in the words of the prophet Isaiah, the word proceeding from the mouth of God as preached by our brothers and sisters will not return to him empty but may accomplish those things for which it was sent, – which is ultimately the salvation of all people.