Blessed Jordan of Saxony was the first successor of St. Dominic as Master of the Order of Preachers. He wrote the first work about the Order, his Libellus on the Beginnings of the Order of Preachers. He was renowned for his prudence in administration, as well as his ability to attract and receive vocations to the Dominicans. As a result, he is the patron of vocations for the Dominican Order. Here are five examples from Bl. Jordan on finding one’s vocation and leading others to theirs. Please pray for the men currently on a vocation weekend at the Dominican House of Studies.
- Bring a friend.
Bl. Jordan recounts in his Libellus how the preaching of Bl. Reginald of Orleans inspired him and many men to join the Order of Preachers. Although little known in our time, Reginald was a well-known and well-educated cleric who joined the Dominican friars—our first “big catch.” His dynamic and fiery preaching brought the first great wave of vocations into Dominic’s fledging Order. Jordan, and his dear friend Henry, were among these.
Jordan recounts how Reginald’s preaching moved him to recognize the Dominican Order as a “sure road to salvation.” His friend Henry, though, was dragging his feet. Jordan remained determined to enter with his best friend and companion in holiness. But Henry resisted. Then one night, they searched out a church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and as he and Henry were praying there after Matins, Henry received a vision and the grace to enter the Order. Finally, on Ash Wednesday, they went together to the Dominican priory in Paris, and entered the Order. They may have been the first pair of friends to enter the Order together, but they certainly were not the last.
- Have good timing.
As Jordan and Henry arrived at the Dominican priory, they listened to the friars chanting the Ash Wednesday chant Immutemus habitu, which begins, “let us change our garments for ashes…” Of course, they couldn’t help but hear the fuller sense of the chant, which states literally, “let us change our habit.” Jordan comments, “we presented ourselves before [the friars], much to their surprise, and, putting off the old man, we put on the new, thus suiting our actions to what they were singing.”
- Make extra habits.
One early collection of stories about Bl. Jordan compares the Dominican priories to beehives. That’s how quickly vocations boomed in the early Order. Jordan, as Master of the Order, had such confidence in God’s Providence that, before he visited Paris, “he had many tunics made, trusting in God that he would receive new brothers.”
One year, on the feast of the Purification, twenty-one students from Paris received the habit— and despite Jordan’s foresight, they still ran one short. Finally, the friars each had to lend a part of his own habit: the tunic, the scapular, and so on, so that the final brother could be clothed.
- Pray for perseverance.
The other important part of getting vocations is keeping them. St. Thomas Aquinas explains that God wants to give some things to us, only at our asking Him. When Bl. Jordan was Master of the Order, he met a novice who wanted to leave the Order. After resolving to do so, he asked and received Bl. Jordan’s permission. After giving the brother permission to go, he decided to ask him to stay. But this didn’t work. And since it happened to be Pentecost, Bl. Jordan led the friars in the hymn to the Holy Spirit Veni Creator. As this brother was leaving, he suddenly received the grace of conversion. The friars obtained his perseverance through these prayers—and this friar became a good and holy teacher and preacher.
- Pawn stuff.
Some new problems are old problems. Repaying debts is a matter of justice. Then, as now, men were held back from entering the Dominicans because of their student debt. Jordan, with his limited means, tried to find a solution to this problem. The same early collection of stories notes that “Jordan often pawned his Bible to pay the debts of students who entered.”
Would you like to read more about Bl. Jordan of Saxony? You can read his book, the Libellus on the Beginnings of the Order of Preachers, and you can read collections of stories about him here.
Image: Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P., Untitled