Editor’s note: Tomorrow, November 7, marks not only the annual celebration of the Feast of All Saints of the Order of Preachers but also the opening of the Order’s 800th Anniversary Jubilee. We’re turning 800 years old! In honor of these feasts, Dominicana offers the following reflection on Dominican life, taken from a letter by Bl. Jordan of Saxony addressed to the friars in the Province of Lombardy:
Love invites me and utility persuades me to write this to you, now that an opportunity presents itself, in order to be present with you in some small way, even though I am not now able to visit you personally, as I would like. For indeed in this place of our pilgrimage, the heart of man has been evil for some time, given to faults, languid and lukewarm with regard the virtues. We have neglected our exhortations by which one brother helps another, and we have lacked that ardor of spirit which daily dries up the sloth of our own negligence and which draws its fire from the diligence of supernatural love.
I pray and warn you, my dearest brethren, with all my strength, struggling by means of him who redeemed you with his own blood and returned us to life by his holy death, that you not be unmindful of your profession. You must remember the ancient seeds through which those who have gone before us have hastened on to their rest with a steadfast spirit. These men, while they lived here, were followers of the spirit, they despised themselves, were contemptuous of the world, desiring a kingdom, strong in their patience, choosing poverty, and glowing in their love.
Out of all of these we remember one as venerable and of holy memory, that is our Father Dominic, who, while he lived among us in the flesh, walked in the Spirit. With him the desires of the flesh were not crowned, but drowned. He displayed his true poverty by sight, by dress, and by his behavior. Constant in prayer, great in compassion and in his pouring out tears for his children he was fervent in zeal for souls. Because he was not unmindful of the heights, he was safe from hardships.
His works cry out and his virtues and miracles give witness to what kind of man lived among us on earth. What kind of man even now lives with God in these last days, in which we have translated his holy body from its undefiled sepulcher to a venerable tomb, is clear from the signs worked there and is proved by his virtues.
With all these things our Redeemer, the Son of God, Jesus Christ, is glorified, who deigned to choose such a man as his servant and set him over us as our father. His institution now breathes life into our rule and the example of his shining sanctity inflames us.
I see some among you, by the mercy of God, about whom I rejoice and thank God, who, having the desire for beauty, tend their conscience, follow perfection, labor in preaching, burn for study, glow brightly for prayer and meditation, having the Lord always in your sight, as the reward of all our deeds and the judge of our souls.
Rejoice, dearest friends, that you are that kind of men, and seek to abound in this way of life more and more. And let those of you who are not yet like this take care, and give attention, that you may grow toward salvation. God has deigned to call you to perfection, not to mediocrity, by that grace in which you stand, that God who is our good and holy Savior, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, to whom be honor and dominion, now and forever. Amen.
Image: Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P., Our Holy Father Dominic (used with permission)