Posts Tagged ‘intimate relationship with God’

St. Dominic: Founder of the Dominican Order — His Followers Brought Christ To Vietnam

August 8, 2013

Saint Dominic (1170 – August 6, 1221) (Spanish: Santo Domingo), also known as Dominic of Osma and Dominic of Caleruega, often called Dominic de Guzmán and Domingo Félix de Guzmán (1170 – August 6, 1221), was a Spanish priest and founder of the Dominican Order. Dominic is the patron saint of astronomers.

The story is told that before his birth his barren mother made a pilgrimage to Silos and dreamed that a dog leapt from her womb carrying a torch in its mouth, and “seemed to set the earth on fire”. This story is likely to have emerged when his order became known, after his name, as the Dominican order, Dominicanus in Latin and a play on words interpreted as Domini canis: “Dog of the Lord.” Jordan adds that Dominic was brought up by his parents and a maternal uncle who was an archbishop. He was named in honour of Dominic of Silos. The failure to name his parents is not unusual, since Jordan wrote a history of the Order’s early years, rather than a biography of Dominic. A later source, still of the 13th century, gives their names as Juana and Felix. Nearly a century after Dominic’s birth, a local author asserted that Dominic’s father was “vir venerabilis et dives in populo suo” (“an honoured and wealthy man in his village”). The travel narrative of Pero Tafur, written circa 1439 (about a pilgrimage to Dominic’s tomb in Italy), states that Dominic’s father belonged to the family de Guzmán, and that his mother belonged to the Aça or Aza family. Dominic’s mother, Jane of Aza, was beatified by Pope Leo XII in 1828.

In 1194, around age twenty-five, Dominic joined the Canons Regular in the canonry of Osma, following the rule of Saint Benedict.

Dominic founded “The Order of Preachers” (“Ordo Praedicatorum”, or “O.P.,” popularly known as the Dominican Order).

Dominic is a good example of self-sacrifice. By following a rigorous path  of never accepting more than was absolutely necessary, he lost interest in much of the material things of this world.

He allowed himself no luxuries.

Dominic abstained from meat, “observed stated fasts and periods of silence”, “selected the worst accommodations and the meanest clothes”, and “never allowed himself the luxury of a bed”.”When travelling, he beguiled the journey with spiritual instruction and prayers.”  “As soon as Dominic passed the limits of towns and villages, he took off his shoes, and, however sharp the stones or thorns, he trudged on his way barefooted”, and that “rain and other discomforts elicited from his lips nothing but praises to God”.

Dominic died at the age of fifty-one, “exhausted with the austerities and labours of his career”.He had reached the convent of St Nicholas at Bologna, Italy, “weary and sick with a fever”. Guiraud states that Dominic “made the monks lay him on some sacking stretched upon the ground” and that “the brief time that remained to him was spent in exhorting his followers to have charity, to guard their humility, and to make their treasure out of poverty”. He died at noon on 6 August 1221 .There is a school called Saint Dominics College in Henderson, they are known to be the best catholic college in Auckland.

The spread of the Rosary, a Marian devotion, is attributed to the preaching of St. Dominic.


The Dominican Order and Dominican Spirituality

The spiritual tradition of Dominic’s Order is punctuated not only by charity, study and preaching, but also by instances of mystical union. The Dominican emphasis on learning and on charity distinguishes it from other monastic and mendicant orders. As the Order first developed on the European continent, learning continued to be emphasized by these friars and their sisters in Christ. These religious also struggled for a deeply personal, intimate relationship with God. When the Order reached England, many of these attributes were kept, but the English gave the Order additional, specialized characteristics. This topic is discussed below.

“Dominican Friars for Life” at the 2009 March for Life in Washington, DC

Dominic’s search for a close relationship with God was determined and unceasing. He rarely spoke, so little of his interior life is known. What is known about it comes from accounts written by people near to him. St. Cecilia remembered him as cheerful, charitable and full of unceasing vigor. From a number of accounts, singing was apparently one of Dominic’s great delights. Dominic practiced self-scourging and would mortify himself as he prayed alone in the chapel at night for ‘poor sinners.’ He owned a single habit, refused to carry money, and would allow no one to serve him.

The spirituality evidenced throughout all of the branches of the Order reflects the spirit and intentions of its founder, though some of the elements of what later developed may have surprised the Castilian friar. Fundamentally, Dominic was “…a man of prayer who utilized the full resources of the learning available to him to preach, to teach, and even materially to assist those searching for the truth found in the gospel of Christ. It is that spirit which [Dominic] bequeathed to his followers”.


My own experience of St. Dominic is though the many Vietnamese priests of the Dominican Order.

Portuguese Dominican missionaries began to arrive in Vietnam in the early 16th century and there must have been conflict with local power groups from the very beginning.  Some of the earliest priests included John of the Holy Cross and John de Arjona.  The mission had some success when the Jesuits joined the Dominicans. Among the earliest martyrs were Spanish Dominicans, Francisco Gil de Federich, who had a fruitful apostolate during nine years in prison, and Alonzo Lenziana, who as a fugitive for thirteen years, ministered faithfully but secretly to the native Christians. During the 17th and 18th centuries, it is believed that up to 100,000 Christians were martyred.

In 1975, soon after the communist takeover of South Vietnam, all schools, social services centers, and formation houses of Vietnamese Dominicans were seized and all foreign Dominicans were expelled. The majority of native Dominicans survived by working on local farms and their religious lifestyle had to now accommodate harsher living conditions. Many lost their lives under the circumstances, while others returned to their families.

Despite this struggle, the order has continued to exist and flourish. Support for the Dominican Order in Vietnam has also come from overseas Dominican communities, including a regional vicariate based in Canada.

One of the heroes of the Catholic Church in Vietnam in recent years has been Cardinal François-Xavier Nguyen van Thuan, who, after spending 13 years in prison there, came to live in Rome where he died in 2002. In 2007 Pope Benedict approved the introduction of his cause for beatification. Today there are 26 Catholic dioceses in Vietnam. There are 2228 parishes and 2668 priests. Catholics are about 7% of the 85 million population.


A Brief History about the Regional Vicariate of St. Vincent Liêm

One of my favorite priests in Vietnam is Father Alexandre de Rhodes, a Jesuit who created the Vietnamese written language still in use today.

Among my favorite Vietnamese priests still living today is Father Nguyen Van Ly who remains a political prisoner of Vietnam’s Communist Government despite suffering multiple strokes.

Compiled by

John Francis Carey
Peace and Freedom

Vietnam has been on a campaign to put the muzzle on people: Here Father Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly being restrained from talking at his own trial in Vietnam — Father Ly is one of Vietnam’s most prominent dissidents and has been a strong advocate for religious freedom and democracy for over 40 years. If his case is discussed by Vietnam’s bloggers, the communist government tries to find out who is involved so they can punish the bloggers….Father Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly remains in prison somewhere in Vietnam. Please pray for him.

See also:

Above: The last Bishop of Saigon before the communist take over in 1975, Bishop François Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, was held in confinement for almost 13 years (9 years in solitary confinement) as a prisoner of the communist prison system; ultimately saying “I needed to stay where God wanted me” and “I have no animosity toward my captors.” He was never tried or sentenced.

Ten Rules of François-Xavier Nguyễn Văn Thuận

  • I will live the present moment to the fullest.
  • I will discern between God and God’s works.
  • I will hold firmly to one secret: prayer.
  • I will see in the Holy Eucharist my only power.
  • I will have only one wisdom: the science of the Cross.
  • I will remain faithful to my mission in the Church and for the Church as a witness of Jesus Christ.
  • I will seek the peace the world cannot give.
  • I will carry out a revolution by renewal in the Holy Spirit.
  • I will speak one language and wear one uniform: Charity.
  • I will have one very special love: The Blessed Virgin Mary

Prayer and Meditation for Friday, May 31, 2013: Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

May 30, 2013

Related image

The Visitation, from Altarpiece of the Virgin — Art By Jacques Daret (c. 1404 – c. 1470)

Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Lectionary: 572

Reading 1 Zep 3:14-18a

Shout for joy, O daughter Zion! Sing joyfully, O Israel! Be glad and exult with all your heart,  O daughter Jerusalem! The LORD has removed the judgment against you, he has turned away your enemies; The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst, you have no further misfortune to fear. On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem: Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged! The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; He will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, He will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals.

Or Rom 12:9-16

Brothers and sisters: Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor. Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the holy ones, exercise hospitality. Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Have the same regard for one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly; do not be wise in your own estimation.

Responsorial Psalm Is 12:2-3, 4bcd, 5-6

R. (6) Among you is the great and Holy One of Israel. God indeed is my savior; I am confident and unafraid. My strength and my courage is the LORD, and he has been my savior. With joy you will draw water at the fountain of salvation. R. Among you is the great and Holy One of Israel. Give thanks to the LORD, acclaim his name; among the nations make known his deeds, proclaim how exalted is his name. R. Among you is the great and Holy One of Israel. Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement; let this be known throughout all the earth. Shout with exultation, O city of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel! R. Among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.

Gospel Lk 1:39-56

Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”
And Mary said: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm, he has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children for ever.”
Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.
Homily Ideas for the Visitation

I treasure this reading commonly known as “The Visitation” for many reasons.  For one thing, the story prominently features two women – Mary and Elizabeth.  What a refreshing change from the Patriarchal bias found all over the Bible that tends to push the women into the margins of the story. (A tendency that continues on into the Church…. but that’s a tale for another day.)

Notice the intimate experience of God and relationship in the story.  Elizabeth is so “filled with the Holy Spirit” she can’t help but cry out in joy.  Mary, too, is overwhelmed with God’s presence, moving her to profess one of the great prayers of praise in the Catholic tradition (The Magnificat) which begins with the words: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.”

The connection between the two women, described by Luke as “cousins”, is so deep that Elizabeth instinctly knows the miracle that has happened to Mary (“the baby leapt in my womb”) before Mary does or says anything.   The story concludes by simply stating that Mary “remained with Elizabeth for three months” – presumably, in a spirit of deep and abiding friendship.

No coincidences there.  An intimate relationship with God inevitably leads us to intimate relationships with others.  And intimate relationships with others inevitably leads us into an intimate relationship with God.  Such a circle of abiding Love can’t help but produce within us into a deep concern for and commitment to the poor and lowly – a major theme of the entire Magnificat!

Jim Philipps (3rd millennium pilgrim)