St. Dominic by El Greco

St. Dominic by El Greco

I received this book in the mail this morning and I am currently reading it. One thing I have learned so far is how St. Francis and St. Dominic complement each other. Both of them were all afire for the Lord, but in very different ways. St. Francis was the classic extrovert, while St. Dominic was much more introverted and quiet.

Objectively speaking, we know very little about St. Dominic as a historical person. The earliest writings about him come only 20 or 30 years after his death. St. Dominic did not leave any written document or any Rule. The only thing that we have is the testimony of his confreres at his canonization and the writings of several contemporaries. In many ways, St. Dominic is shrouded in mystery.

It seems to me, however, that St. Dominic would have wanted it that way. By all accounts, he was a quiet man. When it came to questions of the faith, he could explain it like nobody else. Once, he learned that he was staying at the house of an Albigensian and stayed up all night defending the Catholic faith and answering the man’s questions. Indeed, preaching was the main focus of his life and of the Order he founded.

In the testimony of his confreres, St. Dominic is a very quiet and self-effacing man. Although he was never afraid to be severe when need be, gentleness was at the heart of his spirituality. It was said that when he reprimanded a brother by disciplining him, he would always weep when meting out the policy. Indeed, St. Dominic wept constantly as his companions said.

Yet aside from this, St. Dominic also observed strict silence. There are few records in the contemporary documents about his actual sermons. We know that they did great wonders for the glory of God and other people, but we do not know their contents. Therefore, the image of St. Dominic that we receive is one of a silent man who spoke when need be. 

In many way, this silence and sensitivity are things that are unknown in our world today. Tears are taboo and sensitivity is seen as effeminate. Yet there was nothing effeminate in St. Dominic or St. Francis. Both of them were men who sought the salvation of the souls that were entrusted to them. They wept because they understood the high price that had been paid for those souls by Our Savior. They wept because they were sensitive to the misery and suffering that surrounded them.

Our Lady of the Angels, pray for us!

St. Dominic, pray for us!