I was reading the book about the Dominicans I had mentioned in a previous post, when I noticed how much competition and quarreling there was between them and the Franciscans. I suppose that one reason for this comes from the fact that the two Orders had very different views about many things including poverty and asceticism. As I pointed out yesterday, St. Francis was more or less a burning seraph, while St. Dominic was much more introverted in his mysticism.
For one thing, the Dominicans and the Franciscans argued about whether a friar should wear shoes or not. The Dominicans wore shoes from the beginning, but the Franciscans didn’t. In fact, there was a Franciscan friar who ruined his feet by walking without shoes. The main reason for this difference is the interpretation of the evangelical counsel of poverty. St. Francis took this very literally and thought that if the Lord said, “Take no shoes…” then that meant that people would go barefoot.
This literal interpretation of Scripture is also apparent in the two founders’ approaches toward education. St. Francis believed that the friars should preach from what was in their hearts, while St. Dominic believed his friars should receive an education in order to teach.
Once again, the differences can be seen in the backgrounds of their founders. St. Dominic came from a clerical background and had spent a great deal of his life studying the Scriptures and working as a canon. St. Francis, on the other hand, was educated enough to be able to read and write.
I could continue to list the differences for a while, but I think that it is pointless for me to do so. The important thing is that both of these men had an impact on their communities and the Catholic Church. Both St. Francis and St. Dominic approached the problem of preaching. St. Francis looked at preaching as something that came from the heart, while St. Dominic believed that it was intellectual arguments and appealing to the emotions that helped to convert people.
In a way, St. Francis and St. Dominic complement each other in different ways. One of them was all on fire for the faith, while the other was cool as ice. Although there is a famous story about their meeting that is probably apocryphal, I do wonder what it would be like to sit at a table and chat with them and ask them theological questions.