Gloria is the 11 year old cancer patient from a devout Catholic family whose progress is being extensively covered by the Seattle Times. I've blogged about Gloria twice before here on ID.
Three weeks ago, Gloria started walking again and had a wonderful two week reprieve but last week, her pain become unmanageable, and she was put into a drug-induced coma from which she is being weaned today.
The family's support community is huge and they will be praying all night in a Eucharistic Chapel for Gloria and her family. The Times reporter who is following all of this is blogging regularly and has been clearly moved by it all.
"Gloria is such an amazing little girl. Following the family's story has redefined how I view journalism. Getting to know Gloria these past few months has made me a better writer, better reporter and a better person.
I hope I will have a chance to tell her that."
"On Saturday, her parents placed a crucifix on Gloria's chest, and I couldn't stop looking at it. As the respirator filled her body with air, the crucifix would rise along with Gloria's chest. That image stays with me. The message of why she's suffering was right there, obvious with every breath.
Then I looked at a dry-eraser board in her room. It reads, "We're Here To Glorify God Through God."
Read the updates here and pray for Gloria and her tough, loving, profoundly faith-filled family.
They are running an article about Operation Plowshare - Christian education for children of war.
"In the war torn West African nation of Liberia, children who were forced to serve as soldiers during the 14-year civil war are being offered an opportunity to replace the ruthless skills of war with a Christian education. Mercy Ships is raising funds to support a Christian school in the capital Monrovia, and Christian schools across Australia are being invited to participate in the project, known as Operation Plowshare.
Mercy Ships is raising funds to support a Christian school in the capital Monrovia, and Christian schools across Australia are being invited to participate in the project, known as Operation Plowshare. ‘They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore’ (Isaiah 2:4)."
Liberia, originally founded to give an African home to former American slaves, "is described as the classic ‘failed state’ in every respect. A great proportion of Liberia’s population is illiterate, living below the poverty line, unemployed, malnourished, lacking basic health care, and with no access to safe drinking water. Almost an entire generation has missed out on formal primary education, learning instead to live by a warlord culture where force is the response to many of life’s challenges."
This school is just one of the many initiatives of a remarkable ministry called Mercy Ships which runs a fleet of hospital ships that roam the world. Founded in 1978 by a couple, Don and Deyon Step, Mercy Ships is one of those extraordinary lay initiatives that many of us haven't heard about. Yet their impact has been considerable.
Performed more than 32,500 surgeries such as cleft lip and palate, cataract removal, straightening of crossed eyes, orthopaedic and facial reconstruction.
Treated more than 212,000 people in village medical clinics. Performed more than 183,000 dental treatments.
Taught over 14,500 local health care and professional workers, who have in turn trained many others in primary health care.
Taught 95,000 local people in primary health care.
Trained local medical professionals in modern health care techniques.
Delivered more than $60 million worth of medical equipment, hospital supplies and medicines.
Completed more than 900 community development projects including construction of schools, clinics, orphanages, water wells and agriculture programs.
Demonstrated the love of God to people in over 550 port visits in 70 different nations.
More than 850 career crew from over 40 nations serve today.
More than 1,600 short-term volunteers serve with Mercy Ships each year.
Be sure and take a look at this touching tribute to crew member Collin Carroll who drowned off a Liberian beach three days short of his 22 birthday. It captures the spirit of the whole enterprise and the quality of those who serve - even if, as in Collin's case, it was only for 6 weeks.
As Collin wrote in his application to serve with Mercy Ships:
"I have two options. I can start a meaningless job that I would soon have to leave to continue my education, or I can do something that will have a profound and meaningful effect on my life while glorifying God and helping those in need. I choose the latter."
Now, I would disagree with Collin that any job is meaningless - but I certainly understand the feeling behind that statement. But consider what kind of young man he must have been to write at 21: I want to "do something that will have a profound and meaningful effect on my life while glorifying God and helping those in need."
I'm not ignoring you - but for reasons I don't understand, Blogger won't let me into comments so I can't respond to anything you write in the comboxes except by posting.
I've read all your comments and very much appreciate them! Please keep it up!
I'll blogging this coming week but I'll also be finalizing our Building Intentional Community Day (August 31 here in the Springs) and getting ready for the great onslaught on Friday when the Sheas and Curps show up. So I won't be posting "eleventy billion words" this week as one blogger has described us.
The grass is in and the garden is looking fabulous and as soon as I can get the camera back, I'll try to post pictures - if Blogger is feeling kindly toward me. We've had 2 1/2 inches of rain in the past week so just think of us as a 7,000 foot high Ireland. The lawn in the park behind is so green, it glows.
Fr. Mike will be returning to CS on Wednesday so hopefully you'll be hearing from him soon as well.
There's a break in the grass action as we do the first sod run.
So I thought I'd direct you to this post by David Schutz of Melbourne. David is a convert from Lutheranism and Fr. Mike and I got to meet him when we were in Australia last. David has styled it an "Open Letter to the Catholic Laity of Australia".
Dear Brother/Sister in Christ,
I write to you as an Australian brother in Christ to express my deep concern about several key challenges that are facing us all as Catholics. As you may be aware, a recent petition was addressed to the Catholic Bishops of Australia on the specific issues that I wish to highlight.
These specific issues are:
The acute shortage of priests in many of our Churches in Australia; The increasing drift of young people from the Church; The lack of encouragement for lay Catholics to identify, recognise and utilize their spiritual gifts for the service of the Church and world.
It is obvious to most Catholics that there is a major crisis of evangelisation and catechisation in the Catholic Church in Australia. Many lay people and priests, and some bishops, have acknowledged that there will be no solution to the major pastoral problems the Australian Catholic Churches are facing without full, conscious and active evangelisation and catechisation—although there are others who are in denial about this.
This is fear of faithful evangelisation and catechisation is limiting the Church's capacity to bring the gospel to secular Australia. It is at the root of the crisis vocations and the transmission of the faith to new generations. Yet the Church can never ignore Christ's Great Commission to proclaim the gospel to all nations, to baptise in the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and to teach everyone to keep his commandments.
We lay Catholics cannot assume that the full responsibility for this crisis of evangelisation and catechisation belongs with the bishops. We have been given the Spirit of God at our Baptism and Confirmation. We have all, young and old, men and women, lay and ordained, been called and gifted to serve Christ in the Church and in the World. While ultimate pastoral responsibility in the diocese belongs to the bishops and is exercised by our priests, we too have a role in bringing the Gospel to our society and in catechising a new generation of Catholics.
Many lay people have already sought education in theology, liturgy, scripture and pastoral care. But we are all gifted with talents in some way to serve the Kingdom of God in whatever context God has placed us.
I am therefore asking you all, individually and as a whole community, to:
Acknowledge that there is a major crisis in of evangelisation and catechisation in the Catholic Church in Australia, and to resolve to be a part of the solution rather than a part of the problem;
Acknowledge that there is no doctrinal or theological barrier to the active service of all the baptised in the Church—we each have a particular vocation within the Church, and the Holy Spirit has given each of us the gifts which are necessary to fulfil this vocation;
Take practical steps toward identifying your vocation and putting your spiritual gifts into action;
Never be ashamed to preach the Gospel, and to specifically proclaim the name of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen for our salvation: Preach in words as well as in actions--actions may be sufficient to show God's love, but are not sufficient to proclaim the fullness of the Gospel that has been revealed in Christ;
Commit yourself to the faithful catechisation of those in your care—especially if you are a parent or a teacher; and to being an apologist for the faith among your friends and relatives;
Seek out opportunities to grow in your own spiritual life: through scriptural, theological and pastoral training programs; and find a way of putting your gifts to work in your parish;
Always be ready to help others identify their Spiritual gifts and to encourage them to follow their vocation; this especially applies to your children, your students, and to other young people, and to those in whom you see the gifts for priesthood or religious life;
Take special care to include young people in the life of the parish; value them enough to speak the gospel clearly to them and to teach the authentic Catholic faith to them;
Never criticise the Church in the presence of a young person, but help them to see the beauty and splendour of the Catholic faith; Pray for our bishops and priests.
The challenge of this crisis of evangelisation and faith which we are currently facing in the Australian Catholic Churches can be met. We have the Holy Spirit. We are the Church. We will not expect others to do what is our duty. We will not be afraid to put out into the deep, proclaim the gospel and teach the faith.
The day has finally arrived. By noon, we should have a lawn in our backyard.
Those of you who thought that grass came with a house? Heh.
Not when you are smart enough to buy a 6 bedroom fixer-upper whose 1/3 acre backyard was trashed for seven years. It was a great deal. Honest. And to a former Seattlite who knew that she would never be able to own a walk-in closet in her hometown, it looked even better. Backed up against a lovely city park. Mountain views. A potential paradise. Potential being the operative word.
Potential is what reminds you to be nice to weight-lifting Dominicans and their friends who just might be looking to do some serious stone-hauling or digging.
Five years, three sessions with bull dozers, a 70 foot dry stacked stone wall, a 400 sf hand-laid patio, 1/4 mile of paths, and a high level do-it-yourself irrigation system later, we are about to summit. Grass.
It's not done. We need to plant at least 8 more trees, and fill the dozen or so beds with perennials and wildflowers. My wild flower and wild grass seeds arrived last night. I buy seeds by the pound and plants by the dozen since my flowerbeds tend toward the 4-500 sf variety. And I've got a dozen beds to fill.
Not to mention the shrubs and climbing roses and lilacs and silver lace vine to plant along the fence. And the water feature. And the deck.
Every summer, a whole lot of Mexican long-tailed bats migrate to an abandoned mine in southern Colorado and every evening at 8:18 pm sharp, you can witness them leave the cave for their nightly journeys. All 250,000 of them. A steady stream of bats pouring from the cave for 30 minutes.
This is a Shea boy thing if ever I've heard one. Hey Mark, it's only a 3-4 hour drive away and then a mile hike but what a finale! I'll loan you a car!
Hords of bats against a mountain sunset. Abandoned mines (haunted, no doubt!)waist high in bat poop.
You gotta admit that Colorado is so much cooler than Seattle.
John Allen has an interesting article in today's Wall Street Journal about Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger of Parish who died a few days ago.
"Conservative revolutionary" and "evangelical Catholic" a la Francais is Allen's take.
Lustiger was born a Jew and converted to Catholicism at 14 during World War II. "Lustiger insisted that his Christianity did not mean he had turned his back on Judaism. "I was born a Jew and so I am," he once said. "For me, the vocation of Israel is to bring light to the goyim. That's my hope, and I believe Christianity is the means for achieving it.""
Lustiger "embraced Christianity's minority status in ultrasecular France, seeing it not as a way station along the path to oblivion but rather as an invitation to beat secular intellectuals at their own game by making an aggressive case for the philosophical truth of Christian doctrines.
This attitude made Cardinal Lustiger an anomaly in French Catholicism. Before him, conservatives were those nostalgic for Christendom, longing to use the coercive power of the state to enforce church precepts. To be modern, meanwhile, was to be leftist. Lustiger's revolution was to proclaim classic Catholic principles in the context of pluralism and religious freedom, being at once modern and traditional."
As a university chaplain at the Sorbonne during the leftist turbulence of 1968, he wrote a memo to then-Cardinal François Marty of Paris arguing for a new strategy. It's time to abandon any pretense to power, he said, and aim instead at evangelization. Lustiger became bishop of Orleans in 1979, and archbishop of Paris in 1981.
In an era in which faith has to be a matter of personal conviction rather than an accident of birth, Lustiger brashly proclaimed, "We're really at the dawn of Christianity." He was utterly at home with laïcité (secularism), yet convinced that, without Christianity, French culture was fated to dissolution.
Lustiger was tough on doctrine and discipline, earning the nickname "the Iron Cardinal." Yet unlike imperial bishops of ages gone by, he was always ready to debate the underpinnings of his positions, winning admiration in a country where intellectuals enjoy pop culture adulation. His Sunday evening Masses at the Notre Dame Cathedral, styled as a form of dialogue with French culture, attracted overflow crowds in an era in which the average rate of Mass attendance hovers at around 5%.
Lustiger sounds truly remarkable. I can understand why his Masses had overflow crowds. But I wonder what was his overall impact upon French Catholicism? Was he a phenomenon, a single brilliant, dazzling personality or did his initiatives light a fire in others? Any comments?
I wrote this little essay years ago when I still lived in Seattle but all of it is still true today. I'd love to hear from you.
How do you pray today? How has your prayer changed as you have walked with Christ?
Sometimes I look back with nostalgia to my early years as a committed Christian. My life was one long vocational crisis but my days were filled with unceasing prayer. I had been raised in the evangelical Protestant tradition, which does not have a tradition of contemplative prayer. Prayer for us was nearly always seen in the light of mission. The closest we came to the Catholic understanding of union with God as the pinnacle of prayer was when we sought to be aware of God’s presence throughout every moment of the day, a spiritual practice written about by Brother Lawrence, one of the few Catholic authors that we read.
In those days, prayer of the heart, prayer for everything and everyone seemed to pour out of me in an inexhaustible flood. I sought to use everything as a reminder of God’s constant presence, to bless everyone I met, to live a life of single-hearted communion. The evangelicals I knew considered me something of a mystic and God help me, I started to look upon myself as something of an expert on prayer. I taught a number of classes on prayer - the prayer of presence, of listening, of guidance, which people seemed to find very helpful. Prayer was so central to my life that I was honestly puzzled by books on prayer that spoke of dryness and the desert experience. I had never experienced spiritual dryness and finally decided that such dryness wasn’t necessary and that somehow I had escaped it.
My relatively tidy spiritual universe was completely undone when I returned from a year living abroad. In order to deal with wounds from my childhood, I went through a program of extremely intense therapy. The experience changed my life in ways I could never have expected. I did experience dramatic healing. The pain that had filled my inner world disappeared, half of my constant, anxious, inner chatter vanished never to return, and I experienced, for the first time in my life, my own goodness, the goodness of God’s creative purposes in and through me. I entered therapy as an evangelical Quaker, but emerged with the clear and stunning conviction that I had to have access to the sacraments. To my astonishment, I found myself seriously contemplating joining the Catholic church.
There was another change that I did not grasp until later. I had never realized how much of my constant prayer had been driven, not by love, but by my own neediness and anxiety. As the interior “noise” in my head faded, so did certain experiences that I had always considered the guidance of the Holy Spirit, but which I began to realize was simply “my own stuff”. Between this profound inner change and the disorientation brought on by leaving the Christian culture I had known all my life and becoming Catholic, I slowly began to feel paralyzed in prayer.
First, I made the humiliating discovery that I was not a great prayer, but a mediocre member of a enormous family filled with spiritual giants, whose experience was light years beyond anything I had ever imagined. Even worse was realizing that my prayer life had been partially motivated by the praise and affirmation of other Christians about me. My old perception of myself as an advanced pray-er died a slow death. The prayer of quiet, as described by the Carmelite masters of spirituality, was simply incomprehensible to me. The pursuit of spiritual union, of mystical marriage, which seemed to be the Catholic ideal of holiness, seemed utterly beyond my desiring, much less my grasp.
What was wrong with me, I wondered in some anguish of spirit. Why was I so fascinated with the work of redemption and healing, with what God did in the lives of human beings, but not with the prospect of union with God? I would sit in front of the beautiful crucifix in my home parish and beg God to change me, strike me with a lightening bolt, something, anything, that would give me that desire for union with God that a good Catholic was supposed to desire above all else.
It was my Dominican pastor who gave me the first indication that there was a way out of my dilemma. He told me that there were historic Catholic spiritual paths to holiness that were primarily centered around mission rather than mystical marriage. Dominican spirituality was such a path, centered as it was around the apostolic mission of preaching and being useful to the souls of others. I now know that many of the ways in which I pray are typically “Dominican”.
First of all, I have been tremendously encouraged to realize that Dominicans had always understood study as a form of prayer, of contemplation. Study has always been a major spiritual catalyst for me and much of my prayer is rooted in and triggered as I seek to understand the universe God has made. Somehow, I had gotten the impression that contemplation always involved the silencing of all thought. The discovery that when I am struggling to understand the truth about human beings or the creation, I am really praying, that I am contemplating God, the Creator and Redeemer, has been enormously freeing.
Another thing that puzzled me was that I pray best when I’m on the move. I was dismayed by the idea that serious prayer required silent immobility, preferably in front of the Blessed Sacrament. While I have always had a strong sense of the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, I am better able to pray while walking. So I try to pray in churches that are empty so that I can take off my shoes and quietly pad about as I talk to God, stopping to bow before the altar and genuflect in front of the Blessed Sacrament. I was delighted to discover that St. Dominic was a champion prayer-walker, preferring to lag behind his brothers on their long apostolic journeys, so that he could pray as he trudged along.
One of my favorite prayer places is a nearby lake-side park, where I can often be found walking and praying before sun-rise. There on a hill that dominates the park, I stand and adore the Holy Trinity and then consciously take my place in the Body of Christ, surrounded by the communion of saints. I ask God’s blessing on the place and all the homes and families that I can see, and pray for myself, my family and friends, the redemption of all things, and the mission of the Church.
It was said of St. Dominic that he spent his day talking to others about God and his nights talking to God about the needs of others. Another great Dominican, St. Catherine of Siena recorded this word of the Lord: “You cannot do Me any service, so you must do it to your neighbor. This will be the demonstration that, by grace, you have Me in your soul.” I now understand that to be of use to others is nucleus of my own spiritual path and therefore of my prayer. The miracle is, that under the Mercy, even my walking and my wondering have been transformed into real prayer.
I should mention that a Dominican nun read this piece and sent me a lovely note assuring me that I was a true Dominican in spirit.
An excerpt from Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone SDB message at the Knights of Columbus gathering this week. Rocco calls it "the most significant message of Benedict XVI's pontificate to the church in the United States. The audience in the room may have been the top leadership of the Knights of Columbus, but it's real target goes wider -- much wider -- than that":
(Sherry's note: the emphasis is mine)
In regard to the first question, this “Yes” is quite simply the “Yes” of faith. It is our full, unmitigated acceptance of Jesus as Lord and our commitment to follow him as master and teacher. Indeed, the word “Yes” only makes sense within the context of a dialog between two persons: someone who utters the “Yes” and someone who accepts it. In the case of faith, the person to whom we utter this “Yes” is none other than the Son of God, the Anointed One, the Eternal Word made flesh. Pope Benedict has emphasized the critical need for each of us to encounter Jesus; more importantly, he has shown and continues to show – both in his words and through his life – that true fulfilment, joy, and lasting peace can only be found by saying “Yes” to God’s plan of salvation as revealed in the person of Jesus Christ. Only in intimate communication with the incarnate Son of God do we discover the grace to “put our faith into action.”
Could intentional discipleship be articulated more clearly?
And related to our focus on St. Dominic yesterday is this playful presentation that Fr. Michael Sweeney made 11 years ago to the assembly of the Western Province on Collaboration With the Laity. Read the whole thing by all means but I wanted to highlight his observations about the similarities of St. Dominic's day and our own below:
When I consider the work of the Order in such a milieu I am struck by the remarkable similarities which seem to pertain between the age of St. Dominic and our own age. St. Dominic faced a Church which appeared to be institutionally moribund in the face of the Albigensian heresy, much as our institutions, whether of diocese, parish, or Newman Center, seem inadequate in the face of the growing atheism and even paganism of modern culture.
Dominic witnessed the remarkable success of the Poverello movements of the Middle Ages which, though separated from the communion of the Church, nevertheless were inspired by a genuine evangelical zeal and a desire to follow Christ, much as we are witnessing the growth of evangelical Protestantism.
In the Albigensian heresy Dominic perceived, not just a false doctrine which was to be exposed, but a whole movement, as much cultural as it was religious, which threatened the whole fabric of medieval society, much as we are witnessing the defection of our own culture from its Christian roots.
Dominic's response was, if we can be both playful and honest, theft on a grand scale. Dominic stole from the Albigensians their zeal and their poverty, to reclaim it for Christ and his Church. He stole from the Poverello movements their evangelical zeal and their literal application of the evangelical counsels, in order that they might be placed, once again, at the disposal of the Church. He stole from Augustine his rule to accommodate his new Order, and stole from the cathedral canons their education and its place in their lives. Most significantly of all, he stole from Christ his sending of the disciples by twos, to proclaim the advent of the kingdom. The result of his thefts was the Order of Preachers.
I would like to suggest some thievery of our own. The one thread which is common to New Age, Protestant Evangelism and similar contemporary movements, is that they have mobilized their membership. They form intentional communities, with conscious and specific agenda; and no matter how little we may appreciate their ends, we should nonetheless be impressed by their means.
In truth, we were there ahead of them: the single-minded zeal of the Evangelicals bears a great resemblance to the early Order. The only theft which it is really necessary for us to engage in is from the riches of our own tradition. We can mobilize our Catholic laity, and thereby play a significant role in the renewal of our Church, simply by applying our own tradition.
There has been a goodly bit of discussion around St. Blog's about Robert George's passionate plea at First Things: Danger and Opportunity: A Plea to Catholics I'd like to use a few of his comments as a chance to pull out some realities that are not usually mentioned in a discussion of this sort:
What is in need of transformation is not the teaching of the Church but the human mind and heart to which these teachings are addressed. Christianity is a religion of transformation. No one is literally born into it; even infants at baptism are converted to it. There is not a Catholic on the planet or in the history of the Church who is not a convert.
Thank God, someone is saying this loud and clear! Absolutely.
One huge evangelical gap for Catholics is our failure to give serious attention to the development stage when our children, who were baptized as infants, must become "converts", that is, they must enter intentionally into the process of conversion which is required of all. We've tried to use Confirmation prep to do this in a half-hearted way but now that many dioceses are lowering the age of Confirmation, even this is being taken away from us.
Our catechetical practice is much more informative than transformative. We are much likely to offer concepts than Christ but it is the encounter with Christ that sets transformation in motion.
Robert George: Conversion is effected, by God’s grace, by transformative acts of the intellect and will.
George is using a sort of Thomistic short-hand here because he presumes that his theologically literate First Things audience can fill in the blanks.
But our experience is that many, many Catholics who are literate in other areas of the faith can't fill in the blanks when it comes to understanding or describing how God's grace that flows from Christ's self-giving love and our personal faith and assent work together to produce personal transformation. They can't fill in the blanks because no one has ever described the process to them in a meaningful way and especially because they have not seen it lived out in a compelling way.
The phrase "transformative acts of the intellect and will" actually falls far short of conveying all that the Council of Trent taught about the process of coming to faith for those who have reached the age of reason. And in a post-modern era, in which almost all the theological underpinnings presumed by George are missing, talking about the process of salvation in this way can be profoundly misleading.
Post-modern Catholics can and will readily assume that we are describing a completely impersonal and mechanical process - a sort of salvation by the "triumph of the will". No wonder when Peter Kreeft asked his Catholic students at Boston College why they should go to heaven, nearly all of them responded that they were saved because they were basically good people who did good things and hardly any of them mentioned Jesus Christ at all.
In the Decree on Justification, the council taught that there was a progression of spiritual "movements" on the journey to salvific faith for adults and those children who have reached the age of reason. And we must remember that what the Church is describing below is non-negotiable pre-baptismal faith, not Christian maturity.
The adult ready for baptism is described in this way:
1) Moved to initial faith by hearing the kerygma (the basic summary of the saving purposes and work of Christ in which initial faith is placed)
2) Moves freely toward God as a result of #1
3) Believes all that God has revealed to humanity through the Church a.Especially that we are justified by God’s grace through the redemption in Jesus Christ
4) Knows themselves to be a sinner
5) Trusts in the mercy and love of God for Christ’s sake
6) Repents of our sins
7) Resolves to receive baptism
8) Begins a new life by seeking to obey the commandments of God (the obedience of faith)
If we mentally and verbally collapse this journey to "acts of the intellect and will", we effectively render points 1, 2, 3a, 4, 5, 6 invisible to ourselves and to those we seek to evangelize.
Robert George: And the process of conversion is lifelong, whether one begins it a few days or weeks after birth or on one’s eighty-fifth birthday. Christ is constantly calling us to conversion and making available to us the divine graces that are its fundamental resources. We falter and fail; he lifts us up and puts us back on track. We grow in him, so long as we are faithful in responding to his acts of love for us by our acts of love of God and neighbor.
I would agree with George absolutely. With one caveat. The journey of lived conversion that George describes so clearly here begins when we say an intentional, personal "yes" to the Lord who bestowed upon us the baptismal and other sacramental graces that most of us received as infants. Our strong tendency is to presume that this intentional "yes" has been given because we were baptized even when the evidence of millions of lapsed Catholics tells us otherwise.
A great source for a good life of St. Dominic is to be found (naturlich) on the international OP website here
Dominicans writers like Simon Tugwell have observed that as charismatic a figure as Dominic was, Dominic the man does not loom nearly so large in the minds of his followers as the mission that he gave them. Unlike St. Francis, Dominic himself did not become the focus. The focus was and still is the mission.
Why? It is true that Dominic only lived 5 years after founding his Order (while early Franciscans had 16 years with Francis) and that he doesn't seem to have shared nearly as much of his inner life and spiritual experiences with his closest companions as did Francis.
The first years of the Dominican Order also saw a series of dazzlingly gifted and memorable men and women join the community and shape it: Reginald of Orleans, Jordon of Saxony, Albert the Great, Thomas Aquinas, etc. It is also true that Dominic organized his community in a manner that meant that the community could and did make decisions that were contrary to the founder's expressed preferences even during Dominic's lifetime.
It may also have something to do with the fact that Dominicans fairly quickly become involved with the Inquisition and so Dominic's name became unfairly entangled with the Black Legend. (St. Dominic was never involved with the Inquisition. He died 10 years before the first papal inquisitor was named in 1231. The irony is that 16th century Catholic Spanish painters sought to bring glory to St. Dominican by portraying him as overseeing Inquisition tribunals and executions.)
Or that intellectually oriented figures don't strike the popular imagination as winsome and lovable as a troubadour who would invent a creche.
That Dominic was an attractive, magnetic figure to those who knew him is well-documented. But the mission and the Order was understood to be more important than the man.
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