All Dominican, All Day Print
Written by Sherry   
Wednesday, 08 August 2007 07:42


I thought it would be fun to focus upon the life, spirit, and mission of St. Dominic and the early Dominicans today.

I realize that some of our readers may not realize that the Catherine of Siena Institute is an apostolate of the
Western Dominican Province and arose 10 years ago out of my collaboration with
Michael Sweeney, OP.

Fr. Mike, of course, is a finalist is the "Mr. OP Universe Contest" which will be covered by ESPN once again this year and Br. Matthew Miller is a Dominican in training. And of course, Fr. Anthony and Clara, our Australian Co-Directors, are both OPs (Clara is a third order Dominican).

If any of them have time on this feast day, I will try to chivvy them into posting. As far as I'm concerned, if they abandon the airwaves to She-who-is-not-OP, they deserve what they get.

I'd like to start with excerpts from a simply wonderful talk by Paul Murray, OP:

Dominicans and the New Wine of the Gospel
about the Wine of Gospel Joy": the role of passion, joy, and enthusiasm in early Dominican preaching and spirituality.

Blessed Cecilia has also handed down to us another story concerning Dominic in which a great burst of laughter is recorded. What provoked the laughter was an unusual miracle he worked in the Church of St Sixtus. According to the ancient account, Dominic, with unrestrained enthusiasm, unmasked the Evil One who had come flying into the Church disguised as a bird in order to prevent him preaching. All the Dominicans who were present, both the brethren and the sisters, at once burst out laughing (subridentibus fratribus et sororibus). Although many saints, over the centuries, have worked miracles which have moved crowds of people to wonder and amazement, in all of Christian hagiography, I have never heard of a miracle which provoked immediate and joyous laughter among those present. Blessed Cecilia, in her Legenda, refers to it as "iocundum miraculum," "a laughter-stirring miracle."

Laughter was by no means always approved of in the Middle Ages. For example, the medieval contemplative, Mechtild of Magdeburg (who enjoyed for many years a close connection with the Dominican Order) admits that up to a certain stage in her life she considered laughing not only frivolous but "wrong". What changed Mechtild's mind on the subject was a vision she received once on the feast of St Dominic. The Lord explained to her, first of all, that Dominic was a great example of moderation, that he never troubled his fellow Dominicans "with things arising from some whim of his own" and that, in fact, "he often improved the food to help and show affection for his brethren, so that the young brothers might not think back on the world and so that the older ones might not succumb on the way." But then, addressing directly the subject of laughter, the Lord added, and the sentence is memorable, "Whenever Dominic laughed, he did so with the true delight of the Holy Spirit." Another German, the great Dominican, Meister Eckhart, also dares to speak of God's laughter and of "laughter" at the very heart of the Trinity. In an astonishing passage he writes : "the Father laughs at the Son and the Son at the Father, and the laughing brings forth pleasure, and the pleasure brings forth joy, and the joy brings forth love."