Friday, August 08, 2014

St. Dominic de Guzman - A Saint After My Own Heart

My husband, Bill, tells me that there was a tradition in his hometown, which was composed primarily of devoted Catholics who immigrated to this country from the northwestern part of Germany and Holland to southwestern Illinois, for families to name their children the saint whose feast day it was on the day of the child's birth. For example, if you gave birth on the feast day of St. John Vianney, your child would be named after him -- John if the child was a boy and Jean, if a girl.

I have confirmation from several senior citizens in Bill’s hometown that this story is indeed true. The parents of my brother - in - law, Felix, wanted to name him Ralph, but their parish priest denied their request and insisted that he be named Felix, as he was born on that saint's feast day. Can you imagine that happening today with people so demanding of all their rights and "freedoms"?

Today is the feast of St. Dominic and my birthday, and I have to admit that I am happy that tradition was not commonplace in the area where I was born, as I am not all that fond of the name Dominica. However, I have a special affinity to St. Dominic because his feast day is on my birthday. He celebrates his entrance into eternal life on the day I rejoice in the gift of my life and my entrance on earth.

My mom and my dad did have a strong devotion for the Blessed Virgin Mary, so they gave me the middle name of Marie -- the French version of Mary. I took Catherine for my confirmation name after St. Catherine of Siena -- the well-known Dominican Doctor of the Church.

Then, several years ago, I became involved with the Community of St. John, which was founded by a French Dominican priest -- Fr. Dominique Philippe -- and made my Oblature with the community.  The feast of St. Dominic is a special feast day for the Community of St. John, due to its Dominican roots.

Is this all a coincidence? I don't think so. St. Dominic has been a wonderful protector and intercessor for me in all the trials I have experienced during my life on earth. Both He and St. John the "beloved" Apostle have drawn me closer to our dear Mother who leads us to the Heart of her Son.

Today, I would like to share a little about St. Dominic -- my special protector and intercessor -- the saint whose feast day it is that we celebrate today.

Dominic Guzman was born in Castile (Spain) in 1170 to affluent aristocrats, Blessed Joan of Aza and Felix Guzman. When she was pregnant, Joan had three dreams. First, she dreamed that she would give birth to a son who would be a brilliant light to the Church.  Second, she dreamed that she gave birth to a dog and that it broke away from her, carrying in its mouth a burning torch by which it set fire to the world. A dog with a torch in its mouth later became a symbol for the order which Dominic founded, the Order of Preachers, also known as the Dominicans. Shortly before Dominic’s baptism, Joan had a third prophetic dream. On her baby's forehead appeared a bright star that illuminated the world.
When Dominic was seven he studied with his uncle, the parish priest at Gumiel d'Izan. At fourteen, he enrolled in the University of Palencia, where he completed his studies within six years. Then, he studied theology for four years.

At the age of 26, Dominic worked with a bishop whose goal was to convert the heretical Albigensians back to the true teachings of the Church. The Albigensian Heresy asserted that there are two Gods, marriage is sinful, and rejected the Trinity, Incarnation and Redemption.

St. Dominic is the Saint of the Holy Rosary. When he was preaching to the Albigensians, St. Dominic achieved little success initially. However, one day, as he was complaining of this in his prayers to the Blessed Mother, Our Lady appeared to him and gave him the Rosary, requesting him to go forth and preach it.

The place of the revelation was the little chapel of Notre Dame de La Prouille and the year was 1208. Pope Leo XIII affirmed the Dominican origin of the Rosary and in a letter to the Bishop of Carcassone, he accepted the tradition of Prouille as the place where the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St. Dominic and revealed this devotion. Thirteen popes have confirmed the tradition that Mary first revealed the Rosary devotion to St. Dominic.

St. Dominic boldly ventured into the villages of the heretics, gathered the people, and preached to them about the mysteries of salvation. As the Blessed Virgin had taught him to do, he distinguished the different kinds of mysteries and after each short instruction he recited ten Hail Mary’s. St. Dominic found great success with this new devotion, which brought about the conversion of the Albigensians. The late Dominican, Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, who was a teacher of St. Pope John Paul II when he was a student at the Angelicum in Rome, stated: "Our Blessed Lady made known to St. Dominic a kind of preaching till then unknown; which she said would be one of the most powerful weapons against future errors and in future difficulties."

St. Dominic, pray for us, for our families and loved ones, and all who have strayed away from the faith, and especially for those in our society today – all our brothers and sisters who perpetuate heresy – those who embrace and spread false doctrine. Enlighten those who are trapped in the lies of relativism and atheism. Lift the veil of darkness and deception which blinds them and lead them into the light and the reality of Truth so they may be set free to return Home to their Heavenly family. Amen.

~ copyright Jean M. Heimann 2014

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