On this Solemnity of St Dominic we look back at our Patron’s life with more urgency than in the past. St Dominic lived in the late 12th and early 13th century and throughout Europe the people were turning from the true Church and falling into lax practices and apathy. St Dominic himself, on his first mission outside of Spain, witnessed in Southern France the damage done by the Albigensian Heresy, a dualistic theology which saw the physical world as corrupt, a creation of Satan and the spiritual world as good, created by God. And despite attempts by the Church to re-evangelize these people the heresy, thrived. Fr. Dominic de Guzman, with his zeal for the Lord and for the Lord’s people decided to address this problem – in another way. He went through the region, not living apart from the people and just preaching to them about the error of their ways; but living among them and showing by example and words what the Church was truly about. It was during these years in Southern France that St Dominic realized the need for a new stream of spirituality, one of simplicity, continual learning and spiritual poverty that would witness to the Lord’s plan. Along with another great saint of his day, St Francis of Assisi he understood that living among the people was the way to their hearts and minds; that this ministry was the way to bring the people to Christ and Christ to the people.
Today, we see the same general malaise in our society and lax spiritual awareness of God’s plan. We are living in a time that is seeing an almost reverse Albigensian heresy – where materiality and our successes with it are viewed as the ultimate good; and things spiritual are viewed as restrictive and almost evil. And even though the disease of the soul is different; the answer is still the same. We need, by our witness of our lives and our words, to bring Christ to the people and people to Christ.
Events in the past few years have shown us that society is still in need of true knowledge, simply explained and radically lived. It is up to us, believers in the Gospel, to shine the light of love on our land, as did St Dominic in his time. But to do this best, we need to challenge ourselves to learn the faith of our Fathers, the faith of the Church, the true message of Christ as proclaimed by His bride. In October of this year the Year of Faith is beginning, and we are urged by our Holy Father to dig deeply into this rich deposit of God’s plan; to learn about our faith not only to deepen our understanding but to re-evangelize the world. May the intercessions of our Patron St Dominic de Guzman to our Heavenly Father bring us the resolve, courage and strength to go out and proclaim the Gospel with the same spirit of wisdom and understanding that was given to him.