Prior’s Sermon for the Closing of the 800th Jubilee

Preached by Fr. Luke Clark, OP at the closing vespers for the 800th Jubilee of the Order of Preachers on Saturday, January 21st.

To Christ be glory forever!

Today in Rome, our Holy Father Pope Francis, with our Master, Father Bruno and the curia and members of the world wide Dominican Family celebrated the closing Mass of the 800th of jubilee of the Order.

To Christ be glory forever!

I love the episode from St. Dominic’s life that is depicted above our high altar. It’s when Saint Dominic had a vision when he was in heaven, and looking around and could not find any Dominicans. There were all of these other religious orders throughout heaven, but no Dominicans! Can you imagine, how disappointing that would be? I can imagine him saying to himself: “What have I been doing with my life?  Where did I go wrong?  How is this whole thing I’ve been working on been defective? I must be a horrible priest leading all of these people astray!”
And then going to our Lord, He asks about this.  Our Lord simply points to our Lady and she opens her mantel.  And under her mantle are the all of these Dominican Saints. What a relief!

This show us Dominicans the centrality of our Lady in the Order life for sure. She is our unique patroness and has had a singular relationships with us from the beginning. We owe much of our accomplishments in preaching to her.

When I think about this episode, I some times think about who he say under her mantle. I’m sure there were people he recognized.  And hopefully a myriad more he didn’t know.  They would be his brothers and sisters throughout the history of our Order.  Our Dominican litany of saints and blessed reveals the identity of some of them.

What an awesome vision to have.  Many have prayed for a vision of St. Dominic as they grow in our way of life. And that’s a very wonderful and pious prayer.   For me, I can forgo a vision of St. Dominic.  Rather I pray he had a vision of me, in heaven, right under our Lady’s mantel.  I also pray that he saw all of you!

For 800 years the Church has recognized in our way of life a legitimate way of following our Lord Jesus, proclaiming His gospel for the salvation of souls. In their fidelity to this life, the Saints and Blesseds of the Order bare witness to the fact that what we have vowed our selves to works. It is a proven method of holiness that has been incarnated throughout the four corners of the earth and found expression through out the ages.

Our Order was founded only:

  • 162 years after the great schism.
  • 70 years before the invention of eyeglasses.
  • 224 years before the printing press.
  • 276 Years before the discovery of the new world.
  • 306 Years before the protestant reformation.
  • 536 years before the discovery of electricity.
  • 560 years before the founding of our country.
  • 652 years before the invention of the typewriter.
  • 663 years before the light bulb.
  • 661 years before the first recorded human voice.
  • 669 years before the automobile.
  • 674 years before the first movie. (what did they do for recreation?)
  • 687 years before the airplane.
  • 767 years before Al Gore invented the internet.

All these things, which we now take for granted in our life and ministry, our ancestor went without and carried on Dominican life. Think of all the changes in the world. The order had to adapt over and over in order to provide for our common life and preach the gospel throughout these 800 years. Each epic had unique challenges. Each epic presented opportunities for us to preach. And each epic had evil threats that could have destroyed our way of life.

We receive our charism, which has been handed to us as the unique gift of the Holy Spirit that it is.  We should not take this for granted. We must actively work to protect it, nurture it and and live it authentically. This gift has been uniquely facile enough to engage each age without losing its defining aspects.  We have taken the good developments in the world and capitalized on them for the sake of Christ.  We have also had to combat the errors of each age.  For each age had had its own temptations, it’s own heresies, it’s own abuses and its own corruption.  And the members of our Order have been children of their age. In order to grow in virtue and holiness, all of these had to be examined, purified with falsity driven out.  For we first preach to ourselves, and our common life is a sure antidote to the evils of the world.

It’s truly amazing when you think of it and it’s certainly a work of God.  In many was we have been shielded from ourselves, because left to our devices there’s no way this thing would have lasted.  When you look our history with all of the Saints through out the years, one can only stand in awe of how God has blessed us. We stand in awe, but we do not romanticize. There are many things that could gone another direction.  So we take the discernment of our own time seriously and we actively engagement in our own renewal.

We have so much to celebrate in our Jubilee! To Christ be glory for ever! We do not rest on our past accomplishments in the service of our Lord, but we heed the call that each of us receives, to do what our saints have done.   To actively engage in preaching the gospel in service to the Church in our owe age. We seek to live our common life in a way to assist each other in the pursuit of virtue and holiness. And we ask the good Lord to bless us in our resolve to sever him as children of Saint Dominic. We pray that on the day had had his vision of heaven, St. Dominic saw of each of us gathered under our Lady’s mantel so that we may join him in spending eternity praising, blessing and proclaiming our Lord’s goodness.

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