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Dominicans Celebrate 800 Years of Following in the Footsteps of Jesus

St Joseph Province CC
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The Order of Preachers will initiate a jubilee year on November 7 to commemorate their anniversary

ROME — Eight centuries ago Dominic de Guzmán launched one of the most influential spiritual movements in the history of Christianity.

Following in the footsteps of Jesus, the Order of Preachers sought to relive the experience of the first disciples, who went through streets of Galilee preaching the love of God in poverty.

On November 7, at their mother church of St. Sabina in Rome, the Dominican Order will initiate a jubilee year commemorating the bull promulgated by Pope Honorius III in 1216 and 1217, which ratified and confirmed the founding of the Dominicans.

Fr. Bruno Cadorè, Master General of the Order and 86th successor of their holy founder, told Aleteia in a recent interview that St. Dominic wanted his brothers to pray, to study—“not so that they would all be learned men; but rather, that through the continuous search for the truth found in the Scriptures, their humanity would be molded”—and to live in fraternity and poverty.

Dominic’s brothers travelled the globe. Today the Dominican family has 3,000 nuns in 209 monasteries; 6,000 brothers in 602 friaries; more than 40,000 apostolic sisters in more than 119 congregations and 150,000 lay-members.

The Dominicans have played a vital role in the history of the Church: out of their ranks have come more than 130 male and female saints, including many doctors of the Church; 4 popes; 75 cardinals; 150 archbishops and hundreds of bishops.

The Church of Santa Sabina on the Aventine Hill was given to St. Dominic in 1219 and is a treasure chest of sacred art.

Fr Lawrence Lew OP CC

 Shadows have also appeared across the pages of the Order’s history. There were moments during the Inquisition when a misunderstanding of “pride in possessing the truth” obscured the reality that faith can be “only proposed and never imposed,” especially with torture and violence.

Fr. Cadoré also said the true meaning of the “defense of doctrine” can best be understood by looking to one of the most illustrious sons of the Dominican Order: St. Thomas Aquinas.

“He was a great theologian,” the Dominican Master General said, “but he was also a great preacher. There is nothing that he pondered or wrote about in the Summa that he did not first preach to common people.”

Defending doctrine therefore means “defending the capacity of doctrine to help the Church and to speak to others about God,” he said.

From the beginning the Dominican charism has been focused on preaching. But today, Fr. Cadoré notes, the Order faces new challenges on the “new continent” of the Internet, where “the ease of communication paradoxically risks isolating people.”

Preaching, he adds, isn’t simply a matter of speaking. It involves “encounter, listening, seeking to understand and entering into conversation.”

A jubilee year always involves taking account of the past and hopes for the future.

What is the goal for the next 800 years? A challenge ever ancient and ever new: “To reach those who who still do not know Jesus” by throwing open the doors of the Order and the Church as Pope Francis has asked.

Fr Lawrence Lew OP CC

 

 

 

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