Solemnity of St. Dominic, Vespers: Philippians 1.3-8
Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP
St Albert the Great Priory, Irving, TX
We begin with an innocent question: are you skilled in love? Do you possess the distinguishing talents, the connoisseur’s gifts for hunting, finding, and cultivating love? If so, Paul is writing to you on this evening feast of St. Dominic, “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion…” In fact, he is writing to all of us who are skilled in love, promising us the achievement of the Good Work, a sterling finish to the gospel race we have vowed to run. If we are to be graced love-makers, committed craftsman of our Lord’s saving charity—looking to our Dominican brothers and sisters: Jordan, Thomas, Catherine, Rose, Martin, fra. Angelico, Margaret, Lacordaire—if we are to light even the smallest fire among the wet woods of this wearying world, we will imprison our hearts and minds in the gracious, re-creating Word, defending and confirming with every word we speak the Good News of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. There is no joy for us in anything less. Our fiery brother, Savonarola, preached the Lord’s Passion, saying, “Our preaching will be refined and not refined, yet everyone can receive it, particularly those skilled in love. Those who are not skilled will know their distance from Love.” And that distance we must make our own and then travel to those who do not yet know Love. Our sister, Catherine of Siena, preached this ministry, saying, “The soul in love with [the Lord’s] truth never ceases to be of service in a small enough way to all the world…” Surely, it is a small enough way for us to walk, gifted as we are with the work of preaching Christ Jesus and skilled in nothing less than giving voice and volume to the advent of our Father’s Kingdom! We can find those who do not yet know Love even when we ourselves forget to love, forget to be Love. From our long history, we Dominicans know that it is never enough for us merely to preach. We must be the preaching—with all our anxieties, human quirks, tongue-tied failures, and even the occasional cold heart. The sacred preaching is never just an imitation of Dominic. We do not channel Hyacinth or Peter of Verona from the pulpit. Love shapes each voice of the Word given the nature of the tongue that speaks it, so that all the syllables of the Gospel will find their artful expression. And all those skilled in love will hear One Word, One Voice, One Herald of the Good News.
Lord, on this solemn feast of our Holy Father, Dominic, free us from the silent death of fear and worry and jail us in your saving Word. Bring to perfection the Good Work you have begun in us and take us with ready hands and hearts to serve those who are not yet skilled in your Love. Amen.___________________
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