Tag Archives: Dominican saints and blesseds

Bl. Margaret Castello

I am always very aware of today’s Blessed of the Order of Preachers, Margaret Castello. The liturgical memorial is today. Her holiness is attractive. One biography reads:

Bl. Margaret Castello (1287–1320) was born to noble Italian parents who were awaiting the birth of the child of their dreams. Instead, they bore a daughter who was blind, dwarfed, lame, and hunchbacked. Margaret’s parents were horrified by the physical appearance of their newborn child, so they hid her and kept her existence secret. A servant had her baptized and named her Margaret, meaning, “Pearl.” When she was six years of age she was nearly discovered, so that her father confined her to a cell inside the wall of a church with her necessities given through a window. The parish priest took it upon himself to educate Margaret. She lived in this way until age sixteen, when her parents took her on pilgrimage to a shrine famous for miraculous healings. There they prayed earnestly for their daughter to be cured of her deformities, which they loathed. When no cure came, her parents abandoned her in the streets and returned home, never to see her again. Margaret begged for food and was helped by the town’s poor who took turns sheltering her in their homes. She became a Dominican Tertiary and took up the work of serving the sick, dying, and imprisoned. Margaret was known for her great joy, sanctity, and profound mystical experiences. She died at the age of 33, and hundreds of miracles were credited to her intercession both before and after her death. Her body is incorrupt. She is the patron against poverty, and of the disabled, handicapped, and unwanted.

St. Thomas Aquinas

Second Reading from Office of St. Thomas Aquinas
From a conference by Saint Thomas Aquinas, priest
The Cross exemplifies every virtue

AquinasWhy did the Son of God have to suffer for us? There was a great need, and it can be considered in a twofold way: in the first place, as a remedy for sin, and secondly, as an example of how to act.
It is a remedy, for, in the face of all the evils which we incur on account of our sins, we have found relief through the passion of Christ. Yet, it is no less an example, for the passion of Christ completely suffices to fashion our lives. Whoever wishes to live perfectly should do nothing but disdain what Christ disdained on the cross and desire what he desired, for the cross exemplifies every virtue.
If you seek the example of love: Greater love than this no man has, than to lay down his life for his friends. Such a man was Christ on the cross. And if he gave his life for us, then it should not be difficult to bear whatever hardships arise for his sake.

If you seek patience, you will find no better example than the cross. Great patience occurs in two ways: either when one patiently suffers much, or when one suffers things which one is able to avoid and yet does not avoid. Christ endured much on the cross, and did so patiently, because when he suffered he did not threaten; he was led like a sheep to the slaughter and he did not open his mouth. Therefore Christ’s patience on the cross was great. In patience let us run for the prize set before us, looking upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith who, for the joy set before him, bore his cross and despised the shame.

If you seek an example of humility, look upon the crucified one, for God wished to be judged by Pontius Pilate and to die.

If you seek an example of obedience, follow him who became obedient to the Father even unto death. For just as by the disobedience of one man, namely, Adam, many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one man, many were made righteous.

If you seek an example of despising earthly things, follow him who is the King of kings and the Lord of lords, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Upon the cross he was stripped, mocked, spat upon, struck, crowned with thorns, and given only vinegar and gall to drink.
Do not be attached, therefore, to clothing and riches, because they divided my garments among themselves. Nor to honours, for he experienced harsh words and scourgings. Nor to greatness of rank, for weaving a crown of thorns they placed it on my head. Nor to anything delightful, for in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.

St Dominic

Dominic, Augustine and IgnatiusOn the Novus Ordo liturgical calendar today, we honor Saint Dominic de Guzman (c.1174 – 1221), yet on he died on August 5th and on the Extraordinary Form liturgical calendar the feast is celebrated on August 4th.

Dominic was a pivotal figure in the life of the Church in the 13th century in similar ways that others were, including the Poor Man of Assisi. The inspiration of Dominic set the world ablaze with fire in ways unknown since the time of the 12 Apostles and the early Church bringing the Good News of Jesus Christ to all people, the sacraments, teaching truth and fact and living in a compassionate way among the people. One great example is that the early Dominicans taught about the goodness of creation versus the prevailing idea of the 13th century that taught the opposite causing disturbing results of uncertainty and false notions of God and the beauty of humanity.

Our common conception of Dominic’s genius and work with his band of preachers was that he responsible for the whole thing. History tells us that he was born in the small Castilian village of Caleruega, Spain, a canon and a priest in the service of Bishop Diego. Dominic accompanied Diego on mission for the good of the Pope’s mission for the universal Church. In this experience of mission Dominic saw the need. But, as Friar Simon Tugwell OP notes, “the Order was not simply his personal brainchild and he was not, and never claimed to be, its sole inspiration or even the primary embodiment of its nature and ideals.”

Hence it can be said that Dominic was raised up by Divine Providence so as to bring to birth a new movement within the Church – itinerant mendicant friars – and he accomplished this by engaging with the needs of his time and in collaboration with other people. “It was always with his brethren and with the authorities of the Church that he shaped the nascent Order of Preachers.” By his own self-reflection Dominic called himself “the humble servant of the preaching” and this is first part of the charism of the Order. The group founded by Dominic was known as the “Friars Preachers” and the Church entrusts them with the preaching mission and officially recognized by the Church on 21 January 1217, by Pope Honorius III.

800 years later, Dominic continues to move the hearts and minds of contemporary men and women in love of the Trinity: the Order of Preachers has a part of the family the friars (the first order), the cloistered nuns (the second order), the sisters (the third order), the secular priests’ group and the fraternity (the third order laity) and countless others who have picked up the charism. One old aspect of the Dominican charism that needs to be restored is the group of donati (like the famous St. Martin de Porres was).

Saint Catherine of Siena

St Catherine cuts hairAs the image shows, Saint Catherine of Siena cutting her hair and putting aside her beautiful clothing is interpreted as an act of modesty, chastity and a gesture of asceticism. Thus, she turns her eyes toward the Lord her Divine Spouse and away from man (the world).

Saint Catherine’s new and divine generativity is the result of her intense relationship with the Lord. More than her “speaking truth to power” which many today recognize in her, the key to knowing Saint Catherine and her place in the spiritual life is her ability to remain singular in her attraction to the things of God and his transformative Love. Concretely, this love centered on the Eucharist. As Pope Benedict XVI said,

Like the Sienese Saint, every believer feels the need to be conformed with the sentiments of the heart of Christ to love God and his neighbour as Christ himself loves. And we can all let our hearts be transformed and learn to love like Christ in a familiarity with him that is nourished by prayer, by meditation on the Word of God and by the sacraments, above all by receiving Holy Communion frequently and with devotion. Catherine also belongs to the throng of Saints devoted to the Eucharist with which I concluded my Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis (cf. n. 94). Dear brothers and sisters, the Eucharist is an extraordinary gift of love that God continually renews to nourish our journey of faith, to strengthen our hope and to inflame our charity, to make us more and more like him.

How much more ought we to follow this most beloved saint today: she indeed speaks to the heart of the matter. If you are serious, look at Catherine!

 Blessed Fra Angelico

Fra AngelicoBrother Angelico was reported to say: “He who does Christ’s work must stay with Christ always.” This motto earned him the epithet “Blessed Angelico,” because of the perfect integrity of his life and the almost divine beauty of the images he painted, to a superlative extent those of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Quoted of Saint John Paul II, who beatified Fra Angelico on October 3, 1982, and then in 1984 declared him patron of Catholic artists.

Blessed Angelico (his name in religion was Fra Giovanni) joined the Dominicans in Fiesole, Italy in 1407. He was taught to illuminate missals and manuscripts, and immediately exhibited an awesome talent as an inspired artist. Today his works can be seen in the Italian cities Cortona, Fiesole, Florence, and in the Vatican.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT, follows the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, and is an Oblate of Saint Benedict, works as a monastery farmer and a keeper of honey bees. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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