I like Trivial Pursuit. A good question for the game is: Name the seven hills of ancient Rome. The first of them, both in the alphabet and in terms of its height is the Aventine, on the top of which our Dominican headquarters at Santa Sabina is located. The ancient basilica and its adjoining priory were given to Saint Dominic by Pope Honorius III who granted our Order his approbation in the year 1216.
When visitors are taken through those buildings, teeming with history, they are shown the meeting room in the priory in which there is a plaque pointing out that in that room, in 1221, Saint Dominic gave the habit of his new order to two young Poles, Hyacinth and Ceslaus, who had come to Rome to study for the priesthood. When they met him, they were so impressed with him and his new Order of Preaching Friars that they asked him to send some of his Dominicans to Poland, their homeland. His answer: YOU become Dominicans, and I’ll send YOU! And so it was—he welcomed them into his preaching friars, gave them the habit, they completed their studies, were ordained priests, and then they went back to Poland and other countries of eastern Europe and did a tremendous job of spreading the faith there. Tomorrow, in our Dominican calendar, we celebrate Blessed Ceslaus; Saint Hyacinth’s feastday will come next month.
Despite the frequent invasions of the Mongolians Tatars, the Poles clung to their western civilization and their Catholic faith. Then in our own time, they had to live through the horror of Naziism and then Communism. Just a few years ago, we saw the results of their tenacity again affecting history: inspired by the Polish Pope, John Paul II, the people of Poland formed the labor union and the wider social and popular movement called Solidarity, which without a shot being fired, brought down the evil empire of Marxist-Leninist Communism in Russia and the other captive members of the Soviet empire.
And speaking of current events, we must not fail to notice that today is the annual celebration of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. And today terrorist shells from Lebanon rained down upon the Israeli city of Haifa located at the foot of, and on the slopes of, Mount Carmel. Let us pray for peace in that part of the world, so often stained with blood in the ongoing animosity between Jews and Muslims. We call it the Holy Land because it has been blessed by the footsteps of Jesus, Mary, and the early apostles and disciples. However, many unholy things have gone on there due to the hostility and malice of two political entities fighting for the possession of the same real estate. They never seem to learn that more is accomplished by peace than by war—by means proper to rational human beings than by those characteristic of the animals in the jungle. Thank you for seeking God’s truth, God Bless you. Father Victor Brown.
Note: This message was composed some years ago.