[Tomorrow] is a REAL red letter day for us Dominicans, second only to the great feasts like Easter and Christmas, because it’s the feast of our holy father, Saint Dominic, the founder of the Dominican family—the Order of Preachers, as it’s officially called. Little did I know when I was a child and teenager that I would spend most of my life bearing his name. At the age of 26, I received the habit of our Order and began to be a Dominican. That was exactly 50 years ago this month, so I’ve been a Dominican nearly twice as long as I was a non-Dominican before that!
During my childhood and youth, I had no contact with the Dominicans at all. But when I was in the Navy, I used to frequent the lending library of Old Saint Mary’s Church in San Francisco’s Chinatown, and there I began to read books by the famous Dominican, Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange. He wrote about his Order and about the ideals of Saint Dominic in a way that interested me. And that, by the grace of God, began my journey to where I am today.
When I first went to the novitiate where our Dominican life started, I felt somewhat lacking because I had never had any particular devotion to Saint Dominic; in fact I knew little about his life and work. But I learned as time went on. Saint Dominic is not the appealing, romantic figure that Saint Francis of Assisi is. Nor the dashing soldier-turned-saint that Saint Ignatius Loyola is. Nor the gifted writer of spiritual books and devoted bishop that Saint Francis de Sales is. Instead, he is a man who was passionately concerned with spreading the truth which Jesus had come to preach, especially in that part of the world where he found that truth being abandoned, and therefore souls being endangered and lost by gross heresies. To study sacred truth, to contemplate it in prayer and then to preach it by any means available to everyone who would listen: that is Saint Dominic’s goal for himself and for the Order he founded.
It has occurred to me more recently that, although I had no particular devotion to Saint Dominic when still in my 20s, he evidently was devoted to me, because probably because of his prayers, I was given the grace that drew me to his family, his Order. Be that as it may, we Dominicans throughout the world celebrate our founder and are very happy and very proud to be his sons and daughters. His name means “a man of the Lord.” And they say that he spoke only TO the Lord or ABOUT him. God grant that all of his followers may be men and women of the Lord as was our father. Thank you for seeking God’s truth, God Bless you. Father Victor Brown.
Note: This message was composed some years ago.