It was on December 22 in the year 1216 that we Dominican friars came into corporate being. In 2016 we will, please God, celebrate our 800th anniversary of being founded.
Our Father Saint Dominic had already done a great deal of preaching in southern France against the Albigensian heresy, and had gathered a group of women whom he had reconverted to our holy faith in the beginnings of our Dominican Nuns. Now Saint Dominic went to Rome to ask of the Pope, who was Honorius III at the time, for the approbation of a new reality within the Church: an Order of friars whose principal work would be preaching as distinct from the parish ministry of the diocesan clergy and the monastic life of the monks. Pope Honorius realized that this Spanish priest kneeling before him, this Dominic de Guzman, was speaking truth and was describing an idea whose time had come. And so on this date, December 22nd, in the year 1216, the Pope breathed life into the new Order of Preachers. That is why we Dominicans put “O.P.” behind our name to identify ourselves among the clergy and religious within the Church.
In the document of papal approval, Pope Honorius said, “Considering that the religious of your order will be champions of the faith and a true light of the world, we confirm your order.” We hope that the pope’s prediction has proven true in the eyes of God, and will continue to do so for a long time to come. During my years of priestly ministry, I have had more than my share of compliments on my work and my preaching. We priests are aware that some kind people will always compliment us regardless of how we minister and preach, simply to encourage us and to “be nice.” Now, when I receive a compliment, I thank the one who offers it to me, but I think in my heart: “I certainly hope that the Lord is of the same opinion!” As Our Lord tells us in the gospel, God does not see as man sees. Man looks at the surface, but God sees into the heart.
In any case, my friends, I invite you to rejoice with us Dominicans as we celebrate another anniversary of foundation, and to pray that we will carry out our vocation as the Lord wills for the good of the Church and the sanctification of our own souls. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This Message was composed some years ago.