On August 8th, the Dominican Sisters of Hope celebrated Saint Dominic’s Day at The Center at Mariandale in Ossining together with staff, friends, and co-creators. Dominican Sister of Hope Elizabeth Menard, OP preached, encouraging us to question who Saint Dominic would be in our world today and how we can live in his legacy. Her preaching is below.

To all of you gathered here and to all Dominicans, Associates, Staff and Friends-Happy Feast of St. Dominic. After preparing prayer services and a homily on Dominic and Dominicans this week, I really feel I’m a good friend of Dominic. At least I hope I am.

In the first reading today, I can almost hear Dominic speaking these words to his first followers instead of Paul. I hear Dominic saying, “I came proclaiming the mystery of God. I came humbly proclaiming Jesus Crucified.” (Remember how many nights Dominic stood before a crucifix praying?) He may also be saying, “I came not with persuasive words of wisdom but showing spirit and power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.” Dominic’s hopes and dreams were tied into this small band of brothers and to the contemplative sisters considered his power house of prayer.

Sister Pat Jelly on Saint Dominic’s Day

I think we believe that Dominic is as relevant today as he was 800 years ago. He looked at, prayed over, reflected many nights on the state of his world. He saw the effects of the Albigensian heresy ravaging villages, Church, and world including so many good people that he knew. He saw clergy that were corrupt and often unable to preach effectively because of their lack of knowledge of Jesus and his Word. He saw a people hungering to be touched by Jesus and by their faith. And, when the time was ripe, he saw aspiring disciples who were willing to study, pray, live community and take risks because of their love of Jesus and so they followed Dominic’s way. In five short years his committed brethren grew from a handful at the beginning in 1216 to over 300, very present in and preaching in almost every country of Europe. Dominic was on a constant journey all for the sake of keeping in touch with his disciples, the Church of Rome and solidifying his Order as well as being about the holy preaching. Once Dominic made his commitment as a follower of Jesus, it was complete. That commitment took over his whole life. His disciples, too, were asked to trust and to do the same. No wonder their power spread across Europe.   

In the Gospel, Jesus, too, is on a journey. He, too, was seeking committed followers and, when someone said, “I will follow you wherever you go,” Jesus was showing that person that to be a disciple could be challenging for he, himself, had no place to rest his head. Further responses from Jesus demonstrate that he was expecting total commitment in discipleship. His words were tough. “Let the dead bury the dead.” Our call to be for the Mission of Jesus is every bit as challenging. It does require a commitment on the part of each one of us. It’s calling us over and over again and somehow it too needs to be complete.

Have you ever thought if Dominic were standing in our shoes today, looking at this world we contemplate each day, what would he be saying? What would he be doing? What would he be preaching ? How would he be preaching it? And even more, what would he be challenging us to do as Dominicans?

Sometimes I think he would not do things so differently. He put in place a democratic form of government totally innovative for religious organizations in his day and it is still essentially effective in our day. He shed tears for the people controlled by heresy just as he would shed tears for the utter violence we witnessed in our country this past week. He would grieve over the plight of immigrants, not only along the border but all over our land-the divided families, their heartbreak, their insecurity and hopelessness. He would pray and seek ways to alleviate the suffering of so many hurting children and adults, especially our poor who face so many of the same difficulties they have experienced all their life. For them, there seems to be no way out.

Because Dominic was such an innovator, I think he would seek new ways of coming together with all of us to effect change. Would it be by small group dialogue? Or expanded gatherings? Would he be studying new ways of preaching? Would he expand our way of using media? Would he reach out to groups we have hardly noticed? Would he go out of his way to leave no one behind in his efforts to proclaim the Kingdom of God to all? Dominic always sought Truth and Truth was Jesus. All of his efforts were to bring people and Jesus together as Paul stated, “with Spirit and power.” Always it was about the holy preaching for the sake of the kingdom of God with much Spirit and power.

Watch Sister Elizabeth Menard, OP preach this reflection:

Happy Feast of Saint Dominic! Today is a day of jubilation as we celebrate our founder and namesake. We invite you to join in our joy with this reflection from Sister Elizabeth Menard, OP.

Posted by Dominican Sisters of Hope on Thursday, August 8, 2019

Sisters and friends, I see that Spirit and power among us. I see signs of that same commitment and urgency to be about the Mission as Dominic was, to be for the poor, to alleviate suffering, to lift people up, to challenge unjust structures, to protect and conserve our earth in meaningful ways, to speak out and counteract violence and to bring Jesus wherever we go.

In new ways, we are experiencing the calls of this time. Our Chapter helped us to verbalize them. We may not know what our future holds for us but it is evident that many are aspiring to bring it forth. There is a new openness not to hide in fear and be paralyzed. I gathered that from the evaluations we handed in immediately after our Chapter. That openness seems to be saying, “What can we do now to help this future come forth.”

So, what is this time saying to us? And, yes? What can we do as members and friends of the Dominican Sisters of Hope? What can we do together? Contemplative prayer will center us and guide us. Supporting one another and being there for each other is a necessity. We’ve come to realize we need so many more to keep the Mission and the Dominican Charism alive. We’ve come to see that all of us are important, gifted in so many ways and really capable of doing whatever God is calling us to do at this time. Catherine Walsh described it as “a call to us to boil over with the transforming power of Hope wherever we are as leaders and as members who also lead.” We know this faithful God will continue to strengthen us in this charism of Hope. We know our ever-loving God will continue to gift us with every gift needed, so Hope and its transforming power will be enough for us. Because of that unbelievable overpowering love that God offers us –as we have heard expressed so many times– we have all we need, we are enough and we can do it! Let us be transformed one more time in Hope!