Saturday, August 08, 2015
Dominic, an alternative to Francis
Happy St Dominic's Day!
I can't help comparing and contrasting the two great 13th Century founders. Why did Dominic not become a Franciscan or Francis a Dominican?
Both started mendicant penitential orders which would dominate the middle ages. Francis was concerned about going out to the poor and appealing to the emotions, he managed to capture the popular imagination, to the point where he still, today, appeals to the popular imagination. The myths that surrounded him even in his life are with us today. Dramatic gestures seem to have been a speciality, He kissed babies and lepers, he embraced the poor, challenged the rulers of this world. He was suspicious of learning, and intellectualism. His concern was that his disciples embrace the 'spirit' of his reforms and intuit what they were, hence after his death his order split and fragmented, parts of it ended up in heresy.
Dominic, even in his day was much less popular than Francis, his concern was for the abandonment self, but also for a strict unity. Whereas Francis rejected learning Dominic embraced it, though he never dismissed popular piety and preaching simply to ordinary people he understood the need for a deep intellectual underpinning and set up a studium in Rome at Sopra Minerva. 'Preach the Gospel always, and if you must use words' , though it is apocryphally attributed to Francis sums up much that the early Franciscans were about, Dominic on the other hand 'used words either to address God or to speak about him', the preaching of the 'Order of Preachers' was about words, and using them precisely.
I wonder if the next Pope in deference to his predecessor might choose the name Dominic.
Posted by Fr Ray Blake