At the end of our Encuentro de gobiernos, on the eve of the feast of our father St. Dominic, I would like to invite you thank the Lord our God for making us sharers in the charism that St. Dominic has bequeathed on us and which is always new wherever we carry out our mission. Our father left us a charism that has to continue giving life as it did in his time.
During our encounter we have been able to verify different experiences in the exercise of authority and synodality in our institute, experiences that sometimes hinder our mission as bearers of truth and compassion which our father lived fully and wanted to continue as the distinctive characteristic of the Dominican Family. For this reason, we feel called anew to strengthen among ourselves the culture of care and make the synodality that is already reflected in our congregational structure more real.
Let’s take a closer look at our father and learn his delicacy in dealing with everyone and in the exercise of authority. His first biographer and successor, Jordan of Saxony, tells us that «with his joy he easily attracted the affection of all and those who looked at him were captivated by him; wherever he was, at home or on a trip preaching, he always had words that edify and abounded in examples which inclined the minds of believers to the love of Christ». Our community life will be a space where we can all grow if we bear in mind the impact of our word on whomever we direct it. A word of encouragement, consolation, support, of forgiveness is enough for a sister to feel valued and loved; at the same time it is capable of creating an atmosphere where we feel more fraternally united with each other.
Dominic was clothed with sensitivity, tenderness and compassion which made him greatly capable of getting out of himself and place himself in the situation of his neighbor, both in pain and in joy, because to sympathize with the other is to be in tune with him, sharing his feelings. He manifested sensitivity and tenderness in his warm and humane treatment with everyone. The tenderness he felt towards everyone made him an expert in fraternal correction, “all men fit into the immense charity of his heart, and, loving them all, he was loved by all”. The dignity of the person was sacred to him, thus when he had to correct a brother, he always did it with kindness, taking care not to hurt anyone.
He also kept in mind the values of solidarity, collegiality, the search for truth and the common good.
According to his biographer Pedro Ferrando, compassion already shines from his childhood: “From his childhood compassion grew with him, in a way that he took as his own the miseries of others, to the point that he could not contemplate any affliction without participating in it”. There is a famous event of the life of St. Dominic that is worth remembering here. A great famine ensued in the region of Palencia. Dominic felt a deep compassion for the poor and he gave them everything he had, including what he treasured most, his books which were full of annotations and which meant a fortune, not only in the financial aspect but also intellectual. With this gesture the solidarity of our father excelled.
He was also attentive to the signs of the times, sensitive and open to human realities and temporal events, because God also speaks in them. He saw each situation with the eyes of God and was able to understand each moment and enlighten it with the light of the Gospel. He was open to dialogue with the brothers, which entails listening, as well as speaking. Let us sincerely ask ourselves, how do we listen to others? True listening involves not only the sense of hearing but all the other senses, with empathy, making the other feel accompanied along his journey, without forgetting that what is sought is the will of God.
Sisters, our father St. Dominic has a lot to teach us, let us be open to strengthen in ourselves these characteristics which are very necessary in our life and society.
Before the Virgen del Camino I pray that she may protect us in our daily journey.
Happy feastday of our father St. Dominic!
With my fraternal embrace and prayer
Sor Mª Asunción González, O.P.