O happy parent, Spain, rejoice in giving to the world the joy of new offspring! But, rejoice still more, Bologna, because you are favored with the glory of so great a father. O universal Mother Church, sing in praise as you celebrate the festival of this new source of fame! (Super psalmos antiphon to the Laudate psalms at First Vespers.)
Thus begins the Office for the Feast of Our Holy Father St. Dominic, which we celebrate on August 4 in the 1962 Dominican Rite Calendar. In the Dominican Rite, this feast is a I Class feast. And since this year it falls on a Sunday, it displaces the occurring Sunday (a commemoration is made, of the 11th Sunday after Pentecost, at Lauds & Vespers).
In “The History of the Dominic Liturgy”, Fr. Bonniwell, O.P., states that the 1909 Dominican Breviary was, in essence, extraordinarily similar to the primitive Breviary that was approved by Humbert de Romans in the mid-13th Century. I recently compared the propers of the Feast of St. Dominic of the 1909 and 1962 editions of the Dominican Breviary. I found them to be identical. What differs, of course, is the Psalter and the readings at Matins. I find it to be a tremendous source of spiritual solidarity, that the responsory's, antiphons, hymns, versicles, etc., that I pray on this (and most other) feasts in my Dominican Breviary, are the very ones that thousands upon thousands of Dominican Friars, Brothers, Nuns, and tertiaries have also prayed for hundreds of years.
The Responsory at First Vespers is the famous supplication to Our Holy Father, to keep his promise and pray for his brethren in his Order after his death:
℟. O spem miram, quam dedísti mortis hora te fléntibus, dum post mortem promisísti te profutúrum frátribus! * Imple, Pater, quod dixísti, nos tui iuvans précibus. ℣. Qui tot signis claruísti in ǽgrórum corpóribus, nobis opem ferens Christi, ǽgris medére móribus. – Imple, Pater. – Gloria. – Imple, Pater
℟. O wonderful hope, which you gave to those who wept for you at the hour of your death, promising that after your decease you would be helpful to your brethren! * Fulfill, Father, what you have said, and help us by your prayers. ℣. You shone on the bodies of teh sick by so many miracles. Bring us the help of Christ to heal our sick souls. - Fulfill. - Glory. - Fulfill.
From Responsory from the Mass of the Feast:
The mouth of the just man shall meditate wisdom, and his tongue shall speak judgment. ℣. The law of this God is in the heart, and his steps shall not be supplanted. Alleluia, alleluia. ℣. O loving father Dominic, be mindful of your works; and standing before the supreme Judge, plead for your poor clients.The Sequence during Mass is “In coelesti hierarchia”:
In the heavenly hierarchy, let there sound a new harmony, produced in a new canticle;
And let the melody of our choir on this Earth agree therewith, rejoicing with Dominic.
From the waste of Egypt the Creator of the world called the man of His decree
On the ark of poverty he fords the stream of vanity for the salvation of souls.
Under the figure of a hound the Preacher of the world is shown beforehand
To His mother. Bearing in his mouth a torch, he exhorts all to the law of love.
He is a new law-giver, he is the imitator of Elias and a detester of crimes.
He scatters the foxes of Samson and with the trumpet of Gedeon he puts to flight the hosts of the enemy.
While yet alive in body he restores to a mother her son recalled from the dead.
A storm bows to his sign of the Cross.
The company of the brethren eats bread sent as a gift of God.
The blessed man, in whom all the Church now takes joy, is exalted.
He fills the world with his seed, and at last is located in the army of heaven.
The grain of wheat lies hidden, the star lurks concealed;
But the Maker of all things commands the bones
Of Joseph to germinate and the star to radiate for the salvation of souls.
O how the fragrance of his tomb surpassing every aroma, proves the
Bloom of his flesh! The sick come with haste and are cured,
The blind and the lame are made whole by the repetition of his power.
Wherefore let us sound forth with full voice our praises to the great Saint Dominic.
O people of need, as you follow in his footsteps, call on him to intercede.
But do you, O loving father, good shepherd and defender of your flock,
Commend at eh court of the great King by your constant prayer
The concerns of your forsaken sheep. Amen. Alleluia!
From “Short Lives of the Dominican Saints” (London, Kegan Paul, Trench, and Trübner & Co., Ltd., 1901):
Saint Dominic, the Father and Founder of the Order of Preachers, was born at Calaroga in Old Castile, A.D. 1170, of the illustrious family of the Guzmans. His mother, Blessed Jane of Aza, beheld him in vision before his birth under the figure of a black and white dog, holding in its mouth a torch which set the whole world on fire; and the noble lady who held him at the font saw, as the water was poured on his head, a bright star appear on his forehead, whence, in after years, there shown forth as it were a radiant light, which filled men with respect and love. After a pious education under the care of his maternal uncle, the arch-priest of Gumiel d'Izan, the young Dominic was sent to the University of Palencia, where he specially distinguished himself by his talents, his modesty, and his tender compassion for the poor. In a terrible famine which desolated Spain in the year 1191, he even sold his books and distributed their price to the starving multitudes, and on two occasions he offered himself to be sold as a slave in order to deliver others from situations of danger.
He embraced ecclesiastical state and joined a Community of Canons Regular of Saint Augustine, which had been recently founded at Osma, and of which he became the Sub-Prior. In the year 1203 he accompanied his Bishop, Don Diego d'Azevedo, on a political embassy to the north of Europe, on their return from which they visited Rome and asked permission of the Holy Father to go and preach the gospel to the barbarous hordes then pressing on the north-eastern frontiers of Europe. This was refused, but they were permitted instead to labor in the south of France, at that time grievously infested by the Albigenses. The hideously blasphemous doctrines of these heretics were the complete and radical negation of all Christian dogma, and struck at the very root of all social morality, whilst their undisguised contempt of authority made their existence no less dangerous to the State than it was hostile to the Church.
It was whilst he was thus engaged in defending the faith in Languedoc that Our Lady appeared to Saint Dominic and taught him the devotion of the Holy Rosary, by the preaching of which he gained an immense harvest of souls. One of the many miracles which illustrated this period of his life was the saving the lives of forty English pilgrims, whose boat capsized as they were crossing the Garonne on their way to Saint James of Compostella. On another occasion the written document in which he had defended the Catholic faith was miraculously delivered from the flames, whilst that drawn up by the heretics was instantly reduced to ashes.
In the year 1206, Saint Dominic founded at Prouille his first Convent for religious women, now known as his Second Order, who devote themselves to a life of austerity and contemplation. Gradually, too, he gathered companions around him to assist him in his apostolic labours, and in the year 1215 he again visited Rome to obtain the consent of Pope Innocent III. for the foundation of the Order of Friars Preachers. At first it was refused. In a vision of the night, however, the Pontiff seemed to see the Lateran Basilica about to fall, but supported on the shoulders of Saint Dominic. In consequence of this manifestation of the Divine will he withdrew his opposition, and in the year 1216 his successor, Honorius III., solemnly approved the new Order, and the first sixteen companions of the Saint made their profession on the Festival of the Assumption, pledging themselves to observe the Rule of Saint Augustine and the Constitutions drawn up for them by their holy Founder. These Constitutions combined the monastic observances of earlier ages with theological studies and active labors for the salvation of souls. At a later period, the Saint founded his Third Order, which at first was of the nature of a military religious Order for the defense of the Church, but which has now exchanged the duties of military service for those of penance and charity. Women as well as men are received into its ranks, and some of the sanctity of the cloister has thus passed into family and secular life. Besides Tertiaries living in their own homes, there are now in almost every part of the world numerous flourishing congregations of the Third Order, gathered together in Community under all the obligations of religious life and devoting themselves to every kind of charitable laboor.
The remaining five years of the Saint's life were spent in training the disciples who flocked around him, and whom he dispersed to found the Order in every part of Europe, and in preaching in many of the towns and villages of France, Spain, and Italy. In Rome he was employed by the Pope to gather together a number of religious women then living in the city without enclosure or any kind of regular discipline. He succeeded in forming them into a fervent Community, which he established at Saint Sixtus. His miracles were very numerous, including the raising of three dead persons to life. God was pleased to grant him many wonderful visions, one of the most remarkable of which was that in which he beheld his children beneath the folds of Our Lady's mantle, and heard from the lips of his Divine Master the consoling words, "I have given thy Order to My Mother."
Saint Dominic is firmly believed to have preserved his baptismal innocence. He was preeminently a man of prayer, much given to the practice of penance, burning with zeal for the salvation of souls, unrivalled in humility and gentleness, and gifted with a marvelous serenity of soul, which nothing seemed capable of disturbing.
Shortly after the second General Chapter of his Order, he received an intimation of his approaching death, which took place at Bologna on August 6th, A.D. 1221, at the age of fifty-one. With his dying breath the holy Founder promised his children that he would be more helpful to them in heaven than he had ever been on earth. He was canonized twelve years after his death by Pope Gregory IX., who, as Cardinal, had been his personal friend.
PrayerO God, you were pleased to enlighten your church with the merits and teaching of the blessed Dominic, your confessor and our father; grant, at his intercession, that she may not be wanting in temporal help, and may always increase in spiritual growth. Through Our Lord...