Thursday, November 12, 2020

November 12: Feast of All Saints of the Dominican Order, II Class

 Today, in the 1962 Dominican Rite Calendar, we celebrate the feast of All Saints of the Dominican Order.  The feast is II Class and so the semi-festive office is prayed according to the rubrics. 

How truly humbling it is to be part of a religious Order which includes over 30 saints, 3 Doctor's of the Church, innumerable martyrs and 4 Popes.  Not only are these holy men and women, drawn from every station in life, models of sanctity for us, they are powerful intercessors for us before the heavenly throne of our loving God and Father.  The litany of the Dominican Saints can be downloaded here.
The following is an excerpt from “Short Lives of the Dominican Saints” (London, Kegan Paul, Trench, and Trübner & Co., Ltd., 1901).  At the time that this wonderful book was published, the Feast was celebrated on November 9.  Also, the number of men and women who had been “raised to the altars” by Holy Mother Church was significantly fewer than it is today:
The Church has instituted the Festival of All Saints, as a well-known spiritual writer tells us, "first, to give thanks to God for the graces and crowns of all His elect; secondly, to excite ourselves to a fervent imitation of their virtues by considering the holy example of so many faithful servants of God of all ages, sexes, and conditions, and by contemplating the inexpressible and eternal bliss which they already enjoy, and to which we are invited ; thirdly, to implore the Divine mercy through this multitude of powerful intercessors; fourthly, to repair any failures Nov. [12] or sloth in not having duly honored God in His saints on their particular festivals, and to glorify Him in the saints who are unknown to us, or for whom no particular festivals are appointed " (Rev. Alban Butler).

Induced by these same motives, the great religious Orders of the Church have solicited permission from the Holy See to celebrate an annual festival in honor of those amongst their children who "have fought the good fight" here below and are now numbered with the Saints in the Church Triumphant. This privilege was first granted to the Benedictines; the Order of Preachers was the next to receive it, through the Dominican Cardinal, Vincent Maria Orsini, who obtained this favor of Pope Clement X., A.D. 1674. In reply to his Eminence's petition, the Holy Father is reported to have said: " Rightly, my Lord Cardinal, ought your Order to celebrate the solemnity of all its Saints on one appointed day ; for, if we wished to assign to each of its holy sons his own special feast, we should have to form a new calendar, and they alone would suffice to fill it."…

Besides those on whose sanctity the Church has thus set her seal, there are several whose process of beatification is already begun in the Sacred Congregation of Rites, and a vast multitude to whose name popular devotion habitually attaches the title of Blessed. The General Chapter of Valencia caused a list to be drawn up of the martyrs of the Order between the years 1234 and 1335, and it was found to contain 13,370 names. In the sixteenth century alone, 26,000 of the children of Saint Dominic gave their lives for the faith; and an author writing in the year 1882 states as an ascertained fact, that, from the foundation of the Order down to our own day, there has never been a single decade of years without some addition to the blood-stained roll of its martyrs (R. P. H. M. Iweins, O.P. " L'Ordre des Fr^res-Precheurs." Louvain.) The century now closing [the 19th] has furnished its quota in the far East, where the chronicle of the Dominican Mission in Tonquin may be said to be written in blood.

But there are other martyrdoms besides that of blood, and who shall reckon up the number of Saint Dominic's children whose lives have been consumed for the aim and object of his Order, the salvation of the souls for whom Christ died, in missionary labors, in the pulpit, the confessional, the professor's chair, the hospital, or the school, or in the humbler sphere of domestic labor in the service of their Community, or again in the cloistered seclusion of their Convents, by the secret crucifixion of the spirit and the holy apostleship of intercessory prayer and suffering?

It is difficult to realize the number of those who have worked out their sanctification by the observance of the Dominican Rule, but some idea may be formed of the multitude of those who have served God in the white habit of Saint Dominic by the knowledge that, within thirty years of its foundation, the Order already reckoned 30,000 members; and when the census was again taken at the beginning of the eighteenth century, the First or Great Order alone numbered upwards of 40,000 members. The calamities of the latter part of the eighteenth century and the proscription of religious institutes in the nineteenth in countries calling themselves Catholic, have led to a lamentable diminution in the numbers of the First and Second Orders. The Third Order, on the other hand, or at least that branch of it which is formed of religious women living in community, was never so flourishing in numbers or so actively engaged in works of zeal and charity as in our own day.
To the children of Saint Dominic, November [12] is a family festival, and the office of the feast comes as a trumpet-call, reminding them that they are the children of Saints, as holy Tobias said, and that they must do nothing unworthy of their noble spiritual lineage, and stirring them up to walk with renewed fervor and fidelity in the path which their Saints have trodden. No matter whether the lot of Dominicans be cast in the old historic lands of Europe, where, under strangely altered conditions of society, they carry on the same work which was being done by their predecessors in the thirteenth century; amidst the new and vigorous life of North America ; or in that Southern half of the same great continent, first evangelized by their Brethren; in the West Indian Islands, where they are renewing Saint Catharine's heroic work of tending the lepers; on the plains of Mesopotamia, hallowed by patriarchal memories, where but yesterday they brought so vast a harvest into the garners of the Church ; in China and Tonquin, where the soil is still wet with the blood of their martyrs ; or in far-off South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand, where they are the pioneers of their Order they one and all gather in spirit to-day at the feet of their common Father, congratulating him on the fruits of his labors, and praying that, through his powerful intercession and that of the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, their Mother and Mistress, they too, when this life's pilgrimage is ended, may be numbered with the Saints in glory everlasting.

 O God, you have been pleased to enrich the Order of Preachers with a countless offspring of saints, and have gloriously crowned in them the heroic merits of every virtue; grant us so to tread in their steps, that as today we honor them with one solemnity on earth, we may at length be united with them at the unending festival in heaven.  Through our Lord…