When your words came, I devoured them,
your word was my delight and the joy of my heart
for I was called by your name, Lord God of hosts.
This text of Scripture comes of course from the prophet Jeremiah, but oh, how fittingly it can be applied to St. Dominic – one can just see him in the mind’s eye, expressing this text with great exultation and joy from the depth of his heart, that heart always so overwhelmed with love for Holy Scripture. ‘Dominic showed himself to be a man of the Gospel in word and deed’, we are told by those who knew him.
With this weapon and his days and nights spent in unceasing prayer, he founded his Order of Preachers, as we know so well, for the salvation of souls; Brother Bonadventure testified at the canonisation process that ‘Dominic was so zealous for souls that he extended his charity and compassion not only to the faithful but also to infidels and gentiles AND to the dammed in hell. With the Gospel as his weapon, he constantly encouraged his Friars, his Nuns and all those to whom he ministered in all their needs and difficulties. Among his endless list of virtues spoken of again and again by those who knew him, and by those who bore witness to his life under oath in his canonisation process, his virtue as a man of encouragement shines especially brightly -”Dominic was compassionate and consoled other people, in time of temptation he was a source of strength for all’.
In this day and age, I believe that encouragement is more needful than ever before, each one of us needs encouragement from time to time, each one of us needs to be an apostle of encouragement to others as St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Colossians (Col.3:16) ‘Let the Word of Christ in all its richness dwell in you….encourage each other’. This requires an attentiveness to the gentle quiet voice of our Lord speaking in the silence of our hearts. Thus abiding in his word, in his love, we will truly be encouraged in our awareness of his Presence in all the circumstances of our daily lives and the lives of others, the disappointments and hurts, the frustrations and misunderstandings, as well as the moments of happiness, love and friendship. God’s own encouragement is always at work in our lives and the lives of others, transforming each one. Encouragement makes us bigger than we know ourselves to be, makes us Christ-like.
‘Do not be afraid’ God tells us, ‘for I have redeemed you. I have called you by name, you are mine.
Let us then, ponder on God’s word in the company of Our Lady and St. Dominic asking them to help us respond generously as they did, in this way, the awareness that God is near us, will penetrate us more deeply, even if He seems far away, He is beside us, He is everywhere and always present to us, what greater encouragement could we seek?