Caterina da Siena

The wound of compassion

There is something wonderful in the life of a dominican who himself is the very source of a great happiness. Is that Preaching? Is it fraternal life? Or may be the study?

 Our life is fascinating because it includes so many aspects, all important, but it is also true laici associati 2015 (40)that it is all aimed at a single great end (aim or purpose) that involves everyone, understands and gives everyone meaning and value. And that is the very purpose for which Dominic of Guzman founded the Order (constituted of nuns, friars and lay people). This end is expressed very well by Blessed Raimondo da Capua, who, when he narrates the life of St. Catherine of Siena, his daughter and spiritual mother, asserts that the Father revealed to the saint the purpose for which he had aroused the Dominican Order in the Church: zeal for the salvation of souls. In other words, the passion for the life of all the children of God. For the life of grace, which illuminates and makes possible the very life of the body.

Dominic’s children have a DNA that make them recognize as brothers among themselves and children of the only Father. It is the continuous “wound” that Dominic took in: The wound of compassion. It is a maternal quality, so much so that we find it in the gospel with a Greek term that expresses the visceral, motherly love of God. For example, the parable of the merciful Father (Lk 15).

What, then, is the purpose for which God has thought of the Dominican Order, if not the visceral love for His children? Our heart has always been created to be “home”, place, living space, hospitality, becoming gift for others, tenderness. We are raised by God to become the womb that welcomes the children that He gives us. That is why it is quite limiting to say that Dominicans have the purpose of only preaching. Of course, the announcement of the Word is what distinguishes us and is our mission. But the purpose of our Dominican life is even deeper, it goes beyond our preaching because it includes and embraces it, but goes beyond that. The Word, in fact, wants to pass through all our being, our feelings, body, soul and every life experience to reach, touch and to heal so many brothers and sisters. How? Through our words, writings, arts which some of us are capable of expressing. Others never go to hold meetings, give testimonies, or preachings. Yet, their daily activities, the words that are said or life of silence, the prayer, the work, and the close proximity for those who are in need: all of this makes them fruitful in the Order and in the Church. How many hearts will they be able to open with their secret acts of love! What Raimondo da Capua defines as “zeal for souls” is therefore nothing but a profound, real maternity experience that penetrates itself throughout our lives. God has called us not so much or not only to enjoy the love of the Bridegroom, but to take care of His children. By becoming guardians of those who trust us. And our children are all those who are dear to God: distant, dispersed, small, helpless. Here is the aim and joy of Dominican life: to accept the bonds that God gives us and to make it a space of communion, of freedom and of life. To become, like Mary, fertile “womb” because the seed of the Word sprouts, grows and brings fruit in the heart of so many brothers.

san domenico