Wednesday 10 January 2024

Dominic and the Order of Preachers - Father Richard Finn, OP - CTS Biographies

Dominic and the Order of Preachers: 
800 Years of Service: 1216-2016
Father Richard Finn, OP
Catholic Truth Society
ISBN 9781784691011
eISBN 9781784692605
CTS Booklet B766

Dominic and the Order of Preachers - Father Richard Finn, OP - CTS Biographies

A few years back I stumbled upon the books and booklets from the Catholic Truth Society. I instantly fell in love with the clear and concise writing; the wonderful lives of Saints and Blesseds, amazing histories and the church teaching. I have read over 370 books from the CTS, and I have been blessed and benefited from almost all of them. There are many wonderful series. This is the first volume I have read from the pen of Father Richard Finn, and I believe the only one he wrote for the CTS. I loved the books in the CTS Great Saints Series. I have also read many in the CTS Biographies and also Saints of the Isles Series. And have enjoyed all of them. This volume is a fantastic read, in a wonderful series! This volume is a fantastic read, in a wonderful series! This book was originally part of the CTS Great Saints Series which has since been rebranded Saints & Blesseds. This volume was originally published in 2016, the eBook edition was released in 2017.   

The description of this book is:

“This history of St Dominic and of the Order describes the major developments in the Order’s mission and the influence of major saints and leading figures over time.

Written for the 800th anniversary of the foundation of the Dominican Order of Preachers in 2016, this history sets St Dominic and his Order’s developing mission in the context of major social changes through the centuries and across the globe.

The story is enriched by the contribution of major saints and leading figures such as St Thomas Aquinas, St Catherine of Siena, Girolamo Savonarola, Bartolomé de Las Casas, St Martin de Porres, Henri-Dominique Lacordaire, and Yves Congar. Particular attention is given to some of the English-speaking provinces.”

And the chapters in this little volume are:

From Toulouse to Tbilisi
Medieval Dominicans at Work
From the Medieval to the Modern World
From the Reformation to the French Revolution
The Order’s Growth in the New World
Surviving revolution and the Nineteenth-Century Revival
Universities and Parishes in the English Province
Twentieth-Century Missions

I highlighted numerous passages while reading this volume. Some of them are:

“St Dominic grew up to found an international Order of Preachers. Known colloquially after their founder as Dominicans, their Latin name was easily heard as Domini canes, dogs of the Lord. The pun stuck, and the dog with a torch in its mouth became an enduring symbol of their mission to preach and teach the Catholic Faith.”

“His preaching would win credence first by his understanding of Scripture; the saint was said to have known by heart Matthew’s Gospel and Paul’s letters. He also required manifest humility, and a visible poverty, so he would walk from town to town, not ride on horseback. St Dominic himself went barefoot in the countryside. He would engage individuals in conversation. He would be a compassionate listener.”

“The common ownership of the monks and canons depended on sizeable landholdings or rental income. This would have to be replaced by a more radical and visible form of dependency on God’s providence: mendicancy, the begging practised by St Francis. Finally, the preacher’s mission would be linked to reconciling sinners to God and his Church through hearing confessions.”

“On the Feast of the Assumption (15th August), 1217, Dominic broke up the community. Against the wishes of Bishop Fulk, he sent friars north to Paris and south into Spain. He himself headed for the papal court in Italy to gain the decrees needed to promote a wider mission. A diocesan institute was transformed into the nucleus of an international order of preachers who were no longer tied for life to a particular religious house or diocese.”

“The friars’ dispatch to Oxford from Bologna tells us much about the nascent Order. St Dominic had recognised the value of an assembly or ‘General Chapter’ along Cistercian lines, which could legislate for the whole Order, evolve a set of constitutions which adapted inherited customs and command the obedience of every friar, including himself as Master of the Order. It was a General Chapter that sent Gilbert to found a house at Oxford. The same assembly also saw the need to group convents into regional units or ‘provinces’ overseen by a Provincial.”

“The English mission was part of a larger push to establish bridge-heads in far-flung parts of Christendom and beyond. The Chapter of 1221 sent friars east to Hungary, north to Denmark and Poland. Local superiors like Gilbert then oversaw further foundations. Dominican houses opened at London by 1224, Norwich in 1226, York a year later and at Bristol by 1230.”

“Meanwhile, friars from England founded priories at Dublin and Drogheda in 1224, and a further four in Ireland by the end of the decade. They soon had one at Cardiff in Wales, and at least five in Scotland by 1250. It was a similar story of rapid growth elsewhere. There was a house in Constantinople by 1233.”

“Popes issued decrees which recommended the friars, rewarded their supporters or exempted the friars from restrictions imposed by other clerics who felt threatened by the new arrivals. In Scotland, a papal indulgence promoted the building of a priory at Glasgow.”

“One group of friars led by Giovanni Dominici, and inspired by the lay Dominican St Catherine of Siena, promoted what became known as the Observant Reform, a commitment to strict observance of the Order’s constitutions concerning diet, common ownership, etc. In 1390, for example, the priory at Drogheda in Ireland was named as a house of regular observance. Yet, while many recognised the need for change, there was little agreement on its nature.”

“Nine years later, Martin became a lay brother and soon afterwards was made the convent’s infirmarian. Care of the sick was combined with other servile tasks such as cleaning the latrines, so a broom became his tell-tale sign in later pictures. Hours given to prayer had to be snatched from sleep.”

“In a cruel society, Martin was a sign of God’s boundless compassion. It was soon recognised that his power as a healer was more than a matter of skill and experience; it was miraculous.”

“The Americas were not the only places where the friars arrived with colonial adventurers. As the Portuguese established an empire in Africa and the Far East from the late fifteenth century, friars appeared in trading posts or the territories of client rulers. Some served as bishops; others belonged to small missionary communities, like the four who travelled out to the Congo with a new governor in 1570. There were Dominicans in Portuguese East Africa throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, though they generally lacked the financial means to underpin evangelisation.”

“Benavides strongly advocated missions unsupported by military campaigns. In 1602 the friars arrived in southern Japan, where the Jesuits had created a large church of several hundred thousand, but in 1614 the shogun Tokugawa Iyeyasu began the violent suppression of Christianity. Seven friars were among those who refused to leave. They ministered in secret until they were eventually caught and martyred.”

“In France the First Republic suppressed all religious houses, and the last Dominican convent closed at Paris in 1793.”

“Four European provinces sent friars to different parts of the Caribbean. The Irish had taken over responsibility for a mission on Trinidad from French friars in 1897 (though French and Irish worked alongside each other for several decades). The English took on a mission on Grenada in 1901 which later extended to Barbados and Jamaica. The Dutch (who had already a mission in the Dutch Antilles since 1870) arrived on Puerto Rico in 1904. French friars from the Province of Toulouse would arrive much later in Haiti.”

“Several missions suffered in the conflicts that preceded or followed national independence. Thirteen Dominicans lost their lives in the Congo during the civil war of 1964.”

“South Africa, where the Dutch and English vicariates merged to form a general vicariate in 1968, was not a newly independent nation, but the growing opposition to the apartheid regime by friars and sisters soon led to several being expelled from the country.”

“Two friars were among those who lost their lives for helping Jews persecuted by the Nazis and their collaborators during the Second World War. After studies at the Angelicum (the Dominican university in Rome) and at the École Biblique in Jerusalem, Giuseppe Girotti taught theology in Turin. Following the Nazi occupation of Italy in 1943 he arranged hideouts for Jews who were being smuggled out of the country, but was caught in August 1944 while helping a Jew who had been wounded. Girotti was sent to Dachau where he died on 1st April 1945.”

“The partitioning of the Republic and a series of repressive measures in the following century led to the friars’ disappearance from what are now the Baltic states, Belarus and Ukraine, as well as from Russian and Prussian occupied Poland. Many friars were deported to Siberia. Many were martyred during the Soviet period. Yet, a long-term renaissance in the Order began after 1918 led by a distinguished Thomist scholar Jacek Woroniecki OP. Recovery continued after 1945 in spite of communism. Polish friars strongly supported the continued existence of a Catholic intelligentsia through pastoral work with students at Poznan, Krakow, Gdansk and Lublin.”

“Across the Order, about one sixth of the friars are new members in training. There are growing numbers of friars, sisters and lay Dominicans in Vietnam, thriving provinces in India and the Philippines, as well as new Asian missions.”

“Some eight hundred years after St Dominic created the Order of Preachers, God’s dogs are still busy, active in over one hundred countries across the globe. Much remains to be done. As the friars’ Fundamental Constitution declares, the Order must renew and “adapt itself courageously” in times of “accelerating change” for its “fundamental purpose and the way of life which follows from it retain their worth in every age”.”

This volume is like a mini biography of Saint Dominic and brief history of the order, following it’s spread around the world. And periods of waning and waxing over time. 

This is a great little volume. It seems every time I read a book from the Catholic Truth Society I find 2 or three others I want to read. I have an ever growing wish list of eBooks, books in print, and books out of print I want to track down. I greatly enjoyed this volume. This is an excellent read, in a great series, and one I can easily recommend.  

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2024 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

For reviews in the CTS Biographies Series Click here.

Books in the CTS Great Saints Series:
Antonio Rosmini - J.B. Midgley
Bernard of Clairvaux - J.B. Midgley
Benedict Patron of Europe - J.B. Midgley
Charles Borromeo - J.B. Midgley
Dominic - J.B. Midgley
Elizabeth of the Trinity The Great Carmelite Saint - Jennifer Moorcroft
Francis de Sales - J.B. Midgley
Gemma Galgani Gem of Christ John Paul Kirkham
George: Patron of England - J.B. Midgley
John Baptist de La Salle - J.B. Midgley
John of the Cross - Jennifer Moorcroft
John Vianney - J.B. Midgley
Louis Marie de Montfort His Life, Message and Teaching - Paul Allerton SMM
Martin de Porres - Glynn MacNiven-Johnston
Patrick Missionary to the Irish - Thomas O’Loughlin 

St Thérèse of Lisieux: Transformation into Love - Jennifer Moorcroft - CTS Biographies

Dominic and the Order of Preachers - Father Richard Finn, OP - CTS Biographies

Dominic and the Order of Preachers - Father Richard Finn, OP - CTS Biographies

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