“He was a man who wept” (Simon Tugwell, OP)
It’s a difficult time. The politicians are riling the voters. Terrorist attacks, overflowing refugee camps, gun deaths, the threat of an unstable Middle East. As the daily news floods over us, we can’t begin to number the evils that beset our world. Humanity’s sins are enormous and growing; what we have thought to be progress has hurt and exploited countless human beings and God’s beloved earth in ways we never considered. We pray as Dominic prayed,”O Mercy! What will become of sinners?”
We try to be good servants of the Gospel. We are good citizens. We read. We listen. We have a call to seek and preach the truth, to bear the Gospel of Peace. But in this seething and starving world we are so small, so sinful and needy ourselves. We are vowed as Preachers of Grace, living Gospels. We pray urgently with Dominic, the man who preached by day and wept by night: What will become of a sinful world? What would you have us, me, do, to show your Mercy?
Even at its best, humanity has never been able to erase human error, cruelty and suffering—it all keeps coming back. We never have been able to reach far enough for long enough with energy enough. All our lives, dedicated as they are, are circumscribed in time and place and the limits of our bodies, minds and spirits. All people, including Jesus himself lived, as we do, the scandal of particularity.
God knows we daughters and sons of Dominic have tried: study, prayer, common life, preaching. We have served as we can, gone where we were sent. We have written, spoken out, rallied. Successes? Failures? There is no way to tally. The apostle Paul, Preacher Dominic, our saints, our foundresses were– as Mother Teresa has been quoted– not asked by God to be successful, only faithful. And this is why Dominic stayed up nights pleading with God.
In the long view, in God’s time, what we have accomplished will be
revealed. But in the mystery of God’s grace, our accomplishment is beside the point. The work is God’s, the energy is the Spirit’s, the victory is Christ’s. Such a mercy! Such a freedom! So every day we can claim the call to praise, to bless, to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ as best we can to the small worlds we are given, in the days we are allotted, with the ambiguities that bedevil us. And we continue, with the groaning of creation, and the Spirit groaning with us, Dominic’s vigil of prayer for the world.
When we pray, the aim is not (as popularly presented), to center ourselves into some private peace, but to break our hearts open—as did Christ Jesus– to share the agony of God’s people, the unspeakable, the unbearable, the seemingly relentless. Prayer is the worldwide web in which we are driven to dwell as was Dominic, an immediacy of presence to God and neighbor and a ravaged earth.
Prayer is the silent word in the vows we pronounce, our life’s work, witness to an ever-so-much-more relentless presence: God’s power and promise, a Word of hope for a future where there will be “no death, no mourning, no crying or pain….” Holy Father Dominic, pray for your sons and daughters, pray. Be with us in our tears, our vigils, our labors for the Gospel in a broken world; your voice, your weeping, your steadfast confidence loud over time as your sons and daughters plead and witness, “Champions of faith and true lights for the world.”