Because of St. Dominic de Guzman, priests became “preachers” of God’s word, and not just dispensers of the sacraments. This is the monumental contribution of the founder of the Order of Preachers to the Christian Church.

The task of preaching had been intended only for bishops at the end of the 12th century, according to the country’s top Dominican.

“Many suppose that all priests can preach and this has been the case ever since, but this was not so until the time of [St.] Dominic,” said Fr. Gerard Francisco Timoner III, O.P. in an e-mail to the Varsitarian.

St. Dominic’s petition to establish the Order of Preachers (O.P.) to Pope Innocent III gave priests the right to preach the bible, he said.

“The foundation of the Order signalled an important development [in] the ministry of preaching in the Church,” said Timoner, UST vice chancellor and the new head of the Dominican Province of the Philippines.

The saint, whose feast day is celebrated every August 8, founded the Order of the Preachers or the Dominican Order in 1216. It has a three-fold mission: Laudare (to praise), Benedicere (to bless), and Predicare (to preach).

“Most saints are immediately known by their charismatic singularity or uniqueness—think of St. Francis of Assisi, [and] Mother Teresa of Calcutta. St. Dominic simply blends in or is hardly noticeable,” Timoner said. “He did not present himself as a paragon for following Christ. He gave the Order he founded a work to do—to preach Jesus Christ to the world.”

St. Dominic, who is the patron saint of astronomers, was born in 1170 in Caleruega, Spain to a noble family. He was ordained at the age of 25 and put under the patronage of St. Augustine. Pope Gregory IX canonized him on July 13, 1234.

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Teachings of St. Dominic

Timoner said St. Dominic, known as a “preacher of grace,” invites people to look at the world as a gift despite its imperfections.

“Modern people are often unhappy, some even lapse into depression, because they fail to see the many forms of grace that surround [them],” he said.

St. Dominic vigorously fought the Albigensian heresy, the belief that the material world is evil because it came from an “evil principle”; therefore the flesh is evil and only the spirit is good.

“[St.] Dominic reasserted the Christian teaching that God is the author of creation and therefore everything in this world is good except sin. In other words, St. Dominic called attention to the teaching of Genesis: the story of creation is primarily a story of original blessing and not original sin,” Timoner said.

Timoner said people can understand St. Dominic through the Dominicans who became icons in preaching Jesus Christ to the world, including Thomas of Aquinas, Albert the Great, Martin de Porres, Catherine of Siena, Rosa de Lima, Bartolome de las Casas and the companion martyrs of Lorenzo Ruiz.

“As Dominicans, as members of a Dominican institution, we are, to a significant sense, part of the preaching of Dominic to the world,” he said. Denise Pauline P. Purugganan

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