Master of the Order of Preachers Fr. Gerard Timoner III, O.P. delivers his homily during the Mass for the dies natalis or birth in heaven of St. Dominic at the Basilica of San Domenico in Bologna, Italy. (Photo from the Ordo Praedicatorum website)

MASTER of the Order of Preachers Fr. Gerard Timoner III, O.P. said St. Dominic de Guzman’s mission has remained timeless and timely, 800 years removed from his death.

During the Mass for the dies natalis or birth in heaven of St. Dominic at the Basilica of San Domenico in Bologna, Italy on Aug. 6, Timoner said the saint’s mission was perennial due to the recurring process of new evangelization.

“It is timely because he offered a relevant response to the specific situation, but also timeless because it has become an event transcending its occurrence and ever meaningful at every moment of history,” Timoner said in his homily.

“St. Dominic embraced a mission that is timely, because he saw a world in dire need of a new evangelization. Yet the same mission is truly timeless, because every generation is in want of a new evangelization,” he added.

The UST Grand Chancellor also urged Dominicans to emulate how the saint confronted problems, including those of indifference, clericalism, divisions, false news and hopelessness.

“In a time that is marked by indifference, especially towards the suffering-other, Dominic preached misericordia veritatis, the mercy of truth,” he said.

Timoner narrated how the student Dominic sold his precious belongings to establish a center for almsgiving where the poor could be fed.

“His exemplary kindness inspired others to do the same,” Timoner said.

The Master of the Order recounted how St. Dominic combatted clericalism.

“The charism of preaching he received propelled Dominic to remind the Church of her universal mission to preach the Gospel, that preaching is a mission, not of a few chosen ones, but of all members of the Church,” Timoner said.

Timoner chronicled how St. Dominic, at a time when the Church “was wounded by divisions and discord,” envisioned a “communitarian form of government that promotes inclusion and participation in discernment and decision-making.”

St. Dominic also had a distinct way of dealing with “fake news.”

“At a time when error and fake news sowed confusion and misled many, Dominic sent his brothers to the emerging universities in Europe. He knew the importance of sound and solid theological formation that is based on Sacred Scripture and attentive to questions posed by the times,” Timoner said. 

“The intellectual mission of the Order and its mission to preach veritas (truth) is an important antidote to another pernicious pandemic — fake news, half-truths, which are in fact half-lies,” he added.

Timoner said St. Dominic became a beacon of hope for many as he “continue[d] to be helpful to the brothers and sisters, vowed to intercede for us, and, therefore, to abide with us by his prayers.”

“Ultimately, hope is grounded on the certainty that God will never abandon us.  Hope is the assurance that God abides in the “mysteries of joy, sorrow, glory and light” of our lives. Hope is Christ in us,” he said.

Communion is stronger than Covid-19

Head of Filipino Dominicans and UST Vice Chancellor Fr. Filemon Dela Cruz, Jr., O.P. called on Catholics to find meaningful ways to celebrate the eighth centenary of St. Dominic’s death amid the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“What Covid-19 could not prohibit us from doing is fostering communion among us. Even though we are at different tables and different places, the situation has also provided us with opportunities,” he said.

De la Cruz also said continuing fellowship and strengthening communion with various ministries could help make the most out of the current situation.

“We continue celebrating with the means and opportunities given to us today in the different fields of our mission and ministries in education, the vocation for promotion and information in the health ministry,” he said. 

“We could still come together at the different tables that we have at the moment so that we can continue to grow and serve and fulfill our mission today,” he added.

Successors of St. Dominic

Timoner is the 87th successor of St. Dominic, the “principle of unity of the Order, to whom all the friars and nuns of the Order make a profession of obedience.”

“It was the desire of St Dominic that he should not be called ‘Abbot’, but rather ‘Master’ that is, ‘teacher’ of his brothers,” according to the Ordo Praedicatorum website. 

Meanwhile, De la Cruz heads the Dominican Province of the Philippines. He is tasked to “promote regular and apostolic life, provide for the brothers’ needs [and] should be concerned that the brothers fulfill their personal obligations,” according to the Rule of St. Augustine. 

In 1216, St. Dominic founded the Order of Preachers to combat heresy and address the spiritual and intellectual needs of the people of the time.

The Dominican Order is credited for its intellectual tradition, producing many theologians and philosophers including St. Thomas Aquinas, the patron saint of UST. with reports from Joenner Paulo L. Enriquez O.P. and Nolene Beatrice H. Crucillo


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