Why this celebration on the 7th of November (All Saints of the Dominican Order) while the Universal Church celebrated the solemn feast of all her holy sons and daughters six days ago? The Dominicans were the second Order after the Benedictines to receive this privilege from the Holy See. Pope Clement X in response to the request of Cardinal Vincent Maria Orsini, OP, in 1674, wrote:
“Rightly, my Lord Cardinal, ought your Order to celebrate the solemnity of all its Saints on one appointed day; for, if we wished to assign to each of its holy sons his own special feast, we should have to form a new calendar, and they alone would suffice to fill it”.
No. 57 of our Constitutions exhorts us daughters of Mother Gerine to celebrate and pray through them:
"In the communion of saints, we remember all who have gone before us on the journey of faith, we venerate the saints and blessed, particularly those of the Dominican Family, invoking their intercession".
Apart from the well known saints and Blesseds of our Order, like Blessed father Dominic, Thomas Aquinas, Catherine of Siena, Albert the Great, Martin de porres, Rose of Lima, Agnes of Montepulciano, Jordan of Saxony, Peter of Verona, Reginald of Orleans, Hyacinth and others who have specific date for their feasts and memorials, there are numerous dominican martyrs, confessors, virgins, holy men and women who poured their lives as a libation for love of God and for salvation of souls.
History has it that in the sixteenth century alone, 26,000 of the children of Saint Dominic gave their lives for the faith. An author in the year 1882 wrote that, from the foundation of the Order down to our own day, there has never been a single decade of years without some addition to the blood-stained roll of its martyrs.
We remember with joy and gratitude to God our numerous brothers and sisters: friars, nuns, sisters, lay dominicans, who were martyrs in the spirit; consumed their lives and bore witness to the gospel and charism of the Order in their various rsponsibilities in the convents and monasteries, Kitchens, laundries, farms, gardens and poultries, schools of different levels, houses of formation, hospitals, pulpits, confessionals, parishes, sick beds, orphanages, handicapped and old peoples home, mission land and in their matrimonial homes.
These brothers and sisters of ours endured great sufferings, pains, humiliations, injustice, calumnies, sickness and other forms of persecution with silence, joyful acceptance and abandonment to the perfect Will of God. They did their daily work no matter how small with so much love and dedication; sanctified every moment of their day with silence and prayer, bore the fatigue of the day silently as a sweet offering to their Lord.
Reading through the lives of the numerous holy men and women of our Dominican Order; one thing remained certain…they were people with deep and passionate desire! This burning desire for God and for salvation of souls consumed their being till like St. Paul they considered all things as loss when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:8).
St. Catherine of Siena our “Star” spoke and wrote profoundly on the importance of “desire”. The saints were not extra ordinary human beings with extra ordinary powers, but they were people of a passionate desire. They loved, hungered and thirsted for God alone. The more they experienced him, the deeper was their desire…it was unquenchable and unsatiable!
The only thing that mattered to them was to please Him who they desired in the deepest part of their being. All they did had only one motivation… for the Lord! Nothing was wasted, no matter how insignificant! This love was translated in their selfless and sincere love for the people around them; who were actually those that gave the testimonies of their lives.
We are all called to holiness. As we celebrate and thank the Lord for their lives; the question remains: Am I a person of desire? Am I passionate about something? If yes, what then is my desire? If it is holiness, that is already a fertile land where the grace of God can begin its amazing work. All is possible through the unfailing grace of God!
Our destined home is heaven where Our Lord will wipe away all tears; there we shall see Him as He really is. In His radiant presence where we shall worship and adore Him in His throne of Mercy forever and ever. May this joyful hope strengthen us in our daily struggles here on earth.
We humbly ask the ceaseless intercession of Mary Patroness of the Order and the numerous holy men and women of our Dominican family that we too will one day rejoin them in the Heavenly Banquet of eternal life under the virginal mantle of our dearest Patroness. Amen.
Sr. M. Ebele Immaculata Okoye, (Roma - Via degli Artisti)
6th November, 2017