He Just Talks to God and of God.
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Today we celebrate the feast of Saint Dominic, Founder of the Order of Preachers, popularly known as the Dominicans.
Among the blessings left by Saint Dominic to benefit our times, we take one very interesting and helpful with which he teaches us how to build a good balance in our two-way relationship with God and with neighbors.
We, Christians, are taught to observe the Commandment of love: love of God and love of our fellow men and women. Oftentimes, we find it difficult to fulfill both. It seems to be a dilemma: we may neglect our duty toward family and society when we concentrate more on serving God; and we may have little time to accomplish our religious obligations if we are too much involved in social, economic and political concerns.
The picture of the life of a lay Christian is almost the opposite of that of a priest or a religious sister or brother, the way the picture of Martha is the opposite of that of Mary. This reality may cause many of us a feeling of sadness when we do wish to be active Christians in serving both God and neighbors. We really love to dedicate all our life to worship God, and at the same time to spend our energy helping the poor, the suffering and the less fortunate. But it is impossible for one same actor to play this double role: one of a missionary building God’s Kingdom and another of an activist fighting for justice and human rights.
To the problem of how to reconcile the two contrasting options Saint Dominic found his best solution. His solution can be termed as a simple slogan that goes “Cum Deo vel De Deo”. This phrase in Latin can be translated: “cum”: to; “Deo”: God; “vel”: or; “de”: of or about; “Deo”: God. So, “Cum Deo vel de Deo” means “to God or of God.” Saint Dominic spent his time just talking to God or of God. Yet he was not a monk always living in isolation in a monastery, praying day and night, offering God songs of praise and thanksgiving. He did plunge into long and profound meditation. But he also took long and tiring trips as a very active preacher of Christ’s Good News, bringing to thousands and thousands of people God’s saving truth and fighting deadly falsehood. Such busy schedules—we may think—would leave him no time even to rest and eat. However, Saint Dominic knew well how to solve that time and interest conflict by turning both service of God and of neighbors into just one aim: that of loving God.
In fact, Saint Dominic spent the day for the service of people, teaching them about God, so that they may know God better, love God more, serve God alone, and glorify God all the days of their lives. That was how Saint Dominic put into practice the second part of the slogan “de Deo”, of or about God.
At night, Saint Dominic only took a short sleep and then he spent the rest of the time praying happily and fervently to God for the needs of the world, of the Church, and of those suffering from all forms of evil. By so doing, he put into practice the first part of the slogan “cum Deo”, with or to God.
Now, we can learn from what Saint Dominic did in his time to reconcile any form of conflict between our duty of serving of God and that of serving people. We love God and as a result we should love our neighbors. We love our neighbors because we love God. We serve people because God wants us to serve Him in our sisters and brothers, in particular those in needs and suffering. When we serve people, we become visible signs of God’s love, we are witnesses of God’s mercy and compassion to those hungry and thirsty for truth, justice, peace and happiness.
As Saint Dominic was a great preacher of Christ’s Good News, we, too, are preachers of God’s love and forgiveness, not only by words but also by actions, being sure that actions speak louder than words.
So, we would try to put into practice Saint Dominic’s slogan “cum Deo vel de Deo”: he just talks to God or of God.
By Fr. Francis Nguyen, O.P.