Saturday, August 28, 2010

On Waldensians and Dominicans

I rather liked this brief little tale written by Gerald de Frachet, an early Dominican friar, concerning Peter of Aubenas and his entrance to the Dominicans.  This story is also recorded in the Lives of the Brethren:
Brother Peter of Aubenas, who served as prior and as lector in Provence and who ran his course in the Order happily to its end, has described how he came to join the Order.  When he was practicing medicine in Genoa and had already made a promise to join the Order, the Poor Men of Lyons, also called the Waldensians, had such a disturbing effect on him that he was in great doubt which of the two he ought to follow.  He was rather more drawn to the Waldensians he found there, because he saw in them more outward signs of humility and of the virtues of piety, while he considered the friars too cheerful and showy.

So one evening, when he was brooding unhappily about this, not knowing what to do, he knelt down and asked God with all his heart, weeping profusely, to reveal to him, in his mercy, what he ought to do in this dilemma.  After his prayer he went to sleep, and shortly afterward he imagined that he was walking along a road with a dark wood on the left hand side of it, in which he saw the Waldensians all going their separate ways, with sad, solemn faces.  On the right side of the road was a very long, high wall, which was extremely beautiful.  He walked along it for some time and at last came to a gate.  Looking in, he saw an exquisite meadow, planted with trees and colorful with flowers.  In it he saw a crowd of Friars Preachers in a ring, with joyful faces raised towards heaven.  One of them was holding the Body of Christ in his upraised hands.  This sight delighted him and made him want to join them; but an angel who was guarding the gate blocked his way and said, "You will not enter in here now."  He started to weep bitterly.  Then he woke up and found himself bathed in tears and his heart joyful instead of his previous distress.  After some days, when he had dispatched some business he was obliged to do, he entered the Order. 

I heard this and a great deal more from his own lips.  He was a very contemplative man, and the Lord revealed many things to him in the Order and about the Order.

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