Thursday, August 28, 2008

Augustine and Dominic

Today is the glorious feast day of my patron, St. Augustine of Hippo.

The Church of St. Vincent Ferrer blog discusses today the role of St. Augustine in the Order of Preachers. The Dominicans apply the Rule of Augustine, which was seen as quite flexible for the life of the friars, as unlike other religious orders, they were not confined to perpetual life in the monasteries.
At the time, the bishops judged that groups were multiplying faster than the Church could assure their authenticity. They concluded, therefore, that any new association seeking approval from the Church would have to adopt one of the ancient monastic rules already in use. Among these were the Rules of Augustine, Basil, and Benedict...

After conferring with the brethren, Dominic returned to Rome in 1216 to inform Pope Honorius III (Innocent died just after the Council) that he and his followers had chosen the Rule of Augustine. For many reasons, the choice was a natural one. First of all, Augustine’s was the rule Dominic himself lived under as a canon of the Cathedral of Osma. He knew it by heart, and he understood its potential for forming priests in holiness.

Secondly, Augustine’s rule is one of the more flexible in the Church’s tradition. Unlike St. Benedict, Augustine did [not] use his rule to legislate the particular customs of a monastic community. Instead, he outlined only the general principles that should order a group of monks living together in charity. This flexible rule was more suitable to the new Order of Preachers, whose members would spend a lot of time traveling and preaching outside the priory. Their customs would have to adjust to space and time, all the while being guided by the lasting principles of Christian monasticism.

Lastly, Augustine himself could serve as a saintly example for preachers dedicated to the study of truth. As the greatest of the patristic fathers, St. Augustine demonstrated in his own person that contemplative prayer, deep study, and pastoral care can all coalesce into one fruitful priestly life. His rule bears the marks of one who lived the mixed life perfectly.

For 800 years now, the sons of St. Dominic have lived also as the spiritual sons of St. Augustine.
Holy Father Dominic and my blessed patron, Augustine, intercede for me.

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