"You are my companion, we will work together, supporting one another toward the same end, and no one will prevail against us." - St. Dominic to St. Francis in the account of their legendary meeting
The Patrons of our community are St. Dominic and St. Francis, two men who were given the vocation to renew the world's Christian fervor through founding the mendicant orders. In their day, the Church was at risk of spiritually falling into ruins, and Christ chose to work through these two men and the religious orders they founded to rebuild it. By genuinely giving their lives to serve Christ in the Church, they each gave witness to what it meant to follow the Gospel authentically. Mother Mary Gabriel once said, "The unity of their hearts in Jesus Christ and their loving devotion to His Immaculate Mother typify the unity, love, and zeal that gave impetus to and sealed their friendship." Holy Mother Church, recognizing their divine vocation in founding the mendicant way of life, has also affirmed their oneness of heart by placing them together in the Litany of the Saints.
St. Francis was known for the witness of his simple and humble life, which was modeled so closely after that of the poor Christ. He was lighthearted a young man living an extravagant life when he began to experience a conversion of heart, and Our Lord asked him in a vision to "rebuild My Church." Francis began to shape his life according to the Gospels, especially striving to imitate Christ's poverty and charity. His love for the Son of God made Man led him to try to win people's hearts to Christ by bringing the love of Christ among them. He fostered religious fervor through devotions that brought the mysteries of the life of the poor Christ close to the minds and hearts of the people. Devotions such as nativity scenes, The Stations of the Cross, and Eucharistic Adoration inspired in them a desire to recognize the presence and love of Christ in their own lives, and to respond to Him with a similar love. God chose to give a miraculous, visible sign to the world that St. Francis' life was authentic and pleasing to Him by imprinting on Francis' body the sacred wounds of Our Lord's Passion – the first known instance of the stigmata.
St. Dominic was deeply united with Christ. As a young priest, he spent many nights in adoration and prayer, receiving from Christ a heart full of compassion for those struggling amid the confusion caused by heresies. At that time, Albigensians were spreading a false understanding of God and man, misleading many people not only with their teaching but also by their austere manner of living, which rejected the true humanity and dignity of the human person. St. Dominic had an extraordinary gift of sharing with others the fruit of an authentic knowledge of God and man, which he had received in prayer. His presence exuded the joy and love of Christ, and many were brought to Christ by the example of his life. His preaching focused on the mysteries of the Incarnation, Passion, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. St. Dominic's life was marked by the love with which he made these mysteries present in the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Through the maternal care of our Blessed Mother, St. Dominic was given a means of extending the effects of this sacrifice in the hearts of men when she gave him the Holy Rosary as a means of evangelization and a simple way to contemplate the mysteries of the life of Jesus.
We look to both of these men as our patrons and examples - two men whose missions might seem so very different. The truth is that they had much in common, most importantly the vocation of rebuilding the Church through their teaching and witness. God revealed the dire need for conversion within the Church and the need for the Truths of Christ to be boldly proclaimed. In answer, they gave their lives for the Gospel, rigorously living the Evangelical Counsels and showing a deep knowledge of the ways of God. Both were known as men of deep prayer and perfect charity. Almost simultaneously they pioneered the mendicant way of life, so different from the way of religious life in past ages. Interesting, too, is that both taught their followers that the example of a holy life would be more efficacious in converting souls than the most eloquent preaching. God raised these two men up at a time of Great spiritual poverty so that, while their orders served different needs, they complemented each other and worked together toward the same goal, the salvation of souls. The Church in our modern day is again in need of re-evangelization. May St. Francis and St. Dominic intercede for us always, and direct us in our work of igniting the fire of Divine Love in the hearts of men.