[dropcap]E[/dropcap]ight-hundred years ago, a Spanish priest from Osma took a trip with his bishop, Juan Diego, through France, headed for Norway to retrieve a princess for the son of King Phillip of Spain. The two never made it, through no fault of their own, but because the princess ceased breathing — a deal-breaker in the old days. But what they found was deep and abiding heresy that would make today’s progressive Catholics seem like choir kids.
Dominic de Guzman was the priest and he and Bishop Diego turned from their diocesan duties to battle the heresy rampant in the south of France. They sought permission from the Vatican to form an order of itinerant preachers to travel the world and preach the Good News of the true Gospels. Unfortunately, Bishop Diego passed away, but, fortunately, the dream was left to Dominic to carry on.
‘Hounds of the Lord’
Author(s): Kevin Cost, Psy.D
Publisher: Sophia Institute Press
Length: 256 pages
Release Date: November 10, 2015
Thus began a journey that Kevin Vost, a proud recipient of Dominican Catholic education, illustrates in a new book titled, “Hounds of the Lord.” With the eighth centenary of the Order of Preachers, or Dominicans, upon us this year, the book is very timely.
“Hounds” is a reference to the play on words in Latin, Domini, meaning God, and canes, meaning “dogs.” We Dominicans have long considered ourselves literally “gone to the dogs.”
Vost divides his material up into “Doers”, “Thinkers”, and “Lovers” (in the contemplative style) though we Dominicans tend to believe that thinking is doing because we all love thinking … and doing. This is a minor point. Vost first discusses the founder of the order and the mystical nature of his personhood. Before he was born, his mother, Jane of Aza, a very righteous and charitable woman, purportedly had a dream in which a dog — yes, here we go again — runs throughout the world with a torch in its mouth, a symbol to Dominic’s mother that he would grow up and spread the fire of the Gospel. Good call. History looks upon Dominic as a fiery hero bringing light to the abject darkness that was the Albigensian heresy.
So many stories make up his life that Vost was able to include only some of them. There is the story of the Innkeeper, an Albigensian whom he stayed up with all night during his journey to Norway bringing the man back to the faith. There is the story of the Gospel of Matthew, which he carried with him at all times, and which he threw in a fire with an Albigensian work to test the veracity of each. The Gospel of Matthew was unharmed and the heretic work was consumed by the flames. There was the story of Dominic selling all of his other books (great treasures in those times) to buy food for the poor. When he formed the order, he formed a convent of nuns, followed by the laity — that’s me — and then the friars, priests and brothers, and finally the apostolic sisters. Education was the foundation of all his preaching and he insisted on it for the rest of us.
When he died, he asked to be buried underneath the feet of the brothers. Dominic is legendary for the Rosary, purportedly given to him by the Holy Mother. Prayer beads existed long before Dominic but who is to say that the prayer form did not begin with him? Certainly not I.
Vost details the life of Bl. Humbert of Romans who helped organize the order into the democratic form — one of the first in Europe — it is in today.
Bl. Fra Angelico is detailed, the painter of such passion that he is often compared to great masters of the era. St. Thomas Aquinas, the great thinker, St. Albert the Great, the great scientist, and lay members St. Catherine of Siena, St. Martin de Porres, St. Rose of Lima, and Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati are all detailed in their lives and actions.
Of course, the order does not boast but I am weak and can go ahead. We have 93 blesseds, 21 saints, four popes, and three of the 35 doctors of the Church.
Vost’s book is good for me, good for you, and good for the Church. And if you want to inquire about joining the ranks of these “Hounds of the Lord,” email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.