As Dominican women, we are connected to a long and beautiful history. Our founder, Saint Dominic de Guzman dates back to the12th and 13th centuries. That is a very long time. It is so easy to get confused with our modern technology and lifestyle of instant gratification in believing that old is not necessarily good or essential or even relevant. What could a Spaniard who was born in the 1100s and died in the 1200s possibly have to tell you or me today? What does it really matter that we have trailing behind us like a winding road down a steep mountain a huge number of men and women, fellow Dominicans, who strove to live the gospel of truth and love, just as we strive to do today? One of those Dominicans is Saint Thomas Aquinas from Italy. He lived so long ago that historians are not even sure of the exact date of his birth! (They say either 1224 or 1225.) This man, always searching for the truth, like any good Dominican would do, was not afraid to be different and write about a new way of thinking. At first, his writings made him very unpopular. Some of his work was even condemned by the authorities. Later, Thomas Aquinas became so popular that the Church made him a saint.
A few weeks ago, a young woman at the high school where I minister used Saint Thomas as an example in her own life. She was preaching at an all school liturgy telling the students to look to Saint Thomas Aquinas, who knew what rejection felt like, when you feel the same way. And, she reminded them of our duty as gospel people to reach out to those who always sit alone at lunch or are walking alone in the hall. Not bad for an old guy…stretching across all those centuries to give a message to high school students today.
I am so proud of my Dominican heritage. And, I ask God daily to remind me of all those on whose shoulders we stand…whose courage, generosity, compassion, and seeking of the truth point out for us the road ahead. So, what messages from a voice in the past have you listened to lately?
Sr. Peggy Ryan, OP
Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin