Feast day: 5th of October
Friar, Priest and Master of the Dominican Order, Optional Memorial
Raymond delle Vigne was born at Capua, Italy, about 1330 and while studying at the University of Bologna entered the Order there in 1350. After holding various administrative and teaching positions in the Roman Province he was assigned to be spiritual director for Saint Catherine of Siena, whose friend, confidant, biographer, guide and disciple he became. In May, 1380, Raymond was elected Master of that portion of the Order which had remained faithful to the Roman Pontiff, Urban VI. He vigorously promoted reform within the Order while at the sane time working to restore unity to the Church, rent asunder as it was by the Western Schism. He died at Nurenberg on October 5, 1399 while visitating the German priories.
The second reading (of the Office of Readings) taken from the supplement to the Liturgy of the Hours for the Order of Preachers:
From the letters of Blessed Raymond of Capua.
“You will he good seed, the special people of Blessed Dominic.”
Most dear and beloved [brothers] in the Lord Jesus, heartfelt blessings in Christ and greetings.
I thank God who breathed upon you the Holy Spirit by which you were drawn to a holy and regular observance and to the imitation of our holy forebears who have gone before us. They proceeded along a straight path as followers of Saint Dominic. If you remain in the grace of God, you will be the good seed, a chosen nation, a special people of Saint Dominic. You will become light for others and salt for the earth.
I beg you, [my brothers,] in the love of our Lord Jesus Christ, not to be frightened by those who oppose and threaten you, nor allow unsound advice to interrupt your holy work and the holy way of life you have begun.
Furthermore, [my brothers,] I do not want you to be proud on this account nor look down on others who are living in another way. God is also able to give them the Holy Spirit. Perhaps they are more pleasing to God than you. We know that while physical training is of some value, devotion is valuable in every way. If others abound more in devotion, while enjoying meat and wine, surely in God’s sight they are better than you, for the kingdom of God does not consist in food and drink but in love of God and of neighbor.
I do not want you to think you are better than others, but rather lower than all; esteem yourselves as weak and sickly, in that you have need of the help which others do not need. For if with meat and wine I love my God and my neighbor with an upright and generous heart, but you without these foods spurn your neighbor, your abstinence is no match for my feasting in the sight of God.
Remember the teaching of the Apostle. If those who are nothing think they are something, they deceive themselves. [My brothers,] keep away from the beast of boasting and concern for one’s reputation, for these destroy and weaken every good work. To be perfectly open with you, I fear nothing for you so much as that plague, that wild beast. I do not want you to be deprived of any good work in such a way. You too should have this same fear and ask God to give you a spirit of humility. I, your weak and defenseless servant in the battle of life, beg for myself God’s gift of the Holy Spirit by whom alone I live and in whose name I am able to overcome all enemies.
Alternative Second Reading
From a letter of Saint Catherine of Siena to Blessed Raymond.
“Be a true spouse of the Truth.”
Most beloved father in our dear Christ Jesus. I Catherine, a minister and servant of the servants of Jesus Christ write you in his precious blood. I desire that you become a true spouse of the Truth himself, that you follow him and love him.
I see no way of tasting the truth and of living with it without self-knowledge. It is this knowledge that really makes us understand that we are not, and that our being came from God in whose image and likeness we were created. Through this knowledge we come to know that God created us a second time by giving us again the life of grace through the blood of the only Son, blood that had manifested to us the truth of God the Father. This is the divine truth: we were created for the glory and praise of God’s name and to participate in the eternal beauty of God and so be sanctified in God. And what is the proof that this is true? It is the blood of the spotless Lamb.
How do we come to know this blood? By self-knowledge. We were that earth where the standard of the cross was planted. We were the vessel that received the blood of the Lamb flowing from the cross. Why were we this earth? Because the earth itself did not suffice to keep the cross standing erect; it would have refused such a great injustice. The nails would not have been enough to hold him fixed and nailed if his ineffable love of our salvation had not held him.
It was the flaming love for the glory of his Father and of our salvation that kept him on the cross. We are, then, that earth which supported the cross and the vessel that received his blood.
The one who has the knowledge of this Truth and who becomes its spouse will find in the blood all the richness and life of grace. The nakedness of such a person will be covered by the bridal gown and will be clothed by the fire of charity, for the blood and the fire meld and penetrate one another and it was love that united the blood to the divinity and that poured it out.
In the blood we are nourished and fed by mercy; in the blood we can dispel the darkness and enjoy light; for in the blood we can destroy the fog of self-love and overcome a servile fear of the One who punishes. Whoever does not love truth will not find truth in self-knowledge and the blood.
For this reason it is necessary for you to be the spouse of Truth, if you are to know Truth. Where will you do this? In the house of self-knowledge where you know that everything you have comes from God through a gratuitous grace; where you experience that re-creation which Truth bestows. This is what is means to be re-created in grace by the blood of the Lamb, to wash oneself, to submerge and kill the will. By any other way you will an unfaithful spouse of the Truth, rather than a faithful spouse. I said that I wanted to see you a true spouse of the Truth, because I desire this.
Persevere in the holy and delightful love of God. Sweet Jesus! Jesus, love