800 years ago this year St. Dominic received the Pope’s permission to found an Order of Preachers in the Church whose mission is summed up in the motto of the Dominican Order, to praise, to bless, to preach.
Each time I come to the shrine of Knock I am reminded of the motto for in the figures of Knock we have a living presentation of the motto. St. Joseph in prayer reminds us that all our lives must begin in praise before God, but particularly if we are to be preachers our lives must be rooted in prayer as we see St. Joseph bowed in prayer. Joseph the silent one of the Gospels bows his head in prayer. Our Blessed Lady stands there calling down a blessing upon all who come to Knock. By accepting the invitation of the angel The Blessed Ever-Virgin brought into the world the greatest of all blessings, Jesus the Lord, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. When we Dominicans preach we preach the Good News of Jesus Christ which is pure blessing to all who hear it. Our preaching of the Word of God brings the Lord into the world in this way we share in Mary’s mission as Mother of the Word of God. Our preaching must be always of the Lamb of God, who loved us and gave himself for us. And finally St. John stands preaching with the Book of the Gospels in his hand. He is dressed as a bishop reminding us that when St. Dominic founded the Order it was to help the bishops in the preaching of the truth of the Gospel.
The apparition of Knock is silent and from the silence it speaks to us. St. Dominic was a quiet man of prayer and study but when he came face to face with people preaching a false gospel, he could no longer remain silent. One of the earliest stories we have of him is staying up all night with an inn-keeper explaining to him the truth of the Gospel and finally winning the man back to the catholic faith. Dominic the quiet man stayed up all night talking, giving the inn-keeper his time and his silence for the salvation of his soul. St. Dominic’s preaching comes out of love, love of God and love of his neighbour, praise and blessing. Dominic didn’t want to win an argument he wanted to win a soul.
As we Dominicans come to Knock this special year of our Jubilee 800 we remember also St. Dominic’s great love of Our Blessed Lady. All his life he showed a great devotion and trust in Mary, in times of trouble he turned to her, when the brethren or nuns were in need he confided in her maternal aid and protection. St. Dominic preacher of the Most Holy Rosary knew that by keeping Mary to the fore-front of his preaching the mission of his Order would succeed and flourish.
On this Jubilee 800 pilgrimage to Knock we come inspired by Our Holy Father St. Dominic to remain faithful to our motto, to praised, to bless and to preach and there is no more sure way of remaining faithful than by placing Mary at the centre of our lives and our preaching.
Fr. John Harris, O.P.