Every family has fond memories, ones they often recall. This is no different for the Dominican family who often recalls the ‘early days’ when the Order was taking shape. One such happy memory is the life of the magnanimous character and preacher par excellence, Jordan of Saxony. Jordan became a son of St. Dominic through the preaching of Bl. Reginald of Orleans. His outstanding holiness and capabilities quickly brought him to the rank of Master General of the order, successor to St. Dominic himself, just six years after the Order’s foundation. His radiant and attractive personality was like ‘honey for the bees.’
Jordan is always spoken about in light of the amount of novices that he attracted to the Order, some say over a thousand. It is a ‘family joke’ that when it was made known that Jordan was coming to a particular town, the prior of the convent in that town would instantly purchase copious amounts of cloth for the sure soon-to-be brothers. Men prayed to resist his fiery eloquence, mothers tried to hide their sons from his preaching and universities were infuriated because their classrooms were emptied of its most brilliant students and eminent professors. Among those who came to the Order through his preaching were two future popes, two saints, numerous blessed and many others who in their intellectual ingenuity shone like “the brightness of the firmament” drawing “many to righteousness” (Dan 12:3).
What was Jordan’s secret? There is no doubt that his affable and magnanimous character was a draw but one has to be careful not to reduce Jordan’s appeal to his charming and energetic personality. The secret to his preaching success was his sanctity, his intense union with the Lord and his passionate witness to the rule of life that he followed so intensely. The authenticity of his life and his love of the Lord, put simply, his holiness was the true “honey” for the bees. His words of fiery eloquence was simply the chariot for the Holy Spirit to touch many hearts, moving them to listen to their call to discipleship.
In a letter written to Bl. Diana d’Andalo Jordan asks “Who would be so foolish as to allow himself to die for a lack of a food which he could simply have by desiring it?” Jordan answers “send for your spirit there beloved, to the flowers of heaven’s fields which never fade, that it may draw honey from them and live, set aside of what it gathers in the hive of your heart.” Here Jordan is reminding Diana (and us) that the good of our souls s, the very ‘thing’ that keeps us going in all our trials and sufferings, is only a ‘desire away’. The desire of our soul is Jesus himself, the life of our soul. He is the real ‘honey’ that attracts us. Jordan therefore is only ‘honey for the bees’ because he feeds on the heavenly honey. It was the presence of Christ in Jordan that people were attracted to the Order.