Useful in Christ’s Service


From a Homily on St. Dominic by Allan White, O.P.

On his deathbed, Dominic told his friars that he wanted to be buried under the feet of his brethren. He wanted them to walk over him.

In the middle ages it was the custom to bury people in the cloister. St Dominic did not want to be marked out as special in any way. He wanted to lie awaiting the resurrection with his brethren. For him fraternity stretched into eternal life.

But St Dominic also wanted to be of use. Whenever a friar is assigned from one house to another, the document that he receives from the provincial reads:

Taking into account the necessities of the province and the ways in which you can be useful in Christ’s service…

Dominicans are to be useful, not first to others but to Christ. It is in being useful to Christ that they can be useful to others. They have to clear the ground of their lives of those obstacles that prevent that usefulness from flourishing. That is why they are called to live in poverty, chastity and obedience.

This spiritual husbandry is a work of grace. St Dominic wanted his friars to be preachers, but he realized that words are cheap unless they are rooted in life. We can speak the truth, but unless we live the truth we are useless servants. Speaking the truth and living the truth is how we become holy, and to be holy is to become like to Christ.