Blessed Jordan and the Dominican Nuns

February 8, 2014

Day 4: Blessed Jordan and the Dominican Nuns

Before St. Dominic had any substantial following of men, he had already founded a monastery of nuns. The historical reasons are simple enough to understand. After saving a number of women from the heresy of the Cathars, he needed to offer them a positive alternative. As Cathars, these women lived very austere, ascetical lives. As Catholics, Dominic offered them an opportunity to be true ascetics by founding a monastery at Prouille. Dominic would later refound St. Sixtus convent in Rome. In Bologna, he received the vows of a young woman, Diana d’Andalò, a daughter of a noble family. Sadly, St. Dominic would die before Diana was ever able to enter a Dominican monastery. Blessed Jordan, as Master of the Order, continued St. Dominic’s work. As Master of the Order he firmly established the nuns of the Order of Preachers. In our own lives, preaching ought to come forth from the fullness of contemplation. The nuns of the Order of Preachers, living a hidden life, offer a powerful efficacy to the preached Word. Here is an example of a letter which Blessed Jordan wrote to Blessed Diana at Christmas in 1223, offering consolation, and encouraging her to contemplation of the Word:

“I cannot find the time to write you the long letter your love would wish for and I would so gladly send; nonetheless I do write, I send you a very little word, the Word made little in the crib, the Word who was made flesh for us, the Word of salvation and grace, of sweetness and glory, the Word who is good and gentle, Jesus Christ and Him crucified, Christ raised up on the Cross, raised in praise to the Father’s right hand: to whom and in whom do you raise up your soul, and find there your rest unending for ever and ever. Read over this Word in your heart, turn it over in your mind, let it be sweet as honey on your lips; ponder it, dwell on it, that it may dwell with you and in you for ever.”

As Dominic friars, we are very mindful of the great part which the nuns play in the Order of Preachers. As we continue our novena to Blessed Jordan, we ask that he obtain many vocations to the Order of Preachers, and especially to our monasteries of contemplative nuns:

Blessed Jordan of Saxony, worthy successor of St. Dominic, in the early days of the Order, your example and zeal prompted many men and women to follow Christ in the white habit of Our Holy Father. As patron of Dominican vocations, continue to stimulate talented and devoted men and women to consecrate their lives to God. Through your intercession, lead to the Order of Preachers generous and sacrificing persons, willing to give themselves fervently to the apostolate of Truth. Help them to prepare themselves to be worthy of the grace of a Dominican vocation. Inspire their hearts to become learned of God, that with firm determination they might aspire to be “champions of the Faith and true lights of the world.”

Day 5 of the Novena (or Day 3)

Image: Gerard von Honthorst, Adoration of the Child

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