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FULL TEXT: Fr. Timoner’s homily at liturgical declaration of St. Dominic Parish Church as minor basilica

FULL TEXT: Fr. Timoner’s homily at liturgical declaration of St. Dominic Parish Church as minor basilica

Fr. Gerard Francisco Timoner, Master of the Order of Preachers, delivers his homily during the solemn liturgical declaration of the St. Dominic Parish Church as a minor basilica on Jan. 14, 2023. CBCP NEWS

By CBCP News

January 16, 2023

MANILA— Read the full homily of Fr. Gerard Francisco Timoner, Master of the Order of Preachers, also known as the Dominican Order, during the Solemn Liturgical Declaration of the St. Dominic Parish Church in San Carlos City as a Minor Basilica on Jan. 14, 2023:

We are present in this Eucharistic gathering, in this assembly of thanksgiving, to give praise and thanks to God for this solemn liturgical declaration of the St. Dominic Parish Church as a Basilica Minore. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first Basilica Minore in Asia under the patronage of St. Dominic and the fifth in the entire world – three in Italy and one in Argentina. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of our brother Archbishop Socrates Villegas, we have two Minor Basilicas in the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan: the Basilica of our Lady of Manaoag and this Basilica of St. Dominic. Both were established as parishes by the Dominican missionaries in 1600 and 1587 respectively. The two basilicas in Italy and the one in Argentina were declared basilicas shortly before or after the 7th centenary of the death of St. Dominic. This is the first and, perhaps, the only one after the 8th jubilee celebration.

A Jesuit friend who works at their General Curia in Rome asked me during the jubilee year: “what is your hope for the Dominicans today?” I said “I hope we Dominicans would do what Ignatius of Loyola did!” He thought I was joking. But I pointed out to him that exactly three hundred years after St. Dominic died, Ignatius of Loyola read the lives of St. Francis and St. Dominic and experienced the grace of conversion. That is my hope for all of us Dominicans, to read again the life of St. Dominic and be renewed in our vocation as preachers of the Gospel! If Dominic inspired a man who lived hundreds of years after him to become a saint, then Dominic can be a source of inspiration for all of us even and especially today.

As we read again the life of our holy founder, I hope we will rediscover how Dominic’s preaching did not only convert people to the true faith, but also how his experience of encounter and dialogue transformed him in a profound way. We recall how Dominic spent the night in dialogue with the innkeeper which resulted to the latter’s conversion. However, we know nothing about the life of the innkeeper after that encounter. But we know what happened to Dominic after that event. He left behind a promising ecclesiastical career as a canon of the cathedral of Osma, and chose to be called “Brother Dominic” (Libellus 21). Clearly, Dominic heeded the word of God we heard proclaimed today: Dominic loved the Lord with all his heart, with his entire being, and that love prompted him to faithfully follow Christ, the Preacher.

What does St. Dominic have to say to us, to the Church, to the world, as we confront the problems of indifference, clericalism, divisions, false news, hopelessness?

In a time that is marked by indifference, especially towards the suffering-other, Dominic preached misericordia veritatis, the mercy of truth. We recall that while he was a student at Palencia, Dominic stood on the frontier between life and death: he was moved with compassion for those who were suffering and dying during a severe famine, so he sold his precious books and “established a center for almsgiving where the poor could be fed”… his exemplary kindness inspired others to do the same. [1] And so, with a compassionate heart Dominic preached misericordia veritatis,” [2] the mercy of truth perfectly manifested in Christ, misericordiæ Vultus, “the face of the Father’s mercy”. [3] 

At a time when clericalism seemed to obscure the evangelical meaning of diakonia as imitation of Jesus who came “to serve and not to be served”, Dominic grounded the diakonia of preaching on fraternal communion. The charism of preaching he received propelled Dominic to remind the Church of her universal mission to preach the Gospel, that preaching is a mission, not of a few chosen ones, but of all members of the Church. It is a charism shared by all the members of the Dominican family: friars (clerics and cooperator brothers), nuns, apostolic sisters, priestly fraternity and lay Dominicans all the states of life in the Church. Thus, Dominic, who preached verbis et exemplo, opened the possibility for the manifold life and witness of disciples-missionaries and their varied works, such as the writings of Catherine of Siena, the paintings of Fra Angelico, the loving service to others of Martin de Porres, Rose of Lima, Margaret of Città di Castello, Pier Giorgio Frassati, and so many others, to be considered as important forms of preaching the Gospel. As one wise cooperator brother said: We are not an Order of homilists, but an order of preachers! –

At a time when the Church, the Body of Christ, was wounded by divisions and discord, Dominic envisioned a communitarian form of government that promotes inclusion and participation in discernment and decision-making. Chapters on various levels provide space for conversing with brothers and confronting the challenges which they face, for seeking consensus on divisive matters, for discerning the best possible ways to serve the mission of the Order at a particular moment and place, and more importantly, for mutual listening and learning, as brothers. Pope Francis affirmed that “this “synodal” process enabled the Order to adapt its life and mission to changing historical contexts while maintaining fraternal communion” (PG, 6)

At a time when error and fake news sowed confusion and misled many, Dominic sent his brothers to the emerging universities in Europe. He knew the importance of sound and solid theological formation that is based on Sacred Scripture and attentive to questions posed by the times. Such conviction has led the succeeding generation of friars to the frontier where faith meets reason as companions on the path to truth. Our brothers Thomas Aquinas and Albert the Great stood on such a frontier and found confidence in their harmony and produced an abundant harvest for the philosophical and theological heritage of the Church. The mission of the Order to preach Veritas is an important antidote to another pernicious pandemic — fake news, half-truths, which are in fact half- lies.

In these trying times where people seem to be lost in despair, St. Dominic offers us spem miram, a wonderful hope! Our song of hope commemorates the moment, more than eight hundred years ago when Dominic passed from this world, a time when the brothers had tears in their eyes — O spem miram quam dedisti mortis hora te flentibus. Dominic stirred hope in their hearts because he promised to continue to be helpful to the brothers and sisters, he vowed to intercede for us, and, therefore, to abide with us by his prayers. But this is just one side of the story. The presence of the praying brothers at the hour of his death must have also given hope to Dominic. At that final moment of human finitude, Dominic was not alone. The presence of the brothers and Dominic’s promised presence beyond death gave them hope and consolation. Ultimately, hope is grounded on the certainty that God will never abandon us. Hope is the assurance that God abides in the “mysteries of joy, sorrow, glory and light” of our lives. According to St. Paul, Hope is Christ in us (1 Col 27).

In this Basilica of St. Dominic, may we always find Spem Miram, the Wonderful Hope proclaimed by Dominic: Christ our Lord, who nourishes us in Word and in Sacrament.

[1] Jordan of Saxony, Libellus, 10.
[2] Acts of the General Chapter of Providence (2001) 107.
[3] Francis, Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy Misericordiæ Vultus (11 April 2015), 1.


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