+JMJ+ Today is the last Monday in February and so this is Part 3 of our first Catholic Book of the Month—It Is Right and Just, by Scott Hahn and Brandon McGinley. It’s also the last post for this book (in this series, anyway). Next Monday is the first Monday of the month, so it will be time for another post in the Re-Reading the New Age series. Let’s get to it. Notes and links will be at the end of the post.
I skipped ahead today to the last chapter (I do intend to read the whole book) to write this and saw that the authors mentioned a short film, Domini Canes (or Hounds of the Lord) by Jakub Bednarz. So of course I immediately ran a web search and found it on YouTube. Do you know the story of St. Dominic and the dog? Why am I asking you this? Isn’t the book about how society needs true religion? Yes, and this is part of it, you’ll see. Go watch the film first, if you want to. It’s a short, only 4 minutes, then come back. I’ll be right here. Well, I won’t but the post will be. ;)
Video, a short film by Jakub Bednarz, Domini Canes (2016).
“Film made for the 800 years anniversary of the Dominican Order. A story based on a legend about the dream of mother of St Dominic, in which she gave birth to a dog that would set fire to the world, with a lit torch held between his teeth. Story, which later became the symbol of Saint Dominic and the dominican friars.”Quoted from the film’s description on YouTube.
You see, it’s a play on words. Domini canes, Dominicans. Hounds of the Lord. And the torch that you saw the dog carry in the film, and the light that he passed on, and then others passed on, is what helped renew the society of St. Dominic’s time and afterward. St. Francis of Assisi lived about the same time as St. Dominic and together they did set the world on fire.
We are to do the same thing in our time. We can’t do exactly what they did and we are not called to. But we are called to be ourselves and let God work through us and cooperate with Him, to be salt and light to the world. In the world but not of it. If we forget that and lose our focus on who we really are, we become of the world and not just in it. And we cease being just in it, too. That’s the point of It Is Right and Just: that we cannot be right and just unless we give God His due, and allow Him to work through us. Not because HE needs it, but because WE do.
Here’s some of what Hahn and McGinley say about it in their book, about the film and about how it applies to us.
“The scene transitions to a close-up of a habited hound, which transforms origami-style into a white cathedral. Other buildings surround the church, and the torchlights begin to appear again: first in the church doorway, then in its windows, then in the windows of all the surrounding houses. It is, of course, the Light of Christ, spread and nurtured among the dog-monks, then to the entire community. It’s a stunning piece of art, and it brings to mind the words of Christ in the Sermon on the Mount:
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. (Matt 5:13–15)”
“We are all called to carry the torch of Christ’s grace and love—not just to light our own way but to guide others and to spread the light to them so that they might become torchbearers too. Taken together, a close group of torches gives more focused and clarifying light than the same number spread randomly. We are called in a special way, then, to evangelize those closest to us, to form communities of light “set on a hill.”
“After all, it doesn’t make sense to want sanctity for yourself but not for your spouse; for your spouse but not for your children; for your children but not for your neighborhood; for your neighborhood but not for your city; for your city but not for your nation; for your nation but not for the world. This doesn’t mean we pursue all of these in equal measure at all times—that’s impossible—but it does mean we should, and must, desire it.”It Is Right and Just: Why the Future of Civilization Depends on True Religion, Hahn and McGinley, beginning at Location 2316.
That last paragraph made me think about a conversation I had many years ago while taking a walk with a friend. I was a convert of only a few years then and could not help but talk about the Church and Catholicism, and I said I wished that everyone could be Catholic. My friend immediately accused me of being elitist. She thought I was being triumphalistic. But I really was saying I wish everyone could be Catholic. I still wish (and pray that) everyone could have the light, that’s the Light and the Joy the Truth, Goodness and Beauty that I have found in the Church. It is not available anywhere else but in CHRIST. Anyone who wants to keep that from you does not have your best interests at heart. Or, if they do, they simply don’t understand what those best interests really are or how to best serve them.
Because we were made by Him, through Him, and for Him. And our joy will not be complete, nor will our lives be, until we realize this and stop hiding our light and let it become a torch burning bright, and sharing that Living Flame of Love, unafraid, and so renewing ourselves and our families and our world.
“Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.”Quote from The Confessions, by St. Augustine.
Thank you for visiting and reading. I hope you’ll join me again. I don’t know what book we’ll look at next. Yet. Until next time, whoever and wherever you are, please stay safe and well, virtuous and holy, and most of all, become who you were meant to be: a SAINT! The world needs more saints. May the Lord bless and keep you and yours, and may His peace be always with you. +JMJ+
Bonus video: A conversation between Scott Hahn and Fr. Mark Goring about It Is Right and Just.
Notes and Links
- A conversation between Scott Hahn and Fr. Mark Goring about It Is Right and Just. Video.
- De officiis (On Duties), by Cicero (list of search results), mentioned in the text and in the video as an example of what the ancients knew even without revelation, relying on reason and knowledge of natural law, about the importance of religion in society.
Image: Saint Dominic (and his little dawg, too), by Gaspar de Crayer, from Wikimedia Commons, public domain.
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