09 June 2009

Friendship of Francis and Dominic

I love this story--our holy Father Dominic and our Seraphic Father Francis as mutual companions in the pilgrim journey of the Church in the world.

Tradition has it that St. Dominic and St. Francis of Assisi met each other in Rome in 1215 while observing the deliberations of the Fourth Lateran Council. Because the Council Fathers were creating legislation governing new religious orders, the two founders were particularly interested in the outcome. According to one legend, Dominic and Francis met and fell immediately into mutual esteem for each other’s grace and charism. As a sign of their friendship in the Lord, they exchanged belts. Francis took Dominic’s leather belt, characteristic of a preaching canon, while Dominic took Francis’s rope cincture, the symbol of his poverty.

Imagine what they must have had the opportunity to discuss. The story of the meeting and friendship of Dominic and Francis has a poetic beauty to me. They exchanged rope cinture for leather belt. They esteemed one another. They were at once united, and at the same time following different paths in the religious life.

How glorious it is that the Church can provide the diversity of charisms that we have in all the different religious communities, and still also knit us together in a unified and universal faith. And examination of the eastern rites, too, reveals this mystery.

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