How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the one bringing good news (Isaiah 52:7).
Saint Dominic must have had beautiful feet because he allowed those feet to make him an apostle to the peripheries proclaiming Veritas, refuting error and bringing His blessings to all. Those feet were surely holy feet–pure like the virginal lily; fiery and restless like a torch by the mouth of a dog, and brilliant like a star, having instructed God’s people in goodness.
Those were courageous feet that literally ran away from wealth and comfort to reach the depths of evangelical poverty submitting everything by the feet of the Lord. Those feet, probably worn out and deformed by seemingly endless missionary travels, were certainly inspiring to behold and edifying to ponder upon. They were the feet of a missionary Brother that disturb our cold hearts and shame our dragging feet until now. When those feet were not walking for God, they stood still only for preaching and praying and studying by the feet of the Lord. When not walking for the missions, those legs bent before the feet of the Lord.
When the feet had to stop walking, they only stopped to stand in order to preach and bless. The courageous feet that knew not rest were the same beautiful feet that the Lord washed as Dominic prayed and studied. Yes, I believe Saint Dominic allowed his feet to be washed by the Lord in his solitary moments with Him. Those moments of intimate mystical foot washing by the Lord in prayer made the feet of Saint Dominic beautiful unto death and beyond his dies natalis. For prayer is not only giving God our homage; prayer is also allowing God to mold us like clay in the potter’s hands (Jer18:6); it is allowing God to wash with His waters of mercy our life and ministry tainted by original sin.
When those feet could not walk anymore and his dies natalis had dawned, he gave simple and clear instructions “Bury me under the feet of my brothers!” This holy man, whose feet were used only and always for the good news, wanted to be buried under the feet of his brothers! It was as if he said without saying, “When my feet die with my body and can no longer walk to bring the good news, it is now the turn of the brethren to use their feet to praise and to bless and to preach. Forget me but do not forget the mission.”
From the desire of being honored and extolled, praised and remembered, Saint Dominic seemed fully liberated. He was willing to be stepped on and to be forgotten under the feet of his brothers in obedience to the example of the Lord “who emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave” (Phil.2:7). Step on me; let me be the floor to lead you to the altar. Step on me; “He must increase I must decrease” (John 3:30).
To the feet of the Lord, Dominic submitted all. Through the feet of Dominic, the Lord reached the ends of the earth.
+ Socrates B. Villegas, O.P. (Priestly Fraternities of St. Dominic)
Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan
Most Rev. Socrates Villegas, currently the Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan in the Philippines, is a member of the Dominican Family, having been admitted to the Priestly Fraternities of St. Dominic on June 12, 2015, and eventually making the profession in the fraternities on June 27 of the following year. He served as president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines from 2013 to 2017. Born on September 28, 1960, he was ordained priest on October 5, 1985, and bishop on August 31, 2001.
Read other reactions to Prædicator Gratiæ: Letter of the Holy Father to the Master of the Order of Preachers for the 8th Centenary of the death of St. Dominic of Caleruega
- fr. Gerard Timoner – Prædicator Gratiæ and the Grace of Preaching in the Church
- fr. Viliam Doci – St. Dominic Between Center and Periphery
- fr. Gianni Festa – A Holiness to be Rediscovered: St. Dominic of Caleruega and the Grace of Preaching
- fr. Carlos Azpiroz – Echoes of the Letter Prædicator Gratiæ almost from the Ends of the Earth
- fr. Bruno Cadoré – In gratitude for Pope Francis’ Letter Prædicator Gratiæ
- Mr. Gabriel Silva – Perseverance in Fidelity to Our Founding Charism
- sr. Lucia Ngaba – Called to Respond to the Needs of Our Age
- sr. Rosa Lee – The Power of Contemplation
- sr. Irene Diaz – Overflowing with the Joy of the Gospel
- sr. Mary Rose Carlin – Faith and Charity, Truth and Love, Integrity and Compassion
- sr. Lioba Hill – One Soul and One Heart in God
- sr. Hyacinthe Defos du Rau – Grace and Unity