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You know what hour it is….

[Y]ou know what hour it is, how it is full time now for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed; the night is far gone, the day is at hand.

Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy.

But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Romans 13:11-14 (Reading for Lauds of the First Sunday of Advent)

All Dominican Saints

There’s All Saints’ Day, and then there’s All Dominican Saints’ Day.

Take a gander at the Litany of Saints and Blesseds of the Order of Preachers, and you can see why.

(And note the invocation of St Dominic’s contemporary and fellow reformer, St Francis of Assisi, as ‘Holy Father Francis’.)

Sanctus Martinus de Porres

St Martin de Porres
Fr Thomas McGlynn, OP, 1958, bronze
(Photo: Smithsonian Art Inventories Catalog)

Today is the feast of St Martin de Porres — a lay brother of the Order of Preachers whom we remember for his ardent piety, charity, and humility (an exemplar of the Little Way before-the-letter), for miraculous prodigies and healings, for the austerity of his life. Martin’s job in the Dominican community, as I understand it, was to attend to practical tasks like housekeeping, or caring for the sick, so that the friars could focus on preaching, with all the preparatory study and reflection — the impractical, Pieperish tasks — that entailed. So, we remember this Dominican for just about everything that makes for saintliness, short of martyrdom and other than… preaching.

‘Always distinguish’, say the philosophers, rightly. Preaching, in the most distinct sense of the word, itself requires the use of words — the combination and proclamation of words to evangelize. But in a second, less-distinct sense (itself distinct nevertheless from the first!), preaching is a catchall synonym for evangelization — and under that broad definition, the edifying acts and facts of St Martin’s life do indeed preach.

The visual arts, too, may, in the broad sense, preach. It is fitting that a painter, like Fra Angelico, should be a member of the Order of Preachers. It is likewise fitting that St Martin should have been sculpted by his much-younger brother in the Order, Thomas McGlynn, a twentieth-century friar.

I know nothing of Fr Thomas McGlynn, OP, beyond what art historian Fr Ambrose McAllister, OP, preached in a homily that Fr Pius Pietrzyk, Esq.[!], OP has posted at the website of the Dominican Eastern Province. Dealing as it does with art and evangelization, Fr McAllister’s homily on the saint and the sculptor may be of interest to the readership.

But even the best preaching is not, qua preaching, its own end. St Martin’s much-elder brother in the Order, St Thomas Aquinas, famously declared after a late-in-life mystical experience that all his own writings — all those monumental volumes upon volumes in service of the Gospel — were as ‘straw’.

St Martin de Porres, detail
(Photo: Smithsonian Art Inventories Catalog)