St. Dominic: The Intercessor
St. Dominic: The Intercessor
We often remember the last words of the people at their deathbed. If they happen to be our near and dear ones the words will always linger in our heart. I still remember the last words of my dad at his deathbed. With his tear-filled eyes, he told me, “My dear son, you have to become a priest.” We still remember the classical words of the great men and women in history at their deathbed, like: Leonardo Da Vinci, the great Italian artist, at his deathbed said, “I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have.” St. John Bosco, the founder of the Salesians, said at his deathbed, “Love each other as brothers. Do good to all and evil to none. Tell my boys that I wait for all in Paradise.” St. John Paul II, remembered for his charismatic nature, before his death said, “Let me go to the house of the Father.” Mother Teresa, the saint of the gutter, said, “Jesus I love you; Jesus I love you.” Jesus, while hanging on the Cross before he breathed his last, said, “It is finished.”
In “Life of the Brethren” the last moments of St. Dominic is beautifully described: All the brethren came around Dominic; they said the breviary prayer, sang the Salve Regina and all the brethren were in tears. Dominic consoling the brethren said, “My little children, do not weep. I will be more helpful in heaven than on earth.” These were the last words of St. Dominic to the crying brethren at his deathbed. Now the question is: How can a person be more useful to others after death? It is only through intercessory prayer.
Intercession comes from the Latin word “intercedo” meaning ‘to come between’ or ‘to mediate’. Intercession is a form of representative prayer where we represent other people or their situations before God. St. Dominic is a great intercessor of the Order and Church at large. So does the Novena to St. Dominic begin highlighting the intercessory aspect of St. Dominic. It begins: “O wonderful hope which you gave to those who wept for you at the hour of your death promising that after your departure you will be helpful to your brethren.” It also highlights St. Dominic praying for our temporal needs and the daily progress in our spiritual needs.
It is not only after his death that St. Dominic has been interceding but during his lifetime too, he always interceded for others, specially the sinners for the salvation of their souls. He used to spend the whole night in the chapel praying for the conversion of Albigensian heretics and doing penance on their behalf. He used to cry loud in prayer: “Lord have mercy! What will become of sinners?”
Now the question is: Why did St. Dominic intercede for others? The answers would be:
1). Intercession actually works or benefits others: St. Dominic was convinced of the fact that intercessory prayer has power and so he interceded for others. St. Paul too firmly believed in the power of the intercessory prayer and that’s why he always asked for the prayers of the communities (cf. 2 Cor. 1:11; Col. 4:3-4). In the Gospels too we find people, placing their trust in the intercessory prayer, praying for others; be the centurion praying for his servant (cf. Lk. 7:12) or the people who brought a paralytic laying on the bed to Jesus (cf. Mt. 8:6; Lk. 5: 18).
2). Jesus intercedes for us and teaches us to follow his example: St. Dominic was well aware that “Christ Jesus who died, who was raised who is at the right hand of God always intercedes for us” (Rom. 8:34) and he expects us to follow his example (cf. Jn. 13:15). Jesus always prayed on behalf of other people. In the high priestly prayer (Jn. 17), he not only prays for his disciples but for all of us too and asks us to do what he has done and St. Dominic perfectly followed the example of his Master.
3). When we pray for others it enhances our love for them: St. Dominic knew that when we pray for others, it softens our hearts for them, we remember their needs and start loving them. This is precisely why Jesus links loving our enemies with praying for them, saying, “Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you” (Mt. 5:44).
Thus, St. Dominic always interceded for others and he teaches us to do the same. So, let us get into the shoes of the other and intercede for them. If we do not have the habit of praying for others, let us earnestly pray like the disciples, “Lord, teach us pray” (Lk. 11:1).