It's Sunday, so we are not observing the feast of St. Augustine of Hippo liturgically today as we usually do, but we do want to remember him in a special way.
One of the questions frequently asked by women inquiring about our life is, "What rule do you follow?" Dominican nuns, like the friars, follow the Rule of St. Augustine. In 1215, Dominic traveled to Rome to meet with Pope Innocent III concerning the foundation of a new order dedicated to preaching. The Pope was interested, but asked St. Dominic to choose an existing rule for his order (instead of writing his own). For Dominic, this was easy. He had spent most of his life following the Rule of St. Augustine as a canon of the diocese of Osma in Spain. The Dominican Order with the Rule of St. Augustine were confirmed by Pope Honorius III on December 22, 1216. A portion of this rule is read aloud at the beginning of the noon meal in our monastery. After a few years of hearing these pieces of the rule, you practically have it memorized! And it's an excellent text to keep close to your heart:
- "Let all of you then live together in oneness of mind and heart, mutually honoring God in yourselves, whose temples you have become." (n.9)
- "Charity, as it is written, 'is not self-seeking,' meaning that it places the common good before its own, not its own before the common good. So whenever you show greater concern for the common good than for your own, you may know that you are growing in charity. Thus, let the abiding virtue of charity prevail in all things..." (n.31)
- "The Lord grant that you may observe all these precepts in a spirit of charity as lovers of spiritual beauty, giving forth the good odor of Christ in the holiness of your lives; not as slaves living under the law but as women living in freedom under grace." (n.48)
"Lift up your hearts to heaven! You ask: How can I do it? What ropes are needed? What machinery, what ladders? The steps are your affections, your will is the way. You ascend by loving, by neglect you descend. If you love God you are in heaven while standing upon the earth, for the heart is not raised as the body is raised. When the body is raised it changes its place: when the heart is raised it changes its desire."--St. Augustine, Exposition on the Psalms 85.6