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Novena to Blessed Jordan of Saxony, OP

Blessed Jordan of Saxony, the second Master General of the Order of Preachers, is known as patron of Dominican vocations because of the large number of people he attracted to the Order. Please join us in praying for vocations for the Order of Preachers that “the master of the harvest will send out laborers for his harvest.” The Church celebrates the memorial of Blessed Jordan on February 13th each year. This novena was written by Fr. Raymund Snyder, OP.

Day 1: Blessed Jordan’s Humility

Blessed Jordan, after hardly being a Dominican friar for a year, was asked to be a provincial in the province of Lombardy. He recounts it sadly:

“In 1221, at the General Chapter in Bologna, they saw fit to make me the first provincial of Lombardy, although I had only been in the order one year and had not struck root as deeply as I ought to have done. I was to be placed over others as their superior, before I had learned to govern my own imperfection.”

Bl. Jordan undoubtedly had great talent as a leader. Yet, some of this came from his very real appreciation of his own human limitations, faults and sins. This gave him the interior freedom to direct his leadership to the good of the Order of Preachers, rather than his own private good. Bl. Jordan’s fast trip towards leadership was not for him a source of pride, but rather a reason for humility, a humility that bore fruit in his faithful administration and in his reception of vocations.

 

Let us pray to Blessed Jordan for vocations for the Order of Preachers:
Blessed Jordan of Saxony, worthy successor of St. Dominic, in the early days of the Order, your example and zeal prompted many men and women to follow Christ in the white habit of Our Holy Father. As patron of Dominican vocations, continue to stimulate talented and devoted men and women to consecrate their lives to God. Through your intercession, lead to the Order of Preachers generous and sacrificing persons, willing to give themselves fervently to the apostolate of Truth. Help them to prepare themselves to be worthy of the grace of a Dominican vocation. Inspire their hearts to become learned of God, that with firm determination they might aspire to be “champions of the Faith and true lights of the world.”

Day 2: Blessed Jordan and Joyful Poverty

When the Order of Preachers was established, it was a strictly mendicant order: the friars could only obtain their basic necessities through begging. Blessed Jordan was confident that Divine Providence would provide whatever the brothers needed. An early story illustrates this profoundly:


“When Father Jordan was traveling with many brothers to the General chapter at Paris, one day he sent the brothers around a town to beg for bread for their lunch, telling them to gather back at a nearby fountain. When they brought a piece of a coarse loaf that would hardly be enough for four, the saint broke out in exultation and praise, and by word and example urged the brothers to do the same. A woman who was standing there and saw this was shocked; she said, “If you are religious men, why are you merry-making at this early hour?” When she learned that they were rejoicing in the Lord because they lacked bread and were poor, she ran home and brought them plenty of bread, wine and cheese, and recommended herself to their prayers.”

Perhaps Bl. Jordan remembered the words of St. James, “Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials” (James 1:2). Bl. Jordan showed that he was like the apostle Paul, that great preacher who said, “I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound; in any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and want” (Phil 4:12). From the beginning, St. Dominic understood that poverty was a great witness to the Gospel: men who were poor showed in their lives their total dependence on God.

 

Now, through Bl. Jordan’s intercession, let us beg God to raise up many to preach for the salvation of souls.
Blessed Jordan of Saxony, worthy successor of St. Dominic, in the early days of the Order, your example and zeal prompted many men and women to follow Christ in the white habit of Our Holy Father. As patron of Dominican vocations, continue to stimulate talented and devoted men and women to consecrate their lives to God. Through your intercession, lead to the Order of Preachers generous and sacrificing persons, willing to give themselves fervently to the apostolate of Truth. Help them to prepare themselves to be worthy of the grace of a Dominican vocation. Inspire their hearts to become learned of God, that with firm determination they might aspire to be “champions of the Faith and true lights of the world.”

Day 3: Blessed Jordan and the Weasel

While we might typically associate animals more with St. Francis, Blessed Jordan had at least one miraculous encounter with an animal. On one journey a weasel caught the eye of some of the brothers and scurried into a hole. When Bl. Jordan discovered this, he commanded the creature to come out


The Master bent down and said, “Beautiful animal, come out, so that we can look at you.” Immediately it came to the opening of the hole and fixed its eyes on him. The Master then lifted up its forefeet with his hand, and with the other petted its head and back; all this the weasel accepted. Then the Master said to it, “Now go back into your hole and may your Creator be blessed.”

God always works miracles in order to further men in sanctifying grace. But this miracle reveals that God sometimes does this by manifesting the beauty and order of creation. This event in the life of Bl. Jordan is a small foretaste of the harmony of the new creation, for which we all long. Let us cry out with the Book of Daniel, “Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord!”

 

And let us also pray to Bl. Jordan that he may win many vocations for the Order of Preachers.
Blessed Jordan of Saxony, worthy successor of St. Dominic, in the early days of the Order, your example and zeal prompted many men and women to follow Christ in the white habit of Our Holy Father. As patron of Dominican vocations, continue to stimulate talented and devoted men and women to consecrate their lives to God. Through your intercession, lead to the Order of Preachers generous and sacrificing persons, willing to give themselves fervently to the apostolate of Truth. Help them to prepare themselves to be worthy of the grace of a Dominican vocation. Inspire their hearts to become learned of God, that with firm determination they might aspire to be “champions of the Faith and true lights of the world.”

Day 4: Blessed Jordan and the Dominican Nuns

Before St. Dominic had any substantial following of men, he had already founded a monastery of nuns. The historical reasons are simple enough to understand. After saving a number of women from the heresy of the Cathars, he needed to offer them a positive alternative. As Cathars, these women lived very austere, ascetical lives. As Catholics, Dominic offered them an opportunity to be true ascetics by founding a monastery at Prouille. Dominic would later re-found St. Sixtus convent in Rome. In Bologna, he received the vows of a young woman, Diana d’Andalò, a daughter of a noble family. Sadly, St. Dominic would die before Diana was ever able to enter a Dominican monastery. Blessed Jordan, as Master of the Order, continued St. Dominic’s work. As Master of the Order he firmly established the nuns of the Order of Preachers. In our own lives, preaching ought to come forth from the fullness of contemplation. The nuns of the Order of Preachers, living a hidden life, offer a powerful efficacy to the preached Word. Here is an example of a letter which Blessed Jordan wrote to Blessed Diana at Christmas in 1223, offering consolation, and encouraging her to contemplation of the Word:


“I cannot find the time to write you the long letter your love would wish for and I would so gladly send; nonetheless I do write, I send you a very little word, the Word made little in the crib, the Word who was made flesh for us, the Word of salvation and grace, of sweetness and glory, the Word who is good and gentle, Jesus Christ and Him crucified, Christ raised up on the Cross, raised in praise to the Father’s right hand: to whom and in whom do you raise up your soul, and find there your rest unending for ever and ever. Read over this Word in your heart, turn it over in your mind, let it be sweet as honey on your lips; ponder it, dwell on it, that it may dwell with you and in you for ever.”

As Dominic friars, we are very mindful of the great part which the nuns play in the Order of Preachers. As we continue our novena to Blessed Jordan, we ask that he obtain many vocations to the Order of Preachers, and especially to our monasteries of contemplative nuns:

Blessed Jordan of Saxony, worthy successor of St. Dominic, in the early days of the Order, your example and zeal prompted many men and women to follow Christ in the white habit of Our Holy Father. As patron of Dominican vocations, continue to stimulate talented and devoted men and women to consecrate their lives to God. Through your intercession, lead to the Order of Preachers generous and sacrificing persons, willing to give themselves fervently to the apostolate of Truth. Help them to prepare themselves to be worthy of the grace of a Dominican vocation. Inspire their hearts to become learned of God, that with firm determination they might aspire to be “champions of the Faith and true lights of the world.”

Day 5: Blessed Jordan’s Vast Catch

Blessed Jordan trusted greatly that God would draw many vocations to the Order of Preachers. He trusted God so much that, in his travels, he prepared ahead of time by having habits made to receive new members into the order:


He spent much time in cities where there were schools of the Order; thus he usually spent Lent in alternate years at Paris and at Bologna. While he was there those convents were like bee hives, with many entering the Order and many transferred by him from there to other provinces. So when he came, he had many tunics made, trusting in God that he would receive new brothers. Yet often so many unexpectedly entered that habits could hardly be found. So once on the feast of the Purification the Master received twenty-one students at Paris; the scene was full of tears, the brothers weeping for joy, and the students for sadness at losing or being separated from their people. Of these many later became theology masters in different places. Among them was a young German whom the Master had several times deferred because of his young age, but this time he mixed in with the crowd and the Master thought it would be too harsh to exclude him, since there were around a thousand students in attendance. In reference to this youth he said to all with a smile, “One of you is stealing the Order from us.” When the brother in charge of habits brought out only twenty, some brothers had to surrender, one a cappa, another a tunic, another a scapular, since the one in charge of habits could find no way out of the chapter room to get more, because of the crowd of students in attendance.

Blessed Jordan exhibits a great confidence that God will give us a great catch of vocations, if only we will ask for them. With this same confidence, we ask God to supply us with many vocations through Blessed Jordan’s intercession.

Blessed Jordan of Saxony, worthy successor of St. Dominic, in the early days of the Order, your example and zeal prompted many men and women to follow Christ in the white habit of Our Holy Father. As patron of Dominican vocations, continue to stimulate talented and devoted men and women to consecrate their lives to God. Through your intercession, lead to the Order of Preachers generous and sacrificing persons, willing to give themselves fervently to the apostolate of Truth. Help them to prepare themselves to be worthy of the grace of a Dominican vocation. Inspire their hearts to become learned of God, that with firm determination they might aspire to be “champions of the Faith and true lights of the world.”

Day 6: Blessed Jordan and St. Dominic’s Relics

Blessed Jordan of Saxony sharply criticized his Dominican brothers for failing to spread abroad news of St. Dominic’s holiness. Such reticence was not modesty, but negligence. But there they were, over a decade after St. Dominic’s death, and no progress had been made. If St. Dominic was going to be canonized, as Bl. Jordan ardently wished, his body would have to be exhumed. In the Catholic mind, but especially in the medieval Catholic mind, the saint’s body was a great testimony to his holiness. The friars were afraid of what might happen. What if his body were wretched and corrupt? Might people despise the founder’s holiness? One early friar, William of Monferato recalls that, “the brethren, including the Provincial, did not want any seculars to be present, because they were afraid it would stink, since water had already seeped into that tomb.” Everyone gathered together for the solemn translation of St. Dominic’s relics. One eyewitness recounts Master Jordan’s role, and the marvelous sign which God gave at St. Dominic’s translation:


“The witness also said that he was present when the body of the blessed Dominic was moved from the tomb under the ground to the marble tomb, and he says that they broke the limestone and the very hard cement with picks and other iron instruments, and then opened the tomb, on which there was a thick, strong stone; inside they found a wooden coffin, from which a marvelous fragrance was coming. The Master of the Order took the bones and put them in a new coffin, in the presence of many of the brethren and the archbishop of Ravenna and many other bishops… The fragrance lasted for many days afterwards in the hands of those who had touched the relics.”

Many of the witnesses at the canonization relate the story of this miraculous fragrance. Friar William, as before, noted “a pleasant, sweet smell came out and none of them could decide what it smelled like.” We can thank Bl. Jordan for not hiding the holiness of St. Dominic under a bushel basket, but allowing it to shine forth, to God’s glory and to all mankind. Through Bl. Jordan’s intercession, we ask that God raise up many more men to follow St. Dominic in the Order of Preachers.

Blessed Jordan of Saxony, worthy successor of St. Dominic, in the early days of the Order, your example and zeal prompted many men and women to follow Christ in the white habit of Our Holy Father. As patron of Dominican vocations, continue to stimulate talented and devoted men and women to consecrate their lives to God. Through your intercession, lead to the Order of Preachers generous and sacrificing persons, willing to give themselves fervently to the apostolate of Truth. Help them to prepare themselves to be worthy of the grace of a Dominican vocation. Inspire their hearts to become learned of God, that with firm determination they might aspire to be “champions of the Faith and true lights of the world.”

Day 7: Blessed Jordan and the Salve Procession

From the very beginning of the Order of Preachers, if things were going badly, what would the friars do? Then, as now, there was only one choice: to fly to the Blessed Virgin Mary for help. On one particularly acute occasion, a brother was being deeply afflicted by demonic temptation. Bl. Jordan directed the brothers to fly to her aid in a new way: by invoking her help in a solemn procession after Compline.


The brothers had recourse to their singular hope, the most powerful and loving Mary, and in her honor added after Compline a solemn procession with the Salve Regina and its prayer. Immediately, the appearances fled and those who were tormented were cured. A brother who was tormented by a demon at Bologna and another brother, the son of a king, who had gone insane at Paris, were fully delivered, and from then on everything began to go well for the Order. The crowds of people, the devotion of the clergy, the sweet tears, pious sighing and wonderful visions all show how pleasing to God and his Mother is this procession. As the brothers went out of choir to the altar of the Virgin, many saw, as they told the brothers, the Virgin herself with a multitude of heavenly citizens coming from heaven above. While the brothers invoked her with the words O dulcis Maria, she would bend over likewise to bless them, and as they went away she would go back to heaven with her entourage.

The friars grasped that the Mother of God and Queen of all the Saints was a powerful protectress in their trouble and need. We have never stopped invoking her help. Even today we continue the tradition of the Salve procession. May the Blessed Virgin Mary continue to guide the Order of Preachers. May Bl. Jordan obtain for us, under the Blessed Virgin’s intercession, many vocations for the Order of Preachers. Our Lady Queen of Preachers, pray for us!

Blessed Jordan of Saxony, worthy successor of St. Dominic, in the early days of the Order, your example and zeal prompted many men and women to follow Christ in the white habit of Our Holy Father. As patron of Dominican vocations, continue to stimulate talented and devoted men and women to consecrate their lives to God. Through your intercession, lead to the Order of Preachers generous and sacrificing persons, willing to give themselves fervently to the apostolate of Truth. Help them to prepare themselves to be worthy of the grace of a Dominican vocation. Inspire their hearts to become learned of God, that with firm determination they might aspire to be “champions of the Faith and true lights of the world.”

Day 8: Blessed Jordan’s Preaching

We pray to St. Dominic as the “preacher of grace.” He received a special charism of effective preaching for the salvation of souls, and we pray to him to obtain something of that grace for us. Blessed Jordan shared in that Dominican grace of preaching in special way. The Lives of the Brethren, a text which compiles stories about the early Order, speaks of Blessed Jordan’s grace of preaching in this way:

As for the word of God and the office of preaching, Father Jordan was so pleasing and powerful that hardly anyone could be compared to him. For the Lord gave him a special prerogative and grace not only in preaching, but also in conversation, so that wherever and with whomever he was he would never be at a loss for stirring words and pointed illustrations; whatever the condition of his listeners, each one found satisfaction, and his preaching became well known. Therefore the devil was envious and tried many ways to divert him from preaching . . .

Whatever that grace of preaching was, we cannot narrowly interpret it as the grace of being especially nimble with words or rhetorically powerful, although Blessed Jordan was. Nor can we simply reduce it to being able to preach a good homily: this story recounts that Blessed Jordan had this grace in conversation as well. Although St. Paul was a rhetorical genius, he said that, “my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Cor 2:4). His true effectiveness came through being an instrument of the Holy Spirit in his preaching of the Gospel. Bl. Jordan was also able to reach his listeners through the words which were needed just for them. In our day, as ever, we also need preachers of grace to communicate the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.

 

We pray through Blessed Jordan that God will raise up many preachers of grace:
Blessed Jordan of Saxony, worthy successor of St. Dominic, in the early days of the Order, your example and zeal prompted many men and women to follow Christ in the white habit of Our Holy Father. As patron of Dominican vocations, continue to stimulate talented and devoted men and women to consecrate their lives to God. Through your intercession, lead to the Order of Preachers generous and sacrificing persons, willing to give themselves fervently to the apostolate of Truth. Help them to prepare themselves to be worthy of the grace of a Dominican vocation. Inspire their hearts to become learned of God, that with firm determination they might aspire to be “champions of the Faith and true lights of the world.”

Day 9: Blessed Jordan and St. Albert the Great

Among the hundreds of men who received the habit from Blessed Jordan of Saxony was St. Albert the Great, scientist, bishop, scholar, and teacher of St. Thomas Aquinas. While a student at Padua, Albert was considering entering the Order of Preachers, but was plagued by a fear that he would not persevere. One night he had a nightmare that seemed to confirm his fears. Gerard of Frachet recounts the story:


“One night [Albert] saw in his dreams that he had entered the Order and left after a short time. Waking up he rejoiced that he had not [yet] entered, saying in his heart: ‘Now I see that that would have happened which I feared would happen had I entered.’ Now that same day, while listening to a sermon of the Master Jordan, who, in speaking about the temptations of the devil, remarked how he subtly deceived the unwary, said: ‘There are those who propose to leave the world and enter the Order but are frightened off by the devil who suggests to them in their dreams that they will enter but not persevere . . .’ Then the young man, greatly wondering, approached him saying: ‘Master, who hath revealed my heart to thee?’ And he explained to him all his thoughts and dreams. Then the Master, having conceived a great and firm confidence in God comforted him against such temptations. Hearing these words, he was completely changed and, casting aside his fears, entered the Order. The brother himself frequently narrated this.”

This story reveals that even the “greats” struggled in discerning their vocations. Through the heavenly intercession of Blessed Jordan, may those called by the Lord to be Preachers cast aside their fears, hope confidently in God, and persevere in their holy vocation:

Blessed Jordan of Saxony, worthy successor of St. Dominic, in the early days of the Order, your example and zeal prompted many men and women to follow Christ in the white habit of Our Holy Father. As patron of Dominican vocations, continue to stimulate talented and devoted men and women to consecrate their lives to God. Through your intercession, lead to the Order of Preachers generous and sacrificing persons, willing to give themselves fervently to the apostolate of Truth. Help them to prepare themselves to be worthy of the grace of a Dominican vocation. Inspire their hearts to become learned of God, that with firm determination they might aspire to be “champions of the Faith and true lights of the world.”

Text on this page courtesy of the Province of St. Joseph

Image on this page courtesy of Fr. Lawrence Lew, OP (Flickr)