Happy Feast day: St. Raymond of Penyafort OP

         As a canonist by training at the Angelicum in Rome, I can never approach this feast day of St. Raymond of Penyafort – a Canonist and Friar Preacher – without gratitude to the Dominican Friars and the education I received in Canon Law at the Angelicum. This sentiment, I know is shared by all of us who were in school in Rome at the “Ange” at about the same time.

         Looking first to the Saint’s feast day, we can find that he was born in Barcelona, Spain in 1175 and died in 1275. Following the wishes of Pope Gregory IX, he took the existing canons and legislation of the time and produced a collection of canon law that was both orderly and pastor. He was later elected General of the Dominicans. As a Dominican and as a canonist, we can find what guided him in his life with these his words: “May the God of love and peace set your hearts at rest and speed you on his journey; may he meanwhile shelter you from disturbance by others in the hidden recesses of his life, until he brings you at last into that place of complete plenitude where you will find response for every in the vision of peace, in the security of trust and in the restful enjoyment of his riches.” [Office of Readings for January 7]

       This thoughts and convictions certainly were found in the example of the Dominican Friars who taught so many of us in Canon Law in those years. Not long ago, Sr. Melanie Di Pietro S.C. and I were reflecting on our years in Rome and the opportunity it was for so many of us of many vocations [priest, consecrated religious, lay women and lay men] to study, pray and work together in the Eternal City, and to have a place where we could do that and not be pulled in different directions by the various forces which are capable of that in our culture.

         She and I were expressing our gratitude for our Dominican Canonist Professors like Father Jose Castano OP, Fr. Benito Gangoiti OP, Fr. Mark Said OP, and many others. I had heard the same expressed from my co-worker in the Tribunal in Springfield, Illinois at the time, Sr. Esther Redmann OSU (now having returned to the Lord), my good friend and now also deceased classmate Sister Ann Keevan C.S.J. of Portland, Maine, and priest classmates of the Casa Santa Maria of the North American College, now in ministry around our country in various Dioceses and Institutes.

          And I know that this is not confined to the Angelicum alone in Rome, but being St. Raymond’s feast day, I wanted to thank the Angelicum in particular! The Dominican Friars at the “Ange” certainly reflected what St. Raymond himself expressed in his letter, caring for their students, both pastorally, academically and canonically as well. They called us the “Angelicum Family.”

          At the time that we were all studying Canon Law, we always celebrated the feast day of St. Raymond. These were also the years during which there was preparation for the Revised Code of Canon Law and its Promulgation on January 25, 1983 by Pope John Paul II. I would like to close with these following few words from the Apostolic Constitution Sacrae Disciplinae Legis. They certainly reflect the life of St. Raymond, and what we learned and lived in our years of study in Rome and at the Angelicum, and how to live and minister as canonists:

“This being so, it appears sufficiently clear that the Code
is in no way intended as a substitute for faith, grace, and
the charisms in the life of the Church and of the Faithful.
On the contrary, its purpose is rather to create such an
order in the ecclesial society that, while assigning the
primacy to Faith, grace and the charisms, it is at the same
time renders easier their organic development in the life
of both the ecclesial society and of the individual persons
who belong to it.”

Saint Raymond of Penyafort, Ora Pro Nobis!
To the Dominican Friars of the “Ange” , Ad multos annos!

+Kevin W. Vann
Bishop of Orange
January 7, 2013