Blogs » J.Q. Tomanek of Victoria » The Most Holy Week of the Year

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has started. Holy Week is an intense week. It begins with the raising and cheering with palm branches, the entrance of the King into Jerusalem riding on a donkey. The donkey with its amazing personified virtues carries its Creator to the city in which He will take His crown and purple garments. Although it had been 33 years or so prior, the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh must have gone through the mind of His Mother. The gold, a gift for kings, would take a special meaning as He is being proclaimed such. The frankincense, a symbol of priestship, as His offering of Himself draws closer by the day. And finally, myrrh is a symbol of His Death. The threefold mission of priest, prophet, and king are all witnessed inside this most holy week.

The donkey, one of my favorite biblical animals, is a most humble creature. It was St. Dominic’s mom that had a dream while pregnant with Dominic of a dog carrying a torch in which she understood that her son was to take the Word of God and set the world on fire for Him. Her son’s chosen name, Dominic, will eventually take on two meanings. “Dominic” comes from the Latin “dominus” which means “the Lord’s possession” and Dante called St. Dominic, “God’s holy athlete.” The secondary meaning from later in his life also comes from the Latin phrase “Domini canis,” or the dogs of God. The play on words is seen more clearly with the word “Dominicans.”

It is not the dog of God that is my favorite though. It is the donkey. The animals “are humble, hard-working, persevering — stubborn! — and faithful, with a sure step, tough and — if they have a good master — also grateful and obedient.” All wonderful virtues for Catholic lay people to strive for in secular world.

The saints are wonderful images of living life fully; often times the mistake is made to think saints are unfun, never smile, and abhor a good time. The contrary is perhaps more evident. Chesterton says that of all the qualities of Christ, the most hidden was his mirth because it was simply “too great for God to show us.” One of my favorite quotes by my favorite saint is “On its own the donkey would only... make an ass of itself” which goes to show the humorous side of a 20th century saint.

But how can I combine the dog and donkey? I have no need to be creative. It has already been accomplished and is typically pronounced during Twelvetide. As the Twelve Days end, the following day we see those three gifts mentioned before presented to the Infant Child. So where is this donkey canine? See below.