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The Dominican Life
The Dominican Life
The lives of the friars are built upon the Four Pillars of the Order: Common life, Prayer, Study, Preaching. The first three pillars direct the friar toward his own sanctification and to the glory of God. They impel the friar to preach the Gospel to his neighbor.
Following the example of the apostles and of the early Church, Dominicans live in community so that they might be “of one heart and mind” in God. (Acts 4:32) Holding all possessions in common, the friars are all committed to the work of evangelization. The roots of fraternal unity are founded in the love of God. This unity is a living example of universal reconciliation in Christ that Dominicans proclaim.
If a community is to remain true to its spirit and mission, it needs to achieve that unity through obedience. A Dominican friar imitates Christ who was united by obedience to the Father. By doing so he, like Christ, is more closely united to the Church.
The friars imitate the chaste life of Christ who for love of the Church gave himself up for her. Impelled by the vocation to preach, the friar is wholly dedicated to the Church and thus to charity for all of humanity. A life of chastity is a witness to the kingdom of God present now in the world and of the heavenly kingdom to come.
The Dominicans hold their possessions and resources in common. The spirit of poverty guides the friars to place their treasure in heaven, fostering a friar’s trust in God’s providence. In his poverty, the friar hopes to give the riches of his life to others, imitating Christ, “who for our sake became poor that by his poverty we might become rich.” (2 Cor 8:9)
St. Dominic was deeply devoted to the liturgy of the hours, private prayer, and the Eucharist whether at home or on the road, by day and by night. It was said that when St. Dominic talked he spoke only of God or to God.
It was his express desire that the community celebration of the liturgy, the Mass and divine office, be a principal duty of a friar’s vocation. The Mass is the bond of fraternal love and the primary source of apostolic vigor. A friar is also to seek divine truth, personal conversion and friendship with God in daily private prayer, whether in meditation, Eucharistic adoration, the Rosary or other forms of prayer.
From the time of its foundation, the Order of Preachers linked the activity of study to the ministry of salvation. To preach against the Cathar movement, it was necessary for the friars to be deeply versed and educated in Catholic doctrine, Scripture and the traditions of the Church.
Today, as it did in the time of St. Dominic, study enables the preacher to ponder in his heart the manifold wisdom of God and the experience of humanity on earth, and it equips him for the doctrinal service of the Church and of all people. Study is a form of prayer where divine truth can be revealed. It requires strict discipline and the application of all one’s abilities.
The object of preaching is either to cause the faith to be born or to allow it to penetrate people’s entire lives more deeply, thus building the Body of Christ which is brought to perfection by the sacraments of faith.
The Dominicans continue the mission of prophetically preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world. It is done with openness both to the Spirit of God and to the hearts of those to whom the word of God is being preached. This apostolate takes many forms: university teaching, parish ministry, foreign missions, itinerant preaching, college campus ministry, high school education, publishing, chaplaincies in hospitals, convents, prisons and the military services, media production, and many others.