“And all who believed were together and had all things in common.”
This passage from the Acts of the Apostles (2:44), which describes the life of the early Christians, also serves as the model and foundation of our life in common as Dominicans. In addition to living together in priories and convents/houses, we embrace poverty and divest ourselves of all personal belongings. But this is only part of what it means to live in community.
In his Rule, Saint Augustine states that “the chief motivation of your sharing life together is to live harmoniously in the house and to have one heart and one soul seeking God.” While it’s true that we hold everything in common, our fraternal life is not simply the sharing of possessions. We must also strive to be of one mind and heart in God. This goal is only possible when we look to the first community of persons — the Trinity. As such our fraternity is strengthened first and foremost when we come together for prayer.
This fraternity is further supported when we share the work of our brothers, and when we meet to discuss matters of importance. Learning from our elders, who pass on the wisdom and traditions of the Order of Preachers, as well as their own knowledge and experience, we discover the connection between the quality of our life and the quality of our witness to the world. These periods of common study, conversation and recreation serve as a reminder of our mission. “The brothers, of one mind through obedience, and bonded by a higher love, thanks to chastity, more closely dependent on each other, thanks to poverty, ought first of all to build in their own convent the Church of God, which by their efforts they must spread throughout the world” (LCO, 3).