All brothers in the Order of Preachers share a common profession of vows–the most important element of our lives as consecrated religious. But just as there are different members of one body, there are two different roles for brothers in the Order. Clerical brothers are the brothers who serve, or will serve, as priests for the Church. For the Dominican clerical brother, his two-fold identity as a consecrated religious and ministerial priest functions in perfect complementarity for the salvation of souls. After moving hearts toward the love of God through his preaching, the Dominican priest consummates and further deepens this love through the celebration of the Sacraments.
The priesthood of Christ’s Church is ordained to “nourish the people of God, fulfilling in the person of Christ the Head the functions of teaching, sanctifying, and governing” (CIC, 108).
Yet, within the mission of the Church, the Dominican priest is distinctive. The Dominican priest is struck by the compassion of Saint Dominic who wept asking, “Lord, what will become of poor sinners?” His heart is constantly reminded of the words of Saint Paul’s letter to the Romans: “How are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher?” The Dominican priest’s life gains its spiritual energies from the regular observance and prayer, both liturgical and private, to which he has bound himself. These energies well up within him as he offers the sacrifice of the Mass day by day, commits himself to assiduous and ongoing philosophical and theological study, and thus gives his whole life in love of God for the conversion and salvation of souls.
Another way to view Dominican priesthood is through the lens of contemplation. Contemplation is nourished by the regular life and all that comprises it —public chanting of the office, study, silence, penance— and this contemplation wells up into an ardent desire to transmit the wisdom of God to others by preaching and teaching. The Dominican priest’s life is truly the life of a priest of Jesus Christ, carried out according to the motto which developed early on in the Order of Preachers: contemplare et contemplata aliis tradere. As a priest he offers sacrifice day-by-day for himself and the whole people of God, yet his priestly life is particularly shaped by “contemplating and sharing with others the fruits of contemplation.”