The Dominican Order
This is a beautiful, beautiful way to Holiness Pope Francis ‘Rejoice!’ p.45
Some of us are called to belong to The Order of Preachers which is a communion of men and women in the Catholic Church, who live out the gospel message by proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ. Our Order was founded C13th and is still going strong today. We are called 'Dominicans', after our founder, St. Dominic.
Over the centuries many have felt the call to follow Christ within the Dominican tradition of devotion to Truth. They have lived the Dominican charism, which is ‘to contemplate, and to pass on to others the fruits of contemplation’ in a variety of ways, as priests, as male and female religious of various kinds, and as laity.
Each branch of this ‘Dominican family’ has its own character, special status, and autonomy, but each group, participating in the charism of St Dominic, shares the vocation of preaching.
The four pillars of Dominican life, in some form are common to every way of living the Dominican Charism.
- Common Life (living together)
- Prayer and Liturgy
- The Apostolate - Preaching the Word of God
St. Dominic founded the Dominican Order in response to a crisis in the Church, caused by the increasing numbers of Albigensians, who denied the goodness of the material universe. Over against this, and other forms of ‘dualism’ Domincans have always been called to preach the goodness of God and all that He has made.
Dominican friars are not monks enclosed in a monastery but are called to go out into the world to preach the Gospel. At the same time the brothers recite the Prayer of the Church (The Office) in common daily. For Dominicans preaching is integral to the life of prayer, and prayer is essential to the work of preaching.
Since the Dominican Order is ‘a clerical order,’ the friars are mostly priests, who serve the people in Word and Sacrament. However there are also ‘co-operator brothers’, who take the same vows and are equal members the Order. Their vocation is centered in the universal call to holiness and their mission within that call is to bring themselves and others into an intimate relationship with Jesus.
Dominican Friars preach in churches, universities, hospitals, chaplaincies, schools, and prisons, on the streets and in the media, to those in trouble and distress, and to those locked in complacent ignorance of the Word of God – in fact they are called to preach wherever there is a need. A Dominican Friar should go the extra mile to seek the lost, comfort the sorrowful, and bring the healing of the sacraments to the people of God.
THE APOSTOLIC SISTERS
Fired with zeal for the preaching mission of the Dominican Order, many women throughout the history of the Order have responded to God’s call to follow the apostolic charism of St Dominic, and in time this has led to the foundation of the various Congregations of Dominican sisters. Unlike the nuns, Dominican Sisters are not under the direct jurisdiction of the Master, and they are not enclosed. They are however recognised as an integral part of the Dominican family. They perform a variety of tasks in and for the Church, in parish work, and missionary outreach, and they are also able and willing to preach the gospel in the world, in places and situations that the brothers cannot reach. Responding to the needs of their own times and places, women have joined together in communities as Dominican sisters for prayer, study, common life, and announcing the good news of God’s tenderness and compassion through a variety of apostolates, in education; in ministering to people who are sick or who are mentally or physically handicapped; in evangelization; in serving the poor, those in prison, refugees and immigrants, children and young people. In this country there is a special need for the service of consecrated, educated women who are devoted to the Church and well-formed in the knowledge of the Faith.
There are numerous Congregations of Dominican Sisters: for a full list, and information about their slightly differing charisms, visit the Dominican Sisters International website: http://www.dsiop.org/
The following Congregations have their mother houses in England:
The Dominican Sisters of St Catherine of Siena Newcastle Natal, South Africa: Contact: Sr. Anne Cunningham, Rosary Priory, 93 Elstree Road, Bushey Heath, Bushey, Hertfordshire, WD23 4EEe-mail: http://dominicansisters.co.uk/
St Dominic founded a house for religious women at Prouille before the formal existence of any other part of the Order, and the nuns have remained under the direct jurisdiction of the Master of the Order ever since.
Unlike other parts of the Dominican family, the nuns, or the ‘second Order’ live the Dominican charism as enclosed Contemplatives. Thus from the earliest days of the Order the ‘Holy preaching’ has been lived by the friars externally, supported and underpinned by the prayer and sacrifice of the nuns. ‘The contemplative life of the nuns is ordered to the apostolate which the Dominican family exercises as a whole,’ and is in miniature an affirmation of participation in the mystical Body of Christ.
This vocation of the nuns places them at the heart of the Order. Their particular charism is lived out through the monastic life, study, prayer and the celebration of the Divine liturgy. In this way they are empowered to answer the Lord’s calling to ‘give themselves entirely to Him in contemplative life, so that through prayer and union with Him they may bring the knowledge of His love to the whole world.’
They support themselves by manual work or other work consistent with the vocation of an enclosed religious. Their constitutions invite them “to bear the death of Jesus in body and soul’ that they may ‘merit the glory of the resurrection’ for themselves and others” For the nuns, contemplative life demands that they reach out in prayer without boundary to the whole of humanity, and that they ‘embark on a journey into a bottomless abyss – which is nothing other than the abyss of communion with the Holy Trinity.’ (Quotations from The challenge of holding both aspects (i.e. the hidden life and outreach to the world) in creative tension Sr. M Breda OP)
From the beginning of St Dominic’s preaching, men and women have wanted to share in the mission of preaching as part of the Order, while still living with their families or continuing in their secular engagements. At the end of C13th groups of lay people who wanted to share in the Dominican spirituality were invited to become officially associated with the Order, and to have a rule approved by the Master of the Order appropriate to their way of life. Most notable among the ‘Mantellate’ as they were called, was the great St Catherine of Siena.
Today the Lay Dominican Fraternities are the direct inheritors of the tradition of these earlier groups. They follow their own rule and constitutions, and make a vow of obedience. Usually, according to the rule, they meet on a monthly basis to pray, study and support each other in their vocation. By adopting this rule they commit themselves to live holy lives, to do works of charity, and pre-eminently to share in the preaching mission of the Order:
‘They have as their vocation to radiate the presence of Christ in the midst of the peoples so that the divine message of salvation be known and accepted everywhere by the whole of humankind.’ (from the Rule of the Lay Fraternities of St. Dominic)
For further information contact: http://www.laydominicans.org.uk/contact-us/
DOMINICAN SECULAR INSTITUTE
The movement of secular institutes arose after 1947 within the Church. In the Dominican family, members of the Secular Institute are consecrated persons who live in the world. They belong to a group, and all have made a vow of poverty chastity and obedience. The aim of their lives is to show forth the goodness of the world by their witness in living secular lives, but at the same time they are consecrated people, conformed to Christ and seeking the world to come. Members will meet several times a year, being united through prayer and a shared vocation
As well as the friars, from the earliest days of the Order there have always been diocesan priests who wanted to be a part of the mission and charism of St Dominic. Some have been bishops or even popes. Their affiliation to the Dominican family allows them to develop a charism of preaching by deepening their personal spirituality and acting as a ‘leaven of communion and apostolic generosity among their fellow clergy.’
The Dominican priestly fraternity in England began in 1996. The Veritas association is supported and guided by the prayers of the Dominican sisters at Lymington, at whose house they meet regularly to pray, study and support each other.
ASSOCIATIONS OF THE ORDER
Historically the Order is powerfully associated with the promotion of the Rosary and of devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus, and there are various associations attached to the order in this connection which are seen as fostering the renewal of Christian life in the people of God serving the spiritual welfare of the faithful and providing the Order with fellow workers in some apostolates.
INTERNATIONAL DOMINICAN YOUTH MOVEMENT (IDYM)
IDYM is ‘a movement of groups of young people who follow the teachings of Jesus Christ in the way of St. Dominic’. As the name implies, the movement is international, and the manner of following this charism will differ greatly from continent to continent. However all seek to keep Christ at the centre of their lives. This charism of preaching is lived out through using all opportunities to preach, through hospitality, mercy, friendship study, prayer, dialogue, service to others, and living together according to the values of the Gospel, trusting to the help of the Holy Spirit in the attempt to bring about a world of justice, created through faith, hope and love. At the same time, with the spirit of St Dominic they look to the future full of hope and happiness as they try to discern the movement of the Holy Spirit in their own lives.
DOMINICAN VOLUNTEERS INTERNATIONAL
This is an organization which provides the possibility of joining a Dominican community in another country as a lay volunteer.
In this way they are able to join in the preaching mission of a particular Dominican community full-time for a year or more, working with the poor, the excluded. For further information contact Dominican Volunteers International