The four pillars are the way in which our life is divided; yet the life of a Dominican is not divided at all. All four of these areas must be lived in a faithful and rich way in order for the Holy Preaching to be accomplished. Living a balanced life placing proper emphasis on each area when appropriate helps us do the work that our founder Dominic and the Church have asked us to do: preach Jesus Christ!
Dominicans center our lives on Jesus Christ, the true light, and are moved by the Holy Spirit who radiates God’s healing presence in the world today. We celebrate the Word in daily common prayer, meditation, study, and in the proclamation that is preaching. Our lives are nourished by God’s Word as spoken in sacred scripture, celebrated in the Eucharist, and encountered in everyday life.
According to the desire of St. Dominic, the solemn and common celebration of the liturgy must be maintained among the principal duties of our vocation. In the liturgy, especially in the Eucharist, the mystery of salvation is present and at work, a mystery in which we share and which we contemplate and proclaim in preaching to others so that they may be incorporated into Christ through the sacraments of faith. In the liturgy, together with Christ, we glorify God for the eternal plan of the divine will and for the wonderful order of grace, and we intercede with the Father of mercies for the entire Church as well as for the needs and the salvation of the whole world. Therefore, the celebration of the liturgy is the center and heart of our whole life, whose unity especially is rooted in it.
Each Dominican is called to balance in his own life the two dimensions of our life, the contemplative and the active. The balance is something for which we strive, it is not something that we achieve once and for all.
We live together in large (as many as 30) and small (as few as 2 or 3) communities. The basic idea of community is not just people living together under one roof. Rather, community living is about the willingness to share our lives with one another.
For Dominicans, the communal dimension of our religious life challenges to us to be of “one mind and one heart in God.” Profession into the Order of Preachers includes the promise to hold all things in common. We live together and pray together and share a common vision in the ministry of Preaching. It was St. Dominic’s desire to imitate the apostolic poverty of Jesus and the early church, so “we call nothing our own.” As Dominicans, we share our blessings with the rest of the world.
We live a vowed life, that is, we make public promises to live according to the ideals counseled by Jesus. Our vow of poverty calls us to live a simple life, free from the need to possess many things. Our vow of chastity is a deliberate choice on our part not to limit our life to a spouse and family, but to allow ourselves to be witnesses to the unlimited love of God. Our vow of obedience puts us at the service of the Church, free from the need to always have the last word about what we will do and where we will live. The vowed life is a challenge, but an exciting and fulfilling challenge.
St. Dominic made study an essential part of the “Sacred Preaching.” This was no small innovation in the thirteenth century when most of the clergy were uneducated. St. Dominic sent the friars to the universities to study, to preach, and to establish places of learning. The dedication to study and teaching continues today. The Dominican emphasis on study opens our hearts and minds more fully to the human condition today, continues to build on a rich history and tradition and has its ultimate effect on our preaching and teaching.
As Dominican Friars, we continue the work of St. Dominic today in an active and contemplative life. Our mission includes preaching, teaching, and works of social justice in a variety of settings: campus ministry, parishes, high schools, colleges, universities, and retreats. We are involved in full-time itinerant preaching, health care as chaplains and ethicists, and in the arts. In our outreach to the poor we work for truth, justice, and peace in today’s society though our parishes, campus ministries, and involvement in the local and universal church.