Dominican Spirituality

Dominican Spirituality is difficult to define. Part of the difficulty lies in the fact that we are dealing with an eight-centuries old organization. Some descriptions make take on more on the character of the person doing the describing, some may only reflect the original character of the foundation, without taking into account genuine developments. A better balance may be achieved by using Vatican II’s approach of renewal as a “return to the spirit of the founder”, since this approach also emphasizes the historical developments. Fr. M. H. Vicaire describes Dominican spirituality in an objective, historical approach based on Dominic’s life and the Primitive Constitutions, grouping his observations under the motto “To speak with God and of God”: (Ashley p14)
1)With God
c)Common life (poverty).
2)Of God
a)Love for souls.
b)Mendicant Preachers.
c)Mobile soldiers of the Church (clerics).
d)Shepherds of the hungry.
e)Identification with Jesus, the goal of life.

Another good illustration of the Dominican spirituality is the one mentioned by Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange: “To give others what one has contemplated”. The best summation of the Dominican spirit I found is from their primitive Constitutions of pope Honorius III:
“Because we share in the mission of Apostles, we also follow their way of life as St. Dominic conceived it: with one mind leading a common life; faithful to the evangelical counsels; fervent in the common celebration of the liturgy; committed to a life of study and constant in religious observance. All these practices contribute not only to the glory of God and our sanctification, but are of direct assistance in the salvation of other, since they prepare and impel us to preach, they inform our preaching and are informed by it. These elements are all inter-connected; they modify and enliven one another and in their total harmony are the life of the order. In the fullest sense this is an apostolic life in which teaching and preaching ought to spring from the fullness of contemplation…”


Bibliography for Posts Series

Tugwell, Simon O.P Ed. Early Dominicans – Selected Writings.
The Classics of Western Spirituality
Ramsey: Paulist Press. 1982.

Ashley, Benedict O.P. The Dominicans. Vol. 3
Religious Order Series
Collegeville: Liturgical Press. 1990

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