The Dominican Spirit-Preaching

For the followers of Saint Dominic, preaching is at the center of their lives. Their preaching and their simple living was seen as an extension of the apostolic task of Bishops and priests. This apostolic task was seen as being neglected because of the many duties of bishops and priests, and it was ripe for a renewal. In order to accomplish this task, Dominic saw the need to have well-prepared preachers. From very early on, Dominic would take his first brethren to theological lectures. Dominic also secured from the Pope a Bull to send theologians to come and teach to them in the city of Toulouse. In 1217, he sent some brothers to Paris, which was at the time the center of theological studies. His efforts produced great students, and eventually great teachers as well. In 1229, a Dominican chair of theology was established at Paris. The precise meaning of the order’s main aim of preaching has been understood in different ways. For a time, there was a discussion on whether the emphasis was to be on preaching or teaching. Sometimes preaching was understood in a narrow way: preaching in church during the liturgy. Others made the distinction that teaching appeals only to the intellect, while preaching appeals to the heart. Others observed that in time the Order took many other functions, parochial care, the running of schools, so that “Dominican work is what Dominicans do”. (Ashley 18). To clear up any confusions, we must remember that for Dominic, Christian preaching proclaims not just any human truth, but the Word of God, the Gospel of the coming of the Reign of God, already made present in Jesus Christ the Word made flesh. For Dominic, preaching wasn’t restricted to any time, place or mode. Dominic preached in Church, at Mass, private homes, in the open air, everywhere! He conversed, debated, orated. For Dominic, the Gospel was to be preached in every one; rich or poor, in whatever way it could be understood and move the hearer to conversion.

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