Built on the four pillars of our Dominican life – preaching, prayer, study, and community
The four pillars of Dominican life
The community and personal prayer: The biographers and witnesses of his life realize that the prayer crosses the whole of Dominic’s life. It is a constant prayer. It prays in the daytime while it goes for the ways, accompanied by his brothers or separating of them for his personal prayer. Doing silence during the accustomed hours while he keeps on traveling or singing anthems and psalms. In the communities the brothers must meet to celebrate the Eucharist and to say together the Liturgy of the Hours, adapting it to a life that will be ruled by other rhythms and missions.
St. Dominic founded his order for the purpose of the salvation of souls, therefore he precisely study an essential part of the Holy Preaching (LCO 76), he had seen that the Brothers must be well educated for the preparation preaching of the salvation of the soul because in the 13th century the clergy were not well educated. With the blessing of Pope Honorius III, St. Dominic sent friars to the great universities of his time to study and to preach in these great centers of learning. This practice continues today.
The object of Dominican study is the Word of God revealed through Scripture, Tradition, and the natural world, whose fullest manifestation is the very person of Christ himself.
Knowledge sought for its own sake is certainly a worthy pursuit, but Dominican study seeks to make us useful for the salvation of souls—ours and our neighbors—a spiritual work of mercy. The study facilitates a more effective proclamation of the truth and is motivated by the love of God and the love of neighbor.
For a Dominican, the study is the work of a lifetime. We attend to the Church’s rich teaching, individually and collectively, drawing especially from the wisdom of our own brother, St. Thomas Aquinas. His concern for reasoned argument, attention to counterarguments, and alternative viewpoints remain powerful incentives as is the crucial insight that God, in Christ, desires our knowing, trusting, and friendship. This lifetime of study finds meaning only when we share what we have learned with others.
The study, combined with prayer, strength of both heart and mind remain closely connected. We cannot love what we do not know. We grow when sustained by what we learn of God’s majesty, generosity, and mercy. Theology provides food for contemplation, the fruits of which we then communicate to others through preaching.
Domingo proposes that the brothers form communities as “fraternities” (group of brothers) organized internally with a participatory and democratic structure, establishing them in the emerging urban centers and not in the countryside, as was usual in monastic life. These fraternities are governed by a brother `prior` (= one among others) chosen by themselves and for a specified time, and not under a perpetual abbot.
It is the element that brings together the other three and gives them their own key. In 1216 Saint Dominic founded an order of brother preachers whose purpose is summarized in the words of Pope Honorius III: “God inspired you with the pious purpose of embracing poverty and professing a regular life, to consecrate yourself to the preaching of the Word of God, making the name of our Lord Jesus Christ known throughout the world”. Dominic had a great intuition in the thirteenth century: he perceived that the first step towards access to faith and the formation (or reconstruction) of the Christian community is the preaching of the Good News of Jesus.