Many Dominicans would say that Dominican spirituality is hard to define, because we are always seeking new ways to express God’s touch in our lives. Fundamentally, the Order is defined by its preaching mission.
We find ourselves using phrases that succinctly say what is in our hearts.
To Praise, To Bless, To Preach, is a way of living life that is aware that all of creation is a gift from God, thus we give glory to God in praise. All of life is a moment when God wants to infuse us with grace, and so we bless those around us and ask God’s blessing on the world. All of life is a Word from God, so our urge is to preach it.
Seeking the Truth is another way in which Dominicans would describe our spirituality. We are seekers of light, insight and an ever deepening understanding of other people, the world around us and the action of God. The Dominican torch is a frequent symbol of that light. We might say that our vocation is rooted in a fearless search for truth. We are the flame of that truth (Veritas).
To share with others the fruits of contemplation (Contemplata aliis Tradere): Dominicans live a life that is both active contemplation and contemplative action. Like breathing in and out, we know that to be effective preachers we need both: to contemplate the Word and the world at the same time, our reflection on the world demands a clear and free response to need which brings us to action. So we act contemplatively and contemplate actively. Learn more about contemplative tradition.
Dominicans would also describe our life in terms of four pillars: prayer, study, community and ministry.
Like the famous theologian Thomas Aquinas, Dominicans are always willing to accept new understandings, even those that challenge our own opinions . . . In the 21st Century it’s more obvious than ever that truth is never complete. This is exciting and also daunting. There’s always more to know and understand and that includes understanding our own spiritual tradition. So study is a lifelong occupation for us.
Prayer is the heart of any spiritual life. Prayer is about staying connected. It is guaranteed to bring about change. Why? Everything is seen in a new light! A prayerful community helps us see everything, and everybody, that surrounds us, including what’s often overlooked as well as the obvious.
Community helps us stay connected with God. It gives us companions for praying and helps us remember what really matters – our own lives, and the life of everything else that exists on this planet.
The successor to Dominic, bro. Carlos Aspiroz Costa, says that “hands are a projection of what is in our heart.” To be sent on mission is an invitation to use heart and hands and voice to embrace and to lift up, to bless and to heal, to feed and to shelter… it is love of God expressed in love of neighbor. Thus ministry is at the heart of a Dominican vocation.
LEARN MORE about Dominican Spirituality and Tradition in an excellent series: Dominican Foundations.