Dominican Spirituality for the Laity

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Saint Dominic receiving the Rosary from Our Lady


Dominican Spirituality for the Laity

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Anyone who is at all familiar with spiritual literature knows that there are various schools of spirituality. We speak freely and easily of Benedictine Spirituality, Franciscan Spirituality, Carmelite Spirituality, and Ignatian Spirituality. We know also there a number of other subdivisions, such as Rhenish, French and so forth. We Dominicans may feel somewhat chargined that Dominican Spirituality is not mentioned in the same context. We may wonder if there is such a thing as a peculiarly Dominican Spirituality, and if there is, why does it not get more publicity. Perhaps the reason is that we have not defined it clearly enough and talked about it enough. We purpose here to at least define it as precisely as possible and show that our Order does have its own spirituality worthy of inclusion along with the other schools.

We must keep in mind that all of us, no matter to what school we may belong, seek to follow Christ Who is the Way. Since the riches of Christ, however, are inexhaustible, there will be different paths available for us to follow Him. They necessarily will have the same purpose --- that is, to lead us to a deeper participation in the Christian life --- and they all will use the same basic means, such as prayer, sacraments, liturgy and so forth, but they will vary according to their spirit, emphasis and practices. The best known and most popular of these schools are associated with the major religious orders. People will be drawn under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to one or another of these orders and may go so far as to join one of its branches --- as male religious, nuns, sisters or laity.

Any definition of Dominican Spirituality must encompass all branches of the Order, the friars, nuns, sisters and laity. This ideal must be common to all although each branch will have its own means for fulfilling this ideal. As the Acts of the General Chapter of Mexico in 1992 put it: Thus, as if arising from a tree planted beside living fountains, the branches of the Dominican Family are numerous. Each one has its own character, its special status, its autonomy. However, since all participate in the charism of Saint Dominic, they share the very same vocation to be preachers in the Church, discovering their mutual responsibility based on equality --- in complementarity and mutual cooperation --- and accepting the joy of giving but also of receiving and of learning from each other. The Dominican Family finds its source and sign of unity in the Master of the Order, successor of Saint Dominic. He guarantees incorporation into the family and promotes fidelity to the spirit of Saint Dominic.

The main characteristic of Dominican Spirituality is the preaching or proclamation of Divine Truth to the world. This true for all branches of the Order, laity as well as religious. This sounds so basic that we may overlook its unique quality that sets it apart from every other type of spirituality. Yet the need to proclaim Divine Truth to the world is perhaps the greatest of our time. Only Dominican Spirituality can and will fulfill that need. We should not, then, hesitate to talk about it and give it its rightful place in the various schools of spirituality.