Friday, March 19, 2010

A Note on Dominican Spirituality

Among the many questions from enquirers about the Order is: what is Dominican spirituality? And a difficult question it is to answer. However, this short reflection might help.

The heart of Dominican spirituality is the Word of God. It is in the connection between proclaiming the word and contemplating the Word that Dominican speech takes shape. Our contemplation is affected by being proclaimers of the Word of God and our proclamation is affected by our being contemplatives before the word. Therefore the Scriptures play a foundational role in our lives. The Scriptures were of of the loves of Saint Dominic. It would be difficult to know which to emphasise more as a preparation for contemplation, silence or the Scriptures. Both are very necessary. We are called upon not only to study the Scriptures, reflect on the textx of the Scriptures, but also pray with the Scriptures. Study and prayer are not opposed in the rhythm of Dominican life. They mutually nourish each other, a time for study, a time for prayer. Praying with the Scriptures, studying the Scriptures, and opening the meaning of the Scriptures for others are all part of of Dominican contemplation.

We are all preachers in varied ways. But more importantly we are Preachers. The latter says something about whether we are preachers with a small 'p' or not. Our spirituality and identity are formed by the Word. We love the Word. We share the Word. We live the Word. There are many who are not Dominicans who are preachers. The bishops are preachers. But none of them are necessarily Preachers. Preaching is the basis of our identity in the Dominican family, preaching is our mission, and preaching is one of the main sources of our spiritual direction and prayer. Contemplation then does not take us away from the world, but drws us more deeply into the heart of the world, into the anguish and despair and pain of the world as well as the hopes and joys of the world. This is true because our contemplation is so integrally related to our being Preachers and vice versa. It is the Word that achieves this integration. The Word makes us contemplative preachers and preaching contemplatives. The Word brings us to the foot of the Cross which we both contemplate and proclaim.
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