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The Four Pillars of Dominican Spirituality

"The end of the Third Order is the sanctification of its own members by the practice of a more perfect Christian life and the promotion of the salvation of souls in a way that is suitable to the state of the faithful living in the world."
The Rule of the Lay Chapters of St. Dominic

Study

Dominicans, it has been said, can be found in two places: churches and bookstores. Dominicans study to increase their love of God and neighbor and to share the truth with greater effectiveness. Postulants, novices, and professed Dominicans follow separate courses of formation, but they also meet in a larger group to discuss common study topics. Members also study Scripture on a regular basis.

Community

To grow spiritually, it's useful to have the support of a group of Christians whom you know to be well-founded in the truth and well-formed in spirituality. Community is what gets you through the rough spots in the life of faith. Members support one another by praising God together, discussing study topics, sharing spiritual insights, encouraging one another in the Christian virtues and Dominican charisms, and praying for each other. Members of our chapter attend one formation meeting and one general meeting per month.

Prayer

This pillar is divided into two kinds, public and private. The greatest of public prayers is, of course, the Mass, and Lay Dominicans are encouraged to attend daily Mass when possible. In addition, Dominicans participate in the Liturgy of the Hours (the Divine Office, as in Morning or Evening Prayer). All members receive training in the practice and spirituality of the Liturgy of the Hours.

Chief among the devotions of private prayer is the Rosary, which St. Dominic promoted over 700 years ago. Dominicans should recite and meditate on the Rosary every day. Dominicans are also encouraged to "pray the Scriptures" using a method called Lectio Divina. Finally, Dominicans are called to contemplative prayer, a special charism of our order. The importance of personal prayer is stressed in an annual retreat. Additionally, professed members of our chapter fast every Tuesday for an intention announced by our region.

Apostolate

All of the other pillars support our apostolate. This charism is at the very heart of the Dominican order, as can be seen by its name, the Order of Preachers. Apostolate is an act of love for God and zeal for souls. In our preaching, we "share with others the fruit of our contemplation," according to St. Thomas Aquinas. Our primary vocation is bringing the Gospel truth into the marketplace, whether through pro-life action, religious education, writing, or simply living a life of exemplary holiness. (Apostolate differs, therefore, from ministry, which is directed at those who are already believers.) More formally, our chapter's apostolate consists of professed members writing one letter per month to an elected official, political organization, or media outlet to support the Church and her teaching. We also fast/abstain on Tuesdays, support a Bible study/sharing program called the Siena Cyber-Circle, sponsor a free lecture series, and maintain this website.

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