The Second Vatican Council reminded us that all members of the Church are called to personal holiness. The council felt so strongly that this call included the laity that it issued Apostolicam Autuositam which is the decree on the apostolate of the laity to provide a guide to assist us in our sacred call to holiness and to the spreading of the Good News. In the Dominican Order, we learn that each person is unique and has unique gifts to share for the building up of the Church and for the glory of God. As a member of Dominic’s family, we are encouraged to seek out those gifts and put them to use.
As members of the Fraternities of St. Dominic, we make lifelong promises to live according to the spirit and rule that is established for us in the Dominican Order. We bind ourselves in obedience to the Master of the Order of Preachers. We live the charism and the mission of the order until death. In this, we become people of the Word, as exemplified in the four Pillars of the Dominican Order: prayer, study, community and apostolate.
The Four Pillars:
1. Prayer: People of the Word in Prayer
Prayer and contemplation are critical components of the Dominican vocation. It is not possible for anyone to be actively apostolic unless the union with God is close, constant and personal. Chapter life also helps us to achieve a closer union with God and grow in the spirit of prayer. From prayer springs an increase in the desire to take on apostolic work.
2. Study: People of the Word in Study
The Church calls all lay persons to become informed and involved in Jesus’ mission to make His love known to the world. In the Dominican Order, we have St. Dominic and many other saints and blesseds, who have given us examples of how to live out this call. Fraternity members share in the prayers, merits and graces of the whole order, and are given a mission from Christ to carry the faith in word and example, to be loyal to the teachings of the Church, to give help and encouragement to the weak and perhaps fallen-away Catholics. We prepare ourselves to do this by studying the fundamentals of our faith to such an extent that we become “preachers of the Word”.
3. Community: People of the Word in Community
The chapter is an authentic Dominican community, drawn together by the love of St. Dominic and the spiritual life, under the direction of the Dominican friars. As a community, we work to bring the love of Jesus to all those around us through our various separate apostolates and through a chapter apostolate that we work in common.
4. Apostolate/Mission: People of the Word in Apostolic Mission
When we become Dominicans we become part of an apostolic order. This means that we have a mission to preach the Gospel. All lay people are asked to carry the truth of their faith to those around them and to their communities by word and example. As lay Dominicans, we do this with an added spiritual dimension, as exemplified by Dominican saints who have gone before us.
Source credit: Fraternities of Saint Dominic, Province of Saint Joseph, Postulancy Module #2