Dominican Spirituality

What distinguishes the Dominicans from other Roman Catholic religious communities? Four specific aspects set us apart, called the Four Dominican Pillars: Prayer, Study, Community, Apostolate.


The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Divine Office, the Holy Rosary, private prayer (vocal prayer, mental prayer, and contemplation).

Dominicans center our lives on Jesus Christ, the true light, and are moved by the Holy Spirit who radiates God’s healing presence in the world today. We celebrate the Word in daily common prayer, meditation, study, and in the proclamation that is preaching. “In imitation of the Mother of God, who “pondered these things in her heart, our lives are nourished by God’s Word as spoken in Sacred Scripture, celebrated in the Eucharist, and encountered in everyday life. According to the desire of St. Dominic, the solemn and common celebration of the liturgy must be maintained among the principal duties of our vocation. In the liturgy, especially in the Eucharist, the mystery of salvation is present and at work, a mystery in which we share and which we contemplate and proclaim in preaching to others so they may be incorporated into Christ through the sacraments of faith. In the liturgy, together with Christ, we glorify God for the eternal plan of the Divine and for the wonderful order of grace. We intercede with the Father of mercies for the entire Church as well as for the needs and the salvation of the whole world. Therefore, the celebration of the liturgy is the center and heart of our whole life, whose unity especially is rooted in it. Each Dominican is called to balance in his own life the two dimensions of our life, the contemplative and the active. The balance is something for which we continually strive, not something that we achieve once and for all.


Sacred Scripture, the Lives of the Saints, Church documents, the history of the Dominican Order, etc.

St. Dominic made study an essential part of the “Sacred Preaching.” This was no small innovation in the thirteenth century when most of the clergy were uneducated. St. Dominic sent the friars to the great universities of his time to study, to preach, and to establish places of learning. This dedication to study and teaching continues today. The primary object of Dominican study is the Word of God, which comes to us through Scripture & Tradition, is interpreted authoritatively by the Church’s Magisterium, and Whose fullest manifestation is the very Person of Christ Himself.  What we might call the secondary object of Dominican study does not differ in content from the Truth Who is Christ, but it differs in its mode of discovery.  Insofar as creation, the accomplishments of human genius and even other religions all reflect the light of the Gospel, these too are profitable means though which the wise and zealous student can come to know more profoundly the Author of all that exists.  Hence, both the entire created order as well as “the revelation of the mystery kept secret for long ages but now manifested through the prophetic writings” lie open to the discerning mind of the studious friar. The purpose of Dominican study is to make us useful to the souls of our neighbors.  As distinct from mere curiosity, it is a spiritual work of mercy aimed at facilitating a more effective communication of the truth that saves.  While knowledge can certainly be sought for its own sake, study is all the more noble and virtuous when one is motivated by the dual command of love of God and love of neighbor.


Living a sacramental life in the Church, living in community in our monthly gatherings, special events, etc.

We live together in large (as many as 30) and small (as few as 2 or 3) communities. The basic idea of community is not just people living together under one roof. Rather, community living is about the willingness to share our lives with one another. For Dominicans, the communal dimension of our religious life challenges to us to be of “one mind and one heart in God.” Profession into the Order of Preachers includes the promise to hold all things in common. We live together and pray together and share a common vision in the ministry of Preaching. It was St. Dominic’s desire to imitate the apostolic poverty of Jesus and the early church, so “we call nothing our own.” As Dominicans, we share our blessings with the rest of the world. We live a vowed life, that is, we make public promises to live according to the ideals counseled by Jesus. Our vow of poverty calls us to live a simple life, free from the need to possess many things. Our vow of chastity is a deliberate choice on our part not to limit our life to a spouse and family, but to allow ourselves to be witnesses to the unlimited love of God. Our vow of obedience puts us at the service of the Church, free from the need to always have the last word about what we will do and where we will live. The vowed life is a challenge, but an exciting and fulfilling challenge.

Apostolate / Preaching

Preaching through evangelization, catechesis, teaching, serving, etc. 

As the “O.P.” after our name suggests, preaching is at the heart of Dominican life.  In fact, we were founded to be “useful to the souls of others,” and we make ourselves useful primarily through our ministry to the Word of God.   Our common life, our study and our prayer are all geared to support the vocation of a preacher.  For us preaching takes many forms.  We preach from the pulpit during liturgy and at retreats, but we also consider our teaching and various kinds of pastoral care to be ways in which we bring the healing Word of God to bear on the lives of those we serve.  Our preaching ministry takes us to parishes, university campuses,  retreat centers and sometimes even to food pantries, shelters for the homeless and other places where people are impoverished literally as well as spiritually.

Dominican Spirituality: Principles and Practice by William Aquinas Hinnebusch, OP is an excellent resource for understanding Dominican spirituality. He lays out a basic understanding of the Dominican charisms, namely that Dominican life is contemplative, apostolic, liturgical, doctrinal, fraternal, and sacrificial.

Saint Dominic integrated “the assiduous study of divine truths” with monastic observances as the structure of the Order in addition to the solemn celebration of the Divine Office and the religious vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Lay Dominicans live out the charisms of the Order by incorporating the Four Pillars into their regular life.

The Dominican Order also has a special love for and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, especially under her title of Our Lady of the Rosary.

Dominican Mottos:


Contemplare et Contemplata Aliis Tradere
To contemplate and to hand on the fruit of contemplation

Laudare, Benedicere, Praedicare
To Praise, To Bless, To Preach

If this sounds like you, perhaps you are being called to the family of St. Dominic!

Additional resources on Dominican Spirituality:

The Dominican Soul by M.M. Philipon, OP

Dominican Principles of Spirituality by Pie Regamey, O.P.

Formation Process


Getting to know one another: Above all else, this first step allows the candidate to get to know the Order better. This step is normally conducted through our regular meetings. We will help the candidate discern whether or not he or she is made for Dominican life. If there is a positive response at the end of this step, the candidate will be invited to proceed to the next step.

Inquiry Period: One must be Catholic for at least two years before beginning the inquiry period. Through a series of classes over the course of one year, our group presents an overview of what it means to be a Dominican. As this period of formation ends, the candidate may decide to request admission to the Order.

Novitiate: The duration of the novitiate is twelve months. The novitiate begins with the Dominican Order recognizing the candidate as a member of the Order. This is a more formal formation period in the life of a fraternity member. This period includes diverse activities: the study of the life of St. Dominic and other great Dominican figures; the study of the Constitutions, the history of the Order, and the Rule of the Fraternities of St. Dominic; and the general practice of the commitments of a lay Dominican (e.g., daily Mass, Morning and Evening Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours, daily Rosary).

Simple Profession: As the novitiate ends, candidates and the Order make a decision as to whether the candidate should make a commitment as a lay Dominican. Temporary profession is a commitment to live according to the Rule of the Fraternities of St. Dominic for a period of three years. Formation in Dominican life and spirituality continues during this time. At the end of this period, the candidate and the Order decide if the candidate is prepared to make final or permanent profession.

Final Profession: When the decision is reached to move ahead and make final profession, the individual makes a commitment to live according to the Rule of the Fraternities of St. Dominic for the rest of his or her life.

On-going Formation: Dominicans are particularly committed to on-going formation both in the chapter and individually. Even though one has made a permanent commitment to be a Dominican, on-going study continues in the area of Dominican spirituality, the Scriptures, the teachings of the Church, etc. Dominicans are always concerned about growing in understanding of both their faith and their Dominican vocation.



Class 1: Introduction to the Dominican Order

Class 2: The Life of St. Dominic de Guzman

Class 3: The History & Purpose of the Divine Office (Liturgy of the Hours)

Class 4: Introduction to The Four Dominican Pillars: Prayer & Study

Class 5: Introduction to The Four Dominican Pillars: Community & Apostolate

Class 6: The Vocation & Role of the Dominican Laity

Class 7: The Charisms of the Dominican Order

Class 8: The Dominican Way of Life

Class 9: Traditions & Symbols of the Dominican Order


Class 1: History of the Dominican Order

Class 2: The Dominican Approach to Prayer

Class 3: The Dominican Approach to Sacred Scripture & Sacred Tradition

Class 4: The Dominican Approach to Study & Preaching

Class 5: The Dominican Approach to Community & Apostolate

Class 6: Vocation & Role of the Dominican Laity

Class 7: The Means of Growth in the Spiritual Life

Class 8: The Three Stages of the Spiritual Life

Class 9: The Spirituality of St. Catherine of Siena


We are currently studying the Letters of St. Catherine of Siena with Fr. Kauth


Our Rule of Life

The Dominican Laity originated in its present form with the promulgation of the first Rule under Munio de Zamora, Master of the Order in 1285. The spiritual origin of the Laity resided within the penitential movements associated with Saint Dominic, who gathered around himself groups of Laity for apostolic work and spiritual and material defense of the Church. The Laity has existed (under various names) as long as the Dominican Order itself, and has always performed specific functions and collaborated closely with the other branches of the Dominican Family.

>> Lay Dominican Rule & Directory (Southern Province, 2016)

Ten Benefits of being a Lay Dominican During Life:

1. You become a full member of the Dominican Family as a lay member of a major Religious Order
2. You enjoy a privileged place in the church
3. You have St. Dominic for your Father and all the Dominican saints for your brothers and sisters
4. You share in the prayers, penances and good works of Dominicans throughout the world
5. You gain plenary indulgences, under the usual conditions, making a promise of faithfully fulfilling the duties of one’s vocation; on the day of admission and on the day of profession, on the feasts of Christmas, Easter, Our Lady of the Rosary, St. Dominic, St. Catherine of Siena, Annunciation, and Assumption
6. You benefit from the formation conferences
7. You enjoy the society of fervent lay folk
8. In sickness and sorrow you have the support of special chapter prayers
9. Due to the influences of the Liturgy, the Sacraments, and adherence to the Rule, you avoid occasions of sin and rise promptly when you fall
10. These spiritual benefits are perpetual with the Order

Six Consolations at Death:

1. Your daily rosaries are an efficacious preparation for death
2. On the day you die, if you wear the scapular, or spread it on your bed, you gain a plenary indulgence under the usual conditions
3. You may if you desire, be buried with the full Dominican habit
4. The Chapter will assist at the funeral rites
5. Your soul benefits from the Masses, prayers, and penances of all Dominicans long after your relatives and friends have forgotten you
6. In Heaven, you will enjoy your special relationship with all the Dominican saints and elect in glory

The next logical question to ask is: What must I do to gain all these benefits? (please remember that these items are not binding under sin). To fulfill the obligation of daily prayer a tertiary should pray the Liturgical Office and five decades of the Rosary.

Monthly Obligations:

1. Confession at least once a month
2. Participation at the meetings of the Chapter

Yearly Obligations:

To assist at or have celebrated three Masses for all Dominicans living and deceased
Fasting on the vigil of the feasts of St. Dominic, St. Catherine of Siena and the Holy Rosary insofar as this may be possible.

Daily Obligations to Consider:

1. The recitation of the Divine Office (morning and evening prayer)
2. One Our Father, Hail Mary, and Eternal rest for all Dominicans living and deceased
3. Fifteen minutes of mental prayer or reading of the Sacred Scriptures which may replace the recitation of the Office
4. Masses and Communion daily, if possible is recommended

Practices Recommended for Spiritual Growth

1. Annual retreat of three days, or single days of recollection
2. Abstinence on all Fridays of the year, or some special penance
3. Modesty in dress, recreation and avoidance of worldliness
4. Personal apostolate of good works, prayer, or suffering
5. Involvement in the objectives of Vatican II (and the four priorities of the Order


– from Fr. Rubba, O.P.