Why Not Be a Dominican? Print
Written by Michael Fones   
Friday, 08 August 2008 04:43
Happy Feast of St. Dominic, everyone! I had never seen this image of St. Dominic before. It's from a stole buried with one of the great early Dominicans, St. Albert the Great, the teacher and mentor of St. Thomas Aquinas. The stole depicts the "joyful friar" with a walking staff in one hand and the scriptures (possibly the Gospel of Matthew, Dominic's favorite) in the other.

The Dominican family is composed of nuns, who were first founded by St. Dominic from among women who had been convinced to leave the heresy of the Cathars in the south of France, dualists who denied the goodness of God's material creation. There are also friars, mostly ordained, but some lay, and active sisters. The largest group of Dominicans are the laity, who live as married or single men and women in the world and who are attracted to the Dominican life, which attempts to balance prayer, study, community life and active apostolate.

The Dominican website says this about the lay Dominicans: "From the beginning of the Order, men and women felt moved to help Dominic’s mission of preaching and join in as they could while still living with their families or continuing in their way of life. Already by the end of the thirteenth century, these friends of the Order and groups of lay people who resonated with Dominican spirituality were invited to become officially aggregated to the Order by adopting a Rule of Life approved by the Master of the Order and suited to their circumstances.

By adopting the Rule, lay Dominicans committed not only to living holy lives and doing works of charity, but also to being a part of the preaching mission of the Order:
They have as their vocation to radiate the presence of Christ in the midst of the peoples so that the divine message of salvation be known and accepted everywhere by the whole of humankind. (from the Rule of the Lay Fraternities of St. Dominic)
Today’s Lay Dominican Fraternities around the world are direct descendents of these early groups. In addition there are many other types of groups of lay people associated with the Order, including the International Dominican Youth Movement, with groups around the world who belong to the movement in different ways; Dominican Volunteers International, where faithful lay people join in the preaching mission of a particular Dominican community full time for a year or more, working with those who are poor or excluded; and associate programs of friends of many individual congregations of sisters, nuns and priories."

Lay Dominicans attempt to live in a very conscious way the call to all Catholics to evangelize the world in their places of work, within their families, and in their towns and cities. They receive a formation in their local chapters for this apostolate, and support one another and often work together in this mission. Why not investigate if there's a chapter in your area? If there are friars, sisters, or nuns, there may very well be lay chapters, too.