Common Life and Government
The first reason we are gathered together in community is to live in harmony, having one mind and heart in God. As part of this unity, in accordance to the mind of our holy Father Dominic, the nuns have active participation in the government of the monastery.
-Constitutions of the Nuns of the Order of Preachers
The first reason for which we are gathered together in community is to live in harmony, having one mind and heart in God. This unity transcends the limits of the monastery and attains its fullness in communion with the Order and with the whole Church. The unanimity of our life, rooted in the love of God, is a living example of that reconciliation of all things in Christ which our Dominican brothers and sisters proclaim in their preaching of the word. Like the Church of the Apostles, our communion is founded, built up and made firm in the one Spirit. It is in the Spirit that we receive the Word from God the Father with one faith, contemplate Him with one heart, and praise Him with one voice. In Him we are made one body, share in the one bread, and finally hold all things in common. The nuns first build in their own monasteries the Church, which they help to spread throughout the world by offering themselves. They accomplish this by being of one mind through obedience, bound together by love of things that are above through the discipline of chastity, and more closely dependent upon one another through poverty.
According to the mind of our holy Father Dominic, it is fitting that the nuns, like the friars, should have an enlightened participation in their own government. This pertains not only to the government of each monastery through elections and the votes of chapter and council, but also to the compiling or changing of the Constitutions of the Nuns of the Order of Preachers. The communion and universality of Dominican religious life shape its government as well. The government of the Order of Preachers is noted for an organic and balanced participation of all its members for pursuing the special end of the Order. While the authority of the Order is universal in its head, namely, a general chapter and the Master of the Order, our government is communitarian in a special way, for superiors ordinarily take office through election by the chapter and confirmation by a higher superior. Further, through chapter and council, communities in many ways have a role in exercising their own government and in settling important matters.
The Nuns of the Order of Preachers live a purely contemplative life, making profession of solemn vows in autonomous monasteries with papal enclosure. The nuns form one family in Christ and all have equal canonical status. Some extern sisters may be included in the monastic family as determined by each individual monastery.
At the regular chapter, the nuns gather as sisters in charity and humility under the leadership of the prioress to give one another mutual assistance in the renewal and development of the regular life. The regular life of the community is examined in chapter. The one who presides at chapter may give a talk on the spiritual or religious life and make corrections of faults if necessary. The monastery chapter is also charged with examining and deciding matters of major importance.