— LAUDARE —
Persevering with Mary in prayer, we offer a sacrifice of praise to God and intercede for the apostolic mission of the Order and the salvation of souls.
sacramental & liturgical life
Because the ministry of the word and of the sacraments of faith is a priestly office, the Dominican Order is a clerical Order. The members of the Dominican family not ordained to Holy Orders are by no means excluded from this mission, but participate in it in a special way through the common priesthood of all the baptized. The sacraments of baptism and confirmation bestow a certain consecration on all Christians, making the Christian a living instrument of Christ, the Eternal Priest. The liturgy - that is the prayer of the Mass and the Divine Office - is a work common to Christ, and to us.
In the liturgy – the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and Divine Office – the mystery of salvation is present and at work, especially in the Eucharist, in which Christ is received, the memory of His passion is recalled, the soul is filled with grace and a pledge of future glory is given. Yet the daily celebration of the full liturgy is impossible for the majority of Christians (even for apostolic religious), and for this reason, the Church specially appoints cloistered religious to fulfill the duty of offering God a sacrifice of praise and intercession on behalf of all. Appointed for the work of divine praise, the nuns, in union with Christ, gather in liturgical prayer throughout the day to glorify God for the eternal purpose of His will and the marvelous dispensation of grace. They intercede with the Father of mercies for the universal Chhurch as well as for the needs and salvation of the whole world. This joyful celebration joins the pilgrim Church to the Church in glory.
The nuns offer a sacrifice of praise to God especially through the celebration of the liturgy in imitation of the Church in Jerusalem which was drawn together by the teaching of the Apostles and united in daily prayer. Persevering in prayer with Mary the Mother of Jesus, they ardently long for the fullness of the Holy Spirit, so that with unveiled face they may reflect the glory of the Lord and be transformed into His image from splendor to splendor by the Spirit of the Lord. Hence, the solemn celebration of the liturgy is the heart of our whole life and the chief source of its unity.
Two ways of prayer are open to the Dominican: the liturgy and silent interior converse with God. The Divine Office holds the first place amongst the duties of the nuns. It is by praying the Divine Office that the body does homage to God through bows, genuflexions and other external ceremonies; the voice sounds forth His praise and the soul contemplates the psalms and readings. Every emotion of the human heart finds expression in the Divine Office and it is suited to all. Rightly used, it is sufficient to lead the soul to contemplation, and for this reason, the founders of the old religious Orders imposed no other form of prayer upon their religious.
With regard to mental prayer - also sometimes called meditative prayer, private prayer or interior prayer - that too has been practiced by Dominicans from the beginning of the Order. This prayer was very dear to our holy Father Dominic and the first brothers and sisters of the Order. Our holy Father Dominic set the model of spending all free time in meditation and was known to speak only "to God or about God." The fifth Master of the Order, Blessed Humbert of Romans, repeatedly exhorted the novices to spend their free time in prayer and his brethren to devote their nights to silence and prayer. But is there a Dominican method of prayer? The second Master of the Order, Blessed Jordan of Saxony, was once asked what particular form of mental prayer should be used. His response admirably expressed the Dominican spirit and practice: "Neglect nothing which may lead to devotion. The best method is the one which suits you best."
Tireless in prayer, as nuns, we strive to have our hearts centered on the Lord. In addition to liturgical prayer (Mass and the Divine Office), we persevere fervently and earnestly in private prayer, which flows from and prepares for liturgical prayer. The Dominican is guided in her private communion with God by the form of prayer prescribed by the Church for her public worship. The life of Christ, the great mysteries of faith, are brought successively before her mind as the liturgical year runs its course; the divinely inspired words of Scripture are constantly and almost without effort upon her lips and in her heart. The Dominican at prayer has no fancy devotions, no complicated ideas. Like a true Dominican, she goes straight to what is most simple and fundamental, to that which being the most elementary is at the same time the highest and most doctrinal. Our Constitutions and daily horarium (monastic schedule) set aside about two hours each day for private prayer and lectio divina.
The prayer life of a Dominican is profoundly rich simply from its focus on the liturgy and scripture. But flowing from these sources, the desire to proclaim the Gospel, the reality of God-made-man for our salvation and His continual presence with us, there are certain devotions that resonate more profoundly with the Dominican spirit.