THE DOMINICAN LAITY INFORMATION BOOKLET composed/written by two members of our Chapter circa 1990 by the MOTHER OF GOD CHAPTER West Springfield, MA 01089 U.S.A.
1. What does the term "Lay Dominican" mean?
* a. The term "Lay Dominican" refers to lay members of the Dominican Order of Preachers. They are lay people who are members of the Dominican Order and, as such, share in the spirituality and mission of the Order in accordance with their state of life as lay people. b. The Dominican family consists of the following groups of people: Dominican priests and brothers who live as religious in community . Cloistered Dominican nuns . Lay Dominicans. Fraternities of secular priests. Religious sisters who live in community and are engaged in various apostolic works.
2. What do these various branches of the Dominican family have in common?
All branches of the Dominican family share the same spirit and goals. Each group strives to grow in relationship to Christ through a deep prayer life, study, and some form of community. In addition, each contributes to the mission of the Dominican Order (official title: "Order of Preachers") which is the spreading of the Word of God. These goals are met by all members of the Dominican family in ways that are appropriate to their various states in life.
3. Do the terms "Lay Dominica", "Dominican Laity" and "Third Order" refer to the same reality?
All three terms refer to the same reality as far as lay people are concerned. The terms "First Order" (religious priests and brothers), "Second Order" (Nuns), and "Third Order" were formerly used to indicate the various groups withing the Dominican Family. These terms have now been officially abandoned by the Dominican Order. In fact, the terms, First, Second and Third Orders did not indicate more or lesser importance but different "ways" of living out the Dominican calling. The Third Order of lay people was a third "way" for living out the Dominican commitment. Today we speak of Dominican Laity or Lay Dominicans since it avoids the tendency of some to think of a Third Order as a "watered down" way of living the Dominican life. It also seems to stress the role the laity plays in the Dominican Order more effectively. It is important to note here that lay members of the Dominican Order follow a way of life going back more than 700 years and id closely associated to the Dominican religious priests, brothers and nuns under the leadership of the Master General of the dominicans. The Third Order Sisters are of a relatively more recent development.
Although associated to the Dominican family they have their independent leadership.
4. Are members of the Dominican Laity religious?
No. Although they are members of a religious order and make a public commitment to the Dominican Order, they are not "religious" as defined in the Church's canon law. They remain lay persons and do not become "mini-religious".
5. Is there any difference between becoming a Lay Dominican and joining other religious groups? There are many groups in the Church devoted to various pious practices and apostolic works. Many of these are highly regarded by the Church. A group such as the Lay Dominicans is different, however, in that it is geared to the way a person lives out the whole of his life rather than the adoption of certain specific practices. Members of the Lay Dominicans have a rule of life approved by the Church and they attempt to live out their total Christian life in light of their commitment to the Dominican Order of which they are a member. A few other orders, such as the Franciscans, have similar lay membership.
6. What personal qualities are required for admission to the Dominican
a. A strong practice of the Catholic faith and sound moral character.
b. Desire for a deep relationship with God nurtured through prayer both private and liturgical.
c. Stability of character and perseverance in following the Dominican Laity rule.
d. A desire to deepen one's understanding of the Catholic faith and one's prayer life through learning and study.
e. A real involvement in spreading the Word of God through apostolic work according to one's abilities.
f. A willingness to avtively join with other Lay Dominicans in prayer, work and fellowship as a member of a Lay Dominican chapter (community).
Please note: The formation program is designed to help each candidate/ member grow into this way of life by discerning how to apply the rule to one's particular circumstances. It doesn't happen overnight. Many find abilities along these lines they never thought possible. A real desire to work at these goals is the essential ingredient.
7. How do I find out if the Lay Dominicans are for me?
The Dominican Laity formation program begins with an inquiry phase called the Postulancy program. This allows any prospective candidate to get a feel for the Lay Dominican way of life before being received into the Order as a novice (new member).
FORMATION AS A LAY DOMINICAN
Purpose of Formation To become a Lay Dominican is to accept a call to live life in the spirit of the Dominican Order and participate in the goals and mission of the Order. The Church approves the rule which Lay Dominicans promise to follow when they make their "profession" in the Order. The time of formation leading up to when an individual makes a permanent profession or commitment as a Lay Dominican is a time set aside for two purposes:
1) To get to know more deeply what commitment to the Dominican life entails and to begin to live in a Dominican way.
2) To discern if this kind of life is for the individual involved. As one learns more about the Order and oneself, a person has to honestly determine if this kind of life is appropriate for himself or herself. This discernment can lead to final profession (commitment) or a decision to stop the process at any point along the way. What is important is the decision be the right one for the person. Someone who did not take the next step in the formation process would, of coarse, no longer belong to the Lay Dominicans. Stages of Formation/Formation Classes: Inquiry (Postulancy) Period: Through a series of classes ranging normally from about six to twelve months, we present an overview of what it means to be a Dominican. As this period of formation ends an individual may decide to request admission to the Order. Temporary Profession Classes: As Novitiate ends individuals make a decision as to whether they want to make a commitment (profession) as a Lay Dominican. Temporary profession is a commitment to live according to the Lay Dominican rule for a period of three years. Formation in Dominican life/spirituality continues during this time. At the end of this period the individual decides if he/she wants to make final or permanent profession. If more time is needed temporary profession can renewed for an additional year. When a person decides to go ahead and make final profession he/she makes a commitment to live according to the Lay Dominican rule for the rest of his/her life. On-going Formation: Dominicans are particularly committed to ongoing 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 teaching of the Church, etc. A Dominican is always concerned about growing in understanding of both his faith and Dominican commitment.
Formation Materials: Class material used in the formation process are prepared by the Provincial Formation Council which is composed of representatives of Lay Dominican chapters throughout the Northeastern region of the United States. What is expected of candidates with regard to the formation classes? Faithful attendance of all classes. If someone cannot attend a particular class he/she should speak to the formation director of that class.
The director will indicate how to make up a missed lesson. Although people have to miss classes at times because of personal or family obligations faithful attendance is important. Attendance is considered when deciding on a candidates eligibility to take further steps into the Lay Dominicans. Infrequent or irregular attendance would be taken as a lack of genuine interest or commitment. Class materials is read ahead of time but there are no exams, etc. All we ask people to do is to read the assigned materials, participate in class discussions. WE are not training theologians, so relax and enjoy?
CHAPTER ACTIVITIES Monthly Meetings: Regualar meetings of the Mother of God Chapter normally take place on the second Sunday of the month from September through June. Exceptions to this schedule are announced at both meetings and in the Chapter newsletter. Meeting Schedule: 12:30 p.m. - Recitation of the Rosary 1:00 p.m. - Liturgy of the Hours 1:10 p.m. - Liturgy of the Eucharist 2:00 p.m. - Formation classes 3:15 p.m. - Chapter business meeting followed by Social Hour Special Chapter Events: *Annual retreat. *Day of Renewal in place of one Chapter meeting. *Fall Holiday Crafts & Tag Sale to raise funds for Dominican Missions, etc. *Reception of new members to the Dominican Order as well as temporary and final professions.
*Day of Study *Day of prayer and Adoration of Blessed Sacrament.
*Other activities are sponsored during the year and vary from year to year.
THIRD ORDER PREACHERS BENEFITS
Benefits 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 the prayers, penances and good works of Dominicans throughout the world.
5.)You gain plenary and partial indulgences, under the usual conditions, as listed in Appendix II of the Rule Book.
6. You benefit from spiritual conferences on the interior life.
7.) You enjoy the society of fervent layfolk.
8.) In sickness and sorrow you have the support of special Chapter prayers.
9.) Due to the influence of the liturgy, the sacraments, and adherence to the Rule, you avoid the occasions of sin and rise promptly when you fall.
10.) The above spiritual benefits are perpetual within the Order.
CONSOLATION 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 in the full Dominican habit. (This permission is not granted during lifetime without permission of the local Ordinary.)
4.) The Chapter will assist at the obsequies.
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.
To fulfill the obligation of daily prayer, a tertiary should pray a liturgical Office and five decades of the rosary.
1.) The recitation of the Divine Office (new version highly recommended), or a short version of it; or the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin; or any other little Office; or 15 decades of the rosary; or five decades of the rosary if one is impeded from doing more.
2.) One Our Father, Hail Mary, and Eternal rest, etc. for all Dominicans living and deceased.
3.) 15 minutes of mental prayer, or reading of the Sacred Scriptures which may replace the recitation of the Office.
4.) Mass and Communion daily, if possible, are recommended.
1.) Confession at least once.
2.) Participation at the meetings of the Chapter.
1.) To assist at, or have celebrated, three Masses for all Dominicans living and deceased.
2.) Fasting on the vigil of the feasts of St. Dominic, St. Catherine of Siena, and the Holy Rosary, insofar as this may be possible.
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.