at the Heart of the Order of Preachers
homage to God
consists in the
dedication of the intellect
to supernatural Truth.
Humbert Clerissac, O.P.
"The light and source of our study is God, who spoke in the past in many and varied ways, and in these last days speaks to us in Christ through whom the mystery of the Father's will is fully revealed in the Church by the sending of the Holy Spirit and all minds are enlightened. The nuns are to be instructed particularly in the Sacred Scriptures, in which they can contemplate the mystery of salvation. Likewise, they should receive such instruction as will enable them to participate more deeply in the liturgy, in which that same mystery is made unceasingly present and actual. They should nourish their faith especially on the mystical teaching of the Fathers, as well as of other theologians and authors, in particular those of the Order. In the study of St. Thomas let them find their best master, whose doctrine the Church always commends and the Order has received as a patrimony."
"The methodical study of sacred truth, according to the capacity of the individual, is a fruitful preparation for lectio divina and an aid to human maturity. The blessed Dominic recommended some form of study to the first nuns as an authentic observance of the Order. It not only nourishes contemplation, but also removes the impediments which arise through ignorance and informs the practical judgment. In this way it fosters the fulfillment of the evangelical counsels with a more enlightened fidelity and encourages unanimity of mind. By its very constancy and difficulty it constitutes a form of asceticism and aids mental equilibrium."
From the Constitutions of the Nuns of the Order of Preachers
"How does the intellect provide for our deepest happiness? By giving us ultimate perspective. If you know where your true good lies, you can love that good, and in loving that good, you can remain at peace, even in the midst of the storms of life. A lot of the ways we navigate life with a deeper, more spiritual joy and rootedness is through intellectual perspective, gaining the right perspective on things. Truth can be a source of enduring happiness and peace."
Father Thomas Joseph White, O.P.
The Study of Sacred Truth
There are many ways to collect information today, but few ways to discern truth. More than ever, souls in search of God need that virtuous habit of paying attention to what is true known as study. Study holds a unique place in the Christian faith: it leads us to Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, who is Truth himself. In this mode of encounter with Christ, study is both life-giving and life-changing. That’s why it belongs at the heart of Dominican life.
The Dominican nun also belongs at this living heart. Study, for her, is an apprenticeship in holy wisdom. Its regular discipline orders her intellect and purifies her will, disposing her for the elevation of grace. As an ascetical practice, study teaches her to think and act according to the truth of things—the natural truths written into creation, history, and philosophy and the supernatural truths written into sacred scripture and tradition. Sending down her roots into doctrine divinely revealed, the Dominican nun is raised to contemplation of God.
For this reason, monastic study is never a matter of private diversion. For the Dominican nun, it is part of a public vocation within the Church and, as such, reflects the theological reality of her person: Consecrated to God, she tends toward him. Living the evangelical counsels, she enters into eternal perspectives. Studying truth, she encounters Christ.
As it has been practiced by Dominicans through the centuries—the little no less than the great—study is a natural preparation for supernatural life.
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