THE DOMINICAN VOCATION
"To ensure that no worldly responsibilities and worries would hinder their job of preaching, they decided and decreed that they would not own properties, but would only accept revenues with which to provide for the food they needed."
Libellus of Bl. Jordan of Saxony
St Dominic and his brothers imitated the Apostles, who, without gold, silver, or money, proclaimed the kingdom of God. Conscious of the demands of the apostolate, they determined not to have possessions, but to beg for their daily bread while preaching the Gospel. This was the apostolic poverty in the beginning of the Order, and its spirit also animates us according to our own needs and times.
Hearing the Lord say, "Go sell what you have, and give to the poor, and come follow me," Dominicans are called to a life of poverty both in spirit and fact, so that while we endeavor to convert people to heavenly things and to rescue them from the domination of wealth, we ourselves may be conquerors of greed by conformity with Christ.
In our vow of poverty we promise to possess nothing by right of personal ownership, but to have all things in common and to use them under the direction of superiors for the common good of the Order and of the Church. This allows us to focus our lives toward the preaching of the Gospel, which unites us more closely with the poor to be evangelized. What donations we receive are directed toward the kingdom of God, especially for the needs of study and of the ministry of salvation, we gladly spend our resources "... enduring love will govern all matters pertaining to the fleeting necessities of life" (Rule of Augustine).
The brothers who promise chastity "for the sake of the kingdom of heaven," follow in the footsteps of St Dominic, who, for the love of God, preserved unblemished virginity throughout his life. Dominic was so inflamed with love and zeal for souls that "he received all men in a broad embrace of charity and since he loved them all, he was loved by all spending himself fully in the service of his neighbor and in compassion for the afflicted" (Jordan of Saxony, Libellus de principiis ordinis praedicatorum).
We value the profession of chastity as a special gift of grace, by which we cling to God more easily with an undivided heart, and are more intimately consecrated to Him. Moreover, imitating the virginal life of Christ, who for the love of the Church gave himself up for her, we are totally dedicated, under the impulse of our apostolic vocation, to the Church and to a fuller love of mankind.
By the practice of chastity we gradually grow in purity of heart, liberty of soul, and fervor of charity, and thus greater control of soul and body, and a fuller development of personal integrity by which we can achieve a serene and healthy relationship with all people. Furthermore, the chaste life creates an effective service and distinctive witness of the kingdom of God, present even now, and at the same time it stands as a special sign of the heavenly kingdom to come in which Christ will present his glorious Church adorned as his bride.'
From the beginning of the Order, St. Dominic required the brethren to promise him life in common and obedience. St Dominic knew that the only way for the community to remain faithful to its spirit and its mission was through the unity obtained through obedience; thus, he himself humbly submitted to the will of the brothers and to the successor of St Peter.
In our profession of vows only one vow is explicitly expressed, namely, of obedience to the Master of the Order and his successors. By this profession we imitate Christ who was always subject to the Father's will for the life of the world, and thus we are united more closely with the Church, for whose growth, together with the brethren and under the leadership of superiors representing God in their human ministry, we are dedicated to the common good of the Church and of the Order.