As we begin the great season of Lent, the Master of the Order, fr. Gerard Timoner, OP, has issued a Lenten message asking us to continue to offer our prayer, fasting, and almsgiving for peace where there is war, unrest, and persecution, particularly for Ukraine, and to remember that we are part of a global Dominican Family. He also invites us to pray the Litany of Dominican Saints at least once a week until the First Week of Easter.
In addition, the Polish Dominican friars are working to provide assistance to Ukrainian friars and refugees. If you’d like to donate, you can donate funds through the Western Dominican Province, who will then transfer the funds to the Polish Dominican Province. You can help by clicking here: https://opwest.org/ukraine
Grace to you and Peace, – Mr. Alan Phipps, OP – Lay Provincial Secretary, Province of St. Martin de Porres
Anyone taking a look at the Dominican Order will eventually come across the fact that St. Dominic adopted as his first Rule the Rule of St. Augustine. Upon Dominic’s petition to Pope Innocent III in 1213 to form an order, he was given the condition that he must follow one of the decrees of the recently completed Fourth Lateran Council, to wit, no religious order was allowed to create a new rule of life for itself. St. Dominic would have to adopt an existing order. He chose the Rule of St. Augustine.
Why this Rule? It was one of the oldest and most venerable rules in existence even at that time. It is short and adaptable. Dominic had been living under this rule as a Canon Regular, so it was familiar. The rule is challenging yet merciful. And it begins with the Greatest Commandment.
The Rule of Saint Augustine
Before all things, dearly beloved brothers, love God and then your neighbor, because these were the first commandments given to us.
1. Here are the rules we lay down for your observance, once you have been admitted to the monastery. 2. The chief motivation for your sharing life together is to live harmoniously in the house and to have one heart and one soul seeking God. 3. Do not call anything your own; possess everything in common. Your superior ought to provide each of you with food and clothing, not on an equal basis to all, because all do not enjoy the same health, but to each one in proportion to his need. For you read in the Acts of the Apostles: ‘They possessed everything in common’, and ‘distribution was made to each in proportion to each one’s need.’ 4. Those who owned anything in the world should freely consent to possess everything in common in the monastery. 5. Those who had nothing should not seek in the monastery possessions which were beyond their reach outside. Allowance should be made for their frailty, however, on the basis of individual need, even if previous poverty never permitted them to satisfy those needs. But they should not consider their present good fortune to consist in the possession of food and clothing which were beyond their means elsewhere. 6. Nor should they put their nose in the air because they associate with people they did not dare approach in the world. Instead they should lift up their heart, and not pursue hollow worldly concerns. Monasteries should not provide advantage for the rich to the disadvantage of the poor. Such would be the case if the rich become humble and the poor become proud. 7. But on the other hand, those who enjoyed some measure of worldly success ought not to belittle their brothers who come to this holy society from a condition of poverty. They should endeavour to boast about the fellowship of poor brothers, rather than the social standing of rich relations. They are not to think well of themselves if they have contributed to the common life from their wealth. Sharing their possessions with the monastery ought not to become a greater source of pride than if they enjoyed these goods in the world. As a matter of fact, every other vice produces evil deeds with a view to doing evil, but pride sets a trap for good deeds as well with a view to destroying them. What benefit is there in giving generously to the poor and becoming poor oneself, if the pitiful soul is more inclined to pride by rejecting riches than by possessing them? 8. Live then, all of you, in harmony and concord; honour God mutually in each other; you have become His temples.
1. Be assiduous in prayer at the scheduled hours and times. 2. No one has any business in the prayer-room apart from the particular purpose which it serves; that is why it is called the oratory. Consequently, if some wish to pray even outside the scheduled periods, during their free time, they should not be deterred by people who think they have some other task there. 3. When you pray to God in psalms and hymns, the words you speak should be alive in your hearts. 4. Keep to the prescribed text when you sing; avoid texts which are not suited for singing.
1. To the extent that your health allows, subdue your flesh by fasting and abstinence from food and drink. If anyone is unable to fast, let him at least take no food between meals, unless he is sick. 2. Listen to the customary reading from the beginning to the end of the meal without commotion or arguments. Food is not for the mouth alone; your ears also should hunger for the Word of God. 3. No one is to be annoyed, nor should it seem to be unjust, when a special diet is provided for brothers whose health has been adversely affected by their former status in life. A different background endows some people with greater physical strength. These should not consider others fortunate because they see concessions granted to their brothers and not to themselves. Let them be thankful rather that they have the strength to endure what others cannot. 4. If food, clothes, a mattress, or blankets are given to those who come to the monastery from a more comfortable manner of life, the more robust individuals, to whom such things are not given and who are on this account more fortunate, ought to recall how much affluent people have altered their lifestyle in order to embrace the present one, even though the frugality practised by the stronger brothers continues to elude them. No one should desire the extras given to a few, more out of tolerance than out of deference. Deplorable disorder would occur, if the monastery provided a setting, to the extent that it is possible, where the wealthy become workers, while the poor become pampered. 5. Sick people necessarily take less food so as not to aggravate their condition. During convalescence they are to receive such care as will quickly restore their health, even if they come from the lowest level of poverty in the world. Recent illness has afflicted them with the same frailty which the wealthy possess from their previous manner of life. When sick people have fully recovered, they should return to their happier ways, which are all the more fitting for God’s servants to the extent that they have fewer needs. Food formerly necessary to remedy their illness should not become a pleasure which enslaves them. They should consider themselves richer since they are now more robust in putting up with privations. For it is better to need less than to have more.
l. Do not allow your clothing to attract attention; seek to please not by the clothes you wear, but by the life you live. 2. Whenever you leave the house, go together; wherever you are going, stay together. 3. In your walk, posture, all external comportment, do nothing to offend anyone who sees you. Act in a manner worthy of your holy profession. 4. When you see a woman, do not fix your eyes on her or any woman. You are not forbidden to see women when you are out of the house. It is wrong, however, to desire women or to wish them to desire you. Lust for women is mutually stimulated not only by tender touches but by sight as well. Make no claim to a pure mind when your eyes are impure; an impure eye is the herald of an impure heart. Unchaste hearts reveal themselves by exchanging glances even without any words; people yield to lust as they delight in their passion for each other. Chastity takes to its heels, even though their bodies remain unsullied by unchaste actions. 5. The man who directs his attention towards a woman and enjoys her similar token of affection should not think others fail to notice this mutual exchange. He is certainly observed even by persons he thinks do not see him. But if his actions escape the notice of men and women, what will he do about the One who keeps watch on high, from whom nothing can be hidden? Is God therefore blind, because he looks on with patience proportionate to his wisdom? The holy man should fear to displease God, lest he desire to please a woman sinfully. So as not to look upon a woman in a sinful manner, let him bear in mind that God sees everything. Fear of the Lord is recommended in this matter too where we read in the Scriptures: ‘The Lord abhors a covetous eye.’ 6. Mutually safeguard your purity, when you are together in church or wherever women are present. God, who dwells in you, will protect you in his way too by your mutual vigilance. 7. If you notice in any of your number this roving eye referred to above, immediately admonish the individual and correct the matter as soon as possible, in order to curb its progress. 8. If, after this warning, you observe him doing the same thing again or at any other time, whoever happens to discover this must report the offender, as if he were now a wounded person in need of healing. But first, one or two others should be told so that the witness of two or three may lend greater weight and the delinquent thus be convicted and punished with appropriate severity. Do not consider yourselves unkind when you point out such faults. Quite the contrary, are not without fault yourselves when you permit your brothers to perish because of your silence. Were you to point out their misdeeds, correction would at least be possible. If your brother had a bodily wound which he wished to conceal for fear of surgery, would not your silence be cruel and your disclosure merciful? Your obligation to reveal the matter is, therefore, all the greater in order to stem the more harmful infection in the heart. 9. If he neglects to mend his ways after such admonition, he should first be reported to the superior, before his behaviour is revealed to others, whose task it is to expose his failing in the event of his denial, so that his misconduct may not somehow be withheld from the others, after he has been corrected privately. But if he denies the charge, then the others are to be summoned without his knowledge so that he can be accused in the presence of all, not by a single witness but by two or three. When convicted, he must submit to the salutary punishment determined by the judgement of the superior, or even that of the priest whose authority embraces such matters. If he refuses to submit to punishment, even if he is determined not to leave, expel him from your society. Even this is not an act of cruelty but of mercy: to prevent the contagion of his life from infecting more people. 10. Diligently and faithfully, then, attend to my words about suggestive glances at women. Such advice holds also for detection, prevention, disclosure, proof, and punishment of other offences, with love for the person and hatred for the sin. 11. Whenever anyone has gone so far in misconduct as to receive secretly from any woman letters or small gifts of any kind, if he confesses the matter freely, pardon him and pray for him. If, however, he is detected and proved guilty, he is to be rather severely corrected according to the judgement of the priest or the superior.
1. Keep your clothes in one place under the care of one or two, or as many people as may be needed to air them out and prevent damage from moths. Just as a single storeroom furnishes your food, so a single wardrobe should supply your clothing. Pay as little attention as possible to the clothes you receive as the season requires. Whether each of you receives what he had turned in or what was worn by someone else is of little concern, so long as no one is denied what he needs. If arguments and grumbling occur among you, and someone complains that he has received worse clothing than previously and that it is beneath his dignity to be dressed in clothes which another brother was wearing, you thereby demonstrate to yourselves how deficient you are in the holy and interior clothing of the heart, arguing as you do about clothes for the body. Even though one caters to your weakness and you receive the same clothing, you are to keep the clothes you are not wearing at the present time in one place under common supervision. 2. In this way, let no one work for himself alone; all your work shall be for the common purpose, with greater zeal and more concentrated effort than if each one worked for his private purpose. The Scriptures tell us: ‘Love is not self-seeking.’ We understand this to mean: the common good takes precedence over the individual good, the individual good yields to the common good. Here again, you will know the extent of your progress as you enlarge your concern for the common interest instead of your own private interest; enduring love will govern all matters pertaining to the fleeting necessities of life. 3. Consequently, whenever anyone brings anything to sons or relations who reside in the monastery, an article of clothing, or anything else that is considered necessary, the gift is not to be pocketed on the sly but given to the superior as common property, so that it can be given to whoever needs it. 4. The washing and cleaning of your clothes may be done in the monastery or at the laundry. The superior decides how often your clothes are to be laundered, lest an inordinate desire for clean clothes inwardly stain your soul. 5. Nor shall the body be denied proper hygienic care as standards for good health require. Do this without grumbling, following the advice of a physician. In the event a brother is unwilling to comply and the superior gives strict orders, he shall do what has to be done for his health. If a brother desires something which is harmful, he ought not to satisfy his desire. Desires are sometimes thought to be salubrious when they are really injurious. 6. Whenever a servant of God says he is not feeling well, take his word without hesitation, even though the source of the pain is not apparent. If uncertainty continues whether or not the remedy he desires would really make him better, consult a physician. 7. Whenever necessity requires a visit to the public baths or any other place, no fewer than two or three should go. When someone has to leave the house, he ought to go with companions designated by the superior, not with persons of his own choosing. 8. Care of the sick, whether the convalescent or those currently ill with any ailment, even though they are not running a temperature, shall be assigned to someone who shall personally obtain from the storeroom whatever he regards necessary for each individual. 9. Those responsible for food, clothing, or books are to serve their brothers without grumbling. 10. Books are to be requested at a definite hour each day; requests made at other times will be denied. 11. Those responsible for clothes and shoes shall promptly honour the request for either when anyone expresses the need.
1. Either have no quarrels or put an end to them as quickly as possible, lest anger grow into hatred, make timber of a splinter, and turn the soul into the soul of a murderer. Thus you read: ‘Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer.’ 2. Whoever has offended another with insults or harmful words, or even a serious accusation, must remember to right the wrong he has done at the earliest opportunity. The injured must remember to forgive without further bickering. If they have offended each other, they shall mutually forgive their offences for the sake of your prayers. The more frequent your prayers are, the sounder they ought to be. An individual who is prone to anger, yet hastens to beg forgiveness from someone he has consciously harmed, is better than another who is less inclined to anger and less likely to ask pardon. An individual who absolutely refuses to ask pardon, or does so without meaning it, is entirely out of place in the monastery, even if he is not dismissed. Spare yourselves the use of words too harsh. If they have escaped your lips, those same lips should promptly heal the wounds they have caused. Requirements of discipline may compel you to speak harsh words to correct young people. Even if you feel your criticism has been immoderate, you are not obliged to ask their pardon; too much attention to humility in their regard would undermine their ready acceptance of your authority. Instead, ask forgiveness from the Lord of all who knows how generously you love even those you may correct too harshly. Your love for one another ought to be spiritual, not carnal.
1. Obey your superior as a father, always with the respect worthy of his position, so as not to offend God in him. Be especially obedient to the priest who bears responsibility for all of you. 2. The superior has the principal task of seeing to it that all these precepts are observed. He should further provide that infractions are not carelessly overlooked but punished and corrected. He must refer matters which exceed his competence and power to the priest who has greater authority over you. 3. Your superior should regard himself to be fortunate as one who serves you in love, not as one who exercises authority over you. Accord him the first place of honour among you, but in fear before God he shall lie prostrate beneath your feet. Let him be a model of good deeds for everyone; he shall restrain the restless, cheer the fainthearted, support the weak, with patience towards all. He shall willingly embrace discipline and instill fear. While both are necessary, he shall strive, nevertheless, to be loved by you rather than feared, mindful always that he will be accountable to God for you. 4. By being obedient, you manifest more compassion not only for yourselves, but also for him, because the higher position among you is all the more perilous.
1. The Lord grant you the grace to observe these precepts with love as lovers of spiritual beauty, exuding the fragrance of Christ by the goodness of your lives; you are no longer slaves under the law, but a people living in freedom under grace. 2. These precepts should be read to you once a week, so that you will see yourselves in this little book as in a mirror and not neglect anything through forgetfulness. When you find yourselves doing what has been written here, thank the Lord, the giver of all good gifts. However, if anyone of you realizes that he has failed on a specific point, let him be sorry for the past, safeguard the future, and continue to pray for his offences to be forgiven, and that he not be led into temptation.
What is a Lay Dominican? Many of us are asked
this question when people see us wearing a white scapular or pin of the
Dominican shield or cross. To quote one of the members of our Chapter, “It
isn’t a social club or bible study.
People come here to discern joining a religious order.” Then comes the
next question, “If you want to join a religious order, why don’t you become a
priest (or brother, monk, nun, or sister)?
Answering that question is a little more complicated. However, people
who discern joining the Dominican Laity are not called to religious life.
Rather, we have been called to live the life of Dominican Spirituality in our
secular lives. As our welcome to you
stated, we come from all walks of life and backgrounds. We belong to our parish and we live in the
world. We answer Christ’s call to
ongoing renewal and conversion by living our Catholic lives in the spirit of
how St. Dominic lived. We have suffrages
that we are obligated to perform, we meet regularly, study, pray, and serve the
Lord in a multitude of ways. In the ways we serve the Lord, we call this
preaching. Lectoring, leading a bible study, feeding the hungry, speaking out
for the unborn, the unloved, the unknown and being the head of our families are
all ways of preaching. There are enough
examples of how to preach to fill volumes. Living out Dominican spirituality
allows us to be better preachers and more importantly, faithful
Lay Dominicans are also governed by
the Fundamental Constitution of the Dominican Laity, and our provinces provide
a General Directory and Statutes. According to the Fundamental Constitution of
the Dominican Laity, sec. 4, “They have a distinctive character in both
their spirituality and their service to God and neighbor. As members of the Order,
they share in its apostolic mission through prayer, study and preaching
according to the state of the laity.”
Lay Dominicans come from every background, joining the Dominican charism to their state of life in the world. In this unique Dominican way, they live out their special vocation “to seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and directing them according to God’s will.”
Lumen Gentium 31
The Family of St. Dominic is large. There
are 5,742 Dominican friars, including 4,302 priests. There are 25,000 sisters
and nearly 3000 nuns. There is no general registry of Lay Dominicans. These are managed and governed by Province,
area and chapter.
The best way to introduce you to the
Dominican Family is to introduce you to us; to show you who we are, what we do,
and how we live the spirit of St. Dominic in our lives. Considering this, I could not think of any
individual better to introduce you to than Silvia T. She is the newest
perpetually promised Lay Dominican in our Chapter. I had the privilege of attending Silvia’s
Rite in October of 2018. It made a
lasting impression on me to see the joy emanating from her.
I met Silvia at the first general
meeting I attended in 2015. She has a
joy that naturally fills a room. I was
impressed by an inner peace that she exuded and was generously welcomed by her
with an enormous hug. I later had the
opportunity to sit with Silvia as I was discerning to move from inquiry to
candidacy. She mentored me in a very
special way…by sharing of herself humbly. She was a bit flummoxed when I asked
her to sit with me and chat again. After
a bit of prayer, she agreed to a conversation. I’ve outlined it here and hope
that her example of how she lives out her vocation as a Lay Dominican will help
you in your discernment of vocation and Christian life.
Well…here we are…
ST:Laughs. Yea, what are we doing again?
RJ: I don’t know. Let’s just talk and see what
happens. I’ve been scouring the internet
looking at different Dominican websites.
They are all beautiful and have a lot of historical content, information
about our Order, the Saints, the pillars of Dominican spirituality and
more. I think that is great. Somehow
though, I want people who come to our website to encounter us. I want to show what it means to be a Lay
Dominican and a member of our religious order.
ST: laughs again And you want to start with me? Why on earth…
Yes. I have never seen a more joyous
occasion then when you made your perpetual promises to live by the spirituality
of St. Dominic.
was. I spent 5 years as a temporarily
promised Lay Dominican. The Rite of
Perpetual Promise was one of the happiest days ever. I am very grateful to our Lord for leading me
to the Dominican Laity.
I always like to ask the question if someone is a cradle, convert, or reverted
Catholic. It seems like when I asked you
that question when we sat down a couple of years ago, you said something along
the lines of “I am being continuously converted.” Is that correct?
Yes, it is. The Lord has always been
patient and loving with me. There are
things that He led me to that impacted me years later in ways I would not have
anticipated. I experienced renewal during a Marriage Encounter weekend. I like to call myself a retreat junkie.
(laughs) It wasn’t always like that. I
used to be scared that I wasn’t worthy, and I was quite pushy as a person. The Lord, however, was calling me to a life
of obedience. The retreats helped with all of that. I learned that I was worthy. That the Lord, was calling me…ME, to serve
Him, with the gifts that He gave me. In
order to better use those gifts, I had to seek His will, and be willing to be patient.
I remember I was working in San
Antonio, and I was up for a possible promotion.
A coworker was also a candidate for this. We both had to give a presentation in order
to be considered for the promotion. She
had been given materials and an outline, I was not. I was going to have to wing
it. I was very nervous and worried that
I wasn’t worthy of this promotion. Prior
to giving our presentations I offered to pray with my coworker, she was nervous
too. She declined saying she didn’t want to. I persisted and said let’s just
say the Lord’s Prayer together. She still wouldn’t. I prayed alone and just asked God for the gift
to be able to speak. My coworker
stumbled a lot during her presentation. My
presentation showed them my potential. Not only was she offered the promotion;
but, I was too! I had done a good job
and though I wasn’t considered an optimal candidate at the beginning, I got the
promotion. It was the Lord’s help that
got me that promotion. It also prepared
me later for preaching! That was more than a decade before I encountered the
Order of Preachers of St. Dominic. God
is so patient.
Amen to that. You mentioned you are a retreat junkie?
Oh, yes. I attended the Marriage Encounter
weekend and that led to another type of retreat that I was able to not only
attend but help facilitate. It is called Christ Renews His Parish (CRHP). That
also led me to ACTS retreats and others as well. It eventually led me to the idea of joining a
Have you discerned with other religious orders?
Yes, I discerned with the Carmelites for a while. Their spirituality is
beautiful and it focuses a lot on contemplation. I didn’t feel called to the
Carmelite Spirituality though. There
were Lay Dominicans in my parish in Atlanta that invited me to come and
see. I should have known that this would
have been a good fit. My confirmation
saint is Catherine of Siena. I also
claim St. Thomas Aquinas as one of my patron saints. Hindsight is always 20/20. There was an immediate feeling of peace when
I encountered the Lay Dominicans in Atlanta.
I knew I was at home. I am so
grateful to the Lord for loving me and calling me to live the spirituality of
St. Dominic. It isn’t always easy. Serving the Lord is rewarding though.
So, let me back track a little bit. You
attended CRHP in 2007. You are almost 70.
Most of the time, when someone is approaching 60 they know what they
want to be when they grow up….
loudest laughing known to man. Yea, I’m
a little slow. But that is ok. Roy, I was always so afraid. I masked it by always having to be
right. The Lord slowly removed that from
me. The retreats helped. When I first talked at a retreat, I was so
afraid that I wouldn’t have anything in common with people. I was a short Hispanic from the barrio in San
Antonio. How would all these white women relate to me? (laughs). I was in adoration, shaking and crying. I
prayed again for the Lord to give me the gift to speak. And you know, what- He
did! The relationships that I made with
those women was important. When I was
sick I had a community of friends, sisters we call each other, to help take
care of me. When I had cancer, they
removed my kidney. These women helped me
in every way imaginable. One of those
white ladies came and cleaned out my cabinets.
It was humbling for me. I knew
she was very successful. Heck… She had a
walk-in refrigerator. Yet here she was,
cleaning my cabinets. God is so good,
Roy. I am so grateful for Him.
You mentioned that you had cancer…
I have cancer now. I had a kidney
removed about 12 years ago. Later I had a lumpectomy because I had breast
cancer. I had my adrenal gland removed a few years later because it was
cancerous. These were all different types of cancer. None were related to each
other. My breast cancer returned, and I had
to have my right breast removed. Soon
after, I learned that the cancer I had, had spread to the bone. I take medicine now to keep the cancer from
spreading. It works but has side
effects. We don’t know how long it will
work for, but I am happy that it works today.
I am not sure I could muster a tenth of the gratitude and joy you have, if I
had cancer five times.
The bouts of cancer have taught me to always to trust in the Lord. My life is in His hands. I am here because
there are things, he still wants me to do.
I am still called to live my faith. The cancer doesn’t allow me an
excuse to stop. I have cancer, and you
know what? God still calls me to step
outside my comfort zone. He leads me in
His own gentle way to do the things that He wills.
I know your mobility is a bit more limited, and you use a scooter to get
around. Can you share a little bit about
how you live out Dominican spirituality now?
My children don’t currently practice our faith.
I don’t preach at them. I don’t stop being Catholic though. When my kids were younger, we would go to a
Posada at Christmas. My daughter
expressed interest in going this last year and she took my granddaughter. I must remember to be patient. I like to be
pushy, remember. I must trust the Lord
and be obedient that His will shall be worked in the lives of my children and
grandchildren. I gave my daughter a
crucifix. She asked why, and I told her that she knows what the crucifix is and
what it means. I heard her explain it to
my granddaughter. I pray for them every
You mentioned that your praying for the gift to be able to speak is connected
to your preaching today and Dominican Spirituality…
Yes! Here in our retirement community, I
help deliver communion to those who cannot get out. We also have a spirituality group that meets
once a month. I lead that group. There is always a topic for discussion. We also pray with the Gospel reading for the following
Sunday. I often go to The Preacher Exchange and use Fr. Jude
Siciliano’s First Impressions as a guide to the
Our group also put together a food
drive for Lent. We donated food to the
N. Texas area Food Bank. We were so
successful that the management for our retirement community was shocked that we
filled the space to overflowing for the food drive. We had to end it early because we ran out of
I continually focus on what the Lord
is calling me to do. That is my focus every day.
RJ: I think that your actions and how you live
the Spirit of St. Dominic is a powerful witness to the power of God in your
life. What do you want to do next?
Even though my mobility is limited some. I would still love to go on 1 last
pilgrimage to Rome. It is the getting there that is difficult. The long plane rides are not good for
I would also like to see my children come
back to the faith. I love them so
much. To see them embrace our faith,
would bring me great joy. I want them to
know the faith and know what it has done for me, and what being a lay Dominican
has done for me. I must let go and let
God handle the details of that. The Lord
has been so merciful, kind, patient and gentle with me. I also believe that He is with my children as
well. I think that is what St. Faustina
meant when she said, “Jesus, I trust in You!”
One last question/comment. You talk
about gratitude a lot. What are you grateful for?
I am grateful that the Lord has heard my prayers and blessed me with gifts that
I get to share with others. I am grateful for St. Dominic, Dominican
Spirituality, and the Order that welcomes the laity to a place within the
Order. I am grateful for the life affirming purpose that He has given me to
preach the Good News.