CONSTITUTION OF THE ORDER OF FRIARS PREACHERS
The Goals of the Order
Pope Honorius III expressed the purpose of the Order when he wrote the following to Dominic and his brethren:"God, who continually pours new life into his church, wishes to bring our times into harmony with the apostolic church and spread the Christian faith. So he has inspired you to embrace a life of poverty and discipline and thus to devote yourself to preaching the Word of God and proclaiming the name of our Lord Jesus Christ throughout the world."
From the beginning it was recognized that St. Dominic founded the Order of Preachers specifically to preach for men's salvation. Therefore, according, to the bidding of their founder, our Brethren should always
"sincerely and devotedly live like men who seek to gain their own and others' salvation-gospel men who follow the Savior, speaking always to God or about God among themselves and with others."
To increase this love of God and neighbor by the following of Christ, the religious profession which enrolls us in the Order dedicates us anew to God and to the whole Church in a life
"fully engaged in proclaiming the Word of God."
Fundamental Elements of Our Apostolic Life
Because we share in the mission of the apostles, we also follow their way of life as St. Dominic conceived it; with one soul, we live in community. We strive faithfully to live the gospel counsels as we have promised. We celebrate the Eucharist and Divine Office and continue in prayer together. We study constantly. And we persevere in the discipline of our rule of life. This not only contributes to the glory of God and our own growth in holiness, but directly serves the salvation of others. This life prepares us for preaching, and urges us to preach. It gives our preaching its special character, while preaching in turn gives its character to our religious life. The special life of our Order is formed by a synthesis of these elements so intimately connected with each other, harmoniously balanced, and mutually vivifying. In the fullest sense, this life is apostolic, since its fullness of contemplation overflows in preaching and teaching.
Prophetic and Priestly Character of our Brotherhood
We have the special prophetic function, brought to fullness in the priesthood, of assisting the bishops of the Church to announce the Gospel of Jesus Christ by word and deed throughout the world, adapting our methods to different peoples, times, and places. Thus, faith in God is stirred up and penetrates more deeply into lives of men so that the Body of Christ may be built up and completed by the Sacraments of Faith.
The structure of the Order as a religious society originates in its mission and its life as a community of brothers. Since to dispense the Word of God and the Sacraments of Faith is a priestly task, ours is a clerical religious community. But the cooperator brothers share in this mission in a variety of ways because they too in their chosen way exercise the common priesthood.
Worldwide service of the Order
Since the Order, working as a part of the whole Church has a mission to the whole world, it has a worldwide organization. The better to carry out this mission, the Order is exempt from the local Bishop and has its own unity in the Master of the Order, to whom as head of our brotherhood. we all are directly linked by our profession. Our mission of study and gospel preaching demands that every member be available for worldwide service.
Individual and Community
Everyone's sense of responsibility and personal talents should be enhanced and developed in view of the Order's mission. As his formation progresses, every brother is to be treated as a mature man, for he will teach others and take on many duties in the Order. So the Order does not wish its laws to oblige under sin. The brethren should accept these laws intelligently,
"not like slaves under the yoke but like free men bom into the family of grace. "
The better to achieve the work of the Order those in charge of a community have the power to dispense from these laws
"when they think it necessary, especially in matters which might hinder study, preaching, or the spiritual welfare of men."
The communal yet worldwide character of our religious society shapes its form of government. In this government, the outstanding feature is the organic and balanced participation of all its members in the pursuit of the goal of the Order. For the Order is not limited to the local brotherhood, although this is its basic cell, but is widened to the province as a community of communities, and to the whole Order as a community of provinces. Therefore, the full authority of the Order which is completely realized at the top in the chapter and the master of the Order, is proportionately exercised by provinces and houses each with its own autonomy. Consequently, our government is in its own special way communitarian, since for the most part, the chief officers are elected by the brethren and confirmed by an officer of a higher level. Moreover, in the conduct of important business, communities share in their own government through chapter and council.