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St. Dominic & The Dominican Spirit

St. Dominic and the Dominican Spirit

Dominicans are preachers whose missions are inspired by the teachings and life of St. Dominic. Throughout the world exist Dominican communities of sisters, nuns, friars, brothers and some priests identified as Orders of Preachers (OP). Dominicans, in the spirit of St. Dominic, lead lives of study, prayer and action. Below are some reflections, writings and poems by our Racine Dominican Sisters about St. Dominic.


St. Dominic

A Reflection by S. Karen Vollmer

There’s something about our founder, St. Dominic, which is long lasting and inspiring.  Dominicans began the celebration of their 800 year jubilee in 2006 with burning desire to keep alive the passion of Dominic to praise, to bless, and to preach.  It has been aptly said that the whole of Dominic’s life was a beacon of praise, a toast to God.

Our inheritance is imbued in contemplative living.  For Dominic the resting place for contemplation was not in the temple, the monastery, or the priory but in the Gospel of Jesus.  His mission was to spread the fire of God’s love and enlighten the minds and heart of people with truth, God's abiding presence...

It has been recorded that on the feast of Mary Magdalene in 1206, Dominic had a vision which led him to found a convent at Prouille, France, gathering nine women who had been converted from heresy. These women became a powerhouse of prayer and contemplative living as Dominic and his preaching friars, with the scriptures in hand, made their way into the busy market place and in the midst of urban and university settings to speak the message of truth, justice, and peace.

Dominic was confronted by the teachings of the Albigensians. He challenged their rigorous doctrine of belief, a rebirth of Manichean dualism, the claim that there are two ruling powers in the universe, one good and one evil.  The Albigensian heresy taught that the material world is evil and created by an evil anti-God, whereas, everything spiritual was created by Good Power.  Dominic cherished creation as God’s gift to be reverenced. 

When Dominic died in 1221, the brethren buried him, sorrowfully and affectionately, and then got on with the work entrusted to them, the work of preaching.  Catherine of Siena is quoted as saying, “the voice of Dominic’s preaching is still heard today and will continue to be heard in the preaching of his followers.”

The Dominican Blessing written by an anonymous 13th century English Dominican echoes Dominic’s  voice for all times:

     May God the Father bless us,
     May God the Son heal us,
     May the Holy Spirit enlighten us and
     give us eyes to see with, ears to hear with, and
     hands to do the work of God with,
     feet to walk with, and
     a mouth to preach the word of salvation with,  
     and the angel of peace to watch over us and lead
     us at last, by our Lord’s gift, to the kingdom.    

St. Dominic through the eyes of Mother Benedicta Bauer
(excerpt from Embrace the Swelling Wave by Suzanne Noffke, OP, p130)

  • Our holy father walked as a holy vessel before God; that is, God was always present to him.
  • It was to God that he constantly raised his sights.
  • It was God he begged for help when in need; God to whom he prayed in spirit and in truth.
  • To God he dedicated his heart and mind, his thoughts and desires, his body and soul. Day and night hed kept before his eyes God's holiness, God's will, God's wisdom and leadership, God's love and promise, God's justice and honor.
  • God was the treasure of his heart; his heart was filled with this treasure and his mouth overflowed with it. He preached God in word and deed. He praised God in joy and suffering; he blessed God in life and in death.
  • God was the lawmaker whose commands he faithfully carried out.
  • God was the invisible witness of his most secret thoughts and wishes, and he kept himself pure before God.
  • God was the Father whom he admired with a childlike devotion.
  • God was the friend of his soul, and he followed God with confidence and love.
  • God was the first benefactor from whose hands he received all gifts, which he then distributed among the people.
  • God was the searching eye before whom he felt naked and exposed, without pretense or mask.
  • God was the judge and rewarder from whom he expected both judgment and bliss.
  • God was the highest model of all perfection, and [Dominic] followed that model.
  • God was the merciful God to whom he cried for mercy for himself and for others.
  • God was for him the Lord and governor of the whole world, to whose leadership he subjected himself in all his endeavors with absolute loyalty.
  • God was his first and his last. God was his everything; the one to whom he prayed—out in nature and in the house of God, outside himself and within; God was the one he praised.


Dominic, Preacher of Grace
By S. Brenda Walsh

Dominic dreamed a world

freed from war and violence,

winnowed of greed and falsehood,

mirroring truth and goodness

in every sphere of life.

Dominic preached in Spirit power,

caressed by compassion and mercy ,

visioning many grace-filled followers,

men and women of the Word,

ablaze with God’s dream.

Dominic walked the way,

reaching out to new frontiers

with steady torch of truth held high,

steeped in prayer night and day,

releasing streams of light.

An unexpected future

lies in wait for those who live

deeply rooted and formed in the Word,

watered by God’s abundant grace,

daily living Dominic’s dream.


Preachers of Grace in our time,

beaming the blessings of our faithful God"


"To Praise, to Bless, to Preach"  

What does this Dominican motto mean?

The motto came from the Founder of our Dominican Order — Dominic. From his earliest years, he practiced this motto continuously. He prayed long hours every day and often into the night.  Praising and blessing was the very foundation of his life.  He prayed while traveling and during his meetings with the people that he served. He urged his followers to make prayer and contemplation the foundation of their individual and communal living.  He believed that we must be immersed in God’s love and presence in order to be truly effective in our ministry.

Prayer gives us wisdom and will help us in our ministry by living the call to Praise, to Bless, to Preach. If we preach by the witness of our lives, nourished by prayer and praise, we will have hope for ourselves, and we will acquire the ability to continue the struggle to bring God’s peace and hope to our burdened world.  It will enable us to allow God’s healing grace to flow through us. Then with St. Paul, we can pray: “Glory be to our God whose power working in and through us, will enable us to accomplish more than we dare ask or imagine.”