A Heart and Mind Open to Doing God's Will
God has given us some means to know His will, which is first and foremost for us to know and love Him. From there, we can embark on discerning our particular vocation with an honest self-examination. There is no need to wait for a mystical vision of Jesus or Mary in order to possess certainty about a religious vocation.
Questions You Should Ask
As you begin, or continue your discernment, consider asking yourself:
- What gifts has God given to me?
- Which religious order's charism best complements these gifts?
When you humbly consider these questions, you can discover how best to offer yourself as a gift to the Lord and His Church. It is recommended for anyone discerning to frequent the Sacraments (especially the Eucharist and Confession), while deepening one’s own personal prayer life through spiritual reading and meditations on the mysteries of the Rosary. You may also find it helpful to confide in a spiritual director, and to contribute to the apostolic needs of your local parish or community.
How are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher? - Romans 10:14
Clerical brothers are the brothers who serve, or will serve, as priests for the Church. For the Dominican clerical brother, his two-fold identity as a consecrated religious and ministerial priest functions in perfect complementarity for the salvation of souls. After moving hearts toward the love of God through his preaching, the Dominican priest consummates and further deepens this love through the celebration of the Sacraments.
The Dominican priest is distinctive
The Dominican priest is struck by the compassion of Saint Dominic who wept asking, “Lord, what will become of poor sinners?” The Dominican priest’s life gains its spiritual energies from the regular observance and prayer, both liturgical and private, to which he has bound himself. These energies well up within him as he offers the sacrifice of the Mass day by day, commits himself to assiduous and ongoing philosophical and theological study, and thus gives his whole life in love of God for the conversion and salvation of souls.
The Dominican priest’s life is truly the life of a priest of Jesus Christ, carried out according to the motto which developed early on in the Order of Preachers: contemplare et contemplata aliis tradere. As a priest he offers sacrifice day-by-day for himself and the whole people of God, yet his priestly life is particularly shaped by "contemplating and sharing with others the fruits of contemplation."
Although most brothers in the Order of Preachers are “clerical brothers” preparing for ordination to the priesthood, there are also brothers who are called to serve the Lord in a different manner. In the early days of the Order these friars were known as frater conversus, but today they are called cooperator brothers.
The preaching mission of the Order
Called to a life of prayer and service, cooperator brothers engage in the preaching mission of the Order, not through sacramental ministry, but by preaching in a number of other ways. While the ministerial work of a cooperator brother is quite different from that of a Dominican priest, cooperator brothers make profession of the same vows as do the clerical brothers, and study and work alongside them. The life of a cooperator brother is no less rooted in study, prayer, and preaching the Word of God.
And like all Dominicans, the spiritual life of the cooperator brother is centered upon the Eucharist, the Liturgy of the Hours, and daily meditations on the Rosary. Their study is for the sake of preaching, whether that be in word (lectures, presentations, and retreats) or deed (the very witness of a holy life as a consecrated religious). Finally, cooperator brothers share in the commitment to a life in common by encouraging the brothers to remain “of one heart and mind” by growing together in virtue and caring for one another in charity.