- The “Fundamental Constitution” stipulates as much: “Sharing the Apostles’ mission, we also follow their way of life, in the form devised by Saint Dominic (“secundum formam a Sancto Dominico conceptam”). We do our best to live of one accord the common life, observing faithfully the evangelical counsels, fervent in prayer and in the common celebration of the liturgy, especially the Eu- charist and the divine office, diligent in study and constant in regular observance (“in regulari observantia perseverantes”).17 The phrase “regular observance” refers to the everyday discipline that governs life within a Dominican priory. Some of these observances, such as the architectural shape of our convents–classically built around a monastic cloister with the principal rooms, chapel, refectory, and library, located off the inner courtyard—and the wearing of the religious habit, strike the eye of the visitor, whereas others, such as silence and a spirit of recollection, take time for some persons to notice.18 Dominicans are not monks, of course. They move around rather than commit to stability of place and they replace manual labor, such as sheep herding, jelly making, bee keeping, and so forth, with the arduous work of ongoing study, book reading, essay writing, media publishing, whatever is useful for the salvation of souls.
- Still, the theological gene that distinguishes the Dominican form of life from those religious institutes that trace their start up to the post–Tridentine period—foremost among them, I should add, rank the Jesuits—commits the Dominican to follow the pattern of life that Saint Dominic himself lived as a regular Augustinian canon in his native Spain, at the cathedral of Osma. It comes as no surprise to discover that, when the Fourth Lateran Council held in 1215 forbade the production of new religious rules and instead counseled that new foundations should adopt one of the existing and approved rules in the Church, Dominic chose the Rule of Augustine. This ancient document still binds those who make profession in the Dominican Order.