A true Dominican is first and foremost a contemplative after the example of our holy father Dominic who spoke only with God or of God during his lifetime. Motivated purely by a deep love for God and for souls, St. Dominic lived a life of fervent prayer and deep union with God while spending his day preaching for the salvation of souls. Abbot William Peter of St. Paul’s monastery in Toulouse, who knew St. Dominic, testified that he had never seen anyone pray or weep so much. His passion for souls often forced him to cry out: “O Lord, have mercy on thy people…what is to become of sinners?” In the words of St. Gregory, our holy founder truly drank the truths in contemplation which later poured out in his preaching, and he taught his children to live and act in the same way.
Hence, the primary purpose of the Order of Preachers is contemplation. This came from St. Dominic’s strong belief that only by being a contemplative can a Dominican be a zealous apostle because from the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks (Matt. 12:34). Thus, any Dominican who is not eager to become a contemplative is falling short in his or her Dominican spirit! Besides the three vows of obedience, chastity and poverty, the contemplative life of the Dominicans is safeguarded by a regular life with its monastic observances, solitude, penance, prayer, study and silence.
Needless to say, the vocation of the Order is awe-inspiring. It allows the members to achieve the two highest statutes of God’s commandments, namely, to love the Lord, our God with our whole heart, with our whole being, with our whole strength, and with our whole mind; and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Luke 10:27).
Today, as we celebrate the memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we give grateful praise to the Lord for the gift of the contemplative life given to our holy mother Church through the faithful prayer life of our brothers and sisters. May these "co-workers in the mystery of Redemption" follow faithfully in the footsteps of our Blessed Mother who is the model of the contemplative life. We also give thanks to all those who help to sustain their life of prayer and contemplation for the needs of the Church, for our world and for souls. And we pray that our merciful God will bless his Church with an abundance of vocations to the cloistered and monastic life.
* Fr. Jean Joseph Lataste O.P.
   William Hinnebusch O.P., Dominican Spirituality.