The Order of Preachers “is known to have been established, from the beginning, for preaching and the salvation of souls” (Primitive Constitutions). The Fundamental Constitution of the Order of Preachers underscores the priority of this apostolate. The five distinctive elements comprising the uniquely Dominican way of life “together prepare and impel us to preach; they give our preaching its character.”
By their religious profession, Dominicans become “fully committed to preaching the Word of God in its totality” so that they live “an apostolic life in the full sense of the word, from which preaching and teaching ought to issue from an abundance of contemplation.”
So many people live the anguish of the centurion of the Gospels who begs Jesus Christ: “Only say the word, and my servant will be healed” (Mt 8:8). Dominicans preach to give that Word of healing to the world. In a letter to Saint Dominic and his brothers, Pope Honorius III wrote, “He who never ceases to make his Church fruitful through new offspring…inspired you with a holy desire to…commit yourselves to the proclamation of the Word of God.” Dominicans preach because we burn with this desire. The purpose of Dominican preaching is to generate others: “The object of our preaching is either to cause the faith to be born, or to allow it to penetrate people’s entire lives more deeply” (Fundamental Constitutions). More than a message, Dominicans preach the person and event of Jesus Christ: the Incarnate Son of God whose voice we can still hear, whose face we can still see, whose Passion is still saving us, and whose heart calls us to a transforming encounter. That is the veritas—the Truth—of Dominican preaching. The great Dominican preacher Saint Vincent Ferrer (+1419) urged preachers, “Let people find in you a father full of compassion for his children.
Dominicans preach the Word of God in every possible way including liturgical preaching, parish missions, retreat preaching, occasional lectures, addresses at religious conferences, street preaching, teaching, writing (especially books), through art (especially film, television, and theatre), and by exploiting the advantages offered by the Internet and other advances of the digital age, without ever sacrificing the indispensable role of personal presence by which communication becomes true communion. Dominican Blessed Humbert of Romans sums up all of this in his famous 13th century Treatise on Preaching: “How necessary is the office of preaching without which the human heart would not rise to the hope of heaven.”
by Peter John Cameron, O.P.