St. Dominic, the founder of the “Order of Preachers” in the early part of the 13th Century gave his friars guiding principles which were called, “The Four Pillars.” They are the basis of all that we, even now, do in our prayer, study, life and ministry. Simply put, they are just that: Prayer – Study – Community – Ministry.
Every Dominican from the foundation of the Order in 1216 to the present must have these Four Pillars as part of his or her life and they must be observed in the order stated. First, we must have a foundation of prayer in our life. If we don’t establish a practice of prayer that is both personal and communal the other three “pillars” will collapse.
The second “pillar” study is necessary to keep us well founded in truth (the motto of Dominicans) and aware of how that truth is lived in our time – the modern world. The third “pillar,” Community is often the most difficult to live out and the easiest to avoid. Yet it is the pillar that holds all the rest together. Without community, even if I go out into the desert and sit on an isolated spot deep in prayer and study – but have no community – I can eventually convince myself of almost anything as being good and noble. Community keeps us honest even when the friars are brutally frank in assessing our stance.
If we have kept these first three “pillars” in order and followed them as best we can, there is little that needs to be said about “ministry.” Prayer keeps us focused on God. Study keeps us in the truth. Community keeps us honest. If these foundational pillars are in place, the ministry – no matter what it is – will flow out for the building up of the “people of God” and the “salvation of souls.” St. Dominic keep us faithful and honest. Amen!