Dominican tradition and heritage of study is freedom of research. Dominic set study in the service of others as his idea when he made study an integral part of the life of the Order.
Study and concern with contemporary social issues.
Go from a study of the world as it is to a commitment to envision and work for a world as it should be. To try to put right what is wrong in the world. Each person has to determine her/his own area of commitment. Desire and challenge to make this a better world.
Dominic believed that you learn how to do something by doing it, not by formulating theories beforehand. Experience was the key.
For example, at Signadou. Love of the Gospel of Matthew.
To work for a better, more just and loving world. If we try to do this alone, we can feel overwhelmed. We can help one another–that is the point of community, family, to enable us to do what we cannot do by ourselves.
Compassion one of Dominic’s outstanding qualities
As student in Palencia
“I refuse to study dead skins while men are dying of hunger.”
Preaching formed by compassion and in pursuit of Truth
The Dominican heritage intertwines a dynamic interrelatedness of four active ideals: Study; Prayer/Contemplation/Reflection; Community; and Service. These ideals developed as the Order developed under Saint Dominic and his successors.
Dominic differed from founders of other religious orders of his time. He sent his followers to engage in the life of the emerging universities of the thirteenth century. As they studied, they realized that there must be a spirit of prayer, contemplation and reflection which would connect the world of ideas, the life of the mind, and the spirit of truth, to the reality of the goodness of the Creator. This reflection and prayer could not be done in a vacuum, but must be done in and through the sharing of communal life. Coming full circle, the Dominicans were commissioned to share their knowledge and love of God with the people of the world.
Thus the Order of Preachers continue to share the Good News of the Gospel through the service and ministry they perform. These Ideals are central in Dominican University of California’s quest for truth, beauty and the life of the mind.
The Saint For Whom Dominican University Of California Is Named
St. Dominic Guzman, founder of the Order of Preachers, popularly called Dominicans, was born at Caleruega in the Spanish kingdom of Castile in 1170 and died on August 6, 1221 at the Dominican priory in Bologna. His life thus spanned a millennium, the end of the 12th century and the beginning of the 13th. Like us postmoderns, Dominic, too, lived in a violent society split between the two spheres of human experience: the spiritual and the material, the intellectual and the physical, the technological and the humane.
As the son of noble parents, Dominic first studied under the tutelage of his maternal uncle, and then entered the University of Palencia for further study in preparation for the priesthood. Early in his student years he seems already to have developed a love for people and a deep compassion for the unfortunate as manifested by his selling of his books to assist the poor and to obtain the release of the slaves held captive by the Moors.
Following his ordination to the priesthood Dominic was called by the Bishop of Osma to membership in the cathedral chapter to spend nine years in a life of priestly service and prayer. The quiet of his contemplative life was broken when Bishop Diego chose Dominic to accompany him on an embassy to Denmark on behalf of Alfonso IX, King of Castile. The journey took them through Toulouse in the south of France where they were shocked and saddened by meeting many Christians who had been attracted to the religious cult of the Albigensians.
The beliefs of this sect were based on the ancient heresy of Manicheism which taught the existence of two Gods: one of Good and the other of Evil. Only the spiritual was good; all material things were evil. Dominic lamented the denial of the goodness of God manifested in all created things, and was strongly moved to bring the Albigensians back to a belief in the Christian faith and the goodness of created things. In 1204, with the approval of Pope Innocent III, Dominic and Bishop Diego devoted themselves to a life of intense prayer and austerity equal to that of the “perfect” among the Albigensians, and to preaching the Christian truths of the Incarnation and Redemption to refute the belief that material things were evil.
The Albigensians were heavily concentrated in the Midi, the region of southern France, so Dominic and Diego labored in Prouille, Fanjeaux, Montpellier, Beziers and Carcassonne. A large number of women converts were rejected by their Albigensian families and came to Dominic for help. In 1206 he gathered them into a community with land and a church in Prouille and gave them a religious rule for daily living, thus making the first foundation of the Dominican family.
Dominic saw that the extent of the work of conversion far exceeded the capabilities of two men, and after a visionary experience at Fanjeaux in 1206 he determined to gather a group of companions to preach the Word of God. In 1208 Diego died, but meanwhile Dominic, by his holiness of life and ardent preaching, attracted a small band of young men to his mission. With the support of Bishop Foulques of Toulouse he organized them into a religious order in the local diocese and established the first convent of the Order of Preachers in Toulouse in 1215.
Dominic’s vision, however, went far beyond the confines of the Midi; he passionately longed to take the preaching of Christianity into the whole world. His desire to extend the ministry of his nascent Order coincided with the chief business of an ecumenical council meeting in Rome in 1215 at which Dominic was present. Until this time preaching in the Church was primarily an episcopal function, and one which, in the council’s view, the bishops had shamefully neglected. Dominic’s intention in founding his Order of Preachers offered an innovative response to the demands of the council for more effective means of teaching the faith. An obstacle still remained to be overcome: the Fourth Lateran Council was averse to the founding of any new religious orders at that time; but Dominic solved the difficulty by adopting the ancient Rule of St. Augustine which allowed him great latitude in designing a religious life style appropriate for his itinerant band, and so in 1216 he received papal confirmation of his Order of Preachers.
Dominic set about realizing his vision by taking his young followers to a master teacher, Alexander of Stavensby, to give them a thorough grounding in theology as a basis for their preaching. Scarcely had his little group of seventeen begun to feel bonded when Dominic made the daring decision to disperse them throughout Europe, and to give them the best educational opportunities available at the emerging centers of university learning in Rome, Paris, Bologna, and Oxford. Dominic himself began a ceaseless round of travel, crossing and re-crossing on foot the European continent, preaching the Christian faith and attracting enthusiastic young men to join him in a life of prayer, study, and preaching. Within five years, 1216 to 1221, Dominic accomplished his goal of establishing and consolidating his Order represented by several hundred friars effectively ministering in all the major countries of Europe.
What are the enduring characteristics of Dominic Guzman that have continued to inspire men and women even in our millennium to share his heritage in centers of learning? Surely his most lovable qualities were his passion for truth and tender compassion for people, his love for the Creator and his confidence in human nature. His companions found in him the strength and flexibility characteristic of the tempered steel of his native Spain. Like us, he stands at the convergence of two centuries and moved his followers from stability to itinerancy, from pastoral to urban centers, from monastic classrooms to great universities—Dominic was a man on the move, a man of prayer, of study, of reflection, of action. His crowning gift, his early biographers remind us, was a life filled with freshness, enthusiasm, and great joy in the wonders of all the works of God.