The English term Charism is derived from the Greek roots “kharism”, which means “favour freely given” or “gift of grace”. The term and its plural Charismata derived from “Charis”, which means “grace”.
From the beginning of the Church till today various religious Orders have been contributing with different approaches and charism in the life and mission of the Church which is the Body of Christ. In a certain sense each religious Order brings with it a specific gift to the greater body of the Church.
The Dominican Order has been rendering its services with various ways and today we see the Dominicans are almost in the whole World. Dominicans are called the preachers of the Gospel. They live a life of poverty and simplicity by following the footsteps of their Holy Father St. Dominic De Guzman who turned his back to wealth and surrendered his entire life for the proclamation of the Gospel.
William A. Hinnebusch, O.P further writes that St. Dominic’s love for Christ appears in his prayer. According to Jordan of Saxony, “he gave the day to his neighbour, the nights to God.’ He spent all night in church praying. Hence, St. Dominic was a man of God. In fact, the charism of the Dominican Order has its strong foundation on the life and mission of St. Dominic.
What distinguishes the Dominicans from any other religious Order?
Prayer is at the heart of our Christian life. Through prayer a Christian faithful communicate to God and develop a good relationship with others. The Dominicans have received the habit of prayer from their holy father St. Dominic. He was a man of prayer. Prayer invites us to be humble and to have a strong faith in the providence of God. All the spiritual aspects of the Dominicans traces back to St. Dominic, just as everything, spiritual and positive in the Church traces back to Christ. St. Dominic used to spend his nights in prayer and especially he was praying for the conversion of sinners.
Hence, prayer is a reference point through which we all come to know God personally, to have a deeper communication with God and to let God enter into our lives. The Eucharist and the Liturgy of the Hours are the essential elements of Dominican prayer. With greater emphasis, every day, the brothers of the Ibn-e-Mariam Vice Province participate in the Holy Eucharistic Celebration and experience the Paschal Mystery which is the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The same experience is shared in the communities of our friars. The gift of the Holy Rosary has also a special place in our life. Friars are encouraged to recite the Holy Rosary as a community and in private. LCO # 67. II explains that the traditional devotion in the Order to the Virgin Mother of God, Queen of Apostles as well as meditation on the words of Christ and of obedience in one’s own mission, should be cherished by the brethren. They shall recite daily a third part of the rosary in common or in private.
Personal prayer and meditation are the essential part of the Dominican Spirituality. The friars are encouraged to spend half an hour in meditation by following the tradition of the Order. In a special manner, the practice of private prayer and meditation is observed regularly to grow in communion with God and one another.
Community life is the essential part of the Dominican life. LCO # 2/1 “It describes with greater emphasis that we are reminded by the Rule that the primary reason why we are gathered together is that we may dwell together in unity, so that we may be one in mind and one heart in God. This unity, moreover, achieves its fullness beyond the limits of a convent in communion with a province and with the whole Order.”
However, Dominican community is a place where the friars live together, pray together, celebrate together and grow in the fraternal love and understanding. In fact, the essence of this community life is also significant in all the apostolates of the community as community-project.
Dominican Constitution states, LCO # 76 “St. Dominic included study, ordained to the ministry of salvation, as an essential part for the Order. Hence before all else, our study should aim principally and ardently at this that we might be able to be useful to the souls of our neighbors.” However, the friars of the Ibn-e-Mariam Vice Province are encouraged to exercise the responsibility of study well, with great commitment and humble attitude. Our student brothers after their Novitiate year spend full three years in Philosophy and four years in theology. The ongoing formation of the friars is taken seriously and
especially those who are in the first five years of their Ordination to the Sacred Order of Priesthood. We form our young Dominican friars to become a sign of hope, the joy-filled preachers, assimilated in the love of God, who bring creative and transforming Word of God in the contemporary world and also to dispel darkness. (Acts of the Vice Provincial Chapter, 2019. No. 15).
Preaching the Word of God is the center of the Dominican Charism. We preach the Truth which is Jesus Christ. We as Dominicans Preach the Word of God in the context of Pakistan, where the Muslims are in majority and Christians are in the minority. All the friars of the Ibn-e-Mariam Vice Province of Pakistan take very seriously the responsibility of preaching the Word of God. Our Dominican tradition invites us to have a deep zeal of preaching. The first three pillars of the Dominican life namely Prayer, Community and Study provide a healthy atmosphere to our communities to prepare the preaching well. In fact, the preaching is prepared in the communities as a community project.
Authentic preaching is also the beginning of the fruitful ministerial life. All the friars are engaged in various responsibilities, for instance, Education, Tribal Ministry, Parish Ministry, Christian-Muslim Dialogue, Formation of the Brothers, Jail Ministry, Youth Ministry (IDYM) and Dominican Laity. All these ministries, we do in the name of the Order to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus by following the footsteps of our Holy Father, St. Dominic De Guzman.