“If I proclaim the Gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe betide me if I do not proclaim the Gospel!” (1 Cor 9:16).
Preaching like a friar means preaching like a successor of one of the Apostles. Our ministry, “is a sharing in the prophetic office of the bishops.” (LCO 99). Our preaching, then, is supposed to be comparable to the preaching of Ss. Peter and Paul, James and John, and the other apostles. It should call to mind the Israelite prophets of old – Samuel, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah and even John the Baptist. This task lays a great degree of responsibility on one who would strive to serve as a Dominican friar.
All of our apostolic ministry must be marked by an evangelical spirit, tied especially closely to the Sacraments of Eucharist and Reconciliation in a way that brings them to a world in need.
Dominican apostolic ministry ought to bear another special mark: that we speak rightly of our Lord and teach with theological soundness. For example, St. Thomas Aquinas’ life works, ordered toward speaking rightly of his Lord, can be more easily understood if seen as his contribution to the Holy Preaching mission of St. Dominic.
Dominican preaching is also collaborative. Our Constitutions say that the preaching of any one Dominican ought to be seen as part of the preaching mission of a whole Dominican convent. Members of a convent who share in apostolic ministry together are especially effective witnesses; this explains, in part, the Dominican tradition of referring to the life of the community itself as a ‘holy preaching.’
St. Thomas shows us one last aspect, perhaps more important than all the others, of what our preaching ought to be: contemplative. Thomas was a brilliant scholar and preacher, with a sharp mind and a strong will. Most of his contemporaries didn’t point to either of those things as most important. Instead, they pointed to his love for contemplation of God. We follow today in Aquinas’ footsteps, perhaps with an awe of him, but more of the God whom he contemplated.
Better to illuminate than merely to shine, to deliver to others contemplated truths than merely to contemplate.
-St. Thomas Aquinas, O.P.