Lay Fraternity of St. Dominic Profession Mass

While most people know that the Order of Preachers (Dominican Order) is made up of Friars, and many people know that it is also made up of Nuns, few people are aware that there is a third component that makes up the Order: the members of the Lay Fraternities of St. Dominic (also known as the Dominican Laity). For awhile in time they were referred to as the “Third Order,” but this is terminology that was erroneously adopted from our Franciscan cousins. While the Franciscans can speak of having a First Order (the friars), a Second Order (the cloistered nuns), and a Third Order (the laity), the Dominicans really only have one Order which is comprised of the three groups with the Master of the Order (a friar) at the head (the third group also including the Priestly Fraternities of St. Dominic). The Dominican Family is even larger, encompassing also the many congregations of Dominican sisters as well as the Dominican Youth Movement and while these are not under the Master they do collaborate with the Order and share in our Dominican spirituality.

So what exactly is a Lay Dominican? The website for the Lay Fraternities describes it this way:

“Members of the Fraternities of St. Dominic are lay men and women who are fully incorporated members of the Order of Preachers and live out their Dominican vocation in the world. Lay Dominicans, who in the past have been called Third Order or Dominican Tertiaries, have existed almost as long as the Dominican Order itself. The Lay Fraternities of St. Dominic was founded with their own rule in 1285 and was officially recognized by the Church on the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas in 1286.

Lay Dominicans “are accordingly distinguished both by their own spirituality and by their service to God and neighbor in the Church. As members of the Order, they participate in its apostolic mission through prayer, study and preaching according to the state proper to the laity.” (The Rule of the Lay Fraternity #4).

Lay Dominicans come from every background, joining the Dominican charism to their state of life in the world. In this unique Dominican way, they live out their special vocation “to seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and directing them according to God’s will.” (Lumen Gentium 31)”

Our monastery is blessed to have a chapter of the Dominican Laity, the Holy Rosary Chapter, that calls our monastery home. While the members do not live here, they meet monthly and make use of our chapel for their profession ceremonies and prayer. On Sunday, November 4th the Holy Rosary Chapter had their Profession Mass, and the nuns were privileged to attend. During Mass two members made their Final Profession, five made their Temporary Profession, and after Mass four were clothed and began their novitiate. (Unfortunately we didn’t get a picture of the clothing ceremony!)

The Lay Fraternities of St. Dominic are founded on Four Pillars: Prayer, Community, Study, and Apostolate. They follow the Rule of St. Augustine, the same Rule as the Friars and Nuns, as well as the Rule of the Lay Fraternities of Saint Dominic (just like the Friars and Nuns each have their own Constitutions).

The obligations of the friars, nuns, and laity are different for each group, according to their state in life. The obligations of the Laity are:

1) Daily praying of Lauds and Vespers
2) Daily 5 decades of the rosary
3) Daily Our Father, Hail Mary, and Eternal Rest for all Dominicans
4) Daily 15 minutes of mental prayer or Lectio Divina (prayerful reading of the Sacred Scriptures)
5) Daily Mass and communion is recommended
6) Confession at least monthly
7) Attendance at the monthly Chapter meeting
8) Yearly participation at 3 Masses for Dominicans
9) Fasting on the vigils of St. Dominic, St. Catherine of Siena, and Our Lady of the Rosary if possible.

The St. Thomas Aquinas Chapter has prepared this wonderful booklet for people interested in becoming Lay Dominicans. If you think you might be interested in finding out more about your local chapter, you can find a list of Chapters and their contact information HERE.

For more information about the Holy Rosary Chapter at our monastery, you can contact Mr. Richard Sofie, OP at frognolia@comcast.net .

Congratulations to Sharon and Gerry on their Final Profession, as well as those who made Temporary Profession and were clothed with the habit (scapular) of the Order!!