St. Dominic included study, ordained to the ministry of salvation, as an essential part of his plan for the Order: in this was no small innovation. He, who himself always carried the Gospel of St. Matthew and the Epistles of Saint Paul, directed the brethren to schools, and sent them to the major cities so that they might study, preach, and establish a convent.
Before all else, Dominican study should aim principally and ardently at this, that they might be able to be useful to the souls of their neighbors. By study the brethren consider in their heart the manifold wisdom of God and prepare themselves for the doctrinal service of the Church and of all mankind. It is all the more fitting that they should devote themselves to study, because from the tradition of the Order they are more specially called to cultivate mankind’s inclination toward truth.
The light and source of Dominican study is God, who spoke in former times and in different ways, and last of all speaks in Christ, through whom the mystery of the Father’s will, after the sending of the Spirit, is fully revealed in the Church and enlightens the minds of all people.
The brethren should contemplate and study divine revelation of which Sacred Scripture and Tradition constitute a single sacred deposit, and from the perennial instructional value of its overall plan, they should learn to discover the many paths of gospel truth, even in created things, in human works and institutions, as well as in different religions.
In all things the brethren should think with the Church and exhibit allegiance to the varied exercise of the Magisterium to which is entrusted the authentic interpretation of the word of God. Furthermore, faithful to the Order’s mission, they should always be prepared to provide with special dedication cooperative service to the Magisterium in fulfilling their doctrinal obligations.
The brethren should study attentively the writings of the Fathers of the Church and distinguished witnesses of Christian thought who, with the help of different cultures and the wisdom of the philosophers, labored to understand the word of God more fully. Following their thinking, the brethren should respectfully listen to the living tradition of the Church, seek dialogue with the learned, and open their mind to contemporary discoveries and problems.
The best teacher and model in fulfilling this duty is St. Thomas, whose teaching the Church commends in a unique way and the Order receives as a patrimony which exercises an enriching influence on the intellectual life of the brethren and confers on the Order a special character. Consequently, the brethren should develop a genuine familiarity with his writings and thought, and, according to the needs of the time and with legitimate freedom, they should renew and enrich his teaching with the continually fresh riches of sacred and human wisdom.
Continuous study nourishes contemplation, encourages fulfillment of the counsels with shining fidelity, constitutes a form of asceticism by its own perseverance and difficulty, and, as an essential element of our whole life, it is an excellent religious observance.