06 December 2011

TWO HUNDRED TWENTY NINTH

The link between study and the apostolic aims of the [Dominican] Order was thus clear from the very beginning. The primitive constitutions state: "Our study must aim principally at this, that we might be useful to the souls of others." Blessed Jordan makes this point vividly when, in his encyclical letter of May 1233, he complains that brethren who are uninterested in study, "apart from neglecting their own benefit and depressing their teachers . . . deprive many people of a chance of salvation, when they could have helped them on their way to eternal life if only they had studied properly, instead of being careless about it." The Lives of the Brethren recount the story of a certain friar in the early days of the Order who, because he neglected study for the sake of long prayers and works of asceticism, was accused by the brethren "of making himself useless to the Order by not studying." With his usual clarity, Blessed Humbert of Romans, the fifth master general, sums it up nicely: "Study is not the purpose of the Order, but it is of the greatest necessity for the aims we have mentioned, namely, preaching and working for the salvation of souls, for without study we can achieve neither."