Dominic chose the common life as one of the principal means of achieving the purposes of the Order. Built on the three vows and inspired by the example of the early Church, that company of believers who were of one heart and soul, our life in community demands constant fraternal charity and prepares us for contemplation and for the service of others. (Constitutions of the Congregation)
Called by Christ to make an offering of our lives, all vocations require the total gift of self for another. The “community life” within the human family has many expressions. Together with the people that God has placed in our lives, we work out our holiness, for the honor and glory of God, as we build up the Body of Christ. As religious, we look for Christ in our sisters and, through prayer, strive to reflect Him in our own persons as well. By becoming one with our Divine Spouse, we constantly seek to please Him, and by dying to ourselves, we hope to resemble Him. When the religious life is lived in a way that is balanced, fully engaging a person’s capacity to love and to be loved, the result is joy and a family spirit.
Our family is a large one, composed of a variety of sisters with their unique gifts, talents, and personalities. From our older sisters, we seek encouragement and admire the wisdom they have gained from years of prayer and experience. With the sisters who entered the community around the same time we did, we share the bonds made in the novitiate. With sisters of all ages we have common experiences from shared mission life and the apostolate. Our newest members bring a fresh sense of zeal and energy while the more experienced sisters bring the example of perseverance and fidelity. In community life, all of the family dynamics are present, along with the help of grace and the power of a love that does not count the cost.
The sisters enjoy each other’s company. More than one sister in a room results in a certain energy level and joy that is tangible. One sister relates that on her first visit to the community, she was struggling with the question of her vocation. Years of apprehension were shattered when through a door she heard much laughter coming from the novitiate. She knew then that, in the context of all her desires and sense of mission, she could live this life and know joy as well.
The source of our bond in community life is the dynamic love of the Trinity. Such love expands our very being and enables our love to be personal, unpossessive and joyful.
The Church takes to heart the fraternal life of religious communities: the more intense their fraternal love, the greater the credibility of the message she proclaims, and the more visible the heart of the mystery of the Church, sacrament of the union of humankind with God, and of its members among themselves. Fraternal life is not the “entirety” of the mission of a religious community, but it is an essential element. Fraternal life is just as important as apostolic life. (Fraternal Life in Community 55)