St. Dominic included study as an essential part of his plan for the Order. He, who himself always carried the Gospel of St. Matthew and the Epistles of Saint Paul, sent the brothers to the major cities so that they might study, preach, establish priories and centres of learning, and thereby better serve the mission of the Church. St. Dominic established in the Church a form of religious life that in his day was in many respects new. It was not a novelty that religious should be studious or learned, but the notion was quite new that an order should be founded in which study would be an indispensable means for realising its aims.
The newly professed brother sets about the tasks of study with promptness and diligence. He realises that it is by study that he will be equipped to work for the salvation of souls in the Dominican way: by preaching the veritas of Christ.
The best teacher and model in fulfilling this duty of study is St. Thomas Aquinas, 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. Consequently, the brothers are encouraged to develop a genuine familiarity with his thought and should renew and enrich his teaching with the continually fresh riches of sacred and human wisdom.
It is not necessary to be a genius to become a Dominican, but it is necessary to have average ability at least, persistent good will and perseverance in study. Gradually the student will become aware of the growth within himself of a power to bring to souls the message of the faith they eagerly await. Average as he may know himself to be, he is brought by his professors into contact with the greatest minds in the Church. By application and diligent study, he can qualify adequately for the exercise of the apostolic ministry of the Order.
In the life of a Dominican student there is a serene balance of prayer, study and healthy recreation. There is a variety too in the subjects studied, and encouragement is regularly given to guide the student through the programme of studies. Over time, the mind of the studious friar is enlightened, his will is strengthened, and his oratorical skills are sharpened.
The study of Dominicans has its breaks but it does not come to a conclusion with ordination. For Dominicans, study is not an end in itself, but a means for the attainment of the special goal of the Order, namely preaching and the salvation of souls. Indeed, study is a means so intimately connected with that goal that it remains a duty for one’s whole lifetime.