It is important to stress that there is a contemplative aspect to our lives as Dominicans.

While we are apostolic and have a particular mission to undertake, there has always been, as the renowned Dominican Yves Congar OP points out, ‘a marked trait of the monastic tradition in the Dominican vocation’.

We, as an Order, can only do so much pastorally – we can’t solve all the problems of the world – if we try to do that, it will affect our dedication to our communities.

And while we are not monks in the strict sense of the word, we have always been careful to emphasise regular observance rather than monastic observance.

In real terms this means that in all our houses and priories we observe silence at particular times of the day, that we celebrate prayer (the Divine Office) in choir, that we eat meals in common, etc.

But more than that, it is the spirit of contemplation that leads us to study – to understand ultimately that it is God who is at the centre of our lives.