Guideline: Read LCO Paragraphs 17-38 for more detail
The Dominican vows are unique among religious profession. In reciting the vow formula, which you can read here, we make only one vow: obedience. The other common vows, poverty and chastity, are included under obedience.
Obedience is kind of an abstract term, but I’ve found this a helpful way to think about it: Dominican friars profess obedience to the Master of the Order, but to whom is the Master of the Order obedient? It’s true that the Master is obedient to Jesus, to Mary, to St. Dominic, and in a worldly order even to the Pope. But these answers fail to show one part of his obedience: his obedience to the will of the brothers at the General Chapter.
St. Dominic gave the first example of this obedience when he ceded his authority to the brothers of the chapter. If the founder of the order was willing to step aside and submit his will to the collective will of the brothers, it gives us an example of how much more we ought to be willing to do the same.
The obedience we give to the Master of the Order is meant to imitate the obedience that Jesus gave to the will of the Father. Our obedience actually unites us to Christ, who lived in perfect obedience to the will of the Father. We are not obedient for the sake of being obedient; we are obedient because Jesus was obedient, and we are trying to follow in his footsteps. Dominic was the first to do it in our Order, and he did so in an exemplary way. May we follow in his footsteps.
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