The Nine Ways of Prayer of St. Dominic is a short work written between the years 1260 and 1288 as a remembrance of the founder of the Order of Preachers, St. Dominic de Guzman. St. Dominic was widely known and loved, and his manner of living and praying was treasured by the early members of the Order.
As Simon Tugwell, O.P., notes,
"There seems to be no reason to doubt that, in the Nine Ways, we are in contact with the actual practice of prayer of St. Dominic, and with the teaching he gave to the brethren."*The Nine Ways arises from the medieval monastic tradition of prayer, and cannot be understood without referring to it. For example, the emphasis on an emotional demonstration of tears, laughter, and exclamation during prayer stem entirely from within medieval monastic tradition. St. Dominic's innovation, perhaps, was to use his whole body as a prayer.
In our own time, we seek to share the good news of Jesus Christ with those around us thirsting for justice, hungering for truth, yearning for peace, looking for forgiveness, and needing love. In this St. Dominic is always already ahead of us, the preacher of God's grace to the world. As we consider his ways of prayer, let us not forget that he did it all to preach the Reign of God, and move others to conversion of heart.
* Reference: Simon Tugwell, The Nine Ways of Prayer of St. Dominic (Dublin: Dominican Publications, 1978) 6.
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Nine Ways of Prayer of St. Dominic: Introduction / Rev. 12 December 1998 / © Copyright 1998, Elizabeth T. Knuth / URL: http://www.users.csbsju.edu/~eknuth/nineways/nwintro.html