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Fascinated by how St. Dominic prayed

Interview with Dr. Mary Elizabeth O’Brien, OP

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Dr. O'Brien, please tell us a little about yourself.

I am a lay Dominican and professor emeritus in the Conway School of Nursing at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.


What spurred you to write this book, St. Dominic’s Way of Prayer?

As a lay Dominican, I’ve spent many hours studying the life and ministry of Saint Dominic. I was also, for a number of years, a guest participant in numerous inspiring liturgies in a large Dominican Priory.


Through my study, I became fascinated by the topic of “Saint Dominic’s Nine Ways of Prayer” as described in ancient manuscripts. I wondered whether Saint Dominic’s use of postures and gestures in his prayer life contained relevance for today’s Christians in their practice of prayer.


Is this book different from others out there on this topic? The only other recent book focusing totally on Saint Dominic’s “Nine Ways of Prayer” was authored by a French Dominican Sister and has not, to my knowledge, been translated into English.



Could you give us a sample of interesting anecdotes and information you included in the book?

I was particularly struck by Saint Dominic’s identified third “Way” of “Taking the Discipline” as a reflection of repentance for sin, and questioned how this might translate for the contemporary Christian. I found this “Way” to be most relevant when considering the topic of Christian asceticism, including not only such topics as fasting and abstinence but also penitential pilgrimages such as those to Lough Derg in Ireland.


I used many different anecdotes from the life of Dominic as written by his contemporaries and those who closely followed him in time.


As a nurse, I was also interested in whether Saint Dominic’s “Way of Prayer” could be adapted for those who were sick and/or physically incapacitated. I explored this in a final chapter entitled: “Dominic’s Way of Prayer for the Ill and Infirm.”


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Publisher's Note: Dr. O'Brien has also authored Rose of Lima: A Blessed Ministry to the Sick Poor, published by New Hope Publications.

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