Like St. Francis of Assisi, St. Dominic responded to a need in his time. Many people have moved from smaller villages to bigger towns. Many of the cities were also growing in population.
The monks had previously Christianised Europe. They had formed Christian islands in the midst of pagan people and bit by bit brought the knowledge of Christ and his message to them.
People now living in the towns needed a new ministry approach.
Dominic started the Order of Preachers which we now know as the Dominicans. He believed in persuasion of those he and his companions preached to instead of talking at people. He believed in instruction, formation, and explanation.
Like the Franciscans founded a few years earlier, he put great emphasis on the importance of poverty both for the individual friars and of the religious community as a whole.
In contrast to the monks, who lived primarily in monasteries, away from the world around them, he saw a need to be immersed directly in the world. He did this while still retaining some forms of the monastic life, such as prayer in common and community life, while he adapted all this to the reality they now face.
This was also a time of great learning. Many of the writings of Plato, Aristotle and so many others in the classical world were rediscovered in the Christian West.
The Dominican order contributed a lot to the intellectual history and development of theology. People like Albert the Great, Thomas Aquinas and many other Dominicans develop great intellectual responses as a result of reflections, study, discussion and prayer.
Both St. Dominic and St. Francis experience some suspicion from others within the church of their time and the larger society around because of their radical Christian living, especially regarding simplicity and poverty. They had clarity in their heart and mind that following God’s call was more important than pleasing the expectation of others. They certainly were committed to respecting and loving others and not just to please them.
Over time, including our own time, the Dominican order has produced many scholars and theologians. There is no clash between faith and reason. God gave us brains to use them and the pursuit of knowledge is indeed a noble quest. It is just that we need to realise that our reason has limitations and is not always able to grasp fully so much of the mysteries around us. This includes of course, the mysteries of faith revealed to us by God. The human mind is great but not infinite, wonderful but always learning.
The Dominicans as indeed did the Franciscans and so many others used the philosophical scholarship of the time as a framework for theological development.
Every age needs to do the same. In our own times, people like Karl Rahner, Walter Kasper, Dennis Edwards and so many others have done the same in our realities.
There is no need for clash between good science, good thinking, and good healthy religion especially as revealed to us within the Christian faith.
The pursuit of learning and love of God can go in harmony together.