The Latin Rite Monastic Order That Best Resembles Me [1/2]

Now that I am in my 3rd Week being back in School, I feel like as if it would be good to talk about my self-education and my formal education in college. In my life I wanted to look back on what my actions best resembled the life of those who dedicate themselves to God. Now I will be the first to say that, I am not perfect and this resemblance is at best very limited, because I live in world and have no Holy Vocation that I picked up, just a simple desire to know my Creator. There are many Monastic Orders founded within the Latin Tradition and this diversity is life affirming, yet despite this diversity there is still an essential unity to God and His Church. Out of the 7 Latin Rite Monastic Orders that I am aware of (Dominican, Trappist, Jesuit, Carmelite, Carthusian, Benedictine, and Franciscan), the Order that I believe I come closest to based on its values is The Dominican Order. In this blog post I wish to examine briefly the Core Values behind these 6 Monastic Orders, and then go more in-depth with my limited resemblance to The Dominican Order.

Brief Overview of The 5 Other Latin Rite Monastic Order

To begin let me just go over the values of the five other Latin Rite Monastic orders, but only briefly. The Five other Latin Rite Monastic Orders that I know of are as follows:

The Trappist Order is a Monastic Order of Contemplative Monks and Nuns that is a branch of the Cistercian Order who follow the Rule of St. Benedict and whose particular emphasis resides deeply in a Vow of Silence to allow for deep Contemplation and Manual Labor. A well known Trappist Monk of recent memory is Thomas Merton know for several of his own writings.

The Franciscan Order is a Monastic Order of Friars and Laypeople whose main values reside around a voluntary poverty, prayer life, and Charity to others. There are two well-known Franciscan Friars, the first being its Founder St. Francis of Assisi, whose love of the creation made him a patron saint for the environment, the second being St. Anthony of Padua.

The Carmelite Order is an Monastic Order of Monks, Nuns, and Laypeople whose main value is rooted deeply in Contemplative Prayer, Fraternity, and Service. A Well known Monk of the Carmelite Tradition would be St. John of the Cross, know for his writing called, The Dark Night of the Soul as well as St. Teresa of Avila, know for her writing called, The Interior Castle.

The Carthusian Order is a Monastic Order of Monks and Nuns. Unlike most Orders who have a pastoral or missionary value as well as prayer, this order is strictly dedicated to Prayer and Contemplation. There are no well-known Carthusian Monks or Nuns however, a video documentary was done on a particular French monastery of the Order called, “Into Great Silence”.

The Benedictine Order is another Monastic Order of Monks and Nuns they are based around the Writing of The Rule of St. Benedict which emphasized Community, Prayer, and Work and were dedicated toward the fulfillment that all Humans are called to which is Theosis. St. Benedict of Nursia is the well-known [unintended] founder of the Monastic Order whose writings drew influence from the Eastern Monastics such as Saint Anthony the Great, Saint Basil of Caesarea, Saint Augustine of Hippo, and Saint John Cassian and an anonymous writer who made the Rule of the Master. It is the Benedictine Order which made the existence of other Monastic Orders possible.

The Cistercian Order is another Monastic Order of Monks and Nuns whose principle values were to reinstate the literal meaning behind The Rule of St. Benedict and follow a Simple Life of Poverty, Love, Work, and Prayer. There is but one well known Saint of this order and that is St. Bernard of Clairvaux whose Mystical writings are plenty.

The Order however that best resembles my life and work thus far (after examining the values of the previous Orders) see their fulfillment in the Values of The Dominican Order. The Order is Properly called the Order of Preachers, however it is fair to point out that by Preaching they do not mean exclusively Preaching as we understand it, as an act of public speaking, but as bearing Witness to God and in that Witness inform our interactions with each other as we inform each other of The Gospel message. The Order places importance on Community and Cooperation, Contemplative Prayer and Intellectual Study. The most well-known Dominican Monk is considered a Doctor of the Roman Catholic Church, and that is St. Thomas Aquinas, however in a previous writing I had made mention of a situation regarding the increased sense of Rationalism in Mystical Theology, and I want to briefly cover the personal historical issue I had with St. Thomas Aquinas.

When I was still back into the, “Solely Orthodox” Stage of my Spiritual Development, I was very much Anti-Western Christianity. This conflict I had of course was [to me] best crystallized between Eastern Theologian, Gregory Palamas on one hand and Western Theologian, Barlaam of Calabria on the other hand. The debate was concerning who had the Higher Quality Knowledge, The Prophets of the Bible or Philosophers? The Western Response was the Philosophers, but the East held closely to the notion that God’s Revelation to the Prophets was the Highest Form of Knowing. It is my understanding to Thomistic thought at that time in my life that, Rational Inquiry rather then Intuitive Understanding was at the heart of St. Thomas’ Epistemology, however, it is now my understanding that Thomistic Thought believed that Human Beings can know many things through Reason and that Divine Revelation is only needed from time to time.

However, when I chose to side with the Eastern View [which I still in large part agree with to this day] I felt like as if it was an attempt of mine to make it look like Christianity needed to escape from the clutches of Rational Theologies. However, as I have thought about this problem even more, I feel like as if I was also denying Reasons place within the Whole of the Christian Tradition. I still do believe that there are certain risks that may take place with associating Philosophy and the Natural Sciences too closely to Christian Theology, but at the same time I feel that in our world we want to see some Rational Signs of God’s Being Present With Us and while Faith is a sure way, Reason certainly can be a springboard to allow more people [whose faith still needs to be strengthened] to see God in this world.


Posted September 12, 2011 by jimbo9889 in Spiritual Autobiography

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