The Latin Rite Monastic Order That Best Resembles Me [2/2]   Leave a comment

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. Having now examined briefly the Core Values behind these 6 Monastic Orders, I want to now use this Second Part to go more in-depth with my limited resemblance to The Dominican Order.

How I Try To Emulate The Order in My Own Life and How Its Founders Wisdom Benefited Me

The Primary Emulation of The Dominican Order that I have practiced unceasingly for the past 5 years or so is Intellectual Study. Even before coming back to Christianity I had sought God, and as such it was done largely in Intellectual Pursuits through debate, reading, and writing as well as viewing other media on Spirituality all these things however ultimately lead to my rediscovery of Christianity first through the Greek/Oriental Christian East and then where I am today in Eu-stressful Tension of the East and the West.

The Secondary Emulation of The Dominican Order that I have practice unceasingly as well for the past 2 to 3 years or so would be Developing a Community. However, unlike the Dominican Order which is on the whole dedicated to Christianity, I living in the midst of the world and so sought to form both a Digital and Personal Community of Friends that are of different worldviews some of whom are spiritual and some of whom are irreligious. My interactions with them however both encouraged and allowed me to stay on the path to understand that which I was dedicated to, inevitably leading to my rediscovery of Christianity. This however was not limited to theological topics, but scientific topics as well particularly of the, social, economic, political, and psychological topics as well.

The Tertiary Emulation of the Dominican Order that I have unfortunately not practiced as much as I have the previous two emulations is the practice of Contemplative Prayer itself. At the heart of Christian Spirituality is prayer itself, and abiding in God. Prayer is what made it possible for me to go down this path in life in the first place, to have the experiences I had leading up to this day and most likely for the rest of my life on earth. If I had not prayed when I did or even at all, the outcome would be very different for me at this time, I would either be behind or would not have had an interest in social, political, and economic matters, let alone have a desire to explore the inner world of man through spirituality, psychology, and philosophy. Thus I would not be the person I am today without Prayer. This is why I find it unfortunate though that I have been unable to practice it as much as I would have liked to, but always have a longing for it. Other elements of the Dominican Way of Living I have practiced at best sporadically or at worst never, for example I do not really practice the economic poverty by voluntary choice, and I have not donated my time to charitable causes as much as I donated my time to Just Political Causes which I felt like as if I was fighting for the Charitable Cause.

Now the pursuit of Academic Studies comes with it a particular tension that may challenge the Spiritual Life and that is The Tension between Humility and Faith on one hand yet on the other hand Pride and Knowledge. The Dominicans have recognized that with Knowledge comes an ambitious as well as condescending pride and I best of all people can admit that in gaining knowledge I have looked down upon people and I have desired to realize my will in peoples lives because I thought I knew better! The Dominicans and I have both recognized however that, intellectual laziness, ignorance, and naiveté bring with it dangers and temptations as well.

However, what is the Wisdom of St. Dominican that His Order has contained in it when addressing the temptations that Knowledge brings with it, namely being tempted with picking up a Condescending and Ambitious Persona? The First is Love of Wisdom, to never be content with just a superficial explanation of things but to also go deeper, and in going deeper, recognize and admit freely how little one knows, this keeps Ambition and Condescension in check with a reminder of Humility. The Second is Prayer and Contemplation itself, by being in God we are reminded of the vast mystery of the Divine and its Creation and in doing so we can check our condescension towards others. Finally a very real and practical way to check any temptation of Condescension and Ambition is Communal Living itself, in a word through free dialog and exchange, one could have ones understandings criticized and even undermined by the various dialogs that take place. Through Community Living or a Network of Peoples, one can appreciate both the collective hunt for Truth as well as the Individual Perspectives regarding that search.

Compromise with Thomism

So How do I decide to make my compromise with Thomistic thought possible? Well I think the debate is best summed up in an even earlier Christian dialog between Dionysius the Aeropagite and the world he found himself in. Dionysius found himself in the Philosophic Greco-Roman World, and it was debated as well whether the Earlier Christian simply took from the various philosophies around them to make the Faith or if spirituality emerged out of mystical experiences from the Christians themselves, who then used their mystical experiences to fine tune the philosophies they found around them. The end of the Article found on Monachos best describes my position as well when it was written that,

“The present discussion on the question of philosophical versus mystical theology in the Dionysian corpus must eventually reach this very conclusion: Dionysius admits of both, and indeed strongly praises both, as each valid at its own place and time in an individual’s spiritual progression. One without the other would leave the journey incomplete: Moses could not reach the darkness at Sinai’s peak without first embarking on its ascent, and an individual cannot truly negate what he has not previously affirmed. In the spiritual journey they are tools which must be used together if the end is finally to be reached. The interrelation of the philosophical and experiential ways in the thought of Dionysius is testimony to this multi-dimensional reality of human knowing.”


My conclusion of this paper ought to serve as a reminder to what I wrote at the beginning of this paper and that is, “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.” So to expand on this, first “I am not perfect” I am all to aware of my spiritual passions [Christian understanding of Greek Pathos or Suffering, you can find this word in Psychopathology], and therefore my own addictions to repeatedly do wrong, yet afterwards I am also filled not merely with a sense of guilt but a sense of lifelessness and emotional detachment from the fullness of life. Secondly, “I live in the world and have no Holy Vocation” I do not live in a monastery far from the world, I live in suburbia and the values are different and it is hard to try to live out the principles for which I believe in, therefore the potential to fall short abounds, and I desire to still be in the world but train myself to not be of the world.

However, what keeps me coming back is, “just a simple desire to know my Creator” and that simple desire is rooted in Love, then in Faith and Hope. Despite my wrongs I comeback to Him, not out of fear but out of a genuine desire to know Him and heed His Lessons in how to know Him. Therefore, my resemblance to the Dominican Order is Very Limited exactly because of my personal awareness of Sinfulness and awareness of wrongs, shortfalls, missing the mark, straying off the path, and sufferings as well as my desire to still live in the world. However, my simple desire to Know my Creator is based on Genuine Search for Him out of Love as well as a desire to not be of this world, in my mind it intrigues me to know this All-Loving Being exactly because I can keep coming back to Him regardless of how many times I genuinely fall short.


Posted September 12, 2011 by jimbo9889 in Spiritual Autobiography

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