Thursday, 27 February 2014


As I continue to discern what vocation is, I consider that, generally speaking, the two areas that appeal to me most are the academic life and the monastic life. Perhaps some combination thereof. I am very much drawn to the academic life, first of all, having a strong inclination to subjects like philosophy and theology; also loving to study the history, theology, and spirituality of Catholic liturgy. If I were to choose this option, I am certain that my interests would center around these main subjects. 

The monastic life, on the other hand, very strongly appeals to the melancholic side of my temperament (plus, it can involve a lot of good liturgy). I have always had a dominant melancholic side which inclines me to seek solitude and seclusion from the word. In recent years this side of my personality has developed and deepened to the point where, sometimes, even the academic life loses its appeal to me. The academic life is, in a sense, more worldly than the life of a monk, even as it can set one apart from the rest of the world. Sometimes it becomes almost too tedious to think worth pursuing, if I can retire to a monastery out in the wilderness and spend the remainder of my life in prayer and contemplation.

Of course, never having actually been a monastic, I am sure that I am unaware of how difficult the monastic life itself really is. I have no doubt that it is in many respects much more difficult, spiritually, than even the academic life; but it is hard for a personality like my own to be consciously aware of this all the time. Nonetheless, the prospect of life entirely and directly devoted to God, of being completely set apart from all the distractions and obstacles that the world might pose for my spiritual life cannot but very strongly attract me.

There have been saints who have managed a happy combination of these two ways of life, in some form. St. Thomas Aquinas himself was academically accomplished to a degree far beyond the hopes of most men, and yet was also deeply imbued with precisely the contemplative spirit lived by the cloistered monks in their monasteries. It is possible. Perhaps that is the road for me?

And of course, there is the question of whether I am called to the religious life or not, in the first place. As a layman I would be very likely to devote my life to academics. This is also possible as a secular priest in the world, and even, perhaps, as a contemplative monk. Similarly, it is not impossible, as a layman or priest, to devote my life also to contemplative prayer and seclusion from the world. But it seems that, most practically speaking, the highest degree of seclusion is most easily attainable only in the monastic life, and the highest degree of academic scholarship in the secular priesthood or the laymen. I am pulled to both sides of that spectrum; and even on the latter side, I must discern if I am called to the priesthood at all or to the married life or any other life.

So for now, as always thus far, I must keep on praying (and studying). 


  1. I've definitely thought about it. Benedictines also appeal to me strongly; but the Dominicans are definitely the academic ones.

  2. The appeal of the Benedictines, especially in their classic observance, would seem natural to your temperament, as expressed in your blog. If you were to discern a vocation, would you be drawn more to an established community or would you consider a new foundation?

  3. I would have to admit that I am personally attracted to more established communities, but I am definitely not closed to newer communities. We need more of them, after all, and I am all for restoring them to the Church and maybe even helping to do so myself in whatever small way.