The Benedictines… because that’s where I landed after Wabash. I got a job in the monastery, and I blended in. It was serendipitous and a crap shoot, but I can honestly say the Franciscans, Dominicans and Jesuits never interested me much. On the other hand, the Benedictine reform orders– Carthusians and Cistercians– and the Carmelites form the ‘contemplative’ orders and are more up my alley. Thomas Merton. Bernard of Clairvaux. The Carmelite mystics.
It’s a matter of: what do you want? For me, I want refuge, an axis mundi, a rock and foundation. The Benedictine order is orienting in a modern world of many crosswinds. Ora et Labora. Work hard, and don’t forget to just pray. Not praying while serving the poor, not praying while driving, but prayer on it’s own and without any competition for attention. The still mind that arises in prayer in the morning is the one worth cultivating all day.
I am infuriated when I hear people half-heatedly say that all religions “try to get to the same place.” They don’t, and the only people who think that are those who are not part of any religion, twats with “COEXIST” bumper stickers. But you can say that all Catholic religious orders try to get to the same place– that is, beatitude. Therefore, certain orders correspond with the way individual men mirror Christ by their talents and passions. I am intrigued by the vast majority of Christ’s life– the unwritten part–which we reverently hold to be a time of private prayer, of hard work as a carpenter, of familial loyalty. Because I want to imitate Christ in that mode, I have found the Benedictines to be the order which lends itself towards that particular holistic vision of the devout life.
I read this at some point in the past decade: