Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Retrospeculation is most certainly not a word, but you're going to have to bear with me until I find a better portmanteau of "retro-" (meaning backward-looking) and introspection.

I was thinking about the various reasons I started looking into Catholicism specifically a few years ago, and I noticed a pattern I wanted to share. Throughout my life, I have been rather fascinated with monastic practice; the idea that a life could be devoted to the pursuit of Spiritual Outcome X at the expense of all other experiences. Monasticism is a surprisingly common practice and the goals are commonly the same (if the motivations aren't somewhat different). Whether we're talking Christian or Buddhist, a monk is usually striving toward serenity, wisdom, compassion, and virtue (the different religions tend to value different virtues, mind you). Lives of poverty are often encouraged. All in all, the idea is to live one's Faith more directly.

I wonder though if monasticism genuinely must be cloistered. After all, if Buddhist monks, Carthusians, and Benedictines all wall themselves up, maybe there's something to the idea of running away from the world. I wondered if there wasn't a happy medium, and I found it, in a way, in the Franciscan order.

Well, not really, but it's the closest anyone's come to that balance yet. Mostly, I just envy monks their discipline. It's something I lack, to be frank, and I never really figured out why. I seemed to have it, for a little while. I wonder what changed.

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