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Wednesday, 28 November 2012

On the solitary life and Suarez--perfection series continued

Thanks, Wiki

Suarez continues his examination of the types of solitaries, and I felt a small bit of gratification in that he points out that the domestic solitary, that is the isolated lay person has no merit in being solitary, unlike the religious. Let me explain, as this fits into my long posts on the fact that there is not a vocation to the single life as a usual state.

Vows bring grace. No vows, no extra grace. Vows bring a status in the hierarchy of the Church and indicate that one is committed to becoming perfect.

Here is the rub for the lay person. The ordinary way for our perfection is through domestic relationships-that is, dying to self and rising to Christ by the denial of self in marriage as a spouse and as a parent. This is why I went to the Benedictines. In a religious order, one had vowed one's self in becoming perfect. In marriage, one vows one's self to becoming perfected in the marriage state.

No vows, no extra grace and no vocation, except, rarely, as in the caring for aged parents. The protection that SHOULD be in the monastery or convent in order to pursue holiness is a huge advantage, as is the state itself.  The "continuous inflow of obedience, the support of other brethren by means of their example and correction, other works of charity, may occasions of exercising all the virtues, especially those of humility  and charity, great custody and vigilance in the pursuit of perfection and the avoidance of defects..." help the nun or monk in ways we must experience to understand to a point.

However, I am convinced by the great saints and writers that the laity may aspire to these as well.

Patterns of sin so common in the world are broken in the monastery or convent.

But, in an excellent marriage, those same patterns may be broken. But, living alone does not help us reach perfection.

It is, as a young person with a room-mate told me recently, hard to live in peace and harmony with others. Yes, and that is the whole point.

If one can give one's entire soul, heart and mind to God being alone, that is a beginning. But one must interact with others in order to die to self-love and self-will. May God lead us all to the place where we can live out the vocation to perfection.

1 comment:

Jon said...


I realized you were back yesterday after having seen you post "out there in the world." I had discovered you (I don't know if you recall - I'm a friend of Henry Edwards), just days before you took your two month plunge.

For the selfish sake of enjoying your wonderful blog, I'm glad you've returned. But I'm saddened that the vocation didn't work out. I have to admit that I don't quite agree with age being the factor. I don't know how old you are, but I'm fifty, and have spent many days at a time with a spartan monastery of Maronites up in northern New England. During the winter we rise at 4:50, pray Lauds in the ice cold but exquisite chapel, stay for adoration, then Mass, before finally leaving for breakfast. The day is filled with work and interspersed with return to the chapel for the remainder of the Office until Compline about nine. I thrive on it, and miss it mightily when I leave. Of course my dear wife of 23 years and my 2 teenage sons would probably be delighted should I stay, but that's another story. Anyway, should the circumstance exist, I have to say I could take to that life in a moment, like a duck born to water. And believe it or not, I'm much more pliable in personality and habit now than I was 25 years ago.

You also mentioned in your earlier posts that the closest thing laymen have to the Rule is the Beatitudes. That's not true, as you know. I, for one, am an Oblate of Father Kirby's monastery in Meath (I'm in Pennsylvania). I try to live my life in compliance with the Holy Rule as consistent with my station in life. There are many wonderful, traditional works written to assist the Oblate in doing just that. And of course there are other Third Orders who provide their members in the world the guideposts of the cloister.

I can't help but guess that you couldn't have developed such an affinity for Benedictine life, and the Tyburn nuns in particular, without becoming an Oblate of their monastery. But whether you are or not, I'd love to see you incorporate Oblate/Third Order life into one of these posts on perfection, as I think it would be very helpful and very worth reading.

In the meantime, welcome back, and please know that both you and your son are in my prayers.