Oh Lord, purify me, make me a chalice in which you dwell, offer your sacrifice in me and spread your love through me. Let me shine like gold, adorn me with the jewels of virtue that I may always be open to you. Fill me. Overflow me. Let me be like that most perfect vessel, the Singular Vessel of Devotion, She to whom I cry for protection against the Evil One. I ask this for your glory, for the vessel is nothing without the sustenance inside, the cup nothing unless it is filled. Oh Lord, purify me.

Give me a word, Abba

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Admiration and Application

"More admired the monks' chanting of the Divine Office, but the fullness of the Office and the singing of it were viewed as too much for a man still engaged in the temporal order."--Source

The name of this blog is "Third Order", the URL is "holy in the world." I'm sure I've talked about this before and I'm sure I'll talk about it again, but I'm pretty sure I'm called to a lay vocation, one "in the world, not of it." Presumably this means a call to marriage, although I suppose it could in some way mean a consecrated celibate life. Personally I'm hoping for the former, though at this point there are no immediate prospect. The vista is, so to speak, less like a greek theatre and more like a medieval road (which has been described as "tortuous" by my architectural history professor...no comment.)

But St. Thomas More is my patron, and who can go wrong in this third order life with him on their side? He was a great man of prayer who spent four years with the Carthusians and developed a love of the Liturgy of the Hours. He, like me, had vocational clarity. He, like me was in many ways an intellectual, but was also a family man. He was, in other words, my ideal role model.

I would like to touch on one or two things before I wrap up this post. One is More's love of the monastic. I spent four days with some Cistercian monks, praying, painting, walking, resting. I woke up at 3 am just as More woke up at 2. It was probably the best week of my life. I decided right then that it was not for me. Those glimpses of heaven that come through the monastic life are glimpses that I relish when they come along, but it is something that elevates my mind to God in a very specific way. C.S. Lewis might call it Joy. It certainly is painful at times. Listening to medieval chant, waking in the early morning, hearing the single bell toll for the morning prayer, a chapel built with the hands of the monks in the style of medieval europe. All this is an experience that that I grasp at. But I remember that it is not in the experience, but in what it calls me to. And it calls me to God, to worship the All Powerful. The Father. And He calls me to be like Him, to be a father. He calls me to take up the example of the Cistercians, not to become one. He calls me to infuse my life with prayer, not necessarily to pray the seven Hours. He calls me to something else than the monastic, but my love of the monastic isn't dividing my life but rather infusing it with the fulness of what it means to be a reflective Christian in love with Beauty. To call it an aesthetic appreciation is not quite accurate. It is like when you notice something in a building and you say "Now that is brilliant" and decide to use it in your design. If I am truly called to an active life in the world, the contemplative interior life is a part of it that I cannot afford to leave out. It must in fact be fundamental. The Liturgy must be that from which my action springs. The public work of the Church must inspire my own public work so that it is united to the work of the Church and of Christ.

The second is the influence of More's father on his life. Both in the intellectual life and the personal life, Sir Thomas More was heavily indebted to his father, Sir John. The same is true of me. The education I received was one of the best I have ever heard of. I continually rave about it. Not only was it my father's (and mother's) intention to bring me up to be a thoughtful, intellectual, rational man, but also a prayerful one with two eyes on God (fortunately, I have two eyes in the back of my head, so I often use those. :P) My father taught me the value of books, the value of thinking, the value of feeling and the value of willing. He taught me how to work, how to play, how to create.

All of us kids have developed different interests and directions in life, but one thing is true, no matter what we do, the foundation laid in our education informs everything we do.

Anyway, I think I chose the right patron saint. I have become even more inspired by More after reading the article I linked to above. You should read it.

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