"The vow of *conversatio morum* implies an intention and
desire to seek and to find God in the monastic life...in its
traditional wholeness, simplicity, and purity...as soon as the
vow of *conversio morum* is interpreted in the light of authentic
tradition, its inner meaning begins to be apparent. It is an
awakening to the sound of God's voice, calling us to the path
of life, to the way of humility and obedience..."
[Thomas Merton, MYSTICS & ZEN MASTERS, 1961, p. 156.]
Comment: The great Trappist believed that once we understood
*Conversio Morum," as interpreted in the light of authentic
tradition, intimating the monastic life, all will become apparent.
And he said, also, outside this authentic tradition that the
"calling" might be misunderstood, leaving a person tangled
At first I was inclined to dispute this approach by Merton, but
upon second thought I am now disposed to believe that he
might have been right.
I believe that in some unique way that everyone in this world
is "called" to their own particular path of life. But like the famous
Seeds Parable of Jesus, well that calling drops on different kinds
of soil. Some of the seeds are able to unfold successfully unto
their fullness, other seeds only measured by the circumstances,
and some die upon arrival.
The easy answer to this is to blame the person who cannot
bring forth their "calling". However, a deeper question might be
how aware is one to this calling, how much value do they place
In this world of ours today, the seeds of calling might die
outright because of ignorance. Merton recognizes that there
is a need for structure that enhances a person's awareness to
their sense of calling.
I don't necessarily believe that "authentic tradition" has to be
the monastic life when it comes to understanding more clearly
one's sense of calling, but it does seem need being enhanced
within a certain context.
Speaking for myself, before I moved more into a monastic
understanding of life, I embarked on a life that emphasized
Nobility. No not inherited nobility, but rather a life nobly lived.
As to where I got such ideas, they came from a structure
called Classical Philosophy--i.e., Platonism and Stoicism,
both based on Virtue.
I've been told by some Benedictines that forever so long,
the Order's monks have honored Classical Philosophy. Indeed
the Benedictines retrieved lost pagan books from the Muslims,
and saved them by copying them in their scriptoriums. It wasn't
only philosophy, but also naturalist and medical manuals that
they saved. And over time these earlier medieval Benedictines
started incorporating Classical Wisdom into their own spiritual
But I digress! In the final analysis, I do believe it more profitable
following one's calling through a structure that can carry it forth.
Just a tidbit here, if I may. I once heard a football coach actually
talk about his particular calling that led to his personal vocation,
and within the NFL he found the structure in which to unfold the
seeds of his calling unto their fullness.