My monastic journey started some years ago, while I was completing my senior year in college. I started reading the Rule of St. Benedict and looking at traditional (first order) monasticism. While still being unsure about how to go about this in the Anglican tradition, let alone the continuing Anglican movement. But then I meet my wife and saw that God was not calling me to the celibate life.
So after a time I learned of the Third Order and started my monastic search again. This time looking at several different monastic orders. One that really caught my eye and interested me was the Dominicans or Order of Preachers. Not because I thought I was supposed to be a preacher (at least not in the way that many people think of preachers). What drew my eye to the Dominicans (other than the obviously cool fashion: a black cape [who could not pass up the opportunity to be like Batman]) was the aspect of studying going hand-in-hand with prayer. Or in some cases making study a type of prayer. I also really liked that they started with a mission to convert heretics back to the catholic faith.
Now I know that St. Benedict says that all work starts with prayer and anything that the monk does he should be praying as he does it/lifting it up to the Lord as prayer. So that even in my Benedictine life my day job, spending time with my family, my study, my play time should be an act of prayer to the Lord. That is the ideal; it is really hard to live that out in my day-to-day life. It just seemed like the Dominican life style would make it a lot easier to justify studying as time spent in prayer.
I also think, at least in the past, the Dominicans did better about sharing their study and insight. Living as friars they were forced to be in the world. They did not just build a wall around themselves and get to spend all their time writing in a journal or focused on the inner path to God. As preachers they were able and somewhat forced to share their studies with those around them. Not that Benedictines or other cloistered monastics did not share their insights, they did but it was a little more uncommon or it might be a long time before some of their works got out into the world.
However, I think that the beauty of the Company of Jesus with being a blended order of Benedictines and Franciscans helps each branch to get to live out some of the good parts of each chrism. Both groups get to experience what it is like to be a friar, because most of us live in the world. But both also might get to take a retreat to the monastery because we have one of those now. We can/should try to combine the good from Benedict’s life and work with the good from Francis’ life and work. I think we could go further and add in some of the Carmalite, Dominican, and Augustinian traditions too, and most of us do probably without knowing it.