First of all, I already know the joke about Albigensians. ;)
So, now that that's out of the way, hello, I am yet another twentysomething who is considering the possibility that he might be called to some form of religious life.
I am currently about halfway through my PhD, and it is becoming increasingly clear to me that, even though I genuinely enjoy my chosen career, I need to be more. I love being a seeker of truths and I look forward to be a teacher, but that's not enough: it seems as if I am - well, I do not know if "made" is the correct term, but that's the one that comes to my mind - made to be of Truth, to be a fountain of Truth for the world, and ultimately, up to the degree to which a human being can be Truth, to be Truth Itself.
I am expressing myself very badly, but that is a most peculiar feeling: the closest analogy I can think of is the sensation when you discover and write down the proof of a theorem for the first time, but in this case it's as if you were the theorem and Someone was writing you down.
Yeah, I am absolutely terrible at similes. :)
In any case, I plan to finish my PhD first, and to use this couple of years to make my mind clear and to start preparing myself for whatever I might be supposed to do - my prayer life, in particular, could definitely use some improvement. But no time like the present for starting to consider possibilities, right?
I am positive that study is going to be a central part to my vocation, no matter if it is going to be to married life or to some form of religious life: I am at my happiest when I have a bunch of strange books on my table and some intriguing open problems to solve, and I have long noticed a strong correlation between my spiritual health and the productivity of my studies (devil's advocate time: this might well be caused by some form of self-suggestion rather than by anything truly spiritual. But still, it seems that, as far as I am concerned, study and prayer are linked together very tightly). Hence, assuming that I am truly called to religious life, it seems that some "scholarly" order might be the most appropriate to me.
In the past I have attended some public lectures organized by Dominicans, and I remember their cultural preparation being astonishingly good. Moreover, I like what I have read so far about Dominican spirituality, and even my current research interests are quite connected with the Dominican Order: I work with some recent developments of formal logic which can be seen as an attempt to recover within the modern mathematical framework some of the key insights of Scholasticism, and of course the Dominicans are the undisputed masters of Scholastic Logic!
Further, this is going to be a bit silly, but my parents met each other in a Dominican prayer group: it feels like there would be something, well, proper in me joining the order to which I owe my very existence... ;)
However, I do not want to get too ahead of myself. The other academia-focused order I know of is the Society of Jesus, and even though I have had no personal contact with it so far I know that it is highly prized for the theological and scientific contributions of its members. Also, the autobiography of Saint Ignatius Loyola was a most fascinating read, the little I have read so far of the Spiritual Exercises is definitely impressive, and I know for a fact that Jesuits used to wear some very cool hats. :)
So, what I am wondering about is, what are the main differences between Jesuit and Dominican life and spirituality? I know that the Jesuits are clerks regular whereas the Dominicans are friars: what does imply precisely, in particular with respect to their common life and to their duties towards the Church and the World?
Also, is there any other group I should give a thought about?