[quote="Young_Thinker, post:4, topic:205831"]
I would like to add ...
YT, this is a good point. Also, before the rise of the mendicant orders, it was natural that the secular clergy staffed the universities. There is nothing inimical with being bound to a diocese and also having an academic mission. For instance, it is likely that your diocesan seminary will need professors.
The problem is more of a question of likeliness, and I'm not sure that in America that diocesan priests have much of a chance of hitting a 'university track' by means of the diocesan priesthood.
Salve, dear friend.
Recently, I've been considering the priesthood (note: not necessarily brotherhood (monks)), but I am torn between diocesan priesthood or religious priesthood. I suppose it doesn't matter in the end as they both end to ordination, but I want to know what is most like me.
Oh, but it does matter in the end. Religious life and secular life are two different callings. Any religious order will want to know that you have a calling, not only to priestly life, but also to religious life. They are two distinct callings! You'll need to be able to account for both if you discern with a religious order.
To inflame your soul toward religious life... read St. Thomas Aquinas on what religious life is. He calls it a complete holocaust of the self to God.
So I was wondering: what are specific characteristics of religious orders (i.e. Dominicans, Jesuits, etc)?
The Dominicans are formally known as the Order of Preachers. Their charism is to spread sacred Truth, especially by preaching and teaching. The Dominicans live a life in communal prayer, including singing the office together. The Dominican motto-- or at least one of their mottoes-- is contemplare et contemplata aliis tradere, to contemplate and share the fruits of contemplation. The sense is that what one receives from God in prayer and study, one may then impart to souls who need it. At the center of the Dominican charism is zeal for souls who need to know God's saving truth and His mercy, and in which direction all of its religious life is aimed as a means to an end. Indeed, the Dominican constitutions made a unique provision in religious life-- dispensation from the rule may be granted for the sake of the mission.
The Society of Jesus is well known as a 'militant' or military order. Specifically so that it may be free to do whatever apostolate calls it, the Jesuits have no obligation to say the divine office in common. Their motto is ad majorem Dei gloriam, to the greater glory of God.
Both orders have had a strong presence in the universities since their inceptions.
Perhaps it'd help if I describe my interests and hobbies, to help narrow it down. I'm a scholar, and have always loved research (to the point of obsessiveness); I am double-majoring in History and Philosophy at a Liberal Arts college, and I tackle both topics with obsessive vigor. I love reading, deep thinking, and essentially anything metaphysical. Aristotle, Plato, St. Augustine, and St. Thomas Aquinas are those who have influenced me the most.
The Order of Preachers is St. Thomas's order. Give them a check out! I myself will be entering shortly, so give me a message in the next day or so if you'd like to ask me any questions. I'd like to hear where you go to college.
You should pick up a book or two on the Dominicans. Sr. Mary Jean Dorcy O.P. wrote a few good books which are still in print on the Dominicans... try St. Dominic which recounts Dominic and the early Order, and perhaps "St. Dominic's Family." A good contemporary theological and history biography of St. Dominic, if you can find it, is Guy Bedouelle O.P., "St. Dominic: The Grace of the Word." (ISBN 978-0-89870-531-7). It's better if you're already familiar with the basic Dominican stories, like in Sr. Mary Jean Dorcy's books. If you can't find it anywhere, either buy a copy through the Dominican Nuns of Summit NJ website (highly recommended!), or talk with the vocation director of the Eastern Province of Dominican Friars.
"The Lives of the Brethren" is the classic, but unobtainable, compilation of the stories of the early order. Give it a read through! It's online at that link.
I may be saying something controversial here, but since your interest seems to be mostly philosophy and theology-- stick with the Dominicans. I know the Jesuits are well known for this as well, but at this point in time, you're sure to drink from the stream of the Church's tradition in Dominican theology. Believe me, when it comes to things like ethics and moral theology (for instance, the incomparable Servais Pinckaers O.P.), the Dominicans are holding more fast to the Church's tradition. Even when it comes to more traditional philosophy, I suspect you'll be more likely to get it from the Dominicans than from the Jesuits (but I'd love to be pleasantly surprised). Plus, the Dominicans have a university that is faithful to the Church's magisterium (see Providence College's recent inclusion on the "Newman" list of faithful schools), but the Jesuits are still recovering, despite their many universities, from the wackiness of the 60s, 70s and 80s.
Plus, it's easy to get an advanced degree in philosophy or theology from the Dominicans, if that's what you're in for. So don't worry too much about that.