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So I discovered last month or so the VISION vocation network. Though the site itself is a bit unwieldy, the offerings they have are very helpful. They have a questionnaire to match your desires, history, and personality to compatible religious orders. They have a directory of many, many religious orders out there for you to search. They have links to a vocations magazine, which I will talk about in my next blog post. But today, I want to talk about their Spirituality quiz. Or more specifically, the Spirituality Types they categorize you in based on the quiz.
Just a mere 14 questions, the quiz is a ranking one: you get four character traits to each question and you have to rank them based on how similar they are to you. For example the first question asks you to rank how much you are independent, compassionate, spontaneous, or factual.
The types are split into four categories, and I think they are probably thorough enough. Contrary to popular thought, they do not categorize you into things like contemplative, charismatic, devotional, liturgical. That is to say, their goal is not to identify the style of your prayer, but merely to categorize the four primary ways people pray and connect to God. The four are:
1) Path of Intellect (Thomistic) 
2) Path of Devotion (Augustinian)
3) Path of Service (Franciscan)
4) Path of Asceticism (Ignatian)


You can click on the link to view all the descriptions. 

Do I know myself? (continued)


I was rather surprised when I took the quiz yesterday and was categorized into the Path of Service. I do like to serve others as a way of loving, but when I read the description I found it a bit…well…here it is:
PATH OF SERVICE (Franciscan prayer): About 38 percent of the population is this spiritual type-—but far fewer of this type come to church regularly.
Like Saint Francis of Assisi, those who follow this path must be free, unconfined, and able to do whatever their inner spirit moves them to do. They don't like to be tied down by rules. One thinks of Saint Peter impetuously jumping into the water to join Jesus as a typical action of this type.
Franciscan spirituality leads to acts of loving service which can be a most effective form of prayer. The gospel stories about Jesus have a special appeal, particularly the Incarnation of God in the life of Jesus, which is the center around which Franciscan life and spirituality revolve. Franciscan prayer is flexible and free-flowing making full use of the five senses; it is spirit-filled prayer.
Those on this path can make a meditation on the beauty of a waterfall, flower, meadow, mountain, or ocean—all of God's creation. There is more stress in prayer on the events of Jesus' life rather than his teaching. Like Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, prayer is done with total concentration as if it is the most important thing to be doing at this moment. Thérèse did all tasks knowing that each was a part of the total harmony of the universe.


So it is a beautiful way to pray. But I am NOT part of the population that does not regularly go to church. I was imagining a very new age style of prayer life after reading this. Like prayer for hippies or prayer for social justice crazies. I like rules…I don't like being tied down by them, but I like that they give me a routine. And yes, my sanguine personality is much like Peter, my greatest weaknesses are changefulness, laziness, and procrastination. I do love Luke's gospel and all the stories of the Incarnation…that incredible "fulness-of-time" moment when God became man. And when I do imagine my conversations with God, they almost always happen in the woods, or in a field, or by a lake…somewhere in nature.
But then I thought, "Maybe I don't know myself? Maybe this means I'm supposed to join a Franciscan order?" So far, my thoughts have been to pursue a Dominican order and two orders with no specific charism of spirituality (Dominican, Franciscan, Carmelite, or Benedictine, etc.)
Then I took the quiz again and was categorized into the Path of Devotion. I will admit that these two spiritualities are the ones I think I most identify in my current prayer life and personality. And I guess it could be said that the Path of Devotion is more my goal spirituality, that is, the way I want my prayer to be shaped, whereas the Path of Devotion could be said to be my natural spirituality, that is, the path that my personality and character is most responsive to or likely to engage in.
Well, this was a bit longer post than I wanted. I am trying to keep them shorter rather than longer. Blog posts should not require more attention than ten to fifteen minutes of time, in my opinion. But I think the conclusion I have reached based on this quiz is that I DO know myself, and I know that there is always room to grow and no quiz is going to "box me in", rather it will simply allow me to better acknowledge who I am and how I pray so I can make less ignorant choices about how to live my life and connect to God. I guess this is actually the way I think about every personality, character, temperament, or lifestyle assessment I've ever taken. It is never perfectly accurate, because we human beings are always in pursuit of bettering ourselves and therefore there is no "static" version of ourselves that can be assessed with complete accuracy. Assessment ought only to make us better informed so as to take more confident action toward our ideals.
 


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