1995, Serial No. 00131

Audio loading...

Welcome! You can log in or create an account to save favorites, edit keywords, transcripts, and more.



AI Suggested Keywords:


Rule of Benedict Novice Class # 1 - 1990s

AI Summary: 





And I'd like to use once again the section from Consider Your Call, so I'll Xerox that and give you a copy of it. It's not as long as this one. And our next session will be next Friday, a week from today, because there are too many things going on early in the week, with Recreation Day and so on. So Friday, November 3rd, we'll have Monastic Obedience, and so I'll get the Xerox to you early enough so you'll have time to read it before then. And then we'll just have two more of these sessions after that, and they'll both be the following week, Tuesday and Friday, as the schedule stands, unless something else happens. And that will be on poverty and instability. Okay, this time you have that long Xerox section, which Venera was kind enough to copy for us. And there's an awful lot in it, it's impossible to do justice to even a part of it in just


an hour. But let's go through, and hoping that you have read it, I'll go through it quickly and invite you to raise questions when you want to talk about something, okay, when you want to discuss something. So what I'll do is try to do a kind of vocal outline of it, and just bring up the points as possible opportunities for discussion. First of all, on the first page, 154, he gives you a brief historical overview, and why celibacy is not even mentioned as a monastic vow, because it's understood. It's understood, excuse me, just instinctively at the heart of monastic profession, but also more specifically under the vow of conversion of life, understood that way by Benedictines. We don't know whether Saint Benedict would have thought of it quite in that way. And then the different ways in which chastity expresses itself. Chastity is a universal Christian virtue, but it's one thing in married life, it's another


thing in celibate life. And then the problem of today, to which he gives quite a bit of attention, in fact the next section will be on that, when both there's a crisis of celibacy, as is obvious in all kinds of ways. You could say that there's a crisis about sexuality in the Church today, among Catholics. Remember Hamane Vitae, remember the whole issue of birth control, abortion, the emergence of the feminist movement, and then the crisis of celibacy itself, and all the things that are happening in the priesthood, these pedophilia cases and all that, so all kinds of symptoms, the kind of toxic symptoms that have shown up in the past thirty years. And the many people who have abandoned priestly life and religious life as well. And at the same time there's new light coming, in other words there's an understanding which is emerging, he says, both from philosophy and from psychology, we hope eventually from theology as well, about the deep meaning of sexuality for humanity, but also it's got


an extremely deep meaning for Christianity, which I don't think the Church has really managed to bring out yet. And I don't pretend to be able to say much about that, only that the signs are there that perhaps the real understanding of sexuality is very close to the heart of Christianity itself, that is, to the meaning of Christianity, to what Jesus brings into this world. He doesn't bring sexuality into this world, and he doesn't liberate sexuality exactly. But there's a transformation of the human person, so that sexuality becomes not a drag against spirituality, but becomes something like the vitality of spirituality itself. And even the sexual image, the image of masculine and feminine, of male and female, is central to the whole history of salvation, and I think has to emerge that way again in Christianity, which it really hasn't done. It really hasn't emerged in a fully transformed way, I don't think, in Christianity.


It has on one side, as you consider the long spirituality of the Bride of the Word, the Word of God as spouse. That's from the time of Origen, it's in the New Testament, but then from the time of Origen up through St. John of the Cross, and that's the background, the basis of our Western spiritual theology. But what about the other side? What about the feminine side? Is the feminine side just the Church as the Bride of Christ, or is there more to it? Now, as the feminine side of humanity comes out, socially, you might say, and as the feminine side of the individual male person comes out, psychologically, you know, Jung, the anima, that whole thing, the anima is the doorway to male interiority. What about the feminine side in spirituality for men, for males? And in theology, what about the feminine side of God, ultimately? Some of the wilder feminist theologians write about that. And of course, our image of God is broadening too, as we realize that God can't be captured


in a single image. And that, as we recover our epithetic tradition, we also recover the possibility of that balance in which we are in touch, we are participating in God, not only through the masculine image of Christ, of Jesus, and of Father, but through a feminine image, which is maybe not so much an image, but a feminine participation in God, which I think we haven't had the, whatever you want to call it, to express up to now. But I think it's important for male celibacy. Okay, introduction, the contemporary problem, crisis in celibacy in the church, that's evident enough. And it's not merely, what would you call it, not merely decay, it's not merely infidelity, it's not merely restlessness and rebelliousness, there's something deeper going on. And then he's got that phrase on the top of the next page, a new problem about celibacy that no one had ever thought of before. There's something like that. In other words, something is happening in history, and is it just something falling apart, or is it something emerging, or is it both?


Is it some kind of shell falling apart and something else emerging from inside it, possibly? A crisis of the mind, not of the flesh. Certain philosophical currents. Now, I suspect, I'm sure that he's right here, but at the same time, I don't know that it's really the philosophical currents which produce these changes, but what produces the philosophical currents? In other words, is there historical evolution inside and underneath all of this, which expresses itself in, like, the philosophy of existentialism, and then expresses itself in about ninety other ways? And one of these being the whole issue of a crisis of celibacy, or new thinking about sexuality and celibacy. It doesn't matter too much. He mentions Freud first, and then the kind of centrality of the sexual drive, and that celibacy seems unnatural in a purely Freudian perspective, but that doesn't go very far. A lot of Freud's insights and his philosophical projections of them seem rather crude now,


as psychology gets more subtle. Then he talks about existentialism and the business of authenticity and living an authentic life and our being in perpetual growth, and is that compatible with a permanent commitment, say, to celibacy, or with a permanent commitment to one person in marriage, for that matter. But maybe celibacy makes it especially acute, the issue. It can be seen that the contractual aspect of a lifelong dedication to celibacy appears to many people irreconcilable with serious human living, but to block the possibility of personal growth and deeper content in the future. And then the personalist wing of existentialism, personalism tends to see everything in terms of interpersonal relationship and the growth of the person, the realization of the person in an interpersonal context. So to deprive yourself of that by abstaining from any kind of intense personal relationship of that kind, of the sexual kind, would seem to doom oneself, or deep relationships of


love would seem to doom oneself in some way to sterility, to a futile life. So there's a lot of that kind of thinking, a lot of that kind of feeling around, and so a presentation of celibacy today, of monastic celibacy, has to deal with it, has to be adequate to it, has to at least take it into account, and be able to give some kind of tentative answer to those questions, which is what he tries to do here. Then, anything about that before we go on, those things will come up again as he nears the end of his long treatment of celibacy. Notice there's over thirty pages here on celibacy, named Treatments of the Other Vows. And why is it? I think it's because sexuality cuts so deep into human nature, and therefore into the monastic reality itself, it raises deep, deep questions, deeper even than something like obedience or poverty. There's a lot deeper mystery in sexuality and celibacy, and I think also that the historical movement is such a mystery, and such an urgent mystery to us, that it demands a very thoughtful


treatment. Okay, there's not much in the rule about celibacy in R.B. 4, the fourth chapter, To Love Chastity, but that may be the general Christian virtue of chastity, it comes straight from the will of the Master. R.B. 72, Caritatem Fraternitatis Castae Impenna, that is, to live fraternal love chastely. I haven't translated it well, but it's approximately... That's pretty brief, and of course it's suggested, but that's all the quality of relationship between brothers. And then two other statements, which are nearly the same. In chapter 33, they should not even have their own bodies and wills at their own disposal, that kind of poverty. And another similar statement later on, will not have dominion even over his own body. Now, what does that mean? It sounds like 1 Corinthians 7.4, the wife does not have dominion over her own body. So it sounds like it has a sexual reference or allusion to it.


We're not sure. So there's not much, and the things that are about chastity or celibacy and the will are rather oblique, they're not head-on, and not complete nor entirely specific. So, he has to go further abroad to talk about the relationship of the will to celibacy, and he does that by talking first about communion, or community, and warm fraternal relationships, and that preferring absolutely nothing to the love of Christ. Now, that love of Christ, one of its meanings is obviously the koinonia, the communion of the community, and the shared relationships, which are not exclusive, not private. So an exclusive relationship there would seem to be preferring something to the love of Christ, that kind of ecclesial love, that koinonia, that communion. And then the issue of, excuse me, of purity of heart, which for Saint Benedict is connected


with prayer. So those are the two dimensions, you could say the vertical and the horizontal, the individual and the communal. And then this theological context, this long section, trying to dig up all the possibilities of a basis for celibacy in Christian monasticism. The first long section on sexuality and marriage in the Covenant Scripture, where there's a very positive treatment of sexuality, and in fact, remember that the image of God is man and woman, according to Genesis 1. And then that the movement towards the Messiah is tied up with regeneration, it's tied up with sexuality, it's tied up with the beginning of children. The expectancy of this one will come. And then the Song of Songs, and the image, the nuptial image for the relation of God


and his people, Israel. And then in the New Testament, the importance of the body and of flesh. Remember, Vagogini calls the flesh the hinge of salvation. That comes from Tertullian. Caro cardo salutas, the flesh is the hinge of salvation. Everything turns around the body of Christ. But when it turns around the body of Christ, in which he's crucified and risen, it turns around that insofar as we participate in it, insofar as we are the body of Christ. And the Eucharist, of course, is the essential connection there. So that can't be overemphasized. So to talk about sexuality is to be talking about the body, to talk about Christian salvation the theology of salvation, the paschal mystery is to talk about the body too. Now what's the relation between those two? You'll come back to that several times, and often through the link of the Eucharist. In other words, somehow the Eucharist has a deep relationship to sexuality and to salvation. This reality of the new body.


We move from a certain state of the body, the body which is oriented towards union of some kind, is oriented, remember, towards one flesh in the creation of man and woman in Genesis 2, to a new body in which we're once again one flesh, but this flesh is the risen flesh, the spiritual body of Christ. Okay, then celibacy in the scripture. In the Old Testament there's not much room for celibacy. There's one reference to Jeremiah. The barrenness is a curse. And then in the New Testament you've got St. Paul, particularly in 1 Corinthians 7 where he says that the married man, remember, has to be concerned with this world because he's got to please his wife, whereas the unmarried man is only concerned with pleasing the Lord. And I think that's got a deep truth to it, you know. That somehow marriage is an investment in this world, and the need to care for another person


in this way, in this world, somehow roots oneself in this world. And then the addition of children just solidifies it and increases it, whereas to be unmarried is at least potentially to be free for something else, free for not this order that is passing away, but free for the new order. And when Jesus talks about marriage and the resurrection, remember, it's in those terms. That somehow marriage belongs to this order that is passing away, and in the other order, in the other world, there isn't any marrying or being given in marriage. But they're like the angels of God. So, there's Paul and then there's Matthew 19, about the eunuchs, remember. There are those who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of God, as well as the other eunuchs. It's not a, what would you call it, a warmly received text today. It doesn't have exactly an encouraging ring about it, does it?


You know, that whole thing about those who are married are concerned about this world and those who are not married are free for the other world. And yet there's that whole reality that that other world is in this world. That's right. That's right. Yep. That's right. That's right. That's right. No, that's right.


That's one place where Paul does put the vertical against the horizontal, as if... But in other places, love is the only thing that counts, and he's not talking just about that vertical love, obviously, he's talking about horizontal love. I hadn't reflected on that, but it's very true. I think both sides are true. And it's a question of somehow bringing them both into, making them both explicit, and then looking at both of them. And in saying that, I'm not saying that that's an argument to negate celibacy, but rather that the freedom that celibacy gives does not say that the person does not need relationship. That's right. That's right. And also, it's there that one finds, I think, that new world order. That's right, yeah. I think it is possible to draw a careful line between, say, relationship, and then the whole, what do you call it, material accumulation


that is needed for marriage in some way. You have to establish a family, plants oneself in this world, and so on. So it goes beyond just pleasing a wife, doesn't it? There's much more to it, and especially when children are involved. It means making an establishment, a unit in this world with house, with this, with that, all of that. And so to have that is, I think, radically to weigh down that freedom. Some people can manage and be entirely free for the kingdom, but especially nowadays you hear about people who just spend their whole lives trying to make it. They don't have any freedom left for anything. So, the celibate life, in that sense, is a very privileged life. But relationship, and then that investment in this world that goes with marriage, I think can be distinguished. Then, I really like this part where he's been talking about Jesus saying about the eunuchs. And then, the third category of persons who are equally incapable


in consequence of something that has happened to them, namely the kingdom. Now, here, the word eunuch turns around like the irony of the parables. You know how the parables will flip around, so that you get the opposite? Like, the word eunuch has that terribly dampening sound. There's something about... Like the Fathers of the Church write that eunuchs are not to be considered for the priesthood or something like that because there's something missing. Because somehow that dynamism of sexuality has to be in the young person. They're not complete. And the word eunuch suggests that the dynamism isn't there at all. But it turns around here, in this interpretation, so that instead of that diminishment, there's a splendor. And the word eunuch then has that typically parabolic irony, a paradox about it, that you find in other expressions, like those hard masters and so on in the parables, or the foolish masters. The third category of persons who are equally incapable, they're eunuchs, in consequence of something that has happened to them, namely the kingdom.


See, there's the irony, there's where it flips around. The kingdom is something wonderful that's dawned on them. So, it's almost as if the need for that kind of generation, or that kind of union, has just been put to sleep by this absolute union which has come over them. If you read the Syrians, and especially remember Binkler's article on early asceticism in the Syrian church, that's what you get. That baptism was such an experience of fullness and unity for them, that the hunger, the sort of pit, the emptiness, that would have caused them to seek a completion in another person, just isn't there. Which doesn't mean that they're lifted out of relationship either, it just means that the relationship has changed. It's not a relationship from need any longer, or not in the same way. Now, that's the initial experience, both individually and also historically, in some way, you find in the early church. That initial fullness, which seems to make the other union unthinkable, so that for some of the Syrians in some of those churches to be baptized,


sort of committed to the celibacy, to an ascetical life. It seems crazy to us. But remember also, on the other side of it, that Paul will say, well, why am I different from the other apostles, from Peter and the other apostles? Remember Cephas? That can have a wife, or be accompanied by a woman. So, it's not necessarily so. In other words, it doesn't necessarily eliminate the other relationship. But for some people, it seems to make the other relationship inconceivable. Especially in the beginning. They can have their doubts later on. The parables of the treasure and the pearl. When a person finds something that's so wonderful, they go and they sell everything they have for that. In other words, it's kind of total dedication, it's total self-opening and emptying for that which they have discovered. And I think that's really what it's about. When the thing is at its best, right down the central line of the monastic location, that's what it is. Because of the kingdom of heaven is the same as because of me.


Because they have let the sheer joy of the kingdom possess them and fill their whole horizon. They just pick up and go with it. Okay, the motivations for Christian celibacy. And this is involved. He's got, first of all, the ambiguity of celibacy in our society. And people remain celibate for all kinds of reasons. Because they're a violinist, you know, or because they're a surgeon, or because they have some kind of profession that obliges them to move. Or they just don't have time for children. All kinds of reasons, people remain celibate. And often they remain celibate out of discipline. Or out of disappointment, or out of incapacity, or out of very unhappy and wounding relationships with people that just make them withdraw, which is not a positive issue. And then some people also, to be spiritual seekers. You'll find people in whom the spiritual quest is so central and so filling that they don't really have room for another relationship.


And that's getting close to the monastic thing. But he says, the Christian choice of non-marriage for the king was not a single simple reality. You'll find all kinds of motivations, all kinds of rationalizations, explanations. But the reality itself is, I think, something single and simple. It's the way that we think about it. The way that we explain it afterwards, it isn't. The basic Christian motives. Discipleship and purity of heart. Now, discipleship is this new communion. And it's both the fellowship with Jesus and the fellowship with one another. It's the new koinonia. Purity of heart is a kind of emptiness within the individual person, a kind of interior solitude, which is necessary in order to experience the interior unity. He talks about a fundamental unity, which is a consequence of Christ's redemption. And this requiring a certain emptiness.


In this way, the idea of giving up everything in order to be filled with that unity. Giving up everything that you have in order to have nothing but the one thing which you are, and which is also Christ, which is also God. I think that's in the parables. This is the purity of heart of which the early monks spoke and is described in St. Benedict's 7th chapter. So he's equating purity of heart with integrity. Martin's a good resource on this kind of issue. The integrity of the self, the oneness of the self, the unity of the self. Remember that work of his on... What's the name of it? Was it the monastic experience? The interior experience that we used in the contemplative prayer class. That's the basic image there. There is the integrity of the self and participation in the oneness of God. So purity of heart is just another name for that. Purity of heart is like the negative, or the negative way,


the apophatic way, you could say, of expressing that positive quality of unity. And that's what the monastic life is about, I think, very deeply. But not everybody will think of it in that way. That's more the introvert way of thinking of it. I think the communion, the community aspect, the discipleship, the fellowship would be more the extrovert way. But both of them should have some significance for each one of us. The outflow of this integrity from the center of the person is chastity. So that's beautiful. Once again, recall the baptismal experience and that fullness which they experienced. The fullness is also an integrity, a simple unity, which doesn't need anything anymore. Therefore, it's not inclined to establish bonds for the sake of fulfilling a need. It may establish relationships for other reasons, in that fellowship, that koinonia, but there isn't any hole to be filled. Whereas there is, usually, in the question of relationship


with the opposite sex. The threat to both discipleship and purity of heart is idolatry. And idolatry either, for instance, of the other person, of the relationship, the romantic fantasy, the romantic relationship, romantic love, which Robert has talked about fairly often, where the other person is expected to fulfill all of your needs, is expected to become a complete life for you, and which is very disappointing afterwards. That's one kind of idolatry. The other person is deified in the wrong way. I think the other person should be deified in a certain way, because love, actually, and romantic love itself, is a glimpse of the glorified person, a glimpse of the transfigured person, which has a very real place. But then that has to be somehow brought into... It needs the apophatic thing, to see beyond the person as well, and to realize that that's just a glimpse, and that we can't walk on that level.


And that celibacy itself can become an idol. I don't think you see that so often in male religious life or monastic life. It would be more common in women's communities, and especially where the consecration of virgins, I think, has been taken with extreme seriousness, or where the status of nun, the status of virgin, has been, what would you call it, dramatized, and worshiped to such an extent that the whole ego is attached to it, collectively and individually. And then he talks about two attitudes towards celibacy here. One he calls functional, in which celibacy is a means towards your goal. The other he calls marital, in which celibacy actually identifies with the goal itself in some way. It's like realized eschatology.


It's this fullness that we were talking about, where chastity is the outflow from the center of the person, or celibacy in this case would be the outflow from the center of the person, from what has been experienced, what has been realized. There's already a taste of the final kingdom, whereas in the first one you're walking towards it. And that requires the freedom that is celibacy. They don't experience their celibacy precisely as intrinsic to that relationship, but rather as a means to an end. Now, that's especially true for priests, okay? He's not talking about priests, he's talking about monks here, but that's especially true for priests, many of whom resent the fact that they have to be celibate in order to be priests, because they don't see any connection between that and what they're doing, that and the essence of their priestly vocation. For a monk, that shouldn't be so, to the same degree. It shouldn't entirely be so. There may be a conflict, but there should be some of this second aspect, the marital aspect, some of that should be experienced. That is the deep relationship between celibacy,


between the singleness and the goal, actually, of the monastic life, and some kind of experience of that already. Not that that shouldn't be in a priestly vocation, but it rarely is. Any questions or discussion about that before we move on? There's an awful lot there. We could spend years on this. Okay, now, he then specifies four different lines of thought, four different biblical or New Testament interpretations, let us say, of celibacy. The first one is the example of Jesus, and that Jesus' virginity, how that expresses his total relationship with his father, his total self-gift. And also, the way that that's connected with poverty, with homelessness, insecurity, marginality, and also with pastoral freedom, and a freedom for universal friendship. But Jesus could be the same for everybody, because he wasn't tied to one.


There was no exclusive ring of relationship for him, so that the rest of us would be in a secondary or lesser kind of intimacy with him. And then he talks at some length about Jesus' relationship with women. Now, there, of course, what he's doing is, he's getting beyond his subject a little bit, I think, and talking about how this should be reflected in the life of the celibate monk, that same kind of integration and ease of relationship and positivity with the feminine. He must have completely accepted and integrated his own sexuality, only a man who has done so, or at least begun to do so, can relate properly to women. The only trouble with that is, it's very hard to know what is meant by completely accepting and integrating our own sexuality. It's a puzzle. I think probably we only understand what that means after we've done it or something, because it's not obvious. Those are words that only gradually open themselves, I think.


They're only open from the after side, not from the before side. Although people can help us and point us, I think, in the right direction. And it's by no means easy. Okay, secondly, Sacrificing the Paschal Mystery. The title is almost self-explanatory, and it follows directly in the line of the first one, because this is the termination of Jesus' life. But it was already there all along the road of his journey. Now, he tries to obviate a mistake here. That is, the idea that something is valuable to the extent that it feels bad. That something is like the bad medicine thing, you know. This tastes real bad and it's real good for you. And to the extent that something is painful, it's meritorious and good. And there's been a lot of that in the past centuries. There's very little of it around now, but there's been a lot of it around in past centuries in the religious life. In Trappist life, for instance. But not only. That absolutizing of the spirituality of the cross.


The heart of sacrifice is not destruction, but making over to God. It's also not pain, you know. We can get so we think that pain can turn into a terribly inverted kind of spirituality and psychology, because we can't operate that way. We can't run on pain. It's like asking an engine to run on water, or sulfuric acid or something. It won't do it. We can only run on the positive. Our organism only operates somehow on the positive. If we think that we are enjoying suffering, it's probably because we're getting a deeper satisfaction at a deeper level, in some way that we are not even conscious of. Something deeper is being given to us. We can't run on negativity. Valid virginity is in a special way the worship of the body. What that means is bodily worship. This idea of the body as a living sacrifice. So, virginity would be the lifetime, ongoing equivalent of martyrdom. What they used to call, what, white martyrdom, was it?


Nobody had red, they had white, and the Irish had a green martyrdom. From the 2nd century, virginity was associated with martyrdom, as self-offering, you know, as Christ sacrificed. Martyrdom, virginity and the Eucharist form a very ancient constellation of ideas. That's something to reflect about. That's a good one to reflect on, what they had to do with martyrdom. I thought monasticism today is a martyrdom. It's considered martyrdom for today. A lot of people would say so. But if you say that, then you need to reflect on it, and what way it is a martyrdom. And one of the principal ways in which it would be a martyrdom would be by celibacy. Which is right at the core of monasticism, and which people say today is a total diminishment and sacrifice and destruction of your own life, of your own person. That is, the mind of the world would largely say that. So, the way in which monasticism is a martyrdom is largely celibacy.


Martyrdom, virginity and the Eucharist, they're all a unitive sacrifice of the body in some way. But they're there for reflection. It's very profound, it's bringing those three together. All that are rooted in Christ's pastoral mystery, all the mysteries of self-giving love expressed through the gift of the body. Okay, thirdly, celibacy is an eschatological value. And then, he didn't give the Gospel reference here, but it's probably in all of the synoptics. I remember, I think, that it's in Mark, it's in Matthew. There's a question of the Sadducees, the absurd example of the woman who had seven husbands, remember? So, whose husband is she going to be in the Resurrection? Jesus says, You understand neither the power of God nor the Scriptures. When they rise, they will neither marry nor be given and marry, but be like the angels. The angels of God. It's a wonderful, wonderful story, wonderful saying. Leaves you wondering, you know, what kind of existence that is.


Especially since Jesus says, Remember, do you not know or have you not read what Moses says in the place about the burning bush, in the passage of the bush, the burning bush. So, the burning bush is the image in the background of what Jesus says about the future life here. And when you put that next to the idea of celibacy and sexuality, the two begin to, something begins to flash between the two of them. That somehow, it's like virginity is, or should be, the beginning of the experience of that burning bush, of the participation of the fire which is the divine life. That is the fire of human sexual energy and human energy gradually, gradually, gradually being transformed into that other fire, which is God. And therefore, no marriage necessary. So, whatever sexuality is, it's a sample and a prophecy, a promise of something greater than itself


in the next life, which contains all that it is, but in the more, the magnification of the more. So, the eschatological, eschatological means last things, of course, we've been through that one before, the non-syllable word. Now, then he separates this into two aspects, and this is typical when you talk about an eschatological aspect. One is the already and the other is the not yet. On the one hand, you've already experienced something which may push the possibility of marriage out to the margin. Because there's a fullness there where you no longer feel the need for that relationship, for that fulfillment. That's the already. And you can express that as love, as charity, and so on. The other is the not yet, in which, in order to be fully committed to the seeking, to the expectation, to that which is to come, you sort of express your unfulfillment.


It's like fasting in that sense. How can they fast when the bridegroom is here? When the bridegroom is taken away, then they'll fast. Well, virginity would be, celibacy would be explained in the same way. Or, that the position of pilgrim, the position of seeker, of one on the road, requires this total emptiness, this wilderness disposition of allowing the desire, the expectation to fill oneself. Now, one of these is like the garden, and the other is like the wilderness. One is like paradise tasted, and the other is like the desert. And they go together. They're inseparable in some way. Not entirely. I mean, you can have one in your consciousness and not the other. But essentially, I think they fit together. Two sides of the same thing. The realized and the future eschatology. The already and the not yet. His virginity accentuates the fact that he has not yet arrived home. But he wants to make total room for that thirst. He wants to have a totally available capacity for the fire of that hunger and thirst for the kingdom.


Which is, in some way, already the kingdom tasted. You see, the already is there in that very desire, in that intensity. Although it may not feel that way. And then the issue of eschatological witness and sign comes back to it. In some way, celibacy is, if it's lived well, a sign of the kingdom, as long as it's got the fullness of love inside. So what's the difference then between celibacy and virginity? Well, virginity... Celibacy is a state of unmarried life which has been chosen. Virginity, first of all, means a physical situation, a physical condition of not having had sexual intercourse. And the other meanings of virginity are built upon that one. So you're starting out from different... A celibate is a single person. A virgin is a person who has not had that physical union. You start from there. And then virginity takes upon it these other meanings as you talk about consecrated virginity. As you bring them together and make them merely synonyms.


When I talk about this right to the consecration of virgins here, we're going to get to that now. Then the different levels of the meaning of the word virginity come out. Celibacy is a more simple circumscribed word. Virginity has these different layers of meaning, especially the way it was used in the church, in the Father's town. Okay, church is the bride of Christ. This is our fourth line of motivation here. And first of all, he wants to say that you've got two relationships to Christ. One is identification with Christ. In a way, that's the deeper one. Because we are Christ. When we're baptized, we become Christ. We're the body of Christ, in some way. The words of the Father are, You are my beloved son, and you I am loved. It's marvelous. Even though we don't think about that too much. A lot of the time we forget that in Christian history. The other one is our relationship to Christ as I am thou. And here it's talked about in terms of bridegroom and bride. And there's a long history for that, as I say, in spite of the fact that it seems to go against the grain for men


to be thinking of themselves as the spouse of Christ, the bride of Christ. Yet our tradition is full of it. And there's practically none of the other that is some kind of divine feminine being associated with the male, the man. He does talk about the possibility of identifying with Christ as bridegroom here. Typically for the bishop, who is in some way wedded to the local church, and who stands for Christ with the local church. That's a little bit external. Okay. Now, it's especially women for whom this fits, because that's the way a woman is. And so, the symbolism is perfect. It's aligned perfectly for a woman. For a man, there's a tilt to it. There's a stretching to it. And you can talk about your soul as being the spouse of Christ, for instance. It's a little harder to jam the whole of ourselves with all of our experience, our gender experience, our peculiarly male experience, into that category.


Then he talks at length about this right of the consecration of virgins, which is not directly of concern to us. Now, he's writing this both for monks and nuns. And among Benedictines, I guess that right of the consecration of virgins has been a big issue. And see, that's tied up very much with the sense of identity of solemnly professed nuns in many communities. So that's why he gives so much space to it here. A couple of pages, actually. And spends so much time on that word virginity, see? Distinguishing its different levels. At our conference in Garda, it was all on virginity. Yeah, yeah. And the presenter, he would say it's really tied up with our identity. And so it's a lifelong process that one gradually grows into virginity. That's a paradox, isn't it? I mean, because we think of a virgin, first of all, as the inviolate, as the unbroken from the beginning,


the original integrity, we think of it and adhere it to our growing. Yeah, and I think we get narrowed when we think about it all in the physical sense. And I think, you know, I guess as I think more about it, I think a person can have had a sexual experience and still be virginal in the sense that growing into that whole giving of self for the sake of Christ and for the witness that God is so real that I give my whole life for this. That's right, yeah. And again, it includes all kinds, and even he would say, the presenter, that it includes all kinds of meaningful relationships in order that you can be virginal. Yeah, yeah. So in one thing, you'd like the chastity can be not being married yourself and not being married and being virginal, I think, can be that total identification or giving of one's life for God.


Yeah, yeah. Whether there has been a formal sexual relationship or not. And one's whole life, it includes one's whole life, and you grow more and more deeply into it. Yeah, so it's like moving from original to terminal or final virginity, I might say, and from exclusive to inclusive virginity in some way, I might say. I wonder if Robert's going to talk about... He's said a lot of good stuff. Even in terms of our formation today has to be much broader than it ever was before. Because the formation has to include, and I think he gets into it at the end of the chapter, has to include so much in terms of integrating one's sexuality. Where before it was just... See, a lot of the trouble, one of the big issues, not only for monasticism, religious life, but for Christianity, is whether it can integrate sexual energy. Because if it can't, it might as well give up, in the sense that it becomes a dead museum. Because that's our energy.


The Jungians would say it's not sexual energy, it's energy. But it somehow defines itself first of all as sexual energy, and then it has to be transformed. And it retains some kind of a sexual facet to it, a sexual quality to it in some way. It has to move through our sexuality, this energy does. And if that is missed or excluded or repressed or excluded, or somehow lost by religion, especially by Christianity... Buddhism has got a way of dealing with it, but especially Christianity. Christianity is dead. The Church is dead, and monasticism is dead too. So it's a life or death question, really, which comes up and hits us very directly today. When people accuse the Church of being of deadness, of a failure to integrate precisely the vitality of life, precisely the fire of life. And the same for monastic communities. The presenter also said, I'm forgetting his name, but he also said,


if we look at celibacy and monasticism as a merely functional kind of thing, like it is in priesthood, like in diocese in priesthood, he says, then we're robbing monasticism of its real energy and strength. Yes, yes. Yes, exactly. Because monasticism, like Christianity, has to find its central line right there in some way. I don't know exactly how to say that, but it has to discover that the sexual thing, whereas maybe being its greatest possibility of... its greatest temptation, its greatest possibility, its greatest magnetism to go outside of its own track, is also its greatest power, when it's been integrated in some way. The secret of monasticism and the secret of sexuality are very close together. It's like the secret of Christianity and the secret of sexuality. It's kind of like, I think, what you were saying, too, that it has to be transformed, and that's what Jesus came to do, and it's tied in very much with our spirituality. Yes, yes. I like this one paragraph on page 169,


where it says, Since Jesus was willing to be vulnerable and unworried about his reputation, he was able to accept the erotic and transform it from within. The story of the sinful woman who wept at his feet and Mary Magdalene at the tomb suggests something of his power, here it is, to take an erotic and passionate attachment on their part without rejecting or destroying it, and deepen it to the level of faith and spiritual love. And I like he says, without rejecting or destroying it. That's right. He took it and somehow was able to transform it. And I think that's... As you said, I think you realize that at the end, how you get there, I'm not so sure... There's a program or a process that can be stated. It's something that... And it happens, I think, through a relationship. Yes, because otherwise we're insecure. We're always walking in sand in summer,


walking on thin ice. So we're taking humanity into the sand in order to get out of it. Those words from within are very important. And they're words that lead pretty deep, I think, in the sense that... What does it mean, from within? Able to accept the erotic and transform it from within. That somehow it's possible to reveal the inside of sexuality, you might say. It's possible to open the thing itself to something deeper within itself by which it loses its shadow. I don't know how to say that. By which the transformation is also an opening up to something within itself. Sorry, the inside is invisible. But it's the same thing, but something much more, something much more powerful. And at the same time, something chaste, which has lost the, what do you call it, the purely fleshly gravitation of the external. Which is not evil, but it's only like the immature, or what would you say,


the early blossoms, or something like that, of that which is to be real for inside. It's almost like that. It's kind of like where, I think, a lot of it can stop. It's purely flesh or body. And again, not that that's bad at all, but that there's something more than that. And again, it doesn't mean you deny that, but you allow yourself to go beyond that. I think that's why he was able to take the erotic and the passionate, without rejecting or destroying it, and saying, and move beyond it without denying it. It's hard words, the words are kind of even harder to use, because you don't want to deny it, and at the same time you move beyond it. It's hard to think about, but somehow the key is there. I think something similar probably happens with married couples who are married for many, many years, and the fleshly thing, when people grow older, just kind of maybe, you know, lessens and falls in. And something else inside, something much stronger and deeper seems to emerge,


a kind of transfiguration. And yet we're still embodying people, and it happens within our body, but it's something... It happens right within the other, right within the other. Not by setting aside the body or anything like that, but there's a weakening somehow on the outside, a weakening on one level and a strengthening and emergence on another level inside. And that's analogous to what happens with Christianity and sexuality. It's as if Christianity should produce from within sexuality its blossom, the ultimate, the final and full reality which it contains within itself, unopened and unliberated. Which is not quite sexual liberation in the sense that that's usually taken. It's not sexual license or do what you want. It's something else. It's taking the thing, going right into the thing, going right through the thing and opening it up fully. We can say that of sexuality. We can say it also of ourself or a person as a whole. It's what Christianity does. It's what it's about. Okay.


We have to quit pretty soon. So just to run quickly through the rest of this. He separates those different levels of virginity. First the theological and spiritual, that's the purity part. Bodily and psychological level. And then he goes into the common meanings of the word virgin and virginity, which have that physical meaning of physical integrity. And he's dealing with all of this, I think because of the importance of that consecration of virgins. And then he criticizes it about the dangers of idolatry that are involved in that rite. He's doing it very delicately because he doesn't want to offend about 500,000 women. Okay, all four of these aspects at the end of this section are related in some way to the Eucharist. And that's there, I think, for reflection.


Remember, Eucharist is body, is an experience of the body of Christ. The unitive body of Christ. And sexuality and celibacy deals with the body and with the unitive in some way. The unitive capacity, the unitive reality of the body as it moves from one place to another, as it moves along a journey. Now, there hasn't been anything here about the Divine Feminine, so I'll just leave that for the future. But this crisis of celibacy and of sexuality somehow, and the emergence of woman, has something to do with the discovery of the other side, I believe. And if there's a crisis of sexuality and celibacy in the Church, partly, I think, the reason for that or where that's going is the emergence of this other side, this other dimension of our relationship to God. Okay, personal implication of the celibate vocation. Marginality, that's something you'll hear a lot about in monastic spirituality, of course. And a change now in that


marriage is no longer put down. For a long while, the celibate life was at the center in Christian thinking, Catholic thinking, not Protestant thinking, Catholic thinking, and marriage was a second-class option. That's terrible. It's a terrible thing to do to people. And to deprive them, as it were, of the glory of their own gift. Poverty of spirit. And poverty of spirit, he's talking about a real human poverty here. I remember somebody, it was an African who said that the poorest man in the world is the man without a wife. So that has to come out of some kind of deep expression of what marriage means, of what human communion means, and to be able to say that. But that's got a lot to do with it. There's a real poverty there. We need to discover that poverty, be able to somehow experience it, so that we can find out how that fullness, so that we can want that same fullness


in some way, and find out how it's going to come into our life. Personal growth. Integration of genitality at the physical level, and affectivity, the emotional, the feeling level, the relational level, on the level of the soul, and of living. And he talks a lot here about the problems that we inherit, the problems that we grow up with, the horrible gaping holes and wounds and sores that we have, and how they're only healed by love in one way or another. So he's making strong arguments for the need for relationship here. And then pointing out what the responsibility of a monastic community has to be in order to help people along that way, not leave them stalled, static, somewhere along the journey. The incorporation of the positive characteristics of the opposite sex over in 181, that's the whole Jungian perspective of anima and animus.


The fact that the door to your own interiority, according to Jung, is your feminine pole, is your anima. So watch your dreams. And then the issue of heterosexuality and homosexuality, which we could talk about for a long time. And the fact that we are on a spectrum, that it's not just one or two. One side or the other side. Two absolutes. And that there is a healthy homosexuality. And then there's a pathological or dangerous or immature homosexuality, which is inevitably going to bring along problems. So the track of this is that integration of flesh and spirit, as well as the level in between. We've got three levels, as it were. Body, psyche, and spirit.


And on the level of the psyche is the affections, the feelings, the emotions of a relationship. And then friendship. Friendship, prayer, and fruitfulness. And fruitfulness, in the end, is talking about work here. And creative. There's a great emphasis on creative activities. It's very important because creative activities, in some way, transform sexual energy and express it. And are how it is meant to be expressed, very often. We don't have time even to rush through this, but there aren't any questions on the rest of this before we quit. There are probably a thousand questions. I do like the way you treat, you give a good, healthy sense of the body. That one line, 183, that we use our body for worship, for creativity, for sacramental economy, for the place. That whole appreciation of the body. And one thing I also


just want to say is, there's a wonderful book on friendship and monastic community by Brian Patrick Gould. Is that one of those Cistercian studies? Yes, it is. From 350 to 1250. And it's excellent on the reality of friendship within monastic life. You know, and what's been gathered through the letters of monks throughout the centuries and how important an element of friendship has been. And then, you know, then comes the different historical periods where, you know, the janissaries would have it where, you know, it's all kind of crushed world-wide. I just find that book, it's pretty thick, but it's excellent. It's McGuire. McGuire, yeah. There were the copy cuts. Several copies sold in the bookstore. I don't know whether they were sold yet. And it almost makes me think it's prophetic


for maybe today in terms of even some of the stuff that you're saying. I wonder if not in the same way that it did in the book, but in a whole other way, but yet rooted in that reality which is what's important. And not only does it work in monastics, it might be for Christianity. It's really helpful. Yeah, good. So, what we've done today is kind of, once again, kind of absurdity in such a short time. I'd recommend that you keep this Xerox for future reference. You may, you'll find yourself thinking about these things from year to year, and so on. Gradually, a lot of the things that are in this chapter I think will become realities for you. They're not realities for you now, but it happens along the road. Okay, thank you. So next Friday we'll be talking about obedience.