April 20th, 1983, Serial No. 00872

Audio loading...

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



AI Suggested Keywords:


Monastic Spirituality Set 10 of 12

AI Summary: 





And then I'd like to proceed with the history of Christian monasticism, which now is the history of Western monasticism, because we got to the point of Saint Benedict, and we stopped right after the rule of Benedict. First let's look back again at that notion that we introduced of the monk and the centre, which comes from Pinnacle. Here Pinnacle is treating monasticism from an objective point of view and so on, he's not called to give a witness to Christianity or something like that. This notion of the centre, however, is valuable, and yet it's a difficult notion, because it seems utterly simple. It's not so simple when you look into it. Okay, remember, his thesis is that the monk is the one who seeks the centre, but then we draw the distinction between seeking the centre and living from the centre, or paying


attention to the centre, or being aware of the centre, and I would say that the monk is a person who is particularly devoted, committed to keeping in contact with that centre and living from it, but not at every moment. You can say that he's seeking it too, because in everything that he does he should be seeking that centre. Because as long as you live from it, as long as you keep contact with it, you're seeking it. Like, as long as you live in grace and from grace, you're increasing in grace, and so you're growing in grace, so it's a matter of growth in that way. Another distinction, another question is, what about, is there a fundamental option connected with a monastic life which is not simply an institutionalisation of the monastic life? You see, Panagarh suggests that there is not. You've got these two things, you've got a kind of universal dimension, monastic dimension in the human person, and then you've got the institution that comes along, okay? And he points out the need for the institutionalising, if you want to live a monastic life you need


an institution, in other words, you've got to set a structure up. But then he points out its disadvantages to such an extent that it's almost, you know, you wonder whether it's better to be inside it or not, at a certain point. But I think he's leaving out something else. Is there a commitment which is involved short of the institution itself? Here you've got the universal dimension over here, and here you've got the institution that comes along. Let us say the monastery and the monastic law and structure with the vows and with daily obedience and with the schedule and all the rules and everything, and the enclosure, and everything that goes along with that. Now is there another commitment, another choice, that's in between those two, which involves the centre but which does not immediately plug it into an external institution, okay? I think there's something else in there, isn't there? Call it vocation, call it some kind of a commitment. There's a way in which this centre becomes committed, or in which you become committed to it. There's a calling that you receive, there's an experience, there's a response to the


calling, to the experience, which sort of sets your life on a certain track, it seems to me. And then that can be made concrete later on in the vows, in the monastic profession. However, I think it's important to see that also there's something in our structure which can be in one position or another position. Because you can say all very well that married people have a monastic dimension, but they also are concerned with the centre. What is it that makes a monk different from a married person? What's the difference? Isn't there something in our very being which can exist in two different ways? One way in which there's a kind of totality of our orientation to the Lord, which is not essentially shared with another person, in which our heart is not shared with another person in a particular way, which belongs to marriage, a relation between man and woman. Then there's another way which goes side by side with that sharing of the heart, and it's


a different thing. These are two different tracks. And one of them, in a way, is a commitment to the centre of a different kind than the commitment and the relationship with the centre in the other one, it seems to me. It's hard to find very much on this, specifically in the scriptures. However, the classic passage is in 1 Corinthians 7, remember, where St. Paul says, well, if you're unmarried, I suggest that you stay that way, because then you can give yourself totally to the Lord. If you're married, you'll be divided, because part of you will be seeking to please the Lord, but another part will need to please your spouse, and so you'll have to be concerned with the things of the world. So it's a question of being together, in the sense of being undivided, being able to give yourself totally to the Lord, or somehow being divided and split between two... You can say split between two levels, can't you? In other words, is it possible that in order to give yourself totally to the centre... Because we're talking about God and the centre here, almost as synonyms, we can distinguish


them at another point. Is it possible that you've got to be unmarried in order to give yourself 100% to that centre? Now, it's not 100% necessary, I don't think. I'm assuming absolute law, because there are saints, obviously, who are very much related to that centre. But there weren't monks, were there, who were married. But there's something like that. I'll just leave it in those terms. But I think that Panikkar's presentation leaves that in the debate. And when the question of celibacy comes up later on... Notice that celibacy is connected to that central monastic commandment, in the two of He's not entirely clear on that. He doesn't do justice to Christian monasticism, at least. But now, if you talk about vocation, that's two vocations, right? The marriage state and... Yeah, yeah. So, when he gossips, he doesn't like to use vocation.


He only uses it once in a while, and not in our sense, okay? Not in the full Christian sense, because he's talking universally to all monks of any religion. And they don't have a sense of vocation. They're legal. So what do you mean when you say, well, those are two different vocations? They're two different vocations. It's very simple if you take it that way, and say, God calls one person to the marriage state and another person to the religious life of the monastic life. At that point, you don't have to go into it any deeper to confirm it, because it's right there. It's God's will, that's it, okay? If you inquire further into it, and you ask, well, why are the two incompatible? There's something in us, something in our structure, in our being involved there. There's something about the way that our energies work, the way that our affective life works, the way that our heart works, the way that we relate. And you can't have two relationships that are very kind of total. Because a marriage relationship is a pretty total relationship, I think. The relationship with God is to a higher power, as it were, to carry to a higher coefficient.


And it's very difficult to get those two together, or impossible. You're saying that the universal, the fact that it has to be different. Well, he's saying that the monastic dimension is in everybody, okay? Yeah. Now, I can follow that to a certain extent, because I think it's true, all right? He kind of jumps to that, what I'm getting here. What he jumps to is the particular relationship. There's only one way to have that monastic universality. Well, he makes a jump. Now, he would say, I think, that also the person who's married, who's in the world, who is running a business, can have a monastic dimension which is realized in their life, okay? So that's the universality. Then he jumps over to the point where you have people who are called monks and who live in a monastery, that isn't a monastic institution, okay? But then he jumps right to the institution itself without talking about what's in the person


that makes those two states of life different, okay? But there's something about the center itself which is different in those two states, I believe. He tends to make the center so kind of apophatic and so empty that you can't characterize it in any way. Now, Christian looks at it differently because he thinks of the center in terms of the heart, he thinks of it in terms of love, he thinks of it in terms of relationship, and he thinks of it particularly in terms of a relationship to God which is affective and in some way conscious, okay? He thinks of it in terms of the theological virtues, as they're called, faith, hope, and love. Now, if faith, hope, and love are in the center, then it's a different story, because that's a whole dynamism, a whole relationship there. And that can claim a kind of totality in a person which excludes another engrossing relationship, okay? It excludes another total relationship, if you want to call marriage a total relationship, in some way it is. So it just makes a claim in some way which rules out that other thing,


and that's the option, and it's something in us too. It's like we have a switch in us which can be in one position or the other, that's making it very cruel. There's nothing about the way our energies work. But it makes sense to me when you talk about there's something in us which can exist in two ways, but it would seem to me like whatever that center is in a person, whatever it's shared with another, that everyone is supposed to live in a very... Okay, that's true. You seem to be saying that with most of the monks. I'm saying that there's a kind of a... It seems like the center itself is taking away everything. What it is we're living in front of is different. At least, that's the center. It's the same center. It's the same center. But there's something in us related to the center which has two different ways of operating, okay? And I don't know how to express it any better. Well, a monk's relationship with other people goes to God. Yes.


And a secular person's relationship with God goes to other people. Okay, partly... It's more of that than it seems to me. Partly it is, but not entirely. I think that it's not right to say that the secular person relates to God only through other people, because then you wouldn't have any prayer life, okay? It doesn't make sense. There's prayer life, again, we'll talk about that in a minute. Well, okay. Again, most prayer life for the secular person... Let me get it. General statement of prayer life for secular people is in intercession with God, where you're involving your will with other people's well-being in intercession with God. So it's the same thing. I certainly think that... ...relationship with God is dangerous. And from that comes... I'm just interested to see both points of view.


Secular is the same, right? Yeah. I see... Okay, that's one way of looking at it, and I can go along with that. I think the clearest way is just to consider Christian mysticism and this nuptial imagery that's in it, okay? If you consider the monk, for instance, the monk thinks of himself, strangely, as the bride of the Word, you can only do that with one person. So if you are married to the Word, you can't be married to somebody else. It's as simple as that, okay? To put it in simple terms. Then to explain it in terms of our structure, or the center, or our heart, or whatever you want to call it, our faculties, mind, intellect, that gets more difficult. But that's the thing, I think. It's a relationship of love which doesn't permit somehow being divided. So to the extent that you're in that relationship of love, the other kind of... The marriage relationship simply can't be there in its fullness. Now, I don't know, there may be some exceptions, but that's the general rule. God loves to sort of bust His own rules, but that's the general rule.


Because you'd probably find some married saints who had that intense, maybe an intense relationship with their spouse and this absolute relationship with the Lord at the same time. But I don't know how that works. Weren't they apostles? Yes, they were. Peter was married, and before he began his ministry, remember, he had a mother-in-law. And so were some of the others. Yeah, Paul says Peter and the other apostles, he said, no, they had... He didn't say exactly if they were married, but there was. Eugene, you had something? Yeah, I think in dealing with this issue, you have to focus on a central principle, a concept. I think that's God's will. I think both the monk and the secular Christian are called to the same thing, essentially. But while one may express it through celibacy, the other one is through chastity. But I think while not everyone is called to celibacy, all are called to chastity. And if it's God's will for you, a gift to be celibate, then you should take that gift and pursue it.


If it's a gift for you to be married, if you just need to be given celibacy and you want to be married, you take that and pursue that too. But if you're chaste as a married person, you're still being one-pointed. So for me, I don't see any distinction between the spirituality of the monk and the secular person. I just don't know. You're one-pointed, it's true. If you're on the spiritual level, and the question is to what extent can your marriage be a full marriage if you're only on that level, something like that. What does to be chaste mean? Because it doesn't mean to abstain from sexual union, for instance. I don't understand it. I just put it before you. Do you have an example in the scripture where it says to his bride, it says to his bride, take you not out of lust, as a matter of duty, as a matter of fulfilling your role as a human being, as a parent. But can the love between


the two of them be complete in a marriage sense? Well, if it's out of duty, I'm sorry. Again, the basic issue is one of the chastity. Ideally, you're not pursuing your relationship with your wife, primarily for reasons of lust, as a means of mutual sharing, fulfillment of obligation. Fulfillment of obligation, I don't know if that would work. We get into a whole thing here. We got the other side of it. It's central. When we talk about the issue of the center and the monk, the celibacy thing is a key thing. We'll probably come back later to discuss it in more detail. That's a problem, whether a person can really be fully married with that kind of moral way of looking at it only, without the full complement of the heart. The point isn't this thing, it's a supplement. Okay, but who's there? Most people when they get married are very young. They really can't. They're not there. I think that can happen after 40 years


of my life or something like that. But it's difficult. We're not talking about what is and what not necessarily is there, but what should be there. We're talking about not so much what is, but what ought. For the celibate monk, he might not be as perfectly pure in self as he should be either, but he should be. He should strive towards that goal. That's what Senegasa is about. It should be along the lines of a sublimated relationship. You approach your spouse with the attitude of not primarily a lust object, but a partnership. I don't know if that's a full enough notion of marriage to embrace it. There are a couple of difficulties. One is how many people can actually be there. Certainly as it should, it sounds okay, but I'm not sure that St. Augustine handled that perfectly in the light of the bigger theology. That's one of the questions


about St. Augustine. His whole treatment of sexuality and marriage. He didn't really just push it away in his theology. Anyhow, we're not going to solve this problem. Another way to look at this, there's a dialectic between the absoluteness of this commitment to the center, and then the fact that it's only a dimension. Panagar calls it a dimension, but is the center a dimension? And then he talks about the monk as a person who's devoted to the absolute. The center is not a dimension as other things are dimensions. The center is not like one of the spokes. So there's something there we have to watch. There's an ambiguity there that we have to watch. If you progress from the point


to the second dimension, which is where? I made this a little mystical so that we can put it in three dimensions. Suppose these are our dimensions and here's the center. It seems to me that maybe the center goes off into another dimension. That's true, but the center, when it goes off into another dimension beyond the fourth dimension, goes in all dimensions. The center should virtually contain all the dimensions of the first dimension. So it might be something like this. Okay? These are your dimensions. And then the center somehow has them all inside. It's as if the whole circle is in there. But it's a level which is more detached, say, from the material level here, where most of the dimensions are involved. That's the way I've done it mostly. But the center


cannot be confused with one of those dimensions. So it's mystical to call it a dimension, even though it is in everybody. You've got to be careful not to confuse it with the aesthetic dimension of physical matter or the mystical dimension of physical matter or even the rational dimension or something like that. I'm not sure the guy has to use it in the same way as he uses the word dimension. Well, I think... Well, when he says... There's an ambiguity when he says that this humanum, this human nature is composed of many dimensions and he says then the center is one of those dimensions or the monk is concerned with one of those dimensions. I don't think... He never says the center is one dimension. He avoids it. He goes around it. He says the monk is concerned with one of those dimensions and what is the monk concerned with? It's with the center. Okay? At that point, it's hardly a dimension anymore. It's something else. Now, this gets back to this uniqueness that we're talking about.


There's something unique about what the monk is concerned with. Now, it's in everybody but in some way he's got a unique way of committing himself to the uniqueness of that center and this notion of being absolutely grasped by the absolute, as it were, which tends to have an exclusiveness about it which doesn't have anything to do directly or immediately with the institution so there's something in there between. There's an exclusiveness in between before you get to the institution. The institution just ratifies it or just protects it or structures it or something like that. And then we're going to have to ask ourselves, well, what is the center? Is it just empty? Or is the center really consciousness? Because if you're a Christian, you're going to probably want to say that the center is not simply void. The center has something to do with eternity. The center is that uniqueness of the organism. There's a capacity to be in each individual's hands that no one else has. That's the capacity to be offered that path or that path.


Everything else that you can do I can do, except offering you a path. It's like offering your person back to God. It's like offering your person back to God from the center in that boat. We have an accomplishment, sir. We do not get this time to educate on a more beautiful body a more beautiful body according to what the whole point is saying. Exactly the same. If you can't take away that thought from your spirit. So that's your freedom of self-determination and the freedom to give yourself which you expressed as giving yourself to God. Freedom to give yourself to commitment to God. So he's treating the center as kind of an empty circle, okay? He's treating it as kind


of a blank, and we're beginning to fill it in, we're beginning to find something there. When we talk about love, commitment, self-disposing of ourselves, self-determination, gift, commitment, all those things, okay, we're beginning to find something in that center. He's taking up, kind of. He's also kind of saying, in saying how to give oneself back, how one is to give oneself. Okay, the other questions that come to mind immediately, one of them is the distinction between simplicity and integration. See, Panakar, in accordance with this notion of the monk and the center, makes simplicity the principle of monasticism. He says the monk is the person who devotes himself to simplicity. This has been very persuasive for me. I remember when I first saw that approach of this in the notes for this book, I was immediately convinced, because I think that's what the monk is about, okay? Insofar as he is a monk, he's concerned with simplifying his life so that it can be one, and so that somehow every part of it


can relate to that center. I'll see if I can find a page or two of this. This is around page twenty-nine and thirty in this book. First he talks about the complexity of human life and the human person. I don't need to read all that. Monkhood is a radical reaction against such a state of affairs, against the complexity of life and the complexity of our own being. If man has been defined as the only animal that knows how to say no, monkhood could be similarly described as the radical articulation of this no to the excruciating multiplicity of all that appears to be. The monk is the non-conformist. Why does he put in that no there? They say that you begin to realize your own individuality, your own personhood, your own freedom, by saying no, by separating yourself. The monk down the ages has been seen as the one who sails against the wind, propelling


all things, in search of the simplicity of the source. Okay, there we go. Swimming back to the source as it were, upstream. The monk is the one who tries to swim upstream against the current to the origin, which one supposes to be simple. God is simple. The monk believes the absolute is simple and that the goal of his life is to attain that very simplicity. The way may be hard and at the end there may even be no way, but it is all simple. Swimming upstream, which is hard, and yet it's against the source, but it's towards


the source, it's against the flow from the source. Okay, now something else begins to appear with respect to our question about the center and celibacy before, because we're talking about really two directions, aren't we? We're talking about flowing into multiplicity and allowing yourself to be drawn into multiplicity, and we're talking about going back towards the source, or the center, okay? Now, we had a problem before of expressing what's the difference between married life and monastic life. Do you see anything appearing in terms of this axis, you see? Because married life doesn't tend to swim right towards the simplicity and singleness of the center, does it? It tends to move with the flow of multiplicity, even into multiplication, okay, even into reproduction and multiplication of the species, but also into all the complications and involvements of married life, responsibilities, and the


way that a person somehow is tied in a hundred ways in married life, okay? In other words, he's involved in the world. We go back to 1 Corinthians 7. So, he's not only divided in a way, he's multiple, okay? He's drawn into multiplicity by the very dynamic of that married life, whereas if he takes up the monastic life, in a sense, he moves in the opposite direction, away from multiplicity, into unity, or into the singleness of the source, okay? That makes sense to me. You could diagram that fairly easily, but it would be a question now. Not so much of our dimension, we're all in one circle, okay? But we have two levels, or two directions. We've got this notion somehow of a source here, which then flows out into multiplicity, and one direction, the direction of life in general, is to move, that's the


direction of the wind, the direction of the stream, okay? And married life goes in that direction. Out into the world, to somehow bring the life of God out into the world, even to the creation of another person. And as we go back and forth between that and that direction of this source, to renounce the multiplicity as much as possible. And there are two, I don't know whether we can say two levels, it's better to say two directions than two modes. And yet each of those persons is obviously going to be concerned with God. But to the extent that the married person becomes concerned with that unity, the degree to which they are a full married person, or a father of a family, or something like that, simply because they won't be able to bear that multiplicity of potential in the spiritual source, they're going to have to sort of pull them out from that unity. That's more satisfactory to me. We haven't talked there about all the dimensions of life. The dimensions of life here, as long


as they're separate dimensions, they're out here. So when they are virtual, they're all contained in the source, but it's actually when they're up here. So if the monk, if he really finds this entity, he finds the true center, both dimensions of life somehow are in there. And yet they're not allowed, like the leaders of the federals, to open up and find the true expression. I remember you once told us that we have to develop two ways of praying. One is by bringing prayer into our life, and the other is bringing our life into our prayer. And it seems to me that the married person has to concentrate more on bringing prayer into his life, and his prayer in life. It's true. Because he's going to be in the multiplicity more, isn't he? He's going to spend more of his 24 hours in that multiplicity than he does in the singles. Yeah, I think it depends a lot on what end of the singles one spends one's time in.


Okay. Then we had that other question. See, what he opposes to simplicity is another way actually. See, the modern person finds difficulty with this pure simplicity. Because he says, no, you've got to integrate everything. It's not a matter of just cutting everything off and going back to the source, going back to the core. It's a matter of integrating all the dimensions of life. He builds his whole book around that notion. I don't want to go into it now, because you have to follow up yourself. We'll come back to it later. So he says the secular attitude is the attitude of integration, of complexity, okay, of all those dimensions of life, and then trying to hold them together or find the way in which they are one. And the modern monkey says as to try to do that too, rather than just simplicity by pulling things off, let it go. We got that question of the relation between the center and the heart. Because as soon


as we talk about the heart, we've got a lot of those human dimensions in there. We've got the dimension of mind, the dimension of feelings, especially the dimension of will. You talk about heart in the Biblical sense, it's the seat of consciousness. And so it's not just an emptiness, not just a void. It's a pure consciousness, but a consciousness which has its dimensions of memory, or awareness, if you want to call it that, of knowledge, of cognition, of intellect, and of movement, of dynamism, of will. And the heart is necessarily a relation. Then we got that question of the relation between the center and the Word of God, and the Christ of it. We talked about that last time. It follows from what we've been talking about just now, and it's a key question in this whole matter of dialogue between religions, between the East and the West. Because in the East, often what you're doing is interrelated to that center, pure and simple. Whereas in Christianity, it's a question of relating to a God who has spoken to you, and a Word


of God which has become, in some way, alongside you, or out in front of you, and not simply at your center, even though it is at your center. I don't know if you've got any further questions about all of that, if not, bless him. The center of the Christian, where God enters into the history of man. He enters into the history of man. In some way, he enters into his center, in a new way. Remember all those places in the Bible where we talked about the temple of the Holy Spirit, the temple of God, that God dwells in you? Where is he going to dwell if not in your center? So, at that point, there's something new. It's very difficult to know exactly how to picture that, how to talk about it, but there's something new, and it's essential that we understand it in this whole issue of dialogue. It's essential at least that we have some hang on, or some key to it.


Very difficult to come by. And people say, well, look around, there isn't any difference. One, the Eastern one, the Western one, the Christian one, and one Christian, and the Western one. There are differences, but the key difference is you don't find them just by observation. You have to find them theologically, and then make that connection with what you really see. Okay, now I'd like to turn to this history of Christian monasticism, and we wanted to start from the point of the rule of Saint Benedict, and then come on up to the contemporary time. And I was planning just to skip through it, you know, with a word or two about each phase, but that's not quite fair, so let's take a little longer, but I'll not try to finish everything in one period, maybe not even in two or three. Which one? Oh, I've got a bunch of them somewhere, I wonder if I haven't yet.


I'm afraid I may have left them over in my cell, but I'll grab one in two seconds. I'll be right back. Maybe you could look on at his, and then I'll give you one right afterwards. Now, the text that I'm going to use as we go through this, from the time of the rule of Saint Benedict up to the present, is first of all, Piper. Piper's very short. There are only about four pages which cover the whole period, so we can only use it as kind of an outcome. I think there are pages 54 through 58, aren't there? And then there's the RB 1980, which has a longer section, which is not always useful. It's kind of spotty, and it's very interested in the rule of Saint Benedict, of course, and so it doesn't treat that history with a complete kind of evenness. Then there's this little book of Knowles called From Poconius to Ignatius, which is


not simply a history of monastic life, but it's a history of the religious orders or religious state from the beginnings, from the Desert Fathers and Poconius, up to the time of the Counter-Reformation and so on. He calls it a constitutional history, and the reason why is because it follows the development of the structures. It might seem very dry, but actually it's very useful, because from looking at the structures, you get indications of what's going on, and the bones of the religious life really say a lot about the body. The way things are set up is very indicative of what's going to happen. And besides, without that, it's very hard to find words to talk about what you're looking at. It's very difficult, actually, to see something historically and to describe it in significant terms. So this constitutional history, you'll find, is quite useful. Knowles has kind of a gift for boiling things down, which adds to its usefulness. Then there's Vieux. I finally, I think I got the spelling of his name wrong this morning,


so I'm making progress. V-I-E-L-L-E-U-X. Is that right? Yeah. Let me give a summary, which is an example from Knowles on the rule of St. Benedict. This is page six in his little book. These are the key points he says in the rule. The monarchical abbot elected for life by his monks, and himself appointing his officials. And monarchical is a significant word in the rule of Benedictus. The monastery was dominated by the figure of the abbot. The general gathering of all the brethren to council on all matters of grave common interest, and the smaller council of seniors to advise the abbot on matters of lesser importance. Okay, first of all is the vertical, in a sense, the vertical structural principle of the abbot, then the horizontal one, the council. The vow of stability, binding the monk to lifelong residence in the monastery of his profession. Now notice how that has a long influence or effect in Benedictine monasticism, Western monasticism, the way that monasteries are built and remain, the community remains in


one spot, and the monk conceives his life as lived within those walls. Now this is obviously not always true in monasticism, especially in the Far East, you know, the notion of the sanyasi. In India it seems that the idea of the monk is much more connected with movement than it is with stability. The rule thus deals only with a single self-contained, self-supporting and self-sufficient family. And that's what endures in Western monastic history, and everything else sort of has to get integrated into that, or tends to get pushed outside, tends to get pushed over, and sometimes suppressed. There is no suggestion of any supervision by an external authority, save that of the bishop, in the case of a notoriously culpable abbot. No hint of any association of monasteries for discipline or legislation. No instructions even to govern the making of new foundations. Okay.


Then, there's a summary of the status quo in the early Middle Ages, in the youth, page 14 to 15, which is worth looking at before we go on to the individual heiress. He's reviewed the happenings in monasticism in various places in the West. This rapid expansion of monasticism through the whole Christian world is truly an extraordinary epic, and is a manifest action of the Holy Spirit. Thus, throughout the first six or seven centuries of the Church's history, both in the East and West, we discover the Christian life being lived in accordance with its most radical demands, the evangelical councils, and those are taken to be poverty, chastity and obedience. One later argument could have been, but people of every new year and condition come among both sexes. Now, what he's pointing out here is the multiplicity, the pluralism that existed up to this time.


Because the whole, if you've read the whole of Hegel's article, you see what his scheme is for understanding the history of monasticism. It's the movement between, or the dialectic between pluralism and uniformity, and then between freedom, you can say, and centralization and rigid structure. Those are the things that he's, the framework in which he's seen the history of monasticism. So he's pointing to this first evolution as being a very free and pluralistic one. You have all kinds of different forms. And then he's going to follow a narrowing down, which happens quite suddenly, with what he calls the Carolingian Reform, which is the reform of Charlemagne, the same end of Divinity. The evangelical councils, therefore, were being lived under such diverse forms that there's no difficulty in claiming from this point forward that the Church possessed all the forms of religious life with which we are familiar today.


That's kind of surprising, isn't it? That's probably true on the local level, in terms of how an individual lives, or how a group lives. But it's not true on the organizational level, in terms of the larger structures of religious disorder, which occurs on the centralised things. It's true at the grassroots level. More true. Nevertheless, from the end of the third century, this ascetical movement had developed, especially in the specific direction of that afterwards called the monastic life. Now, he's giving a history, not just of monastic life, but of religious life, and he's pointing up now the dialectic between the two. At a certain point, there's a narrowing so that if you want to be what we call a religious today, you have to be a monk. At the beginning of the fourth century, the word monk had a meaning which is as broad as that of the word religious in our own day. Then, towards the middle of the page, the expansion had some very significant repercussions


on the whole history of the religious life. Until this time, the ascetics, whatever their form of life, had been dependent upon the local bishops, just like anybody else. The growth of the monastic movement, however, obviously necessitated a proportionate development of structures. I can't say exactly why. But in a way, it made structures, it indicated, pointed to structures because the monastic community already has a structure. So there was a lot more intervention of the authority, the hierarchical authority, the bishops and then the central authority. Isn't there as much a direction coming from above? The hierarchy, the control, how they're set up? In the monastic movement, yes, there is. That's what he's talking about now. He's talking about more and more of that intervention from above. From above now, meaning from the hierarchy, from superior authority.


What he's talking about really is how you move back and forth between the two. And his point, which he'll make later on, is that from above you can never make a real reform. It has to come from the heart. It has to come from within the community and within the individual. And yet, of course, intervention from above, sometimes it has to be made. But it's not the kind of absolute remedy that people sometimes think it is. And so he'll follow the different attempts to do it, to make a thorough reform from above in a relative success or failure. So, the early legislation for religious was concerned almost exclusively with monks, strictly so-called. As the legislation grew but abstracted from other forms of consecrated life, these remained unrecognized and were gradually thrust to the periphery. Now, that's a pretty drastic process. See, that's a pretty important process. What's happening? See, we were talking about the center before, remember? And the way that the monk is related to the center. It's almost as if there's a distinction which is seen, which is perceived between


the center and the periphery. The center and the outside. The center and the other aspects of life, even at the religious level and monastic level. And a wall is being built around the center in some way. And the enclosure of the monastery is kind of the symbol of that wall. And the monks are separated. The center is being separated from the rest of life. And that center is being given a distinct valuation, a kind of privileged status. The enclosure is the symbol of it. And then, with the women, it becomes especially strong with the papal cloister, which means that they really have to live inside and stay inside. And so they're... If they want to be religious, if they want to be consecrated women at a certain point, they only have one way to do it, that devotion, as it were, absolutely to the center. That's it. Once again, it's a crude way of speaking. But you can see in kind of crude outline what's happening. This was true to such an extent, at least in the West,


that the Carolingian reform would acknowledge only one form of religious life in the Church. The monastic life lived within an enclosure in solitude. Even the virgins who were traditionally lived in the midst of the local churches would be more and more compelled to close to themselves. Then there's something similar going on in the East. We can... wonder a lot about the deeper reasons for that. I don't have any. But that's what's happening. And, of course, there are a lot of travails, there are a lot of difficulties going on. Much decline in monasticism during the centuries, and barbarian invasions, and all these things. Civilization itself is tottering often. Things that we've never experienced are going on in the centuries. And we don't see the reasons for the legislation, for the attempts at external reform sometimes, if you think that.


He talks about that on the topic of 16th. From the beginning of the 5th century we've witnessed a disturbing retreat of civilization. Imagine trying to live on an invasion, barbarian tribe having to swoop over you. Now there's Carolingian reform. That means the reform of Tudor Charlemagne and Benedict of Anion. The key to it is that the rule of Saint Benedict was imposed on all the monasteries, as far as the power of the emperor could carry it anyway. Pfeiffer talks about this on page 54. The man most responsible for the exclusive use of the Benedictine rule is Saint Benedict of Anion. He was commissioned by Louis the Pious, son and successor of Charlemagne, to reform the monasteries of the Frankish emperor.


Basically of Germany and France. They say that this never penetrated fully into Italy. Convinced that the multiplicity of rules and observances was the principal cause of decadence, Benedict imposed the rule of Saint Benedict upon all the Frankish monasteries. In 817, the Council of Aachen insisted on uniform observance. They disagree as to how thorough that was and how quickly it took effect. But after a hundred years or so, there doesn't seem to be any other rule around in most places. Then they added some elements too. It wasn't a simple return of the rule, because civilizations are changing. So there was a lot of ritualizing going on. You've seen maybe those books on the monastery of Saint Gaul? That may have been the plan for the imperial monasteries.


There was supposed to be a model monastery at this time, under Louis the Pious, under Saint Benedict of Anion. And then all the other monasteries would imitate this one. I saw that tremendous design that was made. Architecturally. And then, in observance. The idea was to set up this monastery. Uniformity was the keynote of the whole exercise, and it's possible that we may possess a striking memorial of this idea. The celebrated plan of a monastic complex, including provision for almost all the services of a welfare state, known as the plan of Saint Gaul, may well be a copy or blueprint of the plan circulated by Abbot Benedict under the instruction of those about to design and reconstruct the large abbey. So maybe, I thought they were going to build it. The reform of Benedict of Anion does not seem to have been very successful.


This is the U. He says a sort of model monastery was even founded. I don't know whether it followed the plan of Saint Gaul. In case of need, the imperial officials were to keep an eye on the implementation of the reformatory decrees within the monasteries. During the lifetime of the dynamic Benedict of Anion, this reform knew some success, but after his death it collapsed. It was demonstrated once and for all that any reform of religious life grounded primarily on institutional reforms is destined to meet with failure. This reform of monastery life had the same fate as the Carolingian Renaissance in its entirety. The Charlemagne and his companies attempted to revive civilization elsewhere in the imperialist world. And then the barbarian invasions continued. The next step is Cuny.


And for this I find Knowles' treatment to be particularly useful because he's so sharp. And as he usually is in characterizing the keys of what determines what's going on. Cuny was founded in 909 by William Count of Aquitaine. The single peculiarity of Cuny at its foundation, which was the sine qua non of its future greatness, was its commendation to the Holy See without any intermediary. This removed it, as its founder intended, entirely out of the control both of the secular lord of the land and of the bishop, either of whom the conditions in obtaining might well have appropriated. So it had an exemption. It belonged, it was dependent upon and protected by Rome directly. And that was the key to its greatness later on. Now Cuny became the top, the peak of a pyramid of other monasteries. And they say that at one time there may have been up to 2,000 monasteries


dependent on Cuny. And the structural principle of the thing was that the abbot of Cuny was the abbot of all of those other monasteries. That he was, he had direct power in those other monasteries, which was a very artificial thing, because of course he couldn't really be, you know, he couldn't be present to what was going on. So it became a vast feudal structure, a feudal pyramid. They had four great abbots in a row that were in office for 200 years, an average of 50 years each. And that's what built the thing. I don't know. No, sir. Things were different in those days. They became abbots often when they were in their twenties.


The key principle of the system which governed the whole body was that the abbot of Cuny was the immediate superior of all of the monks of the order. To him all the novices made profession, and by him all superiors were appointed. Odillo, in fact, and Hugh after him, became to the family of Cuny in the 11th century what the popes of the 13th century claimed to be of all the faithful, the direct and immediate ordinary. And yet they didn't form a religious order in the modern sense of the word because there wasn't any democratic principle there, and so it was so vertically constructed, whereas the modern religious orders sort of feed themselves from the bottom and have the principle of democratic structure where the members can elect to be general and so on, and the council is intentional. The Cunyak simple system was far more primitive. It was the conflation of the abbots of Cuny and the combination of two ideas, the community of the rule under an abbot and the dominion and control of a king over his tenants and chiefs and subvassals.


So it joined, fused the principle of the abbot in Saint Benedict with the feudal principle of the Lord and his relationship to his vassals. So it built a feudal monastic input which really flourished too in which many holy monks lived and died in this structure. Do you believe in religious order? Yeah. People oftentimes afterwards have criticized it because of the excesses, especially in the liturgy, and the wealth that would be, for instance, at Cuny itself, an enormous place, and the kings would be there and so on, a lot of things that we don't think of as being monastic. It's comparable to, for instance, things over in Tibet, an enormous monastic input. When they were there, the state and the monastic thing


were one at that time. They were, not anymore, not since the Chinese took over. And we never quite had that anymore. It's like, in the West, you've got three things. I've been thinking about this, what Joe is trying to represent. As we follow this history of monasticism in the West, by the way, and here's monasticism on paper. Which is in a church, which is kind of a boundary thing, it's a marginal thing, in other respects it's right in the heart of the church, but on the external social level, it's marginal. And over here you've got the empire. And those things are falling in a different direction.


Monasticism tends to follow its charism. It tends to pull the church towards a kind of spiritual intensity, a kind of vertical direction, a kind of depth, and a kind of desert. But there's the empire, and the whole political situation of the church, and the needs, the political needs of the church. The organization has needs for some power, pulling in another direction. And sometimes you've got a relationship between the emperors and the monastics, and it's interesting, I don't know if it's part of the thread, the emperors or the monastics. Because the empire is a part of the empire. It's solid, it's sort of the way it is, it's kind of a problem. But sometimes, you have the European monastery, which pulls monasticism right out of this


boot-trap. And sometimes the empire, they have a monastic reform which pulls back in a different direction. And a lot of the decisive things in the Middle Ages, on the external level, the collision between political power and church power, the struggle between the two. So here we've got Charlemagne bringing in a reform of monasticism, such as the power of the empire. And later on we're going to have monks who are reforming the church, and who are giving the church a kind of power over the political system. The kind of thing you saw. A lot of the dynamics in the 11th century and the reform of monasticism, the time of the foundation of monasticism, involves those three elements. In spite of the vast extension of Cluny's family,


no constitutional framework was set up. No general chapter was thought of, no devolution or delegation of powers took place. The bond was still to the abbot of Cluny alone, backed by the influence and jealous vigilance of the huge community of Cluny, recruited largely from the cream of the candidates of Europe and housed in the most magnificent establishment of the age. Cluny indeed came to be for a short time in the middle of the 11th century the spiritual capital of Europe. It seemed to conform perfectly to the sort of feudal myth or the feudal mind structure of that time. And that was one of the reasons for its success, but part of the reason for its success was simply holiness, and then the good leadership that they had for those fortunate 200 years. Maybe that's enough for this morning. Next time we'll go on from there. The points that I have to stop at there,


the first one, which was number 7 in our whole list, was Benedict of Anion, number 8 was Cluny, number 9 will be the 11th century reform, which includes the foundation of Comaldoli and Valambroso, and in its wake comes the Cistercian foundation. And then Trent and the Counter-Reformation, 19th century reform. We'll repeat to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and never shall be, world without end. Amen.