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In fact, we've got a problem right away with our vocabulary. We've got a bunch of words, a cluster of words around this subject, and each one of them has its drawback. If we talk about asceticism, it sounds kind of athletic. We begin to think of, well, some of the physics part of it. It sort of seems to be doing stunts in our efforts to surpass one another. And it seems like a very human activity, maybe a very ego-centered activity. If we talk about penance, it comes to sound very heavy. It sounds like a lead weight that we attach around our heart, something like that. It sounds like, well, it sounds like private apoliticism, you know, without deliberation and without any practical scope. In fact, something maybe that will make people less familiar, rather than bringing them to deliberation. If we talk about mortification, mortification can come to the word death, which is an ugly one. And so we pass that one by in a hurry. If we talk about discipline, well, that's a little more pleasing, that we can take.


But if we talk about discipline, then that leaves something out, because discipline sounds like we're getting things in order. It sounds like we're getting integrated, like we're sort of subjecting our passions maybe to the mind, to the will. But then we realize that there's more to it than that. Then we recall the words of St. Paul, that I make up in my body what is lacking for the sufferings of Christ. And to remember that somehow the Christian thing, the monastic thing, goes beyond discipline. Discipline's part of it. Discipline's a very important part of it, but it goes beyond that. And really, neither one of those things covers the subject of what we're talking about. Somehow what we're talking about is part of the tactical mystery once again. And if we talked about prayer yesterday, prayer is sort of a motive. Prayer is the driving force. Prayer is the beginning of the resurrection in us already, because it's the presence of God. We've quoted our Father, we've said that prayer is God who works all things and all people.


Now, what is asceticism? Well, asceticism is the other slope. Asceticism is leaving behind. It's letting go. It's detachment. And remember how we found that detachment is another word for freedom. Somehow asceticism is just one side of the tactical mystery. It's one side of the depth of the epitome of God. We don't much like to think of it in those terms. But really, in the end, it's much better, I think, and simpler to look at our ascetical life in terms of God. That's what Rahner does when he talks about asceticism. He's got a good article on, the title of it is Passions in Asceticism. It's in the third volume of his Theological Investigation. In which he gives us this theology of asceticism. And he says that the ascetic, or therefore the monk, is a person who accepts his debt in advance. In other words, he sort of makes a bargain, makes a contract with God, in which he agrees to accept his debt voluntarily and openly, sort of looking it in the face, before it comes.


He sort of pays for it on the expirement plan, but in advance and not afterwards. And therefore, he's also able to experience something of the freedom of the resurrection already in his life. I think that's true. It's a good way of thinking about it. And immediately when we mention the death, of course, we have to remember the resurrection. And we talk about the dark, the black. We have to immediately bring in the light, the white. Otherwise, it does resemble another person. Let me read a couple of other things. There's a transition from what we were talking about before. This is Mother Synthetica, one of the few that are part of this. Okay. Mother Synthetica said, In the beginning there are a great many battles and a good deal of suffering for those who are advancing towards God, and afterwards, ineffable joy. It is like those who wish to light a fire.


At first they are choked by the smoke and they cry. And by this means, it's saying that they should, they try to rub pen and stone together and make a fire or something like that. And at first you have to get smoke on your finger to make the root. And by this means they obtain what they seek. As it is said, our God is a consuming fire. So we also must kindle the divine fire in ourselves through fear and hard work. Here you've got the two sides once again. The divine fire, which is the Holy Spirit in our hearts. How can you kindle the Holy Spirit in your heart? The business of asceticism is a strange thing. Because we can't do it. We can't... Who are you to make a fire and rub two boards together? We can't rub two monks together and generate the Holy Spirit. God has to give it. It's a gift. So, what's the divine? What do we do? What I'm going to be talking about today is largely the way that we're to think of asceticism.


I can say anything you want to know. But how we're to think about it somehow. So that we can approach it so that we can fit it into our understanding of the ministry of Christ. It's not that we generate the Holy Spirit. But our fervor has to be lived. In other words, the gift has to be lived. And part of the living is asceticism. David Knight has a book, Cloud by Day, Fire by Night. He's written a couple of other things. But the theory of asceticism, for those of you who are really talking about celibacy, and you talked about that first, or about poverty, or the other dimensions of asceticism, is that it's self-expression. It's self-expression. Now, that sounds very... I don't know. It sounds like... That's all right. It sounds like you're doing a conceptual movement. But what he's talking about is the expression of that grace that's given to us. In other words, you're given a certain chalice and a certain vocation. A gift of the Holy Spirit. And what you have to do is express it.


Now, when Rahner writes about symbols, he says that everything is symbolic. In other words, everything tends to manifest itself. And he starts out with the Holy Trinity. And he says the Trinity itself, the ultimate, the fundamental reality is symbolic in that the Invisible Father manifests Himself through the image of the Son, through the image of the Word, through His symbol, which is the Son, the Word, Christ. And he says we have to do the same thing. And so the charism is given to us, which becomes, actually, our own identity. You know, vocation and identity are just about the same thing as a Christian. Your vocation is your calling to be what you really are. It's your calling to become what you are. Your vocation is like your new name. The new name that the Book of Revelation talks about, which is Jesus Christ. And what we're doing is trying to become that thing. Now, that means to become yourself. And to become yourself, you have to express yourself. It works both ways, like the sacramental thing. You manifest, or you speak, and at the same time you become.


And that's the way asceticism is. It's a sign, it's a witness, and at the same time it accomplishes what it signifies, what it's supposed to. In other words, it signifies a kind of independence of material things, independence of the things of the Word. The needs of the Word. And at the same time, it makes you free, in the first place. Anthony Broome has got a little preface to this collection of the things of the Desert Father, which brings that out beautifully. He talks about asceticism as being sort of the language of the Father. They sent us, they brought a bunch of copies of this preface, and they were all missing the first three or four pages. Did you have the same experience? So in the end, we got them for nothing. That was a good deal. But that means if we have to Xerox the first few pages and put them in,


the first thing that strikes a reader is the insistence on the stress laid on the ascetical matter. This is in reading the Greatest Father. Modern man seeks mainly for experience, putting himself at the center of things. He wishes to make them subservient to the same. Too often, even God becomes the source from which the highest experience flows, instead of being him whom we adore, worship, and are prepared to serve whatever the cost is. Now that's the Jewish thing, of course, that idea of service of God, whatever the cost. Such an attitude was unknown to the deserts. Moreover, the desert repudiated it as sacrilegious. The experiential knowledge which God, in his infinite love and condescension, gives to those who seek him with their whole heart is always a gift. Its essential abiding quality is its gratuity. It's an act of divine love, and therefore cannot be deserved. So no matter how much you do, you can't sort of bring God down by force. You can't bring the fire down by force. Remember Elijah and the prophet Zechariah and his competition?


He had this big event, this big prophetic sacrifice. All the 300 prophets were there. They were the best prophets. And they were cutting themselves with knives and howling and dancing and calling on the name of their God. And they couldn't bring him down. Elijah said, well, you've got to do it, because you're not part of his company. And then he makes his own sacrifice. He carries out this whole elaborate liturgy and preparation. He has the wood cut and puts the ox on the wood and everything. And then he pours water over. And then he calls on the name of the Lord, and the fire comes down. And he'll burn the table. It's a magnificent drama. But you can't force God to come down. He comes down because he wants to. He comes as a gift. The fire comes as a gift. The fire is a gift. And all that we can do is open ourselves to the faith. All we've got in the end in the Christian life are faith, hope, and love. That's all there is. There isn't anything else. And those are our openness to God, the way we receive God,


and those are also somehow our very possession of God. He is in those, faith, hope, and love. Of course, there's a thought that remains. And it remains because it's the Holy Spirit, because it's God. It's the way God is in us, in faith and hope and love. In other words, in that kind of emptiness. The emptiness in the fullness. The emptiness of faith. The emptiness of hope, which is an expectation, which already somehow contains the fullness of love, and which prepares us for the fullness of love. And it's kind of a process of this God coming into us. So the faith, faith, and faith is nothing else but the language of this faith and hope. And the language also of love is in the, you know, the funny things that we think, the crazy expression of love on the part of the saint, and some of the funny things that we think. But to go on with this talk. What then shall be their response to this generous, self-effacing, sacrificial love?


We've been talking about the gift of the love of God, which is part of this speech. An endeavor to respond to love for love, if there is no other way of acknowledging love. And this response is the ascetic endeavor, which can be summed up in the words of the Lord Jesus Christ. Renounce yourself, take up your cross, and follow me. Now let's hope we get the right page. To recognize one's own non-entity and discover the secret of the kingdom is not enough. The king of love must be enthroned in our mind and heart. Take undivided possession of our will and make of our very bodies the temples of the Holy Ghost. Now the body, this is where the asceticism part comes in. This small particle of the cosmos, which is our soul and body, must be conquered, freed, by a lifelong struggle from enslavement to the world and to the devil. Freed as if it were an occupied country and restored to a legitimate king. Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, and to God that which is God's.


Remember that? Did you ever reflect what Jesus is saying? It's not only that the money that bears the imprint of Caesar somehow has to be returned to Caesar. It's his debt. But that to God you render what? You render the image of God, that which bears the imprint of God, and that's us. In other words, man is a tribute. The whole of man is a tribute that has to be paid to God. You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart and your whole soul and your whole sense and your mind and everything. That's God's tribute. And what's left after you give yourself up to God? Nothing is left. And then God belongs to us. That's the way it is. Man is the image of God. Yet many will be surprised by the insistence of his sayings on what seems to be incredible feats of physical endurance. Are these at the center of his spiritual life? It really seems to be exaggerated. In the sayings of the Gilded Calvary, but much more in things like Elijah, we see many more of these stunts. Like who was it, Macarius, who swatted a fly or something.


The defunctions that went on inside of his mouth for two weeks. Things like that. There are a whole bunch of things like that. There was an alternative, a competitive one. Why not tell us more about the secret inner life of each one of them? Because the life of the spirit cannot be conveyed except in images and analogies which are deceptive. Those who know do not need them. And those who do not know are only led by them to partake imaginatively, but not really, in a world which to many is still out of reach. Now here's the point. Man can live either by the word of God or by deriving his precarious existence from the earth, which ultimately will claim back what is its own. You can live from this kingdom, from the inside of this world which is coming. You can live from Christ, from the word of God, from the Eucharist, or you can live from this earth, from the world which is passing away, from the world which is mortal. You can live under one of those two laws, you see.


The law of mortality and death. The law of hunger and satiation. The law which is ruled by the whole of the natural, or the laws of nature, let's put it that way. The scientific laws of chemistry and physics and all of those things, and especially the kind of gravitation which is mortality itself. Or you can live by the law of that kingdom, in which case you become independent of this other law. The more one is rooted in God, the less one depends on the transitory gifts of the earth. To describe to what degree the dwellers of the desert are free from our usual necessities, that means their poverty, that means their chastity, that means all of the rest of their asceticism, their fasting, and their inability to do that food, sleep, and other things. But the only way to be possessed is to convey both how perfectly rooted they were in the life-building realm of God, and also how different the world of the spirit is from what we imagine it to be. So you get the idea of asceticism being a language.


But Knight brings out something else, that it's a language by which we not only speak to others, and we not only express to God our response to the world, to the sins, but we speak it also to ourselves. We speak it to ourselves because we need to witness to ourselves somehow what we mean. It's like a wedding ring, you know, which is a witness not only to others but to oneself. It's a reminder to oneself. It's like a religious habit, which not only speaks to others but reminds you of what you've committed yourself to, right? We're kept out of a lot of trouble by our religious habits, but by the priesthood, you know, by the priesthood of God. He's talking about celibacy here. He says, In our treatment of the vow, self-expression will be the key to the meaning of each one. Each vow is a real symbolic, real and symbolic at the same time. Symbolize it and realize it. Just your faith, hope, and love. You wish a person takes a real and visible stance towards one of the radical values,


the root values of human life on this earth, towards one of the basic realities of human existence. Since the stance taken is one that does not make sense except through faith in the gospel, that language of asceticism of the Father, it doesn't make any sense. It's crazy. Why do without? Why live a negativity? Because the negativity is only the outside. The negativity is only sort of the black letters on the white page. Negativity is the language. The person both expresses and experiences through this stance towards created reality the depth and reality of his stance towards the transcendent God, who has revealed himself in the gospel. The vows, therefore, are a means of self-realization in grace through the expression and experience of one's supernatural faith, hope, and love. And we use the word self-realization here in both of its senses as discovering the truth, the reality of one's personal free self-orientation in response to grace, and as making that free response for this act of grace and self-recreation real. Discovering the truth and making it real at the same time.


It's a witness to ourselves. And psychologically and interiorly we know that. But if we make an act of panic, somehow it liberates us by telling us, well, I can and I want to do that. I can and I want to make that act of renunciation and act of love where there's a little bit more grief. We need that witness to ourselves. We have to talk to ourselves in that language. Otherwise we don't really believe it. Otherwise it just stays on a level of words and thoughts and sentiments. And then he gives a particular treatment of celibacy in that work. He talks later about penance in a more general way. Let us then call penance nothing but a symbolic gesture through which man allows the word of grace to respond in his heart to take flesh in actions capable of expressing the gift of grace he has been given. No matter what language you may talk about it in. Because often the way that we read about the celibacy of the children of fathers


depends on some kind of philosophy, some kind of ideology that they have. But that's not the real reason in their hearts. The real reason in their hearts is that the gift of the Holy Spirit has been given. And a lot of the irrational stuff that we see, the saints standing on pillars and on silos, say, well, that's crazy. Yes, but that's what the Holy Spirit wanted at that moment. And that was a way of shouting what they had received. A way of shouting it in a language they could understand in a language other men could understand at that time. Or if you think the same country. And the language has to be different in our times. Because people are different in our times. Which both means that another form of asceticism may be more appropriate to us than it is to God. And only another form of asceticism will be intelligible to other people. Here's another saying from the fathers which changes the subject a little bit. This is Abba Coleman. Abba Coleman is the father who has the most sayings. They say that the original collection of sayings of the fathers


was a collection of the sayings of Coleman. Whether they're all true, actually, or not, it's hard to tell. But a certain personality does emerge from the father. There's a personality which is a lot like St. Andrews, which has a kind of relentless determination about it, but at the same time, great compassion, great suspicion. Coleman is not a Christian. The word Coleman, by the way, of course, means pastor, shepherd. There was a famous anthropologist who came to visit Abba Coleman. And he came to the monk, the younger monk that served Abba Coleman. He said, please, please be so kind as to take me to Coleman. So he brought him to the old man that presented him, saying, this is a great man full of charity who is held in high estimation in his business, in his own country. That's the visitor.


I have spoken to him about you, and he's come because he wants to see you. So Abba Coleman received him with joy. They greeted one another and sat down. The visitor began to speak of the scriptures, the spiritual or heavenly things. The visitor was a theologian. But Abba Coleman turned his face away and answered nothing. And seeing that he did not speak to him, the other went away deeply grieved and said to the brother who had brought him, I've made this long journey in vain, for I've come to see the old man and he doesn't want to speak to me. Then the brother went inside to Abba Coleman and said, well, Abba, this great man who has so great a reputation in his own country has come here because of you. Why didn't you speak to him? And the old man said, Coleman said, he is great and speaks of heavenly things, and I am lowly and speak of earthly things. If he had spoken of the passions of the soul, I should have replied, but he speaks to me of spiritual things and I know nothing about that. Then the brother came out and said to the visitor, the old man doesn't ever speak of the scriptures, but if anyone can talk to him about the passions of the soul, he replies. Filled with compunction, the visitor returned to the old man and said to him,


what should I do, Abba, for the passions of the soul master me? And the old man turned towards him and replied joyfully, this time you come as you should. Now open your mouth concerning this and I will say it with good faith. Greatly edified, the other said to him, truly this is the right way. He returned to his own country, giving thanks to God that he had been categorized in this particular sense. Do you get the idea there? There wasn't talk in which there was reality, and that's the thing that tends to put some of this to shame today. What Coleman was interested in was not contemplative thoughts, it was not high theology, but it was the actual work of the monk, which is the purification of the heart, which is the passion. They ask the question sometimes, how come there aren't more interpretations of the scriptures in the sayings of the Fathers? How come we don't find the sayings of the Fathers interpreted in the scriptures we want to hear? And this Father Rainiello has a good answer to this. He says the scriptures were the only learning they had,


and the only way that they could express their contemplative experience, their insight, the depth of their wisdom, was by interpreting the scriptures. And so they didn't do it, and so they didn't do it publicly, because to do it would have been to show off, it would have been to expose themselves to the risk of being glorified. And so they preferred to talk about those down-to-earth realities. And so the spiritual Father is not one with whom you exchange lofty thoughts, or contemplative insights. He's sort of a doctor of your soul. The one who tells you how to heal your ills and wash your feet, and things like that. There are a lot of difficulties today about asceticism. I don't know how much time I should spend hearing your answer. There's a complaint that asceticism is a negativity. It's kind of an inversion of Christianity. We return to the old testament, we return to the law. Jansenism, Manichaeanism, dualism, all those things.


It's just a body of matter. Or the complaint that asceticism is self-suspective, and all that makes you a Christian, or you're sent not towards the development of man, but towards his destruction. Anti-humanism. Frustration on our development. And sometimes in others, there's some justification for these complaints. The fact is, as you saw, we have to live a kind of old testament, in a sense. That's the sector of our life. That's the level of our experience. We have to do it, because we have to die. And in the Manichaean class, the person brings that to the surface, where the usual thing is to get it out of sight. The accepted thing in the world is to keep that reality out of sight. The reality of death, the reality of the need for a kind of law, a kind of discipline. And to pretend that we can do whatever we want to. That's the way that we're supposed to relationize, and it is true.


To show our freedom, and not to let our subjection be seen. Not to let our mortality be seen. But the monk is the one who lets it be seen. Who lets his obedience be seen. And that's humiliating. To have to show that you're not your own master, and it's true every year. And who tries to keep the thought of death as it were in sight. And here, it turns from black to white. And here, it becomes imminent, no matter where you are. Ceticism is a pure doctrine of seeing energy, which is misdirected towards its mental practices, towards having to give support to a superiority towards prayer and the heart. And it's too individualistic. And it's belaboring how to be kind of yourself, and get by by yourself. And it's very vague, and we need to separate ourselves from other pieces, and isolate ourselves from the kind of forces of superiority. But it is too introspective,


and we have to constantly pay close attention to ourselves, instead of looking inside. And if it's so many perversions of our aestheticism, or so many imbalances, it's no wonder that we're always the same. The value of us is the same. If I do so, the plan is different today. And that somehow, with approach to aestheticism, therefore, somehow the strategy of the month has to be a little bit different. Why are we different? Physically, we seem to have an organ-like effect. Maybe it's because we're sort of soft inside, and we're approaching it in some manner. But also, somehow, our center of gravity has moved. The center of gravity of man has somehow moved. And the center of gravity of his life, somehow, has changed. As it's not so much a matter of fighting the elements, it's not so much centered in the body, as it were. It moves to a different place. In addition to which, we're much more isolated.


We start out without a sense of community. And there's a big risk of getting ourselves further into that isolation. And one of our biggest aestheticism has to be death to our own individualism, death to our own isolation, death to the ego. They didn't talk much about the ego in earlier days. The word wasn't a popular word. The revivalist word was. In modern psychology. But that's really where the crux of the problem is. How do we get beyond that self that we have? For one thing, we've gotten so much into the head and out of the body, that a lot of the things that are said about aestheticism in earlier times don't seem usually to apply to us. We have to adapt to them. We have to work our way up to them. If there's any change in emphasis needed today


in our aestheticism, it seems to lie a lot in time. First of all, it needs to be more inclusive. It has to have a real hierarchy of priorities. The basis of aestheticism, like that of the will, is the ability to become free of our own self-will. That's something that's very subtle. It's very hard to get a hold of. And there's hardly any way to do it except through obedience. There's practically no way to get beyond yourself, concretely, practically, than by presenting yourself to another man. That's why the rule of synchronicity is so valuable. That's why it becomes essential and important to be able to grab onto that synchronicity. Which is a principle, after all, not only the most effective if you can reach it kind of aestheticism, but also the one that's really in the center of description. That's the way that the redemption was done. Jesus humbled himself to think obedience was enough to do it. And that's evidently the way to get it done. Remember how Hebrews says,


having learned obedience through what he suffered, and having become perfected in obedience, he becomes the source of life and salvation to all those who obey him. So we're to follow in the same way. It needs to be positive in some way. It needs to be understood as far as we can. In the past sometimes it's been a kind of arbitrary blind obedience, a kind of arbitrary aestheticism. As if whatever was difficult or whatever was hard or whatever was unpleasant was by the very fact good. There's something that seems to be good in that kind of attitude. What is it? That kind of totality, that blind absoluteness of communication. Just putting your head down and saying, I will, I'll do it. I think that's a yes, no matter what. But, somehow it doesn't seem to very help you see.


If we begin to think that whatever is difficult, whatever is unpleasant is good, pretty soon we're going to find our core values turn upside down or inside out and find that we are beginning to hate life. Find that we are beginning to hate creation. Perhaps that we're getting a little bit perverse and beginning to hate God. You can get into a position where there's nothing left for you. It's your blind will. There's nothing left for you except that inner vastness of God and everything else is sort of contained. It's an extreme kind of dilatation. It can happen. It has happened to many of us. Even stranger in our Christian life. Another thing, the most important thing for us is that it has to be integrated into our faith, has to be integrated into our relationship with God, has to be integrated into Christ, has to be crystal clear.


What is it that makes you suspicious when you hear a Christian say that so many of us have a physical discipline that is supported by Jesus? What is it that constrains you? Are we asking to really be integrated into our faith or are they just sort of autonomous separate blocks of operation, of technique, which never get built into the body of Christ, never get built into the organism? Somehow Christianity is opposing that. It's all propped with one life. It's all sort of fed by one heart. And if anything can't really be assimilated into this body, if it just remains sort of an extraneous hunk, an extraneous body, well, then it has no value. Somehow everything has to be able to be integrated. Now what sort of thing would not be able to be integrated? Chiefly the sort of thing that that deviates your hope,


the sort of thing that takes your hope away from Christ, away from faith, and puts it into some practice and becomes some technique. Now that can happen with anything. It can happen with practice. It can happen with solitude. But if you come to absolutize solitude and faith and believe that if you keep on that path, if you do that, then everything else is going to fall into shape. Unfortunately, it's the same for the fathers. They tend to support that. Because you'll find one father who says, stay in yourself and you'll be okay. And it's always good for you, I think. And so if you come to think that, well, in solitude you can never be free, get into solitude, and everything else will work itself out, and you'll be out of here. But it's all rigid. It's all nuts. And a lot of people just tend to think that they've over-absolutized solitude. They've had plenty of that experience. But it's the same thing. Even Isaac Assyrian was telling me one day that the most important thing that outweighs everything else in the spiritual life is vigil. And then I'm actually going to say the same thing about Simon. After you've heard it about three or four times,


you're going to wonder whether it's poetry or... But if you follow that, I'm not hunting down Isaac Assyrian. He's marvelous. But look out for these poetical writers because if you follow the poetry of fanaticism and the lyricism or patheticism, like the rule of life, you'll never get there. The things that really can't be built into the organism, that can't be built into our Christian spirituality are the things that have too much gravity towards themselves or the things in which they think I'm a holy spirit. The things that have too much gravity towards themselves are the things that tend to be self... I don't know... self-absorbing, that absorb you into themselves, that draw your hope over to them. There's a guy, there's a doctor named William Bradford, another reality therapy man, who wrote a book called Positive Addiction. And he says there's two principles.


There's a positive addiction. Not only are there negative addictions like drugs and alcohol and caffeine and so on. There are positive addictions, things that are really, in a sense, good for you, but which nevertheless have that same hypnotic, that same gravitational quality about them. So you can't let go of them. And the two main ones, he says, are meditation and running, meditation and jogging. And you can get into a high with both of these activities, which makes it almost like a drug. It's almost like being a lion. The meditation people, if they miss it for a day, they feel like they've committed the unforgivable sin. And the running people, if you keep them from running for a couple of days, they just feel awful. And that becomes a compulsive activity which sort of feeds itself and which gives you something. It gives you a kind of a yield, a kind of satisfaction. Now, the trouble is, if you begin to interpret that yield, that satisfaction,


that pleasure, whatever it may be, then it can be very difficult. If you begin to interpret that as the Holy Spirit, or as God's grace, then you're in trouble. Because what do you do? You switch over from true faith, true hope, to your activity. And that becomes your God. Now, people do that with yoga. They do it with a form of meditation. They do it with prayer. It's really got nothing to do with God directly. It's got nothing to do with faith directly. It's got to do with health. But once you get off by itself that way, isolated from that, then you're in trouble. Now, the thing is, many of those things can be helpful as a stage or as an element. We have to be very careful when we do those things. It really takes you there. And so it's good for us when we're deprived of our addiction for a while, so that we can learn when it is possible to get rid of it. The other thing is that our asceticism


doesn't get to just individualistic. There has to be somehow a participation in the community, in the church, and in the human condition. An example is the poverty thing, which we used to consider a kind of isolated place. Each one would pursue his poverty, and that would be one of his ascetical needs at the instant. But nowadays, if you look around, you get a whole different point of view. Because what is the context of poverty now? It's not just the long-term situation, but it's the hunger in the world. It's the fact that America is an affluent country, and we have more than our share. The fact that, you know, at least half of the people in the world are starving, and so on, or underprivileged. It's that kind of thing. Similarly, you have a statute of concerns on nudity and cruelty, and that's where it talks about a new kind of asceticism which is a community asceticism rather than an individual asceticism.


But sometimes, the asceticism that we do, because it sort of fortifies the ego, in a sense, thanks to isolating, you have people sort of lined up at the table, you know, and respectively, each one doing his task, as if they were runners on a race track. And each one is only interested in the other insofar as he can exceed it. And he's probably out of the corner of his eye watching the two of the other guys do this. They're novices who do this sort of thing, you know. But if it stays with you, then it's not so good. Somehow, we have to find the priority of values again so that our more important asceticism is the asceticism of life. The asceticism has to do with the relationship of our brothers to the community, and ultimately, of course, to the church. But if it works out that way in the community, it's also going to be valid for our wider relationship with the church in the world. And so,


the real asceticism has very little more to have than the deeper ones. In the rule of St. John, where the greatest asceticism is that of community and of the life of God, and of having to give way to love. The Father talks about laying down your life for your brotherhood. Jesus says that in St. John 14. But greater love has a man to lay down his life for his friends. And it sounds like it has to be something pretty spectacular, something pretty dramatic. It sure works for Jesus because he was his brother. But what does it mean for us? Well, the Father put it like this. To prefer your brother to yourself, or even to renounce the possibility of, say, giving a sharp answer, of returning evil to evil, of avenging ourselves, or even justifying ourselves. That's what they did in laying down their life for their brother. In fact, some do it very well, of course, except for on goodwill at the end of the world. Remember, goodwill versus bitter will. And bitter will has that kind of a thread,


and we get through it in some way. We reach the death, we say. Then there's goodwill. It doesn't separate from the life. The bitter will is the will of the Pharisees. The good will is the will of the Christian heart. The will is the will of the fire that is yellow, and the will is the will that is purple, and the will is the will of the Christian heart. It's been united in such a way that it's better than that bitter will. It's not only not doing any good, but it's doing anything that's wrong with us. It's fortifying our isolated self. So any kind of a theology that we set aside, like Martin says about prayer, I suppose we need to do it more and think about it. Let me, just for fun, read you a few things from this book, Less Is More, which is a book about poverty. And not from the Christian point of view. This is gathered


from all over. Everybody from Seneca through the Hindus through Eckhart, the Gospels. I don't know if there's anything here from Thomas Marshall. I just think it's from contemporary Christians. Just want to read a few samples. This asceticism thing and the poverty thing, whatever you want to call it, is a universal thing, of course. It doesn't just belong to Christians. And we have to find out in what way it's appropriated by Christianity and protected by Christianity. And if we think about it in the light of faith, it's fairly obvious. All we have to do is read the Gospels. But here are a few more general things. Let me explain the question. It is due to the greed of the soul that it wants to grasp and possess many things, and thus it lays hold of time and corporality and multiplicity and uses precisely


what it possesses. For as long as more and more is in you, God can never dwell and act in you. All of these things are kind of commentary on that one saying, a fundamental thing, that less is more. For as long as more and more is in you, God can never dwell and act in you. These things must always come out if God is to enter, unless you possess them in a higher and better way, namely if multiplicity has become one in you. If multiplicity has become one in you, then you can say like St. Paul, I know how to be poor and I know how to abound. Because the person is indifferent in the right way. He loves the creation, but he doesn't need it. Or insofar as he needs it, he needs it very modestly and without passion. He can take it or let it go. Then the more multiplicity is in you, the more unity there will be for the one who can change into the other. It's marvelous, the thing that sounds a little more like Eckhart at this point. Eckhart is the one who arose


in paradise from shadow. How happy is the man who abides steadfast against multiplicity, multiplicity of truthfulness. And this is, as I said, those who are steadfast in the face of multiplicity behold what light and grace are they doing to you. What is it multiplicity that's talking about? Pascal talks about it as diversion. It's being drawn out to the surface of life to have instead of to be. To have more. And what's to be worse than this? What are we talking about all the time when it doesn't matter? It doesn't matter. It's passed over. It's passing from death to life. It's dying to the world and rising once again. Not that rising once again doesn't mean that you're spiritual and you're out of the world. But a resurrection even in the latter is a resurrection. These are two different things of the world but in a different way so that they're not attached to each other. They're not stuck on each other. They're not tied to each other. There's a foreword to this book written by Schumacher another man


who wrote Small is Beautiful and he's talking about this less is more principle and the equation is a kind of curved logic. So there's unquestionably straight line logic that we need to live in. That's the logic that's not the logic of science. But it doesn't work for personal morality. But there's also a kind of curved logic whereby things require a measure or they turn into their opposite to make their living worthwhile. And then suddenly it becomes possible that less is more. There's no greater joy in life than the discovery of what I call curved logic. Less is more has the power of liberating you. The less you need the less you need to worry. The less worried there is the better are likely to be your personal and super-personal relations. You don't have to join the rescue. You don't have to be a great financial success. If they raise the tax on tobacco


and you don't need tobacco it'll get away with it. Do you remember Matthew from 11.25 to 30? Come to me or you who are heavy burdened and I will give you rest. So I make another call. Vernon. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. And you will find rest to your soul. And that Sabbath that we were talking about that rest that we were talking about is precisely in this principle in this pivot point where less becomes more where rest becomes life. And no matter what aspect of the Sabbath we've been talking about whether it be poverty, chastity, or healing whether it be fasting any of those other things any of the renunciation they all enter into this needle drive this point where less becomes more this point where rest becomes life. They're all a matter of dying but a matter of resurrection in which that which is renounced does not become evil. You don't renounce it like that. You don't you don't throw it


in the garbage as you leave it as you leave it behind. If you leave it with love and then you come back and you reacquire it in a different kind of way. It's a matter of renunciation leaving a matter of learning how to dive through the world through the kind of grieving that the lady talked about is under the name of compunction. I guess that's enough for it. Now here's another one from a woman named Elizabeth to the group. It's a very rich book. Really to give up anything on which we have relied to give it up definitely for good and all and forgive it forever signifies a radical alteration of character. In it the inner man rolls over into an entirely different position of equilibrium lives in a new center of energy in which time lies. This is


a very rich book. I'll give you this from my work at UC in my business life. It's about turning over at that point. It seems so hard for us to do. We realize how much we're stuck on the things that we have. We're dependent on them. We do whatever we can. We learn many things in our work. That's when the greater modification takes place which is the debt to the self.


The next version of the self is a two-thirded thing. It's not the question. It's the question. There is question. I'm not sure answer it. that I don't know I will next time. I've got a whole bunch of stuff for you. Oh. Yeah. I'll go ahead. What do you think of Gerasimov? Well, it's not for me to say it now. You have to worry about him. I'm between Father Kasagan, who is going to have it canonized as the old opinion that he was much too heavy.


I don't know. But maybe at that time something very special was needed. They say that Teyvonte wasn't for the occultists, but who was it for when it came after him? Yeah. It's not the time. But you can feel it. Somebody kind of came up and said, I don't want to take it any further. I don't want to talk about it. It's a really tough one. Like the guy who dropped a bomb on us. He's still denying it. Is that right? I don't know. I don't know. Yeah. If a person can bear that with the right spirit, that's the real thing. Because that sort of wipes you out. And when you're unable sort of to cope with life, and you're unable to produce, you know. If someone is a producing person who's always sort of been applauded for that or something,


and then he gets sick and he can't do it, that's a real thing. Just to be powerless like that. In fact, the one who started the trans-congregation in the center of Bolivia was an epileptic. He really was. And what is that? That's sort of holding you by the hand as you go along. I'll try to talk about that later in connection with Dostoevsky. He's still in the church in front of you. Dostoevsky was an epileptic. And he also had an experience where he was put up against the war to be shot. Opposing Russia. They were all aimed at him. The firing squad was at him, lined up against the wall. He was looking down at the barrels of the rifles when the order came to cancel the execution. So he looked death right in the eye. And it's as if he died. And from that time on, together with his recurring experience of epilepsy, which is very close to the threshold of death. It's like being carried to that boundary line and then allowed to come back. He writes from a point of view which some good theologians say is already beyond his life.


In other words, he's able to see things from across the boundary. And that's the threshold of death. I want to talk about this other character I saw today. That's where he brings it up. I didn't know that. I'm surprised they couldn't make him talk. Because that used to be an impediment, didn't it? That he was a priestess. Yes. Yes.


What was his point? Oh, I see. He was scared to death, I thought. Yes. Yes. Yes. A resistance to cold such that they can live in the snow.


They're practically not cold at all. They're not. I don't know. I think that the human organism has the power that we have begun to tap. That's it. And we Christians somehow have been mostly shunted away from even testing those. We don't know anything about it. We've been made little ones, in essence, that we don't really come to accept. Sure. Well, sometimes it's just a matter of help among us.


Sometimes it's a matter simply of a gift of God. But it's God who gives a gift to the church, a special gift to one person. But sometimes when there's a whole culture that's like that, when you seem to have a bunch of super priests in one civilization, and they do that sort of thing, you really wonder whether there's a special spiritual power there, something like that, that's given to them, that enables them to do that. I just don't have an answer. I try. Sure. Sure. Well, you know, for centuries in Europe, they didn't take any breakfast. They just worked through the day and had a little meal of bread. No meat.


That was the ordinary thing. And old nations are good on starvation diets, potentially. And in South America, you've got these people who live up to over 10,000 feet or something like that, and they're developing more and more. Even physically, there's a kind of adaptation in that. And that's a little controversial today. I guess that our body, our organs, can really adapt itself amazingly in ways that we haven't been able to over centuries, and with a kind of training. Yes, sir. Well, Zen and yoga certainly don't, to start with.


They come from a completely different religion. So they don't... The revelation and Christ are not incorporated in them, and the question is whether they can be incorporated into Christ and revelation. And my own position on this is kind of cautious. I think... I think people can do yoga, which is a very good approach. And they can learn something about Zen with effect. But there comes a time when both of these things have to... all of these things have to give way to faith. It's like that zero point that you spoke about with respect to prayer. You get to a point where all the techniques play out, and all the techniques seem to have no more value than a cup of coffee or than a chair that you sit in while you pray or something like that. And you're left just with your poverty, waiting for the grace of God. So those things come to an end, and faith goes on


for the Christian community. Yes, yes. Well, it's mushroomed, but it's not nearly as old, and it won't live as long. The communism, how old is it? Well, Marx put it in the last century, but... Russian communism. And, you know, Islam was like that too. When Islam started, it spread all over the world in very few years. But, really, the only proof for the truth of the Catholic faith is the gift of faith itself. And yet, when you look at the history of the Church,


and you begin to study it, it's hard to resist the evidence of the truth of the Catholic faith. There are things that are older than the Church, and Buddhism is older than Christianity. Hinduism is much older than Christianity. But, sure, it's not the revelation of Christ, and it's not the Word of God, and it doesn't have what we need. But I think today we have to be appreciative of other religions, because the day of living in a closed fortress is over. And there's this theologian, this Frenchman, Clermont, whom I really admire, and he says the time for converting people from their religion is over. That's unfair. The time for converting the religion has arrived.


The time for finding the Christian reality that's in Buddhism, and sort of making the way for the convergence of the other faiths or the other spiritualities into Christianity. In other words, to discover that in Hinduism and in Buddhism there lie somehow the seeds of the Christian revelation, or somehow something that is potentially Christian, and that the culmination and fulfillment of the truth within them somehow lies in Christ. This is what has to be done nowadays. Not just to turn people off on their spiritual background, on their religion at some point, but to show how Christianity is latent, it's potential, in what they have. I didn't see it, no, I heard about it. There are saints in all of these faiths, you know.


There are saints in all of these faiths, and there's plenty of sin in all of them, including Catholicism. It's the way the Catholics persecuted the Jews, and the sins of Luther and of Christians. It's only the gift of faith, and just the gift of our own history, really, our own personal history, that makes us so sure of the truth about faith. But if we know Christ, then we know the truth. If you read Vatican II, you find a whole new attitude towards those other religions. Not the attitude of condemnation, and not saying that they're demonic, you know. Because that used to be very common in the old days, to say that Buddhism or Hinduism, for instance, are very demonic. There's no salvation outside the Church, and those things are just diabolical deceptions that lead men away from the way of salvation. But what are we going to say about the millions of people who never were able to hear the name of Christ,


and were just consigned? Are we to consign them to condemnation? This doesn't make sense. Sure, St. Paul says the same thing. They've got the law written in their hearts, and God respects them. Vatican II admits that those religions can be vehicles for grace, and means of salvation. But that's a far different thing. The thing is that we don't need to be too stingy about it. We don't have to be preoccupied with making sure that no speck of grace escapes the treasury of the Church, or anything like that. The Lord is OK. What I mean is that, you know, we can rest sort of secure about our truth, but not... We have to take a different attitude about the Church.


The attitude of the Church as somehow being stronger than the world. The Church is the leaven of the world. The Church is the power of the resurrection moving out into the world, and it's stronger than anything else. It's not as if we have to defend it. It defends us. The truth of Christianity doesn't have to be defended in kind of a fearful way. It defends us. It proves itself. All we have to do is live with it, and that's it. Because so often we try to close it in and defend it with laws and anathemas and stuff like that, and it's all counterproductive. It works against the vitality and the life of the Church. It seems that the Church has taken that turn now. It's already concluded that the Church has taken a turn of a positive and confident attitude towards the world, and also towards the other religions. And that's the right attitude, I'm sure. Because the truth of Christianity is stronger than the truth that's seen anywhere else in the world. If you believe in Christ, then there's a reason why. Sure.


You mean the fact that those who are not Catholics are also... Yeah, because we received baptism as infants, and so we don't have any experience of it. And when we taught it later, it seems to be all in the head because it was an original experience. Yes, sir. Yes.


Sure. Sure. Sure. Right. Sure. Right. That's right. When you say it's in the true life, presented in the true life, that's very important. Because the problem there very often is that, you see, the truth of Christ is in these people, and they have a baptism of desire, but then when they're presented with Christ,


they don't accept Him as the Lord. We can't explain that, but we have to say there's something wrong with the presentation, or they simply haven't received that particular grace or faith. But nevertheless, that baptism of desire is valid, because there's something wrong. Very often. That's right. Yeah. There's always something wrong. Yeah. What can we say?


I like Christ, you know, I think. Yeah. See, this is a big change that happens now, and we have to be able to separate Christianity from any of those cultural chapters. And that's very difficult. That's a real step of faith, to believe that Christianity is still all there, even when you let all of those things go behind, and you put yourself into a Hindu dress or whatever. The Griffiths thing is a very courageous thing for that reason. Putting Christianity into all of the forms of the local culture, which is a Hindu culture. Yes, sir.


I agree. I don't think so, because he understands them better than the most compassionate human being could understand them. So if we wouldn't condemn them, if we don't keep those practices, and we're going to admit that they were never, you know, brought up to keep, then certainly we will. We have to figure that God is more compassionate than we are. And also, he knows us in a heart better than we are. I don't think he will go by a kind of abstract law. That's not the way he works. He doesn't expect anything from them if they haven't been given. And if they've only been given baptism, and not the education, then he can't expect much from them. Yes. Thank you.


Thank you. I think most of us know that it's the first of one of trying to make a requirement for that love and trust. And Mike really is bringing that up, even though he didn't mention the question in that way, for the subject of my question, and the other ones, for preparation for this whole thing. Yes, sir. Well, part of it is the hope that we do it. And we've all got to understand that.


And we have to do it, and let's do it, and let it be. But it's a good thing, and you're going to be a model for anything. And we're trying to divide it apart. And we're trying to understand. And then about, really, an exercise in it, in trying to get all the good pieces, you know, out of it. I was, I was actually sick. Well, the whole family was sick. So that, it seems to me that there's so much negativity in everything else. And I think really, it's true, without one's thought, you have to get off of your self-appreciation. And I wonder, if there's no trouble, how do they feel? Maybe, you know, try to touch them, you know. And, then when you find out you're sick, how do you do it? How do you plan to make it stop? How do you do something


that's not really serious? You don't have to put anything away. Too much. You have to keep on stopping. This is the gentleman thing. When you're speaking wholeheartedly, you could also speak of freedom. And to have that kind of freedom, to be able to put yourself wholly into the moment, which really is the will of God at that moment, you know. Putting yourself into trying to hear the word of God at that moment that you're in, what you're doing, and what you're supposed to be doing. That requires a kind of freedom. It presupposes sadicism, or it constitutes sadicism, or sadicism, one or the other. It's a real sadism. The best sadism is the sadism that disappears. Either because it disappears into love, or because it disappears into what God does, in your life. It either disappears into your response of love, or your relation with others, or into your prayer, or into your whole heartedness. Or it disappears into the fact that you didn't do it,


but God did it. The rest of it is just kind of practice for, because what we do is just getting ready for what God is going to do. And when you reach the end of the course, you find out that what God is going to do is a good deal heavier than what we can do. But his sadism, his purification, goes a lot deeper than we're able to, able to prove. But passive purification is not in the process of that. It really gets way beyond what we can do. Because whatever we do almost, it has, our self-love goes along with it. It even goes along with our sadism. So it's like a bootstrap thing. It's like trying to lift ourselves up by our own bootstrapping. We simply can't do it. He has to do it. Yes. Yes. Yes. Serendipity is that


charming word, I guess, which is the art of finding something. You know, something like that. The art of discovery. Which responds in some way to the Holy Spirit. Often, in all of the things that we talk about, we usually leave out the Holy Spirit. And all of them have the dimension of the Spirit that we talk. And maybe a lot of the dimension of the Spirit in a set of things. Part of it is our business of expressing the grace of His peace, expressing the value of it. But this is another part of it. It's discovery. Because the Holy Spirit is the spark that flashes at a particular moment where you discover God. Hmm. Is that permitted in here? What about that, Father Albert? Neither outbursts nor singularities. Yes.


Yes. That's good. That's the way it should be. That's the thing. I think so, too. He says, even if the thing is impossible, or you think it's impossible, go ahead and do it. So obviously, obviously God's going to do that. Obviously the thing isn't impossible. What he's talking about is the kind of impossibility, the thing that we think it's impossible. Not a physical impossibility. That's right. And when you put your heart and soul into it, it's not that you're... There's one way of throwing yourself into something, but when we do that, it's our self that's out there. But to put your heart and soul into it means that you enter it in the sense, in the spirit of obedience, in the spirit of doing God's will.


Yeah, exactly. You know, in the Bible, there's a part in the book of Mark where it's written that this man didn't know how to get what he wanted to get right. And he told his son, Son, I wish you were here. I don't. How? I don't know. He said, I don't know. He didn't got nothing. He was, you know, a fooling father, you know what I mean? I thought that was really true. Yeah, less was more. The big difference between being and having, because you've got to realize that even those things that he had could be taken away from him, the health and so on. So we have to get to the sort of inner core of that thing. Yeah. You spend all that time losing. You can lose your health and you can lose everything. Yeah. Then if you can, if you can smile


at that point, then you're really okay. Then you're really okay. Yeah. You know, Simon, I'm pretty in love with him being able to understand how to take a person's life and take their life. They have that mechanical ability to understand. And they're curious about how to do this and how to do this and how to do this and how to do this. Well, didn't he take such a lot of physical things while he can't take his life right? That's like can't even hit something. So it's kind of frightening in a way. It's a great lesson. As long as you've got the grace to take a thing and that's the problem. If you get too hard for that, well, it's a problem. I don't know how that could be. Well, they used to talk about origin talks about the aesthetic of life as a preparation for martyrdom and all that. And we used to talk about the master classes learning how to die. Well, in a sense, we should be getting ready for the moment when the whole thing will be asked from us. Getting ready


for the moment of the ultimate command. It should be something like that. The biggest demarcation that we have. So we have to practice by being wholeheartedly into what we're doing. This wholehearted yes at every moment. That's sort of the one thing that we have to do. Is that yes? Yes. Do you think that they will ever have white Catholic Christians to keep them black Catholic Christians? I don't know because I haven't seen many black Catholics before we were here. We don't have many in California. I don't know if you've ever seen any. Even federal colleges here have used black men in states over 90 years ago. Where is that Missouri? Right here. Here. How long ago was it? 20 years. Oh that's that's awful. Yeah I think


in time I think in time they will. That's a good question. Why? Because we're looking for somebody on which to project our own evil. We do it with the Jews we do it with the blacks. And with the blacks it's not enough. And he's a guy that comes from Kansas. And St. Anthony, the other third of the other fathers they put a black kid. He's a evil one. That thing is already in there because black is for us whites is a symbol of evil. A symbol of the shadow side. A symbol of sin of death of whatever. So we take our own miseries and we project it on somebody else. And that's the simplest and most cowardly and nasty way out of the problem of life is to project your own sin on somebody else and punish them for it. That's what we do. But for the Nazis it was the Jews. The Jews


were responsible for all of the evils, all of the sufferings of the German people. And so they take it out on them and they really do. And that's the easiest way to win sort of I don't know, unthinking people over is by giving them an escape point like Hitler did. There's the same thing as in the south in this country. I thought they wanted us somewhere in the Middle East. No, no. We want to integrate the church. You've got lots of Germans in, you've got lots of Italians in, you've got lots of Irish in. Why can't we do that? Exactly. You'd draw that line anywhere. And a hundred years ago, you know, the Germans would be fighting the Irish, and the Irish would be fighting the Italian, especially in the cities. So you can draw that line anywhere. And Christianity doesn't recognize any of that. For Christianity there's neither Jew nor Greek or Christian. So


there's compromise in the gospel. But it takes a long while to work it out. In Saint Paul, he couldn't overcome that kind of thing. He didn't even try to overcome slavery. Yes? Sure. I think that... Now, we've got to get concrete about this. We've got to get a sense of particular... Sure. Sure. I don't know who's on the other side. Really,


it's unfair to talk about these things in the abstract. I think that's the way to take it. He's trying to give you a message or he's trying to get you in a position where he can talk to you. Very often he


has to do that. He has to sort of knock us down in order to get us in a quiet place where he can talk to us, to open us up. He has to do something to us or let something happen to us in order to open us up so we'll listen to him, to open the heart like we were talking about the other day. Otherwise we're just too full of our own things. We run away from it until he stops us. At that particular moment, sometimes it's better not to bring that in right away because if you say, God done this to me, you can develop it. You've got to work around to that gradually. It's not about


finding fixes, it's about doesn't need for any problem. more And they'll forgive us for anything we've done. They'll forgive us for anything we've done. Really? They'll forgive us for anything we've done. That's great. That's great. The prior of the charterhouse in Vermont, the Fort Hoover house, is here. It's very good. It's a very good house. That's beautiful. I'd like to come back. It's a very cool house. I think that's great. We need a better understanding of Judaism and Catholicism. Because a lot of our roots are in Catholicism. Catholics and the Jews are very similar to each other. Well, I got to spend 18 hours with them. Marshall? They got John. Where's your phone?


I don't know where it's at. I don't think it's there. I don't know. Yeah. He comes to my house. I don't know if they know it or not. But he looked at that schedule. He said, you guys pray seven times a week? He was just kind of shocked. But he did, too. He used to be promised over seven times a week. And then he's gone out by himself. And I said, well, you and me got the same time, anyway. And then he left. I said, well, I'll see you up there. He said, okay. I mean, I couldn't find where he disagreed on anything. Well, there's some little things. You go over there, and you'll find out. He was a real intelligent guy. He used to come over here and stay for years. And one of the teachers brought him here. But the teacher he brought from Arkansas? Yeah, he's just crazy about these teachers. This is what they call Allah. It's an eight-day God-created Arkansas.


And it is such a great place. But he had a really good sense of humor. And the kids over there, they can speak English. But it takes them almost to high school before they can speak that. Before they can read that. Well, they say that Arabic is a very difficult language. German is a much more difficult language. There's a great beauty in Islam and the Muslim religion, but there's a great harshness to war, as well. And it's like a return to the old testament with a vengeance, the Muslim religion. Well, did you know this? Did you know that in big houses, there are five different families? But they only have one father. Yeah, he has five wives. Very good. Very beautiful. Very nice. Five families, one father, five wives.


You look at this house and it's filled with many beauties. I mean, right now, it's very theological. See, that's the way I was. I always looked for the very many beauties or the priceless things. Without even one wife. Maybe a son-in-law. It's been a long time. It's been a long time.