Camaldoli: A Community in Dialogue

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Heavenly Father, help us to understand our history, help us to understand the work of your Spirit that we may be able to follow His leading, we ask this in Jesus' name. Let me recall the outline of this paper of Fr. Emanuele's. Remember, our purpose is to study and comment upon his history of the recent phase in the life of Comaloli and of our congregation, but it's the Italian center of our congregation that's concerned. And the structure of the paper is as follows, I'll recall it once again. First there's an introduction telling what he's about to do. Then he structures his treatment, his discourse, in terms of three dialogues. The first is the dialogue with our own spiritual roots, the rediscovery, that is, of a more authentic view of our own spiritual roots. Secondly, the dialogue with current history, which means, first of all, the opening up

[01:04]

of the hospitality at Comaloli, hence the renewed contact with the world. Secondly, the event and context climate of Vatican II. Thirdly, dialogue within the community, with the congregation. So this is going on, this is the central thing that's happening through all of this. And it's the process that he's talking about. Then, after that, we have treated all of that already, then we get to section four, open questions. That's what we'll do today. And then the brief section of conclusion. Okay, continuing from the bottom of page eleven, section four, open questions. And I'll skip through and I'll invite you to ask questions if there are things that puzzle you, because we can go back to the Italian or we can try to puzzle out what the concrete thing being spoken of is, because you'll notice Fr. Manuola remains rather general and abstract in his language. We can particularize it more.

[02:07]

The open questions, he says, there are various elements which in our journey still remain unintegrated. Now, that means that there are elements which are not harmonized with one another, or there are conflicts remaining, or there are imbalances remaining which have to be dealt with. Now, he singles out, I find, to be seven problems here, and talks about them. The first and the basic question is that of community and individual, or unity and pluralism, and we'll go into that. I'm just running through the names of these problems now, and then we'll come back and treat each one individually. The second one is the question of the change in the character of the community due to the coming of new vocations, the different kind of people that are coming and the changes that are produced in the community, the difficulty of adapting to this change. Thirdly, the problem of hospitality and its balance with the life of the community. The community tends to be somewhat carried away by its hospitality during the summer months, when the place is overrun. Four, the relation of the hermitage to the monastery.

[03:13]

Now, all of these problems are interconnected, so immediately this one interconnects with the vocational question, and the history of the vocational question. He has a digression there, where he treats of the little collegia, the little college that was instituted towards the beginning of the century, in order to form vocations actually for the hermitage. Five, the problem of finding suitable work for the monks, and organizing it. Six, relationship with the local church. Seven, the inequalities among the various communities in the congregation, insofar as this renewal was most intense and developed most fully at Kamaldali, but in the other orbits it's either proceeded differently or proceeded to a lesser extent. And then the section of conclusions. Okay, let's go back and look at each of these problems in turn, as he sets them out. The first, as we have it here, is the harmonious composition of the relationship individual to community. You can draw two columns there.

[04:15]

Individual and community, personal responsibility and obedience. The project of life conceived as a given of the living tradition of the community, and the creative evolution of the individual. You see how the two columns are consistent there. In a common vision of life... What that means is a communitarian vision of life, okay? It's a vision of life coming from a theology of community, or from a presupposition of community, as distinguished from a presupposition, let us say, of institution, or of authority, or some other structural bias. So in a vision which is basically communitarian, and which puts the individual at the center of its attention, you have an obvious tension, an obvious conflict, possibly, between those two. At least, it's a fundamental problem of life. But that is accentuated because the reality is being faced more squarely, and so these two sides of the thing are put in, as it were, confrontation and relationship, consciously

[05:16]

and deliberately now, which wasn't done before. So it makes the tension between the two poles, our underlying problem, makes it more visible, more acute, and better able to be dealt with, but it's still there, and that's what he's saying. Now, this is true at Kamalgali insofar as... This relates to the other questions now. The difference in the character of the vocations means that people are coming to the monastery who are further along in life, who have had more experience, who have been in touch with reality in various ways, and who have also evolved a certain personality. There's been a certain development in their lives. They're more of a challenge, for instance, for the formation people. This is an old story in the United States, but it's not such an old story in Italy, at least for the Kamalgalis. And they have more exigencies in terms of individual development. In other words, you can't just put them into a mold, as you could at one point. You can't impose upon them stereotypes of what a monk should be and what a hermit should be. In other words, formation, even the word formation, has to be put in quotation marks at a certain

[06:19]

point, because these are people who maybe have a formation of their own, but at any rate are not going to accept simply an imposed formation. So it becomes much more a question of dialogue than simply of instruction. That's part of it. The balance has changed. The balance was very highly weighted on the side of the collective, in a certain sense. This is tricky, though, because it was a collectivity, an institutional kind of collectivism, which had a lot of individualism in it. That's how it's tricky. Remember how we pointed out the risk of moving from one individualism to another? From a kind of institutional individualism to a liberal individualism, an individualism based on formalisms and on form and on structures, in the interstices of which you live as an individualist, as an isolated person, to an individualism of structurelessness, an amorphous individualism. But what they're really after is community. The hidden factor is really formation, of course, because in fact living in any group

[07:26]

is always formative. To some extent the problem of individual community is a practical problem rather than a practical one. It's always existed to some degree. And I would have thought any group, every group, either succeeds in becoming a community or it doesn't. And in fact, a lot of people together don't make a community. That's right, that's right. I think there was always a good deal of community spirit and sense and feeling and experience that came out of it, because it was almost a family. When they came in at eleven years old or thirteen years old, they grew up together. And so on one level there was a lot of ease with one another. Once more, he makes the point that they were all so local. It's true of all religious houses, not just monks and religious. Even the Dominicans, this 14th or 15th century in Oxfordshire, nearly all men must have come from Oxfordshire and have other surnames. So it was funny though, because even though they were local and rural, yet they'd get people from different provinces who would bring their almost tribal differences into

[08:31]

the monastery too. The Markajani and the Tuscani and so on. Okay, so this is the basic question that's presented. Now notice the coherence of this first problem with a bunch of other things that we've been talking about in the background. One of them is the Vatican II rediscovery of both church as communion, as mystery of communion, versus institution, but also the renewed sense of the individual, individual person that comes with Vatican II. It's not so much a matter of subjects in a religious institution, but a matter of, gee, they're doing a... What if there's a war going on? They're looking for forest projects that you're doing, aren't you? Well, maybe. Stacking in on a deforestation project. Maybe we've got something growing up there. So the Vatican II event, but also the emergent problem in the modern world of the individual

[09:35]

person, okay? And the problem has been exacerbated and falsified by a certain kind of ecclesiology, kind of battleship ecclesiology after the Council of Trent, in which you tended to replace that sense of communion with a sense of authority and subjection. And resolve everything on the institutional level. Now this problem of unity and diversity reproduces itself. Notice that this fundamental thread runs through both on the congregation level, he pointed that out, as being our pluralism of different kinds of community within the same congregation, and then within the community itself, that thread. Now he talks about the changed view of norms, of laws, and the changed view of authority, all right? In this second paragraph on page 12. The internal style of the Communities remains simple. Without much formality in relationships between the people, there was a lot more formalism

[10:41]

before, there was a lot more rigidity and stiffness in people relating to one another. We had a very good case of it here, when we began, because we were trying to do everything the way we had read in the book that it should be done. And we didn't have much of a sense of human relationships. So a lot of the formalism, even in the way that people name one another, you know, not always calling one another brother or father and so on, but they tend to use first names, more of that sort of thing. Wasn't that part of it, because one of the things that went, in most cases, with the Council was the separation of groups of people, as I said, the brothers being treated as a group and so on. That's right. No longer speaking to the father except in formal recreation time. So the brother and father... Was that like here? Did that work here like that? That was like that here, yes. It wasn't everywhere at that time. The terms brother and father were loaded at that time, of course. Now they're much less significant.

[11:42]

Okay, all have become more... I'll just sometimes rephrase this so that we get, from another version we can find, get a sense of the meaning. Because the Italian itself tends to, as I say, be kind of convoluted and difficult. We've become aware of the complexity of a policy, the complexity of dealing with the problem from putting more emphasis on the responsibility of the individual than on the strength of rigid norms. It was more simple, in a sense, when you could rely on norms. It's more complex when you have to allow for the individual and discern in terms of the needs and capacities of the individual. The pedagogical function of certain norms, in other words, just taking a norm as a norm, just taking law as law and following it, has been replaced by understanding the pedagogical, the formational or educational significance of these norms.

[12:47]

So that's been gone into more, so people have more of a sense of meaning in what they're asked to do. Now, of course, if you don't read all three of them, you think perhaps the most significant is the failure to realise any of the vital meaning of the rule of Benjamin. In fact, the rule explicitly provides for all that, doesn't it? In fact, it tells you that's the way it is to rule. Yes, yes it does. And the early medical congregation always felt that it had the privilege of being able to set aside certain things in the world of Saint Benedict that it didn't like. And especially in defending itself by means of legislation, which could lead to all kinds of isolation and all kinds of things that are really contrary to the rule. Because really, what he's saying is much more compatible with what the rule is really saying. That's right. The possible meaning of it. That's right. Well, the rule could be looked at in terms of... The rule in terms of legislation rather than community, of norms, of authority rather than

[13:51]

community, when you come up with a different reading. Okay, one thing is the norms and the other thing is authority. The role of spiritual discernment and practical guidance or direction of authority has emerged with greater clarity. Instead of norm as norm, or law as law, and instead of authority as sacred authority, you see, you realise the functions of these things and they begin to be exercised more in terms of function and effectiveness than in terms of some kind of power. And not magic, but sort of automatic efficacy or validity that was given to them before. So more in terms of meaning and effectiveness, function and fruit. Authority is not re-sacralized but seen with eyes freer from sociological schemes. What would the sociological schemes be? The only ones I can think of are sort of patriarchal schemes, all right, whether paterfamilias or something like that, conceived in a rigid way, not in a really familiar way. Another sociological scheme, of course, is democracy. What is monarchy? For instance, the imperial sociologies. When you say sociological, it could be social schemes.

[14:53]

The models of status and relationship that come to us from secular society. And one that's had a lot of sway in the Church has been the imperial one, or the royal one. And which sort of carries into the role of the abbot sometimes in our monastic tradition. Okay, next paragraph. The recalling of the historical experience of a traditional community like ours makes it apparent how laborious is the rotary newel, even when we're treating fundamental things like this. On the other hand, whoever initiates new ways would not do badly to avoid repeating the same path, avoid repeating the same mistakes, which have already revealed themselves incompatible with free and global growth of the individual. In other words, there are certain ways of dealing with authority and obedience and so on, which we have found to be incompatible with the free and global growth of the individual. Now, freedom and that growth, holistic growth, are more or less new concerns,

[15:59]

at least in our time, they're rediscoveries. And some ways of using obedience and authority suppress these. And so they're not to be repeated, we're not to fall into those old tracks, just out of a kind of sense of holy conformity. He goes a little further with that from the psychological angle below. Certain schemes of order and strong leadership, you think of the Jim Jones thing, authoritarian regimes, there's a thing called the authoritarian personality, which simply loves to abdicate freedom and so on, and to replace it with structure and with authority. Also, perhaps, certain basic demands and certain desires, I think this is from the grassroots, sort of. In other words, there's certain leaders that have an authoritarian vision, and there are people who want to be ordered around, there are people who want to surrender their freedom and their own resources and creativity, and not to have to think and decide. So they want to abdicate their own freedom, hand it over to a strong leader.

[17:00]

Can conceal within themselves the virus of a false delegation of responsibility, that is, to the authority. The idea is giving up your responsibility and your freedom to the person in authority. And pseudo-reassurances, we could talk about security needs, more than express the availability of heart and of one's... In other words, they somehow obscure and inhibit the genuineness of giving oneself to God and to the community. The mechanism of delegation would be abdication of freedom, abdication of our own will, and security. So, abdication of our own personality, of our own freedom, and the security that comes from that, which is a regression into a kind of immaturity, wears out rapidly, and therefore that which is new can also become old quickly. So you see some groups that start out as... some spontaneous groups that start out as discoveries of freedom and discoveries of an experience of community, and very quickly become authoritarian. Actually, of course, I had one very striking experience of this in America,

[18:06]

which I don't think this is the time for me to speak about, because, in fact, one of the things he doesn't say here, is you can go to the extreme point, where you think everything should be discussed. Everything should be discussed, yes, that's right. In fact, for two years, my first two years, I spent nearly half my life discussing absolutely everything. And not surprisingly... Where was that? In the US? Yes, in fact it was. And what interestingly, the end result of it, was it actually favoured a very autocratic kind of government, because, in fact, the constant discussion of everything, and the refusal to take any decision of any kind, means that in the end, all the lights go out or something like this. Nothing happens, and so it becomes a problem. And many things, of course, you can't end up with simply a solution, it has to be a given, it has to be in some way decided simply. Discussion isn't going to solve it. Exactly. I don't think it's a unique case,

[19:09]

I've seen folks in other groups... I think that some of the Trappists became exceedingly weary, I think, of the long, long discussions at every point in their communities. And maybe they have to get to that point of weariness before finding any clue. Another case is the charismatic movement, which begins as a genuine discovery of community and spontaneity in the Holy Spirit, and very easily becomes authoritarian. The reason there is not hard to find. It's because people abdicate their humanity in favour of direct direction from the Holy Spirit. When that's not forthcoming, then they want a human being to give them the same kind of direction without having to decide themselves. Well, actually, that's because there are some people who always need their pick-me-up when it comes to the Holy Spirit. Yes, yes. Those are the ones who are ready to become leaders. And that also accounts for the kind of splitting often of groups. Okay, next paragraph. Problem 2, which is the problem of the change in the character

[20:10]

of the vocations coming and adaptation to and of the community. A more profound cohesion between the members and the natural development of simplicity in relationships. Why would the numerical growth favour that? I don't know if numbers have anything to do with it, but I think the coming of, arriving of fresh people, of young people who don't have some of the old-fashioned and kind of handed-down formalisms of relationship has helped to simplify the climate. Often, they had young people come out maybe four, but it was a very formalised deal. But the arrival of people from the world, and young people, you know, in our time, tend to dislike formalism. They tend to bring a spontaneity with them. I think it all acted, in a lot of times, as making it look easier, because you don't have to relate so intimately with any given individual, but you can have a good all-round relationship. That's true, also. It doesn't make it easy. And it's a little harder to conserve those old

[21:13]

drilled-in habits, I think, with a larger group. The group is changing. Okay. For many, the monastic experience is still brief and therefore requires a consciousness of its own fragility. What does that mean? I think it's talking about some of the idealistic young people who tend to be very critical of others because they haven't yet experienced their own limitations, their own fragility. So they're comparing others, not with experience, other people that they see, their seniors in the community, for instance, or the community itself, not with their own experience, but with their own ideal image of what monasticism should be. We've had plenty of experience of that. Then, the change, the actual change in the social composition of the community due to the different people coming. First of all, you had principally local people. Now, he mentions three provinces there, in central Italy. Tuscany, of course, is where Camaldi itself is. The Marches is where... We don't have a monastery in Romagna. They used to have a number of them, I think, in the old days, Camaldi, 12th, 13th century. But in the Marches, that's where

[22:15]

Ponte Avalona and Montejove both are. So we have a presence there. And that's where St. Romuald comes from. And that's where St. Peter Damian was. So there's always been a strong Camaldi's foothold there. A rural extraction from a humanistic formation. Now, that humanistic formation was not in secular schools in general. It was in the Camaldi's house itself. So they didn't have a technical formation. They didn't have a professional formation that prepared them for the world. They had a humanistic formation, which could remain a little bit heady, a little bit idealistic, a little bit platonic in some way. Passing through the tiny... That's the Collegio or Collegina. The school that they started, which is a real... You'll get to that later on, but a real paradox in an Aramidical congregation to start a school for little kids in order to make armaments out of. The second half was...

[23:16]

They built a new one just next to Camaldoli, and then they had to close it. So they had a couple of them. That was during our time, over there as students. The seminary was closed, and only young adults entered, coming from almost all the regions in Northern Italy. In the earlier days, they'd be novices when they were 16, and they'd come in when they were 11 or 13. They did get some people from Southern Italy. A number of the leaders in our congregation now are not from Tuscany. Emanuele is. He's from Tuscany, right under the shadow of Camaldoli, but Don Benedetto is from the south, and so is Innocenzo, and so is Luigi. Don Benedetto also went to Italy, huh? Yes, he did. So did Father Benedetto, and Innocenzo, and Don Alvaro Insomma. Bernardino is one of the newer generations who came with a background of some work, and a more urban background. He worked in a factory, or in a big office or somewhere.

[24:18]

Okay, now you're getting young adults instead of nearly children coming from almost all the regions of Northern Italy. This is the industrial, in a sense, in a certain way, in a modern sense, more advanced part of Italy. More sophisticated background. From the cities, and with a largely technical formation, so that's a whole different ballgame with these people. And a more critical formation, too. They've been in touch with a more various assortment of realities, and challenges. They've lived more of life. Okay. Next problem. Problem three in my list is the relationship between the internal life of the community and the work of hospitality. Now this is particularly acute at Camaloli because in the winter they're very isolated there. Sometimes they can even be marooned. By snow. But not many people go there in the winter

[25:19]

because it's a harsh climate. They have a few people around for Christmas. They don't even heat the guest house in the wintertime. In the summertime people are out of school and they have these brief vacations and the religious get sent there for conferences and so they have a steady stream of activity with literally hundreds of people involved from early in the summer up until, it must be through September. See, our general chapter is arranged to come after that has passed. So it begins in the middle of October. And that throws the community all out of balance in a sense. In one sense it's the life of the community at that time. It's very nourishing for the community. The activity and the study and the preparation and everything. And then the interchange, the dialogue, because they get some really good people there. You've probably seen that calendar for this summer. We had it on the bulletin board a while ago. One week after another they'll have a liturgical week and a biblical week and an ecumenical week and a Jewish-Christian dialogue. And they'll have the fuccini. Those are the, I talked about them before, the university kids and maybe the laureate.

[26:19]

Those are the professional men, the university graduates. So there's an awful lot of life passing through there. An awful lot of culture passing through there. But you can imagine how it swamps the community. And some of the people can become very, somewhat resentful of the people who have to take care of it on a material level. The people who are not getting all the adulation from their conferences and so on, from their pastoral work, but who are trying to get the room swept. They have a good deal of lay help to do that. But nonetheless, it's quite a hassle providing for all those people. Sometimes it's religious and priests and so on or people with a distinctly religious background. Sometimes it's lay people. And a lot of vacationers around there buzzing around there at the same time collecting mushrooms and buying their little bottles of liquor and trying to silence their babies. There's a lot going on. And then they all go away like the birds and the bees

[27:19]

in the summertime and Kamaupe settles into its cold winter again. It's long winter season when they don't see the sun very much. The relation of hermitage and monastery, that's the fourth problem. And remember how this relates to the problem of unity and pluralism. This time on the congregational level. I can get my papers straightened out. Now this, he says, is resolved on the level of principle and institution in the new constitution. That's Constitutions Chapter 1, Numbers 5, 6 and 7, which treats successively of monastery and hermitage, their relationship, what takes place in each of them and the passage from one to the other. That's treated a little later too in the section on transfers. It's been resolved on the theological level, on the juridical level. It awaits an existential resolution. In other words,

[28:20]

the people are not ready with the maturity to make the hermitical life a reality in its fullness. And therefore this remains words, remains papers so far. The hermitage side of it, the monastery side, is quite completely expressed. The existential development which is tied not to organizational norms and theories but to the interior growth of individuals and to this further call, the hermitical call. Only in these conditions can the hermitage be a fruitful space of freedom and of communion at the same time. Not a freedom from communion but a freedom in communion. And then he goes off on a historical digression here about the fact of the Collegio, the recent history of the community. So, you had the Commandolis nearly wiped out after that suppression of 1866, roughly the time, I guess, of Garibaldi and the Italian Republic and so on. I'm pretty fuzzy on Italian history. But about the beginning

[29:22]

of this century, the Commandolis, the congregation was nearly wiped out. We're talking now about the hermit congregation, right? Because remember, they were isolated from the Santa Fe congregation. So, this Jesuit made the suggestion, well, why don't you do like the other nations do, do like the other religious communities do and start a school for kids? And then from those kids, that would be a seedbed of vocations for your hermitages. So by golly, they did it. And that hung on until late in the 60s and most of their vocations came through there. Now, as I said, all of the recruiting was not around in those central provinces of Italy. Some of it was also in the south. The remaining community of hermits should open a school for boys in an appropriate place to prepare them for the hermitical life of the hermitage of Commandoli. Now, the place at Florence was Bonsalazzo, which had once been a Trappist monastery. That's a nice place outside of Florence. They still have the property, but they're not doing anything with it now.

[30:23]

They've been looking for a chance to sell it at a favorable price to help the other communities. Bonsalazzo. It's a Trappist community, I think, from the 18th century. It's a couple hundred, there's a monastery there a couple hundred years old, which they turned into a boys' school. It was still operating on a small, kind of reduced basis when we were over there in the 60s, the school. We didn't go to Bonsalazzo. We went to Rome. Now, he makes a little preaching here, a little lesson from the fathers and from theology and human common sense. The abnormal situation... Now, this is a complicated paragraph Let me try to work a way through it by just a paraphrase. Whoever, first timidly in the 20s and then with great clarity and force in the second half of the 30s pointed out the need to recuperate the traditional function

[31:25]

of the monastery and a serious apprenticeship of formation for the young was not posing an abstract problem in the cenobitical life, in the hermetic life. In other words, whoever brought this problem up pointed out the abnormality of the situation with the collegio and the way that it contradicted monastic tradition in good sense was not posing an abstract problem. He was rather the spokesman of these persons recognized or pointed to a grave existential problem for the monks of those years. So, existential is a buzzword here that always means something important and good as contrasted with abstract and unreal. So existential means real. For the solution of which came precise indication not only from the criterion of a normal pedagogy that is human experience, human wisdom but also from theology and from the tradition of commandly itself. So three sources of guidance on getting out of this impasse that is created by the collegio. And of course the causes went back

[32:26]

into the terrific traumas of the religious orders and congregations in Europe in the modern times from different sources but here specifically, concretely and materially that suppression. The Communalists experienced three suppressions in the last few centuries and that Italian suppression was the last of them. Nearly did them in. So there was a real problem whereas people were dealing largely here with theories and the collegio was not the right solution for the problem. Okay, now he changes the subject to another problem, problem number five which is the problem of work. Comaldoli was very isolated and traveling wasn't so easy in those days. So it wouldn't have been so easy to get a big group of people at Comaldoli and they couldn't really go out much to work. So they were going back

[33:27]

into not only the beginnings of this century but even earlier. Then that class structure in the community so that the lay brothers did the manual work and the priests were relegated to spiritual things or intellectual things or whatever but they didn't have enough meat there to handle not enough to get their teeth into. You also had a view of the contemplative life a kind of sabbatismo you could call it in which the contemplative life was thought of as opposed to the active life and therefore opposed also to a lot of kinds of work very healthy kinds of work. So there wasn't a holistic and sound view of work in relationship to human nature or in relationship to monastic life. In other words, the rule of Saint Benedict once again had slipped, slipped away. And another principle, here I think partly that a biased vision of the contemplative life had alienated the community from the rule of Saint Benedict. Remember, once again, we're dealing with a hermit congregation. I mean, I can think here

[34:29]

of the people that weren't formally as Benedict and most that were formally either outside as priests Oh, here too, yeah. Yeah, outside as priests or as other kinds of religious you never had straight No, you didn't. You had people who had been very active before. However, something else happened. If you have a person who comes from a religious congregation, let's say he's been a Jesuit or a missionary and he comes to this community, what he very often wants to do is put all that behind him and live his image of the contemplative life, which means inactivity, or at least abstinence from meaningful kinds of work. He's been active, now he's going to be contemplative. But that doesn't follow the laws of human growth too well. We've had that experience a lot. Here, we've got different problems because, you see, the upkeep of the place is somewhat oversized. We've got a 25 of everything to start with. I was asking myself how many toilets there are here and I think we've got about 50.

[35:30]

I think there must be 50. Being out of town failure is 3 years. We've got to do a statistical study around here. It's somewhat... The community itself must be enormous too. The community is big, but in recent times they've gotten help because the government is in charge of taking care of maintenance of the huge structures. So the monks would have to sweep it. As students, that's what we would do. We would go down the hallway with buckets of sawdust and water and big brooms and things and we'd sweep the brick floor. Now, the sawdust got into the cracks. Father Emanuele doesn't mention that. That would be problem number 8. They must have been born there once they decided to have heating there which they hadn't had in a long time. Oh, that must have made a big change. Yes, oh yes, it did. So, what they had

[36:38]

was young people who came in very early and during their years of formation didn't learn how to work. They learned all wonderful kinds of theology and so on and some not so wonderful theology and something about scripture and something about liturgy and many rules and a lot of history. And they'd get some Greek and they got plenty of Latin. But they didn't learn how to work. They learned how to study sometimes. But the study, too, sometimes could be too repetitive, too much the handing down of a somewhat stale tradition rather than teaching people to think or to be critical or to be creative. Pardon the words. So he gives the causes as, first of all, the situation of priests and lay brothers, choir monks and lay brothers. The absence of any form of pastoral work until the 60s, it was disapproved of, too. You see, it was thought that that's why Don Anselmo, with his book reviving that idea of the three goods, remember? Monastery, hermitage, and then preaching the Gospel

[37:40]

with an eye to martyrdom. Now, one big reason for that was to break through and make pastoral work legitimate within the congregation. Except maybe spiritual direction and confession for people who came to the hermitage. And the insufficient cultural formation. They didn't have a technical formation, they didn't have a practical formation oriented towards work. And even if they did, I don't know what they would do. So they would tend to have some little things like, what do they call it, the pathologia del libro. It was a book restoration. They learned that at some institute. And it was great dedication, but I think it sort of petered out after a while. Another thing was bookbinding. They had a bookbinder there and so they teach the young ones to bind books, but it never came to very much, I don't think. And it never became an economic reality in the community. Because their economic

[38:44]

situation is very different from ours. Because the buildings belong to the government and other factors, too. And the hospitality thing and the liquore are the two great sources of income over there. The liquore more than the hospitality, I believe. In a more recent period, the question is found out at various levels. So handicrafts, one conspicuous example is Father Salvatore, who is a ceramicist. He's an artist over there. And he's carried on a quite successful studio. Other people have done similar things. Intellectual and internal services. Well, those young priests, a lot of them, have been turned into high-powered theologians of one kind or another. So they're very active in that summertime period. And they also do work at other times elsewhere. So some of them will teach in a university or something like that in a seminary. And some of them in Rome. You know, Censo currently is teaching in about three faculties in Rome.

[39:46]

And Father Benedetto taught at San Anselmo, at Negrigori, I think, and also at the Lateran University at different times. So there was some commuting between Rome and Comale. And external work and things that were coherent with the life. The criteria or the goals, first, to provide for the sustenance of the community and for the services and for hospitality. Secondly, to favor the expression of each monk's capacities. OK, notice the conflict we have between those two in this community. One example would be, say, take Brother Romuald, who was here before and who thought perhaps he would become a potter. But the difficulty is, if you become a potter, it's very hard to survive in a community which has a lot of common work to do without being looked at as scants. Because if you have your own project, no matter how good that may be, and don't share in the service that the others are giving on a very direct level, using the snake in the sewer

[40:48]

or whatever involved, or dealing with the little problems that come up every day, it's a very unbalanced and tense situation after a while. So Romuald was always leery of being able to carry out the trade of the potter here. I think he was right about that. Not right perhaps to abandon it, but he was right to worry about it. It's not as simple as it might seem to favor the individual gifts of each one. And there, I think, the people who are sent out to school get a big advantage, you see. The people who are sent to study theology and to become priests because they get a training which plugs them in automatically to certain works which are more related to their gifts, perhaps, those gifts that have been developed than other people get a chance for. People who do other kinds of work usually don't get specialized training for it. And so it can remain on a more elementary level. It can be a less fulfilling kind of work.

[41:51]

Now, some people prefer a work which is simpler, and that's okay. That's a complex problem, so I won't try to talk about our problem too much here. Relationship with the local church, problem number six, is a bit anomalous because Comandoli is a big center on the national level, a little like Montserrat in Spain. It's a sort of spiritual and theological center. But on the local level there's not much relationship. There's not much relationship with the people around there. And let's look at the past when they said that most of their vocations came from the local level. They were still isolated in those days and they were thought of... You know, the big monastery surrounded by a peasant population is often thought of as kind of the lords of the countryside. And so the relationship was a little bit difficult in the old days. And for some centuries Comandoli was a kind of feudal situation. Feudal in the sense of... Remember this paper by the English historian on Comandoli as a typical medieval...

[42:52]

What do you call it? Feudal society, something like that. Where the monastery owned the land and the people sharecropped it or worked on it as servants or something like that. And the monastery had an immense amount of power. Monastery, or in this case, hermitage. So all that hasn't completely disappeared. And so there's a lot of communism in the Papal States in central Italy and there's a lot of it around Comandoli and that can make things a little bit difficult. In other words, there's been a lot of social injustice around there and a lot of inequalities that haven't been yet outlived. I think they have quite a lot of connection with the local priests who come there and get support in Comandoli. That's a good thing, too. Okay, last problem here is the inequality.

[43:52]

This is the seventh problem. The inequality among the various communities in the degree to which this renewal has been pursued and in the way in which it's been carried out. We referred to this before. Comandoli has received a lot of vocation in this year and has grown and sometimes been swelling with the new people. There are others of even long and glorious tradition. Now that would be Fonte Avalona, not so much Mare Giove, which is more of an upstart historically speaking, but Fonte Avalona, which goes back probably to before St. Romeo and was the monastery of St. Peter Damian, a hermitage of St. Peter Damian, and is a very illustrious monastery, Fonte Avalona. At the same time, there has been a movement outwards responding to new calls. So they've got some new experiments in Italy, for instance. Naples is really something new for us because they've had the hermitage for some time

[44:54]

but they're trying to put a community there for the first time with a new vision. Similarly, the little experiment up in, I forget where it is, of Giorgio and his companion up in northern Italy, kind of house of prayer thing, that's something new too. And then one or another thing is being done by Adelaide's there. And the United States, Big Sur and Berkeley, and India and then Brazil. So, apparently contrasting needs, the weight of the past and the need to support historic existing communities in Italy, which are failing in numbers and in vitality, and at the same time to respond to calls or opportunities in the new world or the third world, as the case may be. So you have like three circles. The inner circle is the community of Comaldoli where this renewal has gone on most consciously and decisively during the past 20 years. Second ring is the other communities in Italy, which have tended to be the periphery.

[45:56]

And people who were not and didn't want to be part of the dialogue, the renewal that was going on were often swung out into the periphery. And so those became kind of backward communities and often failing in numbers and so on, aging communities. And thirdly, the new ring in the new world outside of Europe. And then he gets to the conclusion and he's very modest about this. He says this is only one of the many stories of this kind. And I don't know whether that thing should... Mike, do you want to take a look at that thing and see if it just stalled? It's still turning. It's still turning? Okay. He speaks of the laboriousness of the process and its complexity. It's not a simple matter

[46:58]

and it's not solved with some simple concept, some simple idea from one's head or just by some kind of authoritative decree. One finds oneself confronting a global challenge addressed to the interior intelligence and discernment to one's disponibility, so sort of to the mind and to the will at their deepest levels, but also towards our human weakness. So the challenge meets not simply wills and intelligences but also runs into human weakness and so we have to bear the weight of our own fragility in this dialogue which we come to experience more and more. The process in which the work of discernment and renewal have no end. To renounce the satisfaction of having arrived and to conserve, to maintain an awareness both around and ahead. So this dynamism involves all that. He has something quite remarkable

[47:58]

to say here I think which is valuable and he's already hinted at it. In other words, you don't get the satisfaction of having arrived. Remember just after Vatican II some of you that we had the notion that renewal was something that was going to be done and then after we got the Constitutions renewed and so on, after we got them changed then we could relax with the achievement and go in a sure direction. The tracks would be taken up and then the railroad tracks would be laid down once again and when they were laid down we'd proceed along them with confidence and we can't find the tracks anymore. It's not the same thing. The renewal never ends. We discover that the change is not a change from one fixed orientation to another but a change perhaps from a fixed institutional orientation and a mental construction to a position of continual discernment, of continual confrontation of what should we call it ambiguity and difficulty and so on, reality, the way reality is. We're no longer sheltered from reality and its movement by our preconceptions

[48:59]

or by our juridical or ecclesiastical structures. So we can't sit down and say it's all done. He says it can't be restricted to a sporadic episode of certain years this renewal but it is a way of being which qualifies a sense of existence above all in the spiritual movements. Note, he calls monasticism a movement here versus an institution or versus just a tradition. The word tradition has a backward slant to it very often, just emotionally, semantically in our minds whereas movement has a forward slant, doesn't it? I suppose it's a good word to balance tradition and I suppose the word institution everybody wants to push it aside. It seems that tradition and movement together make a good balance. Such a monastic life which paradoxically common opinion even within the Church looks at as it should be the Gibraltar of the Church. Monastic life should be the never moving rock, the Mount Sinai of the Catholic Church

[50:01]

and the reason for that confidence is because it isn't going to budge. Well, a lot of people think of monasticism in that way and it can be murderous for monastic communities themselves if they get intimidated by the image that people have. It's very hard because many people come to the monastery expecting that and if they come here and to a number of other communities they get very disconcerted when they arrive because that's not what they find. So, the paradox that monasticism gets looked at by many people as the absolute fortress, the bastion of immobility of the static Catholic tradition. Whereas, he says it's a movement. And in this, I've been reading Schneider's New Wineskins lately and one of the very important parts of her trying to evolve and elaborate a new theology of the religious life is to consider religious life as a movement. And in doing that, of course, she goes back historically and finds monastic life very close to the beginning of it. Not quite though, because before that there were the virgins and widows. So, she sees religious life

[51:06]

as one movement from the early centuries of the church when you had these virgins, ascetics, widows moving out from the ordinary way of life for something special right down through the monastic life and all the succeeding generations and waves of religious life right down to the present as one long movement. You can also see it as a series of movements and the monastic movement in its own right. You can see also, a lot of people have talked about the monastic renewal of the 11th and 12th centuries, the time of our founders as something that continues to reverberate right down to our present time. So, I think that you in one of his historical articles talks about, are still moving with that monastic renewal which happened in the 11th century. Okay. Now, a little more humility here. This doesn't present itself as a model of successful dialogue. Just one concrete case. One possible road.

[52:08]

It pretends only to be sincere and authentic in the dynamism which it pursues. What does he mean there? He means that we've fought and suffered over this process for 20 years now and more and Emanuele was right at the heart of it too. And there's one thing that we have learned and that is that we're on the right path. That we are on the right path in creating this dialogue and in making the kind of discernment that we have made. We make mistakes now and then but the basic fundamental path of dialogue, of process, of renewal that we have embraced is the right path. We're sure of that and we're sincere in our pursuing this path. I think that's what he claims. So it's a little more than just claiming sincerity. Okay, now the final paragraph here is a rather difficult one. Let me try to do a paraphrase once again. One thing, therefore, seems clear to me. Well, what seems clear to him doesn't seem so clear to us at first because of the difficult language in which he puts it in. Every process of renewal

[53:11]

demands the identifying of the fundamental values involved of the crucial points around which the dialogue is to be developed. The consensus is to be built and discernment is to be exercised. So what he's saying is the key thing is to find the crucial points, to identify the issues and then use all your energy in developing the dialogue and the movement around those key issues. Don't let yourself be distracted. So to individualize there, that word can have two meanings. It's individualizare in Italian and for us individualized can mean that the individual has to absorb it, has to interiorize it, has to realize it himself. But that's not what this means. This means to identify the points, the key points, and then deal with them instead of dealing with peripheral things. We had a lot of trouble with that in this community. We tended to get hung up easily on the peripheral, on the little customs and things that were threatened. The result cannot be

[54:13]

the victory of somebody with the transformation of everybody involved. So he's not, even though there has been a kind of emergence of one group here, and history is written by the winners after all, and Manoel is one of the winners, and he was also very probably the next general, but it's not a question of one's point of view, one's attitude triumphing. You can't help but have a feeling of success when such a long and painful, laborious struggle has brought some fruits. And so he's quite justified, I think, in being happy with this history. But it's not anybody's victory, it's a transformation. And a transformation which exactly moves away from that notion of triumph, of, what would you call it, hierarchies and domination and winning out to the primacy of the value of communion. That's the conquest. The more that that renewal points to the essential issues, now those essential issues

[55:13]

are the same then as the fundamental values, or nodi strategici, as he puts it in Italian, strategic points, or kernels, nexuses. The more that renewal is dealing with the essential issues, the longer it's going to take. OK. It's easy to make superficial and that process can be completed quickly, but the other one is an ongoing thing. In fact, above he said that it's going to be a perpetual thing. OK. That completes our review of this of this paper. And what I'd like to do after this is to begin to discuss our constitutions. Another way of following this up, of course, would be to do a parallel history of New Camaloli. I've started on a chronology, but then one has to do an analytical thing and try to pick out those key issues, you see, what we've been dealing with.

[56:14]

And I probably should try to do that in the next six months, but I'm discussing it perhaps with some other people who have shared in the experience. So we'll see if I can do anything like that. But anyway, we can discuss the constitution with some bearing to our own community and situation. Any questions or comments as we terminate this? Well, why don't we say the angelus together? The angel of the Lord in Auschwitz. Amen.

[56:49]