Contemplation - Knowledge of God

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This evening we were talking about the knowledge of God, and the monk's life as a kind of search for wisdom.
We didn't use the expression contemplative life, but we could have, and this is a good place to bring it in.
Although sometimes it's better to talk about the knowledge of God than to talk about contemplation, sometimes.
The reason being this, that contemplation has come to be something very special,
something very remote, something hard to get at, almost unapproachable.
It seems to be something that happens especially in the modern age,
which separates us from the experience of God, separates us from what we have been accustomed to call contemplation.
It's as if there's a missing link.
It's as if there's something in the middle between us and the experience of God that makes it very difficult to get to it.
A couple of examples.
If you read St. John on the Cross, for instance, you get the notion that the experience of God is,
although very abundant in what he writes, he's writing about it all the time,
and yet he's telling you at the same time that whatever you experience isn't God.
And he's also making a way to the consummation of the spiritual life, which is the union of God.
He's making it very steep so that he emphasizes the separation between man and God.
Another example is Thomas Merton in New Seeds of Contemplation, for instance, a beautiful book.
In the first chapters of the book, Merton talks about contemplation, however, in such a way as to make it seem almost inaccessible.
The person who reads the book, because he keeps telling you what it's not,
and he'll take every experience you've ever had and put it into that category of what is not contemplation,
but by the time you get finished, you're convinced that you're never going to get there.
And this is after the first three or four chapters.
The person can decide to give up and go back home.
Contemplation has become something very special, and therefore a lot of people sort of give up on it.
Or after a try at that kind of absolute enunciation of that very steep cliff, they decide, well, this is not for me.
After the romance wears off, and they see what St. John, of course, is really talking about.
But when we think about the knowledge of God, it's not quite that way.
If we look at the knowledge of God in the Scriptures, we find that there's a kind of continuity,
that there's a kind of a, I won't say a smooth slope, it's got its cliffs too, it's got its steep places.
But there's something which helps us to approach God.
It's not as if you're separated from Him, and then all of a sudden you get to this cliff,
you climb the cliff, and then you're one with God.
No, there's a steep, there's a slope, there's a ladder of some kind.
And it's related to something we were talking about yesterday, which is the sacramental reality,
the sacramental nature of reality.
The visible things that we see, and the physical things that we touch, and the people around us,
and the whole sort of perceptible environment of our life, our living context, our world,
is supposed to relate us to God, not just separate us from God.
Now, this is very important, and it's something we've been lost sight of in modern times.
This is one of the reasons why we find the experience of God and contemplation so unapproachable,
is our loss of the sacramental sense.
Our loss of the sense that everything in some way communicates God to us.
Everything in some way helps us to get in touch with God.
At least it says something about God.
And that everything that we do, and everything that we say, in turn, on the other hand,
can be a communication with God, can be some kind of relationship with God.
Gets it out of the category of the special.
It's as if there's been a wall around God, which has been promoted by a certain kind of thinking,
a certain kind of spirituality.
Whereas, if we read the scriptures, we find that that's not so at all.
That God is sort of the familiar companion of man, or that he wants to be.
We read the stories in Genesis, the stories in the Old Testament,
where God comes and invites man to walk with him, with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and so on.
Now, it's supposed to be that way with us.
And even more so, why?
Because God has become man.
And so our life is supposed to be full of God.
And in some way, our life is supposed to be rich with the experience of God.
Concentration should not be a very special sort of secret formula,
or secret experience to be had only in some kind of ascetical laboratory.
It's meant to be for everybody.
I guess for the past 30 years, it's been much more generally recognized
that everybody is called to concentration, everybody is called to the experience of God.
Now, the danger of this kind of thinking, what I'm promoting, of course,
is that we don't really distinguish contemplation at all anymore.
We think that any kind of pious emotion, any kind of feeling for God, is contemplation.
Well, no, the distinction is necessary.
But we have to sort of rediscover all the intermediate grounds
which I would connect to the sacramental reality.
I'd remind you again of that book of Roszak, where he asks about where the wasteland ends.
This sacramental desert that we're in, which has been created partly by our rationalistic way of thinking,
by our way of abstracting everything and reducing it to concepts,
and this separates us from reality.
And then by technology, which tends to put a shell over the world, a shell over nature,
so that it transforms us so it's no longer transparent to God,
that we can no longer find God in it.
A lot of that is just something in the mind, it's just something mental.
It shouldn't really keep us from finding God in physical reality, in the world, in our own experience.
Okay, so that's one reason of talking about the knowledge of God rather than contemplation.
Another reason is that contemplation is kind of a Greek notion anyway.
It's a Greek-Roman notion that comes from those religious and philosophical traditions.
The knowledge of God is a biblical notion,
and we find that it spreads out to have a very diversified and rich content,
a very personal, intimate, nuptial kind of knowledge,
and at the same time a knowledge which embraces the whole of life,
so that if you live a life of faith, then you know God.
The man who knows God is the man who lives according to God,
the man who follows God's will, to put it in kind of stark terms.
The man who lives according to God, the man who lives a life of faith, knows God,
whether he knows that he knows God or not.
That's the funny thing, because you can have a conscious knowledge of God,
you can have a contemplative experience of God,
and you can have a very implicit knowledge of God,
which is implicit in everything that you do.
So some people who don't even explicitly believe in God, know God.
They know Him by the way that they live.
They know Him because they participate in God,
because they participate in God's reality and God's action.
They know Him because they transmit it,
because in some way they communicate God without even believing in God.
There are people like that in our paradoxical world, in our paradoxical age,
but somehow a crust has gotten formed over Christianity
and over the face of God, as it were, in our culture,
so that people often cannot accept Him any longer, explicitly by name.
But they live Him. They know Him.
If people love truly on how they know God,
if people are able to transcend themselves,
to go out of themselves for another,
for something which is greater than themselves,
if they have that knowledge, then they know God.
And yet they don't know God in the way that we know Him by name, so it's weird.
Some examples of this sort of sacramental poverty
and the way that things worked in the beginning,
they seem to me, looking back towards the Golden Age,
that the liturgy is supposed to lead to contemplation.
It's not that the two are opposed.
The liturgy is supposed to be a sacramental road
towards the contemplative experience of God.
There's supposed to be a kind of graduality between the two,
so that the liturgical signs sort of conduct you, steer you towards God,
and lead you to experiencing Him.
Not just in an aesthetic way.
Not just in an exterior way.
Not just in feelings, but in a deeper way.
And yet it's definitely different to merely see a liturgical sign
beginning to be moved by it, perhaps, as one is moved by the music of the music.
That's different from a deep experience of God.
And yet one should conduct to the other.
Another place is in the scriptures.
The Word of God is supposed to conduct, quite gradually but naturally,
to an experience of God.
After all, if God is speaking to you,
it's one thing to hear the husk of the Word, sort of.
My father liked to talk in that way.
It's one thing to hear the husk of the Word, and to get the exterior sense of the Word.
But it's another thing to look at the face of God,
and see Him looking at you, and speaking to you.
That person-to-person address is another thing.
And that's the experience of God.
It may not be the kind of experience that St. Teresa talks about
in the Fifth Mansion, or the Seventh Mansion,
or the same down in the crossroads of that.
But that's the experience of God.
And it should be quite a simple and natural thing.
Also for the monks.
And because it's a simple, natural thing,
therefore, one can't get very elated,
or I should say, inflated about it.
It shouldn't be a subject for vainglory.
It should belong to everybody.
It should be like God belongs to His people.
If He belongs to His people, if He's with His people,
then they ought to know Him.
So it is especially with the monks,
because if we try to live our whole life in God's presence,
we're going to experience Him in all sorts of subtle ways,
in all sorts of little ways,
which are all the better for being subtle and little,
because we can't get proud of that.
We can't become special people
because we have some special experience.
Those things turn out to be really double-edged,
those special experiences of God.
Because a person can have a contemplative experience of God,
a mystical experience, and spend the whole rest of his life
trying to get it back again,
wasting a whole lot of time and effort and energy
that should be spent in serving God,
in learning how to love,
by trying to recapture an experience that he had one time.
So, the important thing is to know God.
And the third sacramental word, besides the liturgy and the Scripture,
is our own life,
and especially our contacts with one another.
To learn that the great sacrament of God is your brother.
Remember in the Constitution on the Church,
it said that the Church in Christ is the great sacrament of God.
A visible reality that makes manifest the invisible,
that both expresses God and somehow makes God present.
It says and it does.
You have studied the theology, the Thomistic theology of the sacrament.
Remember that a sacrament expresses something, it says something,
and then it does something, it achieves something, it affects something.
And it does what it says.
Very much like Jesus, you know, he does what he says.
He's the sacrament of God, actually, because he's God made visible.
And he does what he says.
He makes God present.
He doesn't only talk about him.
Remember in the Gospel, it says Jesus spoke with authority,
not like the scribes and the Pharisees,
not like the teachers of Judaism.
He spoke with authority because he was God.
And so he made God present.
The great sacrament is the Eucharist,
which says, in material terms, something about God.
That God has become our life, God has become our bread,
God has become our unity.
But it does something, too, doesn't it?
It makes God present.
As our food, it incorporates us into God.
As we eat that bread, God, as it were, takes us into his own body,
and we take him into our body.
But that's what it says.
So, church is sacrament.
Jesus is the primordial sacrament.
Remember the title of that book is still with me,
Christ, the Sacrament of Eternal God.
And man himself is a sacrament.
Man is the image of God.
We'll be talking about this later.
It's very important.
And so man is sort of the central sacrament.
There's an old saying which either comes from a David prodigy,
I think it's another saying of Jesus,
it's attributed to Jesus.
You have seen your brother, you have seen your God.
You have seen your brother, you have seen your God.
But that's the real challenge to it.
It is to discover God in our brother.
As we're accustomed to saying, to find Christ in our brother.
That's the real test.
That's the final exam, if we can do that.
Without rubbing out our brother.
Because the fact is that it's the very person,
the very personality, the very humanity of our brother
in which we should find him.
Not by sort of imposing God on him and erasing him.
I wanted to talk some more about that notion of mystery this morning.
A notion which has been preciously revived by Rana, brought back to it.
And why should it be such a precious thing?
A mystery should be the most natural thing in the world.
But we've gotten into such a head trip in the modern West
that we think we can understand everything.
We think we can control everything.
It's as if we were blind to everything except what we know.
We've gotten into the pickle where we only know what we know.
And that's a bad tradition to be in.
In some way, we should know more than we know.
If we only know what we know, then our knowledge,
and hence our life, is going to be very circumscribed, very limited.
If we're able in some way to know more than we know,
to know what we don't know,
to know ultimately the God that we don't know,
then we're really on to something.
Then our life can be rich and deep.
Well, Rana is one who has brought mystery back, as it were.
Not that it's been lost, but as you'll see,
the notion of mystery has been somewhat shriveled up.
Brings it back and puts it in the center
so that the center and the source of everything that we understand
and everything that we know turns out to be mystery.
And that's beautiful.
Not only because it brings, I won't say fresh air or space,
but rather depth and kind of brings the unbounded back into the center.
Think of man.
We've been saying man as a sacrament.
It brings mystery and infinity back into the center of man
because Rana defines man as being somehow
the creature who is oriented towards mystery,
who somehow has mystery in the middle of him.
Well, if that's so, then man is infinite.
We begin to see what the image of God means in these terms.
Man is the image of God insofar...
We talked about him as a question yesterday.
The question somehow reflects the mystery of God.
And there's no one word that's the answer
except that word that's spoken by God, that one word that contains everything.
There's no such thing as an answer.
God is the answer to man, and man is the answer to God in some sense.
Man has made the image of God in that way.
The image of God, which is in some way to be united with God,
as marriages take place,
the question and the answer, back and forth,
mystery and mystery, abyss and abyss under the sun.
So man with mystery in the center of him.
It also rescues a contemplative life
from being sort of one category, one pigeonhole,
one specialization, one sector.
Because if man has mystery in the middle of it,
it's sort of the core of man, the heart of man, is mystery.
Then the contemplative life takes on a central meaning
as the discovery of the meaning of man,
the discovery of the meaning of human life.
It becomes a sort of focusing on that
which is right in the center of the life of man,
and therefore rescuing the life of man
from being imprisoned within this world.
The contemplative, the monk, is the person
who aims at that invisible center, in other words,
which is mystery, which is infinity,
which is the capacity for God,
which is the emptiness, the whole of man's heart,
and which is the fullness of God,
which is invisible and yet which fills that heart.
So the monastic life takes on a kind of a general meaning.
Once again, it's a specialization in non-specialization.
It's a focusing on that which you can't see,
and by virtue of that poverty, it's able to have everything,
it's able to achieve everything,
it's able to go through the need of God
by not having anything,
by aiming straight into that poverty,
which is the richness of God.
And it's in this way that the monk enters
into the practical mystery of Jesus,
the death into darkness, into mystery, into blackness,
the resurrection into the fullness of life.
But mystery is with emptiness and fullness at the same time.
Sometimes the emptiest notions are the richest notions.
That's why metaphysics, I guess, is worthwhile,
although it has a very empty pastime to it.
And yet a notion like that of mystery
is able to open up our thinking to God himself.
A couple of quotes from the East
before we turn to the West.
There's a little book by Callas,
which we're entitled The Orthodox Way of History,
and I don't know where it goes.
It's kind of a catechism
from an Eastern patristic point of view.
It's quite rich.
He starts out with a chapter entitled God as Mystery.
And you know, it's the Eastern Church,
the Orthodox Church, which has always hung on tenaciously
to this, what we call, the apophatic way,
talking about God by not talking about him,
talking about God as being beyond anything you can think.
We speak about it sometimes as a negative thing.
We talk about him as being not this, not that, and so on,
as being beyond the big thing.
John of the Cross is another master in that way.
When you say God is not being,
God is unlike anything that is this,
that's the apophatic way, the negative way.
Talk about God as being darkness.
And we have to do that at a certain point
in order to liberate God from our own concept.
And therefore, in order to liberate ourself
from being closed into the games of our own mind,
we have to liberate our freedom into God
by talking about him in this apophatic way,
by talking about God as mystery, as the unbounded,
as that which is at work lower than life,
by talking about God as liberty of self.
And then somehow the breathing space
comes back into our life, into our contemplative life.
It has been so easy for us,
and so tempting for us to enclose God within our notion.
Even the thing to enclose God within our sacrament sometimes,
the sacrament instead of being a road towards God
seems to be the enclosure of God.
The tabernacle sometimes is sort of symbolized as
that little prison in which we shut God.
But that's not it.
God is in the tabernacle. God is in the Eucharist.
But somehow our notion of Eucharist and presence of God
needs to explode so that he's not located
only in one little place, but that he's everywhere.
And so that we can find him everywhere,
and particularly within our own heart.
And when we find him within our heart,
we find the unbounded.
And then that thing happens that Jesus says in Matthew 11.
Come to me, you who are heavy burdened.
Heavy burdened with your mortality,
with everything that's in this life.
Remember that shadow of the fear of death
that we were talking about exploring from Hebrews 2.
That's the thing that weighs us down.
The shadow of the fear of death.
And when we find that point within us where God dwells,
then that happens as Jesus talks about in Matthew 11.
Come to me, you who are heavy burdened,
laden down, laden down with that whole shadow,
that whole darkness, that whole limitation
and heaviness of mortality.
Everything that goes under the name of death.
And death becomes a kind of law.
I mean, death is the law of this world.
And I'll give you rest.
You'll find rest.
You'll find liberation from our guilt,
abuse, and our burden of life.
That's that exodus where we enter through the meat of God
and we find our freedom.
And very important to it is this notion of God as midst,
that God is the unbounded.
God as freedom itself.
God as wildness, if you prefer.
God is not a domestic God.
It's a God who is greater than all the outdoors.
And somehow nature speaks to us about God.
Remember in the book of Job,
where Job's friends have all got these ideas about Job as suffering,
Job as having a hard time.
He's wrestling with the problem of evil,
which really puts us face to face with the incomprehensibility,
with the simple, what would you call it,
the intractability of God,
with God's refusal to be encoded in our categories.
When evil and suffering and death break in,
then we've got to confront that thing.
And Job has got these friends sitting around.
They say, well, you had it coming to you.
You're a sinner.
This is the reason for it.
That's the reason for it.
This is the explanation of it all.
And then in the end, God comes in.
And what does he say?
He points to nature.
He just points to nature and says,
do you understand this?
Do you understand that?
Do you understand who put the stars there?
Do you understand where the snow comes from?
Do you understand where, I don't know,
the wild ass babes are young or whatever it was, you know?
So he simply confronts Job with the incomprehensibility of nature,
which is supposed to express to us
the mystery and the unboundedness of God.
So when we get enclosed within our theology,
when we get trapped in our own categories,
all we need to do is go outdoors.
Go outdoors and we'll find God again.
Because it all speaks to us, doesn't it?
It's that sacramental reality, once again,
with its physicality, with its visibility,
with its density,
that's somehow able to rescue us from our own grip.
In fact, to tell us a few quotes about this notion of God as mystery.
He starts out his chapter with these.
Here's a vagueness of the usual coarseness.
God cannot be grasped by the mind.
If he could be grasped, he would not be God.
It's obvious that God cannot be grasped by the mind in a notion, in an idea.
And when we talk about God as mystery, what are we doing?
We're using a word which has this paradox in it.
It's a word which is open, a word which has no boundaries,
a word which immediately goes beyond itself.
The word mystery leaps outside of itself, transcends itself,
and sort of erases itself.
It's self-destructive.
And that's the only kind of word we can use for God,
until God speaks his own name in our hearts.
Here's a story from the sayings of the David Fellows.
One day some of the brethren came to see Abba Anthony,
and among them was Abba Joseph.
Wishing to test them, the old man mentioned a text from Scripture,
and starting with the youngest, he asked them what it meant.
Each explained it as best he could.
Each one made a try.
He said, well, I've got to give an answer to this.
I've got to make a good showing.
Each one was like a class of kids.
But to each one, the old man said,
you have not yet found the answer.
This was the word of God that they were inquiring into.
Last of all, he said to Abba Joseph,
and what do you think the text means?
And he replied, I do not know.
Then Abba Anthony said, truly, Abba Joseph has found a way,
for he said, I do not know.
And sometimes that's the most fulfilling thing you can do,
is to say, I do not know.
And just lay down your brain at this certain point,
and let your heart open up.
I do not know.
You see how we get trapped within the light of our own little mind?
You see how we get trapped within the house of our own little structure?
We have to go outdoors to find God.
As a friend talking with his friend, man speaks with God.
And drawing near in confidence, he stands before the face of the one
who glows in light unapproachable.
And there you've got both ends.
You've got the distance of God, the remoteness of God,
and the nearness of God.
And as Rahner likes to say, it's the very nearness of God
which makes him ungraspable.
He's too close to grasp.
He's too near to us.
He's too much in us so that we can see him as an object.
And so in this notion of mystery to start with,
we've got both poles.
We've got the remoteness and we've got the nearness.
And yet as we find that this develops,
that from the mystery of the Father comes the Word,
the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
this becomes somehow more explicit and more fulfilled
so that we hear the Word, we see the Word, as St. John says.
What we have seen with our eyes and what we have heard with our ears,
what we have touched with our hands.
The Word comes before us.
And then so that the Spirit enters into us
as we live the mystery of the Trinity.
And we have that fellowship with the Father
and with his Son, Jesus Christ, as St. John talks about.
And you see how the whole thing becomes filled in.
The nearness and the distance which are already implicit
in this God as mystery, in this God as invisible Father,
becomes fulfilled in us as we move through Jesus into the Spirit
and find ourselves living the very life of God.
This is the life of the Church.
Here's one from Cabasillus.
More affectionate than any friend, more just than any ruler,
more loving than any father, more a part of us than our own limb,
more necessary to us than our own heart.
Talking about God.
And yet this is the God who remains invisible, the remote God,
the God who relates to us through his Word and his Spirit.
And so the nearness and the remoteness in some way are the same thing.
And we're lost once again like a fish in the bottom of the sea.
What does a fish know about the sea?
In the East, you know, they have this doctrine
that doesn't start with Gregory of Palamas,
but it's, I guess, given its final expression
by the essence of God and the energies of God.
And that's another attempt to explain this remoteness,
this distance of God and his nearness.
The essence of God which is unknowable, which is invisible.
Man can't see the essence of God, according to the Eastern theologian.
But the energies of God which are in everything,
the energies of God which are in natural things,
and yet which are in some way God himself,
it seems like a philosophical translation of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity,
where God as Father, as Mystery, is invisible,
where God as Spirit is working in everything, particularly in man.
A couple of quotes from the Russians.
Dostoevsky has a rather wild book called Notes from the Underground.
And the speaker in his book, the protagonist, talks in this way.
Good Lord, what do I care about the laws of nature and arithmetic
if I have my reasons for disliking them,
including the one about two and two making four?
He doesn't like the fact that two and two make four.
Of course, I won't be able to breach this wall with my head if I'm not strong enough,
but I don't have to accept a stone wall just because it's there,
and I don't have the strength to breach it.
As if such a wall could really leave me resigned and bring me peace of mind
because it's the same as twice two makes four.
How stupid can one get?
Isn't it much better to recognize the stone walls and the impossibilities for what they are
and refuse to accept them if surrendering makes one too sick?
Now, what is that? Is that madness?
Or is there a desire to sort of be depressed and discontented
with the fact that two and two makes four?
What does he mean by that?
He means this law of necessity,
the law of necessity which says that our lives should be governed
by the same kind of mathematical equations that work for physical things,
that work for astronomy, that work for physics and chemistry.
Okay? I think he's got some reason there.
In other words, if we don't like the fact that two and two makes four,
what are we saying?
We're saying that man is made for freedom.
He's not made for necessity.
He's not made for determinism.
He's not made to be bound by mathematics.
There's something better than that in man.
There's something more human in man.
There's something more personal in man.
And that's freedom.
Man is not bound by necessity, ultimately.
For man is free.
And that's what this somewhat crazy character is saying.
He's not so crazy.
But you know what's happened to us in the last couple hundred years?
This notion of science as having the answer to everything
has closed us into a kind of box
in which we think that the ultimate realities are atoms and molecules
and mathematical formulas.
And we begin to feel, without realizing it,
that our own life is closed in in the same way.
Mystery has been shut out.
And our life becomes very poor at this point.
And that's where man becomes subject to neurosis.
That's where man becomes subject to all kinds of hang-ups
when his life gets closed in in that way
because he wasn't made for that.
Those mathematical laws, 2 and 2 makes 4, even.
That kind of thing belongs to this world, as St. Paul said,
which is passing away.
The world which is under the law of death,
which is under the law of mortality,
where everything that goes up has to come down.
It all belongs to this world that is passing away.
It all belongs to this fallen nature.
That nature is fallen nature.
And man is made for something better than that.
Man is made for freedom.
Ultimately, that freedom happens in the resurrection.
We get a glimmer of it.
We get a glimpse of it already in this life.
We've got it in our hearts, and yet our body still has to die.
We've got the light within us, the light which is freedom.
The light which is somehow the very freedom of God
we've got within our hearts.
And we have the ability to say a yes,
which comes from God and which carries us somehow
already into the resurrection.
And yet we still have to die,
and yet we're still carrying this mortal, sick body around.
And yet through this body shines our light,
because it's a body that's healthy.
It's not a mistake. It's not evil.
It's just what makes it a tragedy.
A couple more quotes from these Russians.
There's one called Shesta, who was really wild.
He wrote a book called Athens and Jerusalem,
in which he contends that the Christian world
had a choice between following the way of Greek thought
or following biblical thought,
going by faith or going by reason.
And at a certain point, the Western world anyway,
made that turn towards reason and left faith behind.
Made the wrong turn towards Athens rather than towards Jerusalem.
He contends, I guess, that the East is more in the direction of Jerusalem.
And he makes a kind of an opposition between faith and reason,
which I don't think stands up.
But he does help us with his very cogent,
with his violent writing,
to break out of this box of, call it Newtonian physics or whatever,
this kind of mathematical enclosure in which we've got ourselves sealed
up until the breakthrough of modern physics or relativity and so on.
Now, it's not just that this is for scientists.
This is for people who consciously construct their mentality out of science.
No, it enslaves us all.
It tends to close us all in because it's the air we breathe.
This fellow Roszak talks about a single vision,
the single vision of modern science,
which sees everything in terms of concept,
in terms of abstraction,
in terms of one surface,
without allowing for the depth and the richness of reality,
without allowing really for life,
the single vision.
At one point he calls it the eye of a corpse, I believe.
He was just talking about the philosophers.
Now, when he says philosophers, we could hear scientists.
The philosophers seek to explain the world in such a way
that everything becomes clear and transparent
and that life no longer has in itself anything
or the least possible amount of the problematic and mysterious.
Should they not, rather, concern themselves
with showing that precisely what appears to men clear and comprehensible
is strangely enigmatic and mysterious?
Should they not try to deliver themselves and others
from the power of concepts whose definiteness destroys mystery?
The sources, the roots of being lie, in fact,
in that which is hidden and not in that which is revealed.
Deus est deus absconditus.
God is a hidden God.
You get the idea?
We have two ways of going with our mind.
Either we can use our mind to close up all the holes
and to build a perfect structure around us
so that mystery is shut out
and we live in the light of the interior of our little house.
Or we use our mind to open up reality to mystery
and thereby to discover God in it
and thereby to discover in it also the possibility of man's liberty.
And to use this very liberty in our search,
to use this very liberty in following the striving of our heart,
following this drive within our heart
for the infinite, for the transcendent.
By breaking through the wall that surrounds us,
the opaqueness of creation,
and discovering the infinite in it,
by discovering transcendence, discovering the boundless,
discovering God within creation.
We can use our mind in two ways.
And modern man, secular man, scientific man
has been using it in that first way of closing up all the holes.
And in that way you build a security structure, you know.
It can become a paradigm in the end
because the moment you find another hole
you have to patch it up.
And actually you come to believe that all of reality
is that little reality in which you have chosen to live
and which you have closed up around yourself.
Which is also a metal creature in the end,
it doesn't correspond, it doesn't have reality itself.
The other way is to open oneself to mystery,
to go out into the great outdoors,
which can also be cold.
There's another quote from Shestov.
This is on something he calls groundlessness,
related to that mystery we've been talking about.
Groundlessness, he writes, is the basic, most enviable,
and to us most incomprehensible privilege of the divine, of God.
Consequently, our whole moral struggle,
even as our rational inquiry,
if we once admit that God is the last end of our endeavors,
will bring us sooner or later to emancipation
not only from moral evaluations
but also from reason's eternal truths.
And here we stop up short in fright.
What's he saying?
Emancipation not only from moral evaluations
but also from reason's eternal truths.
Truth and the good are fruits of the forbidden tree,
for limited creatures, for outcasts from paradise.
I know that this ideal of freedom
in relation to truth and the good
cannot be realized in earth,
and all probability does not need to be realized.
But it is granted to man
to have a foreknowledge of ultimate freedom.
Before the face of eternal God,
all our foundations break together
and all ground crumbles under us,
even as objects, this we know,
lose their weight in endless space.
This notion that our whole way of understanding
and conceiving truth, morality, truth, goodness,
has to give way.
And we're going to find out
that truth really is freedom,
that goodness is freedom.
When we've been rescued from this law,
it's one law that hangs over
and overshadows the whole of our life,
and which somehow is the law of death.
Remember Hebrews 2, 14, 15.
Jesus came to destroy him
who had the power of death
and who held under subjection
all their lives long,
subjection to the fear of death.
Subjection to the fear of death,
subjection to the law of death.
This is that necessity.
This is that two and two makes four.
This is that law of moral evaluation,
that law of eternal truth,
or we consider it the eternal truth,
which is sort of abstract principle.
And this has to give way to freedom
because God is freedom.
God is spirit.
And where is the spirit, there is freedom.
And this freedom is given to man.
It's supposed to be the true life of man.
And this life is just kind of a preparation for it.
This life is kind of an introduction to freedom
in which we begin to receive
and to learn to use our freedom in what?
In faith, in hope, and in love.
A freedom which has to develop itself
as light in the darkness of necessity,
of limitation, of being shut in,
of suffering, of opposition,
of darkness, obscurity, opaqueness.
A freedom which is, in the end, our life itself.
We begin to receive it,
and our life is a kind of lesson
in learning how to use it,
in learning how to live it, a freedom.
A freedom which is ultimately the resurrection.
There's another notion which is connected to this,
which I'd like to mention now,
and then we'll talk more about it later.
And that's the notion of the spiritual body.
Remember St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 15, he says,
well, now we have a physical body.
And he talks about this physical body
having to fall into the ground and die.
He says, first comes the physical body,
and then comes the spiritual body.
Now, in the physical body, we're under this one great law,
which we call the law of nature,
the law of death,
of the nature which is passing away.
So that somehow our freedom is shut in,
is enclosed, is imprisoned,
within a dying body,
within the necessity of nature,
within a body which is somehow already dead,
impulsively died and closed.
The spiritual body is matter taken up,
is the body taken up,
the very flesh taken up into freedom,
so that now the law that holds
is the law of freedom,
the law of the spirit,
the law has become freedom.
What can that mean,
if the law has become freedom?
That's something to think about.
Remember one thing Paul talks about,
the flesh and the spirit,
the opposition of the flesh to the spirit.
The man who lives in the flesh
and does the work for the flesh
is completely under that law of death.
Somehow he's capitulated to the law of death.
The man who produces,
who lives the life of the spirit,
and produces the fruits of the spirit,
is a man who has somehow
bought himself a living space,
some real estate in that,
a kingdom of the spiritual body,
who is beginning to learn that freedom
which is our future life.
And the liberation is the resurrection.
The liberation is the resurrection.
If you look at those icons of the resurrection
in the Eastern Church,
you see Jesus breaking through this crust of the earth,
this thick crust which is fractured at its surface,
and you see him breaking out of it
and pulling up Adam and Eve on both sides,
and pulling up out of the tomb,
out of Sheol, out of the underground.
What does that mean?
It means that he's liberating humanity.
It means that the resurrection
is the breakthrough into a liberty
that we haven't even begun to dream about.
We don't even know what it is.
But that's what that spiritual body means.
When the body which is now our prison,
Plato is not, the Greeks are not entirely wrong
when they say that, that the body is our prison.
And the body which is now our prison
becomes in some way our glory.
It becomes transformed
as the body of Jesus in the resurrection
and as foreshadowed in the transfiguration.
Remember when the light shines out
like the sun from the face of Jesus,
and the light shines out from his very clothing.
The transfiguration is a kind of preview
of the reality of the resurrection
which we don't see in the risen Christ.
And the Apostle Jesus doesn't appear in a glorious form
except to whom?
To Stephen and to Paul.
But he doesn't appear to his other disciples in that way.
He appears as a stranger
in some unrecognizable form,
just like he is in one life.
But that vision of the transfiguration
is the vision of the light which is God himself.
We call it the light of Tabor,
the light of the divine energies,
according to the Easterners,
shining out of the flesh of man.
It's the beginning of the vision
of that spiritual body
where matter, where the body,
where our very death itself almost is,
is liberated into the life of God.
So, to return to our mystery of today,
the presentation of the temple,
we see that Jesus comes
in his uncreated life.
He is the uncreated life.
He takes on our mortal flesh.
He comes into this shadow of death,
and yet he is still the light.
And he sometimes, somehow,
capitulates to death,
and that's not a good way of putting it,
because he triumphs over death.
But he goes through death.
He goes through the neither side.
He goes into the heart of the darkness,
into the center of the earth, as it were,
into the center of our hearts,
where lurk all of our monsters,
where is the bottomless,
the base of our spirits.
They're not bottomless,
because he's gone to the bottom of it.
He's plumbed it.
He goes in there,
and he brings the light
within the mortal body of man,
so that that which was ruled
by the law of the fear of death,
and therefore was under the dominion of the devil,
who somehow has the power of death,
is liberated,
and begins to live life.
And so, that spark of light
begins at the center, at the core,
the center of the earth, as it were,
the tomb,
begins in the center of our hearts,
and then begins, like leaven,
to transform the whole,
so that we begin to be transformed
into that living body,
into that spiritual body of Christ.
And the analogy with the Eucharist
is not just accidental,
because this is a Eucharistic process.
There's a kind of collision there,
where Jesus comes
and becomes a temple,
becomes a structure
by taking on flesh and blood.
He becomes a temple of his own life,
which is the light of God,
which is God himself.
And then he collides with the old temple, right?
Because the old temple is going to be torn down.
Not a stone will be left upon a stone.
And the body of Jesus,
the new temple,
is going to be destroyed.
Destroy the temple,
and in three days I'll build it up again.
So both temples fall down,
but only one rises up.
And the temple that rises up
is the body of Jesus.
Not just the single body of Jesus
walking around on the earth,
but the body of Jesus,
which is us,
which is us,
with the light of God inside of us.
And that light is a liberty
which we have to learn to live in,
a liberty which we have to discover
and learn to use.
When we talk more about the spiritual body,
maybe that'll become a different course.
But to see what's happening in us.
I don't know why people start to go really dark.
That's the tough question.
Actually, it's an inner discovery
before anything else.
I think it's a matter of
finding this reality within us in prayer
and then our reading of the Word of God.
Especially reading St. Paul.
If you read 2 Corinthians,
the first thing to do is
find it in the Word of God.
And then begin to trace it
in your own life.
Not only in the New Testament,
but as a kind of discovery
of the Old Testament.
This is the place where the two fit together.
Where the Old Testament
and the New Testament come together.
The Old Testament is like the story
of our mortal existence
under this law of the shadow of death
that Zachary is talking about.
And the New Testament is the explosion
of this light in us.
And we live the two,
one inside the other.
We live the New Testament
inside the Old Testament.
We're still dying
and we're being born at the same time.
And it's a question, first of all,
of finding it in prayer
and in the Word of God.
Finding it within our own hearts.
And then, somehow,
finding it reproduced
in the life that we live.
And grabbing onto that liberty,
somehow, with our courage.
Because you have to hook into it
with your courage.
That's the only thing that does it.
We have to step out
where we haven't tried before.
We have to walk a way
that we haven't walked before.
This is faith,
and this is trust.
It's hope.
And our journey is a journey of hope.
But the concrete ways of doing it,
the first thing to do
is to believe in it
because faith comes before the hope.
And then to try it.
To take that step in each case.
We see God inviting us
to do something
that we haven't felt
that we've been able to do before.
To take that step
and, somehow,
begin to step into the resurrection
and find that we are not
what we thought we were.
We are not what we thought we were.
We are more than we thought we were.
We haven't begun to discover
what we are.
So the focus is there.
The thing really happens in the heart.
And then we play it out, somehow,
in our lives.
Maybe trying it and failing
ten times a day,
maybe seventy times a day,
like Jesus did.
And getting up and trying once again.
Because we are the people,
not just of the Incarnation,
but the people of the Resurrection,
which means that
when you fall down, you get up.
And there are a hundred ways,
a thousand ways of trying it.
There isn't any technique,
I don't think.
There isn't any technique
because it involves everything.
That's the thing about Christianity.
It's its simplicity.
It's the leaven put right in the middle of the dough.
And so the whole of your life
responds to this leaven.
The whole of your life is to be
expanded by this leaven.
Not just this thing or that thing.
Not just prayer.
Not just the services.
But everything.
And especially our relationships
with one another.
Because those, somehow,
are the holiest part of our life.
Aside from the liturgy.
But the liturgy is the,
what would you call it,
the formal expression
of our life with one another.
And the rest of it
is the living out of it.
The rest of it is the,
the sort of six days of the week,
and the liturgy is the Sabbath.
How do you use, uh,
the knowledge
that you get from, you know,
the theology
and the knowledge that you receive
from the Holy Spirit?
Why would it be a hindrance to you?
Why does that problem come up?
Okay, now there's a certain kind of theology
that can be an hindrance, all right?
But there's a certain kind of theology
that tends to build a structure
and to separate you from the reality.
And that theology is especially
what I call a polemic,
or apologetic theology, okay?
Which says the truth is this
and nothing but,
and anybody who says differently,
Now that kind of theology
tends to cut you off from the reality.
Yeah, that's the trouble.
And that's the tragedy
of our past 400 years.
Or it's the tragedy of a lot of the history
of the Church.
Now Vatican II represents
a definitive turn
from that kind of theology, right?
Because in all of Vatican II
you don't find a single anathema.
You don't find a single condemnation.
But it looks towards the world
with a kind of trust.
Looks towards other men,
other religions.
Even those that we called heretics before,
you know, the Protestants.
Looks towards them
with a kind of friendliness,
a kind of trust,
a kind of respect.
Now, we have to find our way
out of that box,
that defensive box,
that ghetto,
that we were put into
by that other kind of theology.
And by the traumas of the Church,
because the Church was wounded
at a certain point
in the 16th century.
At the point of the Reformation,
it was like the Church
had been hit with an axe
and reacted in a state of shock.
And we've been in that state of shock
for 400 years,
450 years.
Vatican II represents the liberation,
the beginning of the emergence
from that state of shock.
When the body begins to be able
to live again and so forth.
Now, that's an exaggeration,
because we know that the body
is always alive.
And yet this thing is very clear
that we've been in much too
defensive, shut-in,
imprisoned a position
for a long, long while.
So, it's a matter of rediscovering
the heart of theology.
And that's why we need
a new monastic theology, isn't it?
The monk is supposed to be
the person who's in touch
with this stuff in his heart,
who's in touch with the reality
not just in concepts,
not just in rational structure.
And so, he's the one
who ought to be able to
bring this thing to birth.
A new monastic theology
today would be able to
do a lot towards
helping the Church to find
its own heart,
and therefore helping the Church
to relate to all night.
Eastern religion, Protestant,
Because we all have the same voice
when we're speaking of that.
The theology which
gets fixed on the external,
which demands to be
conclusive and exclusive,
and to bottle the truth
up entirely,
the theology which says
that the other guy doesn't have any truth,
says we've got it all,
and he's got none,
and puts him in a position of condemnation.
That's the kind of theology
that puts us off from
experiencing the reality.
Wisdom, I would say, would
know how to mediate between
law and freedom, okay?
Would know how to find freedom
within the necessary laws.
And know how to refuse
the laws that are not really necessary.
Because God wants us to
observe certain laws.
He's established those laws,
and they're to remain, at least during this life.
In the next life, I think the only law
is freedom. Because the law is love, right?
And if we begin to learn that in this life,
then our life,
then we graduate into that life
of perfect freedom, which is nothing but love.
Because God is
free, and we participate in his life.
But in this life, of course, there's
some kind of law in the other life, because there's
some kind of order in the other life.
But it's not like the order and the law
of this world which inhibits freedom.
It doesn't collide with freedom anymore.
Somehow, law and nature
in the other world is going to be like
the garment of freedom.
Think of Jesus and the transfiguration,
and think of his clothing
with the light coming out of it.
The flexibility of that clothing.
So, nature is going to become
flexible and molded
around the person, as it were.
So that nature becomes
the garment, the vesture of freedom.
But in this life, we still have to
mediate between
freedom and necessity, between
freedom and law, between freedom and nature.
And wisdom, the Holy Spirit
teaches us how to do that. Just as
the Holy Spirit showed Jesus how
to live his mortal life
in the shadow of death, right?
With that freedom inside of it,
and preaching that freedom.
And that's a fascinating thing about
the life of Jesus, the way he
is the one free man,
yet having to
die, yet under the shadow of death, being
attacked and being persecuted and so on.
Where do you
find that in the Old Testament? You find it
with David and Saul, I think.
Saul with his
spear, who is trying to
David all the time.
And David is the free man. David is
the anticipation, somehow, of Jesus.
The anticipation, already,
of the new era.
And Saul, who is that old necessity, who is
that law of death,
that ruler of the kingdom of death.
And this is symbolic.
It's not on a historical level.
But it's already there.
That living freedom
in the shadow of death,
that living freedom under law,
which David somehow
knew how to do, at least part of the time,
which Jesus knew how to do perfectly.
The fact that he's submitting
to the presentation in the temple,
the fact that he's submitting to
baptism, remember?
He says, thus it's fitting for us to fulfill
all justice.
He says that to John the Baptist.
So he fulfills that law, which was not
a Jewish law, but was sort of
a law of God for that moment.
That people should be
converted and baptized by John.
He teaches us
how. But the Spirit has to teach us
how at every moment. How to
begin to live that liberty within
the law.
But there are a lot of laws
that we only think are laws.
And they're not really God's laws.
And I think
the worst ones, my dear, are the
sick ones. I think our very
mental problems
are kind of laws that we
construct within our own minds out of the
fear of death.
Neurosis itself,
mental illness itself,
often is kind of fleeing from
the mystery of God. Fleeing from
the voice of God. Fleeing from
the presence of our own death,
which is always with us.
Out of fear, into a kind of rigid structure
in which we decide
against reality, and we
decide in favor of something more limited
and apparently more safe,
but which is a health program.
But if we
listen to that voice, and if we
keep our eyes on that light within our heart,
we'll know how to live within
the box of necessity. To live in the
shadow of death. To live
under the law.
But there's always going to be a kind of a humor,
a kind of freedom
in our very living of the law.
One of the best examples is in the gospel.
Remember when Peter comes to Jesus
and says, they want us to
pay the temple tax. Remember?
And Jesus says,
well, who is it that pays the tax? Is it the
stranger, or is it the son?
And Peter has to say, well, no, it's the stranger.
And he says, well, that's not
scandalizing. They tell Jesus to go down
to the ocean, they tell Peter to go down to the ocean
and cast his hook into the
sleeve and pull out the first fish that he gets,
bring him back, open him up, and there's a piece of
money on the ground.
Jesus makes a joke out of
this law at that point, you see?
And he shows that he is
who? He is the master of
the laws of nature. He is the master
of the laws of heaven, the fish, and the ocean.
And so he turns that whole thing into a
kind of a joke.
We have to find the same
we're not going to find a miraculous
charism like that there.
We have to find the same freedom, the same
humor, in living
beneath the laws of this
mortal existence.
I see that. And I think humor
is an important thing, because
humor makes us able to find
freedom in the middle of necessity.
Humor in this
mortal flesh, humor which somehow
is a lightning bolt that moves
back to the ground,
back to reality, from all of our
illusion, and which is
able to make us accept with joy
the burden of this existence,
the weight of living in the body,
the weight of all the absurdities of our life,
and all of the kind of slavery
that we have to live within.
The monk is the person who takes on
those slavers willingly. He says,
okay, well, that's the game, so I'm going to play it.
And he signs up for the whole
course of the game.
But it's very important to him that he be able to do it with humor
in order to find that
freedom. Otherwise, it
becomes like the old custom.
We have to leave
the Old Testament and the New Testament
at once, just like Jesus did.
But it's the New Testament, the new covenant,
the liberty of the Spirit,
the uncreated life
that's being born within it.
And that's the key, that's the center.
And it has to win out continually.
It's like
David fencing with Saul.
Saul's trying to spear him
all the time, and David, with his ingenuity,
with creativity, is escaping.
Thank you.
Thank you.
We've been reading this book, and in fact,
we thought
I'd throw them up.
Yes, sure.
You know how we've been,
most of us here have been through the old days,
you know, and of course, each has their
own particular point of view.
But I was just,
it just,
it just seems to me that
so many, even in that
were able to be, you know, there was
all kinds of laws, all kinds
of restrictions, just everywhere.
But some people really
grew in that.
And that hasn't come out in the book at all.
It doesn't seem to. She seems to be
negative about that whole...
But I was just saying that
we've got a lot of laws now,
these guidelines and whatnot,
but it's just, how to transcend
them, you know, they're there for a purpose,
how to really be
free, and really
move in depth,
and whatever little space
one has, you can only occupy those
space, you know, a body just occupies
a certain space.
That's right. That's another thing that struck me,
it's the body, in the end,
it's the law. The body, and death,
and the Old Testament,
and the rule of St. Benedict,
and our own rules and legislation,
they're all sort of on the same level.
There's a continuity between all of those things.
That's what shuts us in, that's the
burden we have to carry, and it's what we have
to learn to live with,
with a kind of freedom and
once again, Matthew
11, or 28,
or whatever it is, come to me,
or you who are heavily burdened,
and you'll find rest, you'll find liberty,
you'll find freedom, you'll find joy,
carrying this burden just the same, because
he says, my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
I'm going to teach you how to do that, he says.
And we
have to learn how to take those laws
somehow we can take them as an over-serious thing.
We can take them
as if they were absolute.
And Jesus is continually
sort of breaking through that, and jumping
over that in the Gospel. When he heals on the Sabbath,
for instance, normally, he breaks all over the world.
It's not that he hates the law.
It's not that he's come to cancel
the law entirely. There's not a piece of it
that's going to pass away until it's all fulfilled.
But he has to prove time after time
after time that there's something which
goes beyond the law. That the law
is only the first phase.
And after the law comes liberty.
After the law comes this
joy of the explosion,
of the exception. When Jesus
heals somebody on the Sabbath,
what a joy there is in that.
As if he's saying,
well, the Sabbath is here. Freedom is here.
Man is not
meant to be burdened down like that
woman that was bent over for 38 years.
That's the symbol of
that whole thing that we live under.
But Jesus comes and the thing has changed. He's liberated.
He's liberated on the Sabbath,
and that is the Sabbath. The Sabbath
when man is freed from his burden,
from his six days of labor,
in order to find himself in God.
rules and constitutions and all those things,
you have to be able to take them in a certain light.
The seriousness, because
somehow they
express our earnestness. They express
that we mean it when we commit
ourselves to the Lord. It's like a marriage bond.
And because we live with other people
too, so we can't be continually
stepping on their toes,
invading their territory.
And yet we have to take them in lightness.
We have to take them in
Just as we take our bodies, just as we
should be able to take our illnesses
and our little sufferings as humans,
rather than the kind of
Because much can be much too serious.
You've got to be
serious and numerous at the
same time. There's got to be men
of compunction, men of mourning,
and men of joy at the same time.
It's a paradox. It's a paradox
a paradox.
As if the Old Testament were contradicted by the New Testament?
Or something which, as you said, there's a sacrifice in the manner of things that are
comfortably and effectively and in favor of the rich, powerful, and self-sacrificing people.
Very primitive, very crude people.
Up to the point where they're ready to understand what love means.
And so he works in a way that they're able to understand.
These blood sacrifices.
The whole thing is like a history of butchery.
Thousands of beasts that were slaughtered and all that stuff.
And yet, is God really pleased with that?
He's not pleased with the bloodshed.
He's not pleased with the crudity.
But he uses it to teach him something.
But he's pleased with what?
With the earnestness, with the dedication, with the gift itself, the faith that's expressed in all of that.
And at a certain point, he's able to throw the whole thing aside and says,
No, this was just child's play.
This was just educational.
Now you're going to start the real thing.
And that's when Jesus comes, okay?
So, it's very mysterious because God in some way wants those things.
But he doesn't want the thing.
He wants the heart.
He doesn't care about the sacrifices.
What he wants is the faith and the love.
But he uses those things somehow to educate the people.
It's the sacramentalism once again.
No, it's true.
And what is it that's happening here?
I think the church has to pass through ages that are kind of a tunnel.
Because the whole church sort of opens the windows today.
It's not just the young square theologians who come along and say that it's all wrong.
The Vatican to itself, the official voice of the church, is a voice of opening the windows today.
It's a very important step.
It's an epical moment in the life of the church.
There is this other thing, this sense of now we're illuminated.
Now we've got all the answers.
Everything's wrong up to this moment.
And all of a sudden we've discovered the truth.
And that's baloney.
But that's the moment of euphoria of the young theologian who's just come back from San Anselmo.
Well, of course, that moment of light is going to die too.
In other words, that illumination, that moment of enthusiasm, that's going to go into the ground too.
That's going to go into the darkness too.
And as that fellow grows older, that young theologian, he's going to learn the same lesson.
He's going to have to pass through the same needle's eye.
He's going to have to live the Old Testament himself.
Because the hope, the joy, the fulfillment is only in our hearts now.
And it's only going to be complete after it dies.
So we've still got to go through that.
And yet we need that motivation, that excitement that comes from discovery.
And if we don't express it with too much egoism, there's always this joy and this discovery to be found in the Word of God.
In other words, the Gospel and St. Paul are full of this kind of thing.
And it's always true that what we've been doing up to now in some way is blind.
Because we weren't aware.
Because we didn't realize what there is there.
Because Jesus is always a fresh breakthrough and a fresh discovery.
That's the action of the Holy Spirit.
We're wrong if we appropriate it and say,
I'm the one who knows, I've got it, and all the rest of you are wrong.
Or if we say, our fathers were all sort of blind and just groping,
and we've got the story, we've got the light.
No, that's wrong.
But it's there to be discovered at every moment.
It's there in St. Paul.
I mean, St. Paul is just like that, you know.
St. Paul is, in a sense, the young theologian who's just been born.
And he's got this explosive joy and illumination of Christ and the resurrection in him.
And whenever we discover that, now, down through these thousands of years,
it's the same thing.
We can't help it in two years.
It's always there to be discovered.
We've got Simeon.
But Simeon...
Now, Simeon says, when Jesus comes,
I've waited for this, right?
Now let your servant die, because I've been waiting and waiting and waiting,
and the light has appeared.
Now, he greets the light in that way.
He's been waiting in the darkness.
His life is very pleasing to God, because he's a man of faith.
But now the light has come.
He can die.
There's a mystery there of how God treats us.
Whether he wants our life to be in the darkness or whether he's going to illuminate us.
The important thing is our faith and our hope and our love.
There are even people side by side with me.
There's this woman, Ruth Burroughs, who wrote a book called Guidelines to Contemplative Spirit.
You know, it's a mystical book.
And she talks about two nuns.
And one of these nuns has a lot of mystical experiences.
She calls her life the lights-on kind of spiritual life.
The other nun is always in darkness.
She's always living in pure, crude faith.
And she calls her life the lights-off kind of spiritual life.
And side by side, you have people living those two kinds of spiritual life.
And there are eras in the history of the Church when the Church seems to be going through a tunnel.
Seems to be going through a dark night in terms of sent down and across.
And the first 400 years is one of those periods, isn't it?
Even though here and there in the Church, you're always going to have that kind of thing.
And then there are moments, we've seen these moments of illumination.
Can you define the apatheia a little better?
You said it was negative.
Oh, wait a minute now.
Apophatic, okay?
I didn't think we got to the other one yet.
Apophatic is to talk about something by not talking about it, okay?
So the apophatic way of talking about God is saying
God is not this, God is not that.
Saying God is not like anything created, okay?
Or, let's see if I can find one of these quotes.
When you talk about God in a negative way,
you talk about God as mystery, you talk about God as darkness.
That's the apophatic way.
Now, the other way is called the cataphatic way.
You can get it best by comparison, okay?
The cataphatic means that you talk about God,
you describe God according to what you know, according to created things.
Example, God is love.
Now, that's the eminent cataphatic way of talking about God, okay?
Because you take something that you know,
something that's human, something that's created,
and then you say God is that.
So that's the extreme.
That's right in the scriptures, too.
God is love.
When you say God is not something,
then, I wish I had a good example,
then you're talking apophatically.
When you say God dwells in the darkness and accessible,
if you can't really experience God,
then you're talking in the apophatic way.
It's not love as we...
When we say God is love,
God is not the love between two adolescent children.
God is not exactly the love of a mother for her child,
and yet somehow God is in that love,
and somehow the love which is God is symbolized by that love.
It's a tricky thing,
and there's an interplay between the two ways,
because if you say God is love,
then you have to say at a certain point,
well, God is not love the way I know love, okay?
You have to speak apophatically at a certain point
in order to correct that notion.
If you just say God is love,
tell that to young people and see what happens.
You have to make sort of a gap,
make a break in the cataphatic discourse
in order to speak truly about God.
So you're going to have to correct that at another moment
by saying God is not any kind of love,
any kind of love.
God is not this, God is not that,
by saying I don't know what God is.
The ultimate apophatic way of talking about God
is to say we don't know God, okay?
Say we don't know God.
The cataphatic way is to say we know God,
and we know him from things.
We know him because he's like this or that.
Can you say any more about that question?
Recall it.
Well, it's like America's gift from the truth.
Yes, yeah.
The more you give, the better off you are.
Ah, yeah.
That was yesterday, wasn't it?
But the less you know by yourself.
I wish I had that book with me,
that Less Is More.
It's a beautiful book.
Anyway, the idea is this.
There's something like this,
there's something,
Less Is More is the name of it.
It's edited by a guy named Bandon Broke.
The idea is something like this.
I was just looking at an article
by Eric Fromm a little while ago.
He makes a contrast between being and having.
Being and having.
Now, the more you have,
the less you're likely to be.
Because you go outside of yourself,
and you put your life into those things that you have.
So, take the real rich man
who has nothing to do all day
and for his whole life
to just sort of enjoy his riches.
He goes to his summer house,
and then he goes to his winter house,
and he does this and that,
the whole thing.
He worries all the time.
Yeah, he worries all the time, too.
So, he's into the things that he has,
and there's a chance that he'll never develop,
that he'll never become anything.
Who is the one who becomes,
who will be instead of having?
The person who is up against challenge.
The person who has, in some way,
without having a lot of things to confront reality,
to confront life before him.
The monk who has to develop, somehow,
faith and some kind of strength
in her resources
because he doesn't have the external resources.
Maybe that's the simplest way to put it.
If you have a lot of external resources,
you're not going to tend to develop your inner resources.
If you're very poor externally,
you may or may not,
but you have a chance of developing
those internal resources
because you have to have them
in order to confront life
because life sort of attacks you
at a certain point.
Thoreau was good on this, by the way.
Thoreau and Emerson were good on this.
Some of those New England guys.
It's true.
Work is a sacrament
as long as we do it with that intention in our hearts.
If we do it for God, that's the big thing.
And if we're trying to, somehow,
put God's presence into what we do.
But I think the Jesuits got the best of this.
That's right.
So why worry about anything?
Sure, why worry?
And death.
Boy, that's payoff.
That's the Sacramento thing.
Everything can become, in some way,
a sacred sacrament.
Even concrete blocks.
And I know
it's getting an awful lot of love, guys.
Because do you ever notice
all the different proofs
and all the different treats
and all the talent you've given people?
You can be a truck driver, a welder,
doctor, lawyer, emergency astronaut or something.
That's gotta tell me,
hey, you guys don't know all this stuff.
If you stick to
what you know you're supposed to
in your conscience,
and then you're talking about the guidelines,
I think the vows are the same reason.
The vows?
We make vows.
to help us to be more charitable to each other.
Well, we all got love in us,
but it seems to be so hard
to get to show it
or to let it out of us.
Okay, now,
let me go back to something
you asked me at the beginning,
because this ties up there, okay?
When you asked about that word apopathic,
now the vows are connected to that.
You can say that the monk
lives an apopathic life, okay?
Now, people in the world
can live a life,
let's call it cataphract.
They live with things
and sacramentally
in order to take those things to God,
in order to find God in those things, okay?
So the man that gets married,
he finds God in his wife,
he finds God in his children,
he finds God in his work,
and you find God in your work, okay?
The man who becomes a monk,
professes poverty,
chastity, obedience.
Let's just think about those three.
Now, that's an apopathic life
because it's a life of renunciation
in which he seeks God
by moving away from things, okay?
Just like the apopathic way
of talking about God
is talking about God
by moving away from things,
saying God is not like this,
God is not like that.
So the monk says it in his life.
The theologian says it with his mouth,
the monk says it with his life.
He says it by professing poverty
so that he's seeking God
by not possessing things.
This lessens more business, okay?
Moving away from things
in order to move towards God.
And he says it with his life.
It says something.
Not only that it moves him towards God
because he doesn't have those external resources
to affect his heart,
but also because it expresses that.
Because a vow of poverty
is supposed to be a witness in the church.
It's an apophatic witness
to the kingdom of heaven.
He doesn't have a wife.
By renouncing woman's relationship,
by renouncing that kind of love,
he expresses the fullness of the love of God.
The fact that we can have a relationship with Christ,
with God,
and this life which exists is fulfilling.
It's an apophatic way of talking about God.
He says that the love of God
is maybe comparable to the love of a woman,
but it far surpasses it, okay?
Apophatic way.
Instead of being able to fulfill himself in this world,
and everything that's possible there, you know,
a career,
to be a big deal in the world,
he renounces that and he says,
that's not like God.
Somehow I want to express God
by saying that God is more than all that.
So I give that up in order to move towards God.
So he both moves towards God
by giving up that freedom
and saying,
I'm going to find a greater freedom in God.
God is my freedom.
And he expresses that.
He says that to mankind,
to the church at the same moment.
So it's an apophatic life.
And that's the way you grow up.
That's how you become mature.
There's a truth to that.
It's by obedience and authority.
That's right.
And the Pope, I guess,
I read that in a text book,
the last sentence said it all.
What's the last sentence?
He wants you to live in peace
and charity.
He wants you to live in monastery
and peace and charity.
Here you've got the whole thing.
I look at things very realistically.
And I don't read much.
But I tell people I'm a truck driver
and all of this stuff.
But I get it from experimental knowledge,
not out of books.
Good for you.
Thank you.
You're welcome.
There's a whole matter about
freedom and obedience and authority.
Obedience and authority is what you think.
Because in that obedience
we've got to find freedom.
In other words, obedience can crush you
or obedience can make you free
depending on how you're responsible.
So we'll probably talk about that.
Any other questions or comments?