Contemplative Prayer in the Modern World

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Contemplative Prayer in the Modern World

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Subject of prayer. Just to focus on it a little more, it's really a kind of intuitive knowledge or a kind of intuitive awareness which is not analytical because usually when we know something we know it from the outside and we begin to know it part by part, I suppose, we take things apart and we know them that way. In contemplation we kind of gaze at something as a whole, with a whole of ourselves. Now perhaps the simplest form of that is what we would call aesthetic, well maybe the simplest form is just knowing another person, you know. I think knowing another person is an elementary contemplative act because we know the person as a whole. So a child does that. A child tends to intuit things as a whole. And then we forget how to do that maybe and we begin to focus on one or another characteristic. In fact, we get obsessed by one or another feature of that person for better or for worse. We can be infatuated with them or we can be annoyed with them. But it's hard for us to really intuit the person as a whole and to begin to listen, to tune in on what the whole of that person is saying rather than just one level, one


wavelength. But another way is in nature or what we might call artistic or aesthetic contemplation, just to see a tree as a tree and let the whole of that tree speak to you. Not one part or another, not to say it's an elm tree or an oak tree. Sometimes it's better not to know, you know, because we've got this machine, this computer in our heads that starts classifying and breaking down. Yes, but I know the name of that. What is that? It doesn't matter what the name of it is. Get in touch with the whole thing, you know. We know that flower much more intimately and fully without its name perhaps than we do with its name. So to turn the computer off and relate to the thing as a whole. When we do that, we're relating also with ourselves as a whole. Martin Buber, the Jewish philosopher, he was a great writer, you know, about that kind of relationship, the I and the Thou, I and Thou. Whereas if it's an it, then we begin to take it apart, then it's so many bored feet, you know, of oak or redwood or whatever that we analyze, I and Thou. Now those are elementary forms, sort of beginning stages of this contemplative act which is our relation with God, in which the whole of ourselves is involved.


So we can't focus anymore, that's the trouble, we can't focus in a way that makes us comfortable, that feels secure. We just have to let ourselves go. It's as if God is all around us. And if it's a listening to God, it's certainly not a seeing God except in the emptiness of faith, the light and the darkness, if it's a listening, it's a listening with the whole of ourselves. That may sound like just talk, but if you stay with it and have the kind of patience and the courage to stay with the quiet, you'll find that there's something really there. So it's so simple that it's hard to talk about it. But it gets past somehow the intermediate things and the particular things. Sometimes we need to relate to the particular things, but somehow we need just to relax into the totality. And this is always connected with the center that we've been talking about of ourselves. Call it the heart if you wish. And we have to talk in this sense about interiority, about moving within. We have an outside and we have an inside. We have a surface and we have a depth. And at the surface everything is separate and sort of spread out and is particularized.


One thing is not another thing. But at the center it's all one. And so the movement of contemplation is a movement of interiority. Now if you read the New Testament, you'll find a lot about interiority. You'll find Jesus talking about the heart and what comes from the heart. And you'll find him talking in the Beatitudes about purity of heart. You'll find Saint Paul talking about the inner man and the outer man. Remember he talks about that gift of the contemplation of the glory of God on the face of Christ Jesus, shone in our hearts. God made that light shine in our hearts. And then he talks about this treasure which we carry in earthen vessels. Let me read a little bit of Saint Paul. So this is from 2nd Corinthians. He said, For it's the God who said, Let light shine out of darkness, who has shone in our


hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. Now that's the interior experience, right at the center of ourselves. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way but not crushed, perplexed but not driven to despair, and so on. He goes on and on. Always carrying in the body the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. So we do not lose heart, though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day. There it is. Our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day. So there's a spirit within us, there's a soul, and there's a body. And the inner nature really is the spirit, the innermost nature, and that's renewed every day. It's deathless in some way. That's where the Holy Spirit is. That's where God is. That's the center. And then there's the soul and the mind, and through that we move, and in that we live


much of our time. And then there's the body on the outside, which is dying, isn't it? I mean, it's dying as soon as it's born. It's in a process of transformation, of death all the time. It's going to be regenerated, but meanwhile it's dying. So the life is coming from inside, and it's sort of vanishing at the fringe, on the bodily level. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not to the things that are seen, but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, they pass away, but the things that are unseen are eternal. So that's one example of St. Paul talking about this inner self and the outer self. Another one that will be very familiar to you, it's when he talks about the spirit and the flesh, remember? He talks about the works of the flesh and the fruits of the spirit. Now the works of the flesh are all external things. Remember their impurity and drunkenness and all those things which pull us outside of


ourselves, and the things of the spirit, the fruits of the spirit come from inside, their love and joy and peace. So there are those things which are involved, as it were, only the outside of us, they come from outside of us, pull us outside of us and below us, and there are those things, or that thing which comes from inside and restores us from the inside. Those things which are one and which give life and of themselves our life. If you read those gifts, those fruits of the spirit, you'll find out that they all seem to be one thing. The works of the flesh pull us apart, the things that pull us to the surface and set us against one another, quarreling and aggressiveness and all those forms of selfishness and egoism. The things that come from within are really one thing and they join us to one another. Love and peace and joy, those things that we seek and that we celebrate in community, the church is supposed to be made of those things, and they're really one thing. And what is that one thing? Well, that one thing you can call grace, you can call it Christ, you can call it the Holy


Spirit, but another name for it is freedom. Love and joy and peace and self-control and all those things, they're all different names for freedom. As if freedom and the Holy Spirit are one thing. Now, this is a different kind of freedom from the freedom we usually talk about, from the American version of freedom, which often is just another species of individualism, you know, the space to do my own thing, the space to be disconnected. What the real freedom is, is freedom to be in all that is, is the freedom of communion, okay, the freedom of relatedness, is to move freely within that which is. And basically that means to move freely within the world of human beings. It's communion, real freedom is communion, and it takes a kind of poverty, it takes a kind of death and rebirth in us to be able to do that. Not to be afraid, not to be afraid of losing something, not to be afraid of our identity


getting rubbed out, not to be afraid of our shell being broken, to move freely. So, freedom is communion, and that's nothing but the Holy Spirit. That's that dimension over there amongst one side of our little figure, one side of our little diamond, I think, that relates to the Holy Spirit. Where do we find contemplation? In the scriptures, for instance, well, I think we find it everywhere, but let's pick a few episodes that are particularly clear. One of them, some of them stand out like mountain peaks, one of them is Moses actually on the mountain, encountering God at the top of the mountain, remember, Sinai. But you may remember another one, which in a way is richer and comes before that, when Moses goes out into the desert and hears the voice speaking to him from a bush, you remember, and the bush is on fire, and Moses goes over to look at that bush, and somehow God is in that bush. And he speaks to him and he reveals his name to him, and he says, My name is I Am. It's a marvelous moment, it's so rich.


And it's as if what God is saying of himself, even is at one moment spoken in the words I Am, and at the same time is symbolized in that fire in the bush. The fire which lives in the bush but doesn't consume the bush. The fire which somehow is being and life itself, and which is capable of burning in all things without destroying those things, the fire of God, which in the New Testament becomes the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. You have also the time when Elijah went into the cave, remember, and then he hears the thunder and the lightning outside, and the earthquake, and the wind, and all that commotion. And God is not in any of that. God is not in the thunder and lightning. God is not in the earthquake. God is not in the fire. And then there's a still small voice, just a whisper at the mouth of the cave, and he comes out to the mouth of the cave and muffles himself up in his mantle and listens to it. God is in the still small voice. There's a real lesson there about how to find God.


God is not in the commotion that we produce or in the spectacular high-profile things that we think he's in. Ultimately he's in the stillness and in a receptiveness which has a certain femininity about it. Elijah in the cave, Elijah like a child muffled up at the mouth of the cave, listening to this slight, this gentle sound, this whisper, which we have to listen in order to detect, which is the voice of God, which is the presence of God. Now if you look for contemplation in the New Testament, I don't think you'll ever find the word, no more than you find it in the Hebrew Old Testament or our translation of the Old Testament. It's everywhere. Everywhere somebody encounters Jesus and recognizes Jesus, that's contemplation, whether it be Peter, or John, or even John the Baptist. Wherever the reality of Jesus breaks through to somebody, that's contemplation. The special moments that we see are these recognitions of Jesus, okay? When after the great catch of fish and when Peter throws himself down at Jesus' feet and says, leave me, a sinful man, and he grabs him so he can't leave.


Couldn't leave anyway, they're in a boat. Or when Thomas says, my Lord and my God, okay? Those are the outstanding moments of contemplation, but put yourself in the position of all of those people who encounter Jesus in the New Testament. Those are really thrilling episodes. It may be the Canaanite woman, you know, who comes up, or the woman who comes up and touches his cloak, but at each of those moments where the light, the fire that's in Jesus breaks through to that person, that's contemplation. Now for a long while in our tradition, for about the past 400 years, it seems to me contemplation has been a very specialist, elitist thing, okay? It was talked about in such a way that it seemed that you could only experience it after long preparation, after years of effort, and that maybe even it was reserved to a special elite little in-group who might be somewhere in a monastery, maybe in a Carthusian monastery or in a Carmelite monastery. But that's not it. Contemplation has a whole spectrum. It's not just a mountain peak, it's a whole slope, right from the ground up, right from sea level all the way up, and it starts with the first insight of faith.


It starts with the first recognition of Jesus, the first experience of the presence of God, and then it goes all the way up to the most resulted, most special spiritual contemplation. So we don't want to get ourselves into that pickle of believing that we're cut off from a very special experience like that. We can learn it right from the ground up. And I think that it's in our spiritual reading, it's in our reading of the Bible, it's in our closeness to Christ and to God, as soon as the word of God begins to resonate, begins to light up for us. It's been spoken of in much too exclusive a way, and that's partly because so much philosophy and so much head work has gotten into our theological tradition, whereas if you read the scripture it's much simpler. In the scripture you never find the word contemplation, and yet it's all over the place. The whole New Testament is impregnated with it. And it's nothing but faith somehow free in our being to expand itself into knowledge,


into awareness. I think contemplation is nothing but the other side of faith. It's faith which has found a space in us to expand itself into and to begin to fill. So it fills itself out in knowledge, and the knowledge may be knowledge of nothing in particular, but it's like being caught in a light, being caught by beauty, being caught by presence. But the word light, the notion of light, the symbol of light, seems inseparable from what we're talking about. Even the notion of contemplation has got to do with vision and with light, so we always tend to think of it as something that's seen, but it goes much further than that, but that's where we always end up, is talking about contemplation as some kind of vision. Some Trappists call contemplative experience the face-to-face vision in the dark, which is a fairly ironic way of thinking of it. Faith is marvelous because it's kind of an infinite space. Because it's empty, it's an infinite space for us to move into in intimacy with God,


and to move ourselves into, to put the whole of our weight, move the whole center of gravity over into that space, which we can do freely because there's nothing there. But it takes a lot of courage, it takes the pure grace of God to be able to do it, to put our feet where there seems to be nothing time after time. In the end it transforms us, you see, putting one foot after the other in that way where there is nothing makes a new being out of us. But at any moment we can say, well it's not real, it's all phony, it's just like Peter walking on the water, you know, begin to sink. So actually we need that free gratuitous coming to us of Jesus' time and again and again and again. God has to speak to us, has to reassure us that it's real. Carrying this question of where is contemplation in the New Testament a little further, remember the transfiguration as the real mountaintop experience in the New Testament, and what happens there? You know, you don't see Jesus in a glorified way after the resurrection, do you, in the Gospels? He looks like anybody else. Remember, they're continually mixing him up with other people.


He appears on the shore of the lake in the last chapter of John, they think he's just another tourist. And then he appears as a traveler, a stranger on the road to Emmaus, remember, he looks just like anybody else, until he starts opening up the scriptures to them and their hearts start catching fire. He looks just like anybody else. Magdalene thinks he's a gardener, he sounds just like anybody else. So the place where you see the resurrection, the resurrected Jesus, the risen Jesus in the New Testament, is in the transfiguration. And notice there, that what happens is that his clothes start shining, and the light which is God, as the Easterners say, the uncreated light of God, starts shining right out through matter. It's as if you're seeing that kind of nuclear transformation in which the universe begins to be changed, in which the universe begins to be turned over, so that now spirit dominates matter, so that now the light has overcome the darkness and begins to shine through everything that exists. When St. Paul talks about a spiritual body, that's worth thinking about. See, it's just the body weighs down the spirit in this life, but in the next life it's as


if the body is almost going to be the wings of the spirit. The body will be that through which the freedom and the beauty of the spirit is manifested in the next life. And sometimes we glimpse it for a moment in this life, and then we lose it, and then it kind of sinks down to earth again. So the transfiguration is the first moment of the transfiguration of matter. The first moment of the transfiguration, the transformation of the universe. The Eucharist has a lot to do with that. Carrying it a little further in the New Testament, think of the Acts of the Apostles. If you're looking for contemplation there, it's all over, all over the Acts of the Apostles as soon as the Holy Spirit comes on Pentecost, descends, remember, in the form of tongues of fire, tongues of fire, and they begin to speak in all these tongues. This really says something about the Church. Now one thing I wanted to talk about is the importance of contemplation for the Church and for Christianity. Maybe it begins to become clear that the only way that Christianity breaks into its own


and begins to have a natural, spontaneous, free sense of what it is, instead of kind of learning by rote and by rule and by law, and textbook and rubric and the letter, is when contemplation comes into the picture and we begin to find out that we are one thing with Christ and that the Holy Spirit speaks in our hearts. And then it turns into music, instead of being prose, then it's poetry at that point. Contemplation is that which liberates Christianity from being tied in by all these intermediate structures. You know, when Jesus comes into the Jewish structure, he seems to take it apart almost, doesn't he? According to St. Paul he does. You know, it's no longer the law, but it's just faith. Jesus comes into the structure and he puts it in its place, he relativizes it. He says, yes, the law is fine, but I tell you, the Holy Spirit says this. The law says this in general, but I tell you, where you find somebody in trouble, the Holy Spirit is telling you to do this in particular, even if it violates the general law. So Jesus comes in and says, I want you to know the law of God in such a way that it


is your flesh and blood, that it is your bones, that it becomes free and moves in you. I want the law of God to be your own heart. I want the law of God to be something as flexible and as free as the human body. I want the law of God not just to walk in you, but to dance in you. I want the law of God to sing in you. I want it to be one thing with you. Do you see what's happening? The only way that Christianity comes into that freedom, the freedom of being able to run, as Benedict says, in the Holy Spirit, is when this contemplation begins to come in. Because then it's not somebody else's thing, it's not what we were taught, it's not what we heard, not what we were given by somebody else, by some intermediate, it's what we know. It's become one with ourselves. Then, at that point, in the immediacy, Christianity becomes universal as well. Why are we so scared of other religious traditions sometimes? Why did we ever get split up in such a way that Catholics thought that Protestants were a different kind of creature? We're all baptized in the same Spirit.


It sounds like heresy, but it's more important to be a Christian than it is to be a Catholic. We're all baptized in the same Holy Spirit. We're all part of Christ, in different ways, maybe with different amounts of light, but we're all one in Christ. And similarly, the fact that we're all human beings is extremely important. I'm not going to say, because it really would sound heretical, it's more important to be a human person than it is to be a Christian, but I'll almost say it. Think about it. There's no way to be a human being without being in touch with Christ. There's no human being on the face of the earth that isn't part of Christ in some way. There's no place to go. A human person has no place to go in the end, and comes from nowhere else than Christ. John's Gospel in the Prologue says that everything that was created was created in him. And we know that there's no other place to go. So everybody belongs to him. Some of us have more light, some of us have less. Some of us even seem to be against the truth, but we can't get away from him. We're all part of him. Well, the contemplative grace, the contemplative way, is the way that gradually liberates us


from all the mediation. Now, the mediation is just like the Jewish law, which is a good thing in its time, but it's good for growing up, but there's a time when you have to get past it. There's a time when you have to finish learning the alphabet and begin to speak, right? There's a time when you have to begin to finish learning the notes of the scale and getting your fingers in the right place on the keyboard, and you begin to play. The music begins to happen through you. It's the same thing with Christianity. There's a time when it stops being prose, when it stops being a textbook and a moral kind of catechism, and it begins to be music. There's a time when it begins to move freely, and that's the point at which Christianity captivates the world. I think one of the Russians of the last century said that the world will be saved by beauty. It's beauty that's going to save the world. And it's not until we get that freedom in Christianity that the Church, that Christianity, that Christ in this world can have that beauty, and we'll pull the world together. There's not going to be power that will save the world, and there's not going to be some kind of flat truth.


There's not going to be some kind of aggressive preaching of Christ either that saves the world. It's love that's going to save the world. And the only way that love can come in, ultimately, is through the tranquility that comes through this immediate contact with God. So contemplation is the immediacy which liberates Christianity into its universality. That immediacy is the Holy Spirit. It's the oneness. You can say that the Holy Spirit is the unitive, is somehow God participated in such a way that God and we are no longer two things but one. So, there are all kinds of implications of this, but I think they're obvious enough if one follows the line up. If I speak about mediation, maybe I should talk a little more about that. See, all of the structures of the Church are structures of mediation, the structures of authority, of canon law, of teaching, the priesthood, all of those things. They're all very necessary, but they're not the last word.


And Jesus proves it when he comes into the same situation in the Jewish time, okay? When there's a great big imposing structure of mediation with the priesthood and the temple and the rabbis and the scribes and the Pharisees, all mediating God to people as if they had no immediate, direct, intimate contact with God themselves. And Jesus comes into the picture and he says, well, sure you need all of that, but really God and you have become one. The Spirit of God is coming within your hearts and he will teach you, he will teach you. Each of you knows God, essentially nobody needs to teach you. What they need to teach you is how to get in touch with that God who is in your heart. The essential teaching and message and doctrine is the experience, to awaken the experience, openness to the experience of God in our own hearts. God the one teacher, Christ the Spirit the one teacher.


And at that point, as I say, Christianity becomes open, and because it becomes open to its own nature, open to its own being, to the flow of its own life, it becomes something beautiful. And I think when we're able, in larger numbers, more commonly to reach that point, I think Christianity will come together too. We won't find ourselves in separated little compartments anymore. It's essential in one time because the whole world is coming together whether we like it or not. That picture of the earth, remember, the world is becoming a very small place, and things in a way are becoming very simple, and our choice is becoming a very simple thing. And the only way that it's ever going to come together is in Christ. And in a Christ who is received, who is accepted, who is known, I think, in this way, Christ has come as wisdom, as the knowledge in which we're able to see it all together and live it all together, and live it together, live it together as one person in him. I promise not to carry on too long this afternoon, so I'll finish up now.


There's one other idea I wanted to express to you, that is about this whole business of darkness and so on. It's good if we can find a little context for that. I said that the journey is a journey of faith. I think many of us in the last 20 years have found ourselves in darkness, not just inside but outside, because a lot of things have changed in the church, okay? There's been almost a crumbling of a lot of structures that reassured us. It was enough for some people to have the Friday fast from meat no longer obligatory for their faith to be shaken, okay? But I think all of us have experienced something similar in one way or another. This or that was taken away on which we were leaning. We didn't even realize we were leaning on it until it was taken away, and then we started to fall. And then we realize in the end that our faith is very simple, that we really don't have to. This or that doesn't have to remain in order for us to believe in Christ. We can believe in Christ very simply and totally. And Christianity is extremely, absolutely simple, and that's why it's so liberating. Simplicity of Christianity is the joy of Christianity and its freedom.


Well, we've all gone through a lot of, what would you call it, disconcerting experiences of that kind. Things crumbling, things being taken away, things being changed on us, and we weren't prepared well enough for that. Had we been educated for it, well, we would have taken it maybe in our stride. And I'd call that darkness, and in a sense a desert. We seem to find ourselves without the supports that we had 30 years ago, those of us who have lived through the pre-Vatican too. Church in which everything was as solid as a rock, everything, nothing moved, and you could be sure of everything. It was going to be just the same next week as it was this week. Too much so. That's all changed. A lot of darkness, a lot of foundations have been shaken, and we've been disconcerted and perhaps become discouraged and wondering if it's ever going to fit together again, if we're always going to be in an intermediate zone. There's a context for that. And I think the basic context is in the Old Testament as the exile of the Jewish people,


when the temple was destroyed, when the empire was nothing anymore to them, when they were taken away in captivity and lived, as it were, in an alien world among the Babylonians. Books have been written on that subject. Karl Rahner has called our time the time of the diaspora. The diaspora means a sowing, a kind of broadcast sowing where you're sown out among other seeds. So we're spread out in the world among other people, among people who don't believe. We don't have a culture, we don't have a Christendom, an empire, a culture, a nation of our own anymore. Is there a reason for that? I think there is. The reason from one angle is so that the partitions and boundaries and walls which we had built up in ourselves may themselves crumble, and so that we may become one with all. The reason why we have to go through the darkness is so that we can become one with the people who are already sitting in the darkness. The more you think about that, the more I'll grow on you.


The reason why we have to become poor as Christians, poor even in that which is indispensable for us, the nourishment of the divine bread, the light of Christ, the reason why that seems to be taken away is so that we can sit on the ground with the other poor who never had it, so that we can realize that we are one with them instead of putting them at arm's length and considering ourselves to be superior beings. That's so that we and they may become one being, one body in Christ. So the reason for the night is to find the people who are in the night and become one with them. We hear a lot about that on the level of living with the poor and so on. Well, it holds true also for living with the spiritually poor, for those who are outside of Christ. If we have to go through sometimes a darkness which seems almost like being deprived of Christ ourselves, it's so that we can become one with them, so that we can all be in the one body. We have to learn poverty. That's the hardest thing to learn. After we've been enlightened, we have to learn to walk in the darkness. After we've been rich, we have to learn to become poor.


We've been enriched with Christ. We've been enlightened with Christ. We've been empowered with Christ. But if we hang on to that, as I think the fundamentalist way would persuade us to do, we'll never get joined with those others. We won't be the ones through whom those others are brought in. We'll be more like Jonah, remember, who was waiting for fire to fall on those nasty old Ninevites. But God had another plan. The book of Jonah is very funny, really. It's the only really comical story, I suspect, in the whole book in the Old Testament, about that stinginess of old Israel, of the Jewish people at that time, as to spreading God's salvation to the others. You find that Jonah is the only stingy character in the whole book. Everybody else is nice. But Jonah wants vengeance on the others instead of their conversion and salvation. Anyway, I won't get into that now. But the darkness, the exile, is for the sake of Christianity really coming into itself, really coming into its universality, and each of us having the freedom of heart to


move in that universality among all human beings as brothers and sisters. I had some texts on that, but I won't worry you with them now. I think that's enough for today. We're in the era when, another quote from Rana, but what's happening? Then there's a moment of, let us say, European Christianity, which is when in order to become a Christian, you have to adopt a European culture. If you look at the missionary movement right up until the present time, if they take Christianity in India, what kind did they take? A Portuguese Christianity, or a Spanish Christianity, or a French Christianity. In other words, you almost have to become a Frenchman in order to become a Christian in India, if you're an Indian. And the representation of true Indian Christianity in the church is nothing, okay? Now something different happens with Vatican II. So according to Rana, the second long period of European Christianity, which is still a one-culture Christianity, extends right up to the time of Vatican II, and then we get


the first glimpse of the World Church. What's that? That's a church in which whoever you are, whatever nation, whatever culture you belong to, Christianity can translate itself into your language, into your culture. Remember where St. Paul says that you're neither Greek nor Jew, you're neither male nor female, slave nor free, but you're all one in Christ Jesus? Yeah, but it never happened. It's only gradually happening in history. There was always Greek and Jew. There was always European Catholic Christian, and then Indian non-Christian, non-Catholic, and so on. In other words, that cultural thing has never been solved, any more than the male-female, or the rich and poor thing has been solved. That's getting worked out gradually in history. But our time is a kind of quantum leap in that direction. Vatican II is a great event in the history of the church. You're neither male nor female, rich nor poor, slave or free man, Jew or Greek, but all one in Christ Jesus. Of course, all those categories remain, but the idea is one is not superior to the other.


One no longer predominates over the other. One woman theologian expressed it like this, in Christ we move from a domination paradigm to a communion paradigm. I don't like the word paradigm, it's too fancy. But from a model, a picture, a structure, which runs by one being superior to the other, dominating the other, telling the other what to do, having all the marbles, as it were, while the other has little or nothing, to a communion pattern, where all share in the one gift. And that's what Christianity is about. Well, I think it's making great strides in our time, and so if we're going through darkness, that's why, so that that can happen, so that we can really be all one, because Jesus came to save the world. That's all I have to say this afternoon. Maybe we could have some questions, and then a little break, and we can pray together for a bit before we part, okay? We'll discuss further at this point.


I think it's part of it. There's an awful lot there that's just plain evil, okay? And if I've talked about darkness, I've talked about it without talking about the spirit of darkness, or the prince of darkness, or evil spirits, or the devil, any of that, okay? That's all there, too. So there are things that are not to be accepted. There are things to be hated and resisted, and the things that you mentioned are among them. And I should repeat it, I should repeat the question, because I guess so everybody hears it and so it gets on the tape. What about crime, and violence, and I suppose drugs, and sexual abuse, and pornography, and all the many things that are just horrorous, that are broken out in our time, as they don't seem to have broken out before. It's part of the darkness, and yet it's a part of the darkness which we don't welcome, and which we have to stand against the best we can. Fr. Bruno, what would you think of this? I remember reading a book by Peter Berger, in fact I studied it at university, Rumor of Angels, where the premise was that whenever you had such intense evil, like the holocaust,


it was almost an argument for the existence of God, or some good. Thinking of that, but also the fact that perhaps so much evil might exist in the world today, because there's also so much of a spiritual principle going on, discovery of the spirit. What do you think of that? I think that's perfectly true, I think. This is a moment when the restraints seem to have been released in both directions, as if the gates, the doors have been opened, and good can move through them, light can move through them, or evil and darkness can move through them, and so both are happening. There are moments like that in the history of the world. The New Testament was another moment, when powers of evil, which hadn't come out in the open that way, ever came out in the open. For instance, when Jesus walks through the world and the evil spirits start coming up in people. In fact, the power that was drawn together to crush Jesus, there was an immense gathering of the forces of light and darkness at that time. You see the same thing in the book of Revelation, which we can never quite pin down as to what


moment it refers to, but that's a recurrent thing. Where, for instance, the Holy Spirit comes, you can expect the darkness to be gathering its forces around. You can expect the evil spirits to attack too. The spirit of evil seems to be very content as long as we're half asleep, as long as our spirit doesn't awaken and we don't begin to realize the power that we have in Christ. As long as we don't become really vibrant members of the body of Christ, as long as the Holy Spirit is not moving among us, I think the devil is perfectly content and he leaves us alone. They used to say that he leaves kind of a low-paid devil at the door, just to watch that we don't wake up and get out there and do anything, but as soon as we wake up he gets real active. He sends a whole truckload full of sort of contra, super-armed devils to try to quench what's happening. That's the way it is. I think we find it in our own life. If you have a big illumination in your life, if you experience the baptism of the Holy


Spirit, you can be sure that not too far down the road you're going to meet up with a very powerful force of darkness as well. It's as if there's a kind of balance, like a sine wave, and that everything that's given has to be tested. Another example is Jesus, say, who receives a kind of baptism in the Holy Spirit, you can say, at the Jordan, remember? And immediately he goes out into the desert to be tempted. It's as if symbolically, at least at that moment, he comes into the fullness of his charism, of his gift. He's empowered, you know? He's given this new gift of the Spirit, whatever that was, to go out and begin to preach and to work and to heal in the world. But immediately, as soon as he's filled with that power, it has to go out and he has to fast for 40 days and nights and let it be tested. And that seems the standard pattern. Similarly, the whole New Testament. And, say, early Christianity and the amount of persecution that there was around early Christianity, the amount of just plain horrible evil, it comes down to us somewhat mellowed,


but if you read the accounts of the martyrs and what they really did to the Christians in those days. So the coming of good into the world, the coming of God into the world, is viciously resisted. And wherever Christians wake up to the divinity that's in them, you can be sure that the hammer of darkness will come down pretty soon. And that's why Jesus has to say so many times to his disciples that, you know, the things that are happening to me are going to happen to you too. He has to warn them so many times in their exultant moments that they're going to have to pick up their cross and follow him along the same road. To the extent that there's good, you can expect that the evil will be present. Which doesn't mean that it's an even thing, but that's the shape of the road, the journey of faith. And at times we're going to feel that we're all done. At times we're going to feel that the evil is much stronger than the good. There will be things that will happen in our lives that will make us think that the good has finally been crushed. And probably that it's our own fault, okay, that we were too weak, that we were too unfaithful,


that we somehow couldn't carry through, that we somehow betrayed God and Christ in an irrevocable way, and that we're finished. That's a big temptation, because it's never true. We're never finished. It's very true that there's a terrific outbreak of unrestrained evil in our time. Especially that it carries away the young people, I think, who are sort of defenseless against it, because we don't have a strong tradition to help them. And it pours in everywhere. It pours through the TV, it pours through the walls now. It couldn't do that in the old days. In the old days, if children were kept at home and so on, they were protected. That's right. We've got to recreate a sense of sin within ourselves now. In other words, we've got to know within ourselves what's right and what's wrong, because there's nobody right there to tell us. If we listen to the fellow who tells us over here, he's too lax, even a priest. And if we listen to the one over here, he's too rigid. In other words, there are people who have a very strict morality, but it's a morality


of super-caution and super-security, so that it will bind your hand and foot and you won't have any freedom at all. I'm not saying that there's just a flat walk between, say, licentiousness and, what would you call it, and over-caution. But it's just as well as people can be too permissive, they can be too restrictive. We find the war between those two in a church, and each calling the other sort of bad names. Q. You say in the world we'll be saved one day, people who are really caught up now, some people who are drug addicts, some people who are just completely devoid of anything, you're saying that one day they will turn away from that. A. You see, many people like that can't be reached by the law anymore. They can't be reached by a kind of Christianity which comes across just mentally. Or comes across as the old stern religion, the old religion.


That somehow we've become immunized, a whole generation has become immunized to Christ by the way that their religion was being passed on to them, because we've gotten too far away from the fullness of our tradition which contains beauty, which carries beauty along with it, a kind of Christian culture where there's music and song and there's poetry and there's everything, and a conception of Christ, an image of Christ which is warm enough and human enough so it contains that beauty within it. Well, we've got a generation, a younger generation, which has got antibodies against Christ from the way that the tradition has been transmitted, and it's nobody's fault, it seems. We can't put our finger on the fault. So the only way they're going to be won back is by somehow the genuine interior Christ, the Christ of beauty breaking through to them again. Now, I don't want to speak over-simply, you know, and over-generally, because all kinds of different things happen in people's lives, and sometimes a person is jarred, is stunned into conversion, but ultimately it's got to touch the heart, and what the heart


is touched by is beauty. And beauty is the manifestation of the glory of God, but the trouble is that beauty too has been... What has happened to beauty in our culture at present? It's been turned into pornography, it's been turned into... It's reversed, it's been inverted, because even beauty is a very ambivalent thing. But not when we get to a certain level, above a certain level, beauty is simply the attraction of God. It sometimes bothers me that one may be superior to the other. It may be. The rosary is a wonderful prayer, and I think the rosary is a school of prayer and of meditation in a way. And a lot of people, I think, have been unable to listen to those messages, for instance, of Fatima, because they get appropriated by people way on the right side of the church, which then put the whole message across with a good deal of their own, you know, kind of compulsiveness. So, Our Lady's appearances are very significant in these past couple of centuries.


Often she appears to children, very important. Often she appears in close relationship to the earth, also, very important. She seems to be Lady Wisdom, sometimes, or the femininity of God manifesting itself when that other side of God can no longer be heard. That immunity that we have, as it were, to the masculine side of God, means that God has to come to us in a feminine way. God has to come through us, to us through Mary, through that kind of wisdom which contains beauty within it. But when it gets appropriated by certain people in the church, almost as if it were their own, and then used sometimes in the wrong way, then a lot of people get turned off by it. But here again, I don't want to make too many generalizations. I think we have to pay attention to Yes to Fatima.