Contemplative Prayer

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Contemplative Prayer class

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At that time, we were exploring within, as the author of The Cloud invites us to do, within the human person, our own resources, our own faculties, of the different senses, how one is so different from another, than the imagination, than the memory, than the intellect in its more analytical and then its more intuitive insight, wisdom. And we're suggesting that the spiritual faculty that's the great forgotten faculty is the will. And this makes sense if we're fleeing away from our own humanity, if we're fleeing away from God in a kind of an age that's kind of afraid of that intimacy, then something like the will is that dimension of ourselves we'd rather not acknowledge. Lots of contemporary society, not at its best, is this kind of victim society. If I'm the way I am, it's because mommy beat me and that kind of


thing. But to claim one's own will, one's own capacity, and then the highest act of that will, we said, is love. This is to return, this is to return to the Lord who is love, who wills our full salvation. We just got a book, P.D. showed me on the sense of smell. And it's a whole book. Did you see that? It's extremely subtle sense. It's its own world, each one of these senses. And then if you take Father Joseph out for a walk, you're suddenly aware of what is it like being deprived of that fundamental sense of sight, the whole range of shapes and colors and distances that are incredible. And I was talking to an older man last week who was mentioning how really humiliating to slowly lose your hearing. People are chattering away and you're trying to be there, but you can be there in an effective,


engaged way less and less. So each one of these senses, to be aware of them, to be grateful for them, to see how they do carry us to God or don't. And so the imagination, so the intellect, etc. But what about this will business? So we will want to come back. We will want to come back to that. We resolve to come back to the will and explore, because it's its own universe. It's at least as vast and mysterious as the sense of smell or the sense of sight or something like that. If you eliminate from the person the sense of sight, he's still a human person, Father Joseph. If you remove from a person the spiritual faculty of will, at least according to Thomas, he's no longer a human person. This is absolutely foundational for our humanity. So that's something to think about. But sometimes our daily life, sometimes the daily life of much of modern society is literally willless.


The will has been captured in some addiction or other, so there's no longer the freedom to choose. I can sail. I can take it or leave it as I nervously pour myself another glass of scotch. I can take it or leave it, but I can't. I'm compelled. If that bottle is available to me, I've got to pour it out and drink it. And then all these other ranges of addictions and the whole again. The guy has to work at that work and then comes home absolutely with a sense of helplessness and victim and just plops in front of the TV with a cigarette in one hand and his first beer in the other, and just passively ranges through this stuff that's to distract. How full is the humanity there? So what Christianity wants to do is call us, not just to think about, not just to talk about, but, blessed are those who hear the


word of God and do it, to put it into practice kind of thing. So to call all that back. And especially the will. And its highest act again is love, which we saw is going out of myself, ecstatic to that beloved as the beloved is. That's the uniqueness of true love. I don't want to make the beloved over into my image. I don't want to just project my, I don't know, anima figure on her and love my anima figure. If it's true love, I break through projections and love that other in the other's otherness. And especially this with God. And this is then slowly breaking through all human idols, human constricting images of God, et cetera. So it's, love is this adventure of, the prophetic adventure of going beyond every idol and simply living the first commandment of our Lord. But it's, it's not an easy thing, extremely difficult. It's not as if, if we take this Royal


way of love, it's just a kind of a downhill coast or something because there's landmines, there's booby traps and detours of every sort. So St. Edward says, you remember our three phases of love. According to the secular, this is like a whole kind of thing. But first is attraction. That's the criteria. If without that, and that should just whip me off my feet, if that's not there, it's not true love. Then maybe a little moment of volition. I'm going to, in a resolved and serious and committed way, love that other person. But it's all aimed towards the fruition and the sense of satisfaction and being appreciated and loved by the other, et cetera. At any one of these moments, things can go very wrong according to Edward. I can be attracted to, in the wrong way, to a person. I may be 55 years old and married with kids and I've just


swept over my feet with this new secretary who's 21 years old and very attractive. That film Moonstruck is all about men constantly falling in love, older men, and just these bizarre love affairs. Why? It's an awful thing to explore. One of the answers in the film was to avoid death. So I'm attracted for the wrong reason. This brings me back to my youth and I'm really not moving into the 60s. I'm really still quite a macho guy. I go with it. I just abandon myself to that. What was the name of the guy in Moonstruck? Cosmo? So that can be for the wrong. The volition, I'm going to go for it. It proves to me and to others that I'm still a stud and all that. And then the fruition, we get into the kinky stuff with leather and chains, et cetera. The whole thing can go very wrong. And I say, but that's love,


you know. You got to do it. There's no choice about the thing. Or with will, with the determination and discipline and will that is going back into the deepest point of my existence and making decisions. Remember when Cosmo, she at the table with all these people around his wife, she's saying, stop it. Drop that affair. He stands up and slaps the table with his great Italian male authority in the family. And it could go any way. He could throw the table over her. But then he sits down and he says, all right, now that was the will. That was a moment of conversion of heart. And that's here. He's going to still love that, but not in that particular way. He's making now this decision of will to love his wife and his family, to pay for his daughter's wedding and the whole thing. And then to explore all the attractions that are there. That's not conditioning. That's not foundation. It's a will informed by


grace. Because this, we feel, is the will of God. As our wisdom at its deepest level is a participation of divine wisdom. So our will at the deepest level is a participation of the divine will. We want to explore what that means. Bruno says that can sound to us just like obedience and passiveness, etc. But it can be what gives us our life and strength and energy, etc. Then to explore that attraction to the wife and all her gifts and faithfulness, etc. And then the fruition of that, which is a foretaste of the fruition we know will come in So this, lived rightly, is caritas. These faces live wrongly, all of which take us right down in the pits of hell. These enable us to ascend into the kingdom. St. Augustine says we're going to love in any case. We're going to love wrongly and then just go right


down to hell. Or we're going to love rightly and then journey to the kingdom. It's up to us how we're going to love. And if we love rightly, as he says again, we can do anything we want. Because that love itself will carry us to the kingdom, which is this fullness of love. So any one of these can be wrong or right. This regard to our love of others, Cosmo with the babe or Cosmo and his wife, but so also with God. I can use this model for my relationship with God. That attraction is there. I feel all this spiritual unction. I'm drawn into the monastery. I'm almost swept off my feet by God. Maybe a little tiny volition there. And then I'm waiting for the fruition. And it should come certainly by an initiate, first vows, etc. And maybe because I've always heard that the best thing to be in life is a great saint and I want


to be the greatest of the greatest. My motive may be very ambiguous. My attraction may be very ambiguous. How authentically rooted in God is all this spiritual unction. Fascinating psychological questions here. And the fruition where I've just zipped off my feet by God. You need to look at that carefully. So the whole contemplative journey is an exploring, not with an excessive mean rigor with too huge a lens from the very beginning, but to be aware that this can go wrong. And this is the wrong order, first of all, for the authentic love of God. If we put it in its right order, and then as the volition as response to God's call and command of love, and then to be aware


of the attraction when it's there. And when it's not there, again, that's not precondition, just to move ahead. And when there are moments of fruition, let them be, but don't claim to them. Knowing that all this is foretaste of the final. So the Christian contemplative life is a purifying of the heart, is exploring ever more carefully the motive. So we can't go from the rather base of craving kind of spirituality, which wants the reassurances of spiritual sense that God loves me, and I love God and all that, to something else that parallels Christ on the cross, why do you abandon me kind of thing, but Christ is still there offering his life to the whole famous things of the cloud. The author of the cloud says, leave everything inside, leave senses and feelings and deep insights and the whole thing, everything spiritual, leave aside,


just move on very gently, and then there may well be a fruition of a sort that we hadn't first imagined. Questions, comments and all that, that's a kind of a summary of where we've come up to present. Is this all very convincing? All right, then we want to raise in this context, the question also that Bruno raised in his class, that is to say, where's scripture in all this? Or where is all this in scripture, whichever way you want to put it? And this isn't just an academic question or a liking to make connections or something, but it's kind of a question of where is scripture in all this? And I'm not going to the basic criteria, either all this is valid, and then we should in some way be able to find all this right at the heart of scripture, or it's not. If it's antithetical to scripture,


we're in deep trouble simply as Christians. Even if it's just marginal to the fundamental Christian proclamation of scripture, it's a little questionable if we want to dedicate our whole life to a particular way of living Christianity that's marginal, not in the good sense, but in the sense it's not quite there, not quite Christian kerygma, etc. And here we have the whole, you might say, rediscovery or reaffirmation of scripture of Vatican II, of scripture which is the public salvific word of God for all of the Christian community. The Christian dispensation, therefore, is the new and definitive covenant will never pass away, and we now await no further public revelation before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ. So scripture for us is this definitive normative book, and we like our private revelations


and what Mary is saying to the gals in Medjugorje, etc. Fine, but that's of an entirely different level than scripture, which is living and saving word and sanctifying word. So in the in the dogmatic constitution on divine revelation, the word of God, Dei Verbum, in chapter six, for inspired by God and committed once and for all to writing, the word of God imparts a God's revelation without change and makes the voice of the Holy Spirit resound in the words of the prophets and the apostles. Therefore, in the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven meets his children with great love. We want to come back to this, but the suggestion here is whatever be the text, whatever be the particular argument of that text, just this action of self-revelation by God is this act of love. We'll want to come back to this,


but so we don't have to do proof texting here. We don't have to come up with all the texts we can remember that they'd explicitly talk about the will or love or something. If this is the case, as it's being declared dogmatically here, that is the fundamental motive in God of revelation isn't just to lay down a series of commandments to find us a guilty for here or there or whatever, or a bunch of kind of menus that if we follow, we'll keep safe in this world or something, but it's this act of love. The lover reveals himself to the beloved, and this is risk and this is intimacy, but that's what it's all about. So that's what revelation is all about. That's what scripture is all about. And we'll see how someone like origin or someone like St. Bernard take this and run with it regarding the basic hermeneutic, the basic key to scripture, that it is this self-revelation in love to us. Meets his children with great love,


and so speaks with them. And the force and power in the word of God is so great that it remains the support and energy of the church. So the word of God is the support and energy of the church, the strength of faith of her children, the food of the soul, and the pure and perennial source of spiritual life. Now, one didn't hear this thus emphasized since Trent in the Catholic world. I grew up in Anglican, and scripture was very important there. But I'm told by older generations of Catholics that Catholics were kind of encouraged even not to read scripture. Kind of dangerous, but read the lives of the saints, read the encyclicals of the Holy Father, et cetera. But scripture, you can kind of get caught up in, entangled in, et cetera. Let the Protestants stick with that, with their private interpretation, et cetera. But here, I think through, we have to admit ecumenically, through the faithful witness


of the Reformed churches, we've rediscovered, no, they were right in that sense, right at the heart of Christian life is scripture. And then a classic model of Christian history and the history of Christian spirituality that I encountered growing up, at first, a kind of a low evangelical church Episcopal experience, but was certainly there in other Lutherans I talked to, and Presbyterians, and Congregationalists, et cetera. So the classic age is the age of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the revelation in his teaching and in his action of his own self-offering on the cross and resurrection. And that is a sacrifice which saves us. The apostolic community knows this through Pentecost, first of all not, but through Pentecost they do. And out of the apostolic community experience comes the New Testament. That's the curriculum. And this is the good news that saves


us. We're saved by faith, not by our works. We're reconciled with God, from whom we were separated through our original sin, et cetera, et cetera. So now this is the good news. We're to get out and announce this to others and to live this good news in Christian community. And that's it. Now unfortunately, as even towards the end of the New Testament times, as we get into the letter of James, et cetera, we start to get these contaminations of the pure kerygma, the pure good news. But certainly as we get into the first and second and third centuries, et cetera, we get all these corrupting influences that flow into Christian spirituality, Neoplatonic and Gnostic and all this stuff, that get us right back where we came from, where I save myself through some secret knowledge or some secret practice or through some asceticism or something. If I'll just be a monk and get away from the evil world,


I'll save myself. If I just get into contemplative prayer and have mystical inner experiences, I'll save myself. This has nothing to do with the kerygma. This is pure. But thank God in the 16th century, Luther has his, what some would insist is mystical experience in the tower and realizes that it is all grace and busts out of the cloister and marries that ex-nun. And then there is the recovery of the, there is the reform and there is recovery of kerygma. And we're on our way again. But we don't want to succumb to the seductions of Catholicism. It would like us to go back to incense and genuflections and special secret ways to do things and monastic vows that prove that we're holier than others and all that stuff. So what would contemplation come in all this? Well, it has nothing to do with scripture. You


don't hear Jesus teaching about, again, contemplative postures and practices and going from the fourth to the fifth interior mansion and ascending into the cloud of unknowing, et cetera. This comes somewhere out of all this stuff. We don't even want to know. But as we get right back to scripture, we're saved. Now, if this were even minimally the case, then what we're after in this class is to teach really non-Christian substitutions to the pure gospel. So I think we want to meet this challenge and head on. And I think more and more now, this would be very nuanced and modified by our brothers and sisters of the reform who are now having these explosions of monastic life within the reform, something like Taizé and Lutheran and Anglican monasticism and all these things that are very interested in prayer and


contemplation and the monastic tradition and all this. So this is pre-Vatican II, as is our disinterest with the whole challenge. Our thing is, well, we don't even care. You do whatever you want with scripture. We've got St. John of the Cross and we have the cloud of unknowing. We don't even worry about that. But now we do worry about it, and monks always have worried about it, because scripture is central for us. It is the normative criterion for spirituality, and it is a great food of our souls, etc. So if contemplation is in some rigorous sense of the fullness of Christian agape, how does that help us engage with scripture and go to the heart of scripture, or does it? Are we still on the margin of things? Hello?


Does anything come to mind? Oh, that was a question. Yeah, that's right. This was even our homework assignment, to ponder this. Father Bruno made all kinds of connections with scripture, also in that light of a knowledge, wisdom, experience, etc. Now we're interested in the same experience using the language and model of agape, of love, etc. What happens in terms of our capacity to engage with scripture, to journey into scripture, so that scripture can nourish us, can be our light, etc.? What do we think, Arthur? Well, it seems to me that if you're listening to the Word of God as kerugot, or as preaching,


just as that would give you pause, and maybe you would go home and over lunch talk about this preacher, or this message, or sermon, and carry aspects of that with you, it just seems to me like the same way as you're reading scripture, there are words that you're going to come across that are alive and active, and they're going to give you pause, to sort of stop you in your tracks and say, wait, I need to think about this. And it's almost a natural outgrowth of exposing yourself to scripture over time. It demands a certain space, a certain time of contemplation, if you will, or reflection, or just introspection somehow. It's interesting. So this would be one kind of classic Catholic and certainly monastic response


to the earlier reformed challenge. If we're going to read scripture, it can't be in a proof-texting way, which they certainly didn't want to do, but it needs to be in a meditative, contemplative way. And that's the whole monastic way of Lectio. And when we do that, what do we discover? Yes? I'm sorry, I don't remember you giving us a specific assignment, so I didn't know my scripture, so I was kind of shooting in the dark. But the whole tradition that the East would eventually really claim about purity of heart really has its roots in the Old Testament, especially in the Psalms. Are you searching for specific texts, specific examples or themes in scripture? Well, let's just go directly to the word love. Does that occur with a certain frequency or in important texts in scripture, or is it marginal? Do you mean specifically putting prayer as love and contemplation as love?


Well, let's just assume the equation and go with love. Where is love in scripture? Is it there or is it marginal? Everywhere. Now, if that were the case, then we're home free. But can you give us a few classic examples? It's not, you know, that's a bit of a hyperbole. It's not everywhere. Joshua is wiping out the people of the new country. It's not evidently everywhere. It's in some places maybe we can see. What are some of the... It's pretty evident in the New Testament, isn't it? Where? God so loved the world. And one giant. Those who didn't love the God, God, God. Yeah, let's take those two. Both of them are extremely rich. So I think we can argue that scripture isn't always at the same level. There are mountain peaks and valleys. There are culminating moments. But we can propose the argument that many of the culminating moments of


revelation of God in the Old Testament and the New. But we'll want to hold also the Old Testament or otherwise we're mountainists. But certainly the New are these of revelation that involve agape and so on. So Bill, yours was... God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son. Now that's an incredible text because that's presuming to go into the deepest motive of God for incarnation and then for the self-offering of Christ on the cross. So if we want to go to the central kerygma. Why the kerygma? You know, the good news that Christ offered himself for us. Why? Well, Christ's will to go to Christ's will was united with the Father's will. Why did the Father do it? Well, we have this revelation and the final revelation ties it to God's love. And then we can go on from there. Christ says, greater love has no one than this than to lay


down one's life for one's friends. So Christ's will is in harmony with the Father's will in their deepest intention. Why are they doing it? Just to put a guilt trip on us or because they're in love with love or something. No, it's just this love outpouring. And so that is the explanation again of incarnation, of maybe salvation history. So then Raniero, you had a powerful text. That's right. So where are we now? Now we're in John. We can keep a kind of a map clear here. We can pop all around and I think we'll see as Cyprian said, if not everywhere, it's throughout the New Testament and throughout the Old. It's not just from the preaching of Jesus or it's not just then Matthew's redaction or it's not just Johannine or because... So in the synoptics, for example, we have the greatest commandments.


Yeah, now let's go slowly a little, exploring a bit how incredibly powerful each one of these passages is. But maybe Raniero has given us what some claim to be the culminating moment of self-revelation. God is love. So that kind of thing. Here's some quotes I have here. Westcott said, we have here the crowning truth of scripture that agape is the very being of God as answering to the revelation of Christ. This is the great Westcott Protestant exegete. Another, Alexander, this is the final breakthrough of scripture. No other New Testament writer ever attained to it, no one in any age could ever surpass it. God is love. So if this is the case, speak, the great Catholic exegete says, these verses are responsible for Christianity's being defined as the religion of love. Then Brown says, this may be the most famous saying of the New


Testament. So you've got scripture and then you've got the reception of scripture, just like you have doctrine and church decisions and the reception. But at least when people, when they listen to scripture, it's this verse that really excites them. And Augustine has a lovely phrase. If nothing else in praise of love was said in the rest of the epistle, may in the rest of scripture, we had heard from the mouth of the spirit of God, only that one statement, God is love. We would not have to look for anything else. What Augustine is claiming is that, so this is not only a culminating moment, but it somehow condenses the whole of scripture into this verse. And again, so if we're saying that this is what contemplation is, is to get us into agape love, then it's getting us into these absolute culminating moments of certainly the New Testament, right at the heart of God's, the deepest moments of God's self-revelation.


Now, who's it that says, oh, God says, God, the revelation here isn't that just God loves, is that God does all kinds of other things, but God creates, God rules, et cetera, but God is love. Implying that all his activity is loving activity. If he creates, he creates in love. If he rules, he rules in love. If he judges, he judges in love. All that he does is the expression of this deepest nature, which is love. So this class hopefully will raise our attention, raise our consciousness. So when we hear these proclamations, we say, well, could this be another one of these kind of mountaintop moments of scripture, or also the fathers, and how then do I relate it specifically to my contemplative prayer, to what I'm trying to do here? But again, if we can make this link, contemplation equals love, then this map just


won't do. Then somehow we're brought right to the heart of Christian life. So because God is love, and then if God is love, then our response has to be in the same way, has to be connatural, consonant, in harmony. And so we get the famous what, Father Joseph? Oh, yeah. If you follow your heart, it's not just Paul and John, and it's not just me, or they have the greatest commandment. Yeah, this is Jesus. Your love of God and love of neighbors. And again, then, Jesus, this is right. This is not arbitrary. This isn't just where I got to think up something to lay on people. This is because this is Jesus's deepest experience of who God is for us, who he is called to be as Messiah, who we are to be. So again, this is revelation. This is Christological revelation, the two great commandments. How Jesus understands his own life and what it's all about, and so he challenges us.


And the first commandment is incredible in terms of what we're trying to do here. The first commandment, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul, with all your strength. Now, that's a kind of a totalizing thing. And the second is like it, somehow coming out of it, somehow participation in it, leading back to it, to love your neighbor as yourself. But here we're right at the heart, not only of revelation of who God is, but of revelation of, therefore, how we are to be and do. So sometimes when people ask, well, what are we doing up there on the mountain? You know, what is this contemplative life, this monastic? Sometimes I just say, it's just trying to live our Lord's first commandment in some kind of more focused way for me personally. I find I can live it more effectively up there, where we're trying to support each other and the rhythm of the life and the readings from scripture, et cetera, are there to bring me back to this first commandment of our Lord.


Again, not ignoring the second. That's what monastic community is all about. So, there we do have Johannine with God is love and the synoptics. Where does this first commandment of Jesus come from? Did he just make it up? You know, he was a Jew. It doesn't have any roots in the Old Testament? Both of those, both parts of the Old Testament. That's Deuteronomy. Pardon me? It's taken from Deuteronomy. Yeah. Not just anywhere in Deuteronomy. The first commandment, where in Deuteronomy? Ah, who said that? Please come to the top of the class. Now, where's my notes? There. Yeah, it's the great Shema of Israel. Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your mind, all your soul, all your strength. So, this is, again, what Israel recognizes is a culminating moment of the Old Testament.


This is liturgical to be promulgated down through the whole history of Israel. This is the great prayer that's to be said in the morning and in the evening in the temple. And therefore, in every synagogue, this is how every devout Jew is to conclude his day, by proclaiming the great Shema of Israel, singing it, and put it in little boxes and strap it to their foreheads and arms, etc. So, this is it. So, again, Jesus isn't just improvising here and coming up with something bizarre or marginal or something. This is just rootedness right back to the heart of the Old Testament, what? Law. Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy at its best. There's all kinds of dreadful things in Deuteronomy, Leviticus, etc. But the Shema we can stand with. So, if some Jewish person asks you, what are you doing up there? Just say, trying to live the Shema of Israel. And, again, the incredible continuity here, this kind of golden string.


So, we've got something that's not just... The second commandment, I think, is from Leviticus. Well, all right. The second commandment later on. So, they say they changed the order because Deuteronomy is supposed to be the work of lay people, lay movement. And then they put love of God in the first place. Leviticus is the work of priests, priestly tradition, and they emphasize on the love of labor. So, somehow they changed the emphasis in this aspect. Now, our first Christian writings, though, aren't the synoptic, certainly aren't drawn, etc. Let's go right back to the pure first explosion of Christian proclamation in the letters of Paul. Is there anything about love in the letters of Paul? I beg your pardon? Yeah, now that's a biggie. It's a little... I had that little phrase put on my ordination card. But it means somehow that everything out there in the Old Testament


finds its fulfillment in agape. And this is a key Christian word. We feel it's a key Catholic word. So, we're not suppressing or denying the Old Testament or the Law of the Prophets. They're finding their fulfillment in Christ. That is to say, in agape. There's something else in Paul that's kind of famously... The great hymn to love, 1 Corinthians 13. Now, if you read that with any kind of attention, it's an incredible series of claims about agape. And again, this is what the people like to hear. This kind of thing. I heard of a group of... A little gay community group that were burying one of their people who died. And they were all fallen away from the church. But they wanted a Christian burial somehow. So, the minister shows up and they say, please don't put guilt trips on us, please.


But proclaim 1 Corinthians 13. And so, we did. But some of the... If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or clanging cymbal. If I have prophetic powers and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, Father Bruno. If I understand all knowledge, all gnosis, all mysteries, mysteria, but have not love, what am I? Nothing, zero. Zilch. So, he wants to be as radical as possible. We've got to go beyond what prepares for the crowning fulfillment of all this to the crowning fulfillment. If I have the crowning fulfillment, all these other things are marvelous. He's certainly not against tongues. And he's certainly not against the mysteries and knowledge. And that if I give away everything that I have, acts of charity, etc.


But if behind this is really not love, etc. Then he goes, remember, into the characteristics of love, which we found echoed some of those characteristics of wisdom. Love is patient and kind, is not jealous or boastful, is not arrogant or rude, does not insist on its own way. Then an amazing claim, verse 8, love never ends. So, there's something about these other things that will pass away. But this goes right into the eternity of God. Knowledge will pass away. Our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect. But when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. I mean, when I was a child. So, these three and the greatest is agape. So, if we want something that's appalling, you know, this is it. This is what the church should aspire to. And I think this is a great challenge to the charismatic movement, right? It's the very best. That's fine, all these exciting things. But the fulfillment is that which wants to find its fulfillment in agape.


And hopefully, we're about that. So, let's look in here. Any comments about all this? All right. Other things in the Old Testament about love. We were there in the law. Is there anything in the prophets about love? Hosea? Oh, my. You could say that the whole of Hosea is built on that basic model of infidelity in love. But it doesn't matter. God will take her back. I am going to lure her and lead her into the wilderness and speak to her heart. And that day comes, it is the Lord who speaks. She will call me my husband and I will betroth her to myself in justice. I will betroth you with integrity and justice, with tenderness and love. I will betroth you to myself with faithfulness.


You will come to know the Lord. So, these do merge. But yeah, you can say the whole book of Hosea is working with this fundamental modality of love, which is spousal love, to try to understand what is the whole history of Israel about. It's explored in terms of this analogy or model of agape. Anything else back there? Oh, wow. Now that's, yeah, that's a major agenda. And of course, the monks particularly love this. It's a wild, sensual love poem. Somehow it got into the canon. The Jewish rabbis were convinced that somehow it's about the basic way that God relates to Israel also. Just as God created marriage to be revelation of that. So, I think Bernard preached or wrote 120 sermons or something


just on the first five verses of the canticle, etc. But that's, yeah, that's again this specific marriage love modality to understand the whole of salvation history. Is there anything of that that creeps into the New Testament, the marriage model? Yeah, Jesus himself refers to himself as bridegroom. And all the parables about the bridegroom comes and the virgins who are there awaiting and the king who gives a great marriage feast, etc., yeah. But that particular is, how can you fast when the bridegroom is in your midst? It has to be festive, etc. Then suggestions that the whole resurrection encounter with Mary Magdalene is a canticle thing and is kind of this marriage thing, etc., yeah.


And St. Paul says, that's the word, I betrothed you to Christ. So, that's what it's all about. Other things in other modalities of love that are first revealed in the Old Testament as analogies or ways we relate to God, yes. Precisely. And so, one can argue, as someone like Speak does or something, if you get back to, again, Christ's commandments of love, also is revelatory of how he understands his mission, then everything he does comes out of this,


as everything God does comes out. So, when he exhorts and berates, that's out of what we would call tough love. When he heals, this is his compassion for the sick. When he feeds the multitude, this is out of compassion. When he tries to free up Israel from all this law, laying on them, rather, a light yoke, it's all out of this. Forget all the, it's the Sabbath for the human person, not the human person for the Sabbath, etc. So, very often, the word agape might not even occur, but it might well be all about that, its deepest inspiration and its final intention. Take the parable of the prodigal son, you know. That, according to many exegetes, sums up the whole of scripture right there. The son who willfully, not for any good reason, takes what he's gotten, goes away from God, and then realizes his predicament and goes back. And the father who receives the younger son with such love,


that's the revelation of all of salvation history. And then the problem of the older son, etc., who will not love this your son, etc. And the father who is trying to get him back into the house, trying to get him to recognize, no, this your brother was dead and is alive again. So, once we start exploring this, we get very close to what Cyprian was saying, at least in the New Testament. It's everywhere. So, if we can make the equation stick, contemplation equals love, then we're, again, we're fairly well off in legitimizing the biblical character of the contemplative venture. So, we have spousal love. Are there other types of love that are explored as ways that we relate to God, God relates to us? So, what would the mother do, you know, in Isaiah about, you know, can a mother forget her child? If that were so, I would never forget you.


I would speak, it doesn't have to use the word love, it speaks of God. Absolutely. Yeah, we're trying to rediscover these revelations of the maternal love. And some little expression of that in the New Testament is Jesus says, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often I would gather you as a mother hen would gather her children. Yep. So, the whole maternal, certainly, love of father, isn't that all the way? And the counterpart of that is filial love. That's a deep, deep expression of love. With love in the modern parlance, we just immediately think of romantic love and sex, et cetera. But the father's love for the son, the mother's love for the daughter, the filial love, this is just at the heart of Jesus's experience, Abba. And that whole dimension to explore in our journey into God,


we journey into God, not into the presence of a ferocious taskmaster or a mean judge or something, but as this loving father, this loving mother, this spouse. This is the claim of Old Testament and New Testament. So anyway, we've got the prophets in here. Oh, these are cold. And specifically in these images of, of, what are we talking about? In the images of maternal, paternal, and spousal love, then the canticle, that very special genre, what about the wisdom literature? What do you do with things like children? Where is there love in children? Where is that? The prophet Jeremiah, about the lamentation.


He says, I was lured and you lured me. I was deceived and you deceived me. Yes, I think it's tough love. This is us screaming out to God. You've seduced us. You felt, oh, that I'd never been born, et cetera. So this is love in its darkest moment. And I think that's much of the strength of the Jewish. You don't get any of that in just the Stoic or the Neoplatonic or something. This is when in intense love, someone's felt betrayed. So in its own dark way, I think you'd have to say it's the same thing. What about the shepherd imagery that keeps coming up in the Prophets too? There's a very, Is that part of the parental sort of love? Well, you just need to explore that, but it's certainly a very loving image. And Jesus is the good shepherd who carries


and lays down his life for his sheep. So yeah. Ezekiel, shepherd. Yeah, and that grows out of the idea that the people I appoint as your shepherds have misled you, so I'm going to explain myself. We've talked about maternal love, paternal love, spousal love. What about friendship love in Scripture? David and Jonathan. Ah, splendid. In a key moment of history, because Jonathan saves David's life through this incredible act of self-sacrifice, because Jonathan, remember, is the heir of the crown. He is Saul's legitimate successor. He says no, he sets himself aside and through this friendship love opens the way to David, who is fairly important to set up the lineage right to Jesus. So absolutely, that's revelatory.


Are there other things about friendship? Yes. Jesus and Jonathan. Oh, there you are. And then that key passage in Jesus, I call you no longer servants, but friends. This is the decisive moment. This is Jesus' hour, because why? The servant doesn't know what's happening, but the friend reveals everything. And then remember in the wisdom literature, the hymns to friendship. Abraham was discovered a friend, he was discovered a treasure beyond price, et cetera. Abraham is called, in Genesis, God's friend. Moses is called God's friend. So this is one of the themes in Old Testament and New Testament, is the whole thing of friendship love, which then Jesus will pick up and relate in his relationship to us.


And of course, someone might say, the arrow takes that and runs with it and flies with it, et cetera. But that could be a whole dimension of our contemplative experience, relating to Christ and to God as friend. Each one of these modalities is interesting. Certainly, there's something of a subordination here, the mother or the father with a little child. And Jesus wants that, obviously, as we invoke God as our father, et cetera. In spousal, there's full equality, but of an exclusive sort. With friendship, it's open love. I rejoice the more friends my close friend has. I don't rejoice the more spouses my spouse has. But these are two forms of equality love, that once you get into friendship love in the contemplative, you really have something going. Or spousal love. In Therese of Avila, there's a couple of passages


that trace the development of love from simply a filial to a romantic to spousal. And then someone like Aaron would say, let's not forget friendship love. But anyway, there's all these currents and themes of love throughout the Psalms. So if you pay attention, either explicitly or implicitly, the love imagery comes up. To my amazement, yes, today's song in Lodz, suddenly we have the marriage imagery there. If you were all attentive, most of us were attentive to the song tone, but I was going to bring it. Oh, the Isaac hymn. I thought it was a song. Maybe it was. We have a question here. What about animal love? Is there any references to that? That's not a big theme in Scripture, I think, unfortunately, except the shepherd and sheep.


The story of the prophet telling David about the man who bought a lamb and he loved her. Beautiful, beautiful. Yeah, he even had the lamb in the bed, etc. And this is some kind of mysterious parallel to David's ripping off Bathsheba from the poor. And then you were going to say... I was thinking of the creation story, Genesis. Declaring that everything is good. Yeah, and also the creation of Adam and Eve, and the delight in that, and kind of the original unity and love that existed. It's a big theme in the whole monastic, and certainly the Franciscan tradition. As this love is recovered, this kind of paradise state, then we go into a... we recover a kind of a paradise relationship with Buddy and Scooter and Elizabeth. Yes? The part in... I think it's Deuteronomy where the Lord says


that I took you up on Hegel's wings to really bore you out of Egypt. And so he locks himself to an eagle. That's lovely. And what is it about being in the shadow of your wings? Yeah. Anyway, these are some of the themes to explore. Also, in hearing Scripture, what kind of love is being proclaimed here? How does it challenge me to explore that dimension of my relationship with God? Is it there in my contemplative life? Isn't it there? Friendship love should be there. Romantic worship love, filial love, spousal love. The whole thing. But to raise our consciousness. I think we've touched lots of it. We're to love wisdom of Proverbs. Do not desert wisdom. She will keep you safe.


Love her. She will watch over you. So that, again, that interrelationship between wisdom, the deepest knowledge of God and love, this union with God, and this love begets such wisdom. Wisdom begets such love, etc. Yes? Some indication, at least, like about wisdom's love for us, and I believe it's in Proverbs 8, Proverbs 8 chapter and a half, where a wisdom feminine figure was in the same divine delight as being with a human family. Ah. Yeah. Bruno, you could tell us some things about that. Pardon me? Pardon? Yeah. Yeah. Is that wisdom figure, as she does, she's become spouse or friend. Is she more just teacher or a guide? It's implicit that she's somehow the bride of God and the bride of man. Well, there you are. So that's kind of bringing all this together. She's a kind of united figure who is not completely distinct from God


and then becomes the bride of the human person. Then as you get into the medieval mystics, Christ, our mother, and wisdom, our bride, and all kinds of unusual things can happen. But it's this exploring and playing the whole range of these experiences of love we have just as being human beings, and then seeing that somehow that's the way we relate to God and that's the way God relates to us. And so our response to our of the four challengers of 40 years ago, having set up this straw, is that with this equation, we're right at the heart of the scriptural revelation as also with wisdom. Now that, and then we would go on to say, certainly there have been contaminations, et cetera,


but there can be enrichments. There can be ways of experiencing love in the non-Christian community that challenges us. This again, for instance, the place of friendship, love in the whole Greek world, and someone like DuPont, the Benedictine exegete of Acts. He's saying that all that Acts is trying to say is that the early Christian community was a community of friendship. They had all things in common. They were of one heart and one mind. That's the Greek, pagan Greek, a Greek philosopher's definition of friendship. Luke's description of the early Christian apostolic community. And so that there's some stuff that goes into a pseudo-Diocese and we don't have to deny all that any more than already in scripture. There's all kinds of influences from all kinds of sources also in Proverbs, and in the list of literature,


and in the New Testament, et cetera. Because Christianity isn't just this fragile Puritan. Puritan? What is the word? Not Puritan. Pristine, but it can engage and baptize and transform all kinds of sources the way the fathers do Plato and the way Aristotle is taken up by St. Thomas Aquinas. So it would be a more benevolent view than of them, all kinds of tributaries being taken in and right up to our own time and Father B. Griffiths and what he's doing in discovering these same things in the Hindu sacred texts. Fine. All right, next time we'll come back to the cloud. We never did come back to that mountain image where is that in scripture? Because we'll be coming back to that mountain image of within, the sacred mountain within,


how that might be archetypical. So think of all the sacred mountains in the Old and New Testament and all the other religions. And then we'll go back specifically to the cloud and how to then kind of guide this incredible energy force in us, which is Eros, which is Amor, so that it can take us directly into the Godhead. Amen.