Contemplative Prayer

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Contemplative Prayer Class

AI Summary: 





A specific consideration of contemplation in Christianity and what's distinctive about it. In other words, what's the connection between contemplation as we've been talking about it, starting from Merton, and the essence of Christianity? In other words, is there a connection? Are they two different points or are they the same thing or how are they related? You have a handout there with John's prologue on it, we'll talk about that in a little while when we talk about baptism and contemplation. Next time, next time isn't going to be next week because next week we have Luke and Acts, right? So it will be two weeks from today or two weeks from yesterday. Let's go on then to Merton section 4, which you should have read three times already by now. Okay, just to review a little bit, we were talking last time about contemplation in Christianity and our principle was that it's everywhere in the New Testament because it relates to


the core of the New Testament, which is the unitive reality that comes into the world and opens up within us in Jesus, in his death and resurrection and in baptism. And our contention is that that's what the Gospels are about really. It's most visible in the Gospel of John, especially at the Last Supper in John's Gospel where Jesus is talking about that new reality and doesn't say a word about baptism. He washes the feet of his disciples, remember, right at the beginning as if he were going to put the whole supper in the tone of that gesture. And then he talks about this new union which they're going to have and which is simply the realization of baptism. That's our contention. And which from start to finish is a contemplative experience, even though the word contemplation doesn't appear there either. So baptism and contemplation are not talked about and yet that's what the whole thing is about. So you can see how they talk about hermeneutics, but a hermeneutic is needed really in reading the New Testament in order to find the fullness that's at its center, the fullness and the


power that's at its center. And the hermeneutic that we use is extremely important. We can use a minimalist hermeneutic, a hermeneutic of suspicion as it were, and you won't find a thing, you won't find a ghost of a spiritual experience in the New Testament. In fact, you'll take it apart and attribute it all to somebody else. If you use a maximalist hermeneutic, what you find is it's all one thing, it's all talking about one thing, and that one thing is the, you can say from an experiential angle, is the experience of the new unitive being which you both receive, know and become through baptism in Jesus Christ. So, that's sort of the thesis. We talked about those various doors into this contemplative center, if we wish to call it that. To call it that is to abuse it a bit, because contemplation is only one angle, one aspect. We're talking about being, really. Remember how Martin started talking about being in terms of identity, in terms of oneself. And sometimes he'll talk about it in a very metaphysical way, as a kind of experience


of pure being, the emptiness and the luminosity of pure being. He'll talk about that kind of thing. Sometimes he'll talk about it in, what would you say, anthropological terms, as being our self, our new self, our true self. The self in which, obviously, we had to be created in the beginning, but somehow recreated, restored, and not only restored, but somehow lit up, somehow turned on in this experience of Christ. I'm reading a little bit about contemporary physics now, and every once in a while something just lights up. And here's an example. Did I bring it with me? I hope so. Regarding your kind of... I don't like that word, hermeneutics, but I haven't found another one that's quite pleasant. If I don't have it with me, I'll just try to paraphrase it for you. But, you know, they try to find these unified theories of physics to bring all of the forces


and all of the particles, all of the energies, and all of the structures in physics together. And so they get them down, you know, to four forces, and then they get them down to... They show how two of those are connected, and so on, and they didn't have such good luck with the particles, because you get it down to about three particles, and then you find another hundred underneath the subatomic particles, the nuclear particles, and subnuclear, whatever. But they find, increasingly, that if you go back to a state of very high energy, things simplify. And this is what the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe is about, and that's why they built those super colliders, you know, those enormous rings and hoops to accelerate particles, to try to get back to the high energy initial state. Now, immediately you can see a parallel to the kind of hermeneutic we're using for Christianity, to get back to that original quantum, as it were, the Christ quantum, which is like the


original great photon, according to the Big Bang theory, containing all of the energy and all of the matter, too, still in a kind of un-crystallized, un-congealed form, but containing the whole of creation, the whole of reality as we know it, the cosmos, in a high energy state, in which it's all somehow in a state of original simplicity. Do you see how the way that we read the New Testament is similar to that? The theory, the hypothesis that is underneath our reading of the New Testament is that in the New Testament we have something similar to that. We have, in other words, an initial moment, and that's why the New Testament is sacred scripture. That's why the New Testament is considered to be inspired. Up to the death, what is it, of the last apostle? Because that is the original quantum of everything that comes afterwards. It's as if we believe that the whole thing is there somehow, in a compressed form, in an as yet, what would you call it, unexplicitated form, in an implicate or implicit form, all


concentrated there in that moment, that it's all there. And it's all there in its simplicity. Now, that's the key to a sapiential reading, you see, of Christianity, of the New Testament, that it's all there in its simplicity. When John says that in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and all things came from the Word, and then the Word comes into the world as light, and so on, and we've seen that light, and that light has opened up inside of us. See, that's where the wisdom interpretation of the New Testament and of Christian monasticism starts, in that thesis of an original simplicity, which is all contained in Jesus, and then it's all contained in the Holy Spirit, in the baptismal experience, and then progressively opens up and differentiates itself later. Okay. We talk about the word initiation, you know, that baptism is initiation, and this morning I want to talk particularly about baptism as the, what would you call it, primordial contemplative or unitive experience in Christianity. But initiation takes us back to the beginning, doesn't it?


And there's been a rediscovery of Christian initiation in our time since Vatican II, the RCIA, and that very important move, very important move back towards the beginning. We talk about the beginning as creation, the beginning is also new creation. Note the prologues of both the Gospel of John and the First Letter of John begin practically with that word arche, beginning, okay? Now, that word is the first word of Genesis 1, isn't it? So it's a deliberate allusion back to the original creation, the first day of creation, and what's it saying? It's saying that this New Testament, this coming of Jesus and what comes from him is a new creation. In other words, it's starting all over again. But to find out what it is, you have to go back to this arche, this beginning. God at the beginning, in other words. So God is at the beginning. When we say creator, we mean God is at the beginning. When we say father, we mean God is at the beginning, don't we? Because God is the generator.


And what's the relationship between creator and father? The creator, we think at least, we imagine ourselves as being outside God, don't we? We imagine that creation is being sort of flung out there. Remember Michelangelo's Sistine Fresco there? Adam at the tip of God's finger. We imagine that. But with father, what happens? It's still God at the beginning, but it's God as the personal source of your own being in Christ, in Jesus. And those words to Jesus at his baptism, you are my beloved son, you are my beloved child, and you I am well pleased. See, those apply to us. That's our baptism. So God at the beginning as father is no longer creation conceived out there, but generation, which is this source in a unitive sense. That is within God, brought into God. To be brought into God's kingdom is to be brought into God in this particular personal way, which is sonship, childhood.


That word son is an embarrassment particularly there, isn't it? The non-inclusive language at that point of baptism. We'll see in John's prologue that he's given us power to become children of God. Okay, you can think also of Irenaeus' recapitulation in these terms. You move back to the beginning, and in the beginning you find everything. You move in Christ. What Christ is, is the beginning brought into the world, is the child of the father brought into the world, so that moving into that child we move into the father, and are recreated in what is now not an exteriorized, dualized, dualistic relationship to the source, but a unitive relationship to the source that is recreated within God. When John says at the end of his prologue, nobody's ever seen God, the one who is in the bosom of the father, he has made him known. And he doesn't say he has made him seen, he says he has made him known, because that knowing is the knowing from and in


that same relationship to the father which Jesus has, which he expresses as in the bosom of the father, which is still a physical metaphor, but really means union. That which John is talking about, or Jesus is talking about in the whole of the Last Supper discourse of John's Gospel. So we looked at only a few of our New Testament texts. You have a string of them there in that handout number six. And we talked about the various forms in which contemplation appears. And now I'd like to use this other physical expression, the red shift, once again. The red shift is what happens when you're moving away from a source, a source of light. You're moving away from a star, and say it's a white star, when you're just stationary, looking at it. Then you move away from it, and as you move away, the light turns red. As you move away from the source, it turns from white to red. It goes down in frequency, down in energy, it seems,


and increases in wavelength. There are analogies to that, both in moving from the, let's say, the Greek notion of contemplation, or the Neoplatonic notion of contemplation, or the Buddhist experience of enlightenment, into the Christian, into the New Testament world. And the contemplation that we find there, somehow, is, I think, manifesting this red shift, in that it's much more connected with the warm end of the spectrum, that is, with the affective end of the spectrum, much more identified with love, and with the koinonia, which is, of course, either identical with that love, or is the source, the font, and the fullness of that love. And you find it also within the Christian world, in this sense. That you have an initial experience of enlightenment, that is, say, of the white light, or the dawn light, the pure white light of dawn. But what happens then is, you don't keep experiencing that,


you move towards the red, you move into the red, as it were. Maybe it's a deficit, I don't know. You move, the red shift, you move from the white light to the red light, in a sense. I put it before, as you're moving from baptism to Eucharist, but you move from illumination to a transformation. You move from light to fire. You move from something that you experience, as it were, this kind of explosion of experience, to a disappearance of experience, so that you're not experiencing, let us say, the unitive, but you're being transformed into it, which can be very painful. And this is what, of course, John on the Cross is writing about. And a lot of our schemes, of course, don't really like that. I mean, that's just the word of the Cross in a different language. And our schemes are very much ego-projected, I think, sometimes, so that we expect to go from glory to glory. But really, oftentimes, the glory is experienced in the beginning, and then the rest of life is a kind of incarnation of that glory. And this is what you find, I think, when you find baptism talked about,


and then the Christian life that's consequent upon baptism in the New Testament. For instance, often in Paul. I don't want to push that too hard, but I think we have to recognize it. That oftentimes there's a great illumination in the beginning, and then afterwards, what we're up to, our assignment, as it were, is not to move on to greater and greater illumination, but to realize that illumination actually in life, to make the unitive experience a unitive life. Which means a kind of death, okay? That's the movement to the Eucharistic phase. So we'll find that in some of these texts. It's not at all hard to find. I went through that list of texts on that handout 6, that's page 3 and the following, to see how many were related, either explicitly or sort of proximately, you know, more or less, to baptism. I found a great number of them are. Most of them are. Most of them are sort of in the aura of baptism,


and many of them are directly related to baptism, and explicitly so. You get the feeling after a while that nearly all these texts are in the aura of baptism, and now and then you move to the, what would you call it, to the sacramental core or source, which is baptism, and mention it explicitly. But the rest of the time you're still in that area. And we were picking out texts in which we thought we found that unitive experience, which we've described as contemplation. For instance, wherever there's mention of the movement from the old state to the new state, baptism is right there, right in the back of the writer's mind, as it were. It's right suspended in the air, from death to life. Whenever they talk about that in the New Testament, baptism is implicit. From darkness to light, from sin to grace, from law to spirit. See, that phase change is a nearly explicit saying of baptism.


Wherever it said that you died with Christ and are risen with Christ, and often that's said without a mention of baptism, but it directly implies baptism. Wherever it said that you were a new creation, also. See, this is something that's happened. He doesn't say you have to make yourself a new creation or something like that. This is something that's happened. And then you have to realize it in some way. But it's something that's a given. It's at the beginning. That's baptism. Wherever the new condition is used as the basis of an exhortation, a moral exhortation of some kind. For instance, in Paul's letters. Typically, the structure of his letters seems to be that this has happened to you, you've been given this, the grace of God has come and changed you from what you were into what you are now. And then the consequence of that is that you have to live this way. So Paul's continually doing that. But what is that gift, that reception of the new state? That's baptism. So that's always implicit in those discourses, the ones that are structured in that way. It's not just that you've been told something, not just you've received the Gospel,


but you've received, actually, and experienced this. This is most explicit in Galatians, remember? Where he says, well, where did you get the Spirit? How did you experience the Spirit? Was it through the works of the Lord or was it through belief in Christ? See, baptism is directly implicit there, because the experience of the Spirit is through baptism, with a few exceptions that you see in the New Testament, like Cornelius. Wherever it's said that you are children of God, sons of God, born of God, that too is a nearly explicit reference to baptism. Wherever it's said that you have received the Holy Spirit, for instance, in Romans 8, where Paul says that the Spirit is crying out in your heart, often when you start reading those texts, you read them on for a while, and then all of a sudden you stumble on the explicit mention of baptism, which is true in Romans 8. You sort of taste that aura, that flavor of the baptismal experience, and then pretty soon you run into an explicit, a very nearly explicit mention of baptism. We'll see a couple of those.


Nearly every one of the Johannine texts in that list is closely related to baptism. Let's take a look at just a couple of these. And first of all, at the prologue, that way you'll be able to forget about that fixing diagram. That's handout number 8, the one you just got. The way the diagram works is it moves up from the bottom. The prologue of John is John chapter 1, verses 1 through 18. Now here, beneath this, is the proposal that it's structured chiastically. There's that word again. And not only chiastically, but in a fourfold chiastic way. So the idea is it's got a center, and the center of it, in a broad sense, is verses 12 and 13, which you find in the square in the middle. In the narrowest sense, the center is just verse 12. But to all who received him or believed in his name,


he gave power to become children of God. Now, it's divided into five parts, and that center is the third part. You start at the bottom. Part 1 is reading up from the bottom of the page, verses 1 through 8. Part 2 is over on your right, verses 9 through 11, and that reads down, because it's actually the movement is lateral, it's across, it's not up. And then part 3 is the center in the square. Part 4 is verse 14 alone, which also reads down. And then part 5, the final part, reads upward from there, sort of the head of the diagram, from 15 through 18. Okay, now, there are three phases, you can say very crudely in this prologue. One is, we could call it the unitive revelation, and that's where the word and the light come into the world, and they're perceived, they're in the world, and either people get it or people don't get it.


Either the light is received or it's not received. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it, and did not receive it either. The true light which enlightens everyone, verse 9, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. See, that's all that matter of revelation, isn't it? But what is the revelation? The revelation is the revelation of the light, which is the revelation of the word, which is that which is God, and came into the world, and out of it all things were made. The divine fullness which has come into the world, which I've been speaking of as the unitive. Then in part 3, you get the change, okay? But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, and that, I believe, refers to baptism. I think the whole text is baptismal. He gave power to become children of God. So the receiving is the receiving in faith, but it's also the receiving in baptism.


And that power to become children of God is the actual becoming children of God in baptism. I don't know why he uses the expression gave power to become children of God. And then you have a new phase, and this is a phase of the realized revelation, and then a realized union. That's in parts 4 and 5. So you've got basically, I think, three great phases in the book. First, the unitive revelation. Secondly, the baptismal event. And that's in the square. And that's surrounded by two John the Baptist passages, although not immediately. Verses 6 through 8, in part 1, which are about John the Baptist. And then verses 15, up above. It's very curious, those intrusions of narrative about John the Baptist. But what I think they do is frame the whole thing,


and frame the center of it, particularly in a baptismal context. Because John is the Baptist, the Baptist, the Baptist. He's the symbol of baptism. He's not only the precursor. And then finally, you've got not the unitive revelation up at the top, but the unitive realization, or actualization. The accomplishment, as it were, of union. Which is also revelation, but it's a new kind of revelation. It's not seeing the word or the light outside yourself, it's experiencing the light inside yourself. And that happens through baptism. 1.13, I think, actually sends that center off into four directions. Who are born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor the will of man, but of God. Those four expressions, I believe, are the four directions of the figure itself. And of God is the one that goes up vertically from there. But it refers not so much to the prologue itself as to the gospel, as to the structure of the gospel. And that's another issue. I think 1.14, over in part four, has a double meaning.


First of all, it means the revelation of Jesus' glory in his lifetime. The word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory. The glory of a father's only son, full of grace and truth. Now, there's a double reference there, because there's a reference to the baptism of Jesus, I believe. The only son. The glory of the only son. That's the aura of baptism, of the baptism of Jesus. And remember the baptismal words, which don't appear in John, but in the synoptics. And then it refers to the experience of Jesus' glory during his lifetime by his disciples. After the first of Jesus' signs, the making of the wine from water at Cana, John says that Jesus manifested his glory. This is the first of his signs. Jesus manifested his glory, and his disciples believed in him. But thirdly, it has another level of meaning, I believe, which is the actual experience of this glory, this fullness of grace and truth. The glory as of the father's only son, in baptism itself.


That is, in the baptism of the believer, of the Christian. Then you've got... Look at the John the Baptist verses just after that. I'm reading upside down, up there on the top part. John testified to him and cried out, This was he of whom I said, He who comes after me ranks ahead of me, because he was before me. From his fullness we have all received. If you read later on, in the first chapter of John, there are some important connections you find to those words. If you read 125 to 27, for instance, those sent from the Pharisees asked John, Why are you baptizing if you're neither the Christ nor Elijah nor the prophet? John answered them, I baptize with water. But among you stands one whom you do not know, even he who comes after me, the son of whose hand I am not worthy to untie.


One comes after me. I baptize with water. And now, it's like the first part of a sentence without the end of the sentence. I baptize with water, but... And he doesn't say the rest of it. But the rest of it comes out later on, in verses 30 through 35. This is he, this is John again, speaking of Jesus. We picture John pointing to Jesus. This was he of whom I said, After me comes a man who ranks before me, for he was before me. Remember where he says here in the prologue, He who comes after me. This was he of whom I said, He who comes after me ranks ahead of me. And why is it here in the prologue? This is he of whom I said, After me comes a man who ranks before me, for he was before me. And the word was is pregnant in the light of the prologue. I myself did not know him, but for this I came, baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel. Now why does he say baptizing with water? Of course he baptized with water. And John bore witness.


I saw the spirit descend as a dove from heaven, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, He on whom you see the spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God. So this runs right into the prologue and opens up the baptismal thing, explicitates the baptismal thing in the prologue. And the fact that what the prologue is talking about here is Jesus' baptism with the Holy Spirit. And it's the experience of that which is then expressed in verses 16 through 18. From his fullness we have all received. The word received there is the same as received down in verse 12. Grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses that mediated revelation of God. Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. The grace and truth is over in verse 14. No one has ever seen God. It's God the only Son who is in the Father's bosom who has made him known.


So that's the revelation which is not anymore really just revelation, it's union. And that's the experience of baptism, I believe. And it's also the Christian contemplative experience in its fullness, right here at the beginning. Connecting directly with that word which is with God and which is God. See that end in this chiastic structure refers back to the beginning. In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God and the word was God. The end hinges, the whole thing hinges so that the end meets the beginning in that way. So that what you experience in this baptismal event is what Jesus is with the Father, eternally. And this is the unitive experience we're talking about, the Christian contemplative experience. Now notice how much implicitness there is and how little explicitness there is.


It's as if things have been deliberately just a little bit covered. It's as if things have been lightly dusted with obscurity after they were written down. So that they're not quite obvious on the surface but they're there, they're very strongly there. Okay, all of that just to try to convince you of the presence of this thing in the baptismal context in the New Testament. Yes? Also, reading this text in the light of baptism, as you say, so much comes forth. I was struck by... I think it's Justin Martley who describes baptism, the Christian baptism as illumination. Yes. The light that shines in the darkness and then the true light in the middle of the night. Exactly. The light that looks good. But an objection, it would almost sound as if you're making the moment of baptism more important than the moment of Eucharist. Whereas, if Avadou Djinni's case,


his Eucharist is absolutely at the center. Couldn't this whole thing be read in the light of Eucharist also? And it's fascinating to reread it in that light, like, and the word became flesh and lived among us. Yes, that part especially can be... I haven't attempted that, but I think it can be. But remember, the prologue is at the beginning. And I think, at the beginning, John's stress is more explicitly on baptism. He's certainly not going to... And he conceals both baptism and the Eucharist. Actually, both of them are moving underneath the explicit level in John, mostly, okay? With rare kind of breaking through the surface. The movement is from baptism to Eucharist. And it seems to me that baptism is the fullness and then Eucharist is the fullness of the fullness. It's almost like, in baptism, you move to this deep level all the way down to the center. But then you don't keep moving down. You move in another direction towards another fullness, which is the Eucharistic fullness, okay? And that's that red shift I'm talking about, which is the movement from an experienced fullness,


the initial fullness of baptism, towards the transformative fullness of Eucharist, okay? So, it perfectly fits with Agha Djinni in that sense. But this fullness is not the end. This fullness is the beginning, and then you must move to the other fullness, which is the end. Yeah, that verse is also 16. From his fullness, we have all received. You receive in baptism, certainly, but certainly receive in the moment of communion. Then the whole business of right at the beginning, the Eucharist is new covenant. It also is new beginning. And so, I see what you're saying. I'm saying absolutely. But it is fascinating to go back and then claim all these texts as baptism, but also as Eucharistic, also since he's so excited about that. Yeah, I think you can do that, I'm sure. And I think it's valid to do it. I'm just insisting, sort of, that there's that movement. That actually, John's Gospel, or Jesus' life in John's Gospel, moves from implicit baptism, okay? Because I think the whole first chapter is really about baptism. From implicit baptism to implicit Eucharist


at the supper, where the Eucharist isn't even mentioned. There you get the depth of the, what would you call it, deliberate implicitness of John. I don't want to say deliberate obscurity, because it's meant to be read. It's meant to be understood. But not to be understood superficially and immediately. It's meant, I don't know, it's another way of understanding, okay? Another way to put it is, baptism is once, in a certain sense, you do it once, and it culminates with Eucharist. And then Eucharist continues the rest of the life, which brings the baptism with it. Yeah, you could say that. And of course, Jesus links the two, I believe, when he washes the feet of the disciple at the beginning of the supper, okay? He washes the feet of the disciples and then proceeds with this kind of Eucharist of the Word, this Eucharist of wisdom, you know, which is the supper, and doesn't even institute the Eucharist there. That's the curious thing, you know? But the whole Eucharistic reality is there. And that's the culmination. That's the real fullness. You're talking about a mysterious kind of hiddenness. And I'm not really talking about, so much about the sacramental celebration here, as the two realities which underlie them.


The two fullnesses which underlie baptism and Eucharist, I believe, in the New Testament, and also in John. Because he doesn't pay a lot of attention to the celebration of the sacrament. It's as if he's saying, there are two great mysteries here, which are one mystery, but somehow, when he says... How does he say it? He came not only in the water, but in the blood. The water and the blood. There are these three witnesses, you know, the water and the blood and the spirit. That water and the blood, those are the two great mysteries, which are one mystery, divided into, what would you say, in our economy of death, our dualistic economy, as it were, because Jesus had to die, you know. Something like that. But sure, you're right, the culmination, the ultimate fullness, is the Eucharist. And then, I guess, theologically, baptism flows from the Eucharist, in the usual theology, doesn't it? Yes? I have two questions. One is, in terms of... We so often think in terms of resurrection as a Christian life, as gearing toward eternal life.


Actually, Merton makes the point in one of his books, I'm not sure which article it was now, that the mystical life, the contemplative prayer life, is like the first fruit of resurrection itself. It's like the foretaste of it. And so, there's almost that emphasis where you could go from either side. Baptism, you know, culminating in Eucharist, contemplative union, culminating in resurrection. But there's also the need to look backwards, because we do have the tendency to focus so much on gearing toward eternal life, and to say eternal life is among us. That's right. And so, it's the first fruit of resurrection, maybe the last fruit of something that's supposed to be taking place, all through the human life. I guess that wasn't a question, was it? Is that right? Is this the question? It was a bit complicated, even though it's all talking about the same thing. But resurrection is experienced also at the beginning. That's the curious thing.


In other words, the end is always coming back to the beginning, and the beginning is always extending itself to the end. So, all linearity, somehow, is being frustrated here deliberately. And yet, we do get these little patterns which come out, and which are coherent, consistent. Like the movement from baptism to Eucharist. Also, talking about Eucharist, isn't that transformative fullness also a type of resurrection, too? It is, yes. Even the word transubstantiation, in a sense, is transformative. That's right. The second thing I was wondering about, we have a tendency to split up confirmation and baptism, of course, now with infant baptism, except in the RCIA. But still, there is the point to be made that in the historical, in the chronology, in the life of Jesus with the apostles, the coming of the Holy Spirit was later, so it was, you know, maybe baptism, Eucharist, confirmation. Is there a separate way to view this baptism of the Holy Spirit, do you think?


For me, it works best if I don't think about confirmation as a separate sacrament. And I think originally it was that way. That is, confirmation is like something which has been split off from baptism, I think because of infant baptism. Because at the beginning, you had the baptism, the anointing, which was an integral part of baptism, basically, and still is in the East, I believe. And then you had the Eucharist. And so confirmation as a separate reality, I think, relates to the rise of infant baptism in the Western Church. And I don't find... It's not easy to include that in the basic, simple scheme. As I thought, in the historic life of the apostles, the Pentecost event as an empowerment? I don't think it's... For me, that's baptism. In other words, that's their baptism in the Holy Spirit. And that relates directly to the sacrament of baptism. Even at the beginning of Acts, it said, stay here until you receive


or are baptized in the Holy Spirit. It recalls that Jesus said, you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit. Now, wait here until it happens. So Pentecost is their baptism in the Holy Spirit, okay? I don't think you can make any division there between their baptism, let us say, at some earlier point, or even at the resurrection of Jesus, and Pentecost. It's all one. And isn't that clearly seen in John's Gospel where there is an experience of believing Jesus is Easter Sunday night when also the Holy Spirit comes? Yeah. John keeps the two together. So the resurrection and the giving of the Spirit are completely one. Also, because on the cross, Jesus tradited spiritum, remember? He gave up the Spirit. And the word that John uses, I believe, directly indicates that that's to be identified with the breathing of the Spirit on Easter night. There was somebody else. Yes. I'm just... I don't know, I didn't want to break


into this necessarily, but I've been thinking as you were listening to the rest of your initial metaphor of the Big Bang and the singularity, the simplicity of faith, and could that be extended a bit, shall we say, as the problem of living faith and living sacraments to the other end, in other words, the risk of entropy, or kind of the reduction of all movement to vague, tepid warmth. Yes. And the need, therefore, for the believer to go back to the original sacrament, the original act of faith, even when the original sacrament was not experienced subjectively, reflexively, in the case of different pathos. But to go back to that and relive that moment. Otherwise, the consequence being, you know, the reduction of all movement to kind of a static warmth, either static fragility of a very conservative position


of religious identity, or a kind of a diffused, pleasant religious feeling without any real context to it, without any real dynamic to it. No, I think it's very consistent with that idea of entropy. We experience that so much today, I think. You could almost say that it translates many of our troubles into the word entropy. I mean, consider deconstruction. You know, the age of deconstruction, when everything is being nibbled down to shreds, it seems, in certain quarters, at least. You know, there's a tendency to reduce everything down and then almost, what do you call it, atomize it in some way. You know? Until everything is just level. And that's entropy, it seems to me. When the, what would you call it, the singular phenomenon, when the one great event, when the center, when the mountain, which was there in the beginning, has just been completely bulldozed to the level. That's where we seem to be culturally, largely.


Of course, that too has its opportunity. But, I mean, at that moment, you get a new kind of vision because you can see things clearly you could never see before, I think. But it's a very parallel... No, the notion of entropy fits perfectly. Matthew... I didn't sort of ask... Okay. Okay, I had some more New Testament texts here, but I don't know if there's... I'm just going to mention what they are with a very brief description, so that if you're interested, you can look at them. Of course, there's one John, which I think is just loaded with this baptismal thing. For instance, 1 John 2, 20 to 27, the anointing there. You have received the anointing. Abide in that which you have received. Where is that anointing if not baptism? That's on the most exterior level, and then the interior level, of course,


the anointing is somehow both the word and the spirit. It's at fullness. And then the whole of 1 John. Acts 1, verses 5 and 8, where it is said that stay here and you'll receive... What is it? For John baptized with water, but before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit. That's the one that came up in Connexion with Seraphim's question. You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem. Well, that's referring to Pentecost, which is in Chapter 2, which is their baptism in the Holy Spirit. Those two... Those three parts fit together perfectly, I think. Then Romans 8. If you read Romans 8, 14 to 16, then it puts the whole of Romans 8 in this baptismal context. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. Let me see. Where is that? For you did not receive the spirit of slavery


to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. See, that's an explicit reference to baptism. That receiving of the Spirit. When we cry, Abba, Father, it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God. Now, if you read that, then the whole of Romans 8 needs to be read in that context, you see. Particularly with the recurring mentions of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit groaning in our hearts and that whole cosmic travail until the new world is brought forth. And often you find that. You find one explicit point in one of these major New Testament texts, let us say in Paul, in 1 Corinthians or 2 Corinthians or Romans, you find one baptismal reference explicit in the middle of it, which then opens up the whole thing to a baptismal interpretation. Which I think usually is right, because that's Paul's subject. Paul's subject when he's writing to these communities is, look what you've received, look what's happened to you, and realize what that means. You have to understand that


and you have to live according to it. But he's always starting from that point, practically speaking, of what you have received. And that's baptism. Yes? And then to force this other link up with Eucharist, that this is passed on to you and I also received in this... And then the whole Eucharistic... And it's when he mentions the Eucharist that he criticizes their actual behavior, doesn't he? When he says, look, you're celebrating the Eucharist, that's the death of the Lord and look what you're doing. You're feasting over here and letting the poor man be hungry and starving. Then to recover this sense of receiving the Spirit in Eucharist, the Epiclesis, which modifies the gifts there but also transforms us. So I think it's fascinating that link up of the two. Yeah, I think between the two, actually, there's an incarnation, in the sense that baptism is a kind of coming of, what would you say, Word and Spirit? I'm speaking very crudely. And then the movement of life to Eucharist is the Eucharistic transformation


of ourselves bodily, in a bodily way. And the New Testament is very insistent on that. Which is actually an incarnation. Back to John 1.14, where it says, the Word has become flesh and dwelt among us. I think that refers to that. So when you mentioned connected Eucharist with that before, I think it was perfectly right. Last thought, this powerful image of the Big Bang and you get back to that concentrated energy and then, paradoxically, the call of the contemplative way is the call into the deepest of silence and peace and rest. It's almost as if the eye at the center of that is not just some kind of charismatic agitation, but this deepest Ikea of the peace of God which passes all understanding. I think the expression of that is in the unitive quality of that first, call it photon or whatever, that first particle of... What would you call it? That absolute plenitude of energy in the first particle which our text from physics said


is the point of simplicity where all of the laws and all of the forces and all of the particles, matter and energy somehow merge into one reality, as it were. Now that's the enduring core of the whole contemplative thing, it seems to me. What the contemplative tries to do, that's the enduring center of the Christian mystery and the continual, what would you call it, quest of the contemplative is to enter back into that and thereby try to hold the whole thing together as it expands, you know. Especially in a crazy, veering world as we have today where the expansion is so dramatic. The still point of the turning world. Yeah, yeah. So I'd relate the contemplative life with the baptismal point there. And certainly as it proceeds it's also the Eucharistic transformation. And that's practically identical, I think, with what Panekar calls the center, you know. But he talks about it in philosophical terms. He's wonderful in being able to locate it for us and express it so well in philosophical terms. But when we bring it


into Christian terms, this is what it turns into. There's a lot more I wanted to do this morning. I don't want to extend it into the next one, so I'll try to sort of throw it at you quickly. I wanted to say something about the Syrians because it's in the Syriac tradition that you find the most explicit unitive expression of Christianity and directly connected with baptism. Maybe I should have copied this article out for you. It's Gabriel Winkler's article. Father Victor brought this up many years ago. The Origins and Idiosyncrasies of the Earliest Form of Asceticism. It sounds pretty esoteric. But Gabriel Winkler, who I believe was teaching at Notre Dame, or St. John's? St. John's. St. John's, yes. It's a marvelous article because what she does is show, in this part of the article, is show how the inspiration


or the spirit of these early Syrian monks was a unitive experience which was the baptismal experience and the whole of their life was then oriented towards what would you call it? Realizing that unity in their whole person. Now this is explicit in what they say and what they write. Whereas in the rest of our literature it's largely implicit. In other words, this is very hard to find, this kind of thing, as explicit as this. But it's in the Syriac literature. And it's very interesting that the Syriac literature is a little bit outside of the mainstream, even of the patristic tradition that we have. So this is not as clear in the Greek and Latin traditions as it is in the Syriac tradition for some reason. And it's interesting also that the Syriac language, of course, and culture is in a lot more direct continuity with the New Testament language and culture. Because the Syriac language is a descendant of Aramaic, which was the language of Jesus and so on. And at this point it's completely uninfluenced by philosophy, as far as we know. So it's a kind of unique literature.


I'm just going to read a couple of these quotes from Winkler. This is in her article. It's in a book by Skudlarek called The Continuing Quest for God. It's a Benedictine conference or symposium or something they had at some point. I think Victor went to that. I don't remember when it was. Skudlarek is a Benedictine. And this is a major article in it. I don't know which pronunciation is correct. It's a Syriac word which means one. Remember, akad or kad or had in Hebrew is one. Abraha alludes to that reality when he says, Jesus, the only one, Ihidea, who is from the bosom of the Father, shall cause those who are one, Ihidea, to rejoice. Now those who are one are the ascetics, it appears. The ascetics are those who, as a result of their baptism in the one, have become one and therefore want to, in some way, fulfill or realize, actualize that oneness.


Now the first thing that that seems to imply and involve for them is celibacy, which is interesting, isn't it? That is, singleness is a consequence or an attempt to actualize the oneness which they have received in baptism. That's one interpretation of baptism, you see. That that oneness is to be realized by somehow, what would you call it, withdrawing from the external effort to achieve oneness through union union with another person into an interior realization of the oneness which has begun in the baptismal experience. Okay? And this word Ihidea marvelously brings together all these different dimensions of the thing. I'll read a couple more of these. In Syria, what has not arisen in the heart of man is nothing less, she's commenting on a text that she just quoted from, I think it's the Gospel of Thomas,


is nothing less than the reality of becoming transformed into God's own glory. In Syria, this transformation often is described in biblical language to be robed in glory, to put on Christ, for as Paul said, those who are baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is no such thing as male and female. Remember, Greek and Jew, slave and free man, male and female, for you are all one in Christ. Galatians 3, 27-28. That's a key text here. There's no such thing as these divisions any longer because you're all one in Christ. Now that's that same word that they attach to that, Ihidea. So Christ comes as the oneness, as the divine one. And in baptism, you are somehow recreated in that one, and then in the ascetical life, or the monastic life, as it is later, what you're trying to do is to complete the transformation which makes all of you one. So that's that movement towards Eucharist we were talking about. This New Testament theme


of oneness, of becoming one by putting on the one, very likely also lies behind the Syrian idea of Christ being the Ihidea, capitalized, the only one. The notion of that is strongest, I think, in most of the Gospels, in the baptism of Jesus. The idea of the Son, the only begotten Son, the only one. So the one there is directly already connected with baptism, even in the baptism of Jesus. And then that's what's experienced in our baptism. So we're baptized into the one. Now see, this is the core of what we're talking about is the Christian contemplative experience, is the experience of the one, which is no less than God. I mentioned this. There's no indication that the Sanskrit word for one, which is eka, or ekam, comes from the Semitic root ekod, and so forth. This one. But it is interesting that you find this already in the Rig Veda, that ekam, that one.


And the name for the absolute beyond the divinities, beyond the rituals, beyond sacrifice. So it's already coming out in, you know, you might say in 1500 BC I'd love to look at that, because it's very, very interesting. The, what do you call it, similarity of sound between the two is very strange. Right. There's no indication that there, it's not impossible there's a Phoenician trait and that sort of thing, so there might be this word got into Sanskrit from the Semitic base. Okay, this New Testament theme of oneness, of becoming one by putting on the one, capitalized, very likely also lies behind the Syrian idea of Christ being the ihidia, the only one, from the ihidiae, those who are one, that is the ascetics, put on at baptism. And then she quotes Ephraim and Aphraod. Behold, the sword


is a living sword, which brings about division between the living and the dead. This kind of sword image and the division theme is in counterpoint sort of to the one thing, the unitive theme of putting on the one. Behold, being baptized, they also become virgins and continent ones. Tule, that's virgins, and Qadishe. For they descended, they were baptized and put on that one, only one. For whoever is baptized and puts on the only one, ihidia, the lord of the many, takes unto himself the place of the many, for Christ becomes his great treasure. Another text. Blessed are the single ones, monochos, remember the word monochos comes from that. From... How is it in... Monochos in Greek and monochos in Latin, and then there's another... Anyhow, the idea is one. You can think of it


as being solitary. The outside of it sort of is the idea of a solitary. The inside of it is the idea of a unitive being. The inside of that term for monk, monochos. So the thing is, is instinctively very, very deep in early monasticism. And not only in Assyriac monasticism. And this relationship between the monastic life and celibacy, which is rarely explained, you know, it's sort of taken for granted even by Saint Benedict. But I think the connection is rooted here, actually. Yes? Then Augustine does a crazy etymological thing with it that takes it back in the other direction. The monk is one because he's one with all of creation. So it's no longer that movement. Within, to separate, to not get it. But then, having attained that, and I was just seeing this Eucharist, which is from all these grains of wheat becomes one bread, one cup. And so it's interesting. It's a kind of withdrawal and concentration


and then a kind of expansion. That's right. That's right. I think also that that's perfectly valid, it seems to me. That Augustinian interpretation, because that one at the center is the inclusive one, actually. It's like at the center of the wheel, everything is together. And to be there is to be in a unitive place where you're in touch with everything at its own core, in some way. That seems to be the way. Also with Panakar Center, I believe it works that way. Okay, we've got to quit, so let's pull this together. If anybody wants to read this article, I'll pass it on to you. We really haven't done justice to it. I think it's very important. Yeah, maybe I should copy at least those pages. I'll do that. A couple of other ideas I wanted to connect with this, which we haven't had time for, are to make multiple connections between baptism and unitive experience, contemplative experience, and monasticism. Maybe some of you


might be interested in doing that, but there's more than one connection. There are very broad kind of cables of relationship between baptism and therefore the beginning and in some way the fullness of Christian life, and contemplative experience, which we've called unitive experience, and monasticism itself. I think monasticism really, in its origin, is the baptismal life. Which is also to say the unitive life. And one more thing. I had some, there's some beautiful Merton texts where he loves to talk about morning. He loves to talk about the dawn. Remember that text in Conjectures where Gully Weiss and everybody says it's 2.30 in the morning. This terrible Trappist hour of 2.30 in the morning. And the birds are just starting to wake up and there's no light yet. But the birds are just beginning to stir. And in a little while they're going to peep a little bit and ask if they have permission to be. Ask if they have


permission to be. And then they'll come to be. And then they'll come to be birds and they may even have wings and fly and so on. But that moment before the creation he returns to that. Which is also the baptismal moment. Now this dawn moment, remember the monastic tradition of vigils, is somehow the peculiar time of monks, the peculiar monastic time, entering once again and returning back into the beginning. But here the beginning in the daily cycle, as it were, before the creation once again. So the vigil as being an attempt, like baptism, to return back into the beginning. You can think of morning as a kind of baptism. Also because of the chastity that's just in the morning light and the morning air and so on. And the monk trying to move back into that point. And then Merton comes out with that expression the plant verge, the virgin point, remember? Again that expression the virgin point, the plant verge, he says. And then he goes off in his poetic way about that. And he's got another, that's in Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, if you're interested I'll give you the page numbers.


142, I believe. And the other place he gets into the same mode is in The New Man. Because in the last two chapters of The New Man, which is his book about anthropology, I guess you'd say, spiritual anthropology, he's talking about baptism and then he's talking about the Easter Vigil. So he talks about that light that is kindled in darkness from the flint and stone, you remember. And the light that begins there. And it's this, and how that relates to baptism. And it's this same moment for him. See this moment of darkness just before the light, before the light makes things real, before the created light, almost before the first creature which is light. The monk is getting back into that moment of darkness, the pregnant darkness, just before things come forth. Sounds a little romantic, but there's a lot of deep reality in there, I think. And then he connects that with the whole apophatic tradition, and particularly in its expression in John of the Cross. That the darkness itself is light in some way.


That the light of God is darkness for us. And so there you're in this darkness before the creation, or the baptismal moment, let us say, which is a darkness itself, which is a fullness of light, which is, what is that? It's the heart of faith in some way. So you can see how it kind of all pulls together around that moment, and how many things in the monastic life are connected with this prime moment which we're talking about, the center which we're talking about in Pentecostal language. In Christian language you bring it into this New Testament context and it reflects itself on all these different features and dimensions of monastic life. We don't have time to go into that now. OK, thank you. OK, thank you.