December 20th, 1980, Serial No. 00369

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Monastic Spirituality Set 1 of 12

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by telling Roberts about the types of religious poverty.
And he points out that there are different types depending on what order they belong to.
The structured character of the scope and purpose of the work.
Conspicuous examples of the difference between Franciscan poverty and Benedictine poverty.
Franciscan poverty with its emphasis on total poverty and even on the community not owning anything.
And Benedictine poverty with its
insisted on sharing of gross and distribution of individual dependence from the other.
They're two different concepts, apparently.
We pointed out that Grosch article in which you get seven different models of religious poverty, and I asked you to make a list of those as to how they line up in your own mind, in your own estimation.
in connection with their relevance to monastic poverty, or to the kind of poverty that belongs to our vocation.
So, I'm wondering how that turned out for you.
I've got one list here.
In the following order.
6.
Reliance on God alone.
7.
Union with Christ.
5.
Union with the oppressed. 3.
Disponibility.
And the way it is here, it's apostolic disponibility.
It's availability for serving people.
After six or seven?
After six or seven.
Seven is union with Christ.
This is, in other words, the first one is the most important.
This is philosophy.
After six is seven, then five, union with the oppressed, then three, apostolic disponibility, then four, physical witness,
Two, simplicity of life.
Number one, communitarian sharing.
Let's hear somebody else.
It's a little different.
Maybe somebody agreed in time.
It seems union with Christ would include the rest.
Yes, it should.
That's what he says in his article towards the end.
That union with Christ comprehends the rest and therefore in some way maybe it doesn't belong in the order.
Nevertheless, you can put it in.
You can put it number one and then let the others follow in the order in which they
to follow from that, perhaps, for a given vocation.
That is, six, seven, almost, very hard to separate, if you mean, let's be right up top.
Yeah, union with Christ seems to, if you're in a position of Christ, then you rely on the Father.
Yeah, yeah.
So then, uh, two, the simple poverty, poverty is fact.
Okay, two is simplicity of life.
That's the idea that you want to simplify your life so that only one thing matters to you, right?
You don't have to be concerned with a lot of goods or seeking other things or protecting them or whatever.
Then four, the poverty of physical witness.
And then five, the union of the four.
Okay, you two came up with one at the end.
You'd be surprised, probably Cashin would include that among his priorities.
I think he uses that when he talks about poverty.
But remember the life of Saint Anthony?
Isn't that one of the words that he hears in the church when he goes up?
It's one of them.
He hears it twice.
One of them is from the gospel, when Jesus says that we're the ones to pardon them.
I think the other one is from the Acts, but I'm not sure.
Anyway, this one of communitarian sharing, I would want to recommend it for a higher
a higher level, a higher rating in your list, because remember that that's what Benedictine poverty largely is.
Communitarian sharing, that's number one.
It's the Austin Abuse by Benedictines.
Okay, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it doesn't belong to the monastic life.
Because it's as if, people like to point this out sometimes, Victor likes to simplify the monastic life into two ways.
One is the desert ideal, the desert model, and the other is the Jewish community model.
If you look at early monasticism, it's hard to find a third one that ranks with those two.
So the desert model, you have a kind of absolute poverty, an absolute notion of poverty that squares with our number six and our number two, simplicity of life and also reliance on God alone, and certainly identification with Christ.
The Jerusalem community model of monasticism may put that sharing of goods and lack of individual ownership first.
And that's what we find in the Rule of St.
Benedict.
As soon as Robert starts to quote passages on poverty from the Rule of St.
Benedict, that's what you find.
Nobody is to have anything himself, but everything is to be held in common.
So we're getting a strong option here in the ones that we've heard so far for the individual variety of poverty.
What do I mean by that?
What I mean is that that abstracts from the sharing, the possibility of sharing in the community, or from simple lack of personal property as being poverty.
One of the reasons I put it so low, at the lowest, is because it seems that it was
the one that lent itself most to abuse, those other categories.
Those other categories seem to be more narrow and more well-defined, whereas, you know, community sharing is just too broad.
It could really leave itself wide open.
Let's share a swimming pool, let's share a tennis court.
That's what happens, but you've got to realize that in the beginning of the religious life that's very important, because to give up your private property in the beginning is very important, so you hand everything over, and then afterwards is the question of whether you're going to be able to do something.
But it has to work on the soul, because the thing is, when you go to these places, you have actually a better life than you have in the world, where you're struggling.
That's right, that's right.
And so I was talking, we had so much, so much available, you know, that we couldn't do anything if we didn't do anything.
So when I was in Santa Barbara, one of the missionaries in Santa Barbara has a residence in Memphis, in the Memphis community, and I didn't know much about Memphis.
Okay, I admit that.
And yet, in monastic history, this has been a very important concept.
And it corresponds with something in Christianity also, because it's an expression of the reality of Christianity, which is that we share...
We share the life of God, we share the kingdom and so on.
We share the gift which is given to us.
So, what we have, basically, is what we have in common.
See, there's an important theological thing, even though on a practical level it may be very, very trivial, which is expressed also by the Eucharist.
How's that?
The Eucharist signifies the gift of God which is given to us and which we partake of only in common.
You can't have the Eucharist by yourself.
It belongs to the Church and it's always one bread.
So the life that we're given, the gift that we're given, is given in common.
If you read the first letter of Saint John, you get the same thing.
This koinonia, this fellowship which we have, which is actually a fellowship with the Holy Trinity.
So the idea of sharing in community, sharing property in community, expresses this beautifully.
So that instinct that the first converts had to put everything together, and not to have anything of their own, was an expression of that greatness.
Now, it may be very well that it doesn't work out all that well in history, but it's got to be recognized.
I think we need to make it a discipline, because then for the individual, of course, it means
Certainly, because of some benefits.
The one who makes one should be nothing that is better.
And the one who does should thank God.
Okay, there's another thing here.
You know where I think this falls short?
Is that you draw the line around the community too small.
In other words, you have to unite this with the other model of union with the poor and exploited, for instance, OK?
Where the community that you recognize is not just your religious community, but the community of all men, OK?
That's what we're conscious of nowadays, since Vatican II, and when the world is so small.
In other words, putting things in common means you just don't put your savings account in common with your brothers in the community.
But in some way, the community has to put its goods in common with other men.
So you have to enlarge that concept of sharing just as the gift that comes from God has to be shared with all men, not just with one or the group.
So the church is recognizing this more nowadays.
And I think what you say reflects that.
But you've been speaking about it more from the point of view of having too much than the point of you sharing it with the others who don't have anything.
It seems to me that if you consider it in that context, it makes more sense.
But it's not easy to do that, because obviously you can't put yourself on the level of the poor man in the street.
Your community can't live exactly on that level.
It has to be conscious of that.
It's sharing in the larger circle.
Different.
I was thinking of the Jerusalem community when Ananias, you know, didn't give the whole thing and then he died right there.
And you want to realize that the interior unity among them must have been so strong and so much on fire
you know, that it was able to do that.
So there was, you know, there was the interior unity and also the exterior expression, too.
The interior dynamic was really something, the power that was present there.
And yet, of course, we have to say that that was somehow through the power of God that he died.
It was in order to say something, in order to express something.
Also the fact that
But his death is attributed not to the fact that he didn't give everything, but the fact that he lied about it.
It's his insincerity.
Because I think Peter says to him, well, you could have kept your property.
You didn't have to say you were going to turn it over.
But once you said it, you should have done it.
Bang.
And we'll carry it on.
OK.
Any other lists or ideas?
Peter.
That's seven, and one, and six, and two, four... Four now is visible ribbons?
Yeah.
And one, and five, and three.
Okay, I agree with you in putting three at the end, because three is one that...
relates particularly to active religious life, okay?
Apostolic disponibility.
That is more meaningful for the Jesuit or for the Franciscan than it is for us.
Because we're not that much at the service of other people.
And it's not a matter of our having an automobile so that we can go and visit the sick or something like that.
It's not our job.
Even though it relates to some degree here to us.
We have to have a parlor, you know, we have to have some furniture over in the districts and so on.
We have a retreat, I said, and even the way our kitchen operates, you know, the fact that we have to have a lay cook is determined by the fact that we have retreatments and work in the midst of the winter.
So it is involved, but the fact that we have to pay a cook in our way, rather than having a member of the community performing.
Okay, my own list, I made this one first, six, two, seven, and I think I agree with two of the originalists on that.
I had number one down as being a reliance on God alone.
And secondly, simplicity of life, and then thirdly, union with Christ.
But then I thought that over and I decided it was seven, six, and two.
Because the union with Jesus and my ship company was another ship company.
That's our theological form, you know, the gospel form.
And then the other reasons that we think out flow from that.
Mahner said somewhere that the first reason for religious poverty, or any poverty, Christian poverty, is just the person of Christ and the word of Christ, based purely on faith.
And then the other things are sort of things that we pull out of that afterwards, you know.
There are conceptualizations, or interpretations, or elaborations, but that's the first thing.
But we need to go into that a little more afterwards, because it may be the grossest treatment isn't complete.
And then the other four, I'd have a sharp line drawn between those first three, which I think are very relevant to our life, and the other four, which really aim in other directions, okay?
Number four is kind of... Which is for a visible reference?
To a higher life.
Okay.
You say, well, the riches of this world are really not what counts.
That's right.
And that's an important one, too, which we're going to have to talk about a bit afterwards, because I don't think gross product is sufficient.
Okay, so the witness is important.
The reason why I drew that line in between the first three and the other four is for this, that monastic life is particularly related to what you're doing in yourself, to God's work on you, right, or in you.
And then the other ones refer to something outside of that, even though that something outside may be very important like the visible witness, okay?
For instance, then I had after that, let's see,
1, 4, 5, and 3.
1 is the communitarian sharing.
I gave it that kind of high rank because I think it does pertain to us.
And it's important also as a visible witness.
4, the visible witness.
5, the union with the poor.
And then 3, the apostolic disponibility.
Both on my list, I have 3 at the end.
My second list, if you think of it over, was 7, 6, 2, then the heavy on.
5, 1, 4, and 3.
Giving union with the oppressed more importance.
5, 1, 4, and 3.
3 is still low manner.
I think number 5 is very problematic.
Yeah, that's nice.
Union with the oppressed.
It's problematic in the way he presents it, because he says that here poverty is an evil.
It also often turns into the rich.
It seems to me that it relates very closely to number six, though, where he talks about sharing the human condition.
It shades into that.
And if I were to try to describe it for a monk, I think I'd eliminate that kind of polarity there between the poor and the rich.
But solidarity with the oppressed is part of a monk's entering into the human condition, because the poor and the oppressed are closer to the human condition.
And they're the people of the Beatitudes, you know, in the Gospel.
And the monk throws in his lot with those people.
But not against the rich.
The way he puts that down is pretty harsh.
And one reason is because he's trying to draw clear lines between his different models, you see.
So he tries to push them apart, not let them overlap.
We have to let them overlap when we try to make a synthesizer.
For number seven, does he say, a union with the poor Christ, or something like that?
Yeah, and that I have to comment on.
I have to change that for myself.
Because if you look at all this now, there's something missing.
There's something missing.
And what's missing?
It's not just the poor Christ, but it's the Christ who is poor and risen.
Now, he says it's the Paschal Christ, but he doesn't point out that when you unite yourself with the poor Christ, you're uniting yourself with the riches of Christ, too.
And then I said, well, who says it?
St.
Paul said it.
If you look, consider some of these passages in St.
Paul.
Yeah, it's not enough.
And sometimes the Franciscan thing, you see, has got onto that so much that it's been unable to open into the riches of the kingdom, I think.
But Philippians 3, for instance, the first passage, where St.
Paul says that he has given up everything he had, like Tom, for the surpassing knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Now that's riches for him, and that's something that he's got.
It's not just a hope for the future, but it's something he's already got.
Then there's Colossians.
Colossians 1.
where he says, 27, to them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of the Lord.
That's riches, he says, and he likes to repeat that word in these letters, Ephesians and Colossians, and you've already got it.
It's not just in the future.
In chapter 2,
He says, to have all the riches of assured understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, of Christ in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Okay, he's talking about a present wealth that you have.
And he talks about it with greedy language, you know, the sort of language of the hoarder, the greedy man.
Very nice.
For in him dwells the whole fullness of deity bodily, and you have come to fullness of life in him.
This idea of the riches of the kingdom, of the gospel of Christ.
Second Corinthians, chapter 6.
He says, we're sorrowful yet always rejoicing, poor yet making many rich, having nothing yet possessing everything.
Now there's the paradox right there, you see, of this gospel poverty and yet having everything.
You can let yourself be poor because you've got everything, in Christ in some way, and earlier.
But we had this treasure in earthen vessels.
The treasure was an interior presence of Christ in the heart and everything that comes from that.
In Ephesians, Ephesians chapter 127, verse 17.
That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation and a knowledge of Him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you.
What are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power?
And I so believe.
Two, three, and one.
To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.
And to make all men see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages, and God the Creator of all things.
And so on.
You get the idea.
And a couple of other places in there.
Now, the immeasurable riches of His grace and kindness towards us in Christ Jesus.
The notion of riches.
He's kind of obsessed with that, I know this.
So what seems very important here and is missing in Grosche's point of view, because he's looking at sort of, this is the trouble with this model thing sometimes, you know, you try to get all the versions and you miss the key in some way.
You can do that, you can try to get all the aspects.
He's got the key to the key there when he says the union with the poor Christ.
It's not only the poor Christ, it's the union with the paschal mystery of Christ, or the death and resurrection of Christ, or the poor life of Christ, and at the same time,
the glory of the risen Christ, the riches of the risen Christ, which is what St.
Paul was talking about.
St.
Paul was talking about exactly that, exactly that.
When he says, poor yet not rich in merit, and having nothing and possessing nothing.
See, that's the point.
Okay, let me read you something from Rahner, who, as usual, seems to be able to hit the bull's-eye in trying to find what the essence of something is.
Evangelical Poverty, this is in his article on Theology of Poverty in Theological Investigations, Volume 8.
This is page 187 and following.
Evangelical Poverty, both in its outside and its inside form, both the grace and the expression, is simply intended as a response to the situation in saving history in which man stands by the very fact that the Kingdom of God has been made eschatologically present in Jesus.
Eschatology begins finally at the end of time, the last stage.
Poverty, like all renunciations, and he talks here about, of course, St.
Paul says, have as though you had not, remember?
The unmarried should be the man who is unmarried is free, and undivided is the man who is unmarried is unmarried.
Poverty, like all renunciation, as conceived of in the New Testament, is the realization of faith in the coming of that grace of God which is God himself.
and which transcends all this worldly fulfillment such as can be achieved by man himself.
So it's the gift of God himself which simply outweighs everything else and makes everything else just fade into the shadows, which makes poverty possible and makes poverty desirable.
The person somehow wants to express the presence of this thing.
Now because this grace is the absolute self-bestowal of God as He is in Himself, the gift of God Himself, and because it has only now been revealed in Christ as the glory of God Himself, which exceeds all earthly measures and all values available to human experience, therefore it is only now that man can respond to this coming of God.
He can so respond in virtue of the fact that He, who so far as His purely natural state is concerned, is once more one who is held captive within Himself by sin.
and therefore can only experience his openness to the glory of God, which transcends his own nature as a deadly pain."
He has long sentences running, I have to be patient.
That was all in parentheses.
"...suffers that this worldly values to fall away from him in the act of faith, which God himself and not his own autonomous powers inspires him to make.
Yet to make this same sacrifice without being called to it by God in this way would be meaningless, immoral, and contrary to his own nature."
The act of faith is realized and made concrete, that is, in a manner which embraces the entire reality of man, his physical nature, his social relationships, and the place he occupies in history.
The poverty business is the expression of it in the things around you, whether things that you use, or the things that you would have, or whatever material things must be.
in the virtue of the fact that he gives up realities and values when to sacrifice them is either an act of despair or surrender with regard to the meaning of the existence, or else a transcending of this worldly order, though this worldly order, in order to attain to the reality of God himself, which comes to us from above in the form of grace.
On this showing, the meaning of poverty is that it is the act of faith in that grace which comes from above as the unique and definitive fulfillment of human existence.
Now that is given to every Christian in some ways, not only the religious.
Every Christian in some way has the same grace.
The religious responds to it in a particular way by the monk.
Is he saying there that the uniform works because you don't trust in some sense?
That's right.
It's not that poverty makes you self-fulfilling?
No, he doesn't say that.
And another person might say that.
Like Roberts tends in that direction when he says that poverty is a means.
Poverty is a means to the achievement of love.
Poverty is a means to being filled with God.
But Rana has pointed out something on this side.
There's truth on both of those sides, but Rana is expressing the greater truth, I think, in a real way.
But many seem to practice poverty in many different ways.
Sure, sure.
Look at the hippies, for example.
Sure.
They sell something to society.
Sure, so you've got all those different reasons for practice in poverty, and lots of them are good reasons, too.
Not every reason for practice in poverty is a good one, but lots of those are good reasons.
So, what he's trying to do is isolate the particularly Christian reason here.
And then, built right into that is a particularly Christian monastic reason, which is really the same thing when expressed in a particular way.
But I wanted to get to what he says about
Yeah, what Peter wrote up there.
It's quite impossible for one who makes an act of faith in this sense... You're making an act of faith also that the world can be redeemed.
In other words, it's not just negativity as regards the world.
It's quite impossible for one who makes an act of faith in this sense and thereby becomes poor to regard the absolutely essential form in which this faith must find its fulfillment as consisting in a state in which as far as such a thing is physically possible, he possesses absolutely nothing at all.
There you have a compulsive kind of poverty in which you figure only if I empty myself completely can I receive God.
That's the absolutism of what we were saying.
But if you read St.
John the Cross you can get that idea.
So it's very delicate because there's a truth there and it's easily misinterpreted.
And we're going to have to talk about this a bit.
It's not enough to say that you are poor because you realize the fullness of the Holy Spirit in yourself, the fullness of the riches of the kingdom.
Yeah, but how much of the time do we realize the fullness of the riches of the Kingdom of God, so that other things become, so that we have no desire for them?
There's often also the time of poverty when you are letting yourself be empty and you're foregoing the things that you want, the things that you would like to have, the things that would fill your heart, and waiting for God to come in emptiness, okay?
So there are two sides to that thing.
This comes out when we talk about David Knight's version of the Ten Commandments, because I think he puts all his weight on one side, the side of fullness.
This would in fact be tantamount to saying that freedom from the world is ipso facto, and in itself, possession of God.
Now this is not true, okay?
So that would be the kind of asceticism which says that as soon as I empty myself from everything else, I've got God.
In other words, I can sort of twist God's arm, I can force God to come to me, to give himself to me, simply by letting go of everything else.
That's the big danger in meeting John McClose, that you sort of need to let him go.
And fail to recall the freedom of God.
And the freedom of grace, which is not something that we can extract from God simply by putting pressure on ourselves.
Sometimes we can feel that.
You can get into an aesthetical thing where you think
The more you sort of work yourself up for, the more you do, the closer God is to you.
And yet, it's our own energy in some way.
This grace cannot be obtained by force, either by seeking for the fullness of the world itself, or by fleeing from the world, taking either of these approaches simply for themselves.
And furthermore, in making the act of faith, we can only allow for the fact that the world has a positive value of its own if we maintain a positive relationship with it.
This is important, psychologically.
The petty-minded man, the man who is timid, undeveloped, frugal in the demands he makes upon life, the man who right from the outset has the standards of the petit bourgeois, only because his own nature is middle-class standard, low middle-class standard.
I don't know.
Who are the petit bourgeois, anyway?
The stingy kind.
Those are the little, well the people who put their whole... They put their whole life into some kind of petty case.
Well, it's the man whose life is built on dollars and cents, I think.
With security.
But he's not the rich man?
No, the rich man is a very nice person.
You know, very often the people who are attracted to the rich man are a lot of them.
Sometimes the rich are very romantic too, you know.
Sometimes.
I think you're one of them.
Okay.
The man who right from the outset has the standards of the petit bourgeois, only because his own nature is too paltry to make many claims upon life, is certainly not the man who is capable to any notable extent of bringing the meaning of the act of faith to its fullness in poverty.
See, that's a different kind of poverty.
And that can happen in the religious life, too.
That can happen in the monastic life very easily, because it looks good, you know.
Oh, gee, he's got poverty.
That man is a real ascetic.
That can be meanness of spirit that's leading to it, and that's at the root of it, and not generosity.
See, poverty is supposed to be a food of generosity.
It's a negative wealth.
Negative wealth is your own poverty.
It is, it can be.
In other words, you're holding on to your own poverty.
And so, normally, that kind of person would be incapable of receiving a gift with gratitude, you know, or receiving something that comes
Unexpectedly.
A windfall of some kind.
I enjoy him.
Because by that he would seem to be losing his own poverty, his own wealth of poverty.
Exactly.
Because it's an ego thing, once again.
It's a kind of a falter ego thing.
Maybe even courtesy.
He might not be able to receive the courtesy.
Probably not.
And he's going to have probably the same point of view with respect to the status of moral honor and glory.
Not just partly.
I know because I've done it.
For years.
Yeah, she is.
And this is tricky because she comes from the Petit Bourgeois, I think, and that whole context is around her.
There are a lot of things.
And yet she manages to be generous.
She manages to be generous in the middle of all that pettiness, you see.
And in fact, even reading her language sometimes, you could suspect that kind of pettiness.
But it's not there.
She's very generous.
That's the difference.
A saint showing that generosity in that context.
Her community was very poor.
They were living up to the spirit of Carmel, which she gave herself.
Now, what I said about her living in a petty bourgeois context, culturally, yeah, with a lot of the things, I mean, the sentimentality and the gooey stuff that you associate with, and also the pettiness in her own monastery, anything but a spirit of generosity.
So she was able to be a saint and to be generous about a good stuff.
And her thing is poverty, actually.
Spiritual poverty in the sense of littleness, you know.
Not having a blooming thing, including spiritual gifts.
and spiritual experiences.
You didn't have any, did you?
What do you mean by generosity?
Okay, poverty is supposed to be generosity, alright?
In other words, poverty can be giving away, that's what it's supposed to be.
Renunciation as an act of generosity, not as an act of paltryness, or timidity, or security, or anything else like that.
More important is, as Mamiel says, you can have a reverse poverty, which is actually a wealthiness.
If you consider that the more you renounce, the more you've got.
See the difference is like, it's very tricky in a sense.
Without discernment it's very tricky because look at St.
Francis.
It's as if poverty was wealth for St.
Francis, right?
And yet, look at the heart of St.
Francis, the generosity, the courage, that's the difference, you see, it's the heart that tells you whether the guy is really free or whether he's really stuck on his poverty, stuck on his observance.
He had the freedom of David, you know, it's the same thing, it's the heart.
The freedom of King David, it's the same kind of traits you find in St.
Francis of Assisi with his poverty.
It always comes from a reliance on God, a great closeness to God.
But the way that he is stingy, is greedy about poverty, you know, and about the observance of it, he was terribly rigid sometimes.
You might think that that is what Ron is talking about.
His ridges there is what he does for the poverty, not only for the poverty itself.
Yeah, yeah.
But boy, he was strict on the externals of poverty, the elements of sodomy.
The idol, excuse me.
What about the attitude in Benedictine poverty?
I've heard this, where people think about poverty and then they own it.
Yeah.
I mean, are you really, are you supposed to say, well, now I can do whatever I want?
Or are you supposed to concentrate on your own individual?
We're going to get to that.
But there's, that's not so easy.
It's very, it's very tricky.
Because in a sense everything does belong to you, and in a sense you should consider yourself as being a child of the Kingdom of Heaven, and the monastery in some way being a sacrament or a sign of the Kingdom of Heaven in the sense that everything belongs to everybody inside of it.
But that doesn't mean that you appropriate things to yourself.
There's another principle that comes in there.
in your personal poverty and your meekness or your humility, which doesn't permit you to use everything as if it belonged to you as a private citizen.
So, it's tricky.
There's that story of that Russian monk who started out very poor as a very poor child, poor family, and then they made him bishop.
And then he had all these things, you know, ice cream and everything.
But when he would look and see the poor and the oppressed, he would be wrenched inside.
And so I think that's his property.
That's right.
Being in riches, but not being, not really being... There have been a number of bishops and popes that... There's one thing I'd like you to keep in mind.
In regard to the person
style of life lifestyle.
Some people have a natural tendency to accumulate things.
Without really being attached to it, they just kind of... I'm one of those people that has stuff stuck to the drafters, stuff in my cell, you know, things like tools and things like that.
And I clean it out, but then it just starts coming back in.
And then some of these cells are dead and some of the others... There's nothing to do.
How the heck do you do it, you know?
There are three solutions there.
One is to have a fire every once in a while.
Another one is to have another place which is not really yours, you know, where things are kept, like tools and stuff like that.
And another solution is just to have a check about once a year or something like that.
They used to do this in a lot of communities.
Whereupon you'd make a list of everything you had.
And if the list got so long that there was a real thing in the neck to make it, you'd know already that you had too much stuff.
But where you would have a certain check, like a narrow place where you go through, once a year or so, when you just get rid of everything, as soon as everything spells out.
I read that somewhere.
It said once a year.
Yeah, he recommends something like that as a possibility.
And if a person has that tendency, that's one of the few ways of dealing with it.
Once a year, something like that, just make a check and get rid of everything, very severely.
Which allows for what should happen with them, for sure.
Because I, like, in the Travis Williams community, a lot of granddaddy's shows, you know, he was saying in the past especially, they were blown only
Yes.
They were very strict.
Of course, the tent itself had doors.
Of course, they didn't have... It was just a partition in between.
There was no place.
I remember, even at Vina, I think all they had was a little wooden box.
And this was in the common shower room.
And then you had
as a tool, but know that the shovel doesn't belong to them.
Right.
Okay, now the question is, does it help?
Does it work?
And is it necessary?
Well, they changed it.
Yeah.
They changed it to private loans, because partly of other things, and the lack of solitude was just, it was just fierce.
So other things came in to cause the change.
But I suspect that maybe it isn't necessary to be quite that absolute.
It's like a boot camp experience, but a boot camp experience that extends for your whole lifetime is questionable.
It may be enough to do that for a while.
Maybe we should do something like that, maybe we should not.
Roberts points out that poverty becomes harder, common ownership becomes harder as the years go on.
Because as a person gets older they just tend to make a private corner for themselves.
One of the problems in the community is that if you have a tool that you use and know how to use,
But you don't have a tool anymore.
It's gone.
If it disappears, it gets broken.
So you get a little possessive of where you want to do a job, you don't have a tool to do it with.
You spend the whole day looking for a tool.
Now it's best if those things can be kept in a separate place, which is like not a person's own home.
It's best if they can be kept there.
He's got it in another category, where it doesn't seem to be private property or anything like that.
And then he can keep a good watch on his own stuff, on what he has in his room.
Umberto has little places, so to say, that he keeps locked.
And then when he needs something, he just goes there and unlocks it.
Yeah.
Or like if somebody has tools, he has a locker or a locked place to put them, that sort of thing.
The ideal of religious poverty, therefore, can never consist in the fact that the realization of it is regarded as increasing in precisely the same proportion as the act of externally ridding oneself of material goods.
It's not that simple a thing.
The more I get rid of it, the more God I have.
Merton used to joke about it, like the religious right, not just in terms of poverty, like a list of right, you make a list of everything you've gotten and you cross, when you get to the end you've got everything crossed off and you hold it.
He says it doesn't work.
He says it doesn't work.
But what is it in the first place?
It's compulsiveness.
In other words, compulsiveness which means you've got a driving in towards something which you don't understand but which takes over.
People can have a compulsive fasting drive, they can have a compulsive poverty drive, and there can be all kinds of hidden motives underneath them, including self-hatred, all kinds of things.
But what he's putting it down to here is a kind of small-mindedness, a kind of, I don't know, fearfulness, timidity or something like that.
He goes on like that.
Nor is it the idea of those who are too easily satisfied with commonplace things, or that of those
too easily satisfied, because it's not a great thing necessarily to be content with the meanest and the worst, and to have no sense of beauty, and to like a kind of misery.
Not necessarily a good thing.
Traherne is good, Thomas Traherne, he says that the greatest thing is that meanness is our desire for glory, our love of beauty, and our greediness in a sense.
It's got to be transformed.
Or that of those who, in a spirit of narrow-minded pedantry, mount guard over the standards of a petit bourgeois way of life of this kind, and legalistically try to ensure that the rules of the game are kept for their own sake.
See, it's easy for that to happen in a strict, poor monastery like an old temple's monastery.
And all kinds of motives creep into that watchfulness.
Sure, you'd be looking at somebody else's shoebox.
You'd be peeking into somebody else's shoebox to see if he's got a bigger tube of toothpaste.
Because nothing you can do outside of yourself like that necessarily makes you any better, necessarily makes your heart any weaker.
You put so much energy in that that you pray or something.
People do, you know, fight too fast, or do some kind of just cynical way of understanding.
But if you put so much energy, you won't get it right.
It's praying, other than the essential thing is communion with God.
You know, it seems like that's the same thing.
You know, it may be okay for oil if it's trying to break some bad attachment, some bad habit, but somebody has to steer them out of that, otherwise they're just wasting their energy.
And some of the Zen Buddhists are very good on these things.
They just have a space where they lay out their sleeping pattern.
That's all.
They don't even have a syllabus.
Okay.
Yeah, Knight is the fellow who picks up from Rahner.
Everything he says mostly is based on Rahner.
He's got another notion here which is useful, and that is the notion of expression of the grace that you have, self-expression.
I just throw this out as something you might want to look into.
Self-expression as being self-creation, and this is
he says, is the key to poverty and to chastity and obedience too.
That these are ways in which you try to remake yourself, as it were, in conformity to the grace which you have conceived.
So, you don't understand it now as a means towards an end, but you understand poverty, for instance, rather as an expression of what you have received.
Now this, of course, is what Rahner says and what St.
Paul says, I think.
that since we've been given the grace of the kingdom, it's a matter of somehow finding a way in which to express this interior gift.
Also, you remember that foreword of Anthony Bloom to the sayings of the Desert Fathers, the translation there, where he says that the only way that these Desert Fathers could express what they had received, the vocation, the grace they received, is to live on nothing.
to live on nothing that came from the earth so that they could show and express that they were rooted in heaven, okay?
Now that's putting it very crudely and bluntly.
But their fasting and their solitude and their celibacy and everything else was, it's like the burning bush in a sense.
It's simply the natural response of a man who is living from somewhere else.
He's living from somewhere else.
Like Jesus said, my kingdom is not from here.
They're not doing it primarily for witness, they're doing it just in response.
And the witness is the natural consequence of what they're doing.
But what they're doing is, can you say it's for themselves?
It's just like a plant.
A plant has a certain seed, a certain form it's going to assume, so it grows up into that form.
And it's the way, the grace is a seed, and it has to produce its own form in you, you see?
And so it does that.
And then to talk about one purpose or another is beside the point, because it's not so much
doing something for a purpose as responding to a grace which we receive.
OK?
A different point of view.
Now according to him, this self-expression is actually self-creation, is making yourself through these decisions that you make, and these decisions are decisions of renunciation, which make your personality according to the form of Christ as it were.
That's a pretty good way of thinking of it.
So it works both ways.
There's the move from inward to outward and there's the move from outward to inward.
The poverty helps you to focus on God alone, right?
And Jesus says how hard it is for man who has riches to enter the kingdom of heaven, okay?
It's hard because the external stuff is in his way.
Alright, so the external act of renunciation favors your orienting yourself to God, favors your focusing on him, and favors the growth of love in your heart.
But at the same time, the giving up of things expresses this grace which you have received.
So it works both ways, exactly.
Now, Roberts concentrates on one way, and Grosz, he's talking about both ways, especially when he talks about external witness and so on, he's talking about the outward movement.
Knight tends to focus totally on the outward direction, and Rahner pretty much, although I didn't read just now all of his treatments,
It works both ways, and in that sense you can say it's like a sacrament, which both expresses and does.
So the expression is the movement outwards in a sense, and the doing is movement inward.
So it's a sacramental response to the grace which one has received.
And that grace is what?
That grace is an identification with Christ, not only the poor Christ,
or the crucified Christ, but the Christ who is poor, crucified and risen so that this richness is inside of you.
But then we get to this point where is that richness inside of us and therefore
You can have this sort of illusion that therefore everything just ought to fall away from us.
We ought to be as poor as mice already and happy as a lot.
We ought to be just like St.
Paul in 2 Corinthians.
Poor, we don't have anything, but we're happy and just filled and overflowing and full of love.
And we're not.
Most of the time we're not.
Don't tell anybody that we're not.
So there's this whole other thing about the emptiness.
I'm cold, I'm hungry, I'm going home.
St.
Paul says if we hope for Christ only in this world, we're the most miserable of all people, he says.
Remember?
Only in this world, because what we have in this world is miserable.
But he's talking about the extreme.
So the other side of this is the emptiness and the waiting and passing through the desert experience and passing through the poor life of Jesus
Okay?
His time in the desert and so on and his privations while he was on earth, expecting the resurrection.
So here you get that paradox which we always have between the kingdom which we're waiting for and moving towards and the kingdom which is already here, already inside of us.
There's no easy, you know, solution to that problem.
So your whole life has been passing through you, going through a phase in your life.
Yeah, I think so.
Your whole life is still outside the kingdom, in a sense, because not until after we die do we enter fully into the kingdom.
But on the other hand, the kingdom is inside of us, and to a certain extent, and sometimes very strongly, we experience and enjoy the kingdom.
So it's just got these two sides to it.
Okay, I didn't expect to spend so long on this today.
But if we were to propose a sort of structure for this whole thing, first of all I'd raise the question of what is the relation of poverty with the Eucharist, because I think in some way the Eucharist expresses the meaning of poverty.
This gift which comes into the world and then remains hidden in a way causes a common sharing and is supposed to bring about a new life within us which makes it possible to be fed not so much from this world but from within, from beyond.
and it's present and at the same time it's hidden and expected for the leader somehow.
It says a lot.
There's a charism of poverty also for individuals.
That's right, which goes beyond... that each person gives according to his... Oh, I see what you mean, yeah.
Like one member of the body.
And one member will have the charism to witness to poverty in a special way, and another person won't be able to, simply because of his health, or because of the other needs that he has.
Because he hasn't received his grace.
And it's different for everybody.
But there are norms.
Norms of poverty and privileges.
Sure, there are minimum norms, okay, and communal norms that govern the whole group, but then each individual is going to be a little bit different.
And often it's harder to reconcile those two things, because one part becomes an invidious thing, and you start looking at one another and judging one another, being envious of each other.
That's what I was wondering, is how do you define the degree of concreteness?
Even St.
Paul, to what degree did he live poverty?
He says, I know how to abound and I know how to be poor.
So his poverty seems to have depended a lot on where he was in the situation.
If he was with rich Christians, I'll bet he wouldn't insist on living in a very poor standard of life.
But he insisted on earning his own living, remember?
He didn't want to live at the expense of others.
And that's a lot for somebody who's got to live a full life as a preacher, as an apostle or a leader.
It's hard for us to know exactly how a full life goes on.
But what I mean is, how do you define what poverty is, what religious poverty is, to what degree is, I mean, is it going to be so much to this poverty or too much to that poverty?
That's the difficulties, because there isn't an absolute level to it, frankly.
It's different in every situation.
And so, the whole concrete problem then was, how did he do it?
Like the desert father that had been rich and had a comfortable life, and then when he lived in the desert, he had a strong family.
But for him, it was... That's right.
There are two stories there from Arsenius.
I was going to save them until later.
Robert's quotes, one that...
Arsenius, remember, he was a senator, and oh, he had a big wheel from the palace, and all kinds of things.
And then he went into the desert, and it says in number four, just as none in the palace had worn more splendid garments than he when he lived there, so no one in the church wore such poor clothing when he was in the desert.
But then there's another story about Arsenius, and this is the one you're referring to now.
Once he was sick at Cetus, and the priest came to take him to church and put him on a bed with a small pillow under his head.
Now behold, an old man who was coming to see him saw him lying on a bed with a little pillow under his head, and he was shocked.
He said, is this really Abba Arsenius, this man lying down like this with a pillow under his head?
Some of them didn't even lie down to sleep, they just sit.
Then the priest took him aside and said to him, in the village where you live, what was your trade?
This one who was criticizing Arsenius.
He says, I was a shepherd.
And how did you live?
I had a very hard life.
Then the priest said, and how do you live in your cell now?
The other replied, I'm more comfortable in my cell.
And he said to him, do you see this Abba Arsenius?
When he was in the world, he was the father of the emperor, surrounded by thousands of slaves with golden girdles, all wearing collars of gold and garlands of silk.
Beneath him were spread rich coverings.
While you were in the world as a shepherd, you did not enjoy even the comforts you now have.
But he no longer enjoys the delicate life he led in the world.
So you were comforted while he was afflicted.
It sounds like Abraham speaking to Lazarus of Egypt.
In these words, the old man was filled with compunction and frustrated himself, saying, Father, forgive me for I have sinned.
Truly, the way this man follows is the way of truth, for it leads to humility, while mine leads to comfort.
So the old man went through all of that.
So it's relative.
The privation of poverty is relative both to your background, where you come from, the difference, and also to what you can stand and to your health and what you need.
Arsenius was sick at this time.
There's another story that's sort of similar to that where he says, well, this brother had a plant growing.
Yeah, that's Arsenius too.
And then he says, well, he needs this plant.
Right.
Roberts quotes that.
He's got it.
It's right in the book, period.
In other words, his proportion to need is the person needs it.
And St.
Benedict is the same way.
He says, distribution is made not on an equal basis, but according to the need of each one.
That's right.
It was enough for the need of everybody, but nobody had too much.
That's a kind of a magical thing.
Okay, one question here.
In what way is poverty an end for a monk?
Knight tends to say that it's an end.
Not absolutely, but
He says, religious poverty is more of an end in itself, though not in an ultimate sense, of course, than simply a means to some other virtue or effect.
It is not quite the same as austerity, but it is definitely not the ideal of moderation.
Well, he says more there than we're interested in.
Whereas Robert says that poverty is not an end, but is a means to a goal, and the goal is love.
The reason for these differences is simply that poverty is a means to something better, perfection in love and in the fulfillment of one's particular vocation.
What do you make of that?
Why does Knight say that it's an end?
Because he's talking from the point of view of the self-expression, right?
You're expressing the grace that you have.
Not witness, unless you say witness to yourself, but this law of organic expression, which
of living the grace that you're given.
And so poverty in a sense becomes an end because it is the expressions, the fullness of expression in this life.
So he's going from the inside out.
Roberts is coming from the outside in.
Poverty helps to sanctify you by facilitating the growth of love.
And both of those are valid.
And of course poverty is in no sense an absolute
St.
Francis is interesting.
His grasp of poverty seems to be very tangible.
Poverty is a thing.
It's a ritual.
He spoke of poverty as a charism, as a spirit.
The spirit of poverty.
He talked about lady poverty.
Does he talk about the spirit of poverty, too?
Well, the essence of poverty.
For him it was like something he could feel.
It was like being able to see or being able to do something.
And that was his charism, I think.
To have that intense sense of poverty, just like it was something he could feel in himself.
But I don't think, in a sense, that there is a spirit of poverty as an entity.
I think there can be a charism of poverty.
It's a kind of gift of the Holy Spirit.
which is a particular tone, a particular coloration of the spiritual life, the Christian life, but not a spirit of privacy as a thing, as a separate thing.
That's the notion that St.
Francis gives you, because often the founder of a religious order will have a very strong and distinct charism, a conviction as if the thing were right in front of him, as if he were looking at it.
That's his personal gift, and his personal gift to be pastime.
Now, Knight, when he talks about all this, as I say, he emphasizes, also when he talks about celibacy, he talks as if the Kingdom of Heaven were so present that it's just like trading stuff which is hollow for that which is real, and which you immediately enjoy.
So I think he over-accents this realized eschatology, he over-accents the now enjoyment of the Kingdom at the expense of the waiting.
Whereas you'll find other people who emphasize the emptiness and the desert experience.
David and I, you know.
You say that here?
He emphasized eschatology?
No, we got this expression, realized eschatology.
Eschatology is the last thing.
Eschatology, let's say, is the kingdom, the kingdom of God, which is the gift that Jesus brings us.
Now, ordinarily, you think of that as being in the future, and you wait for it in faith, hope, and expectation, emptiness, and so on.
The desert experience.
Night, however, it is present.
It's present in the Eucharist, but it's present also in our life.
And we experience the kingdom.
We experience the good things that God gives to us.
But you can accent either one side or the other side of this.
You can accent the already or the not yet.
Now, night puts all the weight on the already.
As if the kingdom was such a real thing.