February 11th, 1999, Serial No. 00153

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Rule of Benedict Novice Class # 2 - 1990s

AI Summary: 





We're digging out of the snow over here. Heavenly Father, help us, give us your Spirit, give us your light, we ask this in Jesus' name. So we have an intimate gathering this morning. What I'd like to do today is finish that second chapter on the church, okay, with its questions, and then next time we can go on to the third chapter, which is the church and the world. In all of this we seem to be moving aside from monasticism, but of course we're sort of, what would you call it, warming up and getting a context for talking about monasticism. So the monastic life can always be sort of at the edges of our consciousness and the back of our mind when we're talking about the church and the world, because after all that's what we want afterwards, is to be able to think about monastic life intelligently, openly, rather than with the kind of blinders which frequently have been there.


I found a book by Dulles at Models of the Church. It was on the shelf, but I don't know why, I must have looked in the wrong place. Which is a useful book, and I think one of his best books, I think. It's a simple book. He starts out, before he sets out his models, he starts out really by talking about two approaches to thinking about the church, and one is to think in terms of definitions, and the other is to think in terms of mystery. So he talks about mystery in here in a couple of places, right in the introduction on page 8, and then on page 15 and the following, just another reference for that issue of mystery. Now here it's particularly in terms of the church. So he's got two alternatives, it seems. One is to go in the direction of definitions, as scholastic theology might attempt to do, or especially the theology of the counter-reformation, post-reformation time, which wanted hard and clear definitions, also that could be verified somehow visibly, okay, and that tended to


be rather exclusive. I think there was a kind of leaning towards canon law, a leaning towards a juridical definition, which necessarily deals with externals, because law can't deal with internal things, only with external things, which can be determined and kind of, what would you call it, can be governed. You can't govern internal reality. He gives an example of Bellarmine and his approach to the church by way of definition. This is on page 14. It used to be thought, at least by many, that the church and other realities of faith could be defined by a similar process, and he's talking about process of definition, about ordinary, visible things. Thus the church, according to Robert Bellarmine, is a specific type of human community, The one and true church, he wrote in a celebrated passage, is the community of men brought together by the profession of the same Christian faith and conjoined in the communion of the same sacraments under the government of the legitimate pastors and especially the one vicar of Christ


on earth, the Roman pontiff. So it's a strongly weighted definition. This definition comprises three elements, profession of the true faith, communion in the sacraments, and submission to the legitimate pastors. By applying these criteria, Bellarmine is able to exclude all persons who, in his opinion, do not belong to the true church. The first criterion rules out pagans, Muslims, Jews, heretics, and apostates. The second rules out catechumens and excommunicated persons. The third rules out schismatics. Thus only Roman Catholics remain. Isn't that beautiful? It is significant, he says, that Bellarmine's definition is entirely in terms of visible elements, which really are subject to juridical definition, too, aren't they? So I think there's an influence by canon lawyers here. Even Josaphat is to maintain that whereas profession of the true faith is essential, actual belief, being an internal and unverifiable factor, is not. A man who professes to believe but does not believe in his heart would be, on this definition,


a member of the church, whereas a man who believes without professing to believe would not be. They see he's fighting the reformers, and so this is the kind of thing, the kind of theology that comes out of that kind of struggle. Now, what Dulles is proposing, and there's a great sigh of relief when this other opposite approach comes out, is to start at the opposite end by calling the church a mystery. Now, mystery is not one of his models, okay? It's like the mystery is the center of the circle, and then the models are around, like a ring around that center, because the mystery is something you can't very well express. By definition, you can say the mystery is undefinable. Or by definition, the mystery does not completely express itself in any one model, any one image, or any one concept, okay? Any one term at all. So the mystery would be the dark center, or luminous center, and then each of these models would be located somewhere around the mystery, expressing an aspect. But he says, well, I've said models and not dimensions, because if you say aspects


or dimensions, it implies that if you put them together, you can draw the picture. You can fill in the lines, okay, between the points, between the dots, and have the reality, have a grasp of the reality. But he says you can't, and that's why I say models, because they really are independent in a sense, and have to be treated as if they were freely moving, each one, rather than being locked into some kind of structure which contains them all. So I think he does that very well, I think. And then he sets forth his five models here. Remember, one is institution, that's the model that predominated, was accepted by Catholics since the Reformation. The second one, I thought it was mystery of communion, but it's mystical communion, the way he has it here. In a sense, I think mystery of communion would be better. Mystical communion seems to, see, that seems to limit it too much.


When you say mystical communion, it seems to exclude a communion which would be on more tangible levels as well. But I think he's trying to purify that image, and give you one aspect rather than having it overlap too much with the others. The third is Church's sacrament, and that's the one that we just got to in Consider Your Caller. And remember, when you move to the Church's sacrament, in the way that they're defining it, the way they're talking about it, it seems like it's as much for the people outside as it is for the people inside. And there's a great mystery there, because how that sacrament helps those people if they don't know anything about it is a mystery. But that's part of this notion of Church's sacrament in the time of Vatican II. And Rahner was one of the basic proponents of that. The fourth one would be Church as herald. Now that means really Church as herald of the message or preacher of the word. You could have said Church as apostle or preacher, I think, evangelist.


The fifth is Church as servant. And that's one that came out, I think, particularly around the time of Vatican II, when people were tired by the kind of triumphalistic image of the Church, and they wanted to see it, to take the opposite view of the Church as serving humanity. Then in the other book, the second book, he introduces a further model, which is the community of disciples. But he says, he confesses, there's an infinite number of possible models, so you could do it, you could add a lot more. The one that I would like to add is the model of wisdom. If you have an image of the Church as communion, you could have a corresponding image of the Church as wisdom. It seems to me that communion falls on the side of the spirit, and that wisdom falls on the side of the word, but somewhat differently from the way that we've conceived that word side before. I was thinking, in fact, when you put our old mound over here, you can say that the Church


as mystery is here, or you can also say that it's here, when we talk about the interiorism. If you try to make a model of the models of the Church, I would be inclined to put mystery here. Because now we're making this a model. If we put it in the center, we're saying it's not a model, and the models orbit around it. If we make it a model, and I put it here, because this is where the undefinable is, where the infinitive absolute is, where the interior is. Then, over here, I would put probably wisdom, and everything that goes with it. So the herald would relate to that, probably. Also the community of disciples, in some way, would relate to that, but also relate to this other side, which is communion. Now that here, you could put a couple of things. One thing you could put is institution, isn't it? Because that's certainly the external face of the Church. But possibly you could also put sacrament there, because we think of the sacrament as


an external presence, don't we? As a visible thing. The sacrament has to be visible in some way. And so, the Church as sacrament of Christ is the visible presence of Christ. You can say, who is otherwise invisible to us, because he's ascended to heaven. But also sacrament. But sacrament can also comprehend all things. You see, these figures never quite do it. So, sacrament can have all these dimensions. Remember, the sacrament has the, what is it, the sacramentum, which is the external part. Then it has the level of the resit sacramentum, which is like the body of Christ. And then it has the innermost dimension of just res, which would be God, which would be divinity, divine grace. So you can say, erasing these other terms for a bit, you can say that the sacrament is the whole bundle, the whole figure. You can also say, however, that it's down here because it is a visible external thing. Especially when you live with people outside, it's a visible sign. You can think about a monastery at the same time.


You can extend, and in fact it's interesting to think about models of monasteries, models of monasteries like in parallel to models of the church. Just to end on that, if we're talking about different ways of looking at the church, you're saying you can make the same divisions for monastery. Yep. The monastery, if you take it from Panakar's angle or from the more solitary side, tends to locate itself up at the top for me when we talk about monastery with respect to church. So, for instance, if you talk about the different vocations and different functions and different organs in the church, I can be inclined to put the monastic life here, put the, say, teaching life here, or the doctrinal magisterium, or a lot of those things over here, the whole theological communication of the church. Over here, I might put, what, acts of mercy, but action also goes down here, but what would you put over here?


Maybe the liturgy. What arm, what expression of the church would be over here? I think the church is radiation or communication of divine love, for one thing, or it's being simply communion, in that sense. I think of a kind of masculine apostolate over here, and a kind of feminine apostolate over here, like that of Mother Teresa or something like that. But the essential communication is not really doing this or that work of charity, it's charity itself. The missionaries of charity. What they're really doing is communicating Christianity as love, rather than doing particular kind of service. And down here, there would be any of the more active, active works of the church. If you did it with the religious order, you'd find it amongst here the Americans, here the Franciscans here, although, Franciscans on both sides, and the Jesuits, who were actually


the ecclesial army, in the sense of our mission. I wanted to read a little something from Marmion, because he's such a beautiful example of a certain view of monasticism. I was raised on Marmion, because Father Clement, the prior here, was using him as his fundamental basis of teaching when I came. This is his monastic book, Christ the Ideal of the Monk, and it's quite beautiful. It's integral. It all fits together perfectly, and it perfectly, what do you call it, perfectly expresses a certain vision of monasticism. But it corresponds to the institutional model almost perfectly. So if you read theologians writing about the church, and then read Marmion writing about the monastic life, you find that they correspond perfectly from that counter-reformation or institutional point of view. I just want to read you a little bit of this sample. Now he starts out talking about what's the monastic vocation about, and he says, well,


first it's the divine adoption. So he's got that. And he was one of the first, actually, to simplify Christianity and monastic life once again by centering it in Christ. So he says, Christ the Ideal of the Monk. That's an advance. It's a breakthrough, because he sees it now not as some kind of structure of observances and so on, but being centered in the following of Christ, in a sense, in an identity with Christ. So when he talks about divine adoption, he's got it there, OK? But pretty soon, he's going to move to the other side. Now the other side is the institutional side. And this is what he says. This is in Chapter 3 on the Abbot. The monastery is the basis of a society. What is a society? It is an assembly of men whose wills conspire towards a determined end under a recognized authority. It sounds a little like Bellarmine, doesn't it, talking about the church? In fact, Bellarmine sees the church and the monastery as basically the same, basically the same structure, following the same principle. In order to form a society, it is not enough for men to be materially united, for instance,


like a crowd. Men must have an identical aim to which all tend by common consent. This aim gives to the society its direction and specification. But as men are unstable, this is a nice giving part, it is especially necessary for the constituting and functioning of a society. There should be an authority maintaining the union of the members in pursuit of the social ends, keeping them united as to the means. Now that's the Abbot. And then another part on the cenobitical society itself. Before studying the monastery from a cenobitical point of view, it is necessary, first of all, carefully to analyze the authority, which is its mainstay. This authority is concentrated in the hands of the Abbot. So notice that he grabs the monastic vocation from an interior point of view. He's a saintly person too, so he's got a real sense of it.


But when he wants to talk about the monastery, he immediately goes over to almost a juridical expression, a juridical language, and talks about the structure of the monastery. Now this is an Abbot writing it, so in a sense he is that, he personifies that structure. Here's a part on the cenobitical society. This is a little bit of chapter 4. We have already remarked that there is a striking analogy between the government instituted by Saint Benedict and that of the Church. And this should in no wise astonish us in a rule coming from one in whom the Christian senses are closely allied to the Roman genius. Now, Marmion is an Irishman. You know that the constitution given by eternal wisdom to his church establishes a monarchical and hierarchical form of government, reflecting upon earth, God's supreme monarchy in heaven, and the hierarchy which reigns there. At the basis of the visible body, which is his church, Christ Jesus has placed a visible


foundation, Peter and his successors. From them all power and jurisdiction is derived. In the same way, our Blessed Father makes the entire organization of the monastery depend upon the Abbot. From the supreme abatial authority flows all the activity of the monastery and all delegation. The principal officials in the monastery, the priors, the deans are instituted by the Abbot. So, you see that it's a pyramid, and it's a pyramid of power, a pyramid of jurisdiction, kind of from a theoretical point of view. As soon as he begins to talk of the monastery, it's very different from the idea of, I don't know, the idea of a monastery as church in terms of communion, you know, as an expression of the communion which is Christ's gift or something like that. But that's beautifully typical of that time. Yeah. The conservative cause, look, as that thing started to play with the different ways of looking at the head, Christ as head of the church in a similar way.


Dr. Marmier kind of just talks about the Abbot as imperial power there, doesn't really talk about the, necessarily the spiritual benefits of what he can do as far as life giving for the community. But conservative call makes a distinction about when it talks about Christ as head of the church. You know, in the rule, the Abbot will be like Christ. But in the church model, Christ as head of the church is that imperial figure from which all law and order flow through the structures of the church and the first pope and everything in the then. But conservative call also mentions that as head of the church, that can be a more life giving understanding of head as life giving center. And that aspect of it doesn't appear to be literally said in Marmier. Well, he'll get on to it because he's got a heart too, you know. As an Abbot, I think he had a very warm human sense. So that's going to come out.


But he lays his foundation in this way. His foundation is on the juridical stone, as it were. Now when he talks, he'll talk about charity as the teaching of the Abbot and also the great necessity for the Abbot. But he wants to make this darn clear before he does it. The Abbot is Abbot. But if you want to ask what is the opposite of that vision of monasticism, well I suppose Panikkar's head comes up right away. Because juridical authority and institution have nothing to do basically with his definition of monasticism. Which is coming from outside Christianity. Whenever he talks about institution, it doesn't make any sense. Yeah, Panikkar will say, well it's necessary. But he'll say that every direction needs an institution.


The problem is the institution can kill it. That is, if you institutionalize it. Monasticism requires an institution as a container. But when you institutionalize it, you're in danger of suffocating it. Suffocating life. So he sees the two sides of it. Panikkar basically is like Lee Griffiths. He stands outside the institution. And Panikkar actually is defective in that sense that he doesn't have enough ecclesiology. He doesn't have enough of the sense of the things he doesn't like. Those problems. Okay, let's take a look at our... Oh, I want to say one other thing about this. You can create two theologies. Two families of theologies. Two lines on this basis.


One would be the kind of juridical theology that we see exemplified there in Mormon, even in the monastic life, which comes from outside the monastic life and then tends to take it over because it's very strong. The other would be a sapiential theology. So one is the kind of... This institutional theology is such... I don't know if it's peculiar to the Roman Catholic, but it's very strong in the Counter-Reformation time when the church becomes so juridical, so focused on its structure. So that's what you have here. The opposite is sapiential theology. Sometimes you find that in Mormon too, but not so much of it as you do this. You could make a spectrum, you know, and put monastic writers or church writers along that spectrum between institutional or juridical and sapiential. It was said that the church at a certain point was taken over by canon lawyers. So it begins to speak, the language begins to be that language. And the theology begins to be that kind of theology. It's a task of monasticism to rediscover the other theology.


I think the pitfall, the danger, is to polarize so much that you reject one side and kind of rule out or outlaw the juridical perspective because it's worthy of respect. I find B. Griffiths doing that. B. Griffiths going too much on this? Yeah, he tends to almost act as if it doesn't need to exist, as if the juridical or the institutional side, as if we don't need it. And the real life of the church and the future of the church is getting over it, leaving it behind. I think there's some truth in that, but it's not entirely true. Wayne Teasdale would always love to quote B. Griffiths saying about the Vatican, that Jesus would stand in front of the Vatican and say, Not one stone shall stand upon a stone. But it ain't quite true. It's a fear. It's not sensitive to fear,


but a certain sense of humility can even find the good in the middle of the institution when things can be so much a cause of anger to people In Luke, when Elizabeth greets Mary and says, Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come visit me? That's been long interpreted as being the church. Mary is also the church, so Elizabeth or any person is receiving the church, and in the church, in Mary, is Christ. So there's that gift there. It's a great gift, even if the wrapping is a little shoddy or something like that. Not that there's a problem with Mary, but that in the institutional church, there are problems. It's like rejecting the body in a sense. Rejecting the physical body in favor of some spiritual essence or something like that,


which never quite incarnates itself. Also, there's a kind of romantic tendency in people, which also goes together with immaturity sometimes, where they tend to say they reject real life. People come to monasteries in that way. Sometimes they reject real life. They reject their parents, the life of their parents, the society out of which they come, in favor of some absolute, which is perfect. The people who go to India often, they're doing that in a sense. It's a refusal to take on the burden of adulthood sometimes, even though they're right, in another way they're right, because they're saying this is not enough. Is that the, what do you call it, the eternal buoy? Yeah, buoy or eternity. Exactly. And they create these imaginary paradises and these new mythologies, you know, the perfect spirituality, the perfect ashram, and so on. But they have a word to speak,


but it's easy for somebody to remain locked up in that thing forever, believing they've got the key to the perfect life, and never really embarking on life. The typical of it, well, the buoy or eternity is the young guy who never settles down and has a family, and has the responsibility of children, responsibility of a job, of a wife, of children. It just goes on forever with this dream of perfection, which is tied up with the feminine in some way. Sometimes it's tied up with mothers, sometimes it's tied up with the animal, in another way. Let's go back to our chapter two and wind that up if we can. I think Pfeiffer, on that spectrum, Pfeiffer is not as far over on the theoretical side as Marmion, not nearly. He's a product of Vatican II. So he's moving towards his happy angel,


but what he writes doesn't quite have that resonance with the second angel. Who is that angel? Monastic spirituality. It's an ecclesial perspective on monasticism, which still has not found itself. It is like the monastic mind seeking itself, and not having found its own language quite yet. So it's taking the language of Vatican II, and talking about monastic life. He uses a lot of Vatican II language. Oh yeah, that's the product of the explosion of Vatican II in the monastic world. And then looking at monastic life as a type of religious life, so kind of defying it from outside itself. So the music is beginning to be heard there, but it's not full on. I think we got as far as question 13 last time about the seven sacraments. The author doesn't say much about the seven sacraments.


There's only one sentence there. And that is that they're acts of Christ and his church. Privileged points of encounter with the risen Lord. Two sentences. Both of them have a kind of dynamic sound to them, don't they? Acts of Christ and his church. We wouldn't right away think of the sacrament as an act, would we? And points of encounter. So an encounter is a live thing. It's a meeting. Something goes on. An event goes on at the moment. Whereas before they would have talked about sign and instrument. Are there models of sacraments as well? Well, the sacraments themselves have this variety. There would be models, I think, of definition. Models of the idea of the sacrament. But they're so different in themselves that your problem there is not arriving at a plurality of models, but a single one thing which can embrace them all.


And that's what the word sacrament does. So if you will derive the plurality of models, it would be pretty confusing. With certain sacraments. It's their diversity already which has to be dealt with. There are models, though, describing each one. Baptism is different. Metaphors. Oh, yeah. Biblical metaphors, especially, of each one. Think of all the metaphors for baptism. And also all the Old Testament history that is related to baptism by spiritual interpretation, by exegesis. Crossing the Red Sea, but also a new creation, entering the promised land. One thing after another. There are dozens of them. The Assyrians are the great masters of that kind of biblical baptismal theology. Which of these seven sacraments communicate the sacrament of Christ most fully? There seem to be two, don't there? And if you ask between those two, which is the fullest communication between baptism and Eucharist?


I think the standard answer is that the Eucharist is. Even baptism somehow flows out of the Eucharist in some way. It flows out of that. That's the way I remember it. The other sacraments really are on another level from those two, it seems. Because you don't find them in the New Testament explicitly. And they don't seem to have that same basic place in the church, in the mystery. If you read the Gospel of John and the Gospel of Mark, too, I believe, I think everything is in terms of baptism. And Eucharist is a kind of culmination, but it doesn't have the same weight as baptism. Because it's like those Gospels are taking you back to the beginning all the time. To the fullness, which is the baptismal gift. The same thing is true of St. Paul. Sometimes they'll talk about the Eucharist, but they're always presupposing that change in that gift, which is the baptismal gift.


It's as if the Eucharist is more like the life that they're talking about all the time. And the baptism is the source. So they move between the source and the life. Just as Paul moves between saying, Okay, you're new creatures in Christ. Okay, you've received the Spirit. Like Ephesians 1, remember? That whole litany of what God has done for you in Christ. And the fact is that you're in Christ. Well, that's like the baptismal reality. And the Eucharistic reality maybe is in his moral exhortations. In other words, towards the Eucharistic life, which would be a life of love. A life of spiritual service. A life of, say, dying into God and into one another. Maybe that's it. But the weight between the two doesn't seem to equal in the Testament. You can think also that, see, the New Testament comes at the beginning, doesn't it? Baptism is the sacrament of the beginning. So it may be that it's saturated, so saturated with the beginning. And that the meaning of the Eucharist maybe has to be unrolled in the course of history, okay?


Has to unfold itself in the course of time as you move towards the end. Because I believe really that life moves between those two. Baptism being the beginning, the Eucharist being the end. But the thing about the Eucharist as it has been, as I remember hearing about in theology classes, is that it contains the fullness, because it contains the present fullness of the body of Christ. Therefore, its sense of fullness goes beyond somehow that of baptism. But, I'm not so sure. I think they both contain the present fullness, but we can consider baptism to be not just the beginning, but your ongoing life, the source of your life. So I don't think we have to rank them that way. There's a suggestion of that structure of baptism in the Eucharist,


in one John he talks about the water and the blood. It came not only in the water but in the blood. And then the water and blood flowing from the side of Jesus, from the cross, in John's Gospel. I think baptism has always been something that people have disagreed about when it should be done in life. But once it's done, it's a full participation in some way. Even though it's only the beginning, it's also a kind of fullness in Christ's death and resurrection. That's right. And then the Eucharist, the theology has changed much more radically about what the Eucharist means, as far as how often people should receive it, once a year, every single day, only after confession. All sorts of uses, much more different than what it means for it to be taken,


versus just sitting in the tabernacle or different things. When you start talking about those things, it's almost like a microcosm of the whole theological revolution and all the theological possibilities and the change in perspective, which is astonishing, like in the past 50 years. And it is as if we're coming out of a tunnel, and then all of a sudden, the immensity of these things like baptism and Eucharist become manifest to us, after, for a long time, not being able to see it. Because, you know, I think initiation was almost forgotten for a long time. The RCIA is a recovery, but I think the meaning of initiation was almost forgotten. And all our spiritualities sort of ignored it and went on from it, climbing this or that spiritual ladder, forgetting about the fullness given in baptism. If you read the Carmelite Mystics, for instance, I don't know if you find baptism mentioned at all.


Maybe a few times. St. Theresa and John, of course. So, in some way, we're really experiencing a return to the beginning. Question 14 is about this Vatican II idea that the Church's sacrament of salvation has a change, and how you understand it. What you mentioned earlier is the movement of the Church to salvation for all. But that means different things. Even though the end is the same, it means different things for those within the Church and those without the Church, or outside of the Church. It's funny, because it means a change in the meaning of sacrament itself, doesn't it? Because sacrament before was, and still is, the thing that defines the person who is inside the Church.


We see the sacraments, we can only see them if we're inside the Church, inside the bounds of the Church. And yet, the weight of this idea of sacrament is towards those outside. And in a sense, it's an expansion in that sense, an expansion of the meaning of sacrament, so that the circle, the forum, is no longer just the Church as we know it, but the forum is the whole world, for all of God, and the sacraments within. A phrase that hit me, I'm not sure exactly what they're basing this on, but when they say, at the very top of page 21, the embodiment of saving grace in history, and the manifestation of God's unrestricted saving purpose. And it might be happily Pauline about the redemption of the entire cosmos and all creation,


but it's almost plunging into the mystery of God. It's going back to God's purpose in some ways, and then almost re-emerging in individuals outside of the Church, not so much through the Church, but just through God's creative act. I'm not saying it very well, but His creative act. Almost like the second creation, the new creation. There's the creative act, and then the new creation is the consummation, bringing everything back towards God. But the Church almost falls away when you're talking about that, because it almost seems like you're stretching the language for Church here. Does that make sense? Yeah. We come to have two theologies, one of which is ecclesial, and the restricted sense of the other, which is cosmic. And we don't know how to mediate between those two theologies.


But we know that we are responsible to both of them in some way. The second one only comes back nowadays. It was there in the early Church, because the Father spoke naturally about the Church and the cosmos, the Church and the universe. Before the Church was all split up, it was easy to do that. Once it gets split up, then you have to think about denomination, and how come they're not... good reasons why they're not part of it. You can't think of the Church in universal terms any longer, especially after the Protestant Reformation. Catholics couldn't think of it. Yeah. It's almost like the... There. The cosmic vision is so wide that you almost have to become adept at not just talking about different things, but knowing when to utterly jump out of the ecclesial language,


and then when to jump in it. That's right. And how to mediate, not so much when one is right, but when not to be in one or to be in other almost. Yeah. It's almost an intuitive sense of how you're... That's right. I'm sure there are analogies to it that is in other areas, but they don't come to mind, of having to do that kind of thing. It's like being a Jew and a Gentile at the same time. As Paul made himself a Gentile among the Gentiles like that. So Paul had to do that in some way, didn't he? He's an analogy in some way. He made himself a Gentile. Yeah. He had to think in both of those theologies, I think. He thought in terms of his roots and what Christianity kept from Israel. And he also thought in terms of all of humanity belonging to Christ and the gospel destined for all of them. See, when you think about this thing of sacrament,


this idea of sacrament, as it's thought of in Vatican II, it makes this moment a key moment in history because at this point the Church seems to open up and begin to look at everything outside of itself in a different way and as if it looked at it for the first time, which is not true because it had in the beginning. But as if it opens up, looks at everything outside of itself and realizes it's in a world which it does not dominate by containing all truth and reality in itself. So it's in a world in which it has to dialogue and from which it has to learn in some way. So there's some kind of exchange between it and the world, that it is something in the world, not something above the world. And that not only is it responsible to the world, to save the world, as they say in the old language, but that somehow, I don't know, it's going in both ways. It's like a child, a young person growing up and suddenly their world opens up and is no longer just themselves or their family.


Or it's like, I suppose, when somebody falls in love during adolescence and their world opens up. It's that kind of a critical juncture, a critical opening, it seems. From an in-turned church to an outwardly turned church, or a church that's open to the outside. And it's as if it's the first time. I mean, when you look at the church saying officially that the other religions are a valid means of salvation, that's the first time. You point it at the Fathers. How would you define mystical union as the spiritual mystics have experienced? How does that relate to the definition of sacrament? Okay, when you ask that, you seem to be stating things that fall far apart, don't you? And B. Griffiths would be likely to say, well, the sacraments are only the stepping stones towards mystical union


which transcends the sacraments. And I think in earlier ages, say for the past 500 years, if somebody asked that question, he would say, well, the sacraments... If you took it from the mystical side, the mystics and the mystical writers, they would say that the sacraments are the basis from which you move towards the mystical ascent. So they leave the sacraments behind in some way, moving towards the mystical union. If a good theologian did it nowadays, I don't think he'd do that anymore. I think he would have to say even that mysticism is sacramental. He'd have to keep the integrity of the mystery no matter where you go. Because it is also the encounter. Yeah. There are two encounters, now that you put it that way. The sacramental encounter and the mystical encounter. Now, perfectly speaking, ideally speaking, the two would happen perhaps at the same time. Maybe they did in the early Church, for people who were off-ship.


There were only a few mystics, it seems. Real Eucharistic mysticism. But maybe it was that way. We've individualized and interiorized our mysticism. But remember that the word mysticism, mystikos, mystos, refers to the mysteries. So it has a sacramental meaning to start with, and it gradually becomes individualized and interiorized. So the question opens up to a lot of profound things, that particular question. But a good theologian today would try to hold the two together as close as he could and say, even when you have a mystical experience, you were a sacramental being because you're a bodily being. You have all those three levels of being inside you, and therefore that mystical experience itself in some ways is a sacramental reality. And it also wouldn't absolutize the experience. Because see, the center of gravity and meaning is not in the experience itself. The experience points to something else, or is a sign of something else.


What's it a sign of? A sign of your divinization in some way, isn't it? It's also a process of divinization. Yeah. And it's a total union which includes your body. Yeah, actually, that's the kind of... That's where the battle lines were. About 30 years ago, in the 60s, the battle lines between the liturgical theologians and the mystical theologians. That's where the definition of sacrament breaks down for me, where it's so liturgical-based, it doesn't relate to the mystical encounter. Well, I think, given the fact that it is needed on both sides. On one side, the mystical encounter has to be brought back into the mysteries, back into the mystery of which it is a kind of glimpse or gleam or touch. And on the other side, the sacramental theology has to open up to those, those experiential depths and heights. And the Vagogenius is trying to do that.


When he talks about liturgy and St. Gertrude and mysticism, he's trying to pull it together. It's very hard to do in those states. He's talking about the liturgical-mystical experience of Gertrude. He's like Samson trying to pull it together. You know, the great gladiators in those days were Vagogenius and was it Maritime, I guess? Maritime on the mystical Carmelite side, Vagogenius on the liturgical Benedictine side. What's most important? Is it church and sacraments, or is it mystical experience and union? I've written down here from omnivorous church to church as a better life, in the sense that the church doesn't have to change, but brings the world inside itself by conversion. That is, the church is the perfect expression of Christ


in the world, so that other people only need to be converted to it and enter into it without the church itself changing, because it's already perfect, it's already the fulfillment. To the church in the world, expressing Christ to the world, but also somehow learning Christ from the world, but also somehow receiving and growing in the world, something like that. The second side doesn't crystallize very well. I kind of see it as like the chemical equation that goes both ways. Yeah. The double arrow. Exactly. But before, the arrow only went one way. And it's difficult to keep together the two ideas that the church really does contain the fullness of truth, the fullness of reality, the fullness of Christ. And yet there is still something that it must learn, must receive, must be attentive to,


which is vital. See, one side is the fact that the church contains the fullness, and the notion of sacrament does express that. But the other side is the principle of universal salvation, so that... So that into the world... Yeah. ...you can heal them all. Yes. Yes. And that... And that to the world. That world has its own rights in some way, okay? Not only the church has its rights, as it were, but the world has its rights. I think I just made a connection. I've been trying to figure it out, but that give and take between the world now,


it's almost... almost like a dialogue between the world and church. I'm just thinking of the... recently some of the Jews confronting the church about problems of Catholic complicity with Nazis during World War II and stuff, and that it's strangely helping both the world in a way and also helping the church, as it says here, that the church constantly needs to be refining itself and cleansing itself and trying to scrutinize itself and where it's going wrong. And a lot of times that best criticism comes from outside of it. And it's just a deeper image of how that back and forth can go, almost like two different... not like church and then outside of it, but almost like two different bodies bouncing off of each other or correcting each other


or something like that. There's a lot of that stuff in the Bible, like about two brothers, you know, that always you have A and you've got B. You've got the favorite son and then you've got the other son. You've got the insider and the outsider. And somehow they're necessary to one another. Like you've got Jacob and you've got Esau. You've got Isaac, you've got Ishmael. You've got the Jews and then you've got the Arabs. You've got the Jews and the Gentiles. And somehow, without the pair, history can't work. And they confront one another and they very carefully find every weak spot in the other. And so it is now in the church and the world. The church has been learning a lot from the world in recent centuries.


And one of the things, see, that the world comes back with is the human person. Because Christianity would defend itself by saying, well, Christianity is the revelation of the human person. The human person really is created anew in Jesus Christ. And I believe that's true. And the church is the expression of that. But then you look at the church very often and you find suppression of the person, kind of suffocation or containment or lack of trust in the human person and lack of trust in the Holy Spirit in the human person at the expense of organization, at the expense of domination, or one thing or another. So very easily the church forgets what it professes and really quenches the human person while claiming to liberate the human person. So what happens? So you get a modern secular society which becomes over-personalized, over-subjectivized and so on and throws all that back at the church, but also gives people opportunities for growth


in ways which challenge the church. Because I think what the modern Western world does largely is to open every possibility of freedom and development for the person that's conceivable. Although very few people get there, you can say. Whereas what the church did very often was to limit those possibilities and over-channel and subordinate person to institution. Whereas the challenge from the East is different. Like when you see the conflict between like American bishops in Rome sometimes or the tension between like the American side of Catholicism and the more juridical side of Catholicism. It's around those issues very often. Personal freedom, the individual, those things. And it's a lesson, there's a dialogue


that has to go both ways there so that the tradition of the church can listen to that revelation of the human person which is back in our time. The church knows very well about the human person as a spiritual entity that can teach the church that, that can teach the world that whole thing. But as far as the person developing in this world, it's something else. Okay, does the term dialogue with the world seem to be a new language in the church? How would the relationship have been expressed in 1898? It would have been radically different. Thank you. One expression might have been that the church represents the kingdom of God in this world. It offers the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Christ to every human being.


They will believe it and submit to it. But that step of maturity and being able to respect the other, because it's like a psychological thing happening here as well as a theological dimension. Just moving to a kind of adulthood in which the other has a right to be. The church and the world are like the two brothers. Sometimes the church is the king and the other is the evil. And sometimes the opposite. What's meant by the credibility gap between sign and reality? Well, that's obvious enough for me. It's hard to read this kind of theology


about the body of Christ and the Spirit because it's not sharp conceptual thinking. It's a kind of... I always wondered how to grip it. But after a while you can kind of feel it. Yeah. One of the things is that in a sense with the institution, individual humility... Sometimes I think the credibility gap is enormous in my own life between sign and reality, between saying words versus living the life. Or reading words, thinking about them, and then living the life. But as huge as it is in me, it's almost going to be a permanent aspect also with the church, just because it's an institution.


It's almost somewhat different than spirit. But at the same time, you know it's worth the battle to try to lessen the credibility gap and make sign and reality merge. Yeah, it's like the credibility gap is an expression of the gap of incarnation, of divinity becoming human. Because that sign is a sign of divinity, of divine humanity. So often the weight of the human, the inertia or the stubbornness of the human, can almost totally obliterate that sign. The sign has an absolute quality to it. We're far from that. Monastic community, I think it's accented in the monastic community because monastic community stands out like a sign within a sign, doesn't it? And it can't seem to stand out like a sign


above a sign or something like that with regard to the church. So people really expect perfection, they expect a concentration, they expect a spiritual essence in some way from a monastery. Which is an awful thing, an awful burden for monks to have to carry. Because if they were totally, let's say, compulsive about it, they could be unable to be human beings at all. Trying so hard to carry the burden of the sign, being a perfect sign. So they have to interpret the sign in another way. That's what you'll hear from Fr. Matthew very often talking about brokenness as being also a sign. Trying to get out from under the burden of that exaggerated idealism. Yeah, yeah. Just in the last couple of days there have been some very powerful things I've told Isaac pretty briefly about. They had nothing to do with spiritual conversation or anything like that. I'll have to also tell you,


there's kind of a long story about just the human contact. It seems like, at least in Moses, the credibility gap disappeared not into a spiritual building, but into just a human building. And then there is spiritual meaning in there too. Sooner or later that gap between the spiritual and the human has to disappear, doesn't it? So that what is human is spiritual. Sooner or later that has to happen. Meanwhile, we need this distinction. That's the meaning of incarnation, I think. Ultimately, the human is the spiritual. There's quite no seam between the two. That the spiritual would be in every part of the human life and the human encounter. We need a division between the sacred and the secular. That's what Jesus is doing in the Testament, it seems to me. When he heals on the Sabbath, it's like the human are plumping it down in the middle of the sacred, and saying, this is the sacred. Or, this is more sacred than the sacred.


That's the way. That's quite exciting. It's a continual urge to a kind of liberation. It's demanding, but it's a liberation at the same time. Probably we have time for this. Is there time? A minute after, then. How do you get that way of life going, where you're living life without having to make constant reference to the spiritual, because the spiritual is already combined in your life with the living? It would be parallel to learning the music, so you don't need to score any longer. There are many other things of that kind. What was previously required an external help now becomes spontaneous and one with yourself, so that you're living from it, interiorly.


Which is ultimately what Paul is talking about when he talks about moving from law to spirit, from the external to the internal. Which ultimately, if you carry that revolution all the way, it does abolish the difference between the sacred and the secular. There was a law in it. There was a wall between the Jews and the Gentiles. There was also the wall between the sacred and the secular. Like the law of cleanness and uncleanness, and this and that. Jesus just chucks all of that. So when that spirit comes into the center of your own physical being, that means that radically the difference between sacred and secular has been abolished. Holy Spirit, Sacred Spirit, Divine Spirit, Divinity, God, at the core of your own bodily being. So radically it's been done, but the working out of it is for ourselves to tune ourselves to that interior divinity, so that every part of our self responds to the music, flows with the music. It takes a little while.


Okay, we didn't cover a whole bunch of pages this time. Maybe we can wind this up next time and go on to Chapter 3. Also, I'd invite you to bring any other questions or concerns or whatever. We're covering a lot of material which wouldn't seem to belong to the monastic issue. It really does. But I don't know when you'll have it all treated in a systematic way. It would probably be good if we had a class just on the documents of Vatican II at some point. Good stuff in there. Yeah. It's real relevant. It's hard to read because it's so concentrated, it's so packed. It's hard to get the key points around whichever you want to take. It's weird, it's almost like someone's just been thinking about this stuff too. It's almost like Vatican II is wanting, especially the Lumen Gentium, wanting, and there are a lot of Lumen Gentium quotes here, wanting to get you to look to the world,


but still do it in a way that the Church is kind of orchestrating it so that it's giving you much more tethering, even allowing you to take off the tether, but for certain periods of time only, then you have to come back and kind of... No, it's true. We haven't completely got the hang of it yet. The only people who have the hang of it, I suppose, are the saints. But then the saints turn out to be human beings. That saint turns out to be everybody in some way who doesn't... the tether isn't there anymore. Yeah, that's what Paul was talking about when he talks about the Spirit, the freedom of the Spirit. The best thing is to love and do what you want to, and so on. Amen. Okay. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,


world without end. Amen.