February 12th, 1982, Serial No. 01008

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Monastic Spirituality, Set 6 of 12

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And I'll review a little bit and go back and make a little context, a little framework for continuing in the discourse itself, because in the business of the fear of God, we have problems with it. We could talk about the problem in this way, just briefly. There is a historical problem because this whole approach, leaning very heavily on the fear of God, just doesn't seem somehow appropriate to us. We're in another age, and it's not the way that we approach God, and it's not the way that God seems to attract us, in general. Now, this has to be modified, because we have different stages in our life, and sometimes it will be precisely that. We have to remember when we talk about the fear of God, we're talking about different things really. We're talking about using one word for a number of different things, and a word which may have a very narrow and precise significance, or may have a very broad significance, or a kind of transferred significance. Also, as there's been a change in history, there's also a change in our own development,


in our own experience. So as all of the Fathers say, you start out with one kind of fear, and you end up with another kind of fear. There's a continuity between the two, something like the continuity between faith and vision, or between faith and love. And so, there's something in the initial fear which remains in the ultimate fear, so you can use the same word for both of them, but yet they're sharply different things. There's a common being in the two, a common thread in the two, but they're sharply different things. In fact, they almost seem... well, not to the opposite extent. Let's look at it this way for a second. You can consider that the problem of the subject of the fear of God is the problem of fear versus love, love being the Christian commandment, of course. The commandment is not a commandment of fear. The Old Testament commandment sounded a little more like that than other commandments of the Decalogue, thou shalt not. But the New Testament commandment is not a thou shalt not, it's a thou shalt.


And thou shalt really is the one act of your whole being, which is love, which gathers everything into itself. So we can say, well, what has fear got to do with that? What is this expression of fear of God? And our spirituality, which is sort of centered on that, what's it got to do with that? And then we can consider the problem of fear versus freedom, fear versus liberty. Now, this is not so much the theological angle, but the psychological angle, coming from today, in that fear seems to shrink our souls and our hearts, our very personality, and keep us from being ourselves. Now, I say that that's the psychological angle. That's what somebody like Maslow would have to say, that if you don't get over your anxiety, you can't be yourself. And there are two different worlds, as it were, of performing, two different worlds of operating. One is doing things out of anxiety, what they call survival motivation, or fear motivation, or need motivation, or something like that. And the other is out of freedom, or creativity, or spontaneity, or growth, or maybe something


that comes from beyond you and moves you from within. But when we say that that fear of freedom problem, or dualism, is a thing of contemporary psychology, you've got to remember where contemporary psychology, really, what's most valuable in it is grounded in the Christian revelations. It is the revelation of the person. If it weren't for that revelation of the person, our modern day science of man would be a much different thing, a much poorer thing. It would lack a core. I'm talking about the best human beings that can do that, which somehow reaches towards the person, rather than just considering how to bundle reflexes, or passions, instincts, or behaviorism, or something like that. Okay, if you look back in the New Testament, I just stumbled on this this morning, and there's an article on this in the Dictionary of the Spiritual, I'll tell you. It gets to this, and there's a treating of the fear of God in the Bible. In the New Testament itself, you find these two dualisms.


In St. Paul, you find the dualism of fear versus freedom. Remember? In the letter to the Galatians, and in the letter to the Romans. As if the law of the Old Testament meant nothing but fear. In the revelation of Jesus, the revelation of the Spirit, the resurrection, grace, means nothing but freedom. As if the two are incompatible. Okay? And yet, remember that in another moment, you can find St. Paul saying, Work out your salvation of fear and trembling. And then in St. John, what do you find? John doesn't talk directly about freedom very much. He doesn't use that word anything. Yes, he does. He uses it somewhere. He says, If you continue in my word and become my disciples, you'll know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. So he does use it, but it's not one of his principal words, like it is for Paul. But what does he, set side by side, oppose? Fear and love. Fear and love. So those two are already in the New Testament. And obviously, there's something there when we talk about this fear. It's not just a question of throwing over the fathers and saying that they were mistaken.


It's pretty obvious that they were mistaken. At the same time, a different point of view is justified. We have to go through this thing every time we talk about one of these subjects and the fathers. After we get through with Dorotheus, we can go back and look at it. Remember the kinds of fear Dorotheus has already given us. And they all do this, including St. Augustine's, including Ruskin's. The servile fear, the fear of punishment, and the fear of losing, slipping away from the good which has been given. And already here, we sort of feel the key to the problem, or the problem of fear. What is it? We've got two levels of being. One is a selfish level of being, on which we're motivated only by selfish impulses, whether it be the impulse of desire or the impulse of fear. And insofar as we're stuck on things or that desire, we haven't got anything better to fight against that desire but fear. Insofar as we have some passion. Let's say we have some addiction. How are you going to break an addiction?


Are you going to do it with the love of God? Or maybe if you get a special grace. What's going to break the addiction? Nothing but an effort of will, which is over there in the fear area somewhere. Or how does the alcoholic finally get out of his thing when he hits pot? They tell him, you're going to die if you keep this up. This is terminal. This is going to kill you. That's how the alcoholic breaks out of his addiction. Now the same thing is true on a lesser scale. For every strong attachment, every passion that we have, for everything that binds us, for everything that enslaves us. It's as if the only thing that makes that reversal, that turns us around at that point when we're captured, is that kind of harshness, that kind of fear. Okay, now that's very crude and not at all adequate to the case, but I'm just trying to put the principle in there because I think that's what it's about. And then as we move from one level of being to another, as we move from that selfish level of being to the true self, as we call it, or to the center, or to the core, or to the


Christ self, or to the new man, or into the heart, if you want to put it that way. The deep self. The spiritual self. Our motivation changes. The quality of the motivation changes. And so we move from that motivation of fear, which we instinctively dislike. We don't like this thing at all. And yet in some way we need it and we know it, but we don't know what to do with it. It's not adequate. We know it's not on the level of our better self. It's not on the level of the person, but neither are we. Okay? And that's the secret. It's not on the level of our true being and we know it, but we're not there either. And that's why we have to have anything to do with it. Okay? When we get to that other level, then it can be a matter of love. Then it can be a matter of spontaneity. Okay, now this does not justify, however, an education that starts simply with fear. Somehow we can never talk about fear just nakedly and by itself. Every time we do that, it's like the business of our constitutions and trying to talk about asceticism in Scheme 7. Whenever we talk about fear nakedly, we know we're wrong, because we know we can't talk


about fear that way. Not anymore. We know better. Don't we? We know that fear itself even somehow has to be encompassed within the knowledge of love. It has to be encompassed within the awareness of the truth, which is the knowledge of God. We can't talk about fear as if it was all alone. We can only talk about fear as being a kind of component inside of love, or a component inside of faith or of hope, or of our knowledge of God. Okay? So whenever we talk about it by itself, we're talking about truth. We're isolating something that can't be isolated. Because where we are and as we are, fear cannot be simply by itself. It must always be integrated. And even when we talk about it, even when we use the word, we have to mean something more than fear. Because we're not animals. And God is always with us. Grace is always around us, even when we're thinking about these things. And grace is around us even when that motive of fear is paramount in us, in order to detach us from something. We're stuck on whatever the reason.


Okay? This shape that you have in the scriptures, though, and the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament, it's fascinating, really, in the way that it sort of conforms to the fear thing, the fear-love movement, and to the fear-freedom movement. Because it's true, it's there. Even though we can say, well, you know, there's already the lesson of the love of God in the Old Testament, certainly there was. But there's a shape, and you can see it. I'm not perfect, but you can see it. Just as we can see it in our own lives, as we look back, that in the beginning there may be a very strong impulse of love of God, but then afterwards, when we find out we can't hold on to that, when we find out we can't hold on to what God has given us because we're too sinful, we're too leaky, then the other thing has to come in. Then that walk through the desert. Now, the trip through the desert, there's a lot of fear there, you know? And it's not even maybe directly the fear of God. Just fear, just anxiety, just dread, just a motivation which is not entirely a positive


motivation. It's like naked faith without the fullness and the delight of love, without the presence. Well, the presence is sensed in a way which is seemingly negative, which is seemingly unpleasant. Like John of the Cross talks about, you know, the flame licking at the log which is still full of thorn and moisture, that kind of thing. Fear is something with which we relate to that which is other than ourselves. But when we find out that God is not really separate outside, and sometimes it appears in the Old Testament, the Old Testament literature, but really in us and one with us, then it gives way to that other kind of motivation. And this is the same movement that we're talking about as we move down from that shallow self to the deep one. You've got different types of people. Another thing we have to get, this Paul Ternady, the fellow who wrote The Strong and the Weak


and Guilt and Grace, he's always talking about the different kinds of people and how the word that's just right for one person is just wrong for the other person. There are some people, they've got plenty of fear already, they don't need any more. So when they start hearing these heavy mental readings that will be coming up pretty soon, they just drive them further and further into gloom. They've already got all they can handle. And somehow, that doesn't move them from the fear which enslaves to the fear which liberates. There is a fear which liberates, paradoxically. What would be a fear that liberates? Even in our own experience now, there's a fear that liberates. If we're preoccupied with very small things and all of a sudden our life is in danger, all of a sudden we come very near to getting hurt or getting killed, it can jar us into an awakening which really liberates us from all of the things that had bound our consciousness and tied us down and kept us in a very small world as long as we were traveling smoothly and getting further and further, as it were, into Egypt, further and further enslaved in little things because nothing waked us up, nothing awakened us. And then suddenly we were scared and all those things drop away and when the fright is gone,


we're still awake. That kind of liberating fear which brings us to consciousness. Now that's what this fear thing is about. Okay, but there are different kinds of people then. Tournier's strong people are the people who really need the fear motive in a way. In other words, they're traveling under their own steam. They're confident in their own powers. They have what Dorotheus would call parousia. So something needs to shake them. They're like the scribes and Pharisees in the Gospel. And Jesus uses fear language on those scribes. So does John the Baptist. Remember he says, you generation of brood of vipers, who told you to come out here into the desert? He says, you're full of wickedness. And the axe is going to be laid to the root of the trees. But there are other people to whom that language is inappropriate. Therefore, it's not used. It shouldn't be used. Those people ought to be careful when they're reading the Gospel. Because what they need is the words of hope. Like Jesus with the autobious woman. He doesn't say, well, you did it, you know. What have you got to say for yourself? He just says, there's nobody that kills you.


And in those words, there's a liberation. In those words, there's like a breath and a life. And he says, go and sin no more. You're free. That's all that you can take at that moment. But it's as if the writing that he did on the ground was the other word to those old people that walk away. The ones that are going to throw the stone. That writing, somehow, threw the fear of God into them, throwing the stones. The two sides of our own nature. It's as if our nature has a soft side and a hard side. The contrapissible side and the irascible side, as they say. The love or affective side and the anger side. And it's as if, at a certain point, those two sides are divided. So that we're greedy and full of desire and we go after things passionately. And then, in some way, the fear thing, the anger thing, the other side of our nature, also comes up in a kind of naked way. In a kind of isolated way. And we go back and forth between those two. And that's on the level of fear. And then gradually, as we go along, those two are supposed to get integrated in some way.


So that instead of moving between desire and fear, like an animal, you know? Like an animal. Instead of moving between desire and fear, they begin to be one in a kind of strong love. Which contains all of the value of the fear inside itself. Because a strong love is a hatred for human. It's a hatred for sin. It's a hatred for that which would destroy life. But at the same time, it's able to be tender. It's a little like this. It's the difference between Saul and David in the Old Testament. The fear of God is the awareness of God. It's awakening. And therefore, the fear of God really is the door to the presence of God. And that's the way that Saint Benedict talks about it in his book. Even though his language is fear language too. We have to translate it to make it intelligible to us. And it's a motivation to turn, to conversion. Lonergan would talk about it in terms of a conversion and a horizon change.


Moving from a small world, a small horizon, into a bigger one. And it starts out with fear. There's always fear around when we have to move into a bigger world. When our little world is challenged. When something wraps on the shell of our little world. And we're not sure yet whether that's death or life that's wrapping on the shell. We're afraid to let go of that shell. Fear is always there, no matter what the invitation. We can think of some examples of Christianity without the fear of God. I think there are plenty of contemporary examples because the fear of God is not very popular nowadays. Not only the expression, but the reality of it. And because we're in this violent swing back from an exaggeration of fear. The whole Jansenistic strain, which was in Catholicism right up until before Vatican II. Jansenism was a real Christianity of fear. So much so that it was a heresy, actually. It was an exaggeration of St. Augustine's doctrine.


And we've swung back so far that it's hard to find much of the fear of God anymore, except early in the morning when the old ladies are in church. Maybe during the day it tends to work. I'm just joking. If you try to think about theologies of spiritualities, which are Christianities without the fear of God, in a place like Berkeley there's a lot of that, you see. Because there's a kind of verbal theology, there's a kind of intellectual theology, detached from the heart, detached largely, often, from the sense of the presence of God. Any theology which becomes too exclusively verbal, rational, and cerebral, and too human, detached from the real sense of experience of God, and presence of God, and from the living Word of God, the Word of God which is also able to sort of challenge us, any theology which moves in that direction is moving away from the sense of the fear of God. And so it can get into a thing, after a while, in a theology or a liturgy,


after a while you can wonder, does God have anything to do with this, or is it just these people doing this thing? That kind of thing. There are liturgies like that, where you wonder, are these people making it up? Did they make this up today, or does this have something to do with the Catholic religion? That kind of thing. And similarly, theologies, which become detached, actually, from God's revelation. In spiritualities, there's this book, The Course in Miracles, which is an admirable thing. Actually, it's a therapy thing, it's a healing thing. And it's supposed to have been a series of revelations that were given to her, a psychologist actually, I think her name is written down. It's wonderful stuff, and it's a very positive, it calls itself Christianity too, and it is, you know, it's about 50% of Christianity, the positive side. But what happens when you take the positive side and you don't have the negative side, as we used to call it? There's a kind of a danger. There's a kind of a danger of a summer without any spring, without any winter. It's hard to put your finger on exactly what's wrong with it,


except it can eventually turn into a human thing without God being anywhere near it. Simply because there's a law that we can't relate to God in that way, we can't take him for granted. We can't take him for granted. There's no such thing as a kind of gift of God which you can take and carry off with yourself without thinking about God anymore. The trouble with this Course in Miracles, I think, is that the gift of God's forgiveness is taken in that way. If you take it, God has forgiven us all, and sort of, here it is in this package, and you carry it off with you, and to a certain degree you can forget about God, or at least you can forget about his claims on you. It's not a personal relationship with him so much as a gift which is in you, and which now is able, you know, just to flow out in an abundant way. And so, that's the, it's a very subtle thing. Subtle and easy to miss, because what we need is that positive in our lives. But somewhere down in the back, down in the heart, there has to be that fear of God. Otherwise the thing is detached from God. Otherwise it's not his anymore, it's ours. And we can, you know, do what we want with it, but it's eventually going to deflate,


because it's not his, it's ours. There are a lot of those things around today, I think. Part of the Christian thing is we should sort of let go of that dimension. The dimension of... Also, the Word of God simply lays a claim on us. The Word of God says, where are you? It says, I am the Lord, and here I am. Are you going to listen to me or not? And they turn it into some kind of a trick. Positive Christianity. See how subtle that is? Because positive, of course Christianity is positive, nothing but. But there's something else there, isn't there? There's something else. There's this knowledge of where we end. There's this knowledge of our finiteness, of our limitations. There's this knowledge of our death, okay? And these things are fine if they can handle death. You know, any of these, the real test for any of these theologies


or these spiritualities or these healing things is, fine, okay, you can buy that, if it can deal with death. I mean, really, in the pinch. And not just, you know, have some nice drink, you know. Then, okay. Because that's where we know who we are. Otherwise, today, everything can become easy. Everything can become easy today, because you can learn to do anything. You can buy anything. There's a way to get anything done, except being beyond death. Let's go back to Dorotheus. We had got as far as page 114, where he starts talking about the self-indulgence. Now, I wanted to give some attention to this, because it's, actually, it's the opposite of the fear of God. The opposite of the fear of God, and so we ought to get pretty well acquainted with it. On the bottom of 113, he's been talking about the ways


in which we acquire the fear of God, okay? Keeping the thought of death before our mind. See that connection of the two. Remembering eternal punishment, examining ourselves each week. It's about remembrance, you know. Never giving free rein to his tongue, keeping in close and continual touch with a man possessed of the fear of God. This is a good little compendium here. And then he quotes one of the parts. We chase away from us the fear of the Lord by the fact that we do just the opposite. We do not keep before us the thought, so it's a kind of forgetfulness, a kind of neglect. And that's the language that he's going to get into now. We don't keep before us those things, nor do we attend to our own condition, or examine how we spend our time. We forget, you know, we just, we get neglectful. And so he brings in this word. Now, the translation gets very bad at this point, and I didn't know that this translation was so full of holes until we got to this point, and then checked it with the original. We're on the bottom of page 113. Now, where he says, we don't attend to our own condition


or examine how we spend our time. We live differently. That's what we live indifferently. Live indifferently. You can make a correction on that. I forgot one of those cloth boundaries. I don't know. And he says we're occupied with different things. What it means is we live indifferently and we go around with indifferent people. We live carelessly and we associate with careless people. I hope that the rest of the translation is not on the same level. And then that word which he calls self-indulgence is really parousia. Parousia. P-A-R-O-U-S-I-A. He's got that in that note. I think it's number 18. Now, that's important because self-indulgence is not a word which means the same thing as parousia. Not obviously. Not immediately. And so we have to go into that word a bit. It's a biblical word already. But before it's biblical, it comes from Greek life. Okay, so parousia. I didn't look it up in great detail as far as the Greek usage is concerned. In general, it meant the freedom of the citizen


in the Greek city-state. So parousia would be the sort of confidence you had as a full member of the Republic in the city. And everybody wasn't a citizen. There were slaves around. There were people in an inferior status around. So remember how important it is for Paul to be a Roman citizen at a certain point? It's that sense of, in the city, if you're a citizen, you're an insider, you're really somebody. And one of the things is that you can speak in the assembly, probably. You can speak with parousia. You can speak with confidence. It's like in court. You can't really do that. You have to have a lawyer to speak for you. But in the city, in the Greek city, if you're a citizen, you can speak with parousia. Now, if you look it up in the scriptures, there's some pretty interesting usages there. And I'd like to mention a few of them. This is not only... See, these are all positive uses of parousia, practically. And he's using it in a negative sense. But this is useful for other reasons. You'll find this one later on in the New Testament.


Here's one case. In Mark 8.32, pretty close to where we are. We're going to run into this in a couple of days in the Gospels of the Mass. And Jesus began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things. And so on. And he said this plainly in parousia, he said this. OK, to say something openly. Then, in John 16.25, I have said this to you in figures. He's spoken to them in parables. He's spoken also to them in words. The hour is coming when I shall no longer speak to you in figures, but tell you plainly of the Father. I shall speak to you in parousia. It's just the adverb is used there. Parousia of the Father. Now this is a very mysterious expression here because he's been talking to them sometimes in plain words and he's going to speak to them more plainly than that. OK, so this parousia


somehow is an immediate openness, channel, relationship, communication with God and the Father. Jesus is going away, leaving home for that. Then in Acts in Acts 2.29 2.29 is not so important. 4.13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, when they saw the parousia of Peter and John, this is after they've healed the fellow, I think at the synagogue or at the temple, remember? And they've thrown him in jail and they come out and they say, well, is it good for us to obey God? Amen. When they had seen the parousia of Peter and John and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they wondered, how can they speak this way when they don't have any education? How can they speak with this confidence? So it's got something to do with that notion of the citizen and that notion of the educated person who can speak well and so on, the whole deal. But also this confidence


is a gift of the Holy Spirit. This parousia comes from the Spirit. It's not listed among Paul's fruits of the Spirit but it's one of them. And it's one that he's conspicuous in, actually, this parousia, his boldness. Usually he uses another word for that, that boldness, that's caucus style rather than parousia thing. It's the same thing. Well, it's a personality thing with him too. So then we get to Paul, actually, himself. First another passage, this is in 429, where they're praying to God in the middle of this persecution in Acts. And they said, Now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness, to speak your word with all parousia. This parousia accompanies the word of God. It's like the force of the Spirit that accompanies the word of God and makes it be spoken with confidence, no matter who's speaking it. And then the whole place shakes. And they were all filled


with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness, with parousia. That's in Acts 4, right at the beginning, soon after Pentecost. Now St. Paul, at the very end of the Acts of the Apostles, he remained in Rome for, I think it was two years, teaching the things about the Lord with parousia, with all parousia, with all freedom he's there, external freedom, but also it means his sort of confidence, his freedom of preaching. Then there's 2 Corinthians 3, where he says, we have much parousia, much confidence. Remember we talked about the Jews having a veil over their hearts when they read the Gospel? And if you look into what that word means in that place, you really get into something, you really dig something up. Because he's saying they have a veil over their hearts when they read the Scriptures of the Old Testament because the inner meaning, Christ, and the glory of God in Christ is not revealed to them. But we've taken the veil off.


Then with unveiled faces we look, he says. With unveiled faces we look, and then he talks about what's happened in his heart, and this shining of the light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus in his heart. And with unveiled face we look at that, and we're transformed from image to image. So that's where you find the richest significance of this parousia in the New Testament. And then in one John it's something else. It's that we pray to the Father with parousia. So parousia is a gift of openness to God in some way. It's part of the gift of the Holy Spirit which makes us able to pray to the Father with confidence. Like with the prayer of the Our Father and there's a prayer of parousia. And it's exemplified first of all by Jesus' attitude to the Father, using the word Abba. Abba. And that is the most familiar. Okay. Let me let me see the place.


That's in 2 Corinthians 3, isn't it? 2 Corinthians 3. The only place that parousia is there is in 3 12. Since we have such a hope we are very bold, not like Moses who put a veil over his face, okay? Yeah. But that same meaning of the unveiled face carries on. So the significance of the same word parousia carries on into the other passage. See parousia means not to have a veil over your face at that point, okay? This is the boldness that we've been given. And then it goes on. We all with unveiled face, that is, he could have said, with parousia. It's the same thing, you see? Beholding the glory of the Lord or being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to the other. So that parousia, actually, is being able to look face to face at God or face to face at the image of God, which is Jesus. Ultimately it comes from there. But then see how the parousia from being between man and God, through this revelation of God, transfers


and accompanies one's relations with other people. Especially in speaking the word of God but also in other ways. So it becomes a quality of the person after having been just a quality of his relationship with God. And it belongs to the word to speak with parousia. It's used several times in 1 John, in the 2nd chapter, the 3rd, the 4th, and also the 5th. This is the parousia, the confidence that we have towards him, towards the Father that he hears us when we pray to him and we ask him. And so that when he appears we may have parousia and we may have confidence before him when he appears. It's like the follow through of that which we got in St. Paul in a certain context. The first vision and the final vision we still have that confidence. And similarly, John says the same thing about being transformed from number. We don't know what we will be


we're already children of God we know we'll be like him when we die because we see him as he is. That whole thing is in the context of parousia even though the word doesn't always appear. It's that reality. Okay, that's the positive meaning. So you see it has a very rich positive significance in the New Testament and it's a gift it's something that accompanies the revelation of Christ. See this parousia is like the free exposure of the glory of God on the face of Jesus which then passes over to those who represent him passes over to those who believe. Remember what Jesus says in John 17 the glory that you've given to me I've given to them. And then you see Peter remember Stephen who speaks with such boldness and then they kill him and his face shone like the face of an angel that's that parousia. The heavens were open and he sees the glorified Jesus on the right hand of God. The same idea, the open channel between God and man and the glory somehow being radiated to the person who speaks the word of God


the person who is witnessing to him and puts him in the same place as Christ and then this passes on to Peter and Pentecost and to Paul and so on. It's the thing that has to do with the resurrection of Jesus and the glorification of the word incarnate somehow. Paul could have very easily included him on the first of his parables. Okay, that's the positive sense. Now the negative sense is something else. If you read the Fathers you'll find that it's condemned as the worst of all monastic ills in a sense. It's like the external manifestation of the internal vice which is pride. It's the behavioral expression of pride for the Fathers. And it starts out as a kind of neglect. Where was it? Climacus in his 27th step on solitude talks about it as the most abominable of things. They usually talk about it as the mother of the vices. A whole bunch of candidates for that title


the mother of the vices. One of the leaders. It means forgetfulness and it means a kind of willfulness so we begin to do our own will. It's this point where we turn away from listening and we begin to do what we darn please. Right at that point there. But it's manifested in the external behavior. The most copious treatment of this I've found without even using the word is in St. Bernard The Steps of Pride The Steps of Pride and Humility It's in this Cistercian Fathers series number 13 and I've read this to some of you before it's kind of funny stuff because it's a little dangerous too because sooner or later we start pinning it on one of our brothers not often enough on ourselves Now St. Bernard is making a scale of 12 degrees of the ladder of pride remember which is the inverse of the 12 degrees of humility in the 7th chapter of St. Bernard's Rule


so it's an inverse so the 12th degree of humility gives rise to the first degree of pride as you move down by abandoning as it were these elements it's a very artificial thing from that point of view from another point of view it's very true and the general movement is true so as you abandon the 12th degree of humility which would be what? custody of the eyes remember the monk always has his eyes cast down and he's always thinking about the judgment and so on so for St. Bernard the first degree of pride is to abandon that and he calls it strangely curiosity it really surprises curiosity he says that's how you get into trouble first of all and what it is for him really is a forgetfulness of that interior recollection forgetfulness of the interior presence of God and so we liberate our attention and turn it outside it's like not choosing to remember God and therefore forgetting and turning outside and of course if you go back you can find all kinds of things on that including Eve's sin and they always talk about


that lady who got into trouble by not staying at home because of Dinah, one of the daughters of Jacob I guess in Genesis and they started all kinds of things and so on you find a bunch of biblical more or less allegorical supports but not minding one's own business or just letting one's attention be drawn outside away from interiority and here he even accuses Satan of this he says this is how Satan fell by some kind of curiosity he has a long digression on this he looked into God's mysteries in some way I didn't even read the whole thing to find out it's in page page 59 the bottom of the next of the next five pages that's how Eve got into trouble you see


Dinah was the lady Dinah, Eve and Satan himself Dinah was leading her goats to pasture when she was snatched away from her father in the spoil of her virginity and he goes on he approaches her what about you Eve you were in paradise charged along with your husband to tend to them carefully why did you want the fruit that tasted evil why did she get curious about that treat and then Satan himself he quotes this parable I wonder if we have an instance of the common proverb familiarity breeds contempt he puts Satan among the highest of the seraphs right in the presence of the Lord and the seraphs are the people who are supposed to keep others from peeking in carelessly Satan yeah, yeah


remember and Satan's problem is his fault is that he doesn't have any fear he thinks he's he's invulnerable and he keeps reproaching her pages and pages I'll just read the end of it and then he says oh I got distracted how did I get on here how did we get into this matter of revelations while we were talking of curiosity he says I wandered off onto this biped when I was trying to show that the reprobate angel could have foreseen the dominion he was later to have over fallen men and still not foresee his own damnation I don't understand in the meantime we've opened up a good many minor questions and have not answered them however the sum total is he fell from truth by curiosity when he turned his attention to something he covered it unlawfully and had the presumption to believe he could gain curiosity was the beginning of all sin and so was rightly considered the first step of pride unless it is checked promptly


it leads to the second step of levity and then he goes right down the ladder he quotes that no it's at the end that he quotes that familiarity breeds contempt see this thing of parousia it's often defined as familiarity in the new testament it's defined as confidence or openness or boldness but in the negative sense it's defined as familiarity and where it terminates ultimately is in contempt and so that's the direction that Bernard is going as he goes down this ladder of pride the second step is levity of mind the third step is giddiness the fourth step is boasting and here the parousia the confidence thing over self confidence becomes obvious because the person is just bursting with his own importance boasting for him is not exactly bragging explicitly but saying things with this kind of display in which we expect people to be impressed and we expect to get some kind of


flattering feedback on it we expect them to understand how important we are even if we don't say it he will give a long discourse on patience and humility in each of the other virtues all words, all bragging he trusts that you will draw the conclusion out of the abundance of the heart the mind speaks it's very funny sometimes and singularity and self conceit which is another place where the parousia thing comes out see it turns out that this whole thing is about that self confidence about that forgetfulness of God in which our own the sort of mushroom, the fungus of our own self importance is allowed to grow in this darkness of the forgetfulness of God so it gradually becomes bigger and bigger until it's the strongest thing in us and even we can be suspicious about that first step there as to whether, my gosh, curiosity but what does he mean? he means a kind of forgetfulness of God which is the first falling from the monastic


mind the monastic consciousness the first danger of course the trouble is that if we get to feeling that we've got to exert willpower in order never for a moment not to be thinking explicitly about God that's no good either, is it? in other words, there's a point where faith and trust in God has to operate it's not just a matter of tightening up our instrument more rigor the sixth step, self-conceit he swallows all the praise others give him he's quite complacent about his conduct he never examines his motive he's got confidence, a complacency no need, no bother, no sweat, no problem we've got a whole vocabulary of expressions nowadays that kind of forgetfulness is that taking his presence for granted? yeah, I think so he's taking his presence for granted which means that we don't really sense his presence anymore you know to take it for granted is not to know it anymore


it's not to have it anymore because his presence is always an experience it's always something new it's always fresh and so if we take it for granted it means we've stopped it's like saying, well I've already heard so I don't have to listen anymore if we take his presence for granted it means we're out of his presence in some way which means that we can't hear him anymore which means that this kind of danger is over the seventh step, presumption similarly obvious, obviously confidence when a man thinks he's better than others will he not put himself before others he must have the first place in gatherings be the first to speak in council he comes without being called he interferes without being asked he must rearrange everything redo whatever has been done whatever he himself did not do or arrange is not rightly done or properly arranged he is the judge of all judges and decides every case before him and he goes on eighth step, self-justification


ninth step, critical confession tenth step, revolt where he really rebels against obedience and then the last two steps are outside the monastery you see the poor guy he's been handed back his clothes he's not slouching, he's sauntering he's not bent over nothing he's wiping off freedom to sin is the eleventh state but the twelfth state the twelfth step, the habit of sinning how this whole track is a track of parricide a track of confidence the first steps in sin are taken apprehensively and no blow falls from the judgment of God in which God doesn't seem to react pleasure in sin has been experienced sin is repeated and the pleasure grows all desire is revived, conscience is dulled habit tightens its grasp the unfortunate man he's a real master of this kind of literature the unfortunate man sinks into the evil depths


he's tangled in his vices and he's swept into you can see his monks freezing with terror and he's swept into the whirlpool of sinful longings while his reason and the fear of God are forgotten and the fool says in his heart there is no God the point is that he's free and he was free in the next to last step and in the last step he's not only free he's forgetful he's forgetful that there's anything else he's totally free, even in his consciousness not only in his action the just man who has climbed all the steps of humility runs on to life with a ready heart and with the ease of a good habit the evil man who has dropped down to the bottom is ruled by evil habit and unchecked by fear he runs boldly on to death runs boldly that boldly could be parousia there you see the two kinds of parousia the parousia which is at the start of the revelation of God the experience of God and at the top of the ladder of seeking God and the other


which is at the other end of the ladder but there isn't anything holding you so both of these are freedom both of these are confidence but one is to be free in God the other is to be free from God well he means external self-justification of a certain kind and there's a little bit of arbitrariness just like there is with St. Benedict's twelve steges of humility yeah they're not just linear the ones at the end are linear this one here that belongs at the end but other ones in the middle you could exchange them you could change the relation those in mid-course whether going up or down are weary with the strain torn now by the fear of hell and now by the attraction of old habits only at the top and at the bottom is there a free and effortless course upward to life or downward to death that's right on right on in a way and it's got a real truth about it even though there are plenty of exceptions remember that saying


about the Jew the Jew is not really a good sinner because he could never be completely at ease in sinning why? because the fear of God is always somewhere in his heart a Jew can never really be a top-notch sinner a really good read a pro, a major league sinner I don't know that's the reason why because God has spoken to him he knows God and he can't be as free as the person who has never known God but you know for that reason sometimes people who have known God can turn into the most perverse because why? because they're fighting they're fighting that voice of God only at the top and at the bottom is there a free and effortless course upward to life or downward to death bounding on in the effortless energy of love or hurried unresistingly by the downward


pull of people in one case love and the other apathy it's that indifference that we saw in Dorotheus ignores the labor of life see the labor is in between where you've got the tension where you've got the pull between the flesh and the spirit as long as you're in that combat you're still not lost as long as there's some fight there, some tension you're not finished yet but look out at the tension that really unites us perfect love will complete malice cast off fear so he completes the words of God security is found in truth or in blindness so we can call the twelfth step the habit of sinning by which the fear of God has been lost replaced by content content is the opposite of the fear of God now do you remember how the fear of God had an expression on the level of fraternal relations, right? It was respect for your brothers the fear of God actually is something that operates also when we're dealing with one another so that we don't injure one another so that we don't, we're not too hard on one another so that we're not cruel the fear of God is like an eroding leg


the abbot is always supposed to have the fear of God in his mind not only in a sense of final retribution whether he's going to get it if he's invested, if he's attorney but also because somehow that very presence of God moderates and determines his attitude and the way that he relates to his brothers and so it is now, this contempt that he's talking about here may be the contempt of God the contempt of the word of God the opposite of the fear of God but it's also the contempt of everybody else it's just plain contempt and here, I remember a Jewish philosopher Eli Segal he says that contempt is a riddle of all riddles of sin the contempt is to think that the bad of something else is your own good the contempt is a kind of absolute preference for self which closes itself in and doesn't listen anymore and doesn't look anymore and doesn't know anymore, doesn't know reality


the only reality it knows is its own is self which means that it doesn't know reality at all because that self is not the only contempt ok so this whole thing falls under the label of parousia this whole downward track of St. Bernard now he goes on to the dimensions of parousia and first of all, the vertical dimension of the fear of God and the horizontal dimension of respect of the brothers therefore it's a great thing to cultivate this respect for our brethren so that we fear to harm ourselves and one another we fear to harm ourselves and one another now that's a whole different kind of fear, isn't it? the fear of punishment that can be a very delicate we call it sensitivity sensitivity so that we honor one another


and we keep a careful check on our gestures and on our countenance towards one another I didn't hook up the word in the original but even the way that we look at one another the impression we give that fear of hurting the other remember Dostoyevsky should it happen that you see a brother doing wrong don't despise him and wipe your hands of him and keep silence and let him be destroyed keep that kind of silence ha ha just let him go not again curse him and speak ill of him but with sympathy and the fear of God speak to someone who is able to set him up again or you yourself speak to him with love and humility this is marvelous it's just got the feel of the texture of charity pardon me brother but I consider being careless myself we probably don't act rightly in doing so a gentle way of trying to correct somebody


which doesn't separate oneself from the other you shouldn't do that but what do you think about this finds a gentle slope so the other person is not pushed off or broken down put down and then this business about what about talking to the other he said look into your motivations let him grope about in his own heart and if he experiences there a movement of anger or resentment let him not speak to the other because he's doing it out of bitter zeal instead of good zeal should he perceive accurately he desires to speak out of concern for his brother and need to help him and if this thought brings a certain emotion which troubles him nonetheless he's not completely quiet about it let him humbly make the facts known to his other saying both sides my conscience bears witness that I want to speak for the correction of my brother but I perceive that some thought of selfishness that's a great delicacy to tell and the discernment of your own motives not wanting to go to the superior


for the sake of getting somebody else but just having that kind of joy in finding somebody else that, finding somebody to call and making it known but when that's in us make that known to him and leave it up to the other but when a man speaks up purely out of a desire to help his brother and not alone God does not permit any commotion to arise and he does not allow any trouble or harm to fall on his heels God takes care of him take great care as we have said to keep guard over that tongue and don't be touchy he says this is the other side of the issue this very difference will be of greater help to himself than to the other man and then he goes on with some stories he says, well I don't know if I've ever done anything good but if I've been protected from this vice of taking liberties that means parasoia


which is the opposite of the fear of God I know that I was protected because I never judged myself better than my brother remember Alan Moses and all those places in the forest where you find that thing and that saying of the father is that insofar as we have a big, a gross idea of ourselves a magnified idea of ourselves to that degree we're contemptuous of others we're contemptuous of our brothers like the two sides of the sea side when we go up our brother goes down now there's a sense in which that's true and there's another sense in which it's false because we can have a valid image of ourselves which doesn't have that defect too but that's a matter of it's a matter of growth of a journey he starts telling his stories he always relieves us by getting into the concrete after a while first of all about Abba John he served Abba John for nine years he gets off on a digression here and finishes that up on the top of the next page he served him for nine years he offered to give up the service to somebody else


he never complained it was a hard service evidently and this is part of his what would you call it fear of the Lord but then he's got these four words of Abba John it evidently was not too exciting to listen to Abba John because he always said the same thing or rather he only said four things he only said four things he doesn't say whether he did it one day every Wednesday, Friday or Thursday that's how it worked and Abba John was one of the great old men too there was Barcenufius maybe John wasn't in there either it was the abbot that set the whole thing up but nobody was sure about Barcenufius


he used to speak like this once for all, once for all but only God preserve you and love you Barcenufius always uses the same expression when I was a friend of his the fathers used to say the guarding of your neighbor's conscience brings forth the matter what does that mean? that's that kind of sensitivity he's talking about a very delicate respect for a brother's heart even when we're in their life see at this point the person forgets completely about whether he's in the right or not forgets completely about whether the other person is in the wrong no, he's interested in the other person's heart the person's conscience about not offending the other person that sense of scandal which is either justified or unjustified another evening he said once for all, but only God preserve you and love you the fathers used to say I never used to grasp my own desires see it's another expression of the same thing of the same seesaw between brother and self


on another occasion he said once for all, brother the fathers used to say flee the ways of man and you will be saved and finally bear one another's burden and so you will forever love Christ okay, three of those seem to be the same thing, don't they? different nuances of the same law of preference and service of laying down one's life on brother and self in a small gallery in a nice big place what about the other one, flee the ways of man and you will be saved on the surface that would sound like a harsh statement of running away from men flee from man and you will be saved what does that really mean? if you read it in the context of those other three statements it can't mean that at all flee the ways of men the ways of men must be the ways of violence they must be the ways of preferring self to the other don't flee from men that's the opposite of what he's saying flee from the ways of men the ways of men who learned one another


who were supportive of the works of the flesh envy and strife and dissension and selfishness and all those things bear one another's burden and so you will forever love Christ so he kept those words in his heart all his life and they're pretty good words to keep them evidently John didn't want them he needed each of them and he he starts on these other stories I guess we'd better leave those till next time he certainly testified of Zarathustra's portions as a matter of fact he's got this tone all throughout his discourses about, well you know I've carried this thing on my life and so on and that's, Dorotheus is I think of Piconius Piconius who bore the burden of his brother's suffering and finally gave him a rule Dorotheus has got the same tone we're talking about his patience


he's put up with some of the rest you can tell so it is that he tells these stories but there are always stories of patience and of non-retribution of not striking back of non-paranoia especially the one where somebody you know unbelievably another brother earlier provoked me or out of simplicity the Lord knows which during the night silence made water all over my head and soaked my bed incredible there's a Zen story about a fellow who was sleeping and a voice reveals himself and he's dead I don't know what he experienced he was he had some what do you call it haiku like expression to say that he had enlightenment but this is different this is in the Christian context this thing about patience and bearing one another


and somehow living the life of Christ manifesting the life of Christ in our souls and this patience under whatever we force from our brothers knowing that what we're really doing is not a joke and his malice or simplicity or crudeness or whatever St. Paul says fight against principalities and parents we're living not just our own life but the life of Christ it's a life of greater significance we get one pin from the personal personal sting and personal hurt and this patience which he calls stout-heartedness so that our love for one another may conquer everything that comes up against it see the strongest thing is that communion, the strongest thing is our love for one another so that the key thing is to believe in him to believe in him even though we're not good a lot of times we won't but his strength is tested in this kind of circumstance


ok we'll finish up next time in the next course we should be able to finish this discourse this next page there, the word needs a little attention he's talking about keeping not a position but a state the word is katastasis which means an inner state which means something like calm or peace apart in one of the other translations it's translated calm the idea being here we get this connection between Hezekiah and the idea being that keeping your interior peace in these situations is also preserving the peace of your brethren it's the priority the concern for those two values above all the essential value of purity apart or tranquility apart which is the non-violence of heart manifested both in yourself and expressed or what would you say, realized


in the maintaining of communion you see the sensitivity to the heart of the other don't injure the conscience of the other don't injure the tranquility of the other don't scandalize him, don't cut him off don't excommunicate him don't somehow break him off from going to need him in any way and the same thing, maintaining the same peace in your own heart and somehow it's as if the two are connected in such a way that if you lose one, you lose the other if you break one, you break the other if you have anger in your heart somehow you're going to do something to your brother's heart and if you maintain one then you maintain the other and the priority is such that nothing else is more important than this for him and that's why he goes on with it when you have a job in the monastery the job is one eighth, he says of the matter and half of the matter is keeping this this peace of heart this purity of heart this love, this quiet which is also community maintaining equality ok, we'll go on from there next time


the next one, consultation is really about spiritual direction, spiritual father glory be to the father and to the son and to the holy spirit as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be glory be to the father amen