February 18th, 1983, Serial No. 00867

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Monastic Spirituality Set 10 of 12

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I'd like to start on what we can call monastic spirituality. I could change the name of the course to monastic spirituality at this point, but rather than at this point, an issue of survey. And the first thing I'd like to talk about is the thing itself. We'll get to this later. The spirituality. What is spirituality? You'll notice that Piper's book is named Monastic Spirituality. This is meant to be a textbook for monks. It is to learn about the tradition of monastic life. So spirituality is pretty close to life. It's a hard thing to define though. You'll find that it kind of moves on you. You think you put your finger on it and it moves. We'll look at a couple of definitions. If these things are a bit confusing, don't let that bother you. Because what we have to do is learn to live with a bit of confusion.


Or rather, really learn to live with mystery, which always goes beyond our definitions and our thoughts. So when we find ourselves unable to close in on the definition of spirituality, we'll find it happening all the time when we study the monasticism. When we study spirituality. The thing that we want to avoid, however, is letting that become an excuse for losing our grip on what something really is. I think there are two ways. Mystery is real, but ambiguity is not so real, is it? So we want to have the respect for mystery to learn to live with it without letting ourselves put in the ambiguity, which is easy to do. The definition of spirituality in Piper, on page 23 of the book. It's good for you to bring Piper along with you on these sessions. What is meant by a spirituality? It may be defined as the organization of a complex of means for the attainment of supernatural perfection and power. That's what you'd call a kind of scholastic definition, OK?


It's the kind of thing you'd define as scholastic theology. Organization of a complex of means for the attainment of supernatural perfection and power. But is that what the monks were thinking of, you know, when they went out and began to live with spirituality? No, they certainly didn't think that way. Although if you read Cassian's Conference No. 1 by Elder Moses, you'll find him talking in that language. Talking in the language of selecting the means for a given thing. But it's almost as if the monks did what they did nearly instinctively by an impulse of the Holy Spirit. And then philosophers, theologians, would come out later and analyze it. It was like that. Questioner 2 That's one of the things that they had in mind.


In other words, to live a life which was on the same level of witness and self-representation as a part of a spirituality. This we'll get to a little later on. We're talking about what spirituality is because what our subject now becomes monastic spirituality, this kind of thing. Let's take another, just to confuse the issue a little more. I've got too much clarity. Let's confuse it by looking in Boyer. Let's see, it's not different from the history of Christian spirituality. And you'll find that right off in the preface to his book, he's writing a history of spirituality. So he asks himself, what is spirituality? What is spirituality in general, and Christian spirituality in particular? He quotes the man that wrote the history before him.


He says, he distinguishes spirituality or spiritual theology not only from dogmatic theology, which teaches what must be believed, but also from moral theology, which according to him teaches only what must be done or avoided so as not to sin, mortally or menally. That's a kind of funny definition of moral theology. You can see both of them are being pinched at that point. What it turns out is, we're talking about two different things. We're talking about a life, and we're talking about the study of a life. We're talking about living, and we're talking about talking about living, or thinking about living. And spirituality covers both of those things. So you'll find it fluctuating back and forth between the two. But even if you speak of just life, and not talking about life, or reflection on life, you still find that it moves that way. It won't stay still. A discretion? Yes, of course.


Okay, so discernment is very important in monastic spirituality. Right. In fact, It's not related. But actually, if you can do it, it's a very good idea. I'd like to see you talk about others in practice. That's right. The definition is narrowing it down to at least some other thing. Well, okay, we have to decide whether we're talking about the subject, or we're talking about the study, or we're talking about the life. And we're talking about the life first. But then, what do we mean when we say spirituality with regard to the life? Do we mean, what's the difference between Christian spirituality and monastic spirituality? What Boyer arrived at, actually, is something like a psychology of proceeding towards what one might consider to be a hermit. The psychology of the Christian experience, something like that,


is spiritual theology, or spirituality. Let me read it. It says, More recent works have tried to purify paratism and so forth, reducing it to religious psychology. Oftentimes in the old, not old times, but the last few centuries, they considered spirituality to be the study of mysticism, the study of extraordinary states. But that's not what we were practicing. Now, listen. Christian spirituality, here Boyer says what he wants to say. Christian spirituality, or any other spirituality, is distinguished from dogma by the fact that instead of studying or describing the objects of belief, as it were, in the abstract, it studies the reactions which these objects arouse in the religious consciousness. It studies the reactions which these objects arouse in the religious consciousness.


That may not satisfy us. Here's another definition. Oh, yeah, but it's not only experiential. It's things people do. This one comes from Ronald. Intense self-realization of the Christian reality in the individual person. Now, you notice that there are two tracks. One is theology and the other is spirituality. If you go to a seminar at a school, there are 99 courses on theology, and one course is one hour a week. What's the difference between theology and spirituality? Theology is thinking or speaking about Christ's reality. You can say that theology is a science. That's the way to go about it.


What is the difference? Spirituality is the realization of that faith, and then thinking about God. A theology is a system of thought. Spirituality, sometimes it's like a different life. But it includes everything. It's part of the experience. It's a different way of thinking. Many different spiritualities. In fact, starting with the science of theology, Boyer talks about the different schools of spirituality. This is what Connor says. An intense self-realization of the Christian reality in the individual person as individual. So he would say, does he mean that there's a different spirituality for each person?


No. But what he means is that the spirituality is not the truth, or the Christ event, or the Christ mystery studied in itself. It's studied in the individual as he experiences it in response to it. So it's the response of the individual, or of the community, or of the religious order, whatever, to the living realization. Here's another expression. This comes from the Encyclopedia. It means the personal assimilation, the personal, the same as in the book, of the salvific mission of Christ by each Christian, which is always in the framework of new forms of Christian conduct. So there's a kind of diversity that just grows out of it, that just blooms out of it. It is always in the framework of new forms of Christian conduct, and is comprised within the fundamental answer of the Church to the world of salvation.


So, Boullier talks about reaction to the word. Macintosh talks about realization of the mystery, self-realization of the mystery of the individual, of the Christian reality of the individual person. And he talks about the personal assimilation within the fundamental answer of the Church to the world of salvation. So you get two lines. One line is the line of the word, and the other is the line of the spirit. Why do we call it spirituality? That's got a relationship, obviously, to, not only to the human spirit, but to the spirit of God. Theology and spirituality. Theology relates to the word of God, the mystery surrounding the word of God, the objective mystery of God. Spirituality relates to the mystery as lived in the individual, as experienced, or you can say, instead of the dimension of the word, the dimension of the spirit. So, this is much more common. This distinction is much more common among the Orthodox,


among Eastern Christians, among Catholics, among Muslims, the distinction between the line of the word and the mark of the spirit. So much so that Olivier Clamart can say that monasticism is precisely the life which follows the line of the spirit rather than the line of the word in the Church. In other words, he distinguishes the word as being a stable dimension in the Church, as manifested in the structures of the Church, the hierarchy of the Church, the sacraments of the Church. The word as preached, as given in the Scripture, which is invariable. And on the other side, the line of the spirit, which is the charismatic or personal realization of the individual, and somehow always changing in the Church. Now, you can dispute that, insofar as that's a kind of definition of monasticism, or even to avoid it. But the basic line is quite clear. So, monasticism is very interested in spirituality. It has more interest in spirituality than it is in theology.


Monasticism is spirituality. And it's the most, in a way, it's the most characteristic form of spirituality in the Church. It's the first one that comes up and separates itself clearly from the Church. It's like the early ascetics and virgins are moving towards the full form of something, which takes its full form from monasticism. And then, after that, we need to split up into all these other groups, forms of the Church. But it's like, it becomes clear as to what monasticism is, which is its clearest profile. Yes. And there's something besides those two. There's an aspect which is experienced.


It's not just in the head, but you can say it's in the heart. Now, that's what spirituality is about. What is in the heart and what is experienced in the person, that's what the person does. That's spirituality. What's in the head, we have to say, is theology, the science of the mystery. You see, the word, in a sense, only the flat word goes to the head. You see, as soon as we distinguish these things, we run into trouble. Evagrius says that a theologian is a man of praise, and a man of praise is a theologian. So he really messes this up, because he makes the two the same, doesn't he? But that's the definition of theology, which has not been held up in our more recent theology. That was before theology was thought of as science. Then theology was thought of as wisdom, sapientia. Now it's thought of as science, and transience in the West, ever since the 13th century. So, to go back and resume a bit, we've got theology, which you can say is the science of the faith, talking about it now.


If we went way back, if we go back to the Fathers, it's much harder to distinguish spirituality from theology. If you read St. Augustine, you don't find him talking kind of abstract theology over here, and experiential theology over here, or sapiential theology over here. No, it's sort of all the same. And it's all this gnosis of the sapientia. The notion of science has not completely detached itself. It's an attitude. It's a big notion. It has detached itself from theology, so theology isn't really all one thing. And it's all one thing in this spiritual life. Nevertheless, already, in the 4th century, you get a distinction between monastic fathers and church fathers. Monastic fathers have begun to go off on a certain line, which specializes in spirituality, and in a certain kind of spiritual life. Whereas, they've often become less theological. Not always. So you begin to get taken. You begin to get taken. And the best way to simplify this is to do it the first time. So you've got theology,


and then you've got spiritual theology, which is the study of the spiritual. Theology is the study of the mystical. Spiritual theology would be the study of the mystical experience, the experience of the individual. And then you've got spirituality. And then you've got the spiritual life. Spirituality fluctuates between the two meanings of simply being spiritual theology, the study of the spiritual, and being that life itself. So when you meet people, read the art that you find, it's looking back and forth between those two meanings. And that shouldn't be tough for us. It shouldn't. Because you can always tell which one you're using. Questioner asks a question inaudible.


Questioner asks a question inaudible. Questioner asks a question inaudible. But you find this phenomenon in the history of Christianity that an initial image, and then a gradual diversification, and then finally this image is diversified. It's a phenomenon. It's actually spreading out. Actually, it's actually getting separated and folded. Now, monasticism is very close to the core. It's very close to the beginning. It's not like that. It's surprising. It surprises. Monasticism, you can't find it falling right out of the context. And don't believe it. That's something you do.


Questioner asks a question inaudible. I think we have to consider, probably, that the essence of monasticism is already there. It can't stop. It doesn't separate itself out. That's interesting. Okay, we want to ask the question, what is a monk? That may seem a stupid question. But the fact is that it's beneficial to go into it. In fact, that's what Piper gives as a title to the chapter. Notice that's a historical chapter. So he asks the question, what is a monk? And then he goes on to tell you of the history of the origins of monasticism. Before we get to him, I want to do something with this article I passed out to you. We like to talk about monastic identity as it relates to Christian identity, Catholic identity, and also the human identity, including the question of identity. Sometimes we don't want to look into these things, because we think it's a waste of time, or it's going to undermine some of our vision. If our convictions are real, we'll find a deeper way to get there.


We'll get deeper. Other questions? Or we can go into the first question. There aren't any speakers. We'll try various approaches to the question in order to try to get behind the understanding that he's talking about in a certain way, in an understanding that's on the level of his church. Piper, in this chapter, which he entitles, What is Monastic Life?, he treats it historically, and then he treats it theologically when he looks finally in the third part of that chapter at monastic life in the context of the church itself. I'll put some other quotes on the class shelf over here, and the shelf for this class, I'll put some books on this history and surrounding this question. Some of them, if I wanted to, I wouldn't even recommend it, but this book is kind of exhibit X and exhibit Y. Some others I'll recommend to you.


As far as the history is concerned, R.B. 1980 was the probably most telestructed one. It was an historical introduction, about 130 pages long, page 3 to page 150. I believe that's how long it took. Which is very complex, too. It took a really long time. And I'll make quite a lot of progressions. This article you've been given is for the introductory part to this Consider Your Call, which is a book by the English Benedictine Congregation, of which Fr. Albert is pretty critical. It says a lot of it is a justification for the way of life. Which is a quite active book. That doesn't come out yet in this introductory book. There's quite a whole bunch of others. The one, Introduction, What is a Month?


I didn't get to write on that, so you can write it yourselves if you want. It's from this Consider Your Call, by Daniel Reese, R.E.D.S. It's a collaborative work. Now the reason why I'd like to use this is to introduce a couple of preliminary questions which affect the way that we talk about this whole thing. First of all, he defends the question on page 1. But then he poses two basic questions, and the first one can be kind of disconcerting. Is Christian monasticism to be approached as one manifestation


of a much older and more widespread adventure of the human spirit, which is manifested also in pre-Christian and non-Christian monasticism, or is Christian monasticism primarily a manifestation of Christianity itself, and to be understood only in terms of the elsewhere? A cruder question might be, does monasticism begin with Christianity, and is Christianity the original form of monasticism, or does it begin outside of Christianity? Well, the answer to that one has to be that it begins earlier, it begins outside of Christianity. And this is an embarrassing way of going to talk about it. It knocks this whole balance at first, because then you wonder, what's creeping into our concept of a monastic location? Isn't the monastic location for a Christian purely the desire, the cause of all of Christ, to seek God according to the word of the gospel? And the difficulty of this thing, I think, relative to the paradox, is that yes, it is. In other words, for the Christian monk, that's all he's interested in. He's not interested in the aspect of searching for God,


which is what he sees as a part of the pre-Christian culture. Nevertheless, we have to face the truth, the fact that monasticism was around before the Christian culture, and the pre-Christian culture. Now, that's one question. The other question is the question of whether Christian monasticism comes from a pre-Christian culture. And the final answer to that one, I think, I think we know, is the Bible. The gospel. Those are two different questions. The second question, is the primary reality of the individual monk in search of union with God and the community there sort of as an accessory to that, as a help to that. The community is one of the means. Or is the primordial and typical reality of the monastic community, which obviously is composed of individuals. Now, people can be violently divergent on this question.


You'll have people who will defend to the death that the notion of monasticism is centric in solitude. And, therefore, that the community is only there in order to help the individual monk to find God. You'll have other people who will defend very vigorously the statement that no, and especially for the Christian, it's the community which is the best witness to monasticism, especially in the West, because they defend monasticism to the community all the time. And the hermit life is sort of pushed out to the margin, to the coast. And they will say this is the truth. The solitary thing is, in this attitude, is dangerous at best, or dubious at best. Limitation of intent. Ah.


What is it? Well, he doesn't say that it's a state of transition, but he says in the end that it is. But he's got a kind of presupposition there that one should be primary. The reason being, if you look around at monasticism, once you find they go in one direction or the other, that solitary call is so strong, for instance, that you'll find a lot of people defining the monastic life in terms of solitude. And then you'll find other people who will say, no, that's not true, it's the command. So you have to pose the question. We've had both. But suppose one... Take the... Take the commodities structure of 1935, where the monastic community was made a nursery for hermits. Okay? Now, that seems to have the presupposition that the community is only a training ground for the real quintessence of the monastic life,


which is in solitude. You'll find that people's minds are very different. Some people don't have any problem at all with that kind of equilibration, okay, with having two elements and not having the sort of one as uppermost. Other people insist on a line of priority. In this case, we're going to end up with the answer, according to the author here, and I agree with him, that neither one is simply primary. But notice that this question is disconnected with our first question, the question of whether monasticism is outside of Christianity, whether even Christian monasticism has to be considered in the light of monasticism in general. Let's see how that works out. The question is not only a legitimate one, but it's kind of an inevitable one. It's an obligatory question, because it's an existential one. You give people a living question. And if you have to decide how people are going to relate their life to solitary community, then you have to look at the theology


of his answers or his approaches towards an answer. Number one, as I mentioned, monasticism is not a specifically Christian phenomenon. It's born of aspirations inherent in the human spirit. In other words, there's a desire for the absolute that's planted right in us. This is related to a bunch of theological questions which didn't connect to it. Then, of course, the whole question of the natural desire for God is a philosophical one, in a sense. There is a difference in the nature of our beliefs. It's emerged from the great world of religion, particularly Hinduism and Buddhism, and particularly Buddhism and Hinduism, which you could say is a monastic religion. In the sense that monasticism is in the central, the way that it's modeled is important to the question of Christianity. It's definitely in the central, very much. The desire for God is an overriding passion,


even though the Buddhists may not talk about it. Maybe we'll say that the Buddhists have no right to rely on it. They're organized to promote the search for union with God, even though they don't need it. That's why the Buddhists never actually talk about it. Now let me end with that part of it. It must be acknowledged, however, that non-Christian monasticism is often remarked by a rejection of the world and its values as alien to the monk's question, perhaps his pursuit for imperialism. Okay, what he's trying to do is characterize non-Christian monasticism and then set it alongside Christian monasticism and see how they differ, and see what they have in common. So he goes on to say now, what Christianity is, what difference that introduces. Christianity is the way of life for those who have been called and have responded before to share in the life of God's incorporation into Jesus Christ and fellowship in his faith. He comes upon a specific event in history, the coming of Christ, first of all, in his life,


and secondly, in his larger body, which is the Church, and the Father and His Spirit. That's from our research from Absinthe. Now he's making a contrast here with other, I'll tell you just now, in response to his loving initiatives, notice that it's the God who speaks, the God who speaks and who comes, who comes into the world. It's not true for all of us in the world, but not just in the Christian world. A celebration of a saving presence in history, rather than absence, in the Church and in the world. The ennoblement of all human experience, and the difference he's pointing out is the non-rejection of all of humanity, all of humanity. And the promised transformation of all created things with non-rejection of the created world, made impossible by the Christian world, which we will discuss some more. It follows, therefore, that from the Christian point of view,


monasticism is an egregious. Now, what this gets in the way of is our kind of unexamined identification of monasticism with Christianity. Now, here we run up against that difference between what we feel and what we think, in the sense that we feel that our monastic location is the same as our Christian location. And it is. For us, it is. Because it's our way of following Christ. If you have a location to be a monk, if you're a Christian, that means it's a way in which you are wanted by God to be a Christian, is by being a monk. That's what we're here to learn. They don't throw tomatoes too cold on the monastery. Even though when you think about it, certain things have the potential to be so. Monasticism is flowered within Christianity. There is genuine value in it to be discovered and reinterpreted in the light of God's presence and Christ within the community at that time.


In other words, this is the truth which is not in that universal monasticism itself. These phrases, search for God, communion with God, and actually those phrases are already Christian phrases and we're just using them as expressions of this notion of monasticism, have taken on newness of meaning in the light of the Gospel for that was meant to suit conservative monasticism. Then, he brings up this thesis which was in early monasticism, especially in the East, to be a monk is simply a wholehearted way of being a Christian. Monasticism is integral to Christianity. Now, this is true for the monk. It's true for the monk. But, suppose you say that to a layman who went into various difficulties. The monk himself becomes unable to separate his Christian vocation from his monastic problem. In other words, there's no other perfect way, the implications, there's no other perfect way to live a Christian life.


It's hard if you say it's one perfect way to live a Christian life. There's no distinction. It can't be too simple. The problem comes up when people ask, maybe we've talked about this before, why is the monastic life a sacrament? Why is the monastic profession a sacrament? Marriage is a sacrament, Holy Order is a sacrament, and those introduce a person to certain states in the Church. Why is the monastic life, which introduces them to justice, so it's clear and defined and separated from the more state of the Church, a sacrament? So, the monk responds, because it's only a living out of the baptism, so, let me think about it, let me find another person to explain it to. And they say, yes, but I'm living out of baptism too. And then the monk says, well, yes, but I'm living it out simply. I'm really living my baptism kind of completely in perfect harmony. And you always put another person in an inferior position. Because a married person,


he's then forced to think that he only lives his baptism out of certain components, or branches, or something else. That marriage is not a full way of living baptism. It's very difficult to, in words, to make that distinction. Because the fact is that there is a preferential way of living the core of your baptism, of living your baptism in simplicity, with nothing added. And then there's another way, in which you sort of add the world onto it, where you've got a family, and you've got a responsibility. So, really quickly, in words, especially for the layperson, it sounds very offensive. OK, that's a question that can only be answered historically. You can answer it theologically. They've talked about only a second baptism.


I'm sure it's been mentioned as a sacrament during the Middle Ages. OK, because the theologians argue about this a lot. They argue about how many sacraments there were, and so on. I don't know if it was ever seriously proposed as a sacrament. It certainly wasn't this hypothetical. But that's in the, what, in the 12th or 13th century. Why didn't it become a sacrament in the first place? That's a historical fact that we have to go just back to and try to understand. That's one. Well, actually, they made a kind of profession paper 3,000 years before the end of the 13th century, and everything goes. But, let's think about that for a moment. Why was the monastic profession, now, the profession was already there, so by the time we get to the 5th, 6th century, so why wasn't that made a sacrament?


Not exactly, I'll tell you. But some of the other ones are not so easy to find. For baptism in the Eucharist, I think the others are not so easy to find. Where's my phone? Ah, there it is. You see, you can do that with monasticism. It's sort of the core of the three-legged colony. You can do that with baptism in the Eucharist. You can do that with baptism in the Mass of Jesus. But if you do it through the basis of monasticism, it's not going to make any sense to me. You can do those also, as the institution is happening. Some of them. Many of them. It's not easy to be a monastic. Well, that's one of the arguments.


Well, the thing is that at a certain point in the Western Church, there are seven sacraments. But monasticism is not among them. And yet, you don't have seven sacraments in most churches. It's not clear what the seven sacraments are. So, sometimes in between, monasticism could have been brought up in equal levels. Living the Eucharist, living the apostolic life, living the baptism, living the core of your Christian life. There's nothing special about it. There's nothing. So, the idea that professional monastic profession doesn't have anything to do with it. It roots within. Simply.


And so you don't have any sacrament. You can ratify it. But monasticism becomes a state. It becomes just as clearly defined as a legal state as marriage or a priesthood. If we take that thesis that I told you about before where Olivier Cormac says, we've got these things that are in the line of the word


and in here there's other things that are in the line of the spirit. Now this, I don't say is the proof that he answered your question. But it offers you a point of view from which I think you can see why. So, in the line of the word are the sacraments. In the line of the spirit is a way of life. There's a charismatic response to something. That's monasticism. The sacraments are over here in this other line. Even as far as the juridical states of matrimony and other religious things are. But over here, in this kind of free response to the impulse of the spirit, the sacrament can somehow be out of place. Very possibly. That's not something that proves itself that much. It's a point of view here. It's as if the sacraments are in another area, in a different place. And if this is true, then it points to a kind of radically


different, radically charismatic nature of monasticism. But it's not likely that the church structure, the fact that monasticism is structured, is secondary to it. Which is something I wish we could say. I think the answer is in that line. When we talk about monastic profession, they called it often a second baptism. Rather than, it was, it had a sacramental sense to it, as a second baptism. And there was this theory that it remits all sins even when it's a baptism. In the days when they only had public penance, when they didn't have private professional penance. If you entered a monastery, that was equivalent to making public penance. And public penance, you could only do it once in your life. So, if you went into a monastery,


that was equivalent. It was doing the same thing. So there, once again, it becomes a quasi-sacrament, but without being called a sacrament. It's like it's in another order. It's a little bit detached from the hierarchical structure of the church, but it has a sacramental function. Okay, this thesis that to be a monk is simply a wholehearted way of being a Christian. Monasticism is much of a Christian and, by golly, that's true. What's wrong with it? The fact that there must be other ways of being a Christian is wrong, because it's not the only way. I found Banneker's notion of the center of the Christian, the idea that the monk is very much concerned with the center, not with the things on the periphery, not with the exterior, not with the function, but with the center. I think that was the center. Okay, then he talks about the New Testament passages


which are used as a basis for monasticism. I think he's a little minimalistic on this. I think there's a lot more force as derivations of monastic life in the New Testament. Christian monasticism is born of a radical and charismatic option in favor of the new presence of God in his word and in his saving mystery. How does that work? You see the difference between that and universal monasticism in the Church of God? It's not simply a search for God. It's not simply a search for God. It's not simply a problem of the interior journey. Christian monasticism is born of a radical option in favor of the new presence of God in his word and in his saving mystery. Both the word and the saving mystery are to say the sacraments. Those are what?


Those are the new thing. And the new thing is simply the presence of God in the world, in Christ. So the distinctive thing then within Christian monasticism is that it's a response to the Christ who came in history, and then individual call. When God calls you to be a monk, that's the Christ of unhappiness to you, or something. It's like Jesus saying, come follow me. So it's that newness, and the fact that it's crystal-centric. So this changes monasticism. So you can have a kind of tension between a couple of folks, like you see. Not even, say, a certain point in the heart of a monk. Between being a perfect monk and being a perfect Christian. This is what I think we have to straighten out and discern. If you take your image of the perfect monk, and that may lead you in one direction, and somebody comes along and says, well look, that's not Christian. That's what it is. You can't just put that into words. It's a question of what that means.


In a way, the Christian monk is more general than the monastic monk. In a way, the monastic monk is more general than the Christian monk. The two overlap, and we find ourselves in that spark of a movement of that. That's the Christian monk. It implies an exclusive and normally lifelong dedication to the Kingdom of God. This is not always so, or perhaps so often so, in non-Christian monasticism. It's more temporary. Is it between the two of them? But they lived it in a very special way.


Some people might consider it non-Christian. I don't know if they got that kind of criticism, because it was so visible they were holy. It was visibly a manifestation of the Holy Spirit, the work of God. Go on. But then later on... There's something else that happened. Is it monasticism, the monastic idea of pulling away from the Gospel during history, or is it rather that people pull away from both the monastic ideal in its purity, and from the Gospel. When monasticism gets decadent, it's not that it's getting more monastic and less Christian. It's getting less monastic and less Christian at the same time. Like when you get a big, rich monasticism, which has lost touch with the basic values of prayer, of poverty, of obedience,


of simplicity of life. And also, it doesn't really relate to let us say the poor people, or the situation of mankind. Let me pull away from both. ... We find that monks sometimes were very flexible in what they could do. And that's another evidence


of a kind of identification of monasticism with the simple idea of a perfect, perfect Christian life that could be missionaries. Which is just to be Christians again, in a particular way. And that gets replaced and becomes a kind of monster or routine. ... That's true. Notice how the notion of epistolic changes gradually. Although, in that sense, in that usage, by the religious orders themselves, maybe it doesn't change. Gradually, it becomes to mean the afterlife. ... Yeah. But in their own conception, in their vocation, they consider that very mixed life, and sharing its fruits, as being the apostolic life. And indeed, it is closer, in a sense, to the apostolic life of the apostles themselves than is the life of monks.


However, the apostles had a particular mission in the Church, and their life is not necessarily typical of the life of all Christian leaders. To be a preacher is not necessarily... Apostle means to preach, same as a missionary. But that's not the common Christian vocation. Originally, they meant by apostolic life something else, didn't they? They meant the life of the apostolic community. The life and the acts of the apostles, not the life of the pro-apostles who were missionaries. ... [...]


... [...] Yes. Now, the other thing is that the apostolate, or the constriction of the missionary, would be constricted through purging the Catholic Church of the missionary. So, when it passes to the lay people and the whole church, then it's not a constriction of the Catholic Church. Also, sometimes they're poorer on the more, what do you call it, non-active or static, I don't think that's the way it should be.


We have to get to the point where we feel secure, where we feel all right, rather than thinking somehow we're slipping out of our grasp. Notice the difference between Eastern and Western monasticism in that respect. Eastern Christianity is much closer to one place. Whereas Western Christianity sort of reaches out on a diversified, sometimes it branches, the connection between them and the Christian community is almost completely lost. We won't go on much longer. I'd like to finish this. He goes on with his description of Christian monasticism, an exclusive and normally lifelong dedication to the Kingdom of God, the adoption of a disciplined lifestyle, advising celibacy, the renunciation of religious principles, God's Word. Some elements are distinctive and some are more universal. A monk's choice is stabilized by vows. That's not an exclusively Christian thing, but it has a special sense to Christianity.


The monastic community is like this. Okay, the second question he brings up is the specifying reality of the individual monk seeking God, striving for the contemplation of solus consola, of omnipotence. There is a presence within the Church and the world of the community of Christian monks. And you get both suggestions in the New Testament. And they both have a very strong point. And they should have a strong point, both of them. This question is particularly important for us as monogamists, because this is the polarity of the cross which our life is strung. And the way that we understand this is extremely important. We'll find ourselves coming back to this. The notion of a marginal person. And this is what you find in the desert. The desert is a marginal place. The ecclesiology of Vatican II has allowed many monks to become more explicitly or deeply


sacramental characters of their life. So, an understanding of the mystery of contemplation. The two emphases appear to be opposed only upon the state of reality which requires the other. So now he gets to the answer, or the approach to an answer to both of his questions at the top of page five. A sharp dichotomy is therefore to be avoided in framing the basic question. They require answers that allow for both kinds of details. It is also clear that to try to isolate any pure timeless essence of monasticism, apart from the carnivore, is a mistake. It may be noticed that while the two questions discussed above are distinct, they are interlinked. They are interlinked. Does that make any sense? Does it make any sense that connection between those two questions? The universal tradition, let's call it, the universal experience of monasticism, is less


inclined towards the end. The community is less important for it. It's essentially an interior journey. It's the search for the absolute, the search for God, or the search for the end of, you know, whatever you want to call it. The end, basically, in a particular sense. It's not a communal sense. The distinctive thing about Christianity, at least in this sense, in the Church, is that when Christ comes to give salvation in a communal form, God comes into the world and doesn't just pursue one humanity. Like the life of Jesus. Remember that example. Give me that example, if you ask me, so that they might follow that way of life. It's not the individual. He gives his spirit to a group of men in such a way that they become one body. They become his body. So you have this theological reality, this new reality, of a community which has God in that way. A community which is the body of God itself, which is the Church. Now, this is true of the Church as a whole, but it's also true of a monastic community,


which is all of these ones here. So this kind of value of a community, this theological reality and value of community penetrates through the whole body, sort of reproduces itself, also in small groups, so that even the local community, and not necessarily the local community, has an equal dignity with the universal Church. That's the other point that I want to make. In parts of the local community, the Church is really there in other communities. The whole Church is there. That is the Church. The people, the person in front of the person, that's the Church. It's not just the person. It's the whole Church. Universal Church. So, it sifts right down, and this value of theological power, the value of community, comes into the monastic life itself and begins to characterize it. So this becomes rather distinctive of Christian monasticism, that the importance of the community rises greatly. It's much more important in Christian monasticism than it is in non-Christian monasticism.


Compare, for instance, two forms. Compare the Benedictine form of monasticism with the Ashram form. In the Ashram form, the disciples are gathered around a guru. They're gathered around a teacher, and the community itself doesn't have much importance. The relations with one another are secondary. They may be in and out of it. I don't know how much of that is in the Benedictine Ashram. But in the Benedictine community, the community itself has a reality which is equal, almost, to the value of the individual, equal to the importance of the community. It's hardly as close to that, perhaps, as you would think. That's the difficulty of getting a truly Catholic community, is to incorporate the Ashram community into the Church. In the Middle Ages, sometimes they come kind of close to it, okay?


That would be a heresy, if they got to that point. But in the Middle Ages, they came close to it. I think with Bunyak monasticism, as well. I'm trying to think of an expression for it, but I can't. I have to get it close to it. It's almost as if it's an inside core of the Church. There's an ecclesial core, and the people outside might be kind of inferior or secondary to that kind of core, among the monks themselves. The monastic theologians tend to do that. And you can see how it starts when the monks begin to think of themselves as trying to reproduce the life of that first Jerusalem community, okay? So that makes them an elite community. It's already in fashion. It makes them an elite community, the ones who really live the life of the original Christian community. And so they become a kind of core of the Church, in their own minds.


And perhaps also, to a certain extent, in reality. If they really live that life, obviously there's a big danger there. Because they can easily become Pharisees. You know, we're the ones who rule the world. The real thing. We know the law. We live according to it. We don't know any other Christian ideologies. We're not quite there yet. That's much harder to do nowadays. Because of the critical thinking of the Church right now. And you can see there's a certain grain of truth when it comes to this thing. A certain grain of truth in sensing the value of community and how one realizes that the essence of Christianity is being a full participating member of the community. Because the community outside may be rather diffuse, like in a parish.


Okay, we'll go on with his third question now. And we'll fight for the next one, okay? Because he gets into the relation of monastic life and religious life. So help the three of us once again. 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, world without end.