February 1st, 1983, Serial No. 00547

Audio loading...

Welcome! You can log in or create an account to save favorites, edit keywords, transcripts, and more.


AI Suggested Keywords:


Monastic Orientation Set 2 of 2

AI Summary: 





Today we want to do Scheme 10 of the Constitution, which is concerned with monastic relation. Before we do that, we heard something from Claude Piper. This is from an article in his book called Rule and Life, which was published by Mrs. Sturgeon at one of the Sturgeon symposiums. Forming men today for life according to the rules. It's good for us to think a little bit about what formation is. The word itself, which has become so traditional, is not as simple as it sounds. What do we mean when we say form simple? The trouble with that word is it sounds like you're molding something. It sounds like you have an external shape that you want to impose on somebody. There's a certain amount of truth to that. There's a kind of stage of conformity, which is also built into a rule,


a very practical rule, like the law in the Old Testament, which is doing something which comes from outside of yourself, basically. It's conforming your will and your life to something that comes from outside. And the word formation certainly suffices to cover that. But that doesn't take it all away. That's not the whole of the process. And then we find also that that's not being done all the time. The formation is partly talking and listening. It's partly studying. And then there's something that goes beyond both of these. There's a kind of entering into an experience where there's something which happens very gradually and very deeply and permeates the whole of our being, in which we may be quite unconscious of because we don't see it happening. It's not out in front of us, but it's in us. And we can't perhaps say exactly what's done it, but it's not easy to talk about the agents and the causalities in the process


because it's a whole process. But as they say today, it's a holistic process. It involves a total person. And it's not only a matter of the initial formation, of course, but that extends to the whole of the monastic life. You can say that the monastic life itself is essentially formative, but that's what it's about. Formative or transformative. Remember when we were talking about those two notions years ago. So, in early monasticism, as a matter of fact, they didn't have a separate period, always, when formation was done. See, the illusion in our life would be that in the beginning you have a period of formation, and then you simply live after something like that. But obviously the monastic life is a formation throughout itself. So the formation that you get in the beginning must be kind of a formation to formation. Here's Pfeiffer's thought. The term monastic formation designates the entire process


which is involved in a man's becoming a monk. The epithegment of Patrum relate an appropriate story about the great Macarius of Egypt. After many years of effort, he had reached the summit of perfection, and he quite sincerely declared that he had not yet become a monk. Now, then he tries to structure it. He tries to find a structure in it. And this is what he comes up with. He says there's an obvious parallel between formation for the Christian life in general and formation for the monastic life in particular. There's been a lot of attention given to catechetics and to the preparation for the sacraments just recently, in the past 10 or 20 years. There's a new ordeal for the baptism of adults in the catechumenum because before it was these stages. So they've given a lot of thought to the preparation, the initiation into Christian life. This is the background that he's coming from here, even though what he writes is before that. They just worked on the catechumenum, didn't they?


And talking about monastic life. He says, there seems to be a general agreement that the process of becoming a Christian, and this too is a process never finished in this life, involves three things, instruction, formation and initiation. Instruction is concerned with intellectual formation, the imparting of those facts and truths of which every Christian must have some knowledge. This is not all that's involved in the process. This is what we're doing here, this part of formation. Becoming a Christian, however, also demands formation in the sense of acceptance of a new set of values. So he's equating formation with the acceptance of a new set of values. This, perhaps, is a narrower view than our scheme is concerned with because our scheme is embracing all three of the processes that he's divided into. The first one is directed towards the mind.


The second is directed towards the will, he says, rather than the intellect. It involves the shaping of a man's full outlook and behavior according to Christian standards. Is it directed to the will rather than to the intellect? It's certainly directed to the heart. It's directed to, perhaps, the heart and the will through the intellect, not because you're involved with values elsewhere in the mind. The apprehending of them, even attaching yourself to them, is also a matter of the mind. There's nothing proper to Christianity, however, about instruction and formation thus understood. The same might apply equally well to any philosophical or ethical system. So he puts the specific characteristic in the third phase, or stage, or level, both for Christian formation and for monastic formation. What is decisive is the factor of initiation, introducing a human person into the mystery of the personal fellowship with God. This is the noblest element in the process, for it touches the heart of the mystery.


God does not reveal merely an abstract set of truths or an ethical code corresponding to the first two phases, but himself. If we use the term formation in the restricted sense explained above, then I don't know what term ought to be applied to the whole process, he says, of which formation is only one part. Restricted sense would only be that set of values. I think we're using the term in the erotic sense. Perhaps if we cannot find a comprehensive term, it would be better to call it initiation, both because this is the most important factor, as well as the most elusive, and because the traditional use of this term to describe the sacramental beginnings, because of the traditional use, to describe the sacramental beginnings of the Christian life in the world. In any case, it seems to me that these three elements of the total process must be taken into consideration in the initiation of man into the monastic life, analogously to the general Christian initiation. You know, baptism, confirmation, and the Eucharist are known as the sacraments of initiation


because they are the sacraments which bring a person into the Christian life, bring him through the door of heaven to the center of it. In the early Church, there seemed to have been, and there's also still in the Eastern Church, there seemed to have been a ministry of close together, a ministry of continuity. In the Western Church, confirmation has been detached from the Eucharist. Sacraments of initiation. Now, that says something because initiation is sacramental. In a sense, if it's something that penetrates the body as well as the rest of us, the total person's concern, the fact that it's sacramental, that it's concerned with the sacraments, somehow signifies that. And what a sacramental initiation is, thinking of it from one point of view, is moving from the surface of the sacraments, in which they are symbols, through the understanding of the sacraments, to the kind of experience of the sacraments. There's a kind of process of the three levels there,


in which you move from the surface symbol, which represents something, and which also has a sense body, a bodily body, through a kind of understanding. And then the understanding is where we enter the core of the thing, which is where the Holy Spirit lies within the sacrament, and where you actually experience and understand and touch and feel, but in a thorough way, what you're doing, somehow physical way. Now, the monastic life is comparable to that. And on the analogy, you'd start out with external things, or you'd start out with external practices that you do, in which are contained in the rule. Because you can't make a rule about interior realities. You can't make a rule, or a law, about piety, or about the love of God, in spite of the fact that you finally know where you're going. Only about external things, that you can sort of check on when you're busy. And then there's an understanding, gradually, that seeps into us, a deeper understanding,


and then finally, there's a kind of transformation, a transparency in the experience, that the experience is there from the start. And that's what makes it possible for us to move, move, it's not really total, it doesn't come from all of us, until you take the core. And of course, the core is already there, until you take the tool. It's very difficult to talk about this, because it's not geometrical, it's much more mysterious. And notice that initiation deals with a mystery. You can talk about instruction, in terms of something which is obvious, in terms of acts, doctrines, and beliefs, which are pretty clear. You can talk about formation, in terms of a known form, or a known approach. But initiation is essentially initiation into mystery, which is something that goes beyond our rational faculties. And so it is, especially in the monastic life. You can say that among the vocations in the Church,


the monastic life is a vocation which heads straight into the mystery. Okay, let's, now the Vatican II documents, and the post-Vatican II documents on formation, are very conspicuous here. In fact, a lot of this is a tissue of quotations from some of these documents. The chief being this Renovationis Causa, which is abbreviated RC, which came out in 1969. It's good for me to read a little of the introduction of that to you, to give the setting of this new formation document. If you want to see the old constitutions on formation, find chapter 58 of the Rule of St. Henry, and then the declarations that follow. It's declarations 279 through 320, and you'll see how it was in the period, and the changes that came out. Some of the changes are changes in the rules, actually, changes in the structure, for instance, the lengthening of the possible formation period,


but the deeper changes are kind of the philosophical changes. The four documents that are of concern are, first of all, PC, you'll recognize that, that's Perfecta Caritatis, and that's the Vatican II Decree on a Religious Life. You know what a religious life is. ES is Ecclesiae Sancta. These are all in this binary documents of Vatican II. They're not all in Abbott, which was only the Vatican II documents themselves. The third one is Renovationis Causa, which is on the renewal of formation itself. That's RC. The fourth one is Venite Seorsa, which is on the contemplative life, and on the cloister in particular. The one that concerns us most is that RC is directly on the renewal of formation. The first part of the Constitution, or the Scheme 10, is taken straight from there, in a straight quotation in the introduction.


Let me outline this introduction for you, because it's kind of important. I want to see what you're learning. While it is true that the state constituted by profession of the Evangelical Council, that means the religious state, has no bearing on the hierarchical structure of the Church, it has an undeniable relevance to a life in holiness. The point is that there are kind of two lines in the Church. One is the hierarchical structure of the Church. It's the bishops and the priests and the magistory and the official doctrine and teaching and legislation in the Church, and the other line is the line of religious life. Now, they dramatize this more in the Eastern Church, the separation of those two. For instance, Clement, when he writes about the monastic life, he says that that's the line of the Spirit, whereas the official Church, the teaching Church, is the line of the Word. In the Eastern picture, the word Trinity became parallelism of the Word and the Spirit. But here we're finding the hierarchy, the one line relating to the other one,


and how does that work? It is the task of the Church's hierarchy to make wise laws and regulations for the practice of the Councils, whereby the perfect love of God and the Holy Ghost must remain uniquely. For the function of the hierarchy is to feed the people rather than the individual pastors. This is a quote from Henry Jensen, or a reference to it at least. Notice the problem here. It's this perpetual tension between institution and parallelism, or between law and Council. Notice that there are the commandments. Well, you can make laws about the commandments, can't you? But can you make laws about the Councils? How does that work? That's what the doctrine is saying. Because the Councils are kind of free things that you take up if you want to, which go beyond the law in some way. So, they're trying to explain how that happens. In response to the urging of the Holy Spirit, the hierarchy accepts the rules proposed by eminent men and women, in other words, the founders. So something has to be submitted by people freely to the hierarchy, and then they approve it.


But it doesn't come from the hierarchy, that's the point here, OK? This working between charism and institution, charism and structure. In this case, the impulse comes through, the charism comes sort of out of the ground, and then the hierarchy approves what has been proposed, and then it provides a structure for a doctrine. This gets us a little beyond the question of formation. OK. So, the importance of the formation program in religious life, and the need to renew the legislation for it. Now, this came from the out of the soil, in a sense. That is, it came from the religious communities themselves, who saw the need to update the legislation. And what they want to provide, actually, largely here, is room for experimentation, and then to give some ground rules for that experimentation, so that it can be sound. It's evident that no new clear and definitive legislation can be formulated except on the basis of experiments carried out on a sufficiently big scale,


and over a sufficiently long period of time. That's kind of a new point of view. Allowing for experiments, where it's even possible that mistakes were made, in order to find out what has to be done. In other words, a kind of humble confession that you don't know beforehand whether something is going to work or not. So you have to make room for trial. So that's why they make the new legislation, to broaden the canonical rules of law enforcement in order to permit these necessary experiments. Okay. The Church is aware today, more than ever, this comes from perfected character, that the formation needs to be progressive, continual, and adequate. There's a weight to all of those words. But I think that the... In other words, there's been kind of a weakness in the formation. There's been kind of a discontinuity. Or disconnecting between the various phases.


And there's been a lack of progressivity. The picture that you get is that of a kind of a smooth curve, a smooth ascent, something like that. Rather than something jagged from above, which had occurred in many cases. For instance, you get the example in the active congregation of somebody who was given a contemplative formation for a couple of years on a bishop, and then thrown out into the active apostolate. An abrupt change which leaves him completely disoriented. Because his formation didn't prepare him for what he's doing. It was a totally different thing. And it doesn't continue when he gets into the apostolate. There's a break, there's an end to it, because it's so busy. And that kind of thing. It's easier, of course, in the monastery to preserve this continuity of formation. The renewal depends upon all, above all, on the formation of the members. The revision, norms for revision of existing legislation. To make a better adaptation of the entire formation cycle,


first of all, to the mentality of the younger generations. That's kind of a surprising thing to find. It used to be the expectation, well, the mentality of the younger generation had better adapt itself to the legislation. But here it is, movement in the other direction. And modern living conditions is also to the present demand of the apostolate. And here's the other side, remaining faithful to the nature and special aims of each institute. That word institute is kind of a deadening one to apply to a community, a congregation. It has to be a general rule. Also persuaded that the complexity of today's circumstances doesn't permit establishing a priori. So, a priori means from the outset. It means you sort of get it from what you already know, from your head. Which of them has to be best adapted? So they have to be learned by experience. So, they give our congregation scope to do that, and then in this scheme it says how to do it. And here's the principle,


which is also very much influenced by us. The postulancy. It has to be more gradual and extended over a longer period. It includes these phases. The postulancy, which is a phase of preposition, of preparation for the novitiate. The novitiate in the years following the first temporary one, which is ordinarily made after two years. A simple profession is the first temporary one. First the postulancy, its purpose. To help the candidates to adapt to their new situation and study their vocation. Take a look at number 6, which is on page 57, and compare it with the purpose of the novitiate. The difference is rather subtle. The principal purpose of the novitiate is to bring the novice to understand and to experience the fundamental demands of the monastic way of life in which he will one day make profession.


It somehow focuses more on initiation than it does on, perhaps, instruction. You see that the center of gravity has changed, but it's not a very obvious change. If you read those two paragraphs kind of carelessly, it would seem to say almost the same thing. The postulancy is partly, largely, a time for somebody to figure out whether he really belongs in a community or not, and for the community to convince him. The novitiate involves a kind of probability that the person belongs there, and therefore is more in the line of actual formation. This is the theory anyway. In a community like ours, which is a small community, at present, without an abbess master, it's hard for us to really separate those phases so that they operate in different ways. You see, they require a lot of specific, particular attention, which is really not able to be given. However, that kind of progression is kind of natural in the person himself, subjectively,


since you don't get too much help for it. Should permitted judgment upon the aptitudes and vocation of the candidate, as well as a verification of the extent of his religious knowledge and formation. Notice that the question of judgment, of discernment, is more prominent here than it is during the novitiate. We've got these two things going on in both phases. Discernment and formation. Discernment and preparation. In the postulancy, the discernment is apt to be more. Discernment, judgment, verification, those words are used. Whereas in the novitiate, it's more a question of actual formation. The extent of his religious knowledge and formation, see, that's a problem. It's a problem in Italy, but it's much more a problem in the States, where you get people coming into the monastery who really don't know their Christianity, they don't know their Catholicism. They haven't had a position. Terrific gaps in their education.


So, that has to be verified. But the postulancy is the time when that should be done. Then you get people who are unconverted, of course, from another orientation, which may not even be Christian, and who are just grasping the first rudiments of Christianity intellectually, and trying to enter the monastery level at the same time. It's a bit of a problem. And the postulancy really may not be long enough to settle that problem. But it can be lengthened up to two years. Necessary to assure the presence of the qualities of human and emotional maturity. I don't know whether that was such a big problem in past generations, as it is now, but it's a big one now. Because the big thing is that people come into the monastic life with some kind of negative motivation, either with a very inflated ideal, with an unreal dream of some kind, or, and the two go along together,


or really running away from something, rather than going after something. There's a way of running. You have to decide whether you're running after something or running away from something. And, of course, there's some of both. If you're running away from the world towards God, the positive motivation has to be there. In other words, if the negative motivation gets the upper hand, there's a delicate thing. If the negative motivation gets the upper hand, the pattern of movement afterwards is going to be a negative pattern. That's the trick, you see. And there's a kind of a watershed between those two orientations of life. The defensive, contractive, fearful, and sort of regressive orientation, and the more expansive orientation, which is really a decision, there's an option between those two. Of course, our life is not one simple point, one simple sort of sphere, but it's a whole horizon. You can move forward in one direction, and sometimes go back in another.


But that's a key question for monastic life, you see. It questions the whole monastic location at its core, as well as the value of a monastic life, of a monastic location for people. Does it really help them to regress, or does it help them to grow? That's the question. That's the modern challenge to monasticism. In certain more difficult cases, recourse to the counsel of an expert psychologist should be thought advisable. This paragraph, finally, reads as follows. It doesn't say much more than this, does it? If, in certain more difficult cases, a superior feels that the free agreement of the subject and who should have recourse to the services of a prudent qualified psychologist,


not whose moral principles are desirable in order that this examination be fully effective, it should take place after an extended period of probation, so that you can get a better idea of how the person was experiencing life. But this does not really conform with the practice, because psychological testing is a universal thing, in religious and non-religious terms. Sometimes it's done before the person comes, and sometimes it's done after some formation has taken place, as if that's when we do it. It's comparable to the medical examination. Just as necessary, perhaps more necessary. And so the practice is far beyond what we find here. Duration of the postulancy. From one year to two years, basically,


depending on how it's going. It doesn't have to be the same for different people. Sometimes it's disadvantageous when people come in at the same time, and then they begin to look at one another and feel superior or dependent on the length of their probation periods. It should take place within the same community, if possible. That is, within the community in which the person is going to make probation in life. Because he's supposed to be experiencing that community and getting integrated into that community. But it may happen in another community, if necessary. Or even outside. That seems like a real strange thing. A real strange thing. No, it's there. It's in our seed, number three. It's preferable that this probation should not take place in the novitiate house. It could even be helpful that Weider and Hohler and part of the organized outsider house of the Institute. What's the rationale behind that?


I think they want to give people a kind of very gradual introduction into the life of the community. And you've got to realize that there are different communities. In non-monastic communities, as I mentioned before, the way of life in one of their ordinary houses can be really pretty far out in terms of the imbalance between the prayer and apostolate or the individualism of the people who live there. So they really need a formation situation that's much different from that. And they may even need to create a special kind of environment for people who are not ready for their formation. Not ready to come into that. How do we explain it? Sometimes they'll have them experience different facets of their life when the apostates are there. They'll have them go around to different houses and so on. I can see that maybe, with an African, they do that. This isn't it. It doesn't have much sense for a Catholic community. Not for a monastery.


I'm trying to think if there's a case where that might need to be done in our... We're not going to be able to... An active community is different because you don't make the visit for one house. So it belongs to the whole order. So they might want to give it more varied experience, a special kind of experience. But for us, it's not... They left it in there so it could happen, but I don't know why they want to do it. I think another reason why they need to see the active community is to help the hostility outside so that they can get to know the person as he's operating in the world before they complete the mission. Is that the reason?


Sometimes they want the person to be himself so that they can see him, know him that way, before he begins to kind of change, as you say, artificially, in the artificial environment, in the more relaxed atmosphere than it would be in the formation situation itself. Another community... So the idea kind of in general would be to avoid that special character of a formation program, a formation environment, so that we get to know the person more like he's going to be afterwards, actually, when he's out in the ordinary life. During... Let's see...


Being trusted to the direction of an experienced monk, he doesn't have to be the novice master. Frequently he will be there, especially in a small community. If he remains outside, he's to have contact with the community, of course. He has to be 18 years old to be a postulant at Monastery 21 in the mountains. The prior and the master is supposed to decide on the acceptance of postulants and to inform the community about them. It used to be that the community would vote even on acceptance to the postulants. The difficulty with that is that they don't know the candidate very well. Most of the community, a lot of them, would solemnly profess to be devoting them, only it's sort of seen in... They would vote a couple of times during the year. For admission and things that are necessary. Examination by a physician. Now the... While not required canonically by the Constitution, the psychological exam is on the same level.


Next paragraph, somebody who has some illness that doesn't come out at first and who deliberately conceals it can be dismissed after profession. This is a legal thing, a juridical thing that's been put in here. The thing has been broadened even further so that if somebody acquires some kind of illness after a simple rise, which renders him unsuitable for a permanent rise, then he can be STV, even though he didn't hide it. Okay, number six, number five, getting back to what the Postulancy is about. To aid the young man grow towards an ever broader and deeper vision of the Christian life. You see, these specifically monastic elements don't get so much accent during the Postulancy. It's a matter more of the Christian life in general, the real foundation, as well as the fundamental elements characteristic of monastic education. And then the examples. Certain participation in the community life take place gradually.


That's been a change a lot from community to community. In a big community, you may have a sort of separate group in the Postulancy, but in a community as small as ours, you can't really do that, even if it were desirable. It used to be that the novitiate, for instance, here would be quite separate. That's the reason why there are cells over here. That's good to know. We should have cells over here, separate from the Postulants. But really, they try to establish a life which is separate from the life of the community. It would be a separate way for them. The philosophy has really changed from then to then. Also because the formation used to be considered in a very vertical way. A novice master was doing a formation, but now it's considered in a sense that the principal agent of the formation, the principal factor is the community, is the life of the community, the life itself. In the Hermitage, while you're initiating somebody to solitude,


he has to have a sufficient experience of community life, so that he may come better to know himself and his greater human and spiritual maturity first. That self-knowledge, which is more than knowledge somehow, it's also the acceptance of who one really is. It's coming into the truth in a certain way. Try something like that. Okay, the novitiate. The purpose of the novitiate. Here it zeroes in more on the demand, on the commitment itself. And so the professional vows begin to appear behind the point. In response to that personal appeal of love, where Bhushka has called him to live his baptism, the connection of the monastic life, the monastic profession with baptism used to be called the second baptism. And it's not a separate sacrament, the monastic profession. It's considered to be a way of orienting oneself


straight towards the fulfillment of one's baptism. It gets tricky when you talk to a monastic people, try to use that language. Conditions for its beginning has to have a degree of maturity to meet him to respond with sufficiently free and responsible choice. It means he's not doing it sort of with an avalanche of determination, his eyes closed, and his teeth. Or because it's the only thing he can think of to do it. Or because people have pushed him in that direction and he's never really figured out for himself as to whether that's his vocation, whether that's what he wants to do in his deepest heart. And to be responsible means to know what you're committing yourself to. Now the vote. The deliberative vote of the conventual chapter, that may be surprising.


For the admission to the novitiate, that deliberative vote is important. Remember, a deliberative vote means that the vote decides. So that if a majority of the community in the chapter votes against the candidate, then he's not accepted. And the prior can't put him in. As with a consultative vote, even if a majority or a negative person could require you to have the power to admit him to the novitiate, that would be a very risky business. Because you don't really want to bring somebody into a community unless there's a community exception. It doesn't go directly to the future. A deliberative vote appears here at the entrance to the novitiate, and once again for solemn profession. At that point, it's a two-thirds deliberative vote. Two-thirds majority is required, so it will skip. The one in the middle for simple profession, surprisingly, is only consultative. And in the history of the Constitution, this has moved back and forth. At one time, it was deliberative for simple profession,


and not only consultative for solemn profession. Okay, the qualities necessary. To enter the monastic life in the form in which it is lived in the community. That's important. It's partly a matter of the harmony of the individual, the way the individual integrates with the community. It's not kind of a measuring against abstract norms of poverty and chastity and prayer and obedience and things like that. Is it working for this person in this community? It's like grafting on a limb or something like that. It has to be an organic movement, not just shaping up to certain norms. And it's only a beginning, really, so the promise that they will be able to arrive gradually. The aim, I wish, is to grow progressively, understand, to grow and understand. Okay, now the intellectual part, what Pfeiffer calls instruction.


Besides the ordinary spiritual gatherings in the community, whether it be chapters or whatever, regular form of school, the sapiential study and meditation of Holy Scripture. One form of study of Holy Scripture is the more academic form, the technical form. Nowadays they talk about the critical study of the Scriptures, like the critical historical form of the Scripture. The technical study of the Scriptures, that's not what it means. The sapiential study of the Scriptures is trying to read the Word in depth, in a way that the Fathers and the monastic brothers used to from St. Gregory to St. Berman and so on. And that's something that is kind of peculiar to the monastic life. The monastic life should be the place where that really exists, where it really goes on. You don't find it much in the world. You don't find it much in the parish, for instance, that kind of reading of Holy Scripture. There's a tradition of it. There's a certain acquisition that's already been made


of wisdom like that in the Christian tradition. The person then has to rediscover it, has to unearth it for himself. And then there's always something new. The insight is always better, fresher, so to have it. Comprehension of the liturgy, and those two are both initiations. The initiation into Scripture from the surface to the depths, to the heart. The initiation into the liturgy from the surface to the depths, to the heart. The tradition of monasticism, especially on this point, the meaning of consecration of God in the monastic life. Those who need it can also be given some other studies. In other words, ones that are not directly linked to this monastic area. This is in a runabout known as Chalcedon Church. It used to be said, and still is, I imagine, a runabout, that certain studies are excluded during the bishop program. You can't start, you know,


the priesthood studies during the bishop program. See, that's what they used to do. If they were in a hurry to get somebody out into active work, something like that, they'd start preparing for the priesthood, for the ministry while they're still in the bishop. So they'd start invading his formation time, the spiritual formation time, with practical step-by-step. And that's what the law must have been like. Here's something to that effect. Excluded from the novitiate year are all formal study programs, even in theology or philosophy, as also studies directed towards the obtaining of diplomas from the Bureau of Professional Training. But there may be certain studies which may be useful for the formation of novices. Doctrinal studies must be put into service of the loving knowledge of God and the deepening of the life of the poor. So there might be some borderline cases. What would be a borderline case? If somebody wanted to take a course


in the technical exegesis of Scripture, that's a borderline case. Whether you can really consider that it integrated itself into this kind of formation, or whether it should be made. Or language studies, and so on. The people who are supposed to teach harmony of the poor and the monastic. The monastic community is a very important function of the formation of novices. In fact, it's a kind of key. The responsibility, therefore, of all of you, the relation between the community and the novices, fraternal charity, family spirit, is very important. It could be conceived in the wrong way, because a monastery is not a family. It should be a family, rather than a duplicate. And the privacy. That means solitude. Why do they say privacy, particularly?


Besides the ordinary, and this is true of all of us, there's a dimension of privacy in our lives. I think it seems to point towards a kind of patience with the person who is finding his way in the community. A patience which means that people should leave him space to work through, to work out the problems that he's having as he's entering the community. And also should leave him that space of interiority which he may not yet be able to defend for himself. So... Now that would have been before accomplished by separating the novice from the rest of the community. Here the novice is not separated, so absolutely from the rest of the community. Very sharply. And so this kind of thing has to be said. It's a matter of individual sensitivity, consideration. Harmony and charity between


the prior, the community, and the master. In short, sir. Master of novices. He's appointed for a term of three years. Now the chapter of obedience is most of the offices are only for one year. The prior's office is every six years. The novice master is every three years. Sometimes the seller would also be elected for one year. Most of the offices are for one year. The reason for that is that you need a continuity of information. You can't change the novice master every year and have people sort of, you know, between two horses. A kind of tradition of formation needs to be built up. He has to be a priest. That's still in the canon law. And there have been some exceptions. The Trappists have asked and received exceptions from that, in a couple of cases at least. And probably the exception will be In fact, the novice master at Gethsemane is Brother Giles. And so are some other


American Trappist ministers. Probably the exception will become more common. Now, of course, there are some orders in which it doesn't have to be a priest, obviously, because they're orders of brothers. In fact, denominations and active congregations are teaching brotherhood, and so are in the church. The reasons why he may have had to be a priest before had to do partly with education, and also, I think, with that sacramental or, even though the novice master is not supposed to be the ordinary confessor of the novices. In his selection, testimony of life, spiritual preparation, educating the boys, he's sampling his teaching, so it sounds like what they say about the abbot who lives in India. The master in his relations with the novices is simplicity and friendliness, kindness and respect for their personalities, so as to create an atmosphere of confidence and an interior openness. It's in the view of the Oriental generalists, of course,


who give to these things. That's really, it's a beautiful parable. What's indicated there, the kind of atmosphere, the kind of climate which is indicated by the bishop, in which it's his responsibility to create the atmosphere as far as he can. So you can have an initial formation which is very rigid and sort of tense and exact and sort of military. You can have that. And some people prefer that because it's less threatening. In a way, it's less threatening if you don't have to open yourself to anybody and you just do the rules. And sort of it's become an athletic contest in that way. And you're only really dealing with yourself, pretty much, and then there's a kind of abstract rule where there's a more friendly communicative atmosphere and there's a possibility of it's really going deeper and the formation's going deeper.


Of the heart being open in a way in which the heart can be very calloused in the other way about it. In which you work with the will and the body itself. Also it has a lot more to do with Christianity than the last book. Act in such a manner as to help the novices to form themselves both the human spiritual and the laws of growth. Each independent community, fully autonomous community, has the right to its own official. We found that in the other scheme, I think in Scheme 2. Preferable to novice make his trial there. However, it may be preferable to have a common novitiate for several communities. The reason being, the typical example might be where you've got in Italy Fanta Avalon and Monti Giova You can understand it if Fanta Avalon and Monti Giova set up a common novitiate. You can even understand that they sent their novices to Camaldi.


The trouble is, the likelihood is that they wouldn't get them back because they would be won over to the more vigorous community. And that's the pity. Communities can reach a point at which it's no longer possible for them to attack the whole of the candidates. The candidates will come there depending on their similar performance. They can't do the formation themselves. They will come back to that state in the formative community. Fanta Avalon is somewhat in that situation. A lot of these things are obvious. Somebody permits a novitiate elsewhere to be in contact with them. It's the removal of the master as to be considered these grave cases. A novitiate, in order to be canonically valid You know the difference between being valid and something being illicit. If it's not valid, it means it doesn't exist.


A marriage which is not valid is not a marriage. If it's not illicit, it means it exists but it's not appropriate, it's not perfect, it's not kosher, it's not equivalent to the law. So it needs to be rectified in some way, but it exists. And so it is with a novitiate. It has to last for 12 months. It used to be that that was so strict that if somebody made his profession an hour early, and the novitiate was invalid and he had to do it over again. It used to happen sometimes. People would have sweat running down their throats. They'd made a mistake. It was even after that because it's sensed, see that came in with the Code of Canon Law in 1918 that you have a temporary profession in between. So it's even since then. It was funny the way they put those things with a kind of vengeance and a kind of joy. It was like it had a special value if you made it like that.


It was a game. It was a kind of a playful thing but it's got a stink to it. Absences from the community. Now it's more flexible here. You see some spaces have been made. Absences from the community which exceed three months make the novitiate invalid. So that's quite different from now. Less than three months. You may be asked to make up the time or you may not. These things are detailed. A formative period outside of the community during the novitiate. What would be the reason for that? Maybe somebody maybe you discover in the middle of the novitiate that somebody has really never learned how to work or has really never faced the reality of poverty or the existence of poverty in the world or some other basic reality of life. So you break the novitiate


you don't invalidate it. Maybe the novitiate atmosphere is simply turning into himself too much. Maybe it's totally invisible. You see all of the what would you call them, safety valves and other escape hatches that have been put into this. A lot of this RC this new revision of the formation legislation is concerned with that kind of thing. Creating these spaces for flexibility. As well as to lead him to discover in the concrete circumstances of life as he wants to think real life. If he hasn't really faced life and if he's getting too unreal I think everybody becomes unreal in the novitiate if he gets too unreal you send him out with other thoughts of reality. Yes.


Yes, exactly. If he's been at school all his life he's not too unknown. It's hard for him to relate or take that kind of career into his own. But also because the big danger in the monastic life really is the illusion, is building an artificial world around himself. If you see a person awake I don't want to give him a shot of some kind of you don't want to be harsh. Okay, the other things on time which are mostly common sense things. At least every six months the community and the master during the novitiate


would together examine the progress of the novices. So there may even be a vote. But the vote is not called for as it was. The vote was required in the earlier constitution. Here it's optional. When the novitiate is finished the prior presents him to the conventional chapter for a consultative vote. So that means that he consults the chapter. This is kind of surprising. In fact, you find some things in the constitution that obviously aren't quite proportionate. And I suppose this is wrong as to the community only being consulted on whether the novitiate has been successful and whether the placement vote has been passed. You can't get everything into proportion as much as you can as much as you can. Because this is a serious step for the novice, I suppose. It modifies the common law. The common law, I think, calls for a deliberative vote. Common law means a canon law. The new canon law is out,


but we don't have it yet. Well, the new Romans. Romans, they've done away with the domestic action. They're coming to close this out. It's a past state. That's the problem with Romans. The first profession may be anticipated. For all kinds of little reasons, you know, so that Mother can be there or something. Why don't I take this? This will surprise you. During the novitiate, the candidate shall continue to wear lay clothing. In other words, they don't wear the hat of it until it's in their profession. Now, that was very strange for us, and so we asked for permission to give that a majority. Because that sign of identity is important, at least for us. She'll wear the coral habit in her liturgical celebrations. Now, that would mean some kind of, like the mantle,


in the day of profession, they shall receive the monastic habit. Now, that's fine as far as the sacramental signification is concerned, and as far as the tradition is concerned. Because that's what happened in the Lewis and Benedict, isn't it? After your year's novitiate, then you receive that habit. And from that day on, you had made, see, it goes with the profession in the sense that it's like your skin, you have to make your profession. So does the tradition. So it's fitting that when you make the commitment, you receive from your skin a receipt, a receipt of the habit. However, that makes a person wait, in the present situation, makes a person wait an awfully long time. Two years, in that case, before you receive the habit. That's the thing that you could discuss back and forth, exactly what the habit does for you, you know, the meaning of the habit, and therefore, how best it should be employed. But for us, that's not quite what's important, really.


The habit is also a bit of a help in living the monastic life, because it helps you to learn a new personality. It helps you to remember who you are. And to act accordingly. In other words, with a habit goes along another behavior. We find ourselves behaving a little differently. Not just because you can't walk someplace, you can't make those quick moves. The risk is, of course, that it does contribute to illusion. There's always this risk on the other side, that the habit makes us adopt a completely artificial way of life. But along with the habit, we adopt an artificial personality. That's the trap. Okay, property. Before the temporary profession, a novice lets go of his property. He doesn't have the control of his property, I feel like. If he has a million dollars, he gives that million dollars to somebody to take care of, to administer for him.


He gives it to a lawyer. He doesn't have to give it away. He can have it administered for him. When he makes his solemn profession, his permanent profession, he has to get rid of it. So, he either gives it to the poor or gives it to his family, or gives it to the community. Sometimes that happens. Whatever occurs. The use and use of fruit. Now, the use of fruit is interest, dividends, income. The fruit. At the end of the trial, simple profession for a three-year duration. Then you can renew the vows every three years or for a shorter time. Usually, the vows the first time are for three years and they have to be renewed for a year at a time after that. Until the permanent profession is made and the solemn profession. Solemn profession can be made no longer than nine years after the simple profession. So, let's look now back and add it up.


If you can have nine years between simple profession and solemn profession, that adds another three years up to where it was before this document, R.C. That's three years more than it was before. In the time of St. Benedict, you made your renovation. You came in the door after a week of being mistreated outside. You made your renovation for a year and you made your final profession. Now, it's nine years plus a maximum of four more years, isn't it? Because you can have a two-year renovation, you can have a two-year posthumous. So, a possible 13 years to make up for nine. Plus three months. Send him outside for three months. If there's a doubt, he may make a public promise. Now, this promise was an innovation


of this R.C. It was a kind of experiment itself. Now, I've heard that it's been done away with. I'm not sure. We've never used it here. Over it, it became the norm. They used the promise instead of the simple promise. Because they wanted to make it more gradual still. They didn't want to bind people under what seemed like a heavy load. An irreversible load, you see. So, they left a critical history guide or something like that. So, they allowed something lighter. But the people here have always had the sort of impulse and motivation to have a stronger commitment. So, they used the promise. Also, if everybody's making simple vows and somebody makes a promise, then he's up to feel a little stigmatized. It's hard to have both of them going along. I asked the question, what's the difference between vows and promise? We won't get into that much. What's the difference between vows and promise?


The theological difference between the two. We can talk about that at a time when the question of vows is understudied. Promise is made for a period of three years. It's parallel to the vows, but it's supposed to have a lighter character to be less irreversible. Let's quit there for today, and we'll finish up next time. And we'll have ourselves books. I think a little of this spirit in monasticism. I think a little of this spirit in monasticism.