Audio loading...

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


AI Suggested Keywords:

AI Summary: 





I started talking about the heart this morning. There's one topic that I had to, if I had to choose one for a retreat, I'd choose that one, I think. Because somehow everything, everything focuses there. It brings us back home, and it's the place where man relates to God. Where we find our own center, and at that center, we find the presence of God. It's the central spot from which you can take the road to any of the other subjects when you talk about spirituality. Now, we were talking about a return. Remember, return to the self, return to the center, return to the heart, whatever you want. We ended up with the notion of the return to the heart. And it's an introversion, we find. It's a going inside, an entering in. And I find it very much reflected in the letter to the Hebrews, those couple of chapters near the beginning of the letter, where the writer is comparing the situation of the Christian with the situation of the Jews in the desert,


of Israel in the desert, and he's talking about entering into the promised land. And he's talking about a couple of things at the same time. He's talking about entering into the promised land and entering into the Sabbath, the Sabbath of God. As if the days in the desert were the six days of work, or the six first days of the creation, or whatever. And to enter into the promised land is to enter into the rest of God in some way. And you have to have some notion of the Jewish idea of Sabbath to see what's being talked about. The Sabbath actually is the kingdom of heaven for them. The Sabbath is the kind of suspension or transcendence of the laws and the labor and the troubles and the shadow of death that we live under in this life. You remember how the letter to the Hebrews quotes Psalm 95, the psalm that we used to be very familiar with because it was in the editorial every day in our vigils. I don't know if any of it can be in yours too, I think. Today, therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, today when you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.


On the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers put me to the test and so my works for forty years. It's a question of hardening of the heart. And there's a curious double meaning here about this entering in. It's an entering into the promised land, an entering into God's rest. It's also an entering into the heart. And later on it turns out to be an entering into the sanctuary also. The Hebrews begins talking about Jesus as the high priest who penetrates, remember, through the veil of his flesh into the inner sanctuary of God. So this entering in has all of those different senses. It turns out it's an entering into God and it's entering into the center of ourselves at the same time. Where your fathers put me to the test and so my works for forty years, out in the desert. Therefore I was provoked with that generation and said they always go astray in their hearts. They have not known my ways. Because going astray in the heart is somehow the same as hardening the heart. As I swore in my wrath that they shall never enter my rest.


Now, this hardening of the heart has something to do with the word of God too. You see, today if you hear his voice, harden not your heart. What Saint Benedict is asking us to do at the beginning of the rule is the opposite. He said, listen my son and incline the ears of your heart. Open the ears of your heart. Take care, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called today a today of the psalm, that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we share in Christ if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end. It's really something the way Hebrews pushes together so much here. He says, as long as it's called today. And what does that today mean? As long as God is speaking through us. And we remember that the liturgical sense of today, the Eucharistic sense of today, of a moment of time which has been extended through all time,


by the passion and death and resurrection of Jesus, so that the classical mystery is like a shaft which runs through all time and connects one time to another, so that the whole of history is an enormous today and really endless today that starts from the beginning of the salvation history up to the end, up to the end of the world. And that shaft somehow passes through the point of the cross, passes through the classical mystery. And if we find that point, if we find that central point, we are in the same today. You may remember the psalm, and who is it where God says, today I have begotten you. That today which is somehow the eternity of God, which has come into time, come into history, a shaft of, here we think of light, a shaft of eternity which has come into time and made itself available. Made itself available where? In the heart of man, so that in entering into your heart you enter into that today. And yet that today also is somehow outside that. The Sabbath is that real eternity of God which has come into it.


And yet that today somehow echoes, also outside of the Sabbath, also outside of the promised land, the place of rest. So it's still called today. I may be abusing a little bit the letter to the Hebrews here, but you get the idea. Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest remains, entering the Sabbath, let us fear lest any of you be judged to have failed to reach it. As I swore in my wrath, they shall never enter my rest. Although his works were finished from the foundation of the world, for he is somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way. And God rested on the seventh day from all his works. And so on. Since, therefore, it remains for some to enter it at rest, and see how he joins the rest of the promised land immediately without even explaining it. And those who formerly received the good news, the Jews in the desert, failed to enter because of disobedience. Again, he sets a certain day, today. Today, when you hear his voice, do not harden your heart.


For if Joshua, the one who led them into the promised land, had given them rest, God would not speak later of another day. So then there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For whoever enters God's rest also ceases from his labors as God did from his. Let us, therefore, strive to enter that rest, that no one fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any tool. So this idea of entering in. We enter into the heart, we enter into the sanctuary, we enter into the promised land. Somehow we enter into God. God has opened himself up to us. And opening up to us the kingdom of God within our hearts, in the New Testament. And in the letter of the Hebrews, it's as if you've got the New Testament inside the Old Testament. You're living time. You're living history. Just as the Jews did in the Old Testament. And inside that history, at the core of that history, inside of your heart, is eternity.


Is timelessness. Is that today. Which somehow, as I say, radiates. Sheds its light also outside of the kingdom. Outside of the eternity within your heart. I was thinking, it's as if there are two writings in the New Testament which express this relationship of outside and inside. Of time and eternity. Of Old Testament and New Testament. The letter to the Hebrews and the first letter of John. If you read the letter to the Hebrews, you get the idea of this pilgrimage through history. This patience, this suffering, this discipline that we heard about today. Remember? And he's talking about the discipline of having to live your life under the chastisements of ill fortune and persecution, whatever be your life. But this pilgrimage, this kind of journey through the desert, in the letter to the Hebrews, and talking about entering into that rest, talking about the inside, the promised land, the heart, the sanctuary, the kingdom. And it's as if written from outside.


And then take the first letter of John, and you've got something that's coming from inside. St. John is writing from inside that rest. He's writing from inside the promised land. He's writing completely from inside the heart. He's writing from inside the kingdom. He's writing from inside God. You don't get an idea of timelessness, a sense of timelessness in the first letter of John that's the complete, not the opposite, but the counterpart to what we're reading about in Hebrews. It's the New Testament inside, which is the heart, as it were, of the Old Testament. The eternity, the timelessness, the illumination, the communion, the koinonia, the fellowship, the very life of God, which is at the heart, in the core, of the time of our lives. So you see the relationship between Old Testament, New Testament, and our own life in its exterior time aspect, the history of each day, the history of each year, and the whole of our lives, the journey of life.


And inside of it is kingdom, is rest, is Sabbath. Let me read just a few passages from the first letter of John to make it more clear. The letter to the Hebrews says, You have still to enter into that rest. But John is there. The author of this letter is writing from there. There are other people who write from there, too. And when we talk about the heart, this issue of the heart, that's what we're talking about. In fact, the whole of our problem is how to get in there, and how to stay there, and how to live from there, how to live from that place. The beginning. I'll repeat it to you again, because, as I say, you never read this too often. That which was from the beginning, that which we have heard, we have seen with our eyes. Now, this is the exterior appearance of the Word. But then, concerning the Word of life, the life which they manifested, and we saw it, and testified to it,


and proclaimed to you the eternal life which was with the Father, and was made manifest to us. That which we have seen and heard, that which was outside of us, that which appeared in Jesus, we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son, Jesus Christ. And we are writing this, that our joy may be complete. There's a transition there from the exterior appearance of the Word of life, which comes in Jesus, which is seen, heard, touched, and the interior experience of that fellowship. And now, Jesus has gone in bodily form. He's left the spirit. He's left that glory that He talks about in John 17, when He prays to His Father. And He's about to leave, after the Last Supper. He's left that, and John is writing from inside of that. He's writing from inside the experience of that. And this is as it were, God's rest. And it's just a sense of peace, and a kind of ocean of love that He's writing from, which pervades this letter.


And now, little children, abide in Him. It's not a question of entering in anymore. It's a question of abiding in Him. You're there. So that when He appears, we may have confidence, and not shrink from Him, and shame at His coming. See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God, and so we are. This has happened. The reason why the world does not know us, is that it did not know Him. The world is outside of this. The world cannot enter into this reality. Remember how Jesus talks about the comfort of His to come. He says, I'm going to send you another paraclete. I'm going to send you another helper, another consoler. And you're going to know Him, because He's going to be in you. But the world can't know Him, because it can't see Him. And the world only knows what it can see. But you're going to know Him, because He's going to be in you. He's going to dwell in you. And in the same way, you're going to dwell in God. It's a question of dwelling, a question of mutual indwelling. The reason why the world does not know us,


is that it did not know Him. The world only knows what it sees, what it has. And you can't see God with your eyes. You have to see Him with your heart. Even in Christ, you have to see the God in Christ, with your heart. That's the gift of faith. Beloved, we are God's children now. It does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, or we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who thus hopes in Him, purifies himself as he is pure. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the Brethren. He who does not love remains in death. A passage from death to life is the entering in. It's a passage from a position not necessarily completely of death, but a position of ambiguity, into a position of non-ambiguity. A position of being inside love, inside grace, inside Christ, inside God. This question of abiding, the term abiding is fundamental. All who keep His commandments,


abide in Him. All who keep His commandments. He said, abide in My word, and dwell in My word. All who keep His commandments, abide in Him, and He in them. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit which He has given us. So this abiding, this dwelling, has to do with the mystery of the Spirit. When Jesus is on the earth, there can't be that dwelling there. There can't be that penetration. There can't be that participation. There can't be that mutual, one being in the other. Until Jesus has gone and sent the Spirit. Because that's precisely the mystery of the Spirit, the dimension of the Spirit, is to dwell in God, and have God dwell in you. And He says, we know that we dwell in Him, that He abides in us, by the Spirit which He has given us. St. Paul talks about the same thing in Romans, Romans 8. The Spirit in our hearts, that tells us we are the sons of God. Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God, and knows God. He who does not love, does not know God, for God is love.


This business of knowing God in this way, is a matter of dwelling in God, because one dwells in love. And this is love. Not that we love God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the expiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No man has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. To dwell in love, means to dwell in God. To have this love dwelling in you, means that God dwells in you. Once again, it's a question of being inside something, inside this communion of love. He also kind of makes the point that if somebody sins, and breaks out of that communion of love, moves from inside to the outside, talks about the grave. We know that anyone born of God does not sin, but he who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him. See that sense of being inside and being sheltered somehow, from that which is outside.


The evil is outside, the inside. It's not the question of ambiguity. Not the situation of being tempted, and buffeted, and sort of in-between, if you have it in a letter you read this. One is inside. We know that we are of God, and the whole world is in the power of the evil one. You see, once again, you're inside this reality, speaking, living, experiencing, from inside of it. And the world is outside, and the world is living in the power of the evil. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding to know him who is true, and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ, inside. St. Paul writes about this, like I did, like I did, dwelling in Christ. Whenever he uses the expression in Christ, this is the true God and eternal life. So we are in the true God, we are in eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. And what are idols? They're those surfaces which deceive us, which allure us, which attract us outside. The things that you see which pull you outside of that rest, of that kingdom. The inside is to dwell in the heart,


is to dwell in love, is to dwell in God, is to dwell in the light, is to dwell in peace. Always a dwelling. And if we dwell in this, whatever you want to call it, then God's love's in us. It's inside of ourselves, it's inside of God. And it's the mystery of the Spirit. So when we talk about the heart, we're really talking about the Spirit. We're really talking about the dimension of the Holy Spirit, the third dimension, as it were, of God. And in the end, there's not that much we can say about it. We sort of circle around it and talk about it, but it's a matter of experience and not of words anymore. Somehow, sometimes the words can a little bit extend to the experience. It's worth walking around it and talking about it, as the letter to the Hebrews does too. It's an interiorization. It's a moving inside. But we've got to be careful because you can absolutize that, materialize it.


You can believe that the spiritual life is just a matter of going inside. And for a person who has an introverted tendency already, that can be kind of dangerous because it's not a pure withdrawal from the world. You have to find a balance, an equilibrium between the inside of your life and the outside of your life. And the trouble is, it can lead to a kind of sick spirituality if you consider the business of prayer or of the monastic life simply to be introversion, simply to be moving inside. I read a little while ago in a book about spiritual direction that somebody's saying that the sign of mental health, of psychological health, is to be able to integrate the inside with the outside. And I believe it. To be able to integrate your inner life, the life of the heart, as it were, or the spiritual life with your external life. Now, an unbalanced life is when you get the two out of filth. You get the two out of joint, out of coordination.


So the person lives entirely sort of, what do you call it, a bubble of subjective spirituality and he's unable to relate to other people. Or he lives an introverted life of piety or of prayer and remains completely immature on the outside. Unable to cope with life. Unable to deal with other people. And so what begins to be an attraction to the presence of God in the heart ends up by being a flight from life. It starts out with the grace of God and ends up being pathological. It's a big risk. And we see a lot of that in the people that come to our place because when you're looking for solitude you're looking for what? Imperiality. You can also be looking for an escape. You can be looking for withdrawal. And so, now, when we come to the monetary for the amicus, we've all got a mixture of those two motives in us, at least most of us do. And gradually, gradually, gradually there has to be a purification and a shifting out


and a continual discernment so that the right one takes over and not the wrong one. So the person can gradually withdraw until he shuts himself off and becomes completely sick in a apparently very holy way. It's a real danger in the life of solitude. One of the benefits of community is it doesn't allow you to do that. If you have to confront your brothers, if you have to respond to life, and if you have to work, then it's not so easy to go off your ass. It's not so easy to let the inner life get completely out of coordination with the outer life. And to get into the illusion, that's what a person is doing ultimately, getting out of touch with reality. Reality means other people, reality means yourself, but we can deceive ourselves about it the way we relate to ourselves. And reality means things, it means work, it means function, you know, operation, the real thing. Whether it be trees


or a concrete block or whatever. But that makes it too real. A person can flee into work just as well as he can flee into the interior, into prayer, and that's another thing that has to be, that has to be watched. But somehow the flight into the interior, the flight into solitude is a little more dangerous, because it's a blind alley, it's hard to pull somebody out of it. It's hard for the person himself to detect it, because it tends to confirm itself. So we have to be a little cautious when we start talking about this kind of thing, about moving towards the heart, moving towards the interior, moving towards the center. We don't want to have a single target, it's that other side. And there's the fact that in the end there has to be a return to the world in a certain sense. We see the same thing in Thomas Merton and there's a kind of withdrawal and a kind of return, and there's a kind of a deeper withdrawal


and so on. There's a process like the beating of the heart, a process of withdrawal and return. And remember, in the Christian reality there's a process of dying and then a process of resurrection. And the process of withdrawal is a little bit like dying. The process of introversion is a kind of dying to outer life, to the life of the outer personality. But then at the end there should be a resurrection and a return. Maybe not completely lived out in this life, but it should move in that direction. Christianity is not Hinduism and it's not a movement out of a world of delusion into a transcendent world of reality. Christianity is a death and a resurrection and a reaffirmation of everything that's created. A reaffirmation of one's own body, a reaffirmation of a natural world, a reaffirmation of one's brothers, one's community, the whole thing. Sometimes you see


an attitude in religious and novices and young monks especially which doesn't recognize that and you have to watch it because then it can be an escape. But there is an introversion and there's a parallel process in the word and in man as we move from the exterior to the interior. We move sort of from the exterior life and consciousness of man to the interior and an interior life as we call it begins to develop the life of the heart. We move from the exterior of the word to the interior of the word and this is what the Fathers liked to talk about. Remember we were talking about those four senses of scripture? We found it in passion, we found it in origin also. Where you move from the literal sense which the Fathers like to call the shell or the husk or the rind the skin of the word of God to the interior of the word the fruit or the heart of the word or the core or the juice


or whatever you want to call it. The word of God is being like a nut and the nut has the meat the important part inside and then it has the shell and you have to break through the shell to get to the core. It's a little bit the same with us. We've got to break through our shell in order to get to our heart. Our heart is not naturally open and we have to break through the shell of the word of God in order to get to the core and the two things go together. It's like this entering in process in the letter to the Hebrews. The entering in to the kingdom the entering in to the word of God in to the heart of man. They all somehow are parallel and take place at the same time because it's with your heart that you understand the spiritual sense of the word. It's with your own interior that you understand the interior of the word of God. The head the exterior mind is enough to get the surface meaning. And so people can spend their whole lives studying the literal


sense of scripture. Biblical scholars they can remain on a very superficial level just trying to tie down the historical facts and the exact literal sense of the scriptures and never really penetrate the core of it. It's the tragic truth. It happens with some of them. You can lose your faith studying the Bible at Florida. You can lose your faith and lose your vocation studying scripture. Now how can that happen? Because there's more than one way of studying scripture and you can do it on the surface. You can lose the heart of the scripture by losing yourself into the surface meaning and all the questions that concern it. Especially today when there's such a proliferation of linguistic sciences and so on and archaeology and history and so on. And then thirdly there's a movement towards the heart of God as it were from the outside of God, the kind of external knowledge of that to the interior of God and


what's inside God. Remember what St. Paul says and we're being crude when we talk about the inside of God but somehow there's truth in this. What's inside God? St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians and we heard it yesterday that the spirit plumbs even the depths of God, even the deep things of God. So for what we know what's inside God is the spirit of God and what communicates the interior of the altruist is the Holy Spirit. And what's inside God somehow is the life of the Holy Trinity. The outside of God is the philosophical God, is the one God, the God of the philosophers, remember? The inside of God is that fire that Pascal talks about which is the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob and he didn't have any other word for it but just fire. That's the inside of God. And it's the Holy Spirit. It's the mystery of the Holy Spirit that communicates the interior, as it were, of God, the personal reality of God, the heart of God, to our own heart.


Just enter again once again. The word heart is so common that you find it used, you know, in every, in every tradition on every side from romantic and sentimental uses to love songs to love oriental religion. Here's a quote from Carlos Castaneda. This is Don Juan talking to Carlos or whoever and it's a question of discernment and this is a pretty, a pretty impressive text. He's telling you how to choose a path, you know, among the various spiritual paths and disciplines and things that you can pick up. He says, to have such clarity, to discern, you must lead a disciplined life. Only then will you know that any path is only a path and there is no affront to oneself or to others in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you to do. So discernment somehow comes


from the heart. But your decision to keep on the path or to leave it must be free of fear or ambition. I warn you, free of those ego things. Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself and yourself alone one question. This question is one that only a very old man asks. My benefactor, must be his teacher, told me about it once when I was young and my blood was too vigorous for me to understand it. Discernment is difficult for the young because they're too passionate. Now I do understand it. I will tell you what it is. This is the question. Does this path have a heart? All paths are the same. They lead nowhere. They're all on the same level, all the disciplines, the techniques or whatever. There are paths going through the bush or into the bush. In my own life I could say I have traversed long, long paths but I am not anywhere. My benefactor's question has meaning now. Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is


good. If it doesn't, it is of no use. Both paths lead nowhere but one has a heart, the other doesn't. This business about the paths leading nowhere would require a separate discussion. One path makes for a joyful journey. As long as you follow it, you are one with it. The other will make you curse your life. One makes you strong, the other weakens you. What's he talking about there? What does he mean when he says does the path have a heart? It is a question of whether you are one with it or not. It is a question of whether it makes you one or whether it divides you. It is a question of whether you can follow that path with your heart or whether you cannot. And for us it would be a question of whether the Holy Spirit is leading you on that path or whether he's not. If he's not then you're going to feel that conflict. It's like St. Ignatius' rules for discernment, remember? Does this impulse, this inspiration, this path give you peace or does it have a certain violence about it? This experience of a certain


kind of conflict where your heart doesn't go with something even though you may want to do it. That's the betraying sign. Does the path have a heart? If it does it will make your a joyful journey. As long as you follow it you're one with it. If your heart is okay to be one with something then and if you're going in the direction of your heart, if you're going with your genuine heart then you can be joyful. To the degree that you are going in the direction of your heart you are free to be joyful. To the degree that you're going against your heart you can't be joyful. You're constrained. You're a slave. You're still somehow outside. You're still in captivity. You're still under some kind of law. And more than that there's a kind of a fear there which is a fear of a fundamental betrayal. One makes you strong the other weakens you. One makes you joyful the other will make you curse your life. leads to a kind of desperate


bitter frustration and anger and inner conflict. The conflict of being at war with one's own deeper self. The conflict of being at war with one's own center, with one's own core, one's own heart. And basically fundamentally ultimately the war with the Holy Spirit, the war with God speaking within one. If it's a true clear discernment. I wouldn't recommend him necessarily as a spiritual guide. What goes on in the heart? It's the place of the criterion of discernment for one thing as we hear from our friend just now. It was also the place of the knowledge of God. Remember Hosea in chapter 2 where God is speaking to the prophet and he says, therefore behold I


will allure her and bring her into the wilderness and speak to her heart. The original says speak to her heart. It's a matter of going into the desert somehow to speak to the heart. It's a matter of going into solitude, going into emptiness somehow. Once again we get this conjunction of the heart, the entering in with the desert as in the letters of the Hebrews. Going to lead her into the desert and speak to her heart. And then there's another part of the Hebrew world. And I will make for you a covenant on that day and so on. And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and justice and steadfast love and mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness and you shall know the Lord. So the heart is where this takes place all of this. Where the covenant is made, the betrothal and where that knowledge


of God is partaken of. That knowledge of God is given. In Jeremiah 2 we keep going back to the same passages because there are knots in which so many threads come together. This is Jeremiah 31. This is the covenant, once again a question of a covenant, which I will make the house of Israel after those days. Now this new covenant is a covenant of the heart. It's a covenant of the heart, not a covenant, not an exterior covenant. And heart means interior once again. Betrothal means spirit. And I will put my law within them and I will write it upon their hearts and I will be their God and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor and each his brother saying know the Lord for they shall all know me from the least of them to the greatest is the Lord for I will forgive their iniquity. Remember this. So this knowledge of God, which consists, which constitutes


the new covenant somehow is received in the heart, is known in the heart as the place of it. The passage that I remember before where we had that same business about not having, not needing an intermediate or teacher was the passage from Origin. Remember where he calls that the kiss of the word. The kiss of the word is somehow an experience of the Holy Trinity. When you understand the word of God by yourself, without having to get an interpreter for you, where it begins to light up or to expand or to sprout within your own heart. And that's the knowledge of that as seen in the word of the Lord, issuing from the word of the Lord. The Holy Wisdom. You might talk about it in the Wisdom books. Luke talks about that quite a bit, the notion of the knowledge of God that as the hearing of the word, according to Luke, and his book teaches to pray, the


word and the heart have a kind of a relationship, a mating relationship to one another. That one is made for the other. This is on page 38 in the following pages in this sort of microscopic edition. Speak, Lord, to the heart of your servant that my heart may speak with you. This is the whole amazing mystery of God's word coming once again to its fulfillment in our heart. For a time our heart may slumber on, but God's spirit is already present within it. An unbeknownst to us is crying out to the Father. The same spirit of God is present also in God's word that comes into our heart from outside. Our heart is best reached by way of the word of God. There are three things that he talks about continually in this book. One is the heart, another is the word of God, and the third is the spirit. There's a kind of a trinity there. There's a trinity in heaven of Father and word and spirit. So within us


is a kind of trinity of heart and word and spirit. And we remember once again that trinity of sacrament and word and spirit. The sacrament being the physical thing for it. The heart somehow is a sacramental reality even though we can't see it. We'll talk more about the anthropology of it right after this. From the very outset there exists an affinity between the word from outside awakening us and the spirit watching and waiting at our speaking heart. The heart of man was made to receive the word and the word adapts itself to the dimensions of the human heart. The one is therefore the other. The word is sown in the heart. And then he refers to the gospel parable, the parable of the sower. Remember the seeds are sown and the good earth, once again, is the heart. It's ready to receive the word. But for that the heart must be cleansed and made ready.


This is punctuated by New Testament references continually. But when the word of God accosts our heart then suddenly and quite unexpectedly the one may recognize the other thanks to the one spirit who is present in both. If the word is made for the heart, let us say the heart is made for the word, the heart is also made for the spirit sometimes. The heart and the spirit are married in some way. It's the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God which makes the new heart which is the core of our know existence. A bridge is made, as it were, between our heart and the word. From heart to word the spark is transmitted. Between the spirit lying dormant deep within our heart and the spirit who is active in the word, the spirit in our heart is dormant, asleep. A fruitful and vitalizing dialogue begins. Engendered from an imperishable seed, a text that we quoted from 1 Peter, the heart is born again of the word. We recognize


in the word as in a mirror our new countenance. By it we become witnesses to our rebirth in Christ. The hidden man of the heart awakens within us. So the word penetrates to the very depths of our being like a sharp and two-edged sword cleaving between soul and spirit joints and marrow and generating new life in us. The word lays our heart quite bare. Now and only now can our untrammeled heart really and truly proceed to listen to God's word. Deeper and deeper it penetrates. Word and heart mirror each other and come to resemble each other more and more. The heart is aware of itself now as a new organ with new senses and a sensibility previously unknown. And at the same time, of course, one penetrates within the word and finds the heart of the


material exterior and then it's got the spiritual interior. According to Loup, also, the heart is the place of prayer. He talks about it as the organ of prayer in this book. He says that man has to have something to get him praying and God has given him an organ for that and that organ is the heart. And then in that article that he had one time in Cistercian studies about the place of prayer, he calls the heart the place of prayer. I didn't forget to bring it along. The place where we have to go and we have to enter into a kind of desert, he says, to get to that place in order to find the presence of God in prayer. It's a place of participation in a way in which we find that we are somehow in God, a place where we discover that we really exist only by existing in


Him, rooted in Him. It's that place. Maybe that's as long as I should continue this evening. I'll have to carry on a bit with this tomorrow. I wanted to talk about that one of those texts that we had read to us in a lecture today from Thomas Merton. That experience that he had at the intersection of Louisville. It's a good experience of the opening of the heart, of the intending of the heart, and sort of that new sensibility of the heart, which finds all people to be one really, which discovers the unity. Merton talks about the true self, you know, and the true self is discovered as we enter into the heart. Let me just read that passage and leave it with you, and then we can talk about it tomorrow. The couple of pages that follow his account of that experience are worth reading too. I think Jan Inning in the article, he just gave a brief paragraph


that described the experience itself. In Louisville, at the corner of Forth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another, even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world, the world of renunciation and supposed holiness. This whole false business that we build up in order to give ourselves a certain status, in order to give ourselves a certain identity, the sort of shadow side of the religious life, the monastic life, in which we use it for our own self-support, we use it to confirm our own identity, to give our ego something to let down. It dissolves at this point when we enter into the heart. The shell is broken. The shell of the ego is broken. The shell of


the sort of self-affirmation and self-confirmation isn't needed at this point. The shell of the egg is broken as the life comes to manifest. It was like waking from a dream. The whole illusion of a separate holy existence is a dream. Not that I question the reality of my vocation or of my monastic life, but the conception of separation from the world that we have in the monastery too easily presents itself as a complete illusion, the illusion that by making vows we become a different species of beings, pseudo-angels, spiritual men, non-material life, what have you. Instead he finds within himself a unity that makes him feel himself one with all humanity within himself. He doesn't know anything about it. He doesn't know that there is a good, sad, beautiful ugly place they are. He doesn't know anything about it. He found that sense in the center of the heart. He probably was concerned by all of the over-exaggerated


piracy that was in his head. But that's what he thought. When he talked about the true self, which is the person outside of your heart, that's the biblical part of what he said. Although there are a bunch of other things that were true, but he didn't say that. He said spirit of his was something that he had experienced before. A lot of it is theophanic recluse. They talk about it as being the prayer of the heart, and the idea is that the prayer, you start reciting it, you start saying it externally with your lips, and then it gets going in the heart, and it becomes self-operating. It continues, it becomes sort of automatic in your heart, and yet it's not quite automatic.


And it's synchronized in some way, either with the breathing you're doing over the heartbeat, or likely with the breathing which itself is benefiting the heart. So it becomes a kind of interior prayer, which as Callisto's work calls it, a self-acting prayer, a self-acting prayer, which becomes prayer operating in you. Luke talks a lot about that, even when he's not talking specifically about the prayer of breathing, but prayer of the heart. They talk also about the union of the mind and the heart in this sense, that the mind enters into the heart, the mind descends into the heart. Which doesn't mean that you turn off your mind entirely, that you just go blank, but rather that the mind is drawn into a simplified state in which it's sort of attracted into the warmth of the heart, and it moves there, but it moves, as it were, not distractedly, not sort of jerkily, like our thoughts usually move. It doesn't go way out, it doesn't have to follow a train of thought. There's sort of a circular movement, a circular movement within the heart.


The mind descends into the heart, and that, for them, is a kind of decisive threshold in spiritual life. See, a thing that recruits us, by the way, are much to be desired. That's when a person is able to maintain continuous prayer, and the mind has to remain in the heart. Of course, that can happen for a little while. I think it happens fairly often for people, for a short interval, when they're in the chapel or something like that, and they're drawn into it. In the old days, it would have been called a prayer of quiet, but the mind enters into the heart with a kind of recollection that you don't have to work at, but then you lose it after a while, and you're drawn out again, drawn out into the world, and the senses take over, and you have to enter into battle. Yes? In conclusion, can you talk about affirmation? When you're in the spiritual life, how do you feel when you're in the heart?


Can you talk about that? Yes. Yes. What happened to it? Oh, yeah, yeah. Somehow, that's his answer to the whole puzzle, to the whole problem of yoga. And his answer is to say, you're never going to understand me and my ways. Look at nature, and if that baffles you, why? How can you expect to understand my ways and all of these things that you're requesting? That seems to be the grip there.


Was that the way that they interpreted it? Yes, and the relationship to it. Yeah, if you relate to nature, for instance, already that's something, because nature pulls you out of that dangerous kind of introversion. And somehow, it makes you healthy. It's just like breathing fresh air. To relate to nature is parallel to getting fresh air into your lungs in a way. In that it just brings you back to a reality which is outside that sick subjectivity, which is our problem very often. It's the problem of rotating inside of ourselves, of a wrong kind of relationship with ourselves. And so many things can get us out of that if we let them. People are the best thing, ultimately, because people what? People can relate, can break through that thing of the heart, and even though they make demands upon it, they establish the most intense relationship with it, which can have the most


healing effect. But what do we need from people? We need, first of all, affirmation from people. I guess the House of Affirmation is partly built on that principle. They get together into a community so that they can affirm one another as part of it. The relationships are really important. A real relationship is a relationship that involves the heart. If it's not in the heart, then it's not a real relationship. It's not really a relationship. The trouble with work and things like that is that they can get going outside of the heart. Relationships can, too, but work can be a means of evading that entering into the heart, of avoiding it. With a relationship with another person, you can't dominate it as well as you can a job


or another activity. The ego can't take over completely. It's quite a different thing. You can't dominate it. You have to be open. You have to be vulnerable in a way. To be vulnerable means to have your heart open or to have it available, not to fortify it, not to protect it. We talk about guarding the heart in Orthodox spirituality, but that's something quite different than building a wall around it. It means keeping out the distracting thoughts which would pull us out of our recollection. It's a different thing. It's not like that anymore. The guarding of the heart and the prayer of the heart go together. They're two sides of the same coin. Oh, yeah. Yeah. Yes, somehow he lets himself be alerted that he pauses for a while, and then he goes back


to do it again. But he does let himself be seduced a little bit to watch the woods fill up with snow. It's a beautiful thing. Yes, yes. One hand. Yes. Beauty, to recognize beauty is somehow to have our heart open. The risk is there that it turns into a kind of aestheticism which becomes a self-indulgence which doesn't demand enough of it in some way. A relationship with a person, there's something that that can't do. But the beauty of beauty, in a sense, is that it doesn't threaten us. So, therefore, sometimes it can affect us when we're too defensive of our relationship. Beauty can, as it were, catch us from behind. Although, if we're really close, then it's hard for that to happen.


We're really rigid. Often we can be protecting ourselves so well that we can't let another person get close to us. But still, beauty can do it. Yes, sir. I think a lot of them are in good faith, sure. Whether you talk about, say, the 144 kinds of Christian denominations that there are or the thousand sects that the young people have out in California, a lot of the people are in good faith. They're searching. Sometimes they'll go through one of those to another one. Sometimes they'll wind up with something pretty solid. If they're in good faith.


The whole thing about these things is that. The question is, what has God told me? What word has God spoken to me? How much has He revealed to me? If He has not revealed to me Christ, then I'm not responsible for Christ, right? If He hasn't let me come in contact with Christ, somehow hasn't opened my heart to the truth of Christ, the revelation of Christ, then I'm not responsible for that. So less will be asked of me. If I know about Christ, then I'm responsible for that, if He's revealed that to me. If He's revealed to me the Catholic Church, then I'm responsible for that. And so on it goes. It depends on what word has He spoken to me. For me, that's the only way of solving the riddle of all of these things that are side by side, you know, and people that seem to be doing all kinds of different things, in good faith or bad faith. It's a question of what God has really told to them, and what response they've made to the truth that He has revealed to each of them individually. I don't think we can generalize and say that all of that group is in bad faith,


and all of this group over here, they're okay, but you can go, it's not that simple. If they're in good faith, I think God respects them. I think also there's much, I guess, wrong with them. Those that have the law written in their hearts, even though they're not believers, the faith is different. Yeah. That's putting it pretty strongly, but I guess as an extreme case, it's true. Could be. If you really believe it, sure. Because it's your basic conviction of count. Rahner is very good about this, because he can, with this idea of a transcendent sort of belief,


and then an explicit, a transcendent experience of God, and then another thing is your explicit belief or faith or denomination or confession, you know, you've got those two levels. And an atheist who refuses to believe in God can be sort of a godly person on that deeper level, because his life is according to God, he's responding to, he's responding to God, but he can't accept God or Christ in the way that they've been presented to him by the churches. So, that holds water for the willful one, as a way of dealing with that problem. So, we talk about an atheist who's a, let's forget the terms we're using, there's an atheist who's a person of good faith, and who's more of a Christian, perhaps, than many Christians, many explicit Christians, and then there's an atheist who is really saying no to God, even on the deepest level, and he's life-saving. That's an entirely different thing. Yeah.


You know, it all depends on the situation. If a person is a convinced Jew or something like that, and the church, the policy of the church is not to try to proselytize somebody out of his faith. If a person comes up and says they're all the same as one another, you can, I think it's reasonable to argue with a person, but not necessarily to try to sell what they have their faith for. You've got to see what that individual is seeking, it seems to me. Because he may really be seeking for the life, he may really be seeking for more truth than he's got, or he may be just trying to start an argument. It depends on the individual, where he is, what he's ready for, what really he's seeking in him. Sometimes people want to start an argument, and they are really challenging you in order to find out if you've got something to tell them. They can be very aggressive, but really they're seeking. Some people just want to waste your time sometimes. They'll want to spend half a day with it.


They're not looking for the truth. They're not interested. They just like to talk about religious stuff. Yeah, sure, it's a gift. It's a grace. We can hammer away at people. So maybe prayer is more important than what we say. Yeah, yeah. It's almost...


Exactly. You've got to find that point. In fact, sometimes it's better not to talk about that at all. Because you've got to have it on. He knows what you are, he knows what you stand for, he knows what you believe. If you find out that you're a human being in addition to all that, then you've really got something. In other words, if he can sort of believe in you, that's the way for him to believe in what you are, in what you stand for. You hardly have to say a word about it. If he can appreciate you on a level of human rapport, on a level of human relationship, if you can really relate to him as a person and make him value that, that's about it. People say that like the gym teacher at a Catholic school, that the gym teacher meant to host the students, not to listen to them. Sure. Sure. He never talked about that. Yes. Yes, I do.


Because, I don't know, there's so much talk about God and about religion today. And young people, especially, have turned off on the talk, they've turned off on the words. They want to find either an experience or a person, some kind of a realized person, but not words, not doctrines. There are exceptions to that. The whole thing happens in the heart. If the person is finding that secret way into the heart, in the person's heart. But he's got to know that you're alive,


that you're a person, you know, that you're capable of love. Because a lot of people, the reasons why they're turned off on a Catholic faith are because they, I don't know, they've got crazy prejudices about the Church and about Catholics. Really wild stuff that's been preached to them very often. Especially in some of these things. And so as soon as they find out you're a human being, well, that knocks down half of their problems. And it can be easy from there on. But it takes really a gift from God to convert people. Like, we'll have people living at our place, you know, as workers for years and they never become Catholics. And you wonder why. They're interested and they'll never have one. Our cook just decided, after being there for two years, he's decided to take instruction and become a Catholic. See, there's all these crazy things he's doing. I don't know. But evidently he was too well fed, so.


That's what I'm saying. Okay, shall we continue tomorrow? Glory be to God.