History of Christian Spirituality

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Part of "The History of Christian Spirituality" class





We might begin with a prayer. Come Holy Spirit, fill our hearts and our minds, may the words of our mouth and the meditation of our hearts reflect the mystery of Christ. This we ask through the same Christ our Lord. Amen. So, just to review a bit yesterday, history, that's what we were focused on yesterday. It seems to me also from the discussion this, the various levels of this came out. There's outer history and inner, and maybe we need both of them, and there's personal history and community history, national history, world history. I have my own very intimate history, therefore, but there's also a family history, my family, this family here, all sorts of levels. Wherever there's a human person, there's the phenomenon of history.


There's secular history, and there's also sacred, or rather, salvation history. There's just ordinary point of view of history, and then there's God's mighty acts in special areas of history that render those particular areas somehow a fecund for our salvation. And we've got to do more with that, but it's very important for our faith, the way the Gospel of Matthew begins, remember, just begins trying to set kind of the historical context. The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham, Abraham begat Isaac, Isaac begat Jacob, Jacob begat Judas. It's a very mysterious way for a religious book to begin, instead of meditation techniques or mystagogical doctrines or something. This generation of people to set the context, and then the key moment in the creed, crucified


under Pontius Pilate. This is not kind of some sort of disincarnate, mystagogical, uncyclical sacrifice, but it's that time, in that period, in that place, and that's the whole historical thing. So what did we mean by history? Something like the negatives is that it's non-cyclical, non-reversible, and it's this cumulative dynamic of human events. And this can be, again, at the personal, intimate level, it can be in the outer level, it's creating a level of Christian salvation history. This reality of history shapes, to a remarkable extent, our own point of view, our own most fundamental options. I don't know if you've ever stopped to reflect, what would your life be like had you just happened to be born, say, 2,000 years ago in China, or even today in China, or today


in India? You see, we're born in a certain context, a certain history, our own family has its own history, our own nation has its own history, secular and religious. And we get from that history, our language, our values, our point of view. Sometimes we can jump histories, the phenomenon of conversion. So we are formed and shaped and conditioned by our history up to now, but if we insist on the freedom of the human person, we also have this capacity to shape and form our future history, and it's this dynamic, this tension of what's already been in our conditions, and where we can go from here. This is the human venture, sort of. It's not an absolute freedom, you see. I can't suddenly put myself in 3rd century India, or 4th century France, you see. I can't suddenly make myself a Napoleon.


This is the problem of people with severe psychological problems. I have to move on from where I'm at, sort of one step at a time. I can run or leap or walk, but I'm here because of everything behind has lit up. From here I can do all sorts of things, but relatively speaking, this is all coming. So, salvation history. Each of us has his own personal salvation history, so to render this a little concrete and a little existential, I think it can be a useful exercise spiritually, every now and then, to reflect upon my own history, our own history. This basic obligation of anonymousness, of remembering, Yahweh is constantly telling Israel, remember, O Israel, all the things I've done for you in the past. Many of the songs, these great sublime prayers, are simply a review of all God's acts in salvation


history. So, us, we should remember, and part of our basic problem is that we're often forgetful like Israel. God has acted in our history, and we tend to forget. So it can be a useful exercise, things like a journal, a spiritual journal, or sometimes just on a page, summing up where have I come from when I was coming from Italy here. I found it just interesting to reflect all the places I've lived in my life for any length of time, and just jot them down and think about the basic experience in that place, the basic growth moment, the basic graces, to use a traditional language, the basic problems of that moment, then what came after that, how did it come out of that, how did it represent a change, a moving forward, maybe a moving backward, but just to list places I've been, or to list friends, or to list what I've been involved in, basic points of view, basic values, etc.


You can do it on one page with all sorts of levels, from the most physical to the... And it's very interesting. And then that page becomes kind of an anamnesis, a summing up of my own, hopefully, salvation history. It's the thesis of the Fathers. My own history is a continuation of salvation history. And so that I have to read my own history in the light of salvation history. So it's precisely working up a sensitivity to histories at their deepest level that I think we could understand more the optic of the scriptures, and perhaps understand much more deeply ourselves. Because the temptation, maybe, of the contemplative is to try to switch into some kind of atemporal space, where time just has nothing to do with nothing. But also divine times, it were, not just... Also Kairos, these decisive moments of our own salvation history.


What's the other word, not Kairos, but Kronos, Kronos is just the sort of meaningless running on of events. But Christians and Jews are convinced there's not just Kronos, there is Kairos. So now we can move on to our second key word, spirituality. And to ask what we mean by this. This is the other issue. It's not any kind of history we're doing. It's not a history of the United States. It's not a history of Byzantine art. It's not a history... It's history of spirituality. What do we mean by that? And here we get into very interesting debates about whether this word is a very fortunate word. Maybe it conditions us, maybe it limits us and constricts us to even false understandings about spirituality. We are now in the whole philosophical area, in the era of linguistic philosophy.


Have you heard about linguistic philosophy? Philosophers now say if we want to get a handle on our disputes and our problems, etc., oftentimes we can get much light on them if we'll just analyze very carefully the language you use. Sometimes our debates aren't debates about reality, but debates simply about language. Did we go through the boat going around the boat thing? I thought we literally... This is the classical example that linguistic philosophers use, and it comes out of real life. One linguistic philosopher, Englishman, heard two Englishmen fighting fiercely about this problem. Say, the encounter of the Spanish among the English ships. So here's this huge Spanish ship, and here's this little English ship, and the Spanish ship has much more powerful firepower.


So what this Spanish ship is trying to do is swing around and pull parallel to the English ship so it can give it a broad side, just blast it with the water. Now the English ship knows this trick, so it's trying to maintain the classical T position of keeping its prow pointed towards that. So as this Spanish galleon roars around, this English ship shifts on its axis to keep its point always pointed towards the Spanish galleon. And the Spanish galleon finally ends up sailing around. This is clear what is happening. Now the two gentlemen were debating very hotly whether the Spanish galleon had in fact sailed around the English ship. And one insisted fiercely it had sailed clear around. The other said no, it hadn't sailed clear around, and so they were fighting away. What do you think? Did it sail around and have a go for the Spanish?


No. I would say no. No? Why not? That's just my perspective. Because the relative positions of the two boats haven't changed. Okay. There are relative positions to one another. So I would say it didn't sail around. It didn't. Is anyone prepared to defend the opposite thesis? I think I still can't see you. Just do it. Of course. So this is what happened, you see. Now what the philosopher said is that this is an argument just about the word around, what it means. Relative position. Relative position. Right. If by around you mean it's been to the east, the north, the west, and the south, and described a circle about it, it has been around. If you mean that it's been in front of the ship, to this side, behind it, and to this


side, it has not been around. So what the philosopher points out is this is not an argument about the facts out there. Both were in perfect accord with what had happened, the configuration of the two ships. The argument seemed a real argument. See, that's where the ambiguity is. They're fighting fiercely. It seems to be they're arguing about whether it sailed around. They're not arguing about that. They're arguing about what is the meaning of around. And in fact, like so many English words, it's a fairly ambiguous word. And it can mean either, really, in different contexts. So once they saw that, their whole dispute simply vanished. If you want to say by around that it was to the east, and to the north, and to the west, and to the south, then it didn't go around in that sense. If you want to mean it was in front of it, to this side, behind it, and to this side, it didn't go around. Now, these philosophers say maybe many, many of our disputes, when we scream at each other


and get angry and bitter, are basically about clarifying words we use. See how words condition us, et cetera. There's this Orthodox girl up at Berkeley, Werner. And we started a dialogue and correspondence. Now it's really built up several letters. But I think at one point, we almost got into this sort of thing. I was talking about the model of sister churches. And out of this can grow a space for a pluralism of liturgy and spirituality, et cetera. And it was a long letter. And I just referred to pluralism once. And she, in her letter back, 20 times used this pluralism word. She was furious by it. And she says, this will get us into relativism, et cetera. So from that point on, we could have gone into a whole dispute, pluralism yes or pluralism no. And then I suggested that I was talking not about doctrinal pluralism, which was her big enemy,


but about theological and spiritual pluralism. And it seemed to me, if there's any church or churches where there's a lot of this around, it's precisely in the Orthodox churches. And at that point, she said, yes, at that level. If by pluralism, you simply want to mean pluralism of spiritual emphases or pluralism of religious art or theologies, OK. But we could have gone on for letters about pluralism is good, pluralism is bad. If you can clarify in what way you're using language, that can often solve a lot of problems. Often, language gets us into ambiguities, you see. Language can sometimes, instead of clarify and be a bridge, it can sometimes be the cause of disputes and ambiguities. Is this clear? So now, we've got this word spirituality. And we usually assume, I think, that it reflects and expresses very well what we're about. But some people say, look, it's a very, very loaded word.


It's very constricted. It's implicitly dualistic. You've got your spirit and you've got your body. Remember the whole platonic thing of the spirit is a kind of a prisoner in the body as prison. So the whole thing is to break out of that body. Well, it would seem, perhaps, that spirituality is a word summing up the venture of living Christian faith that is implicitly platonic or dualistic or Manichean in its whole emphasis. That is, if I want to really sincerely live the Christ in ministry, I've got to get more and more and more spiritual and less and less real and physical and historical, etc. There might seem to be that, is this a problem? Do you see the accusation against the word? So some say we should even drop it and try to come up with some other term or series of terms, living the Christ mystery or wholeness in faith or something like that.


And there is so this discussion going on. Another whole area I didn't mention, but almost anywhere in the United States now is an issue, is language and women involved, the whole accusation of sexist language. Women are now saying that if you look carefully at your language, you'll see that it's weighted on the side of the male and against the female. This is something about which we usually don't even think. But when you have one of these women around, you start to be very aware of your language. Terms like statesman or congressman or chairman, you know. Women were allowed to vote just recently, let alone be candidates. So it was just assumed that the chap in Congress would be a male. So it was very... So often we refer about God loves man and the salvation of mankind, etc.


One of these people would say, ah, what are you doing, excluding women? Or are you saying that the... See, the category man is another one of these famous ambiguous categories. It can refer to the male, man and woman, or it can refer to all of humankind. Now, women ask, why do you take a term that can be exclusively male and assume that it can serenely sum up all of humankind? This is the problem. For instance, it's very dangerous using the fourth canon around these, because it's loaded with this so-called sexist language, and now there's a whole movement to change, modify this language. The Anglicans had the counterpart of the fourth canon, but they've gone through very carefully. And with man had gone astray, and God so loved man, all the way through it's man, man, man. When these feminists say, well, are we just left out, or just assumed? There's this professor of petrology up in Berkeley, who's very excellent, and is just by chance a sister.


And she's very interested in the role and the place of woman in the early church. We talk about the fathers of the church. We talk about the fathers of the desert. Were there no mothers? Were there no... Where is woman in this? And she says, it's very interesting, if you look at some of the desert literature, the woman can be sanctified to the extent that she becomes manly. The whole concept of virtus. And so she works through some of these texts and says, to the extent that you become, you know, almost grow a beard, at that point, there is some chance for you. So anyway, that's another whole issue. But the problem of language. Do you have any feedback on that? Are you serene with the... It is an issue out there, I just wanted to communicate this. It's sort of a challenge. So, spirituality.


Is it necessarily dualistic? Is it necessarily platonic, etc.? Any idea, opinions, reflections on this? You're talking about Christian spirituality. So that's Calvin clarifying the word. It's not spirituality standing in the wrong. We do have that condition there, and that's important. That qualification. So, generally I think of it as the way that the Holy Spirit is as at work. No. You know, when I see those four words under that, it's what I think of as Calvin. Well, this is an important breakthrough. We're talking basically about the Holy Spirit. So Christian spirituality has to do with this dynamic pneuma of God, objectively. The real spirituality is the Holy Spirit. So this might be a way to defend this term. And this is the basic response, I think. So it's not a dualistic, my spirit against my body sort of thing.


But it's referring to this fact that it is the Spirit who is the source of our own divinization and holiness and affiliation, etc. And does St. Paul ever talk about the Spirit in the body, etc.? Yeah. And until we get to that point, we have the Spirit battling against the body, etc. Oh, the flesh, right. Right. Yeah. What is the Spirit there? Is it the platonic? No. First of all, it's the Holy Spirit. Then it's the spirit. Then there's the domination of the spirit. But there's an ambiguity there. That's what I was saying. In some ways, they can't go together. Yeah. Yeah. Right. What I've read, exegetes say that Pneuma there, when it's not the Holy Spirit but our spirit,


is the whole human person, body and spirit, tending towards God. And flesh, sarx, isn't the physical. It's the whole person, to the extent that that person is fragile and under the tendency of sin and sort of moving away from God. So this is important. It's an entirely different mindset than the platonic, even though they're using the same words. Here again, you get into the ambiguity that can come from language. And so sometimes a very careful analysis of what's behind words in that particular historic culture and what's behind them in that can clarify a great deal. But it would seem that what Paul has in mind is quite different. And then he talks about spiritual people. He's writing to more spiritual, less spiritual. We should all be pneumatici, more spiritual, spiritually mature. So this is how someone like Boullée will defend the term spirituality. It's really quite fitting and quite biblical and not at all platonic or Manichean or anything like that.


So that we can talk with gusto about spirituality. But understanding it right and understanding that it can be ambiguous, and perhaps has been in the past, it's a very late term, especially used in the plural. It's, I think, just about a hundred years ago they started talking about spiritualities in France. But even the term to talk about, that's a deep spirituality. This is, I think it's just two or three centuries old at the latest. But still, it seems to work taken in the context of biblical theology. What do we mean by Christian spirituality then? What are we talking about? If we say we're going to have a course about mathematics, we delineate our area. If we say we're going to talk about zoology, etc. What are we talking about if we talk about spirituality? What are we excluding? What are we including? What is the specific focus?


Who's eager to give a definition of our field? Henry, how would you define Christian spirituality? I don't know. The immediate, one reason I hesitate to answer is, it is so hard to separate the spirit from the model. It's hard for me to think in terms only of the spirit, so it's hard for me to pin down what is spirituality or Christian spirituality. I suppose, generally, it's just the upward movement of man towards God. The exploration of that movement, how it has come to pass.


And also, concerningly, the way of that, the intention behind it. So we've got man and God, remember our sexist language here. We've got the human person and God, and we've got some kind of attempt to move towards, and the whole issue of means. I think those are the basic components. Human person, some might want to say, do you mean person? Is this too individualistic? Isn't that the whole community? You can start entering into all sorts of debates here, but I think the basic components are there. It's focusing on the dialogue and communion, or living the mystery of God, or somehow you've got to get those three elements together, those three, too, of human family or human person and God, and getting them together. Would a class on spirituality basically be about what? About methods and techniques of prayer, of purification, of sanctification?


Would it basically be about psychological states in prayer and in advancement towards God? This is all very debated. If you get into Boullier, it's fine. Because there have been books on spirituality. They're simply sort of listing techniques. There have been books on spirituality. There have been very careful descriptions of psychological states as you presumably move from one mansion to another or something. I think the monastic heritage wants to insist that it's not just that. You want to hear a whole theology. You want to hear the whole objective component. So this can't be totally cut off from theology or dogma, for instance. But it certainly doesn't want to ignore the whole issue of possible ways of moving towards God


or possible ways, at least, of eliminating the barriers between me and God, etc. But it's interesting to do reflect. What do we mean when we use these words of spirituality and my spirituality and our spirituality, etc.? Again, this is the contemporary endeavor to take our words much more seriously in analyzing what they might imply, what they don't imply, etc. Christian spirituality and specifically the history of it. I think it's fascinating. This is a very, very recent discipline. If you go into a library and look up history of art or history of dogma or history of the popes, you'll find lots of books. If you look up history of Christian spirituality, you'll find extremely few. Even at Berkeley, which has hundreds of thousands of volumes, they have three or four volumes.


And even people who try to work up a whole bibliography, they can only get a very few texts. It's a discipline, in quotes, that's come up just in the last hundred years. And this is fascinating. I think it's interesting to ask why. If you want to study theology, for instance, if you want to study Christology, normally you do also historically. You find out what the New Testament says about Christ, what the Fathers said about Christ, what the Councils said about Christ. Usually this is a real component in any study of theology of Christ, unless it's extremely aridly scholastic and it just ignores this so-called positive dimension. But usually today, in any school, you don't have just the speculative, but you have the historical approach. And so you move through the whole history of Christian reflection on the theology of Christ. And so we've had histories of the doctrine of Christ around for quite a while.


We have lots and lots and lots of them, whole shelves of them. And if you pick up any book on Christology, it'll have a whole section on the history of this doctrine on Christ and that doctrine on Christ. But if you pick up any book on spirituality, will you find a history of Christian spirituality there? Very, very often you won't. And we can have whole libraries of books on spirituality where there's little or no reference to the heritage of Christian spirituality, to how they were praying and living the Christ mystery in the New Testament, in the early fathers, in the later fathers, et cetera. You've got it. Okay. I was just going to say this. I'm reading a big appendix to words of this thing. It's interesting in a way that you went from spirituality and then you picked an example. You went to Christology. You read the New Apostle, the theology of the Holy Spirit.


And then you focus in on libraries, letters, and graces. How much is there of the theology of the Holy Spirit? And then you came back to those. Why did you do that? When we start talking about spirituality, presupposing the theology of the Holy Spirit, even if it's not supposed to be the same person already, and that person wasn't supposed to be the most young, I just said something that I think I've spoken to correctly, aware of the importance of that, to know that there is a Western Christian person beyond the Holy Spirit. If you're going to do it also, I would think you'd want also the historical component of Spirit in the Bible and Spirit out. It is Christian spirituality,


so the whole relation of Christ and Penelma is an issue here, and you do get into real theological issues as soon as you end. It's basically a Trinitarian issue. Also, the Trinity. There is a tract on Christology, a tract on the Trinity. I think usually Pneumatology comes in that way. Not that it's given sufficient space. But also there, I think you'd want a history of that. But I think we have so many books on spirituality we pick up, and there's not even an attempt to get into spirituality through some kind of historical, in the deeper sense, survey of the Christian approach to spirituality. And this is interesting. So we might ask why that. I think we would assume that we can't just improvise here and now a Pneumatology, or improvise a Theology of Grace here, just make it up now, without reference to what the Church has said.


But I think lots of Christians would almost think, I've got to get together a spirituality for myself, this sort of thing, without that much worrying about this whole, and the whole underlined, not just certain little areas that interest me. I feel very strongly the devotion to the Sacred Heart or something. Where does that occur in the whole history of Christian spirituality? Or the Infant of Prague, or whatever it be. A whole book on the Infant of Prague and devotions and prayers. But where does it fit into the larger picture of Christian spirituality? Might be an interesting issue. And, of course, this opens up the whole ecumenical issue of Christian spirituality in the West, in the East, before the schism, after, before the break in the West with the reform, after, etc. So it's a challenge. It's a whole task, I think. If we do it now, this kind of endeavor,


perhaps we can't entirely ignore the modern sensitivity to historic method. That is, I think the Fathers, in fact, when they wrote spirituality, they implicitly, at the least, did it through a history of Christian spirituality. In the sense, when they wrote a tract, it was usually, basically, a meditation on the Word of God. And through the other Fathers that they had read. I'm reading now Cyprian, for instance, on the Our Lord's Prayer. And all he's writing, his own spirituality, as a meditation on the New Testament Our Lord's Prayer, and working through Tertullian's commentary on the Lord's Prayer. And he doesn't cite him with footnotes, etc. But every now and then he just draws in him. Every now and then he modifies him. Every now and then he quotes him without modifying him. Every now and then he leaves him out. But there's an implicit tracing one's history there. But I think we did come to a moment in the life of the Church where that was no longer done. And there was almost a tendency to create new spiritualities


without this effort and certain things. So I think we have to get back to that. And if we do it, I think we have to do it Perhaps... Who's the man who wrote the commentary on the rulers of Benedict? The great Benedict's scholar? Yeah. No? No, the Frenchman who was at Saint-Anselmo-Ritori's. He said he tries to be the monk all the way, and also the modern man, in using the best of the scientific method. But in using it in the realm of monasticism. It's an interesting synthesis he's tried to put together, not to omit the one or the other. So the contemporary interest, for instance, on manuscripts. Is this really the writing as we have it from the author? The whole bit, for instance, Thérèse of Lisieux. We've got her story of the soul, and it's beautiful, etc.


And somebody realizes it isn't as it came from her hand. There's these hundreds and hundreds of modifications made by her superior and another priest. Well, then, the inevitable contemporary interest is, what really did she write? And what really did the superior add? And what really... It might be that the final product is even more edifying and illuminating than the first. But we at least want to know. And we want to know, then, what's the particular gift of Thérèse? What's the particular gift of her prioress? What's the particular gift of that other priest? And how did it all fit together? That's a typical contemporary concern that I don't think you can eliminate. I'd be willing to argue. I don't think we can eliminate it. For instance, Pseudo-Dionysius, all his writings. The whole Middle Ages, East and West, it was assumed that he was the disciple of St. Paul. Well, now, that's very important if that were the case. If it's not the case,


if he's writing in the 5th or 6th century, that's very important to understanding the place, the point of view, the context, the proposal of that writing, you see. So, if you take the historical thing seriously, you do have to do it with a certain rigor. And you can't do it just kind of romantically. You have to come to terms with manuscripts and interpolations and real authors and influences, fonts, all these issues. And this is a real problem with working with many, many of the fathers and many, many of the medieval documents from the East and from the West. We just recently discovered that some of the documents that seem to be of St. Bernard, not really of St. Bernard, but someone else, in this whole business. So it's a constant. Here the scholar comes in, and here the whole area of the modern world in its best, perhaps, comes in.


And I think it does help us also to grow. Not immediately. You don't go directly from a new insight as to the author of Pseudo-Dionysius to a new level of sanctity. You can do the one without doing the other at all. But I think as contemporaries, we don't want to do the other without doing a bit of the sweat of the one, and that might be a kind of a contemporary form of asceticism. And it's always been around in one form or another. Bede, for instance, writing the history of the English, he was very concerned with what manuscripts, what were their authority, were they authentic, et cetera. He did a remarkable amount of work as a monk and inserted into his whole spirituality and attempt to serve God in his own vocation. Comments, questions? Just one thing on that. You mentioned the priest,


you mentioned the priest, and you mentioned Therese, but probably, in some way, the spirit, the spirituality here, is at work also in converging, perhaps, the original to what we perceive. There's also the presence of the Holy Spirit. That's decisive. And here's a whole issue. Also, it's scripture. This is very important. You start talking about Q, et cetera. You start talking about oral traditions that are before the written form, and then you get into the issue where was the spirit in Q and where was the spirit in P in the Old Testament, and where is the spirit in the... Right. And this is an issue. At a certain point, Rome came in and said, look, we haven't canonized the Mother Prior or this theologian. We've canonized Therese. We want to know what she wrote. So, again, it might well be, after a careful reflection, that the final product is more edifying than the first, but many people have been profoundly moved


by the first when they had problems with the final. Then there are others who find the original Therese thing kind of arid and tough, whereas the final is very flowing and sweet. So, there is that issue. But it's an issue that's typically our issue only if we go through that very rigorous work of getting back to the original manuscript. They've now published a good translation of it, by the way, the Carmelite Institute of Studies, ICS. I see you have it in the library. It fudged a little, as they say, because the original document is so tough, and so they put in paragraphs and headings and things according to the logic of what the prioress did. But they tried at least to go back to Therese's language. But this comes up again and again and again in manuscripts and studying spirituality.


Way of the Pilgrim. Who is this pilgrim? It's debated. Is this pilgrim really a kind of a rustic peasant out of Russia? This is one thesis. Is he some kind of very sophisticated theologian at Mount Athos who wants to teach a way of prayer using this literary genre? Or is he, quote, the peasant who's come and talked to the theologian, and the theologian, from what he's heard, has put it together so there's a bit of a one and the other, et cetera. This is a thing that's debated today on all sides. No? I have learned history. There's a number of religious figures in the world. There's a Christian, who's a diplomat in California. And this is trying to remember who he is. As far as he was concerned,


Christian spirituality starts from Mount Athos. Mm-hmm. Well, Mark, Mount Athos. This has a perspective which is something very, very basic. No? Yes. This is spirituality. That's happening right now. This is the New Testament. Everything that happened before is the New Testament. Now, if there's seriously Lutheran, there's now all sorts of ways of dialoguing. There's a Lutheran-Catholic dialogue going on, and when Lutherans hear their best spokesmen will acknowledge all sorts of things, just as our best spokesmen will acknowledge all sorts of things. But they will acknowledge that we have to come to terms


with the whole of Christian history, theology, spirituality, and not make that weird leap over 1,500 years and now 2,000 years. So if they're all just trying to, if the man's a Lutheran, push him as much as you can, seriously, into his own heritage. That's one way to get him to you these days. If he's just some kind of fundamentalist enthusiast, I think you can't push him. Has the Spirit been, what, on strike or sleeping these last 2,000 years? If the Spirit has been at work in the human family, in the Christian people of God, we want to know how and what this has taught us. Now, most Christians of the Reformer will acknowledge this today, and it's a pretty, of course, a person in the first moments of enthusiasm of the conversion. That's not always the best time to, but slowly, slowly, if you keep up this dialogue, keep at this point.


God wills the salvation of all of humanity, even those who lived in the 14th century and the 10th, et cetera. I think we would, but also grant some things to them as our best Catholic theologians are. Luther really had some insights about basic Pauline theology. We are saved by faith, and for Paul, faith alone, whatever that means, and you do get into James and all the rest of it, but a great deal can be conceded to the Lutherans these days through our own best theologians, and the whole thing about the abuse of relics and this whole thing. There's a book in your library, an excellent book by the Catholic theologian, Lortz, on the Reform. And he acknowledges all sorts of things. There were all sorts of abuses, and it was a scandalous position, and apparently, what was the name of that Dominican who was preaching the... Yeah, he literally preached something equivalent to,


put your money in the pot, and as soon as it hits the bottom, a soul will fly out of purgatory. And then Lortz says, there's no doubt that something equivalent to that was being preached in selling these indulgences, and that was a very murky thing. They needed indulgences because there was this political pact between one noble and another to raise money. Oh, because one bishop wanted to add a need to give lots of money to Rome, and Rome needed lots of money to build this new splendid basilica. So the whole thing is murky. So if you get into ecumenism seriously today, fortunately, there's all sorts of things that can be done. My question is more of why wasn't there a history of patriarchy in the past? There's more to that than able-bodied people. The one thing is, people were writing a history of spirituality when they heard about the biography of the monk of a local community, I think. And they were writing about Christ, but they weren't out and they weren't comparing.


In fact, they weren't comparing as a political thing. It seems to me that a big problem there is objectifying spirituality. In other words, you write about it on the inside of your fences and you write about it on the outside of your fences and it's a natural occlusion. But that's not true of the spirituality of Catholicism. It's only one thread that you write from the inside into your own head. To get outside and compare one spirituality with another is simply to say it's impossible. This is a real issue. How do we get outside our own perspective regarding spirituality, regarding anything? But that's a possibility of admitting that there are other things in modern history that are possible that are very different from our own history. Is there another option? Either dogmatic or theological approach to spirituality. Right. That might be another challenging gift of our own modern generations. Would the cosmological evolution of various worlds in 513 make it possible to have


these entirely ever fully facing something like this? One of the problems, for instance, with a more primitive kind of the Protestant or the Catholic or the Eastern is this lack of historical sense. I remember at Lambeth the representative of the orthodox patriarch stood up and he was furious about that. He said, this is against all tradition and our fathers have universally taught, et cetera. And some of the Anglican patrologists, and they were quite up here with quite a history of serious patrology studies, were a little bemused by this, because sometimes we have this simplistic view of the fathers and the spirituality, et cetera, when, in fact, if you do a careful


study, you have an incredible variety. Spirituality is very focused in on the distinction of essence and energies and the Eastern doctrine, and therefore of how this sustains the possibility of real divinization, et cetera. And she's convinced, at least she hasn't said so explicitly, but this has been her thesis implicitly up to now, that the Catholic Church has to be retained schismatic and perhaps heretical, because it doesn't have this. This is a very — I think, I'll have to do my homework more — but I think an explicit working through the real distinction between essence and energies is a little late. I don't think it's in Uranaeus or in the councils of the United Church or — it doesn't seem to be that explicit in the Gospel of Mark or something. So I think as we come up to a more clear-headed sense of


history, variety, development, pluralism, then we can go a little slower again in absolutizing this. It might still be that after she's done all this, she'll still want to insist on this, even if it comes relatively late, even if it comes only in the East and even if it's only been proclaimed as De Fide by, she said, I think, a couple of local councils in the East, I still want to hold that it's necessary to authentic Orthodox faith, and thus the Catholic Church is schismatic if not heretical, and is not a real church. The way our dialogue started, she said that there's only one true church, and that's the Orthodox Church, therefore her function is basically missionary, and I said, well, maybe if we get into a theology of sister churches, then it's more primarily than trying to convert people to Orthodoxy, it would be trying to dialogue, and see if this great scandal of the division might be overcome through dialogue, et cetera. So that's where the whole thing started. But the


historical sense is a whole different ballgame than the ahistorical approach to things. It would be interesting to find out what their conscience was in the fact that they found no borders. Because obviously, they knew about all the rest of this spirituality in the church at that time, and yet they did something which they saw as new, or difficult, and they didn't choose, you know, Francis was very explicit. He was very emphatic about what the United States was looking at, and I want you guys to listen to this and that, I'm very aware that the United States was very


emphatic the States was looking at, and want you guys to to this and that, I want you guys to to this and


that, and I want you guys to be very emphatic about the United was looking at, I think, rather, on the other side, the historian would be aware of newness. For instance, the whole business of the distinction of essences and energies, as our fathers have always taught, since when? Maybe it comes up with, I don't know, in the Ptolemaic period or a little earlier, and not before.


Now, if you've got the historical, my only thing is, rigorously speaking, to what extent inside of Francis's spirit and mind, to what extent did he understand himself as doing something new or as reforming and renewing? He went through Neuchamel, the hermitage. There's a whole bit about the reciprocal influences between him and the hermitage, Gabriel Brown, who's done a great deal on this, etc. So, I would say, and then there's the whole thing of these other groups, enthusiast groups in that period, who were doing things very, very similar to Francis, stressing very much radical poverty, going back to the Gospels without gloss and without... So, the wonder is that Francis is not mistaken for one of these, and that's why the church was extremely cautious, because there were these, what do they call these, enthusiast groups about, and some of them got off on a tangent. But, I would think that the historical


sensitivity would give you an awareness of real newness and real continuities. And where there's a one, where there's a... and it's very complicated. Without presuming to have ultimate truth on this, that is to say, the whole language of causation in history is quite different from causation in physics or math or something. It's very mysterious. Luther represents something radically different and new in one sense. In another, there were Luthers all the way that the Lord traces them. They're all over the place. And our own monks in the 14th century are pleading with Rome to permit the liturgy to be celebrated in the language understood in the people, etc., etc. One thing is the form and the idea of when it's completely new idea, but the other thing is simply the impulse of the spirit, which makes that involve a great number of people, and really makes something about it, in respect to the same-same message. Right, right. It's not just the form. The newness is not only that, but the newness is in the actual phenomenon. Yes. That's what we need to realize.


Yeah. And when you do all of this, then there's always the problem, the filth of product, and where's the spirit in all this? You said the spirit in Luther, and I was a little shocked myself, suggesting he was inserted. Other points? Yeah. From what I gather so far, spirituality has just, over time, become somewhat different. Forms of spirituality are somewhat spontaneous, and they come about because of certain pressures and problems that exist in them. It seems like right now, there's a great possibility that what we do is spontaneous, spiritual,


just as authentic as it has been. Do you see that? I think at one level, yes. Here's the whole issue of spirituality in the singular, or spiritualities in the plural. So that's one issue that we want to go back to. So you have a Franciscan spirituality, a Dominican, a Palamite spirituality, a Syrian spirituality, a Russian, etc. Then you get into the problem, what's the relation of the various ones? Are they self-enclosed compartments? The whole language is wrong. You've got to talk about only one spirituality, which is the Holy Spirit working in us to bring us more and more deeply into Christ, etc. If you go from that other, you'd say there isn't a spirituality that has to burst out now that's totally new.


It's always the perennial one spirituality. But if you go from the other, every age will need its spirituality. Indeed, every person will need his spirituality. And what you do is get persons who then get together and you get these whole decisive movements. You don't have just Francis, but you have the whole Franciscan current that then moves into the life of the Church, or Dominican, or Carmelite. Should there be some new explosion now in that sense? I would think so. What theologians do now with this debate, one spirituality or many, I think they try to say, as far as origin and foundation and kind of objectively, there's only the one spirituality, which is perennial, which is the spirituality of Gregory Palamas, or Athanasius, or Therese of Lisieux, or Ignatius. And that's the spirituality for Christians, of living the Christ mystery in the Spirit. Going towards the Father through Christ in the Spirit, in the Scripture in the language.


Now, but because we're different persons in different ages with different needs, the hermit out in the Egyptian desert in the 4th century will have different instruments that will be particularly useful. And maybe Martin Luther King in the city of Memphis, caught up in the whole problem of racism, etc., trying to live his Christian faith there, different things will come out, this sort of thing. And we today, living post-Vatican II, post-Vietnam, post- and pre-, lots of things in the middle of energy crises, etc., we might need some things that weren't around. So I think on one level, yes. And let's hope that every age produces a living spirituality. In the other sense, let's hope that there's nothing new, simply kind of an improvised cut-off from the continuous, ongoing one heritage.


I don't know if that helps. Are there other comments on this? I just had a thought about the relationship of a Christian spirituality versus the different forms. It was taken, the idea of the same spirit and many gifts, that there is one Christian spirituality taking many forms. You can use that language. This, again, is a linguistic language. Someone with Danielou argued, no, there are different spiritualities. Ignatius is, so it's basically how you define spirituality, etc. But certainly you have the pluralism, if you define it just as different forms or different spiritualities, whatever language you want to use. Right back in the New Testament, Paul is stressing one thing, the primacy of faith, for instance, in the Letter to the Romans. James, we heard last night, is stressing something quite different at works. And you've got a Letter to the Hebrews spirituality that's very liturgical,


and you've got high priests and holy of holies, etc. And you've got other spiritualities that are quite prophetic, rather, James, in a certain way. A person having a secret... A person having a secret... Each person, in our research, has something in him that differentiates them. So nobody else can take it from nobody else. Right. In other words, with the notion of the person and the uniqueness of the person, they're tying it in with the work of the spirit. You can only really understand spirituality when you understand it in a personal way, not just kind of abstractly.


You have to see it in a personal way. And that's why you have Ignatius and Orlick, I mean, when you compare some of them, Francis is a very different person. They have a secret in the uniqueness of the person. When the spirit is at work, it inhabits that secret fully. It's a good job as a person to see what's radiating from the person, the uniqueness of that person. That's why you have Francis. Then, you remind me of the story of the Franciscan movement, which is an ambiguous thing. You could interpret it in all kinds of different ways. It's a catastrophe, the Franciscan movement. Some people interpret it as a deterioration of the Franciscan movement. Some people interpret it as a rejection. Other people interpret it as a thought, a necessary modification of what was said in the old Franciscan movement. So the movement is such an ambiguous, and we don't want to present this to you with light, and we don't want to have our numbers stolen,


and we don't want to get abstracted. But the spirituality of the movement, the Holy Spirit radiating from the uniqueness of the person, the uniqueness of their work, when we speak of spirituality, it will refer to the uniqueness of the people. The opposite problem, like I said, is that insofar as we are all connected to the same Holy Spirit, to the same Christ, then there is only one spiritual development. We have this marvelous manifestation of the real, the radical, the presence of the real, the incognito, the sharp bell, and the cloud, you know, the Mother Teresa. It's very beautiful. Right. When I was sort of handed this class to do one of the basic methodological approaches, where I talk about movements primarily, or persons, and I sort of opted to study just persons, just their writings. But still, there is the other side. You know, Francis wrote to, in some sense, create a movement.


That's part of his game plan. Also, you say there's something ambiguous about movements. There's also something ambiguous about persons. You know, each person has his limits, has his human element that comes in. And sometimes, I find it fascinating, for instance, that Francis is Francis and sets up this thing going. And almost in his own time, you have Bonaventure, who's also a saint, and in this current, and quite, quite different from Francis, and doing things that would make Francis pull his hair out. But Bonaventure is sanctifying himself. And Bonaventure is studying books and doing all those things that Francis would prefer that Francis could not do. So that's the paradox. But I think one of the fascinating things is that how God works through individuals, and also through, because the whole theme of Storitz and disciple suggests that it's not just atomistic, if you see what I mean. There is a, in some sense,


a Palamite tradition, perhaps, or an Egyptian, or a Benedictine. In some sense, how to come to terms with it is very difficult. But there is Francis here, and there's Bonaventure here, and there's this curious fact that they're both in the same family. Which is theirs. Yes. Right. I think, really,


Francis did something absolutely revolutionary. This whole idea of a group of religious who don't understand themselves to be monks, and then it goes on from there. Then you're Jesuits, and all the rest. I think it's really quite startling in the light of an Eastern mindset, where you have the kind of monk archetype, and then you have laity. And it's interesting. Does it represent a confounding and a splintering, or does it represent an enriching, or what do you do with it? But it's a fascinating movement. When suddenly you have someone who says, I don't want to be a monk, but I want to be a celibate religious. And we want to be this. That gets very fascinating. I was wondering, and I want you to encourage me, it has its limits, but seeing spirituality, say in these terms, we're all trying to get to San Francisco, say.


And that's the generic spirituality that the movement towards San Francisco, but we might go by severing, or we might go partly by God, partly by the devil. It has its limits, but I was just trying to think of how those individuals, instead of the general, heading down is one way of putting it together. That's an image that's often used by spiritual writers about, you know, each one has his road, or each one has his particular pace, or you have to avoid it getting relativistic. Sometimes you hear these pan-religious things, where all roads lead to the top. I debated fiercely with this kind of a Buddhist in Italy who said, well, there's the Buddhist road up to the top, and there's the Christian road. So you have to be a little careful. But I think, at least within the Christian family, we can, because the one way is Christ, but you can be sort of, again, that one spirituality, I am the way, the truth, and the life.


But each has his own approach, and one goes through the desert, and one goes through the mountains, and I think that's true. I didn't think it was going to be this way. Oh, I see. Yeah, I remember he said, he had to explore how he could use these images to pretend that there's similar things in yoga, and it doesn't count. And well, it's like having a similar brain around two different things. No, no, no. He has a future, and the brain is the same. Yeah.


So I guess we've sort of done our duty, and I think we can conclude. Thank you very much. Next time we'll go into the, so what is the foundation of Christian spirituality? My thesis is it's the word of God. I mean, that's the basic text we're looking at. It isn't the apothekmeta, or the writings of Evagrius, or it is the word of God. So you might try to think through, what would you do with that? Are you in agreement? Not in agreement. Where in the word would you look for the pillars of all the rest that's going to come out of there? So far. Good. Thank you.