History of Christian Spirituality

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Part of "The History of Christian Spirituality" class

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That little patristic text, remember the letter to Diognetus, and that theme about diaspora had come out, and we discussed that a bit. And I thought one of the pleasant things about dialogues and conferences here is there's not the rush to finish such and such a program by first semester or something. So since it seemed like a kind of interesting seminal topic that we might just pause there, like you push here and you have a pause, and then go into that theme a little more. What are its implications for us today? And I ran into an interesting essay by Thomas Merton precisely on this topic, The Christian in the Diaspora, and the whole second part is The Monk in the Diaspora. So I thought we might just sort of work through that article, use it as a point of reference, and discuss it, debate it, it's not infallible or anything, and see what we come up with. Remember in the letter to Diognetus, the author had said, Christians aren't gathered into


one nation, it isn't that they use one language, it isn't that they have their Christian culture and their Christian mathematics and their Christian customs, but they're disseminated throughout the whole world. And they are, as it were, they're present to all humanity, and they're present to all cultures and all tongues, but from within these various areas of human experience, they witness to the one Christ. So that scattered throughout humanity, they animate all of humanity, rather like the soul, a spiritual principle, to the body. We suggested that this is very much being debated today, as to a different kind of approach perhaps, rather than that we've been dealing with since the Middle Ages, of a kind of an institutional approach of, are Christian institutions here as set over against the non-Christian there? And so to the extent that we're Christian, to that extent precisely, we withdraw into our own Christian language, Christian culture, Christian identity, Christian schools, Christian


hospitals, etc. And this is a kind of a tactic, and some are suggesting this won't go anymore. And so we need a whole different pastoral approach. This was a kind of thing. Later, one could do an entire biblical theology of the Diaspora approach. In Luke, it's quite explicit, and this is where it comes from, if you go to Acts, chapter 8, the persecutions are beginning. First, the early Christians are at work in Judea, especially in Jerusalem, and they're working away, especially with other Jews. And some Jews convert, and this is this Christian Judaic church there. Now, some scholars say, had it not broken out of that area, it would have been a very rich church with its own traditions, but it would have appeared to others as simply another Judaic sect, like the Essenes, like the Zealots, and certainly enclosed and constricted that


very limited area. But what happens in chapter 8? There's a persecution, and Saul was consenting to the death of Stephen. At that time, there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem, and they were all scattered abroad. This is our word, the Greek, for Ephraim and the other exegetes here was diasparaison. And this is where the word diaspora comes from. They were scattered. They were scattered throughout the countries of Judea and Samaria. So here we have a whole different sect. They're no longer in that comfortable little kind of womb where they've always known the Judaic heritage roots. They're scattered abroad. And this diaspora, spread, yeah. This word, it means various things.


It can... Spread through every area. Every area. Yeah. Now, it can have a negative sense, like just kind of thrown to the four winds, and it can also have this positive sense, like see this caste abroad. And this is what's happening then. You see, it breaks out. This is what Luke is saying. The Christian experience breaks out of the Judean, and so what happens? Chapter four, or verse four, therefore, they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word. And so Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ unto them, and the people with one accord gave great heed unto these things which Philip spoke. So this tragic diaspora situation, which is caused by persecutions, which we don't like, but it becomes a moment of grace. It becomes a moment of spreading abroad in the sense of fecundity, of spreading the word. And so this is a kind of the biblical theology of this being cast abroad, even if the occasion,


therefore, is persecution. So, just to make it kind of visual, I laid down some of the quotes of Merton about two types of Christianity today. Now, Merton here is not denying the need of an institutional dimension of the church, a need of organization, a need of laws, et cetera. What he's saying, though, is that if a certain type of organizational church becomes the kind of primary way of experiencing our faith, experiencing church, then that ain't good. So he sets up a kind of extreme type that'll be his, what do you call it? We're back to disseminary, that's right. Now we're going sort of forward from that point to... Oh, it's his foil, that's the word. You've got to have an opponent there, so you set up your foil. So the enemy for Merton is this organization of Christianity seen as a kind of a primary


way of experiencing the faith. And quite in tension with that and the new style that he's proposing that we have to think through and adopt to be contemporary Christians and monks is what he calls diaspora Christianity. So we'll work through some of these and others. Again, it's a kind of a rhetorical device. Again, he's not denying that there need be an institutional dimension, et cetera. He's just saying if this becomes so primary that it's that and not the other, that's the danger. We might have here some three rather distracted monks because of what's going to happen tomorrow with First Profession, but I think this issue is relevant to that and to every dimension of monastic life and Christian life. What is going to happen tomorrow could be understood from two quite different points of view.


One could understand it from the point of view of organizational Christian. Tomorrow I'm going to be officially inserted in a canonically recognized order of the Church. So tomorrow I receive an official status before other Catholics. Tomorrow I've got an officially recognized role that's given to me. So from tomorrow on I have no more problems of insecurity of who I am. I've got a power to me that I'm an official monk in the Church. I know Francis is on this trip. And I'll be secure. Now this can operate also at our level of the unconscious. So we do have to be careful of this, the whole officiality side of it, the whole life is a kind of uncertain journey. It's a faith which means not seeing, well, there's these official recognized moments


in the life of the Church. Well, these can be taken and kind of exploited, at least the unconscious level, in this kind of organizational Christian. And from then on, I'm a monk. And I've got the kind of power also that goes with that role. When confronted by a simple pious Catholics and priests and bishops or whatever, don't touch me. I am a professed monk of the Commodities Order. Or there could be an entirely different understanding of what's going to happen tomorrow, a kind of a diaspora understanding. The priest is a lepros. Leproso. A leper. Yeah, don't touch me. And on the contrary, we want a different kind of understanding, maybe, maybe not, this has to be debated, of what's happening tomorrow. And so with every aspect of our Christian and monastic life, the liturgy, the Eucharist, how is that understand? Yowers, solitude, asceticism, obedience.


How are any of these things understood? There's two approaches, to simplify. So, what is this organizational approach? It's that the Church is an institution. It is the institution. It is the city of God on earth. It's got its laws, which are divine laws. It's got its power structure, et cetera. Now, something of the Church after Constantine could have something of this. We saw that after Constantine, briefly, Christianity becomes the official religion of the empire. And the emperor is the Christian emperor. And the laws are Christian laws. And the armies are Christian armies, et cetera, et cetera. And the judges are Christian judges, and the whole bit. And so, I receive my identity of faith, but also my human identity as citizen, as person


looking for meaning, et cetera, from Christendom. No longer simply Christian faith, but Christendom, a whole new reality. And it's a very complicated reality. It certainly had its positive, necessary sides. But what Merton is suggesting, and he's going here through Rahner and other theologians, is, in fact, this no longer exists. We might want that it were still the case. We might feel nostalgic, something. But it's not so much a debate as to what's best. Would it be better, then, to go back to the Middle Ages, a situation where we have a Christian emperor? That's not the question. We are not going to get back to the Middle Ages. We are not going to get the Christian emperor again. We are not going to get Christian schools, in that sense, that all go there, et cetera, and Christian armies, et cetera. We are, in fact, sociologically, in the diaspora situation.


So it's not a question of what is better, what's worse. It's just the fact. Now, what do we do with it, theologically? What do we do with our spirituality? This is our first premise. And we'll want to discuss this, that, in fact, we are no longer in the medieval organization Christianity situation that obtained at least in northern Europe. It certainly didn't obtain in Africa. The Muslims had overtaken Africa. It didn't obtain in Asia. It didn't obtain in the United States. But it did obtain in that really quite constricted area that was called Christendom. And that's sometimes considered the ideal, the model, that we want to constantly go back to. And others are saying, no, we can't get back there no more. What we are in is something analogous to the earliest church. So that more helpful to us than the models of Constantine and Eusebius and the great champions of imperial Christianity are these earliest fathers talking about diaspora and


the acts of the apostles and the whole New Testament presupposition of this little flock, of this leaven in the church, et cetera. So those are the presuppositions that want to be discussed, debated, et cetera. So this is the Christian situation. Later, we want to get on to the whole question of how do monks fit into this? What's the particular monastic approach to this new situation of diaspora? Should we as monks, more than anyone else, feel nostalgia for the great Middle Ages and the institution, et cetera? Or should we as monks, perhaps more than anyone else, be the kind of, in some sense, the avant-garde, the feeling out of the new horizons of this diaspora situation? Which, again, isn't absolutely new, but in some remarkable ways corresponds to the earliest church of the apostles, the earliest church of the martyrs. Problems, questions? Up to now. So let's charge into Merton.


And this isn't easy because my pages are mixed up, so let's go back to these. What is the actual situation of the church in the modern world? It is a crisis situation. This is Merton's hypothesis, and he's constantly going back to a theological essay of Rahner who's saying this. Rahner's saying it's simply a fact. It's not that we say let's get into a crisis situation, but it is indeed a crisis situation. And Merton is saying crisis has not just a negative sense. It's a very biblical word, crisis, which means under the salvific judgment of God. Crisis is that moment where we're no longer all confident and it's all going well and we're secure, etc. God speaks to us, and therefore there's this situation of newness. So Merton starts his essay, The Christian in the Diaspora. It is no secret that the church finds herself in a crisis, and the awareness of such a fact is pessimism only in the eyes of those for whom all change is necessarily tragic.


People lament, well, after Vatican II, nothing is the same, etc. Things are changing. Our relation to the world is changing. But again, only to those who see change as a terrible thing. It would seem more realistic to follow the example of Pope John and Pope Paul after him and to face courageously the challenges of an unknown future in which the Christian can find security, not perhaps in the lasting strength of familiar human structures, but certainly in the promises of Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit. So it was rather easy to say the official religion of the empire is Christianity, and if those dirty non-Christians come, we've got the Christian armies and we've got the Christian laws for those within the empire who don't behave, etc. Now we have to have recourse to another source of power, which is that of Christ and the Holy Spirit, which functions in rather different ways, in rather more paradoxical ways, that


the emperor, after all, Christian hope itself would be meaningless if there were no risks to face, and if the future were definitely mortgaged to an unchanging present. So, he goes on with this theme, that we need to stir up our faith and stir up our Christian hope in this situation of newness. Christian hope is confidence, not in metaphysical immobility, but in the dynamism of unfailing love. Crisis means judgment, and the present is always being judged, as it gives way to what was yesterday, the future. Only when we try to drag yesterday bodily with us into the future does crisis become cataclysm. That is, we could miss the moment, we could really goof it up, precisely by not opening ourselves to the newness, to this adventure of faith, and by insisting that the various structures


that were perhaps in some way, in a sense, inevitable and necessary in the past, we try to drag them in and enforce them on a new situation in the future. Then he suggests that we can goof it, and there's a wrong way of approaching it, which is a curious paradox, he says, this wrong way, which has its moments of triumphalism. Everything's going right, because we have the militant church going forward, and the Piazza of St. Peter's is always filled with hundreds of thousands cheering the Pope, and there's always new Catholic movements on the march, and the whole world is confused and crumbling under the power of the armies of Our Lady and the armies of Jesus. There's this kind of triumphalism, and then in the same moment, there's this kind of, the world's going to pot, everything is terrible, it's not like it was, etc. So people who are clinging


too tightly to organization, Christianity, he says, they betray this curious, almost schizophrenic triumphalism on the one hand, and dark, dark pessimism about the present and the future on the other. There's a certain mood of conservative triumphalism in the church. On the one hand, everything said about the church by these defenders of the status quo is couched in the language of the victory communique. You know, we're marching forward and hundreds of thousands, and yet in the same breath, dire prophecies and lamentations chime in to condemn the decadence, the modernism, the secularism, which have utterly ruined Catholicism and Christian culture today. So he sees these kind of symptoms of a not correct approach to the challenge of today and tomorrow. And then he says that there's quite a different approach, and he says, on the other hand, there are theologians


like Karl Rahner, supported by many others of his compatriots, both Protestants and Catholic, who believe that we must frankly face and accept what they have called the diaspora situation of the church in the 20th century. You've got to face it and come to terms with it. Again, it's not something we project as an interesting new model that some theologian has come up with. It's a fact out there. The church is no longer in a Christian empire, and if we want to pretend that it is and still patch up the cracks, et cetera, we can go on for maybe a couple of generations, but it's a very illusory game. The world out there ain't really Christian in the sense that it was in the Middle Ages, and profound questions have to be asked. In what sense was it? In what sense is a sociologically official Christianity really? But that's another. But in any case, we're in another situation from that. And Rahner, speaking not as a sociologist but precisely as a theologian, describes this situation as irreversible and concludes that we have no alternative but to accept it.


And he adds that this acceptance is not only a matter of defeat or passive fatalism. On the contrary, he seeks to show theologically that it has a crucial significance for our salvation and for the salvation of the world. So these Jewish Christians down there in Jerusalem said, let's not work up a persecution so we can be scattered to the four corners. No. It just happened. And they worked with that happening. It had its tragic dimension, no doubts. We don't want to romanticize the new situation. But they worked with it and rendered it salvific. It was necessary. There's this whole theology of Luke and Acts of the necessary. Was it not necessary that the Son of Man suffer? But working through that situation, it becomes fecund in a new way, not imagined by the first situation of enclosed down there in the Jerusalem church. So this, we want to, first of all, acknowledge it as a fact. Then


reflect upon it theologically and in faith and see if we might not render this new situation, whatever it be, and we want to work through that more, salvific. This is going to require a whole new style, to say the very least, on the part of all Christians and the church. A whole new mindset, a whole new hermeneutic. The Christian life will be qualitative, not quantitative in the future. You know, how many communions in your church and how many conversions and all of Germany that is Christian and all of England that's Christian. No, we've got qualitative committed groups. We will not draw strength from a massive ecclesiastical assault organized on quasi-military lines, but on the openness and freedom, the total sincerity with which the ordinary Christian is prepared to meet the non-Christian on his


own ground. Here, you'll start to see the juxtaposition here, so not power and dominance, but openness. And being there on the other person's crown, this is what's characteristic of this new diaspora situation. In the other, it's my Christian empire, and we build the walls around it, and if the others try to storm the walls, and if anyone within the traitor will burn them in the piazza, et cetera. No, now I'm on his ground, just as these Jewish Christians who are suddenly in Samaria. You see, they need passports in this new land. They're cast out of the seed bag into a whole new fecundity there, precisely on the ground of the other. This is the mystery. So openness and freedom is total sincerity on his own ground, and to awaken the other to the truth of the gospel in terms which the other can understand and accept, the whole Pentecost mystery. All sorts of languages, not just the one, and each culture understands in his own. This means, of course, that the


apostle of the diaspora will have to have something more cogent to offer than an investigation, I'm sorry, than an invitation to enter a ghetto of antiquated customs, outworn rituals, and censorious theological rigidity. We have the truth here. If you want it, convert. And if you don't want it, you're damned, sort of thing. It'll have to be a different approach. The truth is here, and the truth is also out there. The truth is in Jerusalem, certainly, but the truth is also in Samaria, and in Philippi, and even in Rome. It's every corner, and every culture, and every language. The only thing that can give meaning to such an apostolate is the purity of eschatological hope. So it knew not the other approach. So it's a challenge kind of to conversion. This means today, and this is where we do sort of break company with the early apostles, because history does move


on. We're in what's, in some sense, a secular situation. They were in a very religious situation, whether they were in Jerusalem, or Rome, or Philippi, all sorts of religions and religiosity. But there's this new secular situation. Now, how do we see that secular? We had once talked about, you can put the secular in opposition to the sacred, and therefore, the secular is simply to be condemned as cut off, and therefore, errant and spiritually not fecund, et cetera, because it's not the sacred. And this is one sort of neat. Or you have to see that maybe faith can animate the secular as faith can animate the sacred. The Christian scientist who's working not in the sacristy or in the sanctuary, but in a laboratory with the test tubes and things. The Christian teacher who's perhaps not even teaching in a Catholic school, if this can be imagined, but in a public school. But from within that situation, a faith communicates that. The Christian here and there, et cetera.


So, no longer a simple opposition, that world is secular, therefore we're in it. No, that world is secular, so there are new faith possibilities there, different types of faith possibilities. This is a whole theme Merton is trying to raise. The world, in quotes, and secularity, we cannot understand this unless we see that the world and secularity, or even the profane, are not categories which by their very nature exclude and obstruct the action of grace. They are, on the contrary, fully embraced by the order of redemption, and the world must be brought to an awareness of this by the heroic witness of Christian faith. Teilhard said that when I go into the biological laboratory, I want to be more rigorously scientific than the nonbeliever, and go through all the strictly scientific, secular methodology precisely as a Christian witness, so I won't be half the


time saying, novenas, that this fossil miraculously appears, or something. No, I'll be going rigorously, and I'll be more scientific than the scientist. And precisely in that way, I'll witness to the faith that truth is one, and that we have no fear of—indeed, we're dedicated to finding the truth in all its dimensions, from the most humble of old bones and what they suggest to the most lofty of mystical theology, etc. So this is sort of the context. So it's not in opposition. Rahner is talking about an attitude of openness, understanding, and sympathy, which enables the Catholic to discover unsuspected values in a secular world, which he has hitherto regarded only with mistrust and with contempt. So again, this change of mind, this change of approach. Rahner is therefore not prescribing a resolute and paramilitary advance to conquer the world and to bring


it entirely to subjection and to clerical influence or discipline. It's rather a positive and truly apostolic effort to encounter the non-Christian on his own ground, in order to bring him the gospel message in a form in which he can best understand and receive it. But if we merely invite him to enter with us into the ghetto—same ideas with different language—in which the spiritual atmosphere seems grimly opposed to everything he experiences his life, he will turn away from us in despair. So this is kind of the pre-comprehension that Luigi was talking about. For now, the part on the monk in the diaspora. What is the particular role of the monk in this new situation? And in fact, they're saying, and in this new theological reflection and in this new consideration of what should be then a kind of a missionary method, an apostolate approach, etc. Now, how does the monk fit into this? We can say that's fine for others, that's fine for the missionary, but we don't enter. How won't we enter? Don't we enter in the sense that


we're still the last kind of refuge of organization, Christianity, in the sense that we're kind of a sign of medieval Christianity? The monastery was very important in the Middle Ages, and it was often very huge and very powerful. And the abbot had sometimes thousands of peasants under him and thousands of acres of land to be cultivated. And he had, in fact, his own armies and his own ambassadors to other princes, etc. But there was this bastion of Christianity, the city set on the hill. Now, are we a kind of a nostalgic sign of what it was like in the good old days? That's the question. Or are we, again, in some sense in the forefront of this new diaspora situation? Should we find more congenial to us, precisely as monks, the organization Christianity, approach and spirit, or the diaspora? This is the question


before us. Before we get into this new... Is all this clear? Are we all... No questions, no problems, no objections. The way you put it, though, is a little curious, though. I mean, it seems when they fall somewhere in between, it seems, are we either this evil thing way over here, or are we this thing way on the other end of the spectrum? And maybe we're somewhere in between. Well, this is a particular genre. He's showing just the evils of the one and just the good of the other. There's no doubt about that. So it's a kind of a white-black thing. It's a kind of a dualism. Like, in some ways, you get a John. There's the white and the black, et cetera. But there is this problem. Now, would we fall in between? This is another possible model. You see, again, he's not talking about


the need of institution and structure in the church. The diaspora Christian will have his moments of gatheredness. And that's the moment of the Eucharist, especially, the moment of faith and celebration. But from there, he goes out. But I think he would say it wouldn't be in the middle in the sense that we take half of the one and half of the other. In a certain sense, we have to leave this. But not that the other... I think it's this that has to be nuanced. Not that the other has no elements of institution and law, et cetera. But it's institution and law, not as understood in the kind of Christendom medieval approach at its worst, but in a new situation. But anyway, that's another. Well, I think we're struggling with this. I think the Catholic community is, the Protestant


community, I think the Orthodox are. It's a real one for them. Well, I think Christianity is so mysterious that sometimes you can win by, you know, being wiped out in a certain sense, like the martyrs, et cetera. So if the truth, this is the claim of people like Rahner and Merton, the truth is on the diaspora side. They can't see it any other way than in the faith. Now, if the truth is on that side, you just keep witnessing to it, whatever happens. And you might indeed end up crucified one way or the other. The goal is not to win. The goal is to witness and pray, sort of thing. But the other side will use power. That is their style and approach. They'll try to hit you through all the methods possible to eliminate this, which will be seen as threat. So, now, it should be characteristic of the diaspora side that it doesn't have recourse


to these instruments of power and repression. And so it's a kind of a nonviolent at its best, suffered moving forward. But what that side is, again, is it's a fact. We are in fact in a diaspora situation. So live it. And these people are trying to cling to this. They'll be particularly unhappy because they perceive at a certain level that it ain't working. And that's why they have, again, the victory communique at one level, but the anguished, pessimistic condemnation of the world on the other. So I think the issue is an interesting one, but I don't think it should be primary to someone who agrees with Merton here. I mean, we might lose the thing, but we'll lose it at least witnessing to it. The Orthodox Church is very interesting. You know, there's that one Russian Orthodox Church in exile. It is awaiting the return of the czar, for instance. They take very


seriously that there cannot be a Christianity without a czar. So they are pretty purely And for them it's all tragic until the czar comes back. So you can get very, very clear and kind of explicit expressions of this. Then you can get nuance. You can, in fact, get a kind of a midway. I suspect that on a kind of a sociological sort of midway between the thing. It seems there's a large group he's leaving now. I wonder where you think this fits in. I can see there's the triumphalists who want to drag everything from the past into the future, and it has to remain the same as we go into the future. But there are also many people now, it seems, who say the only way we can go to the future is by absolutely cutting ourselves off from the past, by forgetting about our roots and ignoring our tradition. It seems like the truth-likes with John XXIII saw a greater fidelity to the past combined


with somehow this openness to the future. But for a lot of people, fidelity to the past is just absurd. We have to forget about the past as quick as we can in order to move forward. It's hard to break apart the tradition and integrate it into who you are now. That's right. It's a period of fission. Sure, sure. But there are some people who don't want to be the fathers that say anything happened before 1960, we shouldn't even pay attention to it, as if it had nothing to do with it. It's not rootlessness that's the advantage. We have to go with the whole heritage. But I think that basic distinction that the fathers made between tradition with a capital T and the traditions of men, as Jesus said, there are some traditions, Christian traditions that are linked in fact with the sociological situation that no longer exists. And what do we do about them? There are other traditions that enrich. How do you discern the distinction?


That's the roughy. That is why we, I think, are really in a crisis situation where we're no longer comfortable. We do have to discern, we do have to weigh and struggle with every element. Now, is this enriching precisely for the person, or is this an obstacle? Like the first Jewish Christians, they really had to circumcision as required for all Christians. Yes or no? The law, this whole incredible spiritual richness of the law, to be applied to the Gentile Christians or no? In what sense? How? They battled over this, and Peter fought with Paul, and they needed... So it's not one of those comfortable moments where we don't have to worry about this. It's one of these moments where we do have to struggle with it. And I think the heart of the tradition, bring that, because if you cut that off, you go empty and you have nothing to offer. But if you're just bringing lots of the kind of sociological trappings from other ages, that can be an obstacle, as Merton says, grimly


opposed to everything new, et cetera, and dragging the past. So it's very complicated. And I think it's also exciting. You know, this is the adventure of Christianity. And some will necessarily emphasize the one a little more, the need to be very careful to not throw out anything that's... Let's not take for granted that something won't have value, just because it's 2,000 or 1,000. Let's go slowly. So there's some people who tend more on the brake, and there's other people who tend more on the accelerator. And I think really you need both charisms in the church. This is where a dogmatic man in Rome said. There are those who stress the newness, et cetera, and obviously Merton in this essay is on that side. There are others who stress the richness of the heritage, and let's go slow, et cetera. So you'll find debates in the same community at different emphases, and this is healthy. It seems like a good illustration, you said, one is the brakes and one is the accelerator. Without even one, you don't have a vehicle, and that's how the church should be as a people.


Ah. We're on a journey to get to heaven. If you just keep your foot on the brake, you ain't going to get there. But if you just wildly go ahead, sort of thing. Another, at this point, you get a very interesting question. Suppose we are monks. Are we more the accelerator men, so to speak, or more the brake men? This is very interesting. Is it the function of the monk to be the kind of, again, conservative witness of the Middle Ages, and to be particularly suspicious of the new, and particularly in favor of the law, and control, and condemning what seems, or are we, in some sense, the avant-garde? Pardon me? But it's an interesting question, because according to our theologian in Rome, the function of the hierarchy, say the pope or the bishops, is certainly the function of the brake. What we usually say is look at Rome and expect Rome to do everything,


to tell us in what new areas we should surge and what areas we should slow. Rome is giving one side of it, and that's go slow, this is a little dangerous. This is the function of the hierarchy, to test out the new and to discern the good and the bad, but not to create the new. The function of St. Peter was not to come up with the newness of the gospel of faith that Paul did, but to struggle with it, to discern, and finally to go to Jerusalem and stand up and say yes. But this is where it's very important. There are the prophets, the Dorothy Days and the theologians. Pope John Paul II, he went to the theologians at the Angelicum and he said, keep researching, keep probing, don't wait for us to say do this. It was a very interesting time, because it's a different charism. The charism of Rahner or Merton is not the charism of the pope. So sometimes we say we have to have exactly the same spirit of the pope, and the pope is always talking about caution and danger


and no, so we should always be talking about caution. But it's the other, no, that's one side is the caution and no, and the other is here's something and here's something and et cetera. This is not an essay that would have been written by Paul VI, but it should have been written. This sort of thing. It seems like the church classically has been more on the brink than the accelerator, so that you have some people saying the secular world is way ahead of the church in some areas that they can't relate to the church. They view it as monotheism. It seems as though the church is the last institution to come around to the modern way of thinking. It was like science, et cetera. You still have to write out and reopen the case of Galileo, which was many years ago. The church tends to be classically more on the brink.


I think this is a problem, and coming from a place like Berkeley, I have to witness to it. All the ex-Catholics and their religion and all the ex-Christians and just the people who grew up, and they have difficulty with the church because the church is that institution of the inquisition, that institution that said no to Galileo, that institution that says no to sex, that says no to this. How's he saying no? And no to evolution. Just a no-sayer to everything that humanity, through great struggle and suffering, is able to come up with. Things like, very concrete things, slavery, yes or no. The great movements for saying no to slavery. Unfortunately, it didn't come from the Catholic church, right? Very late, or now feminism. What is the role of women in the church? The great prophets of this are not often Catholic, this sort of thing. I have to say this is a problem, and we're


not aware of, this is another thing if there's time, but things ain't going well for the church in terms of growing and advancing. We're getting smaller, and we talk about this convent and that, but we're losing more than we are, and this is, I think, a primary reason. People are just troubled by this institution that seems not to be able to come to terms with the values. I think the other side, then, is that there are very ambiguous sides of the secular world, and of the sexual world, of license, and of all these things. So, sometimes the church, going slowly, is able to, that is, sometimes people come back. Free love, for instance. Church, very slowly, and this enthusiasm, now young people are starting to say, now wait a minute, maybe this whole business is dangerous. Statistically, couples who lived together before marriage, that marriage has much more difficulty not ending in divorce than the other. It was thought, you know, how can you do this without a trial period


and all this, but it doesn't work out that way, this sort of thing. So, there are ambiguous things to the world out there. It's just, I think, again, that terrible problem of discerning, and if we're discerning, not so much from the gospel, but from the good old days of the 13th century, et cetera, then our language really gets problematic, because that was the thing with Galileo. It can't be so, because scholastic philosophy can't conceive of the earth not being at the center. Now, that's where we went wrong there. And the fact that it's taken hundreds of years to even address the question publicly, people in the media, especially in the academic atmosphere, are always dragging up Galileo's It's extremely embarrassing. It's an extremely embarrassing case, and there are many others. Yeah? It kind of begs the question of what does Christ have in mind for the church? When he says, go out and preach to all nations, does he mean go out and convert all nations,


or is it just important that they get the word and they have to be justified by their response to it? Because he also says, on the other hand, we'll, on the other hand, find the faith in many of these ones. And all this is like implausible to very few. Right. Well, it's very mysterious, this eschatological dimension, yeah? We don't know whether we're going forward with this model with great triumph, et cetera. The church has been around now for 2,000 years, and in some sense has preached to all nations, and we're, what, I have the statistic, we're less than a fourth of humanity, and we're shrinking in proportion to the world population, rather dramatically. Does that imply that we're failing in terms of Christ's message, or is that not really the point? In other words, like you said, not quantitative, but qualitative. No, it's a great mystery. Who knows? He puts a question there, will the Son of Man find, so if he's got a question mark, I think all the more we should.


There's two models, one that end time will come when the word has been spread in a kind of universal conversion, and a kind of earthly messianism, and another model is it'll really be rough in the end time. Because I relate it to the whole thing. If we're trying to make ourselves accessible to the world, to an accessible extent, we may be giving them something that's dead at that point, it's not Christianity anymore. In other words, we've diluted ourselves so much to make it palatable to the world, that what we're giving them, we've lost what we had to give them to Christians. Yeah, this is the other side of the problem. Again, it's the problem of discernment. If I toss out so much, that I toss out the baby with the bath waters, they always say, then what do I go with? And certainly I think there are Protestant groups that have done that, the extreme case would be the Unitarian, that goes out with a kind of a humanitarian, let's get together and talk about our psychological problems, and this will be our Sunday meeting sort of thing. And Unitarians almost don't exist anymore, because people just aren't interested in that.


So, it's a challenge. The challenge of discernment. Again, I think that the primary norm for the discernment has to be the gospel, whatever that means, and not medieval sociological Christianity. The rich heritage of the medieval experience, certainly, Merton loved, you know, the 12th century, but not the trappings, and somehow you've got to discern the distinction, just as in the early days, to bring the whole wealth of the Old Testament to the Gentile church, but not to force them even on the... For Jews, the circumcision was kind of our baptism, it was a fundamental saving sacrament, you had to toss even that out. So, really, it's challenging to make this discernment. The theologians of ecumenism, for instance, have talked about, we're going to have to be willing to sacrifice


the dietary laws were to Peter, and circumcision, and all that. I'm not going to eat that stuff when the sheep comes down with all the foods, because I've never eaten that stuff. And we have to just undergo a conversion thing. I don't know, why don't we take a break, and come back and go into... be thinking during the break, where does the monk fit in here? Above, below, in the middle, to the extreme right, to the extreme left? The seat of a god. That's right. We plunge then into the monastic diaspora. It's interesting to look at the history, this isn't Merton, this is just my own reflection, but you had the age of the Church of the Apostles and the Martyrs. Then you get an incredible qualitative change of things with Constantine.


That's really a turning point, when Christianity is no longer persecuted, or looked on as... it becomes the official religion. Now, it's at that point, interestingly enough, that people start moving out into the desert, and living precisely the monastic charism. We had a lovely conference yesterday in my class. I had as a guest speaker Brother Robert, who is an Anglican Franciscan Superior down in... he studied at Oxford and Cambridge, and he was talking about the charism of St. Francis, but he noted that, and he interpreted it, and I think rightly, that when the hermits were going out into the desert, it wasn't just for themselves, but it was as a kind of a sign of what Christian, full Christian, baptismal life should be. And in the age of the martyrs, you didn't need it, because all Christians were living a fully dedicated...


you know, you were risking... there was no status, and security, and comfort, and power, but it was risk, and literally being fed to the lions. Things turn 180 degrees, and then the most comfortable thing in the world is to be Christian. And if you want to make a good career in the Senate, etc., you become a Christian, etc. At that point, the monks start... So, according to this interesting reading, we are tied specifically in the monastic vocation to the diaspora situation. The monks go into diaspora when officialdom descends upon them. That's when they're born, and again, not just for themselves, but as a sign to the whole church of what the whole church, in some way, should be. So, it's interesting. So that though we are... in one sense, it seems absolutely the contrary of what Diognetus is talking about,


or what Acts is talking about, where the apostles go into the whole world. The monk withdraws, you see. But it's a withdrawal that is a scattering in the same parallel way, a scattering into new dimensions that are not possible now in that contrary situation, which is the Christian empire. So, you almost have to see the negative of the photograph, which Constantine represents relative to the Church of the Martyrs. And then we are the opposite of that negative, so we end up doing, in a paradoxical way, precisely what they're talking about. That is the diaspora vocation. And what is this diaspora vocation? Merton notes that when Rahner is talking about this new diaspora approach and its roots in the heritage, the one monk he refers to is St. Benedict, who is our father. It is curious that the one... I'm sorry, not the one monk, the one saint of all Christian saints is St. Benedict.


It is curious that the one saint singled out by Rahner for mention as an example of one who understood the diaspora situation is St. Benedict. We can profitably consider the author of the Benedictine Rule as one who, in a world which he saw was alien to his own ideals, nevertheless lived a fully Christian life which was fruitful beyond his own wildest expectations. Then he goes into this great... that the empire was crumbling and Benedict just didn't lament this, but create a whole new approach with the tilling of the land and with the saving of the manuscripts, the heritage of the past in its best sense, but in a way that was absolutely accessible to the new peoples, to the Huns and to the barbarians descending, absolutely open to them. Not the Roman institution so to enter you had to become a Roman, but something new that opened up to the Middle Ages. He mentions one of the characteristics of the diaspora situation, simplicity, poverty.


You go out into the next city, you have to travel light, you don't bring all your tomes of usages and customs and require that they conform to them. You travel light, so simplicity. One of the characteristics of this is it gets ever more Baroque, complicated, heavy laws. So you say, what's the characteristic of monasticism? Simplicity. Travel light. Not the Baroque institution, but the Romanesque purity as it were. The earliest monks were, oh, and also another characteristic is, if you want to get up, the lay as opposed to the clerical. Again, a simplified opposition because you need priests in the diaspora Christianity, obviously. But the laity were very important in the Apostolic Church, in the Church of the Martyrs, and they're going to be important today simply because the clergy are very, very few. And monasticism, not as a clerical institution of power for the hierarchical church,


but originally as a lay institution. This is very interesting. The earliest monks were simply laymen living in solitude or in small informal communities of a somewhat charismatic nature, grouped around a holy and well-tried hermit, a spiritual father. So traditionally, the monastic life does not require much organization. He's saying, we monks can go into this diaspora situation sort of with our heads up and rediscovering the best of our own heritage, which is a diaspora heritage, not the organization Christianity heritage. We then got into that in the Middle Ages and with a vengeance. But now we can go back to our deepest roots, which again has certain relevance to, what are you getting into tomorrow in that profession? Is it this great medieval institution? The Canales have been around since the thousand, a huge monastery. Or is it something different, this simple lay community? Romul, this very simple, mysterious, charismatic figure who didn't fit any legalistic,


your hermits always did all sorts of things. So the charismatic, the spiritual, the unexpected, the sort of flexible, as opposed to complicated and clerical, et cetera. Then he goes into new possible models of monastic life that would be very characteristically diaspora models that go back a lot to the first models. He says, strictly speaking, there is no reason why a group of men should not buy a farm in some remote part of Canada and simply live there as monks, minding their own business and devoting themselves to work and prayer in a small eschatological community like those of the first Egyptian or Syrian monks. Such a community would depend not so much on its organization, still less on its performance of a definite work, as on the seriousness, the dedication, and the spiritual strength of its members and on the authenticity of their vocation.


Remember what we mentioned last time, the problem with the diaspora Christianity is very demanding. It requires that you really have a personal, committed faith. The organization Christianity is somewhat easier. Of course, I was baptized by my parents before I even had a... And, of course, I go to church on Sunday. The whole family does. It's always done it. It would be quite improper not to go to church. Of course, the kids would be baptized. It's just the whole of a force of custom and regulation is behind me. But here I have to make a choice. And if I get my kids baptized, it's not because it's the thing to do. It would be scandalous not to. But because I'm forced by inner personal faith. And it would probably scandalize lots of people if I do it. Well, that's where the monk should be, on a level of personal commitment, not on a level of being carried along by the powerful structures of an institution. And so the importance here, another thing I should have... I ran out of time,


is the person is supposed to simply serve the mass movement. It is significant that Rahner, who has laid such stress on the importance of the person in the diaspora situation rather than the organized group, should cite St. Benedict as an example of one who admirably understood this kind of situation and adopted to it successfully. There again, it's not the person as opposed to community, but personal commitment as opposed to simply mass movement. So again, it's a fact. And so it's not what are we going to do, but how to relate to this new fact. And he stresses it. And we realize we've got to change somehow the whole business of monastic revival


that's going on all over the world. Things have to be sort of shaken up. It's a moment of crisis in the best biblical sense. Now, how to do it. That's the key that's hitting the whole church, and that's the key that's hitting the monastic world. And we too can do it wrong in all sorts of ways. Or, God willing and God helping, we might just do it well. The much publicized monastic revival of our own time suggests that the monastic life is or can be one of the ways in which the church can adjust herself to the diaspora situation. We could actually be a kind of a probing and going into the diaspora that would help the whole church. We could be fruitful to the whole church if we're loyal to our charism, which is truly diaspora. This is what Merton is proposing in the best sense. We might, however, mention that the monastic movement in its present state of progress does not give us evidence that perfect adjustment has already been achieved.


The question here of Greg, of where are we, he say, in fact, we've had these renewals, et cetera, and it hasn't been a great, great success. This is a decisive moment for us, what in the scriptures is called kairos, a moment of grace, a moment of decision. And for us, again, for the monks who make their profession tomorrow, not going into some kind of a sleepy, comfortable, already established institution. It will then be the same for all eternity unless the security that will give me. I don't have to decide. I don't have to personally be responsible, but I'll just follow the laws and the traditions. No, it's a moment of crisis, a moment of discernment, a moment of decision. And that's where I'm at. Monasticism is now undergoing a more profound renewal than any that has been seen for 800 years.


In other words, since the great ferment of the 11th and 12th centuries when the Carthusians, Camaldolese, and Cistercians came into being and the Benedictines of Cluny spread all over Europe. So this is rather, he's saying, since the time of Romuald, we haven't been in such a shake-up situation. And this is it. It's on us, boys. Monastic problems and ideals are being rethought on the deepest level. The fundamental importance of such things as hermetical solitude is being rediscovered. The biblical movement is renewing monastic prayer and contemplation. Monks are trying to effect a liturgical renewal that will be relevant to their own way of life, etc. So this, I think, is particularly challenging and interesting. Now, here he says we can get off the track, again, as they can. We can just cling to comfortable institutional structures of the past


and drag them into the future. And that might be the easiest solution, but it wouldn't be the best. The effectiveness of the monk's presence in the world and of his monastic ways, the gospel of Christ, will depend on his ability to see his own place in relation to the world correctly. He, too, must learn to understand his monastic calling in the general diaspora situation of the whole church. So we're people of the church. The church is in crisis. So are we. And this is a good sense. And we've got to come to terms with this diaspora situation. We can't ignore it, be frightened of it, run away from it, come to terms with it. How? He says this is not going to be entirely easy. For while, in theory, monks are supposed to think in terms of the original monastic ideals and the earliest sources, in practice they think of this as they have been formed to think in terms of an institution that preserves a set character


acquired in the days when the church dominated all of society, in which the monks played a most important part in helping her to do so. In Europe, some of the most conservative centers of the church life are precisely the monasteries. Everything is pre-Vatican II. Everything is Latin. Everything is nostalgia for the Middle Ages. These are the great bastions. And they're linked, very interestingly, with the political far right. And it's a fairly ambiguous situation. And I mean the far right. And the whole business about Benedict being a patron of Europe, etc. This can have a kind of a power language to it and a kind of a political sense to it that a certain group has wanted to plug into. And monks can be very happy about this. Let's get back to the good old days when monasticism was the real powerful institution in the church


and the whole church was Catholic, etc. And so this is what it's all about. We monks, faced by this crisis, can go one of two quite, quite different directions. Even though the Ordo Monasticus in Western Europe was swept almost entirely out of existence by the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, he keeps coming back to the facts of history. There's been this thing. Camaldi no longer even belongs to us as a building. The forest is no longer ours. We used to have, as far as the eye could see, tremendous land extensions. It's been taken away by an anti-clerical government of the last century. This happened in France. This happened all over Europe. We might lament it, but it's a fact. Now what do we do about it? We can just plug into those far right political parties who say, let's reestablish such a situation when thousands of acres would even be given back to the institutional church. This would be lovely, but is that quite what we're after?


Is it possible that it was almost providential that all those acres of forest were taken away from us, for instance? What are we going to do with thousands of acres of forest today? So, in fact, all these were swept. It was restored, monasticism in the 19th century, by men whose devotion to the medieval past made it impossible for them to conceive a monastery that was not a fortress of medieval ideas, culture, worship, and life. He's talking especially as a travesty. But it was swept away. Then there was the recovery. But the recovery was often in terms of romantic nostalgia for the Middle Ages, for the fortress model. The whole concept of monastic revival was at first largely a matter of keeping alive in the world the values and customs that flourished in the Middle Ages, and which present an undeniably convincing picture of the vitality that once resulted from the church's pervasive influence in feudal agrarian society.


So, this is an identity, and this is a role, and this gives us something to do. We will be in the church the institution that recalls all the beauty of the Middle Ages. And some want us to do that. Also some laity, some bishops, etc. People go to Camaldoli and they'll lament, why aren't you singing everything in Latin and Gregorian chant? It's so beautiful. That's what the monks should be doing. And this is a question. That's the way they did it in the Middle Ages? It was sublime liturgical. Why aren't you doing it now? If anyone should be doing it, you should be doing it. And someone should be keeping the whole Gregorian chant heritage available to the church. The Abbot Primate, when he was presented with this, he said, the whole Gregorian Latin heritage isn't lost. It's available. Just pick out a record. It's there, done in the best possible way. But the function of monks in the church is a kind of a museum of past liturgical practice.


This is a question and a problem, you see. According to one model, that's the way to go. We've got our identity. We've got our past. It's incredibly rich. Let's just charge directly behind. Let's put the car in reverse and go. And according to the other, that won't do it. The unquestioned beauty and perennial significance of such things as Gregorian chant, the monastic ritual and habit, the Carolingian style of life maintained by the observances, the study of monastic texts and so on, are offset by the fact that many moderns are quite unable to live fruitfully and meaningful lives in a milieu where everything is regulated according to the outlook and the habits of thought that once prevailed in a now extinct culture. It was a glorious culture. Unfortunately, 1981 California is not 1100 Carolingian France.


We might bemoan it. We might say it was better then. But this is the fact. And there's that day now. It's necessarily there. Now, what are we going to do about it? To respond as men of faith so that this new situation, that seems tragic and dreadful, can become a salvific situation. This, I think Merton is suggesting, is the challenge to monasticism today. Now, he says the problem is that every aspect of our life is seen in the old sort of medieval institutional light, whether it be the professions that we'll be witnessing tomorrow again or obedience or liturgy or whatever. You can go at it two ways. You can go at it from the diaspora angle or you can go at it from the organizational institutional Christianity angle. The result of the past is that monastic observance, poverty, obedience and so on tend tacitly to serve not only the purpose of the monk's own sanctification,


but also the maintenance of an institution whose function is to proclaim the superiority of the feudal and the hierarchical way of life as that which is fully and authentically Christian because it bears witness to the days when the church enjoyed uncontested temporal power. We are the witnesses to that wonderful people over people thing and blind obedience and that's the way we've got to go back. Everything's chaos now. This democracy thing hasn't worked. This is the language of the Russian church in exile. This is the language of Eusebius, the great church historian. When he encountered Constantine, he said, there's nothing more horrible than democracy and the monarchical is wonderful and the king is this little icon on earth of the king in heaven, etc. So, we monks, all we are in the present world is this symbol of hierarchical medieval and again, there are some European appies that really plug into this.


Father Abbott is a medieval with the mitre and the huge rings and so that's one way you can go and we play our role by being more prostrate before the Lord Father Abbott and sacred traditions and anyone else. And that's the way we serve the church today because what's lacking today is obedience, etc. That's a whole way you can go and it easily plugs into the whole monastic language. So, what do you do about it sort of thing? How do you get on a kind of a different wavelength that might have something to do with what the church needs? You have this with the very Baroque Benedictine orders. Merton has suggested you even have it with the orders that came out of the 11th and 12th centuries and here he's talking about the Carthusians, the Camaldolese, and the Trappists. So, it gets very much on persona on this argument.


He's often talking very specifically about us. Even the more austere orders do not retain the pure and severe nobility of the 11th and 12th century. There have been all the nuances and insinuations of late medieval piety, the post-Tridentine organization, and of ecclesiastical Baroque so that now the monastery is a highly complex organism where permanent and timeless values are confused with anachronisms and irrelevancies which are sometimes invested with all the solemnity of unchangeable dogma. So, here he's talking about this tragedy of the timeless and the real value being all mixed up with the irrelevancies, anachronisms, which are then invested with all the authority of unchangeable dogma. So, the whole church is going to hell and nothing's the same as it used to be, but the monastery is the one place where things are as they used to be.


The bedrock of stability. And this can be even an unconscious motive of coming to the monastery. I'm very confused by the church out there, particularly confused by the world out there, but here is where it's at. Here is the church of the good old days. And, you know, daily Eucharist and Rosary and the whole bit, like it once was, I can find here. Or in a Trappist monastery or with the Carthusians, etc. So, he says, we've got to be careful, too. We can also be absolutely out of contact with the salvific reality given to us, which is also a tragic reality, which is the diaspora reality. I would here jump to an entirely different... Again, the question, what is our charism as Kamaldolese? Are we especially organization Christianity?


If you go to Kamaldolese and go to the church, you'll never find a more Baroque. And the Hermitage, the Hermitage church is just filled with plastered little babies and doodads. And I personally think it's extremely tragic, and that's the way most of the Kamaldolese there feel. But we got into a very, very Baroque period with all that means. And architecture speaks a whole language about triumphalism, etc. And that became the artistic expression of soul. But what is our real charism? Is it the institutionalism and legality and heaviness? And Merton suggested, no, it's just the opposite. And this is a theme that Don Benedetto often mentions. He says, if there's any justification for solitude and the hermit and the reckless, it can only be in terms of simplicity, the Holy Spirit, and freedom of the children of God. I don't go into solitude because I need legalism and heavy Baroque.


I go into it because I have grown in community. The Spirit is leading me to the situation where I don't need the support of community. I don't need the support of all the doodads and the plaster statues and the laws and father attitude. I can do it on my own in the freedom of the Spirit. Merton, in his book, The Silent Life, remember, has that classical essay on the Kamaldolese. In all religious life, the Spirit is vastly more important than the letter. But the more solitary a life becomes, this is his essay on the Kamaldolese, the more solitary the life becomes, the more important is its Spirit. And the less important, the letter of the rule. You've got the rule there. So the more Kamaldolese I become, the more tied to that rule and you've got to observe every dot. No, absolutely the contrary. I'm a recluse. No one can ever come to me. No. The more you're Kamaldolese, the more you're Spirit, you see.


And again, the less the letter. The Aramidic life is almost exclusively Spirit. That is why the letter of its legislation is generally extremely simple. The early customs of Kamaldolese, to which we have already referred, are no exception. That is why they are extremely adaptable to all places and to all times. When you get into the simplicity of the Spirit, the diaspora problem becomes less dramatic because you can apply it anywhere. You can apply it to a Northern European culture, you can apply it to an African culture, if it's truly Aramidical Spirit. To the extent that it gets Baroque, frankly, we don't want the church architecture of the Hermitage here. It would be a disaster. It's kind of a Neapolitan 17th century. We don't want that. But we certainly want the spirit of the charism. So it might be, what are we doing tomorrow with that life profession? Are we going into a path that continually gets narrower and narrower and more rigorous


and more caught up with that? Or are we going into a thing that should go like this, into the mystery of the Spirit? That's the sort of issue. So how do we adapt? How do we avoid throwing the baby out with the bathwater? This is the whole problem that now Merton starts wrestling with. He says you can do this very easily. You can so swing against organization in Christianity that all you want is the guitar mass with the balloons, and even if you don't say the words of consecration, it doesn't matter at all, and it's more the togetherness, etc. So in the monastic life, renewal can mean just, let's get a big colored television set, let's follow the ballgame on Saturday. And he says this ain't where it's at. So we have to discern what is the essence of our charism. And... What? Once a week.


Once a week, okay. Popcorn is good, yeah. While discarding irrelevancies, monks may at the same time throw out values that are irreplaceable. In this way, the monastic community will be reduced to a group of devout and organized cheese makers. Relatively prosperous, the money will be there. Moderately disciplined, sharing the consolations of the latest liturgical piety, and togetherness around the television set. If Rahner's predictions about the diaspora are correct, such communities will not be able to exist in it, and there will be no serious reason for them to do so. This was the point that came up here. If you so empty your message that it's simply the emptiness of the secular city at its worst, of Madison Avenue, etc., and we're really hip, etc., then that ain't it.


If the Christians cast out in the diaspora came with nothing but a kind of comfortable Roman paganism, they would not have been seeded. So this is the challenge, to take the essence, the heart of tradition, the heart of monastic tradition here that is truly fecund, but not with all the Baroque frivolities and not with all the institutional heaviness and legalism, and this will truly be a fecund, he's suggesting. What is important is the radical change in the unconditional dedication of the monk's life and not its sacred formalities, its ceremonies, and its hierarchical organization. The chief means used by the monk in his ardently committed and deeply personal search are, now he tries to focus in on, what is this heart of archaism? And you almost hear the come out. The first thing he puts here is silence, solitude, austerity, penance, poverty, obedience, meditation,


reading, liturgical worship, productive work, chastity, other characteristic disciplines. Where these are seriously pursued, whether in systematically organized communal structure or out of it, the monastic charism may clearly manifest its presence, even to those who have no idea of charisms or vocations or indeed of religion itself. So we want to get to the nitty-gritty, and he says there's plenty there to keep us busy, and we don't have to worry about the rest, and this will free us on a very personal level. This charismatic vocation of the monk does, in one sense, constitute a barrier between himself and the world, in the sense that we're not simply into the latest television program and the latest fad, etc. But the monk, as such, is actually of no interest to anyone except insofar as he is a monk. He's not trying to be hip or, you know, just really swinging, sort of thing.


But he wants to be truly monk, and that if he's truly monk, but not in the very heavy organization sense, because in that sense, he's a kind of also an irrelevancy to humanity. He's an irrelevancy in two ways. He can go in the way of just building the medieval abatial fortress, or in the direction of getting so hip that, well, he's not different from anyone else. It would be a pity, indeed, for him to try to arouse sympathy and initiate serious conversations with the world, in quotes, by assuring everyone that he lives just as they do and shares all their interests without exception. Yet, and this is this dialectical tension, at the same time, he must not insist so much on his difference that he withdraws into a resentful and negative solitude.


He stresses solitude, but it can't be this, again, this pessimistic solitude of the, remember the victory communique that's linked up with the whole world is going to hell in a handbasket, and I'm getting out of there. You know, even rats will desert a sinking ship. Well, it's going down, and I condemn it, and so I'm different from it because I get out of it. It's not that. Completely turning his back on the rest of men, giving them up with their wickedness to justly deserved perdition. It ain't that. The monk who simply confronts the world of the diaspora with a polite curse, a formula of reprobation and disdain, or even a tear of genuine piety, will not justify his existence in it and will probably cease to exist. It's a very difficult, very razor-sharp path we have to follow. It's the narrow way. There are so many ways to get off, on the right and on the left. So this is the challenge facing us today, and it's a very exciting challenge.


If the characteristic of the diaspora is dialogue, but indifference, then he should be able to dialogue with everyone, even the secular world, even, and here Merton puts the extreme case, the atheist, the atheist humanist in the world. The monk, the truly diaspora monk, doesn't even condemn him, but enters into a fruitful dialogue with him, but not trying to be more atheist than he, but precisely out of this difference, but also out of a whole area of shared commitments. There is a required fruitful sense of polarity in which the monk and, say, the atheist intellectual, are able to discover not only that they can treat one another politely, but that they are indeed brothers, this is underlined in italics by Merton, and that they share many of the same concerns. For example, in the area of world peace, racial justice, and indeed everything that concerns the well-being and development of man.


So the monk is into all these things as Merton was, and then he goes into a long thing about this can't become the central thing of the monk, the latest social cause, but it must remain there as a concern, and every now and then he has to descend into the piazza. This dialogue will remain in the life of the monk a secondary and accidental concern. The monastery will by no means be organized for this as for an end, even though secondary, since the monastic charism is not for anything else. It is what it is, the search for God in unconditional renunciation. Yet, if it paradoxically liberates the monk, this should be a school of liberation in the monastery, not a school of getting into. If it liberates the monk so that he can, when occasion exceptionally demands, communicate with his fellow man and indeed do much to give full scope to the forces of redemption, that must shape the world of his time.


He must give time even here. So he's going about all sorts of nuances. I'm sort of rushing now because typically Merton, he wants to get in all sorts of sides, and it's not just one side, so I don't want to give a one-sided Merton. So I'm rushing through to finish at least the essence of the thing. You see, concretely in our day-to-day life, how to live this diaspora situation? The first thing is, again, live the essence of our vocation, which is prayer. But there are points of contact with this world, and to utilize these as diaspora monks, points of contact like hospitality when guests come, and not just formally accept them, but know where they're coming from, know their problems, their sufferings, etc., be able to help them. And even, and here he opens himself up to the possibility of various apostolates. The monastic apostolate is, of course, primarily one of prayer.


But since some degree of hospitality is one of the essentials of benedicting life, the monastic community does remain in contact with the world, and should normally offer to men of the world a place of silence, peace, and retreat. The need for such things in our world is now so serious as to make this an obligation of charity for the monk. But, of course, the monastery does not exist in order to maintain a retreat house. Always this tension. We're not keeping a retreat house, but maybe we should. Not as our primary goal, but simply as monks in this world. The monk may also accidentally exercise various other apostolic functions. The important thing, however, is for him not to become a prisoner of the routines and organization of an active life. Here one thinks of Romuald, I do. A curious man who, at a certain point, wants to go out and become a missionary in Eastern Europe. How do you relate that with a recluse vocation?


Or he wants to go out and reform cenobitic monasteries, or then he goes into hermitages, and then he goes into reclusion. All sorts of things. Well, again, if you're into a post-Tridentine juridical thing, you look it up in canon law, and canon law gives you your definition, and then you do it as counter-distinguished from the missionary orders and from, etc. And so very neat and very compartmentalized. But it ain't the original charism. And it may not be. That's why canon law is being reworked now in the whole section on the religious life, etc. But it may be that, as Vatican II said, we have to get back to the charism of the founder and go through, but also beyond, a whole Middle-Age and post-Tridentine thing where things become very neat and very secure and very stable, but not quite the spirit of uniquely monastic vocation. So then he concludes this section, that diaspora is not the ghetto.


It's the organization. Christianity is the ghetto, our Catholic part of town and our Catholic institutions and our Catholic newspapers and our Catholic language and all this. The diaspora is just the contrary. It's the going out. This new approach, besides taking into account inescapable realities in the already existing situation, not only of countries behind the Iron Curtain, but also of other Western European nations, allows for more spontaneous and more effective openness in the Christian apostolate. It is, of course, the kind of openness that was sought in the worker-priest movement and is still sought and found by the little brothers founded by Charles Foucault. Then he goes into a very ecumenical thing and says, some of the best experiences in this diaspora monasticism thing are ecumenical monasteries. And I was very happy about this. From the monastic point of view, Protestant monasticism, which is one of the most original and important expressions of the monastic revival of the 20th century,


bears witness to this new combination of apostolic openness with authentic monasticism. One thinks at once of Taizé, which is not absolutely typical in every aspect. There are other less known monastic and ecumenical communities, which are even more free, this emphasis on liberty, freedom, etc., and which give less attention than Taizé to ancient and traditional forms. We might break here for discussion. There's one last fascinating discussion on monastic thought in the Russian diaspora. The Russians have had this problem forced on them with a vengeance. The holy Orthodox czar was suddenly no longer around. The holy Orthodox official church was suddenly no longer around. The laws that made everyone officially Orthodox were no longer around. Orthodox armies were wiped off, etc. What do you do now? Do you simply nostalgize for the past? What is the new style? And he goes into a very interesting analysis of some of the voices.


Against all sorts of voices. So, comments, questions, problems on this. Are you all organization men or diaspora men? Well, in terms of, well, I was thinking about a spiritual reference. It reminded me when people came up to Christ and specifically asked him about how he should follow him. Especially when he was on the moon. The guy came up to me and said, well, I have to go back and bury my father first. He said, well, they're dead, buried, they're dead. And I went back to the dead forms. And the other guy said, well, you know, I'm ready to follow you wherever you're going. He says, I don't have any place to go. And it seems like we just have to find out what is the essence of Christianity. And what is the essence of the charism of monastic life.


And how much the forms that we're attached to are just the outer shell and can't be discovered. This is okay. There's all sorts of the old thing about you can't put new wine in old wineskins. They'll just burst. There are the other texts about I didn't come to destroy the law and the prophets. So there's always this dialectic about to fulfill them. But the essence of the law and the prophets. Not the circumcision and the dietary laws. You can't lift a finger on the Sabbath. Jesus was always getting in trouble with the Pharisees because he was breaking all their laws as they understood them. He said you didn't come to... You have to leave everything.


Also a father, also a mother. If it's a... Or you prefer your brother or your mother to Jesus Christ. I was relating that to monastic riches. We can talk about what a rich tradition it was. How people may be attached to the tradition. It is because of the riches there. But it may be a kind of wealth that has to be discarded in order to follow. He didn't know what to say. He says now I'm going to do a little dance. So he did a little jig. The monk who talks out of the heritage of the fathers, he would know what to say.


But very moving things as the Franciscan said. In some sense, I think the rigidity of late medieval monasticism made movements like the Franciscan explode. Which is a very, very beautiful movement. But he explained about the young Francis who's still the nobleman and he gallops out of the city. And these lepers always at the gate. They had to ring their bell because they couldn't approach the community. But they were so a disaster, so dependent upon others because they no longer had their fingers. They had to be at least at the gate to get help. So he would throw alms and that was something because not everyone did. But at that decisive moment where he gets off his horse and approaches and embraces the leper, which was an act as the Franciscan, in one sense absolutely useless to the leper. Because the leper wanted money. He didn't even dream of this. And some gave him money and some didn't. But no one got off the horse, came up and embraced him. This was something that was qualitatively new. And what is Francis giving? Just himself.


And the leper can't give anything to anyone. But the one thing he can do is embrace back. So the Franciscan heritage is to give in such a way as it invites the other to give back. It's a beautiful thing. And then the Franciscans would go out in the fields and they'd knock on the door and say, May we work your fields today? They wouldn't start by negotiating prices, but we're here, we'd like to work your fields. And then at the evening they'd come and they'd witness not to their possibility of serving, but they'd witness to their needs. And they'd say, Now could you give us something? And sometimes the door was thrown in their face. And at that they'd go out and knock on the next door. But they'd always present the witness of the Gospel in extreme poverty, the kenesis thing, not in power and authority. Now the danger of the monastic heritage is we're the bastion on the hill with all our rich, as you say, liturgy and rich heritage and theology. And people will come up and get it and then they'll descend. And this is beautiful. But it is, it can be very paternalistic and very undiaspora.


But I think as Victor says, you can make a case that Francis corresponds to some early very charismatic forms of Syrian monasticism. Victor argues that Francis is monastic, he's not anti-monastic. Not that you have to literally go out and on the road or something. There's all sorts of ways of living it. And now the Franciscans have gotten so large they can't even live this anymore. You can go into a little village and there's two of you and offer to work there. But if there's 10,000 friars, you can't ascend on the little... So they've had to rethink, etc. And you can't literalize the first very charismatic forms. But this beautiful presence in poverty also, I don't think it means throwing out the authentic riches, but it means...