January 4th, 1983, Serial No. 00416

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Monastic Orientation Set 1 of 2

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about Scheme 7 on monastic asceticism. About the order of the schemes, notice the deliberate priority of the prayer scheme. The two in a way represent two sides of the monastic life, the contemplative side and the ascetical side. To put it in more dramatic terms, the monastic side and the ascetical side. And the priority of the mystical side, or the side of prayer, or the positive thrust towards God, has been emphasized over the other side, which is the side of, call it death to the old man, whatever. It's a question of repent and believe in the gospel, or the forward thrust and the other thrust. Now this scheme caused more problems than any other when it was reviewed about a year ago. It's about 14 months ago now, the last general chapter, so they had to go through all of them in order to give them final approval. This one met with the most difficulties, and


people were the least satisfied with it, and for a couple of reasons. One reason is that the scheme itself had a lot of repetition in it, that is it's not sort of beautifully put together the way the prayer scheme was. It doesn't have that nice pyramid shape sort of. And the mixture of the theological principles and the down to earth concrete things is not quite as smooth. But there's a deeper reason underneath it, and that is the sort of crisis of asceticism itself now in the church. You realize this instinctively if you look around. The church is not comfortable with its own ascetical tradition. I wanted to get that document, I didn't have the document in the library, the penitentiary there, on the revision of the penitential discipline. But you remember the fasting that used to be emphasized, fasting and abstinence on Fridays throughout the year, by the universal church, the Roman Catholic church, and now that's almost disappeared. See, when the


orthodox look at the Catholic church they say, well what's happened to penance in the Catholic church? Because it's almost been abolished, it's kind of a token, there's only what Ash Wednesday and Hill Friday looked like, I think it was a grigatory days of fasting and abstinence. And so it is in other ways. Now we can look at this as a kind of falling apart, you know, a kind of watering down, or a loss of the tradition, or we can look at it as a liberation, or we can look at it as a movement of history which has two sides to it and which we have to study more deeply, okay? Neither being all bad nor all good. It's good to look back, to stand back a bit and look at it with a kind of detachment, try to figure out what's going on. And on one side a lot has been lost. On another side possibly there's a readjustment that's necessary now. It's very difficult from where we are at right now, in our time, to be able to understand it properly, because we haven't arrived at the conclusion of this movement, or to be able to judge the good and the bad


of what's going on, whether it be in the church or whether it be in our own order, in our own constitutions, even in our own community. And if you note the difficulty with asceticism, there's also a difficulty with contemplation, of course, in the West, hence people go East. Similarly, there's a difficulty with asceticism. It just occurred to me this morning, the difficulty we have with the body, not knowing whether to take the body in a positive way or a negative way, not knowing whether to put the emphasis on mortification, on putting to death the old man or the man of the flesh, or to put the emphasis on integration. So the body stands right in the middle of this thing and we have not yet arrived at a new, a solid new attitude with respect to the body in Christian tradition. The whole Christian tradition up to now has tended to emphasize the ascetical regard for the body, okay? An ascetical regard for the body in the light of the cross, whereas if you look at the Eastern tradition, that is the Eastern religions and so on, there's also


an integration thing going on, yoga for instance, and so on. And right now there's a kind of a hesitation between those two attitudes in the Western church as well. Okay, I present that not to shake you up, but just to explain the kind of hesitancy that you find, not so much in the scheme as it turns up later on. Now, we don't have a translation of the new version of the scheme yet. There was a draft given out, a draft given out in Italian at the end of the chapter. And before long we should have, of course, the text of the new constitutions as a whole, and then we'll see the new form of this. The new form is shorter, and it's been attempted to give it a better unity, to make it hold together with the other. And a lot of the repetitions and things about the ember days and so on, even in these 12 years since the first draft of these constitutions have changed, those are the ones that have changed. Do you have to go to the Western tradition on emphasis on the mind?


Yes, very much. In the sense of being able to do something as far as your own will goes rather than self-discipline? Sure, exactly. See, a lot of our embarrassment with regard to the ascetical tradition now, and it's not so true in the Orthodox East as it is in the Western Church, is due to the split between mind and body, okay, in the West, and our getting into a kind of narrow mental framework in the West, in the modern West. We're finding its culmination now with, say, modern day America, where people are like minds walking around, or consciousness walking around disconnected from its own body, in a way, and carrying its own little world around it. And so we really don't have a sound relation to the body, just as we don't have a sound relation to the earth, or to a lot of other things that are sort of in continuity with the body. So a lot of it comes from there. So it's like a bunch of minds sitting down to figure out what to do with their bodies, that's the kind of position we're in. The asceticism necessarily relates to the body,


even though you can say the deepest asceticism is the asceticism of the heart, and that's certainly true. But asceticism is largely the approach to the conversion of the heart through the body, and the West has largely lost the keys to that. Maybe it'll be discovered in a new way. But another thing you have to notice is that we feel the dissatisfaction when you talk about sort of a person going on an isolated ascetical trip. Here's somebody who's by himself doing an ascetical work, and then there's somebody who's hungry over there, and his fasting doesn't have anything to do, it seems, with his hunger. This is a crude example of the dissatisfaction that a lot of people find with the traditional doctrines of asceticism. Notice that they were individualistic, and the other thing is they didn't relate to history. So the biggest ascetical factors in your life are the things that happen to you in your life, rather than the things that you do by yourself. In John McGrath you see the active asceticism and the passive asceticism,


but the passive asceticism is not only that interior passive asceticism that he writes about, but the school of hard knocks, or the passive asceticism of your own history, your own life experience, the life crises as they talk about them today, that kind of thing. So the picture gets broader, but meanwhile the picture that we're accustomed to, that map of the journey that we're accustomed to, gets fainter on the picture. Okay, it starts out as usual with a theological basis. The church sharing in the mystery... Now we have to analyse this in order to bring out the elements, before it gets down to the details. The church sharing in the mystery of the death and resurrection of Christ. So it starts with the position of the church, not of the individual, and with the sharing in the paschal mystery of Christ, which is the centre of our Christianity, sealed with the Holy Spirit. So there's a very positive thrust. And then this position of looking forward towards the end. And this is what you call


the eschatological orientation of monasticism. And it's a long word, long words are so tedious and it's not so darn academic, but it's a very important notion. If you ask yourself, why do monks do the things that they do? Why do they fast? Why do they stay in solitude? Why do they keep silence? The reasons seem to be, fundamentally, eschatological reasons. If you remember in the gospel, when Jesus talks about fasting, there are two things. First of all, see that your heart's not be weighed down, remember with gluttony, indoctrination and so on, so that you're not be able, what does he say, to stand before the Son of Man when he comes? Something like that. That's eschatological. You see, it looks forward to what's ahead. So the reason for being free, even, is not just to enjoy a kind of enlightenment, a kind of freedom, but it's looking ahead to the coming of Christ. Similarly, when they ask him, well, why don't your disciples fast? Remember? The disciples


of John the Baptist are fasting, why don't your disciples fast? He says, well, when the bridegroom is with them they can't fast, but when the bridegroom is taken away, then they'll fast. Now, the bridegroom is taken away so that he can return, and the fasting has to do with the expectation of the return of the bridegroom, who in some way brings the wedding banquet with him, in which the feasting is not just feasting on food and drink, it's feasting on the bridegroom in some way. The feasting and the marriage of the bridegroom in some way are the same thing. But anyway, you see, it's that looking forward, that expectation which is basic to Christian asceticism. Now, once you say that, this asceticism ties in with a bunch of other things, too, because it's communal, because we're all looking forward together. Tends eagerly towards the perfecting of God. Just like Jesus says, he says, repent and believe in the gospel. The repentance, which has often been translated dupendence, remember? Metanoia, which has often been translated dupendence, which is really not an adequate translation, but it looks forward, it's in view of and function of that gospel,


which is the good news, right? Gospel is good news of the kingdom. So it's an event that happens and your asceticism is in view of that, it's in connection with what's happening. It's not isolated by itself. Now, that's very important, okay? Because as soon as... People tend to get dissatisfied nowadays, as soon as you isolate something from the total scheme. If you isolate your meditation from the total scheme, the whole picture, if you isolate your asceticism from the whole picture, it's not satisfactory to us anymore, as it was at one time. And I think it's right that we should have that exigency that everything relates to the center, because the center is Christ, the total picture is Christ, the body of Christ, which is the church, and which is historical, which is something happening in time, in the coming of Christ, the whole picture. That's what we mean when we say to find the theological framework, the theological basis. Now, of course, you can get lost intellectually in this lovely big picture and then not do it. The Holy Spirit has led some sons of the church, among them the monks. Okay, here's the specific monastic vocation and its special exigencies. To seek special forms of


life, and these forms of life are basically ascetical in some way. If you read the oldest Christian tradition around monasticism and before monasticism, it's identified as the ascetical tradition, isn't it? The people who preceded the monks were called the virgins and ascetics, remember? So basically, monasticism is defined by its asceticism. You can look at that in various ways. So asceticism is very important to monasticism. It distinguishes it, it's a specific element. The big trap there is, the big pit to fall into there, is to really identify the monastic life with asceticism, so that it becomes the only thing in the monastic life, or even the principal thing in the monastic life, because asceticism is no substitute for life. See, this is trouble. The principal thing always has to be life. As soon as you make your specific element, element number one really, the central element, as soon as you make the specific element, the central element, then you're in trouble, because the central element always has to be life. It's a trap that we easily fall into in monastic life.


State of pilgrimage. Okay, pilgrimage is going some place and it's being out of paradise at the same time. So you live in accordance with where you're at, and also in accordance with where you're going. Unceasing conversion, that's another definition for the monastic life. And of interior renewal, in response to the word of the Lord. And there are those pivotal words of Jesus, right in the beginning of his preaching. The first words he says in preaching, repent and believe in the gospel. Repent is metanoiete, an important word in Greek, metanoi. And more often than not, is the translated conversion, rather than repent of repentance. Continue where every gift comes from above. Now, what gift are they talking about? The word, and then that the word may become effective. The emphasis here being on grace and on, that asceticism is a response, rather than something sort of brought into one. Imitation of the Lord, filling up in their flesh what is lacking, is St. Paul's expression for his own sufferings. I think those sufferings that St. Paul is talking about, I didn't bring a Bible in,


I think there's one over there. I think that the sufferings he's talking about are things that happened to him, by the way, in his life. I don't think he's talking about his voluntary asceticism at that point. It doesn't really matter. At another point, he does say, I buffet my body. So, St. Paul, even though he's picked up in this tide of the history of salvation, he's being carried along by the current of God's action in the world. And his principle asceticism, I think, is the asceticism of bearing the sufferings of God. Remember how many times he's been stoned and shipwrecked, and this and that. It's not like he has to do a whole lot of things in between. That's what asceticism is. I think that some of what I'm thinking is that aspect of following is more a disposition, rather than the rope of renewal, of following in the same way. Following Christ, you mean?


Following the same rope, where it's Christ who sent the Eastern Tradition. I think the biggest mistake is, in particular, following exactly the same actions. That's right. Without the disposition. That's right. Without the disposition of the desire for the intensity, the urgency. Exactly. It's the spirit that's going. The spirit. Then certain things come up each day that require you to act in a particular disposition. Now, if you're in a monastic community, then the monastic community basically has an asceticism built into it, or should have, if you're the Earl of St. Benedict, and that's the way that works. And your reactions in that spirit will be your work of asceticism, a lot of it. Not all of it, but a lot of it. Because St. Benedict tells us there's low fasting, and so that's something that one doesn't want to make, especially during a time of Lent. So it's true. Imitation is basically the interior imitation. James had his example of who was imitating St. Francis. And he'd take a drink of water


when St. Francis took one, and he'd sigh when St. Francis sighed. You're supposed to sigh on your own, excuse me. I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body and church. He doesn't say any more about his sufferings at that point. I suspect they're the sufferings of his apostasy. Although he talked elsewhere also about the stinging in the flesh, which the exegetes have never been able to pin down. They witness and announce in their own life his pasch and the expectation of the glory of God. This is a very heavy dose of biblical theology here, this long first part. The mind of Christ. The mind of Christ there is connected with that self-emptying, remember, in Philippians the hymn that St. Paul quotes. Have that mind in you which was in Christ Jesus, or having


the form of God, didn't hang onto that but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant. Now that's equated with poverty of spirit before the Father. And then we get these fundamental commitments of the monastic life, a virginal life in obedience, poverty and humility. Now, notice the order here. First virginity has been put, celibacy is put first. Now this is something which has resurfaced at least, I don't know the whole history of it. It resurfaces with Vatican II. You always used to hear about poverty, chastity and obedience. Now you hear about chastity, poverty and obedience. Or chastity, obedience and poverty. Why? Because chastity, celibacy, virginity seems to be more definitive for the monastic life or for the religious life. It's a celibate life, basically, and then it's a life of poverty also in obedience. Now we can talk about it, but another time we can talk about why that is. It's rather interesting.


I think we might go along with this same remark. Yeah. That's what St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7. He says, if you marry, your mind's going to be divided. Because you want to please your wife as well as God, you have to think about the world. And it's very trivial, yeah. Also, I think it's probably the most realist, analogical. How do you figure? How can you say that? Well, because of its immediate orientation towards the kingdom. It's like the ten virtues. That's right. And it cuts pretty deep into your own being, too. It's like being cut off from this earth with a knife, almost. And also, it's a kind of open-shut thing. Either you are or you're not. Whereas the other ones admit of degrees, even though when you make a vow,


it's supposed to guide you to a certain level of what is like obedience. But they admit of degrees more than chastity does, more than celibacy does. Either you have a wife or you don't. It's kind of a stark one. Which is not to say that asceticism or contemplation is not possible for married people. It's not to say that at all. It's only to say what defines this state of life, which is monastic. Now, Professor Panakar has the thesis which sends people up the wall quite often, that you can be a monk and be married at the same time. That is, that married people are... and be effectively, actively married, that is, living with your wife, okay? You're expecting to admit degrees of chastity, but there are degrees of obedience and degrees of poverty and degrees of... That's right, that's right. Basically, it's a yes or no. Or slightly virginal. That's right. So it's like the basic decision, the basic option,


which is yes or no, and then the others follow from there. Also, you can have a form of religious life or monastic life in which obedience is not that much stressed, like a solitary life, where obedience is there, but it's not really that pressing. And poverty, that's a lot of grades, or different interpretations. And humility. I don't know why humility was put in there. It characterizes the Benedictine way, that's for sure, in the monastic way in general. We don't make a vow of humility, of course. Okay, they manifest and nourish. Notice that double attitude towards values. In other words, you express something and you make it at the same time. This is a very interesting thing, if you think of it philosophically. How does it work that that which expresses something also nourishes it? Well, that's the way we're made. And it says a lot about the interaction between the body and the spirit, or the body and the heart, that we use our body to express what we feel, we also use our body to make ourselves feel something. Well, it's true


already that we feel and we do. We feel and we act through the body, don't we? And asceticism has so much to do with the body. Individual and community asceticism. Now, that Apostolic Constitution of Penitentiae, which I wanted to bring over and forgot, is the Apostolic Constitution of Pope Paul VI, I believe it was, on Lent and on the penitential exercises for Lent. It's in a separate booklet, which is probably still on my class shelf, because I use it every year at Lenten time. And what it is doing is trying to bring up to date the theology, excuse me, and the norms for asceticism. So it accompanied, I think, it was at the same time, maybe, as that revision of the penitential code, for instance, for Lent and for the rest of the year too. And so it broadens the notion of penance, especially in view of social justice and the world situation.


So, for instance, if you've got a people that lives on fish and don't have anything else to eat, to tell them, or live on meat and don't have any fish, islanders, cannibals, how can you live with cannibals? Anyway, these things are very dependent upon the situation of people. And also, the penance of one, the fasting of one nation should feed another nation. It should not be a one-sided gesture. That's part of it. So, okay, so the idea is to incorporate penance into the total body in different ways. So, he talks about finding new ways of practicing penance. In order to share by patience in the sufferings of Christ, deserve to be partakers of his kingdom.


That's the end of the prologue. And he refers to that fiery text of St. Paul in Philippians 3, about his identification with Christ. Desiring to prefer nothing to the love of Christ. So, we're moving back and forth between scripture, the rule of St. Benedict, and Vatican II, and the other documents, the other church documents of the time of Vatican II. Those three points. Prefer nothing to the love of Christ. Purity of heart. This is an attempt to enrich it with patristic references, okay? A reference to the rule, and a reference to cation, because purity of heart is the key concept of cation, in the First Conference of Agamemnon. Grace. Combat against sin. These are patristic notions, too, the notions of the spiritual battle, the struggle against sin. Life of Christ in the flesh and in the spirit of mortal man. Second Corinthians in Philippians. Penitential moments


and seasons of the Holy Liturgy. Okay. Connect your penance also, your asceticism, with the liturgy. See, continually it's an attempt to move asceticism out of its isolation, and out of its possible individualism, and into relation. It's an asceticism of relation. Hence, it should be incorporated, integrated into the liturgical year, just as it should be integrated in some way into sacred history, in that eschatological looking forward. And they go into details on that later, when they talk about the special times in the liturgy. Suitable community penitential celebrations, in order to strengthen the common spirit of conversion. We've had some of those. Habitually, we have one, for instance, at the beginning of Lent, or early in Lent, at the beginning of Advent. We don't have many of them. Give new life to the traditional forms of the chapter of false, and of the general absolution. The general absolution, that is inserted into the penitential


celebration that we have once in a while. No satisfactory replacement has been found for the traditional form of the chapter of false, which is given in those declarations. Our form of the chapter of false was self-accusation, which was done at the Sunday chapter. When we called it a chapter, we meant that as much as anything else. Is it no longer in effect? It's no longer in effect. I don't think it's practised in... It's not practised in Gamaliel, and I doubt if in any of the houses of the Order, because it has become a mere formalism, the chapter of false. It's in Declaration 389, mostly, but it doesn't give the... Religious are bound to say their fault in chapter, and to do the penance imposed by the rule of the declarations. Now, the way that this worked was, on Sunday morning, after the chapter talk, it was after, it was at the end, the prayer


would give an exhortation, they would give a conference, and then at the end, now the novices will say their fault, or something like that. So the novices would kneel down, they were sleeping, and they would be unseated, and then they would find something to say. Perhaps only one of them would actually say it, maybe if they took turns, because all of them would do it. One might say his fault, and then another one would do it for the next week. However, the limitations on the false were that they had to be external faults. Now, it turned out that people would just be trying to, racking their brains, trying to think up something that they could say, and it didn't work. It didn't work, because they weren't really things that affected the life of the community. And also, in that context, people were pretty isolated, and so the faults were individual faults, and they were not relational faults, mostly. In other words, you wouldn't be so likely to say, I was uncharitable to my brother last week, that I used very strong language, or I was irritable with my


brother, and you wouldn't be likely to say that. You'd be more likely to say, I used too much soap, or I left the light on, or I broke something, or something like that. And that wasn't working. See, what that does is it trivialises your notion of your conscience, it trivialises your conscience, actually. So you're actually getting kind of pharisaic, and getting scrupulous about small things, systematically. So that's why it was wrong. Also, it worked in two or three stages. First the novices, and then the late brothers would say theirs, and then finally the priests would kneel and say theirs. Meanwhile, the other two groups had already departed, which was not exactly... That wasn't so good either. Here I'm being kind of negative on the type of faults, but it was something that for a long while apparently didn't function very well. The Trappists had an interesting way of doing it. You didn't accuse yourself, you accused your brother. And that could lead to some famous sort of sequences that the old practice will tell you


about. You know, Brother Rick says, I saw Brother B.D. so-and-so, and then Old Brother B.D. waits for a few weeks, and then he catches Old Brother Rick, and he comes back and puts him out of it. And sometimes it would smolder for years, you know. You get a chance to nail him. It made the chapters more interesting. I mean, people always woke up towards the end. What to replace that with? Because, see, we can make fun of the thing itself, the way it was done, but we can't make fun of the reality, because it needs to be. But it's very hard to find something that will work. The most promising suggestion has been the review of life. I don't know if any of you have experienced the review of life. It comes from a couple of sources in France, and one is the Little Brothers of Jesus. The idea is that you take something from... Now, obviously, a whole bunch of people can't all do this. One or two can do it. You take something from the last week, for instance, or a period of time, and then you review it in the light of faith. Now, it doesn't have to be something that you've done wrong. You don't start with a fault,


you start with an experience. And then you reinterpret it in the light of faith, in a couple of different ways of doing it. The trouble is it doesn't work with a large group. It works with a small group when you have a widened up experience. We've tried it with a novice group, for instance, and it didn't work very well. Part of the trouble is that when you're living in a monastery, you're all living together. So if I had an experience last week that very possibly involves you, or one of you anyway, okay? Now, if I bring that out, the whole situation is loaded, because other people are participants, and so it easily arises some sort of interpersonal thing. Whereas the Little Brothers of Jesus, if they're working outside with people, you see, and then they come back and they bring this experience, that's something else. You have different experiences, and a broader experience. So it doesn't work so well in enclosed communities with other. Nevertheless, that kind of exchange in a small group can be good, because it can really arouse the conscience, it can really wake up the heart to asking ourselves. And the idea of it is


to revive a sense of faith, and a sense of discernment, and to revive also the sense of sin, that sense of urgency and of responsibility. Something which the Chapter of Faults was not doing. One trouble is, in a community like ours, you've got a couple of different groups, and you can't imagine doing this with the whole community. If Brother Philip is there, and some of the other older members are there, they're just not on the same wavelength as the younger hundred, okay? The things that are going to be real for some of the younger monks, are not going to be real for the older monks, and vice versa. So it's hard. You have to have a kind of homogeneous group in there, a group who are sort of formed together. And it needs to be a small group. It's hard to do it with more than six or eight, if you have twenty people. Okay, the usual way to do that is with a confessor, or with a spiritual director.


In the Sacrament of Penance, in the monastery, many people use that. But that's done one-to-one, rather than with a group, okay? This is a different thing. This really brings his or her own experience into the group, and then there's a group discernment, and there can be feedback from various people in the group. Yeah, that's true. It can be real liberating. But there are things, a lot of things, and maybe the


most serious things in your life you don't want to share with more than a couple of people. It's a lot to ask a person, really, to share deeply interior things with a very large group. Some of those people, as close to him as you might trust for others. Don't you have to go in the direction of opening up completely? It's not the monastic tradition somehow. At least, it's not our tradition, okay? It's something that can be brought in, but it's not... Yeah, that's the one-to-one. In the sacrament. In our tradition, that's the way it's been done, okay? With the spiritual father and with the sacrament opponents, but not with the community. So, the community approach here is entirely new. The chapter of faults, even... Well, that's one of the reasons why it didn't work well, was that you really couldn't reveal deeply interior things. They were supposed to be exterior faults, okay? So, you couldn't bring in maybe the things that deeply affected you. You weren't supposed to. It was against the custom. It's also a tradition that Christ must have been against revealing things to people


without the wisdom of the religious community, in the imitation of Christ. The imitation of Christ is... Certainly, there's a strong tradition in that way, but also that can be looked at. That can be criticized too. Because the imitation of Christ tends to be pretty individualistic in many ways, but that's also true of the monastic tradition. It doesn't encourage that kind of revelation. It's especially true of graces, you know, favors from the Lord, that the whole tradition discourages revealing them to a group. But also, I think, of difficulties for various reasons. Well, again, there's a pretty well-contributed, you know, people know that there's even something between the psychic and the general falsehood, you know, the view of life and individual confession, is that if you were an individual person... That's right. ...you might have a certain vision. That's right. So, we have something that doesn't work on a community level, but it works this way, that at certain stages in a person's monastic life, he's encouraged to get together with


two or three or four other people who will give him feedback about himself. Okay. Not necessarily on a specific problem, just in general. Say, before entering, what do we do, before the novitiate, before a simple profession? Yeah. So, what he does is he finds two people to cast the stones, and he asks them if they will help him in that way, and then he gets together with them, and generally they come to the prior, so he's got four people, and then they just sit and they tell him what they think, of how he's doing, how he might do better, where are the rough edges and so on. And that's worked pretty well in some cases. It can be kind of a hot seat, you know, it can be kind of quite, you know, usually it's pretty affirming. That they start to think? Yeah. It's also a little more lively, you know, I've never participated in this. Yeah, he has a say in who's going to do it, so he doesn't have to pick his voice down.


And instead of the two going at each other, the group would do it together, and the prayer, some quiet meditation, to focus on the feelings of a helpful brother. And then the individual would express what his reaction was to the other person, through the music, and then the other person would have a chance to... That sounds pretty sophisticated, you know, that's really... It's a lot of wisdom. There's a lot of wisdom in that. And they would usually sit until the thing was resolved. If the person could not resolve the thing, you'd have to leave it. But you had two people with a difference, did both of them have to leave?


It would usually be one person who was making the accusation. Oh, I see. And if he wasn't resolved with the other person, he was accusing them of the accusation. It's interesting, it puts the weight on you. You know, the difference with somebody, it's socially forbidden to say anything about them, you see. You have to indicate by various ingenious indirect means. You can never mention it. You can never mention it. Even when... And even after it's cleared up, you can't say... Isn't that something? You can't spear it, can you? It's Java. So, well, there's some ideas. Let's see. We're down at the bottom here.


Source and seal of the grace of conversion in the Sacrament of Penance. Ah, there we are. For this reason, let them partake of it frequently. Now, this is a change from the earlier constitutions, which were derived from the canon law, which said that religious should go to confession, I think, once a week, and let the superior see that they do, without violating the seal of the confessional. So this is aimed in the other direction, there to go frequently, but let them have due freedom with regard both to the Sacrament of Penance and to spiritual direction. The superior is not to hound people and say, well, have you been to confession this week? So the weekly confession, with the long lines, you don't find it anymore in the monastery, do you? But people are exerted to go frequently, and frequently might be something like every two weeks, you know, for some people once a week. It's left to you. Confession and spiritual direction are two different things.


They can be done at the same time, but they don't need to be. And it may be inopportune if we have a bunch of people going to confession, sort of by the Buddhist way, at the same time. There's not really time for a spiritual direction that other people need. Although there's always a little spiritual direction involved in confession, we can never make an absolute split between the two, insofar as there is some kind of advice, counsel given beyond what's seen. Okay, number four. Now, to our tradition, the tradition of Saint Ramana. Solitude, silence and fasting. You can see where... First we read the sort of theology of the Church, and something more specific for the monastic life. Now something specific for the Canondalese, and it ends up with the... What do they call it? The trinomium, the Canondalese trinomium. Regalum yeunandi, fasting. Selendi, keeping quiet. And nirmanima sa. It's attributed to Saint Ramana.


And then it goes on about solitude, and about fasting, and about silence. And then later on, it comes back to fasting again. It's a kind of strange order. You can see why they reorganized it. Okay, it tries to give the purpose for each of these things. See, the old constitutions would tend to say, We do this, and this is how we do it. These constitutions tend to say, This is why we do it. Or, first here's the reason why, and then here's what we do. With less emphasis on how we do it. For the benefit of the interior activity of the monk. Notice the centering on the word there. A loving colloquy with God. So that's beautiful. Now, that instruction, Venite Seorsum, is the document right after Vatican II, in 1969, a few years after. On the contemplative life and on a cloister for nuns.


It's in this Flannery's edition of the Vatican II documents. Not in Abbott's edition, in Flannery's edition. On page 657 and the following. That document actually has two parts. The first part is on the contemplative life in general, and specifically on solitude and silence. The second part is on the enclosure of nuns, and is a juridical part. The first part is spiritual and theological. The second part is legal. The first part was largely composed by Jean Leclerc, rather than Hedda, or by Jean. The second part was largely composed, I think, by the Congregation of Religions. And it's of a different kind. It talks about the papal cloister. And a lot of nuns have reacted to ferocity. Others with devotion. Fasting. The whole person, soul and body, to participate once again in the Paschal Mystery, the death and resurrection of Christ. Contrast between the law of spirit and the law of the flesh. In addition to fasting,


it's necessary to seek other means for interior asceticism being expressed. And it refers to penitentiament again, which tries to point out those other means. And especially, of course, the indicative other means, is doing something for the poor. Silence, in number five. That silence of the interior man, which is active in virtue. Obviously, that's a quotation. Love of silence and of the self. In the Life of the Five Brothers, another one of our basic acumens. And Blessed Rudolf's Constitution, that would be the long constitutions. And then the quote is from Blessed Rudolf. Meditation and silence. Silence without meditation is death. Meditation without silence is fruitless. Because remember, his figure of speech is a little more lively. It's the corpse in the grave, or something like that. Something like that. Solitude does not separate them


from the ecclesial communion. Now, number six has the purpose, first of all, to point out the difference between the monastery and the hermitage, and that things are going to... Asceticism is going to be more accented in the hermitage. And also the needs of the individual persons. Okay, that's the first part of it. The second part of it are monastic communities recognize suitable personal relationships between their own members. Now, this is something new, in that earlier constitutions or declarations would tend to discourage friendship, actually, or discourage personal relationships. There was a kind of fear of that kind of thing. And this is a change that's come with our time as well, and kind of universal in these communities. It's an important kind of change. You notice how we talk about the socializing of asceticism. Well, here's another aspect


of the socializing of asceticism, a positive encouragement of relationship, rather than considering relationship with people to be a kind of contamination or dilution of the condemnative or danger to it. And you remember that there used to be a lot of fear or caution with regard to particular friendships, as they were called, which tended to go in a direction of negativity at this point, either in a sense of kind of shared discontent or murmuring, or actually in the direction of homosexuality. So this is a thing that went way back in the Jewish... fear of individual relationships. And it's very hard for us to sort of be content with that mind view as modern persons are. Friendship seems like a necessity. If you look at the early commandments,


if you read about St. Ronald and his first disciples, there was a very warm atmosphere of friendship there. That's been remarked by a couple of writers who have written articles specifically on friendship among the first commandments. So something sort of sticks up and people see it and write about it, in contrast to a lot of the tradition after a long time. It's different, and of course you remember the Aramidical life would have the biggest danger of actually discouraging friendship, because as soon as you start emphasizing solitude, you can start discouraging friendship. St. Ronald's life was different. In the Cenobitical tradition, although you have a lot of the same thing, a lot of that, let's call it spirituality of isolation, yet you have some writers who really did speak of friendship in growing terms. The most well-known of them being Albert of Duval, as you know, who wrote the treatise called Spiritual Friendship. Father Albert wrote a book on it. He's best known for that doctrine of spiritual friendship. And in Cistercian life,


I think it was kind of widespread as the strongest exponent. Some of them really idealize it, you know. Albert of Duval, he took this track to Cicero that day, Amicizio, and he works from there. But people are so different in Africa. Two ways that people are different, which I think is important. First of all, our personalities are very different. So some people are very emotional, very affective. They very easily make friendships, and their life, their spiritual intensity can very easily dissipate itself into friendships, I think. Some of us are like that. Other people have a shell around them like one of those macadamia nuts. And they can't even love God until that shell has been broken through, and until they feel the friendship and the acceptance and the love, the affirmation of other people. And if half of their monastic life is breaking that shell of rigidity or of fear, of defensiveness, whatever you want to call it, we're extremely different in that way. Both from basic personality structure and also from our experience. Whether we've opened up


or whether we've closed up. So it's very hard to make a general principle. The other thing is that people change as they progress, okay? There have been several books, a number of books written in recent years, some of them coming out of the charismatic movement on spiritual friendship. Paul Hembridge, the Dominican, wrote one or two books on that. One's called Friendship and the Lord's Prayer. They're very optimistic. Now, under certain circumstances, a person who could not, at a certain level of his life, engage in a deep friendship without all kinds of problems, and here it's a matter of also friendship between man and woman, at another stage in life is able to have a spiritual friendship which doesn't pull down his spiritual life, it actually fosters it. But it's very easy to romanticize and to oversimplify that, because people, we can really influence our thinking, our discernment very much by our preferences, our desires. Nonetheless, it's true. There's a difference in the time as a person gets older and smaller. There should be.


So friendship should be less dangerous. But at the same time, you might say, well, he needs it less. That may or may not be so. He has these examples of the saints, okay, of the ones that are always pointed out, Francis de Sales and Jane Doucette, St. Francis and St. Clair, St. Teresa and John of the Cross. Sometimes the intimacy of those friendships are very much exaggerated. Yes, among men. He had a son, and he was in the community. There was a community where he was, and it's interesting that he's a great man. And it's very neat perfectionism, but it is effective in spiritual life. It's really good to have a great son. Christ is a father and a mother and a spirit of God. Is that something we have to have? I guess that is your friendship.


Could you talk a little about the difference? Okay, that's in St. John, isn't it? He says, As I have loved you so have I loved my mother. It's John 15 after the parable of the vine, as I believe. First of all, friendship on a natural level comes from our inclinations, right? So we tend to make friends with the people and maintain friendships with them when we have a common interest, when we're inclined towards one another or both together towards a common interest, that kind of thing, okay? But the kind of friendship he's talking about is not on that basis. That kind of basis, actually, if you take a community or take a church, if you get people becoming friends for those reasons, they can very easily split up into little groups, okay? A little group over here is interested in this and they find themselves congenial because of their personalities. Another little group over here based on their congeniality and the fact that naturally they like one another. They get along well together, okay? Now, that's not the Christian friendship thing. The Christian friendship


is to have communion with the people with whom you're thrown together. Or you can say the people that were called together with you because Jesus called the apostles together, right? He says, I have chosen you. And those people are chosen in some way by divine providence to be together with you and you're supposed to be friends with all of them. Now, that's a problem. It's on the level of when he says love your enemies. So, when he says be friends to one another or love one another as I have loved you, that implies a business of laying down your life, okay? To lay down our life in that case is to lay down our preference, is to lay down our liking under the exigency of that commandment of love. So, at a certain point it may seem to be the opposite of that first thing which is following your heart, okay? So, we've got to find our heart on a deeper level and it's by no means easy. I mean, it can grind for your whole life trying to like people that you naturally don't like. So, it's really quite a commandment. It demands a transformation. The other kind of friendship is such a support, you know, and so great.


But the fact is in a community you can't get too ascetical and too high an ideal of friendship or people will just be hating one another trying to love one another. So, you've got to be friends as you can be friends and then hope that someday you'll be friends as the Lord wants. I don't think there's such a discontinuity between the two because God is very merciful and you'll notice that he gives his grace into the context as it is to make it move towards that other one, okay? But he also continually gives you a little test to see if you're really becoming a gospel type of friend or just a kind of buddy. Things come up and you see where you're at from time to time. It's the thing between the rich and the poor. Do we love those that love us do we love the rich or do we love those that hurt us do we love the poor? And continually that thing in the gospel. It's like the mystery that the mystery to me too is the way that Christ handles it I think so well is that he still brings in our nature our human nature he's telling us that he doesn't mean you've got to hang up with this guy but you've got to go to the wall with him. That's right. And it's so mysterious.


As much as you're not at the ceiling it's full of love I don't know you've got to even like this because he's going to be coming up and it's so mysterious. You don't even have to enjoy one another's company really. And yet when he says I've called you friends in the context of the last supper the warmth of it just flows out so it sort of covers this whole thing too. It's meant to be warm it's meant to be the experience of love not just this sacrifice thing. It's a positive perspective. That's right. That's right. John is the one that the Lord loved. It's quite a complex subject actually. Okay, we'll just do a little more and then we'll get to it. We got down to personal relations


that's at the bottom of page 44. Apostolic contact for the ecclesial community that sends us on to scheme nine actually later on. So this is only a reference. Okay, number seven. Cultural and spiritual preparation. After the ordinary cycle of formation they'd be promoted by periodic community meetings. Now that would have been a rarity in the old days. At times when the renewal was going on we had these periodical discussion meetings for the whole community on the renewal. Oh my goodness that became heavy because we'd go through the same things over and over and fight over the same battlegrounds. Once in a while actually our chapter meetings turn out to be community discussions because we had most of the community in there at the time and some of the best in there as well. And once in a while we'll have another discussion but usually the whole community is not convoked. Usually there's somebody here to talk about some particular thing as a modicum.


We haven't been having a lot of discussions of the whole community. And well meetings and discussions are two different things. With a community like ours it's hard to do that. It's hard to get the whole community together for some kind of instruction from California. I think we don't understand that. The proximity of several communities? In other words several communities in Italy. I'm thinking of two in particular here like Fontevillano and Monticello. One is a monastery and one is a hermitage and they're only maybe 40 miles apart. Like there are three communities over in Monticello that mark the marches which are within a circle of maybe 50 miles in diameter. So it's quite natural for them to come by and make a resource. They've been pushing them to do it


but they haven't done a lot of it because even between those communities there's not, there's a little, too much difference. Besides which the members are not young in those communities. So they don't have a lot of get up and go to do these things. Formation. Who? Us. Advent and Lent in number eight. Prayer and asceticism. So those are times of intensification of the spiritual life. You find that in the Rule of St. Benedict remember, in the special chapter of Lent where he says although the whole monastic life should be a Lent yet during this time we should be more monks as it were and therefore do these things. The ember days. The ember days have kind of disappeared on Friday. Notwithstanding the changed conditions of men on Friday is still there. Ember days were days


at four corners of the year when there was a series of three days four times during the year and there was a certain little liturgy. If you look in the Latin brief here, either the Roman one or the monastic one you'll find a special office for the ember days. There was sometimes called the logation days because they were days of special prayers and they were actually originally put there to fit the kind of natural cycles of the year. For instance, there would be one in the spring and one at the harvest time when there would be prayers for the needs of the time agricultural needs and so on and this goes way back way way back and at the same time for one or two of those days sometimes all three of them there would be an encouragement for a special penance for prayer and abstinence for fasting and abstinence. I've forgotten


now. It had something to do with ashes I've forgotten. That's right. Should we investigate or maybe institute these things further off or not? Well, if they're brought back they'll have to be like the Ember Days possibly something could be brought back. The trouble is that modern man is not close enough to the soil not close enough to nature and to the rhythms of nature and that's true even in a monastery. When you try to bring it back in an artificial way you get into trouble. It's one thing in India when you're living close to the ground and one day I can be here possession and when the culture of the place is still living in those patterns and those rhythms it's another thing to re-institute something which you've really lost your grip on. Trying to restore symbols which have disappeared is not easy. Once you lose touch with them culturally


and collectively it's very difficult to re-institute them. You notice the difficulty even realizing deeply the liturgical symbols the Eucharistic symbols and so on. The Vatican too tries to bring them back and make them real for you but it's still difficult. There is a certain efficacy in the symbol itself or the rite itself in the Eucharist even if you don't at first understand it or believe it or whatever. There is. You do it and you share a certain benefit. There is as long as the symbol and the rite itself is suitable and remains close enough to its original power and meaning. Most of these things have become somewhat shrunken or for one reason or another have lost their closeness to the original meaning the fullness of the original meaning. It seems to me that a lot of it comes from the spirit being revivable as we say. Oh yeah.


There is a lot of interest in reviving symbolic death, cancer. I should be speaking of this more or less dispassionately because these are just historical facts. I don't have to argue on what side of the equation. The question to put in front of ourselves is how do we recover the richness of... Well, it still doesn't have to be constitutional as we did last year. As we did last year but this I don't know if this appears in the draft. I'll bet the reference to the younger days has been dropped. Because I don't think that the bishop's conferences or the dioceses in the individual countries observed them. Do any of you remember Umber Days being celebrated? I don't know. See, this was a part of the general church observance. You had masses for the Umber Days in your election round. Are they in the second round? I don't think they are. No, you see, so they really dropped it out of the practice of the church


and that's why we dropped it out of the practice of the church. Okay. Well, we haven't so far. We haven't up to 1964, 65. Okay. That next paragraph, Understanding Change Conditions, the sentiment and certainly more deeply in the into the mystery of Christ. And always trying to get things back into the theological context, I'm going to point it towards the Ember Days. It was still in the calendar, the Ember Days in 1969. And number nine refers to recreation. It's put in very discreet terms. There was a kind of panic fear that recreation would become obligatory with certain regularity.


Especially people here in New Commandment didn't want that. Charity and balance, equilibrium of the person. And the next one is kind of a subtle nudge towards a meal with conversation. And the meals of the Brethren should be ordinarily accompanied by readings. Remember that in most monasteries, in most communities, there are daily meals taken in common. And sometimes three meals a day. Usually the breakfast meal, for instance, will not be where everybody goes in and sits down at the table. This one about the regular readings has not been followed very scrupulously in the monastery.


See, after this, this first draft of these Constitutions, there's a kind of practice of twelve years now, in which certain things have become augmented and certain things have disappeared. And the table reading also is not an ordinary practice. And ours, of course, is a good reading. At the most suitable time, the Holy Rule, which we read on Sunday mornings, and the statutes of the congregation should be read in common. That means the Constitutions. We were reading the Constitutions in the refectory up until about a year ago. And then we stopped. At that time we had retreatants in the refectory, and, well, the retreatants are for us. Some of you will remember that. Do any of you? To hear a couple of detached articles of the Constitutions, isolated from the context, is not very helpful. So we haven't found a suitable context for going through the Constitutions and reading them in common. So we're in an interval now where we won't do that.


What we were doing was we'd have a reading of the Scripture and then we would have a meeting of maybe two or three or four members from the Constitutions before the Sunday meal. Okay, let's stop there and start next time at number ten, page forty-six, and we'll go on to the next theme.