January 4th, 1983, Serial No. 00416

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Monastic Orientation Set 1 of 2




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 mystical side and the ascetical side. And the priority of the mystical side, or of the side of prayer, or 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, after those general chapters, and they had to go through all of them in order to get some final approval. This one met with the most difficulties. 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. 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 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 Ashwinstain looked at it, I think it's a grigatory, it is a fasting or 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. 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. 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, you know, 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 the kind of hesitancy that you find, not so much in the scheme that 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 a little bit. And a lot of the repetitions and things about the ember days and so on, things that, even in these 12 years since the first draft of these constitutions have changed, those are the ones that have changed. Okay. Do you think that has to do with the Western tradition of emphasis on the mind? Yes, very much. In the sense of being able to do something as hard as your own will,


or is that a method of 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, 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 them. 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, you know, 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 little while. 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, okay. 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, okay. This is a crude example of the dissatisfaction that a lot of people find with the traditional doctrines of asceticism, 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, okay. In John McGraw's 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, 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 of... Now, we have to analyze 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 center of Christianity, sealed with the Holy Spirit. So there's a very positive thrust. And then this position of looking forward towards the end. Now, this is what you call the eschatological orientation, okay, of monasticism. Those 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 and so on? The reasons seem to be fundamentally eschatological reasons. 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 and optimism and so on, so that you're not be able, as they say, to stand before the Son of Man when he comes, or 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's with him, 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? Atenoi, 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? The 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 that. It's not isolated by itself. Now, that's very important, because 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 relate 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 anymore, that's the other side of 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. 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. State of pilgrimage. Okay, pilgrimage is going someplace 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 an interior renewal, a 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 metanoete, an important word in Greek, metanoe. And more often than not is the translated conversion as a point of repentance. Continually, 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 that asceticism is a response, rather than something sort of you're brought into one's own home. 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 with me this morning, but 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, remember? 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, but that's what he tries to say. In fact, somewhere along the line, I'm thinking of that aspect of following. It's more our disposition, rather than the rope or the reserve of following in the same way. Following Christ, you mean?


Following the same rope, whether it's Christ or the same Eastern tradition. I think the case in the States is in particular that I'm following exactly the same actions, without the disposition. I don't have the disposition or the desire to do intensity, religiously. It's the spirit that's being desired. Then certain things come up each day that require me to act in that 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 either 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 does at a time, especially during a time of Lent, and that kind of thing. 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, it's good. I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I compete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body and spirit. 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 the visible. 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 on to 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 for another time. 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 true. So. Also I think it's probably the most really analogical. How do you figure? How can you say that? Well, because of its immediate orientation towards the kingdom. It's like the ten virgins. That's right. And you're really, 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 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 Panekar has the thesis which sends people off the wall quite often. That you can be a monk and be married at the same time. That is that married people, and be effectively, actively married, that is living with your wife. So... You're expecting there are no degrees of chastity. But there are degrees of obedience and degrees of contemplation. That's right. That's right. Basically it's a yes or no decision. 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. 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 present. And poverty makes for a lot of grades. Or a different interpretation. And humility. I don't know why humility was put in there. It characterizes the Benedictine way, that's for sure. And 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. Here's 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 Penitentia, 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 that 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 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,


the island is cannibal, how can you really kill a cannibal? 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 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 of 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? References to the rule and a reference to passion, because purity of heart is the key concept of passion in the first conference of Abba Moses. Grace. Combat against sin. These are patristic notions too, the notions of the spiritual battle and struggle against sin. Life of Christ in the flesh and in the spirit of mortal man. Second Corinthians in the Prologue. 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 somewhere in the sacred history, in the 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 convergence. We've had some of those. Eventually 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 Faults 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 Faults, which is given in those declarations. Our form of the Chapter of Faults was self-accusation,


which was done at the Sunday Chapter of Respect. When we called it Chapter, we meant that as much as anything else. It's no longer in effect. I don't think it's practiced in... It's not practiced in Kenobi and I doubt if in any of the houses of the Order. Because it has become a mere formalism, the Chapter of Faults. 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 Declaration. Now, the way that this worked was, on Sunday morning, after the Chapter talk, it was after, it was at the end, before I would give an exhortation, I would give a conference, and then at the end, now the novices would say their fault, or something like that. So the novices would kneel down, the rest of the community would be unseated, then they would find something to say.


Perhaps only one of them would actually say it, maybe if it took time, 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 faults 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 as food. But I used very strong language, or I was irritable with my brother. 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 trivializes your notion of your conscience. It trivializes your conscience, actually. So you're actually getting kind of pharisaic, and getting scrupulous about small things, systematically. So that's why it was bad. 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. 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 Trappists will tell you about. Brother Rick says, I saw Brother Beatty so-and-so. And then Old Brother Beatty waits for a few weeks, and then he catches Old Brother Rick and comes back and puts him out of it. And sometimes it would smolder for years. He got 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, it 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 with the Little Brothers of Jesus, if they're working outside with people, and then they come back and they're doing this experience, that's something else. You have different experiences, and a broader experience. So it doesn't work so well in enclosed communities. 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 herself. 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 Paul is 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 members. 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. Can you do it with your own particulars, and non-Semitesh particulars, without doing it with Semitesh particulars? Like in keeping a journal, I don't do it on a regular basis, but one of the things I try to do is to maintain the particular purpose. 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 is a community. Doesn't that also... I'm thinking the wealth of experience, of twelve people, just one other person, I don't need my own experience. Anywhere, it's a broad shooting. I think we both use the same thing, the same case, the same aspect. Usually it's not a particular act, it's the disposition of it, that comes within that. In a charismatic group, you're more likely to have that kind of sharing in which a person 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.


Well, there are a lot of times in a group where you can't handle something that's going on in your own mind. You get the feeling that you're really in it, and it's your own personal problem. And then sometimes you go in and you hear somebody else, and some of them are really in denial. That's true. It can be. You're liberated. But there are 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 to share deeply interior things with a fairly large group. Some of those people, if close to them, you'll find trust with others. Don't you have to go in a direction of opening up to people? 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... It's the importance of the spiritual father. Yeah, that's the one-to-one. In our tradition, that's the way it's been done, with the spiritual father and with the sacramental parents,


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, or against the authority. It's also a tradition of Christ, because they're being against the guilt, the idea of the ministry of the holy people, and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, and the imitation of Christ. The imitation of Christ, certainly there's a strong tradition in that way, but also that can be looked at, and 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. That's right. 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. Not necessarily on a specific problem, just in general. Say, before entering... What do we do? Before the novitiate? Before simple profession? Yeah. So what he does is he finds two people to cast the stones. He asks them if they will help him in that way. And then he gets together with them and they come to the priors. 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... Really, it's pretty informative. Yeah. It's also a little more lively. I've never participated in this. Yeah. Yeah, he has a say in who's going to do it, so... He doesn't have to pick his worst enemy. The Hawaiians used to have an American caravan, a Ho'oponopono. And two people had businesses. They used to use the Hawaiian caravan and have a group of ten people out of the Ho'oponopono to show off some of their businesses. And instead of the two going at each other, they would group the two together and they would pray and some five or ten people would focus


on the village of Pataupu, probably. And then the individual would express what his reaction was to the other person through music. That sounds pretty sophisticated. Wow, that's... Really. There's a lot of wisdom. And they would usually sit until the thing was resolved. If the person could not resolve it, then he would have to leave. But you had two people with a difference. Did both of them have to leave? Oh, I see. It's confusing.


It's interesting. It puts the weight on you. Isn't there something? You can't spear it. There'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 confession. So this is aimed in the other direction. They're to go frequently, but let them have due freedom with regard both to the Sacrament of Penance and the 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 either. But people are exerted to go frequently and frequently might be something like every two weeks for some people once a week. It's up 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 you have a bunch of people going to confession so you'd rather go to somebody at the same time. There's not really time for a spiritual direction


while other people are going. 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 at 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, they call it the trinomium, the Canondalese trinomium. Regalum, yei unandi, fasting, serendi, keeping quiet and nirvana, nirmasa. Contributed 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 where 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 at 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 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 document. It's not in Abbott's edition but in Flannery's edition. On page 657 in 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 John Leclerc than other than a better one by John. The second part was largely composed I think by the Congregation of Religious. It's a bit different. It talks about the 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 necessary to seek other means for interior asceticism being expressed. And it refers to penitentiary again which tries to point out those other means. And especially


of course the indicated 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 acumen. And Blessed Rudolf's constitution. That would be the long constitution. And then the quote is from Blessed Rudolf. Meditation and silence. Silence without meditation is death. Meditation without silence is fruitless. Remember his figure of speech is a little more lively. It's the corpse in the grave. 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 the individual persons 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's a kind of fear of that kind of thing. And this is a change that's come with our time rather than too. 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 as well. Either in a sense of kind of shared discontent or murmuring. Or actually in the direction of homosexuality. So this is a thing of the way back in the Jewish... ... individual relationships. But 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 when people see it. In contrast to a lot of the tradition after a long time. It's different and of course, remember the hermetical life would have the biggest danger perhaps of discouraging friendship. As soon as you start emphasizing solitude you can start discouraging friendship. In St. Ronald's life it was different. In the centipedical tradition although you have a lot of the same thing a lot of that I 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 who wrote the treatise called Doctrine of Spiritual Friendship. Father Albert wrote it for him. He's best known for that Doctrine of Spiritual Friendship. And in Cistercian life I think it was kind of widespread that he was the clearest, strongest exponent. Yet some of them really idealize it, you know.


Albert of Duval, he took this track to Cicero that day, Amicizia and he approached from there. But people are so different. 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. 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 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. 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 it. One's called Friendship in the World. It's quite a lovely book. 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 one and another 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. Nevertheless 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. It may or may not be so. You have 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 and St. Teresa and John of the Cross. Sometimes the intimacy of those friendships are very much exaggerated. Yeah, I'm on that. He's a very good guy. He hasn't got one second. And he had a son who was killed. And he was in the community. He was a community member. And it's interesting that he's a great man. And he had a great need for affection, we see. But it is effective in spiritual life. And it's the only building for a good son. And Christ, because of our father, and our mother, and our sisters, and all that, that's something we have to have. It can be said that there is a friendship, but could you talk a little about the difference? Would that be correct? Okay, that's in St. John, isn't it?


It says, As I have loved you, so have I loved one another. 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 other 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, 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. 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? It's so great. But the fact is, in a community, you can't get too ascetical and too high on 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, you know? And things come up, and you see where you're at from time to time. It's the thing between the rich and the poor, you know? Do we love those that love us? Do we love the rich? Or do we love those that hate us? Do we love the poor? And continually that thing in the gospel. It's like the mystery, the mystery of what we do 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 out with this guy, but you've got to go to the wall with him. That's right, yeah. And that's so mysterious. It's not just about the feelings, right? He's so full of love, I don't even get it. And I tell him, you don't even like this guy, this one is 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 impossible to separate the two. 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. We got down to personal relations. That's at the bottom of page 44. Apostolic contact for the Ecclesiastical community. That sends us on to Scheme 9, 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 again, fight over the same battlegrounds. Once in a while, we... Actually, our chapter meetings turned out to be community discussions, because we had most of the community in there at the time, maybe 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. But 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 on formation. I think we don't understand that. How do we get to the second part of the cycle? The proximity of several communities? The proximity of several communities? In Italy. Several communities in Italy. I'm thinking of two in particular here, like Ponte Vellano and Monte Giove. One is a monastery, one is a hermitage, and they're only maybe 40 miles apart. But there are three communities over in Monte Giove, the marches of them, which are within a circle of maybe 50 miles of Vellano. So it's quite natural for them to combine their resources. Leader? They've been pushing them to do it, but they haven't done a lot of it. Because even between those communities, there's a little... too much difference. Besides which, the members are not young, so they don't have a lot of get-up-and-go to do these things. Formation.


Who? Us? Advent and Lent, 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 on Lent, where he says, although the whole monastic life should be 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. And Friday. Notwithstanding the changed conditions of men on Fridays, what are the Ember Days? 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. They were 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'd be one in the spring and one at the harvest time. There'd 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 special penance, for prayer and fasting. What would you do with it? I've forgotten now. It had something to do with ashes. If you're dropping off all those things of the year as to the natural cycle, that's right. Any thought to instigate


or maybe institute these things to put it off for a month? 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 reinstitute something which you've really lost your grip on. Try to restore symbols which have disappeared. It's not easy. Once you lose touch with them, cultural and collectively, it's very difficult to reinstitute them. You notice the difficulty even realizing deeply the liturgical symbols, the Eucharistic symbols and so on. Vatican II tries to bring them back and make them real for you, but it's still difficult. There is a certain... Have you seen the symbol itself,


or the rite itself, in the Eucharist? You don't at first understand it or believe it or... There is. You do it and you... There is. You get a certain benefit of the Eucharist. There is, as long as the symbol and the rite itself is suitable and remains close enough to its original power and meaning. Now, most of these things have become so much hunted, or for one reason or another have lost their closeness to the original meaning, the fullness of the original meaning. It seems to be a lot... Not a big problem. It's a great thing to be able to revive the symbolic. Oh, yeah. There's a lot of interest in reviving symbolic. Yes, thank you. I should be speaking of this more or less dispassionately, because these are just historical facts. I don't have to argue amongst other things. The question to put in front of ourselves is how do we recover


the richness of... Well, it's still going to be quite a bit different than you did last year. We did it last year, but this... I don't know if this appears in the new draft. I bet the reference to the younger days has been dropped, because I don't think that the bishops' conferences or the dioceses in the individual countries observed them. Did any of you remember the younger days being celebrated? I don't know. See, this was a part of the general church observance. You had masses for the younger days in your election, I think, in your second... Are they in the second? I don't know. 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've dropped it, too. Well, we haven't, until we add them up to 1964, 65. Okay. This...


That next paragraph, the understanding of changed conditions, the second one, insert them more deeply into the mystery of Christ. I'm always trying to get things back into the theological context. I don't know how we used to point it the way we used to. Younger days. It was still in the calendar, the younger days, in 1969. And number nine refers to recreation. It put it in very discreet terms. There was a kind of panic fear that recreation would become obligatory with certain regularity, especially people here in Nukumal, they 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


on solemnities and on Sundays, as you know, Sunday being a primary feast day. 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, sometimes three meals a day. Usually the breakfast meal, for instance, would have to be in one room, everybody goes in and sits down at the dining room hotel and so on. This one about the regular readings has not been followed very scrupulously. See, after this, this first draft of this constitution 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, what, 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, wouldn't you? To hear a couple of detached articles of the constitutions isolated from the context was 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, but we won't be there. 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 constitution before the Sunday meal.


OK, let's stop there and start next time at number 10, page 46. And we'll go on to the next theme.