January 6th, 1980, Serial No. 00372

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Monastic Spirituality Set 1 of 12

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Continuing with poverty, then we're on Robert's page 73, he's talking about the Cistercian Reform and he breaks the Cistercian Innovations down into five categories of poverty, employment, food, work, simplicity, and solitude. Each of those we could comment on at some length, and this is the point at which we have to introduce Canal de Lis Reform, because remember the Canal de Lis, parallel to the Cistercian Reforms, represent another reformation of the Benedictine tradition, attempting to return either to the primitive Benedictine observance or to something even earlier in some cases. As with, see the Cistercian Reform goes back, intends to go back to St. Benedict because it's a Cerebritical Reform, the Canal de Lis Reform in some respects wants to go back beyond St. Benedict to the Desert Fathers because it's an Aramidical Reform, and beyond in another sense, not just chronologically, but also sort of quantitatively, because the Aramidical poverty goes beyond the Cerebritical poverty. So there would be quite a bit to study here about the Canal de Lis Reform.

[01:07]

I'll just give you a few things after we get finished with this discussion of these elements of Cistercian Reform. He spends a lot of time on work because he considers that to be the key to Cistercian poverty. It cannot be said that work is the key to Canal de Lis poverty, at least not in our original tradition. We'll find that work plays rather a small role, and we might prefer, in fact, from our present-day viewpoint to give a lot more importance to work than do the original Canal de Lis. We'll get into that in a few minutes. He talks about simplicity here, and I think simplicity was, there was sort of a mystique of simplicity for the Cistercians, and it's a simplicity which is in the externals of life. But he very quickly moves into another area where he says, first of all, in the liturgy they avoid precious objects, avoid investments, gold shops, and they probably use wooden chalices and all the other problems, too. Costly paintings. Above all, they sought for a simplification of prayer, where the practice of poverty could

[02:12]

penetrate even within their life of prayer, reading, and study. Now, that's a little mysterious. You don't see how you leap immediately to that. In Citeaux, everything was characterized by simplicity in the absence of complicated methods. Here we touch something very close to the heart of Christ, spiritual poverty, not be the court of art because theirs is the kingdom of heaven, the first pieta. This does not signify the mere interior detachment from material goods nor a spirit of poverty disembodied from a concrete exterior situation. Spiritual poverty is this absence of complicated methods, both exterior and interior. Exterior methods being conveniences, dominion over things, and persons excessively fond. I think means would be a better word than methods here, because means signifies wealth as well as instruments, right? Means is an interesting word, means, because it has so many meanings, as opposed to the Latin, be media, things that are in between, things that give you power and which are also

[03:14]

wealth in some way. Now, to get rid of the things in the middle, to get rid of the, to simplify the means, to do with a minimum of means, to stress the primacy of the end over the means, all of these things, and interior, the spirituality based on our own efforts, our own virtues, exotic methods of prayer, formalisms, or excessive introspection, that's worth reflecting on how the connection between that, the exterior realm that we're talking about there and the interior realm, because you can have people who exteriorly observe a very simple life but have an exceedingly complicated interior life, either because they've reoccupied themselves or because they have a kind of elaborate spiritual trip, an elaborate spiritual structure, elaborate methods of meditation and so on, and maybe there's a place for those things, but today most of us don't have much patience with those things, we don't have any trust in them. Even the methods of meditation that were taught, you know, fifty years ago or a hundred

[04:16]

years ago, you find books full of them, those methods of meditation, how to, you know, think about the subject and then gather your thoughts together and move into an affective phase and then into a kind of prayer simplicity and then later on sort of sum it up in a spiritual bouquet with certain resolutions and so on, all that stuff just doesn't, doesn't seem to, doesn't seem to work for us either, we can't manipulate our minds that way, and so we too are returned to actually an attraction of simplicity today, as if out of our poverty, a poverty which we didn't choose but which has been imposed on us by over-richness, we've gone around the whole circle through all of these methods and an over-complicated spiritual structure and we're back to zero again. Remember Lou from the beginning of his book teaches to pray, where he says we've got to the zero point and all the methods have collapsed, then he says thank God, because now we can start to, God can start to build it all over again, he's the one that should do it, right from, from emptiness, yeah, like the Tibetan thing can be extremely complicated,

[05:20]

some, at least some currently, you know, the complexities are fantastic, I was talking to this guy, this Chris Seal, who's a friend of Victor's, he's very hard to lose, and I don't see how anybody can be attracted by something so complicated, because it seems that in our hearts today there's written a conviction of the simplicity of, should I say God, the simplicity of the spiritual life, in contrast to the complexities even of life outside. Sometimes if we're complicated to start with, maybe we need a complicated structure in order to simplify that structure, in order to move towards the simplicity which may be at its center, a kind of a funnel, but in the end we need to arrive at simplicity, otherwise we're still doing something with ourselves, we're still doing our own operations and being sort of amused by our own operations rather than finding that. On this subject of spiritual poverty, now it goes further

[06:29]

than just prayer, of course, it goes, covers all of the sectors of life, in fact he continues, it is the exterior and interior simplicity of life led by the faithful poor of the Old and New Testament, the unawakened we talked about, back to a biblical doctrine of poverty. Fidelity to God amid the absence of luxury, spirit of abandonment, but above all humility. So it's arriving at humility now, now just remember this is sort of a novel, the Virgin Mary and Jesus himself are the great poor ones of the Lord, this is the doctrine of Jermaine, I think he's the one that revived this theology of the poor, which culminates in Jesus and Mary, and it's all kinds of poverty that converge into this, the poverty of the little ones, of the children, the poverty of sinners, the poverty of the old people, the poverty of the sterile, remember? And they all sort of come together and flow into the gospel, and into this poverty, into this composite poverty, all kinds of poverty, enters Jesus, you see, who is awaited, and he's awaited by the poor

[07:32]

because they're able to wait for something, because they're not holding out. Okay, he quotes Matthew 11, 29 in a curious way, a curious translation, learn of me that I am gentle and humble of heart, I've never seen that one, it's learn of me in the RSV, the translations that I know, because I am poor, because I am gentle and humble of heart. However, I think that that construing of the passage is valid, that's one of the meanings that the passage is pregnant with. First of all, learn of me because I'm gentle and humble of heart, therefore I'm accessible to you, okay, I've come down to you. But secondly, what is the lesson that you're to learn? The same general lesson, the quality of heart. It's a quality of heart that you're to learn, and which is the key to all things, and especially that turning over from being burdened to being liberated. And here we have spiritual poverty, moving from being burdened and heavily laden to being free, by virtue of

[08:33]

something that happens in the heart. The other connection is earlier on, I think it's in 1125, where he says, come to me you little ones. The little ones are the poor ones, the ones who have some kind of foothold in spiritual poverty, because the big ones aren't able to learn this lesson, the wise ones. Thus this spiritual poverty is very close to the purity of heart, perfect humility and love, which constitute the purpose of all the monastic appearances. Okay, here the indispensable reference is this book of Metz, Poverty of Spirit, a really beautiful thing. I'm tempted to read a lot of it to you, but it's a very short book, you could read it yourself. But he is someone, he's a disciple of Rahner, I think, and you can catch Rahner behind many contemporary theologians, you see the figure of Rahner moving, you can see it moving behind Metz here. Metz makes poverty of spirit sort of this boundary line between man and the transcendent,

[09:36]

man and God. Now somebody else will take death, somebody else will take chastity, somebody else will take, oh whatever, and identify it with that boundary line for contemplation. But Metz chooses poverty of spirit, and he starts out talking about Jesus and the temptations in the desert by Satan, and he says that what Satan was testing was Jesus' poverty of spirit, and all three of those temptations. Let us overlook the external process involved in these temptations and try to focus on their underlying intention, on the basic strategy at work. We can then say that the three temptations represent three assaults on the poverty of Jesus, on the self-renunciation through which he chose to redeem us. They represent an assault on the radical and uncompromising step he has taken to come down from God and become man. To become man means to become poor, to have nothing which one might brag about before God. To become man means to have no support and no power, save the enthusiasm and commitment of one's own heart. Becoming man involves proclaiming the

[10:39]

poverty of the human spirit in the face of the total claims of the transcendent God. Okay, but there's something already there in Jesus, it seems to me, because Jesus is the son of the Father who receives himself at every moment from the Father. It's not as if he had to do something special in a way that he wasn't already doing in order to become man and to empty himself. In a sense, in all of his fullness he was already emptied, in a sense. And it's as if to become man is a translation of what he already is in the Holy Trinity, receiving his being at every moment from the Father. So that dependency is not something new. Saint Paul says that being equal with God he didn't hold on to it but emptied himself. But it's almost as if that self-emptying was going on before he came down to earth and became man. The self-emptying which was accompanied by a continual what? A continual filling from the Father. And when he comes down to earth to become man, what does he do? It's as if he gives up that continual filling from the Father in order just to bring down the emptying. And the continual filling of the Father waits until his glorification

[11:43]

and the gift of the Spirit. And then he passes it on to us in some mysterious way, so that in emptying ourself we receive the filling, the infilling of the Spirit. Although still in darkness and still in poverty, it accompanies our poverty. The riches, the gift, accompanies our poverty level in this life. Then he goes on to treat each of those temptations in a little more detail. I'm just skipping through, giving you a couple samples so you'll read it yourself. The synoptic summed up this attitude of Jesus. He just quoted that hymn of Saint Paul in Philippians 2, 5 to 8, the one we just referred to, being equal to God, emptying himself. The synoptic summed up this attitude in the phrase poverty of spirit. In their accounts of Jesus' temptation it is depicted as obedient acceptance of our natural impoverishment, which culminates in forlorn death on the cross. Though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor. Christ showed us how to really become human beings. In him we see the unimagined heights and

[12:44]

depths of our human life. He is the prototype of human existence, the firstborn of all creation, the son of man. In him we find out what it means to be a man. In him we find the kernel and the acne of our existence. But according to what we just said, to learn what it means to be a man is to learn what it means to be God, in a sense, because Jesus was not changing as it were what he did in the Holy Trinity. Maybe this is a little crude to say this, but he's not changing what he did when he was in the Holy Trinity when he becomes man. So as we learn to become human beings, we learn what it means also to become God, because man is the image of God. And the parallel is between this poverty, this self-emptying, this understanding of what gift means, and the life of God himself. God has come to us in grace. He has endowed us with his life and made our life his.

[13:50]

In doing this, he did not mitigate or eliminate our innate poverty. He actually intensified it and outdid it. So we live with the grace of God along with our poverty. This is the mystery. And it's through our poverty, somehow, that we are able to move further into the grace of God, and yet without removing the poverty. It's the gift that comes and fills the emptiness and leaves the emptiness there at the same time. That's the curious thing. This is true in many ways. A man with grace is a man who has been emptied, who stands impoverished before God, who has nothing of which he can boast. Then he starts quoting St. Paul. Grace does not erase our poverty, it transforms it totally, allowing it to share in the poverty of Jesus' unimmolated heart. Remember the Eucharistic bread again. The consecration of the Eucharistic bread doesn't make it look any different, doesn't make it taste any different. It remains what it was. It remains in its sort of humility, its poverty, its littleness of being matter, and yet it's the

[14:51]

body of God, and the same with the grace of God in our own poverty, in our own humanity. Because our humanity, our body, in some way, is our poverty, just like it's our mortality. This poverty, then, is not just another virtue, one among many. It is a necessary ingredient in any authentic Christian attitude toward life, let's put it mildly. Without it, there can be no Christianity and no imitation of Christ. It is no accident that poverty of spirit is the first of the Beatitudes. What is the sorrow of those who mourn, the suffering of the persecuted, the self-forgetfulness of the merciful, or the humility of the peacemakers? He's running through all of the Beatitudes now. What are these, if not variations of spiritual poverty? This spirit is also the mother of the threefold mystery of faith, hope, and charity. It is the doorway through which men must pass to become authentic human beings. Only through poverty of spirit do men draw near to God. Only through it does God draw near to man. Poverty of spirit is the meeting point of heaven and earth, the mysterious place where God and man encounter each other, the point where infinite mystery meets concrete existence. Okay, now you see that he's taking

[15:55]

poverty of spirit and he's taking the whole Christian mystery, the attitude of disposition, the readiness for that gift which is the Christian grace, and identifying with poverty of spirit. Now, other people are going to use other names for it. Like I say, somebody else will call it death, somebody else will call it, maybe, chastity, somebody else will call it obedience, somebody else will call it solitude, somebody else will call it contemplation itself. Poverty of spirit cuts pretty close to it, it's pretty deep. And that's one of the reasons why, if you read that book, Less Is More, you find an enormous wealth of insight in there, an enormous richness of, what would you call it, philosophy or truth, just circling around the central fact of poverty in a way which you don't really understand. It's like a cloud of truth, a holy cloud of truth hanging around this notion of poverty, which we can't express in other words.

[16:58]

But I haven't seen it expressed so concisely and so forceful as Metz does it. However, in doing this, you've got to realize that with the power of his language, he may be pulling a lot of things under the notion of poverty, which we ordinarily wouldn't talk about in those terms. You might be able to do the same thing with another concept. It's like one of the faces of the Christian mystery, you know. It's got many faces, and you can look at any one of those faces and you're looking at the whole thing. Now, this face is poverty of spirit, and when you look at this, you see the whole mystery. It's the whole thing, it's the whole interior attitude. Now, one particularly, monastically speaking, one particularly important face of that is compunction. For another person it would be humility, but compunction. Or also that purity of heart is another one. Or that Russian term, humilini, which is a kind of mildness, a kind of tenderness which contains compassion, which contains compunction, which contains the knowledge of God, humility,

[18:02]

all of those things wrapped into one. It's a quality of heart. So, using this face of poverty of spirit, he's getting it from one aspect which still doesn't contain all of the qualities of it. You have to go round and round and look at all the faces in order to understand how to do it. And what it is in the end, what it is in the end is the human heart which is being transformed by God, being transformed by the Holy Spirit, so that it's God and man together. So it's like, we're talking about the heart of Christ, really, which has become ours and is inside of us. Then he talks about the innate poverty of man. Here he gets kind of philosophical and more clearly linear. We're all beggars. We're all members of a species that is not sufficient unto itself. We are all creatures plagued by unending doubts and restless, unsatisfied hearts. Of all creatures, we are the poorest and most incomplete. The animals don't seem to be so. Discontented. Our needs are always beyond our capacities and we only find ourselves when we

[19:04]

lose ourselves. We cannot rest content in ourselves. In the elements and experiences of our life to which we give meaning, we do not find satisfying light and protective security. We're always moving on, moving beyond the things that we take, the things that we do, the things that we acquire, the things that we experience. None of them ever satisfies us, even though we try to put all of ourselves into them. We only find these things in the intangible mystery that overshadows our heart from the first day of our lives. Awakening questioning, questions and wonderment and luring us beyond ourselves. We surrender ourselves to this mystery as a person in love surrenders to the mystery of his beloved and there finds rest. There he suggests this whole lady poverty thing of Saint Francis and also the idea of wisdom as being the bride, as it were, of man. So what you have to do is discover this lady who is going to become your companion, and who is wisdom, but who has many faces, you know, who is poverty for one, for Saint Francis, who is solitude for Merton, who may have other faces as well. But this is what

[20:07]

makes the life of a monk worth living, is to, as it were, find yourself reflected in this way of life that one has taken on. You find your heart, you find yourself, you find your soul. And here he's talking about poverty. Man is a creature whose being is sheltered and protected only insofar as he opens himself up to intangible greater realities. He is at peace in the open unconquered precincts of mystery. Now when Rahner talks about this, he translates it into terms of death, and he says that when you are living with your death, when you, as it were, accompany your death along the road of life, you are living with this mystery, you're living with transcendence, you're living with God, and somehow you're human. You're living the life of a human person fully. You're able to, because you're in contact with the wholeness and the fullness of reality. What we ordinarily do, of course, is push that reality of darkness, that death, off from ourselves. So death and Lady Wisdom are really the same companion. And the monk is the person who agrees

[21:13]

to accept that companion, to accept that bride, which is his death, and walk along with it. And which turns out, as you walk along the road, to be God himself, this unknown companion. If a man leaves his dreamy conceptions aside and focuses on his naked poverty, when the masks fall and the core of his being is revealed, he's got being capitalized on. It soon becomes obvious that he is religious by nature, that religion is the secret dowry of his being. In the midst of his existence there unfolds the bond, religio, he's taking the word apart into its Latin etymology. And religio means a binding. This is one of the ways of explaining the word religion. I think St. Thomas does the same thing. This is coming from St. Thomas. Which ties him to the infinitely transcendent mystery of God. This idea of the bond, of the, as it were, the marriage with God, through this Lady Poverty, in this case, wisdom, in another case. The insatiable interest in the absolute that captivates him and underlines

[22:18]

his poverty. At the core of his existence, a transcendental neediness falls sway. It spurs and supports all his longings and desires, works itself out through them but is never exhausted by them. This emptiness that's our greatest wealth, that's inside us. It's our greatest wealth because it's the place where God belongs. It's the thing that unites us to God, as long as we're united with it and don't hide it, don't refuse it, but accept it into our lives. And to do that, we have to accept it somehow with an exterior realization too, and that's what poverty is all about. When they are fulfilled, it ruthlessly exposes how provisional they were, every one of our desires or satisfactions. It condemns man, it condemns it should be, man to a restless pilgrimage through the universe in search of a final satisfaction, an amen, which the poor know there is only in the kingdom of heaven. The unending nature of our poverty as human beings is man's only innate treasure. He is unlimited indigence since his very self-possession, the integrity and lucidity of his coming to being, spring not from himself but from the intangible

[23:22]

mystery of God. The ultimate meaning of man is hidden in God. Man is the ecstatic appearance of being. Man is God outside God, God outside himself. God rediscovering himself, as it were, in another place, in another world, as St. Bernard says, in the land of unlikeness. And becoming man is an ever-growing appropriation of this ecstasis of being, which means to stand outside oneself. So just as God comes into the world by leaving himself, as it were, going out of himself and rediscovering himself in man, so man has discovered himself by going out of himself, which is this poverty thing from another angle. This demands an attentive receptivity and obedient assent to the total claim and inescapable quandary which the mystery of God poses to his human existence. And then he talks about the two ways you can go, the choice of self-acceptance or self-alienation. Either you accept to live with this poverty and to let it sort of move through you and express itself, or you deny it, you shut it off. And then he says what you get

[24:25]

is anxiety. Left alone to himself, man still remains the prisoner of his own being. He cannot successfully hide for long his mysterious being. If he attempts this, the truth of his being haunts him with its nameless emissary, anxiety. This becomes the prophet of the repressed mystery of his being. With its alienation, anxiety takes the place of the scorned poverty. In the final analysis, man has one of two choices, to obediently accept his innate poverty or to become the slave of anxiety. He's a Jesuit. I'm pretty sure he is. I don't know where he got it. He got it from God. God and Rana. But this is, he's expressing very well, you know, simply the traditional doctrine, sort of the mystique of poverty. And he's expressing it poetically too. It doesn't come

[25:27]

out in the English, that probably doesn't really make sense. It's interesting that he chose this as his starting point, because his thing really is social privilege. Is that right? I've never read anything else of his. Yes, yes. And he kind of wanted to split off from Rana and go on his own. Yes. Then he goes on to talk about the attitude of accepting this poverty which is sort of the root of our being. We mentioned earlier that humble acceptance of our authentic being,

[26:32]

he keeps capitalizing being, at least in the English translation, is self-love in the Christian sense. In biblical terms, it is poverty of spirit. It is man bearing witness to himself, professing loyalty to his radical poverty and shouldering the weight of self-emptying. It is man's consent to self-surrender. In poverty of spirit, man learns to accept himself as someone who does not belong to himself. And then he talks about this forgetfulness. And then he talks about how this works out in fraternal charity. The only image of God is the face of our brother, who is also the brother of God's son, God's own likeness, Jesus of Israel. Our human brother now becomes a sacrament of God's hidden presence among us, a mediator between God and man. Every authentic religious act is directed towards the concreteness of God in our human brother in this world. The nearness of God and the nearness of man are closely parallel in the Christian outlook, for which the humanity of Christ is the direct manifestation of the eternal Father

[27:35]

himself. Love of neighbor, then, is not something different from love of God. It is merely the earthly side of the same coin. At their source, they are one. Hence, it is in our relations with our fellow men that our spirit of poverty is preserved, that our readiness for sacrifice enables us to become truly men. And, of course, this is where poverty of spirit hooks itself up to actual poverty and hooks into the whole scheme of the political and social dimensions also of Christianity. Poverty in spirit does not bring man from men to God by isolating these compartments into separate little packages, God, me, and fellow men. Sometimes we have a theology or spirituality which does this. God can never be just one more reality alongside others. It operates through the radical depths of human encounter itself. In total self-abandonment and full commitment to another, we become completely poor, and the depths of infinite mystery open up to us from within this other person. In this order, we come before God. If we commit ourselves to this

[28:40]

person without reservations, if we accept him and do not try to use him as an instrument of self-assertion, our human encounter occurs within the horizon of unending mystery, because the other person being mystery, being bottomless, as it were, is the image of God. And through him, we find God and find ourselves. This openness to others can be enjoyed only in the poverty of self-abandonment. Egoism destroys it. If we make the other person orbit around ourselves, then it doesn't happen. Okay. He writes my news, something like that. See, it's one of these phases through which you enter into the central mystery, and it opens up in that way. And it is mystery. And poverty, because poverty is stirred, is able to live with mystery, because it admits mystery. If you know it all, there's no room for poverty of spirit. Even if you're too stuck on any intellectual structure, there's probably a spirit that's very, very valuable. It's like an enigma for all of us. Now, this gets us sort of

[29:43]

into the romance of poverty, and the fascination of poverty. Then we have to get back to the rest and concrete things, and it's not so easy. You can get intoxicated with it all the time. And then we realize where we are in the material, physically and so on, and we think we need somehow to try to get it together. There's always going to be a gap between the beauty of that ideal and the core that we find within ourselves, and its realization in the external level. And this, again, as Robert said, is part of our poverty. Part of our spiritual poverty is the gap between what we feel we ought to do, between that ideal and its beauty, and what we really can do. And, once again, we come back to our humanity, the weakness of our physical nature, and so on, or our psychological nature, and the supports that it needs, and so on. It is another dimension of our poverty. Where were you? Well, I just want to ask, back here on the simplicity of the liturgy, I just want to know what my new distribution was.

[30:44]

Okay, in the beginning, the Aramidical tradition is extremely simple, just as much so as the Cistercians, and probably sometimes more, because the Aramidical tradition usually goes beyond, in terms of poverty as well as solitude. And then, as soon as you have the cenobitical life going up alongside, then you begin to have two currents, okay? One, where you begin to have richer vestments and things like that, and the liturgy also will begin to become more complicated. So you'll have abbeys, you see, and you'll have... The beauty and the elaborateness are wrong. It's easy to over-simplify. But we have to realize that there is such a thing as a grand liturgy, which is beautiful, and should be. And there's also such a thing as a very simple liturgy, which is beautiful. There's a place for both of them. There's a place for both of them. Also, you can go too far in the direction of simplifying the liturgy, I personally do. For instance, if you cut out all music, and make the liturgy itself an ascetical affair,

[31:49]

instead of a celebration of beauty, you've gone too far in that, okay? If you cut down the mass, the Eucharist, for instance, to a merely recited form, I mean, all the time, to do that much more often, okay? But if you, on principle, cut down the liturgy to a merely recited form, and as austere as possible, I think you kill it. You kill a lot of the reality of it, the whole dimension of it. And you really put the spiritual life in jeopardy in a certain way. It's that point of indiscretion where you sort of loot up beauty out of the spiritual life, and throw it aside as being unnecessary, okay? At that point, you can kill it. Now, it may be all right for a guy like, who is a senior sufi, who has the flower, and goes to the salon, and doesn't need it, and eats it up. But most of us need it. It's hard to keep the quality of the statement of Jesus to the liturgy, in terms of the population of the raiment. Yes, you could. You could. Like the Eucharist. The Eucharistic body and the substance that is there,

[32:54]

and which is invisible, is more important than the visible raiment. And yet, we don't go around naked, right? It seems like I see this in the reading of this flower too, because it's presented in deep here, in the greater view. It's not like it's a brand new view. Okay, the flower he's talking about there, there is a support, okay? In that particular saying, because he says, well, it's all right for you to pull it out, but if you need it, there are two versions of that story. One says, either plant it again, or you will plant it again, okay? So, he's conceding that there are two possibilities. Either you don't need it, and therefore you cultivate in the deeper quality, the invisible one, or you do need it, in spite of every other word, and therefore go ahead and plant it, because it's missing. We shouldn't think always of those two things pulling apart, because we're going to get into a tournament as we go. If you think of any beauty, any of what seems like superfluity in the liturgy,

[33:56]

as detracting from spiritual poverty, and become too acutely aware of that tension, you'll always be torturing yourself, okay? It's much better to be positive than to be able to move in both directions, to accept both sides and avoid excess. You can have excess on both sides, which harms the individual as well as the community. If you, on principle, kind of blunt your senses and develop a deliberate insensitivity to beauty, you can really hurt yourself. A person doesn't realize what he's doing until he's too late. You go back from David to Saul, you go backwards. On the other hand, just to indulge every asset of taste leads to excess very quickly, and leads to superfluity and wealth and so on, a kind of spiritual peculiarity. Roberts isn't bad on these particular points when he talks later on about

[35:02]

poverty, simplicity, contemplative life, and simplicity and beauty together. They shouldn't be contrasts. Now, because there's a simple beauty and because there's a beauty in simplicity, shouldn't exclude a certain lavishness in certain things. We don't want to get too condemnatory about what other people do, as if everybody in the world, if they have a contemplative religion, and the bishop celebrates that it's a scandal because he's using the old vestiges from that. There's a taste for that, too. In the monastery, it's almost more in a solitary sort of simplicity. It should be there, and the beauty should be in simplicity. And then beauty of form and beauty of matter, too, would be kind of, kind of in the river that I was just talking about earlier. The document on environment and art and worship is good. It's a recent document. There's much of it left today.

[36:04]

They took it out five years ago, I guess. I don't think it's even in this edition. I'm not sure, but if you're interested, I can find it for you. It's Environment and Art in Catholic Worship. Okay, spiritual power. Then he gets to solitude, and, of course, the Cistercian point of view on solitude is going to be different from the canonicalist point of view, okay? And even the canonicalist point of view varies, obviously, and you get the synodalism of the world and the hermitage of the world, and it includes further opening. Now, notice the Cistercian interpretation of solitude here. It eliminates, as much as possible, contacts with the world, business trips, reception of unholy women, and so forth. This is poverty conceived in terms of separation from the world,

[37:06]

separation of the whole community from the world, right? He's not talking about the separation of one man from another. So, from all of this, it's a problem of solitude. From all this solitude, it goes further into this other dimension of separation from the community. For some people, you know, sometimes it is limited information, limitation of the medium. The fact that we like it doesn't mean that it's, that we like not to have TV or something, but less than it's revenues. Poverty is not always that which is most difficult. There, he separates out the masochists. And people will feel, because it's hard, it's good. Because it's nasty, it's better. Because it's ugly, it's best. Masochist theology? No, it's not too good. You can't really argue for it. It's a kind of a feeling. It's a compulsion. And in the end, it's a hatred of being.

[38:07]

And it can be a hatred of life, and a hatred of self, and a hatred of just wearing it out. It's like that bitter zeal that's invented in culture, that bitter wisdom that's engaged after all, okay? You've got to sort of get the sense, the taste of it, of what's really inside, and sometimes by its fruits, and its fruits in terms of human relations. Is there love there? Is there affirmation of being? Is it a yes or is it a no? If it's a no, it doesn't have a yes behind it. If it's just a plain no, then it's evil, or it's sick. If it's a no in virtue of a greater yes, then it's all right. But even then, it has to be governed by discretion. It has to be in proportion. It's the way St. John of the Cross seems to talk sometimes, just taking the worst and mildest of everything. That's right. Preferring it. That's right. So if you apply St. John of the Cross, you have to do it with discernment, to make sure that what's at the core, what's behind this thing that's being done, that's being suggested, is there love behind it, or is there fear, or self-hatred, or masochism?

[39:08]

Masochism is important. It's supposed to have a sexual portrayal. I think we do use it for God's sake. Because there are all kinds of reasons for renunciation, for negativity. And many, many of them are sick. You can punish yourself for all kinds of reasons. And that's why lots of people never are able to really define themselves, or to, you know, to come alive. It's because they're punishing themselves for that meaning. Or seemingly, for what they think is a good reason. Shankara Mathis, I was kind of perplexed. You know, that represents this one place where the extreme penitents were all gathered together. Oh, it's awful. The mourners. I don't know how you can explain that or justify it. I mean, he definitely thought it was great. I mean, how can you say God loves us? Yeah, oh, those poor miserable guys. The chapter on the mourners in Clemicus' spiritual library. We haven't got it here, but that's a very dubious scene.

[40:12]

You don't have a copy of that? We haven't got it down here. We've got it in the library. They, they're guys that, they seem like they despair. They didn't really believe that they could be forgiven because their sins were so awful. They would beat their breast until they bled internally and spit in blood. Some of them would ask not to be buried. Sometimes they'd acquiesce in that and allow them to be given to the wild beasts. And they're just standing around in all postures of misery and wretchedness. You'd have to get one and go over and talk to them somewhere probably to find out what was inside of them. Because first of all, you get the excesses of the saints, because they didn't love inside, okay. And they're not always prudent, but they're just trying to respond. They respond in all sorts of crazy ways to a true grace. And then you get what happens when a person is converted and is really trying to atone for a lot of sin in his past.

[41:12]

And so he responds, once again, to a true grace in crazy ways or in sick ways or whatever. So you get a whole mixture of imprudence, strange enthusiasm, and of pathology with a true grace of God, which makes it very difficult to sort of allow. And if, in addition, you get this fortified by some kind of custom, like in a place like that, where there's social approval for that kind of thing, it can really go wrong. You get a whole bunch of people spurring you on and confronting you as you do this. It can look pretty weird. And yet the grace of God is still somewhere in it. Because, you know, God just doesn't stand in for people even when they start doing that crazy things. Okay, we talked about the institution of lay brothers here. Historically, the importance of poverty, work, and solitude gave rise to the institution of the lay brothers.

[42:14]

If you look into the relationship between that institution and poverty, work, and solitude, you can come up with some curious things. Because the lay brothers are people who work more than the other monks. So they can maintain sort of external poverty of the monastery, of the institution, at the cost of a kind of a big division of labor, by which some work less. So it can be kind of an artificial support for poverty. And an artificial support also for the principle of work by having somebody else do the work. I don't know whether the lay brothers originally among the sisters were called monks or not. But in most of the monastic orders later on, they didn't become called monks. They didn't make sound of profession. And often they were originated to be among servants of the monastery. So these are pretty precarious and dubious ways of supporting the principles of work and poverty and so on. Now, the solitude thing, the chief reason

[43:15]

why the canal release began the institution of lay brothers was so that the monks, the hermits could stay in their cell, you see? And wouldn't have to go and do the outside work, which is obviously necessary in any community. As soon as you've got a hermitage, you've got to be able to stay in their cells all day. Somebody else has to be doing the cooking and the maintenance and all the other job. The airport, you simply have to have a new category. Everybody can't be the same. Remember when St. Francis wrote his rule for hermits? He's got the Marthas and the Marys, right? The mothers and the children. You've got the Marys inside the cell, the Marthas outside taking care of them, the mothers outside, the children inside. And then they switch places after a while. And the ones who were extrants go inside and just live a contemplative life inside. That's another way of tackling this, isn't it? But suppose you do have different vocations. Suppose some people are called to a more prayerful, more intensively contemplative life and other people are called to more work, or need more work, okay? Because God does that too. He gives different vocations. You've got different natures, different personalities, and different races.

[44:15]

And so it can be pretty. But the difficulty is that it turns into a social structure as well, just like the medieval thing, you know, the nobility and the kind of people, or serfs even, slaves. But when it gets like that, there's a real contradiction to the gospel. And the late brother structure was always dubious from that point of view. At a certain point, it agreed to the social structure in the Middle Ages. But as a survival in our days, it doesn't, does it? Especially in a democracy. So Vatican II recommended that these things be equalized. And so in our own constitutions, that's where it is. That scheme three in our constitutions is precisely that turnover from a choir monk, priest, and slave brother, double-class society to an integrated society in which everybody makes solemn profession, everybody has equal rights and duties, basically. And then a priesthood comes along within that framework

[45:18]

of the secondary distinction. It's only happened in our time. I'm saying that in his time, he always seems to place the priest on the level of everyone else. That's right. Oh, he's very careful about that, yeah. So I mean, it was this kind of change. Right. Although it looks like in his time, despite the fact that he's very careful about not letting the priests be aristocrats or not giving them a special status, at the same time, it seemed like a monastery probably had servants. Because he says that at one point, remember, the monks should not be distressed if they have to go out and gather in the harvest, because then they're really monks, but they have to work with their monks. It sounds very much like they weren't usually doing that. That means that somebody else is doing it. Or it doesn't have to be just the monks. No, it sounds to me like it was the harvest of the monastery. That's the usual interpretation. So even there, things were not completely... But of course, that was society in those days. There's still plenty of slavery around. And most people didn't bat an eye on that. Okay, I wanted to talk about the Kamaldolese thing here.

[46:29]

And just very briefly, I'll give you a couple of references. First, one is this Lachner, 11th century background of Citeaux. Now what he's trying to do is give the historical background for the rise of the Cistercian reform. But in doing so, he says quite a bit about the Kamaldolese. And as a matter of fact, I haven't found anything better on primitive Kamaldolese poverty than what he provides here. I'll give you the page references and then read you just a little bit. It's from pages 170 through 171, 181 through 183. And that whole section, actually, he's talking about the Kamaldolese. First, he talks about Saint Romuald, Kamaldolese, Blessed Rudolph, and he talks about Saint Peter Barney. It's a quite ample coverage. It's good. What's his name? Lachner, L-A-C-K-N-E-R. He's a regular Cistercian, not a Trappist. Romuald founded Kamaldolese with a handful of companions

[47:42]

who lived in a cluster of separate cells around their chapel, built on a steep mountain with a house of some 1200 years. To be true followers of the Desert Fathers, he goes back beyond Saint Benedict, which is not what the Cistercians were doing. They observed the rule of Saint Benedict in a stricter interpretation and went, in some instances, even beyond its prescriptions. Thus, they lived in primitive cells. Saint Romuald, I remember, once refused to live in a cell, which was too good for him. Observed constant silence and led a life of absolute poverty. They deprived themselves of material necessities, went barefoot, neglected their outward appearance, shaved their heads, but kept long beards, and wore cheap, hair-shirt-like tunics. Their diet consisted of bread and water. It was only on Sundays and Thursdays that they also took fruits and bush tunics. He goes on about this fasting. I don't want to put this on as a problem. Work usually meant the weaving of baskets and tent making, not for the sake of material gains,

[48:43]

but to avoid idleness. Now, not for the sake of self-support, and not for any other motive, usually. See, they didn't have this complex, many-faceted notion of poverty that we have now. Remember that article of Roche, The Models of Poverty? See, he didn't think about all those things. For them, it was to avoid idleness. I don't know that he's even got that one in there, does he? No, that's not one of the models of poverty. He's talking about poverty. He doesn't have Roche. They didn't really have to go to the UN. They were made in a very uncomplicated society. Uncomplicated society. Still, they were sustained by other kids, supported by other people. There was that understanding in that society, just like the medieval Tibetan society, I think Gary pointed that out a little bit, where it wasn't out of the ordinary for monks to be supported by the donations of others. Well, the mendicants can still do it, the Carmelites, for instance, or the poor clerics. Oh, yeah. Yeah, see, that's a medieval survival. They're still in their middle ages, socially, whereas we've broken out of that.

[49:44]

Peter Damian described the hermit's life at Citria, near Pont-a-Avalon, where Romuald had spent seven years after the foundation had come down to him. Such was the mode of life at Citria that not only it named, but in fact, it was a netherniteria. Citria is the place where it does it, by the way. The brethren went barefoot, unkempt and haggard. They were content with the barest necessities. Some were shut in with doomed doors, seemingly as dead to the world as if in a tomb. Wine was unknown, even in extreme illness. Even the attendants were weak. There's a real bent for the hermetical life here, for solitude and with it for poverty, and a kind of disdain, at least in Peter Damian, for the hermetical life. Their prayer life had a complicated structure. Largely unsolvable.

[50:51]

This is Peter Damian. He's sort of digesting the writings of St. Peter Damian on the hermetical life. To them, the monks of Pont-a-Avalon, the monastic life was a life of penance which impelled the monk to seek out all that was arduous and difficult. In this view, a true monk goes barefoot, with unwashed hands and feet, with unkempt hair, and constantly chastises his body, through such means as repeated ineffections, one fears that God's grace shall not confuse him with discipline. He spontaneously accepts destitution. A destitution, remember, is not just bothering someone more, or something less intrusive. It's really, it's kind of physical misery. It's doing them an absolute, an uncomfortable kind of problem. And the idea of spending a lifetime in an austere cell, keeping perpetual silence, total vigilance, and unclear vigilance. To mortify their spirit, the hermits of Pont-a-Avalon rejected all intellectual work, accepting only the study of the Psalms and spiritual reading, and adamantly opposed the cultivation of the new science of dialectics. Manual labor, though not specifically mentioned among the adjournances of Pont-a-Avalon,

[51:53]

was a regular feature in the Montserrat. Peter Damian alluded to it, in stating that he took up writing as a substitute for it, because of the... As for monastic poverty, the reformer of Pont-a-Avalon boldly turned the Benedictine sufficientia, sufficientia, that's sufficiency, that is, it's a mild and moderate level of poverty, into extremitas and penuria, that means destitution. In the conviction that world rejection can only be achieved through total poverty, for this reason, he accepted only a minimum of possessions, that is, only as much as was needed for the support of the community. Yet he built another library on Pont-a-Avalon, and so he boasted about that. He insisted that personal poverty must be absolute with no exception, for a small inflection would eventually corrupt the whole world. This is why the hermit took nothing with himself when he moved from one cell to another. This is also why his clothing was light, poor, and undyed, even when he had to appear outside the hermitage, for good clothes are simply an occasion for scandal. His shoes and stockings

[52:54]

had to last for a whole year, of some sort or other. He slept on a hard bed, kept bodily hygiene to a minimum to avoid giving a pleasant appearance, and had his head shaved each morning, except during that month and so on. In these seasons, he was even forbidden to wash his head, as in the time of Saint Benedict, baths were allowed only to this year, as the public does each year. Similar principles apply to the regulations on food. So that's the kind of thing, you get the idea. It's carrying poverty to the maximum, maximum, the boundary line, where it's just about bearable, sometimes not quite. In contrast, the external situation of camaraderie rapidly became more and more typically pure, in the sense of being a baronial thing. There's an article by a certain P.J. Jones entitled, The Tuscan Monastic Lordship in the Later Middle Ages, Camaraderie, which is very interesting. It talks about, interesting, it's too technical really to read in detail, it wouldn't interest you in detail,

[53:54]

but what he's talking about is the economic complexities of the monastic scene in camaraderie. And this began to happen very quickly, where the monks began at least, as far as their place in the social economic scale, to be lords. And the hermitage, paradoxically, became a kind of a senate, a seniorial body. The comandolese estates began modestly when St. Romuald of Ravenna, early in the 11th century, discovered the eponine solitude of the Campo Amabile on the edge of the Casentino in Romagna, and there constructed a chaplain and group of serfs. In time, a church and hospice were added close by, and so grew up the twin communities of Eremo and Badia. Badia is Italian for Abbey. In a time, too, the austere practices of the comandolese were fixed in the world. Houses of cenobites came under their authority, while their spiritual influence was sustained by copious grants of land, tithe, churches, and immunity. So they stopped pouring stuff and privileges in on themselves. 200 years after its foundation,

[54:55]

comandolese sheltered a community of 300 monks and conversa, conversa legos, and was the center of an extensive patrimony and lordship. Deeds of gift and similar memorials survived to record the growth of these lands, and are joined as the 13th century proceeds by a fragmentary series of renters. They begin to become very much landlords. By that time, the main estates of the monastery lay concentrated in three regions, and it goes on to Lisbon, mostly Italian mainly. Above all, in the Casentino itself, that's the immediate country around Comandolese. It's called the Casentino, if you go on the bus, for instance, there's a bus into the Casentino, and you call it the county, I suppose. I don't know if it's a political landlord. Over these estates, Comandolese exercised a typical confusion of powers. In many castra, in their districts, the monks possessed rights of both lordship and landlordship, rights originally distinct. Lordship is rights over people, rights to feudal allegiance from people. They really don't rule it.

[55:55]

Men might be tenants, they're not subjects, or they might know fealty, pro-jurisdiction, they only would have all the time, but they'd be sometimes subjects. So, when the monks, or servants, or, later on, they had this thing called Mensingria, which is, what do you call it in the South? Cherkopin. Matthias, and so on, they used to get, sort of, tribute from churches, and farms, and so on, a long distance around Comandolese. So, the whole picture changes. You can glance at this article, for instance, and that kind of thing. And then, a couple hundred years later, what happened? You get another reform. This is the reform of Justiniani, the reform of Montecorono. And you can read about that in English, Alone with God. There's a chapter, New Chapter 12, entitled Destitution. Destitution. And that's what it means. This is what Quirk was just digesting, as it were, the writings of Justiniani about the way that they lived.

[56:58]

So, it's a... Huh? It's a Justiniani book, I'm wondering. Yeah, I guess... It's one of Quirk's students. Yeah. I don't know whether whether it was put together by one of his students, actually written by one of his students, or whether the students gathered the material. Then, there are two books of Quirk, you see, about Justiniani. I don't know which one, I don't know which one Justiniani was talking about. The other one's not in English. The other one is about Justiniani, and this one is a collection of Justiniani's writings, you see, about the paramilitary government. I'm not sure which one he was talking about. But they had... There was a lot of disagreement between the general, for instance, and the Quirk about this business. Because the Quirk is a kind of absolutist about solitude, and he brings all this extremity and austerity right out, you know, whereas the President of the Commandant is... It's a muffle. Well, that's something I'd like to ask you guys. You know, when you talk about

[58:00]

what these men did, say, back in the 19th century, I remember when Father Lawrence was here, and he tried to point out that he mentioned it amongst a lot of the theology behind why they did these things. That they believed that they they were atoning for sin. Jesus was atoning for sin. You've got to be careful there, because St. Paul says, I make up in my body what is lacking for the sufferings of Christ. For his body, which is the Church. In other words, there is. There's a participation, even though to say it's exactly atonement for sins may be a mistake. And yet, I believe very often they were responding to a true grace, to a true call, even though the things were sometimes exaggerated, sometimes foolish. But the matter of disciplining yourself while you're saying the Psalter, doing physical penance while you're praying, and at the same time, it's almost a kind of spiritual gymnastics,

[59:01]

it's a stunt. And it would seem to really threaten the prayer of the contemplative mind. There were mistakes, there were excesses, exaggerations. Very often, it was a true grace they were responding to. Otherwise, they couldn't have done so much of it. Otherwise, they couldn't have kept on with the fervor and the joy that often they seem to have had. Somebody else seemed to have been there. Because obviously, he's not weird, you know. He may have some exaggerated notions, but he's obviously a real person, a healthy one. And, you know, just in touch with reality. And that just seems like you need a deeper understanding of the history of theology at the time that you talk about this. Oh, yeah. And before you can draw a lot of conclusions, but it's too easy to rule them all out and say that they were nuts or say that their theology was mistaken. Lots of people do the right thing for the wrong reasons. Like the Desert Fathers. They might have the craziest theology

[60:03]

for what they were doing, but they're responding to the Holy Spirit. Very often. What about the theology of the stylites? I've got no idea, you know, what kind of theology they had, but I think they were really inspired by God. Now, that is not to say that we have to do the same thing. It's not to say that we're supposed to do the same thing. The Holy Spirit tells us to do something different. You have to be very careful. If you read Martin's introduction to the wisdom of the desert at the end, then he talks about that. He says we don't have to do exactly what they did, but we have to find an equal response to the Spirit in our own time. But I'm very hesitant to explain away a lot of those things as just being weird, you know? I mean, they are weird. They're stunts, often. But they show people who are really burning with the Holy Spirit very often. And around the fringes, you can actually see a lot of things from this. Just deludedness, too. It seems like we're going to have the same problem in this community.

[61:04]

In fact, we're going to get the desert problems in the next few years. Maybe they didn't fit in the place they were living in, because, for example, they grew their food in the desert in Egypt. Right. It's a different story. Right. No, so it's hardly the sort of thing that you would set up for a religious order. Everybody's supposed to do this. You get the same contrast between Romeo and others and Bonifacio. Bonifacio, you know, going barefoot into Poland and so on. Well, barefoot, there would probably be no protection. And, of course, what I mean is shrewdness and so on. As between Saint Francis and the Franciscans later on, that what he was doing himself simply could not be generalized and imposed on a bunch of others and simply can't be put into any kind of structure, because it's an extraordinary race. And it's a model, in a sense,

[62:06]

but a model more, in a sense, it's something to look at than something to inventory. It illustrates the expression of a spirit, which should also be in us, but the expression in us is going to be different because we don't know exactly the same things. It points out a direction, but it doesn't give a diagram. Yes. Which one? Which one? And in spite of the fact that some of the things that were done in Egypt, you can't really do it.

[62:44]