June 1980 talk, Serial No. 00833

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Heavenly Father, enlighten our minds and our hearts and our words, that we may more deeply
penetrate into this mystery of our own monastic vocation in this century, in this place.
This we ask through Christ our Lord.
So the second part of this program, this defense.
We might focus briefly on faith.
What we've tried to suggest is that faith is to be clearly distinguished from religion
or the sacral.
Faith is essential biblical value, and these others are later sort of sociological categories
that are interesting but quite distinct.
For instance, one way to learn the centrality of a notion, of a category in the Bible is
just to see its frequency.
Biblical exegeses often do this.
It's a first step.
For instance, the term sacred occurs only five times in the whole of scriptures and
all five times in the Old Testament.
Sacred rites in Exodus, sacred vessels, it's a—never does the word sacred occur in the
New Testament, and that suggests that something has happened.
Religious, this word occurs only five times in the whole of scriptures, and three of the
times it's quite negative, as when St. Paul says, when I was of the Jewish religion or
in the letter of James, this man's religion is vain.
So these categories of religion and sacred occur very rare.
Faith, on the other hand, pistis, occurs more than 300 times in scriptures and almost always
in the New Testament, about 285 times in the New Testament alone.
Then if you get into the adjective form, faithful, that occurs another 100 times, mostly in the
New Testament.
And if you get the verbal form of to believe, that occurs another 300 times.
So what you have is 700 times this category of belief, to believe, faith occurring, mainly
in the New Testament, and sacred never in the New Testament.
So something's happening here.
Then so often there's this clear distinction between faith and anything like religiosity
or sacrality.
Remember in the New Testament, the high priests are the ones who condemned Jesus, and the
high priests were supremely religious, professionally religious people, professionally always in
this sacral area of the sacred temple and the sacred laws, etc.
St. John says the high priests, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, all these professionally religious
people, though they'd been present when he gave so many signs, they did not believe in
So they are unbelievers, even though they're profoundly religious and profoundly sacral.
So then in Matthew, Jesus says to the centurion, the secular, this army officer, I have not
seen so great a faith in all of Israel.
So again, faith is quite distinct.
And then this gets to be quite a tension in St. Paul, where he contrasts the law and all
the religious observance of the law with faith.
He says, first there was a law that kept us kind of in bondage, and then faith in Christ
came and saved us, Galatians 3.23.
Before faith came, we were allowed no freedom by the law, etc.
So some indications of this clear distinction.
So this category of sacred and also secular, I found only one word, secular, in the whole
of the scriptures, and it didn't mean at all what we mean.
It occurs in the New Testament, and it means non-military.
It says when the soldier is involved in secular activities, that is non-military, so it's
not art.
So we can say that the term secular simply doesn't occur.
It's foreign to the biblical mind, as is sacred almost foreign to the New Testament mind once
in a while.
So much of this debate about how to live as monks today, I think implicit is it is problems
like what is the relation of the monk to the whole sacred dimension of the past that grew
up not from scriptures, but we'll see later, from the sacral synthesis that comes about
with Constantine and after Constantine, and in the East and in the West and the Middle
Ages, and then breaks down, starts to break down with the Renaissance and the emergence
of the sciences, etc., and is significantly in crisis now.
What is this all about?
So we want to try to reflect what is this area of the sacred, to try to get a hold of
it more.
What is it we're losing touch with, and is it so critical, is it so terrible that this
sacred realm is no longer all-encompassing?
Well, the people I've read suggest that the basic meaning of sacred is simply something
set apart for exclusively religious, cultic function.
That is really quite simple and quite innocent in itself.
Suppose Romulus is sculpting a vessel, and at a certain point he says, I want this to
be a chalice, a Eucharistic chalice.
What he wants is from that point on that it be set aside for that sacred function, and
from that point on it can't be that it'll be used every now and then in the refectory
for lunch or supper.
No, it's then set aside exclusively for that sacred function.
It becomes a sacred vessel.
So things can be sacred, sacred vestments that aren't worn one day at the altar and the
next day out working or anything like that.
They're set aside for that sacral function, candlesticks, images, all these sacred things.
There are sacred places you build a building, and it could be a home, it could be a garage.
At a certain point you decide, no, this will be a chapel.
So we set it aside for that function only.
And then again, you don't alternate back and forth.
It's set aside for that.
So you have sacred things, sacred places.
You have sacred times.
On Sunday it's set aside.
At that time you don't do the normal ferial day things of working, etc.
Brother Philip has a very strong sense of this, and if you're out there sawing wood
on Sunday, he'll come in and he'll tell you, what day is this?
So this is a sacred time, you see.
And so the monastic day, there's a sacred time, which is the time for morning prayer.
And if you're out doing something else that time, you know something isn't quite right,
or vespers.
So here comes—I'm sorry, a lot of words, surprise, medical bagger.
So sacred times, sacred persons, sacerdos, the Latin word for priest.
In English we have sacerdoto.
What does it mean?
The etymology is a little obscure, but it means—it's certainly tied into sacred,
but it seems to mean he who gives sacred things, the sacraments, etc.
So we have these areas of sacrality, which mean to set aside for religious, especially
cultic function.
And this is fine.
Again, it's not at all central in the New Testament.
The idea, even though the category doesn't occur that often, the idea is very central
in the Old Testament.
I remember our Old Testament professor drawing circles, concentric circles of expanding influence,
but at the center is the most intense area of sacrality, of holiness.
That's the Holy of Holies.
Then the next circle is the temple itself.
Then the next circle is the holy city of Jerusalem.
Then the next and perhaps final circle is the holy chosen people of God.
Then when you get a more universal vision with Isaiah, etc., this expands to call all
the Gentiles, but who will then return and mount the Mount of Zion to go to the temple
to worship there.
So in the Old Testament you have this sense of sacrality, of holy places, holy people,
the tribe of priests, Levi, of holy vessels, read Leviticus, it's filled with this sort
of thing.
But what happens in the New Testament, something very strange, and exegetes are still trying
to get a hold of it, but all this sacrality is sort of turned upside down, and we could
do conferences entirely on this.
What happens to sacrality in the New Testament?
Jesus remembers, tells the Samaritan woman, not on this mountain or in Jerusalem will
the true worshipers worship, but they will worship in spirit and in truth.
Somehow all this sacrality becomes interiorized, becomes spiritualized, and Jesus is constantly
getting in trouble with the professional religious people, the professional sacralizing people,
the Pharisees, etc., because he doesn't observe the sacred day of the Sabbath.
His disciples go out and pick grain, you remember, he heals on the Sabbath, and he says, well
the Sabbath is made for man.
He relativizes this sacrality, and he is not of the sacred sacerdotal tribe of Levi.
He's a layman in Jewish terms.
He can't go into the holy of holies.
He's not permitted to, he's a layman, and he says that strange, we're not quite sure
what he said about the temple, but something about, you know, the apostles are admiring
his glorious sacred structure, and he says, it can all be torn down, and when he executes
it, it's for this sort of thing that he was crucified, blasphemy against Jewish sacrality.
It's very significant how he ends, crucified outside the sacred city, in this impure of
all places, this place of execution for criminals, and the way he dies, you know, naked, nailed
there, the Old Testament says, accursed is he who hangs from the tree.
So all of sacrality is turned upside down, and he rises, not the holy Sabbath day, but
he rises the day after, the ferial day, and this, we're still trying to understand all
this, but somehow, sacrality is really shuffled up in this point.
Someone was suggesting, if we wanted to rewrite the whole scenario, as they say, according
to very cultic, sacral categories, we could, and Jesus would be born of the tribe of Levi,
and he would be the high priest, and at a certain point, he'd say, I want to offer my life
in holocaust for the sins of the whole peoples, and they would lead him into the holy of holies,
and he would put himself on the high altar, and they would build a bonfire, and he would
offer his life on the Sabbath, at the paschal feast.
This would be a wonderful, sacral, but that isn't what happens.
And then in the letter to the Hebrews, it's interesting, all this, the temple is made
Jesus, or us, our body becomes the real temple, and the real high priest is Jesus, who's going
to the real temple, which is the heavenly holy of holies, etc.
Everything is shifted now into a secular, which becomes holy, and so we're still trying
to work through that.
Now, exegetes have started looking again at the Old Testament, and they discover this radical
desacralizing occurring already in the Old Testament.
If you compare the Old Testament with the religions around Israel, where everything
was sacral, and magical, and divine, and magic, things have really been desacralized.
For instance, the whole central affirmation of Genesis, of creation.
For the other religions, all of nature is filled with gods, and divinities, and magical
powers, and this tree is this divinity, and under that rock are these angelic forces,
etc., and you've got to have magical formula for taking care of all this.
Genesis cuts through all this and says, no, the whole cosmos is the work of God's hand.
So it's all de-maggied, it's all desacralized in a certain sense.
Not only that, but it's all put under man, under Adam and Eve.
Adam and Eve should dominate and subjugate all of creation, and Adam, remember, should
give the name to everything, so he no longer has to fear all these weird supernatural, preternatural
This is the first dramatic leap forward in secularization, according to some theologians
of the scriptures.
We'll see in what sense.
Another great step, according to some, for instance, in Concilio, let's see, there's
something about this, but there's whole essays written on this, the doctrine of creation,
the denial that events on earth were dictated by the stars, the destruction of belief in
the eternal return, the disappearance of the classical pantheon, opened up a new world
for the Christian, a world created, in contradiction to the adage that everything is full of gods,
from the Roman, this de-divinization of the cosmos, a genuine atheization of the divine
world of the Greeks and Romans, led to the Christians rightly being accused of being
atheists in regarding to all these ancestral, pagan, antheistic divinities and sacral powers
at work in the creation.
And then this essay says, this de-mythologization opened up a new world in astronomy and physics
and a new world to the sciences.
It says, when this de-divinization runs into Hellenism, there's an explosion of creative
work in the sciences, because now you don't have to fear that rock and that tree.
You can even do tests on the tree.
Eventually, you can even dissect the human body, though da Vinci still had to do it in
secret, etc.
But at a certain point, we can approach creation with a serenity that it's not to be despised
at all.
It's in a very holy order that we see through belief, but it's not sacrilegious to approach
scientifically creation.
Another great leap forward is with the whole area of another sacralized dimension, which
was the political dimension.
The emperor was divine, right?
Already in the time of Jesus, Augustus.
And you had to go and you had to put incense to this divinity, and this is where the Christians
got in trouble.
The pharaoh was divine, this theophany, this manifestation of divinity on earth.
The kings, thus also, there by the will of God.
So, the book of Exodus carries on this second radical desacralization when the pharaoh says
to this little tribe of slaves, you've got to do this, this, this, and they say, no.
They say, no, and this should be blasphemy, because he's there as the manifestation of
divinity, and they say no, and Moses, their leader, starts wrestling with this in the
name of another God who does not recognize the sacrality of this power, and this is
And when we get to the time of Jesus, the prophets are very strong against the kings,
Nathan against David, et cetera, and up to Jesus, who calls Herod, you know, that wolf,
that fox.
And the book of the Apocalypse is very rough on imperial Rome in hidden terms, the seven,
remember the dragon with the seven heads is the imperial city, et cetera.
So, desacralization of political power, and then in Jesus in the New Testament, we have
the desacralization of salvation itself, that again occurs not as sacral holocaust on the
high altar of the Holy of Holies, but outside the sacred cities, and that most impure of
places, through this kind of political death.
So, you've got a global sacrality in the ancient world, especially in the ancient non-Jewish
religions and in the ancient Roman religion, and it was the emperor who tied this sacrality
all together as the manifestation of divinity.
And he pulled everything else into this sacral synthesis, the arts, politics, religion, it
was all unified in him.
Now, this disappears with Christianity.
Perhaps to come back, we'll see, with famous Constantine, we want to look into that, what
happens in that decisive moment of history of Constantine.
And then another key moment in history, what happens with the Western Renaissance when
that lovely sacral synthesis starts to really break down.
So two key moments we'll want to look at to understand our own life today as modern monks.
But we've got this global sacrality in counter-distinction to a very, very sober sacrality of Christianity.
Christianity doesn't say, let's wipe out all sacrality.
We have the sacraments, we have the Eucharist, though it's never called sacrament in the
New Testament, but that's later applied to it.
But note the sobriety, the simplicity, sort of the poverty of these sacraments, especially
as they were celebrated in the first years of not huge, glorious basilicas with patriarchs
But in homes, you know, the domestic church gathering in the house of Cephas's mother-in-law or whatever it was, the agape, and the sobriety of the expressions of these sacraments, water, bread, wine, the laying on of hands, the simplest of symbols.
So to go from imperial sacrality with these immense basilicas and the vestal virgins and
the emperor being carried and the whole bit to Christian sacraments, one can understand
how the Christians were considered atheists, absolutely without religion, because they were
on to another thing.
Another interesting aspect of this is the opposite then of sacrality is what is common
every day.
The Greek word for this is koinos.
In the Old Testament, in the Septuagint, it's applied to unclean things, unclean food.
In the New Testament, it becomes one of the most beautiful words in the substantive koinonia,
that is, what is held in common.
And then it can also mean the community itself.
And Proconius calls monastic life holy koinonia, simply holy community.
But the simplest of things which we hold together, and which hold us together, this is the new
sacrality, so to speak, in counter-distinction to this kind of imperial sacrality.
So we start moving towards what can be called the secular, though the real emergence of
this category is much later.
Where does it come from, secular?
It seems to come from what I've read, the Latin saeculum, which literally means a generation
of people, my generation, back in my generation, my saeculum, and thus it can apply to a period
of time, and thus it can apply to the temporal order.
So its first emergence in the Middle Ages was to priests who were not monks.
They were called secular priests.
And so anyone who was not a monk was a secular.
And monks, on the other hand, were religious.
This is the first emergence of it.
So nothing terribly to be kind of despised or anything.
A secular priest was one involved in the more temporal dimension, more directly involved
with people.
The monk was thought to be in this realm more eternal, more religious.
So this is the more.
Now, one thing we might note here, it might be difficult for us to be totally objective
on this issue of the secular and the sacred and the religious, because we are the epitome
of the religious, according to this Middle Ages synthesis.
We are the sacral.
According to Eastern canon law, we'll see, right from the first Christian emperors and
in the Western canon law, monks are about as sacred as you can get.
If you're a solemnly professed monk, if someone hits you, he's excommunicated, because you're
a sacral vessel sort of thing.
And just as if you slug a priest, this is something sacred.
You can't do it.
When we were off in Italy with these young clerics, we often said this to them, because
it was our only defense.
So sacrality, something that's set aside, and we are set aside as monks.
The monastic life is sacred.
At a later point, we want to ask, is this what St. Anthony had in mind when he went
off into the desert?
This is a later development.
It's typically Middle Aged.
But note that sacrality requires some sort of sacred authority to set aside.
If Romuald decides he'd like that vessel to be a sacred vessel, he should get some priest
to bless it or something.
Something has to happen to set that aside.
He's got to get some authority.
If someone has a little medal and he wants it really blessed, he should go to a priest.
Now, the more significant the setting aside, the more high up you have to go in the hierarchy.
I can bless this Benedict's medal, but I can't consecrate a priest.
It takes a bishop.
You've got to go higher up.
And if you want to do something really big, if you want to dedicate the whole of the universe
to the sacred heart or something, you've got to be a pope.
So the more significant the sacralization, the setting aside, the higher up on the ladder
you have to go.
Now, suppose you want to sacralize not just the spiritual order, but the whole material
order of culture and art and politics, etc.
What would be good to have around would be a sacred emperor who's Christian.
And this is what happens in this link up between Constantine and the church.
You've got the church through the pope and the patriarchs, and you've got Constantine,
and they embrace each other, and they sacralize the whole order.
And then you get this new phenomenon, which is called the Christian empire or Christendom.
And it's something undreamt of by the apostles, by the New Testament.
But it's something that emerges, something that gets into our blood, something that later
we think is inevitable, but then in the Renaissance breaks down, and now we're trying to live
in this new world, which is also the world of the apostles, where we're no longer in
the Christian empire, we're no longer in Christendom in that sense, and we're terrified and threatened
by it.
But it might not be that bad a thing.
In any case, just some preparations for this concept of how useful it is to have a Christian
emperor around if you're plugged into this need of a sacral synthesis.
As I think many readings of our Eastern Brethren, they really still feel most at home in that
kind of sacral synthesis.
In this sacralization and secularization number of Concilium, number 47, they hinted this.
What it's all about, this Eastern synthesis, is basically tied into this sacrality tied
in with the emperor.
The emperor, before Constantine was divine, he was the keystone of the sacred synthesis
of the empire, and then suddenly this emperor embraces Christianity, and all this sacrality
flows into Christianity.
In the preface to this issue, they're talking about all the new challenges that comes from
the secular, and how do we answer this.
And now it's really quite difficult, and they say, what's the solution, and should we flee
to the East and to our Orthodox brethren, and they say, should we perhaps listen to the
Christian East, where people think themselves protected against an internal secularization
process by their own concept of the church as communion with divine life.
Both the structures of Eastern churches and their concept of man's relation to God are
profoundly influenced by a Christian, I'm sorry, by a pre-Christian idea of the sacred,
which found such prominent expression in the Byzantine emperor's cult.
The key words to an understanding of the situation in the Christian East are Byzantine culture,
sacralization, and isolation.
So he says, that's where they still are, and then he goes on to say, few Orthodox theologians
are daring to raise questions, can this thing hold up?
There are only a few who dare to timidly ask what the lasting value may be of this Byzantine
view of the sacred order for Orthodoxy, particularly in a world dominated by an officially atheist
ideology and making intense progress in technological development.
This whole Soviet world moves forward with industrialization, et cetera, and this holy
Orthodox world keeps pulling back into its sacred traditions, and it's difficult.
The situation in East and West is too different, too determined by specific cultural and historical
factors to provide us with a common answer to alleged spiritual weakness in the West.
This is very interesting, I think.
We as monks today might feel a little uneasy.
How do we live the monastic vocation as religious in a secular world?
There's a whole essay dedicated to this or the other issue.
We're religious and we're in a secular world.
How do you get this together?
Well, one answer might be, let's go to the East, where everything is still sacred, and
this essay is trying to suggest that, unfortunately, ain't the answer.
Then there's, as I say, this whole essay on sacralization and secularization in Eastern
churches, and they repeat this thesis, the very understanding of man's relations with
God in the liturgical celebrations in the East have been influenced throughout the East
by the pre-Christian concept of the sacred, in quotes, of which the imperial cult of Byzantium
is the most obvious expression.
Now, once you get plugged into this, we're anticipating where we're going to get, but
you see the Exodus theme of saying no to the emperor, to the pharaoh, or the prophetic
theme of the prophet who chastises David, this is really very revolutionary, basically.
Or Jesus who says no to that fox Herod and to the high priests, et cetera.
This is very revolutionary, whereas the other is extremely static and reactionary.
It wants to be stable for all eternity, because the emperor is there by the will of God, and
his son will be there by the will of God and his son, and you've got a sacral order that
doesn't want to change, we were talking before about this kind of nostalgia for the unchanging.
This can get into the social, political, cultural area, and the sacral is very good to sort of
keep things static, and that's what they were trying to do with the czar.
Czar in Russian simply means Caesar.
The czar was to be the Christian Caesar in Russia, in the Russian Empire, and Moscow
was called the Third Rome, and they'd simply extended this whole Byzantium sacred cult
into Russia.
So right up to the end, what were these czars doing?
They were trying to bolster up their autocratic rules, saying no, you can't touch us, because
we are here by divine will, and unfortunately the patriarch was often there right by his
side saying yes, it's so, don't touch the czar, don't touch this regime.
So this ideology obviously imposed a certain social rigidity in the name of sacred order.
Emancipation movements and efforts to overthrow the existing order were readily judged to
be sinful in such an overall context.
Allusions to transcendental and heavenly models were quite normal in medieval society, imbued
as it was with the exemplarist and essentialist spirit.
We'll see this in the writings of Eusebius about Constantine.
He'll say the Constantine court is the direct revelation of the heavenly kingdom, and this
is the best way to solidify a political rule.
To undermine the social order on earth was to attack heaven itself.
The theocrats did not hesitate to make frequent analogies between the ecclesiastical hierarchy
and also the political hierarchy and the celestial hierarchy.
You get this direct link up, and it's very sacral and very unified and very consoling,
but very rigid.
And then it goes on about the Renaissance thinkers start knocking this down.
They talk here about Marsilius of Padua and William of Ockham, who ushered in the spirit
of modern times.
Marsilius did this through his yearning to a return to the primitive church.
You see, Christian humanism in the Renaissance said, let's get beyond all this heavy clericalization
and Holy Roman Empires and things.
Let's get back to the fonts.
And he rejected the higher hierocratic appeal to the Old Testament and Deuteronomy.
And then William of Ockham talked about God's absolute freedom and his independence from
these regimes.
Don't link up the will of God with the czar, necessarily, or with the Holy Roman Emperor.
So here is a truly revolutionary principle leaving room for criticism and even rejection
of this divinized, sacralized order.
So big things are happening at the time of Constantine, and big things are happening
in the West at the time of the Renaissance.
And we have to see very critically if everything that happened in the time of Constantine
was good, and if everything that happened in the time of the Renaissance is bad.
This is often the thesis, implicitly or sometimes even explicitly, of our Orthodox brethren.
So this is what we want to get into, to also anticipate.
Remember that the real monastic life begins precisely in the time of Constantine and in
protest against what he's doing and what Eusebius is doing, this happy kind of contract and
mutual embrace.
And the hermits say, we want no part of this.
I'm listening to this tape of Thomas Merton.
He mentions this, his words of something about the integration of Christianity and empire.
The monks say no to this, and they go off into the desert.
Then, very shortly after this, the empire achieves a kind of reintegration of monasticism,
and it becomes an integral part of this sacral order.
Indeed, in a certain sense, it becomes the very apex, which is very flattering to us.
But, which we want to look at very suspiciously.
In the East, it's true, the monk really has its place, and it's a glorious place.
Innocenzo often talks about the authority of Mount Athos in the Orthodox world.
And it's right at the apex of the old sacral pyramid.
And so that can be particularly attractive to monks who are searching for their identity.
But that ain't necessarily where we want to go if we want, really, to achieve this marginal
prophetic presence that Merton and other monks talk about.
This whole sacralist thing is also anti-historical.
It's based upon this eternal, essentialist, sort of Neoplatonic thing.
And it mentions that a whole concept of history, which is in the word of God, disappears in
this whole world and comes back again with the Renaissance.
People like Erasmus and Thomas More, the Christian humanists, and also the pagan humanists, know
that man is in history.
And history is no longer just a sign of man's weakness, how changeable the world is.
But it's a sign of the space of creativity where man works.
Today, in contrast with medieval man, we know that the social establishment is not a divine
creation, but a cultural and man-made situation which can be dealt with and reformed.
This mutability in the ancient and Middle Ages did not present human historicity as
the framework for man's creativity.
It was seen as the mark of man's frailty and finiteness.
The emperor and the middle-aged man knew that things changed, but for them it was a sign
of how tragic the human situation is.
Whereas for scriptures, it's the sign of this dynamic history of salvation that's on the move.
And this is recovered in the Western Renaissance.
It's recovered in historical research.
It's recovered in the kind of Western interest in who was the real Saint Therese of Lisieux.
Let's get beyond these pious documents and these archetypes and get to know the real
historical Therese in her unique message to us.
This is typically Western, and I don't think it's all that bad.
So, really, are you getting this all in?
With some indigestion.
So, to sum up again, sacralization is to set aside for religious use, and there's nothing
terrible or menacing about that.
In the New Testament, it's quite sober and quite contained in the first apostolic fathers, thus.
But then it gets really full-blown and almost orgiastic when we get to Constantine.
And at that point, I think precisely as monks, we want to raise some questions when we get
into the sacral Christendom.
So, sacrality.
Let's look a little more carefully now at the secular.
We often hear that we live in a secular world.
And often that's said with a kind of a fear or sneer, you know, Western, secular man.
Sort of the place we don't want to be because we're men of faith, we're religious.
There again, let's distinguish faith from religion and ask if within the secular, faith
cannot be lived.
What is the basic meaning of secular?
Well, it's sort of the opposite of sacred.
It's what is not set aside for exclusively cultic, liturgical use.
So, Romulus is there again with his potter's wheel, and he makes his vessel, and he decides
mischievously, I won't set this aside as a Eucharistic chalice.
This will serve as a drinking vessel for meals.
At that point, that vessel is part of the secular order.
And I think there's nothing pernicious about it.
There's nothing to be, it shouldn't be spat at.
It has its own dignity and beauty.
If he makes a vase, it's the same thing.
And suppose you build a building, and it doesn't become a chapel or a basilica.
It becomes a home.
Well, that's part of the secular order then.
Or you have not Sunday, but you have the Ferial Days.
They also have their space.
Or you have a man who is not a priest, and especially not a religious.
He is a secular.
He's a layman, but he's not to be spat at for that.
Let's remember that the holy people of God are constituted about 99% by seculars,
by the secular order.
And suppose we have someone who wants to study not mystical theology or canon law,
but wants to study astronomy or medicine or engineering or drama.
These are secular disciplines.
And again, we shouldn't perhaps find this that threatening or that contemptible.
The secular tends to be pluriform immediately,
because there's so many spaces for human creativity.
God made us this way with all this incredible creativity.
So Michelangelo does his thing, and Da Vinci does his thing,
and Erasmus does his thing, and Einstein does his thing, and Darwin does his thing.
And you get lots of areas.
And an orthodox might say this is splintering, this is breaking up.
But it might be this glorious pluriform expression of human creativity that's to be admired.
Let's consider the relation between faith and the secular and the religious and the secular.
Relation between faith and the secular.
Let's take one discipline as an example, like medicine.
Medicine is part of the secular order.
We could take mathematics or whatever.
It's very interesting, there is not a Catholic mathematics.
There's not a Catholic botany.
You get into these problems in parochial schools,
and you have to build huge science labs and things, very expensive.
Why? To teach Catholic biology.
There is no such thing as Catholic biology.
There's no such thing as Catholic mathematics.
Some people kid about Catholic medicine.
You have St. Joseph's aspirin and that sort of thing.
But that's about as close as you can get.
So you've got this young, very devout Catholic who wants to be a doctor.
What does he have to do?
He has to study, and he has to study quite as much as anyone else,
quite as much as the Lutheran student or even the agnostic or the atheist.
He has to crack those books of medicine and sweat as much as anyone else.
His faith gives him no shortcuts in this regard.
He can't say, well, I have the word of God, I have scriptures,
I have the holy tradition of the fathers, I have the Philokalia.
Surely somewhere in here I can find the best way to operate for kidney stones
or the best way to intervene for a heart attack.
That isn't the function of scripture or the Philokalia or whatever,
to give us easy answers about this.
So here we get into this fact of the autonomy of medicine
or the autonomy of astronomy.
These were battles that were hard won.
Poor old Galileo, he said, look, you look into your telescope
and you come to the conclusion that the sun is not rotating around the earth.
And he got into real trouble.
And the holy office said, you can't say this.
It's against theology, it's against scripture, it's against spirituality.
And they made him recant.
And in his heart of hearts he said, I'm sorry, but that's the way it is.
And it was with hard sweat in the West we've come to acknowledge
and even sort of esteem this autonomy of the scientists.
You can say it's interim autonomy in the sense that it all builds up to Christ
who fulfills all this.
But not interim in the sense that we're just waiting to get back to the good old days
when the priests will have the final say about astronomical questions
or medical questions or the monks or the holy office.
The holy office no longer wants the ultimate say on nuclear physics
or on astronomy or on these things.
So this student of ours, devout Catholic, but he's got to study as much as anyone else.
Hopefully he'll study more than anyone else.
And he has to take his anatomy exam.
He'll go into the book of anatomy.
I was reading the Philokalia the other day,
and there's this sort of weird anatomy of the father still.
One father said, you know, when you breathe, what do you do?
You take air directly into your heart.
And then the heart extends this life-giving air directly to the body.
This is lovely, but unfortunately this ain't the way it is.
And if a Greek student of medicine were to want to base his anatomy theories
on the Philokalia, he'd get into trouble.
And we want to distinguish today the function of the Philokalia
is not to teach us lessons on anatomy.
We're still on borderline cases.
What is the heart, for instance?
We've been talking a great deal in these days about the heart.
The heart is the deepest center of the human person in the area of feeling, etc.
Well, what is the heart for the doctor?
It's an interesting problem, but you've got this muscle, basically, this pump,
and you've got phenomena such as heart transplants.
In what sense are we taking, in any kind of material way,
that the heart is where I want to end up, or the heart, you see,
it does have to be a symbol.
I can end up with someone else's heart in me,
and does this mean that I have a deep other person inside of me,
or what's happening there?
So that science regularly challenges us
in some of our kind of simple ideas about things,
and this can be threatening.
This can be really threatening.
Now, what do you do there?
You can do several things.
You can deny the autonomy of the sciences,
and in the West, we've stopped doing that.
I said, no.
How is the universe built?
Leave it to the sciences to decide.
The function of scriptures is not to give us
astronomical models of the universe.
The function of the scriptures is to announce our salvation in Jesus Christ.
So you can try to deduce answers directly from scriptures,
and this is called integralism or fundamentalism, and this is false.
The universe must have been created in seven chronological days
because the Book of Genesis says so,
so evolution must be wrong, et cetera.
They're not saying that any longer in the West.
So that's the solution that we're not inclined to anymore in the West normally.
When I came here just a few years ago, evolution was a big fight,
and one of the fathers here insisted that no Catholic could hold to evolution,
and indeed our manual of philosophy said that the theory of evolution is against Catholic faith,
and you won't find that anymore.
It's another example of finally saying,
leave it to the paleontologists to decide.
Are these real fossils?
What do they indicate?
Was there a Neanderthal man?
Was the whole universe created 2,000 years ago as they believed in the Middle Ages, et cetera?
Another thing you can do if you're not prepared to try to retake power
with the holy office and the emperor and the patriarch deciding ultimate questions of astronomy and biology, et cetera,
is then the answer of disdain and contempt.
All right, we'll grant these areas their autonomy, but we disdain them.
They're the merely material areas.
The spiritual man should have little or nothing to do with them.
Remember this, Doris, who told Gogo, tear up all your manuscripts.
That's merely worldly stuff.
No really spiritual orthodox writes this sort of thing.
You can do this.
No true Christian should waste his time in the sciences.
I know many Christians who have been tortured by this.
There was an orthodox secular realm.
And I don't think this is quite wise.
Take medicine, for instance.
Take the dignity of medicine.
The other day, I went down to have my eyes examined.
200 years ago, there was no such thing as glasses.
And many of us would have been out of business at this point as far as reading, writing.
Think of Don Benedetto and think of the centrality of something like spiritual reading,
Lectio Divina for the monk.
So we can say the merely bodily.
But at least for the biblical and for the modern view, if not for the Neoplatonic,
the body is very tied up with the spirit.
St. Teresa says, try not to get sick because usually people don't pray that well
when they've got a terrible headache or something like that.
Or they're down with the flu.
So try to keep well.
And try to keep your sight.
If I see my eyes going down, I don't say, well, that's divine providence.
Or I say another novena or another thousand prostrations before the icon.
I go to the eye doctor, and I'm grateful he had some incredible stuff there,
very advanced technology.
There was this machine that pumped a little wave of wind at my eyeball,
and that bounced back, kind of a radar thing,
and immediately measured the intensity of pressure within my eye
to determine if there was some sort of sickness that consists in excessive pressure
from within the eyeball.
And I said, this is incredible technology.
He said, yes.
Two years ago, we didn't have this.
And it's saving lots of people from blindness.
Now, this is mere technology.
Okay, but it's rather beautiful.
And could it be that God is working through this?
We'll have to reflect much more on this.
I was hungry, and you gave me to eat.
I was sick, and you had visited me, et cetera.
There's something about the presence of Christ in people who need help.
And there's something about the capacity of technology at its best,
I'm arguing a case here,
to help people that I think we should be very hesitant to sneer at.
So, this relative autonomy of the sciences, of the secular dimension.
Also, culture.
A Catholic poet should have freedom to write according to his deepest intuitions.
Gogol should have been permitted to write.
He was a genius as a writer.
Told to write with greatest honesty what is the real situation of Russia.
And even if he had aspired Pushkin to say how sad our Russia is,
if this is the way he saw it, that's true Christian.
So, what does this mean?
That faith has no place in the secular?
Are we building a kind of schizophrenia
that the poor Christian student of medicine
simply has to leave his faith outside the door
and it has nothing to do with his studies?
No, we haven't said that.
We've said that faith gives no magical answers
to the immediate discipline of how to do this and how to do that.
What it does, though, is give you your deepest motivations for why to do that.
The Christian doctor will have to study as hard,
and hopefully harder than the non-Christian,
but he'll be different in the sense that he'll have an entirely different inner motivation.
He'll be doing it not for the money and not for the glory and prestige
and not because his mother wanted him to be a doctor.
He'll be doing it because through this science, through this tool,
he'll be able to serve his fellow man who is sick, who is suffering, etc.
So it's not that faith doesn't enter.
Faith enters as the leaven within that animates and inspires.
And so all the great Christian doctors and nurses.
But it doesn't enter as religion would want to enter,
to retake over, to kind of dominate and sacralize.
So what is the relation of secularity in us?
Well, it depends.
If we want to go in as Christians with our faith,
then we can get in there and we'll be present as leaven.
If we want to carry a whole pre-constructed sacral synthesis in there
and say to Galileo,
what you're saying is different from what the sacred fathers said,
what you're saying is different from...
Then we run into problems and contradictions and tensions,
and then we might have to react with the old disdain mechanism.
This is mere worldly stuff.
So we've rushed through this.
We haven't even gotten up to Constantine yet, which is very fascinating.
So next time when we come back,
we can look through two key moments in the history of man.
Again, the Constantinian Compromise, we can call it,
and then the Renaissance, getting beyond and behind that compromise.
Back to another perspective.
It's interesting that for us,
Constantine is not a saint for the Western Church.
Saint Helen is, yes, but Constantine, no.
I think this is very interesting and sort of typical.
And Butler's Lives talks about that ambiguous man Constantine.
He's rather glad that Constantine isn't on the Western calendar.
He is a saint in the Eastern calendar.
And Butler's Lives quotes this line from the Byzantine calendar,
which is also in that St. Herman's calendar,
which is up there in the library.
So the feast of St. Constantine and Helen,
holy equals to the apostles,
Emperor Constantine and his mother Helen.
So for them, a great veneration for Constantine
and so many other Christian emperors, Justinian, etc.
And we'll want to look at the ambiguities of this.
Some of the best Byzantine thinkers
are now beginning to reevaluate these great Christian emperors,
but it's a slow and painful process for them.
And we, in the West, with the Renaissance,
have 400 years of sort of head start on this,
of raising questions about the whole concept of Christian empire.
So we might take five minutes out
and then come back and discuss and debate a little,
and then go off and eat.
Questions? Problems? Difficulties?
It seemed very interesting yesterday.
You used the image of a growing person,
first in childhood.
You were talking about security and breaking out.
It's a beautiful image.
Like a purification of faith, historically.
I wonder if there's much speculation
as to where this would lead, this purification of faith.
Yeah, that's the mystery.
That's what a book like this is trying to...
sacralization and secularization.
Then what's the next step?
And they say this is full of mystery.
It's like a kid who's gone through childhood,
that, again, beautiful world
where everything is unified and simple,
and there's answers to everything,
and the answers come from Daddy.
Then he gets into a much more complicated world
where all the answers aren't from Daddy,
and he has to study this book and that book,
and things get very complicated.
Now, it's hard for him to foresee where he's going.
Where will I be?
Say, a 13-year-old kid, you ask him,
where will you be at the age of 30 or even 20?
He'll have ideas of where he wants to be, etc.,
but it's difficult for him to see.
I think, myself, that's where we're at.
We're in this situation
and trying to move ahead,
taking the best,
because the childhood has all sorts of riches
that you can't just repress or cut out.
The best of the childhood
has to be brought in through adolescence,
and adulthood is some kind of serene synthesis of this
at a new level.
And hopefully, what it would involve
would be the best, I think,
the line of continuity is faith.
And I think, for instance,
Vatican II has given us
the kind of step-by-step,
John Henry Newman says,
one step enough for me.
If we've got faith in Christ,
the centrality of Christ,
the centrality of the Scriptures,
the centrality of the Eucharist, etc.,
we've got enough key points for our spirituality
that are very profound.
You can spend a lifetime, I think,
getting into Scripture, praying the Scripture.
Then, the deep heritage of the past.
Keep this,
but moving on to a serene acceptance
of this new situation
and see if we can't move on
taking the best of it all.
I think that might be the thing.
I would think where we have to move on,
at least as a group,
has to be Western and modern.
One or two people
might make a contribution to the journey
by going back, as it were,
and specializing in a very deep way
in, I don't know,
10th century Hindu thought
or 13th century Tibetan Buddhism
or the Hesikast prayer or whatever.
You can specialize in all sorts of things,
and that would be good.
And then they bring these riches
to the community.
But it seems to me
the Christian community as such
and any monastery or hermitage as such,
the community as such,
its basic path has to be along
the lines of sort of what's sketched out
by Vatican II,
what's sketched out by the rule of St. Benedict
and kind of moving on from there.
I don't know if that helps.
I think thus the answer is
not to move back to some era
when there weren't the problems
that we have now.
There's a quote from this Greek theologian.
He says,
technology is an error,
and it's based upon a theological error
that's typically Western, et cetera.
Everything is typically Western.
And then he goes on to this.
I can't even understand
what he's trying to say,
but I don't think we can do
that sort of thing.
We can't just say the modern world
is based upon a theological error.
And if we just get back
to the theological truth,
which is represented by orthodoxy
or the Western Middle Ages
or whatever it be,
then we're safe.
I think what has happened
in medicine and astronomy
and the arts, et cetera,
it can't all be chalked up
to a mistake.
You do then get
your extreme reactions.
Secular becomes secularism.
And as this book says,
that often happens,
the fault is a little of priests.
Here's these scientists
who are saying,
let us do our astronomy.
And the priests say, no,
you've got to do
what the holy office says.
And then these scientists
can enter into crisis,
and some of them go atheist,
et cetera.
And then you do get secularism.
Galileo was a devout Catholic,
and quite of this,
tried to keep a hold of this.
So he submitted, et cetera,
and said in his secret heart,
but it's not true sort of thing.
But the people who couldn't
get through this,
then they get radical secularists.
And then it's science only,
et cetera.
So I think we have to re-begin
a dialogue with the people
we've lost through excessive,
precise sacralization.
And the answer is not
to spit on the Christian humanists
and the Christian scientists,
et cetera,
but to kind of support them
and start a serene dialogue
with the others,
noting also the good
that the others are doing.
Go ahead.
There's a lot I've learned
from you here,
which I find really pleasurable,
so that's a good reason.
I was thinking also,
given the importance of religion,
at least to give us a balance
between the two,
I suppose.
I mean, as Christians,
we have a sense of
the Christianity
as opposed to the religion
of the world.
Yeah, again,
I've been arguing a case,
and so pushing
this whole other side,
I think is certainly true,
because there is a prophetic force
to the East,
and in favor of man
and his spiritual dimension,
certainly this has to be
constantly utilized.
I don't think it should be
in a sneering way,
and I don't think it should be
in the name of this integral whole.
I think the East has to
modestly give up that presumption
to have the integral whole,
and again,
enter into adolescence.
But what I think it does have
is elements,
that are extremely profound.
The Christian of the East
would be Christianic,
but I don't know
the religion.
This is more important
than Christian,
in the East right now.
Yeah, I think this is...
You're talking about
in the East now,
I think, right?
And you were referring
to the Orthodox.
Yeah, but we're on the same
sort of wavelengths.
Let's say that
we're in the East.
It seems like
the Christian East
is on the other side
of ourselves,
as we are on the other side
of ourselves,
because we have
a tendency of going
just to one side,
and they have a tendency
of going to the other side.
I think that's it.
And people feel that
very much in our society.
They go to a bar,
and there's a bar
where they can go
and discover
a Christian religion,
which is,
I think,
a bar
in the Christian East.
I think it's a good idea.
Well, I think that's the key
for us as Westerners
to be as open as possible
to try to see
what is the most valid points
and then to integrate these.
I think this is the...
Whether it be from the East,
whether it be from Zen
or whatever,
I mean, a real openness.
And I think that's
what we're challenged to today
as real contemporaries.
Open to the Orthodox, yes,
but also open
to the Reformed churches,
also open to the whole thing.
This is real Catholicity,
which means universality.
Sometimes people get
so interested in one dialogue
that then they get
almost intolerant
of other dialogues
or other opennesses,
and that ain't.
So, I think the Christian East
can offer so much.
I think Luther
can offer some things.
The Anglican heritage
can offer some things.
The whole bit.
I guess I have
some more immediate concerns,
mostly because you're
going to be leaving.
I want to sort of pick your brain
if I can a bit.
But one of the things
that I'm concerned about
is in coming to a hermitage,
I come from another line
and another tradition
and all of these obviously.
And some of my own reflections
on why I would want
to be a hermit in this world
would be influenced
by those conditions.
For example,
I really don't know
how to come up
with this condition.
I don't know
or understand it.
The other thing is
I don't know if there are
that many sources available.
I don't know what kind
of studies have been done.
But what I'm sort of
leading up to here
is in order to be aware
or to dialogue
or even want to dialogue
with a lot of the world
from this tradition,
I feel I have to get to know
this tradition.
And I don't know.
And I guess I don't know.
For example,
I don't know what has happened
to come up with this tradition
with the impact of the Renaissance
or with its own dialogue
with more contemporary thinkers,
philosophers, whatever.
I just don't know that.
So I guess I'm asking
that number of things.
Are there studies
or are there available material?
is there much in English?
And thirdly,
I guess it would be a concern.
What is the relationship
of a hermit as such,
a man or a woman
who's drawn to deep solitude
and taken a prophetic stance
vis-a-vis the world?
What is a commodity,
what are commodities
that abide there?
Now, these are much more narrow
than what you're presenting.
But they would be concerned
about that.
Yeah, I think Bruno must know
what is available here
in English.
I know lots of translations
have been done.
But there is a literature
and it's significant
For instance,
Thomas Merton, his books,
what, Life and Solitude?
The Silent Life.
He has a final essay
on the commodities.
He considers
Blessed Rudolph's
Constitutions to be very great,
you know, sublime.
Now, I know we have those
in English.
So maybe go through them,
go through them carefully,
look at the implications,
go through some,
St. Peter Damian,
he has some difficult things.
It's a different time
So we can't take it all.
But he has some beautiful things.
Domus Vobiscus, et cetera,
his concept of the whole
universal church present
in each hermit,
sort of thing.
He has some beautiful things
go through them.
There's a whole,
in the Renaissance period,
the commodities are very present.
There's some great
Camaldolese humanists
and great Camaldolese ecumenists
who know Greek,
are involved with the East,
et cetera,
and who are asking
for the reform of the church.
I think, what,
100 years before Luther,
great Anglican,
great Camaldolese humanists
are asking the papacy
to allow the liturgy
and the language of the people,
this sort of thing.
It's a wonderful heritage.
How much has been translated,
I don't know.
There's the lives
of the five brothers,
about these hermits
who want to go
into mission activity.
This whole concept,
a whole different.
Now, the Camaldolese heritage
is always seen
as in the full monastic heritage.
We don't have founders
as the modern orders do.
St. Ronald isn't our founder
in the same sense
as Ignatius for the Jesuits.
What he is
is our spiritual father
who has kind of created
this family
in this one tree of monasticism.
So to see
this whole Camaldolese heritage
also in the context
of the whole Benedictine heritage,
for instance,
the whole medieval.
Don Hugo, our librarian,
did that immense book
on the Camaldolese library
in the Middle Ages.
And it was very richly endowed
for that time.
But they're into the Victorines.
They're into the fathers
of the desert.
They're into lots
of Western fathers
and lots of Eastern.
I think predominantly Western,
but lots of Eastern.
One can, they're,
that's certainly still
just in Italian,
but Bruno knows Italian.
Now, I'll be,
after getting
through this business,
what we'll do
in about November or December
is start a kind of a history
of Christian spirituality.
And I'll get into that.
I really appreciate that.
Wait until I get back.
Well, certainly there's...
I feel this is really critical
for us,
not just to be
historically minded,
and that we're going to not do
what they used to do,
but to get those great
charismatic people
and insights
and then reinterpret it
in our day.
So we're building on something
and not just parachuting down
and becoming hermits or something.
I think the Camaldolese heritage
is very significant,
not pompously,
and it's certainly not rich
like the, I don't know,
the Trappist,
the Cistercian or something.
But it's sufficiently rich,
and some think
maybe a hermetical,
spiritual line
shouldn't be that rich.
That is only,
it's faith.
It's sort of the
dark night in the cell
sort of thing.
And that's why I think
we have to be a little careful
of any full-blown theological,
spiritual synthesis.
We're not after
religious culture.
We're after living
our own prayer.
And Camaldolese have always
been strong
that each one will develop
his own life of prayer,
his own rhythm
in his own cell.
The Carthusians have it
all structured.
And if you go to Mount Athos,
there is that way
of the Jesus prayer,
et cetera.
I think the Camaldolese
tend to be much more flexible
and pluralistic.
But there are indications
of a certain direction,
which I think is a very
exciting direction,
and a very tolerant direction.
And I think
certainly Bruno Wrigley
could help you with that,
with these classics
like Blessed Rudolph
and St. Peter Damian
and the Five Brothers
and so forth.
Then I'll try to get
into this also.
Any kind of bibliography
that you can do
in addition to that.
The Camaldolese were
deeply involved
in the Renaissance period.
Oh yeah, yeah.
It doesn't disaffect
the Camaldolese.
A lot of it is still
in circulation.
Well, here I think you want
to distinguish the various
Camaldolese spaces.
There's the Hermitage,
which was never
right down there
in the Renaissance.
Then there's
the Rural Monastery,
which wasn't that much.
Then there was
the Urban Monastery,
which was.
And the Camaldolese say
each community
can sort of do its thing.
Now there were
great Camaldolese artists
and musicians.
Apparently the man
who invented the musical scale
was the Camaldolese,
and this sort of thing.
The great teacher
of Beato Angelico,
the great painter,
was a Camaldolese,
and his works are there
in the Florentine galleries,
et cetera, this sort of thing.
Now this doesn't,
you could think,
wouldn't this sort of corrupt
the purity of the Urban Monastery?
Well, that's a distinct space.
So it's not,
the Hermits were,
it was insisted then,
you've got to become humanists.
Though the Hermits
were never anti-study.
This is, I think, interesting.
Hugo's study
was of the Hermit library.
It was a very rich library
with lots of meaty theology
and lots of Western fathers.
So they were never on the,
you know,
I don't want to study kick.
Yeah, I would think that
at least in the Camaldolese line
that eventually all of the spaces
would have to dial up
with one another.
Oh, indeed.
Oh, indeed.
And the Eremitical
saves the Cenabitical
from going too worldly
in the bad sense.
And I think the Cenabitical
saves the Eremitical
of going off
so anti-intellectual.
Like, for instance,
the Trappists did
in the 18th and 19th century.
At a certain point,
the whole thing for a Trappist
who was studying for the priesthood
was to not go out to study
and to study the minimum possible.
The thought was,
you know, studies make you vain
and things.
And they had an extremely
unprepared clergy.
At a certain point,
the Holy See itself
had to intervene and insist
that the Carthusians
and the Trappists
go out to study.
We've never had
that sort of problem.
We've always been
a little afraid
of a kind of
of a anti-intellectual reaction
that can get you into...
Because you've got to go somewhere.
Usually, the anti-intellectual
leads into devotionalism
or it leads into fanaticism
for one particular little school.
So, study can be dangerous
and it can go just
the kind of humanistic way.
But at its best,
I think it can lead into
and be a service to wisdom.
And that's, I think,
the direction the Kemalites
have generally tried to go.
Other things?
I guess the bell has rung.
So next time, I guess,
in August,
we'll plunge...
We should polish this up
in August
and get beyond
our defense of the West
and we can certainly
open up again
to the East and the North.
We haven't talked about
the North and the South yet.
We'll get into that after.
Thank you.