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So we have our final session. There's a writer whom some of you may know named Flannery O'Connor, a lady from Georgia who writes very funny, very horrid stories. They're horrible and funny at the same time. And she said once that she likes to write about the things that she doesn't understand. She prefers to write about the things she doesn't understand rather than the things she understands. And I'd like to leave you with something like that, which is a few things I don't understand. A few koans, if you like, for this language. She wrote a number of letters to a person just called A. Her letters were recently published. There was an article in America, I guess a couple years ago now, back in 79, which had some of the best of these letters, extracts from them, which described her insights. The other person was, I think, a convert to the faith, and so she was trying to respond to her questions and her problems concerning Catholicism.


And she shows enormous insight into the faith. A lady, a short story writer, who has a view, sometimes it's three quotes to the view of the Orthodox people we've been quoting before. This is from one of her letters. To see Christ as God and man is probably no more difficult today than it has always been. Even if today there seem to be more reasons to doubt, for you it may be a matter of not being able to accept what you call a suspension of the laws of the flesh and the physical. Remember we've been talking about those laws. Those laws which, as it were, are all summed up in the law of death and the end, because this world and its form is passing away. And it's laws. For my part, I think that when I know what the laws of the flesh and the physical really are, then I will know what God is. We know them as we see them, not as God sees them. For me, it is the virgin birth, the incarnation, the resurrection, which are the true laws of the flesh and the physical.


Death, decay, destruction are the suspension of these laws. That's really something. That's really some insight she puts in in a funny way. But she says that the real laws are the laws of the resurrection, and the other laws are, we can call them a suspension, and they are. There is a suspension caused by sin, an interruption, or something temporary which is to pass away. I'm always astonished at the emphasis the Church puts on the body. It is not the soul, she says, that will rise, but the body glorified. I've always thought that purity was the most mysterious of the virtues, but it occurs to me that it would never have entered the human consciousness to conceive of purity if we were not to look forward to a resurrection of the body, which will be flesh and spirit united in peace, in the way they were in Christ. That spiritual body that we were talking about, where the spirit really predominates. The resurrection of Christ seems the high point in the law of nature. That's magnificent. Down there in Georgia, she's got the same insight as these Orthodox people, theologians.


The resurrection is the high point in the law of nature. There is no law of nature which is liberty. In a sense, the law of God's nature. God who has taken on our nature, and who has taken on our nature and its laws in liberty. Remember where St. Paul says that death is swallowed up. Death is swallowed up in life. The resurrection is the final revolution. We have a lot of revolutions going on. Somehow, something is repressed, something is trying to break through and get the upper hand. And this theologian that I like so much, Olivier Cormac, says that the one real revolution is the revolt of the spirit, the revolution of the spirit. And all of the other ones are just kind of shadows of that. The final revolution is the revolution, the resurrection, the resurrection from the dead. And all of the others are sort of evil anticipations of that.


It says something about our monastic vocation. The monk, according to the Eastern tradition, is supposed to be a witness of the resurrection. Let me quote from an article by this abbot, Basilios of the monastery of Srebrenica in Manhattan. Those are the states that he gave somewhere back in 1917. What makes man truly to be a man and gives him a specific value are not his physical or intellectual capacities, but the grace of having a share in the resurrection of Christ, of being able from now on to live and die eternal life. The monk, with the total gift of himself to God, saves the one unique truth. He lives the one unique joy. He who loses his life in this world will save it. The life of the monk is thus a losing and a finding. The orthodox monk is not what one is accustomed to call a mystic, not somebody who by employing certain abstinences or techniques has arrived at a high degree of self-control of various experiences.


All these things are only realizations belonging to this present world, unimportant in themselves, incapable of overcoming death, both for the monk and his brethren. The true orthodox monk is one who has seen the resurrection of the Lord, who has received something of the experience of the resurrection. He is man raised up. His mission is not to affect something by his thoughts or to organize something by his own capacity, but by his life to give his witness to the conquest of death. And this he does only by burying himself like a grain of wheat in the earth. Many quotes are saying of Abba Sissel, one of the desert fathers who, I don't know, seems to be the most substantial. One of those moments you get the most idea of their personality. There was a young monk that came to him and said, I see that my mind is constantly distraught. I'm continually recollecting. I have become a contemplative. I receive the symphony of prayer.


And Sissel was replied, It's no great thing that your mind should be with God. What matters is that you should feel yourself lower than all creation. Remember the Seventh Review of Meletti and the Rule of St. Benedict. That paradoxical one where the person who is ascending, who is getting better, who is getting holier, feels himself the lowest and the worst of all. And yet not with a depressed, not with a prostrate feeling, not with a feeling of inferiority as we normally mean when we say this, but somehow with a feeling of joy. The true monk is one who has been raised from the dead, a first fruit of the general resurrection, an image of the risen Christ. Thus the monk reveals the spiritual mission of what is created and bodily. At the same time he reveals the tangible existence of what is uncreated and immaterial. He has the sacred task of celebrating in the midst of the Church the salvation of all created things. In a particular way he is concerned with all and concerned with nothing.


And we're separated from all and united with all, as I do. The idea of specialization is foreign to his very nature. He is not specialized in one thing and unconcerned about something else. Everything concerns him. Okay, this is a good talk. He goes on to talk about the way the monk life is centered in the liturgy, the way that dying to oneself takes place. And then there's the matter of compunction, the sorrow of which brings joy. He tells a little story. In humble men like this who radiate grace, one feels that two great virtues are always at work, the mystery of repentance and the mystery of love. We talked about that paschal mystery, the death and the resurrection of Jesus, in a way somehow they can be carried in the heart together. And that's what the monk's life is supposed to become, this whole matter of tears and grieving and repentance and compunction is connected with that, with learning how to bear the death and the life of Jesus in one.


Remember St. Paul uses those very words, 2 Corinthians chapter 4 and then again in chapter 5. Let that passage, let me see if I can find it. The title of this article actually that I'm reading, the title of this talk is Dying and Behold We Live. And that comes from 2 Corinthians. St. Paul has already said that while we live we're always being given up to death for Jesus' sake so that the life of Jesus may be manifest in our mortal flesh. And now he says a little later, As servants of God we commend ourselves in every way for great endurance in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, all these things. By purity, knowledge, forbearance, kindness. He changes his tone a little bit. The Holy Spirit, the power of God. Holy Spirit, genuine love, truthful speech and the power of God. With the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left. The right hand to hand of life, as it were. The left hand to hand of death. He's living both of these. In honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute.


We are treated as impostors and yet are true. Right and left, death and life. As unknown and yet well known. As dying and behold we live. As punished and yet not killed. As sorrowful yet always rejoicing. As poor yet making many risks. As having nothing yet possessing everything. Isn't that magnificent? Those words of St. Paul are nothing more powerful. And yet in the words of some of these spiritual writers, you also catch that same note. You get that same note of exultation. That note of the resurrection of the heart. That's what I wanted to read tonight. It surprises me to see that he speaks from that place. He talks about the first letter of St. John is coming from that place. And there are a few other things that seem to me to be the same voice. He talks then about examples of the monk who has reached maturity. One finds nothing superhuman in him. Nothing which astonishes or makes one giddy. But rather something deeply human and humble. Something which brings peace and new courage.


He begins to talk about the spiritual father. And then he describes one. He says, there are such people and I know one. And he goes on to describe his own spiritual father, I think. And it was quite a quite easy to die about a year and a half ago over in Manhattan. Who was one of the best known of the spiritual men of the day. I've never seen another account like this of a spiritual father. You read something like this, perhaps. I've seen it in a theologian. Such monks, unknown and anonymous, but full of life, exist. I know one. He literally overflows. That is an expression which gives some idea of the truth about him. Then he goes on like this for a couple of pages. He has a treasure of inexpressible joy hidden in an earthen vessel, small and fragile. Paisios was a little man. I think he only had one lung and he had all kinds of problems. Not many of his teeth left. And this joy overflows and spreads all around him. Filling his surroundings with its fragrance. Light shines from his being. His inner rejoicing sometimes goes beyond his endurance.


Breaks his heart. Shows itself in tears and cries and gestures. Remember Zuzia? And whether he speaks or whether he is silent. Whether he sleeps or whether he is awake. Whether he's present or whether he's absent. It's always the same thing which he says. The same thing which he is. The same grace and the same power. His presence or his memory. The feeling that he is near or simply that he exists of itself conveys something other. Something uncreated, tranquil, penetrating. It is something which renews man. Calms his nerves. Extinguishes his anger. Enlightens his heart and mind. Gives wings to his hope and prepares him for a struggle which gives quiet and peace to a whole people. Then he goes on and it sounds like he's talking about God. Here is something which is before all ages and unmoved. Is constantly coming to birth. That which emanates from him can neither be exhausted nor fragmented. So on. He is a day of sunshine and of calm. A well of purity and of fruitful virginity. His whole body, as it were, forms a laugh of silent joy. Gentleness and radiance both come from him.


Like a day in spring when the breeze is full of the scents of new life. So his words are full of the fragrance which comes from the radiant valleys of his heart. The slopes of his sacred and light bearing request. I remember hearing an account of somebody, I think it was Malcolm Humberidge, about Mother Teresa. When the saints had this particular luminosity about them. And he had just taken her to the train with him. She got on the train and he said it was just all of the joy and all of the light in the world. And suddenly, he got on the train and gone out of sight. He has gone out of the realm of our habitual actions. If you strike him, your blows will not reach him. He is beyond them. If you seek him, wherever you are, you will find him beside you. He lives only for you. All confess to the terror of this life.


And he confesses to all. No one hesitates to reveal the secrets of his heart to him. On the contrary, everyone opens his heart to him with confidence. And the flower opens towards the sun. So now he's got the sun inside of him. And he has no fear that others should learn the secrets of his life. On the other hand, he often places a screen of silence between the burning and luminous being and the feeble senses of his visitors. The fear that the latter should lose his power of seeing ordinary and everyday things. And beside of this blinding splendor. It reminds us of that so-called conversation of St. Joseph of Nicaragua with the cobra. Where the old man lights up like the sun, like a bonfire. And they're both captured in the flame of the holy spirit. In conversation, he is attentive and polite. He knows, he sees, he loves. He sees where things are leading. He exposes your difficulties one by one in the most natural way. He lets you see him, assimilate him. And each time in the course of conversation, he asks how you feel.


You perceive that he is helping you discreetly. He does not interfere harshly. He does not impose himself in some magic way. He shows you how your true self should function according to its nature. He leaves you free. And you find yourself a prisoner of the truth, the freedom of reality itself. And you go away absolved without anxieties made quiet and made strong. You go away and return to your work. You go wherever you like and you always remain here. It is here that you carry the one experience of your life, which makes this place an alpharet for you, a place which can be called God has seen, God has mentioned. And so on. So, those people still exist. There's an article not very long ago on death by Anthony Bloom, which I'd like to read a bit of to you now,


in connection with this whole business of how the monk approaches death, takes the thought of death and somehow learns to live with it and the significance that it has for us. I'm just going to read a bit of it. The article itself is pretty good. It was in Savoy notes, as was the other one I read. That other one, Dying, Behold, We Live, that came out in a part of my book. The section on Father Basil. Death is the touchstone of our attitude to life. People who are afraid of death are afraid of life. It's impossible not to be afraid of life with all its complexity and dangers if one is afraid of death. It's only if we can face death, make sense of it, and determine its place and our place with regard to it that we will be able to live in a fearless way and to the fullness of our abilities. Too often we wait until the end of our life to face death, whereas we would have lived quite differently if only we had faced death at the outset. There's a patristic injunction, constantly repeated over the centuries,


that we should be mindful of death throughout our life. Remember, in the Rule of Saint Benedict, to keep death before your eyes every day. It's in Chapter 4. But if such a thing is repeated to a modern man who suffers from timidity and from the loss of faith and experience which prevails in our times, he will think he's called upon to live under the shadow of death in a condition of gloom, haunted always by the fear that death is on its way and that then there will be no point in having lived. And in the West, for the past couple of centuries, we seem to have been under a gloomy kind of spirituality which makes it very hard for us to approach this in the right way, a balanced way. A kind of Friday Catholicism. And then Vatican II, or a birth token, on Sunday once again, as the pendulum tends to turn over to the other side. But it's hard for us to get back to the balance. Most of the time we live as though we were writing a draft for the life which we will live later. He wrote this to me, actually. We live not in a definitive way, but provisionally,


as though preparing for the day when we will really begin to live. We're like people who write a rough draft with the intention of making a fair copy later. But the trouble is that the final version never gets written. Death comes before we have had the time or even generated the desire to make a definitive formulation. We always think that it can be done tomorrow. I will live approximately today. Tomorrow is when I shall act in a definitive way. It's true that things are wrong, but give me time. I'll sort them out somehow, or else they'll come out right in themselves. Yet we all know that the time never actually comes. The injunction, be mindful of death, is not a call to live with a sense of terror. It means, rather, be aware of the fact that what you're saying now, doing now, hearing, enduring, or receiving now may be the last and final experience of your present life. In which case, it must be a crowning, not a defeat, or something not at all. Only awareness of death will give life this immediacy, and death will bring life to life, will make it so intense that its totality is hung up in the present moment.


One of the key things that we're called upon to learn is awareness. All life is at every moment an open act. I think I mentioned Isaac the Tyrian. Isaac the Tyrian is one of the masters of confuction, one of the writers who has spoken most movingly about fear. I just want to read a couple of extracts, which may be funny to many of you. You may have heard these passages already. They're in the Russian version of The Coal Collier, and they're in those versions of translations that have been out for about 15 years. Over 20 years, in fact. By Kazabatian, but this is from an article by Fatima Long. So long as you have not reached the realm of fear, that which is hidden within you still serves the world. That is, you still lead a worldly life and do the work of God only with your outer man, while the inner man is balanced, for his food begins with fear.


It's as if the gift of fear is the sign of the birth of the inner man, the child of the heart of the world, for the Old Monk. When you reach the realm of fears, then know that your mind has left the prison of this world, has put its foot on the path of a new age, and has begun to smell the scent of new and wondrous air. Like as we're going to paradise. We're actually moving ahead into paradise. Tears begin to flow because the birth of the spiritual child is near. Grace, the common mother of all, wishes mysteriously to bring forth a divine image into the light of the life to come. But these tears are of a different order from those which come from time to time to those fractured in silence. There's a key to this. Sometimes during contemplation, sometimes during reading, or at the time of prayer. I'm not speaking of this type of tears, but of such as flow unceasing day and night. The eyes of a man who has reached this degree become like a spring of water for up to two years and more,


after which he comes to the stilling of thoughts. After the stilling of thoughts, as far as nature permits it, there comes that rest of which St. Paul speaks. He's referring to Hebrews, chapter 4, among the rest that we talked about this Sabbath. In this peaceful tranquility, the mind begins to contemplate mysteries. Then the Holy Spirit begins to reveal to him heavenly things. God comes to dwell in him, and resurrection is the fruit of the Spirit. When you enter the realm of stillness of thought, the profusion of tears is taken from you, and tears come to your moderation at the proper time. That experience may be a little unusual in our time, but that's the way the Fathers spoke about it. It points the way, even if we don't have the same experience. We look for examples of the monk who has arrived, the one who's really got there, and we try to hear that voice that comes from that place,


or it comes from the other side. It can be very disconcerting sometimes when we do hear that voice, because we don't get what we expect. It's not always as it would sound, coming from that description of Paisios. The Desert Fathers are talking about the Desert Fathers again, with the attitude. They're talking about purity of heart. That's the attitude. If they often speak of the process of purification, the Desert Fathers are much more reserved when it's a matter of the state to which this leads, and the way in which purity is translated into practice. There's a simple reason for this. In fact, what the Lord loves is all that a man does in secret. It isn't just what he's doing. That's the saying of the Fathers. The idea of doing what to do in secret, but it's the Father that's doing secrets in the mortuary. That is, works in which there is nothing human, and it means that there's no feedback, there's no reward on us,


and we have to keep the reward out of praise of others, the admiration of others. If a man reaches the state of which the Apostles said, all is pure to those who are pure, he sees himself as inferior to all creation. He's coming back. This is the point at which the purity of heart of the great old men of the desert culminates in this world, not in heavenly vision, which they neither seek nor desire, but in the vision of their own nothingness, in the light of him who alone is pure, because their heart is single and simple, looking to God alone. Which is not to say that a person should repel vision, and he should reject it, but only that. That's not what we're meant to see. And, once again, it points the direction for us. He's collected a few of the sayings of the old men at their time of death, with more of the same. When he saw the prophets and the Apostles


come to meet him at Abahamton, the saint sister would break the angel's commission to bear away his soul, to leave him a little time for penitence, saying, I'm not really aware of having begun. With most of the old men, humility showed itself as perpetual self-accusation. They never stopped saying that they were sinners in every way, the most wretched and contemptible of men. Sounds crazy to you. But their spiritual poverty is perhaps still more manifest when the most lowly of them recognize, especially at the moment of their death, that they have no good in them. Abba Arsenios was one-third to cry out to God, O God, don't abandon me. I've done nothing good in your sight, but in your mercy grant that I may be good now. When I was young, said Abba Matulus, I said to myself, perhaps someday I shall do some good. But now that I am old, I see that I have no good work in me. It's a great soul, for those who are past forty. Abba Pambo said similarly, so I am going to God as if I had not even begun to serve Him. And that's the way it is. Remember St. Clarice said that she was going to God


and then she died. That's beautiful. You don't have to be afraid of becoming holy, because you won't know it when you know it. All these holy old men said fundamentally the same thing without ever repeating one another. When Abba Papnusius was near death, the brothers who lived with him said, you, our father, are happy, for you are going to the kingdom. And Abba Papnusius said to them, I've certainly made my life into a laughing stock. I've certainly made a joke of my life. That's beautiful. That's the self-destructing kind of voice, which leaves you free. So you don't have your whole inner hanging around your neck like a weight, getting ready to go to heaven. They say that's why the angels comply, because they take themselves lightly. You've heard it. I'm not telling you anything you don't know. There's another paradox in this. That is, this business of being a child and a father at the same time.


Often the father's son looks like children. What they have is so simple. Like St. John, you know, he always said, little children love one another. And he was like a little child himself, because he didn't know anything else. That's the legend about St. John when he was very old. But this is the present holy father, Pope John Paul. To take in oneself the radiation of parenthood does not only mean to become a father, it means to become a child, to become a son. Being the father of many, many people, I must be a child. The more a father, the more a child. Because somehow, one must move into the fatherhood of God. One must be closer to the father, which means to become more and more a child. And it's another thing about this self-destructing holiness. It's self-destructing, because you don't get bigger in some way, you get smaller, as you become able to transmit this life of fatherhood, which is God. And so as one becomes a father, one becomes a child. That too is beautiful. And we remember how hard it is


for us to permit ourselves to be children. This is another little text from Bagnier. It's a talk that he gave. There's one thing I know for absolutely certain, and that is that the deepest cry of the human heart, the fundamental cry, the deepest yearning for us all, which is at the source of everything, is the yearning to be loved and to love. And he's talking about the child as well. But there's very deep, deep yearning for a communion, for a friendship. If it isn't this wise to give it, then there is fear. Because if we yearn to love, all of us, we know what love is about. It is to reveal the secret. It is to reveal the secret. That is what love is all about. It is to give to another person that which is hidden. And in that knowledge, that the other person will cherish the secret. That is what love is. But as soon as we give the secret, we are vulnerable. Remember we were talking about that whole ego thing, the business of the false self, the ego itself. We are terribly vulnerable


because the secret is that part of my being which is the most fragile and the littlest. In many ways it is the child that is inside of me. It is terribly, terribly vulnerable. And if I give this vulnerable part of my being, this secret, and somebody walks on it, somebody laughs at it, somebody turns the other way, somebody spits on it, then I am hurt in the very depths of my being. So I go back into myself and I will say never again, never again will I get hurt like that. And a lot of us have done that when we were much younger, way back in our childhood somehow when we don't even remember. And we close the door and that door may never open up again. Or it may not open up for 30 or 40 years. So then I refuse relationship and I put out defense mechanisms and I harden my heart because never again do I want somebody to touch me and my vulnerability. So that is why love is the most beautiful reality for which we are yearning. But in a way we are all terribly frightened of because it is the heart of our vulnerability. So learning to be a spiritual father,


learning to be a child, is learning to become vulnerable once again, is opening oneself somehow to love. And yet with a new strength, somehow a strength that comes from beyond us, a strength which is faith, which is trust, which is somehow then restored on a level deeper than the level of trusting people. It is a matter of trusting God so that even if that love is rejected, even if it is spit upon, we don't have to retract ourselves and go back into that shell again. That shell business comes out in many current schools of psychology. We were talking about Thomas Merkman and his false self and that thing is a shell. That is an ego shell. Remember we talked about Karen Horner and Father Theodore at Bedford School and so forth, any example, it is the same thing there, you know, the same shell described differently. It describes this vulnerable, sensitive essence of the person, as they call it. And then they describe the ego,


which forms a shell around it to protect it, which is a compulsive thing, a defensive thing. You know, it just reacts immediately, like an eyelash when something comes at you to repel the threat. And we do that. We have that thing. And the reason why we can't love very often, the reason why we can't be compassionate is because our fear, that fear that's way down deep inside of us, our fear of death, our fear of death still hasn't been faced and hasn't been overcome. And our maturity, all our understanding, all our wisdom isn't able to get down into there and make the stone offset, offset whatever it is, offset love. It isn't able to open that door. Some people have had a more lingering memory or a more lingering sense


of that openness. And one of them is Thomas Cahern. I don't know if you've ever read any of his poetry, but he, when he was a child, had a very intense sense of the spiritual depth of all things, an incredible kind of vision that he had. And he remembered it when he was older. And he writes about it marvelously. He was an Anglican, a divine Anglican, preacher of several languages. I think we're back in the 17th century. And he talks about how he saw things when he was a child. All appeared new and strange at the first, inexpressibly rare and delightful and beautiful. I was a little stranger, but yet my entrance into the world was saluted and surrounded with innumerable joys. My knowledge was divine. I knew by intuition those things which, since my apostasy, I collected again by the highest reason. My very ignorance was advantageous. I seemed as one brought into the estate of innocence. All things were spotless and pure and glorious,


yea, and infinitely mine and joyful and precious. I knew not that there were any sins or complaints or laws. I dreamed not of poverties, contentments or vices. You didn't know about real estate or anything like that. All tears and quarrels were hidden from mine eyes. Everything was at rest, free and immortal. I knew nothing of sickness or death or exaction. In the absence of these, I was entertained like an angel with the works of God and their splendor and glory. I saw all in the peace of Eden. Heaven and earth did sing my creator's praises and could not make more melody to Adam than to me. All time was eternity in a perpetual Sabbath. Is it not strange that an infant should be heir of the world and see those mysteries which the books of the learned never unfold? See, he saw it. He hadn't closed the door yet. He still remembers how it was when the door was still open. The corn was oriented a mortal wreath, which never should be weeped nor it was never sown. I thought it had stood from everlasting to everlasting. This is the way he looked at me. This is the way he sees me. The dust and stones of the street


were as precious as gold. The gates were at first the end of the world, the gates of the town. The green trees, when I saw them first through one of the gates, transported and ravished me. Their sweetness and unusual beauty made my heart to leap. A tree, a young tree. And almost mad with ecstasy, there were such strange and wonderful things. The men, oh, what venerable and reverent creatures did the ages seem, the old men. Immortal cherubims and young men glittering and sparkling angels and maids, strange, seraphic pieces of life and beauty. Boys and girls tumbling in the street and playing while moving jewels. I knew not that they were born or should die. These, he seemed to remember. But all things abided eternally as they were in their proper places. Eternity was manifest in the light of the day, and something infinite behind everything appeared, which talked with my expectation and moved my desire. The city seemed to stand in Eden, but to be built in Heaven. The streets were mine, the temple was mine, the people were mine. Their clothes and gold and silver were mine, as much as their sparkling eyes,


their skins and ruddy faces. The skies were mine, and so were the sun and moon and stars. And all the world was mine, and I the only spectator and enjoyer of it. I knew no churlish propriety, no bounds, no divisions. But all proprieties and divisions were mine, all treasures and the possessors of them. So that with much ado I was corrupted, he got educated, and made to learn the dirty devices of this world, which now I unlearned, to become as it were a little child again that I may have taken to the city of God. He got educated, he got taught out of that innocence, out of that vision by the grown-ups, by those who were older and wiser than he, and now he wants to recover once again. Recently I've been reading The British Caravaggio. I don't know if you're familiar with that book, but that's a place where you really hear that voice, that voice coming from the heart, the heart which has been


reopened and has somehow found within itself the signal of Heaven once again. And the voice comes mostly from Father Zosima. You know, Father Zosima is the old monk, the spiritual father, and Ayasha is the young monk, the young monk who in the end goes out into the world, but he's the disciple of Father Zosima. And Father Zosima is going to die, and he's on his deathbed, and he's telling about his life to the monks that are around him, and he tells about a brother of his, an elder brother who died when he was still a child. This is how he describes it. Remember that Dostoevsky himself had had this encounter with death. He was before the firing squad, and also he was an epileptic, so he sort of carried his death around with him, waiting for it to jump on his back all the time, which he did periodically. This is Zosima talking about his brother who died. Second slide.


His brother was kind of a wild kid. It was the beginning of Lent, and Marko, that was his name, was not fast. He was rude and laughed at it. That's all silly twaddle, and there is no God, he said, horrifying my mother who was a servant to me too. Although I was only nine, I too was aghast at hearing such words. In the sixth week in Lent, my brother, who was never strong and had a tendency to consumption, was taken ill. He was tall, but thin and delicate looking in a very pleasing countenance. I suppose he caught cold. Anyway, the doctor who came soon whispered to my mother that it was galloping consumption and he would not live through the spring. So he proceeds to get sicker and sicker. My mother began weeping and careful not to alarm my brother, she entreated him to go to church to confess and take the sacrament that he was still able to move about. This made him angry and he said something profane about the church. He grew thoughtful, however, and guessed at once that he was seriously ill. Death was at the door and that was why his mother was begging him


to confess and take the sacrament. Three days passed and Holy Week had come and on Tuesday morning, my brother began going to church. I'm doing this simply for your sake, Mother, to please and conquer Jesus. My mother wept with joy and peace. The man must be here, she thought, for such a change. But he was not able to go to church long. He took to his bed so he had to confess and take the sacrament at home. And then he discussed how he got sicker and sicker and moved towards Easter. The old nurse would come in and say, let me light the lamp before the icon might appear. And once he would not have allowed it, he would have thrown it out. Light it, light it here, it would be interesting. I was the wretch who had prevented you doing it. You're praying when you light the lamp and I'm praying when I rejoice Jesus. So we're praying to the same God. He seemed to be a little out of his mind. Those words seemed strange to us and Mother would go to her room


and weep, but when she went into it, she wiped her eyes and looked careful. Mother, don't weep, darling, and say, I've long to live yet, long to rejoice with you and life is glad and joyful. Ah, dear boy, how can you talk of joy when you lie feverish at night coughing as though you were tearing yourself to pieces. Don't cry, Mother, and answer. Life is paradise and we're all in paradise but we won't see it if we would. If we would, we should have heaven on earth the next day. Everyone wondered at his words. He spoke so strangely and positively and we were all touched and wept. The thing of tears occurred when Mother wept tears. Friends came to see us. Dear ones, he would say to them, what have I done that you should love me so? How can you love anyone like me? And how was it? I did not know. I did not appreciate it before. His tenderness was suddenly tremendous. It was as if he was a bit out of his mind. He was a bit feverish. But yet his vision which was in what he said had come from somewhere else and his voice that I was talking about had come from that place which was in his head. When the servants


came into him he would say continually, dear kind people, why are you doing so much for me? Do I deserve to be waited on? If it was God's will for me to live I would wait on you for all men should wait on one another. Mother shook her head as she listened. My darling, if your illness makes you talk like that. Mother dear, he would say, there must be servants and masters, yes, but if so, I will be the servants of my servants the same as they are to me. And another thing, Mother, every one of us has sinned against all men and I more than any. Mother positively smiled at that, smiled through her tears. Why, how could you have sinned against all men more than all? Robbers and murderers have done that, but what sin have you committed yet if you hold yourself more guilty than all? Mother, little heart of mine, he said, he had begun using such strange caressing words at that time. Little heart of mine, my joy, believe me, everyone is really responsible for all men, for all men, for everything. I don't know how to explain it to you, but I feel it is so, painfully even.


And how is it we went on then living, getting angry and not knowing? So he would get up every day, more and more sweet and joyous, full of love. When the doctor, an old German called Eichensmith, came in, well, doctor, have I another day in this world, he would ask jokingly. You'll live many days yet, the doctor would answer, and months and years too. Months and years, he would exclaim. Why reckon a day, one day is enough for a man to know all happiness. My dear one, why do we quarrel, try to outshine each other and keep grudges against each other? Let's go straight into the garden, walk and play there, love, appreciate and kiss each other and glorify life. Your son cannot last long, the doctor told my mother as she accompanied him to the door. The disease is affecting his brain. And so tell he, he looked after and went on keeping word. And looking at them and admiring them, he began suddenly begging their forgiveness too. Birds of heaven, happy birds, forgive me for I have sinned against you too. None of us could understand


that at that time that he said tears of joy. Yes, he said, but there was such a glory of God all about me, birds, trees, meadows, sky. Only I lived in shame, dishonored at all, did not notice the beauty of glory. It was out of his head, but somehow it was terrible. You take too many sins on yourself, mother used to say recently. Mother darling, it's for joy, not for grief I'm crying. Though I can't explain it to you, I like to humble myself before them, though I don't know how to love them enough. If I have sinned against everyone, yet all forgive me too, and that's heaven. Am I not in heaven now? And there was a great deal more, I don't remember. And then how, he describes how he died in the rain. And before he died, he says to that woman, well, run and play now, enjoy life for me too. I went out then and ran to play, and many times in my life afterwards I remembered, even with tears, how he told me to enjoy life for him too. So,


that somehow is the seed in Zosima's heart. And then Zosima becomes a monk and grows old. He becomes a holy old monk and he's the spiritual father of the heroes of Zoroastrianism. And Zosima's about to die and he begins to talk to his mom. Probably you've heard or read some of the passages on this, that the words of Zosima are kind of immortal. Somehow Zosima's got that voice, the heart that's beyond, the heart that's on the other side. And that's the way Zosima talks. You remember, just, I don't want to keep you much longer, but that passage that we read of Thomas Merton where he had that experience in Uruzo, it's the same voice where he had that experience of what he called the virgin point of that opening of the heart. And he sees sort of


something in all man. He sees him transfigured in some way. And then he just won with all of them. I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God himself became incarnate. As if the moment could overwhelm me, now I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this, but it cannot be explained. There's no way of telling people that they're all walking around shining like the sun. This is what sounds like Zosima. This changes nothing in the sense of value and value of my solitude, for it's, in fact, the function of solitude to make one realize such things with a clarity that would be impossible to anyone, completely immersed in the other cares, the other illusions, and all the automatisms of the type of collective existence. My solitude, however, is not my own, for I see now how much it belongs to them, and that I have a responsibility for it in their regard, not just in my own, as for all of strangers walking around. It's because I am


one with them that I owe it to them to be alone, and when I am alone, they are not they, but my own self. There are no strangers. Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts, where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach. The core of their reality, the person of each one is in God's eyes. If only they could all see themselves as they really are, if only we could see each other that way all the time, there would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed. I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other, but this cannot be seen, only believed and understood by a peculiar gift. Again, that expression, the point here, the virgin point, it's an expression I think that comes from Nathanael. I cannot translate it, he says. The English is difficult. The English translation comes in here. At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by


illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes of our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our own will. This little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty is the pure glory of God in us. It is, so to speak, his name written in us, as our poverty, as our indigence, as our dependence, as our sonship. It is like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody, and if we could see it, we would see these billions of points of light coming together in the face and blaze of the sun that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely. I have no program for this thing. It is only given. From the gate of heaven, if it were. It's the voice that you hear in the first letter of St. John. Remember where he says what we have seen with


our eyes, what we have heard with our ears, what we have heard with our ears. And then another place in the letter where he says now I call you children, now I call you now I call you sisters, now I now I call you brothers, now I go to a voice that echoes that voice


and it echoes echoes the answer to the are trying There are two books, there was an older edition called The Undistorted Images, yeah, Silouan of Mount Athos. And it's edited by this Archimandite, Patronius, who was his disciple. There's a book of his own I'm not sure whose life is behind it. It's published by Saint Vladimir. This is the writing of Silouan and the other is his biography. He speaks the same language, he's talking from the same place. Listen to him, he's talking about the knowledge of God. The way that he describes his God is not just to know it, it's to know it.


It's to know it in the heart, it's to know it with that depth which is beyond words. The Lord is made known in the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit pervades the entire man, soul, mind, and body. In this way is God known in heaven and on earth. The Lord in his boundless mercy granted this grace to me, a sinner, that others might come to know God and turn to him. I write this out of the grace of God. Yea, this is true. The Lord himself is my witness. He's another one who is very much into compunction. He had a vision, I guess, of our lady. And then he received these words,


Keep your mind in hell if it is fair enough. That was sort of his reflection. Keep your mind in hell if it is fair enough. And he was, most people couldn't bear that particular charge, but he was a strong man. He's got a section in his writings called Adam's Compass, which is a kind of poem on compunction, which he writes in the same place as the words that he wrote. I'm just going to read a little bit more from Justin. Justin was talking to his mom. There's one passage where they frequently quarrel. He's on his deathbed already. He stayed on his deathbed for about 100 pages in this book. And various things happened to his mom. Love one another, fathers. That fathers ought to mean, as far as our yesher could be more accurate.


Love God's people. Because we have come here and shut ourselves within these walls, we are no holier than those that are outside. But on the contrary, from the very fact of coming here, each of us has confessed to himself that he is worse than others, and all men on earth. He's talking about the monetary level of slavery. Learn sometimes, Justin, that way of taking it out. If you're solidary, then you're not good enough to confess to the other people. And the longer the monk lived in his seclusion, the more keenly he must recognize that, else he would have had no reason to come here. When he realizes that he is not only worse than others, but that he is responsible to all men, for all, and everything. The same thing that his brother was responsible for to Markle, which is also what Martin was saying. He's responsible, somehow, for everything. There's no separation, no isolation. For all human sins, national and individual, only then the aim of our seclusion has been attained. For no dear one, but every one of us is undoubtedly responsible


for all men and everything on earth, not merely through the general sinfulness of creation, but each one personally, for all mankind and every individual man. But somehow this knowledge, this responsibility, doesn't weigh him down. This knowledge is the crown of life for the monk and for every man. For monks are not a special sort of man, but only what all men ought to be. Monks are not a special sort of man. So maybe they're just ordinary men trying to wake up, or with some kind of a consciousness that leads them to try to stay awake, to try to find out what it is that a man is, what his life is, what his responsibility is, what he's going to do. Only through that knowledge our heart grows soft with infinite, universal, and exhaustible love. And every one of you will have the power to win over the whole world by love, to wash away the sins of the world with your tears. Each of you keep watch over your heart and confess your sins to yourself unceasingly.


Be not afraid of your sins, even when forgiven, if only they be penitent, but make no conditions with pride, as Martin said. Again I say, be not proud, be proud neither to the little nor to the great. Hate not those who reject you, who insult you, who abuse and slander you. Hate not the atheists, the teachers of evil, the materialists, the mystics, and even the communists. And I mean not only the good ones, but there are many good ones among them, especially nowadays. Hate not even the wicked ones. Remember them in your prayers in this way. Save, O Lord, all those who have not to pray for them. Save, too, all those who will not pray. And ask, it is not in pride that I make this prayer, O Lord, for I am always and always. Love God's people. Amen. It's the same voice. There's another monk in there who's sort of counter-posed to Zosima. Zosima is not a great ascetic. He puts jam in his tea every now and then.


I don't know if he drank any vodka. And he's a tender, he's a soft hearted man. And there's this other guy who is the old ascetic. He's almost a caricature of the hermit. He's got about 30 pounds of metal planking on his body all the time. And he's dressed like John the Baptist. And he's crazy as a loon. And everybody admires him. They consider him a saint. Whereas he tends to look a little bit of cancer to Fr. Zosima because he's a little too soft. And Zosima, he puts these two side by side. And there's this marvelous scene where Zosima has died and his body begins to decompose. And that's not good for him. His body should not be used for a lot, especially on the first day. And he begins to smell. And this scandalizes the people. So they go, no, he can't be a saint. His body ought to be incorruptible. At least it ought to be decent enough to stay sanitary for three or four days


before we get him on the ground. Technology needs to be incorruptible. And this other part of the hermit, Heropon, begins to use this as a way to conclude that Zosima is not a holy man. ...


Is there especially violence? ... What is it? ... [...] This is after the healing. ... That's after healing.


... They could have had him embalmed after all, you know. They probably nailed it. He would have had to have broken the rules to go out and get embalmed. ... Heropon and Zosima sort of represent what you read about in St. Benedict's chapter 72. And I'll just finish up with that. That's after the bitter zeal and the good zeal. ... This is there is an evil zeal of bitterness


which separates from God and leads to hell. So there's a good zeal which separates from vices and leads to God and to life after life. This zeal, therefore, the monks should practice to the most fervent level. First they should anticipate one another in honor. Most patiently endure one another's extremities, whether of body or character. Try in paying obedience to one another, no one following what he considers useful for himself but rather what benefits another. Tend to the charity of brotherhood, faithfully steer God in love, love their others with a sincere, humble charity, and prefer nothing but a good charity, as you then are supposed to give to the rest of the world. But this is the preferring nothing but everything Christ has done, and closes all the rest, and takes it all. What does it mean to prefer nothing but everything to Christ? Well, it means to prefer nothing but everything to his will. In another place, St. Benedict says, prefer nothing but everything to the love of Christ. But what is the love of Christ? Is it the love that we have for Jesus? Yes, it's that. We don't prefer anything against him.


But it's also the love which comes from him. It's that love of Christ which is the very climate of our community life. It's the very climate, the very atmosphere in which we're supposed to live in an active community. So to prefer nothing to that, nothing to that kingdom, sort of, which we're given, which means that we have to live that kingdom of God, the kingdom of love, which is the kingdom of life. Okay, that's enough of my lecture comments. I recommend that the story of Zosima, and what it has up to you, it's hard to find the personality of the sort of transfigured monk captured so well in any of the activities of the church. And I've seen there, after Zosima died, where his disciple, Al-Yasha, comes back and comes into the chapel


where the prior, the superior, is reading the Gospel of Zosima. He's reading the Gospel of the marriage feast that came up, where Jesus came to the water and the wine. And he has a dream of his elder, of Zosima, coming to him before the sleep of his third, and has a dream of Zosima coming to him as one of the guests of the marriage feast. And it's very simple. The old man has somehow had a reverse transfiguration, corrupted, instead of being illuminated, he's filled with light. And at the same time, there's this Gospel of the wedding time, of the changing of the water and the wine. And Al-Yasha goes outside, he embraces the earth, and there's a very nice picture. And in his tears, he somehow senses that the marriage of heaven and earth exists for him in the position that he sees the comparison of his location to his spiritual father.


He doesn't need it to increase his spiritual peace. Somehow he captures it in the heart of Jesus. Something that we need to rediscover, because there's no difference between God's love and sacrifice, other than the heart, other than finding that attitude, I don't want to call it an attitude, finding that place, which is somehow the place of the resurrection. If you don't already know God, it takes us a lifetime to work our way in there. Lifetimes to change our passion and to come back and self-love and to love. And fear and distress, but a place of God. Any questions? Yes. Yes, the thing is, the reason why we come


is not exactly the reason why we think we come. That's the face of it. That is, a monk never understands the vocation with fully. So we can never explain our monastic vocation sufficiently to be adequate for it. And so he may think, he may not have any other language in which to express what his vocation means to him, but it may mean a lot more than that. So it's very often that it's the culture that determines how a monk thinks about his vocation, or how any religion thinks about their vocation. And so at a certain time, they can think about it in a very narrow way, and yet that doesn't change the vocation of this. He can still be living his life for all mankind. And I think that he will, even if he thinks he's only living for himself. The poor thing is that somehow he does the work and focuses on his God. But it's better, of course, when our spirituality grows


and we can really be conscious that we are being represented. Yeah, that's fantastic. That can turn into an egocentrism, if we believe that we have a real, special mission to complete, to take charge of the real powerhouse that's there. That's why Martin went against that idea of the powerhouse that's there, because that's another egocentrism. Don't think of yourself as any kind of a powerhouse. Not even a sense, no, not even a battery. Thank you. Thank you. You mean we don't love God any more than that?


I think that's what that's showing. That's what that's showing. Yeah. Especially for us others. There's a real stirring Mother Superior I know that says that you don't love God any more than you love the person you love least in the world, or among your brothers and sisters. That's pretty rough. I couldn't live with that. But I think what you say is true, but we're always going to find ourselves falling pitifully short in our love. It's sort of we have to have a right hand and a left hand. With the right hand we try to love, with the left hand we assume that we can't. And so it's like walking on your right leg and your left leg, and so we get to the right. Trying the best we can, realizing at the same time our poverty is part of others' concerns, and trying again. We can't just stay on one leg or the other.


We have to move on both. And in the end we can't measure ourselves, and we can't justify ourselves. Where we end up, I suppose, is standing on our left foot. It's our left foot which means empty hand. I'm going to keep you. I'm going to keep you. I'm going to keep you. Boy, there are some states I wouldn't live in. I can't. I'm going to arrange a trip during January. Let's hope that the Lord isn't...