March 1975 talk, Serial No. 01130

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Retreat Conference by Abbot Edward McCorkle, OCSO, of Holy Cross Abbey in Berryville, Virginia. Prior Bruno Barnhart makes comments.

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His voice, as he points out to us, what it is we need to do in order to become more truly real sons, Father. We ask this through Christ's own Holy Spirit. Amen. Well, my dear brothers, I guess the details of the retreat have been worked out pretty well. I'll be available, I was just speaking to Father Bruner. He suggested that it would be an hour in the morning and a couple of hours in the afternoon, nine to ten. Nine to ten in the morning, say two to four in the afternoon. So we put a list up with blocks of one and a half hour of time. You don't have to sign your name, but just make an X in the block, indicating the time reserved for you. If anybody wants more time than that, we can take more than one.


My dear brothers, as I said this morning, each one of us is anointed by God through our baptism and our confirmation. We were made sons of the Father by the power of the Holy Spirit. And that is what we all are here, gathered together. Sons of the Father, brothers of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. And I believe that during these days of retreat, God stands at the door, as it were, of our heart, desiring to speak to each one of us very personally. And I think our disposition as we begin this retreat should be that which was counseled by the priest Eli to Samuel.


Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. But there's a particular kind of listening that is needed during the retreat. An interior listening. St. Benedict calls it, as you know, in the beginning of the rule as a listening with the ear of the heart to what the Holy Spirit is saying. And by that he means we need more than to try to digest what I might say or what you might read in Lectio. But you must really want and desire to hear your message, your word, that God wants to direct to you personally. God sees your heart and mine at this moment as we begin this retreat. And he desires very much to give us the grace of self-knowledge.


Mercifully he has hidden much from us because either we're not ready or we're not willing to hear the truth. But it seems to me if as children of the light, as St. Paul calls us this morning, we expose our hearts to his light. He gives us that self-knowledge so necessary for growth in relationship with him and with one another. You know, St. Bernard, those of you who are familiar with his treatise on the degrees of humility. Speaks of the three steps of truth. And these are a very important key, I think, to our whole interior life. As you know, the first step is self-knowledge. The second step is compassion.


And the third step is purity of heart, which is the disposition needed to see God, to experience God in contemplation. What often happens in our desire for God is that we want to take the third step first. We're anxious to experience God. And of course, many youth today are searching for this experience. But they often fail, unless they become under guidance, direction, to see the necessity of going through the other two steps. And in this retreat, I will certainly emphasize relationship. I think relationship is at the very heart of our Christian and our monastic life. Relationship with God, which we can only come to, purity of heart, and relationship with one another.


Which must be a relationship of compassion. But we don't come to compassion until we have experienced our own fragility, our own brokenness and weakness, and accepted it. It's one thing to see it, and it's another thing to accept it. Self-exposure of this kind is certainly very painful, as we all know. We've had a degree of it already. And those who are ancients here could tell you, I'm sure, the dark nights they have been through. Thomas Merton says, you know, that we are very deft, very good at covering over, layer after layer, of facade over the real self.


And so we are almost unrecognizable to ourselves. And the important thing is to, in the process of purification, to allow God to strip us layer by layer, in order that we may see the truth of ourselves. And really, the truth about ourselves is a very beautiful thing. And I think one of the things that is the problem in our society today is that many, many people do not love themselves. And yet we are asked to love one another as ourselves. And so self-knowledge, the truth about ourselves, not an unwholesome, unhealthy digging into the past, which is often very untruthful, but simply an openness, a transparency is the best word.


And that brings me to an example. I don't intend to sort of feed you a Cistercian spirituality exactly, but I can't help but, you know, having been fed on Cistercians very much, I'm very much rooted in that tradition. But I really think that some of the things I will pull out of the Cistercian fathers are really very much in keeping with your own spirit. I really didn't know too much about Camaldoli until I was asked to give this retreat, and I did a little homework, and really found it rather delightful. Like your own founder, St. Romuald, you know, was a kind of discovery for me. He was a very beautiful person. I'll say something about him when we get to Camaldoli's identity. But in regard to this matter of self, you know, of transparency, St. Albert is a very good example of this. You may be familiar with his pastoral prayer in the series. It was printed actually before we brought this out in the Cistercian publication.


Before I became abbot or even superior, I came across an edition from England, I think it was, of this pastoral prayer put out, I think, by the Anglicans in England. And I was really deeply moved by it. And then when I did become abbot, it meant even more to me, because it was written by Aylred. Really, it wasn't meant to be published. It was something he wrote out for himself when he became abbot. And it expresses how he felt in the presence of this great responsibility that was placed upon him when he was very much aware of his own fragility and weakness. That he, of all people, should be called by the Lord to lead a group of men, the Cistercian monks. But it was precisely because he was aware of his fragility that he was able to be an instrument.


I've just learnt quite a couple of passages from it to give you a taste of it. It's in this prayer for his own needs. He prays for the community and for the men committed to him. And then he prays for his own needs. He says, Lord, look at my soul's wounds. We've all wounded it, haven't we? Your living and effective eye sees everything. It pierces like a sword, even to part asunder soul and spirit. Assuredly, my Lord, you see in my soul the traces of my former sin. My present perils. And also motives and occasions for others yet to be. You know well, O Lord, O searcher of my heart, that there is nothing in my soul that I would hide from you. Even had I the power to escape your eyes. Woe to the souls that want to hide themselves from you. They cannot make themselves not to be seen by you.


But only miss your healing and incur your punishment. So see me, sweet Lord, see me. My hope most merciful is in your loving kindness. For you will see me either as a good physician sees intent upon my healing. Or else as a kind master anxious to correct. Or a forebearing father longing to forgive. And so it is that in order to come to self-knowledge, you see, you have to want it. Because it's not enough just to know intellectually that this is the truth. I mean, no one will deny it here in this group. But it's another thing to really want to go through the experience of being torn open. And yet that is what must happen. God of course in his gentleness and his mercy does it step by step.


But the thing is he is delayed in his operation in us by our own fear. And yet we do not need to fear, my brothers, because we have a gift of the Holy Spirit's fortitude to strengthen us in this process. And that brings me just to quote the last section of this prayer for himself, where the Holy Spirit comes in. The Holy Spirit is very important in this whole retreat. As I say, he is the retreat master. And I have quite a lot to say about him in practically every conference. There will be one whole conference on him. He says, Lord, may your good sweet spirit descend into my heart and passion there adrewing for himself. Cleansing it from all defilement, both of flesh and spirit. Imporing into it the increment of faith, hope, and love. The three powers given us by God, very often badly used or unused by so many in order to relate to God.


These are the powers we have to relate to God. As Father Rahner said, the entire Vatican Council, all the labour that went into it. He used to have a book in the church after the council. He said the entire council was well worth the labour if a little more faith and a little more hope and a little more charity was the result. It's these whereby we come to experience God. That's why I was very struck by the fact that he singled them out here. He says, dispose me to penitence and love and goodness. May he, the spirit, quench with the dew of his blessing the heat of my desires. There are wrong desires in our hearts. And let us not be surprised if at 60, 70, 80 even, we still have sometimes the surging of passion. It's not a bad thing in itself. It's a sign of life for one thing. I understand he's 86 today and he's still very much alive.


It's beautiful to have a man like that in the community. You have your own agents here, thanks be to God. Anyway, he goes on very frankly saying, with this power put to death my carnal impulses and fleshly lusts. In labours, watchings, fastings may he afford me fervour and discretion. Both fervour and discretion. Our fervour sometimes runs away with us and we get indiscreet and we ruin our health. That's not, Bernard did it himself. He kind of over did it. Horrible stunt as a result of imprudence. To reach that happy mean, you know, it takes time. But don't get discouraged. Sometimes you go overboard. It's better to go overboard than fervour, I think, in lukewarmness. And so may he give me power and devotion to order every act and thought according to your will. And also perseverance in these virtues unto my life. And so, my brothers, we want this retreat, each one of us, to be fruitful.


Certainly God wants it to be fruitful. And that's why he gives us his Holy Spirit. I'll say a lot about the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Galatians was kind of a central text in our retreat, where the fruits of the Holy Spirit are spoken of. For each one of us as individuals, and for you, remember, the community too, it's a community retreat. It has a special community dimension. You not only want to hear the word of God as individuals, but as a group. What is the Holy Spirit saying to this little church here? That's what must be your question. And I must ask too, as I'm making the retreat with you, what is he, through this retreat, through you, saying to me? So that I go back to Berryville enriched, I know of it, by you. Now in each one of us there are areas that are neglected, as I said this morning. The Holy Spirit doesn't have full control over our being. There are underdeveloped areas of our being. Even some of us who are a little older.


We're not completely mature yet. We're always disciples. Whether we're 49, as I am, or 86, as Brother Stan is. He's still very much a disciple. He's reading his Bible. He's great at lexio. He even writes poems for monastic exchange. He wrote two, I noticed in the latest edition. See, he's alive. But he's growing. You only become old when you stop growing. If you're constantly growing, even though you get old physically, you're always young spiritually. That's one of the beautiful things about monastic life. You see this youthful spirit, even though it may be an old body, you know, bent over in age. But, I think, regardless of these areas, you know, that are... It really causes, I guess, you too, like myself, anguish at times, you know. That we're not totally spirit filled. That our whole being is not under the control. So that was one good thing about Don Columban, my dear novice master, who was the abbot of Guadalupe.


I know him very intimately. And became really close friends towards the end. And his great passion, you might say, was this youthfulness. You know, that he wanted every desire of his heart and every decision he made to be the result of the inspiration of the spirit. He wanted to be really a spirit-led man. And that is really what, it seems to me, the monk should have, that attitude. But I think the word metanoia, you know, conversion, change of heart, can be applied to each one of us. It's expressing very well what needs to happen. A holy monk can become holier. A tepid monk can become fervent. There are times, you know, when you go through a slump. It isn't necessarily that you're really tepid. You feel you're, you know, you're tepid. But you're perhaps going through a psychological difficulty at the time. Don't get discouraged because you do go through periods of that.


The important thing is that you are aware of the fact and know, discern whether it is, you know, just a cloud you're going through or a real tepidity. Because that's the greatest evil, it seems to me, the greatest enemy of monastic life, is tepidity. That's why we should take part in the words of Laodicea. You know, the words of the spirits of the church of Laodicea in the Apocalypse. Would that you were hot or cold. But because you're a little warm I'll vomit you out of my mouth. It's one of the most powerful words in the scriptures. And so, I've always myself had a dread of tepidity. And it's a danger in the monastic life, whether it's phenobitical or hermetical, whatever. Any form of the monastic life is a danger always of getting into a rut. And so, I have this little story of Laodicea, perhaps familiar with it, but it's always good to tell it again. Abbot Lot, that is. You know, one of the pegmata. I always have that as a marker in my Bible. To remind me. It's a great story and you perhaps have all read it, but I'll say it again.


Please, Ken. It says, Merton gives it in one of his, it's number 72, I think, in his collection. You know, the Wisdom of the Desert. His essay, by the way, before that is very good. Before the pegmata, it's called the Lessay. It was in the desert that Abbot Lot, the story says, came to Abbot Joseph. And said, Father, according as I am able, I keep my little rule, my little fast, and my prayer, meditation. And contemplative silence. Trying to be a good monk. And according as I am able, I strive to cleanse my heart of all evil thoughts. Now, what more should I do? The young man asking, Lord, you know, I keep the commandments. What more should I do? Now, as a monk, I keep the rules. What more should I do? The very little old man, he stood up in reply and stretched out his hands to heaven. And his fingers became like ten lamps of fire. And he simply said, why not be totally changed into fire?


That says it, you know, really. That's what God wants to do with us. Fire, of course, is in a very special way the symbol of love. It was with fire that the Holy Spirit filled the apostles. Tongues of fire was a symbol of what was done in the hearts of the apostles. The great conversion that took place. Like Peter, you know. And, well, all of them. Peter is especially interesting in that case. His growth through the gospel. And then when Pentecost came, a changed man. Fearful and scared of the passion. And even after the resurrection, locking themselves up. But then, all the different men. All of them, quite different men. Because they were totally changed into fire. It was a total conversion. It wasn't that they weren't converted before. They were disciples of Christ. But then to initiate wasn't totally effective. Even though they had a novice master. Christ himself, so don't get discouraged while I am. In your struggle to be a good novice. But you have the Spirit.


You all have the Spirit. He ultimately is the one. And so, that's what we must do. We must be like these men. And, you know, in the Acts, when you read about it. The Acts are the first page of the history of the Church. St. Peter, you know, giving his sermon. Was telling the Jews there, frankly, you know, what happened to Jesus. They had pretty well murdered him. But then he says, God raised this man, Jesus, to life. And all of us are witnesses to that. Now raised to the heights by God's right hand. He has received from the Father. He has received from the Father. The Holy Spirit. Who was promised. And what you see and hear is the outpouring of that Spirit. This is what you see and hear. In other words, in Paul, in Peter, and later in Paul. And then, you know, the reaction to that, remember. Hearing this, the people, it says, were cut to the heart.


And they said to Peter, what must we do, brothers? And that's really what we all have to be saying at the beginning. What must I do? And it's, the answer is very simple. You must repent, is the word here in the Jerusalem Bible. Of course, that's metanoia. You must have a change of heart. And every one of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. For the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This is the fruit of baptism. The great fruit of the Paschal Mystery, which we are about to celebrate. That's why the retreat is very well timed. At the end of the retreat, you go right into Passion Time. To celebrate the Paschal Mystery. And, you know, in the Midnight Vigil. When the whole vigil is over, and the first Easter Mass has been said. You know, the post-communion prayer, at the very end. Sums up the whole Paschal Mystery. The praise that we may receive the outpouring of the Spirit. And become concordes, was the old Latin word, you know.


One heart. And it's my conviction, that the great fruit, the fruit of the Paschal Mystery. Of the death and the resurrection of Jesus. Is the outpouring of the Spirit. So, the presence then, and the action of the Holy Spirit. In this retreat. Very important. Here's the Mass. Remember, the Lord said, ask and you shall receive. And what father will give a stone to a son who asks for bread. And he said, you, if you know how to take care of your children. How much more will God the Father. Saint Luke says, give the Holy Spirit to you. But a very important thing, brethren, I'd like to emphasize this. Is our presence, and our activity. The Holy Spirit is present. And He is active, He is safe. There's no doubt about that. But it's His presence, and His action, can only be fruitful, if we are present and active.


And that means being, having presence of mind and heart, especially. If it's merely a routine, this retreat, as a retreat can be. It would be tragic, really. Because, it's a golden opportunity, to have an experience of God's other mercy. We can, if we want, emerge from this retreat, changed men. But we must, all together, desire, long for, you know, beg for the light. To see precisely what I, must do to be effectively changed. In community life, you know, the tendency is, well, if only you would shape up. Then my problems would be over. Doesn't tip at all. So, pray for one another. But don't point the finger, no. Point the finger right here, you know. What do I need to do, to be effectively changed? You know, this presupposes a willingness to act upon the light received. If you are now, and you should, or you have already, asking for the light of the Holy Spirit.


Be pretty sure, that you also have the disposition of readiness, to do what you are told to do. Because, what's going to happen really, I believe, this is a conviction of mine. What happens is that, if you aren't disposed to change, you won't get the light. And that, God does that in his mercy. See, if he did enlighten you, and then you refused, that wouldn't be a very good thing. So, he withholds his light, until you are ready, you see, to do it. But what you have to do, is really want it. And you get it, you get the light. The degree of light that you are ready for. And so, you know, let's be nitty gritty, as they say, about the thing, practical. What is it that we perhaps need to do? Perhaps we need to renounce something. Renounce a little project, or a little attachment we have to some little thing.


Even this little card, you know, my little Abbott lot, you know, in Dover, for instance. You know, it's amazing, it's little things very often, that hold us back, you know. In the big things, you usually find that monks are ready, you know, when they are faced up with a crisis, for instance. But it's the day-to-day little petty things, you know, that get in the way. And those are the things we've got to watch for. You know, it would be really tragic if we let little things get in the way. And they do that. So it may be giving up something. It may be breaking a habit, you know, which is sometimes difficult. A bad habit we have sometimes. It may be to improve a relationship. This is very important. A relationship with one of our brothers, that perhaps isn't what it should be. We may have a, you know, a sort of a prejudice against someone. And some little hang-up, we might say, you know. And that could be cleared up, perhaps, very simply. By having the courage, perhaps, to go to the brother, you know.


A few words with him, you know. I had a, you know, perhaps a wrong attitude towards you. And I really want to have the attitude of compassion, patience, and understanding, and so forth. It's little things like this, perhaps, that we need to work on. But I think W.H. Gordon, the poet who died last year, has four little lines which express very well the tendency in all of us, the fear we have of doing those things, being changed. He says, We would rather be ruined than changed. We would rather die in our dread than climb the cross of the moment and see our illusions die. You know, we have illusions about ourselves that we've got to acknowledge. And it's pretty hard to see them die. To have to acknowledge that perhaps for 49 years I've been off, you know, on this particular thing, that I need to change. Or 30 years as a monk, you know, I need to


take a different attitude towards this particular value of monastic life. So, the word of the Lord may come to you, my brothers, at a liturgy. Very often, you know, the liturgy is a very good place for hearing the word. It may come to you just in the hermitage during your personal lexior prayer. It may come in something I happen to say, something that I didn't prepare in my own mind, or perhaps the Holy Spirit popped out. I've found that very often. Someone will say, you know, something you said. Did I say that? And that is good for the retreat master, because then he is made aware of the fact that the Holy Spirit is the one who is running the retreat, you know, not the retreat master. And so, see this word that comes to you as fire, you see, the couple of blocks there. Fire, enlightening, purifying, consuming, liquefying, you know,


it's hard sometimes. We need to be liquefying, but we can be now, you know, flexible. The fire of the Holy Spirit is really what effects this, you know, such as we see in the Desert Fathers, like Abelard, and Cassian speaks of the fiery prayer, you know, is characterized of the desert. And in conclusion, let's turn to a man whom you're also, I'm sure, familiar with, William of St. Thierry, who wrote of Carthusians, this beautiful golden epistle, which should mean a lot to you as an elder. He starts that off, you know, by saying, as the brethren of Montieu introduced to our western darkness and French cold, the light of the East and that ancient prayer of Egypt for religious observance, the pattern of solitary life and the model of heavenly conduct, run to meet them, O my soul, and run with them in the joy of the Holy Spirit, and with a smiling heart, welcome them devoutly. In other words, there was a fire kindled in the heart of a man called Anthony.


Anthony is called the star of the desert in the Egyptian monarchology. Stella deserti, the father of all monks. He kindled a fire, and in his disciples, he spread that fire. And of course, he is the father of all monks. One of his disciples, of course, was Benedict. Not immediately, of course, but Benedict, as we know, was nourished by passion, who went through Egypt, as you know, to the great fathers of that time, who were disciples. Some of them are direct disciples. So a fire, you see, was kindled and handed down from man to man. A living tradition. Not a book. The rule of Saint Benedict is a lived experience before it was written, as you know. It was lived in the heart of Benedict before it was put on paper. And this is the thing, you know, that you have, and we'll say more about it when we get to the canal of his identity. You know, you have a man, your father, Saint Romuald, who was on fire with the Spirit, and he passed that down the line, and you have received that.


And you want to, you know, be kindled by that same fire. Benedict, I think the heart of the rule, just to say a word about that, you know, is in chapter 7, and in the prologue. You know, the prologue is a beautiful piece of work, as you know. It really sums up the whole of the rule. At the end of the prologue, Saint Benedict says, this is a very important text. He sums up the whole Paschal mystery. He says that we share by patience, in passion, the death of Jesus, in order to share in his resurrection. And I won't develop that point right now. But, it is mainly to be brought into the experience of the Paschal mystery. The fruit of which is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that we are brought into. And the only way is chapter 7, of course. You know, the steps of humility, to come to that perfect love, which the Spirit pours into us, and cast out fear. And so, I think, my brothers, the heart of the Christian life,


about which I'll say something tomorrow, you may wonder why I didn't want to give a talk on our human identity. It might well have been good to have given that talk, but we have to limit ourselves. Because, very often, it's that human basis, sometimes, that, you know, a monk thinks that the problem is a mystical problem, you know, a mystical prayer, or some spiritual problem, maybe a very human problem. But we have to be aware of that, too. We have our psychological, human problems, that sometimes are obstacles to the freedom of the Spirit in us. But, I'm presupposing that, you know, that we are human. That we have a human identity. But, I'll just mention this now. There often is, sometimes, a problem with that. Because, you do find it sometimes, that we hang out, and so forth. That shouldn't be a monk, should be the most human person. David Knowles, who died just recently, a great historian, David Knowles, one of the greatest monastic historians, says that the quintessence of the humanism of the twelfth century,


of course, which was known as the twelfth, was found in Rebo, Saint Aylward's community. Aylward himself, of course, was a very human person. Very much loved by his community. And, the reason for it was, that he was a totally integrated person. And, it was due to the complete openness, such as we read in that prayer I quote, to the Spirit. That the Spirit was able to really permeate his whole being with love. And so, that he was a humanly attractive person, and divinely, of course. And, that's another element that is very important in monastic life, which I won't develop at great length right now, but I have to conclude, because it's really quite late. My last word will be on Mary. You know, speaking of relationships, Mary, of course, had a very intimate relationship with God.


Well, first of all, that's from the beginning. In the moment of the Incarnation, that supreme moment when we know the Holy Spirit came upon her in power, and formed Jesus in her. And, of course, what we're speaking about is the mystery of the sharing of the Incarnation, and the total mystery of Christ. What did she do, after she had this beautiful experience in her hermitage at Nazareth, and she was alone there, she could have, hearing of the difficulty of Elizabeth, who, as you know, received this beautiful grace of receiving a child in her old age, it was a long trip in those days, I guess, difficult to make them turn, she went to her cousin. And that's a beautiful encounter that I'd like to end this conference with. The visitation is a beautiful example for us of relationship.


You have already Mary in beautiful relationship with Jesus, whom she carries in her womb. And she comes into the presence of this aged woman, Elizabeth, who herself was bearing a little one in her womb. And the Magnificat, of course, is the most beautiful expression of truth. You know, she was saying, really, I'm great, and here, truth in me, but of charity too. And the fact that I'd like to want to happen, you know, to us these days, that Mary would visit us, and bring with her Jesus into our midst, so that we may, ourselves, have the joy of relationship with God, and learn from her to have the joy of relationship with one another. So, let us pray then, in conclusion, my dear brothers.


To our Heavenly Father, O Father, we thank you for calling us to be your sons, and such we are, Father. But, as you look upon us, you recognize in us areas that are perhaps displeasing to you, not yet fully responsive to your Spirit, and we want very much rather that these be changed. Enlighten us during these days, and guide us by your Holy Spirit, in honesty and openness and transparency, to see the truth of ourselves, that we may really change and become your sons, through Christ our Lord. Amen. He should come to sin, to come into our flesh, and reveal God to us in our flesh. And so, we've just really got started,


so you won't lose too much in the tutorial. We're sort of getting started. Are you alright? Are you comfortable? Yes. We're really concerned now, in this conference, with our own Christian identity. The Church, as I see it, and understand it in the ecclesiology of the Vatican Council, and in many respects it's a recovery of, I think, and a return to the ecclesiology of the 12th century, in a man like Saint Bernard. Yves Congar wrote a beautiful article on the ecclesiology of Saint Bernard, on the occasion of his centenary in 1953, which some of you might have seen, in the very early edition, perhaps the first one of monastic studies, which came out of Berryville. It's now just an annual that comes out of Elmira.


It's when Don Hugh left Berryville, it was transferred to Elmira, he went there. But that's a very good article, and you can see that really the ecclesiology that, I think this is one of the great truths of the Vatican Council, is an understanding of the Church. There's a richer ecclesiology now, I think, than we had before, and it has to develop, of course. But I think it's essentially found in Saint Bernard, and to a degree even, very richly in Origen, who is, as you know, a very good source for Saint Bernard and the Cistercians. They liked Origen very much. But, as I see the Church in this new approach, it's a creation of the Spirit. We do know, and we're very familiar with, what Pope Pius XII spoke of, as the body of Christ, the mystical body of Christ, the head of Christ, and the members. That's very familiar to us, and that's one image of the Church.


But I think we need to see this other image, which I'd like to develop somewhat now, in trying to identify, in a sense, perhaps I'm taking too much upon myself, as a presumption to speak of Christian identity. It's such a rich mystery, I can only give really one aspect of it, but that which I think, in our time, now, in 1975, in the post-Vatican era, is of importance, I think. What I think the Holy Spirit is pointing to, in a particular way, as the mystery of the Church, as the creation of the Spirit. The great fruit of the Paschal mystery, as I said yesterday, of the death and the resurrection of Christ, is the outpouring of the Spirit, is the creation of the Church. And the Father of the Church, you know, saw in the death of Christ, in various ways, and there is symbolism, for instance, you see in the water and the blood coming from the side of Christ,


they see the Church coming from the side of Christ, from the heart of Christ, the pierced heart of Christ. He is the new Adam, hanging on the cross, in the sleep of death, from whom God draws forth the new Eve, the Church. Another beautiful image, which is a favorite of mine, is the way in which the Fathers interpret Saint John's description of the death of Christ. Saint John says, you know, that Christ sent forth, gave forth, breathed forth, as it were, His Spirit. In the original literal sense of that word, Saint John was simply saying, Christ died. His human soul left His body, and He was like any human being. He was inert. The body was dead. And Christ's soul went forth from the body. But the Fathers of the Church see also in this moment of death,


the very moment of death, when Christ's human soul went forth, His Divine Spirit, His Holy Spirit went forth into the newborn Church to become the life principle, the soul of the Church, which the Holy Spirit is. And so, really you might say, the Church was born on Calvary from the death of Christ and brought the new life of the Church. And so, of course it is chiefly in Pentecost, in the mystery of Pentecost that we see, it's usually spoken of Pentecost, you know, the birthday of the Church. That's when the Holy Spirit came forth in power and manifested this mystery that had already taken place in the death of Christ. And I think it's very important, my dear brothers, to see the Church as a dynamism. Too often we have seen the Church as a kind of a static reality.


And unfortunately, we, who are members of the Church, have often been the cause of this by our own lack of dynamism. Some, you know, say that you would think sometimes that the Church sort of came to a halt at the Council of Trent. And that beyond that there was really nothing new. Everything was settled and decided and even in our structures, you know, there was never a change. The mass was unchangeable. And so, you have understandably, of course, and we should have compassion on those who have difficulty in understanding the changes, for instance, of the liturgy. Because we were so used to the same way of saying the mass. First, in Latin, which had its own beauty, of course, and its universality. It had one dimension that was very good


because wherever you went in the world you could say mass in any part of the world in Latin. And then, of course, the various rules and regulations and so forth which we, especially in Amarillo, and to some degree probably in your order, that we had was kind of a uniform book of usages that were observed faithfully whether it was in Japan or Africa or in the United States. We lost, it seems to me, something of the what essentially is the freedom of the spirit. And, of course, the freedom of the spirit I'm going to speak about that this morning because that really gets to the heart of the Christian identity is something that we really have to understand because it has been, in our own time, after Vatican II, abused and misunderstood. And I think it's the reaction to that old spirit of rigidity, you know, that did set in


to a great extent. And so what we have to learn to do is how to handle this new freedom which is really not new. And so, as I see then, the Church is dynamic and the best way I can describe it is it's an ongoing creation. Creation is a constant thing and that's where this text this morning applies at this moment, today, in this retreat to all of you in this community and to myself. Now, today, at this moment when we're together here and then in the Eucharist this morning when we gather around the altar. Now, I create new heavens and a new earth and the past will not be remembered. That is, that part of the past, you know, which was not truly faithful to the spirit. And I will make a new creation. So, really, this new creation began in baptism. Baptism makes us Christians.


But, you know, my dear brothers, we have to be, in a sense, become what we are. Baptism plants in us this seed, this very fertile and dynamic seed which we, of course, creation gives us a very good symbol of the tree, for instance. That's why I love trees. The trees, these beautiful trees you have around you, you know, the redwoods and the madronas and the rest of them, you know. They all, when you look at them and their beauty and their majesty, all began, you know, with a little seed. And that seed had to die and there had to be a whole rhythm, you know, which that tree had to go through. That tree had to respect, you know, the laws of nature. It had to go through the whole process of dying and living, you know, dying and living. And as it grew, the roots got deeper into the soil and the tree grew bigger and stronger, put out branches


and breathed in this wonderful air here that you have. That's why trees don't grow so well, you know, in the smog of cities. They need that fresh air. And, of course, that is a symbol of the breath of the Spirit, you know, the Holy Spirit which we have to be constantly breathing into our souls. And the freer we are, you know, to breathe this Holy Spirit into us, the healthier we are, the deeper our roots are going, more of the sap of the life of the Spirit is in us, the more fruitful we are. A tree is really a very beautiful symbol of Christian life, you know, each person. And, of course, it presupposes so many things. It presupposes good soil, it presupposes the freedom of the Spirit, the breath, you know, the fresh air, the sunlight, you know, the rain, the gentle rain which you are getting right now in the season, feel, don't you? And so, as I say, baptism makes us Christians, but there's a constant, ongoing,


dynamic creation, you might say, in us, in each one of us, and in the Church. Because the Church is nothing but us, you know. The Church isn't an institution. The Church isn't a structure. And that's what often it has become, you know, the Church has become, very often, in the minds of people, the hierarchy, for instance. The hierarchy, this group of bishops. But the bishops are, themselves, as individuals. They are meant, they're supposed to be. St. Thomas Aquinas says that. You know, the bishop is supposed to be the, you know, the perfect one, the one who has reached a certain holiness which should characterize every Christian. And the bishop, each bishop, and they have learned that, hopefully, at the Council, through the experience of the Council, they knew it before, perhaps, but they certainly must have had a much greater consciousness when they were all gathered in Rome together, you know, of really what their role is, to be in the little church that they are


the guides of, or the leaders of, you know, the leaven of the Spirit. And this is so important. And we are told, John XXIII told us in a talk he gave to us as Christians, we are, as contemplative monks, at the very heart of the Church. And this is an awesome responsibility, and you should be aware of it. It doesn't make you better than the bishop, or the layman, or the priest, or the missionary, no. But it does give you a very special mission in the Church. Now, we have to become what we are. We are, all of us gathered here this morning, hopefully, Christians. But we aren't, just as I said yesterday, we're not totally under the guidance and control of the Spirit. We're not totally Christians. There definitely are, in each one of us, certain un-Christian elements


that reveal themselves in our daily lives. For instance, when we react to something in a really un-Christian way. And you know, I often say that reactions, I tell my community, are simply indicators of attitudes. In other words, when you notice yourself react in a certain way, try to discern what is causing the reaction. Don't just stop at the reaction. Why did I react that way? For instance, I blow up, you know, let's say, I get very angry at the brother. What we normally do, if he'd only act properly, you know, and if he'd only behave properly, then I wouldn't get that angry. No, you know. What that particular, let's say, a brother does act improperly, what does it stir up in us, you know? It's not his misconduct that's creating my anger, causing my anger. It's something else in me.


There's a lack, perhaps, of compassion. A lack, simply, of basic Christian patience, you know, which is one of the fruits of the spirit. And so it's very important, by the way, when you examine yourself, and you catch yourself doing things that are un-Christian, you know, that it's really basically an attitude that is at fault. And it's the attitude we have to establish and build up, and it takes time, it takes great patience to build up attitudes of compassion, attitudes of patience. And so what we have to do, we have to, in a sense, undo a lot. Much has to be undone in us, these un-Christian areas of us, when we have habitually, for instance, gotten into a habit of, or attitude of, impatience, or whatever it may be. And it's in that context, you know, that Nietzsche is often quoted as saying that they Christians, he said,


would have to sing better songs to make me believe in their redeemers. His disciples, Christ's disciples, he said, would have to look more redeemed to me. And you know, Gandhi said that. Gandhi was very Christian, you know, in so many ways. And so he was asked in India why he didn't become a Christian. He had great reverence for Christ. You know, the Sermon on the Mount was more or less Gandhi's monarchy, you know. And he said, well, you know, what I see of Christians over here from the West coming over doesn't impress me very much. And I'm sure what he meant was that there was certain counter-witness, you know, certain amount of non-Christian conduct that he would pick up in some of these missions that came over to India to make people's Christians, sometimes in a very militant way, you know, to sort of conquer them for Christ. With good will, really, it's true.


But often without that, you know, that freedom of spirit, knowing, first of all, that I'm not the one who's converting these men to Christ. It's the Holy Spirit who must remind them that all I must do is be the instrument of the Spirit in their presence. But a certain preoccupation, we've got to save souls, you know. And sometimes by number. If you have a thousand Christians baptized here, you're doing much better than the mission over there that has only one 100, you know. And measuring the activity of the Holy Spirit by numbers, you know. You can do that in the church. They still publish every year the number of Catholics that have, you know, increased in the Catholic directory. Every year the Catholic newspapers carry that. This year we've had, you know, again, so many Catholics in the church. And that's a very good sign that we've got that. Or it's a very bad sign that we've lost some, you know. You cannot measure the activity of the Holy Spirit by numbers, you see. This is just, as I say, one way in which there was a certain


unchristian, you know, approach to the Christian mission. Now, I bring all this up before considering our specific location, you know, in your case, as Canal Valley, which I'll do tomorrow. But what I want to do is to try to let us discern, you know, what our Christian vocation is. And essentially I think it is, now, in the light of, as I say, what I think the Holy Spirit is showing us today. Because, again, you could say, you could put it a different way. You could say, well, I would say that the Christian call, the Christian vocation, is to holiness. And it is. But the way I'm going to present it is that I think the Christian call essentially is to freedom. Because you cannot become holy, and the one who makes you holy is the Holy Spirit, unless you have freedom.


You know, the freedom of the Son of God, the freedom of the Holy Spirit. Now, freedom, how do you define it? There's an authentic freedom and an inauthentic freedom. And I'm afraid we have seen, in our own time, a great deal of false freedom around us. All of us who've lived in the 20th century and in more recent years have seen this false freedom. To be able to do what we want is simply the appearance of freedom. It's not true freedom. And, of course, that's the great call today, you know, to liberty, and our nation, especially the United States, you know, is the home of freedom. And we can do what we like. And, of course, we've seen the fruits of that, false freedom. The unhappiness and the sadness, broken homes, more and more divorced, even now to the point of abortion being an accepted thing by so many. This is the fruit of false freedom


and people now beginning to fear it. But I would say the true freedom is simply to will what God does. In other words, it's the recognition of what God is doing in our midst and willing it ourselves. And this is where John XXIII had great insight. He told Father Lombardi, I mentioned this to Father Bruno yesterday, Father Lombardi was a great friend of John XXIII, before he became Pope, and one day, just shortly after he became Pope, we went in to have a little talk with him, and he said to Father Lombardi, you know, Father, I'm sitting here in the chair of Peter, as Pope now, and I'm here not to run the Church, but to try to discern what the Holy Spirit is doing and playing in the Church by listening to him, the Spirit,


within the people of God. He knew he had to become a good listener in order to discern what the Spirit was doing, what the Spirit was saying. And that was one of the great characteristics of Pope John. Of course, he had learned through many, many years, he came to that, of course, of the mature, beautiful, ripe, mellow fruit of many, many years of fidelity. You read the journals of the soul, and his life was, in many respects, a very ordinary life. If you look at that day-to-day fidelity as a young layman, as a priest, as a bishop, as a legate of the Holy See, whatever particular mission he was in, his fidelity to the Spirit. And so when the time came, he was the ripe fruit that God used in his old age to demonstrate to us what the Holy Spirit can do in a man to make him truly free. And so, to just contrast now in St. Paul,


you've already heard the chapter 5 of Galatians, let's go just for a moment, I'll come back to chapter 5 of Galatians before we close this morning again, to chapter 7 of Romans. The latter part, the last part of chapter 7 of the Romans, St. Paul to the Romans, before he launches into the beautiful chapter 8, which, I think, chapter 8 of the Romans is about the most precious page in the whole New Testament, along with certain pages of St. John, like chapters 14-17 of St. John, which Origen calls the first fruits of the gospel. He likes to call St. John the first fruits of the four gospels, and then these particular chapters of St. John. But then there's another chapter, I think, which we can really single out, and that is chapter 8 of the Romans, and if I don't stop now, I'll go off on that, and I'll come back to it later, you know, the Holy Spirit in chapter 8 of Romans. But what we're talking about now is the problem,


the mystery of freedom. And this last part of chapter 7 of the Romans is something that you really need discernment to interpret properly, because this too has been, and I want to bring in here, the help that psychology, the insight that psychology today gives on this matter. Because we're dealing now with the mystery of freedom, and it's very much bound up with psychological difficulties and problems we have. And I would like to recommend to you a book that you might have. Its subtitle is A New Approach to Psychiatry. I was never satisfied with any book I read on psychiatry. It just didn't seem to me somehow to ring true, and to be able to integrate it with spirituality. Especially the Freudian approach. Freud, no doubt, had a great deal of insight into human nature.


Jung too, of course, and I think in some respects more. But the psychiatrist called Glasser, who has written a book called Reality Therapy, some of you may have read it. And when I read that book, I was really delighted because I could not myself, not being a psychiatrist, articulate what I would like to say in this area, when I give spiritual direction for instance. But I found that he articulated for me very well what I instinctively knew was true about the whole idea of responsible freedom. Because there's a great deal of irresponsible freedom which has been encouraged and nourished by false psychology, I think. But I say this all by way of preface to St. Paul because, as you see as we go along, you can misinterpret him. He says the law, as we all know, is spiritual. The law is spiritual. The law of Christ is spiritual. We've made the law something


unfree, slavish, because we've misunderstood it. The law is meant to free us, not meant to enslave us. But anyway, he says I, though, you see, am unspiritual. And that's why I'm enslaved by the law. I have been sold, he says, of a slave to sin. He says I cannot understand my own behavior. And I guess we all get to that point in time. You know, why do I act this way? I fail to carry out the things I want to do. I want to be a saint. I want to be holy. I want to do the right thing. And I find myself, you know, goofing off. Being unquestioned, you know, in certain situations. I find myself doing the very things I hate. Now, when I act against my own will, that is my better will, that means I have a self that acknowledges that the law is good. And so the thing behaving in that way is not myself, but sin living in me.


The fact is, I know of nothing good living in me. Living, that is, in my unspiritual self. For though the will to do what is good is in me, good will we call it, the performance is not. With the result that instead of doing the good things I want to do, I carry out the sinful things I do not want. When I act against my will, then it is not my true self doing it, but sin which lives in me. Now, that has been used as an excuse, you know, for sin. People will say, I can't help it. That's, you know, my bad self. And there's nothing I can do about it. Well, that's what you would call defeatism to begin with, and a false freedom. The thing is, as Glasser says, if you have a person, let's say,


who has got into the site in a bad way, I mean, really in a bad way, would have a deeply rooted habit, you know, which has got hold of him, whatever area it is, in one or other of the two areas, you know, there are only really two roots of evil, from which every difficulty we have brews, and that's pride and lust. The two roots from which every, you know, unspiritual manifestation of ourselves comes forth, comes forth from pride or from lust, in one form or the other. And those roots are in each one of us. We are all here present, fallen men, and we still have those roots, you know, and even after 30, 40 years of monasticism, at times, you know, you think, now you have conquered, you know, you have overcome these tendencies, and then, all of a sudden, out comes a shoot, you know, of anger, for instance, or even a lustful thought or desire, you know, and I thought, my God, you know, I thought I was beyond that, you know, at this point.


But that is, you see, the fallen self, that's there. But the thing now we're talking about is this, a deeply rooted habit, and it's not this once in a while kind of thing that surprises us, but, you know, the thing that constantly gnaws at us, you know, why are we constantly failing in this regard? Well, what Freudian fact-turners will tell you, you know, in psychiatry, somebody will go to a psychiatrist, for instance, with this problem, and they'll tell you, well, you know, brother, you really can't help that, there's nothing you can do about it, so you're not really responsible. So then they will give you some kind of therapy, sometimes it's chemotherapy, and then it can help, and psychotherapy, and those things do help. But to tell a man, no matter how bad he may be, how deeply rooted sin may be in him, that he's not responsible, is false. And this is what plasticity is. When you get a person like this,


for ourselves, and we face the reality of the situation, and that's what he means, reality, you look at the reality of your statement, this is me, see, here I am. I am a sinner, I've got this tendency, now I've got to do something about it. So, I am responsible now, as of this moment. Now let's say today, we come to see that there is an area, where there's a reality of sin in us, some manifestation of sin. It may not be necessarily what we call mortal sin, but a sinful tendency that we have in us. And we face the reality of our responsibility. And what is responsibility? For him, he says, responsibility is the ability to respond to reality, responsibility. We do have the ability now, although we may be unfree to a great extent, to respond to the reality of the possibility of change,


of being freed. And he, just simply on the natural level, as a Jewish psychiatrist, starts the therapy, the reality therapy, which is really the only effective one, by making the person admit and acknowledge his responsibility. Today. Today, I can do a little better. I can begin to respond to reality, to the true reality of what I am. And not that unreal self that I have made myself. In other words, I am unfree in many results, but I can begin to be free. But this is simply a sort of a natural psychological basis, you know, a human basis. So you would see we are speaking of human identity too here, it's inevitable. But it is the base, you know, upon which Christian identity builds. I just mention that because, that's a very important chapter of Romans. And I'll just conclude it now. You see, it goes on. You see, if we've understood the human basis, then we can move on then to the deeper mystery of human freedom,


which the Holy Spirit builds on. He says, in fact, this seems to be the rule, that every single time I want to do good, there's something evil that comes to hand. In my inmost self, I dearly love God the Lord. But I can see that my body follows a different law, but battles against the law which my reason dictates. This is what makes me a prisoner of that law of sin, which lives inside my body. What a wretched man I am. And we all have occasion to say that, from time to time, I'm sure. But then, you see, comes the answer. The question first, who will rescue me from this body doomed to death? Thanks be to God, he says, through Jesus Christ our Lord. See? So, you see, sinful man, as we are, we tend to think we can find freedom by self-confidently controlling ourselves and our own life. And then we become discouraged and frustrated because it just doesn't work. With all the good will in the world, you know,


we try on our own steam, you might say, to overcome a habit, and then we fail. Now, first of all, we have to discern and recognize what it is that fails us, you know, what dimension, what particular element of pride or lust that it is that is still working in us. And then, recognizing it to allow the spirit to free us from this unfreedom. And so, it's not by controlling ourselves and our own life, really, but we really only win freedom by abdicating the control to another, to the Holy Spirit. But, we need, we all need, under the guidance of the Spirit, human direction, too. We need a spiritual director, we need a confessor. And we're never dispensed with that. As we grow older, hopefully, and become more mature spiritually, we don't need to seek counsel very frequently, perhaps.


But there are moments, perhaps a crisis of darkness, when things aren't too clear, perhaps, that we have to, even when we're older, have to go to someone else, another man, who will be an instrument of the Spirit. It can be the superior, it can be a confessor, or just a spiritual director. But that's where you see, when we get into that tomorrow, one of the great characteristics of your order. Why was there such stress on obedience? We'll develop that a little tomorrow, and part of your committal is identity. It's above all to make you more obedient, to learn how to be more obedient in front of the Holy Spirit. Inner, interior obedience. That has been misunderstood, misinterpreted, and wrongly used, sometimes, both in our order, and in your order. But there's a mystery of obedience, that's a very rich, beautiful thing, that's tied in with this whole idea of becoming free. You become free


by, in a sense, not being free, you allow the Holy Spirit to take you, and you surrender to the Spirit. But the Spirit guides us through the Church, through the Bishop, for instance, through your Prior, who represents Christ in your community, through your Director, through your Mother, for instance, or whoever it may be. And it's been through one another. The mutual obedience of the rule, that's something of a mystery, too, for some people. But that, too, the Holy Spirit sometimes speaks to us through a simple brother. Now, your brother may say to your brother, and sometimes it takes courage to do it in fraternal correction, but that's the way St. Benedict said it, I mean, the Gospel did it. And in our order, we went the opposite way. The Gospel says that you correct another simply by going to him, pointing it out to him. If you have difficulty in communicating the message, you get another one to be a facilitator, to help communicate it. And then only, if it's very important, of course,


you go to the community. But what we did, we had this community chapter of Paul in which the whole community got together, and then a brother was proclaimed for a fault, and there was no real dialogue, he just had to bow his head, and said that he'd best try and give a word of advice. It doesn't work. You know, it doesn't work. It's one of the difficulties that we have in our order right now, finding an effective community correction, but really the Gospel correction. I use this as an example of even obedience to one another, in a sense that the Holy Spirit will give you a message from another brother, and you take it not simply from him, but the Spirit perhaps is speaking to me through that brother. And to always be ready, you know, to get the voice of the Spirit in so many unexpected ways, you know, from a most unlikely brother. A brother perhaps who has had no very little education, hasn't been to college or university, and has a Ph.D. and a Ph.D. and all that sort of thing, you know, but may have real wisdom. And I found that in our chapter, now that our brothers have the,


have the vote, not just the vote, but I mean have a voice in chapter, sometimes that will be brothers having real wisdom, you know, that is from the Spirit. So, to get back then, concluding this morning to chapter 5 of Galatians, which you've already heard, and can comment on it a little, with what we're speaking now of the call to freedom, as I see the call to be a Christian as the call to true freedom. Saint Paul says there that when Christ freed us, you know, he meant us to remain free. So stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery. And so, as he says, what we tend to do is to gradually fall back, you see, into the slavery of the law. He gives the example of circumcision, which for the Jews, of course, was absolutely necessary, and there was a whole problem in the early church, as you know. They wanted everyone


to continue, the Jewish Christians that is, to still be circumcised, in other words, to be still submitted to the law. I'd like to use as an example, since that doesn't hold anymore now, the Sabbath, you see, is a good example. Our Lord himself, he knows this. The Sabbath is for man. The law of the Sabbath. What is the law of the Sabbath? This should mean a lot to contemplatives. The law of the Sabbath is revealed in the creation story. We read that God, in his dynamic energy, which is a constant thing, God, as I said earlier, is creating always, really, but we see it especially in the original creation. But what happens, you know, we see this creation and it's all over with. God has created the world, but just to get back into the original creation and to understand that that's ongoing, of course, we see God in his dynamic energy


creating. This is part of God, his creative activity. And that goes on, we read, for six days. All this beautiful creation unfolds. Light and darkness. The waters and the trees that they nourish. And then man created the beauty, the pinnacle of creation in God's own image. Then what? Then God, we read, And he saw that everything he created was good. In other words, it's a human way of expressing God's life. God is constant activity and God is constant rest. And so what the Sabbath is established for is to bring us into the rhythm of God's life. And so we are also, with God, creators of this world. God has placed creation


under the dominion of man. And so we do have to create. And it's alright for man to be active. He should be about his business creating constantly. And so we have the work days, we call them. You know, the days when we do go to work. And you do something with this beautiful creation you have around you here. You try to keep it well. It's really, it's given to you, you are guardians in a sense, of this piece of property, for instance, that's given to you. And you should appreciate it. And treat it well and take care of it. And you do try to do that. You build your hermitages in order to be able to live your life. You keep those hermitages and you have to constantly maintain them. You have maintenance work and so forth. And sometimes, you know, the humdrum and the drudgery of daily work does make us tend to forget, you know, that all of this is all part of an ongoing creation. So this is one dimension of God which we share of activity. But then there's the other dimension,


you see, which is rest. The day of rest is simply given us. And of course, this now should enter into every day. Every day has its period of rest. Lectio and prayer, you know. And work, the activity. But it's a rhythm in God, you see, which we have to learn. Now, you see, what happened was that it became a very legalistic thing, you know. Sunday, you absolutely must not work. And of course, the Jews got to this point, you know, they still do, you know, the Jews, the strict Jews, you know, they still on a Sunday want to turn on a switch, you know, and things like that. And they have to make sure that everything, Rabbi Littman was telling us the other day, because we were talking very well, that they still do that, you know, in the Holy Land. They make sure, you know, before the Sabbath gets started on Friday evening, that, you know, the light is on and so forth. Because if they turn the light on, they break the law. So you see,


they became slaves, unfree. They interpreted this thing so literally. They made the law a means of unfreedom. And that's what we've done, too, as Christians. You know, we've got to the point where, you know, this is just an example, the Sabbath, but so many other things, you know, that the literally much less important things, you know, our little monastic rules sometimes became so sacrosanct, you know, that people got all upset because some of the rules was not kept in. And, you know, a person would lose his temper and become uncharitable with another brother because of some little thing, you know. It's really ridiculous. You know, people come to confession sometimes and they tell you, you know, that they don't know, they're not too sure. There's an especially kind of act of religious whether it's five dollars, which is the amount that, you know, you can have but not pay against without poverty, and so forth and so on, you know, all these minutiae about poverty and then charity, of course, is just, you know, in passing I happen to be uncharitable.


And, you know, it's a whole inversion of values. The priority is charity. It must be, you know. And so, that's, you know, it's the same spirit it is that enables us to enter into the rhythm, you know, of God, and that's why I use that example. Paul then goes on to say that, my brothers, you were called, as you know, to liberty, but be careful or this liberty will provide an opening for self-indulgence. Again, false liberty leads to self-indulgence and there's no need to develop that. You know it in our own time how much of it. Serve, he says, one another. Now he's coming to the heart of liberty. Serve one another in works of love since the whole of the law is summarized in a single command. Love your neighbor as yourself. Now we're getting close to the heart of Christianity. The criterion by which you can discern whether you are a true Christian in any given circumstance.


In other words, especially this is very good, you know, for community life. You are called to the iron of your life. It's true. But you also have, fortunately, as we do, that community dimension. In other words, even the person who is called by God to be a recluse, to be a total homo, is serving the community in a way perhaps that no other is. And that we have to see too, you know, that it's the response that faithfully to the call of the Spirit that is the real service to the community. Now that doesn't mean to say, no, you should all follow prior, you know, after the conference. If you all be recluses, you really will be serving the community. That is not true, there's no doubt. Because actually, the call to total recluse is not too common, I wouldn't think. There's something about it. But to come back to that, you know, the whole law summarized


in this is love your neighbor as yourself. That's a very important statement. And it says if you go snapping at each other and tearing each other to pieces, you had better watch out or you will destroy the whole community. And that does happen, you know, in little ways, you know, not in big ways. We snap at one another, you know, we are critical of one another and St. Benedict makes a great deal of that murmuring, you know. Some people are constantly complaining about the community as a whole or someone in the community is constantly bribing. You know, again, what is that an indication of? It's some attitude in the heart, it's not community. It's not that brother, there's something wrong in the attitude. And so, St. Paul goes on, if you are guided by the Spirit, you will be in no danger of yielding to self-indulgence. If you are guided by the Spirit, that's the secret. Since self-indulgence is the opposite of the Spirit, then he gives, of course, the list of things, which, of course, we are not all exempt from. You know, we may be the first few, we might think,


well, at least we don't go that far, you know, although there's more than the world idolatry and sorcery, although we have our little idols, you know, sometimes. Feuds and wrangling, though, might, jealousy, bad temper, and quarrels, and these, of course, as he says, are not signs of the Spirit. And so, now to come, finally, and developed at great length, to what he calls the truth of the Spirit. But before we get into that, I just want to speak of what the essence of freedom, I think, is. The essence of freedom is the power to love. And that's brought out by a statement of St. Paul, in that same reading somewhere there this morning, in chapter 5. What matters, he says, is faith that makes its power felt through love. That's a beautiful statement. That summarizes very well what true freedom is. It's faith, we respond in faith to the movement of the Spirit, and


the power to love goes forth from us. It's just, the thing that comes right in my mind now is that lady touching our Lord's garment. She touched, in faith, Christ's garment, and Christ actually experienced power going out of him into this woman. It was a healing power, undoubtedly, of a bodily nature, but it was more than that. And St. Augustine commenting on that little incident in the Gospel too, that when we touch Christ by faith, by an act of faith, we touch Christ, power goes forth from him. And the great power that goes forth from Jesus is the Spirit. He breathes into us his Holy Spirit, and by contacting him in faith, we receive the Spirit, and the power from the Spirit to love. And that's freedom. And the more we have that power to love, the more free we are. And so, that true Christian freedom, of course, brings with it a heavy responsibility, a burden, expressed very well by St. Paul. Bear one another's burdens, and so you will


fulfill the law of Christ. To be truly obedient to the law of Christ, and truly free. In other words, to be available to be available to be available