May 1977 talk, Serial No. 00827

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So, instead of a conference on some theological theme or something, I thought it might be better just to have a sort of informal exchange of experiences, to use this opportunity to get to know each other better. Also, the whole commodity scene, to introduce that a little more, because other things one could read in a book or a review, but this might be the opportunity to have this exchange of experiences. And so I'll give some stuff, and then afterwards we can just talk it over, if there's questions, etc. It'll be a little chaotic, thus, because there's all sorts of things I thought might be interesting and useful, and I'll toss out some information about them, and then if some things would be particularly interesting, we could go into them more. Some of these things, some here already know a great deal about, so there'll be some repetitions,


and I have to urge patience of the patients for some who already know a lot about some of these things. I'm at San Gregorio Alcielio in Rome seven months of the year during the school year, and so I thought I'd talk a bit about that, and then during the summer and Easter and Christmas up at Camaldoli, that's the yearly rhythm, and so also some things about what's happening there. At San Gregorio there's two things that might be touched upon. One, our experience with Mother Teresa of Calcutta, her sisters, and then of this business of the covenant with the Episcopalians, with the Anglicans. Probably you know that up to very recently we have the monastery, the church, and quite a large guest area with, I don't know how many rooms, but now they've put in beds for


more than 100 people, for instance. We had all sorts of rooms that before were leased out at quite a low rent to college students and other guests, and the property per se belongs to the local government because some years ago the government seized all church properties, but we had paid a yearly rent that was very low, but at a certain point the local government noted that it would be very useful for them to have all that space back, at least of our guest quarters, for office space for their communal workers, and this problem began not under the Communists actually, but under the Christian Democratic government, just a note, and then the Communists won recently the local elections and they pushed this more, and Ardan Anselmo, the procurator, went


to talk to them and he came away thinking that they're quite sincere, that is, they do have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars rent every year for office space for their local government workers, whereas if they were to take this, they could save thus the budget, all that money, and the budget is deeply in debt, so there's a serious side to it, it's not just a kind of a sinister plot, but on the other hand, the monastery was very old, it has a very rich history, and there is city law to the effect that these very historical buildings cannot be transformed into a use that is totally against their tradition, so Ardan Anselmo said, this house has had, for all its history, a function of service, social service, let us say, even the renting to these college students was in that line, many of the poor students didn't pay rent or paid very much reduced rent, so he thought if we could


keep the property and maintain that kind of service, it would do the city lots of good and it would maintain the kind of identity of the house, so he invited the sisters of Mother Teresa in, they were already looking for space, they've taken over almost the whole area, there are about 10 or 15 sisters, a nucleus of sisters, especially from India, who have their full profession, and then there are novices and postulants who come from all over the world, this last group, there were several from America, several from England and Scotland, and they there, every evening, starting about 11 at night, they go out into the poorer parts of the town, into the train station, etc., they approach these poor, derelict people who sleep in the train station, etc., they offer them a cup of coffee, a sandwich, and they offer them a place to sleep if they want a clean bed, and many now are accepting,


so they come back to San Gregorio, and all these rooms have now been fitted with beds, and so these people have a warm bed at night, and this is something, one of these poor people, the first week that this was opened up, said it's the first time in seven years that he had slept in a bed, because he said, whereas in Rome it's easy to get a sandwich and food, it's very hard to get a bed if one doesn't have money to pay rent, etc. So now every day there's a huge group of poor people who come, they get their meal there if they want, a good hot meal in the evening, and then a place to sleep, and then there's a whole group of friends around Mother Teresa who then try to find jobs for those who can still work, who look into pension possibilities, so it's a whole varied service to the poor, and Mother Teresa comes regularly, she comes about once a month, and that's something, because she's a


very, very holy woman, many are convinced that she's certainly a saint and she'll be canonized, etc., but it is impressive to see this little woman come who goes all over the world and who has really moved mountains, and also the sisters are very, very serious people, they live a very austere, poor life, they go barefoot always, and there are no chairs in their chapel, they have a kind of Eastern approach, they all sit down, but they're very prayerful people, they get up about 4.30 or 5.00 in the morning and have hours of prayer, the Eucharist is very important to them, before they go out, so there is a kind of a contemplative route to this active commitment. Since Gregory, St. Gregory, this was his house, which he transformed into a monastery in the 6th century, he was always very dedicated to the poor, and he always had a place where the poor


could come and get a free meal, so this is a continuation of this very long heritage. Our procurator, who's the superior of San Gregorio, Don Anselmo, he recently did an article on the poor in St. Gregory's writings, and this was published in the Osservatore Romano. Do you, I guess you get just the...yeah, but we'll send them, but it's very nice because he has some very moving things to say about the poor, that they are God's kingdom on earth, and if they serenely open themselves to this situation, if it's not a situation of just in bitterness and anger, certainly they should try to overcome this situation, but if they at least accept it in the Christian sense of seeing it as a possibility of grace, then they become our mediator on earth, says St. Gregory. We should ask their prayers because they are sort of the kingdom on earth,


and many of Archimandrite's fathers have very radical things to say about the poor, that when the rich man gives to the poor man, this isn't charity, this is justice, rich man is giving to the poor man, that which already belongs to the poor man, and this sort of thing, so that there is this heritage, and it's, we feel, continuing it with Mother Teresa, so that's, it's a rather nice thing to see this very serious religious presence in the house, and we give conferences to the old people, we share liturgies with the sisters, we go down regularly in the evenings to chat with the old people, and so we are trying more and more to be not just two communities under the same house, but understand one another, share one another's lives. Laura, to jump to a whole different thing than the Episcopalians, the Anglicans, the covenant relation which we've established as a congregation, but as a commodity, but as also


all the houses, we hope it will become a thing, it will be of interest to all the commodities, and to all the religious of the Holy Cross. Oh, I guess I did forget the little booklet on, are they sending some literature, the Holy Cross people here? Oh, that's too bad. They are a congregation more or less our size numerically, about a hundred, and they share lots of things with us. Emanuele and I happened to visit them just by chance the last time around. We were scheduled to go to Mount Savior, but they wrote us that there were no, there's no space, so we said, well, let's go up and see this Anglican monastery, and we were received with great charity, and so this idea of a covenant came out. A covenant means that we pledge the one to the other to interest ourselves, the one in the other's experience, to pray the one for the other, and for the reunion of the Anglican and the Roman Catholic churches,


and to study this area. Obviously, some will be much more involved than others, but a general, a prayerful interest on the part of both families. The Holy Cross congregation is like ours, also in its flexibility. The mother house that we visited is out in a forest, a lovely place above the river, reminded us much of Kamaldoli. It's, it's the mother house. The novitiate is there. There's a very rich liturgical life. They take poverty very seriously. For instance, they have a common room of common clothing. You go in there, there's blue jeans and t-shirts, etc. A person goes in there Monday and gets the clothes he'll need, and wears them that week, and then puts them in. People are allowed to have their own clothing if they want, but are also allowed to have this sharing of clothing. This is an example. They also have something like, we think, our San Gregorio Ceglio Rome, which is


closer to an urban academic world. We're going up to Berkeley to see, but it's right on the edge of the whole Berkeley campus, and they're involved with their Episcopal seminarians there. Then they have a very contemplative house down in South Carolina, a farm, a very poor community that tries to survive by their own work, and they have little hermitages there, and they've just named one St. Romuald, and they want to lead a more eremitical life there. So they, they also have a parish right in the middle of Harlem. There, we tried to, we went there, but unfortunately they weren't there. So they go from social engagement and commitment up to community life, academic interests, to the more eremitical and contemplative. So it's rather like us in that respect, too. They have the three vows and a very rich liturgy that's very much like ours, and so forth. So this, this covenant is also a kind of a witness to the two churches, to remind


them of this fact of our ecumenical interest, and in Rome now we're in contact with the Episcopalians there. The Anglican communion has its permanent representative in Rome, who is to represent the Archbishop of Canterbury and the whole communion with the Pope and so forth, and we're in contact with him. So there are all sorts of possibilities that grow out of this on the level of prayer, of theology, and all sorts of things. We can talk more about that, what it might mean also for Muconaldoli here, but you do have two other Holy Cross houses in California. There's the one down in Santa Barbara, which is a retreat house. I was Episcopalian in college, and I remember going up there, and it's a beautiful site, very contemplative atmosphere, and it has a kind of South American flavor architecturally, etc., so it's very almost Roman in that respect.


And then the little Berkeley house, which we'll be visiting, but apparently there are people that come here sometimes for retreats, etc., and it's good then to realize that these people are in some sense our brethren, that they're very enthusiastic about this. They take it very seriously. They pray for us every Saturday in their liturgy and put a great deal of this in their literature, etc. Regarding Camaldoli, there's this new phenomenon of many vocations, many youthful vocations, that's hit us, so to speak, and it's quite a challenge, and it's caused us to reflect about the relation of community, communion on the one hand, and pluralism, diversity on the other. We had had the minor seminaries, so to speak, up to recently, you know, the kids that come in just even at 12 years of age, 11. I think, you know, Cenzo came at nine years of age. Then they go


through all the school system, and many of them went away, about 99 percent left, but some remained and came monks. But at a certain point, it was thought that so few were remaining that we should try our hand at adult vocations, and so the minor seminary was closed. And just at that point, these adult vocations started to arrive, and they're arriving in ever greater floods, and it's a whole new challenge, because these people who are 19 or 20 or more bring their whole adult experience with them. Before it was possible to form a Kamaldolese monk from the age of 9 or 12, and so you had a little family of people who had lived all their lives together, and they really shared a whole experience, a whole formation, etc. But now, for instance, we have one chap who's coming from the university who has his doctorate in sociology. Another chap who's coming from factory work, who's lived all his life as a


metal worker, and who's been involved in the labor union battles and all sorts of things. Another chap who's been to India, who's very interested in eastern religions and the whole hippie scene. Another who's lived his whole life as a sacristan, a very ecclesial atmosphere. Others who have finished seminary will now be getting a Jesuit father, etc. One who was a vice rector of a seminary who teaches scripture. So a great variety of experiences. So they come with us, to us, and they want to share these experiences and grow in our community, but also they believe they have a great deal to contribute, and this is undoubtedly true. So now, a whole new approach to formation. It has to be a kind of a formation sharing, a formation dialogue, and even a debate, because people come from various experiences. It's not


always easy for us to understand them, or even for one to understand the other. For instance, the chap who comes from the Indian hippie tradition, he sees the whole of western civilization with a very critical eye, and he sees critically all sorts of institutions that, for the chap who came from a sacristy life, he might assume that these are the best of all possible worlds. So it's also a going discussion, debate among them. So we've had to face up to this possibility of a real pluralism in the community, but this attempt to deepen communion, community, and this is the dialectic that we want to live, and we think really more and more to become a reality in every community. It's just impossible, more and more, that one assumes that everyone will think alike, and any given problem, concrete, specific problem,


everyone will have the same opinion. How should this church, for instance, be remodeled? What should go where? What are the possibilities? It's inevitable that one person will have one opinion, that another person will have quite a different opinion, and the answer may not be in imposing heavily on one position as the only possible commalvalese position. It might have to come out of a discussion, debate, etc., but each one open to the insights of the other, each one open to a future that brings new possibilities that perhaps can't be fully foreseen by anyone. So we're trying to live this type of dialectic of the communion value, which is so important. We've got to be family in the monastery, the hermitage, in the city, everywhere. Otherwise, if we're just strangers living one close to the other, we're not really living that


communion, that koinonia, that love, which Christ said is the basic witness to the world, that you are my disciples. But again, this communion can't mean uniformity, can't mean leveling, insisting that everyone think like everyone else, or pray like everyone else, or have the same values, etc. Everyone has to put his own opinions sort of in question, in discussion with the others. This is sort of our experience, but not in a polemical way, not forming in groups, our group against your group. You can't break up into splinter things, etc. It has to be really this family trying to find its path. After we had visited Holy Cross, the Anglican community,


they sent two monks to us. Indeed, they sent their superior general and their master, and then they sent two others another time. But they came and talked to us, and they said they have absolutely the same problems today of people going through all sorts of experiences, etc. They said they are assured that one has come to the point of being mature for profession when he stops talking about they and us and starts talking about we. That is, there's this basic experience at a certain point that we are family, and I no longer think of them, the big guys, the guys with the power, the older guys, and then me or us on the other hand. But I really am involved with this we, and I think in those categories. At that point, there is family, and there is the maturity to consider oneself ready for profession, and to consider those brethren


who are already professed but might have to themselves discover this family experience to feel themselves really a living community at that point. So that's a challenge to us at Kamaldoli, to try to realize that everyone is different from the other, that this man is interested in this, this man is interested in that, but to not splinter up, but to deepen this family experience. Just a word about one aspect of our mission at Kamaldoli. Of course, there's the liturgy, the prayer aspect. For instance, this Easter, the whole guest quarters was filled with all these friends, and then they shared very loyally in the whole of the liturgical life. This is quite a consolation. In past years, many of the people who came came sort of on a happy weekend vacation, because the forest is glorious. So they come up,


and they take a room with us, and then they go out and enjoy the forest. But more and more, the people are coming and taking a room, and then spending their time in the church, or with the liturgy, or with the conferences that we organize, etc. So it's quite a monastic postulate, that of hospitality. And we have this monastic revue, Vita Monastica, and it comes out four times a year. And it's kind of fallen into a certain pattern, which is rather interesting. And you know, Chen Tso, one of our monks, who's been to Mount Athos, who's very interested in ecumenism, he's given it a kind of a, of this structure of four numbers. The first number is on inter-church problems, especially has a liturgical bent. Emanuele, who is the prior of Camaldoli, he directs that, because he's very interested in liturgies and his liturgical studies. The second number is ecumenical among the various churches. You know, Chen Tso


handles that. It has a special interest towards the Orthodox and towards the Anglicans now evermore. So that's between the various Christian churches. The third number is in dialogue between Christendom and the non-Christian religions. Don Thomas, who did his thesis on the dialogue with the Hinduism in prayer, he handles that number, with also Carlo, this other cleric who was in India, was very interested in Hinduism, etc. Then the fourth number is dialogue with the modern world, the secular world, with the humanist movements, this sort of thing, and that I sort of organized. So it's sort of like four concentric circles that get ever larger. The first inter-ecclesial, the second among the Christian churches, the third the Christians with the non-Christian religions, and finally with the modern world. So the basic theme would be that of dialogue,


and it's quite a challenge, and this requires us to deepen our Christian monastic experience so that we'll have something to say in dialoguing and listening to the others. But it does have a kind of a structure that's interesting and that challenges us to keep always open to these various dimensions. The council opened up the church to interest in all these areas and set up a series of secretariats for Christian unity, for the liturgy, for the non-Christian religions, and even for non-believers. And so these four circles reflect the interest of the church itself after the council. Then I thought of mentioning something about sort of the spirituality of Kamaldoli. When I say Kamaldoli, that now embraces the hermitage and the monastery, which has this experience really of communion.


Past years there was a real tension in battles, etc., but they have been overcome. Often they were on a rather superficial level, whether Kamaldoli should wear beards or not, whether they should, etc., and also almost on the power level, whether the hermits should dominate the government or the Cenobites, etc. Not a terribly monastic and Christian interest, but with all sorts of work and sweat, and Don Benedetto is very important in this, the fact that we've been able to study and live together, people who are now in the hermitage and in the monastery, it's now one community in two lives, each is respected in its variety. This is part of this communion and diversity thing. There's a real center on the Word of God, I think, that gives the family experience a certain center. And thus, for instance, in the Eucharist, space is given to the


dialogue homily, because this is the community that's reflecting on the Word of God together, and people on their own try to read a great deal of Scripture and theology on Scripture, exegesis, spirituality, biblical spirituality, etc., to give a kind of focus to the community. And this, we feel, is a monastic approach. Don Benedetto, who's a great scholar in medieval monasticism, he notes this, that the monastic fathers, it isn't that they had their own spirituality or were reading this spiritual book, they were always reflecting on Scripture, but Scripture for its relevance for today. So it's not a kind of museum interest or simply a cultural enthusiasm, but it's this act of faith that this is the Word of God, which is written for us.


This is what inspiration means. Don Benedetto always insists on that. Not so much that every word there is without error. That's not the important thing. The important thing is that book, which is more than a book, is written by the Spirit that is in us, and thus it's written for us in our situation today. And so it's written to animate this community of new commodity, etc., etc. So with that act of faith, the Word of God, in its wider sense of Christ, the Eucharist, and Scriptures, becomes a real center. This Word generates community and generates diversity in the various charisms, and thus in dialogue with the Word, we try to deepen our experience of our own communion and the diversity, etc. It also generates prayer, since the Word teaches us how to pray with the Spirit who dwells in our hearts. And it generates


an openness to the modern world, the prophetic charism, which means that we have to read the signs of the times, as the Council said, because the Spirit is speaking today. But we have to have a certain methodology to do this, and the Word of God gives us this methodology because the prophets are constantly doing this, and the whole of Scripture is this, of reading the signs of the times in the light of God's salvation history. So that center opens up all sorts of possibilities we feel for the community. And one concrete application of this in my own life recently has been to try to get back to the biblical languages. This is a very concrete thing and partial and not at all essential, but I found it very helpful and I thought I'd pass it on. I had studied quite a few years of Greek, and also biblical Greek, but never really gotten a hold of


the language, and just recently discovered some of these tools that are out now that make very easy an approach to biblical Greek. There's a word list of New Testament Greek words according to frequency, published by a certain Metzger, so that the first page are all those words that occur more than 500 times in the New Testament, for instance. The second page are those words that occur from 300 times to 500, the third page, etc. So all one has to do is even study the first four pages of vocabulary, and one has about 70 percent of all the words that occur in the New Testament, which means that just with a few weeks' time study, one can open the New Testament in Greek and see all sorts of words that one knows quite well, and this is a great consolation. So that's a real tool, and studying the whole book slowly, slowly, one then gets a hold of the whole


New Testament. But even if one doesn't get beyond those first four pages, one does have very key Greek words that then open up all sorts of biblical theology in a much deeper way. And then another very useful key tool is this interlinear Greek-English New Testament published by Baxter. This has the English text of the King James Version, so one could just use it as an English Bible, but then it also has the Greek Bible, and under every Greek word there's the direct English counterpart, so it's a word-for-word translation, and thus very out of order, etc., because Greek has a different order from English, but it's at least word-for-word, so you can immediately find the word you're looking for, plus the English text, so again, you can just use it as an English book. So that, for instance, you want to, you see here love,


and you want to see what is the precise Greek word, and you can second find the exact Greek word, or word, or here, etc., etc. And this is also a very good tool which helps one slowly, slowly, sort of move from the English to the Greek itself. What inspired me in all this was a visit to a very contemplative monastery up near Bologna, founded by Dosetti, who was a very mystical priest of our time, and it's a convent of sisters, but with some brothers living there also, and when they had the Eucharist, and also there the Word of God is very important, when they read the Old Testament, the first reading, everyone got out their Bible, and I saw all these sisters had the Bible just in Hebrew. They weren't looking at anything else but the original Hebrew text. These are sisters, and then when they got to the New Testament, they all got out their New


Testament just in Greek, and this just left me gaping, because every priest studies a little Greek and a little Hebrew, but then he just leaves it, but here are sisters who are dedicating their life to this, and this is their basic asceticism. They say it's very useful eating a few less beans, or taking the discipline, or something, but this could be a real serious discipline, sweating over the biblical languages, and this opens up real depths. So this is their basic asceticism, so that challenged me that if these sisters could do it, and I'd had all those opportunities, that it might be good for me to try to get back somewhat. And all these tools, I recently discovered, exist also for the Hebrew language. Here's a student's vocabulary of biblical Hebrew, listed according to frequency in cognate, and it's the same thing. The first page is some verbs occurring over 500 times, second occurring 200 to 500 times. With all the roots, the


connections to speak as the verb, then there's the substantive word or thing, dabar, for instance, which is a very key theological word, which doesn't just mean word in our sense, but means also action, event, etc. So then I discovered also this Hebrew and English psalter interlinear, which is just like the New Testament. There's the Hebrew, and right under it is the English counterpart word. And it's particularly helpful because they put in heavy black the root Hebrew, and then in light on all the prefixes and suffixes in Hebrew, so you can immediately get the basic word. So I've started looking for these basic words and then writing them back in the psalter that we use in choir. I find that really enriches the saying of the psalms, because to go from the Italian or the English to the key root word, and to slowly get a hold of these


key Hebrew words, like shalom, for instance, peace, which means a great deal more than peace, or hesed, which is sometimes translated as mercy, sometimes compassion, sometimes love. But it's good to know that it's always that root word there, and this root word is so rich, etc. So I would encourage anyone who has even the least inclination that it doesn't require that much time, but it is a kind of asceticism that will enrich the whole rest of the life, I think. For instance, I noticed just in today's New Testament, Jesus asked Peter three times, do you love me? And Peter says, you know that I love you. In the Greek, what immediately says that Jesus is using the Greek word, do you love, agapal, which is a particular type of very profound, rich Christian love. It means my love for the other, for the other's sake. It's not an


interested love. Whereas Peter says, yes, I love you. And here John has put another Greek word, philo, which is a very human love based on friendship, based upon compatibility. So John is here saying that they're almost speaking two different languages. Jesus is saying, do you have this kind of agape love for me? And Peter doesn't even understand. He says, yes, I like you as a friend. And Jesus keeps insisting. And the real irony is at the end, Jesus even uses Peter's word. He says, do you even love me at the level of philo, at the level of a friendship? Seeing that you don't even get my meaning of agapal, do you even get that other meaning? So Jesus is really giving Peter a rough time here. This is something that doesn't come over at all in the translation. It's just, do you love me? Yes, I love you. But it immediately hits one in the Greek. So there's that sort of thing. It's not something that everyone has to do, but it can help a community if at least some


people interest themselves in Greek. At Commodity we have some real Greek scholars and they're constantly throwing out these things that really deepen one's understanding of Scripture. This is just one moment, of course, of the community reading of Scripture. It shouldn't become an oppressive thing of a new legalism, someone who knows the biblical Greek, so that sort of only he has the right to talk about the New Testament. We had the rector of the Biblical at Commodity last summer, and he insisted a great deal on the variety of charisms in meditating Scripture. And the exegete who studied all his life's Scripture in a very scientific way, he will have a great deal to offer, but he'll have only one thing to offer. And then the factory worker will have a whole different dimension to offer in reflecting upon that Scripture that the exegete wouldn't be able to offer. And then the cook and the artist and all this, so that this isn't, it doesn't give one special


rights or a kind of degree, etc. It's just a tool that does help deepen Scripture. So those are some things. And then another interest of mine recently is that I go up regularly to Kemaldi and teach conferences, etc. And this, recently I've been teaching the English mystical tradition of the 14th century. This also to prepare the brethren for the coming of these Anglicans. The Holy Cross is going to send two monks to us who will stay with us six months. And we thought it'd be better if we started to understand their world, their sort of spiritual world also. And given that Anglican spirituality is rooted in this pre-Reformation medieval English mysticism, it's good for us to get into it, to know more of their world. But also it's a very rich tradition that can help us, completely leaving aside the ecumenical side. So there's


Richard Roll, who lives a very hermetical experience, but in a very joyful spirit, because he has this experience of the love of Christ as spouse. The canticle is very important to him. So joy, light, singing, these are very key words for him. Then there's Julian of Norwich, who has a very mystical reading of theology. This gives a more objective side of the contemplative vocation. It's not just enjoying personal experiences, but it's also reflecting upon the whole faith in this light of the contemplative experience. She has some very rich things to say. Then there's Walter Hilton, who's a very serene, deep, matured contemplative who has all sorts of counsels. And then finally there's The Cloud of Unknowing, which is a real classic, and I think


perhaps of perennial use to people involved in interior prayer. And I noticed you have several books on the cloud here, books that examine the cloud in its parallels with other mystical currents, in its theology, all sorts of things. But that's a very helpful current. So these are just some things tossed out in a rather chaotic way. Now maybe we can open this up to discussion and dialogue and debate. It was actually they who proposed it, and they said, using as a model many covenant relations that now exist between Episcopal and Catholic parishes in the States.


It's a basic biblical category, and that's beautiful. It comes from the human, sort of, let's say, horizontal level of a covenant between two peoples, and then God uses this to explain his relation with Israel, and then it goes back again on this horizontal. So I think it's quite rich and interesting. I might mention I had a bright idea this morning that I don't know if it's going to lead anywhere, but you had loaned me this Sobermost, which is the review of a St. Alban and St. Sergius Fellowship, which is the fellowship of the Anglicans to deepen the dialogue of the Orthodox. And there's an article of, now I remember, one of the monks who came to us from Holy Cross on his visit to Camaldoli. Camaldoli linked between East and West, and it's full of praise, etc. But the thought occurred to me, I didn't know of any similar fellowship of dialogue between


Anglicans and Catholics. So this covenant could enlarge itself, this thought occurred to me. One could organize a fellowship, say, of St. Augustine and St. Bede, for instance, sponsored by Camaldoli and Holy Cross. Augustine comes from Rome, so he very much represents the Roman church. And we tie in because he comes from our church there, but he's also the first Archbishop of Canterbury. And St. Bede is a hundred percent English, and his History of the English Peoples is a very lovely example of this monastic reading of heritages in the light of the faith to see God's church there. So they would be two saints, it would be rather good patrons. And this could enlarge among all the friends. Holy Cross has thousands and thousands of friends


organized in confraternities of prayer, etc. They could be tied into this fellowship. And it could represent a kind of a monastic apostolate that would be very lovely. One of the nice things in the dialogue with the Anglicans is they do have the whole monastic experience. They have Benedictine abbeys and all sorts of things. And so it's not quite like dialoguing with the Methodists or the Baptists or something, because we as monks share with them a monastic experience. So we monks at that level can help the ecumenical dialogue. So that might be an extension of this covenant experience so that it wouldn't just be between two families, but it could then spread out to be a prayer study fellowship. So I wrote them a letter today to see what they come back with. Other comments. We talked to them extensively how this works, this great variety of houses, etc.


They do have, of course, the vow of obedience, and it's up to the superiors. And they don't have the suiurus house, but they do have something like it. And of course, the Anglican spirit is always to respect diversity and so forth. So if a man indicates very much that he'd like to spend, say, six months or a year or a month down there, or would even like to look into the possibility of spending the whole rest of his life, that opens up this real possibility. And so there are those, they also have a missions in Africa, all sorts of things. So it's a very, they have a house in Canada, a house in the Bahamas, etc. I wish I had the statistics, but I think in their community at Holy Cross, 13 nations are represented. It's an amazing thing. Because the Anglican community, communion is all over the world. It's a communion of national churches.


So there's the Episcopal Church in the United States, there's the Anglican Church in Canada, etc., etc. So people do come from the Anglican communion all over the world. Another interesting thing is about 60 or 70 percent of their members are converts, very few Roman Catholic converts, I think none. But many of them come up through the Baptists or Methodists or etc. And so that's very interesting. But they do have very much this somewhat R spirit. If a commandant of these very much wants to come up to the Holy Hermitage, it's very difficult that the man will insist no. Or if at the Hermitage he very much wants to go down, it's very difficult that the general will hold him there. Indeed, it's impossible, etc., etc. So they have very much this spirit also. If it's in the Anglican context, they have a Hermitage down in South Carolina.


It's a called primitive monastic experience in the sense that they want to work the land themselves, and they want to be self-sufficient. They want to grow their own food, etc., etc. But not in a cenobitical style, but in an aramidical. I don't know how it works exactly. But they have their individual cells, they're building them now. It's a young community. And they wrote us at the Sacred Hermitage that they had named one of the cells St. Ramona, so they're asking our prayer in this way. Right, yeah. I think it would be natural for them to deepen their ties with you if you could send your newsletters, etc. If you could exchange with your... We send them everything we have, but everything we have is in Italian. They have almost no one who reads Italian, so that's the problem. He's there now. He's normally in Jerusalem. They've set up a little community there.


He was so enthused by getting back to the roots of the biblical experience that he wanted to go there and live in the atmosphere a while. So they're there in a very difficult area. There's Arabs on one side, the Jews on the other. The Arabs and Jews devoutly hate one another. Here's this little group of Christians in the middle, and neither side understands what these Christians are all about. But they try to testify Christ. They're very open to the Jewish heritage and to the Arab heritage, etc. But he's now at their house there, and he's going to visit Kemal. He's a great friend of Don Benedetto, but he's a very inspiring man, very rigorous. They have a Eucharistic liturgy that can last hours and hours and hours, and they get up in the middle of the night, and it's a very austere community indeed. There might be an aramidical twist to it. I don't know, but they have a father who stays with them. I'm sure he's


living that type of aramidical life. Because they push this asceticism of the biblical languages, this opens up all sorts of things. It opens up translation work. Raniero Lavalle gave Don Benedetto a book as a gift for his trip here, and it's a translation of Jewish meditations on the Canticle of Canticle, Jewish meditations which are written in Hebrew. So this priest of the community there has translated this into Italian and published it, and they're going to do all sorts of work like that. They're going to—also the Greek fathers, etc. With their Greek and Hebrew, they can translate all sorts of very important monastic and patristic and even Jewish fonts into Italian. That gets them a sort of source of income, and it's also a very monastic work that enables them to go into all this area, etc.


Other questions, problems? I'm also getting more and more absorbed into this Anglican thing. It could become a kind of fixation, but up till now, I've been interested in this other. The argument is something like this. We're not living—it's sort of the counterpart of all this—we're not living in the first century. We're not living in the time of Romuald or the Middle Ages. We're living today, and this is providential. God has willed this. And we can't live in a kind of a vacuum, because God is working also in the modern world, the whole business of the science of the times, etc. So we have to be somewhat in dialogue with it. It's ironic that monks are often very


open to dialogue with Buddhists and Orthodox and all sorts of people, but they don't want to hear anything about the modern secular world, where 99% of the people have to live their Christian lives and work out their destiny, etc. So the fact that we live, for instance, in a world that's ever more urban, what are the implications of this for monasticism? It's often lived in a kind of a rural context. Do we have to fight that? Do we have to reject every value that comes out of an urban society? For instance, technology, science, are we against all that because we're monks? One of a monk who's very interested in the dialogue with India has his own little monastery, came up to come out here to visit us. He has the kind of anti-technology approach. So in their monastery they can't have any automobiles, any electric lights. All this is sort of the work


of the devil, so to speak. For instance, this is a classical example of technological society. Should we use it? How should we use it? Is it an enemy of ours? Or can it help us? But not just the technology. Modern society is also characterized by this urgency, this concern for social justice. The fact that 60 or 70% of the world population live in misery and famine. And we in the West live in a kind of a luxury situation. The Christian world is the world of plenty. And this is sort of ironic if Jesus came to preach to the poor, etc. So many people, especially young people, especially in Europe, are very dedicated to social problems, social justice, etc. Are we monks simply indifferent to all that? Is it simply the


world? It's a distraction to us. What about the whole prophetic tradition I was mentioning? We're monks of every now and then get very involved in fighting for the poor. And of course, a radical expression of this social concern, sort of the ultimate extreme of it, is the whole Marxist world. The atheism aspect of it, the persecution of the church. But are there some also positive values there? For instance, Maritain notes that it comes out of a kind of a prophetic experience. Marx was a Jew of a Jewish family, and they read the Old Testament always. And he is a kind of secularized heresy of the Christian doctrine of the kingdom, that we're going towards a kingdom of justice and peace where we'll all be brothers, where there'll be no more suffering, etc. He was so infuriated


that the Christians seemed so little dedicated to that, that they were often on the side of the rich and the dominant classes, etc., etc. So in Italy, we're in this curious situation where millions and millions vote for the Communist Party who go every Sunday to church, who are very dedicated, etc., etc. So at least there, monks are challenged to try to say something to these people who also come to the monasteries, who say that they want to give themselves to a deeper prayer to the Christian faith, but they don't understand why Christianity should be on the side of the rich man, etc. The monastery, where we try to live a fellowship, where there aren't rich and poor, privileged and unprivileged, where we're all brothers, and where the wealth of the communities, so to speak, goes to each according to his need and from each according to his ability. Thomas Merton has interesting essays on this. He says, the communist ideal is realized in nucleus


in the monastery. And he says, a writer like Marcuse, who's the philosopher, who's a neo-Marxist, who's against these abuses of the capitalist society, but he's also very anti-Russian, anti-communist world. He says that's an abuse of the communist ideals. Thomas Merton says he's really a monastic writer because he's a prophet who's infuriated by these injustices, etc. So this is sort of the whole world that this last circle would be involved in. It's a very delicate world, and one has to be careful and not make mistakes, etc. But it's an inevitable world, at least in Italy, and it was something that interested Merton ever more in his last days. His last conference, you know, was on the Christian monastic Marxist dialogue, and so it is an area. Question from the audience.


Very much. Kamel, the monastery, has its own history. I'll talk more about that because I know it more, but it, some years ago, had a kind of a individualistic, biastic approach, very rigorous laws and very austere life, etc. So the monks who live that are now in reaction against it, and they're now insisting very much on family and community, etc. The danger is to get away from a more interior life, to so stress community, and thus talking, and all this, that the other looks almost like a constant threat of intimism, etc. So these young people have come who don't have this problem, who are not in reaction against false devotionalism and individualism, and so forth, and they're very dedicated to interior prayer. They go into their room and they stay here.


They're capable of staying all day in interior prayer. The prayer of Jesus is very important to them, various Hindu forms of meditations. So this is certainly a challenge to the others, and that kind of a, it's a kind of a challenge to the others to live up to the monastic vocation in this side of prayer. So I think it's been very positive in that respect. And the Hermitage has always had a deeper life of interior prayer, and Don Bernardino, who's now been in India now a year, he's the same thing. He's now going to come back in September, bringing all the wealth of his experience of monasticism, etc. But he's a person of very deep interior prayer, and his cell, chapel, at the Hermitage has a very eastern atmosphere to it. So that's a challenge to all the rest of us.


So I think it's been very good in that regard. You tell me, brother. How would you say? What are the implications of this? I suppose it becomes open wrong in what's going on around us, that we can't talk the way we want to speak, we can't do anything the way we want to speak. Monk also comes from monos, which means alone. Yeah, right. Now there's various


ways of understanding monk, for instance. One great monastic father, Evagrius, says it means alone. Augustine, who's also a very great father of the church, says this main sense is one, in the sense of communion. We are one with God, and we are one with the brethren. So there's various emphases on what hermit and what monk means. But as St. Peter Damian says, it can't be cut off from the church. The whole church must be in the cell of every hermit, because if he's cut off, says Jesus, he's dead, because we're all members of of one body, and if the branch is cut off. So it can't be alone in the individualistic sense. A real problem for us Americans might be we do have that individualism heritage. It doesn't have anything to do with Christianity, you know, the rugged individual who's on his own. And then we


can insert that into the hermitical monastic heritage, and things don't quite come out right, because the hermit must always at least be a Christian, and Christianity requires being in the body of Christ. But certainly there are problems, the relation between hermitical monastic solitude and openness to the world. It's always a tension. St. Romuald lived it in one way, St. Peter Damian in another, but they were never, if you read the life of St. Romuald, for instance, by St. Peter Damian, St. Romuald, St. Peter Damian says, was the man feared by the rich nobles, etc., because he'd come right down the middle of the city, and he'd start fighting for the peasant with her cow, and the rich noble was afraid of no one else, because he had his arm, but he was terrified of this holy man who'd come right down there, get interested in the fact that the noble was going to take her cow away, and side with the... So Romuald wasn't someone who was disinterested in the poor, the suffering,


etc. He didn't give certainly the majority of his time to this, but he never cut it off. And St. Peter Damian is an even more radical example. He's written many tracts that today would be called political and even radical, against the rich, etc. One, I think, one of the lovely things about the Camaldolese, the General Synagogue the other day,


was that there is room in the Camaldolese for a great variety. And the Camaldolese have tried to take rather seriously the biblical doctrine of the body of Christ with many members, quite different from one from the other. So we do have a parish in Italy. We go all the way from that to permanent reclusion. So a Camaldolese can become a Camaldolese and live that Camaldolese monastic eruditical vocation in parish work, indeed. That would be one extreme example. Or in permanent reclusion, which would be the other. And we even now have both. At least we have the nun who's a permanent recluse in Rome. So I think that's good. And one one charism shouldn't threaten another. If you have the charism of a permanent reclusion, and I feel like working at San Gregorio, for instance, I shouldn't condemn you or vice versa.


It should be a union of prayer and love there. And even in a given community, in a given aramidical community or in a given monastic community, there will be varieties there. It won't be that everyone will live the new Camaldolese charism in precisely the same way, I should think, because also here it's the theology of the body, the grace, and so forth. The hermitage certainly is a very important center in Italy. Even statistically speaking, a great proportion of the Camaldolese are in hermitages.


I think reclusion has always been considered an exceptional vocation, even among the Camaldolese, certainly in the church it's quite exceptional. But even among the Camaldolese, that might have been one way, frankly, in which new Camaldolese got off slightly, slightly confused. I remember my first days when I was here and everyone from the person who had just been here two days as a postulate was convinced he wanted to be a permanent recluse, for instance. That was a certain enthusiasm at the beginning, etc. But all our people who live in the hermitage, who have a certain hold on our heritage and history, say that's not quite it. The number of permanent recluses in the history of the Camaldolese has never been extremely high. So I think perhaps we here have to be wary of a certain enthusiasm, which can be also be misleading. I remember


personally of some people who have been here and were sure they were called to a recluse vocation and when they weren't given permission immediately to go into reclusion, they went away in a huff and they ended up married or something. That is, later I talked to one of these chaps. He recognized quite serenely that he had never had a vocation to reclusion, but it had just been kind of this, so one could say all this. But certainly reclusion remains the unique special witness of the Camaldolese, so that we are here to guarantee that. There's no doubt about that. So the danger, on the other hand, of not emphasizing so much that it's exceptional, etc. So if one gives signs of real maturity, etc., I think certainly at the Eremo in Italy and certainly here, I think that the door is open. But certainly after the Council there's a tendency to rediscover dialogue with the Orthodox and the Anglicans in the world, and this can go to an


extreme. And I think now we're on the way to recovering interiority, etc. I find this my own life, but ever more need to give more time to prayer, etc. So probably the pendulum keeps swinging one way or the other. Another dimension, which is very historic, is the missionary. We now have he who was recluse for years and years at the Sacred Hermitage is now mission work in Brazil. There's now another man who's going to go following, etc. So this would be yet another. And Blessed Rudolph has this amazing theology that that is the apex. Strictly speaking, not reclusion, but it's the cenobitical, the eremitical, then the reclusion, and then to


the fullness of union with God, one returns into the world to announce the... So this is also another bend to our heritage. It's sort of surprising. Indeed, the thrust is, I think we would have to say, to the hermitage of the majority of young people. And certainly all the postulates and novices go there. They are invited to spend a month down below, too, so that the community down below won't be perfect strangers to them. But most of them keep that... I'm not sure a month or two or less, even. It depends on each. I don't think so. No. There's some, for instance, my Pedro did his own novitiate. I think he never


came down to the monastery. It depends. There are a few exceptions where one does his novitiate at the monastery. If he asks for this, you can't force the hermitage anymore. The last person who came from our minor seminary, who entered at a very young age, he frankly admitted he didn't feel any immediate attraction to be specifically hermitical. And he asked for the bishop down below, so he was given a Guiagis Carnavon. But normally, the Camaldolese formation is up in the hermitage. And these people keep this attraction so much so that it's sometimes... That is, they have this real enthusiasm for the hermitage. Was there something else? I think it's the thing, certainly, that you've gotten beyond.


When you say it was offered to him? Because, at least in Camaldi, no one would be offered reclusion. It would be something that one would have to insist on. I think so. And I don't know if it's something that's true.


I don't know if it's true. I don't know. I don't know.


I think this is very important, I think. We have this sociologist I was mentioning. He did a sociological research on our guests at Camaldoli, for instance. We have hundreds and perhaps thousands who pass through Camaldoli a summer. So we have the impression that we're really in touch with things. But he did a research on these, and he found that about 99% come from the middle class or upper middle class, many from the clerical world, priests, seminarians. This is good. But there was almost no one from the worker class, for instance. And literally no one from the underproletarian. How do you say that in English? The subproletarian president. Sometimes you distinguish the middle class, the upper middle class, the worker class, and the poor people under the worker class who don't even have jobs, etc., the unemployed. Well, that whole world was simply absent from Camaldoli, and it no longer is, at least at San


Gregorio, because when we celebrate the Sunday Mass, it's with these people, and it's a whole different world. There's their way of speaking, their way of singing, and their way of contributing to the dialogue calmly, etc. That's right. This is very important. It's interesting that in three Camaldolese houses, there are factors of reflection that Camaldolese would see on the ends of their practice of meditation more than this is, of course, causing the other people to reflect upon their... It might have been an over-emphasis on talking to their family, etc. They would run up and quiet up to the light material, and then San Gregorio would then, when I was there, it would become more of a hotel. We had 90 girls there, and


a couple of them were walking on a bikini chair on the other side of the hotel, and some wanted to make a lot of money, and it all comes to nothing. Then it comes in, and I was with Mother Teresa, and, well, this is a corrective, in a way, of a lot of reflection, and here in New Camaldoli, well, we've had a charismatic group, and a lot of good reflection, and I think when you take a reflection, you can't just make it as a part of reflection, etc. But saying something to a Camaldoli, you can take the evidence, you can have it, but how would you do that? I don't know what's happening to Bono, but that's what I said. I wanted to mention to Jean-Marie the aspect also, not just the guests coming in, but some


are coming in who do represent not the average white middle-upper class. As I mentioned, this lad who comes from the factory, from a very difficult worker class life, his father died very young, his father was a poor worker, he died from overwork, etc. Now, he has vowed that he's not going to just set that whole, he lived years of fighting the labor unions, etc., for the rights of workers, etc. He's not just going to put that under the rug and forget it to be able to have his inner consolations of prayer and contemplation, etc. Somehow he has to be a monk who brings into the community this tension, and that is very good, because we found often, in one way or the other, people discuss social problems, politics, often without even recognizing it, and often monks discuss these from a rather bourgeois


angle, and he always brings us back. So this is, here you've had people from the Indian world, I think this is good for us, also different nationalities, this is good. This sort of thing causes a bit of friction.