May 1st, 1996, Serial No. 00135

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Rule of Benedict Novice Class # 1 - 1990s

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We just finished the prologue of St. Benedict's Rule, and we plan to give attention to certain
chapters, but especially the first seven chapters.
You remember the Rule is largely divided into two great sections.
The first is what you might call the spiritual foundations.
It's in Prologue and Chapters 1 through 7.
That's not exclusive, because there are especially some things that Benedict added at the end
of the Rule that should be included there.
But then most of the rest of the Rule is organization, how things are set up and how things should
be done in a particular way.
We wanted to do that first part especially.
That's the foundation on which everything rests.
And we'll give less attention to the second part.
Much of it is the kind of detail that doesn't require a lot of commentary, unless you have
a particular historical interest, but we're trying to get the essentials.
At the same time, we want to do the vows.
So we'll need to break into this treatment of the Rule at a certain point and treat the
five vows, which you will be making at the time of the Profession in the fall.
I'd like to get as much of the foundation material in before the vows as we can.
I think you can see the reason for that, that the commitments are posterior to these spiritual
They rest upon them.
So it's good not to take the vows too much in the abstract, but to build them into our
understanding of monasticism as much as we can.
So I don't know at what point we'll cut off and get to the vows.
It'll be when Stephen comes back, not before then, because he was particularly interested
in that too.
So right now I'd like to continue with the Rule chapter one and the following chapters.
We can probably handle about one chapter each week, I think, as we go through these first
seven chapters, even though some of them, like chapter seven, asks for a great deal
more comment than, say, chapter two on the Abbot, because it's not as if we have to
examine the office of the Abbot from every possible angle, because what we're interested
in is our life, and the role of the Abbot is important, and that will come up again
and again in English.
Okay, so chapter one is on the kinds of monks, you remember, and there's a lot of background
to this.
And it's good to go into the background of it so that we don't look at the Rule in too
simple-minded a fashion, so that you see the layers, the strata that are underneath it,
and the changes that have taken place.
Let's take a look, first of all, at our Commodities Constitution, just because this business
of the kinds of monks is built right into our own structure, isn't it?
Because it's one congregation in which the kinds of monks somehow play a central role,
unlike most Benedictine communities, which only accommodate one kind of monk.
So we're sort of planted right in the middle of cachet, in the Commodities.
The relevant texts, which I'm going to go through very quickly, unless there are questions,
are largely in this first chapter on the spiritual nature and juridical structure of the Commodities
I just want to remind you of the parts about synovium and hermitage.
It's Numbers 3 through 7, I think.
Number 3, the Commodities congregation consists of hermitages and monasteries.
The hermitage is the characteristic element of the congregation, and as such,
orients the spiritual life of all its members.
That's a strong statement, isn't it?
Making the hermitage the defining element.
It's got a lot more power and resonance than might appear at first, because not only does
the presence of the hermitage define the congregation, but then that element somehow is supposed to
influence everything else.
It used to be stronger.
There was a point, you may recall, when the Constitutions put things in such a way that
you weren't fully a Commodities monk if you lived in the monasteries, until you went to the hermitage.
And for hundreds of years, the synovium was deliberately suppressed, as it were.
There are all kinds of things operating there.
You've got two ways of life and two groups of monks interacting.
All kinds of polarities and tensions and stuff.
Some of them very unfortunate.
There's, I think, a good, healthy balance now, because you don't have this artificial
insistence on the type of life that a person may not be called to.
There were great contradictions, for instance, in the beginning of the century, when they
had a collegial firm for kids, and then they were feeding them into the hermitage, without
an acknowledgment of the possibility even of somebody legitimately living out their
whole life in the monastery.
I'm only exaggerating a little bit.
That's the way it was.
So it distorts everything, when you have that kind of situation.
So I think that the present legislation has been melted and molded much more to the
shape of reality than it was a hundred years ago or two hundred years ago, when there was
such a strong insistence on solitude and on a particular form of life as defining the vocation.
And then that form of life would be defined right down to the particulars, too.
The collegial life, how young were the students?
Boy, pretty young.
Here are the ages of some of our, now our sort of generation of superiors, when they
come in.
Eleven, thirteen, and so on.
So was it considered more like a private school, or was it a school for monks?
The purpose for starting it was to produce vocations, as I remember.
I think that the Comaldes were really limping at the beginning of the century, because they
had these suppressions, you know, they were just about wiped out.
And some Jesuit recommended, well, why don't you start a minor seminary, why don't you
start a collegio?
And the real purpose was to bring those kids into the monastery, into the monastic life.
Even though no doubt some of them turned out to be priests and so on elsewhere.
Or maybe not even religious at all.
Not even religious at all, sure.
And it continued up until our time, by golly, when I went to Italy in 62 that was still
And so kids like nine, ten?
I don't know quite that young.
I've heard of eleven and thirteen, maybe nine and ten.
They had some little kids.
I'm not a good judge of age.
A kid is a kid.
They had something similar in the old days.
It wasn't the same.
It wasn't a minor seminary.
But Paul Giustiniani, one of his big problems was he'd remark how he was the reader at the
hermitage on Christmas Day or something like that, or a solemnity.
And all these little kids came drooping up.
They were in the monastery down below because they were teaching kids and had kids there.
And I don't remember what the rubric was, what they called them, how they categorized
But that was a much earlier phase.
In the early 1600s.
You mean at Comaldoli?
And they had Buon Salazzo was the place where they did most of that.
That's an old Trappist monastery that they got.
At least a few hundred years old.
Near Florence, I remember being over there.
And I think they've gotten rid of that property quite a while ago, I think.
But that was functioning when we were over there.
Buon Salazzo.
A big, big cloister.
And a lot of the monks, of course, were concerned with teaching.
Taking care of the kids.
In both hermitage and monastery, the monks attended the contemplative life above all
That's very familiar.
And then they've got a footnote here on how that's to be understood.
And then they get to the distinction and discrimination between the two.
In the one monastic vocation, there are different gifts but the same spirit.
For this reason, the monk may be called to realize his vocation in either the hermitage
or the monastery.
Notice how carefully that's been written.
Those are two legitimate vocations, side by side.
In other words, it's a parallel presentation, you see, rather than one on top of the other.
But the one on top of the other will kind of show it and rear its head a little later.
But at least there is this possibility, solidly presented, of a legitimate cenobitical kamalvis
vocation for the whole of your life.
In the monastery, the monk lives out his vocation day by day through union and charity with
his brothers, through obedience, through the spirit of our tradition.
And then further notes of the monastic cenobitical life.
That's number six.
Number seven.
The kamalvis hermitage is situated between the cenobitic and anchoritic ways of life,
keeps the best elements of both, and creates a wise balance of solitude and life in common,
et cetera.
Although the hermit remains united to his brothers and subject to the yoke of obedience,
he strives in solitary quiet to attain purity of heart and intimate union with God
by means of greater mortification and more intense and assiduous prayer.
Very much in the line of tradition.
And then it goes on to talk about recluses, the further stage of solitude.
And later on, they also talk about other possible more intense forms of solitude
other than reclusion, and that's a concession to the Americans, as I remember.
Because reclusion is a rather alien thing for us.
Reclusion literally means being shut in, you know.
And that was the way it was done in the Middle Ages.
But for an American, probably an Australian too, to live in the woods or something like that,
with a sense of openness and a sense of rapport with nature,
is a lot more meaningful than to be walled in.
The word reclusion is not an entirely fortunate one.
Any questions on that, before we just go on with R.M. and R.B. and Keshen and all of those?
This is here for your references, you know.
Let's take a look at chapter one of Saint Benedict's Rule,
and then we'll look at the background in the time that we have.
Once again, Benedict is remarkable for his conciseness.
You can compare him with a master.
Chapter one, The Kinds of Monks.
De generibus monocorum.
There are clearly four kinds of monks.
First, there are the Cenobites, that is to say, those who belong to a monastery,
where they serve under a rule and an habit.
Notice the careful definition, point after point.
Monastery, rule, habit.
Three pillars of the Cenobitical Act.
Secondly, the Anchorites or Hermits.
Do you want to read that part, Mark?
That's chapter one, verse three through five.
You got it there okay?
I'm trying to find it.
Chapter one, verse three.
Thank you.
Secondly, there are the Anchorites or Hermits,
who have come through the test of living in a monastery for a long time,
and have passed beyond the first fervor of monastic life.
Thanks to the help and guidance of men,
they are now trained to fight against the devil.
They have built up their strength and gold from the battle line,
to the ranks of their brothers,
to the single combat of the desert.
Self-reliant now, without the support of another,
they are ready, with God's help,
to grapple single-handedly with the vices of body and mind.
Now, just about everything we've read up to this point
comes straight from the role of the Master and in Cation, as we'll see.
Notice this vision of the solitary life of the Hermits.
It's not a question of contemplation, is it?
Or not literally a question of interiority,
or a deeper experience of God.
That's not the language at all.
It's the language of the externalized language of struggle with the devil.
Which I think is pretty typical of Egyptian monasticism.
You don't hear a lot about contemplation in Egyptian monasticism.
You find it in Cation, but in Cation maybe it comes more from himself, I don't know.
He's got a kind of platonic vision, too.
It's a matter of struggling against the devil,
together with your brothers, and then going out and doing it alone.
It certainly sounds grimly realistic.
Not a romantic kind of thing at all.
Doesn't necessarily sound like much fun either.
Now we get to the Sarabites. Do you want to read about the Sarabites?
So that we have the Sarabites, the most testable kind of monks,
who have no experience to guide them,
no will to try them, as gold is tried in a furnace,
and the character as soft as lead.
Still loyal to the world by their actions,
they clearly lie to God by their tonsuring.
Two or three together, or even alone, without a shepherd,
they pin themselves up in their lone sheepfold, not the law.
Their law is what they like to do, whatever strikes their fancy.
Anything they believe in and choose, they call holy.
Anything they despise, they consider forbidden.
Most of us have a little of the virus of the Sarabite in us,
otherwise known as self-will.
They are the ones who don't have any abbot, and they don't have any rule, do they?
And the Jarabes are going to be the ones who don't have any monastery,
don't have any stability.
He's very much abridged...
Has he?
Yeah, abridged the master's thing on the Sarabites,
but it's the Jarabes on which the master really goes to town,
really enjoys himself.
Manjaro, do you want to read the rest of it?
Fourth and finally, there are the monks called Jarabes,
who spend their entire lives drifting from region to region,
staying as guests for three or four days in their monasteries.
Always on the move, they never settle down,
and are slaves to their own will and gross appetites.
In every way, they are worse than the Sarabites.
That's very sober compared with the master, as we'll see.
It is better to keep silent than to speak of all these and their disgraceful way of life.
Let us pass them by then, and with the help of the Lord,
proceed to draw up a plan for the strong kind, the Sarabites.
So, Benedict firmly returns to the track of his purpose,
which is to write a book for Sarabites.
That plan for the strong kind, fortissimum genus,
there's quite a bit of discussion and uncertainty about exactly what that means.
Does it mean that the individual Sarabite is the strongest kind of monk?
It doesn't seem that's possible, does it, after what he said about the hermits?
Because it's precisely strength that distinguishes the hermits, isn't it?
Because they go out single-handed, instead of needing the help of their brethren.
So, it seems like it's got to mean something else.
Maybe it means that they're the most secure kind of monks,
because they have that help of their brethren,
and that the solitary life is more precarious and more dangerous,
and maybe more people fail at it.
There's another possibility here,
which is that it simply means more numerous, like numerically stronger.
The stronger tradition, you might say, or something like that.
But strong kind, interpreted literally,
would seem really to contradict completely what he said about the hermits.
Okay, let's take a look at the antecedents.
There's a good section in your article, 1980,
from page 313 to about 320, on this issue of the kinds of monks.
So, if you want to get the history straight, I'd recommend that.
They start out with this,
the first discussion of the kind of monks, about 381,
is Consultationes Zechei at Apolloni.
And then there's Saint Jerome, in his letter to Stokium.
And he talks about Cenobites, Anchorites, or Hermits.
And then a third kind, the bad guys, are Remnoi.
They're a degenerate kind of monks, but they're very common.
They sound like the Serovites.
He indulges himself a little bit, too, being a literary man.
Among them, everything is done for effect.
They wear loose sleeves, flapping boots, clumsy clothing.
They sigh a great deal, pay visits to virgins,
pivotal to the clergy,
and whenever a feast day comes around, eat themselves sick.
Okay, and then there's Saint Augustine.
And Augustine, what's he got? He's got three ways.
And the basic commitment here, always, is celibacy.
You'll notice the RB 1980 treatment
emphasizes that celibacy is the primary commitment.
That's what defines monasticism.
And then the rest of the developments and subdivisions
take off from there.
First the solitaries, and then the community people,
and then the third kind is the urban monks, Saint Augustine.
And notice that he had a particular interest in that,
because he had something like an urban monasticism, didn't he?
The canons, remember?
The clerics who lived together.
He's given credit for that.
Now we get to Cassian.
Now Cassian is just underneath our own rules,
and the rule of the Master.
It's in Conference 18.
Maybe I'll put these pages on the shelf for a while.
Cassian's Conference 18, Chapters 4 through 7.
He talks about the three kinds of monks in Chapter 4.
The Anchorites, the Cenobites, and the Sarobites.
You've got to have one kind of bad guy.
So it's the Sarobites here.
And then he's got a kind of myth about the origin of the cenobitical life,
the monastic life, the historical myth,
which is that the original Jerusalem community was very fervent,
and as I remember, I'm not reading it again right now,
they possessed nothing themselves.
They gave up all their possessions and put everything in common.
So the Cenobites would be the people who preserved that original apostolic life intact
while it decayed in the rest of the Church.
And the reason why it decayed, he says, is largely the coming of the Gentiles.
The dilution of the original fervent Jewish Jerusalem community
through the coming in, the bringing in of the Gentiles.
That's a theologically dangerous kind of principle.
Hmm? You like that idea?
And these, as by degrees time went on, were separated from the great mass of believers,
and because they abstained from marriage, cut themselves off from intercourse with their kinsmen
and the life of this world, were turned monks or solitaries
from the strictness of their lonely and solitary life.
Now that's a neat way of basing the monastic life.
In other words, you'd make the monastic life the only genuine form of Christian life,
and everybody else is sort of decayed, you know.
Thank heaven it isn't true.
Now those are the Cenobites, and the Anchorites developed out from them
with St. Paul and Anthony, the first Hermans.
And it's very much like what we saw in the Rule of Benedict here.
They're called Anchorites or Withdrawers, because being by no means satisfied with that victory
whereby they had trodden underfoot the hidden snares of the devil,
while still living among men, they were eager to fight with the devils
in open conflict in a straightforward battle.
And so feared not to penetrate the vast recesses of the desert.
So, they go out for the single-handed combat with the devil.
It's very interesting, isn't it, that they take that perspective on the solitary life,
that particular way of defining the Hermit life, which we would never do today, would we?
It's more biblical, doesn't it?
It's more biblical.
Now it is, sure. That's what Jesus did.
It's not so clear, like the 40 years of the Israelites in the desert,
you know, the Exodus time, it's not in those terms.
Because actually the whole business of the devil is not clear, nor very common in the Old Testament, is it?
It pops out in the Gospel.
As soon as Jesus comes on the scene, there you have this struggle.
Especially in Mark's Gospel, but not only.
But you can understand that the Christian interpretation of the fact that the devil is a sort of,
you know, Christian, made rational in the Hebrew national language, doesn't it?
It's not explicitly there, but it's a Christian way of appropriating it.
And it's individualized now.
Individualized, and it's out in the open, instead of being disguised.
Maximus Confessor makes an interesting commentary on it.
That's right.
You'll find that there is about contemplation in Cassian later on.
Especially, I'll read you something from his preface to his conferences,
and there he really stresses the contemplative thing.
So he has it very much in mind, but sometimes, as in this story here, he doesn't bring it up at all.
That it only happens through the contemplative experience.
It's almost...
It's almost...
It's almost as if it only happens, the devil's only come out into the open when you're alone.
When you're in those spaces.
And of course, nature was thought of also in a different way than it is by us.
Because nature was the demon infested place.
It's as if Christianity had pushed the devil, in a sense, out into the wilderness sometimes.
Remember how they talk about pagans?
The pagans are the people who live out in the rural areas.
And Christianity was an urban religion, largely.
It surprises us.
For us, there are lots of contradictions in that when we think of the city.
But they're very literal about it, you know?
They don't separate...
What would you call it?
The interior struggle from these externalized forms of the devil.
Whether in the life of Saint Anthony, or in the rest of that literature.
That they really see these things.
Those things are really there for them.
And we have to make a metaphor out of them.
Let's say that those are projections of the imagination or something.
Or of the psyche.
Remember the life of Anthony.
So much of that literature.
Even, where is it?
Bagrius, who was tossed by the devil.
Until he was black and blue.
That's the beginning of the cenobitical life and of the anchoritic life.
And now he goes on about the disgusting and unfaithful kind of monks who are the cerebroids.
Who imitate Ananias and Sapphira.
And the distinguishing thing for Cassian about them is that they don't have any poverty.
That they store things up.
They hoard in order to take care of themselves in the future.
Instead of in some way trusting themselves to God.
And of course this can be a problem in a solitary life.
If you're in a community, your needs will be taken care of.
But if you're living by yourself, you've got to worry about your own needs.
So, it's difficult to maintain that.
The right kind of trust and detachment in that situation.
The cerebroids are the ones who are broken away from the congregations of the cenobites and each look after their own affairs.
Now, so he's got bad cenobites, and those are the cerebroids.
Then he's got bad hermits, whom he doesn't give a name to.
Who are not yet cooked by the monastic formation, and they go out on their own.
So there's quite a neat logical scheme there in Cassian.
Yeah, here they are.
The fourth sort of monks that he doesn't name.
Lately springing up.
Who flatter themselves with the appearance and the form of anchorites.
So, they come from the cenobium, but they haven't been there long enough.
They look out for separate cells and want to remain by themselves alone.
That is, they are provoked by nobody, they may be regarded by men as patient, gentle and humble.
Sounds all right.
Their faults are not merely not rooted up, but actually grow worse.
So he doesn't spend long on them, but that turns up later.
It comes up in the Rule of the Master.
Now, here's Cassian in a more contemplative mood,
talking about the movement from the cenobitical life to the hermitical life, to the solitary life.
This is in the preface to the conferences.
Remember, he's already written the institutes about the cenobitical life.
The institutes of the monasteries of Egypt.
And now, he says, I've been asked to write about the hermitical life,
and the hermitical principles and mentality.
And wherein, just as I had anchored in the harbor of silence,
a wide sea opened up before me, so that I must venture to hand down for posterity
some of the institutes and teachings of these great men, that is, the hermits.
For the bark of my slender abilities will be exposed to the dangers of a longer voyage
on the deep, in proportion as the anchorite's life is grander than that of the cenobian.
And the contemplation of God, to which those inestimable men ever devoted themselves,
more sublime than ordinary practical life.
So that's very much like Cassian, you know, in a lot of his other writings.
The contrasting of the active life, the ordinary monastic life,
with the sublime contemplative life.
And it sounds very much like Evagrius, too.
It is yours, therefore, to assist our efforts by your pious prayers,
for fear lest so sacred a subject that is to be treated in an untried but faithful manner,
the literary bows and scrapes, or kind of wearisome, should be imperiled by us,
or lest our simplicity should lose itself in the depths of the subject matter.
Now, let us therefore pass from what is visible to the eye,
and the external mode of life of the monks,
of which we treat it in the former books,
to the life of the inner man, which is hidden from view.
And from the system of the canonical prayers,
let our discourse mount to that continuance in unceasing prayer,
which the apostle enjoins, that whoever has, through reading our former work,
already spiritually gained the name of Jacob, and so on.
Jacob the wrestler may now gain the name of Israel,
remember, Jacob's new name, the one who sees God.
So it's the movement from struggle to contemplation,
from external prayers to unceasing prayer of the heart,
and from the external monastic man, as it were, to the interior.
Now, he's equating all that with this movement from community life to solitary life.
So you see, he sees that with great depth and kind of fullness,
there's a kind of wholeness about that vision of the movement
from cenobitical life to hermetical life.
However, it's also dangerous, isn't it?
Because the movement from one form of life to another form of life
doesn't mean a spiritual quantum leap like that, does it?
What it almost sounds like is the movement from Old Testament to New Testament,
as you find it in Paul, doesn't it?
From law to spirit, from the exterior man to the interior man, and so on.
So, Cashin is pumping a lot of theology into here,
into this vision of the difference between the community life and the solitary life.
But at the same time, it speaks of the kind of experience
that was in the solitary life in those days in some way.
I mean, there was contemplation there.
There was some kind of luminosity there.
There's a church behind it that can get carried away,
and we can end up, or we did end up in our own world.
That's right.
That's right.
Because you're always operating on two things.
One thing is, what would you call it, the ideal course of development
from a cenobitical life, a cenobitical monk, to a solitary life
where the contemplatively opens up and blossoms.
That's one thing, that ideal development, which sometimes happens, no doubt.
But then you're talking about two institutions.
So, when you idealize that institution
as if it were essentially connected with that development,
it becomes an enormous distortion.
And then you make this one over here inferior,
because it's tied to just this, you know.
And then you make one servant to the other,
and so you've got a very vicious mechanism after a while operating.
So, with Cashin, you're continually running into that thing of the ideal,
a sort of platonic ideal.
It sounds a bit like, from image to reality, the whole platonic dualism,
which is a beautiful thing, but it's also tricky and dangerous
because it tends to distort reality.
So, the beauty of Cashin's vision in theology,
at a certain point, forces you to ask the question,
does it conform to reality too, or is there a danger of distorting reality?
Especially distorting the more humble realities.
This idea of exalting one thing above the other,
and building ladders.
Any questions about that before we go on?
Take a look at the Rule of the Master.
There's more fun there.
I can't imagine how the Master let himself go the way he did
in this particular chapter.
After a while, the good forms of monks seem dull again.
We want to hear more about these fellows.
We're going around exploiting their hosts.
Even the title of the chapter,
he's got his tongue poked way out of his cheek.
The Kinds Drink Conduct and Life of Monks and Monasteries.
Now, that's a weird title for a chapter.
Of monks as is known, there are four kinds.
First are the Cenobites.
Live in monasteries, serve under a rule,
and that's exactly what Benedict's got, basically, right?
The second kind are the Anchorites.
Basically, he's got exactly the same thing Benedict does.
The third kind of monks, the Cerebrites, is the worst.
It's not the worst because the Jairus gets them.
I would do better to call them still of the world.
Very much like what Benedict does.
Now, here's where he really goes.
He starts out by saying,
the fourth kind of monks who should not even be called that,
and about whom I would do better to keep silent.
Then he goes on for five pages.
Then to say anything, they're called Jairites.
They spend their whole life as guests for three or four days.
And there's a movie that goes on three or four days at a time.
And they pretend that they've been taken captive
and they're on pilgrimage, you know,
and that nobody will receive them.
They're outcasts.
And then they stay until the food and drinks start being cut back a little bit,
and then they leave and go on to another place.
Meanwhile, their saddlebags are full of bread and food and things,
and their poor donkey can hardly bear the load.
He goes on and on.
What business has this got being in a monastic rule?
I can't imagine.
That's funny.
And he's got a sympathetic paragraph here about the donkey, you know.
There are three inches here about the poor donkey.
After their pouches have been returned to them,
then their poor donkey is called from the pasture.
The poor thing was enjoying the pasture until the labor of the reason for it.
When it has again been harnessed and loaded
with various tunics and cowls,
which their insolence has extorted from others,
or of which, taking advantage of the occasion,
they have defrauded their various hosts,
they make a show of wearing ragged clothing
so that they can ask for a replacement.
Anyhow, that's that.
And then at the end,
he comes back after he's had his fun with the Jairobegs.
Now, in accordance with our high esteem for the first kind of monks,
the Cenobites, who serve us in probation by the will of God,
let us return to their rule.
And then he's got a part on the teacher, on the orders of teachers.
There are the apostles, the prophets, the apostles,
and then the teachers,
and then the abbot is in the line of the teachers,
and then that feeds right into chapter two,
which is about the characteristics of the abbot.
And that's in line with his idea, his reigning idea,
of the monasteries and school of the Lord's service, you know.
But Benedict has dropped that.
Benedict has cut that out.
De Bogey has got a long treatment
of the changes that Benedict made
in this chapter of the Rule of the Master.
But I think he's a little over-subtle sometimes.
A little maybe too confident of some of the conclusions.
And the reasons for them.
He sees this chapter as playing one role,
having one purpose in the Rule of the Master,
and another purpose in the Rule of Benedict.
But I think that maybe I'm a little bit exaggerating.
Now, for Benedict, it's not an introduction to chapter two
on the abbot, because Benedict has cut out that link, you see.
He doesn't end chapter one talking about the teacher, the abbot.
Rather, it's an introduction to the whole of his rule.
Introduction to the whole of the Rule of Benedict.
Let's see if there's anything else we should mention about this.
But for a solid treatment, I'd refer you to the RB1980, pages 313 to 320.
It seems to be Cassian who introduced the idea of the synovium
as a preparation for the hermetic life.
The hermits are the ones who have come out of the synovium.
Now, he probably drew that from the practice in Egypt,
but there's no sure evidence of where he got it.
Yes, according to de Vogelwey, both in the Rule of the Master and the Rule of Benedict,
community life doesn't have final value in itself, but is a preparation, a school.
The solitary combat goes beyond it.
Next time, let's do chapter two, all right, on the abbot.
And, of course, there you've got a lot of background in the Constitutions,
but I'd rather not give much attention to the Constitutions,
because Father Robert's going to be doing that.
So the two should be complementary.
Any further comments or questions on this chapter before we go on?
It's an important chapter. It'll come up again and again, you know.
Especially when we kind of redefine our life and vocation and try to understand it.
And the movement between community and solitude is extremely important for us.
It needs to be deeply studied.
Of course, as we saw in that article from the Constitutions,
the Comaldes Hermitage has a lot of community in it, especially nowadays.
I don't know how it was 200 or 300 years ago.
It's very different, for instance, from a Carthusian Hermitage,
in which the accent is very strongly on solitude,
and there's virtually no concern of community.
It's almost, I think, as if the community aspect just gave you
a necessary respite and refreshment,
so that you could return to the basic solitary orientation.
Recreations and things like that.
We seem to have a very psychological idea of a lot of these words like community.
I was wondering to what extent, in these ancient sources,
the idea was more of a structured way of life,
rather than a fraternal or nourishing the psychological development of the individual.
We tend to think in those terms, don't we?
Yes, we do.
I was wondering to what extent they had more in mind just structural and material support.
I think, for instance, it depends a lot on how they identify themselves
and root themselves in the New Testament.
For instance, the Pacomian monasticism, using the word koinonia,
the holy koinonia for itself, is rooting itself in something
which is neither, I would say, structural nor psychological.
But, what would you call it?
A biblical reality, or a New Testament reality,
that koinonia itself in the Acts of the Apostles,
which then expresses itself structurally and expresses itself subjectively,
you know, interiorly, psychologically, you might say.
But they had very little concern for the psychological itself, it seems to me.
That is, the Egyptians.
You know, the Greeks are something else.
You take Epagrius, and he's got an enormous psychological preoccupation.
But still, it's different from ours.
And it's much less split from the outside.
I get the feeling quite often when we say
that the community is in preparation for the solitary life,
we think in terms of, in the community, you'll work out all the psychological stuff.
Yeah, yeah.
I wonder how very different that might be from...
I think it's very different.
I think it's a very different perspective from theirs.
And partly, however, because of the interpretive light.
Their interpretive light was theological.
And ours tends to be largely psychological.
But you may be talking about the same things.
In other words, things that they would think of as vices,
we might think of as psychological, as emotional limitations,
or immaturities, or something like that.
But they tended to moralize, it seems to me, and theologize immediately.
And we've developed a space, as it were, a neutral space,
which psychology then comes in and fills.
But at the same time, our theology lost its psychological grip.
You know, something happened so that theology,
almost its edges dried back,
leaving this naked area of humanity,
which psychology then had to come in from a secular point of view
and try to deal with.
But in some way, theology should be able to,
and spirituality should be able to flow into those areas.
But ours became retracted in some way,
withdrew from those areas, abandoned them in some way,
not realizing that it was doing anything.
But it's like the psyche itself almost became excluded from our whole view.
It was spirit and body, and then mind and body.
So there's a whole story there.
So we're in a time of recovery now,
the recovery of the idea of the psyche,
which has its own imbalances.
Okay, well, thank you.
Next time, Chapter 2.