Monastic Spirituality for the Christian in the World

Audio loading...

Welcome! You can log in or create an account to save favorites, edit keywords, transcripts, and more.




Monastic Spirituality for the Christian in the World

Archival Photo



Auto-Generated Transcript

oh are rough first conference have to do with the advantages and fruit of from getting into the rule getting into the benedictine heritage would hope you all convinced to this point now the question is how to get into the rule
oil and it's not just enough a made a bubbly enthusiasm your we want to be rigorous that a great deal with to we want to be rigorous in our exploration of what's really in google this is the first step of classic patristic ceo of before you get into the more me
mystical dimensions of the text you want to know what was really the intention of the author and behind that what are the sources that shaped the author that gave him his language is sense of problems and values etc
so today we want to explore a bit the sources of the rule
this so reminds us that just as we don't want to read scripture in a fundamentalist stick way of much less any subsequent text
and so we shouldn't assume that the rule just was directly dictated by the holy spirit or something like that but that it uses result of benedick interacting with his time interacting with all kinds of currents of monastic thought and primarily scripture pre
feeding him to use jackson images all these stories that were mingled together in a wonderful new combination
for instance it was thought until rather recently that a large kind of clumsy document called the rule of the master was subsequent to the rule of st benedict and it just done some money
feeling a big chunks of text from the rules were bending nodded to quiver away and then to add it all points of inferior stuff and it was a real shock to the world of scholarship and certainly to reddit it needs when scholars are very convincingly that go this rule of the master precedes the rule
visited and it's benedict who's taking large chunks out of the rule of a master not providing them better a kind of
them to a higher level or standard them
but in very much brought home this back it up
in a certain change the rule of synthetic is derivative it's derivative of the whole tradition it's a very conservative document in some ways and others it's very progressive it takes these combinations and elements values from preceding of currents and then read
interpret some ships the emphasis and open realizes quite a new way of understanding them but we want to today to look at the sources then i think most scholars acknowledge roughly speaking to clusters of sources there's the club
two that can be called the community bathrooms or if you want to be very very in a sinner biblical values and the main voices there are two communists and basil and augustan these are three very important monastic writers who stay
dress values such as community liturgy ecclesial service to the surrounding community of hospitality friendship values can be in a very simplifying up way to be called horizontal values decrease
is your values
but then there's a whole other cluster of values that flow into the rule it can be called the solitude cluster or the aeromedical with solitary and they represent especially the sayings from the desert fathers and mothers gap a favorita and the rule of the
we help with another year
for certification good cation who is this great bridge person who comes from somewhere in the middle east goes to the desert to egypt to impound first and these wonderful mothers and mothers of the desert and dabbagh areas and then moves up to france and they're rather later having just
dalglish to monasteries their rights the institute's and the conferences that renders to the west are available all this heritage from the east he also stresses finally yes there is the community life but it simply there to prepare for the culminating moment of
of the monastic or some and that is solid to that in silence that is contemplation of through a rather rigorous self discipline outer and inner the ascetic also quite a different cluster bombs on about who's different instruments and risk
gonna use up musical image and wanted to consult with john reiki beforehand but the question times but it's a to jam community values were your flutes and their of you can very easily harmonize these values in the flute section of community and liturgy appropriate a litter
she has rendered by community and then you go out and you do ecclesial service and no bonding friendship all this works together
and so lovely up flute harmonies there but then we'd got this whole other section here of of the solitary harpsichord and that's also into values that make sense among themselves they cluster nicely of the aesthetical silent a solid solitude leading him
to of deep contemplation
and these two very different streams coming from different places out there and within up flow into the rule i think all the experts are in agreement about this where it gets rather interesting is the domain of debate among them of but when
which does benedict want to predominate which does benedict's see as the culminating values and here you get some interesting sharp debates
at the benedictine college in rome such somewhat there's the famous chair of fun and then again studies and for years the of
genius or their people gay killed that share now he taught very emphatically that for the rule if we read it carefully everything culminates from the communal which is just preparation was kind of elementary and junior high school to the
of higher forms of monastic like which are specifically solitary silent contemplative
and he'll quote something like chapter one talking about the pyramids never chapter one there are four kind of monks then it it doesn't like to let them but he evidently likes to them well what opportunity like as the hermits the second kind or the anchor rights or tournaments those who no longer in the for
sperber of the reformation but after long probation in a monastery having learned by they help of the many brethren how to fight against the devil go out well arm for the ranks of the community to the solitary combat of the desert they are evil now with no help save from god to find single handed against the by
pieces of the flesh their own evil thoughts it's not exactly the full doctrine of publication that they don't just fight against the devil but they are carried into sublime it or contemplation but if obviously pointed in that direction says walking so yes you have community
he and you have bitter g and all these good things hospitality but this is just a proper due to this is just preparation
dave okay successor for that same share an american ambrose wop and said absolutely no you've got an absolutely wrong they will get yeah that and he says know for beverly cleary the primary values that he wants distress are the communal liturgical
hospitality values the other is tolerated but an exception and from welcome quotes the very end of that same chapter in st benedict
synovitis those who live in monasteries and serve under rule and an avid then he talks about the other three passing these over therefore let us proceed with god's help to lay down a rule for the strongest kind of monks the center bites so there you are it's is clear and then if you for all the
way through the different chapters of the globe up it's the same thing there's certain phrases you can argue see they benedict distressing the primacy all oh it's the wine and the other say that to the other but there's another school of scholars and done this i follow and will all onto for whom they say that
it's not just the better they didn't know what he was doing a key quite intentionally juxtapose these two groups of values from these two very rich sources and let them play one against another without deciding the thing and of ideologically without saying gets go
going to be community it's going to be bitter g et cetera will tolerate the rest but only that or without saying in the davao gay line it's got to culminate in solitude and silence and contemplation of your suit serious advanced monk of it it doesn't
to decide the history and just let this flow yeah and i'm very excitingly inter react and of allows that in a particular among the mixture might come out this way and another monkey that way and that tolerated in one community it'll have this series of emphases in another another
and that's part of the marvelous of elasticity of the war
and i think this is kind of a of exciting pieces and it's not just about this it's about larger issues and frankly that very often this will what this will be the way will want to resolve some of dilemmas it might immediately pose themselves as either award one has to be higher than the others
something like that it might be very often if not for be resolved and that of militant way but up in the kind of benedictine way let's see that see what happens today let's see what happens tomorrow and this person in that person in this community if you were listening carefully yesterday and r g yesterday
the and our chapter beating a fascinating when john rankin was talking about bitter tree and then lucia broader questions what if it's difficult sometimes to pray liturgy of and then a giant old talked about whether is silent meditation or prayer there's that whole we were playing out here
in that middle fifteen mere admitted exchange this dialogue exchange debate it's been going on for a well over sixteen hundred years in the in the monastic oh heritage so that it's all about us i think it can be argued that
inside each of us there is a a solitary dimension i mean now and has written eloquently about this up in desert spirituality there's a dimension so intimate so personal to i can't just conform myself to someone else like
the book i'd have to be mean frank sinatra's right in that
and point beyond that no one else can quite respond to the needs the yearnings that that deepest most intimate level only god and this is important even in our interpersonal interaction in are very fine for in our relationships
with close friends etc not to put on that heavy expectation on the other you are going to speak to that deepest solitude to that deepest loneliness can be that that's a level that only god can speak to that only god can embrace
and to acknowledge that and to honor that solitary dimension within is to honor that whole solitary tradition in the monastic and then to allow yourself to be nourished by it by picking up the desert fathers and mothers and reading those wonderful things by picking up cation by
you can have all these voices today of solitude of of personal interior contemplation on osbournes one of the says he started out very much the trappist sin about and slowly slowly feels ever more strongly to snead for the hermitage for solitude for silence
on the other hand use is definitely communal side to us we are born social beings up
within this immediate on into a relationship so powerful that mama and then with daddy and then with the brothers and sisters and than throughout our life of aristotle is right were essentially communal and that needs its expression in our invisible signs in
the actually the liturgy in hospitality in social justice peace and justice issues and up so that's they're also within each one of us within each parish within each diocese so each one of us as to play out this same dilemma that
benedict played out and his own his own particular solution use very interesting not to resolve it again
primary in favor of decide where that side but see what happens and it might be that one is them for a period maybe of ones maybe for years drawn more into the communal just filled with enthusiasm by of liturgical signs and gestures and dump rubric santa you
zinc a novel thing then there might be a period when one is this just doesn't speak to you anymore you just can't do it and there is a mysterious moving into silence into the desert
when just needs to be alone and tough something at a very deep level is happening near that very delicate and then when might be drawn back into the community etc this can happen within the day
and done
but to be open to both of these again without deciding dogmatically for the one or the other
this can be presented schematically in the desert model at the center is the above or the arm of the spiritual teacher father of her mother and then these disciples come to learn from the master and they're kind of white little points out there and each one of them relates direct
aptly to the but you should there's only two or three or four of them but not to each other they don't build up a strong sense of community there but the disciple is just therefore the master and then the other disciple is just therefore the master your anything the bonds them as they have the same master
the still have teams i told in classic model of the indian guru for instance our father bede griffiths the strong point of his ashram in the isn't a communal dimension the koinonia it's rather that have so many different disciples each one in a different ways
able to derive a real wisdom and by giving words from father bead
then there's another model gets almost in reaction to that that comes from st a commis us who wants to institutionalized community and he has large communities and he wants each brother to be in a relationship a fraternity to the other brothers and he also had his none
so each sister with or sisters and the avid can't relate personally to all these people are too many of them but the abbot or the alma and spiritually oversee it or use of the image of the i at the center of this large interconnected circle are overseeing the koinonia
the communion that's quite a different model and up than a very emphatic part of it again if this bond of friendship fraternity
ah between the members of the community and the but there is again there to nourish strengthen the from that
benedict take these two and comes up with a third which will then resembles something like a wheel where the community is still sufficiently small that the abbot can't have or the atlas can have an immediate relationship with each disciple
but it's presuppose that each disciple is also related to each other disciple
if you look carefully chapter seventy two which is wonderful a lyrical our proposal of the value of community community if you look at some of the other chapters about obedience it's very much that one to one relationship with the abbot for it's both hand their the current
county perhaps the best of each or preceded model into our kind of a higher synthesis this is the benedictine hope but at its best it's that
and this is a way this is a middle way that i think characterized as the best for since of anglican spirituality or a roman catholic up in the east of up the buddhist the middle way that isn't just week compromise but tries to get right to the heart of the values of this club
mr over here and right to the heart of the values over here and then bring them together so you got your flutes over here and that your harpsichord over here some of you have this wonderful blue tarps aboard what contrada so much certo sonata checking about ship you put them
together and maybe into all kinds of exciting of counter punctual few contract with a picture there have been kept but it is have something to fuller and livelier than just the one or just the other
and there might be also a tremendous just the psychological wisdom here for the individual and also for the community
there's this lovely book by esther harding was a disciple of young and immediately with you and herself became a very eminent union a psychic energy and she of as i understand the pieces its eventually becoming aware within the individual and within
each community de series so far dialectics of polarities and aware of the energy over here in the left-hand with this poll and but also the energy over here in the right hand with this poll and not just deciding by to suppress these over here to really high
to and free up to use that isn't the way to go the way is to bring these of in some way opposite poles into some kind of fruitful interaction and her thesis is this unleashes in a dynamic is incredible energy within
once the genius is able to say this and also this and bring them into that a coincidence of opposites then you have this kind of nuclear explosion of energy of whether it be the
the feminine dimension and the masculine or the public persona role and that darker hidden secret shadow of or the more outreaching extrovert or the an introvert or the more thinking more the more feeling whenever been of
these polarities to get in touch with both sides and to bring them into an exciting of interpenetration that's when it happens and that's what the ruins done that's what benedict has done some would say about realized what he was doing others would say in quite a conscious way
keeping with hey seasons or to argue that don't in quite a conscious and even systematic way of benedict allows me to very rich a current to flow in and to demonstrate that ultimately they're very complimentary
without consulting it so that's something for yourself to think about up to ponder first of all your own sources of your spirituality of your life was can be an excellent exercise for a retreat would have been the box who been the people the spiritual teachers who really shaped my undersea
what it means to pray what it means to celebrate of to serve and to look at those sources and then to look at how they relate into how they interrelate isn't just a kind of a hodgepodge is it a series of contradictions that i haven't resolved or is it just one
note or a little too
mono color mono total specific wish yes or of can i bring these into some kind of creative interaction in harmony and how is that working
added this particular moment in my more drawn into a this solitary the silent the aesthetical the contemplative or isn't more the communal the liturgical celebrations that social justice etc and if i'm going in one direction does that mean i'm just repressing the other and deny
and it's values or somehow in some kind of said away i'm integrating them and of acknowledging them into expressing them precisely at this moment but that's something to ponder about that it could be that the rule is really a document of wisdom in this regard
how moving than beyond of the heritage and a on these sources as they intermingle the little let's start to look at them with itself it's not a long document show quite a short little document for all its influence on western spirituality
it doesn't take that long to read to sit down and you shouldn't be able to do it in an hour to use zip right through it
and it's worthwhile just don't understand everything that comes after but it is good to have a method in meeting where the methods is to be aware of where this comes from
another method is to work out a hermeneutical strategy and interpretive strategy because it is the case that this document was written almost fifteen hundred years ago it quite a different part of the world for a whole different of historical context different
questions different problems so it just naive to think i'm going to pick us up and it's going to medium speak to me in my context as
it'll class upper middle class intellectual american of the twentieth century of urban prison here you died of something like this there has to be a whole strategy here to claim the documents seriously but to claim it in a way that isn't exploiting the document
and some kind of fundamentalist way and when had or isn't just using it in a boost of ways and the other
here there's two extremes we want to avoid one is just to pick it up and read it and then to a kind of a free association and whatever emotions come up with feelings or first thoughts just go with that of so this is just the kind of location for whatever happens to be that's good enough
but without really coming to grips with but what did bennett eight to ten and what was the situation he was grappling with and what is he emphatically proposing i don't care about that it's just that particular line suggests to me to be out in the fields today so are the out ultimate fields or something like damage that's why
one extreme we want to avoid in reading the rule or any other document including scripture just the loosest of of that kind of just barely touching the rule but claiming somehow they smell of mine has a that when a familiar from
personal touches the treatments and it's now mine
the other extreme attic is the fundamentalist and just to memorize every word and say i'm going to literally and in some kind of immediate way to put that into practice in my life and that's the most serious way to read the rule and to appropriate that also is really to misunderstand the
a rule to not really come to grips with it because of the author himself insists that it's not the matter what he wants to propose especially it is the spirit of them will he is proposing monasticism of the heart to use a phrase and circulating that he also on
authors the outer structure but he offers that in a tentative way and not at all at the same level of importance
so a first way to read the rule is to do some study to try to understand what does he intend for that time
and then to read the parts in the context of the whole this is a marvelous principle also on the reform in leading scripture have to try to understand wonders don't just make a flying leap from that verse to what i read yesterday in or burton oregon
some phrase of vice president quayle the from that
about see what this first signs in the light of the chapter that preceded it in the light of the chaffer that will follow for it all holds together what is the mind be
the gestalt the further kind of whole vision and experience of benedict in terms of with the which the particular wants to be interpreted then to see that there is very definitely there a higher of values it's not that every
thing there is on the same level of importance that is your fundamentalist stick rigging or your decommissioning meeting but it's not even the quantity of the material that will decide it up
but it goes on chapter after chapter after chapter what should be the order of the songs and having gone through that this song will be said that our and that som at that our he ends up saying we strongly recommend however that if this distribution of the songs is displeasing to anyone he should or
arrange them otherwise
at in whatever way he considers better so this is obviously a man to use our breaks buyers who isn't j likes order and structure and but he's also very in touch with his pt he can't know allowed and he can say well it was better for you to rearrange of do it
we are mentioning yesterday about the poor rubbed scrupulous franciscan angry conferences can be
it was about to go on vacations when he was madly going through his office for the next by day so he would upset at all and and he could thoroughly of enjoy your vacation without worrying about it of it's that kind of thing addition to the spirit of the rule very much isn't our own said romeo to founded the canal de said
better to pray one song with devotion than one hundred without so if that kind of approach to the role that we feel is important go for the spirit of the wall and very often benedict himself will give us clues what he thinks is more important what he thinks has been
foundational element and what is simply a later of
disciplinary suggestion that makes sense in that time in that place also that season of the year but wouldn't make sense in another place in another season so he said to one at once he likes order he does by just to kind of chaotically improvised from day
today but on the other hand he knows that the order isn't it's own end of as soon as i can get into what richard program i'm safe or anything like that but the order is simply a means to lead to the goal which is this a loving christ above all things
so the first step of classic patristic becsey your spiritually used to study the text and to ask rigorous questions again what is the intention of the author for that time what are the sources of the office what are the problems is wrestling with where their solutions he's proposing that the for
first step
but we want to go beyond that we don't just want to do us part of an academic study of the text one can do that and be an atheist when can do that and add the greatest disdain for this rule when can be an atheist and apply these principles of interpretation to scripture or two
to any historical document
one of the great scholars and italy have our own command police tradition is an atheist who just thinks it's important to know these things and it's important to understand the middle ages to understand the modern period and he knows quite as much about our own ronald and said peter damian and the hermitage in the monastery in their direction as any
us to it just comes from a different place and it doesn't go beyond that first stage of study but he does that will and we want to do that well we shouldn't up because we're spiritual et cetera neglect that first stage whether it be in terms of the rule or scripture or whatever
but we want to go beyond that to the next step in classical patristic mexico which is that see your first in bexhill been many a topsy or now personally reflecting upon this text fine it was written fourteen hundred and fifty
years ago and was bad but i'm reading it now it must have some consequence for my life in christ how does this text challenge me how does it enable me to grow enabled me to take that next step this is the step that the young atheists or agnostics simply academician
we would not take but we want to take because this is why we're reading the text
in the next step is all right seal it's not just my ruminating on how this challenges me and neighbors medical but then to render this prayer to render this intercession to render this worship of god
if it doesn't get there we haven't gone far enough as christians yet reading the text for our spiritual life
and the final stage is called contemplate seal in latin you add these for a wonderful of next year many talks your rights your hotel black seal it works almost as good in english so study meditation prayer and then contemplation at a certain point in be that these work
words these passengers carry us into the mystery that mystery jack was talking about this morning god transcends any group of words any cluster of human values unique set of symbols
and is the ineffable mystery that's so totally different that you just got to take the wild was leaked to get from the symbols for the words there and did you have to be drawn there on the other hand are certain clusters of words and symbols etc very much help they propose to prepare the heart
and they are words into silence to use the doping frames i think of john me so when we feel drawn from the text into silence to go with that this was suggested in that yesterday morning chapter if you're doing the office alone and if the first as
antiphon suddenly just ball you over with astonishment and ought to stay there that's all right this is much more difficult if you're there enquire if
here is the objective and very healthy discipline of a being church of singing as community but when you're on your own that can happen just maybe a word just maybe before you even get to the word so to allow that well to read also the rule and was so
same way if you're going to redouble or scripture or said augustan or the prayer book or whatever text in the christian tradition it should have these different levels and stages and certainly always be prepared for these higher than what you can make them happen you can't fake it
but certainly you can do the meditation part and certainly you can do of the prayer part
it's nor be best in her wonderful preferring christ a devotional commentary and workbook on the rule of st benedict this up it is a workbook of she has this i can basic inside how are you gonna read the rule we can read it with many other motives and intentions we can read
it out of just you go i want to know something about the womb so i'll know more than others about nine hundred and fifty
much of the american way of study is built on ego you read you study you get into speed reading skills you can read more than others you can retain more than others of bacon said the knowledge is power than not you're on top of it you can control warrior world you got all this stuff comes
in into you on all these data banks you can be of this can be one approach the monastic approach to the rule and seventy descriptors entirely different it doesn't come from his eagle place but from the deeper self that means humility that means reverence that means of
surrendering to the word and somehow mysteriously through these words
are willing to listen rather than just a of willfulness to devour the text to possess it it's interesting to see students on a when a cutthroat campus the hype university of berkeley rushing around with these texts a dutch i'm told they have some pretty vicious
of skills and they'll go off to the library to the reserved section and take out the book that society and he'll rip out the section that the whole class as forced to read and don't take it home and they'll have no one else will have it of it this kind of devouring approach to reading or to television and
film or whatever else the shutter is a reverential approach where thank god others are reading and thank god is text is speaking to others in a deep way now i want to be sure that i dispose my heart so that it can speak to me and some and deeply
so you're being best spacing into a inside i think if it were reading this text not for information not for culture were reading at as lexi ceo were reading up so that it may become for us meditation and prayer and contemplation
such as the structure of it she begins at the top of the page with a lot of significant passage from them rule and darkened free so your to read that and then to good exercise to reread it really to see what speaks to you than she has her comment and there she packs in more that first stage of lexi
no she gives some historical background she discusses what the scholars are saying the benedick intended by that particular passage then she asked her reflection what this says to her and she thinks it might well say to any modern woman or man for their spiritual journey to christ and then she
he has an empty space at the bottom for prayer response than the leader is to personally respond to this in prayer
after the silence so just the structure of the book wants to invite a reading of the rule that is you again one could do the same format with scripture or or with burton or with any text were reading
so this is a up
monastic permanently approach to of the rule this is very much being debated in places like the graduate theological union in berkeley i had the privilege of teaching their seven years and the faculty would anguish when in god's name are we doing are we trying to just help people jumped
through academic and then get pieces of paper and is at the same kind of game that any ah academic campus would be plane which is a very serious king which has its own intrinsic value certainly but if it's just that then
in what sense are we engaging people at the level of faith at the level of theology and it's deeper significance so what the faculty thought as yeah we want to do that first step but we want in all kinds of ways love getting just some
sobbing and touch of i'm disciplined to invite the students and to abide ourselves to journey into those higher levels of theology and spirituality of scriptural studies and went wherever we're doing so this has been debated in any on any serious christian
campus and hopefully in any serious christian of parish or community or family or within the third of each other's
so as mexico thing isn't just a technique techniques sure about control dyslexia thing is a way it's a monastic practice again to render the heart available to the word of god that is thought to speak through this text and she know
oh the war begins just with that exhortation listen my child listen well is lexi method it wants to enable us to listen at all these deeper levels
and so with that we can conclude this conference and then tomorrow go on to looking at the two basic exhortations while the monastic his heritage tours of the rule and we would argue of jesus of just the new testament and in
terms of those two exhortations were like to vector recent that identify to still point the center of the monastic harrison and from that still center than we can look out at the marvelous to the world on