Monastic Spirituality for the Christian in the World

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Monastic Spirituality for the Christian in the World

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The idea of sacred time, Kairos, and today we want to look at the idea that's very related to this, of sacred rhythm and harmony and measure. We go into a specifically musical model, and it's related to time, obviously. A lovely patron saint for all this is the marvelous medieval woman mystic Hildegard of Bingen, and there's this wonderful tape produced by the National Cathedral about her life, about all her gifts that range from being a composer, a musician, a poetess, a theologian, a healer, a visionary, but she uses this image of sacred music, of symphony, to sum up what it's all about ultimately. There's this ultimate harmonious symphony within the Holy Trinity, and the angelic choirs are a participation in this, as they sing the divine praises always, and then creation

[01:05]

has the harmony of the spheres, and we as microcosm, we sing in choir, and we bring all that out. We have that built-in rhythm, metronome, of the heart and of the breathing, that gives us that sense of rhythm that's equivalent to us for life, our very life beat. Well, the monastic choir wants to take all this up and echo it in the monastic harmonies, as we've just heard with the choir of John Renke, and the monastic day and the monastic life also wants to extend this harmony. A Bach scholar said that in a given Bach cantata, there might be four different rhythms happening concurrently, and I think that's a little kind of analogy for our life. Sometimes we have to have four rhythms going at the same time, but we don't want any one

[02:09]

of them to become kind of a jackhammer rhythms, or what do they call it, hard metal. But we want this gentle, contemplative rhythm of plain chant of Gregorian, and we want the rhythm that involves the whole of us, includes every dimension of the human person. There's a kind of a reductionist model of the human person that comes with the Enlightenment that brings us down to mind and body, and thinks of mind very much on the analogy of the computer today, very much the analytic, linear thinking that puts everything in the harsh light of day. And then the body, after Darwin, is that kind of ape body. So you have this model of the computer and the ape, and we end up really kind of schizoid,

[03:11]

because all day long at work we have to intensely be this computer churning out stuff in a very rigorous, logical way, and then when we're absolutely exhausted, we go home and go into our ape mode, and become the playboy or playgirl of the Western world or something. So we're bouncing back and forth between animal and left brain analytic thinking. But the more ancient model, which is there explicitly in St. Paul in the Fathers and Mothers of the Church, has the body, which is extremely important, and the mind, which is, to use the modern jargon, left brain, but also very much right brain for intuition, for insight. And then quite beyond mind, a whole other dimension, spirit, pneuma, which is quite as different from mind as mind is from body, and all of these want to be included and nurtured.

[04:13]

So it's a much richer image of the human person, and the main dilemma, perhaps, of modern life is that, again, it speaks to and kind of feeds, sometimes in an addictive way, those two levels, but entirely ignores the third level. And the rule, among other things, wants to bring us back to an awareness of the full human person, and shape a day, in musical phrase, that involves and has all three of these voices harmoniously singing. I think Esther de Waal has picked this up marvelously in her reflections on the sense of time, the sense of rhythm and balance in the Benedictine day. She writes on page 86, St. Benedict insisted that since body, mind, and spirit together make up the whole person, the daily pattern of life in the monastery should involve time

[05:20]

for prayer, time for study, and time for work. All three should command respect, and all three should equally become a way to God. So prayer, which immediately speaks to and sustains the spirit, and this quite in an extended way through the day, and then Lectio, study, which certainly very much culminates in the spirit, but begins with hard brain work, and then the rest of the day, whether it be in the sleeping, or the eating, or recreation, that speaks to the body. So all three. It is, we jump now to page 92, it is insisting on the acceptance of each element of the person, each member of the community, each activity of the day as valuable and significant in its own right, without encouraging extremism, competition, overactivity, or workaholism. A vision of relatedness binds the parts together in a harmonious whole.

[06:23]

That's a characteristic adjective that keeps coming up. We are brought back once again to the Benedictine ideal of balance. It can be particularly well seen in the pattern of daily activity, the alternating rhythm which holds the main elements of the monastic day together. So it's not, again, just intense workaholism for eight straight hours, but it's this alternating pattern of work, and then prayer, and then eating, etc. And each gives a kind of a space and a breather to the other, and then enables us to take up the other. It isn't that way, unfortunately, with us, and Esther goes into a kind of a confessional thing here. I, on the other hand, feel disorganized and distracted as I am torn between family, and job, and leisure, and the demands of the local community, and the organizations which claim my membership, exhausted with travel and rush, with putting down one thing and picking up

[07:25]

another. So this is mainly, I think, a characteristic of modern life. It isn't that careful pattern in harmony, but it's a kind of a frenetic cacophony. So what can we do here? Should we just, in the intense zeal of a retreat moment, decide, well, I'm going to cut this out entirely or cut that out entirely? Regularly that doesn't work in the longer term. At least the basic components of our life, if we're at all serious, need to stay there. But we can balance them a little more. We can kind of punctuate one element with at least some elements of another, etc. Can I possibly, in the context of the understanding of the rule, try to recognize that each of these elements can play a positive part in my life, that each is good, and that with perhaps just a small amount more of space, of attention, above all, of total attentiveness to the demands of the moment, they might be able to feed and not to drain me.

[08:29]

So each one of these components, if it is valid, can become practice, can even become monastic practice for the monk within, if done with perhaps a little slower pace, with a little more interval, etc. I may find in the rule of Saint Benedict something important to learn from an approach which insists that a holding intention of varying activities can play an essential part in the pattern of positive, creative living. For we need to remind ourselves of this very basic and very modest fact that we are essentially rhythmic creatures, and that life needs this rhythm and balance if it is to be consistently good and not drain from us the precious possibilities of being our whole selves. So this, I think, is a challenge to render our life kairos, and to render our life also harmony, chant.

[09:30]

So now we can shift to the monastic vows, and hopefully it won't be too radical a shift, because also here there wants to be a harmony and a delicate balance, as one vow is the counterpoise to another. We're talking specifically about the monastic vows. The three so-called evangelical vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, they come later. They're an inferior conception of religious vows. The more ancient monastic is obedience, stability, and conversatio morum, which is a particularly mysterious one. The scholars debate what it, in fact, means, but we seem to have a certain sense, well, these three vows are very deeply rooted also in scripture, and I think they are archetypical. I'm going to make that argument, and we should immediately pick up on that number three. Christians are always into triads.

[10:33]

That suggests some kind of a Trinitarian dynamic. So what I'm going to try to do in presenting the monastic vows is relate each one of the vows to a basic New Testament archetype, which is also there in the prologue, and relate also each one of the vows to one of the holy persons of the Blessed Trinity. So it's all a link-up. E.M. Forster says, only connect. That's what we're doing here, to see interconnections. Why spend much time on the monastic vows if one hasn't taken them, has no intention to take them? Well, here again, it might well be that the monk within is interested. And it could be that these monastic vows are just one way to spell out the baptismal vows, which every Christian has made explicitly or through your godparents, and then taken up and really affirmed, hopefully in confirmation, and then every day we're rediscovering the

[11:36]

theology of baptism, that it's not way back then, but it's an ongoing, living reality as something like marriages. You don't just once make your marriage vows and then forget about marriage, but it's something to begin again every day in a joyful and also laborious way. Well, so also with our baptismal vows, so also with these monastic vows. It could be that any kind of vowing is extremely difficult for us moderns, especially in these decades. I don't know how many of you know that book by Robert Bella and his team of sociologists up at the University of Berkeley. He's a devout Episcopalian and also a very committed, serious sociologist of the American scene. And not just, he began by studying Asian cultures, but he wrote this classic called Habits of the Heart, which explores just this fundamental shape of American individualism that he says

[12:39]

were formed into, already in the womb probably, but certainly from our first months and years as we grow up, this basic value of stand on your own two feet, be self-sufficient, be independent, don't be a parasite, have it all together, do it your way kind of thing. And these are strong values, and at their best, they're rooted in the Old Testament prophetic sense of the significance of each person, the uniqueness of each person. We shouldn't just meld into the common mass, but each one of us should stand up, know our own gift, and live it. But if this is lived in a unilateral way, without that counterpoise value of community and interdependence, and a sense of having received so much, if not everything, then it really can lead to an incredible rootlessness, an incredible loneliness and isolation.

[13:44]

He argues, interestingly, that the therapies, which are so important in some ways, can intensify this sense of individualism, just the union process of individuation, can raise some alarm bells here. But he quotes one therapist who, in kind of an agonized way, trying to sum up all his wisdom after all these years, tries to tell a patient, well, in the end, in the final analysis, you're just alone. And he wants to challenge the person to his responsibility, you've got to, you can't depend on mommy or what your spouse has said, you've got to decide what you're going to do. But as a final statement of who the human person is, it's kind of scary, it's certainly not a biblical vision of a plesia, of communion, community. And if you are alone, then this doesn't exactly encourage vows to others, a binding for a

[14:47]

lifetime to others, whether that be the spouse, flesh and blood spouse in marriage, whether it be the three persons in our baptismal vows, or in religious vows, it also involves a commitment, a life commitment to a concrete community. So we've got to be aware of that, and ponder it critically. The basic strategy of the isolated individual is, keep your options open, because you know what works for you today, and maybe what will work for you tomorrow, but things change, you don't know what will work a week, a month, a year down the line. Since we're all addicted, we've all got to take it just one day at a time, and all of this gravitates against a standing up, and with a certain courage and a certain madness of vowing a pledge of one's life to another for a lifetime. So we've got to kind of work against all this grain, which is an alienating grain,

[15:52]

and rediscover that balance, so we can be aware of our own needs and attractions, but also very much aware of that deepest need to perhaps bond with others, and also for a lifetime. There are three vows in the rule. The rule doesn't go on at length much about them, and sometimes in one section we'll speak only of one of these three as kind of summing up and representing the other two. In other passages, two of them out of three. There's only one passage, a brief passage, where he speaks of all three of these vows together, and so we immediately latch on that and say, aha, three vows. He who is to be received shall make a promise before all in the oratory of his stability and of the reformation of his life and of obedience, and that's it, and then it goes on to say about this vowing, et cetera. But it's not as if there's a heavy, emphatic exploration of each vow and how it's related

[16:55]

to another, but that then comes through the centuries in exploring what does this one and that one mean, and there's a consensus that underlying these three vows is simply one basic commitment. It's that fundamental motive and commitment of contrite love, of the prodigal son returning to the father, of listening to the father and then rising up in the son and returning to the father in the spirit. So it's one reality in three, three in one, and hopefully we hear echoes of the Holy Trinity. Let's look now at each one of these vows, see it also, again, with its archetypical connection and then relate it to one of the persons of the Trinity and see if this works. And this, again, a challenge to each one of you to do something analogous with your own

[17:56]

vows. First of all, what are they? And how are they related to the deepest archetypical yearnings and needs of the psyche? And how do they tie in to God, to hopefully our triune God? Well, I think the first vow is obedience. This is one that doesn't please us. Certainly it doesn't make sense to the solitary individual who's his own ultimate authority. But it's basic to the Christian experience. First of all, primarily, we obey God. And when Gerald May says his whole life is a movement into surrender, the whole psychological therapy program can seem like a movement into self-control and self-possession and responsibility, etc. But having done all that, then you need to give it all over in a willing surrender to God.

[18:56]

And this is the fundamental obedience, obediere. And scholars point that this is etymologically related to obaudire, to hear, to listen. That is, the heart of the act of obedience is a listening to God, but a listening that really hears Yahweh, and then Jesus, are always lamenting that Israel doesn't really hear. Because in the biblical sense, to hear is to immediately put into practice, because you truly hear at every level the truth of the matter and the redemptive force of this salvific dabar, this salvific word. So to, as St. Benedict says, you hear and you immediately put it into practice. That's true hearing, that's true listening, that's obedience. So this is archetypical. This goes right back to that first astonished expression on the baby's face when she or

[20:03]

he hears the voice of the mother and is just amazed and listens. Something's happening out there. Someone is invoking, is speaking to me, is calling to me. And the amazing joy of listening. And this becomes Israel's basic vocation, shema, hear, O Israel. So Israel is to be this people that is a hearer of the word. And Israel's sin, precisely, is being a hard of hearing, a falling into, a not listening, not hearing the voice of the shepherd. And so they stray. And so the prophetic cry is always again, listen, listen anew, O Israel. There's this wonderful Hasidic tale of a rabbi, Benjamin or someone, who's slightly screwy and crazy and mystical. But he's there in the synagogue and some other much more respectable rabbi is opening the

[21:09]

scroll and he starts to read, Thus says the Lord. And Rabbi Ben jumps up and down and goes into ecstasy and shouts and pounds his head against the wall. And everyone says, Please, please, rabbi. And besides, we haven't even told you what Yahweh says. But Rabbi Ben says, Just this fact that ours is a God who speaks and that we can hear, this is everything. And in a sense, it is. You don't even have to go beyond that. Somehow it's all in that first moment. So this is our vocation. And this is all comes into Jesus, who comes not to do his own will, but he is the hearer of the Father's will. And then he becomes the word incarnate because of this. And he calls us to be listeners of the word. Karl Rahner, the towering theologian of our time, he wrote his doctrine on this fundamental

[22:10]

capacity of the human person, which isn't just an outer sense organ. But as the rule says, it's the ear of the heart. And it gets down to our basic being. It's not, first of all, a doing, a listening, but our being is open to the infinite, is aspiring to receive that word from the infinite. Karl Barth has a long thing on how the basic organ for faith is the hearing, not the seeing. The seeing will come in the kingdom. Every now and then we see, clearly, as on the Mount Tabor, in the moment of transfiguration. But normally it's a hearing, so we want to do that well. So what's the basic vocation of the monk, and perhaps of every baptized Christian, to listen? We've got to polish our listening skills. And usually there's so much noise around us, and noise within us, that we can't listen.

[23:12]

We can't listen, first of all, to one another. We don't really hear what's in the other person's message. And we can't listen to God. So as you probably know, the first word of the Holy Rule is obsculta, listen. Listen, my child, to your Master's teaching, and incline the ear of your heart. So this is at an interior level. The heart, that center, is a listening. Receive willingly and carry out effectively your loving Father's word. So this is what it's all about, this gift of listening. And this comes right out of the wisdom literature. Let us hear with attentive ears the exhortation which the Divine Voice cries to us daily, saying, today, if you hear His voice, harden not your hearts. We've related this to Kairos. Kairos happens when we hear, when there's that communication through the listening,

[24:13]

and we say, speak, Lord. And this isn't just any kind of word. Ultimately, it's perceived to be this loving voice, this voice of the bridegroom. And then there's this joy, this wonder, as with the child who perceives, intuits the love in the mother's voice or the father's voice. What can be sweeter to us, dear brethren, than this voice of the Lord inviting us? Behold, in His loving kindness, the Lord shows us the way of life. So we are hearers of the word, and ours is this God who speaks. And of course, all these words of Scripture and of creation are finally summed up in the Christ who is living Word of God. And so the fundamental vow, what is it? To be listener, to be hearer of this word. That is to say, not just hear it and forget about it, as we hear so much, and probably

[25:14]

rightly and appropriately forget about it. But hearer and then doer of the word, that's what's presupposed, and that's what obedience is all about. So when Benedict goes on and on about obedience, it's primarily in the rule, obedience to the word of God, for everyone. First of all, for the abbot, he's very insistent on that, and for the whole community. And then obedience to the rule. Benedict establishes really this revolution, he's not the first, because there's all these rules floating around, but it was a time when these legislators saw that we've got to legislate these things. You had these charismatic abbas and ammas out in the desert who had virtually total control over their disciples. This could be a control in the spirit and totally inspired, but the danger there was into a misguided leading. And this is one of the dangers of our own time, we've got all kinds of gurus and spiritual

[26:16]

teachers out there, Jim Joneses and Reverend Moon, etc. We need some rules that these spiritual guides feel in obedience to. And we also, perhaps also, are the inner abbot who directs our own inner community, needs a rule of life so that it doesn't get too totalitarian. This is the problem of the classic superego, or any leader of a parish community or of a family, when authority and power becomes not service that enhances, but oppression. But if there's that hearing, if there's that listening, that obedience, first of all, by the guide, the leader, the abbot, then it can work out in a healing and enhancing way. When we hear the word, what happens?

[27:18]

Well, we rise up. Again, it's like the prodigal son who hears that word inside, oh my God, my father, my father's house, all that love there, all that food there, and he's there in the mud, and he rises up, and he stands, he takes his stand. And that moves us to our second vow, monastic vow, of standing, stare, which is etymologically a tie to this vow of stability. So take our stand where? Well, on Christ, in Christ, he is our rock, that wonderful teaching of Christ. Don't be like those who build their house on the shifting sands, but build your house on the rock. The rock that is the gospel of Christ, the rock that is our confession of who the Christ is, that's when Peter is called rock, the rock who is Christ himself. The church's one foundation is Christ our Lord kind of thing.

[28:21]

So as who do we hear in the first vow? Well, it's primarily the first person, father, the primordial father, the primordial mother, who speaks that saving word. And we hear that word, which raises us up in the word, and we stand in the word in Christ. And so we fulfill that second vow, which is stability. This wants to be simply a response to God's faithfulness, God's faithful hesed, loving stability, a loving commitment to us. As Jack said this morning, Christ isn't one who makes contact and just abandons his own. If there's been a contact, if there's been a word spoken there, then God on God's side will be faithful. The only question is, will we on our side respond in faithfulness, in steadfast love?

[29:24]

And if we do, that's simply the substance of stability, fidelity to love. It's stability of heart, and it's first of all to God, in response to God's, again, steadfastness to us. And then it's steadfastness specifically for the monks to a concrete community, not to four walls, not to a geographical place, but to a community. And it's also faithfulness to oneself, to not run away from all those inner needs, all that inner woundedness, those inner yearnings, and also the inner darkness, to be there and to take our place there. There's a lovely book out on St. John's College called A Sense of Place. And I think the title is marvelous, because if you've ever been to St. John's College, it is definitely there, and it's unlike any other place in its architecture, but I think

[30:29]

also in the inner dynamic of the community, there is a sense of place there. It's not a, who said to Oakland, there's no there there, but that can often be the characteristic of our secular city, of our coming and going, of our suburbs, there's just no there there. But we need to establish a still point where we can take root, where there is a there there. It was, what's his name, Pythagoras who said, give me a place to stand that I will move the earth. He had this terror of everything shifting, everything relative, and so there's not, I'm paralyzed, I'm just shifting, I'm just trying to hold on in the middle of a number eight earthquake. But if we can find that solid place for good, then we can start being movers and shakers.

[31:32]

Scott Peck says the substance of love is steadfastness, is just fidelity, is just being there day after day, just showing up and being trustworthy there. And going through the hard and the dark places and coming out on the other end, Bonhoeffer says the key moment of breakthrough in community life is disillusionment, when I'm not longer just projecting my ideals of what this person and that person should be and relating to those projections, but really relating to those concrete persons and to the wounded problematic we that is rendered there, and not running away and staying there. Taylor says that this monastic stability has its direct counterpart in a matrimonial stability.

[32:36]

It's the very same thing in some respects. In other respects it's really different, but this thing of a lifelong fidelity through thick and thin, through sickness and health. The Benedictine vow of stability is a vow to a community of people rather than to a place. In this sense it is a marriage by which the members of the monastic family bind themselves to each other for life. Such a vow is directly translatable to any other relationship of love, but especially to family love. To be a husband, daughter, mother, brother, or wife is to live in a lifelong relationship to others. So this is the challenge, and again so much militates against it. So this is a heroic virtue. We can only live in the paschal mystery, and so St. Benedict invites us to hear this word, and again this word raises us up, let us arise then at last, for scripture stirs us up saying

[33:40]

now is the hour to rise from sleep. And when we rise then to be there, thus never departing from his school, but persevering in the monastery according to his teaching until death, we may by patience share in the sufferings of Christ, and so deserve to have a share also in his kingdom. So it is paschal, it is suffering and death. Jesus is nailed there to that cross, and we're nailed to that community, to that other, and to be there faithfully, to not run away. There's a very, well, just psychological level to this. So many people get into this mobility, not in a healthy sense of a dynamic, but in a sense just of fleeing from one thing to another, and bouncing from one spirituality to another, from one therapy method to another, from one whole gestalt to another.

[34:41]

But to come back home, and to be able to stay there finally, that's the good news. And it's just ultimately theological, because God is here. We're talking about, suppose there's, suppose inside in my heart, which is the only home I can have, there is darkness. Well, at the heart of that darkness is God, because God is here, he may be there also, but if I can't find him here, I won't be able to find him there, even if it's sunny over there and there's a happy party, apparently. But if I'm not able to encounter him here in that inner darkness, I won't be able to encounter him there in that outer light. This is a wonderful quote from Anthony Bloom that Esther de Waal cites. What is it then to be stable? It seems to me that it may be described in the following terms, you will find stability at the moment when you discover that God is everywhere, and that you do not need to seek

[35:47]

him elsewhere, that God is here, and if you do not find him here, it is useless to go and search for him elsewhere, because it is not God who is absent from us here, it is we who are absent from God here. It is important to recognize that it is useless to seek God somewhere else. You cannot find God here, you will not find God anywhere else. So that's the challenge, and we just have to live, T.S. Eliot says, teach us to sit still, because it has to be a basic invocation and a petition of our time. Maybe we can even pray it on our intentions today. Teach me to sit still, R. St. Romuald says, sit in your room as in paradise, it's all here, the walls will teach you everything you need to know.

[36:47]

So this is the second vow, my heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed, Psalm 57. So, that's what hearing the word leads to, we then build our house on that word, and we finally attain stability. However, if we are just stable, fixed, this can get us kind of bogged down, stuck in the mud, more of them even. So there has to be this counter-punctual reality and pull to the Christian life and to the monastic life, and that's in this mysterious third vow, which in the Latin is condersatio morum, which they translated in the St. John's version there as conversion of life, so it's directly related to our metanoia, our conversion, that basic disposition of heart in response

[37:51]

to that basic cry of our Lord, repent. But it gives us the dynamic in our life. It means that every day we open up our life anew to whatever will come today for the monk, it's specifically in that context of the monastic community, the monastic needs, which will be different today than yesterday, of the ongoing challenge of life, for a married couple it will be in the new adventure of today, for a person single in the world, the same, but it's that other value that wants to bring in the spiritual, the pneumatic, the energy, the force towards the new. And this gets us into that other very, very deep archetype of the journey of, T.S. Eliot says, we must be still, and still journey. So it's that paradox of both and, embraced here in listening to the word, which gives

[38:54]

us stability, but which also moves us on, it's both and, especially as we hear that word in the spirit. And so here we relate to that fundamental archetype of humanity, of the journey, all those journeys of the Odyssey or the Iliad, or all these tribes that move from one place to another. Our own greatest and only novel in America, according to some scholars, is what? It's Huckleberry Finn, it's that wonderful tale of a boy with a black slave, and they travel, and it's the journey down the river that teaches them everything. Then you have the journey of Dante in the Divine Comedy, the journey way down into the depths of hell and then up through purgatory into the light. But this journey archetype is just fundamental, and we need it to give a dynamic to our life.

[39:58]

And then of course in Scripture, Scripture is all this series of journeys, starting out from our father in faith, Abraham, who sets out, leaving his fatherland, motherland, and journeying forth to the promised land. And then Moses takes up this theme again, and Israel in exile takes it up through the return to the promised land. It's like some kind of fugue that takes up the same theme again and again. And then Jesus in Luke, his whole earthly ministry is presented as this journey, as this Passover journey to Jerusalem. And then in the Book of Acts, this breaks forth and moves beyond this little holy land into the whole world, and Paul and the Apostles journey out. And so we have to live our journey, and that's done in the Spirit, and that again I think corresponds rather nicely to this third person in the Trinity, who is the dynamic force.

[41:05]

We walk in the Spirit, indeed we run in the Spirit. And so the rule invites us also to this dynamic dimension of the life. Having our loins girded, therefore, with faith in the performance of good works, let us walk in his paths by the guidance of the gospel, that we may deserve to see him who has called us to his kingdom. It's all here, it's wonderful, Trinitarian, but we're walking by the guidance of the gospel, also the Abbot, all of us. That's that first avow of listening, of obeying, and then we return to the kingdom. And so it's an ongoing walking that's, we better do it now while we still have time. Run while you still have the light of life. So now it becomes this running, and finally it's a running that's not just urgent, in a kind of almost a scared sense, but as we've heard this text before, as we advance

[42:12]

in our religious life and faith, our hearts expand and we run the way of God's commandments with unspeakable sweetness of love. So this is finally what it comes to, this running. And where are we running? Well, we're running back to the kingdom, back to the primordial Father, the primordial first person of the Trinity, Mother, who then, having uttered this all forth, then fulfills it all. And so the whole thing has a Trinitarian dynamic to it. And this directly corresponds to all of salvation history, which has this Trinitarian dynamic to all of liturgy. Now, Vagagini, the great Benedictine theologian of our own time, an important voice in Vatican II, he notes this Trinitarian dynamic to all of salvation history, why everything comes forth uttered from the Father, but through the Word. It all is according to the wisdom of God, and in the Spirit from the very beginning.

[43:17]

Remember the Spirit mysteriously hovering over the waters. And then we are now, what, in this phase with the Incarnation and suffering death and resurrection of Christ, of returning through Christ, through the Word, in the Spirit, to the Father. And again and again, this invocation, this doxology is there in the epistles of Paul, in one way or another, in the whole shape of what's happening in the letter to the Hebrews. We now, with our high priest gone before, we in the Spirit return with Christ into the bosom, into the ineffable mystery of the Father, Word into silence. And this reflects the ultimate mystery of it all, the inner life of the Trinity, because we know that outer salvation history and liturgy, which is this offering of the gifts and of Christ and of our own life in the Spirit, the Epiclesis, to the Father, this then is

[44:24]

an outer and visible sign, our history, salvation history, liturgy, Eucharist, of the inner life of the Trinity, where everything comes bubbling forth from the immense, limitless creativity of the first person. And it comes forth in this fullness, such an infinite fullness, that it's established as another persona, the Son, who rejoicing in the Father, this mutual rejoicing and exultation is in its fullness, the third person of the Spirit. So coming forth, rejoicing, returning, this circumcession, this dynamic within the life of the Trinity is expressed in this outer and visible sign of our lives, our flesh, our body, our history, our liturgy, and hopefully our vows. And it's all this return to the Kingdom in the Spirit. Amen.

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