November 10th, 1995, Serial No. 00133

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Rule of Benedict Novice Class # 1 - 1990s

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I was just looking at the Code of Canon Law for the Canon Class Stability, but it's mixed in with the other elements about religious thoughts. Okay, this is our final session, and our subject, our specific subject is stability, but that won't take all of our time this morning, and so if there are any questions or things you want to discuss about the whole subject as we conclude, why don't we do that this morning too. First of all, I won't give you first the places in the Rule of St. Benedict, because what we're reading is Benedictine material, and those will come up immediately, but the places in the Canal of these Constitutions about stability are Chapter 1, Number 10. The monk acquires stability with his simple profession. There's a bit of a paradox there, because stability, it goes on to say, creates a special bond between the monk and the community. It also commits him to the ongoing practice of conversatio monastica, but what's been


translated as ongoing in the Italian is really permanente. So the fact that with a temporary profession you acquire stability, like you make an explicit vow of stability, which has a permanent sense to it, is a paradox that's written in there. In fact, the relationship between temporary profession and solemn profession has never been entirely clear, has never been entirely clarified. Marmion, for instance, said that he felt that the genuine profession was the simple profession, the first profession, the second was only a ratification of it. But since Vatican II with the renewal, the center of gravity has been shifted so that the temporary is conceived more as temporary, more and more as temporary, and the real profession, the genuine total commitment is conceived of as a solemn profession. So as you can see, there's a bit of fluidity and uncertainty there. As soon as you have two professions, you're going to have them. And isn't that even in terms of the vote, like for ourselves, the simple vote, the simple


profession, is it a consultative vote? I've forgotten now. I think it is. I think entry to the novitiate is the deliberative vote, isn't it? And simple profession is a consultative vote, solemn profession is, I believe, a deliberative vote with two-thirds majority required. Does anybody know about that? I think that's what it is. Because it's gone back and forth, it's been changed, and I think that's how it finally settled out. Which is a little strange, you see, it doesn't sound quite right to me for simple profession to be a consultative vote. But somehow they felt part of it had to be consultative, but the community, it seems to me, should have a deliberative say in each of those very important votes. Because temporary profession is really a pretty solid incorporation in the community, and that person can't be sent away for some trivial reason. So the community should be able really to decide that, it seems to me. As a matter of fact, however, the consultative vote will hardly ever be gone against by the


community. So in effect he can make it a deliberative vote, and in effect usually does so. So stability does two things here. It creates a special bond with the community, and it also has a time, that is, a permanent significance to it, the beginning of a permanent commitment, whatever that means. In juridical terms, stability confers rights and duties upon the individual members in the entire community, in accordance with the Constitution. So that's all spelled out elsewhere. So stability flows into everything else. The other place where you find it, there may be more, is number 147 in the profession formula. We've looked at that already, so we know what that is, when we studied the profession formula. Now that's in both profession formulas, isn't it? Both simple profession and solid profession, whereas poverty and chastity are only in the first one. Okay. There's an appendix, you remember, in the R.B. 1980, which treats each of the vows.


So at the last moment I remember that it treats the stability, too. It's pretty handy for gathering together the solid elements in the Rule of St. Benedict which relate to stability. It does it in a more concentrated way than the Consider Your Call text does. The R.B. uses this term stability in four other places. 478, remember, that's the chapter on the instrument of good works, and where it says, we'll run into that phrase, but stability in the community, let's see, the community is a workshop, remember, where you're going to, the monk is going to remain stable there until death, persevering until death, using these tools. The word is there. We'll find the exact phrase. And then in chapter 58, 60 and 61, which are about incorporation of people into the community, especially 58, that's the acceptance of new members. And you remember that the monk promises stability during this novitiate time. There are a couple of times when the Rule is read to him and he once again makes a promise


of perseverance and stability. And for St. Benedict, stability and perseverance mean the same thing. Stabilitas and perseveratio basically are the same thing. And perseverance is conceived of as perseverance and obedience, particularly. That seems to be the active member there. So the basic meaning of the concept of stability is perseverance. It's also in the Rule of the Master. Often they've said, and also I've said, I think, that St. Benedict almost invented stability as a monastic commitment, but he didn't. As is pointed out here, it was also in the other sixth century rules, even if not explicit in the earlier legislation. And it's strong in the Master. It would be nice to write a doctorate dissertation on stability, but actually it just means to stay put. So at least they can spin off a few pages anyway.


Following the history of it, it just means to stay put. That's what John will do. And it comes out of the context of these wandering monks, remember, in the early monasticism. Now the wandering monks were not all bad. In fact, that's a very creditable, can be a very creditable practice, and it still is, you remember. And like Hindu monasticism, revived by Abhishek Tananda and B. Griffiths on the idea of the sannyasi. B. Griffiths actually integrates it a lot, tames it, domesticates it a lot, but Abhishek Tananda still had it in the raw form of just a wandering, homeless monk. They would just settle down, I guess, for the rainy season, when you couldn't travel, the rest of the time you'd be moving around. And remember, the Irish monks were particularly prone to that. And a lot of the missionary work in Europe, early missionary work, was done by monks who left their own country and then traveled and settled somewhere else, started a monastery. That's a different context.


You see how much the context determines the form of life? Even with Saint Ramana, when you've got a missionary territory there, and the possibility of martyrdom, and a very dangerous situation for preaching the Gospel, that changes the, what would you say, changes the shape, the expression of the monastic commitment very often, something like that. We can't conceive of these things as just being fixed forever, and one form being the absolute. It's interesting, too, that we talk about stability, and we talk about it in the context both of Roman Catholicism and of Benedictine monasticism. Now, if there's anything that's institutionally stable, it's Roman Catholicism, isn't it? I mean, that is like the, what would you say, the stone of stability, the rock of Peter, in a sense, is the stone of stability for the whole of the Christian organism. And then inside that, Benedictine monasticism, with its commitment to stability, and the fact that monasteries themselves, institutionally speaking, last for a thousand years sometimes,


you know, like Tei Kamaldi or something like that. So there's nothing more stable than a monastery, and you can say, I won't say entirely within the Roman Catholic world, because it's true also of Eastern monasticism, isn't it? You have many thousand-year-old or fifteen-hundred-year-old monasteries over in Eastern Christianity. So I don't want to exaggerate that. But in Catholicism, the institutional dimension is more than just the local community. It tends to have a larger sway than that. And just the way that religious orders and things are created in Roman Catholicism, and then remain perpetual institutions, is kind of unique. Benedictine thing is a little different from that, but it tends to, what would you say, fall into that form after a certain time in history. The insistence in the epithegma to the desert monasteries on staying in the cell shows that


the spiritual concept is very ancient. Also, St. Romuald picked that up, didn't he? Remember, stay in your cell. It used to be said, stay in your cell and your cell will teach you all things. But exile and wandering as ascetical practices were widely accepted, giving up your home and moving into a strange place. And that, I'm sure, was conceived of as following Jesus, who was really itinerant. But by the 6th century, wandering monks had a deservedly bad reputation. Remember how the Rule of the Master does a kind of satire, doesn't it, on the wandering monks? And they're drinking and they're feasting and so on. They get up in the morning and they're so loaded, their bowels are full and they can hardly climb onto their beasts, who have insisted their beasts be fed to before they'll go. To avoid these pitfalls, Benedict requires that the monk observe Christ's teaching


in the monastery until death, not only remaining physically in the synovium, but persevering and living the monastic life there. The later distinction, the distinction between stabilitas loci and stabilitas cordis, stability of place and stability of heart, quite a beautiful distinction, actually. I remember what did, I'll think of Graziano's proverb later on. Graziano is the court jester at Camillo. Oh yeah, conversio morum and stabilitas loci. So he talks about stabilitas morum and conversio loci. I forget what we've pinned that on to as being the motto. That is, stability of matters, non-conversion and mobility of place, moving around. Then at the end of chapter four, the workshops are employed in that workshop, the tools are


employed in that workshop, which is the enclosure of the monastery and stability in the community. So, the enclosure of the monastery is this physical stability, stabilitas loci, a cluster of monasteries. And stabilitas in congregazione, stability in the community, means stability in the personal community, in that group of people, and to persevere in living that life among them. Above all, it is perseverance and obedience, for this is the primary characteristic of the synovite. The two elements go together, the place and the life that goes on there, and stability includes both. So St. Benedict's notion of stability is not satisfied by a purely juridical bond to a monastery. One has to really submit oneself in obedience to the regime, to the way of life of the monastery. On the other hand, passage to another monastery or to the hermetical life is not condemned by the rule of St. Benedict. Remember where he talks, in chapter one, he talks about the monks who after long practice in the monastery go forth into the solitary life.


So, right there, he's recognizing a legitimate transition to the hermetical life without a violation of stability. Somewhere, our constitutions point out that that is not, especially from the Comaldi's perspective, that's not an abandonment of stability, but an intensification of stability, because it's meant to go deeper into the basic commitment, the basic monastic commitment, as if you were going closer to the center. St. Benedict's view can scarcely have been different, therefore, than that of Cassian, for whom the synovium is, in principle, the apprenticeship for the desert, the apprenticeship for the solitary life. Okay, now we have our text from Consider Your Call. Remember, this is the commitment that was considered first in that book, right after talking about profession in general. And right after talking about the question of the possibility of permanent commitment today. And even the idea of permanent commitment is stability, isn't it?


The idea of vows, the idea of profession. That's already about stability, even though it's not conceived in terms of stability of place, perhaps. It's not spelled out at that point. So, he goes through much of the same discussion that the RV1980 did, about the meaning of stability, and the role of St. Benedict, and divides it up into three different layers. Actually, this chapter I find a little less satisfactory than a lot of what we've been doing. I don't think it's as deep in ways, and it tends to drift a little bit. For instance, as compared with the one on poverty that we just did, or the one on celibacy. It may have been done by somebody else, or he may have had a bad day. Personal stability. And that means amongst stability in his search for God. Because you can think of stability in terms of what he calls personal stability, or spiritual stability, or stability in the resolve, in the search for God, in the basic monastic


commitment. You can think of stability in terms of a community, of a group of people. You can think of stability in terms of a place, a monastery, in a given place. And the three of them somehow go together. One is just nested inside the other. You can also think of stability in terms of a congregation, because formerly, before the renewal, before the new constitutions, we made our stability our, first of all for the Communities congregation, secondarily for a particular congregation. Now it's reversed. And the reversal has to do with our entering the Benedictine Confederation, with our conforming ourselves more to the Benedictine pattern, which gives the importance to the local community rather than to the congregation. See, in Benedictine history, the local community comes first. The local monastery is the basis. And congregations come later on, are a secondary phenomenon. They don't have the same importance, the same authority as the local community. And a third level is the Benedictine order as a whole, as it is conceived, with an abbot


primate, for instance. That's a late invention. That only happened in the 19th century. So it's built from the ground up. If you compare it with later congregations, later congregations that start with a kind of centralization, and also you don't even have a stable local community, in the sense that people will be moved by the provincial or by the prior general, let us say, with dialogue matters, of course, from one community to another. So you don't have a group of people which lives there for their whole lives. They move in and out. So the monastic thing is very interesting from that point of view, the way it comes up out of the ground. The way it gives the importance, gives the weight to the local living unit, which is conceived almost like a family, that is, a lifetime unit of some kind, close to the earth, close to the ground. So that's very significant. When you start talking about a revolution, a movement back towards the root, back towards the earth and things like that, that becomes quite significant. The vow of stability can put it into legal terms, which may sound repellent, but the whole thing is very worthy of respect when you look at later history.


The whole thing of getting back to the earth and getting back to a dedication to the particular, to a particular piece of earth with which you identify, and a particular group of people, a village, your own village in a sense. I think of Wendell Berry and people like that, who go back to the soil, and to the particularity of a particular soil, a particular farm, and marry themselves to that. Because so much of our present agony has to do with lack of rootedness. Communal and geographical. Let's see. At the end of that section on personal stability... Stability of heart is first God's gift to man, and when a monk vows to do so in response to the abiding faithfulness, that must be abiding faithfulness of God. If you see that, it needs to be changed. In other words, the idea is that, instead of... Remember that whole question before, in the earlier part of the chapter,


can you make a permanent commitment? Well, you can if God gives you that. If God gives you a permanent commitment, then you can make it. And the permanence of your commitment, just like the permanence of commitment in marriage, is somehow based upon an act of God. Somehow based upon something in God and something that God does. God does an act, as it were. An act which has stability, which has permanence, which has fidelity about it. You participate in that act, and that is your response. You have to feel that. You have to be convinced of that in order to do it, even if not explicitly. Okay, communal and geographical stability. There are various texts in the world where stability clearly means stability of place. A monk is a member of a particular monastery in a particular community, place and group. Clerics will have to remain in the monastery. So will monks who come from another community. And then the end of chapter four, as we saw.


Perseverance in the monastic life normally involves permanence in the same community and in the same monastery. The monk will share the geographic stability of that community. The emphasis in the rule is not on the material dimension of stability, but its spiritual dimension. And then the question of absences. You can note a certain discomfort with too absolute conception of stability, which is natural enough on the part of the authors. Stability is basically a faithful and shared experience of life, of which physical presence is a normal but not indispensable sign. It's possible to remain within the monastery and still be unstable. That's, of course, stretching the language a little bit. A person can be so preoccupied with his own work, or just have his heart set on something else, that he's really not there, only there physically. At a time when inherited structures are changing,


the real ground of stability becomes clear. It is a belonging to the people who make up one's own community. And especially true for the sentimental life, but not only. Genuine belonging demands continual conversion of heart for the sake of trust. I suppose this is true in a marriage, too. The analogy of marriage is pretty helpful throughout most of this. The real enemy of stability is not moving about, but personal alienation. It sounds like it was written by somebody who moved about. And especially the alienation, which is not a passing pain, but a rigid habit. To be fixed in a personal hardness, to label people. This produces what is not stability, but staticness. The community can disturb its growth and conversion in its members by labeling people, by not expecting them to change it, by not believing it when they have. We can really do that. Notice that we seem to be digressing a little bit from the issue of stability here.


What's he saying? He's saying that stability is really a function of change. And the enemy of that change, which stability is for, is a certain static quality, a certain freezing. A freezing of oneself, maybe through attachment, through diversion of heart. A freezing of others through a kind of judgment and labeling. Like, remember when Jesus comes into Nazareth, they say, where did he get all this? No, we know who he is. Nothing good can come from Nazareth. Or how can he be anything? How can he be the Messiah? We know who he is. That's dedication to the static, to non-movement. Incarnate love for one's own community is not the same as an unrealistic idealization of it. Remember Martin writing about Gethsemane and the seven-story mountain. Or a sense of superiority with regard to others' community, even though ours is obviously better. Stability implies a total acceptance of it with all its shortcomings.


And then, not as an unchangeable or static thing as... These are obvious things, a kind of litany of the obvious here. The sacrament of divine mercy in his life. This part here about need for one's brothers is good. That to be converted is to realize our poverty. To realize our poverty is to realize our need and to be open to receiving from others. And a lot of us have a problem with that. People who come to a community like this, a community which offers solitude, probably the last thing they want in the world is any kind of openness to other people, or any kind of dependency, any kind of need involving other people. They may really want strongly to be self-sufficient. But when we become self-sufficient, we can easily close ourselves to God. Only the poor man can grow rich in the gift of another. He needs his brothers to express his love for Christ. He needs them if he is to hear the word of God proclaimed. He needs them in order to communicate and share the word of God,


which he has himself received. To express his love for Christ, remember Brother Philip and how he brought out a good deal of the love of Christ from a number of people. And the need for some geographic stability. This kind of thing needs reflection. It's not immediately obvious. And we grow up in another kind of mindset, that's for sure. So what possible use can there be for geographic stability, for remaining in one place? There's so much unrootedness today. Being at home in the world implies a certain rootedness, grafting onto the local scene. Here he is referring to Gabriel Marcel, the personalist philosophy which came up, was referred to at other times. A tree often transplanted does not bear fruit. Now, this is something, as I say, which we have to reflect about. And it's not so easy to reflect about it, perhaps, when you're young, because you don't have the experience of both, of both the stability and the instability. When we're young, we have a lot of movement.


We go to school and we work here, work there. We move out of the family. It's a time of transitions and movements. I think of analogies, like somebody starting a work and then stopping and starting another work, or starting a work and then having to move it somewhere and start it all over again. Or starting a business and then having to shut it down and start it up again, and then make all the connections again, and build up the whole thing again, get the thing going. Any process which you interrupt like that. Now, to what extent is our life that kind of a process? To what extent is our life like, say, building a house, where you begin to build and then you say, No, I don't want it here. And you go to a place with a better view, and then you start to build it over again. And each time you do that, you're somehow losing what you've done. To what extent is our life that way? Or to what extent do we carry along with us what we've achieved within ourselves in the earlier place? To what extent are those long-term bonds necessary for our growth?


Another analogy that the Jungians like is the idea of the alchemical vessel, the alchemical retort or crucible, which has to be a strong container in which the heat and the pressure can build up so that the transformation can take place. So if you open the vessel, or if you break the vessel, or obviously you take the contents out of one vessel and put them in another, well, the place, the situation is a kind of vessel for you. So to let the pressure build up to a certain extent, and then, when the pressure becomes uncomfortable, to leave and go somewhere else and start all over again can be really to interrupt the process and bring you back to zero. Now, there are lots of images and metaphors for this, but you have to reflect in yourself and decide to what extent each one is true, to what extent each one is really applicable, because it's easy to make these metaphors about the process. And we know of cases where people have stayed in the same place for 40 years and seem to have gotten over, seem to be in a sterile state.


So stability by no means implies necessarily growth movement, that the process is going to go anywhere. There's a lot more to it than stability. But to what extent is stability important? I think that's true. Just in my experience in diocese, you know, like, you get into a parish, it takes a while before you get to know people, and you get to know the scene, you get things going, and they're going really well, and whoop, you're uprooted, and it's all over again. It's like, there's something that's not right about that. And to what extent is stability necessary for depth? In other words, to what extent is life for going deeper, say, in relationship or in anything else? And to what extent, in order to go deeper, do you have to stay in the same place? As if you were going to build a hole, you know, and then you say, I don't want to build it here, I'm going to put it... So you go over and you have to start again, and you never get deep because you have to move your hole all the time. To what extent is life like that, spiritual life, let's say? I think relationship is that way, okay?


Because when you relate to a person, it takes a while to build up trust, and it takes a testing, you know, and you have to have maybe some fights or some disagreeing, you have to have some tension, you have to go through some things together before you really know that person, and before the love that must be built on knowledge, the love and trust that have to be built on knowledge before those can be laid down and built, you have to know that person for a while. And there are so many broken relationships, and a continual succession of broken relationships in this world. So I think that's probably true also for spiritual life. It's hard to know from within one's own experience because we only have one experience, therefore we can't really compare it with another. We're only inside one experience. We look at this one from inside, we look at the others from outside. Unless we've had a lot of pastoral experience. If we know a lot of people, for instance, if you've been a spiritual director for 40 years, maybe you can say, I can see that this person grew, and they stayed where they were, and they grew through that, and they've really developed.


Whereas this person kept avoiding, doing what Robert calls the geographic, to go somewhere else and try, because it isn't working, and didn't get anywhere. But in our world at present, there's so much of a, what do you say, a battle between surface and depth, that everything tends to turn into surface. Our culture tends to pull everything out, uproot everything and turn it into surface, flatten it out into surface. Surface is translatable into instant experience, it's translatable into the pages of newspapers and magazines, to the TV screen, to sprawling, urban sprawl, development, all kinds of surface that there are. People drawn out to the surface of life, drawn out to the TV program and so on, they're just there, right at the surface of life. And they have to have a continual moving surface, and life being like that, even in the sexual area, even the area of relationship, in all kinds of ways. As if life were a continual succession of experiences


on the same level. And our culture is always trying to do that, because that stuff is marketable, because that's what makes the economy go, I think. You can sell surface. In fact, you can get people addicted to surface in every possible way. And so much of our business is about, in the States, is about generating surface. Or maybe moving over surfaces, too, in automobiles, you know, vehicles, and a new one. But, now what's the other dimension? The other dimension is depth. And what do we mean by depth? Well, we can only answer that intuitively, and somehow out of our experience. But there is something else. In fact, you can forego, renounce almost all of that surface and not lose anything. And you realize gradually that as long as one is stuck to that surface, there is no meaning. Meaning is a question of depth. Meaning is a question of interiority. Meaning is a question of the unity of experience, and of life, so that gradually it emerges. There's a shape to this. There is a meaning to this. There's a truth to this.


And it's all inexpressible in some way. We can pin names on it, of course, especially our theological names. But, in a sense, it's inexpressible, what this meaning is. It's something that happens inside the person, whereby things begin to fall together and become one thing. But the surface, the multiplicity of the surface, the distraction of the surface, continually frustrates that. Well, this issue of stability has a lot to do with that. Is it possible, therefore, to accept a confinement of life so that it has a very limited surface in which you will go deep? So I think the thesis has something to do with that, the thesis of stability. But, obviously, it has its limits. Stability alone will not do it, and sometimes people need to be uprooted and thrown into a new situation, because they've simply, they've simply, what would you say, built a bunker in this one. They've insulated themselves so well in this one that unless they're jerked out of it, they'll go around in the same old habit patterns forever. And they've developed habit patterns,


they've developed an armor which very successfully prevents any growth, anything new happening. Yes, so he talks here about relationship and knowledge of the constancy and predictability of persons. The constancy and predictability, and I don't know, there are other subtle kinds of knowledge, I think, between people. The mutual trust, love, respect, and appreciation which come about only with time and struggle. It's as if we only know a person a little bit at a time, maybe an inch every year or something like that, and we need to know them about a yard before we're really united with them. And also relationship goes through different phases, just like monastic life does. There's the honeymoon, you know, and then there's the other part. And if the person leaves right after the honeymoon, they've completely aborted the process.


They've accepted, as it were, one part of the unit and rejected the rest, and so the whole thing goes down the drain at some point. The last question of who am I? The question of identity and its relationship to stability and the capacity to be at home in a particular situation. This is a little bit subtle, and one would have to, I think, wrestle with it, reflect on it, before one could accept it completely. Man must first create his world before he can welcome someone else. There are a lot of, kind of, proverbs here, a lot of, kind of, axioms here that can be a little bit facile. Various tendencies militate against man's being at home in the world. Now, being at home is being in a stable situation. Communication media, surfeited by external stimuli. Yeah, that's what we were talking about. Stability of commitment, thus understood,


cannot be static because life is not static. It's either growth, or development, or disintegration, or sinking into death. Cheerful prospect. So the stability itself has to deepen as life does. And the analogy with marriage is pursued here. And the analogy is quite good, I think. In other words, that's the accepting of a confinement of life. That's the accepting of a particularity for your life and saying, okay, God has manifested himself to me here, so he wants me to accept these bounds for my life. This person, this one finite person, rather than the million other interesting people. This one monastic community. Witness failure of stability. Okay, and a lot of this is just, what would you say, just a development of what he's been saying about the paradox of stability in the world in which we are,


that it stands out very starkly, very strongly against the background of today's mobility. Today we have an ultimately extremely mobile society, which also seems static in certain terms, but mobile physically, materially, as regards surface. But the witness failure here, I think quite rightly, is put upon community. So he's talking about cenobitical stability, and the basic Christian fact, the basic Christian witness being the community of love, the koinonia, the brotherhood, I think that's valid. So that's a very strong witness. But obviously that means a lot more than just stability. You can't have a bunch of guys kind of dusting a museum, or something like that, who look like they're hired to be there during certain hours. There's got to be something between them. It can't be just a shell. So that puts the weight on love, doesn't it? It puts the weight on communion.


In other words, stability being meaningless is witnessed without communion, without koinonia, which is not something easily achieved. The gift of Christ is precisely that he has broken down the dividing walls that isolate men from one another. He's quoting Ephesians there, and then he refers also to John 17, where it comes that they may be one, that they may be one as we are one. That as being the fundamental Christian reality, which remember is a unitive reality. One dimension of the unitive reality is this koinonia, which gathers people together and pulls them together in Christ. The other dimension is a contemplative depth of koinonia. One is like the Eucharistic, the other is the baptismal. That interior oneness that we experience, each one within himself. Through the vow of stability, Benedictine's bear witness in a torn and individualistic world to Christian unity, which knows how to overcome barriers. There's a strong statement,


life in community is by its very nature a specialization of the Church's fundamental structure designed to foster belief. It doesn't seem so much a fundamental structure to me as the gift, as the reality, as a manifestation of the expression, it's the sacrament. The community is the sacrament of the Christ event, rather than a structure designed to do something. But the sacrament reveals, doesn't it? The sacrament communicates that which it contains, that which it is. A place where new life experiences may be evaluated in a critical yet unprejudiced way. A center where life is deeply experienced, where others come not only to share in silence and prayer, but also to discuss the social realities. The question that people have is not so much the existence of God, but whether it makes any difference, whether Christ makes any difference in this world. To transform men so that the values of the Gospel are expressed in personal and social lifestyles,


so a community can really be a witness to that. And a monastery has a real advantage. Now, obviously, he's kind of digressing, he's moving out from the precise subject of stability. But a monastery has special leverage, special power there, because it's a center in both directions, a monastic community, both in that, say, horizontal dimension of koinonia and in the vertical dimension of simply the reality of God, the depth of meaning, the contemplative, unitive experience, the witness to that, the sacramental power of a contemplative life itself, which is true also of the, and maybe especially of the solitary life, if people understand it, because they're not put off by it, scandalized by it. And then he goes on, and I think about simplicity and material progress and technology, and the transformation of the environment, which seems a little bit of a digression. And the size of a community. And then a community which fulfills these requirements


and in which technology plays this part is a stabilizing factor in society itself. Which is certainly true. The trouble is, of course, that monasteries can also turn to lead and become not only stabilizing factors, but sinkers. They can get so stable that... How stable is what would be... How stable is a tombstone? Benedictine monasteries can be. I guess in this section here, by the witness guide, what I mean is that I think about sometimes the comments we can see on the board of people who come, who say, who go back to that mobility, who are just so encouraged that we're here, just sometimes in a difficult situation just knowing that we're here, joyful, we're here, what we're doing gets them through a difficult situation. So then, over and over and over again,


we hear that being said. Then it speaks to the witness guide just appearing, that we hear it. So what it must do, I think, is awaken something that's within them. Because we're here, they have a symbol, a sign, and some kind of actuality, a sacrament, you could say, of what is actually inside themselves. And it brings that alive and enables them to find it once again when they lose it. And from that place, then they can deal with the other things. And so the stability has a lot to do with it because they have to be able to trust that, have to be able to trust that sign as having some of the stability of God. In other words, the unmoving point in the moving world within the monastery as a center, you know. Panakar's idea of center and how the monk and the monastery are related to that. That has to be stable in order to represent the unmoving center which is God. When we say unmoving, we don't mean non-dynamic, you know, but just that thing that's there, which the monastic life is related to. That center which has to be the still point


of the turning world, you know, that has to be still, has to be still. And stability, therefore, is very important because that witness is destroyed if somebody pops off and goes and does something else. In other words, that has to be a sufficiency. These people have to be testifying to the sufficiency of that which they have found. And if they leave it and go off for something else, or if they seem uncertain about it, then it doesn't have that value. That all-sufficient center, stability is kind of a requirement, it would seem, of that witness. Stability properly understood, you know, with its breadth and flexibility. We should think about the alternative forms of life, the active religious life, and also the sannyasi thing, and so on, to realize that the benedictine option of stability is not the only one. But it certainly has its strengths. if you think about monasteries that have lasted for another thousand years, it's an incredible thing. And then you have monasticism like the Buddhist monasticism, some places where it's a temporary stage in life, isn't it?


Or even in Hinduism, where you have these different stages, and the synovium would not be the permanent thing. So you realize that the importance given to permanent stability in the benedictine, catholic monastic life is weighted on one side, in a sense. It's really weighted strongly on the side of stable permanence. And it's not the only possibility. So I think that stability in the heart is really the issue. That's right. Because I think even in Buddhism and the other active ministries, if there is that stability in the heart that's going on, then that's what would allow them to be authentic. That's right. And the stability of the heart itself has to allow for growth, has to allow for different phases and so on. So it's a mysterious thing what that stability of the heart is, as you undergo different phases of life. But it certainly is a fidelity. It's like,


once that's on, it doesn't matter whether you're in one place or moving about. That's on-going. That's right. That's right. Let's see if we have any other aspects on that. Now, the Kamaldolese tradition has its own particular light to shed on this, doesn't it? Because, having both... First of all, you have the example of Saint Romuald, whose stability of heart was tremendous. Whose stability of place was, well, their discussion. He moved around quite a bit. And then you have the Kamaldolese tradition itself with its two forms. Okay? And you have the, let's say, the multiplicity of humanities now even in the States. So, it's built right into our constitutions that it is a further development of stability to go from the snow to the earth. You know, nowadays that's downplayed a lot. In the old days


it was overexcited so that you weren't fully a Kamaldolese if you were stuck in the snow. You were only a chick still sitting in the egg or something. You hadn't spread your wings yet. Cashin talks like that too sometimes. And that's not fair. Then you end up with a lot of phony things and a lot of hurt people. Because the eccentric life is obviously a valid option for the whole of one's life. It's simply a question of what you're called to. But there is that allowance for progressiveness. And remember the three goods, remember, in Bruno Bonaparte, the good of religion, the good of obedience, the good of solitude, and then the evangelium pardonarum, which was going out and facing hard and preaching to the heathen. So, the stability of heart would persevere, would endure, persist through all three of those phases, but it's three different modalities. It's three different perhaps stages of growth is the way it was considered, but the same stability of heart. It's somewhat of an artificial scheme, obviously. All these things are. Because the individual calling


is very hard to plot, to put down in graph form. I was going to look up the canons on stability and I didn't get to it, but they're referred to in the note page from Consider Your Call here, page 396 and the following. Canons 572 to 86, 632 to 36, 637 to 45. Let me take a look at the second page just to look it up. I don't find that these correspond. I wonder if there's some mistake. I don't find a conspicuous mention of stability here. 573,


Life consecrated by the profession of the Evangelical Council since religious life is a stable form of living. So it's just here and there there's a mention. In the paragraphs, the canons on religious life and commitment to religious life itself. Okay, I guess that's it. Any other questions or issues before we are we adjourned? Okay, well, thank you for your patience and we will begin our prayers as you move towards Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.