November 14th, 1980, Serial No. 00858

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Monastic Spirituality Set 9 of 12

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Any questions before we go on? Just to look back a little to what we were doing last time, we started plowing through Robert's, his chapter on this vow, and beginning with the importance of the vow of chastity. And we left that as kind of an open question to return to throughout our treatment of the subject is why chastity should be considered sort of the most basic, the most radical as he puts it, or the most central of the vows. And here are a couple of other considerations in that regard. Remember that the goal of the religious life is perfect charity, right, is perfect love. And chastity is perhaps the vow, the commitment that relates most to the subject of love. So there's a kind of axis of love along which we progress from what you might call the flesh


to the spirit. In the sense of St. Paul, and not in the sense really of moving from the body to the spirit, but nevertheless it's played out somewhat along the axis of body and spirit, and this vow of chastity is, as it were, the point of intersection. Chastity or sexuality is the intersection of body and spirit. In fact, it turns out to be a kind of hub or a kind of knot where many threads or many spokes come together, and that's why it's so radical. It is the meeting place of body and spirit through the heart, we can say, but it's also this axis of love which proceeds from flesh to spirit, and it's also the movement, it's the axis between self and other, right? It's the meeting place of self and other in marriage, but also if you consider the analogy in theology, it's the meeting place of God and self in a spiritual life, so there's axis


from self to other, and similarly progress in growth in chastity or growth in maturity, spiritual maturity, maturity in love, is a movement from self-centered love to other-centered love, is it not? From self-love or egoism or egocentrism to altruistic love of other people. So you see how it's a kind of center or intersection where many axes come together and cross one another. And then you remember the archetype, of course, finally, in maternity, of the relation between father and son, and the sort of energy, the analogy that we have for the Holy Spirit is energy, that's one of our analogies for it. It's related to that relationship itself between father and son, although we don't want to look at the Holy Spirit only in terms of the relationship between father and son, that's a thing we've done in the West which is not strictly... it doesn't fully cover the analogy


of the Spirit, if anything we can save word here. So we'll get back to that again later on. Also the axis of male and female within each one of us, it's another one that runs through that center, that knot, that hub. Okay, so we started talking about the basic importance of the vow of chastity in the monastic life, and then its scriptural basis in the New Testament, quoting the Gospel and quoting 1 Corinthians 7, but without an extensive scriptural treatment, if you want more of a Biblical treatment you'll have to look in the dictionary of Biblical theology at one of those other places, especially with regard to the Old Testament and the whole history of the relationship between God and Israel, Hosea, Jeremiah, as well as way back in Genesis, the creation and the importance of the connection between the image of God and his distinction


between male and female. Then terminology, the terms chastity, consecrated virginity, celibacy, and how they differ, how they overlap, and his choice actually is consecrated virginity as the most precise expression for monastic chastity, the most commitment. Then the basic requirements, and this is a big section, it turns out, which is going to go for most of the rest of the chapter. The first of these basic requirements is the state of consecrated virginity, and that is the renunciation of marriage, of unthought and undesired marriage, that's fairly obvious. But then the cultivation of chastity, and this is going to take a lot of his concern for pages and pages. He has to discuss the whole question of sexuality and what this cultivation of chastity involves. He distinguishes the negative and the positive aspects of this.


Negative is the renunciation of any voluntary act directly ordered to sexual or genital stimulation and pleasure, and he deals with that in one paragraph. But then the positive means integrating your sexuality into the rest of your human, Christian, and monastic life, and there are two phases. The first is becoming aware, and the second is the ordering, or the integrating itself. And this is where he takes off on this long treatment of sexuality, and this is where we stopped last time. So he's going to try to develop the most basic points contained in these two phases. The bringing into awareness and the integrating. Then he starts talking about human sexuality in general and how sort of omnipresent it is in the human person. This comes, that quotation he's got there, comes from that Persona Hermana, that doctrine of the Holy See on Sexuality, which actually he's got most of the key, most of the key


texts here, the ones that are most useful. He quotes pretty fully, so you don't absolutely have to refer to the document, it will be there on the shelf if you want. I told you last time the problems that that document was dealing with. In itself, sexuality is an inner structure, a sector of human existence, which expresses the dramatic situation of man as being both spiritual and animal. And we can talk also about the marriage of the spiritual and the animal, or the instinctual or the physical, and the integration of the physical into the spiritual in some way, which is what we're about. It reveals the disproportion which exists between the finite and the infinite, between our material body and our divine vocation. This is a very central point to which we'll return time and time again, and if you study, when you study theology, you'll find out that this is something you have to come back to, that man is body and spirit, man is matter and spirit.


And that's a very banal-sounding thing to say, but you have to return to it again and again and again to keep from going off the deep end in one direction or another. For instance, Rahner, when he starts out his whole, the basis of his whole theology is that, is this. And from this he accepts the epistemology of St. Thomas, and then he goes off, and he returns everything that he looks at, except from this viewpoint. And this is, of course, the centrist order of St. Thomas' view of man as well. Aristotelian, more Aristotelian than Platonic, see, because it gives reality and, not equal importance, but equal weight to matter and to body as it does to spirit, rather than just sort of doing away with matter and body in favour of spirit. See, that's where Platonism tends to point you.


That's where the Eastern philosophies tend to point you. But not so with Thomism. And that's one place in which Aristotle has done us a service, I think, in being more faithful to the Christian reality of creation, incarnation, resurrection, than is the Platonic philosophy. And what Aristotle gets us into lots of trouble doing, I think, is this proportion between the finite and the infinite. The fact that we are just a chunk of matter, and yet we're able to contain the infinite, and in some way man is able to contain all things, and even able to contain, in some way, God. And here you see, this line runs through man, but then it runs through Christ too, because Christ is God-made, not only God-made matter, but God-made man, but God-made matter as well.


The Word became flesh. And so the whole of the Christian mystery is as it was strung along this thread. Now sexuality becomes a place of tension and conflict in a way in which other sectors of our existence, such as intelligence and will, do not, because intelligence and will dwell in the spiritual, right? And so they don't have this built-in tension where sexuality does. But it also becomes a beautiful meeting place for all creation. And here you begin to sense behind this the richness of the metaphor of marriage, and therefore of the metaphor of sexuality, for the whole plan of redemption, bringing all things together in Christ. And the image that's used in the parables, so often in the Gospel, of the wedding banquet. You remember the way Clamant talks about that? About the wedding banquet, which is both wedding, that is a union between persons, and banquet, which is a participation of something material.


So it's a wedding, a marriage between persons, between the person of man and the person of God, but also between different persons. But also a banquet in which they share what? They share the creation. They share the material creation. So the wedding banquet sums up very well the final consummation of the creation as it's brought into God. And as man is, and as marriage is. And of course that integration that we're talking about within man can't really be perfected until that point. Up until then it's always some kind of a struggle that needs some tension here. A beautiful meeting place for all creation. It's the Russians that bring this out best, the Russian theologian. Also somebody like Dostoevsky has got this insight in him. A place of living and loving synthesis between the animal instincts and the spiritual openness which characterizes human life. The animal instincts which tend to zero in on the concrete.


The animal instincts of hunger and of sexual desire which aim towards the concrete and back towards the matter and form a little closed circle. And then the spiritual openness by which man is able to survey the whole creation. He's able to think, to imagine, to dream, in some way to bring into his heart everything it is. And here the scholastic theologians help us with the notion of the intellect being on the level of all being, being able to relate to all being. Whereas the animal instincts keep us in a very small area but with great intensity. Such a synthesis is seen in the saints and that through the purity of heart which Christian Orthodox spirituality calls universal tenderness. Now when he says Christian Orthodox spirituality I think he probably means Eastern Orthodox spirituality although he didn't capitalize Orthodox, he could have been Orthodox Christian. What's the expression for it?


I think that Huma Lenny that Victor used to mention is pretty close to this. It's a universal compassion. You find it especially in the Syriac and finally in the Russian tradition, you find it in Isaac of Nineveh, remember, where he talks about compassion even for the animals, even for the insects. And you find it in the Russian tradition in, you find it also in the, concrete example. The universal compassion which is also in Buddhism in a sense but not in, not in the same sense. Buddhism hasn't got the core of the incarnation in the final place of the human person in all of this. So the compassion tends to be horizontalized. He's got a lot of, a lot of very rich stuff you see that he just mentions here and then passes by. This is typical of Roberts because he has to cover a lot of ground.


So if you'll touch on something, if you spend a year studying it, you'll just go by it. There are things here that you'll want to return to later, that you'll find connections with later on. See the universal tenet is you can pass from a kind of fleshly passion to a compassion which is open to all creation. You see how this works in a way? That the very eros, the very physical sexual passion which is in man, in some way becomes able to be sublimated so that it takes on this openness to all creation that we talked about in the spirit and it becomes a compassion. Instead of just being attracted towards one object, like birds of apatite, it becomes open especially to, in the Holy Spirit it becomes open to the suffering, open to the miserable, open to the poor, open to that which is unattractive. Like Saint Francis, you know, he's a playboy and kisses his leper. That's the kind of dramatic symbol of that kind of transformation. You see it in the tenderness of heart of some of the desert fathers and the great saints.


The sweetness and the compassion and strength of the sons of God. Sexuality then is a gift from God which at one and the same time makes the human race bisexual. In other words, it sort of defines the character of the human race and lays out the script for its drama, as it were. And also for its means of procreation. And acts as a centrifugal force that opens our bodies, our minds and our hearts to others. In other words, it takes us out of ourselves. Like, remember, Adam was cast into a sleep in the garden and then God opened up his heart and took out that rib. As if he was trying to make him no longer self-centered, no longer sort of rotating around his own center, but forced to go out of himself and find his completion somewhere else. And which immediately there is in woman, but potentially also is all around, you see. Precisely as different from ourselves. It makes a person capable of a specific type of love, that is masculine or feminine love, which differ even in his relation to God.


Remember Luth on that, where he talks about the different way in which a man prays and a woman prays. It's in his book, Teaches to Pray, on page 67. Did I quote that last time? I think we're at page... I'll read it later. Of course, the prayer of the male and of the female will differ, therefore up to a point. For sex does put its stamp on prayer. Now, when we're talking about prayer, we're talking about the love of God also. Modality of loving, modality of praying, very much the same thing. In his masculinity, the man is more of an image of the father who gives himself in his son, and an image of the son who proclaims the word and loves mankind to the point of death. In his prayer, the man will tend to identify himself with Christ and with the word, of which in his heart he comes to be the priest and the celebrant. His prayer is a celebration through which he opens himself up to the inner spaces of his heart, inhabited by the spirit. There is his own warm modesty, the sign in his heart of that same spirit.


It's as if the spirit is the feminine within him, but he's relating to it, he's not identifying. There he listens out for the spirit, yielding himself to the depths of his innermost being until he catches the spirit's voice murmuring, stammering a prayer on his behalf, Abba Father. So he becomes one with the deepest of depths within him and finds reconciliation with the other half of God's image in him, the spirit, the feminine, the anima. He integrates it into himself and in perpetual prayer makes it part of his experience. By way of contrast, the woman in her femininity is the image of the spirit who has become maternally welcoming, receptive, bearing and giving birth and cherishing. She is the purity that makes everything pure. She is herself inwardness and the love that describes the truth of people and things, perceives it, uncovers it and imparts it. In her prayer, the woman with all that capacity to receive will surrender herself to the word, be steeped in the word, bearing an invisible, proven, transmitting light. Like Mary, she will guard and keep the word and will ponder it ceaselessly in her heart.


The man apprehends prayer as a challenge, as a task, as a job, almost, to which he is committed and in which he finds his identity. The woman is herself prayer and the very depths of her being is already prayer. In prayer, she discovers her inmost personality, the ever-springing source of her distinctive nature. So through celibacy and prayer, man and woman find their other half in God. It is the other panel of the diptych, tenderness and rugged strength, which is a very rounded and entire image here on earth of God. So you get the idea. Man comes out as being more complex than a woman. It's as if woman is just this one element, love, spirit, prayer. But man is relating to that element in himself, but he himself is, as it were, outside. You have to remember the tzatzikindi. It's a theoretical proposal. You don't have to accept it absolutely. And it's not very well understood.


But it's certainly rich. There's a precedent for that, you know, in Jewish mysticism, especially in the Kabbalah, in the Zohar, the whole doctrine of the tzatzikindi, which is like the wisdom of the existence. Moreover, each particular person has his own concrete sexuality, a particular blend of instinct and openness. Okay, that there, instinct and openness, the physical and the spiritual, earthiness and spirituality, masculinity, femininity and intensity. And so he's implying here that there's a spectrum between masculinity and femininity, and nobody is completely masculine and nobody is completely feminine. There are different ways of considering how these two things are present in us. This reads in Consider Your Core, or something like that, page 181, in the following grade. This may come as sort of a shock sometimes to a person's sexual identity to think of


it as being a kind of continuum, a kind of spectrum. The task of attaining maturity, sexual maturity, also involves acceptance of the degree of heterosexuality and homosexuality operative in one's personality. As soon as we hear the word homosexuality, we tend to get alarmed. To label a person simply homosexual is going to be recognized as naïve because there is a continuum of which only the two extremes, exclusive homosexuality and exclusive heterosexuality are pathological. I think maybe that statement is exaggerated because there's a form of sort of sexual indiscriminateness in which a person, which is already a perversion, in other words, to talk about homosexuality in the sense of being able to relate to people of the same sex is okay, but when it gets to the physical level, to the genital level, that's something else, and when it gets active, that's still something else. So he's talking about a lot of things quickly here.


Nevertheless, there is a kind of spectrum here, and different constitutions of persons without falling off into the unhealthy. All normal mature people are bisexual in the sense of having an ability to relate to persons of either sex, but there are different levels of relation. There are levels which are more explicitly than fully sexual, and ones which are more subtle. He doesn't speak so much about that. The normal range is a broad plateau, not a knife edge. It is inhabited by those, the majority, whose predominant orientation is heterosexual, but who are capable of warm, deep, tender relationships with members of their own sex, and also by those whose basic preference is for their own sex, but who are capable of warm, effective relationships with members of the other. Each person has to come to terms with his or her particular sexual makeup, learn to be responsible for it, and discover how to make his or her particular contribution to human and monastic life. Then he goes on about the adjustment that people, for instance, who have a primary homosexual


orientation, but are on the way to integrating, and that's kind of debatable. The answer that he comes up with is about the possibility of being able to live happily in a monastic community. This more general and dynamic vision of sexuality in no way implies explaining everything in terms of pansexualism. That's what Freud's philosophy tends to, pansexualism, where you see everything as a sublimation of sexuality, of sexuality. But it does correct certain ways of thinking that have been habituated to. For instance, it's a mistake to say that by the vow of consecrated virginity one gives up sex, if we mean by this that we give up sexuality, because you can't give up sexuality as a protein to you. What we give up is the very limited sphere of voluntary acts directly ordered to genital stimulation and pleasure, and a little more than that, too, in this feeling.


There remain the less exciting physiological aspects of sex. Together with the entire psychological and spiritual process of reordering our sex personality and centering it on Christ. About the whole philosophy of sexuality, this book, despite its title, is really excellent. New Dynamics in Sexual Love, I suppose. It's got sections, it's written by two philosophers, a man and wife, at Notre Dame. It's got sections on celibacy and also on marriage, and what it tries to do is grasp from a philosophical point of view, which is not a scholastic point of view, like they draw on Heidegger and a number of other people, and even on Teilhard, but seeing sexuality basically as your relation to being, and then as your relation to yourself, and then as your relation to others, and working towards a kind of freedom in the sense of being independent of physical sexuality, or genital sexuality, also for marriage.


Okay. So they tend to bring the center of gravity up from the physical onto the spiritual level, which is very helpful, especially for celibacy. So that, in other words, the idea of sublimation in celibacy is not working against gravity, but working in the direction of gravity, if the energy that we're talking about is basically spiritual, is basically centered somewhere else among the physical. Growth and chastity will imply passing from an infantile, egocentric love, self-centered on bodily and emotional self-satisfaction, to a stable, mature attitude of oblative self-giving, centered in the other person. The normal element in this growth process is a healthy, positive, yet sober relation towards the other sex. Positive yet sober. Somewhere else he points out that either fear or too much enthusiasm about the other sex


is to a certain extent true. Then he begins to talk about four kinds of love. Sexuality, and therefore chastity, express themselves on all four levels. And these four kinds of love continually interact in everybody's life. Maturity is measured by the integration of these, the movement of the scale, as it were, movement of the center of gravity of the scale. Now, you may know of the book of C.S. Lewis entitled The Four Loves. And his four levels of love here, four kinds of love, are certainly influenced by Lewis's four levels, but they're not the same. If you read Lewis's book, you'll find that the breakdown is different. Lewis has... I've read this book once, but it's been some time ago, and I haven't had time to thoroughly review it now. Well, most of it. Lewis talks about affection, friendship, eros, and charity.


And Roberts is talking about physical sex, which is not the same as affection. Eros, or sensitive love. But eros for him is something different from what it is for Lewis. For Lewis, eros is mnemonic love, using mnemonic in a good sense, where it's falling in love. But it's much broader for Roberts. He considers it to be the whole central, as it were, psychological energy of man, the whole drive to a social thing. And friendship are roughly the same for the two, and charity, I think, are roughly the same for the two. But eros and affection in C.S. Lewis are different from what Roberts is talking about. That's a helpful book. Okay, there's four levels. The first is simply the physical level, the level of physical attractiveness, the level of physical sexual activity.


The second, sensitive love, or eros. Call it romantic love, call it emotional love, whatever. But there's a lot more to it, the way Roberts talks about it, as we'll see. Brotherly love or friendship, philia, you find that word in the New Testament. And divine love, charity, exactly. So chastity has its task in the proper ordering of these inner forces. The lower ones are not to be repressed, but to be oriented, directed towards their true focus, which is Christ, the love of Christ, Agatha. However, to direct these loves towards Christ does not mean to direct them away from other people, but so that somehow their character, the composition of this love has changed, and it goes towards other people, never sort of detaching itself from the focus which is


Christ. It's not very easy with our language or with our geometry or diagrams to make that clear. But somehow, all of our love towards others has to be integrated into our love for Christ. Now, about this business of repression versus suppression, there's a good note in here on page 405. It is vital to distinguish between repression, which is a blind, unconscious, desperate mechanism triggered by pre-rational fear, and control or rational suppression, which is a free and intelligent act or series of acts motivated by some higher love, compatible with full acceptance of one's sexual nature and gradually growing into part of the human lifestyle. Suppression in this sense is not dangerous. Repression is. You get the difference between the two? Repression, I think, is a Freudian term.


Remember, he explained a lot of things about repression of libido, repression of the sexual instinct. Now, repression means that you push something down without looking at it out of fear. Either you say it isn't there, or you say it's there, but I'm not going to let it go into my consciousness. And you consider it as, perhaps as an enemy, as something that cannot be dealt with. It simply has to be pushed away. Whereas suppression is to allow yourself to become aware of something, remember, which is this first phase of integration, and then not allow it to express itself in the form in which it's done, not allow it to have its way, not allow that thought, that impulse to remain in consciousness or to express itself in action in the way in which it's manifested itself. You sort of put it back into the machinery, into the unconscious, if you want to say


that, knowing that also that it can, that energy can be sublimated and expressed in another form. Okay? Well, you need two things. You need, first of all, the disuse of and the non-empowerment of love, then you're likely to have trouble. Okay, you're likely to have some kind of eruption or some kind of conflict, some kind of tension. I remember there's a saying of the Desert Fathers, I don't know whether it was Albert Pullman or who, that says, take your evil thoughts, and if you don't allow them to come into action, they're like clothes that are left in the closet, remember, and they'll


be consumed by moths. And he had another image, too. They'll be consumed by moths, and so they just, they disintegrate, those evil thoughts, and they'll no longer bother you. Well, that's kind of optimistic. If you have that other way of using the energy, that's likely to be true. But if you repress, then something will come up in another way and throw you, probably. Also, you get a very defensive point of view, actually, where you get a whole defense system by which you can't face big sectors of your life because you're scared of big sectors of yourself. So the energy has to find an outlet. Otherwise, what happens is that you begin to live in a corner of your personality. You begin, it's like you have a big house, and like a man, you know, you read about these recluses, maybe, a wealthy man who owns a great house and lives in one room, because he's afraid to go out of it. He doesn't know what's in the other room, and then he might go ugly.


You don't do it deliberately, no. I think that it can start out partly conscious, but then it becomes an unconscious mechanism afterwards, okay? In other words, things, first of all, are rejected from consciousness. They may sort of reach the surface of consciousness, and then you close the door immediately without even looking to see who's there at the door. But then afterwards, that becomes a mechanical, an automatic operation in the unconscious, just as you say. And that which has been repressed remains there automatically and unconsciously, okay? What does he say here? How much consciousness did he implore? He calls it a blind, unconscious, desperate mechanism triggered by pre-rational fear. So, it's almost like blinking your eye, which you may not even be conscious of, it's just like when I'm conscious of blinking my eyes sometimes, you know, and sometimes it can


be purely unconscious, and keeping things repressed is purely unconscious. Then these things come up after, in dreams, of course. Christ and chastity. The vow of conversion of life is in order to a real inner transformation in Christ through love. Conservative virginity makes this orientation explicit and also makes it concrete. It really anchors it in our body. The life of the risen Jesus, which is in the center of your soul through baptism, gives you this new force of unity and integration. He doesn't talk about the Holy Spirit here, but he might very well, especially because he's going to talk about energy when he gets to that arrow struggle. This new force of unity and integration. There's a new center there. It reminds you of what Teilhard says about Christ as the cosmic center, you know? And Teilhard was also interested in this whole sexuality business.


He wrote quite a bit about it in one place and another. He wrote about celibacy. We don't have that book, but he wrote a book called Human Energy, in which he talks about this whole business. He talks about it on a planetary scale, not just on an individual scale. But he felt that a new breakthrough should occur in our time in the spiritualizing of human sexual energy. Its influence on the levels of sexuality is something like the work of a Rowan Snow book, which accumulates different layers and gets bigger, like a magnet establishing an ordered field of energy, like the yeast which makes the whole dough rise. Remember, the kingdom of heaven is like a woman who put yeast into three measures of dough until it was all put in. This is why the cultivation of chastity must start with real love for Jesus Christ, much more than from a mere discipline of physical love. So we get back to this point that we started with, remember, way back in the introduction


before we even started on the conversion of life, that this love for Jesus has to be the impulse eventually, because it's the only center that's able to exert this power. It's the only point that has enough energy, enough potential fascination, enough power, enough gravitational force or magnetism, to be able to draw your whole personality together, to draw your life together. It's the only way to get it together eventually, for us at least, for Christians. So the secret center of chastity is love of Jesus and of his virgin mother. He sees the two as kind of complementary, I mean, the masculine and the feminine are somehow combined in those two. It seems to me that we could complement this here in some way with that wisdom, I don't know if we were talking about the other day, and also with an appreciation of the Holy


Spirit and its part in this whole business. But I won't try to go into that now. All this effective force must be oriented and led to the person of Jesus Christ. It is the work of many years, but with a life of authentic prayer and generosity it's achieved naturally and spontaneously. Sexual love, human tenderness and friendships are inserted into the love of Christ. Those three levels are inserted into the love of Christ, which we see, supposedly, before, before and after, and then on by. There they find their true meaning, which, however, often does not appear until after the process has taken place. Do you remember in Tillard when he said how often in the beginning the motivation which brings you to the monastery is not necessarily the motivation that you're going to understand


as being the key one some years afterwards. This business about enthusiasm for Christ, about being drawn by the fascination of Christ, about the love of Christ being the center of your vocational motivation, may not be on the surface at the outset, may only be evident afterwards. He says this in a couple of places, I only located one of them this morning, page 60. The clear-minded religious is certain that fundamentally Christ's call resounds at that level, that level of the contemplative grasp of Christ as the focus of love, the fine pearl of the treasure. Not perhaps in the early days when he enters the novitiate, but when, like Simon Peter in the last chapter of John's Gospel, he repeats, sometimes with tears and in suffering, the yes that one day determined the course of his life. So it's something that only appears maybe after suffering, and after you've found that


no other motivation works. That's the only thing that's strong enough to bring you through. But it may not be what has first grabbed you and led you to the monastic life. My father Larry is kind of saying, well I came to the monastery to get away from my mother, and he means it, but he says it's not why you come, it's why you stay. Then there's a story about Amasara, who was attacked by the spirit of fornication, doesn't say in what form. Sarai, you have overcome me, it is not I who have overcome you, but my master Christ. It's like Saint Anthony too, in his context with the devil, and Jesus appears afterwards. And he always wins, he always conquers in the sign of the cross, in the name of Christ. Okay, now we want to go through these different levels.


And first of all, sensuality, or the level of physical love, which involves man's entire body with special reference to the reproductive organs and their functions. Hence this term genitality, which refers to the level of the genital organs. And which we often, now this is distinguished from sexuality, or even from the physical aspect, because there are physical expressions of sex which are not genital. Or physical expressions of love which are not genital. But genitality involves the genital organs, so it involves ultimately sexual intercourse or its equivalent. By religious profession we give up and total up, of course, certain acts directly related to this dimension. Okay, related in practice to biological sense, this level is the vice of sensuality, an habitual indulgence of the senses that matters with border on the sexual sphere, especially touch and so on, with regard to other persons or with regard to oneself. Chastity will discipline the body.


We should avoid always seeking the most comfortable postures, the tastiest foods, etc. In other words, there's a kind of explicit sensuality which is itself sexual, such as not controlling the eyes and so on. And then there's a subtle sensuality which is not explicitly sensual, but which becomes a kind of easy slope along which one slides into the sensuality. This business about the comfortable postures, the tastiest foods. In other words, there are ways of indulging the body which lead one to a lack of control in sexual matters. At the same time, you can't treat the body like an enemy. It's an important part of chastity. Treat the body as something consecrated. Maintain it clean and in good health. Some of the old Trappists, the servants present in that room, they go back once or twice a


year. Sensuality is the voice which seeks the pleasure of the senses good in themselves in order to satisfy us on a level of physical love without relation to the love of Christ. Here you may think of the notion of idolatry, of idols, of seeking any pleasure without integrating it into the ultimate scheme of things, and which means without integrating it into the love of God. Ries talks about idolatry in 166. The threat to both discipleship and purity of heart in the lives of Christians is idolatry. We've been talking about discipleship and purity of heart as the two chief focuses of celibacy or chastity. An idol is a created reality which should be transparent and relative, should be a symbol, a sacrament, should refer beyond itself to God, yet claims to be ultimate.


Loving and truth demands a continual exodus, for the fulfillments of love point beyond themselves. Idols are lies, mere nothings, pseudo-riches. They promise what they cannot give, and by deceiving us, they can enclose us in the merely human. That's an important way of rooting this once again in the biblical scene, this notion of idolatry. You notice that also in the scriptures in the Old Testament that the two notions are very much connected continually of idolatry and adultery, idolatry and sexual perversion, sexual impurity, sexual license. And often it seems that the idolatrous rites were in some way orgiastic rites, but that's not the only connection. Because idolatry itself was seen as adultery or betrayal of this covenant with God. There's a connection between the two. When St. Paul talks about the fascination of idols, he says we were drawn to dumb idols in a kind of hypnotized way, maybe some sexual element to it.


His idolatry business is very mysterious. That's right, he says covetousness of money evidently, avarice, which is idolatry. So money can really become an idol, it becomes a substitute for God. It's an analogy for God, which is true for many people. Anything like that can become an idol, anything which becomes a substitute for God and monopolizes all of your energies, all of your attention, all of your life. And it's so easy for someone to do that. We're really vulnerable in one way, but each one of us is vulnerable in a different way. That's right.


In a way which is not quite so crude, but don't so obviously separate us from God, or divert all of our energies. But the idea of God, which is not really God, becomes an obstacle to our relation with him, and can govern our whole life, because it's going to determine how we live. Because probably we adopted that idea of God in order to be able to live in a certain way, for life and belief, as usual. Idol is another good word to look up in the Dictionary of Biblical Theology sometimes. So an image, a fantasy, which sort of stops you, which hypnotizes you, which monopolizes your attention, and draws all your, magnetizes all your energies to itself, is an idol. So psychologically, it's the images and the ideas, the fantasies that tend to be idols, and which attract our desires, and trap them.


I remember where Jesus had a kind of love for Adam and Mammon. Mammon, in that case, sounds like him to me, because money isn't real. So many other things can take the same place. The ultimate idol, you can say, is simply self, a self. It's that self-image, an ego, somehow, way down there. And all of these other idols are just reflections of that. So we're really worshipping our self, in some way, when we get stuck on these other things. When we refuse to go beyond self, and beyond that image, that idea that we're hooked onto, in order to get to God, we refuse that freedom. Because it's also a poverty. Poverty and freedom go together. Is it possible for a religious to flee excessively from this biological level of his sexuality? Yeah, you could pretend that your nature is not sexual. It seems to have been somewhat common in recent centuries. On the social level, it resulted in strict segregation of all sexes.


And sometimes, even the habits of the religious sometimes, look like they're designed to make them look like something else. Not to let them look like women at all. It can be a segregation. At the same time, it can be habits, or semi-habits, or modified habits, which are provocative, or immodest. Yeah, I mean, I think they're ridiculous. Sometimes, the segregation between men and women is sometimes a good idea, just to help one to be captivated by such a thing. It's not necessarily a fear. No, it's not necessarily. It's necessary sometimes. But it can be exaggerated to such an extent that a man never sees a woman. That's not what happens. Yeah.


I remember being in church one time, and being distracted by a three-year-old. The Jewish people, I guess in some sense, I would say segregated from men and women. I said, yeah, that's a great idea. I don't know how to arrange that thing. Saying, women, and then we'll get some feminist from Berkeley, and we'll set fire to the church. When St. Paul says, keep quiet, but he doesn't say that it could be better. So we can just have big veils. We can have canvas. Monastic enclosure, of course, lends itself to such segregation. And like in some of the Trappist monasteries, where they put the guests up on the balcony, where it's impossible to see who they are. And sometimes it's fostered an immature attitude towards the opposite sex, based more on fear of sexuality than a sobriety spirit.


But that fear of sexuality is something that a person has to go through. Reception of mixed groups and avoidance of sexual discrimination. So giving hospitality also to women in a monastery is recommended. Avoidance of sexual discrimination, I guess, in the sense of where it's possible admitting women also to areas or things or services or whatever. See, the Trappists have had a lot to do about this. If you've read any of those issues in the mailbag about hospitality, you'll see that it's a... Now, the different abbeys have experimented with different ways. Because for a long time, they had an extreme segregation. Can be healthy at the center of discretion, respect for women's employment. Chastity will avoid the two extremes of sensuality and prudishness, and thereby integrate bodily sexuality into the overall flow of Christian life. He's got three things here.


Integrate bodily sexuality. Begin to open the person to others. Initiate the construction of a community based on independent living. Chastity and Eros. Now, you're going to find the meaning of Eros differing very much from one person to another, from one writer to another. And if you compare Lewis with Roberts, you'll find a sharp difference. Listen to how he defines Eros. The complex drive of our human nature towards self-fulfillment and self-transcendence constitutes what can be called sensitive love or what the Greeks called Eros. The central dimension of human sexuality is not limited exclusively to erotic love not to erotism. Now, erotic love... The erotic has also often been perverted. The meaning of that word to me is simply physical or sensual. But that's not what it means originally.


That's not what Eros means or erotic means originally. It's the emotional level of love or the level of tenderness. It's not the physical level originally. But then the adjective, especially erotic, gets to be used in that way. The complex drive of our human nature towards self-fulfillment and self-transcendence, that's saying a lot. So he's taking... He's calling Eros the whole basic human drive, the basic human psychological energy, which is going to express itself in many other ways which we wouldn't call sexual right away. For instance, just ego strength, that's for him, that seems to be the same thing basically as Eros. Or ambition, the drive towards power, the drive towards success, the drive towards achievement or to accomplishing tasks.


For him, that all fits into this level of Eros. And there's some truth in that, but we have to be carefully reminded. I don't know. I'm not sure, but I suspect that he's using it in the sense of the heart, in the sense of the love of the heart, the drive towards another, the same drive which would be the erotic drive towards a woman, I suspect, but which gathers all of the sensitive powers of man, all of his emotions and affections into one movement. I think. No. No, you can write a poem about that, but there's no... there's no etymological grounds. E-R-O-S. No, you're thinking of Cupid and his arrow,


that's what you're thinking of. That little baby shooting the arrow, that's what you're thinking of. No, come to think of it, see, that's related. It's related to Eros, that kind of movement of the heart towards God, that simple stirring of love, that darker love, that's what the book talks about, but it's not through the art of the word. Okay, Eros is the psychological level of human love. Its most typical form of expression is affection or tenderness towards a member of the other sex, also towards the same sex, normally in friendship, abnormally in friendship, towards oneself, auto-eroticism or narcissism. Maximus the Confessor says that the mother of all vice is the tenderness for self, tenderness for the body, which would shade him towards sensuality. Or channeled into activities such as sports, love of animals, hobbies or creative work. And here I would refer you to Asad Jolie,


that book Psychosynthesis, where he talks about the sublimation of sexual energy, and where he talks about the expression of this energy, which may turn into physical sexuality in all of these other ways, all of these cultural ways and interpersonal ways and so on. And I think he would be pretty close to Roberts in considering that energy, not to be basically physical, basically physical, genital, sexual in that way, but to be a kind of versatile energy, which is psychological, psychic energy, the way Jung talks about it, which can express itself by any other form. So it's a level of pan-sexualism. That Roberts is getting into here? Not pan-sexualism, pan-energism, you could call it that, or not pan-sexualism on a physical level, okay? Because he's saying this is not basically physical energy,


this is psychological energy, psychic energy, and it can go in different directions. So I don't think pan-sexual, it could move in that direction. If you say that basically it's a sexual energy where it can be sublimated into these other channels, then you could call it pan-sexualism, but not of a physical kind, not of a genital kind, okay? Which Freudian, Freudian as it is. But it doesn't necessarily have to be that way. Roberts says neurosis is not physical. It's psychic, not physical. He says it's psychic and not genital, not physical. He says it's psychological. Psychic is kind of, yeah, part. With which part? With the nocturnal. Yes, yeah. It's on a psychic level, yeah. It's on a psychic level. This inner drive towards self-fulfillment,


he says it can be channeled into all these other things, sports, volleyball, love of animals, hobbies. It accounts for a man's love of the beauties of creation, his dedication to the fine arts, love knowledge. See, it sounds like Freud's sublimation thing, but with a slice made, a cut made between the physical level of sex and the other thing. So he's still working sort of on that kind of psyche, psychological theory, which centers psychology in energy, okay? Now Jung is more on that level. He talks about psychic energy. And S. A. Jolie even more, who talks about these means of sublimation and of expression. He talks also about moving from one level to another, from the physical to the psychological. Neurosis is thus the energetic aspect of human sexuality, which expresses itself in a multitude of ways. And thus becomes a link between physical love and spiritual love. So you've got three levels there. He's talking about spiritual love up here, physical love down here.


And the mediating level is this eros, or psychological or emotional, he said at a certain point, which is able to somehow channel the energy and decide where it's going to go. And he doesn't talk about the ego at this point, but ordinarily a person would. The relation of the ego to this level of himself, because this is the level of the ego as it comes out, when he talks about self-fulfillment and so on. And this is a very deep and important area of the understanding of man in psychology here. I wish I knew more about it. But see, here you get the connection between sexuality and the drive for power, or the drive for achievement or fulfillment, or simply ego strength and ego support. What makes you feel all right? And what makes you feel not all right? What makes you feel okay? And what makes you feel depressed and self-hatred and so on? All of that is in this diagram here.


And it's relation to your relations with other people. Because many love affairs are matters of ego support, you know, where a person is being confirmed in his self-acceptance by somebody else. All of that's related. Eros is often a battleground between these other two types of love, which seek to harness for their own use the vital energy contained in the center of man's sexuality. So it sounds like, see, this vital energy issues forth on this level and then can go in those other two levels. So it's as if he's talking about this is the primordial level of man's vital energy. Which then either goes from the physical towards the physical, towards the spiritual. You can accept that or not, it depends. It reminds me of Rahner's treatment of the heart. Remember, the heart is the primordial organ of man, which is where the spiritual and the physical and the psychological and the psychic come together. And it's prior to the distinction between those different levels.


And it's very much like what he's talking about here is the level of eros. And of course, heart and eros are very much related anyway. His tenderness we're talking about is not just physical. He doesn't like the word hearty. It's not very respectable and psychological. Ah, he gets to it here with his Desert Forest story. Ava Gerontios. Many, tempted by the pleasure of the body, commit fornication, not in their body but in their spirit. While they preserve their bodily virginity, commit prostitution in the soul. So guard your heart, he says. So this is a matter of the heart, a matter of desire. You see, the monk is trying to work towards spiritual love. He denies the physical outlet for his desire. And yet he indulges the desire in his heart. And that's what Ava Gerontios is condemning.


See, erotic self-indulgence which is yet not physical. And then he goes on to have a poem. And this is a little separate. He says, if you're warring against fornication and anger, what do I do? He replies, I will cut off anger and crush fornication with hard labor. Cut off anger. That one you suppress. And what's he going to do with fornication? He's trying to transmute, transform that energy into another channel. Divert it into another channel. It can't just be cut off. It is anger that is cut off, whereas fornication is destroyed by directing its energy into hard labor. It is run over. This points to the fact that by our vowel chastity, we do not and cannot really give up Eros as a reality in itself. But only insofar as we take it into the norm of human life. Maybe his expression isn't perfect, but as the erotic expression is taken


as the norm of human life. In fact, chastity strengthens Eros so that it can more fully serve the deeper and more spiritual purpose of life. Maybe we'd better stop there at this point. This is a very important point here, though, because it's the difference between a kind of lifeless monastic life and a dynamic monastic life, is this grasp, this integration of Eros. Of the heart, actually, and its power. Is it better down there? Oh, OK. OK. That's right.