November 23rd, 1982, Serial No. 00410

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Monastic Orientation Set 1 of 2




Remember, last time we talked about four levels of legislation that we have. The first level is the general church legislation, which is canon law, code of canon law. The second is the rule of St. Benedict, which we are likely to interpret not completely literally. The third level is the Canal Beast Constitutions, and the fourth level is our own customs, which we don't have a customary, we don't have a book of customs, but that novitiate tag contains local customs, so that's what that's about. And so, otherwise, other than that, they should be unwritten, our schedule and all other things that we do and don't do. I wanted to talk today about the Canal Beast Constitutions because last time we talked about the Holy Rule, and what I'm trying to do now is just give you a very brief bird's eye view so that later we can go into these things in greater detail, but what you need first is just to be able to find your way around them, so that's as far as we'll go.


However, with the Canal Beast Constitutions, there are a few other things to say because they have a long history. The rule of St. Benedict is one document, even though we have other documents before it, it's circumscribed. The Canal Beast Constitutions start in 1080 and they come up to 1981, when it was the last time that we reviewed them, which was last fall, and there's a lot of evolution during that time, so it's necessary to say something about that, especially because monastic rules and constitutions are so relative to history, they really do change from history. We may say that they don't change in their essentials, but there's a lot of change and we have to look at it. Just for background, and this is a little digression, I just came upon this good little book of David Knowles, his best-known little book on the constitutional history of the religious orders. You might think that that would be a very external and dry kind of thing, how the laws of religious orders and their structures develop, but it's quite interesting, it has a lot


to do with really what's going on. And there's a real pattern of development, and if you understand it, then you know that much more about history, you know that much more about where you are. Because the way that these things are structured expresses the spirit and the development of the spirit, the evolution of the spirit, and at the same time it determines the spirit for the next, who knows how many hundred years. So it's important. Here's the way he expresses the background of the reform of camaraderie, starting from the regular Benedictine, the black Benedictine tradition at that time, which is the 10th and 11th century. We say the 11th century because Camalvi was founded in the 11th century. Remember St. Romuald died in 1027. And the Camalvi's reform is at the springtime, at the beginning of that great 11th century reform, which had so many other waves. He says, the great religious revival of the 11th century is perhaps the most widespread and most spiritual of all the mysterious religious revivals of the West.


Compared with earlier renovations, it had two distinctive features. In common with all medieval movements, it claimed to be a return to past excellence. But whereas previously the golden age had been situated in the 6th century, reformers were now seeking their models in earlier ages. And monastic reformers were demanding a return to the desert cradle of monarchism. So St. Romuald does that, doesn't he? He goes beyond the road of St. Benedict back to the desert and to the primitive medical realm. And then, this is a good little chapter, this starts on page 16. He talks about the Italian foundations of which Romuald is about to boast, and then the more organized French foundations across the rocks of it afterwards, more expansive. Now, here's what he finds at Camaldoli. It was in direct imitation of Egypt, if not even as a kind of manifesto, that the settlement


at Camaldoli was from the first calder desert. Usually they say Aramos, Aramos, Italian, Aramos. That foundation on the mountainside near Arezzo consisted of a number of separate cells or within a wide enclosure. The monks lived in their cells and came together in a common oratory, refectory and meeting hall only at certain times and occasions. Later, 1010, a second degree of the institute was established lower down the mountain with a monastery of common life. Now, that's the synovium which started out as the hospiceum, the guest house of Camaldoli. Following a strict interpretation of the rule of St. Benedict, from which experienced monks could pass to the era of medical life, as indeed St. Benedict had suggested under the first chapter of the rule. Okay, here is the significance of the Camaldoli's foundation frame. Camaldoli has a twofold significance in the history of religious orders. This is constitutional history, external structural history. First, it was the first institute in which rules were drawn up for a group of hermits


in the West. The first attempt to standardize and control what had hitherto been essentially free and unconfined. And sometimes wild, too. It was thus the prototype of a multitude of similar ventures in which the larger and more celebrated desert of La Chartreuse was the most notable member. The Carthusian is much bigger and more highly organized. The Camaldoli's foundation remains, you might say, more woodsy. More rural. And closer to the earth. And less aristocratic. And I don't know whether you can say less highly legitimate. In a certain way, yes. Perhaps more pluralistic. Secondly, it was the first religious institute embracing two kinds of life. The hermetic life and the cenobitic life. Although this was not there at first, it only came up out of necessity, it appears. And even after the death of Saint Ronald. And it only gradually asserts itself, the right of the cenobium, of the cenobitical


life, to full existence within the Camaldoli's structure, within the congregation. It always has to fight for its life. Because there's a tendency always to absolutize the solitary part of the vocation. And similarly, the cenobium is continually trying to swallow the hermitage. And that's why the hermits often seem to be fighting for their life. Isn't it a curious thing, honestly? Which happens in all kinds of sectors of the life of the Church, where those polarities, those polarizations come up. This was to become, in one shape or other, a common phenomenon in the century that followed. I haven't gone into in what way that embracing two kinds of life becomes a common phenomenon. It doesn't so far as the lay brother choir monk thing happens, or men and women monastic communities. But otherwise, I don't know what it means. Well, sometimes we have a mixed life, which is partly contemplative and partly active. Really, that's a double, two phases of the life of the same individual.


Anyway, that's this point. With that background, let's look at the constitutions. And just from a very quick point of view, there seem to be five phases in this legislation. The first is that of Blessed Rudolf himself, back in 1080. The longer constitutions... You notice in this... I'll put these things on a glass shelf afterwards. And some of you will probably find these in yourselves, in your rooms. Not in the same binding. But the constitutions of Blessed Rudolf. The longer ones and the shorter ones. The longer ones are divided into 70... No, it's only 54 chapters. The shorter ones are all one piece, not divided into chapters. The longer ones are ascribed to the year 1080, and the shorter ones to 1085, as a later compensation. But the historians have quarreled about which comes first. I haven't applied carbon-13 yet.


These are the customs of Kamaldol. The customs of a very particular place. And you can see that because, at a certain point, he's talking about very detailed things. An example is chapter 26. What is to be served on the days of bloodletting? During the times of the bloodletting, which is customarily performed... This is good for you. Three times a year, the following distribution is to be made. During the three days appointed for each bloodletting. On the morning of the first day, a dish is served of wheat cereal. On the second one, of grain paste. And on the third day, one of flour cake. In the evening of the first day, a meal is served of soup. On the second, of vegetables. On the first day, tart spritters and half a loaf of bread. And so on, as a whole. That's an extreme example. But there's a lot of detail in there. And some of that detail remains in the Kamaldi's constitution up to 1957. Because they're still basically the observances for the hermitage and the monastery of Kamaldi itself.


And they're not meant for a bigger contribution. In the congregations which were larger from the start, where you had more houses. Then you have to have a lot more generalization and much less detail. Although, there were a lot of Kamaldi's houses at one point. They must have applied not these constitutions, but other subsequent constitutions. The next phase is around in the 13th century. Where you have the constitutions of Blissard Martin and Blissard Girard. In 1253, 1271, 1273. And those are of a broader kind. And as I remember, they're to govern the cenobitical life as well. So they go beyond this very particular thing of Blissard Girard. Then there's another very important phase with Blissard Paul Justiniani, about 1520. Remember, Paul Justiniani, he was a Venetian. Who came from a very wealthy family. And went to Kamaldi late. And in a very short time, he became the superior.


And he started out to renew the order. And he made a series of different additions of constitutions. Which did change the pattern of life quite a bit. And the idea was a return to a strict aramidical life. And then subsequently, remember, he left. And another congregation formed around him. Which was a congregation of Mata Corona. And at a certain point, you've got five different congregations. Five different Kamaldi's congregations. And then gradually, most of them fade out. And the Hermits of Tuscany and the Cenobites were made. And then in 1935, those two were joined together. We'll talk a little bit about Paul Justiniani's constitutions in a minute. Then, the next phase, I would say, the fourth phase, is the reunion of the Hermits and the Cenobites. In 1935, and then you have constitutions in 1943, which embody that reunion. And then 1957.


Now, the constitutions in 1957 are here. There are a lot of these around. Because these are what we were observing when we began here. And finally, you have the constitutions of 1969. Which were composed in the general chapter of 1968 and 1969. That was an extraordinary general chapter. Called as a consequence of Vatican II by the Order of Rome. And which were finally approved last fall. In the chapter of last fall. So, they should be shortly getting approval from the Holy See. And it will be final. We've had them under experiment for the past 12 years. But very few changes have been made. A few changes were introduced a year ago. But not very many. Okay, let's go back now and look quickly at some of these phases. Not at all of them. The beginning and the end are really concerning. And more the end than the beginning really.


If you want to do research on this whole evolution, we'll have to go into that in more detail later. And you'll have to do another look on your own to dig it out. First of all, blessed be God, let's take a look at this constitution. Because this is the most primitive document. And the one that's closest to St. Romulus. Remember, Romulus died in 1027. And Lucid Ludov, who I think is the fourth prior of the Holy Hermitage Ecumenical, is writing about 1080. And he seems to have been influenced by Peter Damian, who died in 1272. And who had already written two editions of the Customs of Ponta Avalona. Which was a hermitage which was really renewed by Romulus himself. He's the principal channel for the tradition of Romulus. In fact, he built the life of St. Romulus. And Ludov's constitution is in his Avalon account. I've never made a detailed comparison of the two. First of all, some of you who have read The Silent Life by Thomas Merton


will recall that he uses a passage in that from the Constitution of the Blessed Ludov. It's a magnificent passage, too. It's from the first chapter. It's Moses, it's the gospel of Ludov this morning. It's Moses in front of me, in front of me. That's a symbol that lasts throughout. It's a symbol that doesn't die. It's a symbol that doesn't die. And everything goes with it. Now, the first characteristic that you notice of these constitutions it's funny because they've got two characteristics really that it pulls apart. One is that detailed thing, which can get to the point of really it seems to be descending to the point of trivia at a certain point where you talk about what you're going to have to suck on the detail. And on the other hand, it's got this magnificent, sapiential flavor, this wisdom character to the Constitution. And it turns out to be kind of concrete on both ends. The wisdom character, this sapiential or sophianic character, which is the patristic way of reading the scripture comes out in the first chapters.


Chapters 1 up through 5 or 6, where he's talking about the examples of those, the models for the Aramidical line, the models for the solitary line. And he starts out in the first chapter talking about Moses. If you don't read the rest of the constitutions of Joseph Ludov, I think you should, you know, sooner or later, it's not that long. But by all means, read those first chapters. In the first chapter, he's pointing out the superiority of the solitary line. He uses Moses as his first example. Now Moses was the man of the desert and who had his experience of God in the desert. His individual experience of God started with the burning bush. Now McGregor admits that in his life of Moses, he's drawing the map, as it were, for the interior life. I don't know how much he talks about solitary in the life of Moses. But there's something else here besides Moses,


and that is the feminine figure who appears. And I was talking about a kind of wisdom literature here. And you're looking for a rule or a custom and what you find is this feminine figure, who is a wisdom figure in some way. The one that he chooses is the woman of the 12th chapter of Revelation. The woman who's crowned with the stars and clothed with the sun. This solitary life is figured in that heavenly woman who, living soberly justly and devoutly in this world, it's a tissue of scripture. This is from St. Paul, of course, living soberly justly and devoutly. Stands as a queen at God's right hand. That's from the psalm. He's got her leaves together. That's not what you expect to find in the Constitution. And then all of a sudden you run up against it in some very detailed piece, I think, surprisingly. Not all of a sudden, but after a few chapters. Clad with gold, adorned with varied splendor, clothed with the sun of justice, she treads underfoot the moon of worldly glory. She is a spiritual interpretation


in terms of the hermetic order, a typical monastic interpretation of scripture. Tasting of the things that are above, not those which are on earth. Yet she is tormented by the bangs of childbearing. For without the labor of battle, labor, the labor of battle is childbearing. Sanctity is not born. So the childbearing is the claiming force of sanctity. Now don't let the moralistic language turn you off. Sanctity is not born. Well, you're probably not interested in giving birth to an abstract virtue. But what is really being born? What's he really talking about? He's talking about your rebirth. He's talking about the new birth within. The same thing that Paul is talking about in Romans 8. But the language coming across is very heavily moralistic. Without the agony of temptation, it cannot come forth the fruit of justice. That is, joy, peace, patience, and life. That's the fruit of the Spirit. And he goes on. From this it appears most evident that after God and through God's help


there can be found no more secure refuge against the ancient vows of the devil than conversion to a solitary life. So he puts before you this magnificent image, and then the danger is that he's going to interpret it in a deniable way. Interpret it in terms of... The woman is in the desert, of course. That would prove that the solitary life is the best life in the world. It's a strong, what do you call it, attraction. A strong expression of the value of the solitary life. But the language doesn't always carry it across. And then he goes on with the vision of Moses. And curiously the feminine figure appears here too. Moses first indicated his way of life in symbol and followed it in fact. So when he had led the sheep to the inner desert, he beheld a great wonder, a bush which burned without being consumed. And you, whoever you are, who live in solitude and need a solitary life, and here he's talking about the interior life,


having led your flocks, that is to say, your simple thoughts and your humble affections, your thoughts and your feelings. So this is hesychasm. And that spiritual interpretation of the sheep as thoughts. I'll let you find that in the Hesychast Fragments. Into the depths of your living will, the depths of your heart, it might be said, there you will find the bush of your humility, which until now brought forth nothing but thorns and briars, radiant with the light of God. What does the bush of your humility mean? Somehow it's recommended. It's the center of your humanity within your heart. Radiant with the light of God, for you will be glorifying and bearing God in your own heart and body. This is the divine fire which enlightens without burning us, gives radiance but does not consume us, and bestows charismatic gifts on its own favored ones. The divine fire. So he's talking about the Holy Spirit in this burning, but we are the burning bush at that point. But the burning bush is interior, in the heart, and it's experienced in solitude.


That's what he's saying. For aside from the allegorical application to the Immaculate Virgin, now, why does he put that in here? Just to brush that aside? Also, remember that the woman clothed with the sun is also applied to the Virgin, isn't it? The feminine figure returns here, in the burning bush. So the woman clothed with the sun, and the interior vision of the burning bush as being your own humanity, and that feminine wisdom figure, somehow are all together in the rainbow, and giving us the significance and the beauty of the solitary world. The bush that burns without being consumed is human nature, enkindled with the fire of divine love. You see, Mary is the one who was most eminently that. And why he says that that's used for the Immaculate Virgin is because her virginity is not consumed by the fire of the Spirit which brings forth Christ from her.


You see the idea? That's why they applied also the fleece of who was Gideon. And the bush which is not burned by the fire to Mary, her virginity is not consumed, although the fire of fertility, the fire of life, brings forth the child. So that's a magnificent passage that he starts the Constitution with. And then there are more examples here. There are the examples of David and Elijah, and all the people you can find in the Bible. It's a very biblical kind of theology. It's typical of the Fathers, you see, this kind of thing. Here you have the very special application of the solitary life, but otherwise it's very patristic theology. You find that kind of narrow when a monk is defending his own way of life. But basically the sapiential thing is there. And then he gets down to detailed prescriptions after that, and then towards the end he broadens out again


when he talks about the virtues. And he's continually using images from Scripture. It may be the trees. Remember that Isaiah talks about like in the desert, the box tree, and the plane tree, and the oak, and the cypress, they're all to grow. So he uses those for various virtues, of course, interpreted according to the moral sense. And then also the effort that the high priest is to wear on his chest, that's interpreted in terms of virtues. You see that continual attempt to find a luminosity and a depth to mention in the Scripture. Mixed in with legislation. Now, later on, in the later constitutions, that disappears. That sapiential dimension disappears. You have to get just rules. Okay, going on from there, the Blessed Poor Justinian. The best that we have in English about poor Justinianism,


alone with God, which was a collection of his Aramidical writings, edited by John McClough. And there's a preface by Thomas Ferdinand, and then an introduction by Justinian, in which he tells something about the life, an introduction by the preface, in which he tells something about the life of Justinian. Paul Justinian became a novice at Camaldoli in 1510. That is to say that he entered the most ancient of the Aramidical orders that have survived in the Western Church. Camaldoli... He goes on about Camaldoli. Paul Justinian entered Camaldoli at a time when the fervor had lost some of its ancient heat, and he left it for a stricter solitude. Eventually, he was to start a new Aramidical congregation of his own, the Hamlets of Monte Corona. Justinian thus bears the same relation to Camaldoli as the abbé de Lancers does to the augur of Citeaux. And in another sense, he's now an innocent


remaissance, just to the church. And he's... Leclerc got some of the Camaldolids mad at him while writing this book. He wrote two books about this companion, actually. I remember one of the old Camaldolids, Patriarch Bernardo, who was quite a writer himself, said, why didn't he stay in his own sanctuary? He belongs in the 12th century. Because he's a specialist on Saint Bernard. And Justinian is in the 16th. But they claimed he didn't understand. Because what Justinian does is to narrow down the monastic tradition. He focuses, and like de Lancers, de Lancers narrows down and focuses and concentrates the Cistercian life in a highly penitential way. He focuses on one element and loses the breadth of the tradition. And Justinian does something similar. He narrows down and focuses on solitude


to such an extent that he loses a lot of the breadth and the richness of the monastic tradition. And that's typical of reform movements, especially at a certain time. When you want to whip up the fervor again, and you do it, well, sometimes with willpower, sometimes by taking one element and actually utilizing it. Nevertheless, he represents a real rekindling of the tradition. There are a lot of reforms happening around that time. You know, the reform of the Capuchin reform in the Franciscans, and a lot of others going on at the same time. But none of it is the time of the Protestant Reformation, and then the Counter-Reformation comes along, and the Council of Trent and so on. But this is before the Council of Trent. Justinian and his friend, there were two noble Venetians who went to Granada at about the same time. And they were both on fire with the love of God, and they both wanted to reform what they claimed to be kind of a lax monastic situation. In fact, they wanted to reform the whole church.


And the other one wrote this, Quirini was his name, wrote this letter to Leo X, who was the Pope at that time, setting out a vast program of reform for the church. And the Pope didn't listen. If he had listened, the Reformation itself might not have had to happen. Had he listened to that, and the same way I pleased to reform the church at that time, it didn't happen. So Justinian too was a reformer. He had ambitions to reform the whole church, but particularly to reform it to modernism. I'll read a little more of the book. His introduction. That was... That was Merton I was reading. That was from his preface, not from the book's introduction. Merton at that point tended somewhat to idealize this reform


to modernism. Okay, the history. In 1510, at the age of 34, Paul Justiniani entered the hermitage of Camogli as a novice. A year and a half later, shortly after he had pronounced his vows, he was drawn to reform the whole Camogli's order. So he entered in 1510, and in 1511 and a half he was ready to reform the order. In 1520, after 10 years of trouble and effort, he left the hermitage of Camogli to seek out a still more solitary life in absolute indigence. That's when he moved out. I don't remember which settlement that was where he started, but he was a real saint. And so people gathered around him and new borders sprang up around him, which I don't think was his intention. And it's been pointed out that that was not a split in the arts. It was not a split in the Camoglis, whereby some of the brethren formed a separate congregation. He went off alone. And it started up front.


Comfortably, I think, Mother Teresa or something like that leaves one border and starts something else. It was 10 years after he was born. He didn't have much patience anymore. And then he died in 1521. You suspect that his assimilation of the monastic tradition may have been a little hasty. You hear all these desert fathers who were around for 90 years. They're a little hesitant about answering questions. It took him a year and a half. There have been a lot of examples of that. There have been people who come in from outside monasticism and decide they're going to clean it up and come in with a certain idea. And so they do renew it. They do something to it according to a principle that they have. Because they're not really absorbing the whole richness of the tradition. It was a low-level retreat.


Although he started... He wasn't at the top of something when he did it. And he didn't reform something from inside. Unless you say he did that to benedict him. He was a low-level retreat. He was impatient with stability. That's the expression from his life. It's very difficult to evaluate these things. Grace knows no similarity. Yet, afterwards, when you look at a person's work you have to see how well they got it all together. Because Jesus does the same thing, doesn't he? He comes inside an existing structure and he did, in a sense, impose it upon it. So there's always that prophetic... He is. This kind of history is very difficult


to evaluate. If it hadn't been for Justinian, the canonicalist life itself in the mankind of it it might have been much less difficult. In these exceeding times. And yet there was a narrowing that happened there too. It might have been like a tightening up of the ship. They say that Léon Say's reform, whatever we may think of it, was a narrowing of the tradition. Maybe it was the only thing that carried them through. It carried the system through, but they were going to have to go through. Okay, the next constitutions


we want to consider are the ones of 1957 which are in this book. I'll put this on the glass shelf. We don't have it ready yet. Just a few remarks about it so that you can find your way around. And a couple of differences I'd like to point out from the present constitution. First of all, it's divided into two sections. The declarations and the constitutions. The constitutions are in the back of the book and they deal with the structure of the congregation. What would you call them? The parliamentary rules. What the structure is. The legal structure. And how you conduct a general chapter. How you do elections. All those things. So it's juridical material purely. The declarations are inserted after the chapters of the rule of St. Benedict. And in part they comment


on the various chapters of the rule of Benedict. But really that doesn't do it justice to say that because they're really a separate treaty. So some of the material is not really relevant to the chapters of St. Benedict's rule. Some of it is, some of it's not. So this was a particular choice that was made to insert the declarations in the rule of St. Benedict. The same question comes up now as to whether to try to insert the present constitutions into the rule of Benedict or to leave them separate. And it looks like they're going to be left separate. Because if you try to insert them in the rule of St. Benedict, you'll have to atomize them. You'll have to fragment them. And they have a very good structure, a very good unity the way they are now in those ten schemes. So I don't know exactly how they're going to do it. Probably they'll just have to print them, probably print them all up in one book and leave them separate. These constitutions in here


are what you find in schemes two and four and five of the present constitution. And then there's a little of that material which drifts into the first chapters on the abbot and so on. These are good for comparison of the present constitutions to understand what happened at the time of Vatican II and what happened because these are what did I say? They're closer to the constitutions of Justinian in 1520 than they are to the constitutions of 1961. So that's a big jump that was taken in a few years. That's only 12 years in between these and the present constitutions. And the previous gap of time was what? In 1520 than 1957. The historical moment now. Remember in 1935 the Cenobite congregation


of Commodores was reunited with the Hermit congregation. But practically speaking it represented the suppression of the Cenobite congregation. They had to become Hermits really to continue in one monastery. That is the Commodores were seen by the Holy See as being at that time once again really Hermits. And the Cenobite allowed only in function of the Hermit congregation. As a kind of nursery for Hermits. And this is continually trying to change itself from within the congregation. There's something in that kind of principle that doesn't work. And by now the Cenobium has reasserted its right to existence independently. But to be a Commodores you don't have to be destined to be a Hermit. Because if you're not a Hermit yet you can't really


commit yourself to it. If you are not at present, don't have within you the vocation to be a solitary you can't very well promise that you want to in the future. In fact that's up to man. In a way the law has to be flexible enough to accommodate itself to the Holy Spirit. Rather than vice versa. You can't legislate the Spirit. You can't legislate vocation. You can screen vocation. You can say okay we won't take anybody who is not going to be a Hermit. He doesn't have to be a Hermit now, but only in the future. Okay. But how can you tell if that person is going to turn out to be a Hermit or is going to turn out to need another kind of masterhood? You can't tell. You can't tell. Because a lot of people come of course with a Hermit ideal in their mind and then later it turns out that that's not what God wants for them. That's not what they need. So you can't force them into some kind of life which is not meant for them. So somehow the legislation has to be flexible enough to also to make room for the unexpected modes of the Spirit, for the unexpected


needs of people. This is another difficulty you see of narrowing down the tradition too much. Narrowing down the monastic tradition too much and over-specializing. The other example is the example which we see continually of the poor clerics. Okay. We have a cenobitical life which has no room for solitude. So, suppose that you've been a poor cleric for 30 years and you're a saint and a deep interior life is developing within you and you're in this life which is very, what shall I say, very regimented and together all the time and you just don't feel any space for that life to develop as you're living. Then nothing you can do. Nothing you can do. So in a way there too, the monastic tradition has been constricted too much so that you decide, okay, this is what we are and nothing but this. But suppose there's God's system and I suppose there's other spiritual systems at a certain point in life. Let's take a couple of examples


from the Constitution of 1957 just a couple of key points. One key point is the relation of the cenobitical life, the regular monastic life, to the aromantical life. And you get the flavor of this from the first set of declarations after chapter one of the rule. I'll read the first paragraph here. This is number one. The monk hermit congregation is made up of hermitages and cenobium. In the hermitage one attends solely to contemplation. In the cenobium, which is ordinarily considered as the preparatory school for the hermitage, one completes one's monastic formation within apostolic ministries of exorcise and the sickening of hermit therefore. Now this is in the tradition of that first hospitium at Penelope's, because that's what you did there. It started with the hermitage and then the monastery, which was only a hospitium and a guest house at first, was a kind of staging platform, or whatever you want to call it, for the hermitage.


And you go back there to the circle, right after the prayer there, but where it's really at is the hermitage. And if you want really to be a monk or a congregation, you need a hermitage. According to the apostolic re-script, Inter Religiosus Cetos of July 5, 1935. Now that was the re-script from Rome which united the cenobites with the hermits. This congregation is called the Congregation of Monk Hermits of Penelope of the Order of St. Benedict. Now that monk hermit, I think deliberately had a bit of ambiguity in it. That is, monk has two meanings here. It means anybody who's a monk, including hermits, or it means only cenobite, excluding hermits. Now a lot of people understood it in terms of monk and cenobite, a hermit is something else. The deeper understanding, the more traditional understanding is that a hermit's a monk, just like anybody else. So that hyphenated title, monk hermit, has a little ambiguity and leaves open, I think, a little room for the cenobitical thing, given the lack of clarity on those words at that time. It enjoys all the privileges granted by


the Holy See to the Congregation of Penelope of the Cenobite Monks, and is reunited into one single Congregation, according to the terms of the Apocryphal Nation Rescript. So these Constitutions have a relation to that Rescript, like our present Constitutions have to Vatican II and the documents of Vatican II. The Church decrees to Vatican II. The houses of the Congregation which have all the requisites demanded by the Constitutions are, according to Canon Law, autonomous houses sui iuris, governed by major superiors. I don't think this had been in earlier Constitutions. So the autonomous individual house begins to emerge. For a long while, Economics 98 had been centralized so that the superior general, the prior general, and his assistants really govern it from the center. You see the difference? Whereas the tradition of Benedict Instruction is that each house is autonomous, and


the central superiors exercise a kind of moderating role, and also a kind of watchful role, a role of vigilance in their visitation. They come and they pick up on the individual monasteries to see how they're doing, see what they're doing. And even that only came later in the Tradition, because originally you didn't have a big congregation like Cluny. Those were later Reformed Monasteries. Initially we had autonomous monasteries, basically. Even I hear it now, there was a union between monasteries. There was one monastery with a daughter house, but basically the individual house was autonomous. The Convalescence, because of the centrality of Convalescence, and because of the Reform on St. John Road, became centralized, and the central power was at Convalescence. So lately we've been approaching the traditional Benedictine structure, which is the autonomy of the individual house. It begins to emerge here, and the development is about complete in our present Constitution, where the individual house is very critical of autonomy. And in between there are quite a lot of


individual points where this autonomy has to be arrived at. Now as far as we're concerned, that tends to be quite an advantage, because when the Convalesce are all in Italy, it's fairly easy to supervise everything from one center, because you get in your Fiat and you drive over to Montalvo, and you're there in a couple of hours. But that doesn't work when there's a house in California. And besides, it's very difficult for the general superiors to really understand the details of the life as it has to be regularly. So it seems much better if the congregation becomes more than Italian, more than European, that this autonomy be there. Isn't that possible? That's a lot of responsibility. Here's another. Number four. The Convalesce profess the rule of St. Benedict and the statutes of the Convalesce congregation here in England. These are the statutes. The hermitage in which they live, completely segregated from the world,


is considered as the specific element of the order. The religious, therefore, who live in the monastery, devoted to the formation of the realm and dedicated by obedience to certain activities and pastoral work, or who dwell there for reasons of health or for any other reason, in other words, there has to be an excuse for living in a monastery. That's the way it sounds to me. Must live there according to the spirit of the hermitage. So it's almost like we need to be ashamed of living in a monastery and find some reason why they're not in the hermitage and get back there as soon as we can. The priors, moreover, should see to it that from time to time they send their subjects, you don't find that language anymore, I mean subjects, to the hermitage where they will attend to the exercises of the solitary life, leaving to their superiors to decide for what length of time and how frequently they are in the prison. The aromatical life, so this number four is very important, the aromatical life as proper and distinctive of the institute is obligatory on the order. What does that mean?


If the comadres didn't have a hermitage anymore, they wouldn't exist. That's what it means. The Holy See, the Church, the official Church, sees the comadres as being specifically aromatical. That doesn't mean that everybody has to be a hermit. That's not interpreted in that sense anymore. But it means that if the comadres didn't have the aromatical life, they didn't have any reason for existing. There's still where the word is. In the eyes of the Holy See, that's where the word is. And those things are very difficult actually to iron out in the sense of who's right, what's right, and so on. You can see there's a truth to it, right? But that tradition has to be preserved at all cost. That's right. It's the specific thing,


and the risk here is in confusing the specific thing with the whole thing. Or focusing on the specific thing so much that you strangle yourself. That's what you're standing on, is to focus on the specific element. But if you only do what's specific, you can kill yourself. Or at least you can very much quench the life that's present there. This is a very tricky thing to understand. It's hard to understand the masculine intellect, the rational intellect, which is made for focusing. It's made for focusing. The way a man thinks is to separate out and to focus on a particular element and say, that's it. It's not this, it's not that, it's a principle of contradiction. But it's this and this only. It takes another kind of thinking, really, to save life and to prevent that focusing tendency from becoming destructive. And the focusing tendency can also get into the law, it also gets into the legislation. So here, I'm not trying to undermine this principle,


but I'm going to point out that there's more to it than that. Because if you don't have the whole monastic tradition, you're in bad condition. If you make one element the whole, then you're in trouble. Even though it may be the most important element. It's like that vision of the never-panicked recognition of the monk in front of the center. That's a beautiful example, kind of an ultimate example of that thing. The monk exists for the sake of the center. But the center is an emptiness. The center is a void. And the center only exists in relation to what's around it. This is kind of metaphysical. But that's the same thing. If you focus on that center, you can miss everything. If you focus on the exclusion of everything else, you're focused on the exclusion of life. It's like the Jewish way of interpreting the Sabbath at a certain moment. The Sabbath is a knot. The Sabbath is the holiest thing in Judaism. But if the Sabbath is interpreted contrary to life, if you focus on the holiest thing in such a way that you rule out life, and Jesus symbolizes that


by the healings he does on the Sabbath, then you've frustrated the purpose of that holiest thing itself. That's where the thing falls under attack. This is another example. That's right. Similarly, the hermetical life is for man, and man is not for the hermetical life. Solitude is for man, and man is not for solitude. That kind of principle. Even though, to say, okay then, let's do what we like, the perversion of it goes in the other direction. You lose the principle. You lose the focus. You lose the center in terms of humanity. That's right. That's right. Even though much of continually time we're focusing, we have to focus. If we lose our focus, then sort of our life gets thin. Life gets lax.


If we lose our focus. If we over-focus, we fail. You can see people who do that. Yes. Yeah, because the western monk, they're both focused, okay, but the western rational tendency to focus, or to focus with legislation, legally and rationally, mentally, is different from the focus of the sannyasi. Yes. Yes. Yeah. The eastern way is and the holistic versus the basically holistic, you know, versus the rational, the separated isolated rational. But the sannyasi, that particular point is a little


bit tricky, because as you can see, sannyasi monasticism also can be a rejection of the world, which is a complete rejection of the world, which is a kind of focus I'm not talking about, but it can be an exaggeration in that. I think the exaggeration of the question of focus is important, but the focus is the subject protected from the object, is that what we meant when we said that there was everything for simplification everything, including the opus Dei, or the other state, everything is for the opus Dei, including the personal sanctification, but it is a real monastic tradition towards both extremes, and that focusing on one is completely invalid. That's right. So, you have to end up to a kind of a mystery, which transcends both of those, don't you? Which is beyond dualism.


And this is continual in monasticism, we run into that kind of thing, and get a frustrating answer to a question, but as soon as you enunciate the question that way we know that neither one of those is the answer. The liturgy is not just for your individual sanctification. That's not so obvious when you just say it like that, but if you see the consequence, the kind of life that a person will live, if that's what he believes, then you see it. Everything becomes self-centered, and the holiness that he's really seeking isn't holiness at all, it's something else. If you follow that kind of axiom, ordinarily, there are exceptions. There's the exceptional saint who is called to step out of the liturgy and do it simply interiorly, I think, with rare recourse to the liturgy. But there's a danger when we generalize this. I'm not a philosopher yet. Okay, going on with number four here. Each and every professed must aspire after the hermetic life as to a higher degree of the monastic life. So you can see there was a very great care to keep the order between


hermitage and monastery here, and keep the monastery under, keep it in its right place, by continually reasserting the principle of the hermetic life as a child. However, no one shall be obliged to go to the hermitage that had been quite a lot of bloodshed about that. Also, when you're 15 or 16, you've been hermetic for an additional time. Nowhere did it come out there was no country for you. It's cold. But every religious after three years of solemn profession and acquirements after their priesthood have a right to ask for admission to the nearest hermitage or the one united to the monastery. And so on. So you see the quality there. And then we'll see the difference in the newer constitution, the change in mentality. One more point here. That this contemplation may be carried on without blood or hindrance, let every unnecessary intercourse with outsiders


be forbidden without offending charity. Under no pretext should anyone be admitted within the cloister, not even the nearest one, that would be close to Philips. Nor should any cause be offered to them to come to us. Therefore a religious should not involve themselves in worldly affairs, not even with bounds of relations. Unless it is superior for a just cause, should think otherwise. Hence it is forbidden to visit one's family residence. So the language and the mentality there is a lot different from what we find in the other constitutions. I won't point out all the detailed ways in which visiting one's family residence. The word forbidden is fairly frequently, you don't find it in the later constitution. Just like under the Hobo tabular you find in the Council of Trent that you don't find it in the Vatican too. It's related, it's not the same thing. And these constitutions, as I say,


are very close to the constitution of the 16th century. Of Justinianic. And then after the time of Justinianic, our constitutions were very much influenced by the congregation of Matecorana. In fact, at one point, we just about took over their constitution. I don't remember just when that was. And they were much stronger actually than the traditional Canavish congregation for quite a while. In the modern century, 17th to 18th century. This paper they made, I can't remember what they called it, more recently. Whereas our branch, the old branch, originally in Italy, a little bit of an occasion to subordinate to the same point. That's right, that's a new foundation.


After Vatican II, after the second Vatican Council, there was an attempt to get the two congregations together. And especially on the part of Rome, because it's obvious, if you've got two people, two orders who are supposed to be doing the same thing, why should there be two instead of one? Especially since both of them are small. You have to be able to help one another. But these historical divisions are very hard to deal with. And so they didn't really get together. After a while, neither side really wanted to get back together. They had simply become too set in their respective ways. The main difference now is that the Canavish hermits of Monte Corona do not have a synagogue, they don't have the regular monastery, and they have a much more exclusive sense of solitude than do our congregation. So our congregation is a lot more pluralistic. It's a lot more mixed. And hence it tends to have more vitality to it. And that's somewhat threatening to the other congregations. So they weren't able to get irreparably


swallowed up. Oh yes. And then there's the little one in Ohio. One in Spain. I think two in Poland. One of the two. And about five now to this evening. The main one being Frescati. Monte Corona itself is one of the houses, that is another house at a certain point, but that one disappeared. That one no longer exists as a community. The main community is at Frescati, which is about 30 miles from Rome. It's in the Castelli, those sort of resort places around Rome, where the Roman aristocrats used to live a couple thousand years ago. Not far from Grada Ferrata, the Holy Pedigree. So a lot of people know Frescati, it's close to Rome. A lot of bishops and so on visit it. Whereas it takes several hours to get


to Penelope. The biggest house is the other order. It's not really a big house. Size-wise, it's about the size of this, maybe a little smaller. A little smaller than this, probably. And the community is not very numerous down there. And it's a hard-working community. They used to have a lot of lay brothers, only a few priests. Oh, they've got cows. It's funny because it disappears in America. It's quite American. You can imagine America being the majority of Frescati. And he was a very active fellow. Any questions about the post-constitution? Well, that's enough for today. Next time we'll go on with the present constitution of 1961.


Oh, one word about the regime. See, in the constitution, in the back, those were declarations we were reading. Now, in the constitution, you'll find some points on the structure of the houses. Chapter 12, The Constitution of the Community, starting on page 102 and continuing on the next page. Houses sui iuris. Sui iuris means independent housing. To be sui iuris means you exist in your own right. You're not dependent upon another community. Houses sui iuris in the full sense are houses combined of both hermitage and monastery united, and forming one community only with one source of creativity. There's only one example of that, and that's Camelba. Camelba. They have to have twelve religious solemnly professed to exist at that status. Independent houses sui iuris are hermitages only,


are monasteries only. Now, that's what we are. And to have that status, you have to have six choir religious of solemn profession. So, when a house has six solemnly professed monks, now the choir monk thing is not, doesn't mean what it meant before, because before you had lay people and now you just have monks of all choir monks. As soon as you have six and you fulfill certain other requirements, you have to be independent economically and so on. And you have to have an orientation such that the general can approve you. They can give you that autonomous power. And then you can elect your own choir, you can have your own religious and so on. So you can be interactive in the functioning of the church. Okay, that's enough. Next time, cousin comes to visit.