October 14th, 1980, Serial No. 00854

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Monastic Spirituality Set 9 of 12

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It comes from Roberts on page 17 down at the bottom, where he talks about the basic observances of the monastic life of having a double character, they are both instruments for arriving at perfect love and it also signs. So they signify and they do something at the same time, which reminds us of the notion of a sacrament. And I made a kind of excursus here because I think it's important that we be able to get together our notions of why we're doing what we're doing in the monastic world. So remember we talked about Rahner's theology of symbol, so the notion that all reality is symbolic, so as if something unmanifested, something out of mystery, out of silence, is brought into visibility, into manifestation, into


revelation, this being true somehow even in the trinity, and true also in creative nature, true also of man, so that the body becomes kind of the symbol of man. Now if that's true, then whatever touches the inmost part of man, the center, needs in some way to be expressed outwardly. And this is true therefore of the religious life, this is true of the word of God as it calls us, and is true of the action of the Holy Spirit. It needs to be, every charism needs to be expressed in some way. This sounds very banal, but if you think about it, it's also very deep. That's why we want to become monks, is to express what has touched us in some way. Now since what has touched us is God, the expression of it can cause us to go pretty far. It can go for a kind of absolute external expression, which is impossible, and then the monks try to do it. We saw how Knight talks about celibacy as a kind of bodily expression


of relationship with Christ, of a calling to an intimate relationship with Christ. And then he talks also about penance as a symbolic gesture. Now here we can think about solitude, we can think about fasting, we can think about any of the monastic observances really, we can broaden the term a bit. He's talking specifically about penance, but this holds for all of the things a monk does as an expression of his vocation. We say expression quite rightly so. Let us then call penance nothing but a symbolic gesture through which man allows the word of grace response in his heart to take flesh in actions capable of expressing the gift of grace he has been given. If this grace is a desire to be totally overcome by grace and surrendered to God, he may do penance and even speak of it in a way that suggests stoic self-conquest, but he'll really be expressing not a voluntaristic assertion of mind over matter, of intellect and will over emotion, but simply a desire to be overcome, and his helplessness to overcome himself by the also doing power of grace.


And then he goes on to talk about the different ways that we may feel motivation to do penance and the way that we think about it. And we're not really maybe doing what we think we're doing. I think if we have sorrow for sin, we may think we're making up to God for sin or something like that. But more deeply, we're simply expressing that sorrow. Man cannot refrain from letting the word of his love take flesh. And so penance becomes a language more passionate than words. Remember Clement when he talks about the two dimensions in the church, the dimension of the word and the dimension of the spirit. Now, you can express all of these things through words, and so is done by the theologians and the preachers. Or you can express them in the dimension of the spirit, and the spirit is related to the body. So in the dimension of the spirit and the body, as you do in the monastic life. And he relates, calls the monastic life an expression of the spirit dimension other than the word dimension in the church. And then he talks about the excesses of the saints and so on.


We don't need to go into that. And then finally, there's the foreword of Anthony Broome to the Sayings of the Desert Brothers, to Sister Benedict's translation. And he's discussing this insistence that you find in the Sayings of the Brothers on the ascetic endeavor, on these external works of asceticism or penance, which seem to us like stunts sometimes, like competitive kind of monastic olympics or something of the same. He speaks about these things as a response to the love of God. What then shall be their response to this generous, self-effacing, sacrificial love? An endeavor to respond to love for love, as there is no other way of acknowledging love. And this response is the ascetic endeavor, which can be summed up in the words of the Lord Jesus Christ. Renounce yourself, take up your cross and follow me. To recognize one's own non-entity and discover


the secret of the kingdom is not enough. The king of love must be enthroned in our mind and heart. Take undivided possession of our will and make of our very bodies the temples of the Holy Ghost. This small particle of the cosmos, which is our soul and body, must be conquered, freed by a lifelong struggle from enslavement to the world and to the devil. Freed as if it were an occupied country and restored to where it's legitimate camp. Render unto sea that which is Caesar's and to God that which is God. The coins of the earth they came to bear their mark. Man bears the imprint of God's image. We're still for us to be restored to God. Then he goes on about this insistence of the sayings on what seem to be incredible feats of physical endurance. These are not the important things in this spiritual life. We know it's the inner life, it's the purity of heart that's important. But he says that purity of heart is inexpressible directly. You can talk about the inner experience of the saints, but they don't like to do that, first of all, because there's too big of a danger of vanity. And secondly, those inner experiences can't really be put into words anyway. The only way you can express what they experience is in the way they do. Man can live


either by the word of God or by deriving his precarious existence from the earth, which ultimately will point back where it's off. You see, you've got two ways. You can be rooted down here or you can be rooted up above. The more one is rooted in God, the less one depends on the transitory gifts of the earth. To describe to what degree the dwellers of the desert were free from our usual necessities, that is by their fasting and their vigils and so on, their enduring without food and sleep and the other things that we pay so much attention to, is the only way we possess to convey both how perfectly rooted they were in the life-giving realm of God and also how different the world of the spirit is from what we imagine it to be. So he's conceiving asceticism as a language. So we begin to see the monastic life and its observances as a language, as symbolism, but better maybe to say language. And if a person wants to be a monk, what's he trying to do? He's trying to respond in some way to what has been spoken to him and spoken in him by speaking


himself. He wants to speak with his whole being. Now Roberts gets into the individual observances. We've never had five of them. And he goes into considerable detail. What he's doing is he's reviewing the whole of the monastic life here under this vow of conversion. And so it gets pretty long. I'm going to try to skip through and touch only the high points because we don't want to take this as the time for studying the whole of the monastic life. So we'll try to get the comprehension of this. There are some things that maybe later we should come back to because he talks about the obligations of the vow in each of these departments. But the risk is just getting too far up here, getting too much into detail. So you're welcome to ask questions at any point or to interrupt if you want to discuss any of this


because I'll try to go through it rather swiftly. We don't want to spend a long time. Remember the five kinds of observance that he had. First of all, withdrawal from society, and that's solitude and silence. And that's going to be different for us than it is for the Christians, of course. We have greater weight on solitude. Secondly, the life of prayer. Thirdly, austerity of life, which includes all the penitential things, aside from solitude and silence themselves. Fourthly, common life, living together. And fifthly, monastic work. Okay. First of all, withdrawal from society or solitude and silence. It's essential, and there are two factors, and he's continually doing this, sort of splitting things into two aspects. One is personal, individual, psychological, and you could say instrumental because it does something for the individual and in the individual. And the other one is social and ecclesial, that is, it's public. And it's the sign of that. You see, once again, this instrumental thing on one side and the sign thing on the other side. The instrumental one


being individual. He refers to that instruction, venite saorsa, and I'll put this up on the screen. Some of you have already seen this. It was issued in 1969 by the Congregation for Religious Instruction on the Contemplative Life and on the Enclosure of Nuns. So the first part is a general treatise on the contemplative life with special emphasis on solitude and silence, because it's talking about the cloister. The second part applies only to the nuns, and it's a reaffirmation of the revision, to some extent, of the laws for the cloisters of contemplative women. The first part was largely written by Father Benedetto, our general, together with John Leclerc, the two of them together. So it's pretty richly patristic. The second part came from other people, I guess,


jurists. They weren't too happy with the second part. It was probably their number. And I can recommend the first part to you, at least, as a good treatise on the contemplative life in general. It's sort of the biblical and patristic and monastic theology of the contemplative life. He quotes just a few sections of it. One is a quotation from a letter I sent Bruno, founder of the Carthusians. Then he refers to the example of Christ in the desert. Of course, we usually hear about the prophets and the elders and John the Baptist, and then finally Jesus in the desert. And what are the fruits of this solitude, the separation from the world? Spiritual stamina and interiority. Now, there's a comment on both of those. Especially interiority is a little hard to get a hold of. Spiritual stamina or strength is an illusion, of course, to grasp without


particular experience. I'm not going to go through all of this comment unless you have some question on it. A lot of it's precious, too, but we simply can't spend that much time on it. You'll see a lot of reflections of Thomas Merton's doctrine of solitude. The other function of solitude and silence is social and ecclesial, a public witness to the eschatological orientation of the mystery of Christ. Eschatological means beyond, means towards the last things, means not of this world. So, the monk is assigned by the doctrine of solitude and silence, a separation from the world, of the fact that the kingdom of God is not of this world. A quotation from another document, which I don't know. I don't have it, but it's a great story. The words, by the way, mean come apart for yourselves. Remember, where Jesus is in the Gospel, come apart to a solitary place. He says it to the disciples, come aside and rest.


Then, he quotes Gaudium et Spes, a witness to the desire for heaven and home, and once again Benitez de Orson. The prayer of Christ, making that the highest point of the Church, and that which is witnessed, too, by the contemplatives. We call it the intimate life of the Church, too. Then he gets to the norms of enclosures, the laws. First of all, the rule, and the fact that every time you have a monastic reform, they begin to insist, once again, on observing a close turn, a return to the spirituality of the desert. Now, he's talking about cenobitical reforms, in particular, and a cenobitical reform is likely to be accompanied, at the same time, by a revival of the hermetical spirit, as was true in the time of Saint Arnold, who, of course, both revived the hermetical life and reformed a bunch of monasteries, a lot of monasteries. Remember that a lot of those reformed monasteries were put under the guidance, under the supervision of the hermetical commodity, when they formed a congregation.


This solitude is made concrete for the spirituality of the desert. It may sound strange to talk about the desert in terms of the cenobitical life, in terms of desert, but that's the way that the Cistercians thought of their life. Two things. Geographical separation from cities and towns, and monasteries are not in urban places. Secondly, the knowledge of inquiry. He begins to talk about this quite concretely and in detail, and I'll leave it to you to read and to inquire about it, if necessary. At another time, we may go into it in more detail. The reference in our Constitutions is in Scheme 7, number 11, and the following numbers, on page 46. For the cloister, first of all, number 10, our houses are to be constructed in places which are suitably remote, allowing the community the necessary atmosphere of solitude and silence.


So, the urban monastery is not exactly encouraged here. The houses that we have in cities, of course, like San Gregorio on the Rhone, there are really for special purposes there, because of the academic commitment of the school, the school of art. For the cloister, that which is established by canon law, by the general chapter, or by the general council for each community, is to be observed. Now, what was described by the canon law was what is called papal cloister, in canon 597. Papal cloister actually describes the areas that are to be included. It's reiterated part of it in the Spagnete Salesis, on page 16. It knows about women, but basically, it's the same thing if you have a papal cloister.


The enclosure reserved for nuns totally dedicated to contemplation is called papal, since the norms which govern it must be sanctioned by apostolic authority, as well as Holy See, even though they are to be established by particular law, by which are fitly expressed the characteristics proper to each institute. The law of papal enclosure applies to all that part of the house inhabited by the nuns, together with the gardens and orchards, access to which is reserved to the nuns themselves. In the canon law, if you look up that canon, you find out that places which are exempted from the papal cloister are the church, the whole church building, including the sacristy, and parlors, and so on. And that it is subject to revision by the congregation or by the major superior. Our cloister here is not very carefully defined as far as the back area is concerned. It's well enough defined.


The church itself, this room, and the sacristy, and so on, the entire interior of the church building is outside the cloister, as is the guest house, the place in between us, and so on. But otherwise it's clear enough where the cloister is to us. Are there any questions about that? It seems that we still do have papal cloisters, which means that our cloister is sanctioned by the Holy See. It doesn't mean it's determined by the Holy See. It doesn't mean that they tell us where it is, except for the, essentially, I think, the living room. No, the women do that. I think even the abbess, or the poor cleric, has to get the bishop's permission to go somewhere, if she wants to visit another gondola. Oh, you mean permission from the superior. We have a kind of understanding about that, that you can take a walk, you have a kind of a blanket permission to take a walk.


No, we hardly think about that as going outside the cloister, because we don't have a cloister in the back, a wall in the back. For somebody to go outside the cloister to go to town, yes, to go outside, to leave the whole monastic site here, permission is required. Then he talks about the things that offend against the vow, and these are not particularly happy to read, among these things is about batting the breeze. Having a chin-wag. That's not Baptist language at all. An unauthorized chin-wag.


Canon law distinguishes between batting the breeze and shooting the breeze. Can you hang in the breeze? I don't know, I don't think they've covered that yet. Look in the section on Monday. Secondly, the life of prayer. Now, here, look in the Canalese Constitution, Scheme 6, the whole of Scheme 6 is taken up with the life of prayer. Note what he says here. This is the second essential exercise. Under charity, and is second to charity, is the end of all the other particular means of a monastic state. In other words, prayer is not only a means, but it's the goal at the same time. If you're talking about pure prayer, you're talking about contemplation. So there's a very high rank among these observances. Then, of course, the council documents. First of all, about the importance of prayer, it doesn't need much argument.


The difficulty of prayer, he quotes, are the other things. The hardest thing of all. The hardest thing of all is to get the whole of yourself praying, you can say. And to pray all the time. Because that provides real perfection. The council says there are three concrete elements. And he goes into each of these in turn afterward. Reading of scripture, what's here to read? Eucharistic life, divine office. Now, notice that there seems to be a big omission here. And that is, well, what about personal prayer? What about private prayer? What about quiet prayer? Well, that's subsumed under Lectio Divina. That's what the Benedictines are literally doing. And also the Cistercians very often. Which is okay, unless you forget it. I remember when our constitutions were being made. They were going to sort of leave out a section on personal prayer. Or just subsume it under Lectio Divina. But that's kind of dangerous. Because pretty soon you begin to think that all you have to do is read the scriptures.


And your prayer disappears. It's absorbed simply into spiritual reading. It can disappear entirely. Because prayer, in a way, mental prayer, personal prayer, interior prayer, prayer of the heart, is a more strenuous activity than is reading of the scriptures. There are various levels of application to the reading of the word of God. So, often you'll see a tendency to let personal prayer sort of disappear into Lectio. On the other hand, some people forcibly oppose the separation between the two. There's a lot of controversy about that. Which may seem a little silly, but it's important to uphold the reality, the distinct reality, of prayer which is not reading. At the same time, to uphold the unity of the word of God with monastic prayer, Christian monastic prayer. The subject matter is the word of God. We've had this at other times, in other contexts. The difference between Lectio and study, which is difficult to express


in words, it's a real difference. It depends on what you're doing it for, where it's going, where it's ending. It lies more in the attitude of the monk than in the reading of the material itself. There are certain limits. You don't do Lectio on certain kinds of theological reading. Lectio Minnitatsio Ratio Contemplatio Some sort of ladder of contemplatives, as it's been called. And he talks a bit here about more personal prayer. And it has to be realized that you have to set aside a time for this. It does need its own space. And you find in the Commandments of these Constitutions, in that Scheme 6, that there's a section on each of these. There are four sections. There's one on the Eucharist first, then one on the Mass, then Divine Office, then Lectio Divina, then personal prayer. It's got four sections. He's got a nice definition of contemplation. It's really worth


the red mark. Contemplation is the generally brief and passing experience of the intimate presence of God as he unifies one's whole being, thoughts and desires in himself in a central point of the heart which remains unknown to experience. That's good. That's right in the middle of the page 21. I don't know that that's an exhaustive and completely precise definition of contemplation, but I think it's a good one. Presence of God. Usually brief and passing. Well, not necessarily. It can endure for some time, if the person is sitting in silence or before there is a sacrament. Presence of God in a central point of the heart. I don't know where it is, but it's there. Presence of God. Hmm? Presence of God. Well, it's not something you can hang on to for a long while. It depends on


what height, what intensity of contemplation you're talking about, because you can have a kind of quiet, a kind of prayer quiet that can hang on for hours, but the intense experience of this time normally is fairly brief. What happens is, I think often, that a person will be attracted by this. You'll experience his presence, and then he just remains gone as if he were polarized and no longer having the same experience. It's hard to tell what the immediate experience is, like the flash, and then what's yourself looking after that shooting star has passed, or after that flash has set this point off. Anyway, let's see the definition. Unifies one's whole being, thoughts, and desires. Three levels in a kind of trinitarian unity. And in its light, scripture and the themes of salvation and history take on their meaning. So it's a light at the same time, which gives you light as well as love and attraction. It's got a lot of things in it. In the other line,


the pure prayer of passion in St. Benedict. St. Benedict doesn't get nearly as descriptive or poetic or deep about it. It does have to quote quotes. You have to have the need to love God. In other words, you have to have the motivation. The call has to be there. Otherwise, it would be foolish to attempt to take up a monastic role. It's the inner movement, isn't it? The chief way in which we seek God is in prayer. And he talks about reasons why people don't pray or turn away from prayer. And sometimes people have to be told to pray less. Sometimes the spiritual lectors will say that. Sometimes spiritual lectors are pretty crude when they say that. I'm telling somebody to pray less. If they think that you're pushing them away from God, you're really causing a crisis. It's a matter of the way that one prays.


Usually it's a matter of the way that one is making himself nervous or getting a certain type of tension. Rather than getting further away from God. Get away from God because he's bothering you. Because he's making you sick. That's not a very acceptable description. Eucharistic life. Okay, that's number one. It's central. As I said, each of these has its corresponding section in our constitution. Secondly, the divine offers. We need to go into this a little bit more because of the way he talks about the obligations and so on. The special work of the monastery, the Opus Dei. You don't want to misinterpret that in the sense that the monks are here in order to do the divine offers. That's the way it was said sometime in the Middle Ages. This is not to say that every monk


always has the same obligation to his public prayers. The responsibility for the liturgy of the hour is posed directly on the community as a whole and only secondarily on each individual monk. It's a question of personal attractions, aptitudes and duties. What does he mean by that and why does he say that? Remember the priest with his breviary. The priest with his breviary is somebody who is celebrating the divine offers all by himself and the obligation is posed directly on him as an individual. If he doesn't say it at one moment, he makes it up at another moment and so on. The obligation in the monastery falls upon the community that the divine offers be celebrated but then only secondarily upon the individual. It doesn't mean it doesn't fall on the individual. The important thing is that the community celebrates the offers. And then he's going to balance this out later on. Why is it this special work, why is it so important? The clearest communal manifestation of shared contemplative love has no other justification than the glory of God. Therefore it's a good sign


because its purpose is so obvious. It can't be good for anything else. That may seem silly but remember how much Martin talks about the monastic life in that sense. It's only explanation. The monk only exists for God, he hasn't got any other purpose. In a sense he hasn't got any purpose. Same with the divine offers. The praise of God justifies itself. Is it stated there that it's possible for one to stay with him? Yes. When he talks about it's a question of personal attractions, aptitudes, and duties. Remember that they had this labor thing among the cistercians and the brothers had a separate office for one thing a lot of the time. And then they did it for the trapeze. A lot of the trapeze brothers were excused from almost all of the office. And a lot of them had a big problem when they tried to integrate the community. They didn't want


the obligation of the divine offers. They had a big problem. Even after it was an image, it was very heavy for someone. And that's why I think he has to talk this way. Also some of the people working seven or eight hours a day, some of them couldn't get there. They felt that they had an individual personal obligation to the offers to make it up after they finished their work that would be a big question. So he has to make it clear, deliberate in that kind of interpretive way. Okay. I don't think that they forced them all to do the whole office. I think they still make exceptions. I think he's trying to moderate the obligation so that those exceptions


will still be allowed. The obligation is on the community, it's not on each individual as it's on each individual priest. I don't know. The same thing is true in measure for those. He's excused from those hours. And yet the life should be structured so that it doesn't happen. At least some of it is not necessarily absent from the major hours. The liturgy, the Lectio Divina, the service of the community will vary according to different personal locations or local circumstances. And the abbot is supposed to be the moderator of that. And I don't know concretely exactly what he's talking about. I think it's simply usually the work, but also the fact that some monks feel called upon. And he's allowing leeway for those monks to


do the office differently than the whole of the community. In general, however, there still is an obligation, a responsibility to pray the hours even when the monk is not with his brother. And then he goes way back to St. Proconius. St. Benedict, Chapter 50. Let's see that. Now, Chapter 50 is on brethren who are working far from the oratory. They're outside the monastery. They cannot get to the church at the proper time. Shall perform the work of God in a place where they're working, bending their knees in reverence before God. Some of those were sent on a journey. Now, this is relative. There are times when you simply can't do it. So, at those times you're tempted. And remember that what he's talking about


here also refers to people who have made the vow of, it doesn't refer as such to novices and postulants, but of course somebody preparing himself for that vow. He should be corresponding to it. He should feel himself relatively under the same responsibility. Liturgical reform. Emphasis on two aspects. First of all, the authenticity of the hours. That means that they're supposed to be, they're related to a certain hour of the day, so they shouldn't all be piled up at 11 o'clock at night as used to happen often with priests. Sometimes even with monks who are not in choir. Secondly, the diversity of the hours. Some are much more important than others. Morning prayer and evening prayer are the most important. Then comes vigils and finally the vows. So, if something has to be omitted, one should go according to the four hours. And he talks about the value of the office.


It is truly the value of the office that the voice of the bride addressing her bridegroom and the very prayer which Christ himself, together with his body, addresses to the Father. That's the, that's a very important point. That the prayer of the office of psalmody in the choir is not just us, but it's the body of Christ. The body of Christ with its head addressing this eternal praise to the Father. And there you see the relation between the Eucharist and the divine office. The Eucharist in which Jesus is the high priest as well as the victim, as well as the offering. And the office. And we join in both of them. In the office, as it were, our part is more visible. In the Eucharist we sort of stand there and participate spiritually and in our hearts, but the great work is his in the Eucharist. The mystery of his offering and his relation to the Father is more present there. Okay,


we should embrace the many minor inconveniences and bothers with prayer in common, especially some prayer can imply. I leave that to your own imagination. That's what he's talking about. Two realities that there are in domestic vocation. First of all, the vocation aptitudes and personal graces of each brother. Secondly, the common witness, the community's liturgy of prayer. Any questions or comments on the life of prayer before we go on? We're skipping through pretty quickly. We can't do it all at once. ... ...


I think we don't know much about this. I don't think we know enough to say what's better than what, except that we know the value of two things. We know the value of the totality of the mystical body that we're celebrating together. ... On the other side, we know the totality of the presence of God in solitude, and the very great value that can have, especially in the harmonies of that time. He's a very holy person. So we got those two values, and it's very hard for us to put one above the other. I think it would be better to see them somehow in relationship with one another. ... Oh yes, I see. ... So the whole thing is like


many little flames which turn into one big flame. But you only have one little flame, like one gas trap. ... That's right. That's right. That's right in the New Testament. ... Yeah. ... A lot of things like that, we're just supposed to sort of leave ourselves open to the mystery. But the main emphasis that you get from the Church, of course, is the value of the theological code. And then the hermit, being a silent guy anyway, is supposed to be misunderstood. ... That's all right. People, you know,


like Merton says, they're supposed to be like a bug, ... In a sense, when he's overpraised, when the value of his solitude is too much underlined, it begins to spoil him. But we know that the solitary pure of the saints, the solitary pure of the heart, ... Austerity of life. Now, here I refer you to Gnati's Constitution, Scheme 7, page 43 and the following. Also, Scheme 8, the first part, which I'm proud of. Don't you have the Constitution? Did you use them for your ... We'll have to make some money. Everybody should have a company. Don't you have one, Frank?


Scheme 7, that's the one on monastic and citizen. And then the first part of Scheme 8, which is on poverty, the second part of it is on work. Now it gives a different aspect to this austerity of life, which we have a hundred names for, you know, penitent, citizen, whatever. First of all, a sharing in the sufferings of Christ. But secondly, there's this practical thing that it does to us. It strengthens our will, subjects the body to the soul, roots the moral virtues in our whole being. Then he puts the two together. God uses our austerities in order that our human personality, wounded by concupiscence, concupiscence is a general thing of weakness, greed, lust, pride, everything that pulls us down. It's the flesh. St. Augustine's work for the flesh.


Be re-established in the image of Jesus and give itself to his service and contemplation of plenitary liberty. So he combines both of those. The ascetical and what you'd call the theological, where we're uniting ourselves with the sufferings of Christ. Then he talks about two in particular, and here he reminds me very much of Luth, if you read Teachers to Pray, the section on praying with the body. Abstention from food and night prayers, fasting and vigils, which interrupt two of the rhythms of our life, the rhythm of eating, the rhythm of sleep. That's pretty profound what he says there. I think it does come from Luth. We can begin to break these cosmic rhythms in the name of Christ and transcend them to a place of prayer. Our obligations, he says they're no longer excessively esteemed. Therefore we shouldn't exempt ourselves from the fasts and funerals, vigils, and austerity, and all of the things which I'm going to set up in a moment.


Reserved and requesting legitimate exemptions. It should hurt quite a bit before we ask for an exemption, a dispensation. None of the things that go against our conversion in the realm of the citizen. Excessive eating, especially if you're obese. I hope so. Habitually seeking pleasures, comforts, and pleasures. Then there's a matter of joy, enthusiasm, which, when you're in a particular mood, will make you even more annoyed than somebody else's. What ought to distinguish the penance and austerity of the Christian monk is joy and enthusiasm. There's nothing worse than to be told you ought to be joyful. You've got to be enthusiastic.


Sadness or lukewarmness, which is joy. Then he speaks surprisingly of Mary, the mother of our joy, to help us get out of it. I think he's got something to say. In practice, now I'm getting down to the rest of the text, the obligations are fulfilled by accepting the ordinary penances with an enthusiastic one of faith, that is, you don't have to go out and do spectacular things. This is the principle of money in our living system. The first and most important penance is that which is already given to you. It's built into the rest, the core of the rule. And second is that which you think of for yourself. This includes, also, not only things which are deliberately unintentional or unethical, but work in a rather, if you don't like it, spiritual and atmospheric kind of way. Common life. Now this is different for him than it is for us, because remember that the cenobitical life, especially the Trappist life, put a great accent on common life, whereas for us, we're in between. There are the two values of solitude and common life.


Notice the relation of this one to the first one there, separation from society, withdrawal from society. He talked about enclosure and silence there. He didn't talk about solitude as such. We have to introduce another element in that withdrawal from society, which is solitude, a certain separation from one another, the way that we live, ourselves and so on, which also moderates this fourth element of common life. Now, it may surprise you that he relates this, first of all, to poverty, primordial expression of the evangelical poverty which we promised. But then you remember that in the Acts of the Apostles, what characterized the Jerusalem community was that they put all things in common. That was sort of the physical, visible, external sign of their community was their poverty, that form of poverty which is having things in common, not having things in common with it. So you see how the two are related. The common life constitutes, in the same way as consecrated virginity, a living and provocative sign of what the life of every Christian will be after the last coming of Christ.


It's interesting that he puts those two side by side. Common life and consecrated virginity as two signs. And he relates the common life to poverty, but consider that by celibacy, consecrated virginity, the person abstains from the common life with one person, or has been sharing his life with one particular person, therefore concretizing his own life around, in a sense, around himself, in himself. In that particular way. He lets go of that in order to espouse God, in order to espouse Christ, but at the same time he also joins himself to a community, and therefore commits himself to this common life. So there's a strict relation between the two. And they're both witnesses, both the abstaining from marriage, and the visible, and the love, the conjugal love, the not having that, giving that up, the abstinence from that, and also, of course, from the whole bottle thing.


And secondly, the visible sign of a loving community are related, you see. And there's a kind of a transformation that's supposed to happen, a kind of a transformation of Eros into something else, which you'll probably talk about some more. And thirdly, is that this sign of what's supposed to happen in, through the Holy Spirit, moving from one kind of love to another, which is not saying a married love is the only way. It's only saying that, in some way, this witnesses to the Christian history with a certain kind of morality. And then he points out that it's eschatological, that ultimately, they're neither married nor taken or given in marriage, or having Jesus. So, both of these are eschatological signs. Both the abstinence from married life and the espousing of community are signs of a loving community.


Okay. So, a monastic life community is not simply a more or less happy gathering of a group of nice people. Don't be disappointed. There's a concrete expression here and now, the great mystery of reconciliation and unity of all mankind. So, any Christian community, and the monastic community in particular, which is a virginal community, is a sign of this great unity of one in Christ. And it's very important, he says, that you have this kind of vision in a community where there are very different kinds of personalities. In other words, there isn't all that compatibility. Otherwise, you'll never be able to make it. Otherwise, you won't be able to put up with those differences. If your community is only motivated, is only based on natural sympathy, natural attractions, you won't be able to do it. You won't be able to do it. What are our responsibilities in this community? Three obvious ones. Common liturgical prayer, common work, meals and food in common.


Reconciliation. Avoid one another all the rest of the time. Positive obligation to common life. Irregularity and punctuality. You're supposed to be there at the times, at those common acts, and be there on the night. Especially in relation to former fathers. I should give you a good example. Habitual negligence, go against the book. Common life is the principal and indispensable expression of poverty. It's domestic poverty. He's going to go into a part of this later. Dispensation from the obligations of common life. For instance, common work. That's obvious. The greatest enemy of the common life is a spirit which seeks privileges, special permissions, and escapes.


But as a person becomes, he gets unconscious at a certain point and starts looking for these special things for himself. This idea of being special, of looking out for oneself. We fail to disregard and we pile up with or without permission. It's not necessarily a sin of disobedience. Useless or superfluous things in private life. Christ is our only bread. A tendency to avoid others would also be against the common life. This includes fleeing from the presence of individuals, people we don't like, or from the community in general. Cultivating exclusive friendships. Not participating in community meetings or so. Common life is the opposite of a rigid life. That means a regimented life. Common life doesn't mean that you're all lined up in rows and that you've got to conform. You've got to be there at that moment. That's not what holds it together. It has to be love that holds it together. But what has to be avoided is an antisocial tendency. It's not regimentation versus antisocial. It's love, community, versus antisocial.


Okay, finally, monastic work. And of course he starts with St. Paul saying, He who does not work should not eat. And then he reviews all of the reasons he can think of for monks working and he knocks them all down as not being the principle, the central reason for monastic work. Now why does he go into this sort of polemic here? It must be because work was a special problem among the chakras. And of course it was because it tended to be exaggerated. Martin writes a lot about this, where the whole monastery gets geared to producing some kind of article. And the sanctification of the individual monk or somebody, the real goal of a monastic life gets lost in some kind of commercial aim, in some kind of furious material. So he's got four reasons that he sets up here. First of all, the monk should be independent from the world. He shouldn't depend on the arms of secular because that's part of his separation.


The monk leads a penitential life and the painful part of work is also part of this. Thirdly, the monk's work has a liturgical value. That may seem a little odd to us, relating it to the Eucharist, to the office, to the praise of God, the sanctification, as it were, of life in the monastery, all kinds of activity. Fourthly, the monk should be an example for the laity. Therefore, he ought to be exemplary also with his work and show the true meaning of work, the sharing in the creative action of God. You would think, well, gee, that might not ought to be it. But no, he's not going to make that the answer. The truth is, there is much value in each of these four approaches to monastic work, but none touches the heart of our vocation. Now, goodness, where were we? Before all else, then, the monk is a lover of Christ.


So he renounces everything, even the privilege of directly consecrating the world, in order to seek the face of Christ and encounter there the glory of the Kingdom of God. So he's bringing it back to the monk himself in some way and to his search for God. If he's going to be satisfied with one of these reasons for monastic work, it's got to be somehow related directly to that search for God on the part of an original monk. He says there's something to avoid and something to achieve. Something to avoid are the things that get into people when they don't work, when they're not committed, not occupied. Lukewarmness, laziness, idleness. Cashin talks about that at Chedi. That's right, he doesn't have any problem with that. There were things like that in the Middle Ages, too, where the monks would be supported by lay people.


The idea was that the monks pray and the lay people work and do things in the world for their support. But that can really get perverted at a certain point. They're really monks when they live by the labor of their own hands. Because otherwise what would happen is you'd get a bunch of lazy monks who are only half human, and you'd get a bunch of sinners who are paying the monks to pray for them so that they can continue sinning. Now that's a slight exaggeration, more than slight. But you get that sort of thing, which is unreal, because everybody has to be fully human, you see. Everybody should be striving towards holiness and praying. Everybody should be working, you see. Otherwise you get these weird imbalances. Okay, well that's a medieval set-up, structure, which is okay in a religious society. Which is okay at a certain level of society, as it was in the medieval world.


When people respected the monk, and they would support the endeavor of the monk, they'd say it's okay, it's relatively okay. You can argue that it still could be okay for the rest of the world. But we're not in that kind of society. So for monks not to work and to go around, they didn't know it was human, right? There were a whole lot of ideologies in the field that said, no, a person has to understand people. I didn't know this part of the message. Sure. But for different reasons, different reasons. And I think that maybe Roberts, in his attempt to get right to the core of the matter, I think he oversimplifies it a bit. I think he imbalances it a bit. Because work is a very complex thing. It's got about ten different dimensions to it, and all of them are important. Okay? Let's go through his argument, and then we can look back and see where he's going. What he really wants to get down to is that the work is for the sake of the monk. For the sake of the monk's monastic life, his spiritual life, and not for the sake of anything else. And the monastic life is for its own sake. It doesn't have any purpose.


It's only for God. So first of all, it avoids the dangers, that is the laziness and idleness and lukewarmness and so on. And secondly, and it aims at the transformation of the monk without denying the value of consecration. In other words, the monk's work is on himself. The monk's work is on himself, and all the other work he does should be instrumental to that, subordinated to that. But positively, it's an encounter with Christ, above all by being an expression of evangelical poverty. And then he points out the relationship to obedience, but that's not that compliant for him. The ascetical and Christological values are for a number of reasons. He recognizes the other values, but they're not opposed to the ascetical and Christological values that contribute.


But he puts them strictly in a secondary place. Especially those things like development of human talents and personality and so on. It will always be necessary to return to the basic principle. Work is an ascetical exercise at the service of the contemplative charity of each monk. Therefore, the primary norm that governs work is not what will be achieved in an external way, but rather what it will do for the monk himself. Now you can hear Martin's voice behind me, complaining about the intrinsic dishonor amongst the honest in this industry, for which he saw no point. The problems of economic support and hospitality ought to be resolved from this fundamental need and not vice versa. The work of the monk is not principally a means of production, but a protection for the contemplative life and real participation in Christ's redeeming authority. Now I have to tell you, I find this a little problem with this, because I think he's over-dualized it.


He's almost opposed them. But what he's trying to do is straighten out a twisted situation. He's trying to rectify a mistaken attitude on the part of a lot of trappists. At least the sort of attitude that is expressed in the way of life, where work tended to take over. But in doing that, I think that he isolates one dimension too much from the other dimensions. Because work is a beautiful thing in the sense that, at the same time that it does develop you aesthetically, it develops you humanly, and joins you with Christ, but it also joins you with the rest of mankind. There's a solidarity in work, if you want to put it that way. It's the way that you communicate with other people. If you make something that they use, it's not that your product is the important thing, but it's a means of communication. It's an indication of solidarity. You are really inseparable from other people. Which is a little contrary to the first thing that he introduced there about being independent from other people.


It seems that way. You don't have to be, but I think it's good to be. Is that a part of being a society? Yeah, but you can't separate yourself. You can't be a puritan and say, I don't get my hands dirty, in the sense that I don't involve myself at all with society and the way that society operates. Saint Benedict says, well, charge a little less for your product than what you charge for other people outside. He doesn't say that you mustn't sell. And the monks always do. They always sell their things. So, the matter of money, that's part of our situation. There can be a consumer society, which is very corrupt and very corrupting. And the monks have to find a way to deal with that without getting over-involved in it. But, I think the solidarity, as Milton has always insisted, is a little more important than the feeling of a perfect gift.


Would you get someone as a candidate, and just allow them to find another way? Oh, yeah. Sure. Well, that's what he's talking about. That's what he's fighting against. That's why he stresses this other thing so much. I think the solidarity is important. Because a monk does separate himself from other men, the ways that he relates to other men are important. Like his work. So, his work, like pottery or whatever, should express him as a monk and as a human being at the same time. Pottery, for instance, can be a means of communication, a good one. Fruitcake is not such a good means of communication, because it's not so expressive, somehow. It's too easily commercial, and it's too much a luxury product. It's difficult to find something that really speaks for the rest of the cake. There's a bit of a luxury product to it. But at least you can get one aspect of it. If a dimension of beauty is expressed in your product, that's something.


Because beauty should be the natural radiance of a master's work. Christianity should be akin to beauty. It should express itself in terms of beauty, which too seldom has been true, especially in our time. I don't know why it's a problem. I think it's probably a few years ago. Yeah. I don't know. I think often it's because they're gift things, okay? And certain kinds of things you can sell because they come from your place, they come from your monastery. People will buy them and use them as gifts because they have the name of the monastery or something like that. I don't know.