October 21st, 1981, Serial No. 00690

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Monastic Spirituality Set 5 of 12

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And last time we spent part of an hour, I think, talking about a kind of framework.
And a bit about the bibliography, about the books that are available.
Unfortunately, not much is available in English on Dorotheus.
And Dorotheus and Bartholomew and John, because they comprise our circle.
Most of the stuff is in French.
I urge you to learn to read French, at least sometime.
We've got Wheeler, this translation with a long introduction to Dorotheus.
The introduction is largely a historical introduction.
It's on the life of Dorotheus.
Whereas usually when people write an introduction, they also go into the spiritual doctrine.
He's got that sort of mixed into his account.
And you'll notice that in that introduction is the life of Dosithi, as he calls him in English, or Dosithius.
It's from page 37 to 44.
Now the documents, actually the source documents about our people seem to consist of three things.
The letters of Barcinophus and John.
There are about 840 letters written by Barcinophus and John, the old men, who were both recluses.
And some of them are written to Dorotheus and some of them are written to his monks.
They only communicated by letter, not by voice.
And so those are unique, those letters, in being the only
collection from ancient times, as far as I know, of letters of spiritual direction.
It's Father Haussler who comments on this.
Those things are not so rare in our time, but they're very rare to have them preserved from that time.
And you see, it's the particular situation of that reclusion that made it happen, because otherwise those things would have been said, and the record of them would have been lost.
They're like the apothegmatron in that respect.
They're written down usually by a secretary and transmitted to somebody else.
Then there's the life of Tositheus, which is usually printed along with the works of Dorotheus.
He was the first disciple of Dorotheus, it seems.
And his life is kind of a concrete
epitome of Dorotheus' teaching of that whole way of life, the virtues of Dositheus.
And we've got that in our introduction instead of printed media.
And it's a pretty full account of the life of Dositheus too.
I don't think anything essential, anything important is left out.
It's nearly as long as the original.
It's just woven into the introduction, or given as a kind of digression in the introduction.
Where did he write them or where does he get the information?
Okay, I think they're in his books, somewhat scattered in his books, like Penthos and especially the one on spiritual direction.
There's one called Direction Spirituelle in Orient Autrefois, which means spiritual direction in the East in the good old days.
One of his chief sources is the letters of Vaisnavism and Jainism for spiritual direction, because that's the best preserved source.
And he loves Vaisnavism and Jainism, he's got a very high esteem for it.
So from time to time I can get some of Vaisnava's comments on that.
I can get those books and at least give you something there.
Okay, so the three sources are the letters of Barcinopheus and John, which are actually, we have them in full, our collection is still entirely preserved.
It's in Greek, it's in French, this is the French edition here.
They do a beautiful job on some of these things.
I think these were put out by Solemn Tudor, I believe.
Yeah, this Rein Yalt, he has really done a service as far as these particular masters are concerned.
He's edited a whole bunch of things.
The critical edition of Dorotheus, for instance, is his work together with one of his students.
And this little book, Spiritual Masters in the Desert of Judah, which has the life of Tositheus, it has
a collection of Dorothea's discourses, same as we have in here, and then selections from the letters of Bartholomew and John, from the three basic sources.
And then his introductions are great too.
He's the number one authority in this, and he's a good authority too, he's a person who writes deeply about these things when he's discussing.
He's also edited other, this is put out by
He's also done some editing of the Epitaph and written about it.
He wrote a very good introduction to the sayings of the Protestant.
Okay, so that brought frustration.
Do you have that?
It's under your name.
You're the one.
You should put it on the shelf because you've had it for a year.
I saw.
Now your sins come out.
But it's not to Dorotheus.
It's letters to other people.
He started, I think, the first part of the collection.
He started a piece of the collection, then he was going to do the whole thing, but Chidi died.
If you put that on the shelf over there, then the others can go look at it too, just to get a sample.
That's right.
He needs to learn a few more words, a few more English words.
Right now, instead of... He tends to use it in a mixture of the two.
Keep Romuald in your prayers.
Last week he wasn't so cheerful.
He was getting intimidated by the studies again.
You'd have to take that in the interterm.
That's after Thanksgiving, when the first semester is over.
And the bad news comes in.
Then they have what they call an infotainment for Christmas.
And they can concentrate on one thing during that time.
So he would concentrate on reading.
Get some tutoring, reading and composition.
Get some tutoring and take a speed reading course.
So he's interested in that now.
So that's the way.
About the background now.
We said something about dates and places last time, and chronology, and the maps, and so on.
He gives a general background to this whole area, but he doesn't give you much particular background on that.
If you read that section on what his fathers were talking about, what he talks about is the letters of Orson Nufrius and John, and he tells you a little bit about the monastery of Sarasvati.
But he doesn't tell you much about Dorotheus.
See, he was the one who edited the letters, so I suppose he knew it all from that point of view.
He was not so familiar with the other sources.
It's surprising that he doesn't tell more about the general history.
He gives the broad background, because his book is probably the fullest book on the broad background of that time.
But when he focuses in on this area, he doesn't tell you much about that particular scene.
There's one thing that he does say which is very interesting.
It's on page 132 in Chitty's book, Desert is a City.
He talks about the two old men, the great old man and the other old man.
Or Varsanufius, Varsanufius is his name.
That B changes into a B. And also a minor B. And the other old man, John, was also called John the Prophet.
and who were just like two expressions of the same soul.
And they did differ in the kind of advice that they gave, the feel that they covered, which is interesting.
The community took the form of a synovium with the cells of anchorites in varying degrees of enclosure clustered around it.
Now that's fascinating because it suggests what?
It suggests the cannibalist kind of life.
With synovium and moving out into solitude, the common life radiating out into different degrees of solitude.
We've got different patterns.
The Holy Land seems to have been especially fertile in those kinds of combinations of common life with solitary life.
We don't see the same sort of thing so often in Egypt.
The two seem to be more distinct.
Here they're united.
And what's more, the relationship between the people involved is a fascinating expression, I guess.
And which has a lot to say to us, because we're going to be living in the same territory, as it were, and having the same kind of relationships, having the same kind of problems, the same realities to confront.
Marcin Ufius is a lot like Saint Romuald in a way.
The difference, the main difference being that he just stays in one place.
But remember how Saint Romuald, being predominantly a hermit, yet related to the cenobitical life,
And he would go around and reform a monastery and stay there for a little while, or he'd park himself in a cell nearby the monastery and then act as spiritual father for the abbot or the monks.
And then he'd move to somewhere else and shut himself up like Bartholomew Sanofius.
But Bartholomew Sanofius stayed in one place.
Also you have to remember that his was a time of founding.
In St.
Ronda it was a time of reform.
when there was an existing monasticism, and the Aramidical monasticism was coming into a new relationship with it.
And Ceronio was more of an organizer of monasticism.
But the two were very much alike, and they're fascinating characters, both of them in a way.
Now, there's this article which you're probably reading now, aren't you, for lunchtime?
One by Nate.
which opens up this rather interesting aspect of the situation more.
And he talks about the relationships between Arsenopheus, John, Abbot Syridos and Dorotheus.
There's one thing, by the way, there's a kind of inconsistency in
In Wheeler's introduction there, he says that Dorotheus left the monastery, that he didn't leave the monastery of Tawatha and found his own monastery, as most of the sources say.
I haven't found anybody else that agrees with him on that, so I don't know what the evidence is.
He says that Dorotheus stayed at Tawatha and then later became a hesychast himself, right, in a solitary cell, whereas the others say that he found a monastery of his own and remained there for the rest of his life.
I don't think they say that he moved out into solitude in this new monastery, is it?
You can correct me if you find anything I don't know.
It seems to me like the three justifications he gave for this opinion were the sort of thing you could interpret it one way or the other.
They weren't clear at all.
He was presenting them like they were concrete evidence and he didn't seem to be making that... It seems to me he was wasting his time.
Yeah, it was kind of a logical thing.
it makes it a neater situation, and we can think also of it being a more unified situation with Barcinopheus and John Dorotheus and his disciples still all on the same circle, but we just don't know.
I'd like to emphasize a couple of points in this article by Francois Nate that is a form of charismatic authority in Gaza.
Now what he's talking about is the way in which Barcinopheus, in Barcinopheus' charism and personality,
radiated out to these various circles, especially to the monastery, related to the life of the Sanogya.
And the characters that he talks about are Varsanufius and John, of course, and then Dorotheus and the abbot, Salidas.
He talks about the relationship between Dorotheus and John.
And then between Barcinopius and Dorotheus.
And John is the consultant on more practical matters.
He's the one who tells you how to answer a particular problem.
So Dorotheus would recur to him on the questions of how to get along with the brothers, how to exercise his office, and so on.
And John is sort of the lesser of the two old men.
The other one is the great old man.
They defer to one another, but John handles more the practical questions, and especially the questions of relationships, of dealing with other people, of the exterior life in its details.
Whereas Bartholomew is more the spiritual master and treats things, as Nate says here, in terms of ultimate values rather than practical solutions.
It often seems to go off into just a spiritual homily, which moves back from the practical question and tries to motivate the person in terms of the ultimate values, in terms of the presence of God or the experience of God or whatever.
Dorotheus consults John on everything that concerns his relationship with the brethren, especially as to the measure of obedience due to Abbot Seretus.
And then, the two old men always back up the abbot.
They work perfectly in unison there.
And yet the abbot always defers to the old men, as far as deep spiritual direction is concerned.
But as somebody else points out, it couldn't have been that way all the time.
That is, that opening of the heart couldn't have only been to Bartholomeus and John.
It must have also been directly to the abbot.
In fact, we can't consider that the monks got all of their spiritual direction by a letter from the grand old man, or the old man, the recluses.
Part of it must have been directly from the old man.
The old man maybe didn't consult them when it was particularly difficult.
I think so, yes.
Especially a particular difficulty which
related to how to deal with the abbot, or something like that, or the interpretation of obedience.
Suppose the abbot just said something, a question of how to react to it, how to relate to it.
And it may have been sometimes that the abbot was busy, and that he couldn't have enough contact with the monks, especially as regards their inner life.
And so his general contact with them may have been
a less individual, less personal love.
Whereas John deals with relations with the brethren, Bartholomew's role is realized in the spirit of prayer, vocation, spiritual struggle, and the fundamental orientations of life, such as the necessity for working in the infirmary and the need for hesitation.
So these are letters from the two to Dorotheus, not to anybody else, but perhaps the same
There appear in these letters two types of relationship, or even of authority.
Barcinopheus instructs Dorotheus in the light of ultimate values, especially prayer and intercession in Jesus Christ, whose role in his day-to-day life is authenticated by John.
So it's as if Barcinopheus traces the great lines in the ultimate framework, and then John fills in some of the details.
And he's got two conclusions here.
In the first place, John advises Dorotheus chiefly on points relating to life in the monastic community, where he upholds wholeheartedly the authority of Abbot Cerritos, whose position could not have been very easy.
Secondly, John the prophet not only effaces himself before Barcinopheus as soon as it's a question of vocation, prayer, or intercession, or the inner life, but freely admits that his own confidence and strength rest on a profound communion and prayer which unite the two hermits of Gaza and Jesus Christ.
So Barcinopheus is a mysterious figure.
He's off in the distance there.
You never see him.
In fact, they said that he lived for 50 more years in the cellar.
Nobody saw him.
And in fact, the patriarchal love of ours came to get skeptical about it, didn't think there was anybody there.
So finally he came to check up on the open door and fire came out.
Scorched a certain number.
But that was usual in those days.
You had to burn up a few of the bystanders in order to make a really good show.
It was like Elijah, you know?
Fifty soldiers at a blast.
We might say that Barcinopius was the novice master of Dorotheus.
Most of his letters refer to the earlier part of his life.
The great old man shows himself to be a spiritual master when ceasingly he calls his disciple to the essentials.
Rarely can one find in ascetic writings a spiritual father who gives so constantly and so uncompromisingly the word of life, which both demands and arouses inner liberation and conversion to trust in the merciful God who is the lover of mankind.
It's the sort of thing that we can interpret in two ways.
You interpret it either with frustration and resentment as being a kind of vague generality.
What good does that do?
I could hear that from anybody, the same old words.
Vague generality or sort of the doting of an old man.
or you interpret it as being the essence, and if you find the essence, then you have the rest.
Remember that definition of a master as someone who teaches essence and who doesn't deal so much with the details or with the periphery.
A master is someone who teaches essence.
When the essence is perceived, he teaches what is necessary to expand the perception.
He begins from the center and not from the fringe.
He imparts an understanding of the basic principles of the art.
before going on to the meticulous details.
Anyway, that kind of thing.
So Barsanubis maybe talks about the center.
But the point of all this, the fascinating point is that if you have the center, in a way you have everything.
The whole of the education is designed to put you in possession of the center, of the essence, in the same way that the master is in possession of the essence.
And it's as if that's what he's trying to train you to all the time.
A Zen master will do something like that by frustrating the disciple about all of the details.
either by forcing him into the details and making him open and close doors for four years or something, or when he asks a question about a detail, just refuse or just in some way block the question and answer with an enigmatic answer, kind of koan.
Trying to teach, as it were, by induction the essence of the thing, which must be then very simple.
And which is transmitted by a kind of living contact, rather than by any particular words.
It's a matter of catching on somehow, or maybe catching... There seems to be a communication to what, in the story of St.
Seraphim, where he has the person in the apple, and he takes the apple and something happens to him.
Sometimes there's an object like this, like a sacramental transmission, and one lady doesn't know him.
The sources of the techniques and the procedures that develop within the master tradition in the Middle East.
I was thinking about how, in last night's reading, Paul is already seeking his backing down on the purity of the message because of the pressure of his surroundings.
And I was thinking, well, I wonder how much of our aesthetic condition is really the creation of the surroundings and not actually
I think that would tend to purify the thing and keep that from happening, keep it from kind of being created from the outside, rather than the source of the development, the form would always be coming from the inside.
the kind of touchstone that you go back to, or the kind of light that you go back to to light your own light, or the touchstone that you go back to to check on the authenticity, which means... Authenticity means originality, that it goes back to the... and has the fullness and truth of the original gift, of the original charism.
A person like that is supposed to be exactly that.
But that has to be verified for him,
somehow by his spiritual freedom.
That is somehow, we feel at least, the need to check out that person with the way that we conceive the charism, what it should confer on the individual.
And what you find is a kind of paradox of strictness and freedom, okay?
of largeness and generosity, but at the same time of great exigency, a great demand on this, a great severity and openness at the same time.
It's something very difficult to analyze, but that's what we find in a person like this.
If you don't find the severity, you don't really... Of course, the severity in a recluse is almost taken for granted, because he's a person who's deprived himself of so much that it's a pretty good guarantee that if he's not simply neurotic or selfish,
that the genuine austerity, at least, is there.
If we don't see that austerity, we disbelieve him.
If he's a bit lax, a bit self-indulgent of himself, it's impossible to believe in authenticity.
But on the other hand, if he doesn't have that liberty of spirit, it's not the real thing.
Now, the mistake more often in monastic circles has probably been to credit the authenticity which had the severity but didn't have the liberty of spirit than the contrary.
The typical example is exactly as in Dostoyevsky and the Brothers Karamazov, where you have these two fathers, Zosimos and Feropon.
And Ferrapont is a severe ascetic.
We talked about him before.
He's a severe ascetic who certainly has the austerity in every sense.
In fact, when he walks around you can hear thirty pounds of iron clanking under his tattered old habit.
And it's supposed to clank and you're supposed to hear it too.
He's that kind of ascetic.
Really severe.
He may never eat anything, but he knows he may eat a radish, that's what he thinks.
And then the other one is Father Zosimos, who likes a little jam in his tea, and who I guess associates with the ladies or something sometimes.
But in the end, he's a genuine man.
You have to find his austerities.
When you find it, when he's talking to one of the ladies and he says, love is a dreadful and terrible thing.
She's a lady who's a philanthropic woman who thinks in some way that she's derived of Christian virtue.
And he tells him, no, you're just kidding around.
Love is a terrible, a dreadful thing.
Real love.
It's something that calls for a giving of love.
So it's there.
You won't see it on the surface, but it's there.
Which father was it?
Was it Zosima and Dostoyevsky?
Yeah, I remember that very clearly.
Because there's another father in the Desert Fathers who did the same thing, but he would take one, I think it was Arsenius himself, he would take one of each fruit and he asked them to bring him one of each fruit and he would taste it and it was almost like a sacrificial or a sacramental thing in which he blessed the fruits of the earth.
recognize the goodness of the creature.
But he has to give recognition to the positivity of the creation, that's his thing.
Whereas Farrapont wouldn't do that.
Farrapont would see a demon behind every chair.
Demons all over the place.
And finally he goes completely off his rock with Farrapont.
But he was the one that they all believed in, or they disbelieved in.
especially when he began to decompose.
You remember?
That's when Farrapan had his headache, but he went right off the rails.
Okay, and then he gets a little bit into the
the essentials of the spirituality, which is very simple, which is so simple that you don't have much fun theorizing about it or trying to find a structure in it, like you can do with Gashen or especially with Evagrius.
Not a philosophical thing at all.
In fact, Bartholomew and John had a reputation of being anti-intellectual, especially down on Evagrius.
Evagrius was the whipping boy in those days, the ones who were against theological speculation.
Whereas Dorotheus had more of an education
And he even brings some of the non-Christian philosophers into his discourses when he's talking about the virtues and so on.
We won't go into that.
Oh yes, he was condemned and jumped up and down on in his teachings.
And some of them are really wild.
Some of his teachings are very gnostic, if you take them seriously.
The ones, the purely monastic teachings like we have in the chapters on prayer and the practicals of it, you can't find very much wrong with them.
What you can say is wrong with them is simply their incompleteness in that it's an intellectualist tendency and it's not balanced out as it might be with other values, but you can't expect everything from one man.
But his influence has been enormous and the negative reaction to him has been just as enormous.
because his Gnostic chapters are really Gnostic.
He sets up a whole speculative system.
And he and Origen were put in the same category.
Through the struggles which the young one faces in his fight against himself, the personality of Barcinopius gave life to a system of teaching.
The inner life of Barcinopheus shines through these teachings, which otherwise would seem just to be fragmented.
What he's trying to say in all of this is that somehow the great old man in the background, the luminosity of his very human personality, transfigured somehow by the sanctity of the Holy Spirit, is the secret and the key and the essence of all of this teaching.
And that the rest of it comes from there.
That's what he's talking about in terms of this charismatic authority that he attributes
He keeps returning to this question of his personality.
Barsanufi's personality manifests itself in the language usual in those days and in that of the monastic tradition, whether biblical or pragmatic.
Compunction, vigilance, humility, opening of the heart, intercession, ceaseless prayer, tears and charity are the focal points of teaching which reflect at the same time the personality of the spiritual father.
He reminds us of Romuald in this also, that St.
Romuald was this kind of personality who just by being what he was seemed to have his effect more than by what he said.
He didn't write anything.
He didn't at least write anything significant that has come down to us.
He wrote a treatise against the demons, which we don't know.
Constant remembrance of God according to the measure of each, humility, trust in one's spiritual father, intercession.
Several of these things are tied together very tightly.
These are the basic elements in the instruction of the Master of Gaza that determines his way of conceiving authority.
He made a kind of covenant, a kind of pact with Dorotheus, it seems, Parthenopeus, an agreement.
If you keep my advice and
and I will be obligated to support you in my prayer.
In Barsonufi's method of teaching, we believe the instruction given reaches a level that is more existential in character, linked with the very heart of the mystery of Dorothea's developing vocation.
Moreover, the father of Gaza keeps to general counsels which leave to his disciple the initiative and the freedom to submit to them according to the degree of his faith.
Remember the parables of Jesus in the Gospel?
which are like that but in another way, where you can take as much as you want.
Somehow, it's not do this exactly, which doesn't leave anything to initiative or to freedom.
It's just the freedom to say yes or no.
And oftentimes we want that kind of a directive.
We want to be told exactly what to do so that we really won't have to engage the freedom
trying to decide or create or find our way.
We don't want that kind of uncertainty, that kind of insecurity, that kind of freedom.
But just the kind of compulsion to be able to say yes, gritting our teeth and then do the thing.
Sometimes we need that.
Benedict does one for that too in the world.
But there's something else which is better, which is to motivate the person and then let his own spontaneity, in a sense his enlightenment,
in spirited spontaneity, moving from within, in the measure in which he wants to.
It's not an on-off thing, a kind of open-ended thing.
The invitation to further sacrifice is based paradoxically upon the perception of a God of mercy, compassion, and love.
At this level, what Barcinopheus offers in his letters is instruction to be sure that above all, he offers his inner life and all that is best in himself.
He talks about the role of the abbot, Cerritos, who has a kind of strange role, very self-effacing, where he has to go between Barcenopius and John and the monks.
And he himself is a disciple of Barcenopius.
All decisions are made jointly by Cerritos, John, and Barcenopius.
In the life of Docetius, for example, it's clear that they all took part in the decision
When Dorotheus was in open disagreement with his abbot, the abbot's authority, as we have seen, was upheld by John.
John upheld the authority of the abbot when Dorotheus had a problem with the abbot.
He had a question of obedience.
The abbot also serves as an intermediary in the discussions between the monks, the guests and the sick.
He supervises the distribution of the material goods.
In short, Cerritos is in all things the abbot of the Cenobia, in that he is the one individual who has the task of running the community and organizing its life as a whole.
It's a horrible job, in a sense, in that without the ultimate, what do you call it, the ultimate fullness, or the ultimate, as it were, enjoyment of the fruits of the domestic life that Barcenobius and John has, he has all of the headaches and the hassles.
But no doubt there's a gift for that.
Abbot Cerritos is a humble disciple of the fathers of Gaza, and his role as the abbot of the synodium is subject to the role of Barcenucleus as a spiritual father.
Such a formal government was possible not only because of the exceptional qualities of the father of Gaza, Barcenucleus, but also because of the humility and trust of Abbot Cerritos.
It would be very hard to find
That in the West nowadays, I think it probably does exist.
We have an abbot who is actually the spiritual son, in an effective, continual way, of another monk who lives in another monastery.
You find it in the East, and that was the case, still is the case, I think, of Stephan Nikita, where Paisios, the spiritual father, was dead.
Paisios was the spiritual father, and Lazareus, the aguminus, the superior, was his son.
And so were many of the monks in the monastery.
You can see this kind of thing was still going on.
And the relationship was somewhat similar.
The monks would go out and consult the old man.
He didn't have to write to him, he could talk to him.
He could visit him.
Okay, then he gives some conclusions.
You'll be listening to this anyway,
I think this paper is kind of important in that it gives us an interview into the workings of these relationships that are going on, and sheds some kind of light, some kind of background light of what we're up against ourselves.
We don't have a person with these.
What I mean is, we've got the same kind of duality between solitude and community, and the same issues we're going to be dealing with, and also the same possibilities.
In Mount Athos they have something pretty similar.
You see, in Mount Athos you have 20 big synagogues.
I mean, physically they're big.
20 big monasteries.
And the relationship of the little communities, of the skeets and of the hermits, the individuals, to them, depends on the economy of the island as a whole, of the peninsula.
If there are a lot of monks there, then you're going to have
hermits related to the synovium in that way.
But if you've only got a handful of monks in the synovium, and no hermits around, just because there are too few monks on Athos, you can't have it.
But it has existed, you see, it did exist at Serpenikida just a few years ago.
And, see, sometimes the spiritual father would be inside the monastery, sometimes he'll be the superior of the monastery, and sometimes he'll be outside the monastery.
But in the West it's become standardized, so that, quote-unquote, the spiritual father is the abbot.
And after a while, the interior dimension of spiritual fatherhood becomes forgotten behind the administrative and external aspect of it, okay, which the avid comes to represent.
He tends to become very much an administrator of the forgotten.
administrator in a warm and family sense, but still, the individual relationship with each monk does not tend to be on such an intimate and such a deeply spiritual level.
Because the other has too much to do.
He can't handle it.
The tradition has just developed differently.
It's impossible.
It's impossible.
these deans, you see, which could be, they could turn into spiritual fathers.
But the notion of spiritual father doesn't quite, except for the abbot, it doesn't quite crystallize on the Lewisian point.
For one thing, because he wants to avoid dividing that authority, you see.
So you don't really find that possibility of a father who is not the abbot right in the rule, I don't think.
The deans are sort of delegates and they remain intermediates in some way.
And in external matters they would have this authority, but they might be somebody that could go to sort of to tell them their troubles and to get a little sympathy and so on.
It's hard to find that real charism of discernment and direction credited to them.
that the essence of it is somebody like that.
This is what you tend to find, at least in modern Benedictinism.
In the Middle Ages, to some extent, but in the modern time especially, the Benedictine life tends to become very extroverted, very taken up in works.
And the abbot himself, even, well, like many of the bishops also in the United States, the abbot himself tends to become oriented towards these external things.
And the person who is chosen as abbot often is the best, the one who can best manage all of those things and keep things going, keep things balanced.
On that external level, and not on the level of the interior, it takes an awful lot of force to change that pattern.
Now, you get an example, once in a while somebody will try to do it, in a classic way one of them can set up.
One was Abbott Flavio, McCary Cassano, who decided that when he became Abbott, he was going to try to separate himself from a lot of the administrative things, keep a large measure of solitude for himself, and then relate to his monks on that interior level.
That's the way I understand it.
Somewhat, as you can imagine, Thomas Merton had even elected Abbott.
Well, he's not Abbott anymore, he's down at Berryville.
They sent him to Berryville because he's a good manager.
To get him out of a financial problem or something.
That's the explicit reason, but there are other reasons too, that Berryville was in trouble.
And I don't think that the...
community as a whole appreciated.
He had some disciples, you know, but I think most of the monks were probably not that happy with this.
He probably would have made a lot of changes, too, had he stayed long enough, but he didn't want to stay as long.
Remember, there are almost a hundred monks in that monastery, and it's almost impossible for someone to live a deeply spiritual life and deal with that many people on a deep level, plus the external stuff.
So even if he wanted to be purely spiritual father, to relate to that many monks would be impossible.
And so, I don't know the actual reason why he wanted to return to this meditation.
And so he's been careful with that.
And that's not unusual.
Usually it's not like that.
People love it, really, the communication.
They don't want to be spiritual.
I wonder if there's some hidden divine motive here.
Exactly, there is.
You see, if you can find one change at work in the history of... Let's call it the history of the West, okay?
And also in the history of Western Christianity, it seems to be the move from vertical to horizontal.
And by this I don't mean that all verticality disappears.
But at first you have this vertical pole erected very strongly, and some of the early saints, even the stylites are kind of a symbolic representation of the people standing up on a pillar, and the figure of the abbot becomes established after a while, and a few saints who are outstanding.
There's a very strongly vertical thing, and the authority thing is extremely strong.
And the spiritual fatherhood thing is extremely strong.
And then, at a certain point, the spiritual fathers seem to disappear.
And you can find this move towards horizontality and the revolt against the verticality in a hundred ways, all of the revolutionary movements of the modern time, and especially the Protestant Reformation, which was a kind of revolt against the verticality of the Roman Catholicism, the authority of the Pope in particular, but that whole thing.
In the name of what?
In the name of a kind of horizontalizing and personal responsibility, personal decision, personal response, personal freedom.
And ever since, the Vatican too represents another sort of shift in point of view of the Church, trying to catch up with that inevitable, unavoidable historical move from the vertical to the horizontal, or rather from the purely vertical to the integration of the vertical and the horizontal.
It has a lot to do with the education of people, and the fact that in the old days you had a few people who were educated, and the massive people didn't.
Maybe they weren't even literate.
And so that verticality was put right into the society, together with the class distinction between nobles, and then in the Middle Ages, the people who read Latin, and so on, could do the Latin language, and the people who didn't, couldn't either.
So, that whole thing.
But, nowadays, there are very few spiritual fathers to be found, and it's as if we are really encouraged to find another manner of
It's only complementary.
It doesn't totally take the place of spiritual paternity, because we still have to seek that.
Certainly, until it exists, we have to resort to something.
The charismatic movement, once again, is original, at least in its first outrush, its first birth, was
A horizontal form of spiritual guidance in which with a community or with a brother or sister you are discerned.
But after a while part of it rigidifies into a very vertical form, the headship thing.
But there is that thing, you see, and so that's something we have to keep in the back of our minds when we're reading all of this early monastic literature, that God does not provide us with exactly the same beings.
If he did, then those spiritual fathers would be here for us, you see.
Which means that we have to seek creatively for what the Spirit has actually given to us.
And the fact that sometimes we know better than some of the things that we read in the literature, we realize a certain imbalance, also is telling us something.
Not that we throw away the monastic literature, but that the Spirit is speaking in our hearts and asking us to ultimately discover for ourselves, as it were, the incarnation of that same wisdom in our tongue.
There's a mystery here which seems contradictory often because of the paternalism of it.
If Christianity is the gift of freedom, why does one put himself under a master and close himself into an institution which seems to keep him a child all his life?
If you read the life of Odysseus, it puts it sort of at its most harsh, the contradiction in question.
But that's the paradox of the monastic way, that one can find freedom that way.
Even so, the question is not totally answered, for instance, by the life of St.
It's as if there should be another chapter afterwards, in which we see, if he didn't die after those five years, in which we see him expanding into the freedom that should belong to the children of God, which is the freedom of the New Testament.
And that chapter often seems to be missing in the monastic religion.
We have to be careful because there is a principle of authority built right into the gospel, okay?
He who hears you hears me.
I give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven and so on, okay?
There are two principles.
There's the principle of authority and of verticality and of transmission of the word, as it were, through the apostles, through the bishops, and through abbots and so on, too, okay?
And then, along the way, that's like the principle of the word, but on the other hand, there's the principle of equality and of the spirit, in which nobody... You have no father on earth, but you're all brothers.
And those two principles are side by side, and it's as if our whole problem is how to relate the two.
And the relation between the two has to be different, eventually.
And today it really has to be something new, because otherwise we become a laughingstock to ourselves, as well as to the world.
Because there's a maturity that is offered to us today, which we can't really renounce, in terms of the smooth-running of the modern age.
We can, for a while, but not permanently.
There's a lot of things that we don't understand.
Do we really understand that today, or do we really think we can figure it all out, and sort of, that we're going to feel good about it while we're doing it all the time, that we're going to be able to stay in control of ourselves, we're going to be able to guide our own shit all the time, and we're going... You see what I mean?
Or is there a tunnel and a death in the monastic life where you really have to become a child once again, even in a kind of dumb way?
Or maybe you're going to become quite apparently quite sick or something like that.
Is there a real death to die?
Now, that's much harder for us to accept as modern people, as contemporary people, than we think it is.
Much harder.
We have a real problem letting go in the way that some of us could let go in the old days.
And so if the story of Dosithius there scandalizes us,
We have to think twice before we throw it out, before we're saying that that was resigning himself to a kind of immaturity.
No, he's dying a death.
We don't see the whole resurrection.
It's as if it doesn't need that other chapter, you know, which is given there in terms of that recognition that he's in heaven, in the greatest sense.
He died the death, and that's the hardest part.
And how to do it?
I think so.
I've been thinking lately, we talk a lot about dying, but if you're going to die, you've got to get sick too.
Usually, dying is not just like that, you should be hit by a bus.
It's a matter of getting sick and dying.
The sickness has to come to the surface.
The darkness, the shadow side, which is in us already, has to come to the surface, and that's our sickness, is when it comes to the surface.
And through it all, we have to keep a kind of light, we have to keep a kind of... There don't need to be liberations even here.
It's much more perplexing than we think.
And usually we don't know how to handle it, because we get scared as soon as we see a person getting a little weird.
We need, actually, in monasticism, a way of dealing with it.
It's very difficult.
I say difficult, it's not difficult, it's impossible because it has to come from God.
the knowledge that this person is going to be able to come around off this wild excursion.
But there's something in there.
The thing that they would say, of course, is that humility and that openness and that obedience.
They would say that that's the essential.
And if you have that, then anything else can be handled.
That would be their criterion.
in those days, you can see clinicians going to that penitential colony and literally killing themselves and saying, this is wonderful.
You'd never find anything better than that.
There are psychologists who write about going through psychosis and coming out better than ever before.
Sometimes they're writing science fiction, sometimes they're gossiping, but that's a mighty tricky thing to deal with.
The shamans too, the other ones, in their experience there was a sickness, there was a great sickness that the person had, which probably could be mental and physical at the same time.
Another question is, what is the setting for handling?
Can it be handled in a community?
Maybe not.
Can it be handled in solitude?
Maybe not.
I'll finish up with this little article here.
The abbot Cerritos is in an interesting place here.
This is the way that Nate expresses it.
The role of Cerritos as an abbot, on the other hand, may be summed up in the following way.
The spiritual son of Barcenufius, as this is understood in the apothematic tradition, like the Desert Fathers, he exercises his duties with the firmness of an altogether Procomian character.
Thus, this abbot of a monastery in Giza serves in some respects as a kind of pivot between the two types of authority, the charismatic and the institutional.
He's like posted between the Desert Fathers and the rule of St.
Benedict, the community of St.
Benedict, and mediating between the two, you see.
And he puts himself in the role of mediator between these great Desert Father figures, who are Bartholomew and John, and the cenobitical community, which is running like the community of St.
Benedict, as an institutional monastery.
So it's a crossover between the two.
Now, any monastery of any size has to be institutional, as my wife said.
This is maybe the only example of this kind in the history of monastic texts.
The spiritual dimension involved in the opening of the heart clearly predominates over the more practical aspects of synovetic life.
The role of the abbot as the director of the community, and even a spiritual father, is secondary to that of the hermit who has been recognized as charismatic.
Abbot Cerritos represents, therefore, a rather uncommon type of abbot who comes nearer to being a spiritual son, obedient to blessed movies, pretty far from most hermits.
The study of the forms of authority found in Geza thus brings us back to the personality of Arsinope, which is indeed the cornerstone for an understanding of the life and method of spiritual instruction which derive from it.
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So he fills the bill, really, for that one.
And also, if he's not a founder, he seems to have been the cement, as it were, of the gravitational core of the settlement.
What's that?
He did scorch some people.
That's right, the posthumous thing.
I'm not sure, you know.
I guess they just closed it up again.
I never said that he was a narrator.
Might have been there for another 50 years.
Give it up.
Let it cool off.
The precepts given by a charismatic master of this type are less a set of rules than the realization and practice of the gospel as lived in its entirety.
Barsanufius, the central figure in the monastic order of Gaza, represents par excellence this particular form of charismatic authority.
Okay, he sort of goes round and round this point about what is it exactly that Barsanufius has, what is it that he does, what is this authority that he manifests.
I like to think of it as an essence business, that somehow he is the wonderful.
this pearl of livingness, essence in some way, and radiates it more than anything else, and then says the word, which in some way comes from that place, comes from that core, and which orients, or discerns, or relocates, or restores everything else.
He's the center, in that sense.
The center which is in itself completely silent.
completely separate of things, does it?
Okay, next time maybe we can look at that, look briefly at the life of Dosithius and then go on with our first discourse of Dorotheus, which is on the menstruation.
It's pointed out by Rainald in one of his papers on this that there are two discourses
like summaries of the whole of the monastic life.
One is the first one and the other is the fourteenth one.
I think those are the first and the last in this collection.
So, in the first one you'll find it's a little bit like the prologue of the Will of St.
He sets out the foundations, the theological foundations of the monastic life.
And the 14th one is called, On Building Up Riches in Their Harmony.
It's probably like the foundation, a total look at the structure.
By the way, these are only a few of the writings of Dorotheus.
Most, almost everything he wrote is from the Western Church.
And he may have given his talks very frequently, so there's maybe only this one.
Okay, any questions or anything?
I'll try to keep you as responsible as I can.
But most of what you get is from the company.
And then we should have a good deal of discussion, because it doesn't help very much as opposed to sort of to read together the text.
It's good to ask recessive questions about it.
Also, the next thing is on comparisons.
To get Dorotheus and his doctrine located with comparison to Cassian, for instance, Russell Benedict, or also those things we were talking about in the class on the powers of Roberts.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
We were just doing a series of meditations, which are the element meditations.
And we were just doing a water meditation one time in his cave.
And this guy came up there, and he almost got drowned.
He was in a cave, and he was all over the floor.
If he opened the door, he could have caused a flood.
Yeah, I think he might have done a fire trick, too.
The thing is, it's a totally different thing.
The manifestation is the same.
You've got a limited number of elements, too.