October 22nd, 1980, Serial No. 00855

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Monastic Spirituality Set 9 of 12

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Let's review a bit what he's been talking about. First, remember he listed five basic observances which make up the fabric of a monastic life. Withdrawal from society, life of prayer, austerity of life, common life and monastic work. We've been through the first four and now we're talking about monastic work. We've got as far as page 32. You'll recall that in treating a monastic work he's been trying to find the goal of it, the reason for it, what is the key motivation of monastic work. And he sets up about four hypotheses and knocks them down. And ends up finally with something like this, that monastic work is intended to bring the monk himself forward in what he's trying to do. That is to free him from certain obstacles and to attach him to Christ.


This is the way that he expresses it. It's on page 31 and the following. So the monk renounces everything, even the privilege of directly consecrating the world, which would be one of the other suggested motives for work, remember in Vatican II brings that one up, this consecration of the world, in order to seek the face of Christ and encounter there the glory of the kingdom of God. This is the monastic life and the source from which each other's elements flow. So the purpose of monastic work has to be directly connected to this, seeking the face of Christ. In this, there's a danger to avoid, a goal to achieve. The danger is lukewarmness, laziness, idleness, acharya, etc. All of which things are corrected by work. The transformation of the monk, which means his purification from all of these vices that we generally sum up under laziness. But the second and perhaps more important element is this encounter with Christ that he's talking about.


Above all, by being an expression of evangelical poverty. This is at the top of 32. Poor with the poor Christ. Also through obedience, however. Both poverty and obedience he finds, which interprets as meeting places with Christ. Now that may or may not convince you as the central purpose for monastic work, does that make sense to you? That identification of Christ who was poor and who worked. You can see that what he's trying to avoid is the kind of alienation of the monk and of his work by giving it a scope outside of itself, outside of the monk. Because you can say that the law of the life of the monk in a certain sense is imminence. That is, what he does has a purpose within itself. This is true of charity, as far as the monk is concerned.


If the monk serves others by charity, you can say, in a way, that he does it for the sake of the charity. I'd rather not say that he does it for his own sake. But he does it for the sake of the charity rather than for some external purpose. That the focus is rather on the charity itself, on the quality of life, or the quality of consciousness, or the quality of the heart, than it is on the object of the work itself. Does that make sense? This idea of imminence, which goes along with the idea of depth in the monastic way. That's very delicate, because it's easy to make it sound self-centered. And it's easy to make it sound world-renouncing or world-rejecting in the wrong way. But it wouldn't be enough were not the monastic life balanced by other charisms in the church, right?


Were there not other religious orders and other people who had the vocation to go out and to work for the building up of the world? Work for the sick, the helpless, 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 monastic work is not what will be achieved in an external way, but rather what it will do for the monk himself. Once having established this hierarchy, once having sort of banished all of those other purposes for the monk's work and established this hierarchy, then you can let all the other ones back in. Because they all are a part of the fullness of the reality of a monk's work and of a monk's life. But he wants to get the first thing first.


And the reason is because he's trying to correct this Trappist over-concern with work, especially the American Trappist. Because it's really something when you graft onto a Trappist asceticism, the asceticism of Devon Say, the activism of Americans, where it turns into an asceticism of work, which in our economy usually turns into a kind of working machine, a kind of economic machine, which runs for no purpose. Who is defining fanatics as people who... Fanatic... Lost direction but redoubled their efforts. Yeah, they lost the end. Lost sight of the end but redoubled their energy. See, that's what happened in this country. So he's trying to keep the end very clear in view.


Okay, responsibilities regarding work. Now, embrace the spirit and healthy traditions of your own community. But which he's saying that there are different traditions. The Trappist one is one which orients itself specially to Emmanuel, because the Benedictines are likely to get into intellectual work, into teaching and so on. Like the Valdez can be in almost anything. Except medical work. No, they do some of that too. When they can't get out of it, they do that too. Secondly, accept the conditions of the work. Often nowadays we've got this whole business of self-fulfillment. And so everybody is encouraged to think that you have to be able to choose your own form of work, that you have to realize your personality the best and so on. It sure wasn't true in earlier ages. Largely it wasn't true. To some extent it's always been true.


But if you read the Gospel, that's not the sort of thing you find. And a lot of our monastic virtue is going to be called for and exercised in this matter of just accepting, accepting the conditions of your work. To accept the kind of work also which doesn't particularly please you. And especially when it's not just raking the leaves, it's not just cutting the grass, but something that really requires you to work, really requires you to use your deeper qualities in some way, but to use them in a way which you prefer not to use. A good example like this is Merton. I've been reading his biography. In the beginning of his monastic career they asked him to write a lot of pious biographies of Cistercian people, you know, which partly, well, he did it out of obedience of course, but he was so gung-ho at that moment that he probably didn't object as much as he might have, but he hated it later on. He hated those things that he had written because he felt that they had been written very badly


and that they had been sort of propaganda, you see, for the Cistercian tradition, pious propaganda. But he did it. So this covers a lot of things, including insufficient leadership, missing tools, and the people you have to work with, but I think he gets to that one later. Then learning to work, applying oneself really, applying one's mind. And here there comes in that business about continual prayer versus work. If you're trying to pray all the time and you need to put work on too secondary a level, you may work very badly, but you're not really doing the Lord's will, you're doing your own thing. To be in some kind of introverted prayer at the expense of our work is not the right thing. The way, the level on which we'll be able to pray at different times in our day,


during different kinds of work, will vary very, very much. Don't request a dispensation from work for slight reasons. A common cold or headache is not sufficient for that. You take aspirin for that. It's true about people in the world. You cannot stay home from work because they have a cold, or because they have some fairly slight indisposition. Nowadays there are some who stay home from work. Pleading sickness, we don't have anything wrong with that. I guess that was always so. Use your talents and time as a superior's wish, even when it doesn't agree with your own inclinations, or when it seems to be more than you can do. We learn a lot by that, by doing things we didn't think we could do, or things we didn't like to do before we gave ourselves to them, and then we discover that we like them perfectly well. That's part of obedience.


Accept the humility of common work. Some people, you go two directions here, two exaggerations, some people refuse to do anything, or dislike doing anything but common work. They say, no, I can't do anything. It requires any talent, it requires any ability, just let me feed the chickens or something like that. I think I've heard those jokes about Vanzella, I guess, when they really could be doing much more. But other people despise common work. They've got a horror of common work, a fear of ordinary cleaning chores, or working in a walk-in, things like that. They've got an absolute horror of it, because it scares their egos, it scares their self-image. We have to overcome that. A person should develop a kind of liking for that kind of work for several reasons. One is the humility in the way in which it brings us closer to Christ, but in other ways, very often that kind of work is the best work for prayer. It really enables you to keep your consciousness free for continual prayer.


Whereas the more fulfilling types of work that involve your higher faculties, they don't really much contribute. It's good for us to have some of both. Also the service. There's a real paradox in this, that the people who do most for the community on the physical level, who perform the most services, often it's completely forgotten. In a community, who thinks about the cook in a community? Who thinks about the people who are always doing the simple things? The things that we take for granted. Well, God must think about it. That work must be very highly regarded. Finally, an attitude of courtesy, affability and patience. The opposite of this is the guy who's in his little den, he's got his little project he's doing, and you're afraid to open the door because you'll come out snarling like a bear, if you bother him. That's connected with work. It's connected with being free enough in your own work,


so that people are not afraid to interrupt you. They're not afraid you're going to bite their arm off. So that your work does not become a refuge from God or from human society. Do you ever notice how when you begin to do something, even if you're just cutting apples, you begin to attach yourself to it, so that if you decide you're going to finish those apples in that pile, you begin to develop a fear that anybody's going to interrupt you before you finish that pile. So anybody who comes near, or maybe he's going to take some of the apples, and that pile begins to be a threat to him. That's a whole thing. There's a whole thing that starts there, which is really common. And it shows about how far we've got. Yeah, and then you find a beautiful leaf, and you just slam it on him. You can get attached to anything in this world. There's a little security in that pile of apples. That guarantees for the next ten minutes, I'm not going to be called upon to be a martyr.


Okay, infidelities against the vow. Now we're going back away from work, away from our five observances, to the whole thing of conversion of life. What are the infidelities against the vow? Well, the first one is to climb over the wall, and to just keep going. And that's known as apostasy. There's a section in the canon law about apostates and fugitives. It used to be quite a lot of that, when the religious life was a little harsher than it is now. And they weren't allowed to give them refuge in other monasteries and so on. So there's apostasy in this, but either one can be fairly interior. Romeo, you attach scruples on this, as to how often you've committed the sin of interior apostasy, of going on the road. Just ran away?


Let's see. I don't think apostate or novice is ever just plain run away. It's a little harder here, because you've got to walk all the way down the hill with your baggage, and then you've got to hitchhike to town, another monastery. We've had lots of retreatants, vocational retreatants, who have come and have not been there for breakfast, but they're not apostates. Okay, now, he sums up the negative obligations, the don'ts. Serious sins against the vow of conversion of life. A serious violation of poverty or chastity. Apostasy or flight. Leaving a monastery without permission, when there's an occasion of grave sin or hidden scandal. Now, he doesn't say what the sin would be concerned with.


Evidently, if one goes out to do something nefarious, or something that might be scandalous. Or just, if the leaving itself might be scandalous. Complete disdain for all the corporeal observances and spiritual discipline. This reminds us of St. Bernard when he's writing about the steps of pride, do you remember? The steps of humility and pride. It sounds a little bit like that ladder, where you get worse and worse, and you go down from step to step. And that one about complete disdain for all the observances and disciplines is pretty far down the stairs. Refuses to use any remedy against a moral vice. Does nothing to avoid the loss of his vocation. In other words, here the Holy Spirit is talking to someone who's not listening. And there's something bad growing in him, something contrary to his vocation. And he does nothing to eliminate it. And then the less serious one. Lack of regularity, not showing up to things. Voluntary turpidity. Laziness at work. Habitual attachments to the pleasures and affairs of the world,


opposed to the monastic life. Now, this depends on what's available to you. There's not a whole lot available if you stay in the hermitage. Where you have TV, radio, where you have a bigger supply of magazines, you have to work pretty hard to be dissipated around here. That is with the publications everywhere, things like that. You can't go too far in the National Geographic. What's that? Better track him down. Track him down and dismiss him because he doesn't have a vocation. It's World Series time, therefore it can be understood. These are things like eating and drinking. It's more likely going out and doing these things.


Somebody who really develops a habit of indulging himself every time he goes outside, having a good meal, looking at things he shouldn't be looking at, taking a movie. Then he distinguishes down here sins and imperfections, essential observances and details of observances. And we don't want to get too far into this casual history. Maybe it's not the right place to leave it. If you have any questions about that, we can do that later. This whole preoccupation on whether something is a sin, or not quite a sin, but still bad, or whether it's a moral sin or a venial sin, it's a depressing kind of study, to tell you the truth. Because it gets you fixed on the minimal obligations and completely forgets about the other thing. As he said, the details of observance are opportunities to love rather than occasions to sin. So the things that should be picked up and lived with enthusiasm, with fervor, rather than kind of an obstacle course


where you try to get through without committing any grave sins, just zigzagging your way through. Monastic life should not be that kind of game. Okay, the spirit of conversion. Now he gets to the positive and more interior meaning of the vow of conversion of life. Remember, we have about to finish this chapter today, so we're going to hustle a bit through these things. Hmm? You're counting pages? I thought we were up to 43. I like that chart there, we'll have to do something with that. And I got some stuff from Merton. Remember from that anthology, I think Victor Xeroxed that and gave it to you, didn't he? Merton's always pungent, he's bitter. It's an old textbook. Let's do our best to speed through what Robert says. I hate to treat this as so much sort of by the pound instead of with more respect.


That's his fault for making it happen so long. So, the principal factor in a monastic life, the only purpose of our state of life is made explicit to enter fully into the kingdom of Christ and to let his kingship enter into us. The other vows thus appear in their true life. They find their true meaning as particular application to the vow of conversion of life. Okay, so that's really significant. This is your principal monastic vow and all of the others are somehow included within it. In other words, even if you just took this one, that would be enough. Even if you just took this one, that would be enough because it would presuppose all the others. Poverty, chastity, obedience, and stability. These are distinct ways of expressing this single spiritual thrust of renouncement and acquisition. Of leaving the world and grasping Christ in response to his grasping us and calling us away from the world.


Now, what we mean by world needs to be defined. He gets into that a little further. The striking thing here is that this has not been the individual doctrine of monasticism, you see, because they didn't interpret the vow of conversion of life as being this important for the past few centuries. They talked very much about conversion. It was often understood, monastic life was understood as being a matter of conversion. But they didn't see that vow as so fundamental and so basically related to them. They tended to consider it as kind of a mystery to put it off a little bit on one side, stressing much more the vow of obedience than monastic life. So, he gets down to where he has to talk about that. He says, in particular, the vow of conversion of life includes and goes beyond obedience. You can sin against conversion of life without sinning against obedience. He gives an example. Or vice versa. You can almost say who cares, but...


They are different. So, it is a mistake to treat of obedience as if it were everything in the life of a monk and all the rest subordinated to it. Now, once again, you can feel remotely a little bit of resentment, a little resentment underneath what he is writing there. Where do you think it comes from? It comes from the Benedictine tradition which has tended to make obedience the whole of the monastic life. The abbot is God and obedience is all there is to it. You just do what you are told and you will get to heaven. This was true, I guess, also in Trappist. Some of those old first abbots that they had at Gethsemane, for instance, were really terrorists. And that was the whole thing. Obedience. Now, Merton reacts against that when he writes in Contemplation of the World of Action, when he writes about over-control. I used to think that obedience was the whole of it because if you follow a certain theological line, for instance,


even in the New Testament, even in the Scriptures, you come out with this, that the central virtue of Jesus is obedience, right? Just look at him at Gethsemane and the whole of his life is a life of obedience to the Father. And at Gethsemane, the whole conflict, the challenge there in the Garden is whether or not to accept the chalice that the Father gave him in his Passion in Hell. And that's a question of obedience. That's the way that Revelation comes. The Word of God coming to the Apostles and then coming down through the Hierarchy, the Hierarchical Church through the Pope, the Bishops, and so on. And so the whole of Christian life, you could say, is a matter of obedience. But what's wrong with that? It doesn't allow you to mature, for one thing, it doesn't make room for nature and it doesn't make room for love. If you interpret obedience as being love,


that's okay, but the love may never get there. If the accent is too heavy on the obedience side, the love may simply never have enough room to keep its head up. Yes, yes. That's right. More than an imposition. The whole difference between being moved interiorly by desire, by encouragement, by love, from being moved exteriorly by obligation, by obedience. It's very tricky because sometimes we need to be advised to do something. Like kids, they have to be taught also in that way. You have to do this, you have to do that. And it's good for us to treat ourselves that way, to make ourselves do things, to train ourselves, to master our bodies and so on


so that they have to respond. You can't sort of persuade your body to do something. You've got to make it do something, right? You can't sort of gently persuade yourself over the course of half an hour to get out of bed. You've got to tell yourself to do everything. So many other things like that. And if you make the whole of Christianity consist of obedience, you go back to the Old Testament and even worse, it becomes an Old Testament religion once again. It becomes completely unacceptable to modern man. You hear the vibration, you hear the sound of it. It becomes completely unacceptable to modern man who says, OK, you put God against man. You've made God this Oedipus father, remember? Who crushes all of the life and all of the spontaneity and all of the love


out of the sun. And then you've got revolution coming as sure as anything. So, you know, the Benedictine tradition only too often has turned in that direction with all of the importance and the pomp and the dignity that we have. The Church tradition almost inevitably turns in that direction very often. The same thing happened in the Catholic tradition. The same thing would happen also in Orthodoxy, at least in early times when the Byzantine core was very close to the Church. And the time of the Reformation, a lot of the problem was there, you see, that the Catholic Church had gotten top-heavy in that way either for God or for, actually, the good and the justice involved or for humanity. So, Lucid explodes out of it in the name of liberty,


in the name of man. And of course, the Church gets wrecked at that point. So it's a problem that's always with us. And even Jesus himself, you see, is fighting a certain kind of doctrine of obedience, obedience to the law, mere obedience to the law, indifferently to love. When he heals those people on the Sabbath and when they accuse him, that was obedience. Now, the law says that you don't do anything on Saturday, you don't do any work on Saturday, and yet you tell that man to pick up his bed and go home. You're violating the law. That's a sin against obedience to God. Do you realize what the Sabbath means? The Sabbath means the healing, the raising up of the dead. The Sabbath means the time of God who comes and gives everything life. He's a God of the living, not of the dead.


So, Jesus and St. Paul are fighting the same thing, but it's not quite as simple as that. Which is not to say that obedience is not important either. In fact, he goes right on to say this, the motive force behind any act of obedience should be nothing less than the proclamation of the Lordship of Christ over the entire life of the monk. Well, the Lordship of Christ means obedience, right? But obedience not merely to an external figure, not merely to the abbot. The abbot is an instrument through whom you obey Christ, through whom you obey God. Now, he wants to accent the paschal and baptismal character of the monastic life, and therefore the vow of conversion of life. That should be fairly obvious from what we've been reading. Paschal means Passover, and in the New Testament context it means participating in the death and in the resurrection of Jesus. Baptismal means that


rooted into the paschal mystery through baptism, that's how we're living that mystery ourselves. The spirit of the vow of conversion is to bring to fulfillment in a monastic context the promises of baptism that we renew every year during the Paschal Vigil. We renounce the devil and his works and we promise to serve the Lord faithfully in the Holy Catholic Church. It's very simple. Or as it says somewhere in Scripture, avoid evil and do good. Leaving the world. Okay, withdrawal from society is a fundamental element in monastic life. But it's no more than a means of liberation, to make oneself a stranger to the conduct of the world. What is this conduct of the world? Now here we get into the problem of the different meanings of world, especially in the Scriptures, because you've got about three different meanings of the word world in Scripture. We've talked about this before, I'll reveal it just very briefly. One is the world which God's created


and which is good and nothing but good. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. He created man, which is a mixture. We say leave the world. We mean largely leave human society, which is a mixture of good and evil. Another is the world of men, insofar as they're destined to be saved. And God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son. And another is, this is the harsh, the negative meaning of the word world. The world is that society or that part of the world which rejects Christ, which rejects God, which does its own thing and shuts out God. Now when we leave the world as monks, we leave the world in a couple of senses, you know. We don't leave the physical world because the nature of the world we live in is part of it. We leave the society of men


to the mixture of good and evil. We try to leave particularly, and this is the real contemplation of other articles in the same volume review the question in the moment of Vatican II. He's considering whether we have to re-evaluate the world. Now the Church has re-evaluated the world as you see in that Constitution, Gaudium et Spes, on the Church and the world in Vatican II. The world from which the monk wishes to separate himself signifies rather a mode of activity which does not come from the activity in this world, the hunger for human praise, the selfish use of people, the desire to have more than is necessary, the manipulation of others for one's own advantage, all of those things. That's the self-centered world, which Martin would say is correlated with the false self. The devil is often operative in this.


So he says this world is a form of activity, something that people do, but it's also a mentality. It's a climate, an ideology, and it's a spirit. So there's a death struggle against the spirit of evil, and the monk is allied with Christ in this death struggle. Now everybody's supposed to be in this struggle, but God has something more from a religious, and especially from a monk. He has a correspondence on the corporal level, on the physical level, to that separation from the world which obliges everyone on a spiritual level, a physical level. That's putting it pretty clearly. Knight writes like this. There's Knight, who's in a book called Cloud by Night and Fire by Day. He writes about celibacy, for instance, as being a physical expression and so it is.


The monk is supposed to make a physical expression. Why? One, because a physical expression is visible to other people, whereas with other people it may be purely interior, but the monk is supposed to be visible, supposed to be a sign of the truth. And secondly, because only through the physical expression it should be an anticipation of the resurrection in some way. Right? It should be an anticipation of the resurrection in some way, in which the body itself begins to be transformed. It's easy to get into bad confusions in that regard.


And how does it line up? Condemnation of the world, condemnation of women, condemnation of sex, condemnation of what else? Those things are integrated. And partly it's because of a too loose application of the word world. Condemnation of marriage. This is in Kashmir, and the monks are superior to everybody else because they renounce marriage. And marriage is what unites you with the world in a certain sense. And still the Church is trying to get that straightened out. It's very difficult. We have such a tradition behind us which is a one-sided tradition of rejection of the world, you see. And there are a lot of other things that are connected with this, like the inability of Christianity to produce, in modern times say, a good art, to produce beauty. A whole bunch of things. And the way in which technology


has come into, in the Christian scene, in the Western world, Europe and America, which is basically a Christian scene and has devastated the world, made much of the face of the earth an abomination. Not all of it. Who could? By leaving the world among consecration, not only the fruit of his hands, but the whole tree down to the roots of his being. The spirituality of the Beatitudes. Okay. Purity of heart. What matters most in the Vatican version of life is purity of heart. Not the renouncement of things, but the renouncement of myself. And my attachment to myself. The kind of incestuous curling around myself,


which we call selfishness, which is the problem. With its correlative, the love of Christ. And both of these realities blossoming into a spontaneous compression from my brother. So there are three dimensions to that thing. Self, Christ, or God, and brother, you see. And they're all connected. We love our brother. And properly, rightly, we love ourselves. This is the purpose of all our observances and austerity. See, purity of heart is the term that is consecrated by passion. And it's a valuable expression for the goal of the monastic life. But it needs to be studied carefully because it's not self-explanatory. It's in the Beatitude, of course. Blessed are the pure of heart and we talked about that when we were studying passion. The importance of humility.


Purity of heart comes in the footsteps of inner humility. Or purity of love, rather, comes in the footsteps of inner humility. In some way, humility scoops out room for love to come in. Excuse me, for the Holy Spirit for God's gift. It's as if humility is the other side of love. Or it's as if humility is the emptiness of the vessel into which love comes. But even when love comes into it, it remains empty. And what's it empty of? It's empty of self. Humility is being empty of self so that that can come in which is no longer measured, which no longer fills space, which occupies space but doesn't fill it, which overflows and yet never fills the vessel, which is love. Sounds very Buddhist. If the body of conversion of life consists in the essential monastic observances, those five that we've listed, the soul is found


at least in humility. You can't say the soul isn't love. The soul isn't humility. The specific thing about monasticism is that it's making room for love. You can say, however, that it's humility. But it's making room for love by these apparent negativities that we get into by these observances, these renunciations, these austerities. Making room in ourselves for love instead of going out and grabbing it or going out and conquering the world in the name of love, presuming that we already have it. But seeing that the problem is that the vessel is filled and wanting to empty out the vessel, wanting to make the vessel empty for love. And therefore, as we do that, as we scoop down into the vessel, we discover this depth dimension, which is the contemplative dimension of the monastic life, you see. So I think that image of the vessel is very helpful there, even if in the end we may have to reject it. You can consider the vessel


to be your heart if you like. If you have that love, you get more and more of a depth vision. You see things more and more from their center because you see them more and more from your center. And more and more light comes in because the light is always coming from the center, not from the outside. Precisely the apophatic way of life. You rarely hear that applied to a way of life. You always hear it applied to theology and you always hear it applied. Instead of acquiring, instead of doing, you disacquire and you undo in a monastic way. You undo the knots and you disacquire the, I don't know, just the acquisitions. You learn just to be. But not to make yourself be.


You don't put together, you take apart. You just leave room for what God wants. It's like digging a hole and letting the water that's underground come up into the well. The spirit of monastic life, the spirit of humility and love is the spirit himself of Christ, the Holy Spirit, working in the heart of the monk, leading him into the desert, purifying him and raising him to be a father. So the vow of conversion is about to live in his spirit. It's about the 99th different way that he's described his vow of conversion. St. Ephraim would have done better. He would have made a poem out of it. One, I don't know if he referred to it, he refers to Luke, but that article by Luke on repentance in monastic life and monastic studies number 9 says it all about this, that business of humility and love and so on.


Okay. Fidelity, love of the brethren, expressed in works. Transformation in Christ. The monk's conversatio, or objective way of life, the outside, the observances, is ultimately subordinated to his conversio, his subjective conversion into Christ. You know the difference between objective and subjective. Objective is out there, subjective is in here. The monk's vocation is to sound the depths of Christian conversion. St. Paul sums up what this process of conversion consists in. Do not conform yourself to this age, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind so that you may judge what is God's will. So we want to be like Christ, to take on his thoughts, his desires, his aspirations, his sentiments. All this dynamism of conversion in your life is what we embrace on a day of profession.


Many quotes that very powerful passage, 2 Corinthians 3. All of us with faces uncovered reflecting as in a mirror the glory of the Lord are being transformed into his image. He says this is, yes, a mystical thing. It's obviously a mystical thing to St. Paul because he says we're gazing on the face of Christ. Gazing on the face of Christ. Not in order to be better than other men, although that's helpful, it's to be desired. Nor to believe ourselves superior to others by their greater sanctity, but because Christ died and was born for this. Quotes from St. Paul and then we get to Diagram 1. It's always comforting to have a diagram. I didn't copy it on the whiteboard because it's very long. Now notice in the diagram he's got three stages of conversatio and then he's got, what, two conversions that he talks about.


You see how things fit together there? Now where does this come from? It comes largely from Cassian and his three renunciations. The external renunciations, this is on page 12, Cassian's three renunciations, the external renunciation and the internal and moral renunciations and then finally the contemplative renunciations. So there are three conversions and three conversatio. Conversatio means a way of living. There's the one in the world which is before you come into the monastery. Then you have an external conversion you enter the monastery and you have a new conversatio, a new way of life, a basic observance, a new external way of life when you become a monk. Then that's only the beginning because then you have to make a second conversion which is the internal conversion, losing all the habits of the world, losing all the ways of thinking and the desires of the world.


That's the renunciation of the heart and that's the tough one and the end of that is purely of heart. And then finally this third conversatio is either in heaven, that is it's really perfection, so it's either up in heaven or it's heaven anticipated down here in the contemplative experience and that's what Cassian talks about when he talks about his third conversion. He doesn't use the word conversion, he uses the word renunciation but the third renunciation is to forget the world and to renounce the world. Facility to the spirit, continual prayer, that's closer to Cassian's own language. Now remember that for Cassian the third one belongs to the hermetical world, the third renunciation. The world, where?


Back in the first one? Yes. Okay. There he means not only the evil world but he means practically the physical world, alright? In other words, this third renunciation is renunciation even of nature in a sense, to rise up to a kind of pure contemplation of God, which may seem too platonist, it may seem too purist and too idealist, I'll see if I can find an expression. It's in Conference 3, I've got a deadline but I'll taper it. I think it's Conference 3, Chapter 6, something like that. Yeah,


page 321. Here we are. Thirdly, from thy father's house, remember he's talking about Abraham going out, Abraham's gone, Genesis broke. That is from all the recollection of this world which the sight of the eyes can afford. Everything you can see. For of the two fathers, that is of the one who is to be forsaken, the one who is to be sought, David thus speaks in the person of God. Fear, O daughter, in considering kindly of your predictive people in your father's house. For your father's house is the whole of the physical world. In other words, he's talking about some kind of ecstatic experience, a contemplation of invisible things. For Proverbs answers to the first renunciation, as in it the desires for carnal things and earthly sins are repressed. To the second, Ecclesiastes, this comes from our correspondence, is there everything which is done under the sun is declared to be non-existent. This is very artificial. To the third, the song of songs in which the soul soaring above all things visible


is actually joined to the word of God by the contemplation of everything. Soaring above all things visible. So, you have to ask yourself whether that can be a continual state. Even for the greatest of the mystics, that was only an intermittent thing. So, Gershon is really pointing his sights high when he says that as a goal. The life of a recluse would border on it, would put you in the right disposition to seek that kind of experience, but yet you couldn't expect to experience it continually. The presence of God and that kind of continual prayer


is more realistic than the way Gershon puts it. He's talking of a kind of ecstatic experience in which you don't simply see the things around you anymore. It's rapture, in other words. See, that's pretty unusual. There's a shortcut to it through LSD, and that's Robert Sisson included that in his treatise. I'm just joking. Not recommending it. That's a good question, and it's a very difficult question. You know why? Because Jesus is God and man at the same time, and we simply cannot pry into his psychology, into his consciousness. We don't know what was inside his consciousness. And the tendency before, this monoposite tendency, was always to consider that he knew everything and that there was no progress because it was God from the start.


The tendency now is to describe the evolution of the consciousness of Jesus as he learns and experiences and so on. But we don't know how to get the two together. It's a real mystery. We have to say that Jesus made the external renunciation when he went into the desert, right? After his baptism he went into the desert and that for me symbolizes his external renunciation. The internal renunciations we don't know and in a sense he didn't have to make them because his heart was pure. He didn't have the same slavery to passion we believe that we had. The final renunciation actually corresponds to the resurrection and to what extent Jesus enjoyed something like that on earth. In a way we have to say that he was in continual prayer, he was in continual union with the Father and that that state of his


was in some way higher and fuller than any other man's state could be. Therefore we have to say that he was there from the start and all the time. On the other hand there were moments of illumination in the life of Jesus. The moment when he rejoices in the Holy Spirit in St. Luke. The moment of the transfiguration. And then of course finally it's the time of the resurrection and we have to say the thing is final. That is really the conversatio in celos because that means to be in heaven. So that's when he's risen when he's ascended. And what St. Paul says is your conversation is in heaven where Christ is seated with the right hand of the Father. That's approximately what he says. You can look it up in Philippians 3.20. Now he's talking about Christ's position after the resurrection. But Christ had anticipation of that just as we do. We're not able to make this too scientific. It's a very rough outcome.


Any other questions or comments about this? I'm going to leave those questions to you unless you want to bring them up next time. Questions for further reflection? He doesn't have any answers in the back of the book. I'm joking. Good man. No. That's it. You have it or you get it. So Merton compares the Resurrection with... Actually I might just have to leave that to you too because today we really ought to move on to our next subject. What I might do is leave Merton's comments which extend from number 673 to 686. These things are


numbered. These quotes from Merton and this collection you have, right? You've got the Xerox. From 673 to 686. It's just on two pages. Page 103 and 104. And if you want to read those over and then next time if anybody wants to bring up any comparisons or questions that would evolve from Merton plus Roberts you're welcome to do that. Otherwise we'll move on with our next chapter which you should begin to read. Now you'll be happy to see that the next chapter is not nearly as long as this one. It doesn't try to pack everything into it. And it's a pretty important chapter and an interesting one. The one on chastity. It turns out that it too is central in the monastic book. And that's why it's treated in this order. You can read the whole of that chapter in not too long a time. And then we'll find some references to put on the on the class shelf over there. Conversion of


manners is not a vow in the strict sense or modern sense of the word vow. You can't define it in terms of a specific obligation. See it's specific. It's not easy to say exactly how you're violating it and so on. Rather it is a promise of total discipleship of becoming a follower of Christ. This is very radical. And that's why they make it the basic and comprehensive monastic vow. Our total motivation is completely changed. Our reason for doing things, our motives, our outlooks are what Christ wants. He wants our heart. Christ said to do this and this is what we're doing. Christ asks us to live as a disciple with all the things that it involves according to the gospel. The conversion of manners says we will. He says it's a vow of repentance. This is the conversion of manners, the willingness to let go of self. Now that's expressed in all the other vows. It's very close,


obviously, in the vow of obedience. But most totally in the vow of conversion of manners. It's interesting where he gets to the three renunciations of Cassian. That's in number 680. He doesn't interpret them in exactly the same way that Roberts does. First, renouncing exterior possessions or belongings. But notice that Roberts is building on Merton. So he probably got what he put in there from Merton's remarks either here. This is from tapes. So it's more likely he got it somewhere else. Maybe in Merton's novice master instructions. Connecting Cassian's three renunciations with the vow of conversion of life. Renunciation of conversion. One, renouncing exterior possessions or belongings, two. Okay, second, renouncing our own ways, self-assertion. That needs to be expanded because it's not only our own ways but our own attachments, our own affections, our own desires, our own


thoughts. Thoughts in so far as they are, what we call impure thoughts, come from an impure heart. Thirdly, renouncing our thoughts, those that are the product of our false self. Then we are left naked and poor to receive our renunciation. I think Martin oversimplifies it here too a bit because he's not saying exactly what Cashin says. If you read that chapter six in Cashin's Third Conference, you'll see it's a little different. But it's reasonable enough to do it that way. Cashin's own thing, as you see, is a little bit unrealistic because his third renunciation is so high, you practically have to levitate to get there. That's right. That's right.


He's doing that all the time. When he writes about those fathers of Egypt, it's as if, you know, everybody's perfect out there. And we poor Europeans, we poor Frenchmen, we struggle along the best we can, the Westerners. But those are the guys that were the real monks. So he's always done that. Conversion of manners means a total transformation of our life, not judging, quarreling, not griping, even with ourselves. Even with ourselves. Conversion of manners is living a life of sharing in the cross of Christ. The vow of conversion of manners, strictly speaking, is a vow of patience. That's very interesting. In other words, you're putting yourself into something that's going to be difficult when you put yourself into a monastic life. This was especially true, of course, for the Trappists who had a very rough regime before Vatican II. They'd go for plenty of patience when the little flies would crawl into your nose during the summer.


And you couldn't swat them, you couldn't understand them while you were trying to sing. He writes about that and the lady writes about it in his biography. That required patience. So then you have to recall your relationship when you feel that your way should be the way, with ourselves when we experience tension. Patience is bearing with, putting up with the difficulty. You can't really be transformed unless you have the patience to put up with difficulties. This is kind of a constant refrain in these quotes of Martin. Partly because the fellow who made the collection had that on his mind, obviously. But partly also because that was true for Martin. And it should be true in the monastic life because in some way the monks should not be the liberated playboys, liberated from family and work and everything else, liberated playboys of Christianity, but they should be the people who in some way bear the


burden of the world, bear it with cheerfulness, bear it with courage, bear it with love. Okay. Any questions or shall we conclude? Next time then we'll start on chapter three which is about chastity.