October 29th, 1981, Serial No. 00689

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Monastic Spirituality Set 5 of 12

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I read that article by Nate, N-E-Y-T, on the relationship between Bartholomew and Dorotheus and John and Dorotheus, and the whole pattern of relationships that there is there, in which behind this community life that Dorotheus is overseeing at a certain point, first he's living it and then he's overseeing it, in our discourses we see him as supervising or directing them in some way, behind this there is the presence of those two hermits, those two recluses, and the real ultimate direction is coming out of solitude. It's an interesting one, it reminds us so much of St. Arnold, and is of course a classic pattern in monasticism, even though in the West we don't seem to find it very often, but in the East, even recently, I mentioned the example of Paisios and the monastery of Stavronikiti, they still have the same thing. And it's sort of implied in our constitutions in a different way, where


it says that the hermitage is the characteristic element of the congregation and should give the orientation to the other communities. It doesn't say that the congregation should be run by the recluses or anything like that, but that principle is behind it, and somehow the spiritual orientation of monasticism, the authentic orientation, somehow comes out of that solitary space. Remember that expression, the word out of silence. The word of direction finally comes out of the silence of prayer, and in this case it comes out of the silence of that solitude. The total verbal silence of those recluses. We do have an awful lot of correspondence, of course, the Neophytes have said you've got over a thousand letters in here. Of course, over a long period, that's not so many. It's considerable. I'm very fortunate to have that literature. Okay, the introduction by Wheeler to the edition that we're using


of Dorotheus is interesting and kind of uneven. He talks about the life of Dorotheus and then gets off on a couple of digressions about particular issues that he's worried about, especially that matter of whether Dorotheus went off and founded another monastery of his own, or whether he just became a kind of pezicast and archimandrite in the vicinity of the same monastery as Cerritos. But the other authorities, Regno and also Chidi, both believe that Dorotheus is the traditional way that Dorotheus did find another monastery. We know amazingly little about his life, though. You'll notice that so much is conjecture, guesswork. Especially about his later life, we know very little. And evidently, we only have a small portion, a small sample of his writings, or of his talks. And the history of that time is exceedingly complicated, if you notice, because you have all of these dogmatic quarrels, these theological quarrels, with people lining up on different sides. You


have monks all over the place, and some of them will be on one side and some on the other. In fact, it seems, as Willow points out, that at one time you had people with the same names as Barcinopius, John, and Dorotheus, who had joined up with various Saracens. And so all of them became, at one point or another, defamed, but have been vindicated once again. And in addition to that, you have the barbarians and the Saracens coming once in a while and attacking, and everything happening. They're starting all over from scratch. So there was a lot of violence, and there was also a lot of theological motion and commotion. The life of Dorotheus. He came, evidently, from a well-to-do family, had a good education, was very interested in reading, had poor health for most of his life. Was kind of a model young monk. And then there's a turning point at the time of the death of John and Cerritos in the retirement of Barcinopius. And Dorotheus seemed somewhat abandoned at


that point. That's around 542. Dorotheus' dates seem to be from about 507 to about 570, which is not so far from the lifetime of St. William. In addition, the spirituality of the approach, the whole viewpoint and mind of Dorotheus and St. Benedict have a lot in common, as you see. This is true not only in the general framework of the central liturgical life, which tends to be run on the same principles every day. The structure tends to be very much alike in the East and the West. But also in that spirituality of humility and obedience, self-effacement and spiritual fatherhood of a particular kind, as we'll see. Dorotheus had various jobs which kept him very busy. He was the chief infomerian and the guestmaster. He had a desire for the hesychast life, for the life of solitude, but the old men would send him back to his work.


There are a lot of quotes interspersed in here from the letters of both Sinopius and John, the letters to Dorotheus particularly. The monastery after the death of Dorotheus, sometime between either 615 or 634, as Willis says, was wiped out by the Saracen or Arab incursions. Now, this life of Docethy is put right into the introduction here. It's taken almost word for word from the Greek edition. It's maybe compressed a little bit, but most of it is there. I'd like to leave that and come back and comment on it after we read this first discourse, because it's a good illustration of what Dorotheus is teaching in the first discourse. Now, Regnault tells us that he's got two kind of compendia, two syntheses here, two discourses which are more synthetic than the


other ones in bringing everything together, most of his principles on the monastic life. That's the first and the fourteenth. The first is on renunciation, which is sort of a standard starting point for the monastic life. The monks used to be called the renunciants. Often, the first lecture, as it were, that you find in a group of monastic writings would be on renunciation, on letting go of the world, withdrawal from the world, apoptage, as they call it. The last one is on building the house of the virtues. It's a kind of a theoretical, kind of a, what do you call it, metaphorical picture of this structure with all the various virtues of the monastic life. Okay, let's look at this first discourse. I'll try to find the points of interest, the points that have special meaning for us. With


this kind of literature, often the problem is to get a hook into it in such a way that it becomes meaningful for you, becomes relevant for you, and not just reading all of the same all the time. Because the difficulty with the writings of the monastic fathers is that they repeat one another all the time. And they all seem to be saying the same thing all the time. And they seem to be saying the same thing that Jesus has already said in the Gospel. And so it gets kind of heavy and repetitious every time. So we need deliberately to dig it into it and try to find differences here and there. But more importantly, try to unearth the real principles that are at issue and the deeper principles which we can adopt. Because often I'll be saying on the surface things that we can't apply whole heart to our own life. So we have to find the deeper principles which are valid for the monastic life all the time. All of them are valid to some extent, but so much more than others. He starts out by... If anybody reads French, I've got several articles here which are sort of syntheses or outlines of the theology


of Dorotheus. One was from the Dictionary of the Spirituality, and the other is the Introduction to the Source Christian Edition of Dorotheus. He starts out with a history of salvation. He starts out by talking about the creation and so on. And evidently he gets this from the Greek fathers, this approach. Because when people are writing about the monastic life, they don't always do that. Saint Benedict does it in his prologue, but he does it very briefly. Remember where he says, You who have departed, remember, from God with a sloth of disobedience. And in that he sums up the whole thing of Adam and Eve and God and so on. And now choose to return to the way of obedience, taking up the Bible in obedience and so on. So he does it all in a few words. If you read the Rule of the Master, it's much more long-winded. That's the other rule before Saint Benedict, on which he condensed his own work. And Dorotheus takes a reasonable space for it here. He talks about the creation and sin.


That way that the fathers tend to look at everything between the creation and Eden, and the coming of Christ, is a pretty negative story. Saint Augustine and the others, they go to this time and time again, about how man was just sunk in sin. And from time to time, there'd be a just man. But the whole picture is pretty dismal. You get very much the same idea if you read the book of Genesis, up until the time of Abraham, and thereafter too. Remember before the day of age, when men got so evil upon the earth, and God decided to It's a particular view of history, which is, what would you say, a theological view of history, an interpretation, on which people would probably find a lot of fault with nowadays. We don't have to look at it from a historical point of view, but see what our author is doing there. It's the context that he uses for the theology of the monastic life.


And so he puts it into the context of sin, and first of all our being created good, then sin and the need for conversion. And then the appearance and the work of Jesus, the work of Christ, which is fundamental. And here it begins to get richer for us. On page 79 here. Then at last the good man loving God sends his only begotten Son. Having become man then for our sakes, God freed man from the enemy's tyranny. And how did he do it? Now here's where he gets into exactly how the monastic life works. He took away the devil's power, broke his strength, took us out of his hand, and freed us from slavery. Unless we spontaneously choose to obey him by sin. For the Lord gave us power, as he told us, to trample on serpents and scorpions, and on all the power thereof, since he cleansed us of all sin by baptism. Okay, there's the key. For holy baptism purges us of iniquity and washes away all stains. But then, since he knew we'd fall again, he gave us holy precepts which purify us.


So if we really want to, through the keeping of these commandments, we can be purified not only from our sins, but from those innate tendencies which lead us to evil. Sin is one thing, but instinctive reaction of passion is another. These are our reactions. Passion is pride, anger, sexual indulgence, hate, greed, and so on. The sins are the gratification of the acts which fulfill those passions. Okay, baptism and the commandments, the two things. Now remember, baptism gives us the Holy Spirit. So it's a question of our being given the gift of the Holy Spirit and our being given the Word of God. The Word in the form of the commandments, the Spirit in the form of baptism. What commandments is he talking about? He's not talking basically about the commandments of the old law. He's talking about the commandments of the gospel, and pretty much the gospel as a whole, but centered in the commandments of love. He's talking about the sort of thing you find throughout the sermon on the Mount. That is, not only you shall not kill, but you shall not be angry with your brother. Not only you shall not commit adultery, but you shall not have lustful thoughts, and so on.


Those are the commandments for him. Now the way he's got it lined up, baptism seems to cleanse us of the sins we have committed. Not only of original sins, but the sins we have committed. But then it takes the commandments, it takes our doing those things, to purge out the roots, to purge out the passions. Other people would argue with that. Other people, because there's a danger there. If baptism only does a superficial job, and you have to do the real job yourself, there's something, maybe something wrong there. There's another early monastic writer called Mark the Hermit, or Mark the Ascetic, or Mark the Monk, who really zeroes in on this business of baptism and the commandments. In fact, Dorotheus refers to him later on, so he seems to have gotten maybe this idea from him. But this is important, because it puts our monastic life into the Christian context, and simplifies it greatly, simplifies it greatly. So, I want to go into it a little further.


It also puts it into the Trinitarian context. There's an article by Callistos Ware entitled, The Sacrament of Baptism and the Ascetic Life in the Teaching of Mark the Monk. Mark the Monk lived around the middle of the 5th century, so he's about a century before our Dorotheus. I don't know exactly where he was. Whether in Palestine or in Egypt. According to him, the whole monastic life, the whole Christian life, and within it the whole monastic life, is the progressive realization or manifestation of what we've already received in baptism. Now, if you've heard that 105 times, it may sound very dull. But... Somehow the key is here. The key where you change from having to have something new to discovering the depth of what you already have,


which is the key to the monastic life in a certain way. And monastically, it's the difference between Pelagianism and Christianity, or the difference between Massalianism and Christianity. The Massalians were the guys who said you had to pray all the time, because the fulfillment of your monastic life, your enlightenment, your salvation, whatever you want to call it, was up to you. The Massalians, those were the Easterners. So they said do it by praying all the time. The Pelagians, who were the Western ones, said you do it by your asceticism. That is, you do the work. God gives you grace, and then by using that grace, you do the work that's really up to you. In fact, it's just ordinary grace that he gives you. It all depends on you. A lot of monks tended to do that work. Some of them in the mystical way, like the Massalians, some of them in the ascetical way, like the Pelagians. But Christianity doesn't say that. There's not a question of climbing a ladder, exactly, or scaling a mountain, or becoming big. It's a question rather of becoming small, in a big way, like we were saying the other day. So that's why we have to return to this time and time again.


We have a philosophy about these things, whether we know it or not. And it's good to see what really our presuppositions are about these things, and see, do we really understand what the word grace means? Do we really understand what the word faith means? Do we really understand and believe that God is going to do it, or are we going to do it? If we're going to do it, then we're going to be limited to what we do. I'm not saying we shouldn't do it. But what we do is inside what God does. If you remember, I guess it was in the reading of last night, was it from Ephesians, that we are God's work of art, created to do the good works that he set out for us? This is Mark from Arkham. However much a man may advance in faith and attain to some good, he never discovers, nor can he ever discover, anything more than that which he has already received secretly, mystikos, secretly, through baptism. Christ, being perfect God, has bestowed upon the baptized the perfect grace of the Spirit. We, for our part, cannot possibly add to that grace,


but it is revealed and manifests itself to us increasingly the more we fulfill the commandments. So the way he's got it, the grace is given to us totally, and then we discover the grace as we fulfill the commandments. This is pretty deep. It's like we're given the whole thing, and as we follow the commandments, we, like a plant, somehow develop our form. And in developing that form, in fulfilling that form of ours, we discover what was in the seed that was given to us originally. It's hard to find the right metaphor. It seems so. I always sit down and get a question, you know, God may give us a grace for this, or may he give us a grace for that. But what I'm hearing you say now is, he's already given us grace. That's complete, that's total, and then, to a certain extent, we can respond to it in a certain way in a particular moment. But the fact is, the whole thing has already been given to us. Yeah, now, that's right.


Now, the important thing here is to distinguish between a couple kinds of grace, okay? Because they talk about the difference between actual grace and sanctifying grace. Sanctifying grace is the grace that makes us pleasing to God, and actual grace is the grace to do a particular thing. Say, the grace to do particular prayer, or to do a particular work of asceticism, to fast, or to preach, or to do whatever. But sanctifying grace is the grace that puts you in a state of grace that makes you a Christian, makes you pleasing to God, okay? Now, the grace that he's talking about, the grace of baptism, is that sanctifying grace. But remember now, that in the Eastern conception, this is uncreated grace, which means that it's the Holy Spirit, which means that it's God himself, which means somehow that it's the whole thing, okay? It includes actual grace. It includes actual grace. Actual grace sort of comes from it. But in that initial gift, everything is contained. I guess it seems self-evident after a while, but maybe it's not self-evident. I wasn't at that impression.


You received the whole thing, I think, and you kind of thought, well, he's already given me that gift, but I haven't been able to put it to use. Now I'm finally using it, but he's already given it to me long time ago. Yes. Now, in some way, he has to give us an actual grace to be able to use the potentiality that we've already received, okay? To be able to realize that potential. But somehow the total potential is already there. It's all in that pearl, in that treasure. That's right. He says, if you keep my word, if you dwell in my word, we'll come and dwell with you. So somehow it's all there. It's all given to us in the word and in the spirit. It's like that anointing that John says that we received, that will teach you everything. Somehow the anointing contains everything. It's staying with what you have. This is a tricky thing.


This idea that everything is already here, because one thing, the work of Christ is already done, and then the work of Christ is in us because we've been baptized and received the Holy Spirit. So everything is here. And our progress, our growth, consists not in reaching out for something else, but in discovering what's in them. But discovering what's in there brings us out. It causes us to move out into the world, in a certain way, to interact with our surroundings. It seems like the world is so confusing. It's hard to discover that grace, to realize it. ... You've got to have quiet to do it. You've got to have a space to do it. Because otherwise, what's inside is drowned by the noise from outside. And drowned by our passions too, the things that we want, our emotions. You've got to have a space for it. This idea that it becomes actual...


He's got a couple of other sayings here where he points that out. It becomes actual as we do the commandments, and the commandments are very simple. And this is what the monastic life is about. Mark's predominant concern is to stress the completeness of holy baptism. Mark insists repeatedly that baptism is teleos, perfect or complete. Nor can our agones, our ascetic struggles, add anything to baptismal grace. He describes this completeness of baptism from three points of view, which may be summed up respectively in the terms. He uses three Greek words here. One is purification, the second is liberation, and the third is indwelling. So I won't go into the details of it, those are the dimensions of this gift. We're purified, we're free to be ourselves, and at the same time the Trinity dwells within us, in the Spirit. It's one thing to have Christ and the Holy Spirit dwelling within us in virtue of our baptism. It's quite another thing to become directly and consciously aware of this divine presence.


There were some people in the East, in the Eastern Church, who didn't really believe that you could have any grace that you didn't feel. And the most outspoken one of those was Simeon the New Theologian. Have you read any of his writings? He always says that if you haven't felt, experienced the grace of the Holy Spirit and the power of the Holy Spirit in this life, you'll never experience it in the other life. He almost says that you can't be saved unless you've tasted that grace, unless you've experienced it. Now the Roman Catholic thing tends to be way over on the other side very often, and not to expect any experience of grace at all. We've gotten so, what would you say, our expectations have gotten so lowered with regards to the experience of grace, that for a long while it's as if only the mystics, only the very special people, you know, who are blessed by God, St. Teresa, and down at the cross, and so on, would have the actual experience of this, say this grace of the Trinity, or whatever you want to call it.


And the rest of us would just go along in a kind of pure faith in which we believe in that indwelling in us in some secret place. That's not what he's saying, is it? He's saying it's very balanced. On one side it is a hidden, inexperienced grace. It's deeper than your experience. But on the other side, it should become experienced, and it should fill you in some way. And yet when we talk about experience, we have to be very careful, because it's always somehow beyond experience, but it has reflections in experience. The fact is that, in a way, as we do, we experience. But the experience that we experience when we do is very subtle. Sometimes it may be as subtle and as transparent as simply the rightness of what we do being the experience of God. Is that possible? Just the joy of your... I don't know, what would you call it? Of the rightness. The joy of the truth of what you do being the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. It's not as if God comes and speaks to you face-to-face and reveals himself. But it makes a lot of difference how we think of this.


At baptism, the fullness of grace and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit are given to us mystically or secretly. Mystically here means in a hidden manner. It doesn't mean in a way of contemplative experience. It is our aim as Christians to become aware of this grace actively or clearly. There's one more good quote here. Here we are. There is one way and one way only to move from this baptismal grace which is present hiddenly to the baptismal grace which is experienced. That's by the fulfillment of the commandments. And here's a great quotation of his. One of Mark's favorite phrases. The fulfillment of the commandments. God has set us free through baptism but having set us free he requires of us obedience to what Mark terms the spiritual law or law of liberty. Remember the law of liberty in Romans 7


and also in James chapter 2. Remember you've looked into the perfect law of liberty like into a mirror. Very mysterious expression. In contrast to the law of the old covenant. See this is a new law. It's different. The law of liberty rather than the law of servitude. Baptism and this law of liberty are integrally linked. Through baptism we have been cleansed writes Mark and having been cleansed we have received commandments. He who fails to perform the latter has polluted the former. Some way we dirty, we stain, we cover up and bury the cleansing of baptism the grace of baptism. Or actually the presence of God in us. As he puts it elsewhere, holy baptism is perfect but it does not make perfect him who does not perform the commandments. Faith consists not only in being baptized into Christ but also in performing his commandments. Okay, it sounds like the catechism still but the connection between the presence of the Holy Spirit in us who contains everything and doing the word of Christ doing his commandments, basically the commandments of love


in a way that is nuanced and developed in the Gospel especially in the Sermon on the Mount. And how these two bring one another out and complete one another. It's a kind of a Trinitarian pattern. By doing the word in the grace of the Spirit which we have received we bring out the fullness of that grace of the Spirit which is our divine affiliation which is our divine sonship. And so we discover the Father as it were behind us. As it were as the background of our lives. As it must have been for Jesus. You are worse off than if you had never received it. The teaching of the Church


has grown progressively more merciful. More lenient on that. See, in the old days, in the beginning of the Church we don't even know that they had a public penance. And then, a couple of centuries later you have this ceremony of public penance once in your life for serious sins. Other sins, what we would call even some things that we would call mortal sins would be forgiven in another way perhaps through a secret confession perhaps through a secret confession we don't know, but through the Eucharist and so on. And simply by reconciliation in the community and so on. But then gradually it becomes more and more open more and more lenient so that the Church recognizes the greatness of the mercy of God and communicates that. So we don't believe any such thing nowadays. We don't believe that there is any sin even after baptism which is unforgivable. In terms of the baptism of grace as we see it is there any lessening of the baptism of grace? Say somebody wants to enter into the Eucharist at that point and wants to be discovered by Christ


is there anything there that is diminished? No, it can't be diminished because it's God essentially. If we believe it's uncreated grace, that it's the Holy Spirit it can't really be diminished. It's like the pearl once again, like that point that Martin talks about, which is in some way itself you can't take anything away from God nor can you in some way put a lien on his mercy in some way so as to condition it or put a mortgage on his generosity. You can't do that. Even the prodigal son didn't do it. Remember? There wasn't anything missing in the Father's welcome when he came back. He switched the works. And so it is, you can't really lose permanently anything in this baptism of grace. We've all received the same amount of sanctifying grace, so we all got that thing to go with it. Okay, when we say the same amount we have to be careful because this


blows over quantitative notions, okay? It's like the penny of the remember the parable of the vineyard chief and the workers? The one penny that they all get? Yeah, it's like that. The salvation which is one thing, it's like the pearl in the gospel parable. It's one thing and you can't talk about quantity anymore. It's just like having yourself, you know, or having God. There's no question of number or amount to it. Salvation in some way is total. And so is this grace. It's the grace of total salvation which means, what would you call it? The possession of God or being a child of God. Now being a child of God doesn't have any bounds or any beginning or any end. And that's what we're given. So it's total, complete for every person? Yeah. Yeah. But it takes us a long while to learn it. It's like it's given to us like a new suit, a new suit really which is more like nakedness because it's freedom but it takes us a long while to learn what it is and how to live in it. It's not just a question of not dirtying it.


It's a question of becoming liberated so we really understand what there is there, what's been given to us. Because it takes a lot of nerve, it takes a lot of courage to live that new kind of life. Especially without having fear of our own disappearing. All those problems we have by self-image and so on. So then that actual grace area is where it might develop or appear certain distinctions. That's right. In the area of that actual grace. It's all there. It's all there from the start. And the actual grace, it's like there's a graduation so progressively we receive grace, just like the rain from the ground, just like irrigation or something. But there's a dialogue thing there too, so it's not as if the Lord just turns the knob to a particular rate and that trickle is going to come to us all our lives. There's a dialogue. The better we respond, the more we get. Which can really become very active enough. The more we actualize, the more we receive it. That's right. Actual grace, it's like


he can't give us any more than we actualize. It's something like that. Actual grace. It's like you can keep pouring water onto a plant, but if it doesn't if the roots don't soak it up, it's just going to run into the ground. It's like that with actual grace. Very dependent on what we receive. But the basic grace, the uncreated grace, the sense-buying grace is already there and it's still traveling. For everyone that's baptized? For everyone that's baptized. Because the gift... For everyone that's in the mystic fire? Well... Yeah, but... It's like saying that everybody's destiny is the same. Because what's your destiny in the end? Your destiny in the end is to be yourself as a child of God, right? Yourself embraced by the Holy Trinity and the communion of saints. And that's the same for everybody. You could say, well, there's a glass of water and there's the jug, you know, they're different sizes. I don't know anything about that. Only that basically that thing is the same for everybody. It's a total thing. In terms of development to actual


grace, actualizing grace that's receivable, you said there was this metaphor that Teresa's sister told me. She was at a camp in Ethiopia. And she said, well, she had a pillar of thimble with her arm and a pillar of glass with her arm. And she said, which one's the full one? She asked her how God could be fair to the people who got closer to him at that moment. Well, I've got more grace than that. Those things, I think, are simply beyond us. And that it's hard even to conceive of heaven as being a place like that, where, like a royal court, with certain really big wheels, you know, having big hats and they're sitting closer to God and the other ones further out. And then the children way out at the edge. Well, the children are going to be in the middle somewhere. You know what I mean? Somehow he's not going to follow our patterns, our geometry. Those things become... Our reason is supposed to become baffled at a certain point.


But there are different grades in heaven. There's no doubt about it, but it's very hard to... All of them in some way will... There'll be some kind, no doubt, of difference, perhaps some kind of hierarchy, but our notion of hierarchy is going to be junked, I think. It might just be that whereas there is a sense of individual presence, every individual will have a certain chance, whereas God will reveal as much more of himself. And which will be sufficient? Every vessel will be full and so on and so on. It'll be sufficient. There won't be any envy. There won't be any discontent. Everybody will be grabbing at it. Everybody will be grabbing at it. Okay, so much for Mark Hamak. Where was that stuff from? Is that in English? Yeah, that's an article of Telestis work. If you want to read it, I'll give it to you. How does it do in the commandments to follow God?


Is that actual grace or is it both? I think it's both, actually. It's the actualization of sanctifying grace, of our divine sonship, of our divine... God's self-communication is one of them. God's gift of himself to us, for our transformation. It's the making that happen through the use of actual graces, okay? Because they talk about the power of the commandments and it's as if with every commandment, with every word of the Lord, there's an actual grace attached. You know what I mean? So that if you do it, the grace is like eating the fruit. It's... energy gets into it, to put it crudely. But it's a mixture of the two. The work of the commandments themselves is a work of actual grace. Because those are acts, those are deeds, actually, that we have to do. And the grace is very much united with the commandment itself. As if the word did have its own power. Okay. So here,


Mark is much clearer than than Dorotheus here, who could give you the idea at a certain point that baptism falls short and that the commandments have to add something that baptism didn't do. Like scooping out the roots of the passions. But actually, baptism is that which puts something in you that's deeper than the passions themselves. But it's only through the work of the commandments that, from that deepest core of God's grace, the power moves out to eradicate the vices and passions. And he talks about the law. The law of the Old... Yeah, the law of the Old Testament and how Jesus goes deeper and goes further. And then he gets down to this key for him, the key saying of the Lord, which has been the key for many others as well. Here's the thing, the reason why we despise and disobey


the commandments of God. This is our pride. Learn of me, for I am meek and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. There you have it in a nutshell. He has taught us the root and cause of all evils and also the remedy for it, leading to all good. He shows us that pretensions to superiority, that is pride, cast us down, and it's impossible to obtain mercy except by the contrary. That is to say, by humility. Self-elevation begets contempt, and disobedience begets perdition. Whereas humility begets obedience and the saving of souls. I call that real humility, which is not humble in word and outward appearance, but is deeply planted in the very heart. But this is what he meant when he said, I am meek and humble of heart. This reminds us of a lot of things. It reminds us of St. Benedict, first of all, because the whole rule is built on that principle. The degrees of humility, remember, are the spine of the rule. That's that seeking of that humility of heart, which is both acquired and expressed through obedience. Also we think of St. Therese and her so-called little way, which is the same kind of thing.


When we read that life of sanctiosity, we can't help being reminded of St. Therese. And you have the notion of simplicity, and also that notion of childhood, that Ronan writes so theologically about, as being openness, a particular kind of openness that there is. And finally, we have to come around to another view of this, and remember Berger writing about humility and creativity, and how if we only talk about humility, we only get half of the pattern. And we'll find Dorotheus here talking much about creativity. And yet there's a time for taking absolutely what Dorotheus says and finding it in our lives. And there's another time when the emphasis should not be St. Therese. It just isn't St. Paul. You don't find St. Paul at every point being simply humble. There's an alternation between two phases of our life. But we continually have to be able


to return to that point of humility, the point of utter simplicity and littleness, and be able to get past it with a little time. Otherwise, all of our creativity, initiative, or whatever will just build a big, big, huge opportunity. Then he goes on with a diatribe about pride and arrogance and thinking too much of himself, which is exactly right. But that lays on so heavy on the fathers that it can beat you right into the ground because there isn't any room to live in. It's a strange thing. It almost seems as if man has changed in a way since those days. We've talked about this before. But that man was more simple and rugged in the beginning. It's almost as if you could take a hammer and drive it like a nail. The nail bends now. If you try to apply that same principle now in the monastic life,


you find that the nail bends. You have plastic nails, and you end up hitting your thumb. You can't just drive people into the ground like that. We're not made that way anymore. And somehow it's partly that we've lost our innocence. We don't have a good enough grip on our identity. I suspect that partly we don't have that kind of primitive togetherness that an earlier generation of men seems to have had. Civilization has done something to us. Civilization has made us somewhat neurotic and self-diffident, I think. So we have to be careful with the medicine of humility. Not because it's bad medicine, but because it easily turns into something that's not humility, but neurosis. Or depression. We've gotten very subtle, too, so that we hide our pride. So we learn how to conceal it.


There's one thing you notice often about more sophisticated people, more civilized people, they learn how to hide their egoism. Younger people, the kids sometimes, will be very open about their egoism, about their pride, their inflation, their vanity. Simple people are that way. And then more sophisticated people, more civilized people, they learn to hide that and do it very fine and very subtle. The way that they're getting a certain return for their own ego, flattering themselves while seeming to do something else. A lot of civilization consists of that, it seems. And there's one thing about obedience and disobedience and arrogance and brotherliness. Yes. Yeah, here it is. This, he goes back into the history of salvation, okay, where he's thrown


Adam out of paradise, Eve, too. Then he delivered him to his own self-will and to his own desires, that he may grind down his own bones and learn that he cannot go straight on his own but only by the command of God, so that learning the poverty of disobedience may teach him the tranquility that comes from obedience. As the prophet says, your rebellions shall teach you. Remember the story of the prodigal son, it's exactly that. His bones were ground down. He learns the poverty of disobedience, the emptiness, being out with the swine and couldn't even eat what they were willing to eat, so he begins to think of his father. The poverty of disobedience, which is to learn our own emptiness when we're detached from the Father, detached from the little God and from the Spirit and grace. Grace is a gift. And if we try to keep it, take it off as a possession, we come to


evil. Thank you. There's a key here to this business of keeping the commandments, and that is compunction of heart. He talks about the varieties of pride, and one among them is self-justification. That's one of the hardest to eradicate because it's self-preserving. Self-justification means, well, I'm right to be that way. I'm right, I'm right, I'm right. It's complete blindness. This holding fast to our own will is obstinacy in being our own God. Whereas the product of humility is self-accusation, distrust of our own sentiments, and hatred of our own will. And each of those has a sick brother. Now, each of those has a neurotic mirror image.


Each of those three. And yet these are right and true. Without humility, it's impossible to obey the commandments, for at any time you go to it, only thing good. And here he quotes Abba Mark. As Abba Mark says, without a contrite heart, it's impossible to be free from wickedness or to acquire virtue. Therefore, by compunction of heart, you get a grip on the commandments. So, compunction of heart is not just humility, it's something special. It's a sense of sinfulness, a sense of fatherhood. It's the kind of sentiment that was in the father for a son. He really took it as when he went back to his father. So, that's the key. By compunction of heart, you get a grip on the commandments. Are free from evil, gain virtue, and what is more, peace of mind, returns to you. Now, compunction of heart, what is there about it? It's a sentiment. It's a feeling. It's an experience. It's a quality of heart which is felt and which is a kind of spirit which points you in a certain direction. There's a chapter in


Abbott and Army in the book of Christ, the idea of a monk about compunction, where he says that compunction makes it impossible to sin. That compunction is the kind of salt that, if it's in you, preserves you from sin and preserves a monk from falling away. Compunction is that. It's not just a virtue, but it's a kind of fundamental disposition of the heart which hates sin and which is a continuous sensitivity towards God. You might call it the fear of God, but compunction is the monastic term for it. It adds something else to that notion of humility. It adds a particular poignance, a particular quality of feeling. Compunction, a particular sharpness. Therefore, becoming friends of God, they were able, after holy baptism, not only to cut out sins arising from evil passions, but to conquer the passions themselves. Okay, but baptism really gives you the key to that too. And to acquire complete control of their passions. They knew that by the keeping


of the commandments, the soul is purified and the mind too is enlightened. This sounds just like Mark the Hermit. And they perceived that it starts functioning as nature intended it to. And then he talks about how they went out and became solitaries. The commandments were given to all Christians and everybody has to keep them. But now he says the monks decided to do something more. To offer gifts in addition to the commandments. Here we get to the difference between the commandments and the councils. Remember, Cassian does something like this too. And the gifts that they gave are virginity and poverty. He doesn't talk about obedience here, perhaps because he's talking about the solitaries out in the desert. They did have obedience, but it was spiritual poverty. But the cenobitical life is the life of obedience per se for the person. That's the fundamental, as you call it, moving part. The fundamental agent of the cenobitical life is this obedience. Remember, where he talks about this


is just after he's talked about all those groups of the spirit. So, if you don't put this crucifixion to the world and of the world in the context of the Holy Spirit, it sounds pretty grim. But he's talking about people who have done that and therefore are free to enjoy these gifts of the spirit, these fruits of the spirit, which are love and peace and joy and kindness and goodness and all those good things. Important to keep that together. Then he separates those two ways of crucifixion, which I'm not sure this is the way I think Paul is thinking of it, but you can judge that for yourself. The world is crucified to a man when a man renounces the world. So he leaves the world. That's what Cachan calls the first renunciation. But how can a man be crucified to the world when he begins to combat against pleasure itself, against the desire? So that's the battle of the heart. Not just giving things up, but giving up the love of things, the tendencies, the passions themselves. That's the harder struggle. That's the whole of the monastic life


and the ascetical life. That's what Cachan calls the second renunciation. I think that's his third conference. Then he's worthy to say that the apostle of the world is crucified to be united to the world. St. Paul can understand that. And he's the one who has this marvelous freedom of the spirit. And there's peace in the world. Is this preservation all within the realm of the councils rather than the commandments itself? No. That business about the councils was just a parenthesis. Now he goes back to his former discourse, which refers more to the commandments. So the commandments do this. Not just the councils. It's not just virginity and poverty that do this. Come to think of it, come to think of it,


the first crucifixion refers more to the particular thing that the monk does, right? He leaves the world. But the second one does not. That's everybody's work. So after the separating thing of the monk, the first crucifixion, the second crucifixion, which is the deeper one, goes back to the commandments and back to what every Christian does. So it's not peculiar to the monk. But the monk has a special help to doing it in that first crucifixion, which is the first annunciation. There's been a lot of controversy about this. The way they put it is whether perfection pertains to the commandments or the councils. And it's very important. It's just like this question about baptism. Is everything in baptism or do we add something? Is everything in the commandments which are given to everybody or do we add something special when we make monastic profession according to the councils? Do we put in something of our own that goes beyond the initial gift of God, which is to every Christian? See, that's very important.


And that depends on whether we get a superiority conference, whether we get an elitist separatist thing about the monastic life being something special. And the answer of Thomas Aquinas also is no. It's in the commandments. He was speaking to a particular person. He was speaking to a particular person and telling him how he was to find the perfection of the commandments, I believe. You see, by following him. But everybody finds them through the following of the commandments. That's how I would interpret it. Because otherwise what happens is you shut off perfection from everybody else, right? If you say, if you want to be perfect come and do this and everybody who doesn't do that is cut off from


perfection, which the church knows obviously to be plausible. But again, this is about how one of these privileged men came to power and he's got a chance. It's possible with God. Even if he keeps his riches. Now, depending on the situation. At least everybody doesn't have to follow that same coach. It seems like that statement the way he answered the question that it's possible with God, there's a big area of ambiguity there so that nobody gets nailed down. But there can be an exception. Although it seems like he's still maintaining that riches isn't difficult. He wasn't going to give you a pretty big loophole. That's right. He says how difficult it is for someone I don't know if he's saying Luke or Mark but how difficult it is for someone who is attached or who puts his trust in riches to enter the kingdom. Aha, there's a key. You put your trust in riches.


Because somebody can be rich and poor at the same time. He can be rich and detached. It's conceivable. It's not the material possession of riches that really keeps a person out of the kingdom. Although it may keep him out if he's stuck on something. But he doesn't want to attach perfection or salvation to any particular external thing in that way. But he sure does give a very strong push towards getting rid of us. It seems in terms of this piece of fiction that the Bible is a biblical truth and it's there anyway, but it's a whole lot farther than you are on that. That's right. That's right. It's just kind of exactly what he's saying. Although there are means out there perhaps for doing it too that are pretty effective, because there are a lot of people in need and so on. If one takes the other tack and one really serves them then it is a... And you get these stories in the Desert Fathers of... We talked about that before. Callistos Rare has an article on that where this heavy-duty monk is praying to God. He says,


Is there anybody better than me? And God says, Yeah, I'll show you. Go into the city. So he goes into the city and he finds some shoemaker. He says, What's your secret? What do you do? Finally he finds out that he's doing some particular... He's not doing great ascetic feats, not doing great monastic things, but there's some charitable quality in his life that puts him higher than his pro. There are a bunch of stories like that. Occasionally even. ... ...


... [...] Then he talks about the habit, he goes on about that book of pages, it's like Cassian


Street, one of his institutes there. And then he gets back to this fundamental thing, the cutting off of desires, page 88 and 89. It's another key. And he calls it a stab for the journey. From this cutting off of self-will a man procures for himself tranquility, and from tranquility comes with the help of God the serene and different. You notice the connection between a bunch of things here. One is this cutting off of desires yourself, and the other is obedience. What he's working at is the will, the delicate point in ourselves which is pretty deep, which we don't necessarily get to entirely with asceticism or even sometimes with prayer, the things that we do, which is our own will and how that connects with humility, the way that we think of ourselves and so on. Very deep point in ourselves. And he gets to it through obedience and he gets to it through this cutting off of self-will.


He gives an example where you can cut off ten such desires in a short walk. He gives the life of St. Dosithy, and I want to come back to this next time and talk about him as an example of this way that Dorotheus is preaching, this way of utter simplicity of spiritual childhood, and therefore of childhood of God. He tells several stories there, and then he comes down to the end and said how he had his doubts about how he could enter the kingdom of heaven because he didn't have any problems. It's hard to understand how he could be without problems and have all that work to do, if you read about his life, how he'd get to bed late because he had to put the camels to sleep or something, and then they'd wake him up for vigil, and so on, and he said he didn't have any troubles and he was wondering, why? Master, since the scriptures say that through much tribulation one must enter into the kingdom


of heaven, I don't seem to have a single affliction, what shall I do? And he was sick all the time too, he was like Zeus, you know, what's happening, I'm crazy. Shall I not lose my soul if I have any single affliction or anxiety? When I had explained my thought to him in this way, he wrote back to Clarence, do not be afraid, you have no cause to be. For everyone who throws himself completely into obedience to the Father shall surely possess this state of freedom from care and peacefulness of soul. Okay, that's the way of St. Docethy too, that is, Dorothy is for the novice, we'll read about it next time. Now, this usually makes a mixed impression on us, you go, well, that's beautiful, it's surely the right way, and yet because we are modern people, because we're Americans, we have a lot of doubts about that kind of thing too, and we may have seen it misused or mis-lived in some cases also in religious communities. So we can keep this a little bit in mind and come back to it from one side of the other to the other, because there's a key there, we're supposed to find a kind of simplicity,


you know, the right kind of simplicity, the simplicity of the truth, the simplicity of our children, and yet we're not supposed to be children in the wrong sense, just as Paul tells us, he says, don't be children with respect to evil, you've got to grow up, you've got to become adults, mature people by discernment, by discernment, learning how to discern good from evil. It seems that the maturity is in the discernment and also in the strength, but the strength is acquired through this kind of simplicity and totalness. A person can be exceedingly strong in that way, but he also needs discernment, he also needs that quality of the mind. There's another quality which we have acquired a lot, ever since the 14th century or so, and that's the critical mind, okay? Now, thinking of it, what's the difference between a critical mind, a rational mind, and a discerning mind? That's something I just threw out for you to think about, because it has to do with


this question we're talking about. This sort of way of childhood of Dorotheus and Dositheus, and some of our problems with it. I think it's the kind of mind with all the things that we're simply not subject to, subject all of us to Christ, and we're simply not that way. I think that rational minds, at least in encounter, they are sophists and they think around everything. Like Socrates, the Socratic mind is the critical mind. He's the classic, the teacher of it. And he's beautiful too, Socrates, in the way he gets at the truth. But nothing can be calculated, particularly if you take that approach, at least in the modern context, you know, because there's a thousand and one answers to everything you might propose in a way. And you can take, in other words, any way that's presented, or any commandment, any way that's presented by, say, the spiritual father or whatever, you can pick it to pieces with that method, right?


You can say, well, no, I mean, that's obviously... Because you can find a hundred other ways. And anybody can do that. It has a little cleverness of that kind. And then there's another thing, which is discernment. It's not critical reflection, but discernment. And yet it is critical. I mean, discernment's another kind of critical thinking, okay? But it's not purely rational. What it is, is trying to find, judge between the levels of reason, of simple human reason, of a perverse spirit, and of the spirit of God. And once you've discerned the spirit of God, then simplicity is possible, right? Until then, you have to kind of be watchful, even on the rational level. But your only problem, really, is the problem of discernment. We don't even have to discern where our discernment's coming from. We have to discern where our criticism is coming from, or where our thoughts are coming from. Anyway, there's something I'd like to talk about more in the future, that thing, because it's really right on the boundary line


between the type of mind that we find here, the kind of naivety and simplicity that we find there, and the type of mind that's more characteristic of us. Yes. Yeah. Saint Teresa said, well, watch out when you choose one. She says the Lord will rectify things before you go quite over the brink. As he did through her. She had these awful confessors, you know, and they tried to suppress her whole work, you know, and then the Lord did somehow. You have to be patient. That's right. I think probably those confessors were pretty much intimidated, too.


I think they were shaking a little after they'd been talking with her, so the Lord could deal with them fairly easily. Okay. Mark, the ascetic, is in the New Philokalia. He's also in the Holy Father's Bible, the first volume of the Elder Translation. He's a better ascetic. He's a better translation. What's the thing on Mark? Let me make a copy of it real quick. Okay. He's not going to have any other things to... Because I might have to get some... I just like that his idea is about sanctifying the Holy Spirit. Yeah, I think he's much more theological. Theological, I must say, that's why he gives you...