Theology and Lectio Divina

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Theology and Lectio, Conference #4, (Conference #2 not recorded)

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So we'll begin with a little synthesis of where we've come up to now. In these meetings, I am trying to explain what real theology is. So far, we have seen the method and the comprehension in theology. We can distinguish four methods in the history of theology. The method of the fathers, they try to unite scripture and culture. Their method is a mythological, that is, an introduction to the mystery which the church


in the liturgy, excuse me, an introduction to the mystery which the church celebrates in the liturgy every day. Here the important thing is the life of Christian faith. The second method is developed by monks in Europe during the Middle Age. In this method, the essential paradigm is the spirit of Christian faith. The ancient fathers have tried to unite scripture, history, culture, liturgy. Now, instead, the scriptures are interpreted by monks only spiritually, and in the light


of their spiritual question. Here, the people don't must understand too much. It must only believe. In this epoch, the most interesting human spirit is the Saint Anselm. The third method begins with the Saint Thomas, but it develops above all after him. Here, the main paradigm is the science of the Christian faith. In the method of the father is the life, in the Middle Age, the monastic method is the spirit of the Christian faith, and now it's the science of the Christian faith. All reality, including God, becomes the object of science.


In this context of this time, theology presents itself as a science in which God becomes a concept to define. But in this epoch, a rich spiritual life develops, for example, Master Eckhart, Saint John of the Cross, and many others. But always in this time, theology and the spiritual life divide into different experiences in the church. The fourth method is that developed by great theologians of our century. Theology returns to consideration of the theological method of the father, but also it develops


a theological system with the history and with the human and spiritual problems of today. Hence, we can describe the kind of comprehension of theology today. Comprehension comes from comprendere, Latin verb, to take with, in English. In other words, comprehension is relation. And here, I have presented last time the reciprocity in our relationship, human relationship. I cannot know you if I don't self-communicate to you. Through this my own communication, I know myself and I can know you.


But you, in this movement of reciprocity, help me to understand me. Though I know you through my self-comprehension, but also I am known by your comprehension about me. In our history, so much divided, theology tries to present the Christian faith as the context of a spiritual unity between me and you, in our difference but not in our indifference, and every pose of reality. Contemporary theology has developed a circle of reciprocity for the comprehension of the human reality and of God's mystery.


Our reality today is very rich, but at the same time divided. For this reason, theology tries the symbol present in ourselves, everyone here, everybody is a symbol, tries the symbol, to understand the symbol, in ourselves, in the others, among us, in Jesus Christ. Also Jesus Christ is this symbol because he has a true nature, human and divine nature. In God, because in God there are three persons, there is a difference.


The Son is not the Father, the Father is not the Son, and the Holy Spirit is not Father and Son. But also in Trinity there is unity among the churches and among the religions. In this sense, theological comprehension becomes wisdom. Because only wisdom sees the symbolic horizon of every human being, and it becomes also mystical because it experiences the symbolic mystery of the divine presence. What is the between among the poles is the presence of the mystery for us.


For this reason, the symbolic comprehension is very important today in theology. The final feature of Christian theology is mystical wisdom. I want to say that we don't acquire wisdom on our own, but it is a gift which comes from the Spirit. For example, we read in John's Gospel, I am telling the truth, no one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again. A person is born physically of human parents, but he is born spiritually of the Spirit.


Do not be surprised because I tell you that you must all be born again. The wind blows wherever it wishes. You hear the sound it makes, but you don't know where it comes from or where it is going. It is like that with everyone who is born of the Spirit. This text is very important for three reasons. The first, it is necessary to be reborn in the Spirit to see the Kingdom of God. This rebirth is a conversion of our desire and of our will. It is also a conversion of our mind.


And lastly, it is a conversion of our spirit. In other words, this rebirth is a new way of thinking and of living which we obtain through spiritual practice. This rebirth is a gift from the Spirit. The second, this rebirth is spiritual. It renews us and gives us a dynamic personal constitution. However, the presence of the Spirit inside us and among us is real but invisible like the wind. Only mystical wisdom, given by the Spirit of God, recognizes and sees the work of the same Spirit,


that is, the construction of God's Kingdom. But also, this same wisdom is invisible. I want to say that authentic mystical wisdom doesn't strut like a peacock outside on the roads of the world, but it hides inside our hearts and there it speaks to us. For this reason, the presence of the Spirit is a silent word inside us and among us, which we must only hear. We hear the sound it makes, remaining in amazement at its creative freedom.


The third, finally, we discover that mystical wisdom is the knowledge that knows to not know. Dr. Ignoranzi, knowledge that knows to not know, but which is comprehended by the airy movement of the Spirit. Let us remember here the experience of Elijah on Mount Sinai in 1 Kings 19, verse 11, etc. This experience of Elijah is very interesting because Elijah here is in Christ and he escapes in the desert and he wants to die.


But God reveals to him and he lives a deep experience of the Spirit of God. And the manifestation of God here is wind. Do you remember this text? It's very famous. Therefore, theological method opens a road for us to comprehension, and theological comprehension opens us to the self-communication of God who comprehends us. Finally, there is a mystical wisdom, which is a gift of the Spirit, who products in us love, joy, peace, passion, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control.


This list is present in Galatians 5, verse 22. But let us try to think more deeply what the mystical wisdom of theology is. I can say that it is the joy to see. Mystical wisdom is the joy to see something, of course. Every mystic in the Church sees something for our life, for the life of the Church, and for the human history. It is a vision. Mystical wisdom is the joy to see primordial communion,


which unites everything, you and me, us and the world, the world and God, behind all differences, identity, character, culture, language, sex, education, behind all differences, we share a living background, a same shame which we have in common, and where we smile and weep, where we know days of solitude and desperation, and days of communion and happiness, where we experience health and illness, where we see life and death, where we contemplate the beauty of nature and of the sky,


but also from which arise many questions in our mind. So, mystical wisdom sees beyond the polarity of creation, the unity of the divine wisdom. It looks at the ground which comprehends everything. This primordial communion is the Word of the Trinity. This divine wisdom is the loving freedom of the Father, who gives himself away to the Son in the unity of the Holy Spirit. The mystics in the Church see this primordial communion and this communion is the Word of the Trinity.


Mystical wisdom is the joy, is always joy, of a global vision of the cosmos, it is an ordered gaze, which perceives by intuition all things bringing them to light. Theological wisdom discovers in the same things a logos and a spirit which unite them without confusion and which distinguish them without disunion, division. Theological wisdom contemplates the history of the world following the Christological law which determines their existence in all its dimensions. So, mystical wisdom comprehends human history


in the light of this Christological law. This Christological law is the true nature and for this reason the mystics see very well the human dimension, but this human dimension in divine dimension. For this reason many mystics say we are in God, but we are not God. Also our spiritual experience, God is close to me, close to us,


but I am not God. So, mystical wisdom is the joy of a doxological circle and doxological comes from the Greek word doxa that means glory, doxa in Greek, glory. Mystical wisdom is the joy of this glory, but the glory in God is a circle of relation between individuality and communion, experience and idea, you and me, heaven and earth, life and death.


The mystical wisdom of theology sees the parable of this pause and recognizes them in another perspective and on a different level. This perspective and this different level of comprehension is the divine wisdom of the cross. In the event of the cross, divine wisdom takes away the opposition, the tension and the contradiction of our world and of human history, but also our soul, of that loving glory, but through and inside the circle of the doxa, of the glory, of that loving glory which is the same trinitarian relationship.


In the mystery of the cross, God runs through the abyss of polarity between us and him, between sin and grace, between history and creation, between you and me, between human life undetermined by death and divine life animated by love. Though the mystical wisdom of theology contemplates the true loving power of God, but the strength of reconciliation and of love. In other words, we have here three levels of mystical wisdom. The first is the communion.


There is a unity. This is the first joy of mystics. They see this unity. This unity is the life of Trinity. The second is an altered gaze. They see the difference, but alternate. They see the cosmos, not the chaos. And finally, they see the doxological circle between unity and difference. We must have some texts of mystics.


For example, Master Eckhart is very difficult. Or Saint-Jean de Grosse. Other mystics. And always we find this relationship between unity, unity of God, but also the difference in God and the unity and difference in human history, human soul. One question. You mentioned the Trinitarian doxological character of true mystical wisdom and Christological. What about non-Christian mysticism, this whole area that Fr. Thomas Mattis is involved in? Do we say that there is a Christ dimension there implicitly? A Trinitarian implicitly?


Yes. In many mystics, the point of beginning is the relationship with the skies. But at this point, it's very important. But this point opens to the world of Trinity. Jesus Christ is the magician. For example, I have studied for many years Italian mystics. She is a woman, Angela da Foligno. And in her experience,


after the experience of Jesus Christ, for many years, she lived in the Trinity. And she used strong words. For example, she says, I am now in the center of the Trinity. Do you understand the importance of this sentence? I live now in the center of the Trinity, but in this center there are many problems. Where is the center of the Trinity? First, there is a center in the Trinity where there is


and she is the center, a human being, a real human, a sister. But this is her experience. It's very interesting. Yes. And for another mystic, Master Eckhart, God is nothing. This is very difficult to understand. For us, in our experience, in our education, in our formation, God is all. But Master Eckhart, in his personal experience,


mystical experience, he discovered that God is all, but this all is nothing. Because I lost myself in him. God is so much great and big that at the end he and me are nothing. And many spiritual, mystical experiences in Christianity are near, for example, Buddhist experience. And in Buddhist experience,


God, but they don't call this presence God, but God is a mystery, is a presence in everywhere, in everything. But this presence, at the end, is nothing. Pure nothingness. Because I cannot identify God now, in this moment. God escapes. Sometimes I find it helpful if you put a hyphen in the word nothing. No thing. God is no object.


And the mind is always trying to be defined by putting a parameter. This is very important. So for Eckhart, he says there are no boundaries to God. Also for myself, no thing. No boundaries. There is no thing, God. Also this is the experience of St. Augustine. God is so near to me, but at the same time is above me. For us Christians, it is very important the Christological law and the primordial communion,


the Trinity, and this relationship with the Holy Spirit. This is our spiritual experience, also in the liturgy. We pray every day, at the end of every psalms, the theological prayer, very, very wonderful here in the hermitage. Do you remember this prayer? Christ the Father, the Son, Christ the Father, the Word, and the Spirit. Father, the Spirit, the Water, and the Blood. The Spirit and the Blood. That's the summation. For example, this prayer is prominent, very rich, and it describes this experience.


I was just going to say, the experience, though, for a human being, we never really... Can we talk about pure experience? An experience is always filtered through my human subjectivity. And even as I'm experiencing, it's being interpreted by me, even before I talk about it. So, what is the Buddhist experience, mystical experience, and the Christian experience, even before they try to share, even as they become aware of what's happening, it is already affected. The experience has human subjectivity. Would you say that's true? Yes, for me it's correct. And for this reason, for me, it's possible to have dialogue between religions today. But this dialogue must be very clear,


and in the reciprocal respect. This experience is true, because when God visits my life, sure, I change. It is impossible. This is true in mystical Christian experience, or Buddhist, and other. But we have another comprehension of this mystery. It's interesting, in Zen Buddhism, they do not like to talk about it. For to talk about it is to betray, to limit the experience. They don't talk about this. Also, in the Christian experience, we have many mystical experiences,


very, very silent. And true mystics don't talk very much. But for theology, it's important. Yes, yes, yes. And for me, this is important for Lectio Divina, because in Lectio Divina, we have the same experience. Every time that I open the book of scriptures, I meet this Christ. Also in the Old Testament, for our theology, our interpretation. For example, do you remember in the Old Testament,


the saying, when Moses is... the people are in the desert, and there is no water. And God says to Moses, go and beat, strike the rock. And the patristic interpretation, but in the whole history, Christian history, this rock is Christ. Because on the cross, Jesus gives water and blood. And this rock is the anticipation of the event for the girl. And this is a Christological interpretation. And also the creation and many other things in the Old Testament.


In spousal mysticism, just taking your same point, I think the mystic would say, once they are caught up in the Beloved, then everything speaks to them of the Beloved. Yes. So, the Old Testament nature, everything is the Beloved. Everything speaks of the Beloved. It's a different language. Yes. But, after Jesus Christ, in the Lectio Divina, we must try the Trinity. And especially the action of the Holy Spirit. For this reason, for me it's very important, for example, last night, in the Lectio Divina community, everyone says something about the Scripture.


And every discourse is important. I heard the page of Scripture, but I must also hear you. Because the Spirit speaks through you. And together, we can understand the deep sense of Scripture. Together. And every person in the community, for me, is very important. And I heard with attention. Because my interpretation is not perfect. It's only one interpretation. But I need also your help. Because the Holy Spirit speaks through you to me.


Or to us. Probably this discourse can seem a little bit difficult. But it's a normal experience. But sometimes we have this experience. But we don't recognize it. Questions? Comments? I wonder if there is a better translation for Kuhn Prendere, instead of taking with... I think of the Prendere meaning more like grass. I thank you for this. It's a little weak, but to grasp it is what I think.


I don't know the sense of what you're saying. Yeah, this is for me. Thank you. Every translation is very difficult. It's my problem, the translation. Also in Italian, when I speak. Because I, Kuhn Prendere, I take with, but I can explain in another way. For example, next Sunday, we read in the Gospel the scene of the women that touch Jesus Christ. When I touch somebody, I touch you.


I touch you, but there is reciprocity. Kuhn Prendere is the real movement. It's Kuhn Prendere. It's not this. But the touch, his touch, me. It's very difficult. Take it for a day with you. And for these women, she touched Jesus Christ, but really, Jesus Christ touched her. Yeah. This is the circularity, and for this reason, the strength of Kuhn Prendere is with. I am touched by you.


I am, in the mystical experience, I am touched by God. I am touched. A little bit more clear? No. I just want to ask, I didn't quite understand Fr. Robert's question there about the non-Christian Masters, is the feeling that they actually do have a true mystical experience, a grace-type phenomenon of the Holy Spirit, when they reach their levels of enlightenment? You are a Christian, you have an authentic experience of the Holy Spirit. I don't remember, in Gaudium in Spes, there is a number, but I must try this number.


There is a number very important for this question, 72, I don't remember exactly, but I'll try in the afternoon. And this number of Gaudium in Spes is very important, because the Council states that also, outside the Church, there is an authentic experience of God. And this experience of God is possible for us only in the Paschal Mysteries of Jesus Christ. For this reason, every authentic experience of God outside of the Christian Church, for example in other religions, this experience is possible for us.


This is our interpretation. For us, only in the Paschal Mysteries, that is, through Jesus Christ, and of course in the Holy Spirit. Because now, after the Resurrection, the Resurrection is the Holy Spirit who presents the pneumatic Christ in the history. But they don't know this reality, deep reality. In Camandoli, two years ago, we had a meeting between the community of monks and a little group of Buddhist monks.


And in the discussion, one monk asked us, what is the Trinity? What is the Spirit? They know our tradition, our theology, and sometimes we don't know very well our tradition and our theology. And they are very amazed for our explanation of the Trinity. Because, a spiritual explanation in this case, because their spiritual experience was very near to us.


But there is an authentic experience of the Spirit. I don't understand. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, and the fruit of this experience is transformation, personal transformation. I have read before what is the work of the Spirit in us according to St. Paul. Yeah, yeah, I got it.


The Spirit products in us love, joy, peace, passion, kindness, etc. Where these elements are present, there is a spiritual experience. So you're saying that whenever the Buddhists or any type of religion, the Spirit comes to all of them in different forms to make them, to make them in their own way. One person, lots of different categories. For me it's very interesting because for us in the United States this problem is very, very important.


This relationship with other religions. Also in Europe, but it's not so strong. Because probably, especially in California, the energy is near, I don't know. It's difficult for me to understand why things happen where I come from. We take it for granted. We trust, we believe. We don't question. It's there. We don't ask why. But you remember spiritual... Yeah, yeah. But I think it's also important for us the question why.


Because this question sometimes is different because sometimes there is a scientific question and an empirical question. But in theology, why is it not in this sense? Because theology respects the mystery. Now. In the past, not always. But now theology and spirituality respect the Spirit, the work of the Spirit. And if we ask why, and for this reason, because sometimes in the community it's important to have a concrete sense


of our experience. Of course, this experience is all incomplete. But for this moment, for our history, for my personal life, it's important to understand this moment, my situation in the Spirit. And for this reason, I ask why. And the answer is incomplete. I know this very well. It's incomplete. But for me it's important. And also your answer, reply, is important for me. Also your answer is incomplete. But together, our answer, our reply, for this reason, the Christian community has a great gift of the Spirit.


We can understand something about... We were saying earlier about how to build up an understanding of how things are there. It's the Spirit, of course. Theory has an object. This is the Spirit, it's Christ. And through the object it actually evaporates to nothing. Theory is simplistic. It comes down to what the general understanding of our thing is, so that the Lord, the Spirit is there. An object may be a vision of me. It's not even a grasp. It's actually... It's not having any meaning. So it actually goes right down in the circle of summary. But the spiritual experience of God is not static, but it's dynamic. And when I want to stop this moment, I don't understand. I cannot stop this moment, this experience.


When I want to stop, I do violence against the Spirit. And for this reason, in our tradition, monastic tradition, we are the monks. What is a monk? A monk is receptivity also. For this reason, the experience passes. The Spirit comes and... Passes with us, through us. Yeah. Every day. In the liturgy, in the community, in the Lectio Divina, in personal prayer, every day.


Passes in our midst. Yeah. There's a wonderful book by a biblical scholar, The Illusive Presence. It says the single theme of all of Scripture is God who is very much present, but can't just be. And he says that that experience of Elisha is decisive to discover God is not just present in huge events, but in extremely subtle, and as you say, can't be frozen. Bellissimo. Yeah, yeah. Okay. Thank you. Thank you.