Unknown Date, Serial 00671

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And now we'd like to talk about a few questions or subjects that were raised by that treatment, although I shouldn't go on too long about this because some of this belongs to your other course, the monastic spirituality course. Have you covered the divine office in that course yet, of course? Those of you who have been here the longest? No. No? Okay. So let's talk a little bit about the meaning of the divine office. I gave you some references last time. There's a pretty adequate treatment in Pfeiffer, as a matter of fact. But the Second Vatican Council, since it asked for a renewal of the liturgy, including the divine office, has also given some norms on that, which we'll go into a bit. The whole question of the meaning of the divine office, and why is it done, and also sort of its philosophy. The expression that you run into all the time is the sanctification of the day, or the sanctification


of the hours, or the sanctification of time, and we'll have to ask ourselves what that means. What does it mean to sanctify time? Because a monk would have to look at it in a different way from, perhaps, the church outside. You can talk about the sanctifying of time in a subjective way, and the monk would think about it in that way. You tend to think about it in terms of continual prayer, or something like that, maintaining the presence of God all the time. If you try to think about sanctifying time objectively, what can it mean? It's harder for me to make sense out of that. I'd say something like, give God's importance to the meaning of the hours, rather than, say, someone in society might be concerned with the world, or his jobs, or his profession's demands on the hours. But you try to give God's focus, or God's will, meaning in the hours.


Okay, that's good enough. So that means to put something into time objectively, something in the world that is in life, which gives it another character than it would have otherwise, a purely secular human character. Put something there objectively, so it becomes a sign, like a church is in space. It's a sacred space, which keeps the world from being purely secular. It's a sign of the sacred dimension, put right into the middle of the secular, in a sense. So you can say that the divine office does that in time, as sacred spaces do it in space. So that's a sign value, it means something at that point. And also, you've got to distinguish the sign from the function, in a sense. A sign already performs a function just by saying something. But signifying, or meaning, and doing, or functioning, are two different aspects in them. You can separate them pretty well often. So, what the divine office signifies, and what it does, can be looked at differently.


Patrick? Isn't time and space already sacred? It's only what we do with it that counts. It's sacred on a certain level, right? Deeply in itself it's already sacred, but we've got a way of making it unsacred. It's true when you say, well, we do it, but if you go out in the world and just walk around on the street, and then come back and try to meditate on the fact that time is sacred out there, and space is sacred out there, boy, it sure doesn't look like it. You know, if you go into a city, in nature it's another thing. It's what man does with it. It's what man does with it, but it's also our condition, right? It's the fallen state of the world, in a sense, that time and space are not obviously sacred. Now, out in nature, it's much easier, you know, to see that sacredness of time and of space, and just of reality in general. But in man's world, it's a lot harder. It's one of the positive ways of coming to God. Remember, St. Bonaventure talks about this. He says, you come to God through nature, actually.


Yes, yes. Seeing God as a source of creation. Sure. Somehow, the more man transforms the world... This is especially true in our technological world. We've been talking about this for a couple of months, you know, on Sundays. But the more man puts his mark on the world, the less it is transparent to God in general. Unless man is religious man. When man is religious man, then the mark that he puts on the world tends to be religious too. If you look at a lot of medieval towns, for instance, you know, you don't say, well, this is secular, this is opaque to God. You immediately... Maybe partly out of romanticism, but we immediately see sort of God's mark, or the mark of a religious society, on those towns. There's something spiritual just about even the simplicity, the poverty of certain ways of building. It's okay, there's something objective there. But time and space, rather, are abstractions, aren't they? Because what we see and what we react to are not time and space directly, but they're things


in their life and their experience. Those also can be abstractions as long as we're not talking in a very concrete sense. So it's a question of sanctifying life in some way, sanctifying all of our life, sanctifying what we do, sanctifying our activities, sanctifying our thoughts, and so on. Part of it is by putting signs into life that remind us, that bring us back to the true but invisible character of everything. And part of it also is by changing us psychologically, or by performing a certain function in that way, of helping us to pray continually, or helping us to, I don't know, getting something going inside of us, aside from the question of signifying to us. In the end, what we really want, of course, is not the sacred marked off from the secular, is it? So that this part of time is sacred because we're praying the divine office during this


part of time, but then there's another part of time which is just filled with work or with other things which are purely profane. What we're trying to do ultimately is to penetrate, right? One with the other, so that every moment of time and every bit of life has both of those dimensions. I shouldn't really say both, the secular... Well, secular is okay, but not profane. That is, secular just means of the world, and it can be in a good sense too, although what secularism means nowadays usually means not sacred, means excluding God in some way, and that's not what we mean. But ultimately what we want is a penetration. This is this mystery of the divine and the human that you find, remember, in the Council of Chalcedon, where Jesus has both the divine nature and the human nature, and it comes up in every place in theology, in every place in life. It's a question of the interpenetration of those two things. Even though they remain in some way distinct, I mean, God is distinct from man, and yet the two must interpenetrate. It's the mystery of the Incarnation, it's the mystery of Christ that at every moment


carries out, which is signified also in the divine office. So at Christ's coming, he sanctifies time and space? That's right. He sanctifies them, like in his baptism, when he sanctifies matter and so on. And he sanctifies time in a way, and space, by putting something into time and space, by planting a seed in it, a seed of eternity, you can say, into time and space, which then matures for these two thousand years and right until the end. It's very hard to get a hold of conceptually, but it's the reality. In order to have unceasing prayer, do we have to see time through eternity? Do we have to have that awareness? Now, awareness is one thing, okay? And your conceptual awareness. You don't have to think in terms of seeing eternity in time, all right? You may have a completely different terminology. You may not think reflectively at all. You may not think of anything but God, or you may not think of anything but Jesus,


and you can still have perpetual prayer, right? In other words, you don't have to have a philosophy in order to have perpetual prayer. They're two different things. But for certain people, and for most of us, some of the time, a philosophy can be helpful, right? Because we start out with a wrong philosophy without knowing it, okay? And therefore, philosophical thinking or conceptual thinking of this kind helps us to get rid of the wrong notion so that we can open ourselves to the simplicity of what's real, you see? So philosophy, in the end, and this kind of thinking, should be transparent. That's the whole point of it, to clear away the misconceptions. Because we've got hundreds of ideas which limit our thinking and which put blinders over our eyes, you see? And so that kind of thinking is largely a matter of removing the blinders. It's a liberation rather than a systematization or a structure of thinking, ultimately. And then you should get to the point where things are simply transparent. You don't have to use a lot of ideas. Okay, so some of the references on these things are of course in the Vatican, two documents.


And the critical document here is the one on sacred liturgy, of course. There's a whole chapter on the divine office, but it's chapter four on the divine office. I won't give you the page numbers because you may have a different edition of this. That's the first of the Council documents to be put out chronologically. So really, you're focused on the liturgy right away. And they realized that it needed renewal. And so we're in haste to get to that practical question, even before the Constitution of the Church. So chapter four, numbers 83 and the following numbers are on the divine office. But you'll see that very quickly after laying down the principles, they get into the practical matters, which do not concern me so much because we're talking about the general theology of the office. And then also earlier on in the document, for instance in number seven, just the very basic principles are put down. So I'll read just a couple of those things. Number seven.


The presence of Christ. Christ is always present in His Church, especially in her liturgical celebrations. He is present in the sacrifice of the Mass. And it goes on to detail that. He is present in the sacraments, so that when anybody baptizes, it is really Christ Himself who baptizes. He is present in His words, since He is He Himself who speaks when the Holy Scriptures are read in the Church. Lastly, He is present when the Church prays and sings. For He has promised, where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them. Christ indeed always associates the Church with Himself in this great work in which God is perfectly glorified and men are sanctified. The Church is His beloved bride who calls to her Lord and through Him offers worship to the Eternal Father. The liturgy then is rightly seen as an exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ. It involves the presentation of man's sanctification under the guise of signs, perceptible by the senses, and its accomplishment in ways appropriate to each of these signs.


In it, full public worship is performed by the mystical body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the Head and His members. From this it follows that every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the Priest and of His body, which is the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others. No other action of the Church can equal its efficacy by the same title and to the same degree. And then number eight, there's a little more. They're talking about the deepest character of the liturgy here. Now, what do we mean by the liturgy? We mean the Eucharist, the other sacraments, and the divine office. And when we talk about the monastic life, we talk about the Eucharist and the divine office principally, and the liturgy of the hours, because those are the two basic poles of the liturgy for us. And so the theological character of the liturgy depends on the fact that it's an action of Christ. So it's basically sacramental in that sense. It's an exercise of the priestly ministry of Christ.


So it's Christ who prays, that's the point. And it's the Bride of Christ who prays at the same time. You get this fluctuation back and forth between the separation with Christ when we speak of the Bride and the union with Christ when we speak of the Body. So it's the prayer of Christ himself and ourselves in Christ. At the same time, it's the prayer of the Bride of Christ. It's a prayer which is addressed by Christ to the Father, and at the same time it's a prayer... I say at the same time, but there's a kind of a fluctuation too from point to point. Of the Bride addressed to Christ himself. But in general, the axis of the liturgy, the primitive liturgy of the Church, is looking to the Father. So much so that Origen even says that we don't pray to Christ, we pray to the Father. But that's an exaggeration, that's an extreme. But in that he must have something to stand on. The liturgy in general looks to the Father in the name of Christ, and ourselves associated with Christ in that. These things may seem... I don't know, sometimes they seem a little drier, they seem too obvious.


They're very important truths you have to return to in order to realize the true character of what you're doing. And the fact that the liturgy is communal, that even when you pray the Divine Office by yourself, you're doing it as a member of the Body. That whole notion of mystical body we could talk about more extensively too. It's very important. And we can get a kind of a stiff notion of it, whereas really it's a deep mystery. Peter Damian gets into it. Yeah, he's got that little book Dominus Orbiscum. And the purpose of that work of St. Peter Damian was to prove that the monk can use... The problem is that the monk can use expressions like the Lord be with you, even when he's celebrating Mass alone in his cell. There's the hermit. And he says he can do that because when he is celebrating the Mass, the whole church is celebrating the Mass they're with him. It's the whole body in that one individual, even when there's only one person celebrating the Eucharist.


So that expresses the reality of the mystical body, as we call it, as realized in the Eucharist. Or in the liturgy. The same is true of the Divine Office. So it's the whole body. It's always a communitarian action, even when it's done alone. It's the action of Christ, the High Priest, and of his body together. And then there are a couple of other principles. It's the sanctification of man and the glorification of God at the same time. These are sort of the two sides of the coin. A lot of this comes from Bacchini. He was a great theoretician behind the constitution of the liturgy, it seems. And if you read his book, you'll see that's the way he talks about the liturgy. So he says that the two sides of the liturgy are the glorification of God and the sanctification of man. Glorification of God, sort of, in a sense, objectively through this prayer. Sanctification of man being, say, the subjective aspect. In the liturgy, the Divine Word and the prayer,


even the external prayer, we shouldn't separate too much between external and internal, works in you, sanctifies you. Sanctifies who? The person who does it. The person who does it, but not only the person who does it. It's a good thing he brought that up, because he said it's a community action, it's an action of the whole body of Christ. So when you pray the liturgy of the hours, also the people who are not praying, in some way, receive something through that. It's just like if one cell in the body is healthy, is performing its function, then the other cells also prosper by virtue of that. That thing we were talking about, the whole ascetical thing, the idea that being a soldier in the army, if the soldier advances one foot, the whole army advances that foot. It's the same thing in prayer as it is in asceticism, in a spiritual battle in general. The same principle, basically. What one gains, all gain, in some sense. And there's a circulation of grace, of course, that we don't understand in the Church. The documents talk about it. We don't want to get too far aside into that, but that's an important point. In other words, the sanctification, whatever profit, whatever gain there is,


is not just for the individual, because then we'd be back into a very earthly, worldly way of thinking. On a lower level, when we were with these charismatics, they were talking, these very devoted ones were eating at the table, and two of them were harboring hatred towards each other. They were trying to pray, and yet they couldn't pray, the whole group, until this was resolved, and it came out, and they both broke down and forgave each other, and they were able to pray. So is it the same when part of the body, like what happened there, there was something in their heart that was keeping all of them from praying? That happens sometimes with those people in those groups, because they have an extreme sensitivity to the Spirit. So it's an unusual experience of what's true all the time,


because hatred and division, even resentment, even when it's concealed, when it's not visible, is the thing which prevents the body from being healthy. Usually we don't realize it because it's not visible. We're not sensitive enough to know what the trouble is. Often when there's a disharmony in the prayer group, you know, when people are praying in tongues or something, that the Spirit will somehow communicate it by having it walk in. Is that right? That's the musician's excuse. There is no musician. No, they're just going to sing in the Spirit. So, of course, sometimes there's a little bit of, what would you say, a little bit of gullibility can creep into that sometimes too, because they get so that they want everything to be so much in the Spirit that everything has to be significant and everything has to be experienced.


There's a kind of a reasoning, there's a kind of a logic that gets in there which can be a little suspicious sometimes, when everything has to be a word of the Spirit or everything has to be coming from the Lord. But nevertheless, there's a truth. So this is... And then the dignity of the liturgy. The sacred action surpassing all others, no other action of the Church can equal its efficacy by the same title and to the same degree. Elsewhere it says, of course, that the liturgy is both the font and the column, both the beginning and the crown, the source and the crown of all of the Church's life, all of its activity, all of its fruitfulness. So the danger there is, of course, it's like a total victory of the liturgists and everybody else lies dead on the battlefield and you don't have to do anything else except go to church, you know, and do your part. That's the danger that theology becomes.


Because even overstressing the liturgical end, these things are all true. The only trouble is you've got to recognize the other pole at the same time, which you could call, what, the subjective, the interior, the spiritual, or the ascetical or the monastic pole, or in a sense the existential pole, that the liturgy does not exhaust the life of the Christian. There's a whole other side there. When they're speaking of the liturgy there, does that include the Eucharist? Oh, sure. The Eucharist is the core of it. It's the heart of it. In fact, they speak of everything else as being an offshoot of the Eucharist, you see. As if the Eucharist is the core and everything else grows out of it. Even the other sacraments grow out of the Eucharist, you see. The Eucharist in some way contains the resurrection, and it contains Jesus in a substantial way, you see, God and man. So everything else comes from it. And they talk about how the oils, for instance, for the other sacraments are consecrated at the chrism mass on Holy Thursday, which commemorates the institution of the Eucharist, to signify that, you see.


Even the oil which is used for baptism comes out of that. You see, the Eucharist makes present, realizes, in the community, in the church, the resurrection of Jesus. Therefore, just the center of the mystery exploding in the Eucharist, and everything else comes out of that, like different stems coming out of that one root or that one plant. Even the other sacraments. And then they talk about how the divine office itself is an extension of the Eucharist into the different hours of the day. Okay? For instance, in the Old Grace book, he tells us, you don't have a Eucharist every day in the East, right? And for a long while in the West, you didn't have the Eucharist. At times in the West, you didn't have the Eucharist every day. But you always have the divine office every day. So the sanctification of time is not performed by the Eucharist, you see, explicitly in the same way. Especially when you don't have a daily Eucharist. But the divine office is to sanctify, as it were, that time. It's specifically for that, but it's an extension, in a way, of the efficacy of the Eucharist.


That's one way of thinking of it. It's supposed to bring that, as it were, Eucharistic presence into every moment. Not in the same sacramental way, but in a sacramental way, just the same. Because you've got to remember also that we are the Eucharist, in a sense, because we are the body of Christ. The Eucharistic body of Christ. And that the prayer of the divine office being principally praise, not only praise, is therefore Eucharistic. Because that's what the Eucharist is. Or you can say that the Eucharist... You can never say the whole Eucharist in one expression, because you've got so many dimensions, it's a mystery which involves them all. You can never capture it in words. But one dimension is just the whole of creation, the whole of the creature, the whole of the human being, whatever you want to say, moving towards God in this movement of transcendence, which is what human life is supposed to be, which is what created reality is supposed to be.


It's kind of a movement out of itself into God, even though it retains its own existence. It's like the burning bush that's on fire, and it's moving, it's in motion towards God, which carries it beyond its own being, even while it remains undestroyed in its own being, and that's the Eucharist. Well, the divine office brings that into the different moments of time, the different moments of the day. But it does it only in the way of a sign, you see, because if you have, say, terse at nine o'clock in the morning, then you have sex at noon. What about in between? There's no sign in between, but the reality is supposed to continue in between. You see? The reality of that movement towards God, of your being being oriented and moving towards God in a kind of gravitational way, but also the attitude and the reality of prayer, of conscious prayer in some way in between. Now, this is especially for the monks, because their life was supposed to be in continual prayer. So the monks, as we saw in Cassian,


find difficulty with this idea of just having a prayer at a certain state of time, because it can be so misleading and can lead you to think that that's all that's necessary. Similarly, the monks have a bit of difficulty when the importance of the liturgy and its dignity is stressed to such an extent that people can easily be led into the mistake of believing that, well, that's all that's needed, and that the rest of life is just sort of mopping up, just sort of a supplement, a little appendix to the liturgy, which is not true at all. Because the fact is that after the liturgy, life remains to be lived, the whole of it. Okay. In the East they have kind of a different conception of the liturgy than we do in the West. They tend to see it more as kind of entering into another dimension, entering into another world. And for them it needs less explanation, and it's more a question of mystery. Also, they would consider it much less in terms of efficacy, of performing some function, of fulfilling some purpose,


or accomplishing something, than in terms of just being, you know. It's its own justification. They've got a better grasp of mystery than we have, at least in the modern age. Number eight. In the earthly liturgy we take part in a foretaste of that heavenly liturgy which is celebrated in the holy city of Jerusalem, toward which we journey as pilgrims, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God. With all the warriors of the heavenly army we sing a hymn of glory to the Lord. And so on. So, it's a participation already in that liturgy of heaven, which is, remember, which is eternity. There's a dimension of eternity considered in a liturgical sense, in liturgical imagery, whatever is going on in heaven. So, in the liturgy we're supposed to participate in that in a way in which we don't participate in the rest of our life, at least externally, and yet in a way in which we do participate in the rest of our life, because it has to be our life in a way. Our life is supposed to be a kind of a practice for that eternal liturgy.


And so, Louvre can talk about the liturgy of the heart, you see, which is a monastic notion, but it's valid for everybody. The liturgy of the heart. Remember, he talks about the church of the heart. He talks about those three churches. The church of heaven and its heavenly liturgy, the external church, where we meet together in the community, and the church of the heart. And it's as if, the way he puts it, he gets it from the Syrian Book of Degrees, but it's as if you've got the church of earth and the church of heaven, and in between the two is the church of the heart. And in a sense that's true, because the church of earth, the meeting place, is an inanimate thing, and even the coming together is a symbolic thing, but there's a greater reality, a greater realization in the heart. Now, this is very tricky, very tricky, because as soon as you start saying the individual spiritual life, or the interior prayer, is more important than the prayer of the community, you're getting off the beam, right? But as soon as you say that the liturgy, the exterior worship, the worship of the community, in some sense,


is more important than the interior realization, you're getting off the beam again, aren't you? Because neither one is superior to the other. They form two halves of a whole, which is impossible to split. And we're always trying to say that A is better than B. Our brain wants to function that way. We've got to be able to line things up. Well, it's not true, it's one mystery. It's got its interior, its personal, its heart side, and it's got its exterior, its communal, its verbal side, liturgical side. And you can't say that one side is superior to the other, in the end, because they're both one thing. Under a certain aspect, each one is more important than the other. Can you say that the individual person is more important? Does the community exist for the purpose of the person, or does the person exist for the sake of the community? You can't say anything, because they're one reality. That's the mystery. The mystery doesn't permit you to make conclusions. Can you say that the internal, in its perfection,


contains already the external? If you're just talking about internal and external with an individual, you can. But when you're talking about the community, you can't, can you? Because then, if you say internal as a risk, you mean internal individual, and you get out of the community. So we run into trouble, everyone, when we try to do that. And yet, in a certain sense, this is true, say, for the individual person, the individual hermit, for instance, where, say, his spiritual life is almost entirely interiorized, at least his life of love and of service. Now, maybe he does his external prayers, of course he will, if he's a hermit, he'll spend a lot of time with that. But a lot of the other aspects of his Christian life are not lived externally, but they're only lived interiorly, but they already embrace and contain virtually the external. Just like St. John of Cross says that a perfect act of love is worth more than all of the works that anybody can do. You see? Whatever a perfect act of love may be, I don't know if I'll ever see one. But he's talking about an interior reality which contains,


or is just as good as, or already embraces all of the external. But as soon as you mix individual with community there, you tend to get into trouble. The external act, if accompanied by the interior, is then, I guess, more complete than just interior. Oh yes, sure, it's more complete. So, in a sense, it's preferable. So, like, a liturgy or something, the heart is accompanied by the heart. Oh yes, that's optimal. But the fact remains that you can't do the external thing all the time. Whereas, in a sense, you can do the internal thing all the time. Because you can maintain, in some way, continual prayer, even though you cannot continually maintain external liturgy. Or external prayer. Okay. The relation to the heavenly liturgy is very important. The liturgy of the heavenly delusion. And later on in the document,


Numbers, at Chapter 4, Numbers 83, I'll just give a little snippet or two, because we're using a lot of time on this. Jesus Christ, High Priest of the new and eternal covenant, taking Him in nature, introduced Him to this earthly exile, that hymn which is sung throughout all ages in the halls of heaven. He attaches to Himself the entire community of mankind and has them join Him in singing His divine song of praise. Now, this is directly on the divine office. Once again, we return to that fundamental character of the liturgy of the hours, that it's Christ's prayer. And He says, that hymn which is sung throughout all ages, so it's introducing that heavenly liturgy into the earthly situation, just as Jesus brings the divinity into the earthly context. So it is with the liturgy. For He continues His priestly work through His church. The church, by celebrating the Eucharist and by other means, especially the celebration of the divine office, is ceaselessly engaged in praising the Lord and interceding for the salvation of the entire world.


The divine office, in keeping with ancient Christian tradition, is so devised that the whole course of the day and night is made holy by the praise of God. Therefore, when this wonderful song of praise is correctly celebrated by priests and others deputed to it by the church, or by the faithful praying together with the priest in the good form, as we mentioned before, you find out that sometimes the psalm is the prayer of the individual, addressed to Christ. Sometimes it's the prayer of Christ and His body to the Father. And sometimes it's the prayer just of Christ, not of the body to the Father. That movement back and forth, that alternation, sometimes in the same song. Hence, all who take part in the divine office are not only performing a duty for the church, the divine office has kind of a dead institutional sound to it. Liturgy of the Hours is the expression that it's replaced with. Opus Dei, of course, is Saint Benedict's expression, which is beautiful because it means not only it's a work for God,


it's a work of God at the same time. It expresses this fact in a very implicit way, that it's Christ really that's praying, and the Holy Spirit that's praying in those who pray. They're also sharing in what is the greatest honor for Christ's bride, for by offering these praises to God they are standing before God's throne in the name of the church, their mother. Okay. One of the principal preoccupations was making the thing more realistic, that is in the renewal. For instance, since the purpose of the office is to sanctify the day, the traditional sequence of the hours is to be restored, so that as far as possible they may again become also in fact what they have been in name. The classical situation there was the situation of a priest who had to work all day, and then had to say his office also. So what he would do is, he wouldn't be able to say it through the day, and he'd wait until 11 o'clock at night, and then squeeze it in at the last hour, when he could hardly keep his eyes open, before midnight. The whole office, starting with matins,


and the hours of the day, and then finally vespers and conference, and pack the whole thing into one session of prayer, when it was meaningless to him, because he'd simply been so busy. So the church tries to get, to make the office less heavy in a sense, and to attach it to the right time, so that in some way it does punctuate the day, and structure the day. Rather than simply the sense of obligation, where you've got to do it, and it's more important just to get it done quantitatively, and fulfill the obligation, than it is to have a performance, its function, to have its meaning. How is it that Benedictines draw from the Lutherans? You mean in a lot of the... Usually it's because of the work that they're doing. For instance, if they've got a school, it's very hard for them to come together in the church, and say at 9 o'clock, and again at noon, and again at 3 o'clock, because they're going to be in classes,


or one thing or another, all over the place. So what they do is, they generally simplify it to a morning hour, an evening hour, and sometimes a midday hour, not always. Sometimes they'll just be the morning hour, and the evening hour. And vigils? If they have a school or something like that, usually not. And if they do vigils, when will they do them? They do them in the evening. And they don't call it vigils anymore, they call it... Well, the Benedictines should, really, but the regular Roman breviary calls it the office of readings. Did you notice that? Because the priests were never able, or never inclined, to use it really as a vigil hour, you see. I mean, they weren't going to get up during the night and do it. So they call it instead the office of readings, which means it's an office less of psalms, less of prayer, than it is of Lectio, of spiritual reading. Reading of the Word of God, but also some other readings. You'll notice that if you look at the breviary, the new one, that there are readings from the Fathers and so on. There always were, but it's supposed to be the Word of God


and then the Fathers and so on. By year model, they have vigils at six o'clock, and then they have the Lord's at seven thirty, and then Mass at noon, and then in the evenings, at eight or six? Seven thirty in the morning. In the evening they have at eleven, or at eight, or no, six. They must have vespers. Six vespers, and then at eight thirty, a compliment. Well, that's pretty good, you see, because they're freer, they don't have a school. They have work during the day and they have guests during the day, and so probably, in an abbey like that, you'll find that some of the monks will not be in choir because they'll be off, but somebody will be there joining them. But in the old days, here also, we went to church, we got together in church for every hour, for every little hour, including prime. So that means that you went to church eight times a day. Well, there are several difficulties with that.


Some are just the practical problems of work and so on, but also the fact that when you do that, your life becomes, I don't know, kind of a parade back and forth into church, and you go in and you're there for fifteen minutes and you come back out, and you don't really have time for significant prayer during that time. Your mind doesn't have a chance to quiet itself and to really change what you're thinking about and so on. And then you run back and start doing something again. The prayer just doesn't have enough chance to become significant. So it's not only a question of facilitating the work you have to do during the day, it's a question of facilitating the prayer. If you don't pray for twenty minutes or so, probably, it's not going to be worth much. Just to take a couple of minutes, at least for that kind of prayer, is not very helpful. It's another thing for the individual where he uses ejaculatory prayer or some brief method of prayer, you know, just for a minute. That can be very effective, but not on a community level. In some way, it might be a danger of almost emphasizing the difference between the sacred and the profane


if you're running back and forth to two different things and you do that a lot. That's right. That's right, too. And it becomes, I don't know, it's where there's a ritualizing, an insistence on the letter, which isn't doing its work anymore. And the spirit isn't able to work its way through. So the simplification really has been an advantage there. But here, we do it in the cells. That's right. But for St. Anthony, he was told to make work in prayer so he could stand up. Well, St. Anthony was an anchorite at that time. He was all alone, so it wasn't a question of going to church. And the early hermits in Egypt there, the way Cassian writes about them, they'd spend the week in their cells and then on Saturday and Sunday they'd go for the common liturgy. Even though they'd probably do the liturgy in their cells all at the same time in the signal man, the bell boy, whatever it was. So it's a different situation. And then he says, what does he say? He says, but the Egyptians, if they don't have the little hours, they just pray all the time. Remember? Because he says


that the little hours are kind of a concession to the weakness of, who is it, the Palestinians and we poor Europeans. And that the Egyptians, they pray all the time. He makes the Egyptians to be angels all the time. So it's not always a concession to weakness or not always a relaxation, you see, to have less times of common prayer. As the literalist will tend to think so, or the person who's stuck on the exterior. It's the quality of the prayer that matters. But of course the reduction of the office in quantity can also be a relaxation, very easily. Yes. Okay. I want to... We talked about that question of what does it mean to sanctify the day. Maybe we covered that pretty well. The whole business of the cosmic symbolism of time is important, of the sun and the earth and the darkness and the light. And really it's a very simple symbolism, isn't it? After you get finished with the detailed scriptural symbolisms that they talk about for the third hour


and the sixth hour and the ninth hour and so on, which are not too satisfying in general, you've got this basic thing of light and of darkness, of day and of night, of sun and of earth. Right? A kind of a dualistic scheme which is the pattern of our life and which in some way represents God and the creature. Right? The light begins to represent the spiritual, the spiritual in the sense of the divine. And the dark represents the created. The light also represents holiness, goodness, grace. The dark represents evil and sin and also suffering and death, finally. So this dualistic symbolism is built into our existence, irresistibly, even though we can forget about it when we have artificial lights and so on, especially in the city. But it's like a lesson that's being preached to us all the time, like that Psalm 18, remember? Day to day, it's talking, it's talking, it's talking, it's saying something, and night to night is uttering wisdom. But we grow very callous to it. So the symbolism of it, that cosmic symbolism


is very important and it's basically, it's a religious symbolism too, isn't it? And brought into a Christian context, into a Jewish Christian context, what happens? It gets united with history at that point, right? And so the symbolism of light becomes, first of all, the symbolism of Christ, who is the light. He says, I'm the light of the world. And the sun symbol is valid for Christ. It's the prime symbol for Christ, even though there was lots of sun worship, you know, before Christ. It's not sun worship, in this case, it's simply a symbol. But also, it comes into history. The cosmic and the historical are joined. This happens all the time in Christianity. The cosmic and the historical are joined, they become one, so that the sun and the light and the dawn now represents the eschatological, you see? And you've got the contrast of the present situation, which is the situation of night or of twilight, or of the expectation of the dawn, and the coming of the sun, the coming of the light, the dawn, which is the coming of Christ, you see,


which is the resurrection which has already happened, but the second coming which is to come, and the final resurrection. So, they beautifully work together. And it's Jesus, once again, you get this this intersection which is the cross and which is Christ. And here is the intersection between the cosmic and the historical. The words spoken in time become incarnate, and which becomes the seed of the whole development of history after that. You see, the whole dynamism of evolution and everything else depends on this coming of Christ in the time. The intersection of the cosmic and the historical, where the cosmic now is polarized, the cosmic symbol is polarized by Christ, so that everything expresses him now, you see. And so Jesus can talk about looking forward to the coming of the bridegroom, staying awake, you know, so you could, and having oil in your lamps and everything, for when the bridegroom comes. The whole thing is polarized around the person of Christ. You see how it becomes transformed? When he comes into the world, he changes everything, and everything after he comes into the world


somehow speaks his name, you see. It's polarized around that person who is Christ. The cosmic, the historical, and finally the personal all intersect at that point. So the significance of vigils, for instance, for the monks, they're looking forward to this coming of the light which is Christ, and which is already inside of them. That's the other dimension, you see. It's already inside of them. And here you get that fluctuation back and forth between Christ praying and our praying to Christ and waiting for Christ. That's the situation of our life, that paradox of light and darkness at once, of being separated from God, of being outside Christ and also having Christ inside us and God inside us. So it's, as it were, God waiting for God and God praying to God in the whole thing, which means what? It means that you're brought inside of the holy trinity, which means that not only the individual is brought inside of the holy trinity and the church is brought inside of the holy trinity, but the whole of the universe is brought inside of the holy trinity by this prayer, you see, by this expectation,


by God expecting God. Because God loving God, God praising God, God expecting God is the life of the trinity, isn't it? So the moon symbolizes the church, so it's the light at night. The moon has many is a fascinating symbol of the moon because it's light and darkness at once. The moon is an image which, as it were, has no reality in itself. Everything is reflected and the church is, the moon is a beautiful symbol for the church in that it has no light in itself, completely dark in itself. It's like humanity or the creation, as it were, before the dawn but reflecting already the light of the sun which is to come over the horizon later on in the dawn. Okay? Or the morning star or whatever, that's another case of the same thing. And the moon is also like a it's a kind of a contemplation which reflects somehow the the true light


but it's not yet the true light. There are many many meanings for the moon but the sun is Christ. Okay, one other thing, I wanted to get a little bit into Luke's chapter 5 here but maybe I'll have to leave it mostly to you to read on your own. The chapter is entitled The Psalm as Response. It starts on page 15 and goes up to 59. And I'll just give you a very run through it and give you a quick outline of it. First he's talking about the problem of the psalms. We talked about that before. There wasn't any problem with the psalms before because people were sort of unconscious of their real content because they were praying in a language which was as he says a dead language. A dead language is not an insult it simply means that it's not being used by a living people. It's not the language spoken by by anybody in normal life today. An unfamiliar language so it just didn't it just didn't cut in.


It wasn't incisive the way it is when you translate it into English. The scripture in general but especially the psalms. And so it had a kind of a ritualized drone to it. If you've heard people chanting in Sanskrit or in Japanese or something like that if they don't know the meaning it's like that for them. It's kind of a it's kind of a a drone which can put you into a a state of of quiet even of a prayer of quiet perhaps but still the word of God is not able to perform its function in that way. But then as soon as it comes into English we're confronted we're confronted with all these problems. The unfamiliarity of the terms and of the images and everything it's just a different kind of life that's being talked about and all these these enemy kings with their weird names and the bulls and the lions and all of the stuff in there you know. And it's just another world and it tends to overwhelm you. And for some people now people who are poetically sensitive it can be probably very interesting at least for a while until it wears off. For the normal person


however it strikes him just as an unbelievable universe that he's brought into. And also an unattractive universe in many ways not just a poetic fairyland but where there's a lot of malice and a lot of violence and a lot of nasty emotions being expressed. A lot of crudity. That's at first. Yeah. That's at first. And then he discovers that it's a lot different than the Psalms. That's right. That's what Luke says. That the negativity in the Psalms is designed in some way to be the conductor for our own negativity and to bring it into our consciousness and then gradually that gets transformed. And as we enter more deeply into the Psalm and get behind the letter beneath the letter into what he calls the pneuma of the Psalm or the spirit of the Psalm or the heart of the Psalm the core of it the divine core of it then at the same time our feelings are being transformed. And so we'll look at the whole thing in a different way. We'll look at the Psalm in a different way but also our reactions to life and our own emotions will have been transformed


during that time. And that's got to be verified by each one in his own life. That's one way of dealing theoretically dealing with the negativity in the Psalms by which we mean the cursing and the violence and even the violence that seems to be in the name of God or whatever. Asking God for vengeance on your enemies and all kinds of stuff. We talked about that before in the chapter there's no point in trying to cope with the whole problem of the negativity of the Psalms. And that's on top of this simple unfamiliarity the alien cultural mediocrity out of which they come which they carry with them. So he talks about that crisis first. And then he talks about the Psalms as being a word of poetry. And he's pretty deep on that. So it's more than the rational word which we're usually inclined to deal with Usually we don't treat words with all of their resonances


even in common language so much the more in scientific language. And we're all a little intimidated by the scientific thing. I remember reading from Roszak about the notion of single vision. We tend to look at things in a single and very restricted way as if positive physical science had the last word about everything and imposed a kind of uniform monolithic vision on everything. So it couldn't be anything but just that but not the only thing. What do you call that? That attitude. The nothing but idea. Prejudice? Hmm? You're talking about prejudice? Well, no, it's a kind of prejudice, yeah, but not what we know. The idea that this is this and nothing but this. Absolutism? Yeah, it's a kind of absolutism. It's a restricting absolutism where a stone is atoms and molecules nothing but that. Okay, once science identifies it as being traceable to that, it's nothing but that. It's not an object of wonder and of beauty anymore. No, it's only atoms and molecules. So forget the... That sort of thing. And we have to learn


to let the word expand. Now, this is true of poetry. And so he's talking about the whole man is somehow being expressible in poetry. And so he stresses that it's a word of man and that somehow the whole of the man gets into it. And then he talks about it as a word of God. I'm skipping through this and not being prepared to look now. He talks about this business of it being a kind of a therapy of bringing out the negativity in ourselves making us face our resentment and our cruelty and our insensitivity and all of that. Now I don't know how far I can go along with that because I don't know how far it's verified in my own experience. As a matter of fact it may be difficult for the person to verify this in his experience. Why? Because at any particular moment precisely what we're talking about is an unconscious process occurring in him. And if it's an unconscious process you're not going to be able to put your finger on it. So you'd have to really study this a bit in order to verify it. But there is


this progression certainly from being hung up on the letter of the word to beginning to sense and to scent the interior pneuma as he calls it that is the heart of the word the sweet core of the word the God in the word in some way. And then being able sort of to make allowances for the letter for what's on the exterior in favor of that thing that's inside which in a sense is everything which contains everything which is the end already on the way. The Psalms sum up the whole Bible in the guise of poetry and prayer. Prior Philemon whose Logos Asceticos has been preserved in the Philokalia was asked why he had so much relished the book of Psalms more than any other part of Scripture. He replied I assure you that God has instilled the power of the Psalms in my poor heart as happened with the prophet David the power of the Psalms.


Without their sweetness I could not any longer live nor yet without the immensity of meditation they enshrine for the Psalms contain all of Holy Writ. So the Psalms contain all of Holy Scripture but the thing that impresses me there is just the feeling that he has for the Psalms. And this is you find this in a lot of monks. I've been sort of on the lookout for expressions of it here and there from the tradition because you realize what a part the Psalms play in the life of monks throughout Christian tradition. Hours and hours of every day and when you think of Archimandrite's fathers saying a whole psalter every day and often two psalters that's a psalter will take you two and a half to three hours okay and if they say it with devotion and with thoughtfulness it will take three hours and so that's maybe six hours during the day spent with the Psalms and we have to justify that to ourselves we have to find a rationale for that just as for everything else that the monks do and it's that value that meaning that's in the Psalms the fact that God


is in them. Then he talks about the interaction of the Psalms with the heart and that's where he puts the center of the whole thing because this whole book is based on the interaction of the word with the heart and here he's talking about the word of God coming to the heart we listen to the word we read the word and something happens in the heart the word and the spirit of God react in the heart and then the heart responds and that response is prayer but this response is in the very words which God gives us so that the penumbra the spirit of God in some way mixes with our own spirit and this comes forth in the Psalms The Psalm is word of God and word of man together the superabundance of the word and of the heart place of love where the spirit of God and the spirit of man come closest together the point of contact between the two is the interior prayer the mutual dialogue between God and man the silent liturgy celebrated without pause in every human heart the standard


and principle formulation of this interior liturgy we find in the Psalms okay, then he talks about the transformation of the Psalms when Jesus comes along up to Jesus they had been only a summation a summary of the Old Testament in Jesus they are turned from water into wine pass over from the letter to the spirit since him they celebrate also the good news gospel from gospel to apocalypse the risen Lord is forever the one and only psalmist ceaselessly living and praying abode before the face of his Son and his Father here below in every liturgy celebrated by his church yeah, it does sound very theoretical and maybe very idealistic


and it takes a long time and it's difficult I think to get into anything like a frequent or continual experience of that reality but it does come intermittently and as one goes on in the Gnostic life it becomes more and more frequent I think that one sort of I don't know is able to move through and at least have some sense of that interior dimension of the Psalms you've got to believe in it first because ordinarily what we don't believe in doesn't happen you need a very big kind of allow the Psalms to be very big allow the Word of God to be very big leave it a big a big space and let it be filled in later by God by experience you need a lot of faith and a lot of expectancy in order for the thing to happen and then it's always going to be an intermittent thing you'll have a glimpse of the light that's in the heart of the Psalms and then maybe nothing for a while maybe a lot of darkness and then another glimpse but the fact is


that those glimpses indicate what's continual and what's real beneath it's always there we only get glimpses but it's always there he talks a lot about the pneuma of God the spirit of God the Holy Spirit and the pneuma of man and it's very mysterious we're used to talking about the Holy Spirit but what is the spirit of man you know that's something you puzzle about and you think about what is the spirit of man very much like the heart of man it's in the heart of man it's different from the mind it's not the same thing in some way it's the movement of man the movement of his heart the interior movement is the spirit the pneuma of man there's something about the ruach in the Old Testament man has a ruach too you know, a spirit and it's connected with the breath just as our prayer is connected with the breath you know, psalmody is connected with the breath that was one of the meanings for that same word in the Old Testament both the Hebrew word


ruach and the Greek pneuma what is the spirit of man it's just as mysterious as the spirit of God in some way often with monastic writers it's almost identical with the heart when he talks about the pneuma of the psalm or the pneuma of man he's talking about the core, the center in some way and yet it's the core as movement as dynamism as prayer not as a static something or not as an organ as the heart and not as an understanding mind something because the word spirit has a lot of different meanings depending on who you read especially in modern times the one pneuma never goes without the other the pneuma of man calls up the pneuma of God man's sinfulness is there to be cleansed by the spirit of God and the human pneuma of the poet to be subsumed into the pneuma of God so in the psalm


a continuing dialogue is in progress a dialogue from spirit to spirit spirit with a small s to spirit with a large s the Holy Spirit and there is growing a fruitful tension in which time and again a revelation is accomplished that dialogue takes place in the praying heart which as it listens yields to the tension okay that's enough next time we can go on with book four which gets into all kinds of things about the monastic observance in the monasteries of Egypt and we won't spend a whole lot of time on that