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Monastic Spirituality Set 4 of 12

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And to finish, if possible, today, that little first chapter of Roberts, the introductory chapter. First, let's review just the principle points that we went over last time. Roberts begins by talking about two elements, he talks about two phases first, entrance into the monastery and then the vows and the relation between the two. So when you come in as a postulant and then when you make your profession, and there's already a lot signified in that first coming into the monastery, as it was much more in the ancient days when there was already a kind of finality about that, then he talks about two elements in profession in the monastic commitment, one being the interior one, the


indispensable one, the spiritual one, the really important one, and the other being the exterior one. Now note there could be a confusion there because first of all he talks about an exterior part of the profession which is simply taking on the monastic habit, putting on his clothing, but that's not the second element that he's talking about, that's an expression of the interior element. The external element he's talking about, the second one, is the juridical element. When the profession comes to be like a contract or like a legal act that's made that binds you into a particular structure, and he wants to distinguish that clearly from the interior element, which is the movement of the heart, or the will, the real desire to commit yourself to God, to relate yourself to Christ. Okay, we'll be seeing those two elements and how they relate rather continually, I think.


Then we talked about this business of clothing and the symbolism of clothing, which turns out to be pretty interesting. Then we talked about the biblical foundations of the monastic profession, which Roberts doesn't talk much about here, but which Pfeiffer goes into at some length. The first one we mentioned was the covenant, because remember, this profession, after all, these vows are a relationship, not just something you do yourself. But always, if you want to get to the bottom of these things, they have to be conceived in terms of relationship, which ultimately, of course, leads us back to the principal mysteries of our faith, the Incarnation and ultimately the Trinity. And the covenants that are implicit in those two mysteries of our faith. Christianity, just like Judaism, is made of covenants. And then the covenant between God and his people in the Old Testament. And then somehow each of us, and all of us together, relive that covenant in the New


Testament. And Jesus talked about the New Testament, the new covenant being made in his blood. Covenant and testament have slightly different meanings. We get to look them up sometime. Covenant means more a pact, an agreement between two people that binds them together. Whereas testament usually means a will, doesn't it? Testament is something that you leave. It's a gift. It's a legacy. Sometimes the two words are confused when we talk about the new and the old covenant and testament. Because those words become very broad. And the second biblical foundation that we wanted to point out was the analogy with marriage, which is already used for the covenant of Yahweh and his people in the Old Testament. So these two are very much bound together. The idea that God is the bridegroom and that Israel is the bride. And if you read the spiritual theology, the mystical theology of our Christian tradition, you find that that's what you find.


Starting with Origen and Gregory of Nyssa and the others right up to John of the Cross. And then finally, the significance of baptism. Now here we're talking about the New Testament and the relationship of monastic profession with baptism. Pfeiffer goes into that in some length. Roberts hardly mentions it at all here. But it's important. If any of you listen to those tapes by Gabriel Winkler, you'll see how important it was for the Syrian monks. I've only listened to the first tape. The idea that monasticism or that ascetical movement out into the desert and out into these various austerities that they undertook, which is considered as being a consequence of baptism and receiving of life and receiving of the Holy Spirit in baptism. They didn't theorize about it a whole lot. But later on you get to theorizing, where you talk about the monastic profession as a second baptism.


And now we're more likely to talk about it not as a second baptism, but as a commitment to live your baptism in a fuller and more deliberate way. That second baptism idea seems to have been tied up with martyrdom, according to Pfeiffer. Pfeiffer talks about that between pages 107 and 191. He says that, you see, martyrdom was considered a second baptism which wiped you completely free of sin, for instance. All of the sins that you had committed since baptism. And when martyrdom was no longer there, then monasticism and monastic profession sort of took over that role. And there was the notion sometimes that when you entered a monastic community, if you took up the monastic life, all of your sins were forgiven. As soon as you made the profession, which means practically as soon as you put the hand on it. By that commitment of your life, you wiped out your sins, which made it equivalent in that way to baptism. It was very confusing if you begin to consider it a second baptism, because then you don't


know how many sacraments you have and so on. And of course, it is the doctrine of the church that monastic profession is not a sacrament. You can call it a sacramental if you like, but we went into that last time. Is the change of name tied up with that? How do you mean? With the idea of second baptism. I see what you mean. I'm sure it is psychologically, but I don't know how it is historically. In fact, you begin really to get into trouble there, don't you? Because what you tend to do is to abandon your baptismal name in favor of a new one, as if you're going beyond your first baptism or in some way doing something better. It's a very questionable thing, taking up a new name at that point. It seems that the significance of baptism has been forgotten or obliterated at that point, and then you're building something on top of it, which is to take its place, really. But I'm not saying that we shouldn't take a new name.


The fact is we've been baptized as children, so we don't have that appreciation of a new name. It's the baptized person. So, in order to signify our conversion, we feel we have to take a new name on entering monastic life. A person who has been baptized as an adult probably would not feel that way, if he received a new name then, because there still is conversion. So it's partly infant baptism, I think, that's connected with that. I don't think the second baptism thing went so far as to justify that kind of thing, because if it had... I think the second baptism thing was something hovering in the background that sometimes monastic writers would write about, like St. Jerome is writing about it. But he knows very well, when he writes about it, that it's not a second baptism. And if it went so far as to influence, to cause that taking of a new name, I think there would have been a lot of trouble. In other words, there would have been a discord, and the church would have had to pronounce


itself, and so on. I would guess. Okay. We're down on the bottom of page 5 here in Roberts, and he begins to talk about the origin of the oral promise. It surprises us that, in the beginning, all that you had was that change of clothing. Well, there too, you see, you've already got a kind of a duplicate of baptism, right? If in baptism you take a new name, you also took new clothing, at least for a week. White clothing, and then you're baptized. So this, once again, is a kind of duplication. There weren't many, very many ways of symbolically expressing an internal reality like that. It's a repetition. But they had a real sense of symbolism. And later on, you get other things replacing this simple sense of symbolism, as we'll see. With the passage of time, there was an oral promise of fidelity, as if it weren't clearly


understood from what the person was doing symbolically, that change of clothing, and so on. It reminds us of, you know, think of the baptism of Jesus. If Jesus would have to make some kind of a statement, an oral statement, or if the symbol of baptism was sufficient of what he wanted to say. When we get baptized, we make a confession of faith. Finally, in the 6th century, St. Benedict prescribed a written document, signed by the missionary, professed, and placed on the altar. So this gets, the juridical element is clearly entering in there. Where does the word juridical come from, that we use so much? It comes from ius, the Latin word for law, or right, which really becomes the word mostly for law, ius, the whole institution, the whole structure, the legal structure. This would serve as a witness of his profession and testify against him. If in the future he were unfaithful to his promise. Let's read that portion of the Rule of St. Benedict.


It's in chapter 58. We'll be referring to that a lot. It's not right at the beginning, this part. That him was to be received, make before all in the oratory, as in the church, a promise of stability, conversion of life, and obedience in the presence of God and of the saints, so that if he should ever act otherwise, he may know that he will be condemned by him whom he mocked. It's pretty threatening. Let him draw up this promise in writing, in the name of the saints whose relics are in the altar, and of the avatar present. And let him write it with his own hand. And if he knows not how, let another write it at his request. And let the novice put his mark to it, and place it with his own hand upon the altar. So forthwith, and then he has to give over his prophecy, forthwith therefore in the oratory, let him be stripped of his own garments wherewith he is clad, and be clothed in those of the


monastery. And let the garments that are taken from him be laid by and kept in the wardrobe, so that if ever by the persuasion of the devil he consent, which God forbid, to leave the monastery, he may be stripped of the monastic habit and cast forth. But the form of his profession which the abbot took from the altar shall not be given back to him, but be kept in the monastery. So you can see there's a note of constraint and a note of fear creeping in there very strongly, this note of obligation, and that this thing is going to be there, that document is going to be there. And so God will take notice of that. The idea that you're making kind of an agreement with God and you better not break it, it's a permanent one. It doesn't seem to have been quite as heavy in the earliest history of monasticism as it becomes that. In these prescriptions we can see a juridic element being introduced into the monastic


profession, the purpose of which was to guarantee the primary element of total conversion. That's a tricky thing, because you'd say, well it would be much better not to have that juridical element in a sense. See how it's introducing a kind of sense of mistrust, a sense of suspicion to this beautiful spontaneous habit. But then we know our human nature, we know that life is wrong. This is business about fear and spontaneity, or fear and enthusiasm, fear and love as motivation in Christian life. Do you ever get beyond the point where you need that fence sort of, that wall, that last boundary of fear, and therefore of this kind of love, this kind of juridicism? Peter? Yeah, that seems to be tied up with the idea of monasticism as a lifelong commitment. Do you know of anything in the religious or monasticism which went otherwise, or contrary?


Well, it was not a lifelong commitment. No, I don't. It's an interesting question at this point. Remember in contrast, Ursula von der Leyen was saying, it's never wrong, even the one who becomes a monk, not just a novice. You can remain a novice all your life, but you can be a monk. That is what he said. You see, there's a striking difference there, and we have to ask ourselves why. And when you ask yourself why, you can come up with two answers. One is that Christianity is meaner, and more juridical, and more romanized than anything else that ever happened. It's become a prison. Set that answer aside. What's the other answer, though? A personal Christ relationship. And also, now keep on with Christ, because there's more to it about Christ. There's a relationship with Christ, that's it, and I see marriages involved in this too,


because when you get married, you make a unique, that kind of relationship too, which has a lifelong commitment. That's a unique thing, a commitment to a total person. But look at the Incarnation, and the fact that God did something irrevocably. In other words, it's like life goes on. All over the world, life goes on. Monastic life goes on. People become monks, some leave the monastery, and so on. And then something happens. God does something. Bang. Right in the middle of history. Right in the middle of the world. Nothing's the same after that. And so everything else becomes a response to that thing that God has done. That act that God has made. That irrevocable act that God has made when God became man. And God gave himself to us, in what is once again similar to a marriage relationship. Okay? So man's response, then, is a response. Man's life becomes a response to that. So what man does, and particularly in the monastic life, takes on a uniqueness, therefore, which is connected with the Incarnation, and with the paschal mystery, also the death and resurrection of Jesus. The fact that Jesus is God's gift, God's act, which has been done.


Once and for all. There's that word, haphaz, in the letter of the Hebrews. Once and for all. It's done. And so, man is sort of invited to do the same thing. He's invited to do the same thing. Jesus says, come follow me. He's invited to do the same thing. And when he says, come follow me, and he says it to Peter, it's a question of taking up the cross. It's a question of going, looking as far as his death. He's got to be ready to buy the whole thing out there. It's a total gift, which is asked for. And all these things that Jesus says in the gospel, if anybody wants to be my disciple, he doesn't even hate his own life, you know. It's absolute. There's an absoluteness that comes in there that really doesn't exist in the same way up until now. It's as if man has been doing things, and, well, it can be this or that way with man, but then God does something. It's no longer that way. God has stepped in, and the absolute has come into the relative. You can put it that way to do it now. Really crude. The absolute has come into that which was relative. Even though man's monastic life is a quest for the absolute,


it didn't have that quality about it in that way, the perpetuity and so on. Not necessarily. I think most of the time it did. We're only talking about one tradition. We're talking about the Buddhist tradition. I'm sure it must have been different in other traditions. But this fact of permanency, of irrevocability in Christian monasticism and religious life is related to that. It's a kind of total gift in a relationship, okay? You're not just trying for enlightenment. You're not just trying to get to a state of realization. This is a total gift of yourself in a relationship, and that's why the irrevocability of it. For me, it all seems to center around that point. You can see the parallel there in marriage, because today this law permitted divorce, and Christ comes in and says, no, that's not the way it was in the beginning, so I'm going to kind of reinstitute this absolute state of marriage. Yeah, it's true. Jesus does that with marriage. They permitted divorce, but I think not a remarriage.


Maybe some of the rabbis sort of found loopholes and so on and did permit it, but the Jewish law shouldn't have permitted remarriage. It would be just a question of setting your wife aside or something like that. But Jesus says, no, not that one. He reestablishes that uniqueness of relationship in marriage, which is what? An image of the uniqueness of the relationship between God and man, which is a commitment of a whole life, so you don't fool around. It's yes or no. So when we talk about temporary monasticism, we've got to keep this in the back of our minds. It's an exciting thought, temporary monasticism, the idea of living in a monastic world for a few years and getting a certain amount of what we call depth or purity of heart or whatever, and then going back to the world. Okay, but when you talk about that and then you talk about this total commitment, you realize you're sort of in two different worlds in a way, because you can't make a total commitment for a few years. Right? So there is something there that we easily lose sight of,


and you don't want to press it too much because it's not that the only person who has any relationship with God or with Christ is the one who makes that particular kind of total commitment. That's not true, is it? Because all Christians have a relationship with Christ, and many have a deeply spiritual life, also some in the Mary garden. It's not so rare as you might think. But yet there is this thing. Have fun. I was going off to the side a little bit, but this thing of temporary monasticism, in the world today it seems that even Christians need a space where they can go and plug into and just kind of leave the world behind in all its attractions. Sure. That's something else really. It's a kind of a retreat. And I believe in a temporary exposure to monasticism, a temporary experience of monasticism. I don't mean to say that monasticism per se has to be permanent, but you do have to clearly distinguish these two tracks


that you've got in monasticism. That at a certain point a person feels called to this absolute commitment of his life, and then temporary monasticism, he doesn't want it. He doesn't want it. He's crossed over a threshold, he's crossed over a line, a boundary line, you see, and so temporary monasticism for him is not sufficient, because that totality thing is coming in. And which is related to the Christ event that we're talking about. He's realized this thing that's in Christ, what God is saying, what God is doing in Christ. For example, if he's on a journey, say, monasticism will help him to lead a deeper life in the journey. Sure. He may never make it later on. It could be very beneficial, more than beneficial. Sure. Not that he's given himself already to Christ, but these are means to an end. That's right. And it can turn out that the person is mistaken


about being called to union with God in that particular way, in a monastic path. He can learn that after 10 years, you know, something like that. But he's going to seek his totality in another way. But the monk sees, this is the way in which God wants my total gift of self to him. And if he's going to be total, then it has to be permanent, you see. How does this relate to Merton in that handout that Victor had given us, to talk about the possibility of simple profession over a lifetime? Yeah, I don't think I've read that yet. He said something like he'd like to see simple profession extended 10, 15, 20 years, and in some cases a lifetime. It seems as though it's kind of, until that call is clearly recognized. Yeah, when that call is recognized, then that's something else. It may be a long time. Also, I think you've got people in the monastery who simply don't feel that call. And that's all right. They can live in the monastery. But that's a different thing from the call.


They can live side by side. One can be just as good as the other in an external sense, for all that you can see. But there's a difference. What about marriage in German? Do you know anything about marriage in German? Like how they bind to them? No, no. One thing I'd like to get some clarification on is when you enter the monastery, you're supposed to disappear to a certain extent. In marriage, it's the same thing. You get placed into two people that are married and remain individuals. So it's true. The man doesn't retain their identity. Whereas the monk, in his marriage contract, he diminishes and God decreases. So there's a different kind of relationship there, isn't there? Yeah, there is. And that's very complex, what you're pointing to there, and very deep.


Because in one case, you've got two beings who, let's say they're the same size, who are relating one to the other by this bond. And therefore, one does not vanish into the other. And yet there becomes a kind of giving way to the other, which is analogous also here. In love, wherever there's love, there's a kind of giving way before the other, so that one almost moves into the other. But that's only an image of the other thing, in which we really are supposed to disappear into God and then rediscover ourselves. This happens to a certain extent, I think, in married love. Very probably. But the person, there's a giving of oneself, a kind of kenosis, a kind of empty, a kind of trust in which one abandons oneself to the other person. And in a sense, disappears and is reborn through the acceptance and the love of the other person. But with God, this thing really happens to the fullest extent. So they're quite different in that way, ultimately.


Because the one is only the image of the other, and a kind of unsatisfactory image. Because the ultimate way in which that has to happen, even for married people, is still with God. It's still with God, because that's where eternal life comes from. That's where the ultimate self comes from. But the idea of disappearing... I suppose we want to talk about the ego. Whatever we mean by that. The ego has to vanish. And here we are asked to move into a world, the world of God, the self, as it were, which God is extending to us, in which that ego can vanish, in which it can disappear. Which you can't do nearly to the same extent with another human being.


And right there... I don't have much more that I can say about that right now. Unless you have another question that would help to lead it on. Well, the only thing I can think of is the physical relationship between marriage and marriage. It's a very tangible relationship. Yes, yes. It's something that's essential and emotional and so on and so forth. And in this relationship, it seems that we have to be good at standing up. Our relationship with God has to be good in many ways. We have to have a personal relationship with God. Okay. It is tangible in certain ways,


but with very great differences from the marriage relationship, I think. The two ways that I think of immediately are the sacramental way and simply the way of the renunciation to the monastic life. And then the third way is the community. Because your community, for brothers, is a sacrament of God. And your relationship with your brothers, that koinonia, that communion, is a sacrament of your relationship, your communion with God, of your marriage with God, in a sense. And there's the Eucharist which relates to this. And the Eucharist is the symbol, the concrete, tangible symbol of that, of that union with God. And in some way, your Eucharistic communion is analogous to the marriage act between man and wife, in some way. Okay. But these things are quite difficult. And then the other thing is the kind of inverse way in which the apophatic way, that sort of negative way, call it that, in which the monastic life resembles the married life.


In that, in married life you have sort of a positive regard and enjoyment of and mutual participation in the physical. What happens in monastic life? It's as if it was turned upside down. Right? That is, the visible manifestation, the concrete manifestation of the physical and of a lot of aspects of humanity in monastic life becomes one of renunciation rather than of mutual enjoyment. So, that's kind of crude, but those are a couple of the levels. That's something you really have to think about in order to see those things. Someone put that quote up on the wall of St. John of the Cross, faith in the closer you come to God, you know, the less understanding you have. Yes. Less tangible. Now, if you read St. John of the Cross, he's going to tell you that don't expect to find a concrete analogy to married life.


I'm sort of paraphrasing what St. John of the Cross would answer to that question. Don't expect to find a concrete, tangible analogy to the married life and relationship in monastic life, because the meaning of the monastic life is precisely to go beyond that, beyond the senses into the spiritual. See, that's one point of view. And that's the other dimension that I didn't mention before. There's an analogy, but then you've got this, and this is related to the renunciation thing I was talking about, there's a going beyond, in which you do have to go beyond the physical. It's a movement from the physical level into the spiritual level, even though there still are sacramental manifestations and reflections of this union with the Lord, and of this life, this love relationship with him, that are tangible in the monastic life.


And it depends on what level of monastic life we're talking about. If you're talking about the Desert Fathers, they're almost entirely on that level of renunciation and that level of moving beyond the sensual and the physical into the spiritual. When you take a cenobitical community, take an average, a good Benedictine community, you have a sacramental image there, as you do in the Church, of that love of man and God, as expressed in the warmth and the communion of the community itself, and just of the goodness and the richness of the human life there. But you take those Desert Hermits, that's another ballgame there. And John of the Cross is the hardest, most absolute spokesman for that dimension, that strictly vertical thing, where the sacramental almost disappears. So it's not that monasticism is all in one line here. You go all the way between a very sacramental monasticism,


a cenobitical Benedictine monasticism, which is pretty much planted in the world, too, planted in concrete realities, out to a very refined and spiritualized and very solitary and interiorized kind of Hermit life. And Carthusian life, once again, in our time, is in that place, at that end. So, you know, our long reclusive life tends to be that way. I think that probably those Easterners are quite different and have different psychological needs than we do, in that I wonder to what extent they really have relationships among themselves,


relationships of friendship and so on in the monastery. I'll bet there's not a whole lot of that, and I'll bet they don't think about it either, nor talk about it. Probably the primary relationship is with the guru, and everything else is sort of incidental. They're in another state of civilization. When we talked with him, he was asked about the relationship between the young monk and his teacher. Yes. And it seemed like it just lasted for a few years, and then the young monk just kind of went on his own. You know, he had to learn what to do. Oh, I see. The first five years there, like you were saying. Yeah. And that's all. OK, we've got a little aside from our matter here, so we better get back.


The promise. The juridical element. Nevertheless, the oral promise and written document show a gradual institutionalization, that nasty word, of the Christian's response to the monastic calling. In the course of centuries, this institutionalization increased in the act of profession, so more and more the legal aspect of a contract between monk and community. That can get to the extent where God is almost, you know, doesn't have to be there. Profession became the means by which the church assures the monk's fidelity to the new life he has freely chosen under the inspiration of grace. What does this mean? It means practically that the monk gets built into the canon law. The monk gets built into the structure of the church. Now, at first this wasn't true. The monk was sort of the person who moved out of the institutional church into the desert. But now he gets built into it, and he gets given his compartment and so on, and he's in the law book, and he's got everything he needs. Categories and so on.


At the same time, scholastic theology and the new forms of religious life begin to obscure the more spiritual monastic meaning of profession. What they do is they tend to split it up into different commitments. In other words, instead of seeing the unity of monastic profession, they tend to talk about it in terms of poverty, chastity, and obedience, or these three dimensions. That's useful, but you lose the totality of the concept. We almost always see this, in the beginning of something it's seen globally, synthetically, and in a more contemplative way, all in one, and in a participatory way. And then later people stand back from it, objectify it, analyze it, and thereby lose the sense of the whole. Think of that notion of the heart, which we find in early monastic tradition. When it disappears, you start talking about the intellect and the memory and the will. Think of the notion of compunction, which tends similarly to disappear, and then you analyze penitence into its various elements. And so on.


And here also, the monastic profession. I've got a couple of samples of those. For instance, if you want to find the scholastic treatment, the best exponent of that, of course, is St. Thomas, in the Summa Theologica. And the questions... This is in the second volume of these three volumes of the English translation. It's in the second part of the second part. Secunda Secundae, as they call it. St. Thomas talks about vows in questions 88, question 88, and then he talks about the religious life in questions 179 through 189. And then, in question 186, we can take an example, just to get an idea of how he treats these things. Question 186, article 6.


Whether it's requisite for religious perfection that poverty, continence, that is, chastity and obedience should come under a vow. And then he gives, first of all, the objection, that it doesn't seem that way. Then, on the contrary, this is the body, as he says it, they call it, of the article, where he gives his opinion. In the old law, the Nazarenes were consecrated by a vow, according to number 621. A man or woman shall make a vow to be sanctified and will... Anyway, that doesn't help us so much. Therefore, a vow is requisite for religious perfection. And, as in many cases, the argument, the text that he seems to... that he uses here doesn't really seem to prove the point that he's proving. But his own arguments are pretty solid, I don't know. I answer that, this is typical now, scholastic treatment, good scholastic treatment. It belongs to religious to be in a state of perfection, as shown above. Who are religious? The ones who take vows are religious. What is a state of perfection? That's when it can really bother you. It doesn't mean that you're perfect, it means that you're striving towards perfection.


So a state of perfection is a condition, a state, in which you're striving to attain perfection. Then you've got to ask, what is perfection? We'll go into that in another question. Now, the state of perfection requires an obligation to do whatever belongs to perfection. And this obligation consists in binding oneself to God by means of a vow. But it's evident from what has been said that poverty, chastity and obedience belong to the perfection of the Christian life. Consequently, the religious state requires that one be bound to these three by a vow. Here's a reply to one of the objections. As Gregory says, religious perfection requires that a man give his whole life to God. But a man cannot actually give God his whole life, because that life taken as a whole is not simultaneous but successive. You can give God your life if you call Him martyrdom, can't you? In a moment. Because the moment of death is the only moment when we can actually give God our whole life. The other way, as Thomas says, is by a vow, because you give God your whole future.


That life taken as a whole is not simultaneous, not all at once, but successive. Hence, a man cannot give his whole life to God otherwise than by the obligation of a vow. So you see what kind of reasoning he uses in order to establish that the three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience are necessary for the religious life. And by that he means also the monastic life. But he includes the other kinds of religious life that were in his time. Because by this time you had the Dominican brothers, you had the Franciscans and the Dominicans, of whom he is one, and a bunch of others, Carmelites. Then the next question, whether it is right to say that religious perfection consists in these three vows. First of all the objection is no, it's not right. But then he goes on and he looks at these three vows in three different ways, in several different ways, and in each way what he's saying is that these three vows taken together pick up the whole of man, they express the whole of man's powers.


In other words, these are an expression of a total gift of self to God. The emphasis is on the analysis there, on these three renunciations, poverty, chastity and obedience. If you are interested you can look into that. The whole of question 186 is concerned with those questions. We may seem to have sometimes little patience for this kind of reasoning now, or kind of distaste for it. And sometimes I may seem to encourage that by the offhand way that I treat St. Thomas or something like that. But it's worthy of respect. And if that kind of analysis isn't done, sooner or later, it's very hard to understand what you're talking about. So there's a time when things are very simple before they've been analyzed. They're done sort of by instinct, by the impulse of the spirit, whatever. Then there's a time for analysis. But now we arrive at the time when we have to rediscover the simplicity, in the light of the analysis, having had the analysis. We're not interested in the analysis anymore, we want the simplicity.


But we have to rediscover integrating the analysis that's been done, hoping for a better grasp of the truth that way. And St. Thomas helps us. Because we can't set aside, we can't deny any of the truth that he's arrived at. Then there's another treatment, which is typified by this little catechism in the Vows. There's one or two of these over on the glass shelf there. And this treatment is based not on scholastic philosophy and theology, but on the canon law itself. And this can be pretty heavy. This is a way of understanding religious life or monastic life according to the code of canon law, a purely juridical way. It starts out from a juridical basis, and then tries to move as far as it can into the moral and into the spiritual. It gets as far as the moral and the ethical, you know, what you should do and so on, but it really doesn't touch the spiritual very much.


And you'll find some good stuff in here. But it's, in the end, far from the best way to approach or to tackle the monastic life. Because what you're talking about is, monastic life in terms of obligation and in terms of sin, what you have to do in order not to sin. And see how far you've gotten from the original inspiration of the monastic life, which is the love of Christ, which is that forward movement. And here we're sort of leaning against the minimal requirements. And that's what the law comes to do, unfortunately. And yet the law has got to be there. So they're talking about these two influences that have come in, the influence of scholastic theology, which means Greek thought, and the influence of the juridical influence, and that's Roman law coming in. So the Greek intellectualism or rationalism and Roman law, each of them puts a new layer on this understanding of the religious life, which has removed us from the primitive sense of a monastic life somewhat.


So we have to dig back through those layers. You can take a look at this catechism sometime, and read some in St. Thomas's questions, just to get an idea of these two confusions. This sort of thing is necessary, but it's far from charming. And it's too early. The obligation to tend to perfection, and so on. Well, then what's an obligation to tend to perfection? How can you have an obligation to tend to perfection? When you get into that kind of language, by the time you get to that point, the whole thing is dried up inside of you. You don't know what you're doing anymore. It gets too far from Scripture, too far from the Word of God, and too far from the way that the Holy Spirit acts inside of us. Even Roberts talks about the sort of limbo thing that you have to do.


It sort of seems like, when you put it that way, well, let's assume that monastic life is lost, and it's a virgin story. Yeah, yeah. Of course, we find it already in the will of St. Benedict, don't we? I mean, he's got a big penal code there. He assumes that the abbot may do some awful things, and that all of the monks, you know. So, the difficult thing is to keep those two things together, as St. Benedict says, leave the strong something to strive for, and provide for the other end at the same time. Keep the weak, or the sinful, or whatever. I'm transposing the statement a little. Okay, I haven't got a good sample here to read you. You want that? Oh. Let him so temper all things. That was good, you got it. Let him so temper all things, that the strong may have something to strive after,


and the weak may not fall back in dismay. Yeah, you can sort of transpose that and say, well, let things be arranged so that there's sufficient positive motivation, and also there's a protection against human weakness. That's just an analogy to what St. Benedict is saying. But you find it already in the early rules. It's not as if it just came from the canon law. And then the fact is that the canon law really doesn't deal with monasticism as such, but it deals with the religious life, in which you have monks and you have a bunch of other religious. And so it obscures the specific vocation, the specific sense of the monastic life. So if you get your understanding and your feeling of the monastic life from canon law, or from scholastic theology, you're going to have trouble. You'll be dissatisfied at a certain point, or have some confusions. Okay. Here is a question of what's a sin against the vow, what's a sin against the virtue of obedience?


That kind of thing. It gets to be a casuistry after a while. Okay. Casuistry is a consideration of different cases, different cases and how you figure out whether something is sinful or permissible or legal in a given case. It's a depressing kind of thought. Okay. Obviously we cannot reject or eliminate the juridical aspect. We have to relate it to the more primitive and purely charismatic element. Remember St. Paul here, and law versus grace. It doesn't belong in Christianity. And unfortunately sometimes it would happen. The juridical aspect, by stressing the minimal obligations of the vows, establishes the monk in a fixed state of life. Even that expression, fixed state, is a discouraging expression.


Well, even if you go over the state of perfection, we just don't like to think in those terms nowadays. The fixed state, rather than a kind of... Because they're not vital terms, they're not life-related terms. Fixed state. Besides, it's not realistic, because we know that we're never in a fixed state except when we're asleep. It indicates the matter of his self-gift, what he's giving, what he's giving. The more interior and spiritual element, on the other hand, represents the spirit of the sacrifice, and it's difficult to get that into law. It gives meaning to the juridical obligations. And then he quotes Second Vatican Council, where the union of those two dimensions of the Church is expressed. This is in the Constitution of the Church, number 80. The society furnished with a hierarchical agency. Okay, that's the outside, that's the structure, that's the juridical part. And the mystical body, of course, the interior. Remember that book of Dulles again, Models of the Church. First two models. The first one is the institutional one, and that's the external one,


where you stress the visible society, the hierarchical agency, and so on. The second one is Church as mystical communion. So that's the purely interior one. As mystical body. The earthly Church and the Church enriched with heavenly things. Rather, they form one interlocked reality, which is composed of a divine and a human element. Remember that word sacrament. That's the third model of Dulles, and that's the word that's used in the first chapter of Roman Judaism, in the Constitution of the Church. That the Church is a sacrament. Now, sacrament being what? It's the incarnation of the spiritual in the material, in the concrete. So Christ is the sacrament of God. Mr. Gilladeeps wrote a book called Christ the Sacrament. Christ the Sacrament of Encounter with God, I think it was. Christ is the sacrament of God. What does that mean? Christ is God in incarnate form, in concrete form, in tangible form, in material form. Similarly, the Church is the sacrament of Christ,


who is now the risen Christ, in the invisible form. So, sacrament, that notion, combines the exterior and the interior. It's a very precious notion for that reason. And also, we should be fair to St. Thomas. In St. Thomas' theology, a lot of it is centered in the notion of sacrament, with its two dimensions. What happens if the interior is missing and you just, well, it's the example structure. Yes. Well, that's very often true. Then the sacrament is no longer really a sacrament. It's dead. That's only too often what happens, because people forget about the interior. They can see the other one, so they deal with it. They construct it, and they take care of it, and so on. They take care of it, and meanwhile the interior one dies. It's what happens only too easily, especially in the American Church, because the American Church has, first of all, had to spread out very rapidly, you know, a hundred years, a couple hundred years,


and to therefore do a lot of material work, and handle, take care of a lot of people in a hurry. So that tends to spread you out on the surface, so that you get into the material things. And so the bishops get that kind of mentality. Meanwhile, the interior of the spiritual is forgotten. And secondly, because America has, in the same time, been in a very, emerging into a very materialistic phase of its life, right? Into a real thick materialism. So those two things make it very easy for the American Church to be an externalized church with no heart to it, with no spirit. The outside there, and big, and imposing. The inside dead, and asleep. I'm not saying the American Church is that way, but that's the very easy point to be coming at. Nor is it a problem just to the American Church. It's one of the problems of the Catholic Church,


with its sound juridical structure. It was strong on one side, it didn't get weak on the other side. Unfortunately. With its concentration on centralization and so on. Many people, and even religious, tend to think that the vows embrace only the minimal juridical obligations, not to sin against chastity, not to have anything without, and so on. But that's terrible, you see? That minimal thing. It's the same kind of mentality you get with the Catholistry or the Confessional. Did I commit a sin or didn't I commit a sin? That's not all that matters. You never talk about the love of Christ. You see, that's a trap. It's a spiritual trap, that minimalism. It's important to know those things. Whether you have to swallow a gnat or a camel in order to sin against the vow, or whatever. That's what it becomes in the end. How big a camel can I swallow before I'm violating my vow? How big a thing can I possess before I'm violating the vow? Probably, let's see, a pack of cigarettes or a book. A big book, no. Or three books.


Or a notebook, you know, or a television set. How big? People think in those terms. Yeah, there's different rules. I forget what it is for us now. Somewhere between... Holy pictures in the wall. Yeah, holy pictures. Those are the sins of nuns. So, it's not a matter of this exterior obligation getting focused on that. These are no more than forms of departure for something much greater. The adventure of living completely centered on Christ, embodied so in prayer. These obligations don't come from without, they blossom forth spontaneously from the heart. And that's true. That's what Martin's writing about so much. Because so much of the problem of the monastic life today has been to get from the living out of the external structure to interiorizing the values in the living from the heart. But to interiorize the values really means mostly discovering the love of Christ in you.


When we talk about values, that's another abstract term. That's another dried-up word, values. Too abstract. Christ, God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit. Those are the values, the ultimate values. And the monastic life only makes sense in terms of those. Even when we're talking about solitude and things like that. There are the duties of a special state of life. Like those, for example, the truck driver, doctor, and his astronaut. Some of his examples are not too awful inspiring. The trucker can't get drunk or fall asleep while driving in the night. Similarly, a monk cannot get drunk or fall asleep while in choir. It's obvious. He should not. He should not. It depends on the order, once again. Not because canon law or the rule imposes them, but because the monk has freely chosen a state of life. And that's true. Therefore, the first responsibility of the monk is to love with all his heart.


Once again, it goes back to the Shema, the great commandment. There's nothing new. You should love the Lord with all your heart. I hear this focuses on Christ. So, the beauty of this book is largely the fact that he's got the center in the right place. It's that part of the service. It's in the love of Christ. When we're talking about the vows and the monastic vocation and profession, we come back and back and back to that. And you might think it's getting boring. It shouldn't get boring. It should come alive. It should burst into flames. It should bring a kindle. The thing about Christianity is that the more you come back to the center, the more you come back to the things that it's really about, it doesn't get more dull. It gets more warm. It gets more exciting. And so it should be like this. And what we're talking about all the time should be a matter of zeroing in, centering in. What's really there, and trying to get beyond sometimes pretty opaque and heavy externals. And the monastic vows embrace the two aspects of this life of love.


What do you mean by two aspects? The interior and the exterior. And the vows of, according to St. Benedict, I don't want to spend another period on this chapter. Okay, we should move ahead into the next chapter next time. So whatever we don't cover now, I'll leave it to you. See if there's anything essential. Not that there are any very difficult points that he's bringing in here. From a simple symbolic taking of the habit to a written juridical promise. Piper also has ugly words about the creeping in of our Western rationalism, our Western juridicism and so on. We're used to hearing that by now. St. Benedict doesn't give us the formula which the novice read. We read that part of the chapter 58 on which he talks about. The formula of profession.


I forgot to bring down the book of our professions in which those formulas are written. But see the monk writes in his own hand his profession. And he signs it. Or he puts his X on the altar at the time of the profession ceremony itself, which is always going to be used. Here's the traditional formula of profession. Great century. My brother so and so promised stability, conversion of life and obedience. The three Benedictines. So this is the one for solemn profession. But for us, for simple profession, remember we have five. Poverty and chastity also. Explicit. According to the rule of St. Benedict, have it before God and his saints whose relics are venerated in this place. And in the name of the monastery and the presence of heaven. And so on. We have it. Very concrete. And the fact that the vow of stability is included there, of course, accents that. The saints are invoked as witnesses.


A lady to whom the monastery is usually dedicated. That's true among the Cistercians. Not necessarily. A public aspect of the vows. The concreteness is really accentuated here. Rather than having a whole lot of, you know, theology or a lot of poetry, it's concrete. Some of the profession writes too much. You know, they have a whole burial symbolism and everything. It's unifying. Once again, tied up with the baptism thing. They actually have a funeral rite. The idea of being buried and dying with Christ into baptism. To rise again. And it varies very much with the different orders. And some of them, they'd sew the monk up. Great days in his cow. Once he died? No.


Well, he made his profession. How does ours differ from the Shamanism? I can bring it down next time and read it to you exactly. It's very similar. Just a change of a couple of words. These vows do not so much imply a series of particular obligations, but total dedication in one's own life. I wanted to spend more time on that because it's important. The central core axis of monastic profession will be the vow of conversion of life. Now, he's following Martin in this. He's seeing that as the basic monastic vow. Whereas the other religious orders don't even have it, you see. It's implicit in their other vows. So he's going to treat that first. He's got a few questions there. Not too hard to find the answers to them if you look up the council document.


And if you just make a couple of pages, just look back in the chapter and see what he said. The third one, we might spend a moment. In what sense is religious profession a consecration? Who consecrates for what purpose and by what means? There's some confusion here because if you read Pfeiffer on this, Pfeiffer talks about it from page 181 to 183, you find out that there came to be a consecration rite in monastic profession in which the abbot or the bishop would pray a prayer of consecration over the monk making his confession. Therefore, it would be the abbot who would consecrate it or a priest who would consecrate it. But actually, if you read the council documents, you find out the monk that consecrates himself, it's he himself who is dedicating himself, consecrating himself to God. The vow itself is a consecration. And it's not a consecration performed over and by somebody else. It's what the monk does himself. That is the central element. That's in the two, implicit at least, in the two council document references.


Okay, I wanted to spend some time with this book by Tillard. There are charisms and charisms. Because he expresses so beautifully this basic motivation of the religious life and the monastic life. He's a Dominican, but what he says is applicable also to the monastic life. If you just read the word or two, you're at risk of going over with it. He centers the whole thing in the encounter with Christ. Now, some people experience difference. But I think that he really got onto the central nerve, really the spine of the meaning of the monastic life and of the religious life, insofar as it's a Christian thing. You have to verify this by your own experience, whether it's true for you or not. Whether it's true now, whether it's maybe more true later on, whether it was true and then forgotten. Since man's freedom is involved, it's clear that God's call awakens in a believer


an initial reaction which constitutes the soil in which the decisions he has to take, leave everything, for instance, for terminate. But this reaction is not first and foremost of the moral, ethical, and practical order. Primarily it is one of enthusiasm. Enthusiasm, which means just you're excited about something, you've found something, you've encountered something, something's opened up for you, you've met somebody, the first time in your life this thing has happened. And in this context, enthusiasm is fundamentally doxological for Dorian. What does doxological mean? You know what a doxology is, when you say, Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, that's a doxology. Is it that? Yeah, it's a form of praise or of glorification, you would say, because the word for glory in Greek is what, doxa, doxa. So when you say those prayers at the end of a psalm, or in other places in liturgy in Greek, you start out doxa,


doxa theo, doxa patriae, hoio, hoio, community, community. You hear the Greeks saying it all the time when they do their liturgy. So doxa, doxology, glorification, adoration. Those words tend to get dried up for us too. But what this really means is simply the excitement and the wonder of the discovery of God's glory. This thing that St. Paul was talking about once again in 2 Corinthians 4 and 5. The glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus. Now, it's the recognition of this, and the excitement about this, and the enthusiasm over this, and the fascination of this, which is at the core, he's saying, of the religious vocation. I think it's true. It should be. It really puts Christ in the center of it. And Christ, not just as teacher, not just as sort of moral guide, or anything else, but just in what he is, you see. Just the fascination with what Christ is, who he is.


You mean revelation? Revelation, yes. The revelation of the person of Christ, of Jesus. There's a thesis he's got. I wonder whether it's verified for you or not. Whether that's the way, when you go deepest into your own vocation, whether that's what you find. If it's that centered in the person of Jesus. For me it's true. There are different experiences. That's what Roberts is saying. Of course, Roberts didn't bring it out as strongly as he still has. He doesn't go into it that long. Maybe he does in his last chapter. So far I've examined only what he's been talking about, the New Testament vocation narratives. He's been talking where Jesus calls the disciples, and you get this sense of astonishment and fascination. But there are other New Testament passages that shed light on man's attitude and the encounter with Christ, which reorients his life.


This is conversion. Conversion is what the New Testament passage is about. The most important of these is the double parable of the treasure and the fine pearl. Remember? It's in Matthew 13, where a man finds a treasure buried in a field, and he goes off with joy to celebrate, and he has it. He goes back and buys a field. He puts great emphasis on the fact that he goes off with joy. And the merchant who finds the one fine pearl sells everything he has and buys that pearl. Exegetes have noted, moreover, that the words describing the decision of the person who finds the treasure or the fine pearl find a direct echo in Jesus' injunction to a rich young man. Go and sell what you want and give the money to the poor and you'll have treasure in heaven. Come, follow me. And he gets into some argument selling the fine pearl. The key idea would seem to be the following.


It's self-evident that whoever discovers the kingdom leaves everything in order to enter it. It's not so much that you... The emphasis is not on the fact that you have to, it's just that you do. The fact that the man buys the field containing the treasure signifies that it's worthwhile relinquishing everything for the sake of his kingdom. In both parables, the relinquishment at which the gospel speaks is important, but more as a result of discovering the kingdom, that is, the steps must take in order to enter it. For the decision man takes at that moment, a radical decision, is commensurate to his discovery and to the joy of his discovery. And he quotes this joke in Jeremiah. The key words are in his joy. This is in the man who finds the treasure. They are not expressly repeated in the case of the merchant who finds the pearl, but they apply to him as well. When that great joy beyond all measure seizes a man, it carries him away, penetrates his inmost being, subjugates his mind.


All else seems valueless compared with that surpassing worth. No price is too high, and the unreserved surrender of what is most valuable becomes a matter of course. The decisive thing in the double parable is not what the two men give up, but the reason for their doing so, the overwhelming experience of the greatness of their discovery. So it is with the kingdom of God. The effect of the joyful news is overpowering. It fills the heart with gladness, making life's whole aim the consummation of the divine community and producing the most wholehearted self-sacrifice. It's a Protestant exegete talking about those two parables in the gospel. The inestimable value of the kingdom relegates everything else to the background. This does not mean that other goods and personal relationships are rejected or held in contempt, but rather that he who discovers the kingdom sees those other realities from the standpoint of his dependence on what has become the center of his life. Consequently, they cannot compete for his affection. Not because he has renounced them, but simply because of the attraction of the kingdom and the joy of awakening. And he goes on.


And he finds the same thing in St. Paul. That saying of St. Paul, you know, that for the surpassing knowledge of my Lord Jesus Christ. Maybe we can go on a little bit more about that next time. We'll return to it at other times, because I think this brings us back to the core of the things we're talking about. The vows, the various commitments and so on. Not just incidental, but they're all around this. This is the heart of it. And similarly, when they used to say, you make the vows, you live the religious life, you depend on the glory of God. What does that mean? It sounds alienating to us, because it sounds like, well, God is a king, a despot up there. Here we are flattening ourselves out for his glory. So after all, we get resentful about the whole thing of our revolution. But that's not actually what it's about. It's that a person has felt that joy of the glory of God. And so he doesn't know what to do. He's a little wild with this. So he does whatever he can to express absolutely in his life that he's found this one thing.


It's the only thing that's important. The thing he's been looking for all his life. And nothing else really counts anymore, because he's got it. And he's got it in Jesus Christ, and that's it. So the monastic vocation, if you look at it this way, goes straight out of the core of the gospel, because that's what the gospels are about. The revelation of this thing in Jesus Christ. And then how people respond to it. The apostles in heaven, the guru, and the volunteers. Sometimes when we talk about the monastic life, we get too darn professional about it, you know? I mean, all the things you do, and you're good at this, and enlightenment, and all those. But this is what it's about, it seems to me. I'm willing to argue about that if anybody wants to.