Unknown Date, Serial 00982

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Saint Simeon, the new theologian. So we'll take up now another of the great fathers of the East. We're jumping several generations and centuries, but it's amazing how much the spirit remains the same. And we want, first of all, to note some of the different currents in the East. As in the West, we have different currents of spirituality. The Franciscan is very different from the Dominican, and very different from the Benedictine. Well, in the East, even within the monastic family, they have very distinct currents. As we do, indeed, think of the Cistercians and the Camaldolines and the Black Benedictines, et cetera. But there is this Studite tradition that comes from the great monastery of Studios in Constantinople, founded in 463. That is, before even St. Catherine's was founded. And so it is quite different in its spirit than St. Catherine's in Sinai.


Remember, we've been looking at St. John Climacus, his very tough ascetical spirit. He continues kind of this spirit of the fathers of the desert. Well, now we go up to Constantinople, this booming city and capital of the Christian empire. And Studios isn't the first urban monastery there. There's another monastery of Alexander beforehand. They had been very deep into liturgy, community. They had this approach of the uninterrupted choir. That is, one group would go in and sing lauds, and they'd go out, and then another group. And they had this constant circulation of choirs so that there was always a liturgical praise of God. This was their thing. Cluny took this up. And it's an interesting idea. The Cistercian and the Comalese traditions would be a reaction against this. It's a little too heavy. It's a little too liturgical, we would say. But it is a tradition that very much stresses,


I put a kind of attention there, liturgy, community, social works in schools, copyists. Very much, we might say, the simplified erudite, scholarly, urban, urbane kind of monasticism. And this is in a real interesting tension with the Sinaite monasticism of someone like St. John Climacus. It's very ascetical, very individual into solitude. And the goal is not the splendor of liturgy, but individual contemplation. What makes it kind of interesting is both of these centers are battling against what is now emerging in the Orthodox world in the East, as in the Catholic world in the West. That is, a more speculative theology that comes out of an early discovery, here we're in the 10th century, of rediscovery of Aristotle. So someone like St. Peter Damian in the West,


St. Bernard, a roughly contemporary, but a citizen of the New Theology, will be battling in the East this dry, theoretical theology, which he sees as just a shuffling around of abstract Aristotelian categories, doesn't come out of the hearts, doesn't come out of a lived experience of the faith, doesn't come out of repentance and real transformation into God. So both are battling that. So that's kind of the landscape that gives the wider context. This tension between the Studite and Sinaite is a source of real fecundity for the East, as, I think, the battle between the Black Benedictines and the Trappists, and the Cameldes in there a little. This is not just bad, this is good. It's a kind of dialectic that causes creativity. This author, a monk of the Eastern Church, whom we know is this former Benedictine who becomes an Orthodox, but wants to remain Catholic,


Lev Gilet, in his The Prayer of Jesus, a lovely book. He writes of all this. As for Studite monasticism, it differs remarkably from Sinaite and hesychasm. It differs in a very positive way. The former insisted on the middle, cenobitical observance, that is, a Studite, with a common life and common prayer. The latter insisted on individual sanctification in solitude. The former admitted that monks might occasionally take part in certain ecclesiastical or charitable activities. The latter advocated a radical separation from the world. Well, all this is in the middle of our own life, it's not just theoretical, because the hermitage tends more to the Sinaite on the right, and our synovium tends more to the Studite on the left. So within our little congregation, we try to keep this tension alive, and we want it, sometimes it gets a little ferocious, but we want it to be a creative tension. We feel it's not either or, but both and, in a lively kind of dialectic.


So, in the Spirituality of the Middle Ages, of the section on Byzantine spirituality, by Louis Boullier, he writes, The spirit of Sinai, one of separation of the world and spiritual liberty, characterized by the absolute transcendence of God, this whole different kind of model of who God is in these things, as well as by the personal spontaneity of the monk, who was there considered not as a cell in a huge institution, but as a charismatic figure, was perpetually to batter against the Studite spirit, from this irreducible tension between Sinai and Studios, that would develop what was probably the best in Byzantine spirituality. So, I think this is an interesting model for us, sometimes we like to simplify, it's this, and therefore it's not that. But sometimes we need both and, and I think that's the Kamaldolese approach, both solitude and community, both good liturgy and good personal contemplative life, both the social dimension of commitment,


awareness, and personal asceticism, etc. It's not an either-or. Questions, comments about that? Does it allow the connection between one or the other, rather than either or? I'm sorry, does it? When you talk about the Kamaldolese tradition, you speak of flexibility, and you speak of community, and you speak of friendship. So, one for the other, doesn't know the other, doesn't allow the connection between one or the other. Within a particular community, one will be very much more into the one, and the other into the other. That's what I'm trying to say. Within a community like this, someone might be quite into liturgy and community, someone else might be quite into solitude, that's the whole thing, also, of the range of charisms within one liturgy. Absolutely, and within a monastery, just to get personal, Victor insists that he still keeps an extremely aramidical spirit in Berkeley,


which is quite different from that of Andrew and Benedict, so that's part of our thing, too. Absolutely. Then we'll see someone like, right now, Simeon the Theologian, tries himself to be a kind of a bridge person, because he's up north in Constantinople, and he enters studios, but he brings with him many elements of Sinai. He's very influenced by John Climacus, etc. Other questions, comments about this? But I think it's a tension within each one of us, really, insofar as human community and human solitude. Christian community and Christian solitude are components within each, etc. But each one would be a more or less this or that. So, some rave notes for Simeon the New Theologian. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church says simply, he is the greatest of the Byzantine mystical writers, so if you want to get into Eastern Christian heritage, as we all do, he's the greatest. The Oxford says so. A monk of the Eastern Church says,


he is certainly the greatest name in the history of post-patristic Byzantine spirituality. So he limits this, I think, wisely, a bit, to after the father. See, here we're into the 10th and 11th centuries, so we're getting quite late here. He stresses the primacy of the spiritual over the institutional, in a way that, in some of his radical phrases, he sounds like a Martin Luther or something, or he sounds like a charismatic who's gone wild against bishops or something. But, though there's some passages that aren't wholly orthodox, if taken literally, this stress on the spiritual distinguishes the Eastern Church. It's not primarily the institutional. It's not juridical canon law. It's the spiritual that's major. Remember, our inner chins are saying, for instance, what the abbots say on Mount Athos. This is more important for the main body of orthodox believers than what the Patriarch of Constantinople says. It's difficult for us to get into this mindset.


For us, what the Bishop of Rome says is very decisive. What do we care about... Who? What do we care what the abbots of the Benedictine Confederation say? That's kind of interesting. But it won't exactly make headlines in your local diocesan paper. But it's a different world in the East. The great majority of the abbots of Mount Athos might not be in communion with Constantinople and not even worry about it. That's Constantinople's fault because he's gone heretical. It's something like that just now. So it's a whole different... We have a very neat juridical institutional structure. They're much more fluid, and for them, it's this... That's right. Well, be careful. But something like that. By means of his notions on the office of the spiritual father and on the necessity of mystical experience, we're called to our baptism to mystical experience, each one of us, not primarily to obedience to some authority figure, but each one of us is called


to the heights of mysticism and on the necessity of mystical experience. Simeon, possibly without being aware of it, has given full scope to a certain conception of the primacy of the spiritual, understood as the primacy of the pneumatic and charismatic element over the hierarchical and institutional and understood also as the primacy of contemplation over intellectual and active life. What it's all about, what the Church is all about, is nourishing contemplatives, not setting down rules or establishing guidelines. These notions, or rather these dispositions, are still more or less decisive in the Orthodox soul. Certain schools of Russian theology have developed them and are partial to them. They have marked Orthodoxy with a stamp as strong as the one which the Counter-Reformation, the Council of Trent, and the First Vatican Council have marked the Roman Church. I think that's interesting. It's a bit polemical, but it's an interesting counterpart. Father Maloney is one of the great scholars.


You all know Father George Maloney, a Jesuit. He is a real scholar of Simeon, among other things, and he writes an introduction for him. He writes, Not even St. John of the Cross rivals the lyricism of Simeon as he opens the reader to share his burning love for Christ and the ecstatic happiness of living in the unity of the Trinity. We'll hear some passages. He is a poet and a lyrical poet. He's also a rather rigorous theologian. And as you'll see, this is extremely important. Meyendorff writes, He alone, of all the Orthodox mystics of the Middle Ages, speaks openly of his own personal and intimate experiences. This is interesting. You don't find too many autobiographical passages in St. John Climacus, for instance. They shy away from that. You don't talk about yourself, your own mystical experiences. Well, Simeon does, and that's kind of interesting. His font, very much scripture. Maloney says, We are overwhelmed by his knowledge and frequent citation of the scriptures.


He's very much in the patristic mode here. That is, his passage, his page, is just a chain of texts from scripture. Then he quotes John Climacus, which, again, comes from the other side, so to speak. It's as if a Benedictine were always quoting a Jesuit or something. It kind of raises the eyebrows. And it did raise the eyebrows. He had a very controversial life, as we'll see. But he does combine the community mysticism of Basil and of Theodore of Studios. Theodore was one of the great saints of the Studite monasticism. Both currents produced great sanctity. He combines this with the solitary mysticism of St. John Climacus and Isaac of Nineveh. So he's a bridge person, and their life isn't always easy, but it's kind of exciting. And then he's also, like crazy, fighting this more abstract theology that's coming into the East, just as Bernard is fighting


an Abelard in the West. Questions, comments about this? Something of his life. He's born around 950 in Galatia. He's very early on sent to Constantinople, where he grows up in court. He, at the age of 14, wanted to enter the monastery, but he was advised by his abbot to no, wait, serve out your time in the world and then do it. So he managed the household of a patrician family. It might be that he himself became a senator and a very big figure of the world of Constantinople. We don't know. But at the age of 27, he entered the great monastery of Studios. But he was so filled with enthusiasm for personal devotion, leading to personal contemplation, in this abbey that stressed liturgy and community and kind of a different, that he was denied profession, which is kind of interesting.


So if chapter votes no on you, know that there's some saints that have preceded. But he went out, and he was accepted in the daughter monastery of St. Mamas. And, indeed, within a space of three years, he was given the habit, ordained priest, and then became abbot. So... Pardon me? That's right. So things could move very fast for any one of you if you just... So then, as abbot, he gives his conferences to his monks. And that's what this book is about. The discourses are basically his Sunday chapter conferences, if you like. So a marvelous compendium of monastic mystical theology. So pick it up and read it. But things go very wrong there. He got in a fight with kind of the authorities of Constantinople with many of his own monks. He was thought to be too much of an enthusiast, too much drawing attention to his own self.


So he's right in the middle of polemics. He's too much promoting the public cult of Simeon the Devout, his own abbot, when he had just died, and the regular process of canonization hadn't been finalized. So he wanted a devotion to this saint, and the others were saying, well, he's not been canonized yet. But he's saying he has by the Holy Spirit. So that kind of thing. So finally he's forced to resign as abbot and settle down in a ruined oratory on the other side of the Bosphorus in solitude. But soon another little community gathers around him there. And 13 years later, he dies there. So it's a very polemical, controversial life. And some of the saints, that does characterize them. Others, no. Also other monks think of a bead whose life is just almost pure serenity. But others are right in the middle of battles, as he was. Wrote a great deal. There's a whole volume of the Patrologia Graeca.


You know, we have this great edition of the Greek fathers and the Latin fathers dedicated to all his writings. He's included in the Philokalia. Lots of books, also in English, out of his writings. Bouyer has a great study of him. Lossky, Maloney. Now Thomas Mattis, Archimaldoli's monk, who will be here at the beginning of next year for a good period. He did his doctorate comparing Simeon the New Theologian, this chap, with tantric yoga. Thomas has, I think, the rather brilliant thesis that the best way to journey to the Eastern, non-Christian religions is through the Christian East. There's a particular mindset. There's a particular way of perceiving time and the human body and the spirit and the divine in the East, whether Christian or non-Christian, that there's resonances there. There's a certain consonance.


So he's saying, you want to understand yoga? Go through Orthodoxy. Go through something like Simeon the New Theologian. So he thinks that Simeon is a particularly fruitful way to get into the East, to get into specifically Hinduism and tantric yoga. So as we move on, if you know anything about the East of, say, Hinduism, try to think, well, what is it about this that opens the way that maybe some of the things in the West wouldn't? Just if there's anything of truth to this book about the West that tends to get more into the analytical, more into the speculative, more into someone like Thomas Aquinas, more into the institutional, more into the juridical, this isn't the best approach to Hinduism. Our Father Bernardino, he jokes about the fact you have no authority structures virtually in Hinduism. Tibetan Buddhism is much neater and you end up with the Dalai Lama, etc.


So if you want to get some official dialogue going between Rome and Tibetan Buddhism, it can work out. But what do you do with Hinduism? Who's the bishop you phone? Who's the monsignor you phone? What's the canon law that you study? It's just not there. And Bernardino is just delighted with this. He says it's a totally other world. But as you journey through Simeon, you start to get into this world. So that's kind of interesting. So we'll be looking mainly at his discourses. And again, these are conferences of a very young abbot to his monks, filled with enthusiasm, which tell in a lively and simple way his own mystical experience and his theology of that. We'll see this. He's not just an enthusiastic, charismatic, sharing of his gifts, but he's rigorously reflecting on this theologically. For instance, this monk says, in the whole of the Byzantine Middle Ages, there has been no writer


who was more Christocentric than Simeon. He has a rigorous Trinitarian theology, Christocentric theology, theology of grace, etc., theology of the body of Christ, of the human body, is extremely important. It's extremely spiritual, but also a very incarnate body. And these come together in Christ, the God-man. When I went off to Kamaldoli to study, this was just... Well, Vatican II was just in its middle period, but they were very exciting years. And one of the big battles, kind of like the Aristudite-Sinaitic thing, or the Aramidical-Cenobitical, was between what was called then objective spirituality and subjective spirituality. Objective was solid theological. It would be what you would get in someone like a Marmion. How many of you know Marmion? Hopefully you all know Marmion. Marmion was this great Benedictine abbot who wrote Christ the...


Christ the ideal of the monk. It's extremely Pauline theology. So objective spirituality is into solid theology. Talk about Trinity, talk about Christ, talk about Eucharist, etc. Subjective is... And this is polemical language already. The other subjective people wouldn't use exactly this language. They might talk more about interior as opposed to merely exterior or something like this. But this side would talk more about, well, what is our actual lived experience? And so it would be something like Carmelite spirituality. Where are you? Are you in the second or the third or the fourth mansions? Have you experienced the prayer of contemplation? All this kind of thing. So it was a very interesting going back and forth. Is it either or? And again, there again, I think you need both and. But you can make a case, Father Bruno has argued this, I think rather brilliantly, that at the very beginning of Christianity, if you pick up the New Testament, there's not much there


about the prayer of contemplation or apophatic prayer or kneeling positions or sitting positions or breath methods or meditation techniques. It is the proclamation of the saving good news of Jesus Christ who died for us and is risen. The Pauline corpus, as you know, is the earliest section there. There's a few passages where he talks about his own experience and raised up to heaven, whether in the body or out of it, he does not know. There he's very sober and discreet. He says, I know a man. But basically it's this proclamation of the mystery of Christ and then the consequence to live it in terms of charity, faith, good works, this kind of thing. And then as the early fathers come along, it's much the same thing. You don't find the earliest fathers, again, talking about interior mansions or practice of the presence of God or something. They're talking solid theology, Basil and Gregory of Nazianzus, and et cetera. But then the issue comes up.


This is lovely, all this solid theology. And this, by the way, is what you have with all the councils, the definition of the doctrine of Christ's two natures and Mary, the Theotokos, et cetera. But the question at a certain point arises, that's just great, but how do I make this personal? How do I personally claim it so that it can transform me? Then you get the whole desert tradition, and these people rush out in the desert. Someone like John Climacus, there's not much in John Climacus about Trinity and Christ and Eucharist in an explicit way. It's there implicitly presupposed, but it's mainly how I climb up that ladder through battling against pride and against envy and against lust and against possessiveness and against disobedience, et cetera. So there's this kind of swing of the pendulum. One of the famous sayings of the Desert Fathers, one of these fancy head people comes from Alexandria and looks up one of these fathers


and wants to discuss with him a subtle question of exegesis of the New Testament. And the father's just dumb. He won't say a word. And the other guy's saddened and he goes out. He says, well, I came this great distance to have clarity about this important passage of Scripture. And one of the monks went in and says, can't you say something to him? And he says, I don't know anything about Scripture. And the other says, had he asked me about the passions of the spirit, I could have dialogued with him about that. And so then the monk goes out and tells the other person who comes back humbled. And the whole idea is avoid fancy head trips, but get to the basic thing. I'm not faithful to my prayer life because of pride, because of distraction or something. That's the bottom line. And that's, again, much John Climacus. And so you get this pendulum that goes way off. Now, I think what you've got in Simeon the New Theologian is the pendulum coming back to a kind of creative middle place, where, again, you have lots of good theology. It's not the abstract


Aristotelian stuff that's going on in the Constantinople court. But it's a sapiential, experiential theology. But it's also very much out of a personal mystical. Simeon the New Theologian is mystic and theologian, both of them. That's why he's called New Theologian. There's only three personages in the Eastern Church with this very honored title of theologian. Who are they? Good. Adzianzen. Now, this is for $50,000. Who? Absolutely. Good for you. You get the whole bag. See, the idea is, in the New Testament already, we have the theology, and that's John the Divine. And then, in the patristic age, you have Gregory Adzianzen. And then this is kind of the,


kind of getting into the post-patristic. And that's the New Theologian, the younger. Only these three are theologians in the Eastern. We have all these theologians and doctors and so forth. But it's an interesting view. Questions, comments, underneath this? So, he is, his theology is, the only way you can go there is by faith. And here, he's right there with someone like John of the Cross. It's not stirring up in yourself gooey experiences. It's just faith. But it's not a kind of a dry faith in the dark night. If you open yourself in faith, then the Holy Spirit rushes in. And you're carried up to the fecundity of works. You're carried into union with God. So it's a kind of, I think the closest thing today in the Catholic Church would be something like a charismatic experience of being born again in the Spirit. But it's a very sophisticated charismatic who's a theologian.


Up in Berkeley, there's a charismatic group with Donald, no, Don, and Jelpe, Father Jelpe. And he's quite a theologian of the Jesuit school. So it's charismatic but solidly theological. Well, that would be some kind of parallel with this. Here's a few passages. He's talking about Simeon here. Not Simeon the theologian, but the old Simeon who takes Jesus. He believed so firmly that he showed his faith in deeds appropriate to it. By these deeds, his faith received wings and reached heaven. So it's a lovely, faith without works is dead. He would agree there with James. And it's the works that animates the faith and then carries him up to heaven. And this, then he goes on with his Marian and it's filled with the Spirit and all this. It attracted the compassion of Christ's mother. By her intercession, God was propitiated and sent down on him the grace of the Spirit. This grace gave him strength to reach up to heaven


and granted him to contemplate that light to which all strive. This is page 247. This little passage kind of sums up this whole theology which I tried to diagram. Is it getting a little warm here? Maybe it's the Holy Spirit. So here you are in your body. You have faith and love. This enables the Holy Spirit to roar in and carries you into this realm of light which is received. It is the very light, the life of Christ. Here we get this whole thing of the uncreated life of Christ. And this, Christ carries you right into the Godhead who is love. So it's very Trinitarian. It's very Paschal with the light. It's very incarnate. It's solidly faith. So it's what they would have called back in Rome in the 60s. This is good objective theology and spirituality. But it's also very personal and interior. One of its greatest stresses


is each one of you is responsible to claim your grace of baptism and thus ascend to the heights of mysticism through baptism. This is one of the things that he preaches and this is why he gets into trouble. People think he's a little too enthusiastic with all of this. It's faith that bears fruit in works. Works not just going out and doing this thing and that, but kind of the fullness of love which inevitably overflows into charity to your fellow human beings. And this, again, is a charismatic experience of being united to God in love. God bestows on the faithful great blessings solely because they have faith in him. So it's centered on faith. Thus those who fail to obtain them because of their carelessness have nothing to say and no excuse on the day of judgment. He who has promised to save by faith alone


does not lie. So it's faith alone. This sounds almost like Luther, but then he gets immediately into faith alone that obviously brings forth fruit. Often as we go back to these fathers we find the reconciliation of certain battles that occurred in the West and got extremely polarized. Faith only or faith in works. Well, these fathers would say both as we saw both in Clement of Rome. We have such a generous master so full of loving kindness to us that in return for simple faith in him he grants us such gifts as surpass our understanding, our hearing, our thinking such as the heart of man is not conceived. So if you just believe you'll be swept away with the charismatic gifts into light. And this particularly flourishes in the final gift of the Holy Spirit which is love. And so it's a passionate love spirituality. Make no mistake about it. Without works faith alone will profit us nothing.


This is pure James. Or this is pure Trent against Luther. But he's just quoted saying faith alone. So it's both the James tradition and the Pauline. In that case indeed faith is dead and the dead do not obtain life unless they begin by seeking it in the accomplishment of commandments. In that accomplishment charity brings forth within you its fruits with interest. Almsgiving, compassion towards your neighbor, gentleness, humility, tears, chastity, purity of heart by which we are all made to see God. And then this explodes in the contemplative mystical which is where he always wants to go. In charity the Holy Spirit comes to us and enlightens us. He regenerates us, makes us sons of God, clothes us in Christ, lights the lamp of the soul, makes us sons of light, dispels the darkness in our souls, makes us know that henceforth we participate in eternal life, makes us known. This is his experiential knowledge. You should be able to experience in your life


this transforming force of grace. It's not some scholastic problem. It's the force that transforms our life from darkness into light, carrying us into the taboric light of the transfigured Christ. So this is the whole contemplative life. This is for everyone, not just monks, because this comes just in virtue of baptism. And here he anticipates certain debates. In the 50s it was very debated between the Jesuits on the one hand and the Dominicans and Carmelites on the other, whether we were all called by virtue of baptism to the heights of mysticism. And some Jesuit theologians argued, no, there's two ways. There's the active way and then there's the contemplative way. And very few were called to the contemplative way. And the Thomists and the Carmelites said, this is absurd. We're all called to the heights of contemplation. I have written all this


so as to show all who may read this account that God has granted the ability to do good to anyone who wishes to do it, wherever he may be. So this is Discourses for Monks, but he's writing it down and he knows he'll have it a wider. But he immediately goes on, if you are a monk, you've got an advantage. You've got a strong advantage. This is characteristic of Eastern spirituality. We feel a little uncomfortable after Vatican II about this. Are there higher vocations and lower? Well, in the East they'd say, certainly there are higher. The more contemplative you are, the more monk you are. Obviously, that's higher than just a married vocation. They would say, we feel a little uneasy about this. But this narration encourages withdrawal. The man in question, though he moved in the middle of the world and had no thought of monastic or meditating on someone, I forget who, profession or poverty or obedience, yet received such mercy from God because he sincerely believed and called on him. How much greater blessings should they hope to gain who have forsaken all things


and all persons belonging to the world who, as God himself commanded, for his sake, have given up even their own souls in death. Indeed, he who, with unhesitating faith and wholehearted resolve, has begun to practice goodness, has begun to experience the blessing thereof. This is very strong for him again. It's at the experiential. We'll know at first hand the care of the world and life in it is of great hindrance to those who have lived, those who have resolved to live according to this way. So it's much better to be the monk. Then he gets into the primacy, therefore, of the spiritual and here he's very unhappy with the state of the institutional church as he knows it. He thinks the bishops are much too worldly, much into simply institutional administration. They should be, above all, these pneumaticoi, these spirit-filled people preaching contemplation and mysticism and instead they're just living the soft life


and laying down rules, etc. So he has some ferocious passages against bishops. The bishops unworthily handle my body. He's put this in the mouth of Christ. Christ is saying this about his bishops. They unworthily handle my body and seek avidly to dominate others. They are seen to appear as brilliant and pure, but their souls are worse than mud and dirt, worse even than any kind of deadly poison, these evil and perverse men. So this is pretty tough stuff. So some have said, you see, he's anti-institutional and others have said, well, it's just a kind of a genre. But he certainly very much stresses the charismatic. He says he would much prefer to have as his spiritual guide a holy lay monk than a priest or an abbot, I'm sorry, a priest or a bishop of this sort. So it's a very interesting tension in him.


But again, he so stresses the spiritual that he does get his point across, and so the Eastern Church does pride itself as being the Church of the Spirit, not of law or institution or that. And he describes his own experience as a kind of a being-born-again experience, we would say, to use our language today. He's talking about this young man. One day as he stood and recited, God have mercy upon me, a sinner. What does this remind us of? That's right, and the Jesus prayer. So there's a huge, long debate. How much is he a Hesychast? He knows John Clemicus. He knows this prayer. But if you want a long discussion, it isn't spelled out in an explicit way as a method here of coordinating with the breath. There is a treatise called The Method that used to be attributed to him where it gets very specific and sit on a stool and the whole thing. But it's now thought that that's not his.


But anyway, he's not against it, and many argue that it is there in an implicit way. One day as he stood and recited, God have mercy upon me, a sinner, uttering with his spirit rather than his mouth. This is already a poem against just the formalism of studios. Suddenly a flood of divine light appeared from above and filled all the room. As this happened, the young man lost all awareness of his surroundings and forgot that he was in a house or that he was under a roof. He saw nothing but light all around him. He did not know if he was standing or sitting. He was not afraid of falling. He was not concerned with the world, nor did anything pertaining to men or corporeal beings enter his mind. Instead, he was wholly in the presence of immaterial light. And indeed, he himself seemed to have turned into light. This is typical of him. Just so he knows, you would say in the West, the higher reaches


of mystical prayer. And this colors everything. So on the one hand, rigorous theology, faith and works and love, and as we'll see, Holy Spirit and Christ and Trinity. But on the other hand, this very lift experience. In this way, he's kind of an Eastern John of the Cross who himself is a very rigorous theologian, but also a high mystic. Except that, and this will be very much stressed, all the way through, he's talking about light. As you get into contemplative prayer, you're just bathed in light. And for John of the Cross, it's a journey into night. So some of the Eastern theologians would very much stress this difference. For him, he's carried into light. What is this? But first of all, it's in his body that he has to get. Why? Because he is the body of Christ. And he takes this in a, almost a materialistic way. And again, always be thinking, how would he lead into something like tantric yoga? Well, there's all these parallels


here already. But think of the theme of light. But think of coming back into your body. That's the place where you are going to encounter the transformation to enlightenment, to use a different language. And Thomas Mattress is constantly going back and forth. But one of the key points now is to come back into your physical body. And he takes this in a materialistic way that shocks the West. And I think we'll see that more next time. It's a little too late to be shocked. Comments? Questions? That's right. I think Peter Damian is rather a clear parallel because he himself


becomes a cardinal. He himself is very much dedicated to the renewal of the church, which he wants also to be a renewal in the spirit. And some of the same abuses they note. So I think that's a good parallel. I think Peter Damian has some ferocious things. He talks about these cardinals that ride on their donkey with their glowing scarlet cloaks. And he says, you don't know where the cardinal ends and the donkey starts. And ferocious things like this. So I think that's an interesting parallel. And obviously, assuming the new theologian doesn't go out of the institution and so his defenders can make the case, it's a kind of, that kind of rhetoric. We'll find that kind of ferocious rhetoric in St. Peter Damian. Just ferocious. Against bishops, priests, also monks who aren't living up. He feels to his level. Other questions? Comments? We've, I think we're fortunate today in the sense we have a fairly,


we don't, if you look at the church in some periods, we don't have a very decadent church in the sense of cardinals who are, you know, gambling out at Reno and things like that. And playing around publicly with their pyramids, etc. There's a pretty tight discipline. This came out of the Trent thing. There were periods when things got pretty rough. And then these mystics and saints come along and ferociously cry back to austerity. Okay, so next week we'll continue with Simeon the New Theologian. So today we'll look at the Comaldes heritage. We want to welcome Clint. And I'll do this a bit briefly, kind of a first introduction because some people will be coming next year who are really experts in this area. Thomas Mattos, you know, Cenzo Gargano, Bernardino. So this is just to prepare


the way for them, a kind of a John the Baptist venture. We want to set the context for the emergence of our specifically Comaldes thing, which is the 11th century. Extremely interesting century. Victor was taking a course at the University of Berkeley on the 11th century and the professor said, this is the pivotal century in the West. Here there's a shift that we have not encountered before or after. And it's interesting that we're right in the middle of this. We come out of this key shift and the shift is still going on. And in some sense we're trying to go back now. So we want to look at what this shift is all about. Knowles is a very fine history of the Christian church. The Christian century is volume two. This is Knowles and Obolensky, the Middle Ages He mentions that there's now this discovery of Aristotle and his dialectical analytical method. And Knowles writes,


these short treatises had nuclear power in them and the mind of Europe was now fit to release it. So this is kind of a nuclear explosion we have. What happens is this rigorous analytic mentality is applied to every area including theology, including spirituality. At its worst it turns into rationalism. At its best it cuts through a lot of superstition and mystagogical stuff. Berengarius, who is a French theologian, you always have to be careful he's French, he became a rationalist. He denied the real presence in the Eucharist on the basis of a rigorous Aristotelian logic of one thing can't be another thing kind of thing. Abelard was another harbinger of all this. And you know the big violent encounter between him and Bernard, etc. I think it can be summed up in many ways but Plato gave the basic


theoretical framework for reflection of the fathers on how to approach the Christian mysteries in the West. Aristotle, I'm sorry, Augustine, still a Platonist, Ambrose, Gregory, and in very simplistic terms, I don't know if you know that, that marvelous mural by Raphael in the Vatican. Plato and Aristotle are walking down this marvelous Athenian way and Plato is pointing upward and Aristotle is pointing downward very emphatically. For Plato, it's the eternal ideas in the divine heavens and for Aristotle, we have to see the relation of form and matter here before us concretely. Well, it's a shift from a preoccupation with mystery, the eternal, the heavenly, the divine, the theological, et cetera, to an interest in this world, its structures, how it works. In very simplistic terms, it's a shift


from where faith is quite dominant to a world where reason becomes more and more dominant and this gets to the point of if you walk into the University of Berkeley today, something like Christian faith would be seen as somewhat quaint in many of the departments and if you have a Catholic or a Christian professor there, they really are battling against the stream and it's worse. It's a fideism in the early Middle Ages just, you know, you almost believe anything that's being preached or talked about to the, and it's worse, racialism where if I can't prove it with Aristotelian logic, I'm not going to believe it. There's a whole attitude of mind that's reverential and typological. If you read about David in the Old Testament, it's basically about Jesus and mysticogical. It's basically ultimately about the kingdom and where we're going and it's all about us. That whole kind


of reading of scripture and also of our history. Whatever happens, there's a providence there up to a much more analytical and dialectical command of don't put this over any kind of thing. It's a shift to put it in personal terms from a Bernoulli to an epilogue to an epilogue. Now, again, we emerge right in the middle of this incredible transition and also in the monastic, all kinds of things were happening. It was a moment of dramatic shifts, et cetera. Also in this book of Knowles, his history. The great stirring of life in every field of mental activity that began to be visible in the 11th century made its first appearance in northern Italy and primarily in the great saints and reformers of the 11th century. This is where it begins. It's a church movement. These men, almost without exception, were monks. In the space of time, between the pontificate of Sylvester II and the death of St. Bernard,


is an epoch of reform and expansion of the monastic world. So this is looking at kind of the university, what's happening. But at the deeper level, what's happening is also a great transition of the monastic world from these large, kind of established, decadent black Benedictine houses to a renewal, a life, an authenticity. An entirely new spirit was beginning to make itself felt. Those whom it inspired aimed at a more austere and often an aramidical type of life. They found their directing principle either in the teaching of the fathers of the desert or a stricter interpretation of the rule of St. Benedict. Then he mentions maybe the foreigners of these were these Greek monks who were running around like Italy, up and down. Refugees from the Saracen invasions or those driven out of Asia Minor. But the leaders in their programs were Italian and the most eminent were the names of Romuald, John Walbert, and Peter Damien. And he goes into a whole discussion of Romuald. So this is another dimension. This is a kind of shifting from one mindset


to another. But the monastic goes within, goes in the desert to kind of work on all this, ponder it. And I think there's a wisdom here. As you go up within also the inner desert, you try to find a space where you can come to terms with what's really happening. Is it just going from truth to error or is it just going from superstition to enlightenment or what's happening? And I think this is a very enlightened thing to do. And I think it can be very much argued that in our own time there's been such a dominance of the mindset of the culture of, say, since the time of the enlightenment of science, analysis, logic, that whole mindset. And I think there is a sweep of the pendulum sometimes in rather, I don't know, dangerous ways back to an approach that is aware of mystery, is aware of the transcendent, the ineffable, et cetera. I don't know how many of you have heard that tape that Rosa has


of that woman doctor who was talking about the importance of science. But ultimately it's mystery and through faith and through abandoning yourselves to higher powers, elements of healing, certainly psychological and spiritual, and often also physical come out of there, that what we can do with science is extremely limited. Well, it can be argued, I think, that now there's this sweep back. Also, in Scripture, for instance, there's a real recovery of this whole method of exegesis. We see this a bit. But this is the method of Scripture itself. The way St. Paul reads the Old Testament isn't through analysis and dialectics and formal criticism, et cetera. It's seeing the exodus as type of the Christian community exiting from the slavery, sin, et cetera, Christ is the new Moses, et cetera. This is Paul's way of reading. This is legitimate. This isn't just doing violence to the Old Testament because the whole mindset of these people was such that a thing isn't just itself,


but it's a symbol of greater realities beyond what it can't even visualize. Lots of the most advanced hermeneuts today argue that this is true of poetry, this is true of the deepest thought. If I write a poem, my conscious mind isn't the ultimate criterion for what it means. It has an inner life and it generates creative responses, et cetera, that I can't foresee. And it extends, tends beyond itself to new fulfillments, et cetera. So we're going back there. We're going from reason to faith. I think we're going from Aristotle to Plato to faith. So here we are. I think lots of people in one way or another are interested in our life here or come here intuiting a bit this movement and again wanting to repeat the basic dynamic of a Romulus or a St. Peter Damian or Bruno or any of these people. That is to go within and with a deep encounter


with God figured out. I think movement in human physics these days is what needs to be moved back to the mystery. We can't understand it. We can't get to this smallest particle. That's right. And it might be ultimately all energy. Everything interconnected. There's a video in there about how the universe began and it's interviews with all these scientists. At last, it's just poetry. They don't know. They're just kind of groping towards the mystery of it all. David and Richard Cameron their opinions interest me. That's right. Absolutely. B. Griffiths does a lot with this. He says that in his marriage at least to the West, the East tends to maintain this heritage


and the West, this is technology and all this. This is more mystery. This, and then you get the wonderful typologies of Yuri Yanukovych or B. Griffith. This can be a more masculine left brain control analysis. This is a more right brain, more feminine, more intuitional, more contemplative. His thesis is that we very much need both of them. So we need the West to help the East out of terrible poverty and misery, etc. We very much need the East to help the West recover a sense of wonder and a sense of the eternal purpose of it all. And so if there's interest, the whole interest in the East kind of thing, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc. is part of this seeking to recover this. So that's, I think it's fascinating, again, that the Kamales are right in the heart of it. The Kamales don't just opt


for this side. As we'll see, there's a whole series of extremely important Kamaldalis monks who are humanist monks who are right at the avant-garde of a kind of a Christian humanism renaissance. So they want to incorporate the best of this and also open to this. And I think also today in a place like here, we're not anti-study. Monastic communities can get into that. Studies are dangerous, etc. But at their best, if they come out of a deep contemplative commitment and go back to that, they can be very a way, a vehicle. It's interesting that both Romuald and St. Peter Damian, the two giants of our early period, come out of a particular city. What is this city? Ravenna. And if you remember Thomas' sermon on Ravenna, he gave you a whole lesson on it. But Ravenna is an amazing city


that is very tied to Byzantium in the east. Nicholas just did a paper analyzing much the famous mosaics of the Ravenna churches. But historically, this is where the Byzantine Exarch lived. There was a real, almost autonomy of Ravenna relative to Rome. And one of the anti-popes came out of Ravenna. But at one point, Ravenna simply declared itself independent, etc. But there's a kind of a world that's very eastern. There's extremely important port there. And so there's a link up through trade to the whole eastern world, etc. Well, in this city, it's kind of, has this whole world of the mystagogical and typological. You're kind of formed, not just with what's said in the verbal and the linear, but what you see in these glorious mosaics, in this typological,


mystagogical that traces all this. The whole Old Testament seen as a prototype in preparation for the New Testament kind of thing. So, St. Romuald was formed in St. Apollinaire of Classe. And this is his glorious basilica filled with these murals, etc. Right at the center of the apse, for instance, is this bejeweled cross with Elijah and Moses. And it's the whole mystery of transfiguration, which is at the very center of the monastic, and which is the titular feast of Carmel etc. There's a glorious mosaic of paradise in Adam and Eve right there. It's a paradise very much human, very much you'd feel at home in kind of thing. And this is the idea of the monastic life as paradise regained. And Thomas Mattos has a lovely series of reflections on Ravenna as kind of the context out of which Romuald


and Peter Damian came. Romuald from a noble family, quite wealthy, and St. Peter Damian out of real poverty, so it's interesting. But also there, a very erudite scholarly, but also very mystagogical heritage. Thomas will argue that Romuald was very much shaped in Eastern monasticism. And that explains his kind of freewheeling charismatic approach to it. He doesn't fit neatly into a cenobitical monk or a hermit monk or a missionary monk. He's all of these things. It's the church before all these kind of pigeonholings, analytical mind takeover. He is sometimes called the last saint of the undivided church. Right after his death, the western church will be excommunicated, the eastern church will be excommunicated. St. Romuald is still reverenced by the eastern church. He's still


holding this together. And then the west will go much more in the line of Aristotle and not be able to understand the eastern church, which is very much more into the platonic. So you get a western rationalistic critique of hesychasm, for instance, and the whole polemic between Gregory of Palamas and the west. Anyway, we are trying to hold it together. We at our best have this reverence for the east, come out of the east, understand the east, but are also fully of the west. So that's at least the challenge. And this again also today, of the west but opening to the we, opening to the east, whether it be specifically of orthodoxy as the immediate dialogue or beyond that, the great religions of the east and thus the argument of someone like Plato said, to really understand the non-Christian east, it's best to journey through the Christian east. So, that's kind of the context.


Then specifically the Komaldele's spirit. I thought, again, this is a first introduction and then we'll get these heavyweights from the mother country who will come at the beginning of 90 to really form us all in this. I thought, first of all, to do a kind of five basic themes, five basic key values of Komaldele's life, and then to look in a more ongoing way at that brief rule of Subrahmanyu as a specific focus for the Komaldele's spirit. I think I have an extra copy of that. I'll give it to Kent while I'm printing this. We'll get you an extra copy. So, I think one place we can begin is an extremely felt and warm devotion to Christ.


I think this is important. I think this is the later Middle Ages at their best. If there's a danger to the whole Orthodox and Byzantium approach, it's Christ is the Pantocrator and he's right up there. Obviously, his divine nature is evident, but the Jesus who kind of walked the seas of Galilee and wept and was exhausted and sweat blood, etc., that's not always fully in evidence. If there's any danger in the East, it's towards the Descetic. Well, as the centuries pass in the West, there's recovery specifically of the humanity of Jesus. This is very rich in Bernard. This is very rich in Romuald and in the early Christian, in the early Catholic saints. And I think it's important, if you go into solitude, if it's not going to become dry and just kind of metaphysical and either a head trip or some kind of


exercise in fanaticism, I think there needs to be a focus of a warm, concrete flesh and blood of incarnation of God. In Hinduism, this would be something like the Bhakti approach. You need a focus of flesh and blood up to which to pour out your heart and love. And this is the true friend who is Christ. Here's a text, for instance, from the Life of St. Romuald by St. Peter Damian, chapter 31. And this isn't against an apophatic contemplative prayer, but it comes out of this prayer and then it leads back into this prayer. St. Peter Damian writes, Often, in fact, the contemplation of God caught Romuald up so fully that he broke out in tears and, aflame with the ineffable ardor of divine love, cried out, Sweet Jesus, beloved, honey to my mouth, ineffable desire, sweetness of the saints, wonder of the angels, and other similar expressions. But what


he uttered under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit we cannot express in human language. Almost a charismatic Romuald in the kind of more ancient, eastern sense, filled with the Spirit, but it's a Spirit that's also focused on the humanity of Jesus, who's a source of much affection and ardor. Bernard will be seeing is called the mellifluous doctor, that is the doctor, the honey doctor, because the word of God and Christ is honey in his mouth, as the psalm says. And it is a very apophatic, but it's also therefore focused on the word of God that is summed up in Christ. When Romuald has this breakthrough into mystical union with God, it takes also the form of seeing the deeper significance of Scripture, how it all fits together in one glorious kind of providential event. Again in chapter 31, while he


prayed the psalms, he came to this verse, I will give you wisdom and will instruct you on the way. He began to weep for joy, and thereafter was illumined in understanding of the deep meaning of Scriptures. So he's a man of, rather like Simeon the New Theologian, lots of light and lots of sweetness here, and specifically it's a biblical and a Jesus-centered devotion. This goes into the second. This is, as it were, is the kind of vertical thrust that's very incarnate. Then the kind of a horizontal bond that keeps this free-wheeling First Kemalist community together, which is very diverse people, is this bond of friendship. One of the classics of our literature is St. Peter Damian's Life of St. Romuald. Another is St. Boniface of Querfurt's


Life of the Five Brothers. This is a very early classic, written some 20 years before Romuald's death. St. Boniface was a disciple of Romuald, and then he, filled with his ardor for martyrdom, he becomes a monastic missionary in the North and is martyred along with the Five Brothers that he writes about. But in his Life of the Five Brothers, one of the themes noted is the theme of friendship. For instance, Boniface writes of one of his co-monks, Benedict, "'Blessed Benedict called me by the privilege of love, dear brother. I embraced him as one half of my soul.'" Now, this is the platonic definition of friendship. This is the central value of the platonic and Aristotelian Greco-Roman society, is friendship. And this flows into early and later monasticism. Father Aylerett just did


a review on a book of friendship in the Middle Ages, if you look at Blackfriars, and he traces this theme, as does this book of friendship. Well, it flourishes out, as he notes, in the Camaldolese heritage. We're not kind of just cold fish, each in his private cell, but there is this bond of friendship there. And this continues in our heritage through our great giants like Paul Giustiniani or Traversari, right down to the present. And again, it says, the true friend is Christ, and so we are all friends, one of another. So it's intrinsically bonded together. So that's what holds us into one. But it's not a kind of a uniformity, because it is in Christ, and you know, in Christ's body, there are many members, this kind of thing. And in friends, there's respect and love of the other precisely as other. There's not the requirement that the other be like me. So Camaldolese has this amazing reality of pluralism.


I think it's our characteristic note. Some say that what characterizes us is a hermitage, but you know, the Carthusians have hermitages, and the Franciscans have hermitages. But what we really have is an amazing pluralism that Carthusians don't have, that the other congregation of the Camaldolese, who are much later and breakaway dissidents. There's this amazing range of forms of monastic life, from the hermitage above, the monastery, rural monastery below, the urban monastery, the farm, for instance, Camaldoli, little experimental communities up in northern Italy, etc. And then in the hermitage, you have everything from a life that involves much more community, as in the formation period, to a life that involved quite a bit more solitude, to temporary occlusion, to permanent occlusion. But again, that's what the Carthusians don't have. That's what the


other congregation, I can't even remember their name. No, Monte Corona. They don't have that either. The Carmelites, I don't think, have it. They have their Carmel brief periods of solitude. But I don't think they have recluses, certainly not me. That's right, yeah, very interesting experiment. And some Franciscan communities now are recovering their hermitical heritage. St. Francis has a rule for hermits, etc. But it's a temporary experience. But it is a lovely experience. But we go the whole distance from also the missionary heritage, to the urban monastery, almost from the very beginning, to the rural, to permanent reclusion, which is kind of the original charism of the desert that continues. So this is what our little family is trying to hold together. And then I think, witness to the other congregations. We just had a very intense dialogue


debate with this older Jesuit who wanted to come here. And our basic, after much discernment of his letters and dialogue with him, he's basically a Jesuit. And the tragedy is there's no space in the Jesuits for someone at a certain moment to go from a more communal life to more solitary. Because he argued that within the charism itself there's this thrust to a more solitary and contemplative. That's very beautiful. It's just that they don't allow space for it. So they assume, well, at a certain point I should be able to become a commandmise. But we're not here to allow space for the Jesuits and Dominicans and Franciscans who want a little more solitude and contemplation. They should do that. So that's our struggle now. Because the monastic approach to solitude is not precisely the Jesuit, not precisely the Franciscan, etc. So the modern congregations get locked into a particular cubbyhole and it might work great for 20, 30, 40 years but for a lifetime at our best what we offer


is a diversity that many say is extremely important as a challenge to the other congregations, men's and especially women's. A woman can get locked into a nursing order and after 30 or 40 years of nursing she's just exhausted. Or teaching, you know, teaching elementary kids for 45 years can get a little exhausting. there's this Barbara Hazard we were just discussing. She was of this modern congregation, Holy Names, and she wanted to go into a more contemplative thing and they forced her out of the order. Though she was in final vows saying, you're not being loyal to our charism. So she had to become a Benedictine and now she's starting again as it were. Well, that shouldn't be. So at its best we want to witness to pluralism because in the community there'll be different people in different places and in the journey of a person's life there'll be moments when that person might need much more urban


experience, much more communal, much more rural. And it can go from the rural back to the urban. It can go from the reclusion into mission, etc. There's not a rigorous pre-established you've got to go in this direction only. I think we have three basic spaces to date of the monastery for her original inclusion. Now for the first time we didn't have this in the States. We didn't have a monastic for a long time. This was a bit of a limit but now we do. And that's our presence in the community. But what this wants to witness to is now it's a community and usually that's important but we also encourage it. Then we have the church as our constitution says isn't like the it's a midpoint between the civilian and the occlusion. A middle way like


ancient Laura, the desert, the region, and the Palestine. But then that's also open to reclusion, temporary reclusion. Period. But I think what we're arguing that each person, each baptized Christian and each community, each parish there ought to be these dimensions. There ought to be the communal the warm fellowship we support each other. But there also needs to be a balance between this Christian solitude. Then there needs to be moments of intense of God-only first remembrance. And we can do an apology of Christ in all things there because the incarnate Lord encounters us, calls us, makes us community, makes us part of Christ enables us to be communion. But the spirit of draws Christ in the desert


and out it's in the desert that we are removed. And then the spirit of Christ in the spirit of the Father, which is that ultimate ineffable of history. How many of you have seen this film of Abba Shukdananda? She's almost obsessed with this thing of the one, the ultimate, the beyond. Where that in classical Trinitarian is out of the Father the ineffable. You can't present the iconography, the Bible name, etc. It's just you go in there and that's what the requisite cell is all about. So through Christ in the spirit of the Father. And then to return from there to if Abba Shukdananda has a limit I think, when he's too fixated on the ineffable one, the beyond. It's that he loses his Trinitarian


dynamic. It's the one in three. It's the only ultimate in the dialectic of the community of persons. It's as Pankaj says, it's blessed simplicity but also creative diversity. Hopefully in our life there's all this. And so the challenges of this conversion, the challenge of Father Joseph to us, and us to Father Joseph, etc. So hopefully it's a dynamic of mutual nourishment and enrichment comments, reflections. So these are three key values and next time you can see two other values that come right out of this. That is liberty of spirit and finally solitude. As a certain a characteristic


is how we understand that. And each of these elements I think is to be understood in the key of Agape in a very affectionate, lived, felt love that one relates to Christ. It's in the same love that one bonds one to another. And this love equals pluralism. You don't have to be like me. True union differentiates to the other, it says. In the most profound unity that other isn't absorbed in any kind of oppressive thing, but is deepened in that other's uniqueness kind of thing. So the monastery doesn't dominate the hermitage or vice versa, but the monastery reverences the hermitage and vice versa. Inclusion is supported by the hermitage. This is the bond of love and diversity. Union and diversity. And that also flows again into specifically liberty of spirit in whatever these spaces are not the law


but freedom of spirit. And it is love that solitude is all about. So we'll cover these two next and then we'll look specifically at St. Romero's Rule. So be meditating that and I will give a printed copy of that. It's a very simple deep document. It's what we call Grazie. Well, next week, maybe we'll have to switch to Wednesday. Try to keep Wednesday evening free. It depends on last week. You're better right now.