Monastic Life in the XXIst Century: Finding an Equilibrium Between a Life of Prayer, Work and Leisure

 

Dr. Michelina Tenace

1. The Monastic Life is Reanimated by Tradition and Suffocated by ‘traditions’! 

In the history of the Church, and every society, there is a constant tension: an over-attachment to ‘traditions’ suffocates, while knowledge and love of ‘Tradition’ inspires creativity. We tend to justify our forgetfulness of the great Tradition, whose content is life-giving, on account of the fact that “traditions can be distracting.”[1]

It sometimes happens that a religious Order’s General Chapter strives more to maintain its ‘traditions,’ than rediscover the Tradition. First of all, authority —without too many questions asked—ought to guarantee an indefectible fidelity to an immutable tradition. Thus, superiors are convinced “that authority—in the first place—ought to safeguard the values of the past by maintaining them without alteration and adaptation to the times.” [2]

Today the Church is asking us to respond to the signs of the times and to propose new ways of living the Christian faith. Faith is alive and makes us alive. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, faith is creative.

“Sometimes we think that fidelity and tradition are opposed to creativity. The Church’s great Tradition, however, tells us the opposite: faith makes us think; faith makes us speak;” in brief, one cannot be faithful without creativity, since faith makes us creative.[3]

Therefore, the first point is: in order to respond to the question about how to maintain an equilibrium between the many antinomies within the monastic life, we do not have to create formulae, but simply rediscover the one source! Rather, the many sources. The force of revitalization of a spiritual reality —which is the religious community—is sustained by many founts: fidelity, creativity, profoundity, concreteness.

The charism requires a creative fidelity.

Profoundity is necessary today, because the actual problem of the consecrated life is not merely a question of exterior forms, but is something that regards the very identity of the religious community and thus its purpose and mission.

The call that we hear in community does not correspond to the fashionableness of being ‘original.’  In the monastic life, what does it mean to be original? It means to be faithful to the origin of my life, to the origin of my Christian existence, to the origin of my fundamental vocation, to the origin of my very person. When I am faithful to my vocation, I’m original, in the way every saint is original and distinct!

Often one thinks that to be original means to invent something new, something which never existed before in history. From this point of view, there is the temptation to arrogance and pride. Only Jesus Christ is absolutely new upon the earth and this newness is defined by its eternal duration. We are new only inasmuch as we become more and more Christ-like.

An original newness does not negate the creativity that everyone must possess in order to respond to holiness. Originality is the foundation of diversity.

Instead when we want to change our course of action in merely an external manner, we are not doing anything ‘original,’ but merely a ‘trick’ (maquillage – makeup). It is a deceitful or false way of being and acting, which creates only division and contrasting opinions.

Creativity, fidelity, profoundity go together. They ought to appear together in our discourses on the concrete structure and style of our life, on its forms of government. “This new life comes to us from the Resurrection. It is a gift of the Spirit, a gift of our baptism and the task of our consecration, for which the rebirth of any reality is impossible without a Paschal life, which is spiritual and authentic.” [4]

  

2. The Monastic Life of XXIst Century Overcomes the Opposition between Active and Contemplative Life

In the history of the consecrated, religious and monastic life, the active life and contemplative life were spoken of too easily as if it were possible to separate the love of prayer and works of charity or to separate the ascesis of solitude and the ascesis of community.

It is still commonly regarded as such. Some orders are held to be contemplative, others active. Those, who refer to Mary at the feet of Jesus, are admired for having the courage to choose the “better part.” Those, who refer themselves to Martha—with a sense of inferiority under certain aspects and with a sense of superiority under certain other aspects—are drawn to the better part, which –according to Saint Paul– is charity!

Thus, as regards an understanding of the Gospel, one vocation privileges prayer (contemplation) and the other—service (action). The contemplatives have time for long liturgies and the divine office; the active ones have time for pastoral organizations that include vocations, young people, families, the sick— in a word, for all categories of those in need of charity as indicated by their charism.

But this situation does not correspond to the truth of the Gospel and communities that have lived this distortion are dying, both the contemplative and the active. In active communities, the nuns are leaving and saying that there is too much work and too little time for prayer, and not enough space for the formation of an interior life. Their demands are interpreted by the “active” as laziness, as if prayer could be an act of sloth. One can recall the words of a Jewish poet on prayer: prayer is a species of “labour,” the work of a saint is done “with a certain heaviness of head.” To pray is “to listen in front of the doors of silence.”[5] To give glory to God is “heavy” (the etymology of the word “glory” in Hebrew is “weight”).

Rather, it must be said that every fruitful Christian, who is active in contemplation is contemplative in action, since he/she puts the very same love of God into action, which has been first contemplated and experimented.

From this point of view, there is no diversity between the religious orders. There is a unique vocation—baptism; a unique faith that works in charity; a unique hope that sees and contemplates the face of God.

The distinction of the states of life (a typical expression of the Latin Church) refers to the profoundity of means used in order to live the universal Christian vocation. The distinction of the charisms refers to the richness of the one living organism in its various manifestations of charity.

The separation of action and contemplation leads to something worse: there can be an atheistic contemplation (symbolically—the scribes) and an atheistic action (the Pharisees). The source joins prayer and action together; grace that comes only from God, the truth of the relation and authenticity found in listening to the word.

There is true opposition rather between those who live and enjoy the presence of the Lord and those who do not notice His presence. The latter do not frequent it when alone, nor taste any nostalgia or expectation of it. In this way, one can even arrive at crucifying it in false prayer or false action, or a false pharisaical religiosity.

 

An Acquired Harmony: Solitude–Community

It is important to find space and time for prayer; to find silence from words, from concepts or images; to retreat in solitude. The need to withdraw is connected with the demands of a contemplative life. There is need felt among nuns to experience the eremitic life and solitude in order “to pray.” This demand must be understood and appraised. At times, however, we need to discern the true reason for this request. Sometimes, it is simply the need for peace, rest and distance. The authentic sense of the desert should not arise from the burden of labour, nor from the weight of community life with our brothers and sisters. The time and space of the desert is offered as an occasion to face the true questions of life and faith. It is an occasion for spiritual warfare, a test of faith, so that Christ can conquer the passions and illusions of an unauthentic life. One goes into the desert to be exposed to the light that God throws in the heart. This test can be faced only with serious discernment made together with one’s superior and spiritual director.

In the normal course of things, it is important to remember how Christ acts. Those who encounter Him are always sent back to the community as a requirement for living out all the commandments: to give testimony, to announce, to love, to pardon, to give life; in brief, to have communion with the Holy Spirit, Who renders us children. The presupposition is that to live as siblings means to have touched the essence of being a child—the re-vivification of the “interior man.” This is the summit! Perhaps St. Basil considered life in the desert to be an easier mode of life than in community, since the vocation of every human person is to communion, which is the greater calling, demanding more effort and greater holiness.

 

Conclusion

The opposition between action and contemplation is not Christian. It is not from the Gospel. It reflects a wrong way of seeing action by confusing it with an ecclesial species of busyness and contemplation as a dolce far niente (sweet idleness). Missionary action is born from contemplation, from “seeing God in all things” (an expression of St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of an active order—the Jesuits). The contemplation of the mystic is the ability to see the action of God and to participate in it. “Contemplative in action” could be the motto of a religious, who spends his/her life in works of charity and “active in contemplation” the motto of a monk or nun.

 

3 – Finding an Equilibrium between Zeal for Labour and Care of the Person

We tend to read Chapter 11 of Genesis very superficially. It’s about the tower of Babel. The people, all speaking the same language, are joined in one grand plan— to reach the dwelling of God. God, however, doesn’t like the plan. So God punishes the people by destroying their work and dispersing them throughout the earth. He prevents them from communicating with one another through the confusion of languages. But what is the sense of the story?

We listen to the words of Jesus: “Do you believe that those of the tower of Babel were worse sinners than all others? No, I tell you; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (cfr. Lc 13, 5).

How can we understand this message from Scripture? Chronologically, the flood and Noah’s ark preceed the tower. Noah’s sons had focused on an edifice “of fire-bricks and cement,” on the construction of a city with a tower whose top would reach into heaven (Gn. 11, 1-4). The goal was one of “making a name for ourselves; lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth” (Gn 11, 4). From their common labour they awaited glory and unity—an apparent good.

But some indications lead us to understand that all this took place in a sinful context: “make a name for ourselves” expresses the will to give themselves an identity and not to receive it from God, but to construct it with hard work and consent of the multitude. Labour was of supreme value.

In some Jewish narratives,[6] we find that the tower of Babel required very much human energy. It became so high that “to reach the top, one needed an entire year.” This edifice was pleasing to all, but in particular to those responsible: “in the eyes of the constructors a fire-brick became more precious than a human being. If a man fell and died, nobody paid any attention, but if a fire-brick fell everyone cried out because it took one year to replace it.” [7]

For whom was all this labour? The anonymous community consisting of everyone and no one; namely, all those humans, whose will contrasts that of God’s. In this segment of humanity, the power to construct a grand edifice is delusional—the glorification of work. “If it is not understood as serving the Omnipotent, then people are nothing more than an extension of that delusion, which pushes them into the sad herd—the masses.”[8]

In the collection of Ginzberg (“legends” drawn from midrash literature), one can read that the constructors of the edifice of Babylon “were so occupied with the completion of their work that they did not allow the women to cause any interruption in the manufacturing of fire-bricks even if they went into labour. They gave birth, while making the fire-bricks.” [9]

Once again, the same idea is repeated: the fire-bricks are more important than the mystery of life and birth; the continuation of work appears more important than growing in personal relationships. The cost of the plan is known in the amount of hours, days and years of labour, but value of human life, a gesture of kindness, an act of charity are not recognised anymore. There is no more time for relationships. It takes a year to replace a fallen fire-brick. To replace a man fallen in the void of love, one needs years of therapy, centuries of expectation and, finally, one needs the passion of the Son of God abandoned on the cross.

Zeal for work, however, had replaced zeal for the human person and hatred of God had made space for the religion of death. It is told that at the top of the tower of Babel, the rebellious wanted to erect idols constructed by them, to introduce weapons of combat in the sky and to usurp the place of God. “The constructors had never relented the pace of labour and, from that vertiginous height, they ceaselessly shot arrows towards heaven, which—when falling back down—seemed covered in blood. Thus, they were more and more obstinate in their illusion and exclaimed: “We have killed all the inhabitants of the heaven.”[10]

Work, by which humanity glorifies itself, demands human sacrifices and, thus, also sacrifices their Creator—God. These arrows, launched from the top to strike God, were falling down covered in blood, evoking to the Christian mind the death of the crucified Son of God, Who poured out His “divine” blood, because of the political and religious zeal of the men in power, supported by the crowd.

The warning for religious life is not in vain. In community, one can lose faith in God, faith in the resurrection and can pierce the heart of God in many ways. One can also “kill” God from the top of those very works that were meant to glorify Him.

Frequently, the documents of the Magisterium on consecrated life invite us to reflect on work and activism in religious communities.

The “great work,” while uniting forces, risks the division between persons. The “great work” carries the real and “not merely the hypothetical danger of polarization within common life.” [11]

Even authorized work can threaten relations within a community. Members of the same community consider each other as if they were “merely collaborators” not companions[12] and similarly the religious house becomes “a place of residency, an agglomerate of subjects, each with their own individual story, but no fraternal community in Christ.” [13] The congregation is managed like a multinational and assumes the social models of management and administration. “Those who are called to govern become “administrators;”  and brothers and sisters become “staff”. I have met general superiors whose offices reminded me of multinational corporations. The General Superior becomes CEO (Chief Executive Officer). General Chapters are for establishing objectives and estimating results. Everything must be measurable, and the measure is—above all else—money […], superiors, however, should show our communities how to take a risk, not always choosing the sure option; how to have confidence in younger members, accepting frailty and vulnerability. Open the windows to the unforeseeable grace of God. In this culture of control, the religious life should be an ecological niche of freedom. Not a freedom for those who impose their will, but rather to give oneself over to the ever-present innovation of God. Leadership (the superiors) ought to hold the doors and windows of our dwellings open to the Spirit, for “you do not know from whence it comes or whither it goes; so is it with every one who is born of the Spirit” (Jn 3, 8).” [14]

As in the Tower of Babel, a project can camouflage evil beneath the idea of the common good that unites, but can blind as well. On that occasion, God saved us by dispersing us. He gave us an another opportunity to find ourselves in Him anew by rediscovering in Him an another form of unity between us. The rabbinic commentaries say that as soon as God confused the languages, the builders became angry and the workers ceased to communicate. The project was in danger and many people perished through lack of communication. Those who survived were dispersed throughout the earth. In the future, however, they would speak the language of God and find a unity by communicating “with the language that God used to create the world.”[15]

The true response to the Babel parable is Pentecost, which revealed that the language of God is the Holy Spirit, Who descended in the form of “tongues of fire” (Acts 2,3) and what glorifies Him is fraternal communion. “The church entrusts to the consecrated community the special task of nurturing the spirituality of fellowship.”[16] Religious communities should be “experts in fellowship (…) in the fellowship project at the summit of human history in accordance with the will of God”.[17]

 

4 – The Wisdom of the Beatitudes: Being Creative in Today’s Monastic Life

The Wisdom of the Beatitudes

If Moses with the ten commandments taught humanity how to live and behave on earth, Jesus with the beatitudes has shown us “the way which leads to eternal life, to the heavenly Fatherland.”[18]

Poverty, the peace of a pure heart, the joy of accomplishing Love’s will, isn’t this the face of Christian life? Love is a gift that comes down from on high and is consecrated when it asks for the grace to offer itself. It is above all the grace of an inner knowledge of God’s gifts, since “one fully realizes that in all things one can love and serve,” as Ignatius of Loyola often said (E 233).

The Epistle of the Apostle James presents an exhortation apt for religious life: an invitation to joy, perseverance and an intergral perfection. It describes a life experienced as “blessed.” It is a prophecy on the law of freedom that confers happiness on all who practice it (James 1, 2-3). In this epistle, we also find warnings that closely concern “anyone thinks himself to be religious” (James 1, 26). These indications include the discernment between secular wisdom and the wisdom which comes down from on high. The former is compared to the beatitudes: “Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good life let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.  But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This “wisdom” is not such as comes down from heaven, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity. And the harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3, 13-18).

 

The Wisdom of the Pure of Heart

The wisdom that comes down from on high is pure; indeed, it is the beatific pureness of a heart that sees God. “If God is life, then one who does not see Him does not see life.”[19] A purified heart sees God in every person and in all things. The superior—if he believes—is there to merely aid the light that each person carries within. If he accepts the mystery of the light that shines in the darkness, he will support the person, who is maturing in the knowledge of God through conversion and penance, “which casts out the darkness of ignorance and bestows upon man divine wisdom.”[20]

Inasmuch as the reign of God is in the heart (cfr. Lk 17, 21), thus, he who possesses a pure heart, possesses wisdom and the kingdom of God, and is able “to see his own inner beauty, the image of the divine nature.”[21] The beatitude of the pure of heart bears the two marks of Wisdom: to see God signifies a knowledge of His transcendent nature and the fact of seeing through the heart signifies that this transcendence is accessible to those whose lives are lived according to divine nature.

“Do not deprive me ever, O my God, of the joy of contemplating your face, neither now, nor in eternal life. For you are not only my God, but also all goodness that you grant to all who contemplate You. All of your goodness fills them with light, and in this way you are communicated to all, who communicated with you. This is not only in the future, but also now in this earthly life. And to those who are worthy, you grant the possibilty to see you, not through the imagination nor simply by thought, but in the truth of Your divine existence, for the perfect fulfillment of the divine economy.”[22]

 

The Wisdom to Live as the Children of God

The wisdom which comes from on high brings peace, since peace is a title of the Son of God.[23] “He is our peace… through Him we have access to the Father through the One Spirit (Ef 2, 14.18). Peace is a good that comes from God and as His gift, it is to be respected, nourished and defended by renouncing all thoughts that create hostility, war, violence and injustice. Peace—as a gift of Wisdom—begins when the passions are defeated at their roots, especially the passion for power. Patriarch Atenagoras writes that once “I’m disarmed of the tendency to justify myself at the expense of others, I’m not on guard, jealously clinging to my riches. I’m able to receive and share. I’m not particularly bound to my ideas and plans. When something better is presented to me, I eagerly accept it. Thus I am not afraid anymore. When there is no possession, there is no fear.”[24] When there is no fear, peace becomes possible.

 

The Wisdom of Knowing How to Abide in Love

The wisdom which comes from on high is meek and amenable. Meekness is the opposite of anger. St. Gregory of Nyssa describes it as “stability in faith.” “Meekness withstands violence and rash behaviour… blessed are the stable.”[25] Stability is the trait of those who abide in love. Stability of faith is shown in judgments, gestures and especially words: “When the soul, through the perception of truth, feels drunk and ecstatic on account of this chalice of grace, this most excellent chalice, obviously then it is time to remain silent.”[26] The lack of stability in faith generates anger and spite, even homicidal judgments within the community. The word that should bless, condemns; rather than giving one’s life, one’s brother is killed; rather than revealing the powers of the soul, one exposes his wounds. In our communities, the word has become an instrument of aggression. Freedom of speech justifies violence and arrogance. In communities, the word has become an instrument to empty the most holy things of their content. Even dialogue has become a weapon in aid of the powerful. Thus, the value of silence in the monastic tradition regards the wisdom of inner peace: “he who preserves his tongue from speaking evil, keeps his heart safe from the passions. And he who purifies his heart from the passions, contemplates the Lord at all times.”[27]

 

Thus Blessed are Those Who Strive to be in the Image of the Merciful God

The wisdom that comes from on high is rich in mercy. “Merciful is the name that should be given to God alone” and the one who is merciful “resembles God,” becomes like unto God.[28] Forgiveness is pleasing to the wise. Forgiveness is part of the community’s spiritual progress and witnesses to the new life of its members; a life bestowed over and over again, for everytime the Lord forgives, He heals and recreates communion. He who has been forgiven and forgives without looking for consolation and understanding for himself, but communicates a new wisdom of life — mercy. The consolation comes from participation in the Comforter, which is a gift of the Spirit and not a moral virtue.

 

Blessed are the Rich… in Faith and Humility

Wisdom—which comes from on high— is fruitful. It is a fecundity in sanctity, since there is no other aspiration, nor other proof of divine wisdom.

Wisdom is fruitful according to its spiritual paternity-maternity[29] and its knowledge of the heart (cardiognosia), which is its most charismatic aspect.[30] It forms a vision of the person, coinciding with God’s vision of that person at the moment of his/her creation.

Wisdom is fruitful in love and is the root of sonship. It is fecund in significance, because it holds the root of knowledge for interpreting events, trials and crosses. It is fruitful in “common sense,” intended for the common life, where different cultures and experiences of God are woven together, where various charisms flow into one charism. It is fruitful in beauty and goodness. The superior is a steward of life, not death; just as a gardener takes care of plants and not worms, or as the mother enjoys the progress and growth of her children and does not give up in the face of diseases that may afflict her family.

Wisdom is fruitful, since it helps one see that every human person is a child called to salvation and gazes upon him/her in the beautiful light of redemption.

Wisdom is fruitful in everlasting life, since “keeping the Lord’s Commandments and faith in Jesus Christ are everlasting riches.”[31]  The truly rich is he, who “preserves humility of spirit together with faith.”[32] He is full of wisdom, who lives according to charity: “how much wisdom there is in acting charitably!”[33]

 

5 – Monastic Life in the XXIst Century: The Creative Places of a Living Community

The Refectory: A Symbol of Creativity in Common Meals and Convivality

Creativity has food as a symbol: the way of remaining together at table, eating and speaking. This also reflects our relation to the body, caring for our health without any fears or superficiality. A sobriety at every external manifestation; a beauty, which is God’s splendor; and the joy to live.

 

The Cloister: A Symbol of Creativity Based on the Gratuity of Relations

Creativity has for a symbol the relation to leisure and to a space, which serves no function. Walks within this space ensure the gratuity of meeting the other and the benefit that comes from contact with nature. Special attention should be given to the gratuity of relations and not all of them need be in service of something. Time spent together is not time lost. To stay creative one needs an hour a day alone and inactive!

 

The Library: A Symbol of Recognizing the Testimony of Others

Creativity comes from study, from interest in what others have lived, wrote and said. It teaches us to consider the thoughts and syntheses of others. In studying, we have a concrete topic upon which to meet, a precise occasion for exploration, to share not only what we think and feel subjectively, but what we have understood and are looking for as a response to faith.

 

The Chapel: A Symbol of Our Being Liturgical Persons in Everything

The mode of celebration reveals the vitality and health of a community. But also churches, chapels, images, flowers and behavior… Beauty is the heart of revelation. Thus, the liturgy is the heart of the manifestation of our being new creatures.

 

The Road: A Symbol of Space and Time for Recollection

One place and time for increased creativity, available often to religious, is travel. What one does, what one reads, time on the train, in the car, on a plane, in airports… How much time to read, to write, to reflect (not sinking into nothingness), to take a moment for deep prayer of the heart, for spiritual exercises in the heart…. A trip should not be taken unprepared, it should be approached as a spiritual exercise…

 

Conclusion

The Monastic Life as Life in Christ

If the religious life is justified only from the benefit of a moral lifestyle, from the benefit of virtues put in service for good works, it would express a merely human wisdom that could be questioned and replaced by other forms of wisdom.

In the spirit of wisdom, the deeds of a believer participate in God’s work, which is salvation history, in the spirit of Christ, since all the treasures of wisdom are attributed to Christ: “For in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or dominations or authorities — all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Col. 1, 16-17).

Christ reveals the unity of creation and of humanity with God. In Him, two kinds of Wisdom were united: divine Wisdom and human Wisdom.

“And what is even more pathetic is that the vain, natural wisdom of this world compels one to judge the Divine according to human standards. Many people treat prayer in an inverted way, thinking that it is one’s efforts and the preparatory steps that give rise to prayer that count, rather than the prayer itself giving birth to good works and all the virtues… Many good works are required of a Christian, but it is prayer that must come first and foremost, for without prayer no other good work can be performed and one cannot find the way to the Lord. Truth cannot be acquired, the flesh with its passions and lusts cannot be crucified, the heart cannot be filled with the light of Christ and united with Him unless these are preceded by frequent prayer.”[34]

Wisdom that expresses the Christian life arises from liturgical action. The word and human action have an efficiency in relation to God because it puts anew the original harmony. It brings about an efficiency of the relation between God and man and not a magic action from the human side; the believer makes a commitment with a word, blesses with a word, dominates creation by the Creator’s will, who gives man the authority over all existing things.

Everyone’s vocation consists in making shine the divine life that God has given to each person. “Those who haven’t seen this light haven’t seen God — for God is light!”[35] But how does God “change darkness into light,” asks the holy monk of the light, Simeon the New Theologian. “Who can explain to me in what way darkness (man) is able to receive in himself the shining light (God) without eliminating this darkness (man)? This is one of God’s mysteries revealed to us. The mystery of God that has taken on himself my body and has granted to me his spirit, making me god by adoption and his true son.”[36]

Prayer has thus a primary role in the monastic life: it is “exercise of the faith” that “always reminds us of the primacy of Christ and, in relation to him, the primacy of the inner life and sanctity. When this principle is not respected, one should not be surprised when the pastoral (or community) projects fall down and leave in the soul a humiliated sense of frustration?”[37]


[1] A. Moreira, La memoria pericolosa di Gesù Cristo in una società post-tradizionale, Concilium 35 (1999), 4.

[2] R. Hostie, Autorità, in Dizionario degli Istituti di Perfezione, vol. I, ed. Paoline, Roma 1974, 1002.

[3] B. Sesboüé, Saint Basile et la Trinité. Un acte théologique au IVe siècle, ed. Desclée, Paris 1998, 252.

[4]Cfr. J. Arnaiz, Crisi di obbedienza o crisi di autorità? Problematiche e compiti attuali del governo religioso, in Aa. Vv., Guidare la comunità religiosa. L’autorità in tempo di rifondazione, ed. Ancora, Milano, 2001, 23ss..

[5] C. Vigée,  Le sens de la prière en Israël, in N. Nabert (sous la direction de), Le chant des profondeurs, ed. Salvator, Paris 2007, 121 and 137.

[6] These narratives derived from Sacred Scripture have: “il compito di dare alimento all’ingegno così come all’anima, all’intelletto così come alla fantasia.” L. Ginzberg, Prefazione, in Le leggende degli Ebrei¸ vol.I, ed. Aldephi, Milano 1995, p. 17-18. Ginzberg writes that of the Hebrew legends contained in his books, the rabbinical writings constitute the starting point. They are, therefore, particularly important in understanding the pages of the Old Testament, which the canonical text of the Christian Bible gives little indication.

[7] L. Ginzberg, Le leggende degli Ebrei, vol. I, Dalla creazione al diluvio, ed. Adelphi, Milano 1995, 170.

[8] C. Sgorlon, Racconti della terra di Canaan, Mondadori, Milano 1989, 171.

[9] L. Ginzberg, Le leggende degli Ebrei, vol. I, Dalla creazione al diluvio, ed. Adelphi, Milano 1995, 170.

[10] L. Ginzberg, Le leggende degli Ebrei, vol. I, Dalla creazione al diluvio, ed. Adelphi, Milano 1995, 170.

[11] Vita fraterna in comunità, n. 48.

[12] E. N. Degrez, Ignace, Xavier et Pierre Favre: amis dans le Seigneur, in Vies Consacrées, 78 (2006), p. 99.

[13] Vita fraterna in comunità, n. 50.

[14] T. Radcliffe, Congresso Internazionale sulla Vita Consacrata, Centro Internazionale ‘Ergife Palace’, Roma, 23 – 27 novembre 2004.

[15] L. Ginzberg, Le leggende degli Ebrei, vol. I, Dalla creazione al diluvio, ed. Adelphi, Milano 1995,p. 171. Vi è “un’opinione diffusa in alcune cerchie ebraiche e cristiane, secondo cui la lingua primigenia sarebbe stato l’aramaico”. L. Ginzberg, Note, in Ibid., 386.

[16] Vita consecrata, n. 51.

[17] Vita consecrata, n. 46.

[18] Cromazio di Aquilea, Sermon, 39 (fragmenti) in Sermons, Sources Chrétiennes 164, Paris 1971, 217.

[19] Grégoire de Nysse, Les Béatitudes, ed. Migne, coll. Les Pères dans la foi, Paris 1995, 82.

[20] Syméon le Nouveau Théologien, Traités théologiques et éthiques, SC 122 (1966), 119.

[21] Cfr. Grégoire de Nysse, Les Béatitudes, ed. Migne, coll. Les Pères dans la foi, Paris 1995, 82.

[22] The prayer of St. Symeon the Theologian, in Syméon le Nouveau Théologien, Hymnes 55, SC 196, Paris 1973, 255.

[23] “Beati gli operatori di pace perché saranno chiamati figli di Dio” Mt 5,9. Gregorio di Nissa commenta: “Se vedere Dio è un bene che non ha paragone, il diventare figli di Dio è assolutamente al di sopra di ogni felicità”. Grégoire de Nysse, Les Béatitudes, ed. Migne, coll. Les Pères dans la foi, Paris 1995, 92.

[24] Aa., Vv., La pace, dono e profezia, ed. Qiqajon, Magnano 1991, p.100.

[25] Grégoire de Nysse, Les Béatitudes, ed. Migne, coll. Les Pères dans la foi, Paris 1995, p. 43 e 46.

[26] Callisto Cataphygiota, L’unione divina, 65, in Filocalia IV, p. 445.

[27] Isacco il Siro citato in Callisto e Ignazio Xanthopouli, Metodo e canone rigoroso, paragrafo F., in Filocalia IV, p. 175.

[28] Grégoire de Nysse, Les Béatitudes, ed. Migne, coll. Les Pères dans la foi, Paris 1995, p. 70.

[29] Cfr. M. Rupnik, Paternità spirituale: un cammino regale per l’integrazione personale, in Nel fuoco del roveto ardente, ed. Lipa, Roma 2003, 74-111.

[30] T. Špidlik, La “kardiognosia” nell’insegnamento di Serafim, in Aa. V.v., San Serafin da Sarov a Diveevo, Atti del IV convegno ecumenico internazionale di spiritualità russa, Da Sarov a Diveevo. San Serafim e il rifiorire del monachesimo in Russia nel XIX secolo, Bose 18-21 settembre 1996, pubblicato, ed. Qiqajon, Bose, 1998, 194.

[31] Cromazio di Aquilea, Sermone, V,5 in Sermons, SC 154, Paris 1969, 173.

[32] Cromazio di Aquilea, Sermone, V,5 in Sermons, SC 154, Paris 1969, 173.

[33] Quarto racconto, in Racconti di un Pellegrino russo, ed. Qiqajon, Magnano 2005, 115.

[34] Primo racconto, in Racconti di un Pellegrino russo, ed. Qiqajon, Magnano 2005, p. 37.

[35] “Non parliamo di cose che ignoriamo, ma rendiamo testimonianza di ciò che ci è conosciuto. Perché, la luce di Dio splende già nelle tenebre, di notte e di giorno, nel nostro cuore e nel nostro spirito. Ci illumina questa luce senza tramonto … essa parla, agisce, viva e vivifica, trasforma in luce coloro che illumina. Dio è luce e coloro che l’hanno ricevuto,  l’hanno ricevuto come luce. Coloro che non hanno visto questa luce, non hanno visto Dio, perché Dio è luce”. Syméon le Nouveau Théologien, Catéchèses 28, SC 113 (1965), p. 137.

[36] Syméon le Nouveau Théologien, Hymnes 25, SC 174 (1971), p. 261.

[37] Novo Millennio Ineunte, n. 38.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s