THE COMMON LIFE, SCHOOL OF CHARITY

 

      André Louf

 

 

The sight of brothers or sisters celebrating the liturgy together, praying and working in common but in silence, and living under the same roof, separated from the world, this is the image from which many Cistercian vocations have had their point of departure.  In such a community, we have recognized an inclination in our heart and have chosen to join it.  Willingly, we would have cried out with William of Saint-Thierry who caught sight of Clairvaux from afar, hidden in its valley: "Of this valley filled with men, well ordered love made a solitary place for each brother, thanks to the discipline of the Order.  For...this protected the interior solitude of each brother, in the midst of a well ordered crowd, thanks to the unity of spirit and the rule of regular silence"[1].

 

In fact, such a choice does not belong to us.  Once more what St. Luke noted about the first Christians was going to happen: "Each day the Lord added to the community those who were to find salvation" (Acts 2:47).  It is really not for us to choose.  We have been chosen.  Not, however, by the members of this community, who do not know us, but by the Lord himself who chose this community for us, and has chosen us for it.  Given to one another by the free gift of the Lord, from now on it is through this gift and the beginning of communion that it entails, that we would have to await and hasten our meeting with him[2].

 

Inasmuch as the gift was unexpected and gratuitous, so the journey will be disconcerting, but its fruit, beyond everything we would have dared hoped for: a long and patient apprenticeship learning the gratuity of love. It is more particularly this aspect, necessarily limited, - the pedagogy of the Cistercian life, "School of love"[3] - that this working paper would bring to light[4].

 

 

SOCIALIS GRATIAE SUAVITAS - THE PLEASANT GRACE OF BEING TOGETHER[5]

 


As reasonable as this beginner's choice seemed at the time, the deeper motives escaped us.  Numerous were the motives that could lead us to prefer such a fraternal life to more solitary and perhaps more risky forms of monastic life: the "consolations which companions on the way bring us"[6], the assurance of help in times of difficulty[7], the edifying example of brothers or sisters.  Like the youth Anthony, before withdrawing definitively from the company of brothers, we had the impression of drawing from each one some particular grace which could nourish our expectations and our efforts:  "Anthony looked at the pleasant humor of one and the fidelity to prayer of another; he observed the gentleness of one and the kindness of another; he noticed the vigils that one practiced and the love for lectio in another; he admired the patience of some and the fasts and austerities of others...; but above all, he engraved in his heart the love each one had for Jesus Christ and the charity they bore for one another"[8].

 

Who has not had some presentiment of the "Paradise of the cloister", as St. Bernard called it[9], or even the "Celestial paradise" that William indicated through a very colorful description of cenobitic community[10].  However, the same Bernard puts us on guard: what one understands and lives as a young candidate is only a modest beginning:  "It is a flower, he remarks, the time of fruition has not yet come"[11].  Hope is only based on the fruits, according to the measure in which the novice already perceives some link between his attraction to God and this fraternal life, even if this latter has not yet revealed all its exigencies.

 

If he is sufficiently alert, he will quickly guess that the first joys, even the enthusiasm that fraternal life brings him, are not entirely free from ambiguity.  If he identifies himself so easily with his community, it is also because the latter corresponds, without him being conscious of it, to the image that he has of himself, an image strongly idealistic and more than flattering.  If he is not yet equal to the community, nonetheless, the community seems equal to what he secretly wants to become.  Without knowing it, he has attached it to the narcissistic image of himself.  From this comes the need to want it as perfect as possible, without wrinkle or spot, in sum worthy of him, and the irritation that overcomes him when reality comes to menace his expectations.  He is not yet a true community man, but a solitary unaware[12], who serves others as long as they flatter his image, but who rejects them brutally, even condemning them, as soon as they question him.  This first stage is fruitful, however, but will be transcended one day.  The erosion of time and that of the brothers will take care of it, in God's time.

 

 

LABOR HUMILITATIS - THE LABOR OF HUMILITY[13]

 

In several places in his writings, St. John Cassian carefully weighs the advantages and the inconveniences related to the solitary life and the common life.  According to him, the latter preceded the former, in time but also in grace[14].  Among other advantages, it possesses that of bringing to light the weakness and sin of the monk, while solitude hides them for a time and thus opens up the way to illusion.  It is impossible to live among brothers/sisters without their presence revealing our failures:  "If we go into the desert before we are cured of our vices, we only prevent their fruition, but the root of sin remains hidden in our hearts.  Far from having been extinguished, passion grows secretly"[15].  Now it is important to know one's sin in order to experience repentance, for only repentance can heal us: "The greater the suffering and repentance caused by our failings, the quicker we experience healing because of them"[16]. 

 


Thus, fraternal life is presented quite quickly as the very annoying mirror of our own imperfections.  Here we are, far from our first cenobitic fervor.  Besides, Cassian is joined here by Bernard who describes in detail this process in the treatises on the love of God and the degrees of humility or pride.  The first stage is the knowledge of one's own misery, which comes close to discouragement; misery which is only a source of salvation when "from justice, it takes refuge in mercy"[17].

 

Bernard calls this decisive stage: the labor humilitatis[18], the labor or ascesis of humility. It is psychological and spiritual work at the same time, of utmost importance.  Today we call it the acceptance of self, with one's past, one's memories, one's inevitable frustrations and limits.  Such a work can only be begun under the enlightened and kindly regard of an accompanist.  It will only truly be achieved by experiencing the merciful regard of God.  Since God loves us just as we are, why not love ourselves in our turn just as we are, without false shame, without useless guilt?  This is why, as surprising as this can seem, the first degree of the love of others and of God, for Bernard, is the merciful love of self.

 

In this apprenticeship of self-acceptance, the community plays an important role.  First, because our brothers/sisters manifest our poverty.  The storms of agressivity, rivalry and jealousy which, without knowing it, they release in us, are the test.  Surely, it is good tactics to contain these, but this does not suffice.  They have another fruit to bear:  they merit interpretation.  For everything that irritates us in our brothers/sisters teaches us, first of all, something about ourselves.  They are our own scars that begin to bleed again, our own weaknesses that feel threatened.  Which does not mean that the irritation caused in us does not have an objective cause in whatever fault of a brother/sister, but also that every stormy intervention on our part in his/her regard would be useless as long as we are not reconciled with the wound in ourself.  St. Benedict knew this when he asked the spiritual fathers to know how to cure their own wounds as well as those of their brothers[19].

 

This labor humilitatis constitutes a decisive stage on the monastic journey.  The fruit of it will be what the Tradition calls the Contritio cordis or "breaking open of the heart, with an imaginative terminology borrowed from Psalm 50:19: A broken and contrite heart you will not spurn.  What does this breaking consist of?  It takes place when the heart, harassed and exhausted by temptation, humiliated and on the point of despondency at the sight of its incorrigible weakness, ends by lowering the arms with which, unknown to it, it was fighting against grace, and capitulates by delivering itself over to the gentle mercy of the Savior.  Its resistance is now broken; its pride, pulverized.  The true self can come to light under the kind regard of God, most often in the shedding of very gentle tears, those of repentance, a second baptism[20].  We are now at the heart of the Gospel and of the Christian and monastic experience.  The joy in this is very great.  According to Benedict it becomes the "unspeakable sweetness of love"[21].

 


But before coming to this, the crisis can be prolonged, sometimes for the entire existence of the person or almost.  In the common life, it is the community itself that becomes its theater and privileged instrument.  St. Benedict describes its elements and stakes in the fourth degree of humility.  This degree has been called the "Night" of the cenobite.  In effect, it is the cenobitic framework itself that becomes the supreme temptation.  Nothing is missing according to Benedict: neither unjust situations, nor the trying superior, nor the false brothers/sisters; and more - "trap", "crucible", "slaughter house" and "death".  There is no other escape but to abandon oneself to the love of the Lord: "But in all of this we are victorious because of him who loved us'[22].

 

 

AFFECTUS COMPASSIONIS - THE HEART TOUCHED BY COMPASSION[23]

 

It is in this merciful love of self , the same mercy that was felt from God by the heart in crisis, that one begins to love one's brothers/sisters.  It is from what one has suffered oneself that one can compassionate with those who suffer[24].  And it is from this compassion that access to contemplation opens up to us.  Bernard points out that the beatitude of the merciful precedes that of the pure of heart who see God in the Gospel.  For the heart needs to be purified by mercy before being capable of contemplation.  Now, "in order to have a merciful heart vis à vis the misery of others, one must first recognize one's own misery"[25].

 

The pleasant sharing of the common life thus reveals itself, first of all, by the sharing of our common misery: "Conscious of our common weakness, we must be humbled before one another and take pity on one another for fear that the prideful elevation of some should divide those whose same condition of weakness renders equal", wrote Baldwin of Ford in a little treatise totally consecrated to our theme[26].  The climate of the Cistercian common life is thus impregnated with graces that are really evangelical, that is, according to the same author: "mutual patience, mutual humility, mutual charity"[27].  So the sight and acceptance of our common misery leads us to the exigency of a common mercy.

 

 

COMMUNITY THERAPY

 


In such a climate, the fraternal life can assume a power of psychological and spiritual healing which transforms the common life into a veritable therapeutic course.  For St. Bernard, the "balm of mercy" is "healing"[28].  His second sermon for Easter describes the stages and conditions of this course.  Still today, he claims, mercy joined to "patience in humble affection"[29], can raise up a brother who lies spiritually dead in his tomb.  The merciful brother thus finds again a quality natural to the human person when sin does not offend him: "a kind of fluidity of an extreme and very pleasant sweetness which renders him tender in order to be compassionate to sinners rather than bitter to become indignant with them"[30].  St. Benedict also recommends that the abbot always "let mercy triumph over justice, so that he too may win mercy"[31].  For Bernard also mercy will become irresistible to such a point that if, by some remote chance, it were a sin, he could not keep himself from committing it[32].  And the unforgettable accent with which he must have often commented on mercy at chapter is condensed in a strong affirmation that the Exordium Magnum gives him, i.e. that even Judas, if he became a monk at Clairvaux, would have found mercy[33].

 

If sin and pardon are a part of the monastic journey, it is normal that the weak and sinners find a place in the community.  They are expected there.  A community that excluded sinners would have ceased to be Christian.  For there where sin is denied to this point, or rather cleverly dissimulated, grace no longer has any place, and God is deprived of his greatest joy, that of welcoming a sinner who has become converted.  We would be in another world, that of the "just" according to the word of the Gospel, these "just" who do not need conversion (Lk 15:7); the Pharisees in a word[34].

 

On the contrary, through mercy, the weakest as well as the strongest may breathe the very climate of God, for no one resembles God more than the one who is merciful with his brothers.  In the case of an Aelred, for example, one may speak of a veritable "preferential option for the weak" within his abbey[35].  His biographer does not hesitate to call the monastery of Rievaulx "Mother of mercy", so numerous were those who "from foreign nations and far-away places, having need of fraternal mercy, had come to take refuge"[36].

 

"Having need of fraternal mercy", these words recall those that we have said, lying prostrate at the feet of the community before being admitted: - "What do you ask?" - "The mercy of God and of the Order".  A double mercy that we need in order to be reconciled with ourselves and to find again behind the face of "fraternal mercy", the face of the true God.  This is the proper ministry of the abbot, but it would not be efficacious if the brothers, in one way or another, did not meet him there.  Bernard knew such brothers: "Devout, affectionate, agreeable, flexible, humble, ...not only do they bear patiently the infirmities of body and soul, but they also help their brothers by serving them, comforting them by words, instructing them by counsel and, if the rule of silence did not permit it, at least they did not cease to assist the weak brother by their fervent prayers...Such a brother in the community is like a balm in the mouth.  Everyone points a finger at him and says of him: Here is one who loves his brothers and the people of Israel, and who prays much for the people and for the entire holy city"[37].  Such monks and nuns are found in each Cistercian community.  They are a hidden treasure.  They are the therapists of their brothers/sisters.  Living icons of the Servant Christ in the midst of his own, their "humble love" builds the Church.

 

 

LOVE AND OBSERVANCES

 


Mercy in community engenders an evangelical way to live the observances.  These are fundamental in the monastic life.  They give a particular face to the charism of the group and constitute the skeleton of the common life.  Above all, they make precise the concrete terrain where each one practices their particular grace.  In this sense, they should be an invitation for the strongest, but at the same time, they are the protection of the weakest who, thanks to them, should never be discouraged[38].  However, the way to live them can differ considerably from one era to another, from one culture to another and, for each one individually, from one age to another.  A certain strictness imposed on all the brothers/sisters, the ambiguous and illusory ideal of a perfect regularity, can close the doors to love.  Aelred finds serious reason to thrash the bitter zeal of certain observant monks "who take pride in a false justice, scorning all the others and refusing to place themselves on the level of their brothers by whatever form of compassion...with such people, the strength of the soul is not virtue but vice, those who scorn others because they are capable of vigils, fasting and prayer more than they"[39].  The goal of ascesis does not evidently consist in this proud withdrawal into oneself.  To the contrary, it is precisely in this felt awareness of one's misery, called "breaking open of the heart"[40], fraternally shared with others, in order to share the same gentle mercy.  It is again Bernard who exhorts us to not "leave the common misery in order not to leave mercy.  For the one who "hides his misery, chases mercy away"[41].

 

Such a way to live the observances supposes a delicate balance between their clear and legible proposal by the superior and the "merciful" way of overseeing them in concrete life, or to say it another way: between the Rule and what Bernard called dispensatio, the manner of applying it concretely[42].  This balance supposes a continual discernment by those responsible and the spiritual fathers so that the traditional teaching of observances and the necessary fraternal correction that accompanies it always remains a teaching of spiritual freedom and love[43].  The "zeal for justice" from which the superior ought never to depart, should always go along with the "balm of mercy" which alone has the power to heal[44].  It is at this cost that a monastic community, even if it is called of the "strict observance", radiates the true spirit of the Gospel.

 

 

THE COMMON WILL

 

At the same time as the sharing of mercy, received in common on the part of God and of the brothers/sisters, the sharing and the knowledge of the desire of God for the community and each one of the members matures: the monk learns to renounce his "own will" and to discover the "common will".  This insistence on renunciation of all "ownership" goes further than simple obedience to the superior.  It goes back to the primitive community of Acts (4:32) and encompasses everything that would harm  fraternal life or divide the community.  First of all, certainly, private property of any sort,but also all form of singularity, isolation from others, murmuring, and above all detraction, this last vice being for Bernard the most clear sign of a crying absence of love[45].

 


Obedience also, cenobitic virtue par excellence, takes on a "social" color in the Cistercian context.  It is the plan of God for a community that they discern together, a discernment in view of which total renunciation of self will is the indispensable condition on the part of the brothers/sisters as well as the abbot/abbess.  The community exchanges, in view of the decisions to be made, take on a truly spiritual value.  They also are a part of the school of love.

 

 

PLURALISTIC UNITY

 

This absence of all "ownership" in the negative sense of the word[46] and this quest for communion and unity do not exclude a healthy pluralism, however.  At the interior of the unique Cistercian observance, the charisms are varied.  Bernard repeated often: each monastery possesses its Martha's and its Mary's and even its Lazarus'[47] and its Paul's and its John's[48], cenobites, anchorites, gyrovagues and even spiritual sarabaites[49], officiales and claustrales[50] actives and contemplatives[51].  The role of the abbot will be to encourage each particular vocation and to assure unity in this diversity[52]; the role of the brothers/sisters, to respect the diversity of others without jealousy, unless it is a question of the "better part" that all are invited to prefer, "Always happy is the community where Martha complains of Mary"[53], Bernard will say, who under certain conditions even encourages his brothers to provide for themselves a certain solitude in the common life[54].  As has been just said, "Solitude and common life become alternatives only where the monastery has degenerated into a totalitarian institution, requiring a uniform observance beyond which St.Benedict would have ever envisaged"[55].

 

For the communion is so total between brothers/sisters that each one of these particular vocations, and the graces that they comprise, become a common good.  In a community, "what belongs to one, belongs to all"[56].  And this in two ways, explains Baldwin of Ford: first of all when the good that a brother possesses is possessed for the other; and then, when the good he does not have, he loves in the other; "The different graces fit together in a communion; when the gifts accorded separately to particular ones are possessed in common through the communion of love; and when, through the love of communion, the gifts are loved in common"[57].  In a certain sense, for Bernard, belonging to the community suffices to be saved, if need be, even for a monk who would be "filled with acedia and the worst of all"[58].

 

 

SPIRITUAL FRIENDSHIP

 


If there had not been the famous treatise of Aelred, the correspondence of Bernard and the many confidences that escaped from his pen would have sufficed to know to what degree the first Cistercians were gifted with the love of friendship.  And a love of friendship which was able to expand into the love of God.  Galland de Reigny confessed to Bernard how, in listening to him speak, his heart was filled with love for him, and he added: "I mean: with love for you, rather than with love of God.  But in edging its way into my spirit, this love for you prepared a way for the love of God"[59].

 

Friendship presupposes a certain pedagogy that will not be the same for every age.  The more or less developed affective maturity of a brother plays a determining role.  All friendship is capable of helping this maturity, but also of stopping or losing it on paths where one hurts oneself.  The birth of a friendship is, however, always an important event which merits respect and attention, whether it concerns a friendship between two persons living in the same enclosure or a friendship with someone outside.  At the beginning of the monastic life, friendship requires an accompaniment based on a loyal openness of heart.  For it is often called to become the way and the support of a greater love for God and one's brothers/sisters.  The way can be long.  Amor privatus from its beginnings must become amor communis.  Now it is evident that, during a certain time, an intense affectivity, still insufficiently integrated, will be operative here.  Without dramatizing possible excesses, the brother/sister will be constantly encouraged not to love less but rather to love more and to order this love to the preferential love of Jesus, his true vocation.  Assisted in this fashion, the adventure of friendship can not only bring real comfort, but also become the test of the authenticity of one's love for God.

 

 

COR UNUM ET ANIMA UNA - ONE HEART AND ONE SOUL

 

The breaking open of the heart brought to birth in each one a new regard and a new spiritual sensitivity.  Mutual mercy and love practiced with perseverance renders the community always more like the communion in heaven and even the trinitarian communion of which it is the the icon here below[60].  Even if the charisms are different and complementary, the exclusive adhesion of all to the only God guarantees, little by  little, interior unity and the unanimity of all.  "That souls may be one, that hearts be united, cries St. Bernard, in loving one alone, in seeking one alone, in clinging to one alone and in feeling the same thing in each one".  The activities can be different, "interior unity and unanimity bring and bind together the differences themselves by the glue of charity and the bond of peace"[61].

 

We must quote in entirety here the detailed description, written by Wiliam, of this "specialis caritatis schola" that the cenobitic life is, where all teaching and all exchange end "not in reasoning but in the very truth and experience" of what is discussed: "There is everywhere so great and continuous a devotion to the study of prayer that every place of prayer is a place of divine governance...In the common exercises of piety, in that grace from the faces and in the bodies and dispositions, the brothers see in one another the presence of the divine goodness and are surrounded with so great an affectus that, like the Seraphim, one catches fire from another in the love of God, nor can anyone give another enough to suit himself"[62].

 

 

 

 

 


EXCESSUS CONTEMPLATIONIS - THE "PASSAGE" INTO CONTEMPLATION[63]

 

Beyond this fraternal communion, in which God is already mysteriously present, he alone can then take the initiative and call someone to the excessus contemplationis.  It is at that moment that the Schola humilitatis, the school of humility, bears all its fruit; the soul, having been led by the Holy Spirit through the Wine cellars of love (fraternal charity) and thereafter languishing with love, waits only to be admitted into the nuptial chamber of the King[64].  This is not a stage in which the monastic journey must necessarily come to an end.  Is is not within the power of the monk, even the most zealous, even if it becomes ever more the exclusive desire of his heart.  It belongs to God alone to "carry off" or "ravish" the soul, says Bernard, with terms borrowed from Pauline experience[65], in order to introduce it to an experience which will already have a foretaste of the beyond, for a brief moment.

 

But, curiously, in spite of this, the soul does not leave the humble pathway of the constraints of fraternal love, which will never completely disappear here below.  Through them, the soul will not cease to experience its weakness.  The School of love always remains a School of humility.  The monk remains for as long a time "a slow climber, a constantly tired walker with a lazy foot, and who never ceases to invent detours for himself"[66].  But this does not matter.  Of all the virtues which were his, Jesus asked us to learn only one from him: humility[67].  "Oh optanda infirmitas", blessed and desirable weakness, Bernard dares to cry out, that continually throws us on the grace and strength of God[68].  It is in this way that he himself confessed to making progress: "With the foot of grace firmly planted on the ladder of humility, painfully dragging the foot of my own weakness behind me, I should safely mount upward, until, holding fast to the truth, I attained the broad plain of charity.  Thus I warily enter on the narrow way, step by step safely ascend the steep ladder, and by a kind of miracle climb to the truth (God) slowly perhaps and limping but still with confidence"[69].

 

To progress in love while dragging the lame foot, to climb one's degrees while idly limping along, says most eloquently that the road to love always passes through humility.  Our progress toward God through the community of brothers/sisters does not escape this fundamental law of the Gospel.  Only those with a heart broken open, conscious of their poverty, but foolishly confident in God's mercy, can hope to arrive one day where God awaits them.  "At any rate, St. Bernard remarks, I remember  repeating to you often that our progress consists in this: to never think that one has arrived, but always to advance toward what is before us, continually trying to do better, and always exposing all that is imperfect in us to the gaze of divine mercy"[70].  And in Cistercian community, we can add: "and to the merciful gaze of our brothers/sisters".

 

 

Dom André LOUF

Abbot of Mont-des-Cats

 

 

 

 



[1]Life of St. Bernard, 35

[2]Cf.Bernard, Div 92:2: Nam et disciplina et socialis vita donum gratiae est.

[3]Specialis caritatis schola in William of St-Thierry (NatDigAm,9:26), seems to present an older usage; Schola dilectionis in Bernard (Div I,21) or Schola pietatis (CC 69:2).

[4]Several recent works have inspired this paper: Bernardo Olivera, Aspectos del Amor al projimo en la doctrina espiritual de san Bernardo, in Analecta Cisterciensia, 46(1990), 151-197; Michael Casey, "In communi vita fratrum" St. Bernard's Teaching on Cenobitic Solitude, ibid., 243-261; Thomas Davis, Cistercian Communio, in Cistercian Studies,29(1994), 291-329; Gaetano Riciti, L'option préférentielle pour les faibles dans le modèle communautaire aelrédien, in Collectanea Cisterciensia, 55(1993), 186-206.

[5]Bernard, CC 44:5

[6]Conviatorum solatia, Bernard, Sent 2:76

[7]St. Bernard often repeats the warning of Ecclesiastes 4:10: "Woe to the solitary, for he has no one to lift him up when he falls".

[8]Anthanasius, Life of Anthony, II

[9]Div 42:4, where Bernard develops a "Cistercian" version of the ensemble of virtues offered to the candidate in the Life of St. Anthony. Cf.also CC 63:6.

[10]NatDignAm, 24-27

[11]CC 63:6

[12]Cf.GradHum 17: the Pharisee, says Bernard, gives thanks to God, non quia bonus, sed quia solus

[13]GradHum 19

[14]Antiquissimum monachorum genus, quod non solum tempore, sed etiam gratia primum est, Coll 18:5

[15]Coll 19:12

[16]Coll 19.16

[17]GradHum 18

[18]Ibid 19

[19]RB 46

[20]St.Bernard describes how to "cooperate" with this breaking open of the heart in a "sense of gentle mercy" for oneself, which makes of humiliation a true curatio (cure): Div 20:5

[21]RB Prologue

[22]RB 7 For the ancient monastic tradition, not only the common life of the cenobite but also the solitude of the hermit as different practices of the classic ascesis - vigils, fasts, sleeping on a hard bed - had the same objective: the breaking open of the heart, i.e. to lead the monk to despair in himself so that he puts all his confidence in God alone: "A brother asked: Of what use are the fasts and vigils that man practices?  The old man answered: Their effect is to humble the heart.  For it is written: Look upon my abasement and my labor and pardon all my sins.  If someone practices ascesis in this way, God will take pity on him" (Vitae Patrum, VI 4:5; c.Apopht,Moses,18b).  In the same sense, see the famous Letter to His Sons of Macarius, (Collection Spiritualité orientale no.42, Editions de Bellefontaine 1985).

[23]GradHum 19

[24]Dum ex his quae patiuntur,patientibus compati sciunt, GradHum 18

[25]GradHum 6

[26]De vita communi, PL 204, 551 C

[27]Ibid 558:9

[28]Unguentum pietatis...sanativum est, CC 12:1 C.Ann,3:1: "Is not mercy nourishment for human beings? Yes, a saving nourishment that heals".

[29]Patientia in pietate, translation of P.-Y. Emery, Ressur 11

[30]Gratae et egregiae quasi suavitatis liquor, CC 44:4.  The Curé of Ars will use the same image to speak of the "liquid heart of the saints".

[31]RB 64:10

[32]Ep 70

[33]Exordium Magnum, 2:5

[34]The apparent severity of St. Benedict which, in certain cases, does not hesitate to "excommunicate" a brother ought not to throw us off.  It is part of a therapeutic process and is used only if all other means fail.  But above all, the goal is the cure of the brother: "so that the spirit may be saved on the day of judgment".  Besides, it suffices to look at the rite of Reconciliation, quite detailed in the Rule of the Master and only presupposed in St. Benedict, to be convinced that the suffering of excommunication is completely in view of the joy of one's return to the sheepfold.  Cf.RB 24-28.

[35]Gaetano Raciti, L'option préferentielle pour les faibles dans le modèle communautaire aelrédien, Coll Cist, 55(1993),186-206.

[36]Walter Daniel, Vie d'Aelred, 29

[37]CC 12:5. Cf.CC 12:1: another very detailed description of the merciful monk.

[38]Cf. RB 64 "So that the strong have something to yearn for and the weak nothing to run from".

[39]Sermon for All Saints, 10 (Cluny 63), quoted by Gaetano Raciti, art.cit.supra

[40]Cf.supra, p.4

[41]Se non excipit a communi miseria, ne excipiatur a misericordia; Pharisaeus exsufflat misericordiam, dum dissimulat miseriam, GradHum 17.

[42]St. Bernard consecrates his treatise De praecepto et dispensatione to this.

[43]In this sense, the slogan that was current in the Order during the 70's and 80's: "To pass from a spirituality of observances to a spirituality of charity" must be completed.  It concerns rather a transformation of the way to live the observances in a true pedagogy of spiritual freedom and love.

[44]Cf.Bernard, CC 12:1,4

[45]Omnis qui detrahit, primum quidem selpsum prodit vacuum caritate, CC 24:4.  Bernard fears above all divided communities where a concordis discordia and an inimicissima amicitia reign, CC 24:3-4.

[46]However,Baldwin of Ford knows a proprietas which leads to communio,o.c.col.558-9.

[47]Assum 3:45; Div 90:3

[48]Sent 1:35

[49]Sent 3:31

[50]Did 9:6; Obedientales et claustrales according to Galland de Reigny, Parabole 5

[51]Sent 1:18

[52]Sent 1:26

[53]Assum 3:2 et passim

[54]CC 40:4-5. On the other hand, a bad solitude is condemned in Pur 2:2

[55]Michael Casey, In communi vita fratrum: St.Bernard's Teaching on Cenobitic Solitude, in Analecta Cisterciensia 46(1990), p.245

[56]Aelred of Rievaulx, Sermon 26 for All Saints: Habent inter se talem unitatem or concordiam ut...quidquid est singulorum, hoc est omnium, et quidquid est omnium, hoc est singulorum.

[57]Baldwin of Ford, De vita communi, l.c., 561B

[58]Quoted by Herbert in his De Miraculis, 2, 11, Pl.185, 1323C

[59]Cf.Jean Leclercq, Les Paraboles de Gailland de Reigny, in Analecta monastica l (1948), pp.167-180

[60]Baldwin of Ford places the source of the cenobitic life in the life of heaven without hesitation: "the common life is a certain splendor of the eternal light, an emanation of eternal life, a derivative of this perpetual source from which flows the living waters which spring up to eternal life", De vita communi, l.c.,546 CD.  Cf.De perfecto monacho, ibid., 567 C, by the same author

[61]Septuag 2,3

[62]NatDignAm, 25

[63]GradHum 19, Excessus remains difficult to translate and does not generally correspond to what recent mystics describe as ecstacy.  The primary meaning of Excedere is To pass outside or beyond.

[64]DGradHum 21

[65]Rapit, 1 Cor 2:13. Cf.GradHum 22

[66]GradHum 24

[67]Mt 11:29; quoted in GradHum 25

[68]CC 25,7

[69]GradHum 26

[70]Purif 2:3