Saturday, June 30, 2012

Originale philosophia

"Another Greek term whose ancient meaning is retained is philosophia.  The Greek Fathers had defined the monk's life as 'philosophy according to Christ' and 'the only true philosophy', or even simply as 'philosophy'.  This term, meaning the practical discernment of the value of things and of the vanity of the world which must be renounced, is applied to those whose whole existence manifests this renunciation.  In the same way, in the monastic Middle Ages as well as in antiquity, philosophia designates, not a theory or a way of knowing, but a lived wisdom, a way of living according to reason.  There are, in effect, two ways of living according to reason.  Either one lives according to worldly wisdom, as taught by the pagan philosophers, and that is the philosophia saecularis or mundialis, or one lives according to Christian wisdom which is not of this world but already of the world to come, and this is the philosophia caelestis or spiritualis or divina.  The philosopher par excellence, and philosophy itself, is Christ:  ipsa philosophia Christus.  He was the Wisdom itself of God incarnate; and the Virgin Mary, in whom was accomplished the mystery of the Incarnation, is called 'the philosophy of Christians'.  They must learn from her:  philosophari in Maria.  Those who had heralded the advent of the Lord Jesus or who have transmitted His message are the philosophers the Christians obey; they speak of philosophia Pauli, and of 'David the philosopher'.

"Now, this integral Christianity, this way of life entirely consecrated to God, this conuersatio caelestis, is indeed realized in monastic life.  That is why the lawgivers and the models of monasticism are considered masters of philosophy.  The cloisters are schools of philosophy, 'gymnasia' where the 'philosophy of St. Benedict' is learned.  St. Bernard is praised because he formed the monks of Clairvaux in the 'disciplines of celestial philosophy', and Adam of Perseigne declares he is committed to the 'Cistercian philosophy'.  To lead a monastic life is simply 'to philosophize'.  Du Cange gives no other medieval equivalent for the word philosophari than:  monachum agere.  The verb philosophari is applied to cenobites living in monasteries as well as to the solitary in his hermit's cell.  In monastic literature well into the twelfth century, the expression christiana philosophia when employed without commentary or explanation very often stands for monastic life itself."

+ Dom Jean Leclercq, O.S.B.
The Love of Learning & the Desire for God: A Study of Monastic Culture [pp. 100-1]

Sunday, June 10, 2012

[untitled poem]

To this land we come
To fulfill the law
We come to die
To feed the hungry mouth of justice.
Into the cold light, Into the frozen silence,
We leave behind some life we knew
(We can't quite remember)
To achieve blessed satisfaction.

To die, to depart,
To be fondly remembered by
Old friends from old life,
New friends now with us, which serve us as adjuncts
To perform this one great task
On this journey toward absolution.

As we have journeyed to arid places
To fulfill the sacrificial duties of our religion,
As we have paced about the cloister in the tiny hours,
So come we to this place, the land where nothing happens,
Where in a single moment, in one instant,
The transcendent dictates are fulfilled,
The broken bone set, for once in all time.
Primordial command of righteousness
Here, among us, meets threshold of Hades,
The meeting point
The point of order which chaos surrounds.
This point is within us, enacted by us,
We who were chosen by our own choice,
By our own vices, which is also to say we were
Chosen by Virtues and Powers,
To fill the chasms our vices have dug.

The digging has been digging without respite since long ago.

Set bone restoring order to cosmos,
Chaos into cosmos the rite is enacted,
The duty fulfilled.

Land of endless cold

Land of endless light