Transcribed by Tom Ryan from a recording at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMY68vNcLT8
On a material matter…I mean the towels are disappearing too fast. I don’t mean that they’re being taken away or anything, it’s just they go too fast…and we got…we apparently have enough…given at the beginning of the week. So what…so the best way to handle a towel situation is to…start with (chuckle)…ex novices don’t laugh, folks…start with two…see…and instead of throwing one into the…into the basket everytime you take a shower, have two towels…the one you sort of get good and wet…and the other you finish the job see…and the second one isn’t too wet. Put the wet one on the line and dry it out. So you’ve always got one towel dry a maybe on the line and the other one on the line if necessary. And you throw one in the basket a week, or two in the basket a week, somethin’ like that. I mean you don’t…the thing is those towels are getting completely used up (chuckle) just being washed, see? I mean you use, you take a shower and you dry yourself once with the towel which uses it a tiny little bit and then you send it to the laundry (chuckles) and get used up real good getting washed then it comes back and you use it just one little bit again, see? So I think there are ways and means of…handling the situation. Well now I gotta, this is going to tie into…course I gotta a lot of interesting…stuff tucked away but I gotta…get down to some…main points. Ah…what is the perfection of the monastic ideal? How did they do it? What was their approach, I mean how did they go about this business of…ah…of a…of a…saying how you were going to live a monastic life? What did they do? Anybody? Ah…Timothy.
TIMOTHY: They lived it.
They went and lived it and then what…then they thought…how has it been lived, see. And then they always came up…like for example…in these desert fathers stories that we got there…somebody comes to saint Anthony and says…What am I gonna do, he says. Don’t ask me! He says. Well, I’ll tell you three ways people have done it…one did this and another did this and another one did that. You go try this or try somethin’ else…See…well…this is the way the monks have approached the thing, see. So in other words you go into the possibilities that exist. And that’s absolutely the only way to do it. And we are here and everywhere…although pretty much most places stymied by this business of you see …of being face to face with an idea and all the time butting our heads against the idea and never making any kind of a…of a…junction between the idea and the reality, see. And not starting with the reality and not respecting the reality. The way it usually goes is this…It’s the old…we ask ourselves the question what is God’s will? And we ask it wrong. See, we ask it…we don’t don’t ask that question as Christians. See. We ask that question as payment…what we are asking…see…what is my fate, see. This is the way we habitually ask ourselves the question what is God’s will? In other words, we assume that God is something that’s pre-determined…see…That it is…that God has set up there in a little secret office, see…And he reached into the filing cabinet and he pulled out the file and looks in it and says ah boy (chuckles)…and archangel Michael, come over here…what’s the plan for alpha? And archangel Michael (shrugs)…ahhhh well bababa…well…so there’s this secret plan…and here’s alpha, he don’t even exist yet, see…and then he comes into life and he reaches the age of reason and he says to himself, I gotta find out the plan…and so this is what we all do and we spend our life looking for this secret plan which we possibly can never find out. We try all sorts of gimmicks for finding out the secret plan, see. So we go to some…ah…somebody with a magic answer. And we say, well now the authorities of the Church, they gotta magic answer, or if they know God’s plan they…he’s fitted them into the plan some such way so…they’re oracles, see. And you go to somebody and you ask them what is God’s will for me? And with the utmost profundity, he looks at ya and says…You are to be a “bridgetine”…you are the first of the bridgetine branch of men, see…and like you’re a woman hater and all…absolutely allergic to femininity…see… you never got along with your mother or sister…and you say oh Lord this must be it all right ‘cause I hate most of ‘em now already… But this is absolutely arbitrary. See, this isn’t the way life is supposed to be. God’s will. When it comes to the ten commandments. I mean when it comes to the ten commandments, things are determined beforehand, see. There are certain things that are determined beforehand…thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal and those things, thou shalt not and thou shall…this and that. But when it comes to contingent affairs, where there’s a matter of choice…what is God’s will? And how do ya find out God’s will? For I mean…you wanna consult somebody…but not as an oracle. How do you determine God’s will in the matter of vocation? It’s the question of freedom, see. God has given us…ah…in the pagan situation, see…you look for fates. Ah, you getta sheep, you kill ‘em, you cut ‘em open and look at the entrails and then you get an expert in entrail examination and he looks at em…and gives you an ambiguous answer…and if you put the comma in the wrong place…and if it comes out wrong he can always say well that comma was in the wrong place, shouldn’t a been in there, there was this…that was your fault, see. A Christian is free. And the will of God in the work of the Christian is the work of the Christian and God working together, both freely. This is the work of two freedoms working together. So that your vocation isn’t something that’s in a filing cabinet in…Heaven. That is pulled… kept secret, then whipped out at the last judgement…says, ya missed, ya didn’t guess right. But what it is…your vocation is…anything in life, is an invitation on the part of…on the part of God, see… which you’re not supposed to guess and you’re not supposed to figure out, it’s something you work out by free response. And what are the indications of the invitation? See. You have to take them in their existential facts. They’re there or they aren’t, see. In other words, what happens is you judge byt the concrete facts, the realities that you run up against…in life…see. And these things are manifestations of what God has planned, and they’re manifestations of what…His whole idea which isn’t a plan beforehand, so much either, for we talk…we talk…God really has this certain point of view…has no plan. In the sense of a plan beforehand because there’s no before and after with God. He works it out…as he goes along. Except that it’s all one with him, there’s no past present and future….with Him…see. And we think in terms of having a plan and working it out because that…it’s humanely looking at it and when a wise human being,…normally thinks before he acts…and there’s nothing wrong with that, see. I’m not saying that you’re not supposed to think, see. This question of an inexorable will, completely determined beforehand which we…have to meet up to…is not the idea of God’s will, but of fate. See. God’s will is free and our will is free. And God is inscrutable as far as he is free…because you don’t know how your brother’s gonna act with his freedom. So of course, you don’t know how God’s going to act either…with his freedom. What are you going to do about that? Do you have to know beforehand what God…is going to do with his freedom? Where do ya, where do ya fit that in? I mean supposing He…decides to blast you with a thunderbolt or somethin’ ? If he wants to why…what about it?
A MONK: that’ where faith, hope, love…
Faith, and where love…hope, the theological virtues come in. And there you put things on a completely different plain. See. Theological virtues deal with persons and not with essences, see. When you’re dealing with essences you’re dealing with what’s fixed beforehand. When you’re dealing with people you’re dealing with what’s free. So when it comes to faith hope and love you set God as one who loves you freely. And you trust his love. See. And you trust that his freedom is going to be the freedom of one who loves. And you trust love. And it’s a totally different dimension. And when you’ve got…you don’t ask for love to guarantee his plans for the next five-hundred years. See. Love is…love! And you let it be love, that’s all.