Wednesday, June 20, 2007

St. Romauld's Brief Rule

Latin, hundred words, this expresses the core of spirituality for a monastic reform movement a thousand years ago. Today's St. Romauld's feast day. Romauld founded the Camaldolese in Italy; they established the retreat of New Camaldoli, the Immaculate Heart hermitage, on a hilltop two miles up and a mile high-- or so it seemed the one evening my wife and I drove up (it had closed already) at sunset-- overlooking Big Sur. The aerial photo shows the design; you can see the innovative (a millennium ago) arrangement for the Order: common, or cenobitic, buildings surrounded by hermit's cells. Lay people and monks live there together, some folks permanently, some on retreats.

This "village" or what the desert fathers called a "laura," reminds me of the Celtic practice of the pre-Roman dictates. Open to all faiths and notably reaching out to Anglican, Hindu, and Jewish tradition, New Camaldoli's a welcoming haven where I hope to visit, and perhaps stay at, soon. Meanwhile, as my wife prepares to live in a tent and drink mojitos with MOTs and one Canadienne in the shadow of the hermits, perhaps she too can partake of the elusive lessons of learned solitude and inner peace amidst this lovely outer wonderland.

Camaldolese Spirituality

Here is the hundred-word Latin text of this bright gem of eremitical
spirituality, recorded about 1006 twenty years before Romuald's death by
Saint Bruno of Querfurt in his *Life of the Five Brothers*. It was as
reported to him by one of those martyrs named John, who, like Bruno, knew
Romuald well.

And he received this brief rule from Master Romuald, which he was very
careful to practice throughout his life:

1. Sit in the cell as in paradise;

2. cast all memory of the world behind you;

3. cautiously watching your thoughts, as a good fisher watches the fish.

4. In the Psalms there is one way. Do not abandon it. If you who have come
with the fervor of a novice cannot understand everything, strive to recite
with understanding of spirit and mind, now here, now there, and when you
begin to wander while reading, do not stop, but hasten to correct yourself
by concentrating.

5. Above all, place yourself in the presence of God with fear and trembling,
like someone who stands in the sight of the emperor;

6. destroy yourself completely,

7. and sit like a chick, content with the grace of God, for unless its
mother gives it something, it tastes nothing and has nothing to eat.

In summary, Saint Romuald's seven-step Brief Rule for novice-hermits
comprises a surprisingly rich set of exercises for training in contemplation
which succinctly cover the following topics:

(1) posture, place, solitude, inner peace, and joy;

(2) detachment and liberation for concentration;

(3) self-observation and analysis for purity of mind and heart;

(4) attentively praying the Psalms as seeds of meditation;

(5) reverent, compunctious practice of the presence of God;

(6) intensive ascetical inner overcoming of faults;

(7) childlike humility and receptivity to grace.

My blog has a bit about the Camadolese, as do my Amazon reviews, or better yet sites from where this rule can be found placed with much more by the Camaldolese from their two American hermitages.



1 comment:

harry said...

Nice rule. Sometimes I read things like this and am delighted that contemplative tradtions of Christianity and Zen and the Tao are the same river and then I get to the fear and trembling part and think I am all wet...having pissed myself with fear.