Bianchi with Pope Francis
When I first heard of Patheos I confused it with Parabola, a print magazine on spirituality.
I came across an issue of Parabola at the grocery store which included an article on the monastic community of Bose, in Italy. Pope Francis received the Prior, Enzo Bianchi once or twice and was criticized for doing so. I can't recall why - but I'm pretty sure the critics believe he's some sort of heretic.
Anyway - I discovered that the article I bought the magazine for is online here: Parabola visits Monastero Di Bose. I read it, found it an interesting take on contemporary monasticism, and didn't notice anything heretical - but I'm not a scholar or lawyer.
The community reminds me a bit of Shakers - who lived celibate lives in a mixed community, but unlike Shakers, the Bose community is liturgical. It's an interesting concept - I maybe would want to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.
Speaking with Prior Enzo Bianchi
“At a certain moment there was an intuition that instead of dedicating my life to politics, toward which I was leaning, I should lead a Christian life—just that. In time I thought of monastic life. There were three with me, another young man and two women. Offices morning, noon, and night. The community started that way. I obeyed what occurred, I had no big project. I said to the Lord: a simple monastery of our time, that is all I ask. Seven or eight brothers would already be quite a few. I had no sense of what lay ahead.
“At the beginning we had many difficulties. The local bishop opposed us: we couldn’t celebrate the Eucharist, he wouldn’t receive Protestants, and he didn’t want to speak with me. However, Cardinal Pellegrino of Turin took the responsibility. He visited us in 1968 and lifted the prohibition against the Eucharist. He assigned a Jesuit to serve as an intermediary. In time the cardinal and local bishop urged me to study for the priesthood, but I preferred to remain a brother. It’s enough for me to be what I am. In the early years we went to Mass in the nearby village, like the Pachomian monks in the Egyptian desert. Now we have priests among the brothers.
“We never thought to attract attention as we have. We received confidence that we didn’t deserve. Cardinal Pellegrino had great confidence in me, as did Patriarch Athenagoras who took a few of our number to Mount Athos. Throughout my life I’ve encountered even too much confidence—the Lord has done many things in spite of me. I do try to give confidence to people: I say that if you have confidence, others will have confidence. People today have little confidence, little hope, little faith. And what they wish from us monks is a word of confidence. I believe the Lord has asked this of us more than all the rest. - Roger Lipsey for ParabolaI like very much the following insight:
Brother Enzo wrote the Rule of Bose in the early 1970s with counsel from the small community of that time (look online at parabola.org for the Prologue to the Rule and some of the characteristic music of Bose). A closing paragraph of the Rule includes a remarkable thought: “Brother, sister, you have built the community, and you build it each day. But do not worry about giving the original intuition continuity in history.” Speaking with Brother Enzo, I asked about this daring statement, in effect a plea to future generations to undo some of what he in his time had done. This was his response: “The next generation mustn’t be concerned to continue the charism of the founders. There is no ‘charism of the founders’—there is monastic life. They will have a monastic life, but as the Lord and the times require today and tomorrow. Where forms are concerned, they must not follow me; that, absolutely not. The Spirit has a newness. Gospel, celibacy, and community, these must remain; all the rest can change. The Spirit will give the possibility to find new paths." - ibid
"The Spirit has a newness. Gospel, celibacy, and community, these must remain; all the rest can change. The Spirit will give the possibility to find new paths."
"Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom."