“conversatio morum”

At the talk Thursday evening, a question arose about the meaning of “conversatio morum” — conversion of life or morals. Dr. Brand pointed out that the term used was “conversatio” — hence there was an element of conversation. John Paul relates the conversatio to the need to examine or reflect upon the divine call, and a continual effort to “do the truth.”
Pope John Paul II said “At the heart of St Benedict’s monastic experience is a Simple, typically Christian principle, which the monk adopts in all its radicalness: to unify one’s life around the primacy of God. This “tenere in unum”, the first, fundamental condition for entering monastic life, must be the commitment unifying the life of the individual and the community, and be expressed in the “conversatio morum” which is fidelity to a life-style lived concretely in daily obedience. The search for Gospel simplicity requires continual examination, that is, the effort “to do the truth”, by constantly returning to the initial gift of the divine call which is at the root of one’s own religious experience. FROM SUBIACO SHINES A BEACON OF FAITH  7 July 1999
To do the truth — there must be a continual fashioning of life in time in light of the eternal word, and this itself is a conversatio. Maritain, himself an Oblate of Solemes, noted that the order of human affairs must be constantly won through ceaseless effort of reason and will, imagination and virtue, “rescuing from evil of the time and fashioning with the tools at hand consonant with the temporal and the eternal good of human beings.” The very order of human acts and operations requires that reason at every moment “fashion in conformity with the eternal order the contingent and perpetually renewed order of the works of time.” One must make or do the truth –“facere veritatem” as is said in the Gospel of John (3.21)  “Qui autem facit veritatem, venit ad lucem, ut manifestenter opera eius, quia in Deo sunt facta” and endorsed by St Augustine in Confessions X.1.  
Is the Benedictine way? Constantly we come to the light, “venit ad lucem,” and attempt to do the truth through the grace of God.  Obviously we are formed by others and are assisted by the cooperation of others. That is a conversatio between God and man and among the faithful as well.


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