The Threefold Good

Living together as brothers and sisters is the first good. It is founded on personal relationships, through understanding, mutual acceptance, dialogue, and service. This fellowship culminates in the community’s celebration of the sacred liturgy.

Solitude, the second good, indicates both an external environment and an inner disposition. The monastic seeks to cultivate a spirit of silence and attention aimed at quiet, that is, hesychia, which must accompany the monastic’s entire existence. The solitude of the cell offers the favourable context for listening to God’s Word and uniting intimately with God through personal prayer. In turn the practice of lectio divina and personal prayer enrich the monastic’s silence (cf. Constitutions of Bd. Rudolph 44).

Finally, the third good, which is called evangelium paganorum or martyrium, (The Life of the Five Brothers, chapters 4 and 7), expresses the radicalism of monastic dedication and the fullness of Romuald’s charism. The chief characteristic of the third good consists in unconditional love or total self-giving. This is manifested in different ways, such as reclusion and the martyrium amoris that takes on the many forms of everyday living. Every monastic is called to live the three goods in a particular place – a monastery or a hermitage -, but the third good can go beyond institutional structures and find new expression under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

The threefold good is also experienced and expressed through a life of elected simplicity.

A synthesis of the triplex bonum can be seen also in the life of Jesus: his fellowship with the disciples based on the law of love and mutual friendship, his frequent withdrawing into lonely places for prayer and silent listening, his total dedication to the proclamation of God’s reign to the point of giving his life on the cross. The life of Jesus, guided by the Holy Spirit, thus presents us an excellent example of the threefold monastic good.

Both the idea of the monastery as a school and the understanding of the triplex bonum as a spiritual journey require that the Camaldolese monastic formation be an open-ended process. Rather than marking the end of a journey, solemn profession is a new starting point for a spiritual itinerary that a monastic follows until death. To keep on this path, one must be committed to re-reading the monastic sources, especially those of the Camaldolese tradition, and to deepening a lived experience of our charism.

Today the monastic communities that make up the Camaldolese Benedictine Congregation are facing a growing complexity in areas of culture, social life, and the church. In setting up its formation program, each community should consider its concrete context. Its formation program must be focused on our monastic charism within its own peculiar social, cultural, and religious situation. Those charged with the delicate task of monastic initiation must adapt the formative process to each person’s needs and capacities, giving particular attention to the time they need in order to reach maturity as monastics.