Ramon llull christian classics ethereal libraary

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ramon llull christian classics ethereal libraary

Stanford Library Indexes/Guides Medieval Studies Some library catalogues for books, articles and references to (digitized and non-digitized) medieval. In Christian angelology, angels are immortal beings of pure spirit without physical bodies, – – via Christian Classics Ethereal Library. The fourteenth century is as much the classic moment for the spiritual history of our race as the thirteenth The Majorcan scholar-mystic Ramon Lull (ob. ETHERAL OR NON ETHERAL INSIGHT

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Side by side with the Neoplatonic mysticism of St. Augustine and Dionysius runs another line of spiritual culture, hardly less important for the development of the contemplative life. This takes its rise among the Fathers of the Egyptian desert, whose heroic spirituality was a contributory factor in St. It finds beautiful expression in the writings of St. Marcarius of Egypt c. Anthony and friend of St. The fruit of a seven-year pilgrimage among the Egyptian monasteries, and many conversations on spiritual themes with the monks, we find in these dialogues for the first time a classified and realistic description of the successive degrees of contemplative prayer, and their relation to the development of the spiritual life.

Adopted by St. Benedict as part of the regular spiritual food of his monks, they have had a decisive influence on the cloistered mysticism of the Middle Ages. Their sober and orderly doctrine, destined to be characteristic of the Roman Church, received fresh emphasis in the works of St.

Gregory the Great , which also helped to form the souls of succeeding generations of contemplatives. We have therefore, at the opening of the Middle Ages, two great streams of spiritual culture; the Benedictine, moderate and practical, formed chiefly on Cassian and St. Gregory, and the Neoplatonic, represented by Dionysius the Areopagite, and in a less exclusive form by St. The works of Dionysius were translated from Greek into Latin about A. John the Scot, many of whose own writings exhibit a strong mystical bias, is the only name in this period which the history of mysticism can claim.

The great current of medieval mysticism first shows itself in the eleventh century, and chiefly in connection with the Benedictine Order for the work of such monastic reformers as St. Romuald c. Peter Damian , and St. Bruno , the founder of the Grande Chartreuse, was really the effort of contemplative souls to establish an environment in which the mystical life could be lived. Thus too we must regard at least a large proportion of the hermits and solitaries who became so marked a feature in the religion of the West.

At this period mysticism was not sharply distinguished from the rest of the religious complex, but was rather the realistic experience of the truths on which religion rests. It spread mainly through personal instruction and discipleship. Anselm , which, disentangled by recent scholarship from the spurious material passing under his name, are now seen to have been a chief channel of transmission for the Augustinian mysticism which dominated the early Middle Ages.

The general religious revival of the twelfth century had its marked mystical aspect, and produced four personalities of great historical importance: the Benedictines St. Bernard of Clairvaux , St. Victor ob. Victor at Paris, is also generally reckoned amongst the mystics of thus period, but with less reason; since contemplation occupies a small place in his theological writings.

The spirit of Richard and of St. Bernard, on the contrary, was destined to dominate it for the next two hundred years. With them the literature of mediaeval mysticism properly so called begins. This literature Falls into two classes: the personal and the didactic.

Sometimes, as in a celebrated sermon of St. Bernard, the two are combined; the teacher appealing to his own experience in illustration of his theme. In the works of the Victorines the attitude is didactic: one might almost say scientific. In them mysticism—that is to say, the degrees of contemplation, the training and exercise of the spiritual sense—takes its place as a recognized department of theology. In his hands the antique mystical tradition which flowed through Plotinus and the Areopagite, was codified and transmitted to the mediaeval world.

Like his master, Hugh, he had the mediaeval passion for elaborate allegory, neat arrangement, rigid classification, and significant numbers in things. The influence of Richard of St. Victor, great as it was, is exceeded by that of St. Bernard; the dominant spiritual personality of the twelfth century. He continued and informed with his own spirit the Benedictine tradition, and his writings quickly took their place, with those of Richard of St.

Victor, among the living forces which conditioned the development of later mysticism. Both these mystics exerted a capital influence on the formation of our national school of mysticism in the fourteenth century. Victor, and of various tracts and epistles of St. Bernard, are constantly met with in the MS. If mediaeval mysticism in the West develops mainly under the sane and enduring influence of the Victorines and St. Bernard, in Germany and Italy it appeared in a more startling form; seeking, in the prophetic activities of St.

Hildegarde of Bingen and the Abbot Joachim of Flora, to influence the course of secular history. In St. Hildegarde and her fellow-Benedictine St. Catherine of Siena is probably the greatest example. Exalted by the strength of their spiritual intuitions, they emerged from an obscure life to impose their wills, and their reading of events, upon the world. From the point of view of Eternity, in whose light they lived, they attacked the sins of their generation.

Hildegarde, a woman of powerful character, apparently possessed of abnormal psychic gifts, was driven by that Living Light which was her inspiration to denounce the corruptions of Church and State. In the inspired letters which she sent like firebrands over Europe, we see German idealism and German practicality struggling together; the unflinching description of abuses, the vast poetic vision by which they are condemned.

These qualities are seen again in the South German mystics of the next century: the four Benedictine women of genius, who had their home in the convent of Helfde. These are the Nun Gertrude Abbess and her sister St. Mechthild of Hackborn ob. Gertrude the Great In these contemplatives the political spirit is less marked than in St. Hildegarde: but religious and ethical activity takes its place.

Gertrude the Great is a characteristic Catholic visionary of the feminine type: absorbed in her subjective experiences, her often beautiful and significant dreams, her loving conversations with Christ and the Blessed Virgin. Close to her in temperament is St. Mechthild of Hackborn; but her attitude as a whole is more impersonal, more truly mystic. The great symbolic visions in which her most spiritual perceptions are expressed are artistic creations rather than psycho-sensorial hallucinations, and dwell little upon the humanity of Christ, with which St.

Gertrude is constantly occupied. The terms in which Mechthild of Magdeburg—an educated and well-born woman, half poet, half seer—describes her union with God are intensely individual, and apparently owe more to the romantic poets of her time than to earlier religious writers. The works of this Mechthild, early translated into Latin, were read by Dante. Mechthild of Hackborn.

Modern scholarship tends more and more to see in the strange personality of the Abbot Joachim of Flora, whom Dante placed among the great contemplatives in the Heaven of the Sun, the chief influence in the development of Italian mysticism. The true import of his prophecies, which proclaimed in effect the substitution of mystical for institutional Christianity, was only appreciated after his death. But their prestige grew during the course of the thirteenth century; especially after the appearance of the mendicant friars, who seemed to fulfil his prediction that the new era of the Holy Spirit would be brought in about the year by two new Orders who would live in poverty the spiritual life.

From this time, Joachism found its chief vehicle of expression through Franciscan mysticism of the more revolutionary sort. Though there is no evidence that St. But the mystical genius which may have received food from these sources was itself strikingly original; the spontaneous expression of a rare personality, a great spiritual realist who admitted no rival to the absolute claims of the mystical life of poverty and joy.

Francis was untouched by monastic discipline, or the writings of Dionysius or St. His only literary influence was the New Testament. With him, mysticism comes into the open air, seeks to transform the stuff of daily life, speaks the vernacular, turns the songs of the troubadours to the purposes of Divine love; yet remains completely loyal to the Catholic Church. None who came after him succeeded in recapturing his secret which was the secret of spiritual genius of the rarest type: but he left his mark upon the history, art and literature of Western Europe, and the influence of his spirit still lives.

In a general sense it is true to say that Italian mysticism descends from St. It is here that we find Franciscan ardour and singlemindedness in alliance with apocalyptic notions deriving from Joachist ideas. In Provence, a widespread mystical movement coloured by Joachism was led by Hugues de Digne and his sister St. Douceline n. In Italy, nourished by the influence of such deeply mystical friars as John of Parma ob.

Here the typical figure is that of Jacopone da Todi , the converted lawyer turned mystical poet. On one hand deeply influenced by St. Catherine of Genoa; and have probably affected many other mystics, not only in Italy but elsewhere, for they quickly attained considerable circulation. In his contemporary the Blessed Angela of Foligno who was converted from a sinful life to become a tertiary hermit of the Franciscan Order we have a mystic of the first rank whose visions and revelations place her in the same class as St.

Catherine of Genoa and St. By the sixteenth century her works, translated into the vernacular, had taken their place amongst the classics of mysticism. In the seventeenth they were largely used by St. Seventeen years older than Dante, whose great genius properly closes this line of spiritual descent, she is a link between the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries in Italian mysticism. Bonaventura , the Franciscan , and St. Thomas Aquinas , the Dominican As with St.

Augustine, the intellectual greatness of St. Thomas has obscured his mystical side, whilst St. Bonaventura, the apostle of a wise moderation, may easily appear to the hurried reader the least mystical of the Franciscan mystics. Yet both were contemplatives, and because of this were able to interpret to the medieval world the great spiritual tradition of the past. Hence their immense influence on the mystical schools of the fourteenth century. It is sometimes stated that these schools derive mainly from St.

Bonaventura, and represent an opposition to scholastic theology; but as a matter of fact their greatest personalities—in particular Dante and the German Dominicans—are soaked in the spirit of Aquinas, and quote his authority at every turn. In Europe the mystic curve is now approaching its highest point. In the East that point has already been passed. Its tradition is continued in the fourteenth century by the rather erotic mysticism of Hafiz c.

Whilst Hafiz already strikes a note of decadence for the mysticism of Islam, the year is for Western Europe a vital year in the history of the spiritual life. Mystics of the first rank are appearing, or about to appear.

The Majorcan scholar-mystic Ramon Lull ob. In Italy Dante is forcing human language to express one of the most sublime visions of the Absolute which has ever been crystallized into speech. He inherits and fuses into one that loving and artistic reading of reality which was the heart of Franciscan mysticism, and that other ordered vision of the transcendental world which the Dominicans through Aquinas poured into the stream of European thought.

For the one the spiritual world was all love: for the other all law. For Dante it was both. Bernard, Mechthild, Aquinas, and countless others—are included and explained. Its writer was probably contemporary with the founder of this school; the great Dominican scholar Meister Eckhart , who resembled Dante in his combination of mystical insight with intense intellectual power, and laid the foundations at once of German philosophy and German mysticism.

These two giants stand side by side at the opening of the century; perfect representatives of the Teutonic and Latin instinct for transcendental reality. Eckhart, though only a few years younger than St. Gertrude the Great, seems to belong to a different world. His commanding personality, his genius for the supra-sensible nourished by the works of Dionysius and Erigena, moulded and inspired all whom it came near. The German and Flemish mystics of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, differing much in temperament from their master and from each other, have yet something in common: something which is shared by no other school.

This something is derived from Eckhart; for all have passed under his hand, being either his immediate disciples, or the friends or pupils of his disciples. In these we see him as a teaching mystic full of pastoral zeal, but demanding a high level both of intellect and spirituality in those he addressed. Towards the end of his life he fell into disgrace.

A number of propositions extracted from his writings, and representing his more extreme views, were condemned by the Church as savouring of pantheism and other heresies: and certainly the violence and daring of his language laid him open to misconstruction. In his efforts to speak of the unspeakable he was constantly betrayed into expressions which were bound to seem paradoxical and exaggerated to other men. His pupils, though they remained loyal Catholics, contrived also to be loyal disciples.

To the end of their lives their teaching was coloured—often inspired—by the doctrines of the great, if heretical, scholar whose memory they venerated as that of a saint. The contrast in type between Eckhart and his two most famous disciples is an interesting one. All three were Dominican friars; all were devout followers of St. Augustine, the Areopagite, St.

Thomas had taught, and where their powerful influence still lived. The mysticism of Eckhart, so far as he allows us to see it in his sermons and fragmentary writings, is objective—one might almost say dogmatic. Of his two pupils, John Tauler c. He laboured incessantly to awaken men to a sense of their transcendental heritage. Without the hard intellectualism occasionally noticeable in Eckhart, or the tendency to introspection and the excessive artistic sensibility of Suso, Tauler is the most virile of the German mystics.

The breadth of his humanity is only equalled by the depth of his spirituality. His sermons—his only authentic works—are trumpet-calls to heroic action upon spiritual levels. They influenced many later mystics, especially St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross. Tauler is not a subjective writer: only by implication can we assure ourselves that he speaks from personal experience.

He has sometimes, though unfairly, been described as a precursor of the Reformation. Such a claim could only be made by those who look upon all pure Christianity as a form of Protestant heresy. He attacked, like St. Hildegarde, St. Catherine of Siena, and many others, the ecclesiastical corruption of his period: but his writings, if read in unexpurgated editions, prove him to have been a fervent and orthodox Catholic. Tauler was one of the leading spirits in the great informal society of the Friends of God , which sprang into being in Strassburg, spread through the Rhenish province and beyond to Switzerland and Bavaria, and worked in this moment of religious decadence for the spiritual regeneration of the people.

In a spirit of fierce enthusiasm and wholehearted devotion, the Friends of God set themselves to the mystic life as the only life worthy of the name. A great outburst of transcendental activity took place: many visions and ecstasies were reported: amazing conversions occurred. The movement had many features in common with that of the Quakers; except that it took place within, instead of without, the official Church, and was partly directed against the doctrines of the Brethren of the Free Spirit and other heretical sects.

With it was connected the third of the trio of great German Dominican mystics, the Blessed Henry Suso c. To Suso, subjective, romantic, deeply interested in his own soul and his personal relation with God, mysticism was not so much a doctrine to be imparted to other men as an intimate personal adventure.

Though a trained philosopher and theologian, and a devoted follower of Eckhart, his autobiography—a human document far more detailed and ingenuous than St. Even his mystical treatises are in dialogue form, as if he could hardly get away from the personal and dramatic aspect of the spiritual life. Around these three—Eckhart, Tauler, Suso—are gathered other and more shadowy personalities: members of this mystical society of the Friends of God, bound to the heroic attempt to bring life—the terribly corrupt and disordered religious life of the fourteenth century—back into relation with spiritual reality, to initiate their neighbours into the atmosphere of God.

Other Friends of God are now only known to us as the authors of letters, descriptions of conversions, visions, and spiritual adventures—literature which the movement produced in enormous quantities. No part of the history of mysticism has been more changed by recent research than that of the Rhenish school: and the work is still but partly done.

At present we can only record the principal names which we find connected with the mystical propaganda of the Friends of God. These are first the nuns Margaret Ebner and her sister Christina , important personages in the movement upon whose historicity no doubts have been cast. Margaret appears to have been a psychic as well as a mystic: and to have possessed, like Madame Guyon, telepathic and clairvoyant powers. Next the rather shadowy pair of laymen, Henry of Nordlingen and Nicolas of Basle.

Lastly the puzzling figure of Rulman Merswin c. In immediate dependence on the German school, and like it drawing its intellectual vigour from the genius of Eckhart, is the mysticism of Flanders: best known to us in the work of its most sublime representative, the Blessed John Ruysbroeck , one of the greatest mystics whom the world has yet known.

Intellectually indebted to St. Augustine, Richard of St. Victor, and Eckhart, his value lies in the fact that the Eckhartian philosophy was merely the medium by which he expressed the results of profound experience. Through his disciple Gerard Groot , founder of the Brotherhood of the Common Life, it formed the inspiration of the religious movement of the New Devotion; which carried over into the next century the spirit of the great mediaeval mystics.

The mystical writings of Henry de Mande c. In the next century the Franciscan Henry de Herp or Harphius ob. Bernard, St. Bonaventura, and the great English mystic Richard Rolle. The influence of his genius has also been detected in the mystical literature of Spain.

It was then, and throughout its course, closely linked with the solitary life. Aldred Abbot of Rievaulx , and the Rule he wrote for his anchoress sister, presuppose the desire for the mystical life. But the first English mystic we can name with certainty is Margery Kempe probably writing c. It is with the next name, Richard Rolle of Hampole c. Richard of St. Victor, St. Bernard, and St. Bonaventura are the authors who have influenced him most; but he remains, in spite of this, one of the most individual of all writers on mysticism.

A voluminous author, his chief works are still in MS. He laid claim to direct inspiration, was outspoken in his criticisms of religious and secular life, and in the next generation the Lollards were found to appeal to his authority. Rolle already shows the practical temper characteristic of the English school.

His interest was not philosophy, but spiritual life; and especially his own experience of it. His works greatly influenced succeeding English mystics.

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