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CHAPTER X

Of his journey to the parts about Brabant

(1)

THE pious and humble Master Gerard, hearing of the great and widespread fame of John Ruysbroek, a monk and Prior of the Monastery of Grünthal, near Brussels, went to the parts about Brabant, although the journey was long, in order to see in bodily presence this holy and most devout father; for he longed to see face to face, and with his own eyes, one whom he had known hitherto only by common report and by his books; and to hear with his own ears that voice utter its words from a living human mouth—a voice as gracious as if it were the very mouthpiece of the Holy Ghost, He took with him therefore that revered man Master John Cele, the director of the School of Zwolle, a devout and faithful lover of Jesus Christ; for their mind and heart were at one in the Lord, and the fellowship of each was pleasant to the other, and this resolve was kindled within them that their journey, which was undertaken for the sake of spiritual edification, should redound in the case of each to the Glory of God.

(2) There went also with them a faithful and devout layman, named Gerard the shoemaker, as their guide upon the narrow way, and their inseparable companion in this happy undertaking.

When they came to the place called Grünthal, 24they saw no lofty or elaborate buildings therein, but rather all the signs of simplicity of life and poverty, such as marked the first footsteps of our Heavenly King when He, the Lord of Heaven, came upon this earth as a Virgin’s Son, and in exceeding poverty. As they entered the gate of the monastery, that holy father, the devout Prior, met them, being a man of great age, of kindly serenity, and one to be revered for his honourable character. He it was whom they had come to see, and saluting them with the greatest benignity as they advanced, and being taught by a revelation from God, he called upon Gerard by his very name and knew him, though he had never seen him before. After this salutation he took them with him into the inner parts of the cloister, as his most honoured guests, and with a cheerful countenance, and a heart yet more joyful showed them all due courtesy and kindness as if he were entertaining Jesus Christ Himself.

(3) Gerard abode there for a few days conferring with this man of God about the Holy Scriptures; and from him he heard many heavenly secrets which, as he confessed, were past his understanding, so that in amazement he said, with the Queen of Sheba, “O excellent father, thy wisdom and thy knowledge exceedeth the fame which I heard in mine own land; for by thy virtues thou hast surpassed thy fame.” After this he returned with his companions to his own city greatly edified; and being as it were a purified creature, he pondered over what he had heard in his mind, and often dwelt thereon in his heart: also he committed some of Ruysbroek’s sayings to writing, that they might not be forgotten.

God also revealed to Gerard the death of this 25most beloved father, which revelation he made manifest in the hearing of many of the citizens by the tolling of the bells: and more privately, showed to certain of his friends that the soul of the Prior, after but one hour of Purgatory had passed to the glory of heaven.

Gerard himself did not long survive, for when the third year after these things was almost past, there came the time appointed for him to die, and at the call of God he paid the debt of the flesh.

This sojourn on his visit to the Prior was not a time of idleness, nor was the discourse of so holy a father barren; but the instruction of his living voice gave nurture to a fuller love, and an increase of fresh zeal, as he testifies in a letter which he sent to these same brethren in the Grünthal, saying “I earnestly desire to be commended to your director and Prior, the footstool of whose feet I would fain be both in this life, and in the life to come; for my heart is welded to him beyond all other men by love and reverence. I do still burn and sigh for your presence, to be renewed and inspired by your spirit and to be a partaker thereof.”

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