Christian Mysticism: A study on Practical Applications
Mysticism is the art of union with Ultimate Reality. The mystic is a person who has attained that union in greater or less degree; or who aims at and believes in such attainment.
May the words we post here and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in Your sight, our Lord and our Redeemer. Amen.
We are presently studying Theologia Germanica, an anonymous work written probably just before the reformation.
This is a topical study and we have kept the threads of previous books that we have studied, for reference by latecomers. For convenience, the previous books we have studied are listed below.
Dark Night of the Soul, by Saint John of the Cross.
Fire of Love, by Richard Rolle of Hampole.
Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi, by Ugolino.
Cloud of Unknowing, by an anonymous early English author.
Scale (or Ladder) of Perfection, by Walter Hilton.
Practical Mysticism, by Evelyn Underhill.
HOW AT BOLOGNA ST FRANCIS CONVERTED TWO SCHOLARS WHO BECAME FRIARS, AND
HOW HE DELIVERED ONE OF THEM FROM GREAT TEMPTATION
How Brother Francis worked to deliver Brother Rinieri was just to let him hear, "of all the brothers scattered abroad in the world I love him most particularly."
SECTION I: Of the Seven Deadly Sins, and first of Pride, what it is, and when it is a deadly Sin and when but venial
SECTION II: How Pride in Heretics and in Hypocrites is deadly sin
SECTION III: A short Exhortation to Humility and Charity, with a Conclusion how a Man may know how much Pride he hath in him
What pride is and whanne it is synne.
Whanne pride is deedli synne, and hou it is in fleischli lyvande men deedli synne.
Hou pride is in heretikes deedli synne.
Hou stirynges of pride and veynglorie in good men are but venial synne.
HOW ST FRANCIS CONVERTED CERTAIN ROBBERS AND ASSASSINS, WHO BECAME FRIARS; AND OF A WONDERFUL VISION WHICH APPEARED TO ONE OF THEM WHO WAS A MOST HOLY BROTHER
The first half of this chapter reminds me of the saying, "You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar." It provides an excellent contrast between effective witnessing and ineffective, and the difference is in having or not having God's love for all his creatures in our hearts.
SECTION I: Of the Ground and Image of Sin in us, which is first to be found out and laboured against, and how it is to be done
SECTION II: What the said Image of sin is, properly, and what cometh out of it
Hou a man schal see the groound of synne in hymsilf.
Unto what thinge is the ymage of synne like, and what it is in itsilf.
Whoso wole fynde Jhesu, hym bihoveth abide and traveile in this goostli merkenesse of this ymage of synne.
HOW ST FRANCIS HEALED MIRACULOUSLY A LEPER BOTH IN HIS BODY AND IN HIS SOUL, AND WHAT THE SOUL SAID TO HIM ON GOING UP TO HEAVEN
SECTION I: That a Man should be industrious to recover again his ancient Dignity and reform within him the Image of the Trinity, and how it may be done.
SECTION II: That this Dignity and Image is restored by Jesus, and how He is to be desired, sought and found
That a man schulde be besi for to recovere ayen his worthy¬nesse, and reforme in him the ymage of the Trinité.
Hou Jhesu schal be sought, desired, and founden.
What profite is to have the desire of Jhesu.
Where and wherewith Jhesu schal be sought and founden.
Where Jhesu is loste and founden thorugh his mercy.
HOW ST FRANCIS CONVERTED TO THE FAITH THE SULTAN OF BABYLON
In this present period of history when there are elements of Islam at war with Christianity, it is important to remember that mutual tolerance and respect between adherents of these two faiths existed then and still exists in some quarters now.
Of the Worthiness and Excellency of the Soul and how it was lost.
Hou a man schal knowe the worthinesse and the worschipe of his soule that it oweth to have bi kynde, and the wrecchidnesse and myschief that it is fallen in thorw synne.
Hou everi man mai be saved bi the passioun of Crist, be he never so wrecchid, yif he aske it. - Chapter titles from chapters 43 and 44 of The Scale of Perfection – Book 1 in Middle English
HOW ST FRANCIS DELIVERED THE BROTHER WHO, BEING IN SIN, HAD FALLEN INTO THE POWER OF THE DEVIL
After our discussion of what's "real" and what's likely in previous stories, I should maybe be embarassed, if my understanding is correct of what the cannons of what is "real, likely and logical are generally among modern westerners, to say that this present story seems perfectly real and likely to me.
Of the Knowledge of a Man’s Soul and the Powers thereof necessary to Contemplation
That a man schulde travaile for to knowe his owen soule and the myghtes of it, and breke doun the ground of synne therinne. - Chapter title from chapter 42 of The Scale of Perfection – Book 1 in Middle English
HOW ST FRANCIS TAMED THE WILD DOVES
This is a very short chapter, just bare bones again, it seems to me to be in the style of a gospel story.
A young man caught some doves, and on his way to sell them, he met Brother Francis, who persuaded the man to give them to him. There's some things said about how the birds fared after that, and then it ends with Brother Francis predicting that the young man would join their order, and saying that that did in fact happen.
That a Man should know the measure of his Gift, that he may desire and take a better when God giveth it
That a man schulde knowe the mesure of his yifte, and evere desire more, and take a betere, whanne God wole yyve it. - Chapter title from chapter 41 of The Scale of Perfection – Book 1 in Middle English
OF THE MOST HOLY MIRACLE OF ST FRANCIS IN TAMING THE FIERCE WOLF OF GUBBIO
Section 1: Of Meditation
Section 2: Of divers Temptations of the Enemy, and the Remedies against them
Our text covers 7 chapters of the Medieval text, these are:
Of meditacion of synful men, aftir that thei ben turned hooli to God.
That the meditacion of the manhede of Crist or of his passion is yyven of God, and how it schal be knowen whanne it is yeven.
That the meditacioun of the passioun of Crist is withdrawen from hem that it is yyven to ofte sithes for divers skyles.
Of divers temptaciouns of the feend of helle.
OF A BEAUTIFUL VISION WHICH APPEARED TO A YOUNG MAN WHO HATED THE HABIT OF ST FRANCIS SO GREATLY, THAT HE WAS ON THE POINT OF LEAVING THE ORDER
Section 1: Of Prayers and the several Sorts thereof
Section 2: How they should do that are troubled with vain Thoughts in their Prayers
Our text covers 9 chapters of the Medieval text, these are:
Of praier that is spedful to gete clennes in herte and vertues.
Hou men schulde praie, and whereon the poynt of the thought schal be sette in prayere.
Of the fier of love.
That certayn praier in speche ordeyned of God and of holi chirche is best to hem that aren bounden and ordeyned therto, and to hem that yyven hem newli to devocion.
HOW THE VINE OF THE PRIEST OF RIETI, WHOSE HOUSE ST FRANCIS ENTERED TO PRAY, WAS TRAMPLED UNDER FOOT BY THE GREAT NUMBERS WHO CAME TO SEE HIM, AND HOW IT YET PRODUCED A GREATER QUANTITY OF WINE THAN USUAL, AS ST. FRANCIS HAD PROMISED; AND HOW THE LORD REVEALED TO THE SAINT THAT HEAVEN WOULD BE HIS PORTION WHEN HE LEFT THIS WORLD
A brief Rehearsal of what hath been said, and of an Offering made of them altogether to Jesus
Of a litil rehersynge of thynges biforseid, and of makynge offrynge of that schulde be offrid to God Chapter title from chapter 23 of The Scale of Perfection – Book 1 in Middle English
OF THE WONDERFUL CHAPTER HELD BY ST FRANCIS AT ST MARY OF THE ANGELS, AT WHICH MORE THAN FIVE THOUSAND FRIARS WERE PRESENT
Of a firm and resolute Intent and Purpose necessary hereto
How a stable entent is nedefulle to thise that schal plese God and discrecioun in bodili werkes. Chapter title from chapter 22 of The Scale of Perfection – Book 1 in Middle English