Introduction to the English Mystics

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Part of "The English Mystics"

Conference 1: Introduction to the English Mystics

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mystics richard roe walter hilton and the author the cloud welcome to you here and also to arab television audience at its peak and don't take audience these three form a fairly compact cohesive whole
because they lived in the same even half century and they lived in the same area of england not more than one hundred miles apart one from another
but apart from this some kind of fuck these outer characteristics of geography and time there's an inner spirit that binds them and they knew the one of the other their writings and he also debate back and forth and that's kind of fun in when seeks to correct the other but there's i think
a particular spirit of that time and place that up that inspires them and so i'll try to argue its spirit i think it's very much alive in our own time so that we can learn so much from these three the term english school reefers classically to them plus julian we will
don't touch julian this time simply because she's so profound she's so vast and she's i think quite distinct from the other three she has had you might know what series of very unique visions the space of a very short period of time then she spent the rest of her life pondering these visions and out of them she's a
able to draw a very deep spiritual theology of now these three are not like that they're not focusing on their visions are drawing for the marvelous theological reflection but they're trying to help others praying basically these are manuals of prayer we could say
say so are a much more accessible to us yes this is our our desire to learn how to pray better then of course if you go to the centuries before the centuries after you can come up with so many other english mystics so it is quite arbitrary to limit to these three so we're just
just gathering three out of really a marvelous multitude we could look at the venerable be seen a red we could look at st afterwards also marjorie camp at the same period go down in to work the great anglican mystics of thomas trader or
william more a whole series of others but we're focusing on these just because we have such limited time also in any one of these we could spend weeks and weeks weeks or so profound so this is a first introduction that i hope will lead to an ongoing love of these three and i've done especially the case
loud as much read these days it's just a classic but to understand the cloud better i think it is better it is good to bounce bounce him off richard wrong who precedes him and walter hilton who comes after him whoever three assume it is a him so these then
r r up are three they lived kind of towards the middle end of the fourteenth century the thirteen hundred in england that's a faraway place in a faraway time but a wonderful the social historian barbara tuchman recently row
about a distant mirror a social history the fourteenth century with notes of parallels to our own so a distant mirror than the title suggests somehow in many ways there's so much like up the fourteenth century in our own experience of the nineteen hundreds that we can i
think i'm pretty much resonate with their experience there are we aren't into a cyclical view of history certainly but maybe a spiral view and certain problem certain events certain tragedy seem to return with a certain frequency well they are up spirits very much like our own
some the characteristics of the fourteenth century it was the century at the very terrible hundred year war between england and france in our terms these were two very small poor nations and they just didn't have the resources to go on with his blood drawn out of staggering
smoke away a war that a pulled way so many of the young men from england and from france so much taxman will just made england taught her of socially a terrible time will think of our own experience sofa wars and taxes was the
a time of the black plague terrible plague and up course science wasn't did a very advanced level and it was bought quite directly this was god's punishment for all kinds of infidelities but historians estimate that something like a third of the people of england died of the play
and de france it seems that richard roll the first man will look at he died of the plague but if you imagine your town just imagine that up in the course of one hundred years of a third of the people die just of of this one disaster situation
because we have our lights of cancer and up polio and tough eight snow but done it was a quite a shock that than dimension of their experience that the social unrest caused by the heavy taxation caused by this dreadful drawn out war
or think of all the young vietnam protests etc but we had the peasants uprising and angry radicalized priests radio leading the peasants and and citing them on all kinds of up really kind of pre communists stub ideology and hopes to go
back to a kind of a just classless society etc and the king therefore had to defend himself at home as well as abroad and dreadful social unrest then the situation to church was not pretty it was the time of the so-called babylonian captivity where the the pope had be
when up and had to flee off to avignon and remember again that france was the hated enemy of the english so here's all these good english catholics whose spiritual leader in his stuff under the political control of of the french so it's not a very happy situation
but for all levels for this is some very painful age there's a flourishing of mysticism in england in france and germany this is interesting is there any causal connection many historians we'd suggest well it my p that it's such a disastrous
time your caused you're forced to think about the ultimate the is you're forced to think about the afterlife and to go within since the outside it's not that consoling to ask what is it all about so are these mistakes women mystics made mystics the web
cmon sheer stubbornness is magnificent explosion a women visionary mystics writers make to gertrude are just today we've been celebrating saint bridget a wonderful visionary prophetic our founders of a kind of a benedictine order up in sweden who wrote off angry
the on advising them to get back to rome and as the a catherine of sienna another great mistake from a italy
angela foligno a eckhart tolle or or roseburg etc so in the eastern church gregory paul of us is flourishing that the so-called his he cast mystical tradition so there was something about that age of in spite of all the disasters and maybe because
the top it was also marked by this flourishing of mysticism what do we mean by mysticism or we just needed the most simple terms this very deep experiential communion with god it's just taking our lord's first commandment to love the lord our god with all your home
arts so random street and take that to a point where it's not just in the head or kind of gritted teeth but there's this is taste and see that the lord is good that's all it means so mysticism is simply the natural unfolding of what were granted in baptism we'd simply becoming mature christians
it's like in any relationship either our relationship it might be a friendship it might be a father son other son it might be a spouse or romantic the deepened steep and steepens were more and more there's this kind of con natural sharing
a psychologist called for effects of this kind of to become one well that's what happens as we grow in love with the our beloved god who is beloved father who is beloved mother friend spouse so that's why there's this flourishing of mysticism it's kind of encouraged by
the age whatever is happening no matter how disastrous it you can always pray at the very often in such a situation not only is that the only your constellation available but it's the only thing that can get you through as resource as light there's not much reference to this disastrous type image
these writings they were so focused the writers on this deep communion with god also in the truly new storage should she had an ongoing contact through all these pilgrims who would come and consult with her but up we don't need to be just torn apart and
kind of decimated by the disasters of our times we should have been able to be i can be aware front of minister to the needy etc but i think these mistakes and also domestics of our own age teach us that this might be a call to move beyond the the temporal in the penultimate into the ultimate
to find the of still center that that can hold the whole together
just reading a young interview with cardinal of martini who's a wonderful of ecclesiastic of italy the cardinal archbishop of milan he was the rector of the biblical in rome is a wonderful biblical scholar they're asking him where's the church going what are the signs of
the time he said one of the principal signs of the times's his interest in contemplative prayer all these parents who want to go to a deeper level of a shared experience of god
so are all these parallels with our own age of two world wars and korea vietnam and now bosnia it seems to drag on for so many decades this a threat and fear of nuclear disaster and done so on so forth of alcohol drugs
some urban rest etc all this i think causes many that they k what's it all about i've only got one lifetime what am i going to do with it up the out there is less appealing so you go with him kind of free
i'm apart from that the a contemplative spirituality that these three offer is so inviting that even if we lived in a very different time they've been popular right down through the ages whatever was happening especially the cloud have that julian so but now we want to well also
fill out the picture with the other two and so there's a where you are given this outline of the schedule good up for our tape our kids i'd like to read a quote on the bottom of that schedule which are participants here have already been able to read but it's a very succinct
kind of from rave notice from thomas merton about the english school if if you want a first good introduction to the english school particularly these three mystics twice our plus julian of norwich there's this wonderful essay the english mistakes by thomas merton and it seen his volume mystics
the and zen masters
well as he grew older he just fell in love more and more of the english mystics they became use a primary nourishment of spirituality and towards the and especially of julian of norwich there's one quote where he acknowledges that the early murky was all taken up with a carmelite school of up teresa jump across
and he said doug now he wouldn't sell julian for all the carmelites at all the west in the islands said knowledge you will share it all the rest so this is what more and more nourished him and his prayer was basically the prayer of the cloud we have very few ah
autobiographical passages in merton about how he experienced prayer he wrote so much and so much about contemplative prayer but it was from a kind of a impersonal or worth theological but precisely what he experienced we have only one or two public got published a passage
is that they say it was very much like the cloud in that wordless upper fed moving into a plate of a very mysterious communion with god that can't even be expressed he says in this essay there is every reason for interest in the english mystics they have a charm and simplicity that are unequaled by any others
school think we could use some simplicity and are very complicated age and they are also at me said generally quite clear down to earth and practical even when they are concerned with the loftiest of matters they never seem to have thought their life with got something recondite or even unusual they were simply christians
if you get into this whole area of spirituality if you go far enough from you can meet some fairly eccentric people and people can sometimes almost seem to think that the of bizarre they become the more a mystical they heard that that's not necessarily the case and these are three well at least two of them
a richard role it's a bit bizarre himself but the other two are are very practical saying men with senses of humor with the just their feet on the ground and this is extremely important because we're entering an area where you can go weird and where it's good to be guided
also all three of these are serious theologians this is important that is they are in touch with the fundamental doctrines of christianity and how those doctrines nourish our prayer so it's solid so it's safe again it's possible to go so weird in this area of prayer said
dr marjorie camp did in fact and you can even can we would go slightly up nuts this is an area it's a high risk if you don't really if you're not in a solid support community or if you're not guided by very solid texts like these so simplicity
the clarity practicality there's a great deal that can be said for that i think very much rooted in the biblical patristic monastic centuries they didn't just come make up stuff but it's a re expression a re articulation of what comes out of the the christian past and
terms of contemplative prayer
now they're basically benedictine up affordable none of them are directly were
and then there's another lovely quote up from merton they don't go gloom he they don't go bitter and mean and judgmental and to get into hellfire and very strange things again can happen when you get into this but they're into the very a center of the christian faith and proclamation
one which is easter which is the victory which is joy
that's what of mysticism should be all about here's a somewhat longer quote which i think it's a good one just to motivate us to read on
the masters of the english school each in his own way teach a doctrine of simplicity and joy when finds them nothing tragic nothing morbid know obsession no violence there is in the english school less blood and anguish less hell fire and horror than is to be found in any other
school of christian mysticism i think this is a very consoling for us of we live in such a down age it's important to recover a christian hope christian joy
not that the physical sufferings of christ on the cross were not real to them witnessed the first visions of lady julian but the light of mercy and the joy of life in the red risen savior transfigured even division of the crucified and this is of course as it should be
we just wanted me of our resurrection that's at the heart of our liturgical year at the heart of our christian faith well if you really want to live it up prey enter into the life of the recent christ and up to help you on that way of our english mistakes they're not just a kind of carbon
copies one of the other each one of these is very different and their writings are very different and i'm so in in the we took mentioned before how about kind of a cohesive unity there is but still unity within diversity and diversity within unity so that the author cloud is quite unlike water
ryota to criticizes critiques the author the cloud and they're both quite unlike richard gold variant like they both critique here so it's so i think that screw to get some kind of diabetic and discussion and debate going knowing that there's not just one way to journey on it
on for instance walter hilton tend to offer in an overview of the christian by in front of first beginnings of baptismal life in the lord to the highest levels of union with god but the whole rain should to put particular areas of this of into this larger context
but the second treatise of is a stairway are scaled up to them to paradise of the second part very much more focuses specifically on contemplative prayer but the cloud is very very focused just on that for
reem of wordless contemplative prayer so if you want to just specialize in that area of certainly read the cloud but then as will see you there are other treatises by the same author of the cloud that take the same theme or take other themes of from different angles and so you can even get a wider range
on the young english spirituality by reading various writings now available in english of the author of the clown then richard grow those first to the cloud writer and walter hilton or rather of careful sober prose writers up but
richard wrong as will see in the next tape or tomorrow morning is just a point he's just full of patient and wildness use a for on the enneagram yeah this is wild moments of up and down and great joy in anger and depression and if you're into of the more passionate read rich
grohl if you're into the more i'm kind of reserved and almost dry and careful but with the kind of a wry humor etc a read well him to do the cloud but they are helpful also in again this variety as we here in this room or or listers we're all different one from another and
but each one of us just again in virtue of our baptism is called to this deep contemplative prayer their the three are talking about
indeed theologians right you just in virtue of our humanity were called is per because the god who redeemed us in christ is the guy who created us had created as for god so there's that famous quote from augustan you have made us for yourself oh lord and we are restless to we rest of you
oh well that's just the basic theme of these writings and as we claim them and appropriate them procreate them ah we start simply to live who we are we become who we are as christians and simply as human beings
so up
if all this is helpful this will depend primarily on my conferences fortunately nor even on these books they're going to depend primarily on you and me to what extent we seriously commit ourselves risk intimacy with god in prayer
oh certainly in this particular period of the conferences of whatever other form of prayer is available here at new me a trijicon prayer the silence after vespers the silence of your own rooms the beauty of nature of etc all these different dimensions of christian prayer that's the real
weekend workshop and especially then after you descend from the mountain just that perseverance being faithful to of who we are called to be as just
loving children of god loving friends of god of loving spouse is of god
we're reading and refectory now of the letters of another great english mystic of the benedictine john chapman and he just very practical and very challenging the yes it's wonderful aphorism the only way to learn how to pray is to pray and the
only way to learn how to pray well is to pray often so that's the bottom line certainly you reach your role would agree with that and walter hilton in the author of the cloud but are we can be helped along the way we need ongoing encouragement and guides and up tremendous help
is this english school these books really can sustain us and help us on the way help us to pray often help us to pray well