Walter Hilton

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Part of "The English Mystics"

Conference 3: Walter Hilton

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two noon at walter hilton this wonderful english really spiritual director
a few rave notices i hope you will know even an underhill marvelous english woman
a mistake and historian who helped us all rediscover the english mistakes and not just the english mistakes but in a time that was given to us church activists of add dubbed service etc she stressed this contemplative side to the christian vocation she was a wonderful anglicans who
had a splendid deep roman catholic as her spiritual director on baron bond girl and dump it's at that level but a humanism could really happen anyway she writes of water hilton probably know english devotional book has had so why
wine and in enduring and influence is the scale of perfection
perhaps the most wonderful description of christ centered contemplation that exists the most precious treasury and medieval religion so high praise and she knows the whole range and snowed as if she's limited in her scope then a wonderful english or benedictine scholar
who are dead the translation and presentation of this version of the scale by jeffrey chapman
noted travel and rights the greatest of our fourteenth century medieval writers are many would very much contests that merton says that to juliet is certainly the greatest and others would insist the cloud but how do you determine the greatest but any rate it's enough to get our attention and their sub splendid
image addition of of the stairway of perfection and it's a pocket books so you can carry it places and various and a dish has a wonderful introduction by del mastro and he writes despite the almost six hundred years that lie between us and walter hill
when the stairway of perfection is is applicable in the twentieth century as any contemporary guide and sounder the mini so many of us find this that these writers they speak with an immediate seat it's quite astonishing and quite comforting
martin thornton who's a fine anglican writer of the medieval tradition and of anglican spirituality he writes the prime source for him for the english church on the teaching of spiritual direction this is a very big thing now spiritual direction we realized that we shouldn't just travel alone we
shouldn't kind of vibe try to be our own guide it's so healthy to be able to bounce things off someone else who's who's wise and who's experienced and duct martin thornton a suggests well this is walter shorting for us a jesuit
james walsh rights the most complete lucid and balanced treatise on the interior life that the late middle ages produced so all kinds of praise what's his life we don't know when he was born he studied at cambridge is another very seriously grounded obvious
a writer grounded in theology probably he got his doctorate in theology there then he went into the hermits light for a while he's an augustinian canon of the priory of a third garten in nottingham shoe
it was very important priory that time he became a well-known spiritual director he died about thirteen ninety five so towards the very end of the thirteenth century he knew richard role he knew that the author of the cloud of annoying and up he critiques
both of them it also depends upon lol there's now a theory that there was an ongoing dialogue between him and he authored the cloud either directly or indirectly and so a second later treatise to the cloud of even kind of modifies and correct so to speak though the writing of the cloud in the law
criticisms of water hilton so once you get into the school you can get very detailed and it gets fun it can the school can nourish up a whole lifetime of study but more than that these are just books at one can pick up and top spiritually grow with
a characteristic is that this comes from his lived experience but not just that he knows the full tradition before a solid christian contemplative tradition so there's a both and then there's his own character which is gentle which is what bob modest which is sub wants to be careful
the balance not dogmatic you've got to do it this way he never says that he says i'll propose a way it works for me it works for some people i've known if it doesn't work for you have don't worry just set it aside so is very modest despite his real knowledge of the whole heritage
judge and that he evidently himself as a man of real prayer and holiness i find this so refreshing myself some people who get a bit involved in the spiritual life and of get a bit of a reputation for a teacher of they get kind of a guru complex they have the answer for it
they just know it all of this can come from europe and a fundamentalist protestant tv evangelists on the one hand or your up
your abbott's and up permits on the other hand or up ah bishops or whatever but he's saying oh we gotta be careful here the other person is a great mystery and we want to speak with great caution and hesitation st gregory the great one of the chief fonts
for up for water hilton since this is the most difficult of arts it's the art of arts because we're dealing with to immense mysteries here the mystery of god and god's will and the mystery the other person and then there's the mystery of our self involved here so let's not done kind of fun
d infallible potentates here enter
his his son fonts your sources it's always good when you read a person to ask who did he just made this up what are his chief sources how deeply and solidly is he into them will get a cambridge grad and the three great fathers of the west augusta and gregory the great and bernard he
knows them and he draws very solidly from them he know specifically his own immediate heritage again of richard role in the cloud this is nice he's he's inculturated into the english scene and then for theologians he's he knows st thomas aquinas so but
europe could do worse than again if you want to get deeper into am the wonderful introduction to him in the image edition by del mastro the wonderful solid introduction into the young polish edition or by oh john clark wonderful jesuit scholar
but fifty some pages here this is a very recent edition nineteen ninety one
and then all kinds of other this is another i use this up because i read it so many years ago at a nice up the reduction here by treble
so he sets up a ladder he wants to see the whole range of the christian life and this is helpful to see the overview and then try to ponder where where am i more or less and this ladder is basically a
based on growth in intimacy with god and this is characterized by different ways of praying
and so he has four basic steps and there to so logical that tough i think they're quite wonderful first up is this characteristic of prayer of set vocal prayer you're taught certain prayers you taught the our father you're taught the hail mary your taught the rosary you pray them
and that's prayer for you they come from outside they come from teachers and of you will be and you pray them this can be a very deep way of prayer in its own way but it's not terribly interior i just yet
so set vocal prayers from without
the second step is vocal prayers from within now out of your own experience move by the holy spirit you're starting to dialogue with god this is becoming claimed personal existential
that's a second the third step is an entering into silence beyond words
just there there's nothing to say it's it's so profound this will correspond to all the major mistakes had seeped and consuming a translation zero nine go back and forth according to
ip persist the treble when but just beautiful a brief snippets of his his careful of description the third degree of prayer is in the heart alone it is without words and is accompanied by great peace and tranquillity of body and soul so this can be
for periods then as this becomes our way of deal with god you can indeed become habitual as a result their affections become wholly spiritual their hearts are continually at prayer and they can love and praise god without serious hindrance from temptations are worldly thoughts
oh and this kind of prayers and paul spoke when you said if i pray with my tongue only by an effort of the will the prayers commendable my soul is not satisfied
so to move into this silent prayer
and in the fourth step is would work just drawn above ourselves in ecstasy and here's uses language that's characteristic of richard role that is the spouse or language he does it with great of sobriety he writes definitely pros a role is just i think a wonderful early
english poet but he has his prose this stage of contemplation is so perfectly accompanied by a soft sweet burning love in him that the soul for the time being is made one with god and conform to the image of the trinity by this ravishing of love so he also is a love mistake but rather more soberly
the beginning of this kind of contemplation can be experienced in this life but it's full mrs reserved for the bliss of heaven
here are in other words whoever is fastened to god by the ravishing of love was fastened so the god and his soul or not two but one one in spirit and truly by this union of marriages me between god and the soul which shall never be broken
so this is a basic ladder which it sees me makes eminent sense it's not that in the higher rungs you don't go back to vocal prayer of course you do daily if like him you're an augustinian a monk or someone who loves the psalms are and also out of your heart you to pray spontaneously that's fine but
the deepest each stage is characterized by intuit pants and new threshold and suddenly you are praying at that level also whereas people who haven't attained to it is hard for them to imagine it the a little child of disperse gets on his knees and recites the our father
but doesn't dream of just resting in silence for long periods with god
this is i teach me so reasonable it's absolutely parallel to any growth of intimacy with another person of you date a person and you start out with these fixed forms how are you in my name is this is my work and what is your work there if their phrases that we learn
and then slowly out of the spontaneity the heart there's the dialogue then if relationship really gross of the to feel very comfortable simply in silence
and finally there's the ecstasy of the union in the highlands of the matrimonial bliss cetera so it's such it's a way of characterizing of maturity and god that has nothing esoteric or weird to it it certainly has nothing to do with seen more visions are having
more prophecies or anything like that it's growing in love and in this inevitable or development of love so it's a developmental theory of the christian life that centered on prayer that is centered on communion with god and is just stop it seems to me it's hard to take exception to it
then he gets into then he new ones is that that's our first model there we should have four rungs there but then he gets into all the possible or focuses of prayer the various virtues the various of practices and at that point
he seems to become terribly untidy because your discuss one theme and chapter three and then you'd think well he's gotten beyond it as he gets to chapter five seven but sending he's back on that theme in chapter nine and then maybe he addresses it again in chapter fourteen so some scholars have said
somatic that was evil and under hills of judgment of the model is nice of a stairway you go for one thing to another but in fact it's not that it at all and don david knows who is so critical of richard role as a more advanced mistake the he appreciates him as an early mystic he says there's much medieval degress
russian and disorder in this book so that's a problem but the introduction this book comes up i think would a brilliant of defense and proposal del mastro say it's a stairway it's a spiral stairway that's what this is running to represent the
this is one of these marvelous stairways goes right up to heaven so the maestro says did this this is a literary genre of incremental balanced advance it is repetition but carrying forward upward and so as same theme is addressed further on but from
an advanced stage from a wider horizon on things and of the author of this introduction says this is extremely wise because this is precisely the way it is in our spiritual life if you're working on humility and the first years and done then you go on to work on our hope and cetera
then your astonishment of the whole agenda of humility comes back five years later is it did you just sunk back again to a rung one know
your your with the same theme but quite iran and then don't be astonished if maybe seven years later this same thing comes back or struggles with chastity or insights about whenever christian law for whatever so it's a more nuanced
model that permits are an incremental growth of sight
so it seems to me that's marvelous and whether he had this explicitly in mind or more at the level of just are implicit wise experience one can debate master insists this is a a characteristic model of the more subtle of the medieval teachers
so i think that answers the question of repetition but apart from in this book again this is something that comes out very much in the spiritual like when my deal with distractions in the first period and be astonished that they come back so powerfully p b temptations against
chastity or whenever i get down the line thoughts of pride or of wedderburn is but this is the answer don't be surprised if things come back of course they do because there is this spiral
he's again extremely cautious you he proposes a theme and then he says or so me think of that it's at this is my opinion but this is again not a written in concrete up
he offers a scheme and a method and a discipline for growth but he doesn't want to impose it is absolute he says others are different and so take it if it helps but don't dab get obsessed with an imposing it if it doesn't work
now i have told you a little about reforming in faith now i have also touched a little for you on the process of going forth from that reformation to the higher reforming in experience and lovely also the sell these modest adjectives it's a little here synthetic cultures
little rule for beginners of there's no arrogance here and that's the ultimate of christian temptation is spiritual pride and he's always on his guard personally against it it is not my intention and saying these words to subject gods working to a law that i am formulated
much matches to say this is how god may work in a soul and not as if to say this is how god made work in a they're not otherwise know that is not what i'm saying what i'm doing a scene from my simple experience that our lord jesus works in this way it's some creatures as i believe
and i believe he works in other ways as well which go beyond my intelligence and experience this is wonderful i don't know it all of that this is one way that works for some it's a little way i find it's so refreshing and the spiritual life if you don't find this in a book
we're in a director or in a teacher i'd say be very careful
a went up professor of spirituality berkeley says this is what distinguishes the authentic christian teacher from the suspect this sense of modesty this fear and trembling this hesitation to a pontificate
so there are many ways of the mountain and we can rejoice in this diversity but he he has the courage to say there's one summer to the mountain and up as to yard in our own time says all that rises must converge so this is our join you may have quite a different path and i will get there
will come together at the top that's wonderful
nevertheless whether he works this way or another way by various means in a longer or shorter time with much labor or with little effort if all this works comes to the same end that is to the perfect love of him than it's all good enough
so we're getting it's the same summit for all of us the perfect love of god you can't have put it in any other terms but there are many ways to get to the top of the mountain then he says it's some people he'll give the gift of contemplation maybe in a month in other people who take years that's all right the people it takes years shouldn't
have envy and think what they should get a new month because the other the other person shouldn't up get into spiritual pride there it's just pure grace of one may take this particular approach another another or that's just part of a wonderful diversity of gifts
tonight up at vespers were reading from first corinthians said bennett eight sep two paul is trying to drum into to this a very problematic first corinthians earth corinthians community does all these gifts in the spirit but still so problematic and so messed up a know there's a diversity of keeps a marvelous diversity
gifts and if you've got one gift you shouldn't have sneer at another gift well it's so this is this basic new testament pauline message that he is trying to get across so he says up in you're trying to discern what method of prayer to use how long to pray how much fat
thing to do just see what unites shoot more to the lore to very simple criterion don't ask yourself again what is someone so doing or what does such and such books say or
that kind of thing up but very carefully very personally in a very existential way to serve is this helping me now to grow into christ that's the basic a bucket line so whatever form of prayer meditation or activity leads you to the high
highest and purest desire for him into the deepest experience of you will be the means by which you may their seek and find him so that's our weight it's the way that so it's our way think that he can put this in just specifically a christology
equal terms in terms of jesus whatever pursuit or spiritual exercise fosters and strengthens your desire for jesus detaches your mind from worldly desires and concerns and kindle a deeper fuller love of god whether it be prayer or meditation silence or speech reading or listening
seclusion or company walking or sitting still continue to employ it for as long as it is helpful
so again there's not this dogmatism were all called to solitude if you're not in solitude you're failing know some need more solitude so we need more community some need more silence seventy more speaking of and it's a very individual personal criteria of discernment
not in terms of again what this book serves who was that book says and then he could turn around and put it in negative terms whatever
push you away from jesus drop that but it's the up the basic richard of cheeky offers a suggestion of really moderation when it comes to aesthetical means he's a writing for a solitary but also doubly for a wider community says be
careful here is you get more and more intense you might think well if i'm praying
ten hours today i'll try to pray twelve hours tomorrow to convince myself that i'm always progressing if i only eating half her
slice of bread today i'll try to eat only a quarter of a slice tomorrow that's not what it's all about it's all about basically communion with jesus and this other stuff can actually be a very harmful in that regard
and as regards your food drink and sleep
behave sensibly and follow the guidance of your superior as a pilgrim don't sleep sleep is not some are concession to the devil or to the fallen flesh or something sleep is part of our human nature that god has created in blessed deep insights can come in sleep so also eating eating is very archetypical
the sitting down to eat drink with his friends and he scandalize as the pharisees it's a mix of the parties he's a wide bieber etc
ah but sensibly it's a wonderful now our english i think proposal we're not here to destroy our body for god we're here to enter in a deeper union with god and that requires body mind and spirit for and however great a hurry the appeal
okay maybe he must eat drink and sleep do the same for although sometimes it may delay you and others to help you on your way so very reasonable stuff here moderation regarding that means because the end is so important so be careful
i have too much pennants
this other one i like these little snippets i believe such pendants hinders the fervor of loving contemplation this can only be experienced soberly in great rest a body and spirit if you're constantly just on the verge of falling asleep because you've have been engaged to many vigils that
not a christian or contemplative life therefore do reasonably what you're supposed to do protect your physical health live within reason and then it's suffice a godsend you what he wills be it health or sickness take it gladly and don't ever deliberately grumble against god
the goal again is this perfect union with god these other things are only means big sean's fasting silence solitude they're not answer themselves will see despair emphatically in the cloud of annoying god is not tools god is not fasting god is not
what an absence of words of
god is god and can be encountered in through vigils and fasting but also in it through sleeping and eating in a true silence but also in through words but the key is the union with god
it's a strong love mysticism just like richard role but in a much more sober terms much more a quiet and reserved and and of dignified english stuff
ah the big problem if we're going to go the way of prayer is is distraction temptation ah and so our life is a battle it's a battle against temptation against distraction and up this struggle itself is extremely
educative maturing and humbling precisely because humbling were not a beyond all temptation jesus was tempted ferociously
oh so that we are tempted five there's a great deal to learn from the temptation is also influenced by the desert fathers the desert fathers say if a man's not tempted against chastity there's no virtue in his study is when there's ongoing battle that there's the up the virtue the merit
and the growing in commitment to bad
if one fights against temptation you need a little fair fear of yielding to and finally for the struggle itself will dispel any false sense of security any vainglory it is right that a person should be at peace with all things except the deadfall at the devil and this
simple image against which he must fight constantly in mind and body until he has overcome them but like not overcome them this is a real downer accurate years and years of trying
he will not entirely overcome them in this life or he carries this image with it's evil influence with him he's started about performs soberly augustinian here the for has not been this destruction of the image and likeness of god in us but it has been the winding ah
the smudging over and the image and likeness so we will fall quite regularly as we go up the ladder but that just means gap and try again
us if we're focused on christ will be more aware of all our feelings and distractions if we just don't care if we can be carried by any readers thing that comes up there is no problem whatever so precisely the awareness of problem and be pulled this way and that is an indication
that one is really trying when has in the the highest level of ones will and it hope and intention when has that objective who is god
for so long as a person allows his mind to roam freely over a wide range of subjects he is not aware of many difficulties but as soon as he directs his whole mind and desire to a single objective desiring to possess it see it know it and love it that objective being jesus himself
so you will certainly encountered many distressing obstacles for everything that he encounters other than the object of his desire is a hindrance so it's a wonderful paradoxical a kind of wisdom
it's emphatically of jesus christ centered it's extremely biblical if you're wandering if you're finding it difficult go back to scripture
that's our basic source of nourishment this is wonderful again had the church stuck with this stuff perhaps something like the reformation might not have happened with the whole idea of of the vernacular of centering on christ of centering on a scripture
shoe found you suppose you've lost the coin who is christ this coin is jesus whom you have lost if you wish to find him light the lamp of god's word is david says by this lamp you will see where he is how you may find him to lovely image so go back to the gospel
go back to the to the letters of paul and up you find jesus again
and this other help is the name of jesus claim to the name and here again is obtained and we found and richard roe this is the theme it'll be launched precisely this century so emphatically the eastern church the name of jesus claim to this name it's wonderful spirit
jewel prayer resource
yeah can you feel a great longing in your heart for jesus by the remembrance of his name or any other word parodied and if this longing is so strong that is forced drives out of your heart all other thoughts and desires of this world and the flesh thank you are indeed seeking your lord jesus
so the claim to this name so that you are enclosed in jesus alone resting in him with the warmth of tender love then you have found something of jesus
so up it's a it's a wonderful also up jesus centered spirituality
but as with the to grow that means love of neighbor especially friendship but that also means struggling with the neighbor you don't like so much this isn't the even richard road so much but a obviously this is a man who has to live in community and in community some people are easier for us and some people are more day
difficult he says living in love with those people are more difficult for us this is tremendously helpful this is more helpful than all sorts of other extraordinary acts and things
it is no achievement to watch individuals and fast until your headaches and your body sickens work on to rome and jerusalem on your bare feet not a rush about preaching as though you expected to could convert everyone on the earth nor is it an achievement to build churches and chapels
to feed the poor to build hospitals but it is a great achievement for a person to be able to love his fellow christian in charity and to be discerning enough to hate his sin and yet love the siddur the just wonderful this was as a century of rushing off on pilgrimage and
the extraordinary and visionaries of as if every century of the later church so this century was was filled with these people doing extraordinary things securing prophecies you can imagine the fourteenth century the thing the thinking it will work towards the end of the world it's all going to ensue that's what the black plague is telling us and ah
all these wars and uprisings etc it's all the apocalypse now kind of thing is a settle noun just love your neighbor next to you and praying and up that'll get us through
prayer is what helps which gives us the energy to persevere and tear up very much like richard role very much like eastern father's devote all your energies to prayer so that your soul may come to a real person
option of god that is that you may come to know the wisdom of god the infinite might have our lord jesus christ is green goodness in himself towards all his creatures this is what it's all about
simple open your heart to god and love are giving just basically be up the first commandment to battle with against distractions he suggests these simple brief prayers
when you pray begin by directing your will and intention to god as briefly and purely as possible then continue as well as you can it says intention of the highest point of the will that's the key then if distractions come well you didn't will the distractions gently come by
back to god god isn't this severe of irrational a tyrant god that just wants to beat you if you're distracted or what loving parent if the child playing in the parents presences distracted a little with a toy or something jumps up and beats the child and says know ye
you must only pay attention to me god knows how fragile we are god knows that are head yourself at the spiritual directors called the monkey mind which is bouncing here and there in a thousand votes but it's the the heart of the intention that's locked on god then slowly we can find the means readily to come back
back to god it also true these brief intense prayers and that's the jesus prayer also then we'll also have a victory even in the midst of all these distractions even if it comes only at the end
furthermore assault never finds peace of hardy prayer but as to struggle against so many distractions and troublesome bots all her life provided that she keeps herself in humility and charity this is the key are you loving your neighbor are your humble she receive for rewarding him for all her to
rumble so is terrible problem of distractions no problem at all it's very much relativise by these masters if you're trying to clean to god slowly the young kind of the street savvy will come of how to how to work a little better with the distractions how to be a little more a united to garden and and
going way but in the meantime or patience with yourself
as you journey the first experiences joy and enthusiasm and filled with the spirit and light that's wonderful be with that
but as you turn a deeper into christ it can go into a kind of and aridity a silence a of desert experience at night and the he's such a good what
a century and a half before john of the cross but he's very explicitly talking about the night as mystics way back earlier pseudo dionysius taught what as you advance it's not advancing toward born more in enthusiasm and consolation and voices etc it's a advancing into a quiet
or more hushed darker kind of experience but anyone who realizes that beloved this world is faults and transitory therefore wishes to abandon it and seek the pure love of god cannot at once experiences love but must churning a while into this night
you cannot pass send me from the first light to the other the first light is the immediate constellations that god gives us the enthusiasm etc that is from the love of spiritual consolations to the perfect love of god
this night that his experience is nothing other than a withdrawal of the soul from earthly things by an intense desire to love see and know jesus in himself
this is a real night for justice night is dark hiding all cancellations and bringing all bodily activity to a halt similarly one who sets himself to think of jesus and desires is love alone has tried to withdraw his thoughts infections were created things you
doing so is mind will be set free and his affections liberated from enslavement do anything of a nature inferior to his own if you can do this though than it is night for him for he is in darkness so some songs are absolutely thrown off by stating my lord feeling in my for
first enthusiasm god is abandoned me or something i remember talking to a young monk cure was ready to leave the place he thought well he done so well the first months and then things just contract now this isn't advance this is a maturation this is getting beyond the first stumped honeymoon enthusiasm so it's a dark
weakness but then he uses his beautiful poetic phrase but this is a night pregnant with good it is a glowing darkness for shuts out the false love of this world and ushers in the dawn of the true day indeed the darker this night the nearer the true day up above of jesus
so this is a fairly profound stuff
so his exhortation simply persevere so we have with walter children i think is a humble modest but and therefore precisely therefore an extremely solid and extremely wise spiritual director who knows the whole range of the journey from back
baptism to the deepest union and guides with all kinds of practical hints every stage and knows the recurrences of the problems up but gets us safely there with the such a solid and safe path really of interior prayer that grows ever more
the intimacy with god amen