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Medieval Spirituality

annis
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Post by annis » Fri October 31st, 2008, 10:47 pm

This is all very interesting :)

Mechtlid of Magdeburg apparently experienced some difficulties in Magdeburg - her project, putting into writing her mystical experiences, took many years as it was interrupted by periods of sickness and having to deal with the attacks of religious critics. She was rather critical in her writings about the decline of morals amongst the clerics of her time, which probably didn't gain her too many friends in the Church establishment!

Mechtild was taken under the wing of the sympathetic nuns of Helfta, another convent famous for its learned nuns, among them the mystics Gertrud the Great of Helfta and Mechtild of Hakeborn.
http://www.kloster-helfta.de/9/21/index.php

Mechtild of Madgeburg was unusual in that she wrote in the vernacular of the times rather than Latin, what we would now call Middle Low German.

Here's one of Mechtild's mystical poems:

A fish cannot drown in water,
A bird does not fall in air.
In the fire of creation,
God doesn't vanish:
The fire brightens.
Each creature God made
must live in its own true nature;
How could I resist my nature,
That lives for oneness with God?

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Margaret
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Post by Margaret » Mon November 3rd, 2008, 9:46 pm

That's a wonderful poem - she sounds quite modern!
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annis
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Post by annis » Fri November 7th, 2008, 7:45 pm

If we're gong to get metaphysical, I guess we could say it's a reminder that the transcendent experience of spiritual communion is timeless and that the conventional boundaries of time are irrelevant to it :)

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Christina
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Post by Christina » Sat November 8th, 2008, 1:57 pm

[quote=""annis""]If we're gong to get metaphysical, I guess we could say it's a reminder that the transcendent experience of spiritual communion is timeless and that the conventional boundaries of time are irrelevant to it :) [/quote]

How beautifully expressed :) ! Interesting, isn't it, that virtually all the great mystics were, in their own time, condemned - or at least treated with great suspicion - by religious authorities. I suspect that the realization that one has direct communion with the Divine, is a threat to those who would hold on to power and their positions of authority as 'mediators' between the masses and God. :rolleyes:
Not a German, but another Medieval mystic/theologian about whom a fascinating and quite unusual bio-novel has been written, is Peter Abelard. I was 'compelled' to study Helen Waddell's book "Peter Abelard" as a student and didn't greatly appreciate it. However, having returned to it recently, it is a very interesting read - both scholarly and beautifully romantic in parts...

annis
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Post by annis » Sun November 9th, 2008, 6:58 pm

Christina, yes, mystics would definitely have been regarded as a threat in an era where the whole structure of the Church was based on reaching God by intercession through an accredited member of the clergy, and of course, a very lucrative business it was too.

I keep meaning to track down a copy of "Abelard's Love", Luise Riner's novel about Heloise and Abelard, written from the point of view of their rather forgotten son, Astrolabe. Have you read it?

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Christina
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Post by Christina » Mon November 10th, 2008, 12:32 am

Hi Annis...No, I've not read "Abelard's Love" and would be interested in finding it!

Am not sure that life is much different today regarding the need for mediators and intercessors :-) The number of heretics burned at the stake, the number of 'witches' burned at the stake, and even today the bizarre battles in Jerusalem between various churches....

And all the while, as Robert Louis Stevenson wrote, the mystics go on "at their own private pace, like a clock in a thunderstorm." :-)

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Post by annis » Mon November 10th, 2008, 6:39 am

Posted by Christina
even today the bizarre battles in Jerusalem between various churches....
Unbelievable scenes indeed today in Jerusalem between brawling Greek and Armenian monks at the Church of the Holy Sephuchure. What were they thinking?!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ohKAT6qT ... re=related

I love Robert Louis Stevensons' description- I hadn't come across that before.

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Christina
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Post by Christina » Tue November 11th, 2008, 11:34 pm

[quote=""annis""]Unbelievable scenes indeed today in Jerusalem between brawling Greek and Armenian monks at the Church of the Holy Sephuchure. What were they thinking?!
[/quote]

It rather reminded me of when monks from different orders in Medieval England used to fight over who would own the relics of a saint :confused :? ?

Really...how bizarre! :eek:

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