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Mystiek > Over mystiek > Geschiedenis > Christelijk

Appendix (11)

Middeleeuwen: Andere mystici

If medieval mysticism in the West develops mainly under the sane and enduring influence of the Victorines and St. Bernard, in Germany and Italy it appeared in a more startling form; seeking, in the prophetic activities of St. Hildegarde of Bingen and the Abbot Joachim of Flora, to influence the course of secular history. In St. Hildegarde and her fellow-Benedictine St. Elizabeth of Schönau (1138-1165) we have the first of that long line of women mystics - visionaries, prophetesses, and political reformers - combining spiritual transcendence with great practical ability, of whom St. Catherine of Siena is probably the greatest example. Exalted by the strength of their spiritual intuitions, they emerged from an obscure life to impose their wills, and their reading of events, upon the world. From the point of view of Eternity, in whose light they lived, they attacked the sins of their generation. St. Hildegarde, a woman of powerful character, apparently possessed of abnormal psychic gifts, was driven by that Living Light which was her inspiration to denounce the corruptions of Church and State. In the inspired letters which she sent like firebrands over Europe, we see German idealism and German practicality struggling together; the unflinching description of abuses, the vast poetic vision by which they are condemned. These qualities are seen again in the South German mystics of the next century: the four Benedictine women of genius, who had their home in the convent of Helfde. These are the Nun Gertrude (Abbess 1251-1291) and her sister St. Mechtild of Hackborn (ob. 1310), with her sublime symbolic visions: then, the poet of the group, the exquisite Mechtild of Magdeburg (1212-1299), who, first a béguine at Magdeburg, where she wrote the greater part of "The Flowing Light of the Godhead," came to Helfde in 1268; last the celebrated St. Gertrude the Great (1256-1311). In these contemplatives the political spirit is loess marked than in St. Hildegarde: but religious and ethical activity takes its place. St. Gertrude the Great is a characteristic Catholic visionary of the feminine type: absorbed in her subjective experiences, her often beautiful and significant dreams, her loving conversations with Christ and the Blessed Virgin. Close to her in temperament is St. Mechthild of Hackborn; but her attitude as a whole is more impersonal, more truly mystic. The great symbolic visions in which her most spiritual perceptions are expressed are artistic creations rather than psycho-sensorial hallucinations, and dwell little upon the humanity of Christ, with which St. Gertrude is constantly occupied. The terms in which Mechthild of Magdeburg - an educated and well-born woman, half poet, half seer - describes her union with God are intensely individual, and apparently owe more to the romantic poets of her time than to earlier religious writers. The works of this Mechthild, early translated into Latin, were read by Dante. Their influence is traceable in the "Paradiso"; and by some scholars she is believed to be the Matilda of his Earthly Paradise, though others give this position to her sister-mystic, St. Mechthild of Hackborn.

Modern scholarship tends more and more to see in the strange personality of the Abbot Joachim of Fiora, whom Dante placed among the great contemplatives in the Heaven of the Sun, the chief influence in the development of Italian mysticism. The true import of his prophecies, which proclaimed in effect the substitution of mystical for institutional Christianity, was only appreciated after his death. But their prestige grew during the course of the thirteenth century; especially after the appearance of the mendicant friars, who seemed to fulfil his prediction that the new era of the Holy Spirit would be brought in about the year 1260 by two new Orders who would live in poverty the spiritual life. From this time, Joachism found its chief vehicle of expression through Franciscan mysticism of the more revolutionary sort. Though there is no evidence that St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) knew the prophecies of the "Eternal Gospel," he can hardly have grown up without some knowledge of them, and also of the Cathari and other semi-mystical heresies - many of them stressing the idea of evangelical poverty - which were spreading through Italy from the north. But the mystical genius which may have received food from these sources was itself strikingly original; the spontaneous expression of a rare personality, a great spiritual realist who admitted no rival to the absolute claims of the mystical life of poverty and joy. St. Francis was untouched by monastic discipline, or the writings of Dionysius or St. Bernard. His only literary influence was the New Testament. With him, mysticism comes into the open air, seeks to transform the stuff of daily life, speaks the vernacular, turns the songs of the troubadours to the purposes of Divine love; yet remains completely loyal to the Catholic Church. None who came after him succeeded in recapturing his secret, which was the secret of spiritual genius of the rarest type: but he left his mark upon the history, art, and literature of Western Europe, and the influence of his spirit still lives.

Zie, ieder ding is het jouwe, dus: ontbreekt je iets, dan ken je je eigen rijkdom nog niet.
- Ursula K. Leguin -

Roemi: Daglicht
Een dagboek van spirituele leiding. Nederlandse vertaling door Sipko den Boer en Aleid C. Swierenga
Cover van Daglichti /"Daglicht" is een bloemlezing met teksten van de Perzische mysticus Roemi (1207-1273). Ik vond dit boek dermate bijzonder, dat ik het graag langs deze weg aan
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