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Mystiek > Over mystiek > Geschiedenis > Christelijk

Appendix (27)

Franse katholieke mystici in de zeventiende eeuw

The Catholic mysticism of this period is best seen in France, where the intellectual and social expansion of the Grande Siecle had also its spiritual side. Over against the brilliant worldly life of seventeenth-century Paris and the sickness and even corruption of much organised religion, there sprang up something like a cult of the inner life. This mystical renaissance seems to have originated in the work of an English Capuchin friar, William Fitch, in religion Benedict Canfield (1520-1611), who settled in Paris in old age and there became a centre of spiritual influence. Among his pupils were Madame Acarie (1566-1618) and Pierre de Bérulle (1575-1629), and through them his teaching on contemplation affected all the great religious personalities of the period. The house of Madame Acarie - a woman equally remarkable for spiritual genius and practical ability - became the gathering-point of a growing mystical enthusiasm, which also expressed itself in a vigorous movement of reform within the Church. Bérulle was one of the founders of the Oratory. Madame Acarie, known as the "conscience of Paris," visited the relaxed convents and persuaded them to a more strict and holy life. Largely by her instrumentality, the first houses of reformed Carmelites were established in France in 1604, nuns being brought to direct them from St. Teresa's Spanish convents; and French mysticism owes much to this direct contact with the Teresian school. Madame Acarie and her three daughters all became Carmelite nuns; and it was from the Dijon Carmelites that St. Jeanne Françoise de Chantal (1572-1641) received her training in contemplation. Her spiritual father, and co-founder of the Order of the Visitation, St. François de Sales (1567-1622), had also been in youth a member of Madame Acarie's circle. He shows at its best the peculiar talent of the French school for the detailed and individual direction of souls. Outside this cultured and aristocratic group two great and pure mystics arise from humbler social levels. First the intrepid Ursuline nun Marie de l'Incarnation (1599-1672), the pioneer of education in the New World, in whom we find again St. Teresa's twin gifts for high contemplation and practical initiative. Secondly the Carmelite friar Brother Lawrence (1611-1691), who shows the passive tendency of French mysticism in its most sane, well-balanced form. He was a humble empiricist, laying claim to no special gifts: a striking contrast to his contemporary, the brilliant and unhappy genius Pascal (1623-1662), who fought his way through many psychic storms to the vision of the Absolute.

Eén die het oorspronkelijk gezicht vertoont, Eén blik en voor altijd geliefd.
- zenmeester Ikkyu -

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