Beatrice of Nazareth: Seven Manners of Divine Love

"Beatrice of Nazareth" by Catholic artist Gwyneth Holston. Used by permission. www.gwynethholston.com

Today is the feast day of one of the lesser known of Cistercian blesseds (and medieval mystics), Beatrice of Nazareth, who lived ca. 1200-1268 CE.Born in or around 1200 CE, Beatrice of Nazareth was the youngest child of a devout Flemish family; her father may have been a mason involved in the construction of three different monasteries. A devout child, after her mother’s death when she was 7 Beatrice lived for a year with Beguines (lay women who lived communally). Afterward she went to live w … [Read more...]

Two New Reference Books For You (or Your Library)

Mysticism — whether Christian mysticism, or comparative (world) mysticism — is a vast subject, one to which you could easily devote your life without any fear of ever mastering (or exhausting) the literature associated with it. Recently two books have crossed my desk that should prove to be invaluable for anyone seeking to study mysticism on a scholarly level. But first, a word of warning: these books are priced for library or textbook sales, and so they are not cheap! If you're on a budget, you … [Read more...]

The Ethics of Sharing Mystical Knowledge: Meister Eckhart and the Cloud Author

Pick up any edition of The Cloud of Unknowing, and you are likely to find the following language a bit intimidating:Whoever you are possessing this book, know that I charge you with a serious responsibility, to which I attach the sternest sanctions that the bonds of love can bear. It does not matter whether this book belongs to you, whether you are keeping it for someone else, whether you are  taking it to someone, or borrowing it; you are not to read it, write or speak of it, nor allow … [Read more...]

Three Myths of Mysticism?

Last night I joined the good folks at Countryside Church in Omaha, NE for their weekly webcast, Darkwood Brew. Needless to say, our topic was Christian mysticism. The host, Dr. Eric Elnes, invited me to comment on what he described as three "myths" related to Christian mysticism — three common misconceptions that many Christians might have about mysticism that might prevent them from taking it seriously as a means of fostering a deeper spirituality.Here are the three myths:That m … [Read more...]

The Rare Handful? (Jean Leclercq’s Definition of Mystical Experience)

In the Classics of Western Spirituality edition of the Selected Works of Bernard of Clairvaux, Benedictine scholar Jean Leclercq, OSB offers the follow definition of "mystical experience":...those rare occasions when a handful of Christians may enjoy sublime states of prayer and union with God.What do you think? I have problems with the idea that mystical states are "rare" and only available to a "handful" of Christians. Perhaps Leclercq is trying to protect the integrity of the "sublime" … [Read more...]

Praying with St. John of the Cross

A friend of mine suggested I read Wayne Simsic's Seeking the Beloved: A Prayer Journey with St. John of the Cross, offering the book pretty high praise: "I never 'got' John of the Cross until I read this book," she said. That alone made me think it was worth checking out. And I would agree that this is an excellent primer to the great mystical theologian, deftly and accessibly interpreting his teachings in ways that make sense to the ordinary person of our day. … [Read more...]

Introduction to Christian Mysticism through Evening at Emory

I'll be teaching Introduction to Christian Mysticism through Emory University's Continuing Education Program. Classes meet on Monday evenings from November 5 through December 3. I hope I'll see you there... and please tell your friends, share on Facebook, Twitter, etc.! Thank you.To register: https://register.ece.emory.edu/modules/shop/index.html?action=section&OfferingID=3827&SectionID=17304Course Description:The renowned twentieth century German theologian Karl Rahner said, “ … [Read more...]


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