Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wed July 23, 2014 - Litany Lane Blog: Mysticism, Psalms 71, Jeremiah 1:1-10, Matthew 13:1-9,, Pope Francis's Daily Catechesis, Saint Bridget of Sweden, Order of Bridgettines, Christian Mysticism and Mystical Theology Part 1, Catholic Catechism Part Three: Life in Christ Section Two: The Ten Commandment Chapter Two: 7th Commandment Article 7:1 The Universal Destination and the Private Ownership of Goods

Wednesday,  July 23, 2014 - Litany Lane Blog

Mysticism, Psalms 71, Jeremiah 1:1-10, Matthew 13:1-9,, Pope Francis's Daily Catechesis, Saint Bridget of Sweden, Order of Bridgettines, Christian Mysticism and Mystical Theology Part 1, Catholic Catechism Part Three:  Life in Christ Section Two: The Ten Commandment Chapter Two: 7th Commandment Article 7:1 The Universal Destination and the Private Ownership of Goods

P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Serenity Happens). It has a remarkable way of producing solace, peace, patience and tranquility and of course resolution...God's always available 24/7.

The world begins and ends everyday for someone.  We are all human. We all experience birth, life and death. We all have flaws but we also all have the gift of knowledge, reason and free will, make the most of these gifts. Life on earth is a stepping stone to our eternal home in Heaven. The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, wonder and awe (fear of the Lord) , counsel, knowledge, fortitude, and piety (reverence) and shun the seven Deadly sins: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony...Its your choice whether to embrace the Gifts of the Holy Spirit rising towards eternal light or succumb to the Seven deadly sins and lost to eternal darkness. Material items, though needed for sustenance and survival on earth are of earthly value only. The only thing that passes from this earth to the Darkness, Purgatory or Heaven is our's God's perpetual gift to us...Embrace it, treasure it, nurture it, protect it...~ Zarya Parx 2013

"Raise not a hand to another unless it is to offer in peace and goodwill." ~ Zarya Parx 2012


Prayers for Today:   Wednesday in Easter

Rosary - Glorious Mysteries


 Papam Franciscus
(Pope Francis)

Pope Francis Daily Catechesis:

Wednesday of July 23, 2014

Patience and Mercy

(2014-07-23 Vatican Radio) 
Pope Francis on Sunday expressed his concern for the plight of Christian communities in the Iraqi town of Mosul and in other parts of the Middle East.  Speaking after the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope turned his thoughts to those Christians who are now persecuted in the lands they have lived since the beginning of Christianity, offering - he said - a precious contribution to the good of society.

“Today our brothers are persecuted” – the Pope said – "they are banished from their homes and forced to flee without even being able to take their belongings!”

And, assured them of his closeness and constant prayer he said: “My dear brothers and sisters who are persecuted, I know how much you suffer; I know that you are deprived of all. I am with you in faith in He who conquered evil”.

The Pope then appealed to all – to those present in the Square and far beyond – to persevere in praying for peace in all situations of tension and conflict in the world, and he especially mentioned the Middle East and Ukraine.

“May the God of peace” – Francis said – “arouse in all an authentic desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence cannot be overcome with violence. Violence is overcome with peace!”

The Pope’s appeal followed his Sunday address to the crowds gathered in the Square for the recitation of the Angelus prayer.

Taking his cue from the Gospel reading of the day, the Pope reflected on the parable that tells of the man who sowed good seed in his field while his enemy sowed weeds. But when the man’s servants offer to pull up the weeds, the man stoped them saying “if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them”.

This parable – Pope Francis explained – speaks to us of the problem of evil in the world and it highlights God’s patience.

The devil – he said – plants evil where there is good, trying to divide people, families and nations. But God – he continued – knows how to wait. He looks into the ‘field’ of each person with patience and mercy: he sees the dirt and the evil much better than we do, but he also sees the seeds of good and patiently awaits their germination.

God – Pope Francis said – is a patient father who waits with an open heart to welcome us and to forgive us. But – he pointed out – His patience does not mean He is indifferent to evil. One must not confuse good and evil. And at the end, at the time of the harvest, Jesus will judge us all separating those who have sown good seed from those who have sown weeds. And – Francis said – we will be judged with the same meter with which we judged others; we will be shown the same mercy we showed towards others.

Let us ask Our Lady – Pope Francis concluded – to help us grow in patience and in mercy.

Reference: Vatican News. From the Pope. © Copyright 2014 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Accessed 07/23/2014


Liturgical Celebrations to be presided over by Pope:  2015

Vatican City, spring 2014 (VIS)

The following is the English text of the intentions – both universal and for evangelization – that, as is customary, the Pope entrusted to the Apostleship of Prayer for 2015. 

Universal: That those from diverse religious traditions and all people of good will work together for peace.
Evangelization: That in this year dedicated to consecrated life, religious men and women may rediscover the joy of following Christ and strive to serve the poor with zeal.

Universal: That prisoners, especially the young, may be able to rebuild lives of dignity.
Evangelization: That married people who are separated may find welcome and support in the Christian community.

Universal: That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.
Evangelization: That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.

Universal: That people may learn to respect creation and care for it as a gift of God.
Evangelization: That persecuted Christians may feel the consoling presence of the Risen Lord and the solidarity of all the Church.

Universal: That, rejecting the culture of indifference, we may care for our neighbours who suffer, especially the sick and the poor.
Evangelization: That Mary’s intercession may help Christians in secularized cultures be ready to proclaim Jesus.

Universal: That immigrants and refugees may find welcome and respect in the countries to which they come.
Evangelization: That the personal encounter with Jesus may arouse in many young people the desire to offer their own lives in priesthood or consecrated life.

Universal: That political responsibility may be lived at all levels as a high form of charity.
Evangelization: That, amid social inequalities, Latin American Christians may bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society.

Universal: That volunteers may give themselves generously to the service of the needy.
Evangelization: That setting aside our very selves we may learn to be neighbours to those who find themselves on the margins of human life and society.

Universal: That opportunities for education and employment may increase for all young people.
Evangelization: That catechists may give witness by living in a way consistent with the faith they proclaim.

Universal: That human trafficking, the modern form of slavery, may be eradicated.
Evangelization: That with a missionary spirit the Christian communities of Asia may announce the Gospel to those who are still awaiting it.

Universal: That we may be open to personal encounter and dialogue with all, even those whose convictions differ from our own.
Evangelization: That pastors of the Church, with profound love for their flocks, may accompany them and enliven their hope.

Universal: That all may experience the mercy of God, who never tires of forgiving.
Evangelization: That families, especially those who suffer, may find in the birth of Jesus a sign of certain hope.

  • Vatican News. From the Pope. © Copyright 2014 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Accessed 07/23/2014.


November 2, 2013 Our Lady of Medjugorje Message to the World: "Dear children; Anew, in a motherly way, I am calling you to love; to continually pray for the gift of love; to love the Heavenly Father above everything. When you love Him you will love yourself and your neighbor. This cannot be separated. The Heavenly Father is in each person. He loves each person and calls each person by his name. Therefore, my children, through prayer hearken to the will of the Heavenly Father. Converse with Him. Have a personal relationship with the Father which will deepen even more your relationship as a community of my children – of my apostles. As a mother I desire that, through the love for the Heavenly Father, you may be raised above earthly vanities and may help others to gradually come to know and come closer to the Heavenly Father. My children, pray, pray, pray for the gift of love because 'love' is my Son. Pray for your shepherds that they may always have love for you as my Son had and showed by giving His life for your salvation. Thank you."

October 25, 2013 Our Lady of Medjugorje Message to the World:  “Dear children! Today I call you to open yourselves to prayer. Prayer works miracles in you and through you. Therefore, little children, in the simplicity of heart seek of the Most High to give you the strength to be God’s children and for Satan not to shake you like the wind shakes the branches. Little children, decide for God anew and seek only His will – and then you will find joy and peace in Him. Thank you for having responded to my call.”

October 2, 2013 Our Lady of Medjugorje Message to the World: "Dear children, I love you with a motherly love and with a motherly patience I wait for your love and unity. I pray that you may be a community of God’s children, of my children. I pray that as a community you may joyfully come back to life in the faith and in the love of my Son. My children, I am gathering you as my apostles and am teaching you how to bring others to come to know the love of my Son; how to bring to them the Good News, which is my Son. Give me your open, purified hearts and I will fill them with the love for my Son. His love will give meaning to your life and I will walk with you. I will be with you until the meeting with the Heavenly Father. My children, it is those who walk towards the Heavenly Father with love and faith who will be saved. Do not be afraid, I am with you. Put your trust in your shepherds as my Son trusted when he chose them, and pray that they may have the strength and the love to lead you. Thank you." - See more at:

Today's Word:  mysticism  mys·ti·cism [mis-tuh-siz-uhm]  

Origin:  1275–1325; Middle English mystik  < Latin mysticus  < Greek mystikós,  equivalent to mýst ( ēs ) an initiate into the mysteries + -ikos -ic; akin to myeîn  to initiate, teach  1730–40; mystic + -ism

1. the beliefs, ideas, or mode of thought of mystics.
2. a doctrine of an immediate spiritual intuition of truths believed to transcend ordinary understanding, or of a direct, intimate union of the soul with God through contemplation or ecstasy.
3. obscure thought or speculation.


Today's Old Testament Reading -    Psalms 71:1-17

1 In you, Yahweh, I take refuge, I shall never be put to shame.
2 In your saving justice rescue me, deliver me, listen to me and save me.
3 Be a sheltering rock for me, always accessible; you have determined to save me, for you are my rock, my fortress.
4 My God, rescue me from the clutches of the wicked, from the grasp of the rogue and the ruthless.
5 For you are my hope, Lord, my trust, Yahweh, since boyhood.
6 On you I have relied since my birth, since my mother's womb you have been my portion, the constant theme of my praise.
15 My lips shall proclaim your saving justice, your saving power all day long.
17 God, you have taught me from boyhood, and I am still proclaiming your marvels.


Today's Epistle -   Jeremiah 1:1, 4-10

1 The words of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah, one of the priests living at Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin.
4 The word of Yahweh came to me, saying:
5 'Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you came to birth I consecrated you; I appointed you as prophet to the nations.'
6 I then said, 'Ah, ah, ah, Lord Yahweh; you see, I do not know how to speak: I am only a child!'
7 But Yahweh replied, 'Do not say, "I am only a child," for you must go to all to whom I send you and say whatever I command you.
8 Do not be afraid of confronting them, for I am with you to rescue you, Yahweh declares.'
9 Then Yahweh stretched out his hand and touched my mouth, and Yahweh said to me: 'There! I have put my words into your mouth.
10 Look, today I have set you over the nations and kingdoms, to uproot and to knock down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.'


Today's Gospel Reading -  Matthew 13:1-9

That same day, Jesus left the house and sat by the lakeside, but such large crowds gathered round him that he got into the boat and sat there. The people all stood on the shore and he told them many things in parables. He said, ‘Listen, a sower went out to sow. As he sowed, some seeds fell on the edge of the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on patches of rock where they found little soil and sprang up at once, because there was no depth of earth; but as soon as the sun came up they were scorched and, not having any roots, they withered away. Others fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Others fell on rich soil and produced their crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Anyone who has ears should listen!’

3) Reflection
• In chapter 13 of the Gospel of Matthew the third great discourse begins, the Discourse of the Parables. As we already said before, in the commentary on the Gospel of July 9th, Matthew organized his Gospel like a new edition of the Law of God or like a new “Pentateuch” with its five books. For this reason his Gospel is composed of five great discourses or teachings of Jesus, followed by narrative parts, in which he describes how Jesus put into practice what he had taught in the discourses. The following is the outline:
Introduction: birth and preparation of the Messiah (Mt 1 to 4)
a) Sermon on the Mountain: the entrance door to the Kingdom (Mt 5 to 7)
Narrative Mt 8 and 9
b) Discourse of the Mission: how to announce and diffuse the Kingdom (Mt 10)
Narrative Mt 11 and 12
c) Discourse of the Parables: the mystery of the Kingdom present in life (Mt 13)
Narrative Mt 14 to 17
d) Discourse of the Community: the new way of living together in the Kingdom (Mt 18)
Narrative 19 to 23
e) Discourse of the future coming of the Kingdom: the utopia which sustains hope (Mt 24 and 25)
Conclusion: Passion, Death and Resurrection (Mt 26 to 28).

• In today’s Gospel we will meditate on the parable of the seed. Jesus had a way of speaking so popular by means of comparisons and parables. Generally, when he finished telling a parable, he did not explain it, but used to say: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Mt 11,15; 13,9.43). Sometimes he would explain the meaning to the Disciples (Mt 13,36). The parables speak of the things of life; seed, lamp, mustard seed, salt, etc. These are things that exist in daily life, for the people of that time as well as today for us. Thus, the experience that we have today of these things becomes for us a means to discover the presence of the mystery of God in our life. To speak in parables means to reveal the mystery of the Kingdom present in life.

• Matthew 13,1-3: Sitting in the boat, Jesus taught the people. As it happened in the Sermon on the Mountain (Mt 5,1-2), here also Matthew makes a brief introduction to the discourse of the Parables, describing Jesus who teaches in the boat, on the shore, and many people around him who listen. Jesus was not a person who was instructed (Jn 7,15). He had not been to a higher school in Jerusalem. He came from inside the country, from Nazareth. He was unknown, a farmer and craftsman or artisan at the same time. Without asking permission from the religious authority, he began to teach the people. People liked to listen to him. Jesus taught especially by means of parables. We have already heard some of them: fishermen of men (Mt 4,19), the salt (Mt 5,13), the lamp (Mt 5,15), the birds of the sky and the lilies of the field (Mt 6,26.28), the house constructed on the rock (Mt 7,24). And now, in chapter 13, the parables begin to have a particular meaning: they serve to reveal the mystery of the Kingdom of God present in the midst of people and the activity of Jesus.

• Matthew 13,4-8: The parable of the seed taken from the life of the farmer. At that time, it was not easy to live from farming. The land was full of stones. There was little rain, too much sun. Besides, many times, people in order to shorten the way, passed through the fields and destroyed the plants (Mt 12,1). But in spite of all that, every year, the farmer would sow and plant, with trust in the force of the seed, in the generosity of nature. The parable of the sower describes that which we all know and do: the seed thrown by the agriculturer falls on the ground along the road, another part falls among the stones and thistles; still another part falls on good earth, where, according to the quality of the land, will produce thirty, sixty and even up to one hundred. A parable is a comparison. It uses things known by the people and which are visible, to explain that the Kingdom of God is an invisible and unknown thing. The people of Galilee understood about seeds, ground, rain, sun and harvest. And so now Jesus uses exactly these things that were known to people to explain the mystery of the Kingdom.

• Matthew 13,9: He, who has ears to hear, let him listen. The expression “He, who has ears, let him listen” means: “It is this! You have heard. Now try to understand!” The way to be able to understand the parable is to search: “To try to understand!” The parable does not give everything immediately, but pushes one to think and to make one discover starting from the experience which the auditors have of the seed. It opens to creativity and to participation. It is not a doctrine which comes ready to be taught. The parable does not give water in bottles, but the source. The agriculturer who listens to the parable says: “Seed in the round, I know what that means! But Jesus says that it has something to do with the Kingdom of God. What would that be?” And it is easy to imagine the long conversations of the people! The parable leads to listen to nature and to think of life. Once a person asked in a community: “Jesus says that we have to be salt. For what is salt good?” There was discussion and then at the end, ten different purposes that salt can have, were discovered. Then all this was applied to the life of the community and it was discovered that to be salt is difficult and demanding. The parable worked well!

4) Personal questions
• When you were a child how was catechism taught to you? How do you compare some parts of life? Do you remember some important comparison that the catechist told you? How is the catechesis today in your community?

• Sometimes we are the road side, sometimes the rock; other times the thorns or thistles, and other times good earth. What am I? What are we in our community? Which are the fruits which the Word of God is producing in my life, in my family, and in our community: thirty, sixty, one hundred?

Reference: Courtesy of Order of Carmelites,


Featured Item of the Day from Litany Lane


Saint of the Day:  Saint Bridget of Sweden

Feast Day: July 23
Died: 1373
Patron Saint of : Failures, Widows, Europe, Sweden

St Brdiget of Sweden 1476
Bridget of Sweden (1303 – 23 July 1373; also Birgitta of Vadstena, Saint Birgitta (Swedish: den heliga Birgitta or Birgitta Birgersdotter), was a mystic and saint, and founder of the Bridgettines nuns and monks after the death of her husband of twenty years. She was also the mother of Catherine of Vadstena.

She is one of the six patron saints of Europe, together with Benedict of Nursia, Saints Cyril and Methodius, Catherine of Siena and Edith Stein.

The most celebrated saint of Sweden was the daughter of the knight, Birger Persson of the family of Finsta, governor and lawspeaker of Uppland, and one of the richest landowners of the country, and his wife, a member of the so-called Lawspeaker branch of the Folkunga family. Through her mother, Ingeborg, Birgitta was related to the Swedish kings of her era.

In 1316, when she was 14 she married Ulf Gudmarsson of the family of Ulvåsa, Lord of Närke, to whom she bore eight children, four daughters and four sons. All of them survived infancy, which was very rare at that time. One of them was afterwards honored as St. Catherine of Sweden. Birgitta’s saintly and charitable life soon made her known far and wide; she gained, too, great religious influence over her husband, with whom (1341–1343) she went on pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.

In 1344, shortly after their return, Ulf died at the Cistercian Alvastra Abbey in Östergötland. After this loss, Birgitta became a member of the Third Order of St. Francis and devoted herself wholly to a life of prayer and caring for the poor and the sick.

It was about this time that she developed the idea of establishing the religious community which was to become the Order of the Most Holy Saviour, or the Brigittines, whose principal house at Vadstena was later richly endowed by King Magnus Eriksson of Sweden and his queen. One distinctive feature of the pre-Reformation houses of the Order was that they were double monasteries, with both men and women forming a joint community, though with separate cloisters.

About 1350 she went to Rome, accompanied by her daughter, Catherine, and a small party of priests and disciples. This was done partly to obtain from the Pope the authorization of the new Order and partly in pursuance of her self-imposed mission to elevate the moral tone of the age. This was during the period of the Great Schism within the Roman Catholic Church, however, and she had to wait for the return of the papacy to Rome from the French city of Avignon, a move for which she agitated for many years.

It was not until 1370 that Pope Urban V, during his brief attempt to re-establish the papacy in Rome, confirmed the Rule of the Order, but meanwhile Birgitta had made herself universally beloved in Rome by her kindness and good works. Save for occasional pilgrimages, including one to Jerusalem in 1373, she remained in Rome until her death on 23 July 1373. She was originally buried at San Lorenzo in Panisperna before her remains were returned to Sweden. She was canonized in the year 1391 by Pope Boniface IX, which was confirmed by the Council of Constance in 1415. Because of new discussions about her works, the Council of Basel confirmed the orthodoxy of the revelations in 1436.


As a child, she had already believed herself to have visions; these now became more frequent, and her records of these "Revelationes coelestes" ("Celestial revelations") which were translated into Latin by Matthias, canon of Linköping, and by her confessor, Peter, prior of Alvastra, obtained a great vogue during the Middle Ages. Her visions of the Nativity of Jesus had a great influence on depictions of the Nativity of Jesus in art. Shortly before her death, she described a vision which included the infant Jesus as lying on the ground, and emitting light himself, and describes the Virgin as blond-haired; many depictions followed this and reduced other light sources in the scene to emphasize this effect, and the Nativity remained very commonly treated with chiaroscuro through to the Baroque. Other details often seen such as a single candle "attached to the wall," and the presence of God the Father above, also come from Bridget's vision:
...the Virgin knelt down with great veneration in an attitude of prayer, and her back was turned to the manger.... And while she was standing thus in prayer, I saw the child in her womb move and suddenly in a moment she gave birth to her son, from whom radiated such an ineffable light and splendour, that the sun was not comparable to it, nor did the candle that St. Joseph had put there, give any light at all, the divine light totally annihilating the material light of the candle.... I saw the glorious infant lying on the ground naked and shining. His body was pure from any kind of soil and impurity. Then I heard also the singing of the angels, which was of miraculous sweetness and great beauty...
After this the Virgin kneels to pray to her child, to be joined by St. Joseph, and this (technically known as the Adoration of the Child) becomes one of the commonest depictions in the fifteenth century, largely replacing the reclining Virgin in the West. Versions of this depiction occur as early as 1300, well before Bridget's vision, and have a Franciscan origin, by which she may have been influenced, as she was a member of the Franciscan Order.  Her visions of Purgatory were also well known.

The Fifteen 'Our Father and Hail Mary prayers'

The Vision of St Bridget. The Risen Christ, displaying his wound from Longinus, inspires the writing of St Bridget. Detail of initial letter miniature, dated 1530, probably made at Syon Monastery, England, a Bridgettine House. (BL Harley MS 4640,f.15)
Saint Bridget prayed for a long time to know how many blows Jesus Christ suffered during His terrible Passion. Rewarding her patience, one day He appeared to her and said, "I received 5480 blows upon My Body. If you wish to honor them in some way, recite fifteen Our Fathers and fifteen Hail Marys with the following Prayers, which I Myself shall teach you, for an entire year. When the year is finished, you will have honored each of My Wounds." 

The prayers became known as the Fifteen O's, because in the original Latin, each prayer began with the words O Jesu, O Rex, or O Domine Jesu Christe.[4] Some have questioned whether Saint Bridget is in fact their author; Eamon Duffy reports that the prayers probably originated in England, in the devotional circles that surrounded Richard Rolle or the English Brigittines.

Whatever their origin, the prayers were quite widely circulated in the late Middle Ages, and became regular features in Books of Hours and other devotional literature. They were translated into various languages; an early English language version of them was printed in a primer by William Caxton. The prayers themselves reflect the late medieval tradition of meditation on the passion of Christ, and are structured around the seven last words of Christ. They borrow from patristic and Scriptural sources as well as the tradition of devotion to the wounds of Christ.

During the Middle Ages, the prayers began to circulate with various promises of indulgence and other assurances of supernatural graces supposed to attend from their regular recitation over the course of a year. These indulgences were repeated in the manuscript tradition of the Books of Hours, and may constitute one major source of the prayers' popularity in the late Middle Ages. They promise, among other things, the release from Purgatory of fifteen of the devotee's family members, and that they would keep fifteen living family members in a state of grace.

The extravagance of the promises made in these rubrics — one widely circulated version promised that the devotee would receive "his heart's desire, if it be for the salvation of his soul"— attracted critics early and late. In 1538, William Marshall[disambiguation needed] enjoined his readers to "henseforth ... forget suche prayers as seynt Brigittes & other lyke, whyche greate promyses and perdons haue falsly auaunced." In 1954, the Acta Apostolicae Sedis found the alleged promises (though not the prayers themselves) unreliable, and directed local ordinaries not to permit the circulation of pamphlets containing the promises.


In 1651 the Brigitta Chapel was erected in Vienna, and in 1900 the new district Brigittenau was founded. In Sweden, adjacent to Skederid Church, built by Bridget's father on the family's land, a memorial stone was erected in 1930.

In 1 October 1999 Pope John Paul II named St Bridget as a patron saint of Europe. Her feast day is celebrated on 23 July, the day of her death. Her feast was not in the Tridentine Calendar, but was inserted in the General Roman Calendar in 1623 for celebration on 7 October, the day of her 1391 canonization by Pope Boniface IX. Five years later, her feast was moved to 8 October (although the Church in Sweden celebrates it on the 7th), where it remained until the revision of the General Roman Calendar in 1969, when it was set on the date currently used. Some continue to use the earlier General Roman Calendar of 1954, the General Roman Calendar of Pope Pius XII, or the General Roman Calendar of 1960.

The Third Order of St. Francis includes her feast day on its Calendar of Saints on same day as the general Church, honoring her as a member of the Order.

Bjärka-Säby Monastery has a portrait of Bridget of Sweden venerated by Christians of several denominations. An hour away from this monastery, Vadstena Abbey, also known as Blue Church, contains relics of the saint, with her body being venerated by both Lutheran and Catholic believers.

References: Courtesy of the Catholic Online, and Courtesy of Wikipedia,


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Today's Snippet I:  Bridgettine Order

The Bridgettine or Birgittine Order (formally the Order of the Most Holy Savior, abbreviated as O.Ss.S.) is a monastic religious order of Augustinian nuns, Religious Sisters and monks founded by Saint Birgitta (Saint Bridget) of Sweden in 1344,[1] and approved by Pope Urban V in 1370.[2] There are today several different branches of Bridgettines.

St Bridget's Rule

The original Bridgettine Order was open to both men and women, and was dedicated to devotion to the Passion of Jesus Christ. It was a ”double order” each monastery having attached to it a small community of monks to act as chaplains, but under the government of the abbess.
St Bridget's Rule stipulated:
the number of choir nuns shall not exceed sixty, with four lay sisters; the priests shall be thirteen, according to the number of the thirteen apostles, of whom Paul the thirteenth was not the least in toil; then there must be four deacons, who also may be priests if they will, and they are the figure of the four principal Doctors, Ambrose, Augustine, Gregory and Jerome, then eight lay brothers, who with their labors shall minister necessaries to the clerics, therefore counting three-score sisters, thirteen priests, four deacons, and the eight servitors, the number of persons will be the same as the thirteen Apostles and the seventy two-disciples.
The nuns were strictly enclosed, emphasizing scholarship and study, but the monks were also preachers and itinerant missionaries. The individual monasteries were each subject to the local bishop, and, in honor of the Virgin Mary, they were ruled by an abbess.

The distinctive part of the Brigittine habit for the women of the Order is the metal crown which they wear called the "Crown of the Five Holy Wounds". It has five red stones, one at each joint, to remember the Five Wounds of Christ on the Cross. The monks wear a red cross with a Eucharistic host at the center on the right breast of their cloak. The Order has its own proper Rite for the Canonical Hours, called the Office of Our Lady.


Throughout the period 1385-1403, St. Bridget's granddaughter Lady Ingegerd Knutsdotter was Abbess of Vadstena. Upon her death on 14 September 1412, direct descent from St. Bridget became extinct. This opened the medieval concept of "Bridget's spiritual children", members of the Order founded by her, to be her true heirs.

The Order spread widely in Sweden and Norway, and played a remarkable part in promoting culture and literature in Scandinavia; to this is to be attributed the fact that the motherhouse at Vadstena, by Lake Vättern, was not suppressed till 1595 even though the Protestant Reformation had been widespread in Scandinavia. By 1515, with significant royal patronage, there were 27 houses, 13 of them in Scandinavia. Bridgettine houses soon spread into other lands, reaching an eventual total of 80.

In England, the Bridgettine monastery of Syon Abbey at Isleworth, Middlesex, was founded and royally endowed by King Henry V in 1415, and became one of the richest, most fashionable, and influential religious communities in the country until its Dissolution under King Henry VIII. One of the monks of the community, Richard Reynolds, O.Ss.S., was among the first members of the English clergy to be executed as traitors for his refusal to accept the Oath of Supremacy. He was canonized as a martyr by Pope Paul VI in 1970.

Syon Abbey was among the few religious houses restored during Queen Mary I’s reign (1553–1558), when nearly twenty members of the old community were re-established there in 1557. Upon the accession of Queen Elizabeth I and the ensuing conflict between Catholics and the English Crown, the Bridgettine monastic community left England, first for the Low Countries, then, after many vicissitudes, to Rouen in France, and finally, in 1594, to Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. The community remained in Lisbon (where the last monk of the community died), recruiting new members from England, until 1861, when they returned to England.

Syon Abbey in Devon continued as the only English religious community that had existed without interruption since pre-Reformation times. In 2004 the surviving medieval books of the monastic library were entrusted for safekeeping to the University of Exeter. Among the texts preserved was the Showing of Love by Julian of Norwich and The Orcherd of Syon, which translated Catherine of Siena's Dialogue. Syon Abbey's Tudor Gatepost in marble, on which parts of St Richard Reynolds' body were placed, was brought by the Sisters into their exile, and then returned with them to England. This was later given to the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in Exeter.

Virtually all the Northern European Bridgettine monasteries (the bulk of the Order) were destroyed during the Reformation.

Currently active branches

The medieval branch

The original medieval branch today consists of four independent monasteries:
  • Maria Refugie Abbey in Uden, Netherlands
  • Syon Abbey in Isleworth, England (closed in 2011)
  • Birgittakloster in Altomünster Germany
  • Pax Mariae Abbey in Vadstena, Sweden

The Spanish branch

Marina de Escobar founded a Spanish branch in the 1630s, consisting only of nuns, following a slightly modified version of the St Bridget's Rule. It currently consists of four independent monasteries in Spain, four in Mexico and one in Venezuela.

The Swedish branch

The largest branch of the Bridgettines today is the one founded by the Blessed Elisabeth Hesselblad, a nurse, on 8 September 1911 of semi-contemplative Religious Sisters dedicated to providing hospitaltiy for those in need of rest. It was fully approved by the Holy See on 7 July 1940, and currently consists of convents in Europe, Asia and North America. The motherhouse of the Order is located on the Piazza Farnese, close to the Campo de' Fiori, Rome, Italy, the house where Birgitta had once lived. Mother Tekla Famiglietti has been Abbess General of the Order since 1979. As in all their houses, this convent offers accommodation. Protestant services also are held in the crypt, as the Sisters have ecumenical outreach as part of their charism. After the Reformation a printshop was set up to print Swedish-language Catholic works.


Controversy has arisen over the treatment of the Indian women who form a large percentage of the Order. Most houses of the Order support themselves by providing bread and breakfast hospitality to guests at standard industry rates. This became public in 2002 when six Indian Sisters from different houses of the Order in Italy fled to a Benedictine monastery, where they were given refuge by the abbot, who was subsequently deposed from office by the Holy See for this, a highly unusual act.[3]

Brigittine Monks

The Brigittine Monks are located in Amity, Oregon, at the Monastery of Our Lady of Consolation. Founded on 16 March 1976, by Brother Benedict Kirby, O.Ss.S., it is the only Brigittine monastery of men in the world and the first since the nineteenth century when they were dispersed, largely due to the European wars. The monks here do not ordinarily receive Holy Orders, following the original pattern of monasticism. The monastery has the canonical status of a priory sui juris (one which is autonomous) and is supported mainly through sales of their chocolate fudges and truffles.


  1. Brigittine Order, OSV's Encyclopedia of Catholic History, ed. Matthew Bunson, (Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, 2004), 163.
  2. Franklin Daniel Scott, Sweden, the Nation's History, (Southern Illinois University Press, 1988), 79.
  3. Berry, Jason (March 5, 2013). "Mother Tekla: The Most Powerful Woman in Rome". Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.



Today's Snippet II:   Christian Mysticism & Mystical Theology 

Part 1 - Etymology, Definition, Scholars

Mystic marriage of Christ and the Church.
Christian mysticism refers to the development of mystical practices and theory within Christianity. It has often been connected to mystical theology, especially in the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions.

The attributes and means by which Christian mysticism is studied and practiced are varied and range from ecstatic visions of the soul's mystical union with God to simple prayerful contemplation of Holy Scripture (i.e., Lectio Divina).


"Mysticism" is derived from the Greek μυω, meaning "to conceal", and its derivative μυστικός, mystikos, meaning 'an initiate'. In the Hellenistic world, a "mystikos" was an initiate of a mystery religion. "Mystical" referred to secret religious rituals[1] and use of the word lacked any direct references to the transcendental.[2]

In early Christianity the term "mystikos" referred to three dimensions, which soon became intertwined, namely the biblical, the liturgical and the spiritual or contemplative.[3] The biblical dimension refers to "hidden" or allegorical interpretations of Scriptures.[1][3] The liturgical dimension refers to the liturgical mystery of the Eucharist, the presence of Christ at the Eucharist.[1][3] The third dimension is the contemplative or experiential knowledge of God.[3]

Definition of Mysticism

Francis of Assisi by José Benlliure y Gil


Bernard McGinn defines Christian mysticism as:
[T]hat part, or element, of Christian belief and practice that concerns the preparation for, the consciousness of, and the effect of [...] a direct and transformative presence of God.[4]

Presence versus experience

McGinn argues that "presence" is more accurate than "union", since not all mystics spoke of union with God, and since many visions and miracles were not necessarily related to union. He also argues that we should speak of "consciousness" of God's presence, rather than of "experience", since mystical activity is not simply about the sensation of God as an external object, but more broadly about ways of knowing and loving based on states of awareness in which God becomes present in our inner acts.[4]
William James popularized the use of the term "religious experience" in his 1902 book The Varieties of Religious Experience.[5] It has also influenced the understanding of mysticism as a distinctive experience which supplies knowledge.[1]

Wayne Proudfoot traces the roots of the notion of "religious experience" further back to the German theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768–1834), who argued that religion is based on a feeling of the infinite. The notion of "religious experience" was used by Schleiermacher to defend religion against the growing scientific and secular critique. It was adopted by many scholars of religion, of which William James was the most influential.[6]

Personal transformation

Resurrection of Jesus, Matthias Grünewald.
Related to this idea of "presence" instead of "experience" is McGinn's emphasis on the transformation that occurs through mystical activity:
This is why the only test that Christianity has known for determining the authenticity of a mystic and her or his message has been that of personal transformation, both on the mystic's part and—especially—on the part of those whom the mystic has affected.[4]
Other critics point out that the stress on "experience" is accompanied with favoring the atomic individual, instead of the shared life on the community. It also fails to distinguish between episodic experience, and mysticism as a process, that is embedded in a total religious matrix of liturgy, scripture, worship, virtues, theology, rituals and practices.[7]

Richard King also points to disjunction between "mystical experience" and social justice:[8]
The privatisation of mysticism - that is, the increasing tendency to locate the mystical in the psychological realm of personal experiences - serves to exclude it from political issues as social justice. Mysticism thus becomes seen as a personal matter of cultivating inner states of tranquility and equanimity, which, rather than seeking to transform the world, serve to accommodate the individual to the status quo through the alleviation of anxiety and stress.[8]


Social constructionism

Mystical experience is not simply a matter between the mystic and God, but is often shaped by cultural issues. For instance, Carolyn Walker Bynum has shown how, in the late Middle Ages, miracles attending the taking of the Eucharist were not simply symbolic of the Passion story, but served as vindication of the mystic's theological orthodoxy by proving that the mystic had not fallen prey to heretical ideas, such as the Cathar rejection of the material world as evil, contrary to orthodox teaching that God took on human flesh and remained sinless.[9] Thus, the nature of mystical experience could be tailored to the particular cultural and theological issues of the time.

Mysticism Researchers and Scholars

1. Bernard McGinn (born 1937) is a theologian, historian, and scholar of spirituality, affiliated with the University of Chicago, where he is Naomi Shenstone Donnelley Professor Emeritus of Historical Theology and of the History of Christianity in the Divinity School and the Committees on Medieval Studies and on General Studies. He received educational degrees from the Pontifical Gregorian University (STL, 1963) and from Brandeis University (PhD, 1970). He retired (assumed emeritus status) in 2003, but has continued to publish scholarly work since that time.


  • McGinn, Bernard (1991). The foundations of mysticism. New York: Crossroad. ISBN 0-8245-1121-2. (494 pages)
  • McGinn, Bernard (1994). The growth of mysticism. New York: Crossroad. ISBN 0-8245-1450-5. (630 pages)
  • McGinn, Bernard (1998). The flowering of mysticism: men and women in the new mysticism (1200-1350). New York: Crossroad. ISBN 0-8245-1742-3. ISBN 0-8245-1743-1 (paperback) (526 pages)
  • McGinn, Bernard (2005). The harvest of mysticism in medieval Germany (1300-1500). New York: Crossroad. ISBN 0-8245-2345-8. (738 pages)
  • McGinn, Bernard (2013). The varieties of vernacular mysticism (1350-1550). New York: Crossroad. ISBN 0-8245-9901-2. (864 pages)
  • His most recent book is Thomas Aquinas's Summa theologiae: A Biography (2014).

2. Wayne Proudfoot is an American scholar of religion and has written several works in that field, specializing in the philosophy of religion. Proudfoot was born 1939 and gained the degree of Master of Theology from the Harvard Divinity School in 1969, after which he taught at College of Liberal Arts at the Lincoln Center campus of Fordham University in midtown Manhattan. Proudfoot subsequently earned a Doctorate of Philosophy from Harvard University (1972) and became a Professor of Religion at Columbia University.


  • Faithful Imagining : Essays In Honor Of Richard R. Niebuhr / edited By Sang Hyun Lee, Wayne Proudfoot, Albert Blackwell Atlanta, Ga. : Scholars Press, c1995
  • God And The Self : Three Types Of Philosophy Of Religion / Wayne Proudfoot Lewisburg [Pa.] : Bucknell University Press, c1976
  • Religious Experience / Wayne Proudfoot Berkeley : University of California Press, c1985
  • William James And A Science Of Religions : Reexperiencing The Varieties Of Religious Experience / Wayne Proudfoot, Editor New York : Columbia University Press, c2004

3. William James (January 11, 1842 – August 26, 1910) was an American philosopher and psychologist who was also trained as a physician. The first educator to offer a psychology course in the United States, James was one of the leading thinkers of the late nineteenth century and is believed by many to be one of the most influential philosophers the United States has ever produced, while others have labelled him the "Father of American psychology". Along with Charles Sanders Peirce and John Dewey, he is considered to be one of the greatest figures associated with the philosophical school known as pragmatism, and is also cited as one of the founders of functional psychology. He also developed the philosophical perspective known as radical empiricism. James' work has influenced intellectuals such as Émile Durkheim, W. E. B. Du Bois, Edmund Husserl, Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Hilary Putnam, and Richard Rorty.

Born into a wealthy family, James was the son of the Swedenborgian theologian Henry James Sr and the brother of both the prominent novelist Henry James, and the diarist Alice James. James wrote widely on many topics, including epistemology, education, metaphysics, psychology, religion, and mysticism. Among his most influential books are Principles of Psychology, which was a groundbreaking text in the field of psychology, Essays in Radical Empiricism, an important text in philosophy, and The Varieties of Religious Experience, which investigated different forms of religious experience.


  • The Principles of Psychology, 2 vols. (1890) Dover Publications 1950, vol. 1: ISBN 0-486-20381-6, vol. 2: ISBN 0-486-20382-4
  • Psychology (Briefer Course) (1892) University of Notre Dame Press 1985: ISBN 0-268-01557-0, Dover Publications 2001: ISBN 0-486-41604-6
  • The Will to Believe, and Other Essays in Popular Philosophy (1897)
  • Human Immortality: Two Supposed Objections to the Doctrine (the Ingersoll Lecture, 1897)
    • The Will to Believe, Human Immortality (1956) Dover Publications, ISBN 0-486-20291-7
  • Talks to Teachers on Psychology: and to Students on Some of Life's Ideals (1899), Dover Publications 2001: ISBN 0-486-41964-9, 2005: ISBN 1-4219-5806-6
  • The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature (1902), ISBN 0-14-039034-0

 4.  Caroline Walker Bynum is an American Medieval scholar. She is a University Professor emerita at Columbia University and Professor emerita of Western Medieval History at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. She was the first woman to be appointed University Professor at Columbia. She is a former Dean of Columbia's School of General Studies. She served as President of the American Historical Association for 1996. Bynum received a B.A. from the University of Michigan in 1962 and a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1969. Her honors include the Jefferson Lecture, a MacArthur Fellowship, and twelve honorary degrees including degrees from Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Chicago, and the University of Michigan. Bynum's work has focused on the way medieval people understood the nature of the human body and its physicality in the context of larger theological questions and spiritual pursuits.


  • Christian Materiality An Essay on Religion in Late Medieval Europe (2011);
  • Wonderful Blood: Theology and Practice in Late Medieval Northern Germany and Beyond (2007), winner of the 2011 Haskins Medal;
  • Fragmentation and Redemption: Essays on Gender and the Human Body in Medieval Religion (1991), winner of an award from the American Academy of Religion,
  • "Holy Feast and Holy Fast," (1987), and
  • The Resurrection of the Body in Western Christianity: 200-1336 (1995) which received prizes from Phi Beta Kappa and the American Philosophical Society.

5. Evelyn Underhill (6 December 1875 – 15 June 1941) was an English Anglo-Catholic writer and pacifist known for her numerous works on religion and spiritual practice, in particular Christian mysticism. Underhill was educated at home, except for three years at a private school in Folkestone, and subsequently read history and botany at King's College London. She was conferred with an honorary Doctorate of Divinity from Aberdeen University and made a fellow of King's College. She was the first woman to lecture to the clergy in the Church of England as well as the first woman to officially conduct spiritual retreats for the Church. She was also the first woman to establish ecumenical links between churches and one of the first woman theologians to lecture in English colleges and universities, which she did frequently. Underhill was an award-winning bookbinder, studying with the most renowned masters of the time. She was schooled in the classics, well read in Western spirituality, well informed (in addition to theology) in the philosophy, psychology, and physics of her day, and acquired the prestigious post of editor of The Spectator.  In the English-speaking world, she was one of the most widely read writers on such matters in the first half of the 20th century. No other book of its type—until the appearance in 1946 of Aldous Huxley's The Perennial Philosophy—met with success to match that of her best-known work, Mysticism, published in 1911.

  • The Miracles of Our Lady Saint Mary: Brought Out of Divers Tongues and Newly Set Forth in English (1906) Online
  • Mysticism: A Study of the Nature and Development of Man's Spiritual Consciousness (1911). Twelfth edition published by E.P. Dutton in 1930. Republished by Dover Publications in 2002 (ISBN 978-0-486-42238-1). See also online editions at Christian Classics Ethereal Library and at Wikisource.
  • The Path of Eternal Wisdom. A mystical commentary on the Way of the Cross (1912).
  • "Introduction" to her edition of the anonymous The Cloud of Unknowing (c. 1370) from British Museum manuscript [here entitled A Book of Contemplation the which is called the Cloud of Unknowing, in the which a Soul is oned with God] (London: John M. Walkins 1912); reprinted as Cloud of Unknowing (1998) [her "Introduction" at 5–37]; 2007: ISBN 1-60506-228-6; see her text at Google books.
  • The Spiral Way. Being a meditation on the fifteen mysteries of the soul's ascent (1912).
  • The Mystic Way. A psychological study of Christian origins (1914). Online
  • Practical Mysticism. A Little Book for Normal People (1914); reprint 1942 (ISBN 0-7661-0141-X); reprinted by Vintage Books, New York 2003 [with Abba (1940)]: ISBN 0-375-72570-9; see text at Wikisource.
  • Ruysbroeck (London: Bell 1915). Online
  • "Introduction" to Songs of Kabir (1915) transl. by Rabindranath Tagore; reprint 1977 Samuel Weiser (ISBN 0-87728-271-4), text at 5–43.
  • The Essentials of Mysticism and other essays (1920); reprint 1999 (ISBN 1-85168-195-7).
  • The Life of the Spirit and the Life of Today (1920). Online
  • The Mystics of the Church (1925).
  • Concerning the Inner Life (1927); reprint 1999 (ISBN 1-85168-194-9). Online
  • Man and the Supernatural. A study in theism (1927).
  • The House of the Soul (1929).
  • The Light of Christ (1932).
  • The Golden Sequence. A fourfold study of the spiritual life (1933).
  • The School of Charity. Meditations on the Christian Creed (1934); reprinted by Longmans, London 1954 [with M.of S. (1938)].
  • Worship (1936).
  • The Spiritual Life (1936); reprint 1999 (ISBN 1-85168-197-3); see also online edition.
  • The Mystery of Sacrifice. A study on the liturgy (1938); reprinted by Longmans, London 1954 [with S.of C. (1934)].
  • Abba. A meditation on the Lord's Prayer (1940); reprint 2003 [with Practical Mysticism (1914)].
  • The Letters of Evelyn Underhill (1943), as edited by Charles Williams; reprint Christian Classics 1989: ISBN 0-87061-172-0.
  • Shrines and Cities of France and Italy (1949), as edited by Lucy Menzies.
  • Fragments from an inner life. Notebooks of Evelyn Underhill (1993), as edited by Dana Greene.


  • Fruits of the Spirit (1942) edited by R. L. Roberts; reprint 1982, ISBN 0-8192-1314-4
  • Collected Papers of Evelyn Underhill (1946) edited by L. Menzies and introduced by L. Barkway.
  • Lent with Evelyn Underhill (1964) edited by G. P. Mellick Belshaw.
  • An Anthology of the Love of God. From the writings of Evelyn Underhill (1976) edited by L. Barkway and L. Menzies.
  • The Ways of the Spirit (1990) edited by G. A. Brame; reprint 1993, ISBN 0-8245-1232-4
  • Evelyn Underhill. Modern guide to the ancient quest for the Holy (1988) edited and introduced by D. Greene.
  • Evelyn Underhill. Essential writings (2003) edited by E. Griffin.
  • Radiance: A Spiritual Memoir (2004) edited by Bernard Bangley, ISBN 1-55725-355-2

Mystical Theology

Mystical theology is a branch of Christian theology which focuses on experiences or states of the soul which are experienced mystically and cannot be produced by human effort.

Catholic tradition

In Roman Catholic teaching, such states do not come about even with the ordinary aid of divine grace. Mystical theology, then, comprises among its subjects all extraordinary forms of prayer, the higher forms of contemplation in all their varieties or gradations, private revelations, visions, and the union growing out of these between God and the soul, known as the mystical union. As the science of all that is extraordinary in the relations between the Divinity and the human spirit, mystical theology is the complement of ascetical theology, which treats of Christian perfection and of its acquisition by the practice of virtue, particularly by the observance of the counsels.

What strictly comes within the province of mystical theology is the study of the processes of active and passive purification through which a soul must pass to reach the mystical union. Although the active processes are also treated to some extent in ascetical theology, they require special study inasmuch as they lead to contemplation. They comprise: purity of conscience, or aversion even to the slightest sin; purity of heart, the heart being taken as the symbol of the affections, which to be pure must be free of attachments to anything that does not lead to God; purity of the spirit, i. e. of the imagination and memory; and purity of action. It is to these processes that the well-known term "night" is applied by Discalced Carmelite reformer St. John of the Cross, since they imply three things which are as night to the soul in so far as they are beyond or contrary to its own lights, viz., the privation of pleasure, faith as substituted for human knowledge, and God as incomprehensible, or darkness, to the unaided soul. Passive purifications are the trials encountered by souls in preparation for contemplation, known as desolation, or dryness, and weariness. As they proceed sometimes from God and sometimes may be produced by the Evil Spirit, rules for the discernment of spirits are set down to enable directors to determine their source and to apply proper means of relief, especially should it happen that the action of the Evil One tends to possession or obsession.

These passive purifications affect the soul when every other object of contemplation is withdrawn from it, except its own sins, defects, frailties, which are revealed to it in all their enormity. They put the soul in the "obscure night", as St. John of the Cross calls it, or in the "great desolation", to use the phrase of Father Baker. In this state the soul experiences many trials and temptations, even to infidelity and despair, all of which are expressed in the peculiar terminology of writers on mystical theology, as well as the fruits derived from resisting them. Chief among these fruits is the purification of love, until the soul is so inflamed with love of God that it feels as if wounded and languishes with the desire to love Him still more intensely. The first difficulty mystical writers encounter in their treatises on contemplation is the proper terminology for its degrees, or the classification of the experiences of the soul as it advances in the mystical union with God effected by this extraordinary form of prayer. Ribet in "La Mystique Divine" has a chapter (x) on this subject, and the present writer treats it in chapter xxix of his "Grace of Interior Prayer" (tr. of the sixth edition). Giovanni Battista Scaramelli follows this order: the prayer of recollection; the prayer of spiritual silence; the prayer of quiet; the inebriation of love; the spiritual sleep; the anguish of love; the mystical union of love, and its degrees from simple to perfect union and spiritual marriage. In this union the soul experiences various spiritual impressions, which mystical writers try to describe in the terminology used to describe sense impressions, as if the soul could see, hear, touch, or enjoy the savour or odour of the Divinity. Ecstatic union with God is a further degree of prayer. This and the state of rapture require careful observation to be sure that the Evil One has no share in them. Here again mystical writers treat at length the deceits, snares, and other arts practised by the Evil One to lead souls astray in the quest for the mystical union. Finally, contemplation leads to a union so intimate and so strong that it can be expressed only by the terms "spiritual marriage". The article on contemplation describes the characteristics of the mystical union effected by contemplation. No treatise of mystical theology is complete without chapters on miracles, prophecies, revelations, visions, all of which have been treated under their respective headings.

Major contributors

As for the history or development of mysticism, it is as difficult to record as a history of the experiences of the human soul. The most that can be done is to follow its literature, mindful that the most extraordinary mystical experiences defy expression in human speech, and that God, the Author of mystical states, acts upon souls when and as He wills, so that there can be no question of what we could consider a logical or chronological development of mysticism as a science. Still, it is possible to review what mystical writers have said at certain periods, and especially what the Carmelite saint, Teresa of Avila, did to treat for the first time mystical phenomena as a science. Before her, mystics were concerned principally with ecstasies, visions, and revelations; she was the first to attempt a scientific analysis of the process of mystical union brought about by contemplation. As the contribution to the science and history of mystical theology by each of the writers in the following list has been sufficiently noted in the articles on them, it will suffice here to mention the titles of some of their characteristic works.

De Theologia Mystica is a treatise of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, the 5th century mystic and theologian, discussing the transcendent nature of God. The writings of Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite did not reach the West until about 824, when they were sent to Louis the Pious by Michael the Stammerer, Emperor of Constantinople: "Opera" and translated into Latin by Johannes Scotus Eriugena (c. 815 – c. 877).

A number of later works on the topic have the same title:
  • Hugh of Balma (d. 1305): Theologia mystica, De triplici via, Theologia mystica sive trivium sacrum, ed. A. Fr. De Monte (Abraham de Franckenberg d. 1652), Amsterdam (1647).
  • Maximilian Sandaeus (d. 1656): Theologia mystica seu contemplatio divina religiosorum a calumniis vindicat (1627), Clavis theologiae mysticae (1630).
  • Christian Hoburg (d. 1675): Theologia Mystica, das ist Geheime Krafft-Theologia der Alten, Amsterdam (1655).
  • John Pordage (d. 1681): Theologia mystica, or, the mystic divinitie, London (1683)
  • St. Bonaventure, Minister General of the Friars Minor (b. at Bagnorea, 1221; d. at Lyons, 1274): "Journey of the Soul towards God". The "Seven Roads of Eternity", which has sometimes been attributed to him, is the work of a Friar Minor, Rudolph of Bibrach, of the fourteenth century.
  • St. Francis de Sales, Bishop of Geneva (b. at Thorens, near Annecy, 1567; d. at Lyons, 1622): "Treatise on the Love of God" (Lyons, 1616).
  • Philip of the Blessed Trinity, General of the Discalced Carmelites (b. at Malancène, near Avignon, 1603; d. at Naples, 1671): "Summa theologiæ mysticæ" (Lyons, 1656).
  • Joseph of the Holy Ghost, Definitor General of the Discalced Carmelites (d. 1639): "Cursus theologiæ mystico-scholasticæ" (6 vols., Seville, 1710–40).
  • Emmanuel de la Reguera, S.J. (b. at Aguilàr del Campo, 1668; d. at Rome, 1747): "Praxis theologiæ mysticæ" (2 vols., Rome, 1740–45), a development of the mystical theology of Wadding (Father Godinez).
  • Dominicus Schram, O.S.B. (b. at Bamberg, 1722; d. at Bainz, 1797): "Institutiones theologiæ mysticæ (Augsburg, 1777), chiefly an abridgment of la Reguera.

Major works since St. Teresa

  • 1588 – St. Teresa of Avila’s Works
  • 1702 – St. John of the Cross’ Works
  • 1754 – G. B. Scaramelli’s A Handbook of Mystical Theology
  • 1767 – Benedict XIV’s Heroic Virtue
  • 1876 – Augustine Baker’s Holy Wisdom
  • 1903 – Arthur Devine’s A Manual of Mystical Theology
  • 1910 – Augustin Poulain’s The Graces of Interior Prayer
  • 1917 – Savinien Louismet’s The Mystical Knowledge of God
  • 1922 – Cuthbert Butler's Western Mysticism
  • 1926 – Albert Farges’ Mystical Phenomena Compared with Their Human and Diabolical Counterfeits
  • 1930 – Adolphe Tanquerey’s The Spiritual Life
  • 1938 – Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange’s The Three Ages of the Interior Life
  • 1947 – Montague Summers’ The Physical Phenomena of Mysticism
  • 1952 – Herbert Thurston’s The Physical Phenomena of Mysticism
  • 1953 – Joseph de Guibert’s The Theology of the Spiritual Life
  • 1976 – Vladimir Lossky’s The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church
  • 1982 – Jordan Aumann’s Spiritual Theology
  • 1989 – Thomas Dubay’s Fire Within
  • 1993 – Benedict Groeschel’s A Still, Small Voice: A Practical Guide on Reported Revelations


  1. Gellman, Jerome, "Mysticism", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2011 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)
  2. Parsons 2011, p. 3.
  3. King 2002, p. 15.
  4. McGinn 2006.
  5. Hori 1999, p. 47.
  6. Sharf 2000, p. 271.
  7. Parsons 2011, p. 4-5.
  8. King 2002, p. 21.
  9. Bynum, Caroline Walker (1988). Holy feast and holy fast: the religious significance of food to medieval women. U of California Press. pp. 64,253. ISBN 978-0-520-06329-7.
  10. John Barton, "The Old Testament", in The Study of Spirituality, ed. Cheslyn Jones, et al., Oxford University Press, 1986. pp. 47-57.
  11. see Barton and Holmes
  12. Holmes pp.15
  13. Holmes p.14-16
  14. Holmes p.17
  15. Holmes pp.19-20
  16. Holmes pp.18-19

Next: Part 2 - DEVELOPMENT



Catholic Catechism 

Part Three:  Life in Christ 

Section Two:  The Ten Commandments

Chapter Two:  Seventh Commandment 

 Article 7:1 The Universal Destination and the Private Ownership of Goods



Jesus said to his disciples: "Love one another as I have loved you."1 Jn 13:34
2196 In response to the question about the first of the commandments, Jesus says: "The first is, 'Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' the second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."2 Mk 12:29-31; cf. Deut 6:4-5; Lev 19:18; Mt 22:34-40; Lk 10:25-28
The apostle St. Paul reminds us of this: "He who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. the commandments, 'You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,' and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law."3 Rom 13:8-10

Article 7
You shall not steal.185 EX 20:15; Deut 5:19; Mt 19:18.
2401 The seventh commandment forbids unjustly taking or keeping the goods of one's neighbor and wronging him in any way with respect to his goods. It commands justice and charity in the care of earthly goods and the fruits of men's labor. For the sake of the common good, it requires respect for the universal destination of goods and respect for the right to private property. Christian life strives to order this world's goods to God and to fraternal charity.

I. The Universal Destination and the Private Ownership of Goods
2402 In the beginning God entrusted the earth and its resources to the common stewardship of mankind to take care of them, master them by labor, and enjoy their fruits.186 The goods of creation are destined for the whole human race. However, the earth is divided up among men to assure the security of their lives, endangered by poverty and threatened by violence. the appropriation of property is legitimate for guaranteeing the freedom and dignity of persons and for helping each of them to meet his basic needs and the needs of those in his charge. It should allow for a natural solidarity to develop between men.

2403 The right to private property, acquired by work or received from others by inheritance or gift, does not do away with the original gift of the earth to the whole of mankind. the universal destination of goods remains primordial, even if the promotion of the common good requires respect for the right to private property and its exercise.

2404 "In his use of things man should regard the external goods he legitimately owns not merely as exclusive to himself but common to others also, in the sense that they can benefit others as well as himself."187 The ownership of any property makes its holder a steward of Providence, with the task of making it fruitful and communicating its benefits to others, first of all his family.

2405 Goods of production - material or immaterial - such as land, factories, practical or artistic skills, oblige their possessors to employ them in ways that will benefit the greatest number. Those who hold goods for use and consumption should use them with moderation, reserving the better part for guests, for the sick and the poor.

2406 Political authority has the right and duty to regulate the legitimate exercise of the right to ownership for the sake of the common good.188

186 Cf. Gen 1:26-29.
187 GS 69 # 1.
188 Cf. GS 71 # 4; SRS 42; CA 40; 48.