Inspiration from the Middle Ages

Before you start – remember that these pieces come from people who were writing between 1200 and 1500 or so – the language is old and the grammar might be strange – but there is inspiration there.

Thomas Aquinas – from the Summa Theologiae – he started it in 1265– The word Grace is used by Chrisitians to refer to God’s love that we haven’t, and can’t earn – “As used in everyday language, “grace” is commonly understood to mean three things.  First, it can mean someone’s love, as wehn it is said that a soldier has the king’s favor – that is, that the king holds him in favor.  Secondly, it can mean a gift which is freely given, as when it is said: “I do you this favor.”  Thirdly, it can mean the response to a gift which is freely received. …To say that someone has the grace of God is to say that there is something supernatural in the soul, coming forth from God.

Julian of Norwich, _Revelations of Divine Love_, early 1400’s
“…I often longed to know what our Lord meant [by the visions he showed me].  And fifteen years and more later my spiritual understanding received an answer, which was this:  ‘Do you want to know well what your Lord meant?  Know well that love was what he meant.  Who showed you this?  Love.  What did he show you?  Love.  Why did he show it to you? For love.  Hold fast to this and you will know and understand more of the same….’  And I saw quite certainly in this and in everything that God loved us before he made us; and his love has never diminished and never shall.  And all his works were done in this love; and in this love he has made everything for our profit; and in this love our life is everlasting.”

Aelred of Rievaulx (1100’s), from  “On Spiritual Friendship”  “On the human plane there is nothing striven after that is more holy, nothing sought that is more advantageous, nothing got that is harder of attainment, nothing experienced that is sweeter, nothing possessed that gives greater return [than friendship].  Indeed, friendship yields a harvest both in this life and the next…for our Savior says in the Gospel, “I do not call you servants, but friends,” showing that human friendship leads to that of God….In friendship there is nothing base, no hypocrisy and no pretense.  In substance it is holy, spontaneous, and true, and this too is the nature of love.  But friendship has this surpassing privilege: when two are joined in friendship, they can count on happiness, tranquillity of mind and the delights of pleasant intercourse ensuing, while there are many whom charity teaches us to love who are a burden and a plague to us, and others for whom we have genujine unfeigned regard, yet whom we none the less do not admit to intamcy.  In friendship, on the other hand, integrity and pleasure, truth an dhappiness, desire and reality are one, and all have their beginning, their continuance and their end in Christ.”

 Richard Rolle (1300’s), from “The Form of Living” – “What is love?  I reply, love is an ardent yearning for God, with a wonderful delight and security.  God is light and burning.  Light illuminates our reason; burning ignites our yearning so that we can desire nothing except him.  Love is one life, coupling together the one loving and the one beloved….  Love makes us one with God.  Love is the beauty of all virtues.  Love is a device through which God loves us and we God and each of us one another.”

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One Response to Inspiration from the Middle Ages

  1. Maura says:

    I just wanted to say that I love your site and your ministry. I grew up Catholic with a mother who had a mental illness and have struggled with feelings of rejection, shame and being unworthy. I pray to believe that God could love me. This is my deepest wish and longing, to belong to him and have his love now and forever. Thank you for your ministry. Maybe, in the future, you could tape and show some of your services on this site.

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