Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Cistercian Abbots William of St. Thierry and John of Ford -- Meditations/Teachings

William of St. Thierry was a theologian, mystic, and abbot born at Liege approx. 1085 and died at Signy approx. 1148.

WILLIAM OF ST THIERRY (http://www.ocist.org/)


Longing to see God

" MY HEART HAS TALKED of you my face has sought you. Your face, Lord, wiil I seek.Do not turn away your face from me, do not shun your servant in wrath."

It seems surpassing boldness and effrontery to make comparison between my face and yours, Lord God! For you see and judge the hearts of all men and, if you enter into judgment with your servant, the face of my iniquity can only flee before that of your righteousness.

But if, in order to excuse and help my poverty, you should grant me burning love and humility, then let them flee who hate I, for my part, should not flee your face. For love is very daring, and humility fosters confidence. Iam not conscious of these virtues in myself, yet I a vow myself your friend. For, if you ask me: " Do you love me" as you asked Peter, I shall say plainly, I shall tell you boldly:" Lord, you know all things, you know I want to love you . And that is as much as to say: "If you ask me the same thing a thousand times, I shall as often make the same reply: You know I want to love you" And that means that my heart desires nothing so much as it desires to love you."

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JOHN OF FORD (http://www.ocist.org/)




Br. Damian Junior

John of Ford was a Cistercian abbot of the Monastery of Ford in Devon. His life of Wulfric of Haselbery was written while he was still a prior to this Monastery. He was born in 1140 and died on 21 April, 1244.

Poor little Mind

"What is your beloved more than another beloved, o fairest among women? When the daughters of Jerusalem are adjured by the lord’s bride to carry to her spouse words of tenderness, they do not refuse the responsibility of the charge laid upon them to become intermediaries between such lovers, to be promoters of so sacred a covenant because they have long been nourished by the bride’s words."

(On Song of Songs ,Sermon Two, editor Hilary Costello, Kalamazoo Michigan 1977, p 90)

Sermon Two- The song of songs is a collection of love poems, for the most part in the form of songs addressed by a man to a woman, and by a woman to a man. In some translations, the book is called The song of Solomon, because it is attributed to Solomon in the Hebrew. These songs have often been interpreted as a picture of the relationship between Christ and the Church. (The holy Bible on introduction of the book of song of songs) Perhaps the most important outcome for readers of this book would be to draw them into their own meditation on the song of songs. In fact, in his welcome, I suggests that the reading allow himself or herself to be transported beyond the words, into an experience with God. I keep my text short so as not to lead you too far away from the more enticing and expressive drawings. Do not hesitate to record your own feelings, thoughts and inspirations. But do not get caught up in words. They are products of our very limited minds. Rather, let the drawings draw and the sacred text invite you to realms beyond words, " what is the song of songs, this greatest song of all songs is about, spiritual commentary on the song of songs is meant not so much to be an academic commentary as it is an aid to contemplation.

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William of St. Thierry on Lectio Divina

§ 120. [A]t fixed hours time should be given to certain definite reading. For haphazard reading, constantly varied and as if lighted on by chance does not edify but makes the mind unstable; taken into the memory lightly, it goes out from it even more lightly. But you should concentrate on certain authors and let your mind grow used to them.

§ 121. The Scriptures need to be read and understood in the same spirit in which they were written. You will never enter into Paul's meaning until by constant application to reading him and by giving yourself to meditation you have imbibed his spirit. You will never understand David until by experience you have made the very sentiments of the psalms your own. And that applies to all Scripture. There is the same gulf between attentive study and mere reading as there is between friendship and acquaintance with a passing guest, between boon companionship and chance meeting.

§ 122. Some part of your daily reading should also each day be committed to memory, taken as it were into the stomach, to be more carefully digested and brought up again for frequent rumination; something in keeping with your vocation and helpful to concentration, something that will take hold of the mind and save it from distraction.

§ 123. The reading should also stimulate the feelings and give rise to prayer, which should interrupt your reading: an interruption which should not so much hamper the reading as restore to it a mind ever more purified for understanding.

§ 124. For reading serves the purpose of the intention with which it is done. If the reader truly seeks God in his reading, everything that he reads tends to promote that end, making the mind surrender in the course of the reading and bring all that is understood into Christ's service.

From: William of Saint Thierry (d. 1148), The Golden Epistle: A Letter to the Brethren at Mont Dieu 1.120-124, trans. Theodore Berkeley, The Works of William of St. Thierry, Cistercian Fathers 12 (Spencer, Mass.: Cistercian Publications, 1971) 51-52. In the Migne Patrologia Latina, volume 184, this would be Book 1, paragraph 31.

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