This weeks reading was a selection Marguerite Porete, from her book "A Mirror Of Souls". Reading the short her short bio read that she was a member of the Beguines (a movement within the church of women who lived and ministered outside of the social norms), and that many of them were mystics, and found myself thinking " o' no not another mystic". I grew up in a primarily fundamentalist denomination, and went to a fundamentalist university, so I know that my view of mysticism is a little skewed, and yet I know that there is much to learn from the movement as there from all movements within Christianity. From the two readings that in this book that I have been through it seems that mystics seem to be very experiential in there writings, and theology. I will have to do some more study on the Mystic movement. The only thing that history tells us is that she was tried for heresy and burned at the stake.
In the reading this week Porete describes "the seven stages in the ascent of mountain from whose summit only God can be seen"
The first stage: Keeping the Commandments
Pretty self explanatory, a person is touched by God's grace, and does their best to keep His commandments.
The second stage: Following the Counsel of Perfection
A person dies to his earthly desires, without remorse. Following the example of Christ.
The third Stage: The Death of Will
In this stage a person gives up their own will to serve only the will of others. One again dies to them selves.
The fourth stage: Labors give way to contemplation
In this stage a person is brought "by Love" into contemplation. Contemplation becomes the focus of the soul
The fifth Stage: The will abandoned to God
A person will see who God really is, and who they are in relationship to Him, producing Great humility and a willingness to give their will Completely to God.
The sixth stage: Freedom in Enlightenment
This is the last stage that is attainable in this lifetime, and to be quite honest I don't really understand what Porete is saying here. This is how she describes it: "Pure and enlightened, it is no longer her seeing God in herself, but God seeing her, through her, showing her that there is nothing but God.... She sees that all is in the being of God, who is love and has paid all debts."
The seventh stage
"God reserves it to Himself, and will give it to us in everlasting glory."
I understand the first five stages, and the seventh, but I do not understand stage six. I just don't understand what she is trying to convey. Is it that in this stage all that we see is God, and nothing else. But she says that God sees through her. I just don't get it. Maybe, some day if I ever reach this level of enlightenment I will understand but for now it is beyond my reach.
Every stage on the mountain is described in a very experiential, very pleasant ways. I know that experiences and how we process them are gifts from God, but to rely on them in total is an error that a lot of Christians (including myself) have made and continue to make. We need to process everything through the only infallible source that we have, and that is the word of God. There is a lot of good material in this reading, some of it seemed redundant to me (that there seem to be different stages of dying to ones oneself). I am also not sure that everything in this reading can be backed up biblicly. I have been working on this for a week, and I am still having trouble lining up this writing with Biblical text, which is why I haven't put any into this blog. If anyone who reads this blog has any knowledge of "A Mirror of Simple Souls" by Marguerite Porete, your help would be much appreciated.
Next week I start the set of readings on prayer. Looking forward to it.