Friday, December 03, 2010
Odd female mystics...
The Holy Father has been digging up a lot of female mystics for his Wednesday audiences lately. Many of these were the same mystics I was forbidden to read in the novitiate, BTW. I expect he's speaking about these women to help modern women understand they have always had a place in the Church. Early on, I too was attracted by the more obscure medieval female contemplatives, enjoying their more homely, Alice-sit-by-the-fire mysticism. Kempe was actually something of a camp. Quite a character - many thought she was mad - Julian of Norwich assured her that her visions must be good because they led to greater works of charity. (Julian didn't know for sure, did she.) That said, one of my favorite stories involves Margery tempted to an adulterous affair, having fallen victim to a male parishioner's flattery. Naughty girl.
My little Margie.
Though she had tried to be more devout after her vision, she was tempted by sexual pleasures and social jealousy for some years. Eventually turning away from what she interpreted as the effect of worldly pride in her vocational choices, Kempe dedicated herself completely to the spiritual calling that she felt her earlier vision required. Striving to live a life of commitment to God, Kempe negotiated a celibate marriage with her husband, and began to make pilgrimages around Europe to holy sites — including Rome, Jerusalem, and Santiago de Compostela. The stories surrounding these travels are what eventually comprised much of her Book, although a final section includes a series of prayers. The spiritual focus of her Book is on the mystical conversations she conducts with Christ for more than forty years. - Source
There is hope for us all, I dare say. BTW, Anglicans venerate the blessed Margery on November 9. I once had a very old copy of her autobiography... Lesson learned - never lend books to 'friends'.