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 Post subject: The Cloud of Unknowing
PostPosted: Sat Aug 24, 2013 10:31 pm 
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Handmaids of the Lord
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I'm having a lot of trouble with the idea that meditating on his wounds is a '[lowering' form of prayer.
I understand that God IS before all human drama ever was a glimer in his eye, but isn't his passion the cornerstone of the first power? -- that of loving and not of knowing?

I'm not sure I entirely like this book...... Am I wrong?

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 Post subject: Re: The Cloud of Unknowing
PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2013 12:07 pm 
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This book, and it's discussion of lower and higher parts of the active and contemplative life left me wondering, "How does this work in real life?"

Sometimes I think the author uses lower to mean humbling, while other times he seems to use lower in terms of something being closer to the physical world. Although my memory on this is vague since it has been a long time since I read it.

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 Post subject: Re: The Cloud of Unknowing
PostPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2013 11:41 pm 
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According to Catholic Spirituality, Infused contemplation (apophatic mode of knowing God) is an objectively higher form of prayer than discursive meditation (cataphatic mode of knowing God; one example would be meditating on Christ's wounds and suffering).

Traditionally, they are both important, and both kinds are necessary for Christian perfection and knowing God.

However, ONLY God causes infused contemplation, no matter how much the soul tries to dispose itself, even if they were to follow the guidance of that book.

The Cloud of Unknowing is an attempt to help a soul who is actually being called by God to know Him by means of infused contemplation.

The great Thomist, Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, says that God desires all persons to reach these higher ways of knowing Him in prayer, and would graciously grant it if we would generously apply ourselves to the Christian ascetical life for some time and Christian meditation.

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Last edited by Dionysius on Tue Aug 27, 2013 12:12 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Cloud of Unknowing
PostPosted: Tue Aug 27, 2013 12:12 am 
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Quote:
isn't his passion the cornerstone of the first power? -- that of loving and not of knowing?


Can you clarify what you are trying to say here?

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"The only successful method will be that which bases harmony and agreement among Christ's faithful ones upon all the truths, and the whole of the truths, which God has revealed." -Pope Pius XII

Some of these ecumenists are so preoccupied with Christian unity that they are willing to destroy Catholic unity in the name of Christian unity. - Fr. John Hardon


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 Post subject: Re: The Cloud of Unknowing
PostPosted: Tue Aug 27, 2013 12:45 am 
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sunmumy wrote:
I'm having a lot of trouble with the idea that meditating on his wounds is a '[lowering' form of prayer.
I understand that God IS before all human drama ever was a glimer in his eye, but isn't his passion the cornerstone of the first power? -- that of loving and not of knowing?

I'm not sure I entirely like this book...... Am I wrong?


Its really not that complicated. If you are seriously interested in cutting through the minutia and really gaining a personal communion with God then read "The Practice of the Presence of God" by Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection and do what he describes. Dont deviate and dont give up. I promise you God is no respecter of persons and God will honor you as he honored Brother Lawrence.

Here:
http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/5657

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 Post subject: Re: The Cloud of Unknowing
PostPosted: Tue Aug 27, 2013 8:09 pm 
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EcclesiaMiles wrote:
Quote:
isn't his passion the cornerstone of the first power? -- that of loving and not of knowing?


Can you clarify what you are trying to say here?


The first power is just the old fashioned way the author of the book describes love, ability would be a better word.

I am aware of the reasons behind this method of contemplation, but I am bothered by the similarities to buddhism. At one point in the book, the author talks about using one word to focus his prayer. He suggested God or Love, but I still feel bothered by the idea of stripping the personalistic
( I don't know how else to explain it) from God. I'm not looking to make contact with an impersonal deity. I think his personhood is inseparable from his relating to us..... I'm not sure if that makes sense.

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Edith Stein

Formerly Sunmumy.


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 Post subject: Re: The Cloud of Unknowing
PostPosted: Tue Aug 27, 2013 10:42 pm 
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sunmumy wrote:
EcclesiaMiles wrote:
Quote:
isn't his passion the cornerstone of the first power? -- that of loving and not of knowing?


Can you clarify what you are trying to say here?


The first power is just the old fashioned way the author of the book describes love, ability would be a better word.

I am aware of the reasons behind this method of contemplation, but I am bothered by the similarities to buddhism. At one point in the book, the author talks about using one word to focus his prayer. He suggested God or Love, but I still feel bothered by the idea of stripping the personalistic
( I don't know how else to explain it) from God. I'm not looking to make contact with an impersonal deity. I think his personhood is inseparable from his relating to us..... I'm not sure if that makes sense.


Reminds me of when daughter, about 3 yrs old at the time, kept saying dad ... dad ... dad ....

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 Post subject: Re: The Cloud of Unknowing
PostPosted: Tue Aug 27, 2013 10:56 pm 
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At some point in the life of prayer, discursive meditation does cease. It's not something that we can make happen--it's the work of God, given at His own will and in His own time--but it is a common pattern. To attempt to return to discursive meditation is in fact a step down (and, to a person who has been given graces of higher prayer, probably futile as well; they find they can't meditate as they once could, even if they try).

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 Post subject: Re: The Cloud of Unknowing
PostPosted: Tue Aug 27, 2013 11:01 pm 
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You can find this same kind of thought in St. John of the Cross, BTW, and he is as orthodox a writer on prayer as one could hope to find.

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 Post subject: Re: The Cloud of Unknowing
PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 8:26 am 
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EtcumSpiri22-0 wrote:
sunmumy wrote:
EcclesiaMiles wrote:
Quote:
isn't his passion the cornerstone of the first power? -- that of loving and not of knowing?


Can you clarify what you are trying to say here?


The first power is just the old fashioned way the author of the book describes love, ability would be a better word.

I am aware of the reasons behind this method of contemplation, but I am bothered by the similarities to buddhism. At one point in the book, the author talks about using one word to focus his prayer. He suggested God or Love, but I still feel bothered by the idea of stripping the personalistic
( I don't know how else to explain it) from God. I'm not looking to make contact with an impersonal deity. I think his personhood is inseparable from his relating to us..... I'm not sure if that makes sense.


Reminds me of when daughter, about 3 yrs old at the time, kept saying dad ... dad ... dad ....


Apt comparison in more ways than one.
The book you recommend looks very interesting.
So many books, so little life! :)

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The image of the Mother of God demonstrates the basic spiritual attitude which corresponds to woman’s natural vocation; her relation to her husband is one of obedience, trust, and participation in his life as she furthers his objective tasks and personality development; to the child she gives true care, encouragement, and formation of his God-given talents; she offers both selfless surrender and a quiet withdrawal when unneeded. -
Edith Stein

Formerly Sunmumy.


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 Post subject: Re: The Cloud of Unknowing
PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 8:30 am 
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Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
You can find this same kind of thought in St. John of the Cross, BTW, and he is as orthodox a writer on prayer as one could hope to find.


I do trust my John of the Cross, I'll have to look back and see what he says on it. Maybe this is one of those experiential things.....

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The image of the Mother of God demonstrates the basic spiritual attitude which corresponds to woman’s natural vocation; her relation to her husband is one of obedience, trust, and participation in his life as she furthers his objective tasks and personality development; to the child she gives true care, encouragement, and formation of his God-given talents; she offers both selfless surrender and a quiet withdrawal when unneeded. -
Edith Stein

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 Post subject: Re: The Cloud of Unknowing
PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 8:38 am 
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Quote:
31.—St. John of the Cross:

1. “This interior wisdom, so simple, general, and spiritual, enters not into an intellect entangled and covered over by any forms or images subject to sense, ... and therefore the imagination and the senses ... cannot account for it...” (The Obscure Night of the Soul, Book II, ch. xvii, p. 427). And again, “if that [the Divine union] is to be attained, the soul must enter the second night of the spirit ... perfectly detaching sense and spirit from all sweetness and from all these [imaginary] apprehensions” (ibid., ch. ii, p. 377). See also Ascent of Mount Carmel, Book III, ch. i.

2. The name night of the senses, which is given by the saint to the state which prepares the soul for the mystic union (see ch. xv), sums up the whole of his teaching on this point. He wishes to indicate the gradual disappearance in prayer of all that is due to sense.

3. “If it attempt to seek them [sweetness and fervour], not only will it not find them, but it will meet with aridity, because it turns away from the peaceful and tranquil good secretly bestowed upon it, when it attempts to fall back on the operations of sense. In this way it loses the latter without gaining the former, because the senses have ceased to be the channel of spiritual good ... for the gift being so grand, and an infused gift, cannot be received in this scanty and imperfect way” (The Living Flame of Love, Stanza III, § 6, pp. 268–9).

4. “... mystical theology, that is, the secret or hidden wisdom of God, ... without the sound of words, or the intervention of any bodily or spiritual [imaginative] sense; as it were in silence and in repose, in the darkness of sense and nature, teaches the soul—and the soul knows not how—in a most secret and hidden way.... [It takes place] in the intellect as it is passive, which, without receiving such forms, receives passively only the substantial intelligence of them free from all imagery” (Spiritual Canticle, stanza xxxix, p. 208). The saint also excludes imaginative acts, except in the case of distractions, even for the state (night of the senses) which precedes the manifest mystic state (The Ascent of Mount Carmel, Book II, ch. xiii, xiv). Also see the whole of ch. xii.

5. After explaining that the imagination counts for nothing in the production of the mystic state he says:

“This explains why some persons, walking in this way, good and timid souls, who, when they would give an account of their interior state to their directors, know not how to do it, neither have they power to do it, and so feel a great repugnance to explain themselves, especially when contemplation is the more simple and with difficulty discernible by them. All they can say is that their soul is satisfied, calm, or contented, that they have a feeling of God, and that all goes well with them, as they think; but they cannot explain their state, except by general expressions like these. But it is a different matter when they have a consciousness of particular things, such as visions, impressions, and the like; these in general are communicated under some species, and the senses participate in them; in that case they are able to describe them. But it is not in the nature of pure contemplation that it can be described; for it can scarcely be spoken of in words, and therefore we call it secret” (The Obscure Night of the Soul, Book II, ch. xvii, pp. 428–9).

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 Post subject: Re: The Cloud of Unknowing
PostPosted: Fri Nov 15, 2013 10:09 am 
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Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
At some point in the life of prayer, discursive meditation does cease. It's not something that we can make happen--it's the work of God, given at His own will and in His own time--but it is a common pattern. To attempt to return to discursive meditation is in fact a step down (and, to a person who has been given graces of higher prayer, probably futile as well; they find they can't meditate as they once could, even if they try).



I think our introvert/extrovert inclinations have something to do with it also. We are all so different and yet we all go through many different phases also. I like the CLoud because it validates my need to sometimes simplify my prayer to a single word or thought. Others may not have that need or appreciate it.


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 Post subject: Re: The Cloud of Unknowing
PostPosted: Tue Nov 19, 2013 9:35 pm 
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I've read this book (found it in a second hand book shop in Oxford). I quite liked it but don't see it as appropriate for a lay person really. I think it's about disposing oneself to what might happen if God takes over in your life of prayer. I think it's aimed at contemplatives and assumes those who read it live a life ordered to contemplation, in a way ours can't be, due to other responsibilities (contemplative monks/hermits and the like).


Last edited by pat list on Thu Nov 21, 2013 3:59 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The Cloud of Unknowing
PostPosted: Wed Nov 20, 2013 1:58 am 
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Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
Quote:
31.—St. John of the Cross:

1. “This interior wisdom, so simple, general, and spiritual, enters not into an intellect entangled and covered over by any forms or images subject to sense, ... and therefore the imagination and the senses ... cannot account for it...” (The Obscure Night of the Soul, Book II, ch. xvii, p. 427). And again, “if that [the Divine union] is to be attained, the soul must enter the second night of the spirit ... perfectly detaching sense and spirit from all sweetness and from all these [imaginary] apprehensions” (ibid., ch. ii, p. 377). See also Ascent of Mount Carmel, Book III, ch. i.

2. The name night of the senses, which is given by the saint to the state which prepares the soul for the mystic union (see ch. xv), sums up the whole of his teaching on this point. He wishes to indicate the gradual disappearance in prayer of all that is due to sense.

3. “If it attempt to seek them [sweetness and fervour], not only will it not find them, but it will meet with aridity, because it turns away from the peaceful and tranquil good secretly bestowed upon it, when it attempts to fall back on the operations of sense. In this way it loses the latter without gaining the former, because the senses have ceased to be the channel of spiritual good ... for the gift being so grand, and an infused gift, cannot be received in this scanty and imperfect way” (The Living Flame of Love, Stanza III, § 6, pp. 268–9).

4. “... mystical theology, that is, the secret or hidden wisdom of God, ... without the sound of words, or the intervention of any bodily or spiritual [imaginative] sense; as it were in silence and in repose, in the darkness of sense and nature, teaches the soul—and the soul knows not how—in a most secret and hidden way.... [It takes place] in the intellect as it is passive, which, without receiving such forms, receives passively only the substantial intelligence of them free from all imagery” (Spiritual Canticle, stanza xxxix, p. 208). The saint also excludes imaginative acts, except in the case of distractions, even for the state (night of the senses) which precedes the manifest mystic state (The Ascent of Mount Carmel, Book II, ch. xiii, xiv). Also see the whole of ch. xii.

5. After explaining that the imagination counts for nothing in the production of the mystic state he says:

“This explains why some persons, walking in this way, good and timid souls, who, when they would give an account of their interior state to their directors, know not how to do it, neither have they power to do it, and so feel a great repugnance to explain themselves, especially when contemplation is the more simple and with difficulty discernible by them. All they can say is that their soul is satisfied, calm, or contented, that they have a feeling of God, and that all goes well with them, as they think; but they cannot explain their state, except by general expressions like these. But it is a different matter when they have a consciousness of particular things, such as visions, impressions, and the like; these in general are communicated under some species, and the senses participate in them; in that case they are able to describe them. But it is not in the nature of pure contemplation that it can be described; for it can scarcely be spoken of in words, and therefore we call it secret” (The Obscure Night of the Soul, Book II, ch. xvii, pp. 428–9).



I was an introvert by nature. Exploring the contemplative life has produced an extrovert...

I have found that the peace that passes understanding is completely attainable. In fact It is the normal Christian life ... otherwise Paul the Apostle would not have said so... (I read Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection and followed his instructions embodied in Philippians 4:4 ..."" Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus"". ... The experience of that level of peace bypasses the circumstances. Normal response just doesnt exist. The perceptions becomes completely washed in peace/ joy/ love to the point of delight. There is no doubt. There is no fear. Restful confidence permeates every fibre. I have often been angrily accused of just not caring ... or being completely oblivious to reality and the seriousness of the situation. ... Just as is described by the "mystics" ...it cant be explained to someone who has not experienced it. Those who dont understand whats happening inside ... often think I am out of touch ... or irresponsible. ... it reminds me of the poster I saw in every dorm in college ... "Go placidly amid the noise and haste...when everything seems to be falling apart and they are blaming you ...walk to the beat of a different drummer... ". ... (paraphrased of course)

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