Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Elizabeth Dreyer & Medieval Women Mystics


The University's Ignatian Faber Institute invited Elizabeth Dreyer (former PhD graduate) to speak about Medieval Woman Mystics. I thought it would be a good break from writing two papers and a presentation. She didn't really talk about the mystics themselves, but how to approach their writings today.

1. Text Isses: Medieval writing can be difficult to follow. The women often wrote in the language of the time, some may have wrote in Latin, many dictated their work to men or clerics who then wrote their ideas in Latin. When aware and ask yourself whose voice you are hearing; the mystic, the writer, or the translator.

2. Women had to be very courageous to write in their time. They were monastic women and they had to balance their call to community and silence and the need to write their visions. These led to public popularity that might have added more pressure to keep writing and exploring the visions. They also had to consider the possible censure of the Church and their own community.

3. Fidelity to their message: Women may not have had much formal education, but they wrote from their experiences. This lead to a broad use of origional and creative language. They were faithful to their vision from their point of view, there was no concern for cliche. They call us to be faithful to our own expereinces and voice, they call us to reverence our own stories.

She recommended looking to Julian of Norwich to a new vision of the Trinity and Grace, Gertrude the Great for Baptism, Jadewijch of Brabant's poetry and visions, and Perpetua's dreams while in prison. Once, a person is ready for the challenge, then move to Teresa of Avila's Interior Castle and Hildegard of Bignen's challenging writings.

I really wish I had the time to dive into more of their works. Maybe over Summer break from school! She also recommended (pitched) Called To Holiness a new series of 8 volumes about spirituality for Catholic Women. They even have a website through St. Anthony Messenger


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