A Taste of Quiet

The Fourth Mansion of Teresa’s masterpiece is outstanding and requires a special introductory blog. She writes that “Supernatural experiences begin here.” This is closure of the Purgative Way and the beginning of the Illuminative. It’s also the commencement of the Recollective spirit, or the Prayer of Quiet. This is the transition that occurs between active meditation and infused contemplation. John of the Cross is the spiritual master of infused contemplation while Teresa plays the more dominate hand concerning the prior stage of the Prayer of Quiet. In league with both John and Teresa another notable Spanish-Mystic of the 17th Century is Miguel de Molinos (1628-1697), a true master-teacher of the Prayer of Quiet (quietud).  Misunderstood and unjustly condemned in his time-frame, this spiritual father of what was to become a movement called Quietism:

The debate over Quietism was essentially an argument about prayer. More specifically, it was an argument about which kind of prayer was best suited for those advanced in the spiritual life. Molinos and his allies emphasized a general attitude of interiority, a passivity of the will, and a simplicity and purity in the act of prayer.

Robert P. Baird. Miguel de Molinos: The Spiritual Guide (Classics of Western Spirituality) (Kindle Locations 48-50). Kindle Edition.

Meanwhile, in stringent opposition, the Jesuits emphasized excessive effort when it came to all things spiritual. Trained, or better yet, conditioned as they were in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, that methodology was the end-all of everything. I can attest to what it was like encountering that particular over-the-top spirituality. In Seminary, my spiritual-directress was an old Ursuline Nun who was adverse to my favoritism of Carmelite Mysticism over Ignatian dogmatism. She attempted to uproot me from my preference, but her approach was so severe that it really turned me off to Ignatius, even to this day I have no affinity for him. At any rate, the Ignatians won out over Molinos and he became a favorite target of the Spanish Inquisition which led to his absolute downfall.

The Spiritual Guide is Molinos’ most famous work and was published in 1675. At first, the work was a huge success—extending over a ten-year period of great spiritual-import.

The initial Spanish edition of the Spiritual Guide was soon followed by an Italian translation; both editions followed the normal process of ecclesiastical approval and included approbations by clergy of the Trinitarian, Franciscan, Carmelite, Capuchin, and Jesuit orders. The book received the imprimatur from the Dominican Raymond Capizucchi, master of the Sacred Palace (that is, the pope’s own theologian). These and others praised Molinos for his book and his life, speaking often of his “ardent zeal” and his “clear method.”

Robert P. Baird. Miguel de Molinos: The Spiritual Guide (Classics of Western Spirituality) (Kindle Locations 110-112). Kindle Edition.

In his great masterpiece, Molinos is concerned first and foremost with those who are called from meditation to contemplation.

After citing a long list of spiritual authorities whose teachings supported his position, from Pseudo-Dionysius to Thomas Aquinas to Francis de Sales, Molinos concluded that if a person is always praying discursively by way of sensible, intellectual, temporal, corporeal, and exterior objects, and if he makes use of images and likenesses, then he will never reach the goal that is contemplation and perfection. For in these things the understanding remains hobbled and hindered in its attempt to fix itself in the pure faith of simple truth, which is contemplation, the end of meditation.

Robert P. Baird. Miguel de Molinos: The Spiritual Guide (Classics of Western Spirituality) (Kindle Locations 132-135). Kindle Edition.

This directly is akin with principles found in Unborn Mind Zen, in particular with forgoing any phenomenal imagery.

Molinos’ taste for the quiet of solitude in contemplation is so on the mark that William James proclaimed him “a spiritual genius” in The Varieties of Religious Experience. The Spiritual Guide boasts 17 chapters the first entitled, The Darknesses, Drynesses, and Temptations with Which God Purges Souls. Of Interior Recollection and Acquired Contemplation. Apparently this is quite a lot to swallow and digest, but Molinos’ intent was to fine-tune the Prayer of Quiet to the extent that it rivals that of the great Carmelite Spiritual Masters. It asserts that essential illustration of Teresa’s “interior-recollection (recogimiento)” which is the very hallmark of the illuminative stage in what is known as “acquired contemplation.” He’s also very much a child of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite in that his negative mysticism becomes enhanced during the spiritual process of self-emptying—yea, absolute annihilation of the body consciousness that fosters that interior and passive quietude that is a prerequisite for Divine Union.

“We know God,” more perfectly by negations than by affirmations. We sense God more by knowing that he is incomprehensible and knowing that he is above all understanding than by conceiving him under some image or beautiful creature, which is to understand him in our rough way” (Mystical Theology, ch. 1, sec. 2). Therefore, more esteem and love are engendered by this confusing, obscure, and negative way than by any other sensible or distinct way. The former is devoid of creatures and more proper to God; as for the latter, on the contrary, as much as it depends on creatures, so much the less does it have hold of God.

Robert P. Baird. Miguel de Molinos: The Spiritual Guide (Classics of Western Spirituality) (Kindle Locations 689-691). Kindle Edition.

All of this hinges on this Prayer of Quiet, that Interior Recollection that quietens the anxious spirit and empowers it to claim rightful affinity with its Unborn-Self. Hence, the soul actually becomes that quietude and calmness that it finds in the “repose of contemplation”, this after exhausting all former discursive meditations and forever now resting in that gentle repose of exclusive intention on the Divine Itself. By and large, then, this supernal Prayer of Quiet is all about entering within oneself, devoid of all outside disturbances, and resting in the serene peace and quiet THAT IS the Absolute Nature of the Unborn and hence finding spiritual repose in Eternal Delight.

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