Thursday, July 8, 2004

Christian Heritage - July 8 - The Empty Spirit

"The most powerful prayer, and almost the strongest of all to obtain everything, and the most honorable of all works, is that which proceeds from an empty spirit. The emptier the spirit, the more is the prayer and the work mighty, worthy, profitable, praiseworthy, and perfect. The empty spirit can do everything.

"What is an empty spirit? An empty spirit is one that is confused by nothing, attached to nothing, has not attached its best to any fixed way of acting, and has no concern whatever in anything for its own gain, for it is all sunk deep down into God's dearest will and has forsaken its own. A person can never perform any work, however humble, without it gaining strength and power from this.

"We ought to pray so powerfully that we should like to put our every member and strength, our two eyes and ears, mouth, heart, and all our senses to work; and we should not give up until we find that we wish to be one with him who is present to us and whom we entreat, namely God."

Meister Eckhart (AD 1260-1327), Meister Eckhart, The Essential Sermons, Commentaries, Treatises, and Defense, Classics of Western Spirituality, Edmund Colledge, O.S.A., and Bernard McGinn, Paulist Press, 1981, 294

Regarded as a Dominican master of theology, Eckhart used daring paradox to make people aware of the limitations of the human mind. His extreme apophatism had a large influence on Martin Luther (AD 1483-1546) in his exploration of theologia crucis, theology of the Cross, according to which our greatest blessing and strongest assurance of God's love is found precisely in not feeling any such blessedness or assurance. Zoinks.

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