Catholic Contemplative Affiliation

Contemplative Quotes

Posted March 16, 2019

From Cloud of Unknowing:
“Then, perhaps it will be to send out a ray of spiritual light, piercing the cloud of unknowing between you and him [God], and he will show you some of his secrets, of which man may not or cannot speak (2 Cor. 12:4).  Then you shall feel your affection all aflame with the fire of his love, far more than I know how to tell you, or may, or wish to at this time.  For I dare not take it upon me to speak with my babbling, fleshly tongue of the work that belongs to God alone.” (Ch. 22)

McGinn continues to comment:

“Here the cloud of unknowing becomes not a barrier but a medium through which God sends light, a light revealing something of his secrets and setting the affection aflame. Although the author rejects all human knowing in the attempt to find God in the cloud of unknowing, God’s action piercing the cloud contains both affective enkindling and supra-cognitive enlightenment, despite the fact that the author insists that he neither will and can speak of it: such knowing is incommunicable. Therefore, the “knowing by unknowing” (see chap. 70), as William Johnson points out, includes faith, love, wisdom.  It is founded on faith, directed by love, and at its summit may be granted a “dark wisdom” known only to the one who receives it.”

From McGinn, The History of Western Christian Mysticism The Presence of God….The Varieties of Vernacular Mysticism,  Vol. 5, p. 411.

Previous Post:

“The space of silence is wholly unlike the emptiness of chatter,  The jejune density of chatter and the ponderous openness of silence pass each other traveling in opposite directions.  The reward and condition of recollection is the mortification of chatter and fidgeting in the joy of tranquility.”

--William L. Brownsberger. Silence. Communio (P O Box 4557, Washington, DC. 20017), Winter 2009, XXXVI, 4, p. 595


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