Christian meditation
A woman praying on Candlemas Day, by Marianne Stokes, 1901.

Christian meditation is a form of prayer in which a structured attempt is made to get in touch with and deliberately reflect upon the revelations of God.[1] The word meditation comes from the Latin word meditārī, which has a range of meanings including to reflect on, to study and to practice. Christian meditation is the process of deliberately focusing on specific thoughts (such as a bible passage) and reflecting on their meaning in the context of the love of God.[2]

Christian meditation aims to heighten the personal relationship based on the love of God that marks Christian communion.[3][4] It is the middle level in a broad three stage characterization of prayer: it involves more reflection than first level vocal prayer, but is more structured than the multiple layers of contemplation in Christianity.[5]

In Aspects of Christian meditation, the Holy See warned of potential incompatibilities in mixing Christian and non-Christian styles of meditation.[6] In 2003, in A Christian reflection on the New Age the Vatican announced that "the Church avoids any concept that is close to those of the New Age".[7][8][9]

Contents

Context and structure

Christian meditation involves looking back on Jesus' life, thanksgiving and adoration of God for his action in sending the Son for salvation.[10] In her book The Interior Castle (Mansions 6, Chapter 7) Saint Teresa of Avila defined Christian meditation as follows:

"By meditation I mean prolonged reasoning with the understanding, in this way. We begin by thinking of the favor which God bestowed upon us by giving us His only Son; and we do not stop there but proceed to consider the mysteries of His whole glorious life."[11]

Quoting the Gospel of Matthew[11:27]: "No one knows the Father but only the Son and anyone whom the Son wants to reveal him" and I Corinthians[2:12]: "But we have received the Spirit who is from God so that we may realize what God has freely given us", theologian Hans von Balthasar explained the context of Christian meditation as follows:

"The dimensions of Christian meditation develop from God's having completed his self-revelation in two directions: Speaking out of his own, and speaking as a man, through his Son, disclosing the depths of man.... And this meditation can take place only where the revealing man, God's Son, Jesus Christ, reveals God as his Father: in the Holy Spirit of God, so we may join in probing God's depths, which only God's Spirit probes."[12]

Building on that theme, E. P. Clowney explained that three dimensions of Christian meditation are crucial, not merely for showing its distinctiveness, but for guiding its practice. The first is that Christian meditation is grounded in the Bible. Because the God of the Bible is a personal God who speaks in words of revelation, Christian meditation responds to this revelation and focuses on it, unlike mystic meditations which use mantras to block thought and erase concepts. The second distinctive mark of Christian meditation is that it responds to the love of God, as in I John [4:19]: "We love, for he first loved us". The personal relationship based on the love of God that marks Christian communion is thus heightened in Christian meditation. The third dimension is that the revelations of the Bible and the love of God lead to the worship of God: making Christian meditation an exercise in praise.[3]

Thomas Merton characterized the goal of Christian meditation as follows: "The true end of Christian meditation is practically the same as the end of liturgical prayer and the reception of the sacraments: a deeper union by grace and charity with the Incarnate Word, who is the only Mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ."[13] While Protestants view salvation in terms of faith and grace alone (i.e. sola fide and sola gratia) both Western and Eastern Christians see a role for meditation on the path to salvation and redemption.[14] Apostle Paul stated in Epistle to the Romans 9:16 that salvation only comes from "God that hath mercy".[15] The path to salvation in Christian meditation is not one of give and take, and the aim of meditation is to bring joy to the heart of God. The Word of God directs meditations to show the two aspects of love that please God: obedience and adoration. The initiative in Christian salvation is with God, and one does not meditate or love God to gain his favor.[16]

The role of the Holy Spirit

In Western Christian teachings, meditation involves the inherent action of the Holy Spirit which helps the meditating Christian understand the deeper meanings of the Word of God.[17][18] In the 12th century, decades before Guigo II's the Ladder of the Monk, one of his predecessors, Guigo I emphasized this belief by stating that when earnest meditation begins, the Holy Spirit enters the soul of the meditator, "turns water into wine", and shows the path towards contemplation and a better understanding of God.[19]

In the 19th century, Charles Spurgeon affirmed this belief within the Protestant tradition and wrote: "The Spirit has taught us in meditation to ponder its message, to put aside, if we will, the responsibility of preparing the message we've got to give. Just trust God for that.[20] In the 20th century, Hans Urs von Balthasar paraphrased this teaching as follows:[18]

The vistas of God's Word unfold to the meditating Christian solely through the gift of the Divine Spirit. How could we understand what is within God and is disclosed to us except through the Spirit of God who is communicated to us?

As a biblical basis for this teaching, von Balthasar referred to Colossians 1:15-16: "these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God".:[18]

Distinction from non-Christian meditations

Christian meditation is different from the style of meditations performed in Eastern religions (such as Buddhism) or in the context of the New Age.[3][4][21][22][23] While other types of meditation may suggest approaches to disengage the mind, Christian meditation aims to fill the mind with thoughts related to Biblical passages or Christian devotions.[24] Although some mystics in both the Western and Eastern churches have associated feelings of ecstasy with meditation, (e.g. St. Teresa of Avila's legendary meditative ecstasy),[25][26] St. Gregory of Sinai, one of the originators of Hesychasm, stated that the goal of Christian meditation is "seeking guidance from the Holy Spirit, beyond the minor phenomenon of ecstasy".[27]

Modern Christian teachings on meditation at times include specific criticism of the transcendental styles of meditation, e.g. John Bertram Phillips stated that Christian meditation involves the action of the Holy Spirit on Biblical passages and warned of approaches that "disengage the mind" from scripture.[28] According to Edmund P. Clowney, Christian meditation contrasts with cosmic styles of oriental meditation as radically as the portrayal of God the Father in the Bible contrasts with discussions of Krishna or Brahman in Indian teachings.[21] Unlike eastern meditations, most styles of Christian meditations are intended to stimulate thought and deepen meaning. Christian meditation aims to heighten the personal relationship based on the love of God that marks Christian communion.[3][4] According to E. P. Clowney it is the search for wisdom, not ecstasy, that marks the path of Christian meditation, a wisdom sought in the "Christ of Scripture and the Scripture of Christ".[29]

A 1989 document generally known as Aspects of Christian meditation set forth the position of the Holy See with respect to the differences between Christian and eastern styles of meditation. The document, issued as a letter to all Catholic bishops, stresses the differences between Christian and eastern meditative approaches. It warns of the dangers of attempting to mix Christian meditation with eastern approaches since that could be both confusing and misleading, and may result in the loss of the essential Christocentric nature of Christian meditation.[30][31][32] The letter warned that euphoric states obtained through Eastern meditation should not be confused with prayer or assumed to be signs of the presence of God, a state that should always result in loving service to others. Without these truths, the letter said, meditation, which should be a flight from the self, can degenerate into a form of self-absorption.[33]

Old Testament references

In the Old Testament, there are two Hebrew words for meditation: hāgâ (Hebrew: הגה‎), which means to sigh or murmur, but also to meditate, and sîḥâ (Hebrew: שיחה‎), which means to muse, or rehearse in one's mind. When the Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek, hāgâ became the Greek melete which emphasized meditation's movement in the depth of the human heart. Melete was a reminder that one should never let meditation be a formality. The Latin Bible then translated hāgâ/melete into meditatio.[34]

The Bible mentions meditate or meditation about twenty times, fifteen times in the Book of Psalms alone. When the Bible mentions meditation, it often mentions obedience in the next breath. An example is the Book of Joshua[Joshua 1:8]: "Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night."[35]

History

The history and origins of Christan meditation have been intertwined with that of monastic life, both in the East and the West. By the 4th century, groups of Christians, who came to be called the Desert Fathers, had sought God in the deserts of Palestine and Egypt, and began to become an early model of monastic Christian life.[36][37] The tradition of a Christian life of "constant prayer" in a monastic setting began in this period.[37] In the 5th century, John Cassian described their life as prayerful and shaped by contemplation of God and Evagrius Ponticus wrote extensively on pure prayer and the Sayings of the Desert Fathers appeared thereafter.[36][37] The "prayer of fire" that emerged in this period, was said to have been driven by the love for God was to shape a life of meditation and contemplation in the East. However, these "desert meditations" are not equivalent to the modern methods of reflection and meditation. The desert monks gathered to hear scripture recited in public, and would then recite those words privately in their cells. For them meditation was a memorization and recitation of scripture, primarily as a verbal exercise.[36][37]

A monk walking in a Benedictine monastery.

Towards the end of the 4th century, Martin of Tours introduced monasticism to the West.[38] By the 6th century, the Rule of Saint Benedict included three elements: public prayer, manual labor and lectio divina.[36][39] The emergence of the Christian monastic tradition included the development of an austere and secluded lifestyle and practices that were intended to help meditation by freeing the mind from worldly matters, e.g. in his Rule for monastic life, Gregory the Great developed 12 steps towards asceticism based on abstinence and mortification of the flesh and search for humility.[40] In order to avoid worldly contamination by seculars (i.e. not monks or clergy) the Rule of Saint Benedict forbade a monk from eating with them unless the monk was so far away that he could not return to the monastery that day.[41] Due to its specific blending of spirituality with moderation and balance, the Benedictine Rule became widely used by the 10th century, and became the de facto standard for Western monastic life in the Middle Ages.[42]

After the 10th century, during the Byzantine Empire, the traditions of the Desert Fathers led to a style of life and prayer in the Eastern Church called hesychasm, developed particularly on Mount Athos in Greece. St. Gregory of Sinai is generally considered by most to be the founder of the hesychastic approach to prayer in early 14th century.[36][37] Although controveries appeared thereafter between Barlam and St. Gregory Palamas, hesychasm was eventually well established within Eastern Christianity, but never made significant inroads in the West.[37][43]

The practice of prayer had undergone very little change in the West from its origins until the 11th century, at which point a major change took place via the introduction of methods of meditation. Monasticism played a key role in bringing about this change, first to establish basic concepts about the forms of prayer, then introduce meditation and finally to emphasize that monastic prayer is inseparable from a specific "way of life".[39]

From the end of the 11th century two specific genres of literature for prayer appeared. The first was extensions of Augustinan forms of addressing God or oneself (e.g. his confessions or the Soliloquies). The "Meditations of St. Augustine" became a popular reading item. Saint Anselm composed "Meditations and Prayers" along similar lines, but it included no methodical elements and was simply a collection of material for Lectio Divina and the duration of the exercise was not specified.[39] The second genre an example of which was Hugh of Saint Victor, tried to put more structure into meditation that was then available within the monastic tradition.[39] Hugh wrote that there are three visions of the soul: "thinking, meditation and contemplation". Hugh aimed his meditations as a way towards contemplation of God."[36] The approach was further developed by Guigo II whose "Ladder of Monks" is considered a key text in the field. This second genre lead to methodical prayer, and approaches in which the imagination holds a strong place.[36][39]

St. John of the Cross taught the 4 stages of Guigo II as: "Seek in reading and you will find in meditation; knock in prayer and it will be opened to you in contemplation".[36]

Guigi II (the 9th Cartusian prior) went beyond the meditations of Guigo I (the 5th prior).[44] For Guigo II, reading scripture is an "encounter with the word of God", meditation is "seeking the hidden meaning of this word", prayer is "turning one's heart to God" and contemplation is when "the mind is lifted up to God and held above itself".[36]

By the 11th century Saint Anselm of Canterbury was producing meditative prayers, which however, still focused towards the monsatic traditions of Lectio Divina.[45] Anselm began his Proslogion by calling it a "short work on an example meditation on the meaning of faith", and the meditations in the Proslogion are intended to lead the reader to a contemplation of God.[36] Anselm's teachings, which greatly influenced the monastic meditation traditions of the Middle Ages were that meditation can lead to "seeing the face of God in contemplation".[36]

Guigo II's Ladder of the Monks may well be the first description of the "methodical prayer" in the mystical traditions of the west.[46] Gerard of Zutphen built on "Guigo's Ladder" to write his major work On Spiritual Ascents.[20] Zutphen warned against considered meditation without reading of scripture, and taught that the reading prepares the mind, so meditation will fall into error. Similarly, he taught that meditation prepares the mind for contemplation.[20] Zutphen's definition of meditation is generally considered the synthesis of medieval consensus on the topic of meditation:

Meditation is the process in which you deligently turn over in your heart whatever you have read or heard, earnestly reflecting upon it to enkindle your affection or enlighten your understanding.[20]

By the 14th century, the practice of meditation in the West had became more systematic as the arrival of devotio moderna in Germany and Holland introduced more structure into it through the writings of Geert Groote, Gerard of Zutphen and Jan Mombaer. By this time, the tradition of "methodical prayer" which arranged exercises day by day and week by week found significant following within the Catholic Church, as well as later Reformed communities.[45] In the 15th century, Ignatius of Loyola developed the technique in which the meditator enters the Biblical scene, e.g. begins a conversation with Jesus on the Cross in Calvary.[20] A similar idea had been developed by Ludolph of Saxony in his Vita Christi in 1374 in which the reader would make themselves present in the life of Jesus.[20]

The methods of "methodical prayer" as taught by the devotio moderna groups had entered Spain and were known in the early 16th century.[47] Teresa's contemporary and collaborator, John of the Cross continued the tradition of Guigo II and to teach the 4 stages of Lectio Divina. By the 19th century the importance of Biblical meditation had also been firmly established in the Protestant spiritual tradition.[20]

Approaches to meditation

A number of saints and historical figures have followed and presented specific approaches to Christian meditation.

St. Ignatius of Loyola

The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491–1556), the founder of the Jesuits, contain numerous meditative exercises. To this day, the Spiritual Exercises remain an integral part of the Novitiate training period of the Roman Catholic religious order of Jesuits.[48]

The exercises are intended as notes to guide a spiritual director who is leading someone else through an experience of Christian meditation. The entire experience takes about 30 days and often involves a daily interview with the director. The process begins with a consideration of the purpose of one's life and the relationship with the rest of creation. It is followed by a week of meditation about sin and its consequences. Next comes a period of meditating on the events of the life of Jesus, and another for thinking about his suffering and death. The final week is to experience the joy of the resurrection, and in conclusion to reflect on God's love and the response of love for God.[49]

The exercises often involve imagery in which one enters a biblical scene. For example, the practitioner is encouraged to visualize and meditate upon scenes from the life of Christ, at times asking questions from Christ on the cross, during crucifixion.[50]

St. Teresa of Avila

Saint Teresa of Avila depicted by Rubens, 1615. She is often considered one of the most important Christian mystics.[51]

St. Teresa of Ávila (1515–1582) a Doctor of the Church, practiced contemplative prayer for periods of one hour at a time, twice a day. St. Teresa believed that no one who was faithful to the practice of meditation could possibly lose his soul.[52] Her writings are viewed as fundamental teachings in Christian spirituality.[53][54]

St. Teresa taught her nuns to meditate on specific prayers. Her prayers described in The Way of Perfection involve meditation on a mystery in the life of Jesus and are based on the faith that "God is within", a truth that Teresa said she learned from St. Augustine.[55]

In her Life, she wrote that she taught herself from the instructions given in the book, The Third Spiritual Alphabet - by Francisco de Osuna - which relates to Franciscan mysticism.[56][57][58] Her starting point was the practice of "recollection", i.e. keeping the senses and the intellect in check and not allowing them to stray. In her meditations, one generally restricts attention to a single subject, principally the love of God. In The Way of Perfection she wrote: "It is called recollection because the soul collects together all the faculties and enters within itself to be with God".[59] She would use devices such as short readings, a scene of natural beauty or a religious statue or picture to remind her to keep her focus. She wrote that in due course, the mind naturally learns to maintain focus on God almost effortlessly.[60][61][62]

St. Theresa viewed Christian meditation as the first of four steps in achieving "union with God", and used the analogy of watering the garden. She compared basic meditation to watering a garden with a bucket, Recollection to the water wheel, Quiet (contemplation) to a spring of water and Union to drenching rain.[25]

St. Francis de Sales

Saint Francis de Sales (1576–1622) used a four part approach to Christian meditation based on "preparation", "consideration", "affections and resolutions" and "conclusions":[63]

  • In the preparation part, one places oneself in the presence of God and asks the Holy Spirit to direct the prayer, as in the Epistle to the Romans[8:26]: "The Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know what to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words."
  • In the consideration part, one focuses on a specific topic, e.g. a passage from the Bible.
  • In the affections and resolutions part, one focuses on feelings and makes a resolution or decision. For instance, when meditating on the Parable of the Good Samaritan one may decide to visit someone sick and be kind to them.
  • In the conclusion part, one gives thanks and praise to God for the considerations and asks for the grace to stand by the resolution.

20th century

From the 18th to the 20th century the non-discursive components of meditation began to be de-emphasized in some branches of Western Christianity. The non-discursive components or stages of meditative practice, which are often called "contemplation" in Western traditions, were beneficiaries of "a positive attitude toward contemplation [that] characterized the first fifteen centuries of the Christian era."[64]:145 But "a negative attitude has prevailed from the sixteenth century onward,"[64]:19 according to Thomas Keating, a Trappist monk and a primary modern expositor of the Christian meditative method of Centering Prayer. Keating attributes the emergence of a negative attitude towards contemplation to several factors, including the 17th century controversy over Quietism[64]:23 and an increasing tendency to distinguish between "discursive meditation if thoughts predominated; affective prayer if the emphasis was on acts of the will; and contemplation if graces infused by God were predominant.... This division of the development of prayer into compartmentalized units entirely separate from one another helped to further the... notion that contemplation was an extraordinary grace reserved to the few."[64]:21

Keating states that the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola are "extremely important in order to understand the present state of spirituality in the Roman Catholic Church," but that there has been a "tendency to reduce the Spiritual Exercises to a method of discursive meditation."[64]:22 According to Keating,

Three methods of prayer are proposed in the Spiritual Exercises.... discursive meditations prescribed for the first week... gazing upon a concrete object of the imagination: seeing the persons of the Gospel as if they were present... [is] prescribed for the second week.... The third method... is called the application of the five senses... [and] is designed to dispose beginners to contemplation in the traditional [pre-reformation] sense of the term.[64]:22

Chinnici, a historian of Roman Catholicism in the US, wrote in 1997 that "the contemplative style of prayer came to be exiled... in the contemporary Church, contemplative prayer has yet to find a secure place."[65]:16

The 20th century has also witnessed a new focus on Biblical meditation. These may be defined as: "the devotional practice of pondering the words of a verse or verses of Scripture with a receptive heart."[66] Modern Biblical meditations may be designed to relate and connect the Biblical message to the modern world.[67][68] Such Biblical meditations may correspond to specific seasons such as Lent with the meditation topic selected to interact with two or three readings of the Bible during weekdays or Sundays of Lent.[67] The meditation sequence may begin by a summary of the Bible reading, then suggest specific ideas for meditation, then conclude with an appropriat prayer.[67][68] Such meditations may also be designed not just for "strong seasons" such as Lent or Easter, but also for Ordinary Time.[69]

In the 20th century methods of Christian meditations have been taught using relatively new devotions such as the Divine Mercy devotion.[70]

Denominational issues

Catholic Church

Saint Padre Pio stated: "Through the study of books one seeks God; by meditation one finds him".[71]

Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274) said that meditation is necessary for devotion, and the Second Vatican Council called for "faithful meditation on God's word" as part of the spiritual formation of seminarians.[72]

Saint John of the Cross (1542–1591), a close friend of St. Teresa of Avila, viewed Christian meditation as a necessary step toward union with God, and wrote that even the most spiritually advanced persons always needed to regularly return to meditation.[73]

Saint Padre Pio (1887–1968), who was devoted to rosary meditations, said:[71]

"The person who meditates and turns his mind to God, who is the mirror of his soul, seeks to know his faults, tries to correct them, moderates his impulses, and puts his conscience in order."

The Catechism of the Catholic Church encourages meditation as a form of prayer: "Meditation is above all a quest. The mind seeks to understand the why and how of the Christian life, in order to adhere and respond to what the Lord is asking" (Catechism section # 2705) and that Christians owe it to themselves to develop the desire to meditate regularly (# 2707). Emphasizing union with God, it states: "Meditation engages thought, imagination, emotion, and desire. This mobilization of faculties is necessary in order to deepen our convictions of faith, prompt the conversion of our heart, and strengthen our will to follow Christ. Christian prayer tries above all to meditate on the mysteries of Christ, as in lectio divina or the rosary. This form of prayerful reflection is of great value, but Christian prayer should go further: to the knowledge of the love of the Lord Jesus, to union with him" (#2708).[74] Meditative prayer is different from contemplative prayer (See CCC 2709- 2724).

Eucharistic meditations

Eucharistic adoration and meditation, Cathedral of Chihuahua, Mexico.

Christian meditation performed along with Eucharistic adoration outside of Mass has been associated with a large amount of Catholic writings and inspirations specially since the 18th century. The Eucharistic meditations of the two Saints Pierre Julien Eymard and Jean Vianney (both promoters of the Eucharist) were published as books.[75][76][77]

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux was devoted to Eucharistic meditation and on February 26, 1895 shortly before she died wrote from memory and without a rough draft her poetic masterpiece "To Live by Love" which had composed during Eucharistic meditation.[78][79]

Significant portions of the writings of the Venerable Concepcion Cabrera de Armida were reported as having been based on her adorations of the Blessed Sacrament .[80] Similarly, in her book Eucharist: true jewel of eucharistic spirituality Maria Candida of the Eucharist (who was beatified by Pope John Paul II) wrote about her own personal experiences and reflections on eucharistic meditation.[81][82]

Rosary meditations

Meditation is an integral part of the rosary. This mode of meditation is the process of reflecting on the mysteries of the rosary. With practice, this may in time turn into contemplation on the mysteries.[83] The practice of meditation during the praying of repeated Hail Marys dates back to 15th century Carthusian monks, and was soon adopted by the Dominicans at large.[84] By the 16th century the practice of meditation during the rosary had spread across Europe, and the book Meditationi del Rosario della Gloriosa Maria Virgine (i.e. Meditations on the Rosary of the Glorious Virgin Mary) printed in 1569 for the rosary confraternity of Milan provided an individual meditation to accompany each bead or prayer.[85]

Saint Teresa of Avila's meditative approach of focusing on "the favor which God bestowed upon us by giving us His only Son" can be viewed as the basis of most scriptural rosary meditations.[11] In his 2002 encyclical Rosarium Virginis Mariae, Pope John Paul II placed the rosary at the very center of Christian spirituality.[86] Emphasizing that the final goal of Christian life is to be transformed, or "transfigured", into Christ he stated that the rosary helps believers come closer to Christ by contemplating Christ. He stated that the rosary unites us with Mary's own prayer, who, in the presence of God, prays with us and for us.[87] and stated that: "To recite the rosary is nothing other than to contemplate with Mary the face of Christ."[88]

Eastern Christianity

During the Byzantine Empire, between the 10th and 14th centuries, a tradition of prayer called hesychasm developed, particularly on Mount Athos in Greece, and continues to the present. St. Gregory of Sinai is considered by most to be the founder of the hesychastic approach to prayer.[89] Having been, perhaps, influenced by Indian approaches,[dubious ] this tradition uses a special posture and breathing rituals, accompanied by the repetition of a short prayer (traditionally the 'Jesus Prayer'). "While some might compare it [hesychastic prayer] with a mantra, to use the Jesus Prayer in such a fashion is to violate its purpose. One is never to treat it as a string of syllables for which the 'surface' meaning is secondary. Likewise, hollow repetition is considered to be worthless (or even spiritually damaging) in the hesychast tradition."[90] This style of prayer was at first opposed as heretical by Barlam in Calabria, but was defended by Saint Gregory Palamas.[43][91] Coming from hesychia ("stillness, rest, quiet, silence"), hesychasm continues to be practiced in the Eastern Orthodox Church and some other Eastern Churches of the Byzantine Rite.[92] Hesychasm has not gained significance in the Western churches.[93][94]

In hesychasm the Jesus prayer, consisting of the phrase: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me" is repeated either for a set period of time or a set number of times. Hesychasm is contrasted with the more mental or imaginative forms of Christian meditation in which a person is encouraged to imagine or think of events from the life of Jesus or sayings from the Gospel. Sometimes hesychasm has been compared to the meditative techniques of oriental religions and it is possible that there were interactions between Hesychasts and Sufis, but this has not been proven.[95]

See also

Notes

A series of articles on
Christian mysticism

Mystic Marriage.jpg

Articles
Aspects of meditationChristian meditationContemplative prayerHesychasmMystical theology • Reflection on the New Age

Early period
Gregory of NyssaBernard of Clairvaux • Guigo II

13th and 14th centuries
Francis of AssisiDominic de GuzmánBonaventureCatherine of Siena

15th and 16th centuries
Ignatius of Loyola • Francisco de Osuna • John of AvilaTeresa of AvilaJohn of the Cross

17th and 18th centuries
Francis de SalesPierre de Bérulle

19th century
Therese of LisieuxGemma GalganiConchita de Armida

20th century
Maria ValtortaFaustina KowalskaThomas Merton

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  38. ^ Western Civilization: Beyond Boundaries by Thomas Noble 2008 ISBN 0618834230 page 193
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  85. ^ Music in the collective experience in sixteenth-century Milan by Christine Suzanne Getz, 2006 ISBN 0754651215 page 261
  86. ^ The Rosary with John Paul II by George Madore, 2004, Alba House, ISBN 2894205457 page 18
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  91. ^ The last centuries of Byzantium, 1261-1453 by Donald MacGillivray Nicol 2008 ISBN 0521439914 page 211
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