Friday, August 23, 2013

Beguines Continue to Inspire

Maria Roja, Associate of Wisdom
Participating in Dr. Elizabeth Dreyer's session on "The Beguines: In Their Own Words" on July 27 at Wisdom House was an enlightening experience.

Our group engaged in a Close Reading of selected texts from three 13th century Beguines (laywomen/mystics):  Mechthild of Magdeburg, Hadewijch of Brabant, and Marguerite Porete. 

This was a first such experience for me... wherein we slowly read the selections, shared our impressions of their writings, and attempted to discern the meaning beyond the words. This was no easy task given their creative writing styles, unique language, and the highly oppressive cultural limitations imposed upon them... plus the challenge of putting ourselves aside in the process. Under Dr. Dreyer's expert guidance and facilitation, the experience was fun, energizing and most enlightening.

I found myself intrigued by and drawn to the writings of Marguerite Porete, who, according to Dr. Dreyer, was the most radical of the three authors. I admired her courage, self-confidence, and the depth of her mysticism and inner authority.  Her writings stretched and challenged me towards growth beyond where I'm at now. She was a "free" spirit and her love for and commitment to God was unquestionably total and she wanted to share that with others

Marguerite wrote in one section of her book about the "freeness of charity." She wrote, "... at this stage of spiritual growth one is unencumbered from all things."  Many of us strive for this!

For more information about Marguerite Porete, see "Marguerite Porete, The Mirror of Simple Souls,"  Paulist Press series, " Classics of Western Spirituality."

For information about the Associates of Wisdom, contact Maria Roja at