Friday, October 13, 2006

Interesting: Byzantine Stigmatists?

Here's an interesting tidbit I came across while looking for something else. Bp. KALLISTOS draws another similarity between East and West in the much-debated matter of stigmata:
It is sometimes said, and with a certain truth, that bodily transfiguration by divine light corresponds, among Orthodox saints, to the receiving of the stigmata among western saints. We must now, however, draw too absolute a contrast in this matter. Instances of bodily glorification are found in the [W]est, for example, in the case of an Englishwoman, Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941): a friend records how on one occasion her face could be seen transfigured with light (the whole account recalls Saint Seraphim: see The Letters of Evelyn Underhill, edited by Charles Williams, Lonedon, 1943, p. 37). Similarly, in the [E]ast stimatization is not unknown: in the Coptic life of Saint Macarius of Egypt, it is said that a cherub appeared to him, "took the measure of his chest," and "crucified him on the earth."
Ware, Fr. Timothy. The Orthodox Church. (NY: Penguin Books, 1963), pp. 238-9. (fn).



Blogger JGurrea said...

I'm not exactly an expert at this (um, I have no stigmata on my hands or feet), but I don't think the problem is the actual marks, just the method of prayer and mysticism that brought them on.

If God is going to send His little light rays and pierce my hands, well, so be it. I think the problem arises when one engages in highyl emotional devotions full of sentimentalism and actively seeking out of mental images to "meditate on". As far as I've been told, these practices in prayer are a bad idea regardless of whether they result in stigmata.

Not that all post-schism Western Spirituality is like that! I have read a few Western accounts that are very pragmatic and "hesychastic" in tone. I particularly love Thomas A Kempis' "Imitation of Christ" (which I am currently using in my nightly devotions... for the third time). There is just soemthing about overly weepy/sappy Counter-reformed devotions and prayers that as well as something in the very "visual" devotions (like the Ignatian method) that kind of creep me out.

I think that is part of the reason I like some of the Anglo-Catholic stuff I've seen mcuh more than the Tridentine Roman stuff. No Ignatian method and tacky sacramentals. Just say the prayers and talk to God in the Mass and the Divine Office. Very Orthodox if you ask me.

1:13 PM  
Blogger Ben Johnson said...

Yes, certain medieval devotions are not my cup of tea, either. Office-and-Mass Catholicism should be the basis of life -- then add on as many additional devotions as are compatible with your obligations, IMHO.

God bless,

10:31 PM  

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