|Published online: August 22, 2014||$US5.00|
In the 12th Century, Western Christianity made a huge shift in its traditional roots and its ascetic tendencies towards the body and sexuality. This shift is characterized by Bernard McGinn in The Flowering of Mysticism: Men and Women in the New Mysticism, as the “new mysticism” of the Middle Ages. The shift had, as one of its main characteristics, a leaning towards an “affective spirituality” which incorporated a spirituality that was very emotional, sensual, maternal, and erotic, as opposed to traditional spirituality, which was more intellectual and speculative. According to McGinn, male and female mystics both used the language of the new mysticism. At the core of this affective spirituality, medieval female mystics centered around the practice of Imitatio Christi, which focused on the body and suffering via Christ’s suffering. Medieval female mystical believers found spiritual benefits from voluntarily administering physical pain through emotional and corporeal suffering via the Passion of Christ. For them, pain represented a reward in heaven that is measured by the intensity of the suffering and violence of their worship; pain reinforces the marriage bond between Christ and the believer. Moreover, spiritual marriage is grounded and expressed in the secular husband and wife relationship, which is not gained without “noble” suffering. This paper will explore these ideas via the Pain in Imitatio Christi; Suffering in Love and Painful Death; Marital Imagery and Desire; and Medieval Society’s Influence on Mystical Spirituality. Furthermore, what is significant is that the connection between spiritual marriage and the secular husband and wife relationship might suggest that pain and violent suffering reinforce and/or represent cultural attitudes about marital relationships and love (secular or spiritual), and the interplay between religion and medieval society, which is not gained without redemptive suffering.
|Keywords:||Redemptive Pain, Redemptive Suffering, Love, Marriage, Spiritual Love, Spiritual Marriage, Passion of Christ, Mysticism, Gender and Sexuality|
The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society, Volume 4, Issue 2, August 2014, pp.39-53. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: August 22, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 589.015KB)).
Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, Department of English and Communication, SUNY, Potsdam, New York, USA