...Not that I would have cared to live in the Middle Ages - any age before penicillin, indoor plumbing, and readily available books would have been unsuited to me. But I believe that one (even as eclectic as I) can be very deeply religious, but still free, seeing God in all, and loving and enjoying every part of life.
Some years back, the title "When Things Were Rotten" was applied to a spoof of the medieval period. If one considers such gems as the Plague, disease, corruption within the government and ecclesiastical hierarchy, and so forth, that tag is quite apt! Nonetheless, medieval man, though just as "weak" as those who preceded and followed him, had a deep consciousness of God. The awareness of the divine which he displayed ranged from the inspirational - to the superstitious - to the charming. The last mentioned is seen in how the Gospels were "amplified" by the common folks' passing along knowledge of many a homely incident from the lives of the Holy Family.
This site is unashamedly and frankly idealistic. I have selected the best and most positive aspects of medieval thought, as a celebration of the loving awareness of God and the delightful, earthy humour that enchants me. I am well aware that the apocrypha were as often used to manipulate as to edify, that the astrologers frequently were the sort of con merchants described by Chaucer rather than those in awe of divine power, and so forth. Yet reality must not be restricted to the "practical" and the sober. The other side of the medieval coin - imagination, awareness of God, delightfully earthy humour- is the realm where the unicorn romped and the griffin guarded the cathedral.
Francis of Assisi, who saw the virtues as the lords and ladies of his great King's household, was a true gentleman, with an earthy side. He exhorted his first friars to always emphasize the positive, rather than reducing what should be the joys of worship to the drudgery of negativity or fear.
In Francis's day, when the Church was in turbulent years and its hierarchy often fell short of Christian goals (...as if history would prove there was any time that this was not the case!), it was common for preachers to condemn heresy and other errors. This approach did not appeal to Francis, who believed that stressing the nobility of virtue and true love would win the hearts of others, that they may know the "Great King" who delighted his own heart.
Francis was no "plaster saint"! His courtliness of thought did not cancel his earthy nature. He once told a friar, who was troubled by diabolical temptations, to say to the devil, "Open your mouth and I will... "...Let's just say that the pious Luke Wadding, one of Francis's devoted, English biographers, changed this Italian phrase to "one only has to say dung to him."
Francis's writings could fill a volume, but this sample can give you a picture of the heart of the wealthy, extravagant youth whose first great stride was in embracing the leper:
"Almighty, eternal, just and merciful God, grant us.. that we may do for your sake alone what we know you want us to do, and always want what pleases you; so that, cleansed and enlightened interiorly and fired with the ardour of the Holy Spirit, we may be able to follow in the footsteps of your Son...and so make our way to you, Most High, by your grace alone.."<>I have often had the joy of visiting the shrine of Julian of Norwich, an anchorite who described God's providence in terms of great love. Julian, as a recluse, depended upon others for sustenance. Mankind was no more saintly then than now, but the medieval awareness of greater powers than (ahem!) "getting out of life what you put into it" led others to grasp that Julian fulfilled two very important roles - that few would understand today. She worshipped God for His own sake, and returned Divine Love both through this action and that of dedicating herself to praying for others. Today, Julian's life would probably be seen as "selfish", since we cannot see that divine love sparks our desire for its Source. (We'd probably think Julian had self hatred that lead her to be enclosed - God help us!) Few are suited to enclosure, yet all can realise that our brief time on earth is only a preparation for the next life, when we will be united to Perfect Love and Joy. Those whom Divine Providence has ordained should live a totally contemplative life do not flee from the world, but rather embrace it totally, in love. >
Here are a few words from Julian's writings:
My introduction, for newcomers:
Some of what I enjoy, in case you are interested: literature, whether the treasures of Chaucer, Milton, C.S. Lewis, Shakespeare, and Dickens, or the lighter fare of Maeve Binchy or Lewis Carroll. I even read kids' books for my own entertainment. I love classic theology, medieval and renaissance culture, calligraphy, interior decorating, dinosaurs, and music (both classical and 1960s rock).
My favourite city is London, but I've yet to see a European capital that didn't please me. I enjoy theatre, and once was an operatic singer. Other pleasures of mine are gin and lime, gourmet cooking, Grand Marnier, cappuccino, Benson and Hedges smokes, aromatherapy, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Bob Dylan, Monty Python, long fuchsia fingernails with nail art, Middle English, Chanel cosmetics, Cuban cigars, Earl Grey tea, tie dye velvets and batik, LaPrairie skin care products, highlighted hair (not the type that barely shows), and all cats...especially my little Mirielle. I love good conversations and laughter most of all.
I dislike "political correctness", housework, obsessions with health and fitness, amateur psychology, the popular trend toward parroting headlines rather than developing personal views, meddlers and busybodies, puritanical attitudes towards religion, frumpy clothing, conservative politics, and the "work ethic."
I am an INFJ in my Meyer-Briggs classification. Kingdomality determined that my ideal occupation during the Middle Ages would have been a "dreamer minstrel" - true, though I've yet to see a "want ad" for one in this century. I'm a four/artist according to the enneagram. As far as astrology goes, I'm a double Capricorn with a Pisces moon, which makes for a creative and deep thinker who is often in the pits and who can earn a doctorate in humanities but can't find her way out of a paper bag if you give her the directions. (Having dispensed with this, I shall add: take heed, those in youth! See the nonsense with which the fruits of the post-War baby boom spent their time, and stick with the gospels, Augustine, Francesco, Julian, and the rest... it will save you much time later!)
and be happy! Serve the Lord with gladness - and God give you
Many blessings!- Gloriana
Text for all pages
by Elizabeth G. Melillo, Ph.D.
Graphic images that are not of my own design were acquired elsewhere on the Web and any copyright would be held by the original author.