Apocalyptic Spirituality: Treatises and Letters of Lactantius, Adso of Montier-En-Der, Joachim of Fiore, the Franciscan Spirituals, Savonarola

By Bernard McGinn | Go to book overview

SELECTION B Letter to the Abbot of Valdona 1

Brother Joachim wishes the venerable Abbot who by God's grace is Lord of Valdona 2 an abundance of the power of God's love.

The true knowledge approved in Christ's sermons is that which is experienced in a vision by the spirit of piety and not that which is seen in bodily form by the eyes of the flesh. The bearer of this letter is Brother Al. of your monastery who came here and told me how your friendship, based solely on God and your own goodness, cherishes my lowliness. With complete trust in my ability he urged me in the heart of Christ ( Phil. 1:8) to write something to your friendship, as if I were in debt to the love that shines out in you. Instead of displaying gratitude, I should thus appear to be someone who pays back grudgingly and ungratefully. He forced this letter from me rather than received it. This is not because I disdain requests, or, heaven forbid, despise them in my pride, but because a little later on, through the agency of the same brother, I was not able to "sing a song of Sion" ( Ps. 136:3) within the borders of Babylon. 3 I should prefer to write these things to a friend caught in the toils of the Great Whore in order that they might forestall rejoicing. 4 Rather than the "song of Sion," we ought to cry out, "By the waters of Babylon there we sat and wept" ( Ps. 136:1).

It is almost evening. We have been brought to the sunset of this life. For an hour we must put up with weeping so that in the morning we may find joy ( Ps. 29:5). Now is the time for the elect to weep over the imminent destruction of that youngest Babylon lest perchance we share in her sins and be forced to partake of her punishments, as if we did not have the letter Thau written on our foreheads ( Ezech. 9:4-6; Apoc. 7:4) and were not able to avoid her threatening destruction. 5 "Behold, the day of the Lord is coming; it is a cruel day, one full of shame, a day of wrath and fury that will make the earth waste and wipe out sinners" ( Isa. 13:9).

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