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

SECTION A Letter to All the Faithful 1

The beginning of the letter of the Abbot Joachim. Brother Joachim called Abbot of Fiore advises all Christ's faithful whom this letter reaches to watch and pray so that they do not enter into temptation ( Matt. 26:41). When the Lord spoke to the prophet Ezechiel whom he set up as a watchman over the house of Israel at the time of the removal to Babylon, 2 after he commanded him to write down many things he warned him: "If I say to a wicked man 'You will surely die,' and you do not make it known to him, he will indeed die in his iniquity, but I will require his blood from your hand" ( Ezech. 3:18). Since what at that time was entrusted to one person in particular, in these days holds for all who seem to have received more information than others, by a common law everyone is bound to render an account of the function he has received.

The abbot writes. This is how it looked to me in the case of the divine plan I seem to understand in the true scriptures, especially since some monks have most urgently advised me that I have an obligation not to keep silent about the wrath of the Judge so soon to be revealed from heaven upon all the wickedness and injustice of men who are unwilling to do penance for their sins. If I am permitted to speak out to urge and excite hearts to be on guard I do not hesitate to say with the Apostle Paul, "I am innocent of the blood of all of you" ( Acts 20:26). For some time I wished to cast anchor in the harbor of silence in deference to my priors, so as not to seem to stir up scandal or bickering in Christ's Church, especially because of those who run about more than others shouting, "Thus saith the Lord," when He has not commissioned them. But now: "Hear, O young men, and pay heed, you old men" ( Joel 1:2). I will not speak in riddles so that you cannot understand because of the depth of the obscure speech, but I will both openly declare what happened from our fathers' days and

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