Mysticism and Greek monasticism
AbstractThere is reason to assert that Christian mysticism is as old as Christianity itself. In the Pauline epistles, e.g., there are obvious signs of this fact. The later Christian mysticism has, in a high degree, been inspired by these elements and likewise by various corresponding thoughts in the Johannine writings, which traditionally are interpreted from this angle and which have played a central role especially for the Orthodox Church.'In the light of the above-mentioned circumstances, it seems fully natural that there exists, from the very beginning, a clear connection also between mysticism and Christian monasticism. It has been pointed out by certain authors that the role of mystical visions is of essential and decisive significance also as regards the development from the stage of the hermits of the deserts to that form of life which, in the proper sense of the word, is characterised as monastic. There is, generally speaking, no possibility to understand correctly the intentions and the thoughts of the great pioneers of monasticism, unless one takes into account the mystically visionary factors. To this end it is necessary, furthermore, to penetrate in an inner, spiritual way, into the holy symbolism of the monastic tradition and into the sacred legends of its history. In other words, it is necessary to keep constantly in mind the visionary factor and to remember that the pioneers of monastic life, as a rule, are men of which it may be said that they have their conversation in heaven: on the mystical level of vision they converse with the angels as the representatives of the heavenly world and as those organs, by means of which the principles of monastic life are transmitted and given to the men of mystical visions.
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