BLTC Press Titles

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The Story of Doctor Dolittle

Hugh Lofting

Mortal Coils

Aldous Huxley

Esoteric Buddhism

A. P. Sinnett

Paradoxes of the Highest Science

Eliphas Levi

Golden thoughts from The spiritual guide

by Miguel de Molinos


could retire within himself and there hold s

fellowship with God in the temple He had fashioned for Himself.

Molinos taught nothing new, nothing which had not been taught by the mystics of St. Victor, by John Tauler or Henry Suso, by Theresa of Spain or Catherine of Siena. His own holy living, his disinterested piety, and his charm of manner, combined with the reaction against the brawling religion of the day, made his teaching seem to many almost a new revelation, to be received, cherished, and lived on. He became the centre of a great revival of spiritual religion, not only in Rome, but all over Roman Catholic Europe, and, like Meister Eckart in the fourteenth century, had his coteries of praying people whose devotional life he directed by correspondence.

In Rome his circle of friends and disciples included many of the leading nobles and most eminent ecclesiastics, and Pope Innocent XL, who would fain have made him a cardinal, took him, it is said, for some time to be his spiritual director. Bishop Burnet, in his famous letters from Italy, says, "The New Method of Molinos doth so much prevail at Naples that it is believed he hath above 20,000 followers in that city. He hath writ a book which is entitled II Guida Spirituale, which is a short abstract of the Mystical Divinity. The substance of the whole is reduced to this, that, in our prayers and other devotions, the best methods are to retire the mind from all gross images, and so to form an act of faith, and thereby to present ourselves before God, and then to sink into a silence and cessation of new acts, and to let God act upon us, and so to follow His conduct. This way he prefers to the multiplication of many new acts and other forms of devotion, and he makes small account of corporal austerities, and reduces all the exercises of religion to this simplicity of mind. He thinks this is not only to be proposed to

such as live in religious houses, but even to secular persons, and by this he hath proposed a great reformation in men's minds and manners. He hath many priests in Italy, but chiefly in Naples, who dispose those who confess themselves to them to follow his methods. The Jesuits have set themselves much against this conduct, as foreseeing it may weaken the empire that • superstition hath over the minds of the people, that it may make religion become a more plain and simple thing, and may also open the door to enthusiasms."

What Bishop Burnet writes is what really happened. The disciples of Molinos became noted for their exemplary lives; they were seen to become more devout, to live retired from the frivolity of the world, and to give themselves over to pious works of charity and brotherly sympathy; but they also were seen to be indifferent to those external ways of manifesting piety which the Romanist Church has always insisted

on. They seldom went to mass, they set small store by corporeal austerities, relics, image-worship, and pilgrimages; they spent little upon masses for the souls of deceased relations and friends; and, above all, they neglected the confessional. They did not deny any of the doctrines of the Church, they raised no cry for reformation, they were not tempted to break out into open revolution, and yet they displayed such passive resistance to the whole external machinery of the religious life of the Romanist Church, that had the movement been allowed to go on, the foundations on which the ecclesiastical system of that church rested might have insensibly crumbled away. The movement was a silent revolution, although it displayed no standard of revolt, and the keen eyes of the Jesuits soon discovered its meaning and to what end it was leading.

If God may be met in the silence of the believer's soul, where is there room for the priest, who, according to Romanist ideas, must always stand between the believer and God, and by his act take the hand of faith and lay it in the hand of Omnipotent Love and Power? If penitents do not need to leave their rooms to ask God for pardon and to receive it, what place is there for the confessional, with its profitable money perquisites, and its still more precious secrets? How was the Church, with its court, its cardinals, its army,to be paid and supported, and how could the policy of governments be guided by the priestly directors of kings and of queens, of ministers and of generals? The Jesuits saw that the edifice of Romanism, which they had patiently built up in more inexpugnable fashion than before on the ruins which the Reformation had left, was attacked a second time by a Mysticism not different from that of the fourteenth century, and they dreaded that the second movement might emancipate the Romance nations, as the first had set free

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