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About this commemoration
Richard Rolle was an English hermit about whose early life we know little. At the age of 18 he gave up his studies at Oxford for the ascetic life out of which grew a ministry of prayer, writing, and spiritual direction. Rolle lived his final years near the Cistercian convent near Hampole. Among his chief writings are several scriptural commentaries, some theological writings originally written in Latin and translated into English, and many poems. Though criticized by many for promoting a highly subjective form of religion, he was an ardent defender of the contemplative life he practiced.
Similarly, we know little of the early life of Walter Hilton, though evidence suggests that he studied at Cambridge. Hilton spent time as a hermit before becoming an Augustinian canon at Thurgarton Priory in Nottinghamshire late in the fourteenth century. In his great work, The Scale of Perfection, he develops his understanding of the “luminous
darkness” which marks the transition between self-love and the love of God. Similarities between his work and The Cloud of Unknowing have convinced some to attribute that latter work to him. Hilton’s spirituality and writings were highly influential on figures such as Anselm of Canterbury.
Margery Kempe, who wrote the book bearing her name, and from which we attain most of our knowledge of her, was a mystic who experienced intense visions followed by a period of emotional disturbance, subsequent to which she went on pilgrimage to Canterbury. She later made pilgrimages to the Holy Land and to Santiago de Compostela and was encouraged in her efforts by Julian of Norwich. She describes these travels as well as her mystical experiences in the Book of Margery Kempe. In it, she describes long periods of consciousness of and communion with Jesus, experiences that developed in her deep compassion of the sins of humanity.
Gracious God, we offer thanks for the lives and work of Richard Rolle, Walter Hilton, and Margery Kempe, hermits and mystics, who, passing through the cloud of unknowing, beheld thy glory. Help us, after their examples, to see thee more clearly and love thee more dearly, in the Name of Jesus Christ our Savior; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Gracious God, we give you thanks for the lives and work of Richard Rolle, Walter Hilton, and Margery Kempe, hermits and mystics, who, passing through the cloud of unknowing, beheld your glory. Help us, after their examples, to see you more clearly and love you more dearly, in the Name of Jesus Christ our Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Preface of a Saint (3)
Text From Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.
We invite your reflections about this commemoration and its suitability for the official calendar and worship of The Episcopal Church. How did this person’s life witness to the Gospel? How does this person inspire us in Christian life today?
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