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Interior life, exterior conquests
It was mentioned on a previous post, “The secret of the Kingdom…”, regarding Mysticism in 16th century Spain, that it was more “extroverted” as compared to what had been the case in the previous two centuries.
Certainly, it is natural to the person who has a mystical experiences in prayer to live it interiorly, in the depths of his being. His intelligence, his heart and his will seem to be perfectly aligned with the divine Love and Presence.
The “extroversion” consists in that at a greater scale than before, the mystical experiences prompt the Saints who enjoy them to “come out”, to be “outgoing” and to directly undertake action in their society, influencing this way their contemporaries in their own space, so to speak, i.e. where they are and work and live.
Teresa of Avila is an example of an active woman of God who ceaselessly traveled whenever she deemed it necessary in order to accomplish her mission. The same applies to Saint John of the Cross, who with Teresa reformed the Carmelite Order.
There is,as well, Saint Ignatius de Loyola, who visited many European cities and reached as far as the Holy Land. The Order he founded, the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), went to the ends of the earth. naturally, the new conditions that were rapidly taking form in the 16th century played an important part, as it shall be seen below.
In the 14th and 15th centuries a mystical religious movement developed, which initially spread along the Rhine, from Switzerland to Strasbourg, Cologne and the Netherlands. The emphasis is into encouraging an intense personal relation with Christ and a deep inner life where prayer and worship are of paramount importance.
The veneration and worship of the Most Holy Sacrament occupy first place in the life of the faithful. Thomas a Kempis (1380-1471) best represents this current. He is the author of the “Imitation of Christ” (1418). With the help of the invention of the movable characters in printing the influence of this movement significantly increased.
The 15th century may be considered the “bridge” between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, on the one hand, and the early Modern Times.
It is a period of significant discoveries and great inventions.
Constantinople is conquered by the Ottoman Turks and its fall marks the final dissolution of the Eastern Roman Empire, (Byzantine Empire), after a brilliant existence of more than a thousand years.
The Portuguese achieve the first ever circumnavigation of the African continent, form West to East (1441) and, almost simultaneously, the American continent is discovered (1492).
In China the “Forbidden City” is built, i.e. the Imperial Palaces in Beijing, (1420), and in Korea the Hangul alphabet is invented, which remains in use even today (1446).
In Europe, Gutenberg invents the mobile printing characters which revolutionize the speed and the spread of knowledge and information, Spain is unified (1469) and in England the “War of the Roses” ravages the land (1455-1485).
New Universities spring up like the University of Saint Andrews in Scotland (1413) and the Catholic University of Louvain in nowadays Belgium (1425), as well as the famous Eton College in England (1440).
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