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    What Two Medieval Nuns Can Teach Us about Love

    The life histories of Margaret of Oingt and Beatrice of Nazareth are mostly unknown, but their mystical writings have stood the test of time.

    By Margaret of Oingt and Beatrice of Nazareth

    May 22, 2022

    Margaret of Oingt

    By the grace of our Lord, this creature had written into her heart the holy life that Jesus Christ had led on earth, his good examples and his good teachings. She had put sweet Jesus Christ so firmly into her heart that it sometimes seemed to her that he was present and that he held a closed book in his hand. … When she was not expecting it, it seemed to her that the book opened itself: until then, she had only seen it from the outside. …

    The saints will be within their Creator as the fish within the sea: they will drink as much as they want, without getting tired and without diminishing the amount of water. The saints will be just like that, for they will drink and eat the great sweetness of God. And the more they will get, the greater their hunger will be. This sweetness cannot decrease any more or less than can the water of the sea. For just as the rivers all come out of the sea and go back to it, so it is for the beauty and sweetness of Our Lord: although they flow everywhere, they always return to him. And for that reason they can never grow smaller.

    Even if the saints did nothing but think of his great goodness, they could never completely imagine the great charity in virtue of which the good Lord sent his blessed son to earth.

    Now think that in him there are also other goods. He is all one can imagine or desire in all the saints. And this is the inscription that was written on the first clasp of the book: “God will be everything to everyone.”

    On the second clasp was written: “Mirabilis Deus in sanctis suis,” God is marvelous in his saints.

    Margaret of Oingt, The Writings of Margaret of Oingt, trans. Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski (Cambridge, UK: D. S. Brewer, 1990).

    fishing boats anchored near the water's edge under a sunset sky

    Photograph by Mick Haupt

    Beatrice of Nazareth

    Love has taught the soul to travel Love’s paths, and the soul has followed them faithfully, often in great labor and with many kinds of work, in much longing and vehement desire, in many kinds of impatience and great sadness, in weal and woe and in much pain, in seeking and in asking, in lacking and possessing, in climbing and remaining suspended, in following and striving, in need and distress, in fear and in cares, in languor and in ruin, in great faithfulness and much unfaithfulness, in joys and in sorrows, and thus the soul is prepared to suffer. It wills to love both in life and in death; it suffers many pains in its heart, and it longs to attain the fatherland for the sake of Love.

    After all these things have befallen the soul in this exile, its whole refuge lies in glory. For this is truly love’s work, to desire what is supremely best, and to pursue that state in which it can love the most. Therefore the soul always wills to follow Love, to know Love, and to have fruition of Love – something which cannot happen to it in exile. Therefore the soul wants to proceed to the fatherland where it has built its home and directed its whole desire, and where it rests in love, for it well knows that there every impediment will be removed from it and that it will be received with love by its beloved. There it will gaze with eagerness upon what it has so tenderly loved, and it will possess for its own blessedness him whom it has faithfully served, and it will with full delight have fruition of him whom it has often embraced in the soul with love.

    There it will enter into the joy of its Lord, as Saint Augustine says: “He who enters into you, enters into the joy of his Lord” etc., and he will not fear. In him who is all perfection he shall have all perfection.

    There the soul is united to its bridegroom, and is wholly made one spirit with him in inseparable faithfulness and eternal love. Having worshipped him in the time of grace, it will have fruition of him in eternal glory where there will be no activity save praising and loving. May God lead us all there. Amen.

    Beatrice of Nazareth, The Life of Beatrice of Nazareth, trans. Roger DeGanck (Cistercian Publications, 1991), pp. 289–331.

    Contributed By

    Beatrice of Nazareth (ca. 1200–1268) was a Dutch mystic and Cistercian Nun. Margaret of Oingt (ca. 1240–1310) was a French mystic and Carthusian Nun.

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