Madam Guyon – a spiritual reading

Spiritual Readings - Lectio Divina

The Wikipedia article on one of the most well-known Christian Mystics begins as follows:

Jeanne-Marie Bouvier de la Motte-Guyon (commonly known as Madame Guyon) April 13 1648 – June 9 1717, ) was a French mystic and one of the key advocates of Quietism. Quietism was considered heretical by the Roman Catholic Church, and she was imprisoned from 1695 to 1703 after publishing a book on it A Short and Easy Method of Prayer.

Widowed at 28, and left with 3 children, she pursued the secrets of the mystical life, the secrets of which she had been initiated into by Père Lacombe.

The book we are to read here, A Short and Easy Method of Prayer, was inspired mostly by her own experiences. She distinguishes three kinds of prayer:

  1. The first is meditation.
  2. The second is the prayer of simplicity – keeping oneself in a state of recollection and silence in the presence of God.
  3. The third is active contemplation. The soul, conscious that God is taking possession of it, leaves Him to act and remains in repose, abandoning itself to the Divine effluence which fills it — powerless to ask anything for itself, since it has renounced all its own interests.

This last state is pure love, the desire and goal of true mysticism. In the Spiritual Torrents, and her commentaries on Holy Scripture, Madame Guyon presents the same ideas using slightly different images and forms.

Jeanne Guyon’s books were banned in 1688. However, in spite of her being a Roman Catholic, she won warm support among a number of Protestants also seeking spiritual reality in her time, and over whom she had great influence. Some of these we will read later.

I plan now to present to you A Short and Easy Method of Prayer in the following series of posts. Enjoy them as they appear. You should remain aware that the versions of the Bible to which Madame Guyon in 1685 had opportunity of access were not the same as theirs of to-day, and therefore oftentimes discrepancies apparently occur in her quotations from the Bible. Very often, too, she is quoting direct from the Vulgate.

The edition I am using was published in London by H. R. Allenson, Ltd., Racquet Court, 114 Fleet Street, and it is in the public domain.

Posts in this series:
Madame Guyon – A Spiritual Reading
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Preface
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 1
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 2
Madame Guyon – A Short and Easy Method of Prayer – Chapter 3

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