Questions on the Meditationes Vitae Christi

Questions on “The Logistics of Access to Divinity: Meditationes Vitae Christi”

 

  1. What was the impact of the Meditationes on the visual arts?

 

  1. How is God conceived in the Meditationes? Christ?

 

  1. How does the text encourage an experiential knowledge of Christ?

 

  1. What does the author mean by “incarnational stylistics?”

 

  1. Discuss the role of imagination in the spiritual life of a late medieval person.

 

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6 responses

  1. I think a straight line can be drawn from the Meditationes to the rise of Andachtsbilder. The Meditationes focuses on intense, singular moments from Christ’s life that are often apocryphal, rather than biblical. Andachtsbild present the same kind of intense moments in a visual form.

  2. As Worth argues in this article, the Meditationes described God as a loving deity and emphasized Christ’s humanity, thereby making these deities more approachable and accessible to humans. By reducing the division between humanity and the divine, meditants could more easily identify with these figures. The use of “incarnational stylistics,” syntactical constructs that emphasized the dual nature of Christ, however, prevented the Meditationes from privileging the humanity of Christ over his divinity. The Meditationes encouraged the use of imagination by the meditant whereby he/she envisioned him/herself with Christ in various scenarios. It was the use of imagination that allowed for an experiential knowledge of Christ. Imagination, therefore, grew in importance within the spiritual life of the late Medieval Christian, also attested to by the increase in the number of mystics, the circulation of meditations, and the experiences of St. Francis.

  3. Imagination plays an important role in the spiritual life of a medieval person. It helps them form a more human and personal relationship with Christ by evoking emotions like pity and humility through picturing detailed scenes, like Christ being stripped and beaten (44). Imagination also is important to activities we discussed last class, like plays and pilgrimages. Plays would be likely to evoke an emotional response, especially if they were particularly captivating. Pilgrimages would become more meaningful when people imagined events that had transpired at particular locations as they visited them. Even if imagined events are not “real,” the emotions associated with them are. So, when a meditant imagines visiting Christ as a boy and promising to follow him, the emotions experienced could continue and impact the meditant’s real life (42-43). Art can be a tool to facilitate imagination, so it would make sense for it to have a relationship with the Meditationes. Viewing an image could lead to more concrete emotional connection with a particular figure, place, or event.

  4. Exactly! We will continue to probe how experiential these meditative processes were—for mystics they were a 10, what were they for the pious laity? How visceral was the effect of a Passion play? In other words, is meditation a bodily function?!

  5. The Meditationes Vitae Christi inspired experiential understanding of Christ’s life because the writings focused on imagining oneself conversing, traveling, and living with Jesus throughout his life. Worth states on page 41 that distance between the reader/meditator and God was a constant theme. These two concepts, distance from and experiential/imaginative understanding of Jesus’s life and circumstances resonate deeply with Jung’s article as well, and I think that this will lead to some interesting discussions in class!

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