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An Old Monk Thinks About Happiness

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  Guy the Carthusian is the author of the Scala Claustralium, our main source for what is called the lectio divina which the Catholic Catechism presents as the way of reading the Scriptures.  I have on several occassions written about the lectio divina from the Augustinian perspective, but Guy the Carthusian’s book remains a classic on the matter.  Below is a portion of the Scala Claustralium which I have translated from the latin text:


In reading, I hear these words: Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God. (Mt. 5:8)” Behold a brief sentence but full of multiple resonances and sweetness offered like a bunch of grapes for the nourishment of the soul. After having considered it and observed it, the soul says to itself: “There may be something good in here; I shall enter into my heart and I shall try to see whether I will be able to understand and discover this purity (munditia). Truly, it is something precious and desirable, praised in many passages of the Scriptures; whoever possesses it is considered blessed and to him is offered the promise of the vision of God, i.e. eternal life.”

It is not said:   Blessed are the pure of body, but of heart, since it is not enough that the hands are not stained with bad actions if our spirit is not purified from crooked thoughts. This is confirmed by the prophet with his authority when he says: “Who can go up the mountain of the Lord? Who can stand in his holy place? He who has innocent hands and a pure heart. (Ps. 24 [23]: 3-4a)” And again (the soul) considers how much the prophet regards this purity of heart when he prays thus: “Create in me, O God, a pure heart; (Ps. 51 [50]: 12)” and again “Let the Lord not hear me if I see iniquity in my heart (Ps. 66[65]:18)”. Reflect how Job was attentive to the custody of the heart when he said: “I have made a pact with my eyes that I shall not look at a young girl (Job 31:1).” Behold what violence this holy man did to himself when he would close his eyes so as not to see vanity so that he would not imprudently lay his sight on that which, while not willing it, he would have desired.

After having considered this and other similar things about the purity of heart, (I am led to) think about the prize, that is, how much glory and how much joy is given to those who see the much longed for face of the Lord (Ps. 24:6), the most beautiful among the sons of men (Ps. 45:2), no longer rejected and scorned, and without that appearance which his mother has clothed it, but already reclothed with that mantle of immortality and crowned with the diadem with which the Father has crowned him on the day (Ps. 2:7) — – on that day which the Lord made (Ps. 118:24) — the day of the resurrection and glory. I think that in this vision, that satiety of which the prophet speaks shall be realized: “I shall be satisfied when your glory shall become manifest! (Ps. 17[16]: 15b)”

From Guy the Carthusian, Scala Claustralium (translated and adapted by myself for this page).

Originally posted 2005-01-19 05:05:42. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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