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Saint of the Day – 2 December – Blessed John van Ruysbroeck

Saint of the Day – 2 December – Blessed John van Ruysbroeck – Priest, Hermit, Mystic, Spiritual Director and Spirtual Writer – born in c 1293 near Brussels, Belgium and died on 2 December 1381 at Groenendael, Belgium, of natural causes.   Known as John  “the Admirable” , “the Ecstatic Doctor, “the Divine Doctor.”Blessed John Ruysbroeck

John van Ruysbroeck was a Flemish mystical writer who greatly influenced mystical teaching in the late Middle Ages and whose name is associated with the religious renewal in the Lowlands that also produced, The Imitation of Christ.   He was born near Brussels in 1293 and was raised by a devout mother who trained him in a life of holiness.
At the age of eleven, he went to Brussels to live with an uncle, John Hinckaert, a priest and canon of St Gudule’s.   John studied for the priesthood and was ordained in 1317. Under his uncle’s roof he continued to live a life of retirement and study and began the writings that were to be the basis of his spiritual teaching: The Spiritual Espousals, The Kingdom of Lovers, and The Tabernacle.

Together with his uncle and another canon, Francis van Coudenberg, Blessed John Ruysbroeck withdrew to a hermitage near Soignes for a life of greater solitude and a number of disciples joined them.   They decided to inaugurate a formal religious institute and adopted the rule of the canons of St Victor.   John was made the prior of the new institute.x-ruysbr2

This period, from his religious profession (1349) to his death (1381), was the most active and fruitful of Ruysbroeck’s career.   During this time, his fame as a man of God, as a sublime contemplative and a skilled director of souls, spread beyond the bounds of Flanders and Brabant to Holland, Germany and France.   He had relations with the nearby Carthusian house at Herne and also with several communities of Poor Clare Franciscans.

Excellent writings continued to come forth from his pen: The Book of the Sparkling Stone, The Little Book of Enlightenment, and The Book of the Twelve Beguines.   Literally, Ruysbroeck wrote as the spirit moved him.   He loved to wander and meditate in the solitude of the forest adjoining the cloister;  he was accustomed to carry a tablet with him and on this to jot down his thoughts as he felt inspired so to do.   Late in life he was able to declare that he had never committed anything to writing save by the motion of the Holy Spirit.

John Ruysbroeck’s writings are considered classics of spirituality, anticipating the writings of St John of the Cross in their clarity and doctrine.   He strongly opposed the quietist tendencies of many of his contemporaries.   His solid theological background and his ability to make clear the sure path of spiritual progress gave him a wide reading and his books are lucid commentaries on the Augustinian doctrine of the life of grace.

For several years before his death, John lived in a small cell, just outside the cloister of his monastery.   In his eighty-eighth year, he asked to be taken to the community infirmary, where he prepared himself for death.   He died on 2 December1381.

After John’s death in 1381, his relics were carefully preserved and his memory honoured as that of a saint. Many of his spiritual children called him the  “the Admirable”, Ecstatic Doctor or Divine Doctor.

When Groenendaal Priory was suppressed by Joseph II in 1783, his relics were transferred to St Gudule’s, Brussels, where, however, they were lost during the French Revolution.   John was Beatified on 1 December 1908, by St Pope Pius X.10-francs-1981-jan-van-ruusbroec_74_0510440474168ef05L

No authentic portrait of John is known to exist but the traditional picture represents him in the canonical habit, seated in the forest with his writing tablet on his knee, as he was in fact found one day by the brethren—rapt in ecstasy and enveloped in flames, which encircle without consuming the tree under which he is resting.

Author:

Passionate Catholic. Being Catholic is a way of life - a love affair both with God and Father, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, our most Blessed and Beloved Virgin Mother Mary and the Church. "Religion must be like the air we breathe..."- St John Bosco With the Saints, we "serve the Lord with one consent and serve the Lord with one pure language, not indeed to draw them forth from their secure dwelling-places, not superstitiously to honour them, or wilfully to rely on the, ... but silently to contemplate them for edification, thereby encouraging our faith, enlivening our patience..." Blessed John Henry Newman Prayer is what the world needs combined with the example of our lives which testify to the Light of Christ. This site will mainly concentrate on Daily Prayers, Novenas and the Memorials and Feast Days of our friends in Heaven, the Saints who went before us and the great blessings the Church provides in our Catholic Monthly Devotions. "For the saints are sent to us by God as so many sermons. We do not use them, it is they who move us and lead us, to where we had not expected to go.” Charles Cardinal Journet (1891-1975) This site adheres to the Catholic Church and all her teachings but rejects the Second Vatican Council as heretical and, therefore, all that followed it.

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