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Preaching a Practical Spirituality – A Sermon by Johannes Tauler (14th Century, published in 1515/16)

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Let us speak a bit about the first two loves:

For the wounded love we can take a parable: The one who is wounded by love is like a merchant who sails a ship for profit: his heart is wounded by the desire to collect many things; he scratches together something here and collects as much as he can there to fill his ship. This is what the wounded one does: He collects all the images and thoughts and practices that he can to please the one that he loves. And when the ship is laden, he casts off. He is still able to sail the ship against the storm. And so it is with the wounded love: They launch their ship into the storm of divinity and sail along gaily, playing with the storm as they want, until they throw the oars into the bottomless sea, and the more they draw the divine effluence in, the more expansive it becomes, and this greater receptivity is filled, and this completion creates new receptivity and new breadth, and creates new wounds of love.

But then the Lord slashes the rigging of the ship in two, and lets the ship speed into the storm: now there is neither rudder nor oar with which to keep the ship on course. Then one is no longer able to control his own path; that is captive love.

Then he is like a knight gravely wounded in battle. He wants to run away as long as he can, but if he is captured, he loses control over his fate. He can control neither his thoughts nor deeds. He has to abandon himself to this lover and love itself.

Much remains to be said about this love. That will hopefully happen later. May the eternal Love help us to leave behind our cisterns and fill us with the waters of true love. Amen.

Source of original German text: Johannes Tauler, Die Predigten Taulers, edited by Ferdinand Vetter. Berlin, 1910, pp. 285-90.

Translation: Ellen Yutzy Glebe

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