(This biographical section comes from “The Spiritual Guide” by Michael Molinos. It can be obtained through SeedSowers Publishing, 4003 North Liberty Street, Jacksonville, FL 32206 – Tel: 1-800-228-2665 – www.SeedSowers.com )
In the midst of all the scandalous rumors and electric excitement, a bombshell went off. The city of Rome was officially informed that Molinos had confessed he was a heretic … and that he had recanted. There was also released the ominous and damning statement that “he had also confessed other sins.” To date, what those sins were has never been revealed. Further, Rome was now informed, the Inquisition had found Molinos guilty of heresy, and he had been officially sentenced to life imprisonment. Again, strong evidence there was no substance to the charges of immorality. Had they been true he would certainly have received the death penalty. This, as far as I can ascertain, was the first public knowledge that Molinos had been tried in court!
You can get some idea of how much the mind of the public had been re-programmed toward Molinos, and how much this life was still public topic number one, in this footnote: On the day Molinos recanted, every church in Rome rang its bells at the news. It was a day of jubilation for everyone.
What were the conditions of his recantation? Many felt he had been tortured. Others felt he was obeying his own belief that all men should submit to the church in whatever the church called for. There is no question about this: Molinos would have submitted to anything the church finally decreed, no matter what the conditions.
On the 28thday of August, 1687, an official decree was posted by the Inquisition declaring Molinos guilty of “having taught Godless doctrines and of having practiced them.”
Included in this proclamation were 68 propositions stating that Molinos’ teachings were “heretical, blasphemous, offensive to pious ears, insolent, and dangerous to the destruction of Christian morality,” but never – to my knowledge – did they every specify anything. All public statements ever released about Molinos were couched in vague generalities.
Not only did the Inquisition not give specific explanations, but it was clear it did not wish to do so. Was the Inquisition ashamed to let Christendom know the basis on which it drew its conclusions? One historian observed that everything which was publicly and officially said about Molinos was mild, and lacked enough weight to brand him a heretic or justify life imprisonment.
But on that fateful day of August 28, 1687, no one thought of such matters. Once the charges against Molinos were officially made public all copies of the Spiritual Guide – once officially acclaimed by the Inquisition – were ordered burned. Anyone found possessing anythingby Molinos would be automatically excommunicated from the church.
Had Molinos really been on the verge of a great reformation movement within the Roman Catholic church? Had such a reform happened would the people of the Roman church, along with its clergy, have been brought into a deeper walk with their professed Lord? We will never know. The torch was so successfully put to this movement that 300 years later the question is unanswerable. The system had once again triumphed over liberty, the heart, and realms unseen.
What followed is one of those moments of history that is a caricature – almost a comedy – of justice.
The Inquisition set aside a day to make itself look good, look legitimate, and most of all, look powerful. It was decided that Molinos’ renunciation of his heresy would be officially celebrated, with all the pomp of which the church was capable. (And it was capable of a great deal.) September 23 was set aside for this grand occasion.
Can you believe that the church issued a proclamation stating that any person attending this auspicious ceremony would be given 15 years of indulgences! With that a crowd of mammoth proportions was guaranteed!
The ceremony was held at a church called Santa Maria Sopraminerva. The recantation was to be made out in full view of the waiting multitude.
On the appointed day cardinals and bishops, members of the holy office, royalty (including princes), ambassadors and their ladies came … along with Rome’s tens of thousands of ordinary people. So great was the throng that for a time the vaunted Swiss Guard seemed incapable of containing it. In the melee a number of persons were injured.
At the same time during that day Molinos was given his last meal before imprisonment. The Vatican could afford to be gracious; we are told that it was a luxurious repast.
At some high moment of the celebration Molinos was dramatically led before the expectant mass. Molinos, 65, stood before them dignified and melancholy. Attired in the garment of the penitent, his shackled hands held a burning torch. He was conducted to a platform facing the cardinals and the tribunal. Around him were the ladies and the nobility, the priests, seminarians, and prelates. Someone mounted the pulpit and read aloud the charges against him; the reading took several hours. The crowd, we are told, became so incensed at hearing all that was charged against him that they began accompanying the reading with the cry, “To the flames! To the flames!”
Ah, we Christians do have a flair for persecuting one another!!
Following the reading came the pronouncement of judgement – Molinos was to be sentenced to life imprisonment. Within that lonely cell, the judgment continued; he was commanded to recite the Apostles’ Creed, once daily; twice each day he was to recite the rosary; three times a week he was to fast. Confession was to be four times a year. As to the receiving of the sacraments, this was a decision left to his confessor.
After the reading of the judgement Molinos knelt down and formally renounced his heresy. He then signed a formal statement to the same effect, turned and received absolution from the commissary of the Pope.
At last, the thing was over.
(Taken from “The Spiritual Guide” by Michael Molinos)
God loves not the believer who does the most, nor who feels the most, nor who thinks the most cleverly and best, nor even that one who shows the greatest love, but He loves him who suffers the most.
I am aware that in telling you that a deeper prayer is a prayer that does not depend on outward senses nor on those things which are pleasing to our natural man, that we are speaking of something that requires the martyrdom of some parts of us. But, please remember, we are also speaking of something that pleases the Lord.
When there is no emotional experience nor intellectual insight into His way, the enemy may suggest to you that God has not spoken. But your Lord is not impressed with a multitude of words. He is impressed with the purity of the intent of your heart. He wishes to see the inward part of you humbled, quiet, and totally surrendered to Him and to His will, whatever it may be. You may not find emotions to produce such a relationship, but you will find a door by which you will enter into your nothingness and His all.
There are those people who havebegun a practice of collecting their inmost being but turned away from it almost immediately because they did not find any pleasurein it! There was no sense of God, there was no power, there was no sense of being pleased with their own thought, or being impressed with the way they formed their words and sentences to God. Actually all of these approaches to God are nothing but a hunt for sensible pleasures. This, to God, is but self-love and seeking after self. It is really not a seeking after God at all.
It is necessarythat you suffer a little pain and a little dryness. Without thinking about how much time you have lost or what other losses you have sustained, come to the Lord with reverence, paying no attention to dryness and sterility. You will find eternal reward.
The more your outward man delights in some sort of pleasure in prayer, the less delight there is in the Lord. But the less you care for the outward thrills of spiritual things … ah, hereis something which delights the Lord.
EDITORIAL NOTE: There are two more sections to the biography of Michael Molinos. He was brought up in Spain to the Catholic priesthood. As a Spanish professor in theology, he had an exact knowledge of St. John of the Cross -- and St. Theresa of Avila, leading figures in the Contemplative Movement. He not only understood the way of the Interior Life and the Prayer of the Heart, but he experienced and practiced it.
He moved to Rome and became a friend and mentor of Cardinals and high people – even the Pope! He wrote “The Spiritual Guide” by request, so that many more people could profit from his life and teachings. It was translated into all the major languages of Europe, and at one time 20,000 in one city of Italy followed his example and teachings.
It was jealousy that led the Inquisition and Jesuits to seek a way to cut his growing popularity and effectiveness.
At the same time in France Madame Guyon and Fenelon were exciting the fear and opposition of these same parties. Madame Guyon was imprisoned for 10 years, part of that time in the Bastille. She wrote many books, but “Experiencing God through Prayer” probably helped countless numbers on the same level as did “The Spiritual Guide” by Molinos.
“It is Madame, because you seek without what is within. Accustom yourself to seek God in your heart, for you shall there find Him.” These words addressed to Madame Guyon by a Franciscan monk dramatically changed the direction of her frustrating life. From an early age she began to realize the words of Jesus to be true -–that the Kingdom of God is within you!
Truly God is Transcendent – but He is also Immanent. From the viewpoint of experience, we need to be immersed by Jesus in the Holy Spirit, by which we are in Him, and He in us. A bottle without a cork thrown into the ocean is an example of what God desires for us!
To read the list of names and movements influenced dramatically by the writings of Madame Guyon is like reading a book of “Who’s Who!”
If you are living an “exterior life” as a believer, and sense an emptiness, a frustration, a deep unfulfilled hunger and a feeling of frustration – try dipping into the writings of Madame Guyon, Fenelon and Michael Molinos. If you receive and persevere with these friends as mentors – you will in the end marvel at the change you experience.
May this be the blessing for your life in 2002! - J.A.W.
Sunday evening begins the 8 days of Hanukkah. Though it is not a Bible-decreed holiday and Feast; yet Jesus was present at this Feast of Lights in John 10.
We join with our Jewish friends in this delightful time of rejoicing at the memory of the Maccabees – and the extraordinary courage and miracles of their day in the few centuries preceding Christ’s coming.
Then on December 24thand 25ththe Christian world remembers that “Jesus is the Reason for the Season!” How would God like the birth of His Son to be celebrated? First of all, the Bible does not openly come out with the exact day of His birth! Amazing, isn’t it? The reason is that Jesus was born to die – and then after His Resurrection and Ascension – to return to Reign!
He is the only Founder of a religion who is alive today! Mohammed is dead. Buddha is dead. Confucius is dead! But Jesus is alive and lives forever more as King of kings and Lord of lords. The day will soon come when every human being will bow his knee before Him and acknowledge Him as God’s only begotten Son, who has been with God the Father from eternity past. That cannot be said of any other religion.
There is no other book like our Bible. You can see human endeavor in every other holy book except the Bible of 66 books in the Christian faith and 51 for believing Jews.
So – JESUS is the Reason for the Season! Let Him by His Holy Spirit, the Other Comforter, and the Promise of the Father – possess your heart and mine at this Season of the Year. This will provide the doorway whereby we can then get the most out of such writers as Madame Guyon, Fenelon and Michael Molinos.
Both Marie and I with our congregation join with you in wishing for you -- fulfillment of the above. Jim and Marie Watt