Jun 20 – Mercy & the Dark Night of the Soul

SONY DSC
-Maria Medingen Monastery, southern Germany, please click on the image for greater detail.

“Everything in [Jesus Christ] speaks of mercy. Nothing in Him is devoid of compassion.”
-Pope Francis, Misericordiae Vultus, §8

From the Revelations of Bl. Margaret Ebner, OP: Blessed Margaret Ebner, OP (1291-✝ 1351) was a Dominican nun at Kloster Maria Medingen (Mary, the Mother of Jesus Monastery), Germany, and a prominent figure among the Rhineland mystics. Her aunt, Christina Ebner, was also a Dominican nun and mystic. In addition to an account of her spiritual experiences, Bl. Margaret wrote a treatise on the Lord’s Prayer.

“[During the night], before matins, my Lord Jesus Christ placed me into such indescribable misery and a feeling of abandonment that it seemed as if I had never experienced the grace of our Lord in my whole life. I had lost complete trust in His mercy. Whatever I had received was taken from me totally. The true Christian faith—which is in me at all times—became darkened. And what was more painful to me than any previous suffering—worse too than any martyr’s death—was doubt. I began to doubt against my will and wondered whether He and His works were acting in me or not. Indeed, it remained for me only to want to suffer willingly, patiently for His sake. And that seemed right to me because of my sense of guilt. And then I felt an inner, deeper humility and out of these depths I cried out to the Lord and desired that He show me His mercy, which He had shown me so lovingly before, and to show me truly by some authentic sign whether it was He and His work acting in me.

Since His Spirit gives witness to our spirits that we are children of God, so my Lord is good and merciful and cannot ignore the desire of the poor and humble. He came like a friend after matins… and gave me His true help. This is the natural virtue of the Lord: to whomever He gives sorrow and pain, He then comforts. Whomever He afflicts, He then makes glad. And in His holy suffering He gave me the sweetest delight and the greatest pain and the most incomparably severe sorrow…. When that finally left me I was granted sweet grace and with this I recognized in truth without any doubt that it was He alone who worked His merciful deeds in me. What I had wished to know earlier in my suffering He now revealed.”

Born in Donauwörth, Swabia, in 1291, Margareta was a member of the aristocratic Ebner family and she received a thorough education in her home. In about 1305, she entered the Monastery of Mary the Mother of Jesus (German) of the Dominican Second Order nuns at Maria Medingen, near Dillingen.

From 1312 onward she was dangerously ill for three years. In her later Revelations she describes how she had “no control over herself”, laughing or crying continuously for days at a time. This illness was the stimulus for her conversion to a deeper mystical life of devotion. Subsequently, for a period of nearly seven years, she was mostly at the point of death. Even when she partially recovered, for the next thirteen years Margaret had to remain in bed for six months each year, and was subject to further bouts of illness for the rest of her life.  She could exercise her desire for penance and mortification only by abstinence from wine, fruit and bathing, which were considered some of the greatest pleasures of life in that era.

During this period of the Great Schism in the Catholic Church, when there were three different claimants to the papal throne, the nuns of the monastery were loyal adherents of the Pope in Rome. As a result, the community was forced to disperse during the military campaign of the Holy Roman Emperor Louis IV against papal forces. Margareta took refuge at her family home. Upon return, her nurse died, and Margaretha grieved inconsolably until the secular priest Henry of Nördlingen assumed her spiritual direction in 1332.

Eventually Master Henry had to flee Germany due to his personal allegiance to the Avignon Papacy. The correspondence that passed between them is the first collection of this kind in the German language. At his command, beginning during the Advent of 1344, she began to write with her own hand a full account of all her Revelations (German: Offenbarungeng) and her conversation with the Infant Jesus, as well as all answers she had received from Him, even in her sleep. From the intimate nature of her interaction with the Divine Child, she has become a leading example of what is termed “mother-mysticism”. She wrote her visions in the Swabian dialect.

This journal is preserved in a manuscript of the year 1353 at Medingen. She also had extensive correspondence with the noted Dominican theologian and preacher, Friar Johannes Tauler, OP. He was considered the leader of a lay spiritual movement known as the Friends of God. Through her connection with him, she has become identified as part of this movement. From her letters and diary we learn that she never abandoned her compassion for the Emperor Louis, whose soul she learned in a vision had been saved.

Blessed Margaret Ebner, OP was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 24 February 1979.

Love, and always praying for & receiving His Mercy!!!
Matthew

Leave a Reply