Volume 39, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2542-6583
  • E-ISSN: 2590-3268



‘If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple’ (Luke 14:26). Of all the uncomfortable words attributed to Jesus in the Gospels, these must be some of the most difficult to reconcile with his teaching of human worth and divine compassion, and many a sermon has been preached to mitigate the apparent harshness. Yet in the Christian mystical tradition we find teaching which seems to take these words of Jesus at face value as a model for the attitudes which the soul intent on perfection must adopt even toward its nearest and dearest. Teresa of Avila and Clare of Assisi are only two of the best known among the countless tales of young women fleeing secretly from their parental homes to take up a monastic vocation against their parents’ wishes. More worrying are stories like that of the twelfth century English woman, Christina of Markyate, who escaped from her bridal chamber on her wedding night to seek shelter with the hermit of St. Alban’s, protesting that married love was incompatible with her love for her heavenly bridegroom

1 Derek Baker, ed., , Studiesin Church History, Subsidia 1 (Blackwell, Oxford, 1978).

The frustrated young husband was eventually permitted to marry somebody else; but while that might help resolve the pity we would feel for him, it hardly resolves our disquiet at the idea that love for God is at odds with love for fellow humans.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error