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Ruusbroec, Jordaens, and Herp on the Common Life: The Transformation of a Spiritual Ideal

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Chapter Summary

Towards the end of the second book of Espousals, Ruusbroec reminds his readers that 'enjoyment and activity constitute the blessedness of Christ and all his saints'. This is one of the many places in which he expresses one of the distinguishing features of the medieval spirituality of the Low Countries, namely, the spiritual ideal in which activity and rest are in perfect harmony with one another. Ruusbroec's 'common life' is perhaps the best known exponent of this ideal. Willem Jordaens retains the notion of the common life. In author's view Hendrik Herp failed to do full justice to a quintessential aspect of Ruusbroec's mystical theology: he does not adopt Ruusbroec's notion of regiratio of the Holy Spirit and how it grounds his ideal of the common life, which is probably why later French and Spanish authors do not adopt this important aspect of Ruusbroec's doctrine either.

Keywords: common life; Espousals; Hendrik Herp; Ruusbroec's mystical theology; Spiritual Ideal; Willem Jordaens



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