Spiritual accompaniment is not only a practice but also a field of research, because the concrete processes of realization in people being accompanied and in texts that are read mutually clarify one another. God’s workings are not limited by eras or regions, nor are they tied to a social or cultural context or linguistic skills.
Accessibility of mystical texts
The intensive practice of spiritual accompaniment is a continual occasion for reflection on the essence of this practice and on the processes of realization that the persons being accompanied go through. The intensity of the experience of being moved by God and the intangibility of this process in particular are a continuous topic of research.
The mystical heritage of the monastic life, of Carmel, but also of mystical authors from northern countries such as Dag Hammarskjöld and Søren Kierkegaard are alternately subjects of research. This alternation yields insight into the essence of the mystical love, as I argued on the basis of Beatrice of Nazareth in a talk during a conference in Nijmegen in 2019.
To translate is to think along
Eastern Orthodox Church
Jean de Saint-Samson
A personal word
What is essential for the study of spirituality and mysticism is first of all to expose the function of the personal encounter with the Word of God. This applies both to the written word in Scripture and to the word that is inscribed in the total reality of the person, the community, nature, and the universe.
Search for this word
This research aims to show how this encounter with the Word of God is the fundamental starting point of the spiritual and mystical processes of realization in past and present, as they have been recorded in texts or come to light in interviews. The encounter with the word is also the premise that serves as the point of departure for dialogue in spiritual accompaniment.
The encounter with Love
The path of Minne
The path of pure love
Due to the growing anti-mystical movement after 1650, at this time his mystical texts were published in an adapted or “corrected” form. For this reason, it is of great importance to provide a critical edition of his texts: Oeuvres Complètes (1992, 1993, 2000, 2020), as well as editions in modern languages (French, English, Italian, Dutch …). Work is also being done on writing mystical commentaries on these texts, to make them more accessible. We are in touch with a number of young scholars who are working on dissertations on Jean.
Kierkegaard as mystic
The Dark Night
After a series of articles about his texts, and the important and sizable book Being Seen in God, in English and Dutch, work is now being done on an exceedingly important theme in the writings of Kierkegaard: spiritual trial. This, after all, greatly resembles the classic mystical theme of the Dark Night in John of the Cross. After a substantial scholarly article, the time has now come for a book, again in English and Dutch.
A mystically gifted diplomat
Philosopher and mystic
When the Catholic University or Radboud University Nijmegen was founded in 1923, Brandsma was appointed as professor of philosophy. Besides the contacts that he had with the Jesuits in 1925 when the Ruusbroec Fellowship was established in Antwerp, as well as the journal Ons Geestelijk Erf, he was also given responsibility for the Institute for the History of Dutch Mysticism within the Faculty of Arts in Nijmegen, where he built up a small library and did a great deal of research into the unknown manuscripts. Particularly in his regular column in the newspaper De Gelderlander, he turned out to be a mystagogue who was able to to spark an interest in mystical texts in a wide audience.
Love as center
Mysticism of today
It is striking how many spiritual and mystical texts turn up in inheritances left behind after death. This sometimes leads to the question on the part of the next of kin whether “this text” or “this notebook” should be kept and perhaps made fruitful for others. Often these turn out to be pearls, written by people of whom no one suspected this during their life. Being moved by God apparently continues to be an undiminished and living reality, despite the secularization of society.