Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Action and Contemplation

Next, you ask me why you should put down such thoughts under the cloud of forgetting, since it is true that they are good of their kind, and when well received they do you so much good and greatly increase your devotion. My answer is that you must clearly understand that there are two kinds of lives in holy Church.

One is the active life, and the other is the contemplative life. The active life is the lower and the contemplative life is the higher. The active life has two degrees, a higher and a lower; and the contemplative life also have two degrees, lower and a higher. Further, these two lives are so joined, neither of them can be lived fully without having some part in the either. For the higher part of the active life is the same as the lower part of the contemplative life.
Hence a man cannot be fully active unless he is partly a contemplative, nor can he be fully contemplative here below unless he is in some way active. It is the nature of the active life both to be begun and ended in this life. Not so, however, of the contemplative life, which is begun in this life and shall last without end.

Chapter VIII
The Cloud of Unknowing

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