A Catholic Jew Pontificates

I love opinionated non-PC people. This blog is to vent my opinions on life, the universe and everything. Which is 42 which in gematria is "My Heart" (LBY) according to Rabbi Abulafia. The Divine Heart is the centre of everything.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

The First Resurrection and Rejuvenated Bodies


Some Catholics believe that there is an Intermediate Coming of Jesus which in Catholic tradition is also known as the Invisible or Hidden Coming of Jesus like a Thief in the Night (see Apoc.3:3; 6:15, Matt.24:43, 1 Thess. 5:2-4, 2 Peter 3:10). A number of saints such as St Bernard of Clairvaux speak about this coming which is between his First Coming in the Flesh and His second or Final Coming in the Flesh in Glory and Majesty (Apoc.1:7) at the end of history with the Final Coming of Christ. While the First and Final Comings are defined Catholic belief, the idea of the Intermediate Coming is open to speculation and discussion and is not definitive Catholic teaching. No Catholic has to believe in it at this stage of Catholic history. However, I do accept it as do many other Catholics.

This Intermediate Coming, is Jesus coming through apparition and through the revelation of his glory in the Eucharist. The reign of Christ during the Great Era of Peace is through the Eucharist revealed in splendour . It would be considered heresy to believe that Christ reigns in this period on earth physically as do many Protestants. However some Catholics have interpreted the idea of the First Resurrection in a manner that I think is incorrect They think that those people killed in the persecutions of the anti-Christ, will be resurrected or rejuvenated into their bodies and will live on earth during the Millennium or Era of Peace.

The verse in the Apocalypse (20:6) speaks about the 144,000 who will reign with Christ during the Millennium.  However, they do not reign on earth but they reign with Christ in heaven over the earth as priests who have received their resurrection bodies like Jesus, Mary and Joseph and some other saints. I believe that they are the 144,000 priests or celibate males who will be killed by the anti-Christ. The rest of the faithful will be resurrected at the end of history. It is of course possible that the 144,000 could be a symbol for all those killed under anti-Christ and that the priesthood is the priesthood of all believers. However, they will not be rejuvenated bodies who live on earth which idea is very close to that condemned in regard to Millennialism. 

Millennialism is that Christ and his saints will physically move to Jerusalem and rule over the earth during the 1000 years. This idea that is being proposed about rejuvenated bodies does take Christ back to Heaven but sees these latter day resurrected saints physically living and ruling on earth. If this idea isn't heresy it certainly is close to it (I leave the discernment up to the Magisterium and Pope). Of course even if the idea is heretical I would not hold the people who believe this as heretics as they sincerely desire to follow the Church's teaching even though they may have misunderstood this point.

The saints who live on earth during the millennium are not the martyred saints in rejuvenated bodies but those Catholics who survive the Chastisement and try to live in the Divine Will on earth as it is in Heaven. Catholics can speculate and hold many diverse views about prophecy and the end times events as long as they remain within the bounds of the Church's infallible and defined teachings. We should not get upset with those who hold different understandings than us in these matters. Of course Biblical teaching is authoritative but we must not think that our interpretation of a Scripture is authoritative on those issues which are still open to theological discussion and speculation. We certainly should not be self-appointed heresy-hunters looking for errors under every bush. If we feel some one is mistaken in their understanding we should lovingly give our opinion and pray for the one we think is mistaken. 

I personally see the first Coming as the revelation of the Messiah as the Son of Joseph and an ushering in of a special time of salvation and mercy for the Gentiles, in his intermediate Coming he will be revealed (especially to the Jewish people) as the Messiah Son of David which will usher in a special time of salvation and mercy for the Jews and of sanctification for both Jews and Gentiles in the One Body of the Messiah and in his final Coming as the Son of God to all peoples and the last chance for all to embrace his mercy before the Judgment. Thus this intermediate Coming of the Messiah is also referred to in the Catechism (see CCC 673-677) as the time when the Jews recognise Jesus as the Messiah and their full inclusion. Thus the Era of Peace or Millennium will be the time when the Torah will be written on the hearts of both the House of Judah (Jews) and the House of Israel (Church). This must occur before the final trial or Passover of the Church and the Final Antichrist (Gog and Magog).

St Bernard of Clairvaux:
We know that there are three comings of the Lord. The third lies between the other two. It is invisible, while the other two are visible.

In the first coming he was seen on earth, dwelling among men; he himself testifies that they saw him and hated him. In the final coming all flesh will see the salvation of our God, and they will look on him whom they pierced. The intermediate coming is a hidden one; in it only the elect see the Lord within their own selves, and they are saved. In his first coming our Lord came in our flesh and in our weakness; in this middle coming he comes in spirit and in power; in the final coming he will be seen in glory and majesty.

In case someone should think that what we say about this middle coming is sheer invention, listen to what our Lord himself says: If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him. There is another passage of Scripture which reads: He who fears God will do good, but something further has been said about the one who loves, that is, that he will keep God’s word. Where is God’s word to be kept? Obviously in the heart, as the prophet says: I have hidden your words in my heart, so that I may not sin against you.

Keep God’s word in this way. Let it enter into your very being, let it take possession of your desires and your whole way of life. Feed on goodness, and your soul will delight in its richness. Remember to eat your bread, or your heart will wither away. Fill your soul with richness and strength.

Because this coming lies between the other two, it is like a road on which we travel from the first coming to the last. In the first, Christ was our redemption; in the last, he will appear as our life; in this middle coming, he is our rest and consolation.

If you keep the word of God in this way, it will also keep you. The Son with the Father will come to you. The great Prophet who will build the new Jerusalem will come, the one who makes all things new. This coming will fulfill what is written: As we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, we shall also bear the likeness of the heavenly man. Just as Adam’s sin spread through all mankind and took hold of all, so Christ, who created and redeemed all, will glorify all, once he takes possession of all.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

The Apocalyptic Chariot of Amminadab: The Mystical Charism of Gilbertine Spirituality


This icon by Sister Petra Clare shows the four-fold structure of the Gilbertine Order-enclosed nuns, lay sisters, canons and lay brothers.

The apocalyptic chariot of amminadab:
The mystical Charism of Gilbertine spirituality

By: Brother Gilbert Bloomer

Before I was even aware, my soul was returning like the chariots of Amminadab, Return! O Queen of Peace, Return! Return so that we may gaze upon you! What do you see in the Queen of Peace? A dance of two camps.[1]
Song of Songs 6:12-13

Setting the Scene in a time of apocalyptic anxiety
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“Yet modern secular society is as riven with millenarian fears about the end of the world as the religious societies our ancestors lived in, ,,,we’re not about to shake off this dread, because we’re in an era of apocalypse anxiety…,” opined a recent English newspaper article.[2] The spiritual tradition I have chosen for this essay is the Gilbertine spirituality that began in Medieval England by St Gilbert of Sempringham and was promoted by the Gilbertine Order. The Gilbertine Order was a unique English creation that flourished over four centuries before being totally destroyed in the English Reformation in 1539 by Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell. This was also a truly apocalyptic and cataclysmic time for the Order of St Gilbert. For another four centuries after their destruction, this tradition had been almost forgotten and St Gilbert of Sempringham along with it. Nevertheless, a small remembrance like a candle remained, as his feast day on February 4 was on the liturgical calendars of both the Catholic and Anglican churches. However, in the late 20th century, there began a new interest in St Gilbert and Gilbertine spirituality among both Catholics and Anglicans in England, America, Canada and Brazil.[3] Maybe in this time of “apocalypse anxiety” St Gilbert might have a message and relevance for us in the 21st century.
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My own Australian journey with St Gilbert began in 1994 and my own community of the Little Eucharistic Brothers of Divine Will (founded in 2013) partly drew inspiration from St Gilbert and the Gilbertine spirituality. In the years 2011-12 three ordinariates for Anglicans, who came into unity with the Catholic Church, were established. As a result a new Gilbertine Order was established recently (2017) in Canada with the encouragement of the new Bishop of the North American Ordinariate[4]. This group were part of an Anglican Benedictine community before entering the Catholic Church. [5] Is the Church, in this time when many believers are sensing apocalyptic events, in need of a renewed Gilbertine spirituality focused on the mystical and eschatological and a reading of the sign of the times?[6]

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A Saint and community for the Apocalypse

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St Gilbert of Sempringham lived in a time of great changes and the clash of the power of the state and Church which was exemplified by the story of King Henry II and St Thomas a Becket, who were both good friends of St Gilbert. St Gilbert and his earliest disciples saw their times as apocalyptic times and saw the unique features of their Order in the light of these events.[7] St Gilbert came from a family of knights but was sent to the Church to become a priest as he was apparently physically handicapped.[8] In 1131 he established his community with a group of educated lay women who desired to spend their time in Eucharistic Adoration of the Sacramental Jesus and he soon added uneducated lay sisters and brothers, as well as a group of clerical canons in 1147.[9] This coming together of men and women in the one location in order to pray was controversial and somewhat shocking to the people of that day. However, the Gilbertines saw this as an eschatological sign of the new age they were about to enter. They described themselves with apocalyptic language of the millennial kingdom.[10]
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St Gilbert was said to be born around 1083 at Sempringham where his father Sir Josceline of Sempringham was a Norman knightly landholder and his mother an Anglo-Saxon noblewoman.[11] England had seen great change and upheaval with the Norman Conquest of England in 1066 which would have impacted differently on the two grandfathers of St Gilbert. Newman felt that his more sensitive side and thus his care of women came from his Anglo-Saxon mother.[12] Could St Gilbert’s handicap have been his mother, rather than a bodily deformity? Was this why he went into the priesthood, where he could produce no children?  His health seemed rather robust as he lived until he was over 100, and only went blind in later life. Was his mother the daughter of the last male line Atheling (the Anglo-Saxon heir to the Throne of England) named Edgar Atheling? In the Pipe Rolls there is an Edgar Atheling who was recorded living in Northumberland in the 12th century and was still alive in 1167?[13] Could this be the grandson of the earlier Edgar Atheling, who was a brother of St Margaret and possibly the mysterious Egidius mentioned in regard to the Jocelyn family ancestor?[14] [15] Henry II himself claimed the Anglo-Saxon rights through his grandmother Matilda of Scotland (wife of Henry I), whose mother St Margaret was a daughter of Edward the Exiled Atheling.[16] Did this feed into the legends and songs about a once and future king?
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When St Gilbert was a child the exciting events of the First Crusade and the conquest of Jerusalem occurred in 1099, which no doubt fed the apocalyptic mind set of St Gilbert and his contemporaries.[17] Indeed, St Gilbert’s father Sir Joscelin de Sempringham may have been a relative of Joscelin de Courtenay who went on the 1101 Crusade to serve his cousin Baldwin the Count of Rethel. Baldwin was to become Baldwin II King of Jerusalem and Joscelin was to be appointed as the Count of Edessa and Prince of Galilee.[18] Henry II’s own grandfather, Fulk of Anjou, was a King of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem.[19] This could partly explain St Gilbert’s great friendship with Henry II that was able to be restored and saved, even when St Gilbert helped St Thomas a Becket to escape from Henry and get him safely to France.[20] Did St Gilbert conceal his background out of humility but also because his family needed to avoid any hint of political aspirations?
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The Apocalypse and the Sign of the Jews
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One of the traditional major signs of the end of days and the apocalypse is the conversion of the Jews.[21] The origins of many of these crusading families as well as St Gilbert of Sempringham’s family are surrounded with legends and silence due to their descent from a Jewish Davidic warrior dynasty of Septimania and Narbonne during the Carolingian period in the 8th and 9th centuries, from whom both the royal and noble families descend.[22] Many of these families embraced Catholicism partly due to the rise in anti-Semitism beginning in the middle of the 10th century.[23]
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Narbonne and south-western France and northern Spain were centres of mystical Judaism and these families brought this with them into their Catholic Faith. Henry II’s own wife Eleanor of Aquitaine was descended from Ebalus Manzer (the Hebrew Bastard) of the first half of the 10th century, who was Count of Poitou and Duke of Aquitaine.[24] Henry II’s daughter-in-law Isabella of Angouleme was also descended from a late 10th century Count of Angouleme called Arnald II Manzer.[25] These Catholics of Davidic Jewish ancestry were thus inclined to the mystical and apocalyptic and to see the conversion of their own family to Catholicism as part of the events of the apocalypse.[26] Joachim of Fiore, who lived in the time of St Gilbert, saw the eschatological conversion of the Jews as willing and harmonious, rather than a forced assimilation or a killing of the Jews.[27] One has to ask did the term conversi and conversus used for certain lay brothers and sisters originate because of the large number of converted poorer uneducated Jews joining the Gilbertines and other 12th century Orders due to increased persecution of Jews?[28]
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In Jewish mystical thought emphasis was placed on the mystical journey which was called the descent of the chariot (merkabah).[29] This chariot is linked to the chariots of Amminadab mentioned in the Song of Songs 6:12 and the chariot of Ark of the Covenant in 2 Samuel 6. This is then linked to the Chariot or Throne with the four living faces of the man, lion, calf and eagle.[30] St. Gilbert and the Gilbertines used this Biblical imagery to describe the four-fold structure of his eschatological and apocalyptic community of enclosed nuns, lay sisters, priests and lay brothers. This they call the four wheeled chariot of Amminadab in which two wheels on one side of the chariot represent the nuns and sisters and the other two wheels on the other side represent the priests and brothers (the two camps of Song 6:13). The two oxen that pull the chariot represent St Benedict (the Cistercian input for the Rule for the enclosed nuns) and St Augustine (the Augustinian Rule for the canons). And the one leading the oxen and the chariot is St Gilbert himself.[31]
 
The Ark and the Chariot are thus linked with the Eucharistic Adoration and Intercession that has drawn the first women followers of St Gilbert. This is truly a mystical, eschatological and apocalyptic vocation in the minds of the Gilbertines. They perceive themselves like the mystical bride dancing in Song.6:13 uniting with David dancing and leaping before the Ark coming from the house of Abinadab, in 2 Samuel 6, in union with the Lady of Song.6:10.[32] The canons (priests) of St Gilbert’s Order are linked to King Solomon’s ‘valiant men’ in Song.3:7 who guard the wedding procession so that the ‘daughters of Zion’ (the enclosed nuns) of Song of Songs.3:11 can gaze on their Eucharistic King. This uniting of the naked dancing Shulamite Bride and the naked dancing Davidic King is symbolic of the nakedness of soul one needs in order to come before the Eucharistic King in the Tabernacle (Chariot and Ark).[33]
 
The two dancing camps of Song.6:13 represent allegorically and mystically the two sides of the Gilbertine chariot of men and women serving their Eucharistic Lord and King and interceding for a world on the brink of apocalyptic events. Thus the ‘daughters of Zion’ in the Song of Songs represent the enclosed nuns and the canons or priests the ‘valiant bridegrooms (men) of Solomon’ (the king of Peace). The lay sisters are in this allegorical interpretation, the ‘daughters of Jerusalem’ and the lay brothers the ‘city guards of Jerusalem’, of the Song of Songs.[34] St Gilbert drew on this mystical Jewish reading of the Song of Songs and he may have influenced St Bernard of Clairvaux, Gilbert of Hoyland (Prior of a Cistercian monastery in England), John of Ford (Prior of a Cistercian Abbey in Dorset) and Joachim of Fiore (who spent time in a Cistercian monastery).[35] It is recorded in St Gilbert’s Vita that he spent time with St Bernard of Clairvaux at Clairvaux.[36] Gilbert of Hoyland was possibly a relative of St Gilbert. Hoyland-in–the –Fens was a small Gilbertine hermitage near Sempringham in which the Gilbertines hid St Thomas a Becket for three days.[37] Is it possible that Gilbert of Hoyland and his writings on the Song of Songs were actually the teachings of St Gilbert, who in humility was trying to hide his identity under that of his younger relative?[38]
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 St Gilbert may have been influenced and taught by Honorius of Autun (one of the titles of the Jewish Septimanian Kings was Count of Autun), another great exponent of the allegorical and mystical interpretation of the Song of Songs, when he was in England. Honorius was a master of the Song of Songs which revealed the mystery of Our Lady as the ultimate ‘Daughter of Zion’.[39] Both St Bernard of Clairvaux and Honorius wrote about the mystical concept of the ‘chariots of Amminadab’ and both have positive and quite radical ideas about the role of the Jews in salvation history, drawn partly or mostly from their reading of the Song of Songs.[40] St Bernard puts it rather beautifully in his Sermon 79 that Ecclesia (the Church) is the daughter of  Synagoga (the Jewish Synagogue), and that Ecclesia with all her heart and soul desires to escort her Jewish mother into the bedchamber where she was conceived. In this bedchamber Ecclesia wants to give to her Jewish mother the Jewish bridegroom who is the Messiah Jesus.[41] Honorius interprets this in the context of the fall of the mother Synagoga and her rise to peace and reconciliation in the apocalyptic future and the end of days. Honorius wanted to examine the signs of the end and the signs of his time. He believed that this would lead to the coming of the Messiah a second time. He perceived that Gentile Christians needed to embrace monastic and mystical virtues and that interpreting on both the allegorical (remetz) and anagogical (sod) levels there is a needed conversion of history in which Synagoga will embrace and become one with Ecclesia without losing her dignity of mother.[42]
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St Gilbert and the Apocalyptic Rule for Women
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St Gilbert drew his ideas for his constitution from a number of sources including the Cistercian and Augustinian rules.[43] St Gilbert had hoped to place his new double-monastery community consisting of women and men under the authority of the Cistercians but they refused. However, the Cistercian Pope, Eugenius III, approved St Gilbert’s foundation. It was after this approval that St Gilbert established the Gilbertine canons under a version of the Augustinian Rule in 1147.[44] Thus this completed the four –fold structure of the Gilbertine Order of enclosed nuns, lay sisters, lay brothers and canons (priests). This was also given an apocalyptic significance according to Elkins.[45] It has been said that the early Cistercians were “at best ambivalent, at worst hostile” towards women in the consecrated life, which may explain St Gilbert’s lack of success with getting them to bring his group under their care.[46] Gilbert’s concern for the welfare of girls and women had already been demonstrated by his founding of a school for girls and boys at his parish in Sempringham after his return from studying in Paris.[47] The Cistercians were a new movement in the Church that sought to return to what they saw as the original Rule of St Benedict and its simplicity. The first Cistercian foundation in England was only in 1128 in Surrey, just three years before St Gilbert’s foundation at Sempringham in Lincolnshire.[48] It is possible that St Gilbert first experienced the Cistercians during his time in France.
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The Gilbertine Order was noted for it being a purely English established order but even more so its four-fold structure was originally done for the benefit of the lay women who were drawn to the eremitical life and the rule. No other monastic order in England at this time had the benefit of a Rule written for women.[49] According to Graham and Golding the male canons were added to the order firstly to protect the women, secondly to be well educated men to assist St Gilbert in the administration of the order and to be good leaders able to point out the way of salvation to women and men, and thirdly have priests in order to support the sacramental life of the women and men of the community.[50]
 
The popularity of the Gilbertine Order and its special focus on women is seen that by the end of the 12th century they had 680 enclosed nuns and lay sisters and 340 canons and lay brothers in the double monasteries (women on one side, men on the other) of Lincolnshire. These double-monasteries were found not only at Sempringham but Alvingham, Bullington, Catley, Haverholme, Nun Ormsby and Sixhills which were all in Lincolnshire plus 20 more sisters and 16 more canons and brothers at St Catherine’s Priory in Lincoln itself. Besides Lincolnshire there were also Gilbertine double monasteries in Chicksands in Bedfordshire and Watton in Yorkshire. There were also houses for just canons and lay brothers in Malton in Yorkshire, Clattercote in Oxfordshire, Mattersey in Nottinghamshire and Newstead in Lincolnshire as well as a small house for Gilbertine men in Bridge End in Linclonshire.[51]   

Apocalyptic Time of Trials
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 By 1200 they had weathered the time of the clash between Henry II and St Thomas a Becket in 1165 even though St Gilbert had sent two Gilbertine priests with him on his flight and he was hidden by the Gilbertine nuns. St Thomas a Becket had always made it clear that the Gilbertine Order was his favourite one in England.[52] However, the King soon discovered the role of the Gilbertines in the flight of Thomas and St Gilbert would not swear an oath that he didn’t help the Archbishop. Even so, St Gilbert was declared innocent and released. He lived to see not only the martyrdom of St Thomas but also his canonisation.[53]
 
However, this was not the end of St Gilbert’s trials as his lay brothers rioted and rebelled against him in 1166.[54] By this time St Gilbert was definitely back in the good graces of Henry II who sided with St Gilbert in this conflict with his lay brothers who wanted better food and conditions.[55] The issue would also seem connected to the lay brothers dissatisfaction with their treatment by the canons especially as the lay brothers had been established before the canons.[56] The lay sisters, while not revolting, had similar complaints about the enclosed nuns and they had in turn a growing dissatisfaction with the control of the canons which led to a Papal Visitation in 1268 in which the equality of the four groups was implemented and the nuns given back much of their autonomy. However, within a century after this the canons and the Master (magister) were back controlling the women and limiting their autonomy.[57] It would seem with most communities that with time the structures and institution tamed the original charism and in this case tamed the original apocalyptic and mystical charism. The Gilbertines lost something special when the Magister and canons started to see themselves as the masters and controllers of the women rather than their servants. Jesus had warned his disciples about this temptations to exercise authority and power over others like Gentile Lords.[58]
 
Apocalyptic Simplicity
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The Gilbertine Rule stressed simplicity in all things.[59] This simplicity was stressed especially in regard to liturgical and musical simplicity of style. The Gilbertines were not as Spartan as the Cistercians in that they allowed hymns but for the chanting of the Divine Office simple plainchant was the rule. Their focus was on Scripture and honouring it and their Eucharistic Lord with simplicity, humility and purity of intention.[60] Two simple Gilbertine hymns have been preserved which were sung on the feast of St Gilbert.[61] Simplicity in architectural and decorative style for priories, monasteries and chapels was also a feature based on the Gilbertine Rule.[62]  My own community follows this Gilbertine simplicity in chanting the Office in plainchant and a simplicity in worship and decorative style. Like other monastic orders the Gilbertine had their own Gilbertine Rite and Ordinal. This Ordinal included a ceremony for receiving communion outside the Mass.[63] Could many Catholics of a traditionalist and ornate baroque mindset today once again listen to the Gilbertine and Cistercian call to apostolic simplicity?
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Another area in which St Gilbert stressed simplicity was in the area of cooking and he favoured what has come to be known as Gilbertine pottage in which one just throws food in a pot and cooks it. This is definitely my own style of cooking and the other consecrated brothers prefer I refrain as much as possible from doing the cooking. Could this have been one of the causes for the lay brothers revolt? They ate at their meals coarse bread, pottage and a glass of water.[64] Could this speak to an apocalyptic anxious generation obsessed with food and cooking celebrities?
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St Gilbert’s emphasis in humility and servant leadership has been misunderstood by some scholars who accuse him as lacking in enthusiasm and leadership skills such as Golding however Sykes thinks he did not want to found a women’s religious community but one for men.[65] This is unlikely as the whole purpose of the other three groups was to assist the enclosed nuns in their spiritual work of Adoration and intercession for a world on the way to the Apocalypse. St Gilbert saw his role as the Magister as meaning teacher but those more institutionally and hierarchically inclined turned it into meaning Master.[66] Pope Francis has warned numerous time about the danger of clericalism and careerism in the Church.[67]
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I find it rather sad that St Gilbert’s mystical understanding and structure of his community based on the Chariot of Amminadab, in regard to the charism of the community, has come to others to be a representation of the outward institutional structure of the community.[68] St Gilbert,it would seem to me, had a freedom in the Spirit to follow where God planned not a self-willed choleric agenda for establishing another institution. St Gilbert was not a careerist and never wanted to hold positions of power in the wider Church or his Order until forced to do so.[69] The last Magister or Master of the Gilbertine Order, Robert Holgate, was highly educated with both a Bachelor and Doctor of Divinity. He willingly surrendered to Henry VIII and then Edward VI’s agenda for the dissolution and reformation and was granted the land of this former priory at Watton. He then became the Archbishop of York, married and was the first Bishop to renounce the Pope as well as ceasing to believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.[70] Was he St Gilbert and the Gilbertines’ Judas?
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Apocalypse now
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St Gilbert and the first Gilbertines rose up in a time when the events of the day were causing them to reflect on the message of the Apocalypse. Many believers in general and Catholics in particular today, are apocalyptic minded especially those who take note of Marian apparitions and mystical devotions. Many see the present time of tribulation leading us to an end of times (not of the world but of our civilisation and era), before the coming of a great era of peace. Is it providential that we are in a time that needs the original apocalyptic and mystical message of St Gilbert and the Gilbertines and a renewal of apostolic simplicity, humility and purity of intention in the Church? Is Pope Francis our new St Gilbert with his call to radical discipleship in an age of secular “apocalypse anxiety?”[71]
 
The whole focus of the Book of the Apocalypse, so beloved by St Gilbert, is the story of the battle between the Lamb that was slain (Eucharistic Jesus) and his followers and the evil satanic Beast system. Recently Pope Francis requested all contemplative women religious communities to include Eucharistic Adoration in their way of life and to change their rules and constitutions in order to achieve that, as well as daily lectio divina.[72]  I believe St Gilbert may be smiling down from Heaven on the Pope and all those who embrace the mystical and apocalyptic life of Eucharistic Adoration in another time when Church and state are at odds. Could Eucharistic Adoration of the Sacramental Jesus be the answer for those today caught up in both secular and religious apocalypse anxiety, as it was the answer for St Gilbert and the early Gilbertines?


The Shulamite (Queen of Peace) Dancing to the Lord.



[1]The name of Shulami comes from the words meaning peace shalom and complete shalem and refers to the Solomonic Queen. Shlomo or Solomon also means Peace and thus the Shulami Bride is the Queen of Peace. In Jewish mystical thought on merkabah (the chariot), the soul goes and returns.
[2] Jasper Hamill, “We’re in an age of ‘apocalypse anxiety’ and will never stop worrying about doomsday” Metro News, 7 June 2019
[3] “Modern Restoration Efforts” The Restoration of Gilbertine Spirituality and the Catholic Herald 26 March 2004 "Medieval English order enjoys revival in Brazil." A priest from Brazil started the Fraternity of St Gilbert in 1998 but his community was dissolved in 2012. The Oblates of St Gilbert began in England in 1983 after the supposed 900th anniversary of the birth of St Gilbert.
[4] Bishop Steven Lopez.
[5] Robert Charles Bengry, “The Gilbertines,”
[6] Pope Paul VI spoke of reading the signs of the time and Father Elias Friedman and others such as Cardinal Schonborn see the rise of the Messianic Jewish movement and the Hebrew Catholic movement as part of these signs of the times. Another sign I would propose is the Ordinariates bringing all that is best in Anglican spirituality into the bosom of the Catholic Church to be preserved and developed. Like in the 12th century, we are seeing the rise of many new spiritual communities while the older orders are dying out or being reformed.
[7] Sharon K Elkins, Holy Women of Twelfth Century England, (Chapel Hill: North Carolina University Press, 1988), 130-4.
[8] Alban Butler and Paul Burns (editors), Butler’s Lives of the Saints: February, (Minnesota USA: Burns and Oates, 1998), 41.
[9] Gordon Mursell, English Spirituality: From Earliest Times to 1700, (London: Society For Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2001), 95.
[10] Elkins, Holy Women of Twelfth Century England, 125-34.
[11][11] John Henry Newman, Lives of the English Saints: St Gilbert Prior of Sempringham, (UK: James Toovey, 1844), 9-10. I have seen in different sources claims that St Gilbert was 104, 106, 108, 113 years old. However I think it unlikely and he was probably born around 1087-89 and was about 100-102 when he died.
[12] Newman, Lives of the English Saints: St Gilbert Prior of Sempringham, 10.
[13] Edward Augustus Freeman, The history of the Norman conquest of England: its causes and its results. Vol. 3. New York: Clarendon Press, 1873.
[14] Nicholas Hooper, "Edgar the Ætheling: Anglo-Saxon Prince, Rebel and Crusader," Anglo-Saxon England 14 (1985): 197-214.
[15] As claimed in the 1820 edition of Debretts and other sources. These genealogies have a grandfather and grandson both called Egidius (Edgar) who may be the two Edgar Athelings. The son in between who may be the brother of St Gilbert’s mother Gilbert Atheling for whom St Gilbert was named.
[16] Kate Ash, "St Margaret and the literary politics of Scottish sainthood," In Sanctity as literature in late medieval Britain, (UK: Manchester University Press, 2016), 18-37.
[17] Jay Rubenstein, Armies of Heaven: The First Crusade and the Quest for Apocalypse, (New York: Basic Books, 2011), xiii.
[18] Alan V. Murray, "Baldwin II and his nobles: Baronial factionalism and dissent in the kingdom of Jerusalem, 1118-1134," Nottingham Medieval Studies 38 (1994): 60.
[19] He married Melisende the heiress of the Throne of Jerusalem as his second wife.

[20] John Morris, The Life and Martyrdom of Saint Thomas Becket, (UK: Burns and Oates, 1885), 147-8.
[21] CCC 174. The glorious Messiah's coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by "all Israel", for "a hardening has come upon part of Israel" in their "unbelief" toward Jesus…. "For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?"571 The "full inclusion" of the Jews in the Messiah's salvation, in the wake of "the full number of the Gentiles",572 will enable the People of God to achieve "the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ", in which "God may be all in all"
[22] Arthur J. Zuckerman, A Jewish Princedom in Feudal France, 768-900, USA: Columbia University Press, 1972. Professor David Kelley has also done detailed genealogical research into these families. See Iain Moncrieffe, Royal Highness: Ancestry of the Royal Child, (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1982), 8.
[23] It is rather sad that the Frankish Emperor Charles the Simple, himself belonging to a branch of the converted Jewish Davidic House, began this policy of increased anti-Jewishness when in 897 he donated all the Jewish owned land to the Bishop of Narbonne. Then in the period between 900-929, he confiscated all Jewish property and donated it to the Church. This was the final crushing of the semi-autonomous Jewish state under Carolingian protection.
[24] See Paul Collins, The birth of the West: Rome, Germany, France, and the creation of Europe in the tenth century. Public Affairs, 2013.
[25] Mamzer is Hebrew for someone born of a forbidden relationship. Thus it is likely that both Ebalus and Arnald were the first ones in their family to become Catholic or that their father who was Jewish married a Catholic. Arnald or Arnulf itself is a name of Jewish origins from Aron ha Alef (the Chief or Elder). This topic is huge and can not be discuss fully here.
[26] Brett Whalen, "Joachim of Fiore, Apocalyptic Conversion, and the ‘Persecuting Society’," History Compass 8, no. 7 (2010): 682-91.
[27] Whalen, "Joachim of Fiore, Apocalyptic Conversion, and the ‘Persecuting Society’,", 683.
[28] In reading widely I have noticed that the Gilbertine Order did have a lot of interaction with Jews and even borrowed money from them and held money for them. However I don’t have space or time to pursue this for this essay.
[29] See Hekhalot Rabbati
[30] S.O. Fawzi, Mystical Interpretation of Song of Songs in the Light of Ancient Jewish Mysticism, Doctoral thesis, (UK: Durham University, 1994), 123. Available at Durham E-Theses Online: http://etheses.dur.ac.uk/1159/
[31] Edwards, John, “The Order of Sempringham and its connexion to the West of Scotland,” Transactions of the Glasgow Archaeological Society, New Series, Vol. 5, No. 1 (1905): 66-95
[32] Andre LaCocque, Romance, She Wrote: A Hermeneutical Essay on Songs of Songs. (Oregon: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2006), 138-45.
[33] Fawzi, Mystical Interpretation of Song of Songs in the Light of Ancient Jewish Mysticism,120-22
[34] Fawzi, Mystical Interpretation of Song of Songs in the Light of Ancient Jewish Mysticism, 121.
[35] Others hold that it was St Bernard who influenced St Gilbert along with his other great friend St Malachy the Archbishop of Ireland of papal prophecy fame. Some Catholics believe that Pope Benedict XVI was the first Pope of the “end of the times” (but not the end of the world) and the penultimate Pope on St Malachy’s list entitled “Glory of the Olive.” Some believe that Pope Francis is the final Pope of the list called “Peter the Roman” others that Pope Francis is one of a number of “end of the times” Popes which will conclude with “Peter of Rome” the last Pope who will reign in Rome during a time of great Chastisement when the Papacy will then return to Jerusalem.
[36] Jean Truax, Aelred the Peacemaker: The Public Life of a Cistercian Abbot, Vol. 251, (Minnesota USA: Liturgical Press, 2017), 118-19.
[37] Rose Graham, S. Gilbert of Sempringham and the Gilbertines: a History of the only English Monastic Order, (London: Elliot Stock, 1901), 201.
[38] This speculation would need a lot more research to see if it a viable one.
[39] It is possible that Honorius of Autun was a converted son or brother of Rabbi Abraham ben Isaac of Narbonne, who was influenced by the Jewish mystical teaching of the Provence school and their reflection on the mysterical Book of Bahir which they studied in secret until 1174 when they published it for a wider audience.
[40] E Ann Matter, “The Love Song of the Millenium: Medieval Christian Apocalyptic and the Song of Songs,” in Scrolls of Love: Ruth and the Song of Songs, (USA: Fordham University Press, 2006), 241-42.
[41] Gilbert Bloomer, “Mother of the Bride: St Bernard on Church and Synagogue,” A Catholic Jew Pontificates, < https://aronbengilad.blogspot.com/2014/09/st-bernard-on-church-and-synagogue.html>
[42] Matter, “The Love Song of the Millenium: Medieval Christian Apocalyptic and the Song of Songs,” 241.
[43] Mursell, English Spirituality: From Earliest Times to 1700, 95.
[44] Mursell, English Spirituality: From Earliest Times to 1700, 95.
[45] Elkins, Holy Women of Twelfth Century England, 125-34.
[46] Paul E. Szarmach, M. Teresa Tavormina, Joel T. Rosenthal (editors), Medieval England: An Encyclopedia, Cistercians (New York: Routledge, 1998), 192.
[47] Brian Golding, Gilbert of Sempringham and the Gilbertine Order: c. 1130-c. 1300, (USA: Oxford University Press, 1995), 10-13.
[48]  Janet Burton and Julie Kerr, The Cistercians in the Middle Ages, (Suffolk, UK: Boydell Press, 2011), 37.
[49] Brian Golding, "Keeping Nuns in Order: Enforcement of the Rules in Thirteenth-Century Sempringham," The Journal of Ecclesiastical History 59, no. 4 (2008): 657-79.
[50] Thea Summerfield, The Matter of Kings' Lives: The Design of Past and Present in the Early Fourteenth-century Verse Chronicles by Pierre de Langtoft and Robert Mannyng, Vol. 113, (Georgia USA: Rodopi, 1998), 131.
[51] Louise J. Wilkinson, Women in Thirteenth-Century Lincolnshire, Vol. 54, (UK: Boydell & Brewer, 2007), 165-6.
[52] Morris, The Life and Martyrdom of Saint Thomas Becket, 147-149.
[53] Morris, The Life and Martyrdom of Saint Thomas Becket, 150.
[54] Constance H Berman, The Cistercian evolution: the invention of a religious order in twelfth-century Europe, (USA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000, 146. The date for the revolt seems unclear as I have seen one source give the year 1174 and here Berman gives 1166 and many others just say sometime in the 1160’s. In Johnston Encyclopedia of Monasticism is mentioned the period of 1165-1171 for the revolt.
[55]M.D. Knowles, “The Revolt of the Lay Brothers of Sempringham,” The English Historical Review Vol. 50, No. 199 (Jul., 1935): 465.
[56] William M. Johnston and Christopher Kleinhenz (editors), Encyclopedia of Monasticism, (London and New York: Routledge, 2013), 748.
[57] F.M. Stephenson, The Decline and Dissolution of the Gilbertine Order, PhD thesis, (UK: University of Worcester, 2011), 6-11.
[58] Matt. 20:25, Mark 10:42 and Luke 22:25.
[59] Graham, S. Gilbert of Sempringham and the Gilbertines: a History of the only English Monastic Order, 201.
[60] Mark A. Lamport  and Benjamin K. Forrest, eds. Hymns and Hymnody: Historical and Theological Introductions, Volume 1: From Asia Minor to Western Europe, (Oregon USA: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2019), 169.
[61] Lamport and Forrest, eds. Hymns and Hymnody: Historical and Theological Introductions, Volume 1: From Asia Minor to Western Europe, 171.
[62] Pamela C. Graves, The Window Glass of the Order of St Gilbert of Sempringham: a York-based Study, (YorkUK: York Archaeological Trust; Council for British Archaeology, 2001), 451.
[63] Phillip Tovey, The Theory and Practice of Extended Communion, (London and New York: Routledge, 2016), 12.
[64] George Frank, Ryedale and North Yorkshire Antiquities, (UK: Sampson Brothers, 1888), 189.
[65] Rickie Lette, "Building the Chariot of Aminadab: The Institutional Development of the Gilbertine Order in Twelfth Century England and the Influence of Gender," Magistra 21, no. 2 (Winter, 2015): 30.
[66] Lette, "Building the Chariot of Aminadab: The Institutional Development of the Gilbertine Order in Twelfth Century England and the Influence of Gender," 39, 47.
[67] Phyllis Zagano, “Clericalism puts the focus on careerism, not ministry” National Catholic Reporter, 1 June 2016,
[68] Lette, "Building the Chariot of Aminadab: The Institutional Development of the Gilbertine Order in Twelfth Century England and the Influence of Gender," 28-50.
[69]  Butler, Richard Urban Butler, "St. Gilbert of Sempringham," The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 6, (New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909), 10 Jun. 2019 .
[70] Stephenson, The Decline and Dissolution of the Gilbertine Order, PhD thesis, (UK: University of Worcester, 2011), 269, 275
[71] Hamill, “We’re in an age of ‘apocalypse anxiety’ and will never stop worrying about doomsday” Metro News,
[72] Joshua J.McElwee, “Francis mandates changes for contemplative women religious, requests revision of constitutions,” National Catholic Reporter.

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