Strike the Cloud: Understanding and practising the teaching of The Cloud of Unknowing
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Thanks, Bosco, for this. His wife, Liz, is also an enabler with the W. Agape, Father Ron.
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Thank you for featuring this new book, Bosco. Your email address will not be published. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting. Strike the Cloud Feb 4, liturgy 3. Previous I believe in apostolic church.
Strike the Cloud | Liturgy
About The Author. Bosco Peters. Related Posts. Matt Gutting on February 4, at am. Father Ron Smith on February 4, at am. Agape, Father Ron Reply. Julianne Stewart on February 4, at pm. The author The Cloud of Unknowing has been widely acknowledged to be both a literary and a spiritual gem. Writing in graphic, vigorous and colourful language, the author of The Cloud teaches a simple method of prayer which takes one directly to God. He writes with an authority that comes from his own personal experience.
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But he was no maverick. He drew on a well-grounded tradition. He was a teacher who knew his Bible well, and was equally at home with many of the great teachers of Christian spirituality.
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Who was he? Although he wrote seven books, he successfully kept his name a secret even from his contemporaries. But from the dialect in which he wrote we do know that he lived in the East Midlands of England. He was writing at a time of terrible turbulence and social upheaval. He must have known at first hand the unimaginable disaster of the Black Death, which within the space of two years wiped out no less than one-third of the population of England.
It is very likely that he was a Cistercian monk and a priest. Who was he writing for? In the case of The Cloud he was expressly addressing a novice monk or hermit aged 24, and it was also for the same person that he wrote his later book The Book of Privy Counselling. For several hundred years, The Cloud was practically unheard of. It was rediscovered in the nineteenth century, but only came to wider. Over the last 50 years The Cloud has attracted widespread attention among teachers of contemplative prayer, spiritual directors and guides, and among the growing number of people who practise such prayer.
No, I think most people would give it a miss. But hidden within this slight volume is a pearl of inestimable value — Matt By that I mean it took me many years before I actually got round to reading it. I first heard of it via the odd reference in the novels of Aldous Huxley and in the writings of Thomas Merton, John Main and others.
When I finally read it I knew that this would be a companion for life. The book was probably written for a contemplative monk already leading a life of prayer — but the great discovery of modern times is that this work is very relevant to all who wish to lead the Christian life and to deepen their prayer life.
I would express it in this way — despite its almost informal tone, this is a serious work — the most serious work I have ever read — not a book to be trifled with, because it deals with the most important subject of all — our relationship with God Himself and how to allow Him to take over our lives. So we should read it with reverence and care.
The call to contemplative prayer is universal and it is nothing less than a catastrophe that the tradition of this prayer all but disappeared in the Church as a whole for centuries, until its recent revival thanks to visionaries such as John Main and Thomas Keating. I am very, very wary about recommending books.
Strike the Cloud
How many times have I found a book to be life-changing only to discover that a friend considered it flat and uninteresting? We each have our own moment in life to read a particular work — or perhaps it will never appeal to us. I only say that the Cloud for me was an extraordinary revelation. The sort of volume that, if it is your cup of tea, should be kept on your person at all times — you never know when you will be washed up on a desert island. I am even more reluctant to embark on a detailed summary of the teaching of the Cloud.
I feel I am not equal to the task and whatever I say will be misleading, for it must be read and re-read as a whole. Analysing the Cloud is like trying to catch the essence of a rose by tearing it apart and describing each petal. It is available from Amazon. The Penguin Classics edition, with an excellent introduction by Clifton Wolters, is also highly recommended.
Very briefly, The Cloud is a teaching about private prayer and, as mentioned above, the author takes it for granted that a person wishing to pray in this way is a practising Catholic, receiving the sacraments, attending Mass regularly and saying his or her prayers.
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This teaching is not some sort of special short-cut to God, quite the reverse. But having said that, if you feel drawn to this type of prayer, it would be a tragedy if you were put off because of feelings of unworthiness. The author stresses that we cannot really know God by means of the intellect but, through the extraordinary grace of God, He can be known by love.
This is infinitely the most astonishing thing in our astonishing universe.