When Someone’s Spiritual Practices Turn Your Stomach—Literally

Distancing yourself from your personal reactions to an element of someone else’s practice.

Gangleri's Grove

In my medieval studies class this week, amongst other writing, we had to read through “Memorial” by 13th century Italian female mystic Angela of Foligno. I don’t particularly care for her work, for a number of reasons, many of them centering around issues of translation (as well as a certain distaste for Franciscan spirituality in general) but I gained a valuable insight nonetheless. This was the first time that reading an account of someone’s spiritual practices actually made me throw up…and I’m ok with that. Bear with me.

About half way through her narrative, which her confessor bade her to share with him (1), she is discussing charity as an ascent into divine joy. On Maundy Thursday, she suggests to her companion that they go to the hospital to “find Christ there among the poor, the suffering, and the afflicted.” (2) Her narrative continues thusly:

And after we had distributed…

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