Recent Posts

Friday, 31 October 2014


Recueillement is a French word which was hijacked by poets such as Baudelaire. But, the word originally did not mean a poet device, but a spiritual state of meditation, of reflection, of one going into one's interior world and thinking in the presence of God.

Today, I was reminded of recueillement by a priest-friend of mine. I first read the French meaning of the term over 30 years ago when I was meditating on the diary of Raissa Maritain, who practiced recueillement.

Now, we Anglo-Saxon trained minds think that meditation is something to be attacked in an active manner, and to a certain extent, one must learn meditation based on Scripture.

But, the French seem to understand that the passivity involved in recueillement involves a surrendering to God at the moment of reflection.

Raissa practiced recueillement in the Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, as she was allowed the Real Presence in her home, in her little chapel. She wrote of this grace as needed as she found the separation of her husband's mission to the world a suffering only to be met in the suffering of Christ.

The priest and I were discussing the necessity of silence after the reception of Holy Communion, a perfect time for recueillement. Too many parishes, despite the advice of the Pope Emeritus, stuff hymns into that space in the Mass, which demands silence.

Recueillement is retiring into the cell of your soul and mind. It is a discipline as well as a grace.

One throws off distractions and allows time for God to speak, or not to speak to one.

Recueillement leads to contemplation. Is it not ironic that the French poets took this beautiful idea and twisted it into something profane?

Raissa wrote in her diary that she went into the state of recueillement after Communion.

Here is Raissa on this point. My bold.

Poetic meditation
We believe that some intelligibility as some remain in darkness all true poetry. Intelligibility, darkness, marking the origin of the work developed in the depths of the soul where intelligence and desire, intuition and sensitivity, imagination and love have their common source ... As soon as it begins to emerge from this background generator and foster the work appealed, each time in a different way, these powers of the soul, each with their own way to achieve real and say.The source of all poetry and creative intuition is some experience might be called "knowledge" dark and delicious, with a flavor all spiritual, because at these depths all is spirit and life, every poet knows that it enters through a recollection of all his senses, no matter how fleeting, the first condition of poetic conception. We here in the passive sense of contemplation quiet and not voluntary and active concentration.
This meditation is the first gift given to the poet, and it is also a natural disposition that must be cultivated. It is because of this, it is in this sense, I suppose, that Rimbaud wrote: "the first study of the man who wants to be a poet is his own knowledge, whole. He seeks his soul, he inspects it, he tries, he learns. " ( Letter from the light .)
This meditation is a common psychological phenomenon analogy to the poetic state and mystical contemplation. Similarly, the dark and delicious knowledge that accompanies it. It is the similarity of these statements which tell John Royère: "Poetry ... is religious. San essential darkness just what it is the story of a soul and she wants to watch the mystery; but the darkness is light ... "(Curious recall and nox illuminatio mea deliciis meis in Psalm 138.) Robert Desnos does not believe in God, but he in turn wrote: "... no one has the most religious spirit that me ... "But it's also what's Henry Bremond that " poetic activity is a natural draft full of mystical and secular activity ... blank confused, clumsy, holes or white, till at last the poet would be a mystic or a fleeting mystical failed "(1). There is in all this, it seems to me, more confusion. And first it is necessary to protest in the name of poetry: it is not because of some missed; say it is the mystical missed is doing it too and not enough honor. It is not mystical; it is a particular species, a being that has its own nature, its origins and its ontological laws. Secondly we must consider that the sort of obscure knowledge or emotional experience which is that poetry does not affect in the same way that the dark knowledge of mystical experience to the common source of all that exists. All the sources are in You ... Here, in the mystical experience, the affected object is the uncreated abyss, the life-giving God and savior, known darkly as present and united to the soul of the beholder; while the obscure knowledge is that of the poet, and key, as known object, things, and the real world rather than God himself, the result of a union of another order, more or less intense in God the creator and organizer of nature.
Every great vocation gives one called the ability of a certain union with God, by a special relationship with him whose essence is transcendent to the multiplicity of its attributes; and very marked vocations differ from each other by their relatedness to a particular divine attributes which divides the eyes of intelligence created the Supreme Simplicity.
Poets and other artists, all great inventors and saints, all derive from the same divine source, but with different provisions, and as essentially distinct types of relationship to that source. They are each other imitators of God, but some are called especially to increase the human treasure of beauty and science, they are imitators of God the Creator; others are especially called to enter into the mystery of the Godhead itself and to communicate in this world, some image and some resemblance, the holiness of God, in imitation of Jesus Christ, by the abnegation of self and all that is of this world. Nature and grace have skilled workers, and who mutually mysterious relief for the ascent and the spiritualization of humanity. It is therefore quite rightly that some are called "creators" and other "saints".
The following these various calls, these distinct experiences in essence, despite their proximity in the same divine source results are also quite different for the poet and contemplative. Whenever there is natural or supernatural contemplation, it is itself the fruit and rest, and in the mystic contemplation itself the dark and delicious knowledge tends to superabound in immanent acts. While the poetic state in the dark experience, if it reaches a high degree of intensity, tends to grow into an object. The poet out of his contemplation will write a poem - but the mystic moved, moved by his God, his theological life intensify (or rather it has been intensified in him), and the acts of the virtues and gifts that God join He better love God and men. But if the mystic is also a poet he will act according to his many gifts, and generously share with us his experience divine abundance.
Generally, in order of mystical contemplation it is above all to know and love - love to know. In the case of poetry it is indeed some knowledge of the creation and countless mysterious reports and between human beings, but all this knowledge is knowledge of connaturality does not tend to self-love, it tends to create beautiful works in the case of the poet to do a book of words; these words and take them so they act as the flute under the breath as an instrument of poetic state. So the poem is a vehicle of poetic inspiration as the flute music is a vehicle; and brush the vehicle of vision.
Poetry is the result of a contact of the mind with reality itself ineffable and its source we believe to be God himself in the movement of love which leads him to create images of beauty . Which reads in the mysterious recesses of being expressed with some tasty illogical, that is not nonsense but overabundance of sense.
Singing, poetry in all its forms, seek to liberate substantial experience. (And perhaps because of this, the life of a saint is she signed ...) The reflection that provides such an experience is like a bath of refreshment, rejuvenation and purification of the mind.Is this the secret principle of catharsis Aristotle? We can not overestimate the depth of repose then have all our faculties. It is a concentration of all the energies of the soul, but concentration peaceful, tranquil, which assumes no tension; the soul enters into his rest, in this place of refreshment and peace than any sense (2). She died "Death Angels," but it is to relive in the excitement and enthusiasm in this state that is wrongly called inspiration, because inspiration was already the rest himself Similarly, where it has gone unnoticed. Now mind refreshed and invigorated into a happy business, everything seems so easy to be given the time and as outside.Actually everything was there, in the shadows, hidden in the mind and in the blood, all that will be implemented was there, but we do not know. We knew neither discover nor do we use it before we have retrempés in the tranquil depths.
Raissa Maritain,
in "Illuminations and droughts"
Carmelite Studies , 22 th year
vol. II, in October 1937.