Origen – Contemplation As Being Wounded By Love

…when the mind is filled with…God…through no agency of man or angel, then might the mind come to trust that it actually receives the very kisses of the Word of God…

– Origen

There is a fashion to dismiss Origen as a heretic and to have nothing to do with him.  This is extremely unfortunate; he was the most influential of the early church writers.  He did fall into error; it is not difficult to separate his errors from truth.  And he remains the most influential of all Eastern writers on contemplative life.

Born in 185 A.D. of Christian parents, his father was martyred under Severus in 202.  At 18 he began teaching at the school of Alexandria, a catechetical school situated in a secular university where converts were instructed, Christians were prepared for Orders, and those not of the faith came for lectures.  Around the year 400 Origen’s writings were attacked and in 543 his errors were made plain.  As a result of these much of his writing was purged.  However, as one of history’s great exegetes, his commentaries are deep, and probing, his treatise On Prayer reflects a intimate, reflective wisdom that is broad and rich and comprehensive.  Being formed in the likeness of Christ Origen taught that through the imitation of Jesus’ practises gives the soul stability, security, and union with God through love.

There is nothing more important to understanding the possibilities of reflective intimacy with God than Origin’s original naming of this as being personally wounded by God’s love.  This experience is a refection of having been kissed by God.  This is the most foundational experience that both establishes and motivates people who have been so touched.

catholic workerFrequently I have seen the Spouse pay me a visit and remain often with me.  Then he withdrew suddenly and I could not find him for whom I was looking .  This is why I again long for his visit, and often he comes back, and when he appears as if snatched out of sight by hands, he disappears again, and while he is taken away he is desired afresh.

– Origen

This is…

…the mingling of the soul with the Word.

We find Origen in Cassian, in St. Bernard, in St. John of the Cross, in the Rhenish mystics.  Origen is both the original and most powerful distiller of the relational immediacy of God in the New Testament.