Saint Aelred of Rievaulx (1109 – 1167), termed ‘saint’ by the Christian church, was born in Northumberland, England, and became Abbot of Rievaulx in Yorkshire, an abbey belonging to the Cistercian order of monks. The following is an extract from his book The Mirror of Love, originally written in Latin. Its beautiful subject matter discusses the natural attraction of the soul towards God. Although Aelred describes “memory of eternity”, knowledge and love as attributes of the human mind, we would understand these as being qualities of the soul. That humans are “blessed” is a subject that is dear to many mystics and it appears in our own literature, for instance in a poem by Dariya Sahib where he writes, “Blessed is he who recognizes the Satguru…. Blessed is he who realizes the Beloved.” We are blessed not only in our origin (we have been made by a loving Creator, say the saints) but in being given the capacity to seek him.
Chapter 3: That man was made in the image of his Creator, that he might be capable of blessedness:
So, therefore, it was given to man at the creation of the universe not only to be created, nor yet, like the rest of created beings, merely to be good: not only to be beautiful or to be ordered, but, much more than this, to be blessed. But since no created thing exists by its own creating, nor has beauty or goodness of itself, but from him who is everything, who is wholly good and wholly beautiful, it follows that the goodness of all good things, the beauty of all beautiful things must derive from him who is the cause of all existence, and therefore also that man’s blessedness is not from man’s self but from him who is wholly blessed and who thus is the blessedness of all the blessed.
Reasonable creatures alone are capable of this blessedness. Because they were made in the image of their Creator, it is seemly that they should cleave to him in whose image they are made.… This “cleaving” or “clinging” plainly is nothing to do with the body, but with the mind, into which its Creator has put three powers of nature, which make it able to partake of God’s eternity, to share in his wisdom, to taste of his sweetness.
These three I call memory, knowledge and love, or will. Memory can comprehend eternity, knowledge can comprehend wisdom, and love can comprehend sweetness. Man was made with these three powers in the likeness of the Trinity, of God whom his memory keeps without forgetting, his knowledge knows without deceit, his love embraces without desire of anything else. And in this is man blessed.
Eric Colledge, The Medieval Mystics of England
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which hunger and thirst after righteousness:
for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Bible, Matthew 5:3-10