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Quietism

QUIETISM

QUIETISM. Quietism is a form of spirituality that emphasizes a direct relationship with God in a state of quietness of the soul (Latin quies ). The ideas behind Quietism are to be found in many religions of the world. In the West, they influenced the mysticism of the Christian Middle Ages, notably that of the devotio moderna (modern devotion) movement. Quietist ideas reappeared during the sixteenth century in the alumbrados (illuminism) movement, which greatly worried the Spanish authorities. These notions reemerged in Italy in the 1680s when religious groups, self-proclaimed quietisti, promoted transformation in God and total spiritual passivity. The famous Spanish theologian Miguel de Molinos (16281696) encouraged these ideas in La guia espiritual (1675; The spiritual guide), ideas that were soon condemned because they seemed not only to call into question the hierarchy, authority, and dogma of the Roman Catholic Church but also to tolerate a dangerous moral bent toward sinfor committing sin could not trouble Quietism's intimate relationship with God. Molinos was tried by the Holy Office in 1685, and his teachings were condemned in 1687 by Pope Innocent XI for their Quietist negation of human powers and for what were regarded as their injurious theological and moral consequences. In Italy, works suspected of Quietism were included in the Index of Prohibited Books, and many trials followed. The hunt for Quietisti soon expanded all over Europe and contributed to the eighteenth-century waning of the mystical movement in France, Italy, and Spain.

In France, opponents of mysticism used the Roman condemnation to fight leading mystical figures such as Jeanne-Marie Bouvier de la Motte Guyon (Madame Guyon du Chesnoy; 16481717), the Barnabite preacher known as Father La Combe (16401715), and François de Salignac de La Mothe Fénelon, archbishop of Cambrai (16511715). They were all accused of suspicious links with the Italian Quietisti, of doubtful morality, and of disturbing theological concepts. First, La Combe was charged and imprisoned, then Guyon was condemned. Influenced by the Spanish mystic John of the Cross (15421591), Guyon actively promoted a mysticism based on the annihilation of the soul in Les torrents spirituels (1682; Spiritual torrents) and in Moyen court et très facile pour l'oraison (1685; Short and easy method to pray). Appealing at first to Parisian dévot circles and to the Marquise de Maintenon, the second wife of Louis XIV, she saw her writings condemned for their Quietism and found herself imprisoned many times between 1688 and 1703. Nevertheless, her ideas influenced various European audiences: Catholics and deists from France, Protestants from England, Scotland, and Switzerland, German Pietists, as well as the founder of Methodism, John Wesley (17031791), all claimed to be her disciples. The charges against Madame Guyon served also to put on trial Archbishop Fénelon to the point that his doctrine of Pure Love was equated with Quietism (he was on trial not only for being associated with Madame Guyon but also for political reasons). Fénelon promoted an unconditional love for God, so detached from any expectation of reward that one freely accepts to love God, even though convinced of one's own damnation. Fénelon, who had taken not only the side of Madame Guyon against her detractors, but also a political stand against Louis XIV's absolutism, was in turn accused of Quietism. Fénelon's formidable opponent, Bishop Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet, openly accused him of Quietist views and bad morality, leading to his condemnation and silencing in 1699. But, as French historian Jacques Le Brun notes, nothing was farther from Fénelon's austere doctrine of Pure Love and perfect charity than the accusation of total passivity.

See also Bossuet, Jacques-Bénigne ; Catholic Spirituality and Mysticism ; Fénelon, François ; Index of Prohibited Books ; Inquisition ; Methodism ; Pietism .

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Armogathe, Jean-Robert. Le quiétisme. Paris, 1973.

Beaude, Joseph, et al. Madame Guyon. Grenoble, 1997.

Cognet, Louis. Crépuscule des mystiques: BossuetFénelon. Paris-Tournai, 1991.

Gondal, Marie-Louise. Madame Guyon (16481717): Un nouveau visage. Paris, 1989.

Laude, Patrick D. Approches du quiétisme: Deux études suivies du Moyen court et très facile pour l'oraison de Madame Guyon (texte de l'édition de 1685). Paris, Seattle, and Tübingen, 1991.

Le Brun, Jacques. Le pur amour de Platon à Lacan. Paris, 2002.

Lehmann, Hartmut, et al. Jansenismus, Quietismus, Pietismus/im Auftrag der Historischen Kommission zur Erforschung des Pietismus. Göttingen, 2002.

Meyer, Jean. Bossuet. Paris, 1993.

Richardt, Aimé. Fénelon. Ozoir-la-Ferrière, France, 1993.

Thompson, Phyllis. Madame Guyon, Martyr of the Holy Spirit. London, 1986.

Dominique Deslandres

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"Quietism." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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quietism

quietism, a heretical form of religious mysticism founded by Miguel de Molinos, a 17th-century Spanish priest. Molinism, or quietism, developed within the Roman Catholic Church in Spain and spread especially to France, where its most influential exponent was Madame Guyon. She preached her doctrines to members of the French aristocracy, winning a convert and friend in Madame de Maintenon, Louis XIV's second wife, and an ally in Archbishop Fénelon. Another quietist was Antoinette Bourignon. The essence of quietism is that perfection lies in the complete passivity of the soul before God and the absorption of the individual in the divine love to the point of annihilation not only of will but of all effort or desire for effort. Molinos talked about an entire cessation of self-consciousness, and Madame Guyon maintained that she could not sin, for sin was self, and she had rid herself of self. Molinos and his doctrines were condemned by Pope Innocent XI in 1687. A commission in France found most of Madame Guyon's works intolerable, and in 1699 Pope Innocent XII prohibited the circulation of Fénelon's book, the Maxims of the Saints.

See W. Backhouse and J. Janson, comp., Guide to True Peace … Composed Chiefly of Writings of Fénelon, Guyon, and Molinos (1946).

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Quietism

Quietism. Used broadly of any spirituality that minimizes human activity and initiative, leaving all to the will of God. More strictly, it is applied in Christianity to the teaching of certain 17th-cent. writers, especially Miguel de Molinos (condemned in 1687), but also Mme. Guyon and Archbishop Fénelon. In its essence, it takes teaching about the importance of simple surrender to God's will (characteristic of contemplation) out of its context as the end-result of a life of moral discipline and participation in the sacraments. Christian perfection is attained by contemplatio passiva infusa, in which the powers of the self are suspended, to be replaced by God himself.

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"Quietism." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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quietism

quietism Mystical Christian movement begun by a Spanish priest, Miguel de Molinos, in the 17th century. It achieved great influence in 17th-century France and in the Wesleyan movement in 18th-century Britain. Its adherents believed that only in a state of absolute surrender to God was the mind able to receive the saving infusion of grace.

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