Aelred of Rievaulx possessed a personal charm which drew friends and disciples naturally to him. His own experience of human weakness in a worldly life at the court of King David of Scotland made him sensitive to the doctrine of charity which he found among Cistercian monks. The Mirror of Charity gives us a solid theology of the Cistercian life. Because the divine nature is love, as the Bible tells us, directing our love to God-love conforms us to the image of God that has been lost through sin. All love, to Aelred, is a participation in God-love that leads us to union.
Aelred of Rievaulx was born in the borderlands of Northumbria was raised at the royal court of Scotland. While traveling in King David’s service in 1134, the restless young man visited Rievaulx, a new foundation of the Cistercian monks in Yorkshire. The next day he returned to become a monk, and thirteen years later became abbot. In this second volume on spiritual friendship, written near the end of his life, Aelred completes his early treatise and shares his mature experience of the love of his companions and the love of God.
Meditation on Christ's humanity and a letter of instruction on a disciplined spiritual life for his sister, epitomize Aelred's gentle spirituality. His pastoral prayer reflects a man conscious that he is accountable to God for the souls of others.
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