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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Pain

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(MYSTICAL), a certain indescribable agony which has been believed by mystics to be necessary to prepare them for a state of rapture. "This mysterious pain," says Mr. Vaughan (Hours with the Mystics), "is no new thing in the history of mysticism. It is one of the trials of mystical initiation. It is the death essential to the superhuman height. With St. Theresa the physical nature contributes it much more largely than usual; and in her map of the mystic's progress it is located at a more advanced period of the journey. St. Francis of Assisi lay sick for two years under preparatory miseries. Catharine of Siena bore five years of privation, and was tormented by devils besides. For five years, and yet again for more than three times five, Magdalena de Pazzi endured such aridity that she believed herself forsaken of God. Balthazzar Alvarez suffered for sixteen years before he earned his extraordinary illumination. Theresa, there can be little doubt, regarded her fainting-spells, hysteria, cramps, and nervous, seizures as divine visitations. In their action and reaction body and soul were continually injuring each other. The excitement of hallucination would produce an attack of her disorder, and the disease again foster the hallucination. Servitude, whether of mind or of body, introduces maladies unknown to freedom." "These sufferings," adds the same writer, "are attributed by the mystics to the surpassing nature of the truths manifested to our finite faculties (as the sun-glare pains the eye); to the anguish involved in the surrender of every ordinary support or enjoyment, when the soul, suspended (as Theresa describes it) between heaven and earth, can derive solace from neither; to the intensity of the aspirations awakened, rendering those limitations of our condition here, which detain us from God, an intolerable oppression; and to despair, by which the soul is tried, being left to believe herself forsaken by the God she loves." (See MYSTICISM).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Pain'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/p/pain.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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