Genuinely spiritual (1305-1311)

After the hubbub over the controversy had worn off, Arnau de Vilanova wrote his most spiritual works. The resumed his reflections on the verus fidelis. The concept of “true Christian” became the leitmotiv of this entire period: he defined it, drew its consequences and promoted it in a variety of spheres. Counter to the merely sociological Christianity of those who only say they are Christian more out of social custom than conviction, Arnau suggested a Christianity that is felt inside yet is also highly committed to society. If Jesus Christ gave an example of humility, charity and poverty, of ignoring the things of this world, of avoiding honours, the Christian should follow this same pathway. The Christian should imitate Jesus Christ and become a “small Christ” (christinus).

Arnau realised that the Christianity of his day was often very superficial. Therefore, it had to be reformed, and to do this, plans had to be drawn up for kings, the Holy See and specific groups of Christians. The Beguins tried to live a kind of Christianity quite similar to what Arnau preached.

The moderate spiritualism of the early period was becoming more radical. Arnau de Vilanova contrasted the celestial and material realms increasingly and more adamantly. Not only will human beings truly become a person and child of God when they act according to their spirit, but they therefore have to be capable of elevating themselves over the material reality which, if it masters them, situates them on the same level as the beasts. The true Christian loves the celestial and rejects the earthly.

Calvari Huguet Illustration:Calvary panel in the Altarpiece of the Transfiguration by Jaume Huguet, in the Cathedral of Tortosa (1466-1475). Source: Wikimedia.
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