A number of years ago, I happened on Bl. Angela of Foligno’s (1248-1309) writings and was absolutely bowled over by them.
Her Italian-Franciscan untidy love for God mixes with her brilliant mind and stunning eloquence. She is patroness (aka ‘mistress’, which is the feminine form of ‘master’) of theologians, reminding those of us who dare to claim the title Theologian that ‘theology’ is, first and foremost, meant to be a first-hand, insider’s knowledge of the living and fiery God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that ravages the willing theologian and makes him/her like God. Or drives the unwilling theologian into madness.
It’s why I never am tempted to think of my work as anything other than undeserved gift, an unsought calling and a sacred burden.
A great and representative Angela quote where she refers to her state of union with God:
God is the one who leads me and elevates me to that state. I do not go to it on my own, for by myself I would not know how to want, desire, or seek it. I am now continually in this state. Furthermore, God very often elevates me to this state with no need, even, for my consent; for when I hope or expect it least, when I am not thinking about anything, suddenly my soul is elevated by God and I hold dominion over and comprehend the whole world. It seems, then, as if I am no longer on earth but in heaven, in God.
Pope Benedict said a few words about her that are a good taste test: