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June 30 is the Feast of Bl. Ramón Llull (1232-1315), a Majorcan Franciscan tertiary who contributed in a special way to the life of the Church and the intellectual culture of Christendom. A former troubadour, he had a recurring mystical encounter with the Crucified Lord and underwent a conversion of life culminating in a mystical revelation of a combinatorial logical art, a forerunner of computational science, as a means of demonstrating religious truths to the infidels, and to deepen the understanding of Christians.

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Llull learned the Arabic language and studied Sufism and the major Islamic philosophers, and he focused much of his efforts on the evangelism of Muslims and Jews, and to that effect he lobbied successfully for the instruction in Arabic and Hebrew at western universities. He personally aspired to preach to the Muslims, and there is a pious tradition to the effect that he was stoned to death while trying to do so, by a mob in North Africa. At the very least, he authored works in the Arabic language (as well as Catalan and Latin), but the Arabic manuscripts are now lost.

He was a prolific author, in fact he is counted as the father of Catalan literature, and an original thinker in many areas, bringing him into occasional conflict with theologians, but he always remained a faithful son of the Church. His broad mind and zealous heart were among the first to articulate the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, which is first known to appear in his writings, and which he taught publicly at the University of Paris.

But it is his book The Book of the Lover and the Beloved that I find most personally striking. It is a series of short meditations, almost aphorisms, the distilled fruit of his earnest mystic longing for God, and with language shaped by the troubadour and Sufi.

Quote:The lover asked Understanding and Will which one was closer to his beloved. They both started running, and Understanding reached his beloved before Will.

Ramón Llull, pray for us.