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Abstract

Recogimiento and the Memory of God examines the development of the interior, experiential prayer practice of recogimiento in sixteenth century Spain as described in the multi-volume work "The Spiritual Alphabet" by Francisco de Osuna. Focusing on how this unique practice regarded the capability of the lay reader to reform his interior state through careful and rigorous exercise of the mental faculties, I argue that Francisco de Osuna settles this type of prayer in a larger sixteenth century debate on the capability of the human believer before God. The practice of recogimiento is based on an active theological anthropology that assumes the mental faculties of the believer can be reformed by directed spiritual exercise in order to draw the believer closer to union with God. My discussion focuses on Francisco's specific use of the faculty of memory. He builds on an ancient understanding of that faculty to position it as the site of union with God due to its openness to training and its power in organizing the past and present for the service of the interior, affective states. Recogimiento and the Memory of God argues that Francisco's unique prayer practice offered lay Spanish Catholics a spiritual exercise which privileged their intact, active mental faculties and also provided an interior, experiential spirituality.

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