Heloise of the Paraclete’s commentary on, and ‘so-called’ critique of the Benedictine Rule is situated within her Letter VI of the later correspondence with Abelard. Through her perception of nature and perception of creation, her reading of the Rule provides a unique example of the possibility for women to discover their own subjectivity within their embodied condition. I intend to make a case for establishing Heloise as not simply disposing of, or going ‘beyond the Rule of Benedict to Scripture itself to find authority for the religious life’, as Mews asserts, rather, she is its supreme interpreter, commentator and faithful advocate particularly in terms of Benedict’s understanding of the discretionary role of the Abbot/Abbess. Far from merely ‘dwindling into virtue’, Heloise continues passionately to engage issues surrounding women’s subjectivity within a monastic context of renewal and innovation.
Augustine’s view of sexuality is a source of contention among 20th-century scholars. Although Augustine has traditionally been understood to limit the function of sexual relations to procreation, theologians and historians increasingly contend that elements of his thought allow for a view of these relations as legitimately tied to love, friendship, or pleasure. This essay argues that it is possible to read Augustine as connecting marital sex to love and friendship, but not as defending sexual pleasure. I contend that this reading allows for a view of love as embodied and natural, in spite of Augustine’s concerns about sexual pleasure.
Aelred of Rievaulx, following Augustinian teaching and vocabulary, presents drama of the world on the background of the love of God, which reflects the order of creation, violated admittedly by the sin of man, but restored by the grace of God. In the framework of this order enters a range of entities which, according to their own nature, head to their own goals. This concerns the whole world and especially man. For this last one the order of nature becomes the order of friendship, the subject of which Aelred dedicated a special work about friendship, a unique exception in that time. The rational and free entities are incorporated to God through love and friendship. In this lay their particular privilege and happiness. However, after sin, now there is an ascetical work which draws man to this goal, allowing him to repose ultimately in the eternal rest (Shabbat) of God. This way through the restoration of a man it has comes back freedom to whole creation.