Benedictine writer on ascetical theology
Fr Augustine Baker OSB (9 December 1575 – 9 August 1641), was a well-known Benedictine mystic and an ascetic writer. He was one of the earliest members of the newly restored English Benedictine Congregation.
Fr Augustine Baker was a well-known Benedictine mystic and an ascetic writer. He was born in Abergavenny, and educated as a Protestant at Christ's Hospital and at Oxford, where he took up the study of the law. Later, becoming a Catholic after some strange spiritual experience, he gave up his work and went to Italy to become a Benedictine monk. For many years he traveled between England and the Continent, giving to the houses of his Order the benefit of his legal knowledge, and also of his spiritual treatises.
In his sixty-third year he was sent on his last mission to England. At that time, in 1638, a summons to the English mission was a summons to martyrdom; but Father Baker's struggle was not only against persecution, but also against bad health. Three years after his arrival in England he was on the point of being apprehended when he was struck by a contagious fever which scared away his pursuers. He died in concealment, not technically a martyr, but undoubtedly the victim of religious persecution.
Works by Augustine Baker
As a Catholic priest in 17th century England, Augustine Baker lived in constant danger. His persecutors followed him wherever he went to pray and profess religion. This collection of ascetical treatises exhibits the breadth of Baker's spiritual teachings. Baker's first treatise advises Christians to live an internal life with God as their guide. The second treatise describes the process of mortification, by which the ascetic person strengthens the will to overcome the desire for sin. The third treatise focuses on prayer, illuminating the usefulness of different types of prayer and meditation. Baker believed that the continued practice of holy exercises draws Christians close to God. His persuasive treatises urge Christians to develop their spiritual lives with the observance of prayer, mortification, meditation, and contemplation.
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