Preaching a Practical Spirituality – A Sermon by Johannes Tauler (14th Century, published in 1515/16)
Many of the sermons of Johannes Tauler (c. 1300-61), a German Dominican from Strasbourg, were preached to nuns and Beguines in the city of Basel. His teaching is more concrete and practical than that of his teacher, the great Meister Eckhart (Eckhart von Hochheim, c. 1260-c. 1328). Tauler turned Eckhart’s principles of negation and his denial of the world into a more positive theology of engagement in the life of the world. He found many followers in the Friends of God lay circles that flourished in the cities of the Rhine Valley, especially Basel, Strasbourg, and Cologne. Tauler’s sermons were much admired by Martin Luther, who annotated and published an edition of them in 1515/16. At the time, Luther was an Augustinian friar in Erfurt. Like The German Theology, Tauler’s sermons belong to a German tradition of spiritualizing (and often mystical) religious teaching that became relatively popular among both clergy and some laity, chiefly in monasteries and towns. In this Ascension Day sermon, Tauler guides both the religious (monks, friars, nuns, and Beguines) and lay people alike toward a living spirituality founded on faith and obedience.