Monday, August 20, 2007

Demystifying Mysticism

A mystic is not someone who walks around with their head in the clouds, thinking profound thoughts 24 hours a day or who has lost touch with the world around them, that is not true mysticism that is simple day dreaming. Some of the greatest Mystics in the Catholic Church were very practical people, they were not fanciful and given to whimsy. St. Teresa of Avila could never be described as whimsical or fanciful this was a Saint who very much had her feet planted firmly on the ground.

St. Teresa was a very practical woman, who needed to travel long distances to make sure her Order was maintaining it's spiritual integrity and to encourage her fellow Sisters. This strong willed Saint also had to deal with the residing Priests and Bishops of each Dioceses, which took a lot of skill in the diplomatic area of respecting and being obedient to those in positions of authority. Teresa was a steely woman of immense courage and intellect, one could never term such a woman as 'fanciful' or given over to day dreams.

A true mystic is not one who becomes so coldly distant to those around them that their very persona is chilling and icy, that is not ascetics it is quietism, which the Church repudiates. A mystic is a soul who is passionately in love with God, and is not afraid to express this Divine Passion to all they meet. They are also not caught up in the daily travails of inconveniences but instead see beyond the complaint to the blessing that God is teaching them. Mystics are those who live in the present moment they do not pine for yesterday's or tomorrow's.

The person who has surrendered themselves to God, and live fully present to the Divine do so by way of the Cross. But what sets the mystic aside from others is that the true Mystic does not run away from their cross but fully embrace it without allowing the taint of bitterness to corrupt or impede God's fiery holocaust of their imperfections. In affect they do not allow their emotions to lead them astray when situations can become fraught and difficult, nor do they grow faint and lose faith when God hides His Holy Presence from them. The Mystic instead waits upon God with trust and Confidence not in their own goodness, but in God's Goodness and Divine Love.

From their own sufferings the mystic learns compassion, faithfulness and empathy for those who also struggle on their faith journey. They also have been freed from running with their emotions to a more disciplined lifestyle of prayer, solitude and openness to those who suffer, in full knowledge of the purgative pain of learning the truth about oneself. God will reveal our hidden wounds and bear our own souls to an inner scrutiny that is excruciating as the Divine cleanses us of our imperfections and impediments that stand in the way of God's Grace.

The true Mystic has a vibrant and joyous personality. They live lives of great passion for love of God alone, for they do not depend on the world to give them validation, but instead rely on God solely. This does not make them unaware of their immediate surroundings but instead leads them to a deeper discourse with the Divine, as they intercede for those who are in need, and for the salvation of souls.

The soul that is in love with God is a soul that journey's forth boldly but with utmost humility in full awareness as to what they have received from God. They go forth with the innate responsibility to speak God's Truth without artifice. They exude an inner vitality and beauty though they may not have the requirements of superficial 'prettiness', but their spirit enlivens their face which brings forth vivacity in their expressions. Their personality is such that they draw people to them or they drive people away from them, not because they are fearsome, but because corruption cannot stand in the presence of that which has been purified by God.

But the most important component of any Mystic is a good sense of humour. The ascetic may walk around with long and gloomy faces, but not the Mystic, whose whole soul illuminates the indwelling Spirit and has gained the ability to laugh at the ridiculous without losing decorum.

Though many of our great Mystics encountered divine visions, revelations and mystical union with God, still their souls spent more time in aridity than they did in the mystical realm of the supernatural elements of mysticism.

In short those who live a mystical life are those who no longer focus on the ego but are fully alive to the present and the opportunities that present itself in their day to day lives. They face life in all practicality whether it be fortuitous or in adversity. Their beliefs are not shaken, as they combine prayer with a life of action, and walk with confidence and humility of what they have been given and by whom....from a loving God.