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Greetings to all who love to wander along the paths of the Holy Scriptures! The purpose of this blog is to share some of the insights of ordinary Catholics who have begun to delve into the mysteries of the Sacred Scriptures. Hopefully you will find these reflections inspiring and insightful. We are faithful to the Church, but we are not theologians; we intend and trust that our individual reflections will remain within the inspired traditions of the Church. (If you note otherwise please let me know!) Discussion and comments are welcome, but always in charity and respect! Come and join us as we ponder the Sacred Scriptures, which will lead us on the path into His heart, which "God alone has traced" Job 28:23.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Jesus is Calling You to Become a Mystic

Jesus is Calling You
to Become a Mystic
by: Deacon Paul Rooney

I suspect that most people think that the mystical life is for “those other folks,” I.e., that amorphous group of holy people that our imaginations connect with a halo, a starry far-off look, and perhaps a prie-dieu.  I also think that it would surprise those very same “most people” to discover that everyone is called to the mystical life.

I have been meditating on these words of Jesus: “Unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3, NRSV; Wednesday, 19th Ord. “B”).  Certainly he is talking about both the physical life and the spiritual life.  Jesus is calling us first to convert from our life of selfish inclinations, and abandon ourselves to Him.  It is a path to eternal life easy to describe; but it is also difficult to persevere on such a path.  Yet that is precisely what the spiritual life is all about: seeking and surrendering to the God who dwells within us.  Thus the advice of Jesus translates simply into conversion and new life (cf. CCC 2784-5).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Paul_de_la_croix.jpgI desire to share with you in this short article some pertinent words and thoughts about this mystical life.  They really originate from the great Italian mystic, St. Paul of the Cross (d. 1775), as well as members of his religious order (the Passionist Fathers).  They resonated with me too much to keep them for myself.
We all know that birth comes before death.  Nevertheless, in the life of the spirit, it is just the opposite: mystical death comes before mystical life!  You will remember that even the Martyrs are remembered on the anniversary of their physical death, not birth.  For St. Paul of the Cross, death is not an end, but a beginning.  Mystical death was the fullness of detachment, from all that is created, all that is not God.  Mystical life is the new life that begins after our death to self-gratification.

Then comes the logical question: aren’t we supposed to love everyone, as Jesus taught us, and love the world that God created, and take care of it so that it will serve the needs of all?  Mystical language tries to describe what is experienced, and does not always use terms that are explained for everyone’s understanding.  Mystics like Paul of the Cross speak of the goal of living in the uncreated Good, God himself.  When we abandon ourselves, totally detached from the contentment found in things of the world, we are in the area of pure faith.  We seek His divine pleasure, not our own contentment.  As you can see, Paul of the Cross focuses on true detachment: not so much from creatures or people, but from our own satisfaction from them, from our own instinctive self-seeking.

Paul of the Cross connects both mystical death and this new mystical life with the concept of spiritual childhood (Matt. 18:3 cited above).  He asks each of us to choose to surrender ourself to the divine will, abandoning ourself like a baby on the loving bosom of God.  What a wonderful image: becoming a baby!  Babies are docile: they let themselves be carried everywhere by their mother.  They also have total freedom from care; they know and expect that the mother will take care of absolutely everything they need.  Such is our God!

Then comes the surprise: Paul connects spiritual childhood with the Passion of Jesus; he says that we can understand the Passion only if we are childlike.  Non-Christians think the cross is folly (1 Cor 1:21-24); but a childlike spirit “catches the message of love and doesn’t look for any other reasons” than love.  So Paul urges us to become like trusting little children.  God will “nourish us with the milk and most sweet wine of holy love, which inebriates” us with a “holy drunkenness.”

How can I react to such love?  I can respond to God’s invitation to become a mystic.  I must willingly die to the selfish satisfactions that I seek every day, become like a little child, and drink the milk and wine of His love.  I can also pray daily to the Holy Spirit that He transform me into the image of Jesus, an image and reality that is also one of a childlike mystic.  That prayer is in accord with His will, and therefore it will be answered!

Deacon Paul Rooney with his lovely wife Patricia
 Check out his website "The Deacon's World" at:  


  1. Thank you, Deacon Paul. The greatest of Sufi mystic poets, Jalalludin Rumi, wrote,

    "I died as mineral and became a plant
    I died as a plant and rose to animal
    I died as an animal and I was a man
    Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?"

    In St. Paul's kenosis hymn in his letter to the Philippians(2:5-11), he describes Jesus's emptying and humbling of himself, and how his descent even unto death brought him to the realm of dominion and glory. And Paul call's us to be of that same mind, to do what Jesus did.

    If I understand mysticism at all, I take it to mean that our faith must be more than intellectual assent to creedal statements and doctrine.I am also called into a trust in the generosity and abundance of God's love for me, and a willingness to "fall into God", "to live and move and have [my] being"(Acts17:28) in him.

    I can never be certain about what I think I may know about God. I expect that I'm not even close.Maybe accepting the limitations of my intellect is what the prophet Micah was referring when he told us,"to walk humbly with our God".(Micah6:8) But I believe that when I open my heart to Him, and stop comparing, clinging,judging and measuring, and simply let myself "be", I am the beloved of the Beloved.

  2. Thanks, Bob. The word that best describes (for me) our willingness to "accept," "walk humbly," "be open," and simply "be" would seem to me to be "surrender" - at least from A Catholic viewpoint.
    -Blessings, Paul


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