I have always been intrigued by Christian mystics. I thought that the Christian Mystics were those who have had visions or mystical exxperiences of Christ. Some Mystics have had visions. I am studying about Christian mystics throughout history. The original meaning of the word was mysteries of a cult or ritual. It changed over time to a person who had mysteries from experiences of God. In the time of Constantine it changed once more to Christian Mysticism, he said the phrase referred to biblical, liturgical, and sacramental connotations, and often denoted the hidden presence of Christ in the scriptures, liturgy, and sacraments. Fast Forward to Karl Rahner, a Jesuit priest who influenced the Catholic Church with his brilliant theological mind and was a part of Vatican II, said something to the effect that if there are to be any Christians in the 21st century they will have to be mystics. He did not believe the structure of the Church would be enough for them. He believed that the scripture and sacraments would help to reveal the wisdom of God to ordinary people, to mystics.
Sister Noel, a Dominican nun, spoke on a podcast I listened to for class about Christian Mysticism. Her definition had nothing to do with visions and extraordinary experiences. Instead she defined Christian mysticism as the experience of the presence of the transcendent God in the everyday stuff of the human life (prayer, teaching, repairing the car) the person who sees in the human experience the presence of God as a love inviting them to live in the love that created each person. The mystical sense is the perception of a God who meets us in the joy, confusion, and heartbreak of human experience.
A Christian Mystic then is one who has a foundation of God’s word and witnesses God in every day life, continuing to deepen their intimate relationship with God daily. This means I am a Christian Mystic!!! I have not had any visions or crazy experiences. But St. John of the Cross said that the visions are distractions and should be set aside because humility is extremely important in our relationship with God. Dr. Egan, an expert in Christian Mysticism said, “Christian mysticism is a way of life that involves the perfect fulfillment of loving God, neighbor, all God’s creation, and oneself. It is the fundamental human process through which one becomes fully authentic by responding throughout life to a God who gives himself unconditionally as love and as the ultimate destiny of every person.”
Karl Rahner is right there are lots of Christian Mystics, those of us who love God, read and attempt to understand his word, meet Christ where he is in the sacraments, and search for him daily. We don’t always do this alone, it is supported by community and lifted up by God. You are part of the Christian mystics if you read this all the way to the end! You are attempting a closer relationship, with an understanding of God’s word, the history of this idea, this blog is a form to see God in the ordinary every day life!