I return now to my series on “mysticism.” You can find the introduction here. I have said that, whether broadly, strictly or narrowly defined, any mysticism that deserves the name Catholic must be 1) Eucharistic, 2) Marian and 3) Ecclesial. In my last post I explained what Eucharistic mysticism is. In this one I will cover Marian mysticism.
In the last post I explained how the Eucharist in a particular way shows forth the power of God to transform the soul. What God does to the gifts on the altar by transforming them into the Body and Blood of Christ, he does in an analogous by our participation in the sacred mysteries, especially in the reception of Holy Communion. In a similar way, the Blessed Virgin is the icon of such a transformation.
A mere creature, She is wholly divinized by grace from the first moment of Her conception, so that when the angel Gabriel appears to Her at the Annunciation he calls Her Full of Grace. This means that She is the one who, already at that moment, possesses the plentitude of God’s supernatural gifts. As a mere creature, in Her Immaculate Conception, She already is the unique temple of a holiness beyond which one cannot even conceive. It is because Our Lady is full of grace that God chooses to take from Her substance the flesh of the Son of God, conceived by Her virginally through the power of the Holy Spirit. Continue reading →
This post is tangential to my mysticism series (1 & 2). It is an aid to understanding why I am writing on the subject, as well as a practical application of the principles I have been working with.
Prophecy has always existed in the Church in one form or another. Like all the charisms, when prophecy is authentic it is an aid to the magisterium’s role to sanctify, teach and govern. Prophecy requires the careful discernment of the Church, especially when it takes the form of an apparent special revelation from God or the foretelling of the future. Since the death of the last Apostle, prophecy belongs to the category of private revelation.
There also less extraordinary ways in which the spirit of prophecy may manifest itself, such as the influence that the charism of a religious institute may have on the historical circumstances in which it is given. This too is subject to the discernment of the Church. Continue reading →
Having provided a definition of “mysticism” in my first post, I now continue with a description of the characteristics of true mysticism. We can identify three primary qualities of any authentic Catholic mysticism, broadly, strictly or narrowly defined. Any mysticism that deserves the name Catholic must be 1) Eucharistic, 2) Marian and 3) Ecclesial.
This does not simply mean that true mysticism is everywhere in the Catholic Church where people who go to Mass, spend time in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and pray the Rosary. These are all foundational aspects of Catholic mysticism, but by themselves they do not guarantee its authenticity. These external acts must be real signs of full communion with the Church, an active effort to conform oneself to the life of Christ, and to do so by allowing the Immaculate Virgin to form Jesus within us. True mysticism does not support fundamental and willful inconsistencies in these matters.
It is necessary here to see the analogous relationship between the different definitions of mysticism so that we can accurately discern between the true and the false. In this post we will focus on the Eucharistic aspect. (Again, here is the link to the page with the various definitions of mysticism.) Continue reading →
I am diverting slightly—just slightly—from my “mysticism” series in the interests of swatting away some unhelpful mist (the kind that ends in schism). I am moving from the bench of speculative reflection to my soapbox, just for this one post.
The early Church protected the sacred mystery of the Eucharist from the misunderstanding and profanation of pagans by the disciplina arcani, “discipline of the secret.” This meant that the newly baptized were not introduced the mystery of the Real Presence in the Eucharist until just before they received Holy Communion for the first time. In the context of the Church’s persecution, the pagan misunderstanding of Holy Communion as an act of cannibalism could have dire consequences for both believing Christians and those who needed to be evangelized.
So the motives for this discipline were that of reverence and humility. The practice was eventually abandoned. Even so, since the time of Our Lord’s discourse on the Bread of Life in John 6, there has been this tension between the frank and unapologetic proclamation of the full truth about the Eucharist and the need not to throw our pearls to the swine. Continue reading →
Update: I have expanded the introduction in a way that I hope will be helpful to understand why I am writing this series. The addition is between the red brackets.
With this post I am beginning a series on the notion of mysticism in its true and false senses and the practical implications that flow from both. The word “mysticism” and its cognates are bandied about a lot without a proportionate amount of understanding, and for that reason we get ourselves into a great deal of trouble.
There are underlying issues around the discussion of mysticism regarding the more general question of the relation of nature and grace that this discussion will help us to think about more clearly. For example, I believe that the clarifications given here may help us to restore a sense of the sacred while avoid confusing the merely natural with the action of God. It might also help us clarify the relative value of theological opinions vis a vis the magisterial authority of the Church, as well as discern between true movements of the Holy Spirit and those which are merely human, or even demonic. Continue reading →
The series is now complete. All the videos are in the side bar as well.
The purpose of this series is to extract, examine and meditate upon the Catholic ideals of the Knights Templar in order to draw out the true “mysticism” of chivalry found there and to dispel the nonsense that has proceeded from the Freemasons and conspiracy theorists.
Recently, the Theology of the Body Institute conducted its first national congress, during which the triumphal march of the new chastity catechesis pressed forward–in spite of the fact that the movement’s avatar, Christopher West, was absent, presumably to reflect upon his method of presenting the Theology of the Body. Perhaps I was naïve, but I thought West’s sabbatical meant that his critics had made some headway. Such progress, unfortunately, did not seem to be reflected at the congress. Dr. Janet Smith, for example, stated the following:
The 1st thing we need to know is God is chasing us down like a lover. Every lover is a pathological stalker. God is a stalker.
Am I quoting out of context? I would like to know in what context the comparison of God to a pathological sexual deviant would be appropriate. Please note that the above statement was published as a tweet by the congress organizers themselves. So this is what they themselves decided to feed the public. Continue reading →