Consistent with being an expression of life, it remains and will continue to be… a work in progress.
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Skip to content. The fabled mystical path is right where you are. In its correct sense, mysticism recognizes the ability to receive, without benefit of outside aid, a communication from God, to receive direct guidance, to commune with God.
There is nothing of the occult, nothing of the mysterious, in mysticism. Correctly understood, mysticism is the language of all metaphysical teachings , because it is the teaching of conscious oneness with God. Support our work and become a valued spiritual partner on the path. Our spiritual partners are uplifted and sustained in God-Consciousness every time we go within in meditation.
Today marks the end of the Christian year. Next week Advent begins. Advent that season of making room in our hearts to welcome the Prince of Peace, the One born in the Bethlehem stable, the One who came to save you, save me, and save the world. We do not prepare so that we can simply remember this birth.
The Eckhart Society: His Teachings | Eckhart
We prepare so that we can be changed by it. And, if this is to happen, we need to put the Bethlehem birth alongside all of the other things we have heard, known, and lived because of the One whose name we carry. To remember is to help us put everything in context. Help us to recognize how a spiritual life, a life of faith, is both personal as well as corporate. How as humans who seek to follow Jesus faithfully, has puts us on a path that is both known and hidden.
Yet this past season we have pondered a lot of the components of what being a Christian is, and today is a day where we begin the task of putting it all together. A task that will continue during our Season of preparation that Advent is for us. A spiritual life is so much more than simply singing certain songs and marking the special days on a calendar. In our gospel reading this morning we are brought to those last moments of Jesus on the cross. We would much rather sit around a manger than a cross. Yet to make sense of the manger, we need to make sense of the cross — we need to remind ourselves that there would be no Christmas if there was never an Easter.
That with the gift of the Spirit there is no death so big, whether that is physical death or the death of our wishes and dreams that cannot be redeemed and brought to life in new ways. For Luke, every day is a chance to start over — to start fresh — to begin again by letting the past failures go, so that we can once again begin to live into the divine vision of people healed and a world made whole through peace and justice.
For Luke, living in to that vision is what eternal life is — it is the kingdom for which we pray for and strive for — and it is what makes Christ our king.
Only the Mystics Can Save Christianity Now
Not a king in the sense of coercive power over — but of power with and within. The power of love that is unleashed when we follow the One who taught us a more excellent way to live. Inspired by Christ's teaching and example, men and women withdrew to the deserts of Sketes where, either as solitary individuals or communities, they lived lives of austere simplicity oriented towards contemplative prayer. These communities formed the basis for what later would become known as Christian monasticism.
Mysticism is integral to Christian monasticism because the goal of practice for the monastic is union with God. The Eastern church then saw the development of monasticism and the mystical contributions of Gregory of Nyssa , Evagrius Ponticus and Pseudo-Dionysius. Monasticism, also known as anchoritism meaning "to withdraw" was seen as an alternative to martyrdom, and was less about escaping the world than about fighting demons who were thought to live in the desert and about gaining liberation from our bodily passions in order to be open to the Word of God. Anchorites practiced continuous meditation on the scriptures as a means of climbing the ladder of perfection—a common religious image in the Mediterranean world and one found in Christianity through the story of Jacob's ladder —and sought to fend off the demon of acedia "un-caring" , a boredom or apathy that prevents us from continuing on in our spiritual training.
Monasticism eventually made its way to the West and was established by the work of John Cassian and Benedict of Nursia. Meanwhile, Western spiritual writing was deeply influenced by the works of such men as Jerome and Augustine of Hippo. The High Middle Ages saw a flourishing of mystical practice and theorization corresponding to the flourishing of new monastic orders, with such figures as Guigo II , Hildegard of Bingen , Bernard of Clairvaux , the Victorines , all coming from different orders, as well as the first real flowering of popular piety among the laypeople.
The Protestant Reformation downplayed mysticism, although it still produced a fair amount of spiritual literature. Even the most active reformers can be linked to Medieval mystical traditions. Martin Luther , for instance, was a monk who was influenced by the German Dominican mystical tradition of Eckhart and Tauler as well by the Dionysian-influenced Wesenmystik "essence mysticism" tradition. He also published the Theologia Germanica , which he claimed was the most important book after the Bible and Augustine for teaching him about God, Christ, and humanity.
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Meanwhile, his notion that we can begin to enjoy our eternal salvation through our earthly successes leads in later generations to "a mysticism of consolation". But the Reformation brought about the Counter-Reformation and, with it, a new flowering of mystical literature, often grouped by nationality. No breath of suspicion arose against Molinos until , when the Jesuit preacher Paolo Segneri, attacked his views, though without mentioning his name, in his Concordia tra la fatica e la quiete nell' orazione.
The matter was referred to the Inquisition. A report got abroad that Molinos had been convicted of moral enormities, as well as of heretical doctrines; and it was seen that he was doomed. On September 3, he made public profession of his errors, and was sentenced to imprisonment for life.
Contemporary Protestants saw in the fate of Molinos nothing more than a persecution by the Jesuits of a wise and enlightened man, who had dared to withstand the petty ceremonialism of the Italian piety of the day. Molinos died in prison in or An example of "scientific reason lit up by mysticism in the Church of England"  is seen in the work of Sir Thomas Browne , a Norwich physician and scientist whose thought often meanders into mystical realms, as in his self-portrait, Religio Medici , and in the "mystical mathematics" of The Garden of Cyrus , whose full running title reads, Or, The Quincuncial Lozenge, or Network Plantations of the ancients, Naturally, Artificially, Mystically considered.
Browne's highly original and dense symbolism frequently involves scientific, medical, or optical imagery to illustrate a religious or spiritual truth, often to striking effect, notably in Religio Medici , but also in his posthumous advisory Christian Morals. Browne's latitudinarian Anglicanism, hermetic inclinations, and Montaigne -like self-analysis on the enigmas, idiosyncrasies, and devoutness of his own personality and soul, along with his observations upon the relationship between science and faith, are on display in Religio Medici.
His spiritual testament and psychological self-portrait thematically structured upon the Christian virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity, also reveal him as "one of the immortal spirits waiting to introduce the reader to his own unique and intense experience of reality". Arndt, whose book True Christianity was popular among Protestants, Catholics and Anglicans alike, combined influences from Bernard of Clairvaux, John Tauler and the Devotio moderna into a spirituality that focused its attention away from the theological squabbles of contemporary Lutheranism and onto the development of the new life in the heart and mind of the believer.
Pietism as known through Spener's formation of it tended not just to reject the theological debates of the time, but to reject both intellectualism and organized religious practice in favor of a personalized, sentimentalized spirituality. Eastern Christianity has especially preserved a mystical emphasis in its theology  and retains a tradition of mystical prayer dating back to Christianity's beginnings.
The practice of Lectio Divina , a form of prayer that centers on scripture reading, was developed in its best-known form in the sixth century, through the work of Benedict of Nursia and Pope Gregory I , and described and promoted more widely in the 12th century by Guigo II. The 9th century saw the development of mystical theology through the introduction of the works of sixth-century theologian Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite , such as On Mystical Theology.
His discussion of the via negativa was especially influential. As part of the Protestant Reformation , theologians turned away from the traditions developed in the Middle Ages and returned to what they consider to be biblical and early Christian practices. Accordingly, they were often skeptical of Catholic mystical practices, which seemed to them to downplay the role of grace in redemption and to support the idea that human works can play a role in salvation, and which also seemed to come from post-biblical sources and practices.
Who can be a mystic?
Thus, Protestant theology developed a strong critical attitude, oftentimes even an animosity towards Christian mysticism. Historically, Christian mysticism has taught that for Christians the major emphasis of mysticism concerns a spiritual transformation of the egoic self, the following of a path designed to produce more fully realized human persons, "created in the Image and Likeness of God" and as such, living in harmonious communion with God, the Church, the rest of the world, and all creation, including oneself.
For Christians, this human potential is realized most perfectly in Jesus, precisely because he is both God and human, and is manifested in others through their association with him, whether conscious, as in the case of Christian mystics, or unconscious, with regard to spiritual persons who follow other traditions, such as Gandhi. The Eastern Christian tradition speaks of this transformation in terms of theosis or divinization, perhaps best summed up by an ancient aphorism usually attributed to Athanasius of Alexandria : "God became human so that man might become god.
Going back to Evagrius Ponticus , Christian mystics have been described as pursuing a threefold path of purification, illumination and unification, corresponding to body soma , soul psyche , and spirit pneuma. In , the 8th Ecumenical Council reduced the image of the human to only body and soul but within mystics a model of three aspects continued. The three aspects later became purgative, illuminative, and unitive in the western churches and prayer of the lips, the mind, the heart in the eastern churches.