Learning The Art of Mysticism – Spiritual Awakening
By Marion Sinclair-Simpson
Everything begins with prayer
Practiscing Mysticism involves learning to spend time in meditative prayer and praise, singing hymns, psalms and worshipping God. Mysticism will often bring with it the gift of inner locution, hearing angelic voices, and also the gift of visions. To reach the highest level of Mysticism we must have already invested a great deal of time meditating on Scripture and emptying ourselves of fears and physical longings and now focus on going deeper into prayer.
Praying as children pray
Initial prayer is simple, we make requests of God to supply us with food, clothes and shelter. We ask Him to keep us and our families safe. We learn to trust that our needs will be supplied.
As we grow in trust of God our prayer life expands and now we actively thank and praise God for His providence and faithfulness in always providing for our needs, sometimes even before we make the requests. However, the prayer of the Mystic does not involve making requests of God, it takes the form of the believer coming before God in silence, with an open heart and a willing spirit, waiting on God revealing His purposes for the believer.
The Mystic makes no requests because he or she has reached the level of trust necessary to move into deeper relationship with God. A Mystic waits upon the Lord to reveal His purposes, they will be revealed through inner locution or through visions. Inner locution is when we hear God’s voice speaking in our hearts. We know that it is the voice of God, because we feel and experience the ‘peace that surpasses all human understanding’.
Learning the Art of Mysticism
Becoming a Mystic is a great privilege and a source of blessings. It involves much self-discipline and patience and can take a lifetime of practice.
The Gifts of the Holy Spirit
I have grown in my love for God, through Bible Study, studying the words of scholars and saints, learning, praying – privately and communally, and through private and public worship. I became Charismatic because I wanted to be more effusive in my relationship with God, I wanted to sing and dance if I could in His presence. Whatever gifts of the Holy Spirit had I wanted them all, asked, and received many. I seek the face of My God, because I must know Him. He reveals Himself to me in many and often unexpected ways, but constantly because He is faithful. My greatest desire is to teach others of Him and His gentleness.
Tools of Righteousness
“Prayer, (then) is woven into the life of Jesus. Not only was He a person of prayer, alone and as a faithful member of the Jewish people, but He taught people how to pray (providing His disciples and us with the Lord’s Prayer), under what circumstances (e.g. not ostentatiously in order to impress people); and for whom to pray (e.g. enemies). Jesus, finally, recommends that we pray for a whole spectrum of reasons: for the things we need, for those who oppose us, to drive out the demonic, to avoid temptations, to reconcile our brothers and sisters, that workers be there for the harvest, and finally, that we might receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Christian Spirituality, Cunningham & Egan p68
Spirituality is My Essence
Spirituality is my essence. Without it, I would be dead inside and out. Spirituality is the light inside of me that propels me forward in my quest to fully know my God and to be fully known by Him. People tell me to imitate the lives of the saints, but I do not want to become a carbon copy of anyone, saint or not. I want to be the best Marion I can be, I cannot be Mother Teresa, or Joan of Arc, or Theresa of Avila I can only be me, Marion daughter of the Most High God, called to His service, desiring to be filled with His Holy Spirit until there is no room for more. I want to be used by Him and when He calls me home I want to be completely emptied of myself, I want to have spent everything I have for love of Him and the Gospel of Christ.
“The Christian people are a pilgrim people, and our life with all its burdens and joys, had a direction that begins in God and ends with God when all things are summed up in Christ.” Christian Spirituality, Cunningham & Egan p10
When I became a baptized Catholic I was forever changed, I relinquished the reigns of my life to a Higher Power. Of course that is not to say I have not tried on occasion to wrestle to get them back but God always wins that battle. My prayer life is so much deeper than it used to be, before monotonously rhyming off the names of all my family and friends and seeking what I thought would be best for them, now praying for God’s will to be done in all of our lives. I am so much more aware that time is passing and the only important thing is not to leave this earth with my purpose incomplete.
Coming to know myself more through self-scrutiny and God revealing to me that which needs to be dealt with has brought me to a deeper level of awareness of my spirituality. I agree with the sentiments of Downey when he states, “Christian spirituality is intrinsically relational, social and, indeed, political. That is to say, that it pertains to every dimension of our lives as persons and as a people. Spirituality does not solely concern “me and Jesus.” Nor is its exclusive focus the domain of personal salvation or sanctification. Spirituality describes a way of living in Christ: being conformed to the person of Christ and being united in communion with others, the whole of creation, and with God.” Understanding Christian Spirituality, Michael Downey p103
Through study, I have had occasion to learn much about the history of Spirituality as it pertains to the Catholic tradition. Learning about the Inquisition and the Crusades and the corruption that abounded in the church at certain times was difficult. It is of course obvious that the Catholic Church was founded on the shed martyred blood of Christ and He warned us that His followers would suffer much, we all have our cup of suffering to drink.
On a more positive note I have learned much about prayer and the various forms of it some employed by the saints to great benefit. I have adopted Lectio Divina the contemplative prayer of scripture as a means of going deeper in my spirituality. I am practicing the art of intentionally listening, as Benedict encourages in the Prologue to the Rule of Benedict, “To listen with the ear of our heart.”
Be still and know that I AM GOD
God speaks softly therefore, we must attune our ears to the silence. Practicing being silent before God is the next step in my own journey. Coming to a place of letting everything go and letting God be God. I love that song, “God I must know you.” That is where my heart is at now.
Learning about, our relationship to God, to self, to others and to creation has taught me that although these are separate relationships they are also connected and of equal importance. Jesus said we cannot say that we love God but hate our brother, and if we apply that to ourselves, we must be as kind to ourselves as we are to others, and of course the creation is vitally important for the survival of life as we know it, so I have come to see everything as being interconnected and equally important.
The universal call to holiness is the constant desire to be more like God, to be used by Him and that can only happen by completely surrendering to His purposes. Serving God, others, the community and taking care of all of God’s creation.
Spirituality is hard to define because it is always in motion, we could name it as faith in action, spirituality is an opening of oneself to the Divine and allowing Him to enter in and remake us, His Holy Spirit transforming our spirits into His likeness, spirituality is God’s transcendent power at work in every aspect of our beings. Spirituality is often a solitary journey that involves much suffering but which holds the promise of ending in mystical union with Christ. What more could anyone desire?
Marion Sinclair-Simpson (c)
Lewis, C.S. Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life, Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1996 p228-229
Cunningham, Lawrence S. & Egan, Keith J. Christian Spirituality, Paulist Press, 1996, p121
Cunningham, Lawrence S. & Egan, Keith J. Christian Spirituality, Paulist Press, 1996, p68
Cunningham, Lawrence S. & Egan, Keith J. Christian Spirituality, Paulist Press, 1996, p10
Downey, Michael, Understanding Christian Spirituality, Paulist Press, 1997, p103