Christian Mysticism: A study on Practical Applications
Mysticism is the art of union with Ultimate Reality. The mystic is a person who has attained that union in greater or less degree; or who aims at and believes in such attainment.
May the words we post here and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in Your sight, our Lord and our Redeemer. Amen.
We are now studying Mystical Theology, by Dionysius the Areopagite.
This is a topical study and we have kept the threads of previous books that we have studied, for reference by latecomers. For convenience, the previous books we have studied are listed below.
Way to Christ, by Jakob Boehme.
Theologia Germanica, an anonymous work written probably just before the reformation.
Dark Night of the Soul, by Saint John of the Cross.
Fire of Love, by Richard Rolle of Hampole.
Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi, by Ugolino.
Cloud of Unknowing, by an anonymous early English author.
Scale (or Ladder) of Perfection, by Walter Hilton.
Practical Mysticism, by Evelyn Underhill.
Interior Castle, by Saint Teresa of Avila.
And therefore swink and sweat in all that thou canst and mayest, for to get thee a true knowing and a feeling of thyself as thou art; and then I trow that soon after that thou shalt have a true knowing and a feeling of God as He is.
Meekness in itself is nought else, but a true knowing and feeling of a man’s self as he is.
AND, therefore, if thou wilt stand and not fall, cease never in thine intent: but beat evermore on this cloud of unknowing that is betwixt thee and thy God with a sharp dart of longing love, and loathe for to think on aught under God, and go not thence for anything that befalleth. For this is only by itself that work that destroyeth the ground and the root of sin.
Venial sin shall no man utterly eschew in this deadly life.
…..if this sudden stirring or thought be not smitten soon down, as fast for frailty thy fleshly heart is strained thereby
Insomuch, that when thou weenest best to abide in this darkness, and that nought is in thy mind but only God; an thou look truly thou shalt find thy mind not occupied in this darkness, but in a clear beholding of some thing beneath God.
and if he be good, and with his sweet tales doth me so much good withal, then I have great marvel why that thou biddest me put him down and away so far under the cloud of forgetting?”
for it sufficeth enough, a naked intent direct unto God without any other cause than Himself.
By love may He be gotten and holden; but by thought never. This is one of my favorite quotes from the book.
AND if ever thou shalt come to this cloud and dwell and work therein as I bid thee, thee behoveth as this cloud of unknowing is above thee, betwixt thee and thy God, right so put a cloud of forgetting beneath thee; betwixt thee and all the creatures that ever be made.
And our soul by virtue of this reforming grace is made sufficient to the full to comprehend all Him by love
LIFT up thine heart unto God with a meek stirring of love
...hold thee never the holier nor the better, for the worthiness of this calling and for the singular form of living that thou art in.
Of four degrees of Christian men’s living; and of the course of his calling that this book was made unto.
Fleshly janglers, open praisers and blamers of themselves or of any other, tellers of trifles, ronners and tattlers of tales, and all manner of pinchers, cared I never that they saw this book.
Charity and Humility, then, together with the ardent and industrious will, are the necessary possessions of each soul set upon this adventure.
“What is the use of all this?”
Thus dying to your own will, waiting for what is given, infused, you will presently find that a change in your apprehension has indeed taken place: and that those who said self-loss was the only way to realisation taught no pious fiction but the truth.
“And here,” says Ruysbroeck of the self which has reached this point, “there begins a hunger and a thirst which shall never more be stilled.”
You are to push back the self’s barriers bit by bit, till at last all duration is included in the widening circles of its intuitive love: till you find in every manifestation of life—even those which you have petulantly classified as cruel or obscene—the ardent self-expression of that Immanent Being whose spark burns deep in your own soul.