Do you have any idea of the incredible gift of being loved by God?
“Mystics: a mystery of grace and freedom – gift to be shared” represents the second installment of an end of year mini-retreat based on reflections written by Vinícius Augusto Teixeira, CM of Province of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). In this section we can reflect on our awareness of being incredibly loved by God as a gift to be shared.
In what sense can someone be viewed as a mystic?
There are many possible answers to this question. No one denies the fact that there are some characteristics that will define a mystical person or an individual gifted with a lively interior life, an individual with deep convictions, enlightened by high ideals and guided by a correct conscience … all of which is expressed in a balanced personality, a coherent and persevering praxis and a constant moral fiber.
From a Christian perspective, all mystics are distinguished by their awareness of God’s mysteries, their passionate identification with Jesus Christ and their docility to the movement of the Spirit.
From this perspective, mystics are those persons who recognize the fact they have been caught up in and surrounded by an incredible Love to which they commit themselves.
At the same time, this Love clarifies their understanding, mobilizes their will and engages their freedom.
This Love is not to be confused with some cosmic force, with some fleeting sentiment or some abstract concept. This personal Love is God (cf. 1 John 4:8, 16) who offers him/herself to others as gift and is the source of true meaning, thus providing the human person with an all-encompassing grace and the inexpressible joy of experiencing, embracing and affirming that gift … without ever exhausting that gift.
The experience of God, the acceptance of God’s love and the knowledge of God’s mystery are developed through the following of Jesus Christ and through the reception of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Christian mysticism is not simply an interior reality or some form of emotional rapture … nor does it demand supernatural phenomenon to verify its authenticity and efficacy.
The depth of the mystic is proven by the manner in which he/she practices the theological virtues: a confident faith, a dynamic hope and a self-sacrificing love.
In other words, even though the mystics experience this gift crying out in the very depths of their being, nevertheless, mystics produce and offer to others the fruits of their experience and they do this in their daily life, in their interpersonal relationships, in ethical behavior, in the transparency of their words, in their generous commitment, in their convincing witness and in their convictions about the truth.
Therefore, mysticism is the mystery of grace and freedom, the mystery of gift and commitment, a gift that is offered and accepted … a gift in which the Lord’s initiative is united to human persons who totally surrender themselves to God who bestows upon them this gift.
Questions for prayerful reflection
- Do we really understand that we are caught up in and surrounded by an incredible Love?
- Do we connect the dots that this is a gift that is meant to be shared in self-sacrificing love?
The three installments …
- Mystics: a mystery of grace and freedom – In what sense can someone be viewed as a mystic?
- Vincent de Paul: a true mystic As we reflect on Vincent’s life, we find sketched out for us a multi-faceted mysticism that was rooted in a profound experience of God and an enfleshment of the spirit of Jesus Christ … both of which were nourished by a gradual process of conversion and tested by an unwavering fidelity to service on behalf of the poor.
- A lived and shared mysticism – Few missionaries knew how to be a mystic like Vincent de Paul, just as few mystics became as active as the prophet of charity and of the mission.
Full text Saint Vincent de Paul – mysticism
This article by Father Teixeira, CM, takes this octogenarian back to formation days at Saint Joe’s (third through sixth year) and to my half year spent in the “internal seminary”. Indeed,I fall extremely short of being a mystic; thus, I’m delighted that I shall be greeted at Heaven’s gate by our merciful Savior who is so perfectly forgiving that “He became obedient for us-even unto death on the Cross”. Nevertheless, Father Teixeira’s essay encourages me to let all the stops out on God’s love and to take opportunities to love others in His Name. In the brief earthbound time lying ahead,I hope that others will feel God’s love through my feeble attempts to bathe their wounds in the grace Our Lord is giving me to do so.
With thanks to Fr. Freund for sending this message down the line;with thanks to countless Vincentians along the way for conveying God’s grace,and with thanks to catholic and evangelical Lutherans for being the means of His grace during my older years,I remain,
Faithfully & Gratefully..
Ed Ambrose (St. Joe’s,AA,1957)