Christian mysticism is when people want to feel close to God and have a special relationship with Him. They do this to become more spiritual.
What Does Mysticism Mean?
Mysticism means believing that you can know God really well from inside yourself. It’s a concept found in many different religions. In Christianity, it’s a specific way of thinking.
What Is a Christian Approach to Mysticism?
1. Christian mysticism focuses on joining with God through inner desires, soul, and love. This means that sometimes people stop focusing on who they are and instead focus on God’s character and personality to shape their identity.
2. The Christian spirituality that involves being alone and quiet is called mysticism. Solitude means being alone and away from other people. It can help you be closer to God and think about your life and any bad things you may have done. Being quiet is a way to control your words and block out anything that might take your attention away so you can concentrate on God.
3. Christian mysticism encourages contemplation of God, leading to more personal intimacy with Him. During contemplation, God imparts a deep awareness of himself. Mystics claim to interact with God in a more direct and immediate dimension that goes beyond traditional forms of prayer, the sacraments, Bible reading, etc.
4. Christian mysticism sometimes involves giving up material comforts, such as not eating or sleeping on the ground. It can even mean deliberately hurting oneself to resist the body’s and the world’s temptations.
5. Christian mysticism involves using all five senses and can sometimes involve sexual feelings. This feeling is very personal and hard to explain using words, because it is very special and important.
6. Christian mysticism is when people feel very happy and close to God. They describe it as being filled with God’s love, becoming one with God, feeling God’s presence, and feeling like they are in a wonderful place.
7. In Christian mysticism, people sometimes have dreams or see things that seem real. They might see saints, angels, or Mary, and feel like their soul is leaving their body. Its final goal is the ‘beatific vision of God,’ the face-to-face encounter with God in heaven, as described in 1 John 3:2; Revelation 22:4; and Matthew 5:8).
Are Contemplative Practices Christian Mysticism?
Christian contemplative practices, which are like meditation practices described in a book called Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster, are similar to Christian mysticism in some ways. In both situations, they:
1. Encourage the believer into a deeper union and understanding of God’s love and spirit.
2. Place a high value on silence and solitude to contemplate God and one’s life.
3. Use your five senses to connect with God and discover who He is. This can happen in different situations, like when we see beautiful things made by God (like a sunset or flowers), or when we look at a piece of artwork.
Contemplative practices involve things like being stable, coming together as a community, being kind and welcoming, taking care of the earth, reading religious texts slowly and thoughtfully, praying in a meditative way, and taking part in religious ceremonies.
Christian mystics put a lot of importance on things like controlling their bodies, having spiritual visions, and feeling really close to God in a way that’s different from just praying or doing religious ceremonies.
Contemplative practices and mystical experiences are similar in some ways, but not always. You can be a contemplative without being a mystic, but you can’t be a mystic without being a contemplative.
Who Are Some Famous Christian Mystics?
1. TTeresa of Avila started 14 religious places and wrote 3 books. She talks about going to a special place with God where the soul feels really calm and can also feel strong pain.
2. JJulian of Norwich was a spiritual advisor who wrote a book called “Revelations of Divine Love”. The book has sixteen visions that Julian received in 1373. Julian said she saw Jesus bleeding and she understood more about how much He suffered and loved.
3. John of the Cross was a writer and religious person who lived a long time ago. He wrote a book called the Spiritual Canticle while locked up in jail. It talks about feeling really connected with God in a special way.
4. Thomas Merton was a person. A monk from America who was Catholic passed away in 1968. He wrote about eastern religions and the spirituality of Native Americans.
5. The person who wrote The Way of the Pilgrim is not known. This book is about a person who went on a long trip through Russia and Siberia in the 1800s while praying to Jesus non-stop to feel close to God.
Five Foundational Scriptures for Mystics
Christian mystics may cite various Scriptures that discuss intense experiences with God or the experience of becoming unified with him. Here are five of the most common ones.
“On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” (John 14:20)
“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” (John 16:13)
“I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows—was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell.” (2 Corinthians 12:2-4)
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” (2 Peter 1:3-4)
Eight Pitfalls of Christian Mysticism
1. Sometimes, mystics try to find secret messages in the Bible that might not be there. In simpler words, they don’t think about God being in charge as much as they think about God being with them. They may choose to emphasize the love of God and ignore His greatness and perfection.
2. Sometimes, people who think deeply about spirituality might forget to do good things for others and for the world. Sometimes they want to be alone a lot and because they have a special connection with God, they may stay away from the church and other
3. Mystics can feel like their experiences with God, such as seeing things, learning things, and feeling very connected, are just as important as what the Scriptures say. If someone’s religious experience doesn’t match what’s in the Bible, then it’s just their own personal opinion. Mystics can hear from God, but they might say things that are too flashy and not true about what God is saying for their own life and others.
4. Some people called mystics may mix themselves up with God. People who want to be close to God might think they are becoming like God in a spiritual way instead of being a good person like God.
5. Mystics may choose to focus on quiet meditation and improving their own inner self instead of studying and understanding the Bible through intellectual means. They may focus more on feeling love for God instead of using logic, because they don’t trust people’s thoughts.
6. Some people who look for God think that only they are special enough to communicate with God in a way that others cannot. They may believe they are better than
other Christians because of this.
7. Mystics might be very strict with themselves, have firm beliefs, and judge their connection with God by how hard they treat themselves.
8. Many people in the Christian religion who think deeply about spiritual things are usually part of the Roman Catholic Church. They talk and write about things that some people might find difficult to accept, like praying to Mary and believing that they have to do something extra to be forgiven for their mistakes.
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