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Christian Mysticism: Not a Program but an Invitation

by Carl McColman

Carl McColman

While difficult to explain in brief, “mysticism” can best be described as the spiritual encounter with the mystery of God.

Christian mysticism points to the “mystery of Christ” – a phrase that appears numerous times in the New Testament. This mystery is not a puzzle to be solved; rather, Christ is a person to be loved.

The great contemplatives of the past were often monks, nuns, or hermits living in the desert. Today, more and more ordinary Christians – lay and ordained, men and women – feel called to seek a deeper, richer relationship to the mystery of Christ, found in prayer, meditation, and the silence of the heart.

We Christians call ourselves the Body of Christ, and Scripture says we have the mind of Christ. What does this mean? How does this mystery transform us and equip us to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves? These are questions that Christian mysticism explores.

The first basic dimension of Christian mysticism is the great heritage of wisdom found in the writings and teachings of the renowned mystics: Francis of Assisi, Julian of Norwich, and Thomas Merton, to name a few. These and other great teachers throughout history represent a lineage of wisdom extending from New Testament times to the present.

The other basic dimension of mysticism is the contemplative practice of the spiritual life – entering into the mystery of Christ, cultivating a sense of God’s silence in our lives.

Of course, mysticism is not a program, or a method. Rather, Christian mysticism is an invitation, to enter more deeply into our relationship with God, with Christ, with the mystery of love.

Listen to Carl McColman speak more about Christian Mysticism in this short video clip

A retreat exploring mysticism can be a safe space where we can attend to, and befriend, the treasure of silence in our own hearts. See details of the upcoming course, Wisdom of the Christian Mystics, February 16-19, by clicking here