Tuesday, 12 June 2012

16a : The unavoidable mystical dimension of Christianity 1

Some people might argue that there is no “mystical dimension” in Christianity. Others would say that “there is one”, but that it is “not for everybody”. Others will claim: “we can’t describe ‘mystical’”, so we remain in the obscurity, or worse: with the “ambiguous”.

Let me start by defining what do I mean here by “mystical dimension”. In front of a phenomena that is very difficult to describe, where two (or more) beings are truly, but mysteriously (and strangely), united, or intricated, one doesn’t have other words to use than “mystical”. It is like saying: “hidden”, “difficult to describe”, or “ineffable”.

Let me take two examples that will very easily help us get closer to this dimension in Christianity. Again, this dimension is so fundamental that if we empty Christianity of it, Christianity won’t be anymore Christianity.

* The first example I will take is Communion.

Two mystical acts were willingly performed by Jesus:
1- one day, He took some bread and said: “this is my Body”.
2- The second, no less “crazy”, is when He said: “eat it”, so “I can live in you and you in me” (John 6).
Lets face it:
1- A loaf of bread is not a human being. Not even a divine Being.
2- Eating a human (or divine) Being is a very strange act. How would you do it? What will happen if you do it?

This is what I call “mystical”: it is something very real, but as difficult to grasp. And it is still very dynamic, active and transformative. Jesus says that the human being, in order to be complete, needs more, needs to be grafted in another bigger being: Jesus. When Paul of Tarsus says: “it is not me who lives, but Christ who lives in me”, he embodies in this expression the very essence of the mystical aspect of Christianity. You’ll certainly agree with me, that this is not just “a secondary aspect” in Christianity. It touches its essence. It is not an optional aspect.

The contact that God wants to make with us is not an intellectual or notional contact. It is a deep, real, transformative contact. First God becomes a human being, he takes a human nature (without changing His Divine Nature). Second: He wants to be united with us, he wants to transform us in Him. On the Cross He will unite Himself with each one of us. This will be performed by the mysterious (mystical) Action of the Holy Spirit, the Master of  anything Mystical.

* Let us take a second example, that precedes “Communion” and is at its core: Baptism. Baptism says Saint Paul is to be immersed in Christ, it is to participate to His Death, and therefore experience the transformative Power of His Resurrection. Baptism is a Seed, Jesus in us, who will grow in us. The new being in us, or “the new man”. This Divine Seed, planted in us, needs to grow until it reaches its fullness.
All this is “mystical”. Difficult to grasp. Real, indispensable, unavoidable. It allows us to get so close to Jesus, to get united to Him. And yet, if from one side we feel we can’t escape from it, we struggle to describe it.

How would you describe this necessary union between Christ and us, union that is not confusion, that doesn’t cancel our freedom, but fosters it, union that we don’t feel directly?

To rap all this in one thing: just ask any fervent Catholic or Orthodox faithful to describe to you what he or she feels right after Communion, right after having received the Body and Blood of Jesus: they will all agree to say that this very moment is the highest point of the day or the week. That it is indeed the most intense moment. The moment when they are the closest to Jesus, to God. The moment when they feel that their prayer is answered. They often feel peace. They would like this moment to last.
I would simply call this moment: a simple, daily or weekly, mystical moment. Real, but difficult to describe. Happening in the deepest part of ourselves, but it is not shown to the conscious part. But still some great peace and closeness do still “leaks” to the conscious part. Some real change in the exterior part does happen if we allow it.

We are here at the essence of Christianity, at the unbreakable nucleus that constitutes Christianity. Christianity is indeed “mysticalin its essence. So please, let us not hide from this dimension, let us acknowledge it. God, in Christianity, is not a remote Being in which one believes or not. No. He is not a set of Dogmas. He is a Being. United with whim we are more complete. Just try Him.

How would you describe the way we are we united with him? - “Mystically”. Deep in us (you can’t directly grasp it), but truly united with Him. He is truly in us, and with us. “dwell in Me” says Jesus. “without me you can’t do anything” (John 15). Quite a statement. It is a mystical statement that shows the mystical dimension of all our day.

Here is a mystical Prayer:

Soul of Christ, santify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O good Jesus, hear me.
Within your wounds, hide me.
Never let me be separated from You.
From the malignant enemy, defend me.
At the hour of death, call me; and bid me come to You.
That with your saints I may praise You forever and ever.
(St. Ignatius Loyola)

Lets face “mystical”.

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