Saturday, November 14, 2009


I post here on Modern Mysticism far less frequently than on my other blogs, especially Blest Atheist, which I try to keep up with near daily. Here, unless I feel an external compulsion, I hesitate to add a post because I often feel that I am in over my head. I don't completely understand the mystic phenomena that I experience or live within, nearly always being surrounded by a diaphanous cloud that is, to me, the Presence of God. I feel like I need to reflect upon what happens, but reflection does not take me very far. The more I try to understand, the more I simply get pulled into the diaphanous ether without explanation but with such a warm feeling of love, of being "home"," of safety, and of mutual desire, that I instinctively stop thinking and just start "being." I try to learn more through reading, but it appears that God reacts with each author and each person differently so I have not, to date, found a complete match. I talk to the people in my spiritual circles -- God has blessed me with many -- but most think I need to be medicated (and these are spiritual people; if I were to mention these experiences to the rank-and-file on the street, I probably would be hauled off and medicated). I occasionally come across individuals who have had similar experiences (but not identical; as with the authors I read, it appears that God more often prefers unique, rather than common, experiences, at least with me and the people I know). I do thank God for putting these folks (whom I had not known earlier) in my life. It is enough, then, for me not to pronounce myself definitively crazy.

Just to make sure, I suppose, because I am such a hard-headed person, God gave me a couple of very special priests, with whom I can discuss mystic events and be taken seriously, even helped, in some cases, to determine authenticity, which is a very important thing to me. I also read and re-read and re-read both St. Theresa of Avila's works on authenticity and Fr. Thomas Dubay's wonderful book by the same title, Authenticity. Fr. Thomas Dubay's book helped me understand that I was not rejecting God by seeking to determine whether what I experience is real or not real. In fact, he suggests that all mystic happenings be treated as questionable until they can be examined together with a priest. Thank God, I have two who will do that with me, one of whom, Fr. Barry, is local and ready to listen and reflect at any time, the other of whom, Fr. Kevin, is a bit of a drive away but conducts the contemplative prayer sessions that I find so mathemagenic and formative.

I was in the midst of contemplative prayer, albeit more distracted than usual, this morning when I felt compelled to write this post. I thought (moment of distraction during the prayer) that I would write it after the 20 minutes that I had set aside for contemplation had passed. (Whoa! Note the arrogance! I had decided how much time I would spend in contemplation with God. Should it not have been the other way around? I mean, I do have to plan around a busy life, don't I? Ah, there is that arrogance again -- I should not be too busy for God; I should be grateful that God is never too busy for me. This is the second time this week this lesson has been dropped into my head, and I probably should heed it.)

Anyway, the more I tried to stay within a contemplative frame, the more I felt compelled to write this post. Finally, I decided that perhaps God was sending a message to his hard-headed lover and that I should just get up and obey. (If it was not a message, then no harm done, either.)

The topic I felt compelled to discuss is "intimacy" -- not intimacy with other people, but intimacy with God, a concept I would have laughed at a few years ago before my conversion. I have since met many people who would laugh at it now. I do not laugh at it now because I have experienced it. Describing it, though, is something for which I fear I do not have adequate words. Simply put, I experience it as the Presence Without joining the Presence Within. It is as if I am surrounded by a Diaphanous Cloud that all of a sudden I realize is no longer outside me but within and throughout and all around me, sort of like walking into a big, penetrating bubble, but I did not do the moving. At the risk of raising some eyebrows at my choice of comparative metaphor, I would say that this experience for me approximates the intimacy of sex without the involvement of the sexual organs but rather reflects those aspects that for one brief moment in time allow two people to become one. I wish I could describe this gift of intimacy in a purer fashion because it is a purer experience than I am describing here, perhaps than I am capable of describing.

Since I cannot do better at description than the above, I am going to retire from this post to read more and to research more. Oh, and to give God access to me whenever He wants it!

And you?


  1. I'm trying to stop talking through the Rosary, in my mind I mean. I'm already talking whilst praying, obviously, but often aware of another conversation and once or twice have heard(interiorly)'Shhhh', spoken ever so gently. i fancied it was Our Lady.
    Enjoyed this post.

  2. I believe the Lord works with every person in a different manner because every person is unique. It can be hard to put some of these experiences into words because there are no earthly comparisons for them as they are spiritual in nature. Sometimes they overflow into the body as we are also physical beings. I believe all people are called to union with God, it is the only thing that makes sense to me as we are all His children. I am not saying all people reach this state, simply that total abandonment to Him is what we are called to and if we live in the Divine will this union comes about naturally through God's love for us. Thank you for your post, I am interested in other people's experiences with God's love.

  3. Elizabeth, you are certainly blessed. I've tried so hard (reading the journeys of the great mystics), and then again, tried not to try, in my efforts at meditation. I do (kinda sorta) get there sometimes - gracious, it's like I'm grading myself.

    Anyway, I'm so glad you have someone (or two) to speak with about it, as well as helpful advice from reading. I look forward to your future posts, as well as looking back at the few others you have done.

    And really, I've known people to have the most startling experiences with God. I never get used to hearing them - but I know He's still reaching out in both the expected and unexpected ways. Another reason to be glad.

  4. Shadowlands, it seems that this happens to a lot of people a lot of the time. I belong to a contemplative prayer group, and that is one of the biggest complaints. I, too, am easily distracted sometimes. It depends on what else is going on in my day/life. There are other times, though, without distraction, and I come away from those prayer sessions a different person - rested, with great inner peace, and sometimes resolve about one or another tasking.

    Mary, those times of union are so powerful that I don't want to be separate again. On the other hand, there are times that I pull away and don't really know why. More growth is needed, I suppose.

    Pennyak, I think a lot of it is up to God. We can make ourselves available, pray (especially listen -- I love the quiet times right after Eucharist, where you can pray but also don't have to say anything but just rest in God and enjoy His presence). I was blessed with being able to feel His presence -- that was what converted me. And I have been blessed with feeling His presence most of the time. (Which is different from union.) I love having Him to turn to not only on an abstract level, but also a concrete one. I know that not everyone is blessed in this way, and therefore I am very grateful. Could everyone be blessed this way? I think so, but I am no authority. I think constant prayer helps. I maintain a running dialogue most of the day -- and when I don't, things don't go nearly as well. God bless and be with you, Pennyak.

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