Christian.Mysticism.Way

Explore the Mystical Life

Articles and Essays on Christian and World Mysticism by Carl McColman

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In Every Heart There Is A Place Of Infinite Longing.

Mysticism. Christian mysticism. Mystical Christianity. The mystical life. Mystical theology, mystical prayer, mystical experience...

If we take the renowned 20th century theologian Karl Rahner seriously, mysticism — the contemplative dimension of Christian spirituality and discipleship — is a topic we should all be taking seriously. For Christians, the mystical dimension of our faith may be the key to personal spiritual growth, and also a means to more fully embody the wisdom teachings of Jesus in today's world, teachings that have social as well as personal implications.

Even if you're not a Christian, this topic will give you a new way of understanding both Christianity and spirituality. As the key to Christianity's future, mysticism is also the key to making Christianity a renewed force for good in the world, that even people who don't follow Jesus can respect and maybe even admire.

Follow any of the links on this page to get started, or enter your question or keywords into the search box above. Or submit your question using one of the feedback forms at the bottom of every article. Such questions often are used to develop new articles for this website.

It takes time to explore the depth and beauty of Christian mystical spirituality. It's time well spent.

We live in an age when many people say, "I'd rather be spiritual than religious." But what if there were a path where you could integrate the best of both worlds - the best wisdom and practices of a truly life-transforming spirituality, combined with the rituals, practices, and ethical aspirations of religion at its best?

Welcome to the path of Christian mysticism.

Christian mysticism is a dimension of spirituality which stresses a teaching that goes all the way back to Christ himself: "The kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:21) - and, connected to that, even further back to the beautiful wisdom of the Psalms: "Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10).

Every century since the time of Christ has been blessed with people who truly embody that "reign of God" in their hearts, and who have left behind poetry, wisdom, and teachings to help ordinary Christians to find their own path to the presence of God within - the "via mystica."

The content on this website is designed to help you learn more about the mystics - and to apply their wisdom to your life.

the-cloud-of-unknowing

What is Mysticism?

Who are the Mystics?

      • Thomas Merton
      • John of the Cross
      • Meister Eckhart
      • Julian of Norwich
      • Teresa of Ávila
      • Julian of Norwich
      • Teresa of Avila
      • Francis of Assisi
      • Margery Kempe
      • The Cloud of Unknowing
      • Thomas Merton
      • Evelyn Underhill
      • John of the Cross
      • Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
      • Meister Eckhart
      • Howard Thurman
      • John Ruusbroec
      • Hildegard of Bingen
      • Walter Hilton

What do mystics believe?

      • Mysticism and Individual Well-Being (Happiness/Holiness)
      • Mysticism and Social Justice
      • Mysticism as a Way of Life
      • Mysticism and the Fruit of the Spirit
      • Mysticism and the Embodiment of Christ
      • Why Mysticism isn’t Afraid of the Dark
      • Understanding Mystical Union and Nonduality
      • Discerning the Mystical Sense of the Bible
      • The Characteristics of a Mystic
      • Three Dimensions of the Contemplative Life
      • The Heart of Mysticism is Contemplation
      • The relationship between mysticism and faith
      • Why Mysticism Matters/The Significance of Mysticism
      • The Relationship between mysticism and (institutional) religion
      • Mysticism and Enchantment (riff on Richard Beck, Thomas Moore)

How does one become a mystic?

      • The Seven Dimensions of Relationship with God
      • The Seven Core Mystical Practices
      • Making and Keeping a Rule of Life
      • The Gift of Spiritual Accompaniment
      • Why “Becoming a Mystic” isn’t What Matters
      • Centering Prayer
      • Dimensions of Prayer
      • Lectio Divina
      • Praying with Icons
      • Spiritual Direction
      • The Jesus Prayer/Prayer of the Heart
      • Ignatian Prayer
      • Liturgy of the Hours
      • Rule of Life
      • Fasting/Asceticism/Abandonment
      • Retreats and Retreat Days, Spiritual Exercises, etc.
      • Hospitality/Almsgiving/Generosity
      • The Examen
      • Keeping a Journal

When has Mysticism Flourished?

      • Mysticism in the New Testament and Early Church
      • Mysticism in the Desert/Wilderness
      • The Monastic Tradition
      • The Golden Age
      • Mysticism Since the Reformation
      • Mysticism through 1800 (by Evelyn Underhill)
      • Mysticism since 1800
      • The Evolution of the Concept of “Mysticism”
      • The Old Testament
      • The New Testament
      • The Desert Mothers and Fathers
      • The Celtic Church
      • The Orthodox East
      • The Monastic West
      • The 14th Century
      • The 16th Century
      • The 20th Century
      • The 21st Century

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Where does Mysticism take place?

      • The Body
      • Nature/Wilderness/The Desert
      • The “Inner Room”
      • Churches, Retreat Centers, Monasteries
      • The Home
      • The City/the Marketplace
      • Overview
      • The Body
      • The Cloister
      • The Desert/Wilderness
      • The Church/Parish
      • The Home
      • The Marketplace
      • The Studio
      • The Garden
      • The Imagination
      • Hospital/Hospice (anywhere there’s a chaplain)
      • Silence

Recommended Authors and Resources

      • Evelyn Underhill, Mysticism
      • Howard Thurman, With Head and Heart
      • Martin Laird, An Ocean of Light
      • Jason Baxter, An Introduction to Christian Mysticism
      • Walter Hilton, The Scale of Perfection
      • Bernard McGinn, The Essential Writings of Christian Mysticism
      • Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation
      • Thomas Keating
      • Ruth Burrows, Guidelines for Mystical Prayer
      • Richard Rohr
      • Mary Margaret Funk,
      • Kenneth Leech
      • Bruno Barnhart
      • Cynthia Bourgeault
      • Sara Grant
      • Edith Stein

Glossary

      • Union/Theosis/Deification)
      • Purgation/Purification)
      • Dark Night of the Soul
      • Contemplation/Contemplative Prayer
      • Illumination
      • Mysticism
      • Deification and Theosis
      • Contemplation
      • Experience
      • Silence
      • Kataphatic
      • Apophatic
      • Nonduality
      • Kenosis
      • Metanoia
      • Illumination, Theoria
      • Dark Night of the Soul
      • Purgation, Katharsis
      • Visions, Voices, Locutions
      • Ecstasy, Rapture
      • Nepsis, Watchfulness
      • Henosis, Union (Unitive Life?)

Audio and Video Resources

      • Encountering Silence
      • Via Mystica
      • Schola Mystica
      • Youtube
      • Recommended DVDs
      • Video: What is Mysticism?
      • Podcast Episodes (TBD)
      • Videos (TBD)

Special Topics

      • Christian Mysticism and Interspirituality
      • Celtic Spirituality
      • Mysticism and Creativity/the Arts
      • Mysticism and Gender
      • Mysticism in dialogue with Atheism and Agnosticism
      • Interspirituality
      • Spiritual But Not Religious
      • Celtic Spirituality
      • Deification and Nonduality
      • Ecumenism
      • Eroticism and Embodiment
      • Study/Academics
      • Social Justice
      • Monasticism/Monastic Spirituality
      • Fostering a Contemplative Church
      • Reading the Bible as a Mystical Text
      • Art, writing, creativity
      • Elaine Heath/Evangelism
      • Neo-monasticism

Community Resources

      • The Shalem Institute
      • The Living School
      • Contemplative Outreach
      • World Community for Christian Meditation
      • Verbum
      • Shalem
      • Contemplative Outreach
      • SDI
      • Verbum/Logos
      • WCCM
      • Lay Cistercians
      • Lay Carmelites
      • Third Order Franciscans
      • Benedictine Oblates
      • Quakers
      • Ignatian Spirituality/Spiritual Exercises
      • The Living School
      • Esoteric and “Interior” Orders

Questions about the Mystical Life

      • Can You Combine Different Methods of Silent Prayer?
      • Do We Lose Our Identity When We Become One With God?
      • How Much Daily Silent Prayer Do We Need?
      • What is the Best Church for Christian Mysticism and Contemplation?
      • What is the Best Method for Silent Prayer?
      • Do I have to be a member of a church to be a Christian mystic?
      • Why do mystics talk about purgation or purification?
      • What are the boundaries for interspirituality and Christian mysticism?
      • How can I practice mysticism in a secular setting?
      • How can I tell if I am progressing/growing?
      • What are the pitfalls I need to watch out for?
      • How do I find a spiritual director?
      • How can I tell if I’m making progress?
      • What are the stages of the mystical life?
      • Is charismatic spirituality mystical?
      • What is the monkey mind, and how do I deal with it?

EMBRACE SILENCE • EMBODY LOVE

THE • SPLENDOUR • OF • UNKNOWING

THE • EDGE • OF • WAITING


Assorted Mystical Topics

  1. Abba/Father
  2. Accidie
  3. Acquired Contemplation
  4. Addiction (cf. Gerald May, Addiction and Grace) and Letting Go
  5. Adoration
  6. Agape (Love, Community, Koinonia, Friends)
  7. Angels/Messengers/Nine Choirs
  8. Anointing of the Sick
  9. Anthropology (what mysticism says about human nature)
  10. Apatheia/Passionlessness
  11. Apophatic
  12. Aridity
  13. Asceticism
  14. Baptism
  15. Beatific Vision
  16. Beatitudes
  17. Bible
  18. Chanting
  19. Charismatic
  20. Christ/Messiah/Anointed
  21. Church/People of God/Koinonia/Body of Christ
  22. Cloister
  23. Communion (Eucharist, Beatifying Communion)
  24. Communion of Saints
  25. Community
  26. Compassion/Perfection/To Love as God Loves
  27. Confirmation
  28. Consciousness
  29. Consecration
  30. Consolation
  31. Contemplation
  32. Cosmos/Creation
  33. Creativity
  34. Belief/Creed
  35. Daily Office
  36. Darkness/Unknowing
  37. Death
  38. Deification/Divinization/Theosis
  39. Demons, Evil, Spirits who are not your friend
  40. Desire (Sacred and Profane)
  41. Desolation
  42. Detachment
  43. Devotion
  44. Discernment
  45. Disciple/Follower/Student/Friend/Lover/Beloved/Faithful
  46. Discipleship/Following Christ
  47. Distraction
  48. Dualism
  49. Dying (to Self)
  50. Earthiness
  51. Ecstasy
  52. Emergence
  53. Enthusiasm/Drunk on the Spirit
  54. Epiphany/Breakthrough
  55. Eros
  56. Eschatology
  57. Eternity/Eternal Life
  58. Ethics
  59. Eucharist
  60. Experience
  61. Expression/Storytelling
  62. Extraordinary Experiences/Supernatural
  63. Faith
  64. Fasting
  65. Forgiveness (also: Reconciliation)
  66. Fruit of the Spirit
  67. Gender
  68. God/Source/Font
  69. Grace
  70. Gratitude
  71. Ground Rules for Exploring Mysticism
  72. Healing (also see Salvation)
  73. Heart, Prayer of the Heart
  74. Heaven Consciousness
  75. Hell
  76. Hesychasm, Hesychia
  77. Holiness
  78. Holy Orders/Consecration/Religious Vocation
  79. Holy Spirit
  80. Holy Trinity
  81. Hope
  82. Hospitality
  83. How to think/act like a mystic (the Magic Eye painting effect)
  84. Humility
  85. Ikons
  86. Illumination
  87. Immanent
  88. Incarnation
  89. Infused Contemplation
  90. Inspiration/Insight
  91. Interiority/Interior Life (cf. Wilber’s four quadrants)
  92. Interreligious Dialogue
  93. Intimacy
  94. Introduction
  95. Jesus/Yeshua/"The Son"
  96. Jesus Prayer
  97. Joy
  98. Judgement
  99. Kataphatic
  100. Kenosis
  101. Knowledge/Gnosis
  102. Lectio Divina
  103. Light
  104. Logos/The Word
  105. Love (see Agape)
  106. Love of Neighbors/Love of Enemies
  107. Marriage/Mystical Marriage/Bridal Mysticism
  108. Mary/Blessed Mother/Divine Feminine
  109. Meditation
  110. Mercy/Works of Mercy
  111. Metaphors of Mysticism
  112. Miracles
  113. Misunderstandings/What Mysticism is Not
  114. Mixed Life
  115. Morality
  116. Mortification
  117. Mystery
  118. Mystical Body of Christ (also see Church)
  119. Myths of Mysticism
  120. Nature/Earthiness
  121. Negative Mysticism/Agnosis
  122. Nepsis/Watchfulness
  123. Nonduality
  124. Paschal Mystery
  125. Perseverance
  126. Pilgrimage/Mysticism as a Journey
  127. Poetry
  128. Praxis/Practice
  129. Prayer
  130. Presence
  131. Prophecy
  132. Providence/Daily Bread/God's Ongoing Care
  133. Purgation
  134. Purgatory
  135. Purity (as an aspect of holiness)
  136. Quietism
  137. Recollection
  138. Reconciliation (Sacrament)
  139. Redemption
  140. Reign of God/Kingdom of God
  141. Repentance
  142. Resurrection (of Jesus/of mortals–of the Body)
  143. Revelation
  144. Retreat
  145. Rule of Life
  146. Sacramental Principle
  147. Sacraments
  148. Sacramentals
  149. Sacrifice
  150. Salvation/Healing
  151. Sanctity, Sanctifying Grace
  152. Savior (Jesus's Role)
  153. Service (Diakonia)
  154. Seven Deadly Sins
  155. Seven Virtues
  156. Silence
  157. Simplicity
  158. Sin/Resistance to God
  159. Solitude
  160. Speculative-Affective Synthesis
  161. Spiritual Direction
  162. Spiritual Formation
  163. Spiritual Warfare
  164. Study
  165. Suffering
  166. Suffering Servant (Christ)
  167. Ten Commandments
  168. Three Ways (Purgation, Illumination, Union)
  169. Tradition
  170. Transcendent
  171. Transfiguration
  172. Trust
  173. Understanding (Gift of the Holy Spirit, and “understanding mysticism”)
  174. Unitive Life
  175. Vision/Visionary Experiences/Apparitions
  176. Vocal Prayer
  177. Vocation/Call/Calling
  178. Voices/Locutions
  179. Vulnerability/Undefended Life
  180. Waiting (Irish concept: "the edge of waiting")
  181. Will, Willfulness, Willingness
  182. Will of God/Divine Will
  183. Wisdom
  184. Work (Ora et Labora), Chop Wood, Carry Water
  185. Works of Mercy (Corporal/Spiritual)
  186. World, Worldliness
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