What is mysticism?
Mysticism is the direct experience of God's Presence. What has historically been called mysticism in Christendom and academia sometimes goes under different labels in contemporary churches. We've heard the following phrases applied in religious life to aspects of mysticism:
"walking in the Spirit"
"deepening one's prayer life"
"listening to God"
"feeling the Spirit, feeling the Presence"
Our work also encompasses the content areas of:
WHO ENGAGES IN MYSTICAL OR CONTEMPLATIVE PRACTICES?
Most of the world religions have a mystical component that points to direct experience of God. In the Christian tradition, this teaching and practice stretches back through Old Testament prophets, Jesus and St. Paul, St. Anthony of the Desert, Dionysius the Areopagite, St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila, and many others, down to modern day teachers like Evelyn Underhill and Thomas Merton. Contemplative practice is not meant to replace existing discursive prayer or participation in faith community. Instead, it is an intentional, daily means of consenting to the presence and action of God within.
Many come to contemplative or mystical Christianity through a mentor relationship, sensitivity to an internal and intuitive call, a dissatisfaction with concepts and language as a means of communicating the experience of God, and a burning desire for nothing short of direct experience of God. It may come through a prolonged, quiet calling, a sudden loss, or an inner strain. There are as many ways of beginning this path as there are contemplative practitioners.
WHAT IS CONTEMPLATIVE PRACTICE AND HOW DOES IT WORK?
Contemplative practices come in many different forms, including Lectio Divina, Centering Prayer, Welcoming Prayer, The Jesus Prayer, The Examen, Christian Meditation, and others. We now offer a course online about them.
Contemplative Prayer is always taught as a grace, an internal process of God drawing near to the extent we make room. The inner transformation is not based on our own act of will, though there are disciplines we engage in to help us become open to the process of transformation.
WHAT EFFECT DOES CONTEMPLATIVE PRACTICE HAVE?
Contemplatives tend to expand in humility and graciousness. Through deep insight into our inner nature, the common inner transformation includes growth in the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)
DO YOU BELIEVE IN THE BIBLE?
Yes. We recognize the Bible is one corner of the triangle of faith, which also includes tradition and experience.
ARE YOU AFFILIATED WITH ANY PARTICULAR MOVEMENT OR DENOMINATION?
No. We are ecumenical and non-denominational.
WHAT IS YOUR THEOLOGY?
Our efforts are focused on practice than belief systems. In contemplation, openness to the divine transformation involves temporarily suspending our thoughts. But we probably lean more towards Arminian than Calvin, more Albert the Great than Thomas Aquinas, more Plato than Aristotle.
OK, SO WHAT IS YOUR contemplative SPIRITUAL Direction?
We are spiritual guides for people interested in going deeper into their journey in contemplative Christian spirituality and growing in their inner life as it interfaces with the monastic and mystic Christian tradition in a modern context. Often, there are not enough services for this at churches and monasteries, and Pastoral Counselors usually deal more with life issues than mystical practice. Much of the literature on Christian mystical practice can seem inaccessible for modern life. In general, we share what has worked for us, as well as our knowledge of religious traditions. Much of the territory you are travelling through, we have traveled through. And we're here to tell you -- this journey is worth it!