Modern day mysticism?
#1
How does Catholic mysticism compare from today and last 2 centuries, to Catholic mysticism in the Middle Ages (such as Julian of Norwich) and the Counter-Reformation (such as St. John of the Cross or St. Teresa of Avila)?
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#2
Heart 
(07-12-2017, 01:48 PM)Sequentia Wrote: How does Catholic mysticism compare from today and last 2 centuries, to Catholic mysticism in the Middle Ages (such as Julian of Norwich) and the Counter-Reformation (such as St. John of the Cross or St. Teresa of Avila)?

Following this thread. The same question's been on my mind recently. And as a side note, there've been several topics here at Fisheaters recently posted that have coincided with my thoughts about them... I love when that happens.  :heart:
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#3
It is the same. There are different people and different situations but the call to holiness is the same.
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#4
The flowering of Spanish mysticism in the 15th and 16th century definitely marked a change in (Western) mysticism. Before, there had been many mystics, but no one had developed a system or concrete guidelines on how to arrive at the highest forms of union with God.

Moreover, before the advent of Carmelite spirituality, mental prayer and direct communication with God was often discouraged by confessors. Medieval mystical treatises are either descriptions of vivid visions and locutions (St. Hildegard, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Francis, etc.) or forms of wordless, imageless prayer that (superficially) seemed to resemble Zen Meditation (Master Eckhart, 'Cloud of Unknowing'). St Teresa and St. John of the Cross developed a system which has found a sane middle ground between these two extremes. On the one hand, they recommended meditation on the life and death of Jesus (using the instructions by St. Ignatius of Loyola). On the other hand, they gave instruction on how to 'allow' God to subtly act inside the soul. They really taught us how to 'develop a personal relationship with Jesus', the way Jesus wants us to relate with him, which is inside the sacramental life of the Church.


If there is a moment when the mainstream of Catholic mysticism changed in the modern times, it was not in the 19th century, but in the 1960s. Thomas Merton was maybe the greatest mystical writer of the last century, at least in his early spiritual career ('New Seeds of Contemplation', 'No one is an island'). But somewhere in the 1960s, he started to develop an unhealthy interest in Buddhism. After his death, there was a variety of American Trappist monks who continued his legacy. Thomas Keating developed "Centering Prayer" and John Main promoted so called "Christian Meditation". Those techniques are very popular nowadays and are in fact Buddhist/Hindu meditation techniques in disguise. These methods cannot be considered authentic expressions of Christian mysticism, but present a danger to our faith.

It must be mentioned, too, that the Eastern Orthodox tradition has an unbroken mystical tradition from the times of the Desert Fathers until today, transmitted by the monks of mount Athos.
"Cor Jesu Rex Et Centrum Omnium Cordium, miserére nobis "

“To pray is to shed blood.” - Silouan the Athonite
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#5
Mysticism is itself difficult to define, which makes comparison between the mystics of different eras a challenge. I think by and large mystics are really simply those folks who have some sort of intense communion with God, and how they go about that communion, the theological system they use and their personalities are wildly varied. I think that some of the Counter-Reformation stuff is very systematized, while Julian of Norwich, St. Cuthbert or even Bernard of Clairvaux are not.

I agree that Thomas Merton was probably one of the well known "mystics" of the last century. I actually think that his early stuff is great, especially the ones JosefSilouan mentioned, as well as his earliest journals like The Sign of Jonas.  A book by Merton that sort of touches on this topic is Mystics and Zen Masters.
Walk before God in simplicity, and not in subtleties of the mind. Simplicity brings faith; but subtle and intricate speculations bring conceit; and conceit brings withdrawal from God. -Saint Isaac of Syria, Directions on Spiritual Training


"It is impossible in human terms to exaggerate the importance of being in a church or chapel before the Blessed Sacrament as often and for as long as our duties and state of life allow. I very seldom repeat what I say. Let me repeat this sentence. It is impossible in human language to exaggerate the importance of being in a chapel or church before the Blessed Sacrament as often and for as long as our duties and state of life allow. That sentence is the talisman of the highest sanctity. "Father John Hardon
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