The Mystic

mystic heart by deborah nell

Mystic Heart, art by Deborah Nell


The mystical state is one of loving. Only love can build a bridge. Graces given and received are the materials that go into making this immense, indestructible bridge between earth and heaven. The graces used call for more grace, and the bridge grows, and eyes that are quiet behold God everywhere.

But seeing is not enough. It is seeing and arising and giving all of oneself to him, in all his creatures, that builds the bridge in spans immense. A mystic is a lover, a bridge-builder, a heart made ready for the burning fire that is the Lord. A mystic is rest amid turmoil. A mystic is a broken vase that had been filled with perfumed oils and now lies in pieces, wet with tears. A mystic sees God’s love in every face; and the Father sees another, full of grace.

A mystic is a miracle of love who, at one and the same time, hangs crucified upon the hill of skulls, and rises up in Christ’s ascension, and rests upon the heart of God. The mystic alone can stand the burning coal upon his lips, the burning coal of love and fire that cleanses and makes it possible for men to hear the voice of God again, spoken as men speaks. A mystic is a vessel of peace, while he himself is nothing but a flame of pain.

A mystic is a humble soul to whom belongs the earth as well as heaven. A mystic is silence enclosed in speech. He serves all men, and is served by angels. A mystic bears the seal of God, yet doesn’t know he is a mystic, except to catch an echo here and a glimpse there, of things unseen, unheard by other men. Such are mystics, builders of bridges and houses of love.

~ A Meditation by Catherine Doherty, ‘Madonna House Apostolate’

The Mountains of the Lord

Head of Christ, art by Leonardo da Vinci 1495

‘Head of Christ’ , art by Leonardo Da Vinci 1495

Innocence never lost and innocence restored—
these two went up the mountains of the Lord.
And I addressed them, glowing and intense:
under the auspices of innocence
what amid holy places did you see?
And the untarnished spirit answered me:

I saw a city gleaming on a hill,
and one triumphant road divined its site.
I saw a fire no storm could ever still,
feeding upon the branches of delight.

I heard a Harp pluck its own serenade;
I drank the Living Water from cool streams.
I breathed the Wind that blows far down earth’s shade
The scent of petals from eternal dreams.

Tables were spread on greensward and in grove
with Bread the angels coveted afar.
I walked beneath the shadow of a Dove
who made a marriage with a Morningstar.

Then I went upward where the summits glistened,
lighted by love, the unconsuming flame.
I heard a Voice, and when I stopped and listened
it was the Bridegroom’s voice and called my name.

I questioned innocence renewed by grace:
What did you see on hills beatified?
What voices heard you in the holy place?
With words of light the penitent replied:

Under the night’s impenetrable cover
wherein I walked beset by many fears,
I saw the radiant face of Christ the Lover,
and it was wet with tears.


~ A poem by Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit (Jessica Powers), O.C.D. (1905-1988)






A Season of Rebirth

Helebores - Lenten rose

Lenten Rose in a winter garden (photo source unknown)

First Sunday of Lent,
A Meditation

As we hear the story of the Fall in Genesis 2:7-9, 3:1-7, the same question that God asked Adam confronts us: ‘Where are you?”

In a Hasidic story, an atheist persistently tried to catch the village rabbi in theological snares but always failed. One day the atheist asked, “Rabbi, is it true that God knows everything?” “Yes, my son,” said the rabbi, “God knows everything.” “Rabbi,” the atheist continued,” is it also true that after The Fall, God asked Adam, ‘Adam where are you?’ “Yes, my son, that is also true,” the rabbi replied. The atheist smiled, thinking that he had finally caught the rabbi in a contradiction. “But rabbi,” said the atheist, “If God knows everything, then why did God have to ask Adam where he was?” “My son,” said the rabbi,” ‘Adam, where are you?’ is not a question for information but for reflection.”

“Where am I?”, a perennial question of life, encompasses many other questions. What am I doing with my life? Does it have any purpose or lasting significance? What does it all mean? These questions and those like them distill into one haunting question: When I come to die will it make any difference that I have ever lived? This question takes on a more somber hue the older we become. And if we ask ourselves what we must do for our life to have permanent significance, the answer is so simple that it evades us. We must live the one, unique life that God has entrusted to us.

There is another Hasidic story about rabbi Zossimus, who tried all of his life to be like Moses, David or one of the prophets. His inability to achieve his goal frustrated and depressed him. One night in a dream, an angel appeared to him and said, “At the last judgement, God will not ask you why you were not Moses or David but rather, why you were not Zossimus.” God wanted Zossimus to do one thing—the same thing that he had asked Adam or Eve to do—tend the garden that was given to them and not to be deceived by unreality.
“And you shall be like gods!” Tending the garden that God has entrusted to us, no matter how humble, is no mean and insignificant enterprise, for it affords numerous opportunities to love.

Each of us finds ourselves situated at a juncture of time, space, and circumstance unique to us alone; we are entrusted with opportunities to love to which no one else has been assigned. An old saying notes that there are many occupations in the Body of Christ but only one vocation—the vocation to love. Love is our true work no matter what our task; it is the only thing that gives our life ultimate and lasting significance. Regarding love, “Where are you?”

~ By Marc Foley, O.C.D.

Wishing you all a very reflective and blessed season of Lent!