Today’s blog explores a specifically Catholic question: Is there room in the Church today for the mystic, the healer, the intuitive, the contemplative? This is a question that I unwittingly found myself in the middle of….and a question that I believe is relevant for many today. Can the Institution Church handle those called to embrace the Mystical Church? More importantly, where do those called to Be the Mystical Church find acceptance and support.
When I was a child growing up in the Catholic Church, I was safe. I could go to mass and have my private, intimate time with God and nobody was the wiser. I was content to keep these experiences to myself and in my naivite, assumed that this was everybody’s experience of the mass and of prayer. It wasn’t until I was a grown up and had to start sharing these experiences and the gifts I learned from the practices of Christian Contemplative Prayer that I discovered that many, if not most were not having these same experiences….neither did they want to. And somewhere around eleven years ago, I learned why these experiences might not be desirous for many. Being a mystic, a contemplative, a healer, and intuitive in the Institution of the Catholic Church is DANGEROUS business.
Do What We Tell you and Keep Your Mouth Shut!
The Institution of the Church is there to keep us in line, to develop rules, regulations, rituals, dogma and doctrine with the single purpose of creating consistency and predictability. For many, this creates a net of perceived safety and security that gives them a perceived sense of peace. For the mystic, these rules, regulations, etc. feel like a straight jacket, tightly bolted and keeping one imprisoned and contained. The mystic, by their very nature is obedient to NO ONE but GOD and this drives the Institution crazy! While the Institution seeks a people who will march into the church because they were told to, heads bowed in reverence and penitence, following the rituals and the rules to the letter of the law, the Mystic runs screaming down the street, “God is so awesome….God is love….God is expansive….freeing, joyful, magnificent…….come play in the garden of God with me!” The Institution shakes its head at the “disobedience” of the mystic and the mystic wonders why the Institution cannnot accept them for who they are.
Lost and Found
For me, it was this tension between the Institution and the Mystic that cast me out of the Institutional Church and into the world of seeking, exploring, wondering. After years of “fighting” for a place within the Institution, I found I could no longer fight. I was a mystic, a healer, an intuitive, a contemplative and it seemed that within the Institution, there was no longer a place for me. The final straw came when I was told that the work I was doing (Contemplative prayer and Hands-on Healing) was dangerous and potentially “the work of the devil.” Fortunately, I knew better, but it was no less heartbreaking to discover that your gifts were no longer welcome in the place you had called home for over forty years! The good news is that the Church is more than the Institution and that a Mystical Church exists that is available to anyone regardless of their ability to “follow the rules.”
The Mystical Church
“I have always felt that there were two histories of the Christian Church: the history of the institution with its popes and power struggles, its schmisms, conflicts and divisions, its heresy hunting and burearcracy; and the parallel history of the martyrs, saints and mystics with their devotion to prayer, humility and self-sacrifice, their freedom and joy, their boldness and their deep love for everyone and everything….Mystics, like prophets, are not appointed by any religious authority. The authority of saints, mystics and prophets has always been based upon their closeness to God. And institutional authority has always found it difficult to deal with such freedom of spirit.”
(Jesus Today, pg 73)
So, there it was. My journey in a nutshell. I was not part of the Institutional Church….never have been, never will be. I am part of what Albert Nolan would call the Mystical Church. As part of the Mystical Church, I can pray, heal, worship and serve in freedom and can do so alongside others called to this path. So today, I boldly accept my call to the Mystical Church and humbly offer welcome and support to others called to this path.
Where have you experienced the tension between the Institutional church and your own experiences of God?
What do you find life-giving within the traditions of the Institution?
What do you find life-giving within the tradition of the Mystical Church?
Authentic Freedom Ministries