Twenty-five years ago, my husband discovered a book entitled \”Guidelines to Mystical Prayer\” by a British Carmelite nun, Ruth Burrows. That book changed our lives.
Ruth Burrows describes, Petra, a woman who lives only by faith without any experiences of God, and Claire, a “light on” nun who experiences mystical encounters. Both women know with absolute clarity that their core identity has shifted from ego-centric to Christ-centric. They were actually modern-day saints. The Spirit of Jesus lives in them and they lives surrounded by the Holy Spirit, plugged into the universal God.
\”Guidelines to Mystical Prayer\” prompted me to question my basic premise about the nature of reality. Its message rekindled joy in my drooping spirit then challenged me to allow God to transform me with his power and strength and not by my futile striving. Prior to reading this book, I had tried to become a saint, but to no avail.
My husband and I poured over this book, reading it again and again, soaking in every nuance, digging out every morsel, every detail which described this new life. We were filled with an exuberant joy, because finally we realized that our deepest longings could be fulfilled. The life described by St. Paul so eloquently is actually factual. The life of saints is possible; a simple spiritual life.
\”Yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me.\” (Galatians 2:20)
We have all read the experiences of saints who claimed to live in mystical union with Christ. The image that comes to mind is of medieval saints who were morose and miserable, wearing hair shirts and living on bread and water. However, I discovered that the claims of saints are not bogus, but true. Furthermore, that they achievements are completely realistic, and that I should expect to live joyfully in the Resurrection. The accounts of the saints might be couched in fanciful, archaic language, but they are not allegories or fairy tales. This Resurrected Life is not for a select few; humans are wired for a life lived in and through a mystical connection to God. In fact, life in Christ is not a big deal. The experience is not just for those we label as saints; it is simply the normal Christian life.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church,
PART THREE, LIFE IN CHRIST
1691 \”Christian, recognize your dignity and, now that you share in God\’s own nature, do not return to your former base condition by sinning. Remember who is your head and of whose body you are a member.
1695 \”sanctified… [and] called to be saints,\” [1 Cor 1:2] Christians have become the temple of the Holy Spirit. [Cf. 1 Cor 6:19], having become their life, prompts them to act so as to bear \”the fruit of the Spirit\” [Gal 5:22, 25] . Healing the wounds of sin, the Holy Spirit renews us interiorly through a spiritual transformation. [Cf. Eph 4:23]
It is true!
The lives of the saints are really true. If you are a secret cynic, or simply someone like me who tried to no avail to connect to God with only my own strength, why don\’t you give God the permission to save you and transform you into a normal Christian? You will be surprised; \”surprised by joy\”.*
*(Wordsworth, C.S. Lewis)
© 2014. Melanie Jean Juneau. All rights reserved.