“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”—John 5:24
“And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not. Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.”—John 5:38, 39
“Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”—John 6:28–29
Before discussing Carmelites John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, and Brother Lawrence, I want to revisit some definitions.
Ascetics, Mysticism, Mystic Union, Contemplative
In an earlier post: 2000 Years of Deception and Error Part 6A: Ascetics, Mystics, and Monasticism, I discussed asceticism, mysticism, mystical union, mystical theology, and a number of religious systems that hold to these beliefs. I have been surprised and saddened by how much focus there is on the idea of a mystical union with what these monastics think of as God, and how they elevate people who claim to be able to do this. This belief does NOT come from God’s Word.
Why do Buddhists, Hindus, Quakers, Mormons, Muslims, shaman, Kabbalists, witchdoctors, religions around the world, and religions from all ages, as well as those in Roman monasteries have a belief and practice in a type of mystical union—achieving a perfect union (spiritual marriage or union) with divinity, god, the ultimate divinity or reality? They are all based on Satan’s false belief system of experience and icons, and the lie that he told Eve in the Garden—
“…ye shall be as gods…”—Genesis 3:5
It seems these folk are working so hard to achieve this divine oneness. The gospel is simple so that anyone can understand. There is nothing we can do, there is no righteousness in us. We repent of our sin and receive Jesus’ righteousness. There are no theatrics to getting God’s attention or to have Him hear us. This mystical union is about something that God doesn’t offer…so who is offering it? Much of the mystical union info sounds very sensual and sometimes scary to me—maybe because it is from the world of darkness. By believing God’s Word, we are given a relationship with the LORD and assurance of salvation.
“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.”—Romans 7:18
“And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”
“Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.”
“That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.”—Romans 5:21
According to mystic, Evelyn Underhill, there is a five step process to arrive at union with the absolute Mysticism, and often people only achieve the third step. (note: This is not a goal for those of us who have been bought with the precious blood of Jesus.)
1. awakening—consciousness of absolute or divine reality.
2. purgation—awareness of imperfections and finiteness, result: self-discipline and mortification.
3. illumination—consciousness of a transcendent order and a vision of a new heaven and a new earth.
4. dark night of the soul—final and complete purification, marked by confusion, helplessness, stagnation of the will, and a sense of the withdrawal of God’s presence.
5. union with the object of love, the one Reality, God—the self permanently established on a transcendental level and liberated for a new purpose.
“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”—Isaiah 64:6
“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”—Romans 5:8
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”—1 John 1:7
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”—Hebrews 4:16
“I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.”
Excerpts from the Catholic site: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04324b.htm
The idea of contemplation is so intimately connected with that of mystical theology that one cannot be clearly explained independent of the other; hence we shall here set forth what mystical theology is.
To distinguish it from acquired contemplation, mystical union is called intuitive, passive, extraordinary, or higher contemplation. St. Teresa designates it simply as contemplation…
Mystical graces may be divided into two groups…The first group…is called mystical union. In the second group…are visions (of created things) and revelations. To these belong miraculous bodily phenomena which are sometimes observed in ecstatics.
The four degrees or stages of mystical union.
They are here taken just as St. Teresa has described them…in her “Life” and “Interior Castle”:
1. incomplete mystical union, or the prayer of quiet
2. the full, or semi-ecstatic, union, which St. Teresa sometimes calls the prayer of union
3. ecstatic union, or ecstasy
4. transforming or deifying union, or spiritual marriage (properly) of the soul with God
The two nights of the soul
There is an intermediate state…a frequent transition between ordinary prayer and spiritual quiet. St. John of the Cross, who was the first to describe it clearly, called it the night of sense or first night of the soul.
Five elements are included in this distressing state:
1. an habitual aridity
2. an undeveloped, confused idea of God, which reoccurs
3. the sad and constant need of a closer union with God
4. a continual action of God’s grace to detach us from all sensible things and impart a distaste for them, whence the name, “night of sense” (the soul may struggle against this action of grace);
5. God begins to exercise over the soul the action characteristic of the prayer of quiet, but He does it so gently that one may be unconscious of it. Hence it is spiritual quiet in the latent, disguised state, and it is only by verifying the analogy of effects that one comes to know it.
St. John of the Cross speaks of the second night of the soul as the night of the mind. It is nothing more than union of the mystical states inferior to spiritual marriage but regarded as including the to spiritual marriage but regarded as including the element of gloom and therefore as producing suffering.
Mystical theology newadvent.org/cathen/14621a.htm
The objects of contemplation are set forth: God, His Attributes, the Incarnation, and all the Sacred Mysteries of the Life of Christ; His presence in the Eucharist; the supernatural order; every creature of God in the natural order, animate or inanimate, particularly the Blessed Virgin, the angels, the saints, Providence, the Church.
Do these things sound like they are from a God that loves us and died to rescue us from darkness? Does God make things so hard to understand and to do to get close to Him? Not according to the Bible.
God’s Holy WORD
“All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.”—Psalm 25:10
“He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail.”
—1 Samuel 2:9
“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.”—Ephesians 5:11
“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”—2 Corinthians 11:3
“This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.”—James 3:15
“But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:”—1 Corinthians 1:30
“For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:”—1 Thessalonians 4:3
“That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;”—1 Thessalonians 4:4
“Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.”—1 Peter 1:2