Friday, October 1, 2010

Mystical Prayer

A few weeks ago on a thread discussing a woman making the rounds in parishes 'channeling the dead', the discussion evolved into mystical prayer and mystical experiences and I promised a followup.

I thought it was a good fit this week as we celebrated the Feast day of Padre Pio, who is another powerful mystical treasure of the Church, and the Feast of the Archangels.

Scary dude.  He could bilocate, read souls, levitate, he bore the stigmata.

The luminaries in the Church handled the situation badly.  One of his gifts was/is that he not only sees and has power over his own guardian angels, he could see and communicate with the guardian angels of others.  If you accept his offer to allow him to adopt you as your spiritual child, you can send your guardian angels to him with petitions, prayers, intercessions and for protection.

I talked about Padre Pio in the case of the woman claiming to be delivering messages from the dead because even with all of Padre Pio's mystical experiences, it took a lot of discernment to know whether his experiences were angelic or demonic.

What we know for certain is that any spirit that comes from God would not do something that is forbidden in the Catechism.  Channeling the dead is forbidden and so this is really a no brainer.    We know that angels can and do fall but it is a rarity and you certainly don't want to be taking their counsel after the fall.  They do not get another chance for redemption.

As I mentioned in the thread, my experiences in the mystical were the fruit of mystical prayer, the Eucharist, Adoration, various devotions and consecrations.   They are not things you go looking for.

My most compelling experience happened when I was sitting quietly in contemplative prayer after daily Mass.

 I had been trying to just silently be in Christ's presence.  This is a discipline for me because my prayer is customarily recitation, praise, intercession and speaking to Christ.    Every day I would sit in the empty and quiet Church after morning Mass close to the large Crucifix that hung over the Altar.  I would focus my eyes on the Crucifix and quiet my mind for 15 or so minutes.

It was the same period of time I spoke about, at the beginning of my spiritual warrior calling and I was discerning whether I was doing the right thing.  Struggling with whether what I was doing the right thing in a parish that had some influences misleading souls, including my own children.     People were upset I was rocking the boat - you know how that goes.

So, I was trying to hear God on whether I should just quietly pray, instead of calling out the consequences of what they were doing and asking them to stop.

One day in the midst of this prayer, the Crucifix started to gently rock back and forth which I presumed was some kind of motion from air circulation.  But then the rocking became more intense and Christ's left hand came off of the Crucifix and swung back and forth in front of him in a sweeping motion five or six times.   Before I even had any time to think about it I was swept up quickly until my face was beside Christ and then back into my seat in the pew.  The whole thing lasted a matter of seconds.  It was so swift, there was no time to process what was happening.

Though this definitely was a 'whoah, what just happened to me' moment, bear in mind that it was a period when several things had already happened to make me aware of the mystical in my life.

I struggled to understand the sweeping motions of His hand. I talked about it with my priest and spiritual advisor at the time.  I talked to several priests in fact.  I was dissappointed to see how many of them were so poorly equipped to discuss and guide a person who is experiencing the mystical but thankfully God supplies.

A week or so later, I was teaching and leading a group in the St. Louis DeMontefort consecration.  There was a young college woman in my group whom I had known from my 'youth ministry' days.  A holy soul and a believer whose spirituality is far advanced for her young age (and presently discerning religious life) whom I had told about the experience.

There is a reflection in St. Louis de Montford's True Devotion that talks about the fruits of the consecration. (I'll have to find it later and link it).   It describes how those who are consecrated with one hand will build the temple of God and with the other, they will swing the sword.     While I was reading the passage I held my right hand up and out to my side and with my left, I swung the sword.  

The young woman gasped.  She was  so visibly shaken, I walked over to her and asked her what was wrong.  (After I looked behind me to see if somebody was there and about to clock me or something!)  She was so speechless she couldn't get words out of her mouth and so she repeated the motions I had just showed the class. I still didnt get it until she repeated the motions and said "Your vision, with one hand we build the temple of God and with the other, we swing the sword"

Almost always, I saw something I did not understand that was explained later or became clear with events.

I want to say this without scandalizing this precious gift of the Church, but I was not exactly enamoured by these experiences.   I actually did everything I could to retreat from them.

 I prefer to have the spirituality of St. John, just being with Christ and loving Him.  The call to the spirituality of St. Catherine or St. Joan was also one that I resist and continue to resist to this day.  

This post is meant to be a testimony to the gifts of the Church and the fruit of prayer and not the donkey that carries them.


Kelly said...

And yet, He trusted you with the experience. And the blessings and crosses that come with it. God bless you and keep you, especially as you follow all that He gives you to do.

Clare Marie said...

Thanks for sharing that, as bolsters us all knowing that sometimes God breaks through to show us He really is in charge and is listening to each of us personally. I've also had 2 experiences over the course of 30 years that I'd term mystical, and I remember telling myself at the time that I'd probably later think I had imagined them, but to realize that I hadn't and they were real. God is right there beside us, guiding our steps and helping us when we falter.

Carol McKinley said...

Thanks Ladies - God knows just what each of us needs to be who he wants us to be and serve Him.

Something for everyone.