When you hear the word "mysticism," what does that conjure up in your hear? Unfortunately, for many there is a dark picture with rolling fog and frightening chanting and a foreboding. In reality, mysticism is something that is quite the opposite and very much needed in the Church today. As the 500th anniversary of the birth of one of the Catholic Church's greatest mystics approaches, it is a good time to discuss mysticism.
St. Teresa was fortunate enough to develop a very close relationship with God in Christ. The relationship became a friendship and this friendship allowed Teresa to experience the knowledge that God was within her and she was within God. And there is the basis for mysticism--that ability to know that God is within us and we are within God. Can you imagine a real and true friendship with God. I am not talking about that warm, fuzzy feeling you get after a particualrly good homily or when you did something nice for someone (although, these are wonderful feelings). I mean the feeling to know that you know that God is your friend. The closeness that St. Teresa felt is something we may all want to aspire to!
But, there is more to mysticism than feeling good. Mysticism allows us to come close to God and make a difference in our own lives and the lives of everyone in the world. I grew up with the impression that mystics were hermit-like creatures who were "in it for themselves." I had that feeling for years growing up. For me this whole idea of mysticism seemed very selfish. But, to the contrary! The mystic is impelled by the very closeness of God to seek God's Will for the world! The mystic is responsibile for praying for the world and for peace and justice in all corners of the world. Mystics are needed to introduce the One, True God to a hurting world in need of healing!
Mystics are not scary, they are in demand!