A beautiful capture of life in the Spirit...

I love these words from Fr. Richard Rohr. Rohr—a Franciscan priest of the New Mexico Province.

On a first level I see mystical moments as moments of enlargement. Suddenly we’re bigger. We don’t feel a need to condemn, exclude, divide or separate. 

Secondarily, mysticism is a deep experience of connectedness or union. 

Maybe that is why we feel larger? Unfortunately, most of us were sent on private paths of perfection which none of us could ever achieve. The path of union is different than the path of perfection. Perfection gives the impression that by effort or more knowing I can achieve wholeness separate from God, from anyone else, or from connection to the Whole. It appeals to our individualism and our ego. It’s amazing how much of Christian history sent us on a self-defeating course toward private perfection. On the day of my first vows in 1962, the preacher glared at us little novices and quoted the line “Thou shalt be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect!” Most of the honest guys left within the first few years when they could not achieve it. They were told they could achieve heaven in a most hellish way.

Many people gave up on the spiritual life or religion when they saw they could not be “perfect.” They ended up practical agnostics or practical atheists, and they refused to be hypocrites. Many of us kept up the forms and the words, we kept going to church, but there was no longer the inner desire, joy or expectation that is possible on the path of union. Mysticism does not defeat the soul; moralism always does. Mysticism invites humanity forward; moralism (read “perfectionism”) excludes and condemns itself and most others.

Fr. Richard's teaching is grounded in the Franciscan alternative orthodoxy--practices of contemplation and lived kenosis (self-emptying). I've read many of his books and am continually amazed an grateful at the way he seems to capture my spiritual experience with shocking regularity in his writings. 

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Maira Gall