Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Novice Sister Regina Rose reflects on Franciscan Friar of the Sacred Heart Province Father Charlie Smiech’s recent class on mysticism.
“Faith sees all things in the action of the Creator. There is not a moment in which God does not present Himself under the cover of some pain to be endured, some consolation to be enjoyed, or of some duty to be performed. All that takes place within us, around us, or through us, contains and conceals His divine action” (Jean-Pierre de Caussade). These are the convictions of a true mystic.
From January 28th – Feb 1st , we were blessed with the reflections of Father Charlie Smiech, OFM, as he shared the wisdom and insights of mystics such as St John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Catherine of Siena , Blessed Theresa of Calcutta and more. Residing in the very core of their lives was a desire to experience intimacy with Christ through the complete and total abandonment of their will to His. In their questing, they discovered Christ in every moment and every circumstance, knowing that that it is only when we fully possess and are attached to God alone are we truly free. They knew that the journey towards Christ cannot be forced and so sought to fall in love with Him over and over again.
Mystics, as they provide us with a treasure of devotion, inspiration and spiritual guidance, show us first-hand how God is to be loved with all one’s heart, in all times and seasons, and especially during times of suffering, trial and sacrifice. While we look to these mystics for encouragement, we must know that we, too, are all called to imitate them. Christ calls us to “come and see (John 1:35-39),” to be seekers of what we cannot see but we believe, to embrace the ordinary that we might receive something new, and to do our own falling in love with Him. Herein lies the journey toward becoming a mystic. It is, as Fr. Charlie said, “faith seeking understanding.”
For those of us who are abundantly aware of the distance we must travel to reach the level of “mystic,” Fr. Charlie and the mystics assure us that all of us must undergo an ongoing and radical change to reach said goal, a change that asks us to evaluate our “inner sanctuary” and “clean out the junk.” We are all on a road to holiness and that path is unique to each person traveling it. The journey requires discipline but also caution in what we choose to cling to, holding on to the knowledge that the more God strips us, the more He showers us with gifts.
So how do we begin? Throughout the week, Fr. Charlie discussed some principles that will enrich the development of holiness and aid us on our trek. First, we are encouraged to commence by abandoning ourselves totally to Divine Providence. Then we endeavor to seek Christ in every moment and strive to display exteriorly what we believe interiorly. Flowing from this, we learn to “bend low” to embrace the holiness of others, always asking what God is doing in and for us in our daily experiences with others. Lastly, we must try to embrace the present moment as a source of holiness and always contemplate Gospel values as an avenue toward healthy relationships. Through these, we can all take our first steps toward fuller intimacy with the Christ who calls us to Himself.
“If we could lift the veil that covers the profound mysteries of divine operation, and if we were attentive and watchful, God would continually reveal Himself to us. It is by faith that God reveals and manifests Himself in all things. By faith, the veil is torn aside to reveal the eternal truth. By means of faith, we should be able to aspire after God and live for Him alone” (de Caussade). Here is where we discover authentic intimacy with God and where we truly embrace the attitudes and examples of the mystics.