“Historically, Christian mysticism has taught that for Christians the major emphasis of mysticism concerns a spiritual transformation of the egoic self, the following of a path designed to produce more fully realized human persons, "created in the Image and Likeness of God” and as such, living in harmonious communion with God, the Church, the rest of world, and all creation, including oneself. For Christians, this human potential is realized most perfectly in Jesus, precisely because he is both God and human, and is manifested in others through their association with him, whether conscious, as in the case of Christian mystics, or unconscious, with regard to spiritual persons who follow other traditions, such as Gandhi. The Eastern Christian tradition speaks of this transformation in terms of theosis or divinization, perhaps best summed up by an ancient aphorism usually attributed to Athanasius of Alexandria: “God became human so that man might become god.”
Going back to Evagrius Ponticus, Christian mystics have been described as pursuing a threefold path corresponding to body (soma), soul (psyche), and spirit (pneuma). In 869, the 8th Ecumenical Council reduced the image of the human to only body and soul but within mystics a model of three aspects continued. The three aspects later became purgative, illuminative, and unitive in the western churches and prayer of the lips, the mind, the heart in the eastern churches. The first, purification is where aspiring traditionally Christian mystics start. This aspect focuses on discipline, particularly in terms of the human body; thus, it emphasizes prayer at certain times, either alone or with others, and in certain postures, often standing or kneeling. It also emphasizes the other disciplines of fasting and alms-giving, the latter including those activities called “the works of mercy,” both spiritual and corporal, such as feeding the hungry and sheltering the homeless.
Purification, which grounds Christian spirituality in general, is primarily focused on efforts to, in the words of St. Paul, “put to death the deeds of the flesh by the Holy Spirit” (Romans 8:13). This is considered a result of the Spirit working in the person and is not a result of personal deeds. Also in the words of St. Paul, “…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Epistle to the Philippians 1:6). The “deeds of the flesh” here include not only external behavior, but also those habits, attitudes, compulsions, addictions, etc. (sometimes called egoic passions) which oppose themselves to true being and living as a Christian not only exteriorly, but interiorly as well. Evelyn Underhill describes purification as an awareness of one’s own imperfections and finiteness, followed by self-discipline and mortification. Because of its physical, disciplinary aspect, this phase, as well as the entire Christian spiritual path, is often referred to as “ascetic,” a term which is derived from a Greek word which connotes athletic training. Because of this, in ancient Christian literature, prominent mystics are often called “spiritual athletes,” an image which is also used several times in the New Testament to describe the Christian life. What is sought here is salvation in the original sense of the word, referring not only to one’s eternal fate, but also to healing in all areas of life, including the restoration of spiritual, psychological, and physical health.
It remains a paradox of the mystics that the passivity at which they appear to aim is really a state of the most intense activity: more, that where it is wholly absent no great creative action can take place. In it, the superficial self compels itself to be still, in order that it may liberate another more deep-seated power which is, in the ecstasy of the contemplative genius, raised to the highest pitch of efficiency.
The second phase, the path of illumination, has to do with the activity of the Holy Spirit enlightening the mind, giving insights into truths not only explicit in scripture and the rest of the Christian tradition, but also those implicit in nature, not in the scientific sense, but rather in terms of an illumination of the “depth” aspects of reality and natural happenings, such that the working of God is perceived in all that one experiences. Underhill describes it as marked by a consciousness of a transcendent order and a vision of a new heaven and a new earth.
The third phase, usually called contemplation (or Mystical Contemplative Prayer) in the Western tradition, refers to the experience of oneself as in some way united with God. The experience of union varies, but it is first and foremost always associated with a reuniting with Divine love, the underlying theme being that God, the perfect goodness, is known or experienced at least as much by the heart as by the intellect since, in the words 1 John 4:16: “God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God and God in him.” Some approaches to classical mysticism would consider the first two phases as preparatory to the third, explicitly mystical experience, but others state that these three phases overlap and intertwine.
Underhill’s five-stage path
Author and mystic Evelyn Underhill recognizes two additional phases to the mystical path. First comes the awakening, the stage in which one begins to have some consciousness of absolute or divine reality. Purgation and illumination are followed by a fourth stage which Underhill, borrowing the language of St. John of the Cross, calls the dark night of the soul. This stage, experienced by the few, is one of final and complete purification and is marked by confusion, helplessness, stagnation of the will, and a sense of the withdrawal of God’s presence. This dark night of the soul is not, in Underhill’s conception, the Divine Darkness of the pseudo-Dionysius and German Christian mysticism. It is the period of final “unselfing” and the surrender to the hidden purposes of the divine will. Her fifth and final stage is union with the object of love, the one Reality, God. Here the self has been permanently established on a transcendental level and liberated for a new purpose.
Types of meditation
Within theistic mysticism two broad tendencies can be identified. One is a tendency to understand God by asserting what He is not and the other by asserting what He is. The former leads to what is called apophatic theology and the latter to cataphatic theology.
Apophatic (imageless, stillness, and wordlessness) – e.g., The Cloud of the Unknowing, Meister Eckhart; and
Cataphatic (imaging God, imagination or words) – e.g.,The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Dame Julian, Francis of Assisi…This second type is considered by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite.
Scholars such as Urban T. Holmes, III have also categorized mystical theology in terms of whether it focuses on illuminating the mind, which Holmes refers to as speculative practice, or the heart/emotions, which he calls affective practice. Combining the speculative/affective scale with the apophatic/cataphatic scale allows for a range of categories:
Rationalism = Cataphatic and speculative
Pietism = Cataphatic and affective
Encratism = Apophatic and speculative
Quietism = Apophatic and affective
Many mystics, following the model of Paul’s metaphor of the athlete, as well as the story of the disciples sleeping while Jesus prayed, disciplined their bodies through activities ranging from fasting and sleep-deprivation to more extreme forms, such as self-flagellation.
Many mystics experience visions. But other sensory experiences are common as well. For instance, Richard Rolle heard heavenly music and felt a fire in his chest.
Religious ecstasy is common for many mystics, such as Teresa of Avila, whose experience was immortalized in the sculpture Ecstasy of Saint Teresa by Bernini.
One of the most familiar examples of mystical physical transformation is the appearance of stigmata on the body of the mystic, such as those received by Francis of Assisi and Padre Pio. But other transformations are possible, such as the odour of sanctity that accompanies the body of the deceased mystic, such as Teresa of Avila and Therese of Liseaux.
Some mystics are said to have been able to perform miracles. But for many mystics, the miracles occurred to them. In the Middle Ages, one common form of mystical miracle, especially for women, was the Eucharistic miracle, such as being able to eat nothing other than the communion host. Catherine of Genoa was an example of someone who experienced this type of miracle.“
I am so sick of seeing people on the Once Upon a Time fan pages and groups screaming “I don’t support them adding a gay storyline” “God doesn’t agree” “I’m a Christian”
Well guess what? Pull out your Bible because if your Christian enough to stop watching because their is a gay storyline, then you shouldn’t have been watching from day one.
“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality…. sensuality….sorcery…. drunkenness….I forewarn you….that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
“But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
Ok so did you see something?
Sorcery is a fruit of the flesh. God doesn’t like it! On Once Upon a Time your two main characters are sorceresses. Magic is the theme of the show! Not very Christian. There is prophecy and future reading on this show.
Wasn’t Henry born out of wedlock to a teen mom. Didn’t Regina sleep with Graham and Robin and she isn’t married to either one? Didn’t Milah leave her husband for a pirate and didn’t divorce him, committing adultery?
I could go on and on. Stop trying to cover your bigotry with claiming Christianity. A gay character is the least unchristian thing on this show
It’s amazing how an ignorant young babbler sits on Tumblr and criticises al-Albānī رحمه الله while he cannot recall a single chain of narration correctly through his memory,
Sh. al-Albānī was not infallible, he had mistakes just like any other Imām of Sunnah but indeed he was an ‘Allāmah, a Faqeeh, Muḥaddith, a Ḥafiẓ (the one who has memorised 100,000 narrations with their chains) and as Sh. Bin Bāz said “Mujaddid of his time”, yet you hate him because he shunned ‘blind-following’ and encouraged others to seek proofs and to put the word of Prophet ﷺ above everyone else’s?
The flesh of scholars is poisonous so save yourself the headache of losing deeds by eating the flesh of an Imām of Sunnah, may Allāh have mercy upon al-Albānī’s soul and may Allāh raise his rank, either an ignorant hates him who does not know his elbow from his knee or a Mubtadi’ who hates Aḥādīth and its people for limiting his Bid’ah, as for an ignorant we make Du'ā may Allāh guide him as for the latter we say موتوا بغيظكم,
Mortal sin involves 1) grave matter 2) knowledge that our sin involves grave matter 3) our free decision to engage in such sin.
Mortal sin also involves a breach, a violation, or a flouting of positive Divine law as revealed in Scripture, or a precept of Natural Law which reason tells us should never be violated. For example, positive Divine law has commanded that we not take innocent human life–therefore abortion would be a mortal sin.
On the other hand, Natural Law (reasoned reflection on nature) reveals that we should not use sex in a disordered way. In Nature, we can observe that sex serves the purpose of human love, and procreation, therefore contraception is considered mortal sin by reason of going against what is our good according to Nature.
Drunkenness involves the violation of both God’s commands and Natural Law. We are told by God in Scripture not to be drunk:
1 Peter 5:8: “Be alert and of sober mind.” Ephesians 5:18: “Do not get drunk.” Galatians 5:19-21: “the deeds of the flesh are…drunkenness, carousing…” 1 Corinthians 6:10: “..nor drunkards, nor revilers..will inherit the kingdom of God.” Ephesians 5:17-19: “…do not get drunk..for that is debauchery.”
Also, our reason, reflecting on Nature, also sees that the abuse of the body and our mental faculties degrades us and harms our life. Drunkenness results in unplanned pregnancy (although God loves each of His children), domestic violence, car accidents and deaths, harmful fights and name calling, and other public disturbances, not to mention cirrhosis of the liver and bodily ailments.
So, it is safe to say that drunkenness involves grave matter. In fact, any terrible harm which is done to the basic goods that God has given us for life, is grave matter. Since the mind, and the free will, enable us to have the goods of knowledge and love, whatever interferes with or harms these gifts is an attack on the goods of life that God gave us for our flourishing.
The next question is, “Did the person who got drunk know that this was grave matter, or a seriously immoral act?” A person has to understand the gravity of an act. Finally, was the person who got drunk coerced, or did they act with a free will? That can be tricky, because a person who is not addicted to alcohol, and who freely decides to get drunk knowing that it is grave matter, is committing mortal sin, in my opinion.
However, what about the person who has an addiction? That may not qualify for mortal sin, because they have developed a sickness which interferes with reason and free will. Once they crave another drunk of alcohol, and their body and mind cannot easily resist that craving, I doubt they would be committing a mortal sin by getting drunk. They are beyond the point where they can calmly and freely decide about an act of self-harm.
So, once again, there is no one size fits all. A lot depends on the knowledge and free will of the person who engages in drunkenness. Certainly, however, we can say that there is some sin involved regardless, because the desire to be intoxicated is disordered and seriously violates God’s will and our human reason. God bless and take care, Fr. Angel