It is the mission of modern mystics to bring joy to people in the streets, slums, hospital and prisons.” — Archbishop Emeritus Thomas Menamparampil
I came across a great article in Don Bosco India on a speech given by Archbishop Emeritus Thomas Menamparampil to 450 heads of India’s Catholic religious congregations. Archbishop Menamparampil cites Teilhard de Chardin and other great mystics as powerful examples of how to promote the Christian message in a materialistic culture that is often a spiritual desert. I was not previously aware of Archbishop Menamparampil but he was lived an exemplary life as a leader of the Catholic church in India, receiving the nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 for his efforts in bringing peace to Northeast India. I encourage you to read the entire article here but set forth below is an excerpt:
“Living in a society that seeks to marginalize profound and abiding values, people hunger for depth and search for insights into the ultimate destiny of humanity,“ the archbishop said.
In the context, then, of our times what the religious should ask themselves is how they may add the dimension depth to their lives, breathe a spirit into their commitments, relationships and services; how they may give unction to their words and thoughts; bring a spark of light to the uncertainties of the day; how they live out the mission that Jesus has given of becoming the light of the world and salt of the earth, the prelate said.
After explaining the mystic`s pilgrimage and encounter with God, Archbishop Menamparampil said, “There is the return to plain ordinary life. It is not a return to passivity, but to a sense of duty to be creative and fruitful. Thus the mystic becomes a fellow-laborer and partner with the rest of humanity in building up the world.“
The archbishop presented briefly the cosmic vision of Teilhard de Chardin who sought “to harmonize religious beliefs with the most recent scientific discoveries. The spirituality the Jesuit mystic proposed was one of passionate involvement, a mysticism of action calculated to bring about transformation in the fields of science and development, the archbishop noted.
Teilhard saw human desire for progress itself as the dynamism propelling the world to its destiny. In this sense, human beings are co-creators, architects of their own destiny, and therefore active agents in the cosmic evolution.
Without ever meaning to abandon their traditional forms of ministry the mystics ought to enter into new levels of society; new social, cultural and psychological fields; into the world of ideas, attitudes and values; into causes like those for peace, defence of life, probity in society, protection of minorities, and good governance.
“As citizens in a democratic state, we have a national responsibility. In a globalized world, we have a global responsibility. As committed citizens we ought to cultivate this sense of universal responsibility in ourselves and foster it in others,“ he said he defined the “prophetic role“ as inviting people to think and judge for themselves.
“That is what Jesus did. Compelled to think for themselves, people reflect deeply and change. Drawing forth an openness to change is the prophetic ministry,“ said the archbishop who insisted on thinking with the `thinking element` in society, by which he means co-searching with those that provide a practical philosophy of life in a particular community.