Teilhard de Chardin Quote of the Week (October 20, 2014): Religion and Mysticism



Due to travel schedule, this week’s quote is not from Teilhard de Chardin but is from another one of my favorite authors, Philip St. Romain in the spirit of Teilhard de Chardin:

“To emphasize the pivotal role of faith in relation to mystical experience is not likely to be a popular position these days, however, for to speak of faith is to invoke religious language. The awakening and formation of faith is also the responsibility of religious traditions, and there are many today who seek mystical experience while holding themselves apart from a religious tradition. Although the God of the mystic does, indeed, go beyond the dogmas and rituals of religions, the intellectual, affective, and volitional dimensions of the faith of the mystic are both nurtured and supported by such beliefs and practices. Indeed, it is doubtful that mystical experience can flower and be integrated apart from the wisdom of religious traditions. (The New Age and Transpersonal mysticisms, for example, generally degenerate into pantheism.) On the other hand, it is easy to understand the disgust with which many today view religion, especially in the West. Apart from a mystical tradition, the exoteric dimension of religion makes little sense, producing instead [mere] ideologies, liturgists and dogmatists. This is not true religious faith, however, only a counterfeit. Many Churches are more aware of political developments in the world than of the mystical aspect of Christianity, which is frustrating to those who seek spiritual growth. The best situation, of course, would be for the Church to view mystical union as the goal of religion itself, and to provide formation for all unto this end. This day is coming, but we’ve a long way to go.

— Philip St. Romain, Critical Questions in Christian Contemplative Practice


About William Ockham

I am a father of two with eclectic interests in theology, philosophy and sports. I chose the pseudonym William Ockham in honor of his contributions to philosophy, specifically Occam's Razor, and its contributions to modern scientific theory. My blog (www.teilhard.com) explores Ignatian Spirituality and the intersection of faith, science and reason through the life and writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (pictured above).
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8 Responses to Teilhard de Chardin Quote of the Week (October 20, 2014): Religion and Mysticism

  1. Thank you for bringing this author to my attention. Reassuring to find someone else writing in the same field. The word ‘mysticism’ is never used by the Fathers of the Church. It tends to be used now by those seeking states of transcendental awareness or spiritual experience, whereas the Christian ‘mystical’ experience is the natural byproduct of losing oneself in the love of God….not seeking God for what you can get out of him, but for his honour and glory alone. The emphasis should not be on self but on God alone..and until this becomes the objective of Christian prayer, we will never in fact experience authentic ‘Christian mystical contemplation’ Hence the ‘dark night’ which is the place where a self seeking taker learns to become an other-considering giver.

    The vacuum that has been produced since the condemnation of Quietism which resulted in the demise of authentic mystical tradition (even John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila came under suspicion) has created a vacuum that is being filled by a myriad of counterfeits drawing in authentic searchers and misleading them.

    • David:

      Thank you for the response. It is a very insightful response. I appreciate your writings in this area. It is nice to see that there is (hopefully) a reawakening in this area. There is a richness in the great Spanish contemplatives such as St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila that needs to be reintroduced to a broader audience. Thank you for your contributions.

      W. Ockham

  2. Lynda says:

    Thank you for this insightful quote from Philip St. Romain. I would agree that social justice issues are very important but people are seeking a deeper relationship with God and that is our first call. Once people realize a deeper relationship with God, they will accept the responsibility for justice in our world. The love of God is the motivating factor. Thanks also to David Torkington for his comment.

  3. molma.indigo says:

    Enjoyed reading this post very much and especially today. Blogging has been a conversion experience for me as I have stated, but I find myself in a daily conversion I think because of what is mentioned in your post. I need to constantly remember that mystical union is the goal of religion and perhaps the two cannot be separated. This was very encouraging and the timing perfect for me. Thank you for sharing.

  4. jessedooley says:

    I love this quote. I’m going to share it on my personal Facebook wall and on the wall of a Facebook group I created: Progressive Christian Mysticism. The Western Church desperately needs to mysticism.

    • Hi Jesse:

      Thank you for linking it and for the lead to your Facebook group. I definitely agree with you on the need for the Western Church to rediscover mysticism.

      W. Ockham

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