If you’re curious about or interested in Catholic mysticism, here are two online opportunities.
On Monday, Benedictine nun Joan Chittister, perhaps the best known, most outspoken, and influential nun in America, begins an online course titled “Releasing the Contemplative in You.”
Sister Chittister is as well known for her contemplative life as for her extensive writing (more than 50 books), powerful speaking, and her advocacy for social justice and Church reform, including the ordination of women.
This one-month course is intended to help retreatants move into “the presence of God” through developing a spiritual practice, the prerequisite for contemplation. She will show short videos and share poetry, essays, her own writing, and advice on journaling, and be available online to take questions. The course is offered through Spirituality and Practice.
Meanwhile, Franciscan friar Richard Rohr, who offers daily e-mail meditations, has been focusing those meditations on mysticism and the mystics.
Mysticism is a term that should not “scare” you, Rohr says, since a mystic is anyone who has moved from “mere belief systems or belonging systems to an actual inner experience. All spiritual traditions agree that such a movement is possible, desirable, and available to everyone.”
Rohr uses the writings of Julian of Norwich, “The Cloud of Unknowing,” German theologian Meister Eckhart, and the lyrical Sufi poets Rumi and Hafez, among others. Here’s an example from Hafez, a literary giant in 14thcentury Persia (now Iran):
“I am a hole in a flute that the Christ’s breath moves through.”
Rohr’s daily meditations are available, free, at the Center for Action and Contemplation.