Union

We are well over half way done with our Summer Book Club! I hope you have been enjoying this book as much as I have.

I’ve got some exciting news for you.

Last week I contacted Jerry Sittser, the author of Water From A Deep Well, to see if he’d agree to a brief interview. Jerry is a former professor of mine. He teaches church history at Whitworth University.

Jerry happily agreed. We are picking a date near the time that we are scheduled to be finishing this book.

That means…that I want your questions! If you have questions for the author, please write them in the comments. I’ll then share those questions with Jerry and will put his responses into a blog post. Feel free to write questions on each of the remaining posts, and I’ll be sure to include them.

Union: The Spirituality Of The Mystics

“Mystical spirituality leaves behind the material in order to experience union with God.” (Sitter 163)

In my experience, people usually have strong feelings toward the mystics. You either love em’ or hate em’. There is not much middle ground.

One reason for that is because of how different the mystics thought. For the mystics, spiritual union with God was the number one goal of life. The trouble comes in being able to describe in words how to achieve this goal.

“Mystical writing often seems impenetrable and incomprehensible, eluding precise definition, as if it were an unknown and unknowable foreign language. Mystics relish paradox, speak in abstractions and metaphors, and love mystery.” (Sittser 166)

Personally, I have always found it enjoyable to learn about God through church history, theology, and study of the Word. My study of God has then lead to a deeper relationship with God. Mystics would embrace this, but also take it one step further.

“Mystics invite us to embark on a journey that leads to union with God.” (Sittser 170). The stages of this journey include purgation (getting rid of the sins in your life), illumination (meditating on the deep spiritual truths of God) and union (becoming united with God).

After reading this chapter, I was convicted by how much I ignored the mystics during my studies in college. As penance, I decided to go to Amazon and buy a book from one of the mystics. I am contemplating reading either John Climacus’s The Ladder of Divine Ascent, John Bonaventure’s The Soul’s Journey Into God or St. Bernard of Clairvaux’s On Loving God. When I decide which one I’ll let you know so that you can join me!

In a world that is often fast pasted, cut throat and technologically obsessed, the mystics remind us of what our priorities should truly be. Our greatest priority in life is union with God. When we put the first things first, everything else naturally follows.

I’ll leave you with Thomas Merton’s words on contemplative prayer:

“It is a vivid realization of the fact that life and being in us proceed from an invisible, transcendent and infinitely abundant Source. Contemplation is, above all, awareness of the reality of that Source.”

One thought on “Union

  1. Dennis Bradt says:

    I also found this chapter on mystics very interesting. I also have given little thought about mystics and did’t have a clear picture of how mystics lived their lives.
    I have a couple question for Jerry Sittser having to do with this chapter. Has he delved more into the mystic side of spiritualism since writing this book? AND Does he think materialistic folks like me, can attain a happy medium between the materialistic and mystic sides. For example; spend more time in prayer, restful contemplation and meditation on God? Has meditation played a significant part in his life.

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