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Monday, June 26, 2017

The Real World Featured

By:   Solange Hertz (RIP)
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481522 reasons to stop looking at your phone
"Appearances often come to us second or third hand, filtered through ever proliferating communications media, so that the so-called real world recedes farther from us every day."   - Solange Hertz

Editor's Note: The following first appeared in The Remnant on February 28, 2002.   In the fast-paced world of blogging and tweeting and texting, this article is entirely too long, too boring, too hard to read, too demanding, too challenging, and definitely too whatever to be taken seriously.  But I'm confident a few holdout dinosaurs still ambling about the real world will appreciate its unconventional and politically incorrect message. It was written by an excellent thinker, a saintly academic, and something of a prophet. She didn't blog, never sent a single tweet, and, while her face was usually in a book, Facebook meant nothing to her.   And yet even despite such crippling handicaps, she had something to say.  She also had the kind of courage rarely seen here in this brave new world of ours---the courage to be different and to question the modern world's most sacred narratives (what she called “fairytales for adults”) about who we are and what we're doing here on this earth.  I’m confident there are still readers out there who’ve been insufficiently brainwashed to read and appreciate the words and wisdom of the late, great Solange Hertz. Especially if you're younger than 35, I dare you to give it a try -- and let the blindfold be damned. MJM 

Sooner or later, anyone found actually trying to apply the maxims of the Gospels to daily life can expect to be told to “get real!”  as if living a spiritual life involved entering a largely imaginary world that  existed mostly in the mind. Parents of home schoolers, for instance, are sometimes asked, or even ask themselves, “What will happen to these children educated outside the mainstream according to Catholic principles, when they leave home and plunge into the real world? 


By the “real” world is ordinarily meant the visible, material one we contact every day through our senses, the tangible here and now in which we commit sins and practice virtues in the normal flow of human activity. Ordinarily, “getting real” means “getting in touch with our feelings,” which are rooted in our bodies, so as to make closer contact with a world which in fact is not only the least real of all by comparison with what lies beyond it, but which can be grasped by us only imperfectly to begin with.  Our senses cannot know the innermost substances of what they perceive, having contact at best only with outward phenomena or appearances. Our bodily eyes may see a chair, but strain as they will, they will never behold “chairness.” Only by intellectual abstraction and inference can we come to an approximation of the essence of the reality conveyed to us by the senses. When it comes to knowing people, our contact with them yields at best a few superficial surmises regarding the unknown continents which lie hidden within them 

St. Francis de Sales in his famous Treatise on the Love of God gives the standard Catholic explanation for this as developed by scholastic philosophy. Written in the seventeenth century, it might be considered outmoded, but the truth is that modern science has come up with no better explanation of what actually happens in our situation than where he says, “When we look on anything, though it is present to us, it is not itself united to our eyes, but only sends out to them a certain representation or picture of itself, which is called its sensible species, by means of which we see. So also when we contemplate or understand anything, that which we understand is not united to our understanding otherwise than by another representation and most delicate spiritual image, which is called intelligible species. But further, these species, by how many windings and changes do they get to the understanding! They arrive at the exterior senses, thence pass to the interior, then to the imagination, then to the active understanding, and come at last to the passive understanding, to the end that passing through so many strainers and under so many files they may be purified, subtilized and perfected, and of sensible become intelligible.”[1] 

To make matters worse, in modern times these appearances often come to us second or third hand, filtered through ever proliferating communications media, so that the so-called real world recedes farther from us every day. Beginning with the wireless and the telephone, we have become accustomed to communicating with our fellow humans by increasingly indirect contact, to the point of forming friendships with them electronically through cyberspace without ever seeing them in the flesh or even holding a letter actually written by them in our hands. Worldwide buying and selling, in fact the entire work of the world, can be carried on with minimal direct contact between the participants. By the same token our hatreds and animosities can now be indulged via impersonal push-button warfare where the combatants never come close enough to their targets to see them, let alone look at the whites of their eyes.

As we have seen, modern science began ushering us into false “virtual reality” when Galileo persuaded us, without advancing a shred of actual proof, that our earth is not the center of the universe as Scripture says it is, but whirls around the sun as merely one of several other planets.  Still without proof, Newtonian physics then concocted the now generally accepted myth that matter moves itself by its own natural attractions, thus obliterating the whole angelic management of the heavens and the earth.

Finally, following Darwin, science leaped to the conclusion that matter  generates life itself by a purely natural process called “evolution,” whereby the inanimate becomes animate over millions of years, changing itself into increasingly complex living forms, and “progress” toward ever greater perfection is automatic. That educated people have been brought to believe such absurdities provides a measure of the degree of unreality reached thus far, for the exact opposite is true. All human cultures record a degeneration into simpler forms from a previous “golden age” of some kind rather than any upward progress to greater complexity.

Didn’t St. Paul predict to the young bishop St. Timothy that “there shall be a time when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: And will turn away indeed their hearing from the truth but will be turned to fables?”(2 Tim. 4:3-4) That time is here. Materialist science now assumes that mysteries are only apparent, and that credible explanations for them can be found by sufficient human effort.  The truth is, however, mysteries are an inherent part of reality, and the more we delve into them, the deeper they get.

One of Pius XII’s favorite theologians, Fr. Matthias Scheeben, had this to say in the first chapter of his Mysteries of Christianity: “”If by mystery we mean nothing more than an object which is not entirely conceivable in its innermost essence, we need not seek very far to find mysteries. Such mysteries are found not only above us, but all around us, in us, under us. The real essence of all things is concealed from our eyes. The physicist will never fully plumb the laws of forces in the physico-chemical world and perfectly comprehend their effects; and the same is true of the physiologist with regard to the laws of organic nature, of the psychologist with regard to the soul, of the metaphysician with regard to the ultimate basis of being. Christianity is not alone in exhibiting mysteries in the above-mentioned sense. If its truths are inconceivable and unfathomable, so in greater part are the truths of reason.”

Creation in all its aspects – material, spiritual and supernatural – remains a mystery and will continue to unfold its secrets throughout eternity. By disregarding on principle any evidence which cannot be seen, heard, touched or measured, the new scientific man  consigns to oblivion what is in fact the greater reality encompassing and activating matter, for what we can see is meant to direct us toward what we cannot see. St. Paul speaks of “those men that detain the truth of God in injustice. Because that which is known of God is manifest in them. For God hath manifested it to them. For the invisible things of him, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made: his eternal power also and divinity: so that they are inexcusable. Because that, when they knew God, they did not glorify him as God, nor give thanks: but became vain in their thoughts and their foolish heart was darkened: for professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.”

Drunk with freedom and indulging in the orgy of independent self-government brought on by  the Age of Democracy, post-Christian man is therefore taking ever more giant strides from created reality into an artificial world patterned on his own imaginings, where whatever happens is ascribed to purely material causes.  Not content with distorting the perception of his environment, he is fabricating  an entirely new view of himself. Whereas human nature is fundamentally social and hierarchical, being patterned on the image of God who is a society of three hierarchically ordered Persons, he now bases government on the individual, who is postulated as having been  “created equal” with all others, to the point that today even their body parts have become interchangeable. Where the sexes as well are now regarded as equal, and no longer complementary, homosexuality becomes a normal option. The family, the basic cell of society and the greater family of nations, is thus  wrenched  from its organic, trinitarian roots and  redefined as any association of individuals who decide to share everyday life in common. 

It should come as no surprise that St. Paul pinpoints homosexuality as the direct consequence of this willful flight from reality, for it is the ultimate sin against human nature, now so symptomatic of our diseased modern society that it enjoys the protection of civil law. This happens, says St. Paul, when those who refuse to look beyond their senses are abandoned “to the desires of their heart, to uncleanness: to dishonor their own bodies among themselves. For this cause God delivered them up to shameful affections. For their women have changed the natural use into that use which is against nature. And in like manner the men also, leaving the natural use of the woman, have burned in their lusts one towards another, men with men working that which is filthy and receiving in themselves the recompense which was due to their error.”

This accounts not only for the current invasion of women into men’s activities, paralleled by men’s growing effeminacy, but a whole roster of further consequences. St. Paul says that those who “liked not to have God in their knowledge“ find themselves handed over “to a reprobate sense, to do those things which are not convenient, being filled with all iniquity, malice, fornication, avarice, wickedness, full of envy, murder, contention, deceit, malignity, whisperers, detractors, hateful to God, contumelious, proud, haughty, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, foolish, dissolute, without affection, without fidelity, without mercy. Who, having known the justice of God, did not understand that they who do such things are worthy of death: and not only those who do them, but they also who consent to them that do them” (Rom. 1:18 ff.)


All the while exhorting his bedazzled colleagues to “get real!” and confront the real world, modern man thus plunges ever more deeply into error and illusion. If permitted he would bring the world to dissolution, for having been created by God from absolutely nothing, he and the whole universe  are subject to an ineradicable, innate tendency to return to the void whence they sprang. This tendency underlies every sin, which in the final analysis is nothing but an attempt to turn away from the real  to the non - existent  lying outside God’s law.  Lucifer gave in to it in heaven when he chose to do his own will rather than God’s, and Adam and Eve did the same in Eden when they followed his suggestion to eat the forbidden fruit. Shorn of the preternatural gifts originally bestowed on them to shield them from concupiscence, suffering and  death,  they and all their descendants were left to cope at ground level with the primordial urge to unreality and annihilation which  grows stronger with every sin committed. “The just man lives by faith,” as St. Paul says, if he is to live at all (Rom. 1:17). 

Only faith can tell us exactly where reality is to be found.  The Apostle tells us that “the things which are seen are temporal,” whereas “the things which are not seen are eternal,” and will never cease to be (2 Cor. 4:18).  The decisions made in this life pass away with it, but their consequences are eternal. Immoral acts lead to hell, which is not only a place for the souls and resurrected bodies of the damned, but like heaven, it too is eternal.   Hell and heaven begin in time, but for them to have an end, their inhabitants would have to be re-inserted into time, which cannot be. Scripture tells us that after the blowing of the Sixth Trumpet in the Apocalypse, the Angel seen “standing upon the sea and upon the land” by St. John “lifted his hand to heaven : And he swore by him that liveth for ever and ever . . . that time shall be no longer” (Apo. 10: 5-6). Whatever passes into eternity becomes eternal and cannot end.   

This led St. John Chrysostom to lament that “there are those so foolish and dull that they long only for the things of the present, saying such senseless things as, ‘Let me enjoy now what I have; later I shall think about what is not certain.’. . . They who say such things, in what way do they differ from  goats and swine. . . who speak of such things as uncertain which are clearer than what the eye sees. . . . But you will say: who has ever come from hell and told us these things? Who has ever come from heaven and told us there is a God who has made all things? That we have a soul: whence was that made known to us? For if you only believe the things you see, you may then doubt about God and the angels, and about the mind and the soul, and in that way all teaching will be emptied of its truth. If you believe what you take in by your senses, then all the more should you believe in the invisible world rather than in the visible. And if what I say seems contradictory, it is nevertheless true and may without question be accepted by intelligent men. For our eyes are often deceived, not with regard to invisible things, for as to these they cannot judge, but in the things that men seem to see, their accuracy being disturbed by distance, by distractions, by anger, by care and countless other things. But the reflections of the soul, especially if it has received the light of the divine Scriptures, will arrive at a more accurate and certain judgment of things.” [2] 

The most the material world can do is to point us in the direction of the greater reality. Far from being unreal, the supernatural is actually a super-reality, “added to nature,” says Fr. Scheeben, “as a new, higher reality, a reality that is neither included in nature, nor developed from it, nor in any way postulated by it. As God exhibits two kingdoms for us to contemplate, one plainly visible and one full of mystery, so, too, in the creature we discern two distinct kingdoms, as it were two worlds, which are erected one on top of the other, one visible and one invisible, one natural and the other supernatural. The profounder reaches of even the first of these worlds is unfathomable for purely natural reason; the second is unattainable and unsearchable in every respect, and is therefore mysterious in the absolute sense of the word.” [3] 

The unseen world is far more real than anything our senses can apprehend because it is closer to God, who as the only self-subsistent being, is Reality itself. He is, in fact, the only reality, for as He told St. Catherine of Siena, “I am He who is; you are she who is not.” To “get real” in the true sense of the word can therefore only mean to come closer to Him, who is pure spirit, by becoming more spiritual. This does not mean, however, that matter can be despised or ignored. Under no circumstances can it be by-passed, as Buddhism and Hinduism and other false doctrines would have us believe, for, far from being an obstacle, matter is indispensable to our salvation. 

Not only is matter destined to take part in the final transfiguration at the end of time, but it actually opens the way to it, being part and parcel of the economy of grace. Our one and only means to God is through the Sacred Humanity of  Jesus Christ our Lord, who as Second Person of the Blessed Trinity became incarnate for the express purpose of providing us with the necessary material link to His divinity.  Inviting us to share in His own eternal life through the Sacraments, outward tangible signs conveying grace to our souls, He became flesh in order to tell us face to face, “No man cometh to the Father but by me. . . . I am the door “(John 14:6; 10:7).

In this mortal life even matters of faith can be seen and understood only from what is relayed to us by our senses. As St. Paul insists, “Faith comes by hearing.” How can men believe in Christ “of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? ” (Rom. 10:17,14). The holy Bishop of Geneva explained,  “As the mirror contains not the thing we see in it but only the representation and species of it (which representation, stayed by the mirror, produces another in the beholding eye), so the word of faith does not contain the things which it announces, but only represents them, and this representation of divine things which is in the word of faith produces another representation of them, which our understanding, helped by God’s grace, accepts and receives as a representation of holy truth, and our will takes delight in it and embraces it as an honorable, profitable, lovely and excellent truth. Thus the truths signified in God’s word are by it represented to the understanding as things expressed in the mirror represented to the eye.” [4] 

As long as reason rests exclusively on sense perception without following where that perception is designed to lead, it cannot rise to the full truth about anything. Where only material explanations for life’s mysteries are considered valid, man is content to view his own immaterial, immortal soul as a “psyche” which is simply a part of his body, and his conscience as a “super-ego” conditioned by his environment. His most spiritual acts of thinking, loving and remembering, by which the image of God in which he was created is specifically projected, thus become merely higher bodily functions and God no more than a universal “life force” identified as often as not with matter itself. 

Needless to say, the Incarnation of the Son of God, which constitutes the  core event upon which all history turns, must be systematically disregarded by the materialist as irrelevant fancy, for this singular occurrence brought the supernatural world definitively into the natural one once and for all. Not only was explosive testimony to the existence of the supernatural provided by the Resurrection of the Sacred Humanity from the dead, but that same Sacred Humanity remained among us under the appearances of bread and wine as a hidden Presence which is specifically characterized as Real, and instituted so that both body and soul may be fed on the ultimate divine Reality even in this life.

Presented to the senses under material species are nothing less than the Body and Blood of God, which sight, touch and taste are powerless to reveal. “Visus, tactus, gustus in te fallitur,“ as St. Thomas says in Adoro Te devote, his famous eucharistic hymn, “sed auditu solo tuto creditur,” only hearing being a sure guide for our faith, because “I believe everything the Son of God has said.” In the words of the hymn, “Only the Godhead was hidden on the Cross, but here the Humanity is hidden as well, yet I believe and acknowledge them both.” It closes with the prayer Jesu, quem velatum nunc aspicio, “Jesus, as I look on Thy veiled presence, I pray that what I long for so ardently may come about, and that I may see Thy face unveiled and be happy in the vision of Thy glory.”

This is what St. Paul was talking about when he told his Corinthian congregation that in this life, “We see now through a glass in an obscure manner,” for only in eternity shall we see “face to face”(1 Cor. 13:12). “In heaven – oh, my God, what a favor! ” exclaims St. Francis de Sales, “the Divinity will unite itself to our understanding without the mediation of any species or representation at all, but it will apply itself to our understanding, making itself in such sort present unto it, that the inward presence shall be instead of a representation or species.” [5] Only in heaven will we experience creation and all it contains as it really is, for only there will we enjoy immediate contact with God, seeking reality no longer through the senses, but directly in God’s Word, who in this life reveals how things really are only insofar as we are equipped to understand them through faith. 

In this sense the contemplative shut off from the world in his cell alone at prayer is closer to reality than the busiest captain of industry or media mogul immersed in the business of the world, let alone the astronaut in the farthest reaches of space. Through faith, loving contemplation provides the closest contact with reality possible in this life, with what the mystics could only express by means of mysterious contradictions. St. Denis the Areopagite called it “a ray of darkness;” St John of the Cross spoke of “silent music” and “sounding solitude.” Union with God brings us into the great invisible spiritual world in which we are at all times unconsciously immersed and on which we and the entire material universe depend for sustenance and our very existence. Our Lord granted a glimpse of this real world on Mount Tabor to His apostles Peter, James and John, fulfilling the promise He made to His disciples about a week previously that “there are some standing here that shall not taste death, till they see the kingdom of God.”

Appearing transfigured before them, He allowed them to behold, as the Byzantine liturgy puts it, “as much of His glory as they could hold,” for what took place was not so much a miracle as the momentary suspension of the continuing miracle which ordinarily veiled our Lord’s true aspect from weak mortal eyes while He was on earth. The synoptic Evangelists tell us that while our Lord was at prayer not only “the appearance of his countenance was altered,“ so that “his face did shine as the sun,” but likewise “his raiment became white and glittering. . . His garments became white as snow,” they “became shining and exceedingly white as snow, so as no fuller on earth can make them white” (Matt. 17:1-2; Mk. 9:1-2; Luke 9:27-29). In other words, in this preview of the kingdom of God, not only the Sacred Humanity, but matter itself shares in heavenly glory.

The Eastern Office celebrates the fact that God on this occasion,  “As witnesses to this grace and partakers of this joy . . . raised up Moses and Elias, the forerunners of the glorious and saving Resurrection made possible by the Cross of Christ.” Moses from among the dead and Elias still alive in his own body, as representatives of both categories of the redeemed, thus testify to the ongoing Communion between the saints in heaven and those on earth. Shown not only “appearing in majesty,” but taking an active interest in current history, Moses and Elias were heard speaking with our Lord about His coming Passion “which he was to accomplish in Jerusalem”(Luke 9:30-31). Materialists, for whom the immortal soul is pious fiction, would of course assume that these two great figures had long ago been dissolved into the great  “all,” never to re-appear as the same individuals, their substance recycled according to the dictates of chance into other evolving forms.

Until the end comes, when the Son of God “will reform the body of our lowness, made like to the body of his glory” (Phil. 3:21), the man without faith  lives out his life deaf, dumb and blind, totally unaware of the higher realities both human and angelic which not only surround him at all times, but take a personal interest in his problems. Even though possessing faith, the average Catholic adverts as rarely to the ever present holy guardian angels laboring to keep him on the sure path to salvation as to the malevolent demons plotting his destruction – not to mention the souls in Purgatory and the host of sainted relatives, forbears, friends and acquaintances who have now entered, or are about to enter fully into their eternal vocations, which they began pursuing in time only in order to bring them to fruition in eternity. 

Whether aware of it or not, the living collaborate with them, for the Mystical Body of Christ is one body, whose members, both living and dead, were created to work together both here and hereafter in perfect harmony according to the mind of Christ their head. “For as in one body we have many members, “ says St. Paul, “all the members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members of one another, and having gifts different according to the grace that is given” (Rom. 12:4-6). And again, “God hath tempered the body together . . . that there might be no schism in the body, but the members might be mutually careful for one another” (1 Cor. 12:24-25).

In view of this, how is it possible to ignore the greater part of that Body, merely because it is unseen? Far from severing the spiritual ties between heaven and earth, death only draws them closer. Didn’t the little Ste. Therese look forward to spending her heaven doing good on earth? How many ideas enter our heads which are presumed to be self-generated but are actually inspired, for good or ill, by the holy (or the malevolent) inhabitants of the vast intangible world lying just out of sight? How many successes and failures are due to the participation of any number of unknown participants in our efforts? Truly, “Our conversation,” if it is to be real conversation, can only be, as St. Paul says,  “in heaven” (Phil. 3:20).


The liturgy of the Eastern Rite says that Christ at His Transfiguration also revealed “through His Person that human nature is re-established in its original splendor.” This is fraught with practical consequences for the believing Catholic, for our father Adam possessed not only bodily powers, but angelic ones. He was created with an aptitude for purely spiritual communication by virtue of his immaterial soul, which with the body forms an integral part of  human nature. According to Anne Catherine Emmerich this constitutes “a mystery of a nature very difficult for fallen man to comprehend, one by which the pure in soul and body are brought into intimate and mysterious communication with one another.” Sr. Emmerich’s biographer Fr. Schmöger explains, “The undimmed splendor of baptismal grace is then according to her the first, the chief condition for the reception of the light of prophecy, for the developing of a faculty in man obscured by Adam’s fall: viz., capability of communicating with the world of spirit without interrupting the harmonies and natural relation of body and soul. Every man possesses this capability; but, if we may so speak, it is hidden in his soul; he cannot of himself overleap the barrier which separates the regions of sense from those beyond. God alone by the infusion of superior light can remove this barrier from the path of His elect; but seldom is such light granted, for few there are who rigorously fulfill the conditions exacted.”[6]                  

The thinking soul, being the form of the body as defined by the Council of Vienne in 1311, contains the body as a higher form contains a lower one, much as a polygon contains the square, the triangle and the pentagon. Resting on the authority of St. Thomas, the Trappist theologian Dom Alois Wiesinger explains that this means that “the human soul is not wholly submerged in the body nor completely enclosed by it, a thing which because of its higher degree of perfection is inconceivable, and that  in consequence there is nothing to prevent it from reaching out beyond the body in its effective power, despite the fact that with its substance it remains essentially in the body.” Although it is true that “insofar as it is united with the body, the soul can form no thought except with the aid of the mental pictures created by the imagination . . . the soul is not a form of the body which can be completely submerged in matter, and that because of its perfection. There is therefore nothing that stands in the way of certain of its faculties not being acts of the body. . .  .People have forgotten that the soul is a spirit and that it does not cease to be a spirit when it is united to the body, and that it requires no material connecting links for its activities.”

This semi-freedom of the soul from the body was present in Adam as a normal condition, which permitted him to hear “the voice of God walking in Paradise at the afternoon air” (Gen. 3:8) and to name the animals, not only by abstraction from sensual perception, but “cognizing things intuitively by the light that God had infused into him at the time of his creation.” It was presumably through the same kind of direct communication without the mediation of images, which is like that of the angels, that God counseled Adam and Eve. Scripture tells us, “He created in them the science of the spirit, he filled their heart with wisdom and showed them both good and evil. . . Moreover he gave them instructions and the law of life for an inheritance. . . And their eye saw the majesty of his glory and their ears heard his glorious voice, and he said to them: Beware of all iniquity!” (Ecclus. 17:5-11).

Unfortunately, they did not, and their fall from grace caused their souls to be weighed down by their bodies, depriving them and all their descendants of their original powers of   intuition. This happened gradually, for even after his sin, Cain was still able to communicate directly with God, but since the Flood, the faculty became nearly extinct, existing only in exceptional souls. St. Bernard says, “It was only through sin that reason was thus imprisoned in the senses; once man also had a spiritual eye that did not need the senses in order to know God, but this has now been clouded and darkened by sin and can only be cleansed for contemplation by asceticism.”

Vestiges of man’s primordial gift for spiritual communication nonetheless does survive to a greater or lesser degree in individuals, for as Dom Wiesinger   notes, “There remained to man his soul as such, with all its powers and faculties, though it was now constrained within the physical bounds of his body.”  Believing that  “the scholastic doctrine concerning the soul is the only one that provides a satisfactory solution for the problems of modern psychology and parapsychology,” he maintains that even now “the spirit soul can in certain circumstances partially withdraw itself and its body-bound part from the life of the senses and allow its activity to reach out beyond the body. From this there result phenomena such as we encounter in occultism and to some extent in the mystic life.” [7] 

The Benedictine spiritual master Dom John Chapman, Abbot of Downside, was firmly persuaded that the supernatural contemplative prayer which goes by the name of “mysticism” is based on this natural human faculty, given that God always works in us according to our  nature. As he put it, “The door to the unseen is connatural to integral nature as possessed by Adam, but filled up with lumber by original sin. But, in some souls there is a little light shining through, and if they blow out or shade their terrene candles and lamps [which is the work of Christian mortification], they begin to perceive this light. Once they use it, God can increase it and communicate with them in this new and higher way. Thus the door is a part of the perfection of human nature; the blocking of it is from the imperfection of our nature; the light through the door is supernatural, and all communication through it is from God – therefore a grace, a gift, and from the Holy Ghost.” [8] 

Another Benedictine, the German Fr. Mager in Theosophie und Christentum, concluded that all baptized persons should therefore be thought of as mystics, inasmuch as “Christianity is in its innermost being essentially mystical, for it proceeds from the fact that there is a direct connection between spirit-soul and God. The activity of the soul as a pure spirit is mystical, an activity that goes hand in hand with the elimination of the corporal-sensual and of the functions of the corporal soul.” He goes on to explain, however, that “this so called mystical contemplation is not the same as the contemplation of the blessed in heaven. It is the same kind of knowledge as, according to Catholic doctrine, is possessed by the departed soul in Purgatory, when it is not yet healed of all the wounds incurred during its association with the body. As long as the soul in its mode of being is still imprisoned in the body, the apprehensions of the spirit-soul cannot be direct, but only partially so.” 

Fr. Mager insists that “the mystical life does not imply anything unusual or exceptional that is reserved for specially privileged people.” It begins with ordinary vocal prayer, which can continue for a lifetime, and is rather “a part of that great transformation that must take place in man as he approaches his final perfection. It begins at that point where the soul, still bound to the body, begins to function as a pure spirit, that is to say, independently of the body. It means therefore the spiritualization of man, a withdrawal within himself, the attainment of independence by his purely spiritual part, the re-establishment of the spirit in its original sovereignty over the body” once naturally enjoyed by Adam. [9] 

The entry into the invisible, real world is therefore not far to seek. Didn’t our Lord tell us plainly, “Lo, the kingdom of God is within you?” (Luke 17:21) This is not pious metaphor, but a revelation of the very core of reality, to be found at the very center of our being. In our present earthly condition, this is as real as it gets. Not to believe it is to be hopelessly out of touch with what is actually going on in the world, a misfortune which led St. John of the Cross to exclaim in his Spiritual Canticle, “O souls created for these grandeurs and called thereto! What are you doing? Wherein do you occupy yourselves?”

[1]   Bk. III, Ch. 11
[2]  PG 57 hom.13
[3] The Mysteries of Christianity,  B. Herder Book Co., St. Louis, Mo., 1948, p. 202.
[4] Op. cit., p. 155
[5] Ibid.
[6]    Vol. 2, Ch. 1.
[7] Dom Alois Wiesinger, OCSO, Occult Phenomena, Roman Catholic Books, Fort Collins CO 80522, passim pp. 55-81, 268.
[8] The Spiritual Letters of Dom John Chapman, O.S.B. Sheed and Ward, London, 1954, p.71.
[9]  Quoted by Dom Wiesinger, pp.271-282.


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