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Center for Action and Contemplation
Mystics on Fire with Love
Mystics on Fire with Love

Authentic and Humble Fire

Friday, February 16, 2024

Mystics and sages of all traditions speak of the inner fire, the divine spark hidden in our very cells and in all that lives. This flame of love is the pure presence of God.
—Paula D’Arcy, “A Surrender to Love,” Oneing, Spring 2017

Richard Rohr points to the inner authority and universal wisdom that characterize the writings of the mystics:

What characterizes the mystics is an amazing, calm clarity because their own agenda, fear, smallness, pettiness, and false self are out of the way. They are able to exist calmly inside of a larger connectivity, and from that place they speak with a kind of authority. That’s part of the reason they’ve always been kept at arm’s length by organized religion. Often, they’re only canonized centuries after they die—if they’re canonized at all. They weren’t quoting our familiar sources, the Scriptures, or systematic theology that make our coherent religious system fit together. Their vocabulary is often very creative, and even idiosyncratic. It’s their own experience, but their experience has become so grounded in an inner certitude that they don’t feel the need to justify it by using the language that the rest of us use. Yet, if we sit with their words and allow them to work upon us, we often find a kind of supreme orthodoxy. [1]

Father Richard praises the inherent humility of the mystics and others who have encountered God:

All the truly great persons I have ever met are characterized by what I would call “radical humility.” They are deeply convinced that they are drawing from another source; they are instruments. Their genius is not their own; it is borrowed. They understand that we are moons, not suns, except in our ability to pass on the light. Our life is not our own, yet, at some level, enlightened people know their life has been given to them as a sacred trust. They live in gratitude and confidence, and they try to let the flow continue through them. They know that love is repaid by love alone, as both St. Francis of Assisi and St. Thérèse of Lisieux taught.

God’s desire and our destinies are already written in our genes, our upbringing, and our natural gifts. To accept that each of us is just ourself is probably the most courageous thing we will ever do. Only the original manufacturer can declare what the product—each one of us—should be; nobody else. “Even every hair of your head has been counted,” as Jesus states (Matthew 10:30). God chooses us into existence, and continues that choice of us every successive moment, or we would fall into non-being. We are interrelated with Essential Being, participating in the very life of God, while living out one little part of that life in our own exquisite form.

Paradoxically, we can say our life is precisely about us, but once we know who we really are, we can hold this exquisite fire without burning up and burning out. [2]

[1] Adapted from Richard Rohr, Following the Mystics through the Narrow Gate: Seeing God in All Things (Albuquerque, NM: Center for Action and Contemplation, 2010). Available as MP3 audio download.

[2] Adapted from Richard Rohr, A Spring within Us: A Book of Daily Meditations (Albuquerque, NM: CAC Publishing, 2016), 134.

Image credit: Wonderlane, Untitled (detail), Seattle, 2020, photograph, public domain. Click here to enlarge image.

A fire of love can fill us up and shine out with great strength.

Story from Our Community:  

I’ve realized something—the only difference between live and love is a vowel. We all have the capacity to wield the force of love. Sometimes it can seem almost insignificant because it adds up slowly—incrementally. But cumulatively, it is the greatest (really, the only) force in all God’s creation. —John M.

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