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Mystics on Fire with Love
Mystics on Fire with Love

Love: The Fire of Transformation

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Scientist and theologian Ilia Delio presents images of fire to describe God’s presence in her life:

As a Franciscan on the edge of religious life, my experience of human love and divine love revealed to me a deep passion of life at the heart of life, a passion that enkindled my heart; in truth, I wanted to love God without measure.

Love is a fire of transformation that constantly needs wood to keep the fire alive. Real fire is destructive; throw yourself into a fire and you will be destroyed. God’s fire is destructive too because it can swiftly eliminate all self-illusions, grandiose ideas, ego-inflation, and self-centeredness. Throw yourself into the spiritual fire of divine love and everything you grasp for yourself will be destroyed until there is nothing left but the pure truth of yourself. [1] …

Deep within the cave of my heart, a depth that belongs to me alone, I recognize a fire that burns brilliantly and glows with warmth. Through that glowing fire I see the outline of a face, the face of Christ, but I also see my face, and then I begin to see Christ’s face as my face. Sometimes I cannot tell Christ’s face from my own face, and all at once I recognize a single face whose eyes are looking inward and outward. The word “God” simply doesn’t capture this infinite depth of my soul that stretches toward an endless horizon. By its sheer unlimited being I know it must be divine life, because it is life other than my own and yet entangled with my own life. [2]

Delio witnesses the fire in her heart as a universal invitation for each of us to be transformed:

Every human life is the cosmos winding its way into the future. Every life makes a difference to the life of the whole. I have come to know that the fire in my heart is the fire in the heart of the universe and that its flames will not be extinguished. This fire will destroy that which is not God and forge what is God into an ever-radiant new presence of God because God is forever being born within us. In this life, at this moment, I allow all that has shaped my life to be summed up in this seamless mysterious breath of life. I let go over and over again and jump into the lap of God’s loving embrace. Every moment I am falling in love with God. For God knows me in a deep way, a way that I still hardly know myself; and it is this endless inscrutable depth where love burns brightly that I learn to trust my thoughts, my words, my actions…. I have a mission because every person has a mission—to be the truth of who they are so that God can be God in them. The path to truth demands patience and trust, and this path is an open road within every human heart. [3]

[1] Ilia Delio, Birth of a Dancing Star: From Cradle Catholic to Cyborg Christian (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2019), 155–156.

[2] Delio, Birth of a Dancing Star, 202.

[3] Delio, Birth of a Dancing Star, 210–211.

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:  

The writings of Richard Rohr have put me in touch with the mystic I have long “sensed” within myself.… I’ve come to realize that some of my religious heritage is worth keeping and some is not.  As Christians, we have lingered far too long in excluding others—and it has held us all back. God does not exclude, ever. If we can keep what is valuable and leave the rest behind, we can move forward into, hopefully, a more universal experience. —Anne T.

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