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Paul: The Misunderstood Mystic
Paul: The Misunderstood Mystic

Paul: The Misunderstood Mystic: Weekly Summary

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Paul is probably one of the most misunderstood and disliked teachers in the Church. I think this is largely because we have tried to understand a nondual mystic with our simplistic, dualistic minds. —Richard Rohr

Paul is the first clear successor to Jesus as a nondual teacher. He creates the mystical foundations for Christianity. It’s a mystery of participation in Christ. It’s not something that we achieve by performance. It’s something that we are already participating in, and often we just don’t know it. —Richard Rohr

Paul recognizes that the greatest enemy of ordinary daily goodness and joy is not imperfection, but the demand for some supposed perfection or order. —Richard Rohr

Paul sings the praises of active love, of charity, inspired by the fire of divine love and outlines a vision of the cosmic Christ, the Christ who “is all, and is in all.”  —Ursula King

People like Jesus and Paul were not executed for saying, “Love one another.” They were killed because their understanding of love meant standing against the domination systems that ruled their world, and collaborating with the Spirit in the creation of a new way of life. —Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan

Without the resurrection to enliven his experience of suffering, Paul would have been both afflicted and crushed, perplexed and driven to despair, struck down and destroyed. But he is not. The Risen Christ illumines everything. —Julia Gatta

The Mind of Christ

We encourage you to create some space this week for intentional silence and stillness, using Father Richard’s description of contemplation and “the mind of Christ” as an entry into prayer:

In contemplative practice, we refuse to identify with any one side, while still maintaining our intelligence. We hold the creative tension of every seeming conflict and go beyond words to pure, open-ended experience, which has the potential to unify many seeming contradictions. We cannot know God the way we know anything else; we only know God subject to subject, by a process of mirroring. This is the “mind of Christ” (see 1 Corinthians 2:16). It really is a different way of knowing, and you can tell it by its gratuity, its open-endedness, its compassion, and by the way it is so creative and energizing in those who allow it.

Truly great thinkers and cultural creatives take for granted that they have access to a different and larger mind. They recognize that a Divine Flow is already happening and that everyone can plug into it. In all cases, it is a participative kind of knowing, a being known through and not an autonomous knowing. The most common and traditional word for this change of consciousness was historically “prayer,” but we trivialized that precious word by making it functional, transactional, and supposedly about problem solving. The only problem that prayer solves is us!

Experience a version of this practice through video and sound.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Just This (Albuquerque, NM: CAC Publishing, 2017), 38–39.

Explore Further. . .

Image credit: Jenna Keiper, Trash Can Study I (detail), 2020, photograph, New Mexico, used with permission. Dorothea Lange, “Bum blockade.” (detail), 1936, photograph, public domain. Jenna Keiper, Trash Can Study II (detail), 2020, photograph, New Mexico, used with permission. Jenna Keiper and Leslye Colvin, 2022, triptych art, United States.

This week’s images appear in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story. 

Image Inspiration: The images on the left and right may not be immediately clear upon first glance. Perhaps there is room for our questions to stay with us gently, taking their time, until understanding slowly emerges as we walk along.

Prayer for our community:

God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough,  because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.

Listen to the prayer.

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This year’s theme

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Radical Resilience

We live in a world on fire. This year the Daily Meditations will explore contemplation as a way to build Radical Resilience so we can stand in solidarity with the world without burning up or burning out. The path ahead may be challenging, but we can walk it together.

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Our theme this year is Radical Resilience. How do we tend our inner flame so we can stand in solidarity with the world without burning up or out? Meditations are emailed every day of the week, including the Weekly Summary on Saturday. Each week builds on previous topics, but you can join at any time.
In a world of fault lines and fractures, how do we expand our sense of self to include love, healing, and forgiveness—not just for ourselves or those like us, but for all? This monthly email features wisdom and stories from the emerging Christian contemplative movement. Join spiritual seekers from around the world and discover your place in the Great Story Line connecting us all in the One Great Life. Conspirare. Breathe with us.