The thrill of the mystery PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 13 July 2016 11:52

REFLECTION

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

This is not about the books and the movies that are called mystery thrillers. No matter how inventive and suspenseful, these are poor copies of what can take place when one manages to pray at the level of meditation and contemplation.

There’s something distinctive and unique in these moments of intimate prayer and conversation with God. One becomes aware he is not simply thinking or imagining and inventing. He gets engaged not only with an idea or a topic and is developing it.

He enters into a loving dialogue with a being at once so close and yet so far, both known and familiar and yet shrouded in pathless mystery. He knows he’s in contact with someone, and yet the contact is ethereal and elusive.

He also knows he is not just being tricked by his own mind or is engaging in solipsism. How does he know it? That again is a mystery hard to explain. But if ever one is pressed to answer that question, he will just invoke the full weight of his conscience to prove it. It’s simply beyond regular human ways of verification, but the signs are all there, visible also to those who have faith.

But there’s profound peace. It’s always there even if the considerations involve painful and sorrowful thoughts. This peace does not disappear even if one is shown a free range of things that can include unpleasant items in the human or natural sense.

The mind, or better said, the soul seems to travel, not so much of its own accord as of its being led and shown. One knows he is not just dreaming. He is seeing and hearing things. He knows he is talking, or better still, he is simply with someone. The experience beggars description. Words are completely inadequate.

Aside from peace, an indescribable joy and tenderness soak his consciousness. And there’s love too. One is always moved to react, reciprocate and correspond.

He does not come out of it simply knowing something. He glows, is transformed and filled with desires to do something with God, with others and with himself. A mysterious bonding takes place.

This experience, if really true, makes a person humble rather than proud, willing to suffer and undertake heroic deeds rather than merely enjoying the privilege. It launches him into an adventure of love that involves everything. A certain fear of God grips him, but a fear that makes him fearless in his actions.

This was the example of St. Paul and of many other saints and holy men and women down the ages. In the case of St. Paul, this was how he described it:

“I know a man in Christ above fourteen years ago (whether in the body, I know not, or out of the body, I know not. God knows), such a one caught up to the third heaven…

“I know such a man, that he was caught up into paradise, and heard secret words, which it is not granted to man to utter.” (2 Cor 12,2-4)

As to the effects of this experience, St. Paul had this to say: “For such a one I will glory. But for myself I will glory nothing, but in my infirmities…And lest the greatness of the revelations should exalt me, there was given me a sting of my flesh, an angel of Satan, to buffet me…

Thrice I asked the Lord, that it might depart from me. And he said: My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in infirmity. Gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” (5-9)

We have to understand that this kind of prayer is actually meant for all of us. If we correspond to God’s grace, we can do it. We cannot make any excuses, because in the first place this is what God wants and he himself enables us to have it.

We know that he reveals himself to the weak and simple, and so whatever claim of weakness and inadequacy we have can actually be our passport to be intimate with him.

He even goes to the extent, as in the case of St. Paul, to

reveal himself to one who was hostile to him. We have no excuse. We are meant for the fullness of God, as St. Paul also said. (cfr. Eph 3,19)

We just have to develop the proper dispositions, and some skills to be able to enter into meditative and contemplative prayer. At least, we have to set a proper time and place for it, irrespective of our earthly concerns.