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What is Christian Mysticism?

What is mysticism? What is contemplation? How are they connected, and how do they relate to Christianity?
Read this post to begin to explore this ancient path of spirituality.

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Why Mysticism Matters

What difference does mystical spirituality make? How can mysticism help you to grow spiritually, or to find a more meaningful inner life? What is the relationship between mysticism, holiness, and social justice?

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Embrace the Mystical Life

What do mystics do? What does it take to begin, or sustain, a contemplative practice? How can you integrate the mystical path into your busy life?
The wisdom of the mystics (ancient and modern) shows us the way.

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Want to learn more about Christian mysticism? You've come to the right place.

We live in an age when many people say, "I'd rather be spiritual than religious." But what if there were a path where you could integrate the best of both worlds - the best wisdom and practices of a truly life-transforming spirituality, combined with the rituals, practices, and ethical aspirations of religion at its best?

Welcome to the path of Christian mysticism.

Christian mysticism is a dimension of spirituality which stresses a teaching that goes all the way back to Christ himself: "The kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:21) - and, connected to that, even further back to the beautiful wisdom of the Psalms: "Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10).

Every century since the time of Christ has been blessed with people who truly embody that "reign of God" in their hearts, and who have left behind poetry, wisdom, and teachings to help ordinary Christians to find their own path to the presence of God within - the "via mystica."

The content on this website is designed to help you learn more about the mystics - and to apply their wisdom to your life.

Latest Posts

The Prayer of Recollection: A Classic Mystical Practice as Taught by Evelyn Underhill

By Carl McColman | November 24, 2020

Contemplative spirituality has its own jargon, and this “language of prayer” evolves over time. Nowadays you’ll find students of the mystical path speaking about meditation, nonduality, mindfulness and heightened consciousness, whereas a century ago you’d be more likely to encounter terminology like mental prayer, unitive life, recollection and rapture. Sometimes words themselves evolve in how…

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Praying with the English Mystics

By Carl McColman | May 16, 2020

Dear friends, I have now experienced what it is like to direct a spiritual retreat online. And while it is certainly not the same thing as a retreat in person (especially at a monastery, surrounded by the atmosphere of prayer and the timeless cadences of monastic chant), it is still a way for us to…

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Twelve Mystics Who Lived Through Epidemics and Pandemics

By Carl McColman | April 13, 2020

It’s been over a month now since the World Health Organization has acknowledged that COVID-19 is a pandemic. As of today (4/13/20), over 22000 Americans and 116,000 people worldwide have died from the virus; and those numbers will certainly rise in the days and months to come. While this is not the plague (which decimated…

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“Don’t Call Yourself a Mystic” — How Kenneth Leech’s Challenge Helped Me To Embrace Contemplative Practice

By Carl McColman | April 8, 2020

In my book Unteachable Lessons I talk about Kenneth Leech, the Anglican priest who wrote a variety of books on topics related to both contemplative spirituality and the struggle for social justice (if you’re not familiar with Ken Leech, check out Prayer and Prophecy, an anthology of his most essential writings). I only met Ken on a…

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“For Darkness is as Light to You” — Why Mysticism Isn’t Afraid of the Dark

By Carl McColman | February 10, 2020

One of the most powerful images in the Bible is the distinction between light and dark. Light represents God, or Christ, or goodness; darkness, by contrast, represents ignorance, or evil, or sin. Consider, for example, this passage from the first letter of John: This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to…

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Seven Mystical Affirmations

By Carl McColman | February 6, 2020

Currently I’m reading two classic self-help books, both for my personal edification and as research for a project I’m working on. The books are Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way and John Bradshaw’s Healing the Shame that Binds You. If you’re not familiar with these books, they have long been perennial bestsellers in the self-help market: Cameron’s book is…

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Silent Prayer Every Day: How Much Do We Need?

By Carl McColman | January 27, 2020

A reader writes, I just finished reading the article about having everything you need for Divine union. I want to share it with my Carmelite spirituality group. However, I don’t understand one sentence. It’s this one: “ I would invite you to pray every day, with at least some of that prayer including contemplative silence.”…

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Can Contemplation Change the World?

By Carl McColman | January 23, 2020

Four years ago I wrote a blog post titled Is Contemplation Dangerous? It was a review of a book called The Buddha Pill: Can Meditation Change You? Written by two British psychologists, the book looks at a variety of meditation practices, such as Transcendental Meditation and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, the book offers a balanced assessment…

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What We Need for Union with God

By Carl McColman | December 16, 2019

Recently I posted this quote from Fr. Thomas Keating on Facebook: If you’re curious about the source of this quote, it is found on page 71 of Open Mind, Open Heart. In response, one reader posted this question as a comment: Carl, what, in practice, does divine union actually mean? Surely we’ll be totally at…

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The Chrysalis and the Butterfly: A New Way to Think About the Relationship Between Spirituality and Religion

By Carl McColman | December 12, 2019

“I’m spiritual but not religious.” It’s an increasingly common way for people to identify their relationship to spirituality (as a system for personal growth) and religion (as an institution that requires membership, conformity, and submission). The younger you are, the more likely you will agree that this statement describes you. It’s ubiquitous enough that it’s…

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Visit A Mystical Catechism — an "FAQ" page for Christian Mysticism.


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