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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

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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A Few Thoughts About Julian of Norwich (Video)

By Carl McColman | November 22, 2019

Here’s another one of the videos I filmed in the summer of 2015.  Previously on this blog I posted a video on mysticism. More will be coming, on topics like silence and contemplation. This particular video begins with a prayer by Julian of Norwich, and then I talk about who Julian was and why she…

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What is Mysticism — and What Does it Mean for Christians?

By Carl McColman | November 19, 2019

A couple of weeks ago I posted to this blog an article called Just What is Mysticism Anyway? And Why Should Anyone Care? But a few years ago, I made a short video that addresses pretty much the same topic, although geared specifically to Christians. In the summer of 2015 I filmed a series of…

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Understanding "The Dark Night of the Soul"

By Carl McColman | November 12, 2019

A reader writes, Carl, have you written any articles on the “dark night” or about the struggles we face on our paths? I’d be grateful if you could either link me to any articles you have written or to any books you think might be useful.  I have Dark Night of the Soul by St John…

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The Difference Between Meditation and Contemplation

By Carl McColman | November 1, 2019

A reader of my blog writes: As someone new and aspiring to find a more contemplative lifestyle, I’m curious of one thing. Is there a critical difference between sitting time and ‘observing silence, acknowledging God is present’ versus ‘meditating on God, whether through a holy text, your experiences with God, or other characteristics of God’?…

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Just What is Mysticism Anyway? And Why Should Anyone Care?

By Carl McColman | October 28, 2019

I love to tell the story of a monk, Fr. Anthony Delisi (author of Praying in the Cellar) who was my mentor as a Lay Cistercian and one of the earliest readers of my book, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism. One time, I gave Fr. Anthony an early draft of my book. He read through it, but…

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Romans 8:28-39: Basic Instructions for A Mystical Worldview

By Carl McColman | October 11, 2019

One of the most beautiful passages in the New Testament — perhaps even one of the most beautiful passages in all the wisdom literature of the world — comes from the 8th chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans. I think anyone interested in Christian mysticism and contemplative spirituality needs to be familiar with this…

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Prayer for Beginners: What is the Best Practice for Newcomers to Mystical Christianity?

By Carl McColman | October 3, 2019

A reader writes, I am emailing to ask you what particular practice of prayer you would suggest to someone starting out on the mystical path? I have a little experience of Zen sitting meditation and have tried to practice with the Jesus Prayer. There are differences between Centering Prayer (Keating) and Christian Meditation (Main). What…

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Is the Liturgy of the Hours a Required Practice for Christian Contemplatives Today?

By Carl McColman | September 30, 2019

A reader writes, I’ve been leaning into a contemplative way of life for a couple of decades now… I’ve settled down into a daily pattern of Examen, Lectio Divina, and Centering Prayer. Along this way, I’ve used Daily Office or Liturgy of the Hours. But I moved on, as they were “busy” and “noisy.” Every…

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


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