The Origin of Roman Catholic Mysticism
In the 12th and 13th centuries, going back to the Eastern mystics, there was great interest in mysticism. From this interest, some mystical elements were found among new orders of monks being formed, such as the Franciscans of Saint Francis and the Dominicans of Saint Dominic. It was not, however, until the 16th century that mystics such as Ignatius Loyola, Teresa of Avila, and John of the Cross developed a systematized mysticism in their writings. These well-known instigators of mysticism laid out steps by which a person was to achieve personal union with the divine. The modern arousal of interest in Catholic mysticism can be traced in the 20th century to Thomas Merton (1915-1968), a Trappist monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani of Kentucky USA. He wrote many books and essays. For example, Merton taught that there exists a divine core to the human person that the person discovers through mysticism. Thus Merton stated,
“…now I realize what we all are. And if only everyone could realize this!… I suddenly saw all the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God’s eyes. If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed…. I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other.”
The Catholic priest, William Shannon, is a devotee of Merton. He often cites his mentor, as he does with the following quote that endorses an idolatrous self-identification with God. Shannon writes,
“A person of true faith travels, not without difficulty, towards the heart of mystery. Such a person, as Merton puts it, works ‘his way through the darkness of his own mystery until he discovers that his own mystery and the mystery of God merge into one reality, which is the only reality.’ DQ 180:
These quotations from Merton and Shannon are standard descriptions of the pantheistic myth of modern Catholicism that identifies Being or Nature with God with human nature or essence. These blasphemous lies are merely further expansion of the basic teaching of Vatican Council II that stated that there is an element of the divine in mankind. Thus, Merton and Shannon, in their pantheistic identification of God, have attempted to destroy God’s self-sufficiency as Creator and as the Lord God Almighty. They have endeavored to clone God into the image of humans. According to Romans 1:25, they have attempted to, “changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever.” In the place of the true worship of God, they have set about to establish pantheistic idolatry.
Evangelical Endorsement of Catholic Mysticism
Many see the so-called Evangelical, Richard Foster, as the person who preceded the Emerging Church leaders in seeking for pantheistic identification with God. Foster stated, “Contemplative Prayer immerses us into the silence of God. How desperately we in the modern world need this wordless baptism!… Progress in intimacy with God means progress toward silence.” Foster asks rhetorically, “What is the goal of Contemplative Prayer?” And he answers, “To this question the old writers answer with one voice: union with God…. Bonaventure, a follower of Saint Francis, says that our final goal is ‘union with God,’ which is a pure relationship where we see ‘nothing’.” Foster’s statement, “Our final goal is ‘union with God’,” is just an Evangelical rehashing of the Catholic concept of a divine element with man as the basis of mankind’s union with God. Foster has a whole website devoted to deceitful mysticism. See Renovare.org. In 2005, he went so far as to publish what he calls the “Renovare Study Bible” to further pave the trail for pantheistic identification with God. Subsequent to Richard Foster the Emergent Church movement has been the most successful promoter of Catholic mysticism, and increasingly the movement is affecting many people across the world.