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Wednesday, 31 May 2017 00:00

Who says that mysticism is not appealing?

MADRID, Spain.
In the afternoon of May 20, the auditorium of Colegio Mayor Poveda in Madrid was filled with people interested in a subject that, at first glance, does not seem to have much appeal today. The event was the presentation of a book by Anabela Neves Rodrigues, member of the Teresian Association in Portugal, titled "La luz que nosilumina” (The light that illuminates us.)


Mónica González Navarro, Director of Narcea Ediciones, presented the author as a Doctor in Theology from the Catholic Universityof Lisbon, a graduate in Spirituality from Comillas University, Madrid, and a specialist in St. Teresa of Jesus and St. John of the Cross.

Felisa Elizondo, who holds a PhD in Theology from the University of Santo Tomás in Rome, has taught at San Damaso Center in Madrid and at the Pastoral Institute of the Pontifical University of Salamanca in Madrid, made an introduction to Anabela’s book. The book speaks of an inaccessible light, uncreated light, immutable light, living light and Trinitarian light, a presentation later developed by Anabela.

Oriental mystics bathed by light

The book “La luz que nos ilumina” is divided into two long chapters: one dedicated to the mystical experience of light in the East and the other dedicated to the West. Why light?

The book of Exodus says: "You cannot see God and live" (Exodus 33:20). For mystics, this means that one cannot see God with the light of our reason, but in the depth of our being. It is the inner certainty that God inhabits us. For the mystic, to be filled with the divine presence means feeling onelself before the Presence of God, it means to be aware of a presence that is beyond ourselves. It is the luminous transparency of a God who appears as light. In relating their experiences, many mystics refer to a light that strongly illuminates their interior. At this point it is worth mentioning the experiences of the recently canonized Fatima shepherds who said that "the Lady is light."

More remote in time, but with the same experiences, are St. Basil, St. Gregory of Nyssa and St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Pseudo Dionysius, St. Simeon the New Theologian, St. Anthony Abbot, St. Gregory Palamas, the anonymous author of "The Russian Pilgrim" and so many other Oriental Fathers who converge on the same experience.

The themes of Light in the mystics of the West

These authors, because they are closer in time, are better known. Going through the book, we can see how St. Augustine, St. Hildegard of Bingen, St. Teresa of Jesus and St. John of the Cross had experiences of this kind. For example, St. Augustine says: " I entered and with my soul's eye, such as it was, saw above that same eye of my soul the immutable light higher than my mind — not the light of every day."

Saint Hildegard, a Benedictine nun of the twelfth century also writes: "I saw a very splendid light and, in it, a human form, which burned whole in a blazing fire. And that splendor of light flooded all the fire. "

And our dear Saint Teresa affirms in the sixth dwelling places that the soul "is shown another light so different from the one of this earth, that if she spent all her life making it, that would be impossible to achieve ... the imagination cannot fathom it…."


The light that illuminates us

It might seem that such experiences are beyond our reach; and it is not so. All who had these experiences put the means to make that inner journey, to receive and let the light of God emerge. To the extent that we allow ourselves to be invaded by that light we can move closer and closer to living it more intensely and reflect it in our faces and actions. We cannot forget that we are children of the light.

Pilar Pazos, Narcea Ediciones