Catholic Mystics

The mystics strove to develop a closer relationship with God by looking within. They believed that God revealed Himself in ways that were not readily apparent to those who did not know what to look for or were simply unaware.

Teresa of Avila

Teresa of Avila was a medieval Spanish Carmelite nun whose desire for a deeper relationship with God eventually manifested as a result of her longing and effort. Teresa shocked many people, even the most devout, with her ideas about strict reform that included austere poverty, flagellation, and the wearing of sandals instead of shoes, giving rise to the term discalced (“unshod”) Carmelites. For two years, she was convinced that she was in the physical presence of Christ, although she could not see Him. When she died, she left behind a rich legacy of devotional observations in her writings and her autobiography. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Teresa yoked her desire to manifest a closer relationship with the Lord with an intention and action, that is, her adherence to a physical life of strictest poverty and renunciation. Aligned in harmony with the Law of Attraction, she got what she wanted and more. In time, she shared her spiritual gifts through her books Life, The Way of Perfection, and The Interior Castle. She became the second of only three women to be named doctors of the Roman Catholic Church.

John of the Cross

Teresa sought help from John of the Cross to bring about reform of the Carmelite Order that involved monks. Like her, John became a mystic. He longed for silence and time for contemplation and got both when he was incarcerated in a jail in Toledo. There, he endured both regular public lashings and isolation. During his incarceration, he wrote poetically about his suffering and love for God. His ideas and writings about the maturation of the soul and the necessity for becoming deeply attached to God would eventually result in the church also recognizing him as a doctor of the church.

Hildegard of Bingen

Yet another Christian mystic, Hildegard of Bingen, who lived several centuries before John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila, experienced visions that started in childhood and continued until her death in a.d. 1179. During medieval times, women didn't keep journals or jot down their spiritual or ecclesiastical ideas, but Hildegard became convinced that she was being instructed by a heavenly voice telling her to record the information she gained during her ecstatic states of consciousness. Hildegard worried that she might be ridiculed by others and was reluctant to do as she was told. Eventually, however, she began dictating to her scribe what her inner visions unveiled for her. She also created musical compositions, a morality play, poetry, and works of art that revealed what she called mysteries and secrets of the Divine. Her body of work earned her high regard in the church.

When Hildegard was forty-two, a blinding light passed through her brain and conferred upon her the ability to know the meaning of religious texts. Her powerful intellect easily grasped an understanding of theology that most likely surpassed the best minds of male clerics of her time. With the blessing of Pope Eugenius, Hildegard produced her famous text, Scivias (translated alternately as Know the Paths or Know the Ways of the Lord). She likened herself to a feather lifted by the breath of God.

The Catholic Church has conferred the title of Doctor of the Church on only thirty-three individuals. Three are women — Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila, and Thérèse of Lisieux. Various popes through the ages have bestowed the title of Doctor upon individuals who have contributed ecclesiastical works that have defended, explained, or expounded upon the beliefs and truths of the faith.

Hildegard perhaps exemplified the Law of Attraction's ages-old idea that “as you think, so you become.” Some might say that Hildegard's prodigious works during her lifetime sprang from an inner world in which her thoughts, observations, reflections, and mystical revelation found fecund ground. Her desire to serve the Lord meant following the instructions of a heavenly voice telling her to reveal her knowledge even though her fear of condemnation literally made her ill. Nevertheless, Hildegard worked in tune with her calling and perception of truth — all in alignment with deeply held spiritual beliefs, and the Law of Attraction ensured that her inner contemplative process bore even more fruit. Her desire to serve the Lord meant expressing the knowledge she was being given.

From the interior world where she retreated to pray, meditate, and commune with the Lord, Hildegard brought forth a legacy that included more than 100 letters to religious clerics, seventy-two poems, nine books, and numerous works of art and musical compositions.

Hildegard wrote with insight and understanding about the human body and its illnesses and cures. She asserted that healing could come about through the use of things found in nature such as rocks, trees, animals, herbs, and even stones. Like a scientist, she knew how to attract knowledge of the workings of the natural world through observation. Her intellectual fortitude, some have said, grew stronger upon a foundation of combined comprehension of religion, science, and art. Miraculous healings were attributed to her intercession.

Augustine of Hippo

Augustine of Hippo was endowed with a great mind and oratorical skills, which he used in his service as a bishop in the early Christian church. He wrote, preached, and taught in Roman North Africa during the latter fourth century. He successfully manifested a powerful image of himself as an intellectually vibrant and powerful orator. He made the most of his genetic endowment for intellectual inquiry and oratory and was able to attract the means to further develop them. But Augustine was willful and intensely attached to sensual pleasure, and the Law of Attraction gave him more of that too. He developed a relationship with a young girl who became his concubine for fifteen years. When Augustine deeply desired to overcome the sensual things of life that bound him and kept him from having a more personal relationship with God, he translated his desire into conviction and action. When the law began to fulfill his desire for that experience, he wrote an intensely personal account of his struggle to come to terms with his sensual nature and to know God.

In his book, Confessions, Augustine wrote that he came to God too late. He expressed regret that he had thrust himself upon the beautiful things that God had created instead of turning within to seek God, the Creator. According to Confessions, it was only after sensing a voice telling him to “take and read,” was Augustine compelled to pick up a Bible where he read and obeyed a passage that instructed him to follow Christ. The Law of Attraction was at work at all times to give Augustine whatever he set his heart upon and felt driven to get — at first, stature as a hedonist and powerful orator; later, as a denunciate of hedonism and devoted follower of Christ.

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