Went to Mass last Sunday--and what was to be the most crowded was thankfully not all that full. People later remarked it was about half the usual attendance. Something else of the world going on, they said; the people went to the other weekend Masses.
The spiritual father had suggested this nothing consecrated Catholic hermit sit with the family who had suggested it be in the pew with them, to avert possible concern or misunderstood touching leading to injuries. So the hermit did that despite not really wanting to be in a crowded situation. Must die to self. Must.
Dying to self is not easy. This hermit thinks it has come to some aspect of dying to self only to discover there are many more aspects yet to death and dying.
Per the past seven years during any Mass in any parish, no matter what, the ecstasy began in full swoop during the first reading of the Living Word of God. Inklings begin at the very onset of Mass, however. But the total removal of all physical faculties occurs when the first Scripture reading commences.
During the homily, there was an intrusion by the priest. It was most uncomfortable--just something termporal that tells a lot about the personality or needs of the priest, thus temporal, thus not bliss. It is good to reflect upon this own hermit's life and moments spent, day and night. The temporal does not equate with spiritual bliss, does it? No, and that is probably a huge part of the cross we humans bear, for we are human and temporal although dying to seek and acquire His love, His enraptured bliss--even if we do not realize this is our desire.
Often, the temporal distracts us from the reality of our desire for His Real Presence to consume us, to subsume us into His Real Presence. Those who are distracted and taken over by evil more and more, lose yet more opportunity to encounter His bliss. But it is not impossible. With God, of course, all things are possible.
However, this nothing consecrated Catholic hermit has considered that perhaps His Real Presence does not intend to let it know why this ecstasy continues to occur during Mass and only during Mass. And there is no mistaking it for anything else. All other has been tested, even to painful injury, even by psychological review, and perhaps the least in some aspects, by a Catholic bishop determining it is of God.
Yet this hermit has asked once more, of His Real Presence, "Why? What is the point?" For, it has already been told what is the point for its own self. He has said early on, This is how I am loving you!
By now, though, it would seem it should not keep occurring, for the hermit has accepted His love and appreciates His love. And, granted, the ecstasy is beyond comparison to any other mystical experience this side of death and heaven.
No priest nor bishop questioning the hermit has been able to relate. One asked, "Does your heart kind of flutter"? It is far beyond the heart fluttering, so there was no sense in trying to describe what is rather indescribable, much as one can try. Dr. H. perhaps grasps the closest to anyone, since he is adept and experienced in various forms of the paranormal; he has studied and interviewed and worked with those who have a variety of experiences--not all spiritual, of course. And there is a difference between spiritual and mystical experiences and psychic experiences.
Regardless, while this hermit ponders that surely there must be something other, something more that His Real Presence desires from this mystical ecstasy during Mass, it may simply be a reminder to all of us of the power of the Mass, and of all seven sacraments as well as the power of His Living Word, in every Mass, from beginning to end, including processional music.
Plus, about four years ago the hermit was given the insight that His Real Presence notices the lack of devotion and elevation of love for all the Sacraments and His Word--and to raise our devotion and love for all of Him to the level of our love and devotion of His Body and Blood. This is not to say that we devalue His Body and Blood; but it is true that often we do not devote ourselves or avail ourselves of the other sacraments, and we can tend to not pay attention to His LIVING WORD!
Perhaps there is something more to this gift that the hermit must continue to share with others, such as Dr. H. had suggested awhile ago. Perhaps there are some healing qualities for others in the Mass, for the amount of power and love of God that flows in such a force during a mystical ecstasy, is, again, beyond description.
Today this hermit could not attend Mass. It has been trying to paint the exterior of the house, and being up on ladders, tediously painting tiny spaces between siding shingles, brushing carefully the trim paint in tidy lines, and then doing it all a second coat, did cause an increase in pain. Two days this past week, the hermit could not rise from the mattress on the floor; this morning was one of them.
So the hermit prayed, read the Living Word for this Sunday's Mass readings, left a message on the family's phone with whom it would sit, and began reading the Letter to the Hebrews as a spiritual prayer gift for a friend who turned 88 today. Each day for 13 days, the hermit will pray/read a chapter from Hebrews and email a specific prayer intention relative to the person's life, relationship with family, friends, and His Real Presence. Then, later in the day, will email a reflection based on the chapter of Christ's Word, as it relates to the person and the prayer intention. Fun!
The hermit just finished a birthday spiritual gift for its cousin--pray/reading 1 and 2 Thessalonians in like format, with daily intentions. The cousin is Protestant and wary of things Catholic; the hermit made sure she knew this was not some Catholic devotion. In the past, the cousin has asked about such things, for there is a friend where she lives who is Catholic. Again, the cousin is wary of all things Catholic. We must be considerate and sensitive. Bias is often inbred environmentally from an early age; it is as if the person cannot help it.
For some people, such as those turning 90 or some milestone birthday, the hermit has offered daily Psalms--each from a decade of the person's life and each with a specific prayer intention covering each of the person's lived decade of life. It is good to ponder what types of situations the person may have or actually did live in that decade, such as a Psalm in the 20's for that decade in years, or one in the 90's for that decade. The Holy Spirit never fails to have a connection! The Psalm spiritual gift is especially good for those not Catholic or if Catholic perhaps not as into reading the Bible. Most all Christians are familiar with some Psalms, and they are shorter in some cases, than a Bible chapter.
Anyway, the above is an aside from the topic of mystical ecstasies. This consecrated Catholic hermit has had to research in often times old books, but written by experts in the field or by renowned spiritual directors or scholars, of other centuries. Plus reading the experiences of other mystics, now deceased but verified as not hysterics, has been helpful. The truth is, there is much ignorance about dealing with such matter or recognizing the symptoms of such an experience. And, it really does not much good seeking opinions from nor reading what those who have never experienced nor have intimately known anyone who has experienced an actual mystical ecstasy. These folks are dealing with guesswork when it comes to expounding, not that it matters other than if you are one who begins to experience a mystical ecstasy.
A couple of the many books this hermit has found most helpful has been one titled Mystical Phenomena Compared with their Human and Diabolical Counterfeits: A Treatise on Mystical Theology....by Most Rev. Albert Farges, trans. from French in 1926. [The Catholic hermit recommends the complete version, not the shortened excerpted Chapter X now in paperback.] Another solid but shorter, excellent coverage of the topic is by the late mystical scholar of Cambridge University's David Knowles: What Is Mysticism?
On another aside, this nothing consecrated Catholic hermit has considered that the children of the family it sat with last Sunday, are pre-teen and teen in age. This is an age of extreme self-consciousness and desire to distance from anything different or embarrassing. So although the hermit has not had occasion to speak with its director again, and considering the hermit most likely has more pain in morning than later in day, it might be best to not sit with the family in sensitivity to the children; and to attend the Saturday evening Mass.
Perhaps the retired fireman and his wife would sit with the hermit, or better, just the simple sign. Dr. H. has not returned the call yet, seeking his advice on potential other aspect of purpose in the ecstasy, but it sometimes takes him a couple or more weeks. He is in demand and very busy with his practice. Dr. H. tends also to be very practical, so his insights always lend themselves to what the spiritual father has to say--who humbly and wisely always honestly says he really does not know. Yes, he has been the only cleric who has had the wisdom to say he has never known of anything like this, but he has read of it, and most important, he knows this hermit's soul over a long period of time.
If any of this helps others, great. While there may not be those who have experienced mystical ecstasy, it is quite different than contemplation or contemplative prayer. Mystical ecstasy is a definite and powerful loss of all physical senses and faculties. A person in ecstasy could be injured and not feel it during the ecstasy, or someone could try to lift the person or make the limbs move, to no avail. The pulse is barely discernible, the breathing nearly non-existent in a physical way.
Yes, it is as close to the hermit's documented death experience between back surgeries 28 years ago this summer, as anything the hermit could describe. But it still is not like the death experience--just close to it. The death experience is total bliss with no intrusions...unless as in the hermit's case, one is sent back into the body to live out its time on this temporal earth and fulfill its mission.
God bless His Real Presence in us! God so loves us, little children, and asks us to love one another!