I am zeroing in on these redacted paragraphs from Meng-hu's assessment of Mystic Personalities in 2007 blogpost, Hermit's Thatch. Some of it is chilling to my inner core.
I live in the Western World, and I have invested over 21 years in the temporal Catholic Church world of parishes and priests. I have tried and tried to fit in, to donate time, energy, resources, to do good works of mercy and spirit. Yet time and again I have been rejected in various ways, shunned, told by priests to not return, or in this last instance told that I was appreciated and welcome, when instead was an occasion of sin for parishioners and priest alike.
It is all the same, even if at first a priest and/or bishop is intrigued or excited with having a mystic in their midst. The problem is with the Western culture, with the scarcity of mystics which is nothing new in history: God has few mystic souls in any generation. However, even among mystics, their roles vary, and I am having a hard time at this juncture, accepting that my role is even more extreme, more hidden, more filled with suffering than I ever anticipated. I suppose we never anticipate such things, though, no matter our vocations, paths, callings, destinies--spiritual or temporal.
A friend just called. God always has her call when I am stripped. Somehow He tags her to call. She agrees it is very sad that I am not acceptable to the temporal Catholic Church. However, she said I am very much a Catholic. Of course I am. But I am trying to accept, myself, that I am on my way out into the extremes of the deep waters where I will never be able to touch ground and must swim in faith from here on out. One can know it will be exhausting in some ways, yet freeing in other ways, particularly when I am no longer burdened by temporal issues, especially even the temporal debates that plague the administrative aspects of church, or even of vocations.
My writings as a consecrated Catholic hermit are hindered when there have been aspects of the temporal world sucking me down. This includes quoting and explaining the vocational path of the traditional Catholic hermits very much living in the Consecrated Life of the Church. Bottom line, as we can quote a past politician: "What difference does it make now?" It does not and never really did much, not to me, not to Jesus, not spiritually as a mystic.
No, all the temporal issues and hassles and even the eremitic vocational titles and Catechism parameters or canon law repetitions and minor additions, do not really matter other than to create a cohesive vehicle for passing through life vocationally. What matters is the soul, the spiritual ascent, the closeness with God, the desire for union and the great love that ought permeate all levels and dimensions of body, mind, heart, and soul.
My hermit vocation now appears to me as simply the vehicle of my life, which followed the vehicle of my responsibilities and joys of parenting dependent children, concluded. Then came the joy of hermit life, of learning the ropes and living the daily and nightly eremitic existence for what will be the rest of my earthly life.
However, it is a vehicle--like the New Balance cross-training shoes I wear upon my painful feet, or like the shirt on my back, or like the mattress upon which I recline for rest in pain and for sleep. This vocation that is fitted to perfection to each hermit--a vehicle, a modality that the Lord tweaks and tightens, as He is tightening it for me, personally, a lot right now, stripping me further, showing the way to more austerity, more detachment, more suffering.
But being born a mystic, that is not a vocation. And now I am beginning to sense and see, to be shown, that the priority of my existence, prayer, writing, loving, being, is as a mystic, centered in Christ, seeking union with God, doing His will and bidding for whatever earth time remains. The hermit vocation is but a vehicle, and for some they are traveling more visibly, more actively, more in the temporal Catholic world. The reason for my misfit is not that I am in a hermit vocation but that I am a mystic. Am a mystic, not by choice other than God's bequeathing the mystic mantle at my conception in my mother's womb. Am a mystic who is traveling this life now in the hermit vocation.
Thus, my writing must reflect the priority, the ordering of my body, mind, heart and soul. As a mystic who has a hermit vocation, the beingness is that of mystic, and the modality, the vehicle, is hermit, and a more defined and stricture of hermit vocation than what non-mystics live. The mystic thus is the burr in the sock of life, and very much in the life of parishioners and parish priests, and in religious orders where many, especially women mystics, were kept off in cells, ordered to stay to themselves such as were Faustina Kowalska and my confirmation patronness, Josefa Menendez.
Hidden away, unacceptable to others within their own religious orders as I am to parishes and would also be to religious orders even though for temporal reasons not acceptable due to age, health, and so forth. The temporal laws, the temporal mores, the temporal fears and suspicions--they create the sideways crosses for the Catholic mystics of the Western church. This is my mystic way, my mystic existence carried along in time and place via a cordoned hermit vehicle.
Writing as a mystic will hopefully do more for my spiritual life and soul as well as for readers, without the occasion of sin I became for detractors caught up more in the hermit vocation vehicle or the temporal aspects of church, as I had been as well--sucked down by the snares of that which conflicted with my mystic being, my mystic soul, my mystic destiny for this life and all eternity. Shameful that I stubbornly remained in such identity confusion, putting vocation before being, before inner destiny.
Now, I pray, that the Lord will better be able to utilize me for the writing He had asked of me years ago and in the suffering that I pray to better accept.
I italicized some of the thoughts expressed in the following redaction about mystic personalities and acceptance in context of East and West.
"The Western world has little tolerance historically for hermits, anchorites, and solitaries, let alone mystics, most of whom were objects of suspicion of heresy. Inevitably, the subjective content of their experiences were bound to enrich their understanding of theological definitions, and therein confront ecclesiastical necessity of controlling dogma and teaching. Unwisely expressed, mysticism in the West was an intolerable projection of subjectivity. But so too was eremitism.
"In contrast, Eastern cultures have not only tolerated hermits, solitaries, and mystics but fostered them. In the East the content of belief is fluid, not in the sense of relative but in being ultimately a matter of individual integration, with social and cultural latitude for this internalizing process and consequent expression.
"Such a subjective process does no harm to culture and society in the East because it is viewed as a refinement of a personal gift cultivated individually and returned in a creative way to society at large.
"In such a context, a mystic personality seems possible, even if stereotypical to critical Western onlookers. The life of the hermit, whether from historic India, China, Japan, Tibet, Thailand, or elsewhere in the East, does not threaten society or accepted beliefs. The lives of hermits are sources of edification in such social contexts. Where the lives of saints in the West serve to accommodate personality types and dispositions, this function is not taken literally but as a metaphor for expressions, carefully tempered. In the East, the saints are colorful, garrulous, even literal. It is hard to see them as merely mundane.
"The famous photo of Ramakrishna in an ecstatic state confirms to every Western viewer the stereotype of the mystic. There are some equivalents in the West but they would not be allowed such a prominent influence in spiritual practice because mysticism is an uncontrolled element in the West. Yet this ecstatic state is not a norm, and is not expressed as a norm anywhere, for the East has a more carefully mapped study of enlightenment than exists elsewhere. Shunryu Suzuki, the Zen master, was always insistent that enlightenment was not a priority, a pursuit, or a conceit. For the mundane, it is all the same to just practice.
"For the solitary in the West, the dominance of psychology and social conformity still permits a discrete pursuit of mystical themes, as even the great 20th-century physicists show. So, too, does solitude and silence have to underplay their presence in our public lives in order to safeguard themselves not from a past ecclesiastical authority but from the conformist society of the present."