Becoming An Ordinary Mystic: Book Review

I am excited to share my review of Becoming An Ordinary Mystic: Spirituality For The Rest Of Us by Albert Haase, OFM.

Pulled directly from his web site:

Ordained a Franciscan priest in 1983, Albert Haase, OFM, is a popular preacher, teacher, spiritual director and guest on talk radio shows. A former missionary to mainland China for over eleven years, he is the award-winning author of eleven books on popular spirituality and the presenter on five best-selling DVDs. He is currently chaplain at Cedarbrake Catholic Retreat Center, Temple TX.

Let me share my 6 takeaways from this wonderful book.

(I received this book for free to review and this post may contain affiliate links.)

Ordinary Mystic

“Ordinary mystics are always watching for the myriad ways God invites them to a deeper relationship.”

“Mystics are waitresses, welders, writers, and web designers who heartily respond to the direct and enthusiastic invitation of Jesus, “Come, follow me.””

“A personal, mysterious, and incomprehensible God of unconditional love ardently longs for us and enthusiastically invites us to a deeper relationship.”

Who is a mystic? We are all mystics! God seeks each one of us. We each pick up the voice of God and go deeper into our relationship with this God in the way that works best for us. We might write, draw, paint, walk, meditate, read, sing, dance, chant and find the God who seeks us there. We also find the God who seeks us in our everyday tasks we perform as workers, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends. I ask again who is a mystic. The answer is YOU. You are a mystic.

 

Present Moment

“Fully experience this utterly unique and unrepeatable moment. It will never, ever happen again.”

“To live with attention to the present moment is to be open to a divine visitation.”

““Do what you are doing and do it well.” That’s living in the sacrament of the present moment and responding to the will of God.”

“Jesus’s cardiac spirituality includes being mindful of this present moment’s unmet need or required duty and responding to it with a loving, merciful, humble, and compassionate heart.”

“Our daily pilgrimage is to the first-class cabin called the present moment.”

To be fully present is to be here. Not in the past. And not in the future. It means we enjoy this moment. It will never happen again. I watch the sun rise or set. I look at the beautiful assortment of autumn leaf colors before they gently drop to the ground.

I watch my 11 year old son spontaneously play as he giggles, hops and jumps around. I sip my coffee at the local Starbucks and watch the customers come in and out. Some are hurried. Others sit. Read. Talk. Take a break from their hectic lives.

It also means we listen to a stranger. Feed someone who is hungry. Give a coat to someone who is cold. We meet the need of the present moment!

Are You Here?

“Some of us are here and yet we live in the past, beating ourselves up with guilt for something we did days, months, or even years ago.”

“Jesus insisted we unlearn a lot. He did not want us to be imprisoned in the past with guilt and regret. So much of his ministry was focused on forgiving and freeing sinners from their past (Matthew 9:6; Luke 7:47; 23:34).”

Where do you live? Do you live in the past? Angry at yourself for how you acted with your spouse the previous day. Embarrassed by a comment you made at your staff meeting at work. Upset with yourself for not applying for the new position because you lacked the confidence to go for it.

Or. Are you worried about the future? Will my job be outsourced? What will happen to my health? Will I have enough money to retire and pay my bills?

 

Dark Night

“Second, besides calling us to disregard and distrust our feelings, the dark night challenges us to let go of our beloved, trusted, and time-tested images of God.”

“Just because we feel that God has withdrawn and abandoned us, does not mean God, in fact, has.”

“For a multitude of reasons—typically (but not always) due to an overload of certain negative feelings such as grief, guilt, shame, or regret—our senses sometimes are incapable of picking up or registering the divine presence.”

The dark night is an invitation to let go of our past images of God and open to a new God. The dark night challenges us to go deeper into God. The dark night challenges us to pick up signals and nudges that we might have missed from God. The dark night challenges us to trust God. Be patient. And wait.

Forgiveness

“Anger, resentment, and grudges are heavy loads to carry under the desert sun. They drain us of much needed energy as we struggle to keep them balanced on our backs. We grow weary.”

“We often forget that the people who wronged us have gone on with their journeys—and are enjoying life! Forgiveness is a gift we give, not to the betrayer, but to ourselves, that unburdens and refreshes our spirits. Forgiveness is not a feeling but a decision.”

“Forgiveness is not a feeling but a decision.”

Do you hold in anger, resentment, grudges? I do. Sometimes I hold them too long. Other times I immediately let them go. They really do not serve any purpose. They hinder me from living in the present moment. They stop me from enjoying the present and all it has to offer. I am not really here for the people around me. And they notice it too.

When I hold in anger, resentment, and grudges it makes me tired. When you release these strong feelings don’t you feel better? I do. I feel relaxed. I have more energy. The heaviness is gone. I am present and enjoy life.

 

Next Steps

“One challenge on the spiritual journey is to find what prayer techniques are nourishing and helpful in responding to God’s ardent longing and enthusiastic invitation to a deeper relationship.”

“Unlike using gym equipment that strengthens our muscles, spiritual disciplines are not transforming in themselves. The transformation occurs as we open ourselves and respond to God’s longing and invitation.”

“The spiritual journey challenges us not to feel guilty about the past or anxious about the future; our task is to surrender the past to the mercy of God and to offer the future in trust to God.”

“Many people don’t practice an examination of conscience. Instead, they live on autopilot with no self-reflection.”

Here are some next steps you can take:

  1. Choose a contemplative practice that will nourish your soul. I have chosen centering prayer.
  2. Dig deep in this contemplative practice well!
  3. Trust God.
  4. Journal your thoughts and feelings to God. Write your name. Under your name journal your feelings. Then write God. Under God jot down what do you think God will say to you regarding these feelings and thoughts.

I encourage you to check out The Ordinary Mystic. Discover that you can be a mystic too!

Also by Albert Haase:

The BE Attitudes: Ten Paths to Holiness

Practical Holiness: Pope Francis as Spiritual Companion

Catching Fire, Becoming Flame: A Guide for Spiritual Transformation

This Sacred Moment: Becoming Holy Right Where You Are

 

The Storied World of the Bible: Often, people wonder how the various stories, poems, prophetic texts, Gospels, and letters all fit together. And, indeed, they do fit together in ways needing to be understood by readers of the Bible. This course by N. T. Wright will unpack some of the questions surrounding the meaning of the Bible to bring a coherent sense of what is being communicated by the biblical writers. The Bible then, truly, becomes a Grand Story of God’s faithfulness.

A Simple Immediacy: Desert Wisdom for Advent by Cynthia Bourgeault: The Desert Fathers and Mothers of the fourth and fifth centuries are arguably the first Wisdom School in Christian history. At first in trickles and then in waves, they fled into the deserts of Egypt and Syria to escape the increasing imperialization of the Christian Church and to live in a simple immediacy with the Risen Christ. In the process, they generated an extraordinary body of practical teachings on the spiritual practices underlying this life of deeper awareness and mystical union.

The Grace of Advent: Consent to Contemplative Living by Contemplative Outreach: It might be said that the spiritual journey is a series of consents, an accumulation of our Yes to God in big and small ways, day after day after day. Our practices, which start out as structures to encourage and assist our softening to Yes, over time become a way of life, a way of being in constant relationship with our Beloved.

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