Some Things Cannot be Explained, Just Experienced
Christianity Needs to Retain Holy Mystery
One of my greatest frustrations within modern Christianity is the push to intellectualize the holy mysteries. They are mysteries, which means they aren’t supposed to be able to be explained. Dwight Longenecker, a Catholic priest, says in this book “Praying the Rosary for Inner Healing,” that in the Christian life, a “mystery” is a living truth that we must experience rather than explain (p. 58). This is the best one-sentence definition of holy mysteries I have seen.
There are different ways of seeing, and intellectualism is only one of those ways. On it’s own, it’s dry and impersonal and is lacking almost anything useful for my own spiritulity. I want to take care to mention that I’m not wanting to make light of the needs of others to have intellectualism as part of their spirituality. I need it too, but I also have a very definite mystical bent.
I pursued the intellectual so fiercely at one point, becuase I was trying to run from my own experiences. My life story and spirituality aren’t understood by very many people, and that gets really lonely. I wanted to fit in and so I spiritually gaslit myself in an attempt to do that. As you can imagine, that didn’t really work out for me.
When I received the sacrament of baptism, there were a bunch of the heavenly hosts there and I know this because I saw them. Beelzebub and his army was there, and Saint Michael and his army was there, and they fought over me in a colossal battle between good and evil. Baptism was an incredibly difficult experience for me, but one I’m eternally grateful for.
My conversion experiences have not been intellectual experiences. I don’t need an intellectual argument trying to convince me that transubstantiation isn’t real, because my experience says the opposite, and I’m no longer going to allow purely intellectual arguments that make light of holy mysteries to gaslight me about what I know and have experienced.
I know that when the bread and the wine are blessed that they become the body and blood of Christ because when I put that first wafer in my mouth, when I took that first sip from the chalice, my body responded and I realized I had just consumed Christ himself.
Intellectualism and academia are of vital importance when it comes to things like equality for minority people such as women, black people, the LGBTQ+ community. When it comes to holy mysteries such as baptism, the Eucharist, mysticism, Marian spirituality, and others, it’s important that these be experienced rather than explained.
We use things like history, science, and literature to discern quite easily that the book of Revelation, while taken literally by fundamentalists, is actually a vision that Saint John had and as such, might not directly relate to us. The Apostle Paul was a highly educated man who had a conversion experience that was anything but intellectual.
Moses didn’t pull out a theology manual when he came across the burning bush, he simply did what he was told and took off his shoes because he was on holy ground. Jacob wrestled with God all night long, and was forever changed. He didn’t write a treatise on religion, he encountered God personally.
One of my most recent majorly transformative experiences came from a vision I had while praying the Sorrowful Mysteries of the rosary. This was a life-changing moment that brought me peace. The life-changing power of Jesus needs to be experienced.
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.
I believe this literally, as written. These are holy mysteries that have to be believed and experienced rather than explained. I believe in a literal resurrection of Jesus, it’s one of those holy mysteries that we shouldn’t try to explain away. Mysteries give us wonder and awe that we couldn’t have if we had a “rational” explanation for these things.
We need to keep the holy mysteries sacred and untainted, which means not experiencing them rather than explaining them.