"Am the one who sharpens the crayons..."

Theology professor Dr Manuel Schlögl speaks impressively simply and in a way that is easy to understand about the phenomenon of mystical experience of God in everyday life at the Communio in Christo impulse evening - Full house and rapturous applause

Mechernich – "Mysticism in everyday life is nothing spectacular, God goes along in the everyday" said theology professor Dr Manuel Schlögl at the latest impulse evening of Communio in Christo. The university lecturer at the Cologne College of Catholic Theology spoke about the relationships with God of Karl Rahner, Madeleine Delbrel and Mother Marie Therese.

The chapel of the Ordo Communionis in Christo on Mechernich's Bruchgasse was well filled with listeners when Father Jaison Thazhathil, the Ordo's Deputy Superior General, welcomed his professor and doctoral supervisor to the lecture and subsequent Holy Mass. He described it as a blessing that Professor Schlögl had met Superior General Karl-Heinz Haus before his death.

Through this, Schlögl had also come into contact with the Mechernich Motherhouse and the social works as well as the spiritual legacy of the Foundress, Mother Marie Therese. The theologian, who was born in Passau in 1979, had already studied the book "Ich bitte Dich, o heilige Kirche", her key work and spiritual legacy, and incorporated it into his talk on everyday mysticism.

When a light comes on

He knows the ropes, has done his own doctorate on the mystics John of the Cross and Therese of Lisieux, and has also looked around in the estates of Catherine of Siena and Therese of Avila, and has come to the realisation: "I believe that God shows himself differently to each person!"

Mystical experiences with God are not encounters that always follow the same pattern, as faith itself grows out of "experience with experience", said Schlögl, quoting the Protestant theologian Eberhard Jüngel (* 1934). But he himself had also had everyday experiences with God, for example as an altar boy in solemn church services. And every believer collects his or her own experiences of faith.

Measured by Schlögl's definition ("mysticism is the experiential dimension of faith"), almost every believer is a person with mystical experiences. Mystics are people to whom "a light dawns that God walks with them through everyday life". There is no need for bi-locations, where saints were seen at the same hour in different places, or stigmata, where bleeding wounds open up in the places of Christ's stigmata, or other spectacular conditions.

Some recognise God in the face of the suffering, whom they assist and help, others while receiving the sacraments or reading holy texts, Schlögl said. The enlightenment often lasts only a moment, then it disappears, but the experience remains. The university teacher: "The Emmaus disciples recognised Jesus after the resurrection only when they were breaking bread, then he suddenly disappeared again..."

Being a Christian in secret

Karl Rahner, one of the behind-the-scenes advisors of the Second Vatican Council, left behind the wisdom "The pious man of tomorrow will be a mystic, one who has experienced something, or he will be no more." "For Rahner himself, God did not become clearer with age, but even more mysterious," said impulse giver Prof. Dr Manuel Schlögl at the Communio in Mechernich.

Madeleine Delbrel, who called herself an atheist as a teenager, had her personal experience of God when her beloved entered a monastery in 1925. She felt enraptured by God, Schlögl says, and became a social worker, working for 30 years on the boulevards of Paris among people in difficult circumstances. "Around her an equipe, another Communio in Christo, a spiritual community with secular vocations...", says Manuel Schlögl.

Christianity as a hidden life among unbelievers. Like others, Madeleine Delbrel had her mystical experiences "in the small and everyday", says Schlögl: "In cooking, washing, cleaning, the perception of two left hands and manifold exercises to remain small."

He himself once sharpened a hundred crayons by hand before a confirmation class because they were all broken: "Gradually, the annoyance that I had to do this stupid work gave way to the feeling that I was doing something meaningful. When classes started, I no longer felt like just the chaplain, but also the one who sharpened the crayons..."

It is a good spiritual exercise to do what needs to be done without grumbling, "instead of forever looking for the approval of others," said Professor Dr Schlögl in the chapel of the Communio. Finally, Mother Marie Therese had encountered God in the "everyday mysticism of love".

Cried my eyes out

Her daily practice of neighbourly love had made the Communio founder a strong defender of the Second Vatican Council, which wanted to bring forth "instead of a Church of legal faith, a Church of experiential faith" and was hindered in many ways.

"Mysticism creates common ground with God and with one another," says Prof. Dr Manuel Schlögl, a basic experience in Mother Marie Therese's Communio in Christo. Love for our neighbour should show whether we "live in God".

Mysticism does not only consist of experiences that bring happiness, but as a counterbalance to grace it also includes spiritual suffering and distance from God, enduring and bearing one's own pain and the suffering of this world. It sounds contradictory, but it corresponds to the truth when a young person who "cries his eyes out in Taizé feels at the same time: 'God is there'...".

Prof. Dr. Manuel Schlögl's impulse evening was acknowledged with a lively discussion and loud applause. Some of the faithful shared their own experiences of God and faith, Sister Lidwina and Father Jaison attested to the theologian that he had arrived at a very accurate view of the mystic and foundress Mother Marie Therese in a relatively short time.

pp/Agency ProfiPress

Link to the audio recording of the impulse