The process of ‘reawakening the Catholic Vision’ has begun. In homes, families, schools, universities and parishes Catholics are called to adjust positively to life in a second ‘Apostolic Age’ as we emerge from an era of ‘Christendom.’ Prayer and adoration of Jesus as our Lord and Saviour is the cornerstone of this reawakening.

Missing the mystical

There is a danger that reawakening the ‘Catholic Vision’ might give Catholics a dualistic, black-and-white one-dimensional view of reality. We are offered a Church where ‘the battle for the human race takes place in the Church.’ Christians in the first Apostolic viewed ‘Jesus as Lord’ and not the Emperor. But its best minds saw clearly that God (Peter in Acts 10) is at work in every nation and culture, in every human heart. There will always be divergence but also convergence. Following the ‘Way of Jesus’ beatitudinally is not confined to members of any Church. All who live lives of self-sacrificial love are ‘following the Way.’

NON-DUAL VIEW. The Church has the means to move from this dualistic vision to a much more nuanced non-dual contemplative-based view of reality. The synodal Church in faithful fulfilment of the Second Vatican Council is moving from talk of battles, adversity, opposition, divergence, culture clash, condemnation, judgement – by way of a synodal contemplation spirit to talk of reconciliation, mercy, compassion, love, understanding, dialogue, bridge-building, boundary crossing, convergence, shouldering the ‘world’s joys and hopes, griefs and anxieties.’[1] The Church is ‘truly and intimately linked with mankind and its history.’[2] A synodal Church invites Catholics to ‘walk with’ all humanity. The key to doing so is provided by the mystics.

Profile photograph of David Jackson.

Dual vision tempts Catholics to:

  • Arm themselves for ‘culture wars’ in imitation of the first Apostolic Age. But we learn from but do not imitate the past.
  • Regard ‘Adoration’ as only an end in itself. It must infuse action for justice and peace; to recognise the face of Christ in the poor and His ‘real presence’ hidden in all creation.
  • Reduce ‘mission’ to ‘gathering into’ the Church the ‘unengaged’ and the non-believer. Focus on the Church to the neglect of mission in the loving service of all that exists.’ (St J P II: Novo Millennio Ineunte)
  • Disconnect them from ecumenical, interreligious, intercultural dialogue (every religion has its mystic paths); from an encounter with science, evolution and the new cosmogenesis.
  • Miss the mystical. Ignore the Church’s heritage of contemplative prayer and reduce it to its institutional and intellectual elements and neglect the mystical.

Mysticism awake

Catholics can repossess their mystical heritage from its roots in the Jesus of the Gospels. Then from Cassian to Benedict and the monastic, Francis and the mendicant heritage, Teresa of Avila to Therese of Lisieux. Mysticism and the mystics have been demystified! All the Baptised are called to union with God and hence to contemplative prayer. All can tread the path taken by the great mystics. There are more contemplatives today than ever in the history of the Church. Meditation, in its variety of methods can be taught.[3] It is the central plank of the process of synodality (‘Conversations in the Spirit’). Many discovered the presence of God in their own hearts and in nature during the lockdown.

Fully reawakened vision

Three elements make up a healthy Church – the institutional, the intellectual and the mystical. (Von Hugle). The institutional is tempted to swamp the intellectual and ignore the mystical. The Catholic vision will best be ‘reawakened’ if Catholics enable the first two elements to be guided by the third – the mystical non-dual consciousness arrived at through the practice of some form of contemplative silent prayer.[4]


[1] Gaudium et Spes. Vatican 2.

[2] Ibid para 1.

[3] See

[4] See the writings of Iain McGilchrist The Master and His Emissary. The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World. Yale University Press 2009. And The Matter with Things. Our Brains, Our Delusions and the Unmaking of the World