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Are We Mystic-Activist?

What is at the heart of Jeunesse ouvrière chrétienne?

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Is living in the Kingdom of God all about being a Mystic-Activist? As Jesus said, the Kingdom is here and now. (Luke 17:20-21)

Reflect on people you know, have read about, and have experienced who fit the role of Mystic-Activist. What change do we need to make in our lives?

The study of religion is a study of culture and societal change in the evolution of human beings. Do we seek out the Mystic-Activist and their role in history as we study religion?

When we study religions, we come to grips with fundamental questions of life that a self-conscious human being ponders. Who am I? Why am I on this planet? Is there a meaning and purpose to my existence? What is the good life? Why does religion exist? Do we see answers to those questions in the lives of the Mystic-Activist?

Religion allows us to explore such questions by studying our world’s great religious traditions and other movements; religion is a dialogue with the wisdom of the world’s thinkers and, ultimately, oneself. It is a deep pursuit of meaning if we all study the world’s religions and understand the difference between being human and the difference it makes. At the center of discovering the meaning of life and religion’s role, we encounter the Mystic-Activist.

In the lives of the Mystic-Activists, we see the experiences of Order-Disorder-Reorder. We understand the role that the See-Judge-Act method must play in the lives of the Mystic-Activist.

Karl Rahner is considered one of the most insightful theologians of the 20th century. Still, more importantly, one of his quotes is repeated over and over today: “The Christian of the future will be a mystic or will not be a Christian anymore.”

So what is a Mystic-Activist?

A Mystic-Activist blends deep spiritual practice with a commitment to social, cultural, and environmental change. The Mystic-Activist is driven by a sense of interconnectedness with everything, motivating them to work towards a more just and sustainable world.

Using the See-Judge-Act method, reflect on our lives and examine our lives as they relate to the critical aspects of a Mystic-Activist:

Spiritual foundation:

  1. Personal transformation: Do we prioritize inner work, such as meditation, prayer, or contemplative practices, to cultivate compassion, empathy, and understanding? How aware are we of our inner journey, and is it informing us towards actions for the greater good? 

  2. Interconnectedness: Do we believe and understand in a fundamental unity underlying all reality? This can take different forms, like seeing all beings as interconnected or experiencing a deep connection to nature.

  3. Love and compassion: Are our actions grounded in love for all beings and a desire to alleviate suffering?

Activist expression:

  1. Social justice: Does our work address poverty, inequality, and discrimination? We see and experience poverty, inequality, and discrimination in the lives of the people around us, even in the companies we work for, and how often do we find ourselves motivated to get involved in advocacy, organizing, community development, or direct action in society, family, church, and in our workplace?

  2. Environmentalism: Do we find ourselves deeply concerned about the environment and work towards sustainability, conservation, and protecting the planet? Or do we say we have no control or influence over this? Hence, there is nothing I can do. Really? 

  3. Holistic approach: Do we see social and environmental challenges as interconnected and seek solutions that address the root causes, or are we just treating the symptoms? Then, saying that is good enough?

Examples of mystic-activists:

  1. Mahatma Gandhi: Led India’s independence movement through nonviolent resistance, drawing inspiration from his Hindu faith.

  2. Dorothy Day: Founded the Catholic Worker movement, a community dedicated to social justice and activism.

  3. Thich Nhat Hanh: Was a Zen Buddhist monk and peace activist who advocated nonviolence and mindfulness.

  4. Wangari Maathai: Founded the Green Belt Movement, which plants trees to combat desertification and empower African women.

  5. Thomas Merton: As a Trappist monk in a cloistered monastery, he impacted the social fabric of a country through his writings and talks.

  6. Joseph Cardinal Cardijn: Saw injustices in economics and workers’ lives and organized to bring about change by challenging the status quo.

  7. Albert Nolan: A most remarkable figure in the South African Catholic Church. A world-renowned, even bestselling, theologian and a Mystic-Activist against apartheid, he was humble and easygoing until he started preaching or lecturing.

  8. Think of Mother Teresa, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Martin Luther King, and think of our family members over the years.

From the list above and others you see and experience in your own lives, it’s important to note that being a Mystic Activist is not about fitting into a specific mold. Our lives as a Mystic-Activist encompass a wide range of individuals with different spiritual practices and approaches to activism. Our commitment to inner transformation and our desire to create a more just and compassionate world unite us all. To do the greater good and understand the difference between being a human and the difference it makes.

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