I AM dismayed at the article on mysticism by Sr Fances Teresa OSC (June 22). She has difficulty in finding ten male mystics! Has she not read the Old Testament and found the Patriarchs and Prophets, or the New and learnt that St Paul and John (or whoever wrote his gospel — and that of Mark) are the greatest possible mystics?
Has she not heard of the early saints, fathers and doctors of the church, or of the English, Rhineland or Byzantine mystics, the Jewish and Sufi ones of the Christian era, the founders of religious orders, or Nicholas of Flue, or men like Neri, Rodrigues, Majella, Bosco, Savio, Vianney or Padre Pio to name a handful down to today?
But naming names is invidious. There can be few saints who were not mystics.
Sr Frances Teresa knows little of Christian mysticism for she says, "are women better at it than men?" Mysticism is not a thing to be good at! Has she not read St John of the Cross, Merton, Paulain, Tanquerey time-tested experts on the subject? Mystics are people to whom God makes his (her?) presence known.
Feelings cannot bring this about, though an experience of God can certainly bring them into play during or afterwards, as witness St Peter and the apostles at Pentecost.
Nothing can enable a person to experience God directly apart from his initiative. The usual way is through living God's will but God can do whatever he likes. One's gender is irrelevant.
The experiences too of great mystics may or may not be quantitively different from lesser mystics but they are certainly qualitatively different — compare Our Lady, Sts Paul
and John with those who seem to have mere indescribable feelings!
Mary G. Hypher Slough, Berks.
BY ignoring the fact that male mystics far out number female in Islam, Judaism. Sr Frances and Buddhism, Sr Frances Teresa (June 29) belittles the great debt Christians owe to our female mystics.
Instead of trying to prove that "mysticism is more natural to women" Sister should try answering the question why have Christian men, since around the sixth century, appeared to shun and in some instances to have tried to blot out the mystical way?
It is mainly thanks to women that today the mystical flame continues to burn in our church. Gordon Lisney Bishop's Stortford