A few weeks back I preached a sermon. The influence from this sermon comes from the great mystical theologian Dionysius the Areopagite (aka Pseudo-Dionysius). Dionysius is a character who converts to Christianity after hearing St. Paul preach. In the 5th or 6th century a mystical writer penned a series of profoundly influential texts under the name Dionysius. It is Dionysius in fact who conied the term 'hierarchy'--literally rule of the sacred.
Dionysius' most important work is The Mystical Theology, a short contemplative text on how we approach God who is beyond all understanding and yet can (and must be) experienced.
Supernal Triad, Deity above all essence, knowledge and goodness; Guide of Christians to Divine Wisdom; direct our path to the ultimate summit of your mystical knowledge, most incomprehensible, most luminous and most exalted, where the pure, absolute and immutable mysteries of theology are veiled in the dazzling obscurity of the secret Silence, outshining all brilliance with the intensity of their Darkness, and surcharging our blinded intellects with the utterly impalpable and invisible fairness of glories surpassing all beauty.
Dionysius believed that all theology arose from, lead to, and ultimately fell back into silence. What he called dazzling or luminous darkness (what integral philosophy calls the causal realm of formless mysticism). Dionysius referred to two paths: the cataphatic and the apophatic. The cataphatic speaks of what God is or is like (the is the subtle state or realm in integral philosophy). The apophatic works by negation--what God is not. Ultimately for Dionysius, even the most exalted of images, metaphors, and symbols of God must be let go of, lest we come to believe that God can be circumscribed by our own images, thoughts, and feelings.
If people say there is no mysticism in Christianity, then they should read Dionysius. Very helpfully, the entirety of Dionysius' Mystical Theology can be read here (it's a short but very deep read).
In this sermon I follow Dionysius' path of saying both what is and what is not the case. I use it specifically in relation to the reading of the day which speaks of God as Father and humans as children of God. What are we to make of such language? What would Dionysius have to say to us today on the subject?
You can listen to the audio of the sermon by clicking the arrow.
The text of my sermon can be read online here.