See Things Differently

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See Things Differently

Early one morning, in a garden, while at St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota, I was doing my spiritual reading when I had a beautiful vision that reminded me of another beautiful vision. As I saw the sunrise engulf the statue of St. Benedict, I recalled how he had a wonderful experience with light. According to an account told by Gregory the Great in the Dialogues, St. Benedict, while “standing at the window and praying to almighty God in the middle of the night, he suddenly saw a light pour down that routed all the shadows … A wonderful thing followed … for as Benedict reported later, the whole world was brought before his eyes as if collected in a single ray of sunshine” (Book II of the Dialogues).

Sister Joan Chittister in her book The Radical Christian Life, points out that this, for Benedict, was a mystical experience. She says that in this moment “Benedict had developed sight and insight. Benedict had begun to see things differently.”

Seeing things differently is one way to describe a mystical experience. These mystical experiences are not reserved for saints or religious sages of years gone by. They are for you. Basically, a mystical experience is one that stops you in your tracks and gives you a glimpse of reality that is somehow more real. It is like a sudden flash of truth or a jolt that stirs something deep inside you.

It is said that mystical experiences while not common are also not uncommon. It is also said that we don’t need to force them. They will come to us as exceptional gifts from God. And, when they do happen, be ready to see things differently!


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“Listen carefully, my child, to your master's precepts, and incline the ear of your heart. Receive willingly and carry out effectively your loving father's advice, that by the labor of obedience you may return to Him from whom you had departed by the sloth of disobedience.”
–St. Benedict of Nursia, The Rule of Saint Benedict