Are Mystical Experiences Necessary for one to be in the State of Transforing Union?

For a person to be purged of all one’s sins that would keep one from going directly to Heaven after Death without the need to have to go to Purgatory first, must one have some definite supernatural signs? Or, is Union of the Will between the soul and God a Sign of the Transforming Union having been effected, whether or not there have been any mystical experiences in the person’s life?

When I say, Union of the Will, I mean that the person has worked to rid themselves of all their habitual patterns of sin, as well as devoted themselves to God to the utmost of their ability, frequented the Sacraments, practiced penance for their sins, prayed often and much, and all that one who loves the Lord can humanly do on their own, with the help of God’s Grace common to all such persons of faith. Thank you…

If you are referring to extraordinary experiences such as visions, locutions, etc., they are NOT necessary for union with God.

If by “mystical experiences” you mean things like visions, revelations, locutions and so on . . . those typically cease when one is brought to the transforming union. Hard to believe, but they’re really a “type” of spiritual imperfection that is just one more thing that needs to be purged. These experiences are part of the “extraordinary way” and are not necessary for the transforming union . . . in fact, clinging to them is what often prevents reaching final perfection.

However, the “ordinary way” of mystical experience will remain for souls in the transforming union: prayer of recollection, quiet, union.

The important thing about union though, as you noted, are not these transitory experiences. These unions of our faculties at specific times of prayer will always be secondary to what you rightly cite: the union of wills in all our thoughts, words and actions. This union in substance is what we should all strive for, whether in the state of perfection or not.

Dave. :slight_smile:

So, then, how does one know, or does one ever know for sure, if one has reached one’s “deepest center” of conformity to Christ as God has willed for that particular person’s journey??? Does the burning within become more of a glow than a burning, meaning that it isn’t as painful as it once was earlier on in the journey? Or, maybe one just ceases to see it as something that needs to be explained, but justs rests in that somehow peaceful understanding that love offers such a soul, without needing to know any more?

Some people have these experiences, others do not. Some Saints did not, and some had lots.

It really depends on the way that God wants to sanctify you.

But - it’s not good to seek any experiences. St Teresa of Avila warns us against this (she herself had many visions, etc, but never sought them and obeyed her spiritual director).

I think that you’re fully sanctified once your will is completely surrendered to God’s will. the Blessed Virgin Mary is a great example of this :slight_smile: she did not perform big public miracles and she lived a very simple life, yet she definitely did achieve holiness and was even without sin. We can follow in her example. Humility, prayer, love, obedience, purity :slight_smile: those are her great virtues. Then there are Saints, like St Therese, who lived very simple hidden lives and did only “little” things for God, but with great love… and they never had lots of really mystical experiences, but they didn’t have to go to Purgatory.

Just seek to love God with all your heart and do God’s will only. Rely on His grace and cooperate with it. Be devoted to Mary. Receive the Eucharist as much as you can and go to Confession. And you will grow. You might not feel anything. You might even be sent lots of crosses to carry. Jesus says, suffering is a sign that He is with us.

How will you know if you got there?
Well we can’t really rely on feelings… see the problem with using mystical experiences as the “measure” of holiness is that they actually don’t 'reflect holiness that much at all. St Bernadette saw the Virgin Mary. But she became a Saint simply because she was patient through suffering. See it works like that… and there are people who have lots of visions etc but they might even go to hell. It says in the Bible… there will be people who Jesus will say to, “depart from Me, I do not know you.” And they will say, why Lord, we prophesied in Your Name and cast out demons, etc… see all these things, they only exist for God’s glory. They don’t reflect our sanctification. Really what reflects it is LOVE and HUMILITY. Remember the parable of the sheep and the goats… how Jesus allows into Heaven those who helped the “least of these” out of love. And in Corinthians, the passage about only love being important. Focus on that :slight_smile: not on the externals.

But the question remains, how will you know…
and I don’t know if there’s an answer… see the Saints all considered themselves the greatest sinners. They didn’t FEEL holy. So you might not know until you get to Heaven. If you’ll become a saint on earth…if you’ll be fully sanctified…you might still think of yourself as a horrible sinner and weep for your sins. And …that is good. Humility is a great sign. DON’T try to examine yourself to see “where you are spiritually”. The only examination you need to do is the examination of conscience. If you can, get a spiritual director to help you along. But really just keep your eyes on God and try to live for Him and love Him with all your heart…make Him, and HIm only (not even holiness) your greatest treasure. Don’t worry if you don’t have any mystical experiences. If you ever do, thank God for them. If you don’t, thank God that He’s allowing you to learn blind faith. If He gives you consolation, thank Him for the encouragement. If He allows suffering and gives you crosses to carry, thank Him for that too. :slight_smile:

thank Him for whichever way He leads you, whether it’s easy or hard, and ask one thing - to love Him. And don’t get discouraged if you don’t see yourself advancing as much as you’d like. Be humble and patient. Place God and others above yourself. Love your neighbour, forgive everyone who has hurt you.

hope that makes sense. That’s how I look at it and I don’t know if I’m right, but just think about it and see where God leads you.

Remember, holiness is seeking God’s will above your will in all things and dying to self. Being not of the world but of God.

God bless you.

Very good question. :slight_smile: Look for your answer in Stanza 1 of St. John’s “Living Flame of Love.” This work is entirely about the unitive way after the passive nights have come to an end. All inner torment has ceased . . . all is profound peace and joy even though worldly and bodily trials remain.

In this stanza, St. John speaks of many centers of the soul but only one deepest center. Even one degree of love puts one at a center . . . but only perfection (complete and habitual conformity of will in thoughts/words/actions) is our deepest center. These souls just “know” they’ve reached transforming union. They see their virtue in all it’s glory . . . with perfect humility, though, because the virtue is entirely His and not of their own doing. They’ve become “divinized” . . . becoming “God by participation.” Very hard concepts to grasp, indeed.

And this explains where there are “differences” between perfected souls. According to St. John’s treatment you could put two souls both brought to the transforming union side and they’d be “equally perfect.” However, there could be vast differences in their capacity and intensity of love. And that’s also why one could read the Saints writing in these matters and not necessarily “see” these same effects being worked out in their own soul . . . it’s there, just not to the same degree perhaps. There seems such a gap between what they read and experience.

None of this, though, does his teaching justice . . . it’s best to go directly to the source.

Dave :slight_smile:

PS. The specific “way” one knows these things is through an intellectual vision which marks the entrance to the transforming union. See St. Teresa’s explanation in the 7th dwelling of “Interior Castle” about this.

An intellectual vision is not a vision of seeing with the bodily eyes or the inner spiritual eye . . . these are corporal and imaginary visions. These were addressed earlier in this thread regarding extraordinary favors which cease in the transforming union . . . if they were ever given in the first place.

Think of an intellectual vision as a profound sense of “knowing” impressed upon the soul by the finger of God. Just my opinion, but I like to think of St. Therese’s sudden declaration of “My vocation is love!” from “Story of a Soul” as one of these “touches” from God.


I am so glad that I have the books to refer to that were mentioned in the above posts. This has been a week of learning so much! I read, but sometimes the way things are worded just doesn’t get through. But, when we converse like this, it becomes clear. Maybe it’s our 21st Century Language that puts it in relief for me. But, more than likely, it is the Holy Spirit teaching us through these humble words we use to help each other grow. Thank you, Dave, and Monica, and Philothea…Bless you all!

You have answers here that are better than I can give and saints who will explain all to perfection. One thing I will add is that the way the prophets and early christians strove for perfection was to strive to achieve union with the will of God. We didn’t always have these spiritual masterpieces mentioned here. If you want to progress you need a good, holy, orthodox spiritual director. It makes a huge difference. God bless.:thumbsup: :slight_smile:

Here in New York, they don’t even have enough Priests to hear Confession outside of the regular weekly scheduled ones on a Saturday before Mass. Spiritual Directors are not to be found. Even if you Do get to ask a Priest something, they don’t give you enough time to get into any subject with any degree of depth.

Does anyone else share this problem where they live???

This problem is as old as the hills. :slight_smile: Finding someone with *personal experience *in contemplation only compounds things.

You’re in New York City, right? I found this from the Archdiocese web site:

Evidently this is the program that trains spiritual directors in your area. Maybe they can help you find one? Again, try to find someone who can help with contemplative matters. Also, maybe the Carmelites (First, Second or Third Order) can line you up with someone.

Also, St. John’s “Living Flame” has a long discussion on what to look for in a spiritual director as well as the proper responsibilities of the director and directee. Might be worth the read.

Hope this helps,

Dave. :slight_smile:


So, then, how does one know, or does one ever know for sure, if one has reached one’s “deepest center” of conformity to Christ as God has willed for that particular person’s journey???

When you don’t concern yourself about knowing.

Does the burning within become more of a glow than a burning, meaning that it isn’t as painful as it once was earlier on in the journey? Or, maybe one just ceases to see it as something that needs to be explained, but justs rests in that somehow peaceful understanding that love offers such a soul, without needing to know any more?

The transforming union with Christ causes the soul to love, as Christ loves. This degree of perfection is only achieved when the soul is detached from the appetites, and the desire to have knowledge of one’s own spiritual progress, is often a desire to see oneself in the image created by the soul, rather than the person God has in mind.

Its a struggle we all go through, in humbling ourselves enough to detach from images of holiness that we conjure up for ourselves.

Holiness demands humility, and humility demands detachment from the appetites which only serve to feed our ego.

In Christ

Hi, Many people go thru their dark night when dying ( in the process of it) and reach perfection / union there.
With spiritual directors no one is more generous at giving spiritual direction than the Opus Dei priests. They are extremely holy, ortodox and very intelligent and their head office is in New York. Contact them and they will hep. See Make the effort and you won’t regret it. God bless:thumbsup: :slight_smile:

If you are in NYC you can go to the St. Francis Friary on 31st street down the block from Penn Station. They hear confessions all day and they spend as much time with you as you need. Great guys!!!

John, where did you get this information? I’ve never heard this before.

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