Mystical Theology: A Layman’s Guide, is a compilation of the treatises of the French Benedictine Dom Savinien Louismet. The holy monk was a master of the spiritual life, and traces out the proper understanding of mysticism in the Catholic tradition to present guides, resources and clear theological explanation for all Catholics, both priest and lay. Drawing on all the sources of the Catholic tradition, most especially Holy Scripture, Dom Louismet provides a tour de force of spiritual teaching.
“Why,” he asks, “are there so very few contemplatives even among professed Christians?” For some, he answers, it is a case of downright indifference and tepidity. “They simply do not care … God is the least and last of their concerns.” On the other hand, there are those who do care, “who would indeed like to become contemplatives in the measure and in the manner willed for them by their loving God; and perhaps some have even made an attempt toward this. Now what is it that has prevented the latter from succeeding in their attempt at Divine Contemplation? This: they have met with no encouragement. Or it has been put before them in the wrong way. Maybe they have been dissuaded from Divine Contemplation, as from something dangerous. Or, finally, they have been bewildered or disgusted by the works they have read on the subject.” This book is for such persons.
This volume is comprised of four treatises: Mystical Knowledge of God, The Mystical Life, Mysticism: True and False, and finally, Divine Contemplation for All.
Dom Louismet describes the modes and processes that lead the mind and the heart—the mind in and through the heart—to the habit of divine contemplation. His work is practical, his method more synthetic and discursive.
Dom Louismet is a master in the spiritual life. In his treatise on The Mystical Knowledge of God, and The Mystical Life, he beautifully lays out the notion and end of Catholic mysticism. In Divine Contemplation for All, he inculcates the practice and teaches in part the methods of contemplation. Divine contemplation he defines as “the act of communing with God, wherever performed, howsoever performed be the act brief and passing, or long sustained and frequently recurring.” The definition is broad enough for the author’s purpose, to place the attainment of some degree of contemplation within the reach of all men who “are of good will and persevere in a state of grace.” Prescinding from divine contemplation as it is in God, and the soul’s contemplation of nature, such as even non-Catholics may sometimes practice, the author distinguishes nine stages in the soul’s ascension to God.
Dom Louismet explains with great clarity the several degrees of man’s communing with his creator and consequently his approximation to the Sacred Humanity, the secondary object, the exemplar and efficient supernatural cause of the spiritual union. He writes with sweetness and the gentle fervor that are never sentimental but always virile and tender. He persuades and draws souls to taste and see that God is sweet. His work will be of great service to priests in perfecting their own interior life and aiding them in the guidance of their penitents.
“What is written here will do much in bringing souls nearer to God, and beg Him to bless the author and the work.” —Cardinal Bourne, Archbishop of Westminster.