Tuesday, December 30, 2014

"Mystic communion with the Ultimate is, by their own account, the core of every religious tradition. How this seed grows in a given case into doctrine, ethics, and ritual depends on the widely different historic conditions under which a given tradition originates and develops. Unfortunately, in the course of its history each tradition tends to get rigid. At the start, the function of doctrine is to point to the inexpressible. But soon it takes on a life of its own and, through comment upon comment, hardens into dogmatism. Ethical precepts originally want to foster a sense of belonging, but they, too, tend to become rigid, exclusive, and moralistic. With ritual, the emphasis shifts from celebration of the mystic event to ritualistic preoccupation with traditional forms. The living water of every tradition runs the risk of freezing to rigid ice in the cold climate of religious institutions and, thus, their innate happiness is lost.

At this point the question arises: Can religions recover their religiousness? Can they again become doors to that mystic happiness from which they spring? The answer is given by mystics. They thaw the ice of dogmatism, moralism, and ritualism by fiery joy in their own hearts. Ultimately this is the task of everyone who stands in a given religious tradition. Any tradition is as alive as the mystic happiness in the hearts of its members. And this mystic fervor melts also the barriers between traditions -- celebrating their variety, but strengthening their unity with each other." 

-- Bro. David Steindl-Rast


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