Mistyk i działacz religijny w ujęciu ks. Aleksandra Usowicza
Mystic and religious activist in the view of Aleksander Usowicz CM
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One of the most important issues raised in the work of Aleksander Usowicz CM (1912–2002) is a question of the relation¬ship between mysticism and action in re¬ligious life. The conclusions he has reached are interesting even today. They can be collected in the following 4 or 5 points. 1. Against to the opinion of many psy¬chologists, mysticism and religious ac¬tivity, which is typical for prophets, are not so much opposed between each oth¬er. One and the same man can experi¬ence typical mystical experiences and display prophetic activity at the same time. This is proved by historical exam¬ples. So, there are both mystics and prophets, but being a mystic and being a prophet – an activist does not have to be mutually exclusive in individual cases. 2. The characteristic feature of mys¬tics is experiencing ecstatic states, and in some cases, authentic stigmata. The ec¬static state is something that appears at the highest stage of proper mystical ex-periences, in the contemplation of the divine nature, when the soul rises above the sensual level. Both the contempla¬tion as well as the ecstasy accompanying or following it, they are purely mental and therefore spiritual. In itself, the ec¬stasy is a moment of happiness, but a way out of ecstatic states is painful, due to the loss of happiness and a specific “return to body”. The reason of this pain is that the body needs time to get out of the numbness and temporary disappearance of natural functions. States of this kind are authentic, just as stigmatization under the influence of divine action. However, in the latter case, Fr. A. Usowicz spoke more moderately. He admitted cases of signs that were not artificially wounded, which resemble stigmata, but may have a natural origin. 3. Contrary to some contemporary conceptions, searching for the patholog¬ical origin of mystical experiences is a mis¬take. Just as H. Bergson, Fr. A. Usow¬icz indicated that the famous mystics showed the ability to act and to cope in different circumstances, an accurate as¬sessment of their own abilities and com¬mon sense. He claimed, the appearance of elements deviating from the general standards results from the extraordinary intensity of the psychic energy of the mystics. He recognized them as justified in specific circumstances. He claimed that the integration of all mental activi¬ties into the mystic’s religious life was evidence of one’s mental health. 4. Similarly, the question of asceticism must be interpreted, because asceticism is a specific set of psychophysical exer¬cises for the development of religious spirituality. It is not true that authentic asceticism results in withdrawal from an activity or in a simplistic and inadequate image of reality. In response to this type of position, Cracovian Thomist formu¬lated criteria for healthy asceticism: (a) the assignment of the activity to the ob¬ject; (b) the synthesis of efforts on one primary goal; (c) the creative evolution resulting in enrichment and strengthen¬ing of the human spirit. 5. Complementing these proposals is the thesis that religious phenomena can not be explained without going beyond the psychological considerations. It is im¬possible to finally explain the existence of various manifestations of religions without referring them to God – the Transcendent Being. Recognition of the existence of God as initiating the reli¬gious life of man is a condition for dis-cerning the differences between natural and supernatural phenomena on the ba¬sis of empirically discernable features. The consequence of the rejection of this thesis is to reduce the genesis of all man¬ifestations of religious life to natural fac¬tors. This excludes a priori attempt to find the differences between the natural and the supernatural element. Although the thesis of the existence of God does not belong to psychology, it is important in the psychological interpretation of mysticism.
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