The Christian recognizes himself in the person of Christ, and he believes, because it is of the order of faith and not of the evidence, that this other who sometimes speaks in him, who suggests things to him it is Christ or the Spirit of Christ.
This is the one of which some contemplatives tell us that he takes all the space and that we must leave him all the area?
We try to give him the most space. But even the great mystics like John of the Cross will tell you that existence is not enough to provide him with all the area. This statement may seem very abstract, but it takes two specific forms that make it possible to mark the specificity of the Christian spiritual experience. First, it’s an experience that is personalizing. Christ is a person, God wanted to be a human person, and he wants every man to be a human person. The dogma of the Incarnation invites us to consider that the spiritual experience must not be depersonalizing. This is what makes a difference with some Asian spiritualities, to speak very roughly. The Mystic experience of ancient pagan Greece and Eastern spiritualities are rather depersonalizing. It is a question of allowing oneself to be stripped of oneself, even to be dissolved in the big everything.
What is not the case of Christian spirituality? Is not it because Christ is in us that we are no longer there?
In the Christian experience, we first experience that someone is in us and that someone invites me to be myself and reveals to myself. Paul Claudel, when he tries to say the few words that were printed in him at the moment of his thunderbolt in Notre-Dame de Paris, means “God is here, God is someone, it’s a father, he said to me, “You are my child.” Saint Paul hears at the moment of his conversion: “I am Jesus whom you persecute.” It’s someone who talks to someone. This is what makes me believe the singularity of Christian mysticism, a person-to-person relationship, which is personalizing and in which speech plays a vital role. Christians who have had this experience felt like someone was talking to them, and that made them speak in their turn. They needed to talk about it. If only to verify that what they experienced was not wholly aberrant.
So should we advise those who are doing this experiment to talk about it?
Yes, it’s a communication experience. She makes talk. At the time of Pentecost, these men who were locked on themselves go out and start talking to the people who were there while the spiritual experience in the Greek world invites to silence.
This is a significant difference: one makes one speak, the other invites silence.
And one is personalizing, while the other is depersonalizing. I speak of course very schematically and grossly.