Carl McColman: 12 Insightful Quotations from the Great Christian Mystics

The Little Book of Christian Mysticism


Note: the following quotations are excerpted from The Little Book of Christian Mysticism which features over three hundred quotations of the mystics, from Biblical times to the present day.


Seek by reading and you will find by meditating; cry in prayer and the door will be opened in contemplation.

- Saint John of the Cross

The important thing is not to think much, but to love much; do, then, whatever most arouses you to love.

- Saint Teresa of Ávila

As a drop of water poured into wine loses itself, and takes the color and savor of wine; or as a bar of iron, heated red-hot, becomes like fire itself, forgetting its own nature; or as the air, radiant with sun-beams, seems not so much to be illuminated as to be light itself; so in the saints all human affections melt away by some unspeakable transmutation into the will of God. For how could God be all in all, if anything merely human remained in man? The substance will endure, but in another beauty, a higher power, a greater glory.

- Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

The poorest, simplest soul living in the world, and following the common life of good Christians there, if she will faithfully correspond to the internal light and tracts afforded her by God's Spirit, may as securely, yea, and sometimes more speedily, arrive to the top of the mountain of vision than the most learned doctors, the most profoundly wise men, yea, the most abstracted confined hermits.

- Augustine Baker, OSB

For the soul's sense is love; by love it perceives whatever it perceives; alike when it is pleased and when it is offended. When the soul reaches out in love to anything, a certain change takes place in it by which it is transmuted into the object loved; it does not become of the same nature as that object, but by its affection it is conformed to what it loves.

- William of St. Thierry

As your meditation becomes deeper it will defend you from the perpetual assaults of the outer world. You will hear the busy hum of that world as a distant exterior melody, and know yourself to be in some sort withdrawn from it. You have set a ring of silence between you and it; and behold! within that silence you are free.

- Evelyn Underhill

Be at peace with your own soul, then heaven and earth will be at peace with you. Eagerly enter into the treasure house that is within you, and so you will see the things that are in heaven; for there is but one single entry to them both. The ladder that leads to the Kingdom is hidden within your soul.

- Saint Isaac the Syrian

The grace of salvation, the grace of Christian wholeness that flowers in silence, dispels this illusion of separation. For when the mind is brought to stillness, and all our strategies of acquisition have dropped, a deeper truth presents itself: we are and have always been one with God and we are all one in God (Jn 17:21).

- Martin Laird

I pray you: seek more to embody God than to merely have knowledge of God. For knowledge can deceive us with pride, but a meek, loving awareness will not deceive. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up (I Corinthians 8:1). Knowledge leads to travail, whereas awareness leads to rest.

The Book of Privy Counselling

Just as a covered object left out in the sun cannot be penetrated by the sun's rays, in the same way, once the covering of the soul is removed, the soul opens itself fully to the rays of the sun. The more rust of sin is consumed by fire, the more the soul responds to that love, and its joy increases.

- Saint Catherine of Genoa

Truly it is a trustworthy word and deserving of every welcome, your almighty Word, Lord, which in such deep silence made its way down from the Father's royal throne and speaks to us better by its silence. Hear what this loving and mysterious silence of the eternal Word speaks to us. He speaks peace for the holy people upon whom reverence for him and his example impose a religious silence.

- Guerric of Igny

It seems to me that I have found my Heaven on earth, since Heaven is God, and God is in my soul. The day I understood that, everything became clear to me. I would like to whisper this secret to those I love so they too might always cling to God through everything.

- Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity

The Little Book of Christian Mysticism will be published in April 2018, but you can pre-order your copy now by clicking here.