MYSTERY

By the late Cardinal Basil Hume



The meaning of things and their purpose is, in part, now hidden, but it will in the end become clear. The choice is between the mystery and the absurd.

To embrace the mystery is to discover the real. It is to walk towards the light, to glimpse the morning star, to catch sight from time to time of what is truly real. It is no more than a flicker of light through the cloud of unknowing: a fitful ray of light that is a messenger from the sun which is hidden from your gaze.

You see the light but not the sun. When you set yourself to look more closely, you will begin to see some sense in the darkness that surrounds you. Your eyes will begin to pick out the shape of things and persons around you. You will begin to see in them the presence of the one who gives them meaning and purpose and that it is He who is the explanation of them all.

The mysteries which we have been given to reflect upon, and make part of our lives, are so much greater, so much bigger, so much beyond our capacity to understand. Our minds are so small, so terribly small, that we are always at the foothills in our understanding of God and His world. But I think that is good because eventually, when we get to the top, we will then see the full vision.

A Mystery is a reality which we can never understand, nor even discover for ourselves. This mystery can never be solved. It can only be entered and explored by one who accepts with awe and reverence that the deepest reality is unimaginably greater than we can ever comprehend; that beyond the limitations of our senses, and even the horizon of death, lies a place of inexpressible joy, the fountain of all life and love.

We talk about the Sacred Mysteries. It is a word used in the New Testament, a word which has been used by Christian writers all down the ages and quite especially in relation to the Sacraments. So when I use the word mystery I mean a divine reality which we could never discover for ourselves and can only ever understand very, very inadequately. Mysteries are truths revealed by God which we, in our prayer and practice throughout life, explore and try to understand just a little bit more. It is a lovely word -mystery.

There is an ancient story about St Augustine, theologian and great Father of the Church. It relates how one day walking along the beach he saw a small boy who, having dug a hole in the sand, was running to and from the sea pouring water into it with his shell. Asked what he was doing he answered: "I'm going to put the whole ocean into this hole". When told that was impossible he replied: "It is easier to put the whole ocean into this hole than for you to understand the Mystery of the Trinity." That story is applicable to all the great Mysteries of our Faith.

Life in the Spirit is the only authentic means of responding to the mystery of ourselves and of our existence. It is not therefore the preserve of the religious elite. It is a treasure to be found in the midst of daily life, in the home and family, in all the activities of a busy fulfilled life, in the pain and desolation of bereavement, sickness, handicap and loneliness. In all the circumstances of our lives we can find God, experience His healing and presence, and that joy and peace which the world cannot give.