The Spiritual Arts Foundation

Dr Rosemary T McAuley - Christian Mystical Journey

May 7, 2024

Dr Rosemary T McAuley

Whispers from a silver tongue calling my name pierced by childhood with spirit song. At 8 years old, my sleep was awakened to the green life, leaving me somewhat bemused. A spirit voice called “Rosemary, Rosemary” and, frightened, I hid under the covers.

I turned, thinking it was my sister but she lay asleep in the bed beside me. From then on, my hidden life has been a journey of spiritual awareness and a path shaped by God’s hand.

It has reflected my deep Christian faith, intertwining sorrow and joy giving me moments of ecstatic wonder and absorption in beauty or the intense pain of losing suddenly my only sister Bernice of 24 years, preceded by dreams and premonitions, reflected in my art and both of our poems.

From the age of eleven when I drew the Virgin Mary, my artistic gift naturally focused on my Catholic faith and was encouraged by both my parents who had entered religious orders in Ireland before leaving and marrying. My dad had been a Divine Word Missionary in Roscommon and my mother a Missionary Sister for Africa in Dundalk.

Dr Rosemary T McAuley - Live Little Bird (St Mungo)

My early memories growing up were falling asleep to my dad’s Gregorian chant records playing downstairs and my mother’s insistence on saying the family rosary.

In my teenage years, I kept a diary and began writing a few spiritual poems; religious art was the theme of my six-year studies at school where I tentatively drew from Christian themes.

In my reading I was particularly influenced by the works of figures like Vera Britain, C.S. Lewis,  the secret diary of Beatrix Potter.

I also discovered a book in an antiquarian bookshop on ‘Christian Art’ by Percy Gardner and one of extracts from the writings of St Francis. My own writing was full of the yearning in my soul for a closer experience of God and eternity with a belief that to uplift and focus on beauty was essential to wholeness. In 1995, I painted a life-size version of my sister called ‘The Yearning’ taken from a study painting I did some months before my sister’s sudden death.

Dr Rosemary T McAuley - Sun Of God

Parting increased my spiritual desire and I was more in tune with the spirit afterlife. My prayer deepened and I was aware of the blue and white spirit lights around me and the blanket of snowfall at my sister’s funeral confirmed in my heart that great pain could give birth to great beauty reflected in nature. Christ has always been the sweet piercing sound in my heart and my beloved.

The God-given gift of art and poetry continued to be manifestations of my inner life of prayer expanding into ecstasy in my early 30’s where my teenage search for beauty blossomed into wide vision and deep transcendence in my soul as I swooned in love of God. I had the desire to annihilate myself for renewal of faith and a new age. As with so many, this branched with me into mental health suffering as I was overwhelmed and misunderstood  in my deep vision with an expansion of  the mind with infused knowledge and  traumatic experience.

Poetry then poured fourth as an expression of the dark night of suffering and pain like my poem ‘Nada’ (below) also of wonder, magic and universal love.  The supernatural life enthralled me and took me to closer union with God; my guides were the Carmelite saints like St Teresa of Avila as I explored the interior mansions she describes in ‘The Interior Castle’ as  spiritual life progresses. I has some spiritual guidance from Carmelite religious and eventually I spent memorable time living in with Carmelite nuns in a monastery in Tallow, Ireland.

Dr Rosemary T McAuley - The Yearning

I first wrote an article on ‘A Quest for Beauty’ for Catholic Life Magazine in September 2004, developing my writing over the years since. I  began to formulate a vision of a neo paganism branching into Christianity in the new age as in the early days when Druidism gave way to St Columba and Christianity in a very pure and fresh fusion of Celtic spirituality.

My later research formed in a ecstatic moment saw the crossover between the Celtic Renascence mystics and Spanish Carmelite mystics where pagan myth and belief fused into one path. My thesis focused on the brilliant visionary writings of William Sharp who wrote as Fiona Macleod and who influenced me immensely. I saw the contemplative life as gradually evolving in society in general. Through my doctoral studies I rediscovered the beauty, purity and inherent goodness in Christian art of the late 19th century and its ability to transform the inner life of the viewer.

I critically discussed the work of Edinburgh artist William Hole (1846-1917) whose book of paintings I discovered discarded at a jumble sale many years before. My belief grew in universality and unity of the many spiritual paths with universal love at the centre. My marriage to a Jewish man more recently has deepened my commitment to tolerance and respect for each others journey.  

I believe contemplation, direct mystical experience of God, and sensitivity to beauty will gradually deepen and purify our interior lives expressed in word, image, and music in a world purged by suffering to give a new tomorrow.

My latest poetry book,  ‘A Dreamer’s Consolation’; will be out shortly from Alba Publishing.

Nada
To see your weeping eyes
To feel your pain upon
That public post
The shame, the fear, the
Agony-

Oh! This dark night
When desert sands blind
Your vision and beat against
Your tired face
Cold comfort in your nakedness
Exposed to only your nothingness
Nada-your downing moan

Nada, Nada
Upon his empty stage you wait
Lost, broken, deserted
Point me north in this abyss
Soften my wounded heart
With gentle reminders of warmth.
From ‘The Cry of My Soul’

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The Spiritual Arts Foundation is dedicated to promoting arts related projects that specifically demonstrate a vision of spirituality at their core. We represent all positive and life-affirming spiritual and religious beliefs.
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