Theologian Carine Philipse wrote down an immersive experience in her Mystical diary. “I hope this book helps people to connect with the layer within themselves where they can meet God. “
"I was touched directly by God " - Interview by Marijke Laurense in Trouw, 4 January 2014 [Dutch daily newspaper]
Her real name is Catharina Alexandrina. “After Catherine of Alexandria,” says Carine Philipse. “She lived in the third century, under Emperor Maxentius. She was a Christian and very well educated, probably a princess. The Emperor instructed her to debate with fifty pagan philosophers, but she defeated them in the debate and she converted them to Christianity. Maxentius was furious and had her locked up in prison. The Empress, who had secretly become Christian, went one night to the prison: her cell was bathed in a heavenly light. Anyway, Catherine was tortured on the wheel on behalf of Maxentius, but the angels came and broke the wheel. Then she was beheaded with a sword, but the angels came and took her body and head to the Sinai, where they buried her, on that spot was built St.Catherine’s Monastery. I think this is such a beautiful legend! Catherine is also known for her visions about the mystical marriage with the Christ child. She is also the patron of the book and the philosophers. I recognize a lot in that legend. My whole life I have had a spiritual bond with angels and saints. It seems I am reliving her life. Which is quite remarkable. ”
On January 1, 2003 you had a mystical experience. What happened exactly?
“I was sitting that day at the kitchen table to prepare my service about the baptism in the Jordan and had just written: ‘The year of our Lord 2003. May it be a blessed year. And then it began’. It was an overwhelming experience of unity with God, with my sense of self disappearing completely. I felt that I was touched directly by God, pulled into God, totally absorbed into Him. I sat there with my pen in my hand and I literally wrote down everything. It took a few hours. And when it was over, I had the feeling: this is my destiny. I felt very grateful. After that I said to God: “You Go ahead. Just do what you want with my life. “I surrendered totally. There was followed by a very intense mystical process. I wrote that down as well. It just flowed from my pen. “
Why right at that moment?
“In prayer I always had the experience of union with God, very joyful. Moreover, I had the impression I was a glass shell, in which God emptied himself. That shell was getting thinner. What happened next was an intensification of it, a breakthrough. And I was alone; I had just gotten divorced. If I hadn’t been alone, there wouldn’t have been room for this experience, I think. “
Has it happened more often thereafter?
“Yes. Since then I’ve lived completly out of the unity with God. There is a constant contact with the heart. I also feel that physically: my heart starts to glow. And in recent years, since my health is very bad, I experience being part of the sufferings of Christ. That’s a very intimate experience. I feel strongly connected to all who suffer in our world. “
Where does your interest in mysticism come from?
“I come from an Arminian family, but we did not pray in our home. I missed that very much. When I was in my mid-twenties, I found in my friend’s closet a card tray with captions about the Jesus Prayer and the Desert Fathers. This was what I was looking for! The silence, the contemplation, the simple devotion to God. In prayer I have always experienced the union with God, but I’ve never stuck the label “mystical” on it. “While I was studying theology at Leiden I never learned anything about that. When, at a class of professor Berkhof, I started to speak about Augustine’s statement “Deus interior intimo meo” (God is nearer inside than I am inside myself ) Berkhof replied: “You’re on a different side than I am. “Only much later, after the mystical breakthrough in 2003, did I start to read mystical writers: John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Ramakrishna, Jewish mysticism. Meister Eckhart especially inspires me. ”
Your brother, Herman Philipse, is known for his outspoken atheism. How did he react to your mystical breakthrough?
“My brother was, like my mother, very interested and fascinated. He wanted gladly to hear about what exactly happened to me. ”
Does he read your book?
“I gave it to him. He said the book looks very nice. ”
Have you read his ‘Atheist Manifesto’?
“I’ve leafed through it. I find it pointless to want to prove scientifically that God exists or not. The religious reality can not be expressed using the ratio. You do not try to prove that beauty exists? I once said to him: “Why are you doing this? Why do you waste your precious brains with this? “But we do not have discussions about the existence of God. He always says, “You’re too liberal, I can’t discuss anything with you.” And then we both find it very funny that, as brother and sistery, we differ so much from each other. ”
‘You sing in me Your name’ is an anthology of your diaries from 2003 to May 2005. In the introduction you write that over time the complete diaries will also appear.
“Someone has said that for scientific purposes my entire diary should be available. In any case, there will be CD with songs that spontaneously came into my mind. Now first this book. Incidentally I had never had the idea to publish it. But my colleagues Gideon van Dam and Hein Blommestijn, professor of mysticism, of the Titus Brandsma Institute in Nijmegen, persuaded me. The idea of Hein and my publisher is to have it translated into ten languages, first in English of course, but also in Chinese. I hope this book helps people to connect with the layer within themselves where they can meet God. I feel that is my job. I am convinced that this mystical process is not meant for me, but it flows through me to others as an expression of the love of God. Because it’s not about me. That should stand above this interview: It’s not about me but about God’s love. “