Mysticism is when God’s presence becomes experiential and undoubted for a person. You can see a kind of courage and self-confidence in the mystics. That puts them in an extraordinary category. Most of us believe things because our churches tell us to believe them and we don’t want to be disobedient members of the church so we say “I believe,” as we do in the Nicene or Apostle’s creed.
A mystic doesn’t say “I believe.” They say “I know.” A true mystic will ironically speak with that self-confidence but at the same time with a kind of humility. So when you see that combination of calm self-confidence, certitude, and humility all at the same time you have the basis for mysticism in general. The only things we know at any deep and real level are the things we have personally experienced. Creedal belief, however, holds onto us until we have that experience! This is an important distinction, and why we need creeds as well. Each generation and person cannot start at zero. Richard Rohr
~ Adapted from an unpublished conference recording in Assisi, Italy, May 2012