Spirituality Studies 9-1 Spring 2023 75 Miloš Lichner of blessedness, by the love for other creation, i.e., love for this world perceptible by the senses. This is why Augustine writes: “God gave people temporary goods necessary to obtain peace under one condition – that they will use them properly to obtain bigger goods: eternal peace and appropriate beauty and glory in eternal life. Those who misuse it will not obtain what is eternal and will lose what is temporary.” (Augustinus 1955, 679). 6 Contemplation and Mystical Experience The opening words of Augustine’s biography Confessiones clearly indicate that the starting point and meaning of human existence is to be with God, who created us, and to take part in His divine life; only then will we see Him face to face (Karfíková 1992, 24–25). Therefore, while we are here on Earth, contemplation will only be a temporary glimpse of eternal notions, because these are the intelligible expression of divine truth (Augustinus 1986b, 199). Augustine thus clearly differentiates such an imperfect mode of contemplation from the vision of God, pure and free, reserved for the life to come. Indeed, even in the best case, the soul in the present has only a partial knowledge of true being, mainly because of the necessary attention to the needs of the body. He often describes contemplation in mystical language, as exceptional moments when the soul experiences an intimate and loving union with God (Augustinus 1904, 305): It can disturb us, how God’s essence itself can be seen by some even here in Earthly life, since it was said to Moses, ‘no one may see my face and live’ (Ex 33:20). Only in this way may the human mind be torn from this life by divine power to the angelic life, even before it is freed from the body by death, common to all. This is how the one who heard the unutterable words that no man is free to speak was captivated. There his attention was so distracted from the senses of this life that he said he does not know whether he is in the body or out of the body, that is, whether the mind was alienated from this life and transferred to the next life, since this is a stronger ecstasy, and although the union with the body endured, whether the division that is in complete death was fully realized (2 Cor 12:2–4). And so it may be that this is also true, what has been said, that no one can see my face and live. Because it is necessary for the mind to withdraw from this life when it is taken up in the unutterability of that vision. It is interesting to note, however, that his descriptions of the mystical connection show a strong rational perspective. When he describes the conversation with his mother Monica just before her death in Ostia, we can see from the description that he is describing the spiritual elevation of the contingent sensory realities towards the grasping of the non-sensual and non-contingent reality (Augustinus 1981, 147–148): Our conversation was in this sense, that any pleasure of the bodily senses in any physical beauty is not worthy of being compared with the bliss of the second life; indeed, it is not even worth being mentioned; with an even more fervent ardor of love we rose to it, we ascended by degrees from corporeal creatures up to heaven, from where the sun, moon and stars pour their light down. And we delved still deeper, considered, talked, and admired your works. We entered our own spirit; nay, we ascended above it to reach the land of inexhaustible abundance, where you shepherd Israel in the meadows of eternal truth, where life is Wisdom, who gave life to past things and to future things. It was not created, however, but is always what it was and always will be. These words – ‘was’, ‘will be’ – do not apply to it, because it is eternal, because all that applies to it is that it is; for ‘it was’, ‘it will be’ is not eternal. While we thus spoke and longed for that life, we touched it with the mighty beat of our heart; we sighed, then we left the shackled elements of the spirit and returned to the sound of our voice, where the word begins and ends. Therefore, it would be incorrect if we wished to radically separate mysticism from contemplation in Augustine’s thinking, as contemplation is an active human search for God, but God rarely responds by providing a mystical experience (Vašek, Blaščíková, and Nemec 2022, 1). We can thus consider every tiny perception of God during this life as the fulfilment of the spiritual life during our stay here on Earth. 7 The Indispensability of Grace Augustine’s early reflections on the relation between action and contemplation underline the personal effort of an individual in contact with God during contemplation as well as during his actions directed towards a specific person in service. A crucial change occurred in 396, when Augustine was working on his treatise for Simplitian, with essential thoughts used several years later (397–401) in his autobiographic writing Confessiones. We witness a significant change in the understanding of the indispensability of grace in the development of contemplation and action, whether individually