Q. 1. From time to time, I hear a reference to the word mystic associated with alleged apparitions of the Virgin Mary. What does the word "mystic" mean according to Catholic interpretation?
A. 1. A short answer to that question would be that a mystic is a person who has experienced mystical experiences or has an understanding of Divine mysteries.
Mystical experiences tend to be experiences felt or experienced beyond the realms of ordinary consciousness. Sometime they are referred to as states of altered consciousness. Such states may involve ineffable awareness of time, space, and physical reality. Mystical experiences often defy physical description, and can best be only hinted at.
Having said that, a mystic is a person who claims to attain, or believes in the possibility of attaining, insight into mysteries transcending ordinary human knowledge, as by direct communication with the Divine or immediate intuition in a state of spiritual ecstasy.
The mystic is usually concerned with finding a direct connection to God Himself, often through meditation or prayer. In Christianity mystics often refer to this state as Union or Oneness with God.
It should be stated that there are mystics who achieve the status of mystic through their contemplative search of Divine mysteries and there are mystics who achieve the status of mystic as a result of having been chosen by God. For example, those who receive authentic apparitions of the Virgin Mary are often referred to as "mystics." Their mystical experiences may have been received in a normal state of consciousness or in a trance state, as determined by God.
Examples of Catholic mystics who enjoyed a special union with God and participated in His Divine nature are:
St. Catherine of Genoa (1447-1510)
Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)
St. John of the Cross (Juan de Yepes) (1542-1591)
Venerable Luis de Lapuente (1554-1624)
St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622)
St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690)
Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824)
Saint Catherine Labouré (1806-1876)
Saint Faustina (1905-1938)
Saint Pio - Padre Pio (1887-1968)