EARLY WRITINGS: The Real Presence

The Real Presence

I want to share with you a wonderful resource about the writings of the writers of those in the first few centuries after Christ. I like this because, not only is it our heritage from primary sources, but it bolsters the Scripture and how early Christians used it to love others as Christ loved them. http://www.churchfathers.org/ As far as I can tell, this site is authentic, but always be careful to find out from where these sites originate. Blessings are with you. This group is about The Real Presence, but there are many more topics for you to explore. That in all things, may God be glorified. –St. Benedict

Irenaeus

“He took from among creation that which is bread, and gave thanks, saying, ‘This is my body.’ The cup likewise, which is from among the creation to which we belong, he confessed to be his blood. He taught the new sacrifice of the new covenant, of which Malachi, one of the twelve [minor] prophets, had signified beforehand: ‘You do not do my will, says the Lord Almighty, and I will not accept a sacrifice at your hands. For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is glorified among the Gentiles, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure sacrifice; for great is my name among the Gentiles, says the Lord Almighty [Mal. 1:10–11]. By these words he makes it plain that the former people will cease to make offerings to God; but that in every place sacrifice will be offered to him, and indeed, a pure one, for his name is glorified among the Gentiles” (Against Heresies 4:17:5 [A.D. 189]).

Ignatius of Antioch

“I have no taste for corruptible food nor for the pleasures of this life. I desire the bread of God, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David; and for drink I desire his blood, which is love incorruptible” (Letter to the Romans 7:3 [A.D. 110]).

“Take note of those who hold heterodox opinions on the grace of Jesus Christ which has come to us, and see how contrary their opinions are to the mind of God. . . . They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which that Father, in his goodness, raised up again. They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes” (Letter to the Smyrnaeans 6:2–7:1 [A.D. 110]).

Justin Martyr

“We call this food Eucharist, and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true and who has been washed in the washing which is for the remission of sins and for regeneration [i.e., has received baptism] and is thereby living as Christ enjoined. For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nurtured, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus” (First Apology 66 [A.D. 151]).

Irenaeus

“If the Lord were from other than the Father, how could he rightly take bread, which is of the same creation as our own, and confess it to be his body and affirm that the mixture in the cup is his blood?” (Against Heresies 4:33–32 [A.D. 189]).

“He has declared the cup, a part of creation, to be his own blood, from which he causes our blood to flow; and the bread, a part of creation, he has established as his own body, from which he gives increase unto our bodies. When, therefore, the mixed cup [wine and water] and the baked bread receives the Word of God and becomes the Eucharist, the body of Christ, and from these the substance of our flesh is increased and supported, how can they say that the flesh is not capable of receiving the gift of God, which is eternal life—flesh which is nourished by the body and blood of the Lord, and is in fact a member of him?” (ibid., 5:2).

Clement of Alexandria

“’Eat my flesh,’ [Jesus] says, ‘and drink my blood.’ The Lord supplies us with these intimate nutrients, he delivers over his flesh and pours out his blood, and nothing is lacking for the growth of his children” (The Instructor of Children 1:6:43:3 [A.D. 191]).

Tertullian

“[T]here is not a soul that can at all procure salvation, except it believe whilst it is in the flesh, so true is it that the flesh is the very condition on which salvation hinges. And since the soul is, in consequence of its salvation, chosen to the service of God, it is the flesh which actually renders it capable of such service. The flesh, indeed, is washed [in baptism], in order that the soul may be cleansed . . . the flesh is shadowed with the imposition of hands [in confirmation], that the soul also may be illuminated by the Spirit; the flesh feeds [in the Eucharist] on the body and blood of Christ, that the soul likewise may be filled with God” (The Resurrection of the Dead 8 [A.D. 210]).

Hippolytus

“‘And she [Wisdom] has furnished her table’ [Prov. 9:2] . . . refers to his [Christ’s] honored and undefiled body and blood, which day by day are administered and offered sacrificially at the spiritual divine table, as a memorial of that first and ever-memorable table of the spiritual divine supper [i.e., the Last Supper]” (Fragment from Commentary on Proverbs [A.D. 217]).

Origen

“Formerly there was baptism in an obscure way . . . now, however, in full view, there is regeneration in water and in the Holy Spirit. Formerly, in an obscure way, there was manna for food; now, however, in full view, there is the true food, the flesh of the Word of God, as he himself says: ‘My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink’ [John 6:55]” (Homilies on Numbers 7:2 [A.D. 248]).

Cyprian of Carthage

“He [Paul] threatens, moreover, the stubborn and forward, and denounces them, saying, ‘Whosoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily, is guilty of the body and blood of the Lord’ [1 Cor. 11:27]. All these warnings being scorned and contemned—[lapsed Christians will often take Communion] before their sin is expiated, before confession has been made of their crime, before their conscience has been purged by sacrifice and by the hand of the priest, before the offense of an angry and threatening Lord has been appeased, [and so] violence is done to his body and blood; and they sin now against their Lord more with their hand and mouth than when they denied their Lord” (The Lapsed 15–16 [A.D. 251]).

Council of Nicaea I

“It has come to the knowledge of the holy and great synod that, in some districts and cities, the deacons administer the Eucharist to the presbyters [i.e., priests], whereas neither canon nor custom permits that they who have no right to offer [the Eucharistic sacrifice] should give the Body of Christ to them that do offer [it]” (Canon 18 [A.D. 325]).

Aphraahat the Persian Sage

“After having spoken thus [at the Last Supper], the Lord rose up from the place where he had made the Passover and had given his body as food and his blood as drink, and he went with his disciples to the place where he was to be arrested. But he ate of his own body and drank of his own blood, while he was pondering on the dead. With his own hands the Lord presented his own body to be eaten, and before he was crucified he gave his blood as drink” (Treatises 12:6 [A.D. 340]).

Cyril of Jerusalem

“The bread and the wine of the Eucharist before the holy invocation of the adorable Trinity were simple bread and wine, but the invocation having been made, the bread becomes the body of Christ and the wine the blood of Christ” (Catechetical Lectures 19:7 [A.D. 350]).

“Do not, therefore, regard the bread and wine as simply that; for they are, according to the Master’s declaration, the body and blood of Christ. Even though the senses suggest to you the other, let faith make you firm. Do not judge in this matter by taste, but be fully assured by the faith, not doubting that you have been deemed worthy of the body and blood of Christ. . . . [Since you are] fully convinced that the apparent bread is not bread, even though it is sensible to the taste, but the body of Christ, and that the apparent wine is not wine, even though the taste would have it so, . . . partake of that bread as something spiritual, and put a cheerful face on your soul” (ibid., 22:6, 9).

Ambrose of Milan

“Perhaps you may be saying, ‘I see something else; how can you assure me that I am receiving the body of Christ?’ It but remains for us to prove it. And how many are the examples we might use! . . . Christ is in that sacrament, because it is the body of Christ” (The Mysteries 9:50, 58 [A.D. 390]).

Theodore of Mopsuestia

“When [Christ] gave the bread he did not say, ‘This is the symbol of my body,’ but, ‘This is my body.’ In the same way, when he gave the cup of his blood he did not say, ‘This is the symbol of my blood,’ but, ‘This is my blood’; for he wanted us to look upon the [Eucharistic elements] after their reception of grace and the coming of the Holy Spirit not according to their nature, but receive them as they are, the body and blood of our Lord. We ought . . . not regard [the elements] merely as bread and cup, but as the body and blood of the Lord, into which they were transformed by the descent of the Holy Spirit” (Catechetical Homilies 5:1 [A.D. 405]).

Augustine

“Christ was carried in his own hands when, referring to his own body, he said, ‘This is my body’ [Matt. 26:26]. For he carried that body in his hands” (Explanations of the Psalms 33:1:10 [A.D. 405]).

“I promised you [new Christians], who have now been baptized, a sermon in which I would explain the sacrament of the Lord’s Table. . . . That bread which you see on the altar, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the body of Christ. That chalice, or rather, what is in that chalice, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the blood of Christ” (Sermons 227 [A.D. 411]).

“What you see is the bread and the chalice; that is what your own eyes report to you. But what your faith obliges you to accept is that the bread is the body of Christ and the chalice is the blood of Christ. This has been said very briefly, which may perhaps be sufficient for faith; yet faith does not desire instruction” (ibid., 272).

Council of Ephesus

“We will necessarily add this also. Proclaiming the death, according to the flesh, of the only-begotten Son of God, that is Jesus Christ, confessing his resurrection from the dead, and his ascension into heaven, we offer the unbloody sacrifice in the churches, and so go on to the mystical thanksgivings, and are sanctified, having received his holy flesh and the precious blood of Christ the Savior of us all. And not as common flesh do we receive it; God forbid: nor as of a man sanctified and associated with the Word according to the unity of worth, or as having a divine indwelling, but as truly the life-giving and very flesh of the Word himself. For he is the life according to his nature as God, and when he became united to his flesh, he made it also to be life-giving” (Session 1, Letter of Cyril to Nestorius [A.D. 431]).

FRAGMENTS FROM MY LECTIO DIVINA (updated)

Here are some ideas from a broken-down, old Lay Cistercian. uiodg The following is found in what I wrote on Quora.com. Be careful, it is the Mirror of Arisad of the Internet.

What is meant by the eternal power of God.

The energy of God is pure energy, the power of Being 100% of your nature. Humans have neither the capacity nor the capability of comprehending what that is so God sent Jesus (Son of God) to tell us and show us that all we have to do is be baptized in water and the spirit and thus make us adopted sons and daughters of the Father and heirs to the kingdom of heaven on earth as it is in heaven. God has the power to lift us up to another level of our evolution, as God did when we went from animality to rationality. Reason alone does not permit us to push ourselved up to the next level. Only the eternal or pure energy of God can lift us up (Faith), but we must ask for it (Belief).

Does God exist because people created religion, therefore creating God?

Who else would create religion but humans, and who else could tell us that we are adopted sons and daughters of the father and that the key to our next phase of evolution is to deny everything you know that you learned and take a step into the unknown because you want to be fully human and love as much as our nature may permit? Of course, when God became human, Christ gave us the glasses to see the opposite of what the world sees, and a map to avoid stepping on the landmines of rationalism and idolatry of self as god. I must still walk THE WAY, but now I have THE TRUTH and aim towards THE LIFE of what it means to be fully human as my nature intended before the Fall. Don’t give us your day job.

Do all philosophies have their own idea about God?

Each human also has their own ideas about God which may or may not be influenced by one or more languages or philosophies. Personally, within my lifetime, mine is scientific inquiry for what I can see, existential phenomenological and psychological writers such as Abraham Maslow, plus Martin Buber, Steven Hawking, Francis Thompson, Erich Fromm, Carl Jung, Heidigger, the Four Gospels and Letters of St. Paul, Torah and Wisdom of the Rabbis, Joel Barker, Aidan Kavanaugh, O.S.B., Father Cassian Russell, O.C.S.O., Aristotle, Plato, The Pantheon of Roman and Greek Gods, Abraham and Sarah, Moses, David, Twelve Apostles, Canon of Roman Pontiffs, Eusebius, Ignatius of Antioch, John of Forde, Bernard of Clairvaux, Francis of Assisi, Benedict of Nursia, The Little Prince by Exupere, The Phenomenon of Man by Teilhard de Chardin, the Summa Theological by Thomas Aquinas, the writings of Marcus Aurelius, the sayings of Lao Tse, the writings and sayings of the Prophets in the Old Testament, including Psalms, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Song of Songs, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rev. Dr. Billy Graham, Peter Zeihan, Elizabeth Kubler Ross, Myers-Briggs Type Inventory, that help me peer into invisible reality that my physical reality informs, just to name a fraction. Each human has this concoction of ideas rolling around in their head. Using all of this, we form choices as to What is the purpose of life? What my purpose in life is? What does reality look like? How does it all fit together? How can I love fiercely? You know you are going to die: now what? I can get both the questions and answer from the totality of my life experiences (I am not you; you are not me; God is not us; We, most certainly, are not God) outside of myself or within myself. Inside myself is risky because I need a key, an absolutely immutable cornerstone on which to measure what I observe to be true against what is truth. Since each person can be their own religion, their own god, their own objective truth, their own church, their own pope, and no one can tell them what to do, you can see how there is a Tower of Babel among thoughts about religion, about what is right or wrong, about why there does not seem to be a God we can see. Yet, we have a reason for a reason and a choice for a reason. The problem comes when I choose a reality outside my secular reasoning to deal with what I can’t see but what my heart and head tell me is there. This gap, for lack of a better word, is Faith (not opinion but a living reality outside of my ability to see, hear, taste, touch, and smell). This was such a conundrum that God sent Jesus to tell us AND SHOW us how to walk through the minefields of corruptible matter and mind to reach the true purpose of what it means to be human (to be an adopted son or daughter of the Father and to go home to that which nature intended for us before there was time and matter). I am a Lay Cistercian and follow the practices and the charisms of the Cistercian Way (silence, solitude, prayer, work, and community) to make real what I have just tried to describe, however painfully inadequate.

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Michael Conrad

Does the Pope ever ask for forgiveness?

Daily. So do I, even hourly, if I can remember. This is reparation for my sins, not that I go around committing sins every day, but rather for just being plain dumb and an asshole to people I have met in my lifetime.

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay Cistercian58m

Would God give you water if you were dehydrated in hell?

I don’t know. I do know that, if you go out to play 18 holes on the Championship Lucifer Links, Satan won’t give you any balls.

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Have all popes been holy?

All popes are sinners, but some of them have risen above their pride, lust, envy, and prevarication to move from their false selves to their true selves. The first forty popes were put to death because they would not renounce Jesus as Lord. When the papacy deep dived into concupiscence, they were wicked a…

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What is the definition of a three-headed, four-armed god?

My cousin Louie.

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay Cistercian1h

What role could the church have in a secular world?

The sign of contradiction. It doesn’t make sense without knowing the key. You have reason for a reason. You have choice for a reason. There are three questions that you must identify and choose wisely. 1. What does it mean to be human? What is good for me and what is bad for me? 2. What does it mean…

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Catholic Apologetics

Does God have a mother?

1 answer · Last followed 1h

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

Can too much truth be harmful sometimes?

Yes, as in telling your wife you are having an affair.

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

Why do nuns cover their hair?

Some do, and some don’t. Heritage.

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

How much alcohol should a 13-14-year-old be allowed to drink?

None. Alcohol is for disinfecting wounds.

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

What things do you usually bring with you to church?

My sins.

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

Is Catholicism the oldest religion?

No atheism is.

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

How much power do the Pope and the Catholic Church really have?

All power that Christ has, yet no power to do anything, if you say NO.

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

Can you prove that the flying spaghetti monster isn’t God?

Yes, because he is on the sauce.

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

What challenges does the current Pope face when governing as leader of Vatican City?

Greed, Mistrust, Factions, Jealousy, Envy, Lust, Lying, Drunkenness, Murder, Pride, and Hatred, just to name a few.

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

Can anything God does be classified as bad?

He made mosquitoes.

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

Where would the Flying Spaghetti Monster scale be?

In Amsterdam.

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

Do all diocesan bishops have authority over all parish priests?

yes according to Canon Law.

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

How much power does the Pope have in Vatican City and around the world?

The power of suggestion.

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

Is former KGB agent Comrade Bishop Kirill the Antichrist? Are the members of the Russian Orthodox Church simply pawns of Comrade Kirill?

When your political party is on top, you can lord it over others. When your political party is against your teachings, you are a martyr to your cause. Sic transeat gloria mundi.

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

Do you get treated like a god in your country?

More like the devil.

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

Is the pope the head of the Orthodox Church?

no

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

What is the source of morality for non-religious people?

The state, whatever that happens to be at the time.

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

Former KGB Agent Comrade Bishop Kirill has endorsed the Ukrainian invasion and the killing of Ukrainians. Is the Russian Orthodox Church just an extension of the Kremlin? Are church members just fools?

Some are.

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

What is a non-universal value or belief?

One which you hold.

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

Is it dangerous to accept rides from strangers?

Mary did this in Luke 1–2.

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

Am I an alcoholic if I only drink two beers a day?

No, but you can be a two-beer-a-day drunk.

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

How can we tell if a cardass is telling the truth or lying?

Do you mean a Cardassian?

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

“Comrade Bishop Kirill is an embarrassment to the Orthodox Church and does not represent the teachings of Christ. We ask the world to forgive us for not denouncing his support of Putin and the killing of Ukrainians. Is this what members should say?

Politics is an intoxicating religion.

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

Did Martin Luther ever say anything positive about Catholicism or the Catholic Church?

Although not Lutheran, I don’t think Luther hated any individuals but rather the perceived corruption that surrounded the times. Others have reformed the Catholic Church (Francis, Dominic, Benedict, Bernard, St. Theresa, Ignatius, St. Don Bosco, etc… up to this very day). without changing doctrine. M…

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

Why do Democrats compulsively lie?

For the same reason as Republicans do. Lying begets lying. Hatred only increases hatred. Vengence is mine, says the Lord. Is God democrat or republican? If either one, then I know I am in hell.

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

What did Pope Leo say to Attila the Hun so that he would not sack Rome? What are the most realistic theories?

What would your mother think if she saw you destroying people’s lives?

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

Why do some people say the current Pope is a communist?

They also say that Putin is a Christian.

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

Do atheists have a high regard for people of faith?

I suppose some do and some don’t. How about you?

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

Do atheists chase money for life?

I suppose some do and some don’t. How about you?

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

To any Protestants and any Catholics out there. What is the difference between your faiths and do you have any friends belonging to the other faith?

I have friends who belong to other faiths whom I respect. I have friends who don’t hold there is a god, whom I respect. I have friends who are fellow believers and brothers and sisters in Jesus, whom I respect.

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

Do Catholic monks make any money from donations?

yes. Eating costs money.

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

What do you think about drinking a lot of alcohol?

If you do that, you won’t be able to grasp my answer.

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

Are there any benefits to attending weekly services at a Catholic Church?

You fill up on the bread of heaven.

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

How do you feel when you enter a church, and why?

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

Can a deacon celebrate the Eucharist without a priest?

no.

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

Did you leave the Catholic Church because of Pope Francis?

No, I reaffirmed my faith because of him and his teaching that we must be what we believe.

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

Why don’t LDS go to other churches and call them liars?

Because you must get the beam out of your eye before you can tell your neighbor to remove the speck in his or hers.

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

What do you do at mass in the Catholic Church?

Listen with the ear of the heart to the love Christ has for me, then, together, we go to the Father with fitting praise and glory on earth as it is in heaven.

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

How do you address a female reverend?

I usually ask them what they want me to call them out of respect for them being human, being female, being a person who preaches the gospel.

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

Does God think about someone who leaves their religion for another one?

Good luck.

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

What are some of the changes that Pope Francis has made to Catholic teaching?

1. Embrace the cross and die to yourself to rise to a new life as an adopted son or daughter of the Father. Do your faith and don’t whine about trivia. 2. If you want to be the greatest, serve others. 3. Love others as christ loves us. 4. Convert yourself daily from your false self to that of a new creation.…

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

What do you do if you are not Catholic and take communion?

Say “Thank you,” to Jesus.

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

Are papal infallibility and impeccability related?

Not in the slightest. One is from God the Holy Spirit, the other is a result in me of orignal sin.

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

How has Pope Francis impacted Roman Catholic doctrine?

The pope does not make doctrine, Jesus does. As the teacher of honor (Magister Noster), he interprets the long and crusty history of the church and provides insights.

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

Does Papal infallibility mean that popes can never make mistakes according to Church doctrine?

No human, except Christ, was infallible. The Holy Spirit is infallible in what the pope says when speaking on faith and morals and as head of the church universal on earth. That only happened twice. The rest of the time, the pope is like us, sinners all.

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

What is the difference between creationism and monkey evolution?

One has a tale.

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

How is Pope Francis considered one of the most liberal popes in history?

False questions have false answers. There are three measures for any pope (or any baptized person)1. Do you live the sign of the cross made on your forehead at Baptism? 2. Do you long to have your heart next to the heart of Christ in Lectio Divina, Holy Eucharist, and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament…

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

What do you think of Pope Francis’ words “we must learn to step aside and say goodbye”?

“Time to say goodbye,” is the song, not so?

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

Is Pope Francis too liberal? Did he depart too much from Pope Emeritus Benedict’s policies?

Is God liberal or conservative? Depends on how each individual views, God, don’t you think?

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

Is Pope Francis a false prophet?

Only for those whose heart seeks hatred, vengance, jealousy, obfuscation, and factioning.

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

Why is Pope Francis controversial?

He has reintroduced the cross and its consequences (as did Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen). I don’t follow the Pope, I follow the same Jesus that the Pope does.

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

Do Anglican bishops have the authority to ordain priests?

I honestly don’t know, which is the point.

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

What’s the state of the church today?

Some say it is bad; some say it is good. I say that it is the enigma of a group in each age being sinners all who have to pass on the very presence of God to each person that is of goodwill.

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

What has been Pope Francis’ impact on American Catholicism?

I speak only for myself. The impact for me is recognizing that I must die to self to rise to a new life (each day.) The Cross is the key to salvation and The Christ Principle is the Cross.

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianTue

How is the church holy if there are sinners (RC)?

How can you go to heaven, if all there are in heaven are sinners (repentant). Everyone in the church is a sinner. “If you say you are without sin, you are liar.” Only sinners go to heaven. Baptism is the washing away of original sin; penance is washing away sin after Baptism but we must continue to…

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianMon

Do you think Pope Francis would resign before he reaches 90?

I’m thinking.

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianMon

How does salvation work for souls that are in Hell?

“Abandon Hope all Ye that Enter.”

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianMon

How many chances does God give you to make it right?

70 times 7

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay CistercianMon

What is the most difficult question for atheists?

What assumptions you do use to justifiy what seems like complete nonsense to reason?

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INTO THE GREAT SILENCE

I watched this as part of my Spiritual Awareness Renewal time. I recommend it to you. Listen, with the ear of your heart.

EARLY WRITINGS: Eusebius

I wanted to share with you what I myself read about the early church. I offer no commentary.

https://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05617b.htm

Introduction.

1. We have discussed in the preceding book those subjects in ecclesiastical history which it was necessary to treat by way of introduction, and have accompanied them with brief proofs. Such were the divinity of the saving Word, and the antiquity of the doctrines which we teach, as well as of that evangelical life which is led by Christians, together with the events which have taken place in connection with Christ’s recent appearance, and in connection with his passion and with the choice of the apostles.

2. In the present book let us examine the events which took place after his ascension, confirming some of them from the divine Scriptures, and others from such writings as we shall refer to from time to time.

Chapter 1. The Course pursued by the Apostles after the Ascension of Christ.

1. First, then, in the place of Judas, the betrayer, Matthias, who, as has been shown was also one of the Seventy, was chosen to the apostolate. And there were appointed to the diaconate, for the service of the congregation, by prayer and the laying on of the hands of the apostles, approved men, seven in number, of whom Stephen was one. He first, after the Lord, was stoned to death at the time of his ordination by the slayers of the Lord, as if he had been promoted for this very purpose. And thus he was the first to receive the crown, corresponding to his name, which belongs to the martyrs of Christ, who are worthy of the meed of victory.

2. Then James, whom the ancients surnamed the Just on account of the excellence of his virtue, is recorded to have been the first to be made bishop of the church of Jerusalem. This James was called the brother of the Lord because he was known as a son of Joseph, and Joseph was supposed to be the father of Christ, because the Virgin, being betrothed to him, was found with child by the Holy Ghost before they came together, Matthew 1:18 as the account of the holy Gospels shows.

3. But Clement in the sixth book of his Hypotyposes writes thus: For they say that Peter and James and John after the ascension of our Saviour, as if also preferred by our Lord, strove not after honor, but chose James the Just bishop of Jerusalem.

4. But the same writer, in the seventh book of the same work, relates also the following things concerning him: The Lord after his resurrection imparted knowledge to James the Just and to John and Peter, and they imparted it to the rest of the apostles, and the rest of the apostles to the seventy, of whom Barnabas was one. But there were two Jameses: one called the Just, who was thrown from the pinnacle of the temple and was beaten to death with a club by a fuller, and another who was beheaded. Paul also makes mention of the same James the Just, where he writes, Other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother. Galatians 1:19

5. At that time also the promise of our Saviour to the king of the Osrhœnians was fulfilled. For Thomas, under a divine impulse, sent Thaddeus to Edessa as a preacher and evangelist of the religion of Christ, as we have shown a little above from the document found there.

7. When he came to that place he healed Abgarus by the word of Christ; and after bringing all the people there into the right attitude of mind by means of his works, and leading them to adore the power of Christ, he made them disciples of the Saviour’s teaching. And from that time down to the present the whole city of the Edessenes has been devoted to the name of Christ, offering no common proof of the beneficence of our Saviour toward them also.

8. These things have been drawn from ancient accounts; but let us now turn again to the divine Scripture. When the first and greatest persecution was instigated by the Jews against the church of Jerusalem in connection with the martyrdom of Stephen, and when all the disciples, except the Twelve, were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria, some, as the divine Scripture says, went as far as Phœnicia and Cyprus and Antioch, but could not yet venture to impart the word of faith to the nations, and therefore preached it to the Jews alone.

9. During this time Paul was still persecuting the church, and entering the houses of believers was dragging men and women away and committing them to prison.

10. Philip also, one of those who with Stephen had been entrusted with the diaconate, being among those who were scattered abroad, went down to Samaria, and being filled with the divine power, he first preached the word to the inhabitants of that country. And divine grace worked so mightily with him that even Simon Magus with many others was attracted by his words.

11. Simon was at that time so celebrated, and had acquired, by his jugglery, such influence over those who were deceived by him, that he was thought to be the Great Power of God[According to Eusebius here, Simon Magus was called τὴν μεγ€λην δύναμιν τοῦ θεοῦ. In Acts 8:10, he was called ἡ δύναμις τοῦ θεοῦ ἡ καλουμένη. According to Irenæus (I.23.1) he was called “the loftiest of all powers, that is, the one who is father over all things” (sublissimam virtutem, hoc est, eum qui sit nuper omnia Pater). According to Justin Martyr (Apology I.26), he was called τὸν πρῶτον θεόν. According to the Clementine Homilies (II.22) he wished to be called “a certain supreme power of God” (ἀ νωτ€τη τις δύναμις). According to the Clementine Recognitions (II.7) he was called the “Standing One” (hinc ergo Stans appellatur).]

But at this time, being amazed at the wonderful deeds wrought by Philip through the divine power, he feigned and counterfeited faith in Christ, even going so far as to receive baptism.

12. And what is surprising, the same thing is done even to this day by those who follow his most impure heresy. For they, after the manner of their forefather, slipping into the Church, like a pestilential and leprous disease greatly afflict those into whom they are able to infuse the deadly and terrible poison concealed in themselves. The most of these have been expelled as soon as they have been caught in their wickedness, as Simon himself, when detected by Peter, received the merited punishment.

13. But as the preaching of the Saviour’s Gospel was daily advancing, a certain providence led from the land of the Ethiopians an officer of the queen of that country, for Ethiopia even to the present day is ruled, according to ancestral custom, by a woman. He, first among the Gentiles, received of the mysteries of the divine word from Philip in consequence of a revelation, and having become the first-fruits of believers throughout the world, he is said to have been the first on returning to his country to proclaim the knowledge of the God of the universe and the life-giving sojourn of our Saviour among men; so that through him in truth the prophecy obtained its fulfillment, which declares that Ethiopia stretches out her hand unto God.

14. In addition to these, Paul, that chosen vessel, Acts 9:15 not of men neither through men, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ himself and of God the Father who raised him from the dead, Galatians 1:1 was appointed an apostle, being made worthy of the call by a vision and by a voice which was uttered in a revelation from heaven.

Chapter 2. How Tiberius was affected when informed by Pilate concerning Christ.

1. And when the wonderful resurrection and ascension of our Saviour were already reported abroad, in accordance with an ancient custom which prevailed among the rulers of the provinces, of reporting to the emperor the novel occurrences which took place in them, in order that nothing might escape him, Pontius Pilate informed Tiberius of the reports which were reported abroad through all Palestine concerning the resurrection of our Saviour Jesus from the dead.

2. He gave an account also of other wonders which he had learned of him, and how, after his death, having risen from the dead, he was now believed by many to be a God. They say that Tiberius referred the matter to the Senate, but that they rejected it, ostensibly because they had not first examined into the matter (for an ancient law prevailed that no one should be made a God by the Romans except by a vote and decree of the Senate), but in reality because the saving teaching of the divine Gospel did not need the confirmation and recommendation of men.

3. But although the Senate of the Romans rejected the proposition made in regard to our SaviourTiberius still retained the opinion which he had held at first, and contrived no hostile measures against Christ.

4. These things are recorded by Tertullian, a man well versed in the laws of the Romans, and in other respects of high repute, and one of those especially distinguished in Rome. In his apology for the Christians, which was written by him in the Latin language, and has been translated into Greek, he writes as follows:

5. But in order that we may give an account of these laws from their origin, it was an ancient decree that no one should be consecrated a God by the emperor until the Senate had expressed its approval. Marcus Aurelius did thus concerning a certain idol, Alburnus. And this is a point in favor of our doctrine, that among you divine dignity is conferred by human decree. If a God does not please a man he is not made a God. Thus, according to this custom, it is necessary for man to be gracious to God.

6. Tiberius, therefore, under whom the name of Christ made its entry into the world, when this doctrine was reported to him from Palestine, where it first began, communicated with the Senate, making it clear to them that he was pleased with the doctrine. But the Senate, since it had not itself proved the matter, rejected it. But Tiberius continued to hold his own opinion, and threatened death to the accusers of the ChristiansHeavenly providence had wisely instilled this into his mind in order that the doctrine of the Gospel, unhindered at its beginning, might spread in all directions throughout the world.

Chapter 3. The Doctrine of Christ soon spread throughout All the World.

1. Thus, under the influence of heavenly power, and with the divine co-operation, the doctrine of the Saviour, like the rays of the sun, quickly illumined the whole world; and straightway, in accordance with the divine Scriptures, the voice of the inspired evangelists and apostles went forth through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.

2. In every city and village, churches were quickly established, filled with multitudes of people like a replenished threshing-floor. And those whose minds, in consequence of errors which had descended to them from their forefathers, were fettered by the ancient disease of idolatrous superstition, were, by the power of Christ operating through the teaching and the wonderful works of his disciples, set free, as it were, from terrible masters, and found a release from the most cruel bondage. They renounced with abhorrence every species of demoniacal polytheism, and confessed that there was only one God, the creator of all things, and him they honored with the rites of true piety, through the inspired and rational worship which has been planted by our Saviour among men.

3. But the divine grace being now poured out upon the rest of the nationsCornelius, of Cæsarea in Palestine, with his whole house, through a divine revelation and the agency of Peter, first received faith in Christ; and after him a multitude of other Greeks in Antioch, to whom those who were scattered by the persecution of Stephen had preached the Gospel. When the church of Antioch was now increasing and abounding, and a multitude of prophets from Jerusalem were on the ground, among them Barnabas and Paul and in addition many other brethren, the name of Christians first sprang up there, as from a fresh and life-giving fountain.

4. And Agabus, one of the prophets who was with them, uttered a prophecy concerning the famine which was about to take place, and Paul and Barnabas were sent to relieve the necessities of the brethren.

Chapter 4. After the Death of Tiberius, Caius appointed Agrippa King of the Jews, having punished Herod with Perpetual Exile.

1. Tiberius died, after having reigned about twenty-two years, and Caius succeeded him in the empire. He immediately gave the government of the Jews to Agrippa, making him king over the tetrarchies of Philip and of Lysanias; in addition to which he bestowed upon him, not long afterward, the tetrarchy of Herod, having punished Herod (the one under whom the Saviour suffered ) and his wife Herodias with perpetual exile on account of numerous crimes. Josephus is a witness to these facts.

2. Under this emperor, Philo became known; a man most celebrated not only among many of our own, but also among many scholars without the Church. He was a Hebrew by birth, but was inferior to none of those who held high dignities in Alexandria. How exceedingly he labored in the Scriptures and in the studies of his nation is plain to all from the work which he has done. How familiar he was with philosophy and with the liberal studies of foreign nations, it is not necessary to say, since he is reported to have surpassed all his contemporaries in the study of Platonic and Pythagorean philosophy, to which he particularly devoted his attention.

Chapter 5. Philo’s Embassy to Caius in Behalf of the Jews.

1. Philo has given us an account, in five books, of the misfortunes of the Jews under Caius. He recounts at the same time the madness of Caius: how he called himself a god, and performed as emperor innumerable acts of tyranny; and he describes further the miseries of the Jews under him, and gives a report of the embassy upon which he himself was sent to Rome in behalf of his fellow-countrymen in Alexandria; how when he appeared before Caius in behalf of the laws of his fathers he received nothing but laughter and ridicule, and almost incurred the risk of his life.

2. Josephus also makes mention of these things in the eighteenth book of his Antiquities, in the following words: A sedition having arisen in Alexandria between the Jews that dwell there and the Greeks, three deputies were chosen from each faction and went to Caius.

3. One of the Alexandrian deputies was Apion, who uttered many slanders against the Jews; among other things saying that they neglected the honors due to Cæsar. For while all other subjects of Rome erected altars and temples to Caius, and in all other respects treated him just as they did the gods, they alone considered it disgraceful to honor him with statues and to swear by his name.

4. And when Apion had uttered many severe charges by which he hoped that Caius would be aroused, as indeed was likely, Philo, the chief of the Jewish embassy, a man celebrated in every respect, a brother of Alexander the Alabarch, and not unskilled in philosophy, was prepared to enter upon a defense in reply to his accusations.

5. But Caius prevented him and ordered him to leave, and being very angry, it was plain that he meditated some severe measure against them. And Philo departed covered with insult and told the Jews that were with him to be of good courage; for while Caius was raging against them he was in fact already contending with God.

6. Thus far Josephus. And Philo himself, in the work On the Embassy which he wrote, describes accurately and in detail the things which were done by him at that time. But I shall omit the most of them and record only those things which will make clearly evident to the reader that the misfortunes of the Jews came upon them not long after their daring deeds against Christ and on account of the same.

7. And in the first place he relates that at Rome in the reign of Tiberius, Sejanus, who at that time enjoyed great influence with the emperor, made every effort to destroy the Jewish nation utterly; and that in JudeaPilate, under whom the crimes against the Saviour were committed, attempted something contrary to the Jewish law in respect to the temple, which was at that time still standing in Jerusalem, and excited them to the greatest tumults.

Chapter 6. The Misfortunes which overwhelmed the Jews after their Presumption against Christ.

1. After the death of Tiberius, Caius received the empire, and, besides innumerable other acts of tyranny against many people, he greatly afflicted especially the whole nation of the Jews. These things we may learn briefly from the words of Philo, who writes as follows:

2. So great was the caprice of Caius in his conduct toward all, and especially toward the nation of the Jews. The latter he so bitterly hated that he appropriated to himself their places of worship in the other cities, and beginning with Alexandria he filled them with images and statues of himself (for in permitting others to erect them he really erected them himself). The temple in the holy city, which had hitherto been left untouched, and had been regarded as an inviolable asylum, he altered and transformed into a temple of his own, that it might be called the temple of the visible Jupiter, the younger Caius.

3. Innumerable other terrible and almost indescribable calamities which came upon the Jews in Alexandria during the reign of the same emperor, are recorded by the same author in a second work, to which he gave the title, On the Virtues. With him agrees also Josephus, who likewise indicates that the misfortunes of the whole nation began with the time of Pilate, and with their daring crimes against the Saviour.

4. Hear what he says in the second book of his Jewish War, where he writes as follows: Pilate being sent to Judea as procurator by Tiberius, secretly carried veiled images of the emperor, called ensigns, to Jerusalem by night. The following day this caused the greatest disturbance among the Jews. For those who were near were confounded at the sight, beholding their laws, as it were, trampled under foot. For they allow no image to be set up in their city.

5. Comparing these things with the writings of the evangelists, you will see that it was not long before there came upon them the penalty for the exclamation which they had uttered under the same Pilate, when they cried out that they had no other king than CæsarJohn 19:15

6. The same writer further records that after this another calamity overtook them. He writes as follows: After this he stirred up another tumult by making use of the holy treasure, which is called Corban, in the construction of an aqueduct three hundred stadia in length.

7. The multitude were greatly displeased at it, and when Pilate was in Jerusalem they surrounded his tribunal and gave utterance to loud complaints. But he, anticipating the tumult, had distributed through the crowd armed soldiers disguised in citizen’s clothing, forbidding them to use the sword, but commanding them to strike with clubs those who should make an outcry. To them he now gave the preconcerted signal from the tribunal. And the Jews being beaten, many of them perished in consequence of the blows, while many others were trampled under foot by their own countrymen in their flight, and thus lost their lives. But the multitude, overawed by the fate of those who were slain, held their peace.

8. In addition to these the same author records many other tumults which were stirred up in Jerusalem itself, and shows that from that time seditions and wars and mischievous plots followed each other in quick succession, and never ceased in the city and in all Judea until finally the siege of Vespasian overwhelmed them. Thus the divine vengeance overtook the Jews for the crimes which they dared to commit against Christ.

Chapter 7. Pilate’s Suicide.

It is worthy of note that Pilate himself, who was governor in the time of our Saviour, is reported to have fallen into such misfortunes under Caius, whose times we are recording, that he was forced to become his own murderer and executioner; and thus divine vengeance, as it seems, was not long in overtaking him. This is stated by those Greek historians who have recorded the Olympiads, together with the respective events which have taken place in each period.

Chapter 8. The Famine which took Place in the Reign of Claudius.

1. Caius had held the power not quite four years, when he was succeeded by the emperor Claudius. Under him the world was visited with a famine, which writers that are entire strangers to our religion have recorded in their histories. And thus the prediction of Agabus recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, Acts 11:28 according to which the whole world was to be visited by a famine, received its fulfillment.

2. And Luke, in the Acts, after mentioning the famine in the time of Claudius, and stating that the brethren of Antioch, each according to his ability, sent to the brethren of Judea by the hands of Paul and BarnabasActs 11:29-30 adds the following account.

Chapter 9. The Martyrdom of James the Apostle.

1.  Acts 12:1-2 Now about that time (it is clear that he means the time of Claudius) Herod the King stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the Church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.

2. And concerning this James, Clement, in the seventh book of his Hypotyposes, relates a story which is worthy of mention; telling it as he received it from those who had lived before him. He says that the one who led James to the judgment-seat, when he saw him bearing his testimony, was moved, and confessed that he was himself also a Christian.

3. They were both therefore, he says, led away together; and on the way he begged James to forgive him. And he, after considering a little, said, Peace be with you, and kissed him. And thus they were both beheaded at the same time.

4. And then, as the divine Scripture says, Acts 12:3 sqq. Herod, upon the death of James, seeing that the deed pleased the Jews, attacked Peter also and committed him to prison, and would have slain him if he had not, by the divine appearance of an angel who came to him by night, been wonderfully released from his bonds, and thus liberated for the service of the Gospel. Such was the providence of God in respect to Peter.

Chapter 10. Agrippa, who was also called Herod, having persecuted the Apostles, immediately experienced the Divine Vengeance.

1. The consequences of the king’s undertaking against the apostles were not long deferred, but the avenging minister of divine justice overtook him immediately after his plots against them, as the Book of Acts records. For when he had journeyed to Cæsarea, on a notable feast-day, clothed in a splendid and royal garment, he delivered an address to the people from a lofty throne in front of the tribunal. And when all the multitude applauded the speech, as if it were the voice of a god and not of a man, the Scripture relates that an angel of the Lord smote him, and being eaten of worms he gave up the ghost. Acts 12:23

2. We must admire the account of Josephus for its agreement with the divine Scriptures in regard to this wonderful event; for he clearly bears witness to the truth in the nineteenth book of his Antiquities, where he relates the wonder in the following words:

3. He had completed the third year of his reign over all Judea when he came to Cæsarea, which was formerly called Strato’s Tower. northwest of Jerusalem. In the time of Strabo there was simply a small town at this point, called “Strato’s Tower”; but about 10 BC Herod the Great built the city of Cæsarea, which soon became the principal Roman city of Palestine, and was noted for its magnificence. It became, later, the seat of an important Christian school, and played quite a part in Church history. Eusebius himself was Bishop of Cæsarea. It was a city of importance, even in the time of the crusades, but is now a scene of utter desolation.}–> There he held games in honor of Cæsar, learning that this was a festival observed in behalf of Cæsar’s safety. At this festival was collected a great multitude of the highest and most honorable men in the province.

4. And on the second day of the games he proceeded to the theater at break of day, wearing a garment entirely of silver and of wonderful texture. And there the silver, illuminated by the reflection of the sun’s earliest rays, shone marvelously, gleaming so brightly as to produce a sort of fear and terror in those who gazed upon him.

5. And immediately his flatterers, some from one place, others from another, raised up their voices in a way that was not for his good, calling him a god, and saying, ‘Be merciful; if up to this time we have feared you as a man, henceforth we confess that you are superior to the nature of mortals.’

6. The king did not rebuke them, nor did he reject their impious flattery. But after a little, looking up, he saw an angel sitting above his head. And this he quickly perceived would be the cause of evil as it had once been the cause of good fortune, and he was smitten with a heart-piercing pain.

7. And straightway distress, beginning with the greatest violence, seized his bowels. And looking upon his friends he said, ‘I, your god, am now commanded to depart this life; and fate thus on the spot disproves the lying words you have just uttered concerning me. He who has been called immortal by you is now led away to die; but our destiny must be accepted as God has determined it. For we have passed our life by no means ingloriously, but in that splendor which is called happiness.’

8. And when he had said this he labored with an increase of pain. He was accordingly carried in haste to the palace, while the report spread among all that the king would undoubtedly soon die. But the multitude, with their wives and children, sitting on sackcloth after the custom of their fathers, implored God in behalf of the king, and every place was filled with lamentation and tears. And the king as he lay in a lofty chamber, and saw them below lying prostrate on the ground, could not refrain from weeping himself.

9. And after suffering continually for five days with pain in the bowels, he departed this life, in the fifty-fourth year of his age, and in the seventh year of his reign. Four years he ruled under the Emperor Caius — three of them over the tetrarchy of Philip, to which was added in the fourth year that of Herod — and three years during the reign of the Emperor Claudius.

10. I marvel greatly that Josephus, in these things as well as in others, so fully agrees with the divine Scriptures. But if there should seem to any one to be a disagreement in respect to the name of the king, the time at least and the events show that the same person is meant, whether the change of name has been caused by the error of a copyist, or is due to the fact that he, like so many, bore two names.

Chapter 11. The Impostor Theudas and his Followers.

1. Luke, in the Acts, introduces Gamaliel as saying, at the consultation which was held concerning the apostles, that at the time referred to, rose up Theudas boasting himself to be somebody; who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered. Acts 5:36 Let us therefore add the account of Josephus concerning this man. He records in the work mentioned just above, the following circumstances:

2. While Fadus was procurator of Judea a certain impostor called Theudas persuaded a very great multitude to take their possessions and follow him to the river Jordan. For he said that he was a prophet, and that the river should be divided at his command, and afford them an easy passage.

3. And with these words he deceived many. But Fadus did not permit them to enjoy their folly, but sent a troop of horsemen against them, who fell upon them unexpectedly and slew many of them and took many others alive, while they took Theudas himself captive, and cut off his head and carried it to Jerusalem. Besides this he also makes mention of the famine, which took place in the reign of Claudius, in the following words.

Chapter 12. Helen, the Queen of the Osrhœnians.

1. And at this time it came to pass that the great famine took place in Judea, in which the queen Helen, having purchased grain from Egypt with large sums, distributed it to the needy.

2. You will find this statement also in agreement with the Acts of the Apostles, where it is said that the disciples at Antiocheach according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren that dwelt in Judea; which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Paul.

3. But splendid monuments of this Helen, of whom the historian has made mention, are still shown in the suburbs of the city which is now called Ælia. But she is said to have been queen of the Adiabeni.

Chapter 13. Simon Magus.

1. But faith in our Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ having now been diffused among all men, the enemy of man’s salvation contrived a plan for seizing the imperial city for himself. He conducted there the above-mentioned Simon, aided him in his deceitful arts, led many of the inhabitants of Rome astray, and thus brought them into his own power.

2. This is stated by Justin, one of our distinguished writers who lived not long after the time of the apostles. Concerning him I shall speak in the proper place. Take and read the work of this man, who in the first Apology which he addressed to Antonine in behalf of our religion writes as follows:

3. And after the ascension of the Lord into heaven the demons put forward certain men who said they were gods, and who were not only allowed by you to go unpersecuted, but were even deemed worthy of honors. One of them was Simon, a Samaritan of the village of Gitto, who in the reign of Claudius Cæsar performed in your imperial city some mighty acts of magic by the art of demons operating in him, and was considered a god, and as a god was honored by you with a statue, which was erected in the river Tiber, between the two bridges, and bore this inscription in the Latin tongue, Simoni Deo Sancto, that is, To Simon the Holy God.

4. And nearly all the Samaritans and a few even of other nations confess and worship him as the first God. And there went around with him at that time a certain Helena who had formerly been a prostitute in Tyre of Phœnicia; and her they call the first idea that proceeded from him.

5. Justin relates these things, and Irenæus also agrees with him in the first book of his work, Against Heresies, where he gives an account of the man and of his profane and impure teaching. It would be superfluous to quote his account here, for it is possible for those who wish to know the origin and the lives and the false doctrines of each of the heresiarchs that have followed him, as well as the customs practiced by them all, to find them treated at length in the above-mentioned work of Irenæus.

6. We have understood that Simon was the author of all heresy. From his time down to the present those who have followed his heresy have feigned the sober philosophy of the Christians, which is celebrated among all on account of its purity of life. But they nevertheless have embraced again the superstitions of idols, which they seemed to have renounced; and they fall down before pictures and images of Simon himself and of the above-mentioned Helena who was with him; and they venture to worship them with incense and sacrifices and libations.

7. But those matters which they keep more secret than these, in regard to which they say that one upon first hearing them would be astonished, and, to use one of the written phrases in vogue among them, would be confounded, are in truth full of amazing things, and of madness and folly, being of such a sort that it is impossible not only to commit them to writing, but also for modest men even to utter them with the lips on account of their excessive baseness and lewdness.

8. For whatever could be conceived of, viler than the vilest thing — all that has been outdone by this most abominable sect, which is composed of those who make a sport of those miserable females that are literally overwhelmed with all kinds of vices.

Chapter 14. The Preaching of the Apostle Peter in Rome.

1. The evil power, who hates all that is good and plots against the salvation of men, constituted Simon at that time the father and author of such wickedness, as if to make him a mighty antagonist of the great, inspired apostles of our Saviour.

2. For that divine and celestial grace which co-operates with its ministers, by their appearance and presence, quickly extinguished the kindled flame of evil, and humbled and cast down through them every high thing that exalted itself against the knowledge of God. 2 Corinthians 10:5

3. Wherefore neither the conspiracy of Simon nor that of any of the others who arose at that period could accomplish anything in those apostolic times. For everything was conquered and subdued by the splendors of the truth and by the divine word itself which had but lately begun to shine from heaven upon men, and which was then flourishing upon earth, and dwelling in the apostles themselves.

4. Immediately the above-mentioned impostor was smitten in the eyes of his mind by a divine and miraculous flash, and after the evil deeds done by him had been first detected by the apostle Peter in Judea, he fled and made a great journey across the sea from the East to the West, thinking that only thus could he live according to his mind.

5. And coming to the city of Rome, by the mighty co-operation of that power which was lying in wait there, he was in a short time so successful in his undertaking that those who dwelt there honored him as a god by the erection of a statue.

6. But this did not last long. For immediately, during the reign of Claudius, the all-good and gracious Providence, which watches over all things, led Peter, that strongest and greatest of the apostles, and the one who on account of his virtue was the speaker for all the others, to Rome against this great corrupter of life. Clad in divine armor like a noble commander of God, He carried the costly merchandise of the light of the understanding from the East to those who dwelt in the West, proclaiming the light itself, and the word which brings salvation to souls, and preaching the kingdom of heaven.

Chapter 15. The Gospel according to Mark.

1. And thus when the divine word had made its home among them, the power of Simon was quenched and immediately destroyed, together with the man himself. And so greatly did the splendor of piety illumine the minds of Peter’s hearers that they were not satisfied with hearing once only, and were not content with the unwritten teaching of the divine Gospel, but with all sorts of entreaties they besought Mark, a follower of Peter, and the one whose Gospel is extant, that he would leave them a written monument of the doctrine which had been orally communicated to them. Nor did they cease until they had prevailed with the man, and had thus become the occasion of the written Gospel which bears the name of Mark.

2. And they say that Peter — when he had learned, through a revelation of the Spirit, of that which had been done — was pleased with the zeal of the men, and that the work obtained the sanction of his authority for the purpose of being used in the churches. Clement in the eighth book of his Hypotyposes gives this account, and with him agrees the bishop of Hierapolis named Papias. And Peter makes mention of Mark in his first epistle which they say that he wrote in Rome itself, as is indicated by him, when he calls the city, by a figure, Babylon, as he does in the following words: The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, salutes you; and so does Marcus my son. 1 Peter 5:13

Chapter 16. Mark first proclaimed Christianity to the Inhabitants of Egypt.

1. And they say that this Mark was the first that was sent to Egypt, and that he proclaimed the Gospel which he had written, and first established churches in Alexandria.

2. And the multitude of believers, both men and women, that were collected there at the very outset, and lived lives of the most philosophical and excessive asceticism, was so great, that Philo thought it worth while to describe their pursuits, their meetings, their entertainments, and their whole manner of life.

Chapter 17. Philo’s Account of the Ascetics of Egypt.

1. It is also said that Philo in the reign of Claudius became acquainted at Rome with Peter, who was then preaching there. Nor is this indeed improbable, for the work of which we have spoken, and which was composed by him some years later, clearly contains those rules of the Church which are even to this day observed among us.

2. And since he describes as accurately as possible the life of our ascetics, it is clear that he not only knew, but that he also approved, while he venerated and extolled, the apostolic men of his time, who were as it seems of the Hebrew race, and hence observed, after the manner of the Jews, the most of the customs of the ancients.

3. In the work to which he gave the title, On a Contemplative Life or on Suppliants, after affirming in the first place that he will add to those things which he is about to relate nothing contrary to truth or of his own invention, he says that these men were called Therapeutæ and the women that were with them Therapeutrides. He then adds the reasons for such a name, explaining it from the fact that they applied remedies and healed the souls of those who came to them, by relieving them like physicians, of evil passions, or from the fact that they served and worshipped the Deity in purity and sincerity.

4. Whether Philo himself gave them this name, employing an epithet well suited to their mode of life, or whether the first of them really called themselves so in the beginning, since the name of Christians was not yet everywhere known, we need not discuss here.

5. He bears witness, however, that first of all they renounce their property. When they begin the philosophical mode of life, he says, they give up their goods to their relatives, and then, renouncing all the cares of life, they go forth beyond the walls and dwell in lonely fields and gardens, knowing well that intercourse with people of a different character is unprofitable and harmful. They did this at that time, as seems probable, under the influence of a spirited and ardent faith, practicing in emulation the prophets’ mode of life.

6. For in the Acts of the Apostles, a work universally acknowledged as authentic, it is recorded that all the companions of the apostles sold their possessions and their property and distributed to all according to the necessity of each one, so that no one among them was in wantFor as many as were possessors of lands or houses, as the account says, sold them and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet, so that distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. Acts 2:45

7. Philo bears witness to facts very much like those here described and then adds the following account: Everywhere in the world is this race found. For it was fitting that both Greek and Barbarian should share in what is perfectly good. But the race particularly abounds in Egypt, in each of its so-called nomes, and especially about Alexandria.

8. The best men from every quarter emigrate, as if to a colony of the Therapeutæ’s fatherland, to a certain very suitable spot which lies above the Lake Maria upon a low hill excellently situated on account of its security and the mildness of the atmosphere.

9. And then a little further on, after describing the kind of houses which they had, he speaks as follows concerning their churches, which were scattered about here and there: In each house there is a sacred apartment which is called a sanctuary and monastery, where, quite alone, they perform the mysteries of the religious life. They bring nothing into it, neither drink nor food, nor any of the other things which contribute to the necessities of the body, but only the laws, and the inspired oracles of the prophets, and hymns and such other things as augment and make perfect their knowledge and piety.

10. And after some other matters he says:

The whole interval, from morning to evening, is for them a time of exercise. For they read the holy Scriptures, and explain the philosophy of their fathers in an allegorical manner, regarding the written words as symbols of hidden truth which is communicated in obscure figures.

11. They have also writings of ancient men, who were the founders of their sect, and who left many monuments of the allegorical method. These they use as models, and imitate their principles.

12. These things seem to have been stated by a man who had heard them expounding their sacred writings. But it is highly probable that the works of the ancients, which he says they had, were the Gospels and the writings of the apostles, and probably some expositions of the ancient prophets, such as are contained in the Epistle to the Hebrews, and in many others of Paul’s Epistles.

13. Then again he writes as follows concerning the new psalms which they composed: So that they not only spend their time in meditation, but they also compose songs and hymns to God in every variety of metre and melody, though they divide them, of course, into measures of more than common solemnity.

14. The same book contains an account of many other things, but it seemed necessary to select those facts which exhibit the characteristics of the ecclesiastical mode of life.

15. But if any one thinks that what has been said is not peculiar to the Gospel polity, but that it can be applied to others besides those mentioned, let him be convinced by the subsequent words of the same author, in which, if he is unprejudiced, he will find undisputed testimony on this subject. Philo’s words are as follows:

16. Having laid down temperance as a sort of foundation in the soul, they build upon it the other virtues. None of them may take food or drink before sunset, since they regard philosophizing as a work worthy of the light, but attention to the wants of the body as proper only in the darkness, and therefore assign the day to the former, but to the latter a small portion of the night.

17. But some, in whom a great desire for knowledge dwells, forget to take food for three days; and some are so delighted and feast so luxuriously upon wisdom, which furnishes doctrines richly and without stint, that they abstain even twice as long as this, and are accustomed, after six days, scarcely to take necessary food. These statements of Philo we regard as referring clearly and indisputably to those of our communion.

18. But if after these things any one still obstinately persists in denying the reference, let him renounce his incredulity and be convinced by yet more striking examples, which are to be found nowhere else than in the evangelical religion of the Christians.

19. For they say that there were women also with those of whom we are speaking, and that the most of them were aged virgins who had preserved their chastity, not out of necessity, as some of the priestesses among the Greeks, but rather by their own choice, through zeal and a desire for wisdom. And that in their earnest desire to live with it as their companion they paid no attention to the pleasures of the body, seeking not mortal but immortal progeny, which only the pious soul is able to bear of itself.

20. Then after a little he adds still more emphatically: They expound the Sacred Scriptures figuratively by means of allegories. For the whole law seems to these men to resemble a living organism, of which the spoken words constitute the body, while the hidden sense stored up within the words constitutes the soul. This hidden meaning has first been particularly studied by this sect, which sees, revealed as in a mirror of names, the surpassing beauties of the thoughts.

21. Why is it necessary to add to these things their meetings and the respective occupations of the men and of the women during those meetings, and the practices which are even to the present day habitually observed by us, especially such as we are accustomed to observe at the feast of the Saviour’s passion, with fasting and night watching and study of the divine Word.

22. These things the above-mentioned author has related in his own work, indicating a mode of life which has been preserved to the present time by us alone, recording especially the vigils kept in connection with the great festival, and the exercises performed during those vigils, and the hymns customarily recited by us, and describing how, while one sings regularly in time, the others listen in silence, and join in chanting only the close of the hymns; and how, on the days referred to they sleep on the ground on beds of straw, and to use his own words, taste no wine at all, nor any flesh, but water is their only drink, and the reish with their bread is salt and hyssop.

23. In addition to this Philo describes the order of dignities which exists among those who carry on the services of the church, mentioning the diaconate, and the office of bishop, which takes the precedence over all the others. But whosoever desires a more accurate knowledge of these matters may get it from the history already cited.

24. But that Philo, when he wrote these things, had in view the first heralds of the Gospel and the customs handed down from the beginning by the apostles, is clear to every one.

Chapter 18. The Works of Philo that have come down to us.

1. Copious in language, comprehensive in thought, sublime and elevated in his views of divine ScripturePhilo has produced manifold and various expositions of the sacred books. On the one hand, he expounds in order the events recorded in Genesis in the books to which he gives the title Allegories of the Sacred Laws; on the other hand, he makes successive divisions of the chapters in the Scriptures which are the subject of investigation, and gives objections and solutions, in the books which he quite suitably calls Questions and Answers on Genesis and Exodus.

2. There are, besides these, treatises expressly worked out by him on certain subjects, such as the two books On Agriculture, and the same number On Drunkenness; and some others distinguished by different titles corresponding to the contents of each; for instance, Concerning the Things Which the Sober Mind Desires and ExecratesOn the Confusion of TonguesOn Flight and DiscoveryOn Assembly for the Sake of InstructionOn the Question, ‘Who is Heir to Things Divine?’ or On the Division of Things into Equal and Unequal, and still further the work On the Three Virtues Which With Others Have Been Described by Moses.

3. In addition to these is the work On Those Whose Names Have Been Changed and Why They Have Been Changed, in which he says that he had written also two books On Covenants.

4. And there is also a work of his On Emigration, and one On the Life of a Wise Man Made Perfect in Righteousness, or On Unwritten Laws; and still further the work On Giants or On the Immutability of God, and a first, second, third, fourth and fifth book On the Proposition, That Dreams According to Moses are Sent by God. These are the books on Genesis that have come down to us.

5. But on Exodus we are acquainted with the first, second, third, fourth and fifth books of Questions and Answers; also with that On the Tabernacle, and that On the Ten Commandments, and the four books On the Laws Which Refer Especially to the Principal Divisions of the Ten Commandments, and another On Animals Intended for Sacrifice and On the Kinds of Sacrifice, and another On the Rewards Fixed in the Law for the Good, and on the Punishments and Curses Fixed for the Wicked.

6. In addition to all these there are extant also some single-volumed works of his; as for instance, the work On Providence, and the book composed by him On the Jews, and The Statesman; and still further, Alexander, or On the Possession of Reason by the Irrational Animals. Besides these there is a work On the Proposition that Every Wicked Man is a Slave, to which is subjoined the work On the Proposition that Every Good Man is Free.

7. After these was composed by him the work On the Contemplative Life, or On Suppliants, from which we have drawn the facts concerning the life of the apostolic men; and still further, the Interpretation of the Hebrew Names in the Law and in the Prophets are said to be the result of his industry.

8. And he is said to have read in the presence of the whole Roman Senate during the reign of Claudius the work which he had written, when he came to Rome under Caius, concerning Caius’ hatred of the gods, and to which, with ironical reference to its character, he had given the title On the Virtues. And his discourses were so much admired as to be deemed worthy of a place in the libraries.

9. At this time, while Paul was completing his journey from Jerusalem and round about unto Illyricum, Romans 15:19 Claudius drove the Jews out of Rome; and Aquila and Priscilla, leaving Rome with the other Jews, came to Asia, and there abode with the apostle Paul, who was confirming the churches of that region whose foundations he had newly laid. The sacred book of the Acts informs us also of these things.

Chapter 19. The Calamity which befell the Jews in Jerusalem on the Day of the Passover.

1. While Claudius was still emperor, it happened that so great a tumult and disturbance took place in Jerusalem at the feast of the Passover, that thirty thousand of those Jews alone who were forcibly crowded together at the gate of the temple perished, being trampled under foot by one another. Thus the festival became a season of mourning for all the nation, and there was weeping in every house. These things are related literally by Josephus.

2. But Claudius appointed Agrippa, son of Agrippa, king of the Jews, having sent Felix as procurator of the whole country of Samaria and Galilee, and of the land called Perea. And after he had reigned thirteen years and eight months he died, and left Nero as his successor in the empire.

Chapter 20. The Events which took Place in Jerusalem during the Reign of Nero.

1. Josephus again, in the twentieth book of his Antiquities, relates the quarrel which arose among the priests during the reign of Nero, while Felix was procurator of Judea.

2. His words are as follows : There arose a quarrel between the high priests on the one hand and the priests and leaders of the people of Jerusalem on the other. And each of them collected a body of the boldest and most restless men, and put himself at their head, and whenever they met they hurled invectives and stones at each other. And there was no one that would interpose; but these things were done at will as if in a city destitute of a ruler.

3. And so great was the shamelessness and audacity of the high priests that they dared to send their servants to the threshing-floors to seize the tithes due to the priests; and thus those of the priests that were poor were seen to be perishing of want. In this way did the violence of the factions prevail over all justice.

4. And the same author again relates that about the same time there sprang up in Jerusalem a certain kind of robbers, who by day, as he says, and in the middle of the city slew those who met them.

5. For, especially at the feasts, they mingled with the multitude, and with short swords, which they concealed under their garments, they stabbed the most distinguished men. And when they fell, the murderers themselves were among those who expressed their indignation. And thus on account of the confidence which was reposed in them by all, they remained undiscovered.

6. The first that was slain by them was Jonathan the high priest; and after him many were killed every day, until the fear became worse than the evil itself, each one, as in battle, hourly expecting death.

Chapter 21. The Egyptian, who is mentioned also in the Acts of the Apostles.

1. After other matters he proceeds as follows: But the Jews were afflicted with a greater plague than these by the Egyptian false prophet. For there appeared in the land an impostor who aroused faith in himself as a prophet, and collected about thirty thousand of those whom he had deceived, and led them from the desert to the so-called Mount of Olives whence he was prepared to enter Jerusalem by force and to overpower the Roman garrison and seize the government of the people, using those who made the attack with him as body guards.

2. But Felix anticipated his attack, and went out to meet him with the Roman legionaries, and all the people joined in the defense, so that when the battle was fought the Egyptian fled with a few followers, but the most of them were destroyed or taken captive.

3. Josephus relates these events in the second book of his History. But it is worth while comparing the account of the Egyptian given here with that contained in the Acts of the Apostles. In the time of Felix it was said to Paul by the centurion in Jerusalem, when the multitude of the Jews raised a disturbance against the apostleAre you not he who before these days made an uproar, and led out into the wilderness four thousand men that were murderers? Acts 21:38 These are the events which took place in the time of Felix.

Chapter 22. Paul having been sent bound from Judea to Rome, made his Defense, and was acquitted of every Charge.

1. Festus was sent by Nero to be Felix’s successor. Under him Paul, having made his defense, was sent bound to Rome. Aristarchus was with him, whom he also somewhere in his epistles quite naturally calls his fellow-prisoner. Colossians 4:10 And Luke, who wrote the Acts of the Apostles, brought his history to a close at this point, after stating that Paul spent two whole years at Rome as a prisoner at large, and preached the word of God without restraint.

2. Thus after he had made his defense it is said that the apostle was sent again upon the ministry of preaching, and that upon coming to the same city a second time he suffered martyrdom. In this imprisonment he wrote his second epistle to Timothy, in which he mentions his first defense and his impending death.

3. But hear his testimony on these matters: At my first answer, he says, no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. 2 Timothy 4:16-17

4. He plainly indicates in these words that on the former occasion, in order that the preaching might be fulfilled by him, he was rescued from the mouth of the lion, referring, in this expression, to Nero, as is probable on account of the latter’s cruelty. He did not therefore afterward add the similar statement, He will rescue me from the mouth of the lion; for he saw in the spirit that his end would not be long delayed.

5. Wherefore he adds to the words, And he delivered me from the mouth of the lion, this sentence: The Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom, 2 Timothy 4:18 indicating his speedy martyrdom; which he also foretells still more clearly in the same epistle, when he writes, For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.

6. In his second epistle to Timothy, moreover, he indicates that Luke was with him when he wrote, but at his first defense not even he. Whence it is probable that Luke wrote the Acts of the Apostles at that time, continuing his history down to the period when he was with Paul.

7. But these things have been adduced by us to show that Paul’s martyrdom did not take place at the time of that Roman sojourn which Luke records.

8. It is probable indeed that as Nero was more disposed to mildness in the beginning, Paul’s defense of his doctrine was more easily received; but that when he had advanced to the commission of lawless deeds of daring, he made the apostles as well as others the subjects of his attacks.

Chapter 23. The Martyrdom of James, who was called the Brother of the Lord.

1. But after Paul, in consequence of his appeal to Cæsar, had been sent to Rome by Festus, the Jews, being frustrated in their hope of entrapping him by the snares which they had laid for him, turned against James, the brother of the Lord, to whom the episcopal seat at Jerusalem had been entrusted by the apostles. The following daring measures were undertaken by them against him.

2. Leading him into their midst they demanded of him that he should renounce faith in Christ in the presence of all the people. But, contrary to the opinion of all, with a clear voice, and with greater boldness than they had anticipated, he spoke out before the whole multitude and confessed that our Saviour and Lord Jesus is the Son of God. But they were unable to bear longer the testimony of the man who, on account of the excellence of ascetic virtue and of piety which he exhibited in his life, was esteemed by all as the most just of men, and consequently they slew him. Opportunity for this deed of violence was furnished by the prevailing anarchy, which was caused by the fact that Festus had died just at this time in Judea, and that the province was thus without a governor and head.

3. The manner of James’ death has been already indicated by the above-quoted words of Clement, who records that he was thrown from the pinnacle of the temple, and was beaten to death with a club. But Hegesippus, who lived immediately after the apostles, gives the most accurate account in the fifth book of his Memoirs. He writes as follows:

4. James, the brother of the Lord, succeeded to the government of the Church in conjunction with the apostles. He has been called the Just by all from the time of our Saviour to the present day; for there were many that bore the name of James.

5. He was holy from his mother’s womb; and he drank no wine nor strong drink, nor did he eat flesh. No razor came upon his head; he did not anoint himself with oil, and he did not use the bath.

6. He alone was permitted to enter into the holy place; for he wore not woolen but linen garments. And he was in the habit of entering alone into the temple, and was frequently found upon his knees begging forgiveness for the people, so that his knees became hard like those of a camel, in consequence of his constantly bending them in his worship of God, and asking forgiveness for the people.

7. Because of his exceeding great justice he was called the Just, and Oblias, which signifies in Greek, ‘Bulwark of the people’ and ‘Justice,’ in accordance with what the prophets declare concerning him.

8. Now some of the seven sects, which existed among the people and which have been mentioned by me in the Memoirs, asked him, ‘What is the gate of Jesus?’ and he replied that he was the Saviour.

9. On account of these words some believed that Jesus is the Christ. But the sects mentioned above did not believe either in a resurrection or in one’s coming to give to every man according to his works. But as many as believed did so on account of James.

10. Therefore when many even of the rulers believed, there was a commotion among the Jews and Scribes and Pharisees, who said that there was danger that the whole people would be looking for Jesus as the Christ. Coming therefore in a body to James they said, ‘We entreat you, restrain the people; for they are gone astray in regard to Jesus, as if he were the Christ. We entreat you to persuade all that have come to the feast of the Passover concerning Jesus; for we all have confidence in you. For we bear you witness, as do all the people, that you are just, and do not respect personsMatthew 22:16

11. Therefore, persuade the multitude not to be led astray concerning Jesus. For the whole people, and all of us also, have confidence in you. Stand therefore upon the pinnacle of the temple, that from that high position you may be clearly seen, and that your words may be readily heard by all the people. For all the tribes, with the Gentiles also, have come together on account of the Passover.’

12. The aforesaid Scribes and Pharisees therefore placed James upon the pinnacle of the temple, and cried out to him and said: ‘You just one, in whom we ought all to have confidence, forasmuch as the people are led astray after Jesus, the crucified one, declare to us, what is the gate of Jesus.’

13. And he answered with a loud voice, ‘Why do you ask me concerning Jesus, the Son of Man? He himself sits in heaven at the right hand of the great Power, and is about to come upon the clouds of heaven.’

14. And when many were fully convinced and gloried in the testimony of James, and said, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David,’ these same Scribes and Pharisees said again to one another, ‘We have done badly in supplying such testimony to Jesus. But let us go up and throw him down, in order that they may be afraid to believe him.’

15. And they cried out, saying, ‘Oh! Oh! The just man is also in error.’ And they fulfilled the Scripture written in Isaiah, ‘Let us take away the just man, because he is troublesome to us: therefore they shall eat the fruit of their doings.’

16. So they went up and threw down the just man, and said to each other, ‘Let us stone James the Just.’ And they began to stone him, for he was not killed by the fall; but he turned and knelt down and said, ‘I entreat you, Lord God our Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ Luke 23:34

17. And while they were thus stoning him one of the priests of the sons of Rechab, the son of the Rechabites, who are mentioned by Jeremiah the prophet, cried out, saying, ‘Stop. What are you doing? The just one prays for you.’

18. And one of them, who was a fuller, took the club with which he beat out clothes and struck the just man on the head. And thus he suffered martyrdom. And they buried him on the spot, by the temple, and his monument still remains by the temple. He became a true witness, both to Jews and Greeks, that Jesus is the Christ. And immediately Vespasian besieged them.

19. These things are related at length by Hegesippus, who is in agreement with Clement. James was so admirable a man and so celebrated among all for his justice, that the more sensible even of the Jews were of the opinion that this was the cause of the siege of Jerusalem, which happened to them immediately after his martyrdom for no other reason than their daring act against him.

20. Josephus, at least, has not hesitated to testify this in his writings, where he says, These things happened to the Jews to avenge James the Just, who was a brother of Jesus, that is called the Christ. For the Jews slew him, although he was a most just man.

21. And the same writer records his death also in the twentieth book of his Antiquities in the following words: But the emperor, when he learned of the death of Festus, sent Albinus to be procurator of Judea. But the younger Ananus, who, as we have already said, had obtained the high priesthood, was of an exceedingly bold and reckless disposition. He belonged, moreover, to the sect of the Sadducees, who are the most cruel of all the Jews in the execution of judgment, as we have already shown.

22. Ananus, therefore, being of this character, and supposing that he had a favorable opportunity on account of the fact that Festus was dead, and Albinus was still on the way, called together the Sanhedrin, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, the so-called Christ, James by name, together with some others, and accused them of violating the law, and condemned them to be stoned.

23. But those in the city who seemed most moderate and skilled in the law were very angry at this, and sent secretly to the king, requesting him to order Ananus to cease such proceedings. For he had not done right even this first time. And certain of them also went to meet Albinus, who was journeying from Alexandria, and reminded him that it was not lawful for Ananus to summon the Sanhedrin without his knowledge.

24. And Albinus, being persuaded by their representations, wrote in anger to Ananus, threatening him with punishment. And the king, Agrippa, in consequence, deprived him of the high priesthood, which he had held three months, and appointed Jesus, the son of Damnæus.

25. These things are recorded in regard to James, who is said to be the author of the first of the so-called catholic epistles. But it is to be observed that it is disputed; at least, not many of the ancients have mentioned it, as is the case likewise with the epistle that bears the name of Jude, which is also one of the seven so-called catholic epistles. Nevertheless we know that these also, with the rest, have been read publicly in very many churches.

Chapter 24. Annianus the First Bishop of the Church of Alexandria after Mark.

1. When Nero was in the eighth year of his reign, Annianus succeeded Mark the Evangelist in the administration of the parish of Alexandria.

Chapter 25. The Persecution under Nero in which Paul and Peter were honored at Rome with Martyrdom in Behalf of Religion.

1. When the government of Nero was now firmly established, he began to plunge into unholy pursuits, and armed himself even against the religion of the God of the universe.

2. To describe the greatness of his depravity does not lie within the plan of the present work. As there are many indeed that have recorded his history in most accurate narratives, every one may at his pleasure learn from them the coarseness of the man’s extraordinary madness, under the influence of which, after he had accomplished the destruction of so many myriads without any reason, he ran into such blood-guiltiness that he did not spare even his nearest relatives and dearest friends, but destroyed his mother and his brothers and his wife, with very many others of his own family as he would private and public enemies, with various kinds of deaths.

3. But with all these things this particular in the catalogue of his crimes was still wanting, that he was the first of the emperors who showed himself an enemy of the divine religion.

4. The Roman Tertullian is likewise a witness of this. He writes as follows: Examine your records. There you will find that Nero was the first that persecuted this doctrine, particularly then when after subduing all the east, he exercised his cruelty against all at Rome. We glory in having such a man the leader in our punishment. For whoever knows him can understand that nothing was condemned by Nero unless it was something of great excellence.

5. Thus publicly announcing himself as the first among God’s chief enemies, he was led on to the slaughter of the apostles. It is, therefore, recorded that Paul was beheaded in Rome itself, and that Peter likewise was crucified under Nero. This account of Peter and Paul is substantiated by the fact that their names are preserved in the cemeteries of that place even to the present day.

6. It is confirmed likewise by Caius, a member of the Church, who arose under Zephyrinusbishop of Rome. He, in a published disputation with Proclus, the leader of the Phrygian heresy, speaks as follows concerning the places where the sacred corpses of the aforesaid apostles are laid:

7. But I can show the trophies of the apostles. For if you will go to the Vatican or to the Ostian way, you will find the trophies of those who laid the foundations of this church.

8. And that they both suffered martyrdom at the same time is stated by Dionysiusbishop of Corinth, in his epistle to the Romans, in the following words: You have thus by such an admonition bound together the planting of Peter and of Paul at Rome and Corinth. For both of them planted and likewise taught us in our Corinth. And they taught together in like manner in Italy, and suffered martyrdom at the same time. I have quoted these things in order that the truth of the history might be still more confirmed.

Chapter 26. The Jews, afflicted with Innumerable Evils, commenced the Last War Against the Romans.

1. Josephus again, after relating many things in connection with the calamity which came upon the whole Jewish nation, records, in addition to many other circumstances, that a great many of the most honorable among the Jews were scourged in Jerusalem itself and then crucified by Florus. It happened that he was procurator of Judea when the war began to be kindled, in the twelfth year of Nero.

2. Josephus says that at that time a terrible commotion was stirred up throughout all Syria in consequence of the revolt of the Jews, and that everywhere the latter were destroyed without mercy, like enemies, by the inhabitants of the cities, so that one could see cities filled with unburied corpses, and the dead bodies of the aged scattered about with the bodies of infants, and women without even a covering for their nakedness, and the whole province full of indescribable calamities, while the dread of those things that were threatened was greater than the sufferings themselves which they anywhere endured. Such is the account of Josephus; and such was the condition of the Jews at that time.

About this page

Source. Translated by Arthur Cushman McGiffert. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 1. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1890.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/250102.htm&gt;.

MAGISTER NOSTER: What I must learn to fulfill the potential of my human nature.

Erich Fromm, the author of the Art of Loving, introduced me to the concept of learning, one where love is not infused as something we get automatically from being born as a human. We must learn what love is over a lifetime of trial and error, plus applying norms and social constructs to test if what we reason is reasonable. Love becomes a process where we accept assumptions about what it means, what is authentic or unauthentic, and why, plus how all of these notions contribute to what it means to be fully human as nature intended.

What follows is my reasoning as to the four learning milestones I have had to learn using my life experiences and trials and errors (sin and grace). These four are called the Art of Living, the Art of Loving, The Art of Discerning Truth, and the Art of Contemplative Practice.

Up to, and including this past year, my focus has been moving from my false self to my true self, which I assumed was to love others as Christ loved me. While still true, I happened to uncover a way to move significantly deeper into my Lectio Divina meditations (Philippians 2:5). I called this vertical prayer because it is my quest to explore my prayer (Lectio Divine, Liturgy of the Hours, Eucharist, Penance, Rosary, Reading Holy Scripture, Reading Early Church Fathers, and Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, to name a few practices).

These four habits, which require work and prayer, are limitless in their integration with The Christ Principle. Here are some ideas I had as a result of allowing my boundaries to dissolve and asking the Holy Spirit to be my Magister Noster.

  1. The Art of Living — The Father is the Life of all existence. This life is physical living while I am on this earth. While on this earth, I have reason and the ability to make choices for a reason. These two qualities differentiate me from other living things, over which I am the conservator and guardian. I can choose a deeper level of existence, one which my humanity alone cannot propel me to become, although I am constantly compelled to seek it out. (St. Augustine says of this magnetic attraction, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.” Frances Thompson’s Hound of Heaven has given me profound thinking about the flow of intelligent progression in which I try to discover my purpose. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6hNu8U7NSc Before I discover the way, I must learn what it means to be fully human as nature intended. The Father gives me life to go to the next step in my awareness of the meaning in life that moves me to the next step in my evolution, the way. The Father teaches us to appreciate life as we are its custodians.
  2. The Art of the Way– The Son, Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, became one of us to show us THE WAY. (Philippians 2:5-12). Note here that the Magister Noster is God the Father, and God the Son, who provides reason and free choice so that we might become more human. The problem with this Art of the Way is that its sign is the cross, an indicator that, to move forward, I must die to everything I know about the world and embrace another set of assumptions that are the opposite of what this human reason and choice tell me is true. This is not normal nor normative to those who just see what is in front of them in life and have no ability to move deeper into reality to ask questions about the essence of what is, which is invisible to the eye. Humans have to learn the way to use Faith informed by reason to at least move forward, even if what they move towards is unclear or doesn’t make sense. This happens only because The Christ Principle has loved us first and said, “Follow me. Step in the footsteps that I made with my passion, death, and resurrection. Just love others as I have loved you.” The Son teaches us the authentic path to walk to understand the complexities of original sin. It is dying to self so that a new reality that is the opposite of the world is deeper right in front of us. Most people can’t look there because of their lack of Faith.
  3. The Art of Truth — This TRUTH is the Holy Spirit and exists outside our human experience. We can’t know God using God’s attributes, only those characteristics of human beings, imperfect but “looking through a foggy glass,” as St. Paul writes. The Scriptures have authorized writings that show us THE TRUTH. The gift of the Holy Spirit to those adopted by the Father and befriended by Christ is the energy to live this cross, the contradiction of being a pilgrim in a foreign land. If the Father is the WHY, and the Son is the WHAT, then the Holy Spirit is the HOW in each age. We have gifts to help us on our collective journey as Church and also our personal journey. They are the gifts of Confirmation by the Holy Spirit, the ability to make all things new in Penance and Reconciliation, food for the daily journey of Christ Himself in Eucharist, Holy Orders, Matrimony, and Unction or Healing at the end of our lives. The Holy Spirit teaches those who embrace their new life as adopted sons and daughters and walk the path designed for them as adopted sons and daughters and shown by the map (Scriptures) to do so in the context of my life as I live out each day using the life and the way to embrace objective truth. This is not the objective truth the world thinks it gives, but the abandonment of everything I thought I knew as being so much straw (St. Thomas Aquinas) to discover that this is only the beginning of what it is like being caught up into the third heaven (St. Paul in 2 Corinthians 12)
    • I* must boast; not that it is profitable, but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord.
    • 2 I know someone in Christ who, fourteen years ago (whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows), was caught up to the third heaven.
    • 3 And I know that this person (whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows)
    • 4 was caught up into Paradise and heard ineffable things, which no one may utter.a
    • 5 About this person* I will boast, but about myself, I will not boast, except about my weaknesses.
    • 6 Although if I should wish to boast, I would not be foolish, for I would be telling the truth. But I refrain so that no one may think more of me than what he sees in me or hears from me
    • 7 because of the abundance of the revelations. Therefore, that I might not become too elated,* a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated.b
    • 8 Three times* I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me,c
    • 9* but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses,* so that the power of Christ may dwell with me.d

4. The Art of Contemplative Practice– (Trappist) I inherit these three principles and have the opportunity through the Holy Spirit and the guidance of the Church to allow me to use my reason and free will daily to discern how I can uncover the mysteries of what it means to be fully human as my nature intended. I do this through Baptism and Confirmation. I renew this daily through Eucharist and Reconcilliation. I sustain it through Marriage and Holy Orders. I prepare to meet the three principles, three Magisters Noster and be happy in heaven. This fourth set of habits do not come automatically as a result of my being human. The whole point of The Christ Principle is to move from what is normal or natural in my humanity to something supernatural.

The energy to lift me up to that next level does not come from my human nature, but rather from me opening up my humanity to a higher power and energy. It is all about the power of the Holy Spirit and my willingness of be of such a mind as to be like Christ Jesus, as St. Paul writes. (Philippians 2:5-12). As a Lay Cistercian seeking God each day as God is, not as I wish that God to be, I try to live the Gospel message of a grain of wheat dying to self so that it might bear fruit. It is this sign of contradiction, the cross, of which the world scoffs at and ridicules and rejects that has become the cornerstone of my new life. There are several new approaches that I have now assumed into what I consider my Lay Cistercian spirituality.

  1. I find that, whereas I had a loose schedule of doing Cistercian practices (Liturgy of the Hours, Lectio Divina, Eucharist, Reading Sacred Scripture, and those wrote about contemplative charisms and their effects on them), now, my whole day is one prayer in the morning to evening, where I seek “to have in me the mind of Christ Jesus,” and just wait to see what life brings. It may be my illnesses related to my heart or my ongoing battle with fatigue (my wife calls it laziness). Now, I choose to place myself in the presence of Christ and ask the Holy Spirit to be present. I just wait. My waiting is a prayer of gratitude to the Father for the gifts of Faith, Hope, and Love that I have present but clearly have not earned or merited.
  2. I find that the five pillars of Cistercian spirituality as I have practiced as I know them (silence, solitude, prayer, work, and community) are one prayer and not separate stages of attainment. My work (being retired to sitting in a chair most of the day) is my prayer. The distinction that my humanity prompts me to make as a result of original sin seems to dissolve into just one prayer, work being prayer and prayer being work. The separation between the world of the flesh (my citizenship of the world) and the spirit (my citizenship of the spirit) becomes more and more the same.
  3. I don’t need to prove to anyone else that God is God or that I must prove God to anyone but myself. As I move forward toward the parousia, my mind still challenges those mysteries such as the Trinity, the Resurrection from the Dead, the Real Presence of the Eucharist, the Forgiveness of Sins, and my own failures in my life (not sins so much as just being a complete jerk to those with whom I have encountered). I have learned that all these failures and lost opportunities to love others as Christ loved me that have plagued my whole life are offerings to the Father to be lifted up through the blood of the Lamb and placed on the altar of sacrifice in atonement for my sins and failures.
  4. I find that my notion of who God is is, more and more, one who stands at the back of the Church on the last bench, with eyes lowered (custos oculi) and in silence and solitude, just uttering one, all-encompassing prayer, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me a sinner.” St. Benedict’s notion of humility, which begins with “Fear of the Lord,” has stuck in my consciousness. I can’t get past the notion that someone so beyond human nature wanted me to discover that what it means to be fully human according to my evolution is only attainable by becoming an adopted son (daughter) of the Father. All I have to do is learn from the Magister Noster that what is real is the opposite of what the world offers (good as it is).
  5. I find that I am beginning to understand what it means to “die to self so that I might rise to new life in Christ Jesus.” This dying is not a one-time event. Because I am immersed in the world and thus the effects of original sin, each day is a challenge, a struggle to take up my cross and follow Christ’s WAY. Each of us has our rocky road to walk. The constant is our goal, The Christ Principle. My Lay Cistercian journey is mine alone, but in union with all others who are Lay Cistercian and all believers.

Praise be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever. The God who is, who was, and who is to come at the end of the ages. Amen. –Cistercian doxology

NEW YEAR’S THOUGHTS FROM THE EDGE OF TIME

Here are some random thought fragments from the leftovers of my Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5). I must admit these are “way out there.” I just relate to what was given to me. The following responses are ones from my Lectio based on esoteric questions from http://www.quora.com

What is the definition of finding God within oneself?

You must look where no human ever wants to look. You must open the door of your heart to the ontic possibility of the manifest ability of what you find in that dark place. You must sit down in one of two chairs with the door locked from the inside. You must wait to be in the presence of Knowledge, Love, and Service. You must do it every day. I do this. I can’t describe what it might do for you but it has opened that closed door to a dimension that is the fulfillment of my personal and collective humanity. My heaven is now using THE WAY given to me in that upper room. My hell is now because I know THE WAY in relation to THE TRUTH of what is and choose THE LIFE. This awareness is found with the Rule of Opposites and makes no sense at all with mere reason, yet it is the ultimate test of my eighty-some years of observation while alive. I need not prove God within me to anyone but myself, it itself a daily struggle moving from resonance to dissonance, from mortality to immortality, from corruption to incorruptibility, from NO to YES, from a reality that is only available with my reason to one that is enhanced by pure energy, as I can be aware of its presence. None of this makes sense to the World, as good as it is. It is only by dying to all that I know about science, philosophy, psychology, what it means to love, what Faith might be in me, and what the destiny of my humanity might become, that I pop out on the other side of my evolution to discover WHY I am, WHAT I am, WHERE I am, and WHO I am, as my nature intended by the revolution of evolution. As a citizen of these eighty two+ years, I have been gifted with the citizenship of incorruptibility, only possible when a power greater than me lifts me up, not to divinity, but to the highest drop of my humanity in a cup full of energy. This only happened once to humans with Mary, the Mother of Jesus. I can only claim adoption by the overshadowing of this cosmic blanket that allows me to go where my reason alone could not venture, where Steven Hawking and Einstein could not look. It is the complexity of simplicity, the dynamics of the Word made flesh and emptying Himself because of Love that I wish to emulate, all the days of my life—-eternally. Philippians 2:5

How can I achieve enlightenment emotion for manifestation?

You cannot do so with your corporeal human evolution. A higher being has enlightened energy, pure knowledge, pure love, and pure service. We can’t know what that is because we do not possess the capability nor the capacity to process what we would receive from such a state of being. Only if that being willed my presence would I be able to do so and only with human and not transcendental properties. Fortunately, that happened and I have tapped into it. You can’t begin to imagine the profundity of the ontic possibility of the manifestibillty of that encounter, all consistent with my humanity. Of course, this is absolute gibberish to those who do not have the tools to parse the dimensions of non-existence reality.

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Michael Conrad

Worked at Professed Lay Cistercian14h

Is it possible to hate everything except God?

Michael Conrad

I don’t think your mom would like you if you did.

NEW YEAR’S REVOLUTIONS

I have one focus this year, to “have in me the mind of Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 2:5), which allows me to be in the presence of Christ and sit in the stillness of my heart and wait.

TEN THINGS I WOULD LIKE TO SEE HAPPEN WITHIN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

  1. Be faithful to Christ and the Mystical Body. (one, holy, catholic, apostolic)
  2. Be humble about who you are in the sign of God.
  3. Love others as Christ loves you.
  4. Recognize the responsibility you have assumed as an adopted son or daughter of the Father and seek God daily.
  5. Feel what it means to be an outcast from the world, a foreigner in the land of the secular, one who bears the mark of our redemption on their souls (the cross).
  6. Daily, convert your life to be more like Christ and less like the secular world. (existence without hope)
  7. With all your heart, mind, and soul, go into that Temple of the Holy Spirit that you are, and sit in silence and solitude before the Ark of the Covenant.
  8. Long to stand sentinel before the Blessed Sacrament in your parish and ask God to be merciful on you as a sinner.
  9. Pray for souls in Purgatory that they may be loosed from their sins.
  10. Join in collective prayer in the parish, the diocese, and the church universal.

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THE INCARNATION EVENT: THREE STRINGS THAT SHEPHERD NATURE TOWARDS IT DESTINY

III. THE CORRUPTIBILITY OF CHOICE AND MARTYRDOM OF THE ORDINARY— The effects of Original Sin on three defining behaviors of human nature: sexual urges, the urges of control, and the urges of power. The wages of sin.

I hypothesize that there is only one reality, but it contains three distinct characteristics that I call universes (physical reality, mental reality, and spiritual reality.) These strands or strings stretch from the beginning of what is to the end of it and don’t exist in temporal time. These seven (or more) strings interact with reality as it intelligently progresses through time.

Like Quantum Theory (but not like it), are there invisible forces at work that shape matter, energy, time, and space toward one fulfillment? Are there not only links between universes that have no beginning nor end but also links between human nature to divine nature? Such threads would not be strings at all but rather possess characteristics that emanate from God’s DNA, the invisible fingerprints on all matter, time, energy, and life anywhere it exists. It would guide us harmonically and with resonance. They are:

• Corruptibility and Incorruptibility

• Resonance and Dissonance

• Light and Darkness

• The Power of YES and NO  

• Good and Evil

• Visible and Invisible Reality

• Physical, Mental, and Spiritual Energy

These seven strings channel God’s DNA, cosmic harmonics that guide time through its predestined pathway. We can hear the sounds if we “listen with the ear of the heart.” It is the rhythm of what we consider to be reality.

These strings exist beyond time to shepherd time, the succession of NOW realities, toward the end of their intelligent progression. They are the banks of a river, to use a human analogy, within which humans can achieve their destiny to be fully human as both individuals and as a species. The physical universe must stay within the boundaries of matter, time, energy, and evolution as an unchanged reality using natural laws. In the mental universe, humans discover these laws of reality within the boundaries of not only nature but also of reason and free choice. The intelligent progression to the next level of evolution is the spiritual universe, existing in the physical universe, using the languages of science, philosophy, logic, and reason to address the reality that is both physical and spiritual or visible and invisible.

When a river spreads outside of its banks, it is no longer called a river but a flood. In the spiritual universe, this happens when I only see reality as being what I want. The spiritual life calls for the martyrdom of the ordinary, not the shedding of blood for what I believe, but a real death to self (I offer the gift of my free choice to the Father that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven). As an individual, I am the only one who can die to myself. On the surface, it does not seem logical or even human to give up what the world says makes me fulfilled as a human. This sign of contradiction comes with me choosing to ratify the gift of adoption as a son or daughter of the Father and to live as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven while simultaneously living out my life until death on earth. The Christ Principle is the template, the key, the equation that allows me as a corruptible human to become incorruptible but only witReflections on the Mathematics and Physics of Being. h Christ.

IV, THE EFFECTS OF CORRUPTIBILITY ON MY CONVERSIO MORAE: Learning to use horizontal and vertical contemplative practice to prepare for incorrupof Being. I must work in this physical and mental universe tieve what the purposaccording to God andut also to sustain it there each day. If I don’t trim my grass, it will automatically become overgrown with weeds (an analogy for original sin). Daily, I must struggle against the condition of original sin. I ,do that with help from God who enabled me to be an adopted son (daughter) of the Father, with Christ in the Real Presence in the Church, and through the energy of the Holy Spirit.

I have citizenship in two worlds if I want to become the fullest human I can be. My role model is Mary, overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, the most fulfillment her humanity could hold. I must do it the hard way and toil each day to keep the Lord of the world (Satan) from seducing my citizenship in heaven to thinking I should just be a human with him (Satan) as my Lord. At the same time, I am corruptible (have a beginning and end, plus moral corruption from my false self in the world to that of my true self as an adopted son or daughter of the Father.) but am about incorruptible because of my Baptism and adoption. Here is the tension and the true battle for what is genuinely human.

V. REFLECTIONS ON THE INCORRUPTIBILITY OF MY SPIRIT AS I USE THE CHRIST PRINCIPLE TO ANSWER THE SIX QUESTIONS OF THE DIVINE EQUATION. Everything that is has a purpose for existence, a natural one, one that is because of reason and the freedom to choose our own destiny (for good or bad), and the conclusion of our intelligent progression (evolution) as a species, being gifted with the ability to be incorruptible so that we can assume the purpose of our humanity as nature intended (Pre-Fall). Our human nature by itself does not have the power to lift us up to that next level of evolution. Christ came to save us from being stranded on this island in the midst of what seems like a sea of radiation hostile to our continuing existence. He did that by paying the ransom for many as demanded by the Original Sin of Adam and Eve. Philippians 2: 5-12 is the most eloquent description I know about what it feels like to be God and abandoning that because of love for humans. Christ died to allow us to retake our inheritance, now called adoption by the Father as heirs of the kingdom of heaven.

The Divine Equation is my quest to continue to find the depth of meaning in six questions that allow we to be fully human. Although I am far from reaching the answers, my Lay Cistercian promises I made in my lifetime profession of commitment to Christ as a contemplative Cistercian in the world is my new bond with what I know to be the questions and answers to these six questions, once which I confront daily as I seek to be in God’s presence and just wait for what comes. They are:

  • What is the purpose of life?
  • What is the purpose of my life within that purpose?
  • What does reality look like?
  • How does it all fit together?
  • How can I love fiercely?
  • You know you are going to die; now what?

Although I call this The Divine Equation, it does not, nor can it prove, God’s existence in my life. What I can do is use my unique life experiences (science, philosophy, psychology, logic, reason, and freedom to choose) to discern the presence of God and then sit on a park bench in the dead of winter and wait for my humanity to calm down enough that I can focus on Christ, while invoking the power of the Holy Spirit. Essentially I just put myself in the presence of God as Christ taught and then wait. I need the strength or energy from the Holy Spirit to keep my raucous humanity tamed enough for me to listen “with the ear of the heart,” as St. Benedict teaches.

Christ has chosen me to be baptized and receive adoption. I have chosen Christ in humility (realizing that humility begins with emptying myself as Jesus did and giving my freedom to choose as the recognition that God is God and I am not God but one who tries to love others as Christ loved us. It is discovering the Divine Equation’s simplicity within humanity’s complexity.

The more I place myself in the Real Presence of Christ, the more I fulfill what it means for me to be human. In this sense, I am an agnostic atheist but redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. I am a single, solitary orange tree planted in the soil of the resurrection that leads to incorruptibility. I am a sinful and sorrowful human who has been allowed to move from my false self to my true self in Christ Jesus daily. I am that humbled and penitent tax collector sitting on the back bench of the church, daring not to raise his (her) eyes to heaven, and in my heart continuing to repeat, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy of me, a sinner.”

This is the Incarnation moment, the Resurrection event, and the daily Pentecost as I confront each day “have in me the mind of Christ Jesus.” To this, say to God, “thank you,” through, with, and in Christ Jesus, to the glory of the Father, with the power of the Holy Spirit.

I have few words that can express the supreme joy that permeates my waiting for Christ. I echo the words of the Psalmist in my heart:

aOf David.

A

I

The LORD is my light and my salvation;

whom should I fear?

The LORD is my life’s refuge;

of whom should I be afraid?

2When evildoers come at me

to devour my flesh,*b

These my enemies and foes

themselves stumble and fall.

3Though an army encamp against me,

my heart does not fear;

Though war be waged against me,

even then do I trust.

II

4 One thing I ask of the LORD;

this I seek:

To dwell in the LORD’s house

all the days of my life,

To gaze on the LORD’s beauty,

to visit his temple.c

5 For God will hide me in his shelter

in time of trouble,d

He will conceal me in the cover of his tent;

and set me high upon a rock.

6Even now my head is held high

above my enemies on every side!

I will offer in his tent

sacrifices with shouts of joy;

I will sing and chant praise to the LORD.

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/psalms/27

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WAITING ON THE CUSP OF CHRISTMAS

Here are some thoughts from Sirach to light the tree of your life.

Responsibilities to Parents*

1Children, listen to me, your father;

act accordingly, that you may be safe.

2For the Lord sets a father in honor over his children

and confirms a mother’s authority over her sons.

3Those who honor their father atone for sins;

4they store up riches who respect their mother.

5Those who honor their father will have joy in their own children,

and when they pray they are heard.

6Those who respect their father will live a long life;

those who obey the Lord honor their mother.

7Those who fear the Lord honor their father,

and serve their parents as masters.

8In word and deed honor your father,

that all blessings may come to you.a

9 A father’s blessing gives a person firm roots,

but a mother’s curse uproots the growing plant.b

10 Do not glory in your father’s disgrace,

for that is no glory to you!

1 1A father’s glory is glory also for oneself;

they multiply sin who demean their mother.c

12 My son, be steadfast in honoring your father;

do not grieve him as long as he lives.d

13 Even if his mind fails, be considerate of him;

do not revile him because you are in your prime.

14Kindness to a father will not be forgotten;

it will serve as a sin offering—it will take lasting root.

15 In time of trouble it will be recalled to your advantage,

like warmth upon frost it will melt away your sins.

16 Those who neglect their father are like blasphemers;

those who provoke their mother are accursed by their Creator.e

Humility*

17 My son, conduct your affairs with humility,

and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts.

18 Humble yourself the more, the greater you are,

and you will find mercy in the sight of God. f

20 For great is the power of the Lord;

by the humble he is glorified.

21What is too sublime for you, do not seek;

do not reach into things that are hidden from you.g

22What is committed to you, pay heed to;

what is hidden is not your concern.

23In matters that are beyond you do not meddle,

when you have been shown more than you can understand.

24Indeed, many are the conceits of human beings;

evil imaginations lead them astray.

Docility*

25Without the pupil of the eye, light is missing;

without knowledge, wisdom is missing.

26A stubborn heart will fare badly in the end;

those who love danger will perish in it.

27A stubborn heart will have many a hurt;

adding sin to sin is madness.

28When the proud are afflicted, there is no cure;

for they are offshoots of an evil plant.h

29The mind of the wise appreciates proverbs,

and the ear that listens to wisdom rejoices.

Alms for the Poor

30 As water quenches a flaming fire,

so almsgiving atones for sins.i

31The kindness people have done crosses their paths later on;

should they stumble, they will find support.

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FRAGMENTS FROM MY LECTIO DIVINA: Did you know this about Mary?

Here are some fragmented thoughts about Mary that I would like to share.

  1. Mary is not divine, so she could never be God.
  2. Mary does not have a divine nature, so she could never be God, but she gave birth to Jesus, who has both a divine and human nature.
  3. Mary does not have a divine nature, so she could never be God, but she gave birth to Jesus, who has both a divine and human nature. She is the birth mother to Jesus, so we call her The Mother of God, but she is not God’s birth mother.
  4. Mary does not have a divine nature, so she could never be God, but she gave birth to Jesus, who has both a divine and human nature. She is the birth mother to Jesus, so we call her The Mother of God, but she is not God’s birth mother. Mary was the closes person to Jesus because she gave Him his heart after being overshadowed by the Holy Spirit. Mary is the first disciple of Jesus and the first believer in the Body of Christ.
  5. Mary does not have a divine nature, so she could never be God, but she gave birth to Jesus, who has both a divine and human nature. She is the birth mother to Jesus, so we call her The Mother of God, but she is not God’s birth mother. Mary was the closes person to Jesus because she gave Him his heart after being overshadowed by the Holy Spirit. Mary is the first disciple of Jesus and the first believer in the Body of Christ. Mary teaches us to pray to her Son, telling us, “Do what he tells you.” She kept all his teachings in her heart which she shared with us if we ask, seek, and knock.
  6. Mary does not have a divine nature, so she could never be God, but she gave birth to Jesus, who has both a divine and human nature. She is the birth mother to Jesus, so we call her The Mother of God, but she is not God’s birth mother. Mary was the closes person to Jesus because she gave Him his heart after being overshadowed by the Holy Spirit. Mary is the first disciple of Jesus and the first believer in the Body of Christ. Mary teaches us to pray to her Son, telling us “Do what he tells you.” She kept all his teachings in her heart which she shared with us if we ask, seek, and knock. Mary, as are all the saints on earth and in heaven, the Saints proclaimed by the Body of Christ, and those awaiting purification or their second chance is not God. We don’t ask Mary for mercy, the forgiveness of sins, or to mediate with the Father, as we do with Christ and the Holy Spirit.
  7. Mary does not have a divine nature, so she could never be God, but she gave birth to Jesus, who has both a divine and human nature. She is the birth mother to Jesus, so we call her The Mother of God, but she is not God’s birth mother. Mary was the closes person to Jesus because she gave Him his heart after being overshadowed by the Holy Spirit. Mary is the first disciple of Jesus and the first believer in the Body of Christ. Mary teaches us to pray to her Son, telling us “Do what he tells you.” She kept all his teachings in her heart which she shared with us if we ask, seek, and knock. Mary, as are all the saints on earth and in heaven, the Saints proclaimed by the Body of Christ, and those awaiting purification or their second chance is not God. We don’t ask Mary for mercy, the forgiveness of sins, or to mediate with the Father, as we do with Christ and the Holy Spirit. We ask Mary and the saints for intercession with us before the Throne of the Lamb and to join our prayers to the praise and glory of the Father through, with, and in Jesus Christ, with the power of the Holy Spirit.
  8. Mary does not have a divine nature, so she could never be God, but she gave birth to Jesus, who has both a divine and human nature. She is the birth mother to Jesus, so we call her The Mother of God, but she is not God’s birth mother. Mary was the closes person to Jesus because she gave Him his heart after being overshadowed by the Holy Spirit. Mary is the first disciple of Jesus and the first believer in the Body of Christ. Mary teaches us to pray to her Son, telling us, “Do what he tells you.” She kept all his teachings in her heart which she shared with us if we ask, seek, and knock. Mary, as are all the saints on earth and in heaven, the Saints proclaimed by the Body of Christ, and those awaiting purification or their second chance is not God. We don’t ask Mary for mercy, the forgiveness of sins, or to mediate with the Father, as we do with Christ and the Holy Spirit. We ask Mary and the saints for intercession with us before the Throne of the Lamb and to join our prayers to the praise and glory of the Father through, with, and in Jesus Christ, with the power of the Holy Spirit. Because of Christ and the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, Mary was conceived without sin. Her response to this supreme gift to humanity is the Magnificat, a testimony to the greatness of God and the unworthiness of Mary and, thus, humanity to be Christ-bearers with the sign of the cross in their hearts. It was the Word who said YES to the creation of LIFE, but it was Mary, not Jesus, who said YES to counter the NO of Adam and Eve and allow those who follow to have a WAY to get to heaven as adopted sons and daughters of the Father.
  9. Mary does not have a divine nature, so she could never be God, but she gave birth to Jesus, who has both a divine and human nature. She is the birth mother to Jesus, so we call her The Mother of God, but she is not God’s birth mother. Mary was the closes person to Jesus because she gave Him his heart after being overshadowed by the Holy Spirit. Mary is the first disciple of Jesus and the first believer in the Body of Christ. Mary teaches us to pray to her Son, telling us, “Do what he tells you.” She kept all his teachings in her heart which she shared with us if we ask, seek, and knock. Mary, as are all the saints on earth and in heaven, the Saints proclaimed by the Body of Christ, and those awaiting purification or their second chance is not God. We don’t ask Mary for mercy, the forgiveness of sins, or to mediate with the Father, as we do with Christ and the Holy Spirit. We ask Mary and the saints for intercession with us before the Throne of the Lamb and to join our prayers to the praise and glory of the Father through, with, and in Jesus Christ, with the power of the Holy Spirit. Because of Christ and the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, Mary was conceived without sin. Her response to this supreme gift to humanity is the Magnificat, a testimony to the greatness of God and the unworthiness of Mary and, thus, humanity to be Christ-bearers with the sign of the cross in their hearts. It was the Word who said YES to the creation of LIFE, but it was Mary, not Jesus, who said YES to counter the NO of Adam and Eve and allow those who follow to have a WAY to get to heaven as adopted sons and daughters of the Father. Mary said YES to the Holy Spirit, who filled her to the brim of her humanity to become the prototype of what it means to be fully human, and thus is the mediatrix of TRUTH through the living Body of Christ, The Church.
  10. Mary does not have a divine nature, so she could never be God, but she gave birth to Jesus, who has both a divine and human nature. She is the birth mother to Jesus, so we call her The Mother of God, but she is not God’s birth mother. Mary was the closes person to Jesus because she gave Him his heart after being overshadowed by the Holy Spirit. Mary is the first disciple of Jesus and the first believer in the Body of Christ. Mary teaches us to pray to her Son, telling us “Do what he tells you.” She kept all his teachings in her heart which she shared with us if we ask, we seek, and we knock. Mary, as are all the saints on earth and in heaven, the Saints proclaimed by the Body of Christ, and those awaiting purification or their second chance is not God. We don’t ask Mary for mercy, the forgiveness of sins, or to mediate with the Father, as we do with Christ and the Holy Spirit. We ask Mary and the saints for intercession with us before the Throne of the Lamb and to join our prayers to the praise and glory of the Father through, with, and in Jesus Christ, with the power of the Holy Spirit. Because of Christ and the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, Mary was conceived without sin. Her response to this supreme gift to humanity is the Magnificat, a testimony to the greatness of God and the unworthiness of Mary and, thus, humanity to be Christ-bearers with the sign of the cross in their hearts. It was the Word who said YES to the creation of LIFE, but it was Mary, not Jesus, who said YES to counter the NO of Adam and Eve and allow those who follow to have a WAY to get to heaven as adopted sons and daughters of the Father. Mary said YES to the Holy Spirit, who filled her to the brim of her humanity to become the prototype of what it means to be fully human, and thus is, along with Christ, a mediatrix of TRUTH through the living Body of Christ, The Church. Mary is real, awaiting us with her Son in Heaven to fulfill our intelligent progression as intended by that first YES from the Father, Creator of Heaven and Earth. No one goes to the Father except through Christ Jesus. It is our honor to ask for humanity’s best creation to accompany us to sit at the feet of Christ in Heaven and partake of what God intended for us in the Garden of Eden. All the Saints realized this, and we have the opportunity to take as our example one who is perfect as much as a human being can be only with Christ as her center.

Praise be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever. The God who is, who was, and who is to come at the end of the ages. -Cistercian doxology

Holy, Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

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CUSTOS OCULI: The windows to the kingdom of heaven

I can remember watching the monks at St. Meinrad while they filed in for Conventional Mass on Sunday. They had eyes down in the process in and out of the Archabbey Church and also during the Eucharist.

I asked my classmate, also a monk, why they had eyes down. He said it was to remind them of who they are in the sight of God.

In this Lectio Divina today, I am reminded of how much the custody of the eyes is part of my Lay Cistercian prayer life. We are urged to “listen with the ear of the heart,” but also to keep our wandering eyes in check so that we only focus on Christ in any of our prayers.

Here are fragments of leftover Lectio Divine in seven baskets, just as Christ did when he fed the multitude.

  • Custody of the eyes is the purposeful focus of the mind and heart on Christ by not raising our gaze up to the heavens, but to the earth.
  • Custody of the eyes reminds me that I am dust and into dust, I shall return.
  • Mercy and custody of the eyes are brother and sister.

Lk 18:9-14

Jesus addressed this parable
to those who were convinced of their own righteousness
and despised everyone else.
“Two people went up to the temple area to pray;
one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.
The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself,
‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity —
greedy, dishonest, adulterous — or even like this tax collector.
I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’
But the tax collector stood off at a distance
and would not even raise his eyes to heaven
but beat his breast and prayed,
‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’
I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former;
for whoever exalts himself will be humbled,
and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

  • I try to remember custody of the eyes when I am at Eucharist or in Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.
  • Custody of the eyes is a habit to be mastered over a lifetime.

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THE CHRIST PRINCIPLE: THE KEY TO UNLOCKING THE MYSTERY OF WHAT IT MEANS TO BE FULLY WHAT OUR NATURE INTENDED.

The problem with trying to solve any equation is knowing the formula. Granted that the Divine Equation’s six postulates have been answered correctly, there is still one thing left to do. You must use the correct key, the only one that fits into this lock, and turn it, to open the door to the fullness of what it means to be human and allow you entrance into your destiny. Once inside, several languages help to grow deeper into the inexhaustible knowledge of how all reality fits together and what it means to be what nature intended us to be. St. Thomas Aquinas states that “Knowledge precedes love.”

THE KEYS TO THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN

It occurred to me that, given that I answered all six postulates of The Divine Equation correctly, there was still another glaring problem, one that is archetypal in its implications for what it means to be fully human. What is the key that allowed me to interpret the information correctly? By key, I don’t just mean a physical key like the one I use to unlock my house, although that analogy is part of my description. I have in mind a key more like the Enigma machine of WWII fame. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0x8yfrsIoko

In my intellectual probing of reality, I have been through many Lectio Divina meditations on this subject of free choice. Most of the time, I have opened up more questions than answers. I began to realize that this feeling of incompleteness is an answer, but one, like the Enigma machine, needs deciphering. What language can I use to ask the correct questions and get the correct and authentic answers that allow me to gain more insight into what it means to be fully human, as our nature intended? Well, it all comes down to this key. Like the Enigma analogy, neither the experience of how to walk this way (path) nor what is true comes with being born as a human in the context of Original Sin. Like Erich Fromm’s premise in his book, The Art of Loving, we don’t automatically receive infused knowledge on how to love fiercely. All knowledge humans use is intelligent progression; it is acquired, not infused. An intended or unintended consequence of Original Sin is that humans must work for our bread (Genesis 2-3). That also applies to knowledge, love, and, most significantly, what it means to wake up on this rocky ball of gases and realize that you can ask the questions in The Divine Equation and be sure that your answers are authentic.

  • What is the purpose of life?
  • What is my purpose within that purpose of life?
  • What does reality look like?
  • How does it all fit together?
  • How do I love fiercely?
  • I know I am going to die; now what?

Now comes the most challenging question of all, one that gives The Divine Equation legitimacy, one that allows me to ask and answer questions with one immutable answer beyond my limited human abilities and one that is true. These answers do not come from humanity but from pure energy, pure knowledge, pure love, and pure service, yet, once applied, they open up a reality that we could not possibly achieve with reason and our free will alone. This is not the freedom to choose what we want, but rather knowing what to choose and how to do it, moving into a realm where the truth will make me accessible. What is the correct key that, if applied to these six postulates, allows me to approach (not solve) this paradox of what it means to be human? Truth is one because there is only one truth. I had not been aware of the implications that what I choose as answers to The Divine Equation must have resonance and not dissonance with the totality of all that is. Of all the choices of all the people who ever lived, I have seventy or eight years to get it right, if I am lucky. It is not enough to know the questions of The Divine Equation. I must answer what it means to be fully human correctly. Where do I find the truth?

KEYS I EXPLORED TO UNLOCK THE DIVINE EQUATION

SCIENCE AS A KEY — When looking for one key that unlocked the secrets of what it means to be human, I first turned to the scientific approach to life. I still use it because it makes sense to look for the answers to physical reality with the tools of mathematics, chemistry, physics, medicine, artificial intelligence, and research into cures for cancer and other physical ailments that plague humanity. The approach is that we know what we can observe and prove with the language of Science. There are applied Science and theoretical Science, for example, doing physics to find new ways to expand our knowledge of this discipline. An essential part of how I look at reality as a Lay Cistercian comes from the scientists who pose questions about humanity based on their recent discoveries. It means I am challenged to continually seek a deeper reality based on my accumulated knowledge. I am not a trained chemist or astrobiologist, but I know enough that what I know needs more to satisfy my curiosity. I love Science because it asks the interrogatives (Who? What? Why? and Why Not?, Where?), just to name a few. The essence of science is the process of wondering, what if?

The Achilles Heel of Science

All these keys have an Achilles Heel, either a blindspot or assumptions you hold that will not allow you to advance. What’s the story of his ‘Achilles heel’?

“Thetis gives birth to Achilles who, unlike her, is mortal. She attempts to make the baby Achilles immortal, by dipping him in the River Styx (the river that runs through the underworld), while holding him by his heel. The one part of his body left untouched by the waters becomes his only point of weakness, hence the phrase ‘Achilles heel’.”

https://blog.britishmuseum.org/who-was-achilles/

I tried the key of Science to unlock The Divine Equation, but it fit but would not open the door to knowledge. When I applied Science to answer the questions of the Divine Equation, I found that this key is excellent at describing what is going on in the physical universe using the mental universe. The Achilles heel of Science in my search was twofold: It is a tool of the mind to seek reality with what it can observe and proven. I like that approach. The problem is Science does not include reality; it cannot see, such as what is invisible. Secondly, it does not admit that such a reality as the spiritual universe exists, so they don’t seek to include it in its definition of reality.

LEARNING POINTS

  • Science is an accurate and valuable tool for determining what is and how it interacts with its environment.
  • The scientific community looks at what is real in two universes, not three, i.e., the physical and mental universes, but cannot look at what is invisible because it cannot be measured with the concepts and tools of Science, so it must not exist.
  • Science is a good way, perhaps the only way, to seek what is real. The problem for me is that what is real is more than the scope of inquiry from Science. Spirituality is the place Stephen Hawking could not look, not because he was intelligent enough, but because it didn’t exist for him, and so he just missed it.
  • Science is a recent advancement in human improvement. Not everyone knows the language. Science is not the only language to discover what it means to be human, but it is undoubtedly one of the most important. Science is one key to unlocking the mysteries of the physical universe.
  • This is part of why I postulate that there are three separate universes but only one reality. Each universe is a paradigm shift without logical explanation or scientific verification, yet with all the consequences that come from being. Still, it is fundamental to those who know where and how to use the measurements and tools to discover it. Science is a language, only recently acquired, that does not look at the totality of all. When I try to approach The Divine Equation, Science is a key that cannot provide me with the ability to decipher its meaning. Even though it is not the key, there is no master key without it.

RECAP

I have what I consider the answers to the six postulates of The Divine Equation. Who tells me what is a good or bad answer? Who is to tell me what is correct and not authentic and why? I need a key or an authority against which I can measure my answer to see if it is correct. Again. Science as a way of answering The Divine Equation is just one such key, but, as I have pointed out, it is not so much wrong as incomplete. All humans can choose what they want to be at their center, but not all centers will make us accessible and fulfill the destiny of nature intended for us. It depends on what we choose to use as a key to interpreting reality to determine whether something is moral.

HUMAN REASONING AND FREE CHOICE AS A KEY — If Science uses the disciplines of mathematics, chemistry, physics, medicine, psychology, and biology, to look at the physical and mental universes to discover what makes us up and to explain the environment in which we find ourselves, then everything else (logic, literature, poetry, religion, etc…) is the second way to look at The Divine Equation. We seek the answers using this second key based on the physical and mental universes. No God exists, no supreme being, just what we accumulate about life from the trials and errors of the human mind over the centuries. Science and human reasoning are not the keys, but there is no key without them

Then, as a paradigm shift in time and space happens; I am at whatever time that I am alive. I look at what humanity left me to figure out the purpose of life and what my purpose is. I get to choose what I want as my cent r, good or bad. Now comes a third filter to add complexity to my quest for meaning–what does reality look like. Suppose I look at the amalgam of ideas from Aristotle through Jesus and continue to be a modern apologist for humanism and nationalism. In that case, I get my ideas from those around me and forge two basic ways to look at reality (one, the physical and mental universes that St. Paul termed the World, and the second one three universes that add spirituality to the first two). What does all of this mean, or, more correctly, how does it all fit together? Here, I can insert one of my keys to see what is behind my chosen door. It sounds like the game show “Let’s Make a Deal,” starring the late Monty Hall. Strangely, it is a game show. We make a choice but must live with the choice and its implications. While living, we can change curtains if we don’t like the new ones we selected. We must also live with what we have chosen unless we change it.

This second key (you may know of more) is about me and the accumulated situations, choices, and experiences that are unique to this body. I make choices, what is good for me or what I think is good for me that will actually hurt me with the sum of who I am. I am the key who must open the lock of The Divine Equation. If you notice, with this approach, your lock is not my lock, nor are your choices my choices. Only one key can open the door of purpose and, eventually, what it means to be fully human. That might not make sense on the surface but consider this. If the TRUTH is one, then if you or I live our lives measuring our choices against that TRUTH, it is the WAY for both of us. Even though our LIFE might be totally different, as long as our center is one, then the products of TRUTH will be the same, even though the way we achieved it was different.

There is one (or more) problem; I don’t possess the ongoing energy to be able to sustain my key to turn it in the appropriate lock. Even if I want to be able to discover the purpose of life, I lack the energy to make choices that will enable me to be fully human. I can’t turn that lock with my humanity alone. Original Sin seems to have revealed its poison pill again. Only humans can turn the lock of their free choice yet, they lack the power to do so. One reason that comes to my mind is that behind that door we try to unlock contains our destiny in another spiritual universe. Humans can’t unlock the Divine Nature, yet we are called to be adopted sons, daughters, and heirs t God’s kingdom. If I am the key, which I am, then has God played a cruel joke on me, a type of divine bate-and-switch that toys with my emotions and longings? If there is no resurrection, then life is just a cruel fantasy in which I am the main character.

There is only one answer to this seeming conundrum. Your destiny as a human being exists behind door number ONE. I am the key to unlock what is behind that door, but I don’t have the energy to fit my key in the lock and turn it. It is above my pay grade. ll is not lost. God hears the cry of the poor and feels our hurt. God sends Himself, His Son, to become Sin so that everyone (everyone) has help opening that door. Jesus is the energy of the Father that helps each one of us to open the door of our hearts to become fully human, but there is a catch. I must give back to God the one thing that defines me as a human being, more than the animals, capable of love, freely as a gift back to God. Thy will be done, thy will be done, on earth, as it is in the heavens.” I do this by following the footsteps of Christ, who said, “Learn of me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will have rest for your souls.”

The Gentle Mastery of Christ.

28* “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,* and I will give you rest.

29* p Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.

30For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/matthew/11

God’s gift back for you dying to yourself to become more like Christ and less like you is the adoption as a son or daughter. Your gift to God echoes Mary’s, “Let it be done to me according to Your Word ” Luke 1:46-55. These full quotes allow you to pause, think, pray, and say “Thank You.”

The Canticle of Mary.

46v And Mary said:*

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;w

47my spirit rejoices in God my savior.x

48For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness;

behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.y

49The Mighty One has done great things for me,

and holy is his name.z

50His mercy is from age to age

to those who fear him.a

51He has shown might with his arm,

dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.b

52He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones

but lifted up the lowly.c

53The hungry he has filled with good things;

the rich he has sent away empty.d

54He has helped Israel his servant,

remembering his mercy,e

55according to his promise to our fathers,

to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”f

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/luke/1

LEARNING POINTS

  • The more sophisticated humans become, the more they want to examine how they find themselves with seventy or eighty years on this earth.
  • Human reasoning alone is not able to comprehend the concept of God.
  • There is more to life than just existing and passing the time until you die.
  • Humans moved from animality to rationality while retaining all the emotions, traits, most of the DNA, and urges for power, procreation, dominance, and a natural affinity more closely aligned to animal past than spiritual future.
  • Humans are naturally inclined to act like animals, but those with reason and freedom can choose what is good for them.
  • In the Old Testament, God used Israel as a pilot program to insert a way to become more and more like what nature intended. In the New Testament, Jesus became one of us because we could not process what it means to be what our nature intended. Jesus had to redo Genesis once more but this time, getting it right. The caveat is we still live in the world with our inclinations to do what is easy for us, whereas Christ’s lesson is to get rid of those false inclinations by dying to what seems like our normal self but is, in reality, lacking the power to be fully human.
  • Humans are not evil in their nature but rather prone to choose what is easy and convenient above what is right. God tells us and Christ shows us the way to be fully human, how to use what is true to become adopted sons and daughters of the Father, and how to live a life that will lead us to be fully human.

RECAP So far, I have uncovered two languages that have the potential to unlock The Divine Equation, the set of proposals that, if opened correctly, tell us what it means to be fully human and to claim the inheritance our nature intends.

THE THIRD KEY: The Christ Principle

This third key is one where I must abandon everything I know to this point to e energize the key. I must still turn the key in the lock. What could this possibly mean? I give my limited power to turn the lock in my center to Jesus in return for His divine power to do what I could never do for myself. As a result of that dying to self, I am now becoming more and more human as I complete whatever time and tasks God has for me. It is only when I give away the two seemingly most important things to me, knowledge of good or evil and the free choice to make my humanity fulfilled, that I can have the power to turn the key in the lock of The Divine Equation.

The Christ Principle is the only way, the one truth, and the only life I will ever need as the Father’s adopted son (daughter). It is also the only way I can possibly have enough energy to turn the key in this lock of tomorrow.

The late Rev. Dr. Billy Graham gave me the spark that enlightened my darkness about how much God loved me. Here I am talking just about me, not Church, not Lay Cistercians, nor any organized group. I am the only person in the entire existence of the physical, mental and spiritual universes that lives in my space and my time. There are no two of us, but each human ever born has that envelope or bubble of time (seventy or eighty years, if we are strong), to discover life and become w at we discover. My awareness from the Holy Spirit snuck in the idea that all of this was so that I could say YES to the invitation to become a son (daughter) of the Father. This is so from before time had its first “tick”. There is no “2” in Heaven. The purpose of my life is to discover why I am here and to fulfill my destiny as a human being. God’s love is so great that, if I was the only person who ever existed, this would be my destiny.

Deep Dive into the Christ Principle

  • The Christ Principle is contained within what we know as Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior. It contains two natures, divine and human.
  • The Christ Principle is a person, not an idea or a concept.
  • We can only know about divine nature through human language es and history. There is only one way, one truth, and one life, but each human being has the freedom to choose whatever god they want, or, the default, themselves.
  • Christ became human to give us the knowledge of what is true and to show us how to fulfill our human destiny. Still, there is the Tower of Bable ranging from no god to what is right before our eyes, but we don’t use the proper key to unlock reality.
  • The Christ Principle is the new paradigm of humanity that, using a contradictory sign, gives meaning to a solution to the Divine Equation that human reasoning alone is not capable of mastering.
  • The Christ Principle is the fulfillment of the Divine Equation and offers humans the solution to what it means to be fully human. This is characterized in Deuteronomy 6:5 and Matthew 22:38. “You shall love the Lord God with your whole heart, your whole mind, and your whole self (and your neighbor as yourself).”
  • Only the Christ Principle provides a way to love with your whole heart, how to know the truth about what is good and what is evil, and the life of dying to self so that you can rise above your human nature to discover a deeper level of existence, the kingdom of Heaven, our destiny.
  • Everything about The Christ Principle doesn’t make sense to our human reason and our ability to choose what is good for us. Christ shows us the key to fit into the lock of The Divine Equation, but each of us must turn it alone. This is the belief that Jesus is the Messiah, Son of God, and Savior.

LAY CISTERCIAN PRACTICES AND CHARISMS

Among the many ways to practice sustaining lo e until we die. This is a way that I die to myself to rise each day to have the mind of Christ Jesus in me. (Philippians 2:5).

This repetition of seeking God each day becomes an occasion to show how I must die for the convenience and comfort of doing what makes my physical body happy, transforming this happiness into what will ultimately make me more human and less animal.

With Baptism comes responsibility as an adopted son (daughter) of the Father. I am a pilgrim in a foreign land, one trapped in the World as a citizen but destined to seek what it means to be fully human (the kingdom of heaven).

Lectio Divina is simply me making room for the Holy Spirit to sit with Christ on a park bench in the dead of winter and wait.

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MY ASSUMPTIONS AS A LAY CISTERCIAN AS I COMMENT ABOUT SPIRITUAL REALITY

Assumptions are like icebergs; what you see, hear, taste, touch, and feel and thus know about the reality around you at any moment always has something deeper involved; in this case, my assumptions that you cannot see unless I share them.

Assumptions are like icebergs.

All assumptions are critical because how I look at reality (and how I view the same situation) is different. Each of us looks at God through our assumptions about who I am. God may be one, but each human has the potential to be an adopted son or daughter of the Father with Baptism or with God’s mercy in the case of those who do not know The Christ Principle. Assumptions are the frame of reference that shapes how I think about anything. Assumptions can change by adding or detracting from what we believe or act. Assumptions might be excellent or destructive to how you view what is morally correct. If you assume that stealing is acceptable if you don’t get caught, your behavior follows. Ex fructibus cognocsetis. Watch how someone acts; it will tell you what is in their heart.

False Prophets.*

15“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves.k

16l By their fruits, you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?

17 Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit.

18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit.

19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

20 So by their fruits you will know them.m

The True Disciple.

21“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven,* but only the one who does the will of my Father in Heaven.n

22 Many will say to me on that day,o ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’p

23 Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you.* Depart from me, you evildoers.’q

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/matthew/7

Use this full text to ponder in your heart about what assumptions you hold about being next to the heart of Christ in contemplation. Take some time with this practice.

  • What follows are some cryptic statements that I hold due to having made The Christ Principle one of my assumptions. My belief is not your belief because my assumptions are not your assumptions.
  • “I am not you; you are not me; God is not me, and I am certainly not God.”
  • I have chosen God as the center of my life, not my false self.
  • Each day, I begin from scratch in seeking God. But each day, I have also changed in my capacity to seek God.
  • My prayer life is my life of prayer for the whole day, not just during Lectio Divina, Eucharist, Reading Scripture, Rosary, and Praying the Penitential Psalms.
  • Each day, I make the sign of the cross on my forehead to remind me that I am but a sinful person whom God has graced with discovering The Divine Equation using the energy of the Holy Spirit.
  • All I seek is to wait in the presence of God before the Blessed Sacrament and be near the heart of Christ.
  • Profound waiting in the stillness of my heart as I assimilate the love of Christ as He loved me, using the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • I use the Rule of Threes with nearly every word I utter. The Rule of Threes states that there is one reality with three distinct and separate universes corresponding to the nature of God, animality to rationality, and the nature of rationality to spirituality.

I assume that when I am accepted as an adopted son (daughter) of the Father, I inherit the Kingdom of Heaven on earth and become a caretaker (like Adam and Eve) of the world I experience.

I assume I do not speak for anyone else but only relate what I receive from the Holy Spirit. That depends on my assumptions as one who receives from the Spirit. What that means depends on the assumptions that you make with your life about The Divine Equation. In the Divine Equation, God’s questions and answers are the ones that are authentic and make us fully human as intended by our evolution.

I have been accepted as a Lay Cistercian by the Monastery of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia, to follow the Rule of St. Benedict, as interpreted by Cistercian practices and charisms and confirmed through its principles and policies.

My center is: “Have in you the mind of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5)

Each day, because of the corruption of human nature due to Adam and Eve (Genesis 2-3), I must keep vigil against the World’s temptations to substitute the words I use to become more like Christ with what the World says is meaningful. They are the exact words such as “peace,” “love,” “What it means to be human?” and “How does all this fit together?”

I have pledged my life to convert my morals to become more like Christ and less like me, a paradox that the World will never understand or accept.

I live in a world until I die where I have dual citizenship, that of being in the physical and mental World. Still, God has accepted me as a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, which leads to my continuing after I die in Heaven.

The one rule I follow is to love others as Christ loved me.

The New Commandment.

31* When he had left, Jesus said,* “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.

32[If God is glorified in him,] God will also glorify him in himself, and he will glorify him at once.r

33My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. You will look for me, and as I told the Jews, ‘Where I go, you cannot come,’ so now I say it to you.s

34 I give you a new commandment:* love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.t

35 This is how all will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.”

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/john/13

Scripture is there for me to clarify humans’ assumptions about how to love each other as Christ loved us. (John 20:30-31)

In my attempt to sanctify each moment, I realize that I must become what I pray for and that the moment has depths I have yet to discover. You can always pray deeper.

When I use the term “The Rule of Threes,” I assume that there are three phases of evolution:

The Physical Universe is the universe of all matter, including all living species, including humans. It is the world into which we are born for our 70 to 80-year sprint to find purpose and solve The Divine Equation. This universe is the object of scientific inquiry and the foundation of all living things. One of the purposes of this universe is to sustain the mental universe while it searches for meaning and fulfillment as a human. It is the visible universe.

The Mental Universe – only humans live in this universe, but we need the physical universe to sustain us. St. Paul terms these two universes as living in the World. It is the universe where we look for meaning by looking at the physical universe and asking questions. This universe combines visibility and invisibility to discover reality in these two elements.

The Spiritual Universe—Here is where it gets tricky. The spiritual universe is only in the invisible realm, while humans live in the physical and mental universes as our base. In this universe, we seek to discover the purpose of the other two universes (physical and mental) by using invisible reality. In addition, each person must choose to enter this universe voluntarily. By accepting the invitation of God to become adopted sons and daughters of the Father (the prototype is the Blessed Mother who first accepted God’s invitation), each human receives dual citizenship. When we die, life is changed, not ended, and we move on to fulfilling what it means to be human in Heaven. There is only one reality, just as there is only one God.

GOD’S STRING THEORY

When I use the word “string,” I am inspired by the science of Quantum mechanics and string theory. My notion of string theory is that unseen forces link the physical, mental, and spiritual universes (viewed simultaneously). These forces do not contain matter or energy as we know it from Quantum Mechanics or Relativity but are threads that bind the purposes of each universe together as one.

I view these seven strings or parameters as shepherding time and matter as it fulfills their purpose as an intelligent progression from Alpha to Omega.

Here are some ideas about the characteristics of such string theory or forces. The seven forces I have identified emanate from The Christ Principle and flow from it to influence physical matter, mental enlightenment, and spiritual incorruptibility.

·  Corruptibility and Incorruptibility

·  Resonance and Dissonance

·  Light and Darkness

·  The Power of YES and NO

·  Good and Evil

·  Visible and Invisible Reality

  • Physical, Mental, and Spiritual Energy

These seven strings or forces have similar characteristics.

  • Strings are cosmic threads of energy, each having its unique properties.
  • These stands or filaments connect the nothingness of God (Alpha) with the Omega of God’s DNA.
  • Humans can access these strings in contemplation or profound mental prayer when they abandon all to possess them.
  • These filaments do not exist in the physical or mental universe. They can only be appreciated by those who have died to their human self to become an adopted son or daughter of the Father, their heritage.
  • These strings are not discernable by science or philosophies that elevate humans as divine.
  • These strings are folly for the gentiles and a stumbling block for the Jews.
  • The strings make sense to those who have taken the time to struggle to solve The Divine Equation.
  • These strands are already fixed in the distance between Alpha and Omega.
  • Time travels along these strings in a predetermined pathway (the way) and provides reasonableness (the truth) to those seeking and knocking on the door of The Christ Principle. This awareness is what each of us enters when we pray in, with, and through Christ, giving glory to the Father through the energy of the Holy Spirit (the life).
  • Father Henri Teilhard de Chardin, S.J., is my source for the Divine Equation, based on his reflections in the Phenomenon of Man.
  • These forces do not contain physical matter as their basis for existing.
  • These forces shape and guide physical and mental reality toward its intended destiny.
  • These forces do not take away the freedom of matter and time to be what it is intended to be but rather shape its flow like the banks of a river. This natural law extends to all physical reality that falls within the scope of the physical and mental universes.
  • Reality must develop to a point in its evolution to be able to say YES to the influences of these strings. So far as we know (Fermi Paradox), humans are the only ones capable of knowing how to use these strings to fulfill their destiny. Not all humans have this knowledge.
  • With reason and free will, even humans could not use reason alone to make the jump to the next level of their evolution. They needed help from a power source greater than themselves to move to the next level of reality, the spiritual universe. God, the source of all energy in all three universes, the link these seven strings had from divinity to humanity, had to become human to SHOW humans how to move from rationality to spirituality.  (Philippians 2:5)

This chart describes the flow of time and matter as it matures, which I find helpful. It represents the ideas of Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit Archeologist, and Priest. He describes a flow of evolution from beginning to end with milestones. I find this helpful when applying the seven strings along the path that it describes.

These strings emanate from Divine Energy in the form of God’s DNA, permeating each atom, each molecule. These strings shepherd matter as it progresses from its beginning to its ending. These strings reach before time and matter and end up in a place where humans are destined to fulfill their human nature.

Looking at this chart, I hypothesize that all matter from the beginning to the end is in a state of movement towards a singular point in the future. This process is intelligent progression by a Being with a mind and choice. All that is bear its fingerprints or DNA.

Time in this context is a constant that does not move. What does move is matter and energy, both physically, in keeping with its nature, and mentally in terms of evolving the ability of humans to move to the next level of their evolution and fulfill their destiny as nature intended. This third universe confounds the other two universes because its assumptions are the opposite of what makes sense using human reasoning alone. It was impossible to reach the intent of our evolution as a human species by just being human. Another radical change had to happen, but this time, God had to give up the Godhood itself to tell us what it was that God intended for us in the future and give us the energy needed to move to a more profound humanity. (Philippians 2:5). Our destiny is to be an adopted son (daughter) of the Father, just as Jesus is the Son of God, Savior.

These seven strings or threads are constants of energy flowing from that which is in the beginning to that which awaits us at the end of this process. Humanity proceeds from beginning to end as a race, as a Church, and as individuals, using these strings of Divine energy to fulfill our destiny as nature intended.

In keeping with the image and likeness of our Creator, humans must choose to move from this world of physical and mental universes through Baptism and with the power of the Holy Spirit to that of being an adopted son and daughter of a new kingdom, a new Jerusalem, called by Matthew, the Kingdom of Heaven.

The problem for humans is that we have dual citizenship, and the Lord of the World (Satan) doesn’t want to lose what he considers his property. So, while we are on earth, we trudge the path of righteousness only with difficulty and the power that comes from daily seeking God through practices designed to energize us with a power beyond ourselves.

Lay Cistercian practices (based on Cistercian and Benedictine spirituality) place me in the presence of Christ where, through silence, solitude, work, prayer, and community, I can endure and be faithful until the end. If I do falter, I have Eucharist and the Sacrament of Penance to make all things new one more time.

Some templates help to delineate one reality so that all of this makes sense. Here is one of many templates that I use in my Lectio Divina meditations to be aware of the presence of Christ within me. (Matthew 6:5)

The purpose of three distinct and separate universes is:

The physical universe is the base for matter, energy, time, and life as we know it. It is the visible universe against which all life, including humans, fulfills its purpose.

The mental universe is an aberration of sorts. Humans are the only ones that know that we know and can choose something outside of the natural fabric of their nature. Humans have more than one choice. Humans evolved from animality for a reason. The mental universe allows humans to ask interrogatory questions and discover meaning by looking at the physical universe. Why do humans have the ability to reason and choose? Choose what? This universe allows us to look at what is visible around us and probe what is invisible. The mental universe is a bridge or an interim capability to move to something. What is that unresolved something that we can’t see?

The third universe, existing simultaneously with the other two, is the answer to the first two trends. Humans could never have reasoned or discovered the spiritual universe with logic, science, or human language. God had to take on human nature to tell us and show us how to use the spiritual universe to fulfill our destiny. The reason is that the next phase in human evolution is voluntary, not tied to matter or physical energy. Not only is it voluntary, but each individual must choose to enter it. That takes knowledge, love, and service on the part of each human to say YES to creation, YES to accept the invitation to be adopted sons and daughters of the Father, and being able to “see” reality invisible because of human reasoning. We have a cosmic evolution all pointing to me as I live my seventy or eighty years (or whatever) to give me a chance to say YES to the fulfillment of my species, incorruptibility. (Philippians 2:5) God’s DNA or fingerprints are on each atom, galaxy or Sun, cell, and head hairs are numbered, and we are shown how to love others as Christ loved us. With all due respect to B.F. Skinner, this spiritual universe is dying to the human self so that we can rise to incorruptibility. It is not without struggle nor danger (The Devil wants us to fail).

Praise to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. The God who is, who was, and who is to come at the end of the ages. –Cistercian doxology

AN ADVENT REFLECTION: LISTEN TO THE BEAUTY OF LANGUAGE

Here are some of my favorite readings by Tom O’Bedlam.

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NEW SKINS: Three templates I use for Lectio Divina focus.

On my way to achieving Lectio Divina, I begin with Philippians 2:5 (Have in you the mind of Christ Jesus.) Then, I go to meditation. I have to have templates to help me focus on The Christ Principle now and then. I share with you three such templates. A template is an overlay that shapes my thoughts, but ironically, the thoughts are different each time, while the template remains the same. I use this in my Lectio Divina after I initiate my only scripture passage that is the center of my life, “Have in you the mind of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5). These templates assist me in going deeper in my Meditatio phase. I don’t use them in Contemplation, although the residue of what I gleaned forms the basis for my final stage.

I. THE RULE OF THREE

In my book, The Three Rules of the Spiritual Universe, I use a technique called The Rule of Three. It is a way of looking at a word or idea from the viewpoint of three separate and distinct universes, the physical (our basis of life itself), the mental universe (one where we use reason and free will to explore that physical universe) and the spiritual universe (one where we make sense out of what we reasoned and see how it fits into the Divine Equation).

I will take you through an example and then allow you to use this rule.

Lectio Divina word or idea: SEXUAL INTERCOURSE (I bet you didn’t see that coming).

THE PHYSICAL UNIVERSE

The most powerful human emotion is sexual intercourse or physical pleasure. God intended it for us and all living things as a natural way “to increase and multiply.” If this most powerful of all emotions and pleasures are good, why do we have so much problem using it correctly?

In the physical universe, humans exist because without it w,e would not survive physically. It is the natural law of propagation and renewal. For all living things, it is the most dominant emotion and feeling. In animals, it is tied to copulation and propagation, but in humans, copulation and pleasure are for procreation and then pleasure. This is an excellent emotion in the physical universe, of which humans and all living things exist because they are made up of matter, live in time, and experience the corruption of death and deterioration.

Without copulation, we don’t have more people to populate and renew the species. Nothing last is the time frame of what began and what ended. Planets are born and die. Galaxies are born from matter (dust) and into dust return. Everything that is has a purpose.

In the physical universe, humans alone moved from animality to rationality. Why? Still working on that one. Although the mega propagation of the universe happens automatically, it follows natural, unseen laws. Animals don’t notice this. Stephenson 2-19, the giant Sun, does not notice this. Humans alone notice that there is an intelligent progression.

Plants, animals, and all living things don’t think about propagation in this physical universe. This natural law applies to all matter and species, with only one exception that evolved through the gauntlet of intelligent progression: humans.

In my view of this universe, God created it, and so it is good because evil does not come from good, with one exception, human beings. Humans, of all matter and energy we know, are the only species that know. They also can transcend nature and go against the flow, so to speak. Humans are good by nature but corrupt by the influences of original sin. God is, among other things, in my perception, the personification of intelligent progression. Being in this being where all matter exists is an invisible tug toward its fulfillment or intended purpose.

In this first universe of matter and intelligent design, everything scrambles to make all things new again and again. The Genesis Principle (intelligent design) brought everything together to move forward according to its nature. Sex in this universe is doing what comes naturally. Intercourse, the intense need to masturbate more in men than women, the preoccupation with the naked body, and what is necessary for our survival (propagation) linked to sexual intercourse. All of this is good, natural, and necessary in this universe. In this universe, humans are no exception to the intense urge to copulate and become addicted to sexual acts. Pornography is a good example of the urge at this level for humans to satisfy this urge for intense pleasure. Prostitution is also an example of how strong our urges are to have sexual intercourse and much more, and more, and more. Sex can and is an addiction.

If all human experiences were on this level, humans would be just animals. In fact, we have the characteristics we share with animals through our DNA and the evolution of emotions, intelligence, and, of course, propagation.

THE MENTAL UNIVERSE

This is a universe where only humans live because it houses our ability to reason and to choose what we reason without interference but with consequences for our behavior. I choose to kill someone and am cut off from God (society says I have to pay for my crime). That is a dual consequence.

Each human wakes up in the bubble of their seventy or eighty years (Psalms), looks around at reality (the physical universe), and must make choices that they think are good for them.

Like Erich Fromm, whose book, The Art of Loving, states that we don’t automatically love as part of our DNA but must make choices (some of which are good for us and some are bad), trial and error are how we can tell what is good for us. That statement got me thinking that humans don’t know the difference between our animal heritage and pure acts of intercourse and what it means to move to the next level in our intelligent progression; having the ability to control my urges following my human nature now requires. We move from just having intercourse as an animal would do as part of its nature to now having reasoning to know the implications of our actions. We still want to have our will as dominant over others, including our human nature. We want to be able to control who determines not only the sexual act for our pleasure alone but also to determine what is good and what is evil (Genesis Chapters 1-2). This is at the epicenter of what Genesis is about, our struggle to move from animality to rationality. With rationality, we don’t know how to use it properly, even now, and move between the ups and downs of being what we would like to be to recognize that we are still burdened with the control that most incredible urge to become more than we are.

Add this greatest of urges as procreation and sexual intercourse, and humans go crazy. Men just want to satisfy their natural urge for pleasure; women want to satisfy their urge for pleasure but want more than a one-night stand.

The consequence of intercourse, using the natural law of the physical universe from which all of us emerged, is that it feels good and satisfies that natural human emotion. Other consequences are a sense of belonging (another powerful emotion) and fertilization, an unintended consequence of being human without any morality. Animals don’t have morality; they have the natural instinct to survive. What is the source of that instinct (invisible urge)?

THE SPIRITUAL UNIVERSE

In the physical universe, it is all about using your sex organs. In the mental universe (within the physical universe), it is all about using your sex organs appropriately and discovering the meaning of love as we go. In the next level or universe, that of the spiritual one, divine nature tells us not only tells us what is good and what will be detrimental to our evolution as humans but provides us with the energy to make it to the next level of human evolution, intelligent progression to the fullness of what it means to be human as our nature intended. This third universe is invisible to the human eye, but not with a humble mind and heart that accepts God’s help in becoming adopted sons and daughters of the Father and heirs to the spiritual universe now on earth and after we die. If you use only the physical and mental universes alone, none of this makes sense. The spiritual universe is one you must accept, even though it makes no sense according to the world. This is the Baptism of adoption and a new like using The Christ Principle as the master key to make all things new, to give new life each day to continue the journey in both the world (until you die) and the Kingdom of Heaven now and forever. The Christ Principle is the sign of contradiction: knowledge, love, and service while we live. That people don’t believe in God, Jesus, or the Church Universal is a sign that we are where we should be. Christ tells us that people will hate us because of His name and may even kill us in the name of peace. The Beatitudes are the statements for those who challenge the world and its inability to move us to our final inheritance (the fullness of humanity as nature intended). His followers are required to pray for those who persecute them and not to return evil for evil. If you love those that love you, Jesus says, what merit is there in that? Love your enemy and do good to those who hate you. Now that is taking up my cross each day and creeping forward.

What started out as sex organs being the most dominant feeling and emotion becomes a sign of contradiction when Jesus tells us not to put pleasure as our center but rather love. Not that we should not feel pleasure, but that it does not have the energy, the power, and the glory to lift humanity and each one of us up to the next level of our intelligent progression, adoption as sons and daughters of the Father and friends of Jesus.

LEARNING POINTS

THE PHYSICAL UNIVERSE — sex is about fulfilling pleasure and using your organs to make you feel good. This is not bad, but it cannot lift me to the next level of my evolution, rationality.

THE MENTAL UNIVERSE — This is the level where I look at my urges and emotions and seek to control them. Using human reasoning and my ability to choose good or evil, I stumble down life’s paths, experiencing what is good for me. This universe is where I discover meaning (ala Victor Frankle) and wrap that around the ball of my life experiences. This is the sum of who I am and what I have learned about love, life, purpose, my purpose in life, what reality looks like, how it all fits together, how to love fiercely, and now that I know I am going to die, now what? With all that is good about the mental universe, it cannot lift me up to the next level. I can’t push myself up alone, but someone can reach down from another nature and give me a hand. All I have to do is take it. This is my belief that the words from God are true.

THE SPIRITUAL UNIVERSE– There is only one energy that can span all three universes because it is

  • The Genesis Principle of KNOWLEDGE(Father),
  • The Christ Principle of LOVE (Son),
  • The Principle of the Spirit of Truth through SERVICE (The Holy Spirit).

All are one nature and the final state of all that is corruptible, giving final resonance to the dissonance of matter and mind.

There is no sex, marriage, or giving in marriage in Heaven. But, while we live our dual citizenship on earth (living in this body until we die and also living in our adopted body on earth), we must struggle with Satan trying to derail us and have us choose the Devil’s Kingdom (Hell).

Excuse my bluntness, but we won’t need our sexual organs in Heaven. Sex becomes what we discover while on earth and constitutes the meaning of a relationship. We use our knowledge of what we discovered love to be as we sit next to Jesus on a park bench in the middle of winter and just love to be in His presence. No talking is necessary. Sex in the Spiritual Universe is what we have discovered about physical pleasure in life and how we share that with others (spouse, mom and dad, brothers and sisters, family pets, neighbors, fellow Lay Cistercians, and even our enemies.

I use this Rule of Threes as a template for separating three distinct processes of reality, all happening simultaneously but all having distinct characteristics and measurements for validity.

Mr. Denny’s Spiritual Insight

Mr. Denny is a person I met when I was twelve years old while coming out of Church at The Old Cathedral in Vincennes, Indiana. I had gone over for a visitation before the Blessed Sacrament after school. Mr, Denny was coming out of the Church, and we met outside. I asked him what he was doing there, and he told me that he was there to be in the presence of Christ. I asked him what he did when he went there because all I see is a peaceful but empty church. Mr. Denny said that he just goes there to look at Christ, and he looks back at me. That encounter, among the many others afterward, changed my life. I stopped trying to do something when I visited the Blessed Sacrament and began going there because that is where I could meet my friend, one whose face I have never seen but whose heart beats next to mine when I attend Eucharistic Adoration. Love in both the mental and spiritual universes is about longing to be present to the other and discover happiness and joy. In the mental universe, I do this with my spouse; in the mental and spiritual universe, I do this with Jesus while being overshadowed by the Holy Spirit.

THE RULE OF THREES

PHYSICAL UNIVERSE – Base of Matter

MENTAL UNIVERSE—Meaning through Reason and Free Choice

SPIRITUAL UNIVERSE—Intelligent progression and the fulfillment of my humanity

LEARNING POINTS

I use the Rule of Three to tease reality apart to separate what is from our animal nature, what comes from our human nature, and what comes from our being granted adoption by The Father.

There is only one reality, but it has three dimensions or universes, the physical, the mental, and the spiritual.

I use this template of the Rule of Three to explain Question Three of the Divine Equation, “What does reality look like?”

II. THE TEMPLATE OF THE FOUR QUADRANTS

As I use them, templates are overlays to questions or to situations for me to probe deeper and deeper into reality. I will share with you one template and how to use it.

REALM OF THE MINDREALM OF THE HEART
What my masculine side provides.What my feminine side provides.
THE ALPHA
AUTHORITY AND FAITH
The Christ Principle
My adoption by Christ
My acceptance of the Holy Spirit
Freely offer my will to the Father
Dying to Self
 SERVICE AND GOOD WORKS
Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy
Chapter 4, Rule of St. Benedict
Gathering Day
Tallahassee Lay Cistercian discernment group
Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Lay Cistercian Gathering
KNOWLEDGE AND FREE WILL
The Primacy of Holy Scriptures
Writings of the Early Church via New Advent
Writings of St. Benedict
Writings of Cistercian authors
YouTube of Bishop Barron and others
Catechism of the Catholic Church
  THE OMEGA
LOVE THROUGH CONTEMPLATIVE PRACTICE
Eucharist
Reconciliation and Penance
Lectio Divina
Liturgy of the Hours
Contemplative Prayer
“Do what he tells you.”
Humility and Obedience to the will of the Father ‘
through the power of the Holy Spirit each day.
The template for viewing a deeper reality in Lectio Divine Meditation

HOW I USE THE QUADRANT

Jesus is the center of the quadrant and the Christ Principle from which and into which all reality has its life and truth, and finally, is the way to reach the fullness of our humanity as nature intended.

There are four quadrants:

  • Authority
  • Knowledge
  • Love
  • Service

I took the template from what I have concluded is the purpose of all existence, taken from The Baltimore Catechism, Question 6: The purpose of life is to know, love, and serve God in this world and to be happy with God in the next.

As a Lay Cistercian who seeks God each day through silence, solitude, work, prayer, and community, my focus is on how I can “have in me the mind of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5)

I begin all my Lectio Divina sessions with this same statement.

I try to make all things new each time I pray, which means I seek to grow in the capacity of God within me through the power of the Holy Spirit and by opening up my heart to what the heart of Christ shares with me. My faith experiences are so profound and beyond my poor abilities to come up with the interactions and connections with what Christ intended for his disciples that I have stopped fighting it and now just wait.

These quadrants are unique to me. There is only one Christ Principle, but the four quadrants will be different for each one of us due to the rareness and choices each of us makes with our lives.

Some of the outcomes of my thoughts are:

I. These four quadrants correspond to the four marks of the Church:

  • Authority is Apostolic
  • Knowledge is One
  • Love is Holy
  • Service is Catholic

You can see how I filled each quadrant with what I consider important aspects yet to be fully explored.

To grow even deeper, I take just one of them, for example, in Apostolic, the item of my adoption by Christ, and then use a blank template and ask what authority means, what knowledge, love, and service mean to me as an adopted son (daughter) of the Father. This takes me a step deep in my meditation. There is no end to how many levels I can go.

I use this template to answer the fourth question in the Divine Equation, “How does it all fit together?”

II. When I apply this template to my spirituality, I have a way to focus my thoughts on my center “have in you the mind of Christ Jesus, (Philippians 2:), then select a word, such as the nature of God, and apply these four quadrants:

  • Authority– I am the one who is. God is one.
  • Knowledge — The Father is the life, pure knowledge of the Word
  • Love — The Son is the way; the pure love of the Word made flesh
  • Service — The Holy Spirit is the Truth, pure energy, or service.

St Thomas Aquinas writes that knowledge proceeds love.

Jesus, the Messiah and the Second Person of the Trinity emptied Himself (kenosis) to become our tainted human nature so that he can be a ransom for many to restore to humans the ability to continue with their evolution to be adopted sons and daughters of the Father.

III. THE TEMPLATE OF TWO WORLDS

With Baptism comes certain changes in the way that I perceive reality. The template of two worlds allows me to discern the difference between the world and my adoption as the son (daughter) of the Father. The Son became one of us to tell us the good news that we have the choice to be both citizens of the world but also citizens of a higher dimension. Christ told us that his kingdom was not of this earth. Adoption by the Father through, with, and in Christ, our brother, allows us to begin to live in that spiritual universe while we still live on earth and are bound by its natural laws and societal norms.

AS A CITIZEN OF THE WORLD–I still perceive reality with my senses and use language to interpret what it means to be human daily. I must make choices about what I think is good for me. The problem is that I only think of what is good for me and what will make me happy. This is similar to B.F. Skinner’s concept of operant conditioning, where I am presented with pleasure or pain, but I most often choose pleasure or what fulfills my needs. I inherit the condition of original sin from my birth as a citizen of the world. To reach heaven, I must fulfill the original intent of my humanity: to know, love, and serve God in this world and be happy with God in the next. The problem is that our intended evolution has been thwarted and sidetracked because of the original sin. The effects of this sin on Adam and Eve (prototypes of humanity) are that we must endure pain, work for a living, clothe our nakedness, and die. To reach our intended destiny, I must die to that citizen of the world (Baptized) and live my life with the effects of original sin.

AS A CITIZEN OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN– The Resurrection Event only makes sense if Christ has prepared a place for me, and I claim that (belief) adoption as a son or daughter of the Father. Humanism only makes sense if it leads me to fulfill the original intention of my human nature, to be happy with God as Father, and Son, through the Holy Spirit. Intelligent progression means the terminal end of my eighty + years on earth is to continue as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven with God.

HOW I USE THIS DUALITY IN MY LECTIO DIVINA MEDITATIONS

I always begin with The Christ Principle (Have in you the mind of Christ Jesus.) Philippians 2:5

I wait.

I wait some more.

I think about a word, such as original sin.

I grow deeper by dividing my thoughts into two parts:

  • What does it mean to be fully human in my world? List ten ideas.
  • What does it mean to fulfill my adoption as God’s son (daughter) right now? List ten ideas.

I do all this by focusing on Christ using the power of the Holy Spirit. This duality allows me to see things in my everyday life that I would otherwise overlook. It is a technique that I find extremely helpful.

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CONVERSIO MORAE: It’s complicated!

There are two aspects to my Lay Cistercian life on which I intend to focus until I die. They are:

  • Conversio morae or Conversion of Life
  • Capacitas dei or Growing in the capacity of God

I have assimilated these concepts into my system of contemplative practices to help me approach The Christ Principle in humility and obedience to what I discover. The key to keeping me from falling off the edge of orthodox to what Christ taught us is Tradition, the ongoing application of the Faith to each particular age. As time passes, the Church confronts civil authorities and local law and blames Churchndividuals who dilute the message of the cross with populism and rationalism (everyone has the right to an opinion, so every opinion is right). The problem comes when I look at my spiritual time frame and what I have learned about good or bad. I usually do it through trial and error. Christ became human to give all humans the key (The Christ Principle) to making it through the minefield of life and knowing where the mines are. Some of us get it, while most don’t.

MY PERSONAL CONVERSIO MORAE

As I look out of reality as a Lay Cistercian (www.trappist.net), I try to look at reality in layers, which I have called universes, for lack of a better term for me. The same is true for each of the concepts of contemplative spirituality above. In this blog, I will offer my take on the different conversion types, all of which I have experienced in form degree or another. This layering is the vertical spirituality of conversio morae (the depths of the Love Christ has for us) and my capacity to move from my false self to my true self through discipline and putting to death my human self to discover that being fully human can only be accomplished with The Christ Principle.

DAILY CONVERSION OF SELF TO GOD

In my quest to have the mind of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5), I have come to accept the Cistercian approach of looking at the bigger picture of a whole day at a time as seeking God where I am and as I am. I practice Lectio Divina, Liturgy of the Hours, Reading Sacred Scriptures, Eucharist, and Penance within that context.

Much of this growth has been almost an unconscious awareness that life itself is a prayer, and I have special moments in which I voluntarily place myself in the presence of Christ to listen to the Holy Spirit with “the ear of the heart.” At the core of who I am as a human being burns the longing to be present to the source of all energy, pure energy, pure knowledge, pure love, and pure service, “pure” being a human term I made up so that my insufficient human nature can be present to that which is 100% of its divine nature. In this context, seeking God means I consciously want to “be perfect as my heavenly Father is perfect,” meaning that I cannot be God, so it means trying to be 100% of my nature. Herein lies the problem. Original Sin is the condition in which I must struggle to discover what it means to rise above my animal and mental self to reach for perfection beyond my capability or capacity, yet reach what I must.

My human nature is destined for heaven, not the earth. I cannot reach it because of Original Sin and am in a life of struggle to keep my adoption as sons (and daughters) of the Father from slipping in the mud of life back down the hill, to which I must inexorably trudge up again and again.

Christ became human to show me how to do it, but more importantly, why I must die to my human self to be raised by God to my new life in Baptism. To keep my Baptism unsullied, Christ left himself, Th Eucharist of the Last Supper, to be my constant companion in his Real Presence. I have the free will to offer the one and only thing God does not possess from the mental universe, the free will that chooses Him over falsehood and fake promises of eternal life. I can only do this with three gifts (Faith) that Christ shares with me in His presence: knowledge, love, and service.

This free-will offering is Christ’s passion and death on the cross for the ransom of many. All humans are covered with this salvific blanket of race, but we must convert ourselves to take advantage of this great gift. Baptism is when God officially says to each of us, “You are my adopted son or daughter,” and gives us access to the gifts Christ left to succeeding generations to make new skins for the new wine of Christ for those who love Him.

HOW I CONVERTED FROM BEING CATHOLIC TO BECOMING CATHOLIC

What sounds like a conundrum is a process of re-conversion that I experienced. I was very angry with how the Church was treating me. It is like Republicans hating Democrats or vice versa). I went to a local Anglican Church in Tallahassee and look their full menu of classes, with the end product being membership in that local church. I can still remember the wonderful people who receivChurchas an initiative with all the classes on what Anglicans believe. Conversion for me was the realization that, over a period of many months that the Catholic Church (Roman Rite), I was more and more convinced that I belonged in this Faith home. After that experience, I re-introduced my paperwork f r laicization once again (they somehow lost my original paperwork). It took me 16 years of striving to fill out the paperwork. Pope Benedict XVI granted me dispensation from the clerical state, and now I was a layperson. Because of that event, I re-converted from Catholicism to Catholicism (this time to become a Lay Cistercian at the Monastery of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit (Trappist), Conyers, GA. http://www.trappist.net My takeaway from this is that everything has a vertical level of depth. I began to discover how to practice The Cistercian Way.

LEARNING POINTS

  • Every practicing Catholic must convert their lives from their false self to their true self as an adopted son (daughter) of the Father each day.
  • Conversion is not a one-time promise (leave it and forget it). It takes work to keep the Faith from deteriorating in the mindset of the World.
  • Advent and Lent are good times to take stock of who you are in your relationship with God. Are you a dutiful adopted son or daughter of the Fath r or someone who freeloads on Christ to sneak into heaven through the back door?

NOTABLE CONVERSIONS

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NEW SKINS: The Incongruity of The Divine Equation

I remember seeing a video of how snakes shed their skins.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cmqwcb1fh_0

One of the signs of vitality for humans is making all things new. Animals do it when they shed their skins. Soft shell crabs molt, as do many other creatures, one of which is the snake. I remember that picture of Harry Potter entering the Chamber of Secrets by opening the unique snake door and finding a giant snake, a basilisk. Whereas that was fantasy and a good story, I wondered in one of my Lectio Divina sessions if humans shed or molted like a snake. Is it part of their natural progression? They shed their outer skins as they grow to make way for another. I know I don’t shed my skin (but I get skin burns), but what if my spiritual dimension needs to melt because I am growing in capacitas dei? Is that even possible?

Reflecting upon it with the metaphor of the new skin and new wine means I must constantly shed my old skin to receive the new wine of Christ as my life progresses. This does not happen with my physical or even my mental universe, although I can make a case for mental molting as part of what it means for humans to stretch to find out their fulfillment as nature intended. My spiritual universe must constantly make all things new or atrophy for lack of use. Here are some of the random thoughts I have about molting.

THE METAMORPHOSIS OF THE SPIRIT

I must begin by saying there is no human metamorphosis of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit does not change, but through being in The Spirit of Truth, I can change if I know what is happening. The problem comes because I perform my Lay Cistercian practices and charisms with my old skins and can’t fill it up with the new wine of Christ’s love until I make room (capacitas dei, as the Cistercian monks call it) for the new and eternal wine of Christ. This is ongoing and at the core of what it means to seek God daily as I am and where I am.

It depends upon my awareness that I must align my will with that of the Father (adoption by the Father). I only know how to do that because I have applied The Christ Principle to my movement from a false self to a new likeness of what I should become as fully human.

The only way to grow in my spiritual life is to place myself in the presence of the one who has the way, the truth, and with whom I have new life. You must put it there like human love if you want it to be present. It is not automatic but an act of free will to choose what I think will lead me to my purpose in life. My purpose is to “…have in me the mind of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5).

What happens when you are a Lay Cistercian or seeking to grow in God’s capacity (capacitas dei)? Like a snake or others who must shed their skins to make room for their growth, I must shed my old skin to take on new skin. One of the effects of this shedding (also called metanoia) is that I move to a more profound existence with Christ, which is almost imperceptible at the moment.

FIRST MOLTING– What is the purpose of life? My descriptions will be totally different than yours. Remember, I do not talk about physical change but only grow as a direct result of placing myself in the presence of Christ and being open to whatever is my good fortune to receive from the Holy Spirit.

My first recollection of a change in how I could relate to a God I could not see but definitely feel happened at St. Francis Xavier Grade School in Vincennes, Indiana, in the year 1951. Father Henry Doll entered the room on a scorching September day and was droning on about the Catechism of the Catholic Church, particularly Question Six, “Why are you here?” There would seem no more innocuous topic for a wimpy Eighth Grader. For some reason, I still remember Father Doll saying, “Your purpose in life is to know, love, and serve God in this life and to be happy with God in the next.” That thought hit me so hard that it has become the center of my spiritual journey throughout my ups and downs of life. This was the first time I remember moving from my parents’ nurturing Faith to launching my boat on the seas of whatever life had to throw at me. I long to be in the presence of Christ.

LEARNING POINTS:

  • I am not my parents; my parents are not me; God is not me; and, most importantly, I am not God.
  • I sucked this idea into the portfolio of what constitutes who I am as a workable principle.
  • This sloughing off of my old skins to make new skins was a constant occurrence, a natural part of growing in Christ Jesus and being a tiny bit open to the Holy Spirit (capacitas dei). This is also called abandonment, as preached by St. Charles de Foucault.
  • Some Catholics go their whole life without shedding the old skins when Christ, the new wine, fills them. They complain that the Church is too dull (martyrdom of the ordinary) and do not realize that they must throw off the old skins to be able to hold the new wine of Christ.

SECOND MOLTING — What is my purpose within that first purpose?

Now that I know the purpose of life from God, where do I fit? What is my purpose? I am the only one who can choose a center for my life. Once I have found it, I must struggle daily to keep my wineskins new.

I selected that one somewhere in the years 1960-66. It did not come all at once, like a bolt from the blue. I had a regular Lectio Divina meditation, which returned to the same thing each time. “Have in you the mind of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5). Being in a School of Theology, I morphed into also being in the School of Love, or Charity, as described by St. Benedict.

LEARNING POINTS:

  • I found my life from then on having a purpose, but also trying to discover what it means to love as Christ loved us.
  • If you want love in your life, you must put it there. This love does not come from you but through you from Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • Each day is a struggle to fight against the tendencies of the World to discount the Sacred to downplay the importance of dying to self to rise with Christ, of offering our whole day as a prayer to the glory of the Father.
  • Key to my prayer is my willingness to deny myself and take up my cross each day (whatever happens in the day, I try to meet it by “having me the mind of Christ Jesus.” Sometimes my seas are choppy, and the wind blows me off course. I have the North on my compass to give me direction and the North Star of Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life. If I want to be in the presence of Christ, I must willingly put myself there.

THIRD MOLTING — What does reality look like?

My first two moltings point to the third one. I become aware that there is a reality beyond what I can see. Lots of time passed in my life just maintaining the status quo or being the martyrdom of the ordinary. I was a believer but was not growing, and strangely, not even aware of what was happening. Somewhere about 2007, when I had my cardiac arrest and was hit with the reality of my mortality, I somehow began my awareness of growing deeper in my Faith (vertical Faith) as well as just horizontal Faith, moving from day to day with the same old skins, even though Christ in my heart was new wine. I woke up. At this time, I came up with a Lectio Divina that presented me with a possible solution to my quandary about how science and Faith fit or did not fit into one reality. Up to this point in my journey, reality looked like I had accepted it as a scientific approach; you must see it as accurate. Only my experience logically led me to begin thinking, “How can most of what I hold is valuable as a human being hidden from view and accessible only if I bring it up? Again, if I want love in my life, I must put it there. But from what reality does love come? Certainly not from the corruption of matter and mind (there is always a beginning and end to all that is). How could I go to heaven if I was morally corrupt, too? My moral corruption was real, but I knew I could make it incorruptible with Christ (Molting One and Two). I realized my nature was not corrupt, but I had to radically change my thinking. It is then that I strumbled onto the rule of threes. One reality has three distinct universes. The physical — matter, life, energy, time, space, the laws of nature and physics) The mental — the universe of human reasoning and free choice, in which only humans live their collective intelligent progression and where I find myself aware that I am aware that I know that I know. I am free in this universe to discover what it means to be human, but who is to say that what I discover leads me to fulfill my nature as a human being. If I am correct about Molting One and Two, and remember this is my choice, there are only two possible choices for me to discover my future destiny or the end result of my being on this earth. There must be more to it than one solitary life. Where do I find the answers?

About that time, with my introduction to Cistercian spirituality with its practices and charism, I gradually began to put the pieces together. I took my notion of three universes to its natural evolution. Baptism was not just when I accepted God, although it is, but more importantly, when God accepted me. “You have not chosen me; I have chosen you,” Christ says. The solution to my equation, The Divine Equation, is not to seek to prove God’s existence in my life but to use God’s energy to discover what it means to be fully human in my lifespan. As I said, the two ways to do this became more evident. I could either find the answers to my questions about life within two universes (the physical and mental) which St. Paul called the World, or I could add a universe called the Spiritual Universe which I had been trying to practice from my childhood (Molting One and Two). I had moved from seeing reality as being physical and mental (which it is and is still the base on which I exist until I die), but as Christ becomes a reality that solves this Divine Equation of who I am and my purpose, this third universe is the opposite of the other two universes. It is the opposite because The Christ Principle is the sign of contradiction (the cross becomes a key to making sense of my existence). It makes sense to me that religion now makes no sense because to achieve my finality as a human, I must choose with my human reasoning and free will what makes no sense to the World, good as it is. In the spiritual universe, God presents the challenge of the Rule of Opposites. It goes against my scientific sensibilities to step out there where there is nothing solid to see, yet it is the path in front of me. When I did step out there onto what seemed like nothing, I came into contact with the Holy Spirit, my second Advocate. Having joined the Lay Cistercians of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit (Trappist) in Conyers, Georgia, they required doing daily Lectio Divine, Eucharist, if possible, Liturgy of the Hours, Rosary, Reading Sacred Scriptures, and penance for my sins (that last one I added). These are ancient practices of the Cistercian and Benedictine Orders. I added their charisms as prescribed in Cistercian procedures and conventions of the Monastery, where I pledged my lifetime fidelity (stability).

LEARNING POINTS:

  • I made my two advocates friends of mine, taking into account the admonition of St. Benedict in Chapter 7 of his rule, Humility. He states that the first of his twelve steps of humility begins with “Fear of the Lord.” The meaning for me is that, although I call Christ and the Holy Spirit friends, I must always be aware that they are not my servants, but I am theirs; God is God, even though Christ is human nature and divine nature. This respect is at the core of the Genesis Principle: “I am not you; you are not me; God is not you; and you, most certainly, are not God.”
  • There is one reality containing three universes (physical, mental, and spiritual), each one separate but existing simultaneously. Hence, you only observe one reality unless you know how to dissect them.
  • I write all these ideas from ideas gleaned from my Lectio Divina meditations. They are my ideas alone, and my criterion is that they must have some linkage to past experiences of mine.
  • The physical universe has laws of nature that do not depend on humans to be true. It is the visible and invisible universe of the yet-to-be-discovered reality. The mental universe is the progression from the physical universe. It is a dead-end for our species: we live, die, and if we don’t save our ideas, they also die with us. But there is an additional level to our evolution (intelligent progression): the spiritual universe, which begins with the assent of our will to embrace that which makes no sense to our mental universe without the key. Christ is that key, The Christ Principle. This universe breaks the paradigm of the physical and mental universes (everything is corruptible and has a beginning and an ending) and offers those who wish a chance for incorruptibility.

FOURTH MOLTING: How does it all fit together?

Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit priest and archeologist proposed a systematic approach showing an intelligent progression from creation to incorruptibility. Is it true? Is it real? You have reason and the ability to choose good or evil for a reason. I use this perspective to make sense of reality where science, philosophy, and spirituality are at odds.

“Seeing. One could say that the whole of life lies in seeing…to try to see more and to see better is not, therefore, just a fantasy, curiosity, or a luxury. See or perish. This is the situation imposed on every element of the universe by the mysterious gift of existence. And thus, to a higher degree, this is the human condition.” From The Human Phenomenon, trans. Sarah Appleton- Weber, p. 3

A transformational event happened to me based on my discovery of the chart by Teilhard de Chardin. Up to 2022, I had been, with some difficulty, I might add, trying to prove God’s existence. I might even go so far as to say that I obsessed over trying to justify the existence of God with human proofs, such as logic, Scriptures, and other mental gymnastics. One day last month, while I was in my upper room (Matthew 6:5), my friends Jesus and the Holy Spirit asked me in a Lectio Divina meditation why I was trying to prove something that humans could never fathom with human reasoning alone. They suggested to me to be still, listen with “the ear of my heart” to what they were saying and try, within the scope of my life experiences, to relate The Christ Principle to what I found to be the purpose of life. I learned that it is a waste of my time to prove God’s existence to anyone other than myself, and even with me, as St. Thomas Aquinas was quick to point out, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.”

With Christ as the cornerstone that the builders have rejected, I have been using the World’s measurements to prove God exists to others since my Baptism. I have realized that I got that all wrong. The Christ Principle is a sign of contradiction, the cross. My secular World does not recognize The Rule of Opposites for the Baptized. It seeks proof. Now, freed from the obsession to prove something to someone else, I can just relax in silence and solitude and be present to the ontic possibility of the manifest ability of Christ in whatever comes my way each day. What a splendid joy that has been so far.

LEARNING POINTS–

  • Moltings one through three have led me to this threshold in my life.
  • Building on what went before, my Lectio Divina meditations have become more about those incidents in my life where I went off course, and Christ brought me back. I reflect on those at night many times and think of how my life has been wasted by my pride and self-indulgence rather than having Christ as my center.
  • I discovered this in the Rule of Threes (one reality containing three separate and distinct universes right now).
  • I am applying The Christ Principle in ways I never even thought about through my Lay Cistercian practices and metanoia of the heart (conversio morae) each day. The “each day” or the persistence of focus has led me deeper than I could ever have accomplished by my own efforts.
  • The Holy Spirit is my Ghost Writer for my blogs.
  • I have found that I keep trying to find ways to apply The Divine Equation to parts of my life that have not yet been converted to the “mind of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5). These transitions to a more profound spirituality use the six questions and answers I have discovered because of my presence to my two Advocates. In the Divine Equation, I don’t seek to prove the existence of God, which I would not understand with human reasoning, even if I could. I let God be God.
  • Through The Christ Principle, I have uncovered that my task is to discover who I am and what it means to be fully human as nature intended before the Fall. In this way, being perfect as my heavenly Father is perfect does not mean I must be perfect like God is perfect, which is blatantly impossible with my human nature. What it does mean to me is that being adopted as a son (daughter) of the Father, I am free to push forward as evolution progresses inexorably toward its Omega.

FIFTH MOLTING: How to love fiercely?

Using these four moltings, I am now not my old self (old skins) but constantly looking to make all things new. It is a mindset each day, a realization that prayer is not just a set time but extends to all sacred times. This I do not by myself but by having been friended by Christ and the Holy Spirit (Baptism and Confirmation) and with the ongoing help of being adopted by the Father. All humans look for the meaning of love. For some, it starts and stops with their genital organs. These are the ones who are ruled by their passions, much like the animal emotions we emerged from. For others, love becomes looking for physical pleasure through other people. This is how humans evolved, and they are caught up with the ambiguity of right or wrong. Unlike animals, we have choices to make all the time. These choices carry consequences and may shape how we see the reality around us. For example, there are two basic approaches humans have when approaching the question of the Sacred. 1) There is an invisible power outside of yourself but accessible to those who know how. Within this group are those who hold that there is a Divine Equation, one where both the questions and the answers to what it means to be human are accessible through being present to the Divine Nature. 2) There is no power outside of yourself, and the only reality is one that can be demonstrated. This second approach usually, but not always, means that God is not a part of the equation. These two approaches carry with them assumptions. These assumptions are given to each age by Jesus Himself and are as true now as when he walked the earth.

When speaking of love, there are also two ways to look at this word. As in the example above, the meaning of love can come from outside of yourself or within yourself. If I choose from within myself, my limited knowledge of the true meaning of love is limited to my life choices based on my needs. This is not bad as in evil as much as incomplete and will not propel us to the next level of our intelligent design, to be an adopted son of the Father. As an individual, I can choose what is good or bad for me. The danger comes in choosing something bad for me. Who tells me what is good or bad? Again, I can get that answer from inside or from a source outside of myself that goes against my inclination to know it all or resist others telling me what to do. This is called conversio morae in my understanding of Cistercian (Benedictine) spirituality because I must die to my old self (old skin) daily to be able to fill up with the new wine of Christ. Daily is hard because I don’t have the power to sustain that effort. My energy comes from The Divine Equation, these six questions I must answer. In this particular, “How can I love fiercely?”

Fierce love is profound love. Profound love comes from my choices for good (Galatians 5) instead of my choices for bad. Profound love has the energy of God attached so that I now have the power to rise up to new life (the resurrection) each day in, with, and through Christ Jesus. False love comes from my love of self-gratification. Human love comes from my choice of what my reason tells me is good. In his masterpiece, The Art of Loving, Erich Fromm suggests that love is an emotion we need to fulfill our humanity but is an acquired skill, hence the need for practice and a model. He says that there is authentic human love and unauthentic human love. I have reason and free will to help me choose what is good for me. The problem is that human love alone is not fierce enough to raise me to the next level of my humanity. I need the energy and power of nature beyond and outside of myself. This love is fierce because it allows my human nature to interact with the divine nature as an adopted son (daughter) of the Father.

In my second molting, one of the techniques to delve deeper into the reality of my humanity is realizing that I am an adopted son (daughter) of the Father. By Faith, I am a child of God, a pilgrim in a foreign land whose evolution is beyond the phase of my physical and mental body on earth. Christ tells us that he gives us peace, but not as the world gives it.

Jesus answered and said to him, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.q

24Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me.

25“I have told you this while I am with you.

26The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name—he will teach you everything and remind you of all that [I] told you.r

27Peace* I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.s

28* You heard me tell you, ‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’t If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I.

29And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe.u

30I will no longer speak much with you, for the ruler of the world* is coming. He has no power over me,

31but the world must know that I love the Father and that I do just as the Father has commanded me. Get up, let us go.v

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/john/14

TWO TYPES OF LOVE BASED ON DIFFERENCES IN THE WORLD AND THE SPIRIT

One of the great insights coming from the Holy Spirit is my gradual awakening to the different meanings and assumptions of the word “Love.” In the passage above, Christ tells his disciples that He gives them His peace. This is not the peace that comes from kicking out the Romans from their lands, but rather, this peace is spiritual, Christ giving of Himself to those who love Him. This peace is not the absence of conflict (what the world thinks) but the presence of fierce love (what the spirit does when he overshadows us).

It is this recognition that with Baptism comes dual citizenship, the city of the earth and the city of God. We are adopted sons (daughters) of the Father. I will share with you these two interpretations of love, that of the world and that of the spirit. You can judge for yourself what makes sense.

IT’S ALL ABOUT PERSPECTIVE

I always look for two meanings when thinking about the word ”Love” in my Lectio Divina. The first meaning is what the world thinks of Love. For this, I reference what Erich Fromm says about the meaning of Love in The Art of Loving. The second dimension is that of the spirit. For this, I use The Christ Principle and the Cistercian practices and charisms to look at “love” from the viewpoint of what Christ taught us in Scripture.

I will offer my take on LOVE from these two viewpoints. As an adopted son of the Father, I use what Christ teaches about Love. My approach comes from my personal experiences and lessons learned about LOVE. I call it fierce or profound Love to differentiate this key purpose of life from its secular counterpart.

Love is at the core of what makes humans different from the rest of living things.Love is the purpose of life. Deuteronomy 6:5 and Matthew 22:38.
Exists in the Physical and Mental Universes onlyExists in the Physical, Mental, and Spiritual Universes
Humans who are atheists, agnostics, or indifferent about God, those with a good heart and who are sincere about doing goodThose who are Baptized and Confirmed, anyone who accepts Jesus as Lord, and those who struggle with carrying their cross daily but do it anyway.
Citizens of the secular worldCitizens of the kingdom of heaven and adopted sons or daughters of the Father
Love can be authentic or unauthentic and depends upon the choices people makeThose who die to self and accept the Christ Principle as the center of their lives
Use the Divine Equation, but get their questions and answers from themselves or society.. What is the purpose of life? What is your purpose in the purpose of life? What does reality look like? How does it all fit together? How do you love fiercely? You know you are going to die: now what?Use the Divine Equation but get their questions and answers from the Holy Spirit through Scriptures and Tradition.. What is the purpose of life? What is your purpose in the purpose of life? What does reality look like? How does it all fit together? How do you love fiercely? You know you are going to die: now what?
Love is a learned behavior and depends upon the disposition of those who loveLove is a person, and we learn about what Love is because Christ loved us first
Human nature is good but tainted by original sin. The default is to seek what is good for me. I seek to satisfy my needs with the template of choices that make me happy.Human nature is good but wounded by original sin. The default is to choose what I think is good for me or to go outside myself to use what God says will help my human nature to fulfill its destiny as an adopted son or daughter.
Original sin clouds the benefits of being good or the consequences of destructive behavior.A clear choice for the knowledge of good or evil
What is real can be reached by reason alone. Love must be visible.Faith informed by reason allows humans to live in the visible secular world but also to transverse the invisible world of Love.
What makes Love authentic or unauthentic is the choice of what makes us more human or less than human and more animal.The Divine Equation is not solving who God is but using who God is to solve what it means to be fully human.
Each human must learn what it means to love with the totality of their life experiences and choices. Choices have consequences. Wrong questions give wrong answers.Each person who is Baptized is given the map (Scriptures) of how to walk the minefields of life without destroying themselves. Christ has the right questions and the corresponding authentic answers to Love.
Reconciliation with our enemies or friends means humans can be noble according to what they place at their center.Each person selects a center of their existence based on their purpose. There is only one authentic center, just like there is only one virtue, Love.
Secular thinkers believe theirs is the way, but unfortunately, they only live seventy or so years to live it. Christ is the way, The Holy Spirit is the truth, and the Father is life.
The basis for authentic Love is the choices we make. Who determines what is good or bad can be the individual or society.


The Christ Principle determines what is good or bad for us. For this to be true, we must die to that part of us that wants to be god and listen with the “ear of the heart.”
Characteristics of Authentic Secular Love (Erich Fromm: The Art of Loving)
care, responsibility, respect, and knowledge.
Characteristics of Authentic Spiritual Love (Galatians 5)  
In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness,q
23gentleness, self-control
. Against such, there is no law. r 24 Now those who belong to Christ [Jesus] have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires.s
25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit.t
26 Let us not be conceited, provoking and envious of one another. “
Characteristics of Unauthentic Secular Love
(Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving)
Drugs
Alcohol
Orgiastic Sex


Characteristics of Unauthentic Spiritual Love
“Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness,o
20idolatry, sorcery, hatred, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, 21occasions of envy,* drinking bouts, orgies, and the like.
I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Human nature has nobility and willingness to help others, but it is often compromised by original sin.Jesus, Son of God, both divine and human nature, TELLS US AND SHOWS US how to love through His willing sacrifice on the cross and his resurrection from the dead. We must do the same and put to death our old wineskins to receive the new wine of Christ. The Blessed Mother and the lives of the Saints show us the meaning of Love and the effects of choosing God’s will by how they lived.
Without God, humans would not be able to fulfill the fullness of what their human nature intended by intelligent progression (evolution).With God but without being God (which is impossible), humans can fulfill the fullness of what their human nature intended by intelligent progression (evolution).
Without Christ, we would not be able to move to the next level of our evolution as nature intended. Good as it is, authentic human Love does not possess the power to raise us to our destiny.Christ became human to show us that being adopted by the Father won’t take away the martyrdom of ordinary living and pain. Still, we have the tools to rise above our adversities with Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Humans are not evil by their nature, only by their choices. Movie stars and corrupt politicians show us how to love and what not to do. We learn the meaning of secular Love through our family and trial and error. Authentic Human Love is not evil but noble, but, by itself, does not have the energy to raise us up to the newness of the next level of our intelligent progression.Mary, Mother of God, is the prime example of what a human can become if they fulfill their destiny as nature intended. The energy of the Holy Spirit, which adopted sons and daughters can use to augment their secular human Love and lift us up (the resurrection is the prototype) to make all things new. This means making new skins to hold the new wine of Christ. Christ is present today, yesterday and tomorrow.
What we see in the physical and mental universes is how to love authentically in the secular world using its parameters and value systems.With Baptism, we are citizens of a parallel but separate dimension, sons, and daughters of the Father, even though our base is the secular universe until we die.
The secular world is the only reference to discovering who we are as human beings. This is not bad, as it is insufficient to full our destiny as nature intended.All words, practices, and love in this spiritual universe are the opposite of the secular world in which we find out what is meaningful. This is a sign of contradiction.
  
  
Comparison of the word “love” between the flesh and the spirit
  • LEARNING POINTS
  • Christianity makes no sense to the secular world. It is “folly for the Gentiles and a stumbling block for the Jews.”
  • St. Thomas Aquinas states that knowledge precedes love. God is unknowable with mere human reasoning in the secular world with all its sophisticated languages and technology.
  • With Baptism, we begin our daily conversion to “know, love and service God in this world so that we can be happy with God in the next.” (Baltimore Catechism, Question Six).
  • Each day, as a Lay Cistercian, I must remind myself that I must die to the secular world and that words like “love,” “peace,” “abandonment,” “contemplative practice,” and “prayer” all have much deeper meanings than meets the eye.
  • I try to be aware that I must grow in the capacity of having Christ in me by being present to Him through the Holy Spirit (capacitas dei) and also have the habit of daily conversion from my will to embrace God’s will through obedience and humility.
  • My Lay Cistercian practices and habits I gain help me to focus on my center, The Christ Principle, and “have in me the mind of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5)
  • I am responsible, as is each person of each age, for replacing old wineskins with new ones. In my being present to the one I love, Jesus, I cultivate the habit of waiting on a park bench in the dead of winter for Christ to sit next to me, only to realize that He was there since the beginning of creation and I am the one who needs to be silent and in solitude to “listen with the ear of my heart.” (St. Benedict)
  • The incongruity of The Divine Equation is that, as  Christ is the cornerstone, rejected by the builders, the reality of spirituality makes complete sense when He is applied to the physical, the mental, and the spiritual universes.
  • Although my perspective on Christ is unique to me because I relate my presence to Him with the totality of who I am, I realize that I am a part of a composite of all Baptised persons in Heaven (Church Triumphant), those on earth (Church Militant) and those who must purify themselves before they enter the kingdom of heaven (Church Purgative).
  • Eucharist is not the only place I offer my thanks to the Father and pledge Him my allegiance through, with, and in Christ Jesus by the energy of the Holy Spirit, but it is the core of the Christ Principle from which I sustain my faith.
  • I am an adopted son (daughter) of the Father, not by my choice, but because God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) has chosen me from before there was matter and time. My purpose is to glorify the Father through the Son through the power and energy of the Holy Spirit each day I have left in this secular world.
  • I do this by an act of my will as a gift to God that allows me to sit in the presence of God and listen.
  • Undescribable and certainly unanticipated joy comes with being in resonance with Christ, and with Christ, the Father, through the energy of the Holy Spirit. This is not the joy that the world gives but is the complete overshadowing of my humanity with pure knowledge, pure love, and pure service. I continue to convert my sinful self to be more like Christ daily. This is why I strive to have the mind of Christ Jesus each day. (Philippians 2:5).

SIXTH MOLTING: You know that you will die: now what?

Let’s take stock of what has just happened. It has taken me a lifetime of molting to discover these six questions and where to get the correct answers. I approach my quest to discover what it means to be fully human by putting together these six moltings or questions with answers from outside my human nature.

This sixth realization comes because I have struggled to get through the other five. There is a progressive intelligence to these answers. If I am indeed an adopted son (daughter) of the Father, what awaits me is the fulfillment of what it means to be human.

There are three dimensions to this Divine Equation (even though there are six questions with their corresponding authentic answers.)

  • The physical universe is my platform for my time on this earth (so far, 82.2 years and counting). I share this with all physical matter and living entities.
  • The mental universe is my personal space where I receive human reasoning and the ability to determine my destiny by choosing what is good or bad for me. Each day, I must address whatever comes my way and try to make sense of it.
  • The spiritual universe is my offering my will as a gift to the Father in thanksgiving for adoption as a son (daughter) of the Father and asking the Holy Spirit to overshadow me with Faith, Hope, and Love.

LEARNING POINTS

Here is what I intend to do with my life between now and when I die.

Focus each day on seeking God in whatever comes my way and whoever comes my way. Awareness is key here.

Try to “have in me the mind of Christ Jesus,” each day.

Read Chapter 4 of The Rule of St. Benedict each day.

Write down my Lectio Divina thoughts which come to me through the Holy Spirit in a blog.

Write these blogs in a book format.

Visit the Monastery of the Holy Spirit each month for Gathering Day (in person, or via Zoom).

Create YouTube sessions with Zoom based on my thoughts about life, love, and how to be fully human as nature intended.

Pray for mercy and forgiveness of my sins, go back to those murky places in the past, and restore them with atonement for failures to love Christ as He loved us.

Be humble.

Prepare to live forever in Heaven and pack for the journey.

Praise to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. The God who was, who is, and who will be at the end of the ages.

uiodg

HOW TRADITION REFUTES HERESY WITH SACRED SCRIPTURES: Growing deeper.

In the previous blog, I listed some of the references that early Church Fathers wrote defending the Faith against the rampant heresies of individuals who were in error. I took Hippolytus as an example and his writings against a thinker called Noetus. Read this unedited text from http://www.newadvent.com in bits and pieces. This text shows how Sacred Scripture is used to refute false thinking about who Christ is, in this case, that Jesus is the Father. Like heresy today, just because you have an opinion doesn’t mean it is correct. Tradition in the Church as it comes down through the ages is the authority against which our individual thoughts are measured. The Church Universal has authority through Christ. All I have is an opinion about what the Scriptures say. It is true or not when measured against twenty centuries of people like Hippolytus who wrote against false teachers. I know this is a long piece, but it is only a minute fraction of those in the early Church who wrote against those who, undoubtedly thought they were correct but were wrong in their assumptions. Scripture is the primacy of truth whereas the Church has the authority to protect the rest of us from the savageness of believing that whatever we think is what God thinks. What are your thoughts?

THE CRAZY LIFE OF ST. HIPPOLYTUS OF ROME

Martyrpresbyter and antipopedate of birth unknown; d. about 236. Until the publication in 1851 of the recently discovered “Philosophumena”, it was impossible to obtain any definite authentic facts concerning Hippolytus of Rome and his life from the conflicting statements about him, as follows:

  • Eusebius says that he was bishop of a church somewhere and enumerates several of his writings (Church History VI.20.22).
  • St. Jerome likewise describes him as the bishop of an unknown see, gives a longer list of his writings, and says of one of his homilies that he delivered it in the presence of Origen, to whom he made direct reference (Illustrious Men 61).
  • The Chronography of 354, in the list of popes, mentions Bishop Pontianus and the presbyter Hippolytus as being banished to the island of Sardinia in the year 235; the Roman Calendar in the same collection records under 13 August the feast of Hippolytus on the Via Tiburtina and Pontianus in the catacomb of Callistus (ed. Mommsen in “Mon. Germ. Hist.: auctores antiquissimi”, IX, 72, 74).
  • According to the inscription over the grave of Hippolytus composed by Pope Damasus, he was a follower of the Novatian schism while a presbyter, but before his death exhorted his followers to become reconciled with the Catholic Church (Ihm, “Damasi epigrammata”, Leipzig, 1895, 42, n.37).
  • Prudentius wrote a hymn on the martyr Hippolytus (“Peristephanon”, hymn XI, in P.L., LX, 530 sqq.), in which he places the scene of the martyrdom at Ostia or Porto, and describes Hippolytus as being torn to pieces by wild horses, evidently a reminiscence of the ancient Hippolytus, son of Theseus.
  • Later Greek authors (e.g. Georgius Syncellus., ed. Bonn, 1829, 674 sqq.; Nicephorus Callistus, “Hist. eccl.”, IV, xxxi) do not give much more information than Eusebius and Jerome; some of them call him Bishop of Rome, others Bishop of Porto. According to Photius (Bibliotheca, codex 121), he was a disciple of St. Irenæus. Oriental writers, as well as Pope Gelasius, place the See of Hippolytus at Bostra, the chief city of the Arabs.
  • Several later legends of martyrs speak of Hippolytus in various connections. That of St. Laurence refers to him as the officer appointed to guard the blessed deacon, who was converted, together with his entire household, and killed by wild horses (Acta SS., August, III, 13-14; Surius, “De probatis Sanctorum historiis”, IV, Cologne, 1573, 581 sqq.). A legend of Porto identifies him with the martyr Nonnus and gives an account of his martyrdom with others of the same city (Acta SS., August, IV, 506; P.G., X, 545-48).
  • A monument of importance is the large fragment of a marble statue of the saint discovered in 1551 which underwent restoration (the upper part of the body and the head being new), and is now preserved in the Lateran museum; the paschal cycle computed by Hippolytus and a list of his writings are engraved on the sides of the chair on which the figure of Hippolytus is seated; the monument dates from the third century (Kraus, “Realencyklopädie der christlichen Altertumer”, 661 sqq.).
  • The topographies of the graves of the Roman martyrs place the grave of Hippolytus in the cemetery on the Via Tiburtina named after him, mention the basilica erected there, and give some legendary details concerning him. (De Rossi, “Roma sotterranea”, I, 178-79); the burial vault of the sainted confessor was unearthed by De Rossi (Bullettino di archeologia cristiana, 1882, 9-76).
  • https://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07360c.htm

Against Noetus

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1. Some others are secretly introducing another doctrine, who have become disciples of one Noetus, who was a native of Smyrna, (and) lived not very long ago. This person was greatly puffed up and inflated with pride, being inspired by the conceit of a strange spirit. He alleged that Christ was the Father Himself, and that the Father Himself was born, and suffered, and died. You see what pride of heart and what a strange inflated spirit had insinuated themselves into him. From his other actions, then, the proof is already given us that he spoke not with a pure spirit; for he who blasphemes against the Holy Ghost is cast out from the holy inheritance. He alleged that he was himself Moses, and that Aaron was his brother. When the blessed presbyters heard this, they summoned him before the Church, and examined him. But he denied at first that he held such opinions. Afterwards, however, taking shelter among some, and having gathered round him some others who had embraced the same error, he wished thereafter to uphold his dogma openly as correct. And the blessed presbyters called him again before them, and examined him. But he stood out against them, saying, What evil, then, am I doing in glorifying Christ? And the presbyters replied to him, We too know in truth one God; we know Christ; we know that the Son suffered even as He suffered, and died even as He died, and rose again on the third day, and is at the right hand of the Father, and comes to judge the living and the dead. And these things which we have learned we allege. Then, after examining him, they expelled him from the Church. And he was carried to such a pitch of pride, that he established a school.

2. Now they seek to exhibit the foundation for their dogma by citing the word in the law, I am the God of your fathers: you shall have no other gods beside me;  and again in another passage, I am the first, He says, and the last; and beside me there is none other. Thus they say they prove that God is one. And then they answer in this manner: If therefore I acknowledge Christ to be God, He is the Father Himself, if He is indeed God; and Christ suffered, being Himself God; and consequently the Father suffered, for He was the Father Himself. But the case stands not thus; for the Scriptures do not set forth the matter in this manner. But they make use also of other testimonies, and say, Thus it is written: This is our God, and there shall none other be accounted of in comparison of Him. He has found out all the way of knowledge, and has given it unto Jacob His servant (son), and to Israel His beloved. Afterward did He show Himself upon earth, and conversed with men. You see, then, he says, that this is God, who is the only One, and who afterwards did show Himself, and con-versed with men. And in another place he says, Egypt has laboured; and the merchandise of Ethiopia and the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over unto you, (and they shall be slaves to you); and they shall come after you bound with manacles, and they shall fall down unto you, because God is in you; and they shall make supplication unto you: and there is no God beside you. For You are God, and we knew not; God of Israel, the Saviour. Do you see, he says, how the Scriptures proclaim one God? And as this is clearly exhibited, and these passages are testimonies to it, I am under necessity, he says, since one is acknowledged, to make this One the subject of suffering. For Christ was God, and suffered on account of us, being Himself the Father, that He might be able also to save us. And we cannot express ourselves otherwise, he says; for the apostle also acknowledges one God, when he says, Whose are the fathers, (and) of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever.

3. In this way, then, they choose to set forth these things, and they make use only of one class of passages; just in the same one-sided manner that Theodotus employed when he sought to prove that Christ was a mere man. But neither has the one party nor the other understood the matter rightly, as the Scriptures themselves confute their senselessness, and attest the truth. See, brethren, what a rash and audacious dogma they have introduced, when they say without shame, the Father is Himself Christ, Himself the Son, Himself was born, Himself suffered, Himself raised Himself. But it is not so. The Scriptures speak what is right; but Noetus is of a different mind from them. Yet, though Noetus does not understand the truth, the Scriptures are not at once to be repudiated. For who will not say that there is one God? Yet he will not on that account deny the economy (i.e., the number and disposition of persons in the Trinity). The proper way, therefore, to deal with the question is first of all to refute the interpretation put upon these passages by these men, and then to explain their real meaning. For it is right, in the first place, to expound the truth that the Father is one Godof whom is every family, by whom are all things, of whom are all things, and we in Him.

4. Let us, as I said, see how he is confuted, and then let us set forth the truth. Now he quotes the words, Egypt has laboured, and the merchandise of Ethiopia and the Sabeans, and so forth on to the words, For You are the God of Israel, the Saviour. And these words he cites without understanding what precedes them. For whenever they wish to attempt anything underhand, they mutilate the Scriptures. But let him quote the passage as a whole, and he will discover the reason kept in view in writing it. For we have the beginning of the section a little above; and we ought, of course, to commence there in showing to whom and about whom the passage speaks. For above, the beginning of the section stands thus: Ask me concerning my sons and my daughters, and concerning the work of my hands, command me. I have made the earth, and man upon it: I with my hand have established the heaven; I have commanded all the stars. I have raised him up, and all his ways are straight. He shall build my city, and he shall turn back the captivity; not for price nor reward, said the Lord of hosts. Thus said the Lord of hosts, Egypt has laboured, and the merchandise of Ethiopia and the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over unto you, and they shall be slaves to you: and they shall come after you bound with manacles, and they shall fall down unto you; and they shall make supplication unto you, because God is in you; and there is no God beside you. For You are God, and we knew not; the God of Israel, the Saviour, In you, therefore, says he, God is. But in whom is God except in Christ Jesus, the Father’s Word, and the mystery of the economy? And again, exhibiting the truth regarding Him, he points to the fact of His being in the flesh when He says, I have raised Him up in righteousness, and all His ways are straight. For what is this? Of whom does the Father thus testify? It is of the Son that the Father says, I have raised Him up in righteousness. And that the Father did raise up His Son in righteousness, the Apostle Paul bears witness, saying, But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Christ Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ Jesus from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwells in you. Behold, the word spoken by the prophet is thus made good, I have raised Him up in righteousness. And in saying, God is in you, he referred to the mystery of the economy, because when the Word was made incarnate and became man, the Father was in the Son, and the Son in the Father, while the Son was living among men. This, therefore, was signified, brethren, that in reality the mystery of the economy by the Holy Ghost and the Virgin was this Word, constituting yet one Son to God. And it is not simply that I say this, but He Himself attests it who came down from heaven; for He speaks thus: No man has ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. What then can he seek beside what is thus written? Will he say, forsooth, that flesh was in heaven? Yet there is the flesh which was presented by the Father’s Word as an offering, — the flesh that came by the Spirit and the Virgin, (and was) demonstrated to be the perfect Son of God. It is evident, therefore, that He offered Himself to the Father. And before this there was no flesh in heaven. Who, then, was in heaven but the Word unincarnate, who was dispatched to show that He was upon earth and was also in heaven? For He was Word, He was Spirit, He was Power. The same took to Himself the name common and current among men, and was called from the beginning the Son of man on account of what He was to be, although He was not yet man, as Daniel testifies when he says, I saw, and behold one like the Son of man came on the clouds of heaven. Rightly, then, did he say that He who was in heaven was called from the beginning by this name, the Word of God, as being that from the beginning.

5. But what is meant, says he, in the other passage: This is God, and there shall none other be accounted of in comparison of Him?  That said he rightly. For in comparison of the Father who shall be accounted of? But he says: This is our God; there shall none other be accounted of in comparison of Him. He has found out all the way of knowledge, and has given it unto Jacob His servant, and to Israel His beloved. He says well. For who is Jacob His servant, Israel His beloved, but He of whom He cries, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear Him?  Having received, then, all knowledge from the Father, the perfect Israel, the true Jacob, afterward did show Himself upon earth, and conversed with men. And who, again, is meant by Israel but a man who sees God? and there is no one who sees God except the Son alone, the perfect man who alone declares the will of the Father. For John also says, No man has seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. And again: He who came down from heaven testifies what He has heard and seen. This, then, is He to whom the Father has given all knowledge, who did show Himself upon earth, and conversed with men.

6. Let us look next at the apostle’s word: Whose are the fathers, of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever. This word declares the mystery of the truth rightly and clearly. He who is over all is God; for thus He speaks boldly, All things are delivered unto me of my Father. He who is over all, God blessed, has been born; and having been made man, He is (yet) God forever. For to this effect John also has said, Which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. And well has he named Christ the Almighty. For in this he has said only what Christ testifies of Himself. For Christ gave this testimony, and said, All things are delivered unto me of my Father;  and Christ rules all things, and has been appointed Almighty by the Father. And in like manner Paul also, in setting forth the truth that all things are delivered unto Him, said, Christ the first-fruits; afterwards they that are Christ’s at His coming. Then comes the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule, and all authority, and power. For He must reign, till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For all things are put under Him. But when He says, All things are put under Him, it is manifest that He is excepted which did put all things under Him. Then shall He also Himself be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all. If, therefore, all things are put under Him with the exception of Him who put them under Him, He is Lord of all, and the Father is Lord of Him, that in all there might be manifested one God, to whom all things are made subject together with Christ, to whom the Father has made all things subject, with the exception of Himself. And this, indeed, is said by Christ Himself, as when in the Gospel He confessed Him to be His Father and His God. For He speaks thus: I go to my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God. If then, Noetus ventures to say that He is the Father Himself, to what father will he say Christ goes away according to the word of the Gospel? But if he will have us abandon the Gospel and give credence to his senselessness, he expends his labour in vain; for we ought to obey God rather than men.

7. If, again, he allege His own word when He said, I and the Father are one, let him attend to the fact, and understand that He did not say, I and the Father am one, but are one. For the word are is not said of one person, but it refers to two persons, and one power. He has Himself made this clear, when He spoke to His Father concerning the disciplesThe glory which You gave me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and You in me, that they may be made perfect in one; that the world may know that You have sent me. What have the Noetians to say to these things? Are all one body in respect of substance, or is it that we become one in the power and disposition of unity of mind? In the same manner the Son, who was sent and was not known of those who are in the world, confessed that He was in the Father in power and disposition. For the Son is the one mind of the Father. We who have the Father’s mind believe so (in Him); but they who have it not have denied the Son. And if, again, they choose to allege the fact that Philip inquired about the Father, saying, Show us the Father, and it suffices us, to whom the Lord made answer in these terms: Have I been so long time with you, and yet have you not known me, Philip? He that has seen me has seen the Father. Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?  and if they choose to maintain that their dogma is ratified by this passage, as if He owned Himself to be the Father, let them know that it is decidedly against them, and that they are confuted by this very word. For though Christ had spoken of Himself, and showed Himself among all as the Son, they had not yet recognised Him to be such, neither had they been able to apprehend or contemplate His real power. And Philip, not having been able to receive this, as far as it was possible to see it, requested to behold the Father. To whom then the Lord said, Philip, have I been so long time with you, and yet have you not known me? He that has seen me has seen the Father. By which He means, If you have seen me, you may know the Father through me. For through the image, which is like (the original), the Father is made readily known. But if you have not known the image, which is the Son, how do you seek to see the Father? And that this is the case is made clear by the rest of the chapter, which signifies that the Son who has been set forth was sent from the Father, and goes to the Father.

8. Many other passages, or rather all of them, attest the truth. A man, therefore, even though he will it not, is compelled to acknowledge God the Father Almighty, and Christ Jesus the Son of God, who, being God, became man, to whom also the Father made all things subject, Himself excepted, and the Holy Spirit; and that these, therefore, are three. But if he desires to learn how it is shown still that there is one God, let him know that His power is one. As far as regards the power, therefore, God is one. But as far as regards the economy there is a threefold manifestation, as shall be proved afterwards when we give account of the true doctrine. In these things, however, which are thus set forth by us, we are at one. For there is one God in whom we must believe, but unoriginated, impassible, immortal, doing all things as He wills, in the way He wills, and when He wills. What, then, will this Noetus, who knows nothing of the truth, dare to say to these things? And now, as Noetus has been confuted, let us turn to the exhibition of the truth itself, that we may establish the truth, against which all these mighty heresies have arisen without being able to state anything to the purpose.

9. There is, brethren, one God, the knowledge of whom we gain from the Holy Scriptures, and from no other source. For just as a man, if he wishes to be skilled in the wisdom of this world, will find himself unable to get at it in any other way than by mastering the dogmas of philosophers, so all of us who wish to practice piety will be unable to learn its practice from any other quarter than the oracles of God. Whatever things, then, the Holy Scriptures declare, at these let us took; and whatsoever things they teach, these let us learn; and as the Father wills our belief to be, let us believe; and as He wills the Son to be glorified, let us glorify Him; and as He wills the Holy Spirit to be bestowed, let us receive Him. Not according to our own will, nor according to our own mind, nor yet as using violently those things which are given by God, but even as He has chosen to teach them by the Holy Scriptures, so let us discern them.

10. God, subsisting alone and having nothing contemporaneous with Himself, is determined to create the world. And conceiving the world in mind, and willing and uttering the word, He made it, and straightway it appeared, formed as it had pleased Him. For us, then, it is sufficient simply to know that there was nothing contemporaneous with God. Beside Him there was nothing; but He, while existing alone, yet existed in plurality. For He was neither without reason, nor wisdom, nor power, nor counsel And all things were in Him, and He was the All. When He willed, and as He willed, He manifested His word in the times determined by Him, and by Him, He made all things. When He wills, He does; and when He thinks, He executes; and when He speaks, He manifests; when He fashions, He contrives in wisdom. For all things that are made He forms by reason and wisdom — creating them in reason, and arranging them in wisdom. He made them, then, as He pleased, for He was God. And as the Author, and fellow-Counsellor, and Framer of the things that are in formation, He begot the Word; and as He bears this Word in Himself, and that, too, as (yet) invisible to the world which is created, He makes Him visible; (and) uttering the voice first, and begetting Him as Light of Light, He set Him forth to the world as its Lord, (and) His own mind; and whereas He was visible formerly to Himself alone, and invisible to the world which is made, He makes Him visible in order that the world might see Him in His manifestation, and be capable of being saved.

11. And thus there appeared another beside Himself. But when I say another, I do not mean that there are two Gods, but that it is only as light of light, or as water from a fountain, or as a ray from the sun. For there is but one power, which is from the All; and the Father is the All, from whom comes this Power, the Word. And this is the mind which came forth into the world, and was manifested as the Son of God. All things, then, are by Him, and He alone is of the Father. Who then adduces a multitude of gods brought in, time after time? For all are shut up, however unwillingly, to admit this fact, that the All runs up into one. If, then, all things run up into one, even according to Valentinus, and Marcion, and Cerinthus, and all their fooleries, they are also reduced, however unwillingly, to this position, that they must acknowledge that the One is the cause of all things. Thus, then, these too, though they wish it not, fall in with the truth, and admit that one God made all things according to His good pleasure. And He gave the law and the prophets; and in giving them, He made them speak by the Holy Ghost, in order that, being gifted with the inspiration of the Father’s power, they might declare the Father’s counsel and will.

12. Acting then in these (prophets), the Word spoke of Himself. For already He became His own herald, and showed that the Word would be manifested among men. And for this reason He cried thus: I am made manifest to them that sought me not; I am found of them that asked not for me. And who is He that is made manifest but the Word of the Father? — whom the Father sent, and in whom He showed to men the power proceeding from Him. Thus, then, was the Word made manifest, even as the blessed John says. For he sums up the things that were said by the prophets, and shows that this is the Word, by whom all things were made. For he speaks to this effect: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made. And beneath He says, The world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not; He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. If, then, said he, the world was made by Him, according to the word of the prophetBy the Word of the Lord were the heavens made, then this is the Word that was also made manifest. We accordingly see the Word incarnate, and we know the Father by Him, and we believe in the Son, (and) we worship the Holy Spirit. Let us then look at the testimony of Scripture. with respect to the announcement of the future manifestation of the Word.

13. Now Jeremiah says, Who has stood in the counsel of the Lord, and has perceived His Word?  But the Word of God alone is visible, while the word of man is audible. When he speaks of seeing the Word, I must believe that this visible (Word) has been sent. And there was none other (sent) but the Word. And that He was sent Peter testifies, when he says to the centurion Cornelius: God sent His Word unto the children of Israel by the preaching of Jesus Christ. This is the God who is Lord of all. If, then, the Word is sent by Jesus Christ, the will of the Father is Jesus Christ.

14. These things then, brethren, are declared by the Scriptures. And the blessed John, in the testimony of his Gospel, gives us an account of this economy (disposition) and acknowledges this Word as God, when he says, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. If, then, the Word was with God, and was also God, what follows? Would one say that he speaks of two Gods? I shall not indeed speak of two Gods, but of one; of two Persons however, and of a third economy (disposition), viz., the grace of the Holy Ghost. For the Father indeed is One, but there are two Persons, because there is also the Son; and then there is the third, the Holy Spirit. The Father decrees, the Word executes, and the Son is manifested, through whom the Father is believed on. The economy of harmony is led back to one God; for God is One. It is the Father who commands, and the Son who obeys, and the Holy Spirit who gives understanding: the Father who is above all, and the Son who is through all, and the Holy Spirit who is in all. And we cannot otherwise think of one God, but by believing in truth in Father and Son and Holy Spirit. For the Jews glorified (or gloried in) the Father, but gave Him not thanks, for they did not recognise the Son. The disciples recognised the Son, but not in the Holy Ghost; wherefore they also denied Him. The Father’s Word, therefore, knowing the economy (disposition) and the will of the Father, to wit, that the Father seeks to be worshipped in none other way than this, gave this charge to the disciples after He rose from the dead: Go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. And by this He showed, that whosoever omitted any one of these, failed in glorifying God perfectly. For it is through this Trinity that the Father is glorified. For the Father willed, the Son did, the Spirit manifested. The whole Scriptures, then, proclaim this truth.

15. But some one will say to me, You adduce a thing strange to me, when you call the Son the Word. For John indeed speaks of the Word, but it is by a figure of speech. Nay, it is by no figure of speech. For while thus presenting this Word that was from the beginning, and has now been sent forth, he said below in the Apocalypse, And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and He that sat upon him (was) Faithful and True; and in righteousness He does judge and make war. And His eyes (were) as flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns; and He had a name written that no man knew but He Himself. And He (was) clothed in a vesture dipped in blood: and His name is called the Word of God. See then, brethren, how the vesture sprinkled with blood denoted in symbol the flesh, through which the impassible Word of God came under suffering, as also the prophets testify to me. For thus speaks the blessed Micah: The house of Jacob provoked the Spirit of the Lord to anger. These are their pursuits. Are not His words good with them, and do they walk rightly? And they have risen up in enmity against His countenance of peace, and they have stripped off His glory. That means His suffering in the flesh. And in like manner also the blessed Paul says, For what the law could not do, in that it was weak, God, sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the law might be shown in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. What Son of His own, then, did God send through the flesh but the Word, whom He addressed as Son because He was to become such (or be begotten) in the future? And He takes the common name for tender affection among men in being called the Son. For neither was the Word, prior to incarnation and when by Himself, yet perfect Son, although He was perfect Word, only-begotten. Nor could the flesh subsist by itself apart from the Word, because it has its subsistence in the Word. Thus, then, one perfect Son of God was manifested.

16. And these indeed are testimonies bearing on the incarnation of the Word; and there are also very many others. But let us also look at the subject in hand — namely, the question, brethren, that in reality the Father’s power, which is the Word, came down from heaven, and not the Father Himself. For thus He speaks: I came forth from the Father, and have come. Now what subject is meant in this sentence, I came forth from the Father, but just the Word? And what is it that is begotten of Him, but just the Spirit, that is to say, the Word? But you will say to me, How is He begotten? In your own case you can give no explanation of the way in which you were begotten, although you see every day the cause according to man; neither can you tell with accuracy the economy in His case. For you have it not in your power to acquaint yourself with the practiced and indescribable art (method) of the Maker, but only to see, understand, and believe that man is God’s work. Moreover, you are asking for an account of the generation of the Word, whom God the Father in His good pleasure begot as He willed. Is it not enough for you to learn that God made the world, but do you also venture to ask whence He made it? Is it not enough for you to learn that the Son of God has been manifested to you for salvation if you believe, but do you also inquire curiously how He was begotten after the Spirit? No more than two, in truth, have been put in trust to give the account of His generation after the flesh; and are you then so bold as to seek the account (of His generation) after the Spirit, which the Father keeps with Himself, intending to reveal it then to the holy ones and those worthy of seeing His face? Rest satisfied with the word spoken by Christ, viz., That which is born of the Spirit is spirit, just as, speaking by the prophet of the generation of the Word, He shows the fact that He is begotten, but reserves the question of the manner and means, to reveal it only in the time determined by Himself. For He speaks thus: From the womb, before the morning star, I have begotten You.

17. These testimonies are sufficient for the believing who study truth, and the unbelieving credit no testimony. For the Holy Spirit, indeed, in the person of the apostles, has testified to this, saying, And who has believed our report?  Therefore let us not prove ourselves unbelieving, lest the word spoken be fulfilled in us. Let us believe then, dear brethren, according to the tradition of the apostles, that God the Word came down from heaven, (and entered) into the holy Virgin Mary, in order that, taking the flesh from her, and assuming also a human, by which I mean a rational soul, and becoming thus all that man is with the exception of sin, He might save fallen man, and confer immortality on men who believe in His name. In all, therefore, the word of truth is demonstrated to us, to wit, that the Father is One, whose word is present (with Him), by whom He made all things; whom also, as we have said above, the Father sent forth in later times for the salvation of men. This (Word) was preached by the law and the prophets as destined to come into the world. And even as He was preached then, in the same manner also did He come and manifest Himself, being by the Virgin and the Holy Spirit made a new man; for in that He had the heavenly (nature) of the Father, as the Word and the earthly (nature), as taking to Himself the flesh from the old Adam by the medium of the Virgin, He now, coming forth into the world, was manifested as God in a body, coming forth too as a perfect man. For it was not in mere appearance or by conversion, but in truth, that He became man.

18. Thus then, too, though demonstrated as God, He does not refuse the conditions proper to Him as man, since He hungers and toils and thirsts in weariness, and flees in fear, and prays in trouble. And He who as God has a sleepless nature, slumbers on a pillow. And He who for this end came into the world, begs off from the cup of suffering. And in an agony He sweats blood, and is strengthened by an angel, who Himself strengthens those who believe in Him, and taught men to despise death by His work. And He who knew what manner of man Judas was, is betrayed by Judas. And He, who formerly was honoured by him as God, is contemned by Caiaphas. And He is set at nought by Herod, who is Himself to judge the whole earth. And He is scourged by Pilate, who took upon Himself our infirmities. And by the soldiers He is mocked, at whose behest stand thousands of thousands and myriads of myriads of angels and archangels. And He who fixed the heavens like a vault is fastened to the cross by the Jews. And He who is inseparable from the Father cries to the Father, and commends to Him His spirit; and bowing His head, He gives up the ghost, who said, I have the power to lay down my life, and I have the power to take it again;  and because He was not overmastered by death, as being Himself Life, He said this: I lay it down of myself. And He who gives life bountifully to all, has His side pierced with a spear. And He who raises the dead is wrapped in linen and laid in a sepulcher, and on the third day He is raised again by the Father, though Himself the Resurrection and the Life. For all these things has He finished for us, who for our sakes was made as we are. For Himself has borne our infirmities, and carried our diseases; and for our sakes, He was afflicted, as Isaiah the prophet has said. This is He who was hymned by the angels, and seen by the shepherds, and waited for by Simeon and witnessed to by Anna. This is He who was inquired after by the wise men, and indicated by the star; He who was engaged in His Father’s house, and pointed to by John, and witnessed to by the Father from above in the voice, This is my beloved Son; hear Him. He is crowned victor against the devil. This is Jesus of Nazareth, who was invited to the marriage-feast in Cana, and turned the water into wine, and rebuked the sea when agitated by the violence of the winds, and walked on the deep as on dry land, and caused the blind man from birth to see, and raised Lazarus to life after he had been dead four days, and did many mighty works, and forgave sins, and conferred power on the disciples, and had blood and water flowing from His sacred side when pierced with the spear. For His sake the sun is darkened, the day has no light, the rocks are shattered, the veil is rent, the foundations of the earth are shaken, the graves are opened, and the dead are raised, and the rulers are ashamed when they see the Director of the universe upon the cross closing His eye and giving up the ghost. Creation saw, and was troubled; and, unable to bear the sight of His exceeding glory, shrouded itself in darkness. This (is He who) breathes upon the disciples, and gives them the Spirit, and comes in among them when the doors are shut, and is taken up by a cloud into the heavens while the disciples gaze at Him, and is set down on the right hand of the Father, and comes again as the Judge of the living and the dead. This is the God who for our sakes became man, to whom also the Father has put all things in subjection. To Him be the glory and the power, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, in the holy Church both now and ever, and even for evermore. Amen.

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Source. Translated by J.H. MacMahon. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 5. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0521.htm&gt;.

Contact information. The editor of New Advent is Kevin Knight. My email address is feedback732 at newadvent.org. (To help fight spam, this address might change occasionally.) Regrettably, I can’t reply to every letter, but I greatly appreciate your feedback — especially notifications about typographical errors and inappropriate ads.

UIODG

CONTEMPLATIVE READING: Growing deeper through the Word.

Reading a phone book (do those still exist?) provides me with information about how to communicate with another person if they are in the phone book. Reading Sacred Scriptures is unlike reading any other book. Because it is God’s Word, authorized through the Church Universal, it is from God. As such, like Lectio Divina and Liturgy of the Hours, we find ourselves taking into our minds and hearts that which is dynamic and pure energy. Granted, each of us assimilates this Love according to our capacity (capacitas dei). My Lay Cistercian practices and charisms are all designed to place me in the real presence of Christ, and the rest is up to me. God’s grace and energy are a constant flow. My reception is not. Here is how I do spiritual reading, although I apply it to all my Cistercian practices. I practice this Cistercian way mostly at home because I am 82+ and have problems remembering if I took my medicine sometimes.

FIRST READING: READ OR LISTEN TO THE WORD

I nearly always try to proceed with any prayer with fifteen minutes of reflection to prepare my upper room (Matthew 6:5) to host my friends, The Trinity. I am mindful of St. Benedict’s admonition to his monks about humility in Chapter Seven, First Step in being humble: Fear of the Lord. I ask Jesus to have mercy on me, a sinner, not worthy to sit in the presence of a God I have never seen, nor can I fathom who I seek as my center. Then, I stop and clear my mind and wait.

In silence and solitude, both externally and internally, I read the Scriptures, now realizing that I will encounter the transformative Word within human words. Philippians 2:5-12. I wait and slowly read the first passage, which, for example, is one of my favorites and happens to be my center. Here it is for you to read.

Plea for Unity and Humility.*

1If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy,

2complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing.a

3Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves,b

4each looking out not for his own interests, but [also] everyone for those of others.c

5Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus,*

6Who,* though he was in the form of God,d

did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.*

7Rather, he emptied himself,

taking the form of a slave,

coming in human likeness;*

and found human in appearance,e

8he humbled himself,f

becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.*

9Because of this, God greatly exalted him

and bestowed on him the name*

that is above every name,g

10that at the name of Jesus

every knee should bend,*

of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,h

11and every tongue confess that

Jesus Christ is Lord,*

to the glory of God the Father.i

Obedience and Service in the World.*

12j So then, my beloved, obedient as you have always been, not only when I am present but all the more now when I am absent, work out your salvation with fear and trembling.*

13For God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work.k

14Do everything without grumbling or questioning,l

15that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation,* among whom you shine like lights in the world,m

16as you hold on to the word of life, so that my boast for the day of Christ may be that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.n

17But, even if I am poured out as a libation* upon the sacrificial service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with all of you.o

18In the same way you also should rejoice and share your joy with me.p

Read it slowly one time, stop and reflect on what you read. Can you think of one thing that impressed you?

SECOND READING: Pray the Word

Don’t hurry. Take your time for five minutes to just wait in the presence of Christ using the power of the Holy Spirit. Remember, silence is spoken in your upper room.

Reread this passage; only this time, think of it as a prayer that Christ gave you. Abandon any thoughts you have about what this means. Wait for what Christ says.

THIRD READING: Share the Word

Reread this passage. This time try to move it from your head to your heart. Your head wants to know about it and to place it in neat categories, like, “just say the prayer.” Sharing in this stage means to stop to look at Christ in the chair next to you and ask Him questions. The sharing is not with other human beings but with Jesus Christ, fully human, fully divine, and your friend. Don’t put words in Christ’s mouth. Listen “with the ear of the heart,” as St. Benedict suggests.

FOURTH READING: Be what you have read, prayed, and shared.

When Christ is ready, begin. This is the area of transformation, where you become what you read. It is not you who chose me, says Christ, I have chosen you. The purpose of my spiritual life is to be more like Christ and less like me. I can only do this by waiting in the presence of Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit and listening. Jesus speaks through energy, which is the way of Love. The Holy Spirit speaks through energy, which is the truth of Hope. We all approach the Father, the Life of Faith, through, with, and in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. This fourth reading sheds all the assumptions I have and all the hidden agendas I have built up over my lifetime. The lower nature (human) assumes, the higher nature as it is capable. Being in the presence of Christ for me is not just the horizontal time I spend in private or public prayer; it extends the scope of prayer to include my whole day. As a retired broken-down, old Lay Cistercian, I have time to pray. I could spend that time watching the plastic flowers grow or watching Bishop Barron’s YouTube. Whatever I do, I seek God, and that is a prayer. St. Benedict’s dictum rings true: “That in all things, may God be glorified.” This is not only praying daily; my day is a prayer itself to the Father in reparation for my sins and failure to see Christ. Hindsight can be a beast sometimes.

FIFTH READING: I become more like Christ. Changing dissonance of Original Sin into the resonance of Objective Truth.

I realize that I have had it wrong all these years. I don’t mean I was on the wrong track, but instead I emphasized what I could do for God through my reading or prayer. Now, through the painful process of conversio morae (daily conversion from my will to that of my will infused with God’s own will), I have come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah.

Conclusion.*

30Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of [his] disciples that are not written in this book.s

31But these are written that you may [come to] believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.t

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/john/20

The commentary at the end of this passage, as contained in the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) text, contains an explanation that I find helpful as my Faith is not just an accumulation of my past good or erroneous accomplishments but also what I anticipate to be my next challenge of mind and heart.

* [20:3031] These verses are clearly a conclusion to the gospel and express its purpose. While many manuscripts read come to believe, possibly implying a missionary purpose for John’s gospel, a small number of quite early ones read “continue to believe,” suggesting that the audience consists of Christians whose faith is to be deepened by the book; cf. Jn 19:35.

These five levels of growth in my prayer life have led me to a more profound love for Scripture and Tradition. Reading from Sacred Scriptures is the core of my spiritual awareness, but only if I grow beyond reading to being what the Scriptures say. As I understand it, tradition is the Church Universal reading these Scriptures and making comments down through the centuries. The early men and women in the Church (Church Fathers and Mothers) read this same passage I did and wrote about it.

If you want a spiritual experience that takes you to new levels of prayerfulness, read the following at http://www.newadvent.org.

NOTE: This is a long list. I just “pick and choose” from this for my Tradition Reading. Tradition is the writing of those who have read Sacred Scriptures and commented on them, the deliberations and authority of the Ecumenical Councils, and the writing of the Magisterium. This is the application of Sacred Scripture as each age unfolds.

Alexander of Alexandria [SAINT]
  – Epistles on the Arian Heresy and the Deposition of Arius

Alexander of Lycopolis
  – Of the Manicheans

Ambrose (340-397) [SAINT] [DOCTOR]
  – On the Christian Faith (De fide)
  – On the Holy Spirit
  – On the Mysteries
  – On Repentance
  – On the Duties of the Clergy
  – Concerning Virgins
  – Concerning Widows
  – On the Death of Satyrus
  – Memorial of Symmachus
  – Sermon against Auxentius
  – Letters

Aphrahat/Aphraates (c. 280-367)
  – Demonstrations

Archelaus
  – Acts of the Disputation with the Heresiarch Manes

Aristides the Philosopher
  – The Apology

Arnobius
  – Against the Heathen

Athanasius [SAINT] [DOCTOR]
  – Against the Heathen
  – On the Incarnation of the Word
  – Deposition of Arius
  – Statement of Faith
  – On Luke 10:22 (Matthew 11:27)
  – Circular Letter
  – Apologia Contra Arianos
  – De Decretis
  – De Sententia Dionysii
  – Vita S. Antoni (Life of St. Anthony)
  – Ad Episcopus Aegypti et Libyae
  – Apologia ad Constantium
  – Apologia de Fuga
  – Historia Arianorum
  – Four Discourses Against the Arians
  – De Synodis
  – Tomus ad Antiochenos
  – Ad Afros Epistola Synodica
  – Historia Acephala
  – Letters

Athenagoras
  – A Plea for the Christians
  – The Resurrection of the Dead

Augustine of Hippo [SAINT] [DOCTOR]
  – Confessions
  – Letters
  – City of God
  – Christian Doctrine
  – On the Holy Trinity
  – The Enchiridion
  – On the Catechising of the Uninstructed
  – On Faith and the Creed
  – Concerning Faith of Things Not Seen
  – On the Profit of Believing
  – On the Creed: A Sermon to Catechumens
  – On Continence
  – On the Good of Marriage
  – On Holy Virginity
  – On the Good of Widowhood
  – On Lying
  – To Consentius: Against Lying
  – On the Work of Monks
  – On Patience
  – On Care to be Had For the Dead
  – On the Morals of the Catholic Church
  – On the Morals of the Manichaeans
  – On Two Souls, Against the Manichaeans
  – Acts or Disputation Against Fortunatus the Manichaean
  – Against the Epistle of Manichaeus Called Fundamental
  – Reply to Faustus the Manichaean
  – Concerning the Nature of Good, Against the Manichaeans
  – On Baptism, Against the Donatists
  – Answer to Letters of Petilian, Bishop of Cirta
  – Merits and Remission of Sin, and Infant Baptism
  – On the Spirit and the Letter
  – On Nature and Grace
  – On Man’s Perfection in Righteousness
  – On the Proceedings of Pelagius
  – On the Grace of Christ, and on Original Sin
  – On Marriage and Concupiscence
  – On the Soul and its Origin
  – Against Two Letters of the Pelagians
  – On Grace and Free Will
  – On Rebuke and Grace
  – The Predestination of the Saints/Gift of Perseverance
  – Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount
  – The Harmony of the Gospels
  – Sermons on Selected Lessons of the New Testament
  – Tractates on the Gospel of John
  – Homilies on the First Epistle of John
  – Soliloquies
  – The Enarrations, or Expositions, on the Psalms

Bardesanes (154-222)
  – The Book of the Laws of Various Countries

Barnabas [SAINT]
  – Epistle of Barnabas

Basil the Great [SAINT] [DOCTOR]
  – De Spiritu Sancto
  – Nine Homilies of Hexaemeron
  – Letters

Caius
  – Fragments

Clement of Alexandria [SAINT]
  – Who is the Rich Man That Shall Be Saved?
  – Exhortation to the Heathen
  – The Instructor
  – The Stromata, or Miscellanies
  – Fragments

Clement of Rome [SAINT]
  – First Epistle
  – Second Epistle [SPURIOUS]
  – Two Epistles Concerning Virginity [SPURIOUS]
  – Recognitions [SPURIOUS]
  – Clementine Homilies [SPURIOUS]

Commodianus
  – Writings

Cyprian of Carthage [SAINT]
  – The Life and Passion of Cyprian By Pontius the Deacon
  – The Epistles of Cyprian
  – The Treatises of Cyprian
  – The Seventh Council of Carthage

Cyril of Jerusalem [SAINT] [DOCTOR]
  – Catechetical Lectures

Dionysius of Rome [SAINT]
  – Against the Sabellians

Dionysius the Great
  – Epistles and Epistolary Fragments
  – Exegetical Fragments
  – Miscellaneous Fragments

Ephraim the Syrian (306-373) [SAINT] [DOCTOR]
  – Nisibene Hymns
  – Miscellaneous Hymns — On the Nativity of Christ in the FleshFor the Feast of the Epiphany, and On the Faith (“The Pearl”)
  – Homilies — On Our LordOn Admonition and Repentance, and On the Sinful Woman

Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 265-c. 340)
  – Church History
  – Life of Constantine
  – Oration of Constantine “to the Assembly of the Saints”
  – Oration in Praise of Constantine
  – Letter on the Council of Nicaea

Gennadius of Marseilles
  – Illustrious Men (Supplement to Jerome)

Gregory the Great, Pope (c. 540-604) [SAINT] [DOCTOR]
  – Pastoral Rule
  – Register of Letters

Gregory Nazianzen [SAINT] [DOCTOR]
  – Orations
  – Letters

Gregory of Nyssa [SAINT]
  – Against Eunomius
  – Answer to Eunomius’ Second Book
  – On the Holy Spirit (Against the Followers of Macedonius)
  – On the Holy Trinity, and of the Godhead of the Holy Spirit (To Eustathius)
  – On “Not Three Gods” (To Ablabius)
  – On the Faith (To Simplicius)
  – On Virginity
  – On Infants’ Early Deaths
  – On Pilgrimages
  – On the Making of Man
  – On the Soul and the Resurrection
  – The Great Catechism
  – Funeral Oration on Meletius
  – On the Baptism of Christ (Sermon for the Day of Lights)
  – Letters

Gregory Thaumaturgus [SAINT]
  – A Declaration of Faith
  – A Metaphrase of the Book of Ecclesiastes
  – Canonical Epistle
  – The Oration and Panegyric Addressed to Origen
  – A Sectional Confession of Faith
  – On the Trinity
  – Twelve Topics on the Faith
  – On the Subject of the Soul
  – Four Homilies
  – On All the Saints
  – On Matthew 6:22-23

Hermas
  – The Pastor (or “The Shepherd”)

Hilary of Poitiers [SAINT] [DOCTOR]
  – On the Councils, or the Faith of the Easterns
  – On the Trinity
  – Homilies on the Psalms

Hippolytus [SAINT]
  – The Refutation of All Heresies
  – Some Exegetical Fragments of Hippolytus
  – Expository Treatise Against the Jews
  – Against Plato, On the Cause of the Universe
  – Against the Heresy of Noetus
  – Discourse on the Holy Theophany
  – The Antichrist
  – The End of the World (Pseudonymous)
  – The Apostles and the Disciples (Pseudonymous)

Ignatius of Antioch [SAINT]
  – Epistle to the Ephesians
  – Epistle to the Magnesians
  – Epistle to the Trallians
  – Epistle to the Romans
  – Epistle to the Philadelphians
  – Epistle to the Smyrnæans
  – Epistle to Polycarp
  – The Martyrdom of Ignatius
  – The Spurious Epistles

Irenaeus of Lyons [SAINT]
  – Adversus haereses
  – Fragments from the Lost Writings of Irenaeus

Jerome [SAINT] [DOCTOR]
  – Letters
  – The Perpetual Virginity of Blessed Mary
  – To Pammachius Against John of Jerusalem
  – The Dialogue Against the Luciferians
  – The Life of Malchus, the Captive Monk
  – The Life of S. Hilarion
  – The Life of Paulus the First Hermit
  – Against Jovinianus
  – Against Vigilantius
  – Against the Pelagians
  – Prefaces
  – De Viris Illustribus (Illustrious Men)
  – Apology for himself against the Books of Rufinus

John of Damascus [SAINT] [DOCTOR]
  – Exposition of the Faith

John Cassian (c. 360-c. 435)
  – Institutes
  – Conferences
  – On the Incarnation of the Lord (Against Nestorius)

John Chrysostom [SAINT] [DOCTOR]
  – Homilies on the Gospel of St. Matthew
  – Homilies on Acts
  – Homilies on Romans
  – Homilies on First Corinthians
  – Homilies on Second Corinthians
  – Homilies on Ephesians
  – Homilies on Philippians
  – Homilies on Colossians
  – Homilies on First Thessalonians
  – Homilies on Second Thessalonians
  – Homilies on First Timothy
  – Homilies on Second Timothy
  – Homilies on Titus
  – Homilies on Philemon
  – Commentary on Galatians
  – Homilies on the Gospel of John
  – Homilies on the Epistle to the Hebrews
  – Homilies on the Statues
  – No One Can Harm the Man Who Does Not Injure Himself
  – Two Letters to Theodore After His Fall
  – Letter to a Young Widow
  – Homily on St. Ignatius
  – Homily on St. Babylas
  – Homily Concerning “Lowliness of Mind”
  – Instructions to Catechumens
  – Three Homilies on the Power of Satan
  – Homily on the Passage “Father, if it be possible . . .”
  – Homily on the Paralytic Lowered Through the Roof
  – Homily on the Passage “If your enemy hunger, feed him.”
  – Homily Against Publishing the Errors of the Brethren
  – First Homily on Eutropius
  – Second Homily on Eutropius (After His Captivity)
  – Four Letters to Olympias
  – Letter to Some Priests of Antioch
  – Correspondence with Pope Innocent I
  – On the Priesthood

Julius Africanus
  – Extant Writings

Justin Martyr [SAINT]
  – First Apology
  – Second Apology
  – Dialogue with Trypho
  – Hortatory Address to the Greeks
  – On the Sole Government of God
  – Fragments of the Lost Work on the Resurrection
  – Miscellaneous Fragments from Lost Writings
  – Martyrdom of Justin, Chariton, and other Roman Martyrs
  – Discourse to the Greeks

Lactantius
  – The Divine Institutes
  – The Epitome of the Divine Institutes
  – On the Anger of God
  – On the Workmanship of God
  – Of the Manner In Which the Persecutors Died
  – Fragments of Lactantius
  – The Phoenix
  – A Poem on the Passion of the Lord

Leo the Great, Pope (c. 395-461) [SAINT] [DOCTOR]
  – Sermons
  – Letters

Malchion
  – Epistle

Mar Jacob (452-521)
  – Canticle on Edessa
  – Homily on Habib the Martyr
  – Homily on Guria and Shamuna

Mathetes
  – Epistle to Diognetus

Methodius
  – The Banquet of the Ten Virgins
  – Concerning Free Will
  – From the Discourse on the Resurrection
  – Fragments
  – Oration Concerning Simeon and Anna
  – Oration on the Psalms
  – Three Fragments from the Homily on the Cross and Passion of Christ

Minucius Felix
  – Octavius

Moses of Chorene (c. 400-c. 490)
  – History of Armenia

Novatian
  – Treatise Concerning the Trinity
  – On the Jewish Meats

Origen
  – De Principiis
  – Africanus to Origen
  – Origen to Africanus
  – Origen to Gregory
  – Against Celsus
  – Letter of Origen to Gregory
  – Commentary on the Gospel of John
  – Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew

Pamphilus [SAINT]
  – Exposition on the Acts of the Apostles

Papias [SAINT]
  – Fragments

Peter of Alexandria [SAINT]
  – The Genuine Acts
  – The Canonical Epistle
  – Fragments

Polycarp [SAINT]
  – Epistle to the Philippians
  – The Martyrdom of Polycarp

Rufinus
  – Apology
  – Commentary on the Apostles’ Creed
  – Prefaces and Other Works

Socrates Scholasticus (c. 379-c. 450)
  – Ecclesiastical History

Sozomen (c. 375-c. 447)
  – Ecclesiastical History

Sulpitius Severus (c. 363-c. 420)
  – On the Life of St. Martin
  – Letters — Genuine and Dubious
  – Dialogues
  – Sacred History

Tatian
  – Address to the Greeks
  – Fragments
  – The Diatessaron

Tertullian
  – The Apology
  – On Idolatry
  – De Spectaculis (The Shows)
  – De Corona (The Chaplet)
  – To Scapula
  – Ad Nationes
  – An Answer to the Jews
  – The Soul’s Testimony
  – A Treatise on the Soul
  – The Prescription Against Heretics
  – Against Marcion
  – Against Hermogenes
  – Against the Valentinians
  – On the Flesh of Christ
  – On the Resurrection of the Flesh
  – Against Praxeas
  – Scorpiace
  – Appendix (Against All Heresies)
  – On Repentance
  – On Baptism
  – On Prayer
  – Ad Martyras
  – The Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicity (Sometimes attributed to Tertullian)
  – Of Patience
  – On the Pallium
  – On the Apparel of Women
  – On the Veiling of Virgins
  – To His Wife
  – On Exhortation to Chastity
  – On Monogamy
  – On Modesty
  – On Fasting
  – De Fuga in Persecutione

Theodoret
  – Counter-Statements to Cyril’s 12 Anathemas against Nestorius
  – Ecclesiastical History
  – Dialogues (“Eranistes” or “Polymorphus”)
  – Demonstrations by Syllogism
  – Letters

Theodotus
  – Excerpts

Theophilus
  – Theophilus to Autolycus

Venantius
  – Poem on Easter

Victorinus [SAINT]
  – On the Creation of the World
  – Commentary on the Apocalypse of the Blessed John

Vincent of Lérins (d. c. 450) [SAINT]
  – Commonitory for the Antiquity and Universality of the Catholic Faith

OTHER WORKS

Liturgies
  – The Liturgy of James
  – The Liturgy of Mark
  – The Liturgy of the Blessed Apostles

Councils
  – Carthage under Cyprian (257) [LOCAL]
  – Ancyra (314) [LOCAL]
  – Neocaesarea (315) [LOCAL]
  – Nicaea I (325) [ECUMENICAL]
  – Antioch in Encaeniis (341) [LOCAL]
  – Gangra (343) [LOCAL]
  – Sardica (344) [LOCAL]
  – Constantinople I (381) [ECUMENICAL]
  – Constantinople (382) [LOCAL]
  – Laodicea (390) [LOCAL]
  – Constantinople under Nectarius (394) [LOCAL]
  – Carthage (419) [LOCAL]
  – Ephesus (431) [ECUMENICAL]
  – Chalcedon (451) [ECUMENICAL]
  – Constantinople II (553) [ECUMENICAL]
  – Constantinople III (680) [ECUMENICAL]
  – Constantinople/”Trullo”/Quinisext (692) [LOCAL]
  – Nicaea II (787) [ECUMENICAL]

Apocrypha
  – Apocalypse of Peter (c. 130)
  – Protoevangelium of James (c. 150)
  – Acts of Paul and Thecla (c. 180)
  – Gospel of Peter (c. 190) [DOCETIC]
  – The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs (c. 192) [EBIONITIC]
  – Acts of Peter and Paul (c. 200)
  – Gospel of Thomas (c. 200) [GNOSTIC]
  – Acts of Thomas (c. 240) [GNOSTIC]
  – Acts of Thaddaeus (c. 250)
  – Acts of Andrew (c. 260) [GNOSTIC]
  – Acts of Xanthippe and Polyxena (c. 270)
  – Acts of John [DOCETIC]
  – Acts of Philip (c. 350)
  – Apocalypse of Paul (c. 380)
  – Gospel of Nicodemus (Including “Acta Pilati”) (c. 150-400)
  – The Doctrine of Addai (c. 400) — This is a Syriac version of the earlier Acts of Thaddaeus (s.v.)
  – Assumption of Mary (c. 400)
  – History of Joseph the Carpenter (c. 400)
  – Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew (c. 400)
  – Acts of Barnabas (c. 500)
  – Acts of Bartholomew (c. 500) [NESTORIAN]
  – Acts and Martyrdom of St. Matthew the Apostle (c. 550) [ABYSSINIAN]
  – Arabic Gospel of the Infancy of the Saviour (c. 600)
  – Avenging of the Saviour (c. 700)
  – Apocalypse of John (unknown date; late)
  – Apocalypse of Moses (unknown date) [JUDAISTIC]
  – Apocalypse of Esdras (unknown date) [JUDAISTIC]
  – Testament of Abraham (unknown date) [JUDAISTIC]
  – Narrative of Zosimus (unknown date)
  – Gospel of the Nativity of Mary (unknown date; late)
  – Narrative of Joseph of Arimathea (unknown date; late)
  – Report of Pontius Pilate (unknown date; late)
  – Letter of Pontius Pilate (unknown date; late)
  – Giving Up of Pontius Pilate (unknown date; late)
  – Death of Pilate (unknown date; late)
  – Apocalypse of the Virgin (unknown date; very late)
  – Apocalypse of Sedrach (unknown date; very late)
  – Acts of Andrew and Matthias
  – Acts of Peter and Andrew
  – Consummation of Thomas the Apostle

Miscellaneous
  – The Didache (c. 100)
  – Apostolic Constitutions (c. 400)
  – The Legend of Barlaam and Josaphat
  – The Passion of the Scillitan Martyrs (c. 180)
  – A Treatise Against the Heretic Novatian (c. 255)
  – A Treatise on Re-Baptism (c. 255)
  – Remains of the Second and Third Centuries (various dates)
  – Apostolic Canons (c. 400) — See Apostolic Constitutions, Book VIII, Chapter 47
  – Acts of Sharbil (unknown date) [SYRIAC]
  – The Martyrdom of Barsamya (unknown date) [SYRIAC]
  – Extracts from Various Books Concerning Abgar the King and Addaeus the Apostle (unknown date) [SYRIAC]
  – The Teaching of the Apostles (unknown date) [SYRIAC]
  – The Teaching of Simon Cephas in the City of Rome (unknown date) [SYRIAC]
  – Martyrdom of Habib the Deacon (unknown date) [SYRIAC]
  – Martyrdom of the Holy Confessors Shamuna, Guria, and Habib (unknown date) [SYRIAC]
  – A Letter of Mara, Son of Serapion (unknown date) [SYRIAC]
  – Ambrose (unknown date) [SYRIAC]
  – The False Decretals (c. 850)

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THE FAILURE TO REPLACE NEW SKINS: ARE YOU ILLITERATE IN YOUR CONTEMPLATIVE SPIRITUALITY?

One of the sad commentaries of any time in human history comes when we explore reality around us and find that many people are illiterate in their spirituality, particularly their contemplative spirituality.

Can you answer these six questions? Take your time. You have between now and when you die to answer them correctly. Remember, objective truth comes from knowing the way and practicing authentic life. The Christ Principle is your key to unlocking the mysteries (not the secrets) of what it means to be fully human as nature intended.

A theme reoccurring in my waking moments is new wine needing new skins to keep from spoiling. Where do I find how to create new skins to keep the new wine from turning into vinegar? Applied to the spiritual universe, how can I make all things new?

At the heart of my own search for reality comes the realization that nothing I can conjure up in my physical or mental universe will lead me to be able to fulfill my destiny as a human being. Only meaning outside of myself and physical reality has the energy to help me both ask and answer authentic questions about what is the truth about what is reality.

Catholics keep knocking their heads against the wall, trying to pass on their Faith heritage to their young. From all the cases I can see, including my family, this has not worked as I would have liked. Why? Part of the answer I have uncovered is sharing the philosophical questions and answers with those we care about and showing others how to use the tools needed to transform their lives from one stage into something more. Spiritual and contemplative illiteracy means most Catholics don’t know how to grow deeper into Christ Jesus (capacitas dei) or to make new wineskins from the boredom of being human. Where do you find the answers to crucial life questions, and how do these answers stack up against what is true and accurate? There are answers out there if you know where to look.

Take the spiritual illiteracy test if you are so inclined. I will not put my answers in this blog but another one, and I think the authentic answers are from the Christ Principle.

What is the purpose of life? (A sentence or two, a Scripture reference, or a few words of meaning will do.)

What is the purpose of my life? (Using what you put as your first answer, answer the second question based on your first question’s response.)

What does reality look like? (Draw a picture or place three or four words there.)

How does it all fit together? (Is there a template you use to show how science, philosophy, and religion fit together?)

How can I love fiercely?

You know you are going to die; now what? (Using the five questions above, what next?)

How do you know your answers are correct? Are all these just subjective opinions, and all opinions are right (which means all of them cannot be true)?

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NEW SKINS FOR NEW WINE: A DISCUSSION ABOUT OBJECTIVE AND SUBJECTIVE TRUTH

In one of my more adventuresome forays into the world of Internet space, I happened to stumble onto a site called Quora.com. Interesting site where people give questions and invite others to answer. There is a wide diversity of questions, but those Atheists question the existence of God because there is no.
“proof” caught my eye. I no longer go to this website, not because it is not interesting. It is fascinating. Rather, it is like the Mirror of Erisade in the Harry Potter Films. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ck4Bk6SKO7o

Many people, obviously those who only believe in the visible reality and some dimensions of the invisible one, demand proof. They assume that the proof they seek is scientific proof, whatever that is, to SHOW them that God exists. It is very much similar to the archetypal encounter of Christ with Thomas. This is the classic dilemma: “I need to see it to believe it.” In truth, we humans have to see it to believe it, even atheists, agnostics, and even most Catholics. We demand a sign or a miracle to know what we believe is objectively true. Scripture has mentioned these signs. Measure that against the modern mantra of relativism that touts that everyone has the right to their opinion, so your opinion must be the truth or right.

I respect those atheists and agnostics for their tenacity to think something does not exist because it can’t be scientifically proven (to their satisfaction). In this context of mixed metaphors and shady logic, I had a Lectio Divina meditation (Philippians 2:5) questioning my belief. (Guess where that originated?)

The Demand for a Sign.*

38Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, “Teacher,* we wish to see a sign from you.”u

39He said to them in reply, “An evil and unfaithful* generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet.

40Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights,* so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights.

41* At the judgment, the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and there is something greater than Jonah here.

42At the judgment the queen of the south will arise with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and there is something greater than Solomon here.v

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/matthew/12

The Demand for a Sign.

1* a The Pharisees and Sadducees came and, to test him, asked him to show them a sign from heaven.

2* He said to them in reply, “[In the evening you say, ‘Tomorrow will be fair, for the sky is red’;

3b and, in the morning, ‘Today will be stormy, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to judge the appearance of the sky, but you cannot judge the signs of the times.]

4c An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah.”* Then he left them and went away.

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/matthew/16

My observations about the sign of Jonah are ones of contradiction. You must die to yourself to rise to new life in Christ. At the core of what is true is not what you believe (the assent of the will to something outside yourself). Complicating truth is that because the key to making sense out of all of this is to apply The Christ Principle to life’s challenges, the answer we need to use is the opposite of what the world tells us is accurate. It sets the stage to examine one of the most controversial topics: “Who determines what is true?” I find this interesting because of my experience with Christ as The Way, The Truth, and the Life. I do not seek to prove to others that I need to prove anything about my approach to reality. Here are some of my assumptions about objective and subjective truth.

  1. Objective truth is unchanging and does not admit to additional adaptations. What some claim to be methodologies to determine scientific or logical inquiry that leads to objectivity is inadequate to discover authentic objective truth because they must change and adapt as new wine is discovered.
  2. All matter is corrupt (not morally) but has a beginning and an end. Within that framework, I pop in for the ride and seek to discover what is true about my humanity and thus fulfilling my destiny within that consigned parameter. This is not bad so much as it is consistent with time being the ongoing rush to seek its fulfillment in the end.
  3. What is true about my life is all I am responsible for; in this discussion, I must apply my reason and choice of what I determine is authentic reality. In the physical and mental universes, scientific inquiry seeks to find the truth about what exists in the visible world of matter, space, time, properties of matter, and celestial mechanics. I accept that methodology too, with the caveat that conclusions are subject to the Pluto effect, i.e., “we thought it was a planet but now know it is just a dwarf star, or is it an s planet?” The truth here is objective, with a caveat (based on what we now know). I use that approach as one of my three languages to look at reality. I do not mean to discount scientific inquiry to seeking the truth. My problem is that reality, like the iceberg, is composed more of what we don’t know than what we do. Scientific inquiry is an indispensable way to look at what is and make conclusions, but as objective as these conclusions seem, they still are part of the corruption of matter.
  4. In my question for objective truth, that which is true now, yesterday and tomorrow, I have applied my scientific inquiry to seek what is real and my spiritual approach. This is where most people find truth controversial. The actual objective truth is. The only place where that exists is divine nature, which is not a methodology but three persons, actual knowledge, true love, and accurate service, respectively.
  5. Most scientific inquiry, rightly so, wants to move away from giving anecdotes and opinions instead of facts. That is what I hold, except that science and all human knowledge about anything are not objective. In this context, Jesus, the Messiah, came to give us objective truth, the real deal. Christ tells his followers who believe in him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”
  6. Objective truth, or what the world says is objective truth is all subjective because it exists with the framework of the corruption of matter and mind (i.e., everything is subject to a beginning and end.)
  7. The only objective, immutable truth exists within the Divine Nature. Jesus became one of us because we cannot grasp what is valid with our human experiences. Even science is subject to more knowledge which changes the truth.
  8. Jesus, Son of God, Savior, tells us, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” If you count the Father and the Holy Spirit, truth is a person or persons.
  9. At Baptism, each of us is made an adopted son or daughter of the Father. That Father communicates to us through His Only-Begotten Son, with the energy of the Holy Spirit. The truth is knowledge and love are inspired by service to others. Christ has chosen us; we have not chosen Him. Having said that, our belief is our solidarity with all that has gone on before us in spirit and truth.
  10. Tradition is the Church Militant creating new skins to hold the new wine of Christ in each age. Only those authorized are allowed to prepare and distribute new skins. Behold, says Christ, I make all things new.

Last Supper Discourses.

1* “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith* in God; have faith also in me.

2In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?

3* And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.a

4Where [I] am going you know the way.”*

5Thomas said to him, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?”

6Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth* and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.b

7If you know me, then you will also know my Father.* From now on you do know him and have seen him.”c

8Philip said to him, “Master, show us the Father,* and that will be enough for us.”d

9Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?e

10Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works.f

11Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves.g

12Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father.h

13And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.i

14If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.

The Advocate.

15“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.j

16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate* to be with you always,k

17the Spirit of truth,* which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you.l

18I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.*

19In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live.m

20On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you.n

21Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”o

22Judas, not the Iscariot,* said to him, “Master, [then] what happened that you will reveal yourself to us and not to the world?”p

23Jesus answered and said to him, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.q

24Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me.

25“I have told you this while I am with you.

26The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name—he will teach you everything and remind you of all that [I] told you.r

27Peace* I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.s

28* You heard me tell you, ‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’t If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I.

29And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe.u

30I will no longer speak much with you, for the ruler of the world* is coming. He has no power over me,

31but the world must know that I love the Father and that I do just as the Father has commanded me. Get up, let us go.v

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/john/14
  • THE DIVINE NATURE — Objective knowledge (The Father), Objective love (The Son), and Objective service (The Holy Spirit). These three are one in divine nature. There are no subjective opinions, only pure truth. Humans can only know this truth as they have the capacity (capacitas dei) to listen to the Holy Spirit with the “ear of the heart.” This is the realm of permanent objectivity.
  • THE HUMAN NATURE — There is no objective truth in this nature, only subjective. Belief means you make use of your unique choice to choose this or that and choose one. We can make objective measures or equations, but they are subject to the corruption of matter and mind. Good, but not permanent. For those who freely accept the death of self and will and give this as a gift to God, what they receive back is the adoption as Sons and Daughters of the Father. With Christ, we have a choice, to be adopted sons or daughters of the Father or to go on our own. The choice has consequences that determine if we fulfill our destiny as human as nature intended. To say that Christ is our savior means he presented us with another option to that of the world. “31Jesus then said to those Jews who believed in him,*If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” t (Matthew 8:31-32)
  • THE ANIMAL NATURE — There is no objective or subjective choice here because all choices are informed by natural law. Truth is what nature is. The choice is the result of being what our nature intended. Butterflies are not wasps. Monkeys are not polar bears.

So, how can humans know anything true when only God is Truth personified? He shares his divinity through, with, and in Jesus Christ, our Messiah, who not only tells us (The Old Testament) but shows us (The New Testament) and tell us to love other as He has loved us. We love Christ as he loved us by sharing without judgment or conditions this truth with those who hate us, with those who persecute us, and even with those who are one with us in Baptism and Eucharist.

If someone tells me, “That’s just your opinion,” I respond, “Whose else would it be?” I find that Satan challenges me every day to give in to the three temptations that he gave to Christ (types of those challenges that stalk us as we traverse the path of righteousness in the midst of what the world professes is objective thinking and proof. Those values humans must try to acquire don’t need proof; they need Christ and the Holy Spirit to sustain us as we trod through the minefield we call existence.

I don’t want a God who stands far off in a realm I cannot even think objectively about or reach in my lifetime. I want a God who says, “I shared with you the essence of who I am as you can understand it, but you must work for it. I want a God who wants me to be an adopted son (daughter) of the Father and give of his divinity (Philippians 2:5-12) to take on the foibles of our humanity to show us the way, what is accurate, and what the life we must lead as adopted sons and daughters. We are not orphans of our humanity. The world cannot give us what we need to call Jesus Messiah or Abba (Father) or Come Holy Spirit; fill our hearts with your love, as we can receive it (capacitas dei).

THE FIVE FILTERS OF FAITH

Here are five filters I use to determine objective truth (while I live on earth). Again, my assumption is that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and my approach as a Catholic is the truth.

I am not just giving my opinion, which would indeed be just my opinion. I am making a choice of my will that the words of Christ are valid. There are many false teachers out there, and part of my ongoing discernment is to know which are true and which are not. The Christ Principle is the key, and here are the filters I use to know if my thoughts align with Christ’s.

FILTER ONE: The unbroken chair of how people in each age perceive Jesus. I only lived seventy or eighty years (actually, 82, so far), but I need an unbroken core of beliefs from the time of the Apostles and Pentecost to now. It must have scars and cuts on its way down through the centuries, some from popes, bishops, kings, princes, and those seeking reform by changing the core message. I don’t want to belong to a Church that has not battled Satan for twenty centuries and has no battle scars to prove it. My Church is composed of sinners, some of whom are elevated to Sainthood as examples of how they “…had in themselves in the mind of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5).

FILTER TWO: The sign of contradiction. Sometimes I think Jesus was out of his mind to choose humans to carry on the words that set us free from animality and rationality. Peter was the least likely to lead a Church as unformed and unsure of its purpose. What developed were collections of those who gathered in the name of the Lord to profess their Faith in, with, and through Christ in the Eucharistic celebration of the victory of the Resurrection. The Holy Spirit is with us, individually and collectively, those whose heritage of Faith is consistent back to the Apostles. All but one Apostle (John) was martyred. The first sixty Popes were martyrs for their beliefs. The price of discipleship is to die to yourself each day to place Christ as the center of your life. It is difficult to do and takes work.

FILTER THREE: The immutable direction of Tradition. Scripture has primacy in how I look at the truth. What exists between the cracks is Tradition, the lived choices of the Church as it wobbles down the centuries, trying to have in itself the mind of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 2:5) When I speak of Tradition, I mean the application of the Christ Principle in each age. Tradition does not move from 2022 back to Apostolic time but rather only from The Spirit of Truth (Pentecost) forward. As the Church careens down the ages, it takes unto itself that which is authentic but also those times it went off the path and followed The Golden Calf only to swerve again. Those who begin their religions after Aposoltic times have neither the Tradition (application of the Gospel to their issues) nor the accumulation of teachings about what the Gospel means and how to address current issues of the age to make them authentic.

FILTER FOUR — What is true now must have been true in the time of the Apostles and down through the centuries.

FILTER FIVE — What I believe must have been authorized down the gauntlet of time through the Ecumenical Councils.

When the Scriptures speak of the Holy Spirit protecting the Church (not from the error of human judgment or infallibility), it refers to the Spirit of Truth coming down to energize sinful humans with tongues of fire to keep Christ as its center.

THE THREE PRINCIPLES OF DIVINE NATURE

For nearly fifty years, I have attempted to grapple with the concept of God and where I fit into the Divine Economy. At age 72, I finally reached the age of reason when I became a Lay Cistercian of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit (Trappist) Monastery in Conyers, Georgia. I had lived a good life, albeit one lacking the perspective of spirituality that says I must die to my false self to obtain new wineskins to put the ever-new wine of daily living I receive from the Holy Spirit. In essence, I lived a life of what I thought it meant to be a follower of The Master, but now, I am fitting together all the pieces, slowly and surely. Like St. Paul, I still have a long way to go, but I know what I must do daily to have the mind of Christ Jesus in me. (Philippians 2:5). I take up my unique cross daily to see how to place myself in the upper room (Matthew 6:5) of my heart and wait.

While waiting in that room, a Lectio Divina meditation inspired me to come up with the idea that because I am an adopted son (daughter) of the Father, there are three principles that God has presented to humans to let them know how to become what their nature intended. Adam and Eve are spoiled by choice of their will over God’s will.

It just happened that I tripped over the chart below by Teilhard de Chardin in trying to use his system to better understand how I might become more human by using what God has communicated to humans about how to receive and maintain the adoption of a kingdom that is partially visible and primarily invisible (like the photo of an iceberg).

The chart above has a succession of ever more sophisticated progression, which I have called intelligent progression (because evolution causes some to shut down their critical skills process). These human evolution milestones begin with the creation point Alpha, but you will notice that the Omega Point has no end.

I observe three distinct points of Creation in this example. (Creation, Christ, and Pneumasphere or the Spirit). At each of these points, Creation moved forward with intelligent progression.

CREATION — This is the Genesis Principle. My thoughts are that in Creation (bottom left), God the Father created all that is (THE LIFE) and left His fingerprints on each atom and all matter to move towards an unseen destiny (Point Omega).

It is essential to realize that all of these human attempts to discover who we are as a race are the same rationale we have to reach for the stars. The difference is that spirituality looks at the other universe that is the key to unlocking the hidden realities of what it means to be human that has always been right in front of us.

CHRIST —– This is the Christ Principle; the stone rejected by builders has become the cornerstone. This Christ Principle is the template given to us by God to help us make sense of human nature and rationality that does not know how to measure invisible reality or to love others as God shows us how humans should do if there was no Original Sin. The Son (THE WAY) paid the price or ransom for the many and bought back our heritage by giving up, freely, his will to the Father as a pattern for us to follow.

The Christ Principle is the power in the kingdom of heaven for us to give glory to the Father through, with, and in Christ. In Eucharist, we tag along with Christ once again as he Ascends to the Father, taking along our imperfections, those failures of our to do God’s will instead of our own, and legitimizing our adoption again as heirs to the kingdom of heaven (on earth as it is in heaven). The problem I have when I face these three principles is to sustain my Faith to keep from sliding back into thinking God doesn’t matter and all this spirituality stuff is pointless. Lay Cistercian practices help me keep my focus each day on Christ Jesus by using those good works tools outlined in Chapter 4 of St. Benedict’s Rule. I recommend that you try to become what Chapter 4 embodies. https://christdesert.org/rule-of-st-benedict/chapter-4-the-tools-for-good-works/ “Prefer nothing to the love of Christ,” as St Benedict tells his monks.

Suppose you actually take The Christ Principle seriously. In that case, you are a pilgrim in a foreign country (on earth until you die) and need the food of Eucharist and Reconciliation to sustain you in the struggle. This is the rule of opposites. When atheists, agnostics, or even believing Catholics and others look at reality and do not know how to solve The Divine Equation (with the Christ Principle, you must die to self to be able to wake up and see that the spiritual universe is the opposite of what you live in as a pilgrim in a foreign land), they are essentially correct. It is a bunch of fairy tales and stories. The purpose of the Christ Principle is to translate that confusion and seduction by false teachers and prophets (Satan and those who subvert the message of Christ Crucified for one of cotton candy and convenience) into what will actually allow humans to be fully human as nature intended (before the Fall).

THE PNEUMASPHERE — The Principle of Pure Energy is the Spirit of TRUTH. I receive the Christ Principle and the Gift of the Holy Spirit at Baptism to sustain me in my daily endeavor to keep myself focused on The Christ Principle. This Holy Spirit helps me focus on Christ’s redemptive sacrifice and how I might share in those sufferings as reparation for my sins and failures.

St. Paul expresses this mysterious third level of heaven in 2 Corinthians.


I* must boast; not that it is profitable, but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord.

2 I know someone in Christ who, fourteen years ago (whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows), was caught up to the third heaven.

3 And I know that this person (whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows)

4 was caught up in Paradise and heard ineffable things, which no one may utter.a

5 About this person* I will boast, but about myself, I will not boast, except about my weaknesses.

6Although if I should wish to boast, I would not be foolish, for I would be telling the truth. But I refrain, so that no one may think more of me than what he sees in me or hears from me

7 because of the abundance of the revelations. Therefore, that I might not become too elated,* a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated.b

8Three times* I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me,c

9* but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses,* in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.d

10Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ;e for when I am weak, then I am strong.*

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/2corinthians/12

LEARNING POINTS

At the core of all three principles is the energy of God.

Humans can absorb this energy only insofar as they have the capacity.

Prayer (capacitas dei) and the Love of Christ cause us to grow in Jesus and get rid of our false selves.

Nothing happens with work.

The Teilhard de Chardin diagram helps me see the flow of intelligent progression from the beginning of time to my destiny in heaven.

Humility and Obedience to God’s will for me each day sustain me (most of the time).

I sit on the back bench of the Church, eyes lowered (Custos oculi) and repeating, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

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NEW SKINS FOR A BROKEN-DOWN, OLD TEMPLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

I won’t say I am an expert in anything except procrastination or forgetting my appointments. My Lectio Divina Reflections on Philippians 2:5 have recently been about the passage in the Scriptures, which speaks of new and old skins. Here it is for your reflection on Luke’s Gospel.

The Question About Fasting. o

33And they said to him, “The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and the disciples of the Pharisees do the same, but yours eat and drink.”

34* Jesus answered them, “Can you make the wedding guests* fast while the bridegroom is with them?

35But the days will come, and when the bridegroom is taken away from them, then they will fast in those days.”

36* And he also told them a parable. “No one tears a piece from a new cloak to patch an old one. Otherwise, he will tear the new and the piece from it will not match the old cloak.

37Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins, and it will be spilled, and the skins will be ruined.

38Rather, new wine must be poured into fresh wineskins.

39[And] no one who has been drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’”*

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/luke/5

An interesting observation about Luke’s account of the old and new wineskins is verse 39, which suggests that no one who drinks the old wine desires the new. I find that Luke’s statement, which does not appear in Matthew 9: 17 or Mark 2:22, is a spot-on commentary on what has always happened when humans take over the administration of the Church. The commentators I read (www.usccb.org) on these verses state that the old and new refer to the New and Old Testaments and how The Christ Principle is the new skins that hold His new wine, so it does not burst. But, even more striking to me is the awareness that this is not just the ripping of the veil in the temple when Christ dies and a line in the sand between the old skins and those who drink old wine was drawn, but that The Christ’s Principle is the new wine that flows from new skins provided by the Holy Spirit today, each day that I convert my will, once again, to that of the new instead of the old.

Those who are leaves on the tree of Christ produce new fruit only with new skins. In my view of reality, the key temptation is not sexual pleasure but the Devil using fractioning to separate those who believe from each other. Divine and conquer is the maxim. I support Pope Francis in his tenure as Captain of the barq of St. Peter, not because he may not make a mistake or two, but because the Holy Spirit chose Him to be the head of the body of Christ (militant) and to refocus ourselves with new skins. Don’t mess with the Holy Spirit. The Reformers down through the centuries did, and it produced unintended consequences.

Where do these new skins originate? Certainly, not from me or from my earthly citizenship in two universes (physical and mental). God’s stuff only comes from God’s divine nature. That is why I say, “For Thine is the power, and the kingdom, and the glory.” I give to the Father, through, with, and in Christ (in the Eucharist primarily and then through my other Lay Cistercian prayers) the only thing He does not have; my free will to say YES to the fulfillment of my humanity, to be an adopted son (daughter) of the Father. My response in humility (fear of the Lord) and daily conversion (obedience) to the will of the Father is made through, with, and in The Christ Principle; the only way my humanity (even my adoption) can approach that which humans cannot approach by themselves.

Christ is the new skin that holds his real presence, the new wine. Christ shares with us in the Eucharist his existence, body and blood, soul and divinity each time we receive Eucharist. My response is one of astonishment each day that I have the opportunity to see any of this with Faith’s eyes and respond to it through the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit. Not everyone sees this. Christ told us, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed.” I must pray daily and seek God each day as I am because pride might cause my fall from grace. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is my link to Jesus and making all things new.

I am looking at the orange tree in my front yard. It has on it over three hundred oranges ready for me to harvest. Each year, I get new fruit from the tree because it is new (even though it is aging). New fruit only comes from skins that are new.

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SCRIPTURAL READING: Sirach

Responsibilities to Parents*

1Children, listen to me, your father;

act accordingly, that you may be safe.

2For the Lord sets a father in honor over his children

and confirms a mother’s authority over her sons.

3Those who honor their father atone for sins;

4they store up riches who respect their mother.

5Those who honor their father will have joy in their own children,

and when they pray they are heard.

6Those who respect their father will live a long life;

those who obey the Lord honor their mother.

7Those who fear the Lord honor their father,

and serve their parents as masters.

8In word and deed honor your father,

that all blessings may come to you.a

9A father’s blessing gives a person firm roots,

but a mother’s curse uproots the growing plant.b

10Do not glory in your father’s disgrace,

for that is no glory to you!

11A father’s glory is glory also for oneself;

they multiply sin who demean their mother.c

12My son, be steadfast in honoring your father;

do not grieve him as long as he lives.d

13Even if his mind fails, be considerate of him;

do not revile him because you are in your prime.

14Kindness to a father will not be forgotten;

it will serve as a sin offering—it will take lasting root.

15In time of trouble it will be recalled to your advantage,

like warmth upon frost it will melt away your sins.

16Those who neglect their father are like blasphemers;

those who provoke their mother are accursed by their Creator.e

Humility*

17My son, conduct your affairs with humility,

and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts.

18Humble yourself the more, the greater you are,

and you will find mercy in the sight of God. f

20For great is the power of the Lord;

by the humble he is glorified.

21What is too sublime for you, do not seek;

do not reach into things that are hidden from you.g

22What is committed to you, pay heed to;

what is hidden is not your concern.

23In matters that are beyond you do not meddle,

when you have been shown more than you can understand.

24Indeed, many are the conceits of human beings;

evil imaginations lead them astray.

Docility*

25Without the pupil of the eye, light is missing;

without knowledge, wisdom is missing.

26A stubborn heart will fare badly in the end;

those who love danger will perish in it.

27A stubborn heart will have many a hurt;

adding sin to sin is madness.

28When the proud are afflicted, there is no cure;

for they are offshoots of an evil plant.h

29The mind of the wise appreciates proverbs,

and the ear that listens to wisdom rejoices.

Alms for the Poor

30As water quenches a flaming fire,

so almsgiving atones for sins.i

31The kindness people have done crosses their paths later on;

should they stumble, they will find support.

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/sirach/3

THE POETRY OF NEW PROPHETS

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJVBQefNXIw

Paul Harvey’s Commentary on The Devil

10 TERRIFIC INSIGHTS INTO CONTEMPLATIVE SPIRITUALITY I LEARNED FROM WATCHING HARRY POTTER MOVIES

This is probably the last straw for those of you who think I have lost it (I never had it to lose). I love the Harry Potter set of books by J.K. Rowling. What a creative mind and certainly an enchanting look at life from the viewpoint of a wizard. Yes, I know it is fantasy. No, I don’t believe or condone witchcraft, but I see the movies as housing the values of friendship, truth, sacrifice, love, and seeking what is good, that parallel what I seek as a Lay Cistercian. If you can’t get beyond the witchcraft, I suggest you not read the Bible. It is full of people who sin. I try to seek God where I am, and one of those places is when I watch Harry Potter Movies.

Below is an article about some sayings of Professor Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. I wanted to use the whole article from SYFY to keep its thoughts intact without interruption from me. The article follows my reflections on each of the twelve quotes and how they have allowed me to grow from self to God as a Lay Cistercian. I also like this article because you can click on the source and load a Youtube from each movie where the quote has been taken. Quotes from the book and not the movie do not have a Youtube video. Go to a place of silence and solitude, where you have access to this blog, and let your mind be filled with goodness and love. Thanks, Lisa.

REMEMBERING A WISE WIZARD: ALBUS DUMBLEDORE’S 12 GREATEST QUOTES

Contributed by

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Lisa Granshaw@LisaGranshawMar 23, 2017

Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore was the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for most of the Harry Potter series. He was a powerful wizard who was well-known for defeating the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald, founding the Order of the Phoenix, and being the only one Voldemort ever feared. He left quite a legacy behind when he was killed at Hogwart’s Astronomy Tower in 1997 and has far from been forgotten since.

Dumbledore, who would have been 136 this year, was not a perfect man and certainly made mistakes. However, he also inspired countless people in the fight against evil and learned enough over the years to have quite a lot of wisdom to share. It’s this legacy of Dumbledore that I want to revisit through some of his greatest quotes from the books and films in remembrance of the character. These quotes inspired those in the Harry Potter world he left behind 20 years ago and can inspire those of us today beyond that fictional universe as well.

Here are 12 of Dumbledore’s most memorable quotes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KoaHLoD4iRQ

“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to your enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to your friends.”

From Neville Longbottom’s first year at Hogwarts, it was clear the clumsy boy was a real Gryffindor at heart. Dumbledore makes sure the whole school knows it too when he awards him House points at the end of theSorcerer’s Stone film. While everyone else who received points obtains them for things you might expect, Neville receives them for something that might not as easily come to mind. It took a lot of courage for Neville to stand up to Harry, Ron and Hermione. It’s much more difficult to do what’s right when you’re facing those close to you, who you know and trust, than facing those you believe to be in the wrong and generally wouldn’t trust very much. After all, standing up to friends could hurt the friendship or their feelings and if you want to avoid that it could be easy to remain silent. If they’re people you trust it also makes it easier to give in to peer pressure and go along with them. It takes a lot of strength to realize you sometimes need to speak up to those closest to you to really do the right thing.

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02

“Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.”

A Man for All Seasons Quotes Showing 1-27 of 27“Thomas More: …And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned around on you–where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast–man’s laws, not God’s–and if you cut them down…d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.” 
― Robert Bolt, A Man for All Seasons

“Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lYx31IYhIs

Hermione is given this line in the Chamber of Secrets film, but originally Dumbledore said it in the Sorcerer’s Stone novel. He says it during his conversation with Harry after the young Gryffindor wakes up from his encounter with Voldemort and Quirrell. They’re discussing what happened when Harry starts to say Voldemort’s name before stopping and continuing by saying You-Know-Who instead. Dumbledore interrupts him there and tells Harry to say Voldemort and to “always use the proper name for things.” Being afraid of even saying his name adds to the fear Voldemort has already inspired and gives him more power over them. By saying his name, they’re taking that away from Voldemort and showing their defiance. It’s something Harry will remember for the remainder of the series and others will follow in his lead until the show of strength is turned against Harry and his allies and used as a way to track them down in the Deathly Hallows book.

“It is not our abilities that show what we truly are. It is our choices.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FcQdObkwcGw

Something Dumbledore has to consistently remind Harry of throughout the series is that Harry and Voldemort are different despite their similarities. In the Chamber of Secrets movie, the wizard tries to impart this knowledge when Harry begins to notice how similar he is to the Dark Lord towards the end. They share qualities, but that doesn’t make them the same. It’s what they do with them that matters. Dumbledore knows that a person’s true nature is revealed based on what they decide to do in life. If two people have great power, it tells you nothing about who they are if that’s all you know about them. However if one person chooses to use that power to hurt people and inspire fear while another uses it to help people and inspire hope, it shows exactly the type of individual they are. This won’t be the last time Dumbledore has to remind Harry of this.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYCx_7J1MDk

“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

Dumbledore shares these words when he’s speaking to the students at the beginning of Harry’s third year at Hogwarts in the Prisoner of Azkaban film after informing them of what’s happening and that the Dementors are present at the school. It’s a reminder to those assembled that hope is never lost in dark times. For example, the Dementors may feed on happiness but resisting them just requires concentrating on a happy memory to cast the Patronus charm. Goodness and happiness can never be eliminated no matter how bad things are. You just have to remember and not let the dark overwhelm you.

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“You place too much importance, and you always have done, on the so-called purity of blood! You fail to recognize that it matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be!”

After everything that happened at the Triwizard Tournament in the Goblet of Firebook, Dumbledore tries to convince Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge that it’s time to prepare for Voldemort’s return. Unfortunately Fudge isn’t keen on the idea of accepting Voldemort is back and when Dumbledore mentions sending envoys to the giants Fudge responds by saying people hate the giants and that such an action would be the end of his career. Fudge clearly cares more about his job than about taking any steps against Voldemort at this point. Dumbledore accuses him of being blinded by his office and says these words to the minister. They evoke a similar meaning to Dumbledore’s Chamber of Secrets quote about abilities and choices. Who cares what someone is born? That tells you nothing about a person’s true nature. What matters is what happens once they grow up. You can never judge someone on their beginning. Unfortunately it’s something that Fudge here does not understand.

GobletFireDumbledore1.png

“… we are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided … Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.”

Dumbledore addresses the school and the visitors from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang after the loss of Cedric at the Triwizard Tournament in the Goblet of Fire novel. He’s honest about how Cedric died and about the return of Voldemort. Despite how dreadful and scary this news is however, the headmaster offers these hopeful words. He highlights how they are stronger when they stand together and says, “Lord Voldemort’s gift for spreading discord and enmity is very great. We can fight it only by showing an equally strong bond of friendship and trust.” He then reiterates how their differences don’t matter and they should never let those get between them. By remembering the bonds they have that transcend their differences and how they are all connected by what they want for the world, Dumbledore knows they can be triumphant.

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07

“Dark and difficult times lie ahead. Soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ASqHWwMlKSs

Before leaving Hogwarts for the summer in the Goblet of Fire movie, Dumbledore tells Harry this during their final talk. Voldemort has officially returned, which means things are going to get worse moving forward … and when they do, everyone will be presented with a choice. The easy thing might be to just go along with whatever happens or just hide away from it all. This is far from the right thing to do, though. The right thing to do is often the harder path. It means standing up to darkness in some way to try to make a difference, no matter what happens. This comes with its own set of difficulties and is why it may be easier to just do nothing. It’s a choice everyone makes, if they realize it or not, as Voldemort continues to once again rise.

DumbledoreHalfBloodPrince.png

08

“Have you any idea how much tyrants fear the people they oppress? All of them realize that, one day, amongst their many victims, there is sure to be one who rises against them and strikes back!”

When in the Half-Blood Prince book Dumbledore and Harry are discussing the prophecy from the following year, he ends up telling Harry this about Voldemort creating “his own worst enemy, just as tyrants everywhere do!” Since Voldemort was on the lookout for such a person, he acted quickly when hearing the prophecy and through his actions picked the person to most likely defeat him. Not all tyrants do this of course, but Dumbledore’s words still ring true. Tyrants fear their people because they can bring about the tyrant’s downfall. Eventually someone will want to strike back and that person will inspire others and more will follow until it leads to the tyrant’s end. They cannot stop this and the more they try to, the more they are coming closer to lighting the spark that will destroy them.

09

“Just like your mother, you’re unfailingly kind. A trait people never fail to undervalue, I’m afraid.”

Before Dumbledore and Harry head out to find a Horcrux together in the Half-Blood Prince film, they share a brief talk where the headmaster tells this to the boy. The wizard is quite right that others often belittle kindness. It’s true in real life as well. It is a trait not valued as much as it should be, but seen by some as a weakness. They are blind to how important and powerful being kind can be. Kindness means more and can change more in life than people realize. It is a short sentence in the span of the movie and even within the conversation, but it’s some of Dumbledore’s wisest words.

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10

“It was important, Dumbledore said, to fight, and fight again, and keep fighting, for only then could evil be kept at bay, though never quite eradicated …”

In the Half-Blood Prince book, Dumbledore does not speak these words at this moment but Harry is thinking back to a time when Dumbledore shared this sentiment with him in Sorcerer’s Stone. Here Harry remembers this during Dumbledore’s funeral when everyone is gathered. He thinks about his first trip into the forest when he encountered the thing that was Voldemort and faced him. Not long after, during a discussion with Dumbledore, the older wizard brought this up. It might certainly feel sometimes like the battle Harry is fighting is a losing one, and that no matter what they do they can never win. Yet Dumbledore emphasizes that it’s still important to keep fighting. That only by being vigilant and never backing down evil can be kept from overcoming good. It will always exist, but that doesn’t mean it always has to be in control. It can be kept back in the world as long as people never give up the fight. By never giving up the fight, evil can be kept from gaining ground.

11

“Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic, capable of both inflicting injury and remedying it.”

This quote is from Dumbledore’s conversation with Harry in the Deathly Hallows Part 2 movie, when the Chosen One finds himself in the strange King’s Cross station-looking place where he has a choice of taking a train or going back. Dumbledore understands how powerful words can be, which is why he changes a past saying here. Before he does, though, he says this truthful line so Harry understands. Whether they’re written or spoken, words matter and can have a huge impact on people. It’s why people need to consider their words carefully. People might think saying one thing here or there means nothing in the scheme of things, but those words have consequences. Words can do wondrous and terrible things, and it’s important for people to remember that.

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12

“… perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it. Those who, like you, have leadership thrust upon them, and take up the mantle because they must, and find to their own surprise that they wear it well.”

(FROM THE BOOK) In the Deathly Hallows book while at that King’s Cross-like station, Dumbledore tells Harry more about his history and how he turned down being Minister for Magic more than once. When Harry says he would have been better than Fudge and Scrimgeour, Dumbledore isn’t sure. He knows power was a temptation and weakness of his, which leads to these words. Dumbledore’s experience has taught him that it’s those not seeking power that should perhaps have it. Those that find they have it and are surprisingly suited for it. They’re the ones that might not be greedy, that might not forget to help others, and might be able to resist any temptations that go with that power to do what should be done as a leader with the power they have.”

A LAY CISTERCIAN REFLECTS ON SOME QUOTES FROM THE HAPPY POTTER MOVIES

I love to watch Harry Potter movies, from the books by J.K. Rolling. They are filled with wonder and excitement as the three main characters begin to confront evil as personified by Lord Voldemort (the one who must not be named). In particular, there are some movie quotes from above that have particular meanings as I measure them against my Lay Cistercian spirituality (as I understand it).

MY COMMENTARY ON THE QUOTES

“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to your enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to your friends.”

This quote began my Lectio Divina meditation (Philippians 2:5) about standing up to your friends when they are not consistent with what you know to be authentic spirituality. My thoughts went to a friend who is quite talented and focused on the gift of healing. He has a good heart and wants to respond to what he considers to be the healing of unclean spirits in others. As a newly professed member of the Body of Christ, his overall knowledge of the titanic battles we have had to fight and the controversies we have had to endure about who Christ is is almost non-existent. So, when he began spouting all theories about why he could heal, a red flag popped in my mind. Based on my past study of the Scriptures and Existential Phenomenology, these ideas don’t make sense. He can justify everything he does by Scripture and has a particular point of view that is very much Donatist and Gnostic in theory (both heresies). If it was not from God, why is he healing people, he reasoned. He is very much at odds with the heritage of our Church down through the centuries and its attempts to be exorcists to unclean spirits, a subject with which I have limited experience since I am an ordained exorcist. I had to tell him to disregard all the spurious and authentic theories behind his healings and embrace the simplicity of simply laying on of hands. It is very difficult to give up what you think is causing the healing in favor of just Faith in the power of Christ to change people. The Devil, I told him, loves to use healing and powers like this by zealous members to seduce them into thinking that this or that theory causes them to be so powerful and seemingly in control. Only Christ is in control and, I might add, strengthened with his Body (us). No one speaks for God except Christ or anyone to whom he entrusts that privilege.

This saying from the Harry Potter movies is one that has helped me realize that the enemy (Satan) can not only infiltrate our enemies but sometimes our friends. That is difficult because I tend to avoid the truth, and telling someone to abandon all in favor of Christ’s healing power in them, is not popular, but it is the right thing to do.

“Dark and difficult times lie ahead. Soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.”

This is perhaps my favorite quote. Our choices define who we are and, most importantly, who we become. We are the sum of those choices, like a snowball at the top of the hill rolling down and picking up snow until it becomes huge at its bottom. Good and poor choices comprise my particular life. I try to learn from these choices. Being evil means that my bad choices are bad, but I think they are good.

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FRAGMENTS OF LEFT-OVER LECTIO DIVINA MEDITATIONS: Spiritual anarchy

Today’s Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5) was about the Devil (it seems the Holy Spirit is on a series of ideas about the Devil). Here are some fragments left over in baskets from my Lectio Divina on Satan.

  • I thought about how the Devil thinks he is the Master of the World (Great Accuser), and we are his slaves (I use that word advisedly) to serve Him as god. Some of the thoughts I had were:
  • The new religion of Hollywoodism touts hating all things Catholic and ridicules those who think God loves humans so much that he sends down His only Son to give us the way, the truth, and the life.
  • I assume that Jesus is the Lord of Heaven and Satan, of his own admission, is Lord of the Earth (He isn’t, but thinks he is.).
  • This is the battle we, as adopted sons and daughters of the Father, face. We live in two worlds simultaneously.
  • If we are to solve the Divine Equation, The Christ Principle is the template of today, yesterday, and tomorrow.
  • Satan does not have the energy to make us do anything (God has the energy but allows us to choose Him freely in keeping without being created in His image and likeness).
  • This is a battle between Satan and us, not between God and Satan (that one was over when he was allowed to be what he wished).
  • If we are not stronger than Satan, such as having no Baptism or confirmation in the Holy Spirit, we are at the mercy of the Lord of the Earth. With God’s protection, we still have the effects of Original Sin (we suffer cancer, etc.., must die, and work for our spirituality (practice good works as in Chapter 4 of the Rule of St. Benedict).
  • Saved by Christ means He lifted us up from animality to rationality, then from rationality to adoption as heirs of the kingdom of Heaven. The problem is we still live in the Devil’s kingdom (his thinking) with Original Sin until our body transforms into our final fulfillment as human nature intended (the Garden of Eden before the Fall).

Anarchy, using the Rule of Threes, means:

Physical Universe — Humans, as descendants of animal nature, tend to have a default to control others, dominate others, go to war against each other, and be the top animal of all others.

Mental Universe — Anarchy here is all of the above, PLUS mental dominance of ideas, having no one tell you what to do, especially those with whom you disagree. This is the universe of the Earth alone. People live in this universe until they are Baptized and receive the Holy Spirit; then, they can enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Anarchy is the political overthrow, mental overthrow, or forced consent to a way of life of the dominant human system in vogue at the time. It is going back to zero in morals and political domination at the expense of poor thinking and thus bad choices; the Devil thinks he is King of this Kingdom of Anarchy and seeks to seduce humans into thinking that this is all there is, that they are destined for nothing more than what they can fill in their bank accounts, or what power position they have acquired, in life. Not all humans follow anarchy. Some of them are not Adopted Sons an Daughters of the Father, and some have never heard of The Christ Principle. All have been redeemed as part of the ransom for the many.

The Anarchy of the Spiritual Universe –Satan wants us to bow down to acknowledge his Lordship of the Earth. Jesus wants us to give the gift of our free choice to fulfill the Father’s purpose in our destiny to the next level of our evolution, the Kingdom of Heaven.

Heaven and hell are here on Earth in a much muter form than after we die. As adopted sons and daughters of the Father, we have the tools to see what cannot be seen and hear what cannot be heard. We acknowledge this each Sunday at Eucharist Liturgy in reciting The Creed. St. Matthew shows us that we are in the Kingdom of Heaven right now, just as we are in the Kingdom of the Earth.

The Judgment of the Nations.*

31f “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne,

32g and all the nations* will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

33He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

35h For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me,

36naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’

37Then the righteous* will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?

38When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?

39When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’

40i And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’

41* j Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

42k For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,

43a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’

44* Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’

45He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’

46l And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/matthew/25

Anarchy is the overthrow of the old without replacing it with what is new from the Christ Principle but rather from the World.

Anarchy is what happened to those angels who wanted their own kingdom and to be gods. You know what happened to that overthrow.

A LAY CISTERCIAN RESPONSE

One of the reasons I chose to be a Lay Cistercian is that I have a spiritual plan of action, although one strict, to hold my own in the battle over my freedom to choose God over Satan.

I must convert my life daily to be more like Christ and less like my false self.

I must die each day to those things of the kingdom of the earth that lead to the anarchy of the spiritual practice so necessary for me to be fully what my nature intended.

I want to be an adopted son (daughter) of the Father but I must work for it and be on constant guard of “the lion who prowls the world, seeking whom He may devour.”

Praise be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever. The God who is, who was, and who is to come at the end of the ages. Amen. –Cistercian doxology

IDEAS TO MAKE ALL THINGS NEW

Reading Sacred Scriptures is one of my Lay Cistercian practices that help me grow in my capacity for Christ within me. This happens because the Word of God produces that which it signifies. It is the energy of God that I assimilate into my upper room (Matthew 6:5) where I wait for Christ to overshadow me with Love.

Here are some of the readings from Sirach that I have used to convert my morals from that of the world to those based on the will of the Father, through the Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Trust in God

1 My child, when you come to serve the Lord,*

prepare yourself for trials. a

2Be sincere of heart and steadfast,

and do not be impetuous in times of adversity.

3 Cling to him, do not leave him,

that you may prosper in your last days.

4Accept whatever happens to you;

in periods of humiliation be patient.

5For in fire gold is tested,

and the chosen, in the crucible of humiliation.b

6Trust in God, and he will help you;

make your ways straight and hope in him.

7You that fear the Lord, wait for his mercy,

do not stray lest you fall.

8 You that fear the Lord, trust in him,

and your reward will not be lost.

9 You that fear the Lord, hope for good things,

for lasting joy and mercy.

10Consider the generations long past and see:

has anyone trusted in the Lord and been disappointed?

Has anyone persevered in his fear and been forsaken?

has anyone called upon him and been ignored?c

11 For the Lord is compassionate and merciful;

forgives sins and saves in time of trouble.

12Woe to timid hearts and drooping hands,*

to the sinner who walks a double path!

13Woe to the faint of heart! For they do not trust,

and therefore have no shelter!

14Woe to you that have lost hope!

what will you do at the Lord’s visitation?

15 Those who fear the Lord do not disobey his words;

those who love him keep his ways.d

16Those who fear the Lord seek to please him;

those who love him are filled with his law.

17Those who fear the Lord prepare their hearts

and humble themselves before him.

18Let us fall into the hands of the Lord

and not into the hands of mortals,

For equal to his majesty is his mercy;

and equal to his name are his works.e

* [2:111] Serving the Lord is not without its trials (v. 1); but no matter what happens, the genuine believer will remain sincere, steadfast, and faithful (vv. 23). Misfortune and humiliation are means of purification to prove one’s worth (vv. 45). Ben Sira believed that patience and unwavering trust in God are ultimately rewarded with the benefits of God’s mercy and of lasting joy (vv. 611).

* [2:1218] A stern warning to those who compromise their faith in time of affliction; they fail in courage and trust and therefore have no security (vv. 1214). But those who fear the Lord through obedience, reverence, love, and humility find his “mercy equal to his majesty” (vv. 1518).

a. [2:12 Tm 3:1012.

b. [2:5Prv 17:3Wis 3:6Is 48:101 Pt 1:7.

c. [2:10Ps 31:2145:1820.

d. [2:15Jn 14:23.

e. [2:18Sir 17:29.

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/sirach/2

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READINGS TO LIFT UP YOUR HEARTS

While looking at the nooks and crannies of the website: http://www.newadvent.org, I came across this encyclical that might interest you as much as it did me. Many, most prominently, my wife, tell me I don’t have enough to do. Actually, I like rummaging throughout the history of our Church and finding those gems that always inspire me to be more like Christ and less like me.

The Credo of the People of God

Promulgated by Pope Paul VI on June 30, 1968

WITH THIS SOLEMN LITURGY we end the celebration of the nineteenth centenary of the martyrdom of the holy apostles Peter and Paul, and thus close the Year of Faith. We dedicated it to the commemoration of the holy apostles in order that we might give witness to our steadfast will to be faithful to the deposit of the faith[1] which they transmitted to us, and that we might strengthen our desire to live by it in the historical circumstances in which the Church finds herself in her pilgrimage in the midst of the world.

We feel it our duty to give public thanks to all who responded to our invitation by bestowing on the Year of Faith a splendid completeness through the deepening of their personal adhesion to the word of God, through the renewal in various communities of the profession of faith, and through the testimony of a Christian life. To our brothers in the episcopate especially, and to all the faithful of the holy Catholic Church, we express our appreciation and we grant our blessing.

Likewise, we deem that we must fulfill the mandate entrusted by Christ to Peter, whose successor we are, the last in merit; namely, to confirm our brothers in the faith.[2] With the awareness, certainly, of our human weakness, yet with all the strength impressed on our spirit by such a command, we shall accordingly make a profession of faith, pronounce a creed which, without being strictly speaking a dogmatic definition, repeats in substance, with some developments called for by the spiritual condition of our time, the creed of Nicea, the creed of the immortal tradition of the holy Church of God.

In making this profession, we are aware of the disquiet which agitates certain modern quarters with regard to the faith. They do not escape the influence of a world being profoundly changed, in which so many certainties are being disputed or discussed. We see even Catholics allowing themselves to be seized by a kind of passion for change and novelty. The Church, most assuredly, has always the duty to carry on the effort to study more deeply and to present, in a manner ever better adapted to successive generations, the unfathomable mysteries of God, rich for all in fruits of salvation. But at the same time the greatest care must be taken, while fulfilling the indispensable duty of research, to do no injury to the teachings of Christian doctrine. For that would be to give rise, as is unfortunately seen in these days, to disturbance and perplexity in many faithful souls.

It is important in this respect to recall that, beyond scientifically verified phenomena, the intellect which God has given us reaches that which is, and not merely the subjective expression of the structures and development of consciousness; and, on the other hand, that the task of interpretation–of hermeneutics–is to try to understand and extricate, while respecting the word expressed, the sense conveyed by a text, and not to recreate, in some fashion, this sense in accordance with arbitrary hypotheses.

Put above all, we place our unshakable confidence in the Holy Spirit, the soul of the Church, and in theological faith upon which rests the life of the Mystical Body. We know that souls await the word of the Vicar of Christ, and we respond to that expectation with the instructions which we regularly give. But today we are given an opportunity to make a more solemn utterance.

On this day which is chosen to close the Year of Faith, on this feast of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul, we have wished to offer to the living God the homage of a profession of faith. And as once at Caesarea Philippi the apostle Peter spoke on behalf of the twelve to make a true confession, beyond human opinions, of Christ as Son of the living God, so today his humble successor, pastor of the Universal Church, raises his voice to give, on behalf of all the People of God, a firm witness to the divine Truth entrusted to the Church to be announced to all nations.

We have wished our profession of faith to be to a high degree complete and explicit, in order that it may respond in a fitting way to the need of light felt by so many faithful souls, and by all those in the world, to whatever spiritual family they belong, who are in search of the Truth.

To the glory of God most holy and of our Lord Jesus Christ, trusting in the aid of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of the holy apostles Peter and Paul, for the profit and edification of the Church, in the name of all the pastors and all the faithful, we now pronounce this profession of faith, in full spiritual communion with you all, beloved brothers and sons.

THE CREDO

WE BELIEVE in one only God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, creator of things visible such as this world in which our transient life passes, of things invisible such as the pure spirits which are also called angels,[3] and creator in each man of his spiritual and immortal soul.

We believe that this only God is absolutely one in His infinitely holy essence as also in all His perfections, in His omnipotence, His infinite knowledge, His providence, His will and His love. He is He who is, as He revealed to Moses,[4] and He is love, as the apostle John teaches us:[5] so that these two names, being and love, express ineffably the same divine reality of Him who has wished to make Himself known to us, and who, “dwelling in light inaccessible”[6] is in Himself above every name, above every thing and above every created intellect. God alone can give us right and full knowledge of this reality by revealing Himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in whose eternal life we are by grace called to share, here below in the obscurity of faith and after death in eternal light. The mutual bonds which eternally constitute the Three Persons, who are each one and the same divine being, are the blessed inmost life of God thrice holy, infinitely beyond all that we can conceive in human measure.[7] We give thanks, however, to the divine goodness that very many believers can testify with us before men to the unity of God, even though they know not the mystery of the most holy Trinity.

We believe then in the Father who eternally begets the Son, in the Son, the Word of God, who is eternally begotten; in the Holy Spirit, the uncreated Person who proceeds from the Father and the Son as their eternal love. Thus in the Three Divine Persons, coaeternae sibi et coaequales,[8] the life and beatitude of God perfectly one superabound and are consummated in the supreme excellence and glory proper to uncreated being, and always “there should be venerated unity in the Trinity and Trinity in the unity.”[9]

We believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God. He is the Eternal Word, born of the Father before time began, and one in substance with the Father, homoousios to Patri,[10] and through Him all things were made. He was incarnate of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit, and was made man: equal therefore to the Father according to His divinity, and inferior to the Father according to His humanity;[11] and Himself one, not by some impossible confusion of His natures, but by the unity of His person.[12]

He dwelt among us, full of grace and truth. He proclaimed and established the Kingdom of God and made us know in Himself the Father. He gave us His new commandment to love one another as He loved us. He taught us the way of the beatitudes of the Gospel: poverty in spirit, meekness, suffering borne with patience, thirst after justice, mercy, purity of heart, will for peace, persecution suffered for justice sake. Under Pontius Pilate He suffered –the Lamb of God bearing on Himself the sins of the world, and He died for us on the cross, saving us by His redeeming blood. He was buried, and, of His own power, rose on the third day, raising us by His resurrection to that sharing in the divine life which is the life of grace. He ascended to heaven, and He will come again, this time in glory, to judge the living and the dead: each according to his merits–those who have responded to the love and piety of God going to eternal life, those who have refused them to the end going to the fire that is not extinguished.

And His Kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, who is Lord, and Giver of life, who is adored and glorified together with the Father and the Son. He spoke to us by the prophets; He was sent by Christ after His resurrection and His ascension to the Father; He illuminates, vivifies, protects and guides the Church; He purifies the Church’s members if they do not shun His grace. His action, which penetrates to the inmost of the soul, enables man to respond to the call of Jesus: Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect (Mt. 5:48).

We believe that Mary is the Mother, who remained ever a Virgin, of the Incarnate Word, our God and Savior Jesus Christ,[13] and that by reason of this singular election, she was, in consideration of the merits of her Son, redeemed in a more eminent manner,[14] preserved from all stain of original sin[15] and filled with the gift of grace more than all other creatures.[16]

Joined by a close and indissoluble bond to the Mysteries of the Incarnation and Redemption,[17] the Blessed Virgin, the Immaculate, was at the end of her earthly life raised body and soul to heavenly glory[18] and likened to her risen Son in anticipation of the future lot of all the just; and we believe that the Blessed Mother of God, the New Eve, Mother of the Church,[19] continues in heaven her maternal role with regard to Christ’s members, cooperating with the birth and growth of divine life in the souls of the redeemed.[20]

We believe that in Adam all have sinned, which means that the original offense committed by him caused human nature, common to all men, to fall to a state in which it bears the consequences of that offense, and which is not the state in which it was at first in our first parents–established as they were in holiness and justice, and in which man knew neither evil nor death. It is human nature so fallen stripped of the grace that clothed it, injured in its own natural powers and subjected to the dominion of death, that is transmitted to all men, and it is in this sense that every man is born in sin. We therefore hold, with the Council of Trent, that original sin, is transmitted with human nature, “not by imitation, but by propagation” and that it is thus “proper to everyone.”[21]

We believe that Our Lord Jesus Christ, by the sacrifice of the cross redeemed us from original sin and all the personal sins committed by each one of us, so that, in accordance with the word of the apostle, “where sin abounded grace did more abound.”[22]

We believe in one Baptism instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. Baptism should be administered even to little children who have not yet been able to be guilty of any personal sin, in order that, though born deprived of supernatural grace, they may be reborn “of water and the Holy Spirit” to the divine life in Christ Jesus.[23]

We believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church built by Jesus Christ on that rock which is Peter. She is the Mystical Body of Christ; at the same time a visible society instituted with hierarchical organs, and a spiritual community; the Church on earth, the pilgrim People of God here below, and the Church filled with heavenly blessings; the germ and the first fruits of the Kingdom of God, through which the work and the sufferings of Redemption are continued throughout human history, and which looks for its perfect accomplishment beyond time in glory.[24] In the course of time, the Lord Jesus forms His Church by means of the sacraments emanating from His plenitude.[25] By these she makes her members participants in the Mystery of the Death and Resurrection of Christ, in the grace of the Holy Spirit who gives her life and movement.[26] She is therefore holy, though she has sinners in her bosom, because she herself has no other life but that of grace: it is by living by her life that her members are sanctified; it is by removing themselves from her life that they fall into sins and disorders that prevent the radiation of her sanctity. This is why she suffers and does penance for these offenses, of which she has the power to heal her children through the blood of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Heiress of the divine promises and daughter of Abraham according to the Spirit, through that Israel whose scriptures she lovingly guards, and whose patriarchs and prophets she venerates; founded upon the apostles and handing on from century to century their ever-living word and their powers as pastors in the successor of Peter and the bishops in communion with him; perpetually assisted by the Holy Spirit, she has the charge of guarding, teaching, explaining and spreading the Truth which God revealed in a then veiled manner by the prophets, and fully by the Lord Jesus. We believe all that is contained in the word of God written or handed down, and that the Church proposes for belief as divinely revealed, whether by a solemn judgment or by the ordinary and universal magisterium.[27] We believe in the infallibility enjoyed by the successor of Peter when he teaches ex cathedra as pastor and teacher of all the faithful,[28] and which is assured also to the episcopal body when it exercises with him the supreme magisterium.[29]

We believe that the Church founded by Jesus Christ and for which He prayed is indefectibly one in faith, worship and the bond of hierarchical communion. In the bosom of this Church, the rich variety of liturgical rites and the legitimate diversity of theological and spiritual heritages and special disciplines, far from injuring her unity, make it more manifest.[30]

Recognizing also the existence, outside the organism of the Church of Christ of numerous elements of truth and sanctification which belong to her as her own and tend to Catholic unity,[31] and believing in the action of the Holy Spirit who stirs up in the heart of the disciples of Christ love of this unity,[32] we entertain the hope that the Christians who are not yet in the full communion of the one only Church will one day be reunited in one flock with one only shepherd.

We believe that the Church is necessary for salvation, because Christ, who is the sole mediator and way of salvation, renders Himself present for us in His body which is the Church.[33] But the divine design of salvation embraces all men, and those who without fault on their part do not know the Gospel of Christ and His Church, but seek God sincerely, and under the influence of grace endeavor to do His will as recognized through the promptings of their conscience, they, in a number known only to God, can obtain salvation.[34]

We believe that the Mass, celebrated by the priest representing the person of Christ by virtue of the power received through the Sacrament of Orders, and offered by him in the name of Christ and the members of His Mystical Body, is the sacrifice of Calvary rendered sacramentally present on our altars. We believe that as the bread and wine consecrated by the Lord at the Last Supper were changed into His body and His blood which were to be offered for us on the cross, likewise the bread and wine consecrated by the priest are changed into the body and blood of Christ enthroned gloriously in heaven, and we believe that the mysterious presence of the Lord, under what continues to appear to our senses as before, is a true, real and substantial presence.[35]

Christ cannot be thus present in this sacrament except by the change into His body of the reality itself of the bread and the change into His blood of the reality itself of the wine, leaving unchanged only the properties of the bread and wine which our senses perceive. This mysterious change is very appropriately called by the Church transubstantiation. Every theological explanation which seeks some understanding of this mystery must, in order to be in accord with Catholic faith, maintain that in the reality itself, independently of our mind, the bread and wine have ceased to exist after the Consecration, so that it is the adorable body and blood of the Lord Jesus that from then on are really before us under the sacramental species of bread and wine,[36] as the Lord willed it, in order to give Himself to us as food and to associate us with the unity of His Mystical Body.[37]

The unique and indivisible existence of the Lord glorious in heaven is not multiplied, but is rendered present by the sacrament in the many places on earth where Mass is celebrated. And this existence remains present, after the sacrifice, in the Blessed Sacrament which is, in the tabernacle, the living heart of each of our churches. And it is our very sweet duty to honor and adore in the blessed Host which our eyes see, the Incarnate Word whom they cannot see, and who, without leaving heaven, is made present before us.

We confess that the Kingdom of God begun here below in the Church of Christ is not of this world whose form is passing, and that its proper growth cannot be confounded with the progress of civilization, of science or of human technology, but that it consists in an ever more profound knowledge of the unfathomable riches of Christ, an ever stronger hope in eternal blessings, an ever more ardent response to the love of God, and an ever more generous bestowal of grace and holiness among men. But it is this same love which induces the Church to concern herself constantly about the true temporal welfare of men. Without ceasing to recall to her children that they have not here a lasting dwelling, she also urges them to contribute, each according to his vocation and his means, to the welfare of their earthly city, to promote justice, peace and brotherhood among men, to give their aid freely to their brothers, especially to the poorest and most unfortunate. The deep solicitude of the Church, the Spouse of Christ, for the needs of men, for their joys and hopes, their griefs and efforts, is therefore nothing other than her great desire to be present to them, in order to illuminate them with the light of Christ and to gather them all in Him, their only Savior. This solicitude can never mean that the Church conform herself to the things of this world, or that she lessen the ardor of her expectation of her Lord and of the eternal Kingdom.

We believe in the life eternal. We believe that the souls of all those who die in the grace of Christ–whether they must still be purified in purgatory, or whether from the moment they leave their bodies Jesus takes them to paradise as He did for the Good Thief–are the People of God in the eternity beyond death, which will be finally conquered on the day of the Resurrection when these souls will be reunited with their bodies.

We believe that the multitude of those gathered around Jesus and Mary in paradise forms the Church of Heaven, where in eternal beatitude they see God as He is,[38] and where they also, in different degrees, are associated with the holy angels in the divine rule exercised by Christ in glory, interceding for us and helping our weakness by their brotherly care.[39]

We believe in the communion of all the faithful of Christ, those who are pilgrims on earth, the dead who are attaining their purification, and the blessed in heaven, all together forming one Church; and we believe that in this communion the merciful love of God and His saints is ever listening to our prayers, as Jesus told us: Ask and you will receive.[40] Thus it is with faith and in hope that we look forward to the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.

Blessed be God Thrice Holy. Amen.

Footnotes

1. Cf. 1 Tim. 6:20.
2. Cf. Lk. 22:32.
3. Cf Dz.-Sch. 3002.
4. Cf E~.3:14.
5. Cf I Jn. 4:8.
6. Cf I Tim. 6:16.
7. Cf Dz.-Sch. 804.
8. Cf Dz.-Sch. 75.
9. Cf. ibid.
10. Cf Dz.-Sch. 150.
11. Cf Dz.-Sch.76.
12. Cf Ibid.
13. Cf Dz.-Sch. 251-252.
14. Cf Lumen Gentium, 53.
15. Cf Dz.-Sch. 2803.
16. Cf Lumen Gentium, 53.
17. Cf Lumen Gentium, 53, 58, 61.
18. Cf Dz.-Sch. 3903.
19. Cf Lumen Gentium, 53, 58, 61, 63; Cf Paul Vl, Alloc. for the Closing of the Third Session of the Second Vatican Council: AAS LVI [1964] 1016; Cf. Exhort. Apost. Signum Magnum, Introd.
20. Cf Lumen Gentium, 62; cf Paul Vl, Exhort. Apost. Signum Magnum, p 1, n. 1.
21. Cf Dz.-Sch. 1513.
22 Cf Rom. 5:20.
23. Cf Dz.-Sch. 1514.
24. Cf. Lumen Gentium, 8, 5.
25. Cf Lumen Gentium, 7, 11.
26. Cf Sacrosanctum Concilium, 5, 6; cf Lumen Gentium, 7, 12, 50.
27. Cf Dz.-Sch.3011.
28 Cf Dz.-Sch. 3074.
29. Cf Lumen Gentium, 25.
30. Cf. Lumen Gentium, 23; cf Orientalium Ecclesiarum 2, 3, 5, 6.
31. Cf Lumen Gentium, 8.
32. Cf Lumen Gentium, 15.
33. Cf Lumen Gentium, 14.
34. Cf Lumen Gentium, 16.
35. Cf Dz.-Sch. 1651.
36. Cf Dz.-Sch. 1642,1651-1654; Paul Vl, Enc. Mysterium Fidei.
37. Cf S.Th.,111,73,3.
38. Cf I Jn. 3:2; Dz.-Sch. 1000.
39. Cf Lumen Gentium, 49.
40. Cf Lk. 10:9-10;Jn. 16:24.

Transcribed by Paul Halsall

https://www.newadvent.org/library/docs_pa06cr.htm

OUR CATHOLIC HALL OF FAME: St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Here are some quotes that I use to help me re-center myself on Christ Jesus. http://www.azquotes.com

“Pray, hope and don’t worry. Anxiety doesn’t help at all. Our Merciful Lord will listen to your prayer.” ~ Pio of Pietrelcina

“Prayer is the best weapon we have; it is the key to God’s heart. You must speak to Jesus not only with your lips but with your heart. In fact, on certain occasions, you should only speak to Him with your heart.” ~ Pio of Pietrelcina

“The Cross will not crush you; if its weight makes you stagger, its power will also sustain you.” ~ Pio of Pietrelcina

“Only in Heaven will everything be as beautiful as spring, as pleasant as autumn, and as full of love as summer.” ~ Pio of Pietrelcina

“The root of all evil is ‘I,’ ‘Me’ , ‘Mine’.” ~ Pio of Pietrelcina

“As gifts increase in you, let your humility grow, for you must consider that everything is given to you on loan.” ~ Pio of Pietrelcina

“Prayer is the oxygen of the soul.” ~ Pio of Pietrelcina

“Always remain close to the Catholic Church, because it alone can give you true peace, since it alone possesses Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, the true Prince of Peace.” ~ Pio of Pietrelcina

“Do not let your heart become troubled by the sad spectacle of human injustice. Even this has its value in the face of all else. And it is from this that one day you will see the justice of God rising with unfailing triumph.” ~ Pio of Pietrelcina

https://www.franciscanmedia.org/saint-of-the-day/saint-pio-of-pietrelcina

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THE PROCESS OF ASSIMILATING ENERGY FROM GOD

It is impossible to assimilate energy from God directly without a transformer. This transformer is the person of Jesus Christ as The Christ Principle. If it is true that no one can go to the Father except through Christ, that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, then it also must be true that no one can receive power from God except through, with, and in Jesus Christ.

This process of energy transfer is called assimilation. The thought came to me in a Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5) when I asked myself, “How do I receive grace (energy) from God?” When my car is out of gas, I go to Costco and fill it up. When I am hungry, I go to supper and fill up as much as it makes me comfortable. When I am out of grace, what do I do? I can’t remember “feeling out of grace,” or even having the idea bubble up from my consciousness.

As a human being, most of my longings are attached to emotional needs or mental challenges. Not so, my spiritual needs. Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” was an eye-opener for me. He limited needs to only the physical and mental universes, not wrong so much as incomplete. I always wondered what the needs would be for the spiritual universe around me. If food is the engine that drives my body to perform its functions properly, what energizes my spiritual self, the one marked with the cross?

Human Needs in the Physical and Mental Universes

Maslow only looks at the physical and mental universe and does not include the spiritual one. Suppose food, water, and the proper assortment of chemicals are needed to sustain the body in the first universe. In that case, this second universe of Maslow’s hierarchy gives an insightful look into what we need to be human. In the transcendent level of his diagram, I see it as human nature being incomplete in its intelligent progression. What is lacking is the spiritual universe in which we are a new creation through Baptism. Not even some of the Baptized are aware of the knowledge that we have a set of spiritual needs that need fulfilling. St. Augustine hints at this when he says, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.”

Because these needs come not from human nature but from divine nature, I call them The Divine Equation (you might term them something else). I have made a terrible mistake about God all these years. I kept thinking that the purpose of life is to know, love, and serve God in this life and to be happy with God in the next. I have grown deeper through exposure to the Holy Spirit, and I now think that the purpose of life is not to know about God but to discover the fullness of my human nature to its fullest. St. Thomas Aquinas hinted at this when he wrote: “I cannot go on…. All that I have written seems like so much straw compared to what I have seen and revealed to me.” ~ Thomas Aquinas

As I grow in my Lectio Divina capacitas dei, I feel what St. Thomas Aquinas described. What has emerged from my realization is that it is useless for me to try to know who God is; I can try to be as human as possible and love God with all my heart, mind, and strength. (Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 22:36.) The Divine Equation is six questions and answers that come not from my humanity but from Christ’s humanity and divinity. They are:

  • What is the purpose of life?
  • What is the purpose of my life within that purpose?
  • What does reality look like?
  • How does it all fit together?
  • How can I love fiercely?
  • You know you are going to die: now what?

In any communication with the Sacred, what is going on is a transfer of energy from divine nature into human nature. A good analogy is trying to pour the ocean into my cup of blessings. It can’t happen. I don’t have the capacity or the capability to hold God’s energy. This is why I think Jesus came to save us. He is the mediator, the translator of divinity, so that each person receives God according to their disposition to receive it. This energy is pure knowledge, love, and service contained in one reality (The Trinity). Jesus is the Messiah long awaited by the Jews. He comes, not as a ruler, conqueror, or military dictator, but as a ransom for the many, the Lamb of God who takes away the world’s sins, one to give us what we need to sustain us as adopted sons and daughters of the Father. And what is that?

  • Baptism — God chooses us to be adopted, sons and daughters.
  • Confirmation — God gives the Holy Spirit to us as long as we live.
  • Eucharist — Jesus is the bread of life. If we eat his flesh and drink his blood, we have what we need to survive walking through the minefields of life.
  • Penance and Reconciliation — Jesus makes all things new. When we miss the mark of being fully human, Christ is there to bind our wounds and give us the energy to pick ourselves up again and start over.
  • Marriage — The Holy Family is the norm to lead a life loving others as Christ loved us. Procreation is lifted up by God to its evolutionary purpose– to love each other and, together, those around us.
  • Holy Orders — the procreation of the kingdom of God is facilitated by the new Tribe of Levi, the Order of Melchizedek.
  • Extreme Unction- God is next to us as we make the Passover from this life to the next.

I continue to learn that I am not the source of power to move from humanity to spirituality. I assimilate the energy of God through, with, and in Jesus, The Christ Principle. It means to be fully human to realize that I must be humble and obedient to God’s will. This goes against the tingling in my stomach when I try to do it, but it is a sign of contradiction and the fulfillment of my humanity on earth, leading to my reward in heaven.

I AM A COMPLETE FAILURE

During my self cloistering with COVID-19 and beyond, I have had an abundance of time with which to explore Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5). I find that I am doing Lectio three to four times a day, but they are shorter snatches of time than before. Another surprise from my self-imposed estrangement from reality is that I have time (maybe too much) to reflect on my end time (I am 82 and fading noticeably).

Here are some of my ideas from Lectio Divina.

I am a complete failure. I do mean complete. That is not to say I am a terrible person, but rather a good person by nature who muffed it up more times than I made it. I am not making this statement to have anyone tell me, “Oh, you are a good person.” I already know that. My introspection goes along with the Psalmists who lament over the choices they have made throughout their past and cry out when thinking of the insensitivities and prideful way they have treated others in the past. I am the worst person I know, but the best person who can make reparation for the sins of his past.

https://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-year/lent/seven-penitential-psalms-songs-of-suffering-servant. I encourage you to read them frequently as do I so that mercy becomes an important part of how I love Christ through the Holy Spirit.

1 For the leader; with stringed instruments, “upon the eighth.”*

A psalm of David.

I

2Do not reprove me in your anger, LORD,

nor punish me in your wrath.a

3Have pity on me, LORD, for I am weak;

heal me, LORD, for my bones are shuddering.b

4My soul too is shuddering greatly—

and you, LORD, how long?*c

5Turn back, LORD, rescue my soul;

save me because of your mercy.

6For in death there is no remembrance of you.

Who praises you in Sheol?*d

II

7I am wearied with sighing;

all night long I drench my bed with tears;

I soak my couch with weeping.

8 My eyes are dimmed with sorrow,

worn out because of all my foes.e

III

9Away from me, all who do evil!f

The LORD has heard the sound of my weeping.

10 The LORD has heard my plea;

the LORD will receive my prayer.

11My foes will all be disgraced and will shudder greatly;

they will turn back in sudden disgrace.g

A reflection on Psalm 6 by USCCB:

by Graziano Marcheschi, M.A. D.Min

Psalm 6 —Prayer in Distress

The Psalms stand against the human impulse to merit God’s love and mercy through goodness or obedience. A part of us clings to the naïve notion that God’s love for us is tied to our behavior: good behavior earns God’s love and acceptance; bad behavior means divine rejection. That’s a diabolical lie and the psalmist knows it. Instead, eyes wide open and looking in the mirror, the psalmist readily admits his sin and begs God’s mercy anyway. Sin darkens human vision and alienates the soul from God, self, and others. Sin’s greatest danger is its ability to make us doubt God’s love and willingness to forgive. The psalmist’s saving grace is his refusal to let sin drive that wedge between him and the Lord; in fact, it’s his painful awareness of his sin that draws the psalmist nearer. We often think we can approach God only when we’re “good” and have our lives in order. But it’s sin God rejects, not the sinner. The psalmist knows if we waited for a “worthy” time, we’d never pray.  So we don’t defer prayer; we don’t wait till God “is in a better mood.” At work, we might rely on a spike in sales to incline the boss to mercy, but our God has never been that kind of God. Scripture tells us to pray whenever there is the need. And need is greatest when we are mired in sin.

In his mercy, God does not spare us the consequences of sin. To spur our prayer, to draw us closer when we might otherwise sulk or hide, God lets sin impact our lives.  Sin’s consequence is not God’s punishment, but the natural result of our decisions that, in his love, God uses for our good (if we let him). The psalmist is well aware that his own sin has brought both physical distress and the attack of enemies into his life. Yet he prays unashamedly. As a child who has disregarded a parent’s injunction to not venture far from home comes running back when the playground bully threatens, the psalmist knows where home is. He knows where to find the strong arms and loving embrace of a God who eventually would send his own Son to save us—not when we were finally worthy, but while we were still steeped in sin. 

Questions for Reflection:

St. Paul says that God “proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). So why do we keep thinking that God will love us only when we stop sinning?

On the other hand, does knowledge of God’s unconditional love mean we needn’t worry about sinning? Is the destructiveness of sin related to the effects it has on God or to the effects it has on us?

Besides petitionary prayer, there are prayers of praise, thanksgiving, adoration, etc. Does a prayer of petition, asking for mercy and the forgiveness of sin, seem to you like a lower, less enlightened form of prayer?  How can you combine petition and praise?

Lenten Prayer & Reflection Links

My own reflection.

Like the Psalmist, David, I have been and am sorry for my sins daily. What I experience are those situations in my past where I could have been more like Christ but wasn’t. Reparation for sin in what I do by writing this blog, putting good where there has been evil, and asking for God’s mercy over and over, even though my sins and failings have been confessed long ago. Mercy or restitution for my sins has been a regular part of my awareness of who I am as a human being.

The Jesus Template of restitution, or how I think I approach penance without becoming totally paranoid about it, is one of restitution or making all things new once again. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is one such way that Jesus has established for us to receive grace (energy) and to continually remind ourselves of the cross on our forehead (Ash Wednesday) and in our hearts (the indelible tattoo).

As an adopted son or daughter of the Father, we must carry our crosses daily because Christ carried his cross and paid the price for the ransom of many. It is the “…as I have loved you” part of his command, “Love others as I have loved you.”

I am a total failure from the viewpoint of how I tried to fulfill my human nature using just the world. I used to wonder why that is that I kept doing things over and over again, and they all seemed the same (the martyrdom of the ordinary), but I realized that I make all things new within this broken down, old temple of the Holy Spirit who is a Lay Cistercian. I am not a failure with Christ, but only because I sit next to Christ on that park bench in the middle of winter, being overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, and just wait to the extent that I am aware and practice this love of Christ (capacitas dei).

I seek mercy many times during the day and often at night. I am a penitential Lay Cistercian precisely because I call upon the name of the Lord to have mercy on me. I use the ancient prayer: Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me, a sinner. Over and over, I say it (within reason, of course).

With Christ, who has become the cornerstone that the builders have rejected, what seems like a failure in my human body and mind, transforms itself with Christ for me to become fully human as my nature intended.

Praise be to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. The God who is, who was, and who is to come at the end of the ages. Amen. –Cistercian doxologygy

FIVE PAIRS OF GLASSES TO SEE WHAT CANNOT BE SEEN

God gives you several gifts to commemorate the occasion when you are baptized. This is one of the most momentous events you will ever experience. Baptism is when Christ chooses you to be his disciple like he did to St. Peter and the other Apostles. Baptism removes the Original Sin of Adam and Eve and makes us adopted sons and daughters of the Father. That is good news. The bad news is that the effects of Original Sin still remain with us. Although Baptism is the initiation, what follows in our life is a gauntlet of temptations to do our own will and not follow the will of God. Christ has not left us, orphans. In each age, the Church universal, the living Body of Christ, is provided what we need to survive the minefields of life. Individually, we have access to at least five gifts given to us by the Father, which help us see with the eyes of Faith and listen with “the ear of the heart.” (St. Benedict: Prologue to the Rule) Does God really give us five pairs of glasses? You ask, “How can you see this?” I reply, “How is it you do not?”

FIVE GIFTS TO SEE WHAT CAN NOT BE SEEN Before I begin to enumerate these gifts, I don’t want to fly under false colors. These reflections come from my Lectio Divina medications and contemplations over the years. They are the end-product of many hours before the Blessed Sacrament in Eucharistic Adoration. They are progressive in that these five gifts are the accumulated results of over ten years of mellowing and testing these gifts against the crucible of reality. It must be said that approach these gifts, not as an expert in anything Cistercian, Lay Cistercian, or even Roman Catholic. I consider myself just a broken-down, old temple of the Holy Spirit, willing to try to listen to what Jesus tells me through his actual presence. I do not speak for God, only for my struggle with seeking God each day where I am and as I am. This being said, I offer you five different ways (there are more) that I use to grow deeper in my awareness of the Mystery of Faith. The cup you see represents me in the window of my life. My life with Christ in the Kingdom of Heaven may be seen through the foggy glass, colorful but cloudy. My window is dark and stark in its simplicity. My only focus is to discover each day what is in that cup. I will be using the cup as an aide to your meditation as you move through these five ways to see what cannot be seen with the world’s glasses, undoubtedly good but not good enough to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

I. HOW TO SEE THREE UNIVERSES YET ONE REALITY This first pair of glasses allows the wearer to see the totality of all reality. In fact, most people I have met only see two dimensions of reality: the physical and mental worlds (although we rarely reflect on them per se). This is a way of looking at what we see using three dimensions, not two. These three are similar to physical and mental dimensions, but I had a third, that of spiritual reality. This reality cannot be seen with just human eyes or thought about using the human mind. These are not dimensions as reality universes and correspond to three questions I had to ask myself about what it means to seek God every day.

THE PHYSICAL UNIVERSE: This universe is the base for all living things. It has a beginning and an end. It is corrupt in the sense that everything in it tends to deteriorate. Listen to a poem about deterioration. You are a part of that process of cosmic decay and cosmic birth. Can you see how it all fits together?

THE MENTAL UNIVERSE– This is the power to look at the physical universe and ask WHY and HOW. Why is it that only the human species has the two qualities of reasoning and choosing without recrimination? This is a universe where we learn what it means to be moral or the consequences of our wrong choices. It is the playground where we learn to love in such a way that we discover a power beyond mere sight, an invisible universe that is the most authentic we can experience.

THE SPIRITUAL UNIVERSE — This is a power beyond ourselves to lift up those signed with the cross to a new level of intelligent progression (evolution) that fulfills our destiny as a species. These glasses help us see the total scope of reality, not just two universes (physical and mental).

II. HOW TO SEE TWO WAYS TO LOOK AT LIFE The notion of three separate universes or dimensions yet one reality has been my theme for the last twenty years. It is a way that I have found helpful to look at reality, all reality. Yet, there is still a more profound element to the “three universes/one reality” pair of glasses. One thing about growing from self to God is I never reach the depths of the mystery of Faith. There is always a way to grow deeper and deeper. This second pair of glasses is an example. These glasses allow the user to look at three universes and probe even more profound. When you put on these glasses, you not only see three separate and distinct areas of reality, but you now notice that these three universes (physical, mental, and spiritual) form two ways of looking at life. The World and the Spirit.

III. HOW TO SEE AND ANSWER THE SIX QUESTIONS ABOUT LIFE BEFORE YOU DIE I am fixated on The Divine Equation, a theme that came to me while I was in Lectio Divina. Some would say, “That is just what you made up while you were in La-La land, and you just made those up out of air.” You would be right, except, “Can you answer the six questions that come from God designed to tell us what it means to be fully human?” I have what I consider to be the correct and authentic answers. They come to me outside myself and beyond nature, so I call it The Divine Equation. How do you know that these are the correct answers? How do you know they are not? This is not a case of “Got Cha.” The Divine Equation is not about solving who God is but using God’s five pairs of glasses to grow deeper to approach what it means to be truly human.

Now you have the real fundamental question to the six questions of life. Each of these questions must be answered because they are all linked together. Each correct answer contains the correct answer before it before you proceed. Who says what is correct?

  • What is the purpose of life?
  • What is my purpose in life within that purpose?
  • What does reality look like?
  • How does it all fit together?
  • How do I love fiercely?
  • You know you are going to die. Now what?

Answering these six questions, which come from God (which is why it is called The Divine Equation), opens us up to why we are here and how I am a necessary part of humanity.

IV. HOW TO GROW DEEPER IN YOUR AWARENESS OF INVISIBLE REALITY –– We do a decent job of looking at reality with science, logic, psychology, and philosophy tools. Because humans depend upon our senses to interpret reality, what we see takes precedence over what we can’t see, which many dismiss as being subjective, in my opinion, and thus inaccurate. This thinking is what I term the place where Steven Hawking could not look. Lest you misunderstand, I do not refer to his brilliance in opening the doors to many ideas about cosmology. I simply state that the Achilles heel of a scientific approach to reality only looks at the physical universe using the mental universe. Most of what is to be discovered by humans are invisible, contained in the place humans are afraid to look inside themselves. The limitation of the scientific approach is that some don’t look at a deeper dimension to intelligent progression, which grows exponentially deeper with being in the presence of The Christ Principle.

As a Lay Cistercian, one of the striking discoveries I have made about what is real is a validation of what fox says to the little prince in Exupere’s, The Little Prince. “What is essential is invisible to the eye.” This set of glasses allows you to see a deeper dimension of reality; one has a different set of assumptions than the “reality is only what you can see, feel, taste, touch, and hear approach.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkiZuu79N_I (Turn on the cc for better results.) It is all a matter of perspective.

Growing deeper in Christ Jesus first requires that you hold that you can discover this relationship and that it is accurate. Next, you must use the methodology of placing yourself in proximity to the source of pure energy using the glasses provided to you at Baptism, which allows you to see what the world considers foolishness.

V. HOW TO APPROACH THE ONE PLACE NO ONE WANTS TO LOOK BY USING CONTEMPLATION

This next pair of glasses allows you to see what cannot be seen by physical and mental eyes. This is discovering “the ear of the heart.” Silence, solitude, work, prayer, and community are all charisms of Cistercian spirituality. As an individual Lay Cistercian, I approach contemplation by using Lectio Divina for a deeper dive into my humanity. As the Scriptures suggest, it is folly for the Gentiles and a stumbling block for the Jews. The builders of the earth have rejected the cornerstone, but it is the Christ Principle, the center of all that is, was, or will be. Nothing magic. As I mentioned earlier, Steven Hawking could not go here because he never considered it worthwhile. In this context, I refer to my hero, Steven Hawking, who could not look here. Still, he is an archetype for the scientific inquiry that limits itself to the reality of the physical and mental universes. If you don’t expand your horizon to look for what is invisible, you won’t be able to see beyond what you can see. To me, that is not scientific inquiry. Humans have reason, so we can push the boundaries of what is and ask questions about our destiny as fully human as nature intended.

LEARNING POINTS

  • You won’t be able to see what is invisible reality unless you use the glasses given to you at Baptism.
  • You must take the trouble to put on the glasses.
  • You must realize that although there are five different situations, there is only one pair of glasses, not five.
  • If you don’t think there is anything to see, you see nothing worth seeing.
  • Prayer is the energy to be present in the real presence of Christ through the Holy Spirit.

THE LIFE OF CHRIST

I have attached The Life of Christ, by the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. It is a must-read for me.

https://fulton-sheen.catholic.edu/bio/index.html

THE DEVIL’S HANDBOOK: Possession and Q&A.

This entry is the second in a series on what I imagine the Devil might write as a handbook. They are the results of my Lectio Divina meditations (not contemplations) about my temptations and missteps. This might be Satan’s graduation address to those graduating from his Basic Course on Seduction.

My dear purveyors of falsehoods and evil thoughts:

I wanted to talk to you about possession because it is unlike your usual work assignments of suggesting evil to weak and prideful humans. Possession is the big league of demonology.

The earth is my domain, not God’s, and our job as pure spirits is to infest the minds of the pusillanimous with suggestions that will sidetrack them from choosing what is right versus what is easy. My big problem with all humans, not you, are dealing with their ability to say YES or NO to me and my thinking. It is frustrating as the ruler of the kingdom of earth to have humans say NO to me and my will. I alone know what is good for them and what leads them to a permanent state of hatred of god and themselves. Oh, how I love to laugh scornfully at those who abandon God in favor of me and can’t return to resonance with the kingdom of heaven. Their wills are my will forever. Don’t believe that fire is the most excruciating pain there is. No! It knows that they missed the mark (sin) on the purpose of human existence and can’t go back. Fellow demons, you must join me in ridiculing humans in Hell 24/7, laughing at them because they could have had everything and now just have me. I love it!

As pure spirits, there are two types of possession for humans; one is to suggest evil and that there is no Satan. You are outside of humans but infiltrate their minds. You have no control over what they choose but have influence as a voice in their conscience that tells them happiness is not what God says is good. It is too difficult to be God’s follower. They must die to their false self. How inconvenient, although it is true. Those of you who have been branded with 666 upon graduation move to a new dimension of possession, one that seeks to enter the hearts of humans and displace goodness with my pride, envy, jealousy, factions, orgies, and making me god of the kingdom of earth.

So, how can you possess humans as I possess you? Let me count the ways:

Humans can say NO to us, but we have an ace in the hole, original sin. Humans are created good but must maintain that goodness constantly against our relentless roaring about seeking whom we may devour.

Once humans get tired of their struggle because they drift away from prayer and become bored with God (I can relate to that), you can use your powers of seduction of the mind to move them farther and farther away from God and closer to my will. It is an authentic tug of war. Don’t give up. Humans tire easily without God’s power to sustain them.

Once you have toppled their center, here is your chance to suggest that they put me as their center, what makes them human and fulfilled. Of course, it is false, but they don’t know that. They become prideful in their achievements and seek only what makes them happy.

There is a problem, one that God has as well. Humans must keep themselves centered on me. It takes work and energy to do that. Your job is there until their last moments.

You have the opportunity to move from the seduction of the mind to one of the heart. This is the deepest penetration of our demon hood into the actual body of the person so that there is no more room for their own ability to choose. You choose for them. These humans are hosts for evil and don’t even know it. You will know them by what comes out of their mouths and the treasures they claim in their hearts. This is the highest joy we demons have.

As an incentive for each of you, I will assign one of these fallen humans (like we were fallen angels) to you to stimulate your hatred and anger to new levels of satisfaction. You can build many souls in your care if you work hard over the centuries. Some have thousands of souls in their legion, all screaming for someone to end their torment. Do you remember the story of Lazarus in the Scriptures? You can laugh at them, along with me, for their mistake in missing the purpose of life, although it was right in front of them all alone. There is nothing more satisfying for a demon than to laugh hysterically in the face of a human who thought we were God, only to discover that we are a false god.

Your graduation does not mean you have concluded your effort but only have them begin again. There will always be a new crop of gullible humans from which you can gain additional souls to your cadre.

I can now take some questions from the graduates.

Can demons take on human appearance? Of course. You don’t have a corporeal body like humans, but you have the ability to take on a persona or just remain a evil whisperer.

In our bad of tricks you gave us, what, in your experience, is the most effective tool we can use to separate humans from their Faith? Factioning. Split up families, dioceses, local churches, and individuals and you divide and conquer. All you have to do is wait.

Does good equal evil in your eyes? No. Evil does have its own power, but depends upon the power of humans on earth for its validity. Those humans marked with the cross, have been lifted up to the next level of their evolution and are above the powers of the earth (or the World, as Scriptures relates).

Are atheists, agnostics, unbelievers and the like evil and on our side? Depends. Most of these groups don’t even know what they don’t know. One of their problems is that they can’t think outside of the paradigm that they have constructed for what reality looks like. They only look at the earth not the kingdom of heaven. This approach benefits us but they may not be actual followers of me. They do my bidding by their lack of Faith as intended by their evolution.

What is your favorite food? I usually joke it is Devil’s Food Cake, but we don’t need or eat food as humans expect it to be. My food and its energy comes when someone makes me god and forsakes God.

Who is more powerful, you or God? I am, of course. The reason is I chose NO to what God is and no one can tell me differently. Humans can say YES or NO to both God and me. That is why you are here. Recruitment. The problem is, if humans knew what Hell was truly like, we would only have ourselves in this kingdom of earth and no one would want to follow us. That is why we get results using chacainery, deceit, lying, and prevarication. It works.

That is all. Off you go to do my will and build up souls in your portfolio to torment forever. Who says this is not fun?

THE HUMAN RAMIFICATIONS OF DARKNESS AND LIGHT –Part II

One of the characteristics of the Holy Spirit, as I observe our interaction, is being long-winded. If you remember, I spoke of at least four strings or patterns that cut across the physical, mental, and spiritual universes in Part I of the ramifications of dissonance. One string but three meanings depending on what universe they are in. Compounding this phenomenon is that all three universes are lived out in each moment, despite having a beginning when created and an end whenever that happens.

Quantum mechanics has its string theory. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0UcrGncBTo

The problem with the physical universe and the attempt by quantum theoretical physics to explain it is that you only see one-third of reality, the other third being the universe of the mind and the universe of the Spirit. Across the expanse of temporal time that we experience, using The Rule of Threes stretches at least seven filaments or strings that could be considered cross-cutting or binder straps.

  • If there is no physical universe, there can be no mental universe. Similarly, if there is no physical and mental universe, there can be no spiritual universe. This is part of the intelligent progression.
  • The physical universe is the reality that is and acts as the base for human life.
  • The mental universe is a reality that specific languages (science, mathematics, physics, astronomy, psychology, philosophy) look at physical reality and ask HOW, WHY, WHEN, WHAT, WHO, and SO WHAT?
  • The spiritual universe is an anomaly because all knowledge, love, and service in this universe are incorruptible (having a beginning for each individual in Baptism but no end). It must be entered by an act of free will and sustained by interaction with the incorruptibility of pure energy. Christ is the Principle by, through, and with whom we can even be this pure energy into ourselves according to our capacity (capacitas dei). Because humans must maintain dual citizenship (the corruptibility of matter and mind) interacting with the incorruptibility of the Spirit, we feel the force generated by this conflict much as a polar magnetic reversal. The world exerts a pull against the spiritual universe, which we must counter daily through Lectio Divina, Eucharist, Eucharistic Adoration, Reading Scriptures and the inspiration of the Saints, and just going into our inner room, locking the door, and sitting down next to the heart of Christ…and waiting. It takes work to keep yourself centered on the way, the truth, and life.
  • The problem with the spiritual universe is that you must choose it to enter it. To be partially aware of this, I have used The Parable of the Prodigal Son to help me tease out possible meanings of this problem. If I am Baptized, our human reasoning says, and it is confirmed by the Scriptures, then how is it that others who are not Baptized as Jesus taught to get to heaven with the same reward as I do?
  • Those who have been redeemed by the lamb’s blood (the fulfillment of the sacrifice of Abraham and the Arc of the Covenant) have been gifted adoption by the Father. As a result, they must walk in the footsteps of the Master and offer their life for the forgiveness of their sins and the hope of the Resurrection. They walk in the Light that penetrates the darkness of the world so that they might see what the world does not see (there is no god, and Christ is only a story) and receive energy to ask that they be lifted up to the next level of their evolution in, with, and through Christ.
  • Darkness has no power in and of itself. Light is energy and comes from divine nature, not human nature. This enables those who have Faith to see that what seems like a total folly to those who have no eyes to see is the cornerstone of reality.
  • To use science, philosophy, and theology, the world needs Light to see in the mental universe. In the physical universe of matter, darkness is the default but has no energy, and Light is energy and contains intelligent progression as time moves toward its ultimate destiny. This is still the universe of matter, but now with the addition that we know that we can choose to meet our needs (remembering that we come from animality). In the third universe, that of the Spirit, we must die to ourselves and offer our wills to that of the Father each day. It is a voluntary gift based on our realization that Jesus is our Lord and Savior. This third universe is the opposite of the first two, the sign of contradiction. Darkness in this universe, while we are alive, is creeping corruption. The darkness seeks to encroach on the Light of our Christ Center unless we cut the grass of our Faith each day and make all things new. We do this with the enlightenment and energy of the Holy Spirit, which allows us to sit next to the beating heart of Christ and receive this power directly from Him. Our spiritual self needs the energy to continue the fight to resist Satan and his demons that thrive in the world’s darkness and try to pull us from being lifted up to the next level of our evolution. This is not a titanic battle as much as it is a Satanic battle for our soul. Our task is to keep the Pascal candle of Christ lit in the hurricane winds that seek to separate us from Christ.

THE CROSS-CUTTING THEME OF DARKNESS AND LIGHT IN THREE UNIVERSES

The darkness and light themes are most appropriate for humans who abide by these natural occurrences to be able to see at all. As I do with all my ideas, I subject them to the discipline of the Rule of Threes. This is not a rule in the scientific sense, but a measure that I use to make sense out of a universe that I am finding simultaneously more complex and yet described by The Christ Principle. It is one reality with three levels of existence; the physical universe or base; the mental universe or world of reason and free choice; all leading to the spiritual universe, housing both the questions and answers to what it means to be human as our nature intended.

Light in the physical universe is the universe where Light exists due to progressive interactions of gravity, mass, gases, atoms, and time that produce energy in the form of photons. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IXxZRZxafEQ My point is that there are rules humans did not create called natural laws in this universe of matter. Humans exist in this universe but only as a bunch of atoms and other life forms.

Light in the mental universe — Light in the physical universe allows us to see what surrounds us. We have eyes with which we see can interact with our environment, whatever that might be. In the mental universe, Light can mean several things: the ability to look at science and other languages that help us survive the rigors of life events. There is also a mental light that is enlightenment, as it is more about our environment. Scientific and philosophical thought allows me to use present and past knowledge to decide future options. Moving forward in the Light of knowledge means I continue to wonder about the reality around me and ask the interrogatories to discover meaning. As an individual, enlightenment allows me to add to my individual expression of the purpose of life. It is different for me than for you, but no less real. Light in the mental universe means I must deal with the realities that I cannot see, such as human emotion, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and assimilating what is hidden in my mind with what is visible to my eyes. Awareness, collectively as humans and individually, or how I take that collective knowledge and use the template of meaning that I have discovered, is the sum total of who I am. It is intelligent progression because I only live in physical time. I have a memory to hold on to some of the present situations and lessons I learn from experimentation of what is right and wrong. Each individual can choose different systems of thinking to move deeper into the mystery of human existence.

I use three systems of thinking. You use none of these or have different ones. Quidquid recepitur ad modum recepientis recepitur or “Whatever is received, is received according to the disposition of the one who receives it.” This is why I can have The Christ Principle as my center, with all the assumptions I have formed about it, but an atheist doesn’t “see” any of this in the slightest and thinks I am delusional. I am delusional according to their disposition while making perfect sense to me. These systems are assumptions that I have picked up along the way, tested through trials and errors, and have chosen to make the template or key to explaining all that is. When looking at how all reality fits together, I have discovered that The Christ Principle is just the opposite of what the world thinks is real, according to science, philosophy, and even some other religious systems. Here are my three systems.

SCIENTIFIC THINKING — This is one of three ways I view reality. Scientific thinking looks at reality and asks the core questions about the matter, what makes up what we can see and measure with the languages of mathematics, medicine, statistics, chemistry, and physics, to name but a few. Without science, we would not probe the depths of the universe (relativity) or the atom (quantum mechanics).

PHILOSOPHICAL THINKING — This dimension of my thinking asks why something is, just like science, but uses philosophy and cognitive systems to answer it. Different measurements, different methodologies, but the same question. I use poetry to look at the Horsehead Nebula and ask questions that are not limited by matter. I use literature and various literary devices to explore the seemingly bottomless archetype of Genesis, Chapters 1 and 2, and The Christ Principle. I use Joseph Campbell’s notion of hero myth to apply these commentaries on human behavior and the need for closer to our evolutional process. It is not scientific but a different view of the same reality, like the Hindu story of the elephant. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJVBQefNXIw

THE CHRIST PRINCIPLE — In intelligent progression, the scientific approach is superior to others in looking at visible reality and taking apart reality to enlighten us about what it is. The philosophical approach is another way to look at reality, one that can look at visible and invisible reality and ask interrogatory questions to lead to more enlightenment. These two systems of thinking seek to explore the wonder of what is about it but with different tools. They are complementary but very different in their systematic approaches. Here are some characteristics:

Light in this system of thinking emanates from the Christ Principle. It is not physical Light or human enlightenment but rather the opposite. It is the sign of contradiction that solves The Divine Equation but uses the energy of the Holy Spirit and the enlightenment of the Father to teach humans that, to be fully human, they must love another as Christ loved us. This Principle encapsulates scientific and human inquiry using cognitive and archetypal literary devices. It provides the final key or template into which all reality flows and from which humans gain fulfillment of their human nature as intended in the Garden of Eden.

This Light is the energy of the divine nature, one unknowable except through the Christ Principle, yet the fulfillment of all that is in Point Omega.

Light in the spiritual universe — When we all are baptized, Catholic or not, we receive the sign of the cross on our forehead and a tattoo on our hearts. This means we are all adopted sons and daughters of the Father. We have dual citizenship as children of the Light. Light plays an essential part in what it means to be a foreigner in a foreign land (the earth where we live until death). That does not mean we know more than anyone else but that we can SEE more than others who only live in two universes (physical and mental). Read what John has to say.

God is Light.

5Now this is the message that we have heard from him and proclaim to you: God is light,* and in him there is no darkness at all.

6If we say, “We have fellowship with him,” while we continue to walk in darkness, we lie and do not act in truth.e

7But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin.f

8If we say, “We are without sin,” we deceive ourselves,* and the truth is not in us.g

9If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing.h

10If we say, “We have not sinned,” we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.i

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/1john/1

Our Omega, the terminal end to our existence as humans, those who can see that and those who do not, is The Christ Principle, the energy source of the Light of the World.

None of these three levels of darkness or Light depends on whether I believe them to be true or not. The energy that produces Light so that I can fulfill my human destiny shine from an utterly different nature, The Divine Equation. The enlightenment of God provides me with the questions and answers to the six questions each human must seek to answer correctly. Darkness will not help with these answers because it has no energy and is dependent on itself.

Hell is the darkness of this third universe, where people who choose can go spend their eternity in physical and spiritual darkness. The absence of Light is not physical Light but the Light of Christ. Purgatory is a condition where people who never had the Father’s adoption or a clue about the way, the truth, or the life can go to penance for their sins. It is a place of second chances.

LEARNING POINTS

  • If you are Baptized Catholic, don’t take Light or darkness for granted.
  • You must choose each day to “have in you the mind of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5)
  • You can walk in the darkness or in the Light.
  • Each day is a conversion to Jesus as Lord.
  • It is not easy or fun to carry your cross like Christ did, but it is your lot as one with the cross on your forehead.
  • Nothing about the Christ Principle makes sense using only the world’s logic, science, or philosophy.
  • Each day, in your morning offering, remember who you are and where you are headed as an adopted son (daughter) of the Father.
  • God chose you; you did not choose God. Belief is when you say “Thank you.” for all the gifts you have received from His bounty through Christ, Our Lord.
  • We deserve none of this because all humans are sinners (except Jesus and Mary).

CONTEMPLATIVE THOUGHT ABOUT LIFE AND LOVE FROM SAINTS AND SINNERS Part II

Here are some inspirational quotes for your reflection and meditation.

St. Charles de Foucault

“Above all, always see Jesus in every person, and consequently treat each one not only as an equal and as a brother or sister, but also with great humility, respect and selfless generosity.” ~ Charles de Foucauld

“It is not necessary to teach others, to cure them, or to improve them; it is only necessary to live among them, sharing the human condition and being present to them in love.” ~ Charles de Foucauld

“As soon as I came to believe there was a God, I understood that I could not do otherwise than live only for him.” ~ Charles de Foucauld

“To love anyone is to hope in him for always. From the moment at which we begin to judge anyone, to limit our confidence in him, from the moment at which we identify him with what we know of him and so reduce him to that, we cease to love him and he ceases to be able to be better.” ~ Charles de Foucauld

“We should never forget the two axioms: ‘Jesus is with me’ and whatever happens, happens by the will of God.” ~ Charles de Foucauld

“The absence of risk is a sure sign of mediocrity.” ~ Charles de Foucauld

“Cry the Gospel with your whole life.” ~ Charles de Foucauld

https://www.charlesdefoucauld.org/en/biographie.php

SAINT AUGUSTINE

“Take care of your body as if you were going to live forever; and take care of your soul as if you were going to die tomorrow.” ~ Saint Augustine

“To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek him the greatest adventure; to find him, the greatest human achievement.” ~ Saint Augustine

“The truth is like a lion; you don’t have to defend it. Let it loose; it will defend itself.” ~ Saint Augustine

“Because God has made us for Himself, our hearts are restless until they rest in Him.” ~ Saint Augustine

“There is no saint without a past, no sinner without a future.” ~ Saint Augustine

“If God seems slow in responding, it is because He is preparing a better gift. He will not deny us. God withholds what you are not yet ready for. He wants you to have a lively desire for His greatest gifts. All of which is to say, pray always and do not lose heart.” ~ Saint Augustine

“Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are.” ~ Saint Augustine

“Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.” ~ Saint Augustine

“In order to discover the character of people we have only to observe what they love.” ~ Saint Augustine

“What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.” ~ Saint Augustine

“Remember this. When people choose to withdraw far from a fire, the fire continues to give warmth, but they grow cold. When people choose to withdraw far from light, the light continues to be bright in itself but they are in darkness. This is also the case when people withdraw from God.” ~ Saint Augustine

“If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.” ~ Saint Augustine

“The measure of love is to love without measuring.” ~ Saint Augustine

https://www.ecatholic2000.com/cts/untitled-422.shtml

THE DEVIL’S HANDBOOK: Lessons on how to seduce humans.

This blog is the first series on the premise that if the Devil had a handbook to train demons in how to seduce the faithful, what would be in it. Of course, I made all of this up. Still, the content comes from my Lectio Divina meditations, and the examples are those I experienced during my ongoing struggle with the Great Prevaricator.

If you have not read The Screwtape Letters, I will encourage you to listen to the audiobook now. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuPcCq0VtWo

My Dear Purveyors of Evil:

Today’s lesson is essential because I will show you whom to seduce. All humans are not worthy of your time.

LESSON ONE: WHO IS A DEMON, AND THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF DEMONS. I write this for you who are demon spirits. T.We don’t have human physical bodies or live in the world. We do have reason and freedom to choose. You have chosen me; I have not chosen you. You live by my rules, not your own. These rules are:

Hatred is to be preferred over love; don’t let anyone tell you what to do except me;

Get anyone with the cross mark on their forehead to cross over to the darkness of sin.

Sin is good; it fosters the anarchy of the individual as a god. Remember, your sign is that of the beast.

Flee from God and those who call him Master, Savior, Rabbi, or Lord. You have one Lord, the Lord of the Earth, and that is me. I am a jealous being who does not suffer fools gladly.

I commend you on your selection for those who are seduced by their own choice. You are humans who, not knowing what you choose, have joined me in hatred of God and those he calls friends.

The third type of demon is a human who has not chosen me or even a clue that they are doing my will but thinks they are correct that there is God or Church. They do my will without even realizing that they have been possessed. They do speak good demon nonetheless.

LESSON TWO: DISCERN — I will list some people you should stay away from because they are already corrupted and not worth your interest or energy.

  • Movie Stars in general, specifically those who think they can speak for me in trying to push hatred and anarchy of free choice. They lead lives that seem glamorous but inside are a bag of dead bones. If we leave them alone, they sometimes do a much better job than us. Let the painter paint.
  • Politicians
  • Amoral thinkers
  • Atheists and Agnostics, Pagans and Druids, Witches and Warlocks. Leave them alone.
  • False prophets and preachers of prosperity gospel who think money is their god. It is. They don’t need us.
  • Anyone who calls the innocent bad names makes fun of them because they hold fast to teachings that we hate.
  • Secular humanists propagate their egos by thinking that being fully human means moral anarchy. They don’t need us; we need them.
  • Pedophile clergymen and women of all denominations and professions. Once they are hooked and addicted to porn, sexual anarchy, and thinking that all morality is based on what they think is true, you got them and don’t need to waste your time. Of course, they may convert and repent, but the odds are in our favor.
  • Teenagers who slough off the hard way favor a sloth-filled life geared to their appetites and whims. Like teenagers who drink to drunkenness because it is fun, they think they are strong but are pusillanimous. But don’t know it. They have no foundation for morality and are already in our camp.
  • Public School teachers who advocate no moral compass or
  • Scientists lock themselves out of the reality of the invisible and think that science has the power to help them move to the next level of evolution. Scientific thinking is not evil, but those who fail to open themselves to the totality of all people we need to avoid.
  • Global leaders who advocate taking over other counties just because they can are not worth your time.
  • Political, racial, and religious fractional leadership seeks to dominate rather than serve their constituents by dividing humans. They help us more than you know.

LESSON THREE: Know your enemy. This is a list that I want you to pin on your mirror in the morning so that you never forget the enemy. This segment is about the top ten people that demons should focus on to knock them off of their centers and so begin the slippery slope of sin. I am writing this as though Satan is talking to his Legions, giving them instructions on what to do and not do. These are those who have been marked with the sign of the cross on their foreheads, so you can know your enemy.

  • Jesus. Seduce him, and I’ll make you major domo. I failed at this.
  • The Pope. Seduce him, and you get Demon of the Year.
  • Sincere and innocent priests, nuns, and laity who try to love each other.
  • Monks and nuns in monasteries live out the Ordinary’s Martyrdom daily.
  • Lay Cistercians and other Lay Institutes.
  • Anyone who claims Jesus is Lord.
  • The sick and dying are weak and vulnerable.
  • Those who allow their Faith to grow weeds from lack of care.

LESSON FOUR: JOB DESCRIPTION OF A DEMON MEMBER OF THE FAMILY OF SATAN

If you want to be a member of my family destined for the profound darkness of evil, then you must do the following.

  • Give up your free will to choose good or bad in favor of what my will is.
  • Worship me as the god of the Kingdom of Earth and your master. I am the Great Attractor on earth and the Accuser of all Humans.
  • Cultivate a hatred of God and all those who seek to do his will.
  • Latch on to one human at a time before you move to the next one. Completely dominate their willpower to bend to my will to hate others as I hate you.
  • You must hate God daily with all your strength, all your mind, and all your heart.
  • Learn to hate what is good about humans and always seek to destroy their Faith in God.
  • You must love to punish those in hell whom you have seduced with mental and physical torments.
  • You have no power to enter a person unless they ask or act as evil. If someone invites you into their inner self, seek to enter meekly, then destroy everything inside that is good or inclined to love anyone.
  • If you are a pure demon spirit, pursue your prey without ceasing.

LESSON FIVE: Specific tactics to separate humans from what they think is good.

  • Never mention the name of God (I do it only with utter contempt). Ugh!
  • Always suggest that religion is against pro-choice and abortion and, therefore, somehow evil.
  • Don’t let anyone tell you what to do (except my will, for I am the truth).
  • “Religion is the opium of the people,” you should whisper to the weak in mind and heart.
  • Always whisper softly in the ears of humans that if God really cared about them, He would not have allowed the pain to hurt little children and abuse them with pedophile predators.
  • Encourage those who think they are strong to rape and pillage others. You can tell these people from their center. They placed the pleasure of their sexual organs as their center and only wished to excite their free will.
  • Separate people with a penchant for evil and envy from those who seek to love others.
  • Encourage gossiping and factions.
  • Love to seduce the innocent only to laugh in their faces later that they should not have listened to you.
  • Suggest to the weak-minded that, after all, it is only sex that is involved, some quite natural and to be used to make you full as a human being.
  • Suggest to people that I am just as good as God, in fact, better because, while they live, I allow them to do whatever they please. None of this morality stuff.
  • Put the idea that I have as much power as God. There is the realm of good and its equal, the realm of bad. God doesn’t want you to be like him, so there are behaviors Christ suggests that go against reason and don’t make sense. Tell them to resist doing what God wants.
  • Place the thought inside them that you don’t have to work to keep me out of their center. They can commit once, I can buy that one, but not daily. Resist their efforts to have habits that increase God every day but decrease me.
  • Use the technique of redirection, made famous by most politicians and movie stars. Suggest that what makes you feel good is normal for a human. The Church is just trying to confuse you with its insistence on penance and humility. Ugh!
  • Use sincerity as a reason to hold hatred and anger. Racial divisions and religious factions are a good way to drive a wedge between spouses or family members. Quote slogans such as “I’ts my body and no one can tell me what to do with it,” and “Religion is just a bunch of fairy tales like the tooth fairy,”
  • Appeal to those who have been a victim of sin (which includes anyone who ever lived) and wronged by another that they deserve resistitution and vengence. Keep their thinking away from forgiveness and mercy. Feed upon their hatred and self pity.
  • Those who have a weak spirit are especially vulnerable to the suggestion of jealousy, self-pity, hatred, vengence, and hurting others who hurt them. Hook them with kindness but always leave them enslaved to your will.

LESSON SIX: How to speak good demon.

You don’t need to speak science, human experiences, or even how to fulfill the human heart with what it craves most, sexual pleasure. You do need to speak a modicum of demon language. Here I am not speaking of pure demons that come without human form or function. I mean those humans who are committed to wiping out God from the minds and hearts of all humans. Some are atheists, agnostics, pagans, or simply those who hate God. The third group of demons doesn’t even know they are demons but push evil. These individuals don’t know what they don’t know and are useless to me and my kingdom. We use them because they help us by their ignorance and the false values they hold. They don’t need to speak demon.

THE LANGUAGE OF DEMONS

Learning any language is a process of knowing about 3000 to 5,000 words and practicing how to use them in sentences so that others may receive what you send and make sense of it. In your case, this means you learn these key ideas and present them to the minds of the weak and vulnerable followers of God’s language. Can you imagine that God has only one rule, to love others as He loves you? Love is weak and mushy. We should burden people with all kinds of guilt and rules designed to cause humans to be less and less human and more and more like animal nature from which they evolved. Language is our way of suggesting to our targets that no one should tell them what to do, especially Jesus.

Here are some words, and their accompanying behavioral habits that I want you to memorize and then use against the weak and pusillanimous so that they choose our way and not God’s. Worshipping self and the images within your center slowly strips humans of their Faith (if they have it at all). https://www.britannica.com/topic/seven-deadly-sins

(1) vainglory, or pride,

(2) greed, or covetousness,

(3) lust, or inordinate or illicit sexual desire,

(4) envy,

(5) gluttony, which is usually understood to include drunkenness,

(6) wrath, or anger, and

(7) sloth

  • immorality,
  • impurity,
  • licentiousness,o
  • idolatry,
  • sorcery,
  • hatreds,
  • rivalry,
  • jealousy,
  • outbursts of fury,
  • acts of selfishness,
  • dissensions,
  • factions,p
  • occasions of envy,* 
  • drinking bouts,
  • orgies.

Always remember, I am the Lord of the Earth, and you must help me rule by suggesting to people that I am a king. Those who follow me will reap the benefits of the words that you have just learned how to seduce the weak-willed and those with a lack of resolve.

WHAT DOES DEMON SPEAK LOOK LIKE?

Here are a couple of examples of what I am talking about. These people don’t realize what they are saying. They are perfect candidates for demons because they think with their egos and use calumny and detraction instead of their normal human reasoning to respond to questions that they can’t answer. These are not my statements but some I lifted from others. They are real.

Part II is to come.

uiodg

FIVE MUST-SEE CATHOLIC MOVIES

These are my five favorite movies. Your list might be different.

The Left Hand of God starring Humphrey Bogart

The Keys of the Kingdom starring Gregory Peck

A Man for All Seasons starring Paul Scoffield

Of Gods and Men (Seven Cistercians Martyrs)

The Shoes of the Fisherman starring Anthony Quinn

WHAT IT MEANS TO BE CATHOLIC: The neverending story.

My thoughts this morning are a reflection of, not only what I am, but more importantly, who I have and will become if I continue to profess my Faith through the Catholic approach to spirituality. I write this, not to apologize (defend) or try to prove my Church is better than your Church (denomination), but to lay out my ideas so that I might grow deeper into the Mysterium Fidei (the great Mystery of Faith). This blog is about me and who I hope to become Forever.

My guess is that all humans, towards the end of their lives, try to reflect on a lifetime of making choices plus living out their consequences. I know it is true of me. More and more, I reflect on my end time (and why not, I can throw a rock and hit 80+ years). Having the advantage of looking back on my life’s accomplishments, I realize six great, important truths that only wisdom of age can tease out of the mundane activities from which I have emerged. They may not be the ones you might expect to find. They are:

ONE REALITY HAS THREE DISTINCT UNIVERSES: EACH HAS ITS OWN LANGUAGE AND REQUIREMENTS

Most recently, as I have become more and more aware of what it means for me to move from self to God, I use the three universe test to reflect on reality from the viewpoint of a Lay Cistercian. This way of reasoning is the result of my attempt to fit all reality into the mold of science/philosophy/religion. I wrote about this way that I reflect on the reality in a recent blog entitled, “I have heart problems.” You can read it here. https://thecenterforcontemplativepractice.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.php?post_type=post&jetpack-copy=8108

WHY DO HUMANS POSSESS TWO ATTRIBUTES OTHER LIVING THINGS DO NOT? THEY HAVE REASON FOR A REASON, AND THEY HAVE THE ABILITY TO CHOOSE. EVERYTHING, IN REALITY, HAS A BEGINNING AND AN END, WITH ONE EXCEPTION.

When humans try to unscramble the seemingly contradictory signs of science, medicine, philosophy, and literature, there can be many points of view about what is real and what is not. I am astonished that we can actually ask the question at all.

THE CHRIST PRINCIPLE: LOVE IS A PERSON

Who better to tell us who God is than God? Moses received a description of who God was on Mount Horeb. God communicates through Jesus, our Mediator, and Universal Translator. People wrote down what he said and did so his followers would have a way, the truth, and live a life that would take them to heaven, beginning right now. We are adopted sons and daughters when we respond to Faith with our consent, Yes. It reconfirms the commitment of Mary to being overshadowed by the Holy Spirit. Love is a person, not an attribute. Read John 20:30-31.

THE CHURCH UNIVERSAL AS THE NEW JERUSALEM IN EACH AGE

Being Catholic is like the 50,000-foot level of spirituality with the Holy Father linking us with St. Peter the Apostle. This level is the universal Church, the living Body of Christ with Christ Himself as its Head in Heaven. Those in heaven with God are called the Church Triumphant; those on earth who proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes are called Church Militant; those awaiting purification and a second chance to profess their belief that Jesus is the Son of God, Savior are the Church Purgative.

Other levels are the 5,000-foot level or diocese, each with a bishop with links to the Apostles. This is the level of collective gathering. The next is the 500-foot level which is the parish, with an ordained priest linked to the Apostles. Last is me, at the 5-foot level. It is on this level that I have been accepted as a Lay Cistercian by the Monastery of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit (Trappist). http://www.trappist.net

All levels are the body of Christ. All levels are one, holy, catholic, and apostolic, as we say in the Creed. I belong to Christ as an adopted son.

The New Jerusalem is the fulfillment of what Christ came to show us. Each age must take up the challenge of taking up their cross, dying to self to rise again with Christ, to love one another as Christ has loved us.

In all of this, I do not presume to judge others as to their beliefs. God is the judge of the individual soul. I try to see where we can agree and pray together, recognizing that there is but one truth, one Lord, one Baptism.

SAYINGS

Just because your road is rocky, doesn’t mean you are on the wrong road.

All the rowers in the world won’t help you if your boat has a hole in it.

Mud thrown is ground lost.

You won’t break the commandment but they might break you.

The Scriptures are not to be read and memorized but rather lived and practiced.

Don’t dig a hole so big you cannot climb out of it.

SHOES OF THE FISHERMAN: THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY

One of the things I like about the Catholic Church is its vulnerability, tripping over the wrong pathways only to reconnect with the Holy Spirit and renew itself. It is a history of how the Church is Holy because Christ is Holy, but each Pope is a sinful person who sometimes makes wrong choices. A Church without the battle scars of bouts with Satan and even its own members is not a Church worth trusting. I celebrate this humanity, knowing that the Holy Spirit, our Second Advocate, will not let the gates of Hell prevail.

Having said all that, the Holy Spirit selected the Pope to lead us. Be careful that your pride doesn’t trip up your Faith. My Faith never has been, nor ever will be, in any Pope, Church, or Bishop. It is in Christ Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, who overshadowed the Pope, Church, Bishop, and you.

Here is a listing of Popes, the good, the bad, and the ugly. They are from http://www.newadvent.org. My questions for you are at the end of this Canon.

“See also POPEPAPAL ELECTIONSELECTION OF THE POPE.

  1. St. Peter (32-67)
  2. St. Linus (67-76)
  3. St. Anacletus (Cletus) (76-88)
  4. St. Clement I (88-97)
  5. St. Evaristus (97-105)
  6. St. Alexander I (105-115)
  7. St. Sixtus I (115-125) Also called Xystus I
  8. St. Telesphorus (125-136)
  9. St. Hyginus (136-140)
  10. St. Pius I (140-155)
  11. St. Anicetus (155-166)
  12. St. Soter (166-175)
  13. St. Eleutherius (175-189)
  14. St. Victor I (189-199)
  15. St. Zephyrinus (199-217)
  16. St. Callistus I (217-22) Callistus and the following three popes were opposed by St. Hippolytusantipope (217-236)
  17. St. Urban I (222-30)
  18. St. Pontian (230-35)
  19. St. Anterus (235-36)
  20. St. Fabian (236-50)
  21. St. Cornelius (251-53) Opposed by Novatianantipope (251)
  22. St. Lucius I (253-54)
  23. St. Stephen I (254-257)
  24. St. Sixtus II (257-258)
  25. St. Dionysius (260-268)
  26. St. Felix I (269-274)
  27. St. Eutychian (275-283)
  28. St. Caius (283-296) Also called Gaius
  29. St. Marcellinus (296-304)
  30. St. Marcellus I (308-309)
  31. St. Eusebius (309 or 310)
  32. St. Miltiades (311-14)
  33. St. Sylvester I (314-35)
  34. St. Marcus (336)
  35. St. Julius I (337-52)
  36. Liberius (352-66) Opposed by Felix IIantipope (355-365)
  37. St. Damasus I (366-84) Opposed by Ursicinus, antipope (366-367)
  38. St. Siricius (384-99)
  39. St. Anastasius I (399-401)
  40. St. Innocent I (401-17)
  41. St. Zosimus (417-18)
  42. St. Boniface I (418-22) Opposed by Eulalius, antipope (418-419)
  43. St. Celestine I (422-32)
  44. St. Sixtus III (432-40)
  45. St. Leo I (the Great) (440-61)
  46. St. Hilarius (461-68)
  47. St. Simplicius (468-83)
  48. St. Felix III (II) (483-92)
  49. St. Gelasius I (492-96)
  50. Anastasius II (496-98)
  51. St. Symmachus (498-514) Opposed by Laurentius, antipope (498-501)
  52. St. Hormisdas (514-23)
  53. St. John I (523-26)
  54. St. Felix IV (III) (526-30)
  55. Boniface II (530-32) Opposed by Dioscorusantipope (530)
  56. John II (533-35)
  57. St. Agapetus I (535-36) Also called Agapitus I
  58. St. Silverius (536-37)
  59. Vigilius (537-55)
  60. Pelagius I (556-61)
  61. John III (561-74)
  62. Benedict I (575-79)
  63. Pelagius II (579-90)
  64. St. Gregory I (the Great) (590-604)
  65. Sabinian (604-606)
  66. Boniface III (607)
  67. St. Boniface IV (608-15)
  68. St. Deusdedit (Adeodatus I) (615-18)
  69. Boniface V (619-25)
  70. Honorius I (625-38)
  71. Severinus (640)
  72. John IV (640-42)
  73. Theodore I (642-49)
  74. St. Martin I (649-55)
  75. St. Eugene I (655-57)
  76. St. Vitalian (657-72)
  77. Adeodatus (II) (672-76)
  78. Donus (676-78)
  79. St. Agatho (678-81)
  80. St. Leo II (682-83)
  81. St. Benedict II (684-85)
  82. John V (685-86)
  83. Conon (686-87)
  84. St. Sergius I (687-701) Opposed by Theodore and Paschal, antipopes (687)
  85. John VI (701-05)
  86. John VII (705-07)
  87. Sisinnius (708)
  88. Constantine (708-15)
  89. St. Gregory II (715-31)
  90. St. Gregory III (731-41)
  91. St. Zachary (741-52) Stephen II followed Zachary, but because he died before being consecrated, modern lists omit him
  92. Stephen II (III) (752-57)
  93. St. Paul I (757-67)
  94. Stephen III (IV) (767-72) Opposed by Constantine II (767) and Philip (768), antipopes (767)
  95. Adrian I (772-95)
  96. St. Leo III (795-816)
  97. Stephen IV (V) (816-17)
  98. St. Paschal I (817-24)
  99. Eugene II (824-27)
  100. Valentine (827)
  101. Gregory IV (827-44)
  102. Sergius II (844-47) Opposed by John, antipope
  103. St. Leo IV (847-55)
  104. Benedict III (855-58) Opposed by Anastasiusantipope (855)
  105. St. Nicholas I (the Great) (858-67)
  106. Adrian II (867-72)
  107. John VIII (872-82)
  108. Marinus I (882-84)
  109. St. Adrian III (884-85)
  110. Stephen V (VI) (885-91)
  111. Formosus (891-96)
  112. Boniface VI (896)
  113. Stephen VI (VII) (896-97)
  114. Romanus (897)
  115. Theodore II (897)
  116. John IX (898-900)
  117. Benedict IV (900-03)
  118. Leo V (903) Opposed by Christopher, antipope (903-904)
  119. Sergius III (904-11)
  120. Anastasius III (911-13)
  121. Lando (913-14)
  122. John X (914-28)
  123. Leo VI (928)
  124. Stephen VIII (929-31)
  125. John XI (931-35)
  126. Leo VII (936-39)
  127. Stephen IX (939-42)
  128. Marinus II (942-46)
  129. Agapetus II (946-55)
  130. John XII (955-63)
  131. Leo VIII (963-64)
  132. Benedict V (964)
  133. John XIII (965-72)
  134. Benedict VI (97