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.

About this page

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)

uiodg

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)?

uiodg

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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“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.

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“… 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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“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.

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“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 (973-74)
  135. Benedict VII (974-83) Benedict and John XIV were opposed by Boniface VIIantipope (974; 984-985)
  136. John XIV (983-84)
  137. John XV (985-96)
  138. Gregory V (996-99) Opposed by John XVIantipope (997-998)
  139. Sylvester II (999-1003)
  140. John XVII (1003)
  141. John XVIII (1003-09)
  142. Sergius IV (1009-12)
  143. Benedict VIII (1012-24) Opposed by Gregoryantipope (1012)
  144. John XIX (1024-32)
  145. Benedict IX (1032-45) He appears on this list three separate times, because he was twice deposed and restored
  146. Sylvester III (1045) Considered by some to be an antipope
  147. Benedict IX (1045)
  148. Gregory VI (1045-46)
  149. Clement II (1046-47)
  150. Benedict IX (1047-48)
  151. Damasus II (1048)
  152. St. Leo IX (1049-54)
  153. Victor II (1055-57)
  154. Stephen X (1057-58)
  155. Nicholas II (1058-61) Opposed by Benedict Xantipope (1058)
  156. Alexander II (1061-73) Opposed by Honorius IIantipope (1061-1072)
  157. St. Gregory VII (1073-85) Gregory and the following three popes were opposed by Guibert (“Clement III”)antipope (1080-1100)
  158. Blessed Victor III (1086-87)
  159. Blessed Urban II (1088-99)
  160. Paschal II (1099-1118) Opposed by Theodoric (1100), Aleric (1102) and Maginulf (“Sylvester IV”, 1105-1111), antipopes (1100)
  161. Gelasius II (1118-19) Opposed by Burdin (“Gregory VIII”)antipope (1118)
  162. Callistus II (1119-24)
  163. Honorius II (1124-30) Opposed by Celestine II, antipope (1124)
  164. Innocent II (1130-43) Opposed by Anacletus II (1130-1138) and Gregory Conti (“Victor IV”) (1138), antipopes (1138)
  165. Celestine II (1143-44)
  166. Lucius II (1144-45)
  167. Blessed Eugene III (1145-53)
  168. Anastasius IV (1153-54)
  169. Adrian IV (1154-59)
  170. Alexander III (1159-81) Opposed by Octavius (“Victor IV”) (1159-1164), Pascal III (1165-1168), Callistus III (1168-1177) and Innocent III (1178-1180), antipopes
  171. Lucius III (1181-85)
  172. Urban III (1185-87)
  173. Gregory VIII (1187)
  174. Clement III (1187-91)
  175. Celestine III (1191-98)
  176. Innocent III (1198-1216)
  177. Honorius III (1216-27)
  178. Gregory IX (1227-41)
  179. Celestine IV (1241)
  180. Innocent IV (1243-54)
  181. Alexander IV (1254-61)
  182. Urban IV (1261-64)
  183. Clement IV (1265-68)
  184. Blessed Gregory X (1271-76)
  185. Blessed Innocent V (1276)
  186. Adrian V (1276)
  187. John XXI (1276-77)
  188. Nicholas III (1277-80)
  189. Martin IV (1281-85)
  190. Honorius IV (1285-87)
  191. Nicholas IV (1288-92)
  192. St. Celestine V (1294)
  193. Boniface VIII (1294-1303)
  194. Blessed Benedict XI (1303-04)
  195. Clement V (1305-14)
  196. John XXII (1316-34) Opposed by Nicholas V, antipope (1328-1330)
  197. Benedict XII (1334-42)
  198. Clement VI (1342-52)
  199. Innocent VI (1352-62)
  200. Blessed Urban V (1362-70)
  201. Gregory XI (1370-78)
  202. Urban VI (1378-89) Opposed by Robert of Geneva (“Clement VII”)antipope (1378-1394)
  203. Boniface IX (1389-1404) Opposed by Robert of Geneva (“Clement VII”) (1378-1394), Pedro de Luna (“Benedict XIII”) (1394-1417) and Baldassare Cossa (“John XXIII”) (1400-1415), antipopes
  204. Innocent VII (1404-06) Opposed by Pedro de Luna (“Benedict XIII”) (1394-1417) and Baldassare Cossa (“John XXIII”) (1400-1415), antipopes
  205. Gregory XII (1406-15) Opposed by Pedro de Luna (“Benedict XIII”) (1394-1417), Baldassare Cossa (“John XXIII”) (1400-1415), and Pietro Philarghi (“Alexander V”) (1409-1410), antipopes
  206. Martin V (1417-31)
  207. Eugene IV (1431-47) Opposed by Amadeus of Savoy (“Felix V”)antipope (1439-1449)
  208. Nicholas V (1447-55)
  209. Callistus III (1455-58)
  210. Pius II (1458-64)
  211. Paul II (1464-71)
  212. Sixtus IV (1471-84)
  213. Innocent VIII (1484-92)
  214. Alexander VI (1492-1503)
  215. Pius III (1503)
  216. Julius II (1503-13)
  217. Leo X (1513-21)
  218. Adrian VI (1522-23)
  219. Clement VII (1523-34)
  220. Paul III (1534-49)
  221. Julius III (1550-55)
  222. Marcellus II (1555)
  223. Paul IV (1555-59)
  224. Pius IV (1559-65)
  225. St. Pius V (1566-72)
  226. Gregory XIII (1572-85)
  227. Sixtus V (1585-90)
  228. Urban VII (1590)
  229. Gregory XIV (1590-91)
  230. Innocent IX (1591)
  231. Clement VIII (1592-1605)
  232. Leo XI (1605)
  233. Paul V (1605-21)
  234. Gregory XV (1621-23)
  235. Urban VIII (1623-44)
  236. Innocent X (1644-55)
  237. Alexander VII (1655-67)
  238. Clement IX (1667-69)
  239. Clement X (1670-76)
  240. Blessed Innocent XI (1676-89)
  241. Alexander VIII (1689-91)
  242. Innocent XII (1691-1700)
  243. Clement XI (1700-21)
  244. Innocent XIII (1721-24)
  245. Benedict XIII (1724-30)
  246. Clement XII (1730-40)
  247. Benedict XIV (1740-58)
  248. Clement XIII (1758-69)
  249. Clement XIV (1769-74)
  250. Pius VI (1775-99)
  251. Pius VII (1800-23)
  252. Leo XII (1823-29)
  253. Pius VIII (1829-30)
  254. Gregory XVI (1831-46)
  255. Blessed Pius IX (1846-78)
  256. Leo XIII (1878-1903)
  257. St. Pius X (1903-14)
  258. Benedict XV (1914-22) Biographies of Benedict XV and his successors will be added at a later date
  259. Pius XI (1922-39)
  260. Pius XII (1939-58)
  261. St. John XXIII (1958-63)
  262. Paul VI (1963-78)
  263. John Paul I (1978)
  264. St. John Paul II (1978-2005)
  265. Benedict XVI (2005-2013)
  266. Francis (2013—)

About this page

APA citation. The List of Popes. (1911). In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved October 1, 2022 from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12272b.htm

MLA citation. “The List of Popes.” The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 1 Oct. 2022 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12272b.htm&gt;.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. June 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

Contact information. The editor of New Advent is Kevin Knight. My email address is webmaster at newadvent.org. Regrettably, I can’t reply to every letter, but I greatly appreciate your feedback — especially notifications about typographical errors and inappropriate ads.”

WHAT FOLLOWS ARE THE QUESTIONS THAT I ASKED MYSELF. You might ask them of yourself, also.

  1. Notice that the first 58 Popes are martyrs for the Faith. What Faith is that? Does it change from Pope to the next pope, or is there an unbroken line from Pentecost to now?
  2. All Popes are fallible, sinful people, but ones selected by the Holy Spirit to continue the heritage of Christ down through the centuries.
  3. All Popes must be the servant of the servants of God.
  4. My Faith has never been, nor will be, in any Pope, Church, or Bishop. It is, however, in Christ Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, who overshadowed the Pope, Church, Bishop, and you.
  5. The Pope has primacy of honor above the Apostles, which means his job is to safeguard the truth, allow the Holy Spirit to flourish through the Councils and Magisterium, and atone for the sins of the Church by reparation throughout history.
  6. The Pope is the Bishop of Rome. The Catholic Church has twenty-three rites, one of which is the Roman Rite. He is the Patriarch of Rome, no higher or lower in importance than other Patriarchs, except by Primacy of Peter. The Pope speaks for the Catholic and Apostolic, the One and Holy Church militant on earth. Christ is the head of the Church, not the Pope. Christ gave Peter primacy of honor to help us keep His commandments, to love one another as He loved us.
  7. Some Popes led us off the path of Christ as our center, but the Holy Spirit always brought us back to the center again and again. These are the battle scars of a Church, not at all perfect but sinful, yet Holy because of the death and Resurrection of Jesus, our head.

Do you know of any other group of people with an unbroken lineage (fraught with controversy sometimes) other than the list or Canon of Popes?

MAGISTER NOSTER PART I: TEN LESSONS JESUS GIVES YOUNG CHRISTIANS TO FOCUS ON HOW TO GET TO HEAVEN

I. The -s-s-s-serpent s-s-s-seduces the Innocents when you least expect it. You won’t even see it coming. Be on guard.

What a great version of S-s-s-s-satan, and I love Bob Fosse’s choreography.

TIP: Be careful what you place at your center; this is your God. Be on guard, for Satan is like a “roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.” Christ’s temptations in the desert were attempts to seduce Him to make the Devil his center. He tries that with us each day.

II. Avoid making rock stars and movie stars (and politicians) your role models for getting to Heaven. As a Catholic, you have chosen the hard way on earth to discover what it means to be fully human. All religious teachings revolve around The Christ Principle (the wheel’s hub). If you are not one of the spokes, you will have a long walk in life.

Tip: It is not without purpose that you were signed with the cross at your Baptism. You won’t go to Heaven (on earth) or later on without work. Those with the indelible mark of the cross on their foreheads are in for a bumpy ride in the world. If your religion is easy or you are easily bored, you probably are at the train station watching the train leave rather than being on it.

III. As you move forward in your life and try to figure out what is good for you or what makes you less human, you will come across many people to try to tell you, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” “Taste and see how good the Lord is; happy are those who take refuge in Him.” Always seek to keep your wineskins new by seeking God daily. New wine needs to have new skins. You are the new skins when your heart is next to the heart of Christ in silence and solitude. It takes work to believe. Faith is the energy of God in each of us.

Tip: Jesus is our model. He took the difficult way (being crucified and put to death for his beliefs). This is your path also. You must put to death your dependence on the world and embrace the opposite because you are a son or daughter of the Father. Your destiny is Heaven, even as you continue to live on earth.

IV. Learn to recognize that the world you live in and from which you seek meaning is the opposite of the kingdom of Heaven. If all you think it means to be Catholic is to follow the rules and go to Church on Sunday, you don’t even know what you don’t know. There is only one rule: love others as Christ loved us. The reason for a Church (the collection of those who tried to do that with their whole mind, their whole heart, and all their strength plus love their neighbor as themselves) is to help you NOW, not to be seduced by the vain and empty promises of the secular world. Ironically, it is only when you die to yourself and bring Christ into your heart as you would your best friend that you can hope to be fully human as nature intended. That makes absolutely no sense. The folly of God is wiser than all the wisdom of all humans who ever lived.

TIP: Spirituality in the Catholic Church is not for the faint of heart. It is work and demands you do something daily so that the grass of your life won’t get too high and you lose control of yourself. Christ won’t cut this grass for you, but He will help you, like Simon of Cyrene helped him carry his cross. 24/7, Christ is there on the park bench waiting for you to sit down and be in His presence. You might ask, how is it that you know how to do this? How is it that you do not?

V. It is only with the heart that one sees rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.

Only with the heart can one see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye. –The Little Prince.
Your life is an iceberg. Some of it is above water, but most are hidden from view. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life to use your full potential as a human being to sustain you until you get to Heaven.

TIP: As one chosen by God to be an adopted son or daughter of the Father (Faith), your destiny is not of this world. To get there, you have to live in a world of mental and moral corruption and walk in the minefields of human relativism and secularism (you are God). None of this makes sense unless you turn everything upside down and think the opposite of what the world says is meaningful. Scriptures are not an academic exercise to prove God’s existence as much as a “How to” book on where to step into the minefield of life and not get destroyed. Like an iceberg, what is most real about humanity and your life as a human is not just in what you can see but in what is true visibly AND invisibly. Don’t be hoodwinked by the Devil. You have all the help you need to get to Heaven (your destiny as fully human).

VI. Original Sin makes you oldie and moldy. As we paddle down the river of time, two things happen automatically. We get older, and we gradually deteriorate. This is consistent with the corruption of all matter. Included are your thoughts that will corrupt back to their default state unless you make all things new again and again. This is the corruption of matter, both physical and mental universes. You are going to die. When you are Baptized and carry the mark of the cross, you have been marked as an adopted son or daughter when the Angel of Death passes over you at death. You can’t buy that at any store, but you can use the helps Christ has to sustain you with his energy. Christ saves all humans from their natural evolution–death, to become an heir of the Kingdom of Heaven. Without you invoking the Christ Principle, it makes no sense to the world.

TIP: Life can sometimes make no sense at all. I have found that I must be in it for the long haul. If there is no key to overfit the six locks that prevent us from being fully human, I remain a hostage to my daily ups and downs (my emotions). The Holy Spirit gives us the right questions and answers to unlocking the treasure chest of what life is all about. There are six questions to ask and answer in order. Once you have answers to all the questions comes the big problem. How do you know if each of them is true or not? What is the template with the correct answers? Applied to these six questions, you know what is true, what the way is or not, and what life is authentic. The world, good as it may seem, will not give you the correct answers because it does not have the power to lift you up to the next level of your evolution, intelligent progression.

Here is the Divine Equation. It is called The Divine Equation because it is a way for you to discover who you are as a human living in this space and in this particular time. This does not prove God’s existence nor anything about The Church. The Divine part is due to God giving Christ the right questions and answers and the Holy Spirit helping you with the homework. Six padlocks need to be opened by you in the correct sequence.

  • What is the purpose of all life?
  • What is the purpose of your life within this purpose of all life?
  • 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?

Once you open these six locks, you can open the treasure chest. Contained in it is the key to making all things new, to allow all things, in reality, to fit together. You must insert it in the lock of your heart to open yourself to the presence of Christ waiting within. This is the Christ Principle that makes life worth living because you know and believe where you are headed fulfills your humanity as nature intended.

VII. Don’t get caught loitering before the Mirror of Erisad. Look at this YouTube from a Harry Potter movie.

Don’t loiter too long in front of the Mirror of Erised…or else.

This YouTube from a Harry Potter movie is one of my favorites to show how there is a reality out there that is harsh and unforgiving, the one in which we must live, then there is another reality that is fiction, made up by our fantasy. This view is what we would like it to be. As one marked with the cross, your challenge is to know the difference and to choose what is right over what is easy. You must struggle against the lure of the world to do the easy thing, put pleasure as your center, let no one tell you what to believe or do, to relegate God to a fairy tale or the Easter Bunny. You must choose not to sit before the Mirror of Erided or end up being seduced by the allure to make love into a pleasure factory. Don’t get tricked by the Devil into thinking that pleasure is evil. It is not. What is evil is placing pleasure alone as your center, the purpose for why you exist. God’s cautions (Ten Commandments) show us that confident human choices harm our nature and destiny as adopted sons and daughters of the Father. Throughout your life, you still get to choose what makes you most human daily. Sometimes we get it right; sometimes, we miss the mark (sin).

TIP: That pull you feel in the pit of your stomach is the struggle between doing what you think is morally correct and what you actually do. Hollywood and YouTube are not a reasonable basis for your moral thinking (knowledge of what is good or evil). Satan uses the weak mind and heart to seduce you into thinking that the cross is irrelevant. It isn’t relevant if you follow the wrong crowd. My dad said: Tell me who your friends are, and I will tell you if you will make it through the gauntlet of false gods. Your life is not a game like Mastercraft. It is lit rally life and death. Wake up a d realize that you are in a cosmic battle for what it means to be human as your nature intended. If you live in a world in front of the Mirror of Erisad, you may lose your perspective and live in a fairy tale land.

VIII. What is the stench of sin? How can you smell sin? Think about it. Our senses tell us about our environment, so our minds pick up signals (languages) to communicate ideas to our bodies. Sin doesn’t smell, does it? Let’s use the Rule of Threes to find out.

The Rule of Threes is a mental construct I devised to help me separate one reality into three distinct dimensions or universes.

The first universe is the physical one, the one which is the basis of all life. This is the visible universe. This is the visible universe. Matter, time, energy, gases, and chemical elements all are at this level, as well as all living things, including humans.

The second universe exists simultaneously and on top of the physical one. In this universe, only humans live. We have something the physical universe does not have, the ability to reason or know what we know, plus choices that raise us higher than the rest of living things. This is the visible and invisible universe beg. What we can see is above the surface, but what is accurate but cannot be seen is much more significant and invisible.

The third universe is the product of the physical and mental universe, the reason we are here on earth for even a short time. It is the spiritual universe. This universe can only be entered by choice. Reason alone can’t see it because it is invisible. Our reason tells us that it is accurate. The characteristic of this universe is that it defines who we are as the result of our intelligent progression, but more than that. It does not exist in time and space, nor has anything that humans can hang onto as landmarks. It is the opposite of the physical and mental universes yet provides closure to the Divine Equation, which seeks to discover what it means to be fully human as nature intended. Unlike human thinking, Jesus had to become one of us to teach us how to make it through the minefield of life without being blown up. (Philippians 2:5). This is why Jesus is the Magister Noster (Our Master, Our Teacher), to lead us out of the confusion of human nature and original sin to become adopted sons and daughters of the Father through Faith(we deserve none of this but are grateful).

Sin, meaning we went down the wrong path to discover what it means to be fully human, is said to have died as its product or wages. In the physical universe, matter and the body are corrupt. We decay and putrify if we die, returning back to the dust. In the mental universe, sin doesn’t smell if you have a wrong idea about what God wills, but it causes the death of your spiritual universe. This is the smell of pride and coveting a neighbor’s wife and goods. If you are Baptized, you live with two identities, that in the physical and mental universes, and another one, as an adopted son or daughter of the Father. A war or struggle is going on between these two identities. The Devil tempts you that your spiritual self is just a fairy tale like Santa Claus. Fighting this feeling is uncomfortable, and we shun any pain in favor of what is easy. Christ comes to show us that life is not fair or accessible nor without struggle. We have all the helps we need to survive, but sin still smells as it causes death in our hearts if we don’t continue to eat the food of life (Eucharist) and get rid of the bad choices (Reconciliation).

TIP: 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.”

IX. You must face the one place humans are afraid to go. A great challenge to humans is to try to figure out their purpose in life. You can spend your whole life placing their or that at your center but fail to discover what is real. God gives us both the questions and the answers in many ways; through his Scriptures; through the teaching magisterium of the Church that burns away all false prophets and false centers; through being a Lay Cistercian (in my case); and through a pang of hunger to love Christ and find fulfillment for our humanity as nature intended (before the Fall in Genesis). Like everything else, you must learn how to do this. Being Catholic is inconvenient and causes you to go against the pull of original sin, which whispers in our ears, “Don’t tell me what to do.”

A contemplative approach to life is to embrace the Divine Equation and try to solve six challenging questions with the correct answers. These answers do not come from human reasoning or anything inside us. Ironically, it is only inside me that I find the answers to these questions. To do that, I just use the insights of The Christ Principle, which states I must die to my sinful and false self and put on Christ to be able to see that solving this Divine Equation takes know-how. I must do the opposite of what the world proposes as purpose or meaning. I must prefer nothing to the love of Christ in my heart. Here are some reasons why you would NOT want to be a Catholic.

TIP:

  • That they ask you to die each day to yourself to rise to new life in Christ Jesus.
  • That they ask you to love one another as Christ loved us.
  • That they ask you to love God with your whole heart, whole mind, and all your strength and your neighbor as yourself.
  • That they ask you, when people calumniate and make false statements, do not return evil for evil, but return evil with good.
  • You should be filled with the presence of the Holy Spirit and overflow so that people may see your good works and give glory to our heavenly Father.
  • They ask you to grow in the capacity of God each day in silence and solitude.
  • That they ask you to forgive those who persecute you and love those who hate you.
  • That they ask you to believe that the words of Christ are as valid today as when he spoke them.
  • They ask you to give glory to the Father, through, with, and in Christ, with the power of the Holy Spirit in the Eucharistic sacrifice.
  • That they ask you to convert your sinful self each day through the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • That they ask you to sit quietly on a park bench in the middle of winter with the heart of Christ next to yours and just be fully human as your nature intended.
  • That you should do nothing more than to seek God each day in whatever comes your way or whoever comes your way with no judgments.
  • They ask you not to fall for the sham of thinking that pleasure alone is at the center of your life. It is the opposite. It is the cross at your center which is tattooed on your heart. You must carry your burdens each day as life presents itself. Just because your road is rocky doesn’t mean you are on the wrong road.
  • They ask you to repent and reflect on your sins with penance throughout your lifetime.
  • They ask you to have mercy on others as Christ has mercy on you.
  • That you should pray in the silence of your room (Matthew 6.5) in secret (contemplative prayer) and make no demands on God.
  • You should remember that the first step of humility is to fear the Lord.
  • You should not worship false gods of the world, the first and foremost being yourself.
  • That you should do penance for your sins and read the seven penitential psalms with genuine sorry for offending God.
  • That you should not prevaricate and speak falsely of others.
  • That you should not let the sun go down on your anger.
  • You should do unto others as you want them to do unto you.
  • That you should come to believe in the words of Christ as Messiah. (John 20:30–31)
  • You should not worship false idols such as money, fame, fortune, adulation, false pride, or thinking that you and your thinking are better than others.
  • That they ask you to give up what seems righteous to the world but which is the opposite for those in the kingdom of Heaven.
  • That they ask that in all things, you glorify God.
  • That they ask you to watch out for the Devil goes about seeking whom he may devour, especially me.
  • They ask you not to place the world’s riches as your center but instead place there God’s riches. Only the rich get to Heaven, but it is with God’s riches, not material things.
  • They ask you to have Faith, Hope, and Love and listen to the whispers of the Holy Spirit with the ear of your heart.
  • That, even if there is no god, no higher source, nobody from whom we have a DNA, doing these things would allow us to reach the highest potential of our humanity as intended by our nature.
  • That, in the end, we have Faith so that we can have Hope in the resurrection, and so live now in the love of God (not the world), and serve others as Christ has served us.
  • Who wants to be a member of that? I would sell every THING I own to be in the presence of Christ. There is no other way to approach the Father than through Christ with the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • You and I don’t deserve any of these insights, energy sources outside ourselves, and knowledge of how to get to Heaven each day. Heaven begins NOW, each day, but so does Hell. My Faith helps me see the differences and choose wisely.

X. JOIN A SCHOOL OF LOVE

You may not know it, but there is a School of Love out there whose sole purpose is to place you in the presence of Christ so that you can move from your false self to your true self. This is not the Catholic Church Universal, your diocesan membership, or even the local gathering of believers in your parish.

There are many opportunities that take you one step (actually unlimited steps) deeper in your relationship with Christ and help you actualize those characteristics you just read in the IX characteristics above. The Lay Institutes and Oblates follow a certain set of disciplines to grow Christ in your heart.

I have selected a Lay Cistercian approach to my core spirituality to help my descent into the depths of myself, where I fear to look. I use the practices of Cistercians and their charisms to go where I could not venture by myself. These ways are the way mentioned by Jesus. http://www.trappist.org; http://www.trappist.net.

Some, but not all such ways have, as their basis, the Rule of St. Benedict. https://christdesert.org/rule-of-st-benedict/ Any of these ways to “…have in you the mind of Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 2:5) are to help me with discipline, focus, techniques to move deeper into the Christ Principle (capacitas dei) and convert my life from my sinful self (false self) to my true self. Here is the bad news. I have to die to myself to rise with Christ in my spirit each day. This may lead the pusillanimous (faint of heart and Faith) to drop out of what Christ challenges us to be. As a young believer, I can remember being very impatient with the Church because I wanted to be perfect and was not. The older I got, the more I realized that this boredom with the sameness, ritual, with discipline is the default in my spirituality and what I might fight against to keep myself centered on Christ each day.

The Lay Cistercian School of Love is a discipline (disciple comes from this root) that I embrace to keep my focus on The Christ Principle. My human self wants instant results and no inconvenience to my attempts to reach it. My attention span is less than a minute unless I use Lay Cistercian practices to help me prolong my focus so that I can receive energy from the Holy Spirit which informs me of how all of this fits together.

In my religion, Christ tells me to take up my cross daily. Do you know how heavy your cross is? You probably don’t have the right cross if it is light, like balsam wood. This is the martyrdom of the ordinary, struggling to keep Christ at the center of my life, fighting the Devil who wants to supplant hatred for love, anger for peace, and pride for humility. If you fall victim to his wiles, you will do nothing, or fall away from the way, the truth, and the life, because it is too difficult.

TIPS:

  • Don’t wait for someone to ask you to join a School of Love. “Ask and you will receive, seek and you shall find; knock and it will be opened to you.”
  • Discern if you are called to be a Lay Cistercian. Don’t let the fact that you are young keep you from discovering God’s riches for you as heirs of the kingdom of Heaven and his sons or daughters. Heaven begins now. If you found something very valuable, would you not push hard to obtain it and not let anything stop you? I would, and I did. http://www.trappist.org; http://www.trappist.net. You can join a virtual group.
  • Remember that each day it takes work to carry that cross of yours. Your cross is not my cross; Christ’s cross is not mine; I have the help of Jesus to lift me up and those with whom I share my Faith.
  • The School of Love exists for those bold enough to claim it.

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THE WONDER I FEEL IN THE PRESENCE OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT

Sometimes words fail to capture what is real about how I feel. Here are some expressions of love for Christ through the Holy Spirit.

I am nothing in the presence of the nothingness of God.

Christ is my center, The Christ Principle.

I have called you friends. I am an adopted son (daughter) of the Father.

Waiting on Christ to come to me, only to realize that it is I who is late.
Can you drink the cup that I drink?
Be still and “listen with the ear of your heart.”

FOUR LEVELS OF CHURCH: Keep my commands

Disclaimer: What follows is not authorized by Cistercians, Lay Cistercians, or Roman Catholic Church but is solely the opinion of a broken-down, old temple of the Holy Spirit.

During one of my Lectio Divina meditations (Phil 2:5), I asked what Christ did to ensure the continuity of his mission, giving honor and glory to the Father through the Son.

Knowing full well the eccentricities of the human condition called Original Sin, Jesus entrusted his mission to the Apostles through the Holy Spirit, giving them one command to love one another as He loved us. Read John 15. The Apostles entrusted it to each age. The Holy Spirit did not descend upon just one Apostle, Peter, but on all of them and the other disciples in the room.

Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit because apart from me, you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become[c] my disciples. As the Father has loved me, I have loved you; abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants[d] any longer because the servant[e] does not know what the master is doing, but I have called you friends because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17 I am giving you these commands so you may love one another.

THE PARADIGM OF LEADERSHIP: JESUS HANDS DOWN HIS HERITAGE, THE CHURCH: We don’t live past seventy unless we are fortunate. How do you ensure that your heritage is passed on to the next generations? For humans, we have children to ensure our progeny and pass on our genes. Animals and plants do it automatically. It is the way of nature. Jesus is not different from us in that he also passed on his heritage. Notice that he did not, but could have, passed on his genes. Why not? I am not sure of the answer other than his kingdom was not of this world. Our zeal to leave what is most important to our family or business is endemic to humans. Jesus passed on his heritage to those close to him. He entrusted his mission to his followers, with Peter as its trustee. But Jesus did more. His heritage to the Church was not a book, not a series of rules to follow, not a bank account with money to spend on expansion. He left Himself. He left each of us at every age. The Church is holy; people in the Church are sinful, are tempted to offer incense to the Emperor, and are doubtful about how to move forward. Enter the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and beyond.

Peter’s Declaration about Jesus

13 Now, when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah,[c] the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in Heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter,[d] and on this rock[e] I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven.” 20 Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was[f] the Messiah.[

You just read Jesus handing off the baton to the next generation, although Peter does not seem to fully realize what is happening. This is Jesus not just giving his followers money or fame or fortune as their heritage but that they have authority to build his Church, one that is not limited to only Jews, one that proclaims that he is the Messiah, one that has the authority of Heaven to bind and loose on earth, one where one person as a leader is the paradigm of leadership, one based on mercy not sacrifice. This is the paradigm of one person representing the many, as in Christ and his Body. Throughout our history, from the beginning, one person became the visible leader of the community with followers. That model is present at all levels of the Church; you will read below. This should be evident in any Church down through the centuries.

CHARACTERISTICS OF THE  PARADIGM

  • Jesus never left a book but singled out twelve to be Apostles to restore the concept of the twelve tribes of Israel, ten of whom were assimilated into the North.
  • Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament by moving sacrifices of animals to live the Law in people’s hearts and stressing that mercy is essential.
  • Jesus is the Messiah, one who is both divine and human, the one who is Lord, with Apostles as inheritors of the mission., tasked with handing down Christ’s message to subsequent ages.
  • Jesus wanted his disciples to make his commands and teachings actual in each age.
  • Jesus selected twelve of the most unlikely persons as pillars of his New Jerusalem. Of all of the twelve, Peter was the one I would never have selected.
  • Jesus wanted me (and each of you, individually) to experience the upper room, the Eucharist at the Last Supper, the encounter with the woman at the well, the passion, death, and the Resurrection. Christ wanted a way to be present to you just as He was to the Twelve. The Church is that way, that truth, and indeed that life. Not the building or a set of prescriptions to follow (although those are important). He wanted your heart to be next to His Heart, to hear them both beating as one. 

LEVEL ONE:  There is such a thing as the Church Universal, composed of all the faithful in Heaven, those who still struggle on earth (militant), and those awaiting purification (Purgatory). We call that the mystical Body of Christ. The following is from New Advent, Catholic Encyclopedia, and Mystical Body of Christ. http://www.newadvent.org  The doctrine may be summarized as follows:

  • “The members of the Church are bound together by a supernatural life communicated to them by Christ through the sacraments (John 15:5). Christ is the center and source of life to Whom all are united and Who endows each one with gifts fitting him for his position in the Body (John 15:7-12). These graces, through which each is equipped for his work, form it into an organized whole, whose parts are knit together as though by a system of ligaments and joints (John 15:16Colossians 2:19).
  • Through them, too, the Church has its growth and increase, growing in extension as it spreads through the world and intensively as the individual Christian develops in himself the likeness of Christ (John 15:13-15).
  • In virtue of this union, the Church is the fulness or complement (pleroma) of Christ (Ephesians 1:23). It forms one whole with Him, and the Apostle even speaks of the Church as “Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:12).
  • This union between head and members is conserved and nourished by the Holy Eucharist. Through this sacrament, our incorporation into the Body of Christ is outwardly symbolized and inwardly actualized; “We being many are one bread, one body; for we all partake of the one bread” (1 Corinthians 10:17).”

CHARACTERISTICS OF LEVEL ONE:

  • This is the most universal level of the Church, the “Big Picture,” where the ancient concept of “extra ecclesia, nulla salus” applies. This saying recognizes that “through Christ alone” is their salvation, and all there is after death in the Kingdom of Heaven are the assemblies of believers. 
  • The four signs of Christ’s Church.
    •        It is the sense of the Universal Church that we can call the Church of Christ holy, one of the four marks of the Church Universal (one, holy, catholic, and apostolic).
    • We can call this Church Universal at this level one because we all live at this level, connected through our Baptism and the Holy Spirit.
    • Similarly, we can call this level of Church apostolic because the Church handed on to those who follow them the essentials of what it means to be Catholic.
    • We can call this level catholic because, even if people don’t accept Christ as the Son of God, Savior, make up their own religion, or even deny God ever existed, they are all redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb. The Church becomes all those in Heaven who stand before the Throne of the Lamb, those who still run the race for the prize here on earth, and those who await purification.
  • Each of the four levels of the Church is linked together in knowledge, love, and service to one another.
  • Fundamental teaching: love one another as I have loved you. John 15.
  • One leader represents all members worldwide as Christ. That person is not Christ but one to whom Christ gives authority to bind and loose. Who is that?
  • When I say I am Catholic, this is the level at which I speak.
  • The sign of contradiction in the Church Universal: There is diversity in the unity, continuity in the apostolicity, sinfulness in the holiness, and individuality in its catholicity. The Mystery of Faith.

DIVERSITY IN UNITY

On this level of Church Universal, as it evolved from the Apostles going out to various parts of the world and St. Paul’s missionary outreach to the Gentiles, there are many ways the Gospels were applied in liturgy, governance, doctrines, and prayer. These are called rites, for lack of a better way to describe them. They are all united under the apostolic head of Peter, open to all mankind, and linked with Christ, the Head of the Body of Christ. Rather than take ten pages or more to describe all these various rites, I will cite my sources, and you look them up. What a rich heritage we have. Don’t take it for granted.

HOLY AMID ORIGINAL SIN

One of the conundrums of what happened after the Holy Spirit entered the spirits of the Apostles is how fumbling, fueding, jealous, envious, lustful, and prideful humans could lead the Church. I had to clarify that when I speak of the Church Universal as Holy, I mean those also in Heaven, those awaiting purification, and those on earth NOW. Again, the sign of contradiction comes into view. It doesn’t make sense. The Church Universal is Holy because Christ, our Head of the Body, is Holy, the Holy Spirit is Holy, and God the Father is Holy. Jesus was like us in all things but sin. There is no one outside of Jesus who is without sin, the one exception being Mary, who was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit (who is Holy). The rest of us must use the Sacrament of Reconciliation, personal petitions for mercy, as we do in Eucharist and Chapter 4 of St. Benedict’s Rule to examine our conscience. No one! No one is without sin, and everyone is in daily need of conversation and mercy from self to God.

APOSTOLIC IN THE NOW

When I was in my late forties, a young woman approached me at a religious convention and asked what religion I was. I said, “I was not anything right then but was formerly Roman Catholic.” She told me that the Roman Catholic church leaders did not create their Church until 313 AD, the Edict of Milan, and before that, it was the Apostolic Church, which she said she follows. Of course, she did not believe in Apostolic succession or had ever heard of the writings of the Fathers and Mothers of the Church, the history of the Western or Eastern rites and their histories, the evolution of art about the Sacred, the communion of saints. Wow! I was looking at the progression of the Church forward to now; she was looking at the regression of the Church, skipping from the Now to Apostolic without sensing the violence it does to reality.

The Catholic Church is sometimes derided because it is too human. It is too human, replete with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune as it wobbles through centuries, down paths that lead to false promises only to renew itself through its Saints to get back on the path of righteousness. You can tell a Gathering of Believers by looking at their battle scars. 

CATHOLIC AND INDIVIDUAL

One of the unintended consequences of the Protestant Reformation is that each person becomes their own head of their religion. They are the pope, the doctrinal interpreter of truth, and the way to skew history to fit their principles. I say this to point out that Church is not an individual but rather Christ is the head of the Body of Christ. You are baptized into the Faith of the Church when baptized with water and the spirit. Individuals are the bricks in the roadway, the stones in the wall, and the cells in the Body, but they are not the Body. When you are born, you come into the world as an individual, but you must have a mother and Father create you. When you die, your family does not die, you do, and you will be judged according to your works and how well you loved others.

MY REFLECTIONS

The need for humans to belong to something, anything of value, goes back to the time of primitive humans. Belonging is one of those human characteristics developed with human reasoning. To be sure, animals need to belong, but we all come from one source of life and have held those characteristics throughout the centuries. When someone asks me what religion I am, I answer, “I belong to the Catholic Church.” That may have a different meaning for me than for the person asking the question. That difference is contained in the many assumptions we have about language based on our education, upbringing, and experiences in life. Here are some reflections of mine when I say “catholic.”

When I say, “I am Catholic,” I speak of this level, one in unity with apostolic continuity, holy in seeking God but sinful with individual sins. As St. Benedict says in Chapter 4 of his Rule, “To put one’s hope in God. 42. To attribute to God, and not to self, whatever good one sees in oneself. 43. But to recognize always that the evil is one’s own doing, and to impute it to oneself.” Individually, all of us but Christ and His mother are sinless of us. No exceptions. There are no individuals as Church, only gatherings of individuals who, in humility and obedience to Christ’s directives, seek God daily through our Scripture and Tradition.

  • When I say, “I am Roman Catholic,” I mean I belong to the Church Universal, Roman Rite.
  • When I say, “I belong to the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee,” I am also a member of the Church Universal, practicing the Roman Rite, and am a Lay Cistercian.”
  • When I say, “I am a Lay Cistercian, professed,” I mean that I belong to the Lay Cistercians of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery and have made my Final Profession before the abbot, Dom Augustine, OCSO. I am also a member of the Church Universal and belong to the Roman Rite.
  • Churches can have Faith as well as individuals. When I say, “I belong to Good Shepherd parish, Tallahassee, Florida,” it means I belong to a parish community of Faith. Simultaneously, I also belong to the Church Universal, the Roman Rite of that Church, the diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Florida, and am a Lay Cistercian of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Trappist Monastery in Georgia. Did you get that word, “simultaneous”? All four levels are one in Holiness, Oneness, Apostolicity, and Catholicity, just as there is only One Faith, One Lord, One Baptism.

LEVEL TWO: This level is the local Church, sometimes called the assembly of the faithful. The early communities did not have formal churches but assembly places to meet, such as catacombs, someone’s house, or hidden resources. These churches were not named for people but for their geographical area, much like today. Paul writes to them, such as Hebrews (Jews), Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and so on.

CHARACTERISTICS OF LEVEL TWO:

Christ is the head; we are the Body. After centuries of morphing from local communities of believers, such as those geographic areas for whom St.  Paul wrote his letters, we have the earth made up of dioceses, or geographical areas, with a bishop, priests, deacons, and now religious orders of men and woman, plus lay ministries. Each geographical area has episcopos (leader, teacher) and presbyters (priests), and also deacons (spiritual service to the members).

  • Each level of the Church is linked in knowledge, love, and service to one another as priest, prophet, and king.
  • Fundamental teaching: love God with all your heart, all your mind, all your strength, and your neighbor as yourself. (Deuteronomy 6 and Matthew 22:37)
  • One leader of a geographical area or religious community represents all members as Christ. Cistercian monks and nuns have an abbot or abbess as the representative of Christ for the community. Dioceses have a bishop as head of the community of believers.
  • The Bishop is a teacher, guardian of orthodoxy, protector of the Scriptures, has the power to bind and loose, and presider over the Presbyterate and Body of Christ within his area. The Bishop received power from one who wears the shoes of the fisherman, head of the Church Universal. It is not they who have chosen to be Bishop, but Christ has chosen them.

MY REFLECTIONS

What links us together is the invisible web of Faith from now back through all the centuries. What is true never changes. What changes in each age is each of us. We come, we go, but Christ remains ONE forever, yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

LEVEL THREE:  INTENSE COMMUNITIES OF FAITH From ancient times, there is a level of Church that is unique to the Church Universal, i.e., religious communities of men and women who follow the directive of Christ to leave Father and mother, sell what you have and give it to the poor and come follow him. These ancient forms of spirituality are not better than or worse than anything in the Level Two church. It is unique. These are communities whose purpose is the total or part-time dedication to serving Christ through various ministries, e.g., schools, universities, hospitals, Catholic Charities, contemplative, and hermits, to name a few. Look up the Catholic Almanac 2016.

Lay Cistercians are one such movement, affiliated with a monastery, living their lives according to Cistercian practices and charisms to seek God through silence and solitude, officially recognized by the Church Universal as having constitutions and by-laws. Lay Cistercians are a new movement started in the 1980s at Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery, Conyers, Georgia, and Nigeria. Cistercians are those who follow the constitutions and interpretations of the Rule of St. Benedict as expressed by Strict Order Cistercians. https://cistercianfamily.org/documents/ I now belong to Levels One through Four. All are one in doctrine and practice, with Christ as their center,

CHARACTERISTICS OF LEVEL THREE: The exciting thing about this level of Church is intensity and exclusivity in the community context.

This level is not just about individuals, although individuals make up all those in this community. It is about the mutual choice of the vocation to grow a step deeper in moving from self to Christ. Here are some of the characteristics:

This happens amid a community of Faith. There are hundreds of religious and lay organizations in the Church Universal, each with a specific ministry or mission. You may have heard of some, and some are quite obscure. It points to the diversity of ways to have Christ as your center and live out that love in the world. Usually, they live together in a monastery or convent but may be dispersed worldwide to fulfill their desire to seek God.

Look up some of the religious communities in the Catholic Universal Church tradition. http://www.translationdirectory.com/articles/article2296.php

LEVEL FOUR: LIVING THE CHRIST’S LIFE –– No one exists alone as their own Church. Individual members make up the Body of Christ. These members form parishes, communities of Faith linked together by practice and outreach to live the Life of Christ on the local level. You have heard the saying that all government is local, I hope. It is like that with this level. Individuals keep their individuality while in a community of like believers. You can belong to many levels of the Church. I belong to four levels myself. In practice, all these levels of one don’t distinguish between them.

There are no individual churches, or one being a church, except for my bias that all the reformers of the Fifteenth Century form individuals who are each a church. Individuals populate religious communities and lay associations, such as Lay Cistercians or Lay Dominicans, to name only a few. Just an observation which I call Ecclesia Sola, or Church alone, is an unintended consequence to add to the five other “solas” who formed their own Church. Maybe I will get over it if I get older (I am a cranky 82-year-old right now). Humor me.

CHARACTERISTICS OF LEVEL FOUR

The problem Christ had was to pass on his message that all humans are potentially adopted sons and daughters of the Father if they choose. This “if they choose” is the purpose of Baptism. It responds to the Father through the Church as the Body of Christ. Christ chose us; we did not choose Him. This choice is Faith. It is the context in which we are given citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven, fulfilling what it means to be human as nature intended before The Fall. It restores the dissonance and corruption of matter and mind to resonance. It allows us to call God “Abba,” Father, and Christ, a brother. To keep us safe while we live, the Holy Spirit gives us energy (Eucharist) and the ability to make all things new again and again (Reconciliation).

Contemplation, using Cistercian practices and charisms, is a way to seek our life’s purpose from within, using silence, solitude, work, and prayer, in the context of community (the gathering).

At this level, I am Church because I am simultaneously one with all other levels of the Church.

This notion is not one that I discover automatically. I have to use my reason and my free will to discern how the purpose of Christ overshadows my personal preference in life. I must choose Christ, knowing that Christ has first chosen me to sit next to Him on a park bench in the middle of winter and just hang out. This is my view of being a Lay Cistercian.

The Church is not magical, but it is most undoubtedly mystical.

LECTIO DIVINA FRAGMENTS

These ideas are unrelated thoughts I find interesting.

  • On the cross, Pilate wrote INRI (Jesus Nazarenorum Rex Judaeorum), and the Roman Standard was SPQR (Senatus Populusque Romani). One was the kingdom of heaven and its king, and the other was Rome and its king.
  • The Red Sea (Reid Sea) parted with a word from Moses and the power of God. The veil in the temple was torn in two pieces by Christ and the power of God. You and I are ripped from the world and made adopted sons and daughters by Christ through the Holy Spirit.
  • With Baptism comes dual citizenship, one of the world and one of the kingdom of heaven. Render unto Ceasar that which is Ceasers and to God that which is to God.
  • Three moral sins in the early Church: offering incense to the Emperor; adultery, and murder. These had to be forgiven by the community.
  • Confession with a priest is humiliating. It is designed to be just that. You must humble yourself before God, represented by the priest, not some fantasy of yours in the mind.
  • The Church is founded on Peter, the most sinful of all the Apostles and least likely to succeed.
  • Purgatory is a place of second chances, a waiting room for you to make all things new once again.
  • You are born as an individual, Baptized as an individual, you sin as an individual who thinks they are god, and you die alone as an individual. You rise to new life in the communion of all saints…forever.
  • Hope is the last virtue I will cling onto at death.
  • When we are born we must learn how to become more human with each day. When we are born again in Baptism, we must learn how to become more like Christ each day and less like our human inclinations. Life is the accumulation of our choices, both good and bad. Wisdom is knowing the difference between the two.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO BE A LAY CISTERCIAN?

The world has seduced us into thinking that everything is measured by how much some things cost. I ran into a similar situation when I had the affrontery to suggest that science is a closed system. The words we use to describe what is around us carry different weights for each person. Each person hears the word, “God” with the totality of who they are during their life journey. Words like “Faith” “belief system,” and scientific thought, all are based on what that experience has been for them. You know you have an opponent when their response is more cussing than discussion. It probably means they have no answer for it or don’t know what you mean but are too proud to say they don’t know.

Everything we do, every action, even each thought, has consequences. That is what I mean by the idea of cost. Here are some of my ideas.

  • How much does it cost to be Catholic? You have to die to yourself and make a commitment to love others as Christ loved you.
  • How much does it cost to be a Lay Cistercian? You must believe that you are a sinner and throw yourself on God’s mercy by placing yourself in the presence of Christ through Cistercian practices and charisms.
  • This is the meaning of the Widow’s Mite in Scripture. Money is not the measuring stick.
  • Heaven is God’s playground and if you want to play in his sandbox, you have to say, “Please.”
  • Only the rich get to heaven; you must take God’s riches there and not your own.

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LECTIO DIVINA FRAGMENTS: Original Sin

When I apply my Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5), then sit back and wait, here is what I received. You judge its value for you.

  • Original sin reflects human nature and how evil and good coexist within humans, not as a place but as the consequences of our choices.
  • Humans, like butterflies, are created good because that which is good created us. Genesis is a compilation of oral traditions and stories that teach how human choice is not evil, but that choice can be detrimental to our human progress.
  • What happens if humans are created in God’s image and likeness (good)? Genesis is a story about why humans do bad things and yet are good by nature.
  • Here are some ideas about why you see some people do bad things with no consequences and where does evil exist? In God? In humans? Outside of humans?
  • Genesis is an archetypal account of human nature as perceived by the multiple writers of Genesis.
  • It is indeed a story of creation with the notion that God created all that is and that once created, he hired Adam and Eve to be gardeners or caretakers of his Garden. Thinking about if the Garden of Eden historically existed or not may divert our attention away from the core meaning of Genesis. What actually exists is that people (at least four literary traditions) all came together around one God as a creator of good, and Adam (from the earth) and Eve (mother of humanity) made choices that were bad for them, even when they knew it was bad. Evil is one of the choices humans make to find meaning. In Genesis and the remaining Old Testament and New Testament, God tells us what is suitable for our nature and what will cause it to die (the wages of sin is death).
  • Scripture is a history of how well people did in taking God’s advice or not. Genesis and the Fall are about why humans want to choose what they think is good for them but actually harmful. Sin is harmful. The story is a literary device to focus the readers on why humans are in the big mess they find themselves in when they follow what the world says is important.
  • When Israel and also the Church are with God, good things happen. Bad things happen when they follow their whims, and Christ is not the center.
  • Jesus is the result of the reparation humans had to achieve to restore (redeem) themselves with God. The Hebrew word “Gaal” means a kinsman who goes to the pawnshop with a ransom for that which was pawned and buys it back. https://biblehub.com/hebrew/1350.htm The price of that buy-back is a voluntary reparation for the sin of Adam and Eve. In the case of Christ, the sign of contradiction is voluntary death on a cross (the ultimate sign of abandonment of Christ’s humanity).
  • Christ became our kinsman (the Word became flesh and dwelt among us) to serve as a ransom for many and establish the tie between humanity and divinity by lifting us up to become sons and daughters of the Father. This final step is the culmination of our humanity, the result of our evolution, and our victory over death.
  • Genesis (Adam and Eve) is the type of what it means to be human. We were created good. With that, we received the gifts of reason and free choice. God told Adam and Eve what to avoid and how to use that gift. Adam and Eve are archetypes for all humans. With our humanity, we have to learn how to use it properly. Adam and Eve chose poorly. There are consequences to this sin(missing the mark of what it means to be human). We live the consequences of this choice: we must work to eat and learn by accumulation, we die, we are at dissonance with the Nature of God, we now know that we are naked, and we shift responsibility for our mistakes to someone else. “The snake made me do it.”
  • Without Genesis, there is no humanity. Without Adam and Eve, there is no sin (Romans 5). And without Genesis and its poignant discourse of why we do bad things are who is responsible, there can be no redemption. Without someone (a kinsman) to pay the ransom for many, we remain in the darkness of purgatory, waiting for someone to be a ransom for the many.
  • The Father said YES to all creation and to making Adam and Eve in his image and likeness. He offered them to work this reality and be Lords of the Garden. Adam and Eve said NO to the offer, and so God banished them from The Garden until someone would come to restore the resonance of what is real. Humans could, once again, become what their nature intended all along, to be now adopted sons and daughters of the Father (not just the hired help) and heirs to all that is real.
  • Next is the Christ Principle, the logical, intelligent progression from The Genesis Principle. This next step in our collective journey begins with a YES, but not from Christ. Mary, as the type for all humans, t did what Adam and Eve would not do; she said YES. “Be it done to me according to your word.” Like Neil Armstrong’s first step on the Moon pales in comparison to Mary’s YES, the first one by a human, our second Eve. That YES changed time itself. (spiritual time, that is).
  • Jesus is the fulfillment of everything in the Old Testament meant to point out that Israel is the point person for God’s initiative for all humanity— to know, love, and serve God in this life and to be happy with God in the next. (Baltimore Catechism, Question 6)
  • Like the propaganda of false or fake disinformation about Ukraine from Russia and China, the Devil is also a propagandist. The whole movement away from Christ by 25 countries trending more and more to give up on God is the degree of success by Satan. Here is a secret. It was always that way. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYJ15by205Q
  • I guess, like the quote from G.K. Chesterson, “Christ has not been tried and found wanting but rather has never been tried at all.”
  • As one who chose the Lay Cistercian WAY of life on what is TRUE, the LIFE, I prefer nothing over the Love of Christ.

That was a big basket.

STAGES OF CONTEMPLATION

From a sermon by Saint Bernard, Abbot

The stages of contemplation

Let us take our stand on secure ground, leaning with all our strength on Christ, the most solid rock, according to the words: He set my feet on a rock and guided my steps. Thus firmly established, let us begin to contemplate what he is saying to us and what reply we ought to make to his charges.

The first stage of contemplation, my dear brothers, is constantly to consider what God wants, what is pleasing to him, and what is acceptable in his eyes. We all offend in many things; our strength cannot match the rectitude of God’s will, being neither one with it nor wholly in accord with it; let us then humble ourselves under the powerful hand of the most high God and be concerned to show ourselves unworthy before his merciful gaze, saying: Heal me, Lord, and I shall be healed; save me and I shall be saved. And again, Lord have mercy on me; heal my soul because I have sinned against you.

Once the eye of the soul has been purified by such considerations we no longer abide within our own spirit in a sense of sorrow, but abide rather in the Spirit of God with great delight. No longer do we consider what is the will of God for us, but rather what it is in itself. For our life is in his will. Thus we are convinced that what is according to his will is in every way more advantageous and fitting for us. And so, concerned as we are to preserve the life of our soul, we should be equally concerned, insofar as we can, not to deviate from his will.

Thus having made some progress in our spiritual exercise under the guidance of the Spirit who searches the deep things of God, let us reflect how sweet is the Lord and how good he is in himself; in the words of the prophet let us pray to see God’s will; no longer shall we frequent our own hearts but his temple. At the same time we shall say: My soul is humbled within me, therefore I shall be mindful of you.

The whole of the spiritual life consists of these two elements. When we think of ourselves, we are perturbed and filled with a salutary sadness. And when we think of the Lord, we are revived to find consolation in the joy of the Holy Spirit. From the first we derive fear and humility, from the second hope and love.

LECTIO DIVINA FRAGMENTS: What will heaven be like?

Being nearly 82 years of age, the one thought that keeps popping up in my Lectio Divina meditations is unlikely. If I die, where will I go? What will it be like? If my focus is to be more like Christ and less like me, what does that look like?

THOUGHTS FROM AN OLD, BROKEN-DOWN TEMPLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

St. Paul writes that he caught a glimpse of heaven, in or out of the body. Read the full text.

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

2I 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.

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

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

5About 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

7because 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
  • Do you know what happens to humans when they journey outside of our earth for long periods? We are gaining more insight into this. I am concerned that we don’t do well in space or on planets like Mars. We are created for earth. Our earth’s DNA evolved from gravity, using our five senses to interpret languages, and our organs have evolved to accommodate our early conditions like bacteria and health issues. I bring this up to illustrate a point. Is Heaven like that spaceship where we must go to a place where we can live eternity? I don’t know.
  • I think the excellent thinking on this is that after they die, humans go to an earth-like space where our bodies are glorified, just like Christ’s body was after he rose from the dead. Mary, we hold, was assumed into heaven body and blood. What does that mean? I am not sure, but here are some thoughts that percolated out of my meditations on heaven.
  • Is heaven like the Garden of Eden before the Fall?
  • Will we be naked and not worry about not having control over our procreation proclivity? I don’t know.
  • If we have a body, we will have bodily functions and health issues like we did when we lived. Will there be hospitals? Who will staff them? What equipment will be used?
  • Humans can’t exist without water. Will there be water and food there for us? Will we have to use the bathroom as we do now?
  • The Father has reserved many rooms for us, says Scripture.
  • How will we pay for our accommodations?
  • Is there oxygen in this new Jerusalem?
  • Does God make a containment field where people will bring what they discovered their heaven on earth to be?
  • Will bodies have mass and atoms, organs, and pain?
  • Scripture says there is no marriage or giving in marriage in heaven. So, do we have sexual gratification there?
  • Will we have Netflix or Hulu?
  • Are there any books to read?
  • All of these items above are what I am used to on earth. What happens when you replace what I have made my condition of life on earth with what I don’t know and have no frame of reference?
  • Does heaven (and hell) begin with Baptism, and we start packing for the trip to heaven by practicing how to live there while still on earth?
  • What can I stash in the suitcase of my life that will make it through the x-machines into heaven?
  • Is reconciliation and forgiveness on earth one way I must take out those values and experiences that will not make it through customs?
  • After I die, there must be more than to stand before the Throne of the Lamb in adoration and thanksgiving. I am hoping so, but a part of me says I want to bring the fullness of what I have discovered my humanity to be. How does that work? Again, I am thinking like a human rather than an adopted son.
  • St. Paul says, “You have no idea what God has planning for those who love him.” Faith tells me that I am blessed with believing even if I don’t see it fully. Hope tells me God keeps his promise to me (and all humans) to be an adopted son (daughter) of the Father and heir to His Kingdom. Love tells me that what makes me most human, my nature intended before the Fall will allow me to be what I should be, with God’s grace and energy.

I look forward to that last great adventure using all the tools and help Christ gives me daily. Lord, I believe, help my unbelief. -St. Thomas Aquinas

TOP TEN FAVORITE: Photos

In keeping with my Top Ten Favorites theme, here are my top ten photos with a twist. They are the focus of contemplation in various Lectio Divina (Phil 2:5) sessions I have used. Photos add richness and a touch of realism to my Lectio Divina meditations. They allow me to use more of my five senses to access my mind and, through my mind, my heart. Using photos and video clips in my Lectio, I can begin my meditations on Philippians 2:5 with a theme and tie all of my thoughts together.

PHOTO ONE: CHRIST IS THE ONLY TRUE CENTER

Blessed Virgin Mary– In the window of the Abbey Church at the Monastery of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit, there are no pictures of saints or statues. In the back wall, there is only a stained glass window.No statues of Saints or inspirational pictures are founds in the stained glass windows. Look at that same photo of Mary below. What do you see? Nice colors? What else? Where is Jesus in relationship to Mary? Notice that Christ is her center, not the other way around. The Church honors Mary because of what she taught us: do what he tells you. Christ is always the center for Mary. Mary chose Christ as her center, just as we have the opportunity to do. Mary tells us she is a poor center but points us to a good one. My soul magnifies the Lord, she says.

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Our Lady of the Holy Spirit

What do you see? Look at this photo for ten minutes. What do you see? Certainly stained glass. What images are contained in the glass window of the Blessed Virgin Mary? This is the picture on the back wall of the Monastery Church, Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery.

I usually close my eyes for a minuto, then open them and look at the photo once again. I keep doing this for ten to fifteen minutes. What comes to mind is the result of the Holy Spirit. You don’t have to do anything but let the photo speak to your heart. No words are needed, and no images need to be remembered.

PHOTO 2: TWO DIMENSIONS OF MEANING

Animals don’t seek what is meaningful in their life. They seek to follow their nature and survive. Their nature is animal. Humans have a reason for a reason. My contention is that we alone, among any sentient life, possess the ability to ask why, when, how, what, and when. Humans share animal nature with animals, but with a big difference. We know that we know. We look at what it is and ask how it all fits together. We look around at what is and ask how we fit into what we call reality.

VISIBLE AND INVISIBLE MEANING

I suggest that we humans seek the answers to how it all fits together in two dimensions: one is external, such as using the sciences, literature, and what is outside of us to find meaning, the visible realm of the mind. This approach seeks to use the mind to answer questions of meaning, the results of which are appropriate to the physical and mental universes. The second way is contemplative, which is going within ourselves to discover what is meaningful and of value. This approach seeks to use the heart to translate what the mind discovers, the results appropriate to the physical, mental, and spiritual universes. When we use the heart, we are in God’s realm, and love is the measurement of what is of value. You don’t have to be a Lay Cistercian to be contemplative, but what makes us different (not better) from Agnostics, Atheists, and Pagans is we live in three universes (physical, mental, spiritual).

EXERCISE THE MIND: To probe deeper into reality, I will ask you to answer three seemingly innocuous questions,  all of which are the same but may be monumentally different in how you answer them.

QUESTION ONE:

This question uses your mind to probe deep into the physical universe, the realm of matter, time, and energy. Go to a place of solitude in your life. Look at this photo for five minutes. What do you see? In the space below, write down onlywhath you can see with your eyes.Don’t editorialize. Don’t go any deeper than what the photo displays.

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WHAT DO YOU SEE?

QUESTION TWO: This second question uses your mind to probe deeper into both physical and mental universes, the realm of the mind.

pexels-photo-209500

                               WHAT DO YOU SEE?

Go to a place of solitude in your life. When you look at this photo for ten minutes, what do you see? In the space below, write down what you can see with your eyes, but now add this question,”“What is in the cup? Whom does the cup represent? What is the significance of a cloudy window? How does this photo help you contemplate your inner self? How does your mind help you to see associations and probe questions about meaning that Question One does not address? Write your ideas down in the following space.

QUESTION THREE: This third question uses your mind to probe ever deeper into reality, penetrating the physical, mental, and now spiritual universes within the realm of the heart. In the first photo, you just saw physical reality. You used the first photo to ask what it could mean in the second photo. Now you add the spiritual universe to whatit is and its meanings. Remember, spiritual means looking for the meaning of life within you.

pexels-photo-209500

                             WHAT DO YOU SEE?

Go to a place of solitude in your life. When you look at this photo for fifteen minutes, what do you see? This third photo is the same as the other three butdifferente. Look at this questionwith your mind ando focus on your heart. For Questions One and Two, you have been asked to look deeper into your inner self. When you look at the photo now, what is the cup you see? How many of the answers you gave to the purpose of life, what your purpose in life is, are in that cup? Who is the cup? With what do you fill the cup? What does the foggy window remind you of in the Mystery of Faith? Let your mind just be present to the cup. Does your first and second threshold or questionappearp in the spiritual universe? Write down your thought when you are ready.

Photo Three: The Park Bench

When using contemplation, I use LectioDivina’ss five steps to help bring me to where I can actually rid myself of all thoughts, agendas, cares of the day, and false self and move to just waiting for Christ to come and sit with me awhile. I am not so presumptuous to think that if I command, Christ will drop everything and come. Even though I know He told us to ask anything in His name and He will give it to me, I don’t want to be like Adam and Eve and make myself into God. In silence and solitude, I prefer to ask God for mercy, humility, and the strength to be obedient to the signs of contradiction in my spiritual journey. This story is one I wrote for my latest book, The Place Where No One Wants to Look. I offer it as one of my favorite photos to help with your Meditation on seeking God.

WAITING FOR THE MASTER

Snow Covered With Brown and Black Steel Couch

You are seated on a park bench in the dead of Winter. Jesus has told you He will be passing by the bench sometime soon. You seat yourself and look down the path, straining to see Christ as he comes around the bend of the trees. You don’t know what he looks like, but you have an invitation to meet with him today, and all your senses are at their peak. You don’t want to miss him.

The first person to come to the trees is an old woman pushing a cart full of what looks like bottles and rags. You smile as she passes and wishes her a good day. She turns to you and asks if you have a water bottle. She says she has not had water in two days. You only have half a bottle of water left, but you give it to her, asking her to excuse your germs. She trudges away, smiling.

You look up, and there is what looks like a teenager. He asks if he can sit on the bench with you. You do not know him and are reluctant to let him sit down but he has on only a thin T-shirt, and it is freezing outside. “Thanks,” he says. He talks about how he is homeless, the Shelter kicks them out at 7:00 a.m., and he has no place to go. Again, you look to the pathway straining to see if Christ is coming. No Christ. The teenager says he is twenty-seven years old and out of a job with no family and nowhere to go. You get out your cell phone, call the local Catholic Charities, and speak to someone you know about helping the young man. You help out there once a month with packing food for the homeless, so you are familiar with their services. It happens that the City has a long-term shelter for people who need job skills and a safe place to stay until they get a job. You give him the directions to the shelter about eight blocks away. He gives you a hug and trudges away.

It has been going on for two hours now, and no Jesus. A dog comes up to you, a Weimaraner, tail wagging, happy to see you.”“Hey girl”” you say. “Where is your Master?” She sits down and offers you one of her paws to shake? Friendly dog, you think, but who could be its owner? It has been going on for three hours now, and it seems to be getting colder. Just you and the dog are there, which you have named Michele. As you wonder once more if you have been stood up and inconvenienced, an older man approaches. He has a long, gray beard, somewhat matted together, and uses a cane to help him wobble down the path. His clothes are neat but certainly well-worn. His face has a gnarly look about him as if he had weathered many hardships, and they had taken their toll. He asked if he could sit down since he was tired. You say, “Of course, I am just waiting for a friend to come by. “You look cold,” he says. “Here, take this scarf my mother knit for me; it will keep you warm.” The dog sits next to the man as if he was its owner. All the while, he kept stroking the dog’s head and petting it on the head. “Oh, by the way,” the old man says, ”this is my dog. Thank you for finding it for me.”

Two more hours went by, but you did not notice because the conversation was so warm and intimate. You tell the kind gentleman about your trials and successes and how you want to seek God wherever and whoever it might be. The gentleman tells you he must go home to see his father; he lives with him. You think of how lucky the old man is to have such a loving Father. The old man gets up and smiles at you.”You are a good person,” he says, “and I look forward to seeing you again in the future,” his face just beaming with kindness. Turning to his dog, he says, smiling,” Coming” The dog jumps up and down a few times, wagging his tail fiercely, and they both set off, trudging slowly away from the bench. You look at your clock and see that five hours have passed, but they passed so quickly. You are a bit disappointed that Christ did not stop by. You think maybe you got the time wrong and left to go home. As you are going, you remember you have the scarf the old man gave you as a gift, knit by his mother. You are shocked by what you see. On the scarf is embroidered your name in the gold thread. You think to yourself, he said his mother made it for him.

Another thing you noticed. You felt your heart burning as the old man talked to you on the bench. “I wonder, ” you think,“…I wonder.”

The only prayer you can think of comes into your mind. Praise 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 and Amen.

 Now, look at the park bench photo for a few minutes. Think about the story you just read while focused on the park bench. What thoughts does the Holy Spirit place in your mind? Write down what your heart tells you about the story you just read. How does this relate to where you are in your Lay Cistercian or another spiritual journey?

ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS:

  1. Write down your thoughts about the bench meditation.
  2. What does this story tell you about meeting Christ? If you say you have never seen Christ but can’t see Him in your neighbor next to you, what do you need to change to seek God? Seeking God is so easy that it is the most difficult, ongoing task you will ever have in this lifetime.

PHOTO FOUR:   Is that all there is?

Free stock photo of space, dark, galaxy, stars

Ask yourself this question: Is there a beginning to time? Is there an end of time? In terms of three universes (physical, mental, and spiritual), I would say.””I don’t know about physical time. I do know about spiritual time. Time has no beginning nor end in the spiritual universe. Time is”  Time is essential for our comprehension of the world around us. For those who accept the Resurrection of Christ, time is Forever; it is the relationship we seek to achieve, our inheritance for keeping true to the command of Christ to love one another as He has loved us.

PHOTO FIVE: Photo of how I feel about being in the presence of Jesus. 

 
Father,
I abandon myself in
your hands;
do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:
I am ready for all; I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me,
and in all your creatures –
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul:
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father.
Blessed Charles de Foucauld
Former Trappist of N.D. de Neiges
Killed December 1, 1916
 

 
II. MEDITATION – Go to the place in your inner room (Matthew 6:6) and close the door. Listen with”“…the ear of the spirit”.” Use this image to guide thoughts from the Holy Spirit.
 
WHAT DO YOU SEE?
 
 
  
Padre mío,
Me abandono a Ti,
haz de mí lo que quieras.
Lo que hagas de mí te lo agradezco.
Estoy dispuesto a todo, lo acepto todo,
 
con tal que Tu Voluntad se haga en mí
y en todas Tus criaturas.
No deseo nada más, Dios mío.
 
Pongo mi alma en Tus manos.
Te la doy, Dios mío, con todo el amor de mi corazón,
porque Te amo y porque para mí amarte es darme,
entregarme en Tus manos sin medida,
con infinita confianza,
porque Tú eres mi Padre.  Amen.
 
 

Mon Père,
Je m’abandonne à toi,
fais de moi ce qu’il te plaira.
Quoi que tu fasses moi, je te remercie.
Je suis prêt à tout, j’accepte tout.

 
Pourvu que ta volonté se fasse en moi,
en toutes tes créatures,
je ne désire rien d’autre, mon Dieu.
 
Je remets mon âme entre tes mains.
Je te la donne, mon Dieu, avec tout l’amour de mon coeur,
parce que je t’aime, et que ce m’est un besoin d’amour de me donner,
de me remettre entre tes mains sans mesure,
avec infinie confiance
car tu es mon Père.
 
Photo Six: Humans are spiritual apes. Humans are why we have reason and the ability to choose what we think is good for us. Choosing what will allow us to fulfill our humanity as nature intended enables us to become adopted sons and daughters of the Father and heirs to Heaven.
Photo Seven The Rule of Threes. The three realms of reality: scientific thought (best for looking at visible and some invisible reality); reason and the ability to choose with consequences (best to look at physical reality with the mind); Faith informed by reason (best to look at both physical universe and the mental universe and receive questions and answers about humanity that human reasoning alone cannot provide)
Photo Eight: I look at my life in my attempt to have the mind of Christ Jesus and how successful I was each day. Trying is itself a prayer of humility. Each day I begin the process anew, with one exception. I am more like Christ today than I was before.
Photo Nine: I have two choices of what is good or bad for me. Although I make those choices internally, my nature is not harmful, nor are there hidden rooms where good or evil lurks. If I want good as a choice, I must choose it. I don’t usually choose what is bad for me, but sometimes I choose what I don’t know, which turns out bad. God tells me what is good for me because I am an adopted son (daughter of the Father). What Father wants his child to sin. Does he give me a stone or a brick if I ask for bread? Even if I choose what is bad for my humanity, God still loves me as the ProdigalSon’ss father kept looking down the road each day until he showed up.
Photo Ten: My center and where my heart longs to rest. http://www.trappist.net
1aOf 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

4One 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

5For 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.
B
I

7Hear my voice, LORD, when I call;

have mercy on me and answer me.

8“Come,” says my heart, “seek his face”;*

your face, LORD, do I seek!e

9Do not hide your face from me;

do not repel your servant in anger.
You are my salvation; do not cast me off;
do not forsake me, God my savior!

10Even if my father and mother forsake me,

the LORD will take me in.f
II

11LORD, show me your way;

lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.g

12Do not abandon me to the desire of my foes;

malicious and lying witnesses have risen against me.

13I believe I shall see the LORD’s goodness

in the land of the living.*h

14Wait for the LORD, take courage;

be stouthearted, wait for the LORD!
Photo Eleven: Don’t dig a hole so big you can’t get out.
Photo Twelve: Get rid of your spiritual waste, or you will have to live in it.
Photo Thirteen: No one can serve two masters. Choose to serve your own appetites or God’s treasures.
Photo fourteen: Contemplation means silence, solitude, work, prayer, and community. You are never alone if you are in the presence of Christ.
Photo Fifteen:””What is essential is invisible to the eye” –Little Prince

THE THREE LANGUAGES I USE TO SIT NEXT TO GOD AND THRIVE

To solve the Divine Equation correctly, I must use the correct language. This language does not come from human nature because the questions and their correct answers originate from pure knowledge (beyond our pay grade). To solve anything about God, we must use the language of God to have it makes sense. This language is the opposite of what the World thinks will allow us to become fully human. It originates within the Godhead and is translated and transmitted through The Christ Principle. Philippians 2:5. There are three approaches to THE TRUTH, which I use, depending on the focus of my inquiry. All three of these are good and have unique characteristics. In my toolbox, there are hammers, screwdrivers, and wrenches. All valid by themselves but together for how I approach The Divine Equation to seek how all reality fits together. These three languages I use to listen to God “with the ear of my heart” are:

  • SCIENTIFIC APPROACH TO REALITY
  • THE ACCUMULATED LIFE EXPERIENCES AND LESSONS LEARNED FROM MY LIFE OF TRIAL AND ERROR
  • THE CHRIST PRINCIPLE.

The problem comes when we single out one of these languages to exclude the others. In my search for the Sacred within (contemplation) and without (service) me, I have found that these three languages must be used in order, the deepest part of reality being the final one because it contradicts reason and demands Faith informed by reason to access it. Not everyone can get there. Each person may use only one, two, or three languages due to their accumulated life experiences and the mini languages they learned to solve the six questions each of us must answer about our short life span.

As my gaze about what is a reality today focuses on the notion of “assumicide,” I see layers of mental constructs with each question I ponder and ask the question, “What are the assumptions behind that statement.” “Assumicide” is a term I coined many years ago to describe how it is possible for three people to all say the word “God” and have different views. I wrote a book about it at the time. In my thinking, “Assumicide” is NOT considering that all human thoughts, all reasoning, and free will, are based on the assumptions held by that individual. These assumptions may or may not be actually factual or accurate.


Typically, Humans hold that anyone is free to choose any idea or thought they want. They have the right to hold anything, despite how despicable. This does not mean that whatever you or I think is right, just because we can choose our destiny. Each of our choices has consequences. Over time, we learn what is right and what is wrong. If we choose something terrible, we can change it until we die and make it new or better. The default in all of this is our humanity, as we morphed from animality to rationality. We have emotions, traits, DNA, learned behaviors, and our history of choices (good and poor) that make up who we are. We choose based on the fulfillment of who we are, our assumptions about what is good for us, and the purpose of life. No one can choose something for us. However, we can give others our choice and assimilate their ideas as our own. A complex animal is a human being.

Assumptions underly all of our cognitive thinking and inform our choices. I offer three different types of thinking (you may know of more) based on my notion of The Rule of Threes: there is one reality that has three separate and distinct universes. These are consecutive to our human senses but have different characteristics and measures.

Belief depends upon the assumptions you select as accurate. Assumptions depend upon those core principles on which you base your belief. This is why two Methodist people can hold slightly different views of their Faith while being faithful to their core confession. If you know the core principles and your assumptions about them or why you believe what you do, you will know what you can and cannot change without losing your Methodist identity. Two people in a marriage can hold different a set of faith assumptions and have their marriage survive, even flourish. Here’s how. This plain-speaking book helps you identify the assumptions underlying your thinking. In this way, you can know what the core of your belief is and what is negotiable. This book is a quick read and perfect for discussion starters in your adult learning group. Some themes are: Ten Assumptions About Assumptions What Is the Basis for What You Believe? The World Runs on Assumptions How to Stop Assumicide How to Play the Assumption Game How to Start an Adult Learning Program In business, relationships, religion, and politics, committing assumicide can lead to polarizing outcomes. Learn how to stop assumicide and think creatively without destroying your core beliefs.

Here are three ways of thinking from which you might make your assumptions. I use all three ways to look at reality and make conclusions.

THE SCIENTIFIC APPROACH TO REALITY: Assumptions are those mental consequences of reality that are based on reasoning, logic, plus specific theories contained in mathematics, physics, chemistry, and all scientific inquiry. For my hypotheses, scientific inquiry is a language with assumptions used by many, but not all, of its users. Our collective human reasoning came up with this way of thinking only recently. I use scientific thinking, not rigorous proofs, but rather an approach that says physical reality has laws against which hypotheses are tested, and results are indicated. This is the language of the physical universe, and our tools and newly developed computer-generated assistance help us probe what and why something is.

In the physical universe, that of matter, time, energy, space, and life forms on earth, those who use this way of thinking make assumptions that may or may not be visible to those who understand the language. If I ask someone who uses this way of thinking what reality looks like, I will get various answers from various people, all of them correct to the individual. In a bit, I will give examples of each way of thinking by fictionalizing a conversation between three people, one of whom uses scientific inquiry.

ASSUMPTIONS: Here are some of my assumptions about scientific thinking.

  • Scientific thinking is valid and must be used and encouraged as a way of thinking that looks at physical reality.
  • Scientific thinking uses various languages (mathematics, physics, chemistry, logic) to look at reality.
  • Scientific thinking, in my view, does not look at all of reality but only the physical and mental universe.
  • Scientific thinking does not have the mental energy to open the mind to the possibility of the manifest ability of unseen yet existing reality.
  • Scientific thinking is open to developing new hypotheses based on new data. It is not a closed system but the most open of systems to look at visible reality.
  • Scientific thinking does not do well in looking at the invisible realm of emotions, values, and meaning.
  • Scientific thinking is superb at using the mental universe with the advances afforded by human reasoning aided by computer capability to view the physical universe of matter.

THE ACCUMULATED LIFE EXPERIENCES AND LESSONS LEARNED FROM MY LIFE OF TRIAL AND ERROR: This second way of looking at reality is what I usually use in my thinking. Again, I am using my assumptions to explain how I make decisions and observations about reality. These are not your assumptions. If I share my rationale for using this method, you may disagree with me but at least know from where I am trending. Suppose the first way of viewing reality is scientific inquiry. In that case, this second way does not use scientific language to describe life but rather logic, observation, assimilation of ideas and assumptions about what is or is not good, and historical track records. The language of this second way is using reason to formulate assumptions which in turn are the basis for hypotheses and conjecture.

Mental constructs and logical thinking can be the collective knowledge and conclusions about what life is all about; it is also about how I, as an individual, take the knowledge, choices, and lessons learned about what is good for me or wrong and make assumptions about the purpose of life. I have the free will to choose what path I want to take in life. I may be influenced by parents, social mores, religious mores, college, and wins and losses in the consequences of my choices, but they are my choices. My assumptions are the result of my cumulative experiences. I am not you; you are not me; God is not us; we certainly are not God.

Based on my being human in the physical universe, I live in the mental universe. Each individual has the same ability to reason and make choices. What differentiates us is the choices we make. For example, if I am either Democrat or Republican, I assume that my understanding of either party’s platforms is the totality of who I am. This big ball of experience is my humanity. What makes it good or bad comes from inside or outside me. I am free to choose what key I want to measure myself against to determine if I have value or not. I have a reason for the reason that I can choose whatever key I want to place at my center. No one can tell me what to do or place me at my center. My center is not a one-time choice, but I need to keep it focused or lose it daily. This center, a whole bunch more conditions, play into what makes me human.

MY ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT MENTAL CONSTRUCTS AND LOGIC:

  • The mental universe contains only humans with human intelligence and the ability to choose what they think is good for them.
  • God intervenes in human affairs not to try to control us but to give us the ability to have options that will not damage our fulfillment as a human as nature intended.
  • I give God the gift of my humanity to die to my old self so that I might fulfill the destiny my nature intended.
  • I place God as my one center (I call this The Christ Principle) because my reason tells me I don’t have the power to lift myself up to the next level of my evolution, that of adoption by God as heir to the spiritual universe.
  • There is the next step to my human evolution, which requires me to deny my humanity (abandonment) and embrace the opposite of all that my corruptible human natures cling to as fulfilling my purpose. This is the spiritual universe. It does not make sense to the mental universe by itself until I use the Christ Principle as the sign of contradiction and unlock that which is blocking my humanity from realizing its full potential. That which makes no sense at all becomes the measurement to move beyond mere humanity towards our destiny, to “know, love, and serve God in this world, and be happy together in the next.” (Baltimore Catechism, Question 6) Using these assumptions about mental reality, I step out before my reasoning and experience and take a step into the murky and somewhat unknown future.
  • Science and the mental constructs around which we find meaning are the springboards to entertaining the idea that there is an additional step in evolution, one revolutionary and requiring humans to give up their humanity to possess the fullness of what it means to be human.
  • Scientific reasoning, by itself, does not possess the energy to lift human nature up to the next level of its evolution, one that uses the opposite of what it can see and prove. The invisible parts of life are essential to discovering who I am as an individual and the last steps in the evolution of my race. It takes Faith (God energy) informed by reason (my energy as an individual human–belief) to breach what cannot be seen by the eye but experienced by Love in the heart.

THE CHRIST PRINCIPLE:

I exist because of a physical act by my parents some eighty-two years ago. I am born into space and time with “a particular set of skills” (the ability to reason and the freedom to choose my destiny). I assimilate experiences and accumulate what I think is good for me. I am the sum of my choices and their consequences. I can reflect on these changes and, at any time, correct them to what I think should be the purpose of what it means to be human. I know there is intelligence that overshadows all reality and still keeps it moving forward with its DNA fingerprints all over it. I know that I must discover the six postulates of what it means to be fully human. They are:

  • What is the purpose of life?
  • What is my purpose 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?

Both these questions and their correct answers come from outside my life experiences. When I apply different centers to try to unlock what I describe as The Divine Equation and discover what it means to be fully human as nature intended, not all fit nor do any but one correct key has the power to transform me from rationality to spirituality, just as I have been transformed from animality to rationality at birth. I have human reasoning and the freedom to choose what to place at my center. Over a lifetime of trial and error, of replacing centers of lust, jealousy, power, arrogance, pride, control, money, fame, adulation, and even myself as my center, the choice I have made is The Christ Center. To do that, I have had to die to my human self as it presents itself to me, good as that is, to move to the next level of my evolution. This is not an evolution of the species but an intelligent progression of me and what I have done with my eighty-two years (so far) to solve The Divine Equation. This Equation does not tell me who God is but what God has to say about who I am as an adopted son of the Father through Baptism and forgiveness of my constant attempts to replace The Christ Principle with the Golden Calf of myself.

ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT THE CHRIST PRINCIPLE

  • Suppose the physical universe houses matter and physical energy and use the Laws of Nature to police itself. In that case, the mental universe is one where only humans have reason and the power to say YES or NO to nature, logic, and any value system presented to them.
  • This mental universe is where humans have the capacity and capability to look at the physical universe they inhabit and ask the Interrogatories (Who, What, Why, When, How, and So What) and make conclusions based on their experiences.
  • The mental universe is one in which individuals can change their minds if new information emerges. Humans alone can make all things new.
  • As a language to solve The Divine Equation, The Christ Principle is the only way, which is true, leading to a life that has the power to lift humans to the next level of their evolution, to be adopted sons and daughters of the Father.

This third way that I look at spiritual reality as a Lay Cistercian comes from a power beyond what I possess or even outside my lifetime experiences, which is why I should pay attention to it. Is this way of thinking correct? Correct against what other center? My Lay Cistercian experiences have taught me HOW to access the Holy Spirit and HOW to sit in the presence of pure energy and wait for my humanity to catch up to what the Holy Spirit is trying to tell me. I gain a drop of two, but that is enough for a hundred lifetimes. I know there is a destiny called The Christ Principle that I alone must choose to enter, but the power to do that is outside of myself and by invitation only (Faith). I must die to my humanity, and everything I know is accurate (abandonment), to be able to enter another universe, one that is the opposite of my experiences. This is a leap of Faith, one that is a choice. My choice (Belief) is to give The Christ Principle (the way, the truth, and the life) my human ability to reason and my freedom to choose, the only aspect of my life that is voluntary and totally dependent upon Love to give away my essence of what it means to be human. In doing so, I lose everything; as Saint Paul writes in Philippians 3:

7[But] whatever gains I had, these I have come to consider a loss* because of Christ.g

8More than that, I even consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things and I consider them so much rubbish, that I may gain Christ

9and be found in him, not having any righteousness of my own based on the law but that which comes through Faith in Christ,h the righteousness from God, depending on Faith

10to know him and the power of his resurrection and [the] sharing of his sufferings by being conformed to his death,i

11if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.j

Forward in Christ.*

12k It is not that I have already taken hold of it or have already attained perfect maturity,* but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it, since I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ [Jesus].

13Brothers, I for my part do not consider myself to have taken possession. Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead,

14I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus.l

15Let us, then, who are “perfectly mature” adopt this attitude. And if you have a different attitude, this too God will reveal to you.

16Only, with regard to what we have attained, continue on the same course.*

Wrong Conduct and Our Goal.*

17Join with others in being imitators of me,* brothers, and observe those who thus conduct themselves according to the model you have in us.m

18For many, as I have often told you and now tell you even in tears, conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ.n

19Their end is destruction. Their God is their stomach; their glory is in their “shame.” Their minds are occupied with earthly things.o

20But our citizenship* is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.p

21He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself.q

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/philippians/3

LEARNING POINTS

Language is there for two people to communicate. I can’t communicate with God except through Christ, one of my two advocates.

Because the condition in which I must live out the rest of my life is original sin, being tempted to overthrow my Christ Principle each moment I am alive, I am also aware that I am an adopted son (daughter) of the Father.

I struggle to move from my false self to my true self daily. I know the three languages that I use to solve the Divine Equation. This Equation is dynamic in that once solved is not forgotten.

I have all the help I need if I ask, knock, and seek help.

Three languages help me to look at the physical universe, the mental universe, and the spiritual universe. Science is my “go to” to learn about creation and its properties of matter. My life experiences help me how to discover my purpose in life and ask the right questions. My Christ Principle is the stone the builders rejected that has become the cornerstone. It is the key that unlocks The Divine Equation.

In the end, the purpose of all my physical reality, mental reality, and its fulfillment in spiritual reality comes down to three things: Faith (the energy of God in me); Hope (the energy of the Holy Spirit in me that the words spoken by Christ are true); and Love (the energy of Christ in me to sustain me now as an adopted son (daughter) of the Father—forever. The greatest of these is Love. Read the text of Holy Scripture in I Corinthians.

If I speak in human and angelic tongues* but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.a

2And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.b

3If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.c

4* Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated,d

5it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,e

6it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.

7It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.f

8* Love never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing.

9For we know partially and we prophesy partially,

10but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.

11When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things.

12At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.g

13* So faith, hope, love remain, these three;h but the greatest of these is love.

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/1corinthians/13

Praise 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 doxology

RESOURCES THAT HELP LIFT MY MIND AND HEART TO GOD

Q & A

Question: Do I need contemplative prayer to be a practicing Catholic?  Answer. Catholics have a rich heritage of prayer, dating back to Apostolic times. As you read from the section on contemplative prayer, prayer means a way we communicate with the Sacred.  We use various methods to approach God (Eucharist, Penance, Lectio Divina, Eucharistic Adoration, Private Prayer). To be a practicing Catholic, you need to try to love God with your whole mind, heart, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. (Deuteronomy 6:5 and Matthew 22:36) You do that as a member of the living Body of Christ and use the gifts Jesus left us to help us with our struggles of Faith. Contemplation is just an approach to loving others as Christ loves us by using silence, solitude, work, and prayer in the community context.

 Question: Why does contemplative prayer focus on the individual? Answer: Everything focuses on the individual. The individual focuses on many individuals linked to the Mystical Body of Faith, the Mystery of Faith. Together, when there are two or three of us in Faith, where Christ is in our midst. Our salvation comes through Faith in being one with Christ, but we do that as individuals in a faith community. No one person is God. No one person is the Church Universal. All our branches and Christ is the vine. Contemplative monks and nuns live secluded in their respective monasteries as individuals. Still, they are individuals bound together in love to follow their respective rules (e.g., Rule of St. Benedict, Rule of St. Francis, Rule of St.Dominic).

Here are some tips to help you (the individual) form a School of Love (a community of individuals).

1. Begin with your prayer life, not someone else’s.

2. Have in you the mind of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5).

3. Each individual has a plan for salvation. God has a plan for salvation through Christ. Make sure your plan fits into God’s plan and not the other way around.

4. Consider asking someone to be your spiritual director (to keep you accountable for what you say you will do). 

5. Be consistent in your prayer life. (e.g., if you say you will read Chapter 4 of the Rule of St. Benedict every, then do so.) Daily conversion is the greatest challenge of contemplative spirituality. Good intentions don’t make for successful outcomes. 

6. Organizing your prayer life is only a means to an end, not your purpose in life.

7. The School of Love is having the mind of Christ Jesus so that you seek God where you are, as you are.

8. Taking up your cross daily is work. If your spirituality is too easy, you might be on the conveyor belt of Life where all you have to do is believe. Belief supports Faith but won’t sustain it. Faith is God’s energy. Belief is the human response.

9. Good work results from Faith but won’t buy you into Heaven. There are three works: good works that come from Faith; bad works that come from evil intentions; and no works that come from the results of Original Sin. Which do you do?

10. Don’t over-organize the School of Faith.

11. The School of Love is having the mind of Christ Jesus so that you seek God where you are, as you are.

12. St. Benedict wrote a Rule so monks might find help denying themselves to take up Christ in their hearts and get rid of the false self (Galatians 5).

13. In the School of Love, Faith is the energy that fuels the heart to cry out Abba, Father.  

14. The School of Love helps us practice mercy, forgiveness, penance, reparation for our sins, and seek hope that the words of Christ are valid.

15. Eucharist is a core principle, The Christ Principle, that allows me to decrease and God to increase (capacitas dei). Everyone must have a North on their compass of Life.

RESOURCES THAT HAVE HELPED ME ON MY LAY CISTERCIAN JOURNEY (SO FAR) Here are some wonderful, contemplative websites that may help you find some rest for your soul. I admit my bias.  http://www.trappist.net

http://www.newadvent.com https://thecenterforcontemplativepractice.org http://www.cistercianfamily.org/

https://siena.org/

http://www.carlmccolman.net

http://scotthahn.com http://www.cistercianpublications.org http://dynamiccatholic.com http://www.centeringprayer.com/cntrgpryr.htm http://www.monk.org https://cistercianpublications.org/Category/CPCT/CistercianTradition

http://www.saintmeinrad.edu http://w2.vatican.va/content/vatican/en.html http://ccc.usccb.org/flipbooks/catechism/files/assets/basichtml/page-I.html#

http://www.catholicapologetics.org/ https://stpaulcenter.com/support-the-center https://www.osv.com/Home.aspx

http://www.osb.org/cist/ http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/how-weteach/catechesis/catechetical-sunday/word-ofgod/upload/lectio-divina.pdf http://www.ewtn.com/library/mary/bernard2.htm https://www.ecatholic2000.com/index2.html https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_shhU_H5Z0 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sfMYn3YcT8 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYE7CC1m_II http://www.ncregister.com/ https://cistercianfamily.org/lay-groups/

https://cuf.org/support-our-work/cuf-chapters/ https://catholicexchange.com/seven-capital-sins http://www.catholicapologetics.org/aff/courses.html&nbsp; http://divineoffice.org https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/ http://www.integratedcatholiclife.org/

https://zenit.org/

https://lifeteen.com/blog/

http://catholicmom.com/

https://cruxnow.com/

https://www.wordonfire.org/ https://onepeterfive.com/

YOUTUBE

G.K. Chesterton 

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jE0b4zteOoI https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anBuPC6DpvE https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jE0b4zteOoI

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHaizmIj3ck https://youtube.com/watch?v=K8qqZup3Bg4www.youtube. com/watch?v=NnXlQWmubYw https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGGSxxuBtMk

Scott Hahn and Catholic Apologetics

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67WmIGLPvEM https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67WmIGLPvEM https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67WmIGLPvEM https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0uL_IAJWvX0 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dn1tWuIoZsg https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faIB-sOBDKk &nbsp;

Bishop Robert Barron

https://www.youtube.com/user/wordonfirevideo/videos

www.wordonfire.org

FIVE CONTEMPLATIVE WEBSITES

When I look up something that puzzles me almost 100% of the time, I use these five sites when I think of contemplative spirituality. I offer these sites as an aspiring Lay Cistercian seeking wisdom and humility. I thought you might like to see what they are and bookmark them.

NUMBER FIVE:  CISTERCIAN WEBSITES OF NOTE http://www.osb.org/cist/ You will find many hours of enjoyment clicking on and reading the various sites that pertain to Cistercians.  There are two branches of the Cistercian observance, Regular Observance ( O. Cist.) and Strict Observance (O.C.S.O.). Of particular interest to me were the sites that pertain to Lay Cistercians and those highlighting the movement’s early history.

NUMBER FOUR: LAY CISTERCIAN WEBSITES OF NOTE TO MOVE FROM SELF TO GOD

http://www.citeaux.net/wri-av/laics_cisterciens-eng.htm http://www.trappist.net/about/lay-cistercians http://www.carlmccolman.net/category/laycistercians/&nbsp; Read this website. Carl is a Lay Cistercian of Holy Spirit Monastery, Conyers, Georgia, where I aspire to be a Lay Cistercian. It is my favorite website of an individual practitioner of Cistercian piety.

NUMBER THREE: RESEARCH SITES TO GROW DEEPER INTO CHRIST JESUS http://newadvent.org. If there is one source I use more than others, it is New Advent.  It contains the Catholic Encyclopedia, Summa Theologica, Bible, Early primary sources or Fathers of the Church, plus other excellent links.  Don’t miss this one. I recommend signing up for their newsletters. You can sign up for their daily posting of news.

NUMBER TWO: TEACHINGS OF THE MAGISTERIUM (Vatican)

http://w2.vatican.va/content/vatican/en.html&nbsp; This is a site on which I have spent many happy hours looking up the actual texts about what the Church teaches, as opposed to what people say we teach but don’t.

NUMBER ONE: MY WEBSITE

https://thecenterforcontemplativepractice.org

This is my website.  I put it as number one because I use it the most, not because I think it is the best. It is the result of my daily Lectio Divina and a poor attempt to share some practical ways to practice contemplative spirituality, emphasizing the Cistercian heritage.  I have tried to give you a variety of websites I use to grow from self to God.  They have all helped me to look at who I am in my relationship with God (He must increase, I must decrease).

That in all things, may God be glorified. –St. Benedict

THE CHRIST IMPERATIVES Here are some of the commands that Jesus gave us to help us convert our lives from the World to the Spirit.

• Seeking perfection? Listen to me, for I am meek and humble of heart. Matthew 11:28-30

• Thirsty? Drink of the living waters! John 7:37.

• Hungry? Eat the food that gives eternal Life! John 6:33-38. 

• Bewildered? Believe in the Master! John 3:11-21.

• Without hope? Be not afraid! John 13:33-35.

• Lost? Find the way. John 14:6-7.

• Tired because of the pain? Be renewed! John 15:1-7. • Afraid? Find peace! John 27-28.

• Afraid to believe? Believe! John 11:25-27.

• Without a family? Listen! John 10:7-18.

• In darkness? Walk in the light! John 8:12.

• Spiritually depressed? Be healed! John 5:24

Welcome, good and faithful servant, into the Kingdom, prepared for you before the World began.

Being a faithful follower of the Master is the easiest thing to talk about but the most challenging thing to do. As a Lay Cistercian, trying to convert my Life daily to be more like Christ and less like me, I find these imperatives like beacons on the stormy waters of living in a world influenced by Original Sin. Spirituality is work and a struggle because we live in a foreign land, one whose default is not a conveyor belt to get to Heaven. Heaven is not automatic. If it was, why be spiritual? Just sit back and sin bravely. 

 Christ has shown us the way, given our love as the gold standard, and taught us how to love because he has loved us first by his passion, death, and resurrection. It is this Faith that conquers the World; it is this Faith, that of the Universal Church (those who have died and are in the peace of Christ, those who live on earth and struggle with the conversion of Life, and those purifying themselves). Christ wanted us to live out our moving from self to God amid the community of Faith. This community has the Mystery of Faith as its core. These imperatives help us as a community as we approach the Sacred. 

The core imperative is: to love one another as I have loved you. I pray that I am what I hope to become in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Praise 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 and Amen.  –Cistercian doxology

MEASURING SUCCESS

Measurement is an essential part of science and education. It tells us what works and what does not, and more importantly, why. Christ had a system for measuring success, too.

 Be careful when you take any test, especially this one. The assumptions will kill you. With that in mind, you should know this before making this measurement. The good news is only one yardstick —have in you the mind of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 2:5). 

THE CONTEMPLATIVE PRACTICE SERIES 

If you are interested in purchasing any of the books in this contemplative practices series, they are online at https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Dr.+Michael+F.+Conrad&i=stripbooks&ref=nb_sb_noss

BLOG: https://thecenterforcontemplativepractice.org     

WHAT IS THE CENTER FOR CONTEMPLATIVE PRACTICE? 

The Center for Contemplative Practice is a ministry of people devoted to providing spiritual resources for adults, such as publishing books, training, blogs, and online meditations. 

DISCLAIMER The ideas and meditations contained in any books or blogs shared by The Center for Contemplative Practice do not represent the official, authoritative teaching of the Roman Catholic Church or any Cistercian Monastery or Lay Cistercian group. These ideas are the results of Lectio Divina’s spiritual meditations by the author and reflect only his interpretation of Catholic spiritual thoughts through contemplation. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Michael F. Conrad, B.S., M.R.E., Ed.D., is retired from a whole life of trying to make money and seek fame and recognition by the World, all without much success. Regarding what the World thinks is successful, he has been a failure. Coming to his senses, even after age 82, he now struggles to have the mind of Christ Jesus in him. (Philippians 2:5) Still running the race and searching for the prize, he has had a lifetime of activities to help him in his quest: he is proud to have been a U.S. Army Chaplain, pastor of parish ministry, adjunct instructor of Adult Education at Indiana University (Bloomington) and University of South Florida (Tampa) and Barry University (Florida), high school instructor of religion, trainer of managers and supervisors, adjunct trainer for the Florida Certified Public Manager program, instructional designer for the State of Florida, former Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator, and currently a publisher, blogger, and author. He is beyond retirement; now, he is just tired. He is a Professed Lay Cistercian member of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery, Conyers, Georgia, a proud Father, and a humbled husband. 

What follows is a poem about my Life. It is, as yet, unfinished, as is my Life, but the elements are all present.

 The Poem of My Life

I sing the song of life and love…

…sometimes flat and out of tune

 …sometimes eloquent and full of passion

…sometimes forgetting notes and melody

…sometimes quaint and intimate

…often forgetful and negligent

…often in tune with the very core of my being

…often with the breath of those who would pull me down,

     shouting right in my face

…often with the breath of Life uplifting me to heights never       

     before dreamed

…exceedingly grateful for the gift of humility and obedience to The One

… incredibly thankful for adoption, the discovery of new Life of pure energy

…greatly appreciative for sharing meaning with others of The Master

…greatly sensitive for not judging the motives of anyone but me

…happy to be accepted as an aspiring Lay Cistercian …happy to spend time in Eucharistic Adoration

…happy and humbled to be an adopted son of the Father

…happy for communities of Faith and love with my wife,      

    daughter, friends

…mindful that the passage of time increases each year …mindful of the significant distractions of cancer and cardiac arrest

…mindful of my center and the perspective that I am loved    

     moreover, I must love back with all the energy of my   

heart and strength, yet always falling a little short

 …mindful of the energy I receive from The One in Whom I

      find purpose and meaning in the Mystery of Faith…Forever.

To The One who is, Who was, and Who is to come at the end of the ages, be glory, honor, power, and blessings through The Redeemer Son, in unity with the Advocate, the Spirit of Love.

From The One who is, Who was, and Who is to come at the end of the ages, I seek hope that His words about the purpose of Life are valid, that He is the way that leads to Life…Forever.

With The One who is, Who was, and Who is to come at the end of the ages, I seek the fierce love so I can have the mind of Christ Jesus, my purpose in Life, and my center…Forever.   “That in all things, may God be glorified.” –St. Benedict

RESOURCES THAT HELP LIFT MY MIND AND HEART TO GOD

Q & A

Question: Do I need contemplative prayer to be a practicing Catholic?  Answer. Catholics have a rich heritage of prayer, dating back to Apostolic times. As you read from the section on contemplative prayer, prayer means a way we communicate with the Sacred.  We use various methods to approach God (Eucharist, Penance, Lectio Divina, Eucharistic Adoration, Private Prayer). To be a practicing Catholic, you need to try to love God with your whole mind, heart, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. (Deuteronomy 6:5 and Matthew 22:36) You do that as a member of the living Body of Christ and use the gifts Jesus left us to help us with our struggles of Faith. Contemplation is just an approach to loving others as Christ loves us by using silence, solitude, work, and prayer in the community context.

 Question: Why does contemplative prayer focus on the individual? Answer: Everything focuses on the individual. The individual focuses on many individuals linked to the Mystical Body of Faith, the Mystery of Faith. Together, when there are two or three of us in Faith, where Christ is in our midst. Our salvation comes through Faith in being one with Christ, but we do that as individuals in a faith community. No one person is God. No one person is the Church Universal. All are branches, and Christ is the vine. Contemplative monks and nuns live secluded in their respective monasteries as individuals. Still, they are individuals bound together in love to follow their respective rules (e.g., Rule of St. Benedict, Rule of St. Francis, Rule of St.Dominic).

Here are some tips to help you (the individual) form a School of Love (a community of individuals).

1. Begin with your prayer life, not someone else’s.

2. Have in you the mind of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5).

3. Each individual has a plan for salvation. God has a plan for salvation through Christ. Make sure your plan fits into God’s plan and not the other way around.

4. Consider asking someone to be your spiritual director (to keep you accountable for what you say you will do). 

5. Be consistent in your prayer life. (e.g., if you say you will read Chapter 4 of the Rule of St. Benedict every, then do so.) Daily conversion is the greatest challenge of contemplative spirituality. Good intentions don’t make for successful outcomes. 

6. Organizing your prayer life is only a means to an end, not your purpose in life.

7. The School of Love is having the mind of Christ Jesus so that you seek God where you are, as you are.

8. Taking up your cross daily is work. If your spirituality is too easy, you might be on the conveyor belt of Life where all you have to do is believe. Belief supports Faith but won’t sustain it. Faith is God’s energy. Belief is the human response.

9. Good work results from Faith but won’t buy you into Heaven. There are three works: good works that come from Faith; bad works that come from evil intentions; and no works that come from the results of Original Sin. Which do you do?

10. Don’t over-organize the School of Faith.

11. The School of Love is having the mind of Christ Jesus so that you seek God where you are, as you are.

12. St. Benedict wrote a Rule so monks might find help denying themselves to take up Christ in their hearts and get rid of the false self (Galatians 5).

13. In the School of Love, Faith is the energy that fuels the heart to cry out Abba, Father.  

14. The School of Love helps us practice mercy, forgiveness, penance, reparation for our sins, and seek hope that the words of Christ are valid.

15. Eucharist is a core principle, The Christ Principle, that allows me to decrease and God to increase (capacitas dei). Everyone must have a North on their compass of Life.

RESOURCES THAT HAVE HELPED ME ON MY LAY CISTERCIAN JOURNEY (SO FAR) Here are some wonderful, contemplative websites that may help you find some rest for your soul. I admit my bias.  http://www.trappist.net

http://www.newadvent.com https://thecenterforcontemplativepractice.org http://www.cistercianfamily.org/

https://siena.org/

http://www.carlmccolman.net

http://scotthahn.com http://www.cistercianpublications.org http://dynamiccatholic.com http://www.centeringprayer.com/cntrgpryr.htm http://www.monk.org https://cistercianpublications.org/Category/CPCT/CistercianTradition

http://www.saintmeinrad.edu http://w2.vatican.va/content/vatican/en.html http://ccc.usccb.org/flipbooks/catechism/files/assets/basichtml/page-I.html#

http://www.catholicapologetics.org/ https://stpaulcenter.com/support-the-center https://www.osv.com/Home.aspx

http://www.osb.org/cist/ http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/how-weteach/catechesis/catechetical-sunday/word-ofgod/upload/lectio-divina.pdf http://www.ewtn.com/library/mary/bernard2.htm https://www.ecatholic2000.com/index2.html https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_shhU_H5Z0 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sfMYn3YcT8 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYE7CC1m_II http://www.ncregister.com/ https://cistercianfamily.org/lay-groups/

https://cuf.org/support-our-work/cuf-chapters/ https://catholicexchange.com/seven-capital-sins http://www.catholicapologetics.org/aff/courses.html&nbsp; http://divineoffice.org https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/ http://www.integratedcatholiclife.org/

https://zenit.org/

https://lifeteen.com/blog/

http://catholicmom.com/

https://cruxnow.com/

https://www.wordonfire.org/ https://onepeterfive.com/

YOUTUBE

G.K. Chesterton 

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jE0b4zteOoI https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anBuPC6DpvE https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jE0b4zteOoI

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHaizmIj3ck https://youtube.com/watch?v=K8qqZup3Bg4www.youtube. com/watch?v=NnXlQWmubYw https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGGSxxuBtMk

Scott Hahn and Catholic Apologetics

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67WmIGLPvEM https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67WmIGLPvEM https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67WmIGLPvEM https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0uL_IAJWvX0 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dn1tWuIoZsg https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faIB-sOBDKk &nbsp;

Bishop Robert Barron

https://www.youtube.com/user/wordonfirevideo/videos

www.wordonfire.org

FIVE CONTEMPLATIVE WEBSITES When I look up something that puzzles me almost 100% of the time, I use these five sites when I think of contemplative spirituality. I offer these sites as an aspiring Lay Cistercian seeking wisdom and humility. I thought you might like to see what they are and bookmark them.

NUMBER FIVE:  CISTERCIAN WEBSITES OF NOTE http://www.osb.org/cist/ You will find many hours of enjoyment clicking on and reading the various sites that pertain to Cistercians.  There are two branches of the Cistercian observance, Regular Observance ( O. Cist.) and Strict Observance (O.C.S.O.). Of particular interest to me were the sites that pertain to Lay Cistercians and those highlighting the movement’s early history.

NUMBER FOUR: LAY CISTERCIAN WEBSITES OF NOTE TO MOVE FROM SELF TO GOD

http://www.citeaux.net/wri-av/laics_cisterciens-eng.htm http://www.trappist.net/about/lay-cistercians http://www.carlmccolman.net/category/laycistercians/&nbsp; Read this website. Carl is a Lay Cistercian of Holy Spirit Monastery, Conyers, Georgia, where I aspire to be a Lay Cistercian. It is my favorite website of an individual practitioner of Cistercian piety.

NUMBER THREE: RESEARCH SITES TO GROW DEEPER INTO CHRIST JESUS http://newadvent.org. If there is one source I use more than others, it is New Advent.  It contains the Catholic Encyclopedia, Summa Theologica, Bible, Early primary sources or Fathers of the Church, plus other excellent links.  Don’t miss this one. I recommend signing up for their newsletters. You can sign up for their daily posting of news.

NUMBER TWO: TEACHINGS OF THE MAGISTERIUM (Vatican)

http://w2.vatican.va/content/vatican/en.html&nbsp; This is a site on which I have spent many happy hours looking up the actual texts about what the Church teaches, as opposed to what people say we teach but don’t.

NUMBER ONE: MY WEBSITE

https://thecenterforcontemplativepractice.org

This is my website.  I put it as number one because I use it the most, not because I think it is the best. It is the result of my daily Lectio Divina and a poor attempt to share some practical ways to practice contemplative spirituality, emphasizing the Cistercian heritage.  I have tried to give you a variety of websites that I use to grow from self to God.  They have all helped me to look at who I am in my relationship with God (He must increase, I must decrease).

That in all things, may God be glorified. –St. Benedict

THE CHRIST IMPERATIVES Here are some of the commands that Jesus gave us to help us convert our lives from the World to the Spirit.

• Seeking perfection? Listen to me, for I am meek and humble of heart. Matthew 11:28-30

• Thirsty? Drink of the living waters! John 7:37.

• Hungry? Eat the food that gives eternal Life! John 6:33-38. 

• Bewildered? Believe in the Master! John 3:11-21.

• Without hope? Be not afraid! John 13:33-35.

• Lost? Find the way. John 14:6-7.

• Tired because of the pain? Be renewed! John 15:1-7. • Afraid? Find peace! John 27-28.

• Afraid to believe? Believe! John 11:25-27.

• Without a family? Listen! John 10:7-18.

• In darkness? Walk in the light! John 8:12.

• Spiritually depressed? Be healed! John 5:24

Welcome, good and faithful servant, into the Kingdom, prepared for you before the World began.

Being a faithful follower of the Master is the easiest thing to talk about but the most challenging thing to do. As a Lay Cistercian, trying to convert my Life daily to be more like Christ and less like me, I find these imperatives like beacons on the stormy waters of living in a world influenced by Original Sin. Spirituality is work and a struggle because we live in a foreign land, one whose default is not a conveyor belt to get to Heaven. Heaven is not automatic. If it was, why be spiritual? Just sit back and sin bravely. 

 Christ has shown us the way, given our love as the gold standard, and taught us how to love because he has loved us first by his passion, death, and resurrection. It is this Faith that conquers the World; it is this Faith, that of the Universal Church (those who have died and are in the peace of Christ, those who live on earth and struggle with the conversion of Life, and those purifying themselves). Christ wanted us to live out our moving from self to God amid the community of Faith. This community has the Mystery of Faith as its core. These imperatives help us as a community as we approach the Sacred. 

The core imperative is: to love one another as I have loved you. I pray that I am what I hope to become in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Praise 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 and Amen.  –Cistercian doxology

MEASURING SUCCESS

Measurement is an essential part of science and education. It tells us what works and what does not, and more importantly, why. Christ had a system for measuring success, too.

 Be careful when you take any test, especially this one. The assumptions will kill you. With that in mind, you should know this before making this measurement. The good news is only one yardstick —have in you the mind of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 2:5). 

THE CONTEMPLATIVE PRACTICE SERIES 

If you are interested in purchasing any of the books in this contemplative practices series, they are online at https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Dr.+Michael+F.+Conrad&i=stripbooks&ref=nb_sb_noss

BLOG: https://thecenterforcontemplativepractice.org     

WHAT IS THE CENTER FOR

CONTEMPLATIVE PRACTICE? 

The Center for Contemplative Practice is a ministry of people devoted to providing spiritual resources for adults, such as publishing books, training, blogs, and online meditations. 

DISCLAIMER The ideas and meditations contained in any books or blogs shared by The Center for Contemplative Practice do not represent the official, authoritative teaching of the Roman Catholic Church or any Cistercian Monastery or Lay Cistercian group. These ideas are the results of Lectio Divina’s spiritual meditations by the author and reflect only his interpretation of Catholic spiritual thoughts through contemplation. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Michael F. Conrad, B.S., M.R.E., Ed.D., is retired from a whole life of trying to make money and seek fame and recognition by the World, all without much success. Regarding what the World thinks is successful, he has been a failure. Coming to his senses, even after age 82, he now struggles to have the mind of Christ Jesus in him. (Philippians 2:5) Still running the race and searching for the prize, he has had a lifetime of activities to help him in his quest: he is proud to have been a U.S. Army Chaplain, pastor of parish ministry, adjunct instructor of Adult Education at Indiana University (Bloomington) and University of South Florida (Tampa) and Barry University (Florida), high school instructor of religion, trainer of managers and supervisors, adjunct trainer for the Florida Certified Public Manager program, instructional designer for the State of Florida, former Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator, and currently a publisher, blogger, and author. He is beyond retirement, now tired. He is a Professed Lay Cistercian member of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery, Conyers, Georgia, a proud Father, and a humbled husband. 

What follows is a poem about my Life. It is, as yet, unfinished, as is my Life, but the elements are all present.

 The Poem of My Life

I sing the song of life and love…

…sometimes flat and out of tune

 …sometimes eloquent and full of passion

…sometimes forgetting notes and melody

…sometimes quaint and intimate

…often forgetful and negligent

…often in tune with the very core of my being

…often with the breath of those who would pull me down,

     shouting right in my face

…often with the breath of Life uplifting me to heights never       

     before dreamed

…exceedingly grateful for the gift of humility and obedience to The One

… immensely thankful for adoption, the discovery of new Life of pure energy

…greatly appreciative for sharing meaning with others of The Master

…greatly sensitive for not judging the motives of anyone but me

…happy to be accepted as an aspiring Lay Cistercian …happy to spend time in Eucharistic Adoration

…happy and humbled to be an adopted son of the Father

…happy for communities of Faith and love with my wife,      

    daughter, friends

…mindful that the passage of time increases each year …mindful of the significant distractions of cancer and cardiac arrest

…mindful of my center and the perspective that I am loved    

     moreover, I must love back with all the energy of my   

heart and strength, yet always falling a little short

 …mindful of the energy I receive from The One in Whom I

      find purpose and meaning in the Mystery of Faith…Forever.

To The One who is, Who was, and Who is to come at the end of the ages, be glory, honor, power, and blessings through The Redeemer Son, in unity with the Advocate, the Spirit of Love.

From The One who is, Who was, and Who is to come at the end of the ages, I seek hope that His words about the purpose of Life are valid, that He is the way that leads to Life…Forever.

With The One who is, Who was, and Who is to come at the end of the ages, I seek the fierce love so I can have the mind of Christ Jesus, my purpose in Life, and my center…Forever.   “That in all things, may God be glorified.” –St. Benedict

Jesus and Me

RESOURCES THAT HELP LIFT MY MIND AND HEART TO GOD

Q & A

Question: Do I need contemplative prayer to be a practicing Catholic?  Answer. Catholics have a rich heritage of prayer, dating back to Apostolic times. As you read from the section on contemplative prayer, prayer means a way we communicate with the Sacred.  We use various methods to approach God (Eucharist, Penance, Lectio Divina, Eucharistic Adoration, Private Prayer). To be a practicing Catholic, you need to try to love God with your whole mind, heart, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. (Deuteronomy 6:5 and Matthew 22:36) You do that as a member of the living Body of Christ and use the gifts Jesus left us to help us with our struggles of Faith. Contemplation is just an approach to loving others as Christ loves us by using silence, solitude, work, and prayer in the community context.

 Question: Why does contemplative prayer focus on the individual? Answer: Everything focuses on the individual. The individual focuses on many individuals linked to the Mystical Body of Faith, the Mystery of Faith. Together, when there are two or three of us in Faith, where Christ is in our midst. Our salvation comes through Faith in being one with Christ, but we do that as individuals in a faith community. No one person is God. No one person is the Church Universal. All are branches, and Christ is the vine. Contemplative monks and nuns live secluded in their respective monasteries as individuals. Still, they are individuals bound together in love to follow their respective rules (e.g., Rule of St. Benedict, Rule of St. Francis, Rule of St.Dominic).

Here are some tips to help you (the individual) form a School of Love (a community of individuals).

1. Begin with your prayer life, not someone else’s.

2. Have in you the mind of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5).

3. Each individual has a plan for salvation. God has a plan for salvation through Christ. Make sure your plan fits into God’s plan and not the other way around.

4. Consider asking someone to be your spiritual director (to keep you accountable for what you say you will do). 

5. Be consistent in your prayer life. (e.g., if you say you will read Chapter 4 of the Rule of St. Benedict every, then do so.) Daily conversion is the greatest challenge of contemplative spirituality. Good intentions don’t make for successful outcomes. 

6. Organizing your prayer life is only a means to an end, not your purpose in life.

7. The School of Love is having the mind of Christ Jesus so that you seek God where you are, as you are.

8. Taking up your cross daily is work. If your spirituality is too easy, you might be on the conveyor belt of Life where all you have to do is believe. Belief supports Faith but won’t sustain it. Faith is God’s energy. Belief is the human response.

9. Good work results from Faith but won’t buy you into Heaven. There are three works: good works that come from Faith; bad works that come from evil intentions; and no works that come from the results of Original Sin. Which do you do?

10. Don’t over-organize the School of Faith.

11. The School of Love is having the mind of Christ Jesus so that you seek God where you are, as you are.

12. St. Benedict wrote a Rule so monks might find help denying themselves to take up Christ in their hearts and get rid of the false self (Galatians 5).

13. In the School of Love, Faith is the energy that fuels the heart to cry out Abba, Father.  

14. The School of Love helps us practice mercy, forgiveness, penance, reparation for our sins, and seek hope that the words of Christ are valid.

15. Eucharist is a core principle, The Christ Principle, that allows me to decrease and God to increase (capacitas dei). Everyone must have a North on their compass of Life.

RESOURCES THAT HAVE HELPED ME ON MY LAY CISTERCIAN JOURNEY (SO FAR) Here are some wonderful, contemplative websites that may help you find some rest for your soul. I admit my bias.  http://www.trappist.net

http://www.newadvent.com https://thecenterforcontemplativepractice.org http://www.cistercianfamily.org/

https://siena.org/

http://www.carlmccolman.net

http://scotthahn.com http://www.cistercianpublications.org http://dynamiccatholic.com http://www.centeringprayer.com/cntrgpryr.htm http://www.monk.org https://cistercianpublications.org/Category/CPCT/CistercianTradition

http://www.saintmeinrad.edu http://w2.vatican.va/content/vatican/en.html http://ccc.usccb.org/flipbooks/catechism/files/assets/basichtml/page-I.html#

http://www.catholicapologetics.org/ https://stpaulcenter.com/support-the-center https://www.osv.com/Home.aspx

http://www.osb.org/cist/ http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/how-weteach/catechesis/catechetical-sunday/word-ofgod/upload/lectio-divina.pdf http://www.ewtn.com/library/mary/bernard2.htm https://www.ecatholic2000.com/index2.html https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_shhU_H5Z0 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sfMYn3YcT8 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYE7CC1m_II http://www.ncregister.com/ https://cistercianfamily.org/lay-groups/

https://cuf.org/support-our-work/cuf-chapters/ https://catholicexchange.com/seven-capital-sins http://www.catholicapologetics.org/aff/courses.html&nbsp; http://divineoffice.org https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/ http://www.integratedcatholiclife.org/

https://zenit.org/

https://lifeteen.com/blog/

http://catholicmom.com/

https://cruxnow.com/

https://www.wordonfire.org/ https://onepeterfive.com/

YOUTUBE

G.K. Chesterton 

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jE0b4zteOoI https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anBuPC6DpvE https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jE0b4zteOoI

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHaizmIj3ck https://youtube.com/watch?v=K8qqZup3Bg4www.youtube. com/watch?v=NnXlQWmubYw https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGGSxxuBtMk

Scott Hahn and Catholic Apologetics

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67WmIGLPvEM https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67WmIGLPvEM https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67WmIGLPvEM https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0uL_IAJWvX0 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dn1tWuIoZsg https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faIB-sOBDKk &nbsp;

Bishop Robert Barron

https://www.youtube.com/user/wordonfirevideo/videos

www.wordonfire.org

FIVE CONTEMPLATIVE WEBSITES When I look up something that puzzles me almost 100% of the time, I use these five sites when I think of contemplative spirituality. I offer these sites as an aspiring Lay Cistercian seeking wisdom and humility. I thought you might like to see what they are and bookmark them.

NUMBER FIVE:  CISTERCIAN WEBSITES OF NOTE http://www.osb.org/cist/ You will find many hours of enjoyment clicking on and reading the various sites that pertain to Cistercians.  There are two branches of the Cistercian observance, Regular Observance ( O. Cist.) and Strict Observance (O.C.S.O.). Of particular interest to me were the sites that pertain to Lay Cistercians and those highlighting the movement’s early history.

NUMBER FOUR: LAY CISTERCIAN WEBSITES OF NOTE TO MOVE FROM SELF TO GOD

http://www.citeaux.net/wri-av/laics_cisterciens-eng.htm http://www.trappist.net/about/lay-cistercians http://www.carlmccolman.net/category/laycistercians/&nbsp; Read this website. Carl is a Lay Cistercian of Holy Spirit Monastery, Conyers, Georgia, where I aspire to be a Lay Cistercian. It is my favorite website of an individual practitioner of Cistercian piety.

NUMBER THREE: RESEARCH SITES TO GROW DEEPER INTO CHRIST JESUS http://newadvent.org. If there is one source I use more than others, it is New Advent.  It contains the Catholic Encyclopedia, Summa Theologica, Bible, Early primary sources or Fathers of the Church, plus other excellent links.  Don’t miss this one. I recommend signing up for their newsletters. You can sign up for their daily posting of news.

NUMBER TWO: TEACHINGS OF THE MAGISTERIUM (Vatican)

http://w2.vatican.va/content/vatican/en.html&nbsp; This is a site on which I have spent many happy hours looking up the actual texts about what the Church teaches, as opposed to what people say we teach but don’t.

NUMBER ONE: MY WEBSITE

https://thecenterforcontemplativepractice.org

This is my website.  I put it as number one because I use it the most, not because I think it is the best. It is the result of my daily Lectio Divina and a poor attempt to share some practical ways to practice contemplative spirituality, emphasizing the Cistercian heritage.  I have tried to give you a variety of websites that I use to grow from self to God.  They have all helped me to look at who I am in my relationship with God (He must increase, I must decrease).

That in all things, may God be glorified. –St. Benedict

THE CHRIST IMPERATIVES Here are some of the commands that Jesus gave us to help us convert our lives from the World to the Spirit.

• Seeking perfection? Listen to me, for I am meek and humble of heart. Matthew 11:28-30

• Thirsty? Drink of the living waters! John 7:37.

• Hungry? Eat the food that gives eternal Life! John 6:33-38. 

• Bewildered? Believe in the Master! John 3:11-21.

• Without hope? Be not afraid! John 13:33-35.

• Lost? Find the way. John 14:6-7.

• Tired because of the pain? Be renewed! John 15:1-7. • Afraid? Find peace! John 27-28.

• Afraid to believe? Believe! John 11:25-27.

• Without a family? Listen! John 10:7-18.

• In darkness? Walk in the light! John 8:12.

• Spiritually depressed? Be healed! John 5:24

Welcome, good and faithful servant, into the Kingdom, prepared for you before the World began.

Being a faithful follower of the Master is the easiest thing to talk about but the most challenging thing to do. As a Lay Cistercian, trying to convert my Life daily to be more like Christ and less like me, I find these imperatives like beacons on the stormy waters of living in a world influenced by Original Sin. Spirituality is work and a struggle because we live in a foreign land, one whose default is not a conveyor belt to get to Heaven. Heaven is not automatic. If it was, why be spiritual? Just sit back and sin bravely. 

 Christ has shown us the way, given our love as the gold standard, and taught us how to love because he has loved us first by his passion, death, and resurrection. It is this Faith that conquers the World; it is this Faith, that of the Universal Church (those who have died and are in the peace of Christ, those who live on earth and struggle with the conversion of Life, and those purifying themselves). Christ wanted us to live out our moving from self to God amid the community of Faith. This community has the Mystery of Faith as its core. These imperatives help us as a community as we approach the Sacred. 

The core imperative is: to love one another as I have loved you. I pray that I am what I hope to become in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Praise 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 and Amen.  –Cistercian doxology

MEASURING SUCCESS

Measurement is an essential part of science and education. It tells us what works and what does not, and more importantly, why. Christ had a system for measuring success, too.

 Be careful when you take any test, especially this one. The assumptions will kill you. With that in mind, you should know this before making this measurement. The good news is only one yardstick —have in you the mind of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 2:5). 

THE CONTEMPLATIVE PRACTICE SERIES 

If you are interested in purchasing any of the books in this contemplative practices series, they are online at https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Dr.+Michael+F.+Conrad&i=stripbooks&ref=nb_sb_noss

BLOG: https://thecenterforcontemplativepractice.org     

WHAT IS THE CENTER FOR CONTEMPLATIVE PRACTICE? 

The Center for Contemplative Practice is a ministry of people devoted to providing spiritual resources for adults, such as publishing books, training, blogs, and online meditations. 

DISCLAIMER The ideas and meditations contained in any books or blogs shared by The Center for Contemplative Practice do not represent the official, authoritative teaching of the Roman Catholic Church or any Cistercian Monastery or Lay Cistercian group. These ideas are the results of Lectio Divina’s spiritual meditations by the author and reflect only his interpretation of Catholic spiritual thoughts through contemplation. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Michael F. Conrad, B.S., M.R.E., Ed.D., is retired from a whole life of trying to make money and seek fame and recognition by the World, all without much success. Regarding what the World thinks is successful, he has been a failure. Coming to his senses, even after age 82, he now struggles to have the mind of Christ Jesus in him. (Philippians 2:5) Still running the race and searching for the prize, he has had a lifetime of activities to help him in his quest: he is proud to have been a U.S. Army Chaplain, pastor of parish ministry, adjunct instructor of Adult Education at Indiana University (Bloomington) and University of South Florida (Tampa) and Barry University (Florida), high school instructor of religion, trainer of managers and supervisors, adjunct trainer for the Florida Certified Public Manager program, instructional designer for the State of Florida, former Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator, and currently a publisher, blogger, and author. He is beyond retirement, now tired. He is a Professed Lay Cistercian member of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery, Conyers, Georgia, a proud Father, and a humbled husband. 

What follows is a poem about my Life. It is, as yet, unfinished, as is my Life, but the elements are all present.

 The Poem of My Life

I sing the song of life and love…

…sometimes flat and out of tune

 …sometimes eloquent and full of passion

…sometimes forgetting notes and melody

…sometimes quaint and intimate

…often forgetful and negligent

…often in tune with the very core of my being

…often with the breath of those who would pull me down,

     shouting right in my face

…often with the breath of Life uplifting me to heights never       

     before dreamed

…exceedingly grateful for the gift of humility and obedience to The One

… immensely thankful for adoption, the discovery of new Life of pure energy

…greatly appreciative for sharing meaning with others of The Master

…greatly sensitive for not judging the motives of anyone but me

…happy to be accepted as an aspiring Lay Cistercian …happy to spend time in Eucharistic Adoration

…happy and humbled to be an adopted son of the Father

…happy for communities of Faith and love with my wife,      

    daughter, friends

…mindful that the passage of time increases each year …mindful of the significant distractions of cancer and cardiac arrest

…mindful of my center and the perspective that I am loved    

     moreover, I must love back with all the energy of my   

heart and strength, yet always falling a little short

 …mindful of the energy I receive from The One in Whom I

      find purpose and meaning in the Mystery of Faith…Forever.

To The One who is, Who was, and Who is to come at the end of the ages, be glory, honor, power, and blessings through The Redeemer Son, in unity with the Advocate, the Spirit of Love.

From The One who is, Who was, and Who is to come at the end of the ages, I seek hope that His words about the purpose of Life are valid, that He is the way that leads to Life…Forever.

With The One who is, Who was, and Who is to come at the end of the ages, I seek the fierce love so I can have the mind of Christ Jesus, my purpose in Life, and my center…Forever.   “That in all things, may God be glorified.” –St. Benedict

Jesus and Me

Father,
I abandon myself into your hands;
do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:
I am ready for all; I accept all.

Let only your will be done in me,
and in all your creatures –
I wish no more than this, O Lord.

Into your hands I commend my soul:
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father.

Blessed Charles de Foucauld

Former Trappist of N.D. de Neiges

Killed December 1, 1916

JESUS AND I HAVE THE SAME PROBLEM: How does one communicate with God, who has divine nature?

It seems that the most complex problems always have the most straightforward answers. Actually, God and I do not have precisely the same problem. Jesus had to learn how to communicate his mission as the ransom for many humans. My problem is to try to demythologize what He is saying in terms of the totality of what my life is; the only way I can make sense. I have long discontinued the impossible practice of trying to prove anything about God, Christ, Church, or my personal beliefs. I have accumulated what the Holy Spirit suggests to me (when I am not too proud to accept it) and applied it to the already accumulated choices and experiences of who I am. I must keep reminding myself, as did St. Benedict in Chapter 7 of his rule on humility, that the first step is “fear of the Lord.” This is God you are trying to sit next to on a park bench in the middle of winter. I don’t tell God anything or have to prove anything. All I have to do is sit in silence and solitude in the presence of the Sacred and wait. I use the Cistercian systematic approach to contemplation, one of many methods, to go to the place no one wants to look (inside me) and wait. Matthew 6:5.

God’s problem is that, because of the original sin of Adam and Eve, our types (or maybe even anti-types) of what it means to be fully human, God has to communicate with us, not as an equal (this was the sin of Adam and Eve) but as God. The only way Christ chose to tell us about what our minds could not comprehend through reason alone was to use parables and similies. The Prodigal Son, and the Parable of the Mustard Seed, are two such examples.

John 20:30-31 is my “go-to” inspirational quote about why Scripture is there. We must use Scripture as the primacy of knowledge about what it means to be fully human. My problem is that, as with any other human, I do so with the totality of whom I am when I read these stories. Being a Lay Cistercian, one of my “takeaways” is that I must constantly convert my false self to replace it with Christ’s love. I realize that I must do it each day. It is more important than my marriage, my children, my job, or even my religion. “Seek the kingdom of heaven first, and all else will be given to you.”

It takes work to keep myself focused on Jesus as my center. I am not suggesting that all I do is pray all day and only think about Jesus. What it does mean is that my life becomes a prayer of praise and glory to the Father through, with, and in the sacrifice of Jesus, using the power (energy) of the Holy Spirit. I don’t consciously think of that all the time, but Faith is informed by my reasoning so that I can try to become fully human with the help of God’s energy.

Lectio Divina Fragments: Three Principles emerging from The Divine Equation

If you have been following my meanderings, I write around a core of The Divine Equation in my Lectio Divina meditations on The Christ Principle. Mainly, I just listen to what is said and try to keep my mental mind open. It doesn’t always work, but here is one of the fragments I found in the leftovers basket.

MY ROMANCE WITH THE DIVINE EQUATION

The kick-off lectio for my Lectio Divina has always been Philippians 2:5, “…have in you the mind of Christ Jesus.” That is the jump-off point for my meditation (meditatio). “I am not you; you are not me; God is not me; and, most certainly, I am not God.” the Divine Equation is the secret of opening up my inner self to whatever God wants to send my way. I call it “divine” because the question and the answers come from a divine nature, not a human one. If I answer the six postulate questions that allow me to access the key that unlocks the chains that bind my mind to the world, I discover new and exciting opportunities to know, love, and serve God in this world so that I can be happy with God in the next one. I make my heaven on earth using what human experiences I have (both good and destructive).

I received these six questions during one of my Lectio Divina sessions. Not only that, but I also received the correct answers to those six questions. This opens the holds that bind my box together and allows me to open it. But, there is still one more question to ask and answer. I have just answered those six questions that allow me to open the box where I find a key. I don’t know, “Does the key work in the lock which allows my humanity to be fully what it intended by nature?”

The key to the Divine Equation comes from The Christ Principle, the center of all reality, visible and invisible. Christ provided me with the key (the cross) and gave up his life for the ransom of many. I have inserted my key into the lock that has kept my mind locked (original sin) and opened it. Now that I have opened it, I no longer have to use the Scriptures to prove anything to anyone. I use the Scriptures (John 20;30-31) to believe that Jesus, Son of God, is the savior and Messiah and hope that the words of Christ to us are through.

What I have received after I have unlocked the Divine Equation is out of this world, literally and figuratively. In the series of Lectio refections, these are thoughts that come as a result of The Holy Spirit unlocking my heart and mind so that I can love God with all my strength and my neighbor as myself. This is where belief comes in, not a one-time shot, get it and forget it belief, but one that takes the cross each day to unlock my humanity to choose to sit next to Christ in the quiet of my heart (Matthew 6:5) and be present to the totality of all that is.

THREE PRINCIPLES

I learned in 8th grade what the purpose of life is and have tried to place that center each day so that I don’t take for granted my Faith but renew my heart each day with the love of Christ sitting next to me.

Walking with my friend.

THREE PRINCIPLES ARE ONE

I see three principles in my view of reality. Principles are those centers into which everything flows and from which, anything that emerges is transformed. Where does all this originate?

The Genesis Principle is more than a book; it is an explanation of creation for our consideration and how humans can be good yet so prone to evil. It is the principle of creation that humans partake in as they are aware (knowledge of good and evil). In the beginning, was the word. (John 1:1). What word was so powerful that its nothingness created somethingness? Yes. Be it done unto me according to your word. This is the kingdom of the Father.

The Christ Principle builds on creation and transforms the corruption of matter and mind to its intended intelligent progression (what humans were intended to be before the Fall in the Garden of Eden). This second Eden has human flaws. All humans have free will and the ability to choose (no one will tell me what to believe). Humans are left to discover what is good and what will hurt us. We are seduced by the Lord of the World, the Great Accuser (personified by Satan, who asks us to offer incense at his altar). God saw that human reasoning was corrupted by original sin and became human to open up the pathways to discovering the fulness of our humanity. (Philippians 2:5-12). The second principle is the key for humans to open up the ability to live in another universe (spiritual universe) that each person must enter by choice (Baptism) and sustain by energy (The Holy Spirit). This universe begins with the sacrifice of Jesus to the Father by offering his will up to the Father in reparation for the NO given to God by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

This is the first key I noticed and led me to expand my awareness to two other principles. One is the Kingdom of the Father, the Second the Kingdom of the Son, and the third, The Kingdom of the Holy Spirit. There is only one Kingdom, and as you might have guessed, it does not include the world.

This is the principle of love, the fullness of what it means to be human, to love others as Christ loved us. You only get to join this Kingdom if you choose to do so (belief), and that takes God’s energy to choose you as an adopted son (daughter). If you use The Genesis Principle and The Christ Principle in the context of original sin, you must struggle or battle to keep yourself centered on Christ.

The Spirit Principle is what happened to the Twelve Apostles when the Holy Spirit overshadowed them with the fullness of knowledge (as much as a human could tolerate), the love with God that is beyond what the world can teach us, and sustain that love by helping others with their humanity (service).

Christ is the new wine, and the Church must constantly renew itself to be a new skin. The danger is thinking that old skins are better than the trouble of taking up our crosses daily to make all things new with and through Christ.

I have found that following Cistercian practices and charisms allows me to move from my false self to making myself new through daily conversio morae and capacitas dei (more Jesus, less me).

More fragments are on their way.

uiodg

THE CHRIST PRINCIPLE TEMPLATE

I use a template to create the exact product each time I make it. This could be a furniture template to turn out lamps that look exactly alike. I thought about the notion of a template when I thought of the Christ Principle, one concept into which all reality trends and flows from which all that is. I have now developed a template that incorporates the same look each time I try to seek God each day by applying this template to whatever it is.

HOW I DEVELOPED A TEMPLATE TO LOOK AT WHAT CAN NOT BE SEEN

What should this template look like, given that the object it examines is The Christ Principle? My thoughts led me to think of this template as something I alone could use to look at the reality familiar to my eighty-one years of this earth. It is a template that I use to make sense of what is essentially beyond knowing by human standards, yet a glimpse into the Sacred.

I chose the elements of this template from Question One that I asked and had answered by the Holy Spirit that goes, “What is the purpose of life?” After a few years of declassifying all the rubbish from the world around this topic, what emerged was a fragment I learned in the Eighth Grade in my Catechism Class at St. Francis Xavier School in Vincennes, Indiana. The date was around 1952 (or close to it). Father Henry Doll came in to give us lessons from the catechism. The topic was “What is the purpose of life?” I don’t know why but I perked up when he said that, and the answer has been central to how I view what it means to be fully human as nature intended. Father Doll read, “The purpose of life is to know, love, and serve God in this life, and be happy with God in the next.” That’s it. It comes from the Baltimore Catechism, Question Six. This has been my template from that time until right now as I write this blog. My Lectio Divina expanded on the template to reform (get it) to new skins so that I could put the new wine of Christ each day in the skins without spoilage. I offer you two different references to new and old wineskins in Mark 2 and Luke 5. Use these as meditative points for your Lectio Divina.

Mark 2

The Question About Fasting.*

18 The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were accustomed to fast.e People came to him and objected, “Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?”

19Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests fast* while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast.

20But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day.

21No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak. If he does, its fullness pulls away, the new from the old, and the tear gets worse.

22 Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the skins are ruined. Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins.”

Luke 5:33

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.’”*

When I used the template back in 1952, I was no where near where I am today in my knowledge of the Faith. I have had many wrong roads where I have had to back up and start anew. For many years, I kept my old skins while the new wine was Christ yesterday, today, and tomorrow but always fresh wine. Christ is always the new wine but I am just an old and broken-down wine bag. This template helps me to renew my wine bag each day through Lectio Divina and the Sacrament of Reconcilliation. It is also a habit that I wish to grow (capacitas dei) with daily awareness of Christ as I meet each day in whatever situations that come my way. My life is now completely dedicated to a prayer of praise to the Father, through, with, and in Christ Jesus, using the power of the Holy Spirit. Some days are better than others.

My regenerated template reflects four dimensions of how I look at reality. First, I use the Rule of Threes in looking at whatever my five senses pick up, and my reason interpolates into something in my brain that makes sense to me. I can then act on what I think is good for me and choose what will allow me to become fully human as my nature intended. There is one reality containing three distinct universes; each one exists with the other so that all you see is one reality. The physical universe is the base for all matter, especially on earth, for our unique combination of gases and temperature with water. The mental universe is where humanity alone wakes up and knows it. Knowledge is cumulative, and we learn down the ages what is good and what is wrong by trial and error. You eat sour pork in the desert, and you die.

Humans must learn to be human, to exist as individuals, and learn to live with each other without killing themselves.

Here comes the spoiler. Humans come from our animality and retain all those traits that make animals survive. The difference now is that we know that we know. We strive to move away from animal behavior to human behavior (we are still learning how to do that with varying degrees of success). It is not that humans are born evil but born with the choice of good or bad using what they have learned in their lifetimes.

My template is one where I apply what I consider the purpose of life to various generic situations, such as Church, Lay Cistercian spirituality, Love, etc…

My Lay Cistercian life has four separate boxes, with The Christ Principle being my center. It might look like this. The Christ Principle is my center. When I say “Jesus is Lord,” this is what I mean. When I try to grow deeper each day (capacitas dei) in Christ’s love for me by loving others instead of judging them, this is what I mean. When someone says, “What does it mean to be a Roman Catholic” this is behind that statement. Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. I have stopped trying to prove anything to anyone about what is in my heart.

REALM OF THE MINDREALM OF THE HEART
What my masculine side provides.What my feminine side provides.

I. 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
 IV. SERVICE AND GOOD WORKS
Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy
Chapter 4, Rule of St. Benedict
Gathering Day
Tallahassee Lay Cistercian discernment group
II. KNOWLEDGE AND FREE WILL
The primacy of Holy Scriptures
Writings of the Early Church
Writings of St. Benedict
Writings of Cistercian authors
YouTube of Bishop Barron and others

III. LOVE THROUGH CONTEMPLATION
Eucharist
Reconciliation and Penance
Lectio Divina
Liturgy of the Hours
Contemplative Prayer
“Do what he tells you.”

My life, my way, my truth, and my life are informed by The Christ Principle.

Here is my reflection on what this means as I sit there on the bench and wait for my humanity to catch up to Christ’s humanity (divinity is impossible).

Characteristics of all four dimensions.

  • Using this template is a feeble attempt for me to organize my thinking to focus on “having in me the mind of Christ Jesus.”
  • Some of these four quadrants are conscious during Lectio Divina, Eucharist, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and Reading Sacred Scripture, while much of it is yet to be explored and awaits my prayer.
  • There is no limit to how deep (or high) these four quadrants extend. I know I will never reach the end. Read what St. Paul says about what is in his heart.
  • This is not where the Church gets its authority. It is The Christ Principle, my authority.

Prayer for the Readers.*

14For this reason I kneel before the Father,

15from whom every family* in heaven and on earth is named,

16that he may grant you in accord with the riches of his glory to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self,l

17and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, rooted and grounded in love,m

18may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth,n

19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.o

20Now to him who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine, by the power at work within us,p

21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/ephesians/3

These passages are not to prove anything, but you allow yourself to come to believe that Jesus is Lord and Messiah and that by believing in his name, you might have eternal life. John 20:30-31

I. AUTHORITY AND FAITH

I received this block at Baptism when Christ accepted me, and I was entrusted to the care and protection of my parents until such time that I could choose Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior. I have found that this belief on my part does not happen one time but must be renewed each day. The authority of all of my Faith comes not from me or any Church. It comes from the kingdom, the power, and the glory of the Father as mediated to me by Christ Jesus using the power (energy) of the Holy Spirit. This is the square where The Christ Principle is tattooed on my soul in the form of a cross.

If I get cocky and try to substitute my will for that of the Father, I can lose my way or even my Faith. Prayer is just me going to that room in my heart (Matthew 6.5) and being one with Christ, who alone can approach the Father with the poor gift of my free will and sinful attempts to do God’s will amid original sin until I die.

My authority is from the Father, who graciously granted me adoption as a son (daughter). I can repeatedly reply, “My soul magnifies the glory of the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God, my savior.” Luke 1.

38Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

Mary Visits Elizabeth.

39During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah,

40where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.

41When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit,s

42cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.t

43And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord* should come to me?

44For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.

45Blessed are you who believed* that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”u

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

56 Mary remained with her for about three months and then returned to her home.

Looking at the table above, you will notice that this block is in our right brain. This has nothing to do with gender differences as much as the idea that each human has a male and female side. The two are one and inseparable. I hypothesize that men favor authority and knowledge while women favor service and love.

II. KNOWLEDGE AND FREE WILL

This is the quadrant of human knowledge and free will. We use our reason to reason what is reasonable about what we see around us. Science uses the first two quadrants, Authority and Knowledge, to prove that what they see is real. I use that language, too, but I don’t limit myself to just visible reality. My human reasoning has accumulated life experiences and fragments of knowledge so far so that I might move to the next quadrant in my intelligent progression, Love through Contemplative Practice. As you can tell, there is a progressive movement in these quadrants. St. Thomas Aquinas, my favorite Saint of Knowledge, says, “Knowledge comes before Love.” This is where it gets heavy. I use my Rule of Threes to look at knowledge from the point of view of three distinct universes with just one reality. For me, the only key, The Christ Principle, unlocks the Divine Equation to allow me to grow from my false self to my true self, fully human as nature intended. Knowledge in the physical universe is acting your nature. “No one goes to the Father except through me.” That includes all living things (humans, too) ruled by force more significant than themselves, the natural law. In the second universe, the mental one, only humans have entered this one, the realm of reason and the free choice to do what they think is good. Humans do this without repercussions (except if you break a societal norm) but not without consequences. In the fullness of intelligent progression (movement of humanity towards its destiny), God saw that humans did not get it and would not have the power by themselves to move to the next level of their growth, the spiritual universe. So, God sent His Only Begotten Son, Jesus, to tell us (Old Testament) and show us (New Testament) how to reach that last level of human evolution, the spiritual one. Everyone is invited to the banquet of the Lamb of God, but not all will see it or believe it. That is not without justification because what you must believe in is truly unbelievable with just the physical and mental universe. Here is something you are called upon to believe if you choose this way, this truth, and the life of opposites to what you see in the world.

I wrote a blog a few weeks back on what it means to be a Catholic (for me).

I added these to the website Quora to answer one of their questions. With some of these inane questions, no wonder many countries are going more and more atheistic. I don’t blame them, but I offer some ideas that help me with the insanity of false questions. It’s a living.

  • That they ask you to die each day to yourself to rise to new life in Christ Jesus.
  • That they ask you to love one another as Christ loved us.
  • That they ask you to love God with your whole heart, whole mind, and all your strength and your neighbor as yourself.
  • That they ask you, when people calumniate and make false statements, do not return evil for evil, but return evil with good.
  • You should be filled with the presence of the Holy Spirit and overflow so that people may see your good works and give glory to our heavenly Father.
  • They ask you to grow in the capacity of God each day in silence and solitude.
  • That they ask you to forgive those who persecute you and love those who hate you.
  • That they ask you to believe that the words of Christ are as valid today as when he spoke them.
  • They ask you to give glory to the Father, through, with, and in Christ, with the power of the Holy Spirit in the Eucharistic sacrifice.
  • That they ask you to convert your sinful self each day through the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • That they ask you to sit quietly on a park bench in the middle of winter with the heart of Christ next to yours and just be fully human as your nature intended.
  • That you should do nothing more than to seek God each day in whatever comes your way or whoever comes your way with no judgments.
  • They ask you to have mercy on others as Christ has mercy on you.
  • That you should pray in the silence of your room (Matthew 6.5) in secret (contemplative prayer) and make no demands on God.
  • You should remember that the first step of humility is to fear the Lord.
  • You should not worship false gods of the world, the first and foremost being yourself.
  • That you should do penance for your sins and read the seven penitential psalms with genuine sorry for offending God.
  • That you should not prevaricate and speak falsely of others.
  • That you should not let the sun go down on your anger.
  • You should do unto others as you want them to do unto you.
  • That you should come to believe in the words of Christ as Messiah. (John 20:30–31)
  • You should not worship false idols such as money, fame, fortune, adulation, false pride, or thinking that you and your thinking are better than others.
  • That they ask you to give up what seems righteous to the world but which is the opposite for those in the kingdom of heaven.
  • That they ask that in all things, you glorify God.
  • That they ask you to watch out for the devil goes about seeking whom he may devour, especially me.
  • They ask you not to place the world’s riches as your center but instead place there God’s riches. Only the rich get to heaven, but it is with God’s riches, not material things.
  • They ask you to have Faith, Hope, and Love and listen to the whispers of the Holy Spirit with the ear of your heart.
  • That, even if there is no god, no higher source, nobody from whom we have a DNA, doing these things would allow us to reach the highest potential of our humanity as intended by our nature.
  • That, in the end, we have Faith so that we can have Hope in the resurrection, and so live now in the love of God (not the world), and serve others as Christ has served us.

Who wants to be a member of that? I do.

III.LOVE THROUGH CONTEMPLATION

St. Thomas Aquinas is quoted as saying, “Knowledge precedes love.” I have read some of the reactions on YouTube to Christianity by atheists and agnostics. Usually, I don’t pay any attention to their arguments because they hold radically different assumptions about what is real or not. One such YouTube is by Alan Watts, entitled, “They Made It All Up.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imSKlARohbQ

I find it fascinating that what sounds like perfectly logical arguments from someone who only lives in the physical and mental universe and who looks back in time two thousand years to make assumptions that only he can legitimize are ones about which I agree. Here are the results of my thinking.

  1. Of course, the followers of Jesus made all this up. Who else would there be to make it up but the people there, and that does not include Mr. Watt or me? What is indisputable is that they made something up. What is astounding is that the one focus of all these writings is the stories and activities of someone who influenced them enough to write down all this stuff, each person being different and writing from the fullness of their life experiences and yet all influenced by that one Christ Principle. It is absolutely unbelievable. (John 20:30-31; John 21:25)
  2. The assumption of this YouTube, if I might be permitted a comment is that assumption is that all the writings of different people cannot possibly mean that it is true. They make mistakes, and they write from the viewpoint of each person; schools of Thought, like the Pauline School, had a different approach than the format of the Gospels, which uses the classic heroic myth format popularized by Joseph Campbell. https://libguides.gvsu.edu/c.php?g=948085&p=6857311 My assumption is that all these different written documents (primary sources) by all these different authors is why I believe it is true.
  3. What is written down in the Scriptures is only a tiny piece of what has been written by those in those first centuries around the time of Jesus. Rather than take up too much space, I go to sources like http://www.newadvent.com and look up Fathers of the Church. Here are a few examples of people who made up things about Jesus.

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)

All of these writings, even those Mr. Watts sees as “made up” are real documents written by real people all centered on what the Christ Principle means to them.

My point in all of this is that Christianity is about sitting next to Jesus on a park bench in the dead of winter, content to be in the presence of pure love and receive the power to become what our human nature fully intended, fully human but as an adopted son or daughter of the Father.

Contemplation refers to that hidden room in your heart (inner sanctum) where you bolt the door closed and are there with Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 6:5) This presence with the Sacred results from knowledge. This is love, not as humans define it, but as you are challenged to live it. (Matthew 25). Prayer is a way to put yourself in the presence of Jesus, sometimes with others but most intimately within your Temple of the Holy Spirit. What do you treasure in your Arc of the Covenant? Think about that. It is more beneficial to discover your true self than to read about how all these people wrote differently about Christ. False questions can only have false answers.

Discovering what it means to love is part of our purpose in life. What we learn about it gives each of our unique perspectives on what it means to be human.

IV. SERVICE AND GOOD WORKS

The quadrants of authority, knowledge, and love are incomplete with the last component–doing all this for and with others. St. Benedict provides a good list of practices (good works) needed to move from our false self to our true self. All it takes is for me to do it.

Lay Cistercian practices and charisms are how I focus on keeping my Christ Principle from corrupting due to the matter and mind around me. I must do this habit daily, and I need these good works to become more like Christ ad less like my old self.

And, by the way, I made up all these ideas with the help of the Holy Spirit, Mr. Watts, notwithstanding.

Using The Christ Principle, I must continuously upgrade and update my old skins to replace them with new skins. Christ is always new to each age and person, yet remains the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. I use the Christ Principle template to measure my four quadrants against what is the way, the truth, and the life.

TEN PRACTICES THAT BRING FULFILLMENT TO ME AS A CATHOLIC

Remember that Catholic is the name for those individuals who share one faith, one lord, one baptism,

Unity in the Body.

1* I, then, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received,a

2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love,b

3striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace:c

4* one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call;d

5one Lord, one faith, one baptism;e

6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.f

  1. BEING A LAY CISTERCIAN
  2. BEING SOMEONE WHO SEEKS GOD EVERY DAY, AS I CAN.
  3. BEING SOMEONE WHO HAS THE CHRIST PRINCIPLE AS MY CENTER.
  4. BEING SOMEONE WHO MUST CONSTANTLY KEEP CHRIST AS MY CENTER THROUGH SILENCE, SOLITUDE, PRAYER, WORK, AND COMMUNITY.
  5. WRITE DOWN MY THOUGHTS ABOUT WHAT THE HOLY SPIRIT PROMPTS WITHOUT WORRYING ABOUT IF I AM RIGHT, OR WHO WILL READ IT.
  6. SPENDING TIME BEFORE THE BLESSED SACRAMENT.
  7. CREATING AN ARC OF THE COVENANT OF IN MY OFFICE WHERE I HOUSE FOUR ITEMS THAT REMIND ME THAT I MUST TAKE UP MY CROSS EACH DAY, TO FOLLOW THE FOOTSTEPS OF CHRIST.
  8. AS I NOTICEABLY DECLINE IN PHYSICAL HEALTH (AND PROBABLY MENTAL HEALTH), TO LOOK FORWARD TO SHARING MY INHERITANCE AS AN ADOPTED SON (DAUGHTER) OF THE FATHER.
  9. SITTING ON A PARK BENCH IN THE MIDDLE OF WINTER ONLY WISHING TO BE NEAR TO THE HEART OF CHRIST WITHOUT WORDS, MY AGENDA, BUT RATHER LISTENING WITH THE EAR OF THE HEART.
  10. CREATING MORE BOOKS, BLOGS, AND MAYBE A YOUTUBE VIDEO ON CONTEMPLATIVE PRACTICE AS I UNDERSTAND IT.

UIODG

10 THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT HOW TO MOVE FROM SELF TO GOD

My preoccupation for some time has been to move from my false self to my true self. This transition is a transformation (conversio morae) from being human in two universes (physical and mental) to that being fully human in three universes (physical, mental, and spiritual). As I am beckoned by the Holy Spirit to abandon what I have learned about life, from being in the world to “having in me the mind of Christ Jesus,” I have gained more than I can even write down, as much as I try. All this is without going to a theological class or studying for a degree, although I have the degrees and a lifetime of trying and failing to love others as Christ loves me. The new awareness is to just let go and sit in the presence of the Holy Spirit as Jesus sat in the temple with the elders, teaching them. It is a recognition that to move from false self to true self is with the help and mentorship of the Magister Noster (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).

Here are some new ideas that have popped up in this old and failing mind in my recent Lectio Divina meditations.

  1. TRUST IN THE LORD — I must decrease, Christ must increase. I don’t get that automatically, but I must work to achieve it. Awareness is the conscious lifting up my mind and heart to God, becoming a habit.
  2. PRAY IN PRIVATE — These days, I see myself going into that upper room in my heart, closing the door, then sitting down in my rocking chair to be with the Holy Spirit and learn the idea of the day. I don’t own the agenda, which is part of the abandonment of my false self. (Matthew 6:5)
  3. RECOGNIZE THAT GOD IS GOD AND I AM ME– The first step in St. Benedict’s ladder of humility is “fear of the Lord.” I don’t sense that this is being afraid of God as much as realizing that, when I am in the presence of Christ, I must keep my head bowed and my eyes lowered because I am in the presence of pure love (100% of God’s nature, which is beyond knowing with human reasoning).
  4. REALIZE THAT MY CHOICES HAVE CONSEQUENCES — Evil and Good do not live outside or inside me. They are the results of what I choose when I think and act. I can make choices that are good for my adoption as a son of the Father or bad. Like any good Father, God helps and guides me by allowing me to make my own choices but points out the way, what is accurate, and the life I must lead while I am alive until I die and receive my reward for trying to be what Christ taught me. I don’t get to heaven automatically, like being on a conveyor belt with no responsibility or consequences for my actions. The Sacrament of Reconciliation and my habit of being a penitential Lay Cistercian keep me primed to keep all things new through, with, and in Christ Jesus.
  5. THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS WITHIN YOU –Recognize that contemplative prayer is going to that place inside me, the place the late Stephen Hawking could not look (not because he was not brilliant, but because he never thought there was anything there to discover). Contemplation is the abandonment of false self so that the newness of life through the Holy Spirit can overshadow me. How can you do that? By sitting on a park bench in the middle of winter and waiting for your humanity to settle down so you can listen with the “ear of the heart.” (St. Benedict)
  6. LONG FOR SIMPLICITY — The Christ Principle is the totality of all that is meaningful for humans to become what their nature intended. It is the size of a mustard seed yet contains all that I need to sustain me as an adopted son (daughter) of the Father. All I have to do is plant, water, keep the weeds away, and talk to it. In the way that I adapt this to my actual living in the world, I have been sitting in my chair (I don’t count how long) and thinking about Philippians 2:5, my center, then just see myself in that upper room in my rocking chair waiting for Jesus to talk to me. I don’t control the agenda. I do speak first out of respect that this is God. I think, “Speak whatever I need to hear.” Simplicity is the result of complete abandonment of the will of God, which retains my responsibility to be fully human in the present as God intended in the Garden of Eden before the Fall.
  7. BE A CONSTANT SONG OF THANKSGIVING — I am always grateful for the gift of adoption from the Father and the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit in sustaining me against the lion’s roar. There are no words to describe the depths (and getting more profound each day) of my love for Christ, even with all my health problems and lack of support for being a Lay Cistercian. My grace is sufficient is the answer I get back. Christ tells me, “Just because your road is rocky doesn’t mean you are on the wrong road. My road to Calvary had lots of pebbles and rocks that hurt my feet.” My response to this is a song of thanksgiving (Eucharist and Eucharistic Adoration) to express my gratitude as much as my human nature will allow (with, in, and through the humanity of Christ). How great Thou Art.
  8. I AM A LEAF ON THE BRANCHES OF THE TREE OF CHRIST WITH THE FATHER AND HOLY SPIRIT AS THE ROOTS– I refer to the Church or Gathering of Believers. This is the dynamic presence of the humanity of those in heaven, those still struggling with carrying their daily cross on earth, and those given a second chance by the Father to love others as Christ loved us. Given the sinfulness of every member of the Church (except Christ and Mary), it is a paradox how God, who knew everything, still entrusted the administration of the flock to humans that led us off the beaten path. Only the fidelity of the Holy Spirit to us as adopted sons and daughters kept the Church from falling into the depths of failure and dissolving. We are all wounded and need mercy and forgiveness each day of our lives.
  9. THE PEACE OF CHRIST IS NOT THE ABSENCE OF CONFLICT IN OUR HEARTS, BUT THE PRESENCE OF HIS DIVINE LOVE (as much as we are capable of receiving–capacitas dei). If I want love in my life, I must choose to put it there; if I want to sustain my faith, I must constantly believe that Christ is the Messiah. (John 20:30-31) My Lay Cistercian community helps me to do that.
  10. THIS SIDE OF PARADISE, I AM A PILGRIM IN A FOREIGN LAND (the world) AND MUST STRUGGLE EACH DAY TO SURVIVE. I realize that each day is sufficient unto itself and that I must seek God anew the day the Lord has made. I am more and more aware that, although each day is a martyrdom of the ordinary (sameness), I am slightly more of Christ today than yesterday if I just “Do what he tells me.” Profound listening is not an easy habit to obtain or maintain, but it is one that I strive to do each day as I move from my false self to my true self. uiodg

I HAVE A GHOST WRITER

I have constantly been upset with myself for claiming that the Holy Spirit is my generator of ideas, not because it is not valid but because it sounds so haughty to claim that. No more. I give credit to the source of my thinking.

My approach to Lay Cistercian spirituality is totally my own experiences with how I either assimilate God’s communication into my patterns of thinking and acting or not. Honestly, my life has been a complete failure when I look back on it. It is not that I have not done a few good things in my lifetime. Still, my examination of conscience turns up the many times I just thought about myself and what I could gain from a relationship with anyone or how to improve my position or job. All failures, in terms of My center, The Christ Principle (Philippians 2:5). It is humbling that I have so much bumbling around.

My Lay Cistercian practices have given me the tools (Chapter 4 of the Rule of St. Benedict) to assess who I am in the sight of God and make all things new.

Writing has been a nice transition for me in retirement (I am beyond retirement and now am just tired). And there is the point of my blog, “Where do all these ideas come from?” Of course, they come from me, just as the Scriptures come from the many people who wrote down Old and New Testament stories. When I ask this question, what is in the back of my mind is that I don’t consciously bring up any of these ideas during a typical waking day. It is only when I do Lectio Divina that I unleash the power (not the full power of the Holy Spirit because none of us could survive that flush of energy that is knowledge, love, and service) of my humanity. Put another way, I inch forward (capacitas dei) by delving into relationships that are part of the compendium of my knowledge but not readily apparent to this temple of the Holy Spirit.

I just want to acknowledge my Ghostwriter is the Holy Spirit. I am the writing instrument (I must keep my ink full by seeking God daily). The book I write is my book of life, one that I present to God when I die to give an accounting of my stewardship (Genesis 1-2). I don’t speak for the Holy Spirit; only the Holy Father does that. I do speak with the Holy Spirit in my Lay Cistercian practices as I place myself unconditionally in the presence of Christ and wait.

I am not you; you are not me; God is not me; and I, most certainly, am not God.

uiodg

TOP TEN MOVIE FAVORITES: A life at the movies.

MY TOP TEN FAVORITES: Movies

What follows is what came from my Lectio Divina (Phil 2:5) meditations. I need to acknowledge Brother Michael, O.C.S.O. and Father Cassian, O.C.S.O., monks both at the Monastery of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit, Conyers, Georgia, for expanding my idea of Lectio to group Lectio, photos, and music Lectio and even sitting down to a computer and letting the Holy Spirit dictate what to say. I must tell them I have a problem with their suggestions and guidance. I don’t know how to turn off the spigot of the Holy Spirit. I guess that is a good problem to have. 

If you know what the Left Hand of God is, then you know that it is a movie starring Humphrey Bogart, actually, his last film as well as for Jean Tierney made in 1955, although she was having severe emotional problems during the filming. https://www.bestmoviesbyfarr.com/articles/gene-tierney-pictures/2015/11  At the end of his life, Bogart had terrible coughing spells between takes for the movie. You can see age in his weathered face. Lee J. Cobb plays the War Lord in this film set in China in the 1940s. I bring this up because you can now see it on Comcast movies if you wish. I rate the Left Hand of God as one of my top ten movies of all time. 

Other top ten movies are:

1. Gregory Peck in Keys of the Kingdom (and anything else he was in)

2. Charlton Heston in Ben Hur (and anything else he was in)

3. Gene Kelly in Singin’ in the Rain (and anything else he was in)

4. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers in Top Hat (and anything else they were in)

5. Humphrey Bogart in The Left Hand of God (and anything else he was in)

6. John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara in The Quiet Man (and anything else they were in)

7. Basil Rathbone in The Court Jester (and anything else he was in)

8. Cary Grant in Gunga Din, Victor McLaglen(and anything else any of them were in)

9. Gary Cooper in Lives of a Bengal Lancer (and anything else he was in)

10. Katheryn Hepburn, Jimmy Stewart, and Cary Grant in The Philadelphia Story (and anything else any of them were in)

11. Spencer Tracy in Inherit the Wind (and anything else is was in)

Notice anything about this list? Something out of place?

  • For one thing, there are eleven movies, not ten. Baker’s Dozen? Sometimes you just have to squeeze life a little to get it to ooze what you want.
  • They all have movie stars that make me laugh, cry, or think. Other movies, for sure, do this, but these have reached my heart.
  • Movies are actual stories told by writers, actors, producers, directors, and stage hands, all working together to put ideas down within a specific timeframe. Some are good, some are terrible.
  • I like any movies these actors or actresses are in.
  • It shows how old-fashioned and sentimental I am.

Seeing how movies can relate to Christ might seem like a stretch. Think about it for a moment. As a Lay Cistercian who does Lectio Divina at least once every day (Phil 2:5), I try to relate everything to this saying, “have in you the mind of Christ Jesus.”

  • What Jesus came to do was on a stage (the world, in particular, a set in Jerusalem).
  • He had a supporting cast of characters (you could not find a more unlikely crew of cats to herd).
  • Christ had a script (to do all the Father had told him), yet he had writers take down these ideas because he never wrote a script or a book (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, et al.).
  • He was a leader extraordinaire but only ever gave one command: love others as I have loved you.
  • He was tempted by Satan in the desert. Want an excellent visual of the Devil? See the fantastic choreography of Bob Fosse in his “Snake in the Grass” scene from The Little Prince Movie.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Little_Prince.
  • The script had drama and incredible feats beyond the imagination of even the best scriptwriters. You could not make these miracles up.
  • He walked on water.
  • He raised the dead.
  • He was transfigured before the eyes of witnesses.
  • Like all heroic films, our hero had to overcome tremendous obstacles and come out on top. Was this magic? If not, he had significant special effects.
  • His supporting cast was always slow to get what he was trying to do, even going to sleep once when he needed them the most. 
  • The mother of some of the cast members wanted her sons to have the highest billing in the movie, but He told her it was not his to give. (After all, he was not the Director.)
  • Christ did his own stunts, doing all the scourging at the pillar, crowing of thorns, and carrying his cross himself (they did get an extra, Simon of Cyrene, to help him when he fell down too many times).
  • The climax to this film was not just a sword fight, as Basic Rathbone had in Robin Hood, or even a ship’s battle, as Gregory Peck did in Captain Horatio Hornblower. He volunteered to give up his life because of love.
  • The star dies in this film, giving his life to his friends. Sounds like Gunga Din and Tales of a Bengal Lancer, don’t you think? But, like all epic films (El CidThe Ten CommandmentsThe Greatest Story Ever Told), death is not the end of the movement. There is a resurrection of the hero from the dead, and he appears to Mary and the Apostles and other disciples after his death.
  • His enemies said his disciples stole his body away and made up all these fanciful tales. They still do to this day.
  • They recognized him in the breaking of the bread. We still do that today.
  • This film was made with no budget and no money for actors.
  • They had to pay to make the film; the cost is their life and to give up everything and follow The Master.
  • There have been many sequels to this film down through the ages.
  • Check out the movie about the Seven Cistercian martyrs of Our Lady of Altas for a poignant sequel. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Of_Gods_and_Men_(film)  Oh, and don’t forget to watch The Left Hand of God.   
  • What is the title of this film? It has many names, all of them good. I like to call it “The Divine Equation.” Not a catchy title, but I can call it what I want. I may change the title later if I get more mean and cranky. 
  • His followers promoted the movie, filmed in their hearts by the Holy Spirit. They still do. There is only one movie reel known to exist, although there are countless movie projectors on which you might play it.
  • The Father was the Director, while the Holy Spirit was the cinematographer. It was filmed in real-life color. Each individual person is in the cast, be they, believers or non-believers. 
  • Editing was done to the many scripts submitted as a biopic of his life after he Ascended. The Twelve Apostles were the Board of Directors and selected the best scripts after being enlightened by the Holy Spirit and approved by The Director.
  • The reviews were rave. His exploits spread to Rome from Jerusalem within twenty-five years of his birth. That must have been a box office record at the time. Those who attended the movie later said it was “to die for.”
  • It could have been just another Indy movie about an obscure cult. Instead, it had a worldwide audience.
  • Promotion is done by each person who loves others as Christ loved us.

This movie is not for everyone, but for anyone wishing to grow deeper in the Mystery of Faith, to sit on a park bench in the dead of winter and wait for the heart of Christ to come by and touch you with His love. To paraphrase the book Little Prince, the time you take to wait for someone to come by your bench is meaningful. What is essential is invisible to the eye. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Little_Prince

To those who see this movie and interiorize its message of love and hope, there awaits a final showing at the end of time, a Gala Grand Movie Premier. Everyone will be there. You don’t want to miss it. Oh, I forgot, you must have a ticket to get in. The good news is that Christ gave everyone a ticket upon their birth, but not everyone realizes what they have. They redeem their ticket upon their Baptism and Confirmation. Lose your ticket? No problemo! Christ makes all things new…now and Forever. And don’t forget to buy popcorn and a drink.

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. Amen and Amen. –Cistercian doxology

TWO TYPES OF CATHOLICISM: A Lay Cistercian looks at the duality of three new approaches to the Sacred.

I must warn you that what I am writing, I do so with the promptings from the Holy Spirit, which are not traditional to my Catholic Faith on the first review but which I consider illuminating, at least. This is just a blog, the mutterings of an old, broken-down Lay Cistercian temple of the Holy Spirit at the end of his life wobbling down the path of righteousness. You be the judge of its orthodoxy.

As I look at the profundity of my life, the only perspective I know, I realize that my Lay Cistercian experiences have laid many bare ideas and cherished beliefs that I hold now and in the past. More and more, my awareness of The Christ Principle is caught up in the conundrum of complexities, such as the duality between my human nature existing in the physical universe and, superimposed over that, my spiritual heritage as an adopted son (daughter) of the Father. I see that played out before me in the history of the Catholic Church, which I describe later on, but also in the dual that exists in prayer (contemplative prayer of the individual and the public prayer of Liturgy of the Hours, Eucharist, Reconciliation, Rosary, and Litanies.) When I use the term “dualities,” I mean two interacting influences in the human experience and in no way conflicting, and in most ways, complementary parts of the one whole.

The implications of duality are that the concept of the Church or that adoption can have two levels, or whatever you want to call it. One is not the other, but they both exist in synchronicity. One is the easy way, and one is the hard way. Apply the sign of contradiction to these two ways, and I get the subject of my latest Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5), and you get a statement like this. How is it that I can use Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5) to place myself in the presence of Christ and just wait for me to show up to sit next to the Christ Principle and be? Then, because of the power of the Holy Spirit, bring forth such complexities and depth of thinking (far beyond my usual thought patterns of just looking at Korean cooking shows on the YouTube channel and marveling at their culinary skills).

In this first example, I look at how I can simultaneously be simple and complex in prayer. Next, I will share my Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5) results about Church, then a quick look at my feminine and masculine duality.

THE FIRST DUALITY: THE “CAPACITAS DEI” IN PRAYER AND HOW IT IS BOTH SIMPLE YET COMPLEX.

THE EASY WAY –The easy way is direct contact with the Christ Principle (as much as I can assimilate the faith I have assimulated and sustained by faith alone). It is only the way that is the most difficult to achieve and requires constant conversio morae (conversion). For me, this is sitting before the Blessed Sacrament and gradually and purposefully getting rid of (abandonment) the world’s allure in favor of just waiting with Christ in the silence and solitude of unconditional Love. That does not happen often, but it is the goal of all my Lectio Divina prayers. “Have in you the mind of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5). The easy way is my path less traveled but most desired. It is the easiest in terms of simplicity and cutting through all the mental constructs I put up to meet God on my terms, but it is the most difficult to achieve. Heaven is the permanent habit of contemplation in this sense.

This approach bypasses the typical theological banter and struggles to discover what is spiritually true in favor of simplicity in contemplation using silence, solitude, work, and prayer, in the context of community (Cistercian charisms). A type of person comes to mind, one that is contemplative and wants to slow down, loving Christ with all their heart, their minds, and their strength (Deuteronomy 6:5). The mind feeds on complexity and always looks for more tendrils of meaning that leads to more meaning, like the mustard seed that grows into a big bush. This way seeks simplicity and focuses just on being in the presence of Christ, knowing that all knowledge is there but choosing that second to love Christ while waiting. All of this is reduced to one act of gratitude and humility at being chosen as an adopted son (daughter) of the Father, unworthy but grateful.

The example that comes to mind for me is Mrs. Murphy, a fictional character invented by the late Father Aidan Kavanaugh, O.S.B. He stated in one of his classes that I attended that Mrs. Murphy was a little, old lady who sat in the back of the Church in contemplation and prayer. He said she is not schooled in Theology, Philosophy, Psychology, and any other discipline of the mind. She just sits there in the presence of Christ in silence and solitude and waits. Father Aidan said this humble person knows more about what it means to be a disciple of the Master than all the Theologians from all religions who lived. In my Lectio Divina experiences, I don’t need all the various levels of trying to grow deeper in Christ Jesus. The difference is: that I try for silence and simplicity of mind and heart and just wait, not pushing any agenda on the Holy Spirit. When I abandon my human inclinations and will to the Father, I automatically step into the realm of contemplation, just being in the presence of Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.

My best example of this is my adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. I am just sitting there, waiting for my mind to demythologize all the extraneous cares that bombard me so I can focus on seeking the kingdom of heaven first.

THE HARD WAY –Because I am of human nature, I have reason and the ability to choose whatever I want as my center, my God, my values, and what it means to be human. This is the hard way. I am this type of Catholic when I try to prove anything using the Scriptures. That is not why the Scriptures were written down by many people, using many points of view about The Christ Principle. It is amazing what came out of that experience.

The hard way is being open to what the Spirit says but with the downside of getting overkill if there is too much information. There is always too much information (capacitas dei) growing deeper in The Christ Principle.

With this approach, the hardest to assimilate because all of these experiences need to be organized, there is a tendency for The Christ Principle to get lost in the myriad of offshoots of the original question. This way, the more you know, the more ramifications about The Christ Principle come to mind, and the more hoops you must jump through. This is good but definitely the hard way to contemplate because, to reach simplicity, these mental constructs must be placed in order. Just like doing a Soduku puzzle, humans have a compulsion streak that seeks to solve what cannot be solved. This is the problem with God for many people because God is not a puzzle to be solved as much as a feeling that comes from being exposed to the Sacred, experienced, and enjoyed.

I perform both the easy way (when I do Lectio Divina, Liturgy of the Hours, or Eucharist, and just let myself go in the presence of Christ to become a cup filled with whatever enters it, or the hard way when I grow in capacitas dei with my predetermined levels of practice (lectio, meditatio, oratio, contemplatio, actio). Both are part of the one core center, “Have in you the mind of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5)

THE SECOND DUALITY: THE MYSTERY OF HOW THE CHURCH IS A DYNAMIC REPOSITORY OF THE FAITH FOR HISTORY YET MEANINGFUL FOR EACH PERSON MARKED WITH THE SIGN OF BAPTISM (THE CROSS).

One of the hottest topics of my Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5) these days is the process of going deeper into my meditations. For example, take the word “Church.” It could mean a building, a denomination, or a way of believing. My thoughts go for this diagram containing four parts of the meaning of “Church.” Let me elaborate my thinking by giving you the history of the Catholic Church (as I alone see it). It illustrates the tension in a church, continuously challenging the world of the now for its role and purpose. As with any church, the history of the Catholic Church depends on your understanding of the conundrum of “How can anything Holy from Christ be so messed up with fallible, mistake-prone, sinful, worldly humans?” I offer no definitive answer other than what I have gleaned over nearly eighty-two years of looking at how all this could make sense. I am just a broken-down, old Lay Cistercian temple of the Holy Spirit with many weeds and cracks. You judge what is, just as I try to make sense of what is a conundrum to the world but makes perfect sense when you insert The Christ Principle into the lock of The Divine Equation.

The Catholic Church is the fulfillment of what the Jewish covenant should have been (instead of expanding as a light of truth to the Gentiles, it withdrew into itself). If Christ is the vine and we are the branches, then the Jewish experience with one God are the roots.) Two types of Church movements evolved: one is monarchical (began with Constantine and the Edict of Milan) when the Church was seduced and assumed into the state. Before that, it was the Church of Martyrs (the first forty Popes were martyred), and the first pope denied Christ three times. Peter was said to have had furrows carved out of his cheeks by his constant tears. From the beginning, the second type of Church was the rise of those (men and women) who followed the contemplative path made famous by the Essenes and John the Baptism.

These two strains moved forward in time using the Christ Principle. Both are correct and flawed yet obsessed with making the Christ Principle real in the moment. The Church of Martyrs, from Pentecost to the Edict of Milan in the West 313 A.D., was plagued by the casuistry and relativism of individuals who claimed to have been the way, have the truth, and invited people to join them. The heresies of the individual (Gnosticism and all the other “isms” and “ologies” touted believing in this or that variation on The Christ Principle.) The authority of the true teachings of Jesus was at constant risk of being tainted by false teachers. All this Church of the Martyrs had was the Torah and prescriptions of the Law, the Jewish practices, and the Temple of Jerusalem. They circulated manuscripts of what disciples had written down or remembered about Jesus (John 20:30–31). This transition from the Law of God to something much broader (they had no clue what that was) is evident in the writing of the Pauline School in Acts of the Apostles. Until the Holy Spirit, these twelve entrances of the New Jerusalem were hiding in the upper room for fear of being discovered by Jewish authorities. Then, something happened, something wonderful. For the second time (the Incarnation’s first time), God intervened and overshadowed them just like the Holy Spirit did with Mary. Somehow, they were made new, raised to a new level, still sinful and prone to making everyday mistakes, but now they had infused knowledge about what their Baptism meant and how Jesus was Lord, Savior, and Son of God. That group changed the world, not because they were human, but because, raised to a new life, they realized the evolution of humans as nature intended. Genesis was fulfilled in each of them and so in each of us. That is what they tried to spread and safeguard truth from being watered down.

THE FOUR QUADRANTS OF MY FAITH

To help my human tendencies always to have my thoughts racked in some order, four different processes of my Lay Cistercian experiences come to mind. I can best describe them with this diagram.

Any notion of a collection of those who gather in the name of the Lord has the burden of looking a lot like the person who asked the question, “What is the Catholic Church?” Each person answers that with the sum of their own life experiences, both good and bad. I speak only for myself.

To review: this is my hypothesis that there is but one reality containing three distinct and overlapping universes, each one with different characteristics and different measurements. This concept comes from The Divine Equation, the six postulates that I must successfully ask and answer correctly to fulfill what my nature as a human fully intended me to be (life before the fall of Adam and Eve). The Divine Equation is the six assumptions each human must correctly identify to become fully human as nature intended.

  • 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 do I love fiercely?
  • I know I am going to die; now what?

The Divine Equation is “divine” because both questions and the correct answers come from God through The Christ Principle. It is not the equation to prove God’s existence. Solving it individually allows me to break the code that prevents those who just hold reality in the physical and mental universes instead of the physical, mental, and spiritual universes also called intelligent progression.

MY ASSUMPTIONS:

This concept is not a “good or bad church” diatribe. It points out the humanity involved in this group of believers gathered together to try as best they can to “have in them the mind of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5)

These two influences exist simultaneously as humanity proceeds down the path to discover the purpose of life and my purpose in that purpose (all six postulates of the Divine Equation).

When I answer these six questions correctly,  I can use the key to open up the purpose of life now and in the life to come.

The correct answer to the first postulate of The Divine Equation, “What is the Purpose of life?” is: Deuteronomy 6:5 and its fulfillment in Matthew 22:38. Put another way, “The purpose of life is to know, love, and serve God in this life so that I can be happy with God in the next.”

This gets a little tricky in my notion of church. Bear with me. This is my hard way of looking at the depths and heights of what I see around me when I behold the Catholic Church. I go into this seemingly complex view of the simple mystery of the Church in another blog.

All levels are one, inseparable through time and each age.

I wind up with my Church in the eighty years I have on earth to discover what it means to be fully human, which, in turn, means I am an adopted son of the Father.

RIGHT BRAIN/LEFT BRAIN

If I look at my own reflections of what it means to be Catholic, I see similarities with the concept of right brain and left brain traits. I use this concept even if it is a way for me to see how my behaviors in the spiritual universe can be split into two hemispheres of behaviors.

Right Brain

  • Creative
  • Intuitive
  • Artistic
  • Non-verbal
  • Emotional
  • Musical
  • Imaginative

Left Brain

  • Logical
  • Analytical
  • Linear
  • Verbal
  • Factual
  • Verbal
  • Sequential

https://www.verywellmind.com/left-brain-vs-right-brain-2795005

THE MONACHICAL INFLUENCE The monarchical Church, influenced by Roman law and order, and the Twelve Apostles, the painful process of applying the Gospel imperatives to a non-Jewish world to evangelize and organize the authority of Christ, truth, and organizational skills (bishops, presbyters, and deacons). This monarchical Church (after the fourth century) was prone to make bad choices over the years, yet all the while having authority to enter each age to protect the message of Christ from false teachers and prophets. The Church is holy, while all members are sinful and prone to evil without our constant call upon the Lord to be saved daily. Here are four ideas about the monarchical church that are still embedded in what we know as The Catholic Church through the centuries.

Reading the Acts of the Apostles gives us a flavor of the transition from Jewish Law (613 prescriptions of the Law) and how the Law and the Prophets would expand into the Roman and Greek worlds of the time. The Jewish approach was to conserve and preserve the Law and the teachings contained in the Torah and the Prophets, keeping intact the Twelve Tribes (actually, there were ten lost tribes, so Judah, Benjamine (St Paul was of this tribe), and Levi. When the Twelve Apostles received the gift of the Holy Spirit, the world into which each of them exited was Jewish. The Torah and Law of Moses respected the temple, the sacred center, the priests who offered sacrifice with animals, and the writings of Rabbis on the meaning of the covenant and how God would not leave his people abandoned.

Jesus is the Messiah, Jeshua Meshiak, Son of God and Savior. John 20:30-31sums up the purpose of Scriptures as readings and a history of fulfilling the Law and the Prophets.

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

31 But 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

ONE WAY TO LOOK AT MY VIEW OF THE CHRIST PRINCIPLE

Left BrainRight Brain
AUTHORITY AND JUSTIFICATIONSERVICE AND FULFILLMENT
INFORMATION AND KNOWLEDGELOVE AND CONTEMPLATIVE PRACTICE
THE MONARCHICAL INFLUENCETHE MONASTIC INFLUENCE
Four categories that I use to fill up my cup.

THE MONASTIC INFLUENCE– The monastic dimension, from the beginning, did not seek to go out to the whole world and tell the good news, although that was still an unintended outcome. There was only the Torah and teachings of the Prophets, the traditions of Jewish teachers. This way of life turned inward in contemplation to ask the questions: “What is the purpose of life? What is my purpose within that purpose? 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?” They sought the answers in the silence and solitude of their hearts, some becoming monks in the desert like St. Anthony., St. Benedict, the Cistercian and Carthusian movements of St. Bernard of Clairvaux and St. Bruno, respectively. As the Church wobbled down the path of time, it was never an easy walk but one characterized by Christ’s walk to his crucifixion. Denial of self, connecting to the ways of the world (in each age), and focusing on Christ as the way, the truth, and the light daily was core.

From early on (you can argue how early), this movement or second stain of the Catholic Universal Church approached each individual at each age with the same question. “What does it mean for you to have in you the mind of Christ Jesus?” The monarchical Church (The Church of rules and order, and the mind is the right brain) is secondary to what happens in the heart between you and Jesus with that same Holy Spirit overshadowing you that happened to Mary in Luke Chapters 1–2. Both influences are correct, but with different emphasis. This is never an either/or dichotomy, but rather complementary processes influencing each other.

Because the Church on earth has been authorized to act on behalf of an unseen God, its focus is on keeping the message from Christ unsullied by humans. The problem was that people giving temporal direction to how the Church moved from Judaism to society contained all the uncertainties, struggles, human pride, and wrong choices that plague any human enterprise. We forget to think it is God’s Church, not ours, to play around with. Whatever you think about how the Church is run, and there is plenty of justification to show how human intervention went berzerk down through the ages, the Holy Spirit is there to bring the great ship of believers back on course.

The Monarchical Church (left brain) stressed being correct, law and order (from the Roman Law influence), and the stress of knowing Jesus. By itself, this Church is not complete nor fulfilled without the other. Look at the purpose of life once more, and you realize that what is missing is the Monastic Church’s influence, how to love our neighbor as ourselves, and how to live the sign of contradiction by serving others. Together, they live in an eternal embrace, separate but needing each other to address The Christ Principle in each age (monarchical) and in each individual (monastic).

I am writing a separate blog on this notion of six levels of my temple of the Holy Spirit.

III. THE THIRD DUALITY: MY CHURCH IS FEMININE AND MASCULINE.

Building on the duality of prayer and the mystery of Faith, there is one more dimension to this interaction between the two types of churches. Once again, I will introduce the table and more suitable information about the topic. This duality expands my notion of the Church to incorporate more of an archetype of Mary as Church and Christ as the head. Lectio Divina has led me deeper into the mystery of Faith, which some consider folly or a fairy tale. Still, I consider “the stone which the builders have rejected has become the cornerstone” of all reality.

HYPOTHESIS: Because the type of the Church has dual dimensions, another level of awareness is the relationship between the feminine and masculine Church (Adam and Eve being the prototype example of why you need both). For me to begin to reach an understanding of what it means to be fully human so that I can love God with all my heart, all my mind, and all my strength, and my neighbor as myself, several of these dualities have popped up in my thoughts during Lection Divina, one of which is masculine and feminine dimensions to each human being.

In the transition from animality to rationality, there must have been a divine DNA compels our intelligent progression forward. The Genesis Principle is one that sets out the importance of a male and female, and the two will become one. That could mean separate genders, but it could also imply that each person has dimensions and layers of complexity that allow us to choose what is good for us or, as Genesis points out, the consequences of choosing what we think is good but is actually damaging to our nature.

Don’t ask. This topic just popped into my compendium of Lay Cistercian practices for my consideration. I wrote what is below in a previous blog but I think it appropriate to copy it again.

Whenever we use words, the user (me) has assumptions that have taken a lifetime to associate with that word, and the receiver uses the same lifetime of assuming what the word means to them. When I say I have a masculine and a feminine side to my Lay Cistercian contemplative prayer life, I DO NOT mean gender differences that exist in the physical universe. I am a male by gender. I have a masculine and feminine side to the prayer life that I never knew existed. There is something to think about when I try to apply my prayers in the mental universe (that of purpose and my particular purpose in life). If I am to fulfill my quest to be fully human, one that The Christ Principle can be of help, then a masculine and feminine dimension to my prayer can help me be whole.

Remember when Genesis, the great archetypal story of what human nature should be like, and actually is? It says, “It is not good for a male to be alone.” God creates a female, and they are joined together as one. Applying the Christ Principle to this statement might have an obvious and more sophisticated meaning. First, humans need each other; males need females for procreation. Suppose this story is a classical myth and Adam represents all humanity while Eve represents all humanity. In that case, my thoughts run to thinking that males by themselves need that infusion of purpose from their feminine side to be wholly human. The two shall be one.

As a Lay Cistercian, I recently applied this to my prayer life, which is what the Holy Spirit showed me (remember, none of this stuff is normal for me).

My Lay Cistercian life has four separate boxes, with The Christ Principle being my center. It might look like this. The Christ Principle is my center.

REALM OF THE MINDREALM OF THE HEART
What my masculine side provides.What my feminine side provides.

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
INFORMATION AND REASON Primacy of Holy Scriptures
Writings of the Early Church
Writings of St. Benedict
Writings of Cistercian authors
YouTube of Bishop Barron and others

LOVE THROUGH CONTEMPLATION
Eucharist
Reconciliation and Penance
Lectio Divina
Liturgy of the Hours
Contemplative Prayer
“Do what he tells you.”
My life, my way, my truth, and my life are informed by The Christ Principle.

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LECTIO DIVINA FRAGMENTS

The Feeding of the Four Thousand.*

1In those days when there again was a great crowd without anything to eat,a he summoned the disciples and said,

2“My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat.

3If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will collapse on the way, and some of them have come a great distance.”

4His disciples answered him, “Where can anyone get enough bread to satisfy them here in this deserted place?”

5Still he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” “Seven,” they replied.

6* He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then, taking the seven loaves he gave thanks, broke them, and gave them to his disciples to distribute, and they distributed them to the crowd.

7They also had a few fish. He said the blessing over them and ordered them distributed also.

8They ate and were satisfied. They picked up the fragments left over—seven baskets.

9There were about four thousand people.

He dismissed them

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/mark/8

In my most recent Lectio Divina meditation, I thought about the fragments left over after they ate and were satisfied (verse 8); there were seven loaves with seven baskets of fragments left over. 4000 people were fed and satisfied, and there were many as leftovers as when they began the distribution of loaves. The neverending food that satisfies. Eucharist.

I have many fragments of my Lectio Divina. When I did my Lectio Divina meditation, my awareness of “baskets of fragments” was like the feeding of 4000 people (Do you know how many loaves it would take to feed four thousand?) One or two days later, there are pop-ups when I am at Trader Joe’s or Walmart that seem to be leftovers from the day before. Here are some of the pop-up fragments that I have gathered.

  • Jesus Christ could not die on the cross, and he did not. Because Christ was uniquely human but also of divine nature, his divinity could not be born or die. Sacred Scriptures tell us that Jesus gave up his spirit freely and willingly as a gift of atonement to the Father for the sins of many. Who has the power to give up his life? Jesus.
  • After multiple listening sessions on the theme for Shindler’s List, I am moved to the depths of the totality of whom I am as a human being. I also have the sense that you must be Jewish to truly appreciate the emotions that are stirred by this piece by John Williams.
  • It is strange but exhilarating that Jesus did not say YES to becoming human in the Incarnation. Mary, only possessing human nature, said YES to the invitation to become the Mother of God, reversing the NO of Adam and Eve with Christ’s sacrifice for the sins of many.
  • A Lay Cistercian seeks God each day in their own unique way. Each human is different. Each Lay Cistercian approaches The Christ Principle using the totality of who they were in the past, where they are in the present, and who they will become with the grace of God.
  • Christ is always new wine, and each of us must convert (conversio morae) our old wineskins to new ones. We do this through Faith in Christ by practicing Cistercian prayer and denying oneself to take on Christ as our new white garment. Some who only drink old wine in old skins because they don’t want to change risk total spiritual incumbency, stuck in the past instead of living in the NOW with a nudge towards the future. Penance is the mindset that allows us to get rid of the old wineskins, not to throw out Christ, but to allow new ideas and practices to address new challenges in each age.
  • The Christ Principle is a mustard seed, the one center where nothing makes sense if you take it away. If you don’t protect your center, it will wander away, seduced by the inexorable pull of original sin on our resolve to seek God each day.
  • Each day is a different opportunity to meet Christ in the events that come our way. Yesterday’s victories do not ensure today’s success. What is true is that I am different yesterday from today because Christ has grown in me, and I have tried to get rid of my false self.
  • There is only one Christ, and each of us signed with the cross on our forehead accepts Jesus as our Lord and Savior, different from each other. This is so because we lift up the totality of our lives (the good, the bad, and the ugly) as a gift of praise and thanksgiving to the Father, through, with, and in Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • Once I receive Baptism, I am a pilgrim in a foreign land (the world) and use the way, the truth, and the life to walk through the minefields set by Satan to seduce me.
  • I can’t buy my way to Heaven by good works, but ironically, it takes work to be good. I need to resupply my dwindling energies with the living bread coming down from Heaven.
  • Pray as you can.
  • Don’t compare yourself or your faith to any other human being. Christ alone is my center. As there is only one Christ, there is only one me. Contemplation means going into that inner room (Matthew 6:5), locking the door, and sitting down with Christ for whatever He wants to talk about.
  • Eucharist is unbelievable, yet the key to making all things new.

I take these out of Christ’s basket occasionally and munch on them.

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VISUAL LECTIO DIVINA: PART II

Use these visuals to focus on Christ. With all the blather around issues in the Church, one good way to lose your Faith is to lose your focus on Christ. St. Benedict says, “…prefer nothing to the love of Christ.” (Chapter 4, Rule)

Sitting on a park bench waiting for Jesus to come.

WHAT DO YOU SEE?

Life is practicing on how to be an adopted son or daughter of the Father,

WHAT DO YOU SEE?

Are you blocking Jesus from getting in or blocking you from getting out to see Him?

WHAT DO YOU SEE

MY LIFE: What is visible is above the surface; what is invisible I can’t see, but I know it is there.

WHAT DO YOU SEE?

If God’s game is chess, would you know how to play His game? There are rules of the game. Do you know what they are?

That in all things, God be glorified. — St. Benedict

VISUAL LECTIO DIVINA: Part 1

I share with you some of the photos I use in my Lectio Divina and other PowerPoint learning events. They make good screensavers.

St. Charles de Foucauld and friend.

WHAT DO YOU SEE?

Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee. –St. Augustine

WHAT DO YOU SEE?

Above are the new skins for the new wine (Christ yesterday, today, and tomorrow). This is the old skins.

Each day I begin a new life and start over to seek God. What is different is that I am just a little bigger (capacitas dei) than I was before.

WHAT DO YOU SEE?

Sitting on a park bench in the dead of winter waiting for Christ to come and sit next to me. I realize that Christ has always been seated next to me but I just showed up.

WHAT DO YOU SEE?

Each of us has a center. This is Mary’s center. It also happens to be mine.

WHAT DO YOU SEE?

This photo is me.

WHAT DO YOU SEE?