THOUGHTS TO PONDER

Here are some thoughts which I find compelling and merit deeper reflection.

  • A religion that is not made up of sinful people (all of them) is not worth the cost of Christ’s death and resurrection.
  • I find it difficult to explain how a Church composed of sinful people can have Christ without sin as the head. The sign of contradiction is the cross, not the easy path that caters to our whims and what makes us happy.
  • I can choose what is easy in life or what is right, and what is right always comes at a high price.
  • All humans are redeemed by the blood of Christ on the cross. All humans have a choice to have in them the mind of Christ Jesus or not. (Philippians 2:5)
  • Scientific methodology is not a competition or opposition to the love God has for each human. Rather, it seeks to perfectly describe the physical universe using the mental universe and our human capabilities. The spiritual universe uses the opposite measurements to approach the mystery of the next level of human evolution, spiritual apes, or being heirs of the kingdom of heaven.
  • Life can only come from a higher form of life.
  • People who confuse the right to life with the right to have the freedom to choose what is right are self-delusional.
  • All people are saved by the blood of Christ, who died as a ransom for many. Not all people will make it to heaven, but only because they refuse to believe. All Catholics do not believe in the real presence. Those who do will be saved. Others will go to Purgatory to get a second chance to repent for their lack of belief.
  • When Christ forgives sin through the priest, sins are forgiven, but the consequences of sin still haunt the depths of our being. The penitent man or woman reflects on their sinfulness as long as they live and asks for God’s mercy.
  • No book can lead you closer to Christ, and the Scripture brings Christ closer to you, not the other way around.

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SPIRITUAL TRAINING AT THE PARACLETE GYM

In one of my Lectio Divina sessions, the Holy Spirit presented me with an image of contemplative practice and my Lay Cistercian daily practices in the form of weight and strength training, much like what professional athletes do.

Here are some of the random thoughts that percolated through my mind.

The Holy Spirit is the strength trainer who has a gym for those who wish to go the extra mile with their spiritual commitment to “…love others as Christ loved us.”

Being a Lay Cistercian means I can join this gym and use the exercises to help my spiritual strength and awareness grow (capacitas dei).

I have a pay a fee to join (my free will chooses to have in me the mind of Christ Jesus), and I have to do what it takes to keep myself in shape for the matches to come. (Philippians 2:5)

It takes work to exercise my spirit (Holy Spirit is Spirit with upper case).

I need a workout regime, not just a one-time workout.

I need a spiritual coach to keep me honest and on task. (Holy Spirit gives me all the time I allow.)

Workouts are never easy, and there is the daily temptation that this is all a waste of time.

I need a special diet to keep my body trim and body fat down. (Eucharist)

I need to go to a physician when my body breaks down. (Penance and Sacrament of Reconciliation)

I must exercise every day, or my spiritual muscles will atrophy.

It takes time to prepare to exercise before and after each iteration of training.

I need to trust someone that they know what they are doing in planning my strength training. (Holy Spirit)

Yesterday’s victories and defeats are no indication of today’s successes or failures.

Cistercian practices include Lectio Divina, Liturgy of the Hours, Meditation, Rosary, Private Prayer, Reading Scripture, Reading Cistercian authors, discussing the Rule of St. Benedict.

Chapter 4 of the Rule of St. Benedict are the tools of Good Works.

The result of working out at the Paraclete Gym is to move from my false self to my new self each day.

AUTHORS OF GREAT WISDOM

One of the great delights of my later years has to do with writing down what the Holy Spirit tells me. Again, I don’t speak for the Holy Spirit, but hopefully, the Holy Spirit speaks to me if I am humble enough. So far, so good.

One of the blessings of just being open to the possibility of the manifestibility of the Holy Spirit is the absolute uncertainty of what will enter my mind and my heart. EACH DAY, all I have to do is seek God and listen “with the ear of the heart,” as St. Benedict tells his monks in the Rule.

I have found the URL from AZ quotes very helpful in thinking about life. Various authors have given us snippets of wisdom to think about. Here are some quotes that I have found helpful in my meditations.

Whenever the hatred and confusion of political parties and the steady corruption of the human spirit with the vanities of the world, I just take a tumble through the wisdom of these men and women and become re-energized. Do not overcome evil with evil, but overcome evil with good. These days of the constant bombardment of the forces of those who would have us do what is easy rather than right, we must keep our eyes on the Christ Principle, our North in the Compass of Humanity, that from which and to which all reality flows.

https://www.azquotes.com/author/42759-Richard_of_Saint_Victor

https://www.azquotes.com/author/13447-Fulton_J_Sheen

https://www.azquotes.com/author/38796-Robert_Barron

https://www.azquotes.com/author/18704-Scott_Hahn

https://www.azquotes.com/author/5121-Viktor_E_Frankl

https://www.azquotes.com/author/5198-Erich_Fromm

https://www.azquotes.com/author/2101-Martin_Buber

https://www.azquotes.com/author/10905-Henri_Nouwen

https://www.azquotes.com/author/10004-Thomas_Merton

https://www.azquotes.com/author/3762-Dorothy_Day

https://www.azquotes.com/author/18501-Joan_D_Chittister

https://www.azquotes.com/author/15719-Rowan_Williams

https://www.azquotes.com/author/1124-Venerable_Bede

https://www.azquotes.com/author/1018-Saint_Basil

https://www.azquotes.com/author/5776-Billy_Graham

https://www.azquotes.com/author/9142-Martin_Luther

https://www.azquotes.com/author/2355-John_Calvin

https://www.azquotes.com/author/5099-Pope_Francis

https://www.azquotes.com/author/27992-Ecumenical_Patriarch_Bartholomew_I_of_Constantinople

https://www.azquotes.com/author/65322-Bartholomaus

https://www.azquotes.com/author/38117-Paul_the_Apostle

https://www.azquotes.com/author/39163-Saint_Peter

https://www.azquotes.com/author/41776-Saint_Dominic

https://www.azquotes.com/author/17881-St_Catherine_of_Siena

https://www.azquotes.com/author/28284-Bridget_of_Sweden

https://www.azquotes.com/author/30125-Gertrude_the_Great

https://www.azquotes.com/author/19601-Bernard_of_Clairvaux

https://www.azquotes.com/author/22806-Benedict_of_Nursia

https://www.azquotes.com/author/1201-Pope_Benedict_XVI

https://www.azquotes.com/author/6401-Stephen_Hawking

https://www.azquotes.com/author/12883-Carl_Sagan

https://www.azquotes.com/quotes/topics/dumbledore-inspirational.html

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ST. THOMAS AQUINAS

I am redoing my Lectio Divina on St. Thomas Aquinas based on the input generated during one of my naps (I take two naps a day, one in the morning and one in the middle afternoon).

I read Mortimer Adler’s book, How to Read a Book, while in College (c. 1958-62). What is remarkable is not that I read the book, but that I can remember it. In that book, Dr. Adler puts forward some ways to read a book, such as hopping from front to back, reading one page at a sitting, then coming back and rereading it. His thoughts generated some ways to read spiritual reading, as distinguished from Lectio (one phrase at a time in meditation, prayer, maybe leading to contemplation. Here are some steps I now use when I do a spiritual reading of any kind. 

  1.  AWARENESS Remember that spiritual reading is how God communicates with you through the Holy Spirit. If what you read is a novel, you read it through entirely, sometimes at one sitting. In spiritual reading, the words are conduits for The Word to enlighten you, not at your pace, but in the silence and solitude of your heart. God has pure knowledge, pure love, and pure service (energy). Spiritual reading does something to the reader when this energy overshadows you.
  2. SLOW DOWN Slow down and let the Holy Spirit overshadow you. I love this concept of what happens when I place myself in the presence of God (such as doing the spiritual reading). I am “sub umbra alarum suaum,” under the shade of your wings. 
  3. ASK FOR WISDOM AND KNOWLEDGE  When you read what is holy, you are not reading the phone book. Pray that you become what you read.
  4. In the example below, read each quote from St. Thomas Aquinas (slowly) three times. 
    1.  Read the words.
    2. Read for the Word of God.
    3.  Try to feel what the author feels while communicating with you.

This is similar to someone who learns to play the piano. You need lessons (at least I did). You learn the notes and the language of the piano. You practice for proficiency. You practice more, but this time for interpretation. You practice even more that you enter into the mind and heart of the author to express what they thought about the composition. So it is with spiritual reading. You read the author, in this case, quotes from St. Thomas Aquinas, but what inspires that author is God’s overshadowing. That is what you seek in spiritual reading.

Now try it for yourself.

https://www.azquotes.com/author/490-Thomas_Aquinas

DON’T GET CAUGHT PLAYING THE THREE GOD GAMES

Humans are good at playing games, be it Monopoly, Chess, Basketball pickup, or mind games. There are three mind games that I have identified that are as potentially dangerous to your spiritual well-being as is COVID. It is best not to go there if you want to keep from the clutches of the Evil One. These three will suck you under the rubric of thinking that you are doing God’s will.

MY GOD CAN BEAT YOUR GOD. Here is a seductive approach to spirituality that many of us fall into without thinking about it. If you use your notion of God to beat up other people who do not share your assumptions about who God is, you play the God game. Not that God is not Who He Is. He is. The sin here is Pride, thinking you speak for the Holy Spirit for the Church Universal from Apostolic times. Remember. Anyone can justify anything by thinking that you alone have the truth, and if people don’t believe it, you can kill them. Look at the Inquisition, ISIS, Islamic Fundamentalism, some Christian evangelicals, some Catholics who know the mind of God, and condemn all others who disagree. You will know the tree by the fruit it produces. Rotten fruit is selfish, prideful, envious, speaking garbage, and hated from their mouths.

MY CHURCH CAN BEAT YOUR CHURCH. When the purpose of using Scripture is to prove that your Church is correct and others are false, you are in danger of losing why there is a Scripture at all. (John 20:30-31) This is not evangelization but rather a proselytization. The Christ Principle is the way, the truth, and the life. You have seventy or eighty years to discover why you are here, then do what He tells you (as Mary told the wine stewards at the Wedding Feast of Cana.) Don’t judge others as to their being in the true church or not. Let God judge those outside the Church, and you don’t judge those inside it. You are not Judge, nor Juror, nor Prosecutor, nor Defense Attorney. Hold steadfastly to the truth you received from Christ and handed down by the Church Ecumenical Councils.

YOU ARE NOT ME. I like the saying, “I am not you, you are not me. God is not you, and you, most certainly are not God.” When each of us approaches the Christ Principle, we can only do so by “having in you the mind of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5-12). There is only One Christ. You are not God. You have authority over what you believe from the Holy Spirit. In the Rule of St. Benedict, in Chapter 7, the first step in the Twelve Steps of Humility is fear of the Lord. To speak as though you were the way, the truth, and the life for others is a subtle form of idolatry. Who made you God?

These three temptations are just a few challenges we have to move from our false self to our true self. Awareness of who God is is key to keeping your spiritual equilibrium.

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mis oraciones son tus oraciones

I think I have heard this request a thousand times: “Pray for me.” I ask people to pray for me frequently. What is the meaning behind these words? What are the assumptions that are hidden from others yet are the so-called elephant in the room?

In my view of reality, I always begin by quoting the following Scripture in Ephesians 4.

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,a2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love,b3striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace:c4* one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call;d5one Lord, one faith, one baptism;e6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.f

These are the seven unities that form the basis of how I link all reality together. The seven unities also describe The Christ Principle, one Word (John 1:1) that links all reality. As St. Paul writes: “..who is over all and through all and in all.” This linking is important for me when I ask someone to pray for me. When we pray, there is only one Jesus, and all of us must go through, with, and in Him, as we offer honor and glory to the Father. Jesus is the end-user of my prayer because only Jesus can approach the Father on my behalf.

When someone asks me to pray for them and their intentions, I add them to my list of those written in my book of life (each person has such a book), and when I raise my mind and heart to God, they are raised up also as part of my process. Prayer simply means I communicate with God (through Christ) by the energy of the Holy Spirit. I do this in Lectio Divina, Liturgy of the Hours, but especially in the holy sacrifice of the Eucharist, where I take Jesus inside me and receive God’s energy to help me transform myself from sinful self to grace-filled self.

When I say “my prayers are your prayers” to the request of someone who asks me to remember them or a loved one in prayer, I don’t just “say a prayer” for them. I add them to the whole day, each day from this time forward, in every expression of love and peace for others.

Here, the meaning of one Lord, one Father, one Baptism comes into play. It is only because Christ loved me first that I can even say Jesus is Lord through the power of the Holy Spirit. I make a choice to put Christ first, then wait for whatever comes in each day to compel me forward. When I join others in my prayer, it becomes “we” and not just “me.” I use the golden thread I received from Christ at Baptism to link them and their intentions to my own and these I offer to the Father in glory and honor.

Church becomes the community in my lifespan of seventy or eighty years where I link as many people to the heart of Christ as I can remember to do. I link my life and all its successes and failures to that of those for whom I pray. Lay Cistercians of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery (Trappist) let us know if they need our prayers through the Internet Email. This is not something I treat as though it was an advertisement from Amazon. I consciously make a choice to be one with the person for whom I pray, and WE present ourselves to the Father through, with, and in Christ, in all that we do each day for the rest of my life.

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DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT

I find that my Lectio Divina meditations tend to group themselves in clusters of topics. My center is always the same: “have in you the mind of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5) This current cluster is about what is important in my spiritual travels each day and what is not. Here are some examples.

I DON’T WORRY ABOUT MY FUTURE ON THIS EARTH. That doesn’t mean I don’t plan to make whatever time I have left as convenient for my survivors as possible. Do your best and forget the rest, my Dad always said to me.

I DON’T WORRY ABOUT DOING LECTIO DIVINA AT A CERTAIN HOUR. I have written about making a schedule to reduce my retirement to watching the plastic flowers grow on my shelf. That was about ten years ago. Now, I don’t worry about schedules. The transformation just happened due to constantly and consistently doing Lectio Divina each day at 10:00 a.m. Now, I do Lectio several times a day, and it may be while I am sitting in the bathtub, waiting for my wife to shop at Costco or Trader Joe’s, and even while watching my favorite movies about Jesse Stone starring Tom Sellick. I have moved from following a schedule as part of a habit of behavior to assuming the whole day as my timeframe and seeking ways to match whatever comes my way to the Christ Principle. Some days are better than others.

Monks follow a schedule for their day of prayer and work that in all things God be glorified. As a Lay Cistercian, my schedule is whatever faces me during the day and how I use the Christ Principle to link whatever it is to Christ. How I don’t worry about. I just do it and wait for the Holy Spirit to overshadow me as I am open to the energy of God (capacitas dei) within me.

I DON’T WORRY ABOUT WHO GOES TO HEAVEN. I do worry that I continue to fulfill my promises to the Abbot of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery (Trappist), the ones I made to Christ in the presence of those gathered in his name (monks, Lay Cistercians, friends). Promises are only as good as my ability to sustain my resolve to put them at my center. Christ Principle is my center. I interpret everything else in terms of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, alive now just as He was at the Last Supper.

As the Gospel from last Sunday’s Gospel (21 Sunday in Ordinary Time) suggests that not everyone will accept the, everyone is entitled to the banquet. Still, not all will accept the conditions of the host of the banquet– you must have a wedding garment. Read the passage in silence.

Gospel Jn 6:60-69

Many of Jesus’ disciples who were listening said,
“This saying is hard; who can accept it?”
Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this,
he said to them, “Does this shock you?
What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending
to where he was before? 
It is the spirit that gives life,
while the flesh is of no avail.
The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life.
But there are some of you who do not believe.”
Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe
and the one who would betray him. 
And he said,
“For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me
unless it is granted him by my Father.”

As a result of this,
many of his disciples returned to their former way of life
and no longer accompanied him.
Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” 
Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? 
You have the words of eternal life. 
We have come to believe
and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

This vignette into the teachings of Jesus confirms what I have long felt was true, namely, that Jesus’ words were not accepted by many because they demanded too much, at least from the viewpoint of those receiving those words. The Scriptures point out that “many of his disciples returned to their former life and no longer accompanied him.” I think the same is true today. It is only with the grace of God (Faith) can we can call God Father. This is not limited to those who belong to the Roman Rite of the Catholic Universal Church. All humans have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, but not all will accept this challenge and will turn away because it is too hard.

If you take the time to read Gaudium and Spes, the Constitution of the Church in the Modern World, this provides a wonderful context into which the question of who goes to heaven is approached.

Click to access Gaudium-et-Spes-NFP-Notes-on-Marriage.pdf

In a recent Lectio Divina meditation at 4:00 a.m., the Holy Spirit presented me with a story or parable about who goes to Heaven. Some believe only Roman Catholics go to Heaven, and the idea that there is no salvation outside the Church. Before I share that story, here are some of my assumptions about Extra Ecclesia, nulla salus (outside the Church, there is no salvation.)

ASSUMPTIONS

The Christ Principle saves all humanity (all humans regardless of sex, race, belief, religion, non-belief, un-belief) from just being human. The next step in our evolution as humans is to be adopted sons and daughters of the Father and fulfill our humanity in Heaven.

Individually, each person exists on earth to discover and answer the six questions that propel us to our intended destiny. These 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 to love fiercely? You know you are going to die, now what? Depending on what we select as answers, we can solve The Divine Equation and claim our inheritance.

These questions are beyond human capability to be answered based on just the physical and mental universes of reason and free choice. God provides us with both the questions and the answers that will propel us to fulfill our humanity. The Christ Principle is the way, the truth, and the life we must lead to move to the spiritual universe, in addition to the physical and mental universes.

There is a problem. The spiritual universe is the opposite of the physical and mental universes, which is called the World. The spiritual universe is the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, now and throughout each age.

In the reading above, people left Jesus because his sayings were hard; they could not accept Christ’s proposal. That saying was so hard and incredibly against reason and what the mind says is true, how we should proceed, and the life we lead. Read this passage in John 6 that is as true this very day as it was when Christ uttered it.

51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever, and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”a52The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us [his] flesh to eat?”53Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.54 Whoever eats* my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.b58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”59These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/john/6

Christianity is the easiest to believe if you don’t have to do what you say you believe. Of the people who say they believe in Christ, it runs the gamut of Jesus is a philosopher or prophet to Jesus is present (transubstantiation) in the Eucharist (no longer bread and wine but the living Jesus.) This is the shibboleth of the Catholic Universal Church. Many people leave Christ because it is so incredible to believe and a hard saying, so they walk away.

What happens to people when they have part of the Faith but not the whole, let’s say 30%? People believe that Jesus is Lord but don’t have the fullness of Christ’s coming to give us gifts to help us get to Heaven.

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU CHOOSE. IT HAS CONSEQUENCES

Once, a very wealthy man threw his retirement part for his company. He would retire and leave all of his stock to people who had worked for him all these years. He decided to surprise them by throwing a banquet of the ten best foods he had ever tasted to share them with them, then surprise them with the announcement of the stock.

Everyone received an invitation to the banquet. No exceptions. All they had to do is bring their invitations to the banquet hall, enter, eat their fill of whatever they wanted, then receive the reward from the owner.

Some employees received the invitation but did not like the owner and decided not to attend because he made them angry with all his wealth they thought he should have shared with them. Others did not take time to open the invitation, just looking at who sent it and thinking it was a plea for money. Still, others were too busy to attend to anything their employer threw and made excuses that they would be out of town. About two in ten people accepted the invitation to attend and showed up at the appointed time.

The owner had planned to share with them the ten most succulent dishes he had ever eaten. It was a sit-down banquet complete with the best of wines, served by waiters on the finest dishes. To make it easy on people, the owner told them as they entered the hall that they did not have to eat all the dishes but only those that they would choose. No questions asked.

As the waiters brought out each course, the guests would either each course or refuse it. As it turned out, only less than one hundred forty-four persons tasted all 10 dishes and shared their employers’ gifts. Others ate from one dish to nine dishes but were amazed at how good the taste was. Some said they did not like a dish because of its appearance; others wanted to avoid calories and did not eat it; some were vegans and held their noses when the meat dishes were brought out.

When the banquet had concluded, the owner got up to make a speech. He thanked the employees for their contributions to the company and said that he had an announcement. He said he was retiring and was giving the company to those who had shared the banquet with him, each according to the number of dishes they had eaten. And, he added, this will be what you eat after your die…forever.

Many are called, but few are chosen. Those chosen have to choose to eat what comes from the Master’s table, not what they would like to eat.

QUESTIONS

What is the meaning of the parable of the retiring executive?

Who are those who chose not to attend? What was their reward?

Why were all not given an equal share in the shares of the company? Does that have any application to today?

IT DOESN’T MATTER!

In my search for God each day, I do a lot of “What Iffing.” I should refine that statement to say, “In my search for God each day, when I use only the world as my center (money, fame, fortune, adulation, pleasure, being god, thinking that I am the center of the universe), I can’t lift myself up to the next level of our evolution, that of the spiritual universe, by my own power. I don’t have that kind of energy.

In Baptism, God chooses me and lifts me up from my rationality to that of an adopted son (daughter) of the Father. God has the power (Faith) and I concur (Belief) each day. In particular, I use the Cistercian practices and charisms as part of my way to see Jesus every day in many ways that hitherto were there, but I just was not aware of them.

Christ came to give us a way to give praise and glory to the Father through Him. By ourselves, no one approaches the Father, at least no human can give adequate glory because we just don’t have the capacity nor the capability to give God divine glory. Only Christ can do that because he is the Messiah, having both divine and human natures.

Having human reasoning and the ability to choose what I reason is good for me, I am defined by the choices (or lack of them) as I race through the inexorable journey of humanity from Alpha to Omega, from that which has a beginning to that which has an end, to Heaven.

My “What iffing” comes into play when I ask questions along the pathways of my life about what is central to all that is. When I have in me the mind of Christ Jesus as My Christ Principle (Philippians 2:5), I don’t have to worry about anything. This is seeking first the kingdom of heaven right now, and then all things follow in the appropriate order. Here are three examples:

What if…a meteorite was to fall on earth and take out nearly all life forms? It doesn’t matter.

What if…your friends call you names for being a follower of Jesus in the Catholic Church? It doesn’t matter.

What if…someone tells you to join the Taliban or they will cut off your head? It doesn’t matter (this one is the ultimate sacrifice).

The only thing that matters is the Christ Principle. All is contained in that one center.

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ASKING THE WRONG QUESTION

Here are some fractured thoughts that I had while trying to reposition my thoughts to that of having in me the mind of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5).

Too many times, I find I ask questions that are either the opposite of what exists or that require wrong answers. Wrong questions only generate wrong answers. What follows are wrong questions.

This is one of my favorite clips for sayings. Wrong questions give wrong answers.

EXAMPLES

When someone says to me, “I don’t believe in God,” I sometimes respond by saying, “That is the wrong question to ask. What you should be asking is why a God with pure energy, pure knowledge, pure love, and pure service, would believe in you, being a puny and insignificant lifeform?”

Why does a good god allow Bambi in the forest to die at the hands of greedy hunters?

If god is so good why does He allow people to have cancer and suffer terribly?

Why does god allow people to rape, pillage, plunder, cut off heads, be priest pedophiles, and defraud the poor like some televangelists who preach a god that just lines their pockets?

A good god wouldn’t permit evil, or He wouldn’t be good, not so?

Why is the god of Scripture one who punishes those who don’t believe in him. Isn’t freedom supposed to be without constraints?

If god is so powerful, why can’t he stop those who hate him from doing so?

Why doesn’t god stop hurricanes or buildings from collapsing, or flash flooding, or other natural catastrophes?

What are some wrong questions in your life? Christ is the right answer but also the right question. I am the way, the truth, and the life. Either that is true or it is not. If it is true, do you act on it? If it is not, who cares?

PILGRIMAGE TO THE HEART OF CHRIST

We all have taken a trip somewhere, even if it is just to go to Trader Joe’s and buy some delicious root beer drink. Not all trips or vacations are pilgrimages. Muslims celebrate their faith in pilgrimage by visiting Mecca. Catholics pilgrimage to the Vatican to restore their faith or to some other shrine, such as Lourdes. http://www.etstours.com/tours/category/5af07f024c5b614854ef099a/

What is the difference between a pilgrimage and a vacation? Both give rest to the mind and heart. Only a pilgrimage stresses the words of Christ:

The Praise of the Father.25n At that time Jesus said in reply,* “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.26Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.27All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.o

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/matthew/11#:~:text=28*%20%E2%80%9CCome%20to%20me%2C,will%20find%20rest%20for%20yourselves.

The Gentle Mastery of Christ. 28* “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,* and I will give you rest.29*p Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.30For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/matthew/11#:~:text=28*%20%E2%80%9CCome%20to%20me%2C,will%20find%20rest%20for%20yourselves.

A pilgrimage is a journey, one of mind and heart, one that may or may not have several stops along the way to think about how Jesus loves us so much that he gave his life for the ransom of many. These sites are holy ones, not like going to Las Vegas to see Cirque du Soleil.

Over a period of four or five blogs (at eight one years of age, I lose my precision but not my reason–so far), I will share with you three or four stops that my group made. Pilgrimages are most effective when you have others to join you so you might allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you through them. I had one partner, Peter Cowdrey, Good Shepherd Parish, Tallahassee, Florida, share these ideas.

ST. MEINRAD ARCHABBEY: Jennifer’s story

You don’t know Jennifer. I didn’t have the pleasure of her company until August 6, 2021, when we stopped by St. Meinrad Archabbey to visit my classmate, Father John McMullen, O.S.B., also 81 years of age. Father John and I grew up in Vincennes, Indiana, together and entered St. Meinrad High School. This was a key stopover in my pilgrimage, perhaps the last time we will see each other this side of the parousia. Who knows.

After breakfast, Peter and I were waiting to attend the Eucharist at Abbey Church at 11:00 a.m. and had some time to kill (a better word might seek God) and went to the Book Store. Because of COVID, there were not yet many visitors to the Archabbey, so we had the place all to ourselves. Jennifer was an employee of the Book Store. Peter and I had a wonderful chat with her, and she shared a story that I will pass on to you. My point is: The Holy Spirit speaks to each of us sinners every day. On the pilgrimage, we were attuned to listening to the Holy Spirit with the “ear of the heart,” as St. Benedict says in the Prologue to his Rule. This is the story Jennifer shared with us over her iPhone.

the best contemplative streaming and youtube sites for 2021

I recently read a list of “Best Of” restaurants. That list prompted me to think back to the URLs that are sites I can’t live without (actually, the only thing I can’t live without is Jesus). I offer them with comments and in no particular order of importance. These are a few Internet sites I want to take to heaven with me as I pack for the journey to forever.

BEST LIVE STREAMING DAILY EUCHARIST PLUS MORNING PRAYER AND EVENING PRAYER OF LITURGY OF THE HOURS https://www.saintmeinrad.org/connect/live-video/

BEST CISTERCIAN HOMILIES: Cistercian homilies from Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery (Trappist) https://www.trappist.net/homilies

BEST LIVE STREAMING LOCAL PARISH HOMILIES: https://www.goodshepherdparish.org/homilies

BEST YOUTUBE ON THE EUCHARIST AND REAL PRESENCE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzCPu_lEhe8

BEST YOUTUBE ON THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cx43CrSMni0

BEST YOUTUBE ON SIN AND SUFFERING: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9WNWplC_zI

BEST YOUTUBE ON THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wG4VF0jU568

BEST YOUTUBE ON CHANGE FROM SELF TO GOD

WHAT IS HELL LIKE, RIGHT NOW?

Hell is not the opposite of Heaven, but rather the absence of it. If that is so, and the kingdom of heaven is right now for us to absorb into our human nature, then would it not be true that hell is also right now? Right or wrong, that is the topic of my Lectio Divina presented to me by the Holy Spirit. So, what does all this mean as I make my way down the rocky road of existence until I die? Is Hell just a place where those who die in alienation from God live forever, a place of eternal fire? Probably. I had this next thought as I contemplated that Heaven is right now, and we accumulate all those good actions and thoughts and take them to Heaven with us.

St. Benedict says in Chapter 4 of the Rule to:

41 Place your hope in God alone.
42 If you notice something good in yourself, give credit to God, not to yourself,
43 but be certain that the evil you commit is always your own and yours to acknowledge.

44 Live in fear of judgment day
45 and have a great horror of hell.”

Contrast Chapter 4 and what is Heaven on Earth with what is below.

SOME EXAMPLES OF HELL ON EARTH

Living with someone who hates your God, your Church, your practice of Lay Cistercian precepts yet not responding in anger to their anger towards you.

Chapter 4: 29 Do not repay one bad turn with another (1 Thess 5:15; 1 Pet 3:9).
30 Do not injure anyone, but bear injuries patiently.
31 Love your enemies (Matt 5:44; Luke 6:27).
32 If people curse you, do not curse them back but bless them instead.
33 Endure persecution for the sake of justice (Matt 5:10).

https://christdesert.org/rule-of-st-benedict/chapter-4-the-tools-for-good-works/

Seeing clergy and professed Catholics who say one thing but do another. This would lead those weak in their Faith to disown Christ or make up a Christ based on their own imperfect image and likeness.

Chapter 4:

59 Do not gratify the promptings of the flesh (Gal 5:16);
60 hate the urgings of self-will.
61 Obey the orders of the abbot unreservedly, even if his own conduct–which God forbid–be at odds with what he says. Remember the teaching of the Lord: Do what they say, not what they do (Matt 23:3).

https://christdesert.org/rule-of-st-benedict/chapter-4-the-tools-for-good-works/

Hatred for others who do not practice religion as you think it should be done. Coveting evil in your mind and so in your heart for others while professing to love others as Jesus loved us. Hell is in your heart, and your bad works betray what your center is. Having a choice between what is easy and right (Abortion, Marriage, Social Justice not based on race). Laughing at chastity if you are a clergy or consecrated religious, and placing sex at your center instead of love that Christ told us to have for one another.

Chapter 4:

62 Do not aspire to be called holy before you really are, but first be holy that you may more truly be called so.
63 Live by God’s commandments every day;
64 treasure chastity,
65 harbor neither hatred
66 nor jealousy of anyone,
67 and do nothing out of envy.
68 Do not love quarreling;
69 shun arrogance.
70 Respect the elders
71 and love the young.
72 Pray for your enemies out of love for Christ.
73 If you have a dispute with someone, make peace with him before the sun goes down.

74 And finally, never lose hope in God’s mercy.

https://christdesert.org/rule-of-st-benedict/chapter-4-the-tools-for-good-works/

Living as though you are god and the center of all reality. Morality is what you think it is. There is no denying yourself to follow Christ. God is dead (and so are you to the Way, the Truth, and Life).

Chapter 4:

10 Renounce yourself in order to follow Christ (Matt 16:24; Luke 9:23);
11 discipline your body (1 Cor 9:27);
12 do not pamper yourself,
13 but love fasting.
14 You must relieve the lot of the poor,
15 clothe the naked,
16 visit the sick (Matt 25:36),
17 and bury the dead.
18 Go to help the troubled
19 and console the sorrowing.

20 Your way of acting should be different from the world’s way;
21 the love of Christ must come before all else.

The struggle to have in you the mind of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5) is the kingdom of heaven at this very moment, moment to moment, if you will. Failure to see Jesus through faith, hope and love, is the beginning of hell on earth. Hell on earth may not be full of fire and brimstone or the absence of God. The effects of Hell will be our judgment before the Throne of the Lamb. We will measure ourselves against pure energy (none of us, even if we are saved and sanctified), can stand in the presence of the Light without Christ to help us.

Later on, Satan will claim those who have declared themselves to hate God. He will take them to Hell and thus begins the torment of having the chance to have it all, be happy with God in heaven, as our final step of evolution in human nature. The Devil will stand one inch away from our face (like a Drill Seargent) and laugh at us for making the wrong choice…forever. When you do evil in your laugh, you will have heard the Devil’s laugh.

Hell is real. It happens right now for those who do not recognize the Christ Principle as transforming them from their false self to their true self. May God have mercy on all of us, those marked with the sign of the cross and those who still have a chance to proclaim Jesus as Lord and Savior.

the assumption of mary

Normally, I would give you some thoughts about a subject from my Lectio Divina. No one has ever accused me of being normal, so I will just share with you the magnificent homily from Bishop Barron on Mary. How biblical. These insights have caused my faith to increase by having more of Christ in me and less of my sinful self. I share it with you without comment.

WHEN LOVE HURTS

As I wabble down the ever shorter path to my next portal in life, passing from life to death, I become more aware of how the Scriptures are pertinent to who I am now and how the words of Scripture feel as well say or read them. It is particularly true when I read the Psalms during the Liturgy of the Hours. These words inform my need for intellectual stimulation and the desire in my heart to be one with Christ. Saint Augustine said it so well: “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.”  More and more, as I sit on a park bench in the dead of winter and wait for Christ to sit next to me, the thought of my heart resting next to the heart of Christ is the joy that I have never experienced before. This heart-to-heart can happen anytime, such as when I go to Walmart to pick up my heart medication or sitting alone in the silence and solitude of Good Shepherd Chapel in Eucharistic Adoration. The effect is the same–I begin to experience what it means to share my Lord’s joy.

As I continue to make sense of what life throws at me each day, one thing is constant, in a world beset by hatreds, jealousies, envies, factions, false gods, and those seeking their own pleasure at all costs. I have discovered the Christ Principle, the very energy of God, although I neither know what that is nor am I capable of any rational definition. I can only attempt to describe what I feel when I am allowed to sit next to Christ on that park bench and just be what my nature intended. I realize ever more clearly that God doesn’t fit into my agenda nor preconceived notions of what I need, but rather, as an adopted Son (Daughter) of the Father, I can only sit in the presence of Christ and hope that the Holy Spirit answers my prayers to have mercy on me, a sinner. I sit on that park bench every time I have in me the mind of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5) when I realize that I must make an effort on my part to be present to Christ because He is always present to me. Eucharist becomes an occasion of joy for me as I feel the presence of Christ (based on the capacitas dei or extent to which Christ grows in me and my false self shrinks). All occasions to practice the Cistercian practices that lead to the charisms of humility, true obedience to the will of God, openness to the Holy Spirit in all I meet, discernment of evil where it exists, and my attempts to flee from it, all these are foretastes of heaven. Heaven begins each day as I seek God in whatever way He presents Himself. I can’t hide from the Hound of Heaven. Read the poem by Francis Thompson. It is a masterpiece. anymore.https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/english/currentstudents/undergraduate/modules/fulllist/second/en227/texts/thompson-hound.pdf

If joy, in the human sense, is good, then how do we deal with suffering, discomfort, death, cancer, heart problems, alcoholism, drug addiction, mental illness, intermittent explosive disorder (https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17786-intermittent-explosive-disorder#:~:text=Intermittent%20explosive%20disorder%20is%20a,of%20proportion%20to%20the%20situation), or when love hurts to give it to others? Fortunately, we have the Saints to help us with examples of how to cope. We have the very life of Christ itself that gives us the energy to overcome the “thorn of the flesh,” as Saint Paul describes it in II Corinthians. Read this challenging passage and try to FEEL what St. Paul is telling you through the Holy Spirit. Commentaries I read suggest that “thorn in the flesh” most likely describes pain that comes from dealing with difficult people, as in “pain in the butt.”

1I* must boast; not that it is profitable, but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord.
2 I know someone in Christ who, fourteen years ago (whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows), was caught up to the third heaven.
3 And I know that this person (whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows)
4 was caught up into Paradise and heard ineffable things, which no one may utter. a
5 About this person* I will boast, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses.
6 Although if I wished 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,* so 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.*
Suffering, pain, depression, and negative thinking are not the opposite of love. I call it dark love, for the lack of a better way to describe how love hurts sometimes. Here are some thoughts about what happens when love hurts.
Joy amid the struggle to do what is right rather than what is easy.
Caring for someone with Borderline Personality Disorder, Alcoholism, Drug Addiction, Althzeimers, Dimensia Precox, Intermittent Explosive Disorder, Anger Mood Disorder, Paranoia, or other situations that require the caregiver to love but with pain and suffering.

Christ is our role model for love that hurts. I keep going back to my favorite Scripture passage. Read Philippians 2:5 with the idea of feeling what Christ felt for us as he knew he was to suffer, die, and rise from the dead in expiation for the sins of us all. Can we do no less?

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 agreeing, 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 as 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.

When I take the Christ Principle inside me through being present through the Holy Spirit, my pain does not cease. I will still feel the hurt, the humiliation, the disrespect from others as they put down my God and my Church, questioning my motives and making scurrilous comments about my love for Christ. When I had about with Leukemia (CLL type) in 2014, I had twelve chemotherapy treatments, not knowing if they would do any good. They did; thanks be to God. 
Christ gives us not only the example but the same energy He had to overcome temptations he had to flee from the mission that the Father entrusted to Him.  To be one with Christ is to love others as He loved us. It is also the way, the truth, and the life for anyone who must love even though it hurts.
mc

DO YOU STAND BEFORE THE MIRROR OF ERISED?

When beginning to practice meditation before moving to the deeper reality of contemplation, there are some dangers along the way. My latest Lectio Divina Meditation (Philippians 2:5) led me to an unlikely YouTube scene of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The scene has to do with Harry standing before a mirror being fixated on his mother and father, just sitting there, sitting there, sitting there. Here is the YouTube in question. The mirror is called The Mirror of Erised. Look at it, as I did, as a good visual of what it means to stand before this mirror and gaze at it. When we use our reason and free choice to process what comes from the Holy Spirit, we can stand before The Mirror of Erised, if we are not careful.

Everything looks perfect in the mirror. Professor Dumbledore just happens to find Harry looking at the mirror and tells him what it is about. You think you are seeing something the way it should be or how you would like it to be. Alas, looking at this mirror has a result that it does not produce knowledge or truth.

Professor Dumbledore tells Harry that the danger of looking at this “what if” mirror might be that people waste their lives looking at the wrong image. He goes on to say that the danger is seeing things that you want them to be rather than as they are. The consequences of looking at this Mirror of Erised is that you fail to see the contemplative mindset as it is in the real world of every day, and, instead, view an idyllic picture of yourself of just what you can see in the mirror. The danger of falling into the trap of contemplative practice where you are the center is like the Mirror of Erised.

The Mirror of the Christ Principle shows you who you are in relation to who Christ is. The practices we do are good works as set forth by Saint Benedict in Chapter 4 of his Rule. https://christdesert.org/prayer/rule-of-st-benedict/chapter-4-the-tools-for-good-works/

These rules are there to help us see only Jesus in our personal Mirror of Erised and how we might become more like Christ and less like us. Contemplation is not about me at all. It is about how I can be present to Christ so that He increases in me and decreases. Prefer nothing to the love of Christ, St. Benedict challenges us to become. Don’t be fooled by the fixations the world has to offer. Taking up our cross each day means we must lift that cross (through, with, and in Christ Jesus) ourselves. The road to our destiny in Heaven is not idyllic or smooth and effortless. Just because you find your road is rocky doesn’t mean you are on the wrong road. Stay away from the Mirror of Erised in your contemplative practice.

SEEKING GOD EACH DAY: HOW FAITH IS RIPENED ON THE VINE

All living things need food and water to survive, in addition to the right environment. I have learned much from following the Rule of St. Benedict as interpreted by the councils and constitutions of the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance (OCSO) and further interpreted by Lay Cistercian spirituality. As a professed Lay Cistercian I know that I need the waters of Baptism and the food of Christ Himself in the Eucharist and Sacrament of Penance to move forward from my old (false) self to my new self. I must discipline myself to seek God not only in the times that I pray, but also all the times I look out at nature and whatever comes my way. That in all things, St. Benedict counsels, may God be glorified.

I am sitting at my desk in my office, placing myself in the presence of God on this Saturday morning, wanting to just be present to Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. Seeking God each day means I transform the NOW, which is the only time in which I have a freedom to choose to do God’s will or my own, into being resonant with who Jesus is. With this mindset, everything becomes an occasion of grace rather than an occasion of sin.

God is a NOW person. “I am the one who is” says God to Moses. Moses had to process what that means. In fact each person born of woman must process what that means. Jesus, being one of us, also had to learn how to love as a human (the divine nature is love itself). That nexus is one of the questions I plan to ask Jesus: “How does your human self feel being joined as one with your divinity as the Son of God?”

My reflections on the NOWness of God come as I look out the window of my office and notice the Japanese Orange tree in my front yard, Satsuma oranges I think they call them. By the grace from the Holy Spirit, I am aware that all things are connected with each other with the golden thread of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection. As I ponder the goodness of God in nature, I think of how the tree begins just with orange blossoms and then buds, then small oranges. The final product takes time to ripen. It reminded me of my own Faith that the words of Christ to me become flesh through Christ but also through my awareness that God is the Lord of Creation, the Lord of Salvation, and the Spirit of Truth, right before me, as I look out at this tree.

Faith ripens every so slowly and inexorably as long as I am attached to the vine of Christ. I am totally dependent on Christ for my growth from false self to true self, but if I choose not to move forward, my growth stops. By myself, I don’t have the divine energy needed for my branch of the vine to thrive. Feel the passion and energy of St. Paul as he challenges the Athenians to see Jesus.

Paul’s Speech at the Areopagus.22Then Paul stood up at the Areopagus and said:*

“You Athenians, I see that in every respect you are very religious.23For as I walked around looking carefully at your shrines, I even discovered an altar inscribed, ‘To an Unknown God.’* What therefore you unknowingly worship, I proclaim to you.24The God who made the world and all that is in it, the Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in sanctuaries made by human hands,h25nor is he served by human hands because he needs anything. Rather it is he who gives to everyone life and breath and everything.26He made from one* the whole human race to dwell on the entire surface of the earth, and he fixed the ordered seasons and the boundaries of their regions,27so that people might seek God, even perhaps grope for him and find him, though indeed he is not far from any one of us.i28For ‘In him we live and move and have our being,’* as even some of your poets have said, ‘For we too are his offspring.’29Since therefore we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the divinity is like an image fashioned from gold, silver, or stone by human art and imagination.j30God has overlooked the times of ignorance, but now he demands that all people everywhere repent31because he has established a day on which he will ‘judge the world with justice’ through a man he has appointed, and he has provided confirmation for all by raising him from the dead.”k32When they heard about resurrection of the dead, some began to scoff, but others said, “We should like to hear you on this some other time.”33And so Paul left them.34But some did join him, and became believers. Among them were Dionysius, a member of the Court of the Areopagus, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/acts/17#:~:text=27so%20that%20people%20might,’

As Baptized members of His body, the Vine, we are the branches, or orange tree fruit. Our fruit ripens as long as we remain connected to the Vine. Seeking God each day through Lectio Divina and Eucharist Adoration are just a few ways we ripen our faith and keep our fruit from rotting.

uiodg

TEN NEW IDEAS ABOUT THE MESSIAH FROM THE EDGE OF TIME

I admit to not taking the notion of Messiah more seriously than it deserves. Not brought up in the Jewish tradition, I just accept that Jesus is Lord and go on about my business. But, as of late, my Lectio Divina meditations (Philippians 2:5) have been trending towards a deeper penetration into the notion of Jesus as Messiah. It all began several years ago (who is counting, when you are over 80 years old?) and I asked the question, Why do we have Scriptures at all? It is just to prove that Christianity is correct and other religions are wrong? Is it so that I can justify my faith through reading about historical and literary sources? Scriptures were written by many different people over the centuries. Why? St. John’s Gospel 30:30-31 gives us a peek at why. It says:

Conclusion.*

“30 Now 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”
Here are some of my thoughts about Jesus as Messiah that I can remember from several of my Lectio Divina meditations.
1. Jesus, as the Christ Principle, strattles the Old Testament preparation for the Messiah with one arm outstretched in the Old Testament to the other arm extended to the New Testament. The image is Christ on the cross, where he is the Alpha and the Omega, the person who gives meaning to the longing of the Old Testament for a savior.
2. Jesus, as the Christ Principle, fulfills Israel as the Jerusalem where God can touch humans through sacrifice and adhearance to the Laws. The New Jerusalem is not just the continuation of a tradition of having God on your side, it is the transformation of the covenant to include all humanity that recognize that they must be on God’s side to inhabit the kingdom of heaven.
3. Jesus is not just some dreamy shepherd who used to be a carpenter and had illusions of being God, but rather God who dreamed through His Son that all of us would at least have a chance to fulfill the ultimate destiny of humans, to be adopted sons and daughters of the Father.
4. Jesus showed us by his words and deeds how to love others and bid us to do the same in each age.
5. No messiah that is merely human would have either the mental awareness to be a savior for the ransom of many, much less have a plan of action that clearly is from God’s heart and not from human aspirations of power, exclusivity of being God’s family, and moving to the New Jerusalem (the Kingdom of Heaven).
6. Critics of Jesus who say he was just a dreamy kid with delusions of grandure, fail to answer the questions: How did Jesus make all that stuff up that clearly was not in the Old Testament nor even during his time on earth? Being the Son of God? Where did that originate?
7. How could someone with no formal rabbinical training be seated in the temple teaching the elders about his mission? Where did that originate?
8. Jesus knew he was going to die voluntarily for the sins of many (Romans 5) and yet had to fulfill the mission from his Father. (Philippians 2:5). We have a notion of One God in the Old Testament. We have the revelation of One God having three distinct persons in the New Testament. Christ is the foundation stone of the New Jerusalem built not with brick but with the Baptized disciples who call Jesus Lord.
9. Jesus is the mediator between divine nature and human nature. We get close enough to the Father through Christ to become adopted sons and daughters. What that means and particularly how that will be is not clear. St. Paul tells us in I Corinthians 2:9 that the “eye has not seen nor had ear heard nor has it entered the mind of man what God has in store for those who love him.” Isaiah 64 fortells this in the Old Testament.

As when brushwood is set ablaze,

or fire makes the water boil!

Then your name would be made known to your enemies

and the nations would tremble before you,

2While you worked awesome deeds we could not hope for,*

3such as had not been heard of from of old.

No ear has ever heard, no eye ever seen,

any God but you

working such deeds for those who wait for him.a

4Would that you might meet us doing right,

that we might be mindful of you in our ways!

Indeed, you are angry; we have sinned,

we have acted wickedly.

5We have all become like something unclean,

all our just deeds are like polluted rags;

We have all withered like leaves,

and our crimes carry us away like the wind.b

6There are none who call upon your name,

none who rouse themselves to take hold of you;

For you have hidden your face from us

and have delivered us up to our crimes.

10. The Messiah did not come to dominate but to show us how to be meek and humble of heart, the opposite of what the world sets forth as meaningful. Christ is the sign of contradiction and as such makes sense as the Messiah. You can’t teach that to people, as is evidenced by the fact that Jesus had to become one of us to rescue us from our ignorance with the knowledge, love and service that come from the Trinity.

uiodg

DEEP DIVES INTO DIVINITY

I agree with St. Thomas Aquinas that God is “essentially unknowable.” Beneath that statement lies several assumptions:

  1. Human intelligence can never capture the essence of who God is. We are incapable of doing so. It makes sense that God loved us so much that he sent his only son to tell us and more importantly to show us about who God is, but using all the extensions of human nature to do so. Christ used parables, stories and similes to say, not who God is the way we would use a mathematical formula, but how to see Jesus, who, in turn is the only one who can see the Father.
  2. Christ becomes the Christ Principle, in my thinking, the key to unlock the human condition so that we can move to that next stage in our evolution, which is being an adopted son or daughter of the Father (Baltimore Catechism Question 6: What is the purpose of life? To know, love and serve God in this world and to be happy with God in the next.)
  3. Why is all of this esoteric thinking important? When Jesus came and taught us how to love God with our whole mind, our whole heart, and our whole strength and our neighbor as ourselves, people of the time had part of the Divine Equation but could not quite get what God was telling them. Jesus became one of us to speak our language, to mediate with the Father on our behalf, to take away Original Sin brought on by the pride and disobedience of Adam and Eve. (Romans 5). The assumptions Jesus had was that we would never be able to grasp the reality of God because we were not of divine nature. The next best thing was to allow human to grow and develop to their full potential. Adam and Eve were archetypes of what happens when humans are given reason, the freedom to choose what they reason, and no consequences for their actions until after they die.
  4. The Divine Equation are the questions and answers that God gives to those who deny themselves, take up their cross each day, and do the will of the Father, as it presents itself. To live in the spiritual universe, it takes the energy of God (grace) to sustain each of us according to our abilities to love others and do the will of the Father.
  5. What Jesus taught us is like concentrated orange juice. You have to mix it with the water of human condition carried by each individual person to make it drinkable.
  6. This realization that I am limited by my human nature but redeemed from just being a human that does not have a destiny in Heaven. That leaves me with some learning points.
  7. I can’t know the Trinity as the Trinity knows itself. I can know the Trinity through actually doing Scriptures and learning to see Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit.
  8. The spiritual universe seems like fairy tales to those who do not know how to use the Christ Principle to show how all reality is one with pure knowledge, pure love, and pure service as its energy.
  9. I don’t have to know how all of this fits together since I have neither the capability nor capacity to grasp the divinity as a divine person.
  10. My life as a Lay Cistercian revolves around growing each day in, with, and through Christ, to the glory of the Father, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

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EVERYTHING IS LINKED TO EVERYTHING ELSE

I thought about the notion of a Divine Equation during one of my Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5) while asking myself the series of questions around “If God did use science and mathematics to formulate all reality, then why did he not communicate the reality in which He exists in terms of mathematics, physics, chemistry, the four (maybe five) forces of matter, the cosmological notions of resonance and dissonance, to name a few anomalies?”

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,a2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love,b3striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace:c4* one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call;d5one Lord, one faith, one baptism;e6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.f

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/ephesians/4

One of the concepts with which I have had to explore in my Lectio Divina meditations is the notion of linkage. If God is One, everything in reality (physical, mental, and spiritual universes) is linked together. How is a question any human has a problem with because we live in a reality of space and time? We don’t have infused knowledge (direct knowledge from God), but we have to do it the hard way, to learn within the time span of the seventy or eighty years we have on earth? Thankfully, knowledge is cumulative, and we can learn from our mistakes, the propositions that did not prove to be true, and the new research we do base on new technology and the evolution of physics and the sciences. Looking at the bigger picture, all types of languages develop in response to new realities. Science and the physical sciences seem to be the new exciting frontier of knowing. Each of the sciences has its own language and assumptions. There is such a thing as theoretical physics and mathematics in addition to just functional math. My reflections led me to realize that all these languages could be the modern Tower of Bable.

Tower of Babel.*1The whole world had the same language and the same words.2When they were migrating from the east, they came to a valley in the land of Shinar* and settled there.3They said to one another, “Come, let us mold bricks and harden them with fire.” They used bricks for stone and bitumen for mortar.4Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky,* and so make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered all over the earth.”5The LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the people had built.6Then the LORD said: If now, while they are one people and all have the same language, they have started to do this, nothing they presume to do will be out of their reach.7Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that no one will understand the speech of another.8So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city.9That is why it was called Babel,* because there the LORD confused the speech of all the world. From there, the LORD scattered them over all the earth.

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

My purpose in using the Tower of Babel as it relates to the modern proliferation of ideas and exciting possibilities is to show that it is important for contemplative thinking to keep a perspective on what is happening in our age. The World with its modern languages of science, philosophy, psychology, and nationalities might be compared to the confusion of tongues. Everything, in reality, is linked to everything else. The only principle that actually draws all peoples and reality to Himself is the Christ Principle. All things flow to him, from him, as the center of all that is.

The Coming of Jesus’ Hour.*20Now, there were some Greeks* among those who had come up to worship at the feast.n21* They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee and asked him, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.”o22Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.p23* Jesus answered them,q “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.24* Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat;r but if it dies, it produces much fruit.25Whoever loves his life* loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.s26Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.t27“I am troubled* now. Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder. Still, others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come for my sake but for yours. 31 Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world* will be driven out. 32 And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.”z33He said this indicating the kind of death he would die.34So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains forever.* Then how can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?”a35Jesus said to them, “The light will be among you only a little while. Walk while you have the light so that darkness may not overcome you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where he is going.b36 While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of the light.”c

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

The reason I keep opening myself to the Holy Spirit each day, through Lectio Divina and other Lay Cistercian practices is to place myself in the presence of Jesus. I learn so much about all things are linked together through, with, and in Christ that I find myself longing to be in His presence as much as I can. And, after all, isn’t that one of the definitions of loving others as Christ loved us?

PAINTING WITH THE BRUSH OF CHRIST

St. Benedict teaches his monks that the monastery is a School of Charity or Love where we can learn how to love others as Christ loved us. It takes a lifetime to master the Art of Contemplative Practice.

In one of my Lectio Divina meditations, the Holy Spirit prompted me to think of this School of Love as part of how I view my time since I made profession as a Lay Cistercian of Our Lady of Holy Spirit Monastery (Trappist), Conyers, Georgia, but with a slight twist (The Holy Spirit is always giving me ideas but with his own sense of humor.). In this case, I am to meditate on being a Lay Cistercian as a School of Art, not only a School of Love. This is what I thought about.

A School of Art, as I thought about it, has Master teachers, ones to whom aspiring students gravitate because they want to be like them. Christ is my Master teacher of this School of Lay Cistercian Art. As an apprentice (novice) student, I just know I want to be more like Christ and less like my false self imprinted with decades of what the World says is meaningful. In this school, I must learn to take off the old habits of self-indulgence, pride, envy, power, unauthentic sexuality, hatred, jealousy, factions, judging others’ motives, or if they will go to heaven or not, basically the seven deadly sins. Read what Bishop Barron has to say about the seven deadly sins but also the seven helpful virtues. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vt4aMtCNwCI This moves from my false self (the World) to my true self as an adopted son (daughter) the Father. It takes work to do this, always dying to self to prefer nothing to the love of Christ (St. Benedict Chapter 4 of the Rule).

Every day, and I stress every day, I must convert myself from one born under the influence of Original Sin to one saved through the merits of Christ’s death on the cross. A school of any kind is a place where we focus our attention and seek to improve our skills to meet whatever goal we have. The School of Art is not an end in itself, but a means whereby each student meets the Master and leans those unique skills or practices that lead to becoming more like Christ the Master Artist and less like the past apprentice.

When I signed into this Lay Cistercian School of Art, Jesus gave me some tools to help me learn to see Him in everyday living. The problem with a virtual school is that it is invisible. The problem with invisibility is you can’t see anything. To make Himself real, Christ gave this student instructors, monks that teach us, fellow Lay Cistercians who are fountains of the Holy Spirit on Gathering Day and through linking our minds and hearts through prayer centered on Christ. I can see Jesus with my mind and heart by presenting myself to God in Cistercian practices and seeking the charisms of silence, solitude, work, prayer in the midst of a community of those gathered together in the name of Christ.

Jesus is the paint brush with which I must paint what I see in my mind and heart. What I see is not just scenery but how Christ infused all reality with life, the truth, as the way. From my Baptism, which took away my Original Sin, I must face the consequences or effects of that sin of Adam and Eve, but now I have a canvas on which to paint what I see about the Kingdom of Heaven around me each day. When I get up, I don’t worry about filling up the hole of time to be productive. I am a painter, and whatever comes my way, I paint, much like what St. Benedict said: “That in all things, God be gloried.”

I wrote a poem of what being a painter with the brush of Christ means to me.

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

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

…greatly 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 wife,      

    daughter, friends

…mindful that the passage of time increases each year …mindful of the major 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 true, 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 in me the mind of Christ Jesus, my purpose in life, and my center…Forever.   “That in all things, may God be glorified.” –St. Benedict

God gives each human a canvas of life when they are born. In Baptism, Christ gives us not only Himself as a brush (transubstantiation) but is our teacher on how to paint what we see (transformation). Christ uses, in my case, the Cistercian practices and charism to help me practice my craft. Christ won’t paint my canvas for me, but he showed me the canvas of his being, with the sign of contradiction placed on my soul at Baptism. The paint I must use is good works (Chapter 4 of the Rule of St. Benedict) that come from Christ. Jesus is real for those who use Faith alone as the pure energy come down from the Father through Christ and is present now in the Holy Spirit.

I don’t worry if my painting is perfect. I am certainly not perfect. I paint what I see. I try to see Jesus each day in all the various ways life embraces me. Overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, all I can say is: “Be it done to me according to your word.” When I paint something on the canvas, I don’t just look at it and forget it, like a nice sunrise or how the wind blows on my body during a hot, Florida July day. Everything I take the time to paint on my canvas of life with the brush of Christ I can take with me to heaven. After all, it is my picture.

HOW TO BAKE A LAY CISTERCIAN?

If you think the Holy Spirit doesn’t have a sense of humor, then you will not appreciate this blog that I wrote down for my Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5).

I like to focus these end days (of my life) on how all things move into and out of the Christ Principle. This is a recent appreciation of my Lay Cistercian growth from self to God. When I do Lectio Divina and there is slightly more of God than before, I think of my life in terms of what presents itself to me each day. I had just finished watching a Korean television show on how to make chocolate cake (I love Korean television, maybe because my wife is in Korean.), but somehow that I can’t explain what the Holy Spirit told me,
“Do you know that your life is like that Korean factory that makes chocolate cake?” Now you see why I say the Holy Spirit has a sense of humor.

It has troubled me for some time that I realize my march from false self (the dissonance of Original Sin) to my true self (resonance with the Christ Principle) has to begin each day. Each day, as Jesus had predicted, I must anew take up my cross and seek God as I find Him in whatever comes my way. I kept asking the Holy Spirit to take this cross away from me.

“Just let me believe in God one time,” I pleaded, “and I won’t have to suffer each day to struggle to have to place God’s will over my human inclinations of self-righteousness and self-indulgence.”

What I got back with the Holy Spirit is classic. The Spirit said to me that each day if I sit down on the park bench in the dead of winter and wait for Christ to sit next to me, it is the struggle that Christ had before he entered into his passion and death. “Let this inconvenience pass from me. It is too difficult each day. Some days I don’t even believe or feel that you even care about me, Holy Spirit.”

“My grace is sufficient,” said the Holy Spirit. “When you are depressed or bored with the struggle to be free of the corrupting effects of this world, that is when I am with you the most in your mind and in your heart.”

“Let me help you by using something every day to explain your suffering and frustration. You just watched a television show about baking a cake. Think about this.”

“If your whole life was a cake that you were going to bake, you add ingredients that will make it taste good and become what a chocolate cake should be, not so?”

The Holy Spirit continued, “Each day, you add to your cake from your choices to do God’s will versus what the World says are good ingredients. I give you what makes your cake presentable to God the Father. Christ served up the cake and all of us have a piece of it. I mean the Whole Church Universal, too. Remember the story of the five barley loaves and two fishes? Same thing.”

“Getting back to the Korean cake, you see them putting in ingredients (no talking needed) to the mix that is already there. Each day, you add the flavors of the day to the mix, provided you tied them together for the praise and glory of the Father through Christ.”

“As a Lay Cistercian, your cake began with you adding just a bit here and there and stirring vigorously. It took you many years to keep adding ingredients to the mix. Humility, Obedience to God’s will and not your own, avoidance of the presumption that God fits into your plan and not vice versa. You made an act of Faith in the power of God when you wrote down your Lay Cistercian final promises. Your cake becomes tasty to God because you take that time each day to create life anew. That is why you must seek God daily, using Cistercian practices and charisms. There are ways for you to see God, but only if you have the power that comes from pure energy, our energy we share with you as an adopted son (daughter) of the Father.”

“Relax and just look for ways to be present to whatever comes your way. Know that God is with you as you struggle. Like Christ, the suffering he made for your ransom of many is part of what love is all about.”

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

WHO MADE YOU POPE?

There is a controversy in the Church over the use of the Latin language in the Mass. As usual, almost everyone misses the point. This points out a phenomenon that has plagued the Church all the way back to Moses and the Ten Commandments. Remember the story of the Golden Calf and the Israelites, so easily flipped over a God they could not see for a mere statue of gold? This story contains the seeds of what is going on today and has taken place ever since Pentecost. Humans tend to mess up things with the Holy Spirit. They may even think they are correct but be in heresy, the bliss that comes from thinking God speaks through you alone.

GOD SPEAKS THROUGH THE PROPHETS IN THE OLD TESTAMENT– If you do any reading at all about Scriptures, you come to realize that the prophets were those cursed, to tell the truth to Israel, what they did not want to hear. When individuals who are not anointed to speak for God do so, thinking that God speaks through them, Israel strays from the truth. The ten lost tribes of Israel are a case in point. Over time, they listened to the local gods and false prophets and were eventually assumed into what is now Syria. Once again, the Genesis Principle was at work. This question is “Who is God, you or God?” The people (church) decided that they knew better than God and suffered the consequences of their choice. One Faith, One Lord, One Baptism, but there is only One Pope, who is elected to head the Church.

GOD SPEAKS THROUGH THE APOSTLES IN THE TIME OF CHRIST– It is no secret in Scriptures that the Apostles and disciples did not get the message of Jesus before his passion, death and resurrection. It took the Holy Spirit to enter the upper room (Where else would those frightened to death hide?) and breathe the spirit of truth, showing them and the future church the way and how to live a life that focuses on loving others, even those who don’t love you in return. The Holy Spirit released those He overshadowed (first of all the Blessed Mother) from the bondage of sin and allowed them to approach the Father only in, with, and through Christ. Humility and obedience to the will of God as authorized by Peter, the Apostles, and Ecumenical Councils, helps individuals to focus on the basics and not get hung up on what clothes should be worn at Eucharist, what language should be spoken, or how some peripheral teaching goes out of fashion. Christ alone makes all things new. Christ alone is the supreme authority, and he has given that authority to fallible and mistake-prone individuals charged with leading the Church Catholic (those still on earth) through the minefields wrought by pride and disobedience to the whim of the many.

One Faith, One Lord, One Baptism, but there is only One Pope, who is elected to head the Church.

GOD SPEAKS IN EACH AGE THROUGH THE TEACHINGS OF THE HOLY FATHER

Scripture teaches us that the Holy Spirit will not let the gates of Hell prevail against it. Jesus said nothing about some magical incantation to ward off the effects of Original Sin or to combat evil in all its insidious forms. What he did say was that his grace is sufficient for individuals. To be present in each age, Jesus designed the Church to have one person with the primacy of honor and authority over His flock. The Good Shepherd handed over the crux to Peter (not the obvious choice because he was a braggart, sought the favor of Christ, and betrayed him three times). The paradox of God shows itself again and again: Jesus chose the weakest person to be the chief shepherd of his whole flock (Church Militant) on earth, while Jesus is the head of the Church Universal in Heaven. One Faith, One Lord, One Baptism, but there is only One Pope, who is elected to head the Church.

The question is not, “Does the Pope have authority to lead the Church in matters of faith and morals?” but rather “Do you trust the Holy Spirit to overshadow the successor of St. Peter, not to be free from error, but to use the power to bind and lose to the benefit of this age?”

Would Jesus marvel at our lack of faith in his words?

traveling with the holy Spirit

Isn’t the Holy Spirit everywhere? Next time you travel with anyone in the car or truck, try this contemplative practice.

Ask those in the car to think of one idea only as you read this passage. Read Scriptures from Philippians 3:5-12 outloud (not the driver), then wait for three minutes. Have each person give what they received from that passage. One thought only.

For the second time, read the same quote. This time, think of what love Jesus might have had to give up his life for the ransom of many. What ransom?

For the third time, listen between the words. What is God telling you right now, in this car about what it means to love others as He loved you.

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watching lucifer just for the hell of it

Usually, my tastes in television movies and sitcoms goes from following Jason Statham movies to that of Father Brown Mysteries. I came across a television series entitled Lucifer. I thought it would be about the usual fodder fed by sensationalists to sell movies.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yK5lZTPHozs

I did watch one episode of Lucifer. It turns out those who wrote the script thought of Lucifer as a bad boy punished by God, his father to punish people who go to Hell. Lucifer wants a change of venue and comes to earth to lead a life worthy of the Devil. It is so far apart from who the Devil is and does, that I found it rather amusing, as least for one session. Lucifer, his Dad (God) and Mum (Mum) plus Michael and few other demons make up this tale of romance, love, with a twist of Mount Olympus and Ozzie and Harriet thrown in the mix (somewhere). If you were in a group to design what Lucifer actually is you would end up with an agnostic’s view of the whole God thing. Significantly enough, there is no Christ mentioned anywhere (at least I could not find Him).

If this is what the Kingdom of Heaven is, then the hell with it. These thoughts influenced my Lectio Divina a few days ago. Here are some random ideas about the Devil, Hell, and Lucifer the television series.

In my reality, Lucifer is not the son of God, but a spirit created to be of service to God.

The Devil is a fallen angel. He chose to be jealous of God rather than to submit to His will. It is archetype that all humans must face on a daily basis.

Hell is not the opposite of Heaven, but the absence of it.

Hell is the frustration of knowing you missed the boat and freely chose something you thought was good (Adam and Eve) but it turned out to be a complete shell game.

There are various types of punishments in Hell. What terrifies me most is that it is permanent, that Lucifer will be in my face forever shouting at me, taunting me with the thought that I could have had it all but chose Him instead. He will laugh at me mocking my decision and how he tricked me from my rightful heritage as a son (daughter) of the Father to chose hatred, envy, lust, factions, lying, jealousy, false gods, and other humilitations I have yet to conceive.

The Devil does not have the power to make us do anything. He can only suggest.

The more I keep hatred and those tendencies of my false self as central to my Faith, the Devil has me. It is only when I die to false self and redeem myself with Christ Jesus that I move from hatred in my heart to that of love. Each day, I must begin from zero. This is conversio morae (conversion of life) at the heart of my Lay Cistercian approach to loving others as Christ loves me.

I am not fixated on Hell but on the prize for which Christ paid the price with his passion, death and resurrection (ascension). The price I must pay is to seek God each day with all my heart, with all my mind, and with all my strength. Some days are better than others.

Christ left us several ways to make all things new in our hearts each day. Lectio Divina, Eucharist, Meditation on Scripture, Spiritual Reading from the Saints, all help to keep us focused in having in me the mind of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5-12)/

LIFTING THE HEART AND MIND TO GOD USING ARCHITECTURE AND GREGORIAN CHANT

One characteristic of love is to want to share what is critical with those whom you value most. I wanted to share an aspect of prayer that is part of our Benedictine/Cistercian/Carthusian heritage. I came across this YouTube of a Cistercian monastery, one which you can see and hear how they created space to lift up the voice and thus the spirit to the Father through Christ Jesus.

 I am struck by how these Cistercian monks actually build a way for the mind to aspire to what is higher. I attached this photo. The Abbey Church is devoid of color and its glass is clear. The whole theology of light and space lifts the heart and mind to God without any effort. The walls are designed for echoes. How stunning! Cistercian architecture is minimalist but austere and without color, no statues or stained glass windows portraying a story about Jesus. I asked one of the monks at Our Lady of the Holy Spirit about that, and he told me that I needed to supply the color in my mind and heart. As St. Benedict says in Chapter 4 of the Rule, “Prefer nothing to the love of Christ.”

Cistercian architecture and music to life the heart to God through Christ.

Just “listen with the ear of the heart.”

Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery, Conyers, Georgia

Notice the blue color. The monks had to receive special permission to use color in their windows due to the intense Georgia heat in the Summer. Normally, Cistercians’ windows are clear.

READINGS FROM ST. BERNARD OF CLAIRVAUX

BERNARD OF CLAIRVAUX,
Parable One: The Story of the King’s Son
1.
Once upon a time, there was a rich and powerful king, God the almighty. And he caused Man,
whom he had created, to become his son. And because he was a delicate boy, he delegated Law
and the Prophets to be his guardians, and he gave him other tutors and masters during the
predetermined time which preceded his adulthood. He issued instruction to him and cautioned him.
He established him as the master of Paradise, showing him all the treasures of his glory and
promising them to him if he remained faithful. And lest any benefit should be lacking, he endowed
Man with free will so that his choice of good should be voluntary rather than forced.
With the possibility of good and evil before him, Man became dissatisfied with the good things
which were his and he was incited with a desire to experience evil as well as good. So he left the
paradise of good conscience. Until then he had knowledge only of good things; now he sought
novelties beyond his experience. He left aside his Father’s laws and guardians, and rejecting his
Father’s prohibition, he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Unhappy now, he hid himself and fled from the face of the Lord. The silly boy began to wander
through mountains of conceit and through valleys of curiosity; through fields of indiscipline and
woods of sexual excess; through the dark groves of fleshly delight and through the rough seas of
worldly involvement.
2.
Observing the wanton wanderings of the boy, now without guide or guard, and far from his Father’s
house, the ancient villain drew near to him. Full of wicked wiles, he handed him the little apple of
disobedience. And then, having won his consent, he turned against the poor boy. He threw him
down to earth and to the level of earthly desires. To prevent his getting up, he bound his feet (that
is, the affections of his mind) with the stout chains of worldly concupiscence, and did the same to
the activity of his hands and to the eyes of his mind. He set him in the ship of false security and
with the powerful aid of the strong wind of flattery he conveyed him to the distant Region of
Unlikeness.
When the boy arrived in this land which was not his own he was offered for sale to all who passed
by. He learned to tend pigs and to eat their husks. He unlearned all that he had previously learned
and he had to learn to do the work of slaves, of which he had no knowledge. He was crushed in
that prison of despair where the wicked walk around. In that mill where the wicked wend their
ways he was forced to work, with his only gain a bad conscience. Alas!


  1. Meanwhile, where was the Father who was so powerful and kind and generous? Could he for- get
    his own son? Never! Never! He did not forget him; he pitied him and grieved and mourned for his
    son’s absence and loss. He instructed his friends and begged his slaves and roused them all to make
    a search for him. Now, one of the slaves, whose name was Fear, following the fugitive’s traces
    according to his Master’s instructions, found the King’s son in a deep dungeon. He was covered with the prison dirt of sin and held fast by the bonds and chains of evil habit. He was unhappy, but
    unmindful, and though badly treated he was still secure and smiling.
    With words and with blows Fear urged him to get out and return, but he so upset the poor boy that
    he fell to the ground, lying there as one near death. On the heels of Fear came another slave whose
    name was Hope. Hope, seeing that the King’s son was stunned but not saved by Fear, cast down
    and not helped, gently came forward. From the dust he lifts up the lowly; from the dunghill he
    raises the poor. He raises the boy’s head and wipes his eyes and his face with the cloth of
    consolation: “Alas,” he says, “how many servants in your Father’s house have more bread than
    they need, and here are you dying of starvation. Rise up, I beg you, and go to your Father and say
    to him: ‘Father, make me one of your servants’.” At this the boy finally began to return to himself
    somewhat. “Who are you? Are you Hope? How is it that Hope is able to find entry into the ugly
    depths of my despair?” The other replied, “Yes, I am Hope. I was sent by your Father to be your
    help, and not to leave your side until I bring you to your Father’s house and into the room of the
    one who conceived you.”
    And the boy said to Hope: “O pleasant lightening of labours and gentle relief for the unhappy, you
    are not least among the three who attend the royal chambers. But see how very deep my dungeon
    is. See the chains which remain, even though most of them were broken and unfastened at your
    approach. See the vast number of my captors and how strong and swift and clever they are. But
    what is this place to you?” Hope replied: “Do not be afraid. He who helps us is kind; he who fights
    on our side is all-powerful. There are more for us than for them. Moreover, I have brought for you
    a horse which your Father sent, a horse named Desire. Astride this horse and with my guidance
    you will advance, safe from all of them.”
    Having said this, Hope covered the horse named Desire with soft rugs of holy devotion and gave
    it the shoes of good example. Then he put the King’s son upon it. So hurried was their flight that
    there was no bridle. The horse left that place wildly, with Hope leading the way and Fear bringing
    up the rear, urging the horse on with blows and threats. Seeing this, the chieftains of Edom were
    dismayed, trembling seized the leaders of Moab, all the inhabitants of Canaan were in turmoil;
    terror and dread fell upon them. Through the might of your arm they stayed still as stone, as your
    son, O Lord, went past, the son whom you had made your own. Borne along in headlong flight,
    they escaped; but danger remained, for they left without measure and without counsel.

  2. Because of this, Prudence, who was one of the most important officials of the palace, ran up sent
    by the Father. With her was her friend Temperance. She restrained their haste. “Slow down,” she
    cried, “please slow down. As Solomon says ‘One in a hurry goes off the path.’ If you keep running
    in this way you will go off the path, and if you go off the path you will fall. If you fall you will be
    giving back the King’s son to his enemies although you are trying to set him free. For if he falls,
    they will seize him.”
    Saying this, Prudence restrained the ardour of the horse named Desire with the bridle of Discretion
    and gave the reins into the control of Temperance And when Fear, from his rear position, began to
    talk about the nearness and might of their enemies and the slowness of their flight, Prudence said, “Get behind, Satan, you are a source of stumbling. For it is the Lord who is our strength and our
    praise he has become our saviour.
    And lo, Fortitude, the Lord’s military champion appeared. He surged through the fields of
    Boldness, wielding the sword that is Joy. “Do not be disturbed,” he cried, “there are more for us
    than for them.” But Prudence, the seasoned counsellor of the heavenly court, replied: “Please be
    careful. As my servant Solomon says, ‘If at the beginning you hasten toward your inheritance, then
    at the end there will be no blessing.’ Let us, therefore advance prudently and without haste. If it
    happen that our enemies are not on our path, then it likely that they will leave obstacles at the
    intersections and cross-ways and at the bends in the road. Therefore, I shall go in front. If you
    remain firmly on the road of Justice, then we will quickly conduct you to the camp of Wisdom, for
    it is not far away. For about Wisdom it was said, ‘If you desire wisdom then learn justice’.”
    5.
    In this manner they advanced. Fear added urgency. Hope attracted. Fortitude strengthened.
    Temperance controlled. Prudence kept watch and gave instructions. Justice led and directed. The
    King’s son drew near to Wisdom’s camp. When Wisdom heard of the new guest’s arrival, she
    anticipated his coming and ran outside joyfully letting herself be seen in the streets by him who
    had so much desired her.
    The camp itself was surrounded by a trench of deep Humility. Above it reared the mighty
    splendour of the wall of Obedience which reached to the skies and was wondrously adorned with
    painted histories of good examples. The wall was constructed with bulwarks and a thousand shields
    hung from it, each of them the equipment of a brave man. The door of Profession stood open to
    all, but a gatekeeper stood at the threshold, inviting those who were worthy and turning back those
    who were not. And there was a herald stationed above the gate and he cried out: “If anyone loves
    Wisdom let him turn to me and he shall find Wisdom. And when he has found her, happy is he
    who keeps his hold on her.”
    To this place the King’s son was brought. Wisdom went out to meet him and conducted him back,
    even carrying him in her arms. Confirmed by the homage of the ruling family, he was brought to
    the stronghold in the middle of the city, where Wisdom had built herself a home and had cut seven
    pillars, subduing peoples under her and, by her own might, trampling on the necks of the proud
    and haughty. Here he was placed in Wisdom’s own bed, surrounded by sixty of Israel’s mightiest,
    each with a sword at his side, and David was there with timbrel and dance and with strings and
    pipes. With him were all the other companions of the heavenly courts rejoicing and celebrating
    more for the one sinner who had repented than for the ninety-nine in no need of repentance.
    6.
    And lo, a whirlwind springs up from the north, and flashes of fire shake the whole house. Wisdom’s
    camp is in upheaval. Pharaoh has come forth with his chariots and horsemen to pursue Israel in its
    flight. They conspire with a single mind and make common alliance against him, the camps of
    Edom and Ishmael, the camps of Moab and Hagar, Gebal, Ammon and Amalek, foreigners joining
    with the dwellers in Tyre; Assyria, too, that great destructive devil, is their ally. How numerous
    they are! The city is besieged. The devices of temptation are brought forward and the enemy
    presses in on every side: a dragon in deceit and a lion when it comes to open fighting. He drives his allies forward. The walls are breached. Firebrands are thrown into the city. Battles rage and
    ambushes are sprung. Repeatedly he threatens the destruction of the entire city.
    Inside the city are fear and anguish. At the onset of such a violent and unforeseen attack from their
    enemies, they all staggered and reeled like drunken men and all their skill was gone. Then they
    cried to the Lord in their distress. There was a rush to Wisdom’s stronghold; the bad news was
    broken and counsel sought. Prudence, returning to herself, asked Wisdom what was to be done.
    Wisdom said that Prudence must hurry and seek the help of the Supreme King. “But who,” she
    said, “will go for us?” Wisdom replied, “Send Prayer. And so that there is no delay let Prayer ride
    on the horse named Faith.”
    For a long time a search was made for Prayer. So great was the upheaval that he was found only
    with great difficulty. Prayer mounted the horse named Faith and rode along the heavenly road not
    stopping until, by Praise, he reached the gates of the Lord and entered his courts by Hymns. Like
    a familiar servant, Prayer boldly approached the throne of grace and explained the precarious
    situation.
    When the King heard of the danger his son was in, he turned to Charity, his royal consort, and
    said: “Whom shall we send and who will go for us?” She replied, “Here am I. Send me.” And the
    King said: “Victorious shall be your conquest; you shall set them free.”
    The whole heavenly court accompanied Charity, the Queen of Heaven, as she went out from the
    face of the Lord. When they made their way down into the camp, all who were inside were
    enlivened by the joy and strength of her presence. Turbulence subsided and upheaval came to rest.
    Light returned to these unhappy people and boldness came back to those who were cowed. Hope,
    who was on the point of running away, returned, and Fortitude, who was almost overcome, revived.
    Wisdom’s whole army became firm once more.
    Meanwhile the enemies who were besieging the city said: “What is happening? Why is there such
    rejoicing in the camp? Yesterday and the day before there was no such rejoicing. Woe upon us!
    God has come into their camp. Woe upon us! Let us flee from Israel, for the Lord is fighting on
    their side.”
    As the enemies fled away, a torrent of divine grace gave joy to God’s city, and the Most High made
    holy the place where he dwells. God is within, in cannot be shaken; God will help it at the dawning
    of the day. Nations are in tumult, kingdoms are shaken. He lifts his voice, the earth shrinks away.
    The Lord of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold.
    Queen Charity gathered up God’s young son and carried him to Heaven and gave him back to God
    his Father. The Father came to meet him, full of mildness and gentleness. “Quickly,” he said,
    “bring out the best garment and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and shoes on his feet. Go
    and get the fatted calf and kill it. We must have a feast and rejoice, because my son, who was dead,
    has come back to life. He was lost and now is found.” 7.
    There are four stages to be noted on the boy’s return to freedom. Firstly, repentance, though not
    well grounded; secondly, flight, but rash and unthinking; thirdly, the battle terrible and frightening;
    and fourthly, victory in all its strength and wisdom. You will find that all who flee from the world
    pass through all these phases. At first they are weak and silly; then, with better times, they become
    precipitate and rash; when troubles come, they begin to be fearful and lose heart; and, finally, when
    they arrive at the kingdom of Charity, they are far-seeing, experienced and made perfect.

MY NOTES:

Next to reading Holy Scriptures, a Lay Cistercian is encouraged to read from Cistercian heritage that comes from monks and nuns from the time of St. Bernard to the present This past Sunday, our monthly Gathering Day for Lay Cistercians of the Monastery of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia (Trappist), our topic was a parable written by St. Bernard himself. I must admit, having read some of St. Bernard’s more challenging pieces, this was a shock. Come to find out, St. Bernard wrote this parable to explain the essence of the monastic experience to people like me. I have attached this parable for your spiritual reading.

the three principles of existence

I was never very good at academics in school, having the curse to have a slow mind that seems to dwell on how things fit together rather than their composition. I seem to gravitate toward the bigger picture. The problem is that the bigger picture kept getting bigger and bigger. As I look back on eighty-plus years of mostly being too full of myself to focus on Christ, I have developed a passion for trying to make all things new in Christ. My center, Philippians 2:5, informs each day as I try to do God’s will and not my own.

Of the many ideas presented to me by the Holy Spirit, I try to use my penchant for linking all things together with Christ. It makes sense (or more accurately more sense) for me than the view of reality presented by the World: you are born, you learn, you procreate, you eat, you discover the meaning of love, you wonder about what can solve that hole in your heart that seeks something to bring all things together, you die.

I don’t speak for the Holy Spirit. I speak of principles because that is what the Holy Spirit placed before me to see how I would use my talents to make sense out of it. I ask the Holy Spirit to speak to me and listen through all the distractions brought on my Original Sin.

THE VALUE OF PRINCIPLES IN SEEKING GOD EVERY DAY

Some things change every day, and some do not. Principles are such focal points that do not change, but they moderate anything going into them and coming out of them, much like a black hole in science or the US Constitution in political discourse. Principles are those ideas or values we place at the center of our way of thinking against which illuminates all the reality against which all that is. My personal center is Philippians 2:5, with which I begin each Lectio Divina meditation and against which I measure myself in Chapter 4 of the Rule of St. Benedict each day. I always come up short when measuring myself against the Christ Principle, which is why I try to convert my false self into the true self as an adopted son (daughter) of the Father. Conversatio morae (conversion of life) is a mindset that helps put my Lay Cistercian practices into perspective. Daily conversion from my false self to my true self is only possible with the energy source from God, not from me nor anything in the world. I get this energy by being in the presence of God in the Cistercian practices and living the charisms (humility, obedience, hospitality, mercy). It is not so much that I demand that God touch my heart as much as it is that I listen with the ear of my heart to what the Holy Spirit directs. The divine energy flows from that which is divine to that which is human, not vice versa. God doesn’t need any human energy to be God. The Psalmist says:

“Listen, my people, I will speak;

Israel, I will testify against you;

God, your God, am I.

8Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you,

your burnt offerings are always before me.

9I will not take a bullock from your house,

or he-goats from your folds.

10For every animal of the forest is mine,

beasts by the thousands on my mountains.

11I know every bird in the heights;

whatever moves in the wild is mine.

12Were I hungry, I would not tell you,

for mine is the world, and all that fills it.f

13Do I eat the flesh of bulls

or drink the blood of he-goats?

14Offer praise as your sacrifice to God;g

fulfill your vows to the Most High.

15Then call on me on the day of distress;h

I will rescue you, and you shall honor me.”

The energy of God comes from divine nature, not human. There are three principles that God has given to humans whereby they can interpret The Divine Equation and move from their false self to their true self. Here are the three principles that are sources of power that humans marked with the sign of contradiction may claim to propel them to heaven, their destiny, and the final stage of human evolution.

THE GENESIS PRINCIPLE- God inspired the sacred authors (who may not have to know the extent of what they wrote) to identify the first principle of God’s energy, life itself. Here is some thought for your meditation:

Don’t get tripped up by how long it took God to create the world.

God is the author of all life, all matter, all physical energy, all time.

What God made is good, or, another way of saying that, “There was resonance.” Resonance is being what God created as part of nature.

In the case of humans, at some point in their evolution, God selected two persons to be endowed with human nature and the freedom to choose good or evil.

Genesis is the archetypal story for ordinary humans to see how human choice affected how they lived their lives.

God made Adam ( from the soil) and Eve (from Adam’s side) to be pleased and to enjoy The Garden of Eden (Heaven) forever. Because they had reasoned, they had the opportunity to make choices. This choice is the metaphor of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and God said don’t eat of this tree for you will surely die. Everything to this point was in resonance with what it should be according to God’s will.

Something happened that caused this relationship to terminate. Since Adam and Eve are our first progenitors with human reasoning and the freedom to choose what is right, they represent humanity. Saint Paul says it well in Romans 5.

Humanity’s Sin through Adam.12 Therefore, just as through one person sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and thus death came to all, inasmuch as all sinned*13 for up to the time of the law, sin was in the world, though sin is not accounted when there is no law.i14 But death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who did not sin after the pattern of the trespass of Adam, who is the type of the one who was to come.j

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

With God is resonance; that is, everything acts its nature. With Adam and Eve, they made a poor choice, and sin entered the world. This is the beginning of dissonance and the fundamental premise for the rest of the Old Testament until the restoration of this collective dissonance by Adam and Eve is redeemed. Again, St. Paul continues in Chapter 5 of Romans.

Grace and Life through Christ.15But the gift is not like the transgression. For if by that one person’s transgression the many died, how much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one person Jesus Christ overflow for the many.16And the gift is not like the result of the one person’s sinning. For after one sin there was the judgment that brought condemnation; but the gift, after many transgressions, brought acquittal.17For if, by the transgression of one person, death came to reign through that one, how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of justification come to reign in life through the one person Jesus Christ.18In conclusion, just as through one transgression condemnation came upon all, so through one righteous act acquittal and life came to all.k19For just as through the disobedience of one person the many were made sinners, so through the obedience of one the many will be made righteous.l20The law entered in* so that transgression might increase but, where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more,m21so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through justification for eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.n

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

This first principle is one where all reality begins to be. The principle of life from which all flows and into which all converge is one of resonance. As described in the Pentateuch, the Genesis principle is a series of stories about the consequences of that Original Sin as history unfolds. Although God did not abandon his people, Israel, there was still dissonance between them. They would never have been able to be made “righteous,” as St. Paul says above unless God Himself would become human and restore resonance once more. This leads me to think of the next principle, The Christ Principle.

THE CHRIST PRINCIPLE

The act by God to become one of us is similar to one of the first principles, that of life. This next evolution of our redemption comes as the person of Jesus Christ, both divine and human. God once more intervened in space and time to re-create us in the image and likeness of Christ. The Christ Principle is that from which all things flow, and into which all reality converges. According to Philippians 2:5-12, Christ saved us from just living and dying by paying the price of our redemption. That word, redemption, is significant because the Hebrew word is gaal. https://biblehub.com/hebrew/1350.htm It means a kinsman goes to the pawnshop and buys back the pawn ticket to redeem that which sold. This kinsman is Jesus, who is both divine and human, and he must pay the price to repurchase us. The price for our redemption is to complete the act of love which Adam and Eve destroyed by their one choice. This price is to suffer and die on a cross, to offer his life as a ransom for the many. It is the ultimate sign of contradiction that God would submit to such indignity. If you haven’t already, read Philippians 2:5-12.

I have heard that Jesus is Lord and Savior. That meaning depends a lot on my ability to learn from books and theologians all the scholarship of the ages. I am more and more aware of how my teacher is not a book but the Holy Spirit. My capacity to know more about Jesus has morphed into my capacity to be more in the image of the likeness of God. Simply put, to love others as Christ has loved me.

Savior means Christ paid the price of emptying himself of his humanity (death) so that all humanity could be restored to resonance with God.

Savior means Christ saved me from just living in the physical and mental universes of the World, to open up the spiritual life to those who choose to be adopted sons and daughters of the Father.

Savior means Jesus is the way for humans to traverse the rocky road of life by giving his very flesh and blood to eat and to make all things new for those who love him.

Savior means Jesus is Messiah, Son of God. (John 20_30-31)

Savior means Jesus is not only the WHY and WHO that completes The Divine Equation but also the authentic answers that cause continuous resonance in a world corrupted by Original Sin.

THE PRINCIPLE OF TRUTH

There is only one truth. Humans have struggled over what the truth is since the story of the Tower of Babel. It doesn’t help that each individual human has the power to say YES or NO to anything. In the Genesis Principle, God allowed Adam and Eve to choose good or evil freely. With choices comes the consequences of that choice. In the Christ Principle, God chose to become human (Jesus Christ) to give each of us a chance to complete the original plan of God, for all of us to be together in heaven. Still, humans make poor choices, some sinful (against God’s advice on making it through the minefield of life without being destroyed), others just dumb.

It all comes down to me. I live seventy or eighty years ( I am 80+ and very lucky). During that time, I have a chance to be an adopted son or daughter of the Father, to know my purpose in life, to know what reality looks like, to use my reason and ability to choose to see how all fits together, to learn how to love fiercely, and to prepare to live forever.

This last principle is just for me, and all others who are human. The Holy Spirit, the Truth, informs my reasoning when I am humble of heart and seek God daily in my heart.

LEARNING POINTS

These three principles are God, intervening in the human condition.

These principles are persons.

God the Father is the Genesis Principle, the principle from which all life exists, THE LIFE.

God the Son is the Christ Principle, the principle to reconnect humans and the divine, THE WAY.

God, the Holy Spirit, is the Principle of Truth, the principle for humans to rise above mere human knowledge, love, and service to have in them the very energy of God, as they have the capacity to receive it. (Capacitas dei)

My Lay Cistercian practices allow me to place myself in the presence of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit and listen with “the ear of my heart.”

the christ imperatives

Holy Mother's Center

THE CHRIST IMPERATIVES Here are some of the commands that Jesus gave to us to help us to 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 at all, just sit back and sin bravely. 

 It is Christ who has shown us the way, given us love as the gold standard, 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: love one another as I have loved you. I pray that I am what I hope to become in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Praise to the Father and 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

WHERE IS EVERYBODY?

Somehow, this made its way into my Lectio Divina meditations (not contemplation) for this morning. I have so many wonderful and inspiring thoughts from the Holy Spirit about linking all reality with the Christ Principle. Even thoughts about where my classmates are somehow part of this one reality, One Lord, One Faith, and One Baptism. This is a picture of my high school graduating class from Central Catholic High School, Vincennes, Indiana, in 1958. I am not in the picture because I attended St. Meinrad Minor Seminary High School in St. Meinrad, Indiana. I signed up for a blog from my hometown in Vincennes, Indiana, for my high school class, and where are they now? My point is when I look at these photos of my classmates and ask the question, “Where is everybody?” At 80 years of age, I know that I am just a broken-down, old Lay Cistercian Temple of the Holy Spirit, but where are the rest of my classmates?

Where is everybody?

My point is, some are dead and some still living out the few years they have left. Where are they now? A lifetime of success, failures, making money, going broke, having children, being married or divorced are some of the choices we all make that define who we are? Why is that? Like one of those link roller traps that I use to clean up the dog hair from my Yellow Lab, Tucker, my choices are irretrievably linked to who I am. Some choices are bad for me and some good. St. Benedict, in Chapter 4 of the Rule, puts it this way.

41 Place your hope in God alone.
42 If you notice something good in yourself, give credit to God, not to yourself,
43 but be certain that the evil you commit is always your own and yours to acknowledge.

44 Live in fear of judgment day
45 and have a great horror of hell.

Again, where is everybody? If they are still alive on earth, is Christ a part of their purpose in life, their personal center? If they are dead, where are they? Wherever they are, alive or dead, their choices in life will carry with them forever. As one still living, I pray for my family, teachers, and all those I have threaded with the Golden Thread of the Christ Principle each day, if not just for a fleeting moment in my Morning Offering.

May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of Christ, rest in peace, now and forever. Amen

HOW DO YOU ANSWER THIS?

What would be your answer to the following four questions that I received from the Holy Spirit during my last two Lectio Divina meditations? I don’t have answers as much as further questions about these ideas. I want you to think about them in the recesses of your heart and ponder them, rather than do the usual, which is write them down and forget them.

  1. Why did Jesus leave us Himself as real Divinity and real Humanity under the appearance of bread and wine (transubstantiation), rather then just a remembrance (like remembering your birthday each year)? Is there a difference in having that same Jesus that told us, “love one another as I have loved you” where I can transform myself from my false selt to my true self in the Eucharist. I can touch, feel, sense, see, react to Jesus under the appearance of that seemingly innocuous wafer of bread. Do I profoundly believe in that real presence or, like 70% of Catholics in a recent poll, just think it is like going to the ball park and buying a hotdog? It makes a difference in you and the way you approach Christ in your contemplative prayer. If you sit on the park bench in the dead of Winter and wait for Jesus but that Jesus is not real but only your imagination going berserk, are you deceiving yourself with your false self’s illusions? I answered it for myself, can you? https://www.google.com/search?q=youtube+bishop+barron+eucharist&rlz=1C1JJTC_enUS958US958&oq=youtube+bishop+barron+eucharist&aqs=chrome..69i57.9967j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8
  2. Do you resist practicing good works because those words are linked to a medieval notion that you can somehow get to heaven without faith just by doing these works alone as ends in themselves? Or, as held by St. Benedict and Holy Scripture, are good works the result of your Faith and thus belief in the presence of Christ in your heart, and you move from your old self to your new self when you do these good works? There are only three kinds of works: good works that come from Faith, bad works that come from the World, and no works that comes from someone who believes there is no God.

The Similes of Salt and Light.*13i “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.*14You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.j15Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house.k16Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.l

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

3. Do you know what Jesus looks like? Why not? He is the most important person in my life and the Christ Principle with which all reality makes sense, so why don’t we have a photo of Him? Actually, that is the wrong question to ask. Wrong questions give wrong answers. I think the correct question is: in my lifetime of seventy or eighty years have I learned how to see Jesus, using all the ways He has left to His disciples to see him? I used Lay Cistercian practices that are part of the Cistercian spiritual system. When I place myself in the presence of God by invoking the Holy Spirit, I see Christ there, not physically but spiritually. My heart is transformed by the heart of Christ to move from dissonance to resonance in the depth of my being. Prayerfully read St. John’s Gospel and try to see Jesus.

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.a4Where [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.b7If you know me, then you will also know my Father.* From now on you do know him and have seen him.”c8Philip said to him, “Master, show us the Father,* and that will be enough for us.”d9Jesus 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’?e10Do 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.f11Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves.g12Amen, 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.h13And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.i14If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.

The Advocate.15“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.j16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate* to be with you always,k17the 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.l18I 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.m20On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you.n21Whoever 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.”o22Judas, not the Iscariot,* said to him, “Master, [then] what happened that you will reveal yourself to us and not to the world?”p23Jesus 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.q24Whoever 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.r27Peace* 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.s28* 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.u30I 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

If you cannot see Jesus in your neighbor, those who hate you, those who calumniate against you, those who are sick, the mentally suffering, why not? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jN1JsYA1SQ

4. If you love God with all your heart, all your mind, and all your strength, and your neighbor as yourself? Matthew 22:36. If you really believe that with all your heart, what are you not doing now that you should love others as Christ loves us.

OBEDIENCE BY RELINQUISHING MY WILL TO A POWER OUTSIDE MYSELF: THE GREATEST OBSTACLE TO SPIRITUAL RESONANCE

My last couple of Lectio Divina’s has centered on how my Lectio (Philippians 2:5) influences resonance. I don’t take credit for this way out of thoughts as they apply to Holy Scripture. They just come, and I take them down for you to decipher.

In thinking about how I might more fully “Have in me the mind of Christ Jesus,” the thought came to mind that everything is tied together in ways we either know about or don’t yet perceive. My focus on Lectio Divina has been around two or three themes:

1. The Divine Equation, or how to make sense of what clearly doesn’t make any sense.

2. How does it all fit together, and what principle ties all of reality together, even if we don’t comprehend it all.

3. What is powerful enough to cause cosmic resonance of matter and ideas and free will?

I. THE DIVINE EQUATION: My lifelong ambition, which I still pursue, is to continue to see how all reality fits together into one while maintaining the integrity of three distinct and separate universes, all existing at the same time. For many, many years, I have struggled to comprehend or master the mystery of the Blessed Trinity: One God, with three persons, The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit. What I failed to grasp until quite recently is that The Trinity is not only the sign on my soul placed there by Baptism, but it is also the template by which I look at all reality and try to peel off the layers of meaning with the tools I have acquired in my lifetime. The Church Universal is the toolbox of many ways others have tried to “Have in them the mind of Christ Jesus.” I have the accumulation of all that wealth of trial and error all the way back to Christ, the Principle into which all reality has meaning, and from which we all can use as the way, the truth, and so live a life authentic for our human species. I can reason for a reason and free will, which allows me to even choose what is inauthentic. If I was just a human, I only have the reasoning and free choices of the world (physical and mental universes) to determine what is true. What does not make sense to the world makes perfect sense when applying the Christ Principle to reality.

When I enter the spiritual universe at Baptism with a free choice of my will, although I face a lifetime of trying to love others as Christ loved us, everything is the opposite of what the world promises with health, happiness, meaning, and fulfillment. The Second Reading for the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time just popped out at me this Sunday as I listened to it (thankfully, our parish, Good Shepherd, Tallahassee, Fl) has two large screens with all the writings displayed so that an old Lay Cistercians like me can read it. Read this inspirational passage from St. Paul in II Corinthians, and remind yourself why the Scriptures were even written down so that you could hear and come to believe that Jesus is Lord.

Reading II

2 Cor 12:7-10

Brothers and sisters:
That I, Paul, might not become too elated,
because of the abundance of the revelations,
a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan,
to beat me, to keep me from being too elated. 
Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me,
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. 
Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults,
hardships, persecutions, and constraints,
for the sake of Christ;
for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/070421.cfm

The Holy Scriptures are there for people in each age to take the Christ Principle that comes from God (The Divine Equation) and apply it to their daily lives as they move down their seventy or eighty years of life if they are lucky. The Church in each age does not make up new doctrine or anything but Christ Himself left us. The Church helps those of each age to see Jesus now. Read the Conclusion of St. John’s Gospel and “listen with the ear of your heart .”

Conclusion.*30Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of [his] disciples that are not written in this book.s31But 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

When you are signed with the mark of the Trinity, all the words you say, where you find meaning and purpose, how all things are, how all things fit together, and the meaning of love is the opposite of what the world says. That is why our faith is “folly to the Gentiles and a stumbling block to the Jews.” In the passage from II Corinthians above, St. Paul says…”when I am weak, then I am strong.” The assumption here is that with the Christ Principle, everything is as it should be, consistent with who God is and with the natural law.

II. HOW ALL THAT IS FITS TOGETHER Given that you can accept the Divine Equation as a way to look at one reality with three distinct universes, then the next step is to unravel the six thresholds of life that ask the key questions everyone must ask and answer correctly before they die. They are:

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

I have been romancing these questions and possible answers for the past twenty-one years. Using Lectio Divina and the Holy Spirit’s help, sixty-five books plus my blogs are the results of just sitting in the presence of Christ and listening. The problem was, the World cannot provide either the questions or the answers because what is true in the spiritual universe is the opposite of what the world says is true. In The Divine Equation, these six questions must be answered using correct or authentic solutions. Since both the questions and the authentic answers are from God, only He has the answers. That is one of the reasons Jesus, Son of God, took on our pitiable nature, to show us the way, to explain that the truth in contradiction from God is more real than that of the World, and allow us to be adopted sons and daughters with the life that lasts not only while we live on earth but continues in Heaven forever.

Yet, with all its seeming complexities, The Divine Equation is accessed by a humble act of Faith through belief in the Christ Principle just with one Yes, as did the Blessed Mother when she said, “Be it done to me according to your Word.” With just one act of love, Christ said to His Father on the cross, “into your hands, I commend my Spirit.” With this seemingly insignificant action, all reality changed. The debt to God was paid back (Goel in Hebrew) when a family member (The Trinity) bought back that which was pawned by Adam and redeemed by Christ. Prayerfully read this passage from Romans in its entirety (I suggest three times), pausing to drink in the life-giving words from the Word.

Faith, Hope, and Love.*1Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace* with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,a2through whom we have gained access [by faith] to this grace in which we stand, and we boast in hope of the glory of God.b3Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance,4and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope,c5and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us.d6For Christ, while we were still helpless, yet died at the appointed time for the ungodly.7Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die.*8But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.e9How much more then, since we are now justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath.f10Indeed, if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, once reconciled, will we be saved by his life.g11Not only that, but we also boast of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Humanity’s Sin through Adam.12* Therefore, just as through one person sin entered the world,h and through sin, death, and thus death came to all, inasmuch as all sinned*—13for up to the time of the law, sin was in the world, though sin is not accounted when there is no law.i14But death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who did not sin after the pattern of the trespass of Adam, who is the type of the one who was to come.j

Grace and Life through Christ.15But the gift is not like the transgression. For if by that one person’s transgression the many died, how much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one person Jesus Christ overflow for the many.16And the gift is not like the result of the one person’s sinning. For after one sin there was the judgment that brought condemnation; but the gift, after many transgressions, brought acquittal.17For if, by the transgression of one person, death came to reign through that one, how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of justification come to reign in life through the one person Jesus Christ.18In conclusion, just as through one transgression condemnation came upon all, so through one righteous act acquittal and life came to all.k19For just as through the disobedience of one person the many were made sinners, so through the obedience of one the many will be made righteous.l20The law entered in* so that transgression might increase but, where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more,m21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through justification for eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.n

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

As a Lay Cistercian trying to place me in the presence of Christ and listen to the Holy Spirit, I try to remind myself of the five levels of spiritual awareness when listening or reading the word of God in all my Cistercian practices (Eucharist, Lectio Divina, Rosary, Reading Scripture, Praying in the silence and solitude of my inner self, Eucharistic Adoration).

  1. Hear or read the Word.
  2. Pray the Word.
  3. Share the Word.
  4. Become what you hear or read from the Word.
  5. There are no words needed when you sit in the presence of The Word and listen in silence and solitude.

Because God’s nature is divine when our human nature is just in the presence of such pure energy, we are transformed into what is greater through no power we have but through the power of the Holy Spirit to lift up our false selves to become adopted sons and daughters of the Father. What we can do is to recognize what is going on (reason) and align our wills with that of God’s (thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven). This is the resonance that only I, as a human, can give to God, the only thing God does not have (nor does he require it to be God), but it completes the dissonance of Adam and Eve.

What is God’s will?

To love others as Christ loved us.

To prefer nothing to the love of Christ. (St. Benedict, Chapter 4, Rule)

To deny oneself, pick up our cross daily, and do what Jesus did.

To die to our false self and rise with Christ to new life.

To make all things new each day through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

To daily ask God for mercy in the Morning Offering and seek to give mercy to those we not only love but to those who wrong us and hate us for Christ’s sake.

To seek God each day in whatever comes our way.

To see Jesus in the Eucharist and adore Him in Eucharistic Adoration.

To read Scriptures as love letters from God on how to “Have in you the mind of Christ Jesus.”

To realize that I am loved by Christ as a brother and friend and that I am an adopted son (daughter) of the Father.

To see Jesus when I encounter the Holy Spirit in my fellow Lay Cistercians on Gathering Day and in watching Bishop Barron’s YouTubes.

To be grateful that Jesus has allowed me to offer my cardiac arrest (2007), Leukemia (2014), pacemaker implantation (2020), and ongoing health problems as a torn in the flesh and realize that “my grace is sufficient” for anything that I face.

To give glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. The God who is, who was, and who will be at the end of the ages. –Cistercian doxology

To experience the joy that has no human counterpart whenever I join with others in proclaiming Jesus is Lord, to the glory of the Father.

To be vigilant against the wily attacks of the Devil, who is like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.

To be proud to wear the mark of the cross on my forehead, on my lips, and in my heart.

III. WHAT IS POWERFUL ENOUGH TO CAUSE COSMIC RESONANCE IN THE MIDST OF ORIGINAL SIN?

Jesus caused resonance with the Resurrection and Ascension to the Father.

I am powerful enough to cause cosmic resonance when I offer my obedience to the Father that “what is done in Heaven be done on earth.”

With the Christ Principle, I am powerful enough to identify the elements of the Divine Equation, although I may not have all the pieces in place.

With all this pure energy flowing here and there, it is good to remember that God is still God, and I am just one who calls upon the Lord to be saved.

LIFT UP YOUR HEARTS TO THE LORD

In the following YouTube musical meditations, listen “with the ear of your heart.” Block out words and just sit on a park bench in the dead of winter and wait for your heart to prepare the way for the Lord. Just listen.

Lamb of God
Come, Holy Spirit
Hail, Star of the Sea

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

CHAPTER 4: CONVERSION FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE

55 Listen readily to holy reading,
56 and devote yourself often to prayer.
57 Every day with tears and sighs, confess your past sins to God in prayer
58 and change from these evil ways in the future.

https://christdesert.org/prayer/rule-of-st-benedict/chapter-4-the-tools-for-good-works/

This passage is from the Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter 4, lines 57-58. In the smugness of my thinking I know it all about God, the Holy Spirit reminds me several times a day how far I actually am from “Having in me the mind of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5) As my awareness of the practices and charisms of Cistercian spirituality slowly sink in because of my presence to Christ through the Holy Spirit, nuggets of inspiration rain down on me, most of which I let pass me by, but this morning I happened to grab one because it was actually an emotional experience that I have been having for the past ten (or is it eleven) years. Allow me to share this with you.

Of late, I have been focusing on seeking God every day as the possibility of the manifestibility of all being encountered. End of the world? Nothing changes. COVID 19? No problem. It is what it is, and I must integrate it into the worldview that makes up who I am. The accumulated life experiences allow me to grow in capacity for having God increase while my false self decreased. This is conversatio morae or conversion of life. It is at the center of my personal purpose in life, but it is also the central purpose in reality– to change from where I am to where I want to be, and that being more than I was before. I have the ability to reason, something all other animal species do not have. Is this just a freak accident of nature that humans slipped through the barrier holding back animality from rationality? Maybe? But just maybe it is God’s DNA to move towards being more than we were before that humans latched onto in their desire to survive. I know that I have reason and the freedom to make choices about what lies before me. Choice defines who I am. Bad choices mean bad views of who I am and false paths that lead to uselessness. “The wages of sin,” says Scripture, “is death.” Spirituality is all about choices. Basically, I see two choices: do what my heart tells me is right for me, what is logical, what love is, what makes me happy now, what society tells me is of value, or, do what my heart tells me what is right, based on my choice to “Have in me the mind of Christ Jesus.” The center for this last choice is outside of me, and I make a conscious decision not to listen to my heart or emotions but rather to confess that Jesus is Messiah, Son of God, Savior, so that I might come to believe in his name and have life forever. (John 20-30-31).

Consistent with human nature, not all my choices are good ones (based on God’s love) nor are all of them bad ones (based on my own sinfulness). Again, St. Benedict points out in Chapter 4:

41 Place your hope in God alone.
42 If you notice something good in yourself, give credit to God, not to yourself,
43 but be certain that the evil you commit is always your own and yours to acknowledge.

https://christdesert.org/prayer/rule-of-st-benedict/chapter-4-the-tools-for-good-works/

The gap between who I am and who I want to become in Christ Jesus is at the heart of conversion each day. This brings me back to the first quote: “7 Every day with tears and sighs confess your past sins to God in prayer 58 and change from these evil ways in the future.” Even those choices I made to convert myself from the evil I commit and laid at the feet of Christ to ask for mercy, I don’t get rid of those in my lifespan. I am forgiven and may think that I have converted myself to Christ, but there is a problem. I still have the residual of that imperfection, that false self in my mind, and I can’t get rid of it. It is part of who I am.

What being a Lay Cistercian and following the Rule of St. Benedict and Cistercian practices and charisms to the best of my ability based on not being in a monastery or following a schedule of prayer and penance has taught me is to continue to repent for past sins and failings as part of my conversio morae. I find myself using these past failures and sinfulness to motivate me to change from my present evil ways to Christ’s through the Holy Spirit. I share my experiences during the past ten or so years when looking at past sins and failures.

That I am a failure is no surprise. Only Jesus and the Blessed Mother were free from Original Sins but allowed themselves to experience the effects of the sin of Adam. The accumulated failures and sins we have to make up who we are, along with all those times we rise above our animal and secular nature to complete the will of God on earth as it is in Heaven. I have been waking up at night shouting, “No! No!” When I processed this, I thought about a real person I encountered in the past and how terrible I treated them. I wanted to tell them how sorry I was for being so boorish and unchristlike. This was not just a bad dream; I actually felt remorse and sorrow for treating various people, and I asked them to forgive me.

The Psalmist in Psalm 42 captures me groaning and remorse better than I can.

For the leader. A maskil of the Korahites.*

I

2As the deer longs for streams of water,a

so my soul longs for you, O God.

3My soul thirsts for God, the living God.

When can I enter and see the face of God?*b

4My tears have been my bread day and night,c

as they ask me every day, “Where is your God?”d

5Those times I recall

as I pour out my soul,e

When I would cross over to the shrine of the Mighty One,*

to the house of God,

Amid loud cries of thanksgiving,

with the multitude keeping festival.f

6Why are you downcast, my soul;

why do you groan within me?

Wait for God, for I shall again praise him,

my savior and my God.

II

7My soul is downcast within me;

therefore I remember you

From the land of the Jordan* and Hermon,

from Mount Mizar,g

8*Deep calls to deep

in the roar of your torrents,

and all your waves and breakers

sweep over me.h

9By day may the LORD send his mercy,

and by night may his righteousness be with me!

I will pray* to the God of my life,

10I will say to God, my rock:

“Why do you forget me?i

Why must I go about mourning

with the enemy oppressing me?”

11It shatters my bones, when my adversaries reproach me,

when they say to me every day: “Where is your God?”

12Why are you downcast, my soul,

why do you groan within me?

Wait for God, for I shall again praise him,

my savior and my God.

This groaning (No! No!) is my conversio morae, confessing my past sins and failings to God and asking for mercy. To receive mercy, I make amends for my insensitivities and rude treatment of people that is not consistent with “Love others as I have loved you.” The Lay Cistercian way of life, seeking God daily and praying for forgiveness and mercy, is a way I have found that channels my energies to long to be in the presence of Christ through the Holy Spirit.

When I experience these bouts of imperfections from the past, my continuous prayer is one asking God to be merciful to me, a sinner. I say it over and over and over. I ask the Holy Spirit that I require help and the energy of God. I rest in the peace of Christ, that which is not the absence of conflict as the world sees it, but the presence of God and other believers.

LEARNING POINTS

Conversio morae are converting the present and including those sins and failures of the past that are part of who you are.

Conversio morae is at the heart of the Heart of Christ as practiced in Lectio Divina.

I only have responsibility for converting one person each day and that is me.

IT IS MERCY I SEEK, NOT SACRIFICE.

Holy Mother's Center

Mystical Death and Resurrection.*1If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.a2Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.3For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.b4When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.

Renunciation of Vice.*5Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly:c immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry.*6Because of these the wrath of God* is coming [upon the disobedient].d7By these you too once conducted yourselves, when you lived in that way.8But now you must put them all away:* anger, fury, malice, slander, and obscene language out of your mouths.e9Stop lying to one another, since you have taken off the old self with its practicesf10* and have put on the new self, which is being renewed, for knowledge, in the image of its creator.g11Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian,* slave, free; but Christ is all and in all.h12Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,i13bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.j14And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection.k15And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful.l16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.m17And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.n

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

Read the Scriptures from Collossians 3 and measure that against the controvery of whitholding receiving Holy Communion from selected officials who do not follow the teachings of the Church Universal.

When I read these passages and thought about it, this is what I received from the Holy Spirit. A caution: I do not speak for the Holy Spirit nor do I content that what I received, I received correctly because of my sinfulness and imperfections. My Lectio Divina meditations are shaped around the one passage from Philippians 2:5, “Have in you the mind of Christ Jesus.” You make your own judgements.

  1. The Bishop in each diocese is the supreme teacher in the Faith and must safeguard his charges from false teachings and false promises from the World. The bishop, in turn, must be one with the tradition of the Church Universal and be the visible person of Christ for those who gather together in faith to glorify the Father. Where the bishop is, as the ancient saying goes, there is the Church. He has the obligation to identify what is correct and to correct those who fail to believe in the truth, protecting the faithful from false teachers and those who would lead others astray by permissive and promiscuous behaviors. He has the authority to deny the sacraments to those who seek
  2. Christ taught us to seek mercy for our own failings and faults (and sins) by forgiving those we contact each day.
  3. Although the bishop unquestionably has the right to deny the Eucharist publically to individuals, I ask for mercy for the politicians and others who “do not know what they are doing”. Each of us will answer for our actions (or lack of action), as found in Matthew 25.
  4. The notion of fairness comes into play here, too. If you deny the Eucharist to a public person who is against the Churches’ stance on protecting the unborn, you must be fair about it and deny it to all. This means most politicians who are in office would be denied Eucharist, most Supreme Court Justices and Federal judges, most state and local politicians who are Catholic and do not hold what the Church says is social justice, most of the faithful (70% according to the Pew Survey) who do not believe in the Real Presence, all those clergy (Pope, Cardinals, Bishops, Priests, Deacons) who are in the state of mortal sin and yet perform the Eucharist. That leaves all of us unworthy.
  5. So, what’s a bishop to do? Be strong in your own Faith, seek mercy for yourself first, then for those of your charge. Be a good teacher of the traditions of the Church, clearly and without reservation stating what is just and true. Let individuals judge themselves against the heart of Christ as to what is true. Be patient with misguided actions but never condone evil. Everyone will be accountable. No one escapes the judgement of Christ, not priest pedophiles, nor anyone who condones abortion or other faults and failings.

In the end, fifty to one hundred years from now, no one will remember anything about these things, or the truth will be so distorted that no one will even remember the names involved. What does remain in Christ in each age in the Church Universal with it guardian and advocate the Holy Spirit helping others pick up the pieces left from others’ abandoning Christ’s way, truth and life, in favor of their choices to do what is easy rather than what is difficult.

May God have mercy on all of us as we stumble our way to forever.

ACCESSING THE HOLY SPIRIT THROUGH LECTIO DIVINA

If would be nice, if you want to talk to the Holy Spirit all that you need to do is make a phone call or Email. For humans, that would be nice, but the Holy Spirit is not limited to human convention. Instead, there is an interior way to access the Holy Spirit, one over which you have no control but never the less one which works every time. You simply sit in the presence of Christ in the silence and solitude of your heart and wait.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that you need to find some bat cave somewhere to seek silence and solitude. The cave where you should look is in your heart, the one place humans fear to look. The one place where the presence of Christ dwells just for you. Christ is everywhere, that is true, but when you take the living Lord into your heart in the Eucharist, you become like that which is greater. Divinity is greater than humanity, just like humanity is greater than animality, and animality is greater than the physical world of gases and the periodic table. Accessing Christ and the Holy Spirit is what any spirituality or spiritual system is about (Dominican, Jesuit, Cistercian, Basilian, Benedictine, Carthusian, Franciscan, Augustinian, to name but a few).

I would like to share with you several types of Lectio Divina practices that I have done and still do in my quest to “have in me the mind of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5)

I. TRADITIONAL LECTIO DIVINA Brother Michael, O.C.S.O., our instructor in the Juniorate of Lay Cistercians of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery (Trappist), taught us about Lectio Divina in one of his classes. Among the many insightful ideas he shared was that Lectio does not need to be limited to the four steps of Guido II, (lectio, meditatio, oratio, and ultimately, comtemplatio). https://thecenterforcontemplativepractice.org/2017/08/26/guidos-ladder-to-heaven/ Brother Michael told our group that Lectio can be done in bursts, or one set, or other ways to place yourself in the presence of Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Let me offer you some YouTube videos on Lectio Divina.

Be conscious that any of this practices are useful to allow you to access the Sacred. They are not ends in themselves.

II. EXPANDED LECTIO DIVINA — Pope Benedict XVI expanded the four steps of the normal ladder to include a fifth one, Actio or action. This approach, which I use the most, takes Lectio from being just an interior transformation to include an external one. As Scripture says:

14You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.j15Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, giving light to all in the house.k16Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father. l

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

I try to write down as many of my Lectio Divina meditations as I can remember. This is my ACTIO part of Lectio Divina.

III. LECTIO DIVINA SERIES OF MEDITATIONS –– Another way that I have been using, as of late, is taking my Lectio Divina (always Philippians 2:5) and doing a series of Lectio over four or five days all clustered around a theme. If you access my blog site https://thecenterforcontemplativepractice.org, you will be able to read my Lectio experiences for the last two weeks, all centered around the theme of The Divina Equation. These blogs are like chapters in the book I am writing about The Divine Equation and how the Christ Principle is central to discovering resonance in reality. Resonance means everything fits together according to its nature. Sin is a word that I use to describe dissonance or something that does not fit into God’s will for us.

IV. LECTIO DIVINA USING JUST ONE SCRIPTURE PASSAGE –– Lectio Divina is a method of reading Scripture that takes a passage from any biblical text and slowly reads and rereads that sentence or phrase to discover the depths of the meaning. I use only one passage from Scripture, which I have practiced, sometimes more successfully than others, since 1964. My personal center of life is Philippians 2:5 “have in you the mind of Christ Jesus.” Over the years, I close my eyes, think of myself on a park bench in the middle of winter, and just wait. If I talk, God cannot, so I try to keep my mouth and heart still and silent. Jesus and the Holy Spirit, our two Advocates, have been with me all along. It is I who must wait for my heart to be open to the coming of Christ in humility and truth.

V. LECTIO DIVINA IN A GROUP– This is a new modification for me. If there is a group of three or four people, I would ask someone to come up with a Scripture passage (sentence or phrase) and then have the group meditate on that Lectio for five to fifteen minutes. Listen with the ear of the heart, as St. Benedict advocates in the Prologue to his Rule. Then, share what the Holy Spirit is prompting you to say, or just say nothing or pass. It is like a Quaker prayer meeting. The one who identified the Lectio leads the group in prayer to activate what they have experienced in their minds, on their lips, and in their hearts. Another fifteen minutes takes all this and just waits for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Retire in silence.

Lectio Divina is not limited to Benedictines or Cistercian spirituality, far from it. If you Google Lectio Divina, you will see many URLs from Jesuits, Methodists, Franciscans, and many more spiritual methodologies. All good, all with the purpose of accessing the Holy Spirit and Jesus.

MY GOALS FROM NOW UNTIL FOREVER

GOALS FROM NOW UNTIL THEN

I have compiled a list of several things I want to accomplish before I move realities. Here they are in no order of importance. I have a bucket list (hopefully one without holes.) Do you remember the song about the hole in the bucket? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijc1eJVR9Qw

  1. Each day, as I begin my day with the sign of the cross on my forehead, offer it for the honor and glory of God and in reparation for my sins.
  2. Each day, I write down my three or four mini-Lectio Divina sessions with the Holy Spirit on my blog.
  3. Each day, I read Chapter 4 of the Rule of St. Benedict with the hope that I might become what I read.
  4. Each day, I seek God wherever I am and as I am.
  5. Fix my residence with senior aides for railings and bathroom fixtures from VA.
  6. Decide to live in this residence until I expire.
  7. Install a solar panel roof to make us energy independent.
  8. Continue to be a part of the Lay Cistercians of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery (Trappist) as long as I am lucid (hopefully for a long time).
  9. Attend my Class of 1966 reunion this year at Brown County State Park, Indiana, on August 3-5, 2021. www.saintmeinrad.edu
  10. Complete the manuscripts for the following books:
  11. The Art of Contemplative Practice (50% completed)
  12. The Divine Equation (98% completed)
  13. The Five Storey Church (30% completed)

One of the things that keep my mind from atrophying is to write down my Lectio Divina experiences so that you might read them. Whatever I link to the honor and glory of God, I can take with me to heaven, be it a sunset, the fresh smell of rain, the relationships I make along the way.

Pray for me through, with, and in Christ to the glory of the Father.

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LECTIO DIVINA FOR AN EIGHT + YEAR OLD LAY CISTERCIAN

These days, it is successful in waking up and say Praise to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit now and forever. The God who is, who was, and who is to come at the end of the ages. –Cistercian doxology. Today was one of those days. My Lectio has been four days in the making. No, I did not forget to write it down, as I usually do, but this time, I could not remember the thoughts the Holy Spirit thought I should consider in my Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5). I tried for four days to remember that idea that, at the time, I swore to myself that I would never forget (reminds me of what Peter said to Christ in Mark 14.) If you looked at the title, you saw an eight-year-old Lay Cistercian. My chronological age is over 80+, but my Lay Cistercian age is only eight-plus years (or is it seven?).

Peter’s Denial Foretold.*27Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will have your faith shaken, for it is written:

‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be dispersed.’h28But after I have been raised up, I shall go before you to Galilee.”29Peter said to him, “Even though all should have their faith shaken, mine will not be.”30Then Jesus said to him, “Amen, I say to you, this very night before the cock crows twice you will deny me three times.”31But he vehemently replied, “Even though I should have to die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all spoke similarly.

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

I am just like Peter in my Faith. Good intentions, strong enough in my own mind, but then I strip over the shoelaces of my own fallibility in my resolve. Each day, I must begin anew. So, four days ago, I naturally forgot my Lectio Divina, the one which I always resolved to remember, within ten seconds of thinking of it. I only remember it four days later because the Holy Spirit wanted me to do so. So, here is what I forgot, and you make your own conclusions. Remember, in all my blogs, I don’t speak for the Holy Spirit but only share what I can remember that the Holy Spirit saw fit to share with me in Lectio Divina meditations and sometimes contemplation.

Of late, I have been romancing the ideas of the polarities of resonance and dissonance. These ideas help me get some kind of grasp on the enormity of God’s grandeur, but do not describe God’s nature.

THE WONDER OF GOD’S RESONANCE AND THE CONSEQUENCES OF DISSONANCE

St. John writes that “in the beginning was the Word.

1 In the beginning* was the Word,

and the Word was with God,

and the Word was God.a

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

I keep wondering what that Word is, realizing that it is God. I think that God was there before any atoms existed or there was time itself. I asked myself What is this Word? The Word must be something like:

  • Yes
  • Let it be so or make it so (Capt. Picard to Number One).
  • Be it done unto me according to Your Word.
  • Amen

FIRST EPOCH OF TIME: The Birth of Time until the Birth of Christ

The Word contains God’s DNA (that which is pure energy, pure love, pure service, 100% of its divine nature). It overshadows all that is. All that is contains the imprint of God’s nature on it. The Word means intelligence, love, and activity (service). The Word does not have a beginning nor an ending. It just is. The Word “Yes” began all that has a beginning nor an ending. Time, the physical universe, every atom, the minute world of quarks and muons, everything in this Epoch, has some characteristics of its Creator, the Word.

Characteristics

Arguably, my assumption is that there are two universes in this first epoch of time, the physical universe and the mental universe.

The physical universe contains everything we experience (all the galaxies, energy, matter, time itself). A living being is contained in this universe, including humans as animals, before being lifted up to a higher level or universe, which I characterize as the mental universe. Only humans live in this level of existence, despite individuals only living seventy or eighty years if they are strong.

Genesis is an archetypal story about this first epoch. This story is about resonance before the Fall and dissonance for human nature after the Fall. We call that dissonance Original Sin because humanity missed the mark of what God intended for us.

Using the anthropomorphic representations of God (God takes on human form in these stories), humans try to explain why human nature seems to be so full of problems (we have to die, we have to suffer, some people kill us and seem to get away with murder, we have no hope of living forever). The context of Chapters 2-3 of Genesis is a garden (not a farm which would denote work). Thus, Genesis answers the question, If God is so good, why would he permit little children to die and those with cancer to die early?

It goes like this: God prepared a place in a garden and created Adam to tend the garden. God made Eve a helper because the job needed someone with sensitivity and a sense of beauty. God told Adam and Eve that they had total responsibility for this garden to do what they wanted, except to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. If they ate that fruit, they would die. Like telling a child not to eat cookies in the pantry, you know what happened. Genesis is a great commentary on why humans find themselves in such a mess. Adam and Eve ate the fruit because the snake in the grass (Satan, who was jealous that he was the only one to have denied God) seduced them into wanting to be God. Immediately, things changed. Now, humans will have to work for their food instead of God providing everything they need. Humans have reason and free will to do what is right. It is all about choices. Choosing what God says is the way, the truth, life, or what Adam and Eve choose is authentic living.

If the Word created everything with a YES, then Adam and EVE destroyed trust and the correct disposition of resonance in creation with a NO. NO is a blocking word. You might be wondering, as I did, why all of this took so long from Creation of Matter to the Dissonance of the Mind and choice. Humans were still free to choose what was right or wrong after the Fall but had only themselves as guides to what it would take to restore resonance. Humanity tried and tried but could not, with only human nature, bridge the gap between divine and human natures. For lack of a better term, people called this dissolution by the name Original Sin. It is a key concept in the flow of time toward possible resolution. The whole of the Old Testament is about one people Israel being the seedbed of eventual reunification between God and humans. They were being tested to see if humanity would be suitable to pick up the clues left by the Prophets and events in the history of a people moving from being wandering Armenians to a people who would keep God’s covenant.

The Old Testament is no different than in the time of Christ and the founding of the Church on Pentecost. Peoples and false teachers want to make God into their image and likeness over and over.

THE SECOND EPOCH OF TIME: The Birth of Christ, the Christ Principle, until the birth of the Church.

Only God could give humans The Divine Equation and how to move to their next level of evolution. This level is not automatic since it begins with Baptism and my realization that I am an adopted son (daughter) of the Father. Natural evolution still continues in the physical universe (decay), moving from everything that has to begin and end through the mental universe, which keeps accumulating knowledge collectively and individually. The third universe began with the Christ Principle (birth, teaching, the mission of Christ, teaching the Apostles and disciples that they must love others as He loves us, healing those sick in mind and spirit, passion, death, resurrection, ascension, and finally, sending the Second Advocate, the Holy Spirit on all those who lived and come to believe that Jesus is Messiah, Son of God, Savior.)

THIRD EPOCH OF TIME: The birth of the Church at Pentecost until the end of time. Another paradox of the sign of contradiction is that Christ entrusted his Church to sinful Adam and Eve. It is like saying, let’s get it right this time. It is even more fantastical that, knowing what would actually happen to the Church as it tried to live out that one command, “Love one another as I have loved you.” I encourage you to read the total passage below to get the feel of what the author wants us to bring inside us and make part of our way of listening to Christ “with the ear of the heart:. (Prologue to the Rule). The whole purpose of the Church is to be present to the Holy Spirit so that the teachings of The Master become a way of thinking, a way of acting so that we can “have in us the mind of Christ Jesus.” Whoever is the branch of this Vine is a sinner, one affected by the sin of Adam and Eve, yet entrusted with bringing the Good News to future generations.

The Vine and the Branches.1* “I am the true vine,* and my Father is the vine grower.a2 He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes* so that it bears more fruit.3 You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.b4 Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. 6*c Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned.7 I f you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.d 8By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.e9 As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love.f10If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.g11 “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.h12 This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.i13* No one has greater love than this,j to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.15 I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends,* because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.k16It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.l17This I command you: love one another.m

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/john/15

Characteristics

This Church is a living branch with Christ as the Vine and the Holy Spirit, the roots in the soil of time and space.

This Church began with Pentecost and will last forever, beyond the end of time. As such, it begins in space and time and continues on in the spiritual universe in Heaven.

The Church is one, holy, catholic and apostolic.

The Church Universal are all those who have died and rest in the peace of Christ; those who still await their judgment while continuing on earth; and those who are in penance for their sins and await their acceptance into Heaven.

Outside the Church, there is no salvation.

The Church wrote down the activities and sayings of Jesus for subsequent generations. There were lots of stories written down about Jesus, says St. John (John 20:30-31).

Conclusion.*30Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of [his] disciples that are not written in this book.s31But 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

FOURTH EPOCH OF TIME: From the time you are physically born until you accept your adoption as a son or daughter of the Father in Heaven. Your world began with your birth into the physical universe and mental universes. You did not ask to be born and will only survive if your parents care for you. You are the only you in all of creation and you have reason for a reason plus the ability to choose what is good for you. The spiritual universe begins for you when you are baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. After that, you spend the rest of your life struggling to keep yourself centered on Jesus. Original Sin is the condition that causes our centers to wobble and sometimes completely disappear if we don’t remain diligent.

Characteristics

The Church helps each individual to seek God daily. When two or three are gathered in His name, there Christ is in their midst.

This is not a gathering of individuals with no purpose. There is One Lord, One Baptism, One Faith,.

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,a2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love,b3 striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace:c4* one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call;d5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism;e6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.f

My spiritual journey is not one in the vacuum of time. Still, I freely gather together with others bearing the sign of contradiction (+) to give glory to the Father through, with, and in the Son, in unity with the Holy Spirit.

THE DIVINE EQUATION: HOW AN END-USER USES THE FORMULA FOR FOREVER TO GROW FROM SELF TO GOD

I must take this opportunity to remind you once again that these ideas are just the reflections of a broken-down, old temple of the Holy Spirit trying to make sense out of the physical universe, the mental universe, and also the spiritual universe. The Divine Equation is the end result of a lifetime of searching for the truth, a way that leads to fulfillment as a human being and the purpose of life. These blogs on The Divine Equation set forth my attempts to use what I think God has revealed through Jesus Christ, the Messiah, to help all of us make the transition from our seventy or eighty years on this earth to forever. I believe there is a formula for forever that Christ came to give us from God or the Divine Nature. It makes sense to me that God would have to reveal this equation to humans, despite our inability to fully comprehend why this is happening.

A further refinement of this revelation that human reasoning and free will could not formulate is the two notions of resonance and dissonance. The application of the Divine Equation to all reality is cosmic resonance and the natural order of acting according to the norms of its nature. It sounds theoretical, but it is actually meant to be used to help each individual move from rationality to the profound spirituality afforded to those who use it–cosmic resonance.

God is pure energy, which has dimensions of pure knowledge, pure love, and pure service as the divine equivalent to nuclear fusion that sustains itself forever. Pure energy is only a human way to think about reality so far beyond us that what is true in the Kingdom of Heaven is the opposite of what is here on earth. There is an added dimension to God, that of not existing in space nor time nor matter, nor a universe that has a beginning nor an end. All of this is quite unbelievable, yet the Christ Principle and the Divine Equation all point to it as the sign of contradiction, one where what does not make sense with human reasoning alone, yet is possible using the assumptions and applications Christ taught us using Faith informed with reason.

AN END USER TRIES TO APPROACH THE DIVINE EQUATION

I have given up on trying to define God using any human analogies nor languages. Even when Christ revealed the Divine Equation, people did not know what he was talking about, so He had to show them how to use it. Scriptures are those stories, similes, parables, gospels, and letters that other people wrote about what Jesus said and did so that we might “come to believe” that Jesus is Messiah and that believing might have eternal life. (John 20:30-31) No matter what their intelligence or background, each person must solve the Divine Equation to move to the next level of human evolution. In my Lectio Divina reflections, the Holy Spirit gave me six questions I must answer before I die to be fully human. Each human gets the opportunity to solve the mystery. Still, not everyone knows or even cares about a Divine Equation, much less moving forward in human evolution from rationality to spirituality. There is no free ride or conveyor belt that we get on at birth and get off when we die. Humans have reason for a reason and choose what they reason that be good for them.

The Divine Equation means that, to find fulfillment as a human being, to move to the next level of our natural progression, there is a process to follow. It is only by an act of the will, each person having the choice to move forward or not, that individuals can enter the spiritual universe. The Divine Equation is what God told all humans, providing them with both the questions to ask and the correct answers that allow us to unlock the mystery of faith enough to begin the process of moving from our false self to our true self.

What follows are the results of my Lectio Divina encounters with the Holy Spirit. The Divine Equation has a formula that I use to place myself in the presence of the Trinity. God became human to show us how to use the Divine Equation to our advantage. At the same time, it can be as simple as just sitting in the back of the Church and praying the Lectio Divina meditations, without any concerns about the complexity of the Divine Equation. At the same time, it can be so complex that I reflect on each of the six steps that the Holy Spirit revealed needed to be in the presence. This is where the Christ Principle comes into play. With Christ, simplicity and complexity are all contained in one reality, and it is the disposition and intention of the individual to approach the Sacred that makes us different. I may be different from one week to the next, or I may be the same. It doesn’t matter when I have the Christ Principle as my key to opening the Divine Equation each day. With, and In Christ Jesus each day, I seek God as I am and where I am.

The Six Questions I Must attempt to ask and answer correctly each day: How I use the Divine Equation formula to move from self to God. Remember, there are only two ways I can look at reality, both of which assume that I am the center of the universe (my seventy or eighty years on earth).

I. I am my own principle to interpret reality with the sum total of all that I am as a filter for what is good for me. I choose myself as god.

II. I am the center of my universe, but I choose to make Christ the principle with the sum total of all that He is as the basis for what is good for me. I choose a power outside of me as God. This is the North on my compass of life, the center of all reality, the purpose of my humanity, my destiny as an adopted son (daughter) of the Father. It is the resonance to the dissonance of Original Sin, the divine energy to sustain me now and in the life to come.

  1. What is the purpose of life? Based on this second choice above, I seek the purpose of life outside of myself. God gives me the purpose of all life (not my life, number two below), and there are consequences if I do not use them correctly. Like getting a speeding ticket, ignorance of the law is no excuse for not knowing the law. If I don’t know God’s purpose in life, there are consequences for my actions. I will ultimately answer to God for all my choices. They are contained in both the Old and New Testaments as the very center of who God is.

1This then is the commandment, the statutes and the ordinances, a which the LORD, your God, has commanded that you be taught to observe in the land you are about to cross into to possess,2so that you, that is, you, your child, and your grandchild, may fear the LORD, your God, by keeping, as long as you live, all his statutes and commandments which I enjoin on you, and thus have long life.3Hear then, Israel, and be careful to observe them, that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly; for the LORD, the God of your ancestors, promised you a land flowing with milk and honey.c

The Great Commandment.*4d Hear, O Israel!* The LORD is our God, the LORD alone!5Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God, with your whole heart, and with your whole being, and with your whole strength.e6f Take to heart these words which I command you today.g7Keep repeating them to your children. Recite them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you get up.h8Bind them on your arm as a sign* and let them be as a pendant on your forehead.i9Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates.j

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/deuteronomy/6

The Greatest Commandment.*28 One of the scribes,i when he came forward and heard them disputing and saw how well he had answered them, asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?”29 Jesus replied, “The first is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone!30 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’j31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”k32 The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, ‘He is One and there is no other than he.’ 33 And ‘to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself’ is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”l34 And when Jesus saw that [he] answered with understanding, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And no one dared to ask him any more questions.m

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/matthew/22

Remember, the purpose of life contains the physical universe, the mental universe, and the spiritual universe. The two citations from Scripture above are almost identical. The core of who we are as a collective species is built around a purpose outside of ourselves, the Divine Equation. God is number one, and everything and everyone else is number two. Christ told us that our priority should be to seek the kingdom of heaven, and all else will be given to us. What does this say about God? God shared what is at the center of who He is. This sharing is the product of pure love, which is pure service. With this purpose, this first of the six elements of the Divine Equation, we have a purpose in life, one that exists in three universes simultaneously, the physical universe, the mental one, and the last part of our human evolution, the spiritual universe. Read this scripture, not just for knowledge, but listen with “the ear of your heart” to what God speaks through these words of wisdom.

Dependence on God.*25n “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?26Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they?o27 Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?*28 Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wildflowers grow. They do not work or spin.29 But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them.30* If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?31 So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/matthew/6

LEARNING POINTS

Because God is one, and that is all there is, so to is the purpose of life. God created life from the fulness of his nothingness which left all matter and time with the mark of his DNA, an indelible mark moving forward with the progression of all that is.

The purpose is life is one.

Humans have developed reason and the ability to choose outside their animality those values they think are good for them. These choices all have consequences. All humans are accountable to God for all of these choices.

Humans get to choose the purpose of life and then use their choices to define who they are. The problem comes because some choices are not good for us, even though we think they are.

Humans only live seventy or eighty years if they are strong and have that amount of time to discover their purpose.

This purpose comes from a power outside of themselves and comes to those Baptized in water and the spirit. This purpose is love, shared by God to all humans.

This purpose means God wants me to be an adopted son (or daughter) of the Father and inherit the kingdom just for me. Jesus Christ, Son of God, is my personal savior for this reason. I must respond to this purpose by doing for others what Christ did for me, to love God with all my heart, with all my mind, and with all my strength, and to love others as myself. (Matthew 22:32)

This purpose is why I am a Lay Cistercian, a special way to allow me to be present to Christ through Cistercian practices and charisms.

When I take this purpose seriously as an end-user of the Divine Equation, everything I think (knowledge), everything I hope for (love), and everything I do because of that love is aimed at becoming less of my false self and to have in me the mind of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5).

This purpose is God’s gift of energy and presence to me, but only inso far as I can receive it.

This first step in the Divine Equation leads to another step.

II. What is the purpose of my life? Based on the correct choice of the purpose of life, I can now answer the second part of the formula, or what my purpose in life will look like within God’s purpose? Once more, I seek the purpose of my life outside of myself. In this second element, I get to use my human reasoning and my ability to choose what is good for me to define what my personal life is all about. My human reason encounters its second problem: anything human cannot lift up my nature to the next level of its evolution. God comes to the rescue once more, lifting up my animality from the dirt to sentient life. My humanity was tainted by the wrong choice of Adam and Eve to want to be God, the same choice made by Lucifer, the fallen Archangel. Some call that The Fall, but it more like a wall, a barrier that prevents us from reaching our intended destiny to be with God. The Genesis Principle caused everything in the universe of the mind to change. This Original Sin of Adam and Eve had consequences that endure today. Jesus is the second Adam and the only one with the power to lift up all of humanity from the darkness of Original Sin to the next level of their evolution. But there is a caveat, I must deny myself of being the center of the universe and accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. I still keep my reasoning and my ability to choose, but when I choose Jesus as the one center in my life, I have made the correct choice that will move me from just having meaning and purpose as the world defines it to that of accepting the Word Made Flesh as my personal purpose. I measure myself against this purpose, Philippians 2:5, each morning and seek to be less while Christ becomes more in me.

If I choose an unauthentic answer to this first question, everything else follows the wrong assumption and will not be in sync or in resonance. When the answers to any of the six elements of the formula are not authentic, nothing makes sense of life. This is what Saint Augustine meant when he made the statement: “our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.” God gives us the questions to ask and provides a divine answer with which we can achieve resonance with the physical, mental and spiritual universes.

LEARNING POINTS

  • Adam and Eve knew that they were naked.
  • They had to learn the hard way and not with infused knowledge from God.
  • The pain came into the world.
  • Sin (acting not according to your intended nature) came into the world.
  • Humans were still good but wounded. This wound was a thorn in their flesh, ones they had to endure during their short lifetimes.
  • Our choices were expanded to include all the emotions and desires that harm us.
  • We had to work to keep our spirituality against the daily temptations of Satan and the secular world.
  • Freedom to choose what we want supplanted freedom to choose what is right (God’s law of the universe).
  • God had to become human to take on the world’s sin and tear down the wall between divinity and humanity. With all the sophistication of their human nature, humans did not have the power to lift all of us out of Original Sin, the one that kept that wall between God and us. Luckily, we had an advocate to help us.
  • Consistent with this first element of the equation, God loved us so much and wanted us to share Who He Is that He sent His Only Begotten Son to become one us, Jesus the Christ. (Philippians 2:5-12)
  • Christ tore down the wall that humans had built, but the effects of Original Sin would persist, and we would have to struggle each day to keep ourselves centered.
  • This second part of the equation is about my choice to join with the choice of Jesus Christ to do those things that help me love others as He has loved us.
  • To do that, each of us, and me in particular, must choose a center of my life that, if I took it away, my whole foundation for meaning would disintegrate.
  • My center is taken from Philippians 2:5, those eight words that go: “have in you the mind of Christ Jesus.”
  • Once I am Baptized, my struggle against the world begins. I am a pilgrim in a foreign land, with a foreign language and customs I don’t like. I must survive using the spiritual universe.
  • I must struggle my whole life to protect my baptismal commitment from rusting away in the air of the secular world.
  • Jesus lifted me up from Original Sin’s dirt to shake off Adam’s dirt (Adama) and wash me with the water love and the Holy Spirit. I am not rotten in my nature but merely dusty and need the daily energy of Christ to keep me centered. The Sacraments are ways to keep clean (make all things new), feed me, and prepare to pack for the trip forever.
  • I must seek the help of others (the Church Universal) to join with me and do what Christ told us to do (good works for others).
  • St. Benedict, Chapter 4 of his Rule, gives tools for good works that we must do to prepare our minds and hearts to be present to the heart of Christ.
  • Nothing depends on me. Everything depends on me making a choice to sit in the presence of Christ and keep my mouth shut and listen.
  • My center is Philippians 2:5. You might have a different center. I call my center The Christ Principle because as the One Lord of Salvation, everything flows into and out of Him to the glory of the Father with the power of the Holy Spirit, One yet Three Persons (not three separate Gods). As a puny human, all I do is tag along, except that I am an adopted son (daughter) of the Father with a profound dependence on God to keep me safe and secure.

III. What does reality look like? This might not be the topic of discussion when thinking about Aaron Rodgers trying to discern where his future in the NFL might be. Still, there are consequences for not asking this question and receiving authentic answers consistent with the first two questions. So far, I have asked two questions about purpose, God’s purpose for me and my response to that purpose. The next step is to try to figure out how I can view reality in such a way that I live our purpose. My problem is that I live in the context of Original Sin, which is another way of saying I must work to keep my Baptismal promise from atrophying and dying. The World does not have the power to do that for me. I must move to the next phase of my evolution: an adopted son (daughter) of the Father, where the kingdom, the power, and the glory are from God. I can access it through my two Advocates, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, but only if I have the eyes to see what cannot be seen using only the World’s spectacles.

Now that I know the purpose for my life from God and have accepted my personal purpose for my life by my choice, I come to the third question confronting all humans, what does reality look like. There are only two ways that I know how to look at reality.

DEEPER READING

The first way is with our base of the physical universe as my platform for existing plus the additional mental universe where I have reason to learn about the purpose of life, and then choose what I think is good for me. Some people call this The World, or Secular Reality.

The second option is for me to view all reality using three universes, the same two as above but an additional one that completes my purpose and helps me to fulfill the evolution of all humanity, the spiritual universe, sometimes called the Kingdom of Heaven. This universe is one where we can only enter with an act of our free will at the invitation of God. The Kingdom of Heaven begins when we are Baptized and accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. We humans, to be fully developed, must have a purpose that is at odds with the first two universes.

I use this concept of three universes to help me reflect on what is real that I can see and verify but also what I cannot see and approached by Faith informed by reason. One reality with three distinct universes is the paradigm to approach The Divine Equation. The more I think about how to “see” reality in three universes, the more I appreciate Cistercian spirituality that seeks God each day by “listening with the ear of the heart,” as St. Benedict challenges his followers to do in the Prologue to the Rule of Benedict. The Cistercian Way helps those who use it to seek answers to what is real inside of us by being present to the suggestions and overshadowing from the Holy Spirit.

Do you remember the passage in Scriptures where Christ is trying to do miracles but is unable to do so because of their lack of Faith?

The Rejection at Nazareth. 1a He departed from there and came to his native place,* accompanied by his disciples. 2* When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands? 3b Is he not the carpenter,* the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.4*c Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.”5 So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there,* apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/mark/6

When someone only believes there are two universes (physical and mental), their assumptions will be that reality is only what you can see, what you can prove, what is historically justified, and what makes sense to their understanding of human reasoning, and they would be correct. They will not be able to “see” spirituality because they do not believe in a dimension of reality containing the fulfillment of human evolution. Because they do not look for a spiritual universe as part of reality, scientists and secular humanists can find no truth here. This is the place the late Stephen Hawking could not look. He could not look there because of his lack of faith. His brilliance and contribution to science are not in question here. He was only observing and concluding from what he saw in two universes (physical and mental) but not three universes (physical, mental, and spiritual). Seeing, he could not see, and hearing he could not hear. He was limited because what Christ came to show us doesn’t make sense with mere human reasoning and free will. It is not a question of knowing that there is a third universe out there which fulfills the other two, but rather feeling it. Using the Divine Equation, what is real is what you can see, hear, taste, feel, and smell. What is essential to the heart is “invisible to the eye,” says the Fox to the Little Prince.

The Divine Equation is that what is real is revealed in the physical and mental universes through our human languages (science, literature, logic, patterns of comparative thinking, and national languages such as French, English, Spanish, etc…The Divine Equation is the fulfillment of first two universes with the addition of a spiritual universe with God telling us and showing us what the purpose of life is and how we fit into that.

The creation of the spiritual universe with the Christ Principle. This is the final evolution of humanity, the end-game for our race. Humans with our reasoning and the ability to choose would not be able to choose correctly just based on the Old Testament prophets and laws. In the Old Testament, God spoke through natural calamities and nature, guiding the people through time. God chose a covenant relationship with his chosen people and gave them laws to follow. Keeping God’s law was what cemented the covenant together and created a bond with an entire people. By itself, this would not be enough to establish the next level of our human evolution, that of having the possibility of being sons or daughters of the Father and inheriting the Kingdom of Heaven.

Philippians 2:5-12 is my favorite description of why God had to become one of us. We had to have someone point out the way, tell us the truth that the world could not do, and so give us life on earth so that we could prepare to inherit the Kingdom of the Father. Christ came to tell us, “don’t be afraid, just do what I do and seek first the Kingdom of Heaven (not the World) and you will be fine. And know, that I am with you until the end of time.”

THE RULE OF OPPOSITES

If I try to solve a mathematical formula, I must use the elements of that formula to fill in the blanks with real data. The reason Christ became one of us was to first, make it possible for us to be able to choose to enter the Spiritual Universe through Baptism, and then sustain ourselves as we appear in time (our brief eighty we appear on this earth) and have a chance to do what is right for our salvation rather what is easy. Jesus came to show us that, to solve the Divine Equation and fulfill the destiny of all humanity, we had to live in the physical universe with its rule of nature, then move to the mental universe of rationality with our ability to reason what is true and then make a choice for ourselves. What The Christ Principle showed us is that the third part of the Divine Equation, the Spiritual Universe, does not use the language of the physical or mental universes, despite our dependence on it for our survival. To solve this formula, I must enter the spiritual universe that has a measuring stick that is the opposite of the World.

Once I am baptized, everything in the world turns upside down. The Christ Principle is the only way to understand the Spiritual Universe, and admittedly, this does not make sense to the World. In my book on The Three Rules of the Spiritual Universe, one of those rules is called The Rule of Opposites. Remember, all I am writing about are the reflections of a Lay Cistercian as he looks at reality. Is this real? I don’t know. It is a way that I can make sense of all the theology and spiritual thinking that have swamped my life.

Using my idea about The Rule of Opposites, let me share an example of how an end-user would put all this together to make sense. I will use the one concept that is contained in all three universes (physical, mental, and spiritual), energy, and apply it to each universe.

Physical energy: We know about energy in the physical universe because we use the languages of the mental universe to view what is and make deductions and/or conclusions about what we discover. Human languages exist only in the mental universe, but the physical one is the subject of our science, logic, and the basis for us being able to know that we know. Physical energy is the result of a Word (John 1:1), one that said “Yes” to all that is, all the atoms, all the properties of matter, the mystery of physical time, and all life that we know about. This energy, in my, began with intelligence. I wasn’t there to see any of this happen, but I inherit the results of those gases, gravity, and the natural order of things that are because they are. This energy has a beginning and an ending. Everything in this paradigm corrupts or deteriorates. Humans are part of this universe is their evolution from the natural order of the progression of that first “Yes”. My own conclusion about the Divine Equation is that we were made from the nothingness of God, a concept we don’t even have a language to explain. This Divine Nature or Being left its imprint on all matter, time, space, and all living things in the form of DNA, causing all reality to move from simplicity to complexity.

Mental energy: We call this complexity the natural order of progression or evolution (correctly understood). Human bodies live in the Physical Universe, but with a difference. Only humans live in the mental universe, only mental thought and the accumulated experiences of humanity to be our living library. Why? Humans are the only species to have both human reasoning and also the ability to choose what they reason to live according to their nature, human nature. Animals have animal nature and are not capable of living in this universe. Individually, I have eighty years ( I am eighty years old) to figure out why I am here and how to sustain my life and fulfill it. My reason helps me find out what makes sense and what is real and what is not. In my particular lifetime, I use languages to help me, such as science, chemistry, physics, logic, religion, history, medicine, belonging to this or that organization, English, the Internet, YouTube, and so on. Language translates the physical universe into what is real and how it can be of benefit to me in my life. My choices in life all have consequences and I am largely defined by those things I choose that I consider good for me.

When I apply just these two universes of physical and mental, I term that what the World teaches. My question raised in my Lectio Divina meditation is, is that all there is to life? Humans do not always do what is best for us. To fulfill our destiny as humans, there must be more to life. Is this all there is to human evolution from nothingness to animality to rationality? It seems something is missing.

Mental energy is my ability to learn tapping into the the collective computer of human consciousness to ask questions about the make up of matter and the observable universe. The mind also has the ability to look at what is invisible and make conclusions, such as human love, the emotions, choices that are good for us but hurt others (murder, rape, pedophilia, stealing, lying, failure to have a center of your life that sustains you beyond your eighty years or so.) All of these behaviors come as a result of us choosing what we want, but what we want does not lead to being what propells us forward to our next step in our evolution, the spiritual universe).

Spiritual energy: Let’s summarize so far. Energy in the physical universe just is what it is according to the laws of nature and how the elements interact with each other. If you add the mental universe to the mix, energy is the power to know how the physical universe works. This universe has a choice for humans to study to find out the meaning of why something is or how it is composed: you can look at the physical universe, which is composed of matter, time, physical energy, all living creatures, or, you can look at the physical universe of the past using the full potential of science and logic, the mental universe which is the energy of the human mind, and with the addition of the spiritual universe, which looks to the future and to the fulfillment of human evolution.

Spiritual energy is not like nuclear fusion, or a hypernova explosion or a gamma ray burst, it is the energy of a Divine Nature whose power is the pure energy of being 100% of whatever that nature is. To say that it is off the scale energy would be incorrect, since we have no measuring stick to measure it much less explain what it is in human terms we can grasp. It is quite logical that God had to help our human nature to at least have some idea about the purpose for all humans is. The best way to do that was to send someone to tell us about it. All of the spirituality I hold as true has this at its core as stated in Philippians 2:5-15. This Scripture happens to be my personal center of all reality, the Christ Principle.

“If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by agreeing, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing.aDo nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, beach looking out not for his own interests, but [also] everyone for those of others.cHave among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus,*Who,* 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

11and every tongue confess that

Jesus Christ is Lord,*

to the glory of God the Father.i

Humans have a choice to enter the spiritual universe with the Baptismal moment. This begins a whole new journey towards their destiny as a human being, one of accepting God’s purpose in life as the North on our compass, one which has Jesus the Christ as not only our guide but as the “Word made flesh and dwelling among us.”

For me, as an individual who is living right now, at this moment, my choice is to ratify my promises that Jesus is The Christ Principle. Each day, with the help of my Lay Cistercian brothers and sisters, I renew my promise to center myself on Christ Jesus in whatever comes my way. I perform Cistercian practices (Eucharist, Eucharistic adoration, Lectio Divina, Rosary, Scriptural Reading, Reading from the Church Fathers and Mothers, and Penance. I do this, not as an individual, although I may be private in some of my devotions, but rather by being overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, the Lord, and Giver of Truth. The energy of the Spiritual Universe, the limitless love of the Father for the Son, which is so beyond description that it is a separate person, the Holy Spirit, yet only One God, propels me forward. Although I stumble and have faint resolve now and then, like St. Paul, I yearn for the finish line of the race of my life and obtaining the prize for winning my race.

The Spiritual Universe is love, but not theroetical love of the mind, sometimes called courtyly love in the Middle Ages, but rather the love where you sit on a park bench in the dead of Winter, freezing your tootsies off, waiting for Christ to come your way and to sit down and chat. It is that waiting that purifies your soul, the burning coal touched to the mouth to purify those that speak the Good News, the humility you have when you realize God has been there all along but it is you who have not shown up. With the contemplative approach to being in the presence of God, you must decrease while He increases, as St. John the Baptist proclaims.

There is one other important aspect to the Divine Equation as it pertains to The Rule of Opposites. When you enter the Kingdom of Heaven on earth at Baptism, everything turns upside down or is a sign of contradiction with the World you just left. The words you use now are with God’s assumptions for what they mean, not what you or the World says is true. Christ tells us, My peace I give you. Those who assume that reality is only composed of the physical and mental universes come from their inability to decipher the Divine Equation correctly.

Part One: What is contained in the physical universe is what it is according to its nature. What is contained in the mental universe is the ability to reason and choose as good what you have reasoned is true. What is contained in the spiritual universe is at odds intellectually with the physical and mental universes but may be experienced with the heart (love). Without help from God, human intelligence cannot lift itself up to the spiritual universe and fulfill its destiny as adopted sons and daughters of the Father.

Part Two: God became one of us (Jesus the Messiah) to tell us what that equation is and show us how to use it. To use the Divine Equation, you must use God’s rules and protocols, not human ones. The Divine Equation is about how to love others while on this earth to prepare ourselves to live what we loved in Heaven forever. Some ways of thinking have parts of this equation down, while others miss the mark completely. Humans have reasoning and the freedom to choose what they think is good for them (even if it is not) because God wants us totally free to discover His way, the truth, and live His life to help us reach our destiny as humans. Jesus left the Holy Spirit, who, remember, is the third person of the Blessed Trinity, to guide not only each age as they swerve down the pathway of existing but also each of us individually. We have reason for a reason, to be able to choose what is right versus what is just easy and convenient. Through the Church Universal, each individual is nurtured in what is right versus what might harm us (sin). We have the energy of Jesus to make all things new for us when we keep failing to love others as Christ loved us.

If you want a challenging yet awesome reading on all of this, read Gaudium et Spes, the Constitution on the Church in the Modern World. https://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/natural-family-planning/catholic-teaching/upload/Gaudium-et-Spes-NFP-Notes-on-Marriage.pdf

Using the sign of contradiction once more, if you think that all this is overly complex and too difficult to learn, think about Mrs. Murphy, the avatar of the late Father Aidan Kavanaugh, O.S.B. who told us in Sacramental Theology class that this lady who sat in the back bench of Church, head lowered, daring not to raise her eyes to the heavens, knew more than all the theologians who talk about The Divine Equation. She just wanted to sit next to Jesus on a park bench in the dead of winter and have a nice chat in her heart. God is as complex as we want Him to be but He is also simplicity itself.

  • LEARNING POINTS:
  • God allowed us to see what reality actually is through Jesus taking on our sinful nature, and not only that but by fulfilling the offering of Abraham’s son to God. The Lamb of God takes away the sin of the World and gives us the way, what is true versus with is just nice and convenient, and how to walk the way that leads to fulfilling our destiny as sons and daughters of the Father.
  • It makes a difference if you do not accept the spiritual universe to fulfill our human evolution.
  • The Divine Equation comes from God to humans to allow us to move to the next step in our development, heirs of the kingdom of heaven. Some people will get it, while it is a stumbling block and sheer folly for others.
  • There are three distinct universes (physical, mental, and spiritual) that makeup one reality.
  • The spiritual universe is a sign of contradiction between the physical and mental ones. It is the opposite of what the World teaches us as being the way, what is true, and the life we should pursue happiness.
  • Jesus became human nature to show us and tell us how to decipher this Divine Equation. (Philippians 2:5)
IV. HOW DOES IT ALL FIT TOGETHER?

This fourth question comes from Jesus, who not only tells us what to ask but shows us the answer in how we should behave (not as the world behaves). Galatians 5 is a good example of authentic love. Our behavior is to live according to the Spirit of Truth. In keeping with the Divine Equation, the answer comes from God but so does this part. It is pure energy, something that we know nothing about with current technologies or human reasoning. The Christ Principle is the one factor that makes sense of all reality if you plug it into this equation. Notice that we can’t capture it or contain this reality, but we can approach it using Christ as a mediator, translator, transistor, and someone who has both divine and human nature.

The True Wisdom.*6Yet we do speak a wisdom to those who are mature, but not a wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age who are passing away.7Rather, we speak God’s wisdom,* mysterious, hidden, which God predetermined before the ages for our glory,8and which none of the rulers of this age* knew; for if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.9But as it is written:

“What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard,

and what has not entered the human heart,

what God has prepared for those who love him,”e10f this God has revealed to us through the Spirit.

For the Spirit scrutinizes everything, even the depths of God.11Among human beings, who knows what pertains to a person except the spirit of the person that is within? Similarly, no one knows what pertains to God except the Spirit of God.12We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the things freely given us by God.13And we speak about them not with words taught by human wisdom, but with words taught by the Spirit, describing spiritual realities in spiritual terms.*14Now the natural person* does not accept what pertains to the Spirit of God, for to him it is foolishness, and he cannot understand it, because it is judged spiritually.15The spiritual person, however, can judge everything but is not subject to judgment* by anyone.16For “who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to counsel him?” But we have the mind of Christ.g

Trying to construct one unified theory of reality has been a hobby of my mental exercise for some time. I assumed that most scientists and secular humanists use only two universes that make up what is real. The problem was and still is that it doesn’t fit together. Spirituality had to fit into that paradigm.

When I applied the Divine Equation, postulated on there being three distinct universes, each existing simultaneously, each having different laws, each having different purposes, each describing different parts of reality, using what I know of the Christ Principle as the key to drawing all reality to Himself, it all fit together.

To use the Divine Equation, I had to die to self as St. Paul wonderfully describes the Letter to the Colossians, 3. In fact, the only way I can even put together the Divine Equation is for everything in the spiritual universe to be the opposite of what I live in as the physical and mental universes alone. Assuming that reality only exists in the physical universe, the spiritual universe does not make sense. It is “folly for the Gentiles and a stumbling block for the Jews.”

Renunciation of Vice.*5Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly:c immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry.*6Because of these the wrath of God* is coming [upon the disobedient].d7By these you too once conducted yourselves, when you lived in that way.8But now you must put them all away:* anger, fury, malice, slander, and obscene language out of your mouths.e9Stop lying to one another, since you have taken off the old self with its practicesf10* and have put on the new self, which is being renewed, for knowledge, in the image of its creator.g11Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian,* slave, free; but Christ is all and in all.h12Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,i13bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.j14And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection.k15And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful.l https://bible.usccb.org/bible/colossians/3

The Divine Equation shows us how to love authentically, not as the World says, even with all the insights of Erich Fromm in his book, The Art of Loving. I am the only one that can cause resonance to the continued dissonance of the World. Each day, as I join my mind and my heart with the love of Christ for the Father, that love being the person of the Holy Spirit, I am fulfilling my destiny on earth now and preparing for the trip to forever. The Mystery of Faith is the Divine Equation, the way, the truth, and the life we must live now to fulfill our evolution as spiritual apes.

LEARNING POINTS

When I experience the accumulative effect of The Divine Equation, I find I am more appreciative of the role of science, logic, literature, music, and photography in how I discover who I am in the light of the Christ Principle. Rather than being at odds with my approach to spirituality, science is even more of an opportunity to discover what is true, how it works, and how it fits into my worldview.

As an end-user for The Divine Equation, I have a greater awareness of one reality for humans. Still, three different dimensions or universes to use our human reasoning and free choice authentically as intended. Science and logic are not in opposition to religious thinking about what is real; rather, each universe must use its properties and characteristics to be what it is.

V. HOW TO LOVE FIERCELY.

The Divine Equation produces energy, divine energy, fierce energy. In my Lectio Divina sessions, whenever I place myself in the presence of Christ and the Holy Spirit, I sometimes think of the process as like a Tesla electric car going to one of the special outlets where it can recharge itself (although it takes time). This recharge of my spiritual batteries takes an act of will or choice on my part. I take myself in silence and solitude to a place where I can recharge myself and move from my false self to my true self. I do this each day, with no exceptions. If I fail to recharge my batteries, I can move anywhere in the spiritual universe by my own power.

To summarize, once I was baptized, God gave me a purpose for why I am here (Deuteronomy 6:5 and Matthew 22:36). Love is the center of the Divine Equation, and it is shared with me and others who believe that Jesus is the Messiah.

I had to make it my own purpose, so I chose Philippians 2:5 as my personal center. “Have in you the mind of Christ Jesus.” The Christ Principle informs all my being, the Word made flesh and dwelling among us.

Once I had God’s purpose for me and my response, next is how I live that out in the seventy or eighty years I have on this earth, barring any illness or sudden death. I use the template of one reality with three distinct and separate universes to look at anything in the physical and mental universes. I am not trying to tell you how to think or convert you to anything, other than reading my thoughts for what they are, the ramblings of a broken-down, old Lay Cistercian trying to prepare for the parousia.

In the Divine Equation, once more, God has to tell us and show us that love is the energy that fuels a reality that is pure energy, pure knowledge, pure love, and pure service. That just doesn’t make sense to those who hold that reality only exists in two universes and God has nothing to do with it. Our human freedom to choose means we can make a choice between the World and the Flesh (Galatians 5), between the reality of Adam and Eve and living according to the will of God, between what makes sense to our mind and senses in this secular existence and what does not makes sense or is the opposite of What the world says is our human destiny.

Only the contradiction of the spiritual universe and its assumptions can solve the Divine Equation of why we are here in this world for seventy or eighty years or why we observe everything around us decaying and moving towards nothingness with no apparent rationale. Love, fierce love, is that which God first had for us. Read Chapter 4 of I John in its entirety to get a feel for this fierce love God has for us that He shared through Christ becoming one of us (Philippians 2:5-12) and still sustained us in each of our hearts through the Holy Spirit. Contemplative spirituality is the approach that seeks to dwell inwardly to find ways to be present to Christ through the energy of the Holy Spirit.

EXERCISE ON THE LOVE OF GOD

Testing the Spirits.*1Beloved, do not trust every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.a2This is how you can know the Spirit of God: every spirit that acknowledges Jesus Christ come in the flesh belongs to God,b3and every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus* does not belong to God. This is the spirit of the antichrist that, as you heard, is to come, but in fact is already in the world.c4You belong to God, children, and you have conquered them, for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.5They belong to the world; accordingly, their teaching belongs to the world, and the world listens to them.d6We belong to God, and anyone who knows God listens to us, while anyone who does not belong to God refuses to hear us. This is how we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit.e

God’s Love and Christian Life.7* Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.8Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.9In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him.f10In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.g11Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another.12No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.h13* This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us, that he has given us of his Spirit.14Moreover, we have seen and testify that the Father sent his Son as savior of the world.15Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in him and he in God.16We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us.

God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.17In this is love brought to perfection among us, that we have confidence on the day of judgment because as he is, so are we in this world.i18There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love.19We love because he first loved us.20If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God* whom he has not seen.j21This is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.k

* [4:16] Deception is possible in spiritual phenomena and may be tested by its relation to Christian doctrine (cf. 1 Cor 12:3): those who fail to acknowledge Jesus Christ in the flesh are false prophets and belong to the antichrist. Even though these false prophets are well received in the world, the Christian who belongs to God has a greater power in the truth.

* [4:3] Does not acknowledge Jesus: some ancient manuscripts add “Christ” and/or “to have come in the flesh” (cf. 1 Jn 4:2), and others read “every spirit that annuls (or severs) Jesus.”

* [4:712] Love as we share in it testifies to the nature of God and to his presence in our lives. One who loves shows that one is a child of God and knows God, for God’s very being is love; one without love is without God. The revelation of the nature of God’s love is found in the free gift of his Son to us, so that we may share life with God and be delivered from our sins. The love we have for one another must be of the same sort: authentic, merciful; this unique Christian love is our proof that we know God and can “see” the invisible God.

* [4:1321] The testimony of the Spirit and that of faith join the testimony of love to confirm our knowledge of God. Our love is grounded in the confession of Jesus as the Son of God and the example of God’s love for us. Christian life is founded on the knowledge of God as love and on his continuing presence that relieves us from fear of judgment (1 Jn 4:1618). What Christ is gives us confidence, even as we live and love in this world. Yet Christian love is not abstract but lived in the concrete manner of love for one another.

* [4:20] Cannot love God: some ancient manuscripts read “how can he love…?”

a. [4:12:18Mt 24:24.

b. [4:21 Cor 12:31 Thes 5:21.

c. [4:33:22.

d. [4:5Jn 15:19.

e. [4:6Jn 8:4710:16.

f. [4:9Jn 3:16.

g. [4:10Rom 5:8.

h. [4:12Jn 1:181 Tm 6:16.

i. [4:172:28.

j. [4:202:4.

k. [4:21Jn 13:3414:152115:17.

  1. You have just read this passage from the Scriptures. Right now, close your eyes and just think about any ideas that jump out at you. Do so for four or five minutes. Do so now.
  2. Open your eyes and write down what you think the fierce love of God for us is.
  3. Read the passage above for a second time. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you some ideas. Again, close your eyes and think of what struck you most about fierce love, but your love for Jesus.
  4. Open your eyes and write down what you heard when you listened with the “ear of the heart” (Prologue to St. Benedict’s Rule).
  5. What does this love from Christ and your love for Jesus do for how you act?

LEARNING POINTS

In the secular sense, love is not so much bad as not sufficient by itself to lift up human love to the next level of our evolution, sons and daughters of the Father. Fierce love is passionate, seeking first the Kingdom of Heaven rather than anything on earth. All else falls into place with that choice of our center: love itself, the person of Jesus.

With fierce love, you yourn to be in the presence of the one you love more than anything.

When you center yourself on Christ and do so consistently and habitually, you will notice a slow movement from your false self to your new self. Your meditations will become more lively. You can’t wait to do another Cistercian practice so you can be in the presence of Christ.

There is a final realization that your whole day is a prayer of praise and asking for mercy to the Father for everything you encounter that day, each day being a lifetime. Just when you think you have arrived at some form of contemplation and stability, you fall on your face and realize that none of this depends upon you because you live in Original Sin’s effects. You must begin each day afresh and not dependent upon what when before.

VI. YOU KNOW YOU ARE GOING TO DIE, NOW WHAT?

Few things in our lives are as certain as death. It is part of the corruption or decay of matter. Another way of saying that is, everything that is has a beginning and an end. Along the way, each individual is born and has a period of time (usually not more than 100 years) to live on this earth and discover the newness of each day. Some people die prematurely because of accidents, wars, cancer, heart attacks, etc…

Humans all have the ability to reason (dogs and cats do not) and to use their ability to choose what is good for them to move forward. The problem comes when humans think they choose what is good for them, but it is not. God took on human nature to tell us what the option is that is good for us. This includes the spiritual universe. Some people don’t see but the physical and mental universes and thus don’t know what the purpose of our humanity is, yet they are free to choose. What makes all this confusion is that the choice of the spiritual universe is not automatic. It takes an act of free will (belief) that what we believe is logical. The problem is, Faith is not logical unless you know how to read the Divine Equation which God sent his Son to give us and show us how to interpret. If you won’t or can’t use the Divine Equation, life is only in terms of the physical universe and the mental world of your own creation. Like the Alcoholic Anonymous 12 steps, those in the spiritual universe acknowledge a power outside of themselves that is greater and provides the energy to sustain us. At the same time, we live out whatever life has in store for us.

This Divine Equation is the North on your compass of life, the roadmap that gives us which directions to take to fulfill our destiny as humans, to be adopted sons and daughters of the Father. God’s love is so great that He will allow you to sin without punishment, but you will have to suffer the consequences of sin. Jesus told us that he will not leave us, orphans, when we ascended back to the Father in atonement for the sins of humanity as seen in the archetype, Adam and Eve.

The Divine Equation has six questions in its formula that must be answered in sequence and correctly to move on to the next. They are the fundamentals of what God expected of Adam and Eve before the Fall in the Garden of Eden. To both give us these questions and show us how to solve this mystery, Jesus, the second Adam, had to experience the Garden of Gethsemani and the temptation that everything in his human nature was a failure. That the Son was also of divine nature and thus the source of pure energy that could transform human nature into something beyond immediate pain, suffering, depression, the lack of hope that there is anything in life worth the sacrifice, into the glorified body of our future existence. In the Christ Principle, Jesus makes sense out of a Divine Equation that is clearly beyond science, logic, human capability, and capacity to grasp. Only when each of us prefers nothing to the love of Christ, only when we die to self to rise with Christ to newness of life, only when we can accept the adoption that we are indeed loved by Love itself and accepted into that bosom for all eternity, will we be at true resonance with the totality of all that is. As in science and philosophy, the essence of spirituality is wonder.

WONDER IF…

Here are some things I wonder about.

As St. Paul says, WONDER IF only the love of Christ can fill our human heart and satisfy its longing for knowledge, love, and peace. Do I have the ability in the rest of my life to seek out this pearl of great price and give all to possess it? What is there in your life that you would give all you have to possess?

WONDER IF… Jesus is actually what he says he is, real flesh and real blood under the appearance of simple wine and bread? 70% of Catholics do not believe that Jesus, the same one that walked the earth in Jerusalem and died on the cross, is actually that same person today under the appearance of bread and wine. If you believe that this is Jesus, would you not want to spend time in the presence of the one you love and receive that same Christ as did the Apostles at the Last Supper and we do in Eucharist?

WONDER IF… outside the Church there is no salvation, and all there is, is the Church Universal in Heaven? Would you be a member? Would you complain if others whom God deemed worthy were there but not baptized or were terrible sinners?

WONDER IF… you took time to read Chapter 4 of the Rule of Benedict each day, without fail? What would happen to you? https://christdesert.org/prayer/rule-of-st-benedict/chapter-4-the-tools-for-good-works/

WONDER IF… there is no resurrection, no heaven, no hope, no source of power outside of yourself, no living forever, no commandments and beatitudes to keep humans from reverting back to their animality, no love, and no church to sustain you in times of trial and suffering. No kidding! Life would not be worth living.

WONDER IF… you followed the command of Christ and actually loved others as Christ loved you. What would that look like each day? Would you be able to sustain your ferver each day and maintain that love amid all the challenges placed in our path by Satan and Original Sin?

WONDER IF… you were diligent in doing Lectio Divina each day for a time or two? Would that make you different? Closer to Christ? Less of you and more of Christ?

WONDER IF… you were never satisfied with giving God glory and honor through, with, and in Jesus, the Messiah (Christ) and yearned to grow by having in your the mind of that same Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5)?

WONDER IF… you emptied or abandoned your will to that of Christ’s and tried to convert your life each day to love God with all your heart, all your mind, and all your strength and love your neighbor as yourself? Each day! What would that feel like? How would your behavior change?

WONDER IF… you genuinely preferred nothing to the love of Christ? Would you act differently? What practices would you do each day to ensure that you were present to the one you loved so intimately?

WONDER IF… you took time out of your day to spend it in Eucharistic adoration and contemplation about Philippians 2:5-12? You would have no agenda, just sit there in the Chapel, as you would on a cold, winter day yearning for God to come to sit next to you and just be there. Then, you suddenly realize that God has always been there, but you have just arrived. When you talk, God can’t talk to you. St. Benedict says you must listen “with the ear of the heart. (Prologue to the Rule). Your heart in silence and solitude sits next to the heart of Christ and just smiles and waits.

WONDER IF… as I did, you have Leukemia (2014)and pacemaker surgery (2020) plus cardiac arrest (2007) and had to call upon the name of the Lord to help you, not necessarily to be healed but to prepare you to stand before the Throne of the Lamb in humility and truth and, with head lowered, seek mercy.

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 and Amen. –Cistercian doxology.

THE LITTLE THINGS ARE SOMETIMES HUGE

I did something this morning at 3:30 a.m. after I went for my bathroom break. I sat down on my bed, getting ready to do one of my Lectio Divina’s for the day, when I thought about the monks at Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery (Trappist) in Conyers, Georgia. They begin their Liturgy of the Hours at 4:00 a.m. each day and I try to make my morning offering each day at that time. As I do each day, I traced the sign of the cross on my forehead to remind me that my day will be spent seeking God as I find Him. This morning, when I began my Lectio (always Philippians 2:5), the Holy Spirit brought me the idea that the seemingly insignificant sign of the cross that I just made on my forehead was more profound than I could have possibly imagined. Here are some of the ideas that I remember having this morning.

The sign of the cross I make on my forehead encapsulates the whole Divine Equation of God in that one action. It is the birth of Christ in my heart this very day, the road to Jerusalem that I travel wherever it may take me, it is the miracles I see and do in the name of Christ this day to transform myself from my sinful self to my true self as an adopted son (daughter) of the Father. It is all those times I consciously die to my secular self to prefer nothing to the love of Christ (Chapter 4, St. Benedict’s Rule). Every time I do trace this sign on my forehead, I give praise and glory to the Father, through, with, and in Jesus, in union with the Holy Spirit. It is the sign of contradiction, the possibility of the manifestibility of meeting Jesus, Son of God, Savior in the depths of my soul, in silence and solitude, just Jesus and me. In this one moment, all creation is in resonance with its purpose, the physical universe, the mental universe, and the spiritual universe on earth as it is in heaven. It is the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist that I sign on my forehead and in my heart. The sign that is a stumbling block to the Jews and folly to everyone who does not believe that Jesus Christ is Messiah, the Son of God, Savior. It confirms the resurrection is real in not only the Church but also in me.

All in that one moment, the cross on my forehead echoes the cross tattooed on my soul at Baptism, allowing me to call God Father and trying to be worthy of being an adopted son of the Father, brother to Jesus the Christ, and friend of the Holy Spirit, all of whom are one and all allowing this fallible human to stumble down the road of life trying to have in him the mind of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5).

Making the cross on my forehead is a sign of my Faith that Jesus is Lord and Messiah. It is something I don’t have to do but I do it because it reminds me of the love Christ had for each of us and how I must love others as Christ has loved me. I make this sign to show my love for the Father, this sign of his Son made once for us and in which we participate each day in transforming ourself from the World to the Spirit. I always make the sign of the cross on my forehead as the first act of a new day asking God for mercy as I give mercy to other, praising the Father for allowing me to share in The Divine Equation. I use the Lay Cistercian practices and charisms from the Benedictine and Cistercian traditions of men and women who prefer nothing to the love of Christ.

Each day this sign reminds me that, throughout the world, the Church Universal is using this same sign to seek reparation for the sins of the World, to give praise and glory through Christ, to activate their Faith through listening to what the Holy Spirit tells them. There is only One Lord, One Faith and One Baptism, and only one sign by which we are saved, the sign of the cross.

Each day, this cross reminds me that I am but a pilgrim in a foreign land and that the words of the world have the opposite meaning in the spiritual universe. Familiar words we use daily in the physical and mental universes (the World), such as Love, Peace, Meaning, Fulfillment, and Relationship, have the opposite meaning in the spiritual universe, due to the assumptions involved. These are not my assumptions but come from God. This is another way of saying I choose God’s purpose for my life and not the World’s.

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 and Amen. –Cistercian doxology

MOMENTS WITH MICHAEL iii: HOLY SPIRIT DUMP

At some obscure part of my brain, probably the frontal lobe, I had recalled the topic of “a data dump”, meaning that I just get a bunch of random thoughts. It is something like taking a drink of water from an open fire hydrant. I just had one of those in my Lectio Divina this week. Here are the results that I can recall.

Mud thrown is ground you lose.

The wages of sin are death, meaning a slow atrophying of the spirit.

There is no such thing as sinning freely because you know God is going to dump grace all over you (like the Sherman-Williams globe logo covered by paint).

With free will comes choice. With choice comes the responsibility to use your reason to choose wisely. Choosing wisely means you accept the consequences of those actions which are dissonant with God. Forgiveness and reconciliation is reestablishing resonance with God. Christ is the template, the Christ Principle, that makes all things new.

The four epochs of time are:

  • physical time: from the beginning of the physical reality to the end of physical reality, including all matter, time, energy, and life forms (including humans)
  • mental time: from the beginnings of rationality to the end of the human species
  • spiritual time: from the Resurrection and Ascension moment of Christ to forever
  • my spiritual time: from when God accepted me as son (daughter) of the Father and I responded, “Be it done to me, according to your Word,” until forever with Christ in Heaven.

The conditions for a sin to be mortal are that a) It must be a moral sin b) You must know it is wrong. c) You must willingly perform the behavior. To go to hell, you must know what Hell is all about, then, you must choose Satan over God.

No one goes to Hell unless they choose to do so.

Hell’s punishment will be multiple. One main one, is that the Devil will laugh in your face (forever) about how you could have had it all but turned it down. The Devil’s laugh is scorn and derision plus disrespect that you were an adopted son or daughter of the Father and chose something as horrible as Himself. Enter into your Lord’s hatred, he will say to you.

The Holy Spirit warns me of playing God games. These are “My God can beat your God,” and “If you don’t fit into what I think Scripture says about salvation, you are going to Hell.”

I am not the one who will judge if people go to Heaven. God is the judge. Heaven is His playground and he can select anyone He wants to play in it.

Contemplation means reflecting on moving away from your false self to your true self by looking for the presence of Christ in the silence of your heart.

Original sin means we don’t keep our focus on being focused on Christ without sustained help. It takes effort to be spiritual. Spirituality is doing what is right, according to the instructions that God gave us through Christ.

MOMENTS WITH MICHAEL ii

During the day, I sometimes get flashes from the edge of time (my way of saying that the Holy Spirit drops an idea before me to see what I will do with it). Here are some unrelated thoughts I had recently.

The spiritual way of life is realizing that Christ does not fit into you, but you fit into the complexity of the Mystery of Faith.

I don’t know what Christ or the Holy Spirit looks like, but I am okay with that. Christ has something the Father, Son and Holy Spirit do not have, the imperfection of human nature. It is that same Jesus that is the way to relate to the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. It is that same Jesus that says, “blessed are you who have not seen but yet believed.”

Thomas. 24 Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”o 26 Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”p 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” 28 *q Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!” 29* Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?r Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

Conclusion.* 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of [his] disciples that are not written in this book.s3 1 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

I have never seen Jesus with my eyes, but know Him, Love Him, and serve Him with my mind and heart. Scriptures give me stories and signs so that I might grow in Christ and become less in my false self.

God give me the purpose of life, but I must choose the Christ Principle, of my free will and knowledge, as my center and my purpose in life.

Because of Original Sin, my faith (God’s energy) corrupts and rusts if not used and maintained. Christ does not maintain it for me but gives me the tools to make all things new. Contemplation as a Lay Cistercian means that I choose to place myself in the presence of Christ through Lectio Divina, Liturgy of the Hours, Rosary, Meditation, and reading Scripture.

Receiving Christ in the Real Presence in Eucharist means I become what I eat, to use a popular saying. If all it is receiving a piece of bread, the bread turns into me. But, if I receive Christ in the Eucharist, and that Eucharist is indeed the same Jesus that appeared to Thomas in the upper room and invited him to put his hand into the wound into his side, then I am assumed into the divine nature in a way appropriate for my nature. This is how I grow in Christ and have my false self decrease.

Using the Divine Equation means I don’t understand all that contained in this mystery, but I do know that Christ gave it to me, along with how to interpret it, so that I could inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.

I am born into this world without my knowledge or consent. I am baptized and confirmed with my knowledge and consent but without the experience to become what I have just promised. It takes a lifetime of trial and repentance to walk the rocky road of human existence on which I find myself during my short life span on earth. I make choices along the way. Some of them are good works because they come from God. Some of them are bad works due to sin and self-serving choices of what is easy rather than what is right. If I do not believe in either good works or do bad works, then the third option is no works. When I die, and die I must, I will do so as an adopted son who looks forward to being with the ones I love…Forever. I must die alone, but I have the compendium of the Faithful as witnesses to the way, the truth, and the life to welcome me into the Kingdom of Heaven prepared for me before there was time itself.

When I pray to Mary as the Mother of God, my assumptions are these:

  • Mary is not God’s mother as in birth mother.
  • Mary is not God, nor does she or the Saints have a divine nature. Mary is not divine but the first of Saints.
  • We honor Mary and do not adore her as the crown jewel of our race and her acceptance of God’s will for her.
  • We do not pray to Mary, but honor her as the reflection of that act of Faith, “be it done to me according to Your Word.”
  • The language the Church Universal uses with Mary and the Saints is to ask for their intercession as we pray to God, through, with, and in Jesus alone, with the advocacy of the Holy Spirit.
  • Mary has no authority, power, or glory in and of herself. She reflects the glory of her Son and is always pointing to Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life. Her timeless response to us about Jesus is, “do what he tells you.”
  • I ask Mary to be my intercessor with Christ, her Son, so that when I die, she will be with me “now and at the hour of my death.”
  • People I want to take to lunch when I get to Heaven:
    • Jesus
    • Mary and St. Joseph
    • Sts. Peter and Paul
    • St. Monica and St. Augustine
    • St. John and St. Luke
    • Steven Hawking
    • Einstein
    • Enrico Fermi
    • Carl Sagan
    • Dr. Charles Krauthamer
    • Thomas Merton (Father Mary Louis, O.C.S.O)
    • St. Benedict and St. Scholastica
    • St. Bernard of Clairvaux
    • Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas
    • Sts. Dominic, Francis, and Ignatius
  • I have all eternity to discover the truth, to seek the way, and live the life.

THE DIVINE EQUATION: THE PARADIGM OF THE TRINITY

I am finally at peace over whether I will ever understand the Trinity. The answer is NO because the only way to even approach that problem is The Mystery of Faith. I just let it go and use the Trinity as Christ intended me to do. The Trinity is for me to use during my final time on earth in the Spiritual Universe to lift me up to a higher level of humanity that I could not reach by my naked nature by itself. If it were unknowable with human languages and concepts, Jesus would not have had to reveal that One God has three separate functions that, for lack of better terminology, we call persons. Actually, they are not persons but we call them that for our sake. It is as close as we can get with our human intellect, superior as we think it might be with all the scientific knowledge and computer-assisted learning we have uncovered during the past one hundred years.

I have peace because I now realize that humility is the essential element to approach the Mystery of the Trinity, not intelligence as the world sees it. St. Benedict set forth the steps for humility in his Chapter 5 of the Rule. Step one is that we must have in us the fear of the Lord. Brushing aside sixty years of trying to define what that is, I now realize that it means to let God be God and you be you. It means it is useless to try to comprehend what humanity can never contain, as if there is a mastery (domination) of the thing we are trying to solve. I can only approach the Trinity using stories, parables given by Jesus, and similies. A simile compares two things, one totally unknown and the other a known process, or more likely a common human experience used to describe some part of the other. Similies might be totally unlike the thing they try to describe. Jesus used similies because just raising the question of the Trinity to his followers (including us twenty centuries later) can not be addressed by any science or equation we know today. So, the conclusion is that it is just an old tale made up by the followers of Jesus 300 years after Jesus actually lived, and you can’t prove anything. And the answer is, you are perfectly correct. You can’t prove any of this using science, logic, any patterns of religious thinking, any secular humanistic thinking that life only ends in the grave and get what you can while you can. “Simili est regnum coelorum” or the kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed. Read the Chapter in Matthew on Similies.

The Parable of the Weeds Among the Wheat.24He proposed another parable to them.* “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field.25While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds* all through the wheat, and then went off.26When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well.27The slaves of the householder came to him and said, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?’28He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’29He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them.30Let them grow together until harvest;* then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”g

The Parable of the Mustard Seed.*31h He proposed another parable to them. “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field.32*i It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the ‘birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.’”

The Parable of the Yeast.33He spoke to them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast* that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened.”j

The Use of Parables.34*k All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables. He spoke to them only in parables,35to fulfill what had been said through the prophet:*

“I will open my mouth in parables,

I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation [of the world].”l

The Explanation of the Parable of the Weeds.36Then, dismissing the crowds,* he went into the house. His disciples approached him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”37* He said in reply, “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man,38the field is the world,* the good seed the children of the kingdom. The weeds are the children of the evil one,39and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age,* and the harvesters are angels.40Just as weeds are collected and burned [up] with fire, so will it be at the end of the age.41The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom* all who cause others to sin and all evildoers.42m They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.43*n Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears ought to hear.

More Parables.*44o “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field,* which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.45Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls.46When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.47Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind.48When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away.49Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous50and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.

Treasures New and Old.51“Do you understand* all these things?” They answered, “Yes.”52* And he replied, “Then every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.”53 When Jesus finished these parables, he went away from there.

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

I have a profound peace that comes not from solving The Divine Equation, which I am neither capable of doing, nor can I do, because of my human nature, but from using it or living it to What I can do is ask the Trinity to lift my humanity up to what it was intended to be before the Fall in the Garden of Eden. I keep asking the question of “How does all of this fit together?” and the answer that keeps reoccurring is, “You don’t need to know what you can never know as a human. You need to be 100% of your nature, be what you were created to be from the beginning of time. One way that I have discovered to be 100% is my nature is to use Contemplative Practices and Cistercian charisms to move from my false self to my true self. This is done by dying to myself each day to grow in the capacity to receive Christ in my heart (capacitas dei). It means embracing a Divine Equation that uses the opposite of what the world says love is, what peace is, what fulfillment as a human means. The Divine Equation means I must let go of all that I know about being human and have in me the mind of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5) a mind that, if I let it into my heart, transforms me with the sign of the cross (a Trinitarian symbol of my belief) to an adopted son (or daughter) of the Father.

This past Sunday, the Church commemorates The Trinity and its place in the Mystery of Faith. Before I go too far, would you look at this marvelous YouTube on the Trinity from Bishop Barron? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IqjFe3AoZYw After you have viewed it, write down three ideas you received about the Trinity that you want to pursue later on. What follows contains my three ideas I received from Bishop Barron’s YouTube on the Trinity. Because of these three contemplative encounters at the deepest level of my spirituality (the deepest so far), my focus is not on who the trinity is, but rather on how I approach this paradigm of One and the Many or Three dimensions yet one reality.

MY ROMANCE WITH THE TRINITY

I like the idea of romancing the Trinity, because it is more like the process of dating someone, getting to know them (in my case over a lifetime) where bits fall into place when there is humility and a recognition that God is God and I am me and that there is a big gap between the One True God and broken-down, old me. In my romancing the Trinity, I have a passion to want to know, love, and serve God in this world so that I might continue that love in the next world. Where do I get this love that transforms me from just a human being who lives and dies, to one that inherits the Kingdom of the Father, sharing it with Jesus (both God and Human) all with the energy of God, the Holy Spirit. Romancing also has a certain danger for me because I get so excited about my interaction with the Holy Spirit that I might unintentionally stray from what is true and authentic. Part of the danger is my thinking that, because I get these “out of this world” ideas when I ask the Holy Spirit to overshadow me, I speak for the Holy Spirit. I do not. I simply take dictation and try to bring all things together later on by my application of the Christ Principle to what I received. My romance with the Mystery of Faith is that, although I can never know God as God, I can know what Christ has revealed to us through Scriptures and authentic teachings of the dynamic Church Universal.

Romancing the Trinity means I accept that there is only one God, but three persons or personalities or something like that. God is not three gods, nor does God have gender, live in space and time as we know it, or have a beginning nor end. So what is God? God is love? God revealed the Trinity to us in ways consistent with our human weakness and fragility (I only live seventy or eighty year, if I am lucky). In my desire for contemplation (being in the presence of God the Father, the Son, with the Holy Spirit), I have stumbled across four ways I view the Trinity, all of whom are subject to my fallibility and need to love others as Jesus loved us.

I. THE TRINITY AS THE PRISM OF LIGHT

A long time ago, I think it was around 1963 that I entered the School of Theology at St. Meinrad, Indiana, to prepare for the priesthood. https://www.saintmeinrad.edu/ If you view this site, you will notice the solid sandstone buildings of the School of Theology, walls being three feet thick. On a particularly hot Mayday, I found myself walking up the four stories (no elevator) to the chapel at the top of the building. Each morning, we would gather at the top story for Eucharist, Lectio Divina, prayers in common, or other activities. I remember that there just four small windows at the top of the chapel and that they were just regular glass and no patterns to notice. So, here I am at the top chapel, no one there, asking myself why I am crazy enough to be up here rather than playing softball to ask God to explain the Trinity to me. I was not, nor am I a great student or scholar, but just someone who wants to know how there can be just one God but three persons simultaneously. I actually expected to get the answers from God that would give me relief from my seemingly unsolvable problem. I got no answers, at least none that I was prepared to hear at that time. What I got was heat and more heat. After about a half-hour, the heat won the battle of convenience over my short-lived passion for knowing about the Trinity. I got up, genuflected, and gave one last glance at the tabernacle containing the remnants of the Eucharist bread. At the top right-hand window (26″ by 36″ inches), I saw light streaming through the clear glass but refracted to include all the colors of the spectrum. It hit me in an instant. I had my answer, one that kept telling me that what I asked was far beyond my human capability or capacity to know in itself, but that the Trinity was liked visible light, which is composed of three primary colors (red, green, and blue). Together they make up light. I can’t see the colors unless the glass reflects them so I can pick up the patterns. I can’t control the light nor the refraction, but I can be aware of it and see because of the light presented to me. Without the light, I am in darkness. It reminded me of the Prologue of St. John’s Gospel. Read this passage in its context and try to see how the Trinity is highlighted.

1, In the beginning,* was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.a

2 He was in the beginning with God.

3* All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be.b What came to be4through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race;c 5* the light shines in the darkness,d and the darkness has not overcome it.6* A man named John was sent from God.e7He came for testimony,* to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.f8He was not the light, but came to testify to the light.g9The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.h

10 He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him.

11He came to what was his own, but his own people* did not accept him.12i But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name,13*j who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God.

14And the Word became flesh* and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son,

full of grace and truth.k15* John testified to him and cried out, saying, “This was he of whom I said,l ‘The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.’”16 From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace,*17 because while the law was given through Moses, grace, and truth came through Jesus Christ.m18 No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God,* who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him.n

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

II. THE TRINITY AS A MYSTERY OF FAITH THAT IS LIKE BEYOND CAPTURING BY OUR MIND BUT YET IS NECESSARY FOR YOUR SPIRIT TO MOVE TO THE NEXT LEVEL OF OUR EVOLUTION

Some of my colleagues in the past have accused me of using the moniker of The Mystery of Faith as a way to deflect me from admitting that I don’t know what I am talking about. While admitting my limitations of knowledge in many areas, it is not that I don’t know what I am talking about as much as it is that what I am talking about is not knowable except through parables, similies, stories. Christ is Messiah and the next step in the Divine Equation, the next step in our human evolution.

God had a problem with trying to tell humans who He is. How can you explain who you are to humans who do not have the capability nor will ever have the capacity to know you as you are? In the Old Testament, Moses asked the key question: Who are you? The answer is, I am not like other gods. I am the one who is. I am the God who is. The context was Moses standing in front of a bush that was not consumed by its flame (the sign of contradiction). I am a fire that is not destroyed and which lasts forever. The Old Testament is a multitude of ways that God tried to prepare his People to receive the fullness of the one who is. God relates to Israel as the chosen people through visible representations, the pillar of fire by night, and the cloud during the day.

20 Setting out from Succoth, they camped at Ethamg near the edge of the wilderness.21h The LORD preceded them, in the daytime by means of a column of cloud to show them the way and at night by means of a column of fire* to give them light. Thus they could travel both day and night.22 Neither the column of cloud by day nor the column of fire by night ever left its place in front of the people.

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

God is the way for the Israelites and a foretaste of Christ. The Messiah is the way, the truth, and the life, leading both Jews and Gentiles through the wilderness of Original Sin to the promised land where He is. God reveals things gradually as He prepares Israel to accept a covenant relationship that is a paradigm of who he is. It is as if God tells his Israel in each age of the Old Covenant how to prepare to see him, not with eyes, but in nature, in their hearts, in their minds, with all their strength. Scripture in the Old Testament is just a record of how well the Twelve Tribes kept the commands of God, not just the 613 prescriptions of the Law, but the one written in their hearts, one that is also in the heart of God. If you want to pursue this, check out Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Laws_of_Noah and also, The Halakha at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halakha.

The evolution or natural progression of the Divine Equation laid the groundwork for the Messiah to fulfill. Setting the stage for God to become human was necessary to be consistent with the natural flow of reality from simplicity to complexity, to hand on to the next generation that was necessary for sustainability and continuity of how God speaks to humans. This gradual awareness is part of God’s DNA, the impression that He left on all physical reality, moving it from physical reality to mental reality so that humanity would be free to choose spiritual reality, the fulfillment of the Old Testament longing to be one with God, and the revelation that there is a more complex reality to One God without destroying the integrity of that Oneness.

God had to reach down from the divine nature, not to make humans gods, but to lift them up to the next level of their natural evolution, from physical reality to mental reality to animality to rationality to spirituality. Humans are spiritual apes. You can read the three volumes that I wrote on that contraversial topic of evolution and how the Rule of Threes allows us to see evolution or the natural progress in not limited to human change but that it involves me making a decision to join in the next level of human develoment, the Kingdom of Heaven. Remember, God keeps trying to reveal bits and pieces of who He is in ways humans can assimilitae into their patterns of behavior (service) without scaring them to death. Even now, whether we know it or not, humanity assimilates what is the way, the truth, and the life into what went before in order to ask the question: How does it all fit together? The problem for humans comes in accepting who God is and what he is trying to tell us collectively (humanity), as Church Universal, and individually.

In a previous blog, I spoke of God revealing to humans who he is through the Messiah, Jesus, and what He taught us about communicating with God. God is love, and that love is present to us through, with and in Jesus who alone can see the Father because He is the Object of the Father’s love, and that love is a person (not an individual but pure love, which is pure energy, who just is.) Go back and take a look at Bishop Barron’s articulate explanation of the Trinity as an archetype of love in his YouTube.

Those who have wrestled with the topic of the Trinity come to the same conclusion that I did. Use the Trinity as you would use unlimited nuclear fusion, not to power your ambitions in the world, but to seek to grow in the capacity to have in you the mind of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5). St. Patrick is famous for picking up a three-leaf clover and teaching about one plant having three leaves. One wonders what would have happened if it had picked up a four-leaf clover. Would history have been changed?

III. THE TRINITY IS THE DIVINE EQUATION

So, how can I measure what cannot be measured to come up with some formula that incorporates all of reality (physical universe, mental universe, and spiritual universe) into something we can’t comprehens but makes perfect sense, using the Christ Principle as the key?

The Divine Equation is just that, it originates from the Divine Nature, not human nature. It is completely unknowable of itself to humans but God worked out a way to explain it to us that each of us, from this broken-down, old Lay Cistercian down through the rest of humanity can grasp it according to the capacity within each of us to receive that equation. Remember my blog on how each of us receives reality differently depending on our capacity to receive it? Whatever is received comes from God, not us. My capacity to receive it comes from me. Each day, I must seek God where I am and as I am. I don’t consciously think of the Trinity yet, whatever I do think filters through The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, the sign of the cross I made on my forehead when I got up that morning.

My paradigm for looking at all reality is Trinitarian. I use the Rule of Threes to evaluate everything that is. My formula for one reality having three separate universes, all with different dimensions but one in nature is one God has three persons. I am still chewing on what that means and will probably be doing so until I have dentures or move my mailing address to Heaven. My romancing the Trinity means it makes no difference to the Trinity if I know anything about it at all. It does mean that the Trinity makes a difference to me in so far as I use it to decrease while Christ increases in my heart. The Old Testament revealed that there is One God and also that God is One. That One God entered human nature because the Divine Nature’s purpose is Love, and that Love is a person in the form of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is one of us in all things but sin, to experience all that we do to struggle with the effects of Original Sin in our daily life and give us Hope in the future that one day we will be adopted sons and daughters of the Father. He took on the martyrdom of human living to transform it into something beyond what the physical and mental universes can offer and show how to get to Heaven. This suffering and death on a cross is a sign of contempt and disrespect, but Christ Jesus turned this symbol of shame into one of triumph. It is a sign that all reality in the spiritual universe, God’s playground, is the opposite of the world. The Trinity makes no sense to the world but, with the Christ Principle and His voluntary passion and death, this defeat is a victory for all of us.

Applying the Divine Equation means you know or want to know how to use it. You must learn the language and how it is applies to your individual and collective situation each day. If I would put this Divine Equation in terms of a formula (which is for human consumption, not God’s), it would read something like: one Nature or Being having three distinct functions (creation, re-creation, and fulfillment). These functions are all of Divine Nature. Jesus voluntarily took on not only our nature but also the mission from the Father to die for the sin of Adam and Eve to restore us again as adopted sons and daughters of the Father…Forever.

THE RULE OF THREES

In my own limited view of how all reality fits together, I have developed a way to integrate all reality into three components, each one different with its own characteristics and rules. Each universe is part of just one reality. I call it the Rule of Threes. Here are some ideas that are based on the Trinitarian formula.

There is only one reality but with three distinct universes. I took this approach to looking at spiritual reality based on the Divine Equation of one reality with three distinctive persons. The Word (John 1:1) is a person, the Son (Philippians 2:5) is a person, the Holy Spirit is a person, yet they are not one person but one nature. It would certainly be understandable for anyone to think that the Trinity is just a fantasy. The words we use are simply inadequate to describe that there is a reality without time nor space nor atoms nor gravity, actually none of the measures that ordinary people would use to describe this phenomena.

The physical universe is not only the basis of life. It is also its base. What we know, how we know, it depends on environmental factors of adequate oxygen, water, right chemical balances, not too hot, not too close to the Sun, not too far away from the Sun. Usually, humans just don’t think about our fragility on this rocky ball of gases and chemicals. Earth is the laboratory to cultivate life, a global Petrie dish of just the right combinations for life. Life moves forward not backward unless there is a physical disaster to stop the growth, and even then, life finds a way to move forward in evolution. All the laws of physics and nature apply to this universe. Humans live in this universe but have an additional dimension of living also in the mental universe. Only humans, in fact, live in this mental universe. What distinguishes this universe from the physical one is that humans evolved from animality to inhabit their own universe. It was as though they were lifted up past their animality to begin a new existence. Humans possess what no other species has, as far as we know. They have the unique qualities of human reasoning and the freedom to choose whatever they choose that is good or bad for them.

Humans kept on moving, growing, maturing both biological but also mentally. All of this so that we might approach the last phase of human evolution, the spiritual universe. God made all three universes but the spiritual one can only be accessed by individuals who choose to do so. The spiritual universe begins with the Baptism of each individual and has no ending, except it culminates in the Christ Principle.

In the beginning, say St. John in his Prologue to the Gospel (John 1:1) was the Word. What was that word? Yes. From the nothingness of God came all reality with a simple thought (pure knowledge). In the Trinity, as with humans who are made in the image and likeness of that Word, pure knowledge exists outside of time and space, a concept for which the human mind is not prepared, but it also denotes intelligence and the capability to reason and make choices. In the case of God, his choice was to be consistent with his nature (believe me, I am not so presumptuous as to know what the nature of God is) and to choose to share with all that is. This object of the Word was the Son, who is able to receive the Word and thus create love between them. This love is so dynamic that is pure energy, containing pure thought and pure love but producing a distinct person, the Holy Spirit. All three are one nature together but are different aspects of the Word.

The sharing of God is so intense that it must be shared with others (the creation of choirs of angels and the Archangels), who have God’s DNA, i.e., angelic reasoning and the ability to choose freely to be or not have God as their center. Some (Lucifer and the other fallen angels) chose poorly, while others continued to be what they were destined to be. This is called cosmic resonance, i.e., when nature is consistent with what it is created to be. Cosmic dissonance is when nature is at odds with what it was designed to be.

IV. RESONANCE, DISSONANCE AND THE TRINITY

In this sense, the physical universe has resonance which is to be what it is created to be. A supernova follows the laws of nature to be what it is. Humans, before they were lifted up from animality to rationality, were resonant, which is why Genesis 2-3 speaks of what God created as good. Something happened when God created humans. They were made in the image and likeness of God, like everything else, to be what they were created to be. Given the choice to act their nature or not (resonance or dissonance), at the urging of the Snake (Lucifer), they chose poorly. Genesis is an attempt by those early writers to describe the human condition, one that is intrinsically good, as is all that God created, but flawed because of the poor choice by Adam and Eve our progenitors, and the archetype for Original Sin in which we find ourselves today. Evil came into the world, and it was night.

Adam and Eve were, and continued to remain, free to choose what was good for them, what was true, only now the path was clouded by all the false directions that are influenced by greed, envy, lust, idolatry, gluttony, murder, theft, coveting neighbor’s goods and wife. Dissonance entered the world and would continue until someone came to restore resonance. Those who followed Adam and Eve up to and including today as you read this, still choose what is bad for them (and remember no one in their right mind chooses what they think is bad for them). The motivations and options for good or evil come from within them. At odds with that is God saying, I am the way, the truth, and the life. Some people see that, while some do not. The amazing thing is that God allows people to do evil (God does not cause nor condone evil) with the realization that they will give an accounting for their actions when they face God. It is the ultimate freedom and sign of love that God would do for me what I probably would not do for anyone else. Read the Parable

Humans could not lift themselves up to the next level of their evolution, the spiritual universe, where they would have God’s help as they make their way to fulfill their original destiny. Read the Parable of the Unforgiving Steward to get a sense of how we must die to our old self and become more like Christ.

The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant.*21n Then Peter approaching asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22* Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.23o That is why the kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants.24* When he began accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.25 Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt. 26* At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’ 27Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan.28 When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a much smaller amount.* He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, ‘Pay back what you owe.’29Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ 30 But he refused. Instead, he had him put in prison until he paid back the debt. 31 Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master and reported the whole affair.32His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. 33p Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?’ 34 Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt.* 35*q So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart.”

 This simple looking parable contains the Trinitarian formula of the Divine equation. The paradigm to live in Heaven and be an adopted son or daughter of the Father is to do what God is to those around you, regardless of their belief system or creed. If you want God to forgive you, you must forgive others from your heart. You not only have to forgive but replace hatred with love and love is at the core of who the Trinity is for each person, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Christ even had to leave the security of the Godhead (human language of what happened) to take on human nature. To raise us up from rationality to spirituality, Jesus had to say YES, the same YES that the Word uttered at the beginning of all that has a beginning and an ending. (Philippians 2:5-12).But taking on human nature, Christ had to endure pain, suffering, betrayal, jealousy, and all that comes from living in a condition of Original Sin, without sinning. St. Paul goes so far as to say that Christ became sin for us, he who knew no sin, because of that divine love, the Divine Equation at work.

There was one last part to the Divine Equation. Having endured humiliation, betrayal, and beating, scourging at the pillar, crowing of thorns, the stripes by which we were healed, having his mother look on as he marched to the crucifixion, and eventual death on the cross, Christ, Son of God, Messiah, transformed all reality by, with, and through his sacrifice that was offered to the Father, so that we could call God Father, so that we could be one with our brother, Jesus, so that we might, as we live in the individual seventy or eighty years we have to behold all of this, we could say YES to God in humility and truth that Jesus is Lord. That is a long sentence to say, The Divine Equation is not to be solved mentally, but with an act of our will that God’s will be done in my heart as it is in Heaven. And not only that, I can approach God now through, with, and in Jesus as heir to the Kingdom of Heaven, my destiny as a human, where I belonged from the beginning of when there was no time or matter. I am the only one who can transform living in my part of space and time to resonance from the dissonance of Original Sin and my personal sin (missing the center of what I was intended to be according to my nature).

As a Lay Cistercian who tries to be focused on having in me the mind of Jesus each day (Philippians 2:5), I have come to realize that I am the center of my time on earth but I must prefer nothing to the love of Christ because that allows God’s presence to fill me with His own energy. I can’t sustain myself without taking up my cross daily (whatever I face) and doing what Christ said. These Cistercian practices and the charisms that fall my way by of being in the presence of Christ through the Holy Spirit come not from me, but from the Divine Equation, One Reality with Three distinct dimensions, the template for tormorrow.

THOUGHTS ABOUT HOW THE TRINITY INFORMS MY SEEKING GOD EACH DAY

  • I hold that contemplation is an art to be mastered not infused by our Baptism. Because of Original Sin, I must work for what I get in spirituality as well as the bread for my table.
  • I realize that I must decrease and Christ must increase for me to increase the love of the Trinity in me. I depend on God to give me what I need, as a loving Father, the Son as my Advocate and mediator with the Father, and the Holy Spirit to provide me the energy I can accept to love others as Christ loves me.
  • I realize that the Trinity is revealed by Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.
  • I realize that I don’t have the human capacity for knowing God as He is, but rather I have the capability of knowing God through contemplative practices. I must decrease, He must increase.
  • I believe that entering the Kingdom of Heaven at Baptism, redeemed by the blood and death of Christ, my whole life is to learn how to have in me the mind of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 2:15)
  • The Divine Equation does not exist on paper but is transmitted from the heart of Christ through the Holy Spirit to human hearts so disposed.
  • The Divine Equation is not a problem to be solved that only a few may know but rather a key to how to love others as Christ loved us. It is open to all but not everyone either realizes it or wants it once they do know about it.
  • The Divine Equation is to be lived depending on our disposition or capacity (capacitas dei) to receive energy, love, service, and knowledge from God. The Divine Equation is God sent to humans through Jesus Christ to give us grace.
  • I believe that God the Holy Spirit took over as my advocate when He ascended to the Father to bring his mission to completion and be glorified by the Father for his sacrifice of love for humans, as a continuation of that same love He is between the Father and the Son.
  • I begin each day by making the mark of the cross (the Trinity) to offer the day to the Father through the Son by the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • The Divine Equation: One Nature, Three Persons. 1=3;
  • The Rule of Threes: One Reality with three distinct universes or realities
  • The myth of Perseus and the Trinity might seem far-fetched but in one of my Lectio Divina meditations, the Holy Spirit presented me with the idea that for humans, and especially for me, the Trinity was revealed by Jesus to help me through the challenges of living in the world but taking my values and energy from a source outside of me. I am not the spokesperson for the Holy Spirit. As such, I am just an end-user trying to move from my false self to my true self. To do that takes a source of energy outside of myself and even outside of the physical and mental universes. The Trinity is the kingdom (Father), the power (the Holy Spirit), and the glory (The Son, Jesus Christ) forever. God would not have made us orphans, left wailing and a victim to our own nature. Like Perseus, the Trinity left us three gifts at our baptism. We have a whole lifetime to learn how to use them. Jesus, Son of God, Savior even left the security of God to become human to SHOW us how to use this Divine Equation correctly. https://sites.google.com/site/basicgreekmythology/hero-s/perseus
    • Athena also left Perseus a magic shield and told Perseus not to look the ugly gorgon in the eye, to use the shield for his eyes. Then Athena left, the following night Perseus was visited by Zeus himself. Zeus gave his son a sword made from diamond and told the young hero that it was the strongest blade and was sure to cut the head off the beast. Zeus also handed Perseus Hades’ special helmet, the Helm of Darkness, which would make whoever wore the helmet invisible. That same night Perseus was also visited by Hermes, who loaned Perseus his winged sandals. Perseus armed with his new gifts set off to follow the advice of Athena.
    • The Father gives each person the helmet to enhance knowledge of how to love others as Christ loved us. This helmet is the energy of the Father to know as each of us can know what is good.
    • The Son gives each person a shield to protect the heart from the attacks of Satan and prevent us from being overcome by evil.
    • The Holy Spirit gives the gift of the fiery sword, perhaps the same one used by St. Michael to guard the Gates of Heaven. This sword is the double-edged blade of truth.
    • Altogether, they help us to know, love, and serve God each day and to prepare ourselves to live with the Trinity as we face the quandary of each day, trying to move from self to God.

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THE SIGN OF TRANSFORMATION

When each of us is Baptized in water and the Holy Spirit, it is a ceremony to signify that entering into the spiritual universe is a free act of the will to accept Jesus as Lord. Accepting Jesus as Lord means that first, God loved us and selected us from before the world began. Read one of my favorite passages from John 15 (I say that about all the passages) and try to sense the power contained in the words. Ask the Holy Spirit to enable you to become what you read in the holy text. John 20:30-31 tells us why we even have Holy Scripture. Scriptures should not be your terminal center but a means whereby you are present to the Word and grow in grace and wisdom.

The Vine and the Branches.1* “I am the true vine,* and my Father is the vine grower.a2He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes* so that it bears more fruit.3You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.b4Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.5I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.6*c Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned.7If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.d8By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.e9As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love.f10If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.g11“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.h12This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.i13* No one has greater love than this,j to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.14You are my friends if you do what I command you.15I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends,* because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.k16It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.l17This I command you: love one another.m

The World’s Hatred.*18“If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.n19If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you.o20Remember the word I spoke to you,* ‘No slave is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.p21And they will do all these things to you on account of my name,* because they do not know the one who sent me.q22If I had not come and spoken* to them, they would have no sin; but as it is they have no excuse for their sin.r23Whoever hates me also hates my Father.s24If I had not done works among them that no one else ever did, they would not have sin; but as it is, they have seen and hated both me and my Father.t25But in order that the word written in their law* might be fulfilled, ‘They hated me without cause.’u26“When the Advocate comes whom I will send* you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me.v27And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.w

* [15:116:4] Discourse on the union of Jesus with his disciples. His words become a monologue and go beyond the immediate crisis of the departure of Jesus.

* [15:117] Like Jn 10:15, this passage resembles a parable. Israel is spoken of as a vineyard at Is 5:17Mt 21:3346 and as a vine at Ps 80:917Jer 2:21Ez 15:217:51019:10Hos 10:1. The identification of the vine as the Son of Man in Ps 80:15 and Wisdom’s description of herself as a vine in Sir 24:17 are further background for portrayal of Jesus by this figure. There may be secondary eucharistic symbolism here; cf. Mk 14:25, “the fruit of the vine.”

* [15:2] Takes away,prunes: in Greek there is a play on two related verbs.

* [15:6] Branches were cut off and dried on the wall of the vineyard for later use as fuel.

* [15:13] For one’s friends: or: “those whom one loves.” In Jn 15:913a, the words for love are related to the Greek agapaō. In Jn 15:13b15, the words for love are related to the Greek phileō. For John, the two roots seem synonymous and mean “to love”; cf. also Jn 21:1517. The word philos is used here.

* [15:15] Slaves,friends: in the Old Testament, Moses (Dt 34:5), Joshua (Jos 24:29), and David (Ps 89:21) were called “servants” or “slaves of Yahweh”; only Abraham (Is 41:82 Chr 20:7; cf. Jas 2:23) was called a “friend of God.”

* [15:1816:4] The hostile reaction of the world. There are synoptic parallels, predicting persecution, especially at Mt 10:172524:910.

* [15:20] The word I spoke to you: a reference to Jn 13:16.

* [15:21] On account of my name: the idea of persecution for Jesus’ name is frequent in the New Testament (Mt 10:2224:9Acts 9:14). For John, association with Jesus’ name implies union with Jesus.

* [15:2224] Jesus’ words (spoken) and deeds (works) are the great motives of credibility. They have seen and hated: probably means that they have seen his works and still have hated; but the Greek can be read: “have seen both me and my Father and still have hated both me and my Father.” Works,that no one else ever did: so Yahweh in Dt 4:3233.

* [15:25] In their law: law is here used as a larger concept than the Pentateuch, for the reference is to Ps 35:19 or Ps 69:5. See notes on Jn 10:3412:34. Their law reflects the argument of the church with the synagogue.

* [15:26] Whom I will send: in Jn 14:1626, the Paraclete is to be sent by the Father, at the request of Jesus. Here the Spirit comes from both Jesus and the Father in mission; there is no reference here to the eternal procession of the Spirit.

a. [15:1Ps 80:917Is 5:17Jer 2:21Ez 15:217:51019:10.

b. [15:313:10.

c. [15:6Ez 15:6719:1014.

d. [15:714:13Mt 7:7Mk 11:241 Jn 5:14.

e. [15:8Mt 5:16.

f. [15:917:23.

g. [15:108:2914:15.

h. [15:1116:2217:13.

i. [15:1213:34.

j. [15:13Rom 5:681 Jn 3:16.

k. [15:15Dt 34:5Jos 24:292 Chr 20:7Ps 89:21Is 41:8Rom 8:15Gal 4:7Jas 2:23.

l. [15:1614:13Dt 7:6.

m. [15:1713:341 Jn 3:234:21.

n. [15:187:714:17Mt 10:2224:9Mk 13:13Lk 6:221 Jn 3:13.

o. [15:1917:14161 Jn 4:5.

p. [15:2013:16Mt 10:24.

q. [15:218:1916:3.

r. [15:228:21249:41.

s. [15:235:23Lk 10:161 Jn 2:23.

t. [15:243:29:32Dt 4:3233.

u. [15:25Ps 35:1969:4.

v. [15:2614:1626Mt 10:1920.

w. [15:27Lk 1:2Acts 1:8.

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WE HAVE A CROSS TATTOOED ON OUR SOUL

Did you know you have a tattoo on your soul as a result of your baptism? Be it as an infant or adult, you are marked for life and cannot unmark yourself. This is why the Catholic Church recognized that there is only One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism. Read Ephesians and try to relate the Oneness of God to all those Baptized in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

I, then, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received,a2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love,b3striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace:c4* one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call;d5one Lord, one faith, one baptism;e6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.f

This sign is the cross, a simple + that no one can see but God and you. It signifies our adoption as sons and daughters of the Father, it is a badge of shame to be crucified on the cross but with the Christ Principle, we are transformed into our true nature, the one in the Garden of Eden before the fall, the one that has perfect resonance of all creation rather than dissonance. Each day, we are asked to carry that cross of our, as did Christ once did for all of us. Each day, I must die to self to be raised up to new life, one that sanctifies the day with the purpose of life– Deuteronomy 6:5 and Matthew 22:36. Each day, I must seek mercy for myself by giving mercy to others. Each day, I must call upon the Lord to be saved. Each day I must seek God. Each day, I must remember, as St. Benedict prescribes in Chapter 4 of the Rule, prefer nothing to the love of Christ. The point here is that this does not happen automatically with an act of my individual will. The Church cannot save me, although I am saved through the Church. I am only save through, with and in Christ.

The tattoo on my soul must be sustained each day or the ravages of living in a secular world will overtake it, just like rust does to a piece of iron. Doing nothing as a follower of Jesus is doing something that may lead to my faith atrophying. God put the tattoo on my soul to remind me that I am a pilgrim in a foreign land until I reach Heaven. Christ is with me, but won’t do it for me.

LAY CISTERCIAN PRACTICES AND CHARISMS

Lay Cistercians are those laity who do not live in a monastery but live Cistercian (Trappist) practices and charisms where they are and how they are in the world. Here are some of the Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5) thoughts I had about my tattoo.

  1. It is not my tattoo but God’s. I use it until I reach heaven.
  2. My tattoo has no power from me but is a sign of transformation, my hope each day that, at St. John, the Baptist says, “He must increase, I must decrease.”
  3. I am a follower of Jesus, one who tags along walking after Him (trying to keep up despite my leukemia and cardiac pacemaker) just to hear what he is telling me.
  4. Each day, the journey is different as I seek Christ in whatever life brings my way. As I am transformed by the love of Christ, so must I be transformed in all that I meet, be they persons, events, prayers, Lectio Divina, Eucharist, and especially being aware of the presence of Christ and the Holy Spirit (my two advocates) in all being encountered. I am just beginning to see what my center means: “Have in you the mind of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5) St. Benedict would say: “that in all things, may God be glorified.”
  5. I am not fixated on the end of the world coming anytime soon, but rather on the beginning of a new day, one in which I, once more, confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of the Father with the Holy Spirit.
  6. The sign of the cross is the sign, not only of contradiction but also of our transformation because of the Resurrection of Christ.

THE PRACTICE OF CONTEMPLATIVE TRANSFORMATION

Here are some of the ways that I try to practice transformation because I look at the cross tattooed on my soul.

  • Every morning, I sit on the edge of my bed and make the sign of the cross on my forehead while saying: Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ. I join with you today in all that I see, all I do to give you honor and glory, Father, through your Son, in union with the Holy Spirit. May your will be done on earth in my life today as it is in Heaven. Have mercy on me.
  • Every day, I seek God by reading Chapter 4 of the Rule of St. Benedict with the prayer that I become what I read.
  • Each day, if I can remember, I try to be aware of the golden sun as it hits the green trees, of the Mockingbird chirping outside my window, of the sweet smell of oxygen as I inhale deeply.

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

THE DIVINE EQUATION: THE FORMULA FOR FOREVER

When speaking of anything that has to do with God, humans are at a disadvantage. Our human nature (being), sentient though it is, is not even in the same ballpark as divine nature. The gulf is so great that human intelligence can only know what it can know within its natural limits. God had to step down from being God (purely a human term, which is not entirely accurate) to take on our human nature. (Philippians 2:5-12) No one has ever seen God, but God’s Son, Jesus, revealed him to us.

1 In the beginning* was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.a 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3* All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be.b What came to be 4 through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race;c 5* the light shines in the darkness,d and the darkness has not overcome it. 6* A man named John was sent from God.e7He came for testimony,* to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.f8 He was not the light, but came to testify to the light.g 9The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.h

10 He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him. 11 He came to what was his own, but his own people* did not accept him. 12i But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, 13*j who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God.

14 And the Word became flesh*and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.k 15* John testified to him and cried out, saying, “This was he of whom I said,l ‘The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.’”16 From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace,*17 because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.m18 No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God,* who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him.n

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

To approach the unsolvable equation, I had to realize that what I am dealing with is a mixture of what is peculiar to human nature but also what incorporates what we are able to discern about divine nature, based on what Christ told us. This duality of natures doesn’t make sense with the limited knowledge and measurement that the secular world provides us. The divine equation comes from God and is solved with the energy of God. Humans can pick up some of it through Scriptures, the writings of early fathers and mothers of the Church, the ecumenical councils, and the magisterium of the Church.

If I were to write an executive summary (short and sweet) about the Divine Equation, it might go something like this.

God loved me so much that He emptied Himself taking on the nature of a human being as Christ Jesus in all things but sin to make it possible that I might claim my inheritance as the son (or daughter) of the Father and live in Heaven with all the righteous..forever.

Characteristics of this Divina Equation Formula

A formula is a set of scientific or logical statements that someone uses to solve a problem or, as in theoretical mathematics and physics, go where no one has gone before. The famous Frank Drake equation with its formula about the probability of life existing elsewhere in the universe is one of my favorite. Dr. Drake proposed this formula, and people have been trying to fill in the blanks ever since. They are getting there. My point is, there is an equation that people are trying to solve. Here is the Drake Equation to answer the Fermi Paradox: Where is everybody? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drake_equation

Equation[edit]

The Drake equation is:{\displaystyle N=R_{*}\cdot f_{\mathrm {p} }\cdot n_{\mathrm {e} }\cdot f_{\mathrm {l} }\cdot f_{\mathrm {i} }\cdot f_{\mathrm {c} }\cdot L}{\displaystyle N=R_{*}\cdot f_{\mathrm {p} }\cdot n_{\mathrm {e} }\cdot f_{\mathrm {l} }\cdot f_{\mathrm {i} }\cdot f_{\mathrm {c} }\cdot L}

where:N = the number of civilizations in our galaxy with which communication might be possible (i.e. which are on our current past light cone);

and R = the average rate of star formation in our galaxy p = the fraction of those stars that have planets e = the average number of planets that can potentially support life per star that has planets f l = the fraction of planets that could support life that actually develops life at some point i = the fraction of planets with life that actually go on to develop intelligent life (civilizations) f c = the fraction of civilizations that develop a technology that releases detectable signs of their existence into space L = the length of time for which such civilizations release detectable signals into space[5][6]

Science, logic, and even the Catholic Church all have equations that seek to uncover what is real. In the case of science and those whose assumptions are merely the physical and mental universes, it is determining what is using the languages of mathematics, physics, logic, and peer review. Not only is science a critical part of being human and our search for meaning in what we can and cannot see, it is a defining characteristic of our movement from animality to rationality. But is that all there is to the evolution of the human experiment? There must be more to it than a progression of seventy or eighty years for each individual and then, like the rest of matter, we return to the dust.

My approach (those who seek to know what is real by both looking at what is and what cannot be seen by Science), is a collection of experiences of people who see reality from the viewpoint of that there are three universes, each distinct, each with a different measuring stick, but one reality. For lack of a better title, I call it the Rule of Threes. You might have a different approach. Both you and I have the ability to know that we know but also to choose what is good or bad for us. In truth, no one chooses what is bad for them, which seems to be at the nexus of the human dilemna: If I have the ability to choose what is good for me, where does that choice come from: from my heart or the Christ Principle? One choice comes from inside me the other is a choice I select from outside of me but one which I hold to be the center of my existence. Each human has such a center, one that only we can select. A problem, due to the vagaries of Original Sin and its effects, is that this center is revolving, i.e., I must work constantly like a gardner to keep myself centered.

The Church Universal is just a big file cabinet of each person’s life, data, if you will, to show how the collective in heaven, on earth, and awaiting purification did with having in them the mind of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 2:5). To use a very poor but very human analogy, Heaven will be having access to that file cabinet so that, like a library, we can take out each file and measure ourselves against it and see how we did, how close we came to loving Christ as he loved us.

GOD’S FILE CABINET

God is the file cabinet that contains all there is, every atom, every thought people ever had, the choices each person made and their consequences. We can look at every file there is and see the linkages with everything else and how we are linked together into one thread that ends in the heart of Christ. These files are not dead pieces of paper, but living persons with whom can interact. The first thing I would ask is: What center have you chosen for your life and what were the struggles you had to keep it there? Here are some centers I want to approach to seek wisdom for myself as a Lay Cistercian.

I. What is God’s Center: Why does God need a center? As I understand it and propose this for your consideration, a center is that which is at the core of your being, the one principle, that, if you took it away, all else would crumble. It is the capstone, the reason for existence, even as a divine being. Because we are seeking things we know not, we can only speculate on what it is but give it our best shot with the knowledge we have at the time.

God’s center is himself. God is not male nor female or both. God’s gender is who he is. There is no tock to God’s one tick. Human categories of thinking can’t begin to describe this phenomena because the only source of who God is, is God.

If we use an imperfect but human analogy of an archer’s target, humans aim for the 100 percent bulls eye, which is the best score. It is the center, the prize for archers to try to achieve consistently and accurately. Each human has a center that they must discover in their lifetime, the one point on the bulls eye to which all other scores are subordinate. There are never two 100% centers to your life. But what about God’s center, being 100% of his divine nature. Speaking in broad terms, like Dr. Frank Drake did when speculating about the possibility of life out there, God is the entire bulls eye. The 100% is the entire target. There is no 99% of what is real. The problems human face in their attempt at a center is that we can never reach 100% of our nature by our human reasoning alone or by anything we choose of this world, be is love, or fame or fortune.

God told us not to worry about not being able to define ourselves. He told Moses that His name is, “I am the one who is.” God did not give us the Divine Equation for who He is because we humans do not have the capacity or capability to receive it. I have come to the realization that God is just 100% of his nature, and I don’t begin to know what that means from God’s perspective. So, God has a problem. How does he talk to humanity without talking down to them and disrespecting them? God’s problems (the Alpha) are the solution (the Omega). In the Genesis accounts (Gen. 2-3), He would send Himself as a human to reestablish the linkage between divine and human nature that Adam and Eve disrespected and cause dissonance in the world (Original Sin). (Philippians 2:5-12) This Divine Equation is a mega-formula whereby humans can access the Divine Internet and call upon the name of the Lord for mercy, for forgiveness, for life, for the way, and for the truth.

THE NUCLEAR FUSION OF GOD

Everything we know of takes energy, so what fuels God?

Applying the Divine Equation to this question, (remember, I can’t say this is who God is, but I can say these are the reflections of a Lay Cistercian using my reason and freedom of choice offered to me for my consideration by the Holy Spirit in my Lectio Divina), God is 100% of who He is, whatever that is. This Being realized that humans (in the Old Testament) would never answer the six questions of life needed to fulfill their destiny as sons and daughters of the Father but needed help. Both the answers and the authentic answers to these six questions come, not from logic, nor human reasoning, although without human reasoning we would not be able to move or next generation of evolution, the spiritual universe. God sent Jesus, the Messiah, to us to share with each of those who want the power to move from rationality to spirituality.

This power is a person, the Holy Spirit, the nuclear fission of God’s own center overshadowing us. By ourselves, humans are powerless to lift ourselves up by our bootstraps to become adopted sons and daughters of the Father. Our nature cannot approach divine nature. We would fry our neurons with the overload of knowledge, love, and service from the interaction of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Rather, like the Blessed Mother, we are overshadowed by the Second Advocate, the Holy Spirit, which gives us the power of God as we can receive it. This is not a one-time conversion and then we just ride the roller coaster of life until we get to Heaven, but rather the power from God to claim our adoption as sons and daughters of the Father and to claim our inheritance. This kingdom of heaven is the Church Universal, in heaven, now on earth, and for those for whom we pray for purification.

Divine nature is pure energy, pure knowledge, pure love, and pure service. Like the Rule of Threes, there is one nature but three distinct persons. Do you begin to see a pattern to this Divine Equation? Science does not yet possess the formula to encompass all reality, just the physical universe alone. It is not that it is limited as much as it is not advanced enough to account for pure energy. What is needed is the mathematics or physics of Energy. God has the answers and actually gave us this Divine Equation but it demands one die to self and the world to be open to the totality of the possibility of the manifestibility of all being encounter. One of the first things I will do in Heaven, after being one with my family in the oneness of Christ, will be to ask to have lunch with Carl Sagan, Steven Hawking, Einstein, Enrico Fermi, and Paul Dirac to ask them, “With what you know now, how do you see science and what it has evolved into? What do you think of the Divine Equation now? Can you take me on a tour?

How does God allow humans to be human and yet approach pure energy without destroying all memories and erasing the hard drive of our short life span? God so loved the world that he sent His only Son. I would like to take some time to reflect on the following passage. I offer it because it is not just a quote but the context in which you can feel what the writers felt about the absolutely incredible Christ Principle, flowing in and out of all space and time towards Omega, and we are passengers with that same Christ Jesus.

1a Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.*2He came to Jesus at night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one can do these signs that you are doing unless God is with him.”b3Jesus answered and said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born* from above.”4Nicodemus said to him, “How can a person once grown old be born again? Surely he cannot reenter his mother’s womb and be born again, can he?”c5Jesus answered, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.d6What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit.e7Do not be amazed that I told you, ‘You must be born from above.’8The wind* blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”f9Nicodemus answered and said to him, “How can this happen?”10Jesus answered and said to him, “You are the teacher of Israel and you do not understand this?11Amen, amen, I say to you, we speak of what we know and we testify to what we have seen, but you people do not accept our testimony.g12If I tell you about earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?h13No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man.i14And just as Moses lifted up* the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,j15* so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”16For God so loved the world that he gave* his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.k17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn* the world, but that the world might be saved through him.l18Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.m19* And this is the verdict,n that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil.20For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed.o21But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.p

Final Witness of the Baptist.22* After this, Jesus and his disciples went into the region of Judea, where he spent some time with them baptizing.q23John was also baptizing in Aenon near Salim,* because there was an abundance of water there, and people came to be baptized, 24*r for John had not yet been imprisoned.25Now a dispute arose between the disciples of John and a Jew* about ceremonial washings.26So they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you testified, here he is baptizing and everyone is coming to him.”s27John answered and said, “No one can receive anything except what has been given him from heaven.t28You yourselves can testify that I said [that] I am not the Messiah, but that I was sent before him.u29The one who has the bride is the bridegroom; the best man,* who stands and listens to him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made complete.v30He must increase; I must decrease.”w

The One from Heaven.*31The one who comes from above is above all. The one who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of earthly things. But the one who comes from heaven [is above all].x32He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony.y33Whoever does accept his testimony certifies that God is trustworthy.z34For the one whom God sent speaks the words of God. He does not ration his gift* of the Spirit.35The Father loves the Son and has given everything over to him.a36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him.b

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

II. What is the Father’s Center? One God. Pure energy and pure knowledge. He is the Lord of Creation.

III. What is the Son’s Center? OneGod. Pure energy and pure love. He is the Lord of Redemption, the Messiah fulfilled, our Advocate with the Father. At the same time, there is a hypostatic union of humanity and divinity. https://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07610b.htm

IV. What is the Holy Spirit’s Center? One God. Pure energy and pure service. He is the Lord of Truth, our Second Advocate before the Father.

V. What is my center? There is only one of me. I have reason and the ability to choose what I think is right for me. The problem is, sometimes I choose those things that are unauthentic about love, knowledge, and service. Whatever I place at my center, there my heart is, there my God is. I realized that God so loved me that, even if I sin or choose Satan over me, He still loves me unconditionally. He leaves me free to choose anything without reprisals and send me to Hell. God doesn’t send anyone to Hell, did you know that? If I go to Hell, it is because, knowing what I am doing, knowing the consequences of my sins, I still choose Satan over God. It is because I am unrepentant and prefer hatred to love. We will be judged according to our actions. (Matthew 25).

VI. What is the center of the Church Universal? Yes, the Church has a center. It should be the same center you have, to have in you the mind of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 2:5) Read about it in the Scriptures, the Early Writings of the Church, The Ecumenical Councils, the Creeds, the teachings through the Magisterium down through each age. Christ tells us to love each other as He loved us. The Church is the incarnation of Christ in each age, in each individual lifetime through Baptism. The Church is our mother who nourishes us with the Food of Heaven in the Eucharist and gives us a kiss on our bruised arms when we sin, telling us not to worry and keep our eyes on Christ.

False Centers There are centers which, if we place them there, no matter how nice it might sound, are false. A Center must be true for the physical universe, the mental universe, and the spiritual universe. Here are some false centers that are not powerful enough, by and in themselves, to lift you up to the Kingdom of Heaven from your rationality. Do not make any of these your center.

  • The Catholic Church or any denomination (organized or unorganized)
  • The Blessed Mother (Do what he tells you!)
  • The Saints or Martyrs
  • The Scriptures (John 20:30-31)
  • The Pope and Magisterium of the Church
  • Power
  • Seven Deadly Sins
  • Work
  • Adulation
  • Money
  • Fame
  • Fortune and Glory (Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom)
  • Sex
  • The Golden Calf
  • The Democratic, Republican, or any political party
  • Idolatry
  • Witchcraft
  • Black Magic
  • The Devil (Satan)
  • Me (the big one)
  • My Family
  • Secular Humanism
  • My nationality, race, gender, affiliations in the military, social clubs, or politics
  • Food
  • Alcohol, Drugs, Orgiastic State (Erich Fromm)
  • Good Works (as an end in themselves)
  • Lay Cistercians, Religious Orders, The Clergy

God, through Jesus, the Son of God, Savior, tells us there is only one way, truth and the life. As you read in the Scriptures above, you believe it or you don’t.

CONTEMPLATIVE PRACTICE: Wresting with Boredom

When it comes to living out what it means to be human, each of us must face the consequences of being bored with life, with spouse and family, with the job, with the church, with trying to find out those activities in life that keep us interested. I guess my first recollection of boredom comes from watching my own family over the years as they face the daunting challenge of remaining Roman Catholic. The Church Universal, the Body of Christ, can never leave any individual, but each person can drift away from their center because they are just too lazy to do what it takes to sustain the Mystery of Faith in their life view. https://www.encyclopedia.com/philosophy-and-religion/philosophy/philosophy-terms-and-concepts/worldview-philosophy)

As a Lay Cistercian trying to seek God everyday in every way (The Christ Principle), boredom is a reality that is like the elephant in the room. It is there, I can feel it, I sometimes buy into it. It takes a conscious act of my will NOT to succumb to the temptation to consider what I am doing at this particular moment as being without meaning and somehow not linked to the totality of my world view i.e., have in you the mind of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 2:5) I believe that St. Benedict has such a center that he used when the temptations of repitition and sameness evoke feelings that what he was doing at the moment was in vain and meaningless. This is all the more evident in a Lay Cistercian-Cistercian-Benedictine approach to spirituality where everything you do, your purpose, what is meaningful is not of this world.

The world (secular thinking of fulfillment and happiness) thinks that being human is all about self, freedom to choose what you want that fulfills your sense of what is meaningful and finding what makes you happy before you die. The world scoffs at the kingdom of heaven as being a fairy tale, like the tooth fairy, or some Action Hero comic book. It doesn’t make sense. To which, I reply, it makes absolutely no sense in you hold there is no Christ Principle.

Boredom is one of those human tendencies that just happen as a result of being human. We, humans, get antsy when we must do something over and over, seemingly with no terminal purpose in mind. So, how do those same humans with all the tendencies of Original Sin stay focused on something as arcane as attending Divine Office five times a day in common, day after day, with the only meaning coming from moving away from the false self to a true self? The struggle comes in making all things new each day. I must admit, in my own case, it is a daily struggle to keep my mind focused on the source of my spiritual energy, the Holy Spirit, and my ultimate world view, to be happy, not necessarily in this life, but in the life to come with Christ.

This spiritual boredom is a crack in our resolve to “prefer nothing to the love of Christ,” as St. Benedict sets forth in the tools for good works, Chapter 4 of his Rule.

Chapter 4: The Tools for Good Works

1 First of all, love the Lord God with your whole heart, your wholesoul and all your strength, 2 and love your neighbor as yourself (Matt 22:37-39; Mark 12:30-31; Luke 10:27).

3 Then the following: You are not to kill,
4 not to commit adultery;
5 you are not to steal
6 nor to covet (Rom 13:9);
7 you are not to bear false witness (Matt 19:18; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20).
8 You must honor everyone (1 Pet 2:17),
9 and never do to another what you do not want done to yourself (Tob 4:16; Matt 7:12; Luke 6:31).

10 Renounce yourself in order to follow Christ (Matt 16:24; Luke 9:23);
11 discipline your body (1 Cor 9:27);
12 do not pamper yourself,
13 but love fasting.
14 You must relieve the lot of the poor,
15 clothe the naked,
16 visit the sick (Matt 25:36),
17 and bury the dead.
18 Go to help the troubled
19 and console the sorrowing.

20 Your way of acting should be different from the world’s way;
21 the love of Christ must come before all else.

https://christdesert.org/prayer/rule-of-st-benedict/chapter-4-the-tools-for-good-works/

WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE SPIRITUALLY BORED.

  • I realize that each and every day, my purpose must be God’s and not my own.
  • I must use humility to realize what is going on, as I attend Eucharist every day or as I can, and that this is not a ritual but God coming to say hello to an adopted son (or daughter). The energy of God is dynamic.
  • There is no boredom in heaven because God is pure knowledge, pure love, and pure service.
  • The fight against boredom is a struggle of my false self trying to seek its own level of satisfaction rather than doing what I must to maintain Christ as my center.
  • By myself, without Faith, I am nothing. I can only flounder in my own self-delusions of who God is. Only the Christ Principle strips away the shoddy illusions of the world to reveal true reality.
  • As soon as I realize what is going on with boredom (and sometimes that might take some time), I replace my lack of Faith with that of God’s energy in the Holy Spirit, then just wait. If I am a room, there is no room for boredom and making things new in Christ Jesus.
  • Boredom comes from repetition in the secular world. It carries over into the spiritual world, and I must choose to banish it with the help of the Holy Spirit.

The next time you realize that you are bored, give thanks to God for allowing you to use the Holy Spirit to say “NO” to this temptation in favor of “YES” to the purpose of your world view.

THE DIVINE EQUATION: Quidquid recIpitur ad modum recipientis recipitur.

This last week, a friend of mine wrote me a Linkedin message commenting on my notion of Original Sin in my blog, “Whatever happened to Original Sin.” He said, ” The notion of Original is as much a fairy tale as the Tooth Fairy.” Despite having a profound misconception of what Original Sin is or how it impacts the way humans connect with reality, I realized that my friend looks at reality much the same way as I do– we both take in information and make choices based on what we perceive is true or real. Original Sin, I would agree does not make sense with the assumptions that secular humanists have about what makes up what is real or not. Taken by itself, Original Sin is an archetype of our human quest to explain why some of us are good and some of us are not. Each individual person has only seventy or eighty years to determine how all of this fits together to make sense. We are free to choose whatever we want to explain what the purpose of life is. There are consequences to all of our actions and choices. The Divine Equation is my reflection on how the Christ Principle is at the core of all reality and, although it is the sign of contradiction as well as a paradox, makes this equation work.

Don’t ask me why I can remember an obscure Thomist principle about knowing when I can’t remember if I took my medicine this morning. In keeping with my series of Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5) meditations, linked together with the concept of The Divine Equation, my latest foray into reality with the Holy Spirit produced this long-forgotten Thomistic principle: Whatever is received, is received according to the disposition of the receiver. http://lonergan.org/2009/10/16/applying-a-thomist-principle-quidquid-recipitur-ad-modum-recipientis-recipitur/

If I think of having in me the mind of Christ Jesus in my attempts at contemplation, and I am sitting on a park bench in the dead of winter waiting for the Holy Spirit to come to me and give me whatever is on God’s agenda today, I can do so with the capabilities I have to be aware of the presence of Christ and a human degree of openness to what I am about to receive. Cistercians call that “capacitas dei” of making room for Jesus in your heart, your mind, with all your strength. (Matthew 22:36)

Being aware of the Divine Equation of God is no different. The sum of my life experiences for good as well as the sinful ones is who I am. I have made choices in life that define me. Hopefully, those choices are the same ones that are consistent with the heart of Christ. My disposition has a lot to do with the Divine Equation in three universes (physical, mental, and spiritual). St. Paul divides up reality into two types of realities that he calls the World (the flesh) and those centered around the Spirit of Truth. This principle applies to each time I pray and seek God’s presence through contemplation and love and applies to the bigger picture of the Divine Equation of all reality. Some people can’t see a spiritual dimension to their lives because they are unable to do so. People either are aware of the spiritual dimension to life, a center outside of themselves, or they can’t see it, don’t see it, and some just won’t see it. Humans have reason for a reason, plus the ability to make choices that have consequences. As Professor Dumbledore tells Harry Potter, we are defined by our choices, not our abilities. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GC7Aqc-h9no No, I don’t believe in witches, but I think these literary examples sometimes provide wisdom from the most unlikely sources. When you think that the Holy Spirit is not limited to spreading wisdom among us, surely that applies to all reality and not just you alone.

  • We are defined by our choices, not our abilities. What we choose to be real and the center of our lives compels us to act out what we choose. It defines who we are, but it also refines our ability to believe in that which makes no sense to the physical and mental universes (the secular world).
  • This formula is out of this world. Even though we have not reached the ultimate end of mathematics or physics and there is way more to learn, what we do have, in terms of measurements of reality, falls short of measuring the spiritual universe. The spiritual universe is contemplative (the Kingdom of Heaven is within) and is invisible. And as everyone knows, the problem with invisibility is you can’t see it. To use a crude and limited human analogy, the spiritual universe is like an iceberg where most of it is unseen, but it is real, and you fail to recognize it at your own peril. The spiritual universe is our next level of human evolution. It uses human reasoning to determine what choice is good and then chooses to find meaning and what is true. The whole human experience is so beyond what our senses and human experience can conjure up that most of us dismiss the idea of another level of evolution, part of a plan to enable humans to live with the results of their authentic choices. Not only is the spiritual universe the playground of God, but we have a reserved place in it. The problem is, we can only use God’s rules in His playground. Christ became one of us to show us how to play in this playground…forever. This is so far beyond the scope of human entertainment that people don’t even consider God as an option. So, how do we know about this mystifying place that people seem to make up to justify their fantasy about God? They wrote down what they saw and heard in their innermost thoughts. Suppose the Divine Equation is how to use the physical universe. In that case, the mental universe (reason and freedom to choose what is authentic), then the spiritual universe, answers this seeming conundrum. It provides resonance to what otherwise be a dissonant world that just has a beginning and end.
  • This Thomistic principle of communication suggests that some will see what Christ came to show us about how to love others as He loved us, while others with a disposition and a different center (perhaps only limited to secular humanism) that there is no spiritual universe, no resurrection, no ascension to the Father, and so there can be no eternity as Christ offered to us and certainly no adoption as sons or daughters of a Father. You and I, as individuals, get to choose what we think our reason tells us is true. Christ came to give us an option from outside human time and matter, one that not only transcends physical and mental reality but transforms those who choose that way of life as truth and fulfillment on earth using the Christ Principle as their center.
  • Unaided by Faith (God’s pure knowledge, pure love, and pure service), human reason cannot boost itself from human nature to divine nature. It is not possible. So, God sent his Only-Begotten Son to take on our human nature so he could live all of us up to the next level in our evolution, to live forever in Heaven with all others who have been marked with the sign of Faith and those whom God wants there. Matthew 25:36
  • Those who listen to the Holy Spirit (contemplation) and follow God’s will (authentic moral living and how to love as Christ loved us) will enjoy Heaven, not as God, but as adopted sons and daughters of the Father and heirs to the Kingdom of Heaven. What that means fully, we don’t know yet. (John 17) I know that I want to be on the side of Jesus rather than know that Jesus is on my side.
  • We will live the Christ Principle on earth and in Heaven according to our capacity to have in us the mind of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 2:5)
  • Contemplative practices of the Lay Cistercians are one way to enter into the presence of Christ as a way of life, to seek God each day and glorify the Father through the Son in union with the Holy Spirit.

THE CHRIST PRINCIPLE IS THE ONLY ONE IN WHICH THE HEART CAN SEE RIGHTLY

It might seem like a bold statement to say that not even the God of power and majesty and might can make you believe something you don’t want. To me, this concept reflects what is going on with religion today. The younger generations did not have to come through the trials and tribulations of belief, like those who lived long ago in the Church of the Martyrs did. Belief is not tied to the cross and with giving up self to follow Christ because it seems too easy and is boring. Our age contains martyrs for the Faith but it is the martyrdom of ordinary living, struggling in an age where it is more important to think easy thoughts rather that the difficult choices of the cross, that defines modern day believers. We must believe without having seen the marks of the nails in his hands or put our hands into his side. We tire easily of the push of Original Sin to lead us away from what does not make sense to the mind alone, but completes the resonance of a dysfunctional drift of the human spirit towards self satisfaction and boredom.

What I place at my center is who I am. Tell me what your center is, and I will show you who you are and that person you will become. Whatever I receive in my center, I receive the disposition to make it my core. If all I think about is how religion is a fairy tale, that is my center. I choose what can never fulfill me as a person, nor will it allow me to prepare to live for all eternity in resonance with all that is.

My center is: “Have in you the mind of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5) Every day I must struggle to move from my false self to my true self. Only the Christ Principle provides me with the sustainability and capacitas dei to survive the gauntlet of Original Sin and come out battered but whole.

A TALE OF LOVE

Here is a story that came out of my Lectio Divina. When I die, I am going to stand before the Throne of the Lamb and give a particular accounting of who and what I am.

Jesus will say to me “Let’s see the book of your life.”

“What book of life? Lord, I don’t have any book with me. Do you mean the Bible?”

“No,” says Jesus, looking a little annoyed, “I made you into a book at your Baptism so that you could record what I told you about loving others as I loved you.” “The Bible is a collection of stories of people who have tried to love God with their whole hearts and minds, and the way that is authentic and what leads to failure? Your book is how you did that to others using all that I taught you.”

“Look at yourself, Michael,” said Jesus. “You look like you have just been in a fight and are all bruised and bandaged for the cuts on your soul. Why don’t you come in and let me take care of you. You may enter and share your Lord’s joy.”

“Can I ask you a personal question, Jesus?”

“Sure. I am good at knowing both the six questions of life and their authentic answers. They are one of my greatest accomplishments.”

“Lord, I noticed that on the way up here, that many people were headed down the mountain with heads lower and murmuring, ‘Have mercy. Have mercy.’ Why are they on the way down and look for depressed? They are dressed beautifully and don’t have any cuts or bruises on their bodies, unlike me. They seem perfect. Frankly, I was embarrassed to stand before you because I was all beat up and broken-down old, temple of the Holy Spirit.”

“Those are the ones that have not struggled in battle but have chosen the easy way in life rather than what is right. They are going to a place of purification and penance to atone for their sins. When they are ready, they can come here and ask for admission.”

“As for you, welcome into my kingdom prepared for you from before the world began. Congratulations! Shake hands.”

I reached out my old and bruised hand to shake hands with Jesus. He reached out his hand to me, and we just clasped each other’s hands. I looked down at our hands together and saw those of Jesus. They were bruised, and then I noticed that he had the marks of the nails in his hands and a spear wound below his heart. He looked into my eyes and smiled with the most beautiful expression of love I had ever experienced. Everything I ever hoped for with my center “have in you the mind of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5) made complete sense. It filled the deepest corners of my soul. He kept shaking my hand up and down and holding onto me with a firm grip. That penetrating smile was such that I could not take my eyes from him.

“Forever,” He said, “I will never let you go,” grinning from ear to ear. “Let me introduce you to my mother.”

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WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO ORIGINAL SIN?

I have been captivated to the point of binging on some YouTube videos of science that probes into the future and what human might look like in 4000+ years. As hyped up as I am about the shows, it occurred to me to step back and ask one question: With all the advances that this program touted for the future of humanity, with space flights to other worlds, hyperdrives and speed of light travel, mining asteroids and other moons, and colonizing space, how about Original Sin? Will humans take that with them? Will there be only good and righteous people colonizing whatever is out there, or do the seven deadly sins exist even in space? Will there be Lay Cistercians in those star travelers who must move from their false self to their true self? Reality should be viewed from three dimensions in the future: physical reality, mental reality, but most importantly spiritual reality. That in all things may God be glorified. –St. Benedict

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