The following excerpt is from my book entitled, For Behold, I Make All Things New: A Lay Cistercian reflects on mercy, forgiveness, confession and penance to grow in faith, love, and service.

I can remember it very well. I stood as high as my little toes would allow and had mom measure how tall I was. Since 3rd Grade, I stood there solemnly every year on my birthday and got measured. I could see the lines growing up and up, until my last measurement, in 8th Grade. My crowing achievement was to actually see that I was taller then my mom. Measures are ways to predict time and direction, as well as growth in the spirit, if you have the correct measuring stick. Here is one way I use to tell if I am with reality.  This is what I wrote in my book.

  1. WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF MY LIFE? Within the framework of God’s plan for us, it is good to know what your plan is. This is called a center. It is not centering prayer, for those familiar with this approach. Each person has one center that fuels their behaviors, attitudes, and aspirations of meaning. If you have six or seven principles of life, you can have only one center, the capstone of all the others. In step one above, the purpose of life, you accepted what God gave you as the purpose of the human race. In this second step, you must choose your personal center and how you will implement God’s purpose in your life. If you have not done so, write down the one principle on which all others depend (it may be a phrase, a short scripture passage or a saying). My own personal center is Philippians 2:5.

(Write a short center statement here.)

Here are some ideas about how to choose an authentic center. Your center should…

  • be immutable (does not change from whim to whim)
  • be something that helps you get to Heaven.
  • give you the energy to overcome the lure of the world (i.e. power, money, pleasure for pleasure’s sake, lording it over others less fortunate).
  • make you more like Jesus and less like you.
  • be so deep in its wisdom that it would take a lifetime to attain, if at all.
  • be uniquely your own and freely chosen.
  • be something you fall back on when you have a crisis in your life.
  • be the bedrock of all your actions and behaviors.
  • be strong enough to get you to Heaven.

Your purpose of life is the measuring rod to see how you close you are to God’s purpose.  If you choose a center, you will have difficulty maintaining it, if it is authentic. The reason is original sin. Think of not cleaning or dusting or cutting grass at your house for two months. No laundry, no washing dishes, no fixing spills,  just let nature be natural. If we let our human nature go, it would be like your house. This is living in two universes. Without a purpose that is linked to God’s reality, you have no way to overcome the effects of original sin, no way to clean up your house. As a Lay Cistercian I try to follow the practices and charisms of those before me, so that I can free myself from the effects of original sin.

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


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