This admonition of St. Benedict in his Chapter on the tools monks can do to move from self to God is one of my favorites. It gets to the ancient dialectic between the world and the spirit, as St. Paul frequently uses. Read Galatians Chapter 5.
Genesis is one of those great archetypal stories of why we humans find ourselves in a world where everything eventually dies and is there anything beyond that? It is a marvelous account by probably at last four authors of what fidelity is, what betrayal is, the effects of that break in relationship and hope. Jesus comes, not only to fulfill Scriptures, but also the longing in the human heart to live…Forever.
To differentiate that which is the world’s way and that which are God’s ways, we are washed with water and the Spirit. It washes away the world’s Original Sin (but not its effects) and gives us the promise of adoption as sons and daughters of the Father. It is Hope that the words of Christ are indeed the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Faith to be able to see what is unseen comes from God as a gift to us. We don’t deserve to be adopted. After all, Adam and Eve ruined our covenant. Christ re-established it by giving his life (Philippians 2:5-12). As one who follows Lay Cistercian practices, this is the very center of my life, the purpose of why I am here, the way in which I choose to love my neighbor as myself, the practices I try to follow in Chapter 4 to love God with ALL my heart, my soul, and my strength. Of course, I fail in each day, but I begin each day in the Hope that I will be a little better than before.
There is a duality of realities, once I am accepted by God as an adopted son or daughter of the Father. The Spirit guides me to see what is invisible to the world, to be more like God and less like me, to realize that I am a pilgrim in a foreign land, that I am in the world but not of it.
The struggle, basic to every human, is one where you are god or God is God. You make that choice in your way of treating others, of how you find purpose in life, or how you communicate with others. To be a stranger to the world’s ways is to realize that your destiny is not one of this life, and that those behaviors you exhibit will not lead you to Heaven. When you read Chapter 4 of St. Benedict’s Rule, there is a blue print for the behaviors what lead to oneness with God. This is the genius of St. Benedict. The problem for me, as a Lay Cistercian, is, I must take up my cross daily and try to follow the Master.
Fortunately for me, Christ helps me to carry my cross by giving of Himself in the Eucharist, Lectio Divina, Liturgy of the Hour, Spiritual Reading, and work.
Praise be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever. The God who is, who was, and who is to come at the end of the ages. Amen. –Cistercian Doxology