During one of my Lectio Divina (Phil 2:5) encounters, my thoughts wandered to the meaning of Jesus’ command: love one another as I have loved you.  What can this mean? Does Jesus just come down to earth and abandon us to the perils of Original Sin with all its swirls and eddys of unbelieve or even false beliefs?  It came to me that God does indeed give us helps with trying to convert our lives daily from self to God. God give us five gifts to help us in our journey to Forever.

  • The Cup of Salvation
  • The Thread of Meaning
  • The Light of the World
  • The Book of Life
  • Special glasses

There are probably more gifts we receive, but I will focus on The Cup of Salvation for this blog.


Notice the photo above.  Look at it intently for five minutes (yes, for five minutes).

As you look at it ask yourself what you see. Rememer that there are three dimensions to this photo. One is the physical unverse, where you see foggy glass, a cup, a somewhat dirty window sill, vague images on the other side of the window, the color of the cup, the color of the window sill. One dimension is the mental universe, where you can go beyond just the phyiscal universe to what it means. What is means is influence by the addition of a spiritual universe, one which depends upon how you relate to the Sacred. Your mind gives meaning and the spiritual universe adds the dimension of God.

This is a blog about what I discovered about the spiritual meaning of the cup.  It has to do with my assumptions about who God is, who I am, my purpose in life, how I view reality, how all of it fits together, how I love fiercely, and finally, what is the final outcome for me after I die.  Using my mental universe, I try to make sense out of what I see is just a cup sitting on a dusty ledge overlooking a foggy glass.  What can it mean?  I use the physical universe of the cup, using my mental capabilities to intrepret a spiritual meaning for me that leads me from self to God.


When I see the cup in this photo I think that everyone gets a cup from God when they enter the spiritual universe. We get gifts when we make our Confirmation or Bar Mitzvah as a sign that this is a special time. God gives us four gifts, one of which is a simple cup. It is an empty cup because each of us must fill it up. God won’t fill it up for us but, ironically, it is God grace and energy with which we fill it.  St. Benedict has a list of good works that will fill our cup. As a Lay Cistercian, I try to read a least a portion of Chapter 4, every day.  ThatI do it every day, because I want to fill up my cup with the goodness of God.  Your cup is different from mine, but they both come from God. God does not fill our cup FOR US but we fill our cup because of what Christ taught us. Read Matthew 25:31-46. I am thinking I must take up my cross daily and follow Christ. It doesn’t matter if my road is rocky or I have difficulties. All of my actions, my morning offering, my attendance at the Liturgy of the Hours, the reception of the Holy Eucharist, my recitatin of the Rosary, my daily Lectio Divina contemplation, all help me to keep my cup from spilling.   I think that when I am judged by Christ, he will asked to see my cup and determine how faithful I have been in keeping his love in it. Being a sinful person (don’t love with all my heart and mind and strength) I have the obligation to have in me the mind of Christ Jesus. I ask for mercy. Only people with full cups can get to Heaven. Christ fills up my cup with his own love so that I can live Forever. Christ must increase, I must decrease.


I am thinking of Mary, Mother of Jesus, Mother of God. She received a cup from Christ when she entered the spiritual universe. Mary is human, not god. She is like all of us, but with this difference. According to Scripture, she was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit.  For me, this means that Mary’s cup was so filled with God’s love and grace that there was no room left. I received my cup empty and must spend my life trying to fill it up.  Mary’s cup was filled for her by God. That is why we say she is full of grace, her cup runneth over, there is no room for sin. She could not have had sin because Jesus is without sin. We honor Mary and ask her to interceed for us before the Throne of the Lamb because she, of all humans, is the perfect human, what Adam and Eve would have been, had they not sinned. Mary is the second Eve.


This photo tells me a lot about my life. Life is cluttered and somewhat messay. The window is cloudy and we can’t see what is on the other side== well, almost, but not quite clearly. This is like my life. As a Lay Cistercian, I try to clarify what I can about the mystery of faith using my reason. Sometimes, the spiritual universe conflicts with the physical and mental ones, i.e., trying to measure the spiritual universe with the scientific tools.

As a Lay Cistercian, the cup reminds me that I must convert my life daily to something that does not make sense to the world, to take up my cross daily and tame my humanity by denying self and accepting Christ. Christ must grow and I must decrease. Far from being an abandonment of my humanity, paradoxically, it is precisely what makes me more human.


  • Christ gives us a cup when we enter the spiritual universe. The problem is, you must fill up your cup with God’s grace and good works (Chapter 4 of St. Benedict’s Rule).
  • The spiritual universe is a sign of contradiction. What is up in two universes, is down with three universes. Christ gives us glasses (faith) to see. Far from being a crutch for reason, faith actually allows us to see what the eyes cannot see and hear what the ears cannot hear. Spirituality, to the scientific mind, does not make sense.  It doesn’t!
  • The cup of salvation allows you to collect your good works and hold them in your spirit until you are judged.
  • Christ gave us only one command, to love one another.  We are given instructions over and over to have mercy on those as we want God to have mercy on us.
  • Creation is the realm of the Word. Resurrection is the realm of the Word made flesh. The Word made flesh in us through good works of Christ is the realm of the Spirit.  The Church universal is asked to make all things new in each age.

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. Amen and Amen. Cistercian doxology.





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