One blustery, blue day, as I sat contemplating Philippians 2:5, as part of my Lectio Divina, I looked out my office window only to see that the weather outside was foggy, so much so that I had second thoughts about going to Mass that morning. My thoughts, went to the late Stephen Hawking, grateful for his penetrating, cosmological insights into physical reality. I also thought of how, with all his brilliance and insights into physical reality, he could have missed the clues and signs telling of a deeper reality, one that we cannot see and measure with the tools of Science, so far. My thoughts swung radically to my own struggles with such overpowering phenomena such as divine energy, pure love, and pure knowledge. (Knowledge, Love, and Service for those who don’t recall their catechism.) Then it all came together. The fog outside was like a veil, clouding reality but not changing it, making it difficult to see clearly. Stephen Hawking, for all his insights, like so many of his colleagues who see reality through the lenses of just the physical universe, can’t look at reality as it really is. Reality is clouded in fog, which I will label The Mystery of Faith, for lack of something more penetrating. It is like the dark matter and energy of the physical universe: you think it is there but have yet to prove it.
My next question was, why can the least in the Kingdom of Heaven recognize that there is a part of reality that is just beyond knowing and part of it hidden and learned doctors of physics and medicine fail to comprehend it? Why is there just enough of it given to us to discern the meaning of love? Why did someone on the other side of the window (see the photo above) have to tell us what was on the other side and not to worry. Humans are not capable of fully knowing what awaits us as we fulfill out destiny in a place not of this earth, the Kingdom of Heaven. To help out our senses and our limited ability to deal with the unknowable, God sent his only Son to show us how to live. With the Resurrection of Christ, the Kingdom of Heaven on earth began. We were welcomed as adopted sons and daughter of a loving Father, one that loved the world so much (John 3:16) that he sacrificed his only Son on the altar of the world, much like Abraham was willing to do with his son, Issac. (Genesis 22). Does this prove that God exists using the language of mathematics, physics, or chemistry? Probably not. It does prove that science can’t look into directly at the Mystery of Life and make sense of what they find. They find it too ambiguous, too subjective, too much like a magic trick performed by Penn and Teller.
And then there is that fog outside my window, thick, impenetrable with my eyes, yet I know that something is out there, just like the photo above. I know that there is a physical universe out there, a rocky ball of gases following the laws of nature. I know that there is a universe where only humans live, although we are part of the physical universe. This is the universe of making sense of the physical universe of what was and asking what make it up and how is it composed. It allows us to know that we know. Know what? One thing is how to access the ultimate level of reality, the spiritual universe, the Kingdom of Heaven (both on earth now, and in Heaven in the future). The third universe is one approached only by the heart using what we know with our minds. Some will never be able to look at this universe and will see only the fog. Others will know there is something on the other side because some from the other side came to us to show us how to see with the eyes that penetrate the fog of invisibility. The problem with invisibility is, you can’t see it. Invisible reality is something science has a difficult time wrapping its theories around, yet it is the product of the greatest mathematical formula of all time, the product of three universes all moving together in one way, with one truth, and one life… Forever.
As a Lay Cistercian, I have a big problem with a one or two universe hypothesis. Having tasted and seen the sweetness of the Lord, having experienced love beyond what this world offers with its secular lures and false promises, I know that there is something out there. Remember, the word “know” is not meant as the world gives it, but with humility and obedience to God’s will, and a recognition that someone has given me the ability to see in the fog, even though my human senses fail sometimes.
We discover that we are on this rocky ball of gases for a reason. Once we look around the universe, we ask, where is everybody? We have evolved human reason for a reason, to move to the universe of meaning. Like science, which just looks a the physical universe and seeks to discover the wonders of reality, so too does the mental universe allow some of us to approach the more radical view of reality, one that involves both visible and invisible reality, reality that is our destiny as humans, one that contradicts everything we know about science, but one that, if accepted, leads to life…Forever. This is not a barren rocky world humans can inhabit, but the fulfillment of our human nature with help from the divine nature.
With science alone, none of this makes sense, I agree. But viewing reality as a mystery of Faith, not the fog, but the reality some of which we can see and much of it which we can’t, it makes some sense. Stephen Hawking looked at reality but just saw the fog. The least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than him. (Luke 7:29) He could not look at the Mystery of Faith, that there is a realm beyond knowing with our limited human intelligence, without seeing the fog. To be sure all religion is not true. We have reason for a reason, to be able to discern not only what satisfied the mind but also what stimulates the heart to love in ways we still can’t imagine,
Just as the Church cannot be whole until both realms of the mind and heart are one, so too, science will never be able to see past the fog with the tools that they have. My tools as a Lay Cistercian are the Rule of Benedict, Chapter 4. They enable me to move beyond physical reality with the “capacitas dei,” capacity for God. To do that takes work and takes assumptions that are foreign to most scientists, i.e., the Resurrection, the Eucharist, Being loved by pure love. Scientist are fixated on how humans can travel off of this planet to another planet (which we have not yet discovered), rather than seeing this lifetime as training for how to live…Forever in a condition without matter, energy or time, based on the word of a Carpenter who died as a criminal. Crazy? Here is what’s crazy.
Some think Jesus is just a magician, some think he is not God but just a man who had a messiah complex, some think his believers after he died covered up his death and spread the story he rose from the death, some won’t see anything when they look at the fog, much less be intrigued by a blustery day in March. To those who do not see the assumptions and signs, be they scientists, movie stars who believe their own press, politicians who pander to the weak minds of those wanting another messiah, to false prophets who preach what they do not belive and believe they are the only one to whom God listens, to teachers of College-level Scripture courses who have lost the ability to see in the fog and to believe what they teach, to college students who are seduced by the lure of the fun-loving secular gods and goddesses, what you sow, you shall reap. My hope is that God is merciful to you. Even more, I hope God is merciful to me, a broken-down. old temple of the Holy Spirit.
What follows is a poem about my life. It is, as yet, unfinished as is my life, but the elements are all present.
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 the energy I receive from The One in Whom I find purpose and meaning…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, 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 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