When I look at my closet, I have accumulated tons of clothes, 98% of which I will never wear again. Old age has not only made my skin wrinkle, but reduced my desire to “look good” to other by dressing up in suit and tie, or other fancy wearing apparel. I do have one suit to my name (next to the ones I never wear). I am in the process of culling out those I have not worn for at least two years and giving them to the St. Vincent de Paul Store or Goodwill in my community.
This might seem like strange way to begin a Lectio Divina (Phil 2:5), but, as I have told you before, I don’t control this stuff. It comes out of the spigot and I just write it down. My thoughts were about Jesus paying the price for us to live with Him…Forever, as originally intended in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. I thought, what will I wear? Actually nothing. We won’t exactly be naked either because Heaven is beyond what we know about energy, matter, and time. We just are, like an eternal Now. My thinking, certainly not the official doctrine of the Church, is that what we being with us will be what we live out in Heaven. God can do anything He wants or make Heaven anyone He chooses (I would like to meet his decorator, whom I suspect are Chip and Joanna Gaines with their family) https://www.hgtv.com/shows/fixer-upper At least I hope so. Read Matthew 25:31-46 to see what we can bring with us to Heaven. It’s quite sophisticated. In another blog I write about the four gifts God gives us to get to Heaven, much like Paul wrote about in Ephesians or the gifts that Zeus gave Perseus so that He (Perseus) could defeat Medusa and thus kill the Kraken. They are:
A CUP –– my very favorite photo (but that is another blog for another time) of all time. It captures who I am. In my Lectio Divina on the cup (Phil 2:5) I thought about God giving each of us a copy upon our birth. We still have Original Sin, so we can/t put anything in it yet. Upon Baptism (adoption as sons and daughters of the Fathers), we can begin to fill up the cup. In infant Baptism, our godparents can fill the cup up for us. As Lay Cistercians, what we place in the cup are those things we become in our prayers and charisms. Again, go to Matthew 25:31-46. The Church of the mind tells us what to put in the cup, but it is with the Church of the Heart that we place those things in the cup that have value, both for us and for God. Prayer is lifting up the heart and mind to God. In the Eucharist, Liturgy of the Hours, Rosary, Lectio Divina, reading Chapter 4 of St. Benedict’s rule every, having in you the mind of Christ Jesus (Phil 2:5) every day, we lift up this cup of salvation given to us in Baptism and filled by the Holy Spirit, to God, a continual sacrifice of praise and glory to the Father through the Son with the Holy Spirit. Every time I look at the photo of the cup, I am reminded of my commitment as a Lay Cistercian to convert my life to the Life of Christ. I am not there yet, but, to paraphrase what the fox says to the Little Prince in the book of the same name, it is the time you take to want to have your heart next to the heart of Christ that is important. St. Benedict, in his Chapter 4 of the Holy Rule, states: prefer nothing to the love of Christ. What a wonderful cup of blessings we have been given. When we get to Heaven, the Father will ask us. “Let me see your cup that I gave you upon your birth.” Hopefully we won’t say, “Wa-Wa-Wa What cup?” While you still have a chance to fill your cup, taste and see how good the Lord is.
VALUE: You get a way to hold those things you want to take with you to Heaven, consistent with God’s will, that is.
A GOLDEN THREAD – Remember the ancient myth of Ariadne and her thread?
|Goddess of the Labyrinth, Vegetation, Mazes, Paths, Fertility, Wine, Labyrinths,Snakes, and Passion|
|Symbol||Thread, Serpent, Bull|
|Parents||Minos and Pasiphaë|
|Siblings||Phaedra, Catreus, Deucalion, Glaucus, Androgeus|
|Roman equivalent||Ariana, Libera|
Ariadne (/ˌæriˈædni/; Greek: Ἀριάδνη; Latin: Ariadne), in Greek mythology, was the daughter of Minos—the King of Crete  and a son of Zeus—and Pasiphaë—Minos’ queen and a daughter of Helios. She is mostly associated with mazes and labyrinths because of her involvement in the myths of the Minotaur and Theseus. Her father put her in charge of the labyrinth where sacrifices were made as part of reparations (either to Poseidon or to Athena, depending on the version of the myth); later, she helped Theseus overcome the Minotaur and save the potential sacrificial victims
Loosely speaking, Ariadne is associated with providing a thread to someone to allow them to get out of a labyrinth or a jam. In my Lectio Divina (Phil 2:5) Christ gives to each person who accepts the will of God (says yes to God as God) a golden thread at Baptism and Confirmation. One end is tied to your heart and the other end is tied to Christ’s heart. Christ gives us a way out of the labyrinth of Original Sin (also call the World in the New Testament) Christ will never break this thread, but you might. If you do, Christ is the great mender, making all things new, once more. This is a special, mystical (I didn’t say magical) thread. With this thread, you have, while you live, the ability to thread it through anything, anyone, any situation, any event, and bring that with you when you die and Christ reels in the golden thread to meet His heart. Think about it. Enjoy a sunset or a piece of music, your golden thread is capable of threading through it so you can enjoy it later. If you have cardiac arrest or Leukemia (CLL type) like me, you can even thread it to take all of that with you to Heaven. Of course, what you take with you is your resignation to God’s will for you with your illness and using this opportunity for reparation for past inconsistencies in your life. Since this thread it also tied to the heart of Christ, you can’t take sin or anything associated with evil with you. The Golden Thread will not thread evil. The point is: wake up, look around you with the eyes that see God in the sunrise and sunset, how God is reflected in animals and nature, how we are stewards of the earth, how we can make all thing new again with Christ’s help. Learn to sew!
VALUE: You have a way to take with you those experiences, feelings, people, anticipations, prayers, invisible reality, physical reality, and mental reality, to Heaven.
THE BOOK OF LIFE– The ancient Egyptians had a Book of Life and a Book of the Dead. The Scriptures speak of a Book of Life Revelation 21:27 “…But nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” Your name is written in the Lamb’s book of life when you are accepted as adopted son and daughter of the Father (Baptism and Confirmation). The remainder of your life, you must struggle to keep your name there. As a Lay Cistercian, we do this through prayer and conversion of life to Christ on a daily basis. To help us, we have the community of Faithful where we get the opportunity to share the Holy Spirit with them. To those who “listen with the ear of your heart,” as St. Benedict advises in the Prologue to the Holy Rule, we can hear with ears that the world cannot comprehend nor pick up. Another interesting gift of the book of life for me is that I can place all of those for whom I intend to pray in it. Like saving a file to your computer, it is always there. All I need to do is access the group (family, friends, Lay Cistercians, Good Shepherd Faith Community, the sick, those suffering from addiction or mental illness, the young, those in my family fallen away from the practice of the Faith, my instructors at St. Meinrad High School, College and School of Theology, my instructors at Indiana University and Loyola University (Chicago). God’s computer is big enough for me to hold all these intentions in place and recall them when I want.
VALUE: We can link up with those who have passed onto a new reality, those who are still struggling on earth, and those awaiting purification with no effort at all. All are One in Christ. Christ is One with God. God is One.
A PAIR OF TRI-FOCALS — When you look at the physical universe, you do so through a microscope or a telescope, depending on what you seek. When you look at the mental universe, you use bi-focals to be able to see the big picture of life and also to achieve your personal meaning in the eighty years you have on this earth. It is when we get to the spiritual universe, with it emphasis on the Mystery of Faith that things become foggy. We don’t see well in three universes with just bi-focals.. Words donn’t have the same meaning in the spiritual universe as they do in just the physical and mental universes. When we use words like “love,” “sacrifice,” and “faith,” they mean something entirely different in the spiritual universe than what is meant in the physical and mental universes we inhabit on a daily basis. The difference is Christ. Because he became one of us from being God (Phil 2:5-12), he showed us what love was, so that we could love like that. Because he loved us, He wanted us to love one another as He had loved us, His only command. Because we love one another, we do so in community, not as individuals. You can’t just have one person love themselves. You need to love others. Tri-focal glasses are those that allow us to see with the eyes of adopted sons and daughters of the Father. We may not be able to comprehend the complexities of reality, like looking through a foggy window, but we know what is on the other side because Christ told us about it, and, we want to experience that type of love, forever. Without tri-focals we are blind to the realities that lie beyond our desire to be our own god. With tri-focals we see as through a glass that barely allows us to see what is on the other side of the window. We trust in the words of Christ, “Where I am, I want you to be.” (John 17) It is wrong to think of religion as a crutch, it is a set of tri-focals. You have received tri-focals as a gift from Christ, when you entered the authentic realm of the Mystery of Faith. A caveat, not all religions will lead you there. Choose wisely!
TOP TEN FAVORITES: Music
Well, you may be asking where music fits into all of this. I outlined my thinking about how to take things with you to Heaven. I intend to take music with me. Here are the top 10 songs I want with me (actually there are many more) to Heaven. You realize how impossible this task is. There are thousands of songs on my list. I use my golden thread liberally.
After I made this list, it reminds me of St. Thomas Aquinas who told those around him that all he had learned up to this point is so much straw. These ten are only drop in the bucket but I would not call them straw. The good thing is, you can take all songs to Heaven if you use the golden thread. Music is the occasion to see God.
You may have a different set of ten favorites. We all do. I tried to limit it to singers only. I will use another set of ten for classics and jazz. Write down your ten favorites. Don’t forget to say why you liked them.
Music is one of the ways we can lift our minds and hearts to God in prayer.