CHAPTER FOUR:To deny one’s self in order to follow Christ.

CHAPTER IV
The Instruments of Good Works

(1) In the first place to love the Lord God with the whole heart, the whole soul, the whole strength…
(2) Then, one’s neighbor as one’s self (cf Mt 22:37-39; Mk 12:30-31; Lk 10:27).
(3) Then, not to kill…
(4) Not to commit adultery…
(5) Not to steal…
(6) Not to covet (cf Rom 13:9).
(7) Not to bear false witness (cf Mt 19:18; Mk 10:19; Lk 18:20).
(8) To honor all men (cf 1 Pt 2:17). (9) And what one would not have done to himself, not to do to another (cf Tob 4:16; Mt 7:12; Lk 6:31).
(10) To deny one’s self in order to follow Christ (cf Mt 16:24; Lk 9:23).
(11) To chastise the body (cf 1 Cor 9:27).
(12) Not to seek after pleasures.
(13) To love fasting.
(14) To relieve the poor.
(15) To clothe the naked…
(16) To visit the sick (cf Mt 25:36).
(17) To bury the dead.
(18) To help in trouble.
(19) To console the sorrowing.
(20) To hold one’s self aloof from worldly ways.
(21) To prefer nothing to the love of Christ.
(22) Not to give way to anger.
(23) Not to foster a desire for revenge.
(24) Not to entertain deceit in the heart.
(25) Not to make a false peace.
(26) Not to forsake charity.
(27) Not to swear, lest perchance one swear falsely.
(28) To speak the truth with heart and tongue.
(29) Not to return evil for evil (cf 1 Thes 5:15; 1 Pt 3:9).
(30) To do no injury, yea, even patiently to bear the injury done us.
(31) To love one’s enemies (cf Mt 5:44; Lk 6:27).
(32) Not to curse them that curse us, but rather to bless them.
(33) To bear persecution for justice sake (cf Mt 5:10).
(34) Not to be proud…
(35) Not to be given to wine (cf Ti 1:7; 1 Tm 3:3).
(36) Not to be a great eater.
(37) Not to be drowsy.
(38) Not to be slothful (cf Rom 12:11).
(39) Not to be a murmurer.
(40) Not to be a detractor.
(41) To put one’s trust in God.
(42) To refer what good one sees in himself, not to self, but to God.
(43) But as to any evil in himself, let him be convinced that it is his own and charge it to himself.
(44) To fear the day of judgment.
(45) To be in dread of hell.
(46) To desire eternal life with all spiritual longing.
(47) To keep death before one’s eyes daily.
(48) To keep a constant watch over the actions of our life.
(49) To hold as certain that God sees us everywhere.
(50) To dash at once against Christ the evil thoughts which rise in one’s heart.
(51) And to disclose them to our spiritual father.
(52) To guard one’s tongue against bad and wicked speech.
(53) Not to love much speaking.
(54) Not to speak useless words and such as provoke laughter.
(55) Not to love much or boisterous laughter.
(56) To listen willingly to holy reading.
(57) To apply one’s self often to prayer.
(58) To confess one’s past sins to God daily in prayer with sighs and tears, and to amend them for the future.
(59) Not to fulfil the desires of the flesh (cf Gal 5:16).
(60) To hate one’s own will.
(61) To obey the commands of the Abbot in all things, even though he himself (which Heaven forbid) act otherwise, mindful of that precept of the Lord: “What they say, do ye; what they do, do ye not” (Mt 23:3).
(62) Not to desire to be called holy before one is; but to be holy first, that one may be truly so called.
(63) To fulfil daily the commandments of God by works.
(64) To love chastity.
(65) To hate no one.
(66) Not to be jealous; not to entertain envy.
(67) Not to love strife.
(68) Not to love pride.
(69) To honor the aged.
(70) To love the younger.
(71) To pray for one’s enemies in the love of Christ.
(72) To make peace with an adversary before the setting of the sun.
(73) And never to despair of God’s mercy.

Behold, these are the instruments of the spiritual art, which, if they have been applied without ceasing day and night and approved on judgment day, will merit for us from the Lord that reward which He hath promised: “The eye hath not seen, nor the ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love Him” (1 Cor 2:9). But the workshop in which we perform all these works with diligence is the enclosure of the monastery, and stability in the community.

A SPIRITUAL POLAR SHIFT

No wonder people who were waiting for the Messiah did not recognize him. He came as a child, was a carpenter, preached God’s love for all humans, and was crucified as a criminal of the State. It was a classic sign of contradiction. The sign of contradiction happened when a new epoch was born, one that fulfilled the old one and seamlessly move to a higher level of spirituality.  I like to think of it as a polar shift, similar to the one the physical universe has when North and South poles reverse. What is North is not South. What is down is now up. 

When meditating on Phil 2:5 the other day as part of my Lectio Divina practice, I thought about how Jesus came to earth to allow us to become adopted sons and daughters. I also thought of the North and South Pole reversals that happens every three hundred thousand years and wondered if the coming of Christ was like that Pole reversal.  This fits together for me when I realize that, like a Polar Shift, the Resurrection marks the beginning of a new language. It is the sign of contradiction.  Such is the adage of St. Benedict of denying oneself to follow Christ. Deny what?

When I consider my notion of living in three universes (physical, mental, and spiritual), to deny oneself is to accept that there is a more fundamental way to think about the World (spiritually) than just human reality.

THE RULE OF OPPOSITES

So much of what Jesus does not make sense, such as take up your cross and follow me. The World (default values of society) does not give us what we need in order to be spiritual. Grace does not come from nature but from God. Truth is not only true in nature but also comes from the God who lives in mystery, the Mystery of Faith.  What makes perfect sense to one in the spiritual universe, such as denying oneself to follow Christ, is a stubling block to those without both the knowledge and the faith to see beyond what the World offers as fulfilling. Here is are some reflections from my book, The Three Rules of the Spiritual Universe. The third rule I call the Rule of Opposites because when Christ came, he turned the spiritual universe on its head. What is real in this universe is the opposite of what the World presents as meaningful.

Luke 1:26-38 tells a story of a young Jewish girl who was told she would be the mother of a child called Son of God. Philippians 2:5-12 also tells of how God became one of
us, taking on our nature. Let me describe this event in a totally different way. Once, pure energy existed in a reality so prefect and complete, that it was 100% of its nature. This energy was not only one person but had three separate identities, pure knowledge, pure love, and pure service. This energy needed no external power from outside but was fueled by the love that existed between them. This is the spiritual universe, one with no space or time. The entity, which we will call God, wanted to share this love with others throughout reality, wherever they may be. The physical universe was created with a single Word, but an eternal one. This physical universe evolved to a point where, at least on earth, animal nature could not contain itself any longer. Humans popped out of this temporal womb. The mental universe was born. Many hundreds of years would pass until this entity decided to become one of us to show us how to join them in Heaven. The spiritual universe was born. In our short, human span of life, our purpose is to find the truth, and freely choose to join God …Forever. It is our human destiny. Write down your thoughts about each of these meditations on the Rule of Opposites in the space marked notes.

Christ  is the Great Sign of Contradiction.
This statement doesn’t make sense, does it? You need to use the Rule of Threes to analyze the above statement. When God speaks to us, he ALWAYS speaks to us in the language of the spiritual universe. That is one of the purposes for the Master making himself one of us– to open up the spiritual universe and to talk in our language. If you use the word, “relationship,” in the physical universe, it may mean the interaction between atoms, or gravity and a moon. In the mental universe, the same word can mean the interaction between two persons, married or not. In the spiritual universe, the word, “relationship” means, among other things, the direct flow of God’s own energy into two or more fragile human vessels, without blowing our circuits. It also means that relationship is defined according to God’s rules, not yours. Relationship in the mental universe allows you to find your purpose in life. However, if your direction is not aligned with God’s reality, you may lose it. If you are one with pure energy, and struggle to keep your head above water, no matter what you do, you will find life…Forever. What doesn’t make sense in human categories, makes perfect sense when you think spiritually. Do you know any examples of a person losing his or her life for the Master’s sake, and finding
life…Forever? Anyone who finds his life will lose it; anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:39

Notes:

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You will never be able to prove that God exists using human measurements. You can prove that humans exist.  You must use spiritual measures to prove that God exists.
Actually, if you are spiritual, you don’t need to prove that God exists. If you are not spiritual, it won’t be possible to convince” someone that there is a force of pure energy
out there, greater than anything we can possibly imagine. t is the Gamaliel paradox. Read Acts 5:34-42. Part of the challenge to find meaning in life is to be able to use the Rule of Opposites to “see” what cannot be seen, to “hear” what cannot be heard. Is this a secret? Far from it. What is most real is most hidden from humans. The reason we humans have reason is to be given the chance to discover this invisible world right in front of us. The Master had  to come to show us the way, because we were missing the point. We kept thinking that what was most real was most visible. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is a universe of spirituality that does not exist in space  and time. We have no reference points to comprehend it, yet, it begins inside us. How profound! The Kingdom of Heaven begins with a free choice to join, and it is inside you. Heaven begins now, not later.

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In the spiritual universe, what is most real is most hidden.

What could be more profound than a being made of pure energy, one who only lived in a universe that is, one who did not corrupt nor suffer death. This is the supreme being
we call God, for lack of a better name. God gave his name to Moses. Read Exodus 3:13-15. “I am the one who is” or “I am who am” is the business card God gave to Moses.  This most simple of life forms, God, is telling humans  that he is all there is. In the spiritual universe, God speaks, not with words, but with one mind. God, in the Christian
tradition, is one but yet three, just as there are three distinct universes, yet one reality. The most simple life form there is, simply is. This life form does not have a past, a
present, or a future. God now has a problem. How can  you ask someone to come to Heaven and live in such an alien place? That invitation would frighten most of us to
death. The Master came to show us how to use our present world as a framework for what we will experience in Heaven, once we die. Earth now becomes the Kingdom of
Heaven which lies within each of us. This most simple of life forms, God, gave us one of the most complex enigmas facing humans: “What is my destiny, and how will I fit into a universe I cannot see?

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The higher the life form, the simpler it is. God is One. There are  no Twos.

It is not easy to read the Holy Scriptures. A point of debate between literalists and traditionalists is the question of who gets to Heaven. Both groups claim certitude. If both
groups are correct, we have a big problem. You can not hold both positions at the same time.

THE LITERALIST
A literalist is one who believes that the words in Holy Scripture are not to be interpreted as meaning anything but what they say. No matter that someone else reads the same
scriptures and comes up with a different conclusion. The bible is clear and not to be the stuff of debate. Someone must be born of water and the spirit, or he will go to Hell.
Ironically, it is their interpretation of what the Bible says that they claim as truth. With this approach, everyone who is not of their church is going to Hell. If true, that is a big
chunk of humanity that just went down the drain.

THE TRADITIONALIST
A traditionalist is one who believes that the words in Holy Scripture may be interpreted according to the tradition in which they are set. The traditionalist also holds that you
must be born of water and the spirit. What that means is guided by tradition of the first 150 years of the church to the present. God is the ultimate judge. Unless a man be born
through water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. John 3:5

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The oft quoted Lord Acton said, “Power corrupts and absolute
power corrupts absolutely.” One of the great lessons
of life is to learn the meaning of power.
A new CEO recently took over a service company that gave technical assistance to its vendors and customers. A funny thing happens when CEOs take over. Everything
goes back to zero. There is a new paradigm at work, until people can figure out which programs are in favor with her, and which programs are irrelevant and a waste of time.
In the spiritual universe, things are not what they seem, when you use the word “power”. For the CEO, power is the ability to make systems of the organization change
direction. Power for someone who is spiritual means you must be the least important, the servant of everyone. This is a mind-set that says, “I am here to be of service to you.” Unconditional love is the basis of service in the spiritual life. You don’t ask how much it will cost you. You don’t ask how little you can do. You do the maximum. The reason you do this is that the Master has given us the template, the model, and way to eternal life.
For the least among you all, that is the one who is great. Luke 9:48

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Life is all about contradictions. Each day, you face a truggle within your very self as to who will win, either your spirit or your flesh.

What comes from the flesh is self-indulgence. Read Galatians 5:19-22. Tanya did not want her mother telling her what to do. She would yell at her mother that she was twenty-one years of age, and could do whatever she wanted. Her mother just rolled her eyes and told her to get an education. Tanya’s Rule of Opposites was on the self-indulgent level. She
would dress provocatively, hang around with druggies, and drink to excess almost every night. Although she was enrolled in a local Community College, she failed all of her courses–she never showed up for class. Tanya was having too much fun fornicating, masturbating  in front of her girlfriends, and indulging in group sex, to give a hoot about what anyone thought of her. As she spun out of control, she started snorting cocaine.
Life was there for her to sample, and she was going to do her best to taste all of its pleasures. Tanya’s mother tried to talk to her, but with no success. Tanya’s path led straight down-hill. Eventually, she was found dead of an overdose of cocaine with alcohol. Tanya did not follow the Master but her own self-indulgence. She was free to
choose, and she did not deny herself. Her selfindulgence killed her. Truly, the wages of sin, in her case, was death.

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To get to Heaven, you must deny yourself, take up your cross and follow The Master.

How can you possibly gain anything when you lose your life? It doesn’t make sense. The folly of God is wiser than the wisdom of humans. The Rule of Opposites means
someone who is spiritual has a perspective that says a total emptying of self for the sake of the Master will bring about everlasting happiness, in this world, and in the life
to come. (Phil 2:5-12) What you lose is not your physical life. By using your mental capabilities, you can add another universe on top of your animal self that says, “He must increase, I must decrease.” St. Paul writes it this way. “…I believe nothing can happen that will outweigh the supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For him I have accepted the loss of everything, and I look on everything as so much rubbish, if only I can have Christ and be given a place in him. I am no longer trying for perfection by
my own self, the perfection that comes from the Law, but I want only the perfection that comes through faith in Christ, and is from God and based on faith. All I want is to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and to share his reproducing the pattern of his
death.” Philippians 3:8-11.

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Do you see the Rule of Opposites at work in the spiritual life of St. Paul? Do you see it at work in your own life?

As he entered college, Franklin was proud of his independence. As a founding member of the freethinkers support group, he advocated that there was no God, and no one was going to give him direction. Once in the workplace, he enthusiasm for esoteric causes waned. He was particularly puzzled by one thought: all of the values that he treasured
most were invisible. His travels to Thailand, South Korea, and Indonesia provided him with perspective. He was intrigued by other cultures and how they related to an unseen force. Franklin was very drawn to Buddhism and its principles. Although he never married, he discovered love in the most unlikely places–a monastery. High in the
mountains of Chile, he finally found what he was searching for all these years. His wandering was over. His searching for a focal point for his life had ended. Franklin would
tell you his search was just beginning. Franklin entered a Trappist monastery in Chile, something he could have never imagined. At fifty years of age, Franklin discovered
that what he had been seeking all these years was right in front of him all along. He was happier than he could ever have imagined. He was grateful that he had discovered true
purpose and meaning within the space of life afforded him.

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The greatest reality is the most invisible…God.
In the Old Testament, the covenant was made with a whole people, the chosen ones. As the tribes of Israel developed into a more sophisticated form of governance, they moved
from judges, to kings, as rulers. In the fullness of time, the next phase in the blueprint of reality was unfolding. This was the age of a new king, one who was to free the people.
But, there was a catch. This person was God himself, come down in the form of a human–a baby. How vulnerable! Free the people from what? Perhaps it was from the notion
that they were the only ones whom God loved. The Master is the Learning Doctor, the Rabbi, who teaches us to reach our fulfillment as humans. He told us something totally different than the Old Testament. The Kingdom of Heaven was not outside of us, it was inside us. Instead of only having the community have a covenant with God, there was added a deeper dimension, a personal relationship, a one-to-one with the Master, and through him to the Father. What seems like a contradiction is actually more true than its opposite.

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The Kingdom of Heaven is not a space but a relationship, a linkage inside you that will lead to…Forever. The Kingdom of Heaven is within you. I have come to set
father against son… Luke 12:53
To be a disciple of the Master, sometimes you must make choices even against your own son or daughter. Read Luke 12:49-50.

Felix and Justine were the proud parents of a baby boy, their only son, Luke. They were so proud of him. In grade school, Justine wanted him to play the organ, so they gave
him expensive lessons, even though Felix was on disability and Justine did not work. Life was good. In High School, Luke wanted to be artist. His father wanted him to go to Law School. The tensions only grew as Justine kept pushing him to marry and have children. She wanted to be a grandmother, she said. In College, Luke did not date, which his parents found odd but thought nothing of it. Luke got a job in Miami, Florida, in the sales of art equipment. He was a bartender at night, or so his mother thought. Luke worked in a gay bar. One day he told his parents about his orientation. He was gay. They never
had a close relationship, but his parents were stunned by this revelation. His mother cried and cried. Felix just got angry. They never did reconcile. Felix died a bitter man.
How could Felix have handled Luke’s orientation better? Being gay or straight or transgender is not sinful anymore than being married or single is sinful. If being a particular gender or lifestyle is not sinful, what is?
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Read Matthew 10:34-39. The Master told his disciples: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth; it is not peace I have come to bring, but a sword.”

That does not sound like a “gentle and humble of heart” Master, do you think? Yet, this statement goes to the very heart of why God had to make himself one of us. Read
Philippians 2:5-12. Healthy people don’t need a physician, sick people do. Someone who is at war with themselves and is self-destructive needs your guidance. Humans are
destined to be with God. God had to show us how to get it straight. We humans were doing our “thing” so to speak. We huddled together in exclusive tribes and said “No one
else is a friend of God except us.” It is the “except us” that God had to interrupt time itself to show us that all humans, and any other rational beings from other worlds,
are destined to be heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven. The problem is, we humans must constantly fight against our human nature to keep alive a higher level. We can do it, but
not without direct help from the Master through the Holy Spirit. The Master came to make us uncomfortable. Making a choice to be spiritual requires a lifetime of struggle.
Heaven is not free, but it is worth any effort you make to get there. You need to work to keep centered on Heaven.

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The Master came to make us uncomfortable.

1. The Kingdom of Heaven uses the Rule of Opposites.
2. The meek shall inherit the earth. Who is meek? What earth? Remember that God only speaks spiritual.
3. When you learn about the Kingdom of Heaven, the opposite is more true than its you might think.
4. What does this have to do with your center? EVERYTHING!
5. You have a choice. You can be guided by the Spirit or guided by self-indulgence. If you are guided by the Spirit, the results will be seen by all. Read Galatians 5:22-24.
6. Learn to use the Rule of Opposites to re-center yourself on what is importance and avoid self-indulgence.

Write down the signs of contradiction you notice, now that you have completed a few of them.

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THE DISCIPLINE OF DYING TO SELF

Dying to self is not something I thought of often before I began to practice being a Lay Cistercian. In fact, it is an idea my false self does not want to entertain. This part of me does not yield to the Spirit willing and without some struggle. No one wants to die. My false self, most of all, wants to continue living in the World with all the values and comforts it has come to reslish and accept.  Yet, I am called to die to this false self by Christ.  I have been puzzled for years about what this type of dying means. A book that Lay Cistercians used as one of the Gathering Day readings provided me with atonishing insights into the false self and true self (one provided to me as an adopted son of the Father). At the very end of his book enetitled The Cistercian Way, the late Dom Andre Louf, O.C.S.O. has a pull out chart on which is a description of true self and false self. There are three aspects of denying self.

  1. What is it that you have to deny, the old self, or false self.
  2. What is it that you want to become, the new selff, or true self.
  3. How do you get there from where you are?

What is it that you have to deny, the old self, or false self. The assumption here is that the old self is, in some way, bad. I would argue not so much bad as inadequate to fulfill you as a human being and reach your potential, Heaven.  What God made was good, but Adam and Eve chose wrongly, so the default for humans became what we call the condition of the World, or another word for it, Original Sin. The two instances of true self and false self come in Matthew 16:23 and Luke 9:23.  That it is mentioned two times in the Gospels means it is of great significance to those followers who tried to love others as Christ loved us. It is lost on us in the Twenty-First Century how much the notion of the imminent coming of the Messiah influence the mind-set of Israel and time of Christ and afterward. Jews still await the coming of a Messiah to save them from their enemies. That Jesus came as someone preaching mercy and forgiveness and love of others is a sign of cultural contradiction. In this context, the followers of Christ must get rid of their false notions of Messiah, their tendencies of Adam and Eve to be god, their willingness to go out on a limb and trust Jesus who says you need to take up your cross daily and follow him. On a personal note, they must look to their interior and die to self in order that Christ might have room to grow (capacitas dei).

The default condition is the World in which we live. This is the same World that tells us that to be fulfilled you must be the center of your universe, not God. You must be in charge of your own body not God. To be successful, you must be powerful, rich, ambitious, seek what makes you happy, and put yourself first. This is the universe of the physical reality in which we live and the mental reality in which we find meaning. It is our default condition, one that is essentially false because it lacks humility and the obedience to the will of the Father, as predicted by the Prophets, Apostles, and holy men and women down through the centuries. St. Paul, in Galatians 5:24, writes an intensive statement, “You cannot belong to Christ Jesus unless you crucify all self-indulgent passions and desires.” Again, it is the sign of contradiction.

The old self refers to the World with all those distractions that try to wrest your mind and your heart away from what is true. There is a problem with being a follower of Christ. You have to die to all those things that the World says is important. The old self is the physical and mental universes. The new self is the physical, mental plus the spiritual universe. What is the difference between the two? God’s playground is in three universes, not just two. Here are a few things that, as a Lay Cisterccian, I have to deny in order to follow Christ.

The false self is wanting to be God, hatred of God’s word and those who bring the glad tidings of the Kingdom of Heaven, lust, greed, envy, anger, pride, and sloth. My false self is who I am without the saving grace of the Father. The default is my animal nature and human nature. Left alone, I take my center from society and whatever ways to find meaning that might drift my way.

 

What is it that you want to become, the new selff, or true self? I want to be more like ChristThe list I use is Chapter 4 of RB (Rule of Benedict). Re-read this list above.

How do you get there from where you are? One way to overcome evil is by replacing it with good. Here is a exerpt from https://www.catholiccompany.com/content/7-Deadly-Sins.cfm

How to Ward off the 7 Deadly Sins with the 7 Lively Virtues

People have heard of and can recall the seven deadly sins, also known as the capital vices and cardinal sins. But, so often we cannot name the virtues which help us overcome these sins! Rather than focusing on the sins which bog down our spiritual life, turn your eyes to the virtues which can help break the bonds of sin. The Catholic Church has distinctive categories of virtues. The 7 heavenly virtues, also called the Capital virtues, contrary virtues, heavenly virtues, are the virtues which overcome the 7 deadly sins: lust, greed, envy, anger, pride, and sloth. (emphasis mine)

Chastity overcomes the sin of lust. Everyone could use more chastity in a world that is constantly displaying sexual images. The Catholic Bible tells us that our bodies are temples for the Holy Spirit. The virtue of Chastity can help calm our lustful desire for sexual acts and restrain our wandering eyes.

Generosity overcomes the sin of greed. Our lives can be filled with a yearning for material goods. Material objects can block our vision of Christ who told us to give to the poor. This means not only do we give what we have in “excess” but to surrender all of our time, money, and spiritual gifts to those in need.

Temperance overcomes the sin of gluttony. Gluttony wants us to give into our self gratification for eating and drinking, among other things. Temperance is our ability to control ourselves and these desires. We may fall into the trap of self indulgence but during these times we can call upon the virtue of moderation.

Kindness overcomes the sin of envy. Our love for someone should be without bias or spite. God blesses each of us in different ways. Envy will cause a rift in your relationship with God and others. Look upon your life with positivity rather than counting the ways God “hasn’t” blessed you.

Meekness overcomes the sin of anger. Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the world”. When He was confronted by angry crowds who wanted to torture and kill him, he prayed for them. How often do we become upset and consumed by trivial matters? Use Christ as your model, control your anger and resentment and cultivate patience through this virtue.

Humility overcomes the sin of pride. God humbles the proud and exalts the humble! Pride is the devil’s sin, and just like him Satan wants us to hold ourselves up as gods. Everything we have is from God, and everything we do is derived from the gifts he has given us. By being modest we can turn outwards and lift up those around us.

Diligence overcomes the sin of sloth. The virtue of diligence aids us in fulfilling our duties and cultivating a strong work ethic. Sloth draws us in to be lazy in all aspects of our life, physical and spiritual. We should develop our talents and gifts rather than keeping them wrapped up in sloth

All other sins stem from 1 or more of these deadly sins. By praying for these 7 heavenly virtues we can keep each of these sins from creeping into our lives. Start praying for these virtues daily to help defeat Satan and these vices. Swap out your 7 deadly sins for these 7 heavenly virtues!

Another way to overcome evil is prayer, in my case as a Lay Cistercian, contemplative prayer.

EVEN CISTERCIAN PRACTICES I DO EVERY DAY

When I made my Final Promises as a Lay Cistercian, my intention was to do certain practices every day, if I could. Not being sin-centered, e.g., if I did not do certain prayers and practices, then I would not be plagued by guilt, for failing to keep a rule. Brother Michael, O.C.S.O.’s admonition to “pray as you can,” still rings in my ears. My own father told me something similar. He said, “do your best and forget the rest.” The key here is doing. Like the Genesis Story, Adam and Eve who had to work for their bread, would it not be reasonable to think that prayer demands doing something? I offer, for your consideration, seven prayers that I try to do every day. I say “try” becuase I don’t always do them. I am a Lay Cistercian living in the wildress and desert of Original Sin, its false promises, allurements, and broken dreams. I try to convert my life every day to my true self from my false self. Some days are better than others. This movement is called the conversion of life, conversion in this case is movement, movement is doing something that will allow me to move from self to God.

I do these practices, prayers and activities, every day. The every day is important because it allows me to pray consistently. Every day is tough to do, but it is necessary to have the capacitas dei (making room for God) in my spirit. Nothing happens if you do nothing. Another way of saying it is: if you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.  Praying daily penetrates the veil of the temple. It is how prayer and practices become habits of good thinking and good deeds. It is taking up my cross daily to follow Christ. My cross is heavy enough so I can imagine how heavy Christ’s cross was to carry.

  1. Every day, pray the following:
    1. Morning Offering
    2. Dedication of my day to God
    3. Asking for the grace to follow God’s will for me
    4. Seeking openess to the Spirit in others
    5. It only takes 60 seconds to remind yourself of your center
  2. Every day, at least once a day for 30 minutes
    1. Lection Divina on Philippians 2:5.
    2. Write down my Lectio thoughts as part of my Work
    3. Write down Lectio thoughts in my blog:
    4. https://thecenterforcontemplativepractice.org
  3. Read Chapter 4 of the Rule of St. Benedict, all or part of it
  4. Attend Eucharist at Good Shehard Parish Community.
  5. Attend Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer at Good Shephard Parish Community.
  6. Recite the Rosary at Good Shepherd Parish Community.
  7. Write books on the subject of Cistercian spirituality from the perspective of a Lay Cistercian.

As part of my Work (as in Silence, Solitude, Pray, Work, and Community), work becomes prayer when I lift it up to God as reparation for my sins and failures to love with all my heart, my strength, and my ming and to love my neighbor as myself.

Dying to self means my old self.  It means I use a whole new vocabulary of spirittuality, not one that the World gives  as meaningful. It means my old self is my default and that if I want to grow, I must die to the old self and embrase what Christ wants for me. What Christ wants for me is what I practice as a Lay Cistercian. That in all things, may God be glorified.  –St. Benedict

 

 

 

 

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