I love escapist movies (don’t ask me why). Some movies these days stress the supremacy of the Devil over Good. I am thinking of the movie entitled The Last Witch Hunter.  This is not a critique of any of these movies. I like the graphics and special effects in these movies as I overlook the preposterous assumptions they make about what is real, what evil is like, and what is actually real. Fantasy is fantasy. Science fiction is still fiction. Some friends of mine think my belief in God is a fiction of my own mind.

One movie I like is called Seventh Son of the Seventh Son, a fantasy movie about witches, and people who hunt them down.

It get complicated for this old mind, when there are good witches and bad witches. Jeff Bridges plays a character in this movie called Spook, a witch hunter and destroyer. There is a line in this movie that I have adopted as part of my spiritual awareness (remember, I don’t speak for the Catholic Church, Cistercians, or any Lay Cistercians). I am a guy who casts his net out into the sea of life and pulls in the good and the bad. I decide what is good or bad, but how I decide what is good or bad (like Adam and Eve) but with a difference, Christ is my center of all reality (Philippians 2:5). When I decide what is good or bad, it is because Christ first loved us and gave us the way, the truth and the life.  Christ won’t sort out what is good or bad for us, but He does provide the knowledge, love and service to help us do it authentically.  The question that Spook asked that I find so remarkable is “Wrong questions require wrong answers.”  My take-away from this is, I must always be careful to ask the right questions about morality, about purpose in life, about how I treat others with whom I interact.

It is in context that my Lectio Divina (Phil 2:5) is set. I asked myself, what is the right question? What is the wrong question? I looking at how I answer right questions, I have to use assumptions that I have accepted as true for me.

  1. HAVE IN YOU THE MIND OF CHRIST JESUS (Phil 2:5) This simple quote is the very core center of all my endeavours, It is the reason I try to love God with all my mind, all my heart, and all my strength  and my neighbor as myself, (Deuteronomy 6:5 and Matthew 22:37) When pull in my nets, which sometimes takes the help of my faith community, I have to sort out good fishes from those who are not good for me, those who are too small from those appropriate to eat. Humility and obedience to God’s will rather than my own comes from my assumption.
  2. DO NOT JUDGE OTHERS . I focus on what I believe and my Faith rather on what others might think of what I hold as true. Faith helps me see in the darkness of my own insuffiencies for this light is not of this world but is the Word made flesh and the light come into the world to help me ask the right question.
  3. SEEK MERCY FOR ALL, ESPECIALLY ME  Christ came to save all of humans, especially me. I must respond by loving others as Christ loves me.
  5. LIFE MAKES NO SENSE WITHOUT LOVE. LOVE MAKES NO SENSE WITHOUT CHRIST. There is a logical progression to existence. We need a platform for life.(PHYSICAL UNIVERSE) We need mental abilities for reason and to choose what that reason reveals as meaningful(MENTAL UNIVERSE). We need the mind to access the realm of the Spirit, one of free choices available to us( SPIRITUAL UNIVERSE). Once we enter into God’s playground, we need for Him to help us to know, to love, and to serve in order to live there… Forever. Life is about discovering what is true, the authentic way to being fulling human, and what the purpose for that existence.

  6. CISTERCIAN PRACTICES HELP ME PRACTICE LOVING AS CHRIST LOVES ME. Love can be so abstract and theoretical. It becomes such a mental process that we forget that love means doing something as a result of being something. If you have in you the mind of Christ Jesus, you don’t have to do anything except wait for the Holy Spirit to work, in due time. Cistercian practices of silence, solitude, prayer, work, and community, have helped me focus on both the realm of the mind and the realm of the heart, in my question to move from self to God. I have to practice every day. I have to look on reality as God’s playground, not mine. I have to keep reminding myself that it is not my will that should be done, but that I must first seek God in the world as I see it and experience it, then transform it by converting my own morals to be more like Christ and less like me. That takes work. Because of Original Sin, I must use the two gifts Christ gave each of us to be able to see what we cannot see and hear what cannot be heard, The Eucharist, and Forgiveness and Mercy.

THE RIGHT QUESTION IS ONE THAT HAS THE RIGHT ANSWER. Christ is the way, the truth and the life. We just need to be sure it is Christ’s answer we have and not our own. The Church Universal, through its authentic teaching and practices through the ages, help save us from our own deficiencies., wanting to be God and make our own religion.

Spirituality, to be authentic, must incorporate what is authentic about love, about service to others, about doing to others as we would like it to be done to us. Seeking God where you find Him is a lifetime adventure of discovering what is meaningful from what the World gives and what Christ gives. Our right questions will be right only if they are consistent with who God is. Not all spirituality will lead to the Spirit, but the Spirit will always lead to authentic living and loving. You get to not only choose good from evil but to discern good from evil. Animals and plants don’t have this ability, only humans.


The Church is corrupt and its bishops and priests do not practice what they preach, some of them are alcoholics, pedophiles, steal from the poor, and seduce young maidens. Therefore, I can’t continue to abide by this behavior and must leave the Church.

Let’s look at what is really going on. Of course, the Church is corrupt and its people do not practice what they preach, but not all of them. Of course this behavior is wrong. The Israelites worshipped the Golden Calf, even as Moses brought the holy tablets of the Ten Commandments down from Mt. Sinai. This is the template for Church. The sign of contradiction is: I am the Church, you are the Church, we are the Church. We are all sinful and do not do what we say we will do. Grace dwells in us because of Christ. We know what love is because Christ first loved us. We are called to serve others. Don’t confuse the aberration for the principle, the Christ principle. That is called sin and there is no human free from its tentacles, save two.  That is like saying, humans are corrupt so I will leave the human race. Tell me a religion without sin and I will gladly join it. The fact is Christ knew what he was doing by giving the rudder of the Church to Peter, who denied him three times and had wavering Faith.

The solution to this question is not to abandon love, but to embrace it even more fully, only in the context of what St. Benedict says in his Chapter Four of the Rule, “place your hope in God alone.” My faith is not placed in pope, bishop or priests, nor any guru. My faith does not rest on what I see and hear around me in the cacophony of calumniation and detraction that pervades the politics of nations and the church itself. I do not place my trust in Princes, as the Psalmist says, but in God alone. Having done that, I can ask the right question: Do I love God with all my heart, all my mind, and all my strength and do I love my neighbor as myself? (Deuteronomy 6:5 and Matthew 22:37) For me, Lay Cistercian spirituality helps me to focus and refocus on Christ Jesus through silence, solitude, prayer and work, in communion and in union with other Lay Cistercians, and Cistercian monks and nuns. “That in all things, may God be glorified.” –St. Benedict

I control my body and can do with it as I please. 

This sounds tantalizing and for those without Faith, quite logical. What is at stake here is modern idolatry. People will defend their positions stating that it is just your opinion and all opinions are equal (they are not). The real question here is: what is God’s to be done on earth as it is in Heaven (Our Father). Don’t confuse the freedom to chose good and evil with whatever you choose must good.

Our Body is a Temple of the Holy Spirit. We defile it when we don’t act our nature, not just a nature that is human but one redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb. God’s laws are the laws of nature. The law of Christ is one: love others as I have loved you. All the teachings of the prophets and our heritage can be summed up in this one command.

You will have to give an accounting of your stewardship one day.  If you are your own god, you are only accountable to yourself.

Being catholic means I go to a service every week (if I am strong) and Midnight Mass (if I am week). There are, in my mind, two types of catholics: cultural Catholics and Eucharistic Catholics.

Cultural catholics are those who go to Church, go through the motions of putting “Catholic” on forms that require some religion, although they don’t know why they are Catholic. Being Catholic, for them, is like joining the Moose, Elks, Rotary, or Kiwanis. These types of members are probably the majority of our membership and don’t believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist or Blessed Sacrament. If you ask them, they will say they don’t believe in the Real Presence but consider themselves Catholic. These are seeds sown on rocky ground that have no roots (although they would disagree with that). These are the ones who first flee the Church when there are bad times or rough patches in how we behave toward one another. They are the majority of members. It is not fair to judge anyone as to their motivation. On the other hand, we will know what is in their hearts by what they say with their mouths.

The other type of Catholic is one that is a Universal Catholic, one who won’t abandon the Church no matter what, but always seeks to make all things new. These Catholics are planted in fertile ground and will bear good fruit. They are the minority (30% of the membership). They will fight to remain Catholic by reforming and renewing first themselves in moving from self to God, then do it with others. These are Eucharistic Catholics who believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, in the Blessed Sacrament and in each other through the Holy Spirit.  They can’t leave the Church because there is nothing else to leave to. Will you leave the human race because Hitler was evil? These Catholics have the possibility of asking the right question: Lord, to whom shall we go, you have the words of everlasting life. These Catholics must pray daily and convert their lives to be more like Christ and less like their false self. Eucharist is core to their way of thinking about reality. Community of believers is an opportunity to experience God the Holy Spirit in each other. Practices are those of denying self to follow Christ and praying that we not enter into temptation.  There is hope in the Resurrection.

Do you ask the right questions?

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 and Amen. –Cistercian doxology

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