There was a casino scene in a James Bond Film, Casino Royale, where the suave and debonaire Mr. Bond plays against the bad guys. The thing I remember about it is that players can make various degrees of wagering. One in particular that has interested me is “Going All In” where you bet all the chips you have on your hand.

I am not much on gambling, but the fact of betting all you have, win or lose, is intriguing. When I think about my spiritual life, there might be a similar parallel with the core directive of Christ in Matthew 22:34-40. New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE)

The Greatest Commandment34 When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, 35 and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 37 He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Do you notice the words ALL in this quotation? It is that word that has me up at nights. Although I have some disagreements with a friend of mine over the use of ALL, my contention is that I don’t use ALL of my human potentials at any one time. Using my assumption, I can never reach ALL when I love God, think about God, or try to do what God asks of me in loving others. I always fall short in this lifetime. With Christ, however, He makes up in me that which I lack, so I actually don’t lose sleep over it.

The implications of this word ALL plays out in the way I live out my Lay Cistercian spirituality. My reach always is short of my grasp. I must try to love with ALL my heart, my mind, and my strength each day to move from self to God. At the beginning of each day, I begin from scratch. Each day is like a lifetime. When I accepted that my purpose in life was “have in you the mind of Christ Jesus,” (1962) I didn’t know that I would continue to reach out for Christ each day and each day fails to grasp Him. When you think of it, our Western mentality is that we possess what we grasp and, if we read Scriptures correctly, we never quite possess God. Adam and Eve tried that but with disastrous consequences. The Eastern mysticism approach is that we never actually reach God but that our lot in life is to reach out for that which is so far beyond our grasp. With the coming of Christ, we have tools where we can begin to help our reach (Eucharist, Lectio Divina, Rosary, Scripture Reading, Sacraments) and have it make some sense in terms of the purpose of life. (Deuteronomy 6:5 and Matthew 22:34-40)


  • The Kingdom of Heaven (after we die) is where we don’t have to struggle with the ALL. We will be one with the ALL, one with each other. We will be operating at full human mode, (our minds and our hearts plugged into the totality of Being that is ALL in ALL.
  • The Kingdom of Heaven (while we are on earth) is one of discovery and uncovery. Each day, I try to have in me the mind of Christ Jesus. Each day, I come up short because of the effects of Original Sin. I keep trying.
  • I try to increase the capacity for God in me each day by being conscious of my need to decrease my false self and increase Christ in me. I don’t think about this every moment of the day, but it is like background radiation, it is always present in my generic assumptions.
  • In my daily struggle to move from self to God, realize that you will never reach (possess) the goal of ALL, in this lifetime. Christ makes up in me that which I lack.
  • Silence and solitude help bring perspective to the process of moving from self to God.


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