REFLECTIONS OF A SEEKER
When reading the book The Cistercian Way, by the late, great Cistercian Abbot, Dom Andre Louf, O.C.S.O., he impressed upon me the need to continuously move from self to God. It is not so much as one action, one time, but a mindset that you have with you all day and every day. I must admit to being a bit confused about how to do this, when I first read about it seven years ago. Since then, the Holy Spirit has been very gentle with me. Gradually, very slowly, I found myself thinking differently and so behaving differently. I tried to have in me the mind of Christ Jesus every day (Philippians 2:5), and I must confess to being more interested to the time I spent on Contemplating the Heart of Christ than just abandoning myself and trusting that Christ would give me what He wanted. What changed for me is that I went from trying to do all those steps in doing Lectio Divina (lectio, oratio, meditatio, and contemplatio) and started praying them naturally. It took time, but daily fidelity to my prayer life and constantly coming back to my center (Philippians 2:5) each and every time actually changed the level of peace in my heart. Peace was not just the absence of conflict (the definition of the World) but the presence of the Love of Christ inside. I could, and can, feel that peace which the World cannot give. What I kept hearing in my ear each day was, all this is a waste of time, you could better spend your time actually helping other people rather than retiring within in silence and solitude to seek God where you are, now. The archetypal drama of Genesis always comes to my mind. Satan is hard at work trying to separate me from the Love of Christ. Today, I am more aware of what is going on.
The Cistercian Way, as I understand it from the monks of Holy Spirit Monastery (Trappist), is one of simplicity in prayer, seeking God where I am, daily commitment to dying to self so that I can rise to new life in Christ (moving from self to God), and moving from my false self to my true self as an adopted son of the Father to name a few. Those can be just a lot of words, but St. Benedict, in his prologue to the Rule, states that we should “listen with the ear of the Heart.” Here are ten new, behavioral, practices that are the result of my trying to move from my false self to God.
Spirituality is not the number of prayers I spend with Christ in contemplation but rather my trying to have in me the mind of Christ Jesus each and every day. It is the time that I take throughout the whole day that longs to be in the presence of Christ Jesus. It is the struggle to move from self to God and my awareness that all of this is a result of the love that Christ has for me that enables me to relax, slow down my life, realize who I am in the sight of God, to seek simplicity of purpose, and trust in the Lord.
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