Before you look for the matches to burn me at the stake, think about this. This was one of my Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5) during Holy Week. Consider that there are two characteristics that separate humans from all other living things; a)the ability to reason; and b), the ability to choose what is good for us based on that reasoning. The problem is, not everything is good for us. To complicate things even more, the World is composed of those who look at reality with only two universes (the physical one, of which we are a part, along with all living things, and the mental universe. This universe, along with the platform to allow us to exist is called the World. To live in three universes (physical, mental, and spiritual) takes God’s help through Baptism or desire. This is called the Kingdom of Heaven (on earth as well as in Heaven). We have not chosen God, but Christ has chosen us first, from before time existed. What we do as individuals is give our assent or belief to God’s gift of adoption as sons and daughters. Mary, Mother of God, is the archetype of this belief. Read Luke 1-2.
Each of us has, at our core, one principle that informs everything we do and are. God has given all humans reasoning and the ability to choose whatever they want at their center. You must select a center that will propel you beyond death. Today, the Resurrection of Christ from the dead gives each of us a gift beyond all telling. Read the blog I wrote on the Resurrection Enigma. False centers are your spouse or family, your money, power, The Mother of God, and the Church. These are false centers because there can be only one Center, and all others flow from that one principle, the Christ Principle.My personal center is Philippians 2:5. I have had that as my center since 1960. The two choices each human must make are: 1. God as my center guides me down right paths and I fear no evil. 2. I am my own god and whatever I think about life is informed by the World, not God. None of us can serve two masters.
In the Lord’s prayer, we say: Our Father, which are in Heaven, holy is your name; your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. There is another one who wants to be our Master, if we will but bow down and worship him. Our choices from this master are hatred, jealousy, envy, the seven deadly sins. (Galatians 5). We are defined by our choices.
In this context of choosing Christ as the very center, each and every day, there is a battle between the two Masters. I must struggle to choose Christ each day (take up your cross each day and follow me). Christ produces energy for us to endure the toll that this struggle takes on my spiritual resolve to have in me the mind of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 2:5) When you look at the stained glass window in Church (building) of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit (Trappist), in Conyers, Georgia, you notice that at the center of Mary’s heart is the heart of Christ. Seek first to put Christ as center, and all else follows. It is not enough for me to just sit back and trust that Faith alone will produce Grace alone. I am not like the Sherman-Williams logo of the earth being covered by paint. The effects of Adam and Eve still pervade every moment while I live. Faith alone will save me from the attacks of the Evil One, but I must work as though everything depends on me and pray as though everything depends on Christ.
My title sounds a bit controversial until you think about it. If I choose Christ as my center, and he is the head of the Church, I must also choose the Church Universal, the living Catholic Church in each age, linked to the Apostles in heritage. What happens, when I choose the Church as my center, and things fall apart or we have a crisis? People fall away from the Church because they have put Church as their center, in the same way as someone puts their spouse at their center. What happens when that spouse dies? You lose your center. Only Christ as my Center means I can profess my Catholic Faith and not worry that this center won’t be there in one hundred years. Far from being alienated by the Church, this thinking puts Christ first and then everything else in perspective. It is a reaffirmation that the Holy Spirit will not let the gates of Hell prevail against it. The Church is not a denomination but the real presence of Christ in each age. As St. Benedict says in Chapter 4 of his Rule, “place your Hope in God alone.”
Seek first the Kingdom of Heaven and all else will be given to you, says Scriptures. What say you?