In keeping with seeking God daily in everything in every way, I have an appointment today at 2:20 p.m. with my Cardiologist to check my recently installed pacemaker. This discipline is now called electrophysiology and it looks at the heart from the viewpoint of its electrical system or heart arrhythmia. I share this with you because, at least for the past month, I have been in the Emergency Room two times, plus two times at my hospital, Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, and then a surgical procedure to install a heart pacemaker. In two weeks, I will have another procedure to restore my heart to its normal “sinus” rhythms. It is called Cardioversion. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dC_i8zuclmQ I love modern medicine.
But this is not the heart problems of which I write. As a Lay Cistercian who seeks God in each and every event of the day, I use my three universe template to view reality. This approach to seeing reality with both the mind and the heart is how to make sense of the seemingly chaotic values that are espoused by the World in which I live. In case you don’t remember, let me describe these three distinct and separate universes that comprise only one reality. Remind you of something?
PHYSICAL UNIVERSE — this is the physical universe in which everything exists. It is the platform for life whose laws are natural law. All matter, all time, everything that has a beginning and an end lives in this distinct universe. The question comes up, how can humans know about this universe but everything outside of humanity can’t? If this is true, there must be another universe, one that allows humanity to see a higher level of awareness, one that uses human reasoning and freedom to choose. Is this all there is?
MENTAL UNIVERSE– this is the universe where only humans live. Remember we also live with everything else in the physical universe. What is the reason humans have reason and why, of all the species we know of, are humans able to control their destiny beyond the natural law by making choices? Some choices humans make are not good while others are quite noble and authentic. The mental universe is where our minds look at the physical universe and ask what is it, why is it, how is it, where is it, and what does it mean? Remember, all three universes are one. The mental universe interprets the physical universe through language. We all use many of these languages to communicate and with time comes more sophistication. The language of science allows us to look at what is (the physical universe) using a measure that we make up using other languages (physics, chemistry, mathematics, reasoning, logic) in order to answer questions about reality, This is good and normal. It’s what we humans do. But is that all there is to the reality that has a beginning and an ending? So, we live on a platform called the physical universe but can be stewards of that platform because of reasoning and the choices we make, collectively and individually. Is that all there is? What is the purpose of the mental universe? We are self-aware because we can look at the physical universe and seek to answer the questions we pose. Why is that? Up to now, we have been talking about physical reality (what you can see is real) but is there more? In my thinking, mental universe is also there to enable us to see what can’t be seen. I am not talking about love and the other human emotions that stem from our living and finding purpose in our world. Matter is not evil nor is the human mind rotten, but we are wounded because we can choose what is bad for us and not even know it.
The measuring stick for the physical universe is the natural law that carries over into the mental universe. The physical and mental universes can measure what is and observe the effects of human emotions (love, hatred, jealousy) But, is that the end of it?
THE SPIRITUAL UNIVERSE –The third universe, the one that is mysterious and couched in paradox, doesn’t fit well with measurements of science, philosophy, and human secular reasoning. This is the universe of the future and, in my own mind, the fulfillment of both the physical and mental universes. We have reason for a reason. We are able to move from human purposes, such as love, family, power, fame, adulation, pride, to something more enduring, a universe where there is no time, no space, no matter, no disease, no imperfection. What is this universe that is so inhuman and seems like science fiction? Love! Peace! Purpose! Resonance! Fulfillment! This love does not come from the world. It comes from another dimension, that of pure energy, pure love, pure service, pure knowledge. This pure energy is a person, way out of the framework of logical thinking. This Being has another nature, divine. The gulf between human nature and divine nature is unreachable for humans. We only know about it because God told us about it through Abraham, the Prophets, the covenant of relationship God said he wanted with humans. By themselves, humans did not get it, so God had to become a person with human nature to lead them to the truth. Christ revealed that there are three persons in one God. He taught us that the kingdom of heaven begins now (with Baptism) and ends with us being adopted sons and daughters of the Father (the only way we can share Heaven). I suggest that we don’t share it as God, but to the extent that we use the daily helps Christ gave us to do God’s will and not our own. This spiritual universe is something humans don’t create in their image and likeness but comes from God through Christ with the power of the Holy Spirit. There are many religions out there that tout their believers to follow their way. Christ told us only He is the way, the truth, and the life. You have reason for a reason and you also have the ability to choose whatever you want as meaningful. We are not defined by our accomplishments but rather by the choices we make for what is good for or destructive of our purpose.
MEASURING WHAT CANNOT BE MEASURED WITH WHAT CANNOT BE SEEN
What sounds like an oxymoron is actually indicative of the spiritual universe. It is the opposite of what the world holds as meaningful. The time we have on earth is the time we have to practice loving and serving others as Christ served us.
There is a great, insurmountable gulf between God’s nature and our human nature. God has generously given each human an invitation to share in this inheritance, as we are able to do so (Gifts of Baptism and the Holy Spirit). For me, it means I make my heaven while I am on earth. I will live later on what I have brought with me to Heaven. No sin is in heaven, only those things where I have loved others as Christ has loved me.
As a Lay Cistercian, I made final promises to try to love God with all my heart, with all my mind, and with all my strength and my neighbor as myself. I read that promise every time I look at the shrine I set up on my table in the office. These are the signs of my love for Christ: Rule of St. Benedict, Professed Promises, My Lay Cistercian medal, Dr. Eduardo Hubard’s gift of a unique wooden box with a rosary on it, inscribed with the oldest known Marian hymn (3rd century), Scripture (Jerusalem Bible that I purchased back in 1962).
The measurements of God are love, peace, knowledge, service, and energy. The problem is these are divine attributes not human. We can only know what love is through our experiences. Human knowledge can only approach God’s love, not as it is, but as St. Paul puts it, “through a foggy glass.” These measurements are not proofs so much as indicators of something way beyond our human capacity to comprehend it. Luckily, we have Christ as our mediator, our translator, our bridge with the divine, our Master.
If you tell me, “Religion doesn’t make sense,” I would agree with you but add that the foolishness of God is wiser than all the wisdom of humans. Some additional thoughts:
The place no one wants to look is right inside us and we can access it through Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5). In silence and solitude, we enter our interior room and wait for Christ. The waiting is, by itself a prayer, and is conducive to profound listening (listening with the ear of the heart–St. Benedict). It is dying to that self which depends on the world for its meaning and choices of what is good. It is a heart problem, in the same way, that St. Augustine said: “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.”
When I say I have heart problems, my problem is, how can I contain the joy that comes now almost every day in seeing my purpose in life begins to take shape? “Have in you the mind of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5) is the center of whatever reality I encounter. Rather than worry about COVID-19 or my heart condition, I now just seek God every day in whatever comes. I don’t try to fill holes in my life with the “heresy of action” or watching television or reading. I don’t pass the time so much as embrace the moment, every day is a total lifetime.