THE CHURCH IS A GRAND GATHERING OF ALL THOSE GATHERED THROUGHOUT TIME WITH ONE CHRIST AS THE HEAD
A friend of mine told me that I was not a good Catholic because I no longer went to Church to pray. I told her that I do pray everyday in union with the Church Universal and also because I am the Church wherever and whenever I gather my mind and link it to the hearts of others who seek to have in them the mind of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 2:5)
BUT… I AM JUST ONE PERSON, HOW CAN I MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
If I am a leaf on the tree where Christ is the trunk and the Holy Spirit is the root, then I am one of many, many other leaves. Christ is the vine, and we are the branches. Rest your mind and prepare your heart to listen profoundly to what the Holy Spirit has to say through St. John in Chapter 15.
The Vine and the Branches.1* “I am the true vine,* and my Father is the vine grower.a2 He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes* so that it bears more fruit.3 You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.b4 Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.6*c Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned.7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.d8 By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.e9 As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love.f10If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.g11“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.h12 This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.i13* No one has greater love than this,j to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends,* because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.k16 It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.l17 This I command you: love one another.m
What gives life to the tree is its roots, nourished with the energy of the Father, the Grand Gardener. My individual life as a leaf is only for one year. I am born from the branch, grow as a leaf, according to my nature, and provide life to those around me with photosynthesis (good works as in Matthew 25). I live for a season and then die. My value is to act according to my human nature to help the tree sustain itself in my own leafy way. I am not the branch, I am not the other leaves, I serve the others. In the analogy of the spiritual universe, all the leaves have One Lord, One Faith, and One Baptism. Other trees do not bear good fruit because they do not possess the links to life-giving nutrients. They may be sincere and don’t know what they don’t know. St. Paul gives a poignant reflection on the unity of Faith in Ephesians 4.
“Unity in the Body. 1*I, then, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received,a2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love,b3 striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace:c4*one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call;d5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism;e6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. “
Why read Scripture at all? If there is no resurrection of Christ from the dead, then save your time and read the white pages of the phone book. St. John, the last of the Apostles to die, wrote in his Gospel, Chapter 20:30-31, that these actions were written down so that you might come to believe that Jesus is the Son of Christ, and that believing, you might have life in his name. I will share the three levels I use when I read Scripture. Each day begins the new search to seek God in whatever comes my way. All the Cistercian practices and charisms are there for me to be present to the one who has no beginning or ending, pure energy, the unconditional love of God that I seek to possess.
1. INFORMATION – I read the Scriptures daily in my spiritual reading but also in the Liturgy of the Hours in the Psalms. I always begin with the words. Sometimes that is as far as I get. This is the level of meditation. It takes awareness on my part to go to the next level.
2. FORMATION –I am aware that this is God’s word to all humans and that it produces energy in the ones who read it. This energy does not come from me but is from God and I move from reciting the words to praying the words in order to be present and communicate with Christ. That leads me to an even deeper level, if I allow Christ to overshadow me.
3. TRANSFORMATION – This is the level of contemplation and being present to God with no restrictions, unconditionally. This is the area where I have no agenda to push, no prayers to say that might keep me from entering into oneness with The One who has no beginning and no end. This is the level where I don’t pray to be the one who controls the conversation, but just allow Christ to be present to me and experience the conversion. I don’t even realize that there are levels of awareness.
Read what St. Bernard of Clairvaux says.
The passage above is excerpted from my new book entitled, The Christ Principle: A Lay Cistercian reflects on six paradigm shifts that help to clarify how all reality fits together.