This last week, a friend of mine wrote me a Linkedin message commenting on my notion of Original Sin in my blog, “Whatever happened to Original Sin.” He said, ” The notion of Original is as much a fairy tale as the Tooth Fairy.” Despite having a profound misconception of what Original Sin is or how it impacts the way humans connect with reality, I realized that my friend looks at reality much the same way as I do– we both take in information and make choices based on what we perceive is true or real. Original Sin, I would agree does not make sense with the assumptions that secular humanists have about what makes up what is real or not. Taken by itself, Original Sin is an archetype of our human quest to explain why some of us are good and some of us are not. Each individual person has only seventy or eighty years to determine how all of this fits together to make sense. We are free to choose whatever we want to explain what the purpose of life is. There are consequences to all of our actions and choices. The Divine Equation is my reflection on how the Christ Principle is at the core of all reality and, although it is the sign of contradiction as well as a paradox, makes this equation work.
Don’t ask me why I can remember an obscure Thomist principle about knowing when I can’t remember if I took my medicine this morning. In keeping with my series of Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5) meditations, linked together with the concept of The Divine Equation, my latest foray into reality with the Holy Spirit produced this long-forgotten Thomistic principle: Whatever is received, is received according to the disposition of the receiver. http://lonergan.org/2009/10/16/applying-a-thomist-principle-quidquid-recipitur-ad-modum-recipientis-recipitur/
If I think of having in me the mind of Christ Jesus in my attempts at contemplation, and I am sitting on a park bench in the dead of winter waiting for the Holy Spirit to come to me and give me whatever is on God’s agenda today, I can do so with the capabilities I have to be aware of the presence of Christ and a human degree of openness to what I am about to receive. Cistercians call that “capacitas dei” of making room for Jesus in your heart, your mind, with all your strength. (Matthew 22:36)
Being aware of the Divine Equation of God is no different. The sum of my life experiences for good as well as the sinful ones is who I am. I have made choices in life that define me. Hopefully, those choices are the same ones that are consistent with the heart of Christ. My disposition has a lot to do with the Divine Equation in three universes (physical, mental, and spiritual). St. Paul divides up reality into two types of realities that he calls the World (the flesh) and those centered around the Spirit of Truth. This principle applies to each time I pray and seek God’s presence through contemplation and love and applies to the bigger picture of the Divine Equation of all reality. Some people can’t see a spiritual dimension to their lives because they are unable to do so. People either are aware of the spiritual dimension to life, a center outside of themselves, or they can’t see it, don’t see it, and some just won’t see it. Humans have reason for a reason, plus the ability to make choices that have consequences. As Professor Dumbledore tells Harry Potter, we are defined by our choices, not our abilities. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GC7Aqc-h9no No, I don’t believe in witches, but I think these literary examples sometimes provide wisdom from the most unlikely sources. When you think that the Holy Spirit is not limited to spreading wisdom among us, surely that applies to all reality and not just you alone.
THE CHRIST PRINCIPLE IS THE ONLY ONE IN WHICH THE HEART CAN SEE RIGHTLY
It might seem like a bold statement to say that not even the God of power and majesty and might can make you believe something you don’t want. To me, this concept reflects what is going on with religion today. The younger generations did not have to come through the trials and tribulations of belief, like those who lived long ago in the Church of the Martyrs did. Belief is not tied to the cross and with giving up self to follow Christ because it seems too easy and is boring. Our age contains martyrs for the Faith but it is the martyrdom of ordinary living, struggling in an age where it is more important to think easy thoughts rather that the difficult choices of the cross, that defines modern day believers. We must believe without having seen the marks of the nails in his hands or put our hands into his side. We tire easily of the push of Original Sin to lead us away from what does not make sense to the mind alone, but completes the resonance of a dysfunctional drift of the human spirit towards self satisfaction and boredom.
What I place at my center is who I am. Tell me what your center is, and I will show you who you are and that person you will become. Whatever I receive in my center, I receive the disposition to make it my core. If all I think about is how religion is a fairy tale, that is my center. I choose what can never fulfill me as a person, nor will it allow me to prepare to live for all eternity in resonance with all that is.
My center is: “Have in you the mind of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5) Every day I must struggle to move from my false self to my true self. Only the Christ Principle provides me with the sustainability and capacitas dei to survive the gauntlet of Original Sin and come out battered but whole.
A TALE OF LOVE
Here is a story that came out of my Lectio Divina. When I die, I am going to stand before the Throne of the Lamb and give a particular accounting of who and what I am.
Jesus will say to me “Let’s see the book of your life.”
“What book of life? Lord, I don’t have any book with me. Do you mean the Bible?”
“No,” says Jesus, looking a little annoyed, “I made you into a book at your Baptism so that you could record what I told you about loving others as I loved you.” “The Bible is a collection of stories of people who have tried to love God with their whole hearts and minds, and the way that is authentic and what leads to failure? Your book is how you did that to others using all that I taught you.”
“Look at yourself, Michael,” said Jesus. “You look like you have just been in a fight and are all bruised and bandaged for the cuts on your soul. Why don’t you come in and let me take care of you. You may enter and share your Lord’s joy.”
“Can I ask you a personal question, Jesus?”
“Sure. I am good at knowing both the six questions of life and their authentic answers. They are one of my greatest accomplishments.”
“Lord, I noticed that on the way up here, that many people were headed down the mountain with heads lower and murmuring, ‘Have mercy. Have mercy.’ Why are they on the way down and look for depressed? They are dressed beautifully and don’t have any cuts or bruises on their bodies, unlike me. They seem perfect. Frankly, I was embarrassed to stand before you because I was all beat up and broken-down old, temple of the Holy Spirit.”
“Those are the ones that have not struggled in battle but have chosen the easy way in life rather than what is right. They are going to a place of purification and penance to atone for their sins. When they are ready, they can come here and ask for admission.”
“As for you, welcome into my kingdom prepared for you from before the world began. Congratulations! Shake hands.”
I reached out my old and bruised hand to shake hands with Jesus. He reached out his hand to me, and we just clasped each other’s hands. I looked down at our hands together and saw those of Jesus. They were bruised, and then I noticed that he had the marks of the nails in his hands and a spear wound below his heart. He looked into my eyes and smiled with the most beautiful expression of love I had ever experienced. Everything I ever hoped for with my center “have in you the mind of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5) made complete sense. It filled the deepest corners of my soul. He kept shaking my hand up and down and holding onto me with a firm grip. That penetrating smile was such that I could not take my eyes from him.
“Forever,” He said, “I will never let you go,” grinning from ear to ear. “Let me introduce you to my mother.”