THE DIVINE EQUATION: Quidquid recIpitur ad modum recipientis recipitur.

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.

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. 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.

  • We are defined by our choices, not our abilities. What we choose to be real and the center of our lives compels us to act out what we choose. It defines who we are, but it also refines our ability to believe in that which makes no sense to the physical and mental universes (the secular world).
  • This formula is out of this world. Even though we have not reached the ultimate end of mathematics or physics and there is way more to learn, what we do have, in terms of measurements of reality, falls short of measuring the spiritual universe. The spiritual universe is contemplative (the Kingdom of Heaven is within) and is invisible. And as everyone knows, the problem with invisibility is you can’t see it. To use a crude and limited human analogy, the spiritual universe is like an iceberg where most of it is unseen, but it is real, and you fail to recognize it at your own peril. The spiritual universe is our next level of human evolution. It uses human reasoning to determine what choice is good and then chooses to find meaning and what is true. The whole human experience is so beyond what our senses and human experience can conjure up that most of us dismiss the idea of another level of evolution, part of a plan to enable humans to live with the results of their authentic choices. Not only is the spiritual universe the playground of God, but we have a reserved place in it. The problem is, we can only use God’s rules in His playground. Christ became one of us to show us how to play in this playground…forever. This is so far beyond the scope of human entertainment that people don’t even consider God as an option. So, how do we know about this mystifying place that people seem to make up to justify their fantasy about God? They wrote down what they saw and heard in their innermost thoughts. Suppose the Divine Equation is how to use the physical universe. In that case, the mental universe (reason and freedom to choose what is authentic), then the spiritual universe, answers this seeming conundrum. It provides resonance to what otherwise be a dissonant world that just has a beginning and end.
  • This Thomistic principle of communication suggests that some will see what Christ came to show us about how to love others as He loved us, while others with a disposition and a different center (perhaps only limited to secular humanism) that there is no spiritual universe, no resurrection, no ascension to the Father, and so there can be no eternity as Christ offered to us and certainly no adoption as sons or daughters of a Father. You and I, as individuals, get to choose what we think our reason tells us is true. Christ came to give us an option from outside human time and matter, one that not only transcends physical and mental reality but transforms those who choose that way of life as truth and fulfillment on earth using the Christ Principle as their center.
  • Unaided by Faith (God’s pure knowledge, pure love, and pure service), human reason cannot boost itself from human nature to divine nature. It is not possible. So, God sent his Only-Begotten Son to take on our human nature so he could live all of us up to the next level in our evolution, to live forever in Heaven with all others who have been marked with the sign of Faith and those whom God wants there. Matthew 25:36
  • Those who listen to the Holy Spirit (contemplation) and follow God’s will (authentic moral living and how to love as Christ loved us) will enjoy Heaven, not as God, but as adopted sons and daughters of the Father and heirs to the Kingdom of Heaven. What that means fully, we don’t know yet. (John 17) I know that I want to be on the side of Jesus rather than know that Jesus is on my side.
  • We will live the Christ Principle on earth and in Heaven according to our capacity to have in us the mind of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 2:5)
  • Contemplative practices of the Lay Cistercians are one way to enter into the presence of Christ as a way of life, to seek God each day and glorify the Father through the Son in union with the Holy Spirit.


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.


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.”


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