Nota Bene: This blog is lengthy.

As the Feast of the Nativity fast approaches, the thought comes to mind in Advent about how each one of us should be grateful for the fact that God became one of us because of love and to show us how to love authentically. When we live authentically, we fulfill the destiny intended in the Garden of Eden to live with God forever in happiness, knowing, loving, and serving consistent with our human nature. Charles Darwin got it partly correct with his observation that, in the natural flow of reality from life to death, everything in the physical universe, informed by the mental universe, assimilates unto itself those choices it makes to become more than what went before.


The autonomic trigger of the physical universe, before there was a living being, much less sentient being, is that of God’s DNA, the imprint of the Word on matter and time, the invisible code of instructions that induces change within the beginning and end of all matter, time, and energy. It is a residue of God’s breath of life on all that is or will be. In the physical universe of matter, outside of the mental universe of human existence, change happens in transforming chemical processes and reconstitution of matter into other forms of energy. In the mental universe, when human characteristics first came together in the correct configuration from all of this material energy, evolution is from matter to matter that has the characteristics of life. In his book The Phenomenon of Man, Teilhard de Chardin presents such a pattern of progression (some say evolution) of this DNA from a power outside ordinary time, space, and energy. This ordinary process of what we know as chemistry, the physics of what is, what constitutes the possibility of what makes us all of this come together in some form of logical explanation is called the mental universe. Humans look at their seventy or eighty years on earth and figure out what constitutes its existence in this universe. We have developed languages over the centuries to communicate with each other and probe the reality around us. This body of knowledge grows from age to age as we evolve mentally, now with the help of computers, reaching for the stars quite literally.

Humanity, we have a problem. This mental condition into which humans have just evolved has developed some side effects to the ordinary order of the physical universe outside of human interference. The culprit seems to center around three things:

  1. Human lifespan is only seventy or eighty years, if we are strong. What we learn, we hand on to our progeny, not only with thoughts but with biological processes through our DNA. We did not know we had DNA or any of the scietifica advances that are our privigle to add to the choices we not have to make about what is right.
  2. We have human reason for a reason. When you think about evolution and the transfer of energy and the chemical process of energy from one form into another, it makes perfect sense. Matter evolves into different forms of other energy and matter. What is not in the paradigm of ordinary evolution is the entrance of anything living. This is a totally new paradigm, it does not makes sense that non-matter could create living matter with the complexity of a DNA. This is a dimarcation area in the cosmic flow of ordinary movement from beginning to end. Let’s fast forward a few billion years (one second on the cosmic clock of time) to right now. Why is it I can even ask the questions about something as esoteric as the movement from non-living to living existence? I have reason for a reason. One reason for me is to probe the vastness of mental space and my collective consciousness of humanity to find out why something exists that should not, and, finding it, move on to the next part of the Divine Equation of life. But again, humans have reasoning but all humans don’t reason the same. They have different assumptions based on their life experiences and their race, their sexuality, their nationality, their religion, their individual family relationships. Why is that?
  3. My third reason answers the first and second of these ideas. I am aware that I can choose what is good for me. I am also aware that every other human has the same ability but what they consider to be good for them might not be good for me. This is quite a different paradigm from all other forms of life as we know it. Humans are not squirrels nor camels, nor even monkeys. Humans have something no other living species has: we know that we know and, based on our knowledge, we can choose what we think is best for us. Here is the problem for humans. Is there a North on our compass that will tell us how our next steps in our evolution play out, one rooted in our human nature but which seems to have an additional step to it for final fulfillment? All of us have the freedom to choose our own destiny. In fact, our future is determined by our choices and assumptions about what make life worth living.

Our ancestors wrote of this seeming human conundrum in a book called Genesis, put together to answer why some behaviors are good but also why bad stuff happens (murder, confusion of tongues, jealousy, factions, betrayal, adultery, and fornication, witchcraft, hatred, wanting to dominate other and keep them enslaved). At the heart of this archetypal tale of woe is the very human response to what it means to be human. It is: I don’t want anyone telling me what to do. This blinds human reasoning and opens up the possibility of choices that do not support a view where power and glory are outside of me and over which I have no control. Animals are dependent upon the invisible nature from which they come. Even though we might have evolved from animals nature, that alone would not be enough to lift us up to human nature without help. One cannot evolve into something for which there is no potential to do so. The ordinary state is good, like the Garden of Eden analogy. Then, along came humanity.

Getting back to the Divine Equation, God’s DNA lifted humanity from animality to rationality (although we had the effects of being human that would blur the sweet choice of always being correct in what we choose to be the center of our life. According to the Genesis proposition, human nature is flawed by the possibility of choosing what we think is good for us but is not. Add the duality of good characteristics and the emotions and mindset that might be bad for us (evil). Genesis sets forth the problem of being human quite nicely. It is cosmic resonance that became dissonance through human intervention and the inability to choose rightly, even when they are told what is right by God.

St. Paul, as usual, nails this human conundrum perfectly as a way to make sense out of the flawed human nature as it comes into contact with its divine connection. We were all in a state of human dissonance with the poor choice of Adam and Eve. It took someone of a divine nature to take on our nature, human nature, and atone for this sin (sin in the sense that all humanity is born with dissonance that comes from a poor choice. (Philippians 2:5)

In a slight departure from my usual placing the whole text for you to read, I will add the footnotes, and I encourage you to read them to give just a bit more context to the passage. I hope you read these passages as means of transformation rather than proof of some ideas I have.

Humanity’s Sin through Adam.12* Therefore, just as through one person sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and thus death came to all, inasmuch as all sinned*—13for up to the time of the law, sin was in the world, though sin is not accounted when there is no law.i14But death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who did not sin after the pattern of the trespass of Adam, who is the type of the one who was to come.j

Grace and Life through Christ.15But the gift is not like the transgression. For if by that one person’s transgression the many died, how much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one person Jesus Christ overflow for the many.16And the gift is not like the result of the one person’s sinning. For after one sin there was the judgment that brought condemnation; but the gift, after many transgressions, brought acquittal.17 For if, by the transgression of one person, death came to reign through that one, how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of justification come to reign in life through the one person Jesus Christ.18 In conclusion, just as through one transgression condemnation came upon all, so through one righteous act acquittal and life came to all.k19 For just as through the disobedience of one person the many were made sinners, so through the obedience of one the many will be made righteous.l20The law entered in* so that transgression might increase but, where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more,m21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through justification for eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.n

* [5:1–11] Popular piety frequently construed reverses and troubles as punishment for sin; cf. Jn 9:2. Paul, therefore, assures believers that God’s justifying action in Jesus Christ is a declaration of peace. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ displays God’s initiative in certifying humanity for unimpeded access into the divine presence. Reconciliation is God’s gift of pardon to the entire human race. Through faith, one benefits personally from this pardon or, in Paul’s term, is justified. The ultimate aim of God is to liberate believers from the pre-Christian self, as described in Rom 1–3. Since this liberation will first find completion in the believer’s resurrection, salvation is described as future in Rom 5:10. Because this fullness of salvation belongs to the future, it is called Christian hope. Paul’s Greek term for hope does not, however, suggest a note of uncertainty, to the effect: “I wonder whether God really means it.” Rather, God’s promise in the gospel fills believers with expectation and anticipation for the climactic gift of unalloyed commitment in the Holy Spirit to the performance of the will of God. The persecutions that attend Christian commitment teach believers patience and strengthen this hope, which will not disappoint them because the Holy Spirit dwells in their hearts and imbues them with God’s love (Rom 5:5).

* [5:1] We have peace: a number of manuscripts, versions, and church Fathers read “Let us have peace”; cf. Rom 14:19.

* [5:7] In the world of Paul’s time the good person is especially one who is magnanimous to others.

* [5:1221] Paul reflects on the sin of Adam (Gn 3:113) in the light of the redemptive mystery of Christ. As used in the singular by Paul, Sin refers to the dreadful power that has gripped humanity, which is now in revolt against the Creator and engaged in the exaltation of its own desires and interests. But no one has a right to say, “Adam made me do it,” for all are culpable (Rom 5:12): Gentiles under the demands of the law written in their hearts (Rom 2:1415), and Jews under the Mosaic covenant. Through the Old Testament law, the sinfulness of humanity that was operative from the beginning (Rom 5:13) found further stimulation, resulting in sins being generated in even greater abundance. According to Rom 5:1521, God’s act in Christ is in total contrast to the disastrous effects of the virus of sin that invaded humanity through Adam’s crime.

* [5:12] Inasmuch as all sinned: others translate “because all sinned,” and understand v 13 as a parenthetical remark. Unlike Wis 2:24, Paul does not ascribe the entry of death to the devil.

* [5:20] The law entered in: sin had made its entrance (12); now the law comes in alongside sin. See notes on Rom 1:18325:1221. Where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more: Paul declares that grace outmatches the productivity of sin.


Granted that our notion of martyrdom is one where someone is put to death because of their faith. This is called the martyrdom of blood. It is the way that Jesus died. The difference is that Jesus died but did not die like the rest of humanity. Jesus gave up his life voluntarily and a ransom for the many. This is the mystery of the resurrection from the dead. Most of us do not have the opportunity to give up our lives in the martyrdom of blood. Those baptized are plunged into the kingdom of heaven, but we still live in the ordinary world of imperfection and the results of our emotions. We suffer from a lifetime of cuts and bruises, which is the martyrdom of living in the ordinary world. Our martyrdom is to die to self so that we might rise to newness of life through, with, and in Christ Jesus.


There are several dimensions to my own unique martyrdom, almost all of which I only very recently became aware of. I have accumulated many wonderful experiences in my life and those decisions I wished I had never made. Most of my reflections about sins of my past are not sexual in nature but more sins of the spirit, those against God, because of my pride and insensitivity to the needs of others. The ordinary, as I have come to know it in my life, exists because I am more acutely aware of how “having in me the mind of Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 2:5) is a struggle in the everyday “residue of sin” that passes for what I must endure each day. Four examples come to mind.

THE ORDINARY IS JUST BEING PRESENT IN THE WORLD OF CORRUPTION AND DEATH. Like iron exposed to oxygen, just being in the world causes rust (the residue of sin) on everything and everyone that it touches. No exceptions. This is the struggle of life in the world without any religion, any God, any notion of a spiritual universe. The world corrupts because, at its core, it exists in cosmic situation where everything has a beginning and an end. The ordinary is the world that I wake up to every day. A world without God would look just like the world that I see with Christ as my Principle and the Holy Spirit that gives enlightenment. The difference between me and, let’s say, one of my friends who denies that God is, is not that I am better than she is, but that I can see reality in terms of three universes (the physical, the mental, and the spiritual). She only admits to what is real in the physical and mental universes. This awareness comes not from anything I do but rather is a gift from the Father that enables me to be a novice at calling God Abba, Father. I can do this because Christ volunteered to be a ransom for many and to redeem me from the ordinary paradigm of birth, death, procreation, finding the meaning of love, and dying. In plunging into the waters of Faith, I rise again, not to the ordinary world I left, but now my world is centered on Christ alone as the Principle of ho I seek to love, how I serve God rather than myself, and the gratitude I express for that salvation.


As I live each day, I still experience the wear and tear of the world, but now with the martyrdom that comes from knowing the answer to the six questions that sustain me as I take up my cross daily against the lures and trials of Satan. I now can see what is coming my way. I have a way of protecting myself, not from the cuts and swipes of sin, but food for the journey (Eucharist) and healing for my false inclinations (Reconciliation). I learn from Christ that I must be a penitent Lay Cistercian, depending not on anything I do, but take the time to place myself in the presence of The Christ Principle and be open to whatever comes my way. Using Cistercian charisms and practices, through Christ, I become transformed from the ordinary to an extraordinary, adopted son of the Father. Each day I do this is my ever greater awareness that Christ grows and I decrease. I must still struggle each day and pray, lest I succumb to the pride that says, “Haven’t you done enough? All you need to do in just get on the conveyor belt of Faith and ride until Heaven. You don’t need the cross in your life. You can choose what is easy over what is right.” I know that I am on the right track when people try to dissuade me from being in the presence of Christ, of disrespecting my practice of the Faith, of telling me that I am a phony and God doesn’t love me. These spiritual bruises and cuts to my spirit are part of the martyrdom of the ordinary. No one will see the cuts to my spirit brought on by my battle with the world and the Evil Ones. Christ is the healer of my cuts because he endured cuts to his body and scourged his flesh so that I would be healed by his stripes. Anyone who is baptized suffers the martyrdom of the ordinary if they truly follow Christ’s example.


People who live in just two universes (the physical and the mental) get bored with the monotony and routine of ordinary living. So do people who live in three universes (the physical, the mental, and the spiritual). One of them told me a big struggle for monks was to repeat the same activity every day and try to keep it from becoming just a mindless exercise for the sake of that exercise. The Lay Cistercian practices I do (reading Chapter 4 every day, reciting The Liturgy of the Hours, Rosary, Lectio Divina) can be just repetitious ends in themselves. I can think I am a good Lay Cistercian if I do these practices rather than thinking that doing these practices puts me in the presence of Christ and the Holy Spirit.


All sin has a residue, a consequence of our choices as to what is resonant with nature, consistent with our humanity, and authentic with the Christ Principle. Each baptized person, conscious of it or not, is an adopted son and daughter of the Father. As long as Christ is our center, we live in a world with a residue of sin but are not enslaved by its magnetic power. Centers can drift, so we must struggle to keep ourselves focused on the prize, as St. Paul warns. I wrote a blog about what it feels like to keep focused on getting up each morning and facing the ordinary day of living and how I alone (if I have Christ as my center) have the power through the authentic choice of love to transform what is ordinary into something wonderful that will last for all eternity. It is not that the residue of sin is taken away as much as Christ’s resurrection from the dead and ascension to heaven is made real through me as I seek God each day. This perspective takes energy each day, each hour, to preserve its integrity as my Christ Principle. Just being human and the effects of Original Sin exert an invisible pull toward these effects of the sin of Adam and Eve. The sin of adam was he wanted to be God. The sin of Eve was she did not want God (or Adam) telling her what to do with her body and her destiny. Both were oblivious to reality and sought to make a world with them at the center instead of God. This is the residue of sin, the constant tug in being human, the reason Christ had to suffer, die on the cross, to buy back humanity from becoming stuck in a perpetual purgatory without hope of reaching humanities’ destiny and the end and completion of what was the beginning of something wonderful. It is the ultimate end to the beginning of all that is or will be. The Christ Principle is our only way to give glory to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. The God who is, who was, and who will be at the end of the ages. Christ, through the energy of the Holy Spirit, provides all the helps I need to win the battle (while losing some wars). He will not do it for me but Christ is with me if I am with Christ. I access this through profound listening when I place myself in the presence of Christ and listen with the ear of my heart, as St. Benedict instructed us to do in the Prologue to his Rule.

The following excerpt is from a book entitled Profound Listening: A Lay Cistercian reflects on habits that help “listen with the ear of the heart:” Due out in December 2021.


The struggle to be spiritual may be compared to a rower paddling upstream. When we are baptized, God tells us that we are rowing in the wrong direction to reach Heaven. We must go against the natural flow of the water and work or struggle to get where God tells us. In Chapter 4 of the Rule, St. Benedict tells his monks (and those who will listen profoundly) to follow the inclinations of the Spirit rather than their human nature (just flowing down the river of life). Read what St. Benedict says about the struggle to be spiritual.

1 First of all, love the Lord God with your whole heart, your whole soul, and all your strength, 2 and love your neighbor as yourself (Matt 22:37-39; Mark 12:30-31; Luke 10:27).

3 Then the following: You are not to kill,

4 not to commit adultery;

5 you are not to steal

6 nor to covet (Rom 13:9);

7 you are not to bear false witness (Matt 19:18; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20).

8 You must honor everyone (1 Pet 2:17),

9 and never do to another what you do not want done to yourself (Tob 4:16; Matt 7:12; Luke 6:31).

10 Renounce yourself in order to follow Christ (Matt 16:24; Luke 9:23);

11 discipline your body (1 Cor 9:27);

12 do not pamper yourself,

13 but love fasting.

14 You must relieve the lot of the poor,

15 clothe the naked,

16 visit the sick (Matt 25:36),

17 and bury the dead.

18 Go to help the troubled

19 and console the sorrowing.

If you read these tools for good works, using profound listening, can you tell how it feels to deny yourself, take up your cross each day and follow Christ? Each of us baptized with the sign of the cross must struggle each day, without exception, to move from the false self that the world touts as being saved to our true self, becoming more and more like Christ.

If you are rowing downstream just sitting in the boat, allowing the current to take you anywhere, it flows then you are not free at all, even if you go with the flow and without any effort.

When each of us is baptized with the sign of the cross, in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and thus are chosen by Christ to be adopted as sons and daughters.

We have not chosen Him as much as He has chosen us.

Read the following Scripture passage using profound listening. Don’t read Scripture as you would prove you are correct and some other religion is wrong, and you are missing the point. Let the love of Christ’s presence overshadow you as you sit there in silence and solitude and ponder what it means to assimilate the author’s feelings about the passage. Listen to the love Christ has for us, the trust he places in sinful humanity, the hope He has that we are grateful for what the Father has planned for each of us.

“10 If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.

11“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.

12 This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.

13 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.

16 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.

17 This I command you: love one another.

The World’s Hatred.*

18 “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.

19 If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you.

20 Remember the word I spoke to you, ‘No slave is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.

21 And they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know the one who sent me.

22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but as it is, they have no excuse for their sin.

23 Whoever hates me also hates my Father.

24 If I had not done works among them that no one else ever did, they would not have sin; but as it is, they have seen and hated both me and my Father.t

25 But in order that the word written in their law* might be fulfilled, ‘They hated me without cause.’

26 “When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me.v

27 And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.”

But there is a challenge there. If we believe that all we must do is follow ourselves and inclinations, float down the river of our lives, and accept what comes our way, we do not have profound enlightenment nor profound listening, and we are headed the wrong way and may not even know it.  

Profound listening means we must accept the challenge of rowing our whole life upstream because that is what Christ tells us to do, and he showed us what to do.

When we are in the midst of the Holy Spirit, we know when we struggle to go against our nature to embrace the opposite of what the world says is successful and meaningful. In many instances, what the world says is not bad; it is more like it is insufficient to row upstream with the tools of good works that it offers. This daily conversion through aggressive conversion each day to have in us the mind of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5) provides us with the energy from the Holy Spirit to not only know our destination is the kingdom of heaven now and later on, but the stamina to overcome the temptations to give up and go with the flow of life. God does not take away the struggle we face in rowing against the current of our false selves. Original Sin may be forgiven in Baptism, but that sin’s effects continue with us our whole lifetime. It is the reason why we struggle to keep our boat afloat and must expend our energy to row against the current. The Holy Spirit provides us with the art of contemplative practice, not to take away our struggles but to give us the tools we need to persevere until we reach Heaven, our port of final call. You could call these rowing lessons from the Holy Spirit.


Maybe you do not, but I keep wondering why I have to continue my practice and practice of trying to love God each day with all my heart, with all my strength, and with all my mind, plus my neighbor as myself, and nothing happens. I do my Cistercian practices as faithfully as an old buzzard who is 80 years old can, and it sometimes seems as though I am just waiting my time. Is my goal unattainable? Am I living in La-La land, as my wife thinks? If my contemplative practice is so good, why does God not answer me instead of allowing me to wait in that hidden room in my heart and keep thinking that I am in my Physicians’ waiting room? Why can’t I reach what I seek each day? There you have it. I face the struggle each day, just as surely as Christ had to face himself in that last temptation from Satan in the Garden of Gethsemani, “Not my will but your will be done.”

All of this has to do with my human nature’s desire to put a cap on a thought or finalize any activity. Achieving what we seek for the moment is our nature’s default, and that is called fulfillment. What Christ was asking the Father is a human default, the result of Original Sin. Let this cup pass from me. As I see it, He was saying, “Do I have to give you the last drop of my blood to make restitution for the sin of Adam and Eve? My human nature doubts going through all this suffering for those who don’t even believe in me. ” To a much less degree but no doubt in the same feeling, I say this many times I go to Lectio Divina, Eucharist, Rosary, Reading Scripture, Liturgy of the Hours, spending time in the presence of Christ in Eucharistic Adoration. I say, “I don’t see how just saying prayers brings me into the presence of Christ? I feel like I am wasting my time focusing on Christ through the Holy Spirit when I could be watching First Things First and Get Up, my favorite sports programs” (I have given up watching calumniating national news channels.)

Silence and solitude, both Cistercian charisms, are forged on the crucible of my nature which is a contact battle for who is stronger. This is why prayer is a struggle, a good battle if I conquer my human nature in favor of my life in Christ, a bad one when I am weak and do not wait patiently for God to overshadow me with the warmth of his presence.

Chapter 4 of the Rule of St. Benedict has tools for good works that I think of often when the world tries to influence me to be more like me rather than take up the burden of my cross each day and follow the footprints of Christ. These behaviors are not ends in themselves but are only a means to an end, and the End, in this case, is also The Beginning, The Alpha, and the Omega.

20 Your way of acting should be different from the world’s way;

21 the love of Christ must come before all else.

22 You are not to act in anger

23 or nurse a grudge.

24 Rid your heart of all deceit.

25 Never give a hollow greeting of peace

26 or turn away when someone needs your Love.

27 Bind yourself to no oath lest it proves false,

28 but speak the truth with heart and tongue.

29 Do not repay one bad turn with another (1 Thess 5:15; 1 Pet 3:9).

30 Do not injure anyone, but bear injuries patiently.

31 Love your enemies (Matt 5:44; Luke 6:27).

32 If people curse you, do not curse them back but bless them instead.

33 Endure persecution for the sake of justice (Matt 5:10).

34 You must not be proud,

35 nor be given to wine (Titus 1:7; 1 Tim 3:3).

36 Refrain from too much eating

37 or sleeping,

38 and from laziness (Rom 12:11).

39 Do not grumble

40 or speak ill of others.

41 Place your hope in God alone.

42 If you notice something good in yourself, give credit to God, not to yourself,

43 but be certain that the evil you commit is always your own and yours to acknowledge.

Suppose you wait for God to be present to you with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your strength? In that case, you will eventually, as I have, come to the embarrassing realization that Christ has been sitting next to you all along, waiting for you to be aware enough to sit there in the stillness of your being and wait. Your waiting is itself a prayer, a prayer of profound listening to the heartbeat of Christ.


  1. I do profound listening on God’s time, not mine.
  2. When I do profound listening, I am conscious that God speaks to me and not just another human. (St. Benedict, Chapter 7, the first rule of humility, Fear of the Lord.)
  3. Profound listening is done in the silence and solitude of my heart as I sit on a park bench in the middle of winter waiting for Christ.
  4. It is God’s agenda, not my own, for which I listen using the “ear of my heart.”
  5. The Word of God is the energy of God. When I assimilate that into my being, based on the totality of what I have become, then this energy must be shared with others, just as God must share the fulness of His love with humans.


This question answers the fourth threshold through which all humans must pass to solve The Divine Equation. This set of six questions and their correct answers form the fulfillment of human destiny and evolution. I call them The Divine Equation, but they are not questions and answers about God at all, such as proofing God’s existence, and they are to help me prove my existence and why I am.

  • What is the purpose of life?
  • What is my purpose within that purpose?
  • What does reality look like?
  • How does it all fit together?
  • How to love fiercely?
  • You know you are going to die, now what?


Today is thanksgiving day, a secular feast. My Lectio Divina this morning managed to let thanksgiving in but in an unexpected way. Giving thanks or Gratitude to God is a theme strongly advocated by St. Bernard of Clairvaux, and one might say a dominant theme of his. 

Gratitude is the one thing humans can offer to God that he does not have because each one of us has free will and the ability to give thanks or make bad choices of us. God is so great that, even though we miss the mark (sin), his love never wanes. God is always 100% of his nature. In my vigil before the Blessed Sacrament, many times, I just sit there with no thoughts in mind, with no agenda on my plate, with no intentions, and just give thanks for God is God. God’s energy (grace) always has a product in me. It is the extreme joy that I am counted worthy of being an adopted son of the Father.

As the Psalmist says, God does not need my prayers (or sacrifices of bulls or first fruits). The earth is God’s. God does not have my heart and the gratitude I have for knowing, loving, and serving him in humility and love. God does not need anything from me to transform Himself into something more. It is I how need the transforming. To be an adopted son (daughter) of the Father, I must lift myself up to a higher level of existence than to be a mere human in the world. Baptism with water and the spirit is that gift of Faith from God to lift me up to a higher level. It is nothing I have done to deserve it.

Gratitude is the response in all our prayers to this gift of adoption.

We can’t thank God enough for overshadowing the Blessed Mother with the Holy Spirit.

.We can’t thank God enough for emptying Himself out of love for us (Philippians 2:5)

We can’t give God anything. He needs to be God (like receiving Christmas gifts from people you will never use or wear).

We give glory to the Father through the Son in union with the Holy Spirit. Part of what glory means is to give thanks as well as adoration.

Eucharist means thanksgiving where the faithful join Christ made present on the altar of Abraham, the Arc of the Covenant, the cross, and in each of those marked with the sign of contradiction that God would so love the world that he would empty himself because of love. We don’t deserve it, and all we can do is sit in the presence of our hearts, with heads lowered, and ask for God’s mercy and express our thankfulness.

The Contemplatio part of my Lectio Divina is, more and more, just sitting on a park bench in the dead of winter and giving thanks to God for who I am and the sum of the choices I made based on His will and not my own. The winter denotes the residue of sin that I must forage in my search for How to love others fiercely.

All of this costs no money that the world can use of value, but it will cost me, Love, with all my heart, all my would, all my strength, and my neighbor as myself. Matthew 22:35.


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