THE PENITENTIAL LAY CISTERCIAN: Reparation for the cost of sin

When reflecting on my experiences with being a Lay Cistercian, I find it amazing that I am so much more aware of what it means to “have in me the mind of Christ Jesus.” This mind of Jesus has remained more of a novelty or talking point rather than a capstone of my spiritual development. Being a Lay Cistercian has brought maturity to a practice of Cistercian good works (Chapter 4 of St. Benedict’s Rule) that I tried to practice but did not assume into my very core of being. I am beginning to be aware of this dynamic at play through being a penitential Lay Cistercian.

Being Lay Cistercians, I have discovered has many layers, vertical layers. Here are just a few layers of meaning that I have found exist within this temple of the Holy Spirit.

  1. Becoming a believer through a profound reading of Sacred Scripture. Having read Scriptures since I can remember anything, I now realize that all of it so that I might “come to believe” that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, and that beliving in Him, I might have life everlasting. John 20:30-31. If the one rule Jesus left his disciples to do is “love others as I have loved you,” then all of Scriptures, inspired by God, is nothing if not how to love as Christ. God’s words are energy, energy to move from just a physical and mental view of life that comes from the world, but has no energy to lift us up to the spiritual universe. Baptism is God making us adopted sons and daughters. The Holy Spirit is the Advocate who give each individual God’s own energy (as I am capable of receiving it). This is my habit of conversion which I must use each day to move from my false self to my true self.
  2. Realizing that all choices I make have consequences, some of them good and some bad. This I find is the basis for the notion of reparation for sin. What happens when we choose something in life that God says is bad for us, but we think is good. G.K. Chesterton is quoted as saying: “I don’t want a church to tell me what is bad that I know is bad; I want a church to tell me what is bad that I think is good.” Just as everything I choose from God is good, so everything I choose that is bad has fallout. Scripture says, “The wages of sin is death.” My template for reparation for sin is none other than Jesus Himself. Think back to the sin of Adam and what happened.

Humanity’s Sin through Adam.12* Therefore, just as through one person sin entered the world,h 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.17For 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.18In conclusion, just as through one transgression condemnation came upon all, so through one righteous act acquittal and life came to all.k19For 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,m21so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through justification for eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.n

What was this “one righteous act? The debt of Adam and Eve owed to God for their transgression is an archetype of the relationship between divine and human nature. The consequences of this act were that humans were kicked out of the Garden of Eden, a metaphor for what the authors of Genesis observed about human nature. Only God could restore humanity to resonance from the dissonance of their collective sin. Jesus became one of us to restore us to what should have been in the Garden of Eden, but now called The Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus has to make restitution to God for this “sin” that broke off their relationship with God. Adam and Eve, with their free choice to choose to be Divine Nature, had, as a consequence “all of us being sinners.” Pure love (God) reached down to humanity to raise it up, once again, by giving the energy of God to humans in the form of Jesus Christ, The Messiah.

Restoration has a price and so does redemption. The notion of redemption comes from the Hebrew word “Gaal.” If you check Strong’s Concordance, you will find that it means a kinsman, goes to the pawnshop to buy back what was pawned by someone else. Jesus is the kinsman, God restoring kinship to humanity again, and not only that, by making us adopted sons and daughters of the Father. The price of redeeming the pawn ticket as the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus not only as second Adam but also fulfilling the sacrifice of Abraham on the altar of sacrifice. This was a voluntary sacrifice by one who knew no sin but became sin for our restoration. He became the ransom for many and we must follow his example.

Because Christ bid his disciples love others as he has loved us, that means we must adopt a habit of reparation for our sins that that of the Church (the world). In the morning offering, I make each day before my feet hit the ground, I offer up the day in reparation for all my sins. Confessed sin and those whose reside I carry on my soul like sticky paper, are with me until I die. ask God each day to have mercy on my past failings, as the Psalmist recants in Psalm 102

The prayer of one afflicted and wasting away whose anguish is poured out before the LORD.


2LORD, hear my prayer;

let my cry come to you.

3Do not hide your face from me

in the day of my distress.a

Turn your ear to me;

when I call, answer me quickly.

4For my days vanish like smoke;b

my bones burn away as in a furnace.

5My heart is withered, dried up like grass,

too wasted to eat my food.

6From my loud groaning

I become just skin and bones.

7I am like a desert owl,

like an owl among the ruins.

8I lie awake and moan,

like a lone sparrow on the roof.

9All day long my enemies taunt me;

in their rage, they make my name a curse.*

10I eat ashes like bread,

mingle my drink with tears.c

11Because of your furious wrath,

you lifted me up just to cast me down.

12dMy days are like a lengthening shadow;e

I wither like the grass.


13But you, LORD, are enthroned forever;

your renown is for all generations.f

14You will again show mercy to Zion;

now is the time for pity;

the appointed time has come.

15Its stones are dear to your servants;

its dust moves them to pity.

16The nations shall fear your name, LORD,

all the kings of the earth, your glory,g

17Once the LORD has rebuilt Zion

and appeared in glory,

18Heeding the plea of the lowly,

not scorning their prayer.

19Let this be written for the next generation,

for a people not yet born,

that they may praise the LORD:h

20*“The LORD looked down from the holy heights,

viewed the earth from heaven,i

21To attend to the groaning of the prisoners,

to release those doomed to die.”j

22Then the LORD’s name will be declared on Zion,

his praise in Jerusalem,

23When peoples and kingdoms gather

to serve the LORD.k


24He has shattered my strength in mid-course,

has cut short my days.

25I plead, O my God,

do not take me in the midst of my days.*l

Your years last through all generations.

26Of old you laid the earth’s foundations;m

the heavens are the work of your hands.

27They perish, but you remain;

they all wear out like a garment;

Like clothing, you change them and they are changed,

28but you are the same, your years have no end.

29May the children of your servants live on;

may their descendants live in your presence.n

When you read this Psalm, do so with the hope of having in you the same feeling as the Psalmist. These Psalms, like others of the Seven Penitential Psalms, express what I feel and why I pray to the Father through Christ to not look on our sins but the faith of the Church and be merciful.

3. Feeling the energy of the heart of Christ next to me as I empty myself and seek to have Christ increase in me while my old reliance on sin for fulfillment is put in its proper focus. Each time I enter into Lectio Divina, I exist out in front of myself. I move forward in my spiritual development with the energy of the Holy Spirit. My direction is toward the Christ Principle, not outside of myself but to have in me the mind of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5). I must sustain this center each day and struggle to keep it as my anchor despite living in a condition of corruption that is physical and mental. God made my nature as good, not rotten or that kind of corrupt. Adam’s sin means I inherit the effects of Original Sin and I must constantly work with the help of the Holy Spirit to pray and fast that I do not enter into temptation. Some days are better than others.

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