THE CHRIST PRINCIPLE: We are what we choose.

Holy Mother's Center

Once, a young man wanted to know the one question, that, if you asked it, all others depended upon it. He set out to find that one question, one that kept him up at night, not with worry but with curiosity.

He went to his local high school chemistry teacher, which he admired the most. She told him that even asking his question was a sign of great scientific curiosity and worthy of a great mind. He asked her this question: What is the one question that if you asked it, all other questions depend upon it for their answers? To the answer, she said that this was a search she was still conducting, but she gave him two cautions: seek a question that is true in the past, in the present, and in the future. He told his teacher that she challenged him to choose concepts and ideas that would be true now and in the future. It must not be open to change but must be immutable; secondly, it must encapsulate all reality, not just scientific laws and theories. And finally, I am so proud of you for being so scientific in your thought processes.

Buoyed by this experience, he next visited the most intelligent person he had ever met. This man was a Detective of Police with his local police department. He had gone to college with his dad and knew him well. He had lost touch with him for a few years but ran into him in a mall, and they had coffee together. He asked his friend to help him out. What is the one question that, if you asked it, all other questions depend upon their answers? He told his friend that he had just begun to toy with that same question but had no definitive answer. He told him that part of it must be that all humans have human reasoning and are not animals. They also can choose whatever they want as their value system and what makes sense morally. He said there is another dimension of possibility that I have yet to assimilate into my one question. I can’t quite put my finger on it yet, but it has to do with my experience as a law enforcement officer. I see many people each day who break the law, either by choice or by accident, he said. My idea of human nature is that humans are good by default and are constantly prone to make easy choices rather than difficult ones. We have laws for us, but sometimes we just choose the opposite for no good reason other than we think we can get away with it or that no one will know about it.

The young man reflected on what his friend had told him and thought he knew why he considered him the most intelligent and wisest person he knew, next to his dad. The next person he wanted to look up was his pastor, Father Joe. Father Joe was one of his favorite persons because he was a straight shooter and told it like it was. He didn’t care if you believed it was true or not, but he spoke from his heart and what you needed to hear. He was always quoting G. K. Chesterton: “I don’t need to the church to tell me when I am wrong when I know I am wrong; I need the church to tell me I am wrong when I think I am right.” He told Father Joe of his question and asked for guidance. “These six questions,” he said, “are core questions each person must ask and find answers that satisfy their heart. If you don’t believe in a power greater than yourself, both the questions and the answers are relative, pending on who asks and give answers to them. There is no right or wrong, only what you choose to be authentic, and you only living seventy or eighty years, if you are lucky. Then what? Father Joe continued, “If both the questions and their authentic answers originate from a power outside of yourself, then you must use your reason and ability to choose correctly. Your free choice does not mean what you choose is free to choose. There are consequences to all choices.”

“Humans like to make choices that are easy and do not have pain. With all due respect to B.F. Skinner’s operant conditioning approach to choice, those who are marked with the sign of the cross must choose what is difficult over what seems easy and without consequences. The world thinks this is crazy and is some kind of masochistic or sadistic approach to being human. Baptism changes all that. We embrace whatever life comes our way because God has chosen us as adopted sons and daughters and given us the strength to sustain our journey until we reach our destiny as intended in the Garden of Eden.”

The young man thanked Father Joe for his insights and told him that talking to him was like taking a drink of water from a fire hydrant. He would have to take some time and peel away the layers of meaning in what he said.

Next, he went to a nearby monastery, thinking that the monks there would indeed have the answers to his question since they had devoted their lives to living as consecrated religious. They were called Trappists and made beer to help support themselves. The monks told him to go to the one place humans are afraid to look, in their inner room, and just wait. They encouraged him to use Lectio Divina, penetrating the depths and the heights of meaning contained in his questions. He tried this and soon found out that it was not as easy as it seemed. First, there were all kinds of distractions bombarding his thought process so that he could not focus on one thing for more than a few minutes. They recommended he spend time in the monastery church in silence and solitude and ask the Holy Spirit to help with the question.

The young man did so for five days without any seeming results. At the end of five days, he was frustrated that he had no good thoughts, although he had pleaded and begged the Holy Spirit to help out. He was somewhat frustrated to the point of thinking that having an answer to the questions was impossible. He was walking out the door when he noticed an older woman sitting on the backbench, head bowed, eyes closed but with the most peaceful simile on her lips that he had ever seen. He interrupted the woman, who smiled at him gently and said, “What is it you seek?” “I want to know the answer to the question of what is the one thing at the center of my life, that, if I took it away, all other questions and worries would fall into place?” The woman said, “What you place at your center is your God. You can either put something there yourself, such as power, drink, pleasure for the sake of pleasure, or money. You might even put your church as your center, but all of these would be idols that will not fulfill your destiny.” She continued, “The only thing I have discovered to make me smile in the depths of my heart, is to sit here in the silence of the Monastery Church, and, with humility and obedience to God’s wishes, and wait for the heart of Christ to beat as one with mine.” The young man said, “How is it that you can see all this just sitting in Church?” The old woman fixed her eyes on his and said, “Young man, how is it that you cannot.”

We are defined by our choices and implications, not by our skills and knowledge. Only you can put something as your center. You have reason to help you find out what is true or false. You have the freedom to choose good or bad. God sent His only Son to save us from choosing what is terrible for our human nature and a deterrent to moving to our next level of evolution–being adopted sons and daughters of the Father.

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