One of those recurring questions I must keep asking myself from now until I die is, “Am I a Roman Catholic, or am I just passing through?” It is like the examination of conscience that St. Benedict writes about in Chapter 4 of his Rule. Read it. I always cite my source and give the total text of any Scripture I use so that you have a chance to reflect profoundly on the words of God to us rather than using them as a speed bump and an inconvenience. Reading Chapter 4 is important to this article, so make sure you don’t procrastinate.

Like me, if you aspire to love and act, not as the world teaches but follows The Christ Principle as my center, you will “get” what I am trying to uncover with this blog. If not, what I am about to say will knock on the door of your house with nobody home. I offer these opinions (after all, this is a blog), not to proselytize (my God is better than your God) or even evangelize (love others as I have loved you). Rather, these thoughts are ideas reflecting on why I still believe what I do. During this past month, the Lay Cistercians of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit met in their gathering. I bring this up because a takeaway from this meeting was the notion that in my contemplative meditations (and once in a while contemplation), I should be living the moment out ahead of where I am or conscious of my next moment. This linking of thoughts or thinking ahead of yourself reminded me of Dr. Bernard Boland, my professor at Loyola University (Chicago), Institute of Pastoral Studies. He is an existential philosopher who brought existential thinking into my worldview. Dr. Boland told us that to be existential is to live “out in front of yourself,” which is similar to what Father Cassian Russell, O.C.S.C. told us about Lectio Divina. Living out in front of yourself is all about choices and their consequences.

What prompted my Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5) is the question I have about everyone having a different perception of who Jesus is based on their choices and the results of those choices in how you look at reality. I have a saying: “I am not you, you are not me; God is not you, and you, most certainly, are not God.” For example, as a Lay Cistercian, we meet on Gathering Day to frame or energize what we will live out for the rest of the month. Community is so important that you cannot remain a Lay Cistercian (with stability to a monastery with an Abbot or Abbess) without this face-to-face meeting. With the entry of COVID, we must resort to using Zoom, which I find better suited to the needs of an 81+-year-old who lives five hours away from the Monastery of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit (Trappist), Conyers, Georgia. Community is so critical because it is through each Lay Cistercian and Monastic Spiritual Advisor that the Holy Spirit speaks. Like it is with belief, my problem is to listen profoundly to what Christ says “with the ear of the heart” and “do what he tells you.”

The Wedding at Cana.1* On the third day there was a wedding* in Cana* in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.a2Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.3When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”4* [And] Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.”b5His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.”c6* Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings,d each holding twenty to thirty gallons.7Jesus told them, “Fill the jars with water.” So they filled them to the brim.8Then he told them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.”* So they took it.9And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it came from (although the servers who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom10and said to him, “Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.”11Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs* in Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him.e12* After this, he and his mother, [his] brothers, and his disciples went down to Capernaum and stayed there only a few days.*

I encourage you to read this entire Scripture at least three times, the last time asking yourself what the Holy Spirit is trying to tell you. What is the most important idea Jesus wants us to know? Why is “do whatever he tells you” so important for approaching what happens to you each and every day you live? Reverence this word of God as if you were the only one that has ever read it.


If you want a Church that provides comfort as you pass through the minefields of life, this is not the one for you. When you become a professed Catholic of the Universal Church, you are not given a Bible but a heavy cross to bear (the weight of your own sins). The Scriptures tell us and show us how to love others as Christ loves us. Read John 20:30-31. To be Catholic in the Apostolic sense, you must trust a convicted criminal that what he says about love is true, even though it makes no sense in terms of what the world suggests is the way. As each Baptized Catholic lives out their existence, Christ does not leave us orphans. He understands the weakness and proneness to self-indulgence that the world offers and how incredibly weak any of us are to the onslaughts of the Devil. That is why He left us the power to make all things new. That he left this underappreciated power to love God as He loved us to sinful humans is remarkable. In both the Old and New Testaments, bad things happen whenever the people stray away from the covenant of loving others in their own name instead of as Christ loved us. The two gifts Christ handed down to the Apostles to give those who believe are real food and the spirit’s real healing. The real food is the Eucharist, where Christ is made present by the words of the Priest, just as real and energetic as he was when he was in the upper room challenging the disciples to move from self to God. As a pledge of sustainability of this new covenant, He gave us access to the Second Advocate, the Spirit of Truth. Not everyone can hear the words or ideas of the Holy Spirit in their heart. It takes work. That is why being Catholic is tough. You are asked to deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow Christ.

Not only is being a Catholic, in the most authentic sense of that word, impossible by yourself, but you are also asked to die to yourself. That doesn’t make any sense to the world. Remember Chapter 4 that you just read above (you did read it, didn’t you?). Look at those tools or instruments to help you move from self to Christ and see if you can see what St. Benedict is telling you that you must do to love others as Christ loved you?


The Catholic Church does not make sense, given the world’s criteria. The only way to view it is using The Christ Principle. This is the one intense point or center into which all reality flows, is transformed into incorruptibility, and emerges with the way, the truth, and the life for those who bear the mark of the cross on their foreheads. As strange as that may sound, the sign of contradiction is the measurement by which and through whom what is irrational, a fairy tale, and totally against all human experiences, makes sense.

There is no more conflicting contradiction of reason than the doctrine and practice of the real presence of Christ, body, blood, soul, and divinity present under the appearance of the fragile white piece of unleavened bread. The Arc of the Covenant is consecrated by the most unlikely of sources, a sinful human being. It is the Manna from heaven given for the ransom of many. It is the ultimate test of the belief that the same Christ that rose from the dead is as present as when he appeared to the Apostles who were in a room where the doors were locked for fear of the Jews.

This is my personal take on belief, but I think there are two distinct camps of Christianity. One is all those who do not hold that Jesus is present in the Eucharist; the second camp is those with varying levels of knowledge, love, and service, who live with the belief that Jesus is present. Even if you are a practicing Catholic, you may or may not believe in the Real Presence, called Transubstantiation. It is the major league of belief.

The practice of the Eucharist as the presence of Christ comes from the intensity of loving Jesus with your whole heart, with your whole mind, and with your whole strength and your neighbor as yourself. Believe me, you must fight your human self to move beyond the corruptible love of this world to embrace an incorruptible love.

I am at a stage where I don’t have to prove anything to anyone about the Real Presence. With Faith, says St. Thomas Aquinas, no answer is necessary. Without Faith, no answer is possible. Amen.

If you consider yourself a Catholic, don’t roam too far from the Christ Principle.


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