One of the great lessons I have taken away from being exposed to Cistercian spirituality is the sheer simplicity of allowing God to shine on your behavior. This life-giving energy replenishes Faith with grace and conversio morae, growing more like Christ and less like the worldly you.
I will offer my thoughts about the conversion of heart as I understand it from being exposed to the traditional concepts of Cistercian spirituality. Being a Lay Cistercian has taught me to assimilate the practices and charisms of the Cistercian Way and apply them to how I seek God every day with awareness and passion. As is my habit of thinking these days, I look at one reality as having three distinct universes (physical, mental, and spiritual). By depth, I speak of both vertical growth (within the person) and horizontal growth (from point A in time to point B). Like most things in my life, nothing happens without it being purposeful. To move from my false self (sin) to a sustainable life in Christ, I need to rely on habits.
THE HABIT OF CULTIVATING HABITS
The human tendency to form habits in their lifestyles is at the heart of what it means to be a Lay Cistercian and someone who wants to move from where they are to where they want to go. My life has been a succession of habit-forming and discarding. I would always start on the left side and move to the right when shaving. I know people who, when they eat, eat one type of food before moving on to the next one. Habits for humans are habitual. The Art of Contemplation is no exception. My premise is that, like love, contemplation is an acquired skill that takes practice as a Lay Cistercian who tries to seek God each day as I am, and as God is, the formation of habits in my search for God is critical. Each day begins anew because of Original Sin, starting from scratch. I am not the same person because I have accumulated the product of those habits (capacitas dei), but I live in a world where I can progress or regress in my resolve. Habits help me maintain a momentum of spirituality that serves me well most of the time.
Characteristics of a habit as I use it.
TWO TYPES OF HABITUAL DIRECTIONS
Moving Forward: Conversion (moving forward) and Reversion (regressing backward). The question of movement is interesting in the physical and mental universes because there is only one direction humans can move. Biological movement is autonomous; it happens because of our nature as humans. We grow older, not younger. Everything in the physical and mental universes has a beginning and end, so there is insufficient mental energy to propel humans to the next level of evolution beyond our capability and capacity. The mental universe exists to allow us to choose something, but what? Nothing in just the mental universe will allow us to move forward to the enigma that seems to be lurking “out there” but can’t entirely be conquered by science and logic, much less be comprehended in a way that makes sense of what we know is the reality that we can experience with our five senses alone.
Applying the Christ principle, everything I use allows me to make sense of life when I solve using the Divine Equation. My assumption, based on all that I have experienced and assimilated with my reason as meaningful (but just cloudy enough to be blurry, or as St. Paul states, “we see through a foggy glass” ), is that there is the next step to my human evolution, albeit one that is based on my physical and mental universe in which I live. This universe doesn’t make sense when my reasoning challenges the assumptions that there are three universes and that I must enter this third one (spiritual universe), not through the natural section process of the physical universe, but by choice.
Now the choice is not a characteristic of the physical universe, although it is the basis that allows humans to exist. Exist for what? Animals exist, but there is something about the human species that is different. We have collectively evolved our reasoning (we build on what went before). Still, we can now ask the interrogatories (who? why? what? how? where? when?) and receive information that we can group into shared communication or languages. The Sciences are such a language and are unique products of the human urge to take these interrogatories to their limits. Science is wonderful. But something is missing. Human reasoning does not produce the energy needed to move to the next stage of our evolution. It can produce energy to take us to the stars, astounding. Yet with all this energy, we have, or any energy that we discover, we still live in the physical universe, one with a beginning and an end.
The movement to the physical universe is not accomplished through merit or human intervention. There is a power outside of human nature that must share energy with us to “lift us up” to this next level of our human evolution. This spiritual universe is one of choice, but not what you think. The reason we have reason is to choose. Choose what? In this context, we choose the invitation to enter a third universe, the opposite of the one in which we live. This invitation does not come from anyone with human nature because one individual has neither the power nor the intelligence to convert human nature to something more. So, what could be more?
It is the Christ Principle. It is pure energy, love, knowledge, and pure service (the product of pure love). It is God, for lack of a better word. The problem comes when we try to possess God (knowledge is controlled) and control God. Herein lies the problem for human intelligence. God lives in a unique playground without matter, time, physical or mental energy, and space. So, how does that kind of nature communicate with a species that has evolved to the point that it can receive signals from beyond time and make sense of it? Does God speak German? If so, only Germans would understand? Is God male or female (what we humans know), or someone beyond gender, race, ideology, theology, cosmology, and all other “ologies.”
God does not speak with the human tongue or with the human ear. God speaks from the divine heart (love) to humans tuned in with the simplicity of loving others as God (Christ) loved us. In the Old Testament, God established a race to bring this message to all humanity (no favorites). All humans would get a chance at love. This love from God would be the fuel to raise us up (resurrection) to achieve our destiny at the end of our life (the physical and the universe has a beginning and an end). With the spiritual universe, God gives us a choice (saves us) from being confined to mere human constraints resulting from Original Sin. The Christ Principle became human from the security of being God (Philippians 2:5-12) because of love and so that we could share that love with our ultimate destiny, as sons and daughters of the Father. All of this is revealed through Christ (the Messiah). Not all see it. Not all ever know about it. To those who do know about it, it is a lifetime of conversion from our false self (influenced by the effects of Original Sin) to becoming what our nature intended, the fulfillment of our destiny.
II. Moving backward— Reversion is losing ground as a human being. Those who seek to establish a habit of prayer do so within the confines of human nature. Human nature is characterized by having a reason for a reason and also the ability to choose what we think is good for us. Not all our choices are good for us.
B.F. Skinner has a way of looking at and explaining reality called operant conditioning. https://www.simplypsychology.org/operant-conditioning.html I use this way of thinking to help me explain why we choose things that are not good for us. This is the pleasure-pain dilemma at the core of what it means to be human. We share this will all other living things, but there is a difference. Humans can choose against pleasure when our minds tell us it is harmful. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that to be fully human means that whatever we choose to make us happy or fulfilled must be correct, just because we have the right to choose this over that. None of this makes sense when you say you have to go against what makes humans happy or what is pleasurable. In writing about habits and what is meaningful, my premise is that you must go against human nature’s natural inclination to make you happy to be fulfilled as a human being. This only makes sense when I apply the Christ Principle to the reality I see around me.
YOU ARE THE REASON WE HAVE REASON
I look around me (I first knew that I knew somewhere around the Eighth Grade) and ask why I am. What is my purpose? I only live seventh to eighty years unless I get in the way of a car, have cancer, have a heart attack, or have other conditions that can terminate my frailty as a human individual. I care about myself, which I should. I don’t know much at the age of 10 years, but I know I will die in the future. I know that I have a reason for a reason and that my freedom to choose is with some things that are good for me and some things that are bad for me (although I don’t always know why).
Imprinted into all physical and mental, God’s DNA automatically dictates that I am, but with a difference. I can choose NOT to accept anything I don’t want to have as part of my value system. I can even select something terrible, like thinking it is okay to murder anyone I want. No one can tell me I am wrong because each person is their own 80-year-old universe, although only a blip on the monitor of existence.
This freedom gives me power and the illusion of invincibility. My humanity can choose to live with me as a god or give up my freedom and choose a power outside me that has the energy to take me to the next level of existence.
Through other humans, primarily through Jesus the Christ, we learn that God wants me to be an adopted son or daughter and survive the minefield of false steps and promises of the world or walk as an adopted son (daughter of the Father). As Rev. Dr. Billy Graham was fond of saying over and over and over, Jesus is your personal savior. Let that one sink in. I am not you; you are not me; God is not you, and, most certainly, you are not God.
At the core of what it means to be a Lay Cistercian, and thus for me to be authentically human, is conversio morae. The term means:
FACTORS INFLUENCING MY HABITS
NO ONE IS GOING TO TELL ME WHAT TO DO — This classic temptation sets forth choices between the source of power being outside of and more significant than yourself and the source of power being within you. Genesis is an archetypal story of the consequences of choosing me as my own center of reality. The difficulty in judgment comes because I am actually the center of the seventy or eighty years I have existed. I have human reasoning and the freedom to choose good or evil without recrimination from God, but there are unintended consequences to the choices I make. The wages of sin, says Scripture, is death. No one gets away from selecting poorly rather than the truth. This is perhaps one of two or three core temptations that face every human. We face those same temptations Christ faced in the desert, adapted to our life situations. They are:
I. It is God’s playground we seek to enter, so we must use only those rules. We must learn on earth how to love others as Christ loved us. “For yours is the kingdom.”
II. Only God’s energy enables us to fill up in us that is lacking due to our sins and the restitution we owe God for being sinful. Our hearts rest near the heart of Christ to fill up in us that which is lacking. This is prayer. “For yours is the power.”
III. At birth, we are given human reasoning and the ability to choose what is good for us. It is the only gift God lacks, not that God needs it to be fully God, but that it fulfills the love he has for each individual and makes us complete. Jesus’ mission was to give glory to the Father; our mission is to give glory through, with, and in the Son to the Father, using the energy of the Holy Spirit. “For yours in the glory.“
Conversion happens when you are in the presence of Christ and realize that He left the security of God to take on our nature to give all humans a chance to recover from the archetypal sin of pride and use our individual free will to choose God’s will be done on earth as it is in the heavens.
Conversion happens when you know God’s energy in you and not your own (belief).
Conversion is the result of an act of obedience where your will chooses God as the source of all that is, the center of reality. This act of obedience to the will of the Father has, as it types, Jesus the Christ, who struggled to achieve the mission he was given by His Father. (Philippians 2:5-12) Conversion is facing each day as though it is your last, and thanks to God for all his gifts that you don’t deserve. Conversion is seeking God each day purposefully and with
MY GOD IS BETTER THAN YOUR GOD
Adam and Eve messed this one, and so do many newly minted converted persons. The danger in conversio morae is that you anoint yourself as the authentic spokesperson for the Holy Spirit, more infallible than any Pope has claimed. You, and you alone, speak about God and what you speak is God speaking. This conversion is one of aberration and full of pride. When you hear anyone from any religion tell people that they will go to Hell if they don’t follow what they say and do, you know that this is the hypocrisy of the Scribes and Pharisees. Read this passage from Holy Scripture for how the author described the intensity of how Jesus felt when he talked about hijacking the Holy Spirit in favor of personal opinion. Read this passage three times, each time more slowly.
Denunciation of the Scribes and Pharisees.1a Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples,2* saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.3Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach, but they do not practice.4b They tie up heavy burdens* [hard to carry] and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them.5*c All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels.6*d They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues,7greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’8* As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’ You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers.9Call no one on earth your father; you have one Father in heaven.10Do not be called ‘Master’; you have but one master, the Messiah.11e The greatest among you must be your servant.12f Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.13*g “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You lock the kingdom of heaven* before human beings. You do not enter yourselves, nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter.*15* “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You traverse sea and land to make one convert, and when that happens you make him a child of Gehenna twice as much as yourselves.16*h “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If one swears by the temple, it means nothing, but if one swears by the gold of the temple, one is obligated.’17Blind fools, which is greater, the gold, or the temple that made the gold sacred?18And you say, ‘If one swears by the altar, it means nothing, but if one swears by the gift on the altar, one is obligated.’19You blind ones, which is greater, the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred?20i One who swears by the altar swears by it, and all that is upon it;21one who swears by the temple swears by it and by Him who dwells in it;22one who swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who is seated on it.23j “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You pay tithes* of mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier things of the law: judgment and mercy and fidelity. [But] these you should have done, without neglecting the others.24*k Blind guides, who strain out the gnat and swallow the camel!25*l “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You cleanse the outside of cup and dish, but inside they are full of plunder and self-indulgence.26Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup so that the outside may be clean.27* “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth.28m Even so, on the outside you appear righteous, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing.29* “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees,* you hypocrites. You build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the memorials of the righteous,30n, and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have joined them in shedding the prophets’ blood.’31o Thus, you bear witness against yourselves that you are the children of those who murdered the prophets;32now fill up what your ancestors measured out!33p You serpents, you brood of vipers, how can you flee from the judgment of Gehenna?34*q Therefore, behold, I send to you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and pursue from town to town,35so that there may come upon you all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the righteous blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar.36Amen, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.
The Lament over Jerusalem.*37r “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how many times I yearned to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her young under her wings, but you were unwilling!s38t Behold, your house will be abandoned, desolate.39u I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”
THE DIVINE EQUATION— Like the Collatz Conjecture, I recommend not wasting your time trying to prove the existence of God with human constructs. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=094y1Z2wpJg Not only is God unsolvable with the current mental constructs of mathematics and other sciences, but we must use the proofs and measurements of Divine Nature, of which we know nothing, except what Christ shared with us. I call it the Mathematics of Being, for lack of a better idea. Instead, I have devoted my remaining time to seeking God in my daily events. I am using The Divine Equation to discover what it means to be human. The Divine Equation has nothing to do with proving that God does or does not exist. This equation has everything to do with identifying and calculating who I am as an individual living out my seventy or eighty years (actually 81+). Ironically, both the question and this equation’s answers come from outside my human nature, something my life experiences and logical thinking do not consider normal.
My life is about discovering these six questions and their authentic answers before I die. Because each of the six questions depends on solving what came before it, there is a degree of difficulty. It might take a lifetime of trying to discover these six questions, let alone the authentic questions that bring resonance to reality rather than dissonance. I am still trying to reach the bottom of the well with these six propositions. So far, no end in sight. The six propositions that begin to address what it means for me to be human in the context of dissonance are:
Remember, you get both the questions and the correct answers outside of yourself with a power that ties together all that is and enables you to become what you discovered, the next phase of human evolution, the endpoint of all that is. The spiritual universe, which God has to create from our physical and mental universes, allows us to solve the Divine Equation. The spiritual universe does not make sense because its results contradict what the world teaches, even though our humanity can be noble and fulfilling. “There is one Law, that you love one another as I have loved you.” “To be the greatest, you must serve others.” “The first shall be last, and the last shall be first.” “Take up your cross each day and follow me.” “Love God with your whole heart, your whole mind, and your whole strength, and your neighbor as your self.”
Conversion is not a one-time event. This conversion uses the energy of the Holy Spirit each day to make all things new. Because of the dissonance of Original Sin, we experience not only “conversion” but sometimes “reversion” (sin). Our reason and free will use this power outside of ourselves to choose right rather than easy. It is the battle of the cross and the flesh. (Galatians 5) We can center ourselves in Baptism and have our sins washed in the blood of the Lamb, but our struggle is just beginning, and we cannot survive the onslaughts of the Evil One without actively seeking the help of the Holy Spirit each day. The secret of the Divine Equation is that there is no secret. It is open to everyone to discover. The questions and the answers have already been given to us from a power outside of ourselves. But, as you might suspect, there is a caveat; to discover what is authentic, you must play in God’s playground with God’s Rules, not yours. Luckily, there is only one rule: love others as Christ loved us. That’s all there is, but it takes a lifetime of struggle in the condition we call dissonance or original sin. The conversion happens when I must use my reason and my free will to choose to live as an adopted son (daughter) of the Father. I am accepted (loved) so much that Jesus became the Christ Principle to allow me to live in three universes and not just two (physical and mental). (Philippians 2:5-12)
CHOOSING WHAT IS RIGHT OVER WHAT IS JUST EASY — Choice has always been one of my favorite topics because the pseudo-choices that the world puts forth seem to tout that a human fulfills our intended purpose in life by choosing those things which elevate our animal instincts over the consequences of choices that seemingly go against our pleasure, our happiness, what makes us powerful and dominant. B.F. Skinner would be proud of those who view the epitome of being human as choosing what is accessible and unencumbered by any pain, sacrifice, or discomfort. https://www.simplypsychology.org/operant-conditioning.html
No one will tell you what to watch on television, how to think, nor even what to think (perhaps for delusional political parties who tend to see freedom as free if you agree with their thinking). Animals are controllable with operant conditioning; we can be controlled by pleasure rather than pain since we come from animal roots.
So, here is the conversion that accompanies this radical proposition from The Christ Principle that you must deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow a way of thinking opposite of the world in which you live. Even though we use words like “peace,” “love,” and “purpose” in the spiritual context, the meanings are totally different. It would be wrong to think that loving others as Christ loved us is somehow against human nature. Instead, if you accept the sign of contradiction as normative in the world you live in, this Rule of Opposites compliments our moving from old or false self to true self. That is conversion. It happens not just one time, but each day, each moment. Those who take the sign of the cross on their hearts are aware that the world’s ways will not lead to the fulfillment of human evolution. (See Chapter 4 of St. Benedict’s Rule. https://christdesert.org/rule-of-st-benedict/chapter-4-the-tools-for-good-works/)
The conversion of which I speak comes from the habit of humility, one which St. Benedict outlined in twelve steps in Chapter 7 of his Rule. This first step is critical because it is the conversion of the heart upon which all other habits depend. It is “Fear of the Lord.” Humility means you realize that, even though Jesus has two natures, divine, and human, you don’t forget this is God underneath humanity. Conversio morae mean that each day, you make a conscious effort to give glory to the Father through Jesus using the power of the Holy Spirit. I find this saying helpful: I am not you; you are not me; God is not you; and you, most certainly, are not God.” Who said that? I just did.
St. Bernard of Clairvaux says three “The three most important virtues are humility, humility, and humility.” ~ Bernard of Clairvaux Read more quotations from St. Bernard: https://www.azquotes.com/author/19601-Bernard_of_Clairvaux
The transformation from someone who lives and loves the world as good as possible to that of moving to the next stage of our human evolution happens only with, through, and in the Christ Principle.
THE CONSEQUENCES OF CHRIST BEING REAL AND PRESENT IN THE EUCHARIST– Here is a problem for you to consider using the concept of conversion from one who lives in a reality where there is a beginning and an end but who wants to change realities to live in such a way that there is a beginning but NO end. You must use the resources you have as a human being (remember, you only live seventy or eighty years) with the power that comes from you alone.
SPACESHIP TO FOREVER
I love watching YouTube videos from NASA and SpaceX on how humans will eventually colonize the Moon, Mars, and beyond. I want you to watch what I viewed so that we can both have the same wonderful experience of what it means to board a Spaceship to the Moon/Mars destinations. I used these YouTube videos for comparison purposes with what I propose is another flight, one to the Twilight Zone, in a way, one that is a way that I can convert this mind and soul to live forever. I call this The Divine Equation, for lack of a better term. I noticed a glaring omission in this and many other YouTube programs about space travel. There is no original sin or its effects. Think about it.
Let me share a Lectio Divina meditation I had (Philippians 2:5) on conversion and how someone who is merely human can possibly prepare for the trip to the unknown.
SPIRITUAL LAZINESS LEADS TO A LACK OF FAITH— If you are a boring person, then the life you experience is perceived as boring to you. This is called reactive existence. Proactive existence is living out in front of yourself (“existere” in the LATIN, live out in front of yourself). You purposefully choose your step before you make it. Life is not a problem to be solved nor a yin without a yang. Life is about choosing each day what is authentic in terms of the center that you have chosen for your life and moving forward.
A spiritually lazy person will let life dictate its terms to them; a person full of God’s energy is so full of grace that they cannot keep their joy to themselves. It is like taking a drink of concentrated orange juice. God’s energy is too vital for us to taste it; Christ is the water that dilutes God’s pure energy to the point that we can absorb it into our hearts. This is the Christ Principle, the source of all meaning and the mediator with the Father. Each day, we must be aware of the goodness of God in whatever comes our way and, using our reason and free will, transform ourselves to be more like Christ (capacitas dei) and less like our false selves.
Everything in our physical and mental universes has a beginning and an end. The physical universe is one that we can see and know about using the mental universe. It has both visible and invisible aspects). The spiritual universe takes what is confirmed in the physical universe, using the mental universe of reason and free choice to find out what is meaningful. This meaning is the opposite of what we can learn using only our reason. The spiritual universe begins on earth with my Baptism and continues forever without end.
PREFERRING THE MORALITY OF THE MOMENT TO THAT OF THE CROSS
When you received the sign of the cross on your forehead at Baptism, it became an indelible mark on your soul, one that defines your behaviors or does not. You are now a citizen of the kingdom of heaven and adopted son (daughter) of the Father, and heir to the kingdom, the power, and the glory. When you have left on earth, you prepare yourself to be worthy of God’s trust in you by learning how to love others as Christ loved you. There is a problem. Because you are also a citizen of the World, there is an existential tug between these two worlds. It is a struggle to maintain your adoption because you must still fight the effects of original sin and the complacency that comes from thinking that all this spiritual stuff is so much fluff.
Here are some habits that I try to keep placing and replacing in my consciousness to maintain my center as The Christ Principle. I don’t always think about these habits, but I do them as much as I can think about them, helping me move from my false self to my true self.
THE HABIT OF LOVE-– If love is the purpose of life, why is it so hard to do consistently? It is an acquired habit and one that never ends. Even after death, love is the fuel that energizes life. What I must do is learn how to love others as Christ loved us. I have joined the Lay Cistercians to learn how to love. St. Benedict’s Rule helps many of us focus on the School of Love.
THE HABIT OF FAITH-– Faith is that elusive virtue that, if you don’t have it, you can’t move spiritually, and if you do have it, you are constantly in danger of losing it without God’s energy to sustain it in your heart.
THE HABIT OF SERVICE-– Service is the product of love and faith. If this is a habit, I either do it so often that I don’t even think about it (like driving a car), or service is something that I must work to sustain in my tools of good works. St. Benedict’s Chapter 4 is a good listing of what I must do each day to consciously think of how I can have in me the mind of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5).
THE HABIT OF PENANCE-– Part of what it means for me to be a Lay Cistercian is being a person with a penitential approach to whatever life I have left. A penitential person realizes that this world, although good, isn’t good enough to reach heaven without help from Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is an awareness that even though I have confessed my sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, I continue to ask God for mercy on me, a sinner.
THE HABIT OF HUMILITY-– Humility is at the core of what I hope to become as a Lay Cistercian. It is at the very center of my purpose of being anything. Philippians 2:5 is my mantra, “Have in you the mind of Christ Jesus.” Humility is recognizing who I am in the sight of God. St. Benedict even has twelve steps to master humility, the first one being “Fear of the Lord.” With all the exuberance that comes with Faith, I remind myself constantly that the One I serve is God, even though I am an adopted son (daughter) of the Father. Appreciation.
THE HABIT OF OBEDIENCE- Without humility, I will never reach the obedience that says, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Without obedience, I will never be fully human, giving back to God the one gift worthy to present, my obedience. It goes against everything human to die to self each day. It does not make sense to give anyone the one power that defines you as a human, but it lifts you up to a level you could not reach by yourself. This is how you know if someone is of God or the world, that you offer up that which is most human as a gift to the Father, as Christ did. “Father,” He said, “Let this cup pass from me, but not my will but yours be done.” Can you drink the cup you received at Baptism, one where, with the sign of the cross, is the sign of the resurrection and obedience to God as being God?
THE HABIT OF CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER — For each of these habits, the goal is to do them without thinking, like driving a car. This takes both consistency and constancy; consistency, in that you strive to do the same thing over and over in the same way, much like our Gathering Day agenda, where our schedule is the same each month, but what we do within that timeframe is always different; and constancy, the habit of seeking God daily, or reading Chapter 4 each day. Constancy is the frequency of consistency. Lectio Divina requires both consistency and constancy in prayer to move deeper each day with the power of the Holy Spirit.
THE HABIT OF AWARENESS OF THE CHRIST PRINCIPLE- At my center is the Scripture from Philippians 2:5, “Have in you the mind of Christ Jesus.” The problem is that my center wobbles when it comes into contact with the effects of original sin or when tempted to do the bidding of the Lord of the World (Satan), the Great Accuser, versus the Lord of All There is (God), the Lord of Lords. The Christ Principle is that one tiny mustard seed at the very center of my bulls-eye, that if you take it away, life is no longer resonant or incorruptible. The Christ Principle is the only way, the only truth, and the only life that leads to humans fulfilling what nature intended us to be before sin entered the world through Adam and Eve.
THE HABIT OF CONVERSIO MORAE-– Each day, I must seek God. To do this, I must keep focused on moving from my false self to my true self. Living in the corruption of the World (everything has a beginning and an end, plus all matter decays, and time inexorably moves from what is to what was), each day is a new lifetime, a chance to grow in Christ. In contrast, I decrease those habits in me that detract from loving others as Christ loved us. I don’t always succeed in my resolve, such as the invisible power of original sin, the condition I was born in. Baptism removed this stain on my soul so that I could replace it with the sign of contradiction, the cross, to give me the strength to die to self each day to rise to a new life in Christ. What remains is dual citizenship of the world but now a New Jerusalem, the citizenship as adopted sons or daughters of the Father. God won’t do live my life for me, for such is the importance of free choice that God.
THE HABIT OF SEEKING GOD EACH DAY-– Each day is a lifetime of challenges to keep The Christ Principle as my center. The energy of the World seeks to cause my center to deteriorate. It does so because of matter’s natural corruption, and the mind deteriorates. This means that I begin again the struggle to have Christ Jesus’s mind in me every day. (Philippians 2:5). The habit is one of being conscious of my challenge and using the Lay Cistercian practices and charisms to place myself in the presence of Christ and wait for instructions. This habit is also one that employs the martyrdom of the ordinary in its repetition of the challenge each day to seek God where I am and as I am. With the humility that comes from realizing the fear of the Lord, I seek not only mercy for my past occasions of indifference and lack of love for others but also God’s own energy in the form of Eucharist and Lectio Divina to replenish the energy I lost from fighting the good fight and keeping the faith. Each day.
The struggle that accompanies any taking up your cross daily by moving from our false self to our true self is part of the gift of praise and thanks we offer to the Father through, with, and in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.