ABANDONMENT: A Lay Cistercian’s quest to love God with his whole mind, his whole heart, his whole strength, and his neighbor as himself.

This rather long and windy title is quite sophisticated as I begin to unwind the various depths contained within the words. First, behind the quote sits the center of the Old Testament, the Shema Yisrael (Deuteronomy 6:5). Not only that, it is the center of the New Testament (Matthew 22:36).

Next, this quote answers the first question posed by The Divine Equation, “What is the purpose of life?” You must answer this first question to proceed to the next one, “What is the purpose of your life within that purpose?” and the next one, “What does reality look like?”, then “How does it all fit together?” and “How to love fiercely?” and finally “You know you are going to die. Now What?”

Every person Baptized into the death of Christ must follow those footsteps and also die to self to open up a vision of the New Jerusalem, the kingdom of heaven, and to begin to prepare to live as an adopted son or daughter of the Father now, and after death, claim your inheritance created just for you from the before there was time itself.

As a Lay Cistercian, I have promised to seek God daily through Cistercian practices and charisms. Each day, I begin my quest to die to self anew, but with a big difference. I am now more (capacitas dei) than I was the day before because I have preferred nothing to the love of Christ (Chapter 4, Rule of St. Benedict).

I noticed that my attempts to love God with my whole heart, mind, and strength are influenced by the effects of Original Sin. At best, I can only struggle with that sticky word, “whole.” On a good day, I wobble down my seventy or eighty years at 90% towards reaching my goal, but something is just not there. I can’t get past that 10% to be “whole.” After trying as a Lay Cistercian with all the obstructions in my way, I still seek the truth but live a life that I fear will never reach 100%. My lessons learned from this ongoing process of conversio morae (moving from the false self to my true self in Christ Jesus) are that:

  • I will continue to struggle in this world (citizen of the world because I was born human) with my new life in the kingdom of heaven (citizen of heaven because of Baptism).
  • I am used to winning the races I create for myself (no surprise there).
  • I can’t win the race of being fully human without help, help from outside of my nature.
  • When I was marked with the sign of the cross at Baptism, no one told me that this sign traced on my forehead by the priest was actually to foretell that I had to take up my real cross daily, as did Christ.
  • There is a cost for redemption paid by Christ in his passion, death, and resurrection.
  • There is a cost for me believing that the cross traced on my forehead in an indelible mark is my destiny in this life until I reach the next life with Christ.
  • This cost is enduring the martyrdom of the ordinary as I must constantly choose Christ and keep my center in equilibrium from the forces of corruption and false choices each day.
  • Seeking God each day in whatever comes my way, sanctifying the moment, and moving on, is my lot in life. It is not a bad lot because I keep reminding myself that I must die to myself each day where I am and as I am in order to keep resonance between the World and the Spirit at my core center.


Within the parameters of The Christ Principle, there are many examples Christ teaches his followers about the need to abandon themselves to find themselves. Here are a few that came to me in my Lectio Divina meditations.

The example of kenosis (emptying). These examples are to help his disciples (Apostles down to you, the individual) begin to feel what abandonment is and why what makes no sense at all to the World is actually the true way to the life He wants us to lead. Philippians 2:5-12 sets forth the whole dynamic of God-loving humans (each one of us) so much that he would leave the security of the Godhead to take on the nature of a slave. Not just a servant, but one under sentence of death through the archetypal choice of Adam and Eve. Reflecting intensely on this kenosis or abandonment of being God in favor of being a slave is all the more important as I apply this concept to my own life. Going deep into contemplative depths of the heart with the Holy Spirit, I try to feel what that is like to leave all for an imperfect, prone to betrayal, capable of heroic nobility, and sinful human like myself. I don’t get it, but that is why I believe in God. I want to have that kind of abandonment in me, not just one time, but as a habit to keep me balanced and focused on The Christ Principle.

The dynamic in our martyrdom of ordinary living is that we like quick fixes and instant results. With all due respect to B.F. Skinner, human nature has never adjusted to the switch from animality (rules of nature are the norm) to rationality (there are no norms except what you choose). That is why good people do bad things. I have that itch within me right now. It is how I choose to master it that makes The Christ Principle so important to reaching the fulfillment of my nature. The Christ Principle not only shows me the way to make sense out of all the chaos of false choices but gives me the energy to move to the next level of evolution, acceptance of our adoption as sons and daughters of the Father. It is not as though we had no precedence over what is good or evil. The whole of the history of Israel is a testament to going it alone without God and paying huge costs (loss of the ten tribes of Israel). The Church from the time of Christ to the present is the New Israel in that we make the same mistakes through twenty centuries of trying and ruining how we govern. Nothing has changed. The Mosaic Law and the Gospel Law of loving others as Christ loved us is holy, but every human (except Jesus and his Mother) who practices it is sinful and in constant need of conversion of the false self to new life. The confusion is over what the truth is. We get the truth from our parents primarily, then from society, our particular conscience, from the influence of Churches, and from our unique emotional make-up. Our Father in heaven also wants us to have a pathway to fulfilling our human destiny. The problem is that the spiritual universe demands that one dies to oneself to become a member. Christ abandoned himself to the will of his Father to show us how to do that in our own life. Abandonment of false self is needed to open up the heart to receive the energy from God (love).


Here is an article I offer in its entirety from Joseph House.



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