As much as I am shocked by what comes out of my Lectio Divina sessions with the Holy Spirit, these seemingly unrelated ideas are beginning to make sense, which is scary since I don’t control any of them. I looked back at my life as primarily a failure and missed opportunities to love others as Christ loved me. I don’t consider myself one of those pessimistic purveyors of victimization who seeks to shame everyone into pity for me. My nature is created good. What I have created with my human rendition of my purpose within my eighty-one years is a failure. I say failure in the sense of missed opportunities and times when I was oblivious to The Christ Principle. It is my failure to learn from my failures because I did not even see them as failures. All of this is becoming more and more apparent to me as I get older and apply where I am as a Lay Cistercian with situations in life where I am embarrassed by how I act to others.
My daily growth in capacitas dei, more Christ, and less me, provides me with a template to measure where I am now with what I was growing up. The movement of my life is part of a more extensive progression towards an unseen force out there. I claim eighty-one years of it. I call it intelligent progression because it was created by the Word (John 1:1). My boat entered this cosmic river of intelligent progression on September 24, 1940, and I am still afloat. In particular, I offer several examples of how I apply my past experiences as measured against where I am not in my growth in The Christ Principle.
MR DENNY AND HIS SIMPLICITY OF CONTEMPLATION — It must have been around 1950 when a naive young man (me) was walking outside the Old Cathedral in Vincennes, Indiana, when I met a senior gentleman whom I only knew as Mr. Denny. He was walking down the steps just having existed the Church, and we chanced to exchange a few words. I asked Mr. Denny what he was doing in Church, thinking he might have been the janitor. Mr. Denny responded, “I just sit down in the Church and look at Christ in the Blessed Sacrament and he looks at me. I have been doing this for thirty-two years at least once a week.” I remember thinking, “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts.” This very chance encounter with Mr. Denny is part of who I am, mainly because, all these years later, I link it with my current notion of the purpose of life, “To love God with all my heart, with all my mind, and all my strength, and my neighbor as myself.” (Deuteronomy 6:5 and Matthew 22:36)
Who we are cannot be more than the sum of our choices (good ones and ones that were wrong the hard way). In an authentic sense, the totality of my past is what I draw upon, in addition to the present sanctification of each moment, in my Lectio Divina mediations to reach way back to one of those incidents (like Mr. Denny) and bring it forward to either convert it from a wrong choice (sometimes sin, most of the time just making a complete fool out of myself) to a choice that leads me from my false self to my good self now.
I am keenly aware of how I have the opportunity to sanctify each moment, each day, being able to do now what I either forgot to do in my past or ask forgiveness of someone in my past whom I wrong or ignored. I think about this snapshot of how I acted in the past and ask that person to forgive me for being so rude or whatever it might be. This is how I use intelligent progression to think back in my lifetime, bring up a situation where I was a complete jerk, and ask that person to forgive me. In this way, I make all things new, using the power of the Holy Spirit and the example of The Christ Principle to convert those tiny parts of me that still remain as part of my false self.
I have been encouraged as of late to look at all of my reparations for past sins and failures, plus asking daily for God’s mercy in the Seven Penitential Psalms. I have set them up so that you can read each of them and apply your own life to these words of hope from the Holy Spirit to your heart.
This psalm is me.
Praise be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever. The God who is, who was, and who is to come, at the end of the ages. –Cistercian doxology