FALSE QUESTIONS: Beware of these five bear traps in seeking God each day as a Lay Cistercian.

I. BEWARE OF THINKING YOU ARE SOMEHOW BETTER AS A LAY CISTERCIAN THAN OTHER LAY OBLATES OF OTHER TYPES OF APPROACHES TO CONTEMPLATION (Dominican, Franciscan, Benedictine, Basilian, or Jesuit approaches to spirituality for the Laity). This trap is one that the Devil can use to deceive the faithful and those, especially with blind faith. The euphoria over being accepted by the Abbot as a Lay Cistercian novice, junior or professed can unleash a flood of adrenalin to justify that you are better than others (My God can beat Your God).

II. BEWARE OF BEING A LAY CISTERCIAN WITHOUT TAKING UP YOUR CROSS EACH DAY AND SEEKING GOD. In this approach to spiritual reality, your cross is made of balsam wood, and your belief is in eating cotton candy instead of the cross. It tastes fabulous but has no nutrition.

III. BEWARE OF THINKING THAT BEING A LAY CISTERCIAN MEANS PRAYING LECTIO DIVINA SEVERAL TIMES A DAY. LITURGY OF THE HOURS, ATTENDING EUCHARIST EACH DAY, AND READING SACRED SCRIPTURES. This temptation can cause us to think that being what God wants of us is multiplying prayers. The more you pray, the more you are an excellent Lay Cistercian. Being a Lay Cistercian or a Cistercian monk or nun means daily abandoning self and moving from that false self to fill your heart with the grace of the Holy Spirit. The key here is a balance between where you are as a citizen of the World and an adopted son (daughter) of the Father.

IV. BEWARE OF SINGLE-ISSUE SPIRITUALITY. Balance is essential to keep from going off the deep end into single-source spirituality or social issues. An example is someone who is fixated just on abortion issues without placing it in the context of silence, solitude, work, prayer, and community. Being in a Lay Cistercian community allows us to keep our perspective on the prize, “Having in each of us the mind of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5).

V. BEWARE OF THINKING THAT BEING BORN AGAIN IS A ONE-TIME EXPERIENCE, AND YOU GET A FREE PASS TO HEAVEN. Baptism not only means that original sin is taken away and that you begin fresh again, but it also means God grants you adoption as son or daughter. That carries with it the daily struggle of keeping Christ as your center. Each day, we are born again to strive to move from our false self of sin and imperfection to that of placing ourselves in the presence of Christ and just waiting.

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