My Catholic Faith is not a philosophy where I have a set of goals I meet or not. It is not a way of life that is easy. Taking up the cross daily means being more human than I ever thought possible. I keep asking myself why things are so difficult? Part of my Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5) concerns this line of inquiry. I offer you some random thoughts so that you can decide what they mean (it is like interpreting dreams).
My Catholic Faith is neither easy to sustain nor performed without a daily commitment to seek God as I find God and as I am. I am not the person I was forty years ago, physically, mentally, or spiritually. Because I exist within the context of intelligent design (God’s DNA), I am inexorably pulled forward without my consent. I cannot stop time. I can choose what I think is best for me and hope I am correct. My past gives me the perspective to know when I have made an existential mistake or taken the wrong path, leading me to diminish my humanity. Most of the time, I don’t know what I don’t know. My ego corners me into one dimension of my personality so that I get angry when someone says to me, you are off-center.
In my reflection on spirituality as a Lay Cistercian, I obsess over two passions in my old age (81.10).
THE CAPACITAS DEI OF MY CRIB HAS CONTINUED TO GROW IN AWARENESS OF ALL REALITY (Physical, Mental, and Spiritual). “Capacitas Dei,” or growing every deeper with Christ as my center (Philippians 2:5). I use the analogy of a crib when I think about growing in awareness. As an infant, my parents used a crib to keep me confined. Since God accepted me as an adopted son (daughter) on September 29, 1940, I have been in a physical crib, a mental one, and a spiritual one. Each of these three universes may grow at a different rate, depending on how I interact with the world over the years and assimilate what it means to be human into my unique time on earth.
Your time and development are not mine, so my view of reality is not yours because of our choices and, most notably, the consequences of those choices as they shape who we are. It depends on what we place as our center that provides the key to telling us what is valuable and why. Animals don’t worry about their centers. Humans do, and there is something unique about centers that each person has. They revolve each hour, each day, constantly being challenged by what is called original sin (the corruption of the time, the corruption of matter, the corruption of human nature that exists within time, the corruption of you as you try to make sense out of the life you lead. The crib is limiting, so your reason says, “Is that all there is?” and the answer you get is you can move outside of your crib, now into the room. This is now your new world, but you keep all those experiences of the crib at your core, even if they are subconscious. This process repeats itself. You become bored with just being confined to a room, and you look out of the windows to see that there is something more than crawling around the room. You begin to stand up and wobble around the room, exploring everything about it: the smells, the touch, the distances, furniture on which you learn to sit. But, consistent with your humanity, your mind tells you that this is not enough, and you want more. Words become essential to you as ways to get what you want (you do not have the intellectual capacity nor the anatomical ability to activate what you need), but you seek more. Something within, something autonomous that compels you to move towards your intellectual progression. The process repeats itself through growing from a room into the whole interior of your house, then your yard, your neighborhood, your school in grade school, and high school, to face what it is you want as an occupation in your life. You discover your animal instincts of anger, power, sexual feelings, and the opposite sex and must learn how to control them. Some learn this. Others don’t.
You place one of these needs as your center and strive to keep it from disappearing in favor of another need. Humans tend to put those pleasurable and exciting needs of their physical and mental self up front. The problem with our spiritual self (universe) is that with The Christ Principle, reality had a polar reversal. North became South for reality, and a new way of approaching one reality happened without notice (although I think that was the event in the Scriptures when Christ died and the veil in the temple was torn in two). There is a new reality now: not two universes (physical and mental) but three (physical, mental and spiritual) universes. New wine must be put into new wineskins and not the old. The new configuration is the physical universe is, as it always is, our base for all things physical. The mental universe is as it always was (remember, there is no Science as we know it today), and it moves forward at the pace of enlightenment of humanity. But, there is not a new player that fulfills the Divine Equation that is the key to the purpose of all that is. This new universe is the opposite of the physical and mental universes called The World by St. Paul. (Galatians 5).
This new universe fulfills the physical and mental universes because it is the destiny of those two of three parts of reality. This third universe comes from outside human nature and beyond our capacity to comprehend it. Jesus came to tell us and show us that the sign of contradiction is actually the key against which all reality must be measured. And what is that measurement? (Philippians 2:5-12) It is a person, both divine and human nature, who abandoned divinity to take on the nature of a slave. This is the pattern of contradiction we must follow as we exercise our reason and free will. That free will must be given away to become energized. That free will must die to the physical and mental universes to be fruitful and process the energy that comes from the Holy Spirit. Because we live in the context of recidivism and fall back to our default as humans, we must work daily to retain the energy to keep ourselves centered on The Christ Principle. Christ knows that and says, “I know you are poor, have mental and social problems, and some of you have cancer and other diseases, such as war, beyond your control. I won’t take away your condition but assure you that my grace is sufficient until you are with me and all tears will be wiped away.” The Church Universal is the guarantor of this pledge. There is each age, as each of us is born and moves from the cradle to the grave. We have direction, a purpose, and the energy (from the Holy Spirit) to keep ourselves centered daily. It is work (what is a cross if it is made out of balsa wood?
I like the image of rowing against the current in life because that is how I feel as a human being resisting those who want me to turn around and go with the flow. I make a choice daily, as a Lay Cistercian, to seek God wherever I am aware of God.
Just because your spiritual road is rocky doesn’t mean you are on the wrong road. If being a Catholic is just fulfilling the law of Sunday observance (and that is not to be discounted), you are a baby Catholic, perhaps to live in your crib forever. I had to ask myself, and hopefully, you will consider, “Am I still back in the crib of my spiritual universe? Where am I?”
You may have felt that this is not enough or that the Church does not offer enough to keep you motivated. You may not know what you do not even know. The Christ Principle has no depth, height, or width. What if you die and stand before the Throne of the Lamb to give an accounting and say, “No one told me what to do. The Church is at fault because I had no idea you could grow deeper and growing deeper means inconvenient, abandonment, sacrificing time to be in the presence of pure energy. Change your way of life (conversio morae) and reconnect with what your humanity should be as intended.” uiodg