I must warn you that what I am writing, I do so with the promptings from the Holy Spirit, which are not traditional to my Catholic Faith on the first review but which I consider illuminating, at least. This is just a blog, the mutterings of an old, broken-down Lay Cistercian temple of the Holy Spirit at the end of his life wobbling down the path of righteousness. You be the judge of its orthodoxy.
As I look at the profundity of my life, the only perspective I know, I realize that my Lay Cistercian experiences have laid many bare ideas and cherished beliefs that I hold now and in the past. More and more, my awareness of The Christ Principle is caught up in the conundrum of complexities, such as the duality between my human nature existing in the physical universe and, superimposed over that, my spiritual heritage as an adopted son (daughter) of the Father. I see that played out before me in the history of the Catholic Church, which I describe later on, but also in the dual that exists in prayer (contemplative prayer of the individual and the public prayer of Liturgy of the Hours, Eucharist, Reconciliation, Rosary, and Litanies.) When I use the term “dualities,” I mean two interacting influences in the human experience and in no way conflicting, and in most ways, complementary parts of the one whole.
The implications of duality are that the concept of the Church or that adoption can have two levels, or whatever you want to call it. One is not the other, but they both exist in synchronicity. One is the easy way, and one is the hard way. Apply the sign of contradiction to these two ways, and I get the subject of my latest Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5), and you get a statement like this. How is it that I can use Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5) to place myself in the presence of Christ and just wait for me to show up to sit next to the Christ Principle and be? Then, because of the power of the Holy Spirit, bring forth such complexities and depth of thinking (far beyond my usual thought patterns of just looking at Korean cooking shows on the YouTube channel and marveling at their culinary skills).
In this first example, I look at how I can simultaneously be simple and complex in prayer. Next, I will share my Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5) results about Church, then a quick look at my feminine and masculine duality.
THE FIRST DUALITY: THE “CAPACITAS DEI” IN PRAYER AND HOW IT IS BOTH SIMPLE YET COMPLEX.
THE EASY WAY –The easy way is direct contact with the Christ Principle (as much as I can assimilate the faith I have assimulated and sustained by faith alone). It is only the way that is the most difficult to achieve and requires constant conversio morae (conversion). For me, this is sitting before the Blessed Sacrament and gradually and purposefully getting rid of (abandonment) the world’s allure in favor of just waiting with Christ in the silence and solitude of unconditional Love. That does not happen often, but it is the goal of all my Lectio Divina prayers. “Have in you the mind of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5). The easy way is my path less traveled but most desired. It is the easiest in terms of simplicity and cutting through all the mental constructs I put up to meet God on my terms, but it is the most difficult to achieve. Heaven is the permanent habit of contemplation in this sense.
This approach bypasses the typical theological banter and struggles to discover what is spiritually true in favor of simplicity in contemplation using silence, solitude, work, and prayer, in the context of community (Cistercian charisms). A type of person comes to mind, one that is contemplative and wants to slow down, loving Christ with all their heart, their minds, and their strength (Deuteronomy 6:5). The mind feeds on complexity and always looks for more tendrils of meaning that leads to more meaning, like the mustard seed that grows into a big bush. This way seeks simplicity and focuses just on being in the presence of Christ, knowing that all knowledge is there but choosing that second to love Christ while waiting. All of this is reduced to one act of gratitude and humility at being chosen as an adopted son (daughter) of the Father, unworthy but grateful.
The example that comes to mind for me is Mrs. Murphy, a fictional character invented by the late Father Aidan Kavanaugh, O.S.B. He stated in one of his classes that I attended that Mrs. Murphy was a little, old lady who sat in the back of the Church in contemplation and prayer. He said she is not schooled in Theology, Philosophy, Psychology, and any other discipline of the mind. She just sits there in the presence of Christ in silence and solitude and waits. Father Aidan said this humble person knows more about what it means to be a disciple of the Master than all the Theologians from all religions who lived. In my Lectio Divina experiences, I don’t need all the various levels of trying to grow deeper in Christ Jesus. The difference is: that I try for silence and simplicity of mind and heart and just wait, not pushing any agenda on the Holy Spirit. When I abandon my human inclinations and will to the Father, I automatically step into the realm of contemplation, just being in the presence of Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.
My best example of this is my adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. I am just sitting there, waiting for my mind to demythologize all the extraneous cares that bombard me so I can focus on seeking the kingdom of heaven first.
THE HARD WAY –Because I am of human nature, I have reason and the ability to choose whatever I want as my center, my God, my values, and what it means to be human. This is the hard way. I am this type of Catholic when I try to prove anything using the Scriptures. That is not why the Scriptures were written down by many people, using many points of view about The Christ Principle. It is amazing what came out of that experience.
The hard way is being open to what the Spirit says but with the downside of getting overkill if there is too much information. There is always too much information (capacitas dei) growing deeper in The Christ Principle.
With this approach, the hardest to assimilate because all of these experiences need to be organized, there is a tendency for The Christ Principle to get lost in the myriad of offshoots of the original question. This way, the more you know, the more ramifications about The Christ Principle come to mind, and the more hoops you must jump through. This is good but definitely the hard way to contemplate because, to reach simplicity, these mental constructs must be placed in order. Just like doing a Soduku puzzle, humans have a compulsion streak that seeks to solve what cannot be solved. This is the problem with God for many people because God is not a puzzle to be solved as much as a feeling that comes from being exposed to the Sacred, experienced, and enjoyed.
I perform both the easy way (when I do Lectio Divina, Liturgy of the Hours, or Eucharist, and just let myself go in the presence of Christ to become a cup filled with whatever enters it, or the hard way when I grow in capacitas dei with my predetermined levels of practice (lectio, meditatio, oratio, contemplatio, actio). Both are part of the one core center, “Have in you the mind of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5)
THE SECOND DUALITY: THE MYSTERY OF HOW THE CHURCH IS A DYNAMIC REPOSITORY OF THE FAITH FOR HISTORY YET MEANINGFUL FOR EACH PERSON MARKED WITH THE SIGN OF BAPTISM (THE CROSS).
One of the hottest topics of my Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5) these days is the process of going deeper into my meditations. For example, take the word “Church.” It could mean a building, a denomination, or a way of believing. My thoughts go for this diagram containing four parts of the meaning of “Church.” Let me elaborate my thinking by giving you the history of the Catholic Church (as I alone see it). It illustrates the tension in a church, continuously challenging the world of the now for its role and purpose. As with any church, the history of the Catholic Church depends on your understanding of the conundrum of “How can anything Holy from Christ be so messed up with fallible, mistake-prone, sinful, worldly humans?” I offer no definitive answer other than what I have gleaned over nearly eighty-two years of looking at how all this could make sense. I am just a broken-down, old Lay Cistercian temple of the Holy Spirit with many weeds and cracks. You judge what is, just as I try to make sense of what is a conundrum to the world but makes perfect sense when you insert The Christ Principle into the lock of The Divine Equation.
The Catholic Church is the fulfillment of what the Jewish covenant should have been (instead of expanding as a light of truth to the Gentiles, it withdrew into itself). If Christ is the vine and we are the branches, then the Jewish experience with one God are the roots.) Two types of Church movements evolved: one is monarchical (began with Constantine and the Edict of Milan) when the Church was seduced and assumed into the state. Before that, it was the Church of Martyrs (the first forty Popes were martyred), and the first pope denied Christ three times. Peter was said to have had furrows carved out of his cheeks by his constant tears. From the beginning, the second type of Church was the rise of those (men and women) who followed the contemplative path made famous by the Essenes and John the Baptism.
These two strains moved forward in time using the Christ Principle. Both are correct and flawed yet obsessed with making the Christ Principle real in the moment. The Church of Martyrs, from Pentecost to the Edict of Milan in the West 313 A.D., was plagued by the casuistry and relativism of individuals who claimed to have been the way, have the truth, and invited people to join them. The heresies of the individual (Gnosticism and all the other “isms” and “ologies” touted believing in this or that variation on The Christ Principle.) The authority of the true teachings of Jesus was at constant risk of being tainted by false teachers. All this Church of the Martyrs had was the Torah and prescriptions of the Law, the Jewish practices, and the Temple of Jerusalem. They circulated manuscripts of what disciples had written down or remembered about Jesus (John 20:30–31). This transition from the Law of God to something much broader (they had no clue what that was) is evident in the writing of the Pauline School in Acts of the Apostles. Until the Holy Spirit, these twelve entrances of the New Jerusalem were hiding in the upper room for fear of being discovered by Jewish authorities. Then, something happened, something wonderful. For the second time (the Incarnation’s first time), God intervened and overshadowed them just like the Holy Spirit did with Mary. Somehow, they were made new, raised to a new level, still sinful and prone to making everyday mistakes, but now they had infused knowledge about what their Baptism meant and how Jesus was Lord, Savior, and Son of God. That group changed the world, not because they were human, but because, raised to a new life, they realized the evolution of humans as nature intended. Genesis was fulfilled in each of them and so in each of us. That is what they tried to spread and safeguard truth from being watered down.
THE FOUR QUADRANTS OF MY FAITH
To help my human tendencies always to have my thoughts racked in some order, four different processes of my Lay Cistercian experiences come to mind. I can best describe them with this diagram.
Any notion of a collection of those who gather in the name of the Lord has the burden of looking a lot like the person who asked the question, “What is the Catholic Church?” Each person answers that with the sum of their own life experiences, both good and bad. I speak only for myself.
To review: this is my hypothesis that there is but one reality containing three distinct and overlapping universes, each one with different characteristics and different measurements. This concept comes from The Divine Equation, the six postulates that I must successfully ask and answer correctly to fulfill what my nature as a human fully intended me to be (life before the fall of Adam and Eve). The Divine Equation is the six assumptions each human must correctly identify to become fully human as nature intended.
The Divine Equation is “divine” because both questions and the correct answers come from God through The Christ Principle. It is not the equation to prove God’s existence. Solving it individually allows me to break the code that prevents those who just hold reality in the physical and mental universes instead of the physical, mental, and spiritual universes also called intelligent progression.
This concept is not a “good or bad church” diatribe. It points out the humanity involved in this group of believers gathered together to try as best they can to “have in them the mind of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5)
These two influences exist simultaneously as humanity proceeds down the path to discover the purpose of life and my purpose in that purpose (all six postulates of the Divine Equation).
When I answer these six questions correctly, I can use the key to open up the purpose of life now and in the life to come.
The correct answer to the first postulate of The Divine Equation, “What is the Purpose of life?” is: Deuteronomy 6:5 and its fulfillment in Matthew 22:38. Put another way, “The purpose of life is to know, love, and serve God in this life so that I can be happy with God in the next.”
This gets a little tricky in my notion of church. Bear with me. This is my hard way of looking at the depths and heights of what I see around me when I behold the Catholic Church. I go into this seemingly complex view of the simple mystery of the Church in another blog.
All levels are one, inseparable through time and each age.
I wind up with my Church in the eighty years I have on earth to discover what it means to be fully human, which, in turn, means I am an adopted son of the Father.
RIGHT BRAIN/LEFT BRAIN
If I look at my own reflections of what it means to be Catholic, I see similarities with the concept of right brain and left brain traits. I use this concept even if it is a way for me to see how my behaviors in the spiritual universe can be split into two hemispheres of behaviors.
THE MONACHICAL INFLUENCE The monarchical Church, influenced by Roman law and order, and the Twelve Apostles, the painful process of applying the Gospel imperatives to a non-Jewish world to evangelize and organize the authority of Christ, truth, and organizational skills (bishops, presbyters, and deacons). This monarchical Church (after the fourth century) was prone to make bad choices over the years, yet all the while having authority to enter each age to protect the message of Christ from false teachers and prophets. The Church is holy, while all members are sinful and prone to evil without our constant call upon the Lord to be saved daily. Here are four ideas about the monarchical church that are still embedded in what we know as The Catholic Church through the centuries.
Reading the Acts of the Apostles gives us a flavor of the transition from Jewish Law (613 prescriptions of the Law) and how the Law and the Prophets would expand into the Roman and Greek worlds of the time. The Jewish approach was to conserve and preserve the Law and the teachings contained in the Torah and the Prophets, keeping intact the Twelve Tribes (actually, there were ten lost tribes, so Judah, Benjamine (St Paul was of this tribe), and Levi. When the Twelve Apostles received the gift of the Holy Spirit, the world into which each of them exited was Jewish. The Torah and Law of Moses respected the temple, the sacred center, the priests who offered sacrifice with animals, and the writings of Rabbis on the meaning of the covenant and how God would not leave his people abandoned.
Jesus is the Messiah, Jeshua Meshiak, Son of God and Savior. John 20:30-31sums up the purpose of Scriptures as readings and a history of fulfilling the Law and the Prophets.
30Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of [his] disciples that are not written in this book.s
31 But these are written that you may [come to] believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.thttps://bible.usccb.org/bible/john/20
ONE WAY TO LOOK AT MY VIEW OF THE CHRIST PRINCIPLE
|Left Brain||Right Brain|
|AUTHORITY AND JUSTIFICATION||SERVICE AND FULFILLMENT|
|INFORMATION AND KNOWLEDGE||LOVE AND CONTEMPLATIVE PRACTICE|
|THE MONARCHICAL INFLUENCE||THE MONASTIC INFLUENCE|
THE MONASTIC INFLUENCE– The monastic dimension, from the beginning, did not seek to go out to the whole world and tell the good news, although that was still an unintended outcome. There was only the Torah and teachings of the Prophets, the traditions of Jewish teachers. This way of life turned inward in contemplation to ask the questions: “What is the purpose of life? What is my purpose within that purpose? What does reality look like? How does it all fit together? How do I love fiercely? I know I am going to die, now what?” They sought the answers in the silence and solitude of their hearts, some becoming monks in the desert like St. Anthony., St. Benedict, the Cistercian and Carthusian movements of St. Bernard of Clairvaux and St. Bruno, respectively. As the Church wobbled down the path of time, it was never an easy walk but one characterized by Christ’s walk to his crucifixion. Denial of self, connecting to the ways of the world (in each age), and focusing on Christ as the way, the truth, and the light daily was core.
From early on (you can argue how early), this movement or second stain of the Catholic Universal Church approached each individual at each age with the same question. “What does it mean for you to have in you the mind of Christ Jesus?” The monarchical Church (The Church of rules and order, and the mind is the right brain) is secondary to what happens in the heart between you and Jesus with that same Holy Spirit overshadowing you that happened to Mary in Luke Chapters 1–2. Both influences are correct, but with different emphasis. This is never an either/or dichotomy, but rather complementary processes influencing each other.
Because the Church on earth has been authorized to act on behalf of an unseen God, its focus is on keeping the message from Christ unsullied by humans. The problem was that people giving temporal direction to how the Church moved from Judaism to society contained all the uncertainties, struggles, human pride, and wrong choices that plague any human enterprise. We forget to think it is God’s Church, not ours, to play around with. Whatever you think about how the Church is run, and there is plenty of justification to show how human intervention went berzerk down through the ages, the Holy Spirit is there to bring the great ship of believers back on course.
The Monarchical Church (left brain) stressed being correct, law and order (from the Roman Law influence), and the stress of knowing Jesus. By itself, this Church is not complete nor fulfilled without the other. Look at the purpose of life once more, and you realize that what is missing is the Monastic Church’s influence, how to love our neighbor as ourselves, and how to live the sign of contradiction by serving others. Together, they live in an eternal embrace, separate but needing each other to address The Christ Principle in each age (monarchical) and in each individual (monastic).
I am writing a separate blog on this notion of six levels of my temple of the Holy Spirit.
III. THE THIRD DUALITY: MY CHURCH IS FEMININE AND MASCULINE.
Building on the duality of prayer and the mystery of Faith, there is one more dimension to this interaction between the two types of churches. Once again, I will introduce the table and more suitable information about the topic. This duality expands my notion of the Church to incorporate more of an archetype of Mary as Church and Christ as the head. Lectio Divina has led me deeper into the mystery of Faith, which some consider folly or a fairy tale. Still, I consider “the stone which the builders have rejected has become the cornerstone” of all reality.
HYPOTHESIS: Because the type of the Church has dual dimensions, another level of awareness is the relationship between the feminine and masculine Church (Adam and Eve being the prototype example of why you need both). For me to begin to reach an understanding of what it means to be fully human so that I can love God with all my heart, all my mind, and all my strength, and my neighbor as myself, several of these dualities have popped up in my thoughts during Lection Divina, one of which is masculine and feminine dimensions to each human being.
In the transition from animality to rationality, there must have been a divine DNA compels our intelligent progression forward. The Genesis Principle is one that sets out the importance of a male and female, and the two will become one. That could mean separate genders, but it could also imply that each person has dimensions and layers of complexity that allow us to choose what is good for us or, as Genesis points out, the consequences of choosing what we think is good but is actually damaging to our nature.
Don’t ask. This topic just popped into my compendium of Lay Cistercian practices for my consideration. I wrote what is below in a previous blog but I think it appropriate to copy it again.
Whenever we use words, the user (me) has assumptions that have taken a lifetime to associate with that word, and the receiver uses the same lifetime of assuming what the word means to them. When I say I have a masculine and a feminine side to my Lay Cistercian contemplative prayer life, I DO NOT mean gender differences that exist in the physical universe. I am a male by gender. I have a masculine and feminine side to the prayer life that I never knew existed. There is something to think about when I try to apply my prayers in the mental universe (that of purpose and my particular purpose in life). If I am to fulfill my quest to be fully human, one that The Christ Principle can be of help, then a masculine and feminine dimension to my prayer can help me be whole.
Remember when Genesis, the great archetypal story of what human nature should be like, and actually is? It says, “It is not good for a male to be alone.” God creates a female, and they are joined together as one. Applying the Christ Principle to this statement might have an obvious and more sophisticated meaning. First, humans need each other; males need females for procreation. Suppose this story is a classical myth and Adam represents all humanity while Eve represents all humanity. In that case, my thoughts run to thinking that males by themselves need that infusion of purpose from their feminine side to be wholly human. The two shall be one.
As a Lay Cistercian, I recently applied this to my prayer life, which is what the Holy Spirit showed me (remember, none of this stuff is normal for me).
My Lay Cistercian life has four separate boxes, with The Christ Principle being my center. It might look like this. The Christ Principle is my center.
|REALM OF THE MIND||REALM OF THE HEART|
|What my masculine side provides.||What my feminine side provides.|
AUTHORITY AND FAITH
The Christ Principle
My adoption by Christ
My acceptance of the Holy Spirit
Freely offer my will to the Father
Dying to Self
| SERVICE AND GOOD WORKS|
Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy
Chapter 4, Rule of St. Benedict
Tallahassee Lay Cistercian discernment group
|INFORMATION AND REASON Primacy of Holy Scriptures|
Writings of the Early Church
Writings of St. Benedict
Writings of Cistercian authors
YouTube of Bishop Barron and others
LOVE THROUGH CONTEMPLATION
Reconciliation and Penance
Liturgy of the Hours
“Do what he tells you.”