10 THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT HOW TO MOVE FROM SELF TO GOD
My preoccupation for some time has been to move from my false self to my true self. This transition is a transformation (conversio morae) from being human in two universes (physical and mental) to that being fully human in three universes (physical, mental, and spiritual). As I am beckoned by the Holy Spirit to abandon what I have learned about life, from being in the world to “having in me the mind of Christ Jesus,” I have gained more than I can even write down, as much as I try. All this is without going to a theological class or studying for a degree, although I have the degrees and a lifetime of trying and failing to love others as Christ loves me. The new awareness is to just let go and sit in the presence of the Holy Spirit as Jesus sat in the temple with the elders, teaching them. It is a recognition that to move from false self to true self is with the help and mentorship of the Magister Noster (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).
Here are some new ideas that have popped up in this old and failing mind in my recent Lectio Divina meditations.
- TRUST IN THE LORD — I must decrease, Christ must increase. I don’t get that automatically, but I must work to achieve it. Awareness is the conscious lifting up my mind and heart to God, becoming a habit.
- PRAY IN PRIVATE — These days, I see myself going into that upper room in my heart, closing the door, then sitting down in my rocking chair to be with the Holy Spirit and learn the idea of the day. I don’t own the agenda, which is part of the abandonment of my false self. (Matthew 6:5)
- RECOGNIZE THAT GOD IS GOD AND I AM ME– The first step in St. Benedict’s ladder of humility is “fear of the Lord.” I don’t sense that this is being afraid of God as much as realizing that, when I am in the presence of Christ, I must keep my head bowed and my eyes lowered because I am in the presence of pure love (100% of God’s nature, which is beyond knowing with human reasoning).
- REALIZE THAT MY CHOICES HAVE CONSEQUENCES — Evil and Good do not live outside or inside me. They are the results of what I choose when I think and act. I can make choices that are good for my adoption as a son of the Father or bad. Like any good Father, God helps and guides me by allowing me to make my own choices but points out the way, what is accurate, and the life I must lead while I am alive until I die and receive my reward for trying to be what Christ taught me. I don’t get to heaven automatically, like being on a conveyor belt with no responsibility or consequences for my actions. The Sacrament of Reconciliation and my habit of being a penitential Lay Cistercian keep me primed to keep all things new through, with, and in Christ Jesus.
- THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS WITHIN YOU –Recognize that contemplative prayer is going to that place inside me, the place the late Stephen Hawking could not look (not because he was not brilliant, but because he never thought there was anything there to discover). Contemplation is the abandonment of false self so that the newness of life through the Holy Spirit can overshadow me. How can you do that? By sitting on a park bench in the middle of winter and waiting for your humanity to settle down so you can listen with the “ear of the heart.” (St. Benedict)
- LONG FOR SIMPLICITY — The Christ Principle is the totality of all that is meaningful for humans to become what their nature intended. It is the size of a mustard seed yet contains all that I need to sustain me as an adopted son (daughter) of the Father. All I have to do is plant, water, keep the weeds away, and talk to it. In the way that I adapt this to my actual living in the world, I have been sitting in my chair (I don’t count how long) and thinking about Philippians 2:5, my center, then just see myself in that upper room in my rocking chair waiting for Jesus to talk to me. I don’t control the agenda. I do speak first out of respect that this is God. I think, “Speak whatever I need to hear.” Simplicity is the result of complete abandonment of the will of God, which retains my responsibility to be fully human in the present as God intended in the Garden of Eden before the Fall.
- BE A CONSTANT SONG OF THANKSGIVING — I am always grateful for the gift of adoption from the Father and the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit in sustaining me against the lion’s roar. There are no words to describe the depths (and getting more profound each day) of my love for Christ, even with all my health problems and lack of support for being a Lay Cistercian. My grace is sufficient is the answer I get back. Christ tells me, “Just because your road is rocky doesn’t mean you are on the wrong road. My road to Calvary had lots of pebbles and rocks that hurt my feet.” My response to this is a song of thanksgiving (Eucharist and Eucharistic Adoration) to express my gratitude as much as my human nature will allow (with, in, and through the humanity of Christ). How great Thou Art.
- I AM A LEAF ON THE BRANCHES OF THE TREE OF CHRIST WITH THE FATHER AND HOLY SPIRIT AS THE ROOTS– I refer to the Church or Gathering of Believers. This is the dynamic presence of the humanity of those in heaven, those still struggling with carrying their daily cross on earth, and those given a second chance by the Father to love others as Christ loved us. Given the sinfulness of every member of the Church (except Christ and Mary), it is a paradox how God, who knew everything, still entrusted the administration of the flock to humans that led us off the beaten path. Only the fidelity of the Holy Spirit to us as adopted sons and daughters kept the Church from falling into the depths of failure and dissolving. We are all wounded and need mercy and forgiveness each day of our lives.
- THE PEACE OF CHRIST IS NOT THE ABSENCE OF CONFLICT IN OUR HEARTS, BUT THE PRESENCE OF HIS DIVINE LOVE (as much as we are capable of receiving–capacitas dei). If I want love in my life, I must choose to put it there; if I want to sustain my faith, I must constantly believe that Christ is the Messiah. (John 20:30-31) My Lay Cistercian community helps me to do that.
- THIS SIDE OF PARADISE, I AM A PILGRIM IN A FOREIGN LAND (the world) AND MUST STRUGGLE EACH DAY TO SURVIVE. I realize that each day is sufficient unto itself and that I must seek God anew the day the Lord has made. I am more and more aware that, although each day is a martyrdom of the ordinary (sameness), I am slightly more of Christ today than yesterday if I just “Do what he tells me.” Profound listening is not an easy habit to obtain or maintain, but it is one that I strive to do each day as I move from my false self to my true self. uiodg