I use a template to create the exact product each time I make it. This could be a furniture template to turn out lamps that look exactly alike. I thought about the notion of a template when I thought of the Christ Principle, one concept into which all reality trends and flows from which all that is. I have now developed a template that incorporates the same look each time I try to seek God each day by applying this template to whatever it is.
HOW I DEVELOPED A TEMPLATE TO LOOK AT WHAT CAN NOT BE SEEN
What should this template look like, given that the object it examines is The Christ Principle? My thoughts led me to think of this template as something I alone could use to look at the reality familiar to my eighty-one years of this earth. It is a template that I use to make sense of what is essentially beyond knowing by human standards, yet a glimpse into the Sacred.
I chose the elements of this template from Question One that I asked and had answered by the Holy Spirit that goes, “What is the purpose of life?” After a few years of declassifying all the rubbish from the world around this topic, what emerged was a fragment I learned in the Eighth Grade in my Catechism Class at St. Francis Xavier School in Vincennes, Indiana. The date was around 1952 (or close to it). Father Henry Doll came in to give us lessons from the catechism. The topic was “What is the purpose of life?” I don’t know why but I perked up when he said that, and the answer has been central to how I view what it means to be fully human as nature intended. Father Doll read, “The purpose of life is to know, love, and serve God in this life, and be happy with God in the next.” That’s it. It comes from the Baltimore Catechism, Question Six. This has been my template from that time until right now as I write this blog. My Lectio Divina expanded on the template to reform (get it) to new skins so that I could put the new wine of Christ each day in the skins without spoilage. I offer you two different references to new and old wineskins in Mark 2 and Luke 5. Use these as meditative points for your Lectio Divina.
The Question About Fasting.*
18 The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were accustomed to fast.e People came to him and objected, “Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?”
19Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests fast* while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast.
22 Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the skins are ruined. Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins.”
The Question About Fasting.o
36* And he also told them a parable. “No one tears a piece from a new cloak to patch an old one. Otherwise, he will tear the new and the piece from it will not match the old cloak.
39[And] no one who has been drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’”*
When I used the template back in 1952, I was no where near where I am today in my knowledge of the Faith. I have had many wrong roads where I have had to back up and start anew. For many years, I kept my old skins while the new wine was Christ yesterday, today, and tomorrow but always fresh wine. Christ is always the new wine but I am just an old and broken-down wine bag. This template helps me to renew my wine bag each day through Lectio Divina and the Sacrament of Reconcilliation. It is also a habit that I wish to grow (capacitas dei) with daily awareness of Christ as I meet each day in whatever situations that come my way. My life is now completely dedicated to a prayer of praise to the Father, through, with, and in Christ Jesus, using the power of the Holy Spirit. Some days are better than others.
My regenerated template reflects four dimensions of how I look at reality. First, I use the Rule of Threes in looking at whatever my five senses pick up, and my reason interpolates into something in my brain that makes sense to me. I can then act on what I think is good for me and choose what will allow me to become fully human as my nature intended. There is one reality containing three distinct universes; each one exists with the other so that all you see is one reality. The physical universe is the base for all matter, especially on earth, for our unique combination of gases and temperature with water. The mental universe is where humanity alone wakes up and knows it. Knowledge is cumulative, and we learn down the ages what is good and what is wrong by trial and error. You eat sour pork in the desert, and you die.
Humans must learn to be human, to exist as individuals, and learn to live with each other without killing themselves.
Here comes the spoiler. Humans come from our animality and retain all those traits that make animals survive. The difference now is that we know that we know. We strive to move away from animal behavior to human behavior (we are still learning how to do that with varying degrees of success). It is not that humans are born evil but born with the choice of good or bad using what they have learned in their lifetimes.
My template is one where I apply what I consider the purpose of life to various generic situations, such as Church, Lay Cistercian spirituality, Love, etc…
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. When I say “Jesus is Lord,” this is what I mean. When I try to grow deeper each day (capacitas dei) in Christ’s love for me by loving others instead of judging them, this is what I mean. When someone says, “What does it mean to be a Roman Catholic” this is behind that statement. Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. I have stopped trying to prove anything to anyone about what is in my heart.
|REALM OF THE MIND||REALM OF THE HEART|
|What my masculine side provides.||What my feminine side provides.|
I. 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
| IV. SERVICE AND GOOD WORKS|
Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy
Chapter 4, Rule of St. Benedict
Tallahassee Lay Cistercian discernment group
|II. KNOWLEDGE AND FREE WILL|
The primacy of Holy Scriptures
Writings of the Early Church
Writings of St. Benedict
Writings of Cistercian authors
YouTube of Bishop Barron and others
III. LOVE THROUGH CONTEMPLATION
Reconciliation and Penance
Liturgy of the Hours
“Do what he tells you.”
My life, my way, my truth, and my life are informed by The Christ Principle.
Here is my reflection on what this means as I sit there on the bench and wait for my humanity to catch up to Christ’s humanity (divinity is impossible).
Characteristics of all four dimensions.
Prayer for the Readers.*
15from whom every family* in heaven and on earth is named,
16that he may grant you in accord with the riches of his glory to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self,l
17and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, rooted and grounded in love,m
18may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth,n
19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.o
20Now to him who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine, by the power at work within us,p
21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.https://bible.usccb.org/bible/ephesians/3
These passages are not to prove anything, but you allow yourself to come to believe that Jesus is Lord and Messiah and that by believing in his name, you might have eternal life. John 20:30-31
I. AUTHORITY AND FAITH
I received this block at Baptism when Christ accepted me, and I was entrusted to the care and protection of my parents until such time that I could choose Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior. I have found that this belief on my part does not happen one time but must be renewed each day. The authority of all of my Faith comes not from me or any Church. It comes from the kingdom, the power, and the glory of the Father as mediated to me by Christ Jesus using the power (energy) of the Holy Spirit. This is the square where The Christ Principle is tattooed on my soul in the form of a cross.
If I get cocky and try to substitute my will for that of the Father, I can lose my way or even my Faith. Prayer is just me going to that room in my heart (Matthew 6.5) and being one with Christ, who alone can approach the Father with the poor gift of my free will and sinful attempts to do God’s will amid original sin until I die.
My authority is from the Father, who graciously granted me adoption as a son (daughter). I can repeatedly reply, “My soul magnifies the glory of the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God, my savior.” Luke 1.
38Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
41When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit,s
42cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.t
43And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord* should come to me?
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;w
47my spirit rejoices in God my savior.x
48For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness;
behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.y
49The Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.z
50His mercy is from age to age
to those who fear him.a
51He has shown might with his arm,
dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.b
52He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones
but lifted up the lowly.c
53The hungry he has filled with good things;
the rich he has sent away empty.d
54He has helped Israel his servant,
remembering his mercy,e
55according to his promise to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”f
56 Mary remained with her for about three months and then returned to her home.
Looking at the table above, you will notice that this block is in our right brain. This has nothing to do with gender differences as much as the idea that each human has a male and female side. The two are one and inseparable. I hypothesize that men favor authority and knowledge while women favor service and love.
II. KNOWLEDGE AND FREE WILL
This is the quadrant of human knowledge and free will. We use our reason to reason what is reasonable about what we see around us. Science uses the first two quadrants, Authority and Knowledge, to prove that what they see is real. I use that language, too, but I don’t limit myself to just visible reality. My human reasoning has accumulated life experiences and fragments of knowledge so far so that I might move to the next quadrant in my intelligent progression, Love through Contemplative Practice. As you can tell, there is a progressive movement in these quadrants. St. Thomas Aquinas, my favorite Saint of Knowledge, says, “Knowledge comes before Love.” This is where it gets heavy. I use my Rule of Threes to look at knowledge from the point of view of three distinct universes with just one reality. For me, the only key, The Christ Principle, unlocks the Divine Equation to allow me to grow from my false self to my true self, fully human as nature intended. Knowledge in the physical universe is acting your nature. “No one goes to the Father except through me.” That includes all living things (humans, too) ruled by force more significant than themselves, the natural law. In the second universe, the mental one, only humans have entered this one, the realm of reason and the free choice to do what they think is good. Humans do this without repercussions (except if you break a societal norm) but not without consequences. In the fullness of intelligent progression (movement of humanity towards its destiny), God saw that humans did not get it and would not have the power by themselves to move to the next level of their growth, the spiritual universe. So, God sent His Only Begotten Son, Jesus, to tell us (Old Testament) and show us (New Testament) how to reach that last level of human evolution, the spiritual one. Everyone is invited to the banquet of the Lamb of God, but not all will see it or believe it. That is not without justification because what you must believe in is truly unbelievable with just the physical and mental universe. Here is something you are called upon to believe if you choose this way, this truth, and the life of opposites to what you see in the world.
I wrote a blog a few weeks back on what it means to be a Catholic (for me).
I added these to the website Quora to answer one of their questions. With some of these inane questions, no wonder many countries are going more and more atheistic. I don’t blame them, but I offer some ideas that help me with the insanity of false questions. It’s a living.
Who wants to be a member of that? I do.
III.LOVE THROUGH CONTEMPLATION
St. Thomas Aquinas is quoted as saying, “Knowledge precedes love.” I have read some of the reactions on YouTube to Christianity by atheists and agnostics. Usually, I don’t pay any attention to their arguments because they hold radically different assumptions about what is real or not. One such YouTube is by Alan Watts, entitled, “They Made It All Up.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imSKlARohbQ
I find it fascinating that what sounds like perfectly logical arguments from someone who only lives in the physical and mental universe and who looks back in time two thousand years to make assumptions that only he can legitimize are ones about which I agree. Here are the results of my thinking.
– The Didache (c. 100)
– Apostolic Constitutions (c. 400)
– The Legend of Barlaam and Josaphat
– The Passion of the Scillitan Martyrs (c. 180)
– A Treatise Against the Heretic Novatian (c. 255)
– A Treatise on Re-Baptism (c. 255)
– Remains of the Second and Third Centuries (various dates)
– Apostolic Canons (c. 400) — See Apostolic Constitutions, Book VIII, Chapter 47
– Acts of Sharbil (unknown date) [SYRIAC]
– The Martyrdom of Barsamya (unknown date) [SYRIAC]
– Extracts from Various Books Concerning Abgar the King and Addaeus the Apostle (unknown date) [SYRIAC]
– The Teaching of the Apostles (unknown date) [SYRIAC]
– The Teaching of Simon Cephas in the City of Rome (unknown date) [SYRIAC]
– Martyrdom of Habib the Deacon (unknown date) [SYRIAC]
– Martyrdom of the Holy Confessors Shamuna, Guria, and Habib (unknown date) [SYRIAC]
– A Letter of Mara, Son of Serapion (unknown date) [SYRIAC]
– Ambrose (unknown date) [SYRIAC]
– The False Decretals (c. 850)
All of these writings, even those Mr. Watts sees as “made up” are real documents written by real people all centered on what the Christ Principle means to them.
My point in all of this is that Christianity is about sitting next to Jesus on a park bench in the dead of winter, content to be in the presence of pure love and receive the power to become what our human nature fully intended, fully human but as an adopted son or daughter of the Father.
Contemplation refers to that hidden room in your heart (inner sanctum) where you bolt the door closed and are there with Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 6:5) This presence with the Sacred results from knowledge. This is love, not as humans define it, but as you are challenged to live it. (Matthew 25). Prayer is a way to put yourself in the presence of Jesus, sometimes with others but most intimately within your Temple of the Holy Spirit. What do you treasure in your Arc of the Covenant? Think about that. It is more beneficial to discover your true self than to read about how all these people wrote differently about Christ. False questions can only have false answers.
Discovering what it means to love is part of our purpose in life. What we learn about it gives each of our unique perspectives on what it means to be human.
IV. SERVICE AND GOOD WORKS
The quadrants of authority, knowledge, and love are incomplete with the last component–doing all this for and with others. St. Benedict provides a good list of practices (good works) needed to move from our false self to our true self. All it takes is for me to do it.
Lay Cistercian practices and charisms are how I focus on keeping my Christ Principle from corrupting due to the matter and mind around me. I must do this habit daily, and I need these good works to become more like Christ ad less like my old self.
And, by the way, I made up all these ideas with the help of the Holy Spirit, Mr. Watts, notwithstanding.
Using The Christ Principle, I must continuously upgrade and update my old skins to replace them with new skins. Christ is always new to each age and person, yet remains the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. I use the Christ Principle template to measure my four quadrants against what is the way, the truth, and the life.