I. The -s-s-s-serpent s-s-s-seduces the Innocents when you least expect it. You won’t even see it coming. Be on guard.
TIP: Be careful what you place at your center; this is your God. Be on guard, for Satan is like a “roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.” Christ’s temptations in the desert were attempts to seduce Him to make the Devil his center. He tries that with us each day.
II. Avoid making rock stars and movie stars (and politicians) your role models for getting to Heaven. As a Catholic, you have chosen the hard way on earth to discover what it means to be fully human. All religious teachings revolve around The Christ Principle (the wheel’s hub). If you are not one of the spokes, you will have a long walk in life.
Tip: It is not without purpose that you were signed with the cross at your Baptism. You won’t go to Heaven (on earth) or later on without work. Those with the indelible mark of the cross on their foreheads are in for a bumpy ride in the world. If your religion is easy or you are easily bored, you probably are at the train station watching the train leave rather than being on it.
III. As you move forward in your life and try to figure out what is good for you or what makes you less human, you will come across many people to try to tell you, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” “Taste and see how good the Lord is; happy are those who take refuge in Him.” Always seek to keep your wineskins new by seeking God daily. New wine needs to have new skins. You are the new skins when your heart is next to the heart of Christ in silence and solitude. It takes work to believe. Faith is the energy of God in each of us.
Tip: Jesus is our model. He took the difficult way (being crucified and put to death for his beliefs). This is your path also. You must put to death your dependence on the world and embrace the opposite because you are a son or daughter of the Father. Your destiny is Heaven, even as you continue to live on earth.
IV. Learn to recognize that the world you live in and from which you seek meaning is the opposite of the kingdom of Heaven. If all you think it means to be Catholic is to follow the rules and go to Church on Sunday, you don’t even know what you don’t know. There is only one rule: love others as Christ loved us. The reason for a Church (the collection of those who tried to do that with their whole mind, their whole heart, and all their strength plus love their neighbor as themselves) is to help you NOW, not to be seduced by the vain and empty promises of the secular world. Ironically, it is only when you die to yourself and bring Christ into your heart as you would your best friend that you can hope to be fully human as nature intended. That makes absolutely no sense. The folly of God is wiser than all the wisdom of all humans who ever lived.
TIP: Spirituality in the Catholic Church is not for the faint of heart. It is work and demands you do something daily so that the grass of your life won’t get too high and you lose control of yourself. Christ won’t cut this grass for you, but He will help you, like Simon of Cyrene helped him carry his cross. 24/7, Christ is there on the park bench waiting for you to sit down and be in His presence. You might ask, how is it that you know how to do this? How is it that you do not?
V. It is only with the heart that one sees rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.
TIP: As one chosen by God to be an adopted son or daughter of the Father (Faith), your destiny is not of this world. To get there, you have to live in a world of mental and moral corruption and walk in the minefields of human relativism and secularism (you are God). None of this makes sense unless you turn everything upside down and think the opposite of what the world says is meaningful. Scriptures are not an academic exercise to prove God’s existence as much as a “How to” book on where to step into the minefield of life and not get destroyed. Like an iceberg, what is most real about humanity and your life as a human is not just in what you can see but in what is true visibly AND invisibly. Don’t be hoodwinked by the Devil. You have all the help you need to get to Heaven (your destiny as fully human).
VI. Original Sin makes you oldie and moldy. As we paddle down the river of time, two things happen automatically. We get older, and we gradually deteriorate. This is consistent with the corruption of all matter. Included are your thoughts that will corrupt back to their default state unless you make all things new again and again. This is the corruption of matter, both physical and mental universes. You are going to die. When you are Baptized and carry the mark of the cross, you have been marked as an adopted son or daughter when the Angel of Death passes over you at death. You can’t buy that at any store, but you can use the helps Christ has to sustain you with his energy. Christ saves all humans from their natural evolution–death, to become an heir of the Kingdom of Heaven. Without you invoking the Christ Principle, it makes no sense to the world.
TIP: Life can sometimes make no sense at all. I have found that I must be in it for the long haul. If there is no key to overfit the six locks that prevent us from being fully human, I remain a hostage to my daily ups and downs (my emotions). The Holy Spirit gives us the right questions and answers to unlocking the treasure chest of what life is all about. There are six questions to ask and answer in order. Once you have answers to all the questions comes the big problem. How do you know if each of them is true or not? What is the template with the correct answers? Applied to these six questions, you know what is true, what the way is or not, and what life is authentic. The world, good as it may seem, will not give you the correct answers because it does not have the power to lift you up to the next level of your evolution, intelligent progression.
Here is the Divine Equation. It is called The Divine Equation because it is a way for you to discover who you are as a human living in this space and in this particular time. This does not prove God’s existence nor anything about The Church. The Divine part is due to God giving Christ the right questions and answers and the Holy Spirit helping you with the homework. Six padlocks need to be opened by you in the correct sequence.
Once you open these six locks, you can open the treasure chest. Contained in it is the key to making all things new, to allow all things, in reality, to fit together. You must insert it in the lock of your heart to open yourself to the presence of Christ waiting within. This is the Christ Principle that makes life worth living because you know and believe where you are headed fulfills your humanity as nature intended.
VII. Don’t get caught loitering before the Mirror of Erisad. Look at this YouTube from a Harry Potter movie.
This YouTube from a Harry Potter movie is one of my favorites to show how there is a reality out there that is harsh and unforgiving, the one in which we must live, then there is another reality that is fiction, made up by our fantasy. This view is what we would like it to be. As one marked with the cross, your challenge is to know the difference and to choose what is right over what is easy. You must struggle against the lure of the world to do the easy thing, put pleasure as your center, let no one tell you what to believe or do, to relegate God to a fairy tale or the Easter Bunny. You must choose not to sit before the Mirror of Erided or end up being seduced by the allure to make love into a pleasure factory. Don’t get tricked by the Devil into thinking that pleasure is evil. It is not. What is evil is placing pleasure alone as your center, the purpose for why you exist. God’s cautions (Ten Commandments) show us that confident human choices harm our nature and destiny as adopted sons and daughters of the Father. Throughout your life, you still get to choose what makes you most human daily. Sometimes we get it right; sometimes, we miss the mark (sin).
TIP: That pull you feel in the pit of your stomach is the struggle between doing what you think is morally correct and what you actually do. Hollywood and YouTube are not a reasonable basis for your moral thinking (knowledge of what is good or evil). Satan uses the weak mind and heart to seduce you into thinking that the cross is irrelevant. It isn’t relevant if you follow the wrong crowd. My dad said: Tell me who your friends are, and I will tell you if you will make it through the gauntlet of false gods. Your life is not a game like Mastercraft. It is lit rally life and death. Wake up a d realize that you are in a cosmic battle for what it means to be human as your nature intended. If you live in a world in front of the Mirror of Erisad, you may lose your perspective and live in a fairy tale land.
VIII. What is the stench of sin? How can you smell sin? Think about it. Our senses tell us about our environment, so our minds pick up signals (languages) to communicate ideas to our bodies. Sin doesn’t smell, does it? Let’s use the Rule of Threes to find out.
The Rule of Threes is a mental construct I devised to help me separate one reality into three distinct dimensions or universes.
The first universe is the physical one, the one which is the basis of all life. This is the visible universe. This is the visible universe. Matter, time, energy, gases, and chemical elements all are at this level, as well as all living things, including humans.
The second universe exists simultaneously and on top of the physical one. In this universe, only humans live. We have something the physical universe does not have, the ability to reason or know what we know, plus choices that raise us higher than the rest of living things. This is the visible and invisible universe beg. What we can see is above the surface, but what is accurate but cannot be seen is much more significant and invisible.
The third universe is the product of the physical and mental universe, the reason we are here on earth for even a short time. It is the spiritual universe. This universe can only be entered by choice. Reason alone can’t see it because it is invisible. Our reason tells us that it is accurate. The characteristic of this universe is that it defines who we are as the result of our intelligent progression, but more than that. It does not exist in time and space, nor has anything that humans can hang onto as landmarks. It is the opposite of the physical and mental universes yet provides closure to the Divine Equation, which seeks to discover what it means to be fully human as nature intended. Unlike human thinking, Jesus had to become one of us to teach us how to make it through the minefield of life without being blown up. (Philippians 2:5). This is why Jesus is the Magister Noster (Our Master, Our Teacher), to lead us out of the confusion of human nature and original sin to become adopted sons and daughters of the Father through Faith(we deserve none of this but are grateful).
Sin, meaning we went down the wrong path to discover what it means to be fully human, is said to have died as its product or wages. In the physical universe, matter and the body are corrupt. We decay and putrify if we die, returning back to the dust. In the mental universe, sin doesn’t smell if you have a wrong idea about what God wills, but it causes the death of your spiritual universe. This is the smell of pride and coveting a neighbor’s wife and goods. If you are Baptized, you live with two identities, that in the physical and mental universes, and another one, as an adopted son or daughter of the Father. A war or struggle is going on between these two identities. The Devil tempts you that your spiritual self is just a fairy tale like Santa Claus. Fighting this feeling is uncomfortable, and we shun any pain in favor of what is easy. Christ comes to show us that life is not fair or accessible nor without struggle. We have all the helps we need to survive, but sin still smells as it causes death in our hearts if we don’t continue to eat the food of life (Eucharist) and get rid of the bad choices (Reconciliation).
TIP: The Gentle Mastery of Christ.
IX. You must face the one place humans are afraid to go. A great challenge to humans is to try to figure out their purpose in life. You can spend your whole life placing their or that at your center but fail to discover what is real. God gives us both the questions and the answers in many ways; through his Scriptures; through the teaching magisterium of the Church that burns away all false prophets and false centers; through being a Lay Cistercian (in my case); and through a pang of hunger to love Christ and find fulfillment for our humanity as nature intended (before the Fall in Genesis). Like everything else, you must learn how to do this. Being Catholic is inconvenient and causes you to go against the pull of original sin, which whispers in our ears, “Don’t tell me what to do.”
A contemplative approach to life is to embrace the Divine Equation and try to solve six challenging questions with the correct answers. These answers do not come from human reasoning or anything inside us. Ironically, it is only inside me that I find the answers to these questions. To do that, I just use the insights of The Christ Principle, which states I must die to my sinful and false self and put on Christ to be able to see that solving this Divine Equation takes know-how. I must do the opposite of what the world proposes as purpose or meaning. I must prefer nothing to the love of Christ in my heart. Here are some reasons why you would NOT want to be a Catholic.
X. JOIN A SCHOOL OF LOVE
You may not know it, but there is a School of Love out there whose sole purpose is to place you in the presence of Christ so that you can move from your false self to your true self. This is not the Catholic Church Universal, your diocesan membership, or even the local gathering of believers in your parish.
There are many opportunities that take you one step (actually unlimited steps) deeper in your relationship with Christ and help you actualize those characteristics you just read in the IX characteristics above. The Lay Institutes and Oblates follow a certain set of disciplines to grow Christ in your heart.
I have selected a Lay Cistercian approach to my core spirituality to help my descent into the depths of myself, where I fear to look. I use the practices of Cistercians and their charisms to go where I could not venture by myself. These ways are the way mentioned by Jesus. http://www.trappist.org; http://www.trappist.net.
Some, but not all such ways have, as their basis, the Rule of St. Benedict. https://christdesert.org/rule-of-st-benedict/ Any of these ways to “…have in you the mind of Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 2:5) are to help me with discipline, focus, techniques to move deeper into the Christ Principle (capacitas dei) and convert my life from my sinful self (false self) to my true self. Here is the bad news. I have to die to myself to rise with Christ in my spirit each day. This may lead the pusillanimous (faint of heart and Faith) to drop out of what Christ challenges us to be. As a young believer, I can remember being very impatient with the Church because I wanted to be perfect and was not. The older I got, the more I realized that this boredom with the sameness, ritual, with discipline is the default in my spirituality and what I might fight against to keep myself centered on Christ each day.
The Lay Cistercian School of Love is a discipline (disciple comes from this root) that I embrace to keep my focus on The Christ Principle. My human self wants instant results and no inconvenience to my attempts to reach it. My attention span is less than a minute unless I use Lay Cistercian practices to help me prolong my focus so that I can receive energy from the Holy Spirit which informs me of how all of this fits together.
In my religion, Christ tells me to take up my cross daily. Do you know how heavy your cross is? You probably don’t have the right cross if it is light, like balsam wood. This is the martyrdom of the ordinary, struggling to keep Christ at the center of my life, fighting the Devil who wants to supplant hatred for love, anger for peace, and pride for humility. If you fall victim to his wiles, you will do nothing, or fall away from the way, the truth, and the life, because it is too difficult.