God gives you several gifts to commemorate the occasion when you are baptized. This is one of the most momentous events you will ever experience. Baptism is when Christ chooses you to be his disciple like he did to St. Peter and the other Apostles. Baptism removes the Original Sin of Adam and Eve and makes us adopted sons and daughters of the Father. That is good news. The bad news is that the effects of Original Sin still remain with us. Although Baptism is the initiation, what follows in our life is a gauntlet of temptations to do our own will and not follow the will of God. Christ has not left us, orphans. In each age, the Church universal, the living Body of Christ, is provided what we need to survive the minefields of life. Individually, we have access to at least five gifts given to us by the Father, which help us see with the eyes of Faith and listen with “the ear of the heart.” (St. Benedict: Prologue to the Rule) Does God really give us five pairs of glasses? You ask, “How can you see this?” I reply, “How is it you do not?”
FIVE GIFTS TO SEE WHAT CAN NOT BE SEEN Before I begin to enumerate these gifts, I don’t want to fly under false colors. These reflections come from my Lectio Divina medications and contemplations over the years. They are the end-product of many hours before the Blessed Sacrament in Eucharistic Adoration. They are progressive in that these five gifts are the accumulated results of over ten years of mellowing and testing these gifts against the crucible of reality. It must be said that approach these gifts, not as an expert in anything Cistercian, Lay Cistercian, or even Roman Catholic. I consider myself just a broken-down, old temple of the Holy Spirit, willing to try to listen to what Jesus tells me through his actual presence. I do not speak for God, only for my struggle with seeking God each day where I am and as I am. This being said, I offer you five different ways (there are more) that I use to grow deeper in my awareness of the Mystery of Faith. The cup you see represents me in the window of my life. My life with Christ in the Kingdom of Heaven may be seen through the foggy glass, colorful but cloudy. My window is dark and stark in its simplicity. My only focus is to discover each day what is in that cup. I will be using the cup as an aide to your meditation as you move through these five ways to see what cannot be seen with the world’s glasses, undoubtedly good but not good enough to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
I. HOW TO SEE THREE UNIVERSES YET ONE REALITY This first pair of glasses allows the wearer to see the totality of all reality. In fact, most people I have met only see two dimensions of reality: the physical and mental worlds (although we rarely reflect on them per se). This is a way of looking at what we see using three dimensions, not two. These three are similar to physical and mental dimensions, but I had a third, that of spiritual reality. This reality cannot be seen with just human eyes or thought about using the human mind. These are not dimensions as reality universes and correspond to three questions I had to ask myself about what it means to seek God every day.
THE PHYSICAL UNIVERSE: This universe is the base for all living things. It has a beginning and an end. It is corrupt in the sense that everything in it tends to deteriorate. Listen to a poem about deterioration. You are a part of that process of cosmic decay and cosmic birth. Can you see how it all fits together?
THE MENTAL UNIVERSE– This is the power to look at the physical universe and ask WHY and HOW. Why is it that only the human species has the two qualities of reasoning and choosing without recrimination? This is a universe where we learn what it means to be moral or the consequences of our wrong choices. It is the playground where we learn to love in such a way that we discover a power beyond mere sight, an invisible universe that is the most authentic we can experience.
THE SPIRITUAL UNIVERSE — This is a power beyond ourselves to lift up those signed with the cross to a new level of intelligent progression (evolution) that fulfills our destiny as a species. These glasses help us see the total scope of reality, not just two universes (physical and mental).
II. HOW TO SEE TWO WAYS TO LOOK AT LIFE The notion of three separate universes or dimensions yet one reality has been my theme for the last twenty years. It is a way that I have found helpful to look at reality, all reality. Yet, there is still a more profound element to the “three universes/one reality” pair of glasses. One thing about growing from self to God is I never reach the depths of the mystery of Faith. There is always a way to grow deeper and deeper. This second pair of glasses is an example. These glasses allow the user to look at three universes and probe even more profound. When you put on these glasses, you not only see three separate and distinct areas of reality, but you now notice that these three universes (physical, mental, and spiritual) form two ways of looking at life. The World and the Spirit.
III. HOW TO SEE AND ANSWER THE SIX QUESTIONS ABOUT LIFE BEFORE YOU DIE I am fixated on The Divine Equation, a theme that came to me while I was in Lectio Divina. Some would say, “That is just what you made up while you were in La-La land, and you just made those up out of air.” You would be right, except, “Can you answer the six questions that come from God designed to tell us what it means to be fully human?” I have what I consider to be the correct and authentic answers. They come to me outside myself and beyond nature, so I call it The Divine Equation. How do you know that these are the correct answers? How do you know they are not? This is not a case of “Got Cha.” The Divine Equation is not about solving who God is but using God’s five pairs of glasses to grow deeper to approach what it means to be truly human.
Now you have the real fundamental question to the six questions of life. Each of these questions must be answered because they are all linked together. Each correct answer contains the correct answer before it before you proceed. Who says what is correct?
Answering these six questions, which come from God (which is why it is called The Divine Equation), opens us up to why we are here and how I am a necessary part of humanity.
IV. HOW TO GROW DEEPER IN YOUR AWARENESS OF INVISIBLE REALITY –– We do a decent job of looking at reality with science, logic, psychology, and philosophy tools. Because humans depend upon our senses to interpret reality, what we see takes precedence over what we can’t see, which many dismiss as being subjective, in my opinion, and thus inaccurate. This thinking is what I term the place where Steven Hawking could not look. Lest you misunderstand, I do not refer to his brilliance in opening the doors to many ideas about cosmology. I simply state that the Achilles heel of a scientific approach to reality only looks at the physical universe using the mental universe. Most of what is to be discovered by humans are invisible, contained in the place humans are afraid to look inside themselves. The limitation of the scientific approach is that some don’t look at a deeper dimension to intelligent progression, which grows exponentially deeper with being in the presence of The Christ Principle.
As a Lay Cistercian, one of the striking discoveries I have made about what is real is a validation of what fox says to the little prince in Exupere’s, The Little Prince. “What is essential is invisible to the eye.” This set of glasses allows you to see a deeper dimension of reality; one has a different set of assumptions than the “reality is only what you can see, feel, taste, touch, and hear approach.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkiZuu79N_I (Turn on the cc for better results.) It is all a matter of perspective.
Growing deeper in Christ Jesus first requires that you hold that you can discover this relationship and that it is accurate. Next, you must use the methodology of placing yourself in proximity to the source of pure energy using the glasses provided to you at Baptism, which allows you to see what the world considers foolishness.
V. HOW TO APPROACH THE ONE PLACE NO ONE WANTS TO LOOK BY USING CONTEMPLATION
This next pair of glasses allows you to see what cannot be seen by physical and mental eyes. This is discovering “the ear of the heart.” Silence, solitude, work, prayer, and community are all charisms of Cistercian spirituality. As an individual Lay Cistercian, I approach contemplation by using Lectio Divina for a deeper dive into my humanity. As the Scriptures suggest, it is folly for the Gentiles and a stumbling block for the Jews. The builders of the earth have rejected the cornerstone, but it is the Christ Principle, the center of all that is, was, or will be. Nothing magic. As I mentioned earlier, Steven Hawking could not go here because he never considered it worthwhile. In this context, I refer to my hero, Steven Hawking, who could not look here. Still, he is an archetype for the scientific inquiry that limits itself to the reality of the physical and mental universes. If you don’t expand your horizon to look for what is invisible, you won’t be able to see beyond what you can see. To me, that is not scientific inquiry. Humans have reason, so we can push the boundaries of what is and ask questions about our destiny as fully human as nature intended.