There are two aspects to my Lay Cistercian life on which I intend to focus until I die. They are:
I have assimilated these concepts into my system of contemplative practices to help me approach The Christ Principle in humility and obedience to what I discover. The key to keeping me from falling off the edge of orthodox to what Christ taught us is Tradition, the ongoing application of the Faith to each particular age. As time passes, the Church confronts civil authorities and local law and blames Churchndividuals who dilute the message of the cross with populism and rationalism (everyone has the right to an opinion, so every opinion is right). The problem comes when I look at my spiritual time frame and what I have learned about good or bad. I usually do it through trial and error. Christ became human to give all humans the key (The Christ Principle) to making it through the minefield of life and knowing where the mines are. Some of us get it, while most don’t.
MY PERSONAL CONVERSIO MORAE
As I look out of reality as a Lay Cistercian (www.trappist.net), I try to look at reality in layers, which I have called universes, for lack of a better term for me. The same is true for each of the concepts of contemplative spirituality above. In this blog, I will offer my take on the different conversion types, all of which I have experienced in form degree or another. This layering is the vertical spirituality of conversio morae (the depths of the Love Christ has for us) and my capacity to move from my false self to my true self through discipline and putting to death my human self to discover that being fully human can only be accomplished with The Christ Principle.
DAILY CONVERSION OF SELF TO GOD
In my quest to have the mind of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5), I have come to accept the Cistercian approach of looking at the bigger picture of a whole day at a time as seeking God where I am and as I am. I practice Lectio Divina, Liturgy of the Hours, Reading Sacred Scriptures, Eucharist, and Penance within that context.
Much of this growth has been almost an unconscious awareness that life itself is a prayer, and I have special moments in which I voluntarily place myself in the presence of Christ to listen to the Holy Spirit with “the ear of the heart.” At the core of who I am as a human being burns the longing to be present to the source of all energy, pure energy, pure knowledge, pure love, and pure service, “pure” being a human term I made up so that my insufficient human nature can be present to that which is 100% of its divine nature. In this context, seeking God means I consciously want to “be perfect as my heavenly Father is perfect,” meaning that I cannot be God, so it means trying to be 100% of my nature. Herein lies the problem. Original Sin is the condition in which I must struggle to discover what it means to rise above my animal and mental self to reach for perfection beyond my capability or capacity, yet reach what I must.
My human nature is destined for heaven, not the earth. I cannot reach it because of Original Sin and am in a life of struggle to keep my adoption as sons (and daughters) of the Father from slipping in the mud of life back down the hill, to which I must inexorably trudge up again and again.
Christ became human to show me how to do it, but more importantly, why I must die to my human self to be raised by God to my new life in Baptism. To keep my Baptism unsullied, Christ left himself, Th Eucharist of the Last Supper, to be my constant companion in his Real Presence. I have the free will to offer the one and only thing God does not possess from the mental universe, the free will that chooses Him over falsehood and fake promises of eternal life. I can only do this with three gifts (Faith) that Christ shares with me in His presence: knowledge, love, and service.
This free-will offering is Christ’s passion and death on the cross for the ransom of many. All humans are covered with this salvific blanket of race, but we must convert ourselves to take advantage of this great gift. Baptism is when God officially says to each of us, “You are my adopted son or daughter,” and gives us access to the gifts Christ left to succeeding generations to make new skins for the new wine of Christ for those who love Him.
HOW I CONVERTED FROM BEING CATHOLIC TO BECOMING CATHOLIC
What sounds like a conundrum is a process of re-conversion that I experienced. I was very angry with how the Church was treating me. It is like Republicans hating Democrats or vice versa). I went to a local Anglican Church in Tallahassee and look their full menu of classes, with the end product being membership in that local church. I can still remember the wonderful people who receivChurchas an initiative with all the classes on what Anglicans believe. Conversion for me was the realization that, over a period of many months that the Catholic Church (Roman Rite), I was more and more convinced that I belonged in this Faith home. After that experience, I re-introduced my paperwork f r laicization once again (they somehow lost my original paperwork). It took me 16 years of striving to fill out the paperwork. Pope Benedict XVI granted me dispensation from the clerical state, and now I was a layperson. Because of that event, I re-converted from Catholicism to Catholicism (this time to become a Lay Cistercian at the Monastery of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit (Trappist), Conyers, GA. http://www.trappist.net My takeaway from this is that everything has a vertical level of depth. I began to discover how to practice The Cistercian Way.