NEW IDEAS IN NEW SKINS: Twenty things I no longer do as part of my religious regime.

My Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5) meditations take the form of looking at the totality of my life from the viewpoint of The Christ Principle. When I do that, old behaviors that I still practice, have not been excised (not exorcized, although I am an ordained exorcist). Since my acceptance as a Lay Cistercian, I have been constantly trying to move from my false self to my true self. The consequences of this mindset, in my case, have been for me to diminish or drop some practices that I formerly thought were important. Here are twenty such old thoughts that don’t fit in my new skin.

The Question About Fasting.o

33And they said to him, “The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and the disciples of the Pharisees do the same; but yours eat and drink.”

34* Jesus answered them, “Can you make the wedding guests* fast while the bridegroom is with them?

35But the days will come, and when the bridegroom is taken away from them, then they will fast in those days.”

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.

37Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins, and it will be spilled, and the skins will be ruined.

38Rather, new wine must be poured into fresh wineskins.

39[And] no one who has been drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’”*

A commentary adds:

* [5:39] The old is good: this saying is meant to be ironic and offers an explanation for the rejection by some of the new wine that Jesus offers: satisfaction with old forms will prevent one from sampling the new.

My reflection on the image of new wine requiring new skins is much deeper than I had thought. Jesus is always the new wine, in each age, in each of us; this is The Christ Principle we freely choose to place at our center. Once there, the rest of my life is a struggle to keep it as my center because of the corruption of matter and mind (everything deteriorates).

For me, I require daily conversion, which means Christ growing and me abandoning those practices that keep me from being fully human as nature intended. When I read websites that criticize the Holy Father and denigrate his personality, I am reminded of how much the Israelites complained about God leading them out in the desert only to have them die of starvation. This is an example of the Church today that whines about single issues in the Church (old wine) and uses the adage “We never did it that way before.” The Christ Principle makes all things new for the Church and also for me as I face whatever it is each day that challenges my Faith. I am the old skin (in my case, my skin is 81.10 years old) and I must move from my false self (old skin) to my new skin (new skin) so that The Christ Principle won’t go sour. In light of this analogy, I offer twenty chunks of old skin that I have abandoned in favor of new skins.

  1. I don’t bother myself with who is right or wrong about religion.
  2. I gave up being held hostage by the notion that I have to prove my Faith to anyone.
  3. I no longer fear the punishment of Hell but rather have significantly become aware of “the fear of the Lord,” as found in Chapter 7 of the Rule of Benedict.
  4. I am at more and more at peace with whatever comes my way each day.
  5. I don’t view life as a problem but as an opportunity to seek God where I am and as I am.
  6. I am growing more and more comfortable with Lectio Divina over longer periods of time (without losing too much focus).
  7. I have abandoned trying to establish a Lay Cistercian group in Tallahassee in favor of letting the Holy Spirit guide us to make it what it should be.
  8. I am probing ever deeper into the Mystery of Faith each day by going to my upper room (Matthew 6:5), locking the door, and just waiting for Christ.
  9. My wife thinks I have lost the wheels to my wheelbarrow and am pushing something impossible uphill. Maybe so, but I do it with a smile in my heart.
  10. Each day, I find new ways to link everything in my life worth anything to the love of Christ. Example: I use to sit in silence and solitude on a park bench in the middle of winter and yearn to be next to the heart of Christ. Now, after years and years of conversio morae, I can actually feel the heartbeat of Christ in my Lectio Divina meditations. My astonishment is that I can grow deeper (capacitas dei) and am challenged to sync my heartbeats with what I hear the heartbeats of Christ to be. {Not my will, but Thine be done on earth as it is in Heaven).
  11. I can now sit in my chair and suffer the daily and sometimes hourly taunts of my laziness from those I love, being overweight (less and less so), being in La-La land with my Lay Cistercian practices, my writings being useless and a waste of time, my going to Conyers, Georgia for the Gathering Day as an attempt on my part to gain attention, without responding back (St. Benedict says, Do not return evil for evil but rather return good for evil.) Unfortunately, I still have to take my daily Prozak to help out.
  12. I still take my medications for cardiac arrest (2007), leukemia (CLL type) in remission, cardiac pacemaker (2015), and other natural supplements, but am not manic about it as much. I am thankful for my medical practitioners. This reminds me I must also be faithful to placing Christ in my heart at the beginning of each day.
  13. I find that sometimes three to four hours per day, I sit with the television off, just meditating on things relating to what I will write in my blogs or how I need to be open to the Holy Spirit dousing me with so many ideas that are linked to what I knew in the past, that I can’t stand the joy it brings.
  14. I can better understand how atheists and agnostics need proof of the Resurrection but, in my thinking, no proof will be given to them but the sign of Jonah. This seeking proof is at the basis of a generation that not only does not believe but does not care.
  15. I am more at peace over prayer being as I can rather than as I should. My prayer is a whole day seeking god in whatever comes my way.
  16. I seek to grow deeper in linking the Scriptures I read with the past and the writings of the Church Fathers.
  17. I am simply astounded by my Gathering Days at Conyers, Georgia (Monastery of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit-Trappist) each month by the deep spirituality of all members, mostly female members. I am humbled each time we meet.
  18. I am beginning to realize that The Church is not the center of my life. The Christ Principle (Philippians 2:5) is the center of my life. Christ is the center of the Church’s life as evidenced through the writings of the Catholic Catechism and the Magisterium of the Church (those beliefs that come down through the ages that are part of the Mystery of Faith).
  19. I realize that each day, I must pray that I do not enter into temptation and seek to keep Christ as my center. It takes work. This is another way of saying that “I must take up my cross daily and follow in the footsteps of Christ.”
  20. Awareness of the Holy Spirit brings TRUTH. Adoption by the Father brings LIFE. Trudging the path of my unique life using the Christ Principle is THE WAY.

“That in all things, God be glorified.” St. Benedict

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