I like to watch the odd movie that comes out of the myriad of flicks produced these days. The Harry Potter movies are ones that I enjoy, not because I espouse witchcraft at all, but because it has a remarkable insight into good and evil and their consequences. The context of the series is one of fantasy and story-telling that are ways to set forth the human condition and how good triumphs over evil.

In the recesses of my Lectio Divina meditations, these movies have me thinking about how our age likes to make choices that are easy rather than what is right. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1rTDTboKbZU


What we choose can easily be what is fantasy rather than what is real. We choose what makes us happy. We are indeed defined by the choices we make. For those that have the Christ Principle as the center of their lives, we measure all things in terms of the death and resurrection of Christ over the corruption of matter and mind. Not all agree on what the center of their lives might be. What you place there as the one defining principle upon which all others depend will be the consequence of the choices. Scripture tells us that the wages of sin are death while the cross’s choice is everlasting life now and eternally.

Fallacies that some people (practicing Catholics, the misinformed, and the intentionally hostile) hold to be true.

FALACIE ONE: EVERYONE IS GOD, SO WHATEVER I WANT TO DO IS CORRECT. Everyone wants to be their own god. We pay the price for having reason and the freedom to choose what makes us happy. When I am consciously trying to convert my morals from my false self (corruptible)to my true, intended self (incorruptible), being God is what I am trying to avoid. Unfortunately, it is part of what makes me human. For me, this is why God gave humans a free choice, other than we are made in God’s image and likeness, i.e., to give back to the Father the only gift we can possibly give that allows us to claim our inheritance as adopted sons and daughters of the Father. That short phrase, “thy will be done,” that we recite in the Our Father is loaded with meaning, a lifetime of knowing and loving with all our hearts, leading to serving others. With so many human people, therefore, possessing reason and the ability to choose what they consider good for them, it is no wonder there are so many “gods” floating around, actually believing that they are infallible in faith and morals. If they are Baptized, they claim to have a direct pipeline to the Holy Spirit, and everything they say must be true because God told them so. Alas, what is lacking is both humility and obedience to a higher power than themselves. If they are not Baptized, some think they possess the knowledge to determine what love is, usually what gives them pleasure. Alas, they lack the perspective of The Christ Principle, the sign of contradiction that says when we empty ourselves of the products of “the flesh” (Galatians 5) and put on the cloak of “the Spirit,” we fulfill our role as adopted sons and daughters of the Father. The rise of relativism. The World’s corruption means everyone is a potential teacher of how to be fully human. Read the three temptations of Christ in the desert with this idea in mind.

In my reflections in my Lectio, I use the notion of false teachers to help me refocus on The Christ Principle, the only way, the only truth, that leads to an incorruptible life now and in the life to come. False teachers seek to seduce the faint of heart away from the challenge of taking up their cross daily, in favor of a cotton candy approach to Faith. You don’t need to worry about being saved, you don’t need to fight to keep corruption from overtaking your Faith, and you certainly don’t need to move from your false self to your true self in Christ Jesus by praying daily for God’s mercy and forgiveness. My Lay Cistercian Way, based on Cistercian interpretations of the Rule of St. Benedict, is based on learning to love in a School of Love with Christ as the HeadMaster, follows the cross daily. The Devil wanted Christ to accept his teachings of convenience and what is easy rather than what is a struggle and is correct according to God’s will.

What terrifies me is that so many, beginning with myself, are inundated with this corruption of morals. Jesus repulsed the temptations of Satan to become like Adam and Eve and instead listened to His Father, who is His true teacher of the humanity of Jesus, while at the same time being true God.

The Temptation of Jesus.

1* a Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.

2b He fasted for forty days and forty nights,* and afterwards he was hungry.

3The tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.”

4* He said in reply, “It is written:c

‘One does not live by bread alone,

but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.’”

5* Then the devil took him to the holy city, and made him stand on the parapet of the temple,

6and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written:

‘He will command his angels concerning you’

and ‘with their hands they will support you,

lest you dash your foot against a stone.’”d

7Jesus answered him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.’”e

8Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence,

9and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.”*

10At this, Jesus said to him, “Get away, Satan! It is written:

‘The Lord, your God, shall you worship

and him alone shall you serve.’”f

11Then the devil left him and, behold, angels came and ministered to him.



Jesus, according to our collective belief, is both God and Human in nature in one body. These temptations are actually three that tempt the humanity of Christ with the actual archetypes of what it means to be God, i.e., the kingdom, the power, and the glory.

The Devil (Lord of Darkness) wants Christ to relegate to Satan his freedom to choose who is the center of his life, the one choice each of us must make constantly and guard against the corruption of matter and the mind. Christ’s humanity actually tells Satan that God is the center of His life, “For yours is the kingdom, power, and the glory, forever.”

These temptations are actually an extension of the choice of Adam and Eve. Christ, the Second Adam, is in the desert (the world), not the Garden of Eden.

This story is a very sophisticated example of the wages of sin, the results of what would happen if we accept that the Devil is the Lord of our life instead of Christ.

This is the deepest and most important of all lessons Christ has to tell his disciples (and each of us). The number three denotes a red flag of what it means to be human, as humanity itself in the person of Christ grapples with the most fundamental of choices that come from the corruption of our human nature, Who is God? Is God a power outside of myself which I recognize and give consent and assent, or do I give my free choice to say YES to the moral corruption of Satan as it seeks to infiltrate into my incorruptible spirit?

Number three indicates that this story is deeply embedded into our humanity and one that we must struggle to maintain throughout our lifetime. It is no accident that the two gifts God left each one who confesses that Jesus is Lord are: the Eucharist (Himself, body and blood, and soul and divinity) as food to nourish us against the bruises and cuts that come from our daily battle to seek God; and also, repentance for the forgiveness of our sins. Christ, who is real and present each moment, each day, walks with us as He carried the cross so many years ago. He helps us lift our cross but won’t stop us from being bruised and battered (sometimes even shed our blood) as we walk the path chosen for us before time began.

The cost of discipleship that comes from Baptism is that we must suffer, die, and rise again and again with the martyrdom of living each day, knowing that our nature is good but wounded. Like Christ, but will overcome evil and the three temptations of Satan but not without being banged around a bit.

This story is an archetype of the effects of the original sin of Adam and Eve. Each day, as St. Benedict says in Chapter 4 of his Rule, we must prefer nothing to the love of Christ.

Christ deflected this fallacy back to Satan, and his humanity conquered the temptation of being an adopted son of Satan or one that has God as Father, God as Son, and God as Spirit?

Scriptures are stories (John 20:30-31) that help us believe that Jesus is Messiah so that we might have everlasting life in His name. The Old Testament answers the question in Genesis 2-3, “What is evil and what is good? Keeping the law means being in an unbreakable relationship with God .” (See Deuteronomy 6:5) The New Testament or New Paradigm takes the results from the Old Testament and asks a new question based on the Old Paradigm, “Love others as I have loved you.” Christ, Son of the Father, becomes one of us to show us how to love as the Father loves Him. (Matthew 22:38)

Jesus was exhausted by this conflict with evil, just as we are. It takes spiritual energy (which we replenish with our Lay Cistercian practices and charisms), so we might rearm ourselves with the energy from the Holy Spirit and keep up our guard for another round until we die.

Anyone who thinks taking up the cross each day is easy had better check to see if their cross is made from balsa wood.

FALLACY TWO: CHRISTIANITY, AND ESPECIALLY THE CHURCH, IS CORRUPT AND FULL OF SIN, SO HOW CAN IT BE HOLY AT THE SAME TIME? Critics of Christ always point to the corruption of the Church as one way to prove the duplicity and double standard among those that profess to be Catholic. What seems like a “Gotcha” might be more interesting in light of the following ideas:

The Church means the Church Universal, those who have died in the peace of Christ and are triumphant in Heaven; also, those who have died needing more purification of their lives to be able to stand before the Throne of the Lamb; and still others who suffer the martyrdom of the ordinary each day on earth as they await the death of the Lord until He comes again. Usually, critics of the Faith have already stated their objections to the Church and then seek to justify it through Scriptures, fuzzy logic, and straw men (and women) to make their point. It is impossible to even have a rational, much less a spiritual conversation with those who don’t admit any position but their own to be true. Objections, of course, are not challenged by anyone. They use universal statements such as “All priests are pedophile priests and the Church is therefore corrupt”. Jesus ran into this when even he could not cure the sick because of the lack of Faith of those present, although, and this is significant, they were healed when he laid hands on them.

FALLACY THREE: YOU CANNOT PROVE GOD EXISTS WITH REASON ALONE. Because proving God means I must use God’s measurements and equations, I agree that humans have neither the capacity nor the capacity to provide God’s existence. If I was God, I would have pure energy that would enable me to possess pure knowledge, pure love, and pure service. Humans don’t have any language that even begins to approximate who God is, yet, God sent His Only Begotten Son Down to earth to become human (Philippians 2:5) expressly to TEACH us what God is using stories, parables, similes, examples, and the inspiration of those who wrote down what Jesus did and said. Read John 20:30-31 to find out why we have Scripture in the first place. Read Faith must be informed by reason, to use what limited capabilities we have to know anything about God.

what the Doctor of the Church, St. Thomas Aquinas says about God in his Summa Theologica. If you read this, you are dabbling in the Big League of Spirituality. If you don’t get all of it, you are not alone.

First Part (Prima Pars)
Sacred Doctrine

GENERAL: The nature and extent (1) of sacred doctrine.

The One God

EXISTENCE: The existence (2) of God.
ESSENCE: We cannot know what God is, but only what He is not. So to study Him, we study what He has not—such as composition and motion. His simplicity (3) or lack of composition. His perfection: and because everything in so far as it is perfect is called good, we shall speak of His goodness (6)—and goodness in general (5)—as well as His perfection (4). His infinity (7) and omnipresence (8). His immutability (9), and His eternity (10) following on His immutability. His unity (11). How God is known by us (12). The names of God (13).
OPERATIONS (INTELLECT): God’s knowledge (14). The ideas (15), exist in His knowledge. Truth (16) in God, for knowledge, is of things that are true. Falsity (17) in God. The life of God (18), since to understand belongs to living beings.
OPERATIONS (WILL): God’s will (19). In our own wills, we find both the passions (such as joy and love), and the habits of the moral virtues (such as justice and fortitude). Hence we shall first consider the love (20) of God, and secondly His justice and mercy (21).
OPERATIONS (INTELLECT AND WILL): Providence (22), in respect to all created things; for in the science of morals, after the moral virtues themselves, comes the consideration of prudence, to which providence belongs. Predestination (23) and the book of life (24).
POWER: The power of God (25), the principle of the divine operation as proceeding to the exterior effect. The divine beatitude (26)

The Blessed Trinity

ORIGIN: The question of origin or procession (27). The relations of origin relations of origin (28).
THE PERSONS IN GENERAL: The signification (29) of the word “person”. The number (30) of the persons, and what is involved in the number of persons, or is opposed thereto; as diversity, and similitude, and the like (31)Our knowledge (32) of the persons.
FATHER: The person of the Father (33).
SON: The person of the Son, to whom three names are attributed: Son (see 33), the idea of which is gathered from the idea of Father; Word (34) and Image (35).
HOLY GHOST: The person of the Holy Ghost, Who is called three things: Holy Ghost (36)Love (37) and Gift (38).
THE THREE COMPARED: The person in reference to the essence (39), with the relations or properties (40), or to the notional acts (41). The equality and likeness (42) of the persons. Their mission (43).


PRODUCTION: The first cause (44) of beings. Creation (45), which is the mode of emanation of creatures from the first cause. The beginning of the duration (46) of creatures.
DISTINCTION: The distinction of things in general(47). The distinction of good and evil: evil (48) and its cause (49). The distinction of creatures—spiritual (or angels), corporeal, and man (which is both)—is outlined below.

The Angels (Spirit)

SUBSTANCE: Their substance is considered absolutely (50), and in relation to corporeal things, such as bodies (51) and locations (52). Their local movement (53).
INTELLECT: His power (54) and medium (55) of knowledge. The immaterial (56) and material (57) objects known. The manner (58) whereby he knows them.
WILL: The will itself (59) and its movement, which is love (60).
ORIGIN: How they were brought into natural existence (61) and perfected in grace (62). How some of them became wicked: Their sins (63) and punishment (64).

The Six Days (Matter)

CREATION: The work of creation (65).
DISTINCTION: The ordering (66) of creation towards distinction. The work of distinction in itself: The first (67)second (68) and third (69) days.
ADORNMENT: The fourth (70)fifth (71)sixth (72) and seventh (73) days.
GENERAL: All seven days (74) in common.

Man (Spirit and Matter)

ESSENCE: The nature of the soul in itself (75), and its union with the body (76).
POWER: The powers of the soul in general (77) Those powers which are a preamble to the intellect (78). The intellectual (79) powers. The appetitive powers in general (80), and specifically: sensuality (81), the will (82) and free-will (83).
OPERATIONS: We consider the will in the second part of this work, which deals with morals. Here we treat of the acts of the intellect. How the soul, when united to the body, understands corporeal things beneath it: Specifically, through what (84) does it know them? How (85) does it know them? What (86) does it know in them? When united to the body, how does the soul know itself (87)? When united to the body, how does it know immaterial substances (88) which are above it? And how does the soul understand when separated from the body (89)?
ORIGIN (PRODUCTION): The production of man’s soul (90) and body (91), and the production of the woman (92).
ORIGIN (END): The end (93) of man’s production, inasmuch as he is “the image and likeness of God”.
ORIGIN (FIRST MAN): The state of Adam’s soul: His intellect (94); the righteousness (95) of his will and the use of righteousness as regards his dominion over things (96). The state of Adam’s body: Preservation of the individual (97) and of the species (98) through generation. The state of the offspring’s body (99)virtue (100) and knowledge (101).
ORIGIN (HOME): His home, which is paradise (102).

The Government of Creatures

GENERAL: The government of things in general (103) and the specific effects (104) of this government.
GOD: How God (105) changes creatures.
SPIRITS: How an angel acts on another angel, through enlightenment (106) and speech (107); the hierarchies of good (108) and evil (109) spirits. How an angel acts on a bodily creature (110). How an angel acts on man by his natural power (111) and as a minister of God (112). The guardianship (113) of the good angels and the assaults (114) of the demons.
BODIES: How bodies change: the action (115) of the bodily creature, and fate (116), which is ascribed to certain bodies.
MAN: How man—who is both body and spirit—changes in general (117). The production of man from man as to the soul (118) and to the body (119).

The Summa Theologiæ of St. Thomas Aquinas
Second and Revised Edition, 1920
Literally translated by Fathers of the English Dominican Province
Online Edition Copyright © 2017 by Kevin Knight
Nihil Obstat. F. Innocentius Apap, O.P., S.T.M., Censor. Theol.
Imprimatur. Edus. Canonicus Surmont, Vicarius Generalis. Westmonasterii.
Nihil Obstat. F. Raphael Moss, O.P., S.T.L. and F. Leo Moore, O.P., S.T.L.
Imprimatur. F. Beda Jarrett, O.P., S.T.L., A.M., Prior Provincialis Angliæ




“For those with faith, no evidence is necessary; for those without it, no evidence will suffice.” ~ Thomas Aquinas

“Nothing created has ever been able to fill the heart of man. God alone can fill it infinitely.” ~ Thomas Aquinas


“We must love them both, those whose opinions we share and those whose opinions we reject, for both have labored in the search for truth, and both have helped us in finding it.” ~ Thomas Aquinas

“Fear is such a powerful emotion for humans that when we allow it to take us over, it drives compassion right out of our hearts.” ~ Thomas Aquinas

“It is only God who creates. Man merely rearranges.” ~ Thomas Aquinas

“Of all the pursuits open to men, the search for wisdom is most perfect, more sublime, more profitable, and more full of joy.” ~ Thomas Aquinas

“There is within every soul a thirst for happiness and meaning.” ~ Thomas Aquinas

“In the life of the body a man is sometimes sick, and unless he takes medicine, he will die. Even so in the spiritual life, a man is sick on account of sin. For that reason he needs medicine so that he may be restored to health; and this grace is bestowed in the Sacrament of Penance.” ~ Thomas Aquinas

“A man’s heart is right when he wills what God wills.” ~ Thomas Aquinas

“When the devil is called the god of this world, it is not because he made it, but because we serve him with our worldliness.” ~ Thomas Aquinas

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