THE GOLDEN THREAD: Spiritual Kinship through The Christ Principle.

Jesus called those he loved and who loved him back as friends. Read this most eloquent of texts in their entirety, so you get the context. Note that Jesus calls us friends, in this passage. He has chosen us, we have not chosen Him. Because He first chose us, we are able to become adopted sons and daughters of the Father, through, with, and in Christ Jesus.

The Vine and the Branches.

1* “I am the true vine,* and my Father is the vine grower.a

2 He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes* so that it bears more fruit.

3 You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.b

4 Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.

5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.

6*Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned.

7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.d

8 By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.e

9 As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love.f

10 If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.g

11 “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.h

12 This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.i

13* No one has greater love than this,j to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.

15 I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends,* because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.k

16 It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.l

17 This I command you: love one another.m

If I am linked to the Father through Christ with the power of the Holy Spirit, then those with whom I am linked are one with me. In the five charisms of the Cistercian Order, which Lay Cistercians follow, they state: silence, solitude, work, prayer, and community. In this context of community or “gathering,” the linkage goes all the way back to Christ. This is not just the Christ that died for our sins on the cross, although it is that. It expands to include all those with whom I experience in my lifetime, both good and evil.


One syncretic analogy I use to help my mind even approach what this means, in reality, has to do with my notion that at Baptism, Christ handed me a golden thread, one which he received from the Father when he became human as a ransom for the many. My task is to pass this Golden Thread through those events, sunsets, and sunrise, situations where I encountered the living Christ, each time I go with Christ to the Father in the Eucharist to give fitting praise and glory, the times I overcame evil by loving those who calumniate or chastise me for Christ’s sake, and all the times I realized that most of my life, I have been a complete failure to recognize Christ in others, relying on my own ego and pride for self-satisfaction.

What I thread with Christ’s Golden Thread, I can take with me to heaven. All human experiences that bring me closer to Christ and farther away from my false self will be my heaven. In this scenario, I wish to link up with as many people as possible. This is where spiritual kinship comes into play for me. I have biological brothers and sisters, but, because of my Baptism and kinship with others through Christ, I have spiritual relationships, ones that are sacramentalized in Matrimony and Holy Orders and maintained through Eucharist and Reconciliation.

Here are a few of the relationships I have established using The Golden Thread. Even though they seem to involve only one person or a small group (ala Lay Cistercians), remember there is but one thread that reaches from my Baptism through to my passover into my new inheritance as an adopted son (daughter) of the Father. All of us are linked together by The Christ Principle. Every person I ever met, good or bad for me, is linked with that Golden Thread. When I die, that Golden Thread allows me to take those human experiences that have enabled me to love others as Christ loved me, to the place where Jesus and His mother await me and present to me the inheritance due me by my adoption.


This past April, a new class of Novice Lay Cistercians was received into the group of Lay Cistercians of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery (Trappist), in Conyers, Georgia. Each new Lay Cistercian novice was assigned a senior member to act as a guide to help them grow in awareness of how to use Cistercian practices and charisms to “grow in Christ.” Cistercians call this “capacitas dei,” or I must decrease and Christ must increase. This is not so much a one-time commitment but rather a Lay Cistercian Way or walk for two years. These senior members stand behind each novice as they make promises to enter the Lay Cistercian Way and receive a medal of St, Benedict to wear, especially at the monthly Gathering Day meetings.

I was fortunate to have been selected to be a guide and companion for three of the new novices, two of them from my hometown of Tallahassee, Florida. In reflecting on the significance of my responsibility, I wondered if this was a ceremonial requirement (which it is not) or if it might be something more significant, a depth to which I had hitherto not even considered.

My role as sponsor, companion, or guide to new aspirants to the disciplines of Cistercian spirituality, took on new meaning in terms of this Golden Thread. I use my thread to link up these three novices and one other previous novice together with me. Since Christ is the golden thread, which he received from the Father, as an adopted son (daughter), I have kinship with these novices, not just for a year, but for all eternity. The power of my St. Benedict’s medal, I join with the reception of their new Novice medals (smaller but identical). The St. Benedict medal protects us from the evil one but also links all wearers together in Christ.

Like a godfather or godmother at Baptism, there is a kinship created with that person that lasts forever. There is much more to this concept because I am now aware of the vital dynamic of sharing my “capacitas dei” with these special friends. It is a deeper awareness, a more lasting and enduring relationship than even marriage. It transcends time and links together all those with whom I have threaded the Golden Thread of Christ now, and in the life to come. We are bound together in, with, and through Christ with the power of the Holy Spirit. The implications of this threading are of great importance to me as I thread my way through life, capturing the treasures of God through Christ to bring with me to create the dimensions of my heaven within what God has in store for me.

Heaven begins with Baptism and is sustained by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Recently, I have been revisiting all those old people from my past whom I have brushed against in my lifetime. In humility, and due to the maturation of Christ in me (I am not the same person spiritually that I was even ten years ago), I have been asking Christ for mercy and asking those whom I have slighted and been a complete jerk towards in my past life (and believe me, it is almost everyone I have ever met), seeking their forgiveness for my lack of charity and love and asking for their prayers. This is not just with fellow Catholics with whom my kinship is with the Golden Thread, but also those who have hated me and sought to calumniate my memory. The neat thing about God is that he is the power, the kingdom, and the glory, not me.

I do a virtual linkage in my Lectio Divina with these groups and write their names (known and unknown) in my Book of Life, one that I hand to Jesus at the Last Judgment and seek mercy. Each night before bed, I ask Mary, St. Joseph, and St. Michael to intercede with Jesus on me, such an insensitive person.

  • All the School Teachers I have ever had in Grade School, High School, College, Seminary, Loyola University, and Indiana University.
  • All the classmates I have ever met.
  • Those individuals I have named as written in my Book of Life.
  • All my relatives.
  • Those souls in Purgatory who await conversion of the heart needed to stand in the presence of the Lamb.
  • Those whom I have hurt or slighted by not recognizing Christ in them and instead having a prideful and self-serving heart.
  • For all the times I have not put Christ as my Christ Principle which I use to answer four questions:
  • What does it mean to be fully human as nature intended?
  • What does it mean to love others as Christ loved us?
  • What does it mean to seek the Truth Absolutely?
  • What does it mean for me to be an adopted son (daughter) of the Father?
  • All the monks, especially at Our Lady of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia, and St. Meinrad
  • All the Lay Cistercians I have ever met.
  • My four kinsmen and novices who are beginning their Lay Cistercian journey.

All of these plus sunsets, events, occasions with my pet animals, and all the time nature reminded me that winds and showers bless the Lord (The Canticle of Daniel).

I have one drawback, I cannot put this Golden Thread of Christ through anything evil or touched by Satan. It simply will not tread, passing through each time.

When I die, I take my Golden Thread and all its implications with me to my inheritance as an adopted son of the Father.

Here is where it gets scary. I am only talking about those things, people, events, prayers, and contemplations, that are in my life. Each person that I link with also has a complete lifetime of linking together. Add all of us together and this is The Church Universal in Triumph.

When I say Communion of Saints, this is the scope of what awaits each of us in heaven, exploring all those linked realities of all the Saints, the saints, and asking them how they got there with Christ as their Golden Thread. It is mind-boggling.


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