In this series of blogs on Chapter 14 of John’s Gospel, I will share with you what I received from my Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5) meditations on the significance of THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE. Each of these three elements of my Lay Cistercian spirituality has four inscrutables resulting from capacitas dei in each one. What follows is for your reflection about my reflections.
1* “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me.
2 In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?
3* And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.a
4 Where [I] am going you know the way.”*
5 Thomas said to him, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?”
6J esus said to him, “I am the way and the truth* and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.b
7 If you know me, then you will also know my Father.* From now on you do know him and have seen him.”c
8 Philip said to him, “Master, show us the Father,* and that will be enough for us.”d
9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?e
10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works.f
11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves.g
12 Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father.h
13 And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.i
14 If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.
In the next five minutes, read this passage three times. Each time, pause at verse six to reflect on how it relates to your way in life. Does THE WAY of Christ give your way a way?https://bible.usccb.org/bible/john/14
THE FOUR INSCRUTIBLES
Scriptures speak of the Lord’s ways as being inscrutable. The word inscrutable means unbelievable or doesn’t make sense without a key. Use this Scripture to tease out why Jesus became our nature for all humans, not just Jews or Catholics; it is indeed inscrutable.
“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.a
4 Where [I] am going you know the way.”*
5 Thomas said to him, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?”
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth* and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.b
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE WAY OF THE CROSS
THE WEIGHT OF MY CROSS
Here is a blog I wrote a few weeks ago detailing what are the criticisms of the Catholic Church. I turned it around and wrote what I thought the strengths are. Having some additional thoughts on the matter in a recent Lectio Divina, I would like to share my thoughts about Father as the Way, the Holy Spirit as the Truth, and Christ as the Life.
Creating humans was God’s most outstanding achievement in terms of intelligent progression. Imperfect? All matter is there to allow us to use our reason and free choice to say YES to God and NO to sin. You could not have a more imperfect species than humans, yet, God so loved us with all our perfections, denials, sinfulness, and betrayal that it is unbelievable. The move from animality to rationality for humans had some intended and unintended consequences. First, we had to learn to be human, not animal, while retaining the residue of our heritage. This meant there were good choices for being new humans and bad choices, but humans did not know the consequences. Sin entered the world through one man, St. Paul says in Romans 5. That is significant because Genesis is a textbook of the archetype of what it means to struggle with being human. Imperfect and sinful? Yes, humans of all species were loved as worth teaching, but they needed help. Christ became the second Adam to give us adoption as sons and daughters of the Father. Jesus gave him life for the ransom of many to show this love.
Humans, in response, still had no clue as to the depths of his love. Peter denied him three times, and Judas committed suicide. Only John was at the foot of the cross with Mary, his mother. Yet, God did not give up on us and sent us to Holy Spirit to blow away the cobwebs and to allow us dual citizenship (we live on the earth until we die, but we are destined to be with that love forever). Now, we get a glimpse of that destiny that fulfills the Genesis Principle with the Christ Principle and allows us to fulfill our destiny as humans as nature intended. Dissonance has become resonance, but we are aware of it only to the extent that we choose God over self. Lay Cistercian practices of capacitas dei (growing more in Christ and less of my false self) and conversio morae, daily having in me the mind of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5) is my purpose in life, one that is a human alone with my reasoning would never attain.
Posted on August 13, 2022, by thecenterforcontemplativepractice
I AM THE WAY
I added these to the website Quora to answer one of their questions. With some of these inane questions, no wonder many countries are becoming more atheistic. I don’t blame them, but I offer some ideas that help me with the insanity of false questions. It’s a living.
Who wants to be a member of that? I do.
As a citizen of heaven (adoption) God lifts us up when we lift up our hands to die to ourselves to rise with Christ to what our nature intended before the Fall. As crazy as this sounds, it is when we abandon our humanity with its false assumptions, that we are free to embrace the embrace of Christ through the energy of the Holy Spirit. Here are some characteristics of adoption as the son (daughter) or the Father. Think about that for a moment. Jesus is God’s Son, but so are we.
We are not God but citizens of what God has planned for those who love him on earth. It is our inheritance. Like the Father in the parable of the Prodigal Son, we are the ones who squander our true inheritance to fall back into the swamp of sinful habits. St. Paul writes of this in Galatians 5, where we can choose good or evil but not both. As adopted sons and daughters, we have The Christ Principle as the North against which we navigate the WAY. We have the Sacred Scriptures with the writers of the Early Church to measure out sometimes crazy and heretical thoughts. We have the Holy Spirit to instill in us the humility and obedience we need to say, “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
We sell our inheritance and end up with a humanity that, of itself, is incapable of reaching the finality of our inheritance, that of heaven. The citizenship of the world is not bad as much as it is incapable of lifting up us higher to be more human, more moral, more loving, and more helpful to others.
We must die for all that the citizenship of the world has to offer. Or as in the case of the Son in the Parable, make a conversion of heart (conversio morae), realizing that only with the Father is there a redemption from the swamp of Original Sin.
In Baptism, first, God reaches down to pull us up from the swamp of Original Sin and washes us off with the waters of Faith. “You have not chosen me, I have chosen you,”
Two citizenship theory means I live in the world as my base of operations and use the externals of matter and mind for existing, but my vision of reality is enhanced (not changed) by placing The Christ Principle as key to my resolving what it means to be fully human in potential.
This is the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE.
THE THIRD INSCRUTABLE OF THE WAY: The Divine Equation
If you have noticed, THE WAY of Christ is not for the faint of heart. It takes work, and, as viewed from the notion of dual citizenship, it takes energy that does not come from human endeavors. My assumption is that we can become fully human as our intelligent progression is intended only by applying the principles of living that come from God. Left to our own devices, and the constant radiation from exposure to the choices of either good or bad for us, our default tends to be more towards our animal past with the less noble aspects of being human (the magnetic lure of those things in the Seven Deadly Sin and in Galatians 5) that pull us down from seeking to evolve to an ever higher dimension of our humanity–that of adopted son or daughter of the Father.
Jesus told us he would not leave us, orphans, when he left to fulfill what it meant for him to be human and divine nature. In my Lectio Divina over a lifetime, I have culled out six thresholds or principles through which I had to pass, like a snake that has to shed its skin to grow. I share these with you, not that I recommend that you accept what my life has produced or that you follow anything I do. I share these because I am bid to do so strange as that sounds. I don’t even understand it fully myself. I present The Divine Equation.
I came upon this name quite by accident as I am trying to make sense of the various ways people seek to explain or deny God. I realized that the notion of knowing who God is is a waste of my intellectual capital. Far more crucial to find out who I am as a unique human with a lifetime of experiences in what is good or bad for me, is the quest to go to the next level of my intelligent progression.
I have found that the “spine of intelligent design” set forth above, by Henri Teilhard de Chardin in his movement from creation to Omega our destiny as humans, is helpful. This diagram showed me that we are not only not orphans but that was is a WAY for humanity to travel, one where all humanity can get refreshment along the way, one where there is food for the journey (Eucharist) and a physician to fix our spiritual depressions or falls (Sacrament of Reconciliation). This equation I term this the Divine Equation, not because it proves who God is, which is impossible with human languages or reasoning, but because God proves to me who I am by refocusing me on the kingdom of heaven rather than the false promises of the World.
Here are the six questions that God gives humans through, with, and in Christ Jesus, as well as the correct answers (absolute truth that is from the divine nature only) and permeate humans as their capacitas dei permits on a daily basis.
These questions plus the six correct answers come from God through Christ and down through the ages in the Church Universal. They are called The Divine Equation not because they tell us who God is (Christ gives us these six questions plus the correct answers in human terms) but because they help each of us identify what it means to fulfill our human purpose in life. These six questions must be answered by each human (my assumption) and the answers come from the totality of their life experiences. Many answer these six questions but there is only one set of correct answers. Remember, these six questions help me, the individual, discover who I am as a human being and ever deeper into the Mystery of Faith, the plunge into the unknowing. Jesus is the savior because He is the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE.
We, humans, have reason and the ability to make choices that shape our values and integrity. Some don’t include God in the equation. It is my contention that our human is only fulfilled through an emptying (kenosis in Philippians 2:5-12) and dying to our false selves and values.
THE MAGISTER NOSTER
The Father is Magister Noster (our teacher) to Christ; Christ is Magister Noster to the Church; The Church, through the Holy Father, is Magister Noster to me as I pop up into the “spine of reality” to live my 82+ years so far. There are at least four lessons that I must master in my lifetime, lessons that allow me to penetrate more deeply into my humanity, ever-expanding absolute truth. What follows is a blog that I wrote on a few of these lessons from the Magister Noster.
Erich Fromm, the author of The Art of Loving, introduced me to the concept of learning, one where love is not infused as something we get automatically from being born as a human. We must learn what love is over a lifetime of trial and error, plus applying norms and social constructs to test if what we reason is reasonable. Love becomes a process where we accept assumptions about what it means, what is authentic or unauthentic, and why, plus how all of these notions contribute to what it means to be fully human as nature intended.
What follows is my reasoning as to the four learning milestones I have had to learn using my life experiences and trials and errors (sin and grace). These four are called the Art of Living, the Art of Loving, The Art of Discerning Truth, and the Art of Contemplative Practice.
Up to, and including this past year, my focus has been moving from my false self to my true self, which I assumed was to love others as Christ loved me. While still true, I happened to uncover a way to move significantly deeper into my Lectio Divina meditations (Philippians 2:5). I called this vertical prayer because it is my quest to explore my prayer (Lectio Divine, Liturgy of the Hours, Eucharist, Penance, Rosary, Reading Holy Scripture, Reading Early Church Fathers, and Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, to name a few practices).
These four habits, which require work and prayer, are limitless in their integration with The Christ Principle. These four habits are to be used as THE WAY to be living daily in our process of seeking God. Here are some ideas I had as a result of allowing my boundaries to dissolve and asking the Holy Spirit to be my Magister Noster.
- The Art of Living — The Father is THE LIFE of all existence. This life is physical living while I am on this earth. While on this earth, I have reason and the ability to make choices for a reason. These two qualities differentiate me from other living things, over which I am the conservator and guardian. I can choose a deeper level of existence, one which my humanity alone cannot propel me to become, although I am constantly compelled to seek it out. (St. Augustine says of this magnetic attraction, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.” Frances Thompson’s Hound of Heaven has given me profound thinking about the flow of intelligent progression in which I try to discover my purpose. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6hNu8U7NSc Before I discover the way, I must learn what it means to be fully human as nature intended. The Father gives me life to go to the next step in my awareness of the meaning in life that moves me to the next step in my evolution, the way. The Father teaches us to appreciate life as we are its custodians.
- The Art of the Way– The Son, Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, became one of us to show us THE WAY. (Philippians 2:5-12). Note here that the Magister Noster is God the Father, and God the Son, who provides reason and free choice so that we might become more human. The problem with this Art of the Way is that its sign is the cross, an indicator that, to move forward, I must die to everything I know about the world and embrace another set of assumptions that are the opposite of what this human reason and choice tell me is true. This is not normal nor normative to those who just see what is in front of them in life and have no ability to move deeper into reality to ask questions about the essence of what is, which is invisible to the eye. Humans have to learn the way to use Faith informed by reason to at least move forward, even if what they move towards is unclear or doesn’t make sense. This happens only because The Christ Principle has loved us first and said, “Follow me. Step in the footsteps that I made with my passion, death, and resurrection. Just love others as I have loved you.” The Son teaches us the authentic path to walk to understand the complexities of original sin. It is dying to self so that a new reality that is the opposite of the world is deeper right in front of us. Most people can’t look there because of their lack of Faith.
- The Art of Truth — This TRUTH is the Holy Spirit and exists outside our human experience. We can’t know God using God’s attributes, only those characteristics of human beings, imperfect but “looking through a foggy glass,” as St. Paul writes. The Scriptures have authorized writings that show us THE TRUTH. The gift of the Holy Spirit to those adopted by the Father and befriended by Christ is the energy to live this cross, the contradiction of being a pilgrim in a foreign land. If the Father is the WHY, and the Son is the WHAT, then the Holy Spirit is the HOW in each age. We have gifts to help us on our collective journey as Church and also our personal journey. They are the gifts of Confirmation by the Holy Spirit, the ability to make all things new in Penance and Reconciliation, food for the daily journey of Christ Himself in Eucharist, Holy Orders, Matrimony, and Unction or Healing at the end of our lives. The Holy Spirit teaches those who embrace their new life as adopted sons and daughters and walk the path designed for them as adopted sons and daughters and shown by the map (Scriptures) to do so in the context of my life as I live out each day using the life and the way to embrace objective truth. This is not the objective truth the world thinks it gives, but the abandonment of everything I thought I knew as being so much straw (St. Thomas Aquinas) to discover that this is only the beginning of what it is like being caught up in the third heaven (St. Paul in 2 Corinthians 12)I must boast; not that it is profitable, but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord.
- The Art of Contemplative Practice: Transfering The Christ Principle to my life (as much as I can absorb). This is the “How” to the “What and Why” of the Christ Principle in my unique life. There is only One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, but my life is unique in that I alone can say YES or NO to the invitation and continuation of God’s triune WAY, TRHTH, and LIFE in me.
THE FOURTH INSCRUTABLE: The Christ Principle is the template of THE TRUTH.
THE CHRIST PRINCIPLE IS THE TEMPLATE OF TRUTH
Whenever I take a test, the instructor gives the test a series of questions in the case of The Divine Equation, and then I write out my answer based on the total life experiences of my life on this earth. The instructor then grades the test to see how close I came to the answer. The answers are all uniform, and there is usually only one correct answer, although the context will be unique to each individual. My point in all of this is to say that just because I answered each question doesn’t mean it is correct. It is correct because it conforms with what the instructor taught. These six questions of The Divine Equation have a template, one set of answers that are correct. In the case of this test, Christ, the instructor, has predetermined the correct answer and judges if I have answered it correctly. I don’t understand what is true, just because I took the test and gave some answer I thought was correct.
FIVE TYPES OF TEMPLATES I HAVE USED IN ANSWERING THE DIVINE EQUATION.
To know if my answers to the Divine Equation are correct, I must measure them against the template of truth based on the Magister Noster who created them. This is Jesus. “You shall know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” To determine what is true, I use my reason to ask how these four inscrutables can help to answer The Divine Equation. The Christ Principle is the one template that completely answers my questions about truth. Other templates have some properties but do not satisfy all four characteristics
THE CHRIST PRINCIPLE TEMPLATE
The person of Christ is the template, not a figment of the imagination or a cognitive construct.
The Christ Principle contains both divine nature and human and divine nature in Christ.
The answers to The Divine Equation come from the ones who asked humans the questions.
The WAY to discovering who you are as a human reached a barrier that only Christ can raise up. We simply tag along his WAY by walking where he walked and doing what He did.
The Lay Cistercian WAY is sunnonumous with Christ’s WAY.
Each human has a WAY they walk (usually seventy to eighty years, if they are strong). Each Lay Cistercian has a WAY they walk, which is unique. Christ is the WAY, and my challenge is to get as close to that WAY as my way can get. I do that through Cistercian practices and charisms and daily converting myself from my sinful self to my glorious self in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Christ Principle alone has the power of the Resurrection and Ascension to raise me up to the next level of my humanity– to claim my adoption as a son (daughter) of the Father and brother and friend to Christ.
The Christ Principle alone allows me to focus my energies on becoming fully human as nature intended.
The Christ Principle alone gives not only THE WAY, but THE TRUTH so that I can have THE LIFE of the adopted son (daughter) of the Father.
Walking Christ’s WAY, I use my Lectio Divina, Eucharist, Scriptures, Reading Early Church Fathers and Cistercian men and women, Rosary, in silence, solitude, work, and prayer, in the context of community, to seek God each day. I wait for the Lord. Pray this Psalm, with how to walk THE WAY with Christ. Each letter of the Hebrew Alphabet has a thought worth our prayers.
1. Do not be provoked by evildoers;
do not envy those who do wrong.a
2 Like grass they wither quickly;
like green plants they wilt away.b
3 Trust in the LORD and do good
that you may dwell in the land* and live secure.c
4 Find your delight in the LORD
who will give you your heart’s desire.d
5 Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will acte
6 And make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
your justice like noonday.f
7 Be still before the LORD;
wait for him.
Do not be provoked by the prosperous,
nor by malicious schemers.
8 Refrain from anger; abandon wrath;
do not be provoked; it brings only harm.
9 Those who do evil will be cut off,
but those who wait for the LORD will inherit the earth.g
10 Wait a little, and the wicked will be no more;
look for them and they will not be there.
11 But the poor will inherit the earth,h
will delight in great prosperity.
12 The wicked plot against the righteous
and gnash their teeth at them;
13 But my Lord laughs at them,i
because he sees that their day is coming.
14 The wicked unsheath their swords;
they string their bows
To fell the poor and oppressed,
to slaughter those whose way is upright.j
15 Their swords will pierce their own hearts;
their bows will be broken.
16 Better the meagerness of the righteous one
than the plenty of the wicked.k
17 The arms of the wicked will be broken,
while the LORD will sustain the righteous.
18 The LORD knows the days of the blameless;
their heritage lasts forever.
19 They will not be ashamed when times are bad;
in days of famine they will be satisfied.
20 The wicked perish,
enemies of the LORD;
They shall be consumed like fattened lambs;
like smoke they disappear.l
21 The wicked one borrows but does not repay;
the righteous one is generous and gives.
22 For those blessed by the Lord will inherit the earth,
but those accursed will be cut off.
23 The valiant one whose steps are guided by the LORD,
who will delight in his way,m
24 May stumble, but he will never fall,
for the LORD holds his hand.
25 Neither in my youth, nor now in old age
have I seen the righteous one abandonedn
or his offspring begging for bread.
26 All day long he is gracious and lends,
and his offspring become a blessing.
27 Turn from evil and do good,
that you may be settled forever.o
28 For the LORD loves justice
and does not abandon the faithful.
When the unjust are destroyed,
and the offspring of the wicked cut off,
29 The righteous will inherit the earth
and dwell in it forever.p
30 The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom;q
his tongue speaks what is right.
31 God’s teaching is in his heart;r
his steps do not falter.
32 The wicked spies on the righteous
and seeks to kill him.
33 But the LORD does not abandon him in his power,
nor let him be condemned when tried.
34 Wait eagerly for the LORD,
and keep his way;s
He will raise you up to inherit the earth;
you will see when the wicked are cut off.
35 I have seen a ruthless scoundrel,
spreading out like a green cedar.t
36 When I passed by again, he was gone;
though I searched, he could not be found.
37 Observe the person of integrity and mark the upright;
Because there is a future for a man of peace.u
38 Sinners will be destroyed together;
the future of the wicked will be cut off.
39 The salvation of the righteous is from the LORD,
their refuge in a time of distress.v
40 The LORD helps and rescues them,
rescues and saves them from the wicked,
because they take refuge in him.
* [Psalm 37] The Psalm responds to the problem of evil, which the Old Testament often expresses as a question: why do the wicked prosper and the good suffer? The Psalm answers that the situation is only temporary. God will reverse things, rewarding the good and punishing the wicked here on earth. The perspective is concrete and earthbound: people’s very actions place them among the ranks of the good or wicked. Each group or “way” has its own inherent dynamism—eventual frustration for the wicked, eventual reward for the just. The Psalm is an acrostic, i.e., each section begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Each section has its own imagery and logic.
I have accepted The Christ Principle as the WAY I will use to discover who I really am as an adopted son (daughter) of the Father, the final phase of human intelligent progression. There are other templates that I could follow but I choose this one as being the most authentic. Here are some other types of templates that I use in part but just don’t have the scope of reality nor the energy to bring me to that next level of my (and humanity’s) Omega.
THE SCIENTIFIC TEMPLATE — I use this template as a check to thinking of reality as whatever I believe it to be (e.g. I want to be a tree). The scientific template is my template of choice when I look at the physical reality. Scientific inquiry is about discovering the depths of the physical universe (macro as well as micro) using languages such as physics, mathematics, and chemistry, to name a few). This template fits very well over the physical and mental universes that look at visible reality. It falls short, for me, in that it has no energy to move me to that next level of my evolution, nor does it look at all of reality (it excludes the spiritual universe as being non-existent). When I apply the scientific template to the six questions of The Divine Equation, I do not find answers that transcend matter or time. For this reason, I render until Caesar that which is Caesar’s and to God that which is God’s. As a Canon Law Professor once told us, “Science teaches us how the heavens go; Spirituality teaches us how to go to heaven.”
THE SECULAR HUMANIST TEMPLATE — Most secular humanists, those who purposefully exclude any God stuff from how they look at what is true, use a combination of scientific inquiry and logic to make genuine conclusions about reality. I would argue that I am a genuine secular humanist, but one who seeks to learn about the fullness of what it means to be human, only I use The Christ Principle to get me there. These are radically different approaches to truth so each of us has a WAY to walk in order to discover THE TRUTH and so live LIFE as nature intended. I don’t care to prove anything by solving The Divine Equation using The Christ Principle. A secular humanist model whose assumptions are limited to visible reality and to the absence of God as the center of their lives, is, in my estimation, not for me.
THE RELATIVIST TEMPLATE— Relativism is the template of default by many people who tout freedom of expression and the right to choose whatever they want. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/relativism/ I do not spend a lot of time thinking about this template, nor do I associate with those who seem to hold its tenants.
THE ATHEISTIC TEMPLATE –– I love atheists, those that I know are genuinely seeking this template as a philosophy for life. If an atheist gives me smirky, snarky, sarcastic comments about god (notice the lowercase), then I usually discount them as I do those supposed Christians who denigrate those “others” who are not as self-righteous as themselves. Forgive me, but I think there will be more atheists in heaven than those who take upon themselves the judgment of being god. May God have mercy on all of us.