MARY STUART INSPIRED ME TO FIND A QUIET TRUTH

I had gall bladder removal surgery yesterday and am slowly getting back to normal (which is no small feat for me because I haven’t been normal for over twenty years). As I grow in awareness that I don’t know the full implications of the questions that I raise in my Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5), two approaches to my search for the nexus between science, philosophy, psychology, and religion (spirituality as I define it) have emerged in my thoughts. Both approaches are sides of the same coin, so this is not an “either-or” selection. I am resigned to this seeming conundrum.

The Tuesday after Easter Sunday, our community of Good Shepherd, Tallahassee, Florida, will gather together in Eucharistic adoration at the Mass to celebrate the 99th birthday of Mary Stuart Hartmann. Mary Stuart reminds me of Mrs. Murphy, which is quite a compliment. What follows are my thoughts about Mary Stuart that inspire me to think about the silence and quiet truth of just believing in Jesus.

THE SIMPLICITY OF TRUTH: The first is based on looking at the totality of all reality (remember, this is the reality that is the capsule of my life experiences that will be different from those you have lived through). The big picture view of my Lay Cistercian promises to seek God each day as I am. This approach is characterized by being more and more simple, realizing that the complexity of The Christ Principle is a tool, like the Ten Commandments, meant to be lived out so that my heart is prepared to sit on a park bench in the middle of winter and anticipate just being with the Being of Jesus. There are no steps to follow or fancy readings to inspire me to holiness, although these make me a better-informed person when I do them. I ask no questions, seek no answers, bring up no agenda, and do not call upon my background to “know” more. Rather, it is the conscious “kenosis” or emptying of my false self to make room for more love.

THE COMPLEXITY OF TRUTH: We humans only live one moment at a time. A succession of these moments gives continuity to what would otherwise be a fractured experience of holding on to one thought and focusing on it. All thoughts have a direction (there is always a beginning and an ending to everything, including each activity or mental awareness) and depth (or height, if you want). In dealing with The Christ Principle, my Lectio Divina thoughts have a beginning and an ending because I live in a world that continues to deteriorate around me. Still, I am also a citizen of the kingdom of heaven, which is incorruptible and has no limit to its depth.

My new awareness of these two approaches to truth and how they interact with each other has opened a new door to solving one of the most annoying and frustrating concepts about spirituality. This has to do with Mrs. Murphy’s character, originally presented to me in 1963 by the late Aidan Kavanaugh, O.S.B., in a class on sacramental theology. I have attached a blog I wrote about Mrs. Murphy so you can sketch out a backstory if you so desire. https://thecenterforcontemplativepractice.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=5689&action=edit

When Father Aidan told us that this simple person who sits on the backbench in the darkness of the Church, eyes lowered, smiling in the silence and solitude of her heart, knows more than all the great theologians who have ever lived, I was taken aback by it. From 1963 until last year, I struggled with how this could be true, even though I realized this was a fictional character. The distance it took me to continuously ponder this idea was considerable; the depth I had to reach the truth was also formidable and required stick-to-it-ness to realize any kind of assimilation into my thoughts from 1993.

This is what I realized. Mrs. Murphy is you or me as you approach the great, amorphous Mystery of Faith. Learned theologians and clerics devote their whole existence to acquiring more and more knowledge with the assumption that the more you know, the more you can love God. St. Thomas Aquinas told us that. Father Aidan was not the first to portray the simplicity in the complexity of knowing about God.

Any old woman can love God better than a doctor of theology can.” ~ Bonaventure

One day when Thomas Aquinas was preaching to the local populace on the love of God, he saw an old woman listening attentively to his every word. And inspired by her eagerness to learn more about her God whom she loved so dearly, he said to the people: It is better to be this unlearned woman, loving God with all her heart, than the most learned theologian lacking love.” ~ Thomas Aquinas

It did not click until this year that all the Scripture we read, the Liturgy of the Hours we pray, the Eucharist we share, and the contemplation where all of this comes together in The Christ Principle is not how much you know, although that is essential. The simplicity of a simple act of sitting on a park bench in the middle of winter in silence and solitude to wait for Christ is the meaning of Mrs. Murphy’s paradox. Seek out the precise reason there is complexity and become one with that goal of all contemplation. Waiting is not a passive activity but rather the only way to enter the kingdom of heaven. Don’t hurry! Don’t be afraid! Simplicity sits on the lap of complexity at its center. Being present to the heart of Christ is the purpose of Scriptures, Eucharist, and Cistercian practices following the Rule of St. Benedict.

These ideas on how to love others as Christ loved us form the basis of moving from my false self to the newness of life, especially at this time of the Resurrection. We celebrate that pure energy became subject to corruptibility because God loved humans, each one, one at a time. Mrs. Murphy is everyman, superman, the Blessed Mother, the Apostles. Each person in the church struggles to love God with all their hearts, minds, and strength and their neighbor as themselves. (Deuteronomy 6:5 and Matthew 22:38).

I experienced the closure of Mrs. Murphy’s seeming conundrum only to realize that it opened up to me an additional height, depth, and width (capacitas dei) I did not realize I had. What joy comes from sitting in that backbench before the Blessed Sacrament, in silence and solitude, in the company of the Church Universal, and feeling the heart of Christ beating, waiting for me to move from this kingdom of heaven to the next, in quiet anticipation of being one with my destiny as evolving to be fully human, to just be. My life is a vast THANKS to God for all His blessings.

Mary Stuart reminds me of Mrs. Murphy, who reflects the complexity of God in the simplicity of her life well-lived. We should all learn from the many Mary Stuarts to inspire us to love with our whole heart, our whole mind, our whole self, and our neighbor as ourselves. (Matthew 22:38) The complexity of truth is made simple in the heart of each person who just sits in the presence of Christ and waits, smiling at knowing that the love of Christ is everything.

Praise to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. The God who is, who was, and who is to come at the end of the ages. –Cistercian doxology

THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT

Remember the actor Flip Wilson and his characters.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kaiLcwHXB4 This is one of my favorite comedic routines, “The Devil Made Me Do It.” Geraldine blams the Devil on her buying a new dress. Sounds a lot like Genesis 1-2, where Eve blamed the Serpent for eating the fruit. We know the consequences, right?

The older I get, the more wisdom I hope to inform all the knowledge and experiences I have gleaned over the ages. I used to be satisfied with just knowing something. The World values memory, knowledge (along with the assumptions that accompany it), and the thinking that each person has the right to choose whatever value system they want, and not only that but what they choose is right. This thinking is seductive because it reinforces human choice, which seems to be at the core of being human. Let’s look deeper into the whole paradigm of evil and how it relates to our salvation by Christ.

If you ask what differentiates all life from the human species (Homo Sapiens), I come up with two attributes: we have reason for a reason, and we have the ability to choose for a reason. Using human reasoning, we can identify what is good for us and bad for us. Genesis 1-2 is the classic, archetypal story of how humans (Adam and Eve) chose poorly, and God gave them the path to be fully human again. The Original Sin is couched deep in the psyche of the human experience. God gave humans reason to be able to know what is good and what is evil. God gave humans the ability to choose because, to activate it, one must actually do something to make it happen. Adam and Eve missed what God had intended for them, even though he gave them reason. Clearly, reason is not enough when facing the choice of what is good for me or what is bad for me. This is why I hold that there has been a titanic battle going on since the fall of Lucifer and his choice to be God. This is why some people hold that they are gods and can determine what is good and evil. This is why some people hold that only God can give us the way, the truth, and the life. It is not the fact that we have choices that define us but what we choose as a result of choosing what is good or evil. The effects of Original Sin mean that, even with the forgiving power of God for the sin of Adam and Eve, we continue to struggle with temptation from the evil one.

THE EXISTENCE OF EVIL

We pray it every time we say the Lord’s Prayer, “and lead us not into temptation.” A better way to look at it is “Lord, do not abandon me when I am tempted.”

The big question for those who have been baptized in the blood of the Lamb is, “Is evil real?” and “Is there a Devil?” If you look at some movies and television shows, e.g., Lucifer, or Constantine, the answer might be “yes.” If you analyze evil from the viewpoint of science or psychology, the answer might be “no,” depending on who you read. What is real? That is the question, isn’t it?

Woven deep within the fabric of our Christian Faith is the notion of evil as personified by a fallen angel, Lucifer. It is part of the story of what it means to be human, as recounted in Genesis 1-2. This archetypal story of good and evil portrays God the Grand Gardner as making everything and then finding out He needs someone to tend his garden. What God makes is good, including Adam and Eve. It is only with Adam and Eve, different because God gifted them with reason and free choice, that this story continues. Choice means that someone must choose something for it to be activated. So, Adam and Eve are given a directive by God, “Do not eat of the fruit of the tree of good and evil. In the case o Adam and Eve, Genesis has a cunning serpent to represent Satan. Satan first tempts Eve with the sin of vanity and power, then Eve tempts Adam, and the consequences of that choice are Original Sin, a condition of corruption that all of us are born into. So, is this real? Depends?

THE PLACE NO ONE WANTS TO LOOK

My answer is contained in the book I wrote about the Foundations of Contemplative Spirituality, THE PLACE WHERE NO ONE WANTS TO LOOK. Here are six questions that all humans must ask and answer before they die. They are foundational questions that go to the heart of what it means to be human. Not everyone will agree with this, nor will they understand the significance of these archetypal questions. https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Dr.+Michael+F.+Conrad&i=stripbooks&ref=nb_sb_noss

I used to worry if someone would disagree with my hypotheses. Now, I am too old to care about comments. I think of myself as a dictation writer, writing whatever the Holy Spirit puts in my mind. Some of it will be folly for the Gentiles, and some will be a stumbling block to the Jews. It is a way to make sense out of the sign of contradiction, which everyone signed with the mark of salvation at Baptism has tattooed on their soul, the cross.

I am at the fourth question of those six questions, the others being:

1. What is the purpose of life?

2. What is your purpose within that purpose?

3. What does reality look like?

4. How does it all fit together?

5. How to love fiercely?

6. You know you are going to die. Now what?

At this late stage in my life, I am fixated on how all things are one in Christ.

John 12:32 32 And if I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all things to myself.

Reality contains three universes, each separate, each with its purpose and their own measurements.

EVIL IN THREE UNIVERSES

Let’s use the word “EVIL” from the perspective of three universes.

  • Physical universe: This is the foundation for finding ourselves in space and time. We play out an existence subject to the laws of nature. In this universe, Genesis says that God made everything that is and that it is good. Your pet dog or cat is not intrinsically evil but good. We follow the natural law,
  • Mental universe: This is the level where humans alone exist, although we also live with all others on the physical level at the same time. We are separated from all living things by two characteristics: we have the ability to reason, and we have the freedom to choose either what is good or what is evil. Genesis 1-2. We learn what it means to be human, to have a purpose, and what is good or bad for us. These two universes (physical and mental) are what St. Paul calls the World. We can say words such as love, peace, murder, and live life our way, have the truth that agrees with me alone and lives our life according to what pleases us. These words only contain what we have learned from humans or from nature. People in this universe are their own gods. The early church warned its members not to burn incense to Caesar. In this universe, no one can tell you what is good or bad for you except you. Genesis states that Adam and Eve were tempted by a snake (Satan) to choose what was good for them after God told them that they would die if they were at the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
  • Spiritual universe: This universe contains only those who have been redeemed by the blood of the lamb and signed with the mark of salvation, the cross. That takes an act of humility and obedience, the opposite of what Adam and Eve did in the garden. That same ole snake in the grass is there to whisper to our activities that will not allow us to go to Heaven. Here are two sources. I hope you read the one and look at the other. They explain why Christ had to become human nature to save us (from ourselves).
  • Romans 5 NRSVCE – 18 Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all. 19 For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 But law came in, with the result that the trespass multiplied; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, just as sin exercised dominion in death, so grace might also exercise dominion through justification[f] leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Evil lives in the realm of darkness, not light. It is invisible. The problem with invisibility is that you can’t see it. The darkness is not physical darkness but the spiritual darkness that comes as the wages of sin. Christ is the light that comes into the spiritual universe to enlighten the mind, enable the heart, and produce good works, that, when you let your light shine before others, they will see it and glorify your Father, the source of all light.

Hell on earth means the darkness of not knowing the way, the truth, and the life. Hell after death means you are in the darkness but now know what you should have chosen but did not.

The Resurrection Event lifts all humans up to have a chance to become adopted sons and daughters of the Father. Those who die without the benefit of The Christ Principle are judged accordingly.

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SEDUCED BY OUR WOUNDED NATURE

Holy Mother's Center

Humans have human nature. That sounds like a Yogi Berra truism, but there is a wisdom that belies this simple turn of phrase. The Book of Genesis, the archetypal story of our nature, points out that we humans are not God. Yet, as a result of the Original Sin, the principal sin we commit has to do with why we are so persistently opposed to God’s will for us and stubbornly obstinant at doing what is bad for us. All sin is rooted in the sin of Adam, that Archetypal sin of wanting to be God. Ever ask yourself why the Devil tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden? Satan is a fallen Archangel and made wanted to be like God and was banished from the presence of God as a consequence of his choice. Ever since then, Satan has tried to seduce humans to choose his thinking rather than God’s to get revenge on God. Original sin is the condition into which all humans are born, the condition St. Paul refers to as the World. Baptism takes away the Original Sin of Adam and Eve, but its effect still remains with me. Our nature does not change. What does change is that Christ is our Savior, the one who tells us, “follow me and I will help you through the minefields of life so that you can join me in Heaven, forever.” Christ shows us how to repel the temptations of the Devil. Satan is not God’s son, as the popular television show, Lucifer, suggests, but rather someone who is consumed by hatred, jealousy, and envy and wants other humans to hate God as much as he does. Some believe that some do not. You are free to believe whatever you want. I must keep myself vigilant in being a Lay Cistercian because Satan most definitely uses our weaknesses and wounded nature to think that we don’t need God, only ourselves.

This idea was part of my Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5) when I meditated on the real meaning of sin. What follows are at least three temptations that Satan and his demons use to seduce my hope in the Resurrection and my Lay Cistercian practices. In a way, these three temptations are like the three temptations that Christ experienced in the desert. All of us have at least three of them. What are the three temptations that the Devil uses to seduce you as you practice taking up your cross daily to follow Christ?

My three temptations are about the three most important principles in my life, all part of my center. The Devil tries by any means available to make a crack in the foundation of this temple of the Holy Spirit. I confess to having some minor cracks, but I patched them up with Christ in the Sacrament of Forgiveness. I will experience the struggle of doing God’s will versus my own will for as long as I live.

LOVING GOD WITH ALL MY HEART, WITH ALL MY MIND AND WITH ALL MY STRENGTH AND MY NEIGHBOR AS MYSELF (Deuteronomy 6:5 and Matthew 22:36). That doesn’t sound like a temptation, does it? In the Garden of Eden, in the second story of creation, two trees are mentioned, the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God says to Adam and Eve that he wants them to be his gardeners of the garden of Eden but warns them not to eat of this second tree. This is like mom and dad telling us not to do something with the result that we often do just that very thing.

Genesis 2 NRSVCE – 15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.”

The temptation comes when I try to love God using my energy. It always falls short of loving with ALL my heart, so I just give us as being impossible. Actually, it is in the act of consistently trying repeatedly that makes the human love that I have transformed by the addition of the power of the Holy Spirit. With Christ, I can do all things.

WHEN CONFESSING MY SINS TO A PRIEST, ALL I NEED TO DO IS TELL HIM WHAT I WANT HIM TO HEAR, THEN GOD WILL AUTOMATICALLY FORGIVE ME. Not so fast! Confessing my sins is all about admitting to another person (who is given the power of Christ to forgive) my need to make all things new in my life, again, then having a firm purpose of amendment not to sin again. Who are you trying to fool? You can’t just say you are sorry for your sins and then go out and do them again. There is a big difference between knowing you can go out and sin as much as you want because you have a free pass to heaven with Baptism and sincerely knowing that what you do is bad and trying not to do it again. One is a perversion, and the other is conversion. You simply can’t fool God.

LIFE IS ALL ABOUT STORING UP RICHES IN THE MATERIAL WORLD. We can even be seduced by thinking that the word “riches” means possessions. We have to store up our treasures in this life to take to the next life in heaven. Only the rich get to heaven, but it is not your riches you must pack in your suitcase, but what God considers riches. And what are they? Read what a Catholic website has to say about these treasures. https://www.loyolapress.com/catholic-resources/scripture-and-tradition/catholic-basics/catholic-beliefs-and-practices/gifts-of-the-holy-spirit/

“In the Book of Isaiah 11:2-3, the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are described. In the passage, the gifts are considered ones that the Messiah would have possessed. Through Jesus, we also receive the Gifts of the Holy Spirit in the Sacrament of Confirmation.

Wisdom helps us recognize the importance of others and the importance of keeping God central in our lives.

Understanding is the ability to comprehend the meaning of God’s message.

Knowledge is the ability to think about and explore God’s revelation and recognize there are mysteries of faith beyond us.

Counsel is the ability to see the best way to follow God’s plan when we have choices related to him.

Fortitude is the courage to do what one knows is right.

Piety helps us pray to God in true devotion.

Fear of the Lord is the feeling of amazement before God, who is all-present, and whose friendship we do not want to lose.

Those are some of the riches you can take with you to Heaven.

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THE DIVINE EQUATION: THE IMPORTANCE OF ASSUMPTIONS

ASSUMPTIONS UNDERPINNING THE DIVINE EQUATION

For some reason, always unknown to me, the notion of The Divine Equation popped up in my Lectio Divina this morning. I have been writing down what I have received from the Holy Spirit without totally knowing what I am writing but hoping to put the pieces together gradually. I realized that I am unique in all the World with my view of what reality looks like but that I must exercise my reason to being into the Equation not only my Faith but the Faith of the Church, the Church Universal as it has been since the time of Christ. The Church is like a bank, housing the wisdom of those who have not only written the Gospel and Epistles in the New Testament but also preserving how those in each age use their assumptions to live out what it means to die to self to rise with Christ to new life, again and again, until death. The Divine Equation might mean something different to you and to me. What the words mean depends on how I interpret them according to the total accumulation of my knowledge, what I learned about the purpose of life, and what my purpose in life is. The differences are assumptions I make about what the words mean. Assumptions are those hidden ideas in my head that prompt me to say something in a particular way. You may not know what those hidden ideas are unless you ask. Guessing about assumptions in what another person says is called assumicide.

Back to the Divine Equation. “Divine” in the Divine Equation does not mean it is an equation that proves who God is or defines once and for all God’s nature, which is impossible with mere human languages. I assume that “Divine” means that the six questions and their authentic answers come from a power higher than ourselves and outside our human nature. The Divine Equation gives humans what it means to be fully human nature and the result of human evolution.

The tool I use to look at reality is The Rule of Three. I have not always used it but only recently discovered it in one of my Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5) sessions.

Using The Rule of Three, the first universe is one in which all reality exists, the base of our existence. It exists quite independently of whether humans know about it or not. Humans have evolved with special tools or capabilities to look at this physical universe and ask why and how questions in the next universe, the mental one. Only humans live in the mental universe. The questions I had were: Why are we the only ones that know that we know? Know what? Is there a purpose to all reality and an endpoint to which all matter and energy aspire? This leads me to posit that there must be a roadblock in our human evolution over which human progression has no control. Humanity exists in a condition of corruption (everything has a beginning and an end, there is pain, there is a choice of evil, people die). Humanity needed help to jump to the next level of its evolution to fulfill its destiny. I hold that the spiritual universe is the universe that allows humanity to move forward toward what is intended in nature. The problem comes when this spiritual universe is one where each person must enter on their own using the experiences of a lifetime. This problem is that humans by themselves (the World) don’t possess the energy needed to raise their seventy or eighty years to the next level of evolution. This level is one of incorruptibility and is the opposite of what The World says is needed to be fully human.

The Christ Principle offers humanity the capability to reach the destiny intended for the human race. Humans that so choose are given a special sign at their Baptism. They can lead a double life (they live in the corruptibility of matter and the mind but are accepted by pure energy as being adopted sons and daughters of the Father.) This is dual citizenship where we struggle with the effects of corruption (pain, temptations to be evil in our hearts, and death, to name a few) and yet are a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven, which is incorruptible. This is the price we pay for the price Christ paid for our incorruptibility.

MY ASSUMPTIONS AS A LAY CISTERCIAN AS I COMMENT ABOUT SPIRITUAL REALITY

Assumptions are like icebergs; what you see, hear, taste, touch, and feel and thus know about the reality around you at any moment always has something deeper involved; in this case, my assumptions that you cannot see unless I share them.

Assumptions are like icebergs.

All assumptions are important because how I look at reality (and how you view the same situation) is different. Each of us looks at who God is by using our assumptions about who I am. God may be one, but each human has the potential to be an adopted son or daughter of the Father with Baptism or with God’s mercy in the case of those who do not know The Christ Principle. Assumptions are the frame of reference that shape how I think about anything. Assumptions can change by adding or detracting from what we believe or act. Assumptions might be good or destructive to how you view what is morally correct. If you assume that stealing is acceptable as long as you don’t get caught, your behavior follows. Ex fructibus cognocsetis. Watch how a person acts, and it will tell you what is in their heart.

False Prophets.*

15“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves.k

16l By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?

17Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit.

18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit.

19Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

20So by their fruits, you will know them.m

The True Disciple.

21“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven,* but only the one who does the will of my Father in Heaven. n

22Many will say to me on that day,o ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’p

23Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you.* Depart from me, you evildoers.’q

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/matthew/7

Use this full text to ponder in your heart about what assumptions you hold about being next to the heart of Christ in contemplation. Take some time with this practice.

REFLECTIONS

What follows are some cryptic statements that I hold due to having made The Christ Principle one of my assumptions. My belief is not your belief because my assumptions are not your assumptions.

“I am not you; you are not me; God is not me; and I am certainly not God.”

I have chosen that God is the center of my life and not my false self.

Each day, I begin from scratch in seeking God. But each day, I have also changed in my capacity to seek God.

My prayer life is my life of prayer for the whole day, not just during Lectio Divina, Eucharist, Reading Scripture, Rosary, and Praying the Penitential Psalms.

Each day, I make the sign of the cross on my forehead to remind me that I am but a sinful person whom God has graced with discovering The Divine Equation using the energy of the Holy Spirit.

All I seek is to wait in the presence of God before the Blessed Sacrament and be near the heart of Christ.

Profound waiting in the stillness of my heart as I assimilate the love of Christ as He loved me, using the power of the Holy Spirit.

I use the Rule of Threes with nearly every word I utter. The Rule of Threes states that there is one reality with three distinct and separate universes corresponding to the nature of God, the nature of animality to rationality, and the nature of rationality to spirituality.

I assume that when I am accepted as an adopted son (daughter) of the Father, I inherit the Kingdom of Heaven on earth and become a caretaker (like Adam and Eve) of the World that I experience.

I assume that I do not speak for anyone else but only relate what I receive from the Holy Spirit. That depends on my assumptions as one who receives from the Spirit. What that means depends on the assumptions that you make with your life about The Divine Equation. In the Divine Equation, God’s questions and answers are the ones that are authentic and make us fully human as intended by our evolution.

  • What is the purpose of life?
  • What is my purpose within that purpose of life?
  • What does reality look like?
  • How does it all fit together?
  • How do I love fiercely?
  • You know you are going to die. Now what?

I have been accepted as a Lay Cistercian by the Monastery of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia, to follow the Rule of St. Benedict, as interpreted by Cistercian practices and charisms and confirmed through its principles and policies.

My center is: “Have in you the mind of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5)

Each day, because of the corruption of human nature due to Adam and Eve (Genesis 2-3), I must keep vigil against the World’s temptations to substitute the words I use to become more like Christ with what the World says is meaningful. They are the exact words, such as “peace,” “love,” “What it means to be human?” and “How does all this fit together?”

I have pledged my life to the conversion of my morals to become more like Christ and less like me, a paradox that the World will never understand or accept.

I live in a world until I die where I have dual citizenship, that of being in the physical and mental World. Still, I have been accepted by God as a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, which leads to my continuing after I die in Heaven.

The one rule I follow is to love others as Christ loved me.

The New Commandment.

31* When he had left, Jesus said,* “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.

32[If God is glorified in him,] God will also glorify him in himself, and he will glorify him at once.r

33My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. You will look for me, and as I told the Jews, ‘Where I go, you cannot come,’ so now I say it to you.s

34I give you a new commandment:* love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.t

35This is how all will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.”

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/john/13

Scripture is there for me to clarify humans’ assumptions about how to love each other as Christ loved us. (John 20:30-31)

In my attempt to sanctify each moment, I realize that I must become what I pray for and that the moment has depths I have yet to discover. You can always pray deeper.

When I use the term “The Rule of Threes,” I assume that there are three phases of evolution:

The Physical Universe is the universe of all matter, including all living species, including humans. It is the world into which we are born for our 70 to 80-year sprint to find purpose and solve The Divine Equation. This universe is the object of scientific inquiry and the foundation of all living things. One of the purposes of this universe is to sustain the mental universe while it searches for meaning and fulfillment as a human. It is the visible universe.

The Mental Universe – only humans live in this universe, but we need the physical universe to sustain us. St. Paul terms these two universes as living in the World. It is the universe where we look for meaning by looking at the physical universe and asking questions. This universe combines visibility and invisibility so we can discover reality in these two elements.

The Spiritual Universe—Here is where it gets tricky. The spiritual universe is only in the invisible realm, while we humans also live in the physical and mental universes as our base. In this universe, we seek to discover the purpose of the other two universes (physical and mental) by using invisible reality. In addition, each person must choose to enter this universe voluntarily. By accepting the invitation of God to become adopted sons and daughters of the Father (the prototype is the Blessed Mother who first accepted God’s invitation), each human receives dual citizenship. When we die, life is changed, not ended, and we move on to fulfilling what it means to be human in Heaven. There is only one reality, just as there is only one God.

When I use the word “string,” I am inspired by the science of Quantum mechanics and string theory. My notion of string theory is that unseen forces exist that link the physical, mental, and spiritual universes (viewed simultaneously). These forces do not contain matter or energy as we know it from Quantum Mechanics or Relativity but are threads that bind the purposes of each universe together as one.

The purpose of three distinct and separate universes is:

The physical universe is the base for matter, energy, time, and life as we know it. It is the visible universe against which all life, including humans, fulfills its purpose.

The mental universe is an aberration of sorts. Humans are the only ones that know that we know and can choose something outside of the natural fabric of their nature. Humans have more than one choice. Humans evolved from animality for a reason. The mental universe allows humans to ask interrogatory questions and discover meaning by looking at the physical universe. Why do humans have the ability to reason and to choose? Choose what? This universe allows us to look at what is visible around us and probe what is invisible. The mental universe is a bridge or an interim capability to move to something. What is that unresolved something that we can’t see?

The third universe, existing simultaneously with the other two, is the answer to the first two trends. Humans could never have reasoned or discovered the spiritual universe with logic, science, or any human language. God had to take on human nature to tell us and show us how to use the spiritual universe to fulfill our destiny. The reason is that the next phase in human evolution is voluntary, not tied to matter or physical energy. Not only is it voluntary, but each individual must choose to enter it. That takes knowledge, love, and service on the part of each human to say YES to creation, YES to accept the invitation to be adopted sons and daughters of the Father, and being able to “see” reality invisible because of human reasoning. We have a cosmic evolution all pointing to me as I live my seventy or eighty years (or whatever) to give me the chance to say YES to the fulfillment of my species, incorruptibility. (Philippians 2:5) God’s DNA or fingerprints are on each atom, each galaxy or Sun, each cell, the hairs of our head are numbered, and we are shown how to love others as Christ loved us. With all due respect to B.F. Skinner, this spiritual universe is dying to the human self so that we can rise to incorruptibility. It is not without struggle nor danger (The Devil wants us to fail).

THE LAST BLOG I EVER WRITE

The title suggests that the blog you now read is the last one I will ever write. I don’t mean that. My Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5) meditation is “If you could write one short paragraph, summing up everything you have learned about the purpose of life and your purpose within it, what would that be?”

Everything I know moves from simplicity to complexity. As I approach the end of my life, I bear the weight of all those crosses I have lifted each day as I tried to have in me the mind of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5). I carry on my body and my spirit the many cuts and bruises that come from struggling against the Devil. I am a flawed person who is redeemed by the sign of the cross. It is heavy, and I am tired of carrying my cross (even with the help of Christ). It dawned on me that all I have been doing is what the world says I should do, even denying myself and taking up my cross daily to follow Christ. I realized that I should have been seeking simplicity, the simplicity of Christ, who gives glory to the Father eternally with the energy of the Holy Spirit.

In all my studies about God and being busy with God stuff, it was always right in front of me. My Lectio Divina is critically important because I choose to sit on a bench in the middle of winter and wait for Jesus. Yes, I know that Jesus is there. What I wait for is for me to show up to be in the presence of the heart of Christ and hear that heartbeat.

There is simplicity in being a Lay Cistercian or any approach that places THE WAY, THE TRUTH, and THE LIFE as your center, The Christ Principle, then just waiting in the stillness of spiritual time. Humans are not built to wait. We must do something or be something. We must fill all empty holes with everything but the one thing that fills us and makes us realize what it means to be human and why I am loved. This is waiting to be completely human.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever. The God who is, who was, and who will be, at the end of the ages. –Cistercian doxology

DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO

The “Don’t tell me” generation goes back a long way. In fact, it is recorded in the Book of Genesis, Chapters 2-3. The classic archetype of humans is one with fundamental flaws yet whose nature is good. Individually, not so much so. We have reason and free choices, but the choices are sometimes destructive to our purpose. Such is the conflict in the human mind that, when someone tells us to do something we don’t want, we either avoid them completely or just ignore them.

There is a dynamic at work in how the individual human chooses anything. Rights are confused with the choices that are right for me or destructive. Freedom to choose what is good has morphed into anything I choose for me is good, and no one can tell me differently.

There are essentially two approaches to making choices in this flotsam jetsom of competing values we inherit.

The first choice is that all morals and values come from within me. Actually, that is essentially correct. When we are born, we are born of the human species with the capability to reason and make choices. What we choose depends on our capacity to search around us and see what is good or bad for us. No one can tell me what to do if I don’t want to hear it. I may have no choice in the matter, such as getting a job or paying taxes, but all things equal, I can say NO to anything. Of course, all choices come with the consequences resulting from that choice. If I choose to rob a bank, then get caught, I must pay the price that society imposes on this action, which we call a crime. If I choose to attend Florida State University, granted that I am accepted, I must follow their rules, which I agree to do. If I do so and make the grade, I am graduated with some kind of degree (consequences).

The second choice is that, although all morals and values come from within me, I freely accept that what I choose comes from a power outside of myself. Knowing that I am the center of all reality (for my seventy or eighty years, if I am lucky), I realize that what is good for me, in terms of my purpose, can only be fulfilled by going outside of myself with a power that is beyond my capability.

Put another way, I recognize that I must live in three universes (physical, mental, and spiritual) to reach the fulfillment of my species as a human, rather than relying on what the world has to offer me (the physical and mental universes alone). The problem comes when I realize that all spiritual approaches to life won’t lead me to fulfill my purpose in life and my individual purpose within that set of assumptions. I am trying to say that it is only when we give away our precious gift of choice to make God’s choices based on how I view the reality that we actually fulfill what it means to be human.

When I say to God, “For Thine is the kingdom and the power, and the glory….forever,” I pledge my obedience to a way of life that contradicts what the world says is its purpose (power, money, fame, fortune, sex without love, control). That doesn’t make sense to the world, hence the dissonance I feel. The dissonance this causes to my human penchant for control is strong, yet, it is denying that self in favor of gaining something transcendent that I become more human.

In Baptism, I receive citizenship as the Father’s adopted son (daughter). That means I pledge to obey God’s word in my heart and serve others with love as Christ did for us. Because of the dissonance of Original Sin, my life is a battle between the citizenship of the world (until I die) on top of my dual citizenship as a member of the Body of Christ, which restores me to resonance with all that is, as it should be.

The tension that I feel when I try to do Lectio Divina go to Eucharist, pray the Divine Office, and Read Holy Scriptures, is between my false self trying to reassert power over my movement to my true self. The tension itself is a prayer and makes my conquering or dying to self all the more a gift from me to God in thanksgiving for the energy of the Holy Spirit to lift me up to a new level of humanity, one loved by Love itself.

Rather than denying my resistance to moving from my false self to my true self, paradoxically, it is when I accept that the gift I offer to the Father through Christ with the power of the Holy Spirit is the one that he doesn’t already possess. Obedience is conversio morae every day. Just as the weeds in your front yard will grow, and you can’t stop that natural process, your belief also needs nourishment and re-centering each day to keep from spiritual atrophy. As a Lay Cistercian, I have promised to use the Rule of St. Benedict as interpreted by the statues and policies of the Cistercians (Trappists in particular). I must constantly pray that I do not enter into temptation. Some days are better than others.

“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.”

What thoughts should you have about obedience and the freedom to choose?

LOVE: OUR MOST ILLUSIVE REALITY

LOVE IS LIKE A VALENTINE CARD

Love has two dimensions: the mind (knowledge and logic) and the heart (emotion and feeling). Remember when you were in Third Grade, and everyone exchanged Valentine’s Day cards? What did you do when you went home that day? Did you put them in a special spot in your drawer where you could pull them out and look at them frequently? Did you think of the person who gave you the card with affection? Did you feel a sense of warmth and pleasure? Love is one of the ways humans are different from other living things. It is a form of communication between two persons, heart, heart, thinking of others, wanting to help others. It can be with two humans or groups of humans. It can be between single persons, homosexuals, heterosexuals, groups of people, with families and relatives. Love is a human phenomenon. Love does not exist between animals or between animals and humans, although we can love our pets. Animals can’t love back, but they do have affection. So, what is this love? It is one of the thresholds through which all of us must pass.

Mature love is so much more than a Valentine’s Day card. Here are Eric Fromm’s five criteria for authentic loving with some thoughts about both dimensions of the head and the heart.

Fromm says, “immature love says: ‘I love you because I need you.’ Mature love says ‘I need you because I love you.'”
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/erich_fromm_100716

MY THOUGHTS

  • Love is thinking of the one you love all the time.
  • Love is anticipating the one you love and seeking to help them in whatever way that can make them better.
  • Love is having their picture on your desk and in your heart

KNOWLEDGE—

  • Love is wanting to know as much as you can about your love.
  • Love is wanting the one you love to know as much about you as possible.

CARE

  • Love is patient with the one you love as they explore life.
  • Love is forgiving others and realizing that you are not perfect.

GIVING

  • Love knows that your loved one likes A-1 sauce on their steak, and you make sure you buy it at the store.
  • Love is learning the art of receiving from your loved ones, allowing them to love you in return.

RESPECT

  • Respect is wanting your love to succeed and do what it takes to ensure they meet their goals in life.
  • Love is taking the time to tame your other, waiting for them to grow and mature.

It is the realization that in God speaking to you, you delude yourself into thinking you speak for God. If you say you love someone but don’t do anything to show it, there may not be love there but just your representation of what it means in your own mind. Similarly, if you receive Faith from God but hide it under a bushel basket and don’t do anything with it, there may not be Faith there but just your representation that you have made yourself into God.

A LAY CISTERCIAN AND LOVE: There are no answers needed

  • My wife asks me repeatedly, why would you go to Conyers, Georgia, to the Monastery to pray on Gathering Day every month when you can pray in Tallahassee? I can’t answer that in a two-universe reality (physical and mental). There is no answer other than love. When I say “love” here, it is not the “love” that the world knows. The ” love ” says, “We only know love because Christ has loved us first.”
  • Love in two universes is good, but it may or may not get you to Heaven. Love in two universes (physical and mental) is helping others and finding meaning for all the reasons listed above. Love in three universes (physical, mental and spiritual) is all the reasons listed by Eric Fromm, but we are conscious that we must always love others as Christ loved us. Christ is the multiplier effect, why we have reason, why love is the purpose of all life.
  • When some look at monks and nuns who leave the World to embrace love in a lifetime of contemplation in silence and solitude, they think of a waste of humanity. It makes perfect sense for those who center themselves in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5).
  • When married couples grow together physically, mentally, and spiritually, love means more than just the union of two spirits. It is the fulfillment of human nature in each person.
  • Marriage helps me grow in Christ.
  • Marriage is not the purpose of life; the purpose of marriage is life.
  • Jesus tells us that there is no marriage or giving in marriage in heaven, but there is Love. In fact, Love is all there is.
  • Love is a mystery to me that unfolds as I grow in the capacity to become more like Christ, who told us to love others as He loved us. I don’t know what love is in this sense, but I have a good idea of what it is not.

THE DIVINE EQUATION: Assumptions make us who we are as humans

To wander through the high grass of the English language is to walk through paths that are sometimes strewn with weeds among the wildflowers. The communication problem becomes one of learning to delve into the assumptions underlying the words we use. For example, to say the word “Love” might mean one thing to my wife but something else to me, both of which would be correct according to how it is interpreted.

This is, at least in part, due to how each individual human places meaning on the words that we speak. We receive meaning from languages with the sum total of our life experiences and both successes and failures we have endured. We are the sum of the choices we make and their consequences. I am not a physician and do not know the language of medicine, although medicine affects us significantly. I am a user but not a practitioner.

Five people might read the phrase, “You must deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me,” and yet react in five different ways.

  • The atheist thinks it means that it confirms that his thinking about Christians is true and that they are crazy.
  • The Protestant minister thinks that it means that he must bear his burdens with the help of Jesus each day.
  • The Jewish rabbi thinks that it means life is rough sometimes, and you have to accept failures and successes.
  • The Catholic nun thinks that it means she must die to herself to move from her false self to her true self.
  • Teenagers in high school think everyone is out of their mind as they place earphones on to listen to Kiss.

Whatever these people think, they think based on their assumptions about what the words mean. What the words mean depends upon the uniqueness of their lives and where they are in terms of their center (the one principle that, if you took it away, nothing makes sense).

This may lead you to believe that assumptions are not important to how we look at reality. Truth be told, they are actually the foundation and reason we think the way we do. When we recite the Creed at the Eucharist each Sunday, each individual does so using the assumptions they have formed through a lifetime of trial and error. These assumptions are how each interprets reality and form the basis of Belief. The assumptions we use when we believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth, are the limits of our individual experiences, both good and evil. Like snowflakes, no two of us relate to God in the same way. That is neither good nor bad, but rather how humans process any information with our senses.

Genesis 2-3, the most eloquent of commentaries on what it means to be human and live in a morally corrupt world and yet be destined to live in incorruptibility, speaks of how human nature has the freedom to eat of the knowledge of good and evil yet is forbidden by God to do so under pain of death (the wage of sin is still death). The choices we make today about what is good or bad for us, as those who inherit the consequences of the sin of Adam and Eve, we make assumptions that come either from ourselves or from a power outside of ourselves.

As a Lay Cistercian who tries to seek God each day in this land of the lost we call the world, I try to solve The Divine Equation each day. To review, The Divine Equation are those six questions each human must answer to be able to become fully human. The Divine in The Divine Equation denotes both the questions and the correct answers come from God. They are the answers to what is good and evil and from what is its origin.

ASSUMPTIONS UNDERPINNING THE DIVINE EQUATION

For some reason, always unknown to me, the notion of The Divine Equation popped up in my Lectio Divina this morning. I have been writing down what I myself have received from the Holy Spirit without totally knowing what I am writing but hoping to gradually put the pieces together. I realized that I am unique in all the world with my view of what reality looks like but that I must exercise my reason to being into the Equation not only my Faith but the Faith of the Church, the Church Universal as it has been since the time of Christ. The Church is like a bank, housing the wisdom of those who have not only written the Gospel and Epistles in the New Testament but also preserving how those in each age use their assumptions to live out what it means to die to self to rise with Christ to new life, again and again, until death.

The Divine Equation might mean something different to you and to me. What the words mean depends on how I interpret them according to the total accumulation of my knowledge, what I learned about the purpose of life, and what my purpose in life is. The differences are assumptions I make about what the words mean. Assumptions are those hidden ideas in my head that prompt me to say something in a particular way. You may not know what those hidden ideas are unless you ask. Guessing about assumptions in what another person says is called assumicide.

Back to the Divine Equation. “Divine” in the Divine Equation does not mean it is an equation that proves who God is or defines once and for all God’s nature, which is impossible with mere human languages. I assume that “Divine” means that the six questions and their authentic answers come from a power higher than ourselves and outside our human nature. The Divine Equation gives humans what it means to be fully human nature and the end result of human evolution.

MY ASSUMPTIONS AS A LAY CISTERCIAN AS I COMMENT ABOUT SPIRITUAL REALITY

Assumptions are like icebergs; what you see, hear, taste, touch, and feel and thus know about the reality around you at any moment always has something deeper involved; in this case, my assumptions that you cannot see unless I share them.

Assumptions are like icebergs.

All assumptions are important because how I look at reality (and how you view the same situation) is different. Each of us looks at who God is by using our assumptions about who I am. God may be one, but each human has the potential to be an adopted son or daughter of the Father with Baptism or with God’s mercy in the case of those who do not know The Christ Principle. Assumptions are the frame of reference that shape how I think about anything. Assumptions can change by adding or detracting from what we believe or how we act. Assumptions might be good or destructive to how you view what is morally correct. If your assumption is that stealing is acceptable as long as you don’t get caught, your behavior follows. Ex fructibus cognocsetis. Watch how a person acts, and it will tell you what is in their heart.

False Prophets.*

15“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves.k

16l By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?

17Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit.

18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit.

19Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

20So by their fruits you will know them.m

The True Disciple.

21“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven,* but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.n

22Many will say to me on that day,o ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’p

23Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you.* Depart from me, you evildoers.’q

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/matthew/7

Use this full text to ponder in your heart about what assumptions you hold about being next to the heart of Christ in contemplation. Take some time with this practice.

What follows are some cryptic statements that I hold due to having made The Christ Principle one of my assumptions.

  • “I am not you; you are not me; God is not me; and I am certainly not God.”
  • I have freely chosen that God is the center of my life and not my false self.
  • Each day, I begin from scratch in seeking God. But each day, I have also changed in my capacity to seek God.
  • My prayer life is my life of prayer for the whole day, not just during Lectio Divina, Eucharist, Reading Scripture, Rosary, and Praying the Penitential Psalms.
  • Each day, I make the sign of the cross on my forehead to remind me that I am but a sinful person whom God has graced with discovering The Divine Equation using the energy of the Holy Spirit.
  • All I seek is to wait in the presence of God before the Blessed Sacrament and be near the heart of Christ.
  • Profound waiting in the stillness of my heart as I assimilate the love of Christ as He loved me, using the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • I use the Rule of Threes with nearly every word I utter. The Rule of Threes states that there is one reality with three distinct and separate universes corresponding to the nature of God, the nature of animality to rationality, and the nature of rationality to spirituality.
  • I assume that when I am accepted as an adopted son (daughter) of the Father, I inherit the kingdom of heaven on earth and become a caretaker (like Adam and Eve) of the world that I experience.
  • I assume that I do not speak for anyone else but only relate what I myself receive from the Holy Spirit. What that means depends on my assumptions as one who receives from the Spirit. What that means depends on the assumptions that you make with your life about The Divine Equation. In the Divine Equation, God’s questions and answers are the ones that are authentic and make us fully human as intended by our evolution.
  • What is the purpose of life?
  • What is my purpose within that purpose of life?
  • What does reality look like?
  • How does it all fit together?
  • How do I love fiercely?
  • You know you are going to die. Now what?
  • I have been accepted as a Lay Cistercian by the Monastery of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia, to follow the Rule of St. Benedict, as interpreted by Cistercian practices and charisms and confirmed through its principles and policies.
  • My center is: “Have in you the mind of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5)
  • Each day, because of the corruption of human nature due to Adam and Eve (Genesis 2-3), I must keep vigil against the world’s temptations to substitute the words I use to become more like Christ with what the world says is meaningful. They are the same words, such as “peace,” “love,” “What it means to be human?” and “How does all this fit together?”
  • I have pledged my life to the conversion of my morals to become more like Christ and less like me, a paradox that the world will never understand or accept.
  • I live in a world until I die, where I have dual citizenship, that of being in the physical and mental world, but I have been accepted by God as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven on earth, which leads to my continuing after I die in heaven.
  • The one rule I follow is to love others as Christ loved me.

The New Commandment.

31* When he had left, Jesus said,* “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.

32[If God is glorified in him,] God will also glorify him in himself, and he will glorify him at once.r

33My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. You will look for me, and as I told the Jews, ‘Where I go you cannot come,’ so now I say it to you.s

34I give you a new commandment:* love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.t

35This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/john/13
  • Scripture is there for me to clarify humans’ assumptions about how to love each other as Christ loved us. (John 20:30-31)
  • In my attempt to sanctify each moment, I realize that I must become what I pray for and that the moment has depths that I have yet to discover. You can always pray deeper.

Praise to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. The God who is, who was, and who is to come at the end of the ages. –Cistercian doxology

HOW BIG IS YOUR WORLD?

There is nothing more challenging in life than moving or growing in awareness of your environment. The most basic and fundamental unit is the human person, who comes into being with two other persons’ consent and lives for seventy or eighty years, if lucky.

I would like you to accompany me on a Lectio Divina I took a few months ago when I was thinking about trying to save the world because of the Ukraine invasion by Russia. The term “World” can mean many things depending on your assumptions about what it means to be in the world (small caps). This

  1. I am born into the world that is my mother’s womb, dark, nourishing, safe, and protected from the corruption of what is outside. I am born into corruptibility, having a beginning to my life and deteriorating (some call it physical maturity) until I reach an end in the future. I am fragile and depend upon my mom and dad for my existence. I am dependent on others. Someone must feed me, clean me, help me sleep, and take me to the doctor when sick.
  2. As I deteriorate (grow), I do so in my crib, my world. My senses become attuned to picking up sounds and language so I can begin to interact with my surroundings and be in charge of my space.
  3. My world is now one of discovery, and I use my crib not to cage myself but as a place to sleep at night while my world becomes my house. I learn to speak in languages where I can tell people what I want. I try to control my space and let people know if I don’t like something. I learn what works to help me get what I want and what does not, depending on those around me less and less for food and play.
  4. My world is ever-expanding now, and I realize there is life outside of my house. I go to church. I go to school. I keep maturing in taking control of my environment. My choices are limited to what my parents want and say is good for me. I comply or not, depending on my emotional stability and personality type. As I learn what is good and bad for me, I assimilate choices into how I now try to control others. I get my way sometimes, but other times, I don’t.
  5. My world is now high school and then college, a conveyor belt I am on but don’t quite know where it takes me. People I love die, get sick, have cancer, or have an addiction to drugs or alcohol, and I see the consequences of their lives on me and those around me. I still like to control my destiny, but there are some hard lessons I must learn.
  6. My world is now beyond my city and state. I push the boundaries of my world by traveling and sipping the pleasures of human sexuality. My choices are based on how I see the purpose of my life.
  7. My world takes an abrupt pause. I now wonder what the purpose of all these experiences is. What is authentic love? What does it mean to be fully human? Is death the end of life?
  8. I bump into a Lay Cistercian friend who challenges me to look deeper into myself and wait. Where can I get answers? The “world” that I know does not know the questions to ask, much less the answers. This is a world that I had avoided because I did not know how to use it properly.
  9. I learned to wait for the questions and then for the authentic answers. It is the world of contemplation, the realm of the heart that is invisible to the eye yet key to my reaching fulfillment as a human.
  10. My world expanded into one with two citizenships, one living out my destiny on earth. Another one simultaneously seeks to be an adopted son of the kingdom of heaven and loves others as Christ loved us. This world allows my seventy or eighty years to have a purpose and meaning and fulfills me as a human being. I am loved.

LITURGY OF THE HOURS: Office of the Dead

Would you join me in praying the Office of the Dead for my friend, Father Carl Roos, who died on April 3rd in Indianapolis, Indiana? We can also include any other souls of the Faithful Departed. May they rest in the peace of Christ. Here is the website http://www.divineoffice.org. You may also find my blog listed under resources on the home page. A Lay Cistercian reflects on spiritual reality. I say the Invitatory at the beginning of the day, then go to “For a Man; Morning Prayer.” Both Father Carl and I thank you.

Office for the Dead

The Office for the Dead is a prayer cycle of the Liturgy of the Hours in the Roman Catholic Church, said for the repose of the soul of a deceased individual or individuals. It is the proper reading on All Souls’ Day (normally November 2) for all souls in Purgatory and can be a votive office on other days when said for a particular deceased.

Select from the following:

Invitatory

For a man

Office of Readings
Morning Prayer
Evening Prayer

For a Woman

Office of Readings
Morning Prayer
Evening Prayer

For several people

Office of Readings
Morning Prayer
Evening Prayer

For relatives, friends, and benefactors

Office of Readings
Morning Prayer
Evening Prayer

The English translation of

WISDOM FROM THOSE WHO HAVE GONE BEFORE US IN THE SIGN OF FAITH

Here are some sayings I discovered on one of my favorite websites.

A LAY CISTERCIAN’S SAYINGS

Here are some sayings that have popped up in my Lectio Divina

  • Marriage is not the purpose of life, but the purpose of marriage is life.
  • Love means following your heart to sit down next to Jesus on a park bench and wait.
  • Just because your road is rocky doesn’t mean you are on the wrong road.
  • I am not you; you are not me; God is not you; and you, most certainly are not God.
  • If you travel off of the straight and narrow one mile, remember that it will take you one mile to get back to it.
  • Choices are between what is right and what is easy.
  • Every good and bad deed you do, every thought you think will be known to everyone when judged at the end of your life.
  • There are good works, bad works, and no works. Which ones do you do?
  • “It is better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”
  • “Mud thrown is ground lost.”
  • “Whatever is received, is received according to the disposition of the one who receives it.”

uiodg

WHERE DOES GOOD OR EVIL ORIGINATE?

This topic would not be the conversation starter around any dinner in my experience of eating, but it is critical to what it means to be a human.

REFLECTIONS ON WHY WE HAVE THE CHOICE OF GOOD OR EVIL

Does good or evil originate with humans? Within humans? Outside of humans? With God? With society? I had a few thoughts while doing Lectio Divina on this subject in my Lectio (Philippians 2:5).

I use the Rule of Threes to examine most ideas, in this case, the origins of good or evil. Remember, The Rule of Threes is my attempt to look at one reality having three distinct and separate universes simultaneously, so you don’t see the differences.

THE PHYSICAL UNIVERSE — This is the universe of the physical world, composed of matter, energy, time, space, and living species, including humans. The rule of this universe is a natural law. It is good with no evil or good in it. It acts according to its nature. Stephenson 2-18 is not good nor evil but acts its nature. Animals are not evil but good by nature. Humans are good by nature, but with a difference. They control what is good or bad for them with their free will.

THE MENTAL UNIVERSE — The fact that we can look at the physical universe with our human reason and choices and increase our knowledge, meaning, and seek the purpose of life, differentiates us from all other living species. Humans alone can ask the Interrogatories (WHY, WHO, WHEN, WHERE, HOW, and SO WHAT? The mental universe depends upon the physical universe for its existence, so humans inherit traits and characteristics of animals for preservation, needs for security and safety, and power. What individual persons place at their center is what they hold as meaningful. Humans can’t keep their center centered without struggle each minute, day, and year. Humans wake up or begin to discern the environment around them, then make choices that they think will make them happy and fulfilled. St. Paul says that “sin came into the world through one man (Adam and Eve)” Evil is not outside of us, like stepping in a pool of water and getting wet. Genesis, the great archetypal story of why humans act the way they do, gives us a hint. Evil is not the ability to choose but the actual choice of good for us or bad for us, which is within us. It is not within us but the result of the sin of Adam and Eve, the possibility of choosing what God says we need to become fully human, even though it goes against our human inclinations of pleasure, power, desire for adulation, ego, and

THE SPIRITUAL UNIVERSE- This is the universe created by The Christ Principle, which became human to show us how to fulfill our humanity and become what we were meant to be. Christ is the answer to the interrogatories of the physical and mental universes. The problem is that the language used to define what it means to be human is love. We measure that against how humans act. Love is authentic when it resonates with the physical and mental universes. When we place something unauthentic at our center (power, fame, fortune, greed, envy, jealousy, lust, lying, sexual coveting of persons and things). In the Old Testament, God gave the people the core beliefs that would allow them to have morally good choices. (The Ten Commandments). Unlike the other two, the problem with this universe is that it takes reason and free will to enter it. You must choose a way of life that is nearly the opposite of what the world says is authentic for being human. Jesus came to SHOW us how to love others by dying to the false self and replacing it with an incorruptible self, using the energy of God.

WHY ARE HUMANS PRONE TO BOTH GOOD AND EVIL?

It is no coincidence that the archetypal story of Genesis 2-3 is about what it means to be human. The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that the various authors of Genesis looked around at their world and asked, “If humans act this way, what is good and what is bad?” or, put another way, “Why do good people do bad things and bad people do good things?” I struggle with the notion that God created Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden before the Fall; therefore, human nature is good, then something happened within that nature, and it was good, but flawed or prone to make choices that are reasonable for them but actually may be detrimental to the fulfillment of their human nature, being adopted sons and daughters of the Father and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven.

If humans do evil, who determines what is evil and what is not? I believe the environment in which a person grows up and assimulates the values around them is an important indicator of why someone chooses what others consider evil.

Characteristics of Fallen Human Nature

God is not the cause of good or evil but the source of knowledge, love, and service. If humans are the source of good and evil because of their individual ability to reason and their freedom to choose what they think is good for them, here are some possible indicators of why this might be so.

  1. Animality to Rationality — Our race evolves through DNA and RNA. The transition from animality to rationality is not magical but results from a long period of progressive movement from simplicity to complexity. Another name for this is evolution, where we take on the characteristics of each age and pass them on through genetic codes for future humans. This progression exists in the physical and mental worlds, where humans alone exist. As humanity developed from animality to humanity, it was a rough ride having initial human reasoning and now the ability to choose apart from natural instinct. The residuals from that “bubbling over” from animality to rationality, as Teilhard de Chardin puts it, were that humans, then and now, contain remnants of emotions and the surfacing of needs. Such needs are identified, in part, by Abraham Maslow in his “Hierarchy of Needs.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs
  1. This chart explains why humans make choices, ones that originate FROM WITHIN each one of us. Ones are unique to the lifestyle and assumptions in our value systems. But where does evil come into the picture?
  2. Evil, for humans, is their choice of something that they think might be good for them, but God cautions that if you do this, you will be sorry. The difference between fulfillment as a human being with only the physical and mental universes (the World) then adding the spiritual universe is that our fulfillment as a human being as the intended evolution of our race can only be accomplished by an act of free will that secures my adoption as an heir to the kingdom of heaven.
  3. The physical universe is visible (perhaps unknowable but yet invisible); the mental universe is the mediator, being both visible and invisible (navigating the physical and mental universes takes some skill); the addition of a spiritual universe gives purpose to the former universes and is invisible with a base of existence in the physical universe and using human reasoning and free will to propel us to the next level of our evolution.
  4. Maslow’s hierarchy is a great way to look at reality in two universes, but it falls short of our next level of evolution. Humans do not possess the power to lift up their nature to the next level of existence, the kingdom of heaven. God, through Christ, reaches down from the divine nature to raise us up to complete our evolution and thus fulfill our destiny as intended from before there was matter and time.

A great question for you to ponder when you have a moment to focus on The Christ Principle is to ask yourself, “Is evil the opposite of good like darkness is the opposite of light?”

Evil can exist in the human mind and heart. Butterflies are not evil. The birds of the sky are not evil. Humans are not evil by nature but are susceptible to a choice that is not consistent with their human nature. We call that sin. St.Paul’s famous line in Romans 5 tells us how sin came into the world and its relationship to goodness. Human nature is not evil but rather good, yet humans offer a choice of good or evil because of what it brought over from its animality. Animals do not have a choice between good and evil.

Humanity’s Sin through Adam.

12* Therefore, just as through one person sin entered the world,h and through sin, death, and thus death came to all, inasmuch as all sinned*

13for up to the time of the law, sin was in the world, though sin is not accounted when there is no law.i

14But death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who did not sin after the pattern of the trespass of Adam, who is the type of the one who was to come.j

Grace and Life through Christ.

15But the gift is not like the transgression. For if by that one person’s transgression the many died, how much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one person Jesus Christ overflow for the many.

16And the gift is not like the result of the one person’s sinning. For after one sin there was the judgment that brought condemnation; but the gift, after many transgressions, brought acquittal.

17For if, by the transgression of one person, death came to reign through that one, how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of justification come to reign in life through the one person Jesus Christ.

18In conclusion, just as through one transgression condemnation came upon all, so through one righteous act acquittal and life came to all.k

19For just as through the disobedience of one person the many were made sinners, so through the obedience of one the many will be made righteous.l

20The law entered in* so that transgression might increase but, where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more,m

21so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through justification for eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.n

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/romans/5

2. The Battle between Good and Evil: The titanic battle is not one between Russia and Ukraine but takes place each day as I approach whatever comes my way. I choose how I react to my environment by my choices. I can choose what I think is good for me or accept that God, as a loving Father, wants me to walk the minefields of human nature without stepping into it.

Baptism is when God gives me the gift of being an adopted son (daughter) of the Father and heir to the kingdom of heaven. Baptism means that I must proclaim that I use power outside of myself to help raise me up to being fully human each day. Baptism means accepting that the spiritual universe is the power and glory, not me. Baptism means I must be humble and realize that, although I communicate with Jesus through the Holy Spirit, God doesn’t fit into my agenda, but I must wait in silence and solitude to listen with “the ear of the heart” to feel what the heart of Christ wants me to know. St. Thomas Aquinas says knowledge precedes love. This knowledge is not ordinary but the energy of the divine nature in me. It is conversio morae, or the emptying of self and filling my heart with the love of others as Christ loves me.

Baptism means I have turned reality upside down and have embraced a series of norms that do not fit or make sense to those of the world. It is no coincidence that we receive the sign of the cross on our hearts in Baptism, one that marks us indelibly with the contradiction that to be fully human, to fulfill our destiny as a human, we must die to that very humanity on which we tenaciously hold, and die to self. We must let go of our lives in that former universe of physical and mental corruption to possess an incorruptible universe. The problem for all those Baptised is that we still live in and are subject to the world’s seduction. Being a Lay Cistercian is one way in which I can not only address the challenge of the sign of contradiction but have the power (from the Holy Spirit) to sustain me at the moment. Each day the process repeats until I die. I call it a struggle to be resonant rather than dissonant, incorrupt rather than correct. Christ gives me the power to be an adopted son or daughter through the Holy Spirit’s power, but I must fight the good fight and take up my cross each day to love others as Christ loved us. It is a happy fault, as celebrated in the Pascal Mystery of the Resurrection.

I encourage you to listen to both of these ancient chants and take some time to ponder the words. I usually take two or three days to keep coming back to the melody, particularly the texts. Let the words sink into the softness of your life and sit there. Be with Christ and ask for wisdom and love as you allow the words to become one with how you think.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2kkH6tMvwE https://archive.ccwatershed.org/video/37323663/?return_url=/liturgy/

That contradiction of dying to self is a way of thinking, loving, and serving others, the opposite of what we learn about being human from living in a world without God. That voluntary commitment is one where we must put to death the idea that evil is good, that we listen to movie stars and politicians are arbiters for what is moral and what is not. Society is never a good center to have in my life. It blows with the winds of who shouts the loudest or has the most votes. In Baptism, we inherit the kingdom of heaven not only later on in heaven but right now, each and every day. The problem with dual citizenship in the world and the spirit is that the two are incompatible.

In the kingdom of heaven on earth, you cannot serve two masters.

God and Money.

24* “No one can serve two masters.m He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

Matthew 6:24

If evil does not exist in God, nor does it reside in me, and it doesn’t exist apart like a juicy piece of Sumo orange, how does any of this make sense? If you want to have a love present, you must put it there, says the Scriptures. If you choose what is evil, even though you may not know the unintended consequences, you must bring it into your temple of the Holy Spirit. Evil is not the ability to choose, but rather what we take into our hearts that does not lead to enlightenment or fulness of our humanity, but rather death. This is not the death to self that is a process of daily conversion to have in you the mind of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5-12), but rather the fulfillment of corruption of morals instead of grace, the choice of disobedience to what is resonant in all of reality. Love and hatred cannot exist in the same space. Christ and Satan cannot exist in the same room. The Devil always flees. You and I are the crucibles in which this battle of choices is contained. The YES you made at Baptism when you became an adopted son (daughter) of the Father is not a one-time event to impress others. It is the beginning of your interior battle to keep yourself centered on Christ in the midst of all the false promises and allures of the World.

LEARNING POINTS

Baptism not only takes away Original Sin but paves the way for us to be called adopted sons (daughters) of the Father.

Baptism is the beginning of a process to keep The Christ Principle as your center. For the rest of your life, you are tempted to worship false gods, first and foremost, yourself.

Good must be replenished each day, or there are consequences.

God has the power to sustain us as we wait for the end of our life. Prayer is how those signed with the cross place themselves in the presence of the Holy Spirit, the source of energy. One of the charisms of a Lay Cistercian is to convert oneself from being reliant on what the world says fulfills you as a human being to making room for Christ in your heart.

To be a follower of Christ takes humility and obedience to God’s will.

When Christ speaks of the poor and those suffering hardships, He is talking about each of us overcoming our weakness with Faith and making all things new each day.

God does not cause evil.

Human nature is good.

Evil exists as a choice that we make with our free will.

The choice is conditioned by how we are brought up, what values we place at our center, and the companions we keep.

FOR BEHOLD, I MAKE ALL THINGS NEW

What follows is a blog from last year on the liturgical celebration of what Christ did for us in the passion, death and resurrection.

IS AN ACTOR OR A SAINT A ROLE MODEL FOR WHAT IT MEANS TO BE HUMAN?

The recent fiasco over two actors, one of whom struck the other because of an insult, indicates just how much we revere actors in general as the paragons of what it means to be human. This fixation on a celebrity or who’s who in the zoo can border on the ridiculous was it not so tragic. We have our heroes in the World, such as the hall of fame for all sports. We raise these people, men, and women, to a higher level of respect due to their skills in what they do. A Hall of Famer is just a significant cut above ordinary football players, which is the significant gap over fans of the sport.

The problem with actors, professional sports players, role models such as politicians (tongue in cheek), or any other class or people who do a job that we find inspirational is twofold: they may be role models to some of us because they excel or are the best at what they do, but often this does not help us to become better humans because of their contributions. Actors, for goodness sake, make their living pretending to be someone else. Some of them do it well, and television and YouTube have glorified their achievements, but do they teach us about the purpose of life and how to solve The Divine Equation by what their lives proclaim? There is a saying, “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.”

An actor has special talents that we do not possess, so they are special. The problem becomes they are the perceived best at acting, so they automatically because the seat of wisdom in anything they say, and are they someone that will help us identify what it means to be human? Their notion of morality must be correct, and what they say about God must be the truth. We relegate to them what we would never do other “mere moral: creatures. They become the norms of what is good or evil. What they spout may be absolute nonsense, but we let them get away with it without informed challenge. This is the celebrity that the world touts as our role models of moral and spiritual righteousness.

Contrast that with the lives of any of the Saints. I limit my remarks to those made Saints by the Catholic Church for what they did in having Christ Jesus’s mind (Philippians 2:5). Heroic? Some shed their blood for what they believed, and what they believed was to love one another as Christ loved you. Some lived their life in such a way that those who followed after them were more fulfilled as a human (belief in three universes of physical, mental, and spiritual, rather than only two, the physical and mental).

Every Saint has in common with us is that we are all sinners (except Jesus and his mother, Mary). We live in the corruptibility of matter and mind but have put on the armor of incorruptibility to die to self so that we could rise with Christ each day. Who are the role models to show us how to love others as Christ loved us? Actor and sports figures? What questions should you be asking?

SEVEN CISTERCIAN MARTYRS OF ATLAS

WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR ME TO BE A LAY CISTERCIAN?

This topic is near and dear to me because it is me and my attempts to die to self to move from false self to God.

This is the Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5) I had this morning at 7:15 EDT at Cardiology Associates on the third floor in Tallahassee, Florida. I drove to an early check-in for a Nuclear Stress Test for my heart. I am having Gall Bladder surgery this month, and I needed clearance from my Cardiologists (my regular Cardiologist and by ElectroCardiologist). To the point, I am sitting in the waiting room, and with me are six people, all elderly, one lady, and five gentlemen. All of them were using their cell phones to pass the time, filling them with music or whatever. I noticed this because I focused on Lectio Divina instead (I do not own a cell phone, probably because it is too complex for my mental processes). I only offer these thoughts because there are what happened to me over the past several months.

WHAT IS A LAY CISTERCIAN?

You can tell a Lay Cistercian because they are the ones with a smile on their face, focusing on Lectio Divina (Phillipians 2:5), eyes lowered to the ground, sitting straight in the chair, for thirty or more minutes without moving. Everyone else may or may not have a smile on their face but is looking at their cell phone to pass the time.

Father Anthony Delisi, O.C.S.O., God rest his soul, told a group of us that the first requirement you need to be a Lay Cistercian is recognizing you are a sinner and want to become better.

A Lay Cistercian, like those in the AA program, knows that it is in the context of community that silence, solitude, work, and prayer.

Monks, nuns, and Lay Cistercians seek to retire to that place where no human wants to look, the room described in Matthew 6:6, where the doors are locked from the inside, and we have two chairs, one for Christ and one for us. Ironically, we join others in their individual rooms and practice Cistercian practices and charisms to help us move from our false self to our true self in Christ Jesus. Community keeps us balanced and from falling off the deep end into radicalism.

A Lay Cistercian knows that prayer is a process of conversion and that they must begin each day as though it was the only day for the rest of their life.

A Lay Cistercian seeks God each day as it comes.

A Lay Cistercian cherishes reading from the Benedictine and Cistercian men and women who share their struggles and successes with us.

A Lay Cistercian keep their eyes lowered (custos oculi) when praying and doing Lectio Meditation.

A Lay Cistercian practices simplicity in prayer by praying The Liturgy of the Hours and Eucharist together with the community as they can.

A Lay Cistercian can sit facing someone who yells at you that you are worthless, God doesn’t love you, being a Lay Cistercian is a waste of your time, that you like in la-la land and not in reality, that you must not meet with your Lay Cistercian group because all you want is attention from the widows and because you write a blog, that no one reads your ideas because you are no good, but they won’t tell you so. On that day, Lay Cistercian, rejoice, and keep repeating in your heart, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they say.” Peace conquers hatred, but you must put love where there is no love to love others as Christ loved us.”

A Lay Cistercian fills any lack of time (waiting in line at the doctor’s office, waiting to get help from local government for a tax problem, or the time before the Blessed Sacrament) by just waiting for the Holy Spirit to visit that inner room and overshadow you with the warm embrace of the way, what is true, and the life or energy of Christ.

A Lay Cistercian, after a period of years practicing how to love Christ, can just sit there and focus the mind on pure energy, letting it “be done to you, according to His Word.”

What questions should you be asking yourself?

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FIRECRACKER THOUGHTS

In one of my Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5) meditations, I experienced a rapid succession of ideas all unrelated. I call them firecracker thoughts because they are explosive bursts of energy from the Holy Spirit.

“Life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life. It is a waste to be asking the question when you are the answer.” ~ Joseph Campbell

“There are something like 18 billion cells in the brain alone. There are no two brains alike; there are no two hands alike; there are no two human beings alike. You can take your instructions and your guidance from others, but you must find your own path.” ~ Joseph Campbell

“Take care of your body as if you were going to live forever, and take care of your soul as if you were going to die tomorrow.” ~ Saint Augustine

“The truth is like a lion; you don’t have to defend it. Let it loose; it will defend itself.” ~ Saint Augustine

“Because God has made us for Himself, our hearts are restless until they rest in Him.” ~ Saint Augustine

“You don’t climb a mountain in leaps and bounds, but by taking it slowly.” ~ Pope Gregory I

“The Holy Bible is like a mirror before our mind’s eye. In it, we see our inner face. From the Scriptures, we can learn about our spiritual deformities and beauties. And there too we discover the progress we are making and how far we are from perfection.” ~ Pope Gregory I

“If the intention is unclean, the deed that follows from it will also be evil, even if it seems good.” ~ Pope Gregory I

“The Light of Christ illumines all.” ~ Gregory Palamas

“Given that we desire long life, should we not take eternal life into account? If we long for a kingdom which, however enduring, has an end, and glory and joy which, great as they are, will fade, and wealth that will perish with this present life, and we labour for the sake of such things; ought we not to seek the kingdom, glory, joy and riches which, as well as being all-surpassing, are unfading and endless, and ought we not to endure a little constraint in order to inherit it?” ~ Gregory Palamas

“Remove grace, and you have nothing whereby to be saved. Remove free will and you have nothing that could be saved.” ~ Anselm of Canterbury

“I believe in order that I may understand.” ~ Anselm of Canterbury

“A single Mass offered for oneself during life may be worth more than a thousand celebrated for the same intention after death.” ~ Anselm of Canterbury

“God was conceived of a most pure Virgin … it was fitting that the virgin should be radiant with a purity so great that a greater purity cannot be conceived.” ~ Anselm of Canterbury

“The best perfection of a religious man is to do common things in a perfect manner. A constant fidelity in small things is a great and heroic virtue.” ~ Bonaventure

“Any old woman can love God better than a doctor of theology can.” ~ Bonaventure

“It maketh God man, and man God; things temporal, eternal; mortal, immortal; it maketh an enemy a friend, a servant a son, vile things glorious, cold hearts fiery, and hard thing liquid.” ~ Bonaventure

“To know much and taste nothing-of what use is that?” ~ Bonaventure

“We become what we love and who we love shapes what we become.” ~ Clare of Assisi

“Our labor here is brief, but the reward is eternal. Do not be disturbed by the clamor of the world, which passes like a shadow. Do not let false delights of a deceptive world deceive you.” ~ Clare of Assisi

“Place your mind before the mirror of eternity! Place your soul in the brilliance of glory! And transform your entire being into the image of the Godhead Itself through contemplation.” ~ Clare of Assisi

“I come, O Lord, unto Thy sanctuary to see the life and food of my soul. As I hope in Thee, O Lord, inspire me with that confidence which brings me to Thy holy mountain. Permit me, Divine Jesus, to come closer to Thee, that my whole soul may do homage to the greatness of Thy majesty; that my heart, with its tenderest affections, may acknowledge Thine infinite love; that my memory may dwell on the admirable mysteries here renewed every day, and that the sacrifice of my whole being may accompany Thine.” ~ Clare of Assisi

“It is by the path of love, which is charity, that God draws near to man, and man to God. But where charity is not found, God cannot dwell. If, then, we possess charity, we possess God, for “God is Charity” (1John 4:8)” ~ Albertus Magnus

“In this way, if you continue all the time in the way we have described from the beginning, it will become as easy and clear for you to remain in contemplation in your inward and recollected state, as to live in the natural state.” ~ Albertus Magnus

“Nothing can be believed unless it is first understood; and that for anyone to preach to others that which either he has not understood nor they have understood is absurd.” ~ Peter Abelard

“Our redemption through the suffering of Christ is that deeper love within us which not only frees us from slavery to sin, but also secures for us the true liberty of the children of God, in order that we might do all things out of love rather than out of fear – love for him that has shown us such grace that no greater can be found.” ~ Peter Abelard

“What we love we shall grow to resemble.” ~ Bernard of Clairvaux

“The three most important virtues are humility, humility, and humility.” ~ Bernard of Clairvaux

“Ingratitude is the soul’s enemy… Ingratitude is a burning wind that dries up the source of love, the dew of mercy, the streams of grace.” ~ Bernard of Clairvaux

“Ingratitude is the soul’s enemy… Ingratitude is a burning wind that dries up the source of love, the dew of mercy, the streams of grace.” ~ Bernard of Clairvaux

“To love anyone is to hope in him for always. From the moment at which we begin to judge anyone, to limit our confidence in him, from the moment at which we identify him with what we know of him and so reduce him to that, we cease to love him and he ceases to be able to be better.” ~ Charles de Foucauld

“See the Face of God in everyone.” ~ Catherine Laboure

“We know certainly that our God calls us to a holy life. We know that he gives us every grace, every abundant grace; and though we are so weak of ourselves, this grace is able to carry us through every obstacle and difficulty.” ~ Elizabeth Ann Seton

“We are born to love, we live to love, and we will die to love still more.” ~ Saint Joseph

THE HUMAN RAMIFICATIONS OF COSMIC YES AND NO STRINGS

The fourth type of cross-cutting strings or patterns that span all reality is that of a YES or a NO. This is how I dissect all reality into its manageable components, the physical universe of matter and energy. This mental universe is aware that there is a YES or NO, then the spiritual universe seeks to fulfill the other two. I will be looking at this phenomenon using my Rule of Threes.

Bear with me as I review the previous three strings that stretch from what is in the beginning to what is at the end.

  1. Corruption and Incorruption: In the physical universe, one in which we live as our base of human existence, we shall matter, energy, time, properties of matter, using the law of nature to allow us to be. In t e mental universe, we have evolved our collective mental consciousness to develop languages to communicate with each other, delving into the interrogatories (Why, What, How, When, Where, and So What) to find answers that begin to answer the wonder that we have about what is around us (visible) and within us invisible). Our hearts are restless until they rest in the human truth. The final universe is that of the spiritual one, the most misunderstood or misused because people have the wrong assumptions about it. This is why Christ became human and suffered, died on the cross, that we could be heirs of the incorruptibility of this third universe and adopted heirs of the kingdom of heaven. There is a problem. As a human being, I am subject to the laws of the physical and mental universes. I have a beginning. I will l have an end. I suffer pain, and I experience love with others. I have to work each day to keep myself centered on Christ, the energy source of energy outside of myself. There is the duality of moving between hatred and love. I must always s struggle to be good to keep evil from encroaching into my incorruption. I am corrupt but also incorruptible because of Baptism. Christ gives me the energy to be faithful to my call of adoption.
  2. Resonance and Dissonance: Simultaneous with the previous pattern is one where I find my reality has resonance but also dissonance. This is the string in tune with how reality is (resonance) or not (dissonance). Sin is an aberration of what is the intended way of being. All reality seeks resonance with its nature. This is the reality behind the saying of St. Augustine, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.” We look at resonance and dissonance in previous blogs using The Rule of Threes.
  3. Light and Darkness: This string, like the two that have gone before, plays its own notes, yet there is just one lyre. Humans have their five senses to interact with their environment as they live out their lives. Our choices are the strings we pluck in our lyre based on God’s song. We use The Rule of Threes as it applies to the themes of light and darkness to point out aberrations in all reality.

This brings us to the current blog exploring the topic of YES and NO as it applies to The Divine Equation and how my own choices can influence how I can fulfill my destiny as a human being.

THE FOURTH STRING: YES AND NO

Characteristics of both YES and NO

When I think of YES or NO in the context of the three universes having one reality, I try to describe them as such:

THE POWER OF YES

  • Anytime there is a YES, it means that someone uttered it.
  • YES presupposes intelligence, even a cosmic YES.
  • YES is a word that means, “Let it be so,” or “Move forward.”
  • YES means “Let it be done to me according to your WORD.”
  • YES is positive energy that means fulfilling our intended purpose in life.
  • YES happens at many different levels, especially at the beginning and end of anything incorruptible.
  • YES means that all reality is in resonance with everything else.
  • YES and NO can exist together in a corrupt universe of matter and mind, but not in a universe that is incorruptible.
  • YES is one of the choices to discover what is authentic and purposeful about the World in which they live.
  • YES is the result of a choice that gives life.
  • YES is something that always requires an answer or affirmation.
  • YES is present in all three universes (Physical, Mental, and Spiritual) and the basis for the corruptibility of matter and mind, plus the incorruptibility of the spiritual dimension to humans.
  • YES is the most crucial Word that each human can utter.
  • As a human being, only I can utter a YES within the context of my short existence of seventy or eighty years.
  • YES is the mind’s consent to the YES of another person or persons.

THE POWER OF NO

  • Along with YES, NO is also powerful. Here are some characteristics.
  • NO means “S op,” “Don’t proceed.”
  • NO is a blocking word, one that is negative.
  • NO stops, love.
  • NO, as a choice, might be anything terrible for human evolution or fulfillment.
  • NO is not the absence of GOOD, but rather the presence of the possibility of choosing a value that will cause the death of YES.
  • Each individual has the power to choose YES or NO regarding their invitation to be an adopted son or daughter of the Father.
  • Some consequences happen due to choosing either a YES or a NO.
  • Each individual says choose NO to the invitation of God to be an adopted son or daughter without recrimination.

Using these characteristics, let me walk you through my reflections on three distinct universes composing one reality.

THE PHYSICAL UNIVERSE

  • This is the universe composed of matter, energy, time, space, including all life forms on earth, including humans. It forms the base where everything living has just the correct amount of gases, light, water, and temperature to move from simplicity to complexity.
  • The physical universe is corrupt because everything in it has a beginning and an ending. It deteriorates and breaks down over time. The physical universe is not corrupt in the moral sense.
  • The physical universe began with a YES from a power that is pure energy, incorruptible, outside of the physical universe.
  • There is nothing outside of the physical universe, as the late Steven Hawking once remarked. I think that is true, with this caveat. This nothingness is pure energy with intelligence, to say an infinite YES. St. John’s Gospel begins with the statement, “In the beginning was the Word.” St. John was not an astrophysicist with the knowledge we have today. He was a poet looking at the deeper meaning of reality to reveal that what made everything around him, corrupt though it might seem, is love.
  • What has the “Word” that existed before there was matter? It was YES. YES, created all that is physical reality. Isn’t there more to it? YES.

THE MENTAL UNIVERSE

Although humans populate the physical universe because they are composed of matter and exist in time, something is different about humans than other life forms.

Humans inhabit their own universe that exists simultaneously with their physical base.

Only humans exist in the universe where we are the only living things that know that we know. We can look at the physical universe and ask WHY, WHAT, HOW, WHEN, and SO WHAT? Humans can say YES or NO to the choices that they present to their reason.

There are three segments in the book of Genesis: Before the Fall, The Fall, and The Consequences of Poor Choice. (Genesis 2-3) In this story, humans were created before the Fall. Their nature was good because what God creates is after God’s image and likeness. In this tremendous archetypal story, Adam and Eve were given a choice of good or evil and chose poorly because of Satan’s suggestions (temptations). The consequences of the story are immediate.
“Who told you that you were naked?” asked God. Adam and Eve, representing all of humanity, have corrupted the mores or moral choices of those to come. The four traditions of Genesis (J, P, Yahwist, and Elohist) reflect what was gnawing at the consciences of those early Israelites. Why do good people do bad things, and why do I do the things I don’t want to do and not do the things I want to do (St. Paul). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFcuFF4DBEc

Several thoughts became clear in trying to make sense of all these ideas. Adam and Eve was a NO to the offer of God to be Gardeners.

The nature of humanity is good. Individual humans are wounded by Original Sin and suffer the corruptive effects of this archetypal event by Adam and Eve. They must die.

God is not the cause of evil but is the source of good.

Human choice is either from within oneself as the source of good or evil or chooses what God says is true.

There is always a struggle between what is good and what is evil. The consequences or wages of sin, the wrong choice is death. The consequence of voluntarily placing oneself in the presence of God in the act of obedience is life.

From the time of Adam and Eve until Christ, humans, particularly the Israelites, waited on someone to redeem them from the consequences of Original Sin. The Messiah would be someone who would be able to say YES to take away the sin of Adam and Eve for the ransom of many.

Scriptures in the Old Testament are a history of Israel making a YES choice or a NO choice and its consequences.

THE SPIRITUAL UNIVERSE

This universe began with a YES, but it was not from whom you would expect. The YES of Jesus was to redeem humanity by suffering voluntarily and giving up his life to the Father in reparation for the single sin of Adam and Eve. Before he was born, this universe began with a YES from Mary, Jesus’ mother. (Luke 1-2)

Humanity’s Sin through Adam.

12* Therefore, just as through one person sin entered the world,h and through sin, death, and thus death came to all, inasmuch as all sinned*

13for up to the time of the law, sin was in the world, though sin is not accounted when there is no law.i

14But death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who did not sin after the pattern of the trespass of Adam, who is the type of the one who was to come.j

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/romans/5

We venerate and honor (not adore) Mary because a human uttered a YES so that Jesus could take on our nature and utter the YES that allowed us to become adopted sons and daughters of the Father. (Philippians 2:5-12)

With the redemption of Christ, we have an Advocate before the Father (whom we cannot approach) to help us while on earth to overcome the minefields of the World and to keep ourselves centered on the cross by the power of the Holy Spirit.

We have the power, through the incorruptibility of Christ, to turn our NOs into YESes through Eucharist and Forgiveness of Sins.

THE SINGULARITY OF A SOLIDARY YES OR NO

All of these YESes or NOs in reality (physical, mental, or spiritual) exist so that I can have the freedom to say YES or NO to the invitation of Jesus to be an adopted son (daughter) of the Father.

I don’t depend upon your YES or NO for my salvation or adoption. I can say NO to God alone, or I can say YES. St. Thomas Aquinas is quoted as saying, “Knowledge comes before love.” Sin means my center of The Christ Principle wavers and careens down the road of life, sometimes going off the road. As Lay Cistercian with the habit of humility, I try not to let myself go too long before I measure myself against the heart of Christ and ask for mercy and forgiveness. I must do this daily. It is called conversion morae or constant measuring of your life against the love Christ showed for us.

I am so important in God’s plan that all creation was there just for me (or just for you). All of this goes back to that first YES of the nothingness of God and is confirmed by my YES each time I take time to sit down next to the heart of Christ and wait in peace.

What questions should you be asking about your YES or NO?

THE QUALITY OF FORGIVENESS

Mr. Putin:

Listen to this YouTube. You would have been a truly generational leader, had you chosen what this Youtube embodies.

WHAT QUESTIONS DO YOU NEED TO ASK?

In keeping with my slightly off-center personality, I pose to you some photos/YouTubes/articles and ask you to think about what questions these images raise in your mind. Remember, I am not you; you are not me; God is not you; and you, most certainly, are not God. St. Thomas Aquinas says that knowledge precedes love. What are the questions that lead to an increase in your Faith?

ST. JUSTIN MARTYR AND THE ORDER OF EUCHARIST

What questions come to your mind?

CHAPTER 4: I USED TO LOOK DOWN ON THE BAPTIST CHURCH

I USED TO LOOK DOWN AT THE BAPTISTS

We all are guilty. When we hear something, we process it according to our first impressions. As the saying goes, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Perhaps this is because the old adage applies: whatever is received, is received according to the disposition of the recipient.

Before I get to the implications of the title about looking down at Baptists, may I relate an incident that happened at Premier Gym in Tallahassee, Florida, two years ago. It was 5:40 a.m. in the morning. I was peddling on the recumbent bicycle and another old man (it seems only old men go to the gym that early) asked me what I was reading. It happened that I had taken my Liturgy of the Hours to read the Office of Readings on that particular day. He asked if it was the Bible and I told him it was more than that. The look on his face would have cracked the Great Wall in China in two.  He told me that nothing was greater than the Bible. I agreed with him.  What he did not know was that I was referring to not only the Scripture which is contained in the Office of Readings but also the writings of early Church Fathers and the Saints.  In this sense, it is more than just the Bible in the Office of Readings. That does not take away from the fact that Scriptures are the supreme authority for the early Church. Actually, Scriptures are not the supreme authority overall, Christ is. Eucharist is far more of a core than is Scripture, although both are part of the Mystery of Faith. My point is, we hear what we hear based on the sum of our experiences about what words mean. What words actually mean might be something deeper.

About the title above that, I looked down on the Baptist Church. That is a true statement. As my favorite radio commentator, the late Paul Harvey was fond of saying, and now the rest of the story.

http://fbcbloom.org/wordpress/

In 1976, I was a Pastor of a small congregation in Bloomfield, Indiana called Holy Name.  At the time, I was an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Adult Education for the Bureau of Studies in Adult Education, Indiana University, as it was known back then.  Our church was on a ten-acre plot of land with the rectory and church high on a hill and some of the property is on the lower part, below the rectory. It happened that my colleague and friend, the Baptist minister and his wife, approached me with the proposition to sell them some of that bottom land, about an acre total.  I consulted our parish council and we were more than happy to sell them part of our property for their Baptist Church, in fact, we gave them a good deal on the price.  The church was completed and stands there today with the rectory and our Holy Name on the hill overlooking it. I used to joke to people that I used to look down on Baptists but don’t do so anymore. True story.  http://fbcbloom.org/wordpress/

Every day I looked down from my rectory to see our Baptist brothers and sisters praising God. I don’t want to sound mushy but I looked forward to praying with the Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, Church of Christ ministers and seeing what I could do to help people who wanted to have in them the mind of Christ Jesus (Phl 2:5). This served me well, as I went next year into the US Army as a Chaplain.  Looking down on anyone because they love God is absurd. No one can say Jesus is Lord without the Holy Spirit. To those who believe other than what I do all I say is Blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it.  Pope Francis said it: who am I to judge?

The Chapter 4 in the title refers to St. Benedict’s Rule, where he gives a list of things we must do to convert ourselves from sin to grace, from our old selves to our new selves.

I read Chapter 4 every day, anchored as it is in Scripture, in the hope that I can become what I read. Every day!

CHAPTER IV
The Instruments of Good Works

(1) In the first place to love the Lord God with the whole heart, the whole soul, the whole strength…
(2) Then, one’s neighbor as one’s self (cf Mt 22:37-39; Mk 12:30-31; Lk 10:27).
(3) Then, not to kill…
(4) Not to commit adultery…
(5) Not to steal…
(6) Not to covet (cf Rom 13:9).
(7) Not to bear false witness (cf Mt 19:18; Mk 10:19; Lk 18:20).
(8) To honor all men (cf 1 Pt 2:17). (9) And what one would not have done to himself, not to do to another (cf Tob 4:16; Mt 7:12; Lk 6:31).
(10) To deny one’s self in order to follow Christ (cf Mt 16:24; Lk 9:23).
(11) To chastise the body (cf 1 Cor 9:27).
(12) Not to seek after pleasures.
(13) To love fasting.
(14) To relieve the poor.
(15) To clothe the naked…
(16) To visit the sick (cf Mt 25:36).
(17) To bury the dead.
(18) To help in trouble.
(19) To console the sorrowing.
(20) To hold one’s self aloof from worldly ways.
(21) To prefer nothing to the love of Christ.
(22) Not to give way to anger.
(23) Not to foster a desire for revenge.
(24) Not to entertain deceit in the heart.
(25) Not to make a false peace.
(26) Not to forsake charity. (Emphases mine)
(27) Not to swear, lest perchance one swear falsely.
(28) To speak the truth with heart and tongue.
(29) Not to return evil for evil (cf 1 Thes 5:15; 1 Pt 3:9).
(30) To do no injury, yea, even patiently to bear the injury done us.
(31) To love one’s enemies (cf Mt 5:44; Lk 6:27).
(32) Not to curse them that curse us, but rather to bless them.
(33) To bear persecution for justice sake (cf Mt 5:10).
(34) Not to be proud…
(35) Not to be given to wine (cf Ti 1:7; 1 Tm 3:3).
(36) Not to be a great eater.
(37) Not to be drowsy.
(38) Not to be slothful (cf Rom 12:11).
(39) Not to be a murmurer.
(40) Not to be a detractor.
(41) To put one’s trust in God.
(42) To refer what good one sees in himself, not to self, but to God.
(43) But as to any evil in himself, let him be convinced that it is his own and charge it to himself.
(44) To fear the day of judgment.
(45) To be in dread of hell.
(46) To desire eternal life with all spiritual longing.
(47) To keep death before one’s eyes daily.
(48) To keep a constant watch over the actions of our life.
(49) To hold as certain that God sees us everywhere.
(50) To dash at once against Christ the evil thoughts which rise in one’s heart.
(51) And to disclose them to our spiritual father.
(52) To guard one’s tongue against bad and wicked speech.
(53) Not to love much speaking.
(54) Not to speak useless words and such as provoke laughter.
(55) Not to love much or boisterous laughter.
(56) To listen willingly to holy reading.
(57) To apply one’s self often to prayer.
(58) To confess one’s past sins to God daily in prayer with sighs and tears, and to amend them for the future.
(59) Not to fulfill the desires of the flesh (cf Gal 5:16).
(60) To hate one’s own will.
(61) To obey the commands of the Abbot in all things, even though he himself (which Heaven forbid) act otherwise, mindful of that precept of the Lord: “What they say, do ye; what they do, do ye not” (Mt 23:3).
(62) Not to desire to be called holy before one is; but to be holy first, that one may be truly so called.
(63) To fulfill daily the commandments of God by works.
(64) To love chastity.
(65) To hate no one.
(66) Not to be jealous; not to entertain envy.
(67) Not to love strife.
(68) Not to love pride.
(69) To honor the aged.
(70) To love the younger.
(71) To pray for one’s enemies in the love of Christ.
(72) To make peace with an adversary before the setting of the sun.
(73) And never to despair of God’s mercy.

Behold, these are the instruments of the spiritual art, which, if they have been applied without ceasing day and night and approved on judgment day, will merit for us from the Lord that reward which He hath promised: “The eye hath not seen, nor the ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love Him” (1 Cor 2:9). But the workshop in which we perform all these works with diligence is the enclosure of the monastery, and stability in the community.oral to any of this it is that when we hear others say that they believe in God, we don’t judge solely on the words but on the heart.

WAYS TO RESPECT THE BELIEF OF OTHERS WITHOUT DAMAGING YOUR OWN

Here are some of my ideas on how to view other religious beliefs.  What I don’t want to do, and this should be true for any religion, is distort the religious heritage of any religion, including mine. What I do want to do is to share with you some of the lessons I have learned from a lifetime of working with other religions.

FIRST PRINCIPLE:  Don’t judge others. I believe we begin life by not judging others and then learn about prejudices from our environment and sometime from our religion. Put all that behind you. Life has a way of taking off those rough edges of pride, presumptions that what you think of others is actually who they are. Don’t judge.

SECOND PRINCIPLE: Share what you can. The assumption I always make, when meeting or even writing about people from other Faith traditions is, they are sincerely trying to have in them the mind of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5). Gone are the days when I try to make other people a tiny copy of me. Far from my mind are those thoughts of converting the whole world. I am realizing that converting my own self takes much more energy that I would ever expend in convincing someone to be Catholic.

THIRD PRINCIPLE: Pray as you can.  I love to pray with people who are not of my own faith. I also love to pray with people who share my view of spirituality, such as the Lay Cistercians of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monstery (Trappist), www.trappist.net/about/lay-cistercians and my faith family at Good Shepherd Catholic Church, Tallahassee, Florida.https://goodshepherdparish.org/ The key to getting along with others is rooted in your own Faith and knowing what your purpose in life is. My purpose is to have in me the mind of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5). I can share that with others by prayer, reading, scripture and praising the Lord, all while keeping the one rule of my Catholic Universal Faith “Shema Yisrael. Love God with all your mind, all your strength, and all your heart, and your neighbor as yourself.” (Deuteronomy 6:5 and Matthew 22:37) Everything else is to help us to love others more as Christ has loved us.

When I was deep in a pity party because I thought the Catholic Church did not care about me (I was thinking of the authoritative aspect of the Church who did not even know me). I went to St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Tallahassee to take the complete set of discernment instructions to see if I would fit there. What follows is my blog on this extraordinary experience.

I TOOK INSTRUCTIONS TO BECOME AN ANGLICAN

It was not a particularly good time in my life in 2010. My application for laicization had been on hold for 18 years since Pope Saint John Paul II decided not to grant priests dispensation. I felt like I still wanted to be useful to the Church, but was cut off from doing anything overtly religious.  Maybe that is another blog. I made a decision to explore being an Anglican, in the hopes of being ordained a priest for them. So I gave it a try.

My intention in writing down these ideas is not to prove this or that religion is good and another one is bad.  I had always been Roman Catholic and did not have the experience of another faith home.  I did want to resolve my situation at the time and see if I could still practice the ministry of a priest.  I chose Anglican not Episcopal because their physical Church was closer.

I could not have been more warmly greeted and accepted as who I was, someone on a journey to seek God.  In many ways, I owe my being Roman Catholic today to the laity of the Anglican Church and the generosity of its clergy. I will be forever grateful to them.

I went through a year’s worth of instructions on what it means to be Anglican. I attended their worship services on Sunday. I went to parish socials to mix with parishioners. If it was just a matter of being with good people of faith, I would be Anglican today.

During the period of instruction, I kept thinking how wonderful it would be to serve these people in ministry. My time at morning services was good and familiar. All the things I grew up with were there, the large crucifix, the altar, the candles, the Votive Light that we call the Elijah candle, the smells, the order of the service. If I didn’t know better, I would not have known this service was Anglican and not Roman Catholic.  Yet, I had that undefinable something way down deep (and I mean way down deep) in my consciousness that kept me from giving my full self. That went on for nearly six months.

At the end of that time, my instructions were complete and others in my group were given the opportunity to join the community. So was I. It was a generous gift from them and I realized that I would be happy in community with all these believers. Yet, those troubling, nagging doubts were not going away.  I remember driving to a Sunday service and parking, then walking to Church.  I thought to myself, I can’t do this.  Maybe for someone else, it would be okay, but I can’t do this. So, now comes the choice.  The choice was, there is no choice at all. I can’t do this.  If I did convert, no one would ever know, or even care about my struggle. I cared!  I was caught in not attending the Roman Catholic Church because I was unable to get a dispensation from my vows and having no other option. I chose the former, which I termed dark love.

Then, things changed.  My dispensation came through because Pope Benedict XVI was once again giving dispensations to priests and religious.

My reasons for not wanting to continue as Anglican were these:

I was not fully convinced that Anglican orders were valid. It might not be a problem for anyone else, but it was for me.  If Anglican order may not be valid, why should I want to be a clergy person for them?

When I asked about the authority of the Church, in terms of Apostolicity, I was told that there are three Anglican branches: traditional or Anglo-Catholic, Evangelical, and Progressive.  These three branches do not agree on things like Real Presence, Authority of Apostolicity, rituals. I had problems with knowing that each clergy person, depending on their branch of Anglicanism, would give you a different answer to how they approach issues of Church, worship, authority, the grace of God. This might not be a problem for some, but it was for me.  I did not see their Catholicity, Apostolicity nor Oneness. I did observe their holiness and goodness of heart.

This is my journey, not yours, but I would only caution you. Just because your road to spirituality is rocky, doesn’t mean you are on the wrong road. In whatever remains of the time I have left, I plan to daily convert my life (conversio mores) to be more like Christ and less like me.  I have to fight for my core beliefs and not let the Church get away with abandoning me to relativism, worshipping false gods, and my being my own church. Ironically, as Luther said long ago, “Here I stand, I can do no other.”

Being a Lay Cistercian has been a big blessing. Accepted by the monastic community and fellow brother and sister Lay Cistercians is a true community, like the early assemblies of Ephesus and Philippi.  My appreciation for the history and tradition of the Roman Catholic Church has grown exponentially since I began to get rid of my pride and pledge obedience to God’s will for me.  One of the most significant events for me is Lectio Divina, which I describe as sitting on a wintry park bench, waiting for Jesus to come by, and, if and when it happens, placing my heart next to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

I pray for all the monks and Lay Cistercians of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery, Conyers, Georgia, I pray for all those in my prayer group at Good Shepherd Community, Tallahassee, Florida. I give thanks to God for the privilege of taking instructions to become an Anglican at St. Peter’s Community in Tallahassee. I am not only home, but, like Job, have more than I could have ever dreamed back in 2010. All I can say is:

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever.  The God who is, who was, and who is to come at the end of the ages. Amen and Amen. –Cistercian Doxology

PRINCIPLE FOUR: No one who confesses Jesus is the Son of God, Savior, can do so without the grace of the Holy Spirit. As Pope Francis says: Who am I to judge? Can I stop the Holy Spirit from overshadowing someone who is not of my Catholic Universal Faith? Impossible! Rather than looking at what divides us both theologically and by heritage, and this is not to be minimized, we stress what binds us together. When I was a United States Army Chaplain (1977-1982) I help many more Baptist and Pentecostal soldiers to re-convert their lives to Jesus as their personal savior, than I did Catholics. That was my job as Chaplain and I am proud that I could have been an instrument to help these soldiers find Christ again.  There is one faith, one Lord, one Baptism.  

PRINCIPLE FIVE: One Rule: Love one another as I have loved you. I find it very interesting to observe most religions, my own included, jockeying to be right, rather than focusing on loving one another as Christ loves us. Behavior follows from what your priority is. Conversion of heart means I focus on what Christ focused on. The basis of my Faith is not the Church, it is Christ and trying as I might to have in me the mind of Christ Jesus each day. (Philippians 2:5-12). It is the “every day” that is killing me, reminding me of the effects of Original Sin into which I must spend whatever time I have left.  I try. I hope. 

Two gifts we receive: the Eucharist, the Real Presence of Christ into our minds and heart, and the gift of peace which we then give to each other as Christ has just given it to us. Remember, these gifts are from God and pass through you to others. When Jesus tells us to pass on the good news to the whole world, we sometimes forget that it is in the simple act of sharing both love (Eucharist) and peace of Christ (Forgiveness) that we love others as Christ loves us. We can only give others what Christ has given us. All religions who confess that Jesus is the Lord, the Son of God, Savior share this peace with each other.   

DID YOU KNOW? The Lay Cistercians of Holy Spirit Monastery (Trappist), Conyers, Georgia, have an ecumenical group composed of other faith traditions. They make promises before the Abbot to convert their life to Christ using the Rule of St. Benedict and openness to the Spirit through silence, solitude, work, prayer, and community. They meet once a month in a Gathering Day for reflection, prayer, Liturgy of the Hours, and instruction from one of the monks. That in all things, may God be glorified. –St. Benedict

Praise be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and Forever. The God who is, who was, and who is to come at the end of the ages. Amen and Amen. –Cistercian doxology.

RESOURCES FOR THE CONTEMPLATIVE THINKER

RESOURCES THAT HAVE HELPED ME ON MY LAY CISTERCIAN JOURNEY (SO FAR) Here are some wonderful, contemplative websites that may help you find some rest for your soul. I admit my bias.  http://www.trappist.net

http://www.newadvent.com https://thecenterforcontemplativepractice.org http://www.cistercianfamily.org/

https://siena.org/

http://www.carlmccolman.net

http://scotthahn.com http://www.cistercianpublications.org http://dynamiccatholic.com http://www.centeringprayer.com/cntrgpryr.htm http://www.monk.org https://cistercianpublications.org/Category/CPCT/CistercianTradition

http://www.saintmeinrad.edu http://w2.vatican.va/content/vatican/en.html http://ccc.usccb.org/flipbooks/catechism/files/assets/basichtml/page-I.html#

http://www.catholicapologetics.org/ https://stpaulcenter.com/support-the-center https://www.osv.com/Home.aspx

http://www.osb.org/cist/

http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/how-weteach/catechesis/catechetical-sunday/word-ofgod/upload/lectio-divina.pdf http://www.ewtn.com/library/mary/bernard2.htm https://www.ecatholic2000.com/index2.html https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_shhU_H5Z0 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sfMYn3YcT8 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYE7CC1m_II http://www.ncregister.com/ https://cistercianfamily.org/lay-groups/

https://cuf.org/support-our-work/cuf-chapters/ https://catholicexchange.com/seven-capital-sins http://www.catholicapologetics.org/aff/courses.html  http://divineoffice.org https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/ http://www.integratedcatholiclife.org/

https://zenit.org/

https://lifeteen.com/blog/

http://catholicmom.com/

https://cruxnow.com/

https://www.wordonfire.org/ https://onepeterfive.com/

YOUTUBE

G.K. Chesterton 

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jE0b4zteOoI https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anBuPC6DpvE https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jE0b4zteOoI

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHaizmIj3ck https://youtube.com/watch?v=K8qqZup3Bg4www.youtube. com/watch?v=NnXlQWmubYw https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGGSxxuBtMk

Scott Hahn and Catholic Apologetics

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67WmIGLPvEM https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67WmIGLPvEM https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67WmIGLPvEM https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0uL_IAJWvX0 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dn1tWuIoZsg https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faIB-sOBDKk  

Bishop Robert Barron

https://www.youtube.com/user/wordonfirevideo/videos

FIVE CONTEMPLATIVE WEBSITES When I look up something that puzzles me almost 100% of the time, I use these five sites when I think of contemplative spirituality. I offer these sites as an aspiring Lay Cistercian in search of wisdom and humility. I thought you might like to see what they are and bookmark them.

NUMBER FIVE:  CISTERCIAN WEBSITES OF NOTE http://www.osb.org/cist/ You will find many hours of enjoyment clicking on and reading the various sites that pertain to Cistercians. Of particular interest to me were the sites about Lay Cistercians and those highlighting the movement’s early history. There are two branches of the Cistercian observance, Regular Observance ( O. Cist.) and Strict Observance (O.C.S.O.).

 NUMBER FOUR: LAY CISTERCIAN WEBSITES OF NOTE TO MOVE FROM SELF TO GOD

http://www.citeaux.net/wri-av/laics_cisterciens-eng.htm http://www.trappist.net/about/lay-cistercians http://www.carlmccolman.net/category/laycistercians/  Read this website. Carl is a Lay Cistercian of Holy Spirit Monastery, Conyers, Georgia, also where I aspire to be a Lay Cistercian. It is my favorite website of an individual practitioner of Cistercian piety.

NUMBER THREE: RESEARCH SITES TO GROW DEEPER INTO CHRIST JESUS http://newadvent.org   If there is one source I use more than others, it is New Advent.  It contains the Catholic Encyclopedia, Summa Theologica, Bible, Early primary sources or Fathers of the Church, plus other excellent links.  Don’t miss this one.

NUMBER TWO: TEACHINGS OF THE MAGISTERIUM (Vatican) http://w2.vatican.va/content/vatican/en.html  This site I have spent many happy hours looking up the actual texts about what the Church teaches, as opposed to what people say we teach but don’t. NUMBER

NUMBER ONE: MY WEBSITE

https://thecenterforcontemplativepractice.org

This is my own website.  I put it as number one because I use it the most, not because I think it is the best. It is the result of my daily Lectio Divina and a poor attempt to share some practical ways to practice contemplative spirituality, emphasizing the Cistercian heritage.  I have tried to give you a variety of websites that I use to grow from self to God.  They have all helped me look at who I am in my relationship with God (He must increase, I must decrease).

That in all things, may God be glorified. –St. Benedict

THE CHRIST IMPERATIVES Here are some of the commands that Jesus gave to us to help us to convert our lives from the World to the Spirit.

• Seeking perfection? Listen to me, for I am meek and humble of heart. Matthew 11:28-30

• Thirsty? Drink of the living waters! John 7:37.

• Hungry? Eat the food that gives eternal life! John 6:33-38. 

• Bewildered? Believe in the Master! John 3:11-21.

• Without hope? Be not afraid! John 13:33-35.

• Lost? Find the way. John 14:6-7.

• Tired because of the pain? Be renewed! John 15:1-7. • Afraid? Find peace! John 27-28.

• Afraid to believe? Believe! John 11:25-27.

• Without a family? Listen! John 10:7-18.

• In darkness? Walk in the light! John 8:12.

• Spiritually depressed? Be healed! John 5:24

Welcome, good and faithful servant, into the Kingdom, prepared for you before the world began.

Being a faithful follower of the Master is the easiest thing to talk about but the most challenging thing to do. As a Lay Cistercian, trying to convert my life daily to be more like Christ and less like me, I find these imperatives like beacons on the stormy waters of living in a world influenced by Original Sin. Spirituality is work and a struggle because we live in a foreign land, one whose default is not a conveyor belt to get to Heaven. Heaven is not automatic. If it was, why be spiritual? Just sit back and sin bravely. 

 Christ has shown us the way, given us Love as the gold standard, taught us how to love because he has loved us first, by his passion, death, and Resurrection. It is this faith that conquers the World. This faith is that of the Universal Church (those who have died and are in the peace of Christ, those who live on earth and struggle with the conversion of life, and those purifying themselves). Christ wanted us to live out our moving from self to God amid the community of Faith. This community has the Mystery of Faith as its core. These imperatives help us as a community as we approach the Sacred. 

The core imperative is: love one another as I have loved you. I pray that I am what I hope to become in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Praise to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever. The God who is, who was, and who is to come at the end of the ages. Amen and Amen.  –Cistercian doxology

MEASURING SUCCESS

Measurement is an essential part of science and education. It tells us what works and does not, and more importantly, why. Christ had a system for measuring success, too.

 Be careful when you take any test, especially this one. The assumptions will kill you. With that in mind, this is what you should know before you make this measurement. The good news is, there is only one yardstick with which we must be measured—have in you the mind of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 2:5). 

THE CONTEMPLATIVE PRACTICE SERIES 

If you are interested in purchasing any of the books in this contemplative practices series, they are online at: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Dr.+Michael+F.+Conrad&i=stripbooks&ref=nb_sb_noss

BLOG: https://thecenterforcontemplativepractice.org     

WHAT IS THE CENTER FOR CONTEMPLATIVE PRACTICE? 

The Center for Contemplative Practice is a ministry of people devoted to providing spiritual resources for adults, such as publishing books, training, blogs, and online meditations. 

DISCLAIMER The ideas and meditations contained in any books or blogs shared by The Center for Contemplative Practice do not represent the official, authoritative teaching of the Roman Catholic Church or any Cistercian Monastery or Lay Cistercian group. These ideas result from Lectio Divina’s spiritual meditations by the author and reflect only his interpretation of Catholic spiritual thoughts through contemplation. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Michael F. Conrad, B.S., M.R.E., Ed.D., is retired from a full life of trying to make money seek fame and recognition by the world, all without much success. Regarding what the World thinks is successful, he has been a failure. Coming to his senses, even after the age of 79, he now struggles to have Christ Jesus’s mind in him. (Philippians 2:5) Still running the race and searching for the prize, he has had a lifetime of activities to help him in his quest: he is proud to have been a U.S. Army Chaplain, pastor of parish ministry, adjunct instructor of Adult Education at Indiana University (Bloomington) and University of South Florida (Tampa) and Barry University (Florida), high school instructor of religion, trainer of managers and supervisors, adjunct trainer for the Florida Certified Public Manager program, instructional designer for the State of Florida, former Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator, and currently a publisher, blogger, and author, He is a Professed Lay Cistercian member of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery, Conyers, Georgia, proud father, and a humbled husband. 

What follows is a poem about my life. It is, as yet, unfinished, as is my life, but the elements are all present.

The Poem of My Life

 I sing the song of life and Love…

…sometimes flat and out of tune

 …sometimes eloquent and full of passion

…sometimes forgetting notes and melody

…sometimes quaint and intimate

…often forgetful and negligent

…often in tune with the very core of my being

…often with the breath of those who would pull me down,

     shouting right in my face

…often with the breath of life uplifting me to heights never       

     before dreamed

…greatly grateful for the gift of humility and obedience to  

    The One

…greatly thankful for adoption, the discovery of the new life    of pure energy

…greatly appreciative for sharing meaning with others of

   The Master

…greatly sensitive for not judging the motives of anyone but         

    me

…happy to be accepted as an aspiring Lay Cistercian …happy to spend time in Eucharistic Adoration

…happy and humbled to be an adopted son of the Father …happy for communities of faith and Love with wife,      

    daughter, friends

…mindful that the passage of time increases each year …mindful of the significant distractions of cancer and cardiac arrest

…mindful of my center and the perspective that I am loved    

     moreover, I must love back with all the energy of my   

     heart and strength, yet always falling a little short

 …mindful of the energy I receive from The One in Whom I

      find purpose and meaning…Forever.

To The One who is, Who was, and Who is to come at the end of the ages, be glory, honor, power, and blessings through The Redeemer Son, in unity with the Advocate, the Spirit of Love.

From The One who is, Who was, and Who is to come at the end of the ages, I seek hope that His words about the purpose of life are true, that He is the Way that leads to life…Forever.

With The One who is, Who was, and Who is to come at the end of the ages, I seek the fierce Love so I can have in me the mind of Christ Jesus, my purpose in life and my center…Forever.   “That in all things, may God be glorified.” –St. Benedict

THE DIVINE EQUATION: The language of God

In my minuscule accumulation of knowledge throughout my life experience, many languages are out there. Almost all of them I have a novice’s mastery, and a few of them enough to know that I know how much I don’t know. St. Thomas Aquinas, O.P., great Doctor of the Church, has a quote close to how I feel about where I am with the enormity of knowledge. https://www.catholic.com/qa/when-st-thomas-aquinas-likened-his-work-to-straw-was-that-a-retraction-of-what-he-wrote

Here are some of the questions and thoughts that present themselves to me through my presence with the Holy Spirit.

  1. What is God’s language? Because God is unknowable to humans because we are not God and don’t speak God, that said, we are able to know God through the languages and assumptions that we have developed collectively. Of all the languages, they only give us a human glimps of what awaits us.
  2. The Messiah is such because He became one of us to tell us what to do on earth to prepare to exist in a condition where God is the language.
  3. The language of God that humans do have is one of adoption as sons and daughters of the Father. We receive it in Baptism and the spirit of Truth.
  4. The Divine Equation contains only one language, yet has three components, all one: pure knowledge, pure love, and pure service. Jesus came to earth to show us how to use this equation in our daily behaviors, those that lead us to the light and not the darkness. The language of God is love, but not human love. To discover what that meant, he commissioned the Apostles to go to the whole world and tell people how to love, or how to use The Art of Contemplative Practice to love others as He loved us.
  5. The Divine Equation does not prove or describe God but rather is there to help humans to realize what it means to love others as Christ loved us, and Christ is the Son of God. Whatever time we have on earth, it is to realize six elements of The Divine Equation and answer them with the totality of who we are. They are:
    1. What is the purpose of all life?
    2. What is the purpose of my life in the midst of all life?
    3. What does reality look like?
    4. How does it all fit together?
    5. How can I love fiercely?
    6. You know you are going to die, now what?
  6. When I try to unravel The Divine Equation, I do so with the totality of my life experiences. This is why I have reason and with reason the ability to remember and store things. Your anwers to The Divine Equation will be different from mine. All of our answers are measured against The Christ Principle, that from which all reality flows and into which all that is real ends, the Alpha and the Omega.
  7. God’s language is pure energy, composed of pure knowledge, pure love, and pure service. Pure, as I use it in the human construct, means 100% of its capacility and capacity, consistently, and forever. In contemplation, my experience is that this is a feeling more than a mental idea having human language to describe that which is beyond human description and comprehension. In the Old Testament, Israelites carried the Arc of the Covenant containing the mannah (What is it?) and the tablets of the Ten Commandments. These were so holy that anyone touching the Arc would die.
  8. When we go to Heaven, we take with us the sum of all the authentic choices we have made that allow us to be more human, and so more spiritual. What is unauthentic is burned off in Purgatory as we rediscover what we lost and make a new beginning. Purgatory is a place of second chances. Those who are not baptized will go there and, at the disgression of God’s mercy, will have a second chance at redemption or not.
  9. God speaks pure energy, composed of pure knowledge, pure love, and pure service. Being pure means God is 100% of God’s nature,. The best example of being full of grace is the Blessed Mother who was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit (Pure Service) so that Christ, being both pure human and pure God (Love) could give glory to the Father (Pure knowledge) and thus allow each one of us to become adoted sons and daughters of the Father, if we so desired.
  10. I am the language of God who looks out on the reality that I inhabit for the seventy or eighty years that I am fortunate to live as a human. In my Lay Cistercian practices so far, my conclusions are that I need to carve out time from the corrupt world to sit next to Christ who is incorruptible and just embibe energy as I can accept it.
  11. The Holy Spirit speaks through me by what I do, how I pray, my humility, my obedience to God’s will through other humans, and by what is in my heart. Ex fructibus cognocetis– by their fruits, you shall know them. Read this idea in its context and reflect what it means.

False Prophets.*

15“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but ravenous wolves underneath.k

16l By their fruits, you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?

17Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit.

18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit.

19Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

20So by their fruits you will know them.m

The True Disciple.

21“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven,* but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.n

22Many will say to me on that day,o ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’p

23Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you.* Depart from me, you evildoers.’q

Be careful of discerning the will of God for you from those who spout biblical quotes that do not produce life-giving fruit.

St. Benedict cautions his monks to “put their trust in God alone.”

Use the smell test to determine what anyone who claims to speak for God does.

uiodg

WHAT IS THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE?

The title, I must apologize, is somewhat misleading. In my Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5) this morning, while I was sitting in the bathtub taking a shower (at 81+ I have to sit in a chair), these thoughts came to me. I was struck by what the center of the physical universe might be. Here is the YouTube I referenced later on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itcS4gQjobQ

My assumption, part of the way I think about reality, is using The Rule of Threes. I look at reality to parse the complexities of scientific, philosophical, and spiritual dimensions, each with distinct characteristics and different measures to access them. One reality with three very separate and distinct universes I observe as one. Only my mind can separate these three functions because they occur each moment and simultaneously.

PHYSICAL UNIVERSE– This is the basis for all matter, energy, time, and properties of matter, with the physics that we now know. Humans, animals, plants, gases, rocks, stars, planets, black holes, dark matter and energy, and everything made up of physical matter all inhabit this universe.

MENTAL UNIVERSE– Simultaneously, the mental universe allows humans to ask questions of the physical universe and devise languages to probe the depths of what, why, who, when, where, and so what? Only humans live in this universe. This is the universe of collective humanity and each individual with a beginning and an ending. Scientists can use their tools and measurements with logic and scientific methodology to determine the center of the physical universe. Determining the center of the mental universe is quite a bit more challenging. I hold that the center of the collective mental universe is me from when I begin to depart this life. What I do in-between influences the value of my life. Some choices are good, while others are inferior and can lead to dysfunction. Erich Fromm has such an approach to human love, which he says must be acquired through experiences and testings to see what is authentic. I appreciate Fromm’s approach to learning love and recommend you listen to the audiobook. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oKwIlz-dzx4

In one sense, the human race is the center of the universe (both physical and mental). Humans are the only ones that know that we know. We have reason to be able to look at the physical universe and seek our purpose. We also have the ability to choose options which means we can define that purpose with whatever we think is meaningful. Animals share many characteristics of life with us, but they are not self-aware as we are. They are self-aware according to their nature, however.

As the only being in this universe, we observe one other dimension within the human species: the individual who has a beginning and an ending.

Each human being has a purpose and a center to their lives within the timeframe allowed for their existence. Humans have reason and the ability to choose because whatever happens within their beginning and end is the sum of who they are. Not only that, it is the promise of whom they can become.

A center is the one value or purpose that, if you took it away, all the other values and behaviors would collapse. Each person has a center. They either choose it, or it is a default.

I wake up, and eighty-one years later, I can ask, What is the purpose of life. Not only that, I have the authentic answer. My individual universe is within the macro universe of the physical universe plus the mental universe. I will die because this universe has an ending for me, whenever that is. Is that all there is?

My conclusion for there being a physical and mental universe is that all reality prepares me to make a choice about the next step in my evolution of the species. In this concept, each individual chooses to say YES to the YES of the first creation, to reestablish the NO of Adam and Eve, to confirm that the YES of the resurrection of Christ is real for me and that I recognize and accept my adoption as a son (daughter) of the Father and my inheritance awaiting me in the Kingdom of Heaven.

SPIRITUAL UNIVERSE— Here is mindful of cogitating. The purpose of the physical and mental universes is that I (and all the other I’s) can say YES. Yes, to what? I have reason and the ability to choose so that I have the option to choose the next universe (spiritual universe). This universe began with the Christ Principle, and its sole purpose is to teach me to love authentically so that I can claim my inheritance as an adopted son (daughter) of God. I AM the most important person in all three universes because I am the only one who can say YES to God’s invitation (Baptism) by my free choice to love others as Christ loved us (Belief).

One of the characteristics of the spiritual universe is that it assumes the image and likeness of the one who created it. God sent him an only-begotten son to become one of us to show us how to go. In the relationship covenant with God, Israel got part of it right but failed to move from just the New Jerusalem as a city to the New Jerusalem in the kingdom of heaven. Christ came as messiah, not to do away with the law, but to allow it to evolve as it was intended before time existed.

I am the only one who can say NO to God, powerful as God is, and there are no repercussions for my choice. I have to live with the consequences of my choice now and later.

Choosing the spiritual universe means I realize that I have dual citizenship (the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of earth). Each and every human is affected by the sin of Adam. St. Paul says in Romans 5 that “…12* Therefore, just as through one person sin entered the world,h and through sin, death, and thus death came to all, inasmuch as all sinned”

What that means for one who chooses the sign of contraction, the cross, as a coat of arms, is that everything in the spiritual universe is the opposite of what you experience in the world. It is schizophrenia of sort with two sides tugging over who is authentic. That is why St. Paul warns us that “.

16Now if I do what I do not want, I concur that the law is good.

17So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.

18For I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh. The willing is ready at hand, but doing the good is not.k

19For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want.

20Now if [I] do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.

15What I do, I do not understand. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate.

I begin my dual citizenship, living in the world until I die and living as an adopted son (daughter) of the Father forever, with Baptism, and continue under the watchful eye and blanket of Faith of the Church Universal.

Key to the understanding of my adoption as a son (daughter) of the Father is the realization that my nature is good (what God made is good, not rotten) but that I am prone to making bad choices in terms of that adoption covenant. To think otherwise would be to discount the value of my free choice and my resolve as a Lay Cistercian to seek God each day where I find God and as I am.

I have chosen you, says Christ, you have not chosen me; from all eternity before there was time, my plan was for you to be with me Forever. You must take up your cross daily (battle the forces that militate against the gifts of the Holy Spirit) and follow me. Just because your road is rocky doesn’t mean you are on the wrong road. Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your soul.

THE ART OF CONTEMPLATIVE PRACTICE

What follows is a cryptic outline of the blogs I will narrate for YouTube. Contemplate practice is just that, the repetition of going into your inner room, locking the door, and waiting.

OUTLINE OF THE ART OF CONTEMPLATIVE PRACTICE

I. FUNDAMENTAL CORE OF CONTEMPLATIVE PRACTICE

SKILL ONE: What is the purpose of life? Learn how to discover the meaning of life? Skill: How to be aware of God’s purpose for humanity?

SKILL TWO: What is my purpose of life within that purpose? Learn how to discover the purpose of your life within God’s purpose. Skill: How to choose a personal center within what God intends for humanity?

SKILL THREE: What does reality look like? Learn how to approach one reality using the divine gift of eyeglasses so you can see three distinct universes. Skill: How to see Jesus in three universes yet one reality. How to view the spiritual universe with Pauline duality: The World and The Spirit?

SKILL FOUR: How does it all fit together? Learn how all reality is centered on six cosmic paradigm shifts that lead to you. Skill: What are six paradigm shifts that happened in the cosmos, and what does that have to do with my contemplative approach to moving from self to God?

SKILL FIVE: How do I love fiercely? Learn how to love in three universes, discovering resonance and not dissonance in reality. Skill: What tools for good works does St. Benedict recommends in his Prologue to the Rule? How can I become what I read?

SKILL SIX: I know I am going to die, now what? Learn how to use contemplative practices to place you in the presence of God where you seek to love others each day as Christ loved us, and how Heaven or Hell begins now, on earth, and continues after you die. Skill: How do you put together all six questions as part of the Divine Equation? How to interpret the six elements of the Divine Equation as you grow from self to God?

II. FORMATION: THE CONTEMPLATIVE SKILLS AND PRACTICES TO ALLOW ME TO GROW IN THE CAPACITY FOR GOD (Capacitas Dei)

SKILL SEVEN: What is Christ’s tools to live in a corrosive reality? Learn how the Rule of St. Benedict is a guide, an ongoing movement process to help you sustain and toughen your Faith amid a secular society without God. Just because your road is rocky doesn’t mean you are on the wrong path. SKILL: How to see Jesus in Scripture? How to use the Rule of St. Benedict to grow into what Scripture invites us to become? (John 20:30-31)

SKILL EIGHT: Real Food and Real Drink that is a person. Learn how to eat the food for the journey to sustain you in your current struggle to have in you the mind of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5) Skill: How to see Jesus in the Eucharist and Eucharistic Adoration and sit next to the heart of Christ in love.

SKILL NINE: How to manage the effects of Original Sin. Learn the meaning of mercy and how to make all things new in your spiritual journey. Learn how to forgive others even if they don’t forgive you. Skill:  How to make all things new with Christ?

SKILL ELEVEN: Learn how to use the various ways to pray with Christ through His Church to be present to God now and in Heaven. Skill: Lectio Divina and Liturgy of the Hours as waiting for the coming of the Lord.

III. TRANSFORMATION: USING THE SKILLS YOU HAVE ACQUIRED TO MOVE FROM YOUR FALSE SELF TO YOUR TRUE SELF (Conversio morae)

SKILL TWELVE: How to see Jesus. Learn how to sit on a park bench in the middle of winter and listen to Jesus with the “ear of the heart.”Skill: How to move from your false self to your true self.

EXERCISE THIRTEEN: Prayer links “the moment” with the Christ Principle. Learn what and how to pack for the journey to Heaven. Skill: How to Link each day to the death and Resurrection of Christ using the Golden Thread.

SKILL FOURTEEN: Learn how to use the five unique gifts you received at Baptism from your Father in Heaven to allow you to thrive as an adopted son or daughter of the Father. Skills: How to activate the five gifts that Christ gave us to grow in the capacity of God (capacitas dei): Silence, Solitude, Prayer, Work, Community.

SKILL FIFTEEN: Learn how to use silence and solitude in Lectio Divina to seek contemplation to help you survive as a pilgrim in a foreign land while you wait to claim your inheritance as a son or daughter of the Father. Skill: Learn how to enter the one place no one wants to look and find fulfillment as a human being using silence and solitude.

SKILL SIXTEEN: How to seek God each day by conversion of life. Learn to see what Heaven will be like now while you live and be aware of what Hell is like now. Skill: How to live each day using all of these skills to grow to “have the mind of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5)

Next step: Narrate a ten to fifteen-minute YouTube on each skill.

The Center for Contemplative Practice is a HOW TO dimension of living a contemplative lifestyle in the midst of the chaos of the World.

WISDOM: The quest to find god

During one of my Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5) meditations, I thought about the wisdom that Christ came to give us through revelation. I also thought of how great thinkers have taught us what the appropriate behavior for humans is. In his simple message of “love others as I have loved you,” Christ is the fulfillment of all the thinkers. Maybe being the Son of God has something to do with it, don’t you think? I offer you some wise sayings of some prominent thinkers and some Scriptural references from the Book of Wisdom and Gospels to give you a sense that these thinkers were on the right track but not quite there. You be the judge.

AZQuotes.com. Retrieved July 18, 2020, from AZQuotes.com Web site: https://www.azquotes.com/quote/658201

HERACLITUS

  • The soul is dyed the color of its thoughts. Think only on those things that are in line with your principles and can bear the light of day. The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you choose, what you think, and what you do is who you become. Your integrity is your destiny … it is the light that guides your way.
  • The world is nothing but a great desire to live and a great dissatisfaction with living.
  • Dogs bark at what they don’t understand.
  • Good character is not formed in a week or a month. It is created little by little, day by day. Protracted and patient effort is needed to develop good character.
  • Because it is so unbelievable, the Truth often escapes being known.
  • If you do not expect the unexpected, you will not recognize it when it arrives.
  • All things flow, nothing abides. You cannot step into the same river twice, for the waters are continually flowing on. Nothing is permanent except change.

PYTHAGORAS

  • The soul of man is divided into three parts, intelligence, reason, and passion. Intelligence and passion are possessed by other animals, but reason by man alone.
  • Know thyself and thou wilt know the universe.
  • We come from God. As the tree from the root and the stream from the spring; that’s why we should always be in contact with Him, as the trunk from the root. Because the stream dries up when it is separated from the spring and the tree dies when is uprooted.
  • It is better to be silent, than to dispute with the Ignorant.
  • In anger, we should refrain both from speech and action.
  • Each celestial body, in fact, each and every atom, produces a particular sound on account of its movement, its rhythm or vibration. All these sounds and vibrations form a universal harmony in which each element while having its own function and character, contributes to the whole.

PLATO

  • No one is more hated than he who speaks the truth.
  • Be kind. Every person you meet is fighting a difficult battle.
  • Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.
  • The right question is usually more important than the right answer.
  • Mankind will never see an end of trouble until lovers of wisdom come to hold political power, or the holders of power become lovers of wisdom.
  • Don’t force your children into your ways, for they were created for a time different from your own.
  • Someday, in the distant future, our grand-children’s grand-children will develop a new equivalent of our classrooms. They will spend many hours in front of boxes with fires glowing within. May they have the wisdom to know the difference between light and knowledge.
  • When you feel grateful, you become great and eventually attract great things.

THALES

  • Avoid doing what you would blame others for doing.
  • The most difficult thing in life is to know yourself.
  • What is it that is most beautiful? – The Universe; for it is the work of God. What is most powerful? – Necessity; because it triumphs over all things. What is most difficult? – To know one’s self. What is most easy? – To give advice. What method must we take to lead a good life? – To do nothing we would condemn in others. What is necessary to happiness? – A sound body and a contented mind.
  • The past is certain, the future obscure.
  • Time is the wisest of all things that are; for it brings everything to light.
  • A multitude of words is no proof of a prudent mind.

ANAXIMANDER

  • There are many worlds and many systems of Universes existing all at the same time, all of them perishable.
  • The source from which existing things derive their existence is also that to which they return at their destruction.
  • Immortal and indestructible, surrounds all and directs all.

DEMOCRITUS

  • Happiness resides not in possessions, and not in gold, happiness dwells in the soul.
  • Nothing exists except atoms and empty space; everything else is opinion.
  • The man enslaved to wealth can never be honest.
  • Everywhere man blames nature and fate yet his fate is mostly but the echo of his character and passion, his mistakes, and his weaknesses.
  • Life unexamined is not worth living.
  • Our sins are more easily remembered than our good deeds.

ARISTOTLE

  • Be a free thinker and don’t accept everything you hear as truth. Be critical and evaluate what you believe in.
  • Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.
  • The most important relationship we can all have is the one you have with yourself, the most important journey you can take is one of self-discovery. To know yourself, you must spend time with yourself, you must not be afraid to be alone. Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.
  • Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.
  • The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.
  • A fool contributes nothing worth hearing and takes offense at everything.
  • Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing.
  • Some men are just as sure of the truth of their opinions as are others of what they know.
  • Anybody can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.

SOCRATES

  • Falling down is not a failure. Failure comes when you stay where you have fallen.
  • Most people, including ourselves, live in a world of relative ignorance. We are even comfortable with that ignorance because it is all we know. When we first start facing the truth, the process may be frightening, and many people run back to their old lives. But if you continue to seek the truth, you will eventually be able to handle it better. In fact, you want more! It’s true that many people around you now may think you are weird or even a danger to society, but you don’t care. Once you’ve tasted the truth, you won’t ever want to go back to being ignorant.
  • What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders, they disobey their parents. They ignore the law. They riot in the streets inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them?
  • If you want to be wrong then follow the masses.
  • The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.
  • When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser.
  • Awareness of ignorance is the beginning of wisdom.
  • In every person, there is a sun. Just let them shine.
  • What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders, they disobey their parents. They ignore the law. They riot in the streets inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them?
  • I know that I am intelligent because I know that I know nothing.

PARMENIDES

  • We can speak and think only of what exists. And what exists is uncreated and imperishable for it is whole and unchanging and complete. It was not or nor shall be different since it is now, all at once, one and continuous.
  • Being alone is and nothing is altogether not.
  • Gaze steadfastly at things which, though far away, are yet present to the mind.
  • Let reason alone decide.

ZENO OF ELEA

  • By silence, I hear other men’s imperfections and conceal my own.
  • The goal of life is living in agreement with nature.
  • The avaricious man is like the barren sandy ground of the desert which sucks in all the rain and dew with greediness but yields no fruitful herbs or plants for the benefit of others.
  • Beauty is the flower of chastity.

EMPEDOCLES

  • There are forces in nature called Love and Hate. The force of Love causes elements to be attracted to each other and to be built up into some particular form or person, and the force of Hate causes the decomposition of things.
  • Each man believes only his experience.
  • Having glimpsed a small part of life, men rise up and disappear as smoke, knowing only what each one has learned.
  • The force that unites the elements to become all things is Love, also called Aphrodite; Love brings together dissimilar elements into a unity, to become a composite thing. Love is the same force that human beings find at work in themselves whenever they feel joy, love and peace. Strife, on the other hand, is the force responsible for the dissolution of the one back into its many, the four elements of which it was composed.
  • Many fires burn below the surface.

LUCRETIUS

  • The greatest wealth is to live content with little, for there is never want where the mind is satisfied.
  • No matter how difficult a task may look.. Persistence and steady action will get you through.
  • Nothing can be created out of nothing.
  • Why shed tears that you must die? For if your past life has been one of enjoyment, and if all your pleasures have not passed through your mind, as through a sieve, and vanished, leaving not a rack behind, why then do you not, like a thankful guest, rise cheerfully from life’s feast, and with a quiet mind go take your rest.
  • The water hollows out the stone, not by force but drop by drop.
  • So it is more useful to watch a man in times of peril, and in adversity to discern what kind of man he is; for then at last words of truth are drawn from the depths of his heart, and the mask is torn off, reality remains.

EPICURUS

  • Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.
  • The things you really need are few and easy to come by; but the things you can imagine you need are infinite, and you will never be satisfied.
  • Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?
  • Not what we have But what we enjoy, constitutes our abundance.
  • He who has peace of mind disturbs neither himself nor another.

PLOTINUS

  • You can only apprehend the Infinite by a faculty that is superior to reason.
  • The soul that beholds beauty becomes beautiful.
  • We are not separated from spirit, we are in it.
  • In this state of absorbed contemplation, there is no longer any question of holding an object in view; the vision is such that seeing and seen are one; object and act of vision have become identical.
  • I am striving to give back the Divine in myself to the Divine in the All.
  • Withdraw into yourself and look.

SIRACH

All wisdom* is from the Lord

and remains with him forever.a

2The sands of the sea, the drops of rain,

the days of eternity—who can count them?

3Heaven’s height, earth’s extent,

the abyss and wisdom—who can explore them?

4Before all other things wisdom was created;

and prudent understanding from eternity.

6The root of wisdom—to whom has it been revealed?

Her subtleties—who knows them? b

8* There is but one, wise and truly awesome,

seated upon his throne—the Lord.

9It is he who created her,

saw her and measured her,c

Poured her forth upon all his works,

10upon every living thing according to his bounty,

lavished her upon those who love him.

Fear of the Lord Is Wisdom*

11The fear of the Lord* is glory and exultation,

gladness and a festive crown.

12The fear of the Lord rejoices the heart,

giving gladness, joy, and long life.

13Those who fear the Lord will be happy at the end,

even on the day of death, they will be blessed.

14The beginning of wisdom is to fear the Lord;

she is created with the faithful in the womb.d

15With the godly she was created from of old,

and with their descendants, she will keep the faith.

16The fullness of wisdom is to fear the Lord;

she inebriates them with her fruits.e

17Their entire house she fills with choice foods,

their granaries with her produce.

18The crown of wisdom is the fear of the Lord,

flowering with peace and perfect health.

19Knowledge and full understanding she rains down;

she heightens the glory of those who possess her.

20The root of wisdom is to fear the Lord;

her branches are long life.

21The fear of the Lord drives away sins;

where it abides, it turns back all anger.

22Unjust anger can never be justified;

anger pulls a person to utter ruin.

23* Until the right time, the patient remain calm,

then cheerfulness comes back to them.

24Until the right time, they hold back their words;

then the lips of many will tell of their good sense.

25Among wisdom’s treasures are the model for knowledge;

but godliness is an abomination to the sinner.

26If you desire wisdom, keep the commandments,

and the Lord will bestow her upon you;

27For the fear of the Lord is wisdom and discipline;

faithfulness and humility are his delights.

28Do not disobey the fear of the Lord,*

do not approach it with the duplicity of heart.f

29Do not be a hypocrite before others;

over your lips, keep watch.

30 Do not exalt yourself lest you fall

and bring dishonor upon yourself;

For then, the Lord will reveal your secrets

and cast you down in the midst of the assembly.

Because you did not approach the fear of the Lord,

and your heart was full of deceit.

http://www.usccb.org/sirach

REFLECTION

Looking at all the wisdom in these persons gives me hope that humanity, although wounded by Original Sin, still possesses the urge to seek the way, the truth, and the life.

CONVERSIO MORAE: Reaching maturity as a human

At the heart of Lay Cistercian spirituality, or the way each person, each day seeks God by having in them the mind of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5), is conversion.

I share with you some of the readings that have made me ponder my morality and immortality during Lent.

https://www.goodcatholic.com/your-guide-to-the-seven-deadly-sins/

Whenever I think of converting myself from my false self to my true self, the question arises, What is my false self? It means MOVING from having the habit of sin to the habit of love.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVcmwncKwPU

THE CHIRST PRINCIPLE: LINKING THE VINE TO THE BRANCHES

Here are some thoughts about how the Christ Principle links all peoples to himself.

The Coming of Jesus’ Hour.*20Now there were some Greeks* among those who had come up to worship at the feast.n21* They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.”o22Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.p23* Jesus answered them,q “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.24* Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat;r but if it dies, it produces much fruit.25Whoever loves his life* loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.s26Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.t27“I am troubled* now. Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour.u28Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.”v29The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder; but others said, “An angel has spoken to him.”w30Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come for my sake but for yours.x31Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world* will be driven out.y32And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.”z33He said this indicating the kind of death he would die.34So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains forever.* Then how can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?”a35Jesus said to them, “The light will be among you only a little while. Walk while you have the light, so that darkness may not overcome you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where he is going.b36While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of the light.”c

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/john/12

What do you think this phrase, “And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself” means? Lifted up from the earth to where? Draw everyone, not just Jews, to myself? Ponder this reading in the light of all creation being resonant through the Christ Principle.

When I link myself to Jesus, the vine, my thoughts tend to go like this.

I am the only me that there is in the world, despite the number of me’s out there. Why is that?

I am here for only seventy or eighty years, if I am lucky. Why is that?

Within that seventy or eighty years, I am like a book or a computer that records everything on my brain. Why do I have reason and the ability to choose what I put in that book?

Some thing in life are meaningful and rewarding while others in my book are worthy of shame and I would be shamed to bring them up again. What is the center against whom I measure what is meaningful and what is hurtful to my humanity?

The World and the values it says are meaningful will not bring me to a higher level in and of itself. Why it is that the Christ Principle will fulfill my desire to know, love and serve a power greater than me and one which I aspire to attain as I can?

To be lifted by to this next level of my evolution, I alone must die to my old self in order to find the source of energy that will propel me towards my destiny. The purpose is life is to know, love, and serve God in this lifetime so that we can be happy with Him in Heaven. (Baltimore Catechism, Question 6).

ARE YOU FULL OF HATRED?

I know that I am.  Being full of hatred, depending on your assumptions, means different things to different readers (or writers). Here are some reflections on hatred and some contexts in which they might be good or evil.  Once, when I was thinking about having in me the mind of Christ Jesus (Phil 2:5), I had thoughts of hatred come into my mind. My first instinct was to get rid of these thoughts of hatred, because, as we are taught from our youth, hatred is bad but love is good.  That is still true, but I went deeper into my reflections with Christ. Here are some of the statements I hold true.

MY HATRED THOUGHTS

  • Hate the sin but love the sinner.
  • Hatred of another person is sinful because the fullness of you speak comes from your heart.
  • We should cultivate a hatred of sin.
  • Sin smells foul.
  • The wages of sin is death.
  • There is no room in your heart for both hatred and love.
  • In the politics of hatred, various politicians, calumniate, disrespect, and hate other politicians, slandering their personality rather than discussing policies.
  • Religions hate other Christians and their teachings, rather than loving others as Christ loves us.
  • Wives may hate husbands that do not measure up to what they think a husband should be, while husbands hate their wives because they are nagging and negative in all their comments.
  • Children may hate their parents because of their resistance to correction and discipline.
  • Family or friends may hate each other because they don’t like the personalities of the other.
  • Moms and Dads may hate the behavior of their children that is not authentic (drugs, alcohol and orgiastic sex –Erich Fromm), but they love their children.

WHAT IS HATRED

Here is Merriam-Webster’s definition of hatred uncut, for your reflection.

1:    a: intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger,              or sense of injury

bextreme dislike or disgust: ANTIPATHYLOATHING had a great hate of hard work

ca systematic and especially politically exploited expression of hatred

a crime motivated by bigotry and hateoften used before another noun hate mail an organization tracking hate groups— see also HATE CRIME

2:    an object of hatred

a generation whose finest hate had been big business— F. L. Paxson

hatedhating

Definition of hate (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1to feel extreme enmity toward to regard with active hostility hates his country’s enemies

2to have a strong aversion to find very distasteful hated to have to meet strangers hate hypocrisy

intransitive verb

to express or feel extreme enmity or active hostility 

harsh faces and hating eyes— Katherine A. Porter

         hate one’s guts.

REFLECTION ON THE REFLECTION OF EVIL
When I look at the definition of Hate, I am struck by the fact that hatred is an emotion, an attitude, but one that causes damage to the one who posses it. But, is all hatred evil?  Here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says:

2302 By recalling the commandment, “You shall not kill,” 94 our Lord asked for peace of heart and denounced murderous anger and hatred as immoral.

Anger is a desire for revenge. “To desire vengeance in order to do evil to someone who should be punished is illicit,” but it is praiseworthy to impose restitution “to correct vices and maintain justice.” 95 If anger reaches the point of a deliberate desire to kill or seriously wound a neighbor, it is gravely against charity; it is a mortal sin. The Lord says, “Everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment.” 96

2303 Deliberate hatred is contrary to charity. Hatred of the neighbor is a sin when one deliberately wishes him evil. Hatred of the neighbor is a grave sin when one deliberately desires him grave harm. “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” 97

2304 Respect for and development of human life require peace. Peace is not merely the absence of war, and it is not limited to maintaining a balance of powers between adversaries. Peace cannot be attained on earth without safeguarding the goods of persons, free communication among men, respect for the dignity of persons and peoples, and the assiduous practice of fraternity. Peace is “the tranquillity of order.” 98 Peace is the work of justice and the effect of charity. 99

Hatred is an attitude of mind, as I thought about when I meditated on Phil 2:5. It can be a blocker of good but it also can be the motivation to banish evil thoughts, as St. Benedict says in Chapter 4 of the Rule: “Your way of acting should be different from the world’s way; the love of Christ must come before all else. You are not to act in anger or nurse a grudge. Rid our heart of all deceit.”

Do you notice that Hatred does not exist by itself?  The Catechism of the Church Universal says that we must not be held hostage by hatred or anger, both of which usually hold hand with each other. Hatred is either rooted in something good or something evil. Christ showed anger at what people did, as in the Temple with the money changers. (Matthew 21:12)  How about an agitated Jesus excoriating the Pharisees in Matthew 23: 13?  Jesus, you will note, hated evil and fought against the ATTITUDE of hypocrisy. He was disgusted with Pharisees in telling people one thing but doing quite another. A modern parallel is the clergy scandals of the Catholic Church. Not everyone is involved but it is something Jesus would have certainly put in Matthew 23:17 if he was sitting before you. I hate the clergy scandals that leave innocent victims in their wake. I hate the fact that some have chosen to be wolves in sheep’s clothing. Jesus did not hate the person but the sin committed by the person as an attempt to find love.

Love demands work to prepare to receive the Lord into your heart. Is your house clean, if you expect God to come into your home and break bread with you? Sin is the dust of choosing the wrong way to love. Jesus is the broom. I am the sweeper.

If I have evil hatred in my heart, there is no room for peace and the love of Christ to enter. No one can have two masters, says Christ.

God and Money.

24* “No one can serve two masters.m He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
During this time of Lent, go to that inner room, prepare for the coming of Christ, seek mercy, and wait.
uiodg

AND I WILL DRAW ALL PEOPLE TO MYSELF

Here is a reading that has helped me to experience the lessons of Christ, our Rabbi, our High Priest, our Advocate, and the Christ Principle.

The Anointing at Bethany.a1* Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.b2They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served, while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him.c3Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus* and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.d4Then Judas the Iscariot, one [of] his disciples, and the one who would betray him, said,5“Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages* and given to the poor?”6He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief and held the money bag and used to steal the contributions.e7So Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Let her keep this for the day of my burial.*8You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”f9[The] large crowd of the Jews found out that he was there and came, not only because of Jesus, but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.g10And the chief priests plotted to kill Lazarus too,11because many of the Jews were turning away and believing in Jesus because of him.h

The Entry into Jerusalem.*12i On the next day, when the great crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,13they took palm branches* and went out to meet him, and cried out:

“Hosanna!

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,

[even] the king of Israel.”j14Jesus found an ass and sat upon it, as is written:

15“Fear no more, O daughter Zion;*

see, your king comes, seated upon an ass’s colt.”k16His disciples did not understand this at first, but when Jesus had been glorified they remembered that these things were written about him and that they had done this* for him.l17* So the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from death continued to testify.18This was [also] why the crowd went to meet him, because they heard that he had done this sign.19So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the whole world* has gone after him.”m

The Coming of Jesus’ Hour.*20Now there were some Greeks* among those who had come up to worship at the feast.n21* They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.”o22Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.p23* Jesus answered them,q “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.24* Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat;r but if it dies, it produces much fruit.25Whoever loves his life* loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.s26Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.t27“I am troubled* now. Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour.u28Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.”v29The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder; but others said, “An angel has spoken to him.”w30Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come for my sake but for yours.x31Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world* will be driven out.y32And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.”z33He said this indicating the kind of death he would die.34So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains forever.* Then how can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?”a35Jesus said to them, “The light will be among you only a little while. Walk while you have the light, so that darkness may not overcome you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where he is going.b36While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of the light.”c

Unbelief and Belief among the Jews.After he had said this, Jesus left and hid from them.37*d Although he had performed so many signs in their presence they did not believe in him,38* in order that the word which Isaiah the prophet spoke might be fulfilled:

“Lord, who has believed our preaching,

to whom has the might of the Lord been revealed?”e39For this reason they could not believe, because again Isaiah said:

40“He blinded their eyes

and hardened their heart,

so that they might not see with their eyes

and understand with their heart and be converted,

and I would heal them.”f41Isaiah said this because he saw his glory* and spoke about him.g42Nevertheless, many, even among the authorities, believed in him, but because of the Pharisees they did not acknowledge it openly in order not to be expelled from the synagogue.h43For they preferred human praise to the glory of God.i

Recapitulation.44Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me believes not only in me but also in the one who sent me,j45and whoever sees me sees the one who sent me.k46I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness.l47And if anyone hears my words and does not observe them, I do not condemn him, for I did not come to condemn the world but to save the world.m48Whoever rejects me and does not accept my words has something to judge him: the word that I spoke, it will condemn him on the last day,n49because I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and speak.o50And I know that his commandment is eternal life. So what I say, I say as the Father told me.”

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