PRACTICES THAT COME FROM CISTERCIAN MONASTIC PIETY

I asked the question this morning, “What am I doing now that I was not doing five years ago, the caveat being Lay Cistercian practices that come from my observance of monastic charisms at Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery (Trappist), Conyers, Georgia?

CUSTOS OCULI –– I now practice custos oculi, the custody of the eyes. I do so as Lay Cistercian and not as a monk. I am more aware now of averting my gaze around me to see distracting visuals, for example, looking around at church when people arrive to see whom I know and who seems interesting. My focus is now on trying to keep my eyes focused on the ground to help me think about who I am versus who Jesus is. Chapter 7 of the Rule of St. Benedict has the twelve steps of humility that monks need to climb. I have only managed step one, the fear of the Lord, before tiring of the remainder.

SLOW DOWN –– I am more aware of slowing down my life to remember that I bear the sign of the cross on my heart (an indelible tattoo). I slow down any presentations I make on contemplative practice using PowerPoint slides.

WAITING FOR JESUS TO SHOW UP –– This is a way for me to say that I must wait for my humanity to catch up with my spirituality. Jesus has been there all along, waiting for me to show up.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN WHEN I SAY THAT CHRIST IS THE CHRIST PRINCIPLE?

Each of us, in the short time we find ourselves in this existence, uses the totality of our human experiences to probe the depth of what it means to be human. We may not even be conscious of it, but we want to ensure that we are worth something, that our living is for a purpose. People get their answers to this urge deep within us, unconsciously most of the time but now and then popping to the surface of consciousness.

Contemplation is a way that I use to go to seek answers to life’s challenges. I use Lay Cistercian charisms and practices to place me in the company of Christ’s heart and just wait there for what happens next. It is difficult to describe that feeling of peace that overshadows me as I just sit there, abandoning my will to God, dying to my fleshly self of the mind, being silent and still enough to listen to Jesus with “the ear of my heart.” I have done it over and over each day since my Baptism. Most days, I am aware of what is going on. Some days it passes right over the top of my head. Each day begins anew with the same routine. It is the struggle to “have in me the mind of Christ Jesus” daily. (Philippians 2:5). I have been obsessed with this since making my lifetime profession as a Lay Cistercian. I find that cross that Jesus says we should take up daily tricky. It is the martyrdom of the ordinary as a human being, not wanting anyone to tell us what to do, wishing to control our lives as we see fit.

I found an icon of St. Charles de Foucauld that typifies my relationship with Christ and can be the definition of contemplation and what it means to be a Lay Cistercian. Look at the icon for ten minutes, interrupted, and ask yourself, “What do I see?” Listen with “the ear of the heart.” –St. Benedict

St. Charles de Foucauld and Friend

My thoughts.

  • Jesus has his arm around St. Charles.
  • St. Charles is happy.
  • St. Charles has a rosary on his belt.
  • He has a paper (I don’t know what it says.)
  • St. Charles points to Jesus as Mary did and says: “Do what he tells you.”
  • I am St. Charles. Jesus is my friend; remembering what St. Benedict says about the first step of humility, “Fear of the Lord.”
  • The mission of Christ to become one of us was for him to put his arm around each human and help us to be adopted sons and daughters of the Father.
  • Jesus loves me, and there is nothing I can do about it.
  • Christ because sin allows us to reestablish a link between humans and the divine. The hallos mean both are holy. Only St. Charles is sinful.
  • This icon is the best definition of contemplation and “What it means to be a Lay Cistercian.”
  • I want Christ to put his arm around me, like St. Charles, and just stand there (or, in my case, sit there on the park bench in the middle of winter) and be still and at peace.
  • The peace of Christ is not the absence of conflict in your life but his presence of love in you.

Here is the agenda that our Lay Cistercian Discernment Group followed on July 27th.

Father,
I abandon myself into your hands;
do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:
I am ready for all, I accept all.

Let only your will be done in me,
and in all your creatures –
I wish no more than this, O Lord.

Into your hands I commend my soul:
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father.

Saint Charles de Foucauld

Former Trappist of N.D. de Neiges

Killed December 1, 1916

Prayer requests

The practice of the day: Capicitas Dei: Christ increases, I decrease,

II. THE PRACTICE OF MEDITATION – Go to the place in your inner room (Matthew 6:6) and close the door. Listen with “…the ear of your heart”. Use this image to guide thoughts from the Holy Spirit.

There are six questions as part of the Divine Equation. We will take one of these questions and reflect on the answers in the subsequent six sessions using The Rule of Threes.  1. What is the purpose of life?

Read: https://thecenterforcontemplativepractice.org

This photo is my life.

WHAT DO YOU SEE?

III. A Lay Cistercian Reflects on Spiritual Reality

Once you have abandoned your humanity as a gift to God, you open yourself to receiving questions and answers to The Divine Equation.

Christ became one of us to save us from the failure of human reasoning and choice by itself, even to realize there is a Divine Equation with six postulates that must be answered correctly and in the proper order.

It is the Divine Equation because the questions and answers to what it means to be fully human come from a power greater than ourselves, outside of ourselves, God. The Holy Spirit overshadows us with enlightenment beyond our capability and capacity to open our hearts to the way, the truth, and the life at this moment.

God gives us the purpose in one or two points that spring from our opening the heart to the Holy Spirit. We allow The Christ Principle to overshadow us in silence and solitude.

All we have to do in silence and solitude is “listen with the ear of the heart.” —St, Benedict

Ironically, we share with others in contemplation, but the others are Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and our fellow Lay Cistercians. Slow down, taste, and see the goodness of the Lord; happy are those who take refuge in him.

The five charisms of Cistercian spirituality are silence, solitude, work, prayer, and community.

Each lay Cistercian must apply what they have experienced to whatever the world presents to them. Lay Cistercians are not monks but do the Cistercian practices as they can. Monks and nuns do the same. Christ is the same today, yesterday, and tomorrow.

What is the purpose of all life?

Read Deuteronomy 6:5 and Matthew 22:36ff.

IV. WORKS AND ADMIN REPORTS

Tallahassee Retreat at the Monastery sometime in Fall.

We Addicts Book update.

Date for next month.

Go to www.trappist.net and look up how to sign up to be a novice if that is your discernment.

https://www.facebook.com/monasteryoftheholyspirit

V. NEXT MONTH’S ACTION

The six core skills I use to grow deeper in Christ Jesus. 2. What is my purpose within the purpose of life?

Read: https://thecenterforcontemplativepractice.org

CORE RESOURCES: Contemplative Prayer

I asked one of the monks about contemplative prayer and what it meant. He told me, “if you have to ask for a definition, you need to do more contemplation.” Although I am still not sure what he meant, I do know that my human side wants to know more, while my spiritual side just wants to be in the presence of Christ and wait. I am the sum of those two approaches (of course, much more than that). Prayer is the mind wants to know more because the more you know, the more you can understand the how, why, when, where, and so what it means to praise and glorify God. The heart wants to do all that the mind does but has the added dimension of feeling where the mind is content with just knowing. The prayer of the heart has no agenda, nor does it seek to boss around God so that God must fit my image and likeness. The prayer of the heart merely seeks to love, much like human love is just willing to be in the presence of the one you love and enjoy whatever takes place together.

I know (the mind) that Jesus is my Christ Principle and seek to discover whatever I can about who that is. I feel The Christ Principle and seek to sit next to that Jesus on the park bench in the cold of winter and share together WHATEVER GOD WANTS ME TO KNOW, LOVE, AND SERVE about myself and others around me.

I want to share with you what I did due to these thoughts. In this case, I went to some core resources, The Catholic Catechism, as part of my Lectio Divina (knowledge) to re-read what contemplation means. “Knowledge,” says St. Thomas Aquinas, “precedes love.” I learned that to know what it means, I have to do it over and over until I don’t realize I am praying in the silence of my heart.

Contemplation, for me, is resting on a park bench in the middle of winter and waiting for Christ to show up. When my knowledge of whatever is cluttering my mind slowly dissipates, what becomes more apparent is that Christ has always sat next to me. Still, I have not had the abandonment of the world to listen with the “ear of the heart,” as St. Benedict counsels.

Below is a section from The Catholic Catechism on contemplation. Read it slowly and prayerfully. Make a conscious effort to move it from thinking about it to doing it. Meditation is about thinking about Jesus. Contemplation is about being present to Jesus and loving it.

III. Contemplative Prayer

2709 What is contemplative prayer? St. Teresa answers: “Contemplative prayer [oracion mental] in my opinion is nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us.”6
Contemplative prayer seeks him “whom my soul loves.”7 It is Jesus, and in him, the Father. We seek him, because to desire him is always the beginning of love, and we seek him in that pure faith which causes us to be born of him and to live in him. In this inner prayer we can still meditate, but our attention is fixed on the Lord himself.

2710 The choice of the time and duration of the prayer arises from a determined will, revealing the secrets of the heart. One does not undertake contemplative prayer only when one has the time: one makes time for the Lord, with the firm determination not to give up, no matter what trials and dryness one may encounter. One cannot always meditate, but one can always enter into inner prayer, independently of the conditions of health, work, or emotional state. the heart is the place of this quest and encounter, in poverty ant in faith.

2711 Entering into contemplative prayer is like entering into the Eucharistic liturgy: we “gather up:” the heart, recollect our whole being under the prompting of the Holy Spirit, abide in the dwelling place of the Lord which we are, awaken our faith in order to enter into the presence of him who awaits us. We let our masks fall and turn our hearts back to the Lord who loves us, so as to hand ourselves over to him as an offering to be purified and transformed.

2712 Contemplative prayer is the prayer of the child of God, of the forgiven sinner who agrees to welcome the love by which he is loved and who wants to respond to it by loving even more.8 But he knows that the love he is returning is poured out by the Spirit in his heart, for everything is grace from God. Contemplative prayer is the poor and humble surrender to the loving will of the Father in ever deeper union with his beloved Son.

2713 Contemplative prayer is the simplest expression of the mystery of prayer. It is a gift, a grace; it can be accepted only in humility and poverty. Contemplative prayer is a covenant relationship established by God within our hearts.9 Contemplative prayer is a communion in which the Holy Trinity conforms man, the image of God, “to his likeness.”

2714 Contemplative prayer is also the pre-eminently intense time of prayer. In it the Father strengthens our inner being with power through his Spirit “that Christ may dwell in (our) hearts through faith” and we may be “grounded in love.”10

2715 Contemplation is a gaze of faith, fixed on Jesus. “I look at him and he looks at me”: this is what a certain peasant of Ars used to say to his holy cure about his prayer before the tabernacle. This focus on Jesus is a renunciation of self. His gaze purifies our heart; the light of the countenance of Jesus illumines the eyes of our heart and teaches us to see everything in the light of his truth and his compassion for all men. Contemplation also turns its gaze on the mysteries of the life of Christ. Thus it learns the “interior knowledge of our Lord,” the more to love him and follow him.11

2716 Contemplative prayer is hearing the Word of God. Far from being passive, such attentiveness is the obedience of faith, the unconditional acceptance of a servant, and the loving commitment of a child. It participates in the “Yes” of the Son become servant and the Fiat of God’s lowly handmaid.

2717 Contemplative prayer is silence, the “symbol of the world to come”12 or “silent love.”13 Words in this kind of prayer are not speeches; they are like kindling that feeds the fire of love. In this silence, unbearable to the “outer” man, the Father speaks to us his incarnate Word, who suffered, died, and rose; in this silence the Spirit of adoption enables us to share in the prayer of Jesus.

2718 Contemplative prayer is a union with the prayer of Christ insofar as it makes us participate in his mystery. the mystery of Christ is celebrated by the Church in the Eucharist, and the Holy Spirit makes it come alive in contemplative prayer so that our charity will manifest it in our acts.

2719 Contemplative prayer is a communion of love bearing Life for the multitude, to the extent that it consents to abide in the night of faith. the Paschal night of the Resurrection passes through the night of the agony and the tomb – the three intense moments of the Hour of Jesus which his Spirit (and not “the flesh [which] is weak”) brings to life in prayer. We must be willing to “keep watch with (him) one hour.”14

https://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P9M.HTM

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THE MARTYRDOM OF THE ORDINARY: Paco’s Prayer

Francisco Paco Ambrosetti, God rest his soul, is a Lay Cistercian now standing before the Throne of the Lamb and proclaiming the glory of the Father. Here is his prayer. May his soul, and the soul of all Lay Cistercians rest in the peace of Christ.

Paco’s Prayer

COME, Holy Spirit. Replace the tension within me with a holy relaxation.

Replace the turbulence within me with a sacred calm.

Replace the anxiety within me with quiet confidence.

Replace the fear within me with a strong faith.

Replace the bitterness within me with a sweetness of grace.

Replace the darkness within me with a gentle light.

Replace the coldness within me with loving warmth.

Replace the night within me with your day.

Replace the winter within me with your spring.

Straighten my crookedness.

Fill my emptiness.

Dull the edge of my pride.

Sharpen the edge of my humility.

Light the fires of my love.

Quench the flames of my lust.

Let me see myself as you see me.

That I may see you as you have promised me.

And be healed according to your word. Amen.

Amen and Amen.

THE PHENOMENON OF MAN: Background for The Christ Principle as Intelligent Progression.

If you have not done so, I recommend reading (and reflecting) on the late Teilhard de Chardin’s book, The Phenomenon of Man. I do so because it is at the heart of my Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5) meditations about The Christ Principle.

My thoughts go through a process of intelligent progression, reflecting what is happening in the physical and mental universes and the spiritual universe. These three are one reality. All of this culminates in one grand design of reality, The Christ Principle, similar to a mustard seed in real terms, contains all that was is and will be, much like the opposite of The Big Bang (as far as I understand it).

My first awareness (quite late in life) was that there is a strain of corruption and incorruption that flows through and intermixes with all that is real. This realization or hypothesis was followed by the additional discovery of another such strain, that of intelligent progression that also flows through all of reality. It does not contain matter, nor energy, as our limited physics has yet to integrate into the fullness of what is real. Intelligent progression dues This is the mathematics and physics of being, and not just any being, but pure energy. This all sounds like fantasy, and perhaps it is. My point is that all matter, all thought, and all spirituality are influenced by intelligent progression. The physical universe (evolution), the mental universe (knowledge is cumulative and progressive), and spirituality (The Christ Principle is different with each day that I am alive and face whatever comes my way, yet it is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow). This is movement in all three universes. The Phenomenon of Man helps put all of this in more focus (not clear yet) as cosmic growth from a point (Alpha) to another point (Point Omega, according to Teilhard de Chardin).

Another realization (again, relatively late in life) has been that I am the only one who can access these ideas (or any ideas) about the purpose of life. I do so not with scientific thinking, not solely human reasoning, but with thinking that encompasses all three universes of one reality, faith informed by reason. I am the only me living in my eighty-two years’ shoes. Each person can say the same thing. The accumulation of our choices makes me who I am, and thus I look on intelligent progression with the totality of who I am. My notion of God, as with each human, comes from the totality of what they place at their center. If I place being a wealthy and successful lawyer as my one center, that informs who I am. That is great; if I only live in two universes (physical and mental), I live, then I learn what the purpose of life is by my choices, then I die. When my perspective is three universes (physical base, mental progression, and my free choice to expand my humanity to what nature intended), then I have dual citizenship, one of this world and one that begins at Baptism and ends as being the fulfillment of my adoption by God as his son (daughter) and heir to the next level of intelligent progression, the kingdom of heaven, forever. Some can look at all this and say, “How can you see all this in your contemplation?” When I look at being in the presence of The Christ Principle and waiting for me to calm down enough to see what my humanity cannot see by itself, I say, “How is it you cannot?”

Here are a few quotes followed by the book in its entirety.

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.” ~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

“Above all trust in the slow work of God. Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be. Give our Lord the benefit of believing that His hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.” ~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

“Remain true to yourself, but move ever upward toward greater consciousness and greater love! At the summit, you will find yourselves united with all those who, from every direction, have made the same ascent. For everything that rises must converge.” ~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

“Love is the most powerful and still most unknown energy in the world.” ~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

“The age of nations has passed. Now, unless we wish to perish, we must shake off our old prejudices and build the Earth. The more scientifically I regard the world, the less can I see any possible biological future for it except in the active consciousness of its unity.” ~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

“Love is the most universal, the most tremendous and the most mystical of cosmic forces. Love is the primal and universal psychic energy. Love is a sacred reserve of energy; it is like the blood of spiritual evolution.” ~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

“In the final analysis, the questions of why bad things happen to good people transmutes itself into some very different questions, no longer asking why something happened, but asking how we will respond, what we intend to do now that it happened.” ~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

“Matter is spirit moving slowly enough to be seen.” ~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

“Growing old is like being increasingly penalized for a crime you haven’t committed.” ~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

“The truth is, indeed, that love is the threshold of another universe.” ~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

“Reach beyond your grasp. Your goals should be grand enough to get the best of you.” ~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

“Everything that rises must converge.” ~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

“Your creatures can come into being only, like a shoot from the stem, as part of an endlessly renewed process of evolution.” ~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

https://www.azquotes.com/author/2738-Pierre_Teilhard_de_Chardin?p=4

https://archive.org/stream/ThePhenomenonOfMan/phenomenon-of-man-pierre-teilhard-de-chardin_djvu.txt.

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THE STARFISH THROWER

THE STARFISH THROWER

Almost every time I pray Lectio Divina (Phil 2:5), I invariably think about how Christ’s act of love, to save us from death and give us a chance at life everlasting, relates to those circumstances and experiences of my life. This is how I find meaning and value in those things that even happened to me a long time ago. One such story that impacted me then and still holds me in its grip now is the story of the starfish thrower as told by Joel Barker, one of the ten people that have influenced my life for the better. I would like to share it with you to give you some idea of how Philippians 2:5 is like the starfish thrower, the story of Christ.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVONMxCK4CQfDDs0yQIQ

Watch the story of the starfish thrower at least twice. Write down what Joel Barker says about vision and action at the end of the piece. Then, I want you to address these questions and use them as your meditation (that may lead to contemplation).

REFLECTION ONE: 

In this video,  a man comes across someone throwing starfish into the ocean. He asks him how the starfish thrower could possibly make a difference to the starfish population. The man replied, “I made a difference to that one.” Think about Philippians 2:5-12. Christ is the one throwing starfish into the water so they can live and not die. We are the starfish on the beach of life. We don’t deserve to be given life again, but because of Christ’s love, we have life.

REFLECTION TWO:

Each of us who realizes that what the man is doing by throwing starfish back into the ocean is meaningful and the purpose of our life is like the man who came upon the stranger throwing back starfish, and we want to help him do so. We join with the stranger to give others life. Christ is the stranger; we are now the man who came up to him and asked him what he was doing and decided to help him throw back starfish. We are helpers of Christ to give life to those we throw back into the ocean of God’s love.

REFLECTION THREE: 

Read the Star Thrower Story transcript by Joel Barker and answer the questions at the end.

“There’s a story I would like to share with you. It was inspired by the writing of Loren Eiseley. Eiseley was a very special person because he combined the best of two cultures. He was a scientist and a poet. And from those two perspectives, he wrote insightfully and beautifully about the world and our role in it.

Once upon a time, there was a wise man, much like Eiseley himself, who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work. One day he was walking along the shore. As he looked down the beach, he saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself to think of someone who would dance to the day. So he began to walk faster to catch up. As he got closer, he saw that it was a young man and the young man wasn’t dancing, but instead, he was reaching down to the shore, picking up something and very gently throwing it into the ocean.

As he got closer, he called out, “Good morning! What are you doing?” The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”

“I guess I should have asked, Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” “The sun is up and the tide is going out. And if I don’t throw them in they’ll die.”

“But young man, don’t you realize that there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it. You can’t possibly make a difference!”

The young man listened politely. Then bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves. “It made a difference for that one!”

His response surprised the man. He was upset. He didn’t know how to reply. So instead, he turned away and walked back to the cottage to begin his writings.

All day long as he wrote, the image of the young man haunted him. He tried to ignore it, but the vision persisted. Finally, late in the afternoon he realized that he the scientist, he the poet, had missed out on the essential nature of the young man’s actions. Because he realized that what the young man was doing was choosing not to be an observer in the universe and make a difference. He was embarrased.

That night he went to bed troubled. When the morning came he awoke knowing that he had to do something. So he got up, put on his clothes, went to the beach and found the young man. And with him he spent the rest of the morning throwing starfish into the ocean. You see, what that young man’s actions represent is something that is special in each and everyone of us. We have all been gifted with the ability to make a difference. And if we can, like that young man, become aware of that gift, we gain through the strength of our vision the power to shape the future.

And that is your challenge. And that is my challenge.
We must each find our starfish. And if we throw our
stars wisely and well, I have no question that
the 21st century is going to be a wonderful place.

Remember Vision without action is a dream.
Action without vision is simply passing the time.
Action with Vision is making a positive difference.”

REFLECTIONS:

Jesus had a vision for us (Philippians 2:5-12) to give us the chance at life. Christ has made a difference in how we humans relate with God, God is now one of us and we are adopted sons and daughters. We must love others as Christ loved us, some of us by throwing back star fish into the ocean with Him. The ocean is the limitless love of God for all of humanity.

Christ has a vision of what He wanted for us but he also emptied himself and died for us on the cross as his proof or action of love. Action with Vision is making a positive difference and what a difference that was because of us. How does being a Lay Cistercian fit into being a star thrower? Like the star thrower, if you like this blog, throw it to someone else in the ocean of life.

Glory to the Father and 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

FIVE LIFE-CRITICAL SKILLS MOMS AND DADS MUST SHOW THEIR CHILDREN

There is one shortcoming, I stop short of calling it a failure, of the Church Universal in teaching the Faith to those who are growing in their faith (youngsters or the newly professed Catholics): sustainability. RCIA is an excellent greenhouse in which those who discern what it means to be Catholic Universal (all rites) can thrive. The local parish provides such instruction in the form of sessions that allow individuals to address the elements of the Creed and see if this path is for them.

If they are deemed suitable and they judge that they want to profess their faith in The Catholic Way, they are Baptized and Confirmed at the Easter Vigil.

I think the Church could improve by extending the period of simulation of the Faith beyond Baptism in a systematic and formal way. The local Church becomes the context for newly professed or confirmed young believers to grow. The seminarium (greenhouse) takes them to the next level of their journey to love others as Christ loved us. We should not think that, just because a person is baptized, they have received infused knowledge and don’t need to do anything but attend Mass on Sundays.

Hopefully, the seeds of Faith planted at the Easter Vigil and confirmed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit will find rich soil to thrive. The local Church must have, as it continued assistance to parents, those who are the primary caretakers of young spiritual shoots, an awareness that there is no growth without cultivation and keeping out the weeds of life.

Here is what I consider to be the intelligent progression of any Catholic, and by application, what we should be teaching our young with skill sets to combat the seeming boredom of being human. Like Erich Fromm, an existentialist psychologist whose book, The Art of Loving, contain his thoughts that love is an acquired skill and not one we have innately, what follows are learned behaviors from the first teachers of each of us, our parents.

HOW TO GROW DEEPER IN THEIR FAITH THROUGH CONTEMPLATION— How can you share with your children that there is a place inside them where they must learn to go daily where they meet Jesus in the silence and solitude of their hearts. Contemplation is a way to communicate with God through the Holy Spirit by listening and waiting. It is a skill that needs to be mastered and not automatically given to you when you are Baptized.

THE COST OF BEING CATHOLIC AND THE REWARDS — How do you explain to your children that to follow Christ, they must die to their false self, and what that means, plus tolerance for the struggle that we all face when the world challenges us?

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE CROSS ON YOUR FOREHEAD— How do you demonstrate the link between the cross of your Baptism and how it is the basis for prayer and behaviors that lead to loving others as Christ loved us?

YOU ARE AN ADOPTED SON OR DAUGHTER OF THE FATHER. YOU INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. The value of being an adopted son or daughter of the Father is core to what it means to be a citizen of heaven because of your Baptism. What does God expect of his followers

THE STRUGGLE OF TWO CITIZENSHIPS. ONE GETS YOU TO HEAVEN. How do you show your children that there are two citizenships they hold, one earthy and one being adopted sons and daughters of the Father?

As strange as it may seem, we can learn from the polar bear how to transfer behaviors that make each of us uniquely human. Polar bear moms teach by doing with their cubs. If you don’t believe in Jesus, way down deep, your children pick up on what you hold as your center.

  • Parents need to talk to their children about WHY they love Jesus and not be ashamed to confess Christ before others.
  • Parents need to be unified in their beliefs by discussing how they want their children to have their heritage.
  • Parents who are split believers and nonbelievers need to be upfront with their children about what that means.
  • Parents need to show that they believe in the Trinity and how attending Eucharist is an act where we bring Jesus into our hearts and minds with all our strength. It is food to make us solid and resistant to the lures of the Devil.
  • Parents need to show their children how the Ten Commandments help us to keep centered on having Christ as our center.
  • Parents need to show their children that no one is perfect but that they need to seek forgiveness by using the Sacrament of Reconciliation as part of a way of life.
  • MUST DO BEHAVIORS AND PRAYERS
  • How the Rosary makes Christ real in your heart.
  • Read Chapter 4 of St. Benedict’s Rule daily and make it real.
  • A love for the Eucharist and the Real Presence.
  • How to pray Lectio Divina.
  • How to have a routine of spirituality.
  • How the Devil can sneak up on you if you are not aware.
  • Parents must show their children what it means to have Christ as the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
  • Parents must give their children the skills to be what they read when they use the Scriptures.
  • Parents must impart to their children how to address The Divine Equation in their lives:
  • What is the purpose of life?
  • What is their purpose of life within that purpose?
  • How does reality look?
  • How does reality fit together?
  • How do you love fiercely?
  • You know you are going to die; now what?

Who teaches parents how to be the best of teachers in the Faith? The answers have always been there, but we are unaware of what is in front of us. Do you know the most frequent words to St. Peter are for people knocking at the pearly gates? “Nobody ever told me that before?” If you are one of those who would say that to St. Peter, you need conversio morae (daily conversion of life).

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SWITCHING POLES I: Using The Christ Principle to row upstream in life

My Catholic Faith is not a philosophy where I have a set of goals I meet or not. It is not a way of life that is easy. Taking up the cross daily means being more human than I ever thought possible. I keep asking myself why things are so difficult? Part of my Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5) concerns this line of inquiry. I offer you some random thoughts so that you can decide what they mean (it is like interpreting dreams).

My Catholic Faith is neither easy to sustain nor performed without a daily commitment to seek God as I find God and as I am. I am not the person I was forty years ago, physically, mentally, or spiritually. Because I exist within the context of intelligent design (God’s DNA), I am inexorably pulled forward without my consent. I cannot stop time. I can choose what I think is best for me and hope I am correct. My past gives me the perspective to know when I have made an existential mistake or taken the wrong path, leading me to diminish my humanity. Most of the time, I don’t know what I don’t know. My ego corners me into one dimension of my personality so that I get angry when someone says to me, you are off-center.

CHANGING POLES

In my reflection on spirituality as a Lay Cistercian, I obsess over two passions in my old age (81.10).

THE CAPACITAS DEI OF MY CRIB HAS CONTINUED TO GROW IN AWARENESS OF ALL REALITY (Physical, Mental, and Spiritual). “Capacitas Dei,” or growing every deeper with Christ as my center (Philippians 2:5). I use the analogy of a crib when I think about growing in awareness. As an infant, my parents used a crib to keep me confined. Since God accepted me as an adopted son (daughter) on September 29, 1940, I have been in a physical crib, a mental one, and a spiritual one. Each of these three universes may grow at a different rate, depending on how I interact with the world over the years and assimilate what it means to be human into my unique time on earth.

Your time and development are not mine, so my view of reality is not yours because of our choices and, most notably, the consequences of those choices as they shape who we are. It depends on what we place as our center that provides the key to telling us what is valuable and why. Animals don’t worry about their centers. Humans do, and there is something unique about centers that each person has. They revolve each hour, each day, constantly being challenged by what is called original sin (the corruption of the time, the corruption of matter, the corruption of human nature that exists within time, the corruption of you as you try to make sense out of the life you lead. The crib is limiting, so your reason says, “Is that all there is?” and the answer you get is you can move outside of your crib, now into the room. This is now your new world, but you keep all those experiences of the crib at your core, even if they are subconscious. This process repeats itself. You become bored with just being confined to a room, and you look out of the windows to see that there is something more than crawling around the room. You begin to stand up and wobble around the room, exploring everything about it: the smells, the touch, the distances, furniture on which you learn to sit. But, consistent with your humanity, your mind tells you that this is not enough, and you want more. Words become essential to you as ways to get what you want (you do not have the intellectual capacity nor the anatomical ability to activate what you need), but you seek more. Something within, something autonomous that compels you to move towards your intellectual progression. The process repeats itself through growing from a room into the whole interior of your house, then your yard, your neighborhood, your school in grade school, and high school, to face what it is you want as an occupation in your life. You discover your animal instincts of anger, power, sexual feelings, and the opposite sex and must learn how to control them. Some learn this. Others don’t.

You place one of these needs as your center and strive to keep it from disappearing in favor of another need. Humans tend to put those pleasurable and exciting needs of their physical and mental self up front. The problem with our spiritual self (universe) is that with The Christ Principle, reality had a polar reversal. North became South for reality, and a new way of approaching one reality happened without notice (although I think that was the event in the Scriptures when Christ died and the veil in the temple was torn in two). There is a new reality now: not two universes (physical and mental) but three (physical, mental and spiritual) universes. New wine must be put into new wineskins and not the old. The new configuration is the physical universe is, as it always is, our base for all things physical. The mental universe is as it always was (remember, there is no Science as we know it today), and it moves forward at the pace of enlightenment of humanity. But, there is not a new player that fulfills the Divine Equation that is the key to the purpose of all that is. This new universe is the opposite of the physical and mental universes called The World by St. Paul. (Galatians 5).

This new universe fulfills the physical and mental universes because it is the destiny of those two of three parts of reality. This third universe comes from outside human nature and beyond our capacity to comprehend it. Jesus came to tell us and show us that the sign of contradiction is actually the key against which all reality must be measured. And what is that measurement? (Philippians 2:5-12) It is a person, both divine and human nature, who abandoned divinity to take on the nature of a slave. This is the pattern of contradiction we must follow as we exercise our reason and free will. That free will must be given away to become energized. That free will must die to the physical and mental universes to be fruitful and process the energy that comes from the Holy Spirit. Because we live in the context of recidivism and fall back to our default as humans, we must work daily to retain the energy to keep ourselves centered on The Christ Principle. Christ knows that and says, “I know you are poor, have mental and social problems, and some of you have cancer and other diseases, such as war, beyond your control. I won’t take away your condition but assure you that my grace is sufficient until you are with me and all tears will be wiped away.” The Church Universal is the guarantor of this pledge. There is each age, as each of us is born and moves from the cradle to the grave. We have direction, a purpose, and the energy (from the Holy Spirit) to keep ourselves centered daily. It is work (what is a cross if it is made out of balsa wood?

I like the image of rowing against the current in life because that is how I feel as a human being resisting those who want me to turn around and go with the flow. I make a choice daily, as a Lay Cistercian, to seek God wherever I am aware of God.

Just because your spiritual road is rocky doesn’t mean you are on the wrong road. If being a Catholic is just fulfilling the law of Sunday observance (and that is not to be discounted), you are a baby Catholic, perhaps to live in your crib forever. I had to ask myself, and hopefully, you will consider, “Am I still back in the crib of my spiritual universe? Where am I?”

You may have felt that this is not enough or that the Church does not offer enough to keep you motivated. You may not know what you do not even know. The Christ Principle has no depth, height, or width. What if you die and stand before the Throne of the Lamb to give an accounting and say, “No one told me what to do. The Church is at fault because I had no idea you could grow deeper and growing deeper means inconvenient, abandonment, sacrificing time to be in the presence of pure energy. Change your way of life (conversio morae) and reconnect with what your humanity should be as intended.” uiodg

THE CHRIST PRINCIPLE: THE KEY TO UNLOCKING THE MYSTERY OF WHAT IT MEANS TO BE FULLY WHAT OUR NATURE INTENDED.

The problem with trying to solve any equation is knowing the formula. Granted that the Divine Equation’s six postulates have been answered correctly, there is still one thing left to do. You must use the correct key, the only one that fits into this lock, and turn it, to open the door to the fullness of what it means to be human and allow you entrance into your destiny. Once inside, several languages help to grow deeper into the inexhaustible knowledge of how all reality fits together and what it means to be what nature intended us to be. St. Thomas Aquinas states that “Knowledge precedes love.”

THE KEYS TO THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN

It occurred to me that, given that I answered all six postulates of The Divine Equation correctly, there was still another glaring problem, one that is archetypal in its implications for what it means to be fully human. What is the key that allowed me to interpret the information correctly? By key, I don’t just mean a physical key like the one I use to unlock my house, although that analogy is part of my description. I have in mind a key more like the Enigma machine of WWII fame. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0x8yfrsIoko

In my intellectual probing of reality, I have been through many Lectio Divina meditations on this subject of free choice. Most of the time, I have opened up more questions than answers. I began to realize that this feeling of incompleteness is an answer, but one, like the Enigma machine, needs deciphering. What language can I use to ask the correct questions and get the correct and authentic answers that allow me to gain more insight into what it means to be fully human as our nature intended? Well, it all comes down to this key. Like the Enigma analogy, neither the experience of how to walk this way (path) nor what is true comes with being born as a human into the context of Original Sin. Like Erich Fromm’s premise in his book, The Art of Loving, we don’t automatically receive infused knowledge on how to love fiercely. All knowledge humans use is intelligent progression; it is acquired, not infused. An intended or unintended consequence of Original Sin is that humans must work for our bread (Genesis 2-3). That also applies to knowledge, love, and, most significantly, what it means to wake up on this rocky ball of gases and realize that you can ask the questions in The Divine Equation and be sure that your answers are authentic.

  • 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?
  • I know I am going to die; now what?

Now comes the most challenging question of all, one that gives The Divine Equation legitimacy, one that allows me to ask and answer questions with one immutable answer, beyond my limited human abilities, and one that is true. These answers do not come from humanity but from pure energy, pure knowledge, pure love, and pure service, yet, once applied, they open up a reality that we could not possibly achieve with reason and our free will alone. This is not the freedom to choose what we want, but rather knowing what to choose and how to do it, moving into a realm where the truth will make me accessible. What is the correct key that, if applied to these six postulates, allows me to approach (not solve) this paradox of what it means to be human? Truth is one because there is only one truth. I had not been aware of the implications that what I choose as answers to The Divine Equation must have resonance and not dissonance with the totality of all that is. Of all the choices of all the people who ever lived, I have seventy or eight years to get it right, if I am lucky. It is not enough to know the questions of The Divine Equation. I must answer what it means to be fully human correctly. Where do I find the truth?

KEYS I EXPLORED TO UNLOCK THE DIVINE EQUATION

SCIENCE AS A KEY — When looking for one key that unlocked the secrets of what it means to be human, I first turned to the scientific approach to life. I still use it because it makes sense to look for the answers to physical reality with the tools of mathematics, chemistry, physics, medicine, artificial intelligence, and research into cures for cancer and other physical ailments that plague humanity. The approach is that we know what we can observe and prove with the language of Science. There is applied Science and theoretical Science, for example, doing physics to find new ways to expand our knowledge of this discipline. An essential part of how I look at reality as a Lay Cistercian comes from the scientists who pose questions about humanity based on their recent discoveries. It means I am challenged to continually seek a deeper reality based on my accumulated knowledge. I am not a trained chemist or astrobiologist, but I know enough that what I know needs more to satisfy my curiosity. I love Science because it asks the interrogatives (Who? What? Why? and Why Not?, Where?), just to name a few. The essence of science is the process of wondering, what if?

The Achilles Heel of Science

All these keys have an Achilles Heel, either a blindspot or assumptions you hold that will not allow you to advance. What’s the story of his ‘Achilles heel’?

“Thetis gives birth to Achilles who, unlike her, is mortal. She attempts to make the baby Achilles immortal, by dipping him in the River Styx (the river that runs through the underworld), while holding him by his heel. The one part of his body left untouched by the waters becomes his only point of weakness, hence the phrase ‘Achilles heel’.”

https://blog.britishmuseum.org/who-was-achilles/

I tried the key of Science to unlock The Divine Equation, but it fit but would not open the door to knowledge. When I applied Science to answer the questions of the Divine Equation, I found that this key is excellent at describing what is going on in the physical universe using the mental universe. The Achilles heel of Science in my search was twofold: It is a tool of the mind to seek reality with what it can observe and proven. I like that approach. The problem is Science does not include reality; it cannot see, such as what is invisible. Secondly, it does not admit that such a reality as the spiritual universe exists, so they don’t seek to include it in their definition of reality.

LEARNING POINTS

  • Science is an accurate and valuable tool for determining what is and how it interacts with its environment.
  • The scientific community looks at what is real in two universes, not three, i.e., the physical and mental universes, but cannot look at what is invisible because it cannot be measured with the concepts and tools of Science, so it must not exist.
  • Science is a good way, perhaps the only way, to seek what is real. The problem for me is that what is real is more than the scope of inquiry from Science. Spirituality is the place Stephen Hawking could not look, not because he was intelligent enough, but because it didn’t exist for him, and so he just missed it.
  • Science is a recent advancement in human improvement. Not everyone knows the language. Science is not the only language to discover what it means to be human, but it is undoubtedly one of the most important. Science is a key to unlocking the mysteries of the physical universe.
  • This is part of why I postulate that there are three separate universes but only one reality. Each universe is a paradigm shift without logical explanation or scientific verification, yet with all the consequences that come from being. Still, it is fundamental to those who know where and how to use the measurements and tools to discover it. Science is a language, only recently acquired, that does not look at the totality of all. When I try to approach The Divine Equation, Science is a key that cannot provide me with the ability to decipher its meaning. Even though it is not the key, there is no master key without it.

RECAP

I have what I consider the answers to the six postulates of The Divine Equation. Who tells me what is a good or bad answer? Who is to tell me what is correct and not authentic and why? I need a key or an authority against which I can measure my answer to see if it is correct. Again. Science as a way of answering The Divine Equation is just one such key, but, as I have pointed out, it is not so much wrong as incomplete. All humans have the freedom to choose what they want to be at their center, but not all centers will make us accessible and fulfill the destiny of what nature intended for us. It depends on what we choose to use as a key to interpreting reality to determine if something is moral or not.

HUMAN REASONING AND FREE CHOICE AS A KEY — If Science uses the disciplines of mathematics, chemistry, physics, medicine, psychology, and biology, to look at the physical and mental universes to discover what makes us up and to explain the environment in which we find ourselves, then everything else (logic, literature, poetry, religion, etc…) is the second way to look at The Divine Equation. We seek the answers using this second key based on the physical and mental universes. No God exists, no supreme being, just what we accumulate about what life is from the trials and errors of the human mind over the centuries. Science and human reasoning are not the keys, but there is no key without them.

Then, a paradigm shift in time and space happens; I am alive during whatever time I live. I look at what humanity left me to figure out the purpose of life and what my purpose is. I get to choose what I want as my center, good or bad. Now comes a third filter to add complexity to my quest for meaning–what does reality look like. Suppose I look at the amalgam of ideas from Aristotle through Jesus and continue to be modern apologists for humanism and nationalism. In that case, I get my ideas from those around me and forge two basic ways to look at reality (one, the physical and mental universes that St. Paul termed the World, and the second one is three universes that add spirituality to the first two). What does all of this mean, or, more correctly, how does it all fit together? Here, I can insert one of my keys to see what is behind my chosen door. It sounds like the game show “Let’s Make a Deal,” starring the late Monty Hall. Strangely, it is a game show. We make a choice but must live with the choice and its implications. While living, we can change curtains if we don’t like the one we selected. We must also live with what we have chosen unless we change it.

This second key (you may know of more) is about me and the accumulated situations, choices, and experiences that are unique to this body. I make choices, what is good for me or what I think is good for me that will actually hurt me with the sum total of who I am. I am the key who must open the lock of The Divine Equation. If you notice, with this approach, your lock is not my lock, nor are your choices my choices. Only one key can open the door of purpose and, eventually, what it means to be fully human. That might not make sense on the surface but consider this. If TRUTH is one, then if you or I live our lives measuring our choices against that TRUTH, it is the WAY for both of us. Even though our LIFE might be totally different, as long as our center is one, then the products of TRUTH will be the same, even though the way we achieved it was different.

There is one (or more) problem; I don’t possess the ongoing energy to be able to sustain my key to turn it in the appropriate lock. Even if I want to be able to discover the purpose of life, I lack the energy to make choices that will enable me to be fully human. I can’t turn that lock with my humanity alone. Original Sin seems to have revealed its poison pill again. Only humans can turn the lock of their free choice yet, lack the power to do so. One reason that comes to my mind is that behind that door we try to unlock contains our destiny in another spiritual universe. Humans can’t unlock the Divine Nature, yet we are called to be adopted sons, daughters, and heirs to God’s kingdom. f I am the key, which I am, then has God played a cruel joke on me, a type of divine bate, and switch that toys with my emotions and longings? If there is no resurrection, then life is just a cruel fantasy in which I am the main character.

There is only one answer to this seeming conundrum. Your destiny as a human being exists behind a door numbered ONE. I am the key to unlock what is behind that door, but I don’t have the energy to fit my key in the lock and turn it. It is above my pay grade. All is not lost. God hears the cry of the poor and feels our hurt. God sends Himself, His Son, to become Sin so that everyone (everyone) has help opening that door. Jesus is the energy of the Father that helps each one of us to open the door of our hearts to become fully human, but there is a catch. I must give back to God the one thing that defines me as a human being, more than the animals, capable of love, freely as a gift back to God. Thy will be done, thy will be done, on earth, as it is in the heavens.” I do this by following the footsteps of Christ, who said, “Learn of me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will have rest for your souls.”

The Gentle Mastery of Christ.

28* “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,* and I will give you rest.

29* p Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.

30For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/matthew/11

God’s gift back for you dying to yourself to become more like Christ and less like you is the adoption as a son or daughter. Your gift to God echoes Mary’s, “Let it be done to me according to Your Word.” Luke 1:46-55. These full quotes allow you to pause, think, pray, and say “Thank You.”

The Canticle of Mary.

46v And Mary said:*

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;w

47my spirit rejoices in God my savior.x

48For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness;

behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.y

49The Mighty One has done great things for me,

and holy is his name.z

50His mercy is from age to age

to those who fear him.a

51He has shown might with his arm,

dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.b

52He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones

but lifted up the lowly.c

53The hungry he has filled with good things;

the rich he has sent away empty.d

54He has helped Israel his servant,

remembering his mercy,e

55according to his promise to our fathers,

to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”f

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/luke/1

LEARNING POINTS

The more sophisticated humans become, the more they want to examine the WHY of how they find themselves with seventy or eighty years on this earth.

Human reasoning alone is not able to comprehend the concept of God.

There is something more to life than just existing and passing time until you die.

Humans moved from animality to rationality while retaining all the emotions, traits, most of the DNA, and urges for power, procreation, dominance, and a natural affinity more closely aligned to animal past than spiritual future.

Humans are naturally inclined to act as animals, but those with reason and freedom to choose what is good for them.

In the Old Testament, God used Israel as a pilot program on inserting a way to become more and more like what nature intended. In the New Testament, Jesus became one of us because we were not able to process what it means to be what our nature intended. Jesus had to redo Genesis once more but this time getting it right. The caveat is, we still live in the world with our inclinations to do what is easy for us, whereas Christ’s lesson is to get rid of those false inclinations by dying to what seems like our normal self but is, in reality, lacking the power to be fully human.

Humans are not evil in their nature but rather prone to choose what is easy and convenient over what is right. God tells us and Christ shows us the way to be fully human, how to use what is true to become adopted sons and daughters of the Father, and how to live a life that will lead us to be fully human.

RECAP So far, I have uncovered two languages that have the potential to unlock The Divine Equation, the set of proposals that, if opened correctly, tell us what it means to be fully human and to claim the inheritance our nature intends.

THE THIRD KEY: The Christ Principle

This third key is one where I must abandon everything I know to this point in order to energize the key. I must still turn the key in the lock. What could this possibly mean? I give my limited power to turn the lock in my center to Jesus in return for His divine power to do what I could never do for myself. As a result of that dying to self, I am now becoming more and more human as I complete whatever time and tasks God has for me. It is only when I give away the two seemingly most important things to me, knowledge of good or evil and the free choice to make my humanity fulfilled, that I can have the power to turn the key in the lock of The Divine Equation.

The Christ Principle is the only way, the one truth, and the only life I will ever need as the Father’s adopted son (daughter). It is also the only way I can possibly have enough energy to turn the key in this lock of tomorrow.

The late Rev. Dr. Billy Graham gave me the spark that enlightened my darkness about how much God loved me. Here I am talking just about me, not Church, not Lay Cistercians, nor any organized group. I am the only person in the entire existence of the physical, mental and spiritual universes that lives in my space and my time. There are no two of us, but each human ever born has that envelope or bubble of time (seventy or eighty years, if we are strong), to discover about life and become what we discover. My awareness from the Holy Spirit snuck in the idea that all of this was so that I could say YES to the invitation to become a son (daughter) of the Father. This is so from before time had its first “tick”. The purpose of my life is to discover why I am here and to fulfill my destiny as a human being. God’s love is so great that, if I was the only person who ever existed, this would be my destiny.

Deep Dive into the Christ Principle

  • The Christ Principle is all that is contained within what we know as Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior. It contains two natures, divine and human.
  • The Christ Principle is a person, not an idea or a concept.
  • We can only know about divine nature through human languages and history. There is only one way, one truth, and one life, but each human being has the freedom to choose whatever god they want, or, the default, themselves.
  • Christ became human to give us the knowledge of what is true and to show us how to fulfill our human destiny. Still, there is the Tower of Bable ranging from no god to what is right before our eyes but we don’t use the proper key to unlock reality.
  • The Christ Principle is the new paradigm of humanity that, using a contradictory sign, gives meaning to a solution of the Divine Equation that human reasoning alone is not capable of mastering.
  • The Christ Principle is the fulfillment of the Divine Equation and offers humans the solution to what it means to be fully human. This is characterized in Deuteronomy 6:5 and Matthew 22:38. “You shall love the Lord God with your whole heart, your whole mind, and your whole self (and your neighbor as yourself).”
  • Only the Christ Principle provides a way to love with your whole heart, how to know the truth about what is good and what is evil, and the life of dying to self so that you can rise above your human nature to discover a deeper level of existence, the kingdom of Heaven, our destiny.
  • Everything about The Christ Principle doesn’t make sense to our human reason and our ability to choose what is good for us. Christ shows us the key to fit into the lock of The Divine Equation, but each of us must turn it alone. This is the belief that Jesus is the Messiah, Son of God, and Savior.

LAY CISTERCIAN PRACTICES AND CHARISMS

Among the many ways to practice how to sustain love until we dty. This is a way that I die to myself to rise each day to have the mind of Christ Jes in meus. (Philippians 2:5).

This repetition of seeking God each day becomes an occasion to show how I must die for the convenience and comfort of doing what makes my physical body happy, transforming this happiness into what will ultimately make me more human and less animal.

Lectio Divina is simply me making room for the Holy Spirit to sit with Christ on a park bench in the dead of winter and wait.

uiodg

INTELLIGENT DESIGN IV: Words that contain the power of transformation

Contemplation is a process of what happened before. In the case of just one word, if that word is the Word that is made flesh and dwells among us in the Eucharist, these words are not just human in origin but contain the energy of God, as much as we are able to receive it.

I use these special words in my Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5) sometimes and just wait (mentally and spiritually) for something to happen.

I have adapted my Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5) over the years. Now, one of the most frequent approaches is to tap into the powerful words of Scripture, those that are gifts from God to help me receive the energy I need each time I touch them to sustain me against the onslaughts of the corruption of society. It is a battle indeed. Two recent YouTube videos gave me shivers when I saw society as a whole crumble in their faith, which means they deteriorate in their values, with the result of the extinction of elements of society. I think of the ten lost tribes of Israel, Sodom and Gomorrah, the Religion Wars that rage on even now, Ukraine, Moral anarchy, political establishment as a god, Israel wandering in the desert for forty years, the Catholic Church tearing itself apart over various teachings, and general disrespect for what it means to be human.

ATHEISM ON THE RISE — Look at the cultural shifts away from God, for whatever belief system. This is indicative of mega trends in the past where humans have lost sight of their purpose. A catastrophe usually happens to bring about the humility needed to get back on track. The San Andreas Fault is not the only geological anomaly that is overdue for a shock. The Adam and Eve Fault which humanity does not seem to remember is a shock in whatever way nature springs back to its intended resonance. I am not an alarmist but I am alarmed that we lack the collective choices to do what is right rather than what is easy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6k_VubROphY

THE YOUNG ARE LESS RELIGIOUS — https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/2018/06/13/young-adults-around-the-world-are-less-religious-by-several-measures/ I can see it in my own family that Faith, with a few exceptions, seems to stop with my generation (the broken-down, old temples of the Holy Spirit).

All of this points to the trends between God and humans. God wants humans to be what their nature intended, but Original Sin keeps us confused and more animal in our choices than spiritual. In the past, God reminded humans who God is. I think it is about time for a wake-up call from nature.

I have control only over my choices, and even then, Satan has a way of making God seem so superfluous and outdated. It is not without cause that Jesus told us we must take up our crosses daily and follow Him.

In the midst of chaos, there is always redemption. Christ will not leave us orphans, although I think only a remnant of faithful will remain. There are certain words that carry the power of the Holy Spirit. In my Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5), all I need to do is be in the presence of Christ through Cistercian practices and charisms and WAIT. That’s it. Just wait!

Because these words have been embedded with The Word, they carry the energy of the one who uttered them. My evolution in spirituality is that, where I thought the only place I could be present to God was when I was at the eucharist, eucharistic adoration, Liturgy of the Hours, Lectio Divina, and reading Sacred Scripture, now I eagerly await whatever comes my way in any order. I am present to God, not limited by time, but by my own laziness to have The Christ Principle as my center.

ELECTRICAL WORDS THAT CARRY THE POWER OF FOREVER

When I touch these words, power flows from God to me, if I am humble and obedient to what God wants me to know. These words are the motivation of The Saints to love others as Christ loved us. These words have power from God for us to assimilate into our hearts and transform us from our false self to our true self.

ABANDONMENT — Abandonment to the will of the Father has always been there in my consciousness (somewhere). Like most things in my early spiritual journey, I knew of them slightly but had no idea of how they fit into reality nor into how I seek God every day purposefully and intentionally. Abandonment is leaving behind everyTHING you have and relying only upon God. This means several things, one of which is a mere human interpretation of the concept of abandonment (leaving something behind that may or may not mean anything). https://www.charlesdefoucauld.org/en/biographie.php

ASSIMILATION– I like being in the presence of Christ sitting before the Blessed Sacrament and just waiting. Waiting is part of my prayer. Assimilation means “Be it done unto me according to your World.” How that will be is by reducing all the clutter of the world and just waiting. Assimilation is also “capacitas dei” or growing in Christ Jesus.

WAITING — All of these words seem interdependent upon one another. I find that astonishing. Waiting for the Lord is the story of my life. God has been waiting for me since before the beginning of physical time. Each day, I place myself in the presence of God as I am and say, “Here I am, Lord, I come to do your will.”

CAPACITAS DEI — I seek for Christ to increase and me to decrease each day. I wait in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament for energy to flow from God to me. I don’t feel the flow. Each day I must begin my search for God anew, but with an exception. I am more than I was a day ago. My growth is due to Christ and not anything I do. I don’t have the power to do anything other than offer up my freedom to choose and say, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”

DYING TO SELF — This process (conversion morae) of putting to death those things that cause my humanity to become more animal than spiritual is not one many who call themselves Christians know about much less do. Dying to self is alien to a world that touts the cult of the individual as being the way, the truth, and the life. The cross on your forehead means to have pledged to die to yourself. Do you? More importantly, do I?

INTELLIGENT PROGRESSION V: Choices of God that have conquences

We are made in the image and likeness of God. For as long as I can remember, I have struggled with what that phrase could mean. Somehow, I think it is at the very core of what it means for me to be human, but how any of this has a bearing on my spirituality is still murky. I did have a glimmer this morning during my Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5) that bubbled to the surface of my consciousness. I share it with you, and you make you draw your own conclusions.

Where does that originate if I am defined by my ability to reason and my free will to choose what I think is good for me? If my choices define who I am, not my abilities, then can the same be said of God? God makes choices, and if the parallel holds, these choices define who God is and have consequences. My most recent addition is to seek to plumb the depths (heights) of any Lectio Divina.

Intelligent progression means that I get my ability to reason and freely choose my destiny because I am made in the image and likeness of God. If so, what are God’s choices? Scripture tells us, “Who can know the mind of God or who has been His Counselor?” Scriptures provide clues to at least approach the concept of God and free choice. Here are some random thoughts about God and choice and how their implications impact me as I struggle with reason and free will.

THE PRIMACY OF GOD’S CHOICES

As I look out at my life of over eighty-one years, I have made many choices, some good and some poor, but all of them are a result of my trying to love God with ALL my heart, ALL my mind, and ALL my strength. (Deuteronomy 6:5 and Matthew 22:38)

  • God’s choice is me (Genesis 2-3).
  • God’s choice is to allow me to be free from coercion to choose Him.
  • God’s choice is to provide me with the tools and the techniques to make it through the minefield of human nature.
  • God won’t make the journey for me because it is the journey that adds value to what it means to be fully human.
  • God’s choice is to sit on a park bench in the middle of winter and wait for me to be in God’s presence so that energy can transform me to become what my nature intended, an adopted son (daughter) of the Father and heir to the kingdom.
  • God’s choice is to put a fingerprint (DNA) on each atom and molecule to move it forward toward the fulfillment nature intended.
  • God’s choice is to give us Himself, with reason (in the case of God, pure knowledge of The Word) and freedom to make choices without blocking from God. There are consequences of God’s choice; for us, it is the final judgment that we must account for what we do.
  • God loves me so much that the choice God makes is to allow me to choose what is bad for me.

INTELLIGENT PROGRESSION III: Peering deeper into the mist of the human condition

My mind is a computer of unimaginable complexity and wonder. With the advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI), my capabilities and capacities have increased, but only because I create my World from those assumptions and trials and errors that my reason tells me are good for me. I occupy a pocket of time during which I am God, in the sense that no one can tell me what to do (they can try to do so by force or manipulation). I am guided by the sum total of my life experiences. There is nothing unique about me other than I am the only me, much like no two fingerprints are alike, or no two snowflakes look the same. I didn’t create this phenomenon. It certainly did not come from the future.

When I say that “I am the sum of my choices and their consequences,” this is my past that informs how I act and look at my purpose in life. The choice is so important that it defines humanity from animality. We progressed intelligently (evolved is the outdated expression because it only applies to the reality you can see). “I am not you; you are not me; we are not God, and, most certainly, we are not God.”

Being human means I can give away this choice, but not the ability to continue to choose another set of ideas, not my own, can be inadequate for me. Some time back, I visited the Federal Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana. They called it a high-class joint at that time because there were so many white-collar criminals. We met with a group of prisoners who had formed a Holy Name Society, a popular gathering of like-mind Catholics who were more conservative in their spiritual practices. The president of this Holy Name Society gave us a talk in the chapel. I thought I was back home in my parish because of what he said. I asked the guard who that person was who was giving the talk. She said he was a former bank president from near Chicago who was convicted of embezzlement of thousands of dollars. She also said he acted and sounded just like her grandfather. “He had only one fault,” she told me, “he thinks stealing is okay.” Where does all this aberration in the human condition arise? We are taught that human nature is not evil, just prone to bad choices. Tie this back into the human urge to resist anyone telling us what to do, and you have the basis for the Genesis narratives on why humans can be good by nature but also be so bad in how they make choices. Genesis narratives are about what they consider to be God as the Gardner of a perfect place. Humans messed it up by introducing sin (poor choices), and it continues as the context for each individual in which they seek what is good or evil. These narratives are a very sophisticated myth (in-depth explanation) of why some humans do good while at the same time can compartmentalize moral behaviors.

I have always looked to Erich Fromm’s Art of Loving as a power indicator of what it means to be human. He suggests that love is an acquired skill that is not assimilated into our consciousness and then abandoned but must be nourished with more love to sustain its integrity every day. Fromm calls this “The Art of Loving” because humans must constantly renew it to become more and more human as new situations are experienced each day that require love. Past performance is no guarantee of present or future success. Faith is also an acquired mindset received from a source of energy outside our human experience. That Faith can transform a human from being more like an animal to more like our nature intended (conversio morae) is due to the energy that comes from being in the presence of the one who can transform humanity from being just human to their next step in intelligent progression, being an adopted son or daughter of the Father.

I am on an eight-one-year-old journey to discover my purpose in life and how all reality fits together to move me forward to be as human as possible. There is also a collective movement of humanity forward, from animality through rationality to the end result of evolution, fully human. God did not provide all this communication to humans, including sending his only Son to tell us (knowledge) how to love, but show us how to sustain this love (service) until we can claim our inheritance after our human bodies die.

THE MOVEMENT OF HUMANITY VIA INTELLIGENT DESIGN

Galatians 5. I have applied The Rule of Threes to my search to become more familiar with this astounding process of how the physical universe and mental universes prepare me to reach the fulfillment of my being human. I intend to parse out three separate movements in the history of humanity as it moves forward so that I can apply these lessons to my constant obsession with moving from my false self to my true self (capacitas dei).

When I ask, “What does my humanity look like?” I offer these assumptions not to prove I am correct because this is only speculation (that is what humans do best) but some new thoughts on which you might chew. I like to use The Rule of Threes to pull apart some of the elements of intelligent design I must address.

QUESTION: Within the period of my human lifetime, I make a myriad of choices that affect who I am and who I will become. Some of those choices are good and not so good in terms of being what my human nature intended me to be. I can choose what is good or bad for me at any time on this timeline.

There are three levels of humanity, ranging from animality through rationality to spirituality. This is a sliding scale for me each day. Good choices today; don’t assume I will make them tomorrow.

ASSUMPTIONS

  • My nature as a human being is good because God made me that way.
  • The movement from animality to rationality gave my species the ability to reason and choose what is good for me.
  • Knowing what is good for me is the challenge.
  • Just live “love,” “faith,” and “hope,” these patterns of human thinking are not innate but are learned qualities. Nature does not give me control over my choices.
  • I have to make choices that are good for me.
  • Coming from animal nature, I still harbor those traits and emotional DNA traits.
  • Choosing what is good for me can be like B.F. Sinner’s operant conditioning (choosing pleasure and pain to react to choices).
  • Choosing what is good for my nature as a human means moving away from my animality by using my rationality.
  • If I make bad choices, I do so because the key I have chosen to measure my behavior against says it will not improve my humanity but limit it (sin).
  • Using my rationality does not have the energy to move me from rationality to spirituality, the destiny of where nature progresses automatically. It is the end product of evolution.
  • When I give my ability to choose to God as a gift, what I get back is the ability to choose to enter a new realm of existence (spiritual universe), one where I am not just a spectator but being treated as an adopted son of the Father and heir to His kingdom.

INTELLIGENT PROGRESSION IN ONE REALITY

Movement (time within the space of a beginning and an ending) is from simpler to more complex as matter and its antecedents collectively interact. This table views one reality with three distinct universes, each separate from another, with their own characteristics, and how humans can measure each one with different instruments. This is the big picture of humanity from its inception to extinction.

ANIMALITYRATIONALITYSPIRITUALITY
Contains everything that is living. They must choose based on natural conditions, not set by humans. The measure is nature.The measure is what makes me happy. Contains everything that is living but has a reason and the ability to choose outside their animality, set by humans. Influenced by individual emotions, free choice, and DNA.Using animality as a base, it is rationality with the knowledge to choose what is right rather than pleasurable and easy. The measure is outside of human nature. It is the opposite of rationality but depends upon it. Reason and free choice must choose the reversal of rationality and die to the false self of the World to assimilate direction from a divine nature with the power to make it happen.
TABLE A. ONE REALITY CONTAINING THREE DISTINCT UNIVERSES

THE FLOW OF TIME

In this next table, Table B, this all takes place within the universe of the mind, rationality. This is where I have lived for 81 years and in which I made those choices that continue to define who I am. My premise in this Table B is that, within humanity as a collective, and more particularly, within my short life span, I move back and forth between animality, rationality, and for those who are Baptized, spirituality. Table B is rationality as I live it from when I am born to when I physically die. The choices that I make must fall into one of three of these categories below: animality, rationality, and spirituality. Let me elaborate on each one.

ANIMALITY: I am rational and have the ability to choose what center is real for the moment. What I choose might revert back to my animal tendencies. The problem with this thinking is that, like all center, it is not permanent and changes each moment. Dominant are sexual, power, selfishness, and the emotions of preservation at the expense of others.

RATIONALITY: I control my animal tendencies with my mind and it works some of the time. My center is one that realizes that I am not alone on this rocky ball of gases and must get along. Society (imperfect because it changes with the majority of like thinkers) becomes my center. Dominant are choices that the collective consciousness says are good for me (love, family, procreation, discovering meaning, noble behaviors that help others) but also bad for me (murder, rape, incest, stealing, lying, coveting things and others). God is not automatically in this mix unless you add God. The purpose of life is to discover meaning in those things that you discover are true and lasting values, then you die.

SPIRITUALITY: As part of my sliding scale back and forth, I can sin by choosing animal behaviors as my center. The problem with centers is keeping them focused. They are in constant interaction with my human nature and the pull of Original Sin to be God. Human mental energy is not strong enough nor enduring enough to keep me centered on the spiritual universe. This energy comes from outside my human nature and I can access it with my reason and free will but only by giving it away to a higher power. Christ showed us how to do that by dying on the cross. We are to die on our cross (living our seventy or eighty years) by struggling to keep ourselves centered. Christ alone can provide the power of the Holy Spirit to keep us as adopted sons and daughters of the Father until we depart our human bodies for the next step in our evolution.

Baptism gives us new citizenship to exist parallel with our human existence. It is the reason humans have reason and freedom to choose that which makes no sense to the animal senses. The love of Christ is the power to be aware of how much God does love me and wants me to fulfill my destiny. Multiply that times everyone who lives or who has ever lived and you get a sense of just how enormous mental and spiritual reality is.

As a follower of The Master, I have chosen to be a Lay Cistercian as my way to focus on Christ so much that I seek to “have in me the mind of Christ Jesus” each day through Cistercian practices and charisms. I fight against my citizenship of the World which constantly says “What you do doesn’t make sense!” Christ tells us to deny ourselves and take up my cross (whatever comes my way each day) and transform it as a gift of thanksgiving to the Father through, with, and in Christ, with the energy of the Holy Spirit.

I must strive to become more spiritual and perfect as my heavenly Father is perfect (living as much as I can in the spirituality segment below). By myself, I don’t have the physical stamina nor the power to reach and maintain my presence in the spiritual universe. This is why I long to be in the presence of Christ each day as I trace the cross on my forehead and remind myself that I am an adopted son (daughter) of the Father but that I must have fear of the Lord (St. Benedict, Rule, Chapter 7) to allow me to offer to God the only gift he does not have from me, my free will that God’s will be done on earth, my earth, as it is in heaven. I live with the hope of the Resurrection of the Dead is true as Christ told us. All of this makes no sense to the Gentiles and is a stumbling block. Using the Christ Principle as my key to unlock the Divine Equation, I fulfill what it means for me to be fully human as my nature intended. I want to enter the next level of my intelligent progression as close to perfect as I can get by my own efforts, knowing that God makes up in me that which I lack.

 ANIMALITYRATIONALITYSPIRITUALITY
I am conceived in original sin.
I act more as my animal origins from which I came. Self-preservation, dominance, unrestricted procreation, selfishness with ideas and goods. I still exist in the rational universe St. Paul called the World (Galatians 5). I choose what gives me pleasure rather than what is difficult but correct.
I am a citizen of the World in this approach. I must make good or bad choices for myself as part of who I am. Rationality helps me to choose, but my choices have been tainted by the sin (poor choice) of Adam and Eve. I can move to the fulfillment of my humanity if I know how to solve The Divine Equation. Each human has been given a key to turn in their individual locks, but most don’t even know they have it, much less hot to use. We have human reason and free will to help us ask the correct questions and answers.I am released from the consequences of original sin and given adoption by a higher power. The consequences of sin still remain.
My DNA is animality. Each day I face multiple choices where I can progress or regress in my humanity.I have reason and the ability to choose, but my choices have consequences I may not know. When I know something is wrong and do it anyway, that is called sin. Sin is aiming for a bulls-eye on the target but missing it.One of the reasons I have reason and free will is to choose that which is difficult and does not make sense to my rationality without a key. This key comes from outside my human nature, but I don’t know about it or how to use it without someone telling me and showing me. Baptism is when I am given the keys to the next level in intelligent progression, but I need help to know how to use it. The Christ Principle shows me through the Scriptures and the trials and errors of the Old Testament and New Testament what works and what does not. I still can’t turn the key in the lock of the Christ Principle without knowing the secret combination that was given to me at Baptism but which tells me to use the power of the Holy Spirit to help me. The only way I can use the energy of the Holy Spirit is with humility and by offering my free will to God. When God’s will is done, I have the power to turn the key to unlock The Divine Equation. The price I pay for this is dying to my rational self to receive the knowledge, love, and service needed to remain in this spiritual universe and not slip back into just animality and rationality. Paradoxically, it is only when I die to my humanity that I become fully human, fulfilling my destiny as a species. Each human must move back and forth on a sliding scale while they live from animality to spirituality. This is the struggle to be human and only ceases with physical death. Each day is a new beginning, a new set of challenges. While I am alive, I have dual citizenship: my rationality lives in the World, and I make choices based on secular ideas until my physical body dies; I am also a citizen of heaven, and from Baptism to forever, I give glory to the Father, through, with and in, Jesus Christ, with the energy of the Holy Spirit. This is my destiny and what it means to be fully human.
TABLE B. MY JOURNEY FROM BIRTH TO FULFILLMENT

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ARE YOU WASTING YOUR GOOD TIME BY BELIEVING IN GOD?

It might seem strange for me to ask a question about wasting my time on putting together a view of reality where God might not exist. Actually, if I don’t ask the opposite of what I hold so tenaciously, then my belief is blind faith rather than faith informed by reason.

Here is my question: I wonder if God does not exist and all the arguments that believers tout as being true are stawed men and without substance. Does that mean my life has been a waste? If I followed Marcus Aurelius, I would have a life worthy of purpose. Following Christ allows me to be fully human as much as I can be while alive.

MARCUS AURELIUS

(26 April 121 – 17 March 180) was a Roman emperor from 161 to 180 and a Stoic philosopher.

Marcus Aurelius has ideas that seem far ahead of his time. Read what he has to say about believing something. I am amazed at how much Marcus Aurelius sounds like Christ’s admonitions on how we should live as adopted sons and daughters of the Father.

“Remember that there is a God who desires neither praise nor glory from men created in his image, but rather that they, guided by the understanding given them, should in their actions become like unto him.” ~ Marcus Aurelius

“Frequently consider the connection of all things in the universe. .. We should not say ‘I am an Athenian’ or ‘I am a Roman’ but ‘I am a citizen of the Universe.” ~ Marcus Aurelius

“What we do now echoes in eternity.” ~ Marcus Aurelius

“Live each day as if it be your last.” ~ Marcus Aurelius

“God sees the inner spirit stripped of flesh, skin, and all debris. For his own mind only touches the spirit that he has allowed to flow from himself into our bodies. And if you can act the same way, you will rid yourself of all suffering. For surely if you are not preoccupied with the body that encloses you, you will not trouble yourself about clothes, houses, fame, and other showy trappings.” ~ Marcus Aurelius

“He who lives in harmony with himself lives in harmony with the universe.” ~ Marcus Aurelius

“He who eats my bread, does my will.” ~ Marcus Aurelius

“To the wise, life is a problem; to the fool, a solution.” ~ Marcus Aurelius

“Do not be ashamed of help.” ~ Marcus Aurelius

This is my answer to living a Lay Cistercian life of solitude, silence, work, prayer, and community.

Since it is possible that thou mayest depart from life this very moment, regulate every act and thought accordingly. But to go away from among men, if there are gods, is not a thing to be afraid of, for the gods will not involve thee in evil; but if indeed they do not exist, or if they have no concern about human affairs, what is it to me to live in a universe devoid of gods or devoid of Providence? But Gods there are, undoubtedly, and they regard human affairs; and have put it wholly in our power, that we should not fall into what is truly evil.” ~ Marcus Aurelius

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ANOTHER VIEW OF REALITY

I have found a speaker that is compelling, not because of their rhetoric but because of how they view reality with statistics and trends in demography and geography. The speaker is Peter Zeihan and I recommend you consider watching his YouTube. I watch everything I can from what he has produced, which is considerable.

LECTIO DIVINA: Approaching an awareness of God using a new technique

I must make a disclaimer for this blog. Usually, my interactions with the Holy Spirit have some connection with a life experience or something I read somewhere and maybe forgot. These ideas are entirely outside what I can remember from how long I have been conscious. They are not new ideas but are new to me.

My late sleep patterns are similar to what I might term “Whale” breathing, taking a gulp of air, and then going down into an adverse environment to live your life. Every two hours in this seemingly chaotic sleep, I come up for air and change locations (bed or my favorite chair) or use the bathroom. This has developed into a pattern of how I sleep for the past eight or nine years. Physiologically, some of this might be due to my diagnosis of severe sleep apnea. I awoke during one of these “gulps of air” and had this one word fixated into my consciousness, “awareness.” I tried wearing a mask on two occasions but do not tolerate it. All of this, I realize, is in my head, but it is the world in which I must exist. This is a pattern that I have developed for Lectio Divina of late. This Lectio Divina encounter with the Holy Spirit was different. I not only received the word “awareness” for my Lectio Divina meditation(Philippians 2:5) but also a new technique to try to delve deeper into the Mysteries of Faith (what it means to be fully human as intended by our nature). My most recent Lectio Divina was the word “awareness” and the technique. I will share with you what I have received.

THE MUSTARD SEED LECTIO DIVINA — I don’t know what to call it, but the results are from one tiny word comes a multitude of related ideas in random order.

My Lectio Divina meditations (sometimes up to fifteen a day of these short gulps of air) last anywhere from one to fifteen minutes (no set time).

I always begin my Lectio Divina sessions by repeating over and over Philippians 2:5, “Have in you the mind of Christ Jesus.” I wait for what comes as I recite it in silence and solitude.

I consciously go to the upper room (Matthew 6:5), my private room, then lock the door and wait. That’s right, just wait.

In my heart, I ask the Holy Spirit to fill my heart with Divine Love (Prayer of the Holy Spirit) and visualize myself sitting on a bench in the middle of winter, peering down the road waiting for Christ to sit down with me. I am amazed that I can do Lectio Divina in silence and solitude while waiting for a Cholecystectomy at the physician’s office. Silence and solitude have developed into something profoundly internal with the mind and in the heart. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/cholecystectomy/about/pac-20384818

The Awareness of Christ

I will use steps to describe this technique, but, like the steps in Lectio Divina (lectio, meditatio, oratio, contemplatio, actio), I do them habitually without thinking, like driving a car.

STEP ONE: The Holy Spirit shares a word with me. (John 1:1) This time the word, which keeps persistently reoccurring in my mind, is “Awareness.” That is all I have to go on. That is the mustard seed I plant in the ground of my being, the Holy Spirit.

STEP TWO: (LECTIO) I repeat it repeatedly without any agenda or thoughts about what it might mean. I link this word to my center (Philippians 2:5) and wait. How long? As long as it takes. I resist the temptation to fill the holes of my unknowing with those thoughts that come from my mind and struggle to be open to the totality of all that is, the One who is.

I refer to this conscious struggle as a CONFRONTATIO (the martyrdom of the ordinary), the effects of original sin, which describes humans as having to work for their food (Genesis 2-3). To struggle while you pray is itself part of its value to God. Make no mistake; it is work, but it becomes a conscious habit with time.

STEP THREE: (MEDITATIO) In the silence and solitude of my heart, I listen with the ear of my heart as the Holy Spirit gives me one or two-word thoughts about “Awareness” as it pertains to “Have in you the mind of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5) Each of these ideas must be linked to my Lectio word and flows from it in any way. To show you what I mean, in the next segment, I will actually use these steps from my actual Lectio Divina on “Awareness.” I like to do “short bursts” of ideas that stem from the keyword, in this case, “Awareness.” I use these meditatio mosaics to build a picture for my contemplatio.

STEP FOUR: (ORATIO) My prayers in Lectio are almost always just a brief nod to the Holy Spirit to offer thanks for being counted worthy to be an adopted son (daughter) of the Father.

STEP FIVE: (CONTEMPLATIO) As of late, this stage of Lectio Divina has me ending up with no particular thoughts about “Awareness” and more just being aware that God is divine and I am an adopted son (daughter) sitting at the foot of Christ being content just to be in His presence. Waiting is a vital part of my contemplation, but one that I have sanctified by my linking all things to The Christ Principle.

STEP SIX: (ACTIO) An exciting observation as I do ACTIO after my Lectio Divine (usually by trying to write down what I can remember in my blog) is that my days of going out to the prisons and sharing my ideas with prisoners, or feeding the homeless at the local shelter, or even just having a strict routine of Liturgy of the Hours, has been significantly impacted by my aging in place. My monastic cell is my home. More and more, My monastery is the world of my creation. My Church Universal is my acceptance as God the Father’s adopted son (daughter). My ACTIO is becoming more and more the joy that results from being with the One you love and want to be with Forever, realized now, not later on in Heaven. I am finding that the difference between meditatio and contemplatio is that with mediatio, I consciously think of lists of items that come from my word or phrase. In contemplatio, I consciously don’t think of anything to say but instead wait for ideas to come into my mind. I must admit, this is a fine line, but one I am beginning to master. As you might have guessed from my choice of Lectio words, “Awareness” is integrally involved.

AWARENESS: The largess of Step Three

A product of my Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5) is an awareness I did not have before.

Knowledge precedes Love, says St. Thomas Aquinas. If that is so, I not more intelligent as a result of placing myself in the presence of the Holy Spirit, but I am more aware.

Awareness is the wisdom of linking the OT with the fulfillment of the NT. Matthew 22:38.

Aware comes from the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit as I sit on the park bench in the dead of winter.

Awareness is my beginning to link all things new with each other.

Awareness is my reading of the Holy Scriptures (John 20:30-31) not to prove anything but to see how all things fit together.

Awareness is the appreciation that I need to fear the Lord (St. Benedict’s Rule, Chapter 7) and not forget that I am not God or manipulate God to my purpose.

Awareness is the gift that allows me to tell when the Devil is behind some temptations but not others.

Awareness is realizing that I am but a broken-down, old Lay Cistercian temple of the Holy Spirit.

Awareness is just waiting for God to arrive on a park bench in the middle of winter, only to realize that God is waiting for me to die so that I can show up correctly.

Trappist Movie

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This is the trailer for the movie and not the movie itself. It is for your information.

INTELLIGENT PROGRESSION: The Stages of Human Fulfillment II

Humans, progressing from animality, contain all those traits, but something more is at work here. Animals don’t have a choice to progress or regress. Nature dictates the laws by which they must abide. We can go against nature and do what we want but are bound by those same instincts and feelings from our animal heritage. Humans know that they know. Why that it so I term intelligent progression because nature hand us off as a species from animality to rationality.

Like everything else in the corruption of matter and mind, we begin at zero, individually; but collectively, we retain those trials and errors that move forward with the river of time. I wake up on this earth but know little about my environment or how I should act, except for what my mom and dad show me is safe. Humans do not have infused knowledge (the process Elton Musk is playing around with to plug us into the totality of all knowledge all at once). In his book, The Art of Loving, we have to learn how to love, says Erich Fromm. We must learn the hard way. The variable in all of this learning is that not all of us have the capacity or capability to learn. Each person who lives within their intelligent progression shell is different. Some people want to learn. Others do not. Freedom to choose sets the universe of the mind apart from everything that went before. Humans must have the environment to survive (we need oxygen, protection from radiation from space, and the earth that nourishes us, to name a few).

THE VARIOUS LEVELS OF HUMAN PROGRESSION

I asked this question during one of my Lectio Divina meditations while sitting in the bathtub on a chair this morning (remember, I am 81.9). Wonder if there are different maturity levels of attainment for each human, depending on their choices and what they have absorbed into their lifespan? What does it mean to be fully human? Is there such a thing? How would that look? How would a human go about using free choice to move up the scale of humanity? What would you use as a milestone? Who would give you the milestones?

What follows below is a template about the intelligent progression that happens within human nature from its inception to its extinction. Intelligent progression happens in the physical universe, the mental universe, but also the spiritual universe. Our race is caught up in the Great Attractor, not the cosmological one, but the one that Teilhard de Chardin sets forth as Point Omega, that towards which all reality progresses intelligently.

Not to be outdone in terms of purpose, there are two dimensions to this intelligent progression.

THE COSMIC PROGRESSION — All reality is caught up in the stream of matter, mind, and spirit, as it flows towards its destiny. All reality has a beginning and an end.

MY INTELLIGENT PROGRESSION — In all that is or was, there is only one me. I exist for seventy or eighty years if I am lucky (I guess I am lucky for I am at 81.9). I realize that I am part of a species that shares an animal background in common, even sharing a big chunk of DNA with my ancestors, but that I have reason and freedom to choose what I think is good for me even if it is not. How I deal with my dominant sexual urges, there to procreate the species, but also there to make me happy, is something that I have to learn and does not come without trial and error to see what is authentic love or unauthentic. Love does not come naturally but our species must learn it, individual by individual. We don’t seem to learn from our past mistakes so God had to tell us not to step into the do-do, even though our world says it is okay. We had to have someone to show us what it means to be fully what our nature intended.

The intelligent progression of our humanity does not depend upon my intrusion into its flow, but the accumulation of individuals can cause alterations to our environment. In the way I reflect on reality, the end of intelligent progression is a movement from dissonance to resonance of what humans should have become before Adam and Eve committed the archetypal sin. This spiritual universe is unlike the other two (physical and mental) because the assumptions have changed about what it means to be fully human. Adam and Eve are caretakers of the Garden in Genesis 2-3. I must also be a caretaker of everything below my nature. I can only do that from a power greater than what I possess in my human nature. This is pure energy in the form of pure knowledge, pure love, and pure service (taking care of the garden of my life, getting rid of the weed, adding the correct fertilizer for food, and producing good fruit from the trees of the knowledge of good or evil.

Within this intelligent progression of my life, I must discover the correct answers to six questions to become fully human, and thus fully an adopted son (daughter) of the Father, Point Omega of Teilhard de Chardin.

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

Individually, I can be a President Putin and conquer everything people will allow me to grasp, in the name of nationalism, but if I can’t answer these six questions correctly, so what?

I can be the richest professional football player who thinks that he is worth millions and millions of dollars for his skill, but if I cannot answer these six questions correctly, how much am I actually worth?

If I am a dedicated cardiologist at the peak of his skills, saving thousands of lives with the technology that has been developed over the years but can’t answer these six questions, what has my time and talent been worth?

It is only when I am fully human, which means I can answer these six most crucial questions about who I am and my purpose during my lifetime, that is meaningful, in the end. I am destined to be an adopted son or daughter of the Father, heir to the spiritual universe, but I have to be in training in my lifetime to practice for the next life. Like anything else in life as a citizen of the world, it takes work and awareness of what is going on, to make it to the next level of humanity, the spiritual self. You enter this stage with Baptism and continue to maintain it with the help of the power of the Holy Spirit. You become dual citizens: that of the world until your body does, and that of an adopted son, from your Baptism to forever.

I need to claim my inheritance, and I can only do that with help from being in the presence of Christ. Being a Lay Cistercian is how I chose to practice loving others as Christ loved us. I do that by participating in those activities where Christ is present, such as Lectio Divina, and trying to contemplate or rest next to the heart of Christ only seeking whatever it is that the Holy Spirit wishes to impart.

MY INTELLIGENT PROGRESSION

Physical UniversePhysical and Mental UniversesPhysical, Mental, and Spiritual Universes
The World of EmotionsThe World, the mind, and the heartThe Spirit is the fulfillment of the mind and heart. “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.”
Humans are not aware of good or evil and act their animal natureHumans are aware of their human nature and enact societal or tribal laws to keep from killing each otherHumans are aware that their human nature has another step to make them adopted sons and daughters of the Father.
Birth of the physical bodyBirth of the awareness of what is  good or evilBirth of the Spirit
Natural LawHuman interpretation of Natural Law. Good societies have good laws, but evil societies make bad laws.The Church Universal safeguards God’s interpretation of the Natural Law.
Animal instincts of survival, and power, without any thought of morality.Human awareness that there must be ways to regulate behavior that protect both society and individualsAwareness that those who choose have a citizenship that transcends living in the World (dual citizenship)
More animality as a human than rationalityIntelligent progression toward more civility and awareness of respect for othersThe Law of loving others as Christ loved us.
Pleasure and pleasing human emotions are primary. Doing what is easy.I am postponing pleasure for future gain, suffering discomfort but doing what is right sometimes versus what is easy.I am dying to my false self so that I            might be fully human and do what God thinks is right.
I am choosing what is good for me.I am choosing what is good for me and will enable others to choose what is good for them.I am choosing what is good for me regarding my perception of The Christ Principle.
Nobody tells me what to do.My choice is informed by what others tell us is good or bad.My choice is informed by Faith and influenced by reason.
The rule of hatred, fear, the dominance of others, lust, jealousy, orgiastic sex (Erich Fromm), murder,The morality of the moment and what society or factions are in it have current sway.The rule of preferring nothing to the love of Christ is my center, and maintaining it consumes all of my time until I die.
I never grow past being human at the lowest level of humanity.I want to be more than all the false prophets and useless promises of what it means to be human, but I am not sure what to put at my center.I can grow to what my humanity intended by intelligent progression. Even if there is no God as I was taught (which is not my position), I have led a life at the whole level of what it means to be a human.
I don’t know that I am even in this condition of animality. My reason has accepted assumptions that cause me to be narcissistic in my approach to the World.I try to love those that love me and keep myself from ending up as totally animal. I open myself to the love of others and being happy with who I am.I try to die to my animal self and convert my rational self to become more like the mind of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5)
Life is what I can grab from it and covet.I want to be all I can and help others do the same.I choose a power outside of me that is the way, the truth, and the life.
I live in two universes (physical and mental).I live in two universes, The World, and will spend whatever time I haveI live in three universes (physical, mental, and spiritual), but one reality. I am a citizen of the World (my base) and also a citizen of the kingdom of heaven by Faith and Belief.
We live, love, get what we can take from life, then die.We aspire to be someone who loves others, treasures family, and makes the world a better place, then we die.We only want to have in us the mind of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5) to live in the presence of Christ while we live. The purpose of life is to love God with our whole heart, mind, and self; to love our neighbor as ourselves. (Deuteronomy 6:5 and Matthew 22:37)
I covet my free choice and will not give it to anyone.I choose to use my freedom to choose to help myself but also to help others.I give my choice as a gift to God and exclaim: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Love is fulfilling my instinct for sexual pleasure and procreation.Love is sharing who I am with who you are.Love is. I define the Art of Love by practicing authentic love each day. Love is wanting to be in the presence of the real presence of Christ in Eucharist and Eucharistic Adoration and just wait.
Peace means I am calm.Peace means the absence of conflict.Peace means the presence of love.
Peering deeper into the intelligent progression of humanity

LEARNING POINTS

  • All of these categories comprise what it means to be human. There are levels of intelligent progression to being human depending on the choice each of us makes and how we deal with its implications.
  • In terms of geographic time, humans transitioned from full animality to preliminary humanity very recently.
  • Intelligent progression means my race is evolving in its collective maturity.
  • Within that river of progress, I have a unique chance to discover what it means to be fully human as intended by my species.
  • My reason and freedom to choose are key to my discovering what is good for me or bad for me. I learn from my mistakes.
  • By using The Christ Principle as a key to unlock the Divine Equation, I can approach what it means to be fully human before I die.

PROPHESIES THAT ARE TRUE, SADLY.

In this blog, just watch theseYoutube videos with no comment from me. It doesn’t need commenting, sadly.

PROBING THE DEPTHS OF “NOW”

All of this started with my asking, “What is time?” I am having difficulty with this idea because, just when I think I have the answer, a new door opens with more challenging questions. I have been in the business of opening doors for some forty-one years. It doesn’t look like it will stop anytime soon.

Perhaps a photo might illustrate my confusion. Look at the photo below and think or write down exactly what you see, nothing more. Take five minutes.

Photo by fauxels on Pexels.com

This is my first time seeing this picture, but these are my random thoughts.

I don’t recognize even one person in this photo.

They look like they are alive.

This is a snapshot in time, one moment captured forever.

Each person is an individual who lives seventy or eighty years, then is gone.

I don’t know the backstory of any of these people, yet the sum of choices makes them who they are as I see them in this picture.

Each person is unique, and no two lifetimes are the same, yet, they have lived it out one moment at a time, one NOW at a time.

The past is a record of the choices we have made. The future awaits our choices, and we have only the past to learn what is good for us or bad for us.

Everyone in the group can influence the individual’s choice but cannot make that choice for them.

The NOW is what is real. It is where I find a purpose for my time on earth. It is how I assimilate what my purpose in life is. The future does not exist yet, but because of time, I have no choice but to use the time to make choices that make me more and more human.

In each photo of a person above, they are the sum of their choices, good ones to become more human and bad ones, which lead to dissonance about purpose.

Jesus is the truth because only one truth allows me to go in the correct direction. Jesus, in this context, is the way to show me the direction my future should take consistent with my nature. Jesus is the life because, having tried to sanctify the NOWs of my life with knowledge, love, and service, my life will end my temporal time but begin my spiritual time where there is only a NOW.

This NOW is where I investigate the backstories of everyone in the photo above to see how did measure up against the meaning of life, where they went off track, and how they succeeded.

In time, it would take a lifetime to meet with everyone who ever lived and probe how they did. In spiritual time, I have all the time to become one with all who exist.

The God of second chances allows me to rummage through the backstory of my life right now and pick out those times when I did not act my nature (Galatians 5) and ask forgiveness, even if I have confessed those sins before. My quest is to be perfect as God is perfect.

If heaven is a place of perfection, why is everyone there (except Jesus and Mary) a sinner?

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IT IS A WASTE OF GOOD TIME TO PROVE THE EXISTENCE OF GOD

I never know what will present for my examination and reflection during my Lectio Divina. (Philippians 2:5). Today, I am sitting in the bathtub (that is how people who are 81.7 can take a bath), and the thought of how ridiculous it is to try to prove the existence of God popped into my mind. God doesn’t need proof. God is. I don’t need to justify God to anyone but myself. In fact, for me to argue the existence of God (talking at my opponent and not listening to what they say) is impossible. St. Thomas Aquinas seems to agree with me. I have neither the capability (the tools to measure pure energy) nor the capacity to understand it if I indeed would ever be in a position to know what I am observing.

What I can and do do (I know, I like the sound of it) is to try with all the tools I have and discover what it means to be fully human and what the end product of my intelligent progression is. In short, I just concentrate on myself and how I can decipher The Divine Equation with the life choices I have made. The Divine Equation, for those who don’t follow my adventurous thinking, is my attempt at discovering who I am meant to be as a human, using all of my capability and capacity. I call it Divine because I conjecture that the questions and the answers come from a source outside ourselves. I liken my quest for The Divine Equation to that of a theoretical mathematician or physicist. Six progressive postulates need to be solved to complete the equation. Here are my six postulates that must be solved with the correct answer to achieve resonance and move to the next one.

  • What is the purpose of life?
  • What is the purpose of my life 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 received these six postulates in various Lectio Divina sessions during the past eight years. I wrote several books about these postulates and what I have discovered on Amazon.com. Again, I don’t need to prove these postulates to anyone, but I do share them with the understanding that you draw your own conclusions (which you would do anyway).

I wrote a book entitled, The Divine Equation, as I mentioned. I have not solved The Divine Equation, as much as I think I have answered them correctly, giving my life experiences and knowledge. The search for a more profound truth is always ongoing, which is one of the reasons I applied to join the Lay Cistercians of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery (Trappist) and follow Trappist practices and charisms, I am not a monk, but I follow the Rule of St. Benedict as interpreted by Cistercian (Trappist) covenants and constitutions. http://www.trappist.net

Humans have reason and the ability to choose what they think is good for them. These two characteristics of humans over animals are one reason I see humanity evolving from its collective DNA of animality to something much grander. It is why some humans of the species are despicable, and some are saints inspiring in us the noblest sentiments of what humanity could be.

My thoughts have led me to look for a range of humanity from being more like animals to more like what are species was intended to be. Here are some ideas about those three levels of being human.

THE ANIMAL SELF: The dominance of our Animal Self, and We don’t even know it.THE RATIONAL SELF WHO CAN CHOOSE WHAT IS GOOD OR BAD: Choice to be something more than our worst behaviors.THE SPIRITUAL SELF DENIES SELF TO FOLLOW CHRIST. The choice of putting to the death your animal self and abandoning the allurements of the World to gain the fullness of what being human means now and in the life to come.
Physical UniversePhysical and Mental UniversesPhysical, Mental, and Spiritual Universes
The World of EmotionsThe World, the mind, and the heartThe Spirit is the fulfillment of the mind and heart. “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.”
Humans are not aware of good or evil and act their animal natureHumans are aware of their human nature and enact societal or tribal laws to keep from killing each otherHumans are aware that their human nature has another step to make them adopted sons and daughters of the Father.
Birth of the physical bodyBirth of the awareness of what is  good or evilBirth of the Spirit
Natural LawHuman interpretation of Natural Law. Good societies have good laws, but evil societies make bad laws.The Church Universal safeguards God’s interpretation of the Natural Law.
Animal instincts of survival, and power, without any thought of morality.Human awareness that there must be ways to regulate behavior that protect both society and individualsAwareness that those who choose have a citizenship that transcends living in the World (dual citizenship)
More animality as a human than rationalityIntelligent progression toward more civility and awareness of respect for othersThe Law of loving others as Christ loved us.
Pleasure and pleasing human emotions are primary. Doing what is easy.I am postponing pleasure for future gain, suffering discomfort but doing what is right sometimes versus what is easy.I am dying to my false self so that I            might be fully human and do what God thinks is right.
I am choosing what is good for me.I am choosing what is good for me and will enable others to choose what is good for them.I am choosing what is good for me regarding my perception of The Christ Principle.
Nobody tells me what to do.My choice is informed by what others tell us is good or bad.My choice is informed by Faith and influenced by reason.
The rule of hatred, fear, the dominance of others, lust, jealousy, orgiastic sex (Erich Fromm), murder,The morality of the moment and what society or factions are in it have current sway.The rule of preferring nothing to the love of Christ is my center, and maintaining it consumes all of my time until I die.
I never grow past being human at the lowest level of humanity.I want to be more than all the false prophets and useless promises of what it means to be human, but I am not sure what to put at my center.I can grow to what my humanity intended by intelligent progression. Even if there is no God as I was taught (which is not my position), I have led a life at the whole level of what it means to be a human.
I don’t know that I am even in this condition of animality. My reason has accepted assumptions that cause me to be narcissistic in my approach to the World.I try to love those that love me and keep myself from ending up as totally animal. I open myself to the love of others and being happy with who I am.I try to die to my animal self and convert my rational self to become more like the mind of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5)
Life is what I can grab from it and covet.I want to be all I can and help others do the same.I choose a power outside of me that is the way, the truth, and the life.
I live in two universes (physical and mental).I live in two universes, The World, and will spend whatever time I haveI live in three universes (physical, mental, and spiritual), but one reality. I am a citizen of the World (my base) and also a citizen of the kingdom of heaven by Faith and Belief.
We live, love, get what we can take from life, then die.We aspire to be someone who loves others, treasures family, and makes the World a better place, then we die.We only want to have in us the mind of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5) to live in the presence of Christ while we live. The purpose of life is to love God with our whole heart, mind, and self; to love our neighbor as ourselves. (Deuteronomy 6:5 and Matthew 22:37)
I covet my free choice and will not give it to anyone.I choose to use my freedom to choose to help myself but also to help others.I give my choice as a gift to God and exclaim: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Love is fulfilling my instinct for sexual pleasure and procreation.Love is sharing who I am with who you are.Love is. I define the Art of Love by practicing authentic love each day. Love is wanting to be in the presence of the real presence of Christ in Eucharist and Eucharistic Adoration and just wait.
Peace means I am calm.Peace means the absence of conflict.Peace means the presence of love.
Peering deeper into the intelligent progression of humanity

LEARNING POINTS

  • All of these categories comprise what it means to be human. There are levels of intelligent progression to being human depending on the choice each of us makes and how we deal with its implications.
  • In terms of geographic time, humans transitioned from full animality to preliminary humanity very recently.
  • Intelligent progression means my race is evolving in its collective maturity.
  • Within that river of progress, I have a unique chance to discover what it means to be fully human as intended by my species.
  • My reason and freedom to choose are key to my discovering what is good for me or bad for me. I learn from my mistakes.
  • By using The Christ Principle as a key to unlock the Divine Equation, I can approach what it means to be fully human before I die.

DOCTOR MELLIFLUUS

Two resources for you that I find helpful.

First, here is the site where all the Vatican written materials are stored. Doctor Mellifluuus is one such document about Saint Bernard of Clairvaux. Also, check out each of the Ecumenical Councils at the top of the page.

https://www.newadvent.org/library/

Secondly, here is the actual document.

https://www.newadvent.org/library/docs_pi12dm.htm

Pass it on, if you think this is of value.

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SLOW DOWN II

One lesson that I have begun to be aware of as a direct result of Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5) is my prayers, even my routine life chores have been noticeably slowing down. Awareness of these little hints at growth is all that I have to tell me that I am growing in Christ and becoming less of myself. The paradox of losing self to gain Christ seems to go against my fixation on trying to be as human as I can possibly be. Yet, The Christ Principle is the key to making all things new, especially my new self each day.

A direct result of slowing down is peacefulness. I find that I am able to ride over the rough terrain of rocky relationships with more composure, rather than reacting when anyone puts me down and tells me that I am a loser and that my Lay Cistercian efforts are living in La-La Land. It is as though I am having to paddle upstream against the waters of original sin and the effects of having to choose what I think is good when it is actually bad for me. My humanity contains what is most noble of our species and yet there is a thin line separating me from my animal past (way back there).

If we look at that classic archetypal story of what it means to be human and why we choose what we think is good or bad for us, Genesis 2-3, what jumps out at me each time is how humans don’t seem to get what is in front of their face. When I slow down and read this passage, I get more of a flavor of what the authors are trying to communicate. Sin came into the world through one man, St. Paul states in Romans 5. Sin here is one archetypal act that affected all those who came after (humans not animals). Why people act so erratically is up to many factors, but essentially it comes down to what people place at their center. Looking around me at what is going on (each age has troubles of its own), I see no one taking time to reflect on the implications and consequences of their bad choices.

  • To slow down is to seek refuge in God for all the turmoil in my life.
  • To slow down is to refocus each day on what is important.
  • To slow down is to remember, human, you are dust, and into dust, you shall return.
  • To slow down is to be aware that we must place our hope in God alone (St. Benedict, Chapter 4 of the Rule).
  • To slow down is to relish and yearn for the time you share with Christ as the Holy Spirit overshadows you with as much pure energy as you can absorb (Mary absorbed as much as a human could possibly contain).
  • To slow down means “…to have in your the mind of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5)
  • To slow down means, you are aware that you are an adopted son or daughter of the Father and that your destiny as a human being is not this earth but to be with Christ…forever.
  • To slow down means your center requires constant nourishment (Eucharist) and repair (Reconciliation), which can only be fed by abandoning your will to that of God (without losing the integrity of what it means to be human, of course).
  • To slow down means, you realize that giving away your choice of what is good or bad for you to resonate with God means that you gain what it means to be human without losing your freedom to choose.
  • To slow down means, you take time to refocus on the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit in you and try to expel the seven deadly sins (conversio morae).
  • To slow down means, you use contemplative practices and charisms of Cistercian spirituality if you are a Lay Cistercian, and do it over and over (the martyrdom of ordinary living).
  • To slow down means, you sit on the edge of your bed each morning and re-new your Baptismal commitment to try to see Jesus in whatever comes your way (seeking God).
  • To slow down means you begin to realize the significance of that cross that you have traced on your forehead at Baptism, in the Eucharist, in Reconciliation, at Confirmation, at Matrimony, at Holy Orders when your hands are signed with the cross using Sacred Chrism, at your last dying breath, when the priest makes the sign of the cross on your forehead, your heart, your hands. Slowing down means speeding up your awareness of Christ living in your now, each day until you die.

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USING THE HEGELIAN DIALECTIC TO UNSCRAMBLE THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE CHRIST PRINCIPLE

Two years ago, this coming month, I made the mistake of sitting down on a park bench in the dead of winter, seeking to be near the heart of Christ and receive energy from the Holy Spirit. All I did was say to the Holy Spirit, “Be it done unto me according to your will.” I received a virtual key that the Holy Spirit told me would unlock the depths of The Christ Principle and open me up to the totality of all that is. My only problem was that I could only process all this with the lifetime of what I learned about the purpose of life contained in the Divine Equation. Each day, I am seated on that park bench in the dead of winter, asking the same question “Open to me the depths of my adoption as a son (daughter) of the Father and allow me to plunge once again into the life-giving Baptismal waters of the way, leading to the truth, so that I might lead a life that is contrary to what the World says is its purpose.” This is the pause that refreshes.

Within this context, I uncovered a more profound (higher) meaning to how The Christ Principle is the key to explaining how all reality fits together as one, even though there are three separate universes (physical, mental, and spiritual). I begin each Lectio Divina session, wherever I am, by reciting over and over my center, “Have in you the mind of Christ Jesus,” then waiting for the Holy Spirit to overshadow my heart. With God’s energy, I dare to move forward with “fear of the Lord” (humility). Waiting patiently in silence and solitude is a key for me to receive The Christ Principle, the only key to unlocking the mysteries of Faith beyond my capacity or capability.

The title of using the Hegelian dialectic to get a way to approach The Christ Principle is itself a mystery. I don’t know much about this synthesis and antithesis or even how it applies, but I share my thoughts, and you make any conclusions that come to your mind. I will share with you what I received.

USING THE HEGELIAN DIALECTIC AS AN INSIGHT INTO THE CHRIST PRINCIPLE

What is the dialectic approach of Hegel and how might this tool bring insight into the Divine Equation, the six questions about being fully human? Listen to this Youtube on The Hegelian Dialectic and ask yourself how this might apply to looking at the way you view reality.


A Tool of the Mind to Focus on Mental Relationships

With the disclaimer that I am no philosopher nor a theologian, just a broken-down, old Lay Cistercian temple of the Holy Spirit, I make some observations.

Humans differ from animals in that they can reason and make choices without interference.

The choices are outside of us and may be good or bad for us.

God tells us what is good for us as an option for our free choice.

Each individual lives in a bubble of time (seventy or eighty years, if we are strong, according to Psalms), then we die.

Within that time, we use those trials and errors in our lifetime to determine the purpose of life, our purpose within that purpose, what reality looks like, how it all fits together, how to love fiercely, and we know we are going to die, so, now what?

These questions are The Divine Equation. It does not solve who God is but rather who I am as a fulfilled human being.

When I begin to discover what it means to be human, and my destiny, I can do so only with power outside myself and beyond myself. This is the paradigm of God, the spiritual universe is the opposite of what I do as I live in the real world (physical and mental universes).

Baptism is when God accepts me as an adopted son. I must respond by saying “Be it done to me, according to your word.”

I can go on and on with these ideas, but I wanted to share with you the depths into which I plunge each time I do Lectio Divina. This is due to my free will each day that says, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” I abandon my will based on my capacity to do so (capacitas dei). Here is what I want you to do. Go back to the top of this list and reread them, asking yourself how each of these ideas is part of a greater whole. If all of these ideas are one statement, use this one idea as the antithesis statement.

THESISSYNTHESIS: THE CHRIST PRINCIPLEANTITHESIS
Two universes, physical and mental universe, but one reality.Christ today, yesterday, and tomorrow is the key that expands one reality to three separate functions and persons.Three universes (physical, mental, physical) but one reality.
The physical universe is our visible base for existence.The spiritual universe is the invisible reality we enter voluntarily but must maintain to keep us from slipping back into just two universes (physical and mental).The mental universe is our visible and invisible context for awareness of the physical universe and questioning what we discover.
The world of matter, time, energy, space, natural law, animal, and humans.The world of opposites to what we experience with our science, literature, and human reasoning alone.The world of the mind looks at our base and asks, Why? What? Who? When? How? and So What?
The Law of NatureThe Law of God is to love others as Christ has loved us.The Law of Nature and Laws of Society
All that is.I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.All that is assimilated into my brief time so I can determine purpose.
Its purpose is to be what it is intended to be.Its purpose is to move to a higher level of intelligent progression and fulfill our natureIts purpose is to discover how to love what we can’t see.
AnimalityAdopted sons and daughters of the Father.Rationality
 Kingdom Glory Power
Lectio Divina using the Hegelian dialectic

Remember, these are thoughts from an old guy who wants to be in the presence of Pure Energy and just soak it up.

FALSE QUESTIONS: Beware of these five bear traps in seeking God each day as a Lay Cistercian.

I. BEWARE OF THINKING YOU ARE SOMEHOW BETTER AS A LAY CISTERCIAN THAN OTHER LAY OBLATES OF OTHER TYPES OF APPROACHES TO CONTEMPLATION (Dominican, Franciscan, Benedictine, Basilian, or Jesuit approaches to spirituality for the Laity). This trap is one that the Devil can use to deceive the faithful and those, especially with blind faith. The euphoria over being accepted by the Abbot as a Lay Cistercian novice, junior or professed can unleash a flood of adrenalin to justify that you are better than others (My God can beat Your God).

II. BEWARE OF BEING A LAY CISTERCIAN WITHOUT TAKING UP YOUR CROSS EACH DAY AND SEEKING GOD. In this approach to spiritual reality, your cross is made of balsam wood, and your belief is in eating cotton candy instead of the cross. It tastes fabulous but has no nutrition.

III. BEWARE OF THINKING THAT BEING A LAY CISTERCIAN MEANS PRAYING LECTIO DIVINA SEVERAL TIMES A DAY. LITURGY OF THE HOURS, ATTENDING EUCHARIST EACH DAY, AND READING SACRED SCRIPTURES. This temptation can cause us to think that being what God wants of us is multiplying prayers. The more you pray, the more you are an excellent Lay Cistercian. Being a Lay Cistercian or a Cistercian monk or nun means daily abandoning self and moving from that false self to fill your heart with the grace of the Holy Spirit. The key here is a balance between where you are as a citizen of the World and an adopted son (daughter) of the Father.

IV. BEWARE OF SINGLE-ISSUE SPIRITUALITY. Balance is essential to keep from going off the deep end into single-source spirituality or social issues. An example is someone who is fixated just on abortion issues without placing it in the context of silence, solitude, work, prayer, and community. Being in a Lay Cistercian community allows us to keep our perspective on the prize, “Having in each of us the mind of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5).

V. BEWARE OF THINKING THAT BEING BORN AGAIN IS A ONE-TIME EXPERIENCE, AND YOU GET A FREE PASS TO HEAVEN. Baptism not only means that original sin is taken away and that you begin fresh again, but it also means God grants you adoption as son or daughter. That carries with it the daily struggle of keeping Christ as your center. Each day, we are born again to strive to move from our false self of sin and imperfection to that of placing ourselves in the presence of Christ and just waiting.

GREGORIAN CHANT: The language of God

Listening is praying.

May the music speak to your heart as you sit in silence and solitude contemplating how grateful you are that the Father calls you son or daughter.

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THE SIXTY-SECOND CATHOLIC: Lectio Divina lite

This title does not refer to how many words you can read in sixty seconds, but how many ideas I can put together, linking one to another in rapid branching. No commentary. No opinions on my part. I seem to remember that I used this fifty years ago, called data dumping. Try it yourself. Just pick a topic, write down a short phrase or sentence that comes to your mind, then repeat this technique for sixty minutes. The object is not to see how many ideas you can generate but to get those neurons synapsing with whatever comes out, even if it is nothing.

I always use this technique at 2:30 a.m. Lectio Divina breaks daily (my bathroom break) (Philippians 2:5). I have never failed to fall asleep quickly when I use this technique.

Here are some of the topics I have thought about for this Sixty Second Catholic technique, based on Philippians 2:5.

  • How crazy is my sign of the cross on my forehead?
  • Why would God love me, a sinner, so much?
  • How Eucharist is the nuclear fission of the spiritual universe.
  • Awareness
  • Faith is not belief
  • The purpose of life is not marriage, but the purpose of marriage is life.
  • If heaven is so perfect, why is it so full of sinners?
  • As big as the universe is, my eighty-one years in it is the center of all reality.
  • Heaven
  • Hell begins with birth; heaven begins with Baptism.
  • I am a penitential person.
  • Who is more powerful than God?
  • I try to prove the existence of God in my life; atheists try to prove its non-existence.
  • Energy in three universes
  • Is sex bad? If so, why it is our more compulsive emotion?
  • The Church is not against pleasure but only putting it as your center rather than The Christ Principle.
  • The Great Attractor is not just a cosmological phenomenon but also a name for The Great Accuser, Satan, who prowls about seeking whom he may devour.
  • The resurrection: fiction of deluded disciples or non-fiction?
  • The five types of the literary genres of God in Scripture. https://vhlblog.vistahigherlearning.com/the-five-main-genres-of-literature.html
  • Power in three universes
  • The Rule of Threes
  • For behold, I make all things new.

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PRIMARY RESOURCES

If you want to explore being a Lay Cistercian, I recommend you read the commentaries of those who existed after Christ and before there was an officially sanctioned list (canon) of books. I use the following resources.

  1. https://web.archive.org/web/20180716100726/http://www.churchfathers.org/
  2. https://www.newadvent.org/fathers/

If you try reading these resources out of their context, it just becomes a frustrating exercise without purpose. Here is what I do and you can judge if it is of use in your spiritual encampment.

  1. Pick a theme, e.g., Eucharist.
  2. Access either of these resources and search for writers about the Eucharist.
  3. Read one short chapter and determine if it resonates with you.
  4. If you belong to a Scripture Study, ask each member to read the same passage.
  5. Come up with three ideas from a Church Father and how it relates to Scripture.

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TEN EXCUSES HUMANS USE WHEN STANDING BEFORE THE THRONE OF THE LAMB

Here are some excuses that people might use when they stand face to face before Jesus in their particular judgment when they die. How do I know what people might say? I don’t. What I do know is what excuses I might make when my time comes.

The Devil Made Me Do it. Read Genesis 3 and its brilliant depiction of temptation and responsibility. This is as true today as it was back in the day.

12The man replied, “The woman whom you put here with me—she gave me fruit from the tree, so I ate it.”

13The LORD God then asked the woman: What is this you have done? The woman answered, “The snake tricked me, so I ate it.”e

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/genesis/3

It’s your fault God, you never told me about what I needed to do.

The Catholic Church didn’t tell me how important loving others was, so it is their fault.

I did not see that one coming.

All the pedophile priests disgusted me so much that I gave up religion altogether.

How can the Catholic Church be holy when all I see are its members so imperfect and full of sin?

The Catholic Church is so corrupt and full of falsehood, I can’t stand to be in the same room with any of those people.

I didn’t think that anything that ridiculous could be true.

Where did all this knowledge about how to get to heaven? I never heard any of it.

If heaven is perfect, why is it full of sinners?

INTELLIGENT PROGRESSION: Is The Christ Principle the Fulfillment of the Gamaliel Prediction?

As much as I am shocked by what comes out of my Lectio Divina sessions with the Holy Spirit, these seemingly unrelated ideas are beginning to make sense, which is scary since I don’t control any of them. I looked back at my life as primarily a failure and missed opportunities to love others as Christ loved me. I don’t consider myself one of those pessimistic purveyors of victimization who seeks to shame everyone into pity for me. My nature is created good. What I have created with my human rendition of my purpose within my eighty-one years is a failure. I say failure in the sense of missed opportunities and times when I was oblivious to The Christ Principle. It is my failure to learn from my failures because I did not even see them as failures. All of this is becoming more and more apparent to me as I get older and apply where I am as a Lay Cistercian with situations in life where I am embarrassed by how I act to others.

My daily growth in capacitas dei, more Christ, and less me, provides me with a template to measure where I am now with what I was growing up. The movement of my life is part of a more extensive progression towards an unseen force out there. I claim eighty-one years of it. I call it intelligent progression because it was created by the Word (John 1:1). My boat entered this cosmic river of intelligent progression on September 24, 1940, and I am still afloat. In particular, I offer several examples of how I apply my past experiences as measured against where I am not in my growth in The Christ Principle.

MR DENNY AND HIS SIMPLICITY OF CONTEMPLATION — It must have been around 1950 when a naive young man (me) was walking outside the Old Cathedral in Vincennes, Indiana, when I met a senior gentleman whom I only knew as Mr. Denny. He was walking down the steps just having existed the Church, and we chanced to exchange a few words. I asked Mr. Denny what he was doing in Church, thinking he might have been the janitor. Mr. Denny responded, “I just sit down in the Church and look at Christ in the Blessed Sacrament and he looks at me. I have been doing this for thirty-two years at least once a week.” I remember thinking, “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts.” This very chance encounter with Mr. Denny is part of who I am, mainly because, all these years later, I link it with my current notion of the purpose of life, “To love God with all my heart, with all my mind, and all my strength, and my neighbor as myself.” (Deuteronomy 6:5 and Matthew 22:36)

Who we are cannot be more than the sum of our choices (good ones and ones that were wrong the hard way). In an authentic sense, the totality of my past is what I draw upon, in addition to the present sanctification of each moment, in my Lectio Divina mediations to reach way back to one of those incidents (like Mr. Denny) and bring it forward to either convert it from a wrong choice (sometimes sin, most of the time just making a complete fool out of myself) to a choice that leads me from my false self to my good self now.

I am keenly aware of how I have the opportunity to sanctify each moment, each day, being able to do now what I either forgot to do in my past or ask forgiveness of someone in my past whom I wrong or ignored. I think about this snapshot of how I acted in the past and ask that person to forgive me for being so rude or whatever it might be. This is how I use intelligent progression to think back in my lifetime, bring up a situation where I was a complete jerk, and ask that person to forgive me. In this way, I make all things new, using the power of the Holy Spirit and the example of The Christ Principle to convert those tiny parts of me that still remain as part of my false self.

I have been encouraged as of late to look at all of my reparations for past sins and failures, plus asking daily for God’s mercy in the Seven Penitential Psalms. I have set them up so that you can read each of them and apply your own life to these words of hope from the Holy Spirit to your heart.

In silence and solitude, listen, then wait.

This psalm is me.

What the psalmist feels is what I feel. I do penance for my inadequacies.
I know my sins, my sins are always before me. I must continually abandon and convert my whole self so that I can love God with all my heart, mind, strength, and neighbor as myself. (Matthew 22:38)
I am like an owl, like a lone sparrow on the roof.
I wait for the Lord.
I remember the days of old. I ponder all your deeds.

LEARNING POINTS

  • Conversion is not a one-time event we make euphorically and then gradually forget.
  • Use one of these seven penitential psalms each time you go to confess your sins or when you sit in the back seat in the Taxcollector’s seat with eyes lowered and repeat, “Have mercy on me, a sinner, Son of David.”
  • We all must work each day to have The Christ Principle in our hearts through Cistercian practices and charisms.
  • Gamaliel’s Prediction is accurate: If Jesus is God, as he asserts, you will have no power to stop him; if he is no prophet, you won’t need to stop him, for he will die out of his own accord.

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. –Cistercian doxology

ABANDONMENT: A Lay Cistercian’s quest to love God with his whole mind, his whole heart, his whole strength, and his neighbor as himself.

This rather long and windy title is quite sophisticated as I begin to unwind the various depths contained within the words. First, behind the quote sits the center of the Old Testament, the Shema Yisrael (Deuteronomy 6:5). Not only that, it is the center of the New Testament (Matthew 22:36).

Next, this quote answers the first question posed by The Divine Equation, “What is the purpose of life?” You must answer this first question to proceed to the next one, “What is the purpose of your life within that purpose?” and the next one, “What does reality look like?”, then “How does it all fit together?” and “How to love fiercely?” and finally “You know you are going to die. Now What?”

Every person Baptized into the death of Christ must follow those footsteps and also die to self to open up a vision of the New Jerusalem, the kingdom of heaven, and to begin to prepare to live as an adopted son or daughter of the Father now, and after death, claim your inheritance created just for you from the before there was time itself.

As a Lay Cistercian, I have promised to seek God daily through Cistercian practices and charisms. Each day, I begin my quest to die to self anew, but with a big difference. I am now more (capacitas dei) than I was the day before because I have preferred nothing to the love of Christ (Chapter 4, Rule of St. Benedict).

I noticed that my attempts to love God with my whole heart, mind, and strength are influenced by the effects of Original Sin. At best, I can only struggle with that sticky word, “whole.” On a good day, I wobble down my seventy or eighty years at 90% towards reaching my goal, but something is just not there. I can’t get past that 10% to be “whole.” After trying as a Lay Cistercian with all the obstructions in my way, I still seek the truth but live a life that I fear will never reach 100%. My lessons learned from this ongoing process of conversio morae (moving from the false self to my true self in Christ Jesus) are that:

  • I will continue to struggle in this world (citizen of the world because I was born human) with my new life in the kingdom of heaven (citizen of heaven because of Baptism).
  • I am used to winning the races I create for myself (no surprise there).
  • I can’t win the race of being fully human without help, help from outside of my nature.
  • When I was marked with the sign of the cross at Baptism, no one told me that this sign traced on my forehead by the priest was actually to foretell that I had to take up my real cross daily, as did Christ.
  • There is a cost for redemption paid by Christ in his passion, death, and resurrection.
  • There is a cost for me believing that the cross traced on my forehead in an indelible mark is my destiny in this life until I reach the next life with Christ.
  • This cost is enduring the martyrdom of the ordinary as I must constantly choose Christ and keep my center in equilibrium from the forces of corruption and false choices each day.
  • Seeking God each day in whatever comes my way, sanctifying the moment, and moving on, is my lot in life. It is not a bad lot because I keep reminding myself that I must die to myself each day where I am and as I am in order to keep resonance between the World and the Spirit at my core center.

WHAT DOES ABANDONMENT MEAN?

Within the parameters of The Christ Principle, there are many examples Christ teaches his followers about the need to abandon themselves to find themselves. Here are a few that came to me in my Lectio Divina meditations.

The example of kenosis (emptying). These examples are to help his disciples (Apostles down to you, the individual) begin to feel what abandonment is and why what makes no sense at all to the World is actually the true way to the life He wants us to lead. Philippians 2:5-12 sets forth the whole dynamic of God-loving humans (each one of us) so much that he would leave the security of the Godhead to take on the nature of a slave. Not just a servant, but one under sentence of death through the archetypal choice of Adam and Eve. Reflecting intensely on this kenosis or abandonment of being God in favor of being a slave is all the more important as I apply this concept to my own life. Going deep into contemplative depths of the heart with the Holy Spirit, I try to feel what that is like to leave all for an imperfect, prone to betrayal, capable of heroic nobility, and sinful human like myself. I don’t get it, but that is why I believe in God. I want to have that kind of abandonment in me, not just one time, but as a habit to keep me balanced and focused on The Christ Principle.

The dynamic in our martyrdom of ordinary living is that we like quick fixes and instant results. With all due respect to B.F. Skinner, human nature has never adjusted to the switch from animality (rules of nature are the norm) to rationality (there are no norms except what you choose). That is why good people do bad things. I have that itch within me right now. It is how I choose to master it that makes The Christ Principle so important to reaching the fulfillment of my nature. The Christ Principle not only shows me the way to make sense out of all the chaos of false choices but gives me the energy to move to the next level of evolution, acceptance of our adoption as sons and daughters of the Father. It is not as though we had no precedence over what is good or evil. The whole of the history of Israel is a testament to going it alone without God and paying huge costs (loss of the ten tribes of Israel). The Church from the time of Christ to the present is the New Israel in that we make the same mistakes through twenty centuries of trying and ruining how we govern. Nothing has changed. The Mosaic Law and the Gospel Law of loving others as Christ loved us is holy, but every human (except Jesus and his Mother) who practices it is sinful and in constant need of conversion of the false self to new life. The confusion is over what the truth is. We get the truth from our parents primarily, then from society, our particular conscience, from the influence of Churches, and from our unique emotional make-up. Our Father in heaven also wants us to have a pathway to fulfilling our human destiny. The problem is that the spiritual universe demands that one dies to oneself to become a member. Christ abandoned himself to the will of his Father to show us how to do that in our own life. Abandonment of false self is needed to open up the heart to receive the energy from God (love).

SAINT CHARLES DE FOUCAULD

Here is an article I offer in its entirety from Joseph House.

https://www.charlesdefoucauld.org/en/priere.php

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