Introduction

Question Answer
What is religion? Religion is the search for the best answers to the fundamental questions of life.

In the ballrooms of our rationality, question and answer pairs are dancing to the music of truth or falsehood. The answers that are based on truth have a solid foundation. The answers that are based on falsehood are weak. Shatter the falsehood with the truth, and the dance stops.

Patient Zero

Where do we begin? How is a Christian made? The process begins with a question. Formulate the right questions in order to launch the process of transforming godless people into people of God.

King of the Hill

How does an answer become "king of the hill"?

The superiority of an answer depends on the strength of the base on which it rests. The answer and its base go hand-in-hand. Therefore, base your answers on fact not fiction. To decide which answer best answers a question, look to its base. Make sure your answer rests on a solid foundation. As king of the hill, an answer will be beset by challengers. Competition for king of the hill, however, is good not bad. Out of competition, the true "king of the hill" emerges.

The Myth of the Full-Fledged Christian

Unlike coffee, there is no such thing as an instant Christian. It takes time to make a Christian. We do not become Christian overnight. A human being develops from a baby in the womb through other stages of life including infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood and old age. A similar framework of development takes place in the thinking of a Christian. A Christian whose thinking is not quite up to speed with the thinking of the self-styled orthodox Christian is still a Christian for the same reason that a baby in the womb is still a human being.

Question Answer
What is the crux of Christianity? What transformation is Christianity trying to accomplish? Christianity is God's attempt to fill our hearts to the brim with love.

36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Christianity is trying to transform the most hideous and miserable of loveless beasts into our almighty lover, God. It is trying to transform godless people into people of God. The God who fashioned us out of the mud with his hands put himself into the hands of the mud to leaven the mud. The love of God for us is the leaven. Love begets love. To save the mud, the King of the Universe became mud. And the mud was not merely ungrateful. The mud was downright hostile. Yet, despite the ingratitude and hostility, the yeast of divinity came to leaven the mud of humanity. He became mud so the mud could become God.

A morality that bypasses the heart fails. The engine of behavior is the heart . The path to making moral creatures passes through the heart. When we castrate the organ of love, the heart, from the body of morality and try to replace it with a prosthesis, we fail. A detailed codex of byzantine rules, regulations, red tape and rigmarole is a poor substitute for a loving heart. The greater the love that we hold in our hearts, the greater is our resemblance to God . God is not interested in making mechanical robots without a heart that behave homogenously according to their programming. God is only interested in making human beings with hearts filled to the brim with love. Love, not behaving according a detailed codex of byzantine rules, regulations, red tape and rigmarole, deifies us.

Question Answer
What is the good news of great joy? We cannot rescue ourselves from our dire predicament in the Valley of Tears. We need help. However, our God did not abandon us in our dire predicament in the Valley of Tears. Our God is actively engaged in the process of rescuing us from our dire predicament in the Valley of Tears. Note, that the serpent is not. In fact, the serpent's big, fat lie deposited us in our dire predicament in the Valley of Tears. He testified "You shall become gods without God in the Valley of Tears" . Has his testimony proven true to you? God, on the other hand, testified that "Without God in the Valley of Tears, you shall die" . Based on the evidence, has the jury reached a verdict?
Question Answer
Who is God? God composed a love note for us in heaven, delivered the love note to us at Bethlehem and verified the genuineness of the love note for us in the events of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. Our God is head over heels in love with us. Our God is our almighty lover. Whom shall we fear? Of whom shall we be afraid? Will our almighty lover ever let us down? Will he ever disappoint? His love for us is real. Reality is reliable. We can depend on the reality of his love for us. His love for us is the rock on which the wise build their lives. Build your lives on his love for us.
Question Answer
What is Christianity? Christianity is a treasure map for treasure hunters engaged in a treasure hunt. On the treasure map, 'X' marks the spot of the treasure . The 'X' that marks the spot of the treasure is the Cross of Christ . At the Cross of Christ, the treasure of Christianity is buried. What is the treasure of Christianity? The treasure of Christianity is the answer to the question, 'Who is God?'. Jesus himself answered the question in the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. We tortured and killed Jesus. He suffered and died. Yet, he did not stay dead and did not stop loving us. He emerged from the dead still alive and still in love with us. That he emerged from the dead still alive is the proof of the power of Jesus. Nobody emerges alive from the dead. He did. That he emerged from the dead still in love with us is the proof that our conception of divinity as power is incomplete. Divinity is also love. Power begets respect. But love begets love. The irrefutable proof that his love for us is genuine is that his love for us survived the evil baptism into which we immersed him . Therefore, let us dig up the treasure of Christianity together. The Cross of Christ enriches our understanding of God. Let us make ourselves rich
Question Answer
Why did God pay us a visit? The economy of paradise is based on the currency of love. With ordinary currency, the more we spend, the poorer we get. It is a paradox, but with the currency of love, the more we spend, the richer we get. God paid us a visit at and about the city of Jerusalem in a region of our planet known as the Middle East more than two thousand years ago to introduce us to the currency of love and to establish the economy of paradise for us here on the earth. On the Cross of Christ, Jesus spent a fortune to verify that the love note sent from God to us was authentic. He paid the price out of his own pocket. He did not pay the price from his unlimited divine resources. He paid the price from his limited human resources. He paid them all for us. He kept not a penny for himself. He has never paid more for anything else . The price he paid matters . It is the proof of how dear we are to him. His willingness to pay an exorbitant price to publish the truth of his love for us is the verification of its authenticity. The serpent did not pay a price for us. Jesus did and the price he paid was exorbitant.
Question Answer
What is the best way to pass through the Valley of Tears from slavery under the yoke of Pharaoh to freedom with God and his Holy Family in the promised land? How ought we to handle the crosses whose sharp teeth chew us up into bits and pieces as we pass through the Valley of Tears? Jesus hung from his Cross to teach us how to hang from our crosses. When you hang as Jesus hung, cling as Jesus clung, love as Jesus loved. Hold tight and refuse to let go of love, sufferings invincible foe. The Son of God demonstrated for us that the technology of applying love to suffering works by using it himself. He donned the jet pack and flew to show us that we, too, can fly. What a crazy daredevil this Jesus was.
Question Answer
How is God's conception of rescue different than our conception of rescue? Why isn't rescue immediate? Why does God let us stew in the Valley of Tears like pickles in a barrel of brine? Our conception of rescue is different than God's conception of rescue . We want God to eliminate our crosses. God, however, refuses to eliminate them. He refuses not because he is a sadistic bastard. He refuses because he wants to teach us to love. God refuses to transform the valley of tears into a kinder, gentler and more hospitable place for godless people to live. God wants to transform godless people into people of God. Eliminating our crosses does not transform godless people into people of God. To effect the transformation, our crosses need to be picked up and carried . So Jesus transported from heaven to earth the technology that enables us to pick up and carry our crosses. Furthermore, the Son of God demonstrated for us that the technology works by using it himself. He donned the jet pack and flew to show us that we, too, can fly. What a crazy daredevil this Jesus was. Jesus hung from his Cross to teach us how to hang from our crosses. When you hang as Jesus hung, cling as Jesus clung, love as Jesus loved. Hold tight and refuse to let go of love, sufferings invincible foe. To survive in the Valley of Tears, we learn that the secret to picking up and carrying our crosses is to cling to love, to hold tight and to refuse to let go. We learn to deny ourselves and to not let our crosses transmogrify us into the most miserable and hideous of loveless beasts. We learn to maintain our resemblance to God. The more we love, the greater is our resemblance to God . Love deifies us. The best way to cope with our crosses is to love our way through the Valley of Tears.
Question Answer
Are you privy to the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection? Have you read the Autobiography of God? 'Who is God?'. Jesus himself answered the question in the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. In the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection that took place at and about the Cross of Christ, the treasure of Christianity is buried. Let us dig it up together. The Cross of Christ enriches our understanding of God. Let us make ourselves rich . In the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, the Autobiography of God was written. In the Autobiography of God, the answer to the question, 'Who is God?' was given to us. How did God reveal his identity to us? God revealed his identity to us in his response to the evil we did to him. His reponse to the evil we did to him informs us about the nature of God . Behold his bloody wounds. His bloody wounds are question marks. They turn the Crucifixion into our question to Jesus and the Resurrecton into his answer to us. They mark a mystery. 'How will our God respond to the evil we did to him?' At the time that our evil opened bloody wounds in his body, the response that they would trigger from him was a mystery to us. The reasonable expectation was that the evil we did to him would trigger his reflex for revenge, retaliation and retribution. "An eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot" . Thankfully, he did not respond in kind . He changed the tone of the conversation . Behold the Resurrection on the far side of the Cross of Christ. His love for us did not fade as we tortured him and did not die when we killed him. It survived. He did not stay dead and he did not stop loving us. He emerged from the dead still alive and still in love with us. His love for us is mysteriously intransigent, inexplicably persistent and radically stubborn . The bonfire of love that burns for us in his most sacred heart is unquenchable. Not even the evil we did to him can extinguish the flame or reduce it by even the slightest degree. His most sacred heart stayed filled to the brim with love for us. Because his most sacred heart stayed filled to the brim with love for us, Jesus was able to say "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." The dial that controls his love for us is in his hands not ours. Moreover, it is set to the highest degree and is locked in place.

What is dancing in your head? What couples have you excluded from the ballroom of your rationality? What couples do you include? You are what you think.

The path to Christianity starts at the feet, moves to the heart and finishes at the head. First Christians have close encounters with our almighty lover at the Holy Places that define the escape route through the Valley of Tears from slavery under the yoke of Pharoah to freedom with God and his Holy Family in the promised land. We do not transform ourselves. The Church does not transform us. Only God transforms us and he does so at the holy places. Next our hearts fill to the brim with love. The most miserable and hideous of loveless beast is transformed into God. The greater the love in our hearts, the greater is our resemblance to God . When we keep love in our hearts, God recognizes himself in us . "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" . Last the codex of rules, regulations, red tape and rigmarole fill our heads. If you do not reach the last step by the time your reach the end of your journey, don't fret. The first two steps are enough. You have succeeded in life if you complete the first two steps.

Christianity is not reading about a safari. Christianity is going on safari. Christians do. They put theory into practice.

 
 

The Gift of Paradise

God plans to deliver the gift of paradise to us just as God delivered the gift of paradise to Adam and Eve. God will not be less generous with us than God was with them. Adam and Eve were the first beneficiaries of God’s love for us. They were not the last. God’s philanthropy did not end with Adam and Eve; God’s philanthropy began with them. This is good news of great joy - very good news for us indeed .

God is the giver of gifts. God is not a vendor. Paradise is not the consideration of a commercial transaction between us and our God - a quid pro quo. Paradise is not for sale. Paradise is a gift . God is extraordinary because God is the giver of gifts.

The gift of paradise is already in the pipeline. It is on its way. Delivery of the gift is ineluctable. We live in a world in which our God is head over heels in love with us. The dial that controls God's love for us is in his hands not ours. There is nothing we can do to destroy it. Moreover, it is set to the highest degree and is locked in place. God's love for us is immutable. His love for us is mysteriously intransigent, inexplicably persistent and radically stubborn . It is set in stone. It is the rock upon which the wise build their house.

The process of gifting has two sides: 1) the gift giving side and 2) the gift receiving side. The gift giving side of the process functions impeccably. The gift receiving side is fouled up. Will we accept the gift of paradise when God delivers it to us and, having accepted it, will we keep it? Moreover, God wants to deliver the gift of paradise to us now, not later - today not tomorrow . "What a paradise it is for a soul when the heart knows itself to be so loved by God." (St. Faustina - Notebook VI, 1756). The Kingdom of God is at hand . Grab it !

The beatific vision is a theory. Moreover, evidence exists that contradicts it.

The verdict that emerges from the evidence is that God gives us the freedom to stay in paradise or to leave paradise as we decide. God gives us the freedom to be schmucks . What is the evidence? After God delivered the gift of life and the gift of paradise to Lucifer simultaneously, Lucifer fumbled the ball. He let the gift of paradise slip through his fingers. So did the gaggle of angels who follow Lucifer. So did Eve. So did Adam. And so did the prodigal son .

God did not build a wall around paradise and top it with barbed wire. He did not surround it with a moat. He did not raise the gate, lock it and throw away the key. We are not incarcerated. Paradise is not a prison; God is not our warden; We are not God's prisoners. A cage is still a cage no matter how gilded. God respects the sovereignty of our wills too much to take such uber-paternalistic steps to lock us up against our wills in a gilded cage.

The problem that confronted God was that when he gave the gift of life and the gift of paradise to his creatures simultaneously, they let the gift of paradise slip through their fingers. They fumbled the ball. This was the problem in need of a solution. The problem God needed to solve was not the giving of the gift of paradise. The problem was the keeping of the gift of paradise. To solve the problem, God gave us the gift of rationality. Applying the truth to our rationality solves the problem.

 
 

Has the Jury Reached a Verdict?

"You belong to your father the devil and you willingly carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks in character, because he is a liar and the father of lies."

"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."

Original Sin - Letting the Gift of Paradise Slip Through our Fingers
God serpent
The Question that Started the serpent's Foul Plot How do we induce Adam and Eve to run away from their happiness in paradise at home with God and his Holy Family into misery without God in the Valley of Tears?
The serpent's Answer The fuel of our rationality is the truth. When fueled by the truth, our rationality steers us in the right direction. When the fuel of truth is fouled by illusion, our rationality leads us astray. The serpent fouled the fuel of truth with illusion. He presented Adam and Eve with false testimony.
The serpent's False Testimony a/k/a the Big, Fat Lie You shall become gods without God in the Valley of Tears .
God's Testimony a/k/a the Truth Without God in the Valley of Tears, you shall die .
God's Question How do we defang the serpent? How do we drain from the serpent's lie its power to deceive? Moreover, how do we increase the likelihood that the children of Adam and Eve will keep the gift of paradise when it is delivered to them? How do we prevent them from fumbling the ball without having to turn paradise into a prison, God into our warden, and us into prisoners?
God's Answer God lets us stew in the Valley of Tears like pickles in a barrel of brine. In the brine, we are cured. God lets us stick our fingers in the flame to learn that the fire is hot. In the Valley of Tears, the pedagogy is cruel - brutally cruel. The medicine is harsh but effective. We learn the sour truth the hard way by experiencing it ourselves instead of learning it the easy way by taking God at his word. Moreover, what is the likelihood that, having experienced the sourness of godlessness for ourselves, we will let the gift of paradise slip through our fingers? What is the likelihood that the prodigal son will ever return to the pigsty? Having put our fingers into the flame, what is the likelihood that we will do it again? When the gift of paradise is delivered to us, we will keep it. We will not fumble the ball as Lucifer did, as the gaggle of angels who follow Lucifer did, as Eve did, as Adam did and as the prodigal son did.

The Identity of God
God serpent
Allegations Your God is almighty and head over heels in love with you. Your God is neither almighty nor in love with you.
Evidence We tortured and killed him. He suffered and died. Yet, he did not stay dead and he did not stop loving us. He emerged from the dead still alive and still in love with us. That he emerged from the dead still alive is the proof that Jesus is almighty. Nobody emerges alive from the dead. He did. That he emerged from the dead still in love with us in the proof that our conception of God as power is incomplete. God is also love. God is the indissoluble marriage of power and love for us - absolute and perfect. In the Valley of Tears, the sharp teeth of our crosses chew us up into bits and pieces. As we are being chewed, the serpent taunts us with the gibe, "Where is your savior, now?". The gibe makes sense. Our dire predicament in the Valley of Tears causes us to doubt both God's power and his love for us. Our almighty lover is letting us down. He disappoints. Our crosses generate powerful anti-God propaganda.

The evidence conflicts. Can the evidence that God presents be reconciled with the evidence the serpent presents? Why does our almighty lover delay in rescuing us from our dire predicament in the Valley of Tears? Why did God insert a delay between the gift of life and the gift of paradise?

 
 

God Rescues Us from our Dire Predicament in the Valley of Tears by Applying the Truth to Our Rationality

It is fact versus fiction. God presents the facts. The serpent presents the fictions. We are the jury who must distinguish fact versus fiction.

The battleground on which God and the serpent are fighting is the battleground of our rationality. The weapon God uses is the truth. The weapon the serpent uses is falsehood.

God is the artist who paints on the canvas of our rationality with the pigments of truth.

We climb out of our dire predicament in the Valley of Tears on the ladder of truth.

The truth is the fuel of our rationality. When fueled by the the truth, our rationality steers us in the right direction. When the fuel of truth is fouled by illusion, our rationality leads us astray.

"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free"

The serpent obfuscates the bright sun set in the blue sky with dark clouds of lies and doubts. The dark clouds stand between us and reality. They are the means by which the serpent divorces us from reality. The truth is the solvent that dissolves the dark clouds.

The sledgehammer of truth shatters the illusions conjured up by the serpent as the blow of the hammer shatters glass.

God teaches us the truth in two different classrooms: 1) the Valley of Tears and 2) the Cross of Christ. In the Valley of Tears, we learn the sour truth. From the Cross of Christ, we learn the sweet truth.

God gave us the gift of rationality. We are rational creatures. Rational creatures behave in a predictable manner. We follow a pattern. Sweetness attracts us. Honey draws the bees back home to the hive. Sourness repels us. It is contrary to our self-interest to do otherwise. It is crazy to do otherwise. Hence, the truth can drive us. The truth can push us and pull us.

The truth is the engine that drives the new exodus along the escape route through the Valley of Tears from slavery under the yoke of Pharaoh to freedom with God and his Holy Family in the promised land. The truth generates the current of salvation. The current of salvations flows from the sourness of godlessness to the sweetness of paradise. It sweeps us off our feet and carries us to our salvation. Only the recalcitrant few swim against the current.

The truth prompts us to pick up the roots we had sunk into the toxic soil of the Valley of Tears. The truth transforms us into pilgrims passing through the Valley of Tears instead of settlers roosting in it.

The Treasure Chest of God holds the Truth and God Shares His Treasure with Us - the Truth that Paradise is Sweet and that Godlessness is Sour

Testimonial conflict stalks us. The conundrum of conflicting testimony followed us from our happiness with God and his Holy Family in paradise to our sadness without God in the Valley of Tears under the shadow of death , the worst and the last of our crosses .

To help us resolve the conflict in the testimony rightly, God feeds our rationality from the treasure chest of truth.

While we were still in paradise, the serpent testified that we become gods without God in the Valley of Tears . God testified that without God in the Valley of Tears, we perish . The serpent testified falsely .

In the case of this first testimonial conflict, God feeds us the sour truth. God lets us stew in the Valley of Tears like pickles marinating in a barrel of brine to persuade us that we do not become gods without God in the Valley of Tears. God lets us put our fingers in the flame to learn that the fire is hot. The harsh pedagogy of the Valley of Tears persuades us that the serpent was a liar and that God told us the truth.

The testimonial conflict did not end in paradise. It followed us into the Valley of Tears. In the Valley of Tears, the conflicting testimony continues.

God broadcasts a signal in the Valley of Tears that carries the message that God loves us. The serpent broadcasts a signal that carries a contradictory message that jams and interferes with God's signal. The towers from which the serpent braodcasts his signal are the crosses that besiege us as we pass through the Valley of Tears. It is difficult to conceive that our God is almighty and loves us as we are being chewed into bits and pieces by the sharp teeth of our crosses.

Again, to help us rightly resolve this testimonial conflict, God feeds our rationality the truth. This time the truth from the treasure chest is sweet.

To boost the signal from God, God sent an amplifier from heaven to earth. The amplifier is the Cross of Christ. When amplified by the Cross of Christ, God's signal pierces the din of our crosses. It reaches our ears and we hear the message that our almighty God loves us. The knowledge of God's love for us enters our heads and fills our hearts.

Again, we are faced with the challenge of resolving a conflict in the testimony. Which is the lie? Which is the truth? Whom do we believe? Do we believe the testimony of the crosses that besiege us? Or do we believe the testimony of the Cross of Christ? God supplies the irrefutable truth to us to settle the conflict in the testimony. In this case, the irrefutable truth is the Cross of Christ

"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" . He is the truth . "No man cometh unto the Father, but by me." .

 
 

The Garden of Eden

The story of Adam and Eve is viewed by many as a child’s fairy tale with little or no relevance to us today. Its lesson is judged too simple and, hence, too well-understood, to deserve any further serious contemplation. It is taken for granted. Few sermons are preached about it. Yet, the story of Adam and Eve is the sine qua non to an understanding of our dire predicament in the Valley of Tears and God's plan for our salvation.

In the garden of Eden, we lived with God and his Holy Family among the flowers of happiness.

 
 

The Fall

Adam and Eve were naive. God made them innocent. In their culture, only the truth was spoken. They knew nothing else but the truth. They had not developed a defense mechanism that would have enabled them to distinguish the truth from illusion - fact from fiction. Before the serpent, they had no need. Without a need, skepticism did not evolve. So the serpent exploited their weakness. The serpent fed their rationality with a big, fat lie. The big fat lie induced them to exit the Garden of Eden for the Valley of Tears. What was the big, fat lie? The serpent testified that we would become gods without God in the Valley of Tears . The serpent baited the trap with the golden ring of godhood. They took the bait hook, line and sinker. Voila! We found ourselves in a dire predicament in the Valley of Tears.

 
 

The Valley of Tears

Why isn't Salvation Immediate? Why the Delay?

Salvation is not immediate. God inserted a delay between the gift of life and the gift of paradise. Why?

The Bait for the Trap

The Valley of Tears is a trap . The serpent baited the trap with a big fat seductive lie. The serpent testified that we would become gods without God in the Valley of Tears . However, we do not become gods without God in the valley of tears . The serpent testified falsely . God told us the truth . We took the bait hook, line and sinker. Like foolish children, Adam and Eve ran away from their home with God in paradise and took us, their children, with them into the Valley of Tears . In the Valley of Tears , we reach out and vainly try to grab the golden ring of godhood , cutting each others throats in the process to attain that which is unattainable by dint our own efforts.

The Valley of Tears is the Garden of Eden Turned Inside Out

The serpent turned the garden of Eden inside out. The Valley of Tears is the creation of the serpent not God. In Eden, God planted a garden filled with the flowers of happiness. In the Valley of Tears, the serpent planted an "anti-garden" filled with the weeds of misery. The Valley of Tears is as foul as Eden was fair - as hostile as Eden was hospitable - as evil as God is good.

Pickles Stewing in a Barrel of Brine

God lets us stew in the Valley of Tears like pickles in a barrel of brine. The Valley of Tears is the vessel that holds the toxic brine in which we are cured. In the Valley of Tears, we go through the process of fermentation. In the Valley of Tears, the cucumber is transformed into a pickle.

Our Dire Predicament in The Valley of Tears

In the Valley of Tears, our situation is perilous; our predicament, dire. We are in trouble. We need help.

The Serpent's Gibe

During the delay between the gift of life and the gift of paradise, the serpent taunts us with the gibe, "Where is your savior, now?". When the sharp teeth of our crosses are chewing us up into bits and pieces, it is a good question. It causes us to doubt both the power and the love of God. Do we benefit from the chewing? No. The benefit comes when we try to pick up and carry our crosses.

The Serpent Fills the Valley of Tears with Anti-God Propaganda

In the Valley of Tears, the serpent's many and merciless crosses chew us up into bits and pieces. To make matters worse, the serpent shrouded the Valley of Tears under the gloom of the shadow of death , the worst and the last of our crosses . The harm that the serpent's crosses inflict upon us in the Valley of Tears, however, is not limited to bodily harm. Far worse is the harm that the serpent's crosses do to our souls . While we are nailed to the serpent's crosses, they incessantly broadcast anti-God propaganda to us. The anti-God propaganda mocks both God's power and God's love for us. 'Where is your savior now?', our crosses taunt us. Trapped in the misery of the chewing, we wonder the same thing. The anti-God propaganda erases the memory of our happines with God and his Holy Family in paradise. In our misery and the resultant din of our sighs, mourning and weeping , the message that God loves us is drowned out. In exasperation, we cry out, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" .

The Pedagogy of the Valley of Tears is Cruel - Brutally Cruel

The Valley of Tears is a classroom in which the pedagogy is cruel - brutally cruel. The rod is not spared but is liberally applied to the children of Adam and Eve . Passing through the Valley of Tears is not for sissies . In the Valley of Tears, like grist, we go through the mill - like meat, we go through the grinder - like wet laundry, we go through the ringer . In the Valley of Tears, God lets us put our fingers in the flames to teach us that the fire is hot. Indeed, the lesson is cruel. Without question, the fire is hot. Look at the third-degree burns on our hands.

Standstill

In the toxic quagmire of the Valley of Tears, our crosses crush us under their oppressive weight. Our feet sink and get stuck. We put down roots in godlessness. Our progress to paradise is stopped dead in its tracks.

Escape through the Valley of Tears

The Valley of Tears is hostile territory. Our predicament in the Valley of Tears is dire. Our paranoia is real not pathological. Our enemies lurk in every nook and cranny of the Valley of Tears waiting to nail us to a cross including the most terrible of crosses, death [Praised be You, my Lord through Sister Death, from whom no-one living can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin! Blessed are they She finds doing Your Will.  ]. The wise have picked up the roots they had sunk into the toxic soil of the Valley of Tears. They have become pilgrims passing through it instead of settlers roosting in it. As they move forward, they look forward not back . They are trying to make their escape through the Valley of Tears from slavery under the yoke of Pharaoh to freedom with God and his holy family in the promised land. Who has the map and knows the way?

Our Crosses Truncate Our Perception of Reality

The many and merciless crosses that besiege us as we pass through the Valley of Tears reduce our world in size, shape, color and quality. They contract all aspects of our lives. They hem us in. They are the source of our claustrophobia . They form the walls of the coffins in which we are buried alive in the grave . They shorten the scope of our field of vision. They form a false horizon beyond which we cannot see into the beautiful world in which we joyously frolic with God and his holy family in paradise . Our crosses are the nightmare from which we do not awake. They are the toxic womb from which we have not yet been born again . They trap us in a sealed can whose contents have turned rancid. While we stew in the sourness of the Valley of Tears like pickles in a barrel of brine, it is impossible to imagine that anything is sweet.

Heaven's Customer Service Department

Letting us stew in the inconvenient truth of the Valley of Tears like pickles in a barrel of brine generates all of the complaints about God's rescue plan. The harshness of the Valley of Tears keeps the customer service department of paradise busy. More than a few have cursed their bitter experience in the Valley of Tears in the foulest of language and waved their fists against God. It is the basis that drives many to the incorrect conclusion that God is a malicious misanthrope instead of a benevolent philanthropist. Put the blame for our dire predicament in the Valley of Tears, however, on the proper culprit. God did not put us in the Valley of Tears. The serpent did. God started humanity in paradise. At the most, God can be blamed for not extricating us from the Valley of Tears as quickly as we would like. God's rescue of us is too slow. 'What took you so long?' 'Why did you procrastinate?' are our only legitimate complaints against God. Yet, even this complaint is unwarranted. The medicine is harsh but effective. Therefore, God prescribes it. The medicine innoculates us against the machinations of the serpent.

The first illusion that the serpent conjured up was done by his testimony that we become gods without God in the Valley of Tears . To shatter this illusion, God lets us put our fingers in the flame to learn that the fire is hot. He lets us stew on our own without God in the Valley of Tears like pickles in a barrel of brine. For a lifetime, we marinate in godlessness. In this way, we learn for ourseves that we do not become gods without God in the Valley of Tears. The medicine is harsh but effective. We are persuaded. Some of us even open the door of our lives so God might enter and pass with us on our pilgrimage through the Valley of tears .

The second illusion that the serpent conjured up was a byproduct of the first. The serpent erected crosses that besiege us as we pass through the Valley of Tears. They are powerful communication towers that broadcast the serpent's propaganda that God does not love us. To shatter this illusion, God gave us the Cross of Christ. Jesus let our evil impale him on the Cross of Christ like a fisherman impales a worm on a hook to publish both the magnitude and the intransigence of God's love for us.

 
 

Morality

The foundation of morality is love.

A heart filled to the brim with love is the source and wellspring of good behavior .

A morality that works addresses the organ of love, the heart. The engine of behavior is the heart . Morality that bypasses the heart fails. The goal of morality is not to program mechanical robots to behave uniformily in accordance with a detailed codex of byzantine rules, regulations, red tape and rigmarole. The goal of morality is to make creatures who love. Fill their hearts with love to transform beasts into God. The greater the love that they hold in their hearts, the greater is their resemblance to God. Treat the disease not the symptoms - the cause not the effect.

Do not castrate the organ of love, the heart, from the body of morality with the sharp knife of meanness.

Fill our hearts with love rather than trying to stuff our heads with a thick codex of byzantine rules, regulations, red tape and rigmarole. Morality does not produce a heart filled with love. A heart filled with love produces morality. Let us stop confusing cause and effect. Morality is the effect. A heart filled with love is the cause. The route to morality is through the heart not through the head. Morality is the crown of glory that a Christian wears whose heart is filled to the brim with love !

The gospel of rationality teaches that it is in our self-interest to love.

The Greatest Failure of Christianity

The greatest failure of Christianity happens whenever the kings usurp the prophets. The prophets are Christianity's best "players". Yet, Christianity benches its best players and puts the scrubs on the field to play the "game". The usurpers suffer from a pathological delusion. They think that God crowned them as kings to rule us. God, however, did no such thing. Indeed, God gave them a job. Indeed, their job is important. However, the job God gave them was not as kings but as prophets. The pathological delusion of kingship is preventing them from doing their job as prophet. It is getting in the way. A king thinks the goal of "the game" is to conquer our heads. A prophet thinks goal of "the game" is to conquer our hearts. A king fills our heads with a complex network of rules, regulations, red tape and rigmarole. A prophet fills our hearts with love. A king tries to rule us. A prophet reveals the truth to us. The two jobs are as different as night and day. A soothsayer is not a king; a king, not a soothsayer. The prophet is loved; the king, hated. God did not put the royal scepter of sin into their hands to whack our souls again and again until they are black, blue, battered, bruised and bleeding. God put the sledgehammer of truth into their hands to shatter the illusions conjured up by the serpent that hide the truth from us. Their job is to shatter the illusions with the sledgehammer of truth as the blow of a hammer shatters glass. Revelation not regulation is their prime mission. A king tells us how to behave. A prophet tells us about God. A prophet tells us about the Love Note that God wrote for us in heaven, sent to us at Bethlehem and whose genuineness God verified for us in the events of the Crucifixion and Resurrection. The process of verification was completed when his love for us survived the evil we did to him. There is a sequence of steps in the building of a house. There is a sequence of steps in the building of a Christian. Everything is not built in a mad jumble all at once. God is the foundation of Christianity. Morality is its roof. The roof cannot be built without first building the foundation. Get the foundation right and everything else falls into place. Get the foundation wrong, and everything else falls apart. Moreover, the roof of morality is not built by filling our heads with a complex network of rules, regulations, red tape and rigmarole. The roof of morality is built by filling our hearts with love. It is important to get the methodology of construction right. More prophet; less king. More revelation; less regulation. More foundation; less roof. More God; less Church. More truth; less illusion. If you want to win, bench the kings and put the prophets back onto the field and into the "game". If you want to lose, maintain the status quo. It is time for a revolution in Christianity. It is time to depose the kings and restore the prophets.

 
 

Introduction

The lens through which we look at reality can enhance or distort. It influences what we think about reality for ill or for good. What do we see when we look at reality through a lens other than sin? What do we see when we look at reality without any lens to filter the view? What do we see when we look at reality with the naked eye?

Reality is not thin. It is thick. It is thick because it does not consist of a single layer. Multiple layers give reality its thickness. They form a stack. Furthermore, different stories unfold on the different layers of reality. Each layer of reality is a substrate for a story.

Jesus exists on multiple layers of reality - the natural and the supernatural.

It is a mistake to confine Jesus to just the supernatural layer of reality on which the story of supernatural events takes place involving sin, grace, soul, heaven and hell. Jesus is also consequential on the natural layer of reality. Don't underestimate the role he plays on the natural layer of reality and the impact he has there.

What Christianity is Trying to Do

Christianity is God's attempt to turn godless people into people of God. God is trying to make the children of Adam and Eve in his own image and likeness . He is trying to make creatures who love. God endowed us with the capacity of love. Our mission in life is to fill our capacity to love to the brim.

A Lobbyist for the Cross of Christ

Full Disclosure. I am a lobbyist for the Cross of Christ. God gave me my job. He is my boss. I take my orders directly from him . God is a good boss. As long as I speak the truth, I may speak the truth in my own words without fear of censorship or of losing my job. I am under no constraints to toe the party line, to parrot the party's propaganda or, like a good ol' boy, to cover up the party's errors. I am free to look at reality through the lens of suffering in lieu of the lens of sin. My goal is to recruit you to join our team. I want you to become a Simon who helps Jesus to carry his Cross . I want you to become a servant of the Cross of Christ. I want you to deepen and broaden your understanding of Christianity. I want you to do more than pledge allegiance to a flag that you do not fully understand. What is Christianity all about? What is your conception of the Big Picture of Christianity? Here is mine. Christianity is a treasure map for treasure hunters engaged in a treasure hunt. On the treasure map of Christianity, 'X' marks the spot of the treasure . The 'X' that marks the spot of the treasure is the Cross of Christ . At the Cross of Christ, the treasure of Christianity is buried. What is the treasure of Christianity? The treasure of Christianity is the answer to the question, 'Who is God?'. Jesus himself answered the question in the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. Therefore, let us dig up the treasure of Christianity together. The Cross of Christ enriches our understanding of God. Let us make ourselves rich

 
 

The Big Picture

Who has the map and knows the way through the Valley of Tears from slavery under the yoke of Pharaoh to freedom with God and His Holy Family in the Promised Land?

Why is it Wise to Take an Interest in Religion? Why is it Perilous to Ignore Religion?

Why ought we take an interest in religion? Why is religion relevant? The subject of religion is the science of navigating through the Valley of Tears from slavery under the yoke of Pharaoh to freedom with God and his Holy Family in the promised land. Religion is about the new exodus through the hostile desert of godlessness. Religion has the map and knows the way. The trail is already blazed. God did not abandon us in the Valley of Tears . Through the Valley of Tears , God built an escape route , defined the escape route with holy places, made a map of them, established a Church, entrusted the map to the Church and gave the Church the job of serving the new exodus as the new Moses. The Church has the map and knows the way . The job of the Church is to facilitate the escape not to frustrate it, filter it or foul it up . "No man left behind" is the motto of the escape. "Neither saint nor sinner ." The escape from godlessness to paradise is primary. Nothing else matters. Everything else is secondary. Anything that interferes is suspect . Surely a Church that has been leading expeditions through the Valley of Tears for more than two thousand years knows a thing or two about getting us there from here, right?

The Big Picture

The exodus of the Jews is a powerful allegory that the genius of God embedded into the history of humanity to inform us about our place in the Big Picture of life here on earth. The Jews made their escape through the hostile desert. So, too, Christians. We are making our escape through the Valley of Tears. The Valley of Tears is our hostile desert.

Like foolish children, Adam and Eve ran away from their home in the garden of Eden with God and his Holy Family . Happiness was forsaken for misery. Our parents took us with them into the "anti-garden" that is called the Valley of Tears . The "anti-garden" is as foul as Eden was fair - as hostile as Eden was hospitable. Without God and his Holy Family in the Valley of Tears, we vainly try to grab the golden ring of godhood , cutting each others throats to attain that which is unattainable by dint our own efforts. In the "anti-garden", the serpent, the antichrist , diabolically planted a fell forest of merciless crosses whose sharp teeth chew us up into bits and pieces. Moreover, to make matters worse, over the Valley of Tears hangs the shadow of death , the worst and the last of our crosses . There is no shortcut by which we can avoid the Valley of Tears. It is not a Maginot Line that we can go around. There is no bridge over it or tunnel under it. We must pass through it. As meat passes through a grinder, we pass through it. As grist passes through a mill, we pass through it. As wet laundry passes through a ringer, we pass through it. No exceptions.

Is there a best way to pass through the gauntlet of crosses whose sharp fangs bristle at us in the Valley of Tears? Does a sanctuary exist in which we can take refuge?

We have a choice.

We can pass through the Valley of Tears alone on our own without God's help. We can fend for ourselves. We can try to blaze our own trail. There is a slim possibility that we will stumble through our ordeal in the Valley of Tears and out the other side. Cross your fingers. We may get lucky. The worst and final cross, death, may be an insurmountable problem for us to overcome. But, as was said, we may get lucky.

Or we can rely on a solution more certain than luck.

We can pass through it with God's help , our hands in his hands like trusting children . God did not abandon us in the Valley of Tears . Through the Valley of Tears from slavery under the yoke of Pharaoh to freedom with God and his Holy Family in the promised land, God built an escape route , defined the escape route with holy places, made a map of them, established a Church, entrusted the map to the Church and gave the Church the job of serving the new exodus as the new Moses. The Church has the map and knows the way . The job of the Church is to facilitate the escape not to frustrate it, filter it or foul it up . "No man left behind" is the motto of the escape. "Neither saint nor sinner ." The escape from godlessness to paradise is primary. Nothing else matters. Everything else is secondary. Anything that interferes is suspect . At the holy places that define the escape route, God transforms us. The Church does not transform us. We do not transform ourselves. Only God transforms us. God and God alone is the agent of transformation. And transformation only takes place at the holy places that define the escape route. At the holy places, we can find happiness with God and his Holy Family here on earth. Therefore, make haste to the holy places. Make haste! "What a paradise it is for a soul when the heart knows itself to be so loved by God." (St. Faustina - Notebook VI, 1756).

Killing Christianity

God is not dead. Indeed, God is very much alive. However, the conversation about God is dead. Killing the conversation about God is tantamount to killing God. The enemies of the Church know this. The Church does not. The Church would much rather fill the conversation with sin than with God. The Church labors under the assumption that we already have an understanding of God. And, therefore, it is free to move on to other things such as morality. The assumption, however, is incorrect. The Church has jumped the gun. We do not yet have an understanding of God. God is a stranger to us and nobody follows a stranger . As a direct and proximate result of God being elbowed out of the conversation, the escape from slavery under the yoke of Pharaoh, through the valley of tears, to freedom with God and his holy family in the promised land is sputtering and stalling. Fewer and fewer are going to Mass. None are going to Confession. Marriages are falling apart. Mothers are murdering their babies. The priesthood is going extinct . The trend is downward and accelerating. The only sacrament holding its own is the sacrament of extreme unction and this is so only because the dying have little choice. The thermometer that gauges the temperature of the body of Christ is the practice of Christianity. By this measure, the patient is dying. Therefore, it is time to stop squandering the conversation. It is time to change the ratio of the content of the conversation to more foundation and less roof. More pizzazz; less nitty-gritty. More Mary; less Martha. More revelation; less regulation. More God; less Church. No change in doctrine; just a change in emphasis - a tweak, nothing more. Can we stop excluding God from the conversation? Can we devote at least 25% of the conversation to God? Is 25% too much to ask?

 
 

The Mission of Jesus

The Mission of Jesus

The God who fashioned us out of the mud with his hands put himself into the hands of the mud for the purpose of 1) revelation and 2) mitigation. God wants to rescue us from our dire predicament in the Valley of Tears. So, in the fullness of time, God the Father dispatched God the Son on a rescue mission. Here are the mission parameters:

1) Reveal to the children of Adam and Eve the magnitude and duration of God's love for them and that their lover is none other than their almighty God.

2) Show them how to mitigate the harshness of their passage through the Valley of Tears. Tranport from heaven to earth "grease" for the wheels of their passage through the Vally of Tears.

The purpose of the revelation aspect of his mission was to empty the coffins and raise the dead to life . The many and merciless crosses that besiege us as we pass through the Valley of Tears form the walls of the coffins in which we are buried alive. Our crosses place limits on our perception of reality . We cannot see beyond them. Our crosses reduce our world in size, shape, color and quality. The Cross of Christ is the sledgehammer of truth that shatters the lids of our coffins. When the lids of our coffins are shattered, the beautiful world beyond the walls of our coffins rushes in and manifests itself to us. The Cross of Christ frees us from being buried alive. It removes the limits that our crosses place on our perception of reality. It opens our perception to the beautiful world that exists just outside the walls of our crosses . In the beautiful world just outside the walls of our coffins, we joyously frolic with God and his Holy Family in paradise. The Cross of Christ is the solvent that dissolves the lies that obfuscate the truth and camouflage it from us. The revelation of the magnitude and duration of God's love for us and that our lover is our almighty God assists in our rebirth from the toxic womb of the Valley of Tears . Jesus is the midwife of our rebirth. The Cross of Christ is the shovel that digs us up from our graves . In the classroom of the Cross of Christ, we learn that our God is our almighty lover. Wow! What knowledge is better than this knowledge? Our God is our almighty lover.

The purpose of the mitigation aspect of his mission was to blunt the sharp edge of our passage through the Valley of Tears. Mitigation was needed because the crosses that besiege us in the Valley of Tears make life miserable. God wants to mitigate the harshness of our passage through the Valley of Tears. So Jesus transported from heaven to earth the technology that enables us to pick up and carry our crosses. Furthermore, the Son of God demonstrated for us that the technology works by using it himself. He donned the jet pack and flew to show us that we, too, can fly. What a crazy daredevil this Jesus was. Jesus hung from his Cross to teach us how to hang from our crosses. When you hang as Jesus hung, cling as Jesus clung, love as Jesus loved. Hold tight and refuse to let go of love, sufferings invincible foe. To survive in the valley of tears, we learn that the secret to picking up and carrying our crosses is to cling to love, to hold tight and to refuse to let go. We learn to deny ourselves and to not let our crosses transmogrify us into the most miserable and hideous of loveless beasts. We learn to maintain our resemblance to God. The more we love, the greater is our resemblance to God. Love deifies us. The sourness of godlessness forces us to learn the best way to cope with it.

Revelation and Mitigation

God the Father dispatched the Love Note from heaven to earth for the purpose of 1) revelation and 2) mitigation. The mitigation aspect of the Love Note is often overlooked.

The Love Note disclosed the identtiy of God to us. Who is God? The answer is found in the Love Note. The Love Note revealed the sweetness of paradise to us. His power made paradise for us. His love for us, however, makes paradise sweet. God made the sweetness of paradise known to us because rational creatures seek the sweetness of paradise. It is contrary to our self-interest to do otherwise. It is crazy to do otherwise. The Love Note is the agent of our salvation. The sweetness of paradise is the honey that lures the bees back home to the hive. God threw pearls before swine and what is holy to dogs even though he knew that we would trample them underfoot, turn and tear him to pieces . Because his most sacred heart was filled to the brim with love for us, Jesus was able to say "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." God knew that, eventually, the swine and the dogs would discover the treasure. And the discovery would deify them.

The Love Note also teaches us how to mitigate the sourness of our passage through the valley of tears. Jesus hung from his Cross to teach us how to hang from our crosses. When you hang as Jesus hung, cling as Jesus clung, love as Jesus loved. Hold tight and refuse to let go of love, sufferings invincible foe.

 
 

Does passing through the Valley of Tears have an upside?

God Inserted a Delay between the Gift of Life and the Gift of Paradise that the Serpent fills with Anti-God Propaganda

The policy of God was to deliver to his creatures the gift of life and the gift of paradise simultaneously. This policy was in effect with regard to Lucifer, the gaggle of angels who follow Lucifer, Eve, Adam and the Prodigal Son. However, under this policy, all of his creatures let the gift of paradise slip through their fingers. They all fumbled the ball. In religious terms, we call their butterfingers, original sin. God did not just want to give his creatures the gift of paradise; God wanted them to keep it as well. The problem was not in the giving of the gift of paradise; the problem was in the keeping. So God's policy changed with regard to the children of Adam and Eve. God discontinued the policy of simultaneous delivery and established a policy of sequential delivery. First the gift of life and then the gift of paradise. Moreover, between the gift of life and the gift of paradise, God inserted a delay. The delay between the gift of life and the gift of paradise is known as the Valley of Tears . The Valley of Tears is the pigsty of the prodigal son . It is the hostile desert of the Jews. During the delay, the children of Adam and Eve stew in the sourness of godlessness like pickles in a barrel of brine. The Valley of Tears is the vessel that holds the toxic brine in which we are cured. In the toxic brine, we ferment. The cucumbers are transformed into pickles.

In the Valley of Tears, the serpent's crosses mock both the power of God and the love of God with the taunt, "Where is your savior, now?". Salvation is not immediate. While being chewed up into bits and pieces by the sharp teeth of the serpent's crosses, the taunt has an effect. We doubt both the power and the love of God. The "failure" of our loving God to immediately rescue us from our dire predicament in the Valley of Tears jeopardizes our trust in his power and love for us.

The question in need of an answer, therefore, is why does God delay in rescuing us from our dire predicament in the Valley of Tears? Why isn't our salvation immediate?

Here are the reasons:

1) God challenges us to pick up and carry our crosses. No crosses; no challenge. The only way to pick up and carry our crosses is to fill our hearts to the brim with love. Love is the "grease" for the wheels of our passage through the Valley of Tears. Jesus demonstrated that the "grease" works by using it himself. What a crazy daredevil this Jesus was! He donned the jet pack and flew to show us that we too can fly. Jesus hung from his Cross to teach us how to hang from our crosses. When you hang as Jesus hung, cling as Jesus clung, love as Jesus loved. Hold tight and refuse to let go of love, sufferings invincible foe. He denied himself and refused to let his cross transmogrify him into the most miserable and hideous of loveless beasts. He maintained his resemblance to God. The more we love, the greater is our resemblance to God.

2) Passing through the Valley of Tears defangs the serpent. The serpent testified that we become gods without God in the valley of tears . However, we do not become gods without God in the Valley of Tears . The serpent testified falsely . By passing through the Valley of Tears, we learn that the serpent bullshitted us. By stewing, we learn that we were fooled. As we stew in the Valley of Tears, the illusion that the serpent conjured up by his testimony that sugarcoated the sourness of godlessness is shattered. Our crosses are the sledgehammer of truth that shatters the illusion as the blow of a hammer shatters glass.

3) Passing through the Valley of Tears augments the credibility of God. We learn from the experience that we can get the truth from trusting the the word of God instead of figuring out the truth for ourselves the hard way by putting our fingers into the flame.

4) Passing through the Valley of Tears increases the likelihood that we will keep the gift of paradise when the gift of paradise is given to us. The prodigal son is never going back to the pigsty. Neither are we.

Passing Through the Valley of Tears Defangs the Serpent

Passing through the Valley of Tears defangs the serpent. Our experience cuts his balls off. It drains the serpent's lie of its power to deceive. The serpent testified that we become gods without God in the valley of tears . However, we do not become gods without God in the Valley of Tears . The serpent testified falsely . By passing through the Valley of Tears, we learn that the serpent bullshitted us. By stewing, we learn that we were fooled. As we stew in the Valley of Tears, the illusion that the serpent conjured up by his testimony that sugarcoated the sourness of godlessness is shattered. Our crosses are the sledgehammer of truth that shatters the illusion as the blow of a hammer shatters glass. God endowed us with the gift of rationality. The fuel for our rationality is the truth. When fueled by the truth, our rationality steers us in the right direction. When the fuel of truth is fouled by illusion , our rationality leads us astray. Personal experience with the truth is highly persuasive. It produces certainty. It is a solvent that dissolves the doubts and lies that eclipse the truth and camouflage it from us. Personal experience with the truth shatters the illusions that distort our perception of reality . It shatters them as the blow of a hammer shatters glass. "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" .

Passing Through the Valley of Tears Augments the Credibility of God

Passing through the valley of tears augments the credibility of God. Surprise! God told us the truth . Without God in the valley of tears, we perish. The credibility of God increases as the serpent's decreases. We gain confidence in the word of God. We learn that we can rely on it. Moreover, we learn that it is easier to get our truth from the word of God than by figuring out the truth for ourselves the hard way by putting our fingers into the flames.

Passing Through the Valley of Tears Contributes its Own Energy to the Current of Salvation

Rational creatures behave in a predictable manner. They follow a pattern. Rational creatures flee the sourness of godlessness. It is contrary to their self-interest to do otherwise. It is crazy to do otherness. The sourness of godlessness is an engine of truth that pushes us to its exits. It generates the current of salvation. The current of salvation carries us back to our home with God and his holy family in paradise. Note: There is a second engine of truth whose energy also contributes to the current of salvation. It is the sweetness of paradise. It pulls us to the entrance of paradise.

Passing Through the Valley of Tears Increases the Likelihood that We will Keep the Gift of Paradise when It is Delivered to Us

God plans to deliver the gift of paradise to us just as God delivered the gift of paradise to Adam and Eve. God will not be less generous with us than God was with them. Adam and Eve were the first beneficiaries of God’s love for us. They were not the last. God’s philanthropy did not end with Adam and Eve; God’s philanthropy began with them. This is good news of great joy - very good news for us indeed.

A problem, however, sabotaged the gift-giving process. The problem limited its success. The problem was not in the giving of the gift. The problem was in the keeping of the gift. We suffer from a condition colloquially known as butterfingers. In religious jargon, the problem is called original sin. We let the gift of paradise slip through our fingers. God gave Lucifer the gift of paradise but he fumbled the ball. So did the gaggle of angels that followed Lucifer (Revelation 12:4). So did Eve. So did Adam. When God delivers the gift of paradise to the children of Adam and Eve, God wants us to keep it. God does not want us to repeat the debacle of our predecessors.

By stewing in the valley of tears like pickles in a barrel of brine we decrease to near zero the likelihood that we will opt out of paradise after the gift of paradise is delivered to us. When the gift of paradise is delivered to us, we will keep it. We will not fumble the ball as Lucifer did, as the gaggle of angels who follow Lucifer did, as Eve did, as Adam did and as the prodigal son did. The prodigal son will never go back to the pig sty. And neither will we. Learning the truth by stewing in it like pickles in a barrel of brine makes us know better. It smartens us up. It educates us. It strengthens our grip on the gift of paradise. It stops us from fumbling the ball.

Spare the rod and the children are spoiled (Proverbs 13:24). In the valley of tears, the children of Adam and Eve are never spoiled. God's pedagogy is severe because the truth held by the valley of tears is severe. In the valley of tears, the grist goes through the mill, the meat goes through the grinder and we go through the ringer. What better way to persuade us that the fire is hot than by letting us put our fingers in the flames?

 
 

Mitigation

Amid the many and merciless crosses that nail themselves to us as we make our escape through the valley of tears including the worst of our crosses, death, is there any good news of great joy? Is there any light in the darkness ? Is there any hope in our hopelessness ? Or is it all doom and gloom?

Mitigation

Wouldn't a merciful God mitigate the direness of our predicament in the Valley of Tears? Wouldn't a merciful God would blunt the sharp edge of its cruelty?

Mitigation: The Brevity of Life

Life is an infinitesimally thin slice of time when we compare it to the thickness of eternity. The brevity of life is a proof of the mercy of God. God mitigates the direness of our predicament in the valley of tears by making our lives short. We stew like pickles in a barrel of brine for only one lifetime not for two or more. A sadistic God would make us stew in the Valley of Tears for longer than a lifetime. The torture of our crosses only makes life seem long. Furthermore, life begins as a marathon but ends as a sprint. As we get older, time passes faster. For all of us regardless of our ages, it won't be long now. Repent! The Kingdom of God is at hand. Praise God for his mercy!

 
 

The Golden Ring of Godhood

Deification

We become god-like when we keep our hearts filled to the brim with love. Deification is about love not power. We are born in the image and likeness of God . God endowed us with the capacity to love. The greater the love that we hold in our hearts, the greater is our resemblance to God. When we don't love, we stay strangers to God even though we think we are acting as his agents on his behalf . We become agents of God only by loving. When we love, God recognizes himself in us . "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" .

Deification

Both the serpent and God promise us deification. Only God, however, can deliver. Divinity is the indissoluble marriage between power and love - absolute and perfect. The deification promised by the serpent is power. The deificiation promised by God is love. Love comes first. Power afterwards.

 
 

God's Will is Love and Mercy Itself

What is the Will of the Father?

What is the will of the Father? Take a guess. But rest your guess on solid facts not on thin air. Thin air cannot support your guess. The Father dispatched a love note from heaven to earth. The love note was delivered to us at Bethlehem and its genuineness was proven to us at Calvary. Love is the will of the Father. Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself. . The phrase from the Lord's prayer, "thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" scared me until Faustina taught me that his will is "Love and Mercy itself". Since my epiphany, with regard to God's will, I say, bring it on.

 
 

Happiness Here on Earth

A Breakthrough in the Science of Happiness

Happiness here on earth is found in the company of God and his Holy Family at the holy places that define the escape route of the new exodus. Spend as much time as you can at the holy places with God and his Holy Family. Put yourself in the presence of God. Adopt the practice - develop the habit - of putting yourself in the presence of God . Like Mary, choose the better part and it will not be taken from you . Seek first the kingdom of God “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.” How jealous am I of the clergy! Their full time job is to put themselves in the presence of God. What happiness is theirs! Meanwhile, we run after red herrings in our pursuit of happiness. We look for happiness in all the wrong places. Away from the holy places is only misery disguised as happiness. Beware of mirages!

 
 

The Most Holy Eucharist

The between our Hunger and Thirst and the Bread and Wine of the most Holy Eucharist

Worthy of contemplation is the "Jinba ittai" between our hunger and thirst and the bread and wine of the most Holy Eucharist.  "Jinba ittai" is a Japanese term that describes the unity between a horse and rider. Ideally, they are not two but one. A similar unity exists between our hunger and thirst and the bread and wine of the most Holy Eucharist . The most Holy Eucharist is the memorial that reminds us that our food and drink are the truths that emerged about God in the passion, death and resurrection of the Son of God. The truths that emerged about God in the passion, death and resurrection of the Son of God slake our thirst and satisfy our hunger.

Is there More to the most Holy Eucharist than the Real Presence of God? Or is that it?

The connection between the Cross of Christ and the most Holy Eucharist is severed. The connection is in need of repair. Indeed, the most Holy Eucharist is God. Without question. But so what? The real presence is a necessary but not a sufficient fact. There is more to the most Holy Eucharist than the real presence - much more. How so? The most Holy Eucharist tells the story of God. If you just see the real presence of God but not the story of God in the most Holy Eucharist, you misunderstand it. You have oversimplified the most Holy Eucharist. You have dumbed it down. The richness of the most Holy Eucharist is in the story it tells us about God. Have you heard the story that the most Holy Eucharist tells? Jesus deposited his body and blood into the bread and wine of the Most Holy Eucharist . His decision to use body, blood, bread and wine was not random, accidental, arbitrary or capricious. Jesus deliberately picked the four elements of the most Holy Eucharist to serve as vehicles that convey to us the meaning and importance of the Cross of Christ. The body and blood convey the meaning. The bread and wine convey the importance. The connection between his body and his blood is his wounds. His body and his blood point us to his wounds. The good news of great joy is preached to us through his bloody wounds. Have you heard the good news of great joy? His bloody wounds are the mouth of God. "Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" . By his bloody wounds we are healed . Witness the truth by watching the traffic through his bloody wounds. Buckets of blood poured through the wounds that our evil opened in his body. But, not a drop - not a drop - of his love for us followed his blood through his wounds and out of his body. His most sacred heart stayed filled to the brim with love for us. Because his most sacred heart was filled to the brim with love for us, Jesus was able to say "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." Moreover, bread and wine tell us that the good news of great joy is as essential to our survival as eating and drinking. Without food and drink, we die of hunger and thirst. Without an understanding of the meaning of his bloody wounds , death is just as certain.

 
 

The Revelation of the Identity of God

How did God reveal his identity to us?

What is the answer to the question, "Who is God?"

Where do we look to discover the answer to the question, "Who is God?"?

Have you read the Autobiography of God? Are you privy to the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection? There and there alone will you discover the answer to the question, "Who is God?"? Christianity is a treasure map for treasure hunters engaged in a treasure hunt. On the treasure map of Christianity, 'X' marks the spot of the treasure . The 'X' that marks the spot of the treasure is the Cross of Christ . In the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection that took place at and about the Cross of Christ, the treasure of Christianity is buried. Let us dig it up together. The Cross of Christ enriches our understanding of God. Let us make ourselves rich

Many false, inaccurate and conflicting pictures of God circulate through the minds of the children of Adam and Eve. The multiplicity of pictures creates confusion. “This is God” some say as they point to their favorite picture of God. Others point to a different picture and say, “No, this is God.” The controversy goes on ad infinitum. Because of the confusion, the most Holy Trinity desired to set the record straight once and forever. They decided to clear the air. They decided to give us the gift of the definitive picture of God. In the Autobiography of God, the answer to the question, 'Who is God?' was given to us.

In the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, the Autobiography of God was written. In the Autobiography of God, the answer to the question, 'Who is God?' was given to us.

How did God reveal his identity to us? God revealed his identity to us in his response to the evil we did to him. His reponse to the evil we did to him informs us about the nature of God.

Our Failure to Piss Him Off

The evil we did to him ought to have, at the very least, pissed him off. It ought to have antagonized him. It ought to have earned us a place on his shit list. It ought to have provoked his natural instinct for justice. It ought to have triggered his reflex for revenge, retaliation and retribution. It ought to have transformed him into our enemy - into a misanthropic monster - into the God who hates us. It ought to have shifted God from the pro-human team to the anti-human team with the serpent and his minions. When the fuse is lit, the bomb ordinarily explodes. But, remarkably, it did not. The fuse worked but the bomb was a dud . The evil we did to him did not extinguish his love for us or reduce it by even the slightest degree . He clung to his love for us, held tight and refused to let go. God let us get away with murder - with deicide . Such is the nature of God! Wow! Our God is a beneficent philanthropist not a misanthropic monster. This is the good news of great joy - very good news for us indeed.

Nailing him to the Cross didn't piss him off. What can?

 
 

The Love Note

The Process of Verification

The events that took place at and about the Crucifixion and the Resurrection were part of the process that verified the genuineness of the Love Note that God sent to us at Bethlehem. The process of verification was completed when his love for us survived the evil we did to him. God did not just send us a love note. God verified the genuineness of the love note for us as well.

The Cost of Love

Love is easy when there is no cost to pay. As the cost of love rises, love becomes hard. Love that dissolves as the cost of love rises is counterfeit. Love that endures as the cost of love rises is real. The only way to be certain that love is real is to watch it wax or wane as the cost of love rises. The intransigence of love is the irrefutable proof of the reality of love.

What is the good news of great joy?

The dial that controls his love for us is in his hands not ours. Moreover, it is set to the highest degree and is locked in place. Not even the evil we did to him at and about the Crucifixion can budge it.

The Good News of Great Joy is that God Sent Us a Love Note

The good news of great joy is that God sent us a love note . Yes. That is right. God, our creator, sent us, his creatures, a love note. Jesus was the love note. Most remarkably, God sent us the love note while we were still sinners . God did not wait. He did not delay the delivery of the love note until our status changed from sinners into saints. He sent us a love note to precipitate the change in our status from sinners to saints. He sent us a catalyst. Love is the seed of divinity. To remediate the toxicity of the soil, God planted the seed of divinity into the toxic soil of humanity . God sent us the love note even though he knew that we would trample the treasure underfoot, turn and tear him to pieces . We are rational creature. The truth is the fuel for our rationality. We hunger and thirst for proof. So God satisfied our hunger and quenched our thirst. To demonstrate that the love note was genuine, God the Father let us do evil to God the Son . The only way the love note could be proven genuine was for us to trample the love note underfoot, turn and tear him to pieces and then see what happened. No evil done to him, no proof. Jesus put on a demonstration that showed us the magnitude and the intransigence of his love for us. The demonstration was a macabre horror show with a happy ending. We tortured and killed him. He suffered and died. Yet, he did not stay dead and did not stop loving us. He emerged from the dead still alive and still in love with us. Because his most sacred heart stayed filled to the brim with love for us, Jesus was able to say "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do ." In the demonstration, two acrobats performed a spectacular, high-wire trapeze act from the platform of the Cross of Christ. The acrobats were his love for us and the evil we did to him. Their interaction produced the irrefutable proof that the love note is genuine. If the love note were counterfeit, his love for us would have faded as we tortured him and would have died when we killed him. But it did not. His love for us survived the evil we did to him. The dial that controls his love for us is in his hands not ours. Moreover, it is set to the highest degree and is locked in place. The demonstration performed on the Cross of Christ stamped the love note with a seal of genuineness.

Our God is our almighty lover. Whom shall we fear? Of whom shall we be afraid? Will our almighty lover ever let us down? Will he ever disappoint? His love for us is real. Reality is reliable. We can depend on the reality of his love for us. His love for us is the rock on which the wise build their lives. Build your lives on his love for us.

What genre of literature is the Word of God ? The Word of God is a love note.

The yeast of divinity is love .

Why did God send a love note to us while we were stuck and struggling in the toxic quagmire of the valley of tears ? Why didn't our loving God just lift us out of the toxic quagmire as a mother lifts her child out of trouble tout suite? Why does our loving God delay his rescue of us? A love note is touching and tender gesture. But as we struggle in the valley of tears with our crosses, we need more than a gesture. How does a love note help us as we stew like pickles in a barrel of brine in the valley of tears ?

What sin is worse than torturing and killing the Son of God while he was human, alive, tender, vulnerable and our guest upon the earth? Yet, his love for us did not fade as we tortured him and did not die when we killed him. His love for us survived the evil we did to him. If such a sin did not extinguish the bonfire of love that burns for us in his most sacred heart or reduce its intensity by even the slightest degree, can anything? The dial that controls his love for us is in his hands not ours. Moreover, it is set to the highest degree and his locked in place. Immutable is his love for us. It is set in stone. His love for us is mysteriously intransigent, inexplicably persistent and radically stubborn . It is the rock upon which the wise build their house.

The Three Phases in the Life of the Love Note

The love note was delivered to us at Bethlehem (Delivery), published to us on the Cross at Calvary (Publication) and propagated to us from then and there to us here and now by the Mass (Propagation).

The Delivery of the Love Note

The love note was delivered to us at Bethlehem. It was a most unusual love note. It was not just the word of God written in dried ink on dead paper. It was the word of God written on the fabric of life itself. The love note was alive ! God became one of us - an equal to us in our humanity - a partner with us in our suffering. They say he pitched his tent amongst us. The love note was written in the form of a baby born in the most humble of circumstances in the boondocks of time and space. Its entry into our world was inconspicuous, anonymous and remote. There was no reason to expect that the love note would make an impression as it passed through the world. Yet it did. And its impression is huge and growing.

The greater our sin, the more astonishing is the intransigence of his love for us.

The Publication of the Love Note

The Love Note was not a private message sent to a special subset of the children of Adam and Eve. Its publication was a public gift for all of us. Included within the scope of the gift were unworthy sinners . God threw pearls before swine and what is holy to dogs even though he knew that they would trample the treasure underfoot, turn and tear him to pieces . He also knew that, eventually, the swine and the dogs would discover the treasure. And the discovery would deify them.

From the pulpit of the Cross, Jesus published the magnitude and durability of God's love for us.

In the Crucifixion, the magnitude of the love note was revealed to us. The Crucifixion was the exorbitant price he paid to publish the love note. Its exorbitance gives us a good idea of the magnitude of God's love for us.

In the Resurrection, the durability of the love note was revealed to us. God's love for us survived the evil we did to him. Its survival gives us a good idea of the intransigence of God's love for us.

The publication of the love note illuminated the darkness of our understanding of God in a glorious burst of epiphany. The publication was the apocalypse that revealed to us the sweetness of paradise.

To publish the Love Note, Jesus mounted the Cross at Calvary, dove heartfirst into the evil baptism of torture and death that we prepared for him and emerged therefrom still alive and with his most sacred heart still filled to the brim with love for us.

Publication of the Love Note was its guarantee of genuineness. What other love note comes with a guarantee?

That he rose from the dead still alive is the proof that the love note came from God. No mere mortal rises from the dead. He did. That he rose from the dead still in love with us is the proof that his love for us is genuine. If the love note were counterfeit, his love for us would have faded as we tortured him and died when we killed him. But it did not. His love for us survived the evil we did to him. The survival of his love for us is the proof that the love note is genuine.

The Propagation of the Love Note

After the love note was published in a spectacular fasion on the framework of the Cross, its publication was propagated through space and time by the Mass. The events of the Cross were dislodged from their foundation in space and time, made portable, and transported to us in the present by a time machine we call the Mass. The technology of God is truly advanced.

The Purpose of the Love Note

The valley of tears is hostile territory. Many and merciless are the crosses that nail themselves to us as we pass through the valley of tears including the worst of our crosses, death.

Our crosses stand between us and the sweetness of paradise like the looming palisades of a prison . They are opaque. We cannot see through them. Like an eclipse, they block our perception of the sweetness of paradise. The knowledge of God cannot be transmitted to us through them. While we stew in the sourness of the valley of tears like pickles in a barrel of brine, it is hard to imagine that anything is sweet.

Our crosses do not produce our sin. Our crosses produce our suffering. While we were still undeserving sinners , God paid us a visit to address the ill effects of our crosses. He threw his pearls before swine and what is holy to dogs even though he knew that we would trample them underfoot and tear him to pieces .

God did not ignore the sighs, mourning and weeping that we utter as we make our way through the valley of tears . They left our lips, reached God's ears and broke God's heart. In the fullness of time, God relented. God the Father dispatched God the Son on a mission of mercy from heaven to earth.

God the Father wanted God the Son to reveal the sweetness of paradise to us. God the Father wanted God the Son to publish to the children of Adam and Eve both the magnitude and the intransigency of God's love for us.

In addition, God the Father wanted God the Son to mitigate the direness of our predicament in the valley of tears. God the Father wanted God the Son to transport from heaven to earth advanced technology that would enable us to pick up and carry our crosses instead of them crushing us under their unbearable weight. Moreover, the Father wanted the Son to use the technology himself to show us that it works. Jesus, therefore, donned the jet pack and flew to show us that we too can fly. What a crazy daredevil this Jesus was! What is the advanced technology? The technology is the application of love to suffering. Love is the grease that lubricates the wheels of our passage through the valley of tears. Jesus hung from his Cross to teach us how to hang from our crosses. When you hang as Jesus hung, cling as Jesus clung, love as Jesus loved. Hold tight and refuse to let go of love, sufferings invincible foe.

The purpose of the Love Note was 1) the revelation of the sweetness of paradise and 2) the mitigation of the sourness of godlessness.

His Love For Us is the Sweetness of Paradise

God's power built paradise for us. God's love for us, however, makes paradise sweet. Power begets respect. But love begets love. Rational creatures seek the sweetness of paradise. It is contrary to their self-interest to do otherwise. It is crazy to do otherwise.

Love Deifies Us

When our hearts are filled with love, God recognizes himself in us Without love, we are strangers to God even though we think we are acting on his behalf .

A Shift in Focus

The effect of the Love Note is to shift our focus from our problems in the valley of tears to their solution. Jesus impaled on the Cross like a worm on a hook is the solution. As he is lifted up, our eyes follow his rise until we are looking above our problems to their solution. The Cross of Christ is the klaxon from which issues a blast of rolling thunder to draw our attention to paradise.

The Resemblance We Bear to God

The more that we love, the greater is our resemblance to God .

 
 

More Mitigation

The Solution to the Problem of Suffering

More Good News of Great Joy. Jesus transported from heaven to earth the solution to the problem of suffering and demonstrated that the solution works by using it himself as he passed through the Valley of Tears.

Who Benefits from Love?

Jesus is not recommending from the Cross that we suffer. Thinking that Jesus is extolling suffering from the Cross is a gross misunderstanding of it. Jesus is recommending from the Cross that we love. Why? Only by loving can we pick up and carry the crosses that crush us under their oppresive weight. Jesus recommends that we love because love is the "grease" for the wheels of our passage through the valley of tears. Love has utility not just to the recipients of our love but also to the sources of love. Shakespeare said it best when he put these words in Portia's mouth:

The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.

The Merchant Of Venice Act 4, scene 1, 180–187

The gospel of rationality teaches us that the best way to pass through the valley of tears is to love our way through it. It is self-destructive - suicidal - to permit our crosses to transmogrify us into the most hideous and miserable of loveless beasts. We are better than the beasts. God endowed us with the capacity to love. We need to maintain the resemblance that we bear to God . The greater the love in our hearts, the greater is our resemblance to God. When we keep love in our hearts, God recognizes himself in us .

Mitigation: He Hung from his Cross to Teach us How to Hang from Ours

With regard to the mitigation aspect of Jesus's mission, Jesus did two things:

1) He transported from heaven to earth technology that dulls the sharp edge of our passage through the Valley of Tears, and

2) He demonstrated that the technology works by using it himself. He donned the jet pack and flew to show us that we, too, can fly. What a crazy daredevil this Jesus was.

The technology is the application of love to suffering.

Jesus hung from his Cross to teach us how to hang from our crosses. When you hang as Jesus hung, cling as Jesus clung, love as Jesus loved. Hold tight and refuse to let go of love, sufferings invincible foe. He denied himself and refused to let his cross transmogrify him into the most miserable and hideous of loveless beasts. He maintained his resemblance to God. The more we love, the greater is our resemblance to God.

 
 

The Cross of Christ Holds Three Gallons of Meaning

The Cross of Christ is a Three-Dimensional Revelation

The Cross of Christ is not a one-dimensional revelation. The Cross of Christ is not a two-dimensional revelation. The Cross of Christ is a three-dimensional revelation.

In other words, it holds three gallons of meaning.

One gallon of meaning is held in the Crucifixion on the near side of the Cross.

One gallon of meaning is held in the Resurrection on the far side of the Cross.

One gallon of meaning is held in the beautiful, symbiotic dance of question and answer that weaves its way through his bloody wounds like to connect the Crucifixion and the Resurrection together into a conversation - the most apocalyptic conversation that has ever taken place between us and our God! In the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, the Autobiography of God was written.

Unfortunately, many who contemplate the Cross have only a one gallon tank. A one gallon tank cannot handle three gallons of meaning. Does your tank have the capacity to hold the full meaning of the Cross?

The Rungs of the Ladder

To catch a glimpse of the better, brighter and beautiful world outside and beyond the walls of the crosses that besiege us in the valley of tears , climb the tree as Zacchaeus climbed the tree . Pull your feet out of the toxic quagmire of the valley of tears, shake off the mud and climb the tree. The Cross of Christ is the tree. It is the tree of life . The Cross of Christ is a three runged ladder. The Crucifixion, his bloody wounds and the Resurrection are the three rungs of the ladder. We climb the Cross of Christ to ascend above our own crosses to catch a glimpse of the sweetness of paradise from here on earth . Jesus is the sweetness of paradise. To catch a glimpse of Jesus, climb the tree. Climb the Cross of Christ.

The First Rung of the Ladder

Climb onto the first rung of the ladder to behold the evil we did to him. From the first rung, behold the Crucifixion on the near side of the Cross of Christ. The Crucifixion is the exorbitant price he paid to demonstrate the magnitude and duration of his love for us. He paid the price out of his own pocket. He did not pay the price from his unlimited divine resources. He paid the price from his limited human resources. He paid them all for us. He kept not a penny for himself. He has never paid more for anything else. The price he paid is the proof of how dear we are to him. The serpent did not pay a price for us. Jesus did and the price he paid was exorbitant.

The Second Rung of the Ladder

Climb onto the second rung of the ladder to behold the punctuation marks that our evil opened in his body. From the second rung, behold his bloody wounds. His bloody wounds are question marks. They turn the Crucifixion into our question to Jesus and the Resurrecton into his answer to us. They mark a mystery. 'How will our God respond to the evil we did to him?' At the time that our evil opened bloody wounds in his body, the response that they would trigger from him was a mystery to us. The reasonable expectation was that the evil we did to him would trigger his reflex for revenge, retaliation and retribution. "An eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot" . Thankfully, he did not respond in kind . He changed the tone of the conversation .

The Third Rung of the Ladder

Climb onto the third rung of the ladder to behold that his love for us survived the evil we did to him. From the third rung, behold the Resurrection on the far side of the Cross of Christ. His love for us did not fade as we tortured him and did not die when we killed him. It survived. He did not stay dead and he did not stop loving us. He emerged from the dead still alive and still in love with us. His love for us is mysteriously intransigent, inexplicably persistent and radically stubborn . The bonfire of love that burns for us in his most sacred heart is unquenchable. Not even the evil we did to him can extinguish the flame or reduce it by even the slightest degree. His most sacred heart stayed filled to the brim with love for us. Because his most sacred heart stayed filled to the brim with love for us, Jesus was able to say "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." The dial that controls his love for us is in his hands not ours. Moreover, it is set to the highest degree and is locked in place.

Climb as Zacchaeus climbed. As we climb each rung of the ladder, we discover the answer to the question, 'Who is God?' The identity of God is revealed to us by the three rungs of the Cross of Christ. When we ascend the Cross of Christ, we break open the lid of our coffins, rise from the dead, enter the glorious light and behold a better, brighter and beautiful world.

The Cross is one of the greatest gifts that God gave us. It ranks up there with the gift of life and the gift of paradise. The Cross is the treasure chest of Christianity. In the Cross, the treasure of Christianity is buried . The treasure of Crhistianity is the good news of great joy.

The Cross is the sledgehammer of truth that shatters the illusion that hides from us the sweetness of paradise. The Cross shatters the illusion as the blow of a hammer shatters glass into smithereens. When the illusion is shattered, the sweetness of paradise becomes visible to us. Rational creatures seek the sweetness of paradise. It is contrary to our self-interest to do otherwise. It is crazy to do otherwise.

The Cross, however, is a not a one-dimensional revelation. It is not a two-dimensional revelation. The Cross is a three-dimensional revelation. It holds three gallons of information. All three gallons of information are needed to understand the meaning of the Cross . Leave a gallon out, and the puzzle of the Cross is missing a piece and no longer makes sense.

One gallon of information holds the Crucifixion on the near side of the bloody wounds of Jesus.

One gallon of information holds the Resurrection on the far side of the bloody wounds of Jesus.

One gallon of information holds the symbiotic relationship of question and answer that weaves its way through his bloody wounds to tie the Crucifixion and the Resurrection together into a conversation.

Are you privy to the conversation?

The conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection was an interrogation. We gave him the third degree and he confessed - he spilled the beans. "Who are you, Jesus?" "Identify yourself." "Friend or foe?" The Crucifixion was our sharp question. We jabbed our sharp question at him with lash, thorns, nails and spear. Our sharp question opened bloody wounds in his body. His bloody wounds are question marks. These punctuation marks stand between our question and his answer - between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. They are questions marks because at the time we opened bloody wounds in his body, we did not know the direction his answer would take. What his answer would be was a mystery to us. Thankfully, he did not answer us in kind. He changed the tone of the conversation . The Resurrection was the gentle answer that he whispered back to us. He whispered his gentle answer to us through his bloody wounds. His bloody wounds are the mouth of God. "Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" . The good news of great joy was preached through his bloody wounds. By his bloody wounds we are healed . Witness the truth by watching the traffic through his bloody wounds. Buckets of blood poured through the wounds that our evil opened in his body. But, not a drop - not a drop - of his love for us followed his blood through his wounds and out of his body. His most sacred heart stayed filled to the brim with love for us. Because his most sacred heart was filled to the brim with love for us, Jesus was able to say "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." We shouted our sharp questions at him; he whispered his gentle answer to us. "Friend not foe." "I am your almighty lover."

The conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection is the most apocalyptic conversation that humanity has ever had with God. In the conversation, God revealed himself to us. In the conversation, the Autobiography of God was written. Jesus did not write the Autobiography of God in words. It is ironic but the Word of God wasn't an author. He was a carpenter . The carpenter built the Autobiography of God on the framework of the Cross. In the conversation, God himself gave us an answer to the question, 'Who is God?'. During the conversation, the treasure chest of Christianity was opened and the treasure of Christianity was revealed to us.

The treasure of Christianity is God's immutable - intransigent - indestructible - indefatigable - love for us. The dial that controls his love for us is in his hands not ours. Moreover, it is set to the highest degree and is locked in place. Not even our evil can budge it. The immutability - intransigency - indestructibility - indefatigability - of his love for us is the treasure held in the treasure chest of the Cross. It is the good news of great joy. Our God is our almighty lover!

His steadfast love for us was revealed to us not by declaration but by demonstration. God did not tell us; God showed us his steadfast love for us. God's steadfast love for us was revealed in a live, real-time demonstration by the Son of God himself that put the immutability, intransigence, indestructibility and indefatigability of God's love for us to the test - an extraordinarily cruel and exorbitantly expensive test .

During the demonstration, a violent collision took place between Jesus and us - between good and evil. We launched a freight train of evil toward him. He saw it coming. Remarkably, he stood in its path. He did not flinch. He did not cower. He did not jump out of the way. He took evil on the chin. He stood firm and, by standing firm, stopped evil's progress dead in its tracks. The collision was bigger than the Big Bang and larger than CERN's Large Hadron Collider . The truths that emerged from the violent collision illuminated the darkness of our understanding of God in a glorious burst of epiphany.

We tortured and killed him. He suffered and died. Yet, he did not stay dead and he did not stop loving us. He emerged from the dead still alive and still in love with us. That he emerged from the dead still alive is the proof of the power of Jesus. Nobody emerges from the dead. He did. That he emerged from the dead still in love with us is the proof that our conception of divinity as power is incomplete. Divinity is also love.

His love for us did not fade as we tortured him and did not die when we killed him. His love for us survived the evil we did to him.

Wow!

God is the indissoluble marriage between power over us and love for us - absolute and perfect. His power made paradise for us. His love for us, however, makes paradise sweet. Power begets respect. But love begets love.

Our God is our almighty lover. Whom shall we fear? Of whom shall we be afraid? Will our almighty lover ever let us down? Will he ever disappoint? His love for us is real. Reality is reliable. We can depend on the reality of his love for us. His love for us is the rock on which the wise build their lives. Build your lives on his love for us.

The Symmetry and Asymmetry of Crosses - His versus Ours

Behold the symmetry and asymmetry of crosses - his versus ours. In the Valley of Tears, crosses are communication devices. Each is a loudspeaker that broadcasts a message about God. In the nailing, a message about God is squeezed out of a cross as juice is squeezed out of an orange. However, it is the content of the message that distinguishes the Cross of Christ from our crosses.

In the garden of Eden, God broadcasted the message that he loves us through the happiness generated by its warm hospitality. God's power made paradise for us. However, his love for us made paradise sweet. His love for us was the source of our happiness in the garden of Eden.

The serpent, however, was jealous of our happiness with God and his Holy Family in the garden of Eden. So he destroyed it.

God did not design paradise to be a prison, himself to be our warden and us to be his prisoners. God is deeply solicitous of our welfare but is not paternalistic. He did not lock us in paradise for our own protection. A cage is a cage no matter how gilded. We were free to stay or free to go, as we decided for ourselves. God respected the sovereignty of our wills. God hoped our rationality would steer us in the right direction. However, the truth is the fuel of our rationality and serpent fouled the fuel of truth with illusion . The sepent sabotaged the fuel for our rationality. He contaminated it. The serpent poisoned the well and we drank it. As bait, the serpent dangled before us the golden ring of godhood if we would abandon God and his Holy Family and live on our own without them in the Valley of Tears. We took the bait hook, line and sinker.

The Valley of Tears is as foul as Eden was fair - as hostile as Eden was hospitable. The serpent turned the garden of Eden inside out. Instead of a garden, the serpent planted an "anti-garden" in which grows a fell forest of merciless crosses. To make matters worse, the serpent shrouded the Valley of Tears in the shadow of death, the worst and the last of our Crosses. The serpent's crosses do more than chew our bodies up into bits an pieces. In the misery of the chewing, they broadcast anti-God propaganda, mocking both the power and the love of God. 'Where is your savior now?' our crosses taunt us as their sharp teeth chomp mercilessly on us. The anti-God propaganda erases the memory of our happines with God and his Holy Family in paradise. In our misery of being chewd up by our crosses and the resultant din of our sighs, mourning and weeping , the message that God loves us does not reach us. We cry out, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" . God and his Holy Family become a stranger to us.

To rescue us from our dire predicament in the Valley of Tears, it was essential for God's message that he loves us to get through to us. But, easier said than done. The misery and the mockery of our crosses presented a formidable barrier to God's message, seemingly impenetrable. What was needed was an amplifier to boost the amplitude of God's message - to make it louder than the anti-god propaganda being generated by our crosses. So God dispatched an amplifier from heaven to earth. The amplifier was the Cross of Christ. His Cross would broadcast the polar opposite of the message being broadcast by our crosses. The mockery of God's power and God's love for us would be answered by the Cross of Christ. The taunt of 'Where is your savior now?' will be answered by the Son of God himself proclaiming from the platform of his cross the good news of great joy, "Here I am." When amplified by the Cross of Christ, God's signal pierces the din and reaches our ears. We hear the message that God loves us. The knowledge of God's love for us enters our heads and fills our hearts. The Cross of Christ shatters the serpent's anti-God propaganda as the blow of a sledgehammer shatters glass. His Cross and our crosses speak "mouth to mouth", his Cross giving testimony contrary to the testimony of our crosses, so the "similitude of the Lord shall be behold" .

God first destroys the message of our crosses here in the Valley of Tears and then destroys our crosses themselves at the threshold between the Valley of Tears and Paradise. First he rescues our hearts and minds and souls and then our bodies .

His conception of rescue is different than our conception of rescue . We want him to rescue our bodies first. God's priority is different than our priority. God does not want to transform the Valley of Tears into a kinder, gentler and more hospitable place for godless people to live. God wants to transform godless people into people of God. There is a difference in opinions. His prevails.

Pope Francis View of the Cross

“One who wishes to know Jesus must gaze upon the Cross, where His glory is revealed,” Pope Francis said. The Cross is not simply a decoration, much less a fashion accessory, but is, instead, “a religious sign to contemplate and comprehend.” He continued, “In the image of Jesus Crucified is revealed the mystery of the death of the Son of God as supreme act of love, font of life and of salvation for the humanity of all time.”

 
 

A Macabre Horror Show With a Happy Ending

A Macabre Horror Show with a Happy Ending

The live, real-time demonstration that God staged for us on the platform of the Cross of Christ was a macabre horror show with a happy ending. We tortured and killed Jesus. He suffered and died. Yet, he did not stay dead and he did not stop loving us. He emerged from the dead still alive and still in love with us. That he emerged from the dead still alive is the proof of the power of Jesus. Nobody emerges from the dead. He did. That he emerged from the dead still in love with us is the proof that our conception of divinity as power is incomplete. Divinity is also love.

 
 

The Intimate Connection Between the Truth about God and the Cross of Christ

Trying to divorce the truth about God from the Cross of Christ is akin to trying to divorce the light from the lightning bug. It does not work. It cannot be done. It kills both the light and the lightning bug.

The Cross of Christ is the flag that the most Holy Trinity planted in the middle of his passion, death and resurrection to rally Christians to the Son of God. Rally 'round the Cross!

The Cross of Christ is the platform from which Jesus published the good news of great joy. Have you heard the good news of great joy? Having heard it, can you articulate it? Can you put it into words? Note: If you cannot repeat it, you have not heard it and do not know it.

The signal broadcast by God carries the message that God loves us. However, the din broadcast by the crosses that besiege us as we pass through the Valley of Tears including death, the worst and the last of our crosses jams the signal broadcast by God. To boost the signal from God, God sent an amplifier from heaven to earth. The amplifier is the Cross of Christ. When amplified by the Cross of Christ, God's signal pierces the din. It reaches our ears and we hear the message that God loves us. The knowledge of God's love for us enters our heads and fills our hearts.

 
 

The Credentials of Divinity

What are the credentials of divinity? What distinguishes our genuine God from the many counterfeit gods - the frauds who try to deceive us? An interrogation took place on and around the platform of the Cross. With lash, thorns, nails and spear, we put our sharp question to him. Our sharp question punctuated his body with bloody wounds. His bloody wounds were question marks. They marked a mystery. At the time that our evil opened bloody wounds in his body, the response that they would trigger from him was a mystery to us. 'How will our God respond to the evil we did to him?' The reasonable expectation was that the evil we did to him would trigger his reflex for revenge, retaliation and retribution. "An eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot" . Thankfully, he did not respond in kind . He changed the tone of the conversation . In the Crucifixion, we asked Jesus to reveal his identity to us . He obliged. In the Resurrection, he identified himself as our almighty lover. We tortured and killed him. He suffered and died. Yet, he did not stay dead and he did not stop loving us. He emerged from the dead still alive and still in love with us. That he emerged from the dead still alive is the proof of the power of Jesus. Nobody emerges from the dead. He did. That he emerged from the dead still in love with us is the proof that our conception of divinity as power is incomplete. Divinity is also love. Thus, his bloody wounds are the badges that remind us of our sharp question to him and his gentle answer to us. They are the credentials of divinity. A person who claims to be God or to stand in persona Christi is an impostor unless he can show you his credentials. Demand a demonstration from any claimant to divinity of his credentials . Expose the frauds. Remember that the serpent had no credentials. Jesus, on the other hand, flashed his credentials to us in his passion, death and resurrection. He clung to his love for us, held tight and refused to let go even though we tortured and killed him.

 
 

The Language of Suffering

The only universal language that survived the confounding of language that took place at Babel was the language of suffering. The language of suffering is our native tongue. All creatures who suffer understand it. God took flesh so he could speak to us in our native tongue. He didn't want us to misunderstand his message. The language of suffering is a simple language. It works like this. Nobody signs up to dive headfirst or, for that matter, even dip his toe into the boiling cauldron of suffering unless they are insane or something important outweighs the high cost of suffering. We understand that suffering is an exorbitant price we only willingly pay for something that is extremely dear to us. Jesus paid the exorbitant price because we are extremely dear to Him . The Son of God became one of us - an equal to us in our humanity - a partner with us in our suffering so we could become an equal to him in his divinity - a partner with him in his glory .

 
 

The Autobiography of God

Have you read the Autobiography of God?

Are your privy to the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection?

The autobiography of God was published by the most Holy Trinity here on earth to put into our hands a high fidelity representation of the reality of God - an authentic, first-class representation of God. Its high fidelity is unmatched by the low fidelity representations of God made by human hands. In fact, God banned us from making representations of him in the first place because of the low fidelity of human made representations . Better no representation than an inaccurate representation.  All lesser representations of God, therefore, must yield to the representation God gave us in his autobiography. Have you read the Autobiography of God? Are you not curious about what God said about himself in it?

The Three Parts of the Cross of Christ

The framework of the Cross of Christ does not consist of the horizontal wooden boom and the vertical wooden mast that the Romans assembled together into the shape of a cross. The framework of the Cross of Christ was not dead wood.

The framework of the Cross of Christ consisted of three parts:

1) the Crucifixion,

2) the Resurrection and

3) the symbiotic relationship of question and answer that weaved its way through his bloody wounds to tie the Crucifixion and the Resurrection together into a conversation - the most apocalyptic conversation that has ever taken place between us and our God!

In the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, the Autobiography of God was written. In the Autobiography of God, the treasure of Christianity is buried. The Autobiography of God is the source of the definitive answer to the question, "Who is God?".

Are you privy to the conversation? Have you read the Autobiography of God?

Jesus did not write the Autobiography of God in words. It is ironic but the Word of God wasn't an author. He was a carpenter . The carpenter built the Autobiography of God on the framework of the Cross of Christ.

God poured more and better theology into the Cross of Christ than into the heads of every apologist, theologian, Doctor of the Church, apostle, monk, abbot, mystic, priest, monsignor, bishop, Cardinal, Pope, hermit and saint who has ever lived or will ever live

Listen first to what Jesus said about himself in his Autobiography before you listen to what others have said about him elsewhere.

Like foolish children, Adam and Eve ran away from their home with God and his Holy Family in paradise and took us with them into the Valley of Tears. The Valley of Tears is hostile territory. We pass through the Valley of Tears under the shadow of death - the worst and last of our enemies . In the Valley of Tears, many and merciless are the crosses that besiege us. They darken our understanding of God. But a light was lit in the darkness . A switch was thrown. In a glorious burst of epiphany, the truth emerged from the Cross of Christ to illuminate the darkness of our understanding of God . In the spot light of the Cross of Christ, the identity of God was revealed to us. The veil of the temple was rent in twain from top to bottom , and God stepped out from behind the veil to show himself to us. In the unveiling of God, the sweetness of paradise was made known to us. We behold that Jesus is the indissoluble marriage of power and love for us - absolute and perfect. His power made paradise for us. His love for us, however, makes paradise sweet. Power begets respect but love begets love.

The Cross of Christ is a volcano that God loaded with the magma of truth. It erupted at and about the city of Jerusalem in a part of our world known as the Middle East more than two thousand years ago. Its seismic activity is still felt today every time the most Holy Eucharist is consecrated.

To rescue us from our dire predicament in the valley of tears, God dispatched from heaven to earth an EMT, an ambulance and first aid. Jesus is the EMT. The Cross of Christ is the ambulance. And God's love for us is the first aid.

Jesus is the gentle lamb who carries the world on his back to paradise.

Make a beeline for the Cross of Christ. Take refuge there.

Hop aboard the bandwagon of the Cross of Christ. Hitch a ride on it through the Valley of Tears.

Rest your head on the pillow of the Cross of Christ to sleep the sleep of the angels.

The Autobiography of God was written in three (3) chapters. The first chapter was the Crucifixion. The second chapter was the Resurrection. The third chapter was the beautiful, symbiotic dance between our question and his answer that weaves it way through his bloody wounds to tie the Crucifixion and Resurrection together into a conversation. In the conversation, Jesus revealed to us the answer to the question "Who is God?". In his answer, Jesus revealed to us the sweetness of paradise. The sweetness of paradise is the indestructibility of his love for us. His love for us did not fade as we tortured him and did not die when we killed him. His love for us survived the evil we did to him. The evil we did to him did not extinguish the bonfire of love that burns for us in his most sacred heart or reduce its intensity by even the slightest degree.

The Autobiography of God tells the Story of our Interrogation of God
We gave him the third degree and he confessed - he spilled the beans.

A beautiful, symbiotic dance between question and answer weaves its way through his bloody wounds like to tie the Crucifixion and the Resurrection together into a conversation. The conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection is the most important conversation that ever took place between humanity and God.

Between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection stand punctuation marks. The punctuation marks that stand between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection is his bloody wounds . His bloody wounds are question marks. His bloody wounds are question marks because - at the time we opened them in his body - we did not know the answer Jesus would give us in response to the Crucifixion. The answer he would give us to the evil we did to him was - at the time - a mystery. We know the answer now. His answer to the evil we did to him is no longer a mystery.

Are you privy to the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection?

The Crucifixion was the sharp question we shouted at Jesus. The swine squealed and the dogs barked their sharp questions at him. Lash, thorns, nails and spear were our sharp questions. "Who are you, Jesus? Identify yourself! Friend or foe?' we interrogated him as we jabbed him with our sharp questions. The Resurrection was the gentle answer he whispered back to us . Thankfully, he did not answer us in kind. He changed the tone of the conversation. 'Friend,' he whispered his gentle answer to us through his bloody wounds. His answer to us was "I am your almighty lover." His gentle answer was the pearl he threw to the swine - the holy that he threw to the dogs .

We tortured and killed him. He suffered and died. Yet, he did not stay dead and did not stop loving us. He emerged from the dead still alive and still in love with us. That he emerged from the dead still alive is the proof of the power of Jesus. Nobody emerges from the dead. He did. That he emerged from the dead still in love with us is the proof that our conception of divinity as power is incomplete. Divinity is also love.

Evil interrogates us. It demands that we identify ourselves. In triggering a reaction from us, evil challenges us to reveal our nature to the world. 'What kind of person are you?' evil asks us. 'Show yourself' evil commands. 'Are you like me?' 'Are you my twin?' 'Are you a chip off the block of evil?' Our instinct instructs us to respond in kind. An evil question begets an evil answer. "An eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot . The law of symmetry propagates the wave of evil from question to answer. It spreads the contagion. It communicates the disease. Evil jumps from queation to answer. The law of symmetry makes the symbiotic dance between question and answer ugly. Jesus, however, rejected the law of symmetry. He overruled it. He cast it aside. His answer to evil's question was different . When evil challenged Jesus to reveal his identity, Jesus declared that he was not like his interrogator. He declared that he is as different from evil as the day is different from the night . Jesus had the power to squash evil as easily as we squash a tiny bug. He could have answered evil in kind. Yet, he did not. He changed the tone of the conversation. To our sharp question, Jesus gave his gentle answer . Jesus brought a radical asymmetry to the symbiotic dance between question and answer. Radical asymmetry squeezes the ugliness from the dance. It stops the transmission of the disease. Radical assymetry is the insanity of Christianity . Jesus's answer to evil's question was the antithesis of evil. Thank God his thoughts are not our thoughts - his ways are not our ways .

His bloody wounds are the mouth of God. "Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" . The good news of great joy is preached through his bloody wounds. By his bloody wounds we are healed . Witness the truth by watching the traffic through his bloody wounds. Buckets of blood poured through the wounds that our evil opened in his body. But, not a drop - not a drop - of his love for us followed his blood through his wounds and out of his body. His most sacred heart stayed filled to the brim with love for us. The fidelity of our resemblance to God depends on the love we hold in our hearts. The greater the love, the higher the fidelity. By keeping his Most Sacred Heart filled to the brim with love for us, Jesus maintained a perfect resemblance to God. He refused to let our evil transmogrify him into the most miserable and hideous of loveless beasts.

He let our evil take his life but not his love for us. He kept what was more important to him. His love for us was more important to him than life itself .

Rejoice and be glad! Despite the evil we did to him, Our God continues to love us nonetheless. His power made paradise for us. His love for us makes paradise sweet. Power begets respect. But love begets love. Who is our God? Our God is the indissoluble marriage of power over us and love for us - absolute and perfect. Our God is our almighty lover. Whom shall we fear? Of whom shall we be afraid? Will our almighty lover ever let us down? Will he ever disappoint? Reality is reliable. We can depend on the reality of his love for us. His love for us is the rock on which the wise build their house. Build your house on his love for us.

Publication of the Autobiography of God shattered the illusion that hid the sweetness of paradise from us as the blow of a sledgehammer shatters glass. With the illusion shattered, our perception of reality is no longer distorted. We perceive the sweetness of paradise. The sweetness of paradise is the honey that lures the bees back home to the hive. Rational creatures seek the sweetness of paradise. It is contrary to their self-interest to do otherwise. It is crazy to do otherwise.

 
 

The Good News of Great Joy is Preached through the Mouth of God

Our evil opened the mouth of God so he could preach the good news of great joy to us through his bloody wounds.  "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4). The truth passes through his bloody wounds. It illuminates the darkness of our understanding of God in a glorious burst of epiphany. Witness the truth by watching the traffic through his bloody wounds. Buckets of blood passed through the wounds that our evil opened in his body. But not a drop - not a drop - of his love for us followed his blood through his wounds and out of his body. His most sacred heart stayed filled to the brim with love for us. The treasure of Christianity is buried in his bloody wounds. The significant fact is his bloody wounds - the badges that we awarded to him to remind us that his love for us survived the evil we did to him.

The bloody wounds of Jesus are the mouth of God through which the good news of great joy is preached.

"By his wounds we were healed." .

The treasure of Christianity is buried in his bloody wounds.

The bloody wounds of Jesus are the megaphone through which Jesus proclaimed God's love for us.

 
 

Rescue from Our Dire Predicament in the Valley of Tears

God Wages War against the Wall of Our Crosses. He Attacks the Wall in Two Different Ways.

The Movement is Mutual
The sign of a healthy relationship between us and our God is movement towards each other - a coming closer - an increase in intimacy - a loving embrace. God moves to us. We move to God. The movement is bi-directional. The best description of the mutual movement is found in the parable of the Prodigal Son . Having learned for ourselves firsthand through trial and error that the pigsty is hostile territory, we flee the pigsty and approach God as repentant sinners. God does not hesitate when he sees us coming home. God does not amble over to meet us. God runs to us . In his happiness at our return, our God sprints to us with hugs and kisses . Only our return matters not our sin. Our prior divorce from God is forgotten - it is not held against us - although some of our siblings are not as forgiving as our Father . God explains, "It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found."

Paradise
In paradise, we frolicked joyously with our God and his Holy Family .

Our Fall from Paradise to the Pigsty
The Valley of Tears is a bear trap . The serpent baited the trap with a big fat seductive lie. The serpent testified that we become gods without God in the valley of tears . However, we do not become gods without God in the valley of tears . The serpent testified falsely . Yet, we took the bait hook, line and sinker. The jaws of the bear trap snapped and their sharp teeth bit deeply into our legs. Like foolish children, Adam and Eve ran away from their home with God in paradise and took us, their children, with them into the valley of tears .

The Pigsty
Our pigsty is called the Valley of Tears . In the Valley of Tears, our situation is perilous; our predicament, dire. The Valley of Tears is in a perpetual state of war. It is hostile territory. Many and merciless are the crosses that besiege us as we pass through the Valley of Tears including the worst of our crosses, death - the last of our enemies . In the Valley of Tears, the pedagogy is cruel - brutally cruel. The rod of our crosses is not spared but is applied liberally to the children of Adam and Eve . Passing through the Valley of Tears is not for sissies . In the Valley of Tears, like grist, we go through the mill - like meat, we go through the grinder - like wet laundry, we go through the ringer . In the Valley of Tears, we put our fingers in the flames to learn that the fire is hot. Indeed, the lesson is cruel. Without question, the fire is hot. Look at the third-degree burns on our hands.

Our Crosses Form a Wall between the Pigsty and Paradise
The crosses that besiege us as we pass through the valley of tears form a wall between the pigsty and paradise. The wall of our crosses interferes with the freedom of movement between us and our God. Our crosses isolate us from our God. They preserve the status quo of separation. They broadcast a din of lies that jams the signal of truth that God broadcasts to us. Furthermore, our crosses reduce our perception of reality in size, shape, scope, color and quality . They shrink our world. They limit our knowledge to the space inside the wall of our crosses . The Valley of Tears is our prison, the serpent is our warden and we are his prisoners. Our crosses form the prison's formidible palisades. In the Valley of Tears, we are locked up in solitary confinement. Calling the Valley of Tears a prison, however, is too gentle a description. The Valley of Tears is more a cemetery than a prison. Within the Valley of Tears, the serpent has buried us alive . Inside the wall of our crosses, isolated from God and held incommunicado, we rot in bitter exile.

God the Father Dispatched God the Son on an Emergency Mission to Breach the Wall
To breach the wall of our crosses, God dispatched from heaven to earth an EMT, an ambulance and first aid. The EMT is Jesus. The ambulance is the Cross of Christ. The first aid is God's love for us. In two ways, God assaults the wall between our pigsty and paradise. He assaults the wall from the outside and from the inside .

The Assault on the Wall from the Outside
Our God, in his mercy, fired a powerful weapon that bombarded the wall of our crosses with cannonballs of truth. The bombardment breaches the wall of our crosses. The powerful weapon is the Cross of Christ. The Cross of Christ derives its awesome power from the truth that God poured into it . God loaded the Cross of Christ with the truth. God poured more truth into the Cross of Christ than into the heads of every apologist, theologian, Doctor of the Church, apostle, monk, abbot, mystic, priest, monsignor, bishop, Cardinal, Pope, hermit and saint who has ever lived or will ever live. The cannonballs of truth launched from the Cross of Christ punch holes in the wall of our crosses. The truth punctuates the wall of our crosses as we punctuated Jesus with lash, thorns, nails and spear. With the Cross of Christ, we besiege our besiegers. When the wall of our crosses is breached, in rushes the reality of God posthaste to inundate our prison in the glory of God . The darkness of our understanding of God is illuminated in a glorious burst of epiphany. We learn of the existence of a bigger and better and brighter reality than what is perceived while we are buried alive within the wall of our crosses. The joy of paradise overwhelms the misery of our crosses Thus begins our joyous frolic in paradise with our God and his Holy Family. "What a paradise it is for a soul when the heart knows itself to be so loved by God." (St. Faustina - Notebook VI, 1756).

From the pulpit of the Cross, God knocks on the doors of our coffins formed by the walls of our crosses in which we were buried alive . Arise! He commands . The Cross of Christ is the loudspeaker that broadcasts the truth about God to us. Over the din of our crosses, God shouts to us

1) that the magnitude of God's love for us is humongous. To load the Cross of Christ with the truth, a price was paid . He paid the price out of his own pocket. He did not pay the price from his unlimited divine resources. He paid the price from his limited human resources. He paid them all for us. He kept not a penny for himself. He has never paid more for anything else . The price he paid matters . It is the proof of how dear we are to him. His willingness to pay an exorbitant price to publish the truth of his love for us is the verification of its authenticity. The serpent did not pay a price for us. Jesus did and the price he paid was exorbitant.

2) that the duration of God's love for us is intransigent. He emerged from the dead still in love with us. We tortured and killed him. He suffered and died. Yet, he emerged from the dead with his heart still filled to the brim with love for us. His love for us is mysteriously intransigent, inexplicably persistent and radically stubborn . The bonfire of love that burns for us in his most sacred heart is unquenchable. Not even the evil we did to him can extinguish the flame or reduce it by even the slightest degree. Nailing him to the Cross didn't even piss him off. What can? If his love for us were counterfeit, his love for us would have faded as we tortured him and died when we killed him. But it did not. His love for us survived the evil we did to him. The dial that controls his love for us is in his hands not ours. Moreover, it is set to the highest degree and is locked in place.

3) that our lover is none other than our almighty God himself. That he rose from the dead still alive is the proof that the love note came from God. No mere mortal rises from the dead. He did.

"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" . The truth that emerges from the Cross of Christ is the solvent that dissolves the lies and illusions of the serpent. From the Cross of Christ, the signal of truth is broadcast. Its amped-up volume overwhelms and smothers the din of lies that the serpent broadcasts through our crosses.

The Assault on the Wall from the Inside
Our conception of rescue is different than God's conception of rescue . We want God to eliminate our crosses. God, however, refuses to eliminate them. He refuses not because he is a sadistic bastard. He refuses because he wants to teach us to love. God refuses to transform the valley of tears into a kinder, gentler and more hospitable place for godless people to live. God wants to transform godless people into people of God. Eliminating our crosses does not transform godless people into people of God. To effect the transformation, our crosses need to be picked up and carried . So Jesus transported from heaven to earth the technology that enables us to pick up and carry our crosses. Furthermore, the Son of God demonstrated for us that the technology works by using it himself. He donned the jet pack and flew to show us that we, too, can fly. What a crazy daredevil this Jesus was. Jesus hung from his Cross to teach us how to hang from our crosses. When you hang as Jesus hung, cling as Jesus clung, love as Jesus loved. Hold tight and refuse to let go of love, sufferings invincible foe. To survive in the Valley of Tears, we learn that the secret to picking up and carrying our crosses is to cling to love, to hold tight and to refuse to let go. We learn to deny ourselves and to not let our crosses transmogrify us into the most miserable and hideous of loveless beasts. We learn to maintain our resemblance to God. The more we love, the greater is our resemblance to God . Love deifies us. The best way to cope with our crosses is to love our way through the Valley of Tears.

Conclusion
Therefore, preach Christ crucified . Breach the walls! Raise the dead! Lift up the crosses!

 
 
 

Shatter the Illusion into Smithereens

The Cross of Christ is the sledgehammer of truth that shatters the illusion of the valley of tears that distorts our perception of reality. It shatters the illusion as the blow of a hammer shatters glass. The Cross of Christ shows us a better, brighter and beautiful world. It shows us that our God is our almighty lover. Wow! What is better than that!

 
 

Our Conception of Rescue versus God's Conception of Rescue

Does our Conception of Rescue Match God's Conception of Rescue?

Conflicting Opinions about What Constitutes Rescue

The sighs, mourning and weeping of our ordeal in the valley of tears left our lips, reached God's ear and broke God's heart . Our prayer is for God to eliminate the crosses that nail themselves to us. Eradicate them. Rescue us, O Lord, from our dire predicament in the valley of tears ! Indeed, God has heard our prayers and is actively engaged in the process of rescuing us. However, God's concept of rescue is different than our concept of rescue . We want God to eliminate our crosses. God, however, refuses to eliminate them. God refuses to transform the valley of tears into a kinder, gentler and more hospitable place for godless people to live. God wants to transform godless people into people of God. Eliminating our crosses does not transform godless people into people of God. To effect the transformation, we need to pick up our crosses and carry them .

What? Come again? I wasn't sure that I heard you correctly? Did you say that God wants us to pick up and carry our crosses ? How is that even possible? Who has the strength to do such heavy lifting? Why does our God want us to do this? How does picking up and carrying our crosses rescue us?

Transforming Godless People into People of God

God presents us with his challenge to pick up and carry our crosses as we pass through the valley of tears in the hope that we will transform ourselves into creatures who love. Only creatures who love can pick up and carry their crosses . "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" . He is not interested in transforming us into creatures who follow a book of rules . He is not interested in transforming us into creatures who are obedient. He is not interested in transforming us into a flock of docile sheep . God isn't such a small thinker. He has a higher goal and a bigger plan for us. He is only interested in transforming us into creatures who love - like himself . No challenge; no transformation.

The Challenge of Our Crosses

As we make our escape through the valley of tears , an existential threat hangs over us from a single hair of a horse's tail like the sword of Damocles . The existential threat is to the content of our hearts . The content of our hearts is in jeopardy. We are born in the image and likeness of God . God endowed us with the capacity to love. The greater the love that we hold in our hearts, the greater is our resemblance to God. When we don't love, we stay strangers to God even though we think we are acting on his behalf . When we love, God recognizes himself in us . "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" . However, the sting of our crosses tends to transmogrify us into the most hideous and miserable of loveless beasts. Our survival depends on resisting the tendency. The crosses that nail themselves to us as we pass through the valley of tears poke holes in our hearts. The holes are question marks. They ask a question. Do we let our crosses drain our hearts of love? Or do we refuse? Do we defiantly say, 'No!' to our crosses. Do we keep our hearts filled to the brim with love? Are our hearts empty or full of love? This is the only significant question that each of us is called upon to answer during the course of our lives. Nothing else matters but the answer to this question.

Love deifies us. Therefore, Jesus wants us to download love from the Cross of Christ and, with it, fill our hearts . Download and install. The Cross of Christ is the Github of heaven at which the source code for success in life is kept.

For his mission from heaven to earth, God the Father gave God the Son two assignments: 1) revelation and 2) mitigation. Reveal to the children of Adam and Eve the magnitude and intransigence of God's love for them. Show them how to mitigate the harshness of their passage through the valley of tears.

To mitigate the harshness of their passage through the valley of tears Jesus 1) transported the technology of applying love to suffering and 2) demonstrated that the technology works by using it himself. Jesus donned the jet pack and flew to show us that we too can fly. What a crazy daredevil this Jesus was!

Jesus hung from his Cross to teach us how to hang from our crosses. When you hang as Jesus hung, cling as Jesus clung, love as Jesus loved. Hold tight and refuse to let go of love, sufferings invincible foe.

Only love kicks suffering's ass.

Love is the elixir that turns us into superman with the ability to pick up and carry our crosses.

Love is the Benadryl that prevents anaphylactic shock when we feel the sting of our crosses.

Love is the grease the lubricates the wheels of our passage through the valley of tears.

God presents us with the challenge of the Cross as we pass through the valley of tears in the hope that we will transform ourselves into creatures who love. He is not interested in transforming us into creatures who follow a book of rules . He is not interested in transforming us into creatures who are obedient. He is not interested in transforming us into a flock of docile sheep . God isn't such a small thinker. He has a higher goal and a bigger plan for us. He is only interested in transforming us into creatures who love - like himself . No challenge; no transformation.

 
 
 

What did Jesus recommend to us while he preached to us from the pulpit of the Cross?

 

What can you tell us about the Cross of Christ?

Has your ear heard the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection that Jesus wrote in the Autobiography of God ?

Has your eye seen the face of God in the self-portrait that Jesus painted on the canvas of Calvary ?

Have you witnessed the truth by watching the traffic through his bloody wounds?

The Cross of Christ was the venue for the most extraordinary demonstration of 1) God's power, 2) the magnitude of his love for us, and 3) the intransigence of his love for us (acronym, PMI). Furthermore, it is important to take notice of how these three aspects of God were conveyed to us. They were conveyed not just by a declaration. They were conveyed by a demonstration. He did not just tell us; he showed us. He did not just give us mere testimony as the serpent did . He put the indisputable proof into our hands. His demonstration on the Cross is the proof. Impaled on the Cross like a worm on a hook, Jesus verified 1) God's power, 2) the magnitude of his love for us, and 3) the intransigence of his love for us. The Cross of Christ is the certificate of authenticity. God's power made paradise for us. God's love for us, however, makes paradise sweet. Power begets respect but love begets love.

The proof of the power of Jesus (the 'P' in the acronym, PMI) is found in the transition from his death on the near side of the Cross to his emergence from death on the far side of the Cross. We tortured and killed him. He suffered and died. But he did not stay dead. He emerged from the dead still alive. Nobody emerges from the dead still alive. He did. Note: God did not give us the gift of the Cross to prove to us his power. He had already provided us such proof in the contest with the Egyptians. The proof of his power by the Cross was incidental. His contest with the Romans was all about proof of love . The Cross of Christ was the verification of the authenticity of the love note.

The proof of the magnitude of his love for us (the 'M' in the acronym, PMI) is found on the near side of the Cross not on its far side. To publish the Autobiography of God, a price was paid . He paid the price of publication out of his own pocket. He did not pay the price from his unlimited divine resources. He paid the price from his limited human resources. He paid them all for us. He kept not a penny for himself. He has never paid more for anything else . The price he paid matters . It is the proof of how dear we are to him. His willingness to pay an exorbitant price to publish the magnitude and intransigence of his love for us is the verification of their authenticity. The serpent did not pay a price for us. Jesus did and the price he paid was exorbitant.

The proof of the intransigence of his love for us (the 'I' in the acronym, PMI) is found in the survival of his love for us on the far side of the Cross despite the meat grinder we put him through on the near side of the Cross. We tortured and killed him. He suffered and died. But he did not stop loving us. He emerged from the dead still in love with us. That he emerged from the dead still in love with us is the proof that our conception of divinity as power is incomplete. Divinity is also love.

"...in Catholic doctrine there exists a "hierarchy" of truths..." . The Cross of Christ sits at the top of the hierarchy of truths.

The Cross of Christ is the throne of God . From the throne of God, the good news of great joy is preached. The throne of God is foundation on which the Church is built. But the Church has neglected its foundation. It has deferred maintenance and care of its foundation while it pursues other projects. Compared to the importance of the foundation of the Church, the other projects are frivolous - all of the other projects are frivolous - no exceptions - when compared to the Cross of Christ.

Jesus impaled on the Cross like a worm on a hook is the bait that the most Holy Trinity cast into the valley of tears to fish for the children of Adam and Eve . The modern Church, however, no longer baits the hook with the Cross of Christ. Yet, it is surprised that it is no longer catching fish. In fact, it makes a virtue out of a necessity. It calls its failure a success . It compliments itself by claiming its smaller Church is purer. However, its self-compliment is undeserved. The decline of the Church is not due to a healthy process of purification. The decline is the result of disease. The foundation on which the Church is built is the Cross of Christ. The Church is destroying its own foundation. By keeping the Cross of Christ on the sidelines instead of in the game, the Church is committing suicide. Pope Emeritus Benedict understands that the Church must undergo a "trial of sifting" in order to emerge as "a more spiritualized and simplified Church". A "more spiritualized and simplified Church" is a Church that is built on the foundation of the Cross of Christ. Let us restore the foundation of the Church. Let us return to the Cross of Christ.

Today, the children of Adam and Eve are not interested in Kings. They are interested in Prophets. Many are leaving the Church because the Church is more King than Prophet. They do not need their Church to rule them. They need their Church to reveal God to them. The children of Adam and Eve do not need a King who beats us over the head with the scepter of sin until our souls are black, blue, battered, bruised and bleeding. The children of Adam and Eve need a Prophet who holds up the Cross of Christ so we can look into the face of God by gazing at his self-portrait. There is an unpleasant tension between the Church that wants to be King and the Church that wants to be Prophet - the Church that wants to rule us versus the Church that wants to reveal God to us. The Church cannot be both King and Prophet . It must choose. The Church fails when it chooses to be King. The Church succeeds when it chooses to be Prophet. When the Church becomes Prophet, the people become Kings - we govern ourselves. Therefore, more revelation; less regulation. More Mary; less Martha. More God; less Church. More worry over the identity of God; less worry over our identity as Catholics.

The Church is the usher who shows us to our seats. It is God, however, who puts on the show. The Church fails when it thinks it is the star of the show.

The thermometer that gauges the temperature of the body of Christ is the practice of Christianity. By this measure, the patient is dying.

The New York City Police Department runs a program of self-criticism called CompStat by which it uses crime statistics to evaluate the job performance of its bosses. Given the deplorable Catholic statistics, if such a program were applied to the bosses of the Catholic Church, how many heads would roll? Shall we wait until the number for Mass attendance falls into the single digits before the bosses of the Catholic Church are fired for incompetency?

Do you want to fill your empty Churches? Do you want to fill the depleted ranks of your clergy? Do you want to transform godless people into people of God? Do you want to increase the resemblance that we bear to God? What diocese has the "cogliones" to conduct an experiment? What boss of the Church will put the Cross of Christ into a petri dish? Give us your "worst" Church. Give us a Church that is failing. Give us your "worst" pastor. But dedicate them to the Cross of Christ. Let the pastor be the Prophet who reveals God to his congregation rather than the King who tries to rule them. Let the pastor look at the world through the lense of suffering rather than the lens of sin. Give us a pastor who understands why God wants us to pick up and carry our crosses rather than eliminate them. Give us a pastor who understands that Jesus tranported from heaven to earth the grease that lubricates the wheels of our passage through the valley of tears. Let the pastor stand aside in the wings of his Church so God himself can take the center stage to preach to us the good news of great joy from the pulpit of the Cross . Let the pastor hold the Cross of Christ high so his congregation can look at the face of God by gazing at the self-portrait that Jesus painted of God on the canvas of the Cross in the pigments of torture and death. Let the pastor open the Biography of God and read it to us so we can listen to the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. Then the choirs of angels themselves will fill the Church to worship our God with us. As he (or she) points to the bloody wounds on his body that hangs from the Crucifix in back of the altar of the Church, your pastor will proclaim that God has returned this day to the Church. Let the word go forth . Tell your friends and family the good news of great joy. God has returned this day to the Church and is waiting for you! The Holy Spirit is tugging at your souls. But only the curious are following the tug back to its source. Are you curious?

In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?
(William Blake, )


I have seized the fire. I have dug up the treasure of Christianity. I have read the Autobiography of God. I have looked at the face of God by gazing at God's self-portrait . I know the answer to the question, 'Who is God?'. It has opened my eyes and transformed my life. My hand holds the tail of the Tyger. Now, pray tell, what the heck do I do with it?

Rejoice. Your salvation has arrived. You have hit the jackpot. Bend your knees and worship him. Sing his praises. Express your gratitude. Beg forgiveness for your sins. Dance. Whirl like dervishes. Put on a wedding garment . Cue the fireworks. Release the confetti. Sound the trumpets. Strike up the band. Whatever you do, don't let go. Follow the Tygre back home to paradise. Join the new exodus, served by the new Moses, the Church. The new exodus is making its escape, as the Jews made their escape, through the hostile desert of godlessness from slavery under the yoke of Pharaoh to freedom with God and his Holy Family in the promised land. Run with the Tygre as fast as you can! Run home. Take as many as you can with you.

Would it be possible to reserve the center stage of Christianity to the Cross of Christ at least 25% of the time? Is 25% too much to ask? Will you yield the spotlight on the center stage of Christianity to the Cross of Christ?

Has God done anything to mitigate the direness of our predicament as we stew like pickles marinating in a barrel of brine amongst our crosses in the valley of tears? Is God only concerned with our sin or is God also concerned with our suffering?

The sweetness of paradise dilutes the sourness of godlessness in the same manner that the sweetness of sugar cubes dilutes the sourness of a cup of chocolate.

The flower of the Resurrection emerged from the toxic soil of the Crucifixion. Nothing grows in the toxic soil of the Crucifixion. Nothing. It is a barren matrix. So when the flower of the Resurrection sprouted and grew, we beheld a miracle. The flower of the Resurrection is remediating the toxicity of the soil.

Having stewed in the pig sty like a pickle that marinates in a barrel of brine, will the prodigal son ever return there ? When the gift of paradise is delivered to the prodigal son, will he keep it or will he fumble the ball? God does not want us just to get the gift of paradise. God wants us to keep it as well. God has, therefore, taken measures to make sure that we keep it. One of the measures is to insert a delay between the gift of life and the gift of paradise. God tweaked the timetable for the delivery of his gifts. Instead of simultaneous delivery, God instituted a policy of sequential delivery for the children of Adam and Eve. During the delay, we wander in the valley of tears and we taste for ourselves the sourness of godlessness. God lets us put our fingers in the flame to teach us that the fire is hot. Why? "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" . The prodigal son is never going back to the pig sty. Neither are we. Our experience in the valley of tears teaches us that it is hostile territory. The serpent bullshitted us. His testimony that we become gods without God in the valley of tears is a big, fat lie. God's pedagogy is severe. But it works. God prescribes harsh but effective medicine. When the gift of paradise is delivered to us, we will not fumble the ball as Lucifer did, as the gaggle of angels who followed Lucifer did, as Eve did, as Adam did and as the prodigal son did. Our "education" tells us to cling to the gift of paradise, hold tight and refuse to let go.

God plans to deliver the gift of paradise to us just as he delivered the gift of paradise to Adam and Eve. God will not be less generous with us than he was with them. Adam and Eve were the first beneficiaries of God’s love for us. They were not the last. God’s philanthropy did not end with Adam and Eve; God’s philanthropy began with them. This is good news of great joy - very good news for us indeed.

Indeed, God is actively engaged in the process of rescuing us. However, God's concept of rescue is different than our concept of rescue . We want God to eliminate the crosses that nail themselves to us as we pass through the valley of tears. We want God to transform the valley of tears into a kinder, gentler and more hospitable place for godless people to live. The ship of godlessness, however, is sinking. God does not want to save the ship. God wants to save the passengers. God wants to transform godless people into people of God. The means by which God transforms godless people into people of God is the challenge of the cross. The challenge of the cross is the agent of transformation. God wants the grist to go through the mill - the meat to go through the grinder - us to go through the ringer . God's pedagogy is severe. God prescribes harsh medicine to rescue us from our dire predicament in the valley of tears. But the medicine is effective. Therefore, God does not eliminate our crosses. God challenges us to to pick them up and carry them . The million dollar question is "What is the secret to picking up and carrying our crosses?" "How do we do it?" "How do we embrace the challenge of our crosses?" [Hint: The challenge of our crosses is just another name for the problem of suffering a/k/a the problem of evil . Jesus transported the solution to the problem of suffering from heaven to earth and demonstrated that the solution works by using it himself. Jesus donned the jet pack and flew to show us that we too can fly. What a crazy daredevil this Jesus was!]

Who am I? I am Simon . God called me to help him carry his Cross . In response to his call, I became a servant of the Cross of Christ. God gave me my job. He is my boss. I take my orders directly from him . But don't be jealous. It is not as glamorous a job as it sounds. Far from it. No pay, long hours, difficulties and headaches . The life of a servant of God is not a bowl of cherries. How did I get my job? Late in life, I realized that I was unemployed . I was working for myself but was doing no work for God. I came to the conclusion that this was unacceptable . So I started to listen for God's call . When God advertised the job, I answered the advertisement. I discerned the role God wants me to play for him in the world.

When God recruited me to join his team, he wanted to start me at the bottom doing manual labor. I became a stagehand - a mover - a packhorse - a mule that carries things to and fro. I became a beast of burden. My job was relocation. God wants me to take the Cross of Christ out of storage, dust it off and bring it back under the spotlight on the center stage of Christianity.

The Cross of Christ is the treasure chest of Christianity . What treasure does the Cross of Christ hold? In the treasure chest of Christianity is a work of art - a masterpiece. In the treasure chest of Christianity is the self-portrait of God. The self-portrait of God is a high fidelity representation of the reality of God - far higher in fidelity than any representation of God made by human hands. Jesus himself painted the self-portrait of God on the canvas of the Cross in the pigments of torture and death. The self-portrait enriches our understanding of God. Truths emerged from the Cross of Christ that illuminate the darkness of our understanding of God in a glorious burst of epiphany. The truths are the good news of great joy. The truths are God's gift to the curious who seek the answer to the question, 'Who is God?'. Are you curious? "[Blessed are the curious. The Holy Spirit is tugging at our souls but only the curious are following the tug back to its source. Along the way, we are discovering the mystery, majesty and magnificence of God.] God wants me to share the truths of the Cross with you.

However, transporting the Cross of Christ to the center stage of Christianity is not a one man job. I cannot do this job alone. I need help. God wants me to recruit more Simons to work for him as servants of the Cross of Christ. Therefore, I am offering you a job. Can you help me carry his Cross? I need help lugging the Cross of Christ from the 'prop' department where it has languished in obscurity back to the center stage of Christianity.

Isn't the Cross of Christ the center of the universe from which all aspects of Christianity radiate ? Isn't the Cross of Christ the star of the show ? Doesn't the Cross of Christ deserve to stand in the spotlight on the center stage of Christianity ? Therefore, can we reserve the center stage of Christianity exclusively for the Cross of Christ for at least 25% of the time? Is 25% too much to ask? Will you yield 25% of the spotlight on the center stage of Christianity to the Cross of Christ?

WARNING: The center stage of Christianity is booked solid. There is no room for the Cross of Christ at the Inn . Some Christians have their own pet agendas - their own favorite aspects of Christianity - that they showcase on the center stage of Christianity. Showcasing the Cross of Christ on the center stage of Christianity means that their pet agendas are bumped to the periphery. In their zeal for their pet agendas, they refuse to yield the spotlight to the Cross of Christ. The Christians with their pet agendas have become the opposition to moving the Cross of Christ to the spotlight on the center stage of Christianity. Their refusal to yield the spotlight to the Cross of Christ is doing real damage to Christianity. Their refusal muffles the good news of great joy. It keeps the veil on the self-portrait of God. It puts the lighted candle under a bushel basket . The failure to focus the attention of the children of Adam and Eve upon the Cross of Christ keeps the identity of God in the shadows. God stays a stranger to us and nobody follows a stranger .

Jesus himself painted the self-portrait of God on the canvas of the cross in the pigments of torture and death. The self-portrait of God is a high fidelity representation of the reality of God - far higher in fidelity than any representation of God made by human hands.

The difference between the serpent and Jesus is that Jesus gave us proof of his love for us. He gave us the gift of the Cross.

The bone that Jesus threw to the dogs was the Cross of Christ. He gave the dogs the Cross to chew on .

The truth is the fuel for our rationality. When fueled by the truth, our rationality steers us in the right direction. When the fuel of truth is fouled by illusion, our rationality leads us astray.

The serpent distorted our perception of reality by fouling the fuel of truth with illusion. The serpent conjured up an illusion that sugarcoated the sourness of godlessness. The sugarcoating was the serpent's testimony that we would become gods without God in the valley of tears . The sugarcoating of the valley of tears was the primary illusion. It, however, was not the only illusion. Obfuscating the sweetness of paradise was the secondary illusion. The valley of tears is hostile territory. Many and merciless are crosses that nail themselves to us as we pass through the valley of tears. Our crosses stand between us and the sweetness of paradise. We cannot see through them. While we are crucified to them, our crosses are the problems that monopolize our entire attention. They block our perception of the sweetness of paradise. How can paradise be sweet, when the valley of tears is so sour?

Evangelization is the process of shattering the illusions that distort our perception of reality. When the illusions are shattered, the sweetness of paradise and the sourness of godlessness become visible to us. Rational creatures seek the sweetness of paradise and flee the sourness of godlessness. It is contrary to our self-interest to do otherwise. It is crazy to do otherwise.The truth is the sledgehammer that shatters the illusions as the blow of a hammer shatters glass. "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" . All truth? No, most truth is irrelevant. The truth that matters is the subset of truth that applies to the sweetness of paradise and the sourness of godlessness.

To rescue us from our dire predicament in the valley of tears, God paints on the canvas of our rationality with the pigments of truth. The sledgehammer of truth is the brush of salvation and God is the artist who wields it.

The Holy Spirit is tugging at our souls. The curious are following the tug back to its Source. Along the way, the curious are exploring the mystery, majesty and magnificence of God. The Church is the tour guide with more than two thousand years of experience. Surely a Church with more than two millennia of experience knows a thing or two about the sights to see along the way? Surely such an experienced Church has the map and knows the way? Aren't you curious?

What drives the new exodus along the escape route? The engines of truth drive the new exodus on the escape route from godlessness to paradise. There are two (2) engines of truth. They generate the current of salvation. Either is sufficient to carry us to our salvation. Both are not necessary. The sourness of godlessness pushes us to its exit. The sweetness of paradise pulls us to its entrance. It is easier to be pulled by the sweetness of paradise than be pushed by the sourness of godlessness. A word to the wise is sufficient. Standing like a colossus at the nexus between the entrance of paradise and the exit of godlessness is Jesus. Through his bloody wounds the great leap is made from time to eternity . He is the way . "No man cometh unto the Father, but by me." .

Jealous of God's love for us, the serpent tries to poke a hole in God's heart to drain it of his love for us. We are the sharp stake that the serpent drives into the heart of God to drain it of his love for us. Salvation history is the story of the serpent's failures. The serpent's repeated failures illuminate the darkness of our understanding of God in glorious bursts of epiphany. They reveal to us the nature of God. The truth about God emerges from the serpent's failures to poke a hole in God's heart to drain it of his love for us. In the light of the serpent's failures we behold that God's love for us is immutable - intransigent - indestructible. Wow! God's love for us is real - a reality proven again and again. Reality is reliable. The reality of his love for us is the rock on which the wise build their lives. The serpent's greatest failure is recounted in the Autobiography of God. Have you read the Autobiography of God? Surely, the serpent reasoned, if the children of Adam and Eve tortured and killed the Son of God while he was human, alive, tender, vulnerable and their guest upon the earth, this egregious insult to the sublimity of divinity would extinguish the bonfire of love that burns for them in the heart of God! But, it did not. The evil we did to him did not extinguish the bonfire of love that burns for us in his most Sacred Heart or reduce its intensity by even the slightest degree. His love for us survived the evil we did to him.

What is the insanity of Christianity?

We are the beneficiaries of Jesus's glorious victory over the serpent who tried but failed to drain the most Sacred Heart of Jesus of his love for us even though we did the serpent's dirty work for him. Isn't such magnanimity to an enemy most astonishing ?

Let us not confuse cause and effect. Wrapping ourselves in the rules, regulations, red tape and rigmarole of the Church as a patriot wraps himself in the flag is the effect of transformation - not its cause. Moreover, we are warned against hollow transformations - transformations only in appearance but not in substance . Dressing up as a Catholic does not make it so . The Catholic identity is hard to spot because it exists below the surface in our hearts. Transformation is all about increasing the fidelity of our resemblance to God. The greater the love that we hold in our hearts, the higher is the fidelity that our resemblance bears to God . Transformation takes place when we refuse to let evil transmogrify us into the most miserable and hideous of loveless beasts. We are transformed when we cling to love, hold tight and refuse to let go. "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" . Jesus hung from his Cross to teach us how to hang from our crosses. When you hang as Jesus hung, cling as Jesus clung, love as Jesus loved. Hold tight and refuse to let go of love, sufferings invincible foe. Only love kicks suffering's ass.

The greatest danger to Christianity is posed by Christians whose zeal for Christianity exceeds their understanding of Christianity. Their zeal is to be admired . Their lack of understanding is to be corrected. Many zealous Christian are not privy to the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. They have not read the Autobiography of God. They are ignorant of the good news of great joy. They do not know where the treasure chest of Christianity is buried. They do not know what the treasure chest of Christianity contains . Jesus did not write the Autobiography of God in words. It is ironic but the Word of God wasn't an author. He was a carpenter . The carpenter built the Autobiography of God on the framework of the Cross. Upon the framework of the Cross, Christianity is built. It is not built around the rules, regulations, red tape and rigmarole of the Church. The Cross of Christ is the Master. The rules, regulations, red tape and rigmarole of the Church are its servant. We do not become a Christian by wrapping ourselves in the rules, regulations, red tape and rigmarole of the Church as a patriot wraps himself up in the flag. We become a Christian when we fill our hearts with love for each other . "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" . Without love, we are a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal - nothing more . We become Christians as we increase the fidelity of our resemblance to God. The greater the love that we hold in our hearts, the higher is the fidelity that our resemblance bears to God . We become Christians when we refuse to let evil transmogrify us into the most miserable and hideous of loveless beasts. We become Christians when we cling to love, hold tight and refuse to let go. Therefore, the Cross of Christ belongs on the center stage of Christianity and nothing else. The showcase of Chrisitanity contains the Cross of Christ.

Many Christians are fighting the wrong war. In their minds, they think of themselves as crusaders fighting the enemies of God in a holy war on a bloody battlefield. In reality, they are children whacking each other over the head in the sandbox of grandiosity with plastic shovels and plastic pails. Their martial spirit is greatly admired. However, it is time to put away childish things . It is time for them to stop day-dreaming, to step out of the sandbox, to take off the short pants of children and to put on the long pants of adults. There is a real war going on and we need all hands on deck to fight it. It is time to stop whacking each other on the head with plastic pails and plastic shovels. We need to re-arm ourselves with real weapons - weapons that matter - that have an effect. We need to take up the cudgel of the Cross. We need to beat each other over the head with the cudgel of the Cross until its meaning is well understood . Have you been properly introduced to your God? Have you made his acquaintance? Our God introduced himself to us from the pulpit of the Cross. On the Cross, he wrote his autobiography. Jesus did not write the Autobiography of God in words. It is ironic but the Word of God wasn't an author. He was a carpenter . The carpenter built the Autobiography of God on the framework of the Cross. From the Cross, God himself gave us an answer to the question, 'Who is God?'. From the Cross, he put on a demonstration. He showed himself to us.

The bloody wounds of Jesus are the badges by which our evil disfigured him to commemorate his glorious victory over the serpent who tried but failed to drain the most Sacred Heart of Jesus of his love for us. Surprisingly, we did the serpent's dirty work for him yet we are the beneficiaries of Jesus's glorious victory. Isn't such magnanimity to an enemy who impaled him on a cross like a worm on a hook most astonishing ? The badges that we pinned on him are the memorials that remind us that his love for us survived the evil we did to him. His bloody wounds are the rainbow of the new covenant between our God and us .

A beautiful, symbiotic dance between question and answer weaved its way through his bloody wounds like to tie the Crucifixion and the Resurrection together into a conversation - the greatest conversation that has ever taken place between us and our God! Do you know the steps of the dance? Have you listened to the music to which the Crucifixion and the Resurrection danced ?

The treasure of Christianity is the segment of the narrative of salvation that passes from the Crucifixion, through his bloody wounds , to the Resurrection. As the narrative of salvation passes through his bloody wounds like , it takes the form of a beautiful, symbiotic dance between question and answer that ties the Crucifixion and Resurrection together into a conversation - the greatest conversation that has ever taken place between us and our God. The Crucifixion and the Resurrection are the two sides of a conversation between us and our God. In the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, the Autobiography of God was written - the identity of God was revealed to us. In the Autobiography of God, Jesus, the carpenter , whittled for us out of the wood of the Cross a high fidelity representation of the reality of God. In the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, a demonstration of the identity of God was produced for us. Jesus did not just tell us in words the answer to the question, "Who is God?". He showed us the answer to us in deeds. He put on a demonstration. Words can be misconstrued. His demonstration cannot.

Why is the segment of the narrative of salvation that passes from the Crucifixion, through his bloody wounds, to the Resurrection the treasure of Christianity?

Because truths emerged from the conversation to illuminate the darkness of our understanding of God in a glorious burst of epiphany. Enlightenment about God is found by listening to the exchange of question and answer. The fruit of the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection is a high fidelity representation of the reality of God. [Note: Compare the fruit of this conversation with the fruit of the conversation between the serpent and Adam and Eve. One conversation led to our fall; the other conversation leads to our rise.] In the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, the beautiful, symbiotic dance between question and answer reached its climax. At the climax of the conversation, the Word of God sowed the knowledge of God into the womb of humanity . We became pregnant with the knowledge of God . The veil of the temple was rent in twain from top to bottom , and God stepped out from behind the veil to show himself to us. In the unveiling of God, the sweetness of paradise was made known to us. We behold that Jesus is the indissoluble marriage of power and love for us - absolute and perfect. His power made paradise for us. His love for us, however, makes paradise sweet. Power begets respect but love begets love.

In the Cross of Christ, the Autobiography of God is told. During the telling, the answer to the question, 'Who is God?' is revealed to us. In the telling, Jesus fashioned for us a high fidelity representation of the reality of God. The source of our knowledge of God is the Cross of Christ . The Cross of Christ rent the veil of the temple in twain from top to bottom and God stepped out from behind the veil to show himself to us. In the unveiling of God, the sweetness of paradise was made known to us. Truths emerged from the Cross of Christ that illuminate the darkness of our understanding of God in a glorious burst of epiphany . In the light of these truths, the world looks different.

Where is the treasure of Christianity buried ? The treasure of Christianity is buried in the bloody wounds of Jesus. What is the treasure of Christianity? The treasure of Christianity is the knowledge of God. It is the answer to the question, 'Who is God?' "What a paradise it is for a soul when the heart knows itself to be so loved by God." (St. Faustina - Notebook VI, 1756). Note: Christians are spelunkers trying to discover the good news of great joy buried in the bloody wounds of Jesus.

His bloody wounds are the telescope that our evil installed in his body. When we look through the telescope of his bloody wounds from the Crucifixion to the Resurrection, we catch a glimpse of heaven from here on earth. The nearsighted only look at the Crucifixion on the near side of his bloody wounds. The farsighted look through his bloody wounds from the Crucifixion to the Resurrection on their far side. Amongst the farsighted are the wise who see the third dimension of the Cross, that is, the connection between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. The connection is the relationship of question and answer that weaves its way through his bloody wounds to tie the Crucifixion and the Resurrection into a conversation - the greatest conversation that the children of Adam and Eve have ever had with their God.

In the Cross of Christ, the Autobiography of God is told. In the telling, the answer to the question 'Who is God?' is revealed to us.

Jesus wrote the Autobiography of God in his passion, death and resurrection. In the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, he painted his self-portrait. Have you read his autobiography? Have you viewed his self-portrait?

Truths emerged with him when he rose from the dead to illuminate the darkness of our understanding of God in a glorious burst of epiphany . Do you look at the world in the light of these truths?

God's power made paradise for us. God's love for us, however, makes paradise sweet. Knowing that God loves us makes a difference - it makes all of the difference in the world. "What a paradise it is for a soul when the heart knows itself to be so loved by God." (St. Faustina - Notebook VI, 1756). Whom shall we fear? Of whom shall we be afraid ? Will our almighty lover ever let us down? Will he ever disappoint? His love for us is real. Reality is reliable. Illusion is not. We can depend on the reality of his love for us. His love for us is the rock on which the wise build their house. His love for us is the lifeline that God throws to us who are tossed overboard in the stormy sea after our ship is sunk. We have a lifeline onto which we can grab hold (Matthew 14:30-31). This is the good news of great joy.