Author Archives: GMC

A Message From Shalom Snail

Dear Readers,

Thank you for following Shalom Snail, which made its debut at The Victor’s Place in May 2020. With Fr. Victor’s blessing, Shalom Snail: Journey to Wholeness, was launched on October 7, 2021. Due to technical challenges, the site underwent a change of hosting in July 2022. With stable WordPress hosting now, all Shalom Snail posts will be permanently accessible on its home site. A link to Shalom Snail can be found on the sidebar of The Victor’s Place. Our blog posts have always been complementary as we follow the daily Scripture readings and saints, so may they continue to be a blessing to you.

Shalom,
Gloria M. Chang

The Christic Body-Tree

Tree of Christ and the Apostles

23rd Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday (Year II)

Luke 6:43-49

“For every tree is known by its own fruit… A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good… for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:44-45).

Jesus Christ, our theandric Body and organism, is the living tree out of which persons flourish and grow. The Heart of the Body-Tree overflows with the fruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). When we lose our ego boundaries and acquire the Heart of Christ, individualism dissolves and gives way to the emergence of unique persons in the Womb of the Father. The Spirit who anoints persons with distinct ”tongues of fire” fashions unique icons of Christ in the Body-Tree.

The source of life in the Sacred Heart and Tree is the Holy Spirit flowing from within:

“…but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14).

“Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as scripture says: ‘Rivers of living water will flow from within him’” (John 7:37-38).

Five centuries before the Incarnation, the Buddha was enlightened under a Bodhi tree, a sacred fig tree known as the “tree of awakening.” The young man, Siddhārtha Gautama, sought wisdom and liberation with all of his energy. If he had met the selfless and compassionate Christ, would he have found a kindred spirit? 

Our prayers and meditations under and within the Christic Body-Tree connect us with Life and Light itself, who is tri-personal. May the Holy Spirit enlighten us and make us one in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

-GMC

My Neighbor is Myself

23rd Week in Ordinary Time, Friday (Year II)

Luke 6:39-42

Divided consciousness sees reality as broken up into pieces. Human individuals are broken fragments of the cosmos endowed with consciousness. Persons transcend individuation and encompass the whole cosmos—divinity and humanity, heaven and earth—through Jesus Christ. Persons in the Trinity (divine and human) dwell within one another and constitute one theandric Body. 

Personal consciousness is indivisible and all-inclusive: all persons and all creatures in the universe share kinship in the Father’s Womb.

Individual consciousness projects boundaries and limits, measurements and conceptual fences. Lines of demarcation between “I” and “Thou,” “this” and “that,” “East” and “West,” “North” and “South,” “black” and “white,” section and divide the indivisible universe into “mine” and “thine,” and “us” and “them.” 

When we peep out of our individual selves to measure the outside world, the measurement is always partial. The fragment that measures is itself a part of that which it measures. Thus, in the famous “double-slit experiment” in quantum mechanics, comprehensive knowledge of the object-in-itself is unobtainable because the sheer act of observing interferes with the behavior of the particle under study. According to physicist Pascual Jordan, “Observations not only disturb what has to be measured, they produce it… we ourselves produce the results of measurements.” 

Science is learning that there is no such thing as an “object-in-itself.” All things hang together. A reciprocal coinherence or perichoresis binds all of reality in the unity of the Trinity.

The measuring mind, the measure (ruler, instrument), and the object measured are all one. Human consciousness is an inseparable dimension of the universe. In classical physics, precise measurements depended on the assumption of a real separation between subject and object. Thus objects “out there,” severed from the self, could be measured by a detached observer. Quantum physics reveals that the observer mysteriously participates “in” the reality under observation. 

The fragment of the universe that always escapes measurement is like our own face. It is impossible to see one’s own face directly. We can only see it with the aid of a medium, such as a mirror, water, or photograph. Therefore what is seen is not the face in itself but its reflection through the instrument.

If knowledge at the subject-object level is fragmentary, how does one “see” reality truly? We must turn to the Blessed Trinity.

How do the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit “see” one another “face to face to face?” Notice that the words we use to think and speak about interpersonal relationships are derived from spatial experience. The notion of “face to face” comes from divided individuals. Our effort to know is already handicapped by our linguistic instruments. Nevertheless, recognition of our handicap is a solid step forward to real knowledge. 

The divine persons, as pure spirit, do not behold one another in spatial extension. Their very coinherence is what our world calls “knowledge” and “love.” Human philosophy, in turn, derived knowledge and love from the divisions of intellect and will, and subject and object. 

In the coinherence or perichoresis of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each person is inseparable from the others. Being is Love is Communion. Since nothing divides the persons—not a line, word, or thought—perichoresis transcends the divisions of knower and known, lover and loved. Without spatial dimensions, there is no going out or coming in (knowing and loving according to earthly concepts). The dynamism of divine communion exceeds our conceptual apparatus. 

Applied to our human condition, the way to union and communion with our neighbor (beyond knowledge and love) is to find each person at one with ourselves. Persons are inseparable, one within the other. Distance and measure separates individuals, but persons are immeasurable. Persons have no spatial dimension. 

To be a person is to live the truth that my neighbor is myself, distinct only by the unique identities conceived in the Immaculate Womb of the Father, source of personhood.

“For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you” (Luke 6:38). Such warnings are directed to measuring individuals. When we find our neighbors at one with ourselves in the Father’s Womb, measurement is abandoned.

“No disciple is superior to the teacher; but when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40). The Holy Spirit, our trainer and coach, will transform us into one Body in Christ, unique persons, in the Blessed Trinity.

-GMC

Children of the Father

Mosaic of the Sermon on the Mount (Ravenna, Italy)

23rd Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday (Year II)

Luke 6:27-38

Jesus said to his disciples: “To you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you… Be merciful, just as also your Father is merciful.”

The Father sent his Son into the world to transform it by union with himself, energizing the very dust of the cosmos with the breath of the Holy Spirit. The second person of the Trinity became an individual among individuals to lead us beyond the empirical boundaries of individuation to the authentic freedom of personhood. 

Christ’s forgiveness of his enemies from the Cross tore down dividing walls and invited reconciliation with himself, the Father, and the Holy Spirit. Love overcame the fear of death, for other persons were his very life. Jesus’ whole being cried out for the restoration of a divided, ego-centered humanity. 

The permeable communion of persons in communion infinitely surpasses the society of bounded egos. One’s own good and the good of others is one and the same good. Persons conceived in the Womb of the Father are selfless like himself and good “to the bone.” When we see other persons as one with us in the same Immaculate Womb, “enemies” become children of the Father. 

The Holy Spirit alone can divinize our nature so that love becomes first nature and first impulse. Confidence in the Holy Spirit’s transforming power is a first step to cooperating with divine grace.

-GMC