I have been reflecting over the last several weeks on the meaning of "consciousness" or "conscious," which is of course the root of the word "consciousness." It can be secularly defined as "aware of one's own existence, sensations, thoughts, surroundings or aware of oneself." Fr. Richard Rhor in some of his lecture series, describes it as a state of being, where you are essentially in communion with God, life and love, you are living in the now, you are living out of the true self.
So as I press my mind to understand this concept and how to make it my reality, I've started to put some thoughts together. One, is that in order to be in communion with God we must take time to pray daily and more importantly, without words. Two, one must reflect on the Gospel. I see no other way to truly know how to live a life of God and love (which is what we were created for) if we do not model ourselves after Christ's example in the Gospel, our life must become one with how he lived his life, hence being in communion, existing as how God made us to be. Third, is action. For quite sometime I sadly have to admit that I would attend Mass regularly, pray daily and heck, even went to Catholic school and was a Catholic school teacher, but I did not consciously put into action the Gospel, I was not deliberate about it. I am realizing now that this is part of being "conscious." We must choose and deliberately act to live out the Gospel, because this is who we are, this is our true self or what Francis called the "inner self." The Gospel lived out deliberately each day is consciousness! Wow! How did I not see this? Why do I talk the talk, but do not walk the Gospel walk! It even calls us to the present moment, which is consciousness itself, which is living in the now, which is all God guarantees (Matthew 6:25-34). Why do I struggle to accept this?
To be conscious of who we are, is to seek who God made us to be. This is an act of humility for many reasons, but one especially, because it means being who we are, no more or no less, and that is completely enough for our Father, because that is truth. Truth is humility. Once we begin to see this, we can live in a conscious state of communion with God and his creation and we can deliberately choose to connect this all to the Gospel and use it as our rule of life. I think if we do this, we will be at peace with what we discover. Some of us, may meet ourselves for the first time and be blown away with what God created! With this, I would like to leave you with these words:
"From without, I may seem to be quite average and ordinary,
but from within, through self reflection, I see myself as unique, precious, unprecedented;
I am not to be exchanged for anything else.
Beyond the distress and anxiety and busy-ness of life
lies this most fundamental aspect of self-reflection:
I am a great moment, I am an original, not a copy." ~ Heschel
May we reach that level of consciousness, where accepting ourselves as who God made us to be is more than enough and we can connect it directly and deliberately to the Gospel life. This is a radical challenge in our modern day of individualism and secularism and it can cause division and force us to leave the self we thought we were behind, but if we are to be true to God's creation, we have no other choice! We are special, we are original copies, no more, no less. Through living the Gospel, we can begin to consciously and deliberately see this beautiful reality unfold and live it.
Peace and all good things to you!
Dictionary.com, "Concious." Retrieved March 26, 2011 from: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/conscious
Richard, Rohr. (2003) True Self/False Self. St. Anthony Messenger Press.
Bodo, Murray. St. Francis: The Journey and The Dream. St. Anthony Messenger Press: October 30, 2006.