ucfallbookstudy

                   

Fall Program 2019

    

 

       

The Universal Christ

             By Rev. Richard Rohr, O.F.M.

A process to transform our understanding and relationship with the Christ, ourselves, others and the planet.

 

Study Guide for In-Home Heart Circles

 

 

INTRODUCTION

I am always astounded when I find the next great book for us to study. I thought last year’s book would be a hard act to follow , but lo and behold, Fr. Richard Rohr comes out with The Universal Christ. Itis the natural follow on from what we studied last year, and it just feels like we are Divinely guided to the next step in ourevolution.

Have you ever been confused about the distinction between Jesus and the Christ? We know that Unity has its own way of under- standing it that is different from mainstream Christianity. Fr. Rohr, a Franciscian theologian of good standing, recently published a seminal work on the issue. His book outlines the clear distinction between Jesus and the Christ, backing it up with scriptural reference and historical writings down through the centuries. And guess what? It is exactly what Unity has been teaching for over 125 years. Also, the book delves into issues and questions that are pertinent to our time, and to a further clarification of what it means to be a Christian or a Church. I found that the book brought these issues home to me in a very personal way, not just in an intellectual or speculative way. He writes with such clarity and authority. I dare you to read this book and not be moved to the depth of your soul. It is also a book that you might want to share with your friends and family who call themselves Christian, and who are not of the Unity perspective. It might lead to some wonderful conversations and insights.

Rev. Jerry

 

 

Dear Study Group Companion,

Welcome to the “The Universal Christ” Heart Circles study groups. Heart Circles are experiential gatherings of soul

companions who:

1). Support, nourish and inspire one another’s spiritual journeys.

2). Share and learn together.

3). Hold each other in prayer during the week.

4)  Use the daily Three Centers Meditations.

Reading assignments for this year’s study are takenfrom “The Universal Christ” by Fr. Richard Rohr. This is a book that focuses on specific spiritual questions that can transfor our lives and help us evolve to a deeper level of consciousness.Using the material in this book can bring about useful and beneficial change in our lives, and indeed in the world.

Insights and discoveries are shared andreading materials are discussed in each Heart Circle gathering. You may want to keep a journal of your thoughts each week. We celebrate your participation and anticipate the resulting spiritual transformation to come for us all. In the Love of The One, expressing as the All.

Rev. Jerry

 

Heart Circle Guidelines

 

Confidentiality:  Everything discussed in the Circle stays within the Circle. “What you see here, what you hear here, when you leave here, let it stay here.”

Commitment:  Study companions arrive on time prepared to participate by having read the material beforehand.

Sharing:  Study companions refrain from offering advice and attempting to “fix” anyone's life challenges.

Time:  Study companions are mindful to keep their sharing brief and to the point so that all companions have an opportunity to share equally.

 

Ice Breaker For The First Meeting

Study Group Companion Introductions

Pair up with the person next to you and spend three minutes interviewing each other

using the topics below.

You will be introducing your partner to the group so you may want to take notes.

 InterviewTopics

*  Name:

*  Length of time attending Unity in the Gold Country

*  Prior experience, if any, with spiritual study groups or other prayer groups

*  Reason for feeling called to participate in this HeartCircle

 *. What you would like to gain from participating in this Heart Circle?

When the three minutes are up, take turns introducing the person you paired up with.

 

 

Each week we will be using the 3 fold meditation practice ( head/heart/gut) from Paul Smith’s Integralchristiannetwork.org

 

THREE FOLD BLESSINGS AND MOTIONS

Hands reaching upward

God beyond me/us, in whom I/we live, move and  have our being.

Praying hands

God beside me/us, you are always with me/us.

Hands crossed embracing heart

God being me/us. I am/we are the Light of the world.

 

Part I : Another Name For Everything 

Week 1 :       Before We Begin pgs. 1—8

     Christ Is Not Jesus’ Last Name pgs. 11— 23

 

Weekly Affirmation —“The Christ in another name for everything in its fullness.”

Before going any further ask yourself two questions: how would I define the Christ, and how would I describe who or what Jesus is? How do the two relate one to the other? Take note of your answers and write them down for reference later.

1.       How do you understand Houselander’s description in the first full paragraph on p. 2?

2.       Discuss the four “What if Christ…” statements on p.5.

3.       What if my name were also Christ? What would thatmean?

4.       Discuss Rohr’s declaration of creation being the first Bible andincarnation.

5.       ‘Jesus came out of an already Christ-soaked world.’Discuss

6.       ‘All...even betrayals and crucifixions must be usable and filled with potency.’Discuss

7.       ‘Christ is God, and Jesus is the Christ’s historical manifestation in time.’Discuss

8.       Discuss the 3 revelations of Christ as outlined on p.20.

9.       ‘The whole of creation is the beloved community. All is the child of God.’Discuss

10.      Discuss the relationship of faith, hope and love as outlined by Rohr on p.22.

11.      Discuss the definitions of ‘Jesus” and ‘Christ’ outlined on p.23.

What was the most important quote or insight you had from the material this week?

Close the meeting with the Three Faces of God benediction and hand motions (listed before week 1).

 

 Suggested Practice for Week One: September 29 — October 5.

Each Day: Practice the head, heart and gut meditations.

Contemplate the indented & italicized reading material as outlined in this week’s reading.

Take time to read chapters 1 of each of Colossians, Ephesians, John, 1 John and Hebrews.

 

 

Week 2 :     Accepting That You Are Fully Accepted pgs. 25—37

                  Revealed In Us –As Us pgs. 39—53

Weekly Affirmation — “I see Christ in every thing and every one.”

1.    Discuss the paragraph about St. Athanasius on p.27

2.    Do you think the incarnation is a one time event or a cosmic one?(p.28)

3.    What do you think of ‘the scandal of the particular’ on p.31?

4.    ‘The true light was coming’ John 1:9 What do you make of thewording?

5.     Christ is the light that allows people to see things in their fullness.Discuss

6.     How is radical inclusivity a threat in or to mylife?

7.      ‘There has never been a single soul not possessed by the Christ.’Discuss

8.       What does the moral equivalency between Jesus and those being persecuted haveto do with the Christ.

9.       Does the disembodied presence and voice that spoke to Saul have relevance for us? Is it available to us or should we expect some communication fromit?

10.     How does Rohr say we move from I-We on page42?

11.     What does ‘en Christo’ mean toyou?

12.     Discuss the paradigm shift that Rohr presents on pgs.47-48

13.     The Christ when twinned with Jesus, is a clear message about universal love and suffering as the Divine pattern. Comment

What was the most important quote or insight you had from the material this week?

Close the meeting with the Three Faces of God benediction and hand motions (listed before week 1).

 

 Suggested Practice for Week Two: October 6 -12

Each Day: Practice the head, heart and gut meditations.

  Contemplate the indented & italicized reading material as outlined in this week’s reading

 

Week3 : Original Goodness        pgs. 55—68

     Love IsTheMeaning        pgs.69—80

Weekly affirmation — “The Christ mirror fully knows and loves us from the beginning.”

1.          Creation did not need Jesus to confer additional sacredness upon it.Discuss

2.          How can God care about us without caring about everything else too?Discuss

3.          To work up to loving God, start by loving the humblest and simplest things.Comment

4.          What is your relationship with all ofcreation?

5.          Does the cycle of life and death mirror the eternal self-emptying & infilling ofGod?

6.          The essential work of religion is to help us recognize the divine image in everything.

7.           Do you experience an implanted knowing in yourself? What do you callit?

8.           Is it necessary to have a deep trust in human nature to be a loving humanbeing?

9.           The Christ… uses mistakes for transformative purposes.Discuss

10.          If we don’t find direction, motivation and joy in love, we will find them in hate. Comment

11.          The God instinct is the ‘need to adore’.Discuss

12.          Love is the training ground of adoration. How important are both in our lives?

13.         Have you ever experienced God withdrawing its presence? To what purpose?

14.         God loves you by becoming you. God wants to be and express as you all day long. Discuss.  

What was the most important quote or insight you had from the material thisweek?

Close the meeting with the Three Faces of God benediction and hand motions (listed before week 1).

 

 Suggested Practice for Week Three: October 13—19

Each Day: Practice the head, heart and gut meditations.

Contemplate the indented & italicized reading material as outlined in this week’s reading.

 

Week 4 :  A Sacred Wholeness         pgs.  81—89

               Going Somewhere Good          pgs. 91—100

Weekly Affirmation — “ To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often. ”

 

1.         Discuss the story and insights of Etty Hillesum. Is this the cutting edge of awareness?

2.         Christ is a universally available voice that calls all things to become whole and true to themselves. What does sacred wholeness mean to you?

3.         Each of us has an inner ‘God Archetype’ or a ‘whole-making-instinct’.  Discuss.

4.         A forgiving God allows us to recognize the good in the supposed bad, and the bad in the supposed perfect or ideal.Discuss.

5.          If the incarnation is true then of course God speaks to you through your ownthoughts. What criteria do you have for discerning the ‘voice of God’?

6.        If Christ is the beginning point, then what is the goal or the endpoint?

7.        Metanoeite means going beyond your world view or way of processing.  Discuss

8.        There is no such thing as a nonpolitical Christianity. True or false.  Discuss.

9.         Describe how the Pilate syndrome has affected your life, if at all.

10.       Discuss the paragraph on p. 95 relating to the Christ Omega or Divine Allure.

11.       Ultimately, where are you going, who will you be, and what does it mean?

12.      The Risen Christ is not a one-time miracle but the revelation of a universal pattern that is hard to see in the short term. Discuss.

 

What was the most important quote or insight you had from the material thisweek?

Close the meeting with the Three Faces of God benediction and hand motions (listed before week 1).

 

Suggested Practice for Week Four: October 20—26

Each Day: Practice the head, heart and gut meditations.

Contemplate the indented & italicized reading material as outlined in this week’s reading.

 

Part II The Great Comma

Week 5 :   Doing & Saying                     pgs. 104—107 

                Things At Their Depth          pgs. 109—120 

                The Feminine Incarnation      pgs.121—128

Weekly Affirmation — “God loves things by becoming them, including me.”

1.    What is your Creed? Write a paragraph beginning with ‘Ibelieve…’.

2.    Truth is always for the sake of love. Does your religion amorize yourlife?

3.     ‘I will embrace my whole life and not just my soul.’Discuss

4.     ‘We are wounded and resurrected at the same time.’ Discuss how that istrue.

5.      Are you still trying to overcome the world as a hangover from yourupbringing?

6.      God loves things by becoming them. We love God by continuing the samepattern.

7.      ‘I doubt that you can see the image of God in yoru fellow humans if you cannot firstsee it in rudimentary forms like stones etc.’Discuss

8.      Any object that calls forth respect or reverence is the Christ for us momentarily.’Discuss

9.      Is the Divine Feminine real for you, experiential? Share how itis.

10.    Mary is the archetype of how to receive what God is doing and hand it on to others. Do you see your own soul in Mary and in her yes?

 

What was the most important quote or insight you had from the material this week?

Close the meeting with the Three Faces of God benediction and hand motions (listed before week 1).

 

 Suggested Practice for Week Five: October 27—November 2

Each Day: Practice the head, heart and gut meditations.

Contemplate the indented & italicized reading material as outlined in this week’s reading. Read Colossians 2:11-15 and Ephesians 2:4-6

 

Week 6 :   This Is MyBody      pgs. 129—138

                     Why Did Jesus Die?       pgs. 139 —158

Weekly Affirmation —“The universe is the Body of God, in its essence and its suffering.”

1.       Life is the destiny you are bound to refuse until you have consented to die.Comment

2.       What has been your experience, if any, of Communion orEucharist?

3.       The only real prerequisite for worthiness is your capacity for real presenceyourself.

4.       What do you think of what Rohr wrote in relation to his dogVenus?

5.       Only presence can know presence. Love affairs never happen just in the mind.Discuss

6.       Do we have ceremonies or rituals? P. 133 Is something morerequired?

7.       Communion is consciously united yourself with all unjust suffering in the world.Discuss

8.       Who we are in God is who we all are. Discuss thisidea.

9.      The bread and wine are stand ins for the very elements of theuniverse.

10.      A true believer is eating what he or she is afraid to see and afraid toaccept: The universe is the Body of God, both in its essence and in itssuffering.

11.     If we sacrifice Reality in the elements, we end up sacrificing the same Reality in ourselves.

12.      How has the penal substitutionary atonement theory affected your life orsociety?

13.      Salvation becomes a one-time transactional affair between Jesus and his Father, instead of an ongoing transformational lesson for the human soul & all of history. Discuss

What was the most important quote or insight you had from the material thisweek?

ClosethemeetingwiththeThreeFacesofGodbenedictionandhandmotions(insidecover).

 

 Suggested Practice for Week Six: November 3 — 9.

Each Day: Practice the head, heart and gut meditations.

Contemplate the indented & italicized reading material as outlined in this week’s reading.

 

Week 7 :      It Can’t Be Carried Alone    pgs.159—168

    The Resurrection Journey      pgs. 169— 187

Weekly Affirmation — “There is only one suffering, and it is all the suffering of God.”

1.      If the universe is christened from the very beginning then of course, it can never die, forever. Discuss.

2.     If one’s theology (view of God) does not significantly change one’s anthropology (view of humanity) it is largely what we call a ‘head trip’. Discuss

3.     God might best be seen as “Reality with a personality.”Discuss

4.  Every time you choose love or positively connect with someone or something, you arein touch with the Divine Personality.Discuss

5.   “Be brave. I have overcome the world.” What exactly is this‘world’?

6.   What Christians call the ‘glorified body’ is called the ‘subtle’ body in the East,and includes all of us in its embodiment.Discuss

7.   Incarnation is already Redemption.  Christmas is already Easter, and Jesus is already Christ.  Does this make sense to you?

8.   Discuss the idea of restorative justice rather than retributivejustice.

9.   Is the notion of hell compatible with the image and message of God presented by Jesus?

10.   God’s justice makes things right at their very core, and divine love does not achieve its ends by mere punishment or retribution. Discuss.

11.   The “Christ journey” is indeed another name for every thing. Does this make sense?

What was the most important insight or quote from the material this week?  Close the meeting with the Three Faces of God benediction and hand motions (inside cover).

 

Suggested Practice for Week Seven: November 10 – 16

Each Day: Practice the head, heart and gut meditations.

Contemplate the indented & italicized reading material as outlined in this week’s reading.

 

Week 8 :    Two Witness to Jesus & Christ      pgs.189—201

Transformation & Contemplation        pgs.203—219

Weekly Affirmation — “God comes to me disguised as my life!.”

1.    Have you moved beyond (transcended and included) Jesus to Christ?

2.    The Christ is untouchable in singular form because he is omnipresent in all forms. Discuss this Key teaching of the book that God is in all and everything.

3.    We must first hear our name being addressed in love before we can encounter the Christ of our being. Spiritual knowledge is an inner (voice) encounter. Discuss

4.    Only corporate goodness can stand up to corporate evil. What is the role of Church in that? How do we avoid getting caught in the trap of being ‘against’ evil? Discuss

5.    Discuss Paul’s vision that churches would be audio visual aids to God’s love.

6.    Contemplation is a radically different way of seeing. Have you a contemplative practice?

7.    If we have never loved or suffered deeply, we are unable to understand spiritual things at depth. Discuss why this might be true.

8.      Read and comment on the paragraph on the bottom of p. 212 and top of p.213.

9.    The head (Bible), heart (experience) and body/gut (tradition) give a fuller experience of God. Discuss how each is different in its perspective.

10.  The way things work and the Christ are one and the same. It is about letting go of something smaller so that something bigger can happen. Discuss

What was the most important quote or insight you had from the material thisweek?

Close the meeting with the Three Faces of God benediction and hand motions (inside cover).

 Suggested Practice for Week 8: November17—23

Each Day: Practice the head, heart and gut meditations.

Contemplate the indented & italicized reading material as outlined in this week’s reading.

Take time to read chapters 1 of each of Colossians, Ephesians, John, 1 John and Hebrews.

 

 

Week 9:     Beyond Mere Theology         pgs.221—231

                    Afterword & Appendixes         pgs.233—248

Weekly Affirmation — “God is a mirror big enough to receive everything.”

1.          Start the group by someone reading aloud Practice 1 from p.224

2.          Unless the awareness of the Christ mystery rewires you...it will remain another theory or ideology. Discuss

3.          We must find a prayer form that invades our unconscious. Have you?

4.          Anything is a sacrament if it is a shortcut to the Infinite, but it will always be hidden in something is very finite. Discuss. What are your sacraments?

5.          ‘Everything finally belongs, and you are a part of it. This knowing and this enjoying are a good description for salvation.’ Discuss

6.          We grow by passing beyond some perfect order, through a usually painful and seemingly unnecessary disorder, to an enlightened reorder or resurrection. Does this reflect your life or experience?

7.          The incarnational world view that Rohr espouses he calls the Christ. What does it mean to you now that you have read the book. Has the book changed you and, if so, in whatway?

8.             You do not need to name this universal manifestation “Christ”. Discuss why.

9.             You are taken to happiness, you cannot find your way there by willpower. Discuss

What was the most important quote or insight you had from the material this week?

Close the meeting with the Three Faces of God benediction and hand motions (inside cover).

 Suggested Practice for Week Nine: November 24—November 30

Each Day: Practice the head, heart and gut meditations.

Contemplate the indented & italicized reading material as outlined in this week’s reading.

Read The Divine Mirror several times during the week.

Do Practice 1: Simply That You Are several times during the week.

Reread the poem Love After Love on p. 234 What does the poem stir in you?