On Sunday July 11, 2021 Rev. Tony Ponticello gave a talk for the Community Miracles Center's Sunday Gathering. A lightly edited transcription of the talk is presented here.
This line from The Lord's Prayer kept coming into my mind this week, and I decided to use it as the inspiration for my talk. You all know this line. The line is, "Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven." (KJV.Mt.6:10) "On earth as it is in Heaven." This is at the end of the Sermon on the Mount, and this is in the Gospel of Matthew, the first Gospel. It is in what's called The Lord's Prayer.
The Lord's Prayer is very interesting because it was actually the prayer that Jesus gave to the people after some instruction about how to pray. One of the things he said in his instructions on how to pray was, "But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions."(KJV.Mt.6:7) So don't just repeat some mantra, maybe over and over again. Don't just repeat some affirmation over and over again thinking that somehow the repetition is going to make it so. Jesus said don't use vain repetitions.
He also tells the people not to ask for particular things in the world. He says "For your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him."(KJV.6::8) We're not supposed to ask for things of the world, and we're not supposed to just repeat phrases thinking that somehow the repetition itself is meaningful. Then he says to them, right before he gives them The Lord's Prayer, "After this manner, therefore pray ye,"(KJV.6:9) Then he tells them The Lord's Prayer.
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And so, that's why The Lord's Prayer has always been so very important in the Christian faith. It's a wonderful prayer, and there's a lot in it that resonates with A Course in Miracles, the teaching of ACIM. I especially like how it says, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven," so it's bringing earth and Heaven together. Unfortunately a lot of ACIM students are manifesting a tremendous gulf between the two. It's not just a little gap, but it's a huge gulf between earth and Heaven. I think we have to really be aware of that. We have to work to bridge that gulf and bring earth and Heaven together, like the Lord's Prayer does. ACIM unites earth and Heaven. That teaching was in the reading that was read earlier.
Here's a quote from A Course in Miracles, "... hear this: all power is given you in earth and Heaven. There is nothing that you cannot do."(OrEd.WkBk.191.11) We don't have to wait to get to Heaven to get some experience of all of our power. All power is given to us in earth and in Heaven, and I love it that it says there is nothing that we cannot do. I love those A Course in Miracles passages and lessons that tell us of our ultimate power.
There's a very early Workbook lesson that is, "There is nothing my holiness cannot do." It's Workbook lesson number 38. In that lesson, for those who've done the lessons and remember this one, it has you identify situations that are problematic, or that are troubling. It tells you that in any situation which you feel a sense of loss or unhappiness of any kind, to apply the lesson to that. So any feeling of loss, any feeling of unhappiness of any kind – think of that situation, and then remind yourself that in that situation, there is nothing your holiness cannot do, because your holiness has all power. Even here on earth because on earth as it is in Heaven.
Now, not only is that line in The Lord's Prayer, which we all know (or many of us know) but it's also verbatim in A Course in Miracles. The quote is this, "The Holy Spirit is the way in which God's Will can be done on earth as it is in Heaven."(OrEd.Tx.5.26) The exact same phrase that is in The Lord's Prayer is right here in ACIM. The Holy Spirit – listening to the Holy Spirit, following the Holy Spirit's guidance – is how we do God's will. It's how God's will is done on earth as it is in Heaven. We are the ones doing God's will here on earth as it has been done in Heaven, because we're all still connected to Heaven. We're all still connected to God, and we're all still connected to the Voice for God. As we listen to the Holy Spirit, the Voice for God, we do God's will here on earth as it is done in Heaven.
God's will on earth, what is it? Well, A Course in Miracles is very clear that God's will on earth is healing. God's will on earth is salvation. We are here to heal everything, everyone. We are here to save everything, everyone. The Course acknowledges "... the Will of God is done on earth as well as Heaven. [The salvation of the world depends on me] unites all wills on earth in Heaven's plan to save the world."(OrEd.WkBk.186.1) That's from the Workbook Lesson 186. We had that lesson not that long ago.
The salvation of the world depends on us, and that's an acknowledgement that we are doing God's will here on earth. That is our mission, and that is what we are doing. "The salvation of the world depends on me." (OrEd.WkBk.186) This is what we're about, and this is how we bridge that gap, but we must not see a big gulf between earth and Heaven. We must bridge that huge gulf instead of accentuating it. I see so many people wanting to accentuate the gap, wanting to make it bigger instead of making it smaller. We have to dedicate ourselves to wanting to make Heaven and earth one, not wanting to make them more separate. Heaven has a plan to save this world, and we unite in that plan. What we're doing here today, gathering here today, is uniting in that plan to save the world. We are here to do it, and we have to acknowledge that we indeed are doing it.
We indeed are doing it. It's not something that we put off into the future, it's something that we recognize that we are doing now. A Course in Miracles says, "God wills no one suffer." (OrEd.Tx.8.23) That's God's will for the world. God will's no one suffer, and we do God's will by our own healing work, making sure that we are dedicated also to no one suffering. This is the will that needs to be done on earth. This is God's will on earth. ACIM is very clear about this teaching. It says it over and over again. Here's another place that says, "‘Heaven and earth shall pass away' simply means that they will not continue to exist as separate states." (OrEd.Tx.1.34)Heaven and earth won't continue to be separate. They will be one, and we are that bridge.
I love the whole bridge metaphor, bridge analogy, because my last name, "Ponticello," that's actually what it means. "Ponticello" means "bridge to Heaven." I remember when I found that out. How cool was that? That was so cool. "Ponti" is bridge in Italian, "cielo" is Heaven, or perhaps the sky. "Ponticello" is bridge to Heaven or bridge to the sky. But we're all the bridge to Heaven, and you're certainly all the bridge to Heaven with me. I'm really aware, at this stage of my life – at this place in my life – when I look back in my life and all the things of my life, that there have been no accidents about any of it. There has been a plan. There has been a plan in place and a plan working itself out. Everything was just perfect to get me to right where I am today, which is right where I am happy to be.
A Course in Miracles says, "No accident nor chance is possible within the universe as God created it, outside of which is nothing." (OrEd.Tx.21.17) There's no accident or chance in earth or in Heaven, which really are becoming one through our will, which is God's will – and I see that happening. I see it in my own life clearer than I ever have in the past.
I am currently getting ready to take two trips. I'm going back East to see my sisters Sara and Angelia. I'm going back to upstate New York, a small town named Canastota, near Syracuse, New York, which is where I was born and raised (or where this body was born and raised). It's been a long time since I have visited there. It's been probably five or six years. I haven't been there in a long time. I'm going back for various reasons, but a question has come up for me about my trips back. Do I wear my priest collar when I go back to upstate New York?
I started wearing the cleric collar at the beginning of the pandemic after I received some guidance that I really had to up my game. The pandemic was challenging for me on many levels, and the guidance was that it was important for me to up my game (both in myself and in my presentation to the world) for various reasons, which I talked about at the time. My guidance was to start wearing the collar. I mean, after all, I had been known as Rev. Tony for 34 years. It wasn't like some huge new thing, but it's a big public declaration of that.
This came up for me again last week when I was trying to arrange a dinner with a friend of mine, and the friend of mine said that they'd be happy to go to dinner with me as long as I didn't wear my priest collar. I couldn't show up like a priest. Now at that moment I said, "Okay" A brother is asking for something outrageous, I'll do it, because it doesn't really matter.
So I had dinner with my friend. I didn't wear my priest collar. It was fine. However it then begged the question, the pandemic is easing maybe I should not wear the collar, or only wear it occasionally. Then the question came up – should I wear it when I go back to Canastota, New York, near Syracuse? There's a lot of things that are going to happen when I go back there. There's going to be a high school reunion – that means showing up with my priest collar at my high school reunion. There's going to be a family reunion – that means showing up with a collar at the family reunion. And, I usually go to Catholic mass with my sister Sara when I'm there. I will be there for two Sundays. Do I go in St Agatha's Catholic Church with my collar? Do I go up and receive communion with my priest collar?
I wasn't sure. I just really wasn't sure, and I had to do a lot of asking for guidance. Then I got it – wearing the collar for me is a way that I bridge the gulf between Heaven and earth. I mean, it's a real declaration for me that my life is dedicated to spiritual, religious principles, and I'm fine about them. I've been fine about them for decades, and I'm fine about declaring them to the world in an obvious way. I am now. At least in a way that is obvious for me.
I think it was yesterday or the day before, I got the guidance, "Yes, I am going to go home with the cleric collar, and I'm going to have it on for those major events." I'll check it out. I will just see how people deal with it, and the conversations that it starts.
A Course in Miracles says, "In everything be led by him and do not reconsider."(OrEd.Tx.13.81) So I've got my guidance now. I'm not going to reconsider it. I'm really clear on it. I'm going to go into St. Agatha's Catholic Church with the collar on. I'm going to go up for communion with the collar on, and I love this church. It was the church that was there when I was a young teenager. I've actually spoken in that church twice, for both my mother's funeral and my father's funeral. I'm going to do it.
People are fearful and concerned about what other people might think about them if they're open about their spirituality and their religion. I think that just reinforces the gulf that we feel. There's nothing to be afraid of; there's nothing to be ashamed of. What is it we're afraid of, rejection? I mean, who is going to reject us? I guess my friend who wanted to go to dinner wasn't really willing to go to dinner with me as I am now, and it was okay. I was fine, but it wasn't a positive in terms of making me particularly want to do it again and again. If somebody gives you conditions for meeting them, you have a good time, you meet them, but it might not lend itself to meeting them more frequently.
For me, wearing the collar is bringing my heavenly thoughts to earth in a bolder way. I have found in the year and a half that I have been wearing it that I have not gotten rejection at all from people out in the world. Actually, I think more people want to talk to you when you have the collar on, when they see it. I find most people are pretty comfortable with it. Maybe they're just mirroring my comfort with it, but I actually see that it's a way of me bringing earth and Heaven together. It's a way of being that pure reflection of the light above, which is what A Course in Miracles tells us to do. The Course says, "It is His holiness that lights up Heaven and that brings to earth the pure reflection of the light above, wherein are earth and Heaven joined as one." (OrEd.WkBk.182.4)
Again, we bring in the reflection of the divine, and we are joining earth and Heaven, which is absolutely what I want to do. I want to be about that; I am about that. That is my dedication. That has been my dedication for 34 and a half years. That's what I'm about. That's who I am, and it's good, and it's fun, and it's real for me. It's no sacrifice, and there's no rejection, and the things that fall away are probably things that I didn't really want in the first place. I'm fine about just surrendering to that. I'm fine about earth and Heaven being one, and I am fine about my job in making that happen to a greater and greater degree. A Course in Miracles says, "For as Heaven and earth become one, even the real world will vanish from your sight. The end of the world is not its destruction, but its translation into Heaven."(OrEd.Tx.10.75)
The world isn't over because it gets destroyed. It's over because it gets translated. That's very interesting usage of the word "translated." It's like the language the world is speaking isn't understandable, but we are here to translate the language of the world into a heavenly language. We are "universal translators" – like they have in Star Trek. Actually, I've been thinking of this little white thing here right at my throat (Rev. Tony points at the bright white, center part of the cleric collar) as my own universal translator. It gives me the power to translate the regular language, the unintelligible language of the ego's world, into a divine language that people can understand and that people see reflects the Heavenly truth of oneness, salvation, healing, and openness.
One of the things I have noticed when you walk up to people and you're presenting as a minister is they don't know what to expect. Especially people you don't know. They just don't know what to expect. And you know what? That's a good thing. That's a very good thing, because that's meeting your brothers without preconceptions from the past. There's an open moment there, when you meet somebody, and they're just open to you however you present to them. Those are wonderful, healing moments, and I love them. I certainly want to seize as many of them as possible, and I'm certainly going to want to seize as many of them as possible when I travel back East to see: family, friends, high school, church, and all my cousins.
A Course in Miracles again drives home this teaching. It's all over the Course. The Course isn't about rejecting the world or thinking the world is this terrible thing that we don't want to interact with. The Course is about seeing that Heaven is here even in the world. The Course says, "Heaven is here. There is nowhere else. Heaven is now. There is no other time. No teaching that does not lead to this is of concern to God's teachers."(OrEd.M.24.6) So no teaching that doesn't lead to you seeing Heaven as here and now is worth your time. If you are not seeing ACIM that way, shift, because that's actually what it's saying. What it's saying is Heaven is here, and Heaven is now. Heaven's here and now. It's not a place we are thinking about going to after we die. What a terrible idea that is! It's a place that we're bringing into manifestation to the best of our ability right now.
A Course in Miracles calls that the real world, and when we get the real world perfectly mirroring Heaven's grace and love, there's a final step that God takes. We're not even supposed to be concerned with that. Two thousand plus years ago Jesus told the people the exact same thing. He told them how to pray, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."(KJV.Mt.6:10) Bring God's will from Heaven here into the earth, and it is still true today. It is true with all of us.
I thought I'd end with just a little thinking and talking about the idea of will. What is God's will? What does "will" mean? "Will" is one of those terms that we frequently say without usually thinking much about it. We think we know what it means, but do we really know what it means? Okay, I looked it up in the dictionary: "will, the faculty by which a person decides on, or initiates action – control deliberately exerted to do something, or to restrain one's own impulses (like willpower) – a deliberate and fixed desire of intention, a thing that one desires or ordains."
I desire and I ordain salvation and healing, and that God's will that no one suffer be the manifestation of the world, and on earth as it is in Heaven. For sure, through us, through Jesus, both 2000 plus years ago and even today through A Course in Miracles, we are bridging not just that gap, but that huge gulf that exists in people's minds between the earthly plane and the Heavenly realms. That is our vocation, and that is my vocation. That is our job, and that is the mission of the Community Miracle Center. Join me, and join us, like you're doing right here, right now. Let us make earth and Heaven become one! Join us.
Thank you, that's my talk for today. "Woohoo!" ♥
Rev. Tony Ponticello is CMC's 20th minister. He currently (04.25.22) serves as the CMC's Executive Minister and is President of CMC's Board of Directors. He was ordained by the CMC on Oct. 17, 1997.
c/o Community Miracles Center
San Francisco, CA 94147
This article appeared in the August 2021 (Vol. 35 No. 6) issue of Miracles Monthly. Miracles Monthly is published by Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA. CMC is supported solely by people just like you who: become CMC Supporting Members, Give Donations and Purchase Books and Products through us.