“The Chalice of the Atonement” revisited

[Please note: ACIM passages quoted in this article reference the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP) Edition.]

Two years ago at this time, when I was taking a group of students through the Text Reading Program, I had an important insight into the “chalice of the Atonement” that Jesus talks about in Urtext comments in “The Altar to God” (T-2.III). I wrote a blog on it back then and thought that it was complete. Now, here I am two years later, taking another group through the TRP and having an even deeper insight into this chalice. The difference this time is that I didn’t only have an insight into it, but also a profound experience of it.

For some I have been trying to really understand the Atonement and what accepting it for myself really means, so I was looking forward to going into it more deeply with these early sections. The day we were on “The Altar to God,” I decided to spend my morning quiet time with what Jesus had been saying about the Atonement in these early sections. My thinking went something like this:

He has just told us that “the [Atonement] principle was love, and the Atonement was an act of love” (T-2.II.4:2-3). He also recently gave us this solid piece of logic:

Perfect love casts out fear.
If fear exists,
Then there is not perfect love.
Only perfect love really exists.
Therefore, if there is fear,
It produces a state that does not exist.

So, the Atonement is that perfect love and it casts out all fear. There isn’t anything but love; therefore, fear cannot exist. My healing and my ability to heal others rest in the fact that there is nothing to fear.

The chalice of the Atonement is filled with perfect love. This is what Jesus wants to give me. He wants me to take this chalice he’s offering me and drink deeply of his perfect love––a symbol of God’s perfect love––a love that casts out all fear. He doesn’t want me to drink of his blood (as in the traditional sense of communion) and take it into me to make him part of me. He wants me to drink of his perfect love, take it into me. That’s what will make him part of me! That’s what he’s wanted all along! He asks us so often to join with him, join our will with his; this is what he means. When I accept the chalice, I will be accepting him, accepting his will, making the same decision for Atonement that he did.

That might have been in his mind when he gave Bill the “Here I am, Lord” prayer to say to him. It sure emphasizes the Atonement;

I would like to pray that my will be united with yours, recognizing that your perfect love will suffice for (or correct) my imperfect love.

I pray that I may accept the Atonement with conviction, recognizing its inevitable worth, and my own divine worth as part of this identification with you….

I accept the divinity of the messages we have received, and affirm my will in both accepting and acting on the Atonement principle.

With that realization, I was filled with a sense of Jesus’s deep––his total, perfect––love for me. It was so profound that it brought tears to my eyes. Then I “saw” Jesus standing before me, holding in his hands the chalice of the Atonement, holding out his perfect love to me. It was as if he had been there always, standing patiently, the chalice in his hands, waiting for me to recognize and accept it. I sat there crying, filled with the wonder of his great love for me––so great that he’d wait forever for me to accept it. Although I didn’t quite see or feel the chalice pass from his hands to mine, I did have a sense of accepting it. Mostly, I just sat there drinking in his love. Hmm, maybe that was accepting the chalice!

Then I realized that Jesus’ teachings in A Course in Miracles are part of all this. When Bill and Helen joined together in determination to find “another way,” I think they were asking for a miracle, and Jesus responded by giving them a whole course in miracles! His giving them (and us) the Course was an act of love.

I sat there quietly taking this in:

The Course is an expression of your perfect love for me; your teachings are an expression of your love. You are here, holding them out to me, wanting nothing more than for me to accept them. You want me to drink them in deeply, take them into me, and in that way I will also take you into me. Your perfect love; your teachings as an expression of that love; this Course a miracle you are offering me, to make me like you…

As all of this dawned on me, I was filled with an even deeper experience of his love and gratitude for that love. I couldn’t help but cry with amazement and with gratitude. I don’t think I’ll ever see the Course in the same way again.

Since that day, I have been practicing different versions of this idea. For a few days I practiced:

I accept the chalice of the Atonement for myself;
I accept the perfect love that casts out all fear,
And in that I am healed and I can heal.

Today, in rereading T-2.V and Robert’s “Purely constructive” blog from this time in 2009, I realized that the chalice of the Atonement is already on the altar to God in my mind, so I am saying this:

I recognize that the chalice of the Atonement is already on the altar to God in my mind,
And so I reaffirm the purely constructive––miracle-working––powers of my mind.


Mary Anne