O Almighty God,
we are confident of this very thing,
that he which hath begun a good work in us,
will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
we pray that our love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;
that we may approve things that are excellent;
that we may be sincere and without offense,
till the day of Christ,
being filled with the fruits of righteousness,
which are by Jesus Christ,
unto the glory and praise of God.
-an adapted version of the Epistle to the Philippians, Chapter 1, Verses 27 through 29
of might inconceivable,
of glory incomprehensible,
of mercy immeasurable,
of benignity ineffable;
do Thou, O Master,
look down upon us in Thy tender love,
and show forth,
towards us and those who pray with us,
Thy rich mercies and compassions.
-from the Liturgy of Saint Chrysotom
Bless all who worship Thee,
from the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same.
Of Thy goodness, give us;
with Thy love, inspire us;
by Thy spirit guide us;
by Thy power, protect us;
in Thy mercy, receive us now and always.
-an Ancient Collect
Blessed art Thou, O Lord,
who hast nourished me from my youth up,
who givest food to all flesh.
Fill our hearts with joy and gladness,
that we, always having all sufficiency in all things,
may abound to every good work in Christ Jesus our Lord,
through whom to Thee be glory, honour, might, majesty, and dominion,
forever and ever.
-The Clementine Liturgy
Who art the unsearchable abyss of peace,
the ineffable sea of love,
the fountain of blessings,
and the bestower of affection,
Who sendest peace to those that receive it;
open to us this day the sea of Thy love,
and water us with the plenteous streams from the riches of Thy grace.
Make us children of quietness,
and heirs of peace.
Enkindle in us the fire of Thy love;
sow in us Thy fear;
strengthen our weakness by Thy power;
bind us closely to Thee and to each other in one firm bond of unity;
for the sake of Jesus Christ.
—Syrian Clementine Liturgy
“Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery,
and whoever marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery."
-The Gospel according to Saint Luke, Chapter 16, Verse 18, New Revised Standard Version
Various forms of Christendom have taken this verse entirely literally, to the extent that the Roman Church officially doesn't sanction divorce and remarriage (though annulment does happen).
At face value, the verse is extremely harsh; what's Jesus trying to get across here? Is divorce entirely wrong at any time? Is it truly an absolute?
This is where context matters entirely, as well as rhetorical devices. Jesus often speaks in hyperbole in the Gospels. That's difficult to square away for many of us, but that also comes from thousands of years worth of accretion around the man Jesus, the culture in which Jesus lived, and so on. The humor, the exaggeration, the "attitude" all gets lost, especially in translations like the King James Version.
The context here is important- the notes in the New Oxford Annotated Study Bible clue us in on what's really going on: the point isn't about divorce happening at all, but divorce with the specific intent to remarry someone else.
Jesus is taking aim at a political enemy, specifically Herod Antipas, who had done the exact thing mentioned: divorcing a wife to remarry another woman instead.
This kind of contextualization is the reason I encourage people to study the Scriptures- you learn that things aren't always as they appear.
"We beseech You, Master, to be our helper and protector.
Save the afflicted among us;
have mercy on the lowly;
Raise up the fallen;
appear to the needy;
heal the ungodly;
Restore the wanderers of Your people;
Feed the hungry;
ransom our prisoners;
Raise up the sick;
comfort the faint-hearted."
There is a problem endemic to Christianity and many religious traditions, which is to say that the theological perspectives are often built upon other theological perspectives which are at best specious.
The people making various kinds of theological arguments often have their hearts in the right place. However, those arguments often have little to do with encountering God directly.
But we run into yet another problem: without the theology (and here I include the ritualism and mythology in the definition), we have no hope of understanding or creating even the idea of encountering the Divine.
Yet another problem: without theological training, the direct encounter of the Great Mystery that is God can render a person unstable. Even with proper theological training, there are accounts of people developing all kinds of mental conditions.
I've even happened upon people who claim some form of enlightenment...who are also genuinely terrible in other ways.
These are all issues to be dealt with and confronted. A balance must be struck.
I pray, then, that the Holy Spirit would be present in our Church and with each of our members, that we may be guided to what is appropriate to us as a community and what is appropriate to us as individuals.
Friendship and kindness are one of the most meaningful aspects of life. To enact our human friendships with one another is to share in the nature of the Divine's friendship with us. To love our fellow man is to love God.
Other people truly are one of the sources of meaning in life. This particular knowledge, this realization, is so incredibly important. Let us show love to one another.
I think tomorrow we'll talk about a bit about Christology.
A somewhat upsetting statement that I can make to the reader is that a huge amount of information on mysticism, the occult, meditation, and what have you consists of theoretical models being copied and passed on without any real experience that goes behind the writing.
The upside of this, of course, is that we have the maps, the theories, the knowledge. The downside is that it includes a lot of distortion and omissions.
For instance, we'll hear a great deal about the power of the Third Eye in meditation and also in energy work, but I've rarely come across anyone mentioning that the Heart Chakra is also an immense center of mystical power and a center by which mystical power can be enacted. I find it quite strange that something so obvious through meditation and energy work would get left out of the books so consistently, yet here we are.
Explore on your own. Experiment and document on your own. Find out for yourself, even if the books are guiding you.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
-The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 3, verses 5 and 6, New Revised Standard Version
I had to memorize this Bible verse when I was in Christian school. To this day, it's remained one of the gems that I remember fairly clearly, though I learned it in the style of the New International Version.
There are probably cultural notes in Hebrew that aren't conveyed well in the translation nor in modern-day understanding. This happens frequently with the Bible where the particular phrasing of something may convey something specific in the original language, culture, and era that doesn't come across in translation.
That's the problem with translation, of course- sometimes it's entirely impossible to be able to convey something from one language to another.
Yet is a new interpretation entirely wrong? Or rather, is the interpretation that we can receive in our native tongue necessarily something that's unintended? This is powerful and important question and goes along with another kind of theology about the Church and its Mission unfolding.
When I've had more sleep, I'd like to do more Bible study and bring up more analysis.
"So now, O sons of the Thought, listen to me, to the Speech of the Mother of your mercy, for you have become worthy of the mystery hidden from the Aeons, so that you might receive it. And the consummation of this particular Aeon and of the evil life has approached, and there dawns the beginning of the Aeon to come, which has no change forever.
I am androgynous. I am Mother (and) I am Father, since I copulate with myself. I copulated with myself and with those who love me, and it is through me alone that the All stands firm. I am the Womb that gives shape to the All by giving birth to the Light that shines in splendor. I am the Aeon to come. I am the fulfillment of the All, that is, Meirothea, the glory of the Mother. I cast voiced Speech into the ears of those who know me.
-Trimorphic Protennoia, from Early Christian Writings
In the liturgy of the ACSC, we often say "the Father-Mother." No doubt, in part, this may be viewed as an attempt to be more linguistically inclusive in the modern era, yet perhaps it would surprise you to know that early Christians conceived of the Absolute as the "Father-Mother" as well.
Trimorphic Protennoia is an absolutely beautiful piece of non-canonical scripture, one that resonates with me as I read through it. The writings are familiar and archetypal- something is activated upon reading though the wider scripture, something that points to the Truth.
Admittedly, the sense of the Absolute Reality becomes somewhat confusing- there are a lot of claims of being "the First" and so on.
The entire piece is worth reading, and some of the earlier portions talk about how this is the source of the All and the Diverse and so on.
So here's a useful site that I'll be looking into more often: Early Christian Writings. I heard about this on the Talk Gnosis podcast, and so I'm putting it up on our site as well for everyone to use.
I've started streaming on Twitch and conveyed to my viewers tonight something important: much of the Tradition handed down through the Church has scriptural backing to it, it just happens that said scripture didn't make it into the canonical Bible. Ideas such as the Immaculate Conception of Mary (just as an example)- these have a precedent somewhere in early Christian history and writing.
That's what I consider to be most fascinating- early Christians held these views! They weren't ideas that just popped up hundreds of years later.
We'll talk at some point in time about how Scriptures were often written with a theological point to be made rather than as an historical document, a position that's strange and foreign to the modern mind but nonetheless useful to understand a figure like Jesus.
Let us exercise patience.
Let us experience the Mystery of Epiphany today as well. Let the culmination Christmas and its light dwell with us.
My mind is silent, still, in some ways, and perhaps that's due to the winter that's upon us here; yet my soul is deeply communing with God because of the inner stillness.
May you all experience the deep contact with God within the depths of your soul.
May we manifest Christ to mankind, in word and deed and being.
I pray this for each of us.
Let us all rejoice in the Manifestation of Christ to the people of the world!
Let us rejoice in the Magi visiting the Christ-child after following the star!
May Christ be manifested in us as well, this day and every day.
Brightest of blessings as we end the Christmas season and continue forth in the wheel of the liturgical year!
A friendly reminder to take breaks every now and again.
Being industrious is a good thing; working toward goals and contributing to society are worthwhile, of course, but burnout is also an issue.
Sometimes, you won't have the energy to do things. And that's okay.
Be kind to others. Be kind to yourself.
Christ asked us to show mercy and shows mercy to us. Let us show mercy to ourselves as well
Now he's an interesting thing: our translation of the Our Father has an incredibly weird aspect to it.
"Give us this day our daily bread."
Epiousios (ἐπιούσιος) is often translated into English (and other languages) as "daily."
In reality, no one's sure what the word means- this is the only place it occurs- not just in the Bible but in the Greek of that era.
Numerous translations have been offered, yet no one's entirely sure.
In at least one case, the word is translated somewhat literally into Latin as "supersubstantial," giving it an aura that's much more supernatural than the "daily" aspect.
Other modern translations give some kind of weird translation about "our bread for tomorrow." That one's pretty bizarre to me.
This just hammers home the whole issue with translation- no matter what may seem to be established, in reality, there's often more to the original than meets the eye.
Recently, I've delved into articles about the canonical Gospels, their history, composition, and overlap (in the case of the three synoptic Gospels).
I'm also reading through the Gospel according to Saint Luke in the Oxford Annotated Study Bible.
First, I should say that I recommend foremost that anyone wishing to read the canonical Bible (or really, any Sacred Scripture) do so with a study Bible, and a scholarly study Bible at that. This grants a bit clarity on what's going on that might otherwise be glossed over by competing theological agendas.
Second, while reading about the synoptic Gospels, I read about organizations like the Jesus Seminar as well as the various kind of rebuttals that have been written against the stances of the Jesus Seminar.
What struck me as so incredibly strange was the sheer and utter lack of any middle ground. Where are the people suggesting that maybe the Gospels are generally reliable but not entirely reliable? Where are the people saying that maybe some of what is attributed to Jesus is historical, but other aspects are added later?
One thing I did find irritating was the complete and utter dismissal of the mystical and Gnostic perspectives and Gospels. That the extant copies we have were composed later isn't the same as saying there were therefore never any earlier copies; that the proto-orthodox Christians held an oral tradition that was then written doesn't mean the Gnostics weren't doing the same thing.
It's strange how people will always argue for their own perspectives, gravitate to what confirms what they already think, and never consider the counterpoints.
But as the title of the entry says, we've all got our reasons. No doubt people who are entrenched in the dogmatic lines of various Christian churches are going to find ways to defend those points in order to maintain their own power.
The question is whether that's a mark of integrity or not. In some cases, I think people generally are trying to remain faithful to what they understand the teachings to be. In other cases, I feel like people may be missing what the teachings are pointing to.
May we always live up to the meaning of the teachings.
With heavy hearts, we do write that +Rosamonde Ishvaku Miller (Tau Rosamonde) of the Ecclesia Gnostica Mysteriorum has transitioned from this world into the next.
Many of us knew Rosamonde, and she was always gracious answering my questions and posting spiritually inspiring things on social media. She will be greatly missed.
At this time, let us remember her and her family, offering prayers for their comfort and for her own soul's realization in her next phase of the journey of being.
What are you goals for the New Year?
Better still: how might we serve God better this year?
What does it mean to serve God?
Where do we need growth in our lives?
I always have tons of goals that I'm pursuing all the time- the New Year is a great time to start various plans for most people, but what do you do when your plans are already well established?
The pandemic is still upon us, though its effects seem to be waning here and there. For that, I'm grateful.
It's unfortunate that the New Year doesn't feel quite the like the fresh, bold start that it should- certainly not the impression like we had in 2020, for instance, before everything went to hell.
But I do speak sometimes of the Energetic New Year- and that, for me at least, happened around Halloween. That's when I felt the "newness" of all things. The question is...why? Do others experience this?
One day, I'll know, I'm sure- and I'll share it with you all.