Category Archives: Church

WHAT I’LL DO TODAY

WHAT I’LL DO TODAY

On Maundy Thursday I like to remember and to pray for the dearly departed. Family members I have lost, friends who have died or been killed, even pets I miss.

To pray for their souls and that they thrive. Wherever they are and whatever they are doing. It’s a personal thing but it always seems appropriate to me on the Thursday of Mysteries and to commemorate the Last Supper.

Also, I’m gonna take Communion later today. With my family.

Have a Holy and productive Thursday of Mysteries folks!

THE FRIAR’S DOG

HELL IF IT IS – THE COWARDLY CHRISTIANS OF THE WEST

HELL IF IT IS – THE COWARDLY CHRISTIANS OF THE WEST

I’m willing to bet good money that if most Muslims around the world were allowed to live one week freely as a Christian, without fear of being forced to reconvert back to Islam, without fear of their families being physically and economically punished, and without fear of themselves being tortured, murdered, and crucified then 2/3rds would convert immediately and on the spot, and never look back.

I say this not only to those tens and perhaps hundreds of millions of Muslims seeking a far better way, but to those hundreds of millions of apathetic and lazy and cowardly Christians in the West who would not even dare to say such a thing out loud.

A lot of the responsibility for those Christians and those Muslims who live and suffer in the Middle East and elsewhere in this world lies with the abject cowardice of the Christians of the West.

And I might very well say the same thing about those Christians and Muslims living in China and other parts of Asia, and in and throughout Africa.

The cowardly West is no real example of the Courage of Christ.

It should be, but hell if it is…

A NEW RITUAL (FOR A VERY OLD PURPOSE)

I started a new ritual for the New Year which I have found to be most satisfying and edifying.

I built a new shrine (replacing my old) which now includes candles to Christ and the Paraclete, a basin of Holy Water, a plate for the Communion Bread (a paten), a goblet for the Communion Wine, a glass container for salt,  an incense container, and it sits near my stereo so that as I use it I can listen to sacred music by Bach, Mozart, and others.

Then, after my personal prayers and meditations, but before my work prayers I take communion for myself. I bless all of the elements, ignite the incense and candles, put on the music, and then take communion before saying my work prayers and beginning my day. Afterwards I sprinkle myself with the salt and the Holy Water and then sit for a space listening to the sacred music, thinking about what I should be doing for the day, and contemplating the condition of my own soul.

This is extremely invigorating to me, while simultaneously being relaxing and edifying, and I suspect it will be extremely good practice for when I eventually become a priest.

Anyway, this has been going so well for me that I have decided that once a week I shall conduct the same ritual for and with my entire family.

Eventually I intend to add more elements to my shrine like some Holy Icons I have designed and devised (and if I become good enough at it, will paint myself) and some other relics I think will be helpful and useful. I am thoroughly enjoying this.

Have a good day folks. And a very productive one.

NOT FOR YOUR SAKE ALONE

Uninterrupted time with God is far better spent discussing not your own problems, but rather the miracle of the way he has ordered everything. For in the ordering of the Universe lies not only the solution to your own small problems, but the Clue and the Key to His Own Nature, which is the way everything works when it works as it should.

Seek God as He truly is and you will also discover everything else as it was meant to be. Seek only to discuss yourself with God and that is all you will learn of. And in such a huge universe of such infinite potential that is a very small subject indeed.

It is far wiser most of the time to put yourself aside and ask God what He can teach you about everything else. In this way not only will you learn of Him, but also you will learn what you are, and more importantly, you will learn why you are.

On the other hand, it is not truly possible to understand God’s Nature by concentrating upon your own. The man who seeks God will find both God and himself, and everything else for that matter, whereas the man who seeks himself alone will find himself alone. Seek not yourself but those Frontiers well beyond you where God dwells. In this way you will have a home and a Guide no matter where you wander.

Therefore, ask not what God can do for you, ask rather what God is, and what He has made you capable of discovering, and doing. Then for God’s sake, and especially for your own, do it.

CHARISMA AS WONDER AND WEAPON

John Potts

is a professor of media at Macquarie University in Australia. He is interested in culture and technology, digital media, media history, contemporary arts, and intellectual history. His latest book is The New Time and Space (2015). 

What is charisma? 

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Mixed blessings. Photo by Paolo Sarteschi/Flickr

Charisma is easier to recognise than to define. Newspaper and magazine articles consistently identify charismatic leaders – such as John F Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr, Barack Obama – but those same articles rarely describe exactly what charisma is. It is often debated whether charisma is necessary for a ‘transformational’ leader, while shelves of self-help books optimistically promise to impart the ‘secrets’ of charisma. Other people hold that charisma cannot be ‘unlocked’ or ‘discovered’ at all because it is innate and present only in the rarest of individuals. So, to ask anew, just what is charisma?

Charisma’s origins are found in the letters of Paul the Apostle, written from around 50 AD. This is the first written use of the word ‘charisma’, derived from the Greek ‘charis’ (grace). For Paul, charisma meant ‘the gift of God’s grace’ or ‘spiritual gift’. In Paul’s letters to the fledgling Christian communities spread around the Roman empire, he wrote of the ‘charismata’ or spiritual gifts available to each member of the community. He identified nine charismata, including prophecy, healing, speaking in tongues, interpreting that speech, teaching, and service – a range of gifts both supernatural and pragmatic.

For Paul, charisma was a mystical notion: the gifts were thought to alight on each individual without the need for church authority or institution. And there was no charisma of leadership: the interlocking charismata were meant to serve the community without the need for an imposed leader. By the fourth century, however, the Church had largely suppressed the notion of charisma deriving directly from the Holy Spirit. Conveniently, in its place was a hierarchy of Church leadership, with bishops at the top, interpreting the fixed religious laws inscribed in the newly authorised Bible. Charisma survived only in heretical outposts, such as prophets claiming direct inspiration without the mediations of bishop or scripture. Such heresies were forcibly repressed by the Church.

The idea of charisma then lay largely dormant for centuries. Only in the writings of the 20th-century German sociologist Max Weber was it reborn. In fact, we owe the contemporary meaning of ‘charisma’ to Weber, who took Paul’s religious idea and secularised it, placing charisma within a sociology of authority and leadership. For Weber, there were three types of authority: the rational-legal, the traditional, and the charismatic. Weber saw the charismatic form of authority as the revolutionary, even unstable, antidote to the ‘iron cage’ of rationalisation found in the contemporary ‘disenchanted’ world. He held that there was something heroic about the charismatic leader, who galvanised followers with great feats or with the ‘charisma of rhetoric’ found in inspiring speeches.

Weber defined charisma as ‘a certain quality of an individual personality by virtue of which he is considered extraordinary and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman, or at least specifically exceptional powers or qualities’. He traced charismatic leadership through history, in the person of great military or religious leaders – and also held out the hope that charismatic leadership would continue to emerge, even in the highly regulated bureaucracies of the modern world.

Weber died in 1920, and did not live to see the application of his idea to contemporary politics and culture. Perhaps that’s a good thing, since the first political leaders to be described as charismatic were Mussolini and Hitler. For many European intellectuals, this created the sense that charismatic authority had a sinister dimension. That same dark side of charismatic leadership long remained: 1960s cult leaders such as Charles Manson, with their spellbinding hold on followers, were readily termed charismatic. By this point, Weber’s works had been translated, so that ‘charisma’ was popular in the English-speaking world from about the 1950s.

The first politicians that the media identified as charismatic in a positive, rather than demagogic, sense were JFK, and his brother Robert F Kennedy. After the 1960s, ‘charisma’ moved more into mainstream usage as it was applied to outstanding individuals other than political leaders: the late Muhammad Ali, for instance, was perhaps the most charismatic of all.

Today, charisma is used to describe a range of individuals: politicians, celebrities, business leaders. We understand charisma as a special, innate quality that sets certain individuals apart and draws others to them. It is considered a rare, specially endowed quality: in US politics, for instance, Bill Clinton was thought to have a charismatic presence, as is Obama – but nobody else in recent political memory earns the accolade. In business, Steve Jobs is the archetypal charismatic leader: visionary, driven, but also volatile and unstable. And in celebrity culture, charisma is regarded as a sign of rare authenticity when much of the entertainment industry is devoted to the plastic manufacture of fame in the manner of Idols or The Voice. Charisma cannot be created by reality TV.

Is charisma even desirable in contemporary politicians? The political biographer David Barnett has called charisma ‘one of the most dangerous concepts in a democracy that you can find’. Charismatic leaders can inspire followers with soaring rhetoric – which can also prove divisive and damaging to a party’s (or a nation’s) fortunes. Political parties are generally content with popular, unthreatening, folksy leaders who appeal to ordinary people. In Australia, Paul Keating was a charismatic, visionary prime minister, but also a schismatic leader who alienated much of the Labor Party’s traditional ‘heartland’ with his perceived arrogance. His successor, John Howard, was universally regarded as charisma-free, but his very ordinariness turned out to be his greatest asset: it was a reassuring rather than threatening style of leadership. Meanwhile in Italy, Silvio Berlusconi was a populist leader whose tenure as prime minister was deleterious for democracy. The charismatic leader might be thrilling, even captivating, but the success of that leader might not leave a political party, or a democracy, in a healthy state.

‘Charisma’, as an idea, spans 2,000 years. Is there a link between contemporary charisma – considered a special form of authority – and the religious charisma of Paul’s time? It lies in the notion of innateness, of the gift. Paul said that no bishop or Church required the blessing of charisma: it simply lighted on the individual, as a spiritual gift. Charisma today is enigmatic, an unknown or X factor, somehow irreducible. Nobody knows why rare individuals are blessed with charisma: it remains, as ever, a mysterious gift.

HOMELAND

All of these people died in faith without receiving the promises, but they saw the promises from a distance and welcomed them. They confessed that they were strangers and immigrants on earth.  

People who say this kind of thing make it clear that they are looking for a homeland.

 

If they had been thinking about the country that they had left, they would have had the opportunity to return to it.  But at this point in time, they are longing for a better country, that is, a heavenly one.

Therefore, God isn’t ashamed to be called their God—he has prepared a habitation for them.

YOUR CHOICE

Now once Solomon finished building the Lord’s temple, the royal palace, and everything else he wanted to accomplish,  the Lord appeared to him a second time in the same way he had appeared to him at Gibeon.

The Lord said to him, “I have heard your prayer and your cry to me. I have set apart this temple that you built, to put my name there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.  

solomon-temple

As for you, if you walk before me just as your father David did, with complete dedication and honesty, and if you do all that I have commanded, and keep my regulations and case laws,  then I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, just as I promised your father David, ‘You will never fail to have a successor on the throne of Israel.’

However, if you or your sons turn away from following me and don’t observe the commands and regulations that I gave you, and go to serve other gods, and worship them,  then I will remove Israel from the land I gave them and I will reject the temple that I dedicated for my name. Israel will become a joke, insulted by everyone.  

Everyone who passes by this temple, so lofty now, will be shocked and will whistle, wondering, Why has the Lord done such a thing to this land and this temple?

The answer will come: Because they deserted the Lord their God, who brought their ancestors out of Egypt’s land. They embraced other gods, worshiping and serving them. That is why the Lord brought all this disaster on them.”

STILL TO COME

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us-ward. For the earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the revealing of the sons of God.  For the creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will, but by reason of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.

 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.  And not only so, but ourselves also, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for our adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

 For in hope were we saved: but hope that is seen is not hope: for who hopeth for that which he seeth?

But if we hope for that which we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

POWER OVER THE WORLD OF DEATH

And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as one dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying, 
“Fear not; I am the First and the Last,  and the Living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore, and I have the Keys of Death and power over the World of Death.
 Write therefore the things which thou sawest, and the things which are, and the things which shall come to pass hereafter…”

THE LAW IS HOLY AND GOOD

Therefore, what are we to say? That the Torah is sinful? Heaven forbid! Rather, the function of the Torah was that without it, I would not have known what sin is. For example, I would not have become conscious of what greed is if the Torah had not said, “Thou shalt not covet.”
 But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, worked in me all kinds of evil desires — for apart from Torah, sin is dead.  I was once alive outside the framework of Torah. But when the commandment really encountered me, sin sprang to life,  and I died. The commandment that was intended to bring me life was found to be bringing me death!  For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me; and through the commandment, sin killed me.
 So the Torah is holy; that is, the Commandment and the Law is holy, just and good.

THE COPY AND THE READING

 Then Y’hoshua built an altar to Adonai, the God of Isra’el, on Mount ‘Eival,  as Moshe the servant of Adonai had ordered the people of Isra’el to do (this is written in the book of the Torah of Moshe), an altar of uncut stones that no one had touched with an iron tool. On it they offered burnt offerings to Adonai and sacrificed peace offerings.  He wrote there on the stones a copy of the Torah of Moshe, inscribing it in the presence of the people of Isra’el. Then all Isra’el, including their leaders, officials and judges, stood on either side of the ark in front of the cohanim, who were L’vi’im and who carried the ark for the covenant of Adonai. The foreigners were there along with the citizens. Half of the people were in front of Mount G’rizim and half of them in front of Mount ‘Eival, as Moshe the servant of Adonai had ordered them earlier in connection with blessing the people of Isra’el.  After this, he read all the words of the Torah, the blessing and the curse, according to everything written in the book of the Torah.  There was not a word of everything Moshe had ordered that Y’hoshua did not read before all Isra’el assembled, including the women, the little ones and the foreigners living with them.

THE OLD MAN AND THE NEW

Do not lie to one another, for you have stripped off the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new [spiritual] self who is being continually renewed in true knowledge in the image of Him who created the new self—  a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, [nor between nations whether barbarian or Scythian, nor in status whether slave or free, but Christ is all, and in all so believers are equal in Christ, without distinction.

 So, as God’s own chosen people, who are holy set apart, sanctified for His purpose and well-beloved by God Himself, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience which has the power to endure whatever injustice or unpleasantness comes, with good temper;  bearing graciously with one another, and willingly forgiving each other if one has a cause for complaint against another; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so should you forgive.  Beyond all these things put on and wrap yourselves in unselfish love, which is the perfect bond of unity for everything is bound together in agreement when each one seeks the best for others.

THE CITIES OF REFUGE

Then the Lord said to Joshua:  “Tell the Israelites to designate the cities of refuge, as I instructed you through Moses, so that anyone who kills a person accidentally and unintentionally may flee there and find protection from the avenger of blood.  When they flee to one of these cities, they are to stand in the entrance of the city gate and state their case before the elders of that city. Then the elders are to admit the fugitive into their city and provide a place to live among them.  If the avenger of blood comes in pursuit, the elders must not surrender the fugitive, because the fugitive killed their neighbor unintentionally and without malice aforethought.  They are to stay in that city until they have stood trial before the assembly and until the death of the high priest who is serving at that time. Then they may go back to their own home in the town from which they fled.”

 So they set apart Kedesh in Galilee in the hill country of Naphtali, Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim, and Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the hill country of Judah.  East of the Jordan (on the other side from Jericho) they designated Bezer in the wilderness on the plateau in the tribe of Reuben, Ramoth in Gilead in the tribe of Gad, and Golan in Bashan in the tribe of Manasseh.  Any of the Israelites or any foreigner residing among them who killed someone accidentally could flee to these designated cities and not be killed by the avenger of blood prior to standing trial before the assembly.

MAN OUT OF TIME

MAN OUT OF TIME

I can name a helluvah lot more than that: our absolute immorality and amorality, our obsession with politics, our thinking that we need to be constantly saved from ourselves by secular saviors, the idea that the government must control everything about us, our pathetic fear of death, our sociological and pathological hiding from death, our need to be entertained at every moment, our political propaganda system disguised as “public education,” the twisted idea that man is his own god and our object of self-worship, our disconnect from the natural world, our renewed paganism (I mean that in multiple senses), how little we use our own senses and minds, the crazy concept that there are no sins, only experiences, and I could go on and on and on.

Then again, I fully admit – I’m a man out of time.

Five Things Medieval People Would Hate About the Modern World

By Danièle Cybulskie

Although a medieval person vacationing in the twenty-first century would no doubt be overjoyed at things like electricity, modern transportation, and flushing toilets, there are a lot of things they probably wouldn’t appreciate about our time. Here are five things a medieval person might just hate about the modern world.

Portrait of a Man by Albrecht Durer

Portrait of a Man by Albrecht Durer

1. Our Oversharing

While I imagine mobile phones being embraced quickly, I do think the idea would be mystifying at first, and not just because they look like magic. After the initial enthusiasm, I can easily imagine a medieval person asking, “But who do you actually need to talk to right away, all the time?” Because of the pace of distance communication in the Middle Ages, people didn’t communicate as much trivial information as we do to as many people as we do across the astounding distances that we do. Undoubtedly, they’d welcome the chance to immediately communicate transportation mishaps (“My horse just blew a shoe…”) and medical emergencies, but I imagine it would take some time to adjust to the idea of sharing every thought (and meal) with the world.

2. Our Work Schedules

Medieval people worked hard for a living, but between Sundays, and the many, many saints’ days and religious feasts, medieval people actually got more official holidays than modern people do. Also, when it got too dark to work outside, outside work stopped. For modern people, connectivity has made it all too easy to work well past the hours we’re paid to work, while frantically squeezing in domestic chores. It might be hard to explain to a medieval visitor why we are still working so hard when our technology should be giving us more free time. Medieval people could well think we’re nuts.

3. Our Memories

A medieval person dropped into our century would be stunned by the amount of information we have access to – it’s one of this century’s greatest achievements. However, he or she would also be stunned to know how little we remember any of it. In the Middle Ages, students got their degrees by listening, remembering, and putting together long arguments based on what they’d learned, while students today may not remember their class schedules because they’re programmed into their phones. Modern people can depend on having the ability to look up what we need when we need it, so we don’t feel pressure to remember as much, but it’s very likely that a medieval time traveler might see this as a failing of ours.

4. Our Lack of Privacy

Medieval lives were very structured by rules put forth by the clergy and secular authorities; rules that were meant to control all sorts of public and private behaviours. It’s safe to say that medieval people comfortably ignored many of these rules – as long as they felt they weren’t going to get caught. The sheer number of cameras being pointed at modern people all day, every day would probably be tremendously unnerving to a medieval visitor (or anyone travelling from the past, for that matter), not to mention the power of a quick Google search to find out more than you ever needed to know about anything or anyone in less than a second. (I might just take bets on how quickly a medieval person might Google his/her ex, though.)
5. Our Obsessive Tracking

Modern people love, love, love statistics. We especially love statistics that involve ourselves. It would probably take quite a long time to explain to a medieval person why we need wearable technology that measures our steps, our sleep, and even our – ahem – bedroom activities. If we feel tired, they’d probably say, we already know we didn’t sleep well; if we have excess weight, we aren’t exercising enough; if we spend that much energy in the bedroom… well, isn’t any time spent at those activities a good thing? I’m not sure “because it’s cool” would be enough to convince a medieval person that they should take home a FitBit, but you just never know.

While there is so much about modern life that would be appealing to a medieval visitor (antibiotics might be first on the list), it would be pretty presumptuous to think that they would immediately jump at the chance to stay in the twenty-first century. We are so much the same as these ancestors of ours, and yet we are so very different in myriad ways. Before we dismiss their time period as being a terrible place to live, it’s worth taking a minute to see our own time through their eyes.

WITHOUT GOD from DIVINE SOPHIA

Without God man is a complete cipher, endless in his ambitions, but with only one aim –

himself.

“OH FOOLISH MEN, AND SLOW OF HEART…”

That very day two of them were going to a village named Emma′us, about seven miles from Jerusalem,  and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them.

But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation which you are holding with each other as you walk?”

And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cle′opas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

And he said to them, “What things?”

And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people,  and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since this happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; and they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb, and found it just as the women had said; but him they did not see.”

And he said to them, “O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He appeared to be going further, but they constrained him, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them.

When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight.

They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?” And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven gathered together and those who were with them, who said, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!”

Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread…

 

HAPPY EASTER FOLKS IT IS THE MORN OF OUR GREAT RESURRECTION

THE BYZANTINE PILGRIMAGE

I would have very much liked to have made such a  Pilgrimage at such a period of time.

Pilgrims’ Progress to Byzantine Jerusalem

Ancient pilgrimages to the Holy Land

helena

Jerusalem has been revered as a holy city for millennia—with pilgrims a staple feature in its bustling streets. Egeria’s Travels and the journals of the Bordeaux Pilgrim and the Piacenza Pilgrim demonstrate that this was as true in the Byzantine period as it is today.In the September/October 2014 issue of BAR, “After Hadrian’s Banishment: Jews in Christian Jerusalem” examines the diverse population of Byzantine Jerusalem. Despite being banned from living in Jerusalem after the Bar-Kokhba Revolt (132–135 A.D.), Jews were once again living in the city by the Byzantine period.

The Roman emperor Hadrian, who was responsible for expelling the Jews from Jerusalem, renamed the city Aelia Capitolina in the second century and left it to an overwhelmingly pagan population—Roman soldiers and citizens and the Hellenized residents of Palestine. When Constantine made Christianity a lawful religion in 325 A.D., Jerusalem became a Christian city. However, far from being transformed overnight, the population of Byzantine Jerusalem remained diverse with minorities, such as Jews, living in the city.

An interesting facet of this population was pilgrims—both Christian and Jewish. Traveling from distant lands, pilgrims came to worship in the Holy Land. Their accounts—from Egeria’s Travels and the journals of the Bordeaux Pilgrim and the Piacenza Pilgrim to the better-known writings about Helena, mother of Constantine, and Eudocia, wife of Theodosius II—offer valuable insight into life in Byzantine Jerusalem and the Holy Land. Egeria’s Travels even included a map.

While some pilgrims are known to us by name, such as Egeria the nun (author of Egeria’s Travels), others remain anonymous, like the Bordeaux Pilgrim and the Piacenza Pilgrim.

The Bordeaux Pilgrim is the earliest known Christian pilgrim who left an account of his journey to the Holy Land. Chronicling his travels in 333–334, the pilgrim began in Burdigala—modern-day Bordeaux in France, hence the name the Bordeaux Pilgrim—and passed through northern Italy, the Danube Valley, Constantinople, Asia Minor and Syria on his way to Byzantine Jerusalem. The journal kept by the Bordeaux Pilgrim is known as the Itinerarium Burdigalense. While the original copy of his journal is lost, the Itinerarium Burdigalense was transmitted over several centuries and survived in four early manuscripts written between the eighth and tenth centuries.


How can we reconstruct and visualize ancient and medieval pilgrimage routes? Find out in “Map Quests: Geography, Digital Humanities and the Ancient World” by Sarah E. Bond in Bible History Daily.


In his journal, the Bordeaux Pilgrim describes how Jews visited the Temple Mount and mourned upon “a pierced stone” (lapis pertusus).Egeria was a pious woman from Galicia, Spain, who traveled around the Holy Land in the years 381 to 384 A.D. Writing in Latin, she chronicled her travels in a devout letter—the Itinerarium Egeriae or Egeria’s Travels. Many believe that she was a nun because she addressed her letter to her “beloved sisters.”

christian-ampulla jewish-ampulla

Only fragments of Egeria’s Travels have survived, the original letter long since lost. The middle section of Egeria’s Travels, documenting about four months of her pilgrimage, was preserved in the 11th-century manuscript Codex Aretinus. This medieval manuscript also went missing for several centuries, but it was rediscovered in 1884 at the monastic library in S. Maria in Arezzo, Italy, by Italian scholar Gian Francesco Gamurrini.Egeria described holy sites in Byzantine Jerusalem, detailing religious processions and rituals among Christians. Her account provides useful information about liturgical worship in the fourth century, when the church calendar was still developing. For instance, Egeria visited Byzantine Jerusalem before December 25 was fixed and recognized as Jesus’ birthday. However, at this time she documented that there was already a procession from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to Mount Zion that took place on the Sunday of Pentecost.

The anonymous Piacenza Pilgrim journeyed to the Holy Land in the 570s from the city of Piacenza in northern Italy. Itinerarium Antonini Placentini, his journal, overflows with wondrous tales from his travels. It recounts traditions about holy sites and relics and includes interesting anecdotes—some which seem nothing short of miraculous. When witnessing a baptism in the Jordan River on the Feast of Epiphany, the pilgrim describes how the waters stood still: “At dawn … the priest goes down to the river. The moment he starts blessing the water the Jordan turns back on itself with a roar, and the water stays still till the baptism is finished.”1 By the time the Piacenza Pilgrim visited Byzantine Jerusalem, Christmas was celebrated on December 25.

Perhaps the most famous Byzantine pilgrim was Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, who came to Jerusalem in 326–327 when she was 80 years old. Eusebius of Caesarea notes that she contributed to the construction of both the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and the Church of the Ascension on the Mount of Olives.

Jerusalem lies at the heart of Biblical archaeology. In the free eBook Jerusalem Archaeology: Exposing the Biblical City, learn about the latest finds in the Biblical world’s most vibrant city.

Helena is best-known for discovering Jesus’ tomb and the True Cross. Appended to his translation of Eusebius’s Ecclesiastical History, Tyrannius Rufinus relates the legend of how the empress found the True Cross: Three crosses were uncovered at a site that Helena had begun excavating, and a test was performed to determine which cross had been used to crucify Jesus. A very sick woman was brought to the crosses. Nothing happened when she touched the first two. Upon touching the third cross, however, she was miraculously healed. This proved to everyone present that Helena had found the True Cross, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was built over the site of discovery.More than a hundred years after Helena, another empress took a pilgrimage to Byzantine Jerusalem. Eudocia, wife of Theodosius II, journeyed to the holy city in 439. Later, after separating from her husband the emperor, Eudocia made Jerusalem her home. The empress funded numerous construction projects, including the building of St. Stephen’s Church and monastery and the rebuilding of the wall around Mount Zion and the Siloam Pool. A skilled poet, she also wrote literature, including the epic poem Martyrdom of St. Cyprian.

Pilgrims visiting Byzantine Jerusalem—both royal and common—often purchased eulogia, implements thought to ward off evil. One type of eulogia manufactured in Byzantine Jerusalem were ampullae, hexagonal glass bottles likely used to hold holy water or oil. Ampullae with both Christian and Jewish symbols have been unearthed. These artifacts demonstrate that there were enough Christian and Jewish pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem to warrant the making of eulogia for them.

More information about the population of Byzantine Jerusalem—and about the Christian and Jewish pilgrims who visited the Holy Land—can be found in the article “After Hadrian’s Banishment: Jews in Christian Jerusalem” in the September/October 2014 issue of BAR.

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SINCE THE WORLD BEGAN

“Yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers.

But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled.

Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began…”

CIRCUMCISE YOUR HEART AND THERE WILL BE JUSTICE FOR ALL

“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command you today for your own well-being?

Indeed heaven and the heaven of heavens belong to the Lord your God, also the earth with all that is in it.  The Lord delighted only in your fathers, to love them; and He chose their descendants after them, you above all peoples, as it is this day.

Therefore circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer.

For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe. He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing…”

WE MUST CAST OUR LOTS

My New Testament scripture readings this past week have been from the Book of Acts (of the Apostles).

Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,  beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.

And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

 

NOT BY BREAD ALONE: I AM ALONE AND I STAND ALONE AND FEARLESS

As part of my scripture readings for this week I read this from the Book of Deuteronomy then made a word by word translation into ancient Hebrew of some parts of this chapter.

After reading this (indeed I recommend reading the entire chapter and the entire section of the book for even meaning) in context it adds a huge new dimension to me of exactly what Jesus said several times in the New Testament on these very subjects, but also especially what he said to Satan. This is rich, very rich indeed in metaphor and meaning.

Also a lotta people think that Jesus basically introduced the idea of God as Father, God as Abba, that he introduced a new idea into Judaism and that what happened in the Old Testament is not only a precursor but a different set of principles to what he did.  An old, antique, but now superseded Covenant.

I see no evidence of that at all (either in what Jesus said or did, indeed he said the very opposite on numerous occasions) , it is the very bad theology of modern and in some cases Medieval Man. Actually Christ saw himself as the fulfillment of the groundwork of the Old Testament, not an Old Covenant replacement or substitute, but a real fulfillment of the Old Testament,  and he took the idea of God as Father, God as Abba, and God as Parent directly from the Old Testament, where it was often espoused in both the Torah and by the Prophets.

I understand far more fully now exactly why Jesus chose to echo these very passages when  he stood alone.

Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors. 

Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. 

He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you…

FAR THE LESSER THING

This morning, while getting ready for church we were discussing the past when my wife mentioned an old spiritual (song) that was her grandfather’s favorite hymn. I knew it of course and immediately began to sing the first few stanzas (even though I’m not much of a singer).

Then something occurred to me and I said out loud to my wife,

“You know, despite all of the problems between blacks and whites at that period of time my grandfather would have immediately recognized the same hymn and they would have known the same lyrics. Especially what that hymn implied about the future. There was, despite all other things back then, a recognizable Christian and religious sub-culture that most everyone knew and was a part of, regardless of anything else. And that was true for a lot of the entire nation back then too, not just the South.

I’ll bet though that you could sing those lyrics to most people nowadays and they wouldn’t understand them, know the source, or even understand that it was a hymn or what it ever implied. There is so little common between us anymore. And we are not richer because we have nothing between us, we are far the poorer for it.”

And we are...

 

WHAT CAN STAND IN THE WAY…

Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship,  and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet.  The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”

 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.

 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading:

“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,
    and as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
    so he did not open his mouth.
 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.
    Who can speak of his descendants?
    For his life was taken from the earth.”[

 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?”  Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.

 As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?”  And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.  When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.  Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.

THE WORLD ITSELF COULD NOT CONTAIN

After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tibe′ri-as; and he revealed himself in this way.  Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathan′a-el of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zeb′edee, and two others of his disciples were together.  Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat; but that night they caught nothing.

Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.  Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any fish?” They answered him, “No.”  He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, for the quantity of fish.  That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his clothes, for he was stripped for work, and sprang into the sea.  But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.

When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish lying on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three of them; and although there were so many, the net was not torn.  Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord.  Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go.” (This he said to show by what death he was to glorify God.) And after this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Peter turned and saw following them the disciple whom Jesus loved, who had lain close to his breast at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!” The saying spread abroad among the brethren that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?”

This is the disciple who is bearing witness to these things, and who has written these things; and we know that his testimony is true.

But there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.