Category Archives: Religion

THE HEATLESS SUN

THE HEATLESS SUN (As a follow Up to the Ghostless Machine)

Francis is, by the way, and in my opinion the single worst pope I have seen in my lifetime. He might as well be a secular Western European politician or an American progressive liberal professor of religion.

He is no Man of Miracle and High Ambition, as was John Paul, or even a Man of High yet Humble Mind, as was Benedict.

Rather he is a devoted apparatchik and zealous liberal agent of that queer modern fusion known as political-religion – posing as a pope.

On the other hand he must be extremely comforting to the “modern Christian,” be he Catholic or Protestant. You know, the one who believes nothing (terrified of the very idea of miracles, or that they might stain themselves by being involved in one) and wants desperately to share that state of eternally mundane miasma with everyone, so that like a good Socialist Christian all are equally moderate in soullessness.

He is, after all, precisely what they are… how could they not be enthralled?

Pascal’s Fire & 8 Minutes Till Darkness

I had a long late breakfast this morning with a Catholic friend, a native of Baton Rouge who now lives in New England, but is in town visiting his family. When we sat down at the restaurant, I mentioned to him that I had seen this tweet from a very solid Catholic priest friend:

Fr. Matt Fish@matthewjfish

Gospel today: can we please stop talking about sharing the loaves? Instead: mountains and theophanies, new Moses, Passover meal, new Exodus, anticipation of eschatological banquet, sacrifice of the lamb, kingship of Jesus, miracle vs sign, all acceptable alternatives.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

To which I had responded (on Twitter) by quoting part of Blaise Pascal’s note at the end of a late-night mystical vision in 1654. Here is the entire quote from Pascal, for whom this vision occasioned a deeper conversion:

FIRE.

GOD of Abraham, GOD of Isaac, GOD of Jacob
not of the philosophers and of the learned.
Certitude. Certitude. Feeling. Joy. Peace.
GOD of Jesus Christ.
My God and your God.
Your GOD will be my God.
Forgetfulness of the world and of everything, except GOD.
He is only found by the ways taught in the Gospel.
Grandeur of the human soul.
Righteous Father, the world has not known you, but I have known you.
Joy, joy, joy, tears of joy.
I have departed from him:
They have forsaken me, the fount of living water.
My God, will you leave me?
Let me not be separated from him forever.
This is eternal life, that they know you, the one true God, and the one that you sent, Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ.
I left him; I fled him, renounced, crucified.
Let me never be separated from him.
He is only kept securely by the ways taught in the Gospel:
Renunciation, total and sweet.
Complete submission to Jesus Christ and to my director.
Eternally in joy for a day’s exercise on the earth.
May I not forget your words. Amen.

My friend shook his head, smiling sardonically. “I had the ‘miracle of sharing’ homily at mass this morning!” he said. He was angry about it.

This is a sad old joke for Catholics. When the Gospel reading is the story of Christ feeding the multitude with just a few loaves and fishes, some Catholic priests (like, um, this guy) are in the habit of downplaying the supernatural core of the event, and saying that the real miracle here was the “miracle of sharing” — the idea that the generosity Christ inspired in people’s hearts is what that story is about. The Catholic blogger Amy Welborn once wrote about this phenomenon (which some Protestants have had to endure too); the unnamed acquaintance in her story is me. I was still Catholic then, and had been at mass that day in St. Francisville, when I heard the priest give that lame homily. When I politely confronted him about it after mass, he pulled me out of his way.

The “Miracle Of Sharing” is shorthand among certain orthodox Catholics as a symbol for the desacralization of the faith by priests who don’t really believe in it, not as Pascal’s fire. My friend this morning said that listening to that lazy homily this morning at mass, with the meaning of the Cardinal McCarrick scandal weighing heavily on his mind, infuriated him. I blog here about our ensuing conversation with his permission, though I’m not going to name him.

“You remember how you had on your blog a couple of weeks ago that stuff about the final pagan generation?” he said.

He was referring to this post about how pagan Roman elites in the fourth century complacently believed that the old religion was going to endure. Even though the ground itself had shifted under their feet throughout the century, as Christian conversions continued throughout the Empire, they didn’t see what was happening around them. All the outward forms of pagan religion — the temples, the shrines, the public celebrations — were still more or less in place, even though the inner light of pagan belief was fast dimming. Then suddenly, paganism was gone. Historian Edward Watts, author of 2015’s The Final Pagan Generationwrites about how these elites turned out to have been the last people educated and formed intellectually in classical pagan culture. They did not recognize what was happening to their civilization. It had always been pagan, and always would be, they thought … until suddenly, it wasn’t anymore, and never was again.

Anyway, my friend said this morning that he agrees with me that Christians today — he was talking about his fellow Catholics in particular, but nodded when I said this is true of all Christians in the West — are like the Final Pagan Generation.

“It takes eight minutes for light to reach earth from the sun,” he said. “If the sun stopped exploding, if it went dark, it would be eight minutes before we knew it. I feel like we’re  living in that eight minutes now, about the faith.”

He explained that from what he sees around him, the Catholic faith is pretty much a dead letter. My friend is a deeply convinced believer, but the corruption in the clergy and in the episcopate has left him reeling. We’ve been friends for a while, and I know that he’s been undeceived for years about the real state of things in the Church. But the Cardinal McCarrick thing seems to have been a breaking point for him. He’s filled with disgust and anger at the Catholic bishops, doubting now how many of them have faith at all. How can you believe in Jesus Christ but facilitate so much corruption, sexual and otherwise? he said.

My friend is no Puritan. But he has hit a wall, and he has hit it hard. The “miracle of sharing” sermon stood out to him as a symbol of the total spiritual mediocrity of the Church in our time and place. The house is burning down around them, and sentimental priests can’t stop talking about that warm feeling in their hearts.

“They think they’re giving us mercy, but they’re not,” said my friend, who has suffered some serious setbacks in his own life in the past couple of years. “I’m desperate for mercy. I need it so much in my life. The hard truths that the Church teaches, that’s real mercy, not this fake stuff. Those truths give me what I need to bear up to all these trials. To live sacrificially when the world says the easy thing would be to give up.”

“To be honest, I don’t know if I’ve ever looked up to a priest as a spiritual father,” he continued. “I guess I had to learn a long time ago not to expect anything from them other than giving out the Sacrament.”

“Where I live, the Church is over. It’s done,” he said. “I was at mass a few weeks ago, and looked around, and my family were the only people there under 70. Nobody else is coming.”

It’s true that New England used to be the most Catholic part of the United States. Now it is one of the most secular. My friend says that when the grey hairs start to die off, very few believers will be around to replace them. And yet, there’s little sense of urgency in the Church there, he says — at least not the kind of urgency inspiring the clergy and the laity to search for Pascal’s Fire. They’re just content to fade into the mist.

It’s different in south Louisiana, he said — but this is little consolation. He grew up in this place, immersed in Catholic culture. “I feel like living in New England puts me ten to fifteen years ahead of y’all down here,” he said. “What we’re living through up north is coming here, but nobody seems to understand that.”

Far too many people in the South take comfort in the generally Christian culture here, said my friend. He wants me to understand that he’d take that over the spiritual desolation he’s living and raising his Catholic family in now, but it’s still a very serious problem, because it breeds complacency. Everybody’s happy sending their kids to Catholic school, going to mass on Sunday, hearing about the Miracle of Sharing, and consoling themselves that it’s all going pretty well now, and always will.

Meanwhile, he said, the faith is dying in the hearts of the middle-aged and the young.

“I don’t think it’s going to be the kind of thing where it just gradually declines,” he said. “I think it’s going to be more like one of these things where people just stop showing up. It’s going to be abrupt. Nobody’s going to see it coming, but when it happens, they’re not going to be surprised, either.”

Of course I told him that this is not just a Catholic experience, but a general Christian experience today. It plays out differently among Evangelicals, for example, but it’s there. If it weren’t, Moralistic Therapeutic Deism wouldn’t be the true American religion. An Evangelical pastor friend told me recently over the desperation among so many Evangelicals, always looking for the Next Big Thing — praise bands! smoke machines! — to keep emotions high and the troops rallied, and to keep people from noticing that the churches have been hollowed out from within.

None of this is new with me, of course. My Catholic breakfast friend and I talk about this kind of thing whenever we see each other. What made today’s conversation stand out to me was the power of his “eight minutes to darkness” metaphor — that, and his visceral post-McCarrick anger at the hierarchy and clergy of his own Church. To emphasize: it’s not only about toleration, even encouragement, of sexual sin and corruption, but satisfaction with spiritual “mediocrity” (his word) general in the Catholic Church today. That last one is an accusation that could accurately and justly be leveled at nearly all of us Christians, Catholic and otherwise.

We Christians are living out the Eight Minutes Till Darkness. If we are going to have the ability to see clearly when the lights go out, we are going to have to start tending Pascal’s fire in our own hearts, our own families, our own Christian schools, and our own religious communities. This is what the Benedict Option is about. This, I think, is why people like my older Millennial friend visiting from New England, as well as young Catholics in Europe, are so enthusiastic about the Benedict Option: because they already live in once-Christian lands across which the shadow of night has fallen.

For American Catholics, the McCarrick affair is an apocalypse in the strict sense of the word — that is, an unveiling. Believe it or not, this can be a blessing. It’s better to know the truth, and to go forward undeceived, than to operate under false pretenses. As angry as my Catholic friend is about this corruption, and as little confidence as he has in the bishops and the clergy, he is still committed to the Catholic faith. Now he has to figure out where to go from here, as a husband and a father and a soldier who salutes the uniform of the officer class, but has little to no faith in their ability to lead.

I don’t want to leave you on an anti-clerical note. It’s understandable, given all the news about clerical corruption, and besides, nobody wants to be taken advantage of by bishops who say “we are one body, one body in Christ” as a way of leaning on the laity to pay off the debts the clergy have incurred for molesting children and (in the case of bishops) tolerating it for decades. However, it would be self-serving for the laity to blame the clergy entirely. I’m thinking as I write this of a very fine young Orthodox priest I know who is in a difficult position. He did not tell me this, but someone who knows him passed on to me that no matter what he has done to try to engage his fairly large congregation with actual Orthodoxy (as distinct from ethnic-festival Orthodoxy), they resist and try to shut him down. They don’t want to be bothered with it. They’re fine with Miracle Of Sharing™ Christianity.

A Mainline Protestant friend of mine’s father got mad at his pastor once, for what I was told was good reason. After that, though, the man fell into the habit of finding fault with every pastor the church had. It wasn’t that the old man was always wrong, I was given to understand, but that the old man (who wasn’t old at all when this started) did not compensate for the clergy’s failing by either finding another church, or redoubling his own spiritual disciplines. Instead, he griped about church, and stopped going; his wife went along with it. He told himself and his family that he didn’t need to go to a church building and listen to boring sermons to find God. So he quit going to church, though he told himself that if the clergy would ever get its act together, he might start coming again.

For decades this went on. The old man finally died. I’m told that today, you will find none of that old man’s descendants in that church. Would things have been different for that family had the old man and his wife met the crisis of clerical mediocrity differently, instead of lazily blaming the institution for all their own failings? Maybe, maybe not. But at least their kids and grandkids would have had a better shot at holding onto the faith. In that family, the eight minutes till darkness passed a while back. In my friend’s late father, I very much see the attitude that my own late, Christian but non-churchgoing father had: believing that the faith would always be here because it always had been here, and that the church was like a public utility: always there to make sure that the lights would come on.

He was wrong. It’s going to be like that for all of us, if we don’t kindle Pascal’s fire, and seek the face of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

UPDATE: Well, whaddaya know, here’s what Pope Francis said today about the Loaves & Fishes reading Gospel reading:

Then, at the end of the account, when all were satiated, Jesus asked His disciples to gather the pieces left over, so that nothing would be wasted. And I would like to propose to you this phrase of Jesus: “Gather up the fragments left over, that nothing may be lost” (v. 12). I think of people who are hungry and how much leftover food we throw away . . . Let each one of us think: the food that’s left over at lunch, at dinner, where does it go? In my home, what’s done with this leftover food? Is it thrown out? No. If you have this habit, I give you advice: talk with your grandparents who lived after the War and ask them what they did with leftover food. Never throw away leftover food. It’s re-heated or given to someone who can eat it, who is in need. Never throw away leftover food. This is advice but also an examination of conscience: what is done at home with leftover food?

Let us pray to the Virgin Mary, so that in the world programs dedicated to development, to supplies, to solidarity prevail and not those of hatred, of armaments and of war.

That’s the end of his six-minute homily, but it gives you the gist. If you want to listen to the whole thing, it starts shortly after the 3:00 mark, and the concluding passage above begins about 8:30:

THE GHOSTLESS MACHINE

THE GHOSTLESS MACHINE

Christianity, especially Ancient and Medieval Christianity is awash in the supernatural and in spirituality. And in a far more potent and real form than that of any historical branch of paganism. That’s one reason it replaced paganism, and worldwide.

It is the modern Christian who has castrated Christianity of all its inherent force and power to fix obsessively upon the much smaller issues of politics, culture, entertainment, society, and materialism.

As a matter of fact it is very hard to see where society ends and the church or Christianity begin. It is like a sow who has birthed a fat piglet. Place either upon the plate as cooked ham and without further information you’d be hard pressed to identify the source.

The trouble with modern Christianity in this sense (and there are almost countless problems with modern Christianity) is not that Christianity is not a far more viable and valid form of spirituality than paganism, it is that modern Christianity has no spirituality any longer, just as it has no magic, miracle, or salvific force. Not in the West anyway.

And that began (the abolition of miracles, spirituality, the Mysteries, etc.), rightly or wrongly with the Protestant Revolution. And some things concerning the Protestant Reform should have definitely happened and some things should have never happened at all. But still they did.

And as a result Christianity is now but shadow of itself and a mere machine without a Ghost, Holy or otherwise. Or should I just say it is little more than a mere cultural artefact and a religion Wholly Without a Ghost…

I recently visited the website of a popular company that sells products like deodorant and toothpaste with natural ingredients. Curious to learn more about the business, I visited their blog which was purportedly about the latest trends in health and wellness.

What greeted me was not what I expected. Rather than tips on exercise or healthy eating, the blog featured stories about the healing power of crystals and the benefits of tarot card reading. This was at once surprising and unsurprising, for new age and occult practices, in all their various forms, are experiencing a major resurgence, especially among millennials. But from a company that sells toothpaste?

It is no exaggeration to say that, despite the best efforts of the New Atheists, our culture is more awash in spirituality than ever before. One can hardly go anywhere today without seeing products, articles, and popular gurus encouraging practices like yoga, meditation, reiki—and now, tarot and crystals—as essential to a healthy lifestyle. In the realm of entertainment, hugely popular series like Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Game of Thrones all draw on themes of magic and the supernatural.

What are we to make of this ?

Heresy…or Hunger

From a Christian perspective, many of these trends are undoubtedly suspect or downright heretical. And yet, we should think carefully before issuing anathemas, for while misguided, many of our culture’s flirtations with the occult really betray a deep hunger for the supernatural.

Theologian Alexander Schmemann once said, “To condemn a heresy is relatively easy. What is much more difficult is to detect the question it implies, and to give this question an adequate answer.” He was right. As Catholics, we are often in such a rush to point out what is wrong with neo-pagan practices that we miss the deeper questions they imply. And we certainly fail to give them a satisfying answer.

The truth is, our culture is starving for the supernatural. My generation has been raised to believe that we are nothing more than accidentally advanced apes on an unusually lucky space rock floating in a meaningless sea of nothingness in a universe that could care less whether we lived or died. It is despair inducing in the highest degree. Moreover, we have been told, nearly since infancy, that science has answered nearly all questions of existence, and if any remain unanswered, they will be resolved quite soon. For every question, there is an answer, even before you ask it. Existence is thus no longer wonderfully strange and awe-inspiring, but mundane and prosaic.

As a result, young adults today are desperate for an encounter with authentic mystery. Things like astrology and crystals are attractive because they are strange and defy the scientific-materialist paradigm. There are certainly explanations for how they work, but they require a level of faith. And despite what the pompous atheists claim, we want to have faith in something we can’t fully explain. We are fundamentally religious beings, and we instinctively know there is more to the world than meets the eye. We are hungry for magic and mystery and will embrace the first thing, rightly or wrongly, that offers it.

The Failure of Christianity

Now, you  may be reading this and thinking that Christianity, especially Catholicism, believes and proclaims the existence of supernatural realities, so why abandon it for neo-pagan practices? Wouldn’t their hunger for the supernatural be satisfied at their local parish?

Yes and no. Yes, because the supernatural mysteries taught by the Church do exist. No, because in practice we so often deny them.

We claim to believe in angels and archangels and a host of saints who join us in worship. Yet, we strip our churches bare and make them into beige-carpeted business centers, rather than holy temples.

We claim to believe that each Mass is a miracle that brings God bodily to dwell among us. Yet we make our liturgy a comfortable affair, eliminating anything that is difficult, disorienting, awe-inspiring, ancient, or mysterious. We sing cheesy ditties, hold hands, and pass out the greatest mystery of all, the Holy Eucharist, like a snack in a cafeteria.

We claim our priests have supernatural powers to consecrate, bless, and preach. Yet we water-down or change their sacred formulas, eliminate their rituals, and distribute their duties to laymen as often as possible.

We claim to believe in the Almighty, the Creator of all before whom the burning spirits veil their faces, yet we insist on dragging him down to our level to accommodate our needs and sins. We say we believe in supernatural mystery, but we do all in our power to destroy it at every turn.

If lex orandi, lex credendi is true, then we simply do not believe what we say we believe.

Christian Secularists

To be perfectly honest, we have failed to offer an encounter with mystery for some time now. The mass abandonment of the faith by young people is not so much a sign of their wickedness as an indictment of our own practical unbelief.

As Catholics, we long ago turned the faith into an intellectual game devoid of mysticism, priding ourselves on our clear philosophy and well articulated theological frameworks. But the letter without the spirit, philosophical theology without mystical encounter, kills. It is a head without a heart, and it cannot give life.

When the world walked away—tired of textbook answers and hungry for the Transcendent Mystery—we became not lessworldly but more worldly. We embraced modern, secular modernity, stripping our faith of nearly everything supernatural, and we lost any credibility we had left.

The truth is, most of us live like complete secularists the vast majority of the time. We claim to believe in supernatural realities, but compartmentalize them to one hour, one day per week—and perhaps not even that. Heaven is always somewhere out there, and never really upsets my daily existence. We aren’t taken seriously by modern men and women hungry for the supernatural because we don’t believe in the supernatural, despite what we say.

The Answer

I have been critical to this point because it upsets me to see countless Catholics practically deny the supernatural realities of our faith with banal liturgies and disrespect or even disdain for the holiest things of our religion, and then see the same Catholics criticizing the errors of wayward neo-pagan youth. Until we take our own faith seriously, no one else will.

But I don’t simply want to criticize; I want to offer a solution. The answer is not difficult to discern. It is simply this: Emphasize the supernatural reality of our faith at every turn, recover those traditions which preserve and honor this reality, and thus offer an encounter with what one theologian termed the mysterium tremendum et fascinans—the Great and Awesome Mystery—which is Almighty God.

For everywhere the Holy Eucharist is treated with awesome and painstaking reverence, everywhere buildings still appear to be and are treated like temples, everywhere saints are still venerated and angels called upon, everywhere priests are honored as the supernaturally-endowed mediators that they are, everywhere miracles are still believed in and occur, the faith is growing. And it is almost always young people who flock to such places.

If we want to be a viable alternative to neo-paganism, we need to embrace once again the supernatural traditions of our faith. Our sacred language. Our ancient and venerable rites and formulas. Our “superstitious” Catholic practices. Our symbols. Our mystical traditions of prayer. We don’t need only more catechesis, as if ideas alone could save us. We need more mystery, more transcendence, more ritual, more magic, for lack of a better word.

Every Catholic must become a mystic, in the sense that we live like the supernatural is as real as the air we breathe—because it is. Then, and only then, will we be able to speak authentically to a world hungry for the divine.

COMPLIMENTARY, NOT CONTRADICTORY

Combining sound Scientific Principles with useful Aesic (Aesic simply being the term for all of the various spiritual actions in which I engage) Methods and combining both of those with reliable Theurgical Practices has allowed me to make great advances along all three disciplines and areas of activity.

(As opposed to thinking these various disciplines and endeavours are either a substitute for each other or that they are in some way contradictory to each other. But in fact each is naturally complimentary to the other.)

That seems as if it would be immediately self-obvious idea to all but you would be surprised at the numbers of people to whom this idea seems entirely alien, if not outright heretical…

SEVEN SLEEPERS

Yedi Uyurlar Mağarası (Cave of the Seven Sleepers)

Seven early Christians were sealed into a cave where legend has it they slept unharmed for centuries.

EDIT PLACE

What started as a political protest against Roman paganism became the stuff of religious legend.

In January of 250, the Roman Emperor Decius issued an edict that everyone under his reign must perform a sacrifice dedicating themselves to the empire and to the Roman gods. Understandably, this caused an uproar among young Christian communities, who, though persecuted, had previously been free to worship. Refusal to submit came at the price of death. All the same, many Christians refused to deny their faiths.

Seven young men in Ephesus refused to make the sacrifice and hid in a cave on the outskirts of the city. Tired from fleeing, they fell asleep. The Roman sentries came upon the Seven slumbering peacefully in the cave. Rather than killing them outright, they sealed them in, perhaps in a mockery of Christians’ reverence for Jesus’ entombment. That was the last their families and friends ever heard of them.

Sometime much later, the myth continues, the farmer who owned the land thought to open the cave, perhaps to use as an animal pen. He was shocked to find seven young men inside, still asleep. When the light hit their faces, they awoke. Feeling hungry, they pooled their money and sent one of them to the village to buy food. They warned him to watch out for Romans, but, believing they had slept for a full day, they thought the coast was clear. When the young man reached the market and tried to buy bread, vendors were dismayed to see that he carried Decian coins—which were at least 150 years old by then. The bishop was called in (in the century they slept Christianity had resurfaced full force) to interview the Seven Sleepers, and they all died peacefully just a few hours after.

The cave outside Ephesus was excavated in the 1920s, revealing a number of 5th and 6th century Christian graves. An ancient Church sits atop the cave as well. Religious pilgrims still pay visits to the holy Cave of the Seven Sleepers.

The details of the myth are hotly disputed among the various cultures that tell it. Christians believe that the Seven slept for between 128 and 200 years, but the Qur’an states that they slept for around 300 years. Even the location is unclear. Though this cave in Ephesus is the most commonly visited by religious pilgrims, caves in Jordan, China, Tunisia, and Algeria lay claim to the myth of the Seven Sleepers.

Whatever the truth of story is, its lore has seeped into common culture. For example, in Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish, a sysover (“seven-sleeper”) is someone who sleeps long and hard. Seven Sleepers Day is June 27th, and is the German equivalent of American Groundhog Day.

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.

THE SUN STAYED

Then spake Joshua to Jehovah in the day when Jehovah delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel; and he said in the sight of Israel,

Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon;
And thou, Moon, in the valley of Aijalon.
And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed,
Until the nation had avenged themselves of their enemies.

Is not this written in the book of Jashar? And the sun stayed in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.  And there was no day like that before it or after it, that Jehovah hearkened unto the voice of a man: for Jehovah fought for Israel.

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 DREAM AND THE FEARLESS

But the Lord said to Gideon, “There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will thin them out for you there. If I say, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go; but if I say, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.”

 So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the Lord told him, “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues as a dog laps from those who kneel down to drink.” Three hundred of them drank from cupped hands, lapping like dogs. All the rest got down on their knees to drink.

The Lord said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the others go home.”  So Gideon sent the rest of the Israelites home but kept the three hundred, who took over the provisions and trumpets of the others.

Now the camp of Midian lay below him in the valley.  During that night the Lord said to Gideon, “Get up, go down against the camp, because I am going to give it into your hands.  If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah  and listen to what they are saying. Afterward, you will be encouraged to attack the camp.” So he and Purah his servant went down to the outposts of the camp.  The Midianites, the Amalekites and all the other eastern peoples had settled in the valley, thick as locusts. Their camels could no more be counted than the sand on the seashore.

Gideon arrived just as a man was telling a friend his dream. “I had a dream,” he was saying. “A round loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp. It struck the tent with such force that the tent overturned and collapsed.”

 His friend responded, “This can be nothing other than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands.”

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.

AND THERE YA GO…

I’ve been saying the same thing practically my whole life.

THE LITTLE DEATH OF THE VIKING CAT AND HOW I CAME TO BETTER UNDERSTAND MAGIC AND MIRACLE

THE LITTLE DEATH OF THE VIKING CAT AND HOW I CAME TO BETTER UNDERSTAND MAGIC AND MIRACLE

The Following is an essay I wrote a few weeks back but never had the chance to post for various reasons.  I plan to rework it and include it (or at least the ideas expressed on Theurgy and Thaumaturgy) as part of my new book The Christian Wizard.

____________________________________

We had a rough day today. In one sense at least. Pretty astounding day in others. As it also led me to understand some things I’ve been struggling with for months now.

It began in this fashion. The girls took Alex in to the vet to get neutered and discovered he had both cat leukemia and cat AIDS. Didn’t even know there was a cat AIDS. So we had to put him down.

 I know he’s only a cat, but I have over time grown quite attached to him. Matter of fact I love him. Vets said he must have been in tremendous pain and should have been tired all of the time, but he wasn’t. Like me he seems to have had an incredible tolerance for pain. As far as energy, the cat was a dynamo.

I detest death however. Especially death of the young. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame Death, who I consider to be an Old Friend, and quite kind. It’s the being separated from those you love, even if it’s just a pet that I detest. That part of death. What I call the little death. The loss of the companionship in this world.

On the other hand he (Alex) lived exactly as he wished. The vet said that given the progression of the AIDS it looked like he had sex with a lot of female cats, and he fought and got tore up a lot too. He lived completely free and as he wished. 3 years of wildcatting. He truly was a Viking cat.

Also he was an extremely intelligent and affectionate cat (though I did have to nearly shoot him once to get him straightened out – after that though he was a doll), he just also happened to be huge, adventurous, and reckless as hell. And absolutely fearless.

So although I am sad, my whole family is sad, I am not grieving at all. We had a big celebratory dinner for him tonight and a drinking salute. He’s also going straight into my children’s book The Viking Cats. Actually he was already there, but now I know the heroic death he will have.

Strangely enough his death gave me great reason for optimism and led me to finally and fully grasp an idea of Wizardry, Magic, and God I have been struggling to fully formulate but now I can. At least for the most part.

As some of you know I’ve been studying Advanced Wizardry by ben Abechai. And the Original New Testament, and making my own line by line and word by word translations of both the Old and New Testaments. And so now I’m going to say something that might seem strange, but I’m becoming more and more convinced of it, from both the Old and New Testaments. Reincarnation is real.

Oh, I don’t at all draw the same conclusions as the Indians do, nor do I think it operates in the Hinduistic, and certainly not the Buddhist sense. And it seems extremely rare, I can only find about four instances of it ever being directly and openly mentioned in the Bible, though there are other allusions, but it is there. And it does not seem to work as a universal constant nor does there seem to be anything like a “karmic” inclination to the process. And I’m not sure how it works. It’s too vaguely described. In Hinduism it is thought the soul reincarnates, in Buddhism merely the “impression” or personality (Buddha was both an atheist and a non-spiritualist). In the Bible I don’t see that, but rather what the Hebrews might call the “spirit.” In that very limited sense I think Alex may very well return to us.

(Other things I have become convinced of in my studies are these:  Heaven is at least as big as the physical universe itself, and probably much larger, though concepts like time and space as we know them are utterly meaningless there. That Heaven is filled with Beings and creatures we can’t even imagine or yet begin to imagine, and that nothing ever really dies. Spirits and souls cannot be fully destroyed – though they can be amplified or corrupted and diminished – anymore than matter or energy can be created or destroyed. There is a conservation principle of spiritual and psychological existence similar to, or far more stable than, the conservation principles in our universe of matter and energy. If nothing else everything is retained within the intelligence and memory of God – though neither term is really accurate because the intelligence and memory of God goes well beyond anything we can conceive of with such terminology, and therefor it is simply not possible to erase any viable living, biological, spiritual, or psychological pattern of existence once it is established. And such patterns may lie buried in the “Mind of God” as nothing more than mere potential for what would seem to us an eternity – if it is even possible for the mind of God to be mere potential – I doubt it – but it is never actually erased or destroyed. In other words God never forgets. So nothing ever really dies, it simply changes form in regards to our universe and the kinetic pattern prevalent at the moment it physically exists. So Alex is no more “dead” than I am, though his body has suffered the little death – in relation to me and this world at least. In reality he is no more dead than I am and never will be and as far as I know he may one day be alive again in relation to this world and to me. Though wherever Alex is, and whatever world he inhabits, he lives.)  

But now on to what Alex’s death made me realize about Magic. Now when modern people say magic their mind instantly springs to Harry Potter and making things happen by some unknown agency or invisible force (I think the invisible force part is partially accurate) but that is not how the Magi would have viewed magic at all (they wouldn’t have viewed what they did as magic in our sense, period) but rather Magic, or Magiaesm (the etymology of the real word) involved simply understanding the way the forces of existence actually operate, how, and for what reasons. (And optimally knowing why, though that’s as far beyond Real Magic as it is beyond Real Science, because ultimately, only God actually knows the why). The Magi of course would have called this Magic (though they used a different term), but it wouldn’t have meant some unknown agency. They knew very well the Agency. Just as I do. But because the word Magic now has thousands of years of misapplication and skewed definitions attached to it I’ll use the Greek word I prefer: Theurgy.

Theurgy simply means “a working of God,” or before Judeo/Christian influence upon the Hellenes, “a working of the gods.” But Theurgy really flowered among the early Christians and later the Neo-Platonists and meant a “Working of God.” And although they could be amazing, they were essentially a “little working of God.”

The Greeks had a much, much larger word for what we would call a Miracle, and they would have called a “Wonder-Work of God,” namely, the word Thaumaturgy.  These were huge works of God. Now I had already come to this conclusion and used these definitions on my own. But Alex’s death, along with these studies, has helped me make the final step to what all of this really means. Let me illustrate. Theurgy is a small or little work of God. What do I mean by little work of God? I mean a work of God that is small in scale, not small in meaning, purpose, or targeted effect.

For instance if Jesus healed a blind man that would be Theurgical, and many at that time would consider it “magical.” Look at all of Jesus’ healing miracles and you will see a technique, even if it is only a declarative stamen “Go your way, your daughter is healed.” Here is another prime example. To pay a tax Jesus tells someone to go catch a fish and they will find a coin in its mouth. Even many people today would call that bordering more on magic than miracle. It’s Theurgical. It’s a small work of seeming unknown agency. Of course we know the actual agency but it seems magical. It seems like it shouldn’t be there and that the coin was “conjured” from nothing. Nothing could be less true, but that’s how it looks. Now to anyone witnessing these things, they are “magical” and they are also small in nature. They are not Earth shattering, they are amazing, but not wholly miraculous. As in utterly Miraculous. It’s Theurgy. A Work of God but on a small scale. It’s not  a small scale to the man being cured of blindness, to him it is miraculous and earth-shattering, but to those who are not blind it is astounding and amazing but not “Earth-Shattering.” Another thing about Theurgy is that it is replicable. It can be done over and over again and not just by Jesus, but in some cases the Prophets, like Elijah, or the Magi, can do it. Or even pagan Egyptian priests. Jesus could heal, and cast out demons, and do things of that nature over and over and over again, within reason – he also had to rest. Then again so could many of the the Prophets. Impressive Works of God, true, but relatively small scale and of a subjective and personal nature. I term Works like this Theurgy, or Magiaesm. If you think on a scale then they are smaller Works of God, at the very genesis (excuse the pun) of the Works Scale. They are the province not only of Prophets and of Jesus but also of Magi and Wizards. And much of their power, faculties, and force lies in understanding the way God has set up things to Work and how existence actually operates. In some ways they are proto-science, in some ways science, in some ways psychological, and in some ways metaphysical. They are small Magic, they are Wizardry.

What about things like feeding 5000 with very little food and still having leftovers. Things like that lie right on the line between Theurgy and Thaumaturgy. So now I guess I should better define Thaumaturgy.

Thaumaturgy is a Great Work of God in the sense that it involves a large number of people, is seemingly impossible (nevertheless it happens) and is totally unique and not replicable. This is real Thaumaturgy – Moses parts the Red Sea (it’s only happened once and has never been replicated), Jesus walks on water, Christ is resurrected (not a general resurrection, which will also be a single once ever event, but he is resurrected as a single individual foreshadowing the general resurrection), and so forth and so on.   If a Work of God is large scale, has a profound effect upon a large number of people or witnesses, is seemingly impossible, is not replicable, and is a totally unique event, then it is True Thaumaturgy. A Wonder Working. A one of a kind, non-replicable event. Unique in world history. Thaumaturgy is also always absolutely intentional. What we in English would call a Miracle, capital M. Thaumaturgy is a large-scale Work of God that only agents like Christ, the Prophets, the Apostles, and The Saints are able to trigger.  

(I know that in English, being a very spiritually impoverished language, we call all unusual works of God Miracles, but Resurrection, that is a True Miracle, is a non-replicable Wonder, whereas predicting that a fish will have a coin in its mouth, although amazing to a degree, that is Theurgy, or what our ancestors would have called Magic, or Magiaesm. Even a stage magician would do it if properly prepared.)

Theurgy on the other hand is a smaller scale Work of God that is replicable, is subjective, targeted to a rather small or tactical problem or issue, has a profound effect upon individual recipients but merely fascinates most witnesses, seems amazing but not impossible, and can be astounding, but is not unique. Theurgy can be worked by many agents of God, intentionally or unintentionally, such as by Wizards and Wise Men and Women of all kinds, Magi, Scientists, or sometimes simply by what we might call Experts or really experienced men, or even by nearly anyone given the proper set of conditions or circumstances or the necessary emergency or contingency.

(Sorcery on the other hand is not a Work of God at all, but is a cheap imitation of either Theurgy or Thaumaturgy designed to harm or to do evil. It is the very opposite of Theurgy and Thaumaturgy and is evil’s attempt at imitating a Work of God, for purely selfish and self-aggrandizing motives, be that work small scale or large scale. The ultimate end of sorcery is not to understand, nor to assist, nor to do good, but to control, to tyrannize, and to harm.)

Well, I could go on for a very long time in this vein but I’m sure by now you more than get the point. Anyway, today Alex’s little death, my recent studies, and all of the things surrounding these events have led me to fully understand these things. And now I can fully define the differences and similarities between Theurgy and Thaumaturgy and now I am that much closer to understanding Magic. By that I mean Real Magic (which is just  a short hand Oriental way of saying both Theurgy and Thaumaturgy, or what we in English would altogether call Miracles, though that’s not really an accurate term). 

Or perhaps I would do better to say, “Wonder-Working.” Or unusual and wondrous Works of God that man directly participates in. Well, I should go to bed now. I tire and I am written out. But I go to bed convinced that I shall again see Alex, and perhaps soon, either in this world or in Heaven or in some other world. And not just him but everyone I have ever buried and wish to see again, person or animal. But in any case I intend to pray that Alex is returned to us, reincarnated if you will, though I think that probably a very primitive and inaccurate term for what I actually mean and how it actually works, which I make no claims to explaining. Because I no more know the real mechanism(s) than I know the mechanism(s) by which God transforms inanimate matter to animate matter.  But he’s done it and obviously knows his stuff. Somethings it is okay just to know that it does Work, you don’t have to know how it actually Works. And something’s no man will ever know how it truly Works.

However I will not pray or request of God that any person ever be returned to me, as in returned to me in this world, even if such a thing were possible. That would just not be Wise. People are free to make their own decisions about what world God allows them to inhabit (unless they have chosen hell, and I am firmly convinced some do and that God lets them) and I have neither the right nor the power to even request they give up whatever world they are enjoying merely to be in my company again. Besides I don’t think it works like that with people anymore than it works like that for angels, and besides there will be plenty of time for me to enjoy their company in a better world. I have no right to attempt to bind people to me in this world or in any other merely for my own benefit.

But maybe that would work for animals. Maybe that is how God made animals. Or at least some animals. As companions for people and the world they inhabit is really unimportant. I truly don’t know. But I’m gonna make the attempt (if it’s impossible it won’t happen anyway, will it?), pray that if it is possible, and if Alex so desires (for all I know God gives them a choice as well) and so chooses he will “reincarnate” (whatever that really means and however it really works) and return to us.

Still adventurous and affectionate and intelligent and exploratory in nature, just not nearly so reckless. And I’ll whack his balls off pretty quick too, if he does return. For his own good and to preserve him from disease and early death. I hate that, but if he is to long survive this world it may be necessary.  

Anyway I go to bed very happy, still sad we parted in this way, but happy, and with what I suspect is a much better understanding of my old friend Death, and I suspect even with a better understanding of God and how the universe actually works. So see ya and hope all goes well for you.

And may Wonders abound around you.

No matter what world you inhabit.

GOD WITHIN – ACCULTURATION

GOD WITHIN

 

The things we’ve seen, the things we’ve done, the things that we have been

They’ll last no longer than our flesh, our follies, and our sin

Yet God within us longs to make a profit that shall last

Eternal in its future worth, its present, and its past

Harrow not your worldly deeds with seeds that sprout a day

Hallow rather deep your soul with deeds that long repay

There is no treasure true enough to pass the Door of Death

Except the God within us whose High Spirit will not rest

Driven long to many things a man can many wrongs

Yet God within us longs to build a home where He belongs

I can only say to you what I have learned at last

Let Him dwell within yourself and that shall never pass

WITHOUT GOD from DIVINE SOPHIA

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

himself.

WHEN MEN HESITATE – FROM HUMAN EFFORT

When men are hesitant to overthrow Hell then Hell is the very first to know and the very last to fear.

“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.

——————

THE WISE CIVILIZATION from POLITICAL CAUSE

The Wise Civilization is that civilization that first admits to itself that not all men are civilized, and far more importantly, admits to itself that not all men even desire to be civilized.

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...

 

LOOK from DIVINE SOPHIA

Man looks at God through a telescope, God looks at man through a microscope.

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.

TILLED IN RIGHTEOUSNESS

And then shall the whole earth be tilled in righteousness, and shall all be planted with trees and be full of blessing.  And all desirable trees shall be planted on it, and they shall plant vines on it: and the vine which they plant thereon shall yield wine in abundance, and as for all the seed which is sown thereon each measure (of it) shall bear a thousand, and each measure of olives shall yield ten presses of oil.

And cleanse thou the earth from all oppression, and from all unrighteousness, and from all sin, and from all godlessness: and all the uncleanness that is wrought upon the earth destroy from off the earth.  And all the children of men shall become righteous and all nations shall offer adoration and shall praise Me, and all shall worship Me. And the earth shall be cleansed from all defilement, and from all sin, and from all punishment, and from all torment, and I will never again send (them) upon it from generation to generation and for ever.

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.

IS HEAVEN PROGRESSIVE?

Is Heaven static (is everything to be done or enjoyed predetermined or fixed by God), or is it progressive (is it open to being added to and improved upon, etc.)?

(I am not speaking of progressive in the political sense of course, but in the sense of actual and real progress.)

For instance as more and more human souls are added to Heaven (and God only knows what other kinds of creatures and beings) does Heaven expand, and does God allow or even encourage those dwelling there to explore, to discover, to conduct scientific experiments, to create, to do art, to invent and design things, and so forth given the parameters under which Heaven operates? (Which I assume will involve different technologies and physics and biological and operating principles, if those are even the proper terms, than in our world.)

I cannot say for certain but it seems to me, and this is something I have long pondered, that if this world, as imperfect as it is, is open to invention and creation (or at least sub-creation) and experimentation and discovery and exploration and expansion and progress then I can only imagine how open to good and noble progress Heaven will and ought to be.

WHAT I HAVE WRITTEN…

So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called the place of a skull, which is called in Hebrew Gol′gotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. Pilate also wrote a title and put it on the cross; it read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”

Many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek.

The chief priests of the Jews then said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’”

Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus they took his garments and made four parts, one for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was without seam, woven from top to bottom; so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the scripture,
“They parted my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.”

So the soldiers did this.

OUT OF THE FIRE

Ask now about the former days, long before your time, from the day God created human beings on the earth; ask from one end of the heavens to the other. Has anything so great as this ever happened, or has anything like it ever been heard of? Has any other people heard the voice of God speaking out of fire, as you have, and lived? Has any god ever tried to take for himself one nation out of another nation, by testings, by signs and wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, or by great and awesome deeds, like all the things the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes?

You were shown these things so that you might know that the Lord is God; besides him there is no other. From heaven he made you hear his voice to discipline you. On earth he showed you his great fire, and you heard his words from out of the fire.

TRIAL AND SENTENCING

Possible Site Of Trial Of Jesus Uncovered By Archaeologists

Posted: 01/05/2015 2:53 pm EST Updated: 4 hours ago

JERUSALEM (RNS) The site where Jesus may have been tried, prior to his crucifixion, is now open to the public for the very first time.

Located in the Old City of Jerusalem, the spot is within easy walking distance of the Christian Quarter and Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where tradition holds Jesus was buried.

jesus trial
Entrance to Kishle excavation following renovations.

Discovered under an abandoned prison building that is part of the Tower of David Museum grounds, the trial site is one piece of a vast excavation undertaken by archaeologists from 1999 to 2000 but sealed off for the past 14 years largely due to lack of funding.

The excavations include what may be the foundations of the palace of King Herod. It was here, many scholars and archaeologists believe, that the Roman governor Pontius Pilate put Jesus on trial.

jesus trial
View of the middle of three walls that are part of the foundations of King Herod’s Palace.

Archaeologist Amit Re’em of the Israel Antiquities Authority said the palace was built at the end of the first century B.C., according to Josephus, the Jewish historian and Roman citizen of the era.

“It was enormous, with a lot of gold and silver and running water and guest quarters,” he said.

The ruins uncovered by the Antiquities Authority were discovered in the area described by Josephus and included a complex sewage system.

While there is as yet no concrete evidence that the trial took place in the palace, Re’em noted that “from early Christianity until Crusader times the Via Dolorosa” — the route Jesus took on the way to his crucifixion — “passed by Herod’s palace. Only since medieval times did the route change.”

herod
Herodian steps leading down into Kishle.

herod
Herodian steps leading up from Kishle.

THE STUDIES

For some time now I have been making a comparative study of both the Old and New Testaments, sometimes making my own line by line, or even word by word, translations of the Hebrew and Greek.

I have done this progressively, reading one chapter of the Old Testament and one chapter of the New Testament each night before bed (or occasionally during the day if I find passages interesting enough I wish to translate them for myself).

Every Sunday morning I used to post particularly interesting sections of scriptures I had read during the week onto my Facebook Page.

But now that the Missal is up and running, and since it is linked to my Facebook page, I’ll do it here:

OLD TESTAMENT

When Jotham was told about this, he climbed up on the top of Mount Gerizim and shouted to them,

“Listen to me, citizens of Shechem, so that God may listen to you. One day the trees went out to anoint a king for themselves. They said to the olive tree, ‘Be our king.’

“But the olive tree answered, ‘Should I give up my oil, by which both gods and humans are honored, to hold sway over the trees?’

“Next, the trees said to the fig tree, ‘Come and be our king.’

“But the fig tree replied, ‘Should I give up my fruit, so good and sweet, to hold sway over the trees?’

“Then the trees said to the vine, ‘Come and be our king.’

“But the vine answered, ‘Should I give up my wine, which cheers both gods and humans, to hold sway over the trees?’

“Finally all the trees said to the thornbush, ‘Come and be our king.’

“The thornbush said to the trees, ‘If you really want to anoint me king over you, come and take refuge in my shade; but if not, then let fire come out of the thornbush and consume the cedars of Lebanon!’

 

NEW TESTAMENT

“I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you.

“For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.

“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

“Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

KEEPING SCORE from DIVINE SOPHIA

It is neither the desire nor the duty of God to condemn man, but to elevate man, and to save man from himself. Man does an excellent job of self-condemnation and needs no help from God on that score.

TO LISTEN from DIVINE SOPHIA

If you will not listen to Wisdom then it is always too late. The moment you begin listening to Wisdom it is never too late.

IF CHRIST PREVAILED – MERRY CHRISTMAS

IF CHRIST PREVAILED

 

If Christ prevailed men would not cower
If Christ prevailed God’s Holy Tower would
Stand a rampart in this world that none could
Raze nor hope to break, nor should
His Kingdom ever quake for fear of being over-run

If Christ prevailed men would fear not Death
If Christ prevailed men would not fear to truly Live
If Christ prevailed there would be no tribes
At endless war, no pointless hate consuming every shore
With riot, hatred, fire, and fury circumscribed

If Christ prevailed “Repent!” on every tongue and wrong
Would be avoided, not relived eternal in profitless cycles
Of sorrowful sin, evils would be un-grown and long buried
Not watered with grasping human grievance, a song of
Festering harm sung to our children like Grimmaged fairy tales

If Christ prevailed all men would as brothers walk long
Beside another, traveling from place to place in happy peace
While laughing of marvelous discoveries made and deeds
Redeemed in better fortune than they had first imagined
When humbly in their abandoned pride they were again Reborn

If Christ prevailed then Justice would rule this Earth
Not vengeance, not crucifying and murderous retribution,
If Christ prevailed then innocents would not lie dead
In pools of blood or lay breathless and abandoned
In favor of our own prideful assumptions about the Truth

If Christ prevailed all men with Mercy would extend themselves
To rework wrong into a better thing, a home fit for
Good and Godly conduct, Law would be Great and not merely law
No man would flee responsibility, Duty would reign, and
Sacrifice would paint and decorate our halls with Holy Acts

If Christ prevailed we would need no government of man
For God would live within, and Man Himself, once so ennobled
Could neither bow nor sit for any other king, and all
Other governance would seem a dream of despair long deserted
In the desperate nightmare of an unreal and wasted world

If Christ prevailed then such a Kingdom as the world has never
Known would be everywhere apparent, its Frontiers swollen
With ceaseless growth, no enemy would want to stand against it,
Old foes would be absorbed and made equals, no Jew, no Greek,
No Gentile would be alien or stranger in that Better Land

If Christ prevailed all men would be equals, anxious
To outdo the other in holiness and good, competitive in our
Desires to be more like God, not less of honor and of grace,
Our Feats would be of Saintly Salt, Virtues would accrue, and
Our Peeraged Manhood we would hold a Holy Thing from God

But Christ does not prevail

For we are sorely and surely most ourselves, self-absorbed,
Split into endless, bickering tribes, minted into our
Mindless classes, divided in our sickened hearts, soulless
In our lack of faith, impotent in our works, spiritless and
Dead within ourselves – we guard nothing, build nothing,
Claim nothing, oppose nothing, promote nothing, become nothing

For deep inside we are afraid, and we are small and we are
No men to build Mighty Kingdoms of, and so

Christ does not prevail, for we are cowards all by choice,

and so instead we prevail unto our doom.
MERRY CHRISTMAS ONE AND ALL

MAY YOU HAVE THE WORLD YOU MOST DESIRE… AND ARE MOST WILLING TO WORK FOR

THE YEAR OF OUR LORD, 2014

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