Spiritual exercise for the “Refugee” of our Times – Sources materials
- What is the meaning to be a “refugee”:
To Become a “Refugee” means to emigrate: to make a migration to Sincerity or to the“uprightness” of Love. Read more here
- The Choice: the bivium of Pythagoras, Y: this sign which leaves us free to choose the path of good or the path of evil.
Man as “Whore of Babylon” The Twice Born Man
The Choice: Y
- Landscape as an Image of the Pilgrimage of Life :
The aim of the meditations is to renew the image of God that has been obscured in the man: renewing of the memory (memoria) through recollection (recordatio), renewing of knowledge through wisdom, and renewing of the will through love.
The Rest on the Flight into Egypt of the “Holy Refugees” by Joachim Patinir
The “Dulle Griet” as whore of Babylon by Brueghel:
Dulle griet is the representation of the Whore of Babylon living in a land of Ignorance: Modern Man with all his “economical grow- energy” and scientifical research based on Rebellion against his Soul, is landed in an apocalyptic “theather” prophesying the complete destruction of the world.
The Whore of Babylon or Babylon the Great is a symbolic female figure and also place of evil mentioned in the Book of Revelation in the Bible. Her full title is stated in Revelation 17 (verse 5) as Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Prostitutes and Abominations of the Earth.
The word “Whore” can also be translated metaphorically as “Idolatress“. The Whore’s apocalyptic downfall is prophesied to take place in the hands of the image of the beast with seven heads and ten horns. There is much speculation within Christian eschatology on what the Whore and beast symbolize as well as the possible implications for contemporary interpretation.
- In this land of Ignorance, for the food of men, there groweth neither corn nor grass. The people of this land live in confusion or disorder and are very diligent in their unprofitable work and labor. And although their work be vain or unprofitable yet hath everyone notwithstanding a delightful liking to the same.
- Forasmuch as they all have such a delight to such unprofitable work, so forget they to prepare the Ground for Corn and Seed to live thereby. And so they live not on the manly food but by their own dung, for they have no other food to live by, for their stomach and nature is accustomed and naturally inclined thereto.
- They make there diverse sorts of Puppet works for Babies for to bring up the children to vanity. There are made likewise many kinds of Balls, Tut-staves, or Kricket-staves, Rackets and Dice; for the foolish people should waste or spend their time therewith in foolishness.
- There be made also Playing Tables, Draft-boards, Chess-boards, Cards and Mummery or Masks, for to delight the idle people with such foolish vanity. There are made likewise many Rings, Chains, and Gold and Silver Tablets and etc … all unprofitable and unneedful merchandise.
- They build there likewise divers houses for common assembly, which they call Gods houses; and there use many manner of foolishness of taken on Services which they call religious or godservices whereby to wave or hold forth something in shew before the ignorant people.
- In this manner are the vain people bewitched with these things, wherethrough they think or perswade themselves that their godservices, and knowledges, which they themselves do make, or take on in their hypocrisie, that must needs be some holy or singular thing, and so honor the works of their own hands.
- They make there also many Swords, Halberds, Spears, Bows and Arrows, Ordinance or Guns, Pellets, Gunpouder, Armor or Harness, and Gorgets and etc., for that the tyrannical oppressors, and those that have a pleasure in destroying, should use war and battel, therewithal, one against the other.
Man as Rebel against his Soul The Twice Born Man
The Refuge: Pilgrimage
Man as “Whore of Babylon” The Twice Born Man
The Refuge: Pilgrimage to Find his Soul again
The choice of the “Refugee”:
We are not the first generation to know that we are destroying the world, many communities and civilisations collapsed before us. But we could be the last that can do anything about it, not with the vanity of earthly knowledge and so called democratic solidarity and wisdom here on earth as this commercial of WWF wants to convince us, but with asking humbly the help of Divine Wisdom so realising in us the image of the man who painfully transcends his material ego: The birth of his soul. It is a test. It’s time to decide!
- Analyse details of painting: The Rest on the Flight into Egypt of the “Holy Refugees”
The flight into Egypt is a story recounted in the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 2:13–23) and in New Testament apocrypha. Soon after the visit by the Magi, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream telling him to flee to Egypt with Mary and the infant Jesus since King Herod would seek the child to kill him. The episode is frequently shown in art, as the final episode of the Nativity of Jesus in art, and was a common component in cycles of the Life of the Virgin as well as the Life of Christ. Within the narrative tradition, iconic representation of the “Rest on the Flight into Egypt” developed after the 14th century.
The story was much elaborated in the “Infancy Gospels” of the New Testament apocrypha with, for example, palm trees bowing before the infant Jesus, Jesus taming dragons, the beasts of the desert paying him homage, and an encounter with the two thieves who would later be crucified alongside Jesus. In these later tales the family was joined by Salome as Jesus’ nurse. These stories of the time in Egypt have been especially important to the Coptic Church, which is based in Egypt, and throughout Egypt there are a number of churches and shrines marking places where the family stayed. The most important of these is the church of Abu Serghis, which claims to be built on the place the family had its home.
One of the most extensive and, in Eastern Christianity, influential accounts of the Flight appears in the perhaps seventh-century Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, in which Mary, tired by the heat of the sun, rested beneath a palm tree. The infant Jesus then miraculously has the palm tree bend down to provide Mary with its fruit, and release from its roots a spring to provide her with water.
The Qur’ān does not include the tradition of the Flight into Egypt, though sūra XXIII, 50 could conceivably allude to it: “And we made the son of Maryam and his mother a sign; and we made them abide in an elevated place, full of quiet and watered with springs”. However, its account of the birth of Jesus is very similar to the account of the Flight in the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew: Mary gives birth leaning against the trunk of a date-palm, which miraculously provides her with dates and a stream. It is therefore thought that one tradition owes something to the other.
Numerous later Muslim writers on the life of Jesus did transmit stories about the Flight into Egypt. Prominent examples include Abū Isḥāḳ al-Thaʿlabī, whose ʿArāʾis al-madjālis fī ḳiṣaṣ al-anbiyāʾ, an account of the lives of the prophets, reports the Flight, followed by a stay in Egypt of twelve years; and al-Ṭabarī’s History of the Prophets and Kings.
- THE PALM TREE MIRACLE
Other than the ass and the human figures, the palm tree is the most common element in these images. The miracle referenced is in chapter 20 of The Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew: The family stops to rest under a palm tree and Mary notices that the top of the tree is full of fruit. She wishes she could have some, but the tree is too high. Jesus then calls on the tree to bend down “and refresh my mother with thy fruit,” and it does just that. Then at the child’s further command the tree moves its roots to expose a spring of water. Some images are like the one above in simply including a palm tree to remind the viewer of the story. Others show the tree bending and the fruit being gathered either by Joseph (example) or by angels (example). Images of the spring are rare, but Cartlidge and Elliott (100) do present one 15th-century manuscript illustration that portrays the spring as an elaborate fountain and has Mary herself plucking the fruit while seated on a mound of earth.
In the 16th century artists began to lose interest in the miracle and saw this pause in the family’s journey as an occasion for using their art to express a sense of restfulness and repose. The palm became merely a part of the background, as in Corregio’s Rest on the Flight to Egypt with Saint Francis. By the 17th century this privileging of painterly interests led to works like Lorrain’s Landscape with Rest in the Flight to Egypt, where the palm has disappeared entirely and the three travelers nearly so.
Chapter 20.of The Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew:
And it came to pass on the third day of their journey, while they were walking, that the blessed Mary was fatigued by the excessive heat of the sun in the desert; and seeing a palm tree, she said to Joseph: Let me rest a little under the shade of this tree. Joseph therefore made haste, and led her to the palm, and made her come down from her beast. And as the blessed Mary was sitting there, she looked up to the foliage of the palm, and saw it full of fruit, and said to Joseph: I wish it were possible to get some of the fruit of this palm. And Joseph said to her: I wonder that thou sayest this, when 377thou seest how high the palm tree is; and that thou thinkest of eating of its fruit. I am thinking more of the want of water, because the skins are now empty, and we have none wherewith to refresh ourselves and our cattle. Then the child Jesus, with a joyful countenance, reposing in the bosom of His mother, said to the palm: O tree, bend thy branches, and refresh my mother with thy fruit. And immediately at these words the palm bent its top down to the very feet of the blessed Mary; and they gathered from it fruit, with which they were all refreshed. And after they had gathered all its fruit, it remained bent down, waiting the order to rise from Him who had commanded it to stoop. Then Jesus said to it: Raise thyself, O palm tree, and be strong, and be the companion of my trees, which are in the paradise of my Father; and open from thy roots a vein of water which has been hid in the earth, and let the waters flow, so that we may be satisfied from thee. And it rose up immediately, and at its root there began to come forth a spring of water exceedingly clear and cool and sparkling. And when they saw the spring of water, they rejoiced with great joy, and were satisfied, themselves and all their cattle and their beasts. Wherefore they gave thanks to God.
And on the day after, when they were setting out thence, and in the hour in which they began their journey, Jesus turned to the palm, and said: This privilege I give thee, O palm tree, that one of thy branches be carried away by my angels, and planted in the paradise of my Father. And this blessing I will confer upon thee, that it shall be said of all who conquer in any contest, You have attained the palm of victory. And while He was thus speaking, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared, and stood upon the palm tree; and taking off one of its branches, flew to heaven with the branch in his hand. And when they saw this, they fell on their faces, and became as it were dead. And Jesus said to them: Why are your hearts possessed with fear? Do you not know that this palm, which I have caused to be transferred to paradise, shall be prepared for all the saints in the place of delights, as it has been prepared for us in this place of the wilderness? And they were filled with joy; and being strengthened, they all rose up.
And having come to a certain cave, and wishing to rest in it, the blessed1660 Mary dismounted from her beast, and sat down with the child Jesus in her bosom. And there were with Joseph three boys, and with Mary a girl, going on the journey along with them. And, lo, suddenly there came forth from the cave many dragons; and when the children saw them, they cried out in great terror. Then Jesus went down from the bosom of His mother, and stood on His feet before the dragons; and they adored Jesus, and thereafter retired. Then was fulfilled that which was said by David the prophet, saying: Praise the Lord from the earth, ye dragons; ye dragons, and all ye deeps.1661 And the young child Jesus, walking before them, commanded them to hurt no man. But Mary and Joseph were very much afraid lest the child should be hurt by the dragons. And Jesus said to them: Do not be afraid, and do not consider me to be a little child; for I am and always have been perfect; and all the beasts of the forest must needs be tame before me.
Lions and panthers adored Him likewise, and accompanied them in the desert. Wherever Joseph and the blessed Mary went, they went before them showing them the way, and bowing their heads; and showing their submission by wagging their tails, they adored Him with great reverence. Now at first, when Mary saw the lions and the panthers, and various kinds of wild beasts, coming about them, she was very much afraid. But the infant Jesus looked into her face with a joyful countenance, and said: Be not afraid, mother; for they come not to do thee harm, but they make haste to serve both thee and me. With these words He drove all fear from her heart. And the lions kept walking with them, and with the oxen, and the asses, and the beasts of burden which carried their baggage, and did not hurt a single one of them, though they kept beside them; but they were tame among the sheep and the rams which they had brought with them from Judæa, and which they had with them. They walked among wolves, and feared nothing; and no one of them was hurt by another. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by the prophet: Wolves shall feed with lambs; the lion and the ox shall eat straw together.1662 There were together two oxen drawing a waggon with provision for the journey, and the lions directed them in their path….
Flight into Egypt, Miracle of Corn Fields, Massacre of Innocents:
- Rest on the Flight into Egypt :Spiritual exercise for the “Refugee” of our Times
From all the stories told in the painting, we present 5 stories to illustrate the “power of God “as told by the Family of love. As an Image of the Pilgrimage of Life:
- Pilgrimage as a Theme for the “Refugee”
The image of life as a pilgrimage was a commonplace in the fourteenth century, when laity and clergy alike entered upon such journeys. Ludolph of Saxony in his vita christi , like his predecessors, made use of this theme in a particularly engaging passage:
Therefore we who are pilgrims in this world—for we have no permanent city, but we seek one that is to come—if we have within ourselves in a spiritual sense the things that those pilgrims had, the Lord will be a companion on our journey.
Again, Ludolph describes the process of coming to know the will of God as a journey in which one follows Christ: “The follower of Christ cannot stray or be deceived. Through frequent meditation on his life, the heart is set aflame, comes alive, and is illuminated by divine power to imitate or acquire his virtues.”
St Ignatius of Loyola in his “autobiography” calls himself “the pilgrim”; and the Exercises themselves can be seen as an interior pilgrimage, a structured journey with times of consolation, when the way seems clear, alternating with others of desolation, where the exercitant seems to be in the wilderness.
Moments of isolation and reunion follow one another. The completion of the experience of the Exercises is intended to bring about a feeling of fulfillment, while creating the desire to make the journey again or to accompany others on their journey. It is worth noting that the Spiritual Exercises was composed at a time when, despite the increased mobility of many Europeans, ever fewer were undertaking pilgrimages.
Throughout the sixteenth century, religious and secular wars, economic difficulties, and, perhaps most of all, changing trends in the expression of religious devotion undermined the desire to embark on pilgrimages. Ignatius nevertheless successfully resurrected this metaphor in his own writings and held out to others the possibility that they might experience the transformation and growth usually associated with the pilgrimage, but this time accomplishing it in the solitary form in which he had experienced it through the graduated process of the Exercises.
Forms of Prayer:
Not only did Ludolph’s reliance on concrete images drawn from the familiar world make his lengthy and scholarly narrative accessible to Ignatius, but it also suggested the broad range of forms that meditation or reflection might take. By providing the concrete image of the castle (among scores of others) along with an explanation of its significance, Ludolph created a focus for meditation similar to the foci on the life of Jesus that occur repeatedly in the Spiritual Exercises.
Throughout the Exercises the exercitant is called upon to use recollection both to come to terms with his or her own shortcomings and to call to mind images and associations that clarify and concretize an understanding of God.
As we have seen, memory is renewed by recollection, intelligence by wisdom, and willingness through love. Metaphor and symbols assembled by Ludolph also take readers a step further and enable them to grasp other relationships. After narrating the story of Christ walking on the Sea Galilee towards a boat carrying the disciples, Ludolph offers this interpretation:
That mystic boat is the Church, or whatever faithful soul that is pounded and tossed by the waves of persecution and temptation, now among heretics, now among tyrants, and now among false brothers, while it seeks to reach its heavenly homeland. The contrary wind is a blast from the evil spirits.
For Ludolph imitatio is reached through recollection of the deeds and experiences of the living Jesus:
Let [the reader] return time and time again to the most memorable things concerned with Christ: his incarnation, birth, circumcision, ministry, presentation in the temple, passion, resurrection, and ascension, the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, his appearance on the Day of Judgment.
Readers, Ludolph asserts, should strive to imagine themselves actually present in all the events described in the Vita:
Come and be present at his birth, and his circumcision, like a good foster parent with Joseph. Likewise come with the magi to Bethlehem, and worship the young King with them. . . . Be present at his death with his blessed mother and John and share in their suffering and consolation.
In the Spiritual Exercises Ignatius will echo again and again this call to place oneself in the midst of the events described. The call to “imagine,” as articulated in both the Vita and the Spiritual Exercises, involves far more than simply creating a mental picture of the event or circumstance: it requires powers of concentration and meditation capable of bringing to life the humanly comprehensible incidents in the life of Christ.
Each chapter of the Vita concludes with an oratio, or prayer. These prayers are short, especially in comparison with the work as a whole, and typically refer to the specific incidents covered in the preceding reading. Their rhetorical construction is simple and even more suited to oral delivery than is much of the rest of the text. After a chapter dealing with the arrival of Jesus in Nazareth, Ludolph offers the following prayer:
Grant me, good Jesus, this gift, that in imitation of you, I may desire to incline myself to you by all manifestations of humility, and that I may happily show myself ready to do so. Grant also that I may patiently tolerate wrongs done to me and not seek vengeance for them, but may love all my enemies from my heart and show kindnesses to them.
The earth is where our pilgrimage take place, and it is the setting for our moments of revelation that carry us beyond the physical and sensory. As such it is valued by Ignatius who, after moving beyond his period of self-mortification, never again laid excessive stress on total abandonment of the concerns of this world. While the Exercises urged exercitants to avoid being distracted by the lures of the material world, they go much fur-ther in accommodating those who have worldly responsibilities. Ultimately, the Spiritual Exercises is intended for use in a world requiring greater skills of adaptation than Ludolph could have envisioned.
Geert Groote, the great 14th-century Netherlandish theologian, wrote the following about the need to surround oneself with holy pictures:
. . . all this in order to have a conversation, look for advice and ask questions of Him and the saints; to offer oneself to Him and them, just as obedient household servants do; so that we, faithful in this servitude and obedience [could] also ask for help and relinquish desire; indeed, to live in one house with Christ and the Virgin, make pilgrimages with the pilgrims, weep with the weeping, rejoice with the joyous and suffer with the suffering.
– The 5 Stories told In the painting of Joachim patinir Rest on the Flight into Egypt :
- First story: The City of Idols
In Pseudo-Matthew (ch. 22-24) when the family arrives in Egypt in a city called Sotinen all the idols in the land fall to the ground and shatter, whereupon that city’s governor and people are so impressed that they come to believe “in the Lord God through Jesus Christ.” There are similar accounts of this incident in The Arabic Gospel of the Infancy of the Savior (¶10-11), the Speculum Ecclesiae (837) and the Golden Legend (#10), and we see it illustrated from time to time in the art (example).
The family’s arrival in Sotinen is actually the subject of the oldest known image taken from the story, a segment of the mosaics on the triumphal arch in Santa Maria Maggiore. There are also a few images of apocryphal episodes during the family’s sojourn in Egypt. These are based on The Arabic Gospel of the Infancy of the Savior and The Infancy Gospel of Thomas. See Cartlidge and Elliott, 106-116.
- Jesus and Why You Should Not Idolize All People
In the Gospel of Thomas Jesus says: “Whoever finds the meaning of these words will not tate (spiritual) death.”
Thomas (as) said to Jesus (as), “Therefore I beg you to tell me what I ask you before your ascension, and when I hear from you about the hidden things (Ghayb, the Unseen), then I can speak about them. And it is obvious to me that the truth is difficult to perform (explain) before men.”
Jesus (saws) answered regarding the unseen and sainthood, saying,
“If the things that are visible to you are obscure to you (your mind), how can you hear about the things that are not visible?
If the deeds of the truth that are visible in the world are difficult for you to perform, how indeed, then, shall you perform those that pertain to the exalted height (those who act on what they witness from the unseen, like Sayyidinah Khidr) and to the pleroma (the totality of divine powers) which are not visible? And how shall you be called ‘laborers’? (saintly, those who do this work) In this respect you are apprentices, and have not yet received the height of perfection (Ihsan).” (The Book of Thomas)
Jesus (saws) said, “Brother Thomas while you have time in the world, listen to me, and I will reveal to you the things you have pondered in your mind.”
“Now, since it has been said that you are my twin and true companion, examine yourself, and learn who you are, in what way you exist, and how you will come to be (your nature and the reason you developed this way). Since you will be called my brother, it is not fitting that you be ignorant of yourself. And I know that you have understood, because you had already understood that I am the knowledge of the truth. So while you accompany me, although you are uncomprehending (of spiritual things and their technical nature), you have (in fact) already come to know (experience, gain Maa’rifah), and you will be called ‘the one who knows himself’.
For he who has not known himself has known nothing, but he who has known himself (his nature and why he does things) has at the same time already achieved knowledge about the depth of the all (that is the source of all inspiration and you have connected to it so it guides you). So then, you, my brother Thomas, have beheld what is obscure to men, that is, what they ignorantly stumble against (chasing the world looking for answers there while it is only within them that answers exist).” (The Book of Thomas)
Don’t change the world in hopes of changing yourself, change yourself so the world changes because of you.
This is the mistake of the west, in its morally bankrupt history and its many notable figures it has come to idolise just about any person who has achieved something in life, while people should be acknowledged for their work that is different from placing them in a position to nurture your society from, the west is clearly lacking insight into the implications of raising people of questionable morality above them, or not, its leaders may perfectly understand who they want you to emulate and its results.
There is a real reason Muslims deliberately follow a sunnah and only raise in esteem above them saintly people, it is because you imitate those you idolise, you make them the vision you take from spiritually in hopes that your society as a whole maintains a moral standard.
This reality of man extends to everything even if you idolise an animal or a fish because human character moulds itself around what it places in its eye and makes its idol.
- Ego rules the world: Anti-“God”, Anti-“Humanity”, Anti-“Nature
The story of the Tower of Babel (like that in The Suicide of Saul, Bruegel’s only other painting with an Old Testament subject) was interpreted as an example of pride punished, and that is no doubt what Bruegel intended his painting to illustrate. Moreover, the hectic activity of the engineers, masons and workmen points to a second moral: the futility of much human endeavour. Nimrod’s doomed building was used to illustrate this meaning in Sebastian Brant’s Ship of Fools. Pieter Bruegel’s Tower of Babel , originally displayed in the suburban villa of Antwerp entrepreneur Niclaes Jonghelinck as an image that fostered learned dinner conversation (convivium) about the well-being of the city. Looking at various sources, the author analyzes how the theme of the painting, a story of miscommunication and disorder, resonated with the challenges faced by the metropolis. Antwerp’s rapid growth resulted in the creation of a society characterized by extraordinary pluralism but with weakened social bonds. Convivium was one of the strategies developed to overcome differences among the citizens and avoid dystrophy of the community. Read more Here
Our civilization is in decay. Because we have blown-up our ego. Cosmic Balance has been disturbed. The painting “Dulle Griet”of the great painter Bruegel express very clearly the Crisis of Modern man:
Near the Virgin we see a clolapsed statue of a Idol , above the ball we can see two little feet on it..
- Gospel of Thomas (Suite)
Jesus (saws) said, “Why have you come out to the countryside? To see a reed shaken by the wind? And to see a person dressed in soft clothes, [like your] rulers and your powerful ones? They are dressed in soft clothes, and they cannot understand truth.”
Jesus (saws) said, “When you make the two into one (become insan Kamil, complete), you will become children of Adam, and when you say, ‘Mountain, move from here!’ it will move.”
Jesus (saws) said, “Let one who has found the world, and has become wealthy, renounce the world (and stay wealthy).”
Jesus (saws) said, “Congratulations to you when you are hated and persecuted; and no place will be found, wherever you have been persecuted.”
Jesus (saws) said, “Congratulations to those who have been persecuted in their hearts: they are the ones who have truly come to know the Father”.
They said to him, “Tell us who you are so that we may believe in you.”
He said to them, “You examine the face of heaven and earth (the outward, the physical), but you have not come to know the one who is in your presence, and you do not know how to examine the present moment (your reality, your state).”
- The Temptation of Saint Anthony by Jan Brueghel the Elder, Flemish, 1568–1625
The Temptation of Saint Anthony is an often-repeated subject in the history of art and literature, concerning the supernatural temptation reportedly faced by Saint Anthony the Great during his sojourn in the Egyptian desert. Anthony’s temptation is first discussed by Athanasius of Alexandria, Anthony’s contemporary, and from then became a popular theme in Western culture.
The common medieval subject, included in the Golden Legend and other sources, shows Saint Anthony being tempted or assailed in the desert by demons, whose temptations he resisted; the Temptation of St Anthony (or Trial…) is the more common name of the subject. But strictly there are at least two different episodes deriving from Athanasius’s Life of St. Anthony and later versions of the life that may be represented, though all usually have this name. The most common is the temptation, by seductive women and other demonic forms, but the Martin Schongauer composition (copied by Michelangelo) probably shows a later episode where St Anthony, normally flown about the desert supported by angels, was ambushed and attacked in mid-air by devils. Anasthasius describes another episode where the saint was attacked on the ground.
The imageries of the Temptation of Saint Anthony by Jan Brueghel the Elder, are still very modern for our times:
Anthony or Antony the Great(Greek: Ἀντώνιος Antṓnios; Latin: Antonius; Coptic: Ⲁⲃⲃⲁ Ⲁⲛⲧⲱⲛⲓ; c. 12 January 251 – 17 January 356), was a Christian monk from Egypt, revered since his death as a saint. He is distinguished from other saints named Anthony such as Anthony of Padua, by various epithets of his own: Saint Anthony, Anthony of Egypt, Antony the Abbot, Anthony of the Desert, Anthony the Anchorite, and Anthony of Thebes. For his importance among the Desert Fathers and to all later Christian monasticism, he is also known as the Father of All Monks. His feast day is celebrated on 17 January among the Orthodox and Catholic churches and on Tobi 22 in the Coptic calendar.
The biography of Anthony’s life by Athanasius of Alexandria helped to spread the concept of Christian monasticism, particularly in Western Europe via its Latin translations. He is often erroneously considered the first Christian monk, but as his biography and other sources make clear, there were many ascetics before him. Anthony was, however, among the first known to go into the wilderness (about AD 270), which seems to have contributed to his renown. Accounts of Anthony enduring supernatural temptation during his sojourn in the Eastern Desert of Egypt inspired the often-repeated subject of the temptation of St. Anthony in Western art and literature.
OF THE LIFE OF ST. ANTHONY: Chapter 21 of the Golden Legend by Jacobus Voragine (1275), translated by William Caxton, 1483. This “reader’s version” of the text provides section headings, paragraph breaks, and explanatory notes.
From Remigiusz Sowa, Best Documentary Transmitter Award winner at the Crystal Palace International Film Festival 2010, comes a truly remarkable story of Father Lazarus El Anthony, a university lecturer and Marxist who abandoned his life in Australia and went in search of God and freedom. His pilgrimage eventually brought him to live the life of a Christian Coptic monk and live in solitude on the Egyptian Al-Qalzam Mountain in the pursuit of what the Desert Fathers called apatheia, holy stillness. The Last Anchorite from Chouette Films on Vimeo.
- In Pseudo-Matthew (ch. 22-24)
After this, while they were going on their journey, Joseph said to Jesus: Lord, it is a boiling heat; if it please Thee, let us go by the sea-shore, that we may be able to rest in the cities on the coast. Jesus said to him: Fear not, Joseph; I will shorten the way for you, so that what you would have taken thirty days to go over, you shall accomplish in this one day. And while they were thus speaking, behold, they looked forward, and began to see the mountains and cities of Egypt.
And rejoicing and exulting, they came into the regions of Hermopolis, and entered into a certain city of Egypt which is called Sotinen;1663 and because they knew no one there from whom they could ask hospitality, they went into a temple which was called the Capitol of Egypt. And in this temple there had been set up three hundred and fifty-five idols,1664 to each of which on its own day divine honours and sacred rites were paid. For the Egyptians belonging to the same city entered the Capitol, in which the priests told them how many sacrifices were offered each day, according to the honour in which the god was held.
And it came to pass, when the most blessed Mary went into the temple with the little child, that all the idols prostrated themselves on the ground, so that all of them were lying on their faces shattered and broken to pieces;1665 and thus they plainly showed that they were nothing. Then was fulfilled that which was said by the prophet Isaiah: Behold, the Lord will come upon a swift cloud, and will enter Egypt, and all the handiwork of the Egyptians shall be moved at His presence.1666
Then Affrodosius, that governor of the city, when news of this was brought to him, went to the temple with all his army. And the priests of the temple, when they saw Affrodosius with all his army coming into the temple, thought that he was making haste only to see vengeance taken on those on whose account the gods had fallen down. But when he came into the temple, and saw all the gods lying prostrate on their faces, he went up to the blessed Mary, who was carrying the Lord in her bosom, and adored Him, and said to all his army and all his friends: Unless this were the God of our gods, our gods would not have fallen on their faces before Him; nor would they be lying prostrate in His presence: wherefore they silently confess that He is their Lord. Unless we, therefore, take care to do what we have seen our gods doing, we may run the risk of His anger, and all come to destruction, even as it happened to Pharaoh king of the Egyptians, who, not believing in powers so mighty, was drowned in the sea, with all his army.1667 Then all the people of that same city believed in the Lord God through Jesus Christ.
- Second story: The Miraculous Wheat Field
Among these is the story of the miraculous field of wheat, which sprang up instantly to a height sufficient to hide the Holy Family from Herod’s pursuing troops.
According to this legend, when Herod’s soldiers question peasants about when the Holy Family passed, they respond truthfully that it was when they were sowing the wheat, which is now full height. What the soldiers do not know is that at the very recent passing of the Holy Family, the freshly sown wheat had suddenly and miraculously grown.
Jung coined the word “synchronicity” to describe “temporally coincident occurrences of acausal events.” In his book Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle, Jung wrote:
How are we to recognize acausal combinations of events, since it is obviously impossible to examine all chance happenings for their causality? The answer to this is that acausal events may be expected most readily where, on closer reflection, a causal connection appears to be inconceivable.
In his book Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle, Jung wrote:
…it is impossible, with our present resources, to explain ESP, or the fact of meaningful coincidence, as a phenomenon of energy. This makes an end of the causal explanation as well, for “effect” cannot be understood as anything except a phenomenon of energy. Therefore it cannot be a question of cause and effect, but of a falling together in time, a kind of simultaneity. Because of this quality of simultaneity, I have picked on the term “synchronicity” to designate a hypothetical factor equal in rank to causality as a principle of explanation.
- Third story: The Massacre of the Innocents
When the magi had departed, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt,
and stay there until I tell you.
Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night
and departed for Egypt.
He stayed there until the death of Herod,
that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled,
Out of Egypt I called my son.
When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi,
he became furious.
He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity
two years old and under,
in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi.
Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet:
A voice was heard in Ramah,
sobbing and loud lamentation;
Rachel weeping for her children,
and she would not be consoled,
since they were no more.
Matthew 2:13-18 (Gospel for the feast of the Holy Innocents, martyrs, December 28)
The story of the killing of the baby boys from Bethlehem, which is found in the Gospel of Matthew, is a dark reversal of the joy of the birth of Jesus. Probably for this reason, our contemporary celebrations for Christmas ignore it. We do not want to think about the dark side of anything and certainly NOT at Christmas, which we are told from every side, is about Joy, Love, Peace! This view, that Darkness has no place during the “holidays” has become so prevalent in our time that the majority of people no longer even remember this event. But it was not always so.
From sometime in the fifth century the Church has celebrated a special feast in honor of these boys. The feast of the Holy Innocents was once an important day within the octave of Christmas, with its own special prayers, and with some special events. And it was a frequent subject in art from the early middle ages till the dawn of the 20th century.
Massacre of the Innocents (Bruegel)
Having compared the figure dressed in black at the centre of the Massacre of the Innocents in Vienna to portraits Duke of Alba, critics concluded that there is a peculiar and compelling likeness between the two. Consequently, they concluded that Bruegel placed a recognisable portrait of Alba in the Massacre to draw analogies between the biblical Herod’s hubris, who ordered the execution of all the babies in Bethlehem following the birth of Christ, and the Habsburg dynasties’ similarly pitiless efforts to retain a Catholic grip on the Low Countries.
Furthermore, although the original Massacre has suffered extensive overpainting done between 1604 and ’21, these are unlikely to have altered the appearance of the horseback figure because this campaign was targeted at disguising the bodies of the murdered babies.
In our time the secular celebration of Christmas, which begins to wind down immediately after Christmas Day and is definitely over by January 1, is a week of vacation, of partying and shopping for bargains.
Instead, the Church turns our attention in the days after Christmas to teaching us something else, that Christmas is not a happy fairy tale, although there is a happy ending in the Resurrection. During the octave of Christmas (the time between Christmas Day and the feast of Mary, Mother of God on January 1) the Church reminds us that faith in the Child born in Bethlehem has consequences. She invites us to consider some of those martyrs who have surrendered their lives in devotion to Christ.
On December 26th the Church celebrates the feast of the first Christian martyr, St. Stephen, killed shortly after the Pentecost, while the Church was still a small group of disciples in Jerusalem. On the 27th we celebrate the feast day of the Evangelist John, who survived martyrdom to die of old age. On December 29th we celebrate the feast of St. Thomas Becket, murdered in his own cathedral because of a dispute with King Henry II over the proper roles of Church and State. And on December 28th the Church celebrates the feast of the very first martyrs, the baby boys of Bethlehem, killed at the order of Herod the Great in his attempt to kill a potential rival: The Massacre of the Innocents
Here followeth the History of the Innocents:
- The Innocents be called innocents for three reasons.
First, by cause and reason of life, and by reason of pain, and by reason of innocence.
By reason of life they be said innocents because they had an innocent life. They grieved nobody, neither God, by inobedience, nor their neighbours by untruth, nor by conceiving of any sin, and therefore it is said in the psalter:
The innocents and righteous have joined them to me.
The innocents by their life and righteousness in the faith, by reason of pain, for they suffered death innocently and wrongly, whereof David saith:
They have shed the blood of innocents by reason of innocency.
That they had, because that in this martyrdom they were baptized and made clean of the original sin, of which innocence is said in the psalter:
Keep thou innocency of baptism and see equity of good works.
- Holy church maketh feast of the Innocents which were put to death because of our Lord Jesu Christ. For Herod Ascalonita for to find and put to death our Lord which was born in Bethlehem, he did do slay all the children in Bethlehem and there about, from the age of two years and under unto one day, unto the sum of one hundred and forty-four thousand children. For to understand which Herod it was that so cruelly did do put so many children to death, it is to wit that there were three Herods, and all three were cruel tyrants, and were in their time of great fame and much renowned for their great malice.
The first was Herod Ascalonita: he reigned in Jerusalem when our Lord was born.
- But now let us come to this first Herod that did do slay the innocent children. His father was named Antipater as history scholastic saith, and was king of Idumea and paynim; he took a wife which was niece to the king of Arabia, on whom he had three sons and a daughter, of whom that one was named Herod Ascalonita. This Herod served so well to Julian the emperor of Rome that he gave to him the realm of Jerusalem. Then lost the Jews kings of their lineage, and then was showed the prophecy of the birth of our Lord.
- This Herod Ascalonita had six sons, Antipater, Alexander, Aristobulus, Archelaus, Herod Antipas, and Philip. Of these children, Herod sent Alexander and Aristobulus to school to Rome, and Alexander became a wise and subtle advocate. And when they were come from school again they began to enter into words against Herod their father, to whom he would leave his realm after him, wherefore their father was angry with them, and put tofore them Antipater their brother for to come to the realm. Upon that, incontinent they treated of the death of their father, wherefore their father enchased them away, and they went again to Rome and complained of their father to the emperor.
- Anon after this came the three kings in to Jerusalem, and demanded where the king of Jews was, that was new born. Herod when he heard this, he had great dread lest any were born of the true lineage of the kings of the Jews, and that he were the very true heir, and of whom he might be chased out of the realm. And when he had demanded of the three kings how they had had knowledge of the new king, they answered by a star being in the air, which was not naturally fixed in the heaven as the others were. Then he prayed them that they would return to him after that they had worshipped and seen this new king, that he might go after and worship the child. This said he fraudulently, for he thought to slay him.
- After that the three kings were gone without bringing him any tidings, he thought that anon he would do slay all the children newly born in Bethlehem and thereabouts, among whom he thought to slay Jesu Christ. But his thought was empeshed and let, for the emperor sent to him a citation that he should come to Rome for to answer to the accusation that Aristobulus and Alexander, his two sons, had made against him, and therefore he durst not put then the children to death, to the end that he should not be accused of so cruel a deed with his other trespasses; so he was in going to Rome and abiding there, and in coming, more than half a year, and in that while Jesus was borne into Egypt. When Herod came to Rome the emperor ordained that his sons should do him honour and obey him, and he should leave his realm after his death where it best pleased him.
Upon this, when he was come again, and felt himself confirmed of the realm, he was more hardy to slay the children than he had tofore thought. Then he sent into Bethlehem and did do slay all the children that were of the age of two years, because it was passed more than a year that the three kings had told him tidings of the king of Jews new-born. But wherefore then did he do slay the children that were but one night old? Hereto Saint Austin saith that Herod doubted that Jesus, to whom the stars served, might make himself some younger than he was. After this came upon Herod a right vengeance, for like as he dissevered many mothers from their children, in like wise was he dissevered from his children. It happed that he had suspicion upon his two sons, Alexander and Aristobulus; for one of his servants said to him that Alexander had promised to him great gifts if he would give to his father to drink poison or venom, and the barber said to the king that he had promised him a great thing if, when he made the king‘s beard, he would cut his throat, and for this cause Herod did do slay them both, and ordained in his testament that Antipater, his son, should be king after him. Upon this Antipater, his son, had great desire to come to the realm, and was accused that he had made ready venom for to empoison his father, for a maid, a servant, afterward showed the same venom to the king, wherefore he did do put his son Antipater in prison.
When Augustus, the emperor of Rome, heard say that Herod ruled thus his children, he then said: I had liefer be the swine or hog of Herod than his son, for he which is strange in his living spareth his swine, and he put to death his sons.
Herod when he was seventy years old he fell in a grievous malady by right vengeance of God, for a strong fever took him within and without; he had his flesh hot and dry chauffed, his feet swelled and became of a pale colour. The plants of his feet under began to rot, in such wise that vermin issued out, and a stench issued so great out of his breath and of his members without forth, that no persons might suffer it. On that other side he had great grief and annoy of the anger that he had for his sons. When the masters and physicians saw that he might not be helped by any medicine, then they said that this malady was a vengeance of God, and for as much as he heard say that the Jews were glad of his malady and sickness, therefore he did do assemble the most noble of the Jews out of the good towns, and did do put them in prison and said to Salome, his sister, and to Alexander her husband:
I know well that the Jews shall be glad of my death, but if ye will do my counsel and obey to me I shall mowe have great plaint and wailing of many that shall beweep my death, in this wise that I shall show you. Anon as I shall be dead, do ye to be slain all the noble Jews that be in prison, and thus shall be no house of the Jews, but they shall, against their will, beweep my death.
And he had a custom to eat an apple last after meat. On a time he demanded a knife for to pare the apple, and one delivered him a knife, and shortly he took it, as all despaired, and would have slain himself, but anon Aciabus, his neighbour, caught his hand and cried loud, that it was supposed that the king had died. Antipater his son, which was in prison, had heard the cry and weened his father had been dead. He was glad, and promised to the keepers of the prison great gifts for to let him out. When Herod knew this by his servant, he travailed the more grievously because his son was more glad of his death than of his sickness, and anon did do slay him, and ordained in his testament, Archelaus to be king after him, and he lived but five days after and died in great misery of annoy.
Salome, his sister, did not his commandment of the Jews that were in prison, but let them go out. And Archelaus became king after Herod his father, which as to strangers in the battle he was fortunate and happy, but as to his own people he was right unhappy.
Then I return again; after that, Joseph was gone with our Lord into Egypt and was there seven years, unto the death of Herod. And after the prophecy of Isaiah, at the entering of our Lord into Egypt, the idols fell down, for like as at departing of the children out of Egypt, in every house the oldest son of the Egyptians lay one dead, in like wise at the coming of our Lord lay down the idols in the temples.
Cassiodorus saith in the History tripartite, in Hermopolin of Thebaid there was a tree called Persidis, which is medicinal for all sicknesses, for if the leaf or rind of that tree be bound to the neck of the sick person, it healeth him anon, and as the Blessed Virgin Mary fled with her son, that tree bowed down and worshipped Jesu Christ. Also Macrobius saith in a chronicle that, a young son of Herod was nourished at that time, and he was slain among the other children. And then was fulfilled the prophecy saying:
The voice is heard in Rama of great weeping and wailing, that the sorrowful mothers wept for the death of their children, and might not be comforted, because they were not alive.
– Fourth Story: The Parable of the Tares:
The Parable of the Tares (also known as the Parable of the Weeds, Parable of the Wheat and Tares, Parable of the Wheat and Weeds, or the Parable of the Weeds in the Grain) is a parable of Jesus which appears in Matthew 13:24-13:30. The parable relates how servants eager to pull up the tares were warned that in so doing they would root out the wheat as well and were told to let both grow together until the harvest. According to the interpretation supplied in Matthew 13:36-13:43, the parable’s meaning is that the “sons of the evil one” (the tares or weeds) will be separated from the “sons of the kingdom” (the wheat) at “the end of the age” (the harvest) by angels. This is usually taken to refer to the separation of the unsaved sinners from the saved believers during the Last Judgment. A shorter, compressed version of the parable is found without any interpretation in the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas.
The parable in the Gospel of Matthew goes as follows:
Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:
- But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away.
- But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then the tares appeared also.
- So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in thy field? from where did the tares come out from?
- He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?
- But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.
- Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.— Matthew 13:24-30, Holy Bible: King James Version
The word translated “tares” in the King James Version is ζιζάνια (zizania), plural of ζιζάνιον (zizanion). This word is thought to mean darnel (Lolium temulentum), a ryegrass which looks much like wheat in its early stages of growth. Roman law prohibited sowing darnel among the wheat of an enemy, suggesting that the scenario presented here is realistic. Many translations use “weeds” instead of “tares”.
The word “zizanie” in French designates a discord and a disagreement between people or in a group. “semer la zizanie” = to sow discord.
Example: Everything was going well until Bertrand came to sow discord.
Synonyms: scramble, discord, division, clash, disagreement, misunderstanding
Then Jesus sent the multitudes away, and went into the house. His disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the darnel weeds of the field.” He answered them, “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, the field is the world; and the good seed, these are the children of the Kingdom; and the darnel weeds are the children of the evil one. The enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. As therefore the darnel weeds are gathered up and burned with fire; so will it be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will gather out of his Kingdom all things that cause stumbling, and those who do iniquity, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be weeping and the gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.— Matthew 13:36-43, World English Bible
Although Jesus has distinguished between people who are part of the Kingdom of Heaven and those who are not, this difference may not always be readily apparent, as the parable of the Leaven indicates. However, the final judgment will be the “ultimate turning-point when the period of the secret growth of God’s kingdom alongside the continued activity of the evil one will be brought to an end, and the new age which was inaugurated in principle in Jesus’ earthly ministry will be gloriously consummated.”
St. Augustine pointed out that the invisible distinction between “wheat” and “tares” also runs through the Church:
O you Christians, whose lives are good, you sigh and groan as being few among many, few among very many. The winter will pass away, the summer will come; lo! The harvest will soon be here. The angels will come who can make the separation, and who cannot make mistakes. … I tell you of a truth, my Beloved, even in these high seats there is both wheat, and tares, and among the laity there is wheat, and tares. Let the good tolerate the bad; let the bad change themselves, and imitate the good. Let us all, if it may be so, attain to God; let us all through His mercy escape the evil of this world. Let us seek after good days, for we are now in evil days; but in the evil days let us not blaspheme, that so we may be able to arrive at the good days.
Some Christians understood “the children of the evil one” and “the children of the kingdom” to be something else than humans. Origen for instance offered such an interpretation. He also argued that Jesus’s interpretation of the parable needs an interpretation of its own, pointing to the phrase with which Jesus followed his exposition of the parable, namely, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear”, which occurs after biblical passages with a hidden meaning (see Luke 14:34-14:35 and Mark 4:2-4:9). Here is an abridged version of Origen’s commentary on Jesus’s interpretation of the parable:
Good things in the human soul and wholesome words about anything have been sown by God the Word and are children of the kingdom. But while men are asleep who do not act according to the command of Jesus, “Watch and pray that you enter not into temptation”, (Matthew 26:41) the devil sows evil opinions over natural conceptions. In the whole world the Son of man sowed the good seed, but the wicked one tares—evil words. At the end of things there will be a harvest, in order that the angels may gather up and give over to fire the bad opinions that have grown upon the soul. Then those who become conscious that they have received the seeds of the evil one in themselves shall wail and be angry against themselves; for this is the gnashing of teeth. (Acts 7:54) Then shall the righteous shine, no longer differently, but all “as one sun”. (Matthew 13:43) Daniel, knowing that the righteous differ in glory, said, “And the intelligent shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and from among the multitudes of the righteous as the stars for ever and ever.” (Daniel 12:3) The Apostle says the same thing: “There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differs from another star in glory: so also is the resurrection of the dead.” (1 Corinthians 15:41-15:42) I think, then, that at the beginning of blessedness the difference connected with the light takes place. Perhaps the saying, “Let your light shine before men” (Matthew 5:16), can be written on the table of the heart in a threefold way; so that now the light of the disciples of Jesus shines before the rest of men, and after death before the resurrection, and after the resurrection until “all attain to a full-grown man” (Ephesians 4:13), and all become one sun.
The parable seems to have been interpreted in a similar way by Athenagoras who stated that “false opinions are an aftergrowth from another sowing”, and by St. Gregory Nazianzen who exhorted those who were going to be baptized: “Only be not ignorant of the measure of grace; only let not the enemy, while you sleep, maliciously sow tares.” Moreover, St. Gregory of Nyssa relates how his sister St. Macrina cited the parable as a scriptural support for her idea that God gave humans a passionate nature for a good purpose and that passions become vices when we fail to use our reason properly. In her opinion, the “impulses of the soul, each one of which, if only they are cultured for good, necessarily puts forth the fruit of virtue within us”, are the good seed, among which “the bad seed of the error of judgment as to the true Beauty” has been scattered. From the bad seed, “the growth of delusion” springs up by which the true Beauty “has been thrown into the shade.” Due to this, “the seed of anger does not steel us to be brave, but only arms us to fight with our own people; and the power of loving deserts its intellectual objects and becomes completely mad for the immoderate enjoyment of pleasures of sense; and so in like manner our other affections put forth the worse instead of the better growths.” But “the wise Husbandman” leaves the growth of the “error as to Beauty” to remain among his seed, “so as to secure our not being altogether stripped of better hopes” by our passions having been rooted out along with it. For “if love is taken from us, how shall we be united to God? If anger is to be extinguished, what arms shall we possess against the adversary? Therefore the Husbandman leaves those bastard seeds within us, not for them always to overwhelm the more precious crop, but in order that the land itself (for so, in his allegory, he calls the heart) by its native inherent power, which is that of reasoning, may wither up the one growth and may render the other fruitful and abundant: but if that is not done, then he commissions the fire to mark the distinction in the crops.” Finally, Theophylact of Ohrid believed that the parable has a double meaning, writing that the field “is the world, or, each one’s soul”, that the “good seed is good people, or, good thoughts”, and that the tares are heretics, or, bad thoughts.
The Parable of the Tares has often been cited in support of various degrees of religious toleration. Once the wheat is identified with orthodox believers and the tares with heretics, the command Let both grow together until the harvest becomes a call for toleration.
Preaching on the parable, St. John Chrysostom declared that “it is not right to put a heretic to death, since an implacable war would be brought into the world” which would lead to the death of many saints. Furthermore, he suggested that the phrase Lest ye root up the wheat with them can mean “that of the very tares it is likely that many may change and become wheat.” However, he also asserted that God does not forbid depriving heretics of their freedom of speech, and “breaking up their assemblies and confederacies”.
In his “Letter to Bishop Roger of Chalons”, Bishop Wazo of Liege (c. 985-1048 AD) relied on the parable to argue that “the church should let dissent grow with orthodoxy until the Lord comes to separate and judge them”.
Opponents of toleration, such as Thomas Aquinas and the inquisitors, but also John Calvin and Theodore Beza, found several ways to harmonize killing of heretics with the parable. Some argued that a number of tares can be carefully uprooted without harming the wheat. What is more, the tares could be identified with moral offenders within the church, not heretics, or alternatively the prohibition of pulling up the tares could be applied only to the clergy, not to the magistrates. As a millennialist, Thomas Müntzer could call for rooting up the tares, claiming that the time of harvest had come.
Martin Luther preached a sermon on the parable in which he affirmed that only God can separate false from true believers and noted that killing heretics or unbelievers ends any opportunity they may have for salvation:
From this observe what raging and furious people we have been these many years, in that we desired to force others to believe; the Turks with the sword, heretics with fire, the Jews with death, and thus outroot the tares by our own power, as if we were the ones who could reign over hearts and spirits, and make them pious and right, which God’s Word alone must do. But by murder we separate the people from the Word, so that it cannot possibly work upon them and we bring thus, with one stroke a double murder upon ourselves, as far as it lies in our power, namely, in that we murder the body for time and the soul for eternity, and afterwards say we did God a service by our actions, and wish to merit something special in heaven.
He concluded that “although the tares hinder the wheat, yet they make it the more beautiful to behold”. Several years later, however, Luther emphasized that the magistrates should eliminate heretics: “The magistrate bears the sword with the command to cut off offense. … Now the most dangerous and atrocious offense is false teaching and an incorrect church service.”
Roger Williams, a Baptist theologian and founder of Rhode Island, used this parable to support government toleration of all of the “weeds” (heretics) in the world, because civil persecution often inadvertently hurts the “wheat” (believers) too. Instead, Williams believed it was God’s duty to judge in the end, not man’s. This parable lent further support to Williams’ Biblical philosophy of a wall of separation between church and state as described in his 1644 book, The Bloody Tenent of Persecution.
John Milton, in Areopagitica (1644), calling for freedom of speech and condemning Parliament’s attempt to license printing, referred to this parable and the Parable of Drawing in the Net, both found in Matthew 13:
[I]t is not possible for man to sever the wheat from the tares, the good fish from the other fry; that must be the Angels’ ministry at the end of mortal things.
Vandana Shiva On the Real Cause of World Hunger:
“…food production must once again be an issue of sustainability, taking care of the earth and the human right to food must be an inalienable right.” – Dr. Vandana Shiva Trained as a physicist, Vandana Shiva is an organic farmer, social activist and renowned environmentalist. She warns that global hunger is a product of “intensive chemical farming” which turns biodiverse land into monocultures that are too costly for farmers to sustain and produces too little nutritional crops for local consumption. In this 2009 interview, Vandana Shiva talks about third world countries like her native India where agricultural communities are surrounded by fertile farmland and highly favorable growing conditions yet struggle with high rates of childhood hunger. Much of the food grown by indigenous farmers are exported to richer countries.
Oneness vs. The 1%: #VandanaShiva at the United Nations Office at Geneva
– Fifth Story: the Nursing Madonna
The depiction is mentioned by Pope Gregory the Great, and a mosaic depiction probably of the 12th century is on the facade of Santa Maria in Trastevere in Rome, though few other examples survive from before the late Middle Ages. It continued to be found in Orthodox icons (as Galaktotrophousa in Greek, Mlekopitatelnitsa in Russian), especially in Russia.
Usage of the depiction seems to have revived with the Cistercian Order in the 12th century, as part of the general upsurge in Marian theology and devotion. Milk was seen as “processed blood”, and the milk of the Virgin to some extent paralleled the role of the Blood of Christ.
In the Middle Ages, the middle and upper classes usually contracted breastfeeding out to wetnurses, and the depiction of the Nursing Madonna was linked with the Madonna of Humility, a depiction that showed the Virgin in more ordinary clothes than the royal robes shown, for instance, in images of the Coronation of the Virgin, and often seated on the ground.
Madonna of humility by Domenico di Bartolo,
Humility was a virtue extolled by Saint Francis of Assisi, and this style of image was associated with Franciscan piety, although it was not the creation of the Franciscans since the artist first associated with the image, Simone Martini, had ties with the Dominicans and may have created the image for them. The word humility derives from the Latin humus, meaning earth or ground.
The appearance of many such depictions in Tuscany in the early 14th century was something of a visual revolution for the theology of the time, compared to the Queen of Heaven depictions; they were also popular in Iberia. After the Council of Trent in the mid-16th century, clerical writers discouraged nudity in religious subjects, and the use of the Madonna Lactans iconography began to fade away.
Another type of depiction, also deprecated after Trent, showed Mary baring her breast in a traditional gesture of female supplication to Christ when asking for mercy for sinners in Deesis or Last Judgement scenes. A good example is the fresco at S. Agostino in San Gimignano, by Benozzo Gozzoli, painted to celebrate the end of the plague
The nursing Virgin survived into the Baroque some depictions of the Holy Family, by El Greco for example, and narrative scenes such as the Rest on the Flight into Egypt, for example by Orazio Gentileschi (versions in Birmingham and Vienna).
Bernard receiving milk from the breast of the Virgin Mary. The scene is a legend which allegedly took place at Speyer Cathedral in 1146.
A variant, known as the Lactation of St Bernard (Lactatio Bernardi in Latin, or simply Lactatio) is based on a miracle or vision concerning St Bernard of Clairvaux where the Virgin sprinkled milk on his lips (in some versions he is awake, praying before an image of the Madonna, in others asleep). In art he usually kneels before a Madonna Lactans, and as Jesus takes a break from feeding, the Virgin squeezes her breast and he is hit with a squirt of milk, often shown travelling an impressive distance. The milk was variously said to have given him wisdom, shown that the Virgin was his mother (and that of mankind generally), or cured an eye infection.
“When [Jesus] sucked the milk of Mary, He was suckling all with Life.
While He was lying on His Mother’s bosom, in His bosom were all creatures lying.
He was silent as a Babe, and yet He was making His creatures execute all His commands.”
(Hymns on the Nativity, Hymn 3)
He was lofty
but He sucked Mary’s milk,
and from His blessings all creation sucks.
He is the Living Breast of living breath;
by His life the dead were suckled, and they revived.
Without the breath of air no one can live;
without the power of the Son no one can rise.
Upon the living breath of the One Who vivifies all
depend the living beings above and below.
As indeed He sucked Mary’s milk,
He has given suck — life to the universe.
As again He dwelt in His mother’s womb,
in His womb dwells all creation.
(St. Ephraem’s Hymns on the Nativity)
- Psalm 131:” Like a weaned child smiling to its mother, weaned is my soul.”
Psalm 131 is a psalm from the Song of Ascents, a title given to fifteen of the Psalms, 120–134 (119–133 in the Septuagint and the Vulgate), each starting with the superscription Shir Hama’aloth (שיר המעלות šîr ha-ma‘ălōṯ, meaning “Song of the Ascents”), or, in the case of Psalm 121, Shir Lama’aloth (שיר למעלות šîr la-ma‘ălōṯ, “a song regarding ascents”). They are also variously called Gradual Psalms, Songs of Degrees, Songs of Steps, songs for going up to worship or Pilgrim Songs. One view says the Levites first sang the Songs at the dedication of Solomon’s temple during the night of the fifteenth of Tishri 959 BC, more than 3000 years ago, but still very meaningfull and beautifull in his symplicity
1-Song of Sacrifice to the twinkling heights, from David,
Eternal One, my heart is not proud
nor are my eyes haughty,
i do not busy myself with great matters, with things too sublime for me
2 Rather, swaying and soothing i have stilled my soul,
Like a weaned child smiling to its mother, weaned is my soul.
3- Expect the Eternal One, Israel( He Rules)
From Now to Eternity!
The Utrecht Psalter: The psalmist, crowned and with spear and shield, stands in the center of the picture beside an olive tree and raises his hands to the beardless, cross-nimbed Christ-Logos seated within a globe-mandorla flanked by six angels.
Christ-Logos raises His right hand in the gesture of benediction or speech
On the ground to the left of the psalmist is a mother suckling her child (verse 2).
To right and left are groups of the Israelites ( verse 3). The right-hand group is armed
“ Like a weaned child smiling to its mother, weaned is my soul.”
[The Pilgrim) perceiving that these abominations of desolation do stand in the place where Gods Holy Beeing ought to stand [must] immediately flie out of the same and submit himself under the obedience of Love, and not have any regard any more to the Knowledg of Good and Evil, nor to Boasting of the Knowledge, nor to Assured Knowledg, nor to Presumption, nor yet to Unfaithfulness. [And thus he frees himself from] bondage to Bitterness, the king of that detestable land.
(The Pilgrim) must at the end of his journey find himself altogether turned about.
Hendrik Niclaes is making it quite clear that there can be no half measures for seekers on the spiritual path. To be ‘altogether turned about’ is nothing less than the ‘dying to oneself’ in order to be ‘reborn from above’ that is taught in all traditions. He refers here to the necessarily arduous methods of spiritual work, symbolized in the text as ‘the Compass’, ‘the Cross’ and ‘Patience’. As “The Rest on the Flight into Egypt” , the “rest” place is a place where the dead people are buried. The word cemetery (from Greek κοιμητήριον, “sleeping place”. It is the place of Transformation where the “old man” is left behind and the “new man” is born.
- The Art of Dying Well according to Erasmus of Rotterdam and Teresa of Ávila
Contemporary conversations about death and dying are lost and unsatisfying on many levels. This phenomenon subsists not only in fields like bioethics, but also in religion and spirituality. Modern culture is preoccupied with seeking ways to live a longer, youthful life, ignoring the inevitable forthcoming of death. One period during which the topic of death and dying was reflected upon by the common Christian was between the fifteenth and the seventeenth centuries, during which a specific genre of literature was formed: ars moriendi. This genre attempted to provide intellectual, cultural and religious answers as to how death should be understood and ritualized. Two spiritual writers who contributed to the understanding of ars moriendi are Desiderius Erasmus and Teresa of Ávila. What unites these figures of the Catholic tradition is their attempt to show that preparation for death is a lifelong process of cultivating appropriate virtues. Read hereThe Art of Dying Well according to Erasmus of Rotterdam and Teresa of Avila
- Similarity between The Family of Love and Sufism
In our daily life we come up against situations that we cannot overcome in our own strength, or with our own wisdom. We need a strength and a wisdom that comes from Above, that comes from Beyond, that comes from Another outside of us and yet rises up from within us.“Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?” This transformation – sometimes called rebirth – is maybe difficult to achieve and costs a man dearly because it takes place in opposition to everything he values in material life;but that is an illusory life which he mistakes for the other.The seeker of truth begins to see the contradiction between what he is at present and what he is called to become and, seeing this, he cannot avoid suffering. If he has the courage to continue and if, in spite of suffering and other difficulties, he remains on the true path, he will eventually come to what tradition refers to as ‘dying to oneself’ – in Sufism, ‘die before you die’We find the same principle in Islam and Sufism : “la ilaha illallah ” : “there is no God but God” , it is part of theShahada.The Shahada has been traditionally recited in the Sufi ceremony of dhikr (Arabic: ذِکْر, “remembrance“), a ritual that resembles mantras found in many other religious traditions.
- Blessed Virgin Mary – Mystical Commentary
by Sheik Muzaffer Ozak Al-Jerrahi
To advance along the ascending way, one enters solitude and seclusion – not necessarily in a literal sense, but even while remaining within the context of family and social responsibility. These communal responsibilities are the sacred temple of human existence. However, solitude alone will not be sufficiënt.
One must remain oriented toward the mystic east, the direction of prayer. One must learn to gaze at the perpetual dawn of Divine Wisdom. This implies full participation in the science of prayer, as expressed within an authentic sacred tradition.
After entering that “solitary room facing east”, which is inwardness and simplicity of mind and heart, one can contemplate Divine Beauty manifest through the transparent creation – the universe in its pristine nature, untouched by conventional conceptuality but illumined instead by prophetic revelation.
Gradually, one’s being becomes more peaceful, harmonious, integrated. Divine Light begins to manifest directly.
Within this ineffable brightness, the conventional structures of society and our own habitual forms of perception are no longer visible. Within this dimension of sheer radiance, both waking visions and mystical dreams occur.
These subtle experiences are indications of progress along the evolutionary way, the steep path spoken of by Allah Most High in His Holy Quran. They can be accurately interpreted by a sheikh, or spiritual guide, who has received empowerment from a previous guide in the unbroken lineage of the Prophet Muhammad to carry on this sacred task of dream interpretation.
The combined inspiration and intention of disciple and guide, murid and murshid, sparks the alchemical process which is called inward. Read more here
- The birth of Jesus in man
Faouzi Skali in his book Jesus and the Sufi Traditon explains in the 10 chapter,The birth of Jesus in man:
The soul of the mystic, Rûmi teaches us, is similar to Mary: “If your soul is pure enough and full of love enough, it becomes like Mary: it begets the Messiah”.
And al-Halláj also evokes this idea: “Our consciences are one Virgin where only the Spirit of Truth can penetrate”
In this context, Jesus then symbolizes the cutting edge of the Spirit present in the human soul:“Our body is like Mary: each of us has a Jesus in him, but as long as the pains of childbirth do not appear in us, our Jesus is not born” ( Rumi, The Book of the Inside, V).
This essential quest is comparable to suffering of Mary who led her under the palm tree (Koran XIX, 22-26): “ I said:” 0 my heart, seek the universal Mirror, go towards the Sea, because you will not reach your goal by the only river! ”
In this quest, Your servant finally arrived at the place of Your home as the pains of childbirth led Mary towards the palm tree “(RÛMi, Mathnawî, II, 93 sq.)
Just as the Breath of the Holy Spirit, breathed into Mary, made him conceive the Holy Spirit, as so when the Word of God (kalám al-haqq) enters someone’s heart and the divine Inspiration purifies and fills his heart (see Matthew V, 8 or Jesus in the Sermon of the Mountain exclaims: “Blessed are pure hearts, for they will see God! “) and his soul, his nature becomes such that then is produced in him a spiritual child (walad ma’nawî) having the breath of Jesus who raises the dead.
“Human beings,” it says in Walad-Nama ( French translation, Master and disciple, of Sultan Valad andKitab al-Ma’ârif the Skills of SoulRapture), must be born twice: once from their mother, another from their own body and their own existence. The body is like an egg: the essence of man must become in this egg a bird, thanks to the warmth of Love; then it will escape its body and fly into the eternal world of the soul, beyond space. ”
And Sultan Walad adds: “If the bird of faith (imán) is not born in Man during its existence, this earthly life is then comparable to a miscarriage.”
The soul, in the prison of the body, is ankylosed like the embryo in the maternal womb, and it awaits its deliverance. This will happen when the “germ” has matured, thanks to a descent into oneself, to a painful awareness: “The pain will arise from this look thrown inside oneself, and this suffering makes pass to beyond the veil. As long as the mothers do not take birth pains, the child does not have the possibility of being born (. Rumi, Mathnawî, II, 2516 sq.) (…) My mother, that is to say my nature [my body], by his agony pains, gives birth to the Spirit … If the pains during the coming of the child are painful for the pregnant woman, on the other hand, for the embryo, it is the opening of his prison ”(Ibid., 3555 sq)
Union with God, explains Rûmi, manifests itself when the divine Qualities come to cover the attributes of His servant:
“God’s call, whether veiled or not, grants what he gave to Maryam. 0 you who are corrupted by death inside your body, return from nonexistence to the Voice of the Friend! In truth, this Voice comes from God, although it comes from the servant of God! God said to the saint: “I am your tongue and your eyes, I am your senses, I am your contentment and your wrath. Go, for you are the one of whom God said: ‘By Me he hears and by Me he sees!’ You are the divine Consciousness, how should it be said that you have this divine Consciousness? Since you have become, by your wondering, ‘He who belongs to God’.
I am yours because ‘God will belong to him. Sometimes, I tell you: ‘It’s you!’, Sometimes, ‘It’s me!’ Whatever I say, I am the Sun illuminating all things. “(Mathnawî, I, 1934 sq).
Once the illusion of duality has been transcended, all that remains in the soul is the divine Presence: the soul then finds in the depths of its being the divine effigy.
It has become the place of theophany. This is what Rumi calls the spiritual resurrection: “The universal Soul came into contact with the partial soul and the latter received from her a pearl and put it in her womb. Thanks to this touch of her breast, the individual soul became pregnant, like Mary, with a Messiah ravishing the heart. Not the Messiah who travels on land and at sea, but the Messiah who is beyond the limitations of space! Also, when the soul has been fertilized by the Soul of the soul, then the world is fertilized by such a soul “( Ibid., II, 1184 sq.).
This birth of the spiritual Child occurs out of time, and therefore it occurs in each man who receives him with all his being through this “Be!” that Marie receives during the Annunciation: “From your body, like Maryam, give birth to an Issa without a father! You have to be born twice, once from your mother, another time from yourself. So beget yourself again! If the outpouring of the Holy Spirit dispenses again his help, others will in turn do what Christ himself did: the Father pronounces the Word in the universal Soul, and when the Son is born, each soul becomes Mary (Ibid., III, 3773.)
So Jesus can declare: “O son of Israel, I tell you the truth, no one enters the Kingdom of Heaven and earth unless he is born twice!By the Will of God, I am of those who were born twice: my first birth was according to nature, and the second according to the Spirit in the Sky of Knowledge! » (Sha’ranî, Tabaqat, II, 26; Sohrawardî, ‘Awarif, I, 1)
The second birth corresponds to what we also gain in Sufism as the “opening (fath) of the eye of the heart“: “When Your Eye became an eye for my heart, my blind heart drowned in vision ; I saw that You were the universal Mirror for all eternity and I saw in Your Eyes my own image. I said, “Finally, I found myself in His Eyes, I found the Way of Light!” (Rumi, Mathnawî, II, 93 sq.)
This opening is the promise made by God to all those who conclude a pact with the spiritual master, pole of his time, like the apostles with Jesus or the Companions when they pledged allegiance to Muhammad: “God was satisfied with believers when they swore an oath to you under the Tree, He knew perfectly the content of their hearts, He brought down on them deep peace (sakina), He rewarded them with a prompt opening ( fath) and by an abundant booty which they seized ”(Coran XLVIII, 18-19).(The abundant loot indicates Divine Knowledge (mari’fa)
- Jesus – The Paradigm of a Pilgrim in God
Jesus, the physical embodiment of the divine Breath
For Ibn ʿArabī, Jesus is an exceptional being. As the Andalusian author relates, Jesus was his first master and was decisive in his entry into the way of Sufism. This personal relationship, similar to a first love, encouraged him to hope that he would be a witness to the day of Jesus’s coming, and perhaps this motivated him to live his final years in Damascus, the place of his descent.
Jesus follows a path from God, and returns to God, without ever having been away from God; his descent into this world is followed by his ascent to the second Heaven (the one of Mercury), waiting to descend again to the great mosque of Damascus, before making the final ascent to Paradise. His vertical movement combines with a horizontal movement – that is, he travels ceaselessly [his ceaseless travelling] across the world as a wanderer with no place to rest his head. This constant travel is a manifestation of the constant activity of God and reveals the nature of all reality. Every creature is a word that comes from God and is destined to return to Him. In addition, Jesus, by means of his preaching centred on asceticism and the reminder of death, and through his alchemical spiritual and health-giving activity, he helps human beings on their path of return to the Creator.Read more…
Viriditas is one of the most recognizable contributions of Hildegard of Bingen.
For Hildegard, viriditas encapsulated the divine force of nature, the depth and breadth of which is reflected in the various translations. These words within the word are laden with meaning; with lively, powerful connotations that capture the essence Hildegard had conceptualized so long ago.
The origin of Viriditas,” Viridity” may be the union of two Latin words: Green and Truth. (Latin viridis (source of Spanish, Italian verde), related to virere “be green, and Old English triewð (West Saxon), treowð (Mercian) “faith, faithfulness, fidelity, loyalty; veracity, quality of being true; pledge, covenant,” from Germanic abstract noun *treuwitho, from Proto-Germanic treuwaz “having or characterized by good faith,” from PIE *drew-o-, a suffixed form of the root *deru- “be firm, solid, steadfast.also *dreu-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning “be firm, solid, steadfast,
But like most Latin words, Viriditas does not easily translate into convenient, straightforward English. While being difficult to translate may be frustrating to some, there is beauty in this complexity.
The Basic Definition and Origin
The definition is both literal, as in “green”, “greenness”, and “growth”, yet also metaphorical, as in “vigor”, “verdure”, “freshness” and “vitality.” For Hildegard, the spiritual aspects were just as essential as the physical meaning. In much of her work, viriditas was “the greening power of God.” It was in everything, including humans.
This “greenness” was an expression of heaven, the creative power of life, which can be witnessed in the gardens, forests, and farmland all around us. And like those lands, she saw viriditas as something to be cultivated in both our bodies and our souls.
What is it? Hildegard says it is God’s freshness that we receive as spiritual and physical life‐forces. This is vivid imagery that probably came to her simply as she looked around the countryside. The Rhine valley is lush and green and as we know today, a wonderful place, flourishing in fruit and vineyards. This greening power mysteriously is inherent in animals and fishes and birds, in all plants and flowers and trees, in all the beautiful things of this world.
Human flesh is green she says and our blood possesses this special greening power. The “life force of the body” (the soul) was green. Whenever sex was involved—she said there was a particular brightness in the green. This greening power was at the heart of salvation and the reality of the Word was verdant life. This greenness connects us all together as humanity and shines forth giving us common purpose. It is the strength within us that manifests as a strong and healthy life. This greenness originates in the four elements: earth and fire, water and air. It is sustained by the four qualities: by dry and moist, by cold and hot; not only the body—but greenness of soul as well.
Hildegard contrasts greening power or wetness with the sin of drying up (one of her visions.) A dried‐up person or a dried‐up culture loses the ability to create. Hildegard saw this as a grave sin and a tragedy. It also describes how she felt about herself during those years when she was refusing to write down her visions and voices. Her awakening did not occur until she embraced her own viriditas. From then on Hildegard was constantly creating.
‘O most honored Greening Force, You who roots in the Sun;
You who lights up, in shining serenity, within a wheel
that earthly excellence fails to comprehend.
You are enfolded
in the weaving of divine mysteries.
You redden like the dawn
and you burn: flame of the Sun.”
– Hildegard von Bingen, Causae et Curae
Hildegard gives an interesting image about greenness stating that it drenches all things in this world and then gives the tree as an example. The function of the tree’s sap [its life blood that we know as its essential oil] falls to the soul in the human body. Its powers or abilities enable us to unfold or develop form just as it does in the tree. In other words, the tree’s essential oil gives life and nourishment— moistness to humans. She goes on to make comparisons between the tree’s branches, leaves, blossoms, and fruit with various stages within human life. For Hildegard, viriditas is that natural driving force, the life force that is always directed toward healing and wholeness. Love, too, is the breath of the same vital green power that sustains all life’s greenness. She sees the Holy Spirit as that power that gives human beings the green and open space where they are capable of responding to the Word and joining in all of creation. The Spirit purifies the world, scours away all guilt, and heals all wounds and sadness. So, green is not a mere color for Hildegard—it is an attitude and purposeful intent. It is the permanent inflowing and outflowing of viriditas. Ultimately—we are talking about physical health from the inexhaustible fountain of life’s living light. It is the very joy of being alive.