Christ as Sacrifice and More Mystic Journeys

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As usual, I’m not sure where to begin this entry.

I spoke with my friend Drew last night, briefly. We discussed our differences in outlooks concerning sinfulness- he has a more Islamic/Buddhist (and, according to Michael, Jewish) view- that humans are essentially good and that we can do evil things, but that the evil things are not evidence of a particular state of being.

My perspective, at this point, is different; everyone may already understand that I think we do have a sinful nature, that we are essentially rotten to the core.

Perhaps I should edit this, and say that it’s more accurate to say that is my fear- my fear is that, in this darkness, there is no God, there is only a Devil, and that we live in a chaotic world where it is the Lord and nothing will stop it from causing us to create destruction and evil, that good is simply an attempt for us to struggle against what’s real- namely, evil.

The intensity of the evil has sense faded but remains with me in a kind of ghostly manner- the smoke after the fire, if you will.

If we humans truly exist in a state where our innate nature is to hurt God (if indeed there is a God that is not Satan), then I am at a loss of what to say about reality, about life, about what the hell’s going on.

On the practical level, when arrested by these situations, the best thing to do is continue spiritual practice. So I’ve continued the dhikr/Hesychasm to the best of my ability, continued the Devotion to the Sacred Heart, and so on.

Then, yesterday, I took a daring turn. I said Mass again, the private Mass that I’ve been saying. I took the risk, knowing that it could potentially kill me, as I would be receiving in unworthily.

Yet, isn’t that part of the nature of Mass? We receive the Eucharist unworthily; we cannot make ourselves worthy. We rely on God’s grace.

And after the Mass, I felt alright, and I obviously did not die.

Later, when I readied myself for meditation, I was praying on my chotki. My chotki is actually a Tibetan Buddhist mala to which I’ve affixed a glitzy cross. It reminds me of Erik’s tree ornament and Jordan’s reference to how crosses of the ancient world were huge, jewel encrusted things. Very gorgeous, very ethereal in its own way.

So there I was, walking around, repeating the name of Christ, naked. I stared at the crucifix, asking all kinds of questions, wondering how these things fit together, what’s really going on. I’m at a loss at this point, because there’s never been anything in the mystical literature that explained what’s been happening to me.

I have looked into Jung’s explanations; he’s my first reference point to the Shadow. Jung posited two equally disturbing ideas that oddly make more sense than I would like for them to: in Jungian terms, the Trinity is, in a manner of speaking, incomplete. The Trinity seeks a Fourth, from the perspective of Masculinity that of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and from the perspective of the Good that of Evil, namely Satan.

Now, this is a terrifying concept; the idea of deifying Satan or that the Devil could in any way complete the Trinity is totally foreign to theology, but at the same time, there is an intuitive appeal to this notion. We see the idea of Good and Evil complementing one another and the destruction that they cause in such cases as The Dark Crystal.

 

But likewise, we see the opposite notion presented in the film Legend, in which the Devil-like entity is eventually destroyed and thrown into a vortex and whatnot.

The Blessed Virgin Mary has, in many cases, all but been lifted into the Trinity; theologically, the Church may officially not recognize her as Divine, but it’s still a reality- Mary is often regarded as being almost as important as Jesus, and, for the Christians that maintain God is exclusively in the masculine, she adds the important missing feminine element.

Personally, I have no problem with Mary’s deification; in fact, I encourage it.

Gnostics have a bit of a different route with this: the Holy Spirit is regarded as God the Mother, and God the Father is entirely beyond anything we can imagine, so “Father” especially becomes a relative term.

 

Anyway, the basic idea here is that somehow, the opposing forces have to have an alchemical fusion.

Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, the Sufi teacher I’ve followed for so long, has said that we must accept our Shadow. He also says that our darkness becomes our own inner divinity.

That’s terrifying. So terrifying. The notion that somehow there is salvation for the Devil, who then becomes our own personal God.

At the same time, another idea I’ve kicked around is that perhaps the purification of the darkness IS the point- perhaps we are not all sent here to express the Light; perhaps we are sent here with darkness inside of us which we must purify and turn into Light, to redeem it. In other words, the Gnostic myth of Sophia’s fall is precisely what happens to us- except we are both Christ and Sophia, falling and being sent, to capture the darkness in ourselves and redeem it.

Thus, we participate in the act of salvation, being saviors of the universe, even as Christ is often said to be our savior.

Feeling alone doesn’t begin to describe what was going on last night. I just can’t figure out what’s happening, and I avoid thinking excessively about it- instead, I try to ask the important questions, the difficult ones, to face the things that others won’t, can’t, and aren’t.

I began trying to meditate and found it almost impossible to stop any thoughts; my mind was simply too far oriented towards figuring out this puzzle. Again, I’ve not seen anything in the literature I’ve read that explains WHAT TO DO at this point.

 

While trying to meditate, I prayed for the Holy Spirit to help me to pray; She is, after all, the means by which we learn to pray, are taught to pray. I heard a voice call my name, and part of the block in my heart chakra was removed.

Then an epiphany came.

I recalled last year when I was reading Pagan and Christian Creeds the parts about sacrifice and the evolution of sacrifice. I then remembered being at my friend’s birthday party in October of 2010 and standing near the campfire that was outside; I chanted, silently, the Hindu mantra “HUM” which is used for sacrifices, offering the burning fire as a ritual to God.

The feeling, the desire, to offer a sacrifice to a God is extremely primal, and then I realized something else: offering the Sacrifice of the Mass is synonymous with this. I realized that part of the ritual that is so important is that we’re programmed to sacrifice, to give up, to atone.

The longing returned to my heart. I realized that Christ is the Sacrifice, the Sacrifice to continually and eternally be offered to God. The importance of this realization is that Christ can at any time and any place be offered in our hearts to God.

So in all my beliefs about my wretchedness, in all my self-hatred, I came to a similar conclusion of Luther, in that I had to also accept God’s grace. That doesn’t mean that my penance has been for nothing; that doesn’t mean that my actions have not led me to where I am. Rather, it means that I affirm that the Mystery of Salvation takes place by the cooperation of Man and God, through Man’s Free Will and God’s Grace.

This, too, is exemplified in Christ- Christ is both God and Man, together, joining the natures. How perfect a Sacrifice!

God became man that man might become God.

I can’t begin to emphasize the importance of the Sacrificial nature of the Mass. This whole “let’s just remember Jesus” bullshit isn’t going to get us anywhere.

The epiphany had a greater character last night and has left and impression on me, though I’m waiting to see what happens next, because no one knows.

The oddness is how I’m still convinced that Christ can be offered to anything; it’s so strange to go from fearing that there is only an evil god ruling the world to somehow knowing that Christ can be given to God Most High.

Incidentally, that name is “El Elyon,” which can be easily read as “Alien.” If God turns out to be a grey alien, well, He can go ahead and delete me.

Beaux 

Memoirs of My Religion I

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For the first five years of my life, I was raised Southern Baptist. The peculiarities of Baptist theology were not necessarily present at this time in my young mind; that is, the differences between Baptist theology and older Christian philosophies and positions did not stand out.

The theological view on things that I had was rather infantile. The basic idea is that if you were good, you would go to heaven, and if you were bad, you would go to hell. God, Jesus, and the Devil all existed, along with some mentioning of angels and less often, demons. Jesus was the Son of God, and that was about the extent of it.

The order of events at church wasn’t too intense. We went to the children’s Sunday school, then we went to Children’s Church, where we did some kind of craft and had juice and cookies.

At around age 5, we stopped going to church. That was actually quite fine with me- I had a Nintendo, and that meant more free time for me to play it.

Around age 6, the so-called Bible Story Ladies started coming to my Elementary School. This is where we were told stories about God and then we were compelled to ask Jesus into our heart, if we hadn’t already done so.

Think about that: at the age of 6, I was asking Jesus into my heart to save me from the eternal damnation that these women were telling me about.

I felt that believing in God was enough at this point, and that was what we were taught. I certainly didn’t believe that one had to attend church; that was inconsequential.

Around age 10, I started going to another church with some family members. This was an Assembly of God, a highly Pentecostal, fire-and-brimstone, fundamentalist, literalistic Christian church. The worship service was highly informal, and I never really cared for it.

My interests lay in studying the Bible and learning about theology. Always inquisitive (like my grandfather), always wanting to learn the abstractions of things, I asked questions, some of them a lot more challenging than the people at the church seemed to be used to. Thus, I often received answers, though many times they were not fulfilling and didn’t actually answer my question.

Bear in mind: this was before the days of the internet as we know it today. The kind of information on theology, etymology, liturgy, mysticism, and so forth that we have today was largely inaccessible in those days unless you had access to a good library, and being in a small town, that wasn’t going to happen.

One of the earliest and biggest intellectual hurdles I had when with Christianity was the doctrine (dogma?) of the Holy Trinity: for those of you who are not familiar with this particular central tenet of Christianity, the Holy Trinity entails that God exists as ONE GOD in THREE PERSONS: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. That is, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all ONE GOD but exist in THREE PERSONS. They are each consubstantial with one another but are not the same person.

I wrestled with this idea for years, because it was introduced to me later on, probably after I started going to church.

The image that had been presented to me as a child was much closer to the Jehovah’s Witness theology, believe it or not, and I’ve had other people say the same thing: God was our heavenly Father, Jesus was the Son of God (but not God Himself), and the Holy Spirit was the active presence of God’s Spirit on Earth. Not difficult.

Oh, but no. Suddenly that was not the case.

So one day when I innocently asked the question of why Jesus prayed to Himself in the Garden of Gethsamene, I was told, “He didn’t…He prayed to the Father.” I challenged this at some point because I was told that He and the Father were the same Person.

This is when a new bit of theology was thrown at me: I had already become comfortable with the illogical doctrine of the Trinity, only to suddenly be told that God the Father is still GOD, and that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are like Gods, but not God Himself because of how in tune with the Father they are.

Good…grief.

Also around this time, the local school took a trip to Washington, D.C., where one of our stops was the National Cathedral. I remember being completely in awe of the blue window with the rock from the moon in it, as well as seeing the nuns and the entire High Church set up. I swore for a long time that this was a Catholic church but came to realize it later on that it was an Episcopal/Anglican church.

The mistake came because I thought when we inquired about the pillows on the back of the pews that the nun told us that there was a lot of kneeling in Catholicism, but she had actually said, “There’s a lot of kneeling in Anglicanism.” Now I get it.

But most of all, I was curious about the altar- why was it behind railing? What was the altar used for? Was it merely a symbol? I don’t recall anyone ever answering the question at that time. I do remember I bought something called the Comic Book Bible from the store. I also remember going into the side chapels and how rude the nuns were- except our tour guide nun, who was quite friendly and helpful.

At age 12, I started attending Emmanuel Christian School, a highly evangelical private school in the local area. It was here that I learned huge chunks of evangelical theology and essentially became a fanatical, brain-washed, fundamentalist Christian myself.

I managed to drive most of the people around me crazy with my insane rantings and fanatical positions on Christianity. What few people realized was that my own compassion drove me to be crazy- I was deathly afraid that my family members and friends would not accept Jesus and consequently would burn in Hell. It wasn’t about me being right- it was about me making sure people that I loved didn’t go to Hell for all eternity.

Catholics, of course, were frowned upon. The only thing I can remember really hearing of them was that they “Pray to Mary,” and that we’re only supposedly to actually pray to God. These words had some kind of strange, Puritanical influence that I sensed even at an early age.

My mother also defended Catholics as much as she made the above statement; she said that she couldn’t believe that someone who was faithful and went to Mass everyday would end up in Hell, that it just didn’t make any sense, and I agreed.

One of my friends at church had a Catholic friend who said that they didn’t pray to Mary, and we told my Sunday school teacher that. She simply, “Well, all of them but your friend do.”

I think I misunderstood what they were implying when they said these things: I understood them to mean that there were prayers addressed to Mary, but never did I understand it to mean they exclusively addressed Mary, which is what they were actually saying.

In 7th Grade or so, I learned about the Catholic Sacraments in my Christian school. Naturally, we were taught how the Good and Noble Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli liberated the Holy Bible from those nasty Catholics and freed the Gospel for all people from their clutches. But at the same time, the Sacraments caught my attention.

Specifically, the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist- that the Bread and Wine become the actual Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ, caught my attention. Something snapped in my head at that age, and something pushed inside of me to want to become Catholic.

At my podunk, backwoods church, I was ridiculed for saying this. I remember one person saying that the Catholics let you do anything- “You can get drunk, whatever. You saved!”

Ignorance is not pretty.

My mom’s advice? “You can’t just go become Catholic- you have to go to confirmation classes and such.”

I really wish I had pushed the issue at the time, but I didn’t.

Things changed heavily for me around age 14-15, and we’ll get into that in the next entry: there’s a lot of ground to cover.

Beaux