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Saint Irenaeus (125-202) was a Greek-born luminary of the early Christian Church who had been acquainted with disciples (most notably Saint Polycarp) who, in turn, had known the apostles. As bishop of Lyons in Gaul he wrote Against Heresies, a fierce attack on Gnosticism.
In his writing against the Gnostics, who claimed to possess a secret oral tradition from Jesus himself, Irenaeus maintained that the bishops in different cities are known as far back as the Apostles — and none were Gnostic — and that the bishops provided the only safe guide to the interpretation of Scripture. He emphasized the unique position of the bishop of Rome.¹
The scholar of religion and philosophy John Hick wrote about the Irenaean Theodicy (Irenaeus’ defense of God’s Goodness given the reality of evil) in the book Evil and the God of Love (1966). Hick said that, according to Irenaeus, a soul which freely chooses the good over evil is more valuable than one that, if such a thing were possible, automatically did the good like a robot.
However, before the ultimate goodness of souls freely cooperating with God comes about, sins will be committed and evil will manifest in this world until souls learn that choosing the good is the better option.
Tradition has it that Irenaeus was martyred and beheaded in 202 CE by Septimus Severus.
- Memorial of Saint Irenaeus, bishop and martyr (trustinjesus.wordpress.com)
- First Mass at St. Irenaeus (cehwiedel.com)
- Prayers to Saints in the Pre-Nicene Era (energeticprocession.wordpress.com)
- Το κατεχόμενο χωριό Ζώδια της επαρχίας Λευκωσίας – The Turkish occupied village of Zodhia in the district of Nicosia (vatopaidi.wordpress.com)
- Church History Made Interesting (inchristus.wordpress.com)
- Power Cords and Apostolic Succession (catholicdefense.blogspot.com)
- Is being ‘unorthodox’ sinful or could it be the way forward? (opentabernacle.wordpress.com)
- Theosis in Early Christian Writings (Part I) (diglotting.com)
-  THE LETTERS SUPPOSEDLY WRITTEN BY IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH: 10th and final post in the series (vridar.wordpress.com)
- Parables of Treasure, Parables to Treasure (insightscoop.typepad.com)
Saint-Simon, Comte Henri de (1760-1825)
Aristocrat and founder of French socialism, placed in jail during the French Revolution.
Saint-Simon’s writings remain influential in sociology. He had particular impact on the political views of Auguste Comte (1798 – 1857), especially with regard to progress.
Comte in turn influenced Emile Durkheim, one of the founding fathers of Sociology.
Saint-Simon reacted against the brutality of the French Revolution and advocated a society where science and technology would guide the workings of religion and politics.
His work included a belief in God but he wanted to strip away the dogmas of both Protestant and Catholic Christianity to get to the core of Jesus’ message as he saw it. He was particularly interested in the plight of the poor, believing that theory and practice should go hand in hand to elevate all peoples to the highest possible good.
Unfortunately he squandered his money and lived out his last days in severe poverty.
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(Latin sanctus = sacred ) The word saint has several meanings.
In everyday usage, saints are unusually kind, ethical people who perform good works on a local or grand scale which most everyone can appreciate.
The term also denotes the faithful Jews of the Bible and the body of Christian believers.
Moreover, saints may be Buddhist arhats (monks having achieved Nirvana) and bodhisattvas (monks forgoing entry into Nirvana in order to help others reach that threshold).
Saints also refer to Taoist, Confucian and Hindu sages and gurus (Skt. guru = teacher), African and Amerindian elders, as well as the Shamans of Central and Southeast Asia, Oceania, North America and the Arctic.
In Islam the righteous departed are said to mediate between heaven and Earth.
Robert Ellsberg regards great figures like Galileo Galilei, Leo Tolstoy, Stephen Biko and Dante Alighieri as saints in his book, All Saints.
Some believe that all public figures called “saints” are equally holy but this view arguably is more of a human hope than God’s assessment of individual holiness.
In Catholicism, the canonized saint leads an exceedingly holy and humble life serving God, is often persecuted, may be martyred and performs by the power of God at least two verified miracles.
Catholic sainthood often involves the idea of intercession. Intercession is the belief that God’s divine power and grace may be mediated by one soul to other souls on Earth, purgatory and hell.
Catholics also believe in the communion of saints, the idea that all souls, except for the damned, are united in a “mystical body” with Christ as head. From this we can see that the idea of interconnected souls is not necessarily something of the occult (unless one views Catholicism as a Satanic cult, which some do).
Another essential element of the Catholic faith is the belief that individuals cooperate with God’s Plan of Salvation through vocal and mental prayer (i.e. interior contemplation).
Prayerful saints cooperate with the Divine Plan but do not effect salvation through their own power.
Some Protestants object by saying that the Catholic saint is just a manmade god or goddess. Catholics reply to this charge that saints are friends and servants of God, not a god nor God.
Many Protestant Christians pray for other people yet object to the Catholic idea of interceding saints. To this Catholicism replies: If someone on Earth can pray for another on Earth, why can’t someone in heaven pray for another person on Earth?
According to Catholic teaching there are many unrecognized saints. These unsung heroes of the spirit are said to achieve a great degree of spiritual purity without ever having set foot in a monastery or abbey.
This is good to remember. Otherwise we might misunderstand some individuals in contemporary society not primarily concerned with sex, wealth or raising a family.
Considering the great diversity of individuals and spiritual paths throughout the world, to insist on rigid criteria for sainthood seems both arbitrary and, considering the world today, unwise.
» Brahman, Clairaudience, Confucianism, Faith and Action, Fasting, George (St.), God, Goddess vs. goddess, Great Mother, Guru, Heaven, Hinduism, Holy Rosary, Icon, Intercession, James (William), Jewish Mysticism, Karma Transfer, Koran, Meditation, More (St. Thomas), Mysticism, Numinous, Social Darwinism, Solitude, Targ, Taoism, Russell, Vivekananda (Swami), Wisdom, Yogi, Yogini
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Saint Michael Prayer » Michael (St.)
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Archetype is a term used by the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung to indicate the psychological contents of an alleged collective unconscious. For Jung the archetypes are inherited patterns encoded in the body, universally shared by mankind.¹
Jung often likens the archetypes to ancient deities, saying that the word “archetype” is a scientific-sounding update for a very old idea. Not unlike the gods and goddesses of ancient times, archetypes apparently have a psychic life of their own. And when ego consciousness encounters the archetype, the individual experiences a sense of the numinous.
According to Jung, the encounter with the numinous may be psychologically constructive or destructive, healing or disorienting. The effect of the numinous on the conscious ego depends on two things:
- The psychological stability and maturity of the individual
- The character and intensity of the numinosity, itself
The experience of the numinous is often facilitated by a meaningful visual symbol (e.g. a mandala) or ecstatic activity (e.g. chanting, music-listening or dancing). Jungian writers and literary critics, alike, often say that the symbol “mediates” archetypal energy. So when the archetype enters into consciousness, it takes the form of numinosity.
For Jung, the self is also an archetype, one of wholeness.
In contrast to experiencial manifestations of the archetype, which take the form of numinosity, visible manifestations of the archetypes appear as archetypal images. Jung distinguishes these recognizable images from the archetype proper, which Jung says can never be fully known. Jung calls the unknowable aspect of the archetype the pscyhoid aspect. This distinction between the unknowable archetype and its recognizable image is often overlooked in casual commentaries about Jung. Wikipedia notes:
These images and motifs are more precisely called archetypal images. However it is common for the term archetype to be used interchangeably to refer to both archetypes-as-such and archetypal images.²
The idea of the archetype has been championed by Jungians and some literary writers as “the answer” to all of the complexities and difference found in world religions. In fact, many Jungians tend to blur real differences by gelling everything into Jung’s handy model. But the idea of the archetype has also been roundly critiqued.³
Jung himself was a complex, confusing and honest thinker. At times he would say that archetypal energies differed. Other times he would lump different religions and symbols together as if they were the same. Jung also writes in his letters than not many people realize he had a Christian bias. He even admitted to being contradictory at times.
Despite the complexity and confusion within Jung’s work, some of his followers have simplified his work into something palatable for the masses. As always, dumbing things down has its pros and cons. On the one hand it can help everyday people to benefit from some of Jung’s more useful ideas. On the other hand, it can leave Jung open to a kind of unjust demonization by fundamentalists and rigid religious thinkers.4
4 See for instance “Carl Gustav Jung: Enemy of the Church” by Dr Pravin Thevathasan » http://www.theotokos.org.uk/pages/churpsyc/cgjung.html. And a partially misinformed critique of Jung can be found in “CARL JUNG: PSYCHOLOGIST OR SORCERER?” by Marsha West » http://www.newswithviews.com/West/marsha5.htm. By way of contrast, Fr. Victor White entered into a respectful dialogue with Jung. The two agreed on some points while disagreeing on others. This seems the more sensible, mature and constructive way to go. See » http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_White_%28priest%29
- Archetypal Image (earthpages.wordpress.com)
- Evoking the archetypes of Carl Jung (patricktay.wordpress.com)
- Anima (earthpages.wordpress.com)
- Forum II: Archetype (imanberhan.wordpress.com)
- Psychology in Writing: The Collective Unconscious – Introduction (wtjowett.wordpress.com)
- Jung analysis (clas3026.wordpress.com)
- Psychology in Writing: Anima and Animus – Introduction (wtjowett.wordpress.com)
- Pearson Archetypes – Just Another Zodiac (thestarryeye.typepad.com)
- Model of maturity- Jungian perspective (gcervino.wordpress.com)
Archangel [Greek archos: ruler + angelos: messenger]
The Catholic catechism does not place too much emphasis on angels, but it does describe them as servants of both God and man. Perhaps this lack of hoopla is a definite move away from those New Age (and other) systems that exalt angels or individuals who believe they are angels.
For Catholics, the focus is always on God first. Even with Catholicism’s veneration of saints, it’s always God who is (and who supplies) the power and the glory. Saints merely intercede. This is a commonly misunderstood point among non-Catholics. But in reality, whenever some person (or type of devotion) becomes too eccentric – i.e. away from God, the source – the Vatican usually distances itself from or outright condemns these deviations.
The Catholic tradition outlines three archangels: Michael, Gabriel and Raphael.¹ Essentially glorifying God, archangels are said to be spiritual powers whose perfection surpasses human beings.
Historically speaking, In the Celestial Hierarchies Pseudo Dionysus (c. 500 CE) arranged angels into three hierarchies, each consisting of three thrones.
- Closest to God are the Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones.
- The next level contains the Dominations, Virtues and Powers.
- The third and furthest level from God is filled with Principalities, Archangels and Angels.
In this schema the highest-ranking angels are apparently rapt in God’s glory, continually singing His praises, while the lower two levels interact with mankind. The schema was accepted by the medieval scholastic St. Thomas Aquinas, whose work was largely influential on the formation of Catholic dogma.
It is interesting to note that, for Catholics, the archangel is not at the height of the heavenly hierarchy, as many mistakenly assume.
A Catholic exorcism prayer appeals to St. Michael and other spiritual powers to expel the devil from an afflicted person.
St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.²
¹ For more about archangels and their (alleged) equivalents in other traditions, see the Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archangel
² A much longer version can be found here: http://www.catholicfirst.com/thefaith/prayers/simpleexorcism.html
- [Video] Prayer of St Michael the Archangel (deaconjohn1987.wordpress.com)
- The Warrior of Light series of pocket books from author, Kevin Hunter (kevinhunter.wordpress.com)
- Holy Archangel Michael and all the Bodiless Powers of heaven, November 21 (November 8, old calendar) (1389blog.com)
- Your Old Life Is Over – Archangel Michael (pathwaytoascension.wordpress.com)
- Archangel – the city of Military Glory (voiceofrussia.com)
- Sirian Archangel Hermes – 11/21/13 (illuminations2012.wordpress.com)
- Saints and Feasts: Synaxis of the Archangel Michael and the Other Bodiless Powers (orthodoxlogos5.wordpress.com)
- In wrecked chapel, 10 bodies, and a father’s pain (cnsnews.com)
- Archangel Gabriel: The messenger of God Interview (pure-love.org)
- An Hour With an Angel – Archangel Michael – 11/21/13 (pathwaytoascension.wordpress.com)
Ancestor Cults [ancestor, from Latin antecessor, from ante, before + cedere, to go] is the now antiquated and politically incorrect term that until fairly recently scholars applied to individuals or groups who revere ancestors believed to exist in the afterlife.
Various traditions around the world venerate and pray to deceased ancestors.
Adherent of these traditions believe that familial spirits come to aid in daily life by bestowing spiritual power, protection, wisdom and practical guidance through individuals acting as mediums.
With roots in Africa, China, Korea, Taiwan, and Japan, ancestor veneration appears especially in folk religions. Ritual is often present. In Africa, ancestors are said to protect living relatives from witches and voodoo curses. In Asia, ancestor veneration takes on varying degrees of importance in Confucianism, Taoism, Shinto and Buddhism. In China, the graves of ancestors are meticulously kept, despite former Marxist and Communist attempts to eradicate other spiritual practices.
In North American Native religions, the ongoing presence of the dead is taken to be equally as important as the ongoing presence of the living. Western culture tends to view this as odd and some religious groups deplore it as Satanic, probably because of their focus on the trappings and trends of everyday life. But it’s ironic that Catholics, for instance, believe that anybody can be a saint, and as such, mediate divine graces for us.¹
On the other hand, we do have psychologically questionable individuals who believe and follow any voice they hear without question. Some of these folks can do quite well in society, masking their difference (especially when non-violent). If the voices tell them to do bad things, they can still hide it for a long time before being discovered. Usually things start to unravel, however, and the potentially violent person’s family, friends, coworkers and, perhaps, psychiatrist begin to see that something’s wrong. Sometimes this is reported in time. Other times not, and an upsetting event (like failing an exam or losing a job) triggers these individuals into committing unspeakable acts of violence.
This short account of the psychology behind this type of violence might seem out of place here. But I mention it to underscore the fact that the belief in spirit communication is not always benign.
¹ See the entry on intercession.
- Beliefs of the Zulu (gleeklainefanboy.wordpress.com)
- Ancestors: Or, Once a Skeptic, Always (acastleeastofthesun.wordpress.com)
- Polytheistic Values: My Thoughts (hawkandlion.wordpress.com)
- Fantasy Magic – Ancestor Worship (gameystuff.wordpress.com)
- Polytheists and Values: A Response (thetwistedrope.wordpress.com)
- Ode to Ancestors (seshatwuji.wordpress.com)
- How Your Ancestors Communicate With You And Act As Your Spiritual Guide (harounkola.com)
- Talking with the Beloved Dead (pixiecraft.wordpress.com)
- A meditation on the Ancestors, by Jon Cleland Host (humanisticpaganism.com)
- Who Was Your First Ancestor to Have an “Afterlife”? (secularnewsdaily.com)
Akhenaton was the first ruler in recorded history to advocate a type of monotheism. Originally Amenhotep IV, this 18th dynasty Egyptian King changed his title to Akhenaton (“it is well with Aton”) and reigned from 1350-1334 BCE.
Akhenaton replaced the many Egyptian deities, particularly Amun, with the sun god Aton. While this was a type of monotheism, worshipping a solar deity clearly differs from worshipping a wholly-other creator God. Along these lines, Sigmund Freud, in perhaps his weakest writings, compared Akhenaton to the Jewish prophet Moses.
The debate continues, however, as to what the ancient depictions of Aton actually depicted. Some scholars adhere to the limited solar cosmology while others, mostly New Age enthusiasts and so-called fringe theorists, suggest a more universal conception of the godhead. This debate calls to mind R. C. Zaehner’s distinction between theism and pantheism, a distinction he’s not alone in making, but one which still eludes many thinkers who lump all things and all paths into one gelatinous whole.
Akhenaton, himself, became self-aggrandized to the point of proclaiming himself as the only true mediator of Aton. This is surprising because a good number of artistic depictions of Akhenaton from this period learn toward realism, stressing human detail rather than godlike or saintly gloss. Prior to Akhenaton, Egyptian rulers were depicted in stylized, refined forms. Akhenaton, however, is sometimes visibly unattractive, marking a first for Egyptian art and influencing realism in general.
Akhenaton’s most well-known wife was Nefertiti. Together they rode in grand and imposing public processions, demanding servility and worship as their carriages passed by onlookers.
But for all his grandiose pretensions, Akhenaton had little interest in international politics. Eerdmans Bible Dictionary points out that “during his reign Egypt lost control of its provinces in Syria and Palestine.”¹ And the Amarna letters (inscribed tablets showing diplomatic records) tell us that he was preoccupied with domestic affairs and neglected the city-states of Palestine, leaving them in chaos, a chaos marked by conflict among local chieftains, turmoil and open rebellion.
¹ Eerdmans Bible Dictionary, ed. Allen C. Myers, 1987, p. 35, 46.
- Kemetic Roots: King Tut Series Coming to Spike TV (atlantablackstar.com)
- Egypt exhibits surviving artefacts (bbc.co.uk)
- Spotlight & Author Interview for The Lightbearers (sunmountainreviews.wordpress.com)
- Akhenaten: Egyptian Pharaoh, Nefertiti’s Husband, Tut’s Father (livescience.com)
- Did Ancient Egypt’s Queen Hatshepsut Accidentally Poison Herself? (theblaze.com)
- The Key to Egyptian Magic, Part II (isiopolis.com)
- Greco-Egyptian Athiratu (thehouseofvines.com)
Adam (Hebrew, adam = Man) is a key figure In the Bible’s Old Testament book of Genesis, Adam is said to be the first human being, fashioned from earthly clay and brought to life with the living breath of God.
According to Genesis his female counterpart, Eve, was created from his rib. It is noteworthy, says St. Thomas Aquinas, that Eve was not created from Adam’s head or from some other body part, such as his foot.
Being created from his rib signifies a woman’s traditional role, so Aquinas says, of fulfilling her role in marriage and offering humble service to her husband. In Genesis 1:27, however, we find another version of the creation story in which God creates male and female in his image. No mention is given of Adam’s rib in this verse.
With Eve, Adam is said to represent the ‘first age’ of mankind, this being The Fall and Sin because the original sin of Eve (and shortly after, Adam’s sin) brings evil to the world. Now Adam and all subsequent generations must work hard to survive.
Joachim of Fiore says this introduction of evil necessitated the rule of “the Law”—that is, the Ten Commandments given to Moses.
In Christian theology Jesus Christ, the ‘second Adam,’ is portrayed as God’s perfect redeeming solution to the evil disobedience of Adam. And the Virgin Mary is often regarded as the ‘second Eve,’ the perfect counterpart to Eve’s original sin.
Some branches of Jewish mysticism believe that we can return to the “Original Adam” (the perfect man before the Fall) by contemplating God. But for Christians, the perfect, sinless man (Jesus) can only be imperfectly imitated by his followers and never equaled.
¹ Seth is also the name of an alleged disembodied spirit that the channeler Jane Roberts wrote about. We find with many channelers that the names of these unseen beings are often derived from the annals of mythology and religion.
- Covered by a Sacrifice (wherelivingbegins.wordpress.com)
- Where Was Adam with Eve When She was Deceived by the Serpent? (peterdavid28.wordpress.com)
- ‘The Evolution of Adam’ by Peter Enns: Mini Book Review (christianityandvirtue.wordpress.com)
- Adam and Eve (Like a Virgin) (jaguarpf.wordpress.com)
- Just call me “helper.” (lorischulz.wordpress.com)
- Our Parents: Adam & Eve (ourfathershavetoldus.wordpress.com)
- Genesis 1-11 (ashleyharroldblog.wordpress.com)
- The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (therookietheologian.wordpress.com)
- Genesis 3 (whymyfamilywilldisownme.wordpress.com)
- In Adam All Die (ourfathershavetoldus.wordpress.com)
The fire doesn’t consume the bush, and when the supernatural being speaks, its voice is likened to God’s.
Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight-why the bush does not burn up.” When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am” (Exodus 3:1-4 NIV)
Another reference to the burning bush is made in Deuteronomy 33:16 where God is described as “him who dwelt in the burning bush” (NIV).
Just what really happened here, if anything, is a matter of much theological debate. Does God as the Holy Spirit speak to Moses? Or was it some other angel (messenger) of God?
Some take this story literally, others see it as myth and another group sees it as a combination of fact and fiction. From the standpoint of depth psychology, or, if you will, psychology and religion, the burning bush story has been taken as an illustration of the purification process, both on personal and social levels. That is, many suffer privately and collectively but the true in spirit soldier on, fulfilling their earthly destiny and, after death, attaining their heavenly home.
- When I Encountered His Holiness (taylorschilstra.wordpress.com)
- A Thorn Bush (jbailey8849.wordpress.com)
- A Grade 8 student asks: What is the ‘burning bush’ all about? (saintpatrickk.com)
- Exodus 3 (onethingonechapter.wordpress.com)
- Becoming Burning Bushes (illuminatedbyhope.wordpress.com)
- Seed Flinger, or Seed Holder? (gfjministry.wordpress.com)
- Mystery Behind the Scene (christlikearticles.wordpress.com)
- Jethro Celebrated Moses (leadershipaftergodsownheart.wordpress.com)
- burning yet not consumed (reckonedalive.wordpress.com)