List of articles
by Rev. Michaël Merle
The fourth son of Jacob (Israel) is Judah, whose name means the acknowledged leader. Judah’s name (Yehuda יהודה) includes the four letters (that make up the Tetragrammaton, YHWH יהוה) that are in the name of the mighty Divine being who leads the nation tribe (family and their descendants) of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – the people of Israel. Although the fourth born son, Judah is the leader whose descendants would become the kings of Israel, beginning with King David. The way or path of Judah, is the path of leadership. This was recognised from the time of Judah and his brothers as a path of selflessness – which is a most vital ingredient in true leadership. We know from the genealogies in both Matthew and Luke that the boy Jesus is a descendant of the tribe of Judah. The symbol most commonly associated with Judah is the Lion. This references Judah as a leader and father to kings, as the lion is considered a king among the animals and represents strength and majesty. The association was made by Jacob in recognising these qualities in his fourth son. This symbolic association also links Judah to the spiritual powers and forces in the constellation of Leo. The ancient world appreciated the great power of this constellation. The way of Judah is for the Lion to lie down with the Lamb – the power of Leo to align with the power of Aries. In Jesus Christ the descendant of Judah lays down his life in the sacrificial act that John the Baptist recognises when proclaiming him as The Lamb of God.
reported by John-Peter Gernaat
The path of Right Living – the fifth path – can be viewed as being about the right way to constitute oneself. In reading the parable of the master and servants, one gains a very different perspective when one realises that these are not different people, but rather the various parts that constitute a human being. The master is the I-constitution. The servants are the parts that make up our soul. The parable is about the astral body being subservient to the I-constitution. Without the proper integration of the self we will feel ourselves to be torn apart, for example when we crave for something that we know in our conscience we should avoid and yet give in to the craving. The power of the incarnating I-constitution will result in people who are closely related coming to an inner moral position and no longer being able to agree with their siblings or parents. The incarnating I-constitution, which is the gift of Christ, will divide people until all of humanity can operate from the position of the Christ-in-me.
The next path is the path of Right Effort. This is most clearly explained in the parable of the Lost Son (the Prodigal Son). The son “comes to himself”. This is what each of us is expected to achieve in an earthly incarnation. There are many themes that can be read into this parable. The son asks for his portion of the substance that belongs to him. We hear in our Trinity Epistle that our substance is the Father God’s substance. The human being is gifted the substance of the Father God and we travel a far distance into another country of materialism. When the son returns to the father, the correct translation is that the father places the priestly stole upon his son. The “coming to himself” has changed his whole being. There is also the story of the twinning of Adam. There is an apocryphal story that when Adam was sent from the garden, his twin remained in the spiritual world and did not undergo earthly incarnations. This is the older son who expresses jealousy when the Father recognises to wonder of the return of the younger son. The preceding parables of the 1 lost sheep and the 1 lost coin presents the picture that there is no completion – 10 represents completion, as does 10 times 10 – until the one that is lost has been found. The human being is only complete when the part that undergoes earthly incarnations is again united with the part that remains in the spiritual world. Right effort is an inner process of coming to stand in one’s own understanding of what is right without requiring an external measure, such as the law.
a talk given on 12 March 2023 by Rev. Michaël Merle
Passion originally meant suffering, although now it is also associated with intense outbursts of strong emotion, ardent desire, and the arousal of great enthusiasm. The term was used for centuries to refer to the week of suffering prior to the glory of Easter Resurrection. What we now call Holy Week was then known, and may still be considered as, Passion Week.
The question may arise as to why we do not celebrate Lent, but rather focus on Passiontide? What is the difference? Why do we have four weeks of Passiontide and not simply one week (Holy Week) within the Lenten season? What is new in our approach that seems to extend this week-long intense time into a longer (four week) tide? In the traditional liturgical year of some Christian denominations, Passion Sunday is the fifth Sunday of Lent, marking the beginning of a two-week period called Passiontide (the week before Holy Week and Holy Week). In 1969, the Roman Catholic Church removed this two-week Passiontide from the liturgical year, but the day remains observed on the fifth Sunday of Lent in some Christian denominations such as the Anglican Communion and the Lutheran Church. This adds another dimension to our questions: If Passiontide was traditionally a two-week period within Lent, and continues to be so for some, then how did it become a four-week season in the renewed liturgical year within the Christian Community?
Lent (Latin: Quadragesima, 'Fortieth', English: Lent, shortened form of the Old English word lencten, meaning ‘spring season’) is a solemn religious observance in the Christian liturgical calendar of traditional denominations that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends approximately six weeks later, the night before Easter Sunday, or in other traditions on Maundy Thursday evening with the start of the three days: Easter Tridium. The purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer for Easter. The traditional 40 days of Lent are marked by fasting, both from foods and festivities, and by other acts of penance. The three traditional practices to be taken up with renewed vigour during Lent are prayer (justice towards God), fasting (justice towards self), and almsgiving (justice towards neighbours); these are known as the three pillars of Lent. Self-reflection, simplicity and sincerity (honesty) are emphasised during the Lenten season. In a renewed movement of Christianity, would such emphasis: the justice towards God, self and neighbour (in appropriate form) and a simple and sincere self-reflection not be a year-long reality? Lent is a response to the frivolity and excessiveness of an un-reflected life. The celebrations of Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, marked by using up the butter and sugar in the house in the making of pancakes and the carnival (literally “putting away meat”) and Mardi Gras (literally “Fat Tuesday”) festivities speak to an old licentious living. As such Lent was a stark reminder, as it echoed the forty day fast in the desert when Christ entered the human experience, that we have to let go of the old ways of unrestrained expression and enter into a new way of self-management. May it be that now weshould know this to be the case at all times? Emil Bock well explains the significance of Passiontide (which in its four-week structure reminds us of the preparation that Advent is for Christmas):
Our discipline of preparation is now focused in Passiontide in the sacramental words. The human ‘I’ which in Easter resurrected joy learns to stand upright and ready to receive the Spirit at Whitsun, now is spoken of as prostrate and lamenting. We prepare in a modern way for Easter in the four weeks of Passiontide which also takes us through an ever-deepening sense of our full preparation: physical, etheric, astral and ego. As Emil Bock describes:
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