He Has Become the Corner Stone

Crucem sanctam subiit,
qui infernum confregit,
accinctus est potentia,
surrexit die tertia. Alleluia.

Lapidem quem reprobaverunt
aedeficantes factus est
caput anguli, alleluia.

He bore the Holy Cross,
who broke the power of hell;
He was girded with power
He rose again the third day, alleluia

The stone that the architects rejected
became the cornerstone, alleluia.

I was blessed to be locked in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem last Friday night, the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows.  A small group of our pilgrims were able to spend many silent moments in the tomb itself.  It was awesome to realize that I was in the place were the victory was won, and for which so many suffered and died in order to be in that blessed place and to protect it.

Within the tomb is an icon of Our Lady holding a sacred vessel–the Holy Grail, perhaps?  It is a door that opens to the rock of the tomb itself, which is otherwise covered with marble and icons:

I am just about to celebrate the Sacred Paschal Vigil.  Easter Blessings to all!

Let us rejoice with the Queen of Heaven, for He is risen as He said.

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The Holy Grail on Standing Fast

Templar Secrets, Part 3:  The Holy Grail

Posted on AirMaria and found on this blog in the sidebar.

For the introduction, in case you missed it, you will also find it in the side bar, or follow this link.

Next Episode of Standing Fast

Templar Secrets, Part 2:  The Two Swords

Posted on AirMaria and found on this blog in the sidebar.

For the introduction, in case you missed it, you will also find it in the side bar, or follow this link.

Second Templar Secrets Video: Standing Fast

Part 1:  The Temple of the Order

Posted on AirMaria and found on this blog in the sidebar.

For the introduction, in case you missed it, you will also find it in the side bar, or follow this link.

Templar Secrets Video Series on Standing Fast

My introductory video is up on AirMaria as promised.  It also appears here on MaryVictrix in the side bar.  Look for the next episodes over the next few weeks.

Mystagogia

In my last post I promised more on the Holy Sepulcher and the Holy Grail and their relation to an Easter catechesis and the tradition of chivalry. There is much there to reflect on, much to be researched and assimilated, so it will take at bit more time.

Meanwhile, however, I thought I would point out that in the Office of Readings this week we have been reading from the the Jerusalem Catechesis, or otherwise known as the Catechetical Lectures of St. Cyril of Jerusalem (+386).  The Catechesis consists in twenty-three lectures, the first eighteen of which were delivered to the candidates for baptism during Lent and the last five to the newly baptized during Easter, and is an excellent example of the mystogogia. In fact, at the end of the prologue for Lectures St. Cyril makes sure his readers understand that his instructions are only for those whose Baptism is imminent, and is to be seen neither by the other catechumens nor heathens.

St. Cyril admonishes the candidates for Baptism to shun all “secret hypocrisy,” in order to be fit for the Lord’s true service.   He compares the penetration of our souls by the judgment of God to a military review of recruits by one who levies for war.  He bestows his seal only upon those in whom He discerns a good conscience, in view of which the devils tremble and the holy angels recognize.  St. Cyril says:  “You are receiving not a perishable but a spiritual shield. Henceforth you are planted in the invisible Paradise . . .  it is God’s to grant grace, but yours to receive and guard it. Despise not the grace because it is freely given, but receive and treasure it devoutly” (Lecture 1, 3-4).  This is even before Baptism, hence prior to the mystagogia, but the saint is already admonishing the new recruits to be prepared for war and especially to to protect the paradise of their own souls.

During the mystogogia proper, when St. Cyril discusses the doctrine of the Eucharist:

Consider therefore the Bread and the Wine not as bare elements, for they are, according to the Lord’s declaration, the Body and Blood of Christ; for even though sense suggests this to you, yet let faith establish you. Judge not the matter from the taste, but from faith be fully assured without misgiving, that the Body and Blood of Christ have been vouchsafed to you (Lecture 22, 6).

But he goes beyond the content of the doctrine and emphasizes to the newly baptized that the Eucharist has been prepared for those who have been anointed by the Lord, and thus they have been sealed against the afflictions of the evil spirits.  The Lord has set a “mystical and spiritual Table,” in opposition to table of corruption set against us by the enemy. Our hearts have been strengthened, he say,s and the “face of our souls” made to shine.

And your cup intoxicates me, as very strong. You see that cup here spoken of, which Jesus took in His hands, and gave thanks, and said, This is My blood, which is shed for many for the remission of sins (Lecture 22, 6-7, 9).

This is the Holy Grail that we seek.  At the beginning of the mystogogia proper, St. Cyril speaks of the relation between the catechesis prior to baptism and that that is about to take place:

And these things were done in the outer chamber. But if God will, when in the succeeding lectures on the Mysteries we have entered into the Holy of Holies , we shall there know the symbolic meaning of the things which are there performed. Now to God the Father, with the Son and the Holy Ghost, be glory, and power, and majesty, forever and ever. Amen (Lecture 19, 11).

We are not only searching, but we have already arrived.  We are in an in-between time, indeed.

The Easter octave is about to come to a close with the celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday.  At that Mass we will pray:

O Lord our God, may we be healed now and forever by these sacred rites which You instituted to protect us in our new life of grace.

We have entered into the Holy of Holies, and that sanctuary is the Heart of Christ, whose mercy and grace is poured out as blood and water from His side.  We are healed and protected in Him, and in the Heart of His Holy Mother.  The true knighthood of Christ is the protection of these mysteries, first of all within our own Hearts.  That ultimately is the meaning of the crusade for the Holy Sepulcher and the Quest for the Holy Grail.  More on this next time.

The Discipline of the Secret

In my post for Holy Thursday, I mentioned the mystogia, the Easter catechesis in the early Church that was given to the newly baptized in order to deepen their understanding of the faith, especially regarding those central mysteries celebrated in the liturgical events of the Paschal Triduum.  In this post, I am offering my own little Easter mystogia in relation to the values of Marian Chivalry.  At the center of this paschal enlightenment are the two principle Christian relics that became the focus of chivalrous ideals, the Holy Grail and the Holy Sepulcher.

The mystogia was particularly necessary because of a custom practiced from the earliest times of the Church called the disciplina arcani, “the discipline of the secret,” whereby the most profound mysteries of the faith were kept hidden from heathens and from even the catechumens preparing for baptism.  The special—but not only—object of this discipline was the Eucharistic Sacrifice and Sacrament.

Gatekeepers

Hence, one of the minor orders of the Church—in fact, the lowest—in preparation for diaconate and the priesthood was Ostiarius or “Porter.”  In the Roman rite, the Porter was the gatekeeper who locked and unlocked the church, and who made sure that no unbaptized person was present for the “Mass for the Faithful,” or what is referred to in the Novus Ordo as the Liturgy of the Eucharist.  Catechumens were permitted to be present for the “Mass of the Catechumens” (Liturgy of the Word), but then were escorted out of the Church by the Porter at the beginning of the offertory.  The catechumens’ first experience of “The Mystery of Faith,” celebrated at the altar, was immediately after their baptism, when they were escorted into the Church in their white garments.  The first time the newly baptized received the Eucharist, they had just moments before become aware of the full truth of the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist.

Reverence Inside and Out

St. Basil compared the discipline of the secret to the way in which Moses, by God’s command, reserved certain parts of the tabernacle by putting in place “sacred barriers.”  He wrote that “the awful dignity of the mysteries is best preserved by silence.”  And “Moses was wise enough to know that contempt stretches to the trite and to the obvious, while a keen interest is naturally associated with the unusual and the unfamiliar” (On the Holy Spirit, 27).

Imagine the joy of the newly baptized who were privileged to know the sacred mysteries and their exultation at being able to participate in so awesome a mystery while being introduced more fully by the post-baptismal catechesis into the truths of our faith.  Think also of how fearful the mysterious must have seemed, in terms of inspiring awe, reverence and gratitude.  What a tremendous grace was contained in the revelation of the mysteries and how beautifully was both the superabundance of God’s grace communicated while the dignity of the mysteries preserved and augmented.

As more and more it became necessary to defend the faith against heretics, apologetical tracts of the Fathers protected less and less of the secret, until the discipline was entirely abandoned.  One might also understand that in the face of Gnosticism and many other Christian heresies that secret keeping could lend itself to the privileging of a few to the detriment of the universality of the Church.   After all, the lure of secret keeping has been to form exclusive societies in which the initiated can pride themselves on being enlightened and being in control of the unenlightened.

Even so, we may regret, at least theoretically, the complete loss of the discipline of the secret, especially today when the introduction of the mundane and even the profane into the precincts of our sanctuaries have stripped the faithful of a sense of the sacred and mysterious.  The tragic consequence of this has been the systematic cultivation of irreverence.

Revealing What Is Hidden

But the discipline of the secret is built into the sacred mysteries we celebrate during Easter.  Our Lord celebrated the first Mass in the upper room into which he ensconced the apostles for the preservation of the mysteries of Holy Thursday.  Into that enclosed space they would return, as a huddled and fearful band, after the events of Good Friday, and into that enclosed and locked space Our Lord would reenter in order to reveal to them that which he did not reveal to all.  As St. Peter said of himself and his companions, the Lord manifested Himself not to all the people, but to witnesses preordained by God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him, after he arose again from the dead (Acts 10:41).

Our Lord also initially hid Himself from His inner circle, as He did to St. Mary Magdalen at the Holy Sepulcher, to the disciples on the road to Emmaus and to Peter and his companions at the Lake of Galilee.  Certainly this deprivation of their ability to recognize Him was symbolic of their own lack of faith and of the power of the Resurrection to break down that barrier against faith. They knew him in the breaking of bread (Lk 24:35).  But may we not also reflect that the revelation of what was hidden underscores the mysterious content of the faith and the mystical or dark way in which the activity of God touches our soul?

St. Bonaventure says that we must enter the tomb with Jesus—into another enclosed space—and there we must die and experience the suspension of our senses.  He is not necessarily referring to ecstasy, but what belongs more fundamentally to the mystical life, namely, a new way of thinking that is not dependent on what we see, but on what the Lord tells us.  Of course, first of all that means what the Church teaches, but it also must mean the manner in which we assimilate it through our own efforts to surrender in faith in the silence of prayer.

Making the Hidden Grow

The Easter proclamation is the so-called kerygma, that kernal of truth at the heart of evangelization, and it must be broadcast to the four corners of the globe.  That which I tell you in the dark, speak ye in the light: and that which you hear in the ear, preach ye upon the housetops (Mt 10:27).  That proclamation is this: “The night will be as clear as day:
 it will become my light, my joy” (Easter Praeconium).  But each person it touches by way of the hidden workings of God:  So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the earth, and should sleep, and rise, night and day, and the seed should spring, and grow up whilst he knoweth not (MK 4:26-27).

In inner revelation of the Holy Sepulcher and the Holy Grail, has nothing to do with esoteric knowledge entrusted to a secret society or any other species of Gnostic, though these heretics have gotten lost along the way of a real quest for a real treasure.  Indeed, all along, it was quite literally under their noses: For lo, the kingdom of God is within (Lk 17:21).

Today we sell our secrets for a bowl of porridge and repackage old and used rags and peddle them as lost and hidden treasures.  Just call the most meager and pathetic truism a secret, such as the power of positive thinking, and then absolutize it with false promises and you can make millions of dollars on the same old stale snake oil.  Or take a real secret, such as the secret of our personhood, that leads us to veil our sexual values, and call it prudery and the snake oil business is booming once again.

Modesty, reverence and the guarding of the heart, are perhaps the most precious jewels to be cultivated by the truly honorable and courteous heart.  It is for these values that true prowess is willing to suffer and die.  The enclosed spaces of the Tomb and Chalice, like the Womb and Heart of Our Lady, are the places where Thy Mystery of Faith is celebrated and where the revelation takes place.

I will have more to say about the Holy Sepulcher and Holy Grail in my next Easter post.