Seeking Wisdom and finding comfort in the great Story.
Lesson from the Holy Prophet Mani:
From time to time Wisdom and Good deeds have always brought to mankind messengers of God; in age after age have messengers been sent by the infinite king of light; Seth-el, Zoroaster, the Buddha and the Christ. Zoroaster, the famous master and leader of the Mazdan religion wrote no books; his disciples who came after him remembered and wrote his teachings in the books they read today. When the Buddha came in his turn to India, and the others who have been sent to the East, the disciples have reported of him that he too preached his hope and taught much wisdom. In another age men were taught by Jesus who came to the West; for all the earlier religions were true so long as pure leaders were with them.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
We as Gnostic Christians and especially as Oriental Apostolic Christians of Damcar are mistakenly seen as being Heretical. Let me make this very clear, Heresy does not exist in our Church. Rather than being Heretics, we are living in the Sacraments. We are devoted to the message and person of Jesus Christ as best we understand it with our human minds. We are devoted to the Blessed and Holy Theotokos, the Saints and the teachers who have come to this world in the name of Wisdom to spread the love of God.
There is no secret that the Canon of our Church is expansive. We include books that exist outside of the established Orthodox Christian Canon of Scriptures. Of course, we understand that this “Orthodox canon” was not accurately organized to begin with yet do not find fault with the use and inclusion of the Holy Scriptures as presented in the “Old Testament” (The Tanakh) or in the “New Testament” the (Brit Chadashah.) In fact, if all you have are those scriptures and none other, you are already in a good place. We Value our Scriptures, we simply have more of them than typical of a Canonical Christian Apostolic Church.
In the past individuals have asked me, “Why do you so actively incorporate text from “outside of Christianity?”
I explain the formation of the Canon itself. The politics and inspiration that it took to collect documents from a plethora of small loosely connected Christian communities and compile all of those documents into a workable foundation of Scripture.
It was not easy and not done perfectly. There were Gospels left out, due to lack of awareness of the scripture itself or due to a political contingent in the council gatherings that wanted a certain theme or approach to take precedence. There are Epistles that I consider immensely valuable, Epistles of Barnabas, of Ignatius, Codices such as the Didache that confirm and support our Apostolic and Sacramental and even Esoteric approach to our Christianity.
The compilers left them out, not out of seeing them as being of no value; they have always been and will always been cherished and valued as profoundly important to our Eternal Church. Those whom had a hand in the compilation of scripture considered themes and consistency, seeking to simplify the Story and Teachings of Christ to be accessible to those who had never heard his name.
Yet, those other texts were never to be disregarded or thrown out. In fact, study of these scriptures is critical to fully understanding who we are. Seeing those texts as being somehow “superior” or “inferior” to the Canonical texts is shortsighted. Yet, this message is not about the particulars of Canon. I have only explained this much to continue with the greater message for this Sunday.
When continuing to answer the question that I have been posed with. I explain that we exist as a church that takes its cues from before any schism. While we do embrace and incorporate a strong Liturgical tradition from the East, we also have traditions that are strongly from the West. To break that down as doing “Eastern Christian things” or “Western Christian things” does not happen for us. We do teach and understand that some Saints lived and existed in the West, some in the East, but they are now part of the great unity of Saints that exist within the Divine Pleroma. The only ones squabbling about East and West in that respect are flawed Humans who simply want to build partition walls instead of taking part in the Christian tradition of destroying the lines and walls of partition. We as Servants of the Church of Damcar simply seek the wisdom of the teachings. Where we find Gnosis, we embrace it as part of us. This gives us freedom in our church, in that we do not place limitations, now we recognize and honor tradition, and we even have our own indigenous traditions that make us uniquely Damcaran, but we do not lose sight of the greater picture, the continuing story of God.
This brings us to the core of the Reading for this Message and for the theme of the message in its purity.
When the Prophet Mani spoke about teachers who came before, and in our case some who may have come after the time of Christ. He spoke about the current of truth that ran through all of them. The holy Prophet Zoroaster, the Holy Buddha, these great teachers were disciples of Gnosis. Gnosis appeared to them in a unique way and in turn, they shared that way to a unique group of people and from that sacred engagement, great traditions arose. However the essence of their teachings, that spiritual reality, existed also in the words of our Lord, in fact you can say that Jesus was a great clarifier as he lifted the veil of what was for some hard to understand and placed it in a pure context. One in which the people of the time would readily understand. His mission was the renewal of the world through the embrace of Gnosis, and through the adherence of the Creed of Love and compassion that manifested in its fullness by his Passion. The Prophet Zoroaster and the Buddha taught wisdom as wisdom revealed itself to them. Christ IS wisdom revealing itself to the earth.
So this is why the Prophet Mani was wise to understand, and which is why we teach that those that are Buddhists, Muslims, Zoroastrians, and any other adherent to a faith of Wisdom are not lost, they are not forsaken by god and will not face some fictitious “Hell fire.” Rather, these adherents are brothers and sisters in the cause of Wisdom and Compassion.
It is our charge to find Wisdom, Compassion and Forgiveness. Where we see this manifested, we are seeing Christ. Where one is infused with this Wisdom, the spirit of God lives within them. Punishment does not await the sincere adherent, Loving acceptance awaits them.
It awaits you as well, you just need to open your heart and trust in the sacred workings of Christ. How will those sacred workings manifest, and where? In a Sanga, in a Fire temple, in a Mosque, in a Pagan Circle, or In a Parish of the Church of Damcar? I am excited for you that you are part of this great journey with me, where we are swept away in compassion by the Divine Current.
Does this make me a Heretic? Did it make the Prophet Mani a Heretic? No, Heresy cannot live where the spirit of God moves. The Spirit of God moves in the words of Wisdom.
Which is why, in our Church, our cannon is so expansive, because we are servants of Christ, Lay folk, Deacons, Priests and Bishops all servants for Christ. It is in our trust in the will of the Logos that we find true and total freedom. So enjoy the beautiful variety of this world with love and relief in the spirit of Christ.
In service to the Logos,
Chorbishop Monsignor Meinrad, Vicar-Priory of the Rose Cross, Curator of Liturgical Rites, Oriental Apostolic Church of Damcar