Monthly Archives: August 2014

Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist

 

Chaplet of St. John the Baptist

John_baptist_angel_of_desert

Today, being the commemoration of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist, I thought it would be appropriate to share his chaplet. Little has been changed to this Catholic chaplet; however, as St. John is a particularly important figure to Gnostics – especially the Mandaeans – I thought this might be a good devotion for today.

The Chaplet of St. John the Baptist consists of 7 groups of 5 beads, with a larger bead separating each group. Hanging from this circle are 3 beads, and a St. John medal, usually depicting the Baptism of Christ in the Jordan.

1. On the medal, say:

℣. Incline unto my aid, O God;
℟. O Lord, make hast to help me.

℣. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
℟. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

2. On the first 3 beads after the medal, say:

I. “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.” (Isaiah 40:1)
II. “The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of the Lord.” (Isaiah 40:3)
III. “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great day of the Lord: and he shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers.” (Malachi 4:5-6)

3. On the central medal, pray the Benedictus (Luke 1:68-79):

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel: for he hath come to His people and set them free;
And hath raised up a mighty salvation for us: in the house of His servant David;
As He spake by the mouth of His holy Prophets: which have been since the world began;
That we should be saved from our enemies: and from the hand of all that hate us.
To perform the mercy promised to our forefathers: and to remember His holy Covenant;
To perform the oath which He swore to our forefather Abraham: that He would give us;
That we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies: might serve Him without fear;
In holiness and righteousness before Him: all the days of our life.
And thou, Child, shalt be called the Prophet of the Most High:
for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways;
To give knowledge of salvation unto His people: for the forgiveness of their sins,
Through the tender mercy of our God: whereby the day-spring from on high hath visited us;
To give light to them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death:
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

4. The First Mystery is announced (see below), followed by the Our Father:

Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

5. For each group of five beads, say:

I. “Repent ye, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 3:2)

II. “There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. I indeed have baptized you with water: but He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” (Mark 1:7-8)

III. “Behold, the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world!” (John 1:29)

IV. “He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. (John 3:29)

V. “He must increase; I must decrease.” (John 3:30)

6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 for each of the Mysteries.

7. Back on the central medal, say the closing prayer:

O Lord Christ, whose way was prepared by St. John the Baptist, grant that through his intercession, our hearts may be prepared for Thee. May he teach us to rejoice in Thy presence, and guide us to true repentance and humility, that we may become Thy true friends and disciples. Grant that we, like St. John, may be faithful witnesses to Thee and share Thy glory forever in the Fullness. Amen.

Mysteries of the Chaplet of St. John the Baptist

1. The Visitation: “And Elizabeth spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.” (Luke 1:42-44)

2. The Birth of John the Baptist: “Now Elisabeth’s full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son. And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her. (Luke 1:57-58)

3. The Preaching of John: “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” (John 1:6-9)

4. The Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan: “Then John gave this testimony: ‘I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me: The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’” (John 1:32-33)

5. St. John Sends the First Disciples to Jesus: “When the men were come unto him, they said, ‘John Baptist hath sent us unto Thee, saying, Art Thou He that should come, or look we for another?” (Luke 7:20)

6. The Temptation of St. John the Baptist: “Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, ‘What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. For this is he, of whom it is written: Behold, I send my messenger before Thy face, which shall prepare Thy way before Thee.’” (Matthew 11:7-10)

7. The Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist: “And Salome came in straightway with haste unto the king, and asked, saying, ‘I will that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of John the Baptist.’ And the king was exceeding sorry; yet for his oath’s sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her. And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought: and he went and beheaded him in the prison.” (Mark 6:25-26)

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The Faithful Heart of Sophia

Faithful Heart of Sophia

May the dove and serpent unite, and white lily with red rose we wed. Amen.

Last Friday, we celebrated the Assumption of Sophia, the return of Sophia to the Pleroma out of the chaos into which She had fallen, when all the aeons of Light came together to rescue Her. In the exoteric Church, this same feast day celebrates the Assumption or Dormition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, based on the belief that Holy Mary was bodily assumed into Heaven by God at the end of her earthly life.

On August 22, 1944, the octave day of the Assumption, Pope Pius XII instituted a feast day in honor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary – a popular devotion to the Blessed Virgin which in many ways is analogous to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. As Gnostics, this special octave day may be an opportunity to contemplate a similar mystery in relation to Sophia’s Assumption, focusing on what I like to call the Faithful Heart of Sophia.

Now if you’ve followed my sporadically updated blog here at Gnostic Devotions, you may have noticed the Faithful Heart of Sophia mentioned already, particularly in a prayer from the Chaplet for the Dead: “Faithful Heart of Sophia, be my salvation.” As the Faithful Heart is more of an idea than an official devotion (yet!), let’s consider the fall of Sophia into the outer chaos, and Her triumphant yet compassionate return to the Pleroma.

In the Book, Pistis Sophia, Jesus tells His apostles of the fall of Sophia, and His own journey through the spheres to rescue Her from the rulers of the chaos: called, in Gnostic scripture, the archons. Sophia, whose name means “Wisdom”, is the youngest of the aeons – emmanations of God, not created by Him, but rather aspects of Himself poured forth, the whole of which make up the Pleroma (Fullness). In the story Jesus tells, Sophia longs to know God, Her Source, and be united with Him; and She sees a reflection of His light below. Thinking it was the Light Himself, She rushes toward it, and in so doing She finds that She has plunged into the chaos, outside of the Pleroma. She is unable to return to Her home, and in Her sorrow at Her predicament, an imperfect and monstrous emanation is brought forth from Her, called in various scriptures: Ialdabaoth, Saklas, Samael, the demiurge or half-creator.

Ialdabaoth declares, “I am God, and there is no other god but me!” And he begins creating beings to serve him, the archons, and together they create and rule the physical universe and everything in it. When Sophia sees what Her error has resulted in, She cries out to the Light to save Her. In the Pistis Sophia (meaning, approximately, “Faithful Wisdom”), She utters a series of repentences, followed by odes of praise to the Light – and the Light hears Her, and takes pity on Her. As Fr. Sam+ mentioned in his homily on Sunday, She experienced more pain and sorrow in Her fall from the Pleroma than we can ever imagine or experience here on earth. Just try to imagine a divine being losing Her place in a realm of timeless perfection, and being trapped in matter by a monster who fancies himself to be God.

But She never loses faith! Even in the midst of Her despair, She cries out in Her first repentance, “O Light of lights, in whom I have had faith from the beginning, hearken now then, O Light, unto my repentance. Save me, O Light…” Through Her songs of sorrow and praise, the Light hears Her, and sends a Savior in whom the entire Fullness of God dwells: the Christos. But even as She is rescued, She takes pity on creatures whom the demiurge Ialdabaoth had made, left stranded in the darkness. So She separates Herself, so that a part of Her can remain in the world, to assist and comfort Her children still trapped in the world that resulted from Her mistake.

Last week we celebrated Sophia’s return to the Pleroma – mirroring our own eventual return. And in a few weeks we will, sadly, commemorate Her fall into the chaos, and by extension, our own fall into matter. But on tomorrow’s octave, in between Sophia’s Assumption and Descent, let’s particularly remember Her faith. Let’s keep our hearts faithful, as Hers is; remembering, of course, that “faith” is not a synonym for “belief”. Belief won’t save us, but trust and confidence is the foundation of the Path of Gnosis. As the Gospel of Philip says, “Faith is the earth, in which we take root.” Sophia’s story is our story, therefore may our hearts be ever enflamed with Pistis: faith in the Light, who is rescuing us out of the darkness of this world, and will restore us to our rightful home amongst the aeons.

Antiphon. My heart hath rejoiced in the Lord, and my voice praiseth my God, because I have joyed in His salvation.

℣. Hidden beneath the surface of all appearances, alleluia, alleluia.

℟. She liveth as the eternal Heart of the Living Sun, alleluia, alleluia.

Let us pray. O Father of the Light, in whom Pistis Sophia had faith from the beginning, singing praises unto Thee even from the depths of chaos: grant in Thy loving-kindness, that we who with devout minds recall Her Faithful Heart, may always live our lives with our hearts aflame by that same faith which She kept while in Her deepest sorrow. Through our Lord the Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

(From The Little Office of the Blessed Sophia)

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