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)