Tag Archives: little office

Talk Gnosis Interview

Sophia

Last Wednesday, I had a great time speaking with with Bishops +Ken Canterbury and +Lainie Petersen of the Oriental Apostolic Church of Damcar, along with Fr. Tony Silvia+ of the Apostolic Johannite Church. If you don’t currently watch Talk Gnosis, I’d encourage you to subscribe to their YouTube channel — they do live YouTube episodes every Wednesday evening, followed up by their podcast Talk Gnosis After Dark. They touch on a wide variety of Gnostic topics from various different traditions, and I was honored to be able to speak with them about the Little Office and praying the hours, following their wonderful interview with my own bishop from the Ecclesia Gnostica, the Most Rev. +Stephan Hoeller.

My interview can be found here: Talk Gnosis After Dark

The Most Rev. +Stephan Hoeller’s interview is here: Talk Gnosis

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The Little Office is Now Available on Amazon

Little Office Print

I’m pleased to announce that The Little Office of the Blessed Sophia is now available on Amazon.com, and can be purchased here. Just in time for Christmas, this 150 page book of hours features:

  • a complete calendar
  • instructions and rubrics for praying alone or with a group
  • the Ordinary of the Little Office (the regular prayers to be said each day) consisting of Matins, Lauds, Diurnum, Vespers, and Compline
  • Lessons for both the Penitential Seasons (Advent & Lent), as well as Lessons to be used throughout the rest of the year
  • the Book of Odes, with the Odes of Solomon arranged according to a 3-day cycle
  • Commemorations for the feast days over 100 saints, as well as other high holy days
  • an Office of the Dead

Modeled after the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary but with Gnostics in mind, this book is designed to both honor the Most Holy Sophia, and to elevate our consciousness to the Divine Light through a daily cycle of prayer. It is my hope that this book will become an important part of your prayer life, enriching your devotional practice.

Here are a couple of sample pages, to give you an idea of what the book looks like. (I do apologize for the poor quality of the photos!)

The beginning of the Office of Vespers, prayed in the evening around sunset.

The beginning of the Office of Vespers, prayed in the evening around sunset.

A selection from the Commemorations, showing the prayer for Restoration Day, Cyprian of Antioch, Cosmas & Damian, Mary Undoer of Knots, and Archangel Michael

A selection from the Commemorations, showing the prayer for Restoration Day, Cyprian of Antioch, Cosmas & Damian, Mary Undoer of Knots, and Archangel Michael.

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Little Office of the Blessed Sophia

Little Office of the Blessed Sophia

If any of you are on Facebook, here’s the official Facebook page (because everything needs a Facebook page!) for The Little Office of the Blessed Sophia. Feel free to like it and share it, and check back often for updates. The Little Office should, God willing, be released this month. I also hope to make the page a place to share biographies of the saints commemorated in the Office, as well as various other Gnostic topics of interest.

https://www.facebook.com/LittleOfficeOfTheBlessedSophia

In imitation of the Divine Office and the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, this book of hours contains a daily cycle of prayer specifically for Gnostics, in honor of the Most Holy Sophia. Centered around the Odes of Solomon, rather than the Psalms of David, the five offices in this book also include various other prayers, canticles, hymns, and readings from scripture. Additionally, there are commemorations for over 100 feast days of saints, along with other major holy days. It’s my hope that this book will be something others can carry with them, and that it will aid them in their prayer lives.

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Little Office for Friendships

St. John the Apostle

In the name of the + Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

℣. O God, come to my assistance;
℟. O Lord, make haste 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.

Antiphon. A man that hath friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

Psalm 133

Oh, how good and pleasant it is, *
when brethren dwell together in unity!
It is like fine oil upon the head *
that runneth down upon the beard,
Upon the beard of Aaron, *
and runneth down upon the collar of his robe.
It is like the dew of Hermon *
that falleth upon the hills of Zion.
For there the LORD hath ordained the blessing: *
life for evermore.

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.

Antiphon. A man that hath friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

A reading from the Book of Sirach:

A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter: he that hath found one hath found a treasure. There is nothing so precious as a faithful friend, and no scales can measure his excellence. A faithful friend is an elixir of life; and those who fear the Lord will find him.

℣. But Thou, O Lord, shed Thy glory upon us.
℟. Thanks be to God.

℣. Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor.
℟. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow:
℣. And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him;
℟. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Let us pray. O God, Loving Father of those whose names Thou canst read in my heart, watch over them with every care. Make their way easy and their labors fruitful. Dry their tears if they weep; sanctify their joys; raise their courage if they weaken; restore their hope if they lose heart, their health if they be ill, truth if they err, and repentance if they fall. ℟. Amen.

Most Holy Sophia, pray for us.
Holy Mary, pray for us.
Our Lady, Untier of Knots, pray for us.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help, pray for us.
Holy Apostle John, pray for us.
John, beloved of the Lord, pray for us.
John, patron of friendship, pray for us.
Holy Francis Patrizzi, pray for us.
Holy Expeditus, pray for us.
Holy Sergius & Bacchus, pray for us.
Holy Polyeuct & Nearchos, pray for us.
Holy Perpetua & Felicity, pray for us.

℣. May the Lord grant us His peace;
℟. And life eternal in the Fullness. Amen.
℣. May Divine aid toward Gnosis remain with us always.
℟. Amen.

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The Divine Office, Little Offices, and Devotion

Book of Hours

As some of you may know (and most probably don’t), for the last several months I’ve been working on a Little Office of the Blessed Sophia, which I hope to have published and available by the start of Advent — God willing. Now if you come from a Catholic background, you’re probably familiar with the concept of a “little office”. If not, you may be wondering, “What the heck is a little office?” Well I’m glad you asked! 😉

The most popular little office is The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which saw a rise in popularity amongst Christian laity in the Middle Ages, and still remains popular to this day. It’s modeled after the Divine Office, but is much shorter and contains less variation. It started off as simply the common office of the Blessed Virgin Mary — that is, the regular set of psalms, readings, and prayers appointed for Marian feast days. It gradually began to be prayed on a daily basis, in addition to the Divine Office, in monasteries to honor holy Mary. At certain points in history was even considered obligatory for clergy, and also because a popular form of Marian devotion for lay people because it was less complicated than the Divine Office.

Allow me to break for a moment and explain the Divine Office, for those who not familiar. The Divine Office has been called the official “prayer of the Church”, with roots in ancient Jewish daily prayers, and early monastic practices. The ancient Jews would pray at certain times of day, as recorded in scripture. This was a practice that the apostles and other early Jewish Christians continued. When the first monastics started retreating to the desert to live a life of solitude and prayer, it is said that they would pray the entire psalter (the 150 Psalms of David) in one day. By the time St. Benedict wrote his monastic rule of life, he offered a schema for praying the psalter in a week. In the Divine Office, the psalms are divided up by day, and into 8 canonical hours, or times of prayer throughout the day: Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, Compline. Since Matins (the midnight office) and Lauds (the sunrise office) are often counted as one, 7 canonical hours are often spoken of. In addition to the psalter, which forms the most important part of the hours, there are also lessons from scripture and Church Fathers, prayers, hymns, and antiphons. Though each time of prayer is called an hour, this refers more to the time of day the office is said, and not the length of time it takes to pray an office. As time went one, praying the Divine Office became binding upon the clergy, in addition the monastic orders according to their rules and constitutions.

The divine office and canonical hours have taken on different forms in the East and West, and many monastic orders have their own particular rite — but no matter the place or traditions, the focus has always been the same: to sanctify the day by turning to God in prayer. The Divine Office has been the Church’s way to fulfill the teaching of St. Paul: “pray without ceasing.”

To return to The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, this form of devotion offered devout Christians a way of participating in the Church’s daily prayers without requiring a lot of effort to learn the breviary. Unlike the Divine Office, it doesn’t use the entire Book of Psalm, only a small selection which with regular use can be easily memorized. But this isn’t the only little office one can pray, it just happens to be the most popular. The Little Office of the Passion is attributed to St. Francis, who took various scriptures and organized them into unique psalms to be prayed throughout the day. The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception and The Little Office of the Guardian Angel are quite a bit shorter, and rather than utilizing the psalms, a short hymn is recited at each hour. I’ve even offered some little offices here on Gnostic Devotions, for both morning and evening prayers, and my own church has a few different vespers services for public use, as well as an Office of St. Michael for private devotion. Of course, another little office that is often forgotten is the Office of the Dead (the proper office for All Souls’ Day), which consists only of Vespers, Matins, and Lauds — and which inspired the Office we use in the Gnostic Confraternity of All Departed Souls.

Hallowing the hours of the day with periods of prayer is wonderful; but why do it? I could write an entire series of posts on the benefits of praying the psalms regularly, but I’ll save that for the future. We all know that taking small breaks from one’s daily obligations has tremendous benefits for us, mentally and physically. But as Gnostics, seekers of the Light, regular prayer turns us inward and upward toward the Divine, keeping us constantly conscious of the divine spark within, and stilling our minds from the stresses of our day-to-day lives. Through the discipline of regular prayer, we can free our minds to let the Gnosis flow, so to speak. And it is a discipline, it takes practice and effort to form a daily practice and keep oneself accountable enough to stick to it — but that effort also plays an important part in experiencing divine Gnosis. By striving to maintain our practice, even if we don’t necessarily feel like it that day, we exert our will over our bodies so that we can “win the victory over our lower selves!”

I’m a firm believer in the necessity of having a devotional practice, especially if you’re Gnostic. As Gnostics we are esotericists, and let’s face it: many Gnostics are also practicing magicians. Ritual magic is a powerful way of elevating one’s consciousness to higher levels, and allowing us to experience and unite with our Holy Twin Angel. But often we see magicians driven mad in their practices because they lack a devotional component. They can intone magic words and divine names, draw their circles and pentagrams, experience visions… But without a grounding devotional practice, they can risk not being prepared for their experiences, which can quite literally drive them mad.

Devotional practice keeps us grounded. It is the simple act of worshiping the Divine, without necessarily invoking, or asking for anything — but just communing. Remember that at the core of our being, we are divine. God dwells in us, and us in God. A good devotional practice keeps us mindful of that.

Devotions do not have to be set rituals, although a good ritual can be helpful in getting into a regular practice. Whether using one of the offices I’ve linked to in this post, or simply reciting the Our Father, the Jesus Prayer, Kyrie Eleison: establishing a regular practice to stick to is what is important. The practice can be changed and modified, additions can be made; and when one is comfortable, one can improvise. But the important thing is to do it with a humble and open heart, mind, and spirit. But whatever you do, as the saying goes: Just do it!

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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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Gnostic Confraternity for All Departed Souls

Angel of DeathOn the Feast of Sts. Polyeuct & Nearchus (January 9, 2014), a new confraternity was established: the Gnostic Confraternity for All Departed Souls is established. Its intent is to offer prayers for the dead, and for fellow members of the Confraternity. If you would be interested in joining, please read through the following requirements and practices. You may e-mail me at the address given below, or feel free to send a message to the Gnostic Devotions Facebook page. Please include in your e-mail: Your name, preferred e-mail address, and intent to enroll and meet the membership obligations. Upon receipt of your request, you will be entered into the Confraternity registry, and will receive a printable PDF copy of the Confraternity manual, which contains the information below in a much nicer format.

Introduction

God is eternal, and because our true nature is divine, so are we. As the Divine is not limited to space and time, but permeates it while existing beyond it, prayer likewise has no such limit. Prayer is, after all, communication with the Divine.

We pray for the dead, often even saints, because prayer is not constrained by linear time or physical location. When we pray, we have no way of knowing how God will choose to apply our prayers, but we can be assured that our prayers for the dead will be applied when and where they are needed most.

A Requiem Mass said today for the Holy Cathars may, through the wisdom and love of God, be providing strength, encouragement, and comfort to a Cathar Parfait as he or she descends Montségur, walking to martyrdom. A prayer said today may provide the clarity of mind (and the nerve) St. Francis of Assisi needed to renounce his family’s lavish lifestyle and take a vow of poverty as a monastic, living in service to God and his fellow man. A prayer may be assisting someone who lived centuries ago in whatever state of existence they are currently in. We may never know the effects of our prayers, but in the Eternal Now, we know that they are effectual.

It is entirely possible that we ourselves are presently benefiting from prayers said for us 100 years from now! This is the timeless nature of prayer. To the Divine, with whom we share one nature at the very core of our being, it is always Now. There is no past, present or future in the earthly sense; but one Eternal Present – and though it is difficult to express such timeless realities due to the limited nature of language, this great mystery of Eternity is the means by which the Communion of Saints assists one another through prayers and intercessions.

It is with this in mind that the Gnostic Confraternity for All Departed Souls has been established, so that we may, through our prayers, assist those who have gone before us. Not only do members of the Confraternity assist departed souls, but they also assist one another on this æonial battlefield we call life on earth.

Members pledge to take up humble but effective daily, weekly, monthly and yearly practices, for the benefit of the departed, and their brothers and sisters of the Confraternity. All this to greater glory of God, and to the strengthening of the Communion of Saints: the Church Triumphant, Suffering, and Militant.

If you are interested in joining this holy endeavor, read through the following pages to learn more about the benefits and obligations of the Confraternity. You may also follow the spiritual practices given herein entirely on your own; but if you are so inclined, you may enroll in the Confraternity by contacting Br. Pier-Giorgio, OSE: brpier (at) gmail (dot) com.

It is assumed that members have a familiarity with Gnosticism, particularly in its modern ecclesial expressions; but for a convenient summary, including information on the Communion of Saints and the power of prayer, you are encouraged to read through The Gnostic Catechism* by +Stephan Hoeller.

*This Confraternity is not associated with the Ecclesia Gnostica in any official capacity.

Membership Requirements & Benefits

1. Membership in the Gnostic Confraternity for All Departed Souls is open to anyone who identifies as Gnostic, regardless of tradition. It is to be noted that this is a Christian Gnostic confraternity, and as such prayers and devotions will be of a Christian nature.

2. Official enrollment is handled by the Registrar of the Confraternity. A simple e-mail declaring one’s desire for membership is all that is required, and membership will be recorded in the official registry. Anyone who desires to enroll should contact the registrar with their full name, e-mail address, and statement of intention to enroll and meet the membership obligations: brpier (at) gmail (dot)com.

3. Once enrolled, the new member should begin practicing the obligations of the Confraternity, which are detailed in this book. Members can expect a monthly Eucharist to be offered for all their intentions (particularly for their deceased friends and relatives) by ordained Gnostic clergy.

4. Upon the death of a member of the Confraternity, a Gnostic Requiem Mass will be offered for their repose in the Fullness, provided that the Confraternity is notified of their passing via the Registrar.

5. One does not need to officially enroll in the Confraternity in order to participate in its charism, however enrollment is encouraged if one would like to receive the benefits of Masses and prayers offered for Confraternity members.

6. Membership in the Confraternity may be canceled at any time, simply by contacting the Registrar.

Membership Obligations

Members of the Gnostic Confraternity for All Departed Souls promise to meet the following obligations:

1. Each night before retiring, pray the Confraternity Prayer for all members and their departed loved ones, followed by a Pater Noster, Ave Sophia, and Requiem Æternam.

2. Once a week, preferably on a Monday, pray the Gnostic Rosary for the Dead. This is offered for all departed souls who have incarnated, in the knowledge that by our prayers, assistance will be offered where it is needed, throughout all time.

3. Pray the Office for Departed Souls once a month, preferably beginning the first Sunday evening at Vespers, and continuing through Monday morning with Matins and Lauds. Any member may, at their own discretion, pray another office for the dead from their own church’s liturgy, if such an office exists.

4. Every year on All Souls’ Day (November 2nd), or on its Eve, attend Mass and offer the celebration of the Holy Eucharist for all the souls of the departed, and specifically for the departed loved ones of Confraternity members. As the Mass will already be said in honor of all souls by default, on should privately declare one’s intentions through prayer before the Mass begins. Any valid Eucharist offered by a priest within the Apostolic Succession fulfills this obligation, however a Gnostic Eucharist is to be preferred by Confraternity members, if possible.

5. Upon the death of a member of the Confraternity, all members will pray the Office for Departed Souls for that member’s repose. This obligation should be fulfilled within 30 days of the time of death; or within 7 days, if the Confraternity was not notified before month’s mind.

Nightly Prayers Before Retiring

Confraternity Prayer

Remember them, O Lord, in Thy kingdom: the faithful souls whom we knew but see no longer. Grant them Thy peace; let the light above the æons shine upon them. Grant them we pray Thee, a place of refreshment, a blessed tranquility, and the splendor of Thy Gnosis.

O Eternal, who abidest ever outside the limitations of time, we beseech Thee to shed forth upon Thy faithful children on earth, in heaven, and in the netherworld, the bright beams of Thy light and supernal comfort. Bless the members of our spiritual Confraternity, our departed loved ones, and especially ________.
Grant that we who continually give thanks for their blessed memory may at length enter with them into Thine ineffable splendor, and attain to union with Thee, who wert, and art, and art to come. Amen.

Pater Noster

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.

Ave Sophia

Hail Sophia, filled with light, the Christ is with Thee. Blessed art Thou amongst the æons, and blessed is the liberator of Thy light, Jesus. Holy Sophia, Mother of all gods, pray to the Light for us Thy children, now and in the hour of our death. Amen.

Requiem Æternam

Repose in the eternal Fullness grant unto them, O Lord, and let the Light above the æons shine upon them. Amen.

The Gnostic Rosary for the Dead

See this link.

The Office for Departed Souls

This Office is not included on this page, but is contained in the Manual. It consists only of Vespers (Evening Prayer), Matins (Midnight/Early Morning Prayer), and Lauds (Morning Prayer). It is based on the Gradual Psalms, which are traditionally recited for the dead, and also includes readings from scripture along with other prayers.

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