I read this post and other Advent posts from Silkannthreades in December 2018. They were inspiring. I remembered childhood. We waited through Advent and then attended Midnight Mass. The choir always sang Silent Night.
In our eyes, a child was born to Mary and Joseph, but unlike other children, He was God the Son. After Mass, we put a porcelain figure of Jesus in his crib. For us, He was born at midnight, as in Minuit, chrétiens (O Holy Night).
I may have used the word anamnesis in an earlier post. Human beings have created mythologies in an attempt to make sense of their origin andtheir human condition. We are mere mortals. (See Christian Mythology, Wiki2.org.)
“It is the idea that humans possess innate knowledge (perhaps acquired from birth) and that learning consists of rediscovering that knowledge within us.”
Mythologies: the Fall
There are links between mythologies, which suggests a cross-cultural knowledge “within us.” The flood is one. However, the more frequent link is the theory of a fall from a more perfect state to a less perfect state, a fall we remember. John Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667) is Christian Mythology. So is Alphonse de Lamartine‘s L’Homme:
Borné dans sa nature, infini dans ses vœux, L’homme est un dieu tombé qui se souvient des cieux[.]
[Limited in his nature, infinite in his wishes, Man is a fallen god who remembers heaven.]
In Greek mythology, as used by Jean Racine in Phèdre (Phædra), first performed in 1677, Phèdre is descended from Helios, god of the Sun, but her mother is Pasiphaë, who gave birth to the Minotaur, the son of a bull. Phasiphaë has sinned. Her husband, Minos, king of Crete, keeps the Minotaur in the Cretan Labyrinth, built by Dædalus. Ariadne falls in love with Theseus and gives him a thread and a sword. He kills the Minotaur and leaves the labyrinth using the thread. Theseus does not marry Ariadne, he marries Phèdre, Ariadne’s sister and Pasiphaë’s daughter. But Phèdre, Pasiphaë’s daughter, falls in love with Hippolytus, Theseus’ son by Antiope, an Amazon, and she cannot control her feelings. Phèdre reflects the influence Jansenism exerted on Jean Racine. (See Phèdre, Wiki2.org.)
Jean Racine’s tragedy is based on Greek mythology, but Racine had been exposed to Jansenism. According to Jansenists, human beings were predestined to be saved or suffer the torments of hell. Augustine of Hippo‘s harsh view of the consequences of the Original Sin led to a heresy, Jansenism, which throws light on Phèdre’s powerlessness, but does not make Saint Augustine a lesser theologian and father of the Christian Church. He is the author of the The City of God, On Christian Doctrine and, especially, his Confessions. He had been a sinner, but converted at the age of 31.
The Original Sin
the Western Church
the Eastern Church
In both the Eastern and Western Churches, and in Judaism, Adam and Eve sinned by eating the forbidden fruit, which is the Original Sin. It led to their removal from the Garden of Eden, or Paradise. They became mere mortals, which is called the human condition. In the Western Church, humans beings are born guilty of the Original Sin.
However, the Eastern Church proposes more lenient consequences to Adam and Eve’s sin. Adam and Eve sinned, which is the first or original sin, but it does not mean that individual human beings are born guilty of the original sin and must be rushed to the baptismal font.
“His works were not translated into Greek until the 14th century; as such, he had little or no influence on mainstream Orthodox thought until 17th century Ukraine and 18th century Russia, primarily through the influence of western clergy and the establishment of theological schools which relied on Latin models with respect to curricula, text books, etc.”
One may argue that Greek-speaking Christians who convened at the First Council of Nicaea, in 325 CE, and convened again at the Council of Constantinople (the former Byzantium), in 381 CE, both ecumenical, may have known Latin, but Saint Augustine lived between 354 and 430 CE.
The Eastern Church rejected the Immaculate Conception. It would not be a dogma until 1854, but it was a rationalization.
“These doctrinal issues center around the Orthodox perception that the Catholic theologians lack the actual experience of God called theoria and thereby fail to understand the importance of the heart as a noetic or intuitive faculty.”
(See East-West Schism, Theological Reconciliation (Wiki2.org.)
Similarly, The Five (composers) attempted to compose distinct Russian music, an Eastern music. They composed superb music, but what they expressed was a “knowledge within them.” So their endeavour was an anamnesis. They were using the “intuitive faculty.”
This has been seen as good will on the part of both the Eastern and Western Churches. After a millenium, going further may not be a realistic goal.
“Catholics [Christians] accept as valid the Eastern Orthodox intuitive [“knowledge within us”] and mystical understanding of God and consider it complementary to the rational Western reflection.”
(See East-West Schism, cannot locate, Wiki 2.org.)
Although the Western Church’s repertoire of liturgical music contains masterpieces of spirituality, the Eastern Church is the richer source of music reflecting an “intuitive and mystical understanding of God,” “innate knowledge.”
In Eastern or Orthodox Churches, the Western Church’s Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus of Nazareth, is called the Theotokos, a Greek word meaning literally the “Birth-Giver of God.” Moreover, in Orthodox Churches, also called the Byzantine Rite, the Theotokos has always been portrayed in the same way. In the Western Church, depictions of Mary differ from artist to artist and from art movement to art movement. The Western Church has paintings and statues of the Virgin Mary, but the Theotokos is an icon.
In 1054, the Eastern Church rejected the Immaculate Conception. According to Augustine of Hippo (13 November 354 – 28 August 430 CE), a revered father of the Church, humans were born guilty of the Original Sin. They were tainted until Baptism.
[t]he formal active essence of original sin was not removed from her soul, as it is removed from others by baptism; it was excluded, it never was in her [Mary’s] soul. Simultaneously with the exclusion of sin.
We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.
But the debate is over. “In 1965, Pope Paul VI and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Athenagoras I nullified the anathemas of 1054 although this nullification of measures taken against a few individuals was essentially a goodwill gesture and did not constitute any sort of reunion.” (See East-West Schism, Wiki2.org.)
It may be that this nullifaction was a “goodwill gesture,” but there were genuine benefits to this goodwill gesture. Basically, East or West, a Christian is a Christian. The Theotokos of Vladimir is in the Tretyakov Gallery, in a functioning church. It cannot go out of style.
I read a sentence, the source of which is Britannica, but cannot find again. However, it read that “[t]he Byzantine heritage survived … mainly because the Orthodox church showed an astonishing internal strength and a remarkable administrative flexibility.” The eastern church has Synods, each of which is autonomous, rather than one Holy See. (See Autocephaly, Wiki2.org.)
However, what led me to investigate the Immaculate Conception and, in the process, mention the Assumption, is the extraordinary spirituality of Russia’s liturgical music. It shows “astonishing internal strength.”
I apologize for not posting for a long time. I was asked to prepare a “protection mandate” and a Will. I am told that it is ordinary business. However, if at all possible, I will take care of my cat until nature takes him away. He will be eleven in April. I will also take care of myself.
However, I’ve not been idle. I have been comparing the Western Church, Catholicism’s Virgin Mary in particular, and the Eastern Church’s Theotokos, the Birth-Giver of God.
This subject is a little more complicated than one would suspect. The two Churches are both united and different.
I will publish my post as soon as my cat lets me use the computer’s keyboard.
Phillips was very interested in Japanese prints. The work shown above is a woodcut.
Many new Canadians first settled in Winnipeg. My husband’s grandmother, the wife of a British aristocrat, was sent to Winnipeg. Her husband claimed their son was conceived by a “lover.” I suspect he wanted a younger wife. Fortunately, her son received a good education and always looked after his disconsolate mother.
You may remember that Winnipeg had been the Earl of Selkirk‘s Red River Colony. After Rupert’s Land was purchased by a fledging confederation (c. 1867). Louis Riel negotiated Manitoba’s entry into Confederation. He was hanged in 1885 for the execution of Orangeman Thomas Scott. Orangemen prevented French-speaking and Catholic Canadians from settling in the land the legendary voyageurs had opened up. They were educated in English-language schools. The matter was not solved until the Official Languages Act of 1969, and not altogether.
Moreover, the newly confederated Canada sent Amerindians to reservations. Many Canadians have Amerindian ancestry, prairie Métis, primarily, but also the people of Quebec and other provinces. Many settlers to New France married Amerindian women because France was not sending women to its colony.
The Great Plains
I lived in Regina in the late 1970s, but my work was not related to my professional qualifications. I was offered a position as translator in Winnipeg, but decided to accept a teaching position at St. Francis Xavier University, in Nova Scotia. I loved Nova Scotia, but regret my decision to teach at StFX. Everything went wrong. The life of a translator would have suited me and I loved the prairies. One could see forever.
So here I am. Probably a descendant of an Amerindian who lived in the 1600s and the former wife of a British aristocrat. My past has been leaping at me from behind. Do you think this is a temporary disorder, or am I about to write a book?