Saturday, March 17, 2007
HASIDIM AND LURIANIC KABBALAH
The Jewish Encyclopedia entry for Hasidim tells us:
Ḥasidism is a religious movement which arose among the Polish Jews in the eighteenth century, and which won over nearly half of the Jewish masses. In its literal meaning the word "Ḥasidism" is identical with "pietism" ("Ḥasid" = "the pious"), and the Ḥasidic teachings resemble the synonymous Protestant teachings in so far as they both assign the first place in religion not to religious dogma and ritual, but to the sentiment and the emotion of faith.
In other words Pentecostalism and Hasidim have Pietism in common and are basically antinomian. Pietism is associated with Lutheranism and with Jacob Boehme, a popular occultist commonly cited today in Theosophical circles. Arising as it did in Protestantism, it would be classified as a Roman Catholic heresy.
Hasidism was not accepted by all of the Jews as a legitimate development in the faith. The Jewish Encyclopedia tells us:
There has been apparent from time immemorial a struggle for supremacy between two principles in Judaism: the formalism of dogmatic ritual and the direct religious sentiment. The discipline of the Law was in continual conflict with mystical meditation, which gave considerable latitude to individual inclinations in the domain of religion. Such was the nature of the struggle between Pharisaism and Essenism in ancient times, between Talmudism and the Cabala in the Middle Ages, and between rabbinism and the mystic-Messianic movements from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century.
When it arises, inevitably there is a conflict between those adhering to the mystical and those who adhere to Church doctrine. The same is true within Judaism:
In Poland, where since the sixteenth century the great bulk of the Jewry had firmly established itself, the struggle between rabbinism and mysticism became particularly acute after the Messianic movement called into being by Shabbethai Ẓebi.
Today in Protestantism we see that Toronto Blessing has gone over the edge into bizarre behavior not unlike what has happened down through the centuries when mysticism rejected doctrine.
Within Judaism the same tendency to place emotion above reason prevailed in Hasidism:
In contradistinction to other sectarian teaching, Ḥasidism aimed not at dogmatic or ritual reform, but at a deeper psychological one. Its aim was to change not the belief, but the believer. By means of psychological suggestion it created a new type of religious man, a type that placed emotion above reason and rites, and religious exaltation above knowledge.
As with Christian mysticism, Hasidism also produced phenomena:
The founder of Ḥasidism was a man of the obscure Podolian Jewry, Israel b. Eliezer Ba'al Shem-Ṭob (BeShT). His personal fame as a healer spread not only among the Jews, but also among the non-Jewish peasants and the Polish nobles. He often cured the Jews by fervent prayer, profound ecstasies, and gesticulations. He also at times successfully prognosticated the future, and revealed secrets. Soon acquiring among the masses the reputation of a miracle-worker, he came to be known as "the kind Ba'al Shem" ("Ba'al Shem-Ṭob").
It led to religious pantheism in the Jewish community according to the Encyclopedia:
The teachings of Hasidism, as laid down in the sayings of Besht and his first disciples, are founded on two theoretical conceptions: (1) religious pantheism, or the omnipresence of God, and (2) the idea of communion between God and man.
Focus was not on liturgy, but rather on ecstasy, opening the door to questionable practices:
For the attainment of ecstasy recourse may be had to mechanical means, to violent bodily motions, to shouting and singing. According to Besht, the essence of religion is in sentiment and not in reason.
It also led to a rejection of negativity:
It is necessary to live and to serve God in a cheerful and happy frame of mind: sadness and sorrow darken the soul and interfere with communion; hence the injuriousness of asceticism.
With that attitude, the seeds of destruction have been sowed, since the concept of sin is negative.
The phenomena made of the Zaddik, the holy man, a sort of ruling potentate that some took advantage of:
The Ḥasidim were, however, particularly noted for the exalted worship of their "holy" ẓaddiḳim. The logical result of Ḥasidism, Ẓaddiḳism in many places actually prepared the soil for it. The appearance of some miracle-working ẓaddiḳ very often led to the general conversion of the local inhabitants to Ḥasidism. Crowds of credulous men and women gathered around the ẓaddiḳ with requests for the healing of bodily ills, for blessings, for prognostications, or for advice in worldly matters. When the ẓaddiḳ succeeded in affording relief in one of the many cases, or gave fortunate advice, his fame as a miracle-worker was established, and the population of the district remained faithful to the cause of Ḥasidism. ...
The profitable vocation of zaddik was made hereditary. There was a multiplication of zaddik dynasties contesting for supremacy. The "cult of the righteous" as defined by Besht degenerated into a system of exploitation of the credulous. Baruch, the grandson of Besht, deriving an immense income from his adherents, led the life of a Polish lord. He had his own court...
Hasidism split the Jewish community. Some followed the Rabbi, others followed the Zaddik, until it almost appeared that two religions existed side by side in Judaism.
...the Hasidic dogma of the necessity of maintaining a cheerful disposition, and the peculiar manner of awakening religious exaltation at the meetings of the sectarians--as, for instance, by the excessive use of spirituous liquors--inspired the ascetic rabbis with the belief that the new teachings induced moral laxity or coarse epicureanism.
The Rabbis saw the Zaddik as a competitor. The disagreements caused a decline in Hasidism, but
Nevertheless Hasidism is so deeply grounded in Russo-Polish Judaism that it has proved impossible to uproot it.
Today Chabad is considered the intellectual movement in Hasidism according to My Jewish Learning.
Chabad theology involves a radical interpretation of the Kabbalistic ideas of the famed sixteenth-century Safed mystic Isaac Luria.
The Lurianic cosmology which requires that God withdraw himself to permit a place for creation prevails in Chabad, and is contrary to Roman Catholic theology. According to the website "The Chabad view is basically one of acosmism ("there is no universe") or pantheism ("all is in God"). It is not difficult to see how monism, the philosophical belief of the Theosophists, can develop from the "all is in God" concept.
I've gotten the results of the various scans now. The cancer is localized and has not spread to the lymph nodes above the breast, but oddly enough the Pet scan indicated the lymph nodes on the opposite side were affected even though that breast is not. My oncologist doesn't know what to make of it. But in any case, the results from all the tests are encouraging.
The chemo schedule is set up. A week after the port is placed--which will happen next week--chemo will begin. The most bothersome side effects anticipated are hair loss and being tired. They seem to think the nausea can be controlled. I have the wig ordered.
Ironically today I feel fine, but expect not to feel as good in the near future, and that promises to last for 8 to 12 months at least. So I'm going to devote a few days to dedicated play before embarking on this unwelcome journey, and probably will not be posting during playtime.
While discussing treatment with my doctor, she happened to mention that one of her patients with the same condition I have and who is in her 70s has decided not to treat it. I said I could well understand that, and my doctor said she could too. Considering the situation with the Spanish woman who had to leave a Catholic hospital in order to be disconnected from her respirator, I wonder what the Church would say is the moral implication of deciding to reject treatment? The two are certainly connected in my mind.
In the process of getting ready to treat this cancer, we have been working with an attorney to change the way our finances are set up, to write updated wills, powers of attorney, etc. Naturally the Living Will is part of this package. The language of the Living Will has changed since the last time we did them. Some of it was objectionable in the first draft and will have to be changed. The entire concept of writing that document is not to end up in the situation that the Spanish woman endured. Yet if it is wrong to disconnect, isn't it also wrong to refuse to connect in the first place? How can one be immoral while the other is not?
But at the same time the Church allows the refusal of burdensome treatment, and leaves it up to the patient to determine what is burdensome. In the case of the woman in her 70s, cancer treatment is burdensome for her and she has refused it. And if truth is going to be told, after looking squarely at what lies ahead for me, I gave serious consideration to requesting only palliative care. From this vantage point the next year looks unendurable. I am going through with this treatment because my husband and daughter are adamant that I must.
We say that God is compassionate and merciful and then tell the Spanish woman that she has no right to seek relief from her horrible situation. We say that burdensome treatment can be refused, and then refuse to allow a patient to refuse it. Do we really want to believe that once we permit ourselves to be hooked up to something, we have no right to unhook? And if we do, what impact might that have on the decision to hook up in the first place, even if doing so is intended to be only temporary?
There is something inconsistent in this moral position that I can't quite get a grasp on, but it is a nagging question because of my current situation.
Life is a death sentence. None of us gets out of here breathing. Yet we know that this is not the end, and that this life is intended to prepare us for a life of eternal happiness with God. We say that God, and only God, must determine when we are to leave this life. But we don't practice what we preach. We cheat death with all of our science and technology. We cheat it for a while, at least, though in the end death is always victorious.
Do we cheat God when we cheat death? He can certainly call our number whenever He wishes. Likewise, we can disconnect from all of the science and technology and throw our hopes into His corner alone. He is capable of working miracles. In any case, we hope that the next life will be better than this one, and so why fear it? Why run away from it? If we are to be consistent, we must believe that death is a welcome relief. A welcome relief that we must avoid at all costs, as though we must somehow earn that relief by suffering sufficiently before we go there. But only the suffering of Christ is redemptive. We cannot save ourselves. So what are we suffering for? What was the Spanish woman supposed to continue suffering for?
Friday, March 16, 2007
ANOTHER CATHOLIC TREATED BADLY BY RIGHT-TO-LIFE DECISIONS
I was as much a supporter of Terri Schiavo's right to live as I am of this woman's right not to.
A bedridden Spanish woman who suffered from muscular dystrophy for more than twenty years has died at her own request after she was transferred from a Catholic to a state hospital where her respirator was switched off.
The West Australian reports that Immaculada Echeverria, 51, from the southern city of Granada, won her right to end her life under a law which grants the right to refuse treatment.
She died on Thursday morning Australian time after her life support was switched off, the regional department of Andalucia said.
Echevarria had progressive muscular dystrophy and had been on a respirator for the past ten years. She had fell sick at age 11 and for the last 20 years she had been in a hospital bed.
Look at the picture of this woman in the iron lung. If this isn't an example of medical intervention that is burdensome, I don't know what is. There is no hope for her to get better. There is only this existence and death. Switching off the iron lung at the patient's request is not the same thing as we saw happen with Terri Schiavo. A person should have the right to make this decision.
I have three crocuses blooming even though it is snowing here, but it's not spring until the orange barrels bloom. The other day it was shirtsleeve weather here which makes today's weather seem extra cold.
GEORGE ROBINSON ON KABBALAH
At MyJewishLearning.com is an article by George Robinson in which he talks about gnosticism in Kabbalah:
In the following article, the author refers to the relationship between kabbalah and Gnosticism, an early Christian theology. This relationship played a key role in the scholarship of Gershom Scholem, the great scholar of Jewish mysticism. It should be noted, however, that recent scholarship has questioned the Gnostic influence on Jewish mysticism.
As I've posted in the recent past, "the great scholar of Jewish mysticism, Gershom Scholem" believed there was Gnosticism in Jewish mysticism and writes about it.
But the Gnostic doctrine of “aeons,” specific powers and emanations of God, found a new shape in kabbalah, in an interpretation that fit more comfortably with Judaism’s insistence on monotheism. Nevertheless, the simple concept of a unified, omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing) Deity had been dealt a blow of sorts. Kabbalists offered a God whose unity consisted of a series of complex harmonies between oppositions, exchanges of Divine energy among attributes or emanations, body parts, and even genders.
He also places the kabbalah in the mainstream of Judaism, and indicates that
The first movement to be called kabbalah, the term most closely associated with Jewish mysticism today, arose primarily in northern Spain and southern France, mainly Provence. The primary thinkers of this group included the unknown author of the Sefer Ha-Bahir, Abraham ben David of Posquieres and his son, Isaac the Blind, and the lyun (Contemplation) circle, which produced numerous neo-Platonic mystical texts.
Provence was the home of the Cathars/Albigensians, and the home of the neo-Cathars known as Rosicrucians. They, too, had or have circles--study circles--as explained in the Antonin Gadal website. They, too, seek out divination with the Tarot. If Robinson is claiming the Gnostic influence came from Christians, it is from the heretical Christians, the Rosicrucian Christians, and has no home within Roman Catholicism. And where did these Christians get their concepts? In the Middle Ages, it is clear that the Christians who embraced the doctrine of the Kabbalah within the Catholic Church got their ideas from Judaism.
Bishop John Cole, of the Order of the Grail, places the source of medieval kabbalism in the Languedoc:
The distinctive forms of medieval kabbalism can with a great deal of certainty be said to have had its birth or rather rebirth in the area of the Languedoc. Many sources place the root of this revival in Spain, however it was not until the early thirteenth century that it was transplanted to places such as Aragon and Castille from the Languedoc.
The time period of this development in Southern France would be between the years 1150-1220. This appears to be a very magical period for intellectual as well as for theological and theosophical speculation. We also received some of the most impressive and enlightened Grail literature from this period.
The area of Languedoc would have been an idea place for Jewish culture to flourish during the 12th and 13th centuries. Catholic Christianity had lost its reign and the much more tolerant Cathars had become the prominent Christian culture of the region. The Cathars detested the corruption of the catholic clergy, and sought to practice a form of Christianity more identical with Primitive Christianity, claiming their own apostolic lineage.
The Kabbalah does not derive from Catholicism.
Returning to another Robinson article at MyJewishLearning.com, I found:
It may be said quite fairly that thirteenth-century Castille hosted the first Golden Age of kabbalah. Any list of key figures in Jewish mysticism would have to include the Kohen brothers, Abraham Abulafia and Joseph Gikatilla. The influence of these men and a number of others, many of them anonymous, would come to influence Moses de Leon when he wrote what would prove to be the single most important text in kabbalah, the Zohar.
They were a strangely assorted group, these Spanish Jewish mystics. Rabbis Jacob and Isaac ha-Kohen extolled a radical new brand of kabbalistic imagery with an unmistakable Gnostic bent; Rabbi Isaac posited an entire array of evil emanations, controlled by the sinister grouping of Asmodeus, Satan,and Lilith.
Robinson again confirms the Gnostic roots.
George Robinson's comments are taken from his book ESSENTIAL JUDAISM, copyright 2000. Gershom Scholem's books are copyrighted in the 1950s. The Jewish Encyclopedia was published in about 1906. All three sources make the same claim, that the Kabbalah has Gnostic roots.
Circumstantial evidence indicates that the Kabbalah and Catharism were both centered in the same location in France. Catharism was and is a Gnostic/esoteric Catholic heresy. Both Catharism and Jewish mysticism use the Kabbalah and the Tarot. The similarities are striking.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
FROM THE MAILBOX
Spirit & Life
"The words I spoke to you are spirit and life." (Jn 6:63)
Human Life International e-Newsletter
Volume 01, Number 59 | Friday, March 16, 2007
The Church Will Not Be Hannitized
To say that I am humbled and awed by the overwhelming response of the faithful to last Friday night's Hannity interview would be an understatement. To show my gratitude I have celebrated a Mass of thanksgiving for the literally hundreds of people who wrote emails, sent faxes and made phone calls in support of the Church's teaching, and for the unique opportunity to offer this witness to millions more. At the writing of this column, HLI has received more than 1250 emails and dozens of other communications which have run clearly 90-10 in favor of the Church's teaching - this is just incredible! I was aware that there were good Catholics out there who support the Church, but I didn't realize how many were willing to go to bat for the Truth. This gives me the greatest of hope for the future of the Church!
In light of this hope, I have to say that the "Hannitization" of the Church will not prevail! "Hannitization" is the stance that Mr. Hannity displayed on Friday night in his attitude toward infallible Church teaching. It is the curious fantasy of people who consider themselves devout Catholics in every way yet see no incompatibility between contraception and Communion. In this, he is just an icon of a whole sector of "Catholics" who live out of that template in public and private. Forty years of vigorous internal dissent against clearly-defined teachings on contraception have ceded the battlefield to the default cultural mindset that says contraception is not only morally justified, it is actually "a good thing," as Mr. Hannity has stated. We know that all chemical contraception actually causes abortions at the embryonic stage, but dissenters are rarely swayed by medical facts.
Our recent Popes call the "hannitization" phenomenon moral relativism and condemn it in the starkest possible terms as incompatible with the Faith of our Fathers. Pope Benedict has even used the term "dictatorship" to describe the arrogance with which such people tend to treat all who question their private judgments about objective truths.
This whole incredible episode has exposed, in a graphic way, the profound internal crisis of Catholicism in a post-Vatican II world. The battle is not at all between so-called liberals and conservatives. The poster boy for conservative values has just gone on record admitting that he is - obstinately - in denial of a truth of the Faith that must be believed, as the Catechism says, "with divine and catholic faith" (n. 2089). "Liberal" and "conservative" values must all be held up to scrutiny by the Church because no political ideology has the charism of infallibility. Only Christ's Vicar has that. Rather, the internecine battle within our own Church is between those who believe in objective right and wrong and those who believe that they, individually, are the arbiters of right and wrong.
This issue is not over, friends, because the battle lines are being drawn between the two worldviews and the stakes are high. Those stakes are the hannitized souls of this and the next generation of youth, and they are worth fighting for. For my part I have been deeply gratified to see evidence of the soldiers of the Church Militant who accept objective right and wrong about contraception and are quite fed up with the nonsense of the high profile dissenters who have done so much spiritual damage to souls. We stand together to defend our first love - Christ's Church! After all, it's not just Hannity's soul we are worried about. How many millions are potentially led astray by a man with that kind of platform? Keep in mind, though, that our project is much more than just objecting to dissenters in the media. We are to lead souls to the Truth through the media, or despite it. That is our common mission.
By the way, as Providence would have it, our Holy Father just this week issued a Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation on the Eucharist which will knock your socks off [See sidebar link "Sacramentum Caritatis"]. Read paragraph 83 to see whether denying a guy like Hannity the Eucharist would be something the Pope would agree with!
Now I need to ask you for a quick favor. Starting today there are nine days before our Church celebrates the Feast of the Annunciation - that day in history when Our Lord took on embryonic form in the womb of His most holy Mother. Pray with me a novena for the conversion of all those who have bought into the lies of the contraceptive culture - including Mr. Hannity. Then pray that he responds to my second request to meet with him privately. Who knows, we may de-hannitize our whole Church through his conversion!
Sincerely Yours in Christ,
Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer
President, Human Life International
THE MOSQUE COLLECTION
Cologne, Germany (dpa) - When the Rev. Franz Meurer stands at the altar this Sunday in his priestly vestments, he'll say to the congregation: "Today's collection is for the construction of the big new mosque in Ehrenfeld."
Meurer, 55, is not expecting protests. Both the board of Cologne's St. Theodore Catholic Church and the parish council have unanimously approved the action.
"It's only natural that we're helping them," he said of the Muslims living in a city that is one of the main centres of Catholicism in Germany.
After the special collection was announced last Sunday, several parishioners asked if it was really necessary - considering, for instance, that four young Turks beat a family man into a coma on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday.
"I said, 'Hey, people, think about it, will you? We'll be supporting the sensible ones'," Meurer recalled. "That's not so dumb."
Read the rest...
Three scans done. One to go. Now I know that I can actually lie motionless for an entire hour without going stir crazy. It was actually easier to do than I had expected.
Apparently for the next three days I have the potential to set off radiation monitoring equipment and so they gave me a card to carry that explains why. Interesting to watch the technician take a canister out of a lead case, open the canister, and shoot the stuff into your arm. Twice. But no afterglow.
I met a couple of other patients who were also getting tested. One lady has lymphoma and is at the end of her chemo. She was wearing a scarf so I assumed she had no hair and was anxious to talk with her. She confirmed that all of her hair had fallen out, including eyebrows and eyelashes and the hair on her arms. But the amazing thing is that she was quite upbeat, or at least seemed to be. She told me that one of her kids had not talked to her since January, even though the girl knows she has cancer. The girl is pregnant by a man who is nearly twice her age, and who has been in jail. I prayed for this lady while I was having the PET scan done, and we hugged before she left the facility.
Another lady who was also there for testing is 40 years old, has a two-year-old, a one-year-old, and a three-month old who she was breast feeding when she learned five days ago that she has breast cancer. She, too, was positive and determined to beat it. "I have three kids, I have to beat it" she told me.
Then there was a member of the staff of the facility who went out of her way to get information for me about where to buy a wig.
I have met some amazing people since discovering I have cancer, and I appreciate them more than I normally would because I need them more than I normally would.
LURIA, THE CABALA, AND CHABAD
No discussion of the Kabbalah is complete without Rabbi Isaac Luria (called The Ari). Chabad.org, a division of the Chabad-Lubavitch Media Center, under the auspicies of the Lubavitch World Headquarters, founded by Rabbi Yosef Y. Kazen, pioneer of Torah Judaism, describes Luria this way:
Rabbi Isaac Luria's personality inspired all the great men who had penetrated deeper than most mortals, into the world of Cabbala. The Ari died at the age of thirty-eight years, mourned by the entire Jewish people. Despite his short life, he left an indelible impression on religious Jewish life and religious reaching. He introduced many holy Minhagim (customs) which have become part and parcel of our customs and services. His songs and prayers have been widely adopted and partially incorporated into the Siddur. Entire communities guide themselves by the "Nusach HoAri" and much of his teachings has been used to form the basis of the great Chassidic movement. Due to his influence and inspiration Judaism was able to withstand the onslaughts of many creeds and ideas that were promoted during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. He certainly counts among the holiest and most important leaders of the Jewish people.
Luria, according to the article, began with Halachah and progressed to the Zohar, the main work of Cabbala.
In his tireless efforts to penetrate the inner chambers of the Torah, he discovered much of the true meaning of the Jewish faith. He was able to work out a whole system of a Cabbalistic doctrine on the world, and on the role of the Torah and its commandments in the life of man....he set out to cleanse the world of the spirit of impurity and to replace the rule of evil by the recognition of G-d.
Of the Lurianic Kabbalah, Gershom Scholem writes:
It is, indeed, surprising that in the very heart of Judaism ideas and notions sprang up which purported to interpret its meaning better than any others, and which yet represent a relapse into, or if you like a revival of, the mythical consciousness. This is particularly true of the Zohar and the Lurianic Kabbalah, that is to say, of those forms of Jewish mysticism which have exerted by far the greatest influence in Jewish history and which for centuries stood out in the popular mind as bearers of the final and deepest truth in Jewish thought.(MAJOR TRENDS IN JEWISH MYSTICISM, p. 22)
Chabad Lubavitch are wholehearted supporters of Luria. Scholem gives him credit for having great influence in Jewish history, but not all Jews are quite so complimentary toward Luria.
At the Jews for Jesus website an article on the history of the Kabbalah offers these comments:
It was...from Safed that Rabbi Isaac Luria would develop his "redemptive" brand of kabbalistic philosophy. The climate of political upheaval and the massive forced removals of the Jewish people had given rise to speculation that the world was in the midst of the "birth-pangs" of the Messiah. Luria was hard-pressed to explain the terrible state of exile that characterized the Jewish people. He expanded the kabbalistic doctrine of the exile of the Shechinah (or Divine Presence) into a mystical theology of redemption and promoted a rationale for the performance of good deeds which was designed to hasten and even produce the coming of the Messiah.
Lurianic Kabbalah would ultimately give rise to Sabbatianism, the messianic movement of the seventeenth century that proclaimed Shabbetai Zevi as King Messiah and in so doing, led Jewry into despondency for decades. Lurianic Kabbalah would also, through the popular mystical Chassidic movement, exert a strong influence on the future thinking of Judaism. Modern Judaism and its raison d'être is heavily grounded in the Lurianic notion that the Jewish people exist in order to prepare the world for the arrival of the Messiah.
Sabbatianism was a devolution in Judaism--a Jewish heresy. Scholem says
Fired with Messianic fervor in the seventeenth century, Kabbalism became an explosive force in the great Messianic movement centering round Sabbatai Zevi, which even in its collapse provoked a mystical heresy, a heretical Kabbalah, whose impulses and developments, paradoxically enough, played a significant part--long overlooked and becoming clear to us only today--in the rise of a modern Judaism.(ON THE KABBALAH AND ITS SYMBOLISM, p. 90)
Professor Lawrence Fine discusses Lurianic Kabbalah at MyJewishLearning.com, describing the cosmology contained therein. The explanation is too long to quote here. I suggest you read it at the website if you want to see how Jewish cosmology differs from Catholic cosmology. He makes a couple of related statements that do address what I have been writing about.
[Pre-eminent 16th-century kabbalist] Isaac Luria taught what amounts to a 16th-century version of a gnostic myth...
Also in the conclusions gnosticism again arises:
1) The condition of disarray in which the cosmos finds itself, according to Lurianic Kabbalah, is a result of two different catastrophic "falls," one of an intra-divine nature, prior to and independent of human behavior, the other a consequence of human sin.
2) The material world as we know it, as was the case with the gnostic myths of late antiquity, is deemed repugnant, evil, inhospitable, opposed in every way to that which is immaterial, divine light and the soul.
3) The project of human life is to separate the holy from the material world, and thus divest that world of all existence. All existence will return to its original spiritual condition, a state synonymous with the messianic age. Lurianism is thus, again, like the gnostic myths of an earlier time, a complete rejection of the world as we know it, and of the historical process. The vision of redemption is a fundamentally spiritual one in which all things return to olam ha-tikkun [literally "the world of repair," that is, a world restored to its perfect status before intra-divine catastrophe and before human sin]. Thus, the tikkun of which Lurianic Kabbalah speaks is not that of this world, but of "worlds" beyond it.
4) The responsibility for bringing all this about is a human one, not a divine one. Divinity is, in effect, a passive beneficiary of the actions of human beings.
There is no possibility of fitting Jesus Christ into the concept outlined here. This is self-salvation as No. 4 above explains.
Incidentally, the explanation of the breaking of the vessels described at this website resembles the description of Kabbalah presented by Michael Berg, of Madonna's Kabbalah Center, in his book SECRET.
At the cached version of JewishGates.com, we are told "Kabbalah was stringently limited to an elitist group of scholars capable of understanding its mysteries," and that in the Kabbalah "there are numerous descriptions of the Divine Throne and the angels' activities."
The commonality of Kabbalah and its magical content is addressed:
The fact that Rabbi Akiva and other sages were involved in this spiritual exploration emphasizes how "mainstream" Kabbalah was for the great scholars of that time. It continued to play a significant role in Jewish tradition, reaching its zenith in the 16th century.
Kabbalah's greatest period was under the charismatic leadership of Isaac Ben Solomon Luria, known as the ARI (1534-1572).
By the time of the Ari, there were two separate foci of Kabbalah. One form was primarily theoretical: it attempted to understand the hidden secrets of the Divine and understand the Jew's role in the eternal universe.
The other form was practical: it attempted to harness the power of the Divine and use it to change the world. Practical Kabbalah involved amulets against illness and evil spirits and even enabled the advanced practitioner to bring clay to life.
A student of Kabbalah who could commune with the souls of departed righteous Jews was functioning at a theoretical level, while a student of Kabbalah who healed terminally ill people by using the divine name, was functioning at a practical level.
A brief explanation of the Lurianic Kabbala is given:
Luria concentrated on the process of creation. Originally, the Divine created with too much of the Divine's emanation. It was more than any creation could bear (even spiritual sefirot), and that original creation exploded, producing shards which poison all subsequent creations. Those shards, TOO MUCH OF GOD'S EMANATION, are the source of what we call "evil" in our world. In order for any creation to take place successfully, the Divine had to contract the creative emanations through filtering sefirot. The sefirot thus acted like a set of screens, limiting the amount of divine emanation that could penetrate. This process of contracting the Divine emanation is tzimtzum.
Every Jew is directly linked to the Divine by soul emanations through both the sefirot and the physical world (a much lower level, of course). Through prayer, focus (kavanah), and mitzvot, it is possible for a Jew to be aware of the higher sefirot and, through them, to commune with past souls. The soul is a spark of the divine emanation within us. It is possible, through study, knowledge, and concentration, to send that spark back up through the sefirot while the Jew is still alive. The Ari laid great store in the hidden numerical meanings of Hebrew words to aid in this sefirot exploration.
Most important, the Ari taught that a Jew's actions affect the amount of divine emanation present within the world. Through mitzvot, a Jew can bring more holiness (more divine emanation essence) into the world. Through this process, a Jew can repair the world from the original damage produced by those exploding spiritual shards, that is, evil. This process of being able to repair the world is called Tikkun Olam. By bringing enough divine emanation into the world (via mitzvot) Jews could cause the Messiah to come.
Once again it is easy to see that salvation is brought about by man.
At the mystical judaism website the Katriel Tarot of the Kabbalah is offered for sale.
Neo-Gnostic bishop Stephan Hoeller offers his book THE FOOL'S PILGRIMAGE: KABBALISTIC MEDITATIONS ON THE TAROT for sale at Quest Books. Hoeller's September 2005 lecture was titled "Kabbalah, Tarot and Divination".
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
LIBERATION THEOLOGIAN TO BE DISCIPLINED
ROME — The Vatican is preparing to discipline Father Jon Sobrino, a well-known proponent of liberation theology who worked for decades in El Salvador even as fellow priests were murdered, church sources said Tuesday.
Sobrino will be sanctioned for alleged errors in his teachings and writings about the divinity of Jesus, according to members of his Jesuit order in Rome. A Vatican spokesman this week confirmed to reporters that an investigation was underway.
Sobrino, who resides in San Salvador and is affiliated with the University of Central America there, was expected to comment on the punishment after the Vatican makes a formal announcement later this week, associates at the school said.
Although the censure was expected to focus on specific theological points, Sobrino's supporters immediately decried what they saw as the silencing of an important voice for the poor and disenfranchised.
His punishment reportedly will include a ban on future teaching and publishing. However, other colleagues noted that the 68-year-old priest was weakened by diabetes and semiretired, so it was unclear how great an impact the restriction would have.
Here's the article...
HEKHALOTH LITERATURE AND GNOSTICISM
Commensurate with the information on Gnosticism which I've quoted from the Jewish Encyclopedia, Gershom Scholem also takes note of the relationship of Jewish mysticism to Gnosticism. In MAJOR TRENDS IN JEWISH MYSTICISM Scholem describes Hekhaloth mysticism this way:
Those who passed the test were considered worthy to make the "descent" to the Merkabah which led them, after many trials and dangers, through the seven heavenly palaces, and before that through the heavens, their preparation, their technique, and the description of what is perceived on the voyage, are the subject-matter of the writings with which we are concerned.(pp.49-50)
Originally, we have here a Jewish variation on one of the chief preoccupations of the second and third century gnostics and hermetics: the ascent of the soul from the earth, through the spheres of the hostile planet-angels and rulers of the cosmos, and its return to its divine home in the "fullness" of God's light, a return which, to the gnostic's mind, signified Redemption. Some scholars consider this to be the central idea of Gnosticism. Certainly the description of this journey, of which a particularly impressive account is found in the second part of the "Greater Hekhaloth," is in all its details of a character which must be called gnostic.
This mystical ascent is always preceded by ascetic practices whose duration in some cases is twelve days, in others forty. An account of these practices was given about 1000 A.D. by Hai ben Sherira, the head of a Babylonian academy. According to him, "many scholars were of the belief that one who is distinguished by many qualities described in the books and who is desirous of beholding the Merkabah and the palaces of the angels on high, must follow a certain procedure. He must fast a number of days and lay his head between his knees and whisper many hymns and songs whose text are known from tradition. Then he perceives the interior and the chambers, as if he saw the seven palaces with his own eyes, and it is as though he entered one palace after the other and saw what is there." The typical bodily posture of these ascetics is also that of Elijah in his prayer on Mount Carmel. It is an attitude of deep self-oblivion which, to judge from certain ethnological parallels, is favorable to the induction of pre-hypnotic autosuggestion. Dennys gives a very similar description of a Chinese somnambulist in the act of conjuring the spirits of the departed: "She sits down on a low chair and bends forward so that her head rests on her knees. Then, in a deep measured voice, she repeats three times an exorcism, whereupon a certain change appears to come over her." In the Talmud, too, we find this posture described as typical of the self-oblivion of a Hanina ben Dosa sunk in prayer, or of a penitent who gives himself over to God.
Finally, after such preparations, and in a state of ecstasy, the adept begins his journey. The "Greater Hekhaloth" do not describe the details of his ascent through the seven heavens, but they do describe his voyage through the seven palaces situated in the highest heaven. The place of the gnostical rulers (archons) of the seven planetary spheres, who are opposed to the liberation of the soul from its earthly bondage and whose resistance the soul must overcome, is taken in this Judaized and monotheistic Gnosticism by the hosts of "gate-keepers" posted to the right and left of the entrance to the heavenly hall through which the soul must pass in its ascent. In both cases, the soul requires a pass in order to be able to continue its journey without danger: a magic seal made of a secret name which puts the demons and hostile angels to flight. Every new stage of the ascension requires a new seal with which the traveler "seals himself" in order that, to quote a fragment, "he shall not be dragged into the fire and the flame, the vortex and the storm which are around Thee, oh Thou terrible and sublime." The "Greater Hekhaloth" have preserved a quite pedantic description of this passport procedure; all the seals and the secret names are derived from the Merkabah itself where they "stand like pillars of flame around the fiery throne" of the Creator.
It is the soul's need for protection on its journey which has produced these seals with their twin functions as a protective armour and as a magical weapon. At first the magical protection of a single seal may be sufficient, but as time goes on the difficulties experienced by the adept tend to become greater. A brief and simple formula is no longer enough. Sunk in his ecstatic trance, the mystic at the same time experiences a sense of frustration which he tries to overcome by using longer and more complicated magical formulae, symbols of a longer and harder struggle to pass the closed entrance gates which block his progress. As his psychical energy wanes the magical strain grows and the conjuring gesture becomes progressively more strained, until in the end whole pages are filled with an apparently meaningless recital of magical key-words with which he tries to unlock the closed door.
This is much closer to New Age than it is to Christianity, although it would be hard to ignore the similarity of this description of the soul's ascent to the Orthodox belief in toll booths which replaces the Roman Catholic doctrine of Purgatory.
There is a difference between Hellenistic mysticism and the gnosticism of the Hekhaloth according to Scholem:
...there is a radical difference in the conception of God. In the Hekhaloth, God is above all King, to be precise, Holy King. This conception reflects a change in the religious consciousness of the Jews--not only the mystics--for which documentary evidence exists in the liturgy of the period. The aspects of God which are really relevant to the religious feeling of the epoch are His majesty and the aura of sublimity and solemnity which surrounds him.(p. 55)
On the other hand, there is a complete absence of any sentiment of divine immanence.
Recent events in Poland provoked by the continuing investigation into who did and who did not cooperate with the Communists have caused some Catholics to speculate that it might be possible that John Paul II was one who did.
In the light of that, was it prudent to rush the examination of the life of the former pope with the intent to canonize him speedily? Do we need a saint with a Communist cloud hanging over his head?
It was Benedict who dispensed with the five-year waiting period. It was Benedict who recently chose an archbishop for Poland who subsequently admitted he had cooperated with the Communists. It came out that this information had been withheld from the pope, leading to a speculation that other information may be withheld from the pope as well.
Let's hope that the saint mill in Rome will shift into lower gear, and that the questions about John Paul II can be resolved satisfactorily prior to his canonization.
WE HAVE BECOME A THREAT TO DEMOCRACY NOW
That's right, the Catholic position threatens the GLBT community's democracy, or so they believe. I guess rights are only rights if they are GLBT rights. Opposing rights have no freedom at all because democracy, according to the GLBT community, has prescribed limitations. And don't even ask about religious freedom. In the GLBT world religious freedom appears to be an anachronism along with freedom of speech, when one is speaking of the Catholic moral position. In fact they are doing the very thing they claim to oppose when it takes place in the Catholic community. "Rights for me are inalienable; rights for you are conditional"--that would seem to be their position. From Gay.com:
The Catholic Church's obsessive homophobia is becoming a threat to democracy, says the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA).
Commenting on the appeal from the pulpit by the Archbishop of Birmingham Vincent Nichols to persuade his flock to oppose the Sexual Orientation Regulations and the announcement by the Bishop of Motherwell Joseph Devine that he would not be voting for Labour in the May elections, GALHA's secretary George Broadhead said:
"The Catholic Church is becoming much more politically active throughout Europe, not only in Britain, where it is still fuming over the refusal of the government to exempt it from the Sexual Orientation Regulations, but also in Italy, where the Vatican is agitating very hard to scupper civil partnership legislation, and in Spain where it is still opposing the gay marriage laws as well as proposed changes to the education system that downgrade the importance of Catholic education in schools."
Read the rest...
There is a link between breast cancer and abortion that is getting swept under the rug.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
DOCUMENT ON THE EUCHARIST
has been released. Dom announced it and offers comments on its content.
VATICAN TO LAUNCH TV NETWORK
ROME (Hollywood Reporter) - Days after Pope Benedict XVI criticised the media for its "destructive" influence, the Vatican on Monday announced plans to launch its first television network by the end of the year.
H2O will broadcast news and original entertainment programming worldwide in seven languages, according to a statement. Additional details were sketchy.
Over the years, the Vatican has been quick to adopt new technologies in its efforts to communicate with the world's more than 1 billion Catholics. In 1996, the Vatican introduced its Web portal nearly three years before the Italian state unveiled its own Web site. And it has embraced digital and satellite technology.
Read the rest...
That has promise considering the valuable service the Vatican website has been, and considering the success of EWTN!
Hat tip to Spirit Daily.
The tide is turning!
Helen M. Alvare, Associate Professor at the Columbus School of Law at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, outlines the three periods of American Law as it relates to marriage: 1. The Colonial period through the late 1950s, 2. The 1960s to the late 1980s, 3. The late 1980s to the present, and explains the parameters of each period. Her words were delivered at the Catholic Daughters of the Americas lecture on campus. She closed with this:
"But at the same time the empirical literature is showing a robust consensus in favor of the Catholic view of marriage," Alvare said, showing that couples and children are happier and healthier in traditional marriages.
She urged her audience to continue raising the church's vision of marriage in public debates and legislative forums. "Attack the notion that laws on the family can be separated from morality, attack the notion that children do not need special protections," she said.
Alvare warned that promoters of traditional marriage will be criticized as racist, homophobic, sexist, anti-poor, as "religious zealots wishing to impose their will on others" or as "all of the above."
"But we (Catholics) understand marriage and the family to be as central as they are," she said, adding that the church has "never wavered in this even when society discounted it."
CATHOLICSPEAK AND PLAYING BY THE RULES
Did you know that according to Canon Law a parish may not be closed? Yeah, I know...it's done all the time. Well, actually it isn't. A critical word is used to facilitate the process. Parishes are not "closed", they are "merged", which is acceptable under Canon Law and the proper Catholicspeak terminology.
“No parish is really ever closed unless there are no Catholics left there,” said Litwin. “In reality, what seem to be closings are not really closings. You’re closing buildings perhaps, but you’re merging parish boundaries.”
The Vatican clarified the issue last summer in a letter to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in which Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, a high-ranking prelate, wrote: “Only with great difficulty can one say that a parish becomes extinct.”
“A parish is extinguished by the law itself only if no Catholic community any longer exists in its territory, or if no pastoral activity has taken place for a hundred years,” Hoyos wrote, according to the Catholic News Service.
Over the weekend, diocesan officials announced the merger of 10 parishes into five. Four church buildings are expected to be shut down in that reconfiguration.
Confusion can result because many Catholics often use the terms “parish” and “church” interchangeably.
Some merged parishes might reflect their new status by choosing a new parish name.
So, when your parish disappears and the Methodists own the church you helped finance, don't even think about claiming that it has been "closed" lest you accuse the bishop of violating Canon Law. Get your language straight and be happy about your new parish home, don't reminisce about the old one that is gone, don't wax nostalgic about the events that you celebrated in the church that was part of the parish whose name is only a memory, because that parish still exists even if you can't find it, and being "negative" is a no-no.
(Ok, I have hot buttons.)
DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE NON-NEGOTIABLE
Benedict gets tough...
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Church's opposition to gay marriage is "non-negotiable" and Catholic politicians have a moral duty to oppose it, as well as laws on abortion and euthanasia, Pope Benedict said in a document issued on Tuesday.
In a 140-page booklet on the workings of a synod that took place at the Vatican in 2005 on the theme of the Eucharist, the 79-year-old German Pope also re-affirmed the Catholic rule of celibacy for priests.
In the "Apostolic Exhortation" Benedict says all believers had to defend what he calls fundamental values but that the duty was "especially incumbent" for those in positions of power.
He said these included "respect for human life, its defense from conception to natural death, the family built on marriage between a man and a woman, the freedom to educate one's children and the promotion of the common good in all its forms".
"These values are not negotiable," he said.
He also reaffirmed the use of Latin and Gregorian Chant especially at large Masses and told the world "we cannot say that one song is as good as another." Amen to that!!
Locals are stirred up by last night's 3.6 earthquake which took place at approximately 7:20 p.m. in Twinsburg--about 7-10 miles up the road. I was in a store when it happened and didn't feel a thing. Speaking with clerks in another store a couple miles north of the first, I learned that they had felt it and were all talking about it.
Contrary to common opinion around here, earthquakes do happen in northeast Ohio, though most of them take place in Lake Erie.
SORRY, NO HOT DOG
The season opener of the Cleveland Indians will take place at Jacob's Field on Good Friday. Bishop Lennon has announced that Catholics will get no dispensation to eat hot dogs.
Monday, March 12, 2007
FROM THE MAILBOX
Spirit & Life
"The words I spoke to you are spirit and life." (Jn 6:63)
Human Life International e-Newsletter
Volume 01, Special Edition | Monday, March 12, 2007
Hannity the Liberal
"For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth." (2 Tim 4:3-4)
Many Spirit and Life readers may know that after last Friday's column ("Sean Hannity's Gospel") I was invited to defend my position on the Hannity and Colmes show that very night. It's nice to know that my emails are being read in the hallowed halls of Fox News! I suspected, however, that Hannity wanted to defend his "devout Catholic" credentials, and I was not disabused of this notion when I went on the show. What the show did, above all, was to show not that the Church was wrong or incoherent, but that Hannity, like so many other cultural Catholics, is really a liberal when it comes to certain aspects of sexual morality.
The first point I have to straighten out is for those who were concerned that this was not handled first in private. Well, in fact, I did attempt to handle this matter in private with Mr. Hannity in 2004, but I never received a response to my letter asking him for a meeting. [See side bar item, "Fr. Euteneuer asks to meet with Hannity about birth control."] As far as I am concerned, I did my due diligence before I went public with my complaint about his hypocrisy; but even if I had not, it was Mr. Hannity's schedulers who called me to make an issue of it, not I who demanded to appear on his show! In this age of culpable clerical silence on many serious issues affecting people's souls, do we now want a priest to keep silent about something so important? We can't have it both ways.
Second, concerning the actual debate, what some are calling Sean's "disrespect" for me as a member of the clergy was not of concern to me. In that sense, Sean is typical of his generation that has been taught that nobody has any special consecration (even if they technically do) and that everyone has to prove his mettle in the realm of public debate. No problem. I am a holder of this office, and I did not feel that his callous disregard for the priesthood did anything to diminish the sanctity of it, but I can see how it was an extra element of scandal for those who value the priestly office highly. Nor did I really care that he cut me off time and time again in the debate; he's a known quantity - did you expect anything else from Hannity?
Just for the record, Sean Hannity really is a dissenting Catholic and a public scandal to the Faith. He should be rebuked by his pastor or bishop, not by me, but since that has not been forthcoming in his decade or so of public dissent on radio and TV, somebody in authority had to say something. Hannity, as we know, is shameless on birth control, and judging from the interview, he hasn't even the vocabulary to rationally defend his position in the face of his Church's clear teaching. Hannity is also clearly pro-choice on abortion in cases of rape, incest and life of the mother, and he is really cozy with the likes of Rudy Giuliani whose love for abortion and everything gay is hardly a secret. It has even been revealed that Hannity's website, Hannity.com has a gay dating service that Sean knows about and apparently "has no problem with;" no different from his attitude in regard to birth control. So much for the "devout Catholic" Hannity. If that is devout, then Hugh Heffner is reverent.
The interview on Friday night was enlightening in many senses but mostly because it showed Hannity's true liberal side. The "Judge not lest ye be judged" comment I have heard only and exclusively in debates with liberals and others with guilty consciences. It is the whine of the person who is doing something that he knows in his heart is wrong but can't stand anyone pointing out. Hannity's "judge not" rant can be summarized in one phrase which, if it were put this way, would have been much more identifiable as liberal claptrap: "How dare you question my choice!" Face it: Hannity is a liberal when it comes to sex. In his position next to Colmes, Hannity wears the conservative mantle, but when he comes face to face with the truth of his Church, which I as a priest am obliged to uphold faithfully, he is no more than a liberal relativist.
And in that matter, how different is his position on birth control from that of Planned Parenthood? They have "no problem" with birth control either. In fact it's much more than a personal matter for them. It fuels their business. Yes, about 60% of women going into abortion clinics are doing it because of failed birth control and no amount of feigned pragmatism about stopping abortions with birth control is going to change the fact that birth control teaches people to be selfish and leads them down the garden path to the killing centers of this nation - or any nation for that matter. And by the way, for those who wanted me to object to both abortion and birth control as a solution to any problem, please go back and listen carefully to the clip - I did object to both! The Catholic Church's teaching on sexual morality is the only coherent dissenting viewpoint from PP's gospel of free sex and baby killing, and sadly, Hannity, the "devout Catholic," just aids and abets those criminals.
Most surprising of all, however, was Hannity's use of what I call the "argument from pedophilia;" namely, the tendency to fall back on the Church sex abuse scandal when you're losing an argument with a priest and have to grab for something. I have had people do this to me in front of abortion clinics, at Da Vinci Code protests and in private conversations about Catholicism for the past several years. Let's just say I didn't expect it from Hannity! Was it me or did Sean just disconnect from reality at that moment? Where in the world did that come from? Well, it's because Hannity's really a closet liberal when pushed to the wall. True colors come out in the wash, and the birth control issue just has a greater tendency to touch the sensitive areas of people's philosophies of life.
Hannity's worldview is full of holes. He may have gone to seminary but, if that is the case, his seminary background and knowledge of Latin (!) gives him a greater responsibility to get it right when he wants to spout off about Church teaching in the public forum.
For your reading interest you can click on the side bar items to see some of the incredible feedback that we got on both sides of the debate. Of particular interest is the recent statement of Cardinal Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State, who has said that "dissident Catholics are more worrying than atheists." Whew - words of warning for Hannity and O'Reilly and company. In the end, we all have to undergo our own "Judgment Day," and it is the Church's job to let people know ahead of time that God is not a moral relativist on the issue of birth control.
Sincerely Yours in Christ,
Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer
President, Human Life International
FRIENDLY FIRE FROM FR. JOHATHAN MORRIS
who shoots down Fr. Euteneuer's challenge to Sean Hannity. With friends like this...?
PUBLIC ADVOCACY FOR GAY MARRIAGE = NO COMMUNION
NOR links this story of another courageous priest:
Leah Vader grew up in the Catholic church. She went to Catholic school. She took communion every week. But on March 1, she got a letter from the Rev. Cliff Jacobson, the pastor of St. Matthew’s Catholic Church, which she attends.
The letter said that “because of your union and your public advocacy of same-sex unions, that you are unable to receive communion.”
Vader and her spouse, Lynne Huskinson, were married in Canada. They’ve been outspoken advocates for gay rights. Vader brought Huskinson to the church and she was baptized in 2000. The two have been a fixture at the church since 1998.
But what is one to make of this line from the story? Huskinson and Vader have gotten invitations from several other churches already. But it’s not quite the same. Would that be other Catholic churches? Uhm...Roman Catholic churches?
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for courage for our priests!
TRIDENTINE MASS AN "EXTRAORDINARY UNIVERSAL RITE"?
POPE Benedict XVI plans to bring back the celebration of mass in Latin, overriding a rare show of protest from senior cardinals.
With a papal decree said to be imminent, Catholic publishers in Rome are preparing new editions of the Latin missal.
They have sent proofs to Vatican authorities for approval, the Rome newspaper La Repubblica has reported.
Vatican sources said Benedict, who is fluent in Latin, is considering the publication of a papal motu proprio (literally, on his own initiative), which does not require the approval of church bodies.
This would enable Benedict to ignore opposition from several cardinals.
The decree would declare the Latin, or Tridentine, mass an "extraordinary universal rite", and the vernacular mass, with which most Catholics are familiar, an "ordinary universal rite".
Read the rest of the story...
If he waits too long there will no longer be priests available who still remember how to say it. Those who do have gray heads now, though it may be possible that new communities of priests who wish to say it would form, and, of course, there are the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter priests and the SSPX priests.
Hat tip to NOR.
GNOSTICISM IN THE JEWISH ENCYCLOPEDIA
According to the entry Gnosticism "forced itself into prominence in the first centuries of the common era." Its prominent characteristic is syncretism.
It unquestionably antedates Christianity. Magic is associated with it.
Magic...was a not unimportant part of the doctrines and manifestations of gnosticism, largely occupied Jewish thinkers. There is, in general, no circle of ideas to which elements of gnosticism have been traced, and with which the Jews were not acquainted. It is a noteworthy fact that heads of gnostic schools and founders of gnostic systems are designated as Jews by the Church Fathers. Some derive all heresies, including those of gnosticism, from Judaism....Hebrew words and names of God provide the skeleton for several gnostic systems....the principal elements of gnosticism were derived from Jewish speculation...
The terms here emphasized recur in the Talmud in the accounts of gnosis. "There is no doubt that a Jewish gnosticism existed before a Christian or a Judaeo-Christian gnosticism. As may be seen even in the apocalypses, since the second century B.C. gnostic thought was bound up with Judaism...but the relation of this Jewish gnosticism to Christian gnosticism may, perhaps, no longer be explained.
It is also highly probable that a not inconsiderable part of the earliest Jewish gnosis is still extant, though in somewhat modified form, in the mystical small midrashim that have been collected in Jellinek's "Bet ha-Midrash," and in the medieval products of the Jewish Cabala....it is undeniable that the devotees of secret science and magic in general can not be easily exterminated, though they may seem to disappear from time to time. Krochmal, and after him Joel, have already pointed out gnostic doctrines in the Zohar.
Definition and Terminology
In the gnosticism of the second century "three elements must be observed, the speculative and philosophical, the ritualistic and mystical, and the practical and ascetic...These three elements may all be traced to Jewish sources. The ritualistic and mystical emement, however, was here much less developed than in Judaeo-Christian and Christian gnosticism....These elements were, in fact, discovered only in the first half of the last century (Krochmal, Gratz), and new ones have been ascertained by more recent investigators (Joel, Friedlander, etc.); much, however, still remains to be done.
...the things above, the things below, the things that were before, and the things that shall be...
That last phrase is reminiscent of the occult philosophy "as above, so below".
A Secret Science
Origen, who lived at the same time in Palestine, also knew the "Merkabah" as a secret science...By "correct knowledge" the upper and the lower world may be put in motion. When Eleazar was discussing the thronechariot, fire came down from heaven and flamed around those present; the attending angels danced before them, like wedding-guests before the groom, and the trees intoned songs of praise...When two other scholars interpreted the Merkabah the earth shook and a rainbow appeared in the clouds, although it was summer....
When a boy read the Merkabah...before his teacher and "entered the hashmal with his knowledge"...fire came out of the hashmal...and consumed him....Gnosis is neither pure philosophy nor pure religion, but a combination of the two with magic, the latter being the dominant element, as it was the beginning of all religion and philosophy. The Bar Zoma...reminds one of the origins of gnosis.
R. Akiba explained that the mark of the accusative...before "heaven and earth" in the first verse of Genesis was used in order that the verse might not be interpreted to mean that heaven and earth created God...evidently attacking the gnostic theory according to which the supreme God is enthroned in unapproachable distance, while the world is connected with a demiurge
It may be mentioned here, in connection with these views about original hermaphroditism, that even the earlier authorities of the Talmud were acquainted with the doctrine of syzygy...
Prince of the World
The Jews of course emphatically repudiated the doctrine of the demiurge, who was identified by some Christian gnostics with the God of the Old Testament and designated as the "accursed God of the Jews," from whom all the evil in the world was derived....the monotheism of the Jews was incompatible with a demiurge of any kind.
The Sefer Yezirah
In the Sefer Yezirah, the three principal elements of the alphabet are...air...water...fire...According to this conception there are three, not four, elements, as was commonly assumed after the Arabic period....Curiously enough, the second book of "Jeu," p. 195, and the "Pistis Sophia," p. 375...refer to three kinds of baptism--with water, with fire, and with spirit. It is impossible to say to what extent the Yezirah speculations influenced the Cabala and its principal manual, the Zohar, as well as its prominent adepts, at the close of the Middle Ages and in modern times, as there are no special studies on the subject. Many gnostic elements, as, for example, the syzygy doctrine...have doubtless been preserved in the Cabala, together with magic and mysticism.
Gnosis was regarded as legitimate by Judaism, its chain of tradition is noted in the principal passage in Hagigah, Johannan b. Zakkai heading the list. Here is found the threefold division of men into hylics, psychics, and pneumatics, as among the Valentinians....There were gnostics who led an immoral life, Aher (Elisha ben Abuyah) being among these, according to legendary accounts...But there were also gnostic sects practising asceticism....
The C.T. scan is scheduled for tomorrow. That means that starting at bedtime today and continuing tomorrow morning, I have to drink nearly a quart of barium. I've been warned it tastes chalky and vaguely like coconut. I've got it chilling in the fridge. I plan to use a straw to deliver it as far back in my mouth as possible. Any other suggestions for getting it down?
RED HAT'S WISDOM
Dorothy K. Daigle has written two e-books composed of the wisdom of Cherokee elder and wisdom-keeper John Red Hat Duke. It is not quite the spirituality you might think. Red Hat focuses on the Torah and the Cherokee White Path. He seeks to do the will of G-d as the Jews view Him, and has "grave concern for Christians." He promotes the Noahide Laws, and opposes Sunday worship, saying we must return to Sabbath worship.
An example of Red Hat's wisdom can be read here. It begins:
The following is a bridge from the Native American spiritual path, the Red Road, as taught by Cherokee elder John Red Hat Duke, to Torah, the holy scriptures of our ancestors in Jerusalem, on which Judah (Jews) and Joseph (Hopi and those tribes associated with them) may unite with HaShem?s blessing.
Note: The union of the House of Judah and the House of Joseph is the same event as the completion of the Hopi migration back to Jerusalem, as revealed to Dorothy by Creator. Ezekiel 37
Step 1: Observe nature with awe and gratitude. A sense of love and respect for all creation will begin to grow within me.
Creation. Our universe. The cycles of life and death. A vast composite of exquisite harmony; a truly beautiful harmonic symphony of melodious verse with each vibratory element sustaining one another, loving one another. This is truly a miracle of melodies played out in the grand scheme of creation.
HaShem?s plan for humanity is wondrous and exciting! As the salmon swim upstream every year to spawn, they are led by HaShem?s awesome spirit. In the wondrous scheme of HaShem?s creation, all of creation follows an internal instinct, and so Jacob?s children yearn to go home. HaShem has provided an inheritance for them in Judea-Samaria so His plan of creation may be fulfilled.
Step 2: Learn to trust Creator and accept my circumstances. Overcoming adversity will produce spiritual growth within me as I walk the Red Road.
Today we face great adversities, probably greater than any of us have ever seen in our lifetimes. It is also a wonderful time of great opportunity for spiritual growth. We have the potential of rising to great spiritual heights; even to the place of forgiveness, love and tolerance where we will be prepared for the coming of Messiah.
Moses? life was filled with circumstances that tested his faith in HaShem, G-d. He was instructed by Creator to go to Pharaoh and lead the Israelites out of Egypt.
Moses had to trust HaShem or he would have given up on his mission before he ever began it because in his mind the work was impossible. Yet, if he had given up and not trusted HaShem, the Israelites could still be living as slaves under the Egyptians, but HaShem?s plan was fulfilled. The Israelites were protected and sustained. Creator led them through the wilderness to the land of milk and honey. Through all the adversity of wandering in the wilderness, Moses had to convince the people of Israel to accept their circumstances and trust HaShem and He would lead them home.
We have a tendency to quickly enter the land of ?fire and ice,? where our emotions fluctuate to extreme anger (fire) and to coldness and judgment (ice.) Now we must learn to enter the land of ?milk and honey,? where we will nourish, i.e. provide milk for all the children of Jacob with an attitude of sweet forgiveness, i.e. with the sweetness of honey. May we move beyond the place of being extremely difficult to appease to a place where we will bring joy to Jacob and all of our ancestors who wait with hopeful hearts that we will enter the land of milk and honey.
Step 3: Seek for truth within myself, that I may remove hypocrisy and evil intent from within my heart.
Creator is the third partner in procreation. It is He who gives life. It is interesting to note that procreation is the first mitzvah mentioned in the Torah, which gives it primary importance.
Children are the greatest blessing we can have in this life, and Jacob?s children were no exception. They were his greatest joy, and it is said that Joseph was his favorite.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
SEAN HANNITY VS. FR. EUTENEUER
Deacon John G. has posted the text of the debate on FOX. Hannity got pretty intense. Fr. Euteneuer kept his cool. Interesting.
We worship a God who is Jewish in His human form. Jesus Christ came to us through the Covenant of Abraham. For this reason the Jewish faith has always drawn me, even though I know little about it. At the same time, as the entry in the Jewish Encyclopedia on Cabala demonstrated, there is not a common faith in Judaism. Rather there are many lines of theology promoted by various Rabbis, and some of these lie in opposition to the Catholic faith.
Another line is that of the Hebrew Catholics, and it parallels what it means to be Roman Catholic as it is explained in this essay by Athol Bloomer. Here I found something of an explanation for the development in Kabbalah toward the magic trend that was obvious in the Encyclopedia entry:
The famous compiler of the Zohar, Rabbi Moses de Leon, was centred with his Kabbalistic school in Avila. That the Jewish Kabbalah is truly ancient can be seen in that St. Paul and St. John the Beloved seem to be familiar with its images and symbolism. The Egyptian theology of the Ennead is a corrupted version of this same mystical tradition. Later misuse of Kabbalah can be seen in Lurianic Kabbalah and its offspring Freemasonry. These both distort the Kabbalah into an occultic direction.
He writes that seeking power is the danger inherent in the use of Kabbalah:
When one seeks the mystical way or kabbalah to gain more power rather than love as did many of the Lurianic Kabbalists, one enters into evil Sitra Ahra (the Other Side) and encounters the Evil One (Satan) and his demons often as ‘angels of light’. The followers of Rabbi Isaac Luria (mid 16th century) took the authentic Jewish mystical tradition of Kabbalah centred on Love (Hesed) and used or misused it to gain power over spiritual entities not distinguishing between invoking angels or demons. The Scriptures forbid the occultic practice of summoning spirits- thus the Lurianic mystics generally follow occultic practices which seek power rather than love. Freemasonry and theosophy owe much to this perversion of Kabbalah. True Kabbalah (such as found in Zoharic Kabbalah) warns that to seek power (Gevurah) without Hesed is to enter in to evil the Other Side. The rigid code of legalistic observance found in Shulhan Arukh, that seems to me to be lacking in love, was compiled by a Lurianic Kabbalist Rabbi Joseph Karo (1488-1575) of Safed. He was guided and instructed by a spirit guide a ‘maggid’ or celestial teacher. Rabbi Morris Margolies in his book A Gathering of Angels states:
“Lurianic Kabbalists were also given to summoning angels and demons by using intricate combinations of the names of God, literally numbering in the hundreds. They did not think of this as magic (though, in effect, it was), since God himself was the means by which they were seeking certain ends.”
Thus Lurianic Kabbalism has introduced occultism into Judaism and the Jewish tale of Joseph della Reina is a warning of this perversion of Kabbalah. The movement of the false messiah Sabbetai Zvi (1626-1676) also followed Lurianic Kabbalah and fell into sexual as well as spiritual perversion. The only safe way to enter into the mystical realm is through Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament the God of compassion. In the Eucharist we enter the mystical realm in and through and with the power of his Precious Blood which is the hesed of the Divine Body.
Bloomer explains in this essay that the "mystical union or marriage of the soul with the Heavenly Bridegroom" is really the Eucharist and Eucharistic adoration. Perhaps this is what John Paul II and now Benedict find appealing in Judaism and the Kabbalah.
FATHER JAMES FARFAGLIA'S HOMILY
Lent And Our Spiritual Progress
Without a doubt, Lent is the most demanding time of the year for the true disciple of Christ. Lent provides us an opportunity not only to intensify our spiritual practices, but this penitential season also gives us a unique opportunity to reflect deeply on the progress of our journey towards eternal life. St. Paul reminds us that our entrance into Heaven is not a guaranteed reality when he writes, "Therefore, whoever thinks he is standing secure should take care not to fall" (1 Corinthians 10: 12).
Lent is a time for seriously questioning ourselves about our relationship with God. We might ask whether there are any particular sins or attachments that might prove to be obstacles to our achieving eternal salvation. A serious Lent is not only like a spring cleaning in which we cleanse our souls of the clutter that has been accumulating there, it is also a time when changes in the way we live our lives may be in order.
This Sunday's Gospel passage underscores this theme as Jesus makes it very clear that our decisions and actions do have consequences. Our God is a God of mercy, and he forgives any repentant sinner; however, this forgiveness does not take away from the fact that deliberate rejection of the truth does have a personal cost.
Many people in our present day have experienced profound conversions. The personal testimonies of life changing experiences bear continual witness to the ever-present action of the Holy Spirit in the lives of all those who are searching for happiness and peace.