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Christian rituals, symbols and cult

(R. Rohr, Hope and Mindfulness; From the wild man to the wise man, Munich 2006 and Adam`s Return, German: Endlich Mann Werden, the rediscovery of the initiation Munich 2005; all published by Claudius)

All texts are summaries and excerpts as a compilation for the topic “Rituals, Symbols and Cult” from the writings of P. Richard Rohr; they are only intended for private use.

John the Baptist - a "wild man"

John, who was popular with the people, pointed beyond himself to the one who would not only perform the rite with words and water, but would baptize with fire and the holy spirit (Matt. 3:11). It is about truth and not ritual . The appearance of John was one radical criticism of the existing priestly system. But he did not use his power and popularity with the people for himself.

The fact that Jesus underwent the countercultural initiation rite of John (John 3:22) is also a statement that the old rite no longer worked for some reason. John moved out of his father's temple system proclaiming that God's forgiveness is as available - free, free - as the water of the river. (Luke 3, 4)

Some kind of baptism (initiation) is required to begin the path to spiritual maturity. Fire, water, blood, failure, holy desire can be triggering moments, but a person can only swim in the real sea if he plunges into the central mystery and submerges in it. This is the necessary path from false to true self. Without such a defeat, we interpret practically all religious words and rituals from the perspective of our little ego - and thus wrong ... Religion only succeeds at all if an encounter ..., an "uncanny encounter of the first kind" has taken place. Only in this way do we gain a new freedom, which many call "God".

An uninitiated ego insists on words and rituals because it lacks true inner experience.

The Eucharistic celebration

The Pauline story of the foundation of the Eucharist - the oldest of all such texts - contains echoes of the ritual of drinking from the blood of the initiate and thus entering into communion with his bodily path. This ritual can still be found in initiation rites in Africa today. "As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim his death." (1.Cor.11.26) He developed the idea of ​​a memorial meal for the secret of death. Do not fight against it, do not deny it, do not intellectualize it, but rather "chew on it"! Get intoxicated by the hero's blood / wine until your death becomes one with his death and thus gains meaning. This became the common theory of the Lord's Supper and that's how Jesus wanted it to be understood.

But what did we do with it? We have made it so belittled, so styled and made suitable for the majority that the normal churchgoer no longer even perceives the gross, physical, sexual and even cannibalistic undertones of the chants and the whole celebration. The whole thing was a revolutionary ritual, especially for Jewish men who were not allowed to drink blood under any circumstances.

In view of the similarities with the Hellenistic rituals, Paul also emphasizes the differences between his faith and his rituals: We partake in the “blood of Christ” (1 Cor.12) and are in fellowship with him and not with pagan idols.

The big difference for Paul is that his own rituals are like a move to the resurrection and not just backward-looking commemorationsthat turned the church into a funeral home, more concerned with saving the dead than freeing the living.

Those whom Paul initiates (initiates) become initiated into community with Jesus, who rose from the dead: Death as something to triumph over; one who is exposed as a liar: death, where is your sting? (1 Cor. 15, 56) Paul boasts that he has died more than once (2 Cor. 11), now he lives a life of his own - not his own. The experience that death has no ultimate power is the essence of any true initiation. Such people live in an area beyond our usual fears, in a different reality ...

The cross

Has been often to a mere totem and piece of jewelry. We have turned the Jesus symbol into a mechanical theory of reconciliation that has nothing to do with us. With the cross as a totem, Jesus became a cosmic problem solver, while God became a petty autocrat who is incapable of loving his own creatures. Christian practice became a polite, fearful, indecisive attitude rather than a cosmic love story. We miss the positive, redeeming sense of our own suffering if we only see the cross as something that Jesus did on our behalf. We see no model in the cross and no invitation to get involved in the same process. After the cross lost its transformative pictorial power, our Christian culture has become sick, marked by lewdness and accusations and far more entangled in consumerism and addiction than the so-called pagan cultures.

resurrection

the resurrection comes naturally when we let ourselves die. We must not resolve to want to fabricate our resurrection ourselves. We must move from the cross, from the Necessity of night travel let yourself be convinced, then the resurrection comes as a gift.

Many myths point to this: Parzival's search after the holy grail begins with entering the forest at its darkest point. Dante begins his journey to paradise alone in a dark forest and is first led through purgatory and hell. Darkness and light must not be separated from one another.

When pain and suffering are not transformed, they are usually projected onto others. This deforms personal relationships, social climates and entire regions. The US apparently needs a war every 10 years because pain is not transformed. Untransformed pain is usually pushed away so that it settles in another place that is with other people (cf. Lk 8:26 ... The possessed of Gerasa)

Confession / repentance

In the spiritual life there is no "elsewhere" (scapegoat mechanism). We ourselves are the main problem. My fears, insecurities .. say something about myself first. I have to be aware of that before I give any judgment. But mostly we avoid the problems of the ego, the here and now. Not avoiding it - that is what it is all about when we confess our sins or accept our shadow. This is hard and extremely humbling work.

In reality, what we call sins are often the symptoms of sin. In other words, these are the predictable events of our experiment, outside of the Cycle of death and resurrection to live. We prefer to feel properly guilty about the symptoms rather than face the hard work of changing the underlying illusion. Feelings of guilt keep us trapped in a mechanistic system of reward and punishment instead of moving us to the question: What can I learn from it?

In my experience, a religion of do's and don'ts leaves people in a constant back and forth between deflation and inflation, with a strong undercurrent of Repression and deception.

Seers of all time have recognized the need, of some sort Threshold space to create to see clearly and then to re-enter the world full of freedom and renewed. Francis called his permanent life on the threshold the "life of penance". This shows the actual and true meaning of the word repentance - today, however, it has become almost useless because it has been misunderstood for too long in an individualistic and moralistic way. In the threshold space we deliberately live on the edge, wrestle with the dark side, radically question the norm, keep our hearts open in the midst of self-chosen difficulties. In the threshold space we prefer the chaos of the unconscious to the control system with its explanations and answers. Jesus fasted forty days and forty nights. Then he hungered (Mt 3: 2). It takes a lot of work to discover true and genuine hunger.

Arguably one of the most effective ways to avoid experiencing threshold space is to to live fast, efficiently, successfully and goal-oriented. Or to be super religious on the right or super correct on the left. Nobody likes to live in the uncertainty of waiting, without a clear direction, without meaning and goal. The word that most closely corresponds to this state of affairs Suffer.

religion

A religion that does not acquaint people with what they already are "hidden in God" (cf. Col. 3, 3) is part of the problem and not part of the solution. Such a religion leaves people wriggling in the trap of illusions and guilt, and foolishly calls it “good news”. Such news is anything but good. Instead of encouraging people to draw joyfully from God's abundant source, it stops depending on the religious inventory. One could even say that the whole of the Bible is about bringing Adam back to his starting point - the Garden of Eden - which he foolishly left.

A healthy religion gives people a basic sense of awe and wonder. It gives an otherwise empty universe the magic of a great concealing secret. It fills people with mindfulness towards all things and living beings.

Church services

How many years, how many church festivals do we need to overcome our resistance to dying.

The Path of transformation from death to resurrectiong is the only - great and always denied - message. In the same way and no other way we will be saved - even if many are embarrassed to use such words. Somehow we are quite satisfied with our misfortune, interrupted by solid services, as it should be for ordinary Christians. But Jesus never asked us to worship him and hold services for him. We are to follow him on his "unavoidable three-day journey".

Sometimes the rituals themselves involved severe disillusionment (For example, after the Mass, the robes are taken off, the candles are extinguished, there is deconecration, laicization, annulment, dispensation, the great Wizard of Oz is exposed as a mortal man ... - all of this means that the sacred itself becomes the unholy again can) so that the initiate did not run the risk of confusing the ritual with the necessary experience of dying. When you see what Catholics made of Mass and Protestants of the Bible, you understand how easy it is to confuse the medium with the message. Catholics go to mass regularly because we are slow to learn and slow to transform. Jesus only went once.

Protestants argue about Bible, doctrines and moral questions instead of following Jesus to new places that may not be safe.

The modern quasi-churches delight in religious entertainment. We all prefer our rituals to anything real and risky. If religion does not demystify its own forms, it inevitably becomes idolatry. A new encounter with the sacred is more difficult to maintain than a relationship with objects. Words and totems. We prefer the familiar, and God is never fully trusted. He is “wild”, most of them are afraid of the presence

The integration of evil

Most people believe that religion should only be about the positive things: healing, helping and hoping. I make the opposite assumption: the way to transform the pain of life is to uncover the "wounded" (shadowed, dark, negative ..) side of all things and to bring the wound (and the dark) into a sacred area ... Consciously including the negative - this is the real meaning of Jesus' death on the cross.

The Bible teaches us that goodness in man arises more from learning from mistakes, looking at wounds and one's own shadows, than from avoiding all mistakes. The false striving for the perfect, which can only be found in God anyway, often serves as a wonderful disguise for our egoism. Like Adam, we strive to "be like God". (1. Mos 3, 6)

Our life takes place in the process of transformation, laboriously, in the midst of a mixture of good and evil, in a multitude of opposites that yearn for reconciliation. A person who stands by his limitations and weeps for his sins can achieve a lot more than one who does not recognize his limitations and sins at all.

Evil doesn't go away when we suppress it or hate it. You cannot solve a problem simply by condemning it, either on a personal or institutional level. Salvation comes through forgiveness of sins, not avoidance of sins.

In New Mexico people invented kachinas and clowns to represent the dark and light side of things: the good mother - the bad mother and ogre, the good father - the bad father. The bad mother and bad father are introduced in the rite so that we will not be unduly shocked when we encounter them in real life.

Good liturgy and good religion know that you have to stage the whole story; only then can the whole field be recognized in which the Wheat along with the weeds grows. (Mt 13, 29)

Where the presence of the negative is revealed, we are denied false innocence and a real victory is made possible. Stand in the countries of the East Dragons, grimaces and monstersguarding almost every door in Africa, Asia and Oceania. We prefer a waving Mickey Mouse or a sentimental blonde angel.

Paul paints a modern picture of the screwed-up nature of the human personality. The law becomes a temptation for people, a large part of the attraction of the forbidden lies precisely in the fact that there is a law against it (Romans 7: 7-8). The law is at best able to name sin. Information does not create transformation.

The dark power, the dark secret must be brought to lightto lose its attractiveness and power, formerly e.g. in confession. At the beginning of the mass there is a public confession of sin, similar to the AA meeting: “Hello, my name is N.N. and I am a sinner. Lord, have mercy. “Now the congregation has a correct name: a congregation of needy sinners.

The humor is an important form of ritual disenchantment: The Pueblo Indians have clowns who ridicule and laugh at evil. The devil has to be laughed at and robbed of his numinous character if we don't end up worshiping evil, death or the obscene as in Satanism and in some forms of heavy metal music.

The Ability to laugh at evil and relativize symbols - without completely saying goodbye - is a characteristic of a healthy person. Old nuns who worked with me in prison could laugh with the prostitutes and crack jokes with the suitors. An old priest here in New Mexico repeatedly refills the holy dust in the healing shrine and simply takes the dust from a mound of earth behind the church without having to justify himself. He knows that it is not the dust that does the healing.

Zadok, Annas, Caiaphas and the Pharisees represent a priestly commitment to the ritual system as an end in itself. In contrast to this, the prophets - Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, Hosea, ... and Jesus always relativized the forms and pointed to the true and essential core of the matter.

All forms and rituals are nothing but the finger pointing to the moon. Occasionally the shapes need to be moved out of the way so that one can see the moon for itself. (cf. Isa 1: 11-18; Jer 7: 4-15)

Many young Catholic priests love the mystification through ritual and end up with a strongly cultic understanding of priesthood. It is obvious that they are not initiated.

Symbol, ritual and liturgy

The possibility of creating a threshold space (see: Point 5) is ritual and liturgy, that is, the conscious use of movements, symbols, gestures, works of art and powerful words.

A good ritual is always about life and death, but in a concise manner.

After we have experienced "it" in a condensed space, we begin to see the secret everywhere. Temple, church and mosque only serve to set us on the way and teach us how to see.

Good liturgy and powerful rituals are more important today than ever to lead us out of sleepwalking into a real threshold situation, especially since the economy and the media (after discrediting family, church, marriage, school and justice) are the only remaining institutions that preform our perceptual grids.

The ritual of naming and drawing

Naming: "Your name will no longer be called Jacob, but Israel ..." (Genesis 32:19, 31). The discovery that a person shares in the true self.) Is often expressed by giving a man or woman a new name; It's about a new identity, a new personality: Sarai becomes Sara, Saul becomes Paul, Simon becomes Peter. For each of these people, the goal in life, the point of reference and the calling changed, and all because of an inner breakthrough experience.

Catholics once had the custom of Confirmation adopt a new name.

In initiation and passage rites one could see how the public proclamation of the name restored a profound dignity and identity.

Newborns in Christian families in India (Kerala) do not yet have a name. The child is observed for a few days and weeks after its birth and has no significant social identity until the observed character traits and the call of God come together and are determined by naming during baptism.

The same is true of the Native American vision quest; here initiates are not allowed to return to the village until they have come to know a holy name and have met the great spirit.

The same intuition is also found in lovers who give each other pet names, some use secret, sacred names to invoke God. Where such a personal name exists, there is usually an intimate I-You relationship, which reads: "I do not belong with myself. The other person's gaze gives me my real name, that of a lover."

drawing: Jacob is injured in the hip by the angel. The wound signals that we have mastered the route and completed the necessary cycle. Jacob holds out his wrestling match until he receives the blessing. The real blessing he receives is fighting all night even though his hip was injured. The body then becomes a lifelong preaching, reminding us that our wound is our blessing. People with disabilities potentially have a certain head start. What used to happen through fasting, circumcision, ritual injuries, head shaving, etc. can be found today again in a secular form in the need of young people for tattoos and piercings.

The transition from false to true self (which needs to be clearly marked) is so significant that Catholics say of some sacraments that they are indestructible signs. The new name, the water ritual, the slap in the face, the full-body anointing with chrism, the sign of the cross - these were all drawings of the body that remind us that we carry inner change and our dignity on our physical selves. True initiation puts an indelible seal on, gives a sacred name, but only if it is accompanied by a sacred wound that reminds us that life is hard.

Male and female symbols

For men, a symbol and rite must be woodcut-like, brutal, honest, harsh, otherwise it cannot penetrate the wall of unconsciousness and denial that men build up around them. Men are fascinated by images that have to do with adventure and violence, male initiation rites of all cultures have to do with blood, sweat, nudity, physical endurance, with earth and dirt and a certain brutality by inflicting wounds.

Gentle sacraments do nothing for men. In most countries the church became a woman's business, boys as young as 12 years no longer want to dress up and be acolytes.

Most official church rituals address the female psyche far more than the male. Despite the thoroughly patriarchal structure of the church, its symbols and liturgy are very feminine: aesthetically controlled, deliberately colored, lace and silk, incense and candles, doll-like statues, stylized forms that are reminiscent of choreography - everything is pretty to look at.

The evangelicals, who are alien to these forms, rely on sentimental works of art, sentimental music and sentimental speeches.

None of this feeds the mind of the average man. For the man from the street or for a normal worker, the church ritual and the sacred ceremony are hostile foreign countries instead of sacred space. He's bored to death. Men learn better through action and movement, through ritualized behavior than when they are supposed to listen, have group discussions and describe their feelings in words.

Jesus and the church rituals

The most official church rituals (whether Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant or Free Church) in contrast to what we see Jesus doing.

Our traditions have created signs that symbolize the sanctuary: stained glass windows, icons, crosses, choir vestments, ornate pulpits .. Jesus stands for something completely different. He hardly used a symbol from a temple or synagogue without at least changing its meaning. That's what he called (Jesus) himself "light of the world" (Joh 8, 12) alluding to the festive torch on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles or at the Last Supper, he describes himself as the bread of the Passover meals.

Jesus acts mostly outside of the official holy precincts. He mostly does his work on the street, in private houses or in the great outdoors. He enjoys physical contact in general and with women in particular. He has no problems with the dead, the sick, known and secret sinners, with lepers and ritually unclean.

He uses porridge made from saliva and earth, carries out ablutions on the banks of the Jordan or the pond of Siloam, creates his own system of symbols, while at the same time relying on the cultural and religious symbols that his people knew and understood.

Jesus broke liturgical rulesSo he turned the ritual toast over several goblets during the Passover meal into the one goblet from which everyone drank. He also told the disciples to drink blood. (on the other hand, cf. Leviticus 17, 10-20) Jesus also shared communion with Judas, who was clearly unworthy. The whole behavior of Jesus is much more anti-structure than structure; the liturgical protocol does not seem to have been in the least bit his concern. (cf. the sometimes meticulous liturgical regulations in many a seminary).

Jesus did not use formal or academic language, he spoke dialect or dialect, used popular metaphors about everyday occurrences from the normal life of farmers, fishermen and housewives.

That seemed more important to him Outsiders to be understood as by the insiders. Title, distinguished origins and status symbols were indifferent to him. He spoke about clothing only twice: once in his criticism of the priestly tassels and phylacteries, once that only pagans care about such things.

Jesus was clearly a layperson with no formal training. We have created ordinances in honor of Jesus, who never asked anyone to be worshiped, only discipleship. We create intricate ceremonies for a man who is unlikely to ever have attended such ceremonies.

Jesus acted strongly as a man and strongly as a layman in his religious practice. He did not address couch potatoes and security fanaticsbut to fishermen, business people and resistance fighters. The church types, on the other hand, made life difficult for him. Statistics around the world show how few men around the world attend worship and men who are interested in religion are taught to be feminine, sensitive and ecclesiastical; for most men in the world that is nothing, it doesn't even speak to them.

But Jesus warns against fundamental rejection and opposition; Jesus calls for a positive and open attitude towards reality. Every no must come from a preceding, fundamental yes. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos and Ezekiel turned sharply against the court prophets, the sacrifice in the temple, the selfish priesthood, formalized rituals, or the idea that salvation has something to do with ancestry or group membership. But no one could doubt that the encounter with the “Holy One of Israel” alone had given them their critical, pressing words. The attempts of Jesus and Paul were not anti-Semitic, but turned against any religion that serves itself rather than serving God or the transformation of man into the divine. Religion is optimal when it points beyond itself, as in the case of John the Baptist, and it is worst when it replaces reality with rituals, the contents with containers, and the wine with skins.

The Franciscan Richard Rohrwho heads the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico Pioneer of a spiritual renewal and has been committed to the liberation of men for many years. He asks the men who come to him to say goodbye to macho behavior, empty status symbols, careerism of all kinds, false strength and superficial spirituality. Instead, an appreciation of femininity and masculinity, new honesty, depth and authenticity. And it is unmistakable in his books that he sorely misses all of this in institutionalized Christianity. His impulses to revive the almost forgotten knowledge about initiation and even to derive it from the Bible are at the same time a clear criticism of a self-loving, immobile and superficial religious religiosity.