We have been discussing the Church Festivals which occur in the first half of the Liturgical year and how these festivals reveal to us the story of the Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ and at the same time reveal to us the great stages along the Path of Spiritual Unfoldment which are open to all Christians.
Have you ever been homesick? I mean really home sick. Maybe when you were a child and the first time you were separated from your parent. Or maybe it was when you came to this country for the first time with all of its strangeness and fear. Or maybe you have experienced the loss of a loved one through death and you have missed that one with the same feeling of emptiness. It is a horrible feeling, you can almost feel it physically. Well that is the same hunger and emptiness the Soul feels separated from God.
This hunger exists in every human heart which nothing can satisfy or appease. Many who do not know its source try to satisfy it with money or success or fame or relationships or alcohol or drugs or prestige or power. Perhaps they try to satisfy it by trying to live their lives through others, a spouse, or their children. Whatever the substitutes are, in the end that is all they aresubstitutes. Substitutes for the real, the lasting, or perhaps I should say the everlasting, the eternal, the sublime. The Source of this longing, though most do not know it, is a homesickness brought about by the Soul-memory of our spiritual abode, whence we came and towards which we are now on our return journey. Your True Self came forth from the Throne of Bliss, the eternal abode of Peace, but it comes forth unconscious of its true nature and your journey and task in this Life is to discover who you truly are and where you are going.
In this Journey, if we consciously turn toward the Eternal as St. Paul as encouraged us to do in his epistles, there are steps or we could call them milestones. In some books they are called Initiations.
We have talked about the Birth of Christ as the 1st Initiation or step where the physical body is brought under control. We discussed the Baptism of our Lord as the control of the emotional nature and of the mental body of the Christian in the 2nd Initiation or step.
Now we come to the 3rd Initiation on the Path to Self-discovery. Here we find the Initiate reaches a stage of progress where his Higher Self is able to manifest in fullness down here a lower level of existence. Now the Spiritual Pilgrim has brought his physical body under submission, his emotional nature under control, and his mental body into alignment with the Will of the Most High. Now it is at this stage that the Spiritual Self, the True Self Shines through.
Here on the Mount called Tabor and in another place in the Gospels it is called Mt Hermon. Both Tabor and Hermon in the Hebrew language mean "High Place". So if we look at it from a symbolical viewpoint we realize that this experience of Spiritual unity with the True Self must occur in a High Place of Consciousness. We are called to come apart from the vast multitude to go up higher in thought and aspiration, higher than the masses of people. Our thought life must be on a higher plane. Remember the words of the Sursum Corda in the Mass: "Lift up your hearts" "We lift them up unto the Lord." We can no longer be given to the small petty selfish thoughts and desires; we must strive for the Majestic Mountain Consciousness which looks beyond the limitations of time and circumstance.
We must take with us Peter, whose name means rock and therefore represents the Will within or we can say it represents the firm rock-like Faith. We must take John whose name in Hebrew means "Jehovah bestows mercy." You will remember John was the beloved disciple and therefore represents Love. And finally we must take with us James, whose name in Hebrew means supplanter; he represents Activity. So we see for one to ascend the Holy Mountain we take with us our complete triple nature, completely harmonized and under the authority of the Christ-self. Spirit, Soul, Matter Mind, Emotions, Body Will, Love, Activity.
And when this complete synthesis and union of our whole nature happens what then do we encounter? Then a whole new vision of Life appears. All is transfigured and transformed. Let us look at some of what will appear.
Moses represents the LAW and the OLD Testament. He is the embodiment of all that has gone before, all that we have been, the good and the bad. He is the PAST. Elias is the greatest of the Prophets. He represents all that we shall become, all that is to come. The Prophet points to the FUTURE. Christ stands between the PAST and the FUTURE. He is the ETERNAL NOW. In the Book of Revelation Christ says "I am the Apha and the Omega, the beginning and the end." The one who was, who is, and who is to come.
At this point of Oneness and Unity with the Christ nature we have the opportunity to bring the Spirit to bear upon the soul and body and the whole personality becomes enlightened. We bring a little bit of the heaven life into this life to share it with those around us. Through this process the Life of the Spirit becomes dominant in our lives. Look at the lives of persons of great spiritual accomplishment like Mother Teresawhat light she brought into our dark world!! Jesus said, "Ye are the Light of the World." What is the light supposed to do? Shine. . .
Later in the Eucharist the Priest will pray "and here we offer unto thee our selves, our souls and bodies to be living sacrifices unto thee." This is our calling as Christians: to provide a doorway, to be that doorway through which Heaven may find entrance to Earth.
The Right Reverend William S.H. Downey
Regionary Bishop for the USA
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