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Re: [steiner] A brief history of Lent

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  • DoctorStarman@aol.com
    tma4cbt@juno.com writes: ... ********There s much more that could be said about Lent, and I ll put a little bit here about it for anyone interested. This is
    Message 1 of 2 , Feb 6, 2005
      tma4cbt@... writes:

      Written by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J. for the Marian Catechist in 1989

      It seems certain that a Lenten season preceding Easter goes back to
      the time of the Apostles. The length of time varied. But by the
      Council of Nicea (325 A.D.), which was the first general council of
      the Church, Lent is to be observed for forty days.
      The number forty has a long biblical history: The forty days' fasts
      of Moses, Elijah and especially Our Lord in the desert.
      During the early days of the Church, the observance of fast was very
      strict. One meal was allowed per day and, even in that meal, meat
      and fish were forbidden. By the fifteenth century, the one meal was
      taken at noon.


      ********There's much more that could be said about Lent, and I'll put a little bit here about it for anyone interested. This is not quoting Steiner but the result of my own spitritual investigation, but I'd be delighted to hear if anyone knows what Steiner said.

         First, the early Christians did not baptize babies, only fully grown adults. This was because, as the entry of the Christ into the earth had changed forever the world of Man----- in the mantra we members of the anthroposophical society use, Steiner called it "der zeiten wendt" or the turning-point of Time----- the opportunity to make a new beginning was now open to souls. This was the "good news" or gospel message. Now, people could hear the message but still not be sure they were quite ready to make the big change, so in early Christian communities they would be sent to someone who had already been so "born again" to study in preparation for what we would call today simply "becoming a Christian". This was not, however, a mere superficial change like in our present New Age spiritual supermarket where people change religions all the time, but a truly life-changing event. You were leaving behind all the old and corrupt and starting a new life. Accordingly, you would be baptized with immersion in water, as John the Baptist had done, symbolically washing away all the old sins and errors of the fallen pagan ways. This could be done ONCE ONLY (if you "fell away" again after this, there was no second chance) and was done in the spring.

         [ Incidentally, the origin of John's 'baptism' was that we had become so immersed in our physical bodies by his time that the old death-like rites of initiation would no longer work, the ones in which we were placed in the "temple sleep" and the soul separated from the body after ritual purification and preparation; so he, on his own, found that immersing people in water just up to the point where they felt they were beginning to drown woulkd cause a momentary separation of body and soul, which, if the person was prepared for it by prayer and fasting,  could result in the "review" of the life just lived beginning, as Dr. Moody discovered in the accounts of near-death experiences---- the tunnel, the review. meeting a spiritual being or light, and so on, were all experienced by those baptized. They thus could feel they had done with their old life and contacted a being who would help them to start a new one.

          Also, when I say the old pagan ways were 'corrupt' I don't mean as they were originally but what they had become, in case people trying to call themselves modern-day pagans get their hackles up. The early Christians saw lots of good in the Greek/Roman religion-----Hercules is painted on the catacomb walls right alongside Jesus and Moses---- but they were adamant in saying that the actual gods Zeus, Hera and so on had been replaced by demonic spirits who impersonated the former, and deceived the people even to the point of distorting the truth that the time had come for God to become Man, as happened in the Baptism at the Jordan, into the reverse, that a Roman Senate could declare a man was now a God (Caesar). They would not participate in that worship, which was a corruption of the truths known by 'pagans' like Plato and Aristotle. ]
         
          The main festival for the early Christians was Easter, as it was not the birth of the man Jesus that had changed the world but the resurrection of the Christ. So, new Christians were usually baptized and first participated in the "love feast" (the sharing of the blessed bread and wine) at that time. They would study scripture, pray and fast up to that time, in preparation. So it came about that people looking to become Christians would be fasting especially in the period leading up to Easter Sun-Day.

          How it became 40 days could be called a curious example of a sort of mirror-effect. Jesus, the Great Initiate, sought to become the vehicle for a spiritual being who far transcended any other that had ever incarnated in a man before. His life leading up to the age of 30 (a Saturn cycle of 28-29 years) had been spent being initiated in Egypt, in India, etc., but like the Buddha he had not been content with these spirit-paths. He knew they had weakened and that more was needed; so, about the age of 30 he came to his cousin John to be baptized. No doubt he had done preparation before this, as John no doubt insisted on all preparing for it, but in this "new start" the Christos entered into the man Jesus. This "epiphany" (meaning 'to appear outside' ----the God who had always only been known only within you now appeared outside in a form that could be seen with eyes and touched with hands) was remembered as Jan. 6th by the early Christians. But a mortal man is a fallible vessel for the Christ. He/It entered Jesus, but now had to contend with and master his flesh. Accordingly, Jesus immediately went into the desert for 40 days of fasting and, as the Edgar Cayce Readings put it, "meeting that which had been his undoing in the beginning", what had caused the Fall of Man which the soul we call Jesus participated in with us. This is threefold, three 'Temptations'. One is of the astral body, one of the etheric body and one of the physical.  [Perhaps next Sunday I can write a bit more about these as they can be experienced if there's enough interest.]

         My point here is that for Jesus, the Christ came into him and THEN he had to go through 40 days of fasting and overcoming the flesh ---- which actually happened for him in what we now would call January and February ("februarius", by the way, was the month of purification by fire to the Romans)---- where this 40 days of fasting shortly before spring became for the early Christians something they did leading up to connecting with the Christ, when new converts would be baptized at Easter. [ This is also the origin of the contemplating of the events of Holy Week leading up to Easter, on reading John 14-17 --- Christ's farewell message at the Last Supper--- and on meditating on the 14 Stations of the Cross: all were devices to prepare prospective Christians for their baptism and entrance into the communion with other saved souls. People who were already Christians would lead aspirants through these as preparatory exercises for connecting to the Christ, and after awhile would do it again and again to "repeat their vows", so to speak.]

         So, where Jesus was baptized and THEN spent 40 days fasting, Christians would fast for 40 days BEFORE baptism---- as we were now on the other side of the Turning-Point of Time so their ritual was a mirror of what Jesus did. And still in our time this period of the early spring can be a productive time for fasting which can make Easter-time a different experience than it is without it.

         For those who don't know about it, it starts with Ash Wednesday which this year is February 9th. Since Easter is a different day every year the dates of Lent also vary.

      To Be Continued....

      Starman
      www.DrStarman.net
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