SACRAMENT OF ORDINATION

PART TWO

Chapter 15 Section 1

 

            From the Philosophy of Sacramental Initiation by Holy Order of MANS

 

I

 

            The true priesthood is a universal order or state of being. It is not tied to any church or organization or religion. When you are ordained into the priesthood you become part of a Solar body of priests; you are a member of the Eternal Brotherhood. You may serve as a priest in the Holy Order of Mans, in one of the Christian churches, as a Buddhist monk or a Tibetan lama, but these organizations are just vehicles for your priestly service.

 

            In the future you may be on this orb or on some other orb; you may even be a physician or a plumber and not function outwardly in a priestly capacity, but once you are a priest you are always a priest, and you will always be teaching CHRISTianity no matter how exotic the form.

 

            There are two paths of service or two ways of traveling in the universe. One is the return to the Father and the Mind of God, the path of the saint. This is the path of no return, of complete absorption into the Creator or the return to the Great Self, as some of the ancients have put it. The other is the path of the Teacher. These are the roustabouts, the cosmic adventurers who return to give service unto their fellow man.

 

            Now whether you are a priest or a master teacher, you are still a teacher on the level in which you have the ability to teach, it makes no difference. You can function on the level, in which you are adequate to function, in which you have taken the spiritual rights and initiation. You have accepted the responsibility of a universal path. You are a priest for a purpose and that is to serve the Creator and the great Christos in this solar system until you have been freed of it and free to go on your way.

 

            It is a life of endless service and endless joy. And once you have become a priest no matter where you may find yourself in creation, you will eventually work your way back to the priesthood and back to service.

 

            This is why we see there are many who come here to join us who know nothing of the work but know they have to join the priesthood; they know that they HAVE to, they have known for years. They know they must become priests, and then they try to get the necessary training, which is required for them to do so. This is so because they are priests, they have already received the eternal vows; they are merely seeking to fulfill them in this incarnation.

 

            Now one of the questions that is often asked of our priests by members of other faiths is: Where do we get our authority? From whence comes our authority to ordain? Do we claim an apostolic succession? Do we claim to be connected with a traditional authority or body of believers? What right do we have to claim what we do and to perform as we do?

 

            Our answer is simple and clear. We receive our authority through Jesus Christ Himself by revelation. This is a truth that we simply declare. We do not argue or discuss it; it simply is the truth. We prove it by our actions and the fruits of our labors. The proof is in the pudding. The proof is there for anyone to see in the faces and bodies of our brothers and sisters, in the regeneration and illumination that is manifest in them.

 

            In fact, Divine revelation is the sole source of all authority. No churchman of any faith would deny this assertion because even the authority of the faith to which he belongs is ultimately based on revelation. Churchmen of today tend to emphasize more temporal sources of authority such as the organization to which they belong, the tradition that they hold or follow, or history as they have accepted it. Still, no member of any faith would deny the fact that all authority resides in the Word of Christ as revealed to men, though they might question whether a particular revelation is valid or not. Most established religions today tend to adopt the comfortable attitude that the only revelations that are valid are the ones their creed is founded on and those are safely in the past.

 

            The following short discussion of the history and growth of Holy Orders in the Christian church is given for the purpose of having our priests understand the basis of the thinking and the theology of the clergy of other faiths and what they mean when they use such concepts as "apostolic succession" and "right of authority" and "Christian ministry."

 

            According to the belief of the majority of professed Christians, a belief that was largely unquestioned until the Reformation, the Christian ministry is three-fold and consists of bishops, priests, and deacons.

 

            Evidence shows the existence of bishops in several centers of Christianity in the early second century and in all centers by the year two hundred. The origins of this order are obscure and scholars have many theories about it because it is difficult -- using only the approaches of the historical method and ignoring the wisdom teachings and the symbolical mysteries -- to interpret the facts that may be gleaned from the New Testament.

 

            For example Jesus appointed twelve men as his representatives (Mark 3:14.) Their number corresponding to that of the patriarchs suggests that they were intended to be prince-rulers of the New Israel. The number was preserved after the defection of Judas by the appointment of Matthias (Acts 1:26.) To most scholars, who have little understanding of the nature of living symbolism, the use of the number twelve has no more significance than this.

 

            At some stage the title "apostle" applied to these men, was extended to some others such as Paul (I Corinthians 9:1), Barnabas (Acts 14:14), Andronicus and Junia (Romans 16:7).

 

            The apostles also ordained seven men to assist them (Acts 6:1-6). These may possibly have been the first elders or presbyters (priests) who formed a kind of council with the apostles in Jerusalem (Acts 15:2) and elders were appointed in local churches (Acts 14:23); or they may have been the first deacons.

 

            These elders were on occasion called episcopoi or overseers (guardians or bishops) (Acts 20:28).

 

            From the epistles of Paul there emerges the picture of Paul himself as an apostle of full authority. Under him there were subordinate missionaries of apostolic rank such as Timothy, while in the local churches there were overseers or bishops and deacons.

 

            In the pastoral epistles, the later epistles, the three-fold hierarchy of bishops, presbyters, (or elders or priests), and deacons seems to be established.

 

            The reason scholars have difficulty in relating and interpreting these facts is because they are uncertain as to whether or not it is function rather than order or office that is in mind. Whether all presbyters are priests or episcopoi or overseers or only some of them and what the link between them and the apostles was considered to be.

 

            There are various theories that have been propounded about this. There is, one, that the authority passed from the Apostles to the presbyters and the institution of bishops was an usurpation of that authority. Two, that bishops came into existence as a distinct order by the settling in particular localities of apostolic men such as Timothy and Titus. And three, that bishops were created by the elevation of one presbyter in each locality to the position of chief or presiding head by possibly the direction of one or another of the apostles.

 

            The emergence of the three-fold order is attributed by many to be the initiative of the apostles themselves and it is closely associated with the idea of apostolic succession -- that is, that the bishops are the successors of the apostles.

 

            Episcopacy is a word, which means the office of a bishop, but it also means the system of spiritual hierarchy in church government, which comprises the three distinct orders, bishops, priests, deacons. Fundamental to the idea of episcopacy is the principle of apostolic succession.

 

            Apostolic succession as it was first understood was primarily historical. That is, it meant succession to a particular chair or to an office, to the bishopric of a particular church and not simply to the possession of Episcopal orders or higher powers.

 

            The bishop of any community had been entrusted with the chair of his office in succession to a predecessor who in his turn had been the recognized holder of the office and so on back to the foundation of the community. If the church had been founded or organized by an apostle then there was direct formal connection between its chair or office of the episcopate and the apostles.

 

            Toward the end of the century, the second century, the historical succession was given a sacramental interpretation, that is, that the succession or the authority of the office was primarily the transmission of a peculiar gift of spiritual power to the individual by means of a particular sign or ceremony.  In other words, Episcopal consecration - whereby the gift and the power to transmit been handed down in an unbroken line from one of the original apostles.

 

            The bishop of the second century was the chief liturgical minister. He was charged with the spiritual welfare of his flock. He was the one who baptized, celebrated the communion, ordained, absolved, controlled finances, settled matters of dispute.

 

            As congregations grew in size and number it became necessary either to have more bishops or to delegate some of their functions to others. In certain areas the first of these possibilities was adopted. In other areas the second of the possible courses was followed.

 

            Villages and churches were entrusted to presbyters under the supervision of the bishop and this practice became the most widespread in western Europe and it has come down to us today. Today the bishop retains as his exclusive right only the powers to confirm, to ordain and to consecrate the holy oils and chrism.

 

Presbyters or Priests

 

            As mentioned above the account of the appointing of the seven (Acts 6:1-6) may refer to the institution of the first presbyters or priests. The word "priest" actually comes from the word "presbyter".

 

            If this interpretation is not accepted as the basis of the creation of the first Christian priests, there is also the factor of the Jewish synagogues that existed at the same time.

 

            This arrangement is closely parallel to that which existed in the early Christian church.

 

            Second, there is the constitution of the church at Jerusalem . After the martyrdom of James the son of Zebedee (Acts 12:2) the twelve were dispersed, and James the brother of Jesus became the president of a council, which included presbyters (Acts 15:6-13). Here there is a double parallel with the Jewish Sanhedrin under the high priest and with the bishop and his presbyteral council which is found later in all centers of Christianity.

 

            Finally, there is the fact that some of the early Christian Teachers, most notably Paul, were also initiates of the universal mysteries, and so were able to implant the universal order of the Priesthood into the growing body of the Christian community. Although the presbyterate or the priesthood eventually formed the backbone of the church insofar as its members became the parish priests of the medieval and modern periods, in the first centuries it is not easy to differentiate the episcopate because with the exception of ordination, and in the west, confirmation, a presbyter or a priest could perform all of the functions of a bishop. Nevertheless he did so as the bishop's assistant. The presbyter taught, baptized, and celebrated only insofar as he had the bishop's personal permission to do so.

 

 

Deacons

 

            According to the traditional view the seven of Acts 6, were the first deacons and indeed it was in later years a widespread custom to limit their number to seven in any one city. The title "deacon" is not, however, used in that passage, which could also mean the origin of the first presbyters as we have already seen.

 

            The word "deacon" comes directly from the Greek word  diakonos, which means to be a servant or to minister. Where Jesus says in Mark 10:45, "The son of man came not to be ministered unto but to minister," the literal translation is to "be a deacon."  Paul, when he says in Romans, "I magnify my ministry" is literally saying in Greek, "my deaconing."

 

            Thus the wholeness of Christ's ministry, undifferentiated in Christ Jesus Himself, was gradually divided between the three orders and by the time of the later pastoral epistles it seems clear that the three orders existed, that is episcopoi (overseers) or bishops, presbyters (elders), or priests, and diakonos (ministers) or deacons.

 

            The three-fold ministry was not initially a graded hierarchy, that is, a series of offices through which an individual might advance. Rather they were considered functions, each with its own power and authority and value and equally so.

 

            A deacon might remain a deacon all his life. This was because the various orders were regarded as functions rather than as offices. For the harmonious progression of the church's life all were necessary.

 

            This understanding arose in part from the conception of the church as an organism that required for its life and witness both the continuing ministry of Christ and a structure visible to all. The three-fold ministry has continued up to the present day in many churches although both its authority and necessity were called in question in the Reformation.

 

            The reformers, notably Luther, began by challenging the corruption of the church which they saw as stemming from an inaccurate interpretation of the gospel. This led to the rethinking of the doctrine of the church and its hierarchical form of organization. Luther's two characteristic teachings were justification by faith, and the priesthood of all believers, which implied a denial of the traditional ministry.

 

            The intention of Luther and of Lutheranism was to re-assert the ministry of the whole church as a community with a mission to the world. Luther believed that the sphere of Faith's works was worldly society and its order and this meant that the church moved out of the cloister and into ordinary life. It also meant a new style of life for the ministry. Ministers were encouraged to marry, and they were not thought of as a separate order in the church. All that mattered was that they should be duly called.

 

            These characteristic ideas were developed more or less by the other reformers such as Calvin, although Calvinism emphasizes the ministry quite a bit more. Calvin believed that he was restoring the original form of ministry as it existed in New Testament times. Although Calvinism (later Presbyterianism) gave special emphasis to the ministers, it also fostered the idea of democracy among its members for the congregations had the right to choose their ministers by vote and they could replace him by vote.

 

            Throughout the centuries the role of the minister in the church has grown progressively similar in all churches in the Reform tradition including the Congregationalists, the Baptists, the Presbyterians, etc., just as the offices of eldership in Presbyterian churches and deaconate in Congregational and Baptist churches have grown more like each other.

 

            It was this need especially as it presented itself in America, together with the conviction that the episcopate (or bishopric) and presbyterate (or priesthood) were the same office and that the Methodist movement had been vindicated by its fruits that led Wesley, who was a priest in the Church of England, to take the step of ordaining his own ministers, a practice continued by the large Methodist communities throughout the world. The superintendent ministers of the Methodist church in the United States are called bishops, but episcopal succession or apostolic succession is not retained.

 

            Pentecostal and similar groups lay little stress upon a separated ministry. Pentecostal groups in particular attach great importance to charismatic gifts and the ability to evoke experiences of conversion among their leaders but none to ordination or office as such. The tendency is, however, that as these churches become more established, as separated and a salaried ministry that receives some formal education, does emerge in their midst.

 

            The term "order" (from the Latin word ordo, plural ordines) was adopted by the church from Roman civil life and was first used to mean both the clergy and the laity. It gradually, however, came to mean some office to which a person had specifically been admitted by a bishop and authorized to perform its duties.

 

There developed seven different grades in the ordained ministry, which comprised the minor orders of porter (doorkeeper), lector (reader), exorcist, and acolyte (altar assistant) and the major orders of sub-deacon, deacon, and priest.

 

            A person who is going to be ordained to the priesthood must first go through the four minor orders one by one and then the three major orders, finally resulting in the ordination to the priesthood.

 

            In the very early days the bishopric was considered an order apart from the priesthood but later the bishop and the priest were considered part of the same order which is the priesthood or sacerdotes.

 

            In the earlier centuries there is no evidence that a person was required to pass by regular steps from lower orders to higher orders. In fact even laymen could pass directly to any office in the church, including bishop. But by the ninth or tenth centuries it had become the rule that person must progress from the lower to the higher orders and that he should do so at regular intervals of time.

 

            These requirements are still observed today. It is not permissible for instance to receive two major orders on the same day. However, in most episcopally governed churches the minor orders are either being eliminated or given much less emphasis or gradually combined with others, so that today there is a simpler form of progression through the grades of Holy Orders.

 

            Despite the many differences that exist among all the Christian denominations the principle which all of them would have to maintain if they wish to keep the authority of their own tradition is that the one essential ministry in the church is that of Christ, God's Word to man made known in the Spirit by revelation, and that whatever the authority the various ministries must have within the churches, it derives from Him alone rather than from any external source.

 


SACRAMENT OF ORDINATION

PART TWO

            From the Philosophy of Sacramental Initiation by Holy Order of MANS

 Section II

 

            Undoubtedly the priesthood is as old as the earth itself and its origins point to a still more ancient source -- the Christos, the Lord of the Sun.

 

            From the dawning of consciousness man was a Sun worshipper because he knew instinctively that behind the solar orb which gave him all light, life, and warmth must be the God of all. Primitive man was so simple and childlike in his devotion to the Sun that he was able to approach without the help of theology the truth of Christ's teaching that, "Only through me shall ye see the face of the Father."

 

            The earliest rituals known to man were rituals of sun worship. The first priests were priests of the Sun-god. The greatest religions of the past and all the mystery schools of antiquity had their foundation in the worship of the Solar Deity.

 

            The mysteries of old were the paths of initiation that led the initiate closer to union with the great and timeless Christos and one of the necessary steps on this path was the initiation of ordination to the Priesthood.

 

            The Christian church of today repudiates this connection with the mysteries of antiquity and denies that there existed a priesthood of Christ before the coming of Jesus. But I am sure the Master would not deny it because He knew that He had come to fulfill and reveal the mysteries.

 

            Jesus took the mysteries out of the temples and secret places and lived them openly before the world and made them a fact of life for all.

 

            St. Augustine knew that in Christ Jesus had been revealed as an outer historical fact that which the mystic had sought through preparation in the mysteries, for he had written, "What is now called the Christian religion already existed among the ancients and was not lacking at the very beginning of the human race. When Christ appeared in the flesh, the true religion already in existence received the name 'Christian'."

 

            We can understand how this came about if we admit that the wisdom of the mysteries was imbedded in the folk religion of the Israelites. Christianity arose out of Judaism. We need not, therefore, be surprised at finding those mystery conceptions engrafted on Judaism also deeply rooted in Christianity, those mystery conceptions which we have seen to be the common possession of Greek and Egyptian spiritual life.

 

            If we examine folk religions we find various conceptions of the spiritual but if in each case we go back to the deeper wisdom of the priests which proves to be the spiritual nucleus of them all, we find agreement everywhere.

 

            Plato knew himself to be in agreement with the legacy of Egyptian teaching as he set forth the core of Greek wisdom in his philosophical writings. It is related of Pythagoras that he traveled to Egypt and India and was instructed by the sages in those countries. Thinkers who lived in the earlier days of Christianity found so much agreement between the wisdom teachings of Plato and the deeper meanings of the Mosaic writings that they called Plato a Moses who spoke with the tongue of Greece.

 

            Thus, mystery wisdom existed everywhere. From Judaism it acquired a form which it had to assume if it was to become a world religion.

 

            Judaism awaited the Messiah. The Jewish religion had from the beginning been a folk religion. The Jewish people had looked upon itself as a single organism: its Yahweh was the God of the whole people.  If the Son were to be born he must be the redeemer of the whole people. One of the basic assumptions of the Jewish religion is that one shall die for all.

 

            There is no doubt that much of the material recorded in the first five books of the Old Testament is derived from the initiatory rituals of the Egyptian mysteries. The priests of Isis were deeply versed in ancient wisdom and the Israelites, especially the Hebrew Israelites, during their captivity in Egypt must have learned and absorbed, from them many of the deepest teachings of men and the cosmos and the true worship of Divinity.

 

            The authorship of the first five books of the Old Testament is generally attributed to Moses or to several other people of the same name. Moses is the great initiate who rose up to lead the people of the Old Covenant. The name Moses itself is related to an ancient Hebrew name for the sun. He was a great Teacher who was raised up and taught by the archangel of the Christos himself to labor with the then nomadic people of Israel's twelve tribes, and he established in the midst of them his secret symbolic school known as the mysteries of the Tabernacle. This school became the basis for the outer and formal worship of God according to the old laws as well as the vehicle for preserving and transmitting the inner higher teachings of the Christos.

 

            The Tabernacle of the Jews was merely a temple patterned after the temples of Egypt and transportable to meet the needs of the nomadic way of life of the Israelites. Every part of the Tabernacle and the enclosure which surrounded it was symbolic of some great natural or sacred truth.

 

            The temples of Egyptian mysticism, from which the Tabernacle was copied, were according to their own priests miniature representations of the whole universe. The solar system was always recorded as a great temple of initiation which candidates entered through the gates of birth in which they lived the experience of life until the proper lessons were learned, and then departed through the gate of death, the veil which separates the visible from the invisible worlds.

 

            Moses was seen by Paul in Hebrews as the earthly precursor of Jesus Christ. Moses organized a new priesthood and was himself its high priest. He built the tabernacle and set up the forms of their rituals and sacrifices. This was the priesthood of the Old Covenant, the Levitical priesthood; and it was framed according to the pattern or shadow of divine wisdom because the people were not sufficiently advanced to receive the Truth itself unveiled (see Hebrews 8).

 

            It is the high priest or hierophant of the temple that performs the ordinations and initiations. In a sense all the mystery schools of old were patterned after the Old Covenant of the Law, including the Egyptian temple mysteries and the tabernacle mysteries of Moses. So all schools and temples and movements of the past were looking ahead for the One Who Was To Come.

 

            Jesus was the bringer of the New Covenant of grace and truth, the new law of Love. He was made High Priest after the order of Melchisedec. No longer was the covenant to be the shadow of Divine pattern. It was the Divine Life itself. Jesus is made High Priest, "not after the law of a carnal commandment but after the power of an endless life." (Hebrews 7:16)

 

            Melchisedec was a priest of the Most High God, called King of Peace. He was "without father, without mother, without descent; having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; abideth a priest continually" (Hebrews 7:1-3). This was obviously not a man of Earth but a member of the Hierarchy of Heaven.

 

            Jesus Christ also was of the Hierarchy of Heaven and being made High Priest, through Him the priesthood was changed. No longer does there exist on the Earth many different kinds of mysteries and priesthoods. All the many mysteries of the past were fulfilled in Jesus Christ and the Priesthood of Christ has replaced all the other older priesthoods.

 

            The one primary mystery that remains is the Christian mystery. The whole world is now a mystery temple. The good tidings are to be revealed to all. Jesus, in whom the Logos had been made flesh, has become the Initiator of the whole of humanity and humanity is His community of initiates.

 

            Jesus Christ is the living Word. In Him is personified what had been the goal of immemorial tradition, the union with the Divine. The mystery schools taught the age-old means of arriving at truth. The new Christian communities teach and live in the Truth itself.

 

            Thus, the principle of apostolic succession is far older in time and history than the Apostles themselves. For ancient teachers of authority have traditionally passed their spiritual authority and mantle to the chela or the student most suited to receive it by direct and personal laying on of hands and so the wisdom and authority -- the keys to the mysteries -- have been passed down from individual to individual throughout the ages.

 

            Many of the early church Fathers understood the intimate connection of the Christian church with the mystery schools of antiquity and the ones of their current day. Some of them, undoubtedly, were initiates themselves. Such men as Clement of Alexandria, and Origen, and Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, show in their writings a marked tendency to couch their teachings in terms of gnosticism or neo-platonism (both are types of mystery teachings). This cannot simply be ascribed to a tendency on their part to teach Christianity in terms of what was popular at the time. Origen was a frank admirer of Plotinus. Even the great Augustine followed the gnostic path for many years.

 

            Thus there existed in early Christianity the knowledge that there was a graded hierarchy of spiritual authority that reflected spiritual function and consciousness as well as material function and office.

 

            Many Christian leaders of that time, who seemed to have forgotten the original connection of Christianity with the mysteries, became uneasy with the success of gnostic teachers and especially with their claim that they were heirs to the true Christian mystery.

 

            After Constantine officially recognized the Christian faith by decree in the year 313, the Christian church began in earnest to purge all evidence of gnosticism or "emanationism" or the ancient mysteries from its doctrine. They did this so systematically and successfully that they themselves lost the full understanding of the true origins of their own priesthood and of their own doctrines.

 

            Today the Holy Order of MANS is continuing to preserve the roots of this ancient tradition and is also bringing it in accord with Christian revelation so that the future ages will have a form of teaching that is whole and entire, wholly the teaching of Christ.

 

            Now in the light of truth, we can freely acknowledge our debt to the ancient sages of Egypt, Israel, Greece, and others before and after, who kept the flame of the Light burning in the darkest hours, without fear, for the truth of the Christos is universal and timeless and so is the priesthood that serves that Truth.

 

            In general, then, we see that Holy Orders is the universal sacrament in which an individual being may be ordained to any of several grades of authority and power. The individual is set apart for the performance of service to the Christos through the rights and responsibilities of his office.

           

            True orders such as the priesthood and Mastery are not just an office involving physical duties but are positions of spiritual power and authority with divine function.

 

            The priesthood is actually a function of the Mind and Body of Christ in which man is privileged to be an organic part. Man then takes his place in the divine hierarchy and this is what gives the priesthood its infallible power. Jesus Christ is the head of this hierarchy as far as we are concerned and this is why He is called the High Priest.

 

            Thus, in any true ordination it is Jesus Himself who ordains the person through the hands of the ordaining Master or bishop. Always in an ordination that is real the one who ordains, be he Master or bishop, lays his hands upon the head of the candidate. This action is the apostolic action of power and through it, Jesus Christ, the High Priest of our profession, sets us apart eternally.

 

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