THE PHILOSOPHY OF SACRAMENTAL INITIATION
From the Philosophy of Sacramental Initiation by the Holy Order of MANS
The Sacraments and the priesthood: It is impossible to consider one without the other; and it is impossible to consider either without bringing in the life and reality of Jesus Christ as He is Lord of earth as well as the Christian Messiah. To understand the sacraments it is necessary to understand the priesthood. To know what a priest really is and does is to know what the sacraments really are and what they accomplish in bringing aid and comfort to the human soul and body and its preparation for the life to follow.
A true priest is one whose entire life is tinctured by a sacramental character. Thomas Aquinas has said,"the entire Christian religion is derived from the priesthood of Christ." (Christ Jesus) We might add that the spiritual fulfillment of the entire world is so derived. The goal, the means and the substance of evolution itself finds its term in the transcendent Body of Christ. This is the great work for which we, as priests, are set apart.
One of the chief duties and functions of a priest in the Holy Order of Mans is to master the art of true spiritual service in performing the various sacraments, rituals and ceremonies of our Order.
The sacraments are the tools of the priest. They are the means whereby the priest partakes of the great cosmic plan of the evolution of this planet and of mankind according to the Will of the Father through the Great Christ.
The world today has all but forgotten the true nature and function of the sacraments. A question often asked by those who are interested in entering the Order or in knowing about it is, why all the ritual? Why the need for it?
Modern man has lost touch with the guidelines of the ancient wisdom teachings and he is equally out of touch with the symbols and procedures of modern science, so he is adrift in the uncharted area of his own ignorance and opinion, which often amounts to little more than superstition.
The sacraments not only provide a link between the ancient wisdom and modern science, but actually provide a scientific spiritual foundation on which man can grow to realize his divine self on the path of Godhood.
Therefore, it is very important that the priest have intimate knowledge of the nature, function and purpose of the sacraments and how to use them. This is the holy alchemy of the priesthood. And mastery in this highest of arts is the goal of every priest.
The Foundation of the Sacraments
The reality of the sacraments, what they actually mean and signify, is the basis of all religions.
We see this in the history and development of the Christian category of churches, where the sacraments are at once the unifying theme of them all as well as the subject of their bitterest controversies and divisions because of their lack of the reality of living symbolism in God's creation.
In Christian theology, a sacrament is generally defined as"the visible form of an invisible grace". This definition is acceptable to most of the Christian denominations. They also accept as basic the belief that a sacrament must be a sign or action that is "instituted by Christ". According to the New Testament, Jesus instituted, commanded and practiced various activities, such as baptism, a common meal, anointing, healing the sick, and so on. In the early years of the Christian Church there were many practices used, some of them gaining acceptance, others being discarded, until there became generally accepted, after a few centuries of debate and crisis, the seven basic Sacraments which we know today, Baptism, Penance, the Eucharist, Confirmation, Matrimony, Holy Orders or Ordination and Anointing or "Extreme Unction".
In fact, only two of these Sacraments can actually be documented from the text of the New Testament itself: Baptism and the Eucharist. For this reason, some of the Christian denominations have limited their rituals to these two alone. Others have continued to follow the older tradition of seven sacraments. The primary justification for all the differing approaches to liturgy among Christians has been the same in all cases, relying on a combination of historical evidence, textual interpretation, and accepted tradition.
Negative approach. Christian churches sometimes differ in their opinions as to the authentic number of sacraments actually endorsed by Christ Jesus or how many He instituted to be used by the apostles. It is more important really to know what the nature of a sacrament actually is and what it truly accomplishes.
All agree that sacraments are "signs" involving some external, physical objects or actions. Some Christian authorities, primarily radical Protestants, claimed they are nothing more than that. Others believed that sacraments are symbols to be used in commemoration of the life and actions of Jesus and that they have value and devotional actions. Some held that Sacraments have a role as signs of the presence of grace within the recipient.
Still others, primarily Catholic and Orthodox, had held that the sacraments are signs of the efficacious Presence of God. This theory, fully developed in the Council of Treat, led to the doctrine that the sacraments are not only a means to grace, but actually "contain the grace they signify". This resulted in a theory that the sacraments have "efficacy apart from the disposition of the recipient", that is, the sacraments worked regardless of the state of mind of the minister or the receiver. Opponents denounced this theory as superstitious magic; and some offered the opposite extreme, a rationalistic theory of the sacraments as merely devotional symbols. For them, the sacraments were "ordinances", not channels of grace but expressions of the faith and obedience of the Christian community.
Today these differences continue to separate the various Christian Churches, although to a lesser degree, as these groups strive to form a common ground. In general, Baptism and the Eucharist are the essential Sacraments to all Christian denominations, no matter what other differences the events and traditions of history may have created.
Relying on the external historical or textual evidence alone allows for various interpretations of what it all means. In reality, however, the truth of Christianity is revealed when we stop dealing with the history and origins of the Christian church and begin considering the history and origins of the Christ Consciousness -- the reality of the Power as an Idea, as a Reality, as a fundamental and universal principle in action, throughout history.
Then we see that the Christ-idea and the Christ-teaching were making remarkable impressions in many parts of the world before and during the lifetime of Jesus, whereas no Christian church had yet been established. The power of CHRISTianity does not lie in church or order, but in its essence and its substance, in the way of the Christos through which the Order and Law of the Solar System itself manifests. "Heaven and Earth shall pass away, but My word shall not pass away." It cannot be tied to the laying of a material foundation, but must be tied to the cornerstone of the Self, as it unfolded the awakening consciousness of man at the time he began to appreciate the existence of the Christ Consciousness in the universal church of man.
Modern science and technology seems to have deeply undermined the faith of many people in the effectiveness or "relevance" of any religious ceremonies or rituals. The modern western churches have been forced to revise and "laicize" their rituals in an attempt to make them relevant and palatable to the concerns of today's society.
The key to this problem is that power and function -- energy in action -- is always relevant in any age. People will accept something that works, especially if they understand the purpose of it. This understanding will come as we teach the real factors involved in the true sacraments, as they are being restored through the Holy Order of Mans which has returned to the ancient alchemy and the old way of the old church as it was understood at the beginning which conforms to the simplicity of creation.
The Three Factors in the Development of the Sacraments
1. The ancient wisdom of the Christian Mysteries, the "natural science" of the sages of old. This is the great discovery through revelation and experience that there was a definite process of God Realization through the external and only begotten Son, the great Christos, based on the Mysteries, where these inner teachings were taught to the few who were able to receive them. "For the law was given by Moses."
2. The Word made flesh. The descent of the Christ into the form of the Master Jesus. The greatest event in the history of the Earth. The rebirth and regeneration of the world and all Mankind by the Light, Life and Love of the Christos. A new pattern was permanently set into motion. Infused into the Earth is the permanent redemption and atonement brought by His grace. The temple veil was rent, and all were invited to share in the Mysteries. "...but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."
3. The principles of modern Science. What is true in the spiritual world must be reflected in the physical world. A spiritual principle is a scientific principle. Epigenesis. A functional force that is measurable by experience and thus provable by results manifesting in the physical world.
A true Sacrament then is the point where these three factors meet and agree. Its foundation is initiation, science and revelation. Its proof is its result. Its result is to draw the individual into the Life of the body of Christ.
The Sacraments must not be confused with other rituals and ceremonies used in the performance of liturgy. These four terms -- liturgy, sacrament, ritual and ceremony are often used interchangeably, but they are not, in fact, synonyms. For example, not every ritual is a sacrament; and not every ceremony has a regular or formal ritual. When we distinguish the characteristics of each type of spiritual service, this helps to clarify the function of liturgy.
In general, all these terms relate to man's application, direction or use of the great creative force of the universe.
Liturgy, itself, refers to the celebration of the public worship of a given type, expressed in rites, ceremonies and formulas.
Ceremony, in its broadest meaning, refers to any action performed according to an accepted custom or form. For example, our funeral ceremony is not a Sacrament in itself and does not even have an exact ritual form; rather it is a ceremony we use as a service of comfort to the family of the deceased, to return the elements of the body to the earth, and to send the soul on to his new life.
The term ritual has a more precise meaning. It refers to those ceremonies of living symbolism which involve the solar and magnetic Forces of the earth and its poles, and the Forces impinging on the earth of the other planets of the solar system. Many of the rites and ceremonies used by the ancient temples and mystery schools are examples of rituals of this type. Even though these sacred rites may be performed with great power and solemnity, they are not actually sacraments in themselves. In the Holy Order of Mans we are preserving this ancient tradition by restoring the use of such sacred rituals as the holy celebration of the four cardinal points of the sun cycle, the Equinox and the Solstices services; the new and full moon services, and others more or less related to the mysteries of nature, initiation, and the life of our planet within our solar system.
Rising above all, as the most divine of all spiritual gifts are the sacraments. The sacraments are the visible manifestation of initiation and the projection of God's plan of salvation for man.
As the basic patterns which we set so that we may receive our grace, they certainly play a most vital and essential role in the attainment of the illumination and the realization of God.
Briefly a sacrament is a ritual of living symbolism established by divine grace and conferring upon the soul of man the effective potential of one or another of the Solar initiations.
The basic sacraments, such as Baptism, Communion and Holy Orders or Ordination, were practiced in one form or another long before the Master Jesus ever walked the earth. The ancient rituals of initiation, from which stem many of our modern sacraments, had been in existence eons ago, because the path of initiation is the universal and eternal path of the growth and evolution of mankind on this orb.
The gospel of John says that, "The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." Since His Ascension, Jesus has assumed Lordship of Earth. As Lord of Earth, Christ Jesus draws all things to Himself by the projection of a perfect pattern of growth into the life of earth. This pattern is the divine Atonement brought by the supreme gift of His grace, now available to all.
Grace is simply the free and unmerited and unearned love of God. It is the divine influence in men, which allows them to regenerate and attain sanctity or God-realization. It manifests in the physical world as the law of epigenesis. This is the functional process through which grace is established in man. It is the formation of a fresh organic germ of higher Life which regenerates the lower, older body by a series of successive accretions until the lower body is entirely transformed into a new creature, the purified soul in the Body of Light. In the words of Paul, the master-builder, "But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, has quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved)". Ephesians 2:4-5
The joining of these two realities, the ancient mysteries of initiation and the grace brought by Jesus Christ, resulted in the creation of the sacraments of the new age as used in our Order.
Not every sacrament is a solar initiation in itself, but as the indispensable means of conferring the grace of God upon men the sacraments provide the foundation of every initiatory step taken by the soul on its path up the timeless ladder of initiation -- Jacob's ladder -- the return to Godhead through the divine Christ.
The Solar initiations form the universal path of consciousness for all beings in this solar system under the great Lord of the Sun. For in this Being, the great Christos, as Paul has said, we all live and move and have our being. The rituals of initiation and the sacraments are processes by which man finds his way through the labyrinth of untruths to the source and the chamber of truth -- the Akasha, the mind of God - - where he finds the truth and has the experience which will give him the opportunity to move up the ladder in vibration while he is attaining a closer state of purity and to attain greater wisdom for greater service.
Both from the true mystical and scientific stand-points the sacraments and the related rituals of initiation play a very important part in the process of the spiritual growth of the individual because they motivate and spark the positive development of the soul personality of the individual and eliminate the negative patterns. The rituals used by the ancients, and still used in similar form and spirit by many who know and understand and are workers or teachers, were partly for the purpose of illustrating and impressing upon the psychic mind, the brain in the psychic body, certain laws and principles.
The ancients knew that the psychic part of many delights in ritual and therefore ever seeks to experience those flights of elevation into the world of higher mind, the thought world and the world of symbolism, which compose a great part of the carefully worked out ceremonies of each secret Order of mystery temple. When a candidate or student performed certain ceremonies in a temple or an order, his objective mind was spared and impressed by the illustrations, the colors, the movements, and the words of the ritual.
The conscious purpose of the objective symbols of a sacrament or ritual is to hold the mind of the candidate or student in concentration while his psychic consciousness visualizes and creates a condition for itself that it enjoys and therefore remembers, and ever after retains the impressions and patterns of this experience in the soul.
The person experiencing the action of the sacrament or the ritual has then later to experience in his own personal life these same particular principles and laws expressed and demonstrated in the ceremony. This does not mean that sacraments and rituals are not real and effective right then, but there is an unseen side that is very powerful.
In the ancient temples or occult schools these rituals of initiation were often experienced in the form of the mystery play. In the Holy Order of Mans we no longer put on the panorama of the play as in the ancient temple, but we live the play as part of our everyday life in the Order.
The sacraments and the true principles of initiation are the central actions in the daily life and pattern of the Order, around which all else revolves. The pattern of all spiritual growth are expressed in the principles and laws of creation and these are made effective in the life of the individual by the receiving of the various sacraments.
Thus, he who participates in the sacraments and accepts them at the deeper level is expressing the real mysteries of the divine grace and he attains a state of acceptance where the epigenesis may work through him and he may obtain the bounty of this earth which God has granted unto him.
As the individual is performing the visible symbols and signs of the sacrament, this invokes the nature, vibration and action of the visible world which they symbolize. By being in the state of grace the individual is prepared and predisposed to accept the imprint of the reality and the pattern of this higher invisible spiritual world. Thus he becomes part of the Mind and the Spirit of God and partakes of the essence of life eternal.
God the Father sent our Lord Jesus Christ so that we might avail ourselves of the treasures hidden in His being. The Master Jesus said while on earth, "Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of Heaven." The master also declared, "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."
To us it is obvious enough to say that as we partake of the sacrament as a visible creature, we also sense the presence and reality of the transformation and feel the power which moves through us and reveals the invisible God who made all things. Undoubtedly the material universe affords the proof of the realization of God. But the sacraments are not purely a part of the order of natural creation but are a physical manifestation of the unseen Solar initiations divined by God for the stage by stage development of man, and given to mankind as revelation through the Person of Christ Jesus.
It might be said that the physical body of man is the pivot of salvation. For when the soul of man is united with God and in harmony, it is the body which makes the union possible with its forward step as it enters into the act of the sacrament of Communion or any other sacrament.
We use the material form because we have a level of expression in the world. For complete existence it must be manifest on all levels of our life, both spiritual and physical.
We anoint the body that the soul may be consecrated. Thus the body is sealed that the soul may do the work of strengthening it. This is why we use the water and oil in Baptism.
Paul, in his instructions on the Christian's participation in the death and resurrection of Christ maintained that only through the sanctification of the body could the soul find its path to the glories of Heaven and the eternal resurrection to everlasting life.
For Paul well knew that with the care of this external and seeable creation of God -- the outer body -- that the inner man would become compelled to be sanctified and rise higher and closer to that state of unity with God because of it.
For it is the very Word of God which motivates the life force to manifest through these sacramental rites given by revelation, that man and woman in their physical vehicles may become an integral part of the greatest of all rites, the creation of the divine man on the path of Godhood.
Through the performance of the sacraments the priest helps to propagate the reality of God's glorious creation which restores the dignity of man and prepares and preserves the earth for the return of the Great One and the coming and the completion of the New Heaven and the New Earth.
On the material level the body is also purified, so that the purer force may pass into the physical -- less effected -- in a purer state.