Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Uncreated Light, Blessed are the poor in spirit

Moses and The Burning Bush
This post begins a series that I'm dedicating to Jesus' Beatitudes.  The first offering in this series is The Uncreated Light.  This miracle is an annual event that announces the Risen Christ EVERY EASTER!   This unconsuming flame has appeared without ceasing every year to encourage the faithful that The Trinity has not abandoned them in this valley of tears.  Both Eastern and Western traditions incorporate new flame and the lighting of candles in a darkened church to commemorate and celebrate this beloved Kiss From God that he bestows on his bride's expectant face each Pascha (Easter).

Iconography of The Transfiguration always
has this stylized light.  Could this painting be
more realistic than previously thought?
The Uncreated Light, the Flame that Does Not Consume, the Bright Light that blinded the apostles on Mount Tabor and appeared above their heads at Pentacost, is a sure sign of God's Love.

Friends, it is only from The Crucifixion that we have The Resurrection.  It is only through becoming lost that we are found.  It is only by losing our life that we gain life eternal.  The Uncreated Light of God that we see on earth each Pascha (Easter) is a glimpse of Heaven.  Note that most people who are surrounded by the flame are completely unaware of its presence.  We all ignore blessings and squander opportunities to encounter the divine.  God is continually forgiving us these oversights (but we should still confess them.)  We should never lose hope but know that God will continue to reach out to us without fail, even as we take our last breath.  Enjoy these films.

2 Degrees
Holy Fire to Apostles to Pope John Paul II
Holy Fire to Moses to Jesus to Saint Peter to Pope John Paul II

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Prophet Muhammad

Did the title of this post make you  bristle?  Did you wonder, is this going to confirm my beliefs?  Is it going to be hype?  Is it going to be hate-mongering? Is it going to be politically correct?

There is precious little information about the Arab world before The Prophet.  In fact, among non-Muslim sources, the very existence of The Prophet Muhammad is often questioned.  As with many Christian texts, original documents regarding Muhammad (peace be upon him [pbuh],) may be incomplete or lost.  But many careful and faithful copies of Muslim texts, including the full version of The Qur'an, were completed after the death of the original authors.  This does not mean that the original documents never existed, it is merely a hazard of history, war, the elements, and mobility.  During the Protestant Reformation, 7 books of the bible were taken out of the canon of scripture because of original versions being lost to time.  Coult this be a grave mistake that has done a severe disservice to Protestant spirituality?  The historical Church sure thinks so!

The Catholic Church and The Orthodox Church have NEVER doubted the historical Prophet Muhammad [pbuh].  In fact, Christians have enjoyed a treaty with the founder of Islam for centuries.  This treaty is known as The Achtiname of Muhammad and its authenticity has not been questioned since Muhammad's [pbuh] lifetime by Christians or Muslims.  In fact, the treaty has been renewed with Islamic leaders over the centuries.   Would this mean that The Prophet Muhammad's [pbuh] words became invalid upon his death?  Certainly not.  That would invalidate the Qur'an.  The renewal of the treaty simply showed new generations of Christians and Muslims that The Prophet's words would be respected and upheld, much like the way U.S. presidents swear to uphold The Constitution or witnesses swear on The Bible.

Here is a translation of The Achtiname of Muhammad.
"This is a message from Muhammad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them. Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by Allah! I hold out against anything that displeases them.

No compulsion is to be on them. Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries.
No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims' houses. Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God's covenant and disobey His Prophet. Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate.

No one is to force them to travel or to oblige them to fight. The Muslims are to fight for them. If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, it is not to take place without her approval. She is not to be prevented from visiting her church to pray.

Their churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants. No one of the nation (Muslims) is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day (end of the world)."

English translation from 'Muslim History: 570 - 1950 C.E.' by Dr. A. Zahoor and Dr. Z. Haq, ZMD Corporation. P.O. Box 8231 - Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8231 - Copyright Akram Zahoor 2000. P. 167.
Similar language and sentiment is recorded in Persia  in The Chronicle of Seert.

I have seen many videos and heard speeches by online personalities, who are otherwise not idiots, talk about Muhammad with hatred and a complete lack of respect.  While it is true that one cannot hold Christian and Muslim beliefs together, it is not true that hateful and disrespectful language toward Muslims is acceptable to God.  If our aim is to convert the world and give His creation back to Him, we must love one another.  Only through Love can the Holy Spirit work toward conversion in the heart of another.
St. Catherine's Monastery on Mount Sinai
3 Degrees

The Prophet Muhammad signed the above treaty at St. Catherine's Monastery on Mount Sinai in Egypt.
El Greco was a painter of The Spanish Renaissance.  

El Greco painted St. Catherine's on the back of his Modena Triptych

He also painted Pope Pius V.

Pope Pius V, portrait by El Greco in the 17th Century

Muhammad to El Greco (via St. Catherine's Monastery) to Pope Pius V to Blessed John Paul II