Christian mysteries

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The Christian Mysteries refers to the sacred teachings and sacramental rituals of Orthodox and Catholic Christianity. This terminology is heard today in the beginning of the Catholic Eucharist when the presiding celebrant of the liturgy says, "Brethren, let us acknowledge our sins, and so prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries", followed by a moment of silence for reflection, then a general collective formula prayer of confession of sins, followed by the opening prayer or invocation, after which comes the reading of the scriptures.

Initiation

Originally, in the early centuries of the Faith, those who had attained the age of reason, who had been fully catechised (instructed and taught) about Jesus as the one Savior and Lord sent by the one true God, and had been taught about their moral obligations as candidates and later as Christians—the catechumens—after being attested by mature Christian catechists as their sponsors as being candidates fully prepared and ready for acceptance, were initiated by Baptism into Christ.

The Divinum Arcanum: The "Divine Mystery"

The most profound essential doctrines and sacramental initiations were revealed only gradually after the catechumens had been initiated by Baptism into Christ. In conformity with the usage of the inspired writers of the New Testament scriptures, theologians designate with the word "mystery" and "mysteries" the divinely reveal truths that surpass the powers of natural reason to fully understand[1], but which are not against intelligent reason[2].

Knowledge of the sacred doctrines was kept from outsiders to avoid any possibility of blasphemy and sacrilege by those being instructed, but who not yet had any commitment, and ridicule by pagan outsiders. This was according to the word of Jesus in Matthew 7:6

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and rend you. (turn to attack you)

The Discipline of the Secret

The "Discipline of the Secret" was the obligation of Christian believers to keep sacred their knowledge of the more profound doctrines of God, their advancing in what Paul called the maturity of "meat" as beyond the initial nourishment of "milk" (1 Corinthians 3:2; Hebrews 5:12–6:6; 1 Peter 2:2). These doctrines are summarized in the Apostles' Creed, and later developed in the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed.

  • The One True God
  • God as the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit of God
  • God in Jesus Christ: The Incarnation of the Word of God
  • The Virgin Birth of Jesus from Mary
  • Jesus Christ as Dead and Risen and Ascended
  • The Church as the Body of Christ
  • The Gentiles as equal heirs of salvation with the Jews
  • The Sacraments of the Christian Religion
  • The Resurrection of the physical body
  • The Last Judgment
  • The Fruits of the Holy Spirit
  • The Corporal and spiritual works of mercy

The Christian policy of protecting and defending what is sacred and not to be defiled bears a superficial resemblance to the practice of secrecy of the ancient Mystery religions of the Greek Hellenistic and Roman worlds of the Mediterranean and Middle East. However, the Christian practice of compassion, forgiveness and generous giving to the poor and defenseless was public, together with preaching the name of Jesus as the Savior and Redeemer of "all men everywhere" (Acts 17:30).

After the passing of the violent persecutions of Christianity throughout the Roman Empire, the Discipline of the Secret as a safeguard for the preservation of the sanctity of the Christian Mysteries began to be relaxed as being no longer as necessary for the survival of the Faith. The use of the terminology of The Christian Mysteries is still retained as common usage in Eastern Christianity among the Orthodox, but to a far lesser extent in the West where sacramental theology is emphasized. The concept has almost entirely been lost in Protestant theology, and is totally absent in Fundamentalism. However, the concept of the Christian Mysteries, together with the practice of the Discipline of the Secret, has again proven to be necessary in those countries and regions where Christianity is especially forbidden under threat of death.

See also

Orthodox Mysteries

Mysticism

Mystery religion

Orphic mysteries

Eleusinian mysteries

References

  1. See Matthew 13:11; Mark 4:11; Luke 8:10; Romans 16:25; 1 Corinthians 2:7; 4:11; 13:2; 15:51; Ephesians 3:3-6, 9-10; 5:32; 6:19; Colossians 1:26-28; 2:2-3; 4:3; 1 Timothy 3:9, 16; Revelation 10:7. Various forms of the word μυστέριον mysterion appear 27 times in the New Testament—mysteries of righteousness, of knowledge both good and evil, and of wickedness (2 Thessalonians 2:7; Revelation 17:5-7).
  2. There are many things in nature that science does not understand, mysteries, such as the nature of gravity, and the aerodynamics of how a bee is able to fly. See Philosophical naturalism.

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