Wednesday, 4 May 2016


In order to be consecrated as a Father in the Mystery of Mithras, Gratillonius must learn doctrines, words, gestures and secrets although he has no gift for such learning and must do this both quickly and secretly. No wonder that he feels "...momentarily victorious..." (Gallicenae, p. 95) when the consecration is completed.

One view of a clergyman in any tradition is that he is one kind of technical expert, in this case one who knows how to perform certain kinds of ceremonies. To fix your car, get a mechanic. To perform a marriage or funeral, get a priest/vicar/minister/imam etc. Also, to settle a doctrinal question, ask the clergyman. And many laypeople do not think beyond that! Is it in a play by Ibsen that a failed medical student and a failed theological student share a room in the attic so that someone says, "If you ever need a doctor or a priest, there is half of both upstairs"?

Zen monks must know how to perform ceremonies but I think that there is also an attempt to ensure that they understand certain basic teachings on a level deeper than the merely intellectual.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

One thing that distinguishes Christianity from mystery religions like Mithraism is that Christianity does not hide what it believes and teaches. E.g., anyone can easily find authoritative sources explaining what the Catholic Church believes. And any reasonably well read layman can learn as much as he wants about Catholic teachings.

Sometimes doctrinal controversies arises which becomes so serious the Catholic Church is compelled to invoke the charism of infallibility to definitively settle the question. This can be done by either the Pope speaking ex cathedra or a pope presiding over an Ecumenical Council speaking in conjunction with the Pope on a serious matter of faith and morals.