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Welcome to “read the Bible – expand your mind:”
The Book of Common Prayer says that by sharing Holy Communion, Christians become “very members incorporate in the mystical body” of Jesus. The words “corporate” and “mystical” are the key. They show that a healthy church has two sides. The often-overlooked “mystical” side asks, “How do I experience God?” This blog will try to answer that.
It has four main themes. The first is that God will accept anyone. (See John 6:37.) The second is that God wants us to live lives of abundance. (John 10:10.) The third is that Jesus wants us to read the Bible with an open mind. As it says in Luke 24:45: “Then He [Jesus] opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” The fourth theme – and most often overlooked – is that God wants us to do even greater miracles than Jesus. (John 14:12.)
And this thought ties them together:
The best way to live abundantly and do greater miracles than Jesus is: Read, study and apply the Bible with an open mind. For more see the notes or – to expand your mind – see the Intro.
In the meantime:
I last did a post on February 27, On Ash Wednesday and Lent – 2023, a little over two weeks ago. I had just finished up a five-day, four-night adventure, canoeing into the Okefenokee Swamp. In recovering from that adventure I missed Ash Wednesday. But I figured I did some good penance by enduring the butt-numbing discipline of paddling a canoe for hours and hours on end. (Not to mention mosquitoes and watching out for curious gators.)
On the other hand – kind of an Alpha and Omega – it looks like I’m going to miss Easter Sunday as well. My grandson is getting married this spring, and guess what date he and his fiance picked? April 8. It took me awhile to figure out, but that’s the day before Easter Sunday. That’s Holy Saturday to some people, while other devout people call it Black Saturday.
BTW: I’ll miss Easter Sunday – or at least going to church – because it’s 450 miles down to Tampa. After the weekend “party time” with one extended family, one I haven’t seen in awhile, I’ll want to get home quick. (“Forgive me, Lord, but I’m not up to drinking that much any more.”)
And just as an aside, I also had to change a long-sought doctor appointment. The doctor I’ve seen for years moved to a distant city. My new doctor – the one my brother and his wife picked after the same move – is very popular. She’s so popular that when I tried to make an appointment back in the middle of 2022, the earliest appointment I could get was April 7. But because I’ll be driving down to Florida for the wedding, I had to make a new appointment. The date for my new appointment? October 31, Halloween Day.
At least it’s in 2023, but I figure all this rigmarole is worth some good Lenten points.
For one thing, it led me to do more research on Holy Saturday. It’s the final day of Holy Week, between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Specifically, the day “commemorates the Harrowing of Hell while Jesus Christ’s body lay in the tomb.” In some places it’s also called “Black Saturday.” That would seem – at first blush – not to be an auspicious day for a wedding.
Then there’s the article, Good Friday and Holy Saturday: Getting Married During Lent. It noted that as holy sacraments, “Catholic weddings during Lent [are] allowed except on two days.” Those two days are Good Friday and Holy Saturday. “If one were to ask a priest to allow a wedding on any of the two above-mentioned days, the immediate response is going to be a no.” But then, the young couple is not going to get married in a Catholic church – on April 8.
As to the “why,” Holy Saturday is a day of mourning. It reminds us of “Christ’s laying in the tomb.” Accordingly, the Catholic church says that “merrymaking, noise, and activity” must be kept to a minimum. No sacraments are allowed, including marriage and holy communion. There are some limited exceptions. Holy communion can be given as a Viaticum, to one who is dying; in other words, as part of Last Rites. Then too, “When there is an imminent threat to one’s life, such as death knocking on one’s door, lifting matrimonial restrictions is a possibility.”
In other words, a couple can get married if one partner has one foot in the grave. Which is not just an idiom meaning one is on the verge of death. (Close to death or in terrible condition.) It’s also the name of a British sitcom series that ran from 1990 to 2000. As for the idiom itself, “This picturesque hyperbolic phrase was first recorded in 1566.”
None of which I knew before researching for this post.
There’s one more thing. Hotels in the Tampa Bay area are a lot more expensive than I’m used to. I used to live across the Bay in Pinellas County, for 50 years, up until 2010 or so, so I never paid much attention. But trying to book a reasonably-priced room down there turned out to be a wake-up call. Not least of all because they all want hefty deposits, starting at $100 a night.
I finally found a room – a swanky Hilton – for $250, and thought that wasn’t too bad for two nights. But “through my own fault, my own grievous fault,” that turned out to be the price for one night. I’d been trying to book a room for some time, was tired, and seem to have been swayed by the fact that they didn’t charge a deposit. I also found out that it’s difficult to exercise that “free cancellation” option. So I’ll spent the evening of Good Friday at a swanky Hilton in the resort area that is Tampa and the Gulf Coast. But I learned some valuable lessons.
For one thing, from now on I’ll use the “pay at the hotel” option. As for those disgusting deposits, I’ll read through the fine print when booking online. (Or I could just reduce my visits to the Tampa Bay area to an absolute minimum.) As for learning valuable lessons, I’ve mentioned before that some people choose not to give up things as part of their Lenten Discipline. Some choose – as I have done in the past – to spend Lent in contemplation. That’s the spiritual discipline that “seeks a direct awareness of the divine which transcends the intellect.”
As Wikipedia explained, contemplation also means “profound thinking about something.” And in a religious sense, “contemplation is usually a type of prayer or meditation.” Then there’s this:
Within Western Christianity contemplation is often related to mysticism as expressed in the works of mystical theologians such as Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross as well as the writings of Margery Kempe, Augustine Baker and Thomas Merton.
I’m sure I’ll find other spiritual matters to contemplate between now and the end of Lent, 2023. (And do a future post or two on.) But until then, I’ll go ahead and ponder the spiritual lessons already mentioned. Then too, I’ll ponder the lesson about “whenever a relative or good friend schedules a spring wedding.” From now on I’ll be sure to check the date, just to make sure no such future wedding happens during Holy Week, and especially not on “Black Saturday.”
And in so “contemplating,” I’ll be in pretty good company. Just like Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Thomas Merton, and the nice lady “contemplating” below
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The upper image is courtesy of Black Saturday Holy Week – Image Results.
The Book of Common Prayer reference. The “corporate-mystical” prayer is on page 339, the post-communion prayer for Holy Eucharist, Rite I.
For more on contemplation as a Lenten discipline, see 2016’s My Lenten meditation. I borrowed the lower “nice lady contemplating” image from that post. It also included Lenten disciplines: spiritual exercises or ego trip? The 2016 post noted that for that Lenten period I contemplated “just when, where and how Moses came to write the first five books of the Bible. (The Torah.)”
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As noted in the opening blurb, this blog has four main themes. The first is that God will accept anyone. (John 6:37, with the added, “Anyone who comes to Him.”) The second is that God wants us to live abundantly. (John 10:10.) The third is that we should do greater miracles than Jesus. (John 14:12). A fourth theme: The only way to do all that is read the Bible with an open mind:
…closed-mindedness, or an unwillingness to consider new ideas, can result from the brain’s natural dislike for ambiguity. According to this view, the brain has a “search and destroy” relationship with ambiguity and evidence contradictory to people’s current beliefs tends to make them uncomfortable… Research confirms that belief-discrepant-closed-minded persons have less tolerance for cognitive inconsistency…
So in plain words, this blog takes issue with boot-camp Christians. They’re the Biblical literalists who never go “beyond the fundamentals.” But the Bible can offer so much more than their narrow reading can offer… (Unless you want to stay a Bible buck private all your life…) Now, about “Boot-camp Christians.” See for example, Conservative Christian – “Career buck private?” The gist of that post is that starting the Bible is like Army Basic Training. You begin by“learning the fundamentals.” But after boot camp, you move on to Advanced Individual Training.”
However, after boot camp, you move on to Advanced Individual Training. And as noted in “Buck private,” one of this blog’s themes is that if you want to be all that you can be, you need to go on and explore the “mystical side of Bible reading.*” In other words, exploring the mystical side of the Bible helps you “be all that you can be.” See Slogans of the U.S. Army – Wikipedia, re: the recruiting slogan from 1980 to 2001. The related image at left is courtesy of: “toywonders.com/productcart/pc/catalog/aw30.jpg.” *
Re: “mystical.” Originally, mysticism “referred to the Biblical liturgical, spiritual, and contemplative dimensions of early and medieval Christianity.” See Mysticism – Wikipedia, and the post On originalism. (“That’s what the Bible was originally about!”) See also Christian mysticism – Wikipedia, “In early Christianity the term ‘mystikos’ referred to three dimensions, which soon became intertwined, namely the biblical, the liturgical and the spiritual or contemplative… The third dimension is the contemplative or experiential knowledge of God.” As to that “experiential” aspect, see also Wesleyan Quadrilateral – Wikipedia, on the method of theological reflection with four sources of spiritual development: scripture, tradition, reason, and “Christian experience.”
For an explanation of the Daily Office – where “Dorscribe” came from – see What’s a DOR?
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