[ by Charles Cameron -- on the assignment of archetypal roles to members of the British Royal Family ]
For those having trouble distinguishing the Dajjal from the Antichrist, I thought I’d post two screen-caps from a video of the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, one of whom is identified as the Dajjal:
In true conspiracist connect-the-dots fashion, then, the Antichrist is the Dajjal’s father.
Dajjals, Antichrists, Messiahs and Mahdis all function as Rorschach blots on which people project their hopes and fears, associating celebrities and leaders they despise and admire with archetypal instances of the final evil and the final savior.
By now, we should surely have figured out that this tells us more about those making the attributions than it does about the supposed, dreaded or hoped for end of days…
Thank you, Charles, for your close examination of nuances that may underlie the actions of people who envision themselves as warriors for the sake of ancient prophecy. Those among us who feel that they dwell in meaningless sorrow make likely customers for purveyors of self-hypnosis–whether of this brand or some other flag-waving, self-justifying cruelty.
I’ve been pondering how to express my reasons for paying particular attention to religious and a fortiori eschatological motives for terror for some time now. The varieties of end times thinking have been an interest of mine for decades, to be sure, and both religion and its specifically end times variants tend IMO to be easily ignored in our so rational post-Enlightenment and high-tech times — so I have both personal and analytic reasons to be keenly interested. But there’s more, and I believe StevE’s comment may be just the thing to pry loose a better explanation than I have given up till now.
I’ll use the well-worn phrase, “work expands to fill the time available” as my starting point.
Turning to StevE’s point about potential recruits to terrorism or other crimes…
It’s easy, it seems to me, to think that just any old ideology would do, that the disgruntled simply pick one and use it as a cover or rationalization — but I suspect that emotions can “intensify to fill the ideology available” to paraphrase the other phrase, and that certain ideologies have structural features equivalent to high ceilings in an architectural space, so that “intensifying to fill the ideology available” can have a certain fierce purity when the ideology is a religious one and pious self-dedication a possibility — even more so when “martyrdom” can be aspired to — and yet more so again where one perceives oneself under divine sanction in the culminating battle of all time, immediately prior to judgment.
I’ve been to two “fire walkings” in my life — the first at Mt Takao, where crowds gather for a yearly ceremony in which one writes one’s sins on a sliver of wood and cast it into the fire, the coals of which which the Yamabushi mountain monks then walk across (see image above), followed by intrepid amateur ascetics…
The second — ah, the second was pitched as an occasion where you could “prove the power of mind over matter” for yourself, and come away from the experience “knowing you had achieved the impossible”. And when the instructor went around the room afterwards and asked people, “Now you know you can do the impossible, what’s next for you?” he got answers like, “I’ll have the courage to ask my boss for a $25 a month raise…”
Times are hard for many of us, and I don’t want to knock either the courage it takes to ask or the value of a $25 monthly raise — but if you’ve just “done the impossible”, is this the most you can ask?
Apocalyptic arousal hopes for more than $25 a month — in most cases it longs for the sudden and immediate reversal of all the good fortune that appears to befall “bad” people right now, and the no less sudden reapportionment of all those blessings on the heads of the “good” people — oneself prominent among them. It shakes the world to its foundations, and it cleanses it.
I’ll let Richard Landes give you a sense of how believing oneself a participant in apocalypse can make the everyday moment deeply significant, and give the “end times we live in” importance beyond measure — with an excerpt from his great book, Heaven on Earth: The Varieties of the Millennial Experience:
For people who have entered apocalyptic time, everything quickens, enlivens, coheres. They become semiotically aroused — everything has meaning, patterns. The smallest incident can have immense importance and open the way to an entirely new vision of the world, one in which forces unseen by other mortals operate. If the warrior lives with death at his shoulder, then apocalyptic warriors live with cosmic salvation before them, just beyond their grasp.
[ by Charles Cameron -- remembering that there are two calendars, two times, the secular and the sacred, and that there's more poetry, more depth of heart and thus intellect too, in the sacred calendar -- a truth made known also to popes and monarchs ]
Cardinal Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, washes & kisses the feet of residents of a shelter for drug users, Maundy Thursday, 2008
It’s an extraordinary day, today, for myself as it happens, and more significantly for the world. Specifically, it is significant for poor and powerful alike, for it sets them in a proper relation to one another.
Today is Maundy Thursday, the day on which Christ’s Last Supper, which became and remains the prototype of the Catholic Mass, is remembered. His Last Supper would be closely followed by his crucifixion the next day, Good Friday, and resurrection on Easter Sunday.
After that final supper, Christ made a gesture which initially disturbed his close followers — he washed their feet, then instructed them to do the same.
His gesture repeats itself to this day.
Pope Francis, who as an archbishop had followed this practice by washing and kissing the feet of young people in drug shelters (image above) and AIDS clinics, is breaking with Vatican tradition — the pope washing the feet of priests in some major basilica in Rome — this year, by going to a youth prison today for the ceremony:
The Mass of the Lord’s Supper that Pope Francis will celebrate on Holy Thursday in the chapel of the Casal del Marmo Penitential Institute for Minors will be, by his express desire, very simple. Concelebrating with the Holy Father will be Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar general of the Diocese of Rome, and Fr. Gaetano Greco, chaplain of the Institute.
Around 10 girls and 40 boys will take part in the Mass. The Pope will wash the feet of 12 of them, who will be chosen from different nationalities and diverse religious confessions. The youth will also say the readings and the prayers of the faithful. Given the intimate nature of the pastoral visit, journalists will be restricted to the area outside the building and no live coverage will be transmitted.
That’s a slightly formal Vatican announcement of the occasion: “diverse religious confessions” in this case almost certainly includes Muslims and atheists or agnostics. Father Greco, the prison chaplain, is quoted as saying:
Only eight of our residents are Italian: six boys and two girls … The others are all foreigners. And most of them are Muslim. Then there are some who have no religious belief at all. Therefore many of them don’t even know who the Pope is. For this reason too, it was far from easy to explain to them the importance of the Pope’s visit.
A young Neapolitan who has been here for a while came to my help. He gathered them all together, to try to make them understand above all what the Pope’s act, which is an act of love for them, actually meant. I was upset for a moment by the first looks, that were either blank or only faintly curious about my enthusiasm. Then our friend broke the silence with that most classic of Neapolitan expressions: “Maronna mia, o Papa accà!” [good heavens! The Pope here!] and he ran his hand through his hair, his face betraying emotions mingled with happiness. At that very instant all the others, seeing his amazement, realized that it must really be something very special and began to question me. Little by little, I saw their enthusiasm growing.
Father Greco said of his young charges that the Pope’s visit “will make them see that their lives are not bound by a mistake, that forgiveness exists and that they can begin to build their lives again.”
This symbolic gesture, this washing of the feet, does indeed have enormous imaginative power, if we will allow it, to touch the heart and transform our behavior.
I’ve quoted this before, I know: it’s the account given by the man I know who, more than any other, prayed, lived, worked, and saw his great dream and hope accomplished in his lifetime — the overturning of the apartheid regime in S. Africa. For myself, it’s the heart of what he taught me: here, in his own words, Fr Trevor Huddleston CR describes how his own role in that drama began:
On Maundy Thursday, in the Liturgy of the Catholic Church, when the Mass of the day is ended, the priest takes a towel and girds himself with it; he takes a basin in his hands, and kneeling in front of those who have been chosen, he washes their feet and wipes them, kissing them also one by one. So he takes, momentarily, the place of his Master. The centuries are swept away, the Upper Room in the stillness of the night is all around him: “If I, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye ought also to wash one another’s feet.” I have knelt in the sanctuary of our lovely church in Rosettenville and washed the feet of African students, stooping to kiss them. In this also I have known the meaning of identification. The difficulty is to carry the truth out into Johannesberg, into South Africa, into the world.
Earlier today, Queen Elizabeth II will have celebrated “the Royal Maundy” in the chapel of my old College and that of my mentor, Trevor Huddleston, at Oxford, Christ Church — our college chapel is also the cathedral of that great city.
The current Dean Of Christ Church, the Very Reverend Christopher Lewis, gave the BBC this historical detail:
The last time it happened here was in 1644 when Charles I was thrown out of London and welcomed in Oxford.
Here’s the glorious building where the ceremony will have taken place:
The Royal Maundy is celebrated by the monarch giving two purses to local pensioners — 83 men and 83 women this year since HM is 83 years old — a white purse containing sterling silver 1p, 2p, 3p and 4p pieces, and a red purse contained a £5 and a 50p coin commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s coronation in 1953.
Maundy Thursday commemorates the day of the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles. The word ‘Maundy’ comes from the command or ‘mandatum’ by Christ at the Last Supper, to love one another.
The tradition of the Sovereign giving money to the poor dates from the thirteenth century. The Sovereign also used to give food and clothing, and even washed the recipients’ feet. The last monarch to do so was James II.
It’s a curious survival, the Royal Maundy, but a touching one, looking back to the days when the monarch really was expected to be a bit like a priest for the nation – acting out the great symbols of faith on behalf of everyone. …
And that’s very much what the Royal Maundy is about. What we see today is only a shadow of what used to be done hundreds of years ago, when the monarch would actually do what Jesus did at the Last Supper and wash the feet of a number of poor people. Back in the Middle Ages, this meant that the King was just doing what priests and bishops often did, not only on Maundy Thursday but on many other occasions.
They didn’t all do it because they were lovely humble people – some were, and some definitely weren’t – but because they accepted one great truth that needed repeating over and over again, the one big thing that Christianity had brought into the world of human imagination.
And that was – and is – the truth that power constantly needs to be reminded of what it’s for. Power exists, in the Church or the state or anywhere else, so that ordinary people may be treasured and looked after, especially those who don’t have the resources to look after themselves. The Bible is crystal clear that this is the standard by which the gospel of Jesus judges the powerful of this world.
Power exists, in the Church or the state or anywhere else, so that ordinary people may be treasured and looked after, especially those who don’t have the resources to look after themselves.
Here is the text from St John’s gospel — the gospel that focuses its attention at the symbolic level — describing the original event [John 13.1-15]:
He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?
Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.
Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet.
Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.
Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.
Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.
So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
Here finally, for sheer beauty, is the great 16th century Spanish composer Tomás Luis de Victoria‘s First Lamentation for Maundy Thursday, sung by the Tallis Scholars in the chapel of Merton College, Oxford — just around the corner from Christ Church:
[ by Charles Cameron -- on the ceremonial installations of the 266th Pope in Rome, and the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury, together with a brief excursus on getting through doors ]
This particular pairing of photographs is a light-hearted offering, showing the Pope being quietly and graciously assisted down the steps of St Peter’s to the open air altar, while the Archbishop of Canterbury must pretty much force his way into his own cathedral with three strong blows from his pastoral staff… both ceremonies having taken place over the last few days.
The gesture of beating on the church door, requesting permission to enter, is in fact an old one. Here is video of the same ceremony, as enacted on the death of the Archduke Otto von Hapsburg, when the body of that exalted aristocrat and devout Catholic was brought the Capuchin Cloister to be buried:
The text of the ceremony proceeds in a beautifully constructed threefold fashion. First, the Archduke begs admission to the church under his hereditary stiles and titles:
Prior: Who desires entry?
MC: Otto of Austria; once Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary; Royal Prince of Hungary and Bohemia, of Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, Galicia, Lodomeria and Illyria; Grand Duke of Tuscany and Cracow; Duke of Lorraine, Salzburg, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola and the Bukowina; Grand Prince of Transylvania, Margrave of Moravia; Duke of Upper and Lower Silesia, of Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Guastalla, of O?wi?cim and Zator, Teschen, Friaul, Dubrovnik and Zadar; Princely Count of Habsburg and Tyrol, of Kyburg, Gorizia and Gradisca; Prince of Trent and Brixen; Margrave of Upper and Lower Lusatia and Istria; Count of Hohenems, Feldkirch, Bregenz, Sonnenburg etc.; Lord of Trieste, Kotor and Windic March, Grand Voivod of the Voivodeship of Serbia etc. etc.
It is not enough:
Prior: We do not know him.
On the second occasion, he presents himself in terms of his own accomplishments and honors:
(The MC knocks thrice)
Prior: Who desires entry?
MC: Dr. Otto von Habsburg, President and Honorary President of the Paneuropean Union, Member and quondam President of the European Parliament, honorary doctor of many universities, honorary citizen of many cities in Central Europe, member of numerous venerable academies and institutes, recipient of high civil and ecclesiastical honours, awards, and medals, which were given him in recognition of his decades-long struggle for the freedom of peoples for justice and right.
And again it is not enough, it is not simple enough:
Prior: We do not know him.
(The MC knocks thrice)
This third and final time, the appeal is simple and all too human:
Prior: Who desires entry?
MC: Otto, a mortal and sinful man.
Prior: Then let him come in.
And thus, ceremonially, neither his high position nor his accomplishments suffice the man to enter the church, whose threshold requires humility…
I am, I suppose, at the antipodes from many of my fellows these days — a futurist who nonetheless glories in ceremonial and tradition, believing that gestures such as the knocking on the door just described carry a symbolic impact which can move us deeply.
Accordingly, I am going to append here the two booklets containing the respective orders of service in Canterbury and Rome these last few days:
The entire ceremony of the installation of Pope Francis has been made available on YouTube, and while I do not expect many Zenpundit readers to watch it in its 4-hour entirety, I am first posting here a single excerpt, the Te Deum by Tomás Luis de Victoria sung at the conclusion of the Mass of Inauguration:
Here, for those who may be interested, and for the record, is the telecast in full:
I have only been able to find a severely edited BBC version of the enthronement ceremony in Canterbury, which gives little sense of the majesty of the English ritual and choral music —
There was also some African drumming, as can be seen in this (far shorter) Telegraph video:
By way of comparison, here is a surviving video of the coronation of HM Queen Elizabeth II in London, about sixty years ago:
I would like on some other occasion to walk you through one or more such great rituals as these, exploring the depths and symbolic meanings of such things as the red coloration of a cardinal’s robes, signifying a sworn willingness to die for the faith, and the anointing and robing of a British monarch, symbolizing her (or his) quasi-priestly function as Supreme Governor of the church…
The details of such rituals — strong statements uttered in a moment of high purpose, such as “Be so merciful that you be not too remiss, so execute justice that you forget not mercy” in the English coronation rite — can shape a lifetime, and a people.
If it should happen that the Roman Pontiff resigns his office, it is required for validity that he makes the resignation freely and that it be duly manifested, but not that it be accepted by anyone.
In accordance with this canon, Pope Benedict XVI made the declaration seen in the video above, in which he said that he would resign from his pontificate at the end of this month. The Vatican’s English text of his Declaratio reads:
I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the barque of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.
Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.
The Anglican blogger who styles himself Archbishop Cranmer (despite the fact that his namesake was burned at the stake in 1556 for declaring the pope of his own day the antichrist) gets it right IMO when he writes:
Pope Benedict XVI has been the most searing intellect to occupy the Chair of St Peter for at least a couple of centuries, and the vacuum he leaves will be immense. It was an enormous blessing to the Church that his pontificate coincided with the archepiscopacy of Rowan Williams: together they were theological giants in a sea of prelate pygmies.
Likewise, I am with Damian Thompson, who blogs at the Telegraph, in saying:
He has renewed the worship of the Church, reconnecting it to the majesty and deep piety of the past. He has forged new links with non-Catholics, for example by bringing ex-Anglicans into the fold through the Ordinariate. He has promulgated teaching documents further integrating the love and teaching of Christ with the structures of the Church – structures that, it would appear, he feels now unable to continue ruling.
He will be intensely missed by those of us for whom he was, in his quiet way, the most inspiring Pope of our lifetimes.
Pope Benedict’s great gift to the Church has been his emphasis on beauty in liturgy, his great gift to the world his Encyclical on social justice, Caritas in Veritate: now, perhaps, he is giving himself the greatest gift, that of retirement into “a life dedicated to prayer”.
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