Monday, February 23, 2009

Almost Forgot - It's Mardi Gras

We here in Louisiana do not need any reason to have a good time but given an opportunity, we will. Here's a little history - Mardi Gras began long before Europeans set foot in the New World. In mid February the ancient Romans celebrated the Lupercalia, a circus like festival not entirely unlike the Mardi Gras we are familiar with today. When Rome embraced Christianity, the early Church fathers decided it was better to incorporate certain aspects of pagan rituals into the new faith rather than attempt to abolish them altogether. Carnival became a period of abandon and merriment that preceded the penance of Lent, thus giving a Christian interpretation to the ancient custom. I think that was a wise decision. You see the Catholic Church throughout the ages has battled different heresies that have tried in one form or another equate the physical world with evil. The Gnostics were the first on the scene with the battle cry "matter is evil". They tried to deny Christ's human nature for God who is good cannot become that which is evil. The Albigensians taught that the spirit was created by God, and was good, while the body was created by an evil god, and the spirit must be freed from the body. Having children was one of the greatest evils, since it entailed imprisoning another "spirit" in flesh. Logically, marriage was forbidden, though fornication was permitted. Tremendous fasts and severe mortifications of all kinds were practiced, and their leaders went about in voluntary poverty. There are still faint manifestations of this in certain Protestant denominations that forbid one thing or another. Our faith teaches that Jesus had both a Divine nature and a human nature. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: After the Council of Chalcedon, some made of Christ's human nature a kind of personal subject. Against them, the fifth ecumenical council, at Constantinople in 553, confessed that "there is but one hypostasis [or person], which is our Lord Jesus Christ, one of the Trinity."Thus everything in Christ's human nature is to be attributed to his divine person as its proper subject, not only his miracles but also his sufferings and even his death: "He who was crucified in the flesh, our Lord Jesus Christ, is true God, Lord of glory, and one of the Holy Trinity."

The Church thus confesses that Jesus is inseparably true God and true man. He is truly the Son of God who, without ceasing to be God and Lord, became a man and our brother.

Jesus was present a many occasions in which people were getting together, weddings, banquets, and gatherings. He was sometimes called out for being present where "tax collectors and sinners were gathered" He enjoyed the company of others in social gatherings. He felt the same human emotions we feel. We are told that upon seeing the tomb of Lazarus Jesus "wept bitterly". He felt sorrow and sadness for Martha and Mary's loss. He also felt the sting of those who mocked Him while he hung on the cross dying for those very people. I guess what I am saying is celebrate those moments in your life. There is a balance between enjoyment of the things in the physical world and the realization that self denial brings you to an acute spiritual awareness. They are both good things as long as they are in the context of the virtuous life.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Albigensians or "Cathars" derives from the Greek word Katheroi and means "Pure Ones". They were a gnostic Christian pacifistic sect that arose in the 11th century, an offshoot of a small surviving European gnostic community that emigrated to the Albigensian region in the south of France.The medieval Cathar movement flourished in the 12th century A.D. throughout Europe until its virtual extermination at the hands of the Inquisition in 1245.

There are an ever increasing number of historians and other academics engaged in serious Cathar studies. Interestingly, to date, the deeper they have dug, the more they have vindicated Cathar claims to represent a survival of the Earliest Christian Church.

Thank you!

Brad Hoffstetter
Communications Division
Assembly of good Christians

May we suggest the following scholarly sources: