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Table of contents
- The Civilization of Good People
- Cathar Texts: The Book of the Two Principles
- Cathar Perfect
Many souls were seduced and for nine days and nine nights they fell through the hole in heaven the devil had created. God allowed this for those who wished to leave but other souls were falling through the hole and so God sealed it.
The devil replied that they could not because he had fashioned for them bodies which would bind them to earth and cause them to forget all about heaven. The devil made the bodies easily enough but could not manage to attach the souls to them so they would think, feel, and move; vexed by this, he asked God for help. God understood that the souls who had fallen would have to work their way back to his grace and that they could do so through struggling with these bodies so he made a deal with the devil: the devil could do as he liked with the bodies, but the souls which animated them belonged to God.
The devil consented, and humans were created. Trapped in these bodies, the soul would live, die, and be reborn in another as long as that soul remained attached to the body and the pleasures which the devil had promised it back in heaven. Once the soul renounced the body and all its temptations, it would be freed to return to God and resume its former state.
Suicide was and is still considered a serious sin by the Church, marriage is encouraged, reincarnation rejected, as is the concept of duality. In Catharism, God and the devil are two eternal, uncreated, forces of equal power; in Christianity, the devil is a fallen angel created by God and ultimately subordinate to him. In addition to these differences, there was the Cathar insistence that Jesus had never been born of a woman and been made flesh, never suffered, died, and was therefore never resurrected. All these events, as told in the gospel narratives, happened ideally as a sort of allegory for the state of the soul which is born into the world trapped in a body, must suffer and die, and will finally be free only after it has mastered the body and renounced the things of this world.
They considered the cross a symbol of Rex Mundi and believed it should be destroyed when encountered as it was a representation of evil. The cross, they claimed, was nothing more than a symbol of worldly power, and all the sacraments of the church, including infant baptism and communion, were likewise rejected. Cathars who were not celibate practiced birth control and abortion, believing that sex was a natural aspect of the human condition and could be engaged in for pleasure, not only for procreation; in fact, procreation was discouraged.
Some scholars have suggested, in fact, that the growth of the Cult of the Virgin Mary in medieval Europe — which became an increasingly popular and influential movement — was encouraged by the Cathars' elevation of womanhood. The Cathars lived in communities which varied in size from 60 to individuals. They shared their possessions and took care of each other as a family.
The faith gained a strong foothold in Italy and Southern France through its appeal to the peasantry. The perfecti lived such blameless lives and were so eager to be of assistance to others, they inspired devoted followers. The faith did not remain restricted to the peasantry for long but spread up the medieval hierarchy to artisans like weavers and potters, writers and poets, merchants and business owners, members of the Catholic clergy, and finally nobility.
Eleanor of Aquitaine l. The Cathars dressed simply in dark robes with hoods or hats, went about barefoot, and the men were unshaven with long beards. The Council of Saint-Felix of CE organized the Cathar communities into bishoprics, each with a presiding bishop who was responsible only to his own flock. There was no central authority like the Pope of Rome. Men and women were perfecti. In Southern France, where the church had never had a very strong hold, Cathars lived and worked among the wider community and convened their gatherings without concern.
Elsewhere, they had to be more careful and hide their faith. This practice, according to some scholars, gave birth to the most popular literary genre of the Middle Ages: the poetry of courtly love. Courtly love poetry developed in Southern France at the same time as the Cathar heresy. The common theme of this body of medieval literature is the beautiful woman who commands worship and service by a courteous, brave, and noble knight. The famous literary motif of the damsel-in-distress who must be rescued comes from this genre, and its most famous author was the French poet Chretien de Troyes c.
The poems often involve a quest or some struggle to find or rescue a lady who has been abducted or imprisoned. Most importantly, the poems celebrated romantic love, which was considered quite different, and far superior, to marriage because in marriage the couple had no choice the match was arranged by the parents while one chose to engage in extra-marital or pre-marital love affairs. The scholar C. Lewis and others cite Catharism as a probable inspiration for these works and claims they were allegories of the Cathar vision.
The damsel-in-distress was the feminine principle of God, Sophia, who had been abducted by the Catholic Church, and the brave knight was the Cathar adherent who loved, served, and was sworn to rescue her.
The Civilization of Good People
According to this theory, Catharism spread as widely and quickly as it did through the troubadours who traveled through France performing these works. Whether the poetry was religious allegory helping spread the faith or whether the Cathars simply provided a better alternative to the corrupt and power-hungry medieval church , by the late 12th century CE, Catharism was winning more adherents than ever.
Papal legates had been sent to Southern France to try to win the heretics back to orthodoxy, and councils had been called to discuss the problem; none of these efforts had made any headway. Raymond was not only an ardent protector and supporter of the Cathars but also the bishop of the order in Toulouse. Pope Innocent then called for a crusade against Southern France, promising the nobles of the north that they could keep all the rich lands and booty of their southern neighbors after the Cathars had been killed and their supporters crushed.
The Chartres Cathedral and indeed the town itself are amazing places. For me personally, the cathedral emanates an incredible energy. I've had similar experiences at the Taj Mahal and Angkor Wat. These are special places that transcend human imperfection and exalt the spirit. That feeling is one I hope to have close to home in Bellingham, as I think about the positive things we can do and build in our own community.
The insert in the photo of the cathedral is of one of the rosette windows. That is the same window seen in the photo of the exterior. Chartres Cathedral reportedly has the largest number of medieval 12th and 13th century stained glass panels in the world. While many other gothic cathedrals have perished, Chartres and its windows have remained mostly intact for years, through religious purges, revolutions and two World Wars. So no matter what your religious beliefs are, it is a very special place. As Dick Conoboy commented, dealing with the Paris "Retro" can be quite challenging.
We left Chartres at this morning. We had to return to Paris, arriving at one train station Gare de Montparnasse and depart from another Gare de Lyon. But we avoided the agony of another baggage obstacle course and saved our bodies and minds in exchange. The finishing touch was the high-speed train TGV ride to the south of France which took only 3. With the volcanic activity and security events over the last few weeks, I would not have been surprised if our arrival in France had been delayed. Quite the opposite happened in fact.
Traffic to Seattle was mastered by the HOV lane, airport security was efficient, polite and a breeze. Yes, government bureaucracies can earn and deserve our praise! There were no delays in departure or arrival times and French immigration and customs were fast and hassle free. The only complaint - you guessed it, airline food. My recommendation - stock up on nuts and power bars. Perhaps Costco could be convinced to open an airport discount snack food counter.
They could make a mint On the other hand what occured between the airport and our checkin at the hotel in Chartres was worthy of the Keystone Cops or the Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight.
- Breathing Yeshua- Christian Meditation in the Way of the Heart;
- Il Medioevo - Cattedrali Cavalieri Città (Italian Edition).
- A Rochester Ramble!
- Life Itself;
- Management. Ritorno al futuro: Strategie aziendali per agganciare la ripresa (Cultura di impresa) (Italian Edition)!
- Catharism - Wikipedia.
- The Book of the Two Principles.
We chose to use trains and the famous Paris Metro to make the two-plus hour trip from Charles De Gaulle airport to Chartres. We had previously experienced this kind of getting around town versus traveling on surface transportation such as cabs and busses. The lesson from those trips is that trains and Metro are much preferred, time wise, ecology wise and cost wise. The only problem is the lack of escalators in the Paris Metro. There are lots of stairs and if you are dragging an excessive amount of roll-on baggage….. Several of our friends traveling with us had forgotten the advice of limiting themselves to one small roll-on plus a backpack.
We also encountered a contraption that resembled a guillotine on its side. These are automatic gates at Metro ticket control points. Insert your ticket and, voila! Your must dash through or you could be bisected. Most of us are quick enough, except of course when pulling two roll-ons, carrying a backpack and a camera bag or a purse, and a coat.
Three local inhabitants of Paris blessedly looked the other way, but I swear I heard snickers in French. Snickers are good for air travel as well. In ancient times, pilgrims often encountered travails and tests including having to approach their destination on their knees. That sounds easier than hauling luggage through the Metro. Today is about visiting the Chartres Cathdral.
To me, it is a must-see if you ever get to France. With rare exception my non-business travels have been about experiencing new people and places combined with a bit of adventure and relaxation. One exception was a trip to Cambodia in to dedicate a school. That school, The Bellingham Community School, was constructed in a rural village with the help of many individuals, organizations and businesses here in Bellingham.
On that unique trip my wife and I were accompanied by a teacher, three students, and some friends, parents, and grandparents; some of the helpful many. It was physically and emotionally challenging, it was not about relaxing.
Cathar Texts: The Book of the Two Principles
It was very fulfilling, however, and a remarkable learning adventure for all of us. Another exception is at hand this week. This time the journey is to France. It is part vacation and part pilgrimage.
The itinerary is heavily concentrated in the Languedoc region of southern France, the former home of the Cathars and Knights Templar. There are a dozen of us on this journey. We are starting at Chartres Cathedral outside Paris this weekend.
From there we travel to the little village of Capestang in Languedoc. The region is filled with historic towns and castles, many dating to pre-Roman times. The area is also noted for important sacred sites and festivals, a number related to Mary Magdalene, who exiled and taught there after the Crucifixion. There is both an outer and an inner nature about this trip. I will try to bring a bit of both to this blog over the coming days in place of my regular column.
I hope this way you will enjoy the trip a bit yourself. Bonne route! Ah, the TGV! A blessing and a curse. I used to enjoy the long, leisurely train rides throughout Europe. Except for eating fish they were vegetarians. Their teachings spread into northern Italy and Southern France. He went to look for the Master. He hoped the Master was at the contemplation glade. It was dark but the path was white and he was used to its curves and hills.
Before he could see him he heard him. He joined them and felt the silence of secrets straining to be released. The Master appeared to have regained his composure because his voice was strong and even. One of those lives was of a young man who disobeyed his Master. In a monastery in northern Italy I was the favorite of about a dozen other monks. We were dedicated to a life of companionship with God through Christ. This lifetime was near the end of the first millennium. One of my most vivid memories was arguing that the beginning of the new millennium would be ushered in by the return of Christ.
I was so sure because the Abby Master had been sharing with me mystic secrets about how to totally surrender to God. He had chosen me to receive ancient secrets passed from master to master for over 3, years. After about fifteen years of training he had instructed me in how to share the secrets with another before I died. He was almost 90 years old when he died. Back then that was an extremely long time. The 1,th year since the death of Christ was only twelve years away and I believed so strongly in his return that I decided it was time to share the secrets to help usher in the new millennium.
I preached what I had learned to towns and villages over parts of France and Italy for fifteen years. I was wrong about the new millennium. I quit sharing what I had learned in embarrassment of being wrong that Christ would return. I lived to be almost 60, and I did teach and instruct a new master before I died but the information was out and it was slowly spreading.
I died not knowing the tragic results of my disobedience. It took about a hundred years before the Roman Catholic Church noticed that a form of Gnosticism had returned. It was over years later. As they all three made their way back in the starlight the Master chuckled. I remember now that I was proud to die for my beliefs. I guess I know now to keep all this a secret.