Lent
Lent
LENT defines the Carnaval Season 325 AD
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Epiphany
Ash Wendesday
Church Carnival Traditions
Twelfth Night
Fastnacht
King Cake
final fires
Fat Tuesday
Mithras
Clement of Alexandria
& the mysteries
Gnostic scripture
Trinity
Constantine
Nicene Creed
Christian Antagonism
Links
Dating Fat Tuesday
Easter
Calculating Easter
Semana Santa in Spain
BattleOfCarnivalAndLent.jpg
The Battle between Carnival and Lent
Pieter Bruegel the Elder 1559 [
more]
The "Edict of Milan" (AD 313) declared that the Roman Empire would be neutral with regard to religious worship, officially ending all government-sanctioned persecution, especially of Christianity. The Edict was issued in the names of the Western tetrarch Constantine the Great, and Licinius, the Eastern tetrarch.
Porphyry found that the genealogies of Matthew and Luke conflicted with each other, and he pointed to their conflicting descriptions of Jesus' infancy. Against the claim that the apostles were infallible, Porphyry asked why then did Peter and Paul quarrel. Believing in a God who was the author of good, Porphyry thought the idea of God's eternal punishment was nonsense. He believed that good came to people through their connecting themselves with God. He believed that people could see only a part of the whole but that it was their duty to wed their minds to God as best they could. Evil, he believed, came from people deviating from an awareness of God.
Porphyry who succeeded and popularized the neo-Platonism of Plotinus throughout the Roman Empire just prior to Constantine changing  the world by becoming the first Christian emperor in 306AD.
Rome's Decline and Christianity's Ascent, to 306 CE at fsmitha.com 
Among the church laws, called canons the council promulgated  twenty was prohibition of self-castration;
Christianity developed in a world of highly syncretistic religion; Alexander the Great and thereby Hellenic culture had overrun much of the civilized Near Eastern world and influenced many local religions. Despite this milieu, mystery religions weren't to become popular in what would become known as the province of Judea. There are parallels to be observed, however, between how early orthodox Christianity developed and some aspects of gnostic mystery religions

Trinity & among the 3 monotheistic traditions

The fiercely monotheistic Jews rejected the idea of the Trinity since it first arose, it has been similarly rejected by Islam since that religion was founded, and many other men and women of all backgrounds have found the concept difficult to understand or accept.
Three Kings

The word "Trinity" is not found in the New Testament, nor is the doctrine explicitly taught there. However, foundations of the concept of the Trinity can be seen in the New Testament, especially in the Gospel of John, one of the latest and most theologically developed of the New Testament books. 

Hints of Trinitarian beliefs can also be seen in the teachings of extra-biblical writers as early as the end of the first century.  However, the clearest early expression of the concept came with Tertullian, a Latin theologian who wrote in the early third century. Tertullian coined the words "Trinity" and "person" and explained that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit were "one in essence - not one in Person."

About a century later, in 325, the Council of Nicea set out to officially define the relationship of the Son to the Father. The council established the doctrine of the Trinity as orthodoxy and condemned Arius' any variation on its creed. The creed adopted by the council described Christ as "God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance (homoousios) with the Father."

Nicea did not end the controversy, however. Debate over how the creed (especially the phrase "one substance") ought to be interpreted continued to rage for decades. One group advocated the doctrine that Christ was a "similar substance" (homoiousios) as the Father. But for the most part, the issue of the Trinity was settled at Nicea and, by the fifth century, never again became a focus of serious controversy.

Most post-Nicene theological discussion of the Trinity consisted of attempts to understand and explain such a unique concept. Gregory of Nyssa, in his treatise, That There are Not Three Gods, compared the divinity shared by the three persons of the Trinity to the common "humanness," or human nature, that is shared by individual human beings. (Ironically, this initially promising explanation has been seen by some to yield a conclusion quite opposite than the title of his work.)

Although everyone takes the path he or she makes through the universe, collaboration has always been inherent to the spiritual path. The singular trajectory of the individual is unique and indeed treasured for its originality. The value of what each one of us knows about the mystery of life shines like a thread in the tapestry of the complex weave that unites all beings in that mystery.

- Diane de Prima, American poet
Gnostic scripture
The Sacred Texts that did not make the cut
Last page of "Gospel of Thomas" coptic manuscript. (Photo

Courtesy of the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity, Claremont Graduate

University)
The Nag Hammadi Library, a collection of thirteen ancient codices containing over fifty texts, was discovered in upper Egypt in 1945. This immensely important discovery includes a large number of primary Gnostic scriptures -- texts once thought to have been entirely destroyed during the early Christian struggle to define "orthodoxy" -- scriptures such as the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Philip, and the Gospel of Truth

Gnostic Christians believed that they acquired knowledge through revelations from God - not from sense experience coupled with mental processing and not from the interpretations of priests. They believed that God was egalitarian in distributing his revelations and that bishops might be among those who had been denied revelations. Some bishops saw this view of revelation as a threat to their authority. And to address this issue, bishops met in the year 172 and together denounced Gnosticism.

The Gnostics cherished the ongoing force of divine revelation--Gnosis was the creative experience of revelation, a rushing progression of understanding, and not a static creed. Carl Gustav Jung, the great Swiss psychologist and a life-long student of Gnosticism in its various historical permutations, affirms,

…We find in Gnosticism what was lacking in the centuries that followed: a belief in the efficacy of individual revelation and individual knowledge. This belief was rooted in the proud feeling of man's affinity with the gods....

Primary among all the revelatory perceptions a Gnostic might reach was the profound awakening that came with knowledge that something within him was uncreated. The Gnostics called this "uncreated self" the divine seed, the pearl, the spark of knowing: consciousness, intelligence, light.

Gnostic experience was mythopoetic: in story and metaphor, and perhaps also in ritual enactments, Gnosticism sought expression of subtle, visionary insights inexpressible by rational proposition or dogmatic affirmation. For the Gnostics, revelation was the nature of Gnosis. Irritated by their profusion of "inspired texts" and myths, Ireneaus complains in his classic second century refutation of Gnosticism, that “…every one of them generates something new, day by day, according to his ability; for no one is deemed perfect, who does not develop...some mighty fiction.”

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"Carnival is not a spectacle seen by the people; they live in it, and everyone participates because its very idea embraces all the people. While carnival lasts, there is no other life outside it. During carnival time life is subject only to its laws, that is, the laws of its own freedom. It has a universal spirit; it is a special condition of the entire world, of the world's revival and renewal, in which all take part. Such is the essence of carnival, vividly felt by all its participants."

Mikhail Bakhtin
Rabelais and His World
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First Council of Nicea - 325 AD

The boundaries of modern day Carnaval, began with the formation of the hierarchy of Christendom following their first ever meeting.
called by the Emperor Constantine.  The formerly official religion of Sol Invictus, as well as the followers of Isis and Bacchus were the big losers. The church took over their much honored feast days by moving the date of celebration of Jesus' birth to December 25th where the official Roman religion recognizing the birth of Mithras was celebrated, as well as that of many cultures that recognized the return of the sun at winter solstice festivals in the great consolidation of traditions that made up the Roman Saturnalia midwinter holiday. Carnaval, or the ancient pagan festivals the church was not able to repress, were  given the time zone between the Twelfth Night [6JAN] and Ash Wednesday [40 days & 6 Sundays before Easter]

The Council also adopted the first Sunday following the Vernal Equinox for Easter which created the moving date for Carnaval.  This had somewhat of a historical basis since it is believed Jesus was crucified during the Jewish Passover holiday which occurs mid-April. One of the more compelling reasons for the Council was to change the date from being too closely associated with the Jewish holiday.  It should also be noted that the two large goddess cults of Isis and Cybele  had their main festival seasons in the early Spring months of March and April which would now be off-limits due to the official observance of Lent.

The bishops decreed in regard to the Passover that "there must be one unanimous concord on the celebration of God's holy and supremely excellent day."

Invitations to all the bishops in Christendom were sent, 318 bishops together with 1500 in staff gathered at the Council of Nicea (near Istanbul, Turkey today) from all around the world.  This council,  convoked by the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great in AD 325, was the first ecumenical  "worldwide" conference of bishops of the Christian Church.

The purpose of the council or synod was to resolve disagreements in the Church of Alexandria over the nature of the Trinity: in particular whether Jesus was of the same or of similar substance as God the Father. St. Alexander of Alexandria took the first position; the popular presbyter Arius, from whom the term Arian controversy comes, took the second. The council decided against the Arians. After the June 19 settlement of the most important topic, the question of the date of the Christian Passover, now called Easter, was brought up.

This feast is linked to the Jewish Passover, as crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus occurred during that festival. By the year 300, most Churches had adopted the Western style of celebrating the feast on the Sunday after the Passover, placing the emphasis on the resurrection, which occurred on a Sunday. Others however celebrated the feast on the 14th of the Jewish month Nisan, the date of the crucifixion according to the Bible's Hebrew calendar.  Alexandria and Rome, however, followed a different calculation, attributed to Pope Soter, so that Christian Passover would never coincide with the Jewish observance and decided in favour of celebrating on the first Sunday after the spring equinox, independently of the Bible's Hebrew calendar. Lent was another matter, the purpose of self-examination and penitence, demonstrated by self-denial, in preparation for Easter was followed widely and varied greatly. Early church father Irenaus of Lyons (c.130-c.200) wrote of such a season in the earliest days of the church, but it lasted only two or three days.

Constantine did play an important role at the Council. Eusebius of Caesarea reports that he played an key part in calming, convincing, and bringing all to agreement on contested points. The account of Eusebius fairly glows in regard to the Emperor, and he is portrayed as a key figure.

The major concern at the conference  greatly agitated Emperor Constantine, and he sent a letter to Arius and Alexander in an attempt to persuade them to lay aside their differences. He wrote, "This contention has not arisen respecting any important command of the law, nor has any new opinion been introduced with regard to the worship of God; but you both entertain the same sentiments, so that you may join in one communion. It is thought to be not only indecorous, but altogether unlawful, that so numerous a people of God should be governed and directed at your pleasure, while you are thus emulously contending with each other, and quarrelling about small and very trifling matters."

The Council of Nicea condemned the beliefs of Arius and wrote the first version of the now famous creed proclaiming that the Son was "one in being with the Father" by use of the Greek word "homoousius."

On July 25, 325, in conclusion, the fathers of the council celebrated the emperor's twentieth anniversary. In his valedictory address, Constantine again informed his hearers how averse he was to dogmatic controversy; he wanted the Church to live in harmony and peace. In a circular letter, he announced the accomplished unity of practice by the whole Church in the date of the celebration of Christian Passover

Mithras Sol Invictus
MithrasCarryingBull.jpgBy the end of the 3rd century, the popular cults of Apollo and Mithras had started to merge into the syncretism known as Mithras Sol Invictus or simply Sol Invictus (the unconquerable sun—a term also used by other cults), and in 274 the emperor Aurelian (whose mother had been a priestess of the sun) made worship of this form official.

Mithas is thought to have its ultimate origin in the cult of Mithra, a deity connected to popular forms of Zoroastrianism (though it is important to note that strictly, early Zoroastrianism is dualist, and modern Zoroastrianism is monotheist, and neither includes Mithra). The caste of priests of the Zoroastrian religion were the Magi, who were considered both to be holy men and astronomers. [more]

Clement of Alexandria (?-c.215)

Clement was born Titus Flavius Clemens in Athens, Greece. His trilogy, the Protrepticushas been called boldest literary undertaking in the history of the Church, since in it Clement for the first time attempted to set forth Christianity for the faithful in the traditional forms of secular literature. Clement is also the most sited source for descriptions of the mystery traditions he was attempting to displace.
The Mysteries

"What if I were to give you an account of the mysteries? I shall not caricature them, as Alkibiades is said to have done, but, in accordance with the truth, I shall lay bare the sorcery hidden in them and I shall parade before the spectators of the truth as if on the stage of life the so-called gods for which your mystic cults are celebrated. "

according to Clement

"The Mysteries, then, are only old customs, empty superstitions and venerated deceptions of the Serpent in which men give themselves to initiations which are in fact non-initiations and to rituals which are devoid of religion.

"What are the contents of the chests of the mysteries? It is necessary to reveal the sacred things of these cults and to say out loud what is supposed to be unsaid. Are they not cakes made of sesame, in the shape of pyramids and balls, cakes with many navels, lumps of salt, and a snake, the cult symbol of Dionysos Bassaros? Are they not pomegranates, fig branches, fennel stalks, ivy leaves, round cakes and poppies? These are their holy things! In addition there are the not-to-be-mentioned sacred objects of Ge Themis: oregano, a lamp, a sword, and a woman's comb which is a euphemism in the cults for the female genitalia. What undisguised shamelessness! In the past for men of decency night was a silent cover of their pleasure but nowadays for those to be initiated the night is full of suggestions and a stimulus to licentiousness and perversions convict the fire kindled for the mystic rituals. Put out your fire, Hierophant! Be ashamed of your torches, Dadouchos! The light convicts your Iacchos. Entrust your mysteries to the night! Let the rituals be honoured with darkness! The fire has a real role in this: its duty is both to convict and to punish.

Such are the Mysteries of the godless. It is right for me to call "godless" men who have remained ignorant of the true God and worship shamelessly a child dismembered by the Titans ,a grief-stricken woman and parts of the body which modesty rightly forbids me to mention.

The Protrepticus forms an introduction inviting the reader to listen, not to the mythical legends of the gods, but to the "new song" of the Logos, the beginning of all things and creator of the world. He demonstrates the folly of idolatry and the pagan mysteries, the horrors of pagan sacrifice, and shows that the Greek philosophers and poets only guessed at the truth, while the prophets set forth a direct way to salvation; and now the divine Logos speaks in his own person, to awaken all that is good in the soul of man and to lead it to immortality.

Among the Hellenized who converted to Christianity was a Greek student and scholar of philosophy named Clement, who lived in Alexandria. He was one of a few men of wealth and property who joined the Christians. Unlike Tertullian, Clement maintained a respect for scholarship. He was an admirer of Plato's philosophy, and he was the first to attempt to synthesize Christianity and Plato. He accepted Plato's description of God as infinite and eternal, transcendent and independent. He saw the universe as God's perfection, and he saw Jesus as God's ultimate revelation and as humanity's guide and instructor.

Clement became an intellectual leader of Alexandria's Christian community and the head of a school for Christians. He advised his fellow Christians to seek other than a literal interpretation of scripture, suggesting that they interpret some scripture symbolically and as messages for the heart. To Clement, the message in Matthew about a camel passing through the eye of a needle more easily than the rich entering the kingdom of heaven was obviously a message of symbolism, and he interpreted it not as a command to give up one's possessions but as inspiration to banish from one's mind excess desires for property or worries about property that interfered with spirituality. Clement claimed that poverty was not in itself worthwhile. Having property, he said, frees one from the effort and distress of acquisition and enables one to practice charity. We must not renounce the wealth which "benefits our neighbors... as well as ourselves," he wrote. Wealth, he added, "is furnished by God for the welfare of man."

Clement also spoke against the belief that sex was sinful and that Adam and Eve had sinned by engaging in it. He described sex as necessary in procreation and a part of god's creation. But he claimed that it had to be regulated by obedience to what was good and decent.

Clement's views remained acceptable to the bishops, fitting as it did with the successful growth of the Church, with the Church's hierarchical order and with its belief in charity and acceptance of donations. Clement would come to be considered one of the Church's early "fathers" and one of the leaders in forming early Christian theology.

world turned upside down image

CHRISTIAN ANTAGONISM 
Persecutions of Christians only became state sponsored systematized ruthlessness in the third century. This was a response to the perceived threat of the growing Christian infrastructure and hierarchy to undermine the public order of religious diversity. The new faith mocked the centuries old traditions by demonizing the deities of Rome.

  Christianity was antagonistic towards Roman tradition, a polarizing force of divine threats and demands in a pluralist religious society. In a world of interfaith marriages, they separated themselves from society and forbade their sons and daughters to marry a non-Christian.

"It followed in their logic, or at least in their practice, that no deity could inflict wrong on another. In Homer's day, perhaps, things had been different. That was long ago and mere myth. Only the Christian propagandists recalled it, to raise laughs, or eyebrows, against their rivals. Living worshipers in the world we are considering instead entered a shrine of Isis to put up a vow or an altar to Aphrodite, and the priest let them. They worshiped Mithras in Hadad's temple. West or east, wherever one looked, there reigned a truly divine peace and undisturbed religious toleration".
Classical scholar Ramsay MacMullen, in his Christianizing the Roman Empire: A.D. 100-400: , pg 13,

Constantine
Constantine was born around 272 in the areaConstantine-made-Emperor.jpg we now call Serbia. At the time, his father was a successful and popular military officer named Constantius (I). Constantius would attain the ranks of Tribune, Provincial Governor and probably Pretorian Prefect before he would be acclaimed Ceasar in Diocletian's Tetrarchy in 293.

324 A.D.

Constantine becomes undisputed emperor of the Roman Empire eliminating the Tetrarchy established by Emperor Diolecten in 293 AD

325 A.D.

Council of Nicea; Eusebius writes his Church History

c. 332 A.D.

Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea is ordered by Constantine to create 50 volumes "on prepared parchment" of the Holy Scriptures

c. 325 - 350 A.D.

Codex Vaticanus created; contains the complete New Testament as we have it today

 
During the time Constantius rose to power, Constantine was 'kept' in the court of Diocletian and then that of Galerius as a deal to keep Constantius' loyalty. After convincing Galerius that Constantine was needed in Britain to fight the Picts, Constantine joined his father in early 306. Meanwhile, Diocletian and Galerius decided to retire and Constantius was elevated to Augustus in May of 305. A little more than a year after his acclamation, Constantius became ill and died. By this time, Constantine had become a popular leader so the solders declared him Augustus. Of the four Ceasars, Constantius was the mildest in his implemetation of Diocletian's persecution of Christans. When Constantine came to power, he unofficially ended the persecutions in his region of authority. At this point he still offered up to Mars and to Apollo; to Sol Invinctus.

Constantine the Great
One could argue that Jesus may have founded the Christian Faith, but that Constantine founded the Christian Church.

 Lactantius, tells us that (in 312) Constantine had a dream in which he was commanded to place the sign of Christ on his soldier's shields. In the pagan world of the time, it was normal for the gods to communicate thru dreams.

In a crucial battle to gain control of the Roman empire, Constantine used a Christian symbol as his banner and so gained the support of the Christians among the warriors drawn up to fight at the Milvian Bridge, Constantine won the battle and rewarded his supporters by decreeing that Christianity would henceforth be tolerated.

The life of Constantine would become a pivotal period in the history of both the empire and of Europe. His decisions would change everything. Constantine's Christianity had a sort of pagan beginning. The Emperor Constantine I was, like emperors before him, high priest of the Mithraic religion. However, he was also interested in creating unity for the sake of ease of governance, and to this end involved himself in a dispute between Christian groups over the definition of the Holy Trinity and the determination of the date for Easter, summoning the First Council of Nicaea.
 
Constantine instituted use of the Chi-Rho symbol, representative of Christianity, also alleged by some scholars to have had use as an obeloi for "auspicious" thus serving both Christian and non-Christian purpose simultaneously.

In 330, Constantine established the eastern Roman capital at Constantinople, a new city without the pagan traditions of Rome.

Constantine later required the bishops to regularize the practice of their faith.  In the same year, he ordered the Christian leaders to decide which of their secret books were to be accepted as representing the true faith. The result of their work was the canon, the Bible in essentially its present form

Constantine, legend has it, that he was baptized a Christian on his deathbed. Whether that is true or not, he had turned a disorganized and persecuted ghetto faith into a respected institution, had seen that it triumphed over its competitors, and had shaped it into an eminently Roman institution.

Emperor Theodosius Bans Pagan Religions
Less than a century after Constantine's Council of Nicea, the east's Emperor Theodosius banned all pagan worship, sought to destroy their temples and made Christianity the only acceptable religion of the empire. By formally banning any religion other than Christianity, Europe embarked on a long journey of religious intolerance that wouldn't begin to be overcome until the European Enlightenment and the American experiment.

In February, 380, Theodosius and Gratian issued their decree which wiped out religious diversity and any religious liberty that remained:


Theodosian Code  16.1.2:

"We desire that all peoples subject to Our benign Empire shall live under the same religion that the Divine Peter, the Apostle, gave to the Romans, and which the said religion declares was introduced by himself, and which it is well known that the Pontiff Damascus, and Peter, Bishop of Alexandria, a man of apostolic sanctity, embraced; that is to say, in accordance with the rules of apostolic discipline and the evangelical doctrine, we should believe that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit constitute a single Deity, endowed with equal majesty, and united in the Holy Trinity."

"We order all those who follow this law to assume the name of Catholic Christians, and considering others as demented and insane, we order that they shall bear the infamy of heresy; and when the Divine vengeance which they merit has been appeased, they shall afterwards be punished in accordance with Our resentment, which we have acquired from the judgment of Heaven."

Pope apologizes for sins of church
March 13, 2000

Pope John Paul II issued an apology for errors of his church over the last 2000 years. His homily did not single out specific periods or groups in history but a plea to forgive the use of violence in the service of truth
 "We are deeply saddened by the behavior of those who in the course of history have caused these children of yours to suffer, and asking your forgiveness we wish to commit ourselves to genuine brotherhood with the people of the Covenant.
---POPE JOHN PAUL II

Links
The Battle between Carnival and Lent
Pieter Bruegel the Elder 1559 [
more]
Twelfth Night
= Carnaval Season Begins
the evening of the fifth of January, preceding Twelfth Day, or  "the eve of the Epiphany" In New Orleans, Louisiana, the night of January 6 with the first Carnival celebrations is called Twelfth Night
Long-time conventional wisdom has told us that the church's only contribution to Carnaval was naming it to emphasize it's ending prior to the 40 days of fasting for Lent in preparation for Easter. Others now believe, that the term "Carnaval" does not originate from the Italian "carne" = meat and "vale" = goodbye, but from the Latin "carrus navalis"; = the ship of fools. In the city of Babylon a magnificently decorated ship on wheels, pulled by the faithful, was brought to the temple of the god Marduk. Similar "ship chariots" were part of the rites honoring the Egyptian goddess Isis. However the first illustration of a ship being used as a float in a parade was done by the Greeks in honor of Dionysus in Athens in the 6th century B.C.
Dionysos in procession on a ship-cart
"Fastnacht" translates as "Eve of the beginning of the fast," This is how Carnaval is known in Germany and Switzerland
The final fires of Carnival which varies from "Juan Carnival" "a giant sardine" great paper-mache figures, or simply a huge fire are related to the Church's insisting on a visible end to Carnival celebrations and on a public "burning of the spirit of Fasnacht."
The King Cake tradition was brought to the Mobile-New Orleans area by colonists from France and Spain where it it still celebrate. Legend has it that the cakes began in France and were made in a circle to represent the circular routes that the Wise Men took to find Jesus, in order to confuse King Herod and foil his plans of killing the Christ Child. The season for king cake is begins from the Twelfth Night or Epiphany, 6 January, through Mardi Gras Day. The person who gets the king piece often with a baby but sometimes a bean or a King with a crown becomes King or Queen for the day. They may even be in charge of the next King cake party.
Shrove Tuesday
The name ‘Shrove’ comes from the archaic English word ‘to shrive’, which means to confess or hear confessions of sin, the ancient practice of being “shriven”  in order to begin and keep a holy Lent.
Fat Tuesday or in French "Mardi Gras" refers to the feast before the fast of the Lenten season. This is also know as Pancake Day in England and other places since pancakes were popular as families ate the last of the eggs and butter that they were allowed before Lent.
Twelve Days & Candlemas
In the Western church, the feast of Christmas was established before that of Epiphany. Over time the West decided to celebrate Christmas on December 25. The East continued to treat January 6 as the day marking Jesus's birth. This has given rise in the west to the notion of a twelve-day festival, starting on December 25, and ending on January 6, called the twelve days of Christmas, although some Christian cultures — especially those of Latin America — extend it to forty days, ending on Candlemas, or February 2
 Epiphany January 6
 Epiphany (Greek: επιφάνεια, "the appearance; miraculous phenomenon") is a Christian feast intended to celebrate the 'shining forth' or revelation of God to mankind in human form, in the person of Jesus. The observance had its origins in the eastern Christian churches, and included the birth of Jesus; the visit of the Magi, or Wise Men (traditionally named Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar) who arrived in Bethlehem; and all of Jesus' childhood events, up to his baptism in the Jordan by John the Baptist. Today in Eastern Orthodox churches, the emphasis at this feast is on the shining forth and revelation of Jesus Christ as the Messiah and second person of the Holy Trinity at the time of his baptism. It is also celebrated because, according to tradition, the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River by St. John the Baptist marked the only occasion when all three persons of the Holy Trinity manifested their physical presence simultaneously to humanity: God the Father by speaking through the clouds, God the Son being baptized in the river, and God the Holy Spirit in the shape of a dove overflying the scene

The first reference to Epiphany in the Eastern Church is a slighting remark by Clement of Alexandria
 
Ash Wednesday: Dust to Dust
The First Day of Lent:
Carnaval has Ended at Midnight on Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras
Ash_wednesday
Until the 600s, Lent began on Quadragesima (Fortieth) Sunday, but Gregory the Great (c.540-604) moved it to a Wednesday, now called Ash Wednesday, to secure the exact number of 40 days in Lent—not counting Sundays, which were feast days. Gregory, who is regarded as the father of the medieval papacy, is also credited with the ceremony that gives the day its name. As Christians came to the church for forgiveness, Gregory marked their foreheads with ashes reminding them of the biblical symbol of repentance (sackcloth and ashes) and mortality: "You are dust, and to dust you will return"The minister says "Remember, man, that you are dust, and to dust you shall return."
 It also marks the beginning of the Lenten fast Eastern Christianity starts Great Lent on Clean Monday, which, due to differences in the calculation of Easter and the length of Great Lent, is often later in the year
 
Eventually, various foods (like fish) were allowed, and in 1966 the Roman Catholic church only restricted fast days to Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. It should be noted, however, that practices in Eastern Orthodox churches are still quite strict.
Lent is still devoutly observed in some mainline Protestant denominations  The inspiration is from Christ's fast for forty days and forty nights in the desert. The Church has never allowed Sundays to be kept as  fast days as they are by definition "feast days."
Passover
The final plague of the Plagues of Egypt, the killing of all the firstborn like the other plagues, did not affect Israelites. The Torah goes on to state, that upon seeing the blood, God would pass over the homes of the Israelites.

Passover is a Jewish holiday central to Judaism. Before the holiday begins, observant Jews will remove and discard all food with leavening (called chametz) from their households. It is traditional for a Jewish family to gather for a special dinner called a seder  where the story of the Israelite exodus from Egypt is retold by the reading the seder prayer book, the Haggadah.

The Nicene Creed
The Nicene Creed is often used as a summation of Christian faith. It is trinitarian statement which is also professed by converts to Christianity when they receive baptism, and at other times in the liturgy of the church, particularly in the celebration of the Eucharist.

Trinitarian Christians are baptized "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19). Thus, their Christian life, and the Christian understanding of salvation, typically begins with a declaration related to the Trinity
The Nicene Creed
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.
Jesus with grapes

Jesus with grapes

Jesus like Dionysus is a God in human form, who dies and is resurrected, born of a mortal mother by a divine father. Like Jesus, Dionysus is a god whose tragic passion is re-enacted by eating his flesh and drinking his blood. Jesus like Dionysus, transformed water into wine. Like Jesus, Dionysus is a miraculous god associated with the immortality of the soul. Like Christianity, the religion of Dionysus spread like wildfire. Like Jesus, Dionysus is the God of the visionary state achieved through the sacrament.
Compel Them To Come In
Saint Augustine, one of the greatest thinkers of the early church, described the Trinity as comparable to the three parts of an individual human being: mind, spirit, and will. They are three distinct aspects, yet they are inseparable and together constitute one unified human being.

Augustine believed in total uniformity of opinion and fought all religious diversity as enemies of God. With that belief accompanied the conviction that persecution was a duty of 'true believers'. By using force, religious diversity was eliminated in the name of the truth.

The Church historian FW Farrar  wrote:

"Augustine must bear the fatal charge of being the first as well as one of the ablest defenders of the frightful cause of persecution and intolerance. He was the first to misuse the words Compel Them To Come In - a fragmentary phrase wholly unsuited to bear the weight of horror for which it was made responsible. He was the first and ablest asserter of the principle that led to the Albigensian crusades, Spanish armadas, Netherlands' butcheries, St Bartholomew massacres, the accursed infamies of the Inquisition, the vile espionage, the hideous balefires of Seville and Smithfield, the racks, the gibbets, the thumbscrews, the subterranean torture-chambers used by churchly torturers who assumed 'the garb and language of priests with the trade and temper of executioners,' to sicken, crush and horrify the Revolted Conscience Of Mankind.... It is mainly because of his later intolerance that the influence of Augustine falls like a dark shadow across the centuries. It is thus that an Arnold of Citeaux, a Torquemada, a Sprenger, an Alva, a Philip The Second, a Mary Tudor, a Charles IX and a Louis XIV can look up to him as an authorizer of their enormities, and quote his sentences to defend some of the vilest crimes which ever caused men to look with horror on the religion of Christ and the Church of God."


Justinian would also continue the work of Constantine and Theodosius in persecuting Christian heresy. Like Constantine, Theodosius, Ambrose, Cyril, Martin, Chysostom and Augustine, he was convinced that the empire's stability required a rigid, totalistic, empire wide conformity to the Nicene Creed. Justinian's Codex and Novella parts of the Corpus Juris Civilis were specificly designed to wipe out religious diversity. They were written to secure and protect the Nicene Chuch with the might and law of the empire. Christianity may have never have grown to its proportions without imperial might because of the popularity of paganism.

Pagans had always said that Christianity offered them nothing new; they had their virgin births, their miracles, their Godmen and their resurrections. In this Christian emperor's view, it was for the good of the empire to wipe out individual choice. Ironicly, heresy means "choice". To Justinian, choice meant disorder. To the Christian emperor, individuality meant chaos
 



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