Christianity


The reading today is about the transfiguration (From the gospel according to Saint Mark). As I’m not that knowledgeable I had a hard time to understand what was happening in this text. So I looked around a bit and thought that I could share it with you.

The transfiguration - Raphael

Here’s Mark 9:2-9

And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter and James and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves, and was transfigured before them. And his garments became shining and exceeding white as snow, so as no fuller upon earth can make white. And there appeared to them Elias with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter answering, said to Jesus: Rabbi, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. For he knew not what he said: for they were struck with fear.

And there was a cloud overshadowing them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying: This is my most beloved son; hear ye him. And immediately looking about, they saw no man any more, but Jesus only with them. And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them not to tell any man what things they had seen, till the Son of man shall be risen again from the dead. And they kept the word to themselves; questioning together what that should mean, when he shall be risen from the dead.

To my pleasant surprise it seems that I’m not the only one having a hard time to grasp what was happening here. Even the three apostles seems kind of confused too. So why did Peter say that he should start building tabernacles? Well, lets look at what Jesus, Moses and Elias is talking about.This is described in Saint Luke chapter 9:30-31:

And behold two men were talking with him. And they were Moses and Elias, Appearing in majesty. And they spoke of his decease that he should accomplish in Jerusalem.

My guess is that Peter rather thought of departure than of death. The three holy men talked about Christ’s departure from Jerusalem – which was death – But Peter did not know about Christ’s death and resurrection (as in questioning together what that should mean, when he shall be risen from the dead). He believe he just understand that Jesus will eventually departure from Jerusalem.

I believe this is the reason for Peters sudden outburst of love for carpentry and housebuilding. He finds it seemly to express his respect and love by referring to one of the three great feasts in the Hebrew liturgical calender: the Sukkot – the feast of tabernacles – an ancient Jewish festival in the remembrance of the Exodus (as in departure) and the temporary houses that was build during the great walk through the desert: Peter offers Jesus, Moses and Elias to make them tabernacles.

Isn’t this a nice thought: The great Apostle, the very first pope, was also a simple man, trying his best, and even when he doesn’t really understand, he tries so hard to do the best, and the most fitting, as he can.

– Pray for us, St. Peter, that we can act as humble and fitting as you did, when we do not understand.

Kids are too cute 🙂

I went to the University as usual this morning and there was this school class getting on the train. I guess they were seven, maybe eight year olds. I was sitting reading when one young girl couldn’t help herself from informing me that she had skates in her bag.

– Great so you are going skating then?
– No, I will not!!! She replied.
– ???
– She fell last time we where skating, her friend explained.
– Yeah, I brought the skates if I should change my mind. But I won’t change my mind, the first girl said.
– Yeah she won’t, the other girl said.
– Yeah. I won’t. I hurt my tooth.
– Yeah.
– Yeah.

The girl gave me a big smile and I saw that one of her front teeth was half cut of, I supposed it happened when she fell. I said I felt sorry for her, but perhaps she could try to skate anyway. She insisted she wouldn’t. The other girl wanted some time in the spotlight too, and said that she had lost a tooth too.

– Look, she said.

I looked at her missing tooth and said I couldn’t see it. She seemed very proud. We went on discussing teeth awhile, then one of the girls asked me, right out of the blue:

– Do you know something about homeless people? They don’t have any toys, you know. If they have children their children have toys, but themselves … Homeless people have no toys.

She lowered her voice:
– That is no toys at all.

 

The borders of these kids empathy was not the lack of love, merely their understanding of the world. Who am I to say I understand this world? I really don’t. Who am I not to learn from these kids: – The borders of my compassion suddenly seemed far to mature and judgmental.

Probably most of you have already seen this. But still, it’s a really great YouTube video. 🙂

And here’s another one:

 

During the middle ages the devotion to Mary was deep and sincere in Scandinavia. Each prayer in the rosary was imagined to transform into a rose which was given by the heart to the blessed virgin mother.

 

I have previously written some entries on this blog about Swedish medieval church paintings picturing the mysteries.

The Rosary have appeared in different versions and with different length through the ages. Already in the eleventh century it was common to pray long sets of Ave Maria. Only the first half was prayed:

Ave María, grátia plena,
Dóminus tecum.
Benedícta tu in muliéribus,
et benedíctus fructus ventris tui,
Jesus.

Somewhere around the twelfth or thirteenth century it became common to pray the rosary in 150 decades, one for each psalm in the Psalter, (hence the name Psalter of the Blessed Virgin Mary). In some monasteries, the munk’s contemplated certain events in Mary’s life.

About 1410 St Dominic, Founder of the Order of Preachers, constructed a version with 50 secrets from the life of Jesus and Mary. In many ways we have the Dominicans to thank for spreading the practice of this prayer. For instance it was the Dominican Alain de la Roche who grouped 50 decades into three series.

In 1545 the second half of the prayer Ave Maria were added by the council of Trent:

Sancta María, Mater Dei,
ora pro nobis peccatóribus,
nunc et in hora mortis nostræ.

In 1569 Pope Pius V issued an apostolic letter the Consueverunt Romani – Call to Prayer – where he established the official, Church-authorized version of the Rosary which are still used today:

and so Dominic looked to that simple way of praying and beseeching God, accessible to all and wholly pious, which is called the Rosary, or Psalter of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in which the same most Blessed Virgin is venerated by the angelic greeting repeated one hundred and fifty times, that is, according to the number of the Davidic Psalter, and by the Lord’s Prayer with each decade. Interposed with these prayers are certain meditations showing forth the entire life of Our Lord Jesus Christ, thus completing the method of prayer devised by the Fathers of the Holy Roman Church.
(Consueverunt Romani by Pius V – 17 September, 1569)

Today the Rosary are prayed in different versions. The Fatima apparition added a part which is commonly used by devote Catholics of today.

When you pray the Rosary, say after each mystery: ‘O Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who have most need of your mercy.’ “ (From the Fatima message, 1917)

 

As I have wrote about earlier John Paul II added the Luminious mysterious in the Apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae in 2002. and here’s an instruction on how to pray the rosary from the Vatican: The mysteries of the Rosary

 

 

I got the most of the facts from an article by the Swedish expert Florence Vilén. The article was published in a book called “En bok om Rosenkransen och dess mysterier” from Jungfru Maria Skriftserie by Vettertryck AB.

This is the third entry on medieval church paintings picturing scenes which can be used when praying the Rosary.

The Luminous Mysteries, the mystery of light, was added by his Holiness John Paul the second. He used parts of the gospel that is a divine fulfillment of the traditional rosary that further deepens our understanding of the gospel and our daily life of praying the rosary.

I believe, however, that to bring out fully the Christological depth of the Rosary it would be suitable to make an addition to the traditional pattern which, while left to the freedom of individuals and communities, could broaden it to include the mysteries of Christ’s public ministry between his Baptism and his Passion. In the course of those mysteries we contemplate important aspects of the person of Christ as the definitive revelation of God. Declared the beloved Son of the Father at the Baptism in the Jordan, Christ is the one who announces the coming of the Kingdom, bears witness to it in his works and proclaims its demands. It is during the years of his public ministry that the mystery of Christ is most evidently a mystery of light: “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (Jn 9:5).
(John Paul II in the Apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae in 2002)

The added parts where all common spiritual images of the Middle Ages in Scandinavia.

 

 

 

The Baptism

This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
(Matthew 3:17)

 

 

 

The Wedding

Whatsoever he shall say to you, do ye.
(John 2:5)

 

 

 

The Proclamation

The time is accomplished, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent, and believe the gospel.
(Mark 1:15)

 

 

 

The Transfiguration

The shape of his countenance was altered, and his raiment became white and glittering.
(Luke 9:29)

 

 

 

The Eucharist

This is my body, which is given for you.
(Luke 22:19 )

Here is the second entry on medieval church paintings. The pictures are from different churches from Uppland and Västmanland in central Sweden. They are painted by Albertus Pictor (2, 4 & 5) in the late fifteenth century and some are from Dannemora kyrka (1 & 3), from about the same time.

The Ascension is usually pictured as a pair of feet disappearing in a cloud or out of the picture.

 

 

 

The Glorious Resurrection of Our Lord

I ascend to my Father and to your Father, to my God and your God.
(John 20:17)

 

 

 

The Ascension of Our Lord

He departed from them, and was carried up to heaven.
(Luke 24:51)

 

 

 

The Descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost

And I send the promise of my father upon you.
(Luke 24:49)

 

 

 

The Assumption of Mary into Heaven

Who is she that cometh forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in array?
(Canticles 6:9)

 

 

 

The Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth

A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.
(Apocalypse 12:1)

In the middle ages, in Scandinavia, there was a very strong devotion towards Mary. Many of the medieval church paintings depict scenes from the Rosary (as well as , of course, other scenes from the bible.

Here are five images that can be used when praying the sorrowful mysteries.

The first is a painting from the now burned down wooden church in Södra Råda in Sweden. (1490).
The second picture from Ösmo Kyrka in Sweden and is made by Albertus Pictor (1440-1507).
The third image is from Vrå Kirke in Denmark (1510).
The fourth is from Dannemora kyrka in Sweden (1520).
The fifth image is from Vitaby kyrka in Sweden (1300).

 

 

 

The Agony of Our Lord in the Garden

The Agony of Our Lord in the Garden

My Father, if this chalice may not pass away, but I must drink it, thy will be done.
(Matthew 26:42)

 

 

 

Our Lord is Scourged at the Pillar

Our Lord is Scourged at the Pillar

Then therefore, Pilate took Jesus, and scourged him.
(John 19:1)

 

 

 

Our Lord is Crowned with Thorns

Our Lord is Crowned with Thorns

And platting a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand.
(Matthew 27:29)

 

 

 

Our Lord Carries the Cross to Calvary

Our Lord Carries the Cross to Calvary

And bearing his own cross, he went forth to that place which is called Calvary.
(John 19:17)

 

 

 

The Crucifixion of Our Lord

The Crucifixion of Our Lord

And Jesus again crying with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.
(Mathew 27:50)

 

 

 

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