“And Jesus knew their thoughts; he said to them, Why murmur you, and reason thus among yourselves? The Christ is everlasting life; he came from heaven; he has the keys of heaven, and no man enters into heaven except he fills himself with Christ. I came in flesh to do the will of God, and, lo, this flesh and blood are filled with Christ; and so I am the living bread that comes from heaven; and when you eat this flesh and drink this blood you will have everlasting life; and if you will, you may become the bread of life” (Aquarian Gospel 125:19-22).
Regarding the eternal status of our Lord Jesus Christ, Saint Paul wrote: “This man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him,…an high priest…made higher than the heavens,…who is consecrated for evermore. We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens” (Hebrews 7:24-26, 28; 8:1, 2). Our Lord Jesus is the minister, the priest, directly involved in all the Sacraments, for the Holy Spirit, who effects them, does so at his direction according to his infinite knowledge. However, the holy Mass is unique among the Sacraments because he is not only present as an invisible Divine Presence, he becomes physically, materially present and is communicated to each one who receives Holy Communion. This is the fulfillment of his promise: “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20).
The Bread of Heaven
After feeding the multitude by miraculously multiplying the food, Jesus went with his disciples to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, but the people sought him out even there. To them he spoke of this great mystery:
“I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
“The Judeans therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?
“Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.
“Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
“Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:48-58, 60, 66-69).
The first Mass
On the day we call Maundy Thursday, the Lord brought into literal manifestation that which before he had only spoken about. Saint Paul described it to the Corinthians in this way: “I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me” (I Corinthians 11:23-25; see Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19, 20).
The Mass is a ritual whose purpose is to effect very real changes in the consciousness and subtle environment of those present. Ideally, through Mass and Communion we are enabled to say with Saint Paul: “We all, with open face reflecting as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (II Corinthians 3:18).
From the beginning Christians held that the living, historical body and blood of Jesus Christ of Nazareth become present during each celebration of the Mass, and are received by the communicants under the superficial appearance of bread and wine. Such an assertion is amazing if not overwhelming, but if we look into the mystical teachings of the Gospels, we will find illumination.
Jesus prepared us for the mystery of the Mass by two miracles: the changing of water into wine and the multiplication of food to feed many thousands.
Water into wine
“And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, and saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him” (John 2:1-3, 6-11).
Everything that exists in the relative universe is energy moving to specific patterns that cause the energy to be formed into the various substances and elements. All material objects consist of molecules formed of atoms which are formed of atomic particles–electrons, protons, and neutrons–which are basically three modes of energy behavior. The only difference between a wooden table leg and a piece of gold is the pattern of basic energies. And those energies, if reduced to their final constituent, are found to be consciousness, which is spirit. It is, then, no exaggeration, but rather the simple truth, to say that matter is manifested consciousness or spirit.
When we realize this, we can understand to a degree how Jesus turned water into wine: he simply altered the energy pattern of the water. By being one with the Infinite Consciousness, Whose thoughts are manifesting as creation, he needed only to “see” or “think” of the water as wine–and it was so! In the realm of God, thought is act, as is shown in Genesis: “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light” (Genesis 1:3). With God, the willing is the doing.
The wine at Cana was the water that was there originally–it had simply been reshaped to a new configuration of energy. If we take our hypothetical wooden table leg, rearrange its atomic and molecular structure until we have gold instead of wood, melt it down and cast it into a vase, we can still point to the golden vase and say: “This is my old table leg,” for the essence, the energy that had been the wood, will have simply been altered.
Material forms being the manifestation of states of consciousness, it is not amiss to say that the body of Christ is also the Consciousness, the essential being, of Christ. If that Consciousness is implanted in us by our receiving his body and blood–or, more correctly, the Consciousness-Energy that was his body and blood now recast into the mold of bread and wine–that Consciousness will begin to pervade our bodies and our blood, awakening our own consciousness and transmuting us into Christ–which is exactly what being a Christian is all about.
Understanding this, we realize that Christ did not resurrect his body for dramatic effect nor only as a demonstration of immortality. Rather, he retained his perfectly deified body so it could be made the seed of immortality in those who were united to him through Communion. Saint Paul tells us that the Lord Jesus “is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens” (Hebrews 8:1). Obviously his body is not material flesh and blood as upon earth, but as Saint Paul also says, “a spiritual body” (I Corinthians 15:44) made of the Light that is God (“God is light” I John 1:5.) And since that Light has become all things, it can take on the form of bread and wine in an instant in the Mass.
Multiplication of food
All matter is potentially infinite since it is a manifestation of the infinite God. The body and blood of Christ are extended infinitely. In this way millions of Christians could receive the body and blood of Christ at the Mass throughout the ages. This was foreshadowed by the multiplication of food by Jesus.
“And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals. But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes. He said, Bring them hither to me. And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full. And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children” (Matthew 14:15-21).
“Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way. And his disciples say unto him, Whence should we have so much bread in the wilderness, as to fill so great a multitude? And Jesus saith unto them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven, and a few little fishes. And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full. And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children” (Matthew 15:32-38).
Since matter is energy, and energy is consciousness–ultimately Divine Consciousness–it only follows that all matter is potentially infinite, that its limitations are a matter of energy behavior only, not of actual nature. Being one with the Infinite Consciousness, Jesus simply “saw” or “thought” of the food as it was in its essential nature: limitless consciousness. And his thinking made it so. From a small amount, meager even for one person, he fed tens of thousands–and had basketfuls left over.
In the Mass
This being so, what actually happens in the Mass? As it was with the earthly food, so it is with the Consciousness that manifested as Christ’s body and blood. Bread and wine are prepared and placed on the altar before the beginning of Mass. In the first part of the ritual they are offered with prayers and blessing. Then in the central part of the Mass, the Canon, there is a recalling of the salvific acts of Christ on the night in which he was betrayed. Taking bread and wine, he changed them, making them extensions of his body and blood which were manifestations of his divinized Consciousness, and gave them to the apostles with the explicit declaration: “This is my body.…This is my blood” (Matthew 26:26, 28).
Jesus told the Apostles–and through them, us–to continue doing this (Luke 22:19; I Corinthians 11:26). And so we do. At the very words of Jesus uttered by the priest as his representative, the bread and wine become the body and blood of Jesus the Christ. That is, the substantial energies of the bread and wine are exchanged for the energy-consciousness that constitutes the body and blood of the living Christ while (usually) retaining the forms of the offered bread and wine.
If scientifically analyzed, the two substances will be found to be “nothing more” than earthly bread and wine, but their essences are the very energies of the body and blood of Jesus, vehicles of his perfect Consciousness. Therefore, in Holy Communion we receive Christ himself, body and blood, under the appearance (behavior) of bread and wine.
The Mass is thus the supreme spiritual act. Through it we are united in every part of our existence with Jesus Christ, and through him with Christ-God. He imparts to us the fulness of his own Life. His body and blood enter into our body and blood, his life energies enter into our life energies, his mind enters into our mind, his intellect enters into our intellect, and his will enters into our will as seeds of divinity. Just as yeast pervades and changes dough into living bread, the Consciousness of Jesus Christ through his body and blood begins to pervade and change us, enabling us to “pass from glory to glory” until we, ourselves, become The Glory. This is the divine alchemy of the Mass.
History of the Mass rite
Every viable religion has some form of ceremonial offering, which usually concludes with the assembled worshippers partaking of that which was offered. This was the norm at the time of Jesus, who added another dimension which resulted in the awesome mystery that is the Holy Mass. Taking bread and wine he blessed them, as was the custom of the Hebrew religion into which he had been born, but in the giving of them to his disciples he stated that they were not just bread and wine: they were his body and his blood. Further, he enjoined them to continue this ceremonial offering and partaking. He did this on the Passover, for as that ancient rite commemorated the passing-over of the Hebrews from bondage into freedom, passing through the Red Sea unharmed and dry-shod, this new Passover would effect the passing of the participants into a dimension of life hitherto unknown and inaccessible. Continual participation in it would not only maintain that new spiritual status, it would continually increase it, bestowing on the communicants that abundant life which was the very purpose of Jesus’ incarnation.
There seems to have been no standard order for this sacred rite which was called Quarbana (Aramaic for Offering), Eucharist (Thanksgiving), Liturgy (Daily Work), and Missa (Mass). This latter title became the usual term in the West, and was first used by the Jewish Christians of Milan. Missah is a Hebrew word meaning “the just/right thing,” and referred to an ancient form of religious taxation. So the Mass is a form of tribute that is right to give. It can be no accident that the heart of the ritual begins with a dialogue between priest and participants that concludes with the priest calling out: “Let us give thanks unto our Lord God,” to which those present respond: “It is meet and right so to do.” The priest then prays a prayer whose opening words are: “It is very meet, right, and our bounden duty….” In other words, it is our missah–that which it is right for us to offer (quarban). Therefore in time it was simply known as the Missa in Latin, and anglicized into the word “Mass.”
The Latin Mass
We have Latin texts of the Mass that are a millennium and a half years old. The exact origin of the Western Mass is unknown. We do know that it came from northern Africa and was always in the Latin language, although up till that time all Christian worship in Italy was in Greek, though Latin was the common language. How it was that suddenly the Latin Mass became the norm in Rome and throughout all Europe is unknown. Even Saint Cyril (of Saints Cyril and Methodius), evangelizer of the Slavs and creator of the Cyrillic Alphabet, celebrated that Mass, for in his own handwriting we have his manuscript translation of the Latin Mass into ancient Slavonic which became the basis of what is known as the Glagolitic Rite.
Naturally some variations of the Latin Mass developed, but all were very much the same even though titled according to their place of celebration. During the Counter-Reformation in the mid-sixteenth century Pope Pius V directed that, with a few exceptions, the entire Western Church should adopt the Roman Mass form. Eventually it began to be called “the Tridentine Mass” because it was authorized by the Council of Trent. As could be expected, through the centuries the Roman Church made some differences in the rite, but mostly of a ceremonial rather than a textual nature. Finally, in 1968, by the promulgation of the Novus Ordo Missarum (New Order of Mass) Pope Paul VI ended the celebration of the ancient Mass and substituted another form that, though based on the “old” Mass, was something very different. And there our interest in the Roman Rite ends, for we are going to be looking into another Mass form altogether: “The Liturgy of the Holy Mass Prepared for the use of English-Speaking Congregations of Old Catholics.”
Before we consider the ritual text itself, we must look at its background, for that is the major–though not the sole–determinant of its form and character.
England has always been a major force in Catholic worship. Letters are extant from ancient popes pleading for European bishops journeying into England to bring them vestments from that land, for the Saxons were considered the masters of vestment design and manufacture. They were also admired for their production of sacred implements such as chalices, patens, gospel books, croziers, and reliquaries.
Saint Augustine of Canterbury introduced the Roman Mass into England, which from that time until the Protestant Reformation produced some of the foremost liturgists of the Western Church. Charlemagne, who was desirous of bringing about liturgical uniformity in the Holy Roman Empire, sent for Alcuin of York who wrote all the Mass propers for the Sundays after Pentecost and codified the rest of the Mass. Later, at the time of the Norman conquest, Saint Osmund of Salisbury produced a corrected and restored Mass form known as the Sarum Rite. From that time forth the Sarum Missal became the norm for all of Europe with few exceptions until Pius V issued his missal.
Considering this remarkable past, we need not be surprised that the Mass rite we will be looking into was the work of two Englishmen of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries: Charles W. Leadbeater and James Ingall Wedgwood, both members of the Theosophical Society in Great Britain.
A “new” Mass
In the first edition of The Liturgy According to the Use of The Liberal Catholic Church. Prepared for the Use of English-speaking Congregations, issued in 1919, two forms of the Mass were given–a Long Form and a Short Form. The Long Form was a revision of Bishop Wedgwood’s original Mass form published in 1917 and 1918. The Short Form was the work of Bishop Leadbeater, who preferred the Mass to be somewhat (though not much) shorter and to include explicit esoteric elements, especially those that made reference to the production of the eucharistic thought form as explained in The Science of the Sacraments (which contained the texts of both the Long and Short forms). Although both forms were mostly identical, the Short Form immediately gained popularity throughout the Liberal Catholic Church and came to be the usual form of eucharistic celebration. (In England the Long Form continued to be the norm–perhaps because of the influence of Bishop Wedgwood, who eventually resided there for the remainder of his life.)
In this study I will be commenting on the Short Form of the Mass as found in the fourth edition of the Liturgy issued in 1967. Like the Long Form, this was based closely on the order of the traditional Roman Mass, but the text differed considerably in that more exact and esoteric prayers and terms were substituted for the Roman Catholic originals. My exposition is really meant to be a supplement to Bishop Leadbeater’s The Science of the Sacraments, which is essential reading for those who want to understand the inner life that is the Mass.
The immediately obvious feature of both the new Mass forms was the active and effective participation of those present. Saint Peter had long ago written: “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. …ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood” (I Peter 2:5, 9). A great deal of empty talk had gone on, especially since the rise of Protestantism, about “the priesthood of all believers,” but only the Wedgwood-Leadbeater Mass forms made it real.
Although the celebrant has a unique function in the Mass through the special empowerment and intercessory covenant bestowed by his ordination to the priesthood, all the baptized and confirmed disciples of Jesus are empowered for a very real and perceptible function as co-celebrants with the priest. This is evident throughout the entire rite. It is not only a matter of making responses or singing hymns, though that has an esoteric, spiritual effect, but the disciples exercise a definite priestly function, making the Mass much more than it would be without them. God, Jesus, saints, angels and human beings work together in the Mass.
To serve and worship him
As active participants in the Mass, we do two major things: serve and worship. Every person who believes in God understands the value of worshipping him, but the view of Mass as a literal form of service to God is unique to this Mass, even though it is common for Protestants to speak a church “service.”
Bishops Wedgwood and Leadbeater strongly emphasized the fact that the Mass is an invocation of great spiritual force which benefits and even transforms the world, and that the degree of its power is greatly determined by the awareness and intention of the people attending. By carefully attending to the ritual actions and participating in them with full understanding and exercise of will-intention, they bring down to the world inexpressible blessing, healing, and transformation. In this way they serve God as surely as do the holy angels that have come for the same purpose. In the Mass we are truly earthly angels if our attunement and intention is right.
The Greek word translated “worship” in the New Testament is proskuneo, which means to approach, to draw near, as does the Sanskrit equivalent, upasana. One purpose of approaching God is to be bathed in the radiations of Divine Life so we will begin to vibrate in sympathy with It to such a degree that we can become united with It. The Mass is an instrument by which divine strength and blessing are conveyed to those present who can receive them. The divine benediction is also poured forth upon the surrounding area, sometimes for miles, and as already mentioned some of it flows to the entire world.
Those attending the Mass become living receptacles of the highest spiritual light-energies, living temples of the Most High. The strength and blessing is poured forth upon us, but we must be capable of receiving it. A bucket placed upside down in a waterfall will stay completely dry inside, but if it is turned upward, water will fill it. It is the same with us. Going to church means very little if we are deaf, mute, and blind in the spirit, waterproof to the Water of Life.
The Yogic Mass
The sign of the Cross
To begin the holy Mass, the priest comes before the altar and makes the sign of the Cross, saying:
In the name of the Father ✠ and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. R: Amen.
The sign of the Cross is an invocation of the Trinity and of the deifying power which Jesus brought to earth and perpetuates through the sacraments.
Although there are few points in the Mass where making the sign of the Cross by the people is indicated in the text, those present should feel free to make it much more often, as is the custom among the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Christians, for it both invokes and rouses up from deep within us the spiritual energies of the Divine, especially that of the intelligent, spiritual will. Making it at significant points in the Mass can help to lock in or impress the effects of those moments.
Three forms of purification follow the opening words of the Mass in order to prepare the participants for the great changes that will be effected by the Mass as it proceeds. The first and third are done by the priest, and the second by the people. First is the asperges, the sprinkling with holy water, water that has been ceremonially magnetized and infused with great powers of healing and purification.
Even though the ultimate purpose of all authentic religion is the freeing of the individual from rebirth in the material plane, to facilitate that purpose all viable religions have and use the power to purify and elevate the vibrations of matter. True religion is capable of invoking high spiritual energies and merging them into matter so that it becomes an instrument of transformation and liberation. Consequently every effective spiritual tradition has some form of holy water. The earliest liturgical texts of Christianity give forms of blessing water for use in church and the homes of the laity.
The use of holy water is one of the most beneficial elements of esoteric Christian practice, for it is virtually invincible in its might. Saint Teresa of Avila wrote at length on its superiority to words and gestures of power for the banishment of negativity. For this reason bishops Wedgwood and Leadbeater used it–blessed by an additional prayer–in the rite of Baptism as a true washing of renewal and regeneration. (The holy water ritual and the baptismal blessing will be analyzed in a later chapter.)
The common Western form of blessing holy water is extremely old and was uniform throughout Europe. Bishop Wedgwood revised it to better reflect the esoteric understanding of its purpose and effect. Salt and water are blessed separately and then combined and blessed together. The prayers invoke the divine blessing for the purpose of healing, exorcism, empowerment, and sanctification. It is only reasonable, then, to use it in preparation for the celebration of the holy Mass.
Taking the aspergill (holy water sprinkler), the priest makes the sign of the Cross over himself with it, saying:
May the Lord purify me that I may worthily perform his service.
For “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart” (Psalms 24:3, 4).
This has a profound esoteric meaning. To be pure (katharos) means to have all impediments removed and to be clear at the very center (kardia–heart). Such persons have sensitive and malleable energies, including mental energies, that are polarized upward (positively). In that state it is possible for an individual to be profoundly affected by the Mass and to ascend in consciousness to heights not before possible. Only such persons can really “worthily perform his service” by drawing near to the Divine.
The priest then sprinkles the altar in the middle, to his left, and to his right, saying:
In the strength of the Lord do I repel all evil from this his holy altar and sanctuary….
Turning to the people and sprinkling them with the same triple motion, he says:
…and from this House, wherein we worship him….
Turning back to the altar he continues:
…and I pray our heavenly Father that he will send his holy angel to build for us a spiritual temple through which his strength and blessing may be poured forth upon his people. Through Christ our Lord. R: Amen.
Each part of this action is significant, especially the words of the priest.
May the Lord purify me that I may worthily perform his service. Only the power of God can purify us, for the power of God is the consciousness of God which is at the core of our very being, which is our being. Only realization of our divine Self can bring about this purification. As in the Sistine Chapel fresco, the finger of God must touch the finger of man and form a divine circuit which transforms humanity into divinity.
In the strength of the Lord do I repel all evil from this his holy altar and sanctuary. Only the power of God can effect purification, and those who are in tune and united with that power can declare the same in purifying their minds and hearts that are also altars and their body that is truly a sanctuary, an abode of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 6:19). But if the altar and sanctuary (which literally means “the abode of holiness”) are holy, how can we speak of repelling evil from them? Our own spirits are holy, and so are our intellects and intuition, yet we have permitted them to become clouded and dirty–not in nature but in experience. So that which is holy needs to be freed from the evil that clings to it like mud to a flawless gem. This simple rite lets us know that simply saying we are ever free and ever perfect is meaningless. Our experience is just the opposite. That experience may be illusory, but it must be dispelled. Therefore Saint John said: “Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (I John 3:3).
And from this House wherein we worship him. This body, which is the house of our spirit, needs a very drastic housecleaning, and the Mass initiates and sustains that cleaning. For it is while in this house that we worship God and attain to communion and then union with him. It is a here and now situation, not some after death supposition.
If any negative energies or entities have wandered into the church or altar area–or been brought in by those present, albeit unwittingly–they are loosened and expelled by this sprinkling.
The purpose of it all
And I pray our heavenly Father that he will send his holy angel.
Angels are beings in the next stage of evolution beyond the human status. Having perfected themselves within the range of human potential, they are now growing and evolving as angels with the purpose of eventually passing into the archangelic levels and evolving even from there upward.
Angels, unlike us, are not bound by time or space. This means that they can be in many places at once, wherever they are needed. That is why holy people who are approaching the angelic level of evolution, such as the Capuchin stigmatist Padre Pio, often have the same power. Actually, saints are those who have ascended to the status of angels but remain as intercessors for us that are still human.
There are infinite gradations of angels, just as there are numberless types of human beings, but their common purpose is to love and serve God. All that they do is done within the framework of this supreme purpose. Their happiness is not in what they do, but in why they do it: the love of God. They are truly flaming fires of divine love (Psalms 104:4), not little naked babies with wings growing out of their backs or little baby heads with wings under their chins. They are flaming fires before the face of God, before his throne (Revelation 1:4).
One thing that marks them out from us is the positing of their consciousness. Even when we are in the presence of God, we have our minds crammed with the things of earth. But although the angels are in this world with us they are always seeing God. That is why the Lord Jesus said that the angels “always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 18:10). That is their normal state. They behold him, however, only within the limited scope of their ability, and that is why they aspire to serve him and go higher–so they may see him better and may move deeper into his life.
The holy angels should not be looked upon so shallowly and cheaply as people usually do, nor should they be ignored, for they are a part of our evolutionary life, a essential link with the worlds above us. Their thought is to serve God through assisting us. Nothing is too small for them, since they do it for love of God–and the distinction of large and small does not exist within the infinity of God.
To build for us a spiritual temple. Clairvoyant sight reveals that when Mass is celebrated many angels come and work on the inner planes with the priest and congregation. One of their major tasks is the building of a thought form, a field of highly vibrating energies that not only influences those present, but becomes a kind of lightning rod that keeps drawing down more and higher spiritual influences for the benefit of the participants and the surrounding area–and to some extent, the whole world. It is seen that there is a special, directing angel who fulfills the major function in this building, as well as directing the other angels who have come with him to be his assistants. Bishop Leadbeater describes and explains the work of this angel. It was his observation that when the celebrant and people were aware of this angelic activity it became greatly enhanced and empowered, and there could be a very fruitful co-working of humans and angels.
In The Science of the Sacraments you will find detailed drawings of the various stages of this building of the spiritual temple, as well as explanation of their effects. There is also a color picture of the completed thought form. It is not a magnificent material temple we need in our worship, but a structure of spiritual energies that will awaken and enliven those who are sensitive to them.
A friend of mine knew a former secretary of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Vienna. Shortly before the Second World War, a priest of the archdiocese sent the archbishop a collection of pages on which a clairvoyant parishioner had written a description of what he saw at the celebration of Mass, as well as color illustrations of his perceptions. The secretary escaped the Nazis and in America came across a copy of The Science of the Sacraments and was amazed to find how close it was to the document he had seen in Vienna.
Through which his strength and blessing may be poured forth upon his people. The Greek word translated “worship” in the New Testament is proskuneo, which means to approach, to draw near, as does the Sanskrit equivalent, upasana. One purpose of approaching God is to be bathed in the radiations of Divine Life so we will begin to vibrate in sympathy with It to such a degree that we can become united with It. The eucharistic thought form is an instrument by which divine strength and blessing are conveyed to those present who can receive them. The divine benediction is also poured forth upon the surrounding area, sometimes for miles, and as already mentioned, some of it flows to the entire world.
Just as a thought form “temple” of living energies is formed as the Mass rite progresses, so those attending become living receptacles of the highest spiritual light-energies, living temples of the Most High. The strength and blessing is poured forth upon us, but we must be capable of receiving it. A bucket placed upside down in a waterfall will stay completely dry inside, but if it is turned upward enough, water will fill it. It is the same with us. Going to church means very little if we are deaf, mute, and blind in the spirit, waterproof to the Water of Life.
Through Christ our Lord. Christos, the anointed one, is the Greek translation of “Messiah.” It refers to the oil of divine blessing and the radiance of one whose countenance has been so anointed. In Jewish mysticism, Messiah is the title of the highest level of consciousness. Anyone who has attained to that level and returned to the world is a Messiah, a Christ. “Christ,” then, has a twofold meaning: the Second Person of the Trinity, the Son of God, the personal, creator (Ishwara) aspect of God, and one whose consciousness has been united to that Infinite Christ and become “a” Christ. This is very important, for just as there are many Buddhas there are many Christs. Within esoteric Christianity, by “Christ” we mean either God Himself or Jesus of Nazareth who is totally one with God the Christ, and therefore himself a god, a Christ.
This being so, we should keep in mind that the prayers of the Mass sometimes refer to Christ God, sometimes to Christ Jesus, and sometimes to both Christ God and Christ Jesus.
More about “Christ”
Because the books of the New Testament have been in use for two thousand years, often by great saints, they have a very real spiritual power. For that reason we use them in the beginning part of the Mass. But the most complete and accurate account of the life and teachings of Jesus is to be found in The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ, a record of the clairvoyant perceptions of Levi Dowling. There the important distinction between the Christ and a Christ is clearly set forth.
When Jesus was taken into Egypt to escape Herod, so was Saint John the Baptist. They lived in a settlement of the Essenes where Mary and Elizabeth were instructed in the teachings they were to give their sons later on when they would be old enough to comprehend them. They were told: “Your sons are set apart to lead men up to righteous thoughts, and words, and deeds; to make men know the sinfulness of sin; to lead them from the adoration of the lower self, and all illusive things, and make them conscious of the self that lives with Christ in God” (Aquarian Gospel 12:15, 16). Every one of us is a spark of divine light in the Ocean of Light that is Ishwara, the Lord, the Christ of God the Absolute, known in India as Brahman. Those who perfectly reflect the being and consciousness of Ishwara, the “Son of God,” are themselves Christs and sons of God.
Christ is said to be love for a very practical reason. The emotion we human beings call love is only a glimmer of that great force that is Universal Love: God. In The Holy Science, Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri says that love is really the positive cosmic force or magnetic pull that draws all sentient beings upward on the evolutionary path to union with God. “The universal Love of which the sages speak is Christ. The greatest mystery of all times lies in the way that Christ lives in the heart. Christ cannot live in clammy dens of carnal things. The seven battles must be fought, the seven victories won before the carnal things, like fear, and self, emotions and desire, are put away. When this is done the Christ will take possession of the soul; the work is done, and man and God are one” (Aquarian Gospel 59:9-12). That is how Christ is the mediator, the reconciler, between God and humanity. Jesus, being a Christ, fills the same office, but we must not confuse the two. It does not honor Jesus to claim he is something he is not and to deny that he is what he is. In the Mass we must be aware which Christ is being spoken of in the prayers–and sometimes it is both together in spiritual union.
Regarding himself, Jesus said to Saint John the Baptist: “The multitudes are ready for the words of life, and I come to be made known by you to all the world, as prophet of the Triune God, and as the chosen one to manifest the Christ to men” (Aquarian Gospel 64:10). And later to a large group of people: “Men call me Christ, and God has recognized the name; but Christ is not a man. The Christ is universal love, and Love is king. This Jesus is but man who has been fitted by temptations overcome, by trials multiform, to be the temple through which Christ can manifest to men. Then hear, you men of Israel, hear! Look not upon the flesh; it is not king. Look to the Christ within, who shall be formed in every one of you, as he is formed in me” (Aquarian Gospel 68:11-13). “God has christed me to manifest eternal love” (Aquarian Gospel 69:13). “Every one may have this Christ dwell in his soul, as Christ dwells in my soul.…The man of God is pure in heart; he sees the king; he sees with eyes of soul: and when he rises to the plane of Christine consciousness, he knows that he himself is king, is love, is Christ, and so is son of God” (Aquarian Gospel 71:7, 15, 16). We are Christians for this very purpose: to become Christs exactly like Jesus.
Saint John the Baptist said this about Christ and Jesus: “Christ is the king of righteousness; Christ is the love of God; yea, he is God; one of the holy persons of the Triune God. Christ lives in every heart of purity. Now, Jesus who is preaching at the Jordan ford, has been subjected to the hardest tests of human life, and he has conquered all the appetites and passions of the carnal man, and by the highest court of heaven, has been declared a man of such superior purity and holiness that he can demonstrate the presence of the Christ on earth. Lo, love divine, which is the Christ, abides in him, and he is pattern for the race. And every man can see in him what every man will be when he has conquered all the passions of the selfish self. In water I have washed the bodies of the people who have turned from sin, symbolic of the cleansing of the soul; but Jesus bathes for ever in the living waters of the Holy Breath [Holy Spirit]. And Jesus comes to bring the savior of the world to men; Love is the savior of the world. And all who put their trust in Christ, and follow Jesus as a pattern and a guide, have everlasting life. But they who do not trust the Christ, and will not purify their hearts so that the Christ can dwell within, can never enter life” (Aquarian Gospel 79:8-18).
Christ leads us to Jesus and Jesus leads us to Christ. So when we pray: “Through Christ our Lord,” we mean both the eternal Christ and Jesus the Christ. For they cannot be separated, just as we and God are one, though there is a distinction between us.
Amen means both “so be it” and “this is so.” It is actually a major word of power. When we end a prayer with Amen, we put our whole spiritual force into its fulfillment. Throughout the Mass we must carefully listen to the words of the priest, for they form within a part of our mind a force field of the power necessary to bring about whatever the priest is saying. This energy forms in our aura, growing with each word said by the priest as well as by the degree of our attentiveness to what he is saying. When he ends the prayer or declaration and we intone “Amen,” the prayer-force of everyone present are released from our auras and stream to the altar. There they are joined in one force-entity with that of the priest and rise upward to be united with and projected from the growing eucharistic thought form. In return an equal force comes down “from above, from the Father of Lights” (James 1:17) and affects each one present, furthering the purpose of the Mass within us and within our lives.
Affirmation and teaching
Laying the foundation
The first act of purification, the asperges, is complete, and the work of the Mass is beginning to move forward. The angels have come for the erection of the eucharistic thought form edifice, but it is not all the work of the angels. We, too, have our part to play now and throughout the Mass in being builders together with them–mostly in the role of providing living spiritual energies which they will use as the material of the thought form.
It will be good to pause here and point out that the way we supply the material is not by thinking of what is supposed to happen, and trying with our limited human wills to bring it about. That is a folly which many readers of The Science of the Sacraments fall into, so much so that Bishop Wedgwood commented that he wished the book had been restricted to the use of the clergy. Bishop Gerrit Munnik, who had been the bishop’s secretary for several years, told me that one time during choir practice, when the Gloria was being worked on, Bishop Wedgwood stopped the singers and said in exasperation: “Please pay attention to the words you are singing. I can see above your heads [in their auras] little models of the pictures found in The Science of the Sacraments. By trying to reproduce them in the psychic atmosphere you are actually inhibiting them from manifesting. They are the work of the angels–not of you. It is not your job to build the thought form. At this point in the Mass it is your job to be the Glory of God in the Highest. Let the angels do the rest.”
What we should be doing to help out is attentively following all the words and gestures, listening carefully to all the priest says and calmly being aware of our responses and singing of the hymns. Certainly we should both feel and mean what we are saying and singing, but it is a grave error and a distraction to try to “psych” ourselves up and become vortices of emotion rather than intelligent participants in the Mass. It is not our will we need to project, but our intelligent understanding in an attitude of receptivity. For if we do not receive we will not respond.
So the priest turns to the people and says:
Brethren, let us now lay the foundation of our Temple.
This marks one of the major differences between the Wedgwood-Leadbeater Mass and all other traditional Western forms. In this Mass the people truly do participate in the priesthood of believers spoken of by Saint Peter: “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.…But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (I Peter 2:5, 9). The people do not just participate in the Mass, they join with the priest in the actual celebration of the Mass. Later on the priest will state this to them at the Offertory.
The priest is speaking literally about the foundation of the eucharistic temple thought form. At the beginning of the Mass a “pavement” or “foundation” is spread out beneath the worshippers by the angel. The purpose of this is the shielding of the church and people from any low or distracting energies or entities moving within the earth beneath. This is also part of the beginning of ritualistic worship in various traditions, especially in India. We need protection from hindrance and distraction. The elements that would produce those hindrances and distractions may be either intentionally evil or merely ignorant and foolish. Sometimes they are just currents of energy like the currents of wind or water in the sky and ocean. So the angels shield us from below and above.
We participate in the foundation-building by singing verses from the Bible that are relevant to this activity. We call this collection the “canticle.”
Christ is our foundation: And our chief corner-stone.
We are no more strangers and foreigners: but fellow-citizens with the saints and of the household of God.
And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets: Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner-stone.
In Whom all the building fitly framed together: groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord.
In Whom ye also are builded together: for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
Except the Lord build the house: their labour is but lost that build it.
The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal: let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.
Christ is our foundation: And our chief corner-stone.
These are not just pretty words, but real formulas of affirmation that in the highly-charged atmosphere of the Mass become effective in our mouths. Each verse merits a scrutiny.
Christ is our foundation: And our chief corner-stone. This is the “antiphon” of the Canticle. In ancient times the antiphon was sung between verses of the psalms to accentuate their meaning, but later came to be used only at the beginning and end, for the same purpose. “Christ is our foundation: And our chief corner-stone” is the key idea of the entire canticle, “For in him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). That is, we exist in God, are rooted in God, and grow in God–specifically in Christ, the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, known in Sanskrit as Ishwara, “the Lord.” This Christ is our foundation, the ground and basis of our existence. We are inseparable from Christ. All our evolution takes place in the relative universe which is pervaded and directed by the Cosmic Christ. For us as Christians, Jesus Christ is the link through which we strive toward perfection in the Eternal Christ. So what is said in the verses apply to both.
We are wanting to purify ourselves, which is necessary, yet we must never lose sight of the fact that we are eternally part of the Divine Life, that in our essence we are pure and perfect. But that purity and perfection has been covered up by ignorance and illusion, like a diamond coated in mud. What is needed is the removal of the covering to reveal what has always been there. We are not sinners, though sin has obscured our actual nature. Sin is never our nature, nor is any impurity or defilement, yet it veils and clouds our inner sight, blinding us to our true Self.
Our involvement must be with the revelation of that divine reality, not with what obstructs us. In other words, it is not sin that should occupy our minds, but spirit–for that is real, while sin is unreal. What is needed is not wailing over sin, but realizing that it is a mere shell, a mirage, that we must cast from us if we would live in the Light. And that casting away is possible because Christ is the basis of our being. Further, Christ is the chief cornerstone, for just as a building proceeds in relation to the cornerstone, so our evolving life must proceed in the consciousness of Christ, our entire life must be oriented toward Christ. This is not a matter of choice, it is the sole truth of things. Spiritual life is the ultimate realism and pragmatism. It is Truth itself. And it is ours.
We are no more strangers and foreigners: but fellow-citizens with the saints and of the household of God (Ephesians 2:19). In countless past lives, and in a goodly part of this life, we have dwelt in illusion, thinking that we were separate from God, that we were something other than God. But now we have awakened, and whereas before we thought we were sinners and strangers to God, we find that just the opposite is the case: we are “fellow-citizens with the saints of the household of God.” In one of his talks Yogananda told his hearers: “Call yourselves ‘sinners’ no more! Christ is yours, and the great masters are yours!” This is true: now the saints and masters are our companions, for we, too, are of the family of God, extensions of the Divine Life. We need not join that family for we have been “born” into it by the opening of our awareness to the eternal truth. We have come home.
And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets: Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner-stone (Ephesians 2:20). Our eternal, inalienable foundation is God, but here in relative existence we have a secondary foundation: the saints we have just mentioned. Apostolos means a messenger that has been sent to us. Profitis means an inspired speaker who can foretell the future. So the apostles and prophets are the enlightened teachers of all ages who have been sent to guide us by their teachings and to show us the way to the Light, revealing our future if we persevere. As Christians we value those that have attained enlightenment in Jesus, their (and our) “chief corner-stone,” for they are our special guides. It is the same with those that follow other Christs such as Krishna and Buddha, and we must understand that despite the momentary differences, our paths will end in the One. So we should value and honor the holy ones of all traditions.
In Whom all the building fitly framed together: groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord (Ephesians 2:21). Here we find the purpose of Jesus: to give us the environment in which we can grow into embodiments of the Divine Presence. We are incorporated into a spiritual association by means of the Sacraments, and grow together, progressing onward to perfect humanity and beyond. This is what the Church of Christ really is. “Church” is a meaningless word. In the Greek text, wherever the word appears, the actual word is ekklesia, which means “the called-out ones,” and was a term used in Greece for what in America used to be called “selectmen,” a kind of local council chosen by the people. So the followers of Christ are those that have heard the call to transcend relative existence, to go beyond the realms of birth and death. They are living the life that transcends the limited life in which we now find ourselves. The “building,” the “temple,” spoken of here is the Kingdom of God which is the Consciousness of God.
Perhaps the most important word in this whole verse is “groweth,” for it implies an organic process, an unfolding, not some static or artificial “making” that has no life or movement to it. The word auxano means to grow in the sense of increase and expansion. We grow into a temple by evolving and expanding our consciousness. Yogananda often said that our present consciousness is like a little cup that needs to be expanded through meditation so Infinity can enter into it. The growth is always “in the Lord,” in the God-consciousness that is cultivated through meditation and observance of spiritual and moral principles.
In Whom ye also are builded together: for an habitation of God through the Spirit (Ephesians 2:22). The subject of the last verse is continued. The “whom” of both verses is Jesus, for through Baptism and Confirmation we are brought into his “aura” so to say, and through Communion we are united with him and draw upon his Life as the nursing infant lives from the bodily substance of its mother. We are not “in him” to remain dependent and nothing of ourselves, but as the infant in the womb is intended to emerge into a life of its own, so through Christ we ascend and evolve to become what he is: “an habitation of God through the Spirit.” Then in us, too, the plenitude of Divine Conscious will manifest (Colossians 2:9), and we will be living gods upon the earth as was Jesus, truly “Christians”–other Christs. All this is the life in the spirit which Jesus came to impart to those who had evolved to the point of desiring it (John 10:10).
Except the Lord build the house: their labour is but lost that build it (Psalms 127:1). Everything must be done in spirit-consciousness; our limited human, ego-controlled consciousness simply cannot do the job. Only God can lead to God. By tapping our eternal relationship with God we can “build the house.” Those who try by any other way will lose (waste) their effort. Religious life must be inner-based, in the spirit. Those who so labor, with minds fixed in spirit, will be “a workman that needeth not to be ashamed” (II Timothy 2:15).
The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal: let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity (II Timothy 2:19). We establish ourselves upon the Eternal Rock, the Foundation of God. This is eternal security. How can we know we truly are built on that foundation? The Apostle says that it has a “seal,” a sfragis. Just as certain things have an official seal on them to guarantee that they are genuine or authorized, in the same way at the time of Jesus people used carved seals instead of signatures to make things official. They also “sealed” letters and official documents to protect them and make them authoritative. Then he tells us what the seal is: “Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”
“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (I John 3:2, 3). There we have it. We are eternal sons of God, divine in nature, and those who know it and want to manifest their divinity rid themselves of all that obscures and limits their holy nature. All that is not “god” must be dissolved. That is the purification Saint John is referring to. He does not say that God will cleanse and purify us through Jesus, but that each one of us must do it ourself. Certainly, Jesus has opened the way, but we must walk that way on our own, drawing on our own inner power and wisdom. Jesus came to free and enable us, not to make us perpetually dependent on him. He called us friends (John 15:15), not slaves, servants, or helpless. So it is up to us to reveal our divine sonship through departing from iniquity–all that darkens or limits our consciousness.
When all this is done, we can say with full comprehension: “Christ is our foundation: And our chief corner-stone.”
The confiteor (“confession”)
Next we take another step in the purification that will prepare us for participation in the Mass. In the older forms of Mass the people recited a confiteor, a confession, in which they declared themselves sinners and begged for forgiveness. Bishops Wedgwood and Leadbeater knew that acknowledging a problem is the first step in solving it, that denying it only perpetuates it. So they formulated a remarkably positive and affirmative statement to be said at this point:
O Lord, thou hast created man to be immortal and made him to be an image of thine own eternity; yet often we forget the glory of our heritage and wander from the path which leads to righteousness. But thou, O Lord, hast made us for thyself and our hearts are ever restless till they find their rest in thee. Look with the eyes of thy love upon our manifold imperfections and pardon all our shortcomings, that we may be filled with the brightness of the everlasting light and become the unspotted mirror of thy power and the image of thy goodness. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Reciting this formula puts us in the right frame of mind for contemplating our failings or faults. It expresses marvelous esoteric truths and aspirations worthy of the sons of God.
O Lord, thou hast created man to be immortal. We have lived countless lives in pre-human forms, and unfortunately have brought along with us behavior patterns that are not truly human. Nevertheless, it is only in the human form that we have become self-aware and questioned the why and wherefore of ourselves. Although it is intelligent, self-reflective thought that marks us out from the other life forms on the earth, the trait that stands out most in the mind of humanity is our mortality. Death is the specter that looms before all of us, and the more conscious we are the more it casts its shadow over us. Humans have always rebelled against death, superficially because of their attachment to the body and possessions, but fundamentally because they know that death is somehow wrong, that dying violates their nature.
Those more evolved, and therefore more conscious, have explained to us that we do not die–only the body dies–that we live in a series of bodies until we grow beyond the human condition and pass upward into the non-material (astral and causal) realms. There we are no longer evicted by death from the body, but live in a form until we have evolved beyond needing it, beyond the state of evolution it reflects. Then we intentionally drop that body as easily as we take off a coat, and take on a higher one. And so it goes, up and up the ladder of evolution until we no longer need a body, however subtle, and dwell in Spirit alone. So when we say that we were created to be immortal, we also imply that we were not meant to be humans forever, that this is just a stage along the way to manifesting Divine Being.
And made him to be an image of thine own eternity. This underlines what I have just said. We are not meant to be human forever, but gods within God, reflections of Eternal Perfection. Moreover, this is an inevitable destiny because it is the unfoldment of our eternal potential. It is like a tree growing from a seed.
How important it is for us to have this view of ourselves! Deluded religion tells us that we are mortal, helpless, and the most we can hope for is pleasing God by behaving and being God’s servants, the reward for this being permitted to praise and serve God forever and ever and ever. Even worse, it tells us that here on earth we are prone to evil, helplessly driven to do wrong by our innately sinful nature. It tells us that it is our nature to helplessly commit sin, but we shall be punished for it by a just God. That is like telling a lame person he will be punished for limping. What else could he do?
Yet often we forget the glory of our heritage. Here is the answer: we are not evil, we are ignorant, forgetful of our true nature and purpose–which is to be perfect children of God, immortal and eternal. We came from God and we go to God. In between there is a great deal of confusion and suffering, but the “going” is a sure thing. Jesus brings this out in the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) who, in the midst of awful misery, begins to think of his father and of home–so different from the mess he has gotten into. So he returns home, and all is well. It is the same with us. The word “repent” found in the Bible does not mean to whine and be upset for having sinned. It literally means to turn around 180 degrees–a complete reversal–and rise from material consciousness to spiritual consciousness, to be what we really are. The reason we suffer is because in thought and deed we continually violate our nature. We do not sin against God, we sin against ourselves:
And wander from the path which leads to righteousness. We stray from the safe and direct path and get increasingly lost. We are not evil–we have lost our way. Jesus affirms this in the eighteenth chapter of Saint Matthew in the parable of the shepherd and the lost sheep. However lost that sheep may be, it is still a sheep. In the same way, no matter how confused and deluded we may be, we remain the potential gods we always were. In the parable the shepherd goes out seeking the lost sheep. That is why the next clause is:
But thou, O Lord, hast made us for thyself. We have only one purpose: to be one with God, to participate in Infinite Life. And that participation is absolutely going to be attained, we need never doubt it. Yet, we have fallen into the dream of existence that seems separate from God, and have become addicted to dreaming and the illusions within the dream. Most of us do not believe there is any other “reality”–how ironic. We have come to prefer fantasy to reality. And we cling to it from life to life, resisting any attempt to wake us out of the fever-dream, absorbed in the hallucinations we are running after. And so we suffer–not because God is punishing us, but because we cannot be satisfied with dreams, for we are not dreams, we are real: points of light in the Ocean of Light that is God.
And our hearts are ever restless till they find their rest in thee. “It shall even be as when an hungry man dreameth, and, behold, he eateth; but he awaketh, and his soul is empty: or as when a thirsty man dreameth, and, behold, he drinketh; but he awaketh, and, behold, he is faint, and his soul hath appetite” (Isaiah 29:8). A. E. Merritt wrote a book called Dwellers in the Mirage; that title applies to all of us, but not forever. Our own inner ferment, our own inner discontent, will increase more and more until it becomes the major factor in our lives and forces us to wake up and face both unreality and reality. We will realize that our rest is in God, and will pray:
Look with the eyes of thy love upon our manifold imperfections. God is love and has nothing but love for us. He sees our manifold imperfections as the seeds of many perfections. They are just skewed wrongly, like a twisted mirror. But when restored and set right, the divine image is revealed in us. So we need to see them in the same way and be confident. As someone once said: “God does not make junk.” Yet we see and acknowledge that at present we do have a great deal of imperfections. We do not accept them in the sense of lazily tolerating them or remaining attached to them. We see them as steps to better things. And like steps we put them under our feet, rise, and leave them behind as the dreams they are.
And pardon all our shortcomings. “Shortcomings” is the exact and true translation of amartano, the Greek word translated “sin” in the New Testament. The word literally means to miss the mark or to fall short of the mark. There is nothing there about transgressing God’s law and becoming guilty and deserving punishment. Sin is the failure to live up to and manifest our own divine nature. It is like the falling down of a child trying to walk. We do not punish the child, we help it, knowing that in time it will walk without falling. God really disregards (pardons) our shortcomings just as we disregard the child’s failures in its struggle to walk. God knows we will walk and then run to the goal of union with him:
That we may be filled with the brightness of the everlasting light. “And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (I John 1:4,5). So we will be filled with the brightness of the Eternal Light. Our consciousness will be the Consciousness of God.
And become the unspotted mirror of thy power. Yes, the Divine Power will also be ours, for we will be unspotted mirrors reflecting the Divine Countenance. We will share in the omnipotence of God. That is why Jesus said: “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do” (John 14:12). Certainly the saints heal the sick and raise the dead; I have known some of them, including Saint John Maximovitch of San Francisco, a canonized saint of the Russian Orthodox Church. But there are greater things, such as those accomplished by the Mass: spiritual healing and correction, spiritual awakening and spiritual empowerment. In the fourth chapter of Autobiography of a Yogi, Swami Kebalananda tells Yogananda of the remarkable healing of a blind man by Yogiraj Lahiri Mahasaya and concludes with these words: “The numerous bodies which were spectacularly healed through Lahiri Mahasaya eventually had to feed the flames of cremation. But the silent spiritual awakenings he effected, the Christlike disciples he fashioned, are his imperishable miracles.”
And the image of thy goodness. Jesus said: “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9). It will be the same with us. Jesus did not intend to be unique, but to enable all to be exactly what he had become. “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne” (Revelation 3:21). This is the true Gospel (Good News) of Christ, the true Christianity.
Through Christ our Lord. God is one, yet he has manifested in a threefold manner for our evolution. God has become Power, the Holy Spirit, and has entered into that Power as its directing Intelligence–the Son of God. But God also remains transcendent to this evolutionary process, and thereby is called “the Father.” “Christ” is a title of God as the Consciousness within all things–including us. That Christ is drawing every one of us upward into the revelation of our own Christhood. So when we say “through Christ our Lord” we are speaking of God the Son and Jesus as his perfect image who came to also draw us to the Father, and also implying our own divine sonship. For if that did not exist, it could not be eventually manifested. That is why Jesus prayed: “O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was” (John 17:5). It has been ours from eternity, and will be revealed in God.
Amen. May the glorious destiny spoken of in this prayer formula come to pass–and soon. Even now it is so potentially and we pray for its actualization.
This prayer is used as a confiteor in Mass, but it is also a superb intercessory prayer for the entire human race–I often use it in that way, especially when I see or hear about those who live in great misery or mental distortion.
The priest is not just a well-wisher or a coordinator of ritual. He possesses a living link with Jesus Christ and thereby with the Eternal Christ. This link was made at his ordination, and cannot be broken. (Bishop Leadbeater has written about this extensively in The Science of the Sacraments, and it is very much worth your while to read it.) He now performs the final step in the purification we need to proceed with the divine unfoldment that is the Mass. Turning to those present, the priest intones the following formula, making the sign of the Cross over them where indicated:
God the Father, God the ✠ Son, God the Holy Spirit, bless, preserve and sanctify you; the Lord in his lovingkindness look down upon you and be gracious unto you; the Lord ✠ absolve you from all your sins and grant you the grace and comfort of the Holy Spirit.
God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. We are threefold beings, as is God. We need to “vibrate” to the Cosmic Trinity in order to awaken and develop our trinitarian reflection of that archetypal Trinity. Therefore we began the Mass with an invocation of the Trinity and will continue invoking It until the final blessing in the name of the Trinity. The purpose of Mass is the deification (theosis) of the participants, not to “give God his due” and placate his “just anger.” This is the very attitude that Jesus came to deliver humanity from. But “sinners” of the last two thousand years have much preferred it to the Christ perspective: we are even now sons of God, working for the revelation of our eternal nature (I John 3:2; Revelation 3:12, 21). It is a lot easier to be a sinner than a saint–and we are called to be gods! (See Psalms 82:6 and John 10:34.)
Bless. Because of this the priest conveys the blessing of the Trinity to those who have just recited the Confiteor. This blessing comes from God and is not a pat on the head, but an imparting of the “power to become the sons of God” (John 1:12) which Jesus came to freely impart to “whosoever will…take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).
Preserve. A lot of people get very religious when they walk into church and completely forgetful of religion when they walk out. The blessing of the priest is meant to lock in or permatize the blessing received as well as the other effects of the Mass that will be imparted to those who are open to them. (Mere attendance at Mass does not guarantee anything.) Many people have a spiritual awakening and make some spiritual effort, then they slip back into their former unconsciousness. This blessing is meant to help us prevent that.
And sanctify you. We need the purification and perfection of every atom of our being. “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.…Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:8,48). “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.…And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (I John 2:6; 3:3).
The Lord in his lovingkindness look down upon you. In the Confiteor we prayed: “Look with the eyes of thy love upon our manifold imperfections.” Actually, God has no other motive than love, for God is love (I John 4:8;16). So the priest is reminding us of this, for God is ever looking upon us in infinite love, whether we ask for it or not. It is God’s nature to see us, and our nature to see God. Many years ago I became acquainted with a true American saint, Brahmachari Paramachaitanya, usually called “Brother Philip.” Here is how I wrote it about later:
“Then Brother Philip began to speak quietly of the souls within the universe and their return to God. Nearly all of what he said has long faded from my conscious memory, but one thing has not. His voice changing subtly, he stated with a marked firmness: ‘God meditates on them and they evolve. They have to!’ Turning to me he added, as his eyes brimmed with supernal joy: ‘They don’t have a choice!’ The very idea he expressed was thrilling, but what he communicated to me in his glance was immeasurably more so.”
And be gracious unto you. A lot of people cultivate positive attitudes but put no action behind it. I knew a minister that used to pray about something and then say to his companions: “Now let’s get up and ‘put some legs’ on those prayers!” All the complexities of this evolving universe are the “legs” God has put on his purpose. His grace is ever flowing through us, but we need to be gracious to God in return by becoming aware of that flow and cooperating with it, so it will carry us onward to the Goal.
The Lord absolve you from all your sins. We need to be free from our weakness, our ignorance, and all the glitches we have put into our psychic makeup by the failings that are “sins.” “Absolve” comes from the same root as “dissolve.” The priest makes the sign of the Cross and sends forth to us a ray of divine Light that loosens the barnacles of our “sins” and starts them melting away. And if we cooperate with the Light they will completely vaporize and trouble us no more. Bishop Leadbeater explains that the Absolution also straightens out our psychic kinks and removes the obstacles to the inflow of the Divine Life that will accomplish our purification and perfection.
And grant you the grace and comfort of the Holy Spirit. According to Proverbs 13:15: “The way of transgressors is hard,” but in one talk Yogananda commented about the spiritual path: “This way is not easy, but the way of the world is much harder”–and certainly entails much more suffering. The abiding grace, comfort and ease of heart that the Divine Power we call the Holy Spirit provides us is unfailing and leads us to that level of consciousness where no comfort is needed, but all is “righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Romans 14:17).
To all this we reply “Amen–let it be so,” hopefully with the intention to shape our life and thought accordingly. The purification is now complete, and we are ready to progress to higher and holier things.
To God Be The Glory
The Absolution being completed, the priest turns back to the altar and sings:
With praise and with prayer shall our Temple be built.
And the people respond: To God alone be the glory.
The power of speech
We often speak of “mere” or “empty” words, but that is only in the sense of intellectual meaning. Every spoken word carries very real power (vibration) within it, “for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” as Jesus said (Matthew 12:34). There is a great esoteric principle here: the human voice is a conduit for the vibratory character of a person’s level of consciousness. That is why Jesus said: “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). This is how the truth in the mouth of liars has the vibration of a lie, but the same words spoken by someone of high consciousness has the vibration of truth and benefits the hearers. I once read the account of a woman who had visited a saint who spoke about the reality of immortality. She commented in her writing that she had heard the same words many times before, but when the saint spoke them she was profoundly affected and felt that she was hearing them for the first time. And that, too, was revealed by Jesus (Matthew 12:35) when he said: “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things” by means of his speech (Matthew 12:35).
So when the priest sings: “With praise and with prayer shall our Temple be built” he is stating a very real fact. Throughout the Mass the prayers, readings, responses, and hymns–since they involve the voice–are projections of our personal energies which the angels receive and use to build a thought form temple structure that will in turn draw down to us a hundredfold in energies that will affect us in countless ways–all to our elevation and evolution. And since our aspiration is toward God and our ascent beyond the realms of birth and death, the phrase “to God alone be the glory” indicates the Godward orientation of those energies.
The Mass traditionally began with the singing of a hymn or psalm as the clergy entered the main part of the church and went to the altar. This became known as the Entrance Hymn or Introit. Usually it made reference to the theme of the Sunday or holy day. The Mass as formulated by the two seer-bishops retains the Introit, but with some differences.
First of all, the Introit is always the same, rather than changing constantly as in the earlier forms of Mass. This is in conformity with the liturgical practice of the Eastern (Byzantine) Orthodox Church. The Old Catholic Church of Great Britain, of which Bishop Wedgwood became the head, had been received into union with the Eastern Church by Archbishop Gerassimos Messara of Beirut on behalf of the Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch. (This act of union was brought about through the influence of Saint Nectarios, the great wonderworker of Greece, who had been the Bishop of Pentapolis in the Alexandrian Patriarchate of Egypt.) Bishop Wedgwood was closely associated with the Russian Orthodox Church in London as well as in France and Switzerland, and was always invited to stand within the iconostasis when he attended the Orthodox Liturgy. As a result, the Mass has several Eastern liturgical traits which I will point out.
However, he was also drawing on the tradition of the West in his choice of the Introit of Trinity Sunday to be the usual one. For in Catholic England before the takeover of Protestantism it had long been the practice to celebrate the Trinity Sunday Mass on all Sundays after Trinity Sunday until Advent. One result of this was the laity coming to know the Latin propers by heart and singing them along with the choir.
The second and most important difference in the matter of the Introit is esoteric. Obviously, if the Introit is always the same, it will produce the identical vibratory effect. This is very valuable. But it is the inner effect of the Introit that is the major factor in this. The traditional Introits were merely hymns of entrance into the physical place of worship. But in the Mass of Bishops Wedgwood and Leadbeater, the Introit is a literal entrance into a higher level of existence and experience, for it directly invokes the Holy Trinity.
The English Christian esotericist, Dr. Violet Firth, who wrote under the name of “Dion Fortune,” was a personal friend and esoteric associate of Bishops Wedgwood and King as well as other clergy of the Old Catholic Church of Great Britain (later known as The Liberal Catholic Church). In her writings she spoke of a process she called “rising on the inner planes” of awareness. Just as we turn the radio dial to get different programs, so it is possible to enter all planes of consciousness if we know how to attune ourselves accordingly. Although we might speak of “up” and “down” in this process, it is really a matter of greater or lesser subtlety of vibration. So when I say we enter a higher level of existence I mean it as a matter of higher awareness.
The Mass is both an ascent and a descent: we ascend and Higher Consciousness descends to us. In the Mass earth and heaven truly do unite. As said earlier, the finger of God touches the finger of man in a divine circuit which is intended to transform humanity into divinity.
Blessed be the Holy Trinity
The words of the Introit are:
Blessed be the Holy Trinity, the undivided Unity, eternal, immortal, invisible, to Whom be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
O Lord our God, how excellent is thy name in all the world.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, and now, and always, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
Blessed be the Holy Trinity, the undivided Unity, eternal, immortal, invisible, to Whom be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
This is the first of three great invocations of the Holy Trinity that open the Mass, each of which merits close examination. (If we count the beginning exclamation by the priest, there are actually four invocations of the Trinity.)
Blessed be. This sounds peculiar to us, but it was not so in previous centuries when “blessed” included being praised. In the Old Testament the word is barak, which means to praise, reverence, and prostrate before in worship. The word in the New Testament is eulogetos, which means “praised” and “celebrated with praises.” So at the very beginning of the Mass proper we are declaring our intention to praise, reverence and worship God.
But why? God does not need any praise from us who really cannot conceive of the Divine nature, and certainly God does not need flattery and fawning from us. Although God is the center of our attention, the benefit is for us alone. It has been known from time immemorial–and now to modern physics–that when we fix our minds on something two things happen: we influence the object and the object influences us. So when we fix our mind on God we immediately enter into communication with God and the Divine Influence starts flowing toward and into us. This is a very effective way of purifying, elevating, and expanding our awareness. Furthermore, divine qualities begin to awaken in us so we can become restored to our original status as image/reflections of God. The Mass is a powerful means of spiritual restoration, particularly when supported by regular meditation.
The Holy Trinity. God is both transcendent and immanent. God is also absolutely one, and the Trinity is a symbolic way of speaking about that Unity. In ancient India the sages clearly understood and expressed the truth that God is Om Tat Sat: divine creative intelligent energy, divine guiding intelligence within that energy, and primal intelligence that transcends those two. Yet there is only One Consciousness, not three. Om Tat Sat is exactly, not just approximately, what Jesus meant by Holy Spirit, Son, and Father. He used such symbolic terms in the hope that it would be easier for his hearers to grasp.
The Father is the transcendent Consciousness beyond all relativity; the Son is the extension of that Consciousness into the Primal Energy that is the Holy Spirit manifesting as creation. The Father is the Impersonal God and the Son is the Personal God. The Holy Spirit is the evolving power that causes us to pass up the evolutionary ladder from a single atom of hydrogen to divinity. That is why the Holy Spirit is God the Mother. We are growing within her divine womb, within her very Being, so that one day we will be “born” into the world of pure Spirit to be “sons of God” with and within God. Multiplicity is a dream from which we awaken into:
The undivided Unity. For God is absolutely one, even though presently manifesting within–and as–the many. That is why we must understand that all relative existence and experience is a dream, a kind of training film within which we develop the capacity for union with the Infinite, a sharing in Infinite Life. When we reach that state we will really understand what has gone on. Until then we work with as much as we can understand at the present, but always with the readiness to expand that understanding and even go beyond it into a better comprehension. That is why dogmatism and unquestioning clinging to concepts is a major obstacle to spiritual growth. It is all passing scenery, and we need to keep right on moving through. Ashoka erected a stupa upon which were the words: “Jesus the Son of Mary said: The world is a bridge–pass over it; do not build a house on it.” This is especially true psychologically. The trouble is, the world of our ego traps and enslaves us, even in spiritual philosophy. As one wise person said, life itself is a taking up and a putting down. It is the same with theological concepts–we need them, but we must use them to outgrow them.
Eternal. In the West we think that eternity is time without end, but that is an error. Eternity is the state of being of God that is completely outside time and space. So when we say that God is eternal we mean that state which is beyond beginning and ending, beyond birth and death. That is why the Greeks called God Theos–the Absolutely Other.
Immortal. God is Existence, is Life itself. Nothing can exist or live outside of or separate from God. Within God death is a complete impossibility. As the upanishad says, by meditation on the Immortal we attain immortality. To unite with God is to transcend the dream of death.
Invisible. God is not just invisible to our physical eyes, God is invisible to our intellect–beyond its grasp. Anything that is “seen” by either our outer or inner eyes is not God–at least not God in the sense of the Divine Essence. This should stimulate us to evolve beyond those eyes into the state of direct knowing in which God is seen and known. This is the goal of every sentient being.
To Whom be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. Our contemplation of God must become continuous, and the faculty to do so is awakened and developed only through meditation. This is the whole picture, so we end it with the word Amen. For not only is the Word the Beginning, it is also the End. Continuing this idea we then say:
O Lord our God, how excellent is thy name in all the world. For the Trinity is manifesting as all creation while also transcending it and leading us beyond it. It is “excellent” for It has the power to transform all that exists into the Divine Reality.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. This is not just a verbal formula: it is an act of impelling our consciousness into the realm of Triune Reality, of entering into true Life. It is an invocation of Perfect Being:
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. We are not orienting our consciousness to the realm of coming and going, beginning, and ending, but to true Eternity–to that Consciousness from which the possibility of past, present, and future arises, but which can never be affected or touched by them. It is Itself the Aeon, the state of being, which encompasses and transcends all possible states of existence. Eternity is the aim of the Mass, just as it is the aim of meditation.
This is the first “rising on the inner planes” effected by the Mass.
The Introit is an exposition of the Trinity but the Creed says: “We believe in the Holy and all-glorious Trinity, who pervades the whole universe, who dwells also in the spirit of man.” The Introit, then, is also an affirmation of our own innate status. As eternal spirits we should also praise and honor our real nature as part of the infinite Consciousness that is God. We, too, are triune in nature, yet still one in essence: eternal, immortal, and (presently) invisible; to whom, in the attainment of perfection, there shall also be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen: may it be so!
During the singing of the Introit the priest censes the altar and people. Fire is a great purifier, and even an enlivener. Consequently it has been used in rituals throughout history. In Christian ritual it has traditionally been employed in two forms: for light in candles and lamps, and for the burning of incense.
Incense, too, has been used since time immemorial, and for the same reasons as fire. The incense, turned into smoke, both purifies and attunes the consciousness of those who smell it. The various ingredients of incense were long ago analyzed by those with clairvoyant sight. For example, frankincense, the main ingredient in church incense, has a psychic correspondence with the sun, with the solar world to which all ascend who have become freed from the karmic compulsion for further births on the material plane. Consequently it purifies and awakens the consciousness of those who use it. Incense smoke also expels negative vibrations and raises the vibrations of all it touches. Through his clairvoyant faculties Bishop Leadbeater was able to determine the effects of many forms of incense and make recommendations for several formulas to be used in Christian ceremonial.
Through this censing the place where Mass is celebrated and all those within it are purified and elevated physically and psychically. The purification is now complete, and we are ready to progress to higher and even holier things.
Kyrie eleison. Christe eleison. Kyria eleison.
In the Introit we directly invoked the Holy Trinity as the Archetype of which we are living reflections. Now we are going to evoke and empower our personal triune nature, the glory which we had with God before the foundations of the world (John 17:5). To do this we sing a ninefold invocation of the Trinity in Greek:
Kyrie eleison, Kyrie eleison, Kyrie eleison.
Christe eleison, Christe eleison, Christe eleison.
Kyria eleison, Kyria eleison, Kyria eleison.
The triple recitation of each invocation affirms the trinitarian nature of all beings, including the three divine aspects that comprise the Trinity.
Greek is used in this formula because originally Christianity was predominantly a Greek-speaking community, even in Rome where Latin was not the liturgical language until several centuries had lapsed. This is important to know, because in the Mediterranean world original Christianity was most in harmony with Greek philosophy, especially that of Plato and Aristotle, and later the Neo-Platonism of Plotinus. Certainly the spiritual roots of Christianity were in India, but so were those of Greek philosophy.
“Kyrie” means “Lord” and is a reference to God the Father. “Christe” means “Christ” the Anointed, the Messiah, and is a reference to the Son of God, or Ishwara. “Kyria” means “Lady” and refers to the Holy Spirit Mother. (In both Hebrew and Aramaic, the spoken language of Jesus, the Holy Spirit is referred to as feminine. This was changed after the Council of Nicea in the fourth century when Christianity became the state religion in which God could only be male.)
This is the meaning, but the effect is very much more. As already said, we are threefold, as is the Trinity, for we are images of the Trinity. This triune nature can be spoken of in many ways and with many listings of what these three aspects of our nature may be. We, too, have a transcendent consciousness (superconscious mind), an immanent or incarnate consciousness (conscious mind), and a material nature at the core of which is the subconscious mind. This can be more easily stated as spirit, mind, and body, and perhaps better stated as causal, astral, and physical (material) bodies.
“Eleison” means “have mercy” or “have compassion.” It is a very active word, meaning to help someone by removing their suffering or need. It also indicates a profound desire to help, an attitude of good will. Perhaps the best word for it is loving-kindness. Bishops Wedgwood and Leadbeater preferred this last meaning because it does not have the connotation of people being “miserable sinners” who are sure to be eternally condemned to fiery hell if God does not have mercy and forgive their sins. The root word, eleimon, is the attraction of Divine Love which draws all sentient beings to evolve unto union with God which by its nature will bring about the cessation of all suffering, for the possibility of suffering will be permanently ended. Therefore the bishops felt that “pour forth thy love” was a truer rendering of eleison.
Leo Tolstoy wrote a story entitled The Three Hermits that was based on an experience of the Russian Orthodox bishop of Archangelsk when he was making a journey to the famous Solovetsky Monastery in his diocese. Nicholas Roerich summarized it as follows:
“On an island there lived three old hermits. They were so simple that the only prayer they used was: ‘We are three; Thou art Three–have mercy on us!’ Great miracles were manifested during this naive prayer.
“The local bishop came to hear about the three hermits and their inadmissible prayer, and decided to visit them in order to teach them the canonical invocations. He arrived on the island, told the hermits that their heavenly petition was undignified, and taught them many of the customary prayers. The bishop then left on a boat. He saw, following the ship, a radiant light. As it approached, he discerned the three hermits, who were holding hands and running upon the waves in an effort to overtake the vessel.
“‘We have forgotten the prayers you taught us,’ they cried as they reached the bishop, ‘and have hastened to ask you to repeat them.’ The awed bishop shook his head.
“‘Dear ones,’ he replied humbly, ‘continue to live with your old prayer!’”
As I have said, these are not simple praises or acknowledgements but invocations: calling into us the Light of the Trinity to strengthen and perfect Its likeness within us. At each one the subtle powers of the Aspect invoked enter into us through the mediary of the spiritual atmosphere created by the Mass. For that reason it is very important that we sing these invocations carefully and with full attention and awareness of their purpose. At their completion our causal, astral, and physical bodies have been pervaded by the divine powers in turn, attuning us to the Cosmic Trinity without and the personal trinity within.
This makes us ready for the third invocation of the Trinity.
Now in joyful praise of the Trinity we sing the Wedgwood-Leadbeater version of the very ancient hymn known as the Gloria:
Glory be to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of goodwill. We praise thee, we bless thee, we worship thee, we glorify thee; we give thanks to thee for thy great glory, O Lord God, Heavenly King, God the Father Almighty.
O Lord Christ, alone-born of the Father; O Lord God, Indwelling Light, Son of the Father, Whose wisdom mightily and sweetly ordereth all things, pour forth thy love: thou Whose strength upholdeth and sustaineth all creation, receive our prayer; thou Whose beauty shineth through the whole universe, unveil thy glory.
For thou only art holy; thou only art the Lord; thou only, O Christ, with the Holy Spirit, art most high in the glory of God the Father. Amen.
This is a great deal of material, and all of it significant, especially considering the extensive alterations made in it by the bishops. From the very first it is evident to those familiar with the traditional Mass forms that Wedgwood and Leadbeater had something very different in mind, even though they followed the traditional ordering. They well knew that “no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles” (Mark 2:22), and acted accordingly.
First we address God the Father.
Glory be to God in the highest. God is everywhere, but since it is our desire to ascend to the highest level of consciousness, we invoke God accordingly. It is a fact that God comes down to us, much like an adult plays with children on hands and feet like one of them. That is very necessary, but the time comes when what is needed is a rising up toward God’s level as much as possible. So we fix our mind on God the Absolute, the Source, and aspire to That.
On earth peace to men of goodwill. God, though the Highest, yet extends his hand to all those that on earth possess “good will”–the aspiration to rise and transcend all relative limitations. To them peace will come, for their wills will come into harmony and alignment with the Divine Will, and they will begin to be drawn upward toward the One Goal: God. For it has been God’s will from eternity that we should rise and return to our Origin in full consciousness and realized potential: gods within God. So that must be our will, as well.
We praise thee, we bless thee, we worship thee, we glorify thee. Notice that this does not say that we fear or tremble before God and feel unclean (Isaiah 6:5), “a worm and no man” (Psalms 22:6), loathing and condemning ourselves, confident that God feels the same toward us. No, we shake off that useless egotism (for it is egotism) and fill our minds with perceptions of God–for we are going to leave the human condition behind like broken toys of childhood and move onward to greater and greater things. For through meditation empowered by the other Sacraments and the Mass: “we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (II Corinthians 3:18).
This being so, we praise, bless, worship, and glorify God–not because we want to please or placate him, or because we want material advantage from him. Rather, we do so because God is the source of our existence, because we are eternally one with him, because God is the Self of our Self, the Ocean of Spirit in which all spirits live forever. We are glorifying our Supreme Self and elevating ourselves by so doing.
We give thanks to thee for thy great glory. Because that Glory is our glory. “For in him we live, and move, and have our being…. For we are also his offspring” (Acts 17:28). We are inseparable from God. How absurd and blasphemous is the belief that we can ever be separated from God or eternally damned. We are ever living in God, waves on the sea of Infinity. Knowing that, we give thanks to God that we are a part of his great Glory–a part of him. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (I John 3:2). This, and this alone is the Apostolic Faith, the Gospel of “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). And for that we give thanks.
O Lord God, Heavenly King, God the Father Almighty. The Father is the Transcendent Reality who is the Infinite Consciousness that is symbolized by the word “heavenly” in Jesus’ teachings. The ouranios (heavenly) is that which dwells in and is the ouranos (heaven). “Heaven” is a symbol for unbounded Consciousness. God is also “Lord” because he is the ultimate Power and Director.
Kurios Theos is the Greek original translated “Lord God.” Kurios means the Supreme Being, the Lord. It also has the connotation of the ownership of all things and the one who controls and directs all things. It also implies one who has an intention of purpose for what is owned–which is the evolution, perfection, and liberation of every sentient being. The realm of relative existence is a school whose sole purpose is the enlightenment and freedom of all enrolled therein. Theos means “the absolutely Other” in the sense of the complete transcendence of Divinity. It specifically means Brahman, the Father aspect of God.
Now we address God the Son.
O Lord Christ, alone-born of the Father. Though transcendent in nature, God extends Himself and enters into creation as its inner Ruler and Controller. In this aspect he is called “the Son” because in the East from time immemorial it has been said: “The Father is born in the Son.” As the early Christian writer Tertullian said: “The Son is an emanation of the Father”–actually is the Father in extension. It is the Son–Ishwara–who creates and directs all things. God the Father does only one thing: the projection/emanation of the Son, which in the Gospel is called “begetting” the Son. Although “only begotten” is the usual translation of monogenes, Wedgwood and Leadbeater preferred “alone-born” because monos primarily means “alone” or “sole.” Also, exoteric Christianity has misinterpreted “only begotten” to mean that because of the virgin birth Jesus alone can be properly called Son of God–and thereby has made it carry a mistaken connotation that is hard to shake. It is essential that we keep in mind that there is only one God. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are only symbolic terms for the One Reality that is beyond all words and symbols. Those titles can help us dimly grasp fundamental truth, but must never be mistaken for Truth itself. For God alone is Truth.
O Lord God, Indwelling Light. “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light” (I John 1:5). Ishwara, the Son, is God in his dynamic aspect. He directs and controls all things, but not externally as many religions think. Rather, he directs all thing as their inmost being. He is within everything as the Indwelling Light of Divine Consciousness. And this indwelling is not passive, but supremely active.
Son of the Father. He is the Father entered into relative existence.
Whose wisdom mightily and sweetly ordereth all things. The word “wisdom” here indicates the intelligent purpose of God in creation. Being omnipotent, obviously he does all things “mightily”–in power. The word “sweetly” may seem peculiar here, especially since we are used to thinking of God in terms of awe and even fearfulness. But it is a Biblical expression from the book of Wisdom 8:1. (If your Bible does not have this book, it is not a complete Bible. It was part of the King James version until fanatical Protestant elements in the Church of England removed it.) The idea is that God and all he does is “sweet,” permeated with the bliss (ananda) that is the essential nature of God Himself. We are not to look upon the glories and might of God and tremble and fall down on our face, rather we are to look up and rejoice, for we are part of that Great Work, that sweet order, and by it we are destined to become the sons of God. As said before, this is the true Gospel (Good News) of Christ, the true Christianity.
Pour forth thy love. God is Love (I John 4:8:16), and in this petition we are asking him to pour forth his own Being upon and into us, that his intended process of theosis, of deification, may be begun and in time completed in us, that we may be Christs, “the Anointed,” of God. That is a bold request, but one that God has intended to fulfill for us from eternity. As our example, Jesus, prayed: “O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was” (John 17:5). In the traditional Gloria the words were “have mercy on us,” but since eleison is mercy arising from love, the two bishops felt that this was a better expression, being both more accurate and more meaningful.
Thou Whose strength upholdeth and sustaineth all creation. All creation is held in the omniscience of God, for everything is a manifestation of the Divine Will. What we call “natural law” is really the intention of God. When we realize this, then we can understand what Jesus meant by saying: “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father” (Matthew 10:29). Literally, the falling of the sparrow to the ground is an act of God, not just because God is omnipotent, but because creation is his creative dream, a dream within which we are dreaming along with him. (Listen to Yogananda’s recorded talk Awake In The Cosmic Dream.) To emphasize this truth, in the very next verse Jesus declared:” The very hairs of your head are all numbered” in the consciousness of God. All things exist because God exists, because his existence is their existence. “For in him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
Receive our prayer. The Greek word translated “prayer” in the Gospels is proseukhe, which literally means “to draw near.” So real prayer is not in the words, but in the drawing near of the spirt, the consciousness, to God. The Mass is the supreme outer means to draw near to God, for on the inner, spiritual plane it is a continual drawing near and entering into contact with God. Although we certainly are asking God to grant our petition to pour forth his love and reveal Himself to us, it is our drawing near to him in the unseen realm that we particularly want him to accept and foster by bringing us to him–to give us the experience of the Prodigal Son: “And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him” (Luke 15:20). Once again, we are praying for union with God.
Thou Whose beauty shineth through the whole universe. The whole universe is God’s glory. Sri Ramakrishna often remarked that the same world which appears to be the abode of sorrow and evil is transformed into “a market of joy” when spiritual realization is attained–that instead of darkness, sorrow and death, we see the world as the embodiment of light, joy and life: the very Presence of God. Therefore it is only reasonable to pray:
Unveil thy glory. It is this Beatific Vision which shall transform the seeing into the Seen. For to see God is to be God. O blessed sight!
For Thou only art holy. Holiness is to be found in the Holy.
Thou only art the Lord. Mastership, likewise, is to be found in the Lord.
Thou only, O Christ, with the Holy Spirit. There are two extensions of the Father: the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit means “the holy breath” in the sense that the Holy Spirit is the outbreathing, the very transforming Life of God. The Son is the Divine Masculine and the Holy Spirit is the Divine Feminine. In a sense the moment that God extends Himself he becomes dual: the consciousness within creation and the creation itself–the Son and the Holy Spirit. They are inseparable, which is why in mystical Christianity Jesus and Mary, as embodiments of the Son and the Holy Spirit, are considered indispensable to our attaining perfection. I met a great saint and mystic, a bishop, who spoke to me of the need to enter “the secret hearts of Jesus and Mary;” that if I did so, at the time of death “the Light of the Virgin Mary” would take me to God. Since Jesus is in perfect union with–and embodies–the Son of God, we call him “Lord.” The Virgin Mary, being in perfect union with–and embodying–the Holy Spirit, we call her “Lady.”
The depiction of Mary with the Child Jesus is a profound spiritual symbol, indicating the relationship of the Son and the Holy Spirit. In the iconographic form called Odigitria or Directress, the Virgin Mary looks at us as she gestures with her right hand toward the child Jesus whom she holds on her left arm. The message is that the purpose of creation is knowledge of the Creator. One half of material existence covers up the presence of God, but the other half reveals it. That is why those who turn away from God are said to be on the “lefthand path” and those who seek God are on the “righthand path.” Both are functions of the Holy Spirit in relation to evolving spirits. As material existence the Mother God first conceals God and then reveals him. A prayer of Bishop Wedgwood speaks of “the limitations of time and space, wherewith it is thy will to veil our earthly eyes from the excess of thy glory” until we are capable of the Divine Vision. Equally meaningful is the depiction that shows the Divine Child within the breast of the Mother, indicating the presence of the Son within creation, within the Holy Spirit Mother. It is also symbolic of us, as well, for we are living within the vast ocean of creative Life that is the Holy Spirit, and in time we are to be “born” of her back into the world of the Father.
Art most high in the glory of God the Father. Although we think of the Son and the Holy Spirit as God come “down” to us in order to draw us back upward into the Bosom of the Father (John 1:18), they of course are always in the Most High, in the Glory of God the Father because they are God the Father. This, in a measure, we are intended to be, also. Wherefore with all our heart we respond: Amen. May it be so!
The Collect–joining in prayer
Twice in the book of Revelation it is stated that Jesus “hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father” (Revelation 1:6; 5:10). Throughout Mass this should be kept in mind, for in the sacred rite as formulated by Wedgwood and Leadbeater all conscious participants are auxiliary priests, concelebrants with the presiding priest. They are not mere witness-beneficiaries, spectators only, but active assistants as much as are the angels that are present and cooperating throughout the Mass.
As a sign and strengthening of that unanimity of angels, priest, and congregation, the celebrant turns and salutes those present, saying
P: The Lord be with you.
C: And with thy spirit.
“The Lord be with you,” expresses the will and desire that God should be a living Presence to all assembled there, who respond in kind, saying: “And with thy spirit”–that a living experience of the Infinite Spirit may come to all the finite spirits there.
The priest then says:
Let us pray.
Although the Greek word proseuxomai is translated “pray” in the New Testament, it also means to praise and worship. If we are adept in prayer, then our prayer brings us right into the presence of God.
The opening prayers are called “Collects” because when they are prayed it draws everyone present together into a unified purpose as well as a psychic unity. The thought form created by the prayers rise upward to be carried by the angels to the throne of God. In the book of Revelation (5:8; 8:3, 4) this is symbolized by the smoke of incense which is said to be “the prayers of the saints.” Since “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction,” a response from on high is immediate.
In Eastern Christian eucharistic liturgies the prayers are unchanging, and this was adopted by bishops Wedgwood and Leadbeater for the first and final Collects.
The first Collect, setting the tone for the entire Mass, is:
Almighty God, unto Whom all hearts be open, all desires known, and from Whom no secrets are hid; cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy Holy name. Through Christ our Lord. R: Amen.
This is a very ancient prayer, originally written in Latin, and it expresses what should be the aspirations of all who seek higher life and consciousness.
Almighty God, unto Whom all hearts be open, all desires known, and from Whom no secrets are hid. We are intimately known to God, for God is not outside us, but within us, experiencing all that we experience. So this is a declaration of our unity with God. It also affirms the love of God for us, a love than cannot possibly be lessened or altered. Knowing all about us, God–who Saint James the Apostle calls “the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning”–loves us with an unchanging love (James 1:7). Knowing this, the prophet Jeremiah exclaimed: “Great is thy faithfulness!” (Lamentations 3:23). We also are looking forward to the time when, as Saint Paul says: “Then shall I know [God] even as also I am known [by God]” (I Corinthians 13:12).
Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment” (Matthew 22:37, 38). Despite all the fatuous babble nowadays about “unconditional love,” a little reflection should reveal that only an unconditioned being–namely God–is capable of unconditional love. Although God loves us however unworthy we may be, we should seek to love him back in a worthy manner. As Saint John wrote: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (I John 3:2, 3). For that reason we pray that our minds and hearts may be cleansed by the in-breathing of the Holy Spirit, that in her our darkness will be dissolved and only the Divine Light shall remain.
That we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy Holy name. Only the pure in heart can truly love; and those that love live in God, who is love (I John 4:8, 16). That is why Jesus said: “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). They alone can worthily praise God in their hearts and lives as well as in word. Saint John also said: “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth” (I John 3:18). Before that, Jesus had said: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).
The second Collect is always proper to the Mass of the day which has a dominant theme that is first expressed in the Collect and then in the two scripture readings, and sometimes in the Gradual. The Collects, written mostly by Bishop Leadbeater, are of an entirely different character and purpose from those of the traditional Mass. The old Collects have three main features: forgive us; make us good; give us. Leadbeater’s collects are prayers of spiritual aspiration, of reaching out for divine experience. They can be summed up in the petition from the Lord’s prayer: “thy kingdom come,” which was also the motto of the Liberal Catholic Church. Further, most Sundays have a specific intention in relation to spiritual growth in some form, and can be celebrated at other times of the year to invoke the spiritual energies that will empower those present to attain that growth. The Sundays of Advent present to the worshippers those inner qualities that should be cultivated to “prepare the way of the Lord” in their lives, to prepare them for the birth of Christ in their own consciousness. Likewise, the Sundays of Lent present the kinds of purification and virtue that will ensure the resurrection of Christ in each individual life. The subsequent Sundays teach us how to maintain and increase the Christ Life.
Other Collects may be added according to the season or the day, but the final Collect is always:
Teach us, O Lord, to see thy life in all men and in all the peoples of thine earth, and so guide the nations into the understanding of thy laws that peace and goodwill may reign upon earth; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
For we are not just thinking of ourselves and those who are with us attending the Mass. We are thinking of the whole earth, all sentient beings and all human beings evolving with us.
The Collect has set the theme, and now it is expanded upon by a reading from an epistle of one of the Apostles or from the ancient Prophets. A careful listening will show us how to facilitate the aspiration set forth in the collect. At the conclusion of the reading all respond: Thanks be to God.
In the old Mass rites, the Gradual–which means “steps” or “stairs”–was sung as a reader ascended into a pulpit for the reading or singing of the Gospel. These changed very frequently, usually daily, but Bishop Wedgwood felt that it was better to have a standard Gradual with only a few Graduals proper to special holy days or seasons. In this he was following the practice of the Byzantine Orthodox liturgy in relation to the brief hymns known as Troparia. Interestingly, in the twentieth-century English translations and liturgical music books of Bishop Fan Noli of the Albanian Orthodox Church, the Troparia were called Graduals.
The standard Gradual is composed of scriptural passages:
He that loveth wisdom loveth life: and they that seek her early shall be filled with joy.
Teach me, O Lord, the way of thy statutes: and I shall keep it unto the end.
Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law: yea, I shall keep it with my whole heart.
The path of the just is as the shining light: shining more and more unto the perfect day.
This is an ideal expression of the Gnostic Christian character of the Mass, so it is worth a closer look.
He that loveth wisdom loveth life: and they that seek her early shall be filled with joy. So essential is Gnosis–Wisdom–that Jesus said in his prayer: “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God” (John 17:3). Wisdom includes intellectual knowledge, but is the insight born of spiritual intuition that has been cultivated by self-discipline and self-purification using the means provided us by the Lord Jesus Christ, especially the holy Mass. Those who “seek her early” by making Wisdom paramount in their life shall surely “be filled with joy.”
Teach me, O Lord, the way of thy statutes: and I shall keep it unto the end. There is a path to Light and there is a way to travel it. That is the true science of the spirit. It is an exact and precise methodology–nothing is haphazard or left to chance and whim. The entire Christ Life is as methodical and ordered as is the Mass itself. Those who possess the Christian Gnosis will keep it unto the end: Christhood itself.
Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law: yea, I shall keep it with my whole heart. There is no place here for the blind faith and unquestioning obedience so beloved to the hearts of exoteric Churchians and professional religionists. First we must learn the way of Christhood, and an essential ingredient of that is understanding. Only when we understand will we be able to keep the law of spirit with our whole heart, spontaneously and naturally. A true teacher or philosophy explains everything here and now, leaving nothing to “faith” or “the sweet bye and bye.”
The path of the just is as the shining light: shining more and more unto the perfect day. Evolution is continual development and expansion. Those who are attuned to the divine current of Spirit live each moment in the Light that is Life. And if we allow it, that Light and Life shall increase daily until we enter the Perfect Day of conscious life in God. No matter how dark and confused the world around us may be, awakening to inner realities causes us to begin walking in the Light here and now–no need to wait for some vague future promise. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God” (I John 3:2).
At the completion of the Gradual the priest salutes the people and announces the Gospel:
Priest: The Lord be with you.
People: And with thy spirit.
Priest: The reading from the Holy Gospel according to Saint N.
People: Glory be to thee, O Lord.
During this final response the people make the sign of the Cross over the third eye, their lips, and the center of the chest–the chakras that were awakened and worked with in Baptism. These signs of the Cross stimulate the “third eye” chakra between the eyebrows, the chakra at the hollow of the throat, and the heart chakra in the center of the chest. (The throat chakra is represented in this action by the lips to which it is directly connected.) This stimulation is very important, for these three chakras are the respective seats of the will, the intelligence, and the perceiving faculties. Further, they embody the threefold trinity of each person. The brow chakra embodies the Father principle, the throat chakra embodies the Son principle (the power of the Word), and the heart chakra embodies the Holy Spirit principle. Heretofore we have invoked the cosmic Trinity, but now we affirm and stimulate our personal Trinitarian nature.
At the conclusion of the Gospel all respond: Praise be to thee, O Christ.
Unless there is a sermon immediately after the Gospel, the Creed is then intoned:
We believe in God, the undivided Unity, embracing all in oneness.
We believe in the Holy and all-glorious Trinity, who pervades the whole universe, who dwells also in the spirit of man.
We believe in Jesus Christ, the Lord of love and wisdom, first among his brethren, who leads us to the glory of the Father, who is himself the way, the truth, and the life.
We believe in the law of good which rules the world and by which one day all his sons shall reach the feet of the Father, however far they stray.
We strive towards the ancient narrow path that leads to life eternal
So shall his blessing rest on us ✠ and peace forevermore. Amen.
This is one of the most important moments in the Mass, for it expresses the Christian Gnosis in a form as profound as it is brief.
We believe in God, the undivided Unity, embracing all in oneness. As I said previously, Bishops Wedgwood and Leadbeater were adherents of the Non-dual (Advaita) philosophy of India as uncompromisingly taught by Madame Blavatsky, with whom Leadbeater lived for several years in India. God is absolutely undivided Unity, and those who know God are lifted into that Unity and liberated from the mirage of duality. God encompasses all modes of existence and is all modes of existence–for God is Existence Itself. “I am the birthless, the deathless, Lord of all that breathes. I seem to be born: it is only seeming, only my Maya. I am still master of my Prakriti, the power that makes me” (Bhagavad Gita 4:6). (Or, more literally: “Although I am birthless, the imperishable Self, although I am the Lord of all beings: controlling [governing] My own prakriti, I manifest through My Maya.”)
We believe in the Holy and all-glorious Trinity, who pervades the whole universe, who dwells also in the spirit of man. In relation to creation–Maya or Prakriti–God has taken on a threefold mode: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But the Son and the Holy Spirit are only temporary manifestations of the Father, lasting only as long as creation. This Trinity pervades the whole universe as its basis or “ground of being” and does the same within every individual spirit in manifestation. In the Gospel of John, Jesus many times indicates that he only does what he first sees the Father do, or is told by the Father to do (3:11; 5:19, 30; 6:38; 8:28; 11:42; 12:49, 50). In these words he speaks for all conscious beings: we are image-reflections of the triune Godhead, and live and do as It lives and does. That Life is within each one of us inseparably.
We believe in Jesus Christ, the Lord of love and wisdom, first among his brethren, who leads us to the glory of the Father, who is Himself the way, the truth, and the life. As a perfected being, love and wisdom were the dominant powers of Jesus. With love he healed and with wisdom he enlightened. As Adam the father of humanity (see Robe of Light) he was “first among his brethren” in both time and eternity, for he was the first in that creation cycle to ascend to divine status. Then he descended to lead us to the glory of the Father. He was the Way-Shower, the perfect exemplary of the Way, the Truth, and the Life, leading all who will follow his example to the glory of the Father. “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out” (Revelation 3:12). “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne” (Revelation 3:21).
We believe in the law of good which rules the world and by which one day all his sons shall reach the feet of the Father, however far they stray. Since all that exists is God, only good really exists–evil being only a distortion or misperception of the good, having no real existence of its own. Consequently, no matter how awful a mess things can appear to be, there is an essential condition of good that shall inevitably be brought forth. That is why Saint Paul could write: “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). And what is that purpose? That “one day all his sons shall reach the feet of the Father, however far they stray.” For the Father has an infinite number of “sons” who exist in and by him, of whom he is the infinite Self. This is a great mystery, but all shall come to comprehend it fully, for they are eternally a part of it. No one is ever lost to God, much less “damned” by him. All the prodigal sons eventually return to the bosom of their Father.
We strive towards the ancient narrow path that leads to life eternal. The path of Christ is not just two thousand years old. Saint Augustine wrote in the fourth century: “The identical thing that we now call the Christian religion existed among the ancients and has not been lacking from the beginnings of the human race until the coming of Christ in the flesh, from which moment on the true religion, which already existed, began to be called ‘Christian.’” Earlier Saint Paul had written that the Christian Gospel was that which had already been taught throughout the whole world, “which was preached to every creature which is under heaven” (I Colossians 1:23). Authentic, original Christianity is not new, but eternal in essence, embracing the Ancient Wisdom that has existed from the beginning of the world. All master teachers of humanity are revivers of that Wisdom, reminders of what was at their time either lost or almost extinguished. That is why the Creed says that we seek “the ancient narrow path that leads to life eternal.”
So shall his blessing rest on us and peace forevermore. Amen. The way of blessedness is found in seeking God, the source of everlasting Peace. And even before we reach the heights of consciousness we will find peace in his blessing as he draws us upward into his perfection and freedom. For as the seers of India have declared, he is Satchidananda: Existence, Knowledge, and Bliss.
From the rising up…
Now the first part of the Mass, the time of teaching, is completed and we begin the bridge that shall lead us into the heart of the Mass known as the Prayer of Consecration–the Canon. Therefore the priest strengthens the bond between himself and the people by once more saluting them.
Priest: The Lord be with you.
People: And with thy spirit.
Then he intones a paraphrase of Malachi 1:11 and Jeremiah 33:11:
From the rising up of the sun, even unto the going down of the same, the Lord’s name shall be magnified; and in every place incense shall be offered unto his name and a pure offering. There shall be heard in this place the voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of them that shall bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord. R: Amen.
The Mass is the Great Sacrifice they prophesied, the completion of the sacrifice of Melchizedek in which he offered bread and wine on behalf of Abraham (see the fifth, sixth and seventh chapters of the book of Hebrews). David prophesied of Jesus, saying: “Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek” (Psalms 110:4). As will later be narrated by the priest, Jesus instituted the Mass and fulfilled the prophecy made so long ago.
He then seals the offering process by fire: censing the offered elements, the altar, and those present as he quietly says:
As this incense rises before thee, O Lord, so let our prayer be set forth in thy sight. Let thy holy angels encompass thy people and breathe forth upon them the spirit of thy blessing.
A hymn may be sung at this time, and in our monastery we sing the following:
Now the powers of heaven invisibly minister with us. For lo, the mystical Sacrifice, all accomplished, is ushered in. Let us with faith and love draw near, that we may become partakers of life everlasting. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
Then he washes his fingers so they will be perfectly clean for the awesome Mystery soon to take place.
Now the solemn completion of the offering in which priest, people, bread and wine are bound together in spiritual union approaches. Therefore the priest turns and bows to the people, saying:
Brethren, we have built a temple for the distribution of Christ’s power; let us now prepare a channel for its reception; and to that end pray ye that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God the Father Almighty.
The thought form is complete and acting as a magnet of spiritual energies drawn down from on high. Now a vehicle must be prepared for the Christ Consciousness to enter so all who partake of Communion may be united to Christ. Here, too, we see that the bishops realized the importance of all present for this mystical operation, for they prescribe that the people should respond:
May the Lord receive the sacrifice at thy hands and sanctify our lives in his service.
Turning back to the altar, the priest prays:
We lay before thee, O Lord, these thy creatures of bread and wine, ✠ linking them spiritually with ourselves, and praying thee to receive through them our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving; for here we offer and present unto thee ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a holy and continual sacrifice unto thee. May our strength be spent in thy service, and our love poured forth upon thy people, thou who livest for ever and ever. R: Amen.
When he makes the sign of the Cross at the word “linking” a very real though subtle connection is made between all those present and the offered bread and wine. From now on all actions in relation to these offerings will affect those who have been linked to them. (Since the effect of these actions is purely individual I will not here describe my personal observations.) In this way the people become united with the offerings and their prayers along with those of the priest will further magnetize them and make them ready for the Great Offering. For the wise do not just give God things of earth–of his own creation–they offer themselves, their souls and bodies “to be a holy and continual sacrifice.” Therefore the priest, who is numbered among them at this moment, prays that all may love God and man in an active, effective way, in this way fulfilling the first and second commandments (Mark 12:28-31).
And here I should point out that the processes I have been describing relating to the subtle levels of those participating in the Mass occur only in the Mass rite formulated by Bishop Wedgwood and Bishop Leadbeater. The consecration is the same in all rites, but only the Wedgwood-Leadbeater form affects the participants in such marvelous ways. Other eucharistic rites produce very sacred atmospheres that certainly benefit those that are attuned to them, but that is all. Only these Mass rituals directly and intentionally work on the subtle bodies of those present for the transformation of their consciousness. For this Mass is a true Yoga, developing the spiritual intuition and other highest-level faculties in those who are purified and in full attunement with it, awakening them into the abundant life that Christ intends for us (John 10:10).
The final steps in our bridge to the heart of the Mass are now taken.
In the early centuries of Christianity persecutions were often fierce, and Christians needed to to hide their identity. In Rome for a long time there were no churches, but Christians met in interior rooms of houses in groups of twenty-five (one bishop and twenty-four minor clergy and laity). They used various signs that only another Christian would know. One test they used was the dialogue that introduces the Preface.
Priest: The Lord be with you.
People: And with thy spirit.
Priest: Lift up your hearts.
People: We lift them up unto the Lord.
Priest: Let us give thanks unto our Lord God.
People: It is meet and right so to do.
Only two points need be pointed out here. First, the person is identified with their spirit. Second, the Mass is called both Missa, “the right thing,” and Eucharist, “thanksgiving.” So the third set of statements are particularly relevant to what we are doing and shall continue to do until the end of the Mass.
The priest continues, invoking all the nine ranks of heavenly powers–a unique feature of the Wedgwood-Leadbeater Mass:
It is very meet, right, and our bounden duty, that we should at all times and in all places give thanks unto thee, O Lord, holy Father, Almighty everlasting God.
Therefore, with angels and archangels, with thrones, dominations, princedoms, virtues, powers, with cherubim and seraphim, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify thy glorious name, evermore praising thee and saying:
To this the people respond:
Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts, Heaven and earth are full of thy glory; glory be to thee, O Lord most high.
Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
This particular arrangement of phrases is also unique to this Mass. The glory of heaven and earth are not to be only enjoyed or wondered at, but are to be offered back to God who manifested them for our evolution. Nothing should be thought of as ours, but as belonging to God. Our offering them to God is merely being sensible–and beneficial to ourselves. Our resolve to praise him that comes in the name of the Lord–Christ Himself–is equally so. Lifting our minds and hearts to the heights we give glory to God in the highest, as we did at the Gloria, but now much more meaningfully.
Throughout the Mass the spiritual energies have steadily increased in volume and in subtlety as those in attunement with the rite have truly “risen on the inner planes.” Now this process is greatly accelerated, and those whose inner bodies can respond are rapidly lifted up in consciousness to the point in the inner worlds where the astral begins to melt into the causal, where Form begins to merge into Thought. He who has descended to us now begins drawing us upward in an ascent that shall bring us before the throne of God, enabling us to say with Saint Paul that “[God] hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6). At this point we, too, “come in the name of the Lord” and stand before the Throne, led by the Great High Priest himself who has been accompanying us in our upward movement.
The Prayer of Consecration
We have now entered the heart of the Mass, the prayer of consecration known as the canon or anaphora. As a first step toward Consecration the priest prays:
O Lord, these our oblations have served as tokens and channels of our love and devotion towards thee; but now we ✠ break the link with us and with all lower things, and we pray thee to ✠ purify and to ✠ hallow them as earthly channels of thy wondrous power.
As he says “we break” he makes the sign of the Cross to effect a temporary disconnection with himself and all present to ensure that no stray vibrations from anyone can interfere with the transmutation (transubstantiation) that will soon be effected in the offerings. It is obviously a subliminal action on the part of everyone, for the priest says “we break,” not “I break.” Then he makes two crosses at the words “to purify” and “to hallow,” intending that those actions and effects should take place. And they do, for the priest is standing in the place of Christ. That which is bread and grape juice is gradually being changed in preparation for the Great Change when they shall truly become earthly channels of Divine Power. And the same is happening to those present according to the degree of their capacity to respond to the Divine Actions.
These words and actions hold a great lesson for us. If we are to ascend to Christhood through the total transmutation of our present nature into the Divine Light–just as did Jesus–we must absolutely break all links “with us and with all lower things.” We cannot ascend to Unity while ourselves being a duality, a conflicting mixture of “heaven” and “earth.” For as Jesus said: “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24). We must decide which we shall embody: God or Mayic illusion. And we must break the links–no one will do it for us. No, they will not automatically melt or drop away. They must be shattered and cast away by us.
Before entering into the Action (Actionem) of the holy Mass, the priest calls to mind those whom he and those present wish to share in the blessing, uplifting and healing powers that will soon pour forth in measureless abundance. Bishop Leadbeater explains that as each is named, the holy angels go to them like flashes of lightning and convey blessing power to them. So by commemorating them we actively bring them into the orbit of divine care.
We desire to offer this holy Sacrifice especially for thy holy catholic Church, for N. our Bishop, for all our bishops, clergy, and faithful.
What is the “catholic Church”? Obviously the company of those who profess faith in Jesus the Christ and who strive as best they can to follow his teachings and example is meant here, but “catholic” comes from the Greek words kata holos–“containing the whole”–so no one can be left out. Therefore the “Church of Christ” must contain all humanity, especially those that are seeking God to the best of their knowledge whatever their religion may be. So in the Mass we are praying for the welfare of all humanity, and we pray that they may have peace, the guiding care of God, and the realization of their unity with one another. In the list we include ourselves last, thinking first of the welfare of others. For this is the perspective of Christ.
For those here present, and for all who in this transitory life are in trouble, sorrow, need, sickness, or any other adversity (especially…).
Again, we forget no one, though at this time the priest and people silently bring to mind the names of those they especially pray for.
And for those who are again about to enter this earthly life through the portal of birth; and likewise for their mothers-to-be (especially…).
Reincarnation being a basic fact of life, we naturally pray for those in the womb who are no longer disembodied but not yet fully embodied–born. We also pray for their mothers’ welfare.
Likewise do we offer it for all those thy children whom it hath pleased thee to deliver from the burden of the flesh (especially for…), that, freed from earthly toil and care, they may enjoy the felicity of thy Presence, evermore praising thee in word and deed, O God, everlasting, living and true.
Finally we remember those who are no longer in the body but experiencing their karma in some other life-spheres or “worlds.” Our prayer is for their continued spiritual growth and progress toward perfection in God. Such a commemoration can greatly benefit the departed, and it also conveys to them awareness of our continuing love for them.
The final preparation
Holding his hands over the offerings with open palms as a bishop does when he ordains to a sacred office, the priest prays and blesses, saying:
Wherefore, O holy Lord, Father Almighty, we pray Thee to look down on and accept as a channel these offerings, and with Thy Holy Spirit and Word to ✠ bless, ✠ approve and ✠ ratify them that they may become for us the most precious ✠ Body and ✠ Blood of Thy Son.
Who the day before He suffered took bread into His holy and venerable hands, and with His eyes lifted up to heaven unto Thee, God His Almighty Father, giving thanks to Thee, He ✠ blessed, brake, and gave it to His disciples, saying: Take and eat ye all of this, for this is my Body. R: Amen.
In like manner after He had supped, taking also this noble chalice into His holy and venerable hands, again giving thanks to Thee, He ✠ blessed it and gave it to His disciples, saying: Take and drink ye all of this, for this is my Blood. R: Amen.
As oft as ye shall do these things, ye shall do them in remembrance of Me.
Wherefore, O Lord and heavenly Father, we Thy humble servants, bearing in mind the ineffable sacrifice of Thy Son Jesus, do offer unto Thee these gifts which Thou hast bestowed upon us, in token of our love, and of the perfect devotion and sacrifice of our minds and hearts to Thee; and we pray that thou wouldst command Thy holy angel to bear our oblation to Thine altar on high, there to be offered by Him Who, as the eternal high priest, for ever offers Himself as the eternal sacrifice. This do we ask, O Father, in the Name and through the mediation of Thy most blessed Son Jesus, for we acknowledge and confess with our hearts and lips that by Him and with Him and in Him, unto Thee, O mighty Father, be ascribed all honor and glory, throughout the ages of ages. R: Amen.
Everything we have to offer has come to us from God, yet our offering is made to indicate our desire to offer along with the physical elements “our love, and… the perfect devotion and sacrifice of our minds and hearts.” Therefore the priest petitions that the angel should ascend bearing our oblations, carrying with him the subtle essence of our devotion and resolve for higher life.
On the highest level, the entire Mass is offered by, with, and in Jesus “the eternal high priest” who “for ever offers Himself as the eternal Sacrifice.
Keenly aware of this fact, the priest begins the invocation–the epiklesis–of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, through him, saying:
And we ask, and pray and supplicate: Send down Thy Holy Spirit upon us and upon these gifts here set forth; and ✠ make this bread the precious Body of Thy Christ, amen; and ✠ that which is in this cup the precious Blood of Thy Christ, amen; ✠ transmuting them by Thy Holy Spirit, Amen, Amen, Amen.
As surely as “God said, Let there be light: and there was light” (Genesis 1:3), so now what was heretofore bread is the Living Body of Jesus Christ, the very body that was born of Mary, raised Peter from the raging waves, was nailed to the Cross, was raised from the dead and ascended into the heights. And what was the blood of the grape in the chalice is the Blood of Jesus Christ that was shed in the scourging and the crowning with the thorns and at the nailing and piercing on the Cross.
God has sent down to us the supreme gift of the Body and Blood of Christ. And he has done so through the Holy Spirit who overshadowed the Virgin at the conception of Jesus. It is the practice of all the Eastern Christian churches to invoke the Holy Spirit for the effecting of the Sacraments. Although Bishops Wedgwood and Leadbeater used the Western form of consecration in the Mass, as Saint Thomas Christians we employ an epiklesis. Both are equally effective and valid.
Bowing, all sing:
Thee we adore, O hidden Savior, thee, who in thy Sacrament dost deign to be; We worship thee beneath this earthly veil, And here thy presence we devoutly hail.”
This verse, taken from an English litany of the Blessed Sacrament, says all that can be said. Much more has been written about this entire Prayer of Consecration in the Science of the Sacraments–far better than I ever could. As much as is humanly possible, Bishop Leadbeater has explained just how this all takes place.
Rising, all sing as the priest, following the custom of the Eastern Orthodox Church, censes the newly-incarnate Lord:
O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to worship the Lord.
Come and behold him, monarch of the angels.
O come, let us adore him; O come, let us adore him;
O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.
Yea, Lord, we greet thee, throned on thine altar;
Ever to thee be highest glory given.
Word of the Father, Splendor everlasting;
O come, let us adore him; O come, let us adore him;
O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.
Throughout the singing a multitude of spirits of many kinds gather to join with us in our adoration and share in our joy.
To thine altar on high…
Now the priest unites himself with all present as he prays:
Wherefore, O Lord and heavenly Father, we thy humble servants, bearing in mind the ineffable sacrifice of thy Son, do offer unto thee this, the most precious gift which thou hast bestowed upon us, in token of our love, and of the perfect devotion and sacrifice of our minds and hearts to thee; and we pray that thou wouldst command thy holy angel to bear our oblation to thine altar on high, there to be offered by him who, as the eternal High Priest, for ever offers Himself as the eternal Sacrifice.
God has sent down to us the supreme gift of the Body and Blood of Christ. When the priest petitions that the angel should ascend bearing our oblations, it is done, the angel carrying with him the subtle essence of our devotion and resolve for higher life. This is the Angel of the Presence written about in the Science of the Sacraments. He and the priest have worked together in closest union in this awesome process we call the Mass. But now he ascends at the priest’s request and the priest takes over his functions as he prays:
All these things do we ask, O Father, in the name and through the mediation of thy most blessed Son, for we acknowledge and confess with our hearts and lips that by him and with him and in him, unto thee, O mighty Father, be ascribed all honor and glory, throughout the ages of ages. R: Amen.
Although the corresponding prayer in the traditional Roman Mass refers to the Lord Jesus Christ, this prayer speaks of the Son of God, the the infinite Christ and Creator, Ishwara.
The Lord’s Prayer
Now that our mental energies are harmonized and unified, we are ready to turn our consciousness upward, directly to the supreme heights, to the level of consciousness called “the great white throne,” the abode of the Father, in which we aspire to permanently be established. This was what Jesus promised in the already-cited verses: “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out” (Revelation 3:12). “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne” (Revelation 3:21).
The priest prefaces this by saying:
Let us pray. Instructed by the words of sacred Scripture, and following the tradition of holy Church from of old, we now say:
All respond, singing:
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
This is not just a prayer, it is a powerful invocation and evocation of Consciousness, one of the most important formulas of power in the Christian tradition. For many centuries it was the practice of fervent Christians to perpetually recite the Lord’s prayer, often using a string of beads to remind them to keep praying. In fact, our word “bead” comes from “bede” which means to pray or petition. So popular was this practice that an entire street in London consisted of shops selling those beads–hence its name of Paternoster Row, Paternoster being Latin for “Our Father.” Also in those centuries it was common practice for many among the aristocracy and the wealthy to be accompanied at all times by a “bede-man” who stood by them and constantly prayed the Lord’s Prayer silently, which was considered an invocation of the entire range of spiritual blessings needed by human beings. In some orders, such as the early Carmelites, a certain number of repetitions of the Lord’s Prayer were done in place of the formal hours of the Divine Office. And pious laity often followed the same practice–especially those who had no books from which to read the prayers and psalms of the Office.
But it also has a meaning we should investigate.
Our Father, who art in heaven. The “abode” of God is God: Infinite Consciousness symbolized by the boundless sky known in Indian mysticism as the Chidakasha or Conscious Space (Ether)–not some heaven modeled on the earth or any other kind of relative existence.
Hallowed be thy name. The very thought of God should be consecrated and consecratory in our minds. The holy names that invoke divine remembrance should be highly prized. The Greek word translated “name” is onoma, which means a name, an object named, and something that is being called upon–and in this instance implies the act of calling upon God. So we pray that any reaching out for God inwardly and outwardly will be made holy by divine response. For “hallow” is a translation of agiadzo, which means to make holy and also to purify. We are also asking that our invocation of God be purified and made effective–and the same be done to us.
Thy kingdom come. May the divine Consciousness descend into us and become our consciousness–may our finitude be transformed into Infinity and may we become gods within God.
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Thus may we become perfect reflections of God here and now, being ourselves revelations of the Divine.
Give us this day our daily bread. May our life in the spirit be continually sustained by spiritual enlivenment received through direct, conscious and continual communion with God.
And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them that trespass against us. Jesus is enunciating an inescapable law: “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matthew 7:12). “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you” (Matthew 6:14). Even in the Beatitudes he set forth this principle, saying: “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7). Saint Paul wrote: “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). So although here we are praying about being forgiven for our transgressions, we are also assenting to the entire law of karma and the responsibility it entails. Further, we are promising to follow that law in the future in all things.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. This does not mean that God would lead us into enticement to wrongdoing, but we are praying that we need not undergo difficulties or testings that will reveal our inner dispositions to wrongdoing, but that they be revealed to us directly through the purification of our mind. We pray that by our conforming to the karmic laws it will no longer be necessary for us to undergo the reaping of negative karmic seeds, but that the purification of our hearts will enable us to escape them through having learned the lessons they were meant to teach us–for karma is never reward and punishment but reaction meant for our instruction in the universal laws. We are aspiring to reach such a degree of wisdom that there will be no need for karmic reaction. It is a matter of awakening into higher consciousness where karmic reaction will no longer be needed. As the Gita tells us: “Do not say: ‘God gave us this delusion.’ You dream you are the doer, you dream that action is done, you dream that action bears fruit. It is your ignorance, it is the world’s delusion that gives you these dreams” (Bhagavad Gita 5:14).
For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen. This is a recognition of God’s eternal nature and a prayer for participation in that Eternal Being to such a degree that we will truly be gods within the greater Life of God. This transformation is the core of Jesus’ teachings, of “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). This is no fanciful dream, but a reality, for we see in the great saints and masters that it is possible for men to become gods.
In gratitude for that example and assurance, the priest now prays:
Here do we give unto thee, O Lord, most high praise and heartfelt thanks for the wonderful grace and virtue declared in the holy Lady Mary, our heavenly Mother, and in all thy glorious saints from the beginning of the world who have been the choice vessels of thy grace and a shining light unto many generations. And we ✠ join with them in worship before thy great white throne, whence flow all love and light and blessing through all the worlds which thou hast made. R: Amen.
Although the Lord Jesus is the pivotal element in the spiritual journey of his disciples, they receive tremendous help and blessing from all those that have gone on before us in the path of Christian discipleship, the primary one being the holy Virgin, the original Eve returned as the New Eve–the Eve of Renewal, the Mother of all the Living (Genesis 3:20; See Robe of Light). Yet we honor all the “glorious saints from the beginning of the world,” whatever their formal religion or philosophy may have been. For the true God is One, and unites all who live in him.
There is a major point in the final sentence: “And we join with them in worship before thy great white throne, whence flow all love and light and blessing through all the worlds which thou hast made.” This is not poetry but fact. In that moment we stand before the great throne, the great seat or center of the Consciousness that is God. And we unite with all the saints of all ages in worship, baptized in the love, light and blessing that flows therefrom.
A thousand altars
The time of Communion is very near; a few more steps and we will have reached it. Our subtle bodies have been energized and corrected several times, and now the final stage is here. The priest then prays:
O Son of God, who showest thyself this day upon a thousand altars and yet art one and indivisible, we pray that thy strength, thy peace, and thy blessing, which thou dost give us in this holy sacrament, may be spread abroad upon thy world; and as thou, O Lord Jesus Christ, wast made known to thy disciples in the breaking of bread, so may thy many children know themselves to be one in thee, even as thou art one with the Father. R: Amen.
Union and unity is the pervading theme of this prayer on more than one level. First: the absolute indivisibility of Christ and Jesus, and the joining of heaven and earth through the sacred Mass; second: the union of Jesus with each communicant; and third: union with one another and with the Father. This is the fulfillment of Jesus’ prayer on the very night in which he instituted the Holy Mass: “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me” (John 17:20-23). This is the final step in the preparation of our subtle bodies for Communion.
Everything possible has been done to bring about the unanimity of the priest and those present. Jesus said: “If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift” (Matthew 5:23, 24). Who can say what conflicts even from past lives may be present in our subconscious minds? Therefore the priest turns and salutes the people:
Priest: The peace of the Lord be always with you.
People: And with thy spirit.
May our souls be lifted
And now the final prayer of the priest before Communion:
O thou who in this adorable Sacrament hast left us a living memorial and pledge of thy marvelous love for mankind, and dost therein graciously draw us into wondrous and mystic communion with thee, grant us so to receive the sacred mysteries of thy Body and Blood that our souls may be lifted into the immensity of thy love, and that, being filled with a high endeavor, we may ever be mindful of thine indwelling Presence and breathe forth the fragrance of a holy life. R: Amen.
This prayer expresses the prime purpose of the Sacrament. “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification” (I Thessalonians 4:3). “God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification” (II Thessalonians 2:13).
As the priest receives Communion the people sing:
Unto thee, O Perfect One, the Lord and Lover of men, do we commend our life and hope. For thou art the Heavenly Bread, the Life of the whole world; thou art in all places and endurest all things, the Treasure of endless good, and well of infinite compassion. Amen.
This prayer, written by Bishop Wedgwood, contains great metaphysical wisdom.
Unto thee, O Perfect One, the Lord and Lover of men, do we commend our life and hope. It is important for us to realize that God is indeed a Person (Purusha), which is why we are persons also, being his images. Yet God does not have a conditioned personality such as we have taken on temporarily as a result of our experiences in material embodiment. Further, God loves us–not in the petty egoic emotional attachment that this world thinks is love (which is often nothing more than ego extension and psychic vampirism)–in that he is perpetually drawing us upward and back to full consciousness in his greater Consciousness which he intends to share with us. The only way to peace and fulfillment is for us to center ourselves in that upward current, to commend unto him our entire life and hope. For outside of God there is no true life or hope–only self-induced illusion.
For thou art the Heavenly Bread, the Life of the whole world. “In him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). God is Existence itself. We live by him every moment. Every atom–every particle of every atom–is a living entity drawing its existence directly from God. We are not creations of God, but his manifestations. Once we stray from consciousness of that unity only confusion and misery can result. For God is not just the Life of the world, as the Holy Spirit he is the whole world.
Thou art in all places and endurest all things. This is a rarely understood truth. God does not just know all things at a distance through a faculty of omniscience, but rather he is inside all things, just as we are inside our bodies. Therefore he experiences everything that takes place. When a volcano erupts, he experiences it happening to him as he experiences the very entity of the earth. Further, he experiences everything every single human being undergoes. Many people complain that God permits suffering, but they do not realize that he is experiencing the suffering of every sentient being. There is no joy or pain he does not make his own. This had to be done so we could evolve the scope of our consciousness through many lives in every possible gradation of consciousness. This is the Great Sacrifice God endures every moment for love of us. He suffers that we might end suffering. Right now he is living and dying and being reborn over and over–and all for us, for he needs nothing. That is why in the Long Form Mass Bishop Wedgwood included these three paragraphs in the Canon:
“Uniting in this solemn Sacrifice with thy holy Church throughout all the ages, we lift our hearts in adoration to thee, O God the Son, consubstantial, co-eternal with the Father, who, abiding unchangeable within thyself, didst nevertheless in the mystery of thy boundless love and thine eternal Sacrifice breathe forth thine own divine life into thy universe, and thus didst offer thyself as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, dying in very truth that we might live.
“Omnipotent, all-pervading, by that self-same sacrifice thou dost continually uphold all creation, resting not by night or day, working evermore through that most august Hierarchy of thy glorious Saints, who live but to do thy will as perfect channels of thy wondrous power, to whom we ever offer heartfelt love and reverence.
“Thou, O most dear and holy Lord, hast in thine ineffable wisdom deigned to ordain for us this Blessed Sacrament of thy love, that in it we may not only commemorate in symbol that thine eternal oblation, but verily take part in it, and perpetuate thereby, within the limitations of time and space, wherewith it is thy will to veil our earthly eyes from the excess of thy glory, the enduring sacrifice by which the world is nourished and sustained.”
The Mass is a part of the Great Sacrifice, which includes our individual life. God really is the self-sacrificing Priest of the cosmos.
The Treasury of endless good. However long the process of evolution to Divine Consciousness takes, God will continue to supply us with all we need. Although we may dislike some aspects and even rebel and complain to him (or petulantly deny his existence), every single moment of our relative existences is good. However great the suffering, grief, confusion, and despair it is all good for it will work toward our liberation. “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
And well of infinite compassion. The literal meaning of compassion is “suffering with.” From his love God both permits our suffering and suffers it right along with us. For he will not settle for anything less than our attainment of his Consciousness and Life as his Sons, perfect extensions of his being. We are as inseparable from God as he is from Himself.
We hasten now to increase our participation in the Life of God through Jesus Christ who is now incarnate on the altar and soon to be united with us. The priest turns to us and invites us to the Fount of Life, saying:
Ye that desire to partake of the Body and Blood of the Lord, draw nigh and receive this most holy Sacrament.
These words are reminiscent of an ancient hymn with which Bishops Wedgwood and Leadbeater would have been familiar. Once two saints had a disagreement and, human beings being what they are, they each had followers that made all kinds of trouble with the other’s followers. Being saints, they wanted to end this situation, so they and their companions met at an isolated church. As everyone else attended Mass, the saints walked together outside the church and resolved all their problems. Their agreement coincided with the time for Communion and they heard angelic voices singing from within the church: Venite, Sancti: “Come, holy ones…,” so they entered and all took Communion together in unity of heart and mind. In commemoration this hymn was composed, based on words the angels had sung to them:
Draw nigh and take the body of the Lord;
And drink the holy blood for you outpoured.
By that pure Body and that Holy Blood,
Saved and refreshed, we render thanks to God.
Salvation’s Giver, Christ the Holy Son,
By his dear Cross and Blood the world hath won.
Offered was he for greatest and for least,
Himself the Off’ring, and Himself the Priest.
He, Lord of Light, and Savior of our race,
Hath given to his saints a wondrous grace.
Approach ye, then, with faithful hearts sincere,
And take the safeguard of salvation here.
He, that his saints in this world rules and shields,
To all believers life eternal yields.
He feeds the hungry with the Bread of Heaven,
And living streams to those who thirst are given.
Alpha and Omega, this Christ the Lord,
Hath come now to be received within.
O Lord of all, our blesséd Savior thou,
In this thy feast of love be with us now.
As each one receives Communion the priest says to them:
The Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ keep thee unto life eternal.
The purpose of Communion is to strengthen and empower us to “lay hold” on eternal life (I Timothy 6:12, 19), so the priest prays that Communion will keep us steadily in that sacred path, that we shall follow it unto its end in God.
When all have received Communion they remain as still as they can, experiencing the wondrous union that has been effected in them. Here are what four great saints have said about this:
“Participation in the Body and Blood of Christ produces in us none other effect than to make us pass into that which we receive” (Saint Leo the Great).
“[Christ says to us:] I am the food of the strong; have faith and eat Me. But thou wilt not change Me into thyself; it is thou who will be transformed into Me” (Saint Augustine).
“He who assimilates corporal food transforms it into himself; this change repairs the losses of the organism and gives it necessary increase. But the eucharistic food, instead of being transformed into the one who takes it, transforms him into itself. It follows that the proper effect of the Sacrament is to transform us so much into Christ, that we can truly say: ‘I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me’ [Galatians 2:20].…The efficacy of this Sacrament is to work a certain transformation of ourselves into Christ by the process of love…[and] the property of love is to transform the one who loves into the object of his love” (Saint Thomas Aquinas).
“Your meditations may be as profound, as exalted, as devout as you like, you may practice every pious exercise you can manage, but all this is as nothing in comparison with the Blessed Sacrament. What men do may be godly, but this Sacrament is God Himself. It is in this Sacrament that man is transformed by grace into God” (Saint Johannes Tauler).
In Communion we receive Christ God through the intermediary of Christ Jesus, whom we also receive, so perfect is the union of the two. And the ultimate purpose of this Communion is for us to eventually be exactly what Jesus is: Christ. For Christ is not just a person, infinite or finite, Christ is also a state of being and consciousness.
Under the veil
After the brief meditation the priest returns to the altar and exclaims:
Under the veil of earthly things now have we communion with our Lord Jesus Christ; soon with open face shall we behold him, and rejoicing in his glory, be made like unto him. Then shall his true disciples be brought by him with exceeding joy before the presence of his Father’s glory.
The Lord Jesus told his disciples: “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2, 3). He also prayed: “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24). The concept of the Sukhavati–the Pure Land where great Masters, Buddhas and Bodhisattwas dwell with their devotees to guide them on to the supreme enlightenment–is a most ancient one. And Jesus in these verses affirms the truth of it. his true disciples shall be brought into the presence of the Divine Glory and abide within It forever.
The people respond in the very words Saint John the Apostle heard spoken before the throne of God in the highest heaven (Revelation 7:12):
Amen. Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.
For they are standing before “the great white throne” as surely as any saint or angel has stood there before them.
And since we all join in praise with those assembled before the Throne, an analysis of the words we say will help us to do so with right understanding and right intention. It is good to know what we are offering unto God and not just saying “good words.”
Since Saint John wrote his Gospel, epistles and Revelation in Greek (and excellent Greek at that) so it will not be hard to list the meanings.
Eulogia means blessing and eulogy in the sense of praise and glorification. It implies an intelligent and truthful speech, not mere emotion and flattery. No one can really give praise (blessing) unto God who has not had some experience of God including insight into God–even if it is only his unknowability.
The second half of the word is a form of logos: both word, speech and concept. this, too, implies insight into the one being praised, because logos includes reason, the mental faculty of thinking, pondering (which implies perception), and reasoning in the sense of coming to a conclusion about the object of the speaking. Logos is intelligent exposition of its object, even a revelation.
Doxa means glory, glorious, honor (in the sense of homage), praise and worship. Interestingly, it has a connotation of an opinion, either favorable or unfavorable, so in this instance it would be having the highest estimation of something (God). Another aspect of doxa is splendor, brightness (as of the moon, sun and stars), magnificence, excellence, preeminence, dignity, grace and majesty. All these are both attributes of God and powers of God. Doxa is also a most glorious condition, a most exalted state.
Orthodoxy is not at all conformity to a defined religious opinion or belief, but rather is “right glorification,” the right worship of God. The Christian East uses the term “Orthodox” to indicate that true religion is a profound spiritual response to God and not mere aquiescence to a set of theological beliefs or definitions. For this reason the Eastern churches refer to the (Nicene) Creed as the symbol of faith–not faith itself which is a purely interior, mystical matter, as is religion itself, which is true Orthodoxy: Right Glory.
Sophia means wisdom with the implication that the wisdom is broad–knowledge of very diverse matters– and full of intelligence; not mere memorization of facts. Sophia is acute knowledge and understanding of things human and divine. And this knowledge and understanding qualifies and empowers those who possess them to be teachers and guides of others who seek the same. Also implied is knowledge and understanding obtained by personal experience as well as formal study. Sophia is science in the fullest and highest sense, embracing ordinary science but overreaching it to a vast degree. It embraces both earth and heaven, exoteric and esoteric. Therefore, outside religion, mysticism and self-cultivation Sophia cannot exist. Yet, Sophia is thoroughly practical, never merely theoretical. Such Wisdom can and must be lived and demonstrated in every moment of the life of those who possess it. The idea that a spiritual person will be unworldly, impractical and half daft is a profound error. Sophia is the supreme intelligence common to both God and man.
Eucharistia is thanksgiving (giving of thanks), thankfulness and thanks itself. It implies appreciation, gratitude and keen awareness of that which deserves thanks. Interestingly it has a side meaning of being pleasing, agreeable and acceptable to others, winning, generous, and beneficent. It also can mean to be well off, prosperous and of right action.
Time (pronounced tee-may) means honor, ascribing of highest value, considering something to be precious, as well as deference and reverence. It also means rendering that which is due, to pay a debt or obligation.
The entire Mass is the answer to the question: “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord” (Psalm 116:12, 13). As pointed out earlier in this chapter, Mass is a form of Missah, a Hebrew word meaning a form of religious taxation “the just/right thing.” The Mass is the highest form of external honor rendered by us to God.
Dunamis, the word from which we get dynamic and even dynamite, means power, mighty work/accomplishment, ability and strength. Interestingly, it has an implication of being an inherent power, power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature, or which a person or thing exerts and puts forth. It is both external and internal, including moral power and excellence of soul. It is the potential ability to do something outward or inward, to be capable, strong and powerful
Ischus means force, strength, power, might, and ability. It also means to have complete mastery of something, including complete and permanent possession of it. It has an interior meaning as well: self-possession or self-mastery. It is very much the capacity of finding, knowing and giving ourselves. As the priest says in the offering of the bread and wine: “Here we offer and present unto Thee ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a holy and continual sacrifice unto Thee. May our strength be spent in Thy service, and our love poured forth upon Thy people.”
Ischus is the power by which we offer ourselves to God as the ultimate sacrifice or gift, which according to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras is Ishwarapranidhana–offering of the life to God (Ishwara)–the means of attaining superconsciousness.
It is fidelity to some thing or someone, the loyalty or devotion which enables a person to become one with its object–union with God.
All this we offer “unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.”
The final prayer
The priest says the final prayer of the Mass:
Let us pray. We who have been refreshed with thy heavenly gifts do pray thee, O Lord, that thy grace may be so grafted inwardly in our hearts that it may continually be made manifest in our lives. Through Christ our Lord. R: Amen.
“Faith without works is dead” (James 2:20, 26), and so is Communion unless its effect “may be so grafted inwardly in our hearts that it may continually be made manifest in our lives.”
Priest: The Lord be with you.
People: And with thy spirit.
He then sings a phrase in Latin: Ite Missa est.
This is usually incorrectly translated: “Go, the Mass is ended.” Actually it is an idiomatic phrase that has no English equivalent. It means that the Missah–the Right Tribute–is completed or has been accomplished. The result of divine and human action has produced many things, all of which go to make up the Missah. Now is completed the Mystery of Immanuel: God With Us. And so we all respond:
“Thanks be to God”–for even our actions have originated in and been carried out through our divine nature. For has not God said to us: “Ye are gods” (Psalms 82:6; John 10:34)? And his word shall not return to him void (Isaiah 55:11).
There is much more to this interchange, though. Throughout the Mass we have been progressively ascending within the planes of inner consciousness, but now the priest has dismissed us by saying: “Ite Missa est.” From that moment we begin gradually descending to the consciousness that is centered in this plane of our usual evolution.
Therefore the priest blesses us to carry the benefits of the Mass back with us to remain within our lives to bless a starving and thirsting world, saying:
The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord:
And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, ✠ and the Holy Spirit, be amongst you, and remain with you always.
Knowledge and love–these are the two foundations of enlightenment in God through Jesus Christ the Lord. And for this the continual blessing of the triune God must be among and within us always. So we ourselves set the seal by answering: Amen.
May it be so!
Next in Yoga of the Sacraments: Confession and Absolution: the Yoga of Spiritual Healing