I was born into the Roman Catholic Church and was educated in parochial schools, taught by nuns, and as a child I applied myself to my catechism classes. I considered myself a devout follower. The story seemed simple enough. We were born in sin and Jeshua came to redeem us from our sins by dying on the cross and rising from the dead. He did this to demonstrate his victory over death as he was the son of God and had this power.
The Catholic Church’s Teachings.
Jeshua built his church upon Saint Peter, The Rock. Saint Peter, being the first Pope, passed this authority through a succession of Popes. The Pope through the doctrine of ex-cathedra could never make a mistake when he spoke with regards to the dogma of the faith, and we as followers had to believe his words as they were truth.
The church through this authority would stand between us and our God because the church was the only source that could understand and interpret what our God required of us. All we had to do was to follow the rules and regulations and believe what we were told.
As I got a little older things changed for me. I had become aware of a reference mentioned in the Bible that Jeshua had brothers and sistersI had asked a priest in our catechism class for clarification about this reference as we were taught that Mary had only one child, and the priest explained that we were all considered Jeshua’s brothers and sisters.
I had understood what I had read and I realized that he was not actually being forthright with me. To me truth is important; therefore I started reading scriptures from a questioning point of view. This was the beginning of my journey to understand the real Jeshua and the legacy that he had left us.
Who Touched Me?.
I then read something that made a big change in my life. This is the story of Jeshua healing the hemorrhaging woman. It seems there was a large crowd following Jeshua as he was on his way to heal someone who was dying. It seems he was being jostled by the crowd as they pressed in around them. Jeshua’s followers were intent on seeing a miracle.
Suddenly Jeshua said, “Who touched me?” When all denied it, Peter and those with him said, ”Master, the multitudes present jostle you and you say, “Who touched me?” Jesus said, “Someone did touch me, for I perceive that power has gone out of me.”
The passage describes this event by stating: When the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him claiming to him in the presence of all the people the reason why she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately.
I tried to understand the sequence of this event and felt there was something missing. There were many people surrounding Jeshua and there was no reason for this woman to come forth unless someone had asked her if she were healed.
This event stuck in my mind for a long time until much later I felt I had understood what had transpired. It was easy for people to overlook the implication of the observation that Jeshua had mentioned as the power leaving him since we had been taught that Jeshua was God: different from us, and we were not able to heal as he healed others.
It became obvious to me that Jeshua had asked the apostles who accompanied him a meaningful question. They didn't require an explanation of his question, but rather moved to find the individual that had been healed.
These apostles understood what Jeshua meant: one could accumulate power for healing. I learned later that one of the tools that can be used for healing is to accumulate energy in the solar plexus through the breath along with intent. There are other requirements also which we will discuss later.
Since Jeshua was on his way to heal someone who was dying, he was already accumulating the power in his solar plexus and wanted to understand why this power left him before he triggered its release.
As mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, they also demonstrated healing, and I believe we can assume that Jeshua taught them how to heal others also. Therefore, when Jeshua indicated that the power had left him, the apostles did not need to ask questions about his statement as they knew exactly what to do. They walked among the crowd and asked who had been healed and brought the woman to Jeshua’s attention.
This had a profound effect upon me as I sensed that parts of these stories from the Bible had been tampered with. As a Catholic I was very familiar with the Nicene Creed as it was repeated at every mass. I was taught that this represented beliefs that Catholics were required to accept. I would repeat this prayer without the understanding of the history behind its origin.
Emperor Constantine 1.
In the Grail Enigma, Lawrence Gardner discusses Constantine's background, “It is understandable that he adopted Christianity as the state religion of Rome as he was born in Britain and raised by a Christian mother (St. Helena), whose religion was perfectly natural to him as against the pagan environment that he encountered in Rome. Constantine was fully conversant with Christianity when he became Emperor. What he discovered, however, was that it was a widespread and very diverse form of religion. Britain and Gaul might have been the earliest seats of the faith in Western terms, but other branches had evolved over 300 years in places such as Syria, Egypt, Greece, Mesopotamia and Turkey. Their belief structures were all different to greater or lesser degrees, and the regional church fathers and bishops were severely at odds with each other in many respects.”
He also states, “It is simple to criticize Constantine for what might be perceived today as corrupting the Christian faith when formulating his Catholic Church, but in reality his attempt appears to have been quite the opposite. What he saw was a highly competitive religion which had fiercely opposing groups within its geographically spread ranks - all operating within the Empire that he was supposed to control. Christianity had already become severely corrupted to the point that it was far from recognizable as a cohesive whole. The best that Constantine could hope to achieve was a series of compromise doctrines based on mutual discussion and a system of gaining majority votes at each stage. To this end, he settled on the idea of debating forums to which delegates would be invited and, following initial synods in Rome and Arles, he began this strategy with the first Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325.”
The Encyclopaedia tells us that, “The First Council of Nicaea was a Council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea by the Roman Emperor Constantine 1 in A.D. 325. The Council was the first effort to attain consensus in the church through an assembly representing all of Christendom.
“One purpose of the Council was to resolve disagreements arising from within the church of Alexandria over the nature of Jeshua in relationship to God the father; in particular, whether Jeshua was the literal son of God or was he a figurative son, like the other ”sons of God” in the Bible. St. Alexander of Alexandria and Athanasius are claimed to have taken the first position; Arius, from whom the term Arianism comes, is said to have taken the second: the Council decided against the Arians.
“The Emperor carried out a statement made earlier: everybody who refused to endorse the Creed would be exiled. Those who refused to adhere to the Creed were exiled to Illyria, in addition to being excommunicated. The works of Arius were ordered to be confiscated and consigned to the flames while all persons found possessing them were to be executed. Nevertheless, the controversy continued in various parts of the Empire.”
After Constantine's death, Arianism began to flourish again with Constantine's son Emperor Constantius II, who displayed an open sympathy for its more lucid explanations of the faith but the matter would not rest and, in A.D. 381, the succeeding Emperor Theodosius sought a more permanent end to the debate at a second ecumenical Council of Constantinople. In the interim, the Arian view had been consolidated to teach that the son, (Jeshua) had been created by God and that the Holy Spirit had passed from the father to the son. This concept was in no way conducive to the Emperor's own presumed right as the Imperial godhead, so it had to be crushed and removed from the reckoning as a separate entity from God. Consequently, it was decreed that the Nicene doctrine of the Trinity must be upheld by all: God was the father, God was the son and God was the Holy Spirit. There was to be no more argument.
The Destruction of a Great Library .
The greatest single repository of Aryan text, and indeed of all ancient and contemporary documents that were anathema to the imperial regime, was deemed to be the Serepaeum library in Alexandria. Thus it was that 10 years later, in A.D. 391, Emperor Theodosius instructed Bishop Theophilus to raise the library to the ground and to destroy it altogether.
The city of Alexandria, founded by Alexander the great in 331 BC, was the most important cultural center in the ancient world. It was an academic focus for the greatest scholars, scientists, doctors, mathematicians and philosophers, who travelled from far and wide to study the largest collection of arcane documents ever amassed in one area. Close to the harbour, the majestic library building, with its marble steps, columned halls and magnificent gardens housed many hundreds of thousands of papyrus and parchment texts, together with fine statues, tapestries and other works of art. The library attracted Egyptians, Macedonians, Greeks, Anatolians and, Italians, Arabians, Persians, Indians and Jews. But the archive was anathema to the newly devised teaching of the church.
Once inside, Bishop Theophilus and his angry mob smashed everything to pieces and set the texts ablaze - more than half a million irreplaceable documents representing the finest minds in the ancient world. In that one day vast wisdom of the ages was lost for all time, leaving the Church free to make up its own history, to interpret its own science and to establish its own philosophy.” (Gardner does not identify who the mob was, but I read the Library of Alexandria article listed in Wikipedia that the mob was comprised of Roman soldiers. This assertion makes sense to me as it would require those in authority to cause such massive destruction.).
From Followers of Christ to the Roman Catholic Church.
I asked a priest once how our faith got the name of Roman Catholic when Rome was the one who had persecuted us. He thought for a second and then told me that he didn't know the answer.
In truth, the early Christians were considered an offshoot of Judaism and the apostles went their different ways teaching the good news. These countries, because they were from different cultures, languages, and understandings from their current religious practices, were not all in agreement with one another as to what Christianity represented to them.
It wasn't until the Council of Nicaea A.D. 325 that Emperor Constantine made this fledgling faith the religion of the Roman Empire and he proclaimed himself the head of that religion. The Roman Emperors played that role until the fall of the Roman Empire. The word Catholic means universal and so this faith had become the Roman Catholic Church and the name exists to this day.
Next Month – Going Within - part three.