Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Father Gratillonius

In Gallicenae (London, 1988) by Poul and Karen Anderson, Gratillonius as Roman prefect in Ys must arrange for the appointment of a Christian minister to the city. As King of Ys, he must participate in rites where he is regarded as the Incarnation of one of the Gods of the city.

His religious position becomes even more complicated when, on an excursion outside of Ys and of necessity concealing his activities from the Roman authorities, he is consecrated as a Father in the Mystery of Mithras.

First, as a Runner of the Sun, he "...concelebrated the Mystery..." (p. 96)

Then, when consecrated, "...for the first time he...lifted the chalice...and drank the blessed wine..." (p. 96)

A Catholic priest, addressed as "Father," does precisely that. And, early in the Catholic liturgy, comes the phrase, "To prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries..."

I cannot avoid the perception that this is a single religious tradition changing its forms, including even the name and identity of its deity.

The forms are wider than Mythraic/Christian. As a Teaching student, I visited a Gurdwara and two Synagogues. Of the latter, one had stained glass windows with Biblical scenes including human figures whereas the other had stained glass without images. A Jewish man, not a Rabbi, said that a Christian or a Muslim attending a Synagogue service would not hear anything to disagree with but would be dissatisfied, "No reference to Jesus, no reading from the Koran." A fellow student and I afterwards agreed that this guy had a good grasp of the essence of each religion. Also, when describing how the Rabbi holds up the Torah scroll to be seen by the congregation, he commented, "Shades of the elevation of the Host..."

So rituals influence each other, Mithraic, Christian and Jewish.

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