Sacred Mysteries


Sacred Mysteries

The term sacred mysteries generally denotes the area of supernatural phenomena associated with a divinity or a religious ideology.

Pre-Christian religious mysteries

Religious mysteries formed an important part of the worship of a number of pre-Christian religions, including the Eleusinian Mysteries, Mithraism, the Cult of Isis, and the Cult of Sol Invictus. Dedicated devotees of the religion would be inducted into the mysteries by receiving special instruction. Due to the secrecy surrounding this special instruction, very little is now known about what was included in the mysteries.

Mystery traditions were popular in ancient Greece and during the height of the Roman Empire, and may have influenced the introduction of sacred mysteries in Christianity.

Christian Mysteries

The term is used in Eastern Christianity to refer to what the Western Church currently calls Sacraments and Sacramentals. In the Early Church they were kept hidden from the pagans — the so-called "Disciplina arcani" — lest they become objects of ridicule. As the Age of Persecution ended, the secrecy was gradually relaxed. But the term continued to be used. Originally the term "Mystery" was used in both the East and the West, as shown from the "Mystagogical Homilies" of St. Cyril of Jerusalem and the work, "On the Mysteries" by St. Ambrose of Milan.

The terms "Sacrament" and "Sacramental" are terms, which the Western Church has carefully defined in Canon Law. Thus, for instance, the Council of Trent declared there to be "exactly" seven sacraments. The Eastern Churches, in contrast, have never defined the Mysteries in such precise terms. And, though the Western Church teaches that the consecrated bread and wine of the Eucharist are one Sacrament, the Divine Liturgy refers to the Eucharist as the "Mysteries", in the plural. Orthodox Christians have always received Holy Communion in both species (both the Body and the Blood), and even reserve both in the tabernacle.

The word "mysterion" (μυστήριον) is used 27 times in the New Testament. It denotes not so much the meaning of the modern English term "mystery", but rather something that is "mystical". In the biblical Greek, the term refers to "that which, being outside the unassisted natural apprehension, can be made known only by divine revelation." [Strong, James, "The New Strong's Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible" (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN, 2001, ISBN 0-7852-4539-1), p. 168.]

For the Eastern Orthodox, Christian life is centered in the Mystery of the Incarnation of Christ, the union of God and man. However, the redemption of man is not considered to have taken place only in the past, but continues to this day through theosis. ["The Sacramental Life: An Orthodox Christian Perspective", (St. John of Kronstadt Press, Liberty, TN, 1986), p. 6.] The Sacraments, or Sacred Mysteries are the most important means by which the faithful may obtain union with God, provided they are received with faith after appropriate preparation. Orthodox Christians believe that God is present everywhere and fills all things by his Divine grace, and that all of creation is, in some sense, a "sacrament." However, they believe that "He is more specifically and intensively present in [those] particular and reliable manners which He Himself has established," [Ibid, p. 7.] i.e., in the Sacred Mysteries.

Though Orthodox instructional materials may list seven Sacred Mysteries (Baptism, Chrismation, Confession, Holy Communion, Marriage, Ordination, and Unction), it must be understood that the term is not limited to these seven. The Sacred Mysteries can be defined as "those holy acts through which the Holy Spirit mysteriously and invisibly confers Grace (the saving power of God) upon man." [Archpriest Seraphim Slobodskoy, "The Law of God" (Printshop of St. Job of Pochaev, Jordanville, NY, 1996, ISBN 0-88465-044-8), p. 471.]

References

ee also

* Mystagogue
* Mystery cult
* Sacrament

External links

* [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05032a.htm Discipline of the Secret] article in Catholic Encyclopedia
* [http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3405.htm On the Mysteries] by St. Ambrose of Milan
* [http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/310119.htm Mystagogical Lectures] St. Cyril of Jerusalem
*CathEncy|wstitle=Mystery


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Sacred mysteries — The term sacred mysteries generally denotes the area of supernatural phenomena associated with a divinity or a religious ideology. Contents 1 Pre Christian religious mysteries 2 Christian Mysteries 3 See also …   Wikipedia

  • Sacred — ground redirects here. For the Star Trek: Voyager episode, see Sacred Ground (Star Trek: Voyager). Sanctity redirects here. For other uses, see Sanctity (disambiguation). Holy redirects here. For other uses, see Holy (disambiguation). For other… …   Wikipedia

  • Mysteries — may refer to: Sacred mysteries in ancient esoteric religions Mysteries (album), a 1975 jazz album Mysteries (novel), an 1892 psychological novel The Mysteries, a 1977 English play cycle See also Mystery (disambiguation) …   Wikipedia

  • Sacred geometry — is geometry used in the design of sacred architecture and sacred art. The basic belief is that geometry and mathematical ratios, harmonics and proportion are also found in music, light, cosmology. This value system is seen as widespread even in… …   Wikipedia

  • MYSTERIES —    sacred rites and ceremonies of stated observance among the Greeks and Romans in connection with the worship of particular divinities, to which only the initiated were admitted, and in which, by associating together, they quickened and… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Sacred Heart — For other uses, see Sacred Heart (disambiguation). The Sacred Heart by Pompeo Batoni, at the Church of the Gesu, Rome, 1740 The Sacred Heart (also known as Most Sacred Heart of Jesus) is one of the most famous religious devotions to Jesus… …   Wikipedia

  • Sacred Sites —    Marking out particular places from a small cave containing rock art to an entire landscape as being special in some way is a consistent aspect of shamanisms. Small scale sites such as watering holes, rivers, waterfalls, individual trees, and… …   Historical dictionary of shamanism

  • Miracle Plays and Mysteries — • These two names are used to designate the religious drama which developed among Christian nations at the end of the Middle Ages Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Miracle Plays and Mysteries     Miracle Plays a …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Greco-Roman mysteries — See Western esotericism for modern mystery religions in the Western cultural sphere. Topics in Greek mythology Gods Primordial gods and Titans Zeus and the Olympians Pan and the nymphs Apollo and Dionysus Sea gods and Earth gods Heroes …   Wikipedia

  • Eleusinian Mysteries — Topics in Greek mythology Gods Primordial gods and Titans Zeus and the Olympians Pan and the nymphs Apollo and Dionysus Sea gods and Earth gods Heroes Heracles and his Labors Achilles and the Trojan War …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.