My previous answers generated a number of additional questions from Carrie. Isn’t that the way of things? Let me see if I can manage an answer to them. This time I’ll just quote, rather than paraphrasing the questions.
>1. Other than praying in Hebrew, what do you mean by "Jewish and Kabbalistic elements" that you have added to the liturgy?
The training liturgy, rubrics, vestments and accoutrements of the Home Temple include the following:
1. The chalice and paten we use initially are the cup and plate used in a Jewish seder.
2. The stole worn is the Jewish prayer shawl, or tallit.
3. A seven-branched menorah is used on the altar. In addition to the seven candlesticks representing the seven spirits of God, the menorah rests on three bases which are taken as representing the three kabalistic worlds.
4. As mentioned, many of the regular prayers of the Mass are done in Hebrew. For example, “Holy, Holy, Holy” becomes “Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh”.
5. In addition, several traditional Jewish prayers are encorporated, for example, the “Shema Israel” (“Hear, oh Israel”)
6. An emphasis is placed on the musical tones and specific sounds intoned, as these are believed to be important resonators of the power of the ritual.
7. A number of prayers are added and wording adapted to a more mystical understanding of the Mass as a union of our hearts with the heart of God and Christ.
8. Several traditional gestures and postures (such as the “nacham” – crossing the hands over the chest) are added.
These elements are part, as I said, of the training Liturgy. After being ordained, priests are given a great deal of independence and allowed to use whatever liturgy, vestments and Mass accoutrements they wish. They are perfectly free, for example, to use the full traditional Latin Rite regalia and say the Tridentine Latin Mass.
There are several purposes to having these elements in the training Mass which improve the quality of whichever liturgy is eventually used. First of all, Jesus was (if you’ll pardon me stating the obvious) Jewish. Understanding his spiritual traditions is critical to understanding what Jesus taught. The early Jewish Merkabah mysticism, with which Jesus was very likely involved, is the spiritual ancestor to the Kaballah, and many of the concepts were passed down to it.
Secondly, the training Liturgy teaches (would that the Liturgical reformers in the RC understood this) that Liturgy operates through symbols of spiritual power. Sounds, smells, gestures and movements all convey spiritual meanings above the understanding of the conscious mind. Introducing too much mental noise and discursion –such as lengthy sermons – into liturgy only disrupts the spiritual flow. Even having too much vernacular language encourages mental, rather than spiritual participation. The purpose of Liturgy is primarily to nourish the spirit, not the mind. The Home Temple training liturgy teaches this to the student.
>2. Is Martinism, and the Home Temple Movement in particular, a Jewish Movement?
I understand that you are anxious for information on Martinism. Unfortunately I have little to give. I am not myself involved in Martinism. Bishop Kiezer, – who is a virtual walking encyclopedia regarding the western mystery traditions, schools and orders – has, I believe, gone through at least some of the Martinist degrees, as well as those of most of the other initiatic schools. He has synthesized his information into an initiatic school in which Home Temple students are encouraged (but not required) to participate – the Temple of the Holy Grail (or T.H.G.) I have received the initiation and several of the first “empowerments” of this order, but am not qualified to tell you which concepts were derived from which initiatic schools or which elements (if any) are particularly Martinistic. Bishop Kiezer does offer an online class in the Western Mystery Tradition which probably covers Martinism at least in broad outline, and I intend on eventually taking the class when time and finances permit. It is available at www.wisdomseminars.org
I would guess that the reason many of the initiatic orders have an interest in Judiasm is that the earlier Merkabah and later Kabalistic mysticism of Judiasm was borrowed upon heavily by western and Christian mystics from shortly after the time of Jesus. Jesus himself was very likely acquainted with these concepts. Jewish mysticism was incorporated into both Jewish and Christian Gnosticism, and later by most other western mystery schools.
The Home Temple priesthood training puts a lot of emphasis on Jewish language and thought – because this is the only way to hope to recover the full meanings of many of Jesus' teachings.
>3. Do you have a congregation, or do you perform liturgy for just your own family?
I am recently ordained, so until now I have only performed the liturgy for family and close friends. We will probably start to branch out to a slightly larger group now. If the home church arrangement becomes too cramped we can rent some space – but I don’t expect we’ll ever be a very large group except perhaps for special events.
>4. Since you don't embrace doctrine, how does the Movement develop a moral code, and how do you enforce it?
It’s hard to answer this one briefly, but I’ll try. First of all, on the level of the ordained priesthood, there IS a basic code of ethics which all priesthood students must agree to and sign, which can be found here: http://www.hometemple.org/Ethics.htm This very basic level of ethical conduct is primarily designed to keep the Home Temple free of legal difficulties and open scandal. Violations are investigated by a court of Bishops, and anyone found guilty of violating them will have their charter and ministerial credentials revoked and be removed from any association with the Home Temple. Evidence of any crimes will be turned over to authorities.
Part of the code of ethics is that priests are bound to not allow to go unchallenged the physical or emotional abuse or violation of people or other living things or the commission of crimes. Beyond a well-defined crime, however, one is left to one’s inner guidance regarding personal and social evils and one’s response to them.
The Home Temple encourages an evening contemplation of the day’s actions and deep meditation upon beneficial changes in behavior. Fundamentally, the whole point of a Gnostic or illuminated approach to spirituality is an inner transformation. An enlightened individual doesn’t need to be told not to abuse children or commit acts of violence. It is virtually impossible for the enlightened individual to behavior in any way but for the greater good of all. Anyone who requires a multi-volume encyclopedia of moral theology to know right from wrong probably won’t be attracted to the Home Temple.
>5. Since you don't wish to be under the jurisdiction of Rome, why are valid orders and valid succession important?
In the first place, valid orders aren’t simply an invention of Rome. They represent a powerful spiritual endowment from Jesus. Priesthood is a real power to effect real spiritual change which is transmitted at ordination. Sacraments are not simply symbols. They transmit actual spiritual grace and power. A comprehensive and valid lineage of priesthood is the assurance that this spiritual endowment is actually being transmitted.
In the second place, INVALID orders present obstacles to attempts by apostolic churches to cooperate, confederate or unify. While this goal is always illusive, it remains a fond hope of many.
>6. Do members of the Movement practice channeling and attempt to evoke spirits?
First of all, your question would only pertain to the Temple of the Holy Grail. The Home Temple priesthood does not require participation on the THG and instruction is confined to the strictly sacramental. However, since I’ve done some work with THG, I’ll answer from that perspective.
Channeling is taught to be dangerous and spiritually immature and destructive. I have not run into any practices I would describe as “evoking spirits”. Angels, Ascended Masters and such are INVOKED, or called upon for assistance, but not called up and commanded. There are operations with aquasters, elementals and similar things which would probably qualify as, at the minimum, theurgical if not magical.
>7. What should those of us on the outside looking in make of the fact that Eugene Vintras is in the Martinist line of succession, since Vintras has had some rather startling accusations lodged against him?
Well, I’m not aware of him being in our line of apostolic succession. Our primary lineages are found here:
Bishop Kiezer has an excellent .pdf book on the various lineages of the Independent movement (Wandering Bishops: Apostles of a New Spirituality) available free for download on this page (scroll down a ways)
I think you would actually find it quite helpful in your research. The book is quite frank about some of the problems with the movement as well as its successes.
But to answer the question in the generic – I would expect you to think about a disreputable Independent Bishop about the same way I think of a Borgia Pope – a flawed or even evil individual who could, nevertheless, occupy or transmit a valid office. If we hold that priesthood and the episcopate must be transmitted only by GOOD people, then we have a big problem. First of all, just HOW good? Can a murderer who still has orthodox beliefs transmit them? What about a kind charitable person who is also somewhat heretical? How is the person in the pew supposed to know if the priest officiating at their Mass, or baptism, or marriage is “good enough” and was ordained by a bishop who was “good enough” and that the chain of “good enough” people goes all the way back to Jesus unbroken by a scoundrel?
Logic, our knowledge of divine mercy, and western canons thus have laid out that a schismatic, excommunicated, heretical bishop can nonetheless transmit valid orders – and that the priest at your parish can still provide a valid sacrament, even if the priest is secretly a terrible sinner or closet heretic.
I fully understand that these answers probably raise yet more questions, which I'll be happy to attempt to answer if you can be patient with the pace.