Category: Blog

The “Four-faced God”

We read in the Holy Gospel of Mar Mani about the “the four-faced God.” For example: “Amen, Amen, Amen. Amen again, the four-faced God; glory and honour to the Amen, the Father of Greatness!” (34:6)

Manichaeans are strictly monotheistic, meaning that we worship only one God. There are many celestial beings in the heavens that are referred to as gods, but they are always lower in status than the Father of Greatness. When some of the older texts refer to the worship of these other gods, we understand this to mean that they are honoured, and not worshipped in the same manner which we worship Almighty God.
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Daily Gospel – 4 December 2020

Sections 13 – 15

Section 13. God, Supreme Father of the Light

1. He (Zurvan) is the Father of the Greatness, the Glorious One who is adored, for whose greatness there is no measure, who is the Only Self-existent, the Eternal One, who was before everything which has been and which shall be, the Root of all the Lights, the King in the wisdom of the incomparable Sweet Dew. His delicate and wonderful Radiance shines in and out and is aware of all things; He gathers and collects the embodiment of good deeds, and can make us equal to the many Saints.

2. His twelve Hours, His twelve Maidens who surround Him, the garland-laden Victories who give adoration to their King, their harps in their hands, the lutes in their palms, while they sing to the Hidden Father – the Messengers who have finished their course running in joy glorify You as they go to the Light for their garlands. There is no other First God at all, for all other true Gods are derived from His bosom and are but expressions of His qualities.

3. The fruits of the Good Tree begin with Jesus the great Dawn of Glory, the father of all the Messengers; its Reflection is the holy Church; its Intellect the Column of Glory, the Perfect Man; its Insight is the First Man, who dwells in the Ship of the Living Water; its Thought the Third Messenger, who dwells in the Ship of the Living Fire that shines in the Sun; while the Mind is the Father who dwells in the Greatness that is perfected in the Aeons of the Light.

4. See, the Four Days are these: God, the Light, the Power, and the Wisdom – God who is in the Aeons, and the Light that is over them, the Power which upholds the All, the holy Wisdom that is in the Church.

Section 14. The Holy Trinity

1. Glory and victory to the Father, the God of Truth, and His beloved Son, Christ, and the Holy Spirit the Advocate! Jesus the Tree of Life is the Father, the blessed Light-Mind is the Son, the Maiden of the Light, this sweet one is the Holy Spirit.

2. Pious love for the sign of the Father, knowledge of the Wisdom for the sign of the Son, the keeping of the Commandments for the sign of the Holy Spirit!

3. May we gain for ourselves love towards the Father, the faith that is in us towards the Son, the fear of our heart towards the Holy Spirit. The seal of the mouth for the Father’s sign, the calm of the hands for the sign of the Son, the purity of virginity for the Holy Spirit’s sign. So let us pray, my brothers and sisters, that we may find the Father, and fast daily that we may find the Son, and discipline our life that we may find the Holy Spirit.

4. Glory to our Lord Mani through the Father, honour to his Elect through the Son, blessing to his Hearers through the Holy Spirit.

Section 15. The Mother of Life

1. The Fount of every blessing and all the prayers is the Mother of Life, the First Holy Spirit, the First Mother who has come forth from the Father and first appeared, the Glorious One who is the beginning of all Emanations that have come to this world.

2. Know that the grains of the dust of the earth can be measured, with the whole universe, one can count the dust of the earth year after year and number the grains of sand of the whole world; but the length of time the Great Spirit passed in the Father, the First Standing [the very first Being], that one cannot count. He first formed her thus, He kept her in His inner Chamber in quiet and in silence; but when she was needed, then she was called and came forth from the Father of Greatness; she looked after all her Aeons of the Light.

Devotional: An Appeal to God for Help

“Being kindly and pitiful, the Good Father sent from His bosom His beloved Son into the heart of the earth and into its lowest parts for the saving of the Soul. Now while coming the Son changed himself into the form of a Man and appeared to men as a man, being no man, and men fancied him to have been born.” (GPM 1 sec. 10:2)

The extremity to which the Spark has now been reduced leads then to an appeal to God for help, and immediately that help descends – in a human form, but in reality a total Divinity without dilution with human nature.
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Zurvan Sends His Messengers

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From time to time Wisdom and Good Deeds have always been brought to mankind by Messengers of God; in age after age have Messengers been sent by Zurvan: Shitil, Zarathustra, the Buddha and the Christ. (Gospel of the Prophet Mani 3:1)

The Bema Festival

The Bema Festival (observed annually) is by far the holiest of all festivals among Manichaeans. Besides the Bema Festival, however, various observances (holy days) are not universal. In Christian or Judeo-Christian lands some Manichaeans might celebrate Christmas, Epiphany, Easter or Jewish holy days along with those of their own (Bema, various days of the Manichaean saints, etc).
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The Arzhang

The Arzhang or Ardahang, also known as the “Manichaean Picture Book” (sometimes referred to as “Mani’s Picture”), is a collection of artwork which depicts the various tenets of Manichaeism, adapted for various cultures. It is believed to have been lost centuries ago.

It has always been a Manichaean tradition to produce pictorial works for the purpose of teaching. In ancient times, as the books were passed on to missionaries in other lands, they were adapted for the needs of the local culture.
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The Term “Bema”

The term “bema” can refer to an altar, a throne, or a platform for delivering religious talks.

A bema used as an altar is a raised platform with various steps. Within the Manichaean Church the main altar often consists of four steps leading to the top of the platform. The top of the bema is viewed as the fifth step.

The term “Bema” is Syriac Aramaic and literally refers to a throne. Both Hearers and Elect gather around the Bema to hear to Word of the Great Father because it is from the Bema, which is the Throne of Light in each local assembly of the Manichaeans, that the Truth is elucidated, by which the People of Light who reside in the earth are illumined.
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What holidays do Manichaeans celebrate?

Manichaeans observe numerous days of celebration, memorials and commemorations. Some days help us remember certain saints, while others help us recall or keep in mind events that took place within the Religion of Light, either in recent years or in the distant past.

Some of holy days observed by Manichaeans include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Various Sabbaths throughout the year
  • Specific days for fasting
  • Birth, passing and resurrection of Jesus
  • Birth, passing and resurrection of Mar Mani
  • Commemoration of various Saints
  • Various seasons and equinoxes

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What does it mean that humans have free-will?

Free-will is the ability for each individual human to choose its own direction without being coerced by any angelic, godlike or celestial influence. In other words, a man or a woman has the ability to choose to do right or wrong, according to the dictates of their own mind. Manichaeans believe that there are consequences to one’s choices and if one chooses the wrong path and commits sinful acts, then one must pay for those actions.

Manichaeans understand “free-will” to be a gift from God to humanity. What this means is that when humanity was first created, it did not have much of a choice in anything. God was compassionate and through the Living Spirit, He granted humanity the gift of free-will. This way, humanity could not be controlled entirely by demoniac force. But at the same time, God Himself would not interfere with the choices humanity makes. God allows a man or woman to make their own choices, even if those choices are wrong.
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What is the Manichaean view of abortion?

According to our faith, the act of aborting a child is forbidden. One of our sacred texts says, “You shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill a child that has been born.” This passage obviously condemns abortion, but it also identifies the fetus as a child.

One of our religious leaders has warned us saying: “If you vote for a political party that condones the practice of abortion, then the blood of the innocent is on your hands.”

Certain political parties in the world have as part of their agenda, the sponsorship of abortion clinics, the passing of laws to give women rights to murder the fetus, etc. Thus, voting for such parties brings judgment against a person.
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