Category: Blog

What is Alms-giving?

Alms-giving is an ancient practice of the Church where Hearers bring food offerings to the Elect Intercessors for propitiation of sins and other violations of the Precepts or Teachings.

Is Alms-giving the same as tithing?
No, Alms-giving and tithing are two completely different practices. Manichaeans offer ten percent of their income to the Church for purposes such as missionary work, various costs of Church business travelling, etc. Tithes can also be paid in the form of labour in behalf of the Church.

Alms-giving on the other hand, is specifically a form of food offering, or sacrifice with food items that contain no type of animal products. If one is unable to offer fruits, vegetables, grains or breads, the Hearer can provide funds so that food may be purchased. The food is then presented to the Monks at a sacrificial table where it is consumed.
Continue reading “What is Alms-giving?”

What are the Twelve Virtues?

In the Manichaean faith one often hears of the “Twelve Virtues.” These Virtues are listed below. Our religious leaders have encouraged us to seek to perfect ourselves and the soul by practising the Virtues because it is believed that liberation is achieved through the worship of the One God, acceptance of His Divine Messenger, and cultivation of the Twelve Virtues and Holy Commandments. The cultivation of the Twelve Virtues will draw us closer to God.

  • Great Royalty
  • Wisdom
  • Victory
  • Contentment
  • Purity
  • Truth
  • Faith
  • Patience
  • Sincerity
  • Virtue
  • Justice
  • Light

What is a manistan?

The term “manistan” designates a monastery, or convent. Most manistans are cloistered, which allows for plenty of time for prayer and meditation.

The manistan is also a place of worship for its residents and those who are invited on occasion, but it is generally not open to the public.

Do your churches use crosses and crucifixes?

Manichaeans in all cultures have used some form of a cross. In fact, all communities of the Religion of Light throughout the ages have used the cross as a symbol of life. It is one of the most important symbols in the Manichaean Faith as it not only represents all of life, but also the hope of deliverance from the darkness for humanity.

In the Manichaean faith there are two different crosses: 1) Cross of Light and Life which symbolises life being trapped in matter; 2) the crucifix
Continue reading “Do your churches use crosses and crucifixes?”

Babylon

Babylon is the rendering of Akkadian Babilum (Babilim), the city that for centuries served as capital of the ‘land of Babylon’ (Jer. 50.28). Cuneiform sources interpret its name as bab-ilim, “gate of the deity.” The Bible rejected this popular etymology in favor of a more scurrilous one that linked the name to the confusion of tongues (Gen. 11.9, Hebr. balal, “[God] confused”), and so the city is called Babel…

Under Persian rule, Babylon continued to flourish as the seat of one of the most important satrapies of the Persian empire (cf. Ezra 7.16; Dan. 2.49; etc.), and the Achaemenid Artaxerxes I could still be called “king of Babylon” (Neh. 13.6)

Oxford Companion to the Bible, “Babylon”, William W. Hallo, 1993, Oxford University Press, Inc.
Continue reading “Babylon”

What does the word “Arkhegos” mean?

The term “Arkhegos” is a Greek word indicating “chief leader.” Duncan Greenlees, in his presentation of the Gospel of the Prophet Mani defines the term “arkhegos” as meaning “Leader”, “High Prelate” and compares it to the Arabic term “imam” and the Chinese term “fatchou”, the “King of Religion.”

“His diocese was the world from Spain to China, where the Faith had penetrated; his work was to encourage amid persecution, to prevent corruption of the Teaching, to guard against falling away from the Founder’s lofty ideal of life. The first seven Leaders died as martyrs, and then some fixed place where the supreme authority could be found was needed, so their successors cam to reside at the capital Ctesiphon, and then at Baghdad – until they were forced by prudence to withdraw to the safer Samarqand, and finally, so it seems, to the Chinese borderlands.” (Gospel of the Prophet Mani, Duncan Greenlees, 1956, the Book Tree, San Diego, CA)

In its original Manichaean usage, it referred to the earthly head of the Manichaean Church appointed by Mar Mani as his successor. During the time of Mar Ammo, there were two such persons using this title, one in Babylon and the other in Turkistan due to geographical divide and persecution of the Church.

Who is Ahriman?

Ahriman (Syriac: ܡܠܟ ܚܫܘܟܐ melech kheshokha: king of darkness) is the name of an entity also called “evil.”

Ahriman is a conscious entity, not simply a concept, but a sentient and malevolent force opposed to the will of God. Another name or term that Manichaeans often use to reference the evil one is the King of Darkness.

Manichaeism teaches that the reason we grow old, get sick and die is because the physical shells we inhabit were designs of Ahriman and not because of God.
Continue reading “Who is Ahriman?”

What is Alms-giving?

Alms-giving is the practice where Hearers provide food offerings to the Elect/Monks as an act of sacrifice and petitioning for intercession. Regular alms-giving is part of the Manichaean religion as mandated by Mar Mani himself.

Alms-giving is viewed as a divinely mandated responsibility for all those who adhere to the Religion. Alms-giving is traditionally practiced once each week and on high holy days. Alms-giving is different than the giving of tithes. The latter is giving ten percents of one’s income to the work of the Church, divided among the local congregation or mission. Alms is related to food offerings while tithes are related to monetary offerings. When one has no tithes to give, in some situations, a person’s time in divine service is accepted as such. If one is unable to provide actual food offerings to the Monks, then monetary offerings can be made in place of the food. A representative for the Monks then purchases food on the Hearer’s behalf.

On rarely hears Manichaean clergy asking congregations or study groups for donations. We already know it is our divine responsibility. We do not ask for gifts or alms from those who are not Manichaeans, but we appreciate any thing others may wish to provide.

When we offer alms upon the Bema, we are seeking intercession for ourselves and for the world. Hearers present their food offerings to the Elect. The Elect in turn recite special prayers and chants over the offerings, consume a portion of it and the act of forgiveness of sin, the renewal of the spirit and the blessing of the hands is accomplished.

Abba d’Rabbuta – the Father of Greatness

“Abba d’Rabbuta” (ܐܒܐ ܕܪܒܘܬܐ) is the Syriac (Aramaic) term literally meaning “Father of Greatness.” This is a divine title rather than a name specifically in reference to Almighty God. The Father of Greatness is referred to as Zurvan, equivalent to the Hebrew “Yahweh” and Aramaic “Mar-Yah”).

The word “Abba” means “Father”, while the term “d’Rabbuta” means “of Greatness.” The English title “Father of Greatness” is sometimes written as “Great Father.”
Continue reading “Abba d’Rabbuta – the Father of Greatness”