But among those searching for personal and social transformation, the unlikeliest seekers might have been a small community of Roman Catholic religious: the Immaculate Heart Sisters.
The Daughters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary was founded in Spain in 1848. Twenty-three years later, at the invitation of the bishop of California, 10 sisters came to the United States.
Initially, the nuns worked with the poor, but pivoted later to education. In 1886 they started teaching in Los Angeles. Over the next several years, they staffed Catholic schools, started a convent, and founded a high school and a school. The faculty, however, closed in 1981 because of financial problems. Among the high school’s most famous graduates is Meghan Markle, the fiancee of Prince Harry.
In 1924, the order separated from Spain. The women renamed themselves the California Institute of the Sisters of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The “new” order flourished: By the 1960s, it had 600 members, most of whom were teachers. And by 1967 almost 200 sisters worked in Los Angeles’ Catholic schools.
Meanwhile, change was stirring at the Vatican, the center of world Catholicism. In 1959, Pope John XXIII had invited Roman Catholic leaders to discuss the role of the Church in the modern world. From 1962 to 1965, this Second Vatican Council debated Catholicism’s future. Centuries had passed with little change in Church teaching, ritual, community life and worldview. But now the council would, in the words of the pope, “open the windows and let in the fresh air.”
Catholic leaders reviewed everything from interreligious dialogue to the role of the Church in the modern world. They even updated the traditional liturgy. The language changed from Latin to the vernacular, priests faced the people and popular music was welcomed into Mass.
The debate over Vatican II’s achievements continues today. At the time, many Catholics were excited by the innovations, but others preferred the Church as it was. They were not eager to see the council’s intentions put into practice.” Among these conservatives was James Francis Cardinal McIntyre of Los Angeles.
James Francis Cardinal Mcintyre, Archbishop of Los Angeles, U.S., left. Source: AP Photo/Mario Torrisi
Challenging the Church hierarchy
Following the recommendations of the Second Vatican Council, the Immaculate Heart Sisters decided to review and renew their religious life. In 1963, the sisters began a multi-year study of their spiritual practice, community structure and mission. They met regularly to talk and pray about the future of their order.
According to Anita Caspary, the order’s head at the time, the nuns were inspired by the Second Vatican Council; the spirit of the times (that is, the 1960s); and the growth of diverse populations that were roiling Southern California.
Sister Anita Caspary. AP Photo/David S. Smith
She later wrote that in this “historic moment of faith and freedom,” the community saw itself as “part of the women’s struggle for equal status in the mid-20th century.”
Many of the council’s directives did indeed reflect cultural shifts, such as reaching out to the modern, secular world, that had inspired the sisters. But the women also were inspired by trends closer to home. For example, Caspary and her community were intrigued by humanistic psychology, the psychological school that emphasized personal growth and fulfillment and which had a significant West Coast following.
Until the 1960s, the women had followed Church rules that governed their religious as well as personal lives. Now, rather than assume that they all needed to pray, study or meditate in the same way or at the same time, they encouraged individual experimentation. When they did worship together, they wanted the freedom to decide when, where and how to do so.
Likewise, the sisters sought relief from Church mandates that controlled their daily activities, ranging from what they wore and what time they went to bed to which books they were allowed to read.
On October 14, 1967, the sisters celebrated what they called Promulgation Day, the announcement of plans for their order’s renewal. A new vision for their lives and their work, the document, for example, said that sisters who taught in religious schools would be allowed to pursue teaching credentials and graduate degrees to professionalize their work. Those who did not feel the call to teach could find other careers.
Additionally, each sister could choose the length, time and type of her individual prayer, and group prayer would be shaped by the community. They no longer had to seek permission from the mother superior for the small decisions of daily life. They would be free to set their bedtimes, see a doctor or make a quick trip to the store.
Opposition to the sisters
Two days later, on Oct. 16, a delegation of six sisters sat in the office of Los Angeles’ Cardinal McIntyre. Furious with the sisters’ plans for renewal, he first asked concerning their apparel: Did they really mean to wear street clothing to their classrooms? Caspary said they might, and an upset McIntyre ended the meeting.
Even when the cardinal’s men persuaded him to keep the dialogue, he refused to accept the order’s plan for renewal. Instead, he berated their defiance and doubted their devotion to spiritual life. As of June 1968, he advised them they would no longer teach in the city’s Catholic schools.
Over the subsequent six months, both the sisters and the cardinal presented formal cases to emissaries from the Vatican. Each side also sought aid from Church colleagues and from the court of public opinion. Unfortunately, several papers played up the battle as though the whole fight hinged on whether the sisters wore their traditional habits or street clothing.
By spring, the message was obvious: The Vatican would support the cardinal. According to official pronouncements, the women’s experimentation went too far. They hadn’t, in other words, worked within the guidelines of the male hierarchy.
Rather than give up their vision for spiritual renewal, nevertheless, 350 of this order’s 400 sisters started planning a new lay community outside the Church.
By the beginning of 1970, a lot of the Immaculate Heart sisters had decided to renounce their vows and reorganize as a lay community. The brand new group, the Immaculate Heart Community, was open to laypeople and clergy, men as well as women.
In the intervening years, the majority of the innovations the sisters sought — such as professionalizing standards, experimentation with community worship and giving sisters control of their everyday activities — were embraced by Catholics across the country.
The Immaculate Heart Sisters drew on their time and place to make a new vision of religious community. Their sources ranged from the reforms of the Second Vatican Council to the writings of California’s humanist psychologists. They also included women’s liberation, the anti-war movement along with the countercultural wave which rolled outside their convent door.
The California dream and its promise of new possibilities was fundamental to the religious journey of the Immaculate Heart Sisters. It continues to inspire new generations of seekers in and out of the Church.
Sooner or later, time is up for everyone. It would be ridiculous to think that after such a life we will be able to somehow penetrate through the heavenly gates or deceive the archangel guarding them. It is worth accepting the inevitable: not booths and houris are waiting for us, but the gloomy landscape of hell. And in order not to get confused at the grave board, you should prepare for this in advance. Moreover, you can find a whole bunch of authoritative evidence on how to navigate in hellish terrain. The main thing is not to panic.
Where is it, the underworld? Some ancient peoples burned the deceased: this is a sure sign that the soul must ascend to its new abode in heaven. If he was buried in the ground, then she will go to the underworld.
If sent on the last journey by boat, it sails to the country across the sea, at the very edge of the Earth. The Slavs had a variety of opinions on this, but they all agreed on one thing: the souls of those people who are not kept near their former dwellings enter the afterlife, and they lead about the same existence there – they harvest, hunt …
Those who, due to a curse, or an unfulfilled promise, or something else, cannot leave their bodies, remain in our world – either settling into their former shells, then taking the form of animals, natural phenomena, or simply ghosts of failure. We can say that the afterlife of such souls is our own world, so this is not the worst option for a posthumous existence.
Everything will turn out much worse if you find yourself in the afterlife of the ancient Egyptians, where Osiris reigns. During his earthly incarnation, he was killed and dismembered by his own brother Set. This could not but affect the character of the lord of the dead.
Osiris looks repulsive: he looks like a mummy, clutching the signs of pharaoh’s power. Sitting on the throne, he presides over the court, which weighed the actions of the newly arrived souls. The god of life Horus brings them here. Hold on tightly to his hand: the hawk-headed Chorus is the son of the underground king, so it may well put in a good word for you.
The courtroom is huge – this is the entire firmament. According to the directions of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, a number of rules should be observed in it. List in detail the sins that you did not have time to commit during your lifetime. After that, you will be offered to leave a memory of yourself and help your relatives by depicting a court scene on a papyrus scroll.
If your artistic talent is at its best, you will spend the rest of eternity here, participating in the affairs of Osiris and his numerous divine relatives. The rest await a cruel execution: they are thrown to be devoured by Ammatu, a monster with the body of a hippo, paws and mane of a lion and a crocodile mouth.
However, the lucky ones may find themselves in his jaws: from time to time there are “cleansings”, in which the affairs of the wards souls are again reviewed. And if relatives have not provided the appropriate amulets, you will most likely be eaten by a ruthless monster.
It is even easier to get into the afterlife kingdom of the Greeks: you will be carried away by the god of death Thanatos himself, who brings here all the “fresh” souls. During big battles and battles, where he, apparently, cannot cope alone, Thanatos is helped by winged Kerrs, who carry the fallen to the kingdom of the eternally gloomy Hades.
In the far west, at the edge of the world, stretches a lifeless plain, in some places overgrown with willows and poplars with black bark. Behind it, at the bottom of the abyss, the muddy quagmire of Acheron opens. It merges with the black waters of the Styx, which encircles the world of the dead nine times and separates it from the world of the living. Even the gods are wary of breaking the oaths given by the name of Styx: these waters are sacred and ruthless. They flow into Cocytus, the river of weeping that gives rise to Lethe, the river of oblivion.
You can cross the river Styx in old man Charon’s boat. For his labor, he takes a small copper coin from each. If you have no money, you just have to wait for the end of time at the entrance. Charon’s boat crosses all nine streams and drops passengers into the abode of the dead.
Here you will be greeted by a huge three-headed dog Cerberus, safe for those entering, but ferocious and merciless to those who are trying to return to the sunny world. On a vast plain, under a chilling wind, wait quietly among other shadows for your turn. The uneven road leads to the palace of Hades himself, surrounded by the fiery stream of Phlegeton. The bridge over it rests against the gate, standing on diamond columns.
Behind the gates is a huge hall made of bronze, where Hades himself and his assistants, judges Minos, Eak and Radamant, are seated. By the way, all three were once people of flesh and blood, like you and me. They were just kings and ruled their nations so well that after their death Zeus made them judges over all the dead.
With a high probability, just judges will cast you even lower, into Tartarus – the kingdom of pain and groans, located deep under the palace. Here you will have to meet three old sisters, goddesses of vengeance, Erinnias, whom Hades put to watch over sinners.
Their appearance is terrible: blue lips from which poisonous saliva drips; black cloaks like the wings of bats. With balls of snakes in their hands, they rush through the dungeon, lighting their path with torches, and make sure that everyone fully drinks the cup of their punishment. Among the other “indigenous inhabitants” of Tartarus are Lamia, the stealing child, the three-headed Hecate, the demon of nightmares, the corpse-eater Eurynom.
Here you will also meet many mythical figures. Tyrant Ixion is forever chained to a wheel of fire. The chained giant Titius, who offended the tender Leto, is pecked by two vultures. The blasphemer Tantalus is immersed up to his throat in the freshest clear water, but as soon as he, tormented by thirst, bends down, it retreats from him. The Danaids who killed their husbands are forced to endlessly fill the leaky vessel. The quirky Sisyphus, who once deceived the spirit of death Thanatos, and the intractable Hades, and Zeus himself, rolls a stone up the mountain, which breaks down every time he approaches the top.
The images of Christian hell are largely inspired by the ancient Greeks. It is among Christians that the geography of hell has been studied in most detail. Getting there is a little more difficult. Already in the apocryphal books – those that were not included in the Holy Scriptures or were excluded from it later – different opinions were expressed about the location of hell.
Thus, the “Book of Enoch” places the devil himself in the eastern lifeless desert, where Raphael “makes a hole” into which he lowers him, bound hand and foot, and rolls him over with a stone. However, according to the same apocrypha, the soul will go in the opposite direction, to the west, where it will “groan” in the depressions of the high mountain range.
At the end of the 6th century, Pope Gregory the Great, distinguishing between two hells – upper and lower – placed one on the ground, the second under it.
In his 1714 book on the nature of hell, the English occultist Tobias Swinden placed hell in the sun. He motivated his assumption by the then existing ideas about our light as a ball of fire and a quote from the Apocalypse (“The fourth Angel poured out his bowl on the Sun: and it was given to him to burn people with fire”).
And his contemporary and follower, William Whiston, declared all celestial comets to be hell: when they get into the hot regions of the sun, they fry souls, and when they move away, they freeze them. However, you should hardly hope to get on a comet. The most widely accepted idea is that hell is located in the center of the Earth and has at least one exit to the surface.
Most likely, this exit is located in the north, although there are other opinions. So, an old poem about the wanderings of the Irish saint Brendan tells about his journey to the far west, where he finds not only heavenly places, but also places of torment for sinners.
And in heaven, and under the earth, and on the earth itself, hell is placed in the apocryphal “Walk of the Mother of God through torment.” This book is replete with detailed descriptions of punishments. Asking God to disperse the complete darkness that envelops the suffering in the West, Mary sees a red-hot tar pour out on the unbelievers. Here, in a cloud of fire, those who “sleep like the dead at dawn on Sunday” are tormented, and those who have not stood in church during their lifetime are sitting on red-hot benches.
In the south, other sinners are immersed in the river of fire: those cursed by their parents – up to the waist, fornicators – up to the chest, and up to the throat – “those who ate human flesh,” that is, traitors who abandoned children to be devoured by beasts or betrayed their brothers before the king. But deepest of all, to the crown, are the perjurers.
The Mother of God sees here other punishments due to lovers of profit (hanging by the legs), sowers of enmity and Klchristian adepts (hanging by the ears). In the “left side of paradise”, in the raging waves of boiling tar, the Jews who crucified Christ are suffering.
John Milton, author of the poem “Paradise Lost”, is in the realm of the eternal chaos. According to his concept, Satan was overthrown even before the creation of the earth and heaven, which means that hell is outside these areas. The devil himself sits in Pandemonium, the “brilliant capital”, where he receives the most prominent demons and demons.
Pandemonium is a huge castle with halls and porticoes, built by the same architect as the palace of the Heavenly King. The angel architect, who joined the army of Satan, was expelled from heaven with him. Myriads of spirits rush along the corridors of the palace, swarming in the earth and air. There are so many of them that only satanic sorcery allows them to be accommodated.
Even more confusing is the medieval Christian theologian Emanuel Swedenborg. He distinguished three different hells, corresponding to the three levels of heaven. And since God has dominion over everything, all three hells are ruled by him through specially delegated angels.
In his opinion, Satan does not exist at all as the ruler of the kingdom of evil. The devil in Swedenborg’s understanding is a collective name for the most dangerous “evil geniuses”; Beelzebub unites spirits striving for dominion even in heaven; Satan means “not so evil” spirits. All these spirits are terrible to look at and, like corpses, are deprived of life.
The faces of some are black, in others they are fiery, and in others they are “ugly with pimples, abscesses and ulcers; many of them don’t see their faces, others have only teeth sticking out. ” Swedenborg formulated the idea that as heaven reflects one person, and hell in aggregate is only a reflection of one devil and can be represented in this form. The devil’s mouth, leading to the fetid underworld – this is the path awaiting sinners.
Do not overly trust the opinion of some authors who argue that the entrance to hell can be locked. Christ in the “Apocalypse” says: “I have the keys of hell and death.” But Milton claims that the keys to Gehenna (apparently on behalf of Jesus) are kept by a terrible half-woman, half-snake. On the surface of the earth, the gate may look quite harmless, like a pit or a cave, or like a mouth of a volcano. According to Dante Alighieri, author of The Divine Comedy, written at the beginning of the 14th century, souls can go to hell by passing through a dense and gloomy forest.
This poem is the most authoritative source about the hellish device. The structure of the underworld is described in all its complexity. The hell of the Divine Comedy is the torso of Lucifer, inside it has a funnel-shaped structure. Starting a journey through hell, Dante and his guide Virgil descend deeper and deeper, without turning anywhere, and in the end find themselves in the same place from which they entered it.
The strangeness of this hellish geometry was noticed by the famous Russian mathematician, philosopher and theologian Pavel Florensky. He proved very reasonably that Dante’s hell is based on non-Euclidean geometry. Like the entire Universe in the concepts of modern physics, hell in the poem has a finite volume, but has no boundaries, which was proved (theoretically) by the Swiss Weil.
It looks like a Christian hell and an underworld that awaits Muslims. Among the stories of The Thousand and One Nights, seven circles are told. The first is for the faithful who have died an unjust death, the second is for apostates, the third is for the pagans. Jinn and the descendants of Iblis himself inhabit the fourth and fifth circles, Christians and Jews – the sixth. The innermost, seventh circle is waiting for the hypocrites.
Before getting here, souls await the great Doomsday, which will come at the end of time. However, the wait does not seem long to them.
Like most other sinners, visitors to the Islamic Hell are eternally roasted on fire, and every time their skin is burned, it grows again. The Zakkum tree grows here, the fruits of which, like the heads of the devil, are the food of the punished. Do not try the local cuisine: these fruits boil in the stomach like molten copper.
Those who eat them are tormented by intolerable thirst, but the only way to quench it is to drink boiling water so foul-smelling that it “melts the insides and skin.” In short, this is a very, very hot place. In addition, Allah even enlarges the bodies of the kafirs, increasing their torment.
Honestly, none of the described hells arouses good feelings in us, especially in comparison with our small, but generally comfortable world. So where exactly to go is up to you. Of course, it is not possible to give a complete information about the structure of hell on the pages of the magazine.
However, we hope that our quick overview will help everyone who finds themselves there to quickly navigate and greet their new eternity with the words of John Milton:
Chalk portrait of Virgin Mary appeared 13 years later, Mexican people call for miracles
A recent miraculous phenomenon on an asphalt road in Guadalupe, Mexico, the image of the Virgin Mary painted in chalk 13 years ago suddenly appeared. Local residents believe this "miraculous manifestation". (Video screenshot)
A mysterious phenomenon recently appeared on an asphalt road in Guadalupe, Mexico. A portrait of the Virgin Mary painted with chalk 13 years ago suddenly appeared. The local residents were quite surprised and believe in this “miraculous manifestation”.
This chalk-painted portrait of the Virgin is located on the asphalt pavement of an open-air parking lot next to the Guadalupe municipal government. It was an unknown person who held the “Bella Vía” (Bella Vía) in Guadalupe in 2007 Painted during the festival.
Recently, a man splashed water on the asphalt road there, and this portrait of the Virgin unexpectedly appeared again.
The staff of the city government said that the parking lot has undergone many changes and the city has also experienced extreme weather. This image should have disappeared a few years ago, but it has suddenly appeared miraculously recently.
After the incident spread in the local area, it immediately attracted a large number of people to watch, and city hall officials were also surprised. Many people believe that this is the miracle of the Virgin, and many believers come to worship and light candles and place flowers on the spot.
Félix Palomo, director of the Cultural Affairs Bureau of the Guadalupe Municipal Government, also shared a photo of this mysterious chalk drawing on Twitter and wrote:
“Believe it or not, the problem is that this portrait was created 13 years ago. How could it reappear afterwards?”
At present, the portrait of the Virgin Mary has been surrounded by traffic triangles, and the ground is often splashed with water to make the portrait of the Virgin Mary appear more clearly. As for why this chalk-drawn portrait of the Virgin Maru can be kept for 13 years, no experts have yet provided any explanation.
The legend that connects the Holy Grail with a Polish village – The Knights Templar and the secret tunnels
Like all great travelers, the Knights Templar of medieval times needed some places to settle, and so they built some of the most impressive castles and cathedrals.
Famous examples of these 13th-century buildings are found throughout the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Portugal and Spain.
Less well known are the impressive chapels and fortifications they built in western Poland, where the Knights Templar and other crusaders colonized the area and began to weave their own mythology into the idyllic rural landscape.
A trip to the region of Western Pomerania and the villages of Chwarszczany, Myślibórz and Rurka – near the border with Germany – is an adventure in a neglected destination, where historical secrets are still revealed.
And, according to at least one local legend, there could still be hidden the Holy Grail, the cup from which Jesus Christ drank at the Last Supper and later had his blood.
The road to Chwarszczany, a village lost among fields and forests, is not very well known, and has few permanent residents. The village itself is a collection of faded houses with less than 100 inhabitants who have chickens and grow tomatoes in the summer.
The farms and houses built in the traditional German style, testify to the geopolitical unrest that has affected the area over the centuries.
The special, timeless chapels built by the Knights Templar
It is here that the Knights Templar established a place of worship. Made of red bricks on a granite base, the church of Agios Stanislaos was built in 1232 on an isolated spot.
The chapel is designed according to the Temple of the Temples, an intricate code that the knights obeyed for fear of exile from the fraternity. The appearance of the building is defensive, its high walls are built to withstand attacks as well as the ravages of time.
It is still used as a place of worship, although Sunday mornings in Chwarszczany are quiet, we usually see about 30 parishioners gathered inside the chapel. There are two renovated frescoes on the walls.
The chapel in Chwarszczany
Discoveries are still being made here that shed new light on the lives and deaths of the knights and their followers. Among the finds below the sanctuary of the chapel are the bodies of some of the knights themselves and a possible secret passage.
Przemysław Kołosowski, an archaeologist working to preserve Chwarszczany’s medieval heritage, says that during excavations in 2019, researchers discovered more fortifications and a cemetery using ground-penetrating radar.
“Our GPR has identified gothic crypts with the remains of the Knights Templar beneath the chapel,” Kołosowski told CNN Travel. “According to legends and medieval documents, there was a well near the chapel. According to rumors, the well served as the entrance to a secret tunnel. “This requires further thorough archaeological research.”
The stories of the Knights Templar are a source of inspiration for movies
The Knights Templar have fascinated historians and archaeologists for years, in part because of the shady aspects of some of their practices.
Their Order was founded in Jerusalem in the 12th century to protect the pilgrims of the Holy Land. They became a powerful force throughout Europe, enjoying papal privileges, tax breaks and rich donations, while at the same time gaining legendary status.
The Knights Templar protected the Holy Grail
They are said to have become the patrons of the Holy Grail and the Ark of the Covenant, a sacred ark in which were kept the stone tablets with the Ten Commandments that God had given to Moses for the second time, and other sacred objects of the Israelis. These stories have inspired films such as Indiana Jones and Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code.
“The Knights Templar are always involved in everything,” Italian writer Uberto Eco wrote in his book “Foucault’s Pendulum.”
This certainly seems to be the case in 12th and 13th century Europe. In western Poland, landowners decided to prevent this entanglement by inviting knights to settle in what was then known as the Pojezierze Myśliborskie region.
Struggles for political power
About 40 miles (25 miles) north of Chwarszczany, another Romanesque building owes its existence to the medieval order. The Chapel of the Knights at Rurka is a rugged stone building dating back to 1250, built in the architectural style of the German region of Saxony.
In a secluded forest spot, the Rurka Chapel was sold to private hands in 1999 and is closed for renovation.
Going further northeast, after a 25-minute drive, travelers will reach Myślibórz, a narrow community of narrow roads surrounded by forests and four lakes.
The Knights Templar arrived in Mysliborz, Poland in the 13th century. It is an idyllic place, but the show here is stolen by the extremely preserved fortifications of the city, which today look almost as they look during the Crusades.
Myślibórz’s defense architecture provides a glimpse of what life was like in the Temple Age, when communities lived in fear of wars and struggles for political power.
Historical documents place the Knights Templar at Myślibórz from about 1238, when the land around their city was ceded to the local aristocrat, Duke Władysław Odonic.
The secrets of the swamp
The fortifications around Myślibórz were built in the 13th and 14th centuries. The city has retained its medieval town planning, with a square in the middle. Around this market there is the 18th century town hall, and houses.
Even today, the main entrances to the city are through two medieval gates, the Pyrzycka Gate and the Nowogródzka Gate, which were built in the early 13th and 14th centuries. Modern roads allow cars to enter the city through the gates. Inside the fortifications there is a cylindrical stone tower with loopholes.
The Holy Grail has inspired many books and movies
Visitors should ask about a secret underground tunnel that runs down the city, from the large church on Market Square to the Dominican convent, which, according to Karolczak, was originally the site of the Temple of the Knights Templars.
After the expulsion of the Knights Templar from Myślibórz in the late 13th century, their legendary treasure disappeared. Karolczak says that according to local tradition, the treasure was sunk by the Knights themselves, in a nearby lake.
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