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Rev. Prof. Konrad Maria Paweł Rudnicki, whose text on imitating Mary we posted on our blog a few months ago, is not only one of the greatest contemporary Polish astronomers, but also a theologian and a priest in the Old Catholic Church of the Mariavites. He serves the Mariavite community in Cracow that gathers in the Lutheran church in Grodzka street. It should be added that we both like to attend its services: Loukas almost every Sunday, and Pradusz whenever he visits Cracow. Taking advantage of the fact that we know Rev. Prof. Rudnicki personally, we asked him to write something for our blog, and before the holidays sent him a list of question about things we are interested in. A few days ago we received the answers. Here they are:
How would you like to introduce yourself to our readers who do not know you and your work yet?
I’m a retired professor of the Jagiellonian University. Presently I work in the same position at the Wyższa Szkoła Środowiska in Bydgoszcz (the University of Environment). I have also fulfilled various pastoral duties. I have both scientific and didactic achievements in three areas: astronomy (galactic kinematics, intergalactic space), the methodology of science (mainly the problems of cosmology) and theology (the mystical theology).
You are an outstanding astronomer; do you still find time to be active in that field?
The time is not the problem, but due to continuous progress of electronics, the methods of both observation and calculation have changed in astronomy so much that I don’t even try to match the younger generation of my colleagues. It happens from time to time that I take part in research planning. I’m interested in new achievements of astronomy and especially the results of my students.
Our blog is to a large extend inspired by the Anglican, and especially the Episcopal, tradition; during your stays in the United States you had contact with the Episcopal Church. Could you tell us something about this period?
During these four years of my research stays in the United States (three years in the Los Angeles diocese and one year in the Galveston-Houston diocese [Rev. Prof. Rudnicki probably means here the Episcopal diocese of Texas] I served as a non-stipendiary priest in three Episcopal parishes. It was simply a need of my soul: not to stop being a priest. There were only low church parishes in the surroundings of the University where I worked, even though I would rather have served in a high church one. But I had no choice. I obtained a permission and a referral from my bishop in Plock and got a certificate from the bishop in charge of the respective Episcopal diocese. The Anglican church is doctrinally comprehensive enough for me to fit in with my Mariavtism without any problem. In the sixties I also got to know the old rite with “Gloria” as a thanksgiving at the ed of the service, while in the eighties I celebrated in the reformed rite [Rev. Prof. means the 1979 version of the BCP] – “Gloria” in the same place as in the Tridentine Mass.
In a certain moment of your life you have consciously chosen Mariavitism and have been serving as a Mariavite priest for years. How would you briefly describe the essence, the basic message of Mariavitism?
Precisely speaking, Mariavitism is not a theological movement, but a prayer one. The Mariavites were once in the Roman Catholic Church, then accepted the doctrine of the Union of Utrecht, and today the various branches of Mariavitism have different doctrines. The last Mariavite monastery in the United States in Kelseyville, California, unable to come to terms with Plock, came under the jurisdiction of the Episcopal Church and accepted its doctrine. In the revelations that provided foundations for Mariavitism we can find rules for organizing a new monastic congregation [community], but not a church as such. The Mariavite idea comprises in the first place the cult of the Eucharist and the awareness of the perpetual care of the God-Bearer [Theotokos], and the imitation of her life. From this derive a few additional characteristics of Mariavitism. A Mariavite can be a member of any denomination that practices the Eucharist and allows its members to imitate the positive biblical figures (thus also Mary of Nazareth). The doctrinal form these things are expressed in is of lesser importance. The Mariavites have been allowing anyone to join the community since 1906 – the Protestants, for instance. Presently there are members of fife different churches in the Mariavite Community. From the beginning onwards, the purpose of the Mariavite Church, which of course played an important role in Mariavitism, was to enable the Mariavite Community to exist and develop properly.
Who is the foundress, Mother Kozlowska for you? What role do her revelations play?
The Mother, St Maria Franciszka, is for me a guide providing instructions how to practice Christianity nowadays. I’m speaking of our times: full of political, technological, economical, social and cultural novelties as they are. On the turn of the 19th century, when she received these instructions in a revelation, these times were yet to come. Not always did she understand the meaning of her revelations, but she faithfully wrote them down.
The basic characteristic of Marivitism is the call to the so called Eucharistic adoration of supplication. What role does it play in your own spirituality? Is it always an adoration in front of the Most Blessed Sacrament?
It happens relatively rarely that I have the opportunity to adore before the Blessed Sacrament or a tabernacle. I don’t have suitable conditions in my home chapel for reserving the Sanctissimum. While adoring, I unite myself in thoughts with the churches where the true Eucharistic elements are resrved. I must also say confess that it is only seldom that I have time to adore for an hour, which was the custom of the first Mariavites. I do it only when I wake up around 4 am. Usually I wake up at half past four and have time only for a half hour adoration. The days when due to some reasons I don’t adore at all are dark days for me.
Is it correct to understand adoration as a means to calm God’s wrath? If so, does it not imply an image of an offended God-sovereign, who has to be appeased?
Reasonable parents buy their child a toy if they ask for it persistently for some time. A toy received after the first caprice or given even before the child asks for it, is usually not respected. God is a reasonable parent. He wants to offer his mercy to those who truly desire it.
The name Mariae vita itself points at a special importance of the Mother of God. What is this importance and who actually is she for you?
Reasonable Mariavites want to imitate her and be aware of her perpetual help. Outwardly she was an ordinary married woman not avoiding social life (the Wedding in Cana): she didn’t stand out in any manner.
At the same time, through marriage with St Joseph, who was the true heir of the throne of Juda (see the introduction to the Gospel of St Matthew), she had the right to the title of a queen, and in the spiritual order she was the concentration of the energies of God the Father. We call her Queen of Heaven. She is the only biblical figure referred to as kecharitomene, which should be translated as “completely graced”, “fulfilled with grace”, and traditionally it is translated as “full of grace”. We try to be perfectly ordinary outwardly, and inwardly strive – doing our best – after perfection. Christ is the lord of the consciousness of the self, he can be accepted only consciously. But how can the first impulse on our way to Christ be born in us? We think that the God-Bearer – as the perpetual helper of people – is the lady of the subconscious, that she works in us, even when we are not yet able to desire it. She leads us to Christ.
You are one of the representative figures of Polish anthroposophy. To many of our readers this way is completely strange. How would you briefly explain what it is all about?
Anthroposophy is for me in the first place a method of gaining spiritual knowledge based upon consciousness. While the Eastern esoteric schools tell their followers to obey their “masters” passively, in anhtroposophy every exercise has to be understood with regard to the way it works and the purpose it has. The anthroposophic methodleads slower to real contact with the spiritual world than the oriental ones or the method of Weinfurter do, but it avoids the danger of submitting to the unrecognized, dark powers. When I adore the Blessed Sacrament in the anthroposophic way, I develop through such an adoration far more than if I were doing it in the traditional way.
For many of those who know something about anthroposophy, it is simply a heresy – one of contemporary forms of gnosis. How do you combine it with Catholic Christianity? Is there something in Christianity that anthroposophy helped you to see or understand better?
Sometimes by anthroposophy we don’t understand a method of spiritual research but the results it provides. If the Greek word gnostikon be understood in its original meaning of “cognitive”, than anthroposophy provides knowledge, which is “spiritual gnosis”, just like mathematics provides “mathematical gnosis”. But when we combine this word with the doctrine of the so called Gnostics, the anthroposophic results match them as rarely as the doctrinal formulations of the traditional Christian churches. My personal anthroposophic research allows me sometimes to understand myself and my environment better, while other results of anthroposophic research, both the published ones and the ones handed on to me by more advanced anthrophosiphists I know, allowed me to understand the dogmas of the Universal Church, such as, among other things, the previously incomprehensible things like the essence of the seven sacraments or the eternal virginity of Mary of Nazareth. Some people see error in reincarnation which anthroposophists acknowledge. What anthroposophists know about it is fundamentally different from the popular Eastern views on the subject. Moreover, it should be remembered that reincarnation was condemned neither by an ecumenical council, nor by an “infallible” decree of the Roman popes. Indeed, the fourth ecumenical council condemned the alleged views of Origin that our souls sinned in the spiritual world and our incarnation in this world is a punishment for it. Such a quaint view is strange to the results of anthrophosophic research. It is worth mentioning that the classic Orthodox dogmatics by Malinowski [you can find it here in Russian] includes preexistence as one of the possible origins of human souls, which includes also the teaching of reincarnation. The assertion that God creates every human soul only at the moment of conception is a theological opinion of many Western theologians, but not a dogma of the Universal Church. Perhaps I will also say that the lack of contradiction between anthroposophy and the church is to be seen as well in the fact that there exists an organization, “Sophia”, established in Germany to which only Roman Catholic anthroposophists were admitted during the first few decades of its existence. It was acknowledged (not without some restraints at first) both by the Roman Catholic Church and the General Anthroposophical Association.
I know that you hold peculiar views on the Holy Trinity. Could you tell me something about that?
I suppose that what you have in mind are not my personal views, but a certain remark of Valentin Tomberg that seems to me an accurate approach to one of the aspects of the Holy Trinity; that is why I sometimes mention it. According to Tomberg religious views may be divided into deistic, theistic and pantheistic. In his opinion Christianity contains elements of all the three of them. The deistic aspect is expressed by the person of God – the Creator and Lawgiver, whom we can ask for something only through the mediation provided by the Son; it should be added that in proper church prayers we never ask God the Father for anything for ourselves as individuals. For instance the Lord’s Prayer contains the pronouns “our”, “us”, but not “mine”, “me”. God the Father takes care of us collectively and not individually. The theistic aspect is to be found in the person of the Son of God, who is the one we are able to “speak to” about our personal matters, and who, through Eucharist, develops our individual personality. And, last but not least, the Holy Spirit is present in the whole manifested reality. He represents the pantheistic aspect. The basic liturgical prayers of the church are not directed to the Holy Spirit, but to the other persons of the Trinity, asking for the Holy Spirit to come, that is to say for the ability to see divinity in everything that exists. Hymns such as “Come creator Spirit” appear relatively late in the history of the church and have the character of a poetic metaphor. Such a view explains certain things to me.
We are very grateful to Rev. Prof. Rudnicki that in spite of numerous obligations he found the time to share his thoughts with us. For the interested readers we have collected a few links where you can find some information about him, his scientific achievements and publications (we have listed only the English ones below, for the Polish ones go to the Polish version of the article).