- Religion and Philosophy»
- African Religions
The Holy Cross of Jesus Christ
There is a prayer book which I am very fond of "Santa Cruz de Caravaca, Tesoro de Oraciones."
Which means, "Holy cross of Caravaca, Treasury of Prayers." This book has a collection of
prayers dating as far back as the middle ages. It's prayers were heavily utilized by the sailors,
of Christopher Columbus's era, and the Jesuits which accompanied the conquistadors on voyages of exploration. In this book you will find prayers calling on the powers of Jesus Christ, Virgin Mary, and the Holy Spirit for salvation.
Anyone reading these prayers would be assured overcoming tribulations at sea, hostile natives, hurricanes, typhoons, drowning or burning. There are prayers of peace and protection for the home, and any environment an individual would see himself in. There are prescribed prayers in Latin, for exorcising evil spirits, demons, or dark forces, in the name of Jesus Christ. There are prayers of repent, penitence, and absolution of sins. There are prayers proclaiming the faith in Jesus Christ, and may the power of his blood protect us. Yet, my favorite is a very special prayer, that according to the book; if an individual would be so honorable, and disciplined, to recite it as in a ritual, for 365 days of a year. They would release from purgatory or hell, 15 souls. Just to do this prayer one would have to recite the lords prayer, and a hail Mary, 15 times as introduction to the prayer. And, the reward for releasing these 15 souls, would be eternal salvation. They will never suffer hunger, they would be assured having their sins erased from birth throughout their lives until death. And, entering heaven would be re-assured.
I came across the use of this book at the tender age of 23, during my beginning years of spiritual development. Needless to say, I always wanted to perform this task. Yet, the twenties although somewhat dedicated to opening up my spirituality, were party years. And, between career, raising children, maintaining a family; late twenties and on. I could not see myself starting something so deep, without being able to complete it. It took over 22 years, before I had acquired the discipline, devotion, and dedication needed to perform this particular task. And it was difficult. There were always distractions or negative influences, which would lead or attempt to lead me into not completing; what I had promised myself I would do one day. This is because, when I sit to pray in front of a shrine or alter, there are many other prayers I do. It would be to time consuming. So, as I got older and found more time available for dedication, I gathered up enough nerve to do this.
You might say, what is a Yoruba Ifa Priest doing, reading Templar/Jesuit prayers, and connecting to the power of Jesus Christ? I follow and believe in Olodumare(God); I follow and believe in Olofin(the son of God); I follow and believe in the Holy Spirit(Oduduwa); and a holy court in heaven, where the hierarchy of Angels & Saints exists (Orisha's). I believe in the transitions of our ancestors into Saints(Orisha), deified ancestor. I know that there are those within the Yoruba lucumi or traditional, that want to be so technically African, that they can not accept this. I can' t help it, that in some christian sects, the belief in Angels and Saints, does not exists. Yet, my background or as I was raised, is to believe in everything. If, I am possible, then everything is possible.
As I pondered religious concepts and ideologies. No matter how different folks might want to make something seem. To me it is all the same. What changes are rituals, taboos, traditions, regions, doctrine, and dogma; on how people should worship or be holy. And of course what they choose. The Tower of Babel story, shows us that God grouped mankind according to language, and likeliness in thinking. Hence, God then sends his emissaries(angels, saints, or orisha), too help mankind in the likeliness or image of those people. Well, to answer the question. I believe that the more I connect to in the land of God, Jesus, Holy Spirit world, angels, orisha, saints, Hindu saints, Islamic saints, buddha saints, Mayan, Aztec gods, ..etc. The more I have on my side to use as strength in helping myself & people overcome difficulties plus obtain blessings. The better off I, and the individuals that come to me, will resolve and be. So why, not dabble into Christianity. It's not as if I weren't baptized, received communion, and confirmed, during my alter boy years.
The Power or inspiration for/in these prayers stem from true existence of a fragment of the cross "lignum crucis", where Jesus was crucified. This Cross can be found in a Basilica of the small town, Caravaca de la Cruz; in the northwestern portion; of the southeastern region of Spain called Murcia. The legend goes, that when Jerusalem fell to the Muslim, during the first patriarch rule(Michael I Cerularius (c. 1000-1059) of Constantinople). The Cross was miraculously brought to the Sanctuary of Caravaca castle by two angels, which are also part of the image that makes up the cross. During this period the southern region of Spain was ruled by Taifa of Murcia Benahud a wren, or Muslin chieftain. He pretty much owned the whole Andalucian area.
As the Caravaca reached a party of Christian captives, the chieftain asked a cleric who came between them, what purpose he served. In response, he said he was in charge of celebrating the mass. Since they were curious about the Christian ritual, the wren and his men, hung around. At that moment the priest said he needed a crucifix, the two angels appeared. Needless to say, everyone became baptized Christian, and so began the conquest of Spain back to the Christians after so many years of Muslim rule. Of course, this did not truly begin until years later with Castilian King Ferdinand III (1243-1244).
Devotion to the Cross of Caravaca has spread throughout the Christian world, including eastern & western Europe. In parts of Latin America, the cross is used in rituals of Santeria, Voodoo, Candomble, which syncretizes rites, mainly among descendants of slaves.
I know and believe that my dedication to the power of this cross & Jesus; like those of Templar Knights and Jesuit Priests before me; has saved me in few occasions from danger.