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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

a project of Steiner Online Library, a public charity

Foundation Course
Spiritual Discernment, Religious Feeling, Sacramental Action
GA 343

A course of 15 lectures and discussions given in Dornach, Switzerland in 1921. In this course, in which more than one hundred people interested in the questions of a renewal of religious life and work participated, Rudolf Steiner talks about the ways in which religious activity can be fertilized through spiritual knowledge and brought into new forms of worship. The “Documentary Supplements” included in the separate German edition containing reproductions of blackboard drawings and addresses, notebook entries, etc., is included in this English translation by Hanna von Maltiz.

Translator's Note: The lectures which follow, beginning with the sixteenth in the series, indicate that all participants in this lecture course were asked to sign an agreement that in the future, from that day onward, to only transmit the material presented to them from that point on, in a verbal form. These next lectures enter into all the details required of priests when performing the sacraments, with the wording, gestures and so on. For this reason, I will refrain from translating this material. It will remain available for those wanting to approach ordination into The Christian Community, in the oral tradition.

I. Anthroposophy and Religious life September 26, 1921
The relationship of Anthroposophy to the religious life. The search for secure foundation of religious awareness with various Protestant and Catholic theologians. Meaning of prayer for the religious life. Incompatible conceptions of the development of humanity in the modern scientific thinking methods and in the Gospels. What is understood in the Catholicism under the original revelation? What is conveyed in ancient mysteries? The mystery of Birth. Theology and imagination of God before Christ. Origins of worship. Understanding spiritual realities in prayer.
II. The Essence and Elements of Sacramentalism September 27 a.m., 1921
The discerning and acting person. The sinfulness of modern science. Essence and elements of sacramentalism. The experience of words, speech and hearing. The in-streaming of the divine into the word: Gospels. Objectification of action in the Offering. Conversion of natural processes into spiritual processes. Transubstantiation. Uniting with the transformed substances: communion. The physical-soul-spiritual relationship of people to the universe and their representation through sacraments: recognition through the word and offering, dealt through transubstantiation and communion. Question: Do the Gospel and Offering have an impact in the course of outer events? Is the inner experience of transubstantiation and communion something real outside a congregant? Open letter of Dr Friedrich Rittelmeyer to Rudolf Steiner.
III. Theory and Living Spirit September 27 p.m., 1921
Discussion resulting from the questions and objections presented by Dr Rittelmeyer. Lack of understanding of the exercises in my book "Knowledge of the higher Worlds." Regarding the meaning of repetition. Theoretical thinking or living in the spirit? The big question at present: How is the realm of morality to be based in the realm of natural necessities? The indifference of theologians regarding "Christ as the sun regent." Unfounded allegations against Anthroposophy.
IV. Anthroposophy and Religion. September 28 a.m., 1921
Regarding a priest's communication which calls for an answer to the question: How is Anthroposophy contained in religion and how should religion be held by Anthroposophy? - How can a person today get to know the super-sensible world directly? Regarding the difficulties in expressing spiritual scientific knowledge in modern language. Methods of human knowledge in modern psychology and biology in Anthroposophy. Necessary observations of people in their relationship to the physical-mineral, to the earth's etherisation and to the cosmic-astral environment of the earth. The four elements during the Greek times and direct experiences of yearly cycles in ancient times. How can actions of worship be understood? The mood of expectancy in the ancient mysteries. The foundation of true Christianity.
V. Conceptual Knowledge and Observation September 28 p.m., 1921
Through the knowledge of observation, the relationship between belief and knowledge changes. Religiousness and egoism: selflessly acquired thoughts. The necessity of reaching a concept of belief which is not only bound to the temporal forces in man. Answers to questions out of the circle of participants: Can we define religion? Don't we have to renounce knowledge to come to religion? When art, science and social life adapt religious forms, will religion then stop being independent? Is there a differentiation of values between religion and Anthroposophy or are they both necessary?
VI. Creative speech and Language September 29 a.m., 1921
Germinating speech forms in Anthroposophy. Differentiated speech and the nature of sound. Earlier and future relationships to sound. Creative power of speech in the Gospels. The Mass as expression of the entire pastoral process. The Sermon. The intellectualistic process or image-rich speech in relation to community building. The meaning of symbols in the sermon. The evangelists in their meaning for alchemists; the Gospels analysed philologically. Various philosophic systems as exercises in thought. Anthroposophical help in arriving at images. Anthroposophy and religion.
VII. Speech Formation September 29 p.m., 1921
Answers to questions of the participants: Power of speech formation/moulding: gaining sound understanding, sense of speech and language conscience. Vocals, consonant and rhythm. Connection of speech with the totality of mankind. Eurythmy. A new understanding of the Bible: experiencing language and the start of St John's Gospel. Apostolic succession: meaning of the priestly "Family Tree." Celebrating the Catholic Mass as essential/real action. Outlook towards a new form of sacramental life.
VIII. Prayer and Symbolism September 30 a.m., 1921
The necessity of prayer. The Our Father as real dialogue with the Divine. The sound content in prayer. Regarding religious impulses becoming conscious in people. Reading the Gospels. Truth content and vital content in the Gospels. The 13th chapter of the Gospel of St Matthew as training for the preacher. Transformation of natural processes into creative soul images. Sunlight and Moonlight; the symbol of the transubstantiation in communion. Sensitivity for the efficacy of symbols during the first Christian centuries. Symbol, living word and will, divinely imbued.
IX. Religious Feeling and Intellectualism September 30 p.m., 1921
Obtaining documents of judgement for the decisions of the participants in this course. In new community building everything must be given over to what Christ wants in the world. Catholicism, Protestantism and sacrifice of sacrament. The mystery of birth and death. Cosmic activity in the embryo. Steps of incarnation and its reverse in the sacrament of mass. The earth since the Mystery of Golgotha. The demons' outcry on recognising Christ on earth. Meaning of the sacrament of mass in life. Loss of religious feeling in the historical development of the last centuries. Intellectualism and sacramentalism. How can we rediscover the sacrament out of freedom? Summary of questions and responses about the sacrifice of mass as a reversal of the incarnating process.
X. Composition of the Gospels October 1 a.m., 1921
Harmony of the four Gospels. The Wise Men from the Orient's stellar wisdom (Mathew Gospel) and shepherds' experience in the fields (Luke's Gospel). Changes in mankind's state of mind through evolution. From heart-felt experience to outer knowledge. Composition of the 13 chapters of the Mathew Gospel. Parables given to people and parables for the disciples only. Ears that hear in error and eyes that sleep (Mat 13,15). Differences between the organisation of hearing and seeing. Breathing, speaking, hearing. Christian community building. Material still to be discussed.
XI. Insights into the Mystery of Golgotha October 1 p.m., 1921
Soul constitution of people at the time of the Mystery of Golgotha (formation of mind or consciousness soul). Mystery of Golgotha as a cosmic, free divine deed; change in soul conception since Golgotha. Renewal of dying earth existence. Rise of intellectualism, working of spirit in matter ever less understood. Scotus Eriugena, Augustinus. Start of dogma and ritual in Catholic Church. Anthroposophy to help clarify present day understanding regarding Golgotha. Luther and the rise of two time streams. Luther and Faust. Christian symbolism in art. Meaning of priest ordination.
XII. Prophecy, Dogma and Paganism October 2 a.m., 1921
About predicting future events. Characteristics of literature of church fathers: allegorical interpretation of Old Testament, references to Christ's return, element of law in church. Relationship of Catholic clerics to dogma and saints. Prophesies in Mark's Gospel: fall of world and rise of God's kingdom. Herman Grimm: the abyss between understanding Roman and Greek history. Heathen sensitivity of the divine in paganism, Judaism and Christianity, the ungodly in Roman Caesarism. Christianity today.
XIII. Sacraments, Evolution and Involution October 2 p.m., 1921
What does it mean, to experience shaping the divine within? Fundamental ideas on the being of the sacramental. Seven sacraments and their relation to life. Rhythmic exchange from evolution to involution processes in nature and life's history. Healing these processes through sacraments. Regarding birth, maturity, incarnation, memory, death and sanctification through baptism, confirmation, act of consecration, penance and last anointment. Human relations to the soul-spiritual, which are no longer of an individual nature and their image of the sacrament: marriage, priest ordination.
XIV Gnostics and Montanists October 3 a.m., 1921
Pastoral care and handling the living word. The opposite poles of Gnosis (Basilides) und Montanism (Montanus). Striving of the Gnostics for knowledge (macrocosmic) and visions of the Montanists (microcosmic surrender). Dangers of straying to both sides. Christ conception of the Gnostics and Montanists. Augustus' exchange with Bishop Faust. Writer of John's Gospel between Gnosticism and Montanism. Inflow of Roman elements into Christianity. "Divine State" of Augustus. Centuries long struggle over the question: How do we save the moral, imbued with God, from the external legal element? Crusader mood.
XV. Ordination and Transubstantiation October 3 p.m., 1921
Development of Christian sacrament of ordination out of the old Mysteries. Initiation and state of consciousness. Initiation and transformation of material substances in humans. Regarding the ordination earlier, and today. What means dedication? The soul constitution of the Apostles and experience of apostolic succession. Apostolic succession today? Novalis' and Shelling's knowledge of true Christianity. Inner reasons that led to celibacy.