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Archetypes and the Fully Functioning Person

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Next, I want to mention the veneration of the mythic Blessed Virgin Mary. In the Christ myth, she is the substitute for the pagan goddess Isis. Over the centuries Christian artists have painted the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Holy Child Jesus -- the Christian equivalent of Isis Lactans.

Now, for understandable reasons, men and women in religious orders characteristically feel that they need all the help they can get. Figuratively speaking, they feel as helpless as infants. In the Jungian terminology that Dr. Harding uses, one's spiritual life involves more than one's ego-consciousness. Once you have figured this out, you may at times feel as helpless as an infant, because you have confronted the built-in limitations of your ego-consciousness. As a result, people in Roman Catholic religious orders oftentimes pray to the mythic Blessed Virgin Mary to help them. (They may also pray to the founder of the religious order and to their favorite saints.)

It is fair enough that Fr. Lonergan was among those religious men who prayed to the mythic Blessed Virgin Mary for her intercession and help.

Now, because Pope Francis (born 1936) is the first Jesuit pope, I want to say that I do not think that he has experienced the psychological process that Dr. Harding refers to as the raising of the Veil of Isis -- yet.

Now, can other Roman Catholics and non-Catholics today cultivate their spiritual life? Yes, of course they can.

Figuratively speaking, can they go on their own quest for the Grail? Yes, of course they can.

However, I should mention that the founder of the Jesuit order, St. Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556), famously discusses spiritual desolation in the aptly titled book the Spiritual Exercises.

Now, spiritual desolation resembles what we today refer to as serious depression. No doubt serious depression and spiritual desolation involve the feminine spirit in the human psyche that Dr. Harding writes about perceptively.

The Victorian Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889) wrote a certain number of poems about his experience of spiritual desolation. Literary critics refer to these as his "terrible sonnets" -- not because they are terrible poetry (they are not) but because the experiences of desolation sound like terrible ordeals to go through.

So the symbolic quest for the Grail may include terrible ordeals of desolation that can be endured -- as Hopkins so-called "terrible sonnets" show.

Now, a lot of people who have not self-consciously undertaken the symbolic quest for the Grail experience serious depression. No doubt their serious depression shows that they are undergoing the inner journey involving the feminine spirit of their psyches. Figuratively speaking, their psyches are urging them to undertake the symbolic quest for the Grail, which may also include periods of spiritual desolation.

But if in theory everybody can go on the symbolic quest for the Grail, then why not abolish all the religious orders in the Roman Catholic Church? This is an intriguing question to consider.

I have mentioned that all the religious orders are structured so as to incorporate initiations in the training of the people in the order. In as much as the formal initiations built into the training in religious orders work, people who are not in religious orders would probably be hard pressed to experience comparable initiations in their ordinary lives.

Moreover, in as much as the initiations involved in religious orders work, the people in those orders should emerge eventually as more capable in terms of their psycho-spiritual development. Such people can serve as role models and perhaps even as spiritual directors for people who are not in religious orders.

Now, in effect, I have suggested that the inner symbolic quest for the Grail involves the feminine spirit in the psyche.

But are women advantaged over men in engaging the mysteries involved with the feminine spirit in the psyche?

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