I have been rummaging around in the attic of history and I have come across some interesting things which may (or may not) shine some light on how the world really works (or doesn’t work). Hang with me for a moment as I take you through it.
This is the sign of Saint Francis which is called TAU:
The arm with the sleeve represents that of St. Francis. The arm without the sleeve represents that of Christ. St. Francis manifested the wounds of Christ in his hands and his feet and this is referred to as the “Stigmata” of Christ. Note that the background is a cross without the top upright piece. This is very realistic.
The letter "T" is the 19th letter of the Greek alphabet and it makes the "T" sound just like in English or Spanish. However, the letter that makes the "T" sound in Hebrew is called TAV and it looks like this:
It is the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet and in the Book of the old Testament in Ezekiel is referred to as a sign of renewal. Saint Francis read the Bible in Greek and so he used the Greek form of the letter "T". Besides that, he was an admirer of Saint Anthony the Hermit who was one of the first Monks. Saint Anthony lived in the Egyptian desert and cared for Lepers. Saint Anthony used the Coptic Cross called the "Crux Ansata". It came from the Egyptian "Ankh" which is the Egyptian symbol for life. The Crux Ansata looks like this:
St. Francis was fond of throwing his arms straight out to the side to show his followers that the Franciscan robe made the sign of the “Tau” and with the hood up it formed the “Crux Ansata” which St. Anthony wore on his tunic. St. Anthony the Hermit, by the way lived in the time of the early church and is considered to be one of the first if not THE first monk. He was a kind of later day John the Baptist.
St. Francis emphasized that Christ is flesh and blood and lived on the earth and lived an exemplary life and he encouraged his followers to lead a Christ-like life. St. Francis formed three orders. The First Order of St. Francis is comprised of the regular priests and monks. The Second Order of St. Francis is comprised of Nuns under the banner of St. Claire who was a friend of St. Francis and one of his most ardent followers. The Third order of St. Francis or “Tercer Orden” as it is called here in Mexico is made up of lay people who have not taken religious vows but who wish to follow the rules of St. Francis. It is the Third Order of St. Francis that is most closely identified with the “Tau”.
Not only that but in the esoteric texts of the Muslims this letter symbolizes “Divine Holiness”.
Don’t you find it as strange as I do that all three religions, i.e. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam all use the sound of the letter “T” to represent a special quality of God. I am beginning to wonder if we are making a mistake with God’s Name and it really is something like TOG, or even Timothy, Tommy, or Terrence.
I have read that before the fourth century the cross symbol that we use today to represent Christ was unknown as a religious symbol and it was actually hated as a sign of persecution. Emperor Constantine wanted to consolidate his empire under a sign and he chose the cross because he said at the Battle of Milvain about noon he saw a cross in the sky with the words “Conquer under this sign”. The only trouble is that he didn’t tell anybody about this at the time or start using the cross until about 13 years later. Somehow I smell a politician at work here. Maybe God wanted us to use the symbol of a dove or something to represent Christianity and instead we chose an object of hatred. Maybe he is up there right now saying, “No, no, people you’ve got it all wrong!”
I am finding out also that Hebrew and Arabic are very similar in their forms, alphabets, grammars and complexity. That makes sense because both Hebrews and Arabs are descended from Noah’s son Shem and both peoples are what we call Semites on account of that. Their forms or writing are much, much older than ours and they are really wrapped up in the written word. The Islamic “Ta” also has a numerical meaning which is the number 9 and it represents the element of fire. The Hebrew “Tav”, on the other hand, represents the number 400. Believe me, they read a lot more into the meanings of words than we do. For example, the word Torah (Tav-Vav-Resh-He) has the numerical value 611 (400+6+200+5). There is an entire discipline of Jewish mysticism known as Gematria that is devoted to finding hidden meanings in the numerical values of words. Take the number eighteen. The number 18 is very significant, because it is the numerical value of the word Chai, meaning life. Donations to Jewish charities are routinely made in denominations of 18 for that reason. It is hard for me to explain how deep this all gets in both Hebrew and Arabic. I really don’t think that most of the higher ups in our government even have a clue.
Some people have asked me why the heck I want to learn Arabic. I counter that with “Why the heck do people want to climb Mount Everest or even play Golf, anyway?” I am going to go even one step further. If God lets me hang around long enough to pin down this Arabic thing then I am going to go ahead and tackle Hebrew as well. Who knows? Maybe Greek too!
A couple weeks ago I visited and old Augustinian Monastery that was built in 1540 which is before Michelangelo completed St. Peter’s in Rome. The thresholds in the doorways were made of stone but they were all worn down by three centuries of monks stepping on them with their leather sandals. Each monk’s room has a little stone seat near the window where they could catch the last rays of the sun in order to read and the corner edges of the stone seats are worn down where hundreds of years of fannies rubbed against them. The threshold that was the most worn, however, was the threshold to their library. The stone threshold was worn almost 4 inches deep from their sandals. The minute I stepped into that room I felt at home. I don’t know if the place is haunted or not but a feeling of deep peace settled over me and I didn’t want to leave. I wish that there were still monasteries like that because I would go there and apply to be admitted. I would happily spend the rest of my life searching out God and the nature of time and space.
All this goes back even further. Look at the “Crux Ansata” at the base of the Egyptian Statue of their god Isis [below] that was found in one of the Egyptian tombs.