Pseudo-Dionysius’ Cookbook

Posted on September 18, 2004 by Jenna

← Previous | Next →

The early Church treasured its sacred mysteries. Belief in Christ and a sincere wish to join the Church did not suffice for admission; the petitioner, or catechumen, was first required to undergo initiation. Many philosophers and theologians, not the least among them Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite, discussed the reasons for this in depth.

It is 2004. The air is clean. The birds are singing. The sky is full of clouds. On such a day, the words of the ancient theologians seem harmless enough—until their philosophy leads Jane into error!

“I have a stomachache,” admits Jane.

Martin looks up from cooking. He’s making finger and toe sandwiches. The name is colloquial, and they don’t have real fingers in them.

“You were supposed to leave room for dinner,” he says.

“I just ate one small catechumen,” she says.

“They’re usually pretty big.”

“This one was small.” Jane indicates with her hands. “And made of gingerbread.”

Martin scratches behind his ear. “If it was just a tiny gingerbread catechumen, you should be fine.”

“Well,” Jane says, “He was lonely. Because catechumens crave baptism into the Christian faith, and he couldn’t do that in my stomach.”

“It’s a paradox,” agrees Martin. “If you eat a gingerbread catechumen before his baptism, you’re dooming him never to achieve the inner mysteries. But if you wait until he’s baptized, he’s soggy, and not really a catechumen at all! Still, even progressive Churches are likely to reject gingerbread men.”

“Well,” says Jane, “it’s just that I ate a gingerbread deacon and drank some holy water. To help him out.”

“Ah.” Martin frowns. “Do we have holy water?”

“It is the grace of the spirit that makes it holy,” Jane says, “so I figured that tap water would be okay.”

“Well, then,” Martin says. “Two cookies.”

“And then I had to eat a gingerbread priest,” Jane says.


“To illuminate the mysteries into which the deacon had initiated him. And a gingerbread hierarch, to sanctify the priest.”

“I see.”

“And then the gingerbread angel practically leaped into my stomach to convey the message of revelation between the gingerbread archangels and the hierarch. That’s how the hierarchs are purified, you know.”

Martin sighs. “Jane,” he says, “I told you not to read Pseudo-Dionysius’ cookbook.”

“I was expecting it to be a bit more like Emeril,” Jane admits.

See also: Catachumen and Pseudo-Dionysius