Concentration Work
The first work held in the doctrine of Raimundo Irineu Serra

 

Concentration WorkIn six of May 1930, began the journey that Irineu Serra would trail in the foundation of his doctrine, when this date marks the first official work of the Santo Daime, of Concentration, held in his house and relying on three people: Mestre Irineu himself, Mr. José das Neves -- this being the first disciple -- and another follower who is unknown to us. And apparently this follower is Germano Guilherme, who already drank ayahuasca with Mestre since 1928.

This ritual took place on a Saturday, a day that remained for the concentrations, while on Wednesdays were carried out the healing sessions, of similar liturgy, but aimed at restoring the physical and spiritual health of the needing ones. And it was only in the 60s, in 1963, the period in which Mestre joins the Esoteric Circle of the Communion of Thought that the Concentration sessions started to be held on the 15th and 30th of each month, and this schedule remains until today.

According to Jairo da Silva Carioca,



Another very important aspect in the work of Irineu Serra were the prayers, present at the closing of each work and in many times at the beginning, in the case of the rosary executed before the hinário works and in other special occasions. When that happens, also tend to be executed the nine prayers [2] followed by a Hail Holy Queen.

According to Mrs. Percília,


In the case of concentrations, there are no accounts that claim the execution of prayers before the Daime is served. And this will be exemplified ahead in the personal account of Daniel Serra when he witnesses for the first time a Concentration session. In this case, the participants head off to take Daime with no formal opening of the session, and of this way it still happens today in the original center of the doctrine, commanded by Mrs. Peregrina Gomes Serra, widow of Mestre. However, some centers use by choice the traditional nine prayers and one Hail Holy Queen to open the ceremony.

It is important to also note that neither these centers nor Mestre Irineu used “opening words” for the works. But in all centers the sessions have always been closed, and still are, in the wake of the traditional nine prayers, a Hail Holy Queen, the closing words and the Sign of the Cross.

On the ritual itself, the concentration is rather simple but very important within the spiritual context, and still today it remains as the basis of the Santo Daime doctrine. It is in this service that we get in touch with our inner self and are able to work to achieve a spiritual ascension, within each one’s deserving, and, as the elders say, it is in the Concentration that we get the lessons, the same as in a school, and is in the celebration works of hinário that we put into practice what we have learned in the classroom.

Still on the ritual, we have to remember that "Mestre Irineu never authorized idols, symbols, pictures or objects on the table or in the salão. The Cross, the lit candle (always over the table!) and the rosary is enough, if God is in one’s heart and the will is firm (...) besides that, some flowers, because beauty is appropriate!” [Luiz Carlos Teixeira de Freitas].

In an interview with Daniel Serra, Luiz Carlos Teixeira de Freitas gather more details on how was a Concentration held by Mestre Irineu, this around 1957, already in his home in Alto Santo, now the Irineu Serra Memorial. Remember, at that time the New Hymns and the blue farda did not exist, the latter only introduced in the doctrine in 1972 and in accordance with the instructions left by Mestre before dying. Prior to that, people would attend the sessions with regular clothes and the work consisted only by the period of concentration.

Tells Daniel Arcelino Serra, who did not know of the Daime and, days after getting to Rio Branco, newly arrived from Maranhão, saw many people coming to the house.

***

Docrine's Salão

Mestre Irineu with the couple Júlio and Lourdes Carioca positioned beside him (participants of the first band of musicians of Mestre's Center). Photo from the book "Contos da Lua Branca" [Tales of the White Moon], by Florestan Neto.

Interestingly, this picture is presumably from a concentration session or a work today held with the blue farda, like All Souls' Day, as the brotherhood does not wear the official white uniform, instead with regular clothes likewise Mestre Irineu himself. In this case, it seems that the photo was taken at the 1st official headquarters of service, built in the late 60s, a few years before the passage of Irineu Serra.

***

Held since the beginning in the residence of Mestre and relying on a loyal group of followers, the Concentration Work remained virtually unchanged until the end of 60s, in 1968, when for the first time a hymn starts to be regularly sung at the meetings. This hymn was the number 117 of Irineu Serra – I Give Viva to God in the Heights – and it initiated the receiving of a series that would later be called the “New Hymns”, which are the latest hymns of the founder of the Santo Daime doctrine and that are still sung in every closing of the concentrations. Another change in the ritual, and that remains today, is the reading of the Decree of Service, dictated by Mestre and written by Mrs. Percília Matos, in 1970, being considered the only document left in life personally by Irineu Serra.

Still on the New Hymns, in correspondence with Paulo Moreira, researcher of the doctrine, he reports a fact that I had heard before, but which he has detailed: that the New Hymns were sung at the time with the women standing, one of them pulling the hymns and with the men seated. The men would only stand up, and here there is a controversy, either in the hymn "I Asked" or the hymn "I Arrived in this House”. According to Paulo Moreira, Mestre wanted ten women of good voice to stand out standing, but as all wanted to perform this function, the norm was applied to the whole female battalion. However, today the new hymns are sung standing by all.

Over the first hymns to be sung in a concentration session, Luiz Carlos Teixeira de Freitas gathered an account from Daniel Arcelino Serra.

“How did start the habit of singing the New Hymns at the end of the concentration?”
“It was him who ordered it.”
“Already from the hymn ‘I Give Viva to God in the Heights'?”
“Yes, it started with this hymn, because the work was to be contrite, in concentration. He did not like to chat, to talk much. This thing of lecturing during the service, those things... Sometimes, once or twice a year, he would say something, but he wasn’t fond of telling too much, explaining too much. He wanted the person to get deepen. He would say, ‘deepen yourself and try to know something'. Now, when the person wanted to know an answer to something, he or she would come before him and he would explain.”

***

Ritualistic of the Concentration Work

The Daime is served without prior execution of prayers and everyone go to their assigned places ordered in the lines by their height. The children and the youth* are seated before the heads of the table (boys ahead of the commander and girls behind) and the adults in the lateral (men on the left of the commander and women on the right). About the male disposition in the salão, Luzmarina Prado reminds us of a hymn from João Pereira, which says, among other lines, “Mestre tells me to form on the left of the General”. Likewise for the women, on the right.

*It is interesting to note that today many churches have adopted the division of married and single, which did not happen at the time of Mestre and still does not happen in the various centers that follow the original work. The deceased Mrs. Percília Matos, then General Manager of the Works, said that Mastre divided the salão between youth and adults because "at the time of Mestre, was to organize the salão, don't you know? Men and boys, as well as women and girls, have a different mentality, don't they?” [Percília Matos da Silva]


The session’s command composes the table, always with an odd number of members, and then the Decree of Service is read. In the centers of Alto Santo was created the tradition of leaving an open seat for Mestre Irineu after his passage, at the head of the table and at the right side of the commander. This way, we usually have two seats at each side of the table, two at both ends and a vacant seat at the right of the commander. However, according to a testimony collected by Luiz Carlos Teixeira de Freitas, João Nunes tell us,

Some people relate having asked of Mestre, “Excuse me, sir, but I'll ask you something.” He said, “Ask my son, I am here to listen.” “When you die, who will stay in your place?” Then he said, “My son, in my place I will not leave anyone. I'll leave a commander to lead you and those who deserve it will see me sitting in my chair.” But he didn’t say that his chair was at the table. For us, who stood behind, we know where the chair is. It is there, at the head of the table, where today sits Luiz Mendes and sit the others, you know? His chair is there!

After the Decree of Service is read, the order of concentration is given to all and with a duration period from one hour minimum and up to two hours, at the commander's criterion, in silence. Finished the period of concentration, the Decree of Service is read again.

After, the New Hymns are sung with no instruments (a cappella). In this case, the hymns “I Stepped on the Cold Earth” and “Marchinha” are not sung, this last one due to the lack of lyrics. The New Hymns can be sung standing or seated, upon the decision of the command, and in the case of the latter the first and the last hymns are sung standing, in accordance with the tradition for any hinário.

Happening on this date the execution of a celebration hinário (of birthday, for example), the danced hinário is executed with instruments before the New Hymns and the closing words. Thus, the New Hymns are danced too. [Juarez Duarte Bomfim]

After having sung the 12 New Hymns, having executed the nine prayers and one Hail Holy Queen, the President closes the session (Note: It is not only the President who can close the work. He can indicate another member of the fraternity to perform this act).

According to Silmara Camargo, "the New Hymns are the fourteen last hymns received by Juramidam, from two to three years before his passage. They are sung at the end of every work with the exception of the last, “I Stepped on the Cold Earth”, upon Mestre’s own request. The New Hymns were received in the period from 1968 to 1970. Mestre himself gave that name to the set of hymns. According to Mrs. Percília, he would say, 'People, let’s sing the new hymn!' When he received the second, he continued saying: 'People, let’s sing the New Hymns!' And so on so forth."

Composes the New Hymns

1 - Dou viva a Deus nas alturas
2 - Todos querem ser irmão
3 - Confia
4 - Eu peço
5 - Esta força
6 - Quem procurar esta casa
7 - Eu andei na Casa Santa
8 - Eu tomo esta Bebida
9 - Aqui estou dizendo
10 - Flor das Águas
11 - Hino sem letra
12 - Eu pedi
13 - Eu cheguei nesta Casa
14 - Pisei na terra fria

Closing Words

In the name of God, the Father Almighty, of the Virgin Sovereign Mother,
of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Patriarch Saint Joseph
and of all the Divine Beings of the Celestial Court,
with the order of our Chief-Empire [3] Juramidam,
our tonight’s work is closed, my brothers and my sisters.


Praised be God in the heights!
May our Mother, the Most Holy Mary, be forever praised. [4]

Sign of the Cross

By the sign of the Holy Cross deliver us God, our Lord,
from our enemies, in the name of the Father,
the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

***

[1] Caravaca Cross - the cross of Caravaca is a double-cross-barred crucifix. The original of this cross appeared miraculously in the Spanish town of Caravaca during the 14th century. It is said to contain a fragment of the True Cross upon which Jesus was crucified. Caravaca is known to archaeologists as the site of one of the oldest settlements in Spain, to occultists as a former stronghold of the mysterious Knights Templar, and to historians as a military fortress occupied during the struggle to oust the Moors and re-establish Christianity in Spain.

[2] This aspect of the so called “nine prayers” is one of the juiciest in the set of fine teachings that Mestre Irineu kept presenting us. When he referred to the “nine prayers”, he was referring to the “Our Father”, to the “Hail Mary” and to the “Holy Mary” prayed three times. And what this means? The prayer we know as “Hail Mary” has a clear origin content division: While the first part: “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with Thee. Blessed art Thou amongst women! Blessed is the fruit of Thy womb” is integrally based in the biblical text, when the angel greets Mary and announces the Redeemer, the second part: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray to God for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death, Amen” is the result of elocutions that the Catholic Church added during the course of a millennium. “Jesus” was placed in the middle of the two parts around 1300 DC. It was thence that Mestre Irineu dealt with the “Hail Mary” as if they were two prayers: The first one reproduces the angel's greeting to Mary; the second elevates our prayers to Her. Therefore, one Our Father, one Hail Mary and one Holy Mary composed three prayers; times three, and we have the “nine prayers” (Luiz Carlos Teixeira de Freitas).

[3] in the closing words, the original is "Chefe-Império", as in "Chief-Empire", a compound word. To be "Imperial Chief" or similar the original had to be "Chefe Imperial", which is not the case.

[4] As a note of curiosity, the words “above all humanity”, used today in many churches, were introduced by Cefluris years after Mestre's death.

***

 
 
Mestre's table of works