Aponit of Contention, OR an Opportunity for serious Contemplation? By Patrick

  SECTION TWO: THE LORD’S PRAYER: “OUR FATHER!” CCC 2759—2865: Today CCC #2828 to #2837

 There is dear friend’s a no more compelling reason to be an Informed and Fully Practicing Catholic than the Reality; the Truth of Jesus: GOD being in our very midst. Amen!


Ponder for a moment; what if; what IF this is TRUE as the Catholic Church had taught from Her founding by Jesus Himself. The first term used to describe this phenomenon was fittingly “The Breaking of the Bread.” I share with you with this evidence:

Luke 24:35[35] And they told what things were done in the way; and how they knew him in the breaking of the bread.”

Acts 2:42[42] And they were persevering in the doctrine of the apostles, and in the communication of the breaking of bread, and in prayers.”

GOD can be described as “All GOOD things perfected”; who would be gullible enough to think that Jesus could not, would not and did not do this, which is the GREATEST Miracle; the GREATEST possible Good in human history; past; present and future. Genesis 1 26-27, 2:6-7 make the case that we ARE Created in the very image of God. Does not God seek Himself? … Are you willing to face GOD /Jesus in the immediate Judgment and say; opps, I didn’t believe all the evidence You left behind that proves that You Lord Really and Truly were and are in Catholic Holy Communion. SORRY I missed You!

  1. “Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread” {this is WHY we are Catholics!}

2828 “Give us”: the trust of children who look to their Father for everything is beautiful. “He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” He gives to all the living “their food in due season.” Jesus teaches us this petition, because it glorifies our Father by acknowledging how good he is, beyond all goodness.

2829 “Give us” also expresses the covenant. We are his and he is ours, for our sake. But this “us” also recognizes him as the Father of all men and we pray to him for them all, in solidarity with their needs and sufferings.

2830 “Our bread”: the Father who gives us life cannot not but give us the nourishment life requires – all appropriate goods and blessings, both material and spiritual. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus insists on the filial trust that cooperates with our Father’s providence. He is not inviting us to idleness, but wants to relieve us from nagging worry and preoccupation. Such is the filial surrender of the children of God:

To those who seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness, he has promised to give all else besides. Since everything indeed belongs to God, he who possesses God wants for nothing, if he himself is not found wanting before God.

2831 But the presence of those who hunger because they lack bread opens up another profound meaning of this petition. the drama of hunger in the world calls Christians who pray sincerely to exercise responsibility toward their brethren, both in their personal behavior and in their solidarity with the human family. This petition of the Lord’s Prayer cannot be isolated from the parables of the poor man Lazarus and of the Last Judgment.

2832 As leaven in the dough, the newness of the kingdom should make the earth “rise” by the Spirit of Christ. This must be shown by the establishment of justice in personal and social, economic and international relations, without ever forgetting that there are no just structures without people who want to be just.

2833 “Our” bread is the “one” loaf for the “many.” In the Beatitudes “poverty” is the virtue of sharing: it calls us to communicate and share both material and spiritual goods, not by coercion but out of love, so that the abundance of some may remedy the needs of others.

2834 “Pray and work.” “Pray as if everything depended on God and work as if everything depended on you. Even when we have done our work, the food we receive is still a gift from our Father; it is good to ask him for it with thanksgiving, as Christian families do when saying grace at meals.

2835 This petition, with the responsibility it involves, also applies to another hunger from which men are perishing: “Man does not live by bread alone, but . . . by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,” that is, by the Word he speaks and the Spirit he breathes forth. Christians must make every effort “to proclaim the good news to the poor.” There is a famine on earth, “not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.” For this reason the specifically Christian sense of this fourth petition concerns the Bread of Life: the Word of God accepted in faith, the Body of Christ received in the Eucharist.

2836 “This day” is also an expression of trust taught us by the Lord, which we would never have presumed to invent. Since it refers above all to his Word and to the Body of his Son, this “today” is not only that of our mortal time, but also the “today” of God.

If you receive the bread each day, each day is today for you. If Christ is yours today, he rises for you every day. How can this be? “You are my Son, today I have begotten you.” Therefore, “today” is when Christ rises.

2837 “Daily” (epiousios) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. Taken in a temporal sense, this word is a pedagogical repetition of “this day,” to confirm us in trust “without reservation.” Taken in the qualitative sense, it signifies what is necessary for life, and more broadly every good thing sufficient for subsistence. Taken literally (epi-ousios: “super-essential”), it refers directly to the Bread of Life, the Body of Christ, the “medicine of immortality,” without which we have no life within us. Finally in this connection, its heavenly meaning is evident: “this day” is the Day of the Lord, the day of the feast of the kingdom, anticipated in the Eucharist that is already the foretaste of the kingdom to come. For this reason it is fitting for the Eucharistic liturgy to be celebrated each day.

The Eucharist is our daily bread. the power belonging to this divine food makes it a bond of union. Its effect is then understood as unity, so that, gathered into his Body and made members of him, we may become what we receive…. This also is our daily bread: the readings you hear each day in church and the hymns you hear and sing. All these are necessities for our pilgrimage.

The Father in heaven urges us, as children of heaven, to ask for the bread of heaven. [Christ] himself is the bread who, sown in the Virgin, raised up in the flesh, kneaded in the Passion, baked in the oven of the tomb, reserved in churches, brought to altars, furnishes the faithful each day with food from heaven.

John 8:32-33[31] Then Jesus said to those Jews, who believed him: If you continue in my word, you shall be my disciples indeed. [32] And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

John 6: 54-58 “ [54] Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. [55] He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day. [56] For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. [57] He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him. [58] As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me.”

 A Message for my fellow Catholics

The Eucharist fulfills Christ promise: “I WILL be with YOU always, even until the end of Time.” Cf. Mt.28:20

Truer words were never spoken. Yet the neglect and abuses Christ endures because of our weak faith; our sloth; our lack of sharing God’s Truths; make this effable gift of GOD Himself in Person indisputably the greatest act of HUMILATION in the worlds history of humanity evident in the manner in which You Receive our Lord; our GOD!. Receive Jesus on your tongue; WHO but a priest ot a Deacon is Truly worthy to hold GOD in their hands? If physically able one ought to genuflect, rather than merely bow or nod one’s head. Romans 14:11 [11] For it is written: As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God”

Seriously ponder exactly what the Eucharist is; which Paul understood so clearly: 1st Cor. 11: [26] For as often as you shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, you shall shew the death of the Lord, until he come. “[27] Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. “

Dear Brothers and Sisters; make the time and take the time to often ponder the Mystery and the Miracles before Us. It is Jesus; it IS JESUS! And what He does here in Catholic Holy Communion effaces in degree of humility any and all other sacrificial acts throughout all of human history; even Christ Own grotesque and barbaric- Passion and being nailed NAKED to his Cross. Why? How?

Why: Because Christ Passion was accomplished in “the flesh of His Perfect humanity,” while in the Eucharist it is Christ GLORIFIED Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity {the entire Christ} who desiring a way to “be with US” without frightening us is the Real Presence of Almighty God in our midst; beckoned by His chosen Mortal Priesthood: “I and the Father ARE One.” John 10:30. In the worlds history who else but US {***}, has been invited to the New Throne Room of God {The Catholic Mass} in this mortal life? And when He advises US to “take up our crosses and Follow Him”; this is not a metaphor. While replicating His degree of humility is impossible; and completely unattainable; our effort to do so is not, and indeed is to be our lives goal.

Truly we are to follow His Example by our own self-abasement in His Presence. Do WE act as if we are going to meet our Lord? Do WE in our thoughts, words and deeds reflect this sublime reality sufficiently that others will strive to model our humility; OUR awareness that it is GOD that we are about to receive. The best way to evidence this, is to receive Jesus on our tongues; and preferably by the priest or Deacon whose hands are anointed to do this task. {Are YOU really worthy of receiving GOD in your hands?} And we should genuflect; not simply bow or just nod our heads if our physical condition permits this. It IS GOD; we must act as if we Know this and that we BELIEVE this. Amen.

The Eucharist is a Miracle wrapped in Mystery; but it is SO critically signifient in its role of aiding our personal salvation that throughout the ages Jesus has caused worldwide, many Eucharistic Miracles to evidence His Love for us. These are scientifically proven to insure their validity and happen to strengthen-weak faith. Here Jesus the pinnacle of humility choose to take the form of “ordinary” bread; ordinary wine imamate objects to be consumed. All the while it being fully, once Consecrated, God in Person Really Present to us. Why? Not only to be WITH us but far more importantly and significantly to Be WITHIN US, and US to be within Him. John 6: 57-58 [57] He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him. [58] As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me.” And this dear friends describes the miracle and Blessing of Catholic Holy Communion. AMEN!  


1322 The holy Eucharist completes Christian initiation. Those who have been raised to the dignity of the royal priesthood by Baptism and configured more deeply to Christ by Confirmation participate with the whole community in the Lord’s own sacrifice by means of the Eucharist.

1323 “At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood. This he did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved Spouse, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet ‘in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to u

The Eucharist – Source and Summit of Ecclesial Life

1324 The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life.” “The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch.”   =      {Sacrifice} 

1325 “The Eucharist is the efficacious sign and sublime cause of that communion in the divine life and that unity of the People of God by which the Church is kept in being. It is the culmination both of God’s action sanctifying the world in Christ and of the worship men offer to Christ and through him to the Father in the Holy Spirit.”

1326 Finally, by the Eucharistic celebration we already unite ourselves with the heavenly liturgy and anticipate eternal life, when God will be all in all.

1327 In brief, the Eucharist is the sum and summary of our faith: “Our way of thinking is attuned to the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn confirms our way of thinking”

To Jesus Through Mary; and dear friends it is a prudent person who invites Mary to receive Her Son Jesus with you so that Jesus will have a perfect place of repose within your heart.

To Jesus; With Jesus; THROUGH Mary,


Dogma, Doctrine, and Theology: What Are They? by James Atkins


Dogma, Doctrine, and Theology: What Are They?

What is the difference between dogma and doctrine?

What is the difference between doctrine and theology?

For that matter, what is the difference between dogma and theology?

We have a sense that all three of these terms are connected with religious belief, but what specifically do they mean, and how do they differ from one another?

By James Atkins

That’s what we’re going to try to sort out!

Let’s get started . . .

The Difference Illustrated

If you Google the three terms on the Vatican web site (www.Vatican.va), you find that they do not appear with the same frequency. While “dogma” and “theology” occur about as often as each other, the term “doctrine” appears far more frequently (about 2.5 times as often). Here are the results as of the day I originally performed this test (9/8/12):

Dogma: 2,340 results

Doctrine: 6,510 results

Theology: 2,580 results

The fact that these terms don’t all occur with equal frequency indicates a difference in the way that the terms are used. But what is the difference?

Is it just that they have different connotations–that “doctrine” sounds better and so it gets used more frequently?–or is there a difference in the basic meanings of the terms?

The Original Meaning of the Terms

A common way of trying to figure out the meaning of words is by looking at the origin of the word–what it originally meant. Among linguists, this is known as the word’s “etymology.”

What is the original meaning of our three terms?

Dogma: This is derived from the Greek word dogma, which means “opinion.” In our context, it would mean “opinions about God” or “opinions deriving from God.”

Doctrine: This is derived from the Latin word doctrina, which means “teaching.” In our context, it would refer to “teaching about God” or “teaching derived from God.”

Theology: This is a compound of two Greek terms: theos, which means “God,” and logos, which means “word.” The suffix -logy, however, came to mean “study of,” and so “theology” could be understood to mean “the study of God.”

This exercise sheds some light on our question, but not enough.

The ultimate origin of a word does not tell us how it is being used today.

As linguists are fond of pointing out, the meaning of a word is determined by its (current) usage, not its (historical) origin.

Otherwise the term “nice,” which derives from the Latin term nescius, would mean “foolish” or “stupid” (its meaning in Old French) or at least “ignorant” or “unknowing,” from its Latin rootsne- (“not”) and scire (“to know”).

Thus, setting aside the original roots of “dogma,” “doctrine,” and “theology,” how are they used today?

The Catechism’s Glossary on “Theology”

Most English editions of the Catechism of the Catholic Church carry a glossary which provides definitions for the three terms. Here is how it defines “theology”:

THEOLOGY: The study of God, based on divine revelation (236, 2033, 2038).

The numbers at the end of this entry refer to paragraphs in the Catechism that deal with theology, but the basic definition is “The study of God, based on divine revelation.”

236 The Fathers of the Church distinguish between theology (theologia) and economy (oikonomia). “Theology” refers to the mystery of God’s inmost life within the Blessed Trinity and “economy” to all the works by which God reveals himself and communicates his life. Through the oikonomia the theologia is revealed to us; but conversely, the theologia illuminates the whole oikonomia. God’s works reveal who he is in himself; the mystery of his inmost being enlightens our understanding of all his works. So it is, analogously, among human persons. A person discloses himself in his actions, and the better we know a person, the better we understand his actions

2033 The Magisterium of the Pastors of the Church in moral matters is ordinarily exercised in catechesis and preaching, with the help of the works of theologians and spiritual authors. Thus from generation to generation, under the aegis and vigilance of the pastors, the “deposit” of Christian moral teaching has been handed on, a deposit composed of a characteristic body of rules, commandments, and virtues proceeding from faith in Christ and animated by charity. Alongside the Creed and the Our Father, the basis for this catechesis has traditionally been the Decalogue which sets out the principles of moral life valid for all men

2038 In the work of teaching and applying Christian morality, the Church needs the dedication of pastors, the knowledge of theologians, and the contribution of all Christians and men of good will. Faith and the practice of the Gospel provide each person with an experience of life “in Christ,” who enlightens him and makes him able to evaluate the divine and human realities according to the Spirit of God.80 Thus the Holy Spirit can use the humblest to enlighten the learned and those in the highest positions.

This definition is very close to the one we would suspect based on the word’s origin: “the study of God.” It adds that this study is “based on divine revelation” rather than (for example) merely philosophical arguments.

It’s a broad definition.

You will note that it does not mention who is doing the study.

There is no mention, for example, of the Magisterium (teaching authority) of the Church. Anyone who is studying God in light of divine revelation would seem to be doing theology, according to the glossary of the Catechism.

Where Did the Glossary Come From?

It is worth noting, at this point, that the Catechism’s glossary came about in a specific way.

According to the USCCB web site:

Even before the promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a Glossary had been proposed to provide assistance to those who would use the new Catechism. This Glossary has been prepared by Archbishop William J. Levada, who served as a member of the Editorial Committee of the Special Commission of the Holy See for the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It has been reviewed by the NCCB ad hoc Committee to Oversee the Use of the Catechism, as well as by the chairman and staff of the NCCB Committee on Doctrine. . . .

It is important to remember that this Glossary, like the Catechism’s Indexes, is an additional instrument by which readers may find assistance in their use of the Catechism itself. While the Glossary is faithful to the language of the Catechism, it does not participate in the approval of the text of the Catechism given in the Apostolic Constitution Fidei depositum of Pope John Paul II [Source].

Despite the fact that it doesn’t have the same kind of approval that the Catechism does, and so the glossary is not on the same level as the Catechism, it still serves as a useful guide to how the Church uses the terms that it covers.

So what does the glossary say about the latter two terms: “doctrine” and “dogma”?

The Catechism’s Glossary on “Doctrine” and “Dogma” 

Here is what the Catechism’s glossary says regarding “doctrine” and “dogma”:

DOCTRINE/DOGMA: The revealed teachings of Christ which are proclaimed by the fullest extent of the exercise of the authority of the Church’s Magisterium. The faithful are obliged to believe the truths or dogmas contained in divine Revelation and defined by the Magisterium (88).

This definition is not as helpful as it could be, and that’s understandable. It’s trying to get across some very technical concepts in a very small number of words, and it’s trying to do it as non-technically as possible.

It also appears to use the terms “doctrine” and “dogma” as synonyms–meaning the same thing.

They might well mean the same thing in some contexts, but as we will see, it is easy to demonstrate from contemporary Church documents that they are also used differently.

The Catechism on Dogma

The glossary’s definition points us to paragraph 88 of the Catechism itself, which says:

88 The Church’s Magisterium exercises the authority it holds from Christ to the fullest extent when it defines dogmas, that is, when it proposes, in a form obliging the Christian people to an irrevocable adherence of faith, truths contained in divine Revelation or also when it proposes, in a definitive way, truths having a necessary connection with these.

This has to be parsed with some care. The Catechism is stating that “The Church’s Magisterium exercises the authority it holds from Christ to the fullest extent” in two ways:

1) “when it defines dogmas, that is, when it proposes, in a form obliging the Christian people to an irrevocable adherence of faith, truths contained in divine Revelation,” and

2) “when it proposes, in a definitive way, truths having a necessary connection with these.”

These are the two kinds of propositions that the Church may infallibly define: dogmas and those truths that have a necessary connection with them.

We’re at the point of having a basic definition of what dogmas are: [a] “truths contained in divine revelation” and [b] that have been proposed by the Magisterium “in a form obliging the Christian people to an irrevocable adherence of faith.”

Or, as Cardinal Avery Dulles explains:

In current Catholic usage, the term “dogma” means [a] a divinely revealed truth, [b] proclaimed as such by the infallible teaching authority of the Church, and hence binding on all the faithful without exception, now and forever. [The Survival of Dogma, 153].

This is a fairly non-technical way of presenting the standard formulation of what a dogma is, though when churchmen and theologians talk among themselves, there is another way of putting it.

Another Explanation

The term of art that is used to express the idea of a dogma is that it is a truth which must be believed with “divine and catholic faith” (Latin, fides divina et catholica). This formulation is found in the First Vatican Council, which held:

Wherefore, by divine and Catholic faith all those things are to be believed which are [a]contained in the word of God as found in Scripture and tradition, and [b] which are proposed by the Church as matters to be believed as divinely revealed, whether by her solemn judgment or in her ordinary and universal magisterium [Dei Filius 3:8].

Note the two criteria [a] and [b], which identify the propositions that must be believed with divine and catholic faith. These are the same two conditions, expressed in slightly different words, as those found in the glossary to the Catechism.

We find a similar formulation in the Code of Canon Law, which provides:

 Can. 750 §1. A person must believe with divine and Catholic faith all those things [a]contained in the word of God, written or handed on, that is, in the one deposit of faith entrusted to the Church, and [b] at the same time proposed as divinely revealed either by the solemn magisterium of the Church or by its ordinary and universal magisterium which is manifested by the common adherence of the Christian faithful under the leadership of the sacred magisterium; therefore all are bound to avoid any doctrines whatsoever contrary to them.

These are converging ways of saying the same thing. But why the term “divine and catholic faith”?

“Divine and Catholic Faith”

Here the current Canon Law Society of America commentary has a helpful explanation:

The faith is called “divine” because it responds to God’s self-revelation, and “catholic” because it is proposed by the Church as divinely revealed [New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law, 914].

Can.  914 It is primarily the duty of parents and those who take the place of parents, as well as the duty of pastors, to take care that children who have reached the use of reason are prepared properly and, after they have made sacramental confession, are refreshed with this divine food as soon as possible. It is for the pastor to exercise vigilance so that children who have not attained the use of reason or whom he judges are not sufficiently disposed do not approach holy communion.

“Divine faith” is thus the response due to God’s revelation. Whatever is contained in the Church’s deposit of faith, whether in sacred Scripture or sacred Tradition, is divinely revealed and calls for belief as a matter of faith in God as the Revealer of the particular truth. If God says it, we are obligated to believe it.

“Catholic faith” is called for whenever the Church has infallibly proposed something as divinely revealed in a way that binds all of the faithful.

These two thus correspond to he conditions [a] and [b] found in the less technical definitions of what a dogma is.

You’ll note that it is possible for something to require the first response without the second. Anything that God has revealed through Scripture or Tradition, whether the Church has infallibly proposed it as such or not, calls for divine faith. But because it can be difficult for us to correctly identify and understand God’s revelation, he has given the Church the gift of infallibility so it can clear up disputes and misunderstandings.

Because of the gift of infallibility in defining matters of faith and morals, when the Church does infallibly proclaim something as divinely revealed, it always is.

Doctrine vs. Dogma

In the Catechism’s glossary it seemed to suggest that the terms “doctrine” and “dogma” can be used synonymously, but a look at other documents reveals that this is not always the case. For example, the Code of Canon law provides:

Can. 749 §3. No doctrine is understood as defined infallibly unless this is manifestly evident.

This indicates a wider use of the term “doctrine,” because all dogmas are infallibly defined. Yet here it is indicated that there are doctrines which are not to be regarded as infallibly defined.

The same is indicated a few canons later:

Can. 752 Although not an assent of faith, a religious submission of the intellect and will must be given to a doctrine which the Supreme Pontiff or the college of bishops declares concerning faith or morals when they exercise the authentic magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim it by definitive act; therefore, the Christian faithful are to take care to avoid those things which do not agree with it.

The Church’s infallibility is engaged when the pope or the college of bishops proclaims a doctrine of faith or morals by a definitive act (CIC 749 §1-2), so again we have an indication that the Magisterium can proclaim “a doctrine . . . concerning faith or morals” in a non-infallible and thus a non-dogmatic way.

Can. 749 §1. By virtue of his office, the Supreme Pontiff possesses infallibility in teaching when as the supreme pastor and teacher of all the Christian faithful, who strengthens his brothers and sisters in the faith, he proclaims by definitive act that a doctrine of faith or morals is to be held.

  • 2. The college of bishops also possesses infallibility in teaching when the bishops gathered together in an ecumenical council exercise the magisterium as teachers and judges of faith and morals who declare for the universal Church that a doctrine of faith or morals is to be held definitively; or when dispersed throughout the world but preserving the bond of communion among themselves and with the successor of Peter and teaching authentically together with the Roman Pontiff matters of faith or morals, they agree that a particular proposition is to be held definitively.
  • 3. No doctrine is understood as defined infallibly unless this is manifestly evident.

It thus appears that there are some doctrines that fall into the realm of dogma and others that don’t, either because they are not infallibly proclaimed by the Church or because they are not infallibly proclaimed as divinely revealed (they might merely be things necessarily connected with revealed truths–see above).

 Putting It All Together

With this as background, we are in a position to see how dogma, doctrine, and theology are related.

The broadest category is theology, and it includes any study of God based on divine revelation.

Theology does not require an action of the Magisterium. It can be done by ordinary theologians or, for that matter, by ordinary members of the faithful.

More narrow is the category of doctrine. This includes those teachings which are proposed by the Magisterium.

While an ordinary theologian may be able to do Catholic theology, he is not able to form Catholic doctrine. The intervention of the Magisterium is necessary for that.

Most narrow is the category of dogma. This includes those doctrines which the Magisterium definitively (infallibly) proposes as divinely revealed and which are, therefore, divinely revealed.

One still has to be sensitive to the way that these words are being used in context. They have not always had these precise meanings, so they may not be used this way in historical documents. Even today they are sometimes used in different senses. But this provides a basic sketch of the principles involved in how the three relate. END QUOTES


 The Church that Morphed Another: I AM A Catholic Lesson This part assembled by Patrick Miron Beginning of Part 7, the final segment CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH TO THE WORLD


 The Church that Morphed

Another: I AM A Catholic Lesson

This part assembled by Patrick Miron

Beginning of Part 7, the final segment



  1. Light and the cosmos

The Opus Maius (1267) of the Franciscan Roger Bacon (d 1292), written at the request of Pope Clement IV, largely initiated the tradition of optics in the Latin world. The first spectacles were invented in Italy around 1300, an application of lenses that developed later into telescopes and microscopes.

While many people think of Galileo (d 1642) being persecuted, they tend to forget the peculiar circumstances of these events, or the fact that he died in his bed and his daughter became a nun.

The Gregorian Calendar (1582), now used worldwide, is a fruit of work by Catholic astronomers, as is the development of astrophysics by the spectroscopy of Fr Angelo Secchi (d 1878).

Most remarkably, the most important theory of modern cosmology, the Big Bang, was invented by a Catholic priest, Fr Georges Lemaître (d 1966, pictured), a historical fact that is almost never mentioned by the BBC or in popular science books.

  1. Earth and nature

Catholic civilisation has made a remarkable contribution to the scientific investigation and mapping of the earth, producing great explorers such as Marco Polo (d 1324), Prince Henry the Navigator (d 1460), Bartolomeu Dias (d 1500), Christopher Columbus (d 1506) and Ferdinand Magellan
(d 1521). Far from believing that the world was flat (a black legend invented in the 19th century), the Catholic world produced the first modern scientific map: Diogo Ribeiro’s Padrón Real (1527). Fr Nicolas Steno (d 1686) was the founder of stratigraphy, the interpretation of rock strata which is one of the principles of geology.

Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (d 1829), a French Catholic, developed the first theory of evolution, including the notion of the transmutation of species and a genealogical tree. The Augustinian monk Gregor Mendel (d 1884, pictured) founded the science of genetics based on the meticulous study of the inherited characteristics of some 29,000 pea plants.

  1. Philosophy and theology

Catholicism regards philosophy as intrinsically good and was largely responsible for founding theology, the application of reason to what has been revealed supernaturally. Great Catholic philosophers include St Augustine (d 430), St Thomas Aquinas (d 1274), St Anselm (d 1109), Blessed Duns Scotus (d 1308), Suárez (d 1617) and Blaise Pascal (d 1662). Recent figures include St Edith Stein (d 1942, pictured), Elizabeth Anscombe (d 2001) and Alasdair MacIntyre. On the basis that God is a God of reason and love, Catholics have defended the irreducibility of the human person to matter, the principle that created beings can be genuine causes of their own actions, free will, the role of the virtues in happiness, objective good and evil, natural law and the principle of non-contradiction. These principles have had an incalculable influence on intellectual life and

  1. Education and the university system

Perhaps the greatest single contribution to education to emerge from Catholic civilisation was the development of the university system. Early Catholic universities include Bologna (1088); Paris (c 1150); Oxford (1167, pictured); Salerno (1173); Vicenza (1204); Cambridge (1209); Salamanca (1218-1219); Padua (1222); Naples (1224) and Vercelli (1228). By the middle of the 15th-century (more than 70 years before the Reformation), there were over 50 universities in Europe.

Many of these universities, such as Oxford, still show signs of their Catholic foundation, such as quadrangles modelled on monastic cloisters, gothic architecture and numerous chapels. Starting from the sixth-century Catholic Europe also developed what were later called grammar schools and, in the 15th century, produced the movable type printing press system, with incalculable benefits for education. Today, it has been estimated that Church schools educate more than 50 million students worldwide.

  1. Art and architecture

Faith in the Incarnation, the Word made Flesh and the Sacrifice of the Mass have been the founding principles of extraordinary Catholic contributions to art and architecture. These contributions include: the great basilicas of ancient Rome; the work of Giotto (d 1337), who initiated a realism in painting the Franciscan Stations of the Cross, which helped to inspire three-dimensional art and drama; the invention of one-point linear perspective by Brunelleschi (d 1446) and the great works of the High Renaissance. The latter include the works of Blessed Fra Angelico (d 1455), today the patron saint of art, and the unrivalled work of Leonardo da Vinci (d 1519), Raphael (d 1520), Caravaggio (d 1610, pictured), Michelangelo (d 1564) and Bernini (d 1680). Many of the works of these artists, such as the Sistine Chapel ceiling, are considered among the greatest works of art of all time. Catholic civilisation also founded entire genres, such as Byzantine, Romanesque, Gothic, High Renaissance and Baroque architecture. The Cristo Redentor statue in Brazil and the Sagrada Familia basilica in Barcelona show that the faith continues to be an inspiration for highly original art and architecture.

  1. Law and jurisprudence

The reforms of Pope Gregory VII (d 1085, pictured) gave impetus to forming the laws of the Church and states of Europe. The subsequent application of philosophy to law, together with the great works of monks like the 12th-century Gratian, produced the first complete, systematic bodies of law, in which all parts are viewed as interacting to form a whole. This revolution also led to the founding of law schools, starting in Bologna (1088), from which the legal profession emerged, and concepts such as “corporate personality”, the legal basis of a wide range of bodies today such as universities, corporations and trust funds. Legal principles such as “good faith”, reciprocity of rights, equality before the law, international law, trial by jury, habeas corpus and the obligation to prove an offence beyond a reasonable doubt are all fruits of Catholic civilization and jurisprudence.

  1. Language

The centrality of Greek and Latin to Catholicism has greatly facilitated popular literacy, since true alphabets are far easier to learn than the symbols of logographic languages, such as Chinese. Spread by Catholic missions and exploration, the Latin alphabet is now the most widely used alphabetic writing system in the world. Catholics also developed the Armenian, Georgian and Cyrillic alphabets and standard scripts, such as Carolingian minuscule from the ninth to 12th centuries, and Gothic miniscule (from the 12th). Catholicism also provided the cultural framework for the Divina Commedia (Divine Comedy), the Cantar de Mio Cid (“The Song of my Lord”) and La Chanson de Roland (The Song of Roland), vernacular works that greatly influenced the development of Italian, Spanish and French respectively. The Catholic Hymn of Cædmon in the seventh century is arguably the oldest extant text of Old English. Valentin Haüy (d 1822), brother of the Abbé Haüy (the priest who invented crystallography), founded the first school for the blind. The most famous student of this school, Louis Braille (d 1852), developed the worldwide system of writing for the blind that today bears his name.

  1. Music

Catholic civilisation virtually invented the western musical tradition, drawing on Jewish antecedents in early liturgical music. Monophonic Gregorian chant developed from the sixth century. Methods for recording chant led to the invention of musical notion (staff notation), of incalculable benefit for the recording of music, and the ut-re-mi (“do-re-mi”) mnemonic device of Guido of Arezzo (d 1003). From the 10th century cathedral schools developed polyphonic music, extended later to as many as 40 voices (Tallis, Spem in Alium) and even 60 voices (Striggio, Missa Sopra Ecco).

Musical genres that largely or wholly originated with Catholic civilisation include the hymn, the oratorio and the opera. Haydn (d 1809), a devout Catholic, strongly shaped the development of the symphony and string quartet. Church patronage and liturgical forms shaped many works by Monteverdi (d 1643), Vivaldi (d 1741), Mozart (d 1791, pictured) and Beethoven (d 1827). The great Symphony No 8 of Mahler (d 1911) takes as its principal theme the ancient hymn of Pentecost, Veni creator spiritus.

  1. The status of women

Contrary to popular prejudice, extraordinary and influential women have been one of the hallmarks of Catholic civilisation. The faith has honoured many women saints, including recent Doctors of the Church, and nurtured great nuns, such as St Hilda (d 680, pictured) (after whom St Hilda’s College, Oxford, is named) and Blessed Hildegard von Bingen (d 1179), abbess and polymath. Pioneering Catholic women in political life include Empress Matilda (d 1167), Eleanor of Aquitaine (d 1204) and the first Queen of England, Mary Tudor (d 1558).

Catholic civilisation also produced many of the first women scientists and professors: Trotula of Salerno in the 11th century, Dorotea Bucca (d 1436), who held a chair in medicine at the University of Bologna, Elena Lucrezia Piscopia (d 1684), the first woman to receive a Doctor of Philosophy degree (1678) and Maria Agnesi (d 1799), the first woman to become professor of mathematics, who was appointed by Pope Benedict XIV as early as 1750. END articles quotes

  1. And let us not forget why the Catholic Church can rightly and justly be termed: “Mother Church.”

She birthed today’s bible. Having been the home of the Early Fathers who selected the 47 Old Testament Books, inspired by the Holy Spirit {2nd. Timothy 3:16-17}, and it was the early Catholic Church Fathers who actually authored the entire New Testament/s 27 books.

It was that same “Mother Church” that gave illegitimate birth to the Protestant reformation {revolution}, so it can be correctly stated that there would be no “Christian Faiths” if it were not for our Catholic Church.

So the “Church that Morphed” begin as ‘The Way”, then became the “Christian Church”, and shortly thereafter, the ‘\”Catholic Church” {around 110 Ad}, a title She maintains into the 21st Century.

That fact that She has endured nearly constant persecution, and has not only survived, but actually flourished makes evident that Christ promise in Matthew 28:20 “Cf. I WILL BE WITH YOU until the end of time” is a fulfilled prophesy.

Certainly the Church HAS changed, has grown in many way’s as is fitting of Her exclusive charter to: Cf. “YOU GO! Teach the entire world what I {God} have taught to YOU”. Matthew 28:19-20.

When Jesus choose to establish His One Faith in and through One Church, by absolute necessity he HAD to along with all of the Key’s to heaven’s gate, provide also the authority, the power, and the necessary guidance from God, to accomplish that  exclusive Mandate, that exclusive Directive.

For non-Catholics in particular, the inability to comprehend the essential differences in Church Doctrines from Church practices has led to a great deal of misunderstanding on their part. This then is compounded time and time again by a God imposed inability to correctly understand even the most logical and simplistic points of faith-understanding.

The Catholic Church, as the instrument chosen by GOD to birth His Bible in uniquely qualified, and protected as committed by God, to be able to ALONE, fully and correctly translate the bible.

Matthew 16:18-19 “[18] “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. [19] I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Matthew 28: 18-20[18] And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. {& I NOW pass some of it on to YOU… Mt. 10:1-8} [19] Go therefore and {YOU!} make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, [20] teaching them to observe all that I have commanded YOU; and lo, I am with YOU always, to the close of the age.”

2Peter 1: 19-21

And we have the more firm prophetical word: whereunto you do well to attend, as to a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: [20] Understanding this first that no prophecy of scripture is made by private interpretation. [21] For prophecy came not by the will of man at any time: but the holy men of God spoke, inspired by the Holy Ghost.

[Douay Bible explanation]

[20] No prophecy of scripture is made by private interpretation: This shews plainly that the scriptures are not to be expounded by any one’s private judgment or private spirit, because every part of the holy scriptures were written by men inspired by the Holy Ghost, and declared as such by the Church; therefore they are not to be interpreted but by the Spirit of God, which he hath left, and promised to remain with his Church to guide her in all truth to the end of the world. Some may tell us, that many of our divines interpret the scriptures: they may do so, but they do it always with a submission to the judgment of the Church, and not otherwise. End Quotes

“Whenever something is good it does not depend on us getting our way, but on God getting His way, and whether we do God’s Will depends on us [humbly] loving God. Moreover to love God we must [actually] know God, [not just know OF God].” Bread of Life booklet January 9, 2016”[Mt 7:21]

 Acts 20: 28-30 Take heed to yourselves, and to the whole flock, wherein the Holy Ghost hath placed you bishops, to rule the church of God, [singular] which he hath purchased with his own blood. I know that, after my departure, ravening wolves will enter in among you, not sparing the flock. And of your own selves shall arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Douay Rheims Bible


Matt.15: [16] And he said, “Are you also still without understanding?

Deut.1:[13] Choose wise, understanding, and experienced men, according to your tribes, and I will appoint them as your heads.

Luke.10:[21] In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; {today’s Catholic Church} yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will

2Cor.10: [12] Not that we venture to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another, and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding

Eph.4:[18] they are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart; {the PRIDE of Life}

1Tim.1: [7] desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make assertions. [8] Now we know that the law {the Bible} is good, if any one uses it lawfully {as GOD intends}

2Tim.2:[7] Think over what I say, for the Lord will grant you understanding in everything.

Jas.3: [13] Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good life let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom

John 12: 48-49 He who rejects me and does not receive my sayings has a judge; the word that I have spoken will be his judge on the last day.  For I have not spoken on my own authority; the Father who sent me has himself given me commandment what to say and what to speak.”

John 10:16 “And other sheep I have, that are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd”

Eph. 2: 20-23 “Built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone: In whom all the building, [singular] being framed together, groweth up into a holy temple in the Lord. [singular] In whom you also are built together into a habitation of God in the Spirit.”

Eph.3:  9 to 12 “And to make all men see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; that through the church [Singular meaning THE Catholic Church]; the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose which he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confidence of access through our faith in him

John 5: 37 “And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness to me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen;  and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe him whom he has sentYou search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me; yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life [Speaking of accepting the entire WORD of GOD]. I do not receive glory from men. [Meaning disobedience is rampant!]  But I know that you have not the love of God within you.  I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me” [Obey Me!]


The Church that Morphed, continues to do so guided by our God.

 God Bless you!

 To Jesus THROUGH Mary


Bad Theology Bad Atheism By NICHOLAS FRANKOVICH

Bad Theology Bad Atheism


“Why is there anything rather than nothing?” Accept the question as a koan, not a challenge to debate, and you will have a mystical experience, although you may need to walk away from your screen, still your mind, and sit alone quietly in your room for a few minutes before the strange wonder that the question points to begins to register.

The “answer” to the question is not a proposition. It’s an experience — of astonishment, as you stop in your tracks before the inscrutable reality that things . . . exist, your own self being the thing you feel most keenly. You didn’t will yourself into existence. How did you get here? Look to your parents, and from there to their parents, and so on, back to . . . primordial dust? The Big  Bang? Bracket for a moment the question of what we should call the thing where that regression into the past comes to its final stop. Bracket the question of what the thing is exactly. That it was there, rather than not there — that’s the stubborn mystery.

Give a non-theistic cosmologist that one free miracle, the mystery of being, and he’ll explain the rest. The rest is what he’s interested in anyway. Those who dwell on the one free miracle, meanwhile, are liable to find that it never gets old, that it moves them on occasion to blurt, mentally or out loud, something like “Oh my God.”

Did someone say “God”? Here we go.

These days the most common arguments for atheism involve the assumption that God is an idealized imaginary person whose name Christians and other monotheists robotically plug in as the answer to the big ontological question, Why isn’t there nothing? Any theists who do that shouldn’t, and no atheist should accept them as spokespeople for what he thinks he’s arguing against, because they’re all too happy to join him in missing the point. The decline of sound popular theology is reflected in the poor quality of our atheism, which consists of a growing number of people rejecting an insufficiently thought-through understanding of God and thinking that’s that. A few polemical atheists may dumb down their understanding of God on purpose, to make their work easier, but I’m inclined to think that on the whole they’re sincere.

I give the benefit of the doubt to Peter Atterton, a professor of philosophy at San Diego State University. In an opinion piece in the New York Times on Monday, he runs through a list of attributes that philosophers over the centuries have speculated that God must possess.

Atterton asks whether God could make a rock heavier than He could lift. If He couldn’t, He wouldn’t be omnipotent. If He could, He still wouldn’t be omnipotent, because what He couldn’t do in that case was lift the rock. The paradox has been batted around over the centuries. The question at the heart of it, of course, is not about God but about omnipotence: Is the concept self-contradictory?

Top of Form

Bottom of Form

In Catholic elementary school, a classmate of mine posed that question to a priest once, about the rock. As I recall, the priest was respectful and patient as he answered the kid but slightly bemused. He and the kid were playing a certain game of catch, a practice so longstanding you could call it a tradition. You can imagine Thomas Aquinas and his students tossing that ball back and forth at the Angelicum or the Sorbonne in the 13th century.

Atterton takes up the question as his segue to a riff on theodicy, which many theists would agree is where a certain conventional understanding of God, as both all-good and almighty, becomes difficult to support. If God was able to create a world in which creatures had perfect free will but from which evil was absent, why didn’t He? The conflict between our understanding of the good and our experience of evil in everyday life — not just moral evil but also natural evil, the cancer that cuts short the life of a child, the storm that wipes out a seaside village — leads us to doubt God’s helpfulness to us. If you look for a God who arranged the events of human history so that the Holocaust never happened, you won’t find Him. If you look for a God who didn’t tell Abraham to kill his son, you won’t find that God either.


Insofar as Atterton reminds complacent theists that this problem persists, he performs a service, although most of his theist readers are probably already familiar with the Psalms or otherwise have grappled with the inescapable truth that God and evil are simultaneously real. As soon as we try to sketch the nature of God, we encounter difficulties and contradictions. Apophatic theology, based on the idea that the best we can do in this regard is specify what is not true of God, has the advantage of doing less than almost any other kind of theology does to obscure His mystery, by which I mean the mystery of being, the mystery that there is anything at all rather than nothing.

That’s the heart of the matter about God. If only those who believe they are atheists would address it with clear eyes and without rancor. Their case against “the God of faith” is usually clear. Their case against “the God of the philosophers” suffers from a failure to engage the ontological question head-on and stems, as far as I can tell, from an incomplete understanding of “God” as a philosophical term, which is a placeholder. God’s name is not “God.” “I Am Who Am” is. I wrote about this several years ago

End Quotes

 The Church that Morphed

Another: I AM A Catholic Lesson

This part assembled by Patrick Miron


From the late Middle Ages to the Reformation

The most decisive–and the most traumatic–era in the entire history of Roman Catholicism was the period from the middle of the 14th to the middle of the 16th century. This was the time when Protestantism, through its definitive break with Roman Catholicism, arose to take its place on the Christian map. It was as well the period during which the Roman Catholic Church, as an entity distinct from other “branches” of Christendom, even of Western Christendom, came into being. There is therefore much to be said for the thesis that Roman Catholicism in the form in which it is known today is, in many fundamental ways, a product of the Reformation.

Late medieval reform: the Great Western Schism and conciliarism

Reformation of the church and the papacy was what the advocates of a return of the papacy from Avignon to Rome had in mind. In the pope’s absence, both the ecclesiastical and the territorial authority of the papacy had deteriorated within Italy itself, and the moral and spiritual authority of the papacy was in jeopardy throughout Christian Europe. This condition, so many believed, would continue and even worsen so long as the papacy remained in Avignon . Pope Urban V (reigned 1362-70) attempted to reestablish the papacy in Rome in 1367, but after a stay of only three years he returned to Avignon , only to die soon after his return. It was finally Gregory XI (reigned 1370-78) who, in 1377, permanently moved the papal headquarters back to Rome ; but he died only a few months later. The immediate result of the return to Rome was the very opposite of the restoration of confidence and credibility that, for differing reasons, the prophetic voices and the political calculations of the 14th century had predicted would come from it. For not only had the church during its residence in Avignon come under the political and religious domination of France, which resisted the repatriation of the papacy to Italy, but the weakness of the papacy in Avignon had enabled the college of cardinals and the papal bureaucracy to fill the administrative vacuum by developing a pattern of government that can only be described as oligarchic. The powers that the cardinals had succeeded in appropriating were difficult for the centralized authority of the papacy, whether in Avignon or in Rome , to reclaim for itself.

Meeting in Rome for the first time in nearly a century, the college of cardinals elected Pope Urban VI (reigned 1378-89). But his desire to reassert the monarchical powers of the papacy, as well as his evident mental illness, prompted the cardinals to renege on that choice later in the same year. In his stead they elected Clement VII (reigned 1378-94), who soon thereafter took up residence back in Avignon . (This Clement VII is officially listed as an antipope, and the name was later taken by another pope, Clement VII [reigned 1523-34].) The years from 1378 to 1417 count as the time of the Great Western Schism, so identified to distinguish it from the no less great East-West Schism. The Great Western Schism divided the loyalties of Western Christendom between two popes, each of whom excommunicated the other and all of the other’s followers. In the conflict between them, kingdoms, dioceses, religious orders, parishes, even families were split; and the pretensions of a church that claimed to be, as the Nicene Creed said, “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic” were seen as a mockery, since the empirical church–whichever it was–was in fact none of these. No one could be absolutely certain about the validity of the sacraments if the integrity and very unity of the church, and therefore of the episcopate, and therefore of the priesthood, were in doubt. Speaking for a broad consensus, the University of Paris proposed three alternatives for resolving the crisis of the institution, which had now become, for laity and clergy alike, a crisis of faith: resignation by both popes, with the election of a single unchallenged successor; adjudication of the dispute between the two popes by some independent tribunal; or appeal to an ecumenical council, which would function as a supreme court with jurisdiction over both claimants.

The third of these, the summoning of a general church council, seemed to the theologians at Paris and to many others to be the preferable route. The first of several reform councils was held at Pisa in 1409 to deal with the schism and with the many other problems of discipline and doctrine that had arisen. Pisa elected Alexander V (reigned 1409-10) as pope in place of both incumbents. But, because neither of the other two would acknowledge the authority of the council and resign, the immediate result was that for a few years, as one cardinal said, the church was treated to “a simulacrum { simulacrum noun :

something that looks like or represents something else} of the Holy Trinity”–the spectacle of three popes. That spectacle and the Great Western Schism itself came to an end through the work of the Council of Constance (1414-18). In addition to the settlement of the question of papal legitimacy, Constance enacted legislation on a variety of reform issues. Among others it stipulated that thenceforth, as a matter of church law, the church council was not to be seen as an expedient to be resorted to in an emergency but as a standing legislative body, a kind of ecclesiastical senate that should meet at brief and regular intervals. The decree of the Council of Constance justified this provision on the principle that the authority of the ecumenical council as the true representative of the entire church was superior to that of the pope, who could not make a similar claim for himself apart from the council. In oversimplified form, this elevation of conciliar over papal authority may be taken as the central tenet of the late medieval movement called conciliarism.

This action also helps to account for the ambiguous position of the Council of Constance in the history of later Roman Catholic canon law, with opinions of canonists and historians differing to this day about which sessions of the council are entitled to the status of a true ecumenical council. An ambiguity even more complex attended the next of the reform councils, which used to be known in history books as the Council of Basel-Ferrara-Florence but is now sometimes divided into two councils, that of Basel and that of Ferrara-Florence, with the legitimacy of the Council of Basel contested in whole or at least in part. The council opened at Basel in 1431, was transferred by the pope to Ferrara in 1438 (although a substantial portion of its membership remained in Basel , continued discussing and legislating, and was eventually excommunicated as schismatic), moved to Florence in 1439, and held its closing sessions at Rome in 1443-45. While still at Basel , the council reaffirmed the conciliarist teaching of Constance about the superiority of the council to the pope.

Both the Council of Constance and the Council of Florence have additional importance in the history of late medieval reform in Roman Catholicism: Constance for dealing with the problem of heresy within the Western Church, Florence for addressing itself to the relation of Western Roman Catholicism to Eastern Christendom.

Jan Hus

A major item on the agenda of the Council of Constance was the challenge posed to the authority of contending parties, council as well as pope, by the teachings of the Czech preacher and reformer Jan Hus (c. 1372-1415) in Prague. In every century of the Middle Ages there had been calls for reform in the church, and in times of moral corruption or of administrative chaos such calls inevitably became more intense. But the Hussite movement proved to be more than just another protest. It was animated by a definition of the church, rooted in the Augustinian tradition that drew a sharp distinction, if not quite a disjunction, between institutional Christendom as headed by the pope and the true church as headed by Christ. The true church consisted only of those who had been predestined for membership by God and who were true believers and saints; no hypocrite, even one in the highest ecclesiastical position, could belong to that true church.

Despite the accusations of his critics, it seems clear that Hus did not draw from this premise the radical conclusion that sacraments administered by a hypocritical priest or bishop or pope were invalid in themselves; the priestly office and the sacraments retained their objective validity. A prominent element of the Hussite demands, however, was a call for the administration of Holy Communion to the laity “under both kinds–bread and wine–[sub utraque specie],” that is, they demanded the restoration of the chalice; the followers of Hus emblazoned a chalice on their banners. The Hussite program of reform coalesced with the rising nationalism of the Czech people, many of whom saw in the Roman Catholic Church a symbol of Italian and German domination.

In 1411 Hus was excommunicated by Pope John XXIII (reigned 1410-15), now identified as an antipope, but in keeping with the widespread spirit of conciliarism he appealed his case to an ecumenical council of the church. Therefore he was summoned to appear before the Council of Constance and was promised a safe-conduct by Sigismund (1368-1437), the Holy Roman emperor. Once at the council, however, Hus was arrested and incarcerated. He was tried for heresy (particularly because of his doctrine of the church) and condemned, and on July 6, 1415 , he was put to death. His main prosecutors were also the leaders of the reform movement at the Council of Constance, notably Jean de Gerson (1363-1429), chancellor of the University of Paris . The death of Hus was not, however, the end of his movement. A principal difference between Hus and most other medieval reformers was that while they and their followers remained (though sometimes just barely) within the boundaries of Roman Catholicism, the outcome of his agitation was in fact the founding of a new church, one that continued to exist outside the structure of Roman Catholicism. In this respect, as well as in various specific doctrinal and moral teachings, he anticipated the development of the Protestant Reformation a century later, and his 16th-century disciples saw that development as a vindication of his and their position.

Efforts to heal the East-West Schism

At Basel , and then especially at Florence , there were extensive negotiations and discussions over the newly revived proposals for effecting a reunion of the Eastern Orthodox Church and Western Roman Catholicism. Earlier attempts at such a reunion, for example at the Council of Lyon in 1274, had failed. But now the time seemed ripe on both sides for a new effort at negotiation and reconciliation. Christian Constantinople was under increasing threat from the Turks and wanted Western support, moral as well as military. Leaders of the West, regardless of party, saw the prospect of achieving a long-sought rapprochement with the East as a means of restoring the prestige of both the papacy and the ecumenical council, which could then be seen as having resolved both of the major schisms of Christian history–the Great Western Schism and the East-West Schism–in the space of one generation. The patriarch of Constantinople, Joseph II (c. 1360-1439), and the Byzantine emperor, John VIII Palaeologus (1391-1448), both came in person to the Council of Florence for the theological negotiations pointing toward reunion of the two churches.

In the course of the doctrinal discussions between Greeks and Latins all the major points of difference that had historically separated the two churches received detailed attention. The Greeks acknowledged the primacy of the pope, and the West acknowledged the right of the East to ordain married men into the priesthood. The chief sticking point, as always, was the doctrine of the Filioque: Did the Holy Spirit in the Trinity proceed from the Father only, as the East taught, or “from the Father and the Son [ex Patre Filioque],” as the Western addition to the text of the Nicene Creed affirmed? At stake here was not only the dogmatic Trinitarian question itself, over which the disputes between the Latins and the Greeks had been raging since the 9th century, but the authority of one part of the church, viz., the Roman Catholic Church, to make an alteration in the text of an ecumenical creed through unilateral action, that is, without the sanction of a truly ecumenical council representing the entire church. Almost all those present at Florence came to an agreement that the dispute over the Filioque was chiefly one of words, not of content, since it could be amply documented that both versions of the doctrine of the procession of the Holy Spirit had substantial attestation from the teachings of the Church Fathers in both churches. Agreement on the Filioque and on all other points at issue led to the adoption of a document of union, Laetentur Coeli, promulgated on July 6, 1439 (and still commemorated in a plaque on the wall of the Duomo in Florence ). But the reunion came too late for both sides. It was repudiated in the East, both at Constantinople and in the other Orthodox churches, notably the Church of Russia ; and it was soon evident that in the West the internal problems of the church and the papacy had not been laid to rest by this temporary victory. Once again, as so many times throughout Christian history, the reunion of the Eastern and the Western Churches proved to have been a dead letter and an unattainable goal.

The age of Reformation and Counter-Reformation

The specter of many national churches supplanting a unitary Catholic Church became a grim reality during the age of the Reformation. What neither heresy nor schism had been able to do before–to divide Western Christendom permanently and irreversibly–was done by a movement that confessed a loyalty to the orthodox creeds of Christendom and professed abhorrence for schism. By the time the Reformation was over, Roman Catholicism had become something different from what it had been in the early centuries or even in the later Middle Ages.

Roman Catholicism and the Protestant Reformation

Whatever its nonreligious causes may have been, the Protestant Reformation arose within Roman Catholicism; there both its positive accomplishments and its negative effects had their roots. The standing of the church within the political order and the class structure of western Europe had been irrevocably altered in the course of the later Middle Ages. Thus the most extravagant claims put forward for the political authority of the church and the papacy, as formulated by Pope Boniface VIII (reigned 1294-1303), had come just at the time when such authority was in fact rapidly declining. By the time Protestantism arose to challenge the spiritual authority of the papacy, therefore, there was no longer any way to invoke that political authority against the challenge. The medieval class structure, too, had undergone fundamental and drastic changes with the rise of the bourgeoisie throughout western Europe; it is not a coincidence that in northern Europe and Britain the middle class was to become the principal bulwark of the Protestant opposition to Roman Catholicism. The traditional Roman Catholic prohibition of any lending of money at interest as “usury,” the monastic glorification of poverty as an ascetic ideal, and the Roman Catholic system of holidays as times when no work was to be done were all seen by the rising merchant class as obstacles to financial development.

Accompanying these sociopolitical forces in the crisis of late medieval Roman Catholicism were spiritual and theological factors that also helped to bring on the Protestant Reformation. By the end of the 15th century there was a widely-held impression that the resources for church reform within Roman Catholicism had been tried and found wanting: the papacy refused to reform itself, the councils had not succeeded in bringing about lasting change, and the professional theologians were more interested in scholastic debates than in the nurture of genuine Christian faith and life. Such sentiments were often oversimplified and exaggerated, but their very currency made them a potent influence even when they were mistaken (and they were not always mistaken). The financial corruption and pagan immorality within Roman Catholicism, even at the highest levels, reminded critics of “the abomination of desolation” spoken of by the prophet Daniel, and nothing short of a thoroughgoing “reformation in head and members [in capite et membris]” seemed to be called for.

These demands were in themselves nothing new, but the Protestant Reformation took place when they coincided with, and found dramatic expression in, the highly personal struggle of one medieval Roman Catholic. Martin Luther asked an essentially medieval question: “How do I obtain a God who is merciful to me?” He also tried a medieval answer to that question by becoming a monk and by subjecting himself to fasting and discipline–but all to no avail. The answer that he eventually did find, the conviction that God was merciful not because of anything that the sinner could do but because of a freely given grace that was received by faith alone (the doctrine of justification by faith), was not utterly without precedent in the Roman Catholic theological tradition; but in the form in which Luther stated it there appeared to be a fundamental threat to Catholic teaching and sacramental life. And in his treatise The Babylonian Captivity of the Church, issued in 1520, Luther denounced the entire system of medieval Christendom as an unwarranted human invention foisted on the church.

Although Luther in his opposition to the practice of selling indulgences was unsparing in his attacks upon the moral, financial, and administrative abuses within Roman Catholicism, using his mastery of the German language to denounce them, he insisted throughout his life that the primary object of his critique was not the life but the doctrine of the church, not the corruption of the ecclesiastical structure but the distortion of the gospel. The late medieval mass was “a dragon’s tail,” not because it was liturgically unsound but because the medieval definition of the mass as a sacrifice offered by the church to God–not only, as Luther believed, as a means of grace granted by God to the church–jeopardized the uniqueness of the unrepeatable sacrifice of Christ on Calvary. The cult of the Virgin Mary and of the saints diminished the office of Christ as the sole mediator between God and the human race. Thus the pope was the Antichrist because he represented and enforced a substitute religion in which the true church, the bride of Christ, had been replaced by–and identified with–an external juridical institution that laid claim to the obedience due to God himself. When, after repeated warnings, Luther refused such obedience, he was excommunicated by Pope Leo X in 1521.

Until his excommunication Luther had gone on regarding himself as a loyal Roman Catholic and had appealed “from a poorly informed Pope to a Pope who ought to be better informed.” He had, moreover, retained an orthodox Roman Catholic perspective on most of the corpus of Christian doctrine, not only the Trinity and the two natures in the person of Christ but baptismal regeneration and the Real Presence of the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist. Many of the other Protestant Reformers who arose during the 16th century were considerably less conservative in their doctrinal stance, distancing themselves from Luther’s position no less than from the Roman Catholic one. Thus Luther’s Swiss opponent, Ulrich Zwingli, lumped Luther’s sacramental teaching with the medieval one, and Luther in turn exclaimed: “Better to hold with the papists than with you!” John Calvin was considerably more moderate than Zwingli, but both sacramentally and liturgically he broke with the Roman Catholic tradition. The Anglican Reformation strove to retain the historical episcopate and, particularly under Queen Elizabeth I, steered a middle course, liturgically and even doctrinally, between Roman Catholicism and continental Protestantism.

The polemical Roman Catholic accusation–which the mainline Reformers vigorously denied–that these various species of conservative Protestantism, with their orthodox dogmas and quasi-Catholic forms, were a pretext for the eventual rejection of most of traditional Christianity, seemed to be confirmed with the emergence of the radical Reformation. The Anabaptists, as their name indicated, were known for their practice of “rebaptizing” those who had received the sacrament of baptism as infants; this was, at its foundation, a redefinition of the nature of the church, which they saw not as the institution allied with the state and embracing good and wicked members but as the community of true believers who had accepted the cost of Christian discipleship by a free personal decision. Although the Anabaptists, in their doctrines of God and Christ, retained the historical orthodoxy of the Nicene Creed while rejecting the orthodox doctrines of church and sacraments, those Protestants who went on to repudiate orthodox Trinitarianism as part of their Reformation claimed to be carrying out, more consistently than either Luther and Calvin or the Anabaptists had done, the full implications of the rejection of Roman Catholicism, which they all had in common.

The challenge of the Protestant Reformation became also the occasion for a resurgent Roman Catholicism to clarify and to reaffirm Roman Catholic principles; that endeavor had, in one sense, never been absent from the life and teaching of the church, but it came out now with new force. As the varieties of Protestantism proliferated, the apologists for Roman Catholicism pointed to the Protestant principle of the right of the private interpretation of Scripture as the source of this confusion. Against the Protestant elevation of the Scripture to the position of sole authority, they emphasized that Scripture and church tradition were inseparable and always had been. Pressing that point further, they denounced justification by faith alone and other cherished Protestant teachings as novelties without grounding in authentic church tradition. And they warned that the doctrine of “faith alone, without works” as taught by Luther would sever the moral nerve and remove all incentive for holy living.

Yet these negative reactions to Protestantism were not by any means the only, perhaps not even the primary, form of participation by Roman Catholicism in the history of the Reformation. The emergence of the Protestant phenomenon did not exhaust the reformatory impulse within Roman Catholicism, nor can it be seen as the sole inspiration for Catholic reform. Rather, to a degree that has usually been overlooked by Protestant historians and that has often been ignored even by Roman Catholic historians, there was a distinct historical movement in the 16th century that can only be identified as the Roman Catholic Reformation.

The Roman Catholic Reformation

The Council of Trent

The most important single event in that movement was almost certainly the Council of Trent, which met intermittently in 25 sessions between 1545 and 1563. The bitter experiences of the late medieval papacy with the conciliarism of the 15th century made the popes of the 16th century wary of any so-called reform council, for which many were clamoring. After several false starts, however, the council was finally summoned, and it opened on Dec. 13, 1545. The legislation of the Council of Trent enacted the formal (and apparently final) Roman Catholic reply to the doctrinal challenges of the Protestant Reformation and thus represents the official adjudication of many questions about which there had been continuing ambiguity throughout the early church and the Middle Ages. The either/or doctrines of the Protestant Reformers–justification by faith alone, the authority of Scripture alone–were anathematized, in the name of a both/and doctrine of justification by faith and works on the basis of the authority of Scripture and tradition; and the privileged standing of the Latin Vulgate was reaffirmed, against Protestant insistence upon the original Hebrew and Greek texts of Scripture.

No less important for the development of modern Roman Catholicism, however, was the legislation of Trent aimed at reforming–and at re-forming–the internal life and discipline of the church. Two of its most far-reaching provisions were the requirement that every diocese provide for the proper education of its future clergy in seminaries under church auspices and the requirement that the clergy and especially the bishops should give more attention to the task of preaching. The financial abuses that had been so flagrant in the church at all levels were brought under control, and stricter rules were set requiring the residency of bishops in their dioceses. In place of the liturgical chaos that had prevailed, the council laid down specific prescriptions about the form of the mass and liturgical music. What emerged from the Council of Trent, therefore, was a chastened but consolidated church and papacy, the Roman Catholicism of modern history.

First period

Origin and Development of the Church in the ancient Græco-Roman world (from the birth of Christ to the close of the seventh century).

  • (a) First Epoch: Foundation, expansion and formation of the Churchdespite the oppression of the pagan-Roman state (from Christ to the Edict of Milan, 313).
  • (b) Second Epoch: The Churchin close connexion with the Christian-Roman Empire (from theEdict of Milan to the Trullan Synod, 692).

Second period

The Church as the guide of the Western nations (from the close of the seventh century to the beginning of the sixteenth).

Third period

The Church after the collapse of the religious unity in the West, struggle against heresy and infidelity, expansion in non-European countries (from beginning of sixteenth century to our own age).

As regards the methodical treatment of the subject-matter within the principal divisions, most writers endeavour to treat the main phases of the internal and external history of the Church in such a manner as to secure a logical arrangement throughout each period. Deviations from this method are only exceptional, as when Darras treats each pontificate separately. This latter method is, however, somewhat too mechanical and superficial, and in the case of lengthy periods it becomes difficult to retain a clear grasp of the facts and to appreciate their interconnexion. Recent writers, therefore, aim at such a division of the matter within the different periods as will lay more stress on the importantforms and expressions of ecclesiastical life (Moeller, Muller, Kirsch in his revision of Hergenröther). The larger periods are divided into a number of shorter epochs, in each of which the most important event or situation in the history of the Church stands out with distinctness, other phases ofecclesiastical life — including the ecclesiastical history of the individual countries — being treated in connexion with this central subject. The subject-matter of each period thus receives a treatment at once chronological and logical, and most in keeping with the historical development of the events portrayed. The narrative gains in lucidity and artistic finish, within the shorter periods the historicalmaterial is more easily grasped, while the active forces in all great movements appear in bolder relief. It is true that this method involves a certain inequality in the treatment of the various phases of ecclesiastical life, but the same inequality already existed in the historical situation described.


We speak here of those sources which rest on mere tradition, and which, unlike the remains, are themselves no part of the fact. They are:

  • (1) Collections of acts of the martyrs, of legends and lives of the saints.
  • (2) Collections of lives of the popes(Liber Pontificalis) and of bishops of particular Churches.
  • (3) Works of ecclesiasticalwriters, which contain information about historical events; to some extent all ecclesiastical literature belongs to this category.
  • (4) Ecclesiastico-historical works, which take on more or less the character of sources, especially for the time in which their authors lived.
  • (5) Pictorial representations (paintings, sculptures, etc.).

And so we end this tour of our Catholic Church History. My motive as I begin this project was to provide ample historical evidence of the existence of the Roman Catholic Church, long before the emergence of Constantine.

How the Protestant community can overlook the abundant historical evidence of both our existence and the many contributions made by the “Body-Catholic” over the centuries is remarkable.

For them to gloss over this secular history, and not be able to recognize that their distorted faiths [plural] must in an absolute sense stem from and flow through todays Catholic Church, who must rightly be credited with “birthing the Bible” they claim to believe, yet are unable in many places to be able to actually correctly comprehend, {Mt 10:1-8, Mt 16: 15-19, John 17:17-20, Mt. 28:18-20 and John 6:47-58 * John 20:19-23} as examples, provides ample evidence of their collective inability to actually GET, what Christ Taught.!


Blogged 03/30/2019

The Secret to Finding Answers When Looking in the Mirror: reblogged

The Secret to Finding Answers When Looking in the Mirror

This priestly advice given to John Clark on his wedding day changed what he saw in the mirror. Try it and you may never look at a mirror the same way again.

Shortly before Lisa and I were married, a priest friend of mine told me something I will never forget. He said, “John, you are about to start your dream job, and you are about to marry your dream girl. But there will come a day when you look in the mirror and ask yourself, ‘Is this all there is?’” I didn’t quite know what to say. And then he started talking about some other topic, but my mind stayed focused on his rather dour, depressing, and dysphoric prediction. So I interrupted him and said, “Father, what then? What gets you through those times?”

The priest made me wait for the answer, and so, dear reader, I’m going to make you wait for a minute or two as well. In the meantime, I’m going make a few observations about life and mirrors in the ensuing quarter-century after that conversation.Let’s talk about a few reasons why you might find yourself in front of a mirror asking that question.First, some people will let you down. You will count on them—friends, brothers, priests, husband or wife—but they’ll let you down anyway. Maybe they just forgot. Maybe they tried but failed. Maybe they can’t tell how hard you’ve been trying.Maybe they don’t understand how much you are suffering without their encouragement. Maybe they don’t know how to help. Maybe they didn’t know how important it was to you. And those are the people who like you! Others will dislike you for reasons you will never know.Second, there is no “dream job.” The expression “dream job” should be stricken from the lexicon. Yes, I’ve had some jobs that I enjoyed more than others. I’ve worked in professions that are more rewarding than others. But as far as dreams go, mostly I’ve dreamed about going home after work. (Happily, there are dream girls, as the past twenty-five years have also confirmed.)Third, the more good you do, the more you’re going to be oppressed for it. Take a few minutes and think back on your life—on all those times that you made a sincere effort to be more virtuous and/or to overcome some sinful habit.

In the words of the Act of Contrition, think back on the times you really meant the words “to amend my life.” It is as though a memo went out in Hell: “This guy is serious about amending his life and staying on the road to Heaven; let’s throw up some roadblocks.”

If your family decides to start saying the Rosary every night at 7PM, neighbors will unexpectedly drop by, people will call on the phone at 6:59, or your dog will start barking for no apparent reason after the first Our Father. Roadblocks are going up.

You’ve made a sincere effort to stop talking about the topic of politics because, whenever you do, you wind up saying something uncharitable to someone. The next day, you’ll be at supermarket grabbing some milk, and all of a sudden, you find yourself baited into a political conversation. Roadblocks are going up.

Worst of all, the people who love you most will say unkind things that seem very out of place for them. You’re really trying to be better, but their comment will really hurt. Then a temptation will present itself when you’ve been weakened by these unkind words. Roadblocks are going up.

These are some of the things that send you to mirrors with interrogatives.

Well, you’ve been patient. So now, here is Father’s answer, which consisted of one word: grace. God grants us actual graces to help us overcome life’s difficulties and grow closer to Him in the process. As Rev. John Arintero wrote, “Grace makes the rough smooth, the heavy light, the bitter sweet, the difficult easy.”

By our baptism, God grants us the essential perfection of sanctifying grace in our souls, and if we lose that grace through sin, we must spare no effort to get it back. Each and every soul in the state of sanctifying grace is a child of God and has an indwelling of the Blessed Trinity.

Saint Augustine poetically says that in this life, we cannot see God as He truly is; when we try to see God, it is as though we are looking through a darkly lit mirror. When you look in the mirror, you might struggle to see this Divine Indwelling, but the choirs of Heaven view your soul in the state of grace for what it is: a treasure and pleasure to behold because of that Divine indwelling.

And once you begin to recognize that—one you begin to appreciate that—you will never look at a mirror the same way again. And you’ll no longer find questions. Only answers.


End Quotes

The Church that Morphed … Another: I AM A Catholic Lesson This part assembled by Patrick Miron


The Church that Morphed

So what’s up with non-Catholics-lack of understanding?

Another: I AM A Catholic Lesson

This part assembled by Patrick Miron



The Crusades

The authority of the papacy and the relative decline of the empire also became clear in the unforeseen emergence of the Crusades as a major preoccupation of Europe . The papacy had been stirred more than once by the disasters befalling Eastern Christians, such as their defeats by the Seljuq Turks at Manzikert (1071) and Antioch (1085) in Asia Minor , when the Byzantine emperor Alexius I appealed for help to Pope Urban II. Although this appeal may have been the decisive motive for the Crusade, there were obvious advantages in diverting the Normans of Sicily and other turbulent warriors from Europe to wage a sacred war elsewhere. Urban’s celebrated call to the Crusade at Clermont (France) in 1095 was unexpectedly effective, placing the pope at the head of a large army of volunteers. Even though the capture of Jerusalem (1099) and the establishment of a Latin kingdom in Palestine were balanced by disasters and quarrels, the papacy had gained greatly in prestige. Though Germany as a whole had remained aloof, a pope had for the first time stood out as the leader of a European endeavor. The Crusades, with their combination of idealism, ambition, heroism, cruelty, and folly are a medieval phenomenon and, as such, outside modern man’s experience. But they were part of the religious background for two centuries and added greatly to the anxieties, both spiritual and financial, of the papacy.

The church of the late Middle Ages

The Proto-Renaissance

The 12th century, or, more correctly, the century 1050-1150, has been called the first Renaissance. A more accurate title would be the adolescence of Europe , in which higher education, techniques of thought and speech, and a fresh attack upon the old problems of philosophy and theology appeared for the first time in postclassical Europe . All these activities were carried out by clerics and controlled by churchmen. The focus of educational activity was the cathedral school, and the new agent of instruction was the semiprofessional, unattached teacher, such as the French philosopher-theologians Berengarius, Roscelin, and Abelard, though monks such as Lanfranc, Anselm of Canterbury, and Hugh and Richard of the Monastery of St. Victor, Paris, still had a share.

Philosophy was revived through the development of logic and dialectic, which were applied to doctrines of the faith, either as formal exercises, Augustinian speculation, or critical reformulation. From 1100 onward theology, in the modern sense of the word (first used by Abelard), emerged. The teachings of Scripture and of the early Church Fathers on the various doctrines were consolidated and organized in works called Sentences. The first handbook of theology was composed by Abelard. Finally, Peter Lombard (bishop c. 1159) published his Four Books of Sentences, which summarized the Christian faith, using the sic-et-non(yes-and-no) dialectic popularized by Abelard and the canon lawyers, and he also pronounced on vexing questions. His classic manual may be said, in modern terms, to have created the syllabus of theological study for the age that followed. Together with the expansion of logic–brought about by the arrival (through Muslim sources) of what was called the new logic of Aristotle–and the emergence of the university, the Sentences ended the era of literary, humanistic, and monastic culture and opened that of the formal, impersonal, Scholastic age.

The papacy at its height: the 12th and 13th centuries

Gregory VII has often been portrayed as an innovator who lacked both authentic ancestors and true successors. It must be affirmed, nonetheless, that the later history of the papacy, modern as well as medieval, was shaped by what he and his followers did, while the continuing disabilities characteristic of the medieval papacy owed much to what they left undone. Thus, the assimilation of the biblical notion of church office as grounded in love for others to the political notions of office as grounded in power and law–a development in process since the 4th century and earlier–reached a point of no return with Gregory. He functioned within a unified Christian society in which “state” and “church” were no longer conceived as distinct societal entities and was thus impelled by its very dynamic to assert a claim to jurisdictional supremacy even over the Christian emperor. For the next two centuries papal history was characterized by a deepening involvement, direct and indirect, in matters political. As a result there were, under Alexander III (reigned 1159-81) and Innocent IV (reigned 1243-54), renewed clashes with the German emperors and, under Innocent III (reigned 1198-1216), extensive and damaging papal interference in German internal affairs. What alarmed these popes was the fear that imperial policy, by encroaching upon papal territorial independence, also threatened the autonomy of papal action. But with Innocent IV, at least, such a fear was matched by his wish to vindicate, even in temporal matters, the papal claim to supremacy.

Though much of the drama of papal history in this period focused upon these conflicts, the impact that the thoroughgoing politicization of church office had upon the nature and structure of ecclesiastical government and the pope’s place in it was of more enduring significance. Here again Gregory’s pontificate was something of a watershed. Any lingering belief that the pope’s primacy might be regarded primarily as one of honor was now dispelled, and any hesitation about implementing the jurisdictional primacy that had supplanted it now disappeared. The need for papal leadership was so widely accepted that throughout much of the 12th and 13th centuries the demand for it came from the local churches themselves. The outcome was an acceleration in the process that had led, by the late 13th century, to a papal exercise of judicial authority going far beyond the mere acceptance of appeals from lower courts; to an arrogation of the wide-ranging legislative powers manifest in the Decretals of Gregory IX (1234), the first officially promulgated collection of papal laws; and to the system of “papal provisions” (direct papal intervention in the disposal of benefices) that was finally to be completed by Benedict XII in 1335.

Papal leadership in the church was eventually replaced by papal monarchy over the church. Positively, this transformation was evident in the reforming legislation of the fourth Lateran Council (1215). The negative aspect was to become increasingly obvious as the 13th century wore on. It was no accident that what turned out to be the permanent schism between the Latin and Greek churches occurred at a time when Leo IX had embarked upon a more active exercise of the papal primacy. The more his successors succeeded in establishing the fullness of their jurisdictional power (plenitudo potestatis) within the Latin Church, the less chance there was of healing the schism. Nor did papal sponsorship of the Crusades, however great the prestige it had brought to Urban II at the time of the First Crusade, ultimately redound to the benefit of the religious life of the church.

Least justified of all was the administrative centralization attendant upon the exercise of the plenitudo potestatis when it was finally measured against the price that had to be paid–notably the corruption spawned by the stringent financial measures (e.g., sale of indulgences, benefices, etc.) needed to support the growing army of clerical bureaucrats at Rome. And on this point one of the things left undone by the Gregorian reformers proved to be crucial. Their failure to uproot the notion of the “proprietary church” explains both the willingness of later canonists to classify the laws governing the disposition of ecclesiastical benefices under the heading not of public but of private law (law pertaining to the protection of proprietary right) and also the tendency of medieval persons in general to regard ecclesiastical office less as a focus of duty than as a source of income or an object of proprietary right. When the 13th-century popes found that direct papal taxation did not yield funds sufficient to support their bureaucrats, they adopted the practice of “providing” them to benefices all over Europe , for the law itself encouraged them to think of such benefices as sources of much needed revenue. Thus arose the characteristic abuses of pluralism (holding more than one benefice) and non -residence against which church reformers from the mid-13th century on railed in vain and the blame for which they were soon to lay at the door of a papacy that had finally come to be regarded as an obstacle rather than a spur to reform.

The age of faith

Below the level of the papacy, however, a spiritual revival had taken place. The 12th century, perhaps more than any other, was an age of faith in the sense that all men, good or bad, pious or worldly, were fundamentally believers, and religious causes and interests (crusades, monastic foundations, building churches, and assisting education and charities) made up much of the life of the literate and administrative classes. Lay religion was, as never before or since, permeated with monastic ideals. Prodigious numbers of the populace became monks, knights (members of military-religious orders), laborers (lay brothers), and lay people who followed monastic rules, and the favorite lay devotions were short versions of monastic offices. Almost every church–whether cathedral, monastic, parochial, or private–was built or rebuilt between 1050 and 1200. Almost all baronial families founded a monastery, and townspeople not only paid for their cathedrals but often supplied materials and labor.

The pontificate of Innocent III saw the appearance of a totally new form of religious life, that of the penniless or mendicant friar. Francis of Assisi (1181/82-1226), a personality of magnetic originality who believed that he was called by Christ to preach poverty, had no thought of founding an order; but his message and his genius exactly suited his age, and the vast concourse of his followers gradually changed from a homeless, penniless band of preachers and missionaries in Italy into an international body governed by a single general and devoted to the service of the papacy. Dominic of Spain (c. 1170-1221), on the other hand, with a vocation to preach doctrine to heretics and with followers keeping a canonical rule, changed his existing institute into one of friars. Gradually the two groups became similar: international, articulated groups of men bound to an order but not to a community. They took the customary monastic vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience but dropped the vow of stabilitas (stability) in favor of mobility, and they were governed by elected superiors under a supreme chapter and general. Unpredictably, first the Dominicans and then the Franciscans entered and soon dominated the theological schools of Paris and Oxford . Two similar bodies joined them, the Carmelites and Austin Friars, and for almost a century the friars were the theologians, the preachers, and the confessors of the Christian people.

The rise of heresy

Before the middle of the 12th century heresy on a large scale was unknown in the West. The early dissenters were often radical reformers such as the Italian canon Arnold of Brescia (d. 1155), an outspoken critic of clerical wealth and corruption. Then there appeared in northern Italy and southern France the sect, Eastern and Manichaean in origin, later known as the Cathari (the “pure,” from the ascetic lives of their leaders). This sect had an organization and liturgical life that imitated Christianity; but it overtly denied many key doctrines, such as the incarnation of Christ, and was dualistic in that it regarded matter and the human body as evil and the spirit as good. Its emphasis on poverty and its genuine solidarity of mutual assistance appealed to many by contrast with the luxury and wealth of the Catholic hierarchy. A little later another type of dissent appeared with the Waldenses (founded by a French reformer named Valdes) of the Rhône Valley and Piedmont . These groups, basically and professedly orthodox, together with the reform-minded Humiliati of Lombardy ( Italy ), practiced poverty, Scripture reading, and preaching. The Cathari were proscribed as heretics by the papacy and were attacked by a crusade and later by the Inquisition, and they gradually disappeared. The Humiliati remained orthodox as a quasi-religious order. The Waldenses, largely through mismanagement by the bishops, drifted away from the church and remained throughout the Middle Ages and after a non-Catholic body. These heretical movements, together with numerous legal disputes between monks and bishops, and bishops and metropolitans (ecclesiastical provincial leaders), imparted a sense of decline and peril to the last decades of the 12th century, which were notably barren of saints and great men. The church was too rich and too set in its hierarchical ways to meet the demands of larger populations and economic stresses, especially in urban conditions. Reformers demanded a spirit of poverty and a fresh wind of spirituality.

The golden age of Scholasticism

The 13th century was an age of fresh endeavor and splendid maturity in the realms of thought, theology, and art. Philosophy, hitherto almost exclusively devoted to logic and dialectic, had stagnated in the later 12th century. It was revived by the gradual arrival from Spain and Sicily of translations of the whole corpus of Aristotle’s writings, often accompanied by Arabic and Jewish commentaries and treatises. Aristotle, especially in his Metaphysics and Ethics, opened the whole field of philosophy to the schools. After a short period of hesitation his works were used by theologians, at first eclectically and then systematically. The great German philosopher and theologian Albert of Cologne (known as Albertus Magnus) and his more famous pupil Thomas Aquinas rethought the system of Aristotle in Christian idiom, pouring into it a fair dose of Neoplatonism from St. Augustine . Aquinas, in some 25 years of work, set theology firmly on a philosophical foundation. The Italian theologian Bonaventure (1217-74), in an even shorter career, renewed the traditional approach of Augustine and the Victorine monks regarding theology as the guide of the soul to the vision of God. At the same time masters in the arts school of Paris used Aristotelian thought to present a naturalistic system that clashed with orthodox teaching. The condemnations that ensued in 1272 and 1277, coinciding with the deaths of Bonaventure and Aquinas (1274), included some Thomist theses. This apparent victory of conservatism ended the long era in which Greek thought was regarded as right reason and foreshadowed the age of individual systems and the divorce of philosophy from theology.

Ecclesiastical life in the 13th century

The coming of the friars and the legislation of the fourth Lateran Council in Rome (1215)–including requirements of annual confession and communion and a reduction in number of the impediments to marriage–saved the lower classes for the church and silenced many of the critics of the establishment. Well-trained and extremely mobile, the friars were able to reach and hold regions and peoples that the static monks and clergy had failed to move. The 13th century in Europe as a whole was a time of pastoral endeavor in which bishops and university-trained clergy perfected the diocesan and parish organization and reformed many abuses. It was an age of active and spiritual bishops, many of them masters in theology and themselves friars. There also were controversies. The early friars served and were welcomed by the bishops and parish clergy, but clashes soon occurred; the papacy gave the friars exemptions and privileges so wide that the basic rights of the secular clergy were threatened. An academic war of pamphlets led to an attack on the vocation and work of the friars. A compromise was finally arranged by Boniface VIII (reigned 1294-1303) that was just and workable; under a revised form it lasted for two centuries. The bishop could refuse friars entry into his diocese, but once they had been admitted, the friars were free from his control.

Troubles of the church c. 1300

The last quarter of the 13th century was a time of growing bitterness and harshness. The golden age of Scholastic theology had come to an abrupt end. The troubles of the Franciscans–divided into those who stood for the absolute poverty prescribed by the rule and testament of Francis (the Spirituals) and those who accepted papal relaxation and exemptions (the Conventuals)–were a running sore for 60 years, vexing the papacy and infecting the whole church. The Inquisition (the ecclesiastical tribunal instituted in 1229 to deal with heretics) and the papal court incurred odium for their inhumane and inequitable treatment of those suspected of heresy.

{Definition of odium

  1. 1: the state or fact of being subjected to hatred and contempt as a result of a despicable act or blameworthy circumstance
  2. 2: hatred and condemnation accompanied by loathing or contempt :  detestation
  3. 3: disrepute or infamy attached to something}

Another instance of hardening sentiment is seen in the treatment of the Jews. Between 800 and 1200 the Jewish population had increased significantly in Lombardy , Provence , and the towns of the river valleys of the Rhône, the Rhine , and the Danube . They entered England only after the Norman Conquest (1066.) Apart from heretics such as the Cathari they were the only “foreign body” in Western Christendom and as such attracted the special notice of the ignorant and brutal. There were shocking massacres of Jews when the Crusades were preached, especially in the Rhineland , and after various instances of panic on the part of Christians, Jews were accused of sacrilege and child murder. These, however, were all mob movements, resisted by kings and bishops. Later the Jews suffered from suspicions that were aroused by the Cathari. The fourth Lateran Council gave the Jews a distinguishing badge and forbade their employment by governments. This established once and for all the ghetto system in large towns but did not at first impair Jewish prosperity. Later on the growing class of Christian merchants became jealous and hostile, and in 1290 and 1306 the Jews were expelled from England and France . This swelled their numbers in Germany, thenceforward called “the classic land of Jewish martyrdom.” Groups remained in Italy , and the Roman colony was never disturbed. In Spain toleration gave way to widespread persecution and conversion under duress, which left a heritage of sorrow for the future.

The “Babylonian Captivity”

In 1303, despite its resounding claims and its complex governmental machinery, the prestige of the papacy had fallen so low that it was possible for mercenaries in French pay and under French leadership to harass and humiliate the pope with impunity; Boniface VIII, at Anagni was arrested in his own family (Caetani) palace. The aftermath of this “outrage of Anagni” was the “Babylonian Captivity”–the desertion of Rome by the popes and their long residence (1309-77) at Avignon , Fr.–so called after the 70 years of Jewish exile in Babylon in the 6th century BC.

The disputes of the Franciscans, which had crystallized finally upon the teaching of the Spiritual Franciscans that their absolute poverty was that of Christ, were harshly settled (1322) by the irascible octogenarian John XXII (reigned 1316-34). A group of Franciscans, however, led by Michael of Cesena, general of the order, and William of Ockham, became bitter and formidable critics of the papacy. With them for a time was the Italian political philosopher Marsilius of Padua, a Parismaster who, in his Defensor pacis (1324), outlined a secular state in which the church was a government department, the papacy and episcopate human institutions, and the spiritual sanctions of religion relegated to a position of honorable nonentity. Between them, Ockham and Marsilius used almost all the arguments that have ever been devised against the papacy. Condemned more than once, Marsilius had little immediate effect or influence, but during the Great Schism of the papacy (1378-1417) and later, in the 16th century, he and Ockham had their turn.

With the papacy “in captivity” and Nominalism capturing the universities, Europe and the church entered upon an epoch of disasters, of which the Hundred Years’ War between England and France (began 1337) and the Black Death (1348-49) were the most clearly seen by contemporaries. For all this, Christian life in the first half of the 14th century changed little. Many of the largest parish churches of Europe date from this time, as do many popular devotions, prayers, hymns, and carols; also, many hospitals and almshouses were founded. Though the relations between the friars and the secular clergy had been canonically settled, friction continued. The friars came under wider criticism for worldliness and immorality, but they remained popular. Though heresy and anti -sacerdotal (anticlerical) sentiment became almost endemic in the cities of Belgium and the Netherlands , the 14th century produced some of the greatest mystical writers of the church’s history: Johann Tauler and Jan van Ruysbroeck in the north, Catherine of Siena in Italy , and the anonymous author of The Cloud of Unknowing and Walter Hilton in England .


Blogged 03/28/2019

To Be Truly Humble, Use the Gifts God Gave You by DAVID MILLS

To Be Truly Humble, Use the Gifts God Gave You


Do you know what annoys a writer? A professional writer, I mean, someone like me who takes writing as his calling and his craft? When a reader says something like “It’s so easy for you” or “It must be great to have so much talent. The rest of us have to work at writing.” I will thank you, and look at you with what my wife says is an obviously insincere smile, which apparently undermines the effect of the thank you.

I’ve worked hard at my craft. I’ve sacrificed to get better at it, and have put up with neglect and abuse and the occasional weirdly fixated critic so that I could keep at it. And I’d like some credit for that, thank you very much.

But not too much credit. Because it is easier for me than for most people. I have gifts for playing with words the way a long-legged man with big lungs has gifts for running marathons. But that’s not me, that’s God.

Fr. Philip Dion explains this very well in a Catholic Exchange article from last year, taken from his book The Handbook of Spiritual Perfection. “Humility does not at all mean denying the gifts, and the abilities, and the talent, and attributes that Almighty God has given us,” he writes. “It does mean that we attribute them not to ourselves but to God. … If, as a result of our doing this, others praise us, let us refer the praise to God instead of proudly soaking it up ourselves.”

The Second Lesson

Give thanks to God for your gifts. But Fr. Dion offers a second, less obvious, lesson to be learned about your gifts. That is: Do not deny or diminish your gifts and therefore not use them as much as you should. Don’t let humility be your excuse for not trying.

Humility requires that we use our gifts to help “ourselves and others and thereby give glory to God. If we are humble, we use our gifts of nature and grace to do good; we use them to spread God’s kingdom and His glory.” Jesus tells us to let our light shine before men, so they will see the good works and give glory to God, which may not seem very humble. Jesus tells us, Fr. Dion explains, “Do not conceal the talents and abilities that you have. Use them, but use them for the glory of God.”

I think this is a very important point, and one Catholics often don’t see. Humility can be an excuse and one pretty much no one is going to argue with. Let me explain from my now long experience of working with writers. I’ve dealt with many who had genuine gifts, some of whom were very, very good, who would not exercise their gifts.

Some had other things they had to or wanted to do, which I could understand. But others seemed, from things they let slip as we went back and forth, not to want to take the trouble and risk that writing requires. It’s hard to suss out what some people think about their own gifts, but a good many seemed to have a good idea how good they were, or trusted my judgment of how good they were, and some would eventually confess that they knew they had gifts but they just didn’t want to use them.

They felt they should write, that they had something to say and the ability to say it well, but they didn’t want to. They didn’t want to do the work or take the risk. A few wanted to take the trouble but not take the risk, and wanted to write only for very small and safe readerships. A few others, who must have had very thick skins, were happy to take the risk as long as they didn’t have to do the work.

But they wouldn’t admit they didn’t want to do the work or take the risk, because that seems faithless, when God’s given you gifts. They’d use humility, or pseudo-humility, as an excuse. They’d claim they really weren’t very good, or good enough, or not as good as X or Y. (A few chose a superstar for their X or Y, which made me laugh. So you shouldn’t write if you’ll never have a chance for the Pulitzer Prize?)

Gifts to use

We’re given our gifts to use. Using gifts takes work, because you have to develop them, and it requires risk, because you offer them to a world that includes jerks. That’s the deal God gives you when he gives you gifts. Writing, say, will be a) easier for you than for others, but b) not that easy.

It’s all about being a good steward, part of which is paying the costs and taking the risks of exercising your gift. Just because we’re given something to work with doesn’t mean we’ll find it easy to do the work. I’ve had writers tell me they felt called to write, but didn’t expect it to be so hard, and now that they know maybe they just aren’t going to try — even though they still feel the call.

That’s not humility. It’s really the opposite. Not using your gift deprives those who should receive its benefits. More the point, those whom God intends you to serve. The world is several dozen articles poorer because the writer used an appeal to humility as a reason for not writing. Many of those articles would have deeply moved hearts and minds who needed to be moved. The truly humble person would have written the article God gave him to write.

David has written about vocation and calling in The Essence of the Vocation is the Frame on Ethika Politika.


Tagged as: Fr. Philip Dionhumilitywriting


By David Mills

David Mills writes a weekly column for Aleteia. He latest book is Discovering Mary. He’s edited Touchstone and First Things

The Church that Morphed {pt 4 of 7} … Another: I AM a Catholic Lesson This part assembled by Patrick Miron


The Church that Morphed {pt 4 of 7}

So what’s up with non-Catholics-lack of understanding?

Another: I AM A Catholic Lesson

This part assembled by Patrick Miron


Beginning of PART # 4

Once again driven by the need to limit the size of this document, what comes below has been greatly edited, but again the site information is presented for those who might wish to pursue in greater depth, this account.

A History Christianity

Edited By: Robert A. Guisepi

A History of the Catholic Church

From Its Beginning to the End of the Sixteenth Century 


As both its critics and its champions would probably agree, Roman Catholicism has been the decisive spiritual force in the history of Western civilization. There are more Roman Catholics in the world than there are believers of any other religious tradition–not merely more Roman Catholics than all other Christians combined, but more Roman Catholics than all Muslims or Buddhists or Hindus. The papacy is the oldest continuing absolute monarchy in the world. To millions the pope is the infallible interpreter of divine revelation and the Vicar of Christ; to others he is the fulfillment of the biblical prophecies about the coming of the Antichrist.

These incontestable statistical and historical facts suggest that some understanding of Roman Catholicism–its history, its institutional structures, its beliefs and practices, and its place in the world–is an indispensable component of cultural literacy, regardless of how one may individually answer the ultimate questions of life and death and faith. Without a grasp of what Roman Catholicism stands for, it is difficult to make political sense of the settlement of the Germanic tribes in Europe at the end of the Roman Empire, or intellectual sense of Thomas Aquinas, or literary sense of The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri, or artistic sense of the Gothic cathedrals, or musical sense of many of the compositions of Haydn or Mozart.

At one level, of course, the interpretation of Roman Catholicism is closely related to the interpretation of Christianity as such. For by its own reading of history, Roman Catholicism began with the very beginnings of the Christian movement. An essential component of the definition of any one of the other branches of Christendom, moreover, is the examination of its relation to Roman Catholicism: How did Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism come into schism? Was the break between the Church of England and Rome inevitable? Conversely, such questions are essential to the definition of Roman Catholicism itself, even to a definition that adheres strictly to the official view, according to which the Roman Catholic Church has maintained an unbroken continuity since the days of the Apostles, while all other denominations, from the ancient Copts to the latest storefront church, are deviations from it.

Like any intricate and ancient phenomenon, Roman Catholicism can be described and interpreted from a variety of perspectives and by one or more of several methodologies. Thus the Roman Catholic Church is itself a complex institution, for which the usual diagram of a pyramid, extending from the pope at the apex to the believers in the pew, is vastly oversimplified; within that institution, moreover, sacred congregations, archdioceses and dioceses, provinces, religious orders and societies, seminaries and colleges, parishes and confraternities, and countless other institutions all invite the social scientist to the consideration of power relations, leadership roles, social dynamics, and other sociological connections that it uniquely represents. As a world religion among world religions, Roman Catholicism in its belief and practice manifests, somewhere within the range of its multicolored life, some of the features of every religion of the human race; thus only the methodology of comparative religion can encompass them all. Furthermore, because of the normative role of Scholasticism in the formulation of Roman Catholic dogma, a philosophical analysis of its system of doctrine is indispensable even for grasping its theological vocabulary. Nevertheless, the historical method is especially appropriate to this task, not only because two millennia of history are represented in the Roman Catholic Church, but because the heart of its understanding of itself is the hypothesis of continuity and because the centre of its definition of authority is the embodiment of divine truth in that historical continuity.

For a more detailed treatment of the early church, see Christianity, history of. The present article concentrates on identifying those historical forces that worked to transform the primitive Christian movement into a church that was recognizably “catholic,” namely, a church that had begun to possess identifiable norms of doctrine and life, fixed structures of church authority, and, at least in principle, a universality (which is what “catholic” meant) that extended to all of humanity.

The emergence of Catholic Christianity

At least in an inchoate form all the elements of catholicity–doctrine, authority, universality–are evident in the New Testament. The Acts of the Apostles begins by focusing on the demoralized band of the disciples of Jesus in Jerusalem; but by the time its account of the first decades is finished, the Christian community has developed some nascent criteria for determining the difference between authentic (“apostolic”) and inauthentic teaching and behavior. It has also moved beyond the borders of Judaism, as the dramatic sentence of the closing chapter announces: “And so we came to Rome ” (Acts 28:14). The later epistles of the New Testament admonish their readers to “guard what has been entrusted to you” (1 Timothy 6:20) and to “contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3), and they speak about the Christian community itself in exalted and even cosmic terms as the church, “which is [Christ’s] body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:23). It is clear even from the New Testament that the specification of these catholic features was called forth by challenges from within, not only from without; indeed, scholars have concluded that the early church was far more pluralistic from the very beginning than the somewhat idealized pictures in the New Testament might suggest.

As such challenges continued in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, further specification became necessary. The schema of apostolic authority formulated by the bishop of Lyon, Irenaeus (c. 130-c. 200), may serve to set forth systematically the three main lines of authority for catholic Christianity: the Scriptures of the New Testament (alongside the Christianized “Old Testament”) as the writings of the Apostles of Christ; the Episcopal centers established by the Apostles as the seats of their identifiable successors in the governance of the church; and the apostolic tradition of normative doctrine as the “rule of faith” and the standard of Christian conduct. Each of the three depended on the other two for validation; one could determine which purportedly scriptural writings were genuinely apostolic by appealing to their conformity with acknowledged apostolic tradition and to the usage of the apostolic churches, and so on. This was not a circular argument but an appeal to a single catholic authority of apostolicity, in which the three elements were inseparable. Inevitably, however, there arose conflicts–of doctrine and jurisdiction, of worship and pastoral practice, and of social and political strategy–among the three sources of authority, as well as between equally “apostolic” bishops. When bilateral means for resolving such conflicts proved insufficient, there could be recourse to either the precedent of convoking an apostolic council (Acts 15) or to what Irenaeus had already called “the preeminent authority of this church [of Rome], with which, as a matter of necessity, every church should agree.” Catholicism was on the way to becoming Roman Catholic.

The emergence of Roman Catholicism

Internal factors

Several historical factors, some of them more prominent at one time and others at another, help to account for the emergence of Roman Catholicism from the catholic Christianity of the early church. The twin factors that would eventually be regarded as the most decisive, at any rate by the champions of the primacy of Rome in the church, were the primacy of Peter among the 12 Apostles of Christ and the identification of Peter with the Church of Rome. In the several enumerations of the Apostles in the New Testament (Matthew 10:2-5; Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:14-16; Acts 1:13) there are considerable variations, with further variations in the manuscripts; but what they all have in common is that they list (in Matthew’s words) “first, Simon, who is called Peter.” “But I have prayed for you,” Jesus said to Peter, “that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren” (Luke 22:32 ); and again: “Feed my lambs. . . . Tend my sheep. . . . Feed my sheep” (John 21:15 -17). Above all, when Christ, according to the New Testament, said to the Apostle Peter, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock [Greek petra ] I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18 ), that was, according to Roman Catholic teaching, the charter of the church–i.e., of the Roman Catholic Church.

The identification of this obvious “primacy” of Peter in the New Testament with the “primacy” of the Church of Rome is not self-evident, since; for one thing, the same New Testament remains almost silent about a connection of Peter with Rome. The reference at the close of the Acts of the Apostles to the arrival of the Apostle Paul in Rome gives no indication that Peter was there as the bishop or even as a resident, and the epistle that Paul had addressed somewhat earlier to the church at Rome devotes its entire closing chapter to greetings for many believers in the city but fails to mention Peter’s name. On the other hand, the first of the two epistles ascribed to Peter does use the phrase (presumably referring to a Christian congregation) “she who is at Babylon ” (1 Peter 5:13 ), which was a code name for Rome . It is, moreover, the unanimous testimony of early Christian tradition that Peter, having been at Jerusalem and then at Antioch , finally came to Rome , where he was crucified (with his head down, according to Christian legend, in deference to the crucifixion of Christ); there was, however, and still is, dispute about the exact location of his grave. Writing around the end of the 2nd century, the North African theologian Tertullian (c. 160-c. 225) spoke of ” Rome , from which there comes even into our own hands the very authority of the apostles themselves. How happy is its church, on which apostles poured forth all their doctrine along with their blood! Where Peter endures a passion like his Lord’s! Where Paul wins his crown in a death like that of John [the Baptist]!”

Alongside this apostolic argument for Roman primacy–and often interwoven with it– Rome was honored because of its position as the capital of the Roman Empire: the church in the prime city ought to be prime among the churches. As the capital Rome drew visitors or tourists or pilgrims from everywhere and eventually became, for church no less than for state, what Jerusalem had originally been called, “the church from which every church took its start, the mother city [metropolis] of the citizens of the new covenant.” Curiously, the transfer of the capital of the Roman Empire from Rome to Constantinople by the newly converted emperor Constantine in 330, which weakened Rome’s civil authority, served only to strengthen its spiritual authority: the title “supreme priest [pontifex maximus],” which had been the prerogative of the emperor, now devolved upon the pope. The transfer of the capital also occasioned a dispute between Rome (“Old Rome”) and Constantinople (“New Rome”) over whether the new capital, as capital, should be entitled to a commensurate ecclesiastical preeminence alongside the see of Peter. The second ecumenical council of the church (at Constantinople in 381) and the fourth (at Chalcedon in 451) both legislated such a position for the see of Constantinople, but Rome refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of that prerogative.

It was also at the Council of Chalcedon, convoked to resolve the doctrinal controversy between Antioch and Alexandria over the person of Christ that the council fathers accepted the formula proposed by Pope Leo I (reigned 440-461). “Peter,” they declared, “has spoken through the mouth of Leo!” That was only one in a long series of occasions when the authority of Rome , sometimes by invitation and sometimes by its own intervention, served as a court of appeal in jurisdictional and dogmatic disputes that had erupted in various parts of Christendom. During the first six centuries of the church the bishop of every major Christian centre was, at one time or another, charged with heresy and convicted–except the bishop of Rome (although his turn was to come later). The titles that the see of Rome gradually assumed and the claims of primacy it made within the internal life and governance of the church were, in many ways, little more than the formalization of what had meanwhile become widely accepted practice during these first four or five centuries of its history.

External factors

In addition to the transfer of the capital from Rome to Constantinople, there were at least two other external factors at the beginning of the Middle Ages that contributed decisively to the development of Roman Catholicism as a distinct form of Christianity. One was the rise of Islam in the 7th century. During the decade following the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632 CE his followers captured three of the five “patriarchates” of the early church–Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem–leaving only Rome and Constantinople, located at opposite ends of the Mediterranean and, eventually, also at opposite ends of the East-West Schism. The other force that encouraged the emergence of Roman Catholicism as a distinct entity was the fall of the Roman Empire and the migration into Europe of the Germanic and other tribes that were eventually to constitute its principal population. Some of them, particularly the Goths, had already become Christian before even coming into Western Europe . The form of Christianity they had adopted in the 4th century was, however, by the standards of Christian orthodoxy both Eastern and Western, heretical in its doctrine of the Trinity. Therefore the future of medieval Europe belonged not to the Christian tribes but to the pagan tribes, particularly the Franks, once these had become Christian. The Christianity they accepted after their arrival was not only orthodox on the doctrine of the Trinity but it was allied with the authority of the pope. The coronation by the pope of the Frankish king Charles (Charlemagne) as Roman emperor on Christmas Day 800 clearly symbolized that alliance.

The early medieval papacy

During the centuries that marked the transition from the early to the medieval church Roman Catholicism benefited from the leadership of several outstanding popes; at least two of them–both called “the Great” by historians and “Saint” by the Roman Catholic Church–merit special consideration even in a brief article. Pope Leo I was, even for his pagan contemporaries, the embodiment of the ideal of Romanitas in his resistance to the barbarian conquerors. Twice in the space of a few years he was instrumental in saving Rome , from the Huns in 452, when he achieved their withdrawal to the banks of the Danube , and from the Vandals in 455, when his intercession mitigated their depredations in the city. His aforementioned intervention in the doctrinal controversy among Eastern theologians over the person of Christ and the role played by his Tome of 449 in the formula of the Council of Chalcedon in 451 was part of a concerted campaign to consolidate and extend the jurisdiction of the see of Rome over such remote areas as Gaul, Spain, and North Africa–a jurisdiction officially acknowledged by the Roman emperor.

Pope Gregory I (reigned 590-604), more than any pope before or after him, laid the foundations for the Roman Catholicism of the Middle Ages. It was he who selected Augustine of Canterbury to bring about the conversion of England to the Christian faith and the Roman Catholic obedience. He asserted the primacy of his see over the entire church, including the patriarchate of Constantinople, and his diplomatic and political skills secured the independence of the Western Roman Catholic Church both from the Byzantine Empire and from the Germanic tribes occupying Italy. Gregory the Great was also one of the most important patrons of the Benedictine monastic movement, to which he owed a considerable part of his own spiritual upbringing (as his biography of Benedict manifests).

Nevertheless, medieval Roman Catholicism would not have taken the form it did without the conversion of the emperor Constantine in 312. As a consequence of that event Christianity moved in a few decades from an illegal to a legal to a dominant position in the Roman Empire. Henceforth every branch of Christendom had to deal with rulers who claimed to profess its faith; conversely, the character of every branch of Christendom could in considerable measure be described on the basis of its way of relating church and state. For medieval Roman Catholicism the centralization of church authority in the pope made the relation of church and state a persistent issue in the very understanding of the nature of the church itself. As the church approached the conclusion of the first millennium of its history, it had become the legatee of the spiritual, administrative, and intellectual resources of the early centuries.

Most of the preceding analysis pertains to the whole of Christendom. The Eastern Orthodox Church has almost as large a share in the developments of the early centuries as does the Roman Catholic Church, and even Protestantism looks to these centuries for its authentication. The Middle Ages may be defined as the era in which the distinctively Roman Catholic forms and institutions of the church were set. The following chronological account of medieval developments shows how these forms and institutions emerged from the context of the shared history of the early Christian centuries.

The church of the early and High Middle Ages

The concept of Christendom

By the 10th century the religious and cultural community that is called Christendom had come into being. {That is “morphed”} In every European state the religion of the state was Roman Catholicism. Christendom fought back against Islam in the Crusades (see below), which failed to repossess the lost territories but strengthened the unity of Christendom and rendered it conscious of its power.

The Middle Ages saw the rise of the universities and of a “Catholic” learning, sparked, oddly enough, by the transmission of Aristotle through Arab scholars. Scholasticism, the highly formalized philosophical and theological systems developed by the medieval masters, dominated Roman Catholic thought into the 20th century and contributed to the formation of the European intellectual tradition. With the rise of the universities, the threefold level of the ruling classes of Christendom was established; imperium (political authority), sacerdotium(ecclesiastical authority), and studium (intellectual authority). The principle that each of these three was independent of the other two within its sphere of authority had enduring consequences in Europe .

The same period saw the growth of monasticism. One may see in this withdrawal from the world a response to the essential conflict between Christianity and Roman civilization; those who refused to accept the prevailing compromise between the religious and secular spheres could find no place in the world of the early Middle Ages. Perhaps the most remarkable feature of monasticism was that this withdrawal did not take the form of heresy or schism. Monasticism found a way of refusing the compromise without departing from the church that had made the compromise.

A period of decadence

This period also revealed the possibilities of corruption within the Roman Catholic Church. Without the accumulated prestige and the precedents established by the 9th-century popes, the claim to primacy would have had difficulty in surviving the subsequent period of papal decadence. In the 870s the imperial government in Italy declined in influence, and the bishopric of Rome, along with other European bishoprics, was increasingly at the mercy of the local nobility, with spasmodic interventions by the 10th-century German emperors.

German kingship entered upon a new epoch in the 10th century. Under Otto I, the Great, the bishops and greater abbots were drawn into royal service and enriched with estates and counties, for which they did feudal homage. Otto conquered northern Italy and extracted from the pope an imperial coronation (962). Both he and his grandson Otto III regarded the papal territory as part of their realm; they appointed and removed popes and presided at synods. Otto III, an enlightened ruler, appointed as pope his old tutor, Gerbert of Aurillac–who took the name Sylvester II–whose brief reign (999-1003) was a shaft of light between two periods in which Roman factions dominated the papacy.

German “protection,” however, had its price. When the emperor Henry III descended into Italy in 1046, deposing three rival claimants to the papacy (Sylvester III, Gregory VI, and Benedict IX) and then appointing his own candidate, Clement II (and later several successors), the Roman Church was in grave danger of becoming an imperial proprietary church, similar to those multitudinous lower churches in Europe whose royal or aristocratic owners regarded them, in accordance with age-old custom, as their own private property to be disposed of at will.

France during this period was fragmented into many feudal domains. This allowed the ecclesiastical hierarchy there a certain independence and cohesion, while the growth of the French reform-oriented monastery at Cluny prepared the country for its message of reform. In England there was a unique intermingling of ecclesiastical and royal administration that, in fact, left the church entirely free. On the fringes of Christendom– Scandinavia , Scotland , Ireland , and northern Spain –there was little hierarchical development.

Popular Christianity c. 1000

The greater part of central Christendom had by the 11th century been divided into bishops’ dioceses and individual parishes. But in the northern and western regions the proliferation of small private churches had not yet been wholly absorbed, and the existence of proprietary and exempt enclaves continued to the Reformation and beyond. The priest, in rural districts usually a villein of the lord (subject to the lord but not to others), cultivated his acres of glebe (revenue lands of the parish church), celebrated mass on Sundays and feasts, recited some of the hours (liturgical or devotional services for use at certain hours of the day, according to the monastic daily schedule), and saw that his flock was baptized, anointed, and buried. Lay people normally received communion four times a year–Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, and Assumption (August 15). Auricular (privately heard) confession was widespread but not universal.

Education in the early Middle Ages was at a very low ebb outside the monasteries.

Cathedral schools were few, and rural priests who could read Latin easily were rare. Almost all literary work came from the monasteries and in Celtic lands (mainly Ireland ) from the half-monastic Culdees (religious recluses). The larger monasteries, such as Cluny or St. Gall ( Switzerland ), were towns in miniature with a variety of social services; they were also the only reservoirs of learning and artistic skill. On the land, pious practices and beliefs often merged into superstition or “white” magic; and marriage customs, together with the complicated degrees of prohibited relationships, provided endless problems in an epoch when the presence of a priest was not necessary for a valid union. In an age of protective lordship, heavenly patrons were highly valued, and the body or relics of a reputed saint made him the persona, a quasi-living protective presence, of a church or abbey. This aspect of belief explains the popularity of pilgrimages to shrines such as that of the Apostles at Rome , St. James at Santiago de Compostela ( Spain ), the Magi at Cologne ( Germany ), and countless others. Monastic piety was expressed not only in the liturgy but also in “little offices” (liturgical or devotional services) of the Blessed Virgin, of the cross, of all saints, and of the dead; the primary reason for a monastery’s existence was intercessory prayer–hence the numerous monastic foundations by royal and noble families.

The first reformers: Leo IX and Nicholas II

Leo IX (reigned 1049-54) was the first pope to impose his authority upon the church in general; he achieved this by a tactic of lengthy tours beyond the Alps , punctuated by synods, in which decrees both dogmatic and disciplinary were passed. He also began the practice of appointing non-Romans to curial (papal administrative) posts and sending legates (papal representatives) to carry out his decrees. A man of great energy and spiritual purpose, he must nevertheless bear the responsibility for a disastrous war that ended in capitulation to the Normans and for choosing the rigid and violent Humbert for the mission to Constantinoplein 1054, the year from which the Schism between the churches of the East and West is dated. In the years of confusion that followed, the papal election decree of Nicholas II in 1059 stands out: it gave the right and duty of papal election to the cardinals, tacitly eliminating the king of Germany . The same pope shortly afterward renewed earlier decrees on simony and clerical celibacy but avoided the issue of pope and empire.

The reign of Gregory VII

Hildebrand, who succeeded in 1073 as Gregory VII (reigned 1073-85), proved to be one of the greatest of his line and had more influence than any other person of his time upon the external fabric of the church. In his long struggle with the German king Henry IV he suspended and excommunicated his opponent, pardoned him as penitent at Canossa, Italy (1077), excommunicated him again (and was himself twice deposed), and was finally driven from Rome by Henry to die in exile at Salerno (1085). In opposition to Henry’s claim to be the divinely appointed vice regent of Christ over the activities of the church, Gregory presented himself as heir to the unlimited commission of Christ to Peter over all souls (Matthew 16:18-19). Beneath these lofty claims lay the ruler’s resistance to losing his ancestral right of appointing to office his most influential subjects (who often also held the richest fiefs) and the pope’s insistence on the authority of ancient canon law and papal decrees. If the king’s claims were inconsistent with the current conception of a free church, the pope’s claim and actions were without precedent within the memory or records of his age.

Even more directly influential was Gregory’s centralization of the church. Through the appointment of plenipotentiary legates (representatives with full power to negotiate), the immediate control of diocesan bishops, canonical elections, and Roman and local synods, and the publication of canonical collections and polemical manifestos a web was spun in which every thread led to Rome . The scattered priests and the distant bishops were gradually becoming a class, the clergy, distinct from others and with a law and a loyalty of their own. Although Gregory died a lonely exile, his principles of reform had found reception all over Europe , and the new generation of bishops was Gregorian in sympathy and obedient in practice to papal commands in a way unknown to their predecessors.

The Investiture Conflict (1085-1122)

The efforts of the reformers to make the church independent of lay control inevitably centered upon the appointment of bishops by the ruler of the country or region. In ancient canon law, election of bishops had been by clergy and people; entrance upon office followed lawful consecration. Feudalism and royal claims had transformed election into royal appointment, and admission to office was by means of the bestowal, or investiture, by the lord, of ring and staff (symbols of the Episcopal office), preceded by an act of homage. This savored of simony, both because a layman bestowed a spiritual benefice and because money was often offered or demanded. The conservatives appealed to immemorial practice, accepted and even enjoined by the papacy.

Gregory VII, though asserting the principle of freedom, was in fact tolerant of royal appointments free from simony. Pope Urban II (reigned 1088-99) was equally inconsistent, though in other ways he was a reformer. Pope Paschal II (reigned 1099-1118) at once condemned lay investiture, thus precipitating the crisis in England between Anselm, archbishop of Canterbury , and King Henry I. This and a similar crisis in France were settled by a compromise. Election (by the cathedral chapter) was to be free; lay investiture was waived, but homage before the bestowal of the fief was allowed. Meanwhile Paschal, at odds with the German king Henry V, who was demanding imperial coronation, suddenly offered to renounce all church property held by the king if lay investiture were also abandoned. Henry accepted, but the bishops refused the terms; thereupon the King seized the Pope who, under duress, allowed lay investiture. By this time, however, a large majority of the bishops were Gregorians, and the Pope was persuaded to retract. Eleven years later Pope Gelasius II accepted the Concordat of Worms (1122). According to this agreement free election by ecclesiastics was to be followed by investiture (without staff and ring) and homage to the king.

This ended the strife of 50 years, in which pamphleteers on both sides had revived every kind of claim to supremacy and God-given authority. Nominally a compromise, the concordat was in effect a victory for the monarch, for he could usually control the election. Nevertheless, the war of ideologies had exposed the weakness of the emperor who in the last resort had to admit the spiritual authority of the pope, and the struggle left intact the claim of the church to moderate the whole of society.


END OF PART    Blogged 03/25/19

What is it with fig leaves and trees in the Bible? by Daniel Esparza 


What is it with fig leaves and trees in the Bible?

Daniel Esparza 

Figs, figs everywhere!

One could say the Bible (both the Hebrew and the Greek, the Old and the New Testaments) revolves around certain trees. Whereas typology understands Christ’s Cross as being the new and true Tree of Life (Christ himself being the fruit of this tree), and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is often thought of as being an apple tree because of a certain medieval pun (mālum, Latin for apple, is quite close to malum, “evil”), fig trees don’t seem to have a defined symbolism of their own. Sure, the expression “fig leaf” is commonly used figuratively to imply one is covering something shameful with a relatively innocuous thing (in a clear reference to the book of Genesis, where we find Adam and Eve using fig leaves to cover their nudity after they ate the forbidden fruit), but that tells us nothing about any biblical symbolism attributed to fig trees themselves.

Interestingly, the fig is the third kind of tree mentioned by its name in the Bible, right after these other two trees (that is, that of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil). But fig trees are actually almost everywhere. In Deuteronomy, the promised land is described as a land “of vines, fig trees, and pomegranates.” In the Song of Solomon, the fig tree gives its fruit early “in the year of love.” In the second book of Kings, the Assyrian commander offered every deserter from the army of Jerusalem “his own vine and fig tree.” It can be seen then that the fig tree, in the Bible, indicates prosperity. Having one’s own fig tree is, then, a signal of personal wealth and well-being. Then why would Jesus curse the fig tree, as we see is the case in the gospels of Matthew and Mark? Or why would the owner of a fig tree, as that of the parable, want to cut it down?

If a fig tree is a symbol of prosperity and personal wealth, a barren fig tree is then its antithesis. That much is clear. Jesus’ cursing of the barren fig tree has been read as an affirmation of Jesus’ divinity, which is expressed in his having dominion and authority over nature, sure, but there is another reading that follows this symbolism and relates it to a certain kind of wealth. If prosperity is conceived of as related to the abundance of fruits from the fig tree, spiritual prosperity is related to one’s own “good fruit,” that is, the good actions of the faithful. Just as Adam and Eve used the fig trees to cover their nudity (as they felt shame and embarrassment), when we don’t give any kind of spiritual fruit we are in fact left with nothing but “leaves,” a “barren” outward appearance that tries to “cover” the fact that we are not producing anything for God or our neighbor.

End Quote

Strive to be holy for “I Am Holy”; “Let your light shone for ALL to see”