January 26, 2000
volume 11, no. 18

To print out entire text
of Today's issue, go to


    In this journey on the Barque of Peter, we continue to detail the evolution of the Mass and the Church from the early Christian times to our present day so that all may better understand the true meaning of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and our faith - the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Today we cover the second half of the Eleventh Century from Pope Saint Leo IX up to Pope Saint Gregory VII. Between these holy Pontiffs would erupt the Great East-West Schism that has forever split the Orthodox Church from the Latin rite. Also this period would see the rise of the Norman influence in Sicily and southern Italy and the establishment of the College of Cardinals as the exclusive voting body for papal elections while clamping down on lay investiture, simony and clerical celibacy.

    We will be using various sources, but the best are four books that are out of print but provide so much solid material: "My Catholic Faith - A Manual of Religion" (1949) by Bishop Louis LaRavoire Morrow, S.T.D. from My Mission House ; "The Glories and Triumphs of the Catholic Church" (1907) from Benziger Brothers; "The Catholic Church Alone the One True Church of Christ" (1902) from the Catholic Educational Company; and "Cabinet of Catholic Information" (1904) from Duggan Publishing Co. In addition we will be using material gleaned from "The Oxford Dictionary of Popes" by J.N.D. Kelly; The Papal Princes: A History of the Sacred College of Cardinals" by Glenn D. Kittler; "Pontiffs: Popes who shaped history" by John Jay Hughes; "The Mass of the Roman Rite" by Fr. Josef Jungmann, S.J.; "The Story of the Church" from Tan Books by Fr. George Johnson, PhD; "The Story of the Mass" by Fr. Pierre Loret; "Rubrics of the Mass" by Fr. Peter M.J. Stravinskas; "The Wonders of the Mass" by Fr. Paul O'Sullivan, O.P.; and the Code of Canon Law", as well as the "Catechism of the Catholic Church"; "Baltimore Catechism"; Catholic Encyclopedia (Thomas Nelson Publishers); "Catholic Dictionary" by Fr. John Hardon, S.J.; "Dictionary of Saints" by John J. Delaney; "Butler's Lives of the Saints" from Benziger Brothers; "Saints of the Roman Calendar" by Enzo Lodi and Fr. Jordan Aumann, OP; "1999 Catholic Almanac" from Our Sunday Visitor, and numerous missals and references.

    With a better perception of what the Church stands for and what the Mass truly is, we will not so easily be swayed by new-fangled gimmicks and liturgical abuses being introduced by individual celebrants and ICEL, the International Committee for English in the Liturgy. We will discover why the basis for the use of vestments and sacred vessels, the purpose for the Rubrics of the Mass, the logic of Church Scholars and Popes through the ages for fending off changes that would water-down the faith and the Holy Sacrifice and even invalidate the greatest remembrance Christ gave to His Church.

Installment 35: A New Millennium

The new Gregorian influence from a man named Hildebrand

        With the death of Pope Alexander II the way was finally clear for the holy monk who had counseled six Popes before him. That was the priest known simply as Hildebrand who was unanimously elected on April 22, 1073 the day after Alexander died. This time Hildebrand knew it was the will of God for him to assume the Papal throne and he chose the name Pope Gregory VII out of deference to Pope Gregory VI who had conferred minor orders on him and who Hildebrand was mentor to in 1046. His first order of business was to set into motion a program of reform that was far and beyond any curriculum his successors had proposed. But he could not implement this until he had cleaned out the curia where corruption abounded. Once he was able to accomplish this and appoint new, loyal clergy to these posts he launched the reforms insisting that every Catholic in the world must be obedient to the Church and Christ's representative on earth - the Sovereign Pontiff. He reiterated in his Dictatus Papae that the Pope is universal and no one can judge him for the Vicar of Christ alone can dispense vows.

        There was naturally strong opposition from the German sector for they had been the strongest and felt Gregory's reforms and restrengthening of the Church would weaken them. Add to this Alexander's condemnation of Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV's lay investiture policies and sparks were ready to fly. Henry retaliated by condemning the "evil deeds of the monk Hildebrand" and deposed Gregory. Gregory followed by excommunication the German king at the Lenten Synod in 1076. He also threatened excommunication of any bishop who remained loyal to one who hadbeen handed the bell, book and candle. The bishops, fearful of this, abandoned Henry in droves and this played right into Henry's rivals' hands. To make it tougher on Henry they threw their support behind Pope Gregory and called for a council at Augsburg in February 1077. Henry knew what was up and fearing he would be deposed as king, he intercepted Gregory on the way to Augsburg in the Alps and there humbled himself before the Pope, seeking reconciliation. After making the king sweat for three days, Gregory readmitted him into the Church. Gregory was still leary however for he knew the ulterior motive for Henry was not the sacraments but survival of his kingdom. Because of this Gregory remained neutral at the council, but when Henry renegged on his promises, Gregory had no choice but to excommunicate him again.

        The German king was furious and convened his own council where he conned the convening bishops in Brixen, Germany to depose Gregory and elect their own pontiff - the antipope Clement III. In 1084 Henry marched on Rome and Gregory was forced to take refuge in Castel Sant'Angelo above the Tiber. Supporters of Gregory sent word to the Norman Robert Guiscard for help and the latter rounded up every available soldier he could including the Saracens and marched on Rome defeating Henry. But Rome was now in the hands of the Saracens and things went from bad to worse as they sacked and pillaged everything in the eternal city. Gregory fled to the Benedictine monastery Monte Cassino and when the Saracens threatened to attack the famed abbey, Gregory wanted to preserve the inhabitants there and took off for Salerno where he would have the Normans' protection. There he became physically ill and died on May 25, 1085. Just before expiring, he was quoted as saying "I have loved justice and hated iniquity, therefore I die in exhile." He accepted death in the manner befitting a saint, pardoning all his enemies and absolving all he had excommunicated except for Henry and the antipope Clement III who falsely sat on the chair Gregory VII had represented so well. Though he had wanted to return his beloved Church to its glory and mission as Christ intended, he realized satan was still running amok. Despite all his troubles with Henry and the German imperial house, he strengthened the Church in Poland, Russia and Hungary as well as England, Denmark, France and Spain.

        Early in his pontificate he had wanted to organize a military crusade to retake the holy territory in the mid-east where the Seljuk Turks had flaunted the Eastern Schism and greatly curtailed the Roman Catholic traditions there. But because of his problems with Henry, he had to delay those plans. While many do not realize that it was this holy monk who conceived of the Crusades, it would be left to his successors to carry out this chapter in Church history that carried with it both good and terribly bad decisions that would cost the lives of millions but also bring to Europe a new economy previously unheard of as the history of the Church continued to be intertwined with world history.

        His two successors were both holy men as well. Because of the chaos in Rome it took exactly a year before the conclave chose the French born abbot of Monte Cassino Desiderius who at first turned down the opportunity but then realized it was God's will. On May 24, 1086 he took the name Pope Victor III who would become Blessed Pope Victor III. He had been elected as a compromise choice because of his rapport with the Normans. This was important because Henry had reentrenched himself in Rome and the Normans' help to rid the city of the German king was needed now more than ever. But at the outset Henry and Clement's troops sought to hold the upper hand and Victor was also forced to flee to Monte Cassino where he resigned himself to resuming as abbot there and giving up the papacy. But in July 1087, convinced that the Normans had the numbers to defeat Clement, he returned to Rome after Clement had been deposed in March of the same year. But his stay in the eternal city was shortlived for rumors abounded that Henry IV was on his way to retake Rome and once again Victor retreated to Monte Cassino where he died in his beloved abbey three days later on September 16, 1087.

        Six months after Blessed Victor's death, the cardinals met in Terracina south of Rome where they elected a French cardinal who took the name Pope Urban II on March 12, 1088. Blessed Urban's pontificate lasted eleven years, taking the Church right up to the end of the century but not beyond. While he was a great admirer of Gregory VII, he realized to enforce the reforms St. Gregory had introduced would be akin to all-out rebellion and he did not have the reinforcements to fend off such an insurrection. Therefore he relaxed them to a degree, turning his attention to the assault by Henry who in 1090 reconquered Rome and placed again on the throne Clement III, forcing Urban to flee to southern Italy. In late 1093 Urban was able to return to Rome and, through the coffers of wealthy Roman families, was able to buy off the Lateran in 1094 where he took up residence and four years later the Castel Sant'Angelo fortress. With help from Sicilian forces he was able to regain control of Rome and in debt to them, conceded what many feel was too much to the Normans. It would come back to haunt the Holy See in the next few centuries.

        In the next installment we will delve into the beginning of the Crusades, a campaign that would last over two and a half centuries as we continue with Blessed Urban II, the instigator of the First Crusade.

Next Wednesday: Installment Thirty-six: A new battlefront: the Crusades.

January 19, 2000
volume 11, no. 13

To print out text of Today's issue, go to:

The DAILY CATHOLIC Search for anything
from the last three
years in past issues of
the DailyCATHOLIC: