March 16, 2000
volume 11, no. 54

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    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 illustrate the Pope and times that laid the foundation for the "century of the saints" which the 13th century was famous for. The Sovereign Pontiff was Pope Innocent III who we covered briefly in his dealings with the Crusades in the last installment. This time we feature him more prominently for he is the one who brought the Church into this "century of the saints" and made it possible for such holy luminaries as Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Dominic, to name a few, to establish a missionary endeavor that has forever served the Church well through the fruits of these saints and the Pontiff who first recognized their gifts and God's Will.

    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 40: The century of saints dawns during the pontificate of Pope Innocent III
        In our last installment we introduced the reader to Pope Innocent III, the young Supreme Pontiff whose pontificate lasted 18 years and the ill-equipped Crusades he championed. He bridged the 12th and 13th century and ushered in the century commonly known as the "century of saints." It was a pivotal time in Church history. During the 12th century there had been great problems between the Church and state as we have shown in past installments. In actuality, the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman. What the great Charlemagne had originated had sunk to the depths through greed and nationalism and Germany had a strong stranglehold on the emperorship which greatly alienated not only Italy, but the kings of England, France and Spain. This animosity and resentment played a major role in the failure of the Crusades. And politically, even though the lay investiture issue had been put to rest, the rise of the Hohenstaufen line of rulers ascending the German throne in this century of the saints would further exasperate the political and religious climate of Europe. There still remained those loyal to Rome, called the Guelfs who resided mostly in the Papal States, and those whose allegiance to the emperor who were called the Ghibellines. These two factions would, in time, become the power brokers in Europe and the majority of the time their agendas had nothing to do with religion per se. Add to this that favors and bribes and the political teeter totter in many countries would cause Guelf to cross over to the Ghibelline point of view and vice versa which made things during this period of history even more confusing. The best comparison could be to compare them with Republicans and Democrats today.

        But politics aside, Innocent saught to establish the Pope as master of Rome and recover many of the lands confiscated by the German kings. Though many Roman aristocrats resented Innocent's superiority, they rallied behind him in their common battle against German influence in Italy. This also would open the door for France to enter Sicily and the unholy alliance there that would prove to be a thorn in the side of the Holy See. That is because the young Frederick II, son of the late king of Sicily Henry IV and his wife Constance, had been entrusted to Pope Innocent III before their deaths and young Frederick was being groomed in affairs of the Church and state. This would eventually come back to haunt the Vatican. Meanwhile in France the king was Philip II and in England King John who in 1215 would be forced to sign the Magna Carta a landmark document that would usher out the medieval times and give rise to various philosophies, most notably the Renaissance two centuries later. Already there were conflicts throughout Europe beginning with Philip II in France who remarried without Church sanction. When he refused Innocent's command to separate from his new wife because his divorce was not recognized, the Pope excommunicated him and placed all of France under interdict, refusing the sacraments to the French people. They rose up as one to rebel and pursuade Philip to comply. The same situation occurred in England when King John refused to recognize the Pope's personal appointment of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Innocent, not one to waste time, showed the force of the papacy by excommunicating the English monarch and placing an interdict on all of England. He even went so far as to offer all of England to France. That wised the king up fast and he came with hat in hand to the Holy Father, offering England as a fiefdom by agreeing to pay Rome an annual tribute. This, in actuality, established the English king as a vassal to the Pope and weakened the English monarchy for many years to come in the eyes of many. It also contributed to his weakened position at the bargaining table in having to concede much through the Magna Carta. Though it strengthened the authority of the Pope in dealing with royalty throughout Europe, there would be chinks in the armor that would eventually give way to rust and corrosion as we shall see in future installments.

        Meanwhile in Assisi there was another type of Magna Carta being formed for a young nobleman had turned his back on his family's wealth and embraced poverty, laying out a rule that would revolutionize the world for Christ. He was, of course, the beloved Saint Francis of Assisi and so intent was he in founding a religious order of men that would fulfill what Jesus was asking of him, that he hiked on foot all the way from the climes of the mountainous Umbrian regions of Assisi down to Rome where he sought an audience with Innocent. Innocent initially turned the gristled, dust-ridden friar away but in a dream realized his great error and recalled Francis while enroute back to Assisi. Once Francis arrived back in the eternal city, Innocent III heartily gave the young friar his papal blessings for the Order of Friars Minor to begin. Like a fresh wind streaming across the earth, the Franciscans grew in numbers unprecedented in those days. Today they remain one of the largest and most effective religious orders in the Church. One of Francis' closest friars was Saint Anthony of Padua and, though Francis had longed to be a martyr in the Crusades, he and Anthony both preached the Crusade fostered by Innocent, going to Morocco, Egypt and Palestine. Five Franciscans were martyred but not Francis who returned to his village of Assisi where, with Saint Clare, he founded the Poor Clares.

        While Francis was doing wonders preaching the Gospel in Italy and elsewhere, another great saint had formed a priestly order of homilists or Preachers who became the white-robed Dominicans after their founder Saint Dominic from Spain who had been born in 1170. He too received initial papal approval from Innocent though the Order of Preachers would not be officially approved until Innocent's successor issued a papal bull in 1218. Also during this period would be born two other great saints - Saint Thomas Aquinas, the Angelic Doctor in England and Saint Bonaventure, a Franciscan Doctor of the Church. Both will be covered in future installments.

        Before completing the illustrious papacy of Innocent III, we must mention his calling the Twelfth Ecumenical Council in 1215. Here at the Fourth Lateran Council another Crusade was planned as we covered in the last installment, and a Christian's "Easter Duty" was established as mandatory for the universal Churhc. In addition the Council instituted the word for confecting the bread and wine: Transubstantiation. In addition, Albigensianism was condemmed, a heresy that taught that sacraments were invalid and ushered in sexual promiscuity because of that false belief in matrimony. Albigensianism also denied the Trinity and taught more of a Zoroaster theology of good and evil. Those who would not comply would be subject to punishment. While Innocent's successor is responsible for officially beginning the Inquisition, it had its roots at this Council. Pope Innocent III was also highly influential in bringing the Armenian and Maronite churches back in union with Rome where they remain today.

       Following the Council and enroute to Perugia to settle differences between the warring seaport cities of Genoa and Pisa, Innocent contracted a fever and died on the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on July 16, 1216. He was entombed in Perugia until 1891 when Pope Leo XIII ordered his remains reburied in a transept of the Lateran where his memory could be properly reverenced. His memory remains to this day that of the man who ushered in the century of the saints that marked the end of the "medieval papacy" and the dawn of a new, fresher, more spiritual direction for the Church which would brighten under Innocent's successor Pope Honorius III as we shall see next week.

Next Wednesday: Installment Forty-one: The saints make their mark.

March 16, 2000
volume 11, no. 54

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