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December 22, 1998
SECTION TWO vol 9, no. 246
To print out entire text of Today's issue, print this section as well as SECTION TWO
No one is immune to the Black Death as the deadly bubonic plague sweeps across Europe during the pontificate of Clement VI
In our eighty-fifth installment of this on-going megaseries, we continue with the Popes in exile at Avignon, arriving at a dark time in Church and European history - the Black Death, a devastating bubonic plague that claimed half of the European population during the papacy of Pope Clement VI who atoned for his lavish lifestyle early in his papacy by his charitable acts toward the victims of this plague from the poor to the Jews whom he protected when persecuted. The great mystic Saint Bridget of Sweden, one of his staunchest critics, claimed that his heroic acts during this terrible, tragic time in Europe helped save his soul. For the eighty-fifth installment titled The Black Death and Pope Clement VI's pontificate: Dark, forboding times for Europe and the Church , click on THE HISTORY OF THE MASS AND HOLY MOTHER CHURCH.
The Black Death and Pope Clement VI's pontificate: Dark, forboding times for Europe and the Church
With the death of Pope Benedict XII on April 25, 1342 an ill wind blew in that would ravage Europe for years to come. When the College of Cardinals met in Avignon they knew the will of King Philip VI and, dismissing the inspiration of the Holy Spirit they elected Cardinal Pierre Roger a favorite of the monarch's who was not as objective as Benedict. The Conclave had grown tired of the austerity of the simple, pious Benedict and wanted a man who relished the finer things in life like them. Thus on May 7, 1342 Roger became Pope Clement VI, 198th successor of Peter. Like his namesake Pope Clement V who followed Blessed Pope Benedict XI, this Clement was more in the mold of the former while Benedict XII lived a holier life as his namesake. While Benedict XII had been a man of prayer, Clement VI was a man of the world, filling the Avignon courts with musicians and dancers that, too often gave cause for scandal to the rest of Christendom who wondered what the papal court had been turned into. He exausted the coffers built up by his predecessors and exacted taxes on dioceses that seemed unfair, especially in light of the lavish trappings of the papal court at Avignon while many of the people were left in poverty. Add to this the widespread nepotism practiced by Clement as opposed to Benedict who had sought to end this vile practice. It was not a good time for the Church as Avignon became known more for its opulent life-style than for papal policy and spiritual guidance.
Saint Brigid of Sweden personally wrote Clement conveying to him of a vision she had received where Our Lord and His Blessed Mother had demanded he bring the papacy back to Rome. The letter also asked that he mediate a peace between France and England. Because of her outspokenness and demands, those surrounding Clement in his Avignon court ostracised her and denigrated her. Clement gave it little credence and stuck to his ways as Brigid retreated to Rome where she made an impression on the people with her austerity, holiness and great caring for the people and pilgrims to an empty Holy See. Despite Clement's refusal, she would continue to campaign for the papacy to be rightfully returned to Rome, something she would succeed in doing with Blessed Pope Urban V but only for a short time because of the tumultous climate and dangerous conditions in Rome at that time. It would be left to another great holy woman Saint Catherine of Siena to convince Pope Gregory XI to end the Babylonian Exile at Avignon in 1377. Meanwhile, back to the time of Clement VI; Rome sent envoys to Avignon to try to convince Clement to return to Rome, where the papacy could return to its roots Already well ensconsed in Avignon, Clement, being French, had no intentions of returning but placated the Roman party by patronizing them. They nominated him a senator and sought his approval of appointing Cola di Rienzo the "messianic tribune of the Roman people. Because of the Pope's moral support, Rienzo was able to carry off a bloodless coup of the eternal city but shortly after rising to power, Clement withdrew all support for Rienzo because Cola had made the proclamation that he was the supreme ruler of Rome and the people owed no allegiance to anyone but Rienzo. This caused Clement to excommunicate Rienzo and to have him stripped of his title in 1347, choosing to replace him with Giovanni Cerroni a Roman Senator. But this proved fruitless and soon, Clement had greater problems on his hands. He was unable to bring a peaceful settlement to the 100-year war because of his bipartisan French roots, and so turned his attention to northern Italy where he dispatched the papal army to Romagna where it was defeated handily by Clement's episcopal adversary Cardinal Giovanni Visconti, Archbishop and Lord of Milan. Even though Clement suffered an embarrasing defeat that forced him to give Bologna concessions he had not wanted, he remained active on the political front in trying to unseat the Holy Roman Emperor Louis IV the Bavarian. To depose the latter, he sought to excommunicate him and place in his stead Charles, king of Bohemia who pledged his allegiance to the Holy See and pledged not to invade Italy. Louis ignored his interdict and refused to acknowledge Charles, but it became a fait accomplis on October 11, 1347 when Louis was killed during a boar-hunt. With his death Charles' crown was recognized and one of the good things is that Charles brought back to the Church the schismatic Franciscans and their rebellious leader William of Occam who made amends on his death bed.
Besides the great One Hundred Year War between France and England that had begun during Benedict XII's pontificate in 1337, there was another occurence that plunged Europe into woeful despair - the terrible Black Death. Brought to Europe from Asia via the trade routes in the mid forties of the fourteenth century, this deadly bubonic plague derived its name from the spots of blood which turned black just beneath the skin. It was carried by fleas and rats in the hulls of ships and spread from coastal cities inland throughout Europe. It literally shut down Europe as half of Europe's population would die from this lethal disease. It got so bad and the people so desperate that many accused the Jews of placing the infected rats in the wells. This rumor spread fast and no where was their more insurrection than in Germany, giving rise to the first antisemetic wave in a country where this would culminate six centuries later, also in the mid-forties, with the horrible holocaust orchestrated by Adolph Hitler. The plague hit Avignon in 1348 and, to his credit Clement VI disgarded the opulent life for one of a shepherd, comforting the sick, the poor, and going out of his way to defend the accused Jews. He issued an edict that would excommunicate anyone who persecuted the Jews, providing refuge in the Papal States for those persecuted Jews. It would seem this terrible plague provided a respite for Clement to amend his worldly ways and when he died from the plague himself on December 6, 1352 he had made his peace with God and the people, quite possibly through the intercession of Saint Bridget of Sweden who he had dismissed and not heeded.
In the next installment we shall see how the worldly French ways are perpetrated with Clement's successor Pope Innocent VI who draws the wrath of many of the faithful, including Saint Bridget, with his liberal use of the Inquisition for his own gains.
"All who, with sincere heart, seek My Mercy shall find It, for It is Infinite!"
Those wonderful words from the Sacred and Merciful Heart of Jesus in the 326th Message were imparted to the Hidden Flower of the Immaculate Heart on DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY in 1993, the same day Blessed Sister Faustina Kowalska, Messenger of Mercy was beatified by the Holy Father in St. Peter's Square. In His Message Our Lord reassures all that His Mercy is infinite and for all, but we must want it and be willing to seek it. It is a confirmation of His words in Sacred Scripture, "Knock, and it shall be opened to you." His Blessed Mother Mary conveys the same thing in her 327th Message, urging souls to drink from the Font of Divine Mercy by being humble and obedient and praying to be united with God's Holy Will. For the powerful messages 326 and 327, click on "I SOLEMNLY TELL YOU..."
Messages Three Hundred-Twenty-six and Three Hundred-Twenty-seven
Message Three Hundred-Twenty-six, April 18, 1993
(Imparted to the Hidden Flower by the Sacred Heart of Jesus)
(DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY)
Beloved Hidden Flower of My Mother's Immaculate Heart, say to all my children that all Heaven rejoices on this day for My beloved Servant Sister Faustina's work has begun. This, My children is Divine Mercy Sunday, and all who, with sincere heart, seek My Mercy shall find It, for It is Infinite!
Do not be lax, lazy! Come! Seek Me, your God. I await you eagerly. I call to each of you. Give Me, your God, all Honor and Worship in the True Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and let angels escort you to Me in the Holy Eucharist. Be transformed in Me, and learn My ways, the Ways of Obedience, Humility and Truth.
Proclaim My Mercy to all, that no one shall fear to approach Me. Yet let all approach with reverence and respect - for I am God.
Little children of My Mother's Immaculate Heart, I have sent My Mother to you. She has labored to prepare you for that which is to come.
I, Jesus Christ, desire to have you with Me. I died for you that you might die to self and live forever with Me. Will you then stay away from Me, heedless of all My Mother's words. Am I, your God, not also Perfectly Just? Why then do you deny the signs I have given. Will you continue to deny them as they increase?
The Hour of Great Justice has dawned! The place of refuge in your soul must be Me, through My Mother's Immaculate Heart. No longer tarry. You must seek Me, and cling to Me, for I alone am the Way, the Truth and the Life. Let no man despise My chosen messengers. Let men seek the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. Let all men be upon their knees in prayer, and let all earthly attachments be annihilated. Soon, the Justice shall destroy the evil of men, the wicked men shall perish.
That is why I desire to pour forth Divine Mercy, so that all may come to My Refuge.
I love you and bless you on this Divine Mercy Sunday! Pray for Mercy and it shall be given according to the measure of your Faith, Hope and Love.
O! If you but knew how close the Hour of Justice is you would never leave Me. Come, I await you! I am Jesus Christ, your God and Savior, Only Begotten Son of the Father, The Word made Flesh!
Message Three Hundred-Twenty-seven, April 19, 1993
(Imparted to the Hidden Flower by the Immaculate Heart)
Beloved Hidden Flower, I say to all my children: God loves you. I love you. I am calling each one of you by name into the Sacred Heart of my Divine Son.
He is God, the Word made Flesh, Savior and Redeemer. O! Will you continue along the path to perdition? Will your hearts remain as stone?
Little children, unless you pray you cannot be humble. If you are not humble you cannot be obedient. Only in obedience can you live fully in the Divine Will. This is my invitation to all.
The Year of Tears grows more sorrowful. Many of my little ones are gravely persecuted. Be strong. God alone is your defense.
I am with you. Thank you for responding to my Call!
LITURGY FOR TUESDAY AND WEDNESDAY
Today and tomorrow we commemorate the Final Tuesday and Wednesday of Late Advent. For the readings, liturgies, and meditations, click on LITURGY FOR THE DAY.
Tuesday, December 22, 1998
First Reading: 1 Samuel 1: 24-28
Psalms: 1 Samuel 2: 1, 4-8
Gospel Reading: Luke 1: 46-56
Wednesday, December 23, 1998
Wednesday December 23:
Final Wednesday of Late Advent and
Optional Memorial of Saint John Kanti, priest
First Reading: Malachi 3: 1-4, 23-24
Psalms: Psalm 25: 4-5, 8-10, 14 and Luke 21: 28
Gospel Reading: Luke 1: 57-66
Feast of Saint John Kanti
This Polish-born priest, also known as John of Cantiusstudied at the University of Cracow before his ordination, then returned to teach Sacred Scripture. Because of his fame as a preacher and great teacher a coup was formed to oust him from his tenure at the University. Nevertheless, his chief interest was souls and therefore he forgave his accusers and tended to the spiritual care of the poor in Cracow until he died on this date in 1473. Pope Clement XII proclaimed him Patron of Poland and Lithuania in 1737 and Pope Clement XIII canonized John in 1767.
PRAYERS & DEVOTION
This is the Seventh Day of Las Posadas, the Seventh Day of the Christmas Novena when we honor "the King" and the final week of Advent Prayers.. For the special Novena Prayer for this day during this time of preparation during Advent, click on ADVENT
ADVENT NOVENA PRAYER
O Triune Divinity, we come to you through the intercession of Blessed Mary, ever-Virgin, and St. Joseph, her chaste, holy spouse. In this season of Advent we desire to obtain the grace of purity of intention, that through our obedience to Your Heavenly Will, we, too, can transform our poor, miserable lives into the resplendent stable at Bethlehem where You Only-begotten Son was born.
Through the intercession of Mary, and all the hosts of Heaven, we beseech You, through the merits gained for us by Jesus Christ, Your Only-begotten Son, to help us convert our hearts, to live the messages of Your Mother, and to ardently beseech You to bring about the Triumph of Mary's Immaculate Heart now, that the Reign of the Sacred Heart might be upon the world.
Heavenly Father, we trust in Your goodness and beseech You to hear us, not because of our worthiness, but because of our willingness to be Your little children who kneel in adoration to their God. Come, let us adore Him!
PRAYER for December 22: Fourth Tuesday of Advent
O Mary, the journey is long, tedious. The road is crowded with others like yourself, going simply to be counted. No one realized you were the Mother of God, that you carried God in your womb, and that beside you walked the saintly man of faith St. Joseph. We ask both you and St. Joseph to be our companions in every step of our daily life, and as we approach the blessed hour in which Christ was born, may you open our hearts to receive Him, as you welcomed the poor shepherds who came to adore Him.
CHRISTMAS NOVENA (LAS POSADAS) PRAYERS
The earliest ecclesiastical novena of which the
Church has on record is the Christmas novena, which commemorates the nine
months during which the Christ-child was carried in the womb of His Mother and coincides with the
16th century Mexican tradition of Las Posadas. This Christmas Novena carries an Indulgence of 7 years once on any day as taken from the "Blessed Be God" Prayer Book, 1959.
PRAYER for December 22: SEVENTH DAY OF LAS POSADAS
O King of the Gentiles, yea, and desire thereof! O Corner-stone, that
makest of two one, come to save man, whom Thou hast made out of the dust of
the earth! (Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be)
Events Today in Church History
On this date in 401 Pope Saint Innocent I became the 40th successor of Peter. His pontificate was notable for he was the Supreme Pontiff who established the Roman rite, establishing Latin as the official language of the Church. For other pertinent events throughout the centuries that are memorable in Church history today, click on MILLENNIUM MILESTONES AND MEMORIES
Historical Events in Church Annals for December 22:
Election of Pope Saint Innocent I, 40th successor of Peter. This Roman-born pontiff's papacy would last sixteen years. During his pontificate Rome would be sacked by the Goths of Alaric. Innocent would also establish the observance of the Roman rite and persuade the Emperor Honorius to abandon gladiatorial contests in the arenas.
Pope Honorius III delegates the decree Religiosam vitam eligentibus announcing the Fifth Crusade.
Pope Leo XIII issues his 22nd encyclical Quod auctoritate proclaiming the extraordinary Jubilee.
NEWS & VIEWS
with a Catholic slant
Padre Pio to be beatified at St. Peter's Square on May 2, 1999
Just a little over thirty years after the death of the mystic Italian Capuchin priest Padre Piowho bore the sacred stigmata, the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints made it official yesterday by proclaiming he would be beatified on May 2, 1999 along with three others and ten blesseds would be canonized also in May. Record crowds are expected to swell St. Peter's Square since the weather will be ideal and this gentle priest from San Giovanni Rotundo was loved by millions.
For more, click on Padre Pio.
BEATIFICATION SET FOR PADRE PIO
VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- Fulfilling the predictions of Vatican
insiders, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints on Monday
formally approved a miracle attributed to the intercession of Padre
Pio, and announced that the renowned Capuchin monk and stigmatist
will be canonized on May 2, 1999.
The Congregation promulgated 16 decrees, in the presence of Pope
John Paul II and numerous Vatican officials. The decrees also
included a formal approval of a miracle attributed to Blessed
Josephine Bakhita, who lived as a slave in Sudan, and will now be
canonized sometime in 1999.
The decrees announced on Monday pave the way for the
canonization of 10 other new saints, and beatification of 3 other
candidates in addition to Padre Pio. The Congregation also announced
findings of "heroic virtue" in the lives of 30 Brazilian martyrs, 2
bishops, 3 priests, 1 monk, and 3 nuns-- all of whom will now be
eligible for beatification upon the approval of a miracle attributed to
The pending beatification of Padre Pio had been widely rumored in
the Italian press, especially last week. Because of the worldwide
veneration of the monk, who died in September 1968 after drawing
hundreds of thousands of pilgrims to his monastery at San Giovanni
Rotondo, the date for his beatification was announced well in
advance. Rome is bracing for the arrival of an immense crowd for his
Coincidentally, the last crowd to overfill St. Peter's Square for
beatification ceremonies came on May 17, 1992, for the beatification
of Blessed Josemaria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei, and of Blessed
Josephine Bakhita. Although the Congregation made no mention of
Msgr. Escriva in the latest decrees, Blessed Josephine was cleared for
canonization-- with no date yet set for the ceremony.
Holy Father voices his great displeasure with American attacks on Iraq during Sunday Angelus, lambasts war!
Recovered from his flu sufficiently to address the throngs in St. Peter's, the Pope used his regular Sunday Angelus talk to speak out strongly against the three-day attacks on Iraq by U.S. and British military forces. He reiterated that war solves nothing and the only ones who suffer are the innocent civilians, pawns in the great political, military game of their countries' leaders. He urged more efforts be placed in "dialog and diplomacy" with a respect for all human life. He also encouraged all to celebrate Christmas as a sacred feast, not just a secular holiday. For more, click on Sunday Angelus.
POPE CONDEMNS IRAQ BOMBING, CALLS FOR PEACE
VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- In his Angelus address on Sunday,
December 20, Pope John Paul II spoke out against the British-
American bombing of Iraq, admitted to bitter disappointment at the
failure of international organizations to maintain the peace, and
voiced his "profound sorrow" for the suffering of the Iraqi people.
The Pope told a large crowd of pilgrims that his hopes in
international organizations and in the rule of international law have
been frequently disappointed. But he continued to pray "that human
solidarity and respect for international order will prevail."
"War has never been and never will be an adequate means for
resolving problems among nations," the Pontiff said. He had been
warning about the mounting risks in Iraq for a month, he pointed
out, and at his November 15 audience he asked international leaders
not to lose confidence in "the way of dialog and diplomacy."
The Vatican had condemned the American announcement of missile
strikes on Iraq, saying that the move constituted "aggression."
Pope John Paul-- for whom the Sunday audience was his first public
appearance after a brief bout with the flu-- also noted that as
Christmas approaches, it is important to maintain a spiritual outlook,
so that the celebration is not merely one of a "folklorish feast," but a
recognition of the "profound truth" of the Incarnation.
Chicago Cardinal announces plans to control ill winds of education woes in windy city
Cardinal Francis George, OMI intends to do some creative fundraising to stave off the deteriorating state of Catholic education in his archdiocese of Chicago. He cited that everyone is looking at the physical plants and not beneath the surface where if the people do not fund this vital lifeline of education for Catholic parents the public school system will be burdened with an additional 130,000 students, thus taxing all parents and school administrators. For more, click on Chicago Catholic schools.
ARCHBISHOP PROPOSES NEW FUNDING SYSTEM FOR CATHOLIC EDUCATION IN
CHICAGO, 20 (NE) "So much of our energy has gone into
maintaining the present system that we have not imagined
something quite different. The work of imagining has begun in
earnest now," said recently Cardinal Francis E. George,
Archbishop of Chicago, facing the difficult situation in
relation to the funding of catholic schools of the archdiocese.
The funds obtained by the Archdiocese, which maintain the
Catholic educative system, are becoming insufficient to sustain
the education of the 131.000 students that actually benefit from
Seeking to solve this difficult situation, Cardinal George
has presented to the archdiocese a 1-year program in order to
investigate all the possible means to raise funding -private,
governmental or other- that will allow Catholic schools in the
archdiocese to continue running. "The ongoing education of the
131,000 students now in Catholic schools in Cook and Lake
counties, as well as the other students in Catholic schools
statewide, is a public concern," said Cardinal George. According
to recent statistics received by the archdiocese, if the
Catholic school system ceased to exist in Cook and Lake
counties, government would be forced to absorb the education of
131,000 students at a cost to taxpayers of slightly under $1
For more News articles, go to SECTION TWO
November 25th Medjugorje Monthly Message
Dear children! Today I call you to prepare yourselves for the coming of Jesus. In a special way, prepare your hearts. May holy Confession be the first act of conversion for you and then, dear children, decide for holiness. May your conversion and decision for holiness begin today and not tomorrow. Little children, I call you all to the way of salvation and I desire to show you the way to Heaven. That is why, little children, be mine and decide with me for holiness. Little children, accept prayer with seriousness and pray, pray, pray. Thank you for having responded to my call. For more on Medjugorje, click on MEDJUGORJE AND MORE
Click here to go to SECTION TWO or click here to return to the graphics front page of this issue.
December 22, 1998 volume 9, no. 247 DAILY CATHOLIC