DAILY CATHOLIC   THURSDAY    April 29, 1999    vol. 10, no. 84


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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 cover the period in which THE BLOOD OF THE MARTYRS REPLENISHES A FLOURISHING CHURCH, part two covering the Popes during the first half of the Third Century.       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 Nine

part two: The Early Popes - The First Half of the Third Century

          With the death of Pope Saint Victor in 199, his successor Pope Saint Zephyrinus became the 15th in the line of Peter and ruled the longest any pontiff up to that time - 18 years. This Roman-born Pope decreed that young people 14 years and over should receive Holy Communion at Easter time, thus establishing the "Easter Duty." He papacy was characterized by bitter theological struggles and it ended in great confusion when he was forced to excommunicate the great Christian historian Tertullian. It was Zephyrinus who introduced the use of the paten and of chalices of cut glass.

          He died in 217 at the hands of the Roman Emperor Caracalla the Cruel and was succeeded to the Apostolic See by Pope Saint Callistus. This Roman-born Pope lasted five years and during this time Latin became the Liturgical Language of the Church and Callistus was responsible for the excavation of the famous catacombs on the Via Appia where today 45 Popes and 200,000 martyrs are buried including Callistus who was beaten to death with clubs and his remains thrown into a well where "Santa Maria in Trastevere" now stands. Pope Callistus not only established the four fasts for Ember days, but it was this 16th pope who decreed Latin to be the official language of the liturgy which has held true ever since. His reasoning followed because for nearly two centuries Latin had been the unofficial language of the common people of Rome and nearby vicinities. As often happens in a class system, there is a division not only in culture but also in language and dialect. So, it was in Rome. Because of the Greek influence, many of those born of noble Roman birth retained and passed on the Greek language and customs.

          One of these was Hippolytus a Roman priest who was constantly a thorn in Callistus' side. Upon Callistus' election as Pope Hippolytus broke away from Rome, and became the first antipope in history. Despite the volatile actions of this heretic, before his defection he composed the Apostolic Tradition. This prayer in part has been passed on to this day in the Eucharistic Prayer after the Offertory.

          Another tradition credited to Hippolytus was the origin of the Kiss of Peace. Many liturgical scholars attribute its origin to the procedure of segregating men and women into different locations during the mass. This was a throwback to Jewish custom, strongly adopted by the Greeks that women would not participate in religious services except in outer circles of the temple or sanctuary. It was a custom that Christ observed as part of Jewish law and the Church carried on regarding the priesthood and Holy Mass until the advent of the feminist movement which conversely deeply influenced Vatican II.

          Many Church historians presume Hippolytus had been born of noble parents and nurtured in the Greek language. In short, he was a scholar. On the other side of the proverbial coin Callistus had been born a slave and always clung to the needs of the poor.

          Those, like Callistus, who had been slaves, non-Romans and those who were poor rejected the Greek either out of lack of formal education or their despise for what pagan Rome stood for. They, in turn, adopted Latin as Christians who were, for the most part, in and among the poor as Christ had directed quickly embraced a means of communication and it.

          Yet, insurrection was inevitable from the Greek camp. Fired up by Hippolytus they objected vehemently to the abandonment of their language. Only a few things of Greek such as the Kyrie Leison were retained. It was an all-out victory for Latin, but left scars that lasted for centuries and eventually led to a split between East and West.

          As time passed, more and more Latin was incorporated into the liturgy of the Mass because it was the common language of the people, they could identify as the language of the Church wherever they went, and it became a possessive tongue where the Christians guarded and treasured this new speech. His Holiness Callistus also reasoned that if the liturgy was conducted in Latin universally, Christians could more readily identify and participate wherever they went. From 220 to 1965, this was the rule rather than the exception. Unfortunately today it's the exception rather than the rule.

          The establishment of Latin was St. Callistus' most recognized accomplishment and eventually he returned to his roots, driven to take shelter in the poor and populous quarters of Rome during the terrible persecution of the Emperor Alexander Severus. Pope Callistus was martyred on October 14, 223.

          Pope Saint Urban I succeeded him for the next seven years. It was Urban who converted Saint Cecilia to Christianity and had a church built on th site of her martydom in Trastevere in 230 just before he, too was martyred under Severus. It was St. Urban I who consented to the Church being allowed to purchase property.

          On July 21, 230 Pope Saint Pontian was elected. During his five year pontificate he ordered the chanting of the psalms and the recital of the Confiteor before death and the use of the salutation Dominus vobiscum. Severus, as he had done to Pontian's predecessors, exiled him to Sardinia along with Hippolytus. Through Pontian's counsel, Hippolytus repented, renouncing his title as antipope and encouraged his followers to return to the true Church. The schism caused by Hippolytus was reconciled and Hippolytus became Saint Hippolytus, shedding his blood for Christ at the hands of his Roman persecutors in 235. Pontian was condemned to work in the mines of Sardinia where he died suffering on the tiny island of Tavolara on September 28, 235.

          The next in the line of pontiffs was Pope Saint Anterus, elected on November 21, 235 who was pope for only a few months, being martyred on January 3, 236 by Severus' successor the Roman Emperor Maximinus, a barbarian from Thrace. St. Anterus ordered that the acts and relics of the martyrs be gathered together and kept in churches in a place called the "scrinium".

          On January 10, 236 Pope Saint Fabian became the 20th in the line of Peter and ruled 14 years until his death as a martyr on January 20, 250 at the hands of the Roman Emperor Decius. It is recorded that at the moment Fabian's name was announced as the next Sovereign Pontiff, a dove, symbol of the Holy Spirit, alighted on his head. During his pontificate there was such an exodus of Christians from Rome because of the fierce persecution of the wicked Decius that it gave birth to the movement away from Rome, mostly in Turkey and Northern Africa, known as the Anchorites who led lives of solitude as hermits.

Next Wednesday: Installment Ten: The Blood of the Martyrs replenish a flourishing Church part three - Popes of the second half of the Third Century

April 29, 1999       volume 10, no. 84


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