Due to Mother Teresa's undying love for Christ, today over 5000 sisters, brothers and volunteers run approximately 500 centers worldwide, feeding 500,000 families and helping 90,000 lepers every year. During her life she commented: "I am Albanian by birth. Now I am a citizen of India. I am also a Catholic nun. In my work, I belong to the whole world. But in my heart, I belong to Christ." To her nuns she taught this simple prayer, which carried the whole of their mission in just a few words: "I am nothing. He is all. I do nothing of my own. He does it. I am God's pencil. A tiny bit of pencil with which He writes what He likes. God writes through us, and however imperfect instruments we may be, He writes beautifully."
And mother carried out her mission beautifully, not for the beautiful people of the world, but for the beautiful people of God whose scars, lesions, diseases, maladies, addictions, afflictions, deformities, and utter squalor in poverty were jewels in Heaven's eyes and Mother Teresa saw it as clearly as anyone, and, upholding their precious gift of human dignity, molded these poorest of the poor, the most wretched of the wretched, the sickest of the sick, into beautiful vessels for God. Truly, this angel of mercy was a holy vessel of love.
He was replaced by Pope Saint Nicholas I, another Roman whose papacy lasted nine years. His thorn was the Emperor Louis II as the two went at it tooth and nail in arguing over territories and jurisdictions, but the Saracen threat bonded the two as uneasy allies and the two formed an army against the infidel threat. St. Nicholas also strenuously defended the freedoms of the Church against the Eastern Patriarch Photius. Probably Pope St. Nicholas' greatest achievement was establishing August 15th for the Feast of the Assumption. The Dogma of the Assumption, however,would not be proclaimed until just under 1,100 years later by Pope Pius XII. Nicholas died on November 13, 867.
Pope Hadrian II followed him a month later on December 14, 867 and was the only pontiff to have been elected and die on the same date five years later. He crowned Alfred the Great as King of England and Emperor Louis II as Holy Roman Emperor for Hadrian was a peacemaker and made amends with Louis for both realized they needed each other. He also tried to settle various quarrels between various Catholic countries and peoples and convened the 8th Ecumenical Council at Constantinople in 869 ending the Greek schism and deposing Photius. Hadrian also was the Pontiff who consecrated Saint Methodius the Archbishop of Sirmium in Yugoslavia and gave him, along with Saint Cyril - both considered the "Apostles of the Slavs" - permission to use the Old Slavonic language in place of the Latin liturgy. From this evolved the Cyrillic alphabet. Hadrian passed on exactly five years from the date he was elected. Cyril died in 869, four years after Saint Ansgar received his Heavenly reward for his missionary work in Norway and Sweden as the "Apostle of Scandinavia."
With Hadrian's passing imminent Pope John VIII was elected a day before his death to assure continuity and that would continue for a full decade as John ruled from December 13, 872 to December 16, 882. He defeated the Saracens at Terracina near Rome with only the help of Roman troops because, after coronating Charles the Gross as Holy Roman Emperor the latter went south on the Pope and his commitments. Because of this John suffered a devastating subsequent defeat later in his pontificate at the hands of the infidels and force to pay a huge ransom from the coffers of the Holy See.
His successor was Pope Marinus I who reigned for two years from December 16, 882 to May 15, 884. With the Eastern schisms rising their ugly heads again, he exerted great pressure on the Eastern Patriarch Basil to crack down on schismatics or face the same fate that happened to Photius. Marinus was a blunt man and garnered many enemies. For that reason it was never discovered who poisoned him, but it was suspected one of the Italian families after he tried to solve the quarrels among the various clans.
Pope Saint Hadrian III followed as the next Pope on May 17, 884, two days after Marinus' death. Though his papacy lasted a year and a half, he followed through on what his predecessors had not done - totally eradicate Photius' threat and back up the Council's decrees. He was on his way to France at the invite of Charles the Gross who had made overtures of helping, when he died in San Cesario along the journey in September of 885.
The 110th successor in the line of Peter was Pope Stephen V, elected in September 885 and died in September six years later. He felt so unworthy of being elected Pope he barricaded himself in his house but the people wanted him to accept the highest honor in the Church and broke down the doors by force, carrying him off to the St. Peter's where they set him on the throne. He dissuaded practice of superstitions, prohibiting trials by fire and by water in the courts and showed an intense interest toward the arts and crafts, encouraging its advancement. He was called home to Heaven on September 14, 891.
Ostian-born Pope Formosus followed Stephen on October 6, 891. While he was a cardinal he had been excommunicated by Pope John VIII because he had crowned Arnolfo as King of Italy. The latter would go on to become Emperor of Germany. Formosus was received back in the good graces of the Church by Pope St. Hadrian II and is most renowned for bringing Christianity to Bulgaria through his zeal. He died on April 4, 896.
Five Popes would follow over the next four years. They were Pope Boniface VI, a Roman who followed Formosus. Many believe he was elected by the anti-Formosus faction, but their hopes of reversing things with one of their own backfired for Formosus' papacy lasted only two weeks. Pope Stephen VI succeeded him on May 22, 896 and he, too, was a victim of internal factions and not an admirer of Formosus. He was one of the viler Popes who had the body of Formosus exhumed and tossed into the Tiber River after a mock trial demeaning him. His actions created an insurrection from Formosus' followers and he was captured and strangled by them in August 897. The pro-Formosus faction was able to get Pope Romanus elected in August 897 and his first act was to restore the memory of Formosus and give him a proper memorial burial. His fate however was sealed by this act as the anti-Formosus faction stole into his inner sanctum and poisoned him in November 897. The revolving door continued Pope Theodore II as the 115th in the line of Peter in December 897. He died the same month after governing for only 20 days. He was a pro-Formosus Pope who recovered the body after it had been dug up by anti-Formosus factions and tossed in the river again. He gave it a proper burial in the Vatican and shortly after succumbed to poisoning like his predecessor, most likely by the same anti-Formosus henchmen. With his death Pope John IX became the compromise choice in January 898 and, to avoid the ridiculous internal struggles among the pro and anti-Formosus factions, exercised supremacy of the Church over Rome and all its territories, reestablishing the right of Imperioal intervention in the consecration of the Popes to avoid the kind of farce and tragedies that had occurred several times during the last decade of the ninth century. Shortly after ushering in the tenth century, he died in January 900.
The second part of the ninth century saw the conversion of the Saxons, Northmen, Swedes, Norwegians and Bohemians and the suppression of the apostasy by Photius who was seeking to separate the Eastern from the Western Church. Unfortunately he was successful in many ways even though he was deposed he had split the chasm - one that would only widen during the next two centuries resulting in the final Great Eastern Schism in 1054.
Next week we will cover the thirteen Pontiffs who ruled the Holy See during the first half of the tenth century.
Pope Saint Sergius I is elected 84th successor of Peter, ruling for 14 years. Nominated after two antipopes, he would strive to extinguish the schism which had arisen in Rome itself, and would succeed in terminating Aquileia Sergius would introduce the use of the Agnus Dei into the Holy Mass.
Death of Saint Mary di Rosa, foundress of the Handmaid of Charity in Brescia which ministered to the wounded on the warfront in Northern Italy and in the hospitals of Breschia. Five years after Pope Pius IX gave papal approval for her order, she died at Breschia of a disease at the age of 42 on this date and nearly a century later was canonized by Pope Pius XII.
John J. O'Connor is ordained a priest at the age of 25 in Philadelphia. He, of course, would go on to be elevated to bishop and appointed cardinal by Pope John Paul II on May 25, 1985. He remains the ranking prelate in America, is a representative of the Curia and is one of the most respected cardinals serving as the Archbishop of New York.
Pope Pius XII publishes his 25th encyclical Orientales Ecclesias on the persecutions suffered by the Eastern Church.
The Gospels, written by the four evangelists, are the keystone of the Liturgy of the Word in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and are recylced in Church liturgy every three years.
Matthew,one of the twelve Apostles, was a tax-collector or publican called Levi before he followed Our Lord. His Gospel was first composed in his native Aramaic, the "Hebrew tongue" mentioned in the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles and geared for his fellow-countrymen - the Jews of Palestine, both believers and unbelievers. Matthew was the first Evangelist to write the Gospel, about six years after Our Lord's Ascension. His work was translated into Greek in the time of the Apostles. His work shows Jesus as proving Himself to be the promised Messiah and is often referred to as the "Gospel of Fulfillment" or the "Gospel of the Kingdom." He is represented by a man with wings, such as an angel because of references to the "Kingdom." His feast is celebrated on September 21st in Church Liturgy.
Mark was the disciple of St. Peter, and wrote according to what he heard from Peter himself. He wrote for the Christians of Rome about ten years after Our Lord's Ascension. St. Peter approved what he wrote, which shows Christ as the Son of God. It is historically certain that he wrote the second Gospel in Rome sometime before the year 60 A.D. Mark is the patron saint of Venice where his body lies in state at the Cathedral in his name. His work shows the great power of God and is represented as a Lion in symbology. His feast falls on April 25th.
Luke, a Syrian by birth who was born in Antioch, was converted by St. Paul and became his disciple. He wrote about twenty-four years after Our Lord's Ascension, for a distinguished citizen of Rome - Theophilus. He had great literary powers which shows through in his composition His work contains many details about the Blessed Virgin Mary including her fiat at the Annunciation and Visitation, something not covered by the other evangelists. He was a physician by trade and is symbolized as the ox. October 18th is the date of his traditional feast day in the Church.
John was Christ's Beloved Disciple. He wrote about sixty-three years after Our Lord's Ascension even though he had been a first-hand witness like Matthew. The last of the Apostles to die, he wrote in his old age to testify, against heretics who had arisen, that Jesus Christ is truly God. He was particularly close to Jesus and this shows for he reveals a different bent in his writings, emphasizing the Father-Son relationship between God the Father and God the Son. He is signified by the eagle, for his writings attained spiritual heights. His feast day is celebrated on December 27th each year.
Finally he was released on June 16, 1954. Emaciated and ill, he returned to Pinsk where his bishop assigned him to his former parish and he regained his strength, spurred on by his parishioners who loved him dearly. On February 11, 1988 he was named Chaplain of His Holiness. The following year he became Vicar General of the Pinsk Diocese on April 11, 1989. With the fall of the iron curtain, Pope John Paul II, no stranger to communism, named him Archbishop of Minsk-Mohilev on April 13, 1991 and he was ordained and installed with great pomp and circumstance on May 21, 1991 as well as being appointed Apostolic Administrator of Pinsk. The Holy Father rewarded him with the cardinalate during his Consistory of November 26, 1994 bestowing on him the titular church of St. Gerard Majella. Though no longer eligible to vote in the Sacred Conclave, even at the age of 85, he still continues as Archbishop showing remarkable strength for someone of his age and earlier travails at the hands of the communists.