DAILY CATHOLIC   WEDNESDAY    December 1, 1999    vol. 10, no. 228


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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 second half of the Sixth Century, the Century of the growth of monasticism when Saint Benedict would become the father of western monasticism with the establishment of his Order of Benedictines and the time leading up to the Gregorian era which we cover today in chronicling the achievements of Pope Saint Gregory the Great.       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 Twenty-nine

The Agony and ecstasy of the Church after Pope Gregory the Great - part one

The Rise of the Holy Roman Empire

        Twenty popes followed Pope Saint Leo III who died on June 12, 816. Today we will cover seven of those from Leo III to Pope Saint Leo IV. The former not only spanned the eighth and ninth century, but ushered in the Holy Roman Empire when he coronated Charlemagne as the first Holy Roman Emperor on Christmas day in 800 A.D.

        With his passing after a 21-year pontificate, Pope Saint Stephen IV was elected on June 22, 816. Like Leo he was born in Rome, but unlike Leo his papacy lasted a very short time for he passed away on January 24, 817. During his short term he tried to avoid internal riots and rebellion by instituting a loyalty oath to the Holy Roman Emperor which was contingent on his reciprocal loyalty to the Pope. He also traveled to Reims to crown Charlemagne's son and successor Emperor Louis I as King of the Franks and Holy Roman Emperor and proclaim his wife Ermengarda Queen of the Franks.

        A day after Stephen's death, Pope Saint Pascal I, another Roman, became the 98th successor of Peter. He would give the Holy See more longevity, six years longer than Stephen but only a third of Pope St. Leo III's reign. The Holy Roman Emperor Louis I, also known as "Louis the Pious" presented the new Pope with the islands of Corsica and Sardinia and the Papal States were underway. St. Pascal was consumed with perpetuating the memory of the martyrs and worked tirelessly in overseeing excavation of various catacombs and reburying with proper ceremonies over 2300 martyrs. He died on February 11, 824.

        He was followed by Pope Eugene II on May 11, 824. Also a Roman by birth, Eugene is the Vicar of Christ who first instituted the seminary system for priests. To him is also attributed the origin of the present Roman Curia for he organized a supreme council for carrying out the canons and ecclesiastical laws on the books at that time. Many believe he would have done even more had his pontificate lasted longer but he was called home to Heaven on August 27, 827.

        The people of Rome were overjoyed on September 1, 827 when one of their own was again elected, a man renowned for his pious character and charity - Pope Valentine as the 100th Vicar in the line of Peter. But that joy was turned to immense sorrow when Pope Valentine died two weeks later on September 16, 827, causing great mourning in the streets of Rome.

        His successor would bring longevity to Rome but not stability. Pope Gregory IV was elected four days after Valentine's death. His seventeen-year pontificate was marked by battles for he was a militant Pontiff, organizing a powerful Papl army and placing it under the command of the Duke of Tuscany who led the troops to victory over the Saracens in Africa, turning away not once, but five times the Islam threat as wave after wave of infidels persistently tried to regroup; each time the Papal army defeated them in Africa. But relentless as they were, Gregory could not stop the determined onslaught and the Islam menace infiltrated the Italian shores, destroying Civitavecchia and Ostia and threatened Rome. Weakened by illness, Gregory was not able to rally the troops and died on January 11, 844.

        Pope Sergius II was left with the turmoil in Rome when elected a few days after Gregory's death in 844. Like his predeccessor, Sergius was powerless to stop the Saracens from laying siege to Rome and sacking the Basilica of St. Paul and other churches throughout the eternal city. However, thanks to prayer and renewed resolve and help from reinvorced troops the Papal army was able to turn the infidels away at Gaeta and Rome was once again saved. During his three year papacy, Sergius reassembled the Holy Stairs, also known as the Praetorium. He passed away on January 27, 847.

        Another Roman followed him in the 103rd successor of Peter who was Pope Saint Leo IV. Strange as it may seem, he was the first Pope to put dates on official Papal documents and decrees. He also passed a resolution allowing Venetians the right to elect their own Doge and though, at the time this did not have repercussions, in the centuries ahead this would lead to excommunication of Venice. To ensure Rome's safety against another attack by either the Saracens or the Lombards, he refortified the city, building walls around the Vatican Hill, some that still stand today. After an eight-year pontificate he passed on to eternal life on July 17, 855.

        Next week we will cover the thirteen Pontiffs who ruled the Holy See during the second half of the ninth century.

Next Wednesday: Installment Thirty: The Rise of the Holy Roman Empire part two: The Apostolic Line of Peter for the second part of the ninth century

December 1, 1999       volume 10, no. 228


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