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TUESDAY      February 16, 1999      SECTION ONE       vol 10, no. 32

To print out entire text of Today's issue, print this section as well as SECTION TWO

"Life is Beautiful" is a film that will touch your heart and soul like no other for it is truly Bellisima!

      In today's editorial we bare our heart and soul just as that Italian master thespian Roberto Benigni has done in his masterpiece classic for the ages - "Life is Beautiful", known in Italian circles as "La Vita e Bella". Here's one Lenten resolution that will edify and educate, and leave you a better person for seeing it. We must warn you though - you'll never be the same again after seeing this classic movie so highly recommended by the Holy Father. For today's commentary entitled The international language of love!, click on CATHOLIC PewPOINT.

The international language of love!

Michael Cain, editor

The struggle between Council and Pope hinders the papacy of Pope Martin V in his bid to reform the Church and her hierarchy

      Intimidation can go a long way in curtailing the results of accomplishments and this was Pope Martin V's fate after the Council of Constance ruled that they were superior to the Sovereign Pontiff in determining policy. This could have been disastrous for a Church that had just settled a four decade-long schism that split Europe. But Martin was a strong military leader who was able to recoup much of the lost papal territories lost during the schism and replenish the badly depleted papal coffers. Though intimidated by the Council, Martin managed to evade their interference by enacting reforms. Yet, because of the Council's power, they could not be followed through and, because of this, it opened the door for dissent among those who turned their back on Rome in favor of the new rationalism of the day. For the ninety-third installment titled Pope Martin V: The struggle to begin anew , click on THE HISTORY OF THE MASS AND HOLY MOTHER CHURCH.
Installment Ninety-three

Pope Martin V: The struggle to start anew

      Finally the Great Schism of the West was over with the decision at the Council of Constance in July, 1417. It was left to the Conclave to choose someone who could heal the deep wounds that had ripped Holy Mother Church apart and left many of the faithful disallusioned. Pope Gregory XII, who had convened the Council stepped aside for the good of the Church and John XXIII, the antipope from Pisa had been deposed. That left only the upstart Benedict XIII who had pretended to be the pope since 1394 first at Avignon and then Peniscola on the Spanish coast. He naturally refused to recognize the council's decision which prompted Spain, who had been loyal to him, to abandon him. In short, he was without any support but stubbornly holed himself up in a castle refusing to accept reality. From that point on he was never a factor again and died a broken, bitter man on May 23, 1423. Thus, on November 11, 1417 twenty-two cardinals and an unusual contingent of thirty representatives comprised from Italy, France, Spain, Germany and England met for three days at Constance and on the third day unanimously chose 49 year-old Cardinal Oddo Colonna. Born in Gennazano, Italy he had studied law at Perugia and been made a cardinal by Pope Innocent VII. He had at first been a supporter of Gregory XII, but was one of those who deserted Gregory when the Pope strayed. He took up the cause of John XXIII, but bowed in obedience to the Council. He chose the name Pope Martin V owing to the fact he had been elected on the feast of Saint Martin of Tours.

      While many thought he would re-enact reforms that would bring all back in line with the Church, he was a disappointment in the fact he feared the Council which declared they were more powerful than the Pope. Martin bought this and it haunted him throughout his fourteen year pontificate. Nevertheless, the Council had the same goals as the Pope so in this case it was beneficial to the Church. With their guidance, Martin restructured the Roman Curia, populating it with those who had been loyal to Rome and Avignon as well, but this still did not curtail many of the abuses within the ecclesial hierarchy. Martin published seven reforms on March 20, 1418 which dealt with papal taxation and the abuses most prevalent in papal terriotries. He set about to negotiate with the five nations individually concordats that would relax the taxes if these countries' leaders could assure they would uphold the papal rights to these territories and adhere to Church law. Through this painstaking, long process Martin was able to recover many of the provisions lost during the Great Schism that had lasted nearly forty years. During this time he had maintained residency and the papal headquarters in Constance because his chief rival was Braccione di Montone who steadfastly refused to give up central Italy as a Papal State. Martin moved on to Mantua and Florence for a year each before finally being able to enter Rome on September 28, 1420. Once back at the Vatican Martin set his sights on defeating Montone. To complement his military efforts he called on the Council to aid him, convoking a Council in 1423 at Siena, but a severe plague broke out and it had to be disbanded. At approximately the same time Benedict XIII had died and the four cardinals he had appointed in Spain chose a successor antipope as he had demanded. They chose Clement VIII. Martin offered full reconciliation to Clement and the other three cardinals if he would agree to abdicate, but, like Benedict, he refused. But he met his own fate because of his penchant for simony and would be deposed by his own cardinals who elected Benedict XIV on November 12, 1425 who was even less effective than his two predecessor antipopes. A year before that Martin finally defeated the upstart Italian Montone, known as the Lord of Perugia, at the Battle of L'Aquila. But his problems weren't over for a northern Italy revolt in Bologna threw that entire northern region into rebellion and disharmony. It wasn't until 1429 that Martin's armies were able to quell this riot. The victories enabled him to recover lost territories and treasures that rebuilt the papal coffers.

      While militarily he was successful, pastorally he was mediocre. To his credit and through the prompting of Saint Bernadine of Siena he spread devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus by approving the cult begun by this Franciscan devoted to reform in the spirit of its founder. Martin also set about to reconstruct and renovate numerous churches as well as both religious and secular institutions in Rome that had fallen into disrepair. He sought the help of "starving artists" who were at the threshold of the Renaissance. Their work attests to their mastery and much of it still stands today as a tribute to the man some historians call the "Restorer of Rome." In fact, Martin was the first to inaugurate the opening of the "Holy Door" which was then at the Lateran Basilica.

      Martin was a strict disciplinarian, keeping a close eye on the cardinals he had appointed and forcing them to live up to the high expectations he asked. But his problem was with those prelates who had already been set in place before his election. Many refused to go along with the reforms and he was powerless to prevent it, despite numerous proclamations and threats, due largely to the power the Council had wielded. In effect he was a "Paper Pope," writing many proclamations with no muscle. That was sad because he truly had intended to suppress those who were followers of the Bohemian reformer John Huss. He preached tolerance for the Jews regarding penalties on those who forced Jews to be baptized without full knowledge and commitment to the Catholic faith. He also launched a crusade against the Hussites, but the problems in the east where his failure to reunite Constantinople and Rome troubled him deeply and the tensions in England and France, where the 100 year was still in progress, prevented him from following through in suppressing the heretics. It was the beginning of the Protestant Reformation that would take full flight less than a century later.

      As much as he wanted to evade facing another council, he had no choice but to submit to the the Council fathers. Martin, in one of his final acts, chose Cardinal Cesarini to oversee the Council of Basle on February 1, 1431. Historians say the Pope was treated as an equal and not afforded the dignity that should have been reserved for the Bishop of Rome and Vicar of Christ for the Universal Church. The Council was, in effect, getting too big for their britches in believing their press clippings that they were superior to the successor of Peter. But before they could exact decisions, Martin died of apoplexy on February 20, 1431 three weeks after the council had convened. It would be left to his successor Pope Eugene IV to face the Council head-on in a battle for papal supremacy.

Next issue: Pope Eugene IV: Taking on the Council in a struggle to the end

CATHOLIC CANVAS: Daily Dose of curious contents of the Church

Shrove Tuesday

      Today is the last day before Lent, referred to as "Shrove Tuesday." The name is derived from the Anglo Saxon word scrifan which was translated to "shrive" meaning to hear one's confession and give absolution in the Sacrament of Penance. It is part of the three day preparation for Lent prior to Ash Wednesday, referred to as "Shrovetide" which incorporated "Shrove Sunday," "Shrove Monday" and "Shrove Tuesday." In 130 A.D. Pope Saint Telesphorus instituted Quinquagesima Sunday which is also Shrove Sunday or the Sunday immediately before Lent in order to impress on the faithful the need for preparation to do penance and fast. Over the centuries Quinquagesima Sunday has been incorporated into the Sunday of Ordinary Time and Shrove Tuesday is the only day remembered in the concept intended by Telesphorus. It became customary during medieval times for the citizens to exhaust the excess of fruits and vegetables they had accrued over the winter so they would not go to waste during the strict fasting period of Lent. Therefore they would hold a carnival of sorts to share the food and drink with others which became a social fest for all to celebrate over the years. Unfortunately this time of preparation, of depleting excess supplies and eliminating sin from the soul through confession, bowed to more emphasis on the celebratory "make hay while the sun shines" philosophy and Christian festivals gave way to the pagan ritual of Carnival and Mardi Gras which began in France during the French Revolution. It was a direct assault against the Church and in mockery this once-Christian festival of pardon and sharing became a garish display of all the wanton vices the Church condemned. Over the centuries this debauchery has grown worse where the false belief has arisen that one can sin all they want on Shrove Tuesday and then confess their sins the next day and be totally forgiven. They forget to realize this is not the purpose of the Sacrament of Reconciliation which they mock with this false belief for absolution is conditioned on the sincere contrition of the individual to avoid the occasions of sin. Partaking in the orgy-like atmosphere of Carnival and Mardi Gras celebrations is definitely not in concert with what God or His Church direct. Today this festival atmosphere has grown so large in Rio de Janiero and New Orleans respectively that sin is the watchword and confession the farthest thing from most. It wouldn't be a bad idea to offer Lent in reparation for the sins committed by so many out of either ignorance to God's law or the downright rejection of His statutes. (sources: The Glories and Triumphs of the Catholic Church, Benziger Brothers; Catholic Encyclopedia, Thomas Nelson Publishers; Webster's Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Publishers).

SIMPLY SHEEN: Suffering and penance are rewarded only when we allow God to steer us

      They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but the words of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen have been known to launch a thousand images in one's mind, one of the ways this late luminary did so much to evangelize the faith. Because of the urgency of the times and because few there are today who possess the wisdom, simplicity and insight than the late Archbishop who touched millions, we are bringing you daily gems from his writings. The good bishop makes it so simple that we have dubbed this daily series: "SIMPLY SHEEN".

"God breathes on us in our joys; He whispers in our conscience; He speaks in our troubles; and He shouts in our pains. Suffering is too great a mystery for reason to fully comprehend its meaning; its understanding demands a loftiness of soul and surrender of spirit which few are prepared to make."

"Empty yourself of self and God shall fill you with all good."

      Even though those words were conveyed by the Blessed Mother to the Hidden Flower of the Immaculate Heart in late August 1993, they apply to today as we prepare tomorrow for Lent. Our Lady, in both Message #393 and #394 implores her children to turn our backs on the world, to pray and fast and do penance in order that her Immaculate Heart may triumph sooner and we will have the Reign of the Sacred Heart. For these two Messages, click on "I SOLEMNLY TELL YOU..."

Messages Three Hundred-Ninety-five and Three Hundred-Ninety-six

Message Three Hundred-Ninety-five, August 27, 1993

(Imparted to the Hidden Flower by the Immaculate Heart of Mary)
(Feast of Saint Monica, Mother of Saint Augustine)

Message Three Hundred-Ninety-six, August 29, 1993

(Imparted to the Hidden Flower by the Immaculate Heart)


     Today is the Sixth Tuesday in Ordinary Time, also known as Shrove Tuesday while tomorrow we begin the Final Lent of the Millennium with Ash Wednesday For the readings, liturgies, and meditations, click on DAILY LITURGY.

Tuesday, February 15, 1999

ASH WEDNESDAY, February 17, 1999


"It is written, The Lord thy God shalt thou worship, and Him only shalt thou serve."

Luke 4: 12

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February 16, 1999 volume 10, no. 32   DAILY CATHOLIC