DAILY CATHOLIC   WEDNESDAY    November 10, 1999    vol. 10, no. 213


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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-six

The Agony and ecstasy of the Church after Pope Gregory the Great - Part Three

The Apostolic Line of Peter during the second half of the seventh century

        After Pope Saint Martin Iīs death, the 75th successor of Peter was Pope Saint Eugenius I, elected on August 10, 654. His election had taken place a year before Martin's death because of the latter's exile by the Byzantine emperor. Like Martin, Eugene was strongly opposed to the intrigues of the Byzantine Emperor and had the sad duty of informing the other countries of Martin's martyrdom. It was St. Eugene who decreed that all priests must observe the Vow of Chastity. He ruled until June 2, 657 when God called him home.

        On July 30, 657 he was succeeded by Pope Saint Vitalian for the next 15 years. St. Vitalian sent Apostolic Nuncios to England, Spain and Gaul and was the first pontiff to regulate the liturgical use of the organ during religious ceremonies. It was through his missionary efforts that the Lombards converted to Christianity in 671. It was also during his reign that the antichrist first manifested himself in the person of the prophet Mohammed who was born in Mecca about 570 and over the next 60 plus years was able to stir up the throngs issuing in the rise of Islamism. This, as the Mother of God imparted to Father Don Stefano Gobbi on June 17, 1989 directly denies the mystery of the divine Trinity and the divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. With its military might the terror of Islam slithered across land after land in the known world, devouring all the ancient Christian populations, threatening Europe as it seeped up through Spain and southern Italy. The Muslim calendar began in 622. This was the first warning of the Antichrist and the woe that would befall Christianity through theages including the Crusades when the bloodstained Islam flag would fly over the land where Jesus once walked. Because the Church was so wrapped up with other heresies and pagan conversions, little notice was paid to the intrusion of Islam until, a few centuries later, it was too late. The Christian Church was soon to be surrounded by heathens. To the North the Normans and Vikings, to the West the Saxons, to the South the Muslims, and to the East the Turks and Saracens. It was left to saintly men and women to convert as many as they could under the guidance of the Popes. St. Vitalian died on January 37, 672.

        Pope Deusdedit II or Adeotatus followed him on April 11, 672. He continued the use of missionaries, especially with the conversion of the Maronites, a determined people of Armenian-Syrian origin. He was the first to use in his letters the salutation "Health and Apostolic Benediction." He died on June 17, 676.

        Pope Donus succeed him on September 2, 676. He ended the schism in Ravenna and encouraged his bishops to support the new schools in Germanic Gaul and at Cambridge in Britain. He passed away two years later on April 2, 678.

        The Sacred Conclave elected Pope Saint Agatho of Palermo on June 27, 678 who continued the strong relationship with the English Bishops. He also encouraged Ireland as a center of culture. Because of the many miracles he effected, he was known as the "Healing Pope." He organized the Sixth Ecumenical Council at Constantinople in 680 in which the Council censured Honorius and condemned Monothelitism. St. Agatho expired on January 10, 681.

        The 80th successor of Peter was Pope Saint Leo II, elected on August 17, 682. He chose the name "Leo" in honor of the saint the Church celebrates today in the liturgy for November 10th - Pope Saint Leo the Great who ruled two centuries before Leo II. This Sicilian introduced the sprinkling of Holy Water on the people during liturgical functions. Also, in order to make the faithful more aware of the majesty of God, he celebrated the sacred functions with great pomp and circumstance. Unfortunately his pontificate lasted only a year for he died on August 3, 683.

        He was succeeded by another saint Pope Saint Benedict II, a Roman who was elected on June 26, 684 after a year's vacancy due to the interference of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian. Fortunately Benedict was able to liberate the Church from this. He also restored the privilege of Sanctuary, which had been disrespected and neglected by the different fighting factions who had forced their way into churches in search of their enemies. St. Benedict II breathed his last breath on May 8, 685.

        Pope John V was selected to succeed him on July 23, 685 but, like his predecessors, lived only a year passing away on August 2, 686. His election was due to interference by the Byzantine Court, yet he did restore order to the dioceses of Sardinia and Corsica. These were important for the Pope established the right to nominate bishops to these islands.

        Another one-year Pope followed John in the person of Pope Conon from Thrase who was elected on October 21, 686 and died on September 21, 687. His brief papacy was troubled by anarchy within the Church and he is believed to have been poisoned by Byzantine sympathizers who had stolen into the Holy See as spies.

        The final Sovereign Pontiff of the seventh century was Pope Saint Sergius I who was born in Antioch. He was chosen on December 15, 687 and strove to eliminate two antipopes and suppress the schism which had arisen in Rome. He also was successful in terminating Aquileia. It was St. Sergius who first introduced into the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass the Agnus Dei. He guided the Church into the eighth century, passing on to his Heavenly reward on September 8, 701 after a successful 14-year pontificate that desperately needed stability.

Next Wednesday: Installment Twenty-seven: Agony and Ecstasy of the Church after Gregory the Great part four: The Apostolic Line of Peter for the first part of the eighth century

November 10, 1999       volume 10, no. 213


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