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.
The Agony and ecstasy of the Church after Pope Gregory the Great - Part Four
The Apostolic Line of Peter during the first half of the eighth century
Next Wednesday: Installment Twenty-eight: Agony and Ecstasy of the Church after Gregory the Great part five: The Apostolic Line of Peter for the second part of the eighth century
We now move into the eighth century. Today we cover the six Supreme Pontiffs who ruled during the first half of this century remembered for the emergence of the Frankish-Rome alliance, the iconoclastic battles with Constantinople, and Saint Boniface who spearheaded the evangelization of the Germanic peoples. Pope Saint Sergius I brought the Church into the eighth century but died on September 8, 701. Six weeks later Pope John VI was elected as the 85th successor of Peter on October 30, 701. He was born in Ephesus and his pontificate lasted four years. It was an extremely difficult time for Christianity for the Faith was being rejected in the East and in Spain the Saracens were creating terrible problems. Slaves were being taken by the Moors and John was remembered for defending the prerogatives of the Church against the Emperor of the East and ransoming many slaves taken by the Islamic warriors to northern Africa.
John VI died on January 11, 705 followed by Pope John VII from Rossano di Calabria who was elected on March 1, 705. The Byzantine Emperor Justinian II tried to intimidate him with ambiguous claims which John VII refused to go along with and this resulted in massacres which further separated East from West as the Latin Church and peoples fought for their own identity. John VII's plans were cut short by his death on October 18, 707.
His successor was Pope Sisinnius from Syria who was chosen on January 15, 708 and died less than a month later on February 708. He had intended to reinforce and restore the walls of Rome which had been constantly pounded by the Saracens and Lombards.
Pope Constantine replaced Sisinnius on March 25, 708. Another Syrian-born Pope, Constantine encouraged Spanish Christians against the Saracen infidels who were ransacking their lands. He instituted the act of obedience by encouraging the kissing of the foot of Saint Peter as acknowledgment that he was the first Pope. This created consternation with the Eastern Emperor who captured Constantine and took him to Constantinople. Rather than getting the Pope to submit, Constantine was able to bring some form of peace between the Empire and the Church; so much so that he was released and allowed to return to Rome where he died on April 9, 715.
On May 19, 715 he was succeeded by Pope Saint Gregory II, the first of three saintly Popes who would bring stability and longevity to the papacy. A Roman by birth, Gregory II faced the Edict of Constantinople head on. It dealt with iconoclasm - forbidding the cult of images - which the Church rejected. He also turned his attention to defeating iconoclastic armies led by the new Eastern Emperor Leo III or Leo the Isaurian who introduced the heresy of iconoclasm. St. Gregory II rallied the Italian provinces who, through his leadership were able to keep the iconoclasts and Turks out of Italy for all time. He authorized Saint Boniface to evangelize Germany. In 723 he made Boniface a Bishop, giving him the name of Boniface which replaced his baptized name of Winifred He died on February 11, 731 after a sixteen year pontificate.
Another Gregory followed him on March 18, 731 when Syrian-born Pope Saint Gregory III as the 90th in the line of Peter. His ten year papacy was highlighted by the intense fighting against the Lombards and his turning west in seeking the assistance of Charles Martel, King of the Franks. Thus began the Church's alliance with France and the title "Most Christian" which was assumed by the French Kings ever since. It was also St. Gregory III who gave the name to charitable donations to the Holy See as "Peter's Pence." He died ten days over ten years on the papal throne on March 28, 741.
The final of the holy Popes was Pope Saint Zacharias or Zachary, who was chosen to head the Church on December 10, 741 after a nine-month vacancy. He was the last of the "Greek Popes" and continued the Papal fight against the Lombard invasions. He was also one of the first pilgrim Popes, traveling to France where he personally consecrated Pipin the Short as King of the Franks. Pipin was, of course, the father of Charlemagne. It was the first investiture of a sovereign by a Sovereign Pontiff and set a precedent that would last for centuries as well as create conflict regarding clerical investiture between the Holy See and various rulers. St. Zachary died on March 22, 752.