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 Five
The Apostolic Line of Peter during the second half of the eighth century
Next Wednesday: Installment Twenty-nine: Agony and Ecstasy of the Church after Gregory the Great part six: The Apostolic Line of Peter for the first part of the ninth century
We continue with the apostolic line of Popes in the second half of the eighth century. With the death of Pope Saint Zachary on March 22, 752, the Conclave elected four days later Pope Stephen II, an elderly priest named Stephen. He suddenly died four days later and they reconvened and quickly selected Stephen's older brother Paul who took the same name Pope Stephen II on March 26 in honor of his brother. Because the former was not installed, he is not considered officially a successor of Peter, but the latter is and he lived five more years. His election generated such enthusiasm that the people of Rome carried him on their shoulders. This gave rise to the sedia gestatoria where the Pope was carried on a special chair during processions. He died on April 26, 757.
The electors chose as the 93rd successor of Peter a man who chose the name of Pope Paul I in honor of Peter's cohort - the great Saint Paul. Like the latter, this Pope who was elected on May 29, 757, was eventually proclaimed Pope Saint Paul I. Paul's pontificate lasted ten years during which he was noted for encouraging a deeper union with the Greek Church just as Paul did in the first century. Also like the evangelizing Apostle, Pope Paul I visited the prisons and freed those prisoners who were incarcerated for debts.
His papacy was wrought with struggles in defending and solidifying the young, very vulnerable Papal State as the Lombards coerced and captured numerous cities despite a truce that had been drawn up. But they were thwarted from taking Rome because of the assistance of King Pepin. He helped further the mystique and importance of the catacombs and the early martyrs, discovering the remains of Saint Petronilla, considered to be the daughter of St. Peter. Pope St. Paul died on June 28, 767.
Because of the year reign of the antipope Constantine, illegally elected a week after Paul's death, the papal throne remained empty until he was deposed and Sicilian-born Pope Stephen III was elected on August 7, 768. Even though another antipope Philip followed Constantine, he immediately stepped down when Stephen was chosen. Stephen's pontificate lasted four years until January 24, 772. He was a healer of hurts and he immediately reconciled the problems caused by Constantine. He should also be remembered for preventing a great wrong that might have forever altered the direction of Holy Mother Church. When he heard of a prearranged marriage between Pepin's son Charles to the Lombard king Desiderius' daughter, he intervened and informed the French king of subterfuge by the Lombards. Charles wised up and renounced the wedding, thus making the Lombards mortal foes of the Franks. However it also endeared Charles, who would become Charlemagne, to the Church as a great ally against the Lombard threat and other interlopers.
Stephen was succeeded by Pope Adrian I or Hadrian, a Roman by birth who restored longevity to the Holy See with his papal reign lasting 23 years. During his papacy Charlemagne subdued the Lombards and gave the Pope some of the regions to expand the Papal States by restoring lands that Desiderius had promised but renegged on. With spoils Charlemagne bestowed on the Holy See, taken by the Lombards, Adrian was able to refortify the walls of Rome and restore the ancient aqueducts. He also used these funds and materials to erect the golden statue of the tomb of St. Peter and the silver pavement in front of the altar of the Confession. In 787he called the 7th Ecumenical Council at Nicaea, called Nicaea II which condemned Iconoclasm. He died on Christmas Day 795.
Two days later the 96th successor of Peter became another Roman-born prelate - Pope Saint Leo III who would usher in the ninth century. His pontificate lasted twenty-one years thus continuing continuity and stability. IT was Leo who founded the Palatine School for the Franks which would evolve into the famous University of Paris. The connection with the Franks would not only be solidified during his papacy, but would key a landmark event that would forever set the course for the Church in Europe. On Christmas Day, 800 he crowned Charlemagne in Rome, reconstituting the Empire of the West as the Holy Roman Empire and making Charlemagne the first Holy Roman Emperor. We will cover more on Leo next week as we cover the Popes of the first half of the ninth century.