DAILY CATHOLIC   WEDNESDAY    November 3, 1999    vol. 10, no. 208


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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-five

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

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

        Over the next several installments we will cover the Supreme Pontiffs who ruled Rome from 604 to 900 A.D. Today we cover the first half of the seventh century from Pope Sabinian to Pope Saint Martin I.

        With the death of Pope Saint Gregory in 604, Christianity was on the defensive almost everywhere it existed. The one connecting link to Catholicism was the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass - the rubrics, reverence and ritual having been established by Gregory. Pope Sabinian succeeded Gregory as the 65th Pontiff for two years from September 13, 604 to February 22, 606. He regulaged the ringing of the bells to indicated the canonical hours for meditation and prayer for the faithful and also decreed that sanctuary lamps be kept lit in all churches when the Blessed Sacrament was residing in the Tabernacle.

        Pope Boniface III became the next Vicar of Christ for less than a year from Feburary 19 607 to November 12, 607. During his ten month reign, delayed by a year, he outlawed arrangements for the election of a new Pope until three days had passed. Today that time period has been extended to nine days minimum. He also made the important declaration that the Pope as the Bishop of Rome was the only universal bishop.

        On his death Pope Saint Boniface IV ruled from August 25, 608 to May 8, 615. It was this 67th successor of Peter who instituted All Saints Day on November 1st after he had consecrated the pagan temple of Agrippa, more commonly known as the Pantheon, to the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the saints. He also sanctioned reforms improving the moral and material climate of the lower clergy including priests and deacons.

        On October 10, 615 six months after Boniface IV's death, Pope Saint Deusdedit I was chosen as the 68th in the line of Peter. He was a humble, dedicated servant of the servants, opting to go into the streets to treat lepers and the plaguestricken during the plague that had struck Rome during this time. He also was the first Sovereign Pontiff to use seals of lead to imprint on Papal Bulls and other Pontifical Decrees and his seal is still preserved today in the Vatican museum. He died on November 8, 618.

        Pope Boniface V replaced him a year later on December 23, 619. The delay was due to the terrible wars for the Crown of Italy and the lingering plague. Boniface is credited with instituting the privilege of sanctuary for those persecuted ones who sought refuge. He decreed that they would have it in the churches where no military or government could arrest someone or harass them. It was during his six year pontificate that the prophet Mohammed began preaching, signaling dark times ahead for the Church.

        His successor Pope Honorius I, born in Capua, Italywas elected on the same day as Boniface's death and enjoyed the longest papacy of the century - 13 years during which he sent missionaries to almost all parts of the known world and resolved the problem of the Eastern Church and the Schism of Aquileia on the question of the "Three Chapters." Honorius is also the Pope who decreed the Feast of the Exultation of the Holy Cross would be held on September 14th each year. He died on October 12, 638.

        Because of plague and tensions with the Byzantine Emperor, the Throne of Peter remained vacant for two years until Pope Severinus was elected on May 28th, 640. During his very brief pontificate he greatly angered the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius because of the Pope's condemnation of sthe monoteletic heresy. Heraclius retaliated by sacking the Basilica of St. John Lateran and the Lateran Palace where the Supreme Pontiffs resided at the time. It was too much for Severinus who succumbed on August 2, 640.

        Dalmatian-born Pope John IV succeeded him on December 24, 640 as the 72nd successor of Peter and tried to bring the people of Egypt into the Faith. Because of the schisms, he personally ordained 28 priests and 18 bishops to make sure of their allegiance. He passed away on October 12, 642.

        The next Pontiff chosen was Pope Theodore I who had been born in Jerusalem. He also struggled with the schismatic Byzantine Emperor Costans II who had succeeded Heraclius. Theodore restored order to the internal jurisdiction of the clergy and added the title of "Sovereign" to "Pontiff." He died on May 14, 649 and many suspect he was poisoned by one of Costans' spies who had infiltrated the Holy See.

        Following Theodore's death, the saintly Pope Saint Martin I was elected the 74th in the line of Peter on July 5, 649. He sought valiantly to cooperate with the emperor and patriarch of Constantinople in bringing the eastern factions together, strongly opposed the heresy perpetrated within these factions of Monotheilitism, the false belief that Christ had only one will, both human and devine. This heresy denied the humanity of Christ. It was eventually condemned at the Council of Constantinople in 680. He was imprisoned by the Byzantine emperor and exiled to the island of Cherso where he was sentenced to a life of hardship and torture and he died a martyr's death on Cherso on September 16, 655. Three hundred years after the worst persecutions of the Church, her people were still being tortured and martyred for the Faith and Pope St. Martin was an ideal example of the saints of that time in history.

Next Wednesday: Installment Twenty-six: Agony and Ecstasy of the Church after Gregory the Great part three: The Apostolic Line of Peter during the second half of the seventh century A.D.

November 3, 1999       volume 10, no. 208


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