He was born on March 29, 1892 in Hungary during the pontificate of Pope Leo XIII who first spoke out against the growing cancer of communism in numerous letters and encyclicals. His strong Catholic upbringing and example of many priests in his homeland endeared him to the Church and a vocation. His minor and major seminary training was inspired by the holiness of Leo's successor Pope Saint Pius X and a great sadness fell over him when Pius passed on August 20, 1914. Mindzenty was ordained a priest the next year on June 15, the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1915 at the age of 23 during the second year of Pope Benedict XV's papacy. His bishop assigned him to various pastoral duties where he ministered in the spirit of another parish priest - Saint John Vianney, better known as the Cure d'Ars.
Hungary's geographical position of bordering Austria to the west and the Ukraine to the east and Russia beyond, with Croatia and Yugoslavia to the south placed the country in a tenuous position which thrust it into the political fray. Albeit, the political climate has been, to say the least, tenuous in the 20th century. Beginning with the "Dual Monarchy" agreement in 1867 in which Austria created an Austria-Hungary pact to the early part of the century in which the Austrian Duke Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo to the wrong decision on Hungary's part to join Germany in World War II to the takeover by Soviet communists in 1947 to the deportation of hundreds of thousands of Hungarians to the U.S.S.R. in 1958 Hungary has been in turmoil. Through it all Cardinal Mindzenty endeavored to keep the faith and encourage the faithful to do the same. During these kind of times throughout Church history God sends saints who will keep the faith and inspire others to heroic acts. Such is the case with Cardinal Mindzenty.
As a young parish priest Father Mindzenty did all he could to assure his flock that by trusting in God, all would work out. It was during his early years as a young priest that the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared on the other end of the European continent in Portugal at a little known place some seventy-five miles north of Lisbon. Her message was of conversion and a warning that Russia and the creed of communism would overcome much of Europe if the faithful did not pray. He took that seriously and imparted Mary's words to the people. They would need it for Hungary was in for tough times. First they were defeated in World War I and faced a rebuilding effort, breaking away from Austria to establish itself as an independent republic. Yet the hammer and sickle still infiltrated the country, beginning in 1919 when Romania occupied the country and a communist dictatorship was set up but fortunately it only lasted 133 days before being overthrown and a monarchy was once again eestablished with Admiral Nicholas Horthy as regent. But before they could recover, they were thrust into war again. Even though Germany had accorded Hungary some of the land they had lost after World War I and Hungary had declared its neutrality in 1939, they were forced into joining Germany in 1941. Bad decision for in 1944 the Nazis invaded Hungary and imprisoned Horthy. To the victor go the spoils and it wasn't the Nazis who would celebrate. With Germany reeling as the allied forces closed in, the Soviets moved in uncontested as America, Britain and the rest of Europe buried their heads in the sands. It was Joseph Stalin's ploy that duped all. But not Mindzenty. Though an armistice agreement had been signed with the Allies in 1945 and Hungary was proclaimed a republic once again the following year it was really a license to steal for the Soviet Union who invaded in 1947.
Pope Pius XII had named Father Mindzenty Bishop of Veszprem on March 25, 1944. His rule in this See sixty miles southwest of Budapest was shortlived for on November 27 of that same year he was imprisoned by the Gestapo where he would remain until April 20, 1945 when German troops fled. That same year on the Feast of the Guardian Angels October 2nd, Pius XII appointed him the new Archbishop of Esztergom, which also incorporated Budapest, and the chief Primate of Hungary. This, needless to say made him a marked man which would become even moreso after the Consistory of February 18, 1946 when Pius XII elevated him to the cardinalate. As he placed the red beretta on Cardinal Mindzenty, the Holy Father prophesied in the same manner as Simeon did to the Blessed Mother when the Vicar of Christ told him "Among the thirty-two [new cardinals that day], you will be the first to suffer the martyrdom whose symbol this red color is."
True to the Sovereign Pontiff's words, two years later the communists arrested Cardinal Mindzenty in Budapest a day after Christmas in 1948. It would begin twenty-three years behind bars in which he would be deprived of not only ministering to his flock, but the great privilege of celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. He was placed in isolation and tortured as the Soviets tried to break him and force him to renounce his faith just as the Romans tried to do to the early Christians. But like those early saints Cardinal Mindzenty found the inner strength and faith to resist as he suffered greatly from the inhumane treatment of this great man. In 1955 it looked as though he might gain his release when Imre Nagy, who had become Premier in 1953, joined the Warsaw Pact and began promoting pro-Hungarian nationalism and anti-Soviet feelings but any hope of his freedom faded when Nagy was forced out of office and the Soviets clamped down again. A year later anti-Soviet rebels staged violent demonstrations in Budapest and reinstated Nagy who promised economic and political reform and release of all political prisoners including Cardinal Mindzenty. But it was not to be for the Soviets sent waves of tanks into the streets of Budapest and thousands were executed including Nagy for trumped-up charges of treason. Thousands of his supporters were deported to Soviet concentration camps in Russia. But communism was showing its chinks and any government whose intent is to suppress the people and their freedoms will not last. Slowly but surely the iron hand of the iron curtain corroded and as the economy dwindled, they were forced to look to the west for economic help and ease the suppression. This would be the light at the end of the tunnel for Cardinal Mindzenty.
Because of improved relations with the West, Pope Paul VI was able to negotiate to have the cardinal finally released on the Feast of the Archangels - September 29, 1971. Though Cardinal Mindzenty preferred to remain with his flock in his beloved homeland, he realized this was an impossibility and so accepted the Holy Father's strong encouragement to relocate in Vienna, Austria to avoid being arrested again. Sadly he would not live to see the fall of communism in Hungary in 1989 and the communist party's admission that their imprisonment of Mindzenty and the subsequent trial of revolutionary leaders in 1958 were illegal for four years after being freed, age and the rigors of twenty-three years of cruel incarceration took their toll and Cardinal Mindzenty was received into the arms of the Father on May 6, 1975 at the age of 83.
He was returned to his homeland and Budapest where he was buried in the Church of the Assumption which is the Basilica of Esztergom in Hungary. To this day hundreds of pilgrims flock to his tomb daily praying to this modern martyr to intercede for them and to pray that Hungary will never again be subjected to the terrible times that visited this country in the twentieth century. His cause for beatification has been introduced by one of Cardinal Mindzenty's predecessors Cardinal Laszlo Paskai, O.F.M. to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and much investigation still needs to be done in the long process toward canonization.
Cardinal Mindzenty is now with the angels and it was his Guardian Angels who protected him during the horrible twenty-four total years of imprisonment for the Lord. The angels played an integral role in his life for he was consecrated a bishop on the Feast of the Annunciation when the Archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary, and created Archbishop on the Feast of the Guardian Angels and released from prison on the Feast of the Archangels Saint Michael, Saint Gabriel, and Saint Raphael in 1971. Today his legacy is perpetuated by the excellent non-profit Cardinal Mindzenty Foundation dedicated to combat the evils of communism and uphold the ideals Cardinal Mindzenty fought and suffered for in striving "to build and defend the Catholic Faith, to strengthen and sustain family life, and to work for freedom for all under God."
The Last Ablution wherein the celebrant cleanses the chalice and purifies the paten and ciboriums remains the same as are most of the prayers. The only variance in the Concluding Rite is the elimination of the Last Gospel of John 1: 1-14 which, because it was omitted on certain occasions in the traditional Mass, was dropped in the New Order of the Mass. As the Vatican II directives say "The rites have been simplified, with due care to preserve their substance. Elements which, with the passsage of time, came to be duplicated or were added with but little advantage have been eliminated."
Despite the variances, The Spirit remains with Christ’s True Church. This last statement is true since after Pope Gregory the Great established the Sacramentary and Rubrics, other prayers and sacramentaries cropped up which either varied or elaborated and heaped more prayers and interpretation on the faithful. These were prevalent with various cultures such as in Gaul after Gregory with The Leonine, which was discovered in the 18th century in Verona, Italy. It dates back to the 7th century and included a mixture of prayers for the Mass. Church scholars felt it was a link between pre-Gregory and the primitive manuals and post-Gregory and the proper sacramentaries. Another such work was The Ancient Gelasian, which was not actually from Pope Gelasius (492-486) but just named after him. There were others such as The Recent Gelasian, The Paduense,Tthe Hadrianum, and The Gallican Missals. The latter were a collection of the Gauls’ own equivalent of Roman sacramentaries retaining the culture and flavor of Gaul which included a Gothic missal, an ancient Gallican missal, a Frankish missal, and other ethnic region missals all containing prayers and rituals taken from the Roman Sacramentary.
One has to understand history and the fierce rivalry between Gaul and Rome dating back to early times to understand how and why there was so much divrsity. In short, because of their cultural background, they couldn’t live with one another, yet one couldn’t exist without the other. A “cold war” existed so to speak. In fact, as Father Pierre Loret explains in his book, that these liturgies “had to be adapted before being adopted. The liturgy of Rome, great as it was, was not everyone’s cup of tea. In spite of their great respect for the papal liturgy, the copyists of the sacramentaries did not hesitate to modify it in religious and literary ways. They would transcribe, side by side, liturgical texts that had originated in different periods. And they would modify these texts, adding their own explanations, as if everything came from the same source and was of equal value. They were extremely easygoing in this regard. None of them seems to have felt that any liturgical text, even the Canon, was off limits when it came to making such changes. They simply did not believe that these texts had to remain just as they were throughout the centuries. Modern scholars who study these documents must use all their ingenuity to sort out all the tangled elements, and then to discover their date, source, and exact meaning. This painstaking work is far from useless. Even with our present post-Vatican II missal, it is never useless to know that we are praying with Leo, Gelasius, Gregory, Pius V, or…Paul Vi. The Spirit will not abandon His Church, even to the end of time.”
Father is correct on this and, not surprisingly, the unfortunate procedure for “interpreting and making changes” continues to this day. But there is always the God-given assurance that He is with His Church as Jesus says in Matthew 28:20. "...teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and behold I am with you all days, even unto the consumation of the world." The more things change, the more they remain the same.
After studying the structure of the Mass we can see that really, very little was changed. The fact that the Holy Sacrifice is said in the vernacular today instead of the traditional Latin, gives us the impression that much has changed, but on further review we can see that very little has really been altered. While there are certain passages and prayers which, when dissected, show some of the essence and/or real meaning has been lost in the translation, it still holds true that the Mass today the Novus Ordo is very much the same as the Traditional Ordinary of the Mass. Unfortunately, too often the celebrants don’t always follow the Rubrics of the Mass and that's when confusion sets in. Another problem is if the pending all-inclusive-language Sacramentary and Lectionary, threatened by modernists and feminists, is foisted upon us then we’e in deep trouble; but for now the present Rubrics are fully in accord with the directives passed down from the Holy See and, because of that, we can be at peace. But we do need to be on our guard that aberrations and false doctrines are not filtered into the Mass upon unsuspecting participants, many of whom are not aware of the insidious way satan works his half truths into the truth until the ture Mass is compromised in such a manner that it ceases to be the Holy Sacrifice and becomes merely a “meal.” This we can not allow to happen for that will be the “abomination of desolation” as Christ foretold in Matthew 24:15.
Before we continue on our abridged trek through Church history from the seventh century on, we will delve into the etymology of the rubrics, sacred vessels, vestments and saramentals of the Mass which were authenticated in the Gregorian era in the next installment.
Next Wednesday: Installment Twenty: The Gregorian Plan of the Mass: The Etymology of the Rubrics
This Tribunal judges all cases involving conscience, whethere sacramental or not, and all cases concerning the granting and use of indulgences, outside of the rights of the Holy Office on the subject of dogmatic doctrine. The Prefect or Major Penitentiary is Texas-born Cardinal William Wakefield Baum, the former Archbishop of Washington D.C. He is about to release a 100-page document further defining indulgences and the requirements to obtain the merits of them. He has already published a special document signed by the Holy Father which further defines indulgences for the Jubilee Year 2000.
This Tribunal began in the 12th century and was evolved through decisions of various Popes since then, especially Pope Saint Pius V who drastically reorganized the entire Tribunal in 1569. Pope Saint Pius X realigned it during his pontificate, limiting jurisdiction to within its boundaries. On March 25, 1917 Pope Benedict XV incorporated the Office of Indulgences into this Tribunal and it has been untouched since then.
This Tribunal can best be described as the Supreme Court of the Roman Curia with charge of all appeals, and settling all cases in respect jurisdiction of lower courts and offices. Headed by Italian Cardinal Gilberto Agustoni as Prefect, this Tribunal's responsibilities include supervision of the observance of laws and rights at the highest level and has final say in cases involving personnel and decisions of the the Roman Rota.
The origins of this Tribunal was established by Pope Eugene IV in the mid 15th century and affected by the legislation of several Popes since then. Pope Saint Pius X reorganized this Tribunal in 1908 and established it as the Supreme Tribunal of the Church.
This Tribunal is the Ordinary Court of Appeal for cases appealed to the Holy See from outside the Vatican. It is mostly used for decisions involving cases when the validity of marriage is under question. It is overseen by the Dean of this Tribunal, Bishop Mario Francesco Pompedda.
The Sacred Roman Rota began in the Apostolic Chancery and evolved through the years until 1908 when Pope Saint Pius X reorganized it along with the rest of the Tribunals and it was further revised by Pope Pius XI in 1934. In 1982 and 1987 Pope John Paul II approved new norms and responsibilities for this Tribunal.
He was honored with the rank of cardinal during the Pope's Consistory of November 26, 1994 receiving the titular church of St. Mary in Dominica. Two days prior to receiving the red-hat, he was elevated to permanent Librarian and Archivist of the Holy Roman Church where he still remains today. Presently nearing his 82nd birthday, he is close to retiring but, like the Pope who appointed him, shows little signs of slowing down, thoroughly enjoying his work in the dusky but fascinating rooms that house so much of the Church's history and documents.