The history of the Catholic Church gives evidence of miraculous strength, permanence, and unchangeableness, thus showing the world that it is under the special protection of God. The Catholic Church has proved itself indestructible for almost two thousand years, against every variety and number of formidable enemies. The Church suffered from persecution and outside attacks, and from schism and heresy within its own ranks, yet still lives, is still universal.
The chief marks of the Church are four. We have covered ONE and HOLY so far, today we cover CATHOLIC.
Christ intended His Church to be universal, that is, catholic from the Greek word katholicos, the etimology of which is derived from kata meaning "concerning" and holos meaning "whole," hence: universal. Therefore the True Church must be Universal, or Catholic. It must be for all peoples of every nation and for all times and teach the same faith everywhere in the world.
Christ commanded His disciples in Matthew 28: 19, "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations."
He reinforced this in Mark 16: 15, "Go into the whole world, and preach the Gospel to every creature."
Jesus again foreteld the power of the Word in reaching the world in Matthew 24: 14, "And the gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world, for a witness to all nations; and then will come the end."
Finally, in Acts 1: 8, Saint Luke wrote what Christ intended by universality, "You shall be witnesses for Me...even to the very ends of the earth."
Out side of the Church Christ founded, no denomination is catholic or universal. These non-Catholic churches are everywhere, sprouting up on every corner, but different everywhere. A regional or national church cannot be the true Church, since it cannot teach all nations, as Christ commanded. The Church of England cannot be the universal Church. Its very name declares it a national and not universal or true Church. The Catholic Church is catholic or universal because, destined to last for all time, it never fails to fulfill the divine commandment to teach all nations all the truths revealed by God.
The word "Catholic" first came into prominence when Saint Ignatius, appointed Bishop of Antioch by Saint Peter, first used the the word Katholicos when referring to the Church founded by Christ. He used this term in order to distinguish the True Church, already being preached throughout the world, from heretical churches that had arisen. In the 4th century certain sectarians protested against the True Church, yet still called themselves Christians. And so Catholics began calling themselves "Catholic" to differentiate. In that same century Saint Augustine said: "All heretics wish to call themselves Catholics; yet if you ask any of them to direct you to a Catholic church, he will not direct you to his own."
In order to be truly Catholic, wherever you go in the world there must be the mark of unity. Otherwise it would not be the same body, but many separate bodies. Some heretical churches have branches in different countries, but they are really different bodies, because they change doctrines under different conditions. Whereas the true Church teaches all the doctrines that Christ commanded His Apostles to teach and it is taught everywhere in the world. In the Catholic Church is fulfilled the prophecy of Malachia "From the rising of the sun to the going down, My name is great among the Gentiles, and in every place there is sacrifice, and there is offered to My name a clean oblation; for My name is great among the Gentiles, saith the Lord of Hosts" (Malachia 1: 11).
The True Church must be so organized that it can admit all men into its communion. This the Catholic Church does. Christ founded the Church for all men, not only for a selected few. It is man who rejects God, not God Who rejects man. He died for all men, and wishes the fruits of His death to do good for all men. Only the Catholic Church is to be found all over the world, ministering to all races and peoples, to all classes of the population, poor or rich, wise or ignorant, saint or sinner. The Cathoic Church is the only Church for Everyman.
Though the terminology and some prayers of the liturgy have been simplified and condensed over the years, the essential elements have remained intact. The word “Mass,” which began to be used in the sixth century, derives from the Latin word missa meaning dismissal!. The correlation comes with the fact that it was used to dismiss the Catechumens before the Mass of the Faithful began. It survives at the end of the latter in the final Ite missa est: "Go the Mass is ended." Other terms that have been used through the centuries were oblatio (oblation) and mysterium (mystery) and most recently Vatican II adapted the word Eucharist. Regardless, they are all the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
The Holy Mass is the highest form of worship. It is the sacrifice of Calvary renewed. One Mass gives Almighty God more praise and thanksgiving, makes more atonement for sin and pleads more eloquently than does the combined and eternal worship of all the souls in Heaven, on earth, and in Purgatory. In the Holy Mass, it is Jesus Christ, God, as well as Man, Who is our Intercessor, our Priest and our Victim. Being God - as well as the Son of Man - His prayers, merits and His offerings are of infinite value.
There needed to be a method of assisting at such a noble sacrifice and therefore Pope Gregory I, 64th successor of Peter, refined the Plan of the Mass in order to incorporate the four ends to which the Holy Sacrifice is offered: Adoration, Thanksgiving, Atonement, and Petition. It cannot be just one of these components. For example, it's a normal practice among Catholics to limit our prayers to petition. We would be ungrateful if this were the case.
The Mass therefore offers us the opportunity to thank God by man's of renewing this Sacrifice.
Finally, being human, there is the need to ask God for favors which we need. How much we need them is in accordance with the Divine Will, but Christ has said whatever we ask will be given if it is God’s Will. Some of the most vital matters we can petition are to pray for the release of souls in Purgatory especially for those who have no one to pray for them. This also goes a long way in shortening our own time there, especially if we pray that God will preserve us from all dangers to soul and body, to console us at the hour of our death, to intercede for us at the Judgment Seat of God. These are all things we can offer our Mass for, making it more meaningful each time we attend and better understanding the sublimity of the Passion of Christ which will ultimately increase our love for Him.
The Plan of the Mass is also God’s Plan and through Divine Revelation He manifested this to His Church, specifically Gregory who formulated the format we still maintain today for the most part.
Even with the Preparatory Prayers eliminated, it is still important that we prepare properly for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass by arriving early enough to spend a few quiet moments with Our Blessed Lord in the Tabernacle. This allows us to “relax” our mind, heart and soul and shut out the world so that we can be open to the Holy Spirit and be in the proper frame of mind, heart and soul for the Holy Mass. Rushing in at the last minute or habitually arriving late is not the best way to prepare for Mass.
The priest in the past intoned in Latin “Ad introbio ad altare Dei” “I will go unto the Altar of God.” Every altar boy for generations up until the 60’s knew the next response: “Ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam.” This antiphon continued with the responses from the servers leading into the Confiteor, which is preserved today in the “Penitential Rite.” Though in the Novus Ordo Mass, the absolution has been watered down from its original intent in which we were forgiven all venial sin through this rite in a purification process worthy to receive Jesus in Holy Communion.
The latter was fundamental in preparing to worthily participate in the Holy Sacrifice by first reconciling with our neighbor before we can turn our attention to God for Christ said in John 15:12, " Love one another as I have loved you.”
The Kyrie Eleison is the same except the “Lord, have Mercy,” “Christ, have Mercy” is said only three times rather than nine times as instituted by Gregory. His reasoning for nine was three times in honor of the Father, three times in honor of the Son, and three times in honor of the Holy Spirit. The architects of the Novus Ordo felt a need to simplify and condense.
The Gloria has remained the same throughout the history of the Church. The same for the Opening Prayer or Collect, which is a short prayer in honor of the saint or mystery of the day, or for the intention of the Mass.
There have always been readings from Sacred Scripture. In the plan established by Gregory in the Epistle, Gradual, and Epistle have remained the same, the nomenclature is the only thing that has changed. Today they are called Readings, the Responsorial Psalm and Sequence which combine what was the Gradual. The Gospel is exactly as it was established in the Gregorian Mass even to the “Gloria tibi Christi” "Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ" before the Gospel.
The liturgy is arranged so that over a three year cycle (Year A, B, and C) the entire bible is covered. Today we include the homily, Profession of faith and Prayers of the Faithful in the Liturgy of the Word. As always the homily was meant to incorporate something from the Word read during that particular Mass and not a social bantering on the state of the parish or a joke fest intended for entertainment. Rather, the homily or sermon must convey the truths of the great Deposit of Faith referenced by the Scriptural readings of that Mass or a similar association with the Mass. Any other announcements should not be contained within the body of the homily or during that time. Those topics should be attended to either before Mass or at the end of the Mass. Also, the Church has always commanded that the homily be preached only by one who is ordained. No lay person other than an ordained lay deacon is permitted to speak from the pulpit during this time.
The Profession of faith, known as the Creed leads into the final part of the Mass of the Catechumens which is now the Liturgy of the Word. The Creed is an essential component of the Mass for in it we proclaim all that we believe as Catholics. This prepares us to advance into the next part of the Mass - the Liturgy of the Eucharist which was formerly known as the Mass of the Faithful. This we will do on Wednesday when this on-going series returns to its regular slot. In the next installment we will study the Liturgy of the Eucharist before advancing on in history through the next few centuries that followed the reign of St. Gregory the Great.
On April 23, 1985 Pope John Paul II named him the first Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly. Three years later he was elevated to the cardinalate in the Consistory of June 28, 1988 receiving the titular church of St. Mary Queen of Peace in Monte Verde and given Curial Membership in the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. On December 16, 1992 his archdiocese was made a Major Archbishopric in the Syro-Malabar Church and he was enthroned on May 20, 1993 as the first Major Archbishop. Because of age, he retired on November 11, 1996 where he still resides at Box 2580 Ernakulam, Kochi-682031 in Kerala, India.
Death of Saint Simeon Stylites the Younger, Antioch-born holy man and prophet known as the pillar hermit for he lived atop a pillar for 68 years, going long periods at a time with very little sleep or nourishment.
Richard the Lionhearted is crowned king of England.
A year after his coronation Richard the Lionhearted arrives in Messina, Sicily with his crusaders for the Third Crusade.
Cardinal Enea Silvio Piccolomini is elected Pope Pius II, 210th successor of Peter. He ratified a league between the kings of France, Burgundy, Hungary and the Doge of Venice in order to help those provinces dominated by the Turks. He died as he was setting out on yet another holy war.
Pope Paul VI issues his famous encyclical on the Holy Eucharist Mysterium Fidei which was also co-authored by Cardinal Karol Wojtoyla who would become Pope John Paul II
Consecration of Pope Urban IV, French Pope known as the "Corpus Christi Pope" who was elected on August 29 in a surprise election at the conclave of Viterbo to which he had come in order to pay homage to the future Pope only to be confirmed as the 182nd successor of Peter.
Death of Saint Rosalia, virgin and religious from Palermo who forsook the temptations of the Norman court and spent sixteen solid years in steady prayer. She is considered the patron saint of Sicily.
Death of Blessed Alan de Roche, Dominican priest who founded the first Confraternity of the Rosary and established the custom of meditating on the life of Jesus within the Mysteries of the Rosary during each decade.
Saint Laurence Justinian, Archbishop and prophet who died on January 8, 1455 in Venice, was canonized by Pope Clement X on this day.
Pope Leo XIII issues his 57th encyclical Adiutricem on the Holy Rosary.
Pope Leo XIII 68th encyclical Diuturni temporis is also on the Holy Rosary.
Death of Mother Teresa, at 87, founder of the Missionaries of Charity and lovingly referred to as the "saint of the gutters" for her totally selfless giving to the poorest of the poor in Calcutta in personifying the truest Love of her life - her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Sadly, her death was overshadowed by the death a few days earlier of Princess Diana who, by her own admission, couldn't hold a candle to Mother. Today the candle of holiness burns ever brighter for this Albanian nun who rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous and the most downtrodden and infamous.