Monday thru Friday on the

See why so many consider the
Daily CATHOLIC as the
"USA Today for CATHOLICS!"

TUESDAY             August 4, 1998             SECTION ONE              vol 9, no. 151

To print out entire text of Today's issue, print this section as well as SECTION TWO

One empire begins to crumble as another begins to flourish through the blood of the martyrs

      As the pagan Roman emperors grew more lazy, they cried out louder for the persecution of those who were diametrically opposed to the epicurean lifestyle of the aristocrats. But with every Christian killed, their example sprouted two or more converts until it literally drove some of the emperors mad. Society in Rome had become lax in their freedom which eventually led to bondage while the strict rules and laws practiced by Christians showed the scope of freedom in God's overall plan. Yet, like every finite organization, there was internal bickering even within the Church where a split was forming between East and West. We continue with the eleventh installment from the early chapters of our on-going megaseries on the Church through the ages as part of our special retro Summer in bringing you past issues you may not have had the opportunity to read. For the eleventh installment titled The Blood of the Martyrs replenishes a flourishing Church: 200-250 , click on THE HISTORY OF THE MASS AND HOLY MOTHER CHURCH.

The Blood of the Martyrs replenishes a flourishing Church: 200-250

Installment Eleven
Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Church has continued to spread all over the world until it has today reached every corner of the earth. It has done so despite the faults of humans, the mistakes of the magisterium and even bad popes, excluding, of course, our present Vicar who is truly a saint in these end times. To say the Church is lily-white would be an aberration for it has gone through some very trying times - schisms, apostasies, heresies, wars, inquisitions, politics, and massacres all in the name of the Church. Yet, despite these setbacks, Holy Mother Church has flourished and will contiue because she has rigorously obeyed the Command Jesus Christ gave in Matthew 28: 19-20: "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and behold I am with you all days, even unto the consummation of the world."

That was the inspiration the Apostles had in dispersing to different countries in order to carry out Our Lord's command. They baptized, preached, celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and even ruled in some of the countries where they were dispatched. They also appointed and ordained bishops and priests to rule and minister to those who believed - the faithful.

The Root of the Problem

But there was a price to pay. And the price the early Christians paid was the greatest treasure they could give - their lives. They were forced to choose between a pagan culture, where the morals of Rome were extremely depraved, and the one true faith - the Truth, the Way and the Life. By the 3rd Century the pagan evil had spread from within the the walls of Rome to the farthest regions of the Roman empire.

     Like what is happening in this century here in the United States and worldwide, the Roman culture became debase over a period of time. Originally it had been set up as an idealistic culture to learn from the Greeks' mistakes and become the greatest empire ever. But as time went on, greed, lust, envy - all the deadly sins, crept in and Rome began to decay from within. As Rome capitalized on Greece's mistakes, they also were victimized by them for history does indeed repeat itself. Because of the tremendous Grecian influence, most of the upper class of Rome spoke Greek. Romans strove to imitate the Greeks in many ways, chief among them their worship of nearly 30,000 different "gods" and "goddesses." A majority of them were deified for the very purpose of debauchery and immorality. Just as Greece lost its soul, so also the carbuncle of immorality, ammorality and paganism rotted the once proud Roman empire from within. While the blood of the martyrs nourished the seeds of Christianity, the blood of idolatry sowed seeds of discontent. This cancer spread rapidly and those who sought to stop it, namely the Christian disciples - laity as well as popes, bishops, priests and deacons, were considered traitors to Rome. This was the crux of the reasons why the full force of Rome was pitted against the new religion of these Christians. Those whose faith was lax faltered and they even betrayed their own fellow Christians as to their location in homes, caves, forests and catacombs where the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was celebrated.

The Beginning of the Split between East and West

As we touched on in the last installment, Pope Saint Zephyrinus, the 15th in the line of Peter and pope from 199 to 217 AD, is considered the "Father of Ecclesiastical Latin," but it was his successor Pope Saint Callixtus who headed the Church from 217 to 222 who decreed Latin as the official language of the liturgy. His reasoning followed because for nearly two centuries Latin had been the unofficial language of the common people of Rome and nearby vicinities. As often happens in a class system, there is a division not only in culture but also in language and dialect. So it was in Rome. Because of the Greek influence, many of those born of noble Roman birth retained and passed on the Greek language and customs.

     One of these was Hippolytus, a Roman priest who was constantly a thorn in Callixtus' side. Upon the latter's election as pope, Hippolytus broke away from Rome, and became the first antipope in history. As we detailed in the last installment, there were heretics during this period such as Marcion and later Tertullian who is attributed with the quote used in the headline for this installment. But Hippolytus was the most vocal. Despite the volatile actions of this heretic, before his defection he composed the Apostolic Tradition. This prayer, in part has been passed on to this day in the Eucharistic Prayer after the Offertory. Another tradition credited to Hippolytus was the origin of the Kiss of Peace. Many liturgical scholars attribute its origin to the procedure of segregating men and women into different locations during the Mass. This was a throwback to the Jewish custom, strongly adopted by the Greeks that women would not participate in religious services except in outer circles of the temple or sanctuary. It was a custom that Christ observed as part of Jewish law and the Church carried on regarding the priesthood and participation in the sanctuary during Holy Mass until the advent of the feminist movement which conversely deeply influenced the aftermath of Vatican II. Many Church historians presume that Hippolytus broke away from Rome for two reasons - the first because he had not been chosen the next pontiff and the second, and most credible, because of his staunch defense of Greek. This could be another reason Callixtus was so quick to proclaim Latin as the official language since the two were bitter rivals. A little background on Hippolytus bears this out for he had been born of noble parents and nurtured in the Greek language; in short, a scholar. On the other side of the proverbial coin Callixtus had been born a slave and always clung to the needs of the poor. Those like him, who had been slaves, non-Romans or who were poor were rejected and in turn they rejected the Greek either out of lack of formal education or their despise for what pagan Rome stood for. They, in turn, adopted Latin as a means of communication and it was quickly embraced by the Christians who were, for the most part, in and among the poor as Christ had directed. Yet insurrection was inevitable from the Greek camp. Fired up by Hippolytus, those who favored Greek objected vehemently to the abandonment of their language. It's interesting to note that only a few things of Greek such as the Kyrie Leison were retained. It was an all-out victory for Callixtus and for Latin, but left scars that lasted for centuries and eventually led to a split between East and West. As time passed, more and more Latin was incorporated into the liturgy of the Mass. It also became a possessive tongue where the Christians guarded and treasured this new speech. Callixtus also reasoned that if the liturgy was conducted in Latin universally, Christians could more readily identify and participate wherever they went. From 220 to 1965 this was the rule rather than the exception. Unfortunately , today it's the exception rather than the rule.

The Blood Runs Deep

The establishment of Latin was St. Callixtus' most recognized accomplishment and eventually he returned to his roots, driven to take shelter in the poor and populous quarters of Rome during the terrible persecution of the Roman Emperor Septimus Severus who viciously had him beaten with clubs on October 14, 223 and his remains thrown into a well where the church Santa Maria in Trastevere now stands. Pope Saint Urban I succeeded Callixtus until 230 when he, too, was martyred. It was Pope Urban who converted Saint Cecilia and ordered a church built on the site of her martyrdom where her remains now lie. It was during Urban's papacy that, as the Church was growing, the need for acquiring property became an issue and he consented to allow the acquisition of property by Holy Mother Church. On August 28, 230 Pope Saint Pontian became the 18th successor to the Apostolic See. This Roman-born pontiff ordered the recital of the Confiteor and the chanting of the Psalms during Holy Mass. He also instituted the salutation Dominus vobiscum ("The Lord be with you...and also with you.") within the Mass. As the persecutions heated up, first under Severus and then a succession of emperors who were as debase as the previous, the blood ran deeper. Pontian was banished to work the mines in Sardinia along with the heretic Hippolytus. There he repented, renouncing his title as antipope and encouraged his followers to return to the true Church. The schism caused by Hippolytus was brought to an end through reconciliation and Hippolytus became Saint Hippolytus, shedding his blood for Christ along with Pontian at the hands of their Roman persecutors in 235. On December 21st, 235 Pope Saint Anterus was elevated to the papacy but it was very shortlived. He only had time to decree that the acts and relics of the martyrs be gathered together and kept in a special place in the churches, before being executed by the new Roman Emperor, a barbarian from Thrace named Maximus. Anterus' successor was Pope Saint Fabian who enjoyed one of the longer pontificates in this turbulent century. A dove miraculously appeared above Fabian's head the moment he was elected on January 10, 236, proof that he was indeed God's choice. Through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Fabian encouraged the exodus of many Christians from Rome. During Anterus' papacy the persecution of Maximus, and then the vile Decius, was so intense in northern Africa that it gave impetus to the rise of the hermetical life of the Anchorites as we treated in the last issue. Fabian died a martyr on January 20, 250 at the hands of Decius.

In the next issue we will treat the second half of the 3rd Century and the increasing martyrdoms as the tempo builds to the last part of the century when the evil Roman Emperor Diocletian surfaces and wages all-out war on Christ's followers.

NEXT INSTALLMENT:The Blood of the Martyrs replenishes a flourishing Church: 250-300

There are more souls in hell from the sins of the Sixth Commandment than any other sin

     One of the main sins committed by the lax Romans during the time covered above was the sin of lust. Today we can see this sin smothering the world and only through practicing the virtues of chastity, temperance, etc. can we avoid the great trap laid by the evil one. That is the essence of Jesus' words in the 97th Lesson/Meditation to the Hidden Flower of the Immaculate Heart, which is one in a series of 100 Meditative Lessons imparted to her. This Lesson deals with the Sixth Commandment. For the Lesson/Meditation titled ONLY BY VIRTUE CAN YOU FIGHT THE VICES COMMITTED AGAINST THE SIXTH COMMANDMENT, click on THE HIDDEN WAY.

Also, if you would like to know how you can acquire your own copy of the just-released book THE HIDDEN WAY, click on Book


Lesson Meditation #97

(Imparted on February 25, 1995 to the Hidden Flower by Our Lord)

The Cycle of the Mystery of Christ revolves around Sunday in our Catholic Liturgy

     Because of the length of the sixteenth installment of the Holy Father's Apostolic Letter DIES DOMINI by Pope John Paul II on keeping the Lord's Day holy, we are suspending the TUESDAY CATHOLIC PewPOINT to bring you this important document. Today the Holy Father continues to explain the importance of the Sabbath in our lives as we bring you the second to last of our daily installments. To read the entire document, you can go to Dies Domini. For Chapter Five: DIES DIERUM Sunday: the Primordial Feast, Revealing the Meaning of Time part two, click on THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS.

Sunday in the Liturgical Year

76. With its weekly recurrence, the Lord's Day is rooted in the most ancient tradition of the Church and is vitally important for the Christian. But there was another rhythm which soon established itself: the annual liturgical cycle. Human psychology in fact desires the celebration of anniversaries, associating the return of dates and seasons with the remembrance of past events. When these events are decisive in the life of a people, their celebration generally creates a festive atmosphere which breaks the monotony of daily routine.

Now, by God's design, the great saving events upon which the Church's life is founded were closely linked to the annual Jewish feasts of Passover and Pentecost, and were prophetically foreshadowed in them. Since the second century, the annual celebration of Easter by Christians having been added to the weekly Easter celebration allowed a more ample meditation on the mystery of Christ crucified and risen. Preceded by a preparatory fast, celebrated in the course of a long vigil, extended into the fifty days leading to Pentecost, the feast of Easter "solemnity of solemnities" became the day par excellence for the initiation of catechumens. Through baptism they die to sin and rise to a new life because Jesus "was put to death for our sins and raised for our justification" (Rom 4:25; cf. 6:3-11). Intimately connected to the Paschal Mystery, the Solemnity of Pentecost takes on special importance, celebrating as it does the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles gathered with Mary and inaugurating the mission to all peoples. (120)

77. A similar commemorative logic guided the arrangement of the entire Liturgical Year. As the Second Vatican Council recalls, the Church wished to extend throughout the year "the entire mystery of Christ, from the Incarnation and Nativity to the Ascension, to the day of Pentecost and to the waiting in blessed hope for the return of the Lord. Remembering in this way the mysteries of redemption, the Church opens to the faithful the treasury of the Lord's power and merits, making them present in some sense to all times, so that the faithful may approach them and be filled by them with the grace of salvation". (121)

After Easter and Pentecost, the most solemn celebration is undoubtedly the Nativity of the Lord, when Christians ponder the mystery of the Incarnation and contemplate the Word of God who deigns to assume our humanity in order to give us a share in his divinity.

78. Likewise, "in celebrating this annual cycle of the mysteries of Christ, the holy Church venerates with special love the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, united forever with the saving work of her Son". (122) In a similar way, by inserting into the annual cycle the commemoration of the martyrs and other saints on the occasion of their anniversaries, "the Church proclaims the Easter mystery of the saints who suffered with Christ and with him are now glorified". (123) When celebrated in the true spirit of the liturgy, the commemoration of the saints does not obscure the centrality of Christ, but on the contrary extols it, demonstrating as it does the power of the redemption wrought by him. As Saint Paulinus of Nola sings, "all things pass, but the glory of the saints endures in Christ, who renews all things, while he himself remains unchanged". (124) The intrinsic relationship between the glory of the saints and that of Christ is built into the very arrangement of the Liturgical Year, and is expressed most eloquently in the fundamental and sovereign character of Sunday as the Lord's Day. Following the seasons of the Liturgical Year in the Sunday observance which structures it from beginning to end, the ecclesial and spiritual commitment of Christians comes to be profoundly anchored in Christ, in whom believers find their reason for living and from whom they draw sustenance and inspiration.

79. Sunday emerges therefore as the natural model for understanding and celebrating these feast-days of the Liturgical Year, which are of such value for the Christian life that the Church has chosen to emphasize their importance by making it obligatory for the faithful to attend Mass and to observe a time of rest, even though these feast-days may fall on variable days of the week. (125) Their number has been changed from time to time, taking into account social and economic conditions, as also how firmly they are established in tradition, and how well they are supported by civil legislation. (126)

The present canonical and liturgical provisions allow each Episcopal Conference, because of particular circumstances in one country or another, to reduce the list of Holy Days of obligation. Any decision in this regard needs to receive the special approval of the Apostolic See, (127) and in such cases the celebration of a mystery of the Lord, such as the Epiphany, the Ascension or the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, must be transferred to Sunday, in accordance with liturgical norms, so that the faithful are not denied the chance to meditate upon the mystery. (128) Pastors should also take care to encourage the faithful to attend Mass on other important feast-days celebrated during the week. (129)

80. There is a need for special pastoral attention to the many situations where there is a risk that the popular and cultural traditions of a region may intrude upon the celebration of Sundays and other liturgical feast-days, mingling the spirit of genuine Christian faith with elements which are foreign to it and may distort it. In such cases, catechesis and well-chosen pastoral initiatives need to clarify these situations, eliminating all that is incompatible with the Gospel of Christ. At the same time, it should not be forgotten that these traditions and, by analogy, some recent cultural initiatives in civil society often embody values which are not difficult to integrate with the demands of faith. It rests with the discernment of Pastors to preserve the genuine values found in the culture of a particular social context and especially in popular piety, so that liturgical celebration above all on Sundays and holy days does not suffer but rather may actually benefit. (130)

TOMORROW: Part Seventeen - final installment: CONCLUSION