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.
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.
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.
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
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
On this day I will speak to My children concerning My Sixth Commandment which states: "Thou shalt not commit adultery."
I want you to observe that in this command, as in all of My Commands, the proper use of the word "Thou', is most significant yet seldom discerned.
As I Who Am gave unto you, My Children, My laws, I address you as My children, created by Me in My Image and Likeness. The "Thou" connotes to your respect for the marvelous creation of your mortal body which is a tabernacle, as it were, for the immortal soul where, by grace, The Blessed Trinity takes up Its abode. Can the body, then, be less than pure? Is not mortal life that time in which heart, soul and body are purified, transformed into My True Image and Likeness?
But, My children, because of the lack of morality and virtue in your modern, liberal society, you no longer recognize My presence in you, nor the Holy Spirit Who continually seeks to Sanctify.
Oh! A generation of proud hearts is a generation of adulterers! Yes, I tell you this so you may purify yourselves and return to the path of holiness.
By My Sixth Command I tell you that you in all manner of behavior, whether alone or with others, you are to be pure and modest.
If the soul is centered on Me, then the every thought, word and deed of the human mind and flesh is directed toward Me, is conscious of Me, and aware of Me conducts all things as pleasing before Me. Therefore the soul, as guardian, hastens to prompt one to clothe the body in modesty, seeking not to attract undue attention to itself either from self (which is pride), or from others which leads them to vain and prideful behavior. Purity of soul so clothes the mortal body as to wear garments of humility by which the eyes of vanity and pride are blinded.
Thus any form of dress which displays the human body as an object of lustful desire is an abomination before Me. To wear clothing of fine material purchased at great price is not necessarily evil, for I give to souls many gifts, among them worldly goods so as to test their faith in Me. But only those who use such material wealth to honor Me, clothe themselves richly but modestly and thus honor Me, who fashioned both the male and female body.
Behold, in these last days your world is saturated with so much impurity as to tempt even the strongest of My children to be impure in thought, word and deed.
Oh. If you knew how souls must suffer because of impurity you would prefer the sackcloth and ashes of the Old Law lest you be led to impurity through your senses.
But the evil one has drugged the conscience and has whispered such lies to you about human flesh, that you no longer know purity and are mired in impurity.
Divorce is an epidemic which is contrary to My Sixth Commandment, and leads to the destruction of the family life and all of its inherent values. No longer sanctified by me as a true sacrament, many marriages are nothing more than lustful unions where immorality is sought to be justified in a union where I am not present.
The eyes of both men and women remain not on Me or on their lawful, beloved spouse, but are the roaming, restless eyes that seek human pleasure and gratification in the senses. Therefore, the man views the body of the woman as an "object" for his sensual enjoyment, nor does the man seek the soul of his helpmate, but ignores all spirituality and lusts after carnal pleasure alone, which is an abomination before Me, your Lord and God!
Women no longer respect their bodies. In every way they seek constant change, driven by the evil one who suffocates the soul and presses upon woman that unless she "appear" in a certain style or type, she shall not be acceptable to man.
Thus, all manner of evilness is done by the woman to her own body, altering size and shape and offensively wearing clothing which causes men to lust for her in an impure way!
Oh! Sinful eyes which so offend Me. Sinful senses which crave for ever more sensual gratification of all carnal desire by thought, by word, by deed.
In all you read you must have custody of the eyes and over your mind, for I solemnly tell you adultery is easily committed by your willful reading of impure material. In all of your movies, television and other entertainment, how easily the sin of adultery is committed because you watch, see, hear and then participate with your heart and will in licentious acts that are an abomination before Me, your Lord and God!
Oh, if you knew the sufferings of purgatory for those who commit sins of the flesh, you would never willingly place yourself into temptation.
If you but knew the number of souls who, by sins against purity, condemn themselves to hell, you would turn off television, cease going to movies and even Theatre, lest by repeated temptation you yield to the sins of the flesh.
Behold, I came and died, being nailed to a cross that your own flesh might be nailed to Mine and the sins of the flesh would be forever banished from My Children.
When you deny My Cross your desires of the flesh lead you to every sort of temptation. And weakened by a world which applauds impurity and jeers at chas- tity, you finally lose sight of Me and the evils of sin.
The sins of the flesh are many. One sin leads to another, and each becomes more grievous.
Beware, My children, the multitude of traps laid for you by the evil one in these days. Put on humility and be nailed with Me to the Cross, that by My grace and Infinite Merits your life shall be pure and chaste at all times. Only in this way shall you persevere and be prepared.
Do as I command and the Refuge of My Sacred Heart shall be your dwelling place.
I love and bless you and say again: Prepare, for I Come!
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