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February 17, 1998             SECTION ONE              vol 9, no. 34

The Legacy of Innocent III's Papacy

     Today's feature mega series on Church history continues with the legacy of Pope Innocent III who served as the strong transition pontiff from the medieval age of popes to the pre-renaissance era. His staunch defense of the Church and bringing kings and princes to their knees and away from meddling in Church affairs helped plant the seeds of holy saints who sprung up during this and subsequent years of the thirteenth century. Two of those saints whose fruits were harvested during his papacy were Saint Francis of Assisi who received approval from Innocent to begin the Order of Friars Minor and Saint Dominic whose Order of Preachers received preliminary sanction from Innocent as well. Click on THE HISTORY OF THE MASS AND HOLY MOTHER CHURCH


     The early times of the thirteenth century were the fertile fields for many, many vocations as two orders came into prominence through the approval of Pope Innocent III and full approval of the Holy Rule by his successor Pope Honorius III. But they could not have succeeded in playing such a pivotal part without two saints who played major roles in the universal development of the Church from then until now. We are, of course, speaking of Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Dominic, two holy giants who sought only the Will of God. Their accomplishments and what they left in the name of Jesus Christ are legendary and the legacy of saints Innocent fostered during his papal regime as well as the landmark Fourth Lateran Council and his resuscitation of Papal supremacy will go down as great accomplishments in marking this Pope as one of the greatest in the long line of successors of Peter.

Pope Innocent III: leaving a legacy of saints.

     Continuing our multiple installments on Pope Innocent III we arrive at the renaissance of saints. While great wealth was beginning to spread throughout all of Europe, a new wealth was beginning to spring up in Italy for the treasury of Holy Mother Church - the wealth of true spirituality. Spirituality nourished by two giants of the Church who would go on to establish two of the most respected and fruitful religious orders of the Church - Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Dominic. The former Italian born of noble parentage gave it all up to found the Friars Minor or Franciscans as they have come to be known, and the latter, though born in Spain, accomplished the fruits of his labors in Italy with his fledgling Order of Preachers who are better identified as Dominicans.

     Few saints are as beloved as Saint Francis of Assisi who founded the Franciscans in the 12th Century. No order ever grew so fast. Francis was born Francis Bernardone in 1181 to a wealthy wool dyer who encouraged Francis to follow in his footsteps. Francis was well on his way toward this avocation, spending his youth recklessly at times with an adventurous spirit, impulsively enlisting in the war between Assisi and Perugia. One night, while sleeping on the battlefield in full gear, Francis had a mystical dream in which he saw himself returning to Assisi and entered the church of St. Damian where he heard three times Christ's words to repair His Church depicted by a crucifix that had been shattered. This dream was so pronounced that Francis, upon awakening, resigned his commission in the military, then renounced his patrimony by defrocking to the waist in front of his father, bishops and the well-to-do aristocrats of Assisi as well as the townsfolk as a gesture that he was stripping himself of all worldly possessions and consecrating himself to God by turning to a life as a mendicant preacher. Around 1207 Francis put on the robes of a penitent and sought to lead a contemplative, secluded life. At first he had taken Our Lord's words literally, constructing with his own hands a one room portiuncula church that still stands today inside the large church at the base of the hills leading to the town of Assisi. While reading a passage from Luke 9: 3-5 on the mission of the Apostles, Francis knew his mission was to gather a group of like-minded men for the purpose of preaching the gospel to all, especially those who could not read. Thus, he began the Order of Friars Minor and Pope Innocent III orally approved the first Rule, but not until Francis and his men had walked all the way from Assisi to Rome in hopes of gaining an audience with his holiness only to be turned away. In a mystical dream, Innocent was shown what would happen if he turned down Francis' request and what Francis' mission truly was. Innocent, a man of great faith and intent on doing the right thing, sent for Francis who already was half way back to Assisi to give him word that yes, the Holy Father had approved his Holy Rule. Francis, overjoyed, shared the news with his compadres and they began to preach the gospel everywhere, fostering numerous vocations as men sought to join this holy friar, with only a brown robe, cinctured rope and sandals as their possessions. Francis had always longed to be a martyr and yearned, like his counterpart and friend Saint Anthony to go the Morocco and preach to the heathens. Francis did go to Morocco, Egypt and then Palestine and five of his Franciscans were martyred by the Muslims, but not Francis who returned to Assisi where he, along with Saint Clare founded the Poor Clares, an order of Franciscan women dedicated to a life of contemplative, cloistered life in supporting the Friars through their sacrifices and prayers.

      While Francis was doing wonders in Italy, another great saint, who would also be remembered in Italy, was forming a priestly order of homilists or Preachers who would become the white-robed Dominicans fostering some of the greatest and most intellectual of saints - such as Saint Thomas Aquinas. The origins of this order started in 1170 when one of the greatest preachers in Church History, Saint Dominic was born of noble parents in Caleruega, Spain. Dominic became an Augustinian canon after being educated at Palenci, Spain and received the rare gift of being chosen, at the age of 24, of joining his bishop the Most Reverend Diego de Azevedo on a mission to Denmark which also took them through southern France where Dominic encountered first-hand the Albigensianism and the Waldensian heresy rampant in those parts. He realized then and there the Church needed more preachers to convey the true teachings of Holy Mother Church. Both he and Bishop Azevedo returned immediately to Osma, Spain to begin recruiting worthy preachers. Before they were able to complete this task, the bishop died and the mission was left to Dominic alone. Undaunted, he realized the first necessity was prayer support and so set about to found a monastery of cloistered nuns in Prouille, France near Toulouse in 1215 similar to the Institute of Divine Mercy founded in Dallas a few years ago and featured in archives in volumes 7, no. 12 and 13 of A Call To Peace. Two years later Dominic had assembled enough preachers to form the Friars Preachers and it was quickly approved as the Order of Preachers in a papal bull issued by Innocent's successor, Pope Honorius III a year later in 1218.

     In the next installment we shall cover the papacy of Honorius III. As for the glorious reign of Innocent III, it ended in the summer of 1216. After issuing countless decrees on the Eucharist, the condemnation of heresies particularly Manicheaism and Albigensianism that would spawn the Inquisition, put into effect by Innocent's successor, and placing a ban on founding of new religious orders without papal approval so that any new orders would be in the purity of the Franciscans and Dominicans with no chance for error, Innocent's main passion was to organize an all-out crusade that would avenge the deaths of the thousands of youth slaughtered or sold into slavery in the ill-fated "Children's Crusade" during his papacy. While stirring up interest in Perugia and intervening personally to settle differences between the seaport cities of Genoa and Pisa, the Holy Father caught the fever and succumbed on July 16, 1216 - the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. He was buried in Perugia, but in 1891 Pope Leo XIII, himself a former bishop of Perugia, ordered Innocent's body moved to the right-hand transept of St. John Lateran Church in Rome for proper entombment where all could reverence his tomb and memory. A memory that will go down in Church annals as the end of the "medieval papacy" and the beginning of a new, fresher, more spiritual direction for Holy Mother Church, but one wrought with criticism over the establishment of the Inquisition. Some historians have criticized Innocent for being so severe with kings and princes, but it was necessary in order to preserve the spirituality of Holy Mother Church and ward off regal interference from state rulers on affairs of the Church regarding spiritual matters.

Next installment: Pope Honorius III the Inquisition begins.

To review all past installments of this on-going series, go to Archives beginning with the inaugural A CALL TO PEACE internet issue in January 1996. volume 7, no. 1.

Francis and Dominic quenched Christ's thirst through their works of Corporal and Spiritual Mercy

      The legacy left by the two founders of the great Religious Orders - the Franciscans and Dominicans - was based on, on fulfilling all Jesus Christ asked for, including setting an example through the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy which Our Lord speaks on in the 73rd Lesson/Meditation entitled "I THIRST!" as imparted to the Hidden Flower of the Immaculate Heart. For today's lesson/meditation, click on THE HIDDEN WAY

Lessons/Meditations from Our Lord and Our Lady to

the Hidden Flower of the Immaculate Heart

Lesson/Meditation #73:


(Imparted on February 3, 1995 to the Hidden Flower by Our Lady)
Feast of Saint Blase and FIRST FRIDAY

      Beloved Hidden Flower of My Motherís Immaculate Heart, Peace! I am with you. I alone am your strength.

      Today, I want you to reflect upon My Sacred Passion. During My Passion I said: "I Thirst." This was not just physical thirst, but a much more profound, total spiritual thirst. However, today meditate upon only My physical thirst. There were around Me so many people. All heard My cry. My dear Holy Mother, My beloved apostle John and the Holy Women so desired to give Me to drinkóa cool, refreshing taste of water. But the soldiers would not permit them to aid Me. The large crowd, or rather, the rabble, shouted and cursed at Me, screaming out that no drink be given Me, for in them was to be found no Mercy.

      One soldier, moved by Mercy yet constrained by the law, dipped a reed in vinegar and wine and placed this acid drink upon My parched, bleeding, swollen lips. It was certainly less than what I needed, but Mercy shone forth in his act and because of his mercy My grace entered his soul.

      Now, dear children, place yourself on Calvary. Hear My plea, My cry: "I Thirst."

      Will you come to My aid against all odds to give Me but a sip? Or will you scream and rage against Me, your God, and demand that My sufferings be extended even more fully?

      Meditate upon this and you will know if Mercy animates your soul, thus propelling your humanity to achieve a corporal work of Mercy.

      I love and bless all of My children on this day when My Most Sacred Heart - your Refuge - is honored. Pray for the Reign of My Sacred Heart, dear children. I Come!


Deserting the President's agenda of war will provide the just desserts of peace as Catholics leader call for as opposed to the bitter alternative of desert warfare!

      We follow up yesterday's editorial with another poignant one, citing the endorsement by American bishops and cardinals for negotiating a peaceful settlement rather than military threats. As the days pass and war looms ever closer, saner minds and hearts are beginning to speak out against such a folly. For today's editorial entitled, " The just desserts of peace would be sweet compared to the bitter alternative in the desert! ", click on Today's CATHOLIC PewPOINT

The just desserts of peace would be sweet compared to the bitter alternative in the desert!

      Our hard-hitting editorial yesterday calling for America to show restraint and not attack Iraq as Bill Clinton has been making overtures to doing, received even more endorsement not to attack with the announcement today that all the United States Cardinals, the head of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the official Vatican observer to the United Nations, as well as Pope John Paul II strongly urge the United States to wait and explore all avenues of negotiations.

      In an unprecedented move by the Holy See, they announced that Archbishop Renato Martin met personally with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to extend the Holy Father's deep concerns and, as Catholic World News reports "to convey the "profound concern" of Pope John Paul II regarding the possibility of a military strike against Iraq. He asked Annan to visit Baghdad personally in an effort to ward off violence, and relayed the Pope's urgent request to 'swear off' military options." Archbishop Martin, meeting with Annan on Valentines Day at the UN headquarters in New York, strongly urged the head of the United Nations of the Vatican's grave concern over the possibility of war. Last report is that Annan is taking the respected pontiff at his word and plans on personally visiting Baghdad soon.

     On top of this, it was announced by Catholic World News yesterday that all seven active cardinals in the U.S. endorsed a letter personally sent to Clinton beseeching him to be wise and cautious in his announced intent to bomb Baghdad. In an effort to convince this administration that such action of a military threat could not be justified morally. In their letter they wrote in part: "We write ... to urge that instead of using the military option, you reinforce the diplomatic initiatives by widening the participation of other governments, especially Arab states, in the concerted effort to bring about Iraqi compliance on these issues...We are pleased that you and your administration are taking a leading role in attempting to enforce the UN resolutions. From that perspective, however, we view with grave concern the stated position of the US administration indicating a readiness on the part of the United States to use military force to compel compliance by Iraq. In our considered judgment this action by the United States could be exceedingly difficult if not impossible to justify and would seriously jeopardize the possibility of achieving any lasting peace in the region." The letter has the full support of the majority of bishops through the NCCB and countless priests and Catholics who regard life as sacred - whether it's an American life or an Iraqui life.

     We are pleased the bishops are in union with the Pope on this all-important issue of searching all alternatives short of violence. Whether Clinton will comply remains to be seen. His track record does not bode well for Catholics. Consider the Holy Father's stern rebuke to him privately and publicly regarding abortion. Did Clinton listen? Not on your life, but rather intensified his crusade for the culture of death, masqueraded by the plaudit of "saving the woman's life and dignity." Since Bill Clinton lives and reacts by the polls, this next week and a half will tell the story. If he gets resistance for going to war from Iraq in his "town hall meetings" that begins first in Columbus, Ohio on the Buckeye campus of Ohio State, then he might rethink his course. If he gets any kind of inkling that the American people will go along with anything Slick Willy says - because they can't separate his moral venue from the military venue - then we're in deep trouble, folks! Let's hope and pray that the embedded hawks at the Pentagon, where the president is speaking today, will choose wisdom over valor and folly. There is already a grassroots groundswell against American troops being sent to battle by many respected military leaders as well as families of military personnel.

     Do you think the American people will wake up in time to the grave dangers inherent in rushing pell-mell into the desert. There was another who met peril in the desert in World War II. He was the Nazi tank commander General Rommel, better known as the "Desert Fox." Today we have another "Desert Fox" sitting in the White House who has outfoxed so many with his lies and "tanked" when it comes to respecting life. Let's hope and pray America will dessert this desert fox from Arkansas, not in the same manner that he deserted the military during the Vietnam War, but rather by upholding the sacredness of life and emphasizing the importance of peace. After all the garbage we've been fed by this "chef of doublespeak," our plate is full. It's time to remember the words Jesus uttered on the cross "I THIRST!" - the title of today's Lesson/Meditation in the THE HIDDEN WAY - and to seek Mercy for both Christian and Moslem, American and Iraqui. To reach out to others through the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy and heartfelt prayer. That way we can wash down all the cholesterol junk the fat-cats have been feeding us by sipping of the cool, clear water of common sense and prayer. By reaching out in love to our enemies, we quench Our Lord's thirst and He returns the favor with loving Mercy for all His children. If we can do this, then the just desserts of peace would be sweet in comparison to the bitter alternative in the desert!

Michael Cain, editor

Francis and Dominic lived and preached forgiveness and we should too!

     Continuing his treatise on primary and secondary faith in his weekly column from his work "Faith: Key to the Heart of God," Father John Hampsch, C.M.F. deals today with Measuring Maturity and how we need to forgive in order that we might be forgiven. It is a universal message that we must live as Jesus has instructed. For his weekly column, click on KEYS TO LIVING GOD'S WILL

Twenty-sixth Installment: Measuring Maturity Forgive so that you may be forgiven

     Do you believe Jesusí statement that you canít have you sins forgiven if you harbor resentment? Or that that resentment will prevent you from working miracles or getting your prayers answered? Mark 11:23 implies that every Christian should be a miracle worker! Jesus said ask for anything, believing with no doubt, and itís yours. Read the next sentence (v. 25): "But before you ask for these things be sure that you forgive you brethren from you heart [a Hebrewism that means with the totality of you being], so that your Heavenly Father will forgive not, and you will not be forgiven." (Matthew 6:15). If you harbor any resentment against anyone, living or dead, then you are not authentically Christian. Youíre also living in sin - not just the sin of resentment - but in the accumulated and consequently unforgiven sins as well. There are thirteen places in Scripture where it says you will not be forgiven unless you first forgive. Do you believe that? This is only one small part of the revealed Word of God. Accepting it is one small part of your secondary faith.

      Should you harbor resentment against anyone- the rapist who raped you, the burglar who raided your house or the thief who stole your car, the person who broke up your marriage - it means you donít love your enemies and you are not fully Christian (cf. John 13:35). You have to love that rapist who raped you; you donít have to like him (an emotional attraction), but you do have to love him with a benevolential love.

      That means you must want good for him. Jesus says in Luke 6:28 that you must pray for your enemies; thatís benevolential love. 1 Peter 3:9 says, "Call down Godís blessings on those who offend you." Ask God to make that criminal happy, prosperous and especially repentant. Pray for those who have injured you. If you donít you canít call yourself a true Christian, because you are not following the basic mandate of Christianity which is love. Jesusí mandate goes beyond Old Testament requirements to love your neighbor (Leviticus 19:18); we are now required to love our enemies (Luke 6:27)...He said He did not come to destroy Old Testament morality but to improve upon it, fulfill it. If you are living only by what was instead of also what is, you cannot call yourself a Christian. Check your secondary faith.

Next Installment: Measuring Maturity Don't underestimate the power of the devil

Seven for Heaven!

     Today, sharing the liturgy with Ordinary Time, is the feast of the Seven Founders of the Servite Order - a consortium of holy men who banded together to form a religious order of priests less than twenty years after Francis and Dominic founded their orders. For the story of these founding Servants of Mary and the liturgy of Ordinary time today and tomorrow, click on LITURGY OF THE DAY

TUESDAY, February 17, 1998


     There were seven concilors of Florence who founded the Servants of Mary or Servites in 1233. The best known were Saint Buonfiglio dei Monaldi and Saint Alessio de' Falconieri, who served as a lay brother all his life.The other five were also from influential families in Florence and were all members of the Confraternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Through this association, they grew spiritually and longed for something more. Thus, under the direction and advice of their bishop, the majority became priests, forming the Servants of Mary or Servites. They adopted the Rule of Saint Augustine, wore black cassocks and strove to emulate the mendicant friars like the Franciscans and Dominicans. Their Order was officially approved by Pope Innocent IV in 1259; canonically approved by Blessed Pope Benedict XI in 1304; and canonized by Pope Leo XIII in 1888. Their feast is celebrated in Church Liturgy on February 17th. There was also a contemplative order of Servite nuns founded by two penitents of Saint Philip Benezi and a Third Order of nuns dedicating to treating the poor and sick as well as educating children. This was founded by a relative of St. Alessio's, Saint Juliana Falconieri in 1306.

WEDNESDAY, February 18, 1998


The following is taken from today's Preface of the Servite Missal

      Father, in a wonderful manner You called the seven holy fathers to the service of the holy Mother of God so that, faithfully associated with her at the foot of the Cross, they could lead Your people to the copious fountain of salvation that gushes forth from the wounds of Christ. Moreover, O Father, by the sublime charity that united them, You sent them forth as apostles of union and peace among the Christian people so that, resolving every conflict, they could gather people together in fraternal concord.


"He who conceals his sins prospers not, but he who confesses and forsakes them obtains mercy."

Proverbs 28: 13

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February 17, 1998 volume 9, no. 34          DAILY CATHOLIC

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