The times of the late twelfth century would never be the same again after the death of the beloved Pope Gregory VIII, but the cardinals overcame their mourning to elect a pontiff with a weak, but big heart - Pope Clement III who would go down in vatican annals as the Holy Father who brought the papacy back to Rome after a sixty year exile. Meanwhile striving to be instrumental in dispatching the Third Crusade to recover Jerusalem, he sought accord among all Christian Europe. That is the just part of the story in today's fifty-third installment of our on-going megaseries on Church History. Click on THE HISTORY OF THE MASS AND HOLY MOTHER CHURCH
Many historians believe that because Clement was not in the best health, suffering from a congenital heart murmur, and because he was inexperienced as a politician that these "weaknesses" were turned into "strengths." Because of his sincerity, he drew sympathies from all sides which enabled him to negotiate with all parties with only one objective: Peace. This aided him greatly with the ambitious Frederick Barbarossa, the German King and Emperor, long a thorn in the side of many pontiffs. But Gregory had softened him and it was left to Clement to bring Barbarossa back into the good graces of Holy Mother ChurchÖbut only for a time. Clement saw the immense edge of prestige and power of Christian Europe in persuading Frederick to lead a well-formed band of crusaders to the Holy Land to retake Jerusalem. Clement saw that the Holy See could be the unifying factor and clearing house to bring countries of differing cultures together for one cause: the Third Crusade. Turning his attention to England, he tried to negotiate a peace settlement between the English King Henry II and Franceís monarch Philip, but ran into political intrigue and war broke out between the countries. Philip defeated Henry who died shortly thereafter. Emerging from this was the new English king - one who would become legendary and synonymous with the Crusades - Richard known as the "Lion-Heart." Both Richard and Philip, once enemies, now became allies in the cause of the crusades. Meanwhile, Clement, out of necessity, became a master at exacting alliances and monetary dues to offset the taxes assessed against the Holy See and land confiscated from past concordats. To make up the difference and fund the crusades, Clement imposed taxes not only on many countries, but also monasteries and dioceses throughout Christian Europe. Human nature and greed mandated that this would not go smoothly. One such example was in Scotland where Clement had transferred the Scottish Church from allegiance to York in England to direct dependence on Rome. This did not sit well with many within the English clergy who had relied on the financial support of Scotland, yet for the Scots it was indeed "independence day" for they had been freed from being dependent ecclesiastically to the Archbishop of England.
When the Norman William II, monarch in Sicily died on November 18, 1189, more problems erupted for there was no male heir. Henry VI, son of Frederick, pounced on the opportunity like a hungry hyena. He claimed his wife Constance was the legal heir to the throne and therefore due the spoils. This did not sit well with the people of southern Italy who saw as repugnant the idea that a foreigner would rule them. Thus they rallied behind Count Tancred of Lecce, the grandson of Williamís father King Roger II. He was elected to the throne in January 1190. Clement, realizing the dangers of being sandwiched between the German powers, opted to recognize Tancred though he was diplomatic enough to not invest him formally which would have really riled Frederick who was up to his neck in alligators in trying to wrest Jerusalem from the hands of the infidels. His son Henry was left to fight the battle on his own, but he too was occupied with problems in Germany. It was not until January 1191 that Henry reached Italian soil. His goal was to have the Holy Father crown him imperial emperor of all the empire, including Sicily which would conveniently place him higher than Tancred and thus open the door to his original intent of reaping the riches and power. However on his march toward Sicily where he would meet the supreme pontiff, he learned that Clementís heart, so great and giving in life, had given out in March 1191. Henry would not be elevated by Clement III. It would be left to Clementís successor who we shall cover in the next installment next week.
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.
Because you fail to pray from your heart, nor do you seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit, you read the Scripture passages and My Motherís messages and sift their eternal meaning with finite intelligence. This is why there is confusion, anxiety, even disagreement among My little ones, who accuse My messengers of being Ďfalseí, because the meanings do not measure up to what you want the messages to mean.
Hear Me, Jesus Christ, for I do solemnly tell you that all I have revealed in Sacred Scripture and through apparitions of My Mother in this century are to quickly be fulfilled. This will happen through the just hand of the Almighty Father, Who alone knows the hour of the Justice.
As the Triumph of My Holy and Immaculate Mother draws ever closer, there will be distinct chastisements which will befall the world. The first, allowed by Me, will be a series of catastrophic events that will include great earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods. Cities will be wiped from the earth, and the loss of life shall be very great. Even after such loss, my children will not convert their hearts. Rather, blinded by satan, they shall turn to him, to the antichrist as their savior. Thus, the second chastisement shall come and this will also be from Me. This second one will be fire from heaven, which will annihilate the majority of those major cities still remaining after the first chastisement. But again, despite signs of M Mercy, My Love, My Presence among you, the majority of My children shall seek their salvation not in and from Me, but from My enemy, the great deceiver - satan. In all this time the world shall experience an eve-deepening darkness of soul.
Because you will choose the antichrist and deny Me, the light and life of grace in your soul shall grow dim; in many souls it will be extinguished. This is The Darkness that Scripture warns of, that My Holy Mother has foretold from LaSalette to the present day. You anticipate only a physical darkness, but of what concern should that be to one who is united to Me?
No, I solemnly tell you that the Great Darkness is the darkness of the soul, which shall fulfill fully the Third Secret of Fatima. This shall be when the antichristís reign is full, when apostasy and schism have split My One True Church, causing My faithful remnant to be persecuted, so that many will give their life for the True Faith, while others shall form the underground church wherein the True Faith will be preserved. This is truly a period of great faith, hope and love, My children, so grow strong daily in your faith.
Then, as the moment of My Motherís Immaculate Heartís Triumph, the antichrist, who rules the world, shall reveal himself for who he is. His evilness, which you cannot comprehend, will be made fully visible, and being under his power (that is, in his darkness, deprived of My Light which is Life), the vast majority of his victims will die from the sheer horror of his visage. Then shall My Motherís Heart Triumph and My Sacred Heart shall reign.
Do not, My little ones, be concerned for your bodily welfare. You must seek the care of your immortal soul above all else. Come and be reconciled to Me in the Sacrament of Penance. Come and go to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and therein receive My True Presence in the Blessed Sacrament with all reverence.
Pray much and pray from the heart, or else you will not be able to remain in My True Light, for grace shall be siphoned from your soul by the wiles of the evil one.
Pray the Rosary. Wear My Crucifix and a scapular. Many holy medals are also to be used, but it is your faith in Me that is the power, not the object itself.
Little children, strive every day to be in union with My Holy Will so, being tested and purified, you shall have My Light and shall not see the face of satan at the height of The Great Darkness.
I repeat. Return all reverence to Me in the Blessed Sacrament. Let My consecrated religious and priests return to the full purity of their vocation, being clothed as true nuns, priests, brothers and monks. I desire religious life to be fully reformed and for this reform to being in all contemplative, cloistered orders and for My consecrated ones to be, as it were, the heart of all religious life which is then called to active service.
Let every knee bend at the sound of My Most Holy Name. Let the Divine Praises be sung at all times, for as you meditate on these words you shall know they are from Me, Jesus Christ, and I tell you these things because I Come! Peace. Heed My call and trust in Me! I will not abandon anyone who seeks Me with a humble and contrite heart!
NEXT WEEK: Lesson/Meditation #69:
Hebrews 10:39 says our faith in Him (primary faith) assures our salvation. I Corinthinans 15: 1-3, I John 5: 13, and many other Scriptures affirm the same thing. That is the basic level.
You may say you've done that. You've watched Christian television and prayed the sinner's prayer ("All you people out there in television land get down on your knees now and take Jesus for your personal Savior"). You've done that, perhaps many times. That's beautiful, and it's good to have it renewed. The problem, however, is this: a person who makes that act of faith often thinks that is all there is to faith - getting saved. "Saved" is a relative term because Paul in Ephesians 4:30 implies a second level of salvation. He says, in effect, that our salvation is not completed here, it is completed when we get to Heaven. And again in Philippians 2:12 he says to work out one's salvation in fear and trembling, implying that we have not fully arrived yet. We have security because Jesus said, "Those the Father has given Me, no one will snatch from My hands." And I John 3:9 says no one who has become part of God's family makes a practice of sinning because Christ, God's Son, holds him securely "-saved-" and the devil cannot get his hands on him. Such a one is saved in the sense that he is locked into a path to Heaven, and that's beautiful.
But to think that is all there is to faith is to cultivate what I call kindergarten spirituality. Hebrews 6:1 says not to stop there: "Stop going over the same old ground again and again, always teaching those first lessons about Christ. But let us go instead to the other things and become mature in our understanding as strong Christians ought to be." Let's stop eating the baby pablum of Christian spirituality, as important as that is to get started. In the next column I'll talk about the second stage as we graduate to more substantial food for thought and faith.
Next Week: Steak and Potatoes Faith stage two - a more substantial diet of faith