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ST ANTHONY MARY CLARET, BISHOP AND CONFESSOR

ST ANTHONY MARY CLARET, BISHOP AND CONFESSOR

ST ANTHONY MARY CLARET, BISHOP AND CONFESSOR – MEMORIAL: OCTOBER 24

Anthony Mary Claret was born at Vich in Spain, of devout and honourable parents. He started life as a weaver, but afterwards became a priest. He was first engaged in parochial work, but later went to Rome to be sent on the foreign missions by the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith. By the will of God, however, he returned to Spain and as a Missionary Apostolic travelled through Catalonia and the Canary Islands.

HE FOUNDED THE CONGREGATION OF THE SONS OF THE IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY

Besides being a prolific writer of fine books, he also founded the Congregation of the Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Appointed Archbishop of the See of Santiago in Cuba, he proved, by his virtues, to be a zealous pastor. He restored the seminary, improved the education and discipline of the clergy, established social works and founded the Teaching Sisters of Mary Immaculate for the Christian education for girls.

THE TEACHING SISTERS OF MARY IMMACULATE 

Finally summoned to Madrid as the confessor and councillor in important ecclesiastical affairs for the Queen of Spain, he gave an excellent example of austere life adorned with every virtue. In the Vatican Council, he strongly defended the infallibility of the Roman Pontiff.

A STAUNCH PROMOTER OF DEVOTION TO THE BLESSED SACRAMENT 

He was a staunch promoter of devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and her Rosary. At length, at Font Froide, in France, he died in exile in the year 1870 [on October 24]. Being renowned for miracles, Pope Pius XI added him to the list of the blessed and Pius XII to that of the saints.

PRAYER:

O God, who glorified blessed Anthony Mary, your Confessor and Bishop, because of his zeal for souls, and through him established in the Church new households of men and women religious, we beseech you to grant that, with his counsels as a guide, and through the merits of his prayers, we may continually apply ourselves to seeking the salvation of souls. Through our Lord…

– From: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964 [bold headings added afterwards]

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PRAYER FOR THE POPE AND THE BISHOPS

PRAYER FOR THE POPE AND THE BISHOPS

Good Lord Christ Jesus, I cry thee mercy for all states that be in Holy Church, for the Pope and all his cardinals, for all archbishops and bishops, and for all the order of priesthood, for all men and women of religion, and especially for them that are busy to save and defend the Faith of Holy Church. Lord, for thy mercy, bless them and grant them the victory over all their enemies, and speed them in all that they go about in thy worship; for all that are in grace, at this time, God send them perseverance unto their lives’ end, and make me worthy to be partaker of their prayers, and them of mine, and each of us of others.

– The Book of Margery Kempe (modernised text 1936)

 

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TOWARDS THE PASTORS OF THE CHURCH, WE SHOW ALWAYS THAT LOYALTY AND OBEDIENCE WHICH SPRING FROM GENUINE CHARITY

TOWARDS THE PASTORS OF THE CHURCH, WE SHOW ALWAYS THAT LOYALTY AND OBEDIENCE WHICH SPRING FROM GENUINE CHARITY

MARY’S ARMY

Previous chapter: THE SUPERNATURAL SPIRIT WILL ALWAYS MANIFEST ITSELF AND ACT AS A PROTECTION

HOLINESS THROUGH MARY

Towards the pastors of the Church, one and all, the Child of Mary shows always that unreserved loyalty and exact obedience which spring from genuine charity. In his mission, as a member of Mary’s Army, he aspires to supplement the priestly ministry; as She delighted to be the Handmaid or slave of the Lord, he desires to the honour of being the slave of the ministers of the Lord. By an apostolate of Love, he makes every effort to render fertile all the ground into which the seed of God is cast, that it will bear fruit a hundred-fold; he strives to remove all the thorns and briars by applying his charity to worldly minds; he essays to deepen the soil by strengthening religious convictions and encouraging the weak and despairing; he aims at softening the hard ground by the dew of prayer and self-sacrifice. He becomes a link between the shepherd and the flock, rendering easier the work of the pastors. By exercising his love in its highest form, so to speak, he multiplies the priest; he casts abroad his zeal, personality, and every word, representing him everywhere and to everyone.

The Child of Mary is anxious to build up and strengthen every Society that is really worthy of the name Catholic.

The love of the Child of Mary for the Church shows itself also in his attitude towards other organisations. He desires the good of souls and to any agency for good, he is pledged to render unstinted co-operation and assistance. He is anxious to build up and strengthen every Society that is really worthy of the name Catholic. He knows that not all can be brought into the ranks of his active members; but love for souls compels him to induce all to enlist themselves in something Catholic that they will be caught firmly in the arms of Mother Church and pressed closely to Her life-giving bosom. He yearns to see the day when the apostolate of the laity is really a vital force, a glorious thing, the safeguard of the individual and the mainstay of the Church.

– Excerpts from “Holiness Through Mary” by Fr Francis Ripley, copied from a pamphlet by the Universal Rosary Association. For the Association’s details, please visit the link above (Part 1).

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2016 in Prayers to Our Lady

 

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FR JOHN ALMOND, CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR FOR THE FAITH

“It was while Speke Hall was still in Catholic hands that Rev. John Almond died for the Catholic Faith. He was born about the year 1577 at Speke, so one account says, or on the borders of Alperton, as he himself states in his examination. He went to school at Much Woolton, and passed thence to the English College at Rheims and then to that at Rome. Little is known of his life on the Mission, but the following account of him is given in Challoner’s Memoirs of Missionary Priests:

 

…came to suffer at Tyburn for the Catholic religion…

 

‘On Saturday, being 5th December, 1612, between 7 and 8 in the morning, came to suffer at Tyburn for the Catholic religion John Almond, a man of the age of 45, by his own relation; yet in his countenance more grave and staid, beginning to be besprinkled with hairs that were white – who having tarried beyond the seas about ten years to enable himself by his studies returned into his native country, where he exercised a holy life with all sincerity, and a singular good content to those that knew him, and worthily deserved both a good opinion of his learning and sanctity of life… full of courage and ready to suffer for Christ, that suffered for him.’

 

‘Ready to suffer for Christ, that suffered for him’

 

Mr. Almond, Challoner says, was apprehended on March 22, 1612, and brought before Mr. John King, lately advanced to the bishopric in London. At his examination he showed wonderful courage and most extraordinary acuteness, as the following will show. [A – Rev. John Almond; B – Anglican Bishop John King]

 

B. What is your name? A. My name is Francis. B. What else? A. Lathome. B. Is not your name Molyneux? A. No. B. I think I shall prove it to be so. A. You will have more to do than you ever had to do in your life. B. What countryman are you? A. A Lancashire man. B. In what place were you born? A. About Allerton. B. About Allerton! Mark the equivocation. Then not in Allerton? A. No equivocation. I was not born in Allerton, but in the edge or side of Allerton. B. You were born under a hedge then, were you? A. Many a better man than I, or you either, has been born under a hedge. B. What! you cannot remember that you were born in a house? A. Can you? B. My mother told me so. A. Then you remember not that you were born in a house, but only that your mother told you so; so much I remember, too. B. Were you ever beyond the seas? A. I have been in Ireland. B. How long since you came thence? A. I remember not how long since, neither is it material. B. Here is plain speaking, is it not? A. More plain than you would give, if you were examined yourself before some of ours in another place. A. I ask, are you a priest? A. I am not Christ; and unless I were Christ in your own grounds, I cannot be a priest. B. Are you a priest, yes or no? A. No man accuseth me. B. Then this is all the answer I shall have? A. All I can give unless proof come in. B. Where have you lived, and in what have you spent your time? A. Here is an orderly course of justice sure! What is it material where I have lived, or how I have spent my time, all the while I am accused of no evil?

 

He flung some three or four pounds in silver amongst the poor that crowded about the scaffold

 

He thus continued to parry the questions put to him through a long and tedious examination, after which he was committed to Newgate Prison, from whence after some months he was brought to trial, upon an indictment of high treason, for having taken orders beyond the sea by authority of the See of Rome, and for remaining in this country contrary to the laws. At his trial he showed the same vivacity of wit and resolution as he had done in his examination, but was brought in guilty by the jury, though he neither denied nor confessed his being a priest; and what proofs were brought of his being such do not appear.

 

At his execution he prayed earnestly for the king and all the royal family, and that his posterity might inherit the crown of England for ever. He flung some three or four pounds in silver amongst the poor that crowded about the scaffold, saying: ‘I have not much to bestow or give, for the keeper of Newgate hath been somewhat hard unto me and others that way, whom God forgive, for I do. For, I having been prisoner there since March, we have been ill-treated continually, for we were all put down into the hole or dungeon, or place called Little Ease, whence was removed since we came thither two or three cart-loads of filth or dirt; we were kept twenty-four hours without bread, meat or drink, loaded with irons, lodging on the damp ground, and so continued for ten days or thereabouts.’

 

‘Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my soul’

 

He gave the executioner a piece of gold, and desired him to give him a sign when the cart was to be drawn away, so that he might die with the name of Jesus in his mouth. He often repeated the words, ‘Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my soul,’ and at the sign being given, he cried, ‘Jesu, Jesu, Jesu,’ and than hanging for the space of three Paters [‘Our Father’, i.e. The Lord’s Prayer], some of the bystanders pulling him by the legs to dispatch his life, he was cut down and quartered, his soul flying quickly to Him who redeemed us all. So far the manuscript written by an eyewitness, says Bishop Challoner, who adds: ‘Mr. Almond suffered at Tyburn, December 5, 1612, in the forty-fifth year of his age, the eleventh of his Mission.”

– From: Old Catholic Lancashire, Dom F. O. Blundell, Burns Oates & Washbourne, Publishers to the Holy See, London 1925

 

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A DAILY PRAYER FOR PRIESTS AND MISSIONARIES

DAILY PRAYER FOR PRIESTS AND MISSIONARIES

My dear Jesus, by Your most loving Heart, I implore You to inflame with zeal for Your love and glory all the priests of the world, all missionaries, and those whose office it is to preach Your word. Inflamed with this zeal, may they snatch souls from the devil and lead them into the shelter of Your Heart, where they may glorify You for ever. Amen.

 

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“ANYONE WHO EATS THIS BREAD WILL LIVE FOREVER” (Jn 6:59)

• “The Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, together with His Soul and Divinity, under the appearances of bread and wine.

• The bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Christ by the power of God, to whom nothing is impossible or difficult.

• The bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Christ when the words of consecration, ordained by Jesus Christ, are pronounced by the priest in Holy Mass.

• Christ has given himself to be the life and the food of our souls. ‘Whoever eats me will draw life from me’; ‘Anyone who eats this bread will live forever’ (John 6:58, 59).

• Christ is received whole and entire under either kind alone.

• In order to receive the Blessed Sacrament worthily it is required that we be in a state of grace and keep the prescribed fast: water does not break the fast.

• The Blessed Eucharist is not a Sacrament only, it is also a sacrifice.

• The Holy Mass is one and the same sacrifice with that of the Cross, inasmuch as Christ, who offered himself, a bleeding victim, on the Cross to his heavenly Father, continues to offer himself in an unbloody manner on the altar, through the ministry of his priests.”
– Penny Catechism

 

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“THE CHURCH OF CHRIST, THE KINGDOM OF GOD ON EARTH, HAS BEEN HATED AND PERSECUTED ALWAYS”

“FOR MY NAME’S SAKE

‘If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before you. If you were of the world, the world would love what is its own. But because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you… If they have persecuted me, they will persecute you also; if they have kept my word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for my name’s sake, because they do not know him who sent me… Yes, the hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering worship to God. And these things they will do because they have not known the Father nor me. But these things I have spoken to you, that when the time for them has come you may remember that I told you.” (John 15:18-19, 20-21; 16:2-4).

GOD HAS CHOSEN TO RESPECT THE FREE WILLS OF MEN

One of the most convincing signs that free will – the free wills of God, men and the devils – is the basic significant factor in the course of human history is to be seen in the fact that the world has not accepted Jesus and His kingdom without opposition, without violence.

Since God is all powerful it is easy to imagine that He might, if He had so willed, have compelled all men to accept Him and to accept membership in His kingdom. Whether or not this is really possible, the fact is that He has not done so. By a sovereign decision of His own free will God has chosen to respect the free wills of men and of the demonic spirits who have rejected Him and hate men.

THE CONTINUATION OF JESUS HIMSELF IN HUMAN HISTORY

When God became man as Jesus of Nazareth, He subjected Himself to the free wills of men and the devils. He did not overwhelm the devils with His almighty power and prevent them completely from interfering in the affairs of men. Nor did He subjugate the free wills of men and compel them by force to enter His kingdom. Instead He allowed the devils to influence men as they would, and to men He appealed only with the weapons of truth, divine signs and His grace. He left it to the free wills of men to make the choice between sin and redemption, between hating Him and loving Him, between working with Him and working against Him.

IN HIS KINGDOM ON EARTH, AS IN HIMSELF, MEN COULD FIND REDEMPTION

His kingdom on earth, so He said, the continuation of Himself in human history, would be in the same position as He Himself had been. In it, as in Himself, men could find redemption. But they would be free to enter it, to leave it or to reject it; to work with it for the redemption of the world or to work against it to their own condemnation. And thus, through the ignorance, the weakness and the malice of men and devils the kingdom would, like Jesus Himself, be hated and persecuted.

IN ITS INFANCY THE CHURCH OF CHRIST, THE KINGDOM OF GOD ON EARTH, WAS PERSECUTED BY THE JEWS

The Church of Christ, the Kingdom of God on earth, has been hated and persecuted always. In its infancy it was persecuted by the Jews. The Sanhedrin arrested the Apostles, had them beaten and cast into prison for preaching the message of Jesus crucified and risen from the dead. In the year 42 A.D., Herod Agrippa instituted a systematic persecution of the Christians in his land. St James the Greater perished during this persecution and the other Apostles left Jerusalem.

THE PERSECUTION UNDER EMPEROR NERO

As the Christian Church grew throughout the Roman Empire it became subject to persecution by the government, both local and imperial. The first known persecution of the Christians by the imperial government took place during the reign of the Emperor Nero. Nero had ordered the burning of part of the city of Rome. To divert the anger of the populace from himself he blamed the atrocity on the Christians. In the year 64 there was a mass execution of some Christians, who were coated with pitch and burned like torches in the gardens on the Vatican Hill. In the year 67 St Peter was crucified, head downwards, and St Paul was beheaded.

WERE THERE ROMAN LAWS TO KILL CHRISTIANS?

Whether or not Nero passed a law against the profession and practice of Christianity is still a matter of dispute among historians. Tertullian (c. 160 – c. 230) , who became a Christian in the year 197, seems to say that Nero had done so. Later historians think that Christians may have been persecuted under already existing laws.

THE REIGN OF DOMITIAN

At any rate, persecution of Christians broke out again during the reign of Domitian (81-96). Flavius Clemens (a relative of Domitian) and his wife and niece suffered during this persecution. Flavius was put to death and his wife and niece were banished.

THERE IS EVIDENCE THAT CHRISTIANS WERE PERSECUTED SIMPLY BECAUSE THEY BELONGED TO THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

At the beginning of the third century during the reign of Trajan there is evidence that Christians were persecuted simply because they belonged to the Catholic Church. Pliny the Younger had been sent by the emperor to administer the province of Bithynia. There he found that so many of the people had become Christians that a large number of the old pagan temples were no longer functioning. The farmers and merchants who had previously provided animals, birds, grains and wine for the pagan sacrifices were angry at the loss of their business. They complained about it to Pliny. Christians were denounced.

‘I OREDERED THEM TO BE EXECUTED’

Pliny was not quite sure what to do about the situation. Writing to the Emperor Trajan for advice, he said, ‘I do not know what means and limits are to be observed in examining or punishing them… This is the way I have dealt with those who have been denounced to me as Christians: I asked them if they were Christians. If they admitted that they were, I asked them again a second and a third time, threatening them with capital punishment. If they still persevered, I ordered them to be executed. For I felt certain that whatever it was that they professed, their contumacy and inflexible obstinacy obviously demanded punishment.’

‘FOR NO OTHER REASON THAN THAT THEY WERE MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH’

Trajan in his reply set down some norms for handling the situation. The authorities were not to institute a search for Christians on their own initiative. But if anyone was denounced to the magistrates as a Christian, and he admitted it, he was to be punished, ‘but with this restriction: if anyone says that he is not a Christian, and shall actually prove it by adoring our gods, he shall be pardoned as being repentant, even though he may have been suspect in the past.’

This letter of Trajan makes it clear that Christians were persecuted for no other reason than that they were members of the Christian Church and, as such, refused to adore the gods of the state. It is clear also that a Christian might escape punishment simply by performing a ritual act of adoration to the pagan gods of Rome. The simplicity with which Christians might escape punishment makes it all the more remarkable that many remained faithful to their belief in Jesus and refused to sacrifice to the pagan gods. The fact that magistrates must punish Christians when they are denounced meant, too, that Christians were at the mercy of the whims or the hate of their non-Christian neighbours.

MARCUS AURELIUS REWARDED THOSE WHO DENOUNCED CHRISTIANS TO THE AUTHORITIES

That the people generally were opposed to Christians is shown by the fact that during the reign of Emperor Hadrian (117-138) a governor in Asia asked the emperor how he should deal with anti-Christian riots. Hadrian and Antonius Pius (138-161) forbade mob action against Christians but reaffirmed the position of Trajan. Marcus Aurelius (161-180), moved by the popular outcry that Christians were responsible for the calamities which afflicted his reign, persecuted Christians more actively and rewarded those who denounced them to the authorities.

EMPEROR SEPTIMIUS SEVERUS, IN TURN, FORBADE ANYONE TO BECOME A CHRISTIAN

In the year 202 A.D. the. Emperor Septimius Severus. Forbade anyone to become a Christian. Maximin the Thracian (235-238) published a general edict for the whole empire aimed against the leaders of the Christian people. His persecution was of short duration, but it established the dangerous precedent of general edicts against Christians.

‘CHRISTIANITY HAD TO BE DESTROYED’

This precedent was taken up vigorously by the Emperor Decius. Decius, in an attempt to reinvigorate within the empire the old Roman ideals and virtues, decided to strengthen the hold of the old Roman gods on the people. Christianity therefore had to be destroyed. By imperial edict it was decreed that on a certain day throughout the empire those suspected of being unwilling to worship the old gods were to appear before the magistrates and show their loyalty by sacrificing to the old gods. Certificates would be issued to all those who showed themselves to be good pagans. For those who refused the ultimate penalty was death.

POPE FABIAN AND BISHOP ALEXANDER WERE EXECUTED FOR REFUSING TO SACRIFICE TO THE PAGAN GODS

The simultaneous carrying out of this edict throughout the empire took the Christians by surprise. Many of them fell victim to panic and performed the pagan ritual act prescribed and were given certificates which saved them from imprisonment and death. But many, even in these trying circumstances, remained faithful to Jesus and refused to sacrifice to the pagan gods. Some of these such as Pope Fabian and Bishop Alexander at Jerusalem were executed. Other less important figures were thrown into prison and tortured in the attempt to make them give up their membership in the Church.

IN 257 IT WAS DECREED THAT ALL THE CHURCH’S PRIESTS AND BISHOPS WERE TO BE SUMMONED TO FORCE THEM TO LEAVE THE CHURCH AND WORSHIP THE ANCIENT ROMAN GODS INSTEAD OF JESUS CHRIST

Under the Emperor Valerian another general persecution was undertaken by the imperial government. In 257 it was decreed that all the bishops and priests of the Church were to be summoned and made to sacrifice to the pagan gods. The faithful were not to take part in any of the liturgical reunions of the Church. The priests who refused were to be exiled. Cemeteries belonging to Christians and other places of worship were seized by the state. In 258 Valerian decreed that priests who refused to sacrifice to the gods were to be executed. Members of the aristocracy who refused to renounce their membership in the Church were to be exiled and their estates confiscated. When Valerian was taken captive by the Persians, the persecution died down.”

‘MOST HORRIBLE TORTURES IN THE ATTEMPT TO DESTROY THE CHURCH’

It was renewed during the reign of Diocletian in the year 303. Urged on by Galerius, whom he had associated with himself in the government of the empire, Diocletian took measures to stamp out the Christian religion. In his first edict of February 24, 303, Diocletian ordered that Christians were not to assemble for worship, Christian Churches were to be closed, the sacred writings of the Church were to be destroyed. Nobles who refused to renounce Christianity were to lose their rank, free men who refused were to be enslaved, and slaves were to remain forever slaves. A little later Diocletian decreed that those who refused to give up their profession of Christianity were to be put to death. This was the most severe of all the Roman persecutions of the Church. Christians were arrested wholesale throughout the empire and submitted to the most terrible tortures in the attempt to destroy the Church.

IN FACT THE CHURCH HAS ENCOUNTERED THIS HATRED IN EVERY AGE

In the Eastern empire the persecutions lasted until 311. In the Western empire it ceased when Constantine the Great became emperor in 306. In 313 the edict of Milan made Christianity one of the recognised religions of the empire, and the persecution of the Church within the empire ceased.

We have no certain knowledge of the number of Christians who were arrested, imprisoned, tortured, deprived of rank or property, or executed during these persecutions. It is quite probable, however, that the number of those afflicted during the troubled times of the third and fourth centuries far exceeded the number of those who suffered in the first two centuries. In the persecutions under Decius, Valerian and Diocletian it is probable that many thousands suffered. What is more important than the number of those who actually suffered for their faith is the fact that all during the first three centuries of its existence the members of the Kingdom of God on earth had to live constantly in fear of having to suffer for their adherence to Jesus Christ. As Jesus had suffered for them, so they had to be ready to suffer for Him.

Though the Church gained the right to a peaceful existence within the empire by the edict of Milan [under Emperor Constantine], this did not mean that the world which hated Christ ceased to hate His Church. In fact the Church has encountered this hatred in every age.

During the Roman persecutions many Christians had fled from the empire to Persia. There, because of the hostility of the Persians to the empire, they had been welcomed. But when peace was established between the Church and the empire, the attitude of the Persians changed. From 410 on, the Persians began to persecute the Church.

From the end of the seventh century and on, the Moslems, followers of Mohammed, made it difficult for Christians to practise their faith in all the lands which they conquered, chiefly the lands on the southern side of the Mediterranean basin.

We must remember also that many of the missionaries who carried the Gospel to the pagan lands and many of their first converts had to suffer at the hands of their non-Christian countrymen.

Violent opposition to the Kingdom of God, such as was manifested by imperial Rome, has occurred every so often during the centuries from Jesus to the present time. Sometimes it was due to a hatred of Jesus and His followers. For this reason the Persians harassed Christians in the fifth and sixth centuries. In the seventh century twenty thousand Christians were put to death by Dhu Nuwas in Yemen. In the ninth century the Muslims attacked Christians in Egypt. In the twelfth century the Albigensians in Languedoc attacked the Catholics there. In the twentieth century communist foes in Russia, Mexico, Spain, China, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Jugoslavia, Bulgaria and Romania have imprisoned or killed bishops and priests and laymen.

BISHOPS, PRIESTS AND LAYMEN IMPRISONED OR KILLED

At other times the Kingdom of God has been subject to persecution even by those who profess to follow Jesus and be members of His kingdom. Thus in the eighth century the emperors at Constantinople, rejecting the use of images in public worship, deposed, arrested and in some cases put to death bishops and priests who refused to accept the imperial iconoclasm. In the sixteenth century, when the so-called Protestant Reform of the Church took place, Catholics, members of the true Kingdom of God, were subjected to harassment in the kingdoms or principalities where Protestantism triumphed. The true faith was outlawed, priests were expelled or killed for administering the sacraments of the Church. Active opposition to the true Church on the part of Protestant states has continued down to the present, though with lessening severity.

Frequently, too (one is tempted to say, almost constantly), relations between earthly governments and the Church of God have been strained, so severely strained as to prevent the Church from acting freely in its mission to save mankind. Thus, in the fourth century some of the emperors favoured the Arian heresy against the true faith. In the eighth, as we have already mentioned, the emperors sought to promote iconoclasm. From the Middle Ages down to recent times many Christian rulers attempted to gain control of the Church by claiming for themselves the right to nominate bishops in the Church. Popes Gregory VII, Innocent III and Boniface VIII had to struggle to prevent the sovereigns of Europe from seizing control of the Church. The energy displayed by the Papacy in repulsing these attempts led to opposition to the Papacy. This, in part, accounts for the eagerness with which the Germanic princes of northern Europe gave up their allegiance to the Catholic Church in the sixteenth century. By joining the Protestant revolt they were enabled to gain control of religion in their own territories. Opposition to the Papacy also accounts in part for the rise of Gallicanism in France and Josephism in Austria and the Netherlands.

DENYING THE EXISTENCE OF GOD ALTOGETHER

Opposition to the Church has been found also in the world of thought and intellect. In the time of imperial Rome the pagan philosopher Celsus wrote against the Church. In modern times the philosophers of subjectivism, idealism, positivism, materialism, and their intellectual children, the socialists and the communists, have attacked the Church. By denying the existence of God or the spirituality and immortality of the human soul, they have attempted to destroy those fundamental beliefs of mankind which provide a rational basis for religion.

‘GROWING PAINS’

It should be mentioned also that the Kingdom of God in its growing life in the world has experienced a constant succession of growing pains in the form of heresies, deviations from the true content of the divine revelation which Jesus gave to mankind. From the beginning until now the minds of some men, confronted with the profound mysteries which God has revealed, have gone astray. Refusing to listen to the voice of God’s appointed heralds, the Apostles and their successors (the Pope and Bishops of the Church), they have invented doctrines of their own and presented them to the world as God’s message to men.

In this world, then, the Kingdom of God is as Jesus had said it would be, a kingdom persecuted by men, its members hailed before kings and princes and put to death for their faith in Christ, sometimes even put to death in His Name.”
– Martin J. Healy S.T.D., 1959 (Headings in capital letters added afterwards)

 

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