St. Margaret with Scenes from Her Life.
XIII c. Italy, Bari
Founder of the Order of Minims; b. in 1416, at Paula, in Calabria, Italy; d. 2 April, 1507, at Plessis, France. His parents were remarkable for the holiness of their lives. Remaining childless for some years after their marriage they had recourse to prayer, especially commending themselves to the intercession of St. Francis of Assisi. Three children were eventually born to them, eldest of whom was Francis. When still in the cradle he suffered from a swelling which endangered the sight of one of his eyes. His parents again had recourse to Francis of Assisi, and made a vow that their son should pass an entire year in the "little habit" of St Francis in one of the convents of his order, a not uncommon practice in the Middle Ages. The child was immediately cured. From his early years Francis showed signs of extraordinary sanctity, and at the age of thirteen, being admonished by a vision of a Franciscan friar, he entered a convent of the Franciscan Order in order to fullfil the vow made by his parents. Here he gave great edification by his love of prayer and mortification, his profound humility, and his prompt obedience. At the completion of the year he went with his parents on a pilgrimage to Assisi, Rome, and other places of devotion. Returning to Paula he selected a retired spot on his father's estate, and there lived in solitude; but later on he found a more retired dwelling in a cave on the sea coast. Here he remained alone for about six years giving himself to prayer and mortification.
In 1435 two companions joined him in his retreat, and to accommodate them Francis caused three cells and a chapel to be built: in this way the new order was begun. The number of his disciples gradually increased, and about 1454, with the permission of Pyrrhus, Archbishop of Cosenza, Francis built a large monastery and church. The building of this monastery was the occasion of a great outburst of enthusiasm and devotion on the part of the people towards Francis: even the nobles carried stones and joined in the work. Their devotion was increased by the many miracles which the saint wrought in answer to their prayers. The rule of life adopted by Francis and his religious was one of extraordinary severity. They observed perpetual abstinence and lived in great poverty, but the distinguishing mark of the order was humility. They were to seek to live unknown and hidden from the world. To express this character which he would have his disciples cultivate, Francis eventually obtained from the Holy See that they should be styled Minims, the least of all religious. In 1474 Sixtus IV gave him permission to write a rule for his community, and to assume the title of Hermits of St. Francis: this rule was formally approved by Alexander VI, who, however, changed their title into that of Minims. After the approbation of the order, Francis founded several new monasteries in Calabria and Sicily. He also established convents of nuns, and a third order for people living in the world, after the example of St. Francis of Assisi.
He had an extraordinary gift of prophecy: thus he foretold the capture of Otranto by the Turks in 1480, and its subsequent recovery by the King of Naples. Also he was gifted with discernment of consciences. He was no respecter of persons of whatever rank or position. He rebuked the King of Naples for his ill-doing and in consequence suffered much persecution. When Louis XI was in his last illness he sent an embassy to Calabria to beg the saint to visit him. Francis refused to come nor could he be prevailed upon until the pope ordered him to go. He then went to the king at Plessis-les-Tours and was with him at his death. Charles VIII, Louis's successor, much admired the saint and during his reign kept him near the court and frequently consulted him. This king built a monastery for Minims at Plessis and another at Rome on the Pincian Hill. The regard in which Charles VIII held the saint was shared by Louis XII, who succeeded to the throne in 1498. Francis was now anxious to return to Italy, but the king would not permit him, not wishing to lose his counsels and direction. The last three mouths of his life he spent in entire solitude, preparing for death. On Maundy Thursday he gathered his community around him and exhorted them especially to have mutual charity amongst themselves and to maintain the rigour of their life and in particular perpetual abstinence. The next day, Good Friday, he again called them together and gave them his last instructions and appointed a vicar-general. He then received the last sacraments and asked to have the Passion according to St. John read out to him, and whilst this was being read, his soul passed away. Leo X canonized him in 1519. In 1562 the Huguenots broke open his tomb and found his body incorrupt. They dragged it forth and burnt it, but some of the bones were preserved by the Catholics and enshrined in various churches of his order. The Order of Minims does not seem at any time to have been very extensive, but they had houses in many countries. The definitive rule was approved in 1506 by Julius II, who also approved a rule for the nuns of the order. The feast of St. Francis of Paula is kept by the universal Church on 2 April, the day on which he died.
Over at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, EPPC senior fellow George Weigel examines the dismay of Orthodox monks on Mount Athos in northern Greece at recent overtures toward conversation by Pope Benedict XVI to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. The issue for the monk, Weigel notes, was not any papal statement or initiative but the Ecumenical Patriarch's reception of them as though the Pope actually were "the canonical Bishop of Rome." In this, Weigel sees an illustration of Orthodox/Catholic tensions that are not as easily overcome as it might seem to some Catholics, and certainly to some of us who are on watching from the outside of both groups.
I very much doubt that there are more than a handful of Catholics around the world whose confession of Catholic faith includes, as a key component, "I am not in communion with the Patriarch of Constantinople."
The truth of the matter is that, outside historically Orthodox countries and certain ethnic communities, the thought of how one stands vis-à-vis the Patriarch of Constantinople simply doesn't enter Catholic heads. Perhaps that's a problem, but it's nowhere near as great an obstacle to ecumenical progress as the conviction in some Orthodox quarters that non-communion with Rome is a defining characteristic of what it means to be "Orthodox."
1054, it now seems clear, was not a date-in-a-vacuum. Rather, the mutual excommunications of 1054 were the cash-out, so to speak, of a drifting-apart that had been going on for centuries, driven by language and politics, to be sure, but also by different theological sensibilities. Are those two sensibilities necessarily Church-dividing? The Catholic answer is, "No." But that is emphatically not the answer of Mount Athos, and of those Orthodox for whom the Athonite monks are essentially right, if a bit over-the-top.
All of which suggests that John Paul II's dream of a Church breathing once again with both of its lungs is unlikely of fulfillment anytime soon. Unless, that is, Islamist pressures compel are examination within Orthodoxy of what a life-line to Rome might mean.
At The First Council of Nicea: The first council of Nicea (Nicaea) came to an end on August 25, 325 A.D. Lasting two months (perhaps having begun on May 20), and held in Bithynia, the First Council of Nicea was attended by 318 Church Fathers.
Opposing Images of God: Trinitarian Church fathers, Bishop Alexander of Alexandria and his deacon Athanasius, believed there were three persons in one god. The Trinitarians were pitted against the Monarchianists, who believed in only one indivisible god. These included Arius, Presbyter in Alexandria, and Eusebius, Bishop of Nicomedia.
Homo Ousion (same substance) vs. Homoi Ousion (like substance): The sticking point at the Nicene Council was a concept found nowhere in the Bible: homoousion. According to the concept of homo-ousion, Christ the Son was con-substantial (sharing the same substance) with the Father. Arius and Eusebius disagreed. Arius thought the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were materially separate from each other, and that the Father created the Son.
Arius and his followers, the Arians, believed if the Son were equal to the Father, there would be more than one God. The opposing Trinitarians believed it diminished the importance of the Son to make him subordinate to the Father.
Wavering Decision of Constantine: The Trinitarian bishops prevailed. Emperor Constantine was not himself a Christian. Despite this, he had recently made Christianity free religion of the Roman Empire. This made heresy akin to revolt, so Constantine exiled the excommunicated Arius to Illyria.
Constantine's sister and Eusebius worked on the emperor to obtain reinstatement for Arius, and they would have succeeded, if Arius hadn't suddenly died - by poisoning, probably, or, as some prefer to believe, by divine intervention.
Arianism regained momentum and survived until the reigns of Gratian and Theodosius, at which time, St. Ambrose set to work stamping it out.
St. Athanasius - Four Discourses Against the Arians: 'The essences of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, are separate in nature, and estranged, and disconnected, and alien.'
Thanks to naqerj to share the video, I post it to show you the traditional Catholic Mass, before the Pius XII's reform, and before the VCII. There is something that in the next future we'll find again with the Catholic liturgy. I'll explain it, after an analysis of the recents Vatican Liturgical Orders, meanwhile enjoy the solemnity of the Easter Ritual.
It needs several minutes to watch it entirely (lenght 54:00), but during the download you'll be able to enjoy it.
If you see your username in the "Also Friend of" list on this site, this is because my management of the friends is on goldhands, the main site, where I check daily the friends' posts. I'm unable to manage two friends lists at the same time, so I decided to view only the goldhands' friends list, and there will be your partecipation to catheolog, too. You will be welcome to add the goldhands journal to your friends list, so you will be Friend of both the journals, but mentioned only on the main site. Thank you.
August 6, 258 is the date on which Pope Sixtus II is said to have been beheaded by soldiers sent to the cemetery of Prætextatus, on the Appian Way, Rome, to apprehend Sixtus and his four deacons (one of them, St. Laurence). His execution was part of the persecution of Christians under Emperor Valerian. Valerian had issued an edict against Christians assembling in cemeteries, that also ordered them to participate in the cults of the Roman gods, and then he had issued another edict ordering the execution of Christian priests. The execution of Sixtus II is described in a letter of Cyprian, who was shortly therafter also executed.
Pope Sixtus II had helped reconcile the churches of Rome with those of North Africa and Asia Minor over the issue of re-baptizing of heretics.
(Sixtus II is ordering the deacon Laurence)
Nearly all Christian, of whatever church, acknowledge the authority and truth of the teachings of the first four "great councils" (also called "ecumenical" or worldwide councils) of early Christianity. This is because these Councils clarified (and, for some, defined) what the Christian scriptures taught and what the early church believed about God, Jesus and Mary. Some of the great leaders of early Christianity affirmed the importance of these councils, such as St. Augustine (354-430) who compared the authority of the ecumenical councils with that of the apostles, and St. Gregory the Great (540-604) who said: "I confess that I accept and reverence the four Councils as I do the four Gospels… for they are founded on universal consent."
What did these councils teach? The Council of Nicaea in 325 AD responded to the claim of a priest of Alexandria, Arius, that the Word or Son of God (who "became flesh and dwelt among us" as Jesus – Jn 1:14) was not God and hence was not eternal; he did not always exist. Arius argued on the basis of some Gospel passages that Jesus never claimed that he was God, as when he says in the Gospel of John (14:28) that "the Father is greater than I."
The bishops at Nicaea considered all the pertinent texts of the Gospels (such as Jn 10:30: "I and the Father are one") and concluded that Arius was wrong. The Son or Word of God is God (see Jn 1:1) and always existed. To clarify this they proclaimed a creed (the "Nicene creed") which included a key Greek word, homoousios, which meant that the Word or Son is of the same "being" as God the Father. If the Father is God, so is the Son. If the Father is eternal, almighty (and so on), so is the Son or Word of God.
Tragically, a few bishops after the Council of Nicaea questioned the decision of the Council (saying, for instance, that homoousios is an unscriptural word), and convinced the Roman emperor and his sons that Arius and his beliefs had been wrongly condemned. It took over fifty more years of controversy before the First Council of Constantinople (381 AD) reaffirmed the teaching and the creed of Nicaea. This ecumenical council also added a phrase to the Nicene Creed to affirm the divinity or Godhead of the Holy Spirit, the "Lord and Giver of Life" who with the Father and the Son "is worshiped and glorified". Thus by the end of the fourth century the Christian belief in God as a Trinity of three equal divine persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, was formally recognized by Christians.
In the fifth century there were two more ecumencal councils that addressed questions about Jesus. In the early 5th century a prominent bishop, Nestorius, rejected the title "theotokos" or "God-bearer" to refer to Mary. Christians believed that the mother of /Jesus could rightly be called the "Mother of God" or "God-bearer" because the Gospel clearly teaches that Jesus was conceived in Mary, not by any human being, but by the Holy Spirit. This was what the angel Gabriel announced to Mary one day in Nazareth (the "Annunciation") and Mary consented (see Lk 1:26-38). Nestorius thought that to call Mary "Mother of God" would confuse people into thinking that the eternal God came into being through a human. The Council of Ephesus met in 431AD to consider Nestorius’ opinion. The Council decided that it was right and good to honor Mary as "Mother of God" because she is the mother of God in his human nature. The Council clarified that Mary "contributed" to Jesus his true and full humanity, while God the Holy Spirit "overshadowed" Mary so that the child born to her was truly God, the Son or Word of God (Lk 1:30-35).
This belief that Jesus is both human and divine, man and God, led to much debate and speculation after the Council of Ephesus about how this mystery could be expressed. A monk, Eutyches, living in Constantinople claimed that before Jesus took flesh in Mary there were two "natures" (a divine and human nature), but after the union of the two natures in Mary’s womb there was only one nature in Jesus – the divine nature. In a sense Eutyches proposed that the nature of God is so great that it overshadows and "swallows up" the humanity of Jesus. For Eutyches, Jesus took on human appearance, but the only full and true nature remaining in Jesus after taking on "flesh" (the outward human appearance) is the nature of God. To put it simply, Eutyches’ claim is that Jesus was truly God, but not truly or fully human.
The bishop of Constantinople, Flavian, objected to this. He wrote a letter to the bishop of Rome, Pope Leo I, to get this opinion, as well. Unfortunately, due to Church politics a council was called with the emperor Theodosius II’s consent in 449 AD that proclaimed Eutyches’ position (called "Monophysitism") correct, and deposed Bishop Flavian. The letter of Pope Leo in response to Flavian was ignored by this council. But things changed quickly. Theodosius II died suddenly (he fell off his horse) and his sister, Pulcheria, prevailed upon her husband, the new emperor Marcian, to call another council to reconsider the issue. The Council of Chalcedon was called in 451 AD. This time Pope Leo’s letter was read and all positions were fairly considered. The result was the formulation of a creed of the Council of Chalcedon that declared that Jesus Christ is one person who exists "in two natures" – a divine nature and a human nature - which are neither confused ("blended together" into a third nature) nor divided or separated (so Jesus is not "schizophrenic" – sometimes acting like God, sometimes like a man). Jesus is one person who is truly and fully God and truly and fully human. How this can occur is beyond our comprehension. It is truly what Christians mean by the term "mystery": not something unreasonable; just something beyond human capacity to understand fully. Hence it must be accepted not by reason alone, but also by faith.
The first four ecumenical Councils defined the meaning of the basic Christian beliefs about God and Jesus Christ that were proclaimed by the Church in her teaching, tradition (beliefs "handed down"), and sacred writings. They are necessary even today to know what most Christians believe about these central issues.
THE FIRST FOUR ECUMENUCAL COUNCILS
The first four ecumenical (general) councils of the Church have a special place in the Christian tradition.
LOCATION & SUMMONED BY
Nicaea (in modern Turkey);
Emperor Constantine I (the Great)
Traditionally 318 bishops but probably closer to 220-250;
the elderly Pope Sylvester was represented by several priests.
Is the Son who became flesh in Jesus Christ divine in the same sense as the Father? This was denied by the priest Arius of Alexandria and his followers.
How to set the date of Easter and some issues relating to Church discipline.
The bishops formulated a creed affirming the belief that the Son is God in the same sense as the Father. All but two bishops approved the creed. However, after the Council, supporters of Arius with influence at the imperial court engineered his rehabilitation which guaranteed the continued dissemination of his teaching.
Constantinople (modern Istanbul);
Emperors Theodosius I and Gratian
About 150 bishops, all from the East (but the Council was later accepted in the West)
Pope Damasus was unrepresented.
Continuing heresies of the Arians and semi-Arians, including the denial of the full divinity of the Holy Spirit.
Precedence of the Patriarch of Constantinople over all other Patriarchs except the Bishop of Rome.
The rejection of all Arian opinions and the affirmation of the divinity of the Holy Spirit as reflected in the creed now known as the Niceno-Constaninoplitan Creed which is the one used in the liturgy to this day.
Ephesus (in modern Turkey);
Emperor Theodosius II
About 150 bishops;
Pope Celestine I was represented by 3 legates.
Relation of Christ’s divine and human natures provoked by a debate whether Mary should be called Mother of God (Theotokos) or only Mother of Christ (Christokos).
The affirmation that the one person of the Son of God exists in two natures, as God and as man. This is called the hypostatic/personal union - the union of the two natures in the one hypastasis/person of the Son.
The Council confirmed that the title "Theotokos" is appropriate for the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Chalcedon (in modern Turkey);
Emperor Marcian (who, with his wife, the Empress Pulcheria, presided at the crucial sixth session)
Possibly as many as 600 bishops but probably closer to 350;
Pope Leo the Great was represented by two bishops and a priest
Christ’s divine and human natures, in particular over against those who claimed that his divine nature absorbed his human nature.
Matters of church discipline relating to clergy and the jurisdiction of bishops, etc.
The creedal formulation which declares in part, "we all unanimously teach that … our Lord Jesus Christ is one and the same Son, the same perfect in Godhead and the same perfect in manhood, truly God and truly man…. made known in two natures without confusion, without change, without division, without separation, the difference of the natures being by no means removed because of the union…"