Anna: As a teenager and a youth I happily dressed according to the latest fashions of the time – mini skirts, short shorts etc. When my mum used to object, I would tell her, “Everybody is doing it so why can’t I?” Sometimes she suggested that I should dress modestly in Church but outside I could wear the latest fashions. My mind would twist this and say “God is everywhere, so if he sees me on the road with a mini skirt and it is OK then what’s so different when God sees me with the same thing in Church.” Times have changed (and so have I) but I am sure most women nowadays still think this way.  Till recently, my own daughter used to back-answer me like that!
But God writes straight on crooked lines and so today, being a little more enlightened, I can speak to my daughter and other women with conviction:
  • The sixth Beatitude says, “Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see the face of God” (Matt 5:1-12). If we really want to see God face to face we need to be pure. CCC 2519 states “Purity of heart is a precondition to see God.” And CCC 2521 says that “Purity requires modesty.”
  • So what is Modesty? Modesty is protecting the intimate centre of a person. It means refusing to uncover the parts of the body that should remain covered. It also includes how we look at and behave toward each other. By dressing modestly, a woman sends a message to the world—that every person was created to love and be loved in the purest of ways. Modesty also shows the great reverence we should have for our bodies and our immortal souls—two sacred gifts that should always be treated with dignity and respect.
  • St. Paul in 1 Cor 6: 19 tells us that the Body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. We are not to look at each other as objects for our own pleasure.
  • Modesty is not only covering up ourselves but also staying away from any entertainment, life-style, environment that is impure. In other words we have to fill our minds, hearts, eyes and ears with things that will help us to grow in holiness. We need to control our tongues from cracking “non-veg” jokes at parties and walk away if someone is relating one.
Some suggestions for modest clothing for women and men, are :
  1. Wear clothes with sleeves as far as possible – try to avoid sleeveless shirts / dresses including tank tops.
  2. Wear clothes that fit well and avoid tight fitting clothes (like tights, slacks, jeans, sweaters and shorts) and form fitting clothes that reveal rather than conceal the figure of the wearer or emphasizes certain parts of the body.
  3. Use linings for transparent clothes and transparent lace as well.
  4. Wear shorts, skirts and dresses that reach at least 2 inches below the knees.
  5. Use pleats on dresses and skirts instead of slits at the back or the front.
  6. Avoid low and wide necklines.
These suggestions are to help instill a true sense of respect and modesty. The world says, “If you got it, flaunt it.” God tells us that what He has given us we are to give back in truth, holiness and purity. Don’t fall for the lies of the media and society. True, pure and unending beauty does lie in the heart, a heart that loves God totally.
Vally:  My dear sisters, we men need your help to live chastely. You, being women, have no idea, NO IDEA, what happens to men when you wear “sexy” clothes. Men are primarily affected by visual stimulus. In fact, it doesn’t take much visual stimulus at all, for the average man, to become sexually aroused. The sight of a female body, or parts of her body, even just a little bit and even if she is a complete stranger, can trigger sexual thoughts instantly. Women do not react to visual stimuli in the same intense way as men. For them, tender, loving words, sincere appreciation are much more meaningful.
Because of these differences, we need to discipline ourselves, to guard our eyes and keep a check on harbouring sexual thoughts, because once these thoughts begin, they can and frequently do turn to impure thoughts like: “I wonder what she looks like without…” or “How would it be to make love to her…” This is lust – the desire to use another for my own pleasure. Sure, we men must take responsibility for our own thoughts, but don’t you think that what women wear and how women present themselves to men also plays a role in directing our thoughts? When a man is habituated to seeing women in “sexy” clothes it can encourage him to develop a warped vision of all women and cause him to treat all women as sex objects, even though some of them may be modestly dressed.
So, women can help men to guard their hearts by dressing modestly. And how can men change their hearts from lust to love?
  1. By consciously guarding our eyes if they chance to fall upon a “sexily” dressed woman.
  2. By pushing away all lustful thoughts should they come up.
  3. By blessing God, the author of Beauty for creating that beautiful or attractive woman and for making you a man capable of being attracted by all that is good.
  4. By saying a short prayer for that woman that she may not lead others into sin and asking God to forgive her.
  5. By frequenting the sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist to help you become a real man like Christ.
Prayer (for men): Jesus, the Eternal Bridegroom, teach me how to be a real man – to treat all women, including my wife, as my sisters (we don’t lust after our sisters and so neither should we lust after our wives) . You laid down your life for us, your Bride. May I be ready to be crucified rather than use my sisters to satisfy my own selfish desires. May I strive to be “pure of heart” so that I may “see God” in my sisters, here on earth, (even if they are immodest) so that in the “resurrection of our bodies” I may see you , my God, face to face. Amen.
–Valentine and Anna Coelho “BE-ATTITUDES”- 2414628 / 9326128259
(Based on an article by RADIX, printed with permission in CCL Family Foundations Jan – Feb 1998, “Sexy Fashions” by Michael Murphy from Pro-life America and Christopher West’s talk Naked with out Shame.)

Valentine (Vally) & Anna Coelho
Visit our blog: http://tob-attitudes.blogspot.com/

Feast of Corpus Christi

Feast of the Body of Christ

This feast is celebrated in the Latin Church on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday to solemnly commemorate the institution of the Holy Eucharist.

Of Maundy Thursday, which commemorates this great event, mention is made as Natalis Calicis (Birth of the Chalice) in the Calendar of Polemius (448) for the 24th of March, the 25th of March being in some places considered as the day of the death of Christ. This day, however, was in Holy Week, a season of sadness, during which the minds of the faithful are expected to be occupied with thoughts of the Lord’s Passion. Moreover, so many other functions took place on this day that the principal event was almost lost sight of. This is mentioned as the chief reason for the introduction of the new feast, in the Bull “Transiturus.”

The instrument in the hand of Divine Providence was St. Juliana of Mont Cornillon, in Belgium. She was born in 1193 at Retines near Liège. Orphaned at an early age, she was educated by the Augustinian nuns of Mont Cornillon. Here she in time made her religious profession and later became superioress. Intrigues of various kinds several times drove her from her convent. She died 5 April, 1258, at the House of the Cistercian nuns at Fosses, and was buried at Villiers.

Juliana, from her early youth, had a great veneration for the Blessed Sacrament, and always longed for a special feast in its honour. This desire is said to have been increased by a vision of the Church under the appearance of the full moon having one dark spot, which signified the absence of such a solemnity. She made known her ideas to Robert de Thorete, then Bishop of Liège, to the learned Dominican Hugh, later cardinal legate in the Netherlands, and to Jacques Pantaléon, at that time Archdeacon of Liège, afterwards Bishop of Verdun, Patriarch of Jerusalem, and finally Pope Urban IV. Bishop Robert was favourably impressed, and, since bishops as yet had the right of ordering feasts for their dioceses, he called a synod in 1246 and ordered the celebration to be held in the following year, also, that a monk named John should write the Office for the occasion. The decree is preserved in Binterim (Denkwürdigkeiten, V, 1, 276), together with parts of the Office.

Bishop Robert did not live to see the execution of his order, for he died 16 October, 1246; but the feast was celebrated for the first time by the canons of St. Martin at Liège. Jacques Pantaléon became pope 29 August, 1261. The recluse Eve, with whom Juliana had spent some time, and who was also a fervent adorer of the Holy Eucharist, now urged Henry of Guelders, Bishop of Liège, to request the pope to extend the celebration to the entire world. Urban IV, always an admirer of the feast, published the Bull “Transiturus” (8 September, 1264), in which, after having extolled the love of Our Saviour as expressed in the Holy Eucharist, he ordered the annual celebration of Corpus Christi in the Thursday next after Trinity Sunday, at the same time granting many indulgences to the faithful for the attendance at Mass and at the Office. This Office, composed at the request of the pope by the Angelic Doctor St. Thomas Aquinas, is one of the most beautiful in the Roman Breviary and has been admired even by Protestants.

The death of Pope Urban IV (2 October, 1264), shortly after the publication of the decree, somewhat impeded the spread of the festival. Clement V again took the matter in hand and, at the General Council of Vienne (1311), once more ordered the adoption of the feast. He published a new decree which embodied that of Urban IV. John XXII, successor of Clement V, urged its observance.

Neither decree speaks of the theophoric procession as a feature of the celebration. This procession, already held in some places, was endowed with indulgences by Popes Martin V and Eugene IV.

The feast had been accepted in 1306 at Cologne; Worms adopted it in 1315; Strasburg in 1316. In England it was introduced from Belgium between 1320 and 1325. In the United States and some other countries the solemnity is held on the Sunday after Trinity.

In the Greek Church the feast of Corpus Christi is known in the calendars of the Syrians, Armenians, Copts, Melchites, and the Ruthenians of Galicia, Calabria, and Sicily.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Corpus Christi procession. Oil on canvas by Carl Emil Doepler.

Corpus Domini redirects here. For other uses see Corpus Domini (disambiguation)

The Feast of Corpus Christi (Latin for Body of Christ), also known as Corpus Domini, is a Latin Rite liturgical solemnity celebrating the tradition and belief in the body and blood of Jesus Christ and his Real Presence in the Eucharist. It emphasizes the joy of the institution of the Eucharist, which was observed on Holy Thursday in the somber atmosphere of the nearness of Good Friday.

In the present Roman Missal, the feast is designated the solemnity of The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.[1] It is also celebrated in some Anglican, Lutheran, and Old Catholic Churches that hold similar beliefs regarding the Real Presence.

The feast is liturgically celebrated on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday or, “where the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ is not a Holy Day of Obligation, it is assigned to the Sunday after the Most Holy Trinity as its proper day”.[1] At the end of Holy Mass, there is often a procession of the Blessed Sacrament, generally displayed in a monstrance. The procession is followed by Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

A notable Eucharistic procession is that presided over by the Pope each year in Rome, where it begins at the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran and makes its way to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, where it concludes with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.



Corpus Christi procession in Łowicz, Poland, 2007

Corpus Christi procession in Vaduz, Liechtenstein, 2007

The institution of Corpus Christi as a feast in the Christian calendar resulted from approximately forty years of work on the part of Juliana of Liège, a 13th-century religious woman from an unrecognized religious order. Orphaned and placed in a convent at an early age, Juliana developed a special veneration for the Blessed Sacrament, and always longed for a feast day outside of Lent in its honour. Her vita reports that this desire was enhanced by a vision of the Church under the appearance of the full moon having one dark spot, which signified the absence of such a solemnity.[2][3] In 1208, she reported her first vision of Christ in which she was instructed to plead for the institution of the feast of Corpus Christi. The vision was repeated for the next 20 years but she kept it a secret. When she eventually relayed it to her confessor, he relayed it to the bishop.[4]

Juliana also petitioned the learned Dominican Hugh of St-Cher, Jacques Pantaléon (Archdeacon of Liège who later became Pope Urban IV) and Robert de Thorete, Bishop of Liège. At that time bishops could order feasts in their dioceses, so in 1246 Bishop Robert convened a synod and ordered a celebration of Corpus Christi to be held each year thereafter.[5]

The celebration of Corpus Christi became widespread only after both St. Juliana and Bishop Robert de Thorete had died. In 1264 Pope Urban IV issued the papal bull Transiturus de hoc mundo in which Corpus Christi was made a feast throughout the entire Latin Rite.[6] The legend that this act was inspired by a procession to Orvieto after a village priest in Bolsena and his congregation witnessed a Eucharistic miracle of a bleeding consecrated host at Bolsena has been called into question by scholars who note problems in the dating of the alleged miracle, whose tradition begins in the 14th century, and the interests of Urban IV, which was initiated while he served as Archdeacon in Liege in the 1240s. This was the first papally imposed universal feast for the Latin Rite.[7]

While the institution of the Eucharist is celebrated on Holy (Maundy) Thursday, the liturgy on that day also commemorates Christ’s New Commandment (“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you.” John 13:34

), the washing of the disciples’ feet, the institution of the priesthood and the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. For this reason, the Feast of Corpus Christi was established to create a feast focused solely on the Holy Eucharist.

Three versions of the office for the feast of Corpus Christi in extant manuscripts provide evidence for the Liege origins and “voice” of Juliana in an “original office”, which was followed by two later versions of the office. A highly sophisticated and polished version can be found in BNF 1143, a musical manuscript devoted entirely to the feast, upon which there is wide scholarly agreement: The version in BNF 1143 is a revision of an earlier version found in Prague, Abbey of Strahov MS D.E.I. 7 and represents the work of St. Thomas Aquinas following or during his residency at Orvieto from 1259 to 1265. This liturgy may be used as a votive Mass of the Blessed Sacrament on weekdays in ordinary time.[8] The hymn Aquinas composed for Vespers of Corpus Christi, Pange Lingua or another eucharistic hymn, is also used on Holy (Maundy) Thursday during the procession of the Blessed Sacrament to the altar of repose.[9] The last two verses of Pange Lingua are also used as a separate hymn, Tantum Ergo, which is sung at Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. O Salutaris Hostia, another hymn sung at Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, comprises the last two verses of Verbum Supernum Prodiens, Aquinas’ hymn for Lauds of Corpus Christi. Aquinas also composed the propers for the Mass of Corpus Christi, including the sequence Lauda Sion Salvatorem. The epistle reading for the Mass was taken from Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 11:23-29

), and the Gospel reading was taken from the Gospel of John (John 6:56-59).

When Pope Pius V revised the General Roman Calendar (see Tridentine Calendar), Corpus Christi was one of only two “feasts of devotion” that he kept, the other being Trinity Sunday.[10]

The feast had an octave until 1955, when Pope Pius XII suppressed all octaves, even in local calendars, except those of Christmas, Easter and Pentecost (see General Roman Calendar of Pope Pius XII).

From 1849 until 1969 a separate Feast of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ was assigned originally to the first Sunday in July, later to the first day of the month. This feast was removed from the General Roman Calendar in 1969, “because the Most Precious Blood of Christ the Redeemer is already venerated in the solemnities of the Passion, of Corpus Christi and of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and in the feast of the Exaltaton of the Holy Cross. But the Mass of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ is placed among the votive Masses”.[11]

Silver-gilt Corpus Christi monstrance of Toledo, Spain


Corpus Christi is primarily celebrated by the Catholic Church, but it is also included in the calendar of a few Anglican churches, most notably the Church of England. The feast is also celebrated by some Anglo-Catholic parishes even in provinces of the Anglican Communion that do not officially include it in their calendars. McCausland’s Order of Divine Service, the most commonly used ordo in the Anglican Church of Canada, provides lections for the day. As stated above, in the Roman Catholic Church the celebration is designated The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi). In the Church of England it is known as The Day of Thanksgiving for the Institution of Holy Communion (Corpus Christi) and has the status of a Festival. Although its observance is optional, where kept, it is typically celebrated as a major holy day. It is also celebrated by the Old Catholic Church, the Liberal Catholic Church and by some Western Rite Orthodox Christians, and is commemorated in the liturgical calendars of the more Latinized Eastern Catholic Churches. The feast was retained in the calendars of the Lutheran Church up until about 1600,[12] but continues to be celebrated by some Lutheran congregations.

In medieval times in many parts of Europe Corpus Christi was a time for the performance of mystery plays. In Catalonia it is celebrated with the tradition of the Dancing egg, with evidence from the 16th century.

In the village of Castrillo de Murcia near Burgos, the celebration includes the practice of El Colacho (baby jumping).


Corpus Christi procession in Poznań, Poland, 2004

Corpus Christi procession by ships on the Rhine called “Mülheimer Gottestracht” in Cologne, Germany, 2005

The Feast of Corpus Christi, which is a moveable feast, is celebrated on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday or, in countries where it is not a Holy Day of Obligation, on the Sunday after Holy Trinity.

The earliest possible Thursday celebration falls on 21 May (as in 1818 and 2285), the latest on 24 June (as in 1943 and 2038). The Sunday celebrations occur three days later.

The Thursday dates until 2022 are:

  • 30 May 2013
  • 19 June 2014
  • 4 June 2015
  • 26 May 2016
  • 15 June 2017
  • 31 May 2018
  • 20 June 2019
  • 11 June 2020
  • 3 June 2021
  • 16 June 2022

Corpus Christi is a public holiday in some countries with a predominantly Catholic population including, amongst others, Austria, Brazil, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Croatia, Dominican Republic, Haiti, East Timor, parts of Germany, Liechtenstein, Panama, Peru, Poland, San Marino, parts of Spain and Switzerland, Grenada, Saint Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago.

Corpus Christi celebrations in Antigua Guatemala, 1979


  1. ^ a b Sanctissimi Corpus et Sanguis Christi. Roman Missal, 2011 Latin to English translation
  2. ^ Catholic encyclopedia
  3. ^ “Vie de Sainte Julienne de Cornillon” by J.P. Delville, Published by the Institute of Medieval Studies at the Catholic University at Louvain pp. 120-123
  4. ^ Phyllis Jestice, Holy people of the world Published by ABC-CLIO, 2004 ISBN 1-57607-355-6 page 457
  5. ^ The decree is preserved in Anton Joseph Binterim, Vorzüglichsten Denkwürdigkeiten der Christkatholischen Kirche (Mainz, 1825-41), together with parts of the first liturgy written for the occasion.
  6. ^ The Feast of Corpus Christi By Barbara R. Walters, Published by Penn State Press, 2007 ISBN 0-271-02924-2 page 12
  7. ^ Oxford History of Christian Worship By Geoffrey Wainwright, Oxford University Press 2006 ISBN 0-19-513886-4, page 248
  8. ^ General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 375
  9. ^ Roman Missal, Mass of the Lord’s Supper, 38
  10. ^ Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 1969), p. 66
  11. ^ Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 1969), p. 128]
  12. ^ Frank Senn: Christian Liturgy: Catholic and Evangelical, Fortress Press, 1997. p. 344. ISBN 0-8006-2726-1

External links


Corpus Christi Adoration for the Faith Year വിശ്വാസ വർഷ ദിവ്യകാരുണ്യ ആരാധന

Here  is  the circular of the KCBC President His Grace Most Reverend Dr. Mar Andrews Thazhath regarding the observation of a Holy Hour on the Feast of Corpus Christi 2013. His Holiness Pope Francis invites the Cathedrals and parishes around the world to join in an hour of Eucharistic Adoration as part of the Year of Faith, on Sunday, 2 June 2013, at 5:00 pm Rome Time (8.30pm Indian Time). The Holy Father will preside an hour of Eucharistic Adoration in St. Peter’s Basilica in communion with all the bishops of the world and their local diocesan communities. “The universal scope of this moment is to be a gesture of spiritual sharing.”

In this context, KCBC Executive Committee decided to extend this initiative to all our parishes, monasteries, convents and institutions and it would be a grace filled hour of solidarity with our Holy Father to share in adoration during the same hour as in Rome.

Corpus Christi Adoration for the Faith Year

വിശ്വാസ വർഷ ദിവ്യകാരുണ്യ ആരാധന


The Holy Father has asked that this time of Eucharistic Adoration be offered in particular:

1. For the Church dispersed throughout the world, gathered today as a sign of unity in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist. The Lord makes her ever more obedient in listening to his word to present her to the world as ever “more glorious, without speck or wrinkle, but holy and faultless” (Eph. 5:28). By means of its faithful proclamation, may this saving word resound once more as the bearer of mercy and may it stimulate a renewed commitment of love, to provide pain and suffering with full meaning and to re-establish joy and peace.

2. For all of those who, in different parts of the world, live the suffering of new forms of slavery and who are victims of wars, of the trafficking of human beings, of drugs, of ‘slave’ labour, for children and women who suffer any form of violence. May their silent cry for help find the Church alert, so that, with her eyes fixed upon Christ Crucified, she may not forget so many of her brothers and sisters left at the of mercy of violence.

For all those, too, who find themselves in economic insecurity, especially the unemployed, the elderly, immigrants, the homeless, those in prison, and the marginalised; may the prayer of the Church and her active endeavours to be close to them be a source of comfort to them, of support to their hope, of strength and courage in defending the dignity of the person.

Each particular Church, attentive to its own particular needs, is encouraged to put forward other intentions in harmony with this appeal of the Holy Father

Commission for Evangelization and Pastoral Care of the Migrants

Commission for Migrants

The Major Archiepiscopal Commission for

Evangelization the Pastoral Care of the Migrants

The Major Archiepiscopal Commission for Evangelization and Pastoral Care of the Migrants is constituted to assist the Major Archbishop of the Church in carrying out his responsibilities towards the Syro-Malabar migrant faithful out side the proper territory of the Syro Malabar Church (in India and aboard) and to animate and co-ordinate the evangelizing mission of the Church.


The Catholic Church is a communion of twenty three sui iuris Churches with different liturgy, theology, spirituality and administrative system. The Syro- Malabar Church is the second largest in number among twenty two Eastern Churches with a total population of 3.8 million faithful. It is a Major Archiepiscopal sui iuris Church with a Synodal structure. The Synod is the supreme legislative and judicial authority in the Church. The Major Archbishop is the father and head of this Church (CCEO, 55). As the father and head of the Church, the Major Archbishop must be solicitous not only for the faithful of his Church in the proper territory, but also for the migrants scattered all over the world. He enjoys certain rights and duties towards the faithful who belong to his Church no matter wherever they stay (CCEO.148§ 2). He exercises his pastoral authority in the Church with the help of various Commissions because canon 124 of the CCEO prescribes that there should be various Commissions to take care of the different fields of activities in the sui iuris Church. The Commissions are erected by the Major Archbishop, constituted of persons chosen by him and are governed by norms established by him (Synodal News, No. 1, August 1993, p. 47).

In the very first meeting of the Synod of Bishops of the Syro-Malabar Church, held from 20 to 25 May 1993 at the residence of Mar Antony Padiyara, the then Major Archbishop, at Ernakulam under the chairmanship of Archbishop Abraham Kattumana, the Pontifical Delegate to the Syro-Malabar Church, decision was taken to constitute the Major Archiepiscopal Commission for the Evangelization and Pastoral Care of the Migrants. This Commission was constituted to assist the Major Archbishop of the Church in carrying out his responsibilities towards the Syro-Malabar migrant faithful outside the proper territory of the Syro Malabar Church in India and aboard and to animate and co-ordinate the evangelizing mission of the Church. The same Synod elected Bishop Mar Gregory Karotemprel CMI as the Chairman and Bishops Mar Joseph Pallikaparampil (Pala) and Mar Paul Chittilapilly (Kalyan) as members of the Commission. (Synodal News, No. 1, August 1993, pp 6-7, Synodal News, No. 6, May 1995, p. 41).

While the VI Synod of Bishops of the Syro-Malabar Church was in session from 12th to 24th January 1998, Mar Varkey Vithayathil C.Ss.R., the Apostolic Administrator of the Syro-Malabar Church reconstituted the Commission for the Evangelization and Pastoral Care of the Migrants with Bishop Mar Gregory Karotemprel CMI as the Chairman and Bishops Mar Joseph Pallikaparampil and Mar Gratian Mundadan CMI as members. The Commission members took charge on 21 May 1998 (Synodal News, No. 11, March 1998, p.15).

The VII Synod of Bishops, held at Mount St Thomas from 14 to 20 November 1999, took the decision to establish a Mission Secretariat under the auspices of the Major Archiepiscopal Commission for Evangelization and Pastoral Care of the Migrants at the Major Archiepiscopal Curia, Mount St Thomas. Mar Varkey Vithayathil, the then Apostolic Administrator, canonically erected the Mission Secretariat at Mount St Thomas vide Decree No. 1871/99 on 17th December 1999. (Synodal News, Vol. 7, Nos. 1& 2, December 1999, pp 56, 70, 124)

In the course of the XI Synod of Bishops held at Mount St. Thomas from 3 to15 November 2003, Mar Varkey Cardinal Vithayathil, the Major Archbishop reconstituted the Commission for the Evangelization and Pastoral Care of the Migrants with Bishop Gregory Karotemprel CMI again as the Chairman and Bishops Mar Vijay Anand Nedumpuram CMI and Mar Mathew Vaniakizhakkel VC as members (Synodal News, Vol.11, No.2, December 2003, p. 30).

During the XVI synod, on 27th August 2008, Mar Varkey Cardinal Vithayathil, the Major Archbishop reconstituted the Commission for the Evangelization and Pastoral Care of the Migrants with Bishop Sebastian Vadakel MST as the Chairman and Bishops Simon Stock Palathara CMI and Mar Antony Chirayath as members (Synodal News, Vol.12, Nos.1&2, Novembers 2008, p. 47).


The love of Christ towards migrants urges us (cf. 2Cor. 5:14) to look afresh at their problems and to respond more efficiently to the pastoral needs of the Syro-Malabar faithful living outside the territorium proprium of the church in India and abroad and the zeal for Christ obliges us to be His witnesses in the whole world sharing the light of Faith lit by St Thomas the Apostle. Mission


Pastoral care of the emigrants of the Syro-Malabar Church has always been the priority of the Commission. Some of the members of the Commission in the past were appointed Apostolic Visitors of the USA and Canada as well as the European countries. They presented reports of their visitations to the Synod as well as to Rome. The Commission arranged several meetings and deliberations with the Latin prelates of the migrant areas and sent various memoranda to Rome as well as to other ecclesiastical authorities. As a result of these efforts, St Thomas Syro-Malabar Diocese of Chicago was erected for the Syro-Malabar migrants in USA and Canada, chaplains were appointed for the pastoral care of the Syro-Malabar migrants by the Latin prelates in many places and several Syro-Malabar parishes were established in Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai and Kolkata. Commission ensures regular correspondence with the emigrant communities

The Commission was entrusted with the task of arranging the conduct of the first Syro Malabar Mission Assembly. Accordingly a preliminary meeting was held in November 1998 at Poornodaya in Bhopal with delegates from all dioceses, especially from mission dioceses for drafting the first Working Paper (Lineamenta). The Mission Assembly was held from November 12 14, 1999 at Mount St Thomas. As per the direction of the Synod, held from November 14 20, 1999, the Commission convened a Meeting of the Bishops of the Dioceses of the Syro Malabar Church outside the Territorium Proprium and the major Superiors of the Syro Malabar Religious Congregations and Institutes of Apostolic Life, working in the above Dioceses at Poornodaya in Bhopal from 13 to 15 October, 2000.

An all-inclusive Syro-Malabar Catholic Directory was published by the Commission for the first time in November 2004. The Commission joyfully undertook the preparation of a Mission Policy of the Syro-Malabar Church in the challenging circumstances of the Mission of the Church in the third millennium. After several years of study, consultation, discussion and preparation it was finally promulgated on March 19, 2006. It was simultaneously translated into Malayalam as well. The Commission conducted the first ever Global Meet of the Syro-Malabar emigrants at Mount St Thomas, the Major Archiepiscopal Curia from 18 to 21 of August 2006 after a year long preparation. Almost 380 participants from all over the world participated in the Meet and of them some 100 were from outside India and others from various cities and Syro-Malabar dioceses in India. The Commission brought out a Directory of the Syro-Malabar Migrants, with a brief history, general statistics, contact details and other relevant pieces of information of every sizeable Syro-Malabar migrant community in India and outside. The Commission also published two issues of the Mission India. Around the time of Christmas in 2006 Syro-Malabar Global Mission was published for the emigrants of the Syro-Malabar Church as per the suggestions of the Global Meet 2006. Together with Sathyadeepam the Commission (CEPCM) brought out a Mission Supplement as a special issue in order to introduce the Syro-Malabar Mission Dioceses to the Mother Church in Kerala. The Supplement contained articles and pictures on all the Mission dioceses of the Syro-Malabar Church and it was a landmark achievement for the Commission. A study seminar on the Mission Policy of the Syro-Malabar Church under the title Mission Congress 2007 is being planned out by the Commission. The Commission intends to publish a shorter version of the Directory of the Syro-Malabar Church in 2008.

Church Teachings on Pastoral Care of the Migrants

            The history of humankind is a history of migration. Migrations are on the increase day by day for reasons of better livelihood, or for other demands of life like jobs, strenuous conditions in one’s own country, religious persecution and so on. It is a matter of serious concern for all nations and people. There are many advantages along with it, like good job opportunities, peaceful life, higher salaries, wide range of living standards and so on. But it is a fact that migrants who have had to give up their homeland, their possessions and relations inevitably carry with them the characteristics and memories of their own people as an indelible identity which cannot be renounced or denied. Experience has shown that the inability of expression in other than the mother language and loss of cultural and spiritual patrimonies not only damage the conscience but also cancel religious convictions and practices. As far as the Church is concerned, migration has a great missionary dimension. Pope Paul VI in Evangelii Nuntiandi notes: “It is the result of their living presence and witness in the midst of new people that forms new Churches. So they are the real seeds and the evangelizers” (n.21).

Migration always involves uprooting, detachment from one’s people, culture and place. At the same time it is for insertion and integration into a new society and place. In the Old Testament God brought the Israelites to the promised land to make them a chosen race and wanted them to keep up their identity in the new land. God did not want the Israelites to be scattered but united as the people of God. As Yahweh cared for the Israelites, the migrants need special pastoral care from the part of the Church lest they be disoriented in the new situation. St. Paul says: “Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God” (Rom.15:7).

Proper pastoral care of the migrants is a great mission entrusted to the Church. Erga migrantes caritas Christi, an instruction issued in 2004 by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People notes: “Welcoming the stranger is intrinsic to the nature of the Church itself and bears witness to its fidelity to the Gospel” (n. 22).The mission of the Church towards migrants calls for an integrated approach of the proclamation of the gospel, clear policy and programs of pastoral works, catechetical and liturgical formation, fostering dialogue with them, working for their human rights, dignity, etc.

There is no dearth of Magisterial material safeguarding the right of pastoral care of the migrants. Popes, Councils and Encyclicals recommend the retention and promotion of the rights of the migrants. None of the Vatican documents encourage absorption or integration of the immigrants into the Church of arrival. The teachings of the Church with regard to the pastoral care of the migrant faithful of any sui juris Church, anywhere in the world, are crystal clear from the following Church documents.

Teachings of the Councils

Lateran Council IV 

“Since in many places people of different languages live within the same city or diocese, having one faith but different rites and customs, we therefore strictly order bishops of such cities and dioceses to provide suitable men who will do the following in the various rites and languages: celebrate the divine services for them, administer the Church’s sacraments, and instruct them by word and examples” Lateran Council IV (1215), can. 9, Counciliarurn Eccumenicourum … Rome.1962, p. 215.

Second Vatican Council

ccFor the Catholic Church wishes the traditions of each particular church or rite to remain whole and entire, and it likewise wishes to adapt its own way of life to the needs of different times and places” (OE. 2).

ccTherefore these churches are of equal rank, so that none of them is superior to the others because of its rite. They have the same rights and obligations, even with regard to the preaching of the Gospel in the whole world (cf. Mk16:15), under the direction of the Roman Pontiff” (OE. 3)

ccProvision must be made therefore everywhere in the world to protect and advance all these individual Churches. For this purpose, each should organize its own parishes and hierarchy, where the spiritual good of the faithful requires it…each and every Catholic, as also the baptized members of any non-Catholic church or community who come to the fullness of the Catholic communion, must retain each his own rite wherever he is, and follow it to the best of his ability” (OE. 4)

ccIt likewise pertains to Episcopal conferences to found and promote agencies which will fraternally receive those who immigrate from missionary territories for of work or study, and which will aid them by suitable pastoral attention” (AG.38).

ccThis Synod solemnly declares that the Churches of the East, while keeping in mind the necessary unity of the whole Church, have the power to govern themselves according to their own disciplines, since these are better suited to the character of their faithful and better adapted to foster the good of souls. The perfect observance of this traditional principle-which indeed has not always been observed-is a prerequisite for any restoration of union” (UR. 16).

ccWhere there are faithful of a different rite, the diocesan bishop should provide for their spiritual needs either through priests or parishes of that rite or through an Episcopal Vicar endowed with the necessary faculties. Wherever it is fitting, the last named should also have an Episcopal rank” CD. 23) Teachings of Popes “Pope Pius XII says that “for Oriental Churches there should not be any compulsion to substitute their customs with those of the Latin Church and every Rite must have equal estimation and dignity before the common Mother Church” (AAS. 1944. P. 137)

ccRegarding the pastoral care of the faithful of the Eastern Rites who are living in Latin Rite dioceses, in accordance with the spirit and letter of the Conciliar Decree Christus Dominus 23 and OrientaliumEcclesiarum4the Latin Ordinaries (bishops) of such dioceses are to provide as soon as possible for an adequate pastoral care of the faithful of these Eastern Rites, through the ministry of the priests or through parishes of the Rites, where this would be indicated, or through an Episcopal Vicar endowed with the necessary faculties where circumstances would so indicate” (Letter of Pope John Paul II to the bishops of India on May 28, 1987).

ccThe migrant has the right to pastoral care from the local Church. It should be emphasized that he or she has the right not to the generic pastoral care common to the whole body of the believers but to a specific ministry adopted to their language and especially their culture” (Message of John Paul II on World migration day 1990, L’Osservatore Romano, August 6, n.32, Vol.23 (1990), p.11.

ccI particularly urge the Latin ordinaries in these countries to study attentively, grasp thoroughly and apply faithfully the principles issued by the Holy See concerning ecumenical cooperation and the pastoral care of the Eastern Catholic Church especially when they lack their own hierarchy.” (John Paul II, Orientale Lumen (1995), n.9.

 “There is an urgent need to overcome the fears and misunderstandings which appear at times between the Catholic Eastern Churches and the Latin Church… especially with regard to the pastoral care of their people, also outside their own territories.” (John Paul II, Ecclesia in Asia, 1999, n.27.

Canonical Dispositions

ccThe Christian faithful have the right to worshipping God according to the prescriptions of their own Rite approved by the 2 legitimate pastors or the Church and to follow their own form of spiritual life consonant with the teaching of the Church” (CIC.214).

ccIf the local Ordinary has faithful of a different rite within his diocese, he is to provide for their spiritual needs either by means of the priests or parishes of that rite or by means of an Episcopal Vicar” (CIC. 383§2).

ccThe Christian faithful have the right to worship God according to the prescriptions of their own Church sui iuris, and to follow their own form of spiritual life consonant with the teaching of the Church” (CCEO. 17).

ccNo one can presume in any way to induce the Christian faithful to transfer to another Church sui iuris” (CCEO.31).

ccThe Christian faithful of the Eastern Churches even if committed to the care of a hierarch or pastor of another Church sui iuris, nevertheless remain enrolled in their own Church” (CCEO.38).

ccNo one can validly transfer to another Church sui iuris without the consent of the Holy See” (CCEO. 32§1).

ccThe Christian faithful of the Eastern Churches even if committed to the care of a hierarch or pastor of another Church sui iuris, nevertheless remain enrolled in their own Church” (CCEO.38).

ccThe eparchial bishop to whom the care of the Christian faithful of any other sui juris Church is committed is bound by the serious obligation of providing all the things in order that these Christian faithful retain the rite of their own Church, cultivate and observe it as much as they can; he should foster relations with the higher authority of that Church” (CCEO 193§1).

ccThe eparchial bishop is to provide for the spiritual needs of those Christian faithful, if it is possible, through the presbyters or pastors of the same Church sui iuris as the Christian faithful or even through a syncellus constituted for the care of these Christian faithful” (CCEO 193§2).

ccIn places where not even an exarchv has been erected for the Christian faithful of a certain Church sui iuris, the local hierarch of another Church sui iuris, even the Latin Church of the place is to be considered the proper hierarch of these faithful, with due regard for the prescription of can. 101; if, however, there are several local hierarchs, that one is to be considered their proper hierarch who has been appointed by the Apostolic See or, if it is a question of the Christian faithful of a patriarchal Church, by the Patriarch with the assent of the Apostolic See” (CCEO. 916§5).

Era migrantes Caritas Christi 

Erga migrantes caritas Christi is an instruction issued in 2004 by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People.

ccWelcoming the stranger is intrinsic to the nature of the Church itself and bears witness to its fidelity to the Gospel” (n. 22).

ccWith regard to Catholic migrants the Church makes provision for a specific kind of pastoral care because of the diversity of language, origin, culture, ethnicity and tradition, or of belonging to a particular Church sui iuris with its own rite… The uprooting that moving abroad inevitably involves (from country of origin, family, language etc.) should not be made worse by uprooting the migrant from his religious rite or identity too” (n. 49).

ccWhen groups of immigrants are particularly numerous and homogeneous therefore, they are encouraged to keep up their specific Catholic traditions. In particular, efforts must be made to provide organised religious assistance by priests of the language, culture and rite of the migrants selecting the most suitable juridical option from among those foreseen by the CIC and the CCEO.” (n. 50)

ccEastern Rite Catholic migrants, whose numbers are steadily increasing, deserve particular pastoral attention. In their regard we should first of all remember the juridical obligation of the faithful to observe their own rite everywhere insofar as possible, rite being understood as their liturgical, theological, spiritual and disciplinary heritage (cf. CCEO Can. 28, §1 and PaG 72) (n.51).

All the above official teachings of the Church attest to the solicitude of the Church for the migrants and defend their pastoral rights. The official ecclesiastical position on the emigrants from the time of Lateran IV (1215) favoured providing ministers of the rite and language of the emigrants because migration is no reason to dissolve one’s birth- rite. The inability of the Syro-Malabar Church to cater to the spiritual and liturgical needs of the migrants can lead to their alienation and ultimate separation from the Mother Church. The only solution to solve the above issue is to extend jurisdiction everywhere in the world as territorial or personal. Any further delay in doing so will result in irreparable damage to the entire Catholic Church. Besides, it is also a question of keeping up the credibility of the Catholic claim that the Church stands for justice, peace and harmony. It is all the more right and just for the Church to allow the faithful to protect as well as foster their own faith traditions everywhere in India through the establishment of appropriate juridical structures proper to the sui iuris Church.

Click here for the Official Site of the Commission

World Vocation Day, Circular KCBC Vocation Commission (Malayalam)

Click here for the World Vocation Day Circular by KCBC Vocation Commission

Here is the Vocation Sunday Circular by His Grace Most Rev. Dr. Mar Joseph Perumthottam, Chairman of the KCBC Vocation Commission and a Prayer for the Vocations. This year Church celebrates Vocation Sunday on 21 April 2013, the fourth Sunday of the Easter.

50th World Vocation Day 2013, Message by Pope Benedict XVI

Click here for the 50th World Vocation Day Message by Pope Benedict XVI

Here is the Malayalam translation of the Vocation Sunday Message of the Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. This year Church celebrates Vocation Sunday on 21 April 2013, the fourth Sunday of the Easter. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI issued this message on 6 October 2012 and it is valid for the forthcoming Vocation Sunday.

Diocese of Bathery

The Catholic Diocese of Bathery was established in 1978 by His Holiness Pope John Paul II and was formally inaugurated on2nd February 1979. By the grace of God, recently the diocese of Bathery was bifurcated and the new diocese of Puttur was erected by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. This was mainly due to the geographic vastness of the area. At present we have nearly 25,000 Malankara Catholic faithful in 102 parishes and mission stations in the diocese of Bathery. His Excellency Most Rev. Geevarghese Mar Divannasios is transferred to the diocese of Puttur and His Excellency Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Mar Thomas appointed as the new  bishop of Bathery. The eparchy comprises of the district of Nilgiris of Tamilnadu State; Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kannur, Wayanad and Kasargod districts of Kerala State. The diocesan headquarters is situated in Sulthan Bathery in the district of Wayanad in Kerala.


 The Malankara Catholic Eparchy of Bathery is the fruit of the missionary zeal and desire for the unity of the Church expressed by the committed laity, priests and prelates of the Syro-Malankara Church. In 1958, the Holy See extended the jurisdiction of the Eparchy of Tiruvalla further towards the North of Kerala and some districts of Karnataka and Tamilnadu. After the extension His Excellency late Zacharias Mar Athanasios sent priests to the new regions. These pioneers of Malabar mission began to work zealously among the Malankara faithful and they gave leadership for the Re-union movement and Evangelization. As a result parishes and mission centers were established in different places. In order to accelerate the re-union movement and evangelization, His Excecellency Most Rev. Zacharias Mar Athanasios requested the Holy See to bifurcate the Diocese of Thiruvalla and to erect a new Diocese with Sulthan Bathery as its headquarters. His Holiness Pope John Paul II erected the Eparchy of Bathery on 28th October 1978 and Rev. Dr. Cyril Malancheruvil was appointed as the first Bishop of Bathery.

His Excellency Most Rev. Cyril Mar Baselios officially took charge of the Eparchy of Bathery on 2nd Ferbruary 1979 and the new diocese was inaugurated during the solemn function held at St. Thomas Pro-Cathedral, Sulthan Bathery. There were arround 8500 Malankara Catholic faithful in 43 parishes and mission stations at the beginning of the diocese. The pastoral care of the community was entrusted to 18 diocesan priests and 2 priests from Bethany Ashram who was zealous and committed in the Apostolate. Bethany sisters and sisters of Deena Sevana Sabha also gave valuable services in different parts of the diocese. As a result, thousands of families and some priests from prominent families came into full communion of the Catholic Church. Within a short period of time, many parishes and mission stations were established in different parts of the Eparchy.

Most Rev. Cyril Mar Baselios gave great leadership for all the pastoral activities. The far-sighted vision of Mar Baselios led the Eparchy in the hights of its growth. The Apostolate of the Eparchy was organized under various departments. The faith formation of the children, youth, men and women were guaranteed by the Apostolate of Catechism, youth ministry, ‘Pithrusangam’ and ‘Mathrujyothis’. The Bible Apostolate Department takes initiative for the promotion of Bible studies and distribution of Bible among the faithful. Malankara Catholic Association is the official organization of the Malankara Catholic faithful for the Social involvement and leadership. The Eparchy also gave due importance to its social commitment, taking seriously the life situation of the people around. The Eparchy chalked out a social programme aimed at promoting the integral growth of men and Women. The Social Service Centre, named Shreyas, which is the official organ of the Eparchy for promoting Social justice and fellowship, is instituted in view of creating a more human and just society, based on Gospel values, through a scientific programme of mass education, mass mobilization and mass action. The Eparchy also started few educational institutions under the Corporate Educational Agency of the Eparchy to impart a value based education to the youth irrespective of caste and creed.

Msgr.Mathew Nedungatt and Msgr.Thomas Thannickakuzhy, Msgr. Thomas Charivupurayidom and Msgr. Eldho Puthenkandathil served the Eparchy as its Vicar Generals. The Diamond Jubilee of the Malankara Reunion Movement was celebrated in the Eparchy on 20, 21 September 1990 at Sulthan Bathery.

His Eminence Wladislao Cardinal Rubin, the former Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches visited the Eparchy on 9th January 1981 and inaugurated the Pastoral Council and Parish Senate in the Diocese.

The Eparchy of Bathery was blessed by the .visit of His Eminence Simon D. Cardinal Lourdusamy, the then Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches on 25 August 1987.

After 17 years of inspiring leadership in the Diocese, His Excellency Most Rev. Cyril Mar Baselios left for Trivandrum on 12 December 1995 as he was appointed Metropolitan Archbishop of Trivandrum and the Head of the Malankara Catholic Church. His Grace Cyril Mar Baselios took charge of the Church and of the Archdiocese of Trivandrum on 14 December 1995. From 14 December 1995 till 5 February 1997, the Eparchy was led by Rev. Msgr.ThomasThannickakuzhy as its Administrator. On 18 December 1996 His Holiness pope John Paul ll appointed Very Rev. Dr. Varghese Ottathengil, the then Rector of St.Mary’s Malankara Major Seminary, Trivandrum as the new Bishop of Bathery, Msgr.Varghese Ottathengil was consecrated as Bishop on 5 February 1997 at Mar Athanasios Nagar, Bathery by His Grace Cyril Mar Baselios, the Head of the Malankara Catholic Church.

Rev. Dr. lsaac Thottunkal was the Vicar general of the Eparchy from 1999 to 2001. Then he was appointed Apostolic Visitor for North America & Europe and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archieparchy of Trivandrum, on 18 June 2001. His Excellency Rt. Rev. Msgr. lsaac Mar Cleemis was consecrated as bishop on 15 August 2001 at St. Mary’s Malankara Catholic Church, Thirumoolapuram, Thiruvalla.

The Eparchy of Bathery celebrated its Silver Jubilee year from 28 October 2002 to 28 October 2003. The SilverJubilee celebrations began with the Holy Qurbono by His Grace Most Rev.Dr.Cyril Mar Baselios, the first Bishop of Bathery and with the solemn declaration of the Jubilee year by His Excellency Most Rev Dr.Geevarghese Mar Divannasios On 28 October at St.Thomas Cathedral, Bathery. The concluding celebration of the Jubilee year was held along with the 73rd Re-union celebration of the Malankara Catholic Church on 18 to 20′ September 2003.

During the past years, the Eparchy of the Bathery and its pastoral leadership was formly established in the different geographical area of the Eparchy. As a result many parishes and mission stations together with social, charitable and educational institutions were established to the Karnataka region of the Eparchy. A new Eparchy for the Karnataka region was a long cherished dream of the Malankara Catholic faithful in the region. This dream was fulfilled at the moment of the solemn declaration of the new Eparchy of Puttur on 25th January 2010.

The Eparchy of Bathery was bifurcated and the new Eparchy of Puttur was established by the Holy Episcopal synod of the Malankara Catholic Church. His Excellency Most Rev. Dr. Geevarghese Mar Divannasios was appointed as the first bishop of the Eparchy of Puttur. His Excellency Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Mar Thomas was appointed as the third Bishop of the Eparchy of Bathery. The enthronement of the new bishop was held on 13th April 2010. At present the Eparchy of Bathery compraise of the civil districts of Wayanad, Malapuram, Kozhikode, Kannur, Kasargode of Kerala State and Nilgiris of Tamil Nadu. The ecclessiastical districts of the Eparchy at present are Bathery,Pulpally, Nilgiris, Nilambur, Edakkara, Kozhikode, Mananthavady and Kannur.

There are 87 priests of the diocesan clergy, three priests from Bethany Ashram and one priest from the OCD congregation who render their dedicated service for the pastoral care of the community. Sisters from Bethany Congregation, Daughters of Mary, Deena Sevana Sabha, Holy Spirit Sisters, FMM Sisters, John the Baptist Sisters are also give their valuable service in the Eparchy.


Catholic Bishop’s House
Sulthan Bathery PO – 673 592
Wayanad Dt.
Kerala, India
Ph: +91 4936 220207
Fax: +91 4936 221287

E-mail: bishopbty@gmail.com


Pope Benedict XVI: Farewell discourse to College of Cardinals (full text)

Pope: Farewell discourse to College of Cardinals (full text)

(From Vatican Radio) “The Church is in the world but not of the world and it is a living body,” therefore it is not an institution designed and conceived according to pre-set plans, but of God. Wednesday’s audience is proof of this, it has shown the “awakening of the Church in souls”.

Below please find a Vatican Radio translation of the Holy Father’s words to the College of Cardinals Thursday morning:

Dear beloved brothers,

I welcome you all with great joy and cordially greet each one of you. I thank Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who as always, has been able to convey the sentiments of the College, Cor ad cor loquitur. Thank you, Your Eminence, from my heart.

And referring to the disciples of Emmaus, I would like to say to you all that it has also been a joy for me to walk with you over the years in light of the presence of the Risen Lord.

As I said yesterday, in front of thousands of people who filled St. Peter’s Square, your closeness, your advice, have been a great help to me in my ministry.

In these 8 years we have experienced in faith beautiful moments of radiant light in the Churches’ journey along with times when clouds have darkened the sky.

We have tried to serve Christ and his Church with deep and total love which is the soul of our ministry.

We have gifted hope that comes from Christ alone, and which alone can illuminate our path.

Together we can thank the Lord who has helped us grow in communion, to pray to together, to help you to continue to grow in this deep unity so that the College of Cardinals is like an orchestra, where diversity, an expression of the universal Church, always contributes to a superior harmony of concord.

I would like to leave you with a simple thought that is close to my heart, a thought on the Church, Her mystery, which is for all of us, we can say, the reason and the passion of our lives. I am helped by an expression of Romano Guardini’s, written in the year in which the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council approved the Constitution Lumen Gentium, his last with a personal dedication to me, so the words of this book are particularly dear to me .

Guardini says: “The Church is not an institution devised and built at table, but a living reality. She lives along the course of time by transforming Herself, like any living being, yet Her nature remains the same. At Her heart is Christ.”

This was our experience yesterday, I think, in the square.

We could see that the Church is a living body, animated by the Holy Spirit, and truly lives by the power of God, She is in the world but not of the world.

She is of God, of Christ, of the Spirit, as we saw yesterday.

This is why another eloquent expression of Guardini’s is also true: “The Church is awakening in souls.”

The Church lives, grows and awakens in those souls which like the Virgin Mary accept and conceive the Word of God by the power of the Holy Spirit. They offer to God their flesh and in their own poverty and humility become capable of giving birth to Christ in the world today.

Through the Church the mystery of the Incarnation remains present forever. Christ continues to walk through all times in all places. Let us remain united, dear brothers, to this mystery, in prayer, especially in daily Eucharist, and thus serve the Church and all humanity. This is our joy that no one can take from us.

Prior to bidding farewell to each of you personally, I want to tell you that I will continue to be close to you in prayer, especially in the next few days, so that you may all be fully docile to the action of the Holy Spirit in the election of the new Pope.

May the Lord show you what is willed by Him. And among you, among the College of Cardinals, there is also the future Pope, to whom, here to today, I already promise my unconditional reverence and obedience. For all this, with affection and gratitude, I cordially impart upon you my Apostolic Blessing.


Below please find a Vatican Radio translation of the farewell discourse by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals to Pope Benedict XVI.


With great trepidation the cardinals present in Rome gather around you today, once again to show their deep affection and express their heartfelt gratitude for your selfless witness of apostolic service, for the good of the Church of Christ and of all humanity.

Last Saturday, at the end of the Spiritual Exercises in the Vatican, you thanked your collaborators from the Roman Curia, with these moving words: My friends, I would like to thank all of you not only for this week but for the past eight years, during which you have carried with me, with great skill, affection, love and loyalty, the weight of the Petrine ministry.

Beloved and revered Successor of Peter, it is we who must thank you for the example you have given us in the past eight years of Pontificate.

On 19 April 2005 you joined the long line of successors of the Apostle Peter, and today, 28 February 2013, you are about to leave us, as we wait for the helm of the Barque of Peter to pass into other hands.

Thus the apostolic succession continues, which the Lord promised His Holy Church, until the voice of the Angel of the Apocalypse is heard proclaim on earth : “Tempus non erit amplius … consummabitur mysterium Dei” (Ap 10, 6-7) “there is no longer time: the mystery of God is finished.”

So ends the history of the Church, together with the history of the world, with the advent of a new heaven and a new earth.

Holy Father, with deep love we have tried to accompany you on your journey, reliving the experience of the disciples of Emmaus who, after walking with Jesus for a good stretch of road, said to one another: “Were not our hearts burning [within us] while he spoke to us on the way?” (Luke 24:32).

Yes, Holy Father, know that our hearts burned too as we walked with you in the past eight years. Today we want to once again express our gratitude.

Together we repeat a typical expression of your dear native land “Vergelt’s Gott” — God reward you!

The First Tabernacle Ministry

The First Tabernacle Ministry

A Pro-Life Movement of MCBS

Director: Fr Joy Thottamkara MCBS

First Tabernacle

First Tabernacle Ministry

Any one would ask what is ‘first tabernacle’?. But Question should be changed from WHAT to WHO. Who is first tabernacle? Mother Mary the woman of the Eucharist (Ecclesia De Eucharistia, Pope John Paul 2, no:53) is the First Tabernacle (Ecclesia De Eucharistia, Pope John Paul 2, no:55) . She experienced the Eucharist, the Great Miracle of Love(Mane Nobiscum Domine, Pope John Paul 2, no:30) in the following manner as seen in the , Gospel of St.Luke (St.Luke 1:26-45) and thus became the First Tabernacle and the Mother of Life.

Pro-Life Movement

“Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government; they are every human being’s entitlement by virtue of his humanity. Theright to life does not depend, and must not be contingent, on the pleasure of anyone else, not even a parent or sovereign. How canthere be too many children? That is like saying there are too many flowers.” – Mother Theresa.

“The unborn child is entitled to its right to life independently of its acceptance by its mother; this is an elementary and inalienable right which emanates from the dignity of the human being.” The Constitutional Court of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Without knowing this great mystery of life, men promote abortion, promote Euthanasia( “It is I who bring both death and life” (Dt 32:39): the tragedy of euthanasia, Ioannes Paulus PP. II Evangelium vitae, no: 64 ) and they forget the Gospel of Old Age. (“Special attention must be given to the elderly. While in some cultures older people remain a part of the family with an important and active role, in others the elderly are regarded as a useless burden and are left to themselves. Here the temptation to resort to euthanasia can more easily arise.

Neglect of the elderly or their outright rejection are intolerable. Their presence in the family, or at least their closeness to the family in cases where limited living space or other reasons make this impossible, is of fundamental importance in creating a climate of mutual interaction and enriching communication between the different age-groups. It is therefore important to preserve, or to re-establish where it has been lost, a sort of “covenant” between generations. In this way parents, in their later years, can receive from their children the acceptance and solidarity which they themselves gave to their children when they brought them into the world.

This is required by obedience to the divine commandment to honour one’s father and mother (cf. Ex 20:12; Lev 19:3). But there is more. The elderly are not only to be considered the object of our concern, closeness and service. They themselves have a valuable contribution to make to the Gospel of life. Thanks to the rich treasury of experiences they have acquired through the years, the elderly can and must be sources of wisdom and witnesses of hope and love.” Ioannes Paulus PP. II Evangelium vitae, no:94)

Anything against life happens because mankind is under the sin of spiritual abortion, the God of love is aborted from their hearts. They are rarely aware of this great sin. Many suffer from poverty, because they experience the poverty of love, being away from theGreat Miracle of Love . Early Christian Community is an example for this love (Acts 1:14, 2:42, 4:32,34 etc.) The patron St.Joseph would intercede for purity of heart with which we are able to see the Love of God.

“ The Gospel of life is at the heart of Jesus’ message. Lovingly received day after day by the Church, it is to be preached with dauntless fidelity as “good news” to the people of every age and culture.At the dawn of salvation, it is the Birth of a Child which is proclaimed as joyful news: “I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk 2:10-11).

The source of this “great joy” is the Birth of the Saviour; but Christmas also reveals the full meaning of every human birth, and the joy which accompanies the Birth of the Messiah is thus seen to be the foundation and fulfilment of joy at every child born into the world (cf. Jn 16:21).When he presents the heart of his redemptive mission, Jesus says: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn 10:10). In truth, he is referring to that “new” and “eternal” life which consists in communion with the Father, to which every person is freely called in the Son by the power of the Sanctifying Spirit. It is precisely in this “life” that all the aspects and stages of human life achieve their full significance.”( Ioannes Paulus PP. II Evangelium vitae, no:2)

“What stronger aspiration is there than that of life?” he asked. “And yet on this universal human aspiration threatening shadows are gathering — the shadow of a culture that denies the respect of life at all its stages, the shadow of an indifference that sends countless people to a destiny of hunger and underdevelopment.”(Monday October 18, 4:26 am, VATICAN CITY (AFP) – Pope John Paul II thanked well-wishers who celebrated the 26th anniversary of his election as pontiff but warned of “threatening shadows” hanging over humanity.)

“To be truly a people at the service of life we must propose these truths constantly and courageously from the very first proclamation of the Gospel, and thereafter in catechesis, in the various forms of preaching, in personal dialogue and in all educational activity. Teachers, catechists and theologians have the task of emphasizing the anthropological reasons upon which respect for every human life is based.
In this way, by making the newness of the Gospel of life shine forth, we can also help everyone discover in the light of reason and of personal experience how the Christian message fully reveals what man is and the meaning of his being and existence. We shall find important points of contact and dialogue also with nonbelievers, in our common commitment to the establishment of a new culture of life.

Faced with so many opposing points of view, and a widespread rejection of sound doctrine concerning human life, we can feel that Paul’s entreaty to Timothy is also addressed to us: ‘Preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing impatience and in teaching’ (2 Tim 4:2). This exhortation should resound with special force in the hearts of those members of the Church who directly share, in different ways, in her mission as ‘teacher’ of the truth.

May it resound above all for us who are bishops: we the first ones called to be untiring preachers of the Gospel of life. We are also entrusted with the task of ensuring that the doctrine which is once again being set forth in this encyclical is faithfully handed on in its integrity. We must use appropriate means to defend the faithful from all teaching which is contrary to it.

We need to make sure that in theological faculties, seminaries and Catholic institutions sound doctrine is taught, explained and more fully investigated.[Veritatis Splendor, August 6, 1993] May Paul’ s exhortation strike a chord in all theologians, pastors, teachers and in all those responsible for catechesis and the formation of consciences. Aware of their specific role, may they never be so grievously irresponsible as to betray the truth and their own mission by proposing personal ideas contrary to the Gospel of life as faithfully presented and interpreted by the Magisterium.

In the proclamation of this Gospel, we must not fear hostility or unpopularity, and we must refuse any compromise or ambiguity which might conform us to the world’s way of thinking (cf. Rom 12:2). We must be in the world but not of the world (cf.Jn 15:19; 17:16), drawing our strength from Christ, who by his death and resurrection has overcome the world (cf. Jn 16:33).” – Pope John Paul II

For this world to experience love they should be drawn close to the Blessed Sacrament, Eucharist, the Great Miracle of Love. A human life from the first moment of conception to the last moment of death in body, and from the beginning to the endless time in soul should experience this Great Miracle of Love. For this it is a must they should be in the First Tabernacle where the Great Miracle of Love, the Blessed Sacrament has been continuously taking place.

At the first moments of conception Mother Mary visited St. Elizabeth and she called Mary, Mother of God ( St.Luke 1:43) .

Click here for the Spiritual Style of First Tabernacle Ministry

From Directors’ Chair

“I thank the Lord for the Graces showered on The First Tabernacle Ministry. How much i wish that the following wish of Church through the following is continued in perfection through the ministry

Filled with this certainty, and moved by profound concern for the destiny of every man and woman, I repeat what I said to those families who carry out their challenging mission amid so many difficulties: 135 a great prayer for life is urgently needed, a prayer which will rise up throughout the world. Through special initiatives and in daily prayer, may an impassioned plea rise to God, the Creator and lover of life, from every Christian community, from every group and association, from every family and from the heart of every believer. Jesus himself has shown us by his own example that prayer and fasting are the first and most effective weapons against the forces of evil (cf. Mt 4:1-11). As he taught his disciples, some demons cannot be driven out except in this way (cf. Mk 9:29). Let us therefore discover anew the humility and the courage to pray and fast so that power from on high will break down the walls of lies and deceit: the walls which conceal from the sight of so many of our brothers and sisters the evil of practices and laws which are hostile to life. May this same power turn their hearts to resolutions and goals inspired by the civilization of life and love ( Bl. JOANNES PAULUS PP. II EVANGELIUM VITAE No. 100).

Requesting your continued blessing-filled prayer Yours in Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament through the First Tabernacle.”


Fr Joy Thottamkara MCBS

First Tabernacle



U.C.College P.O,

Kerala, India-683102

Other Contacts:-

Click here for Official Website

Email: joykarunya@gmail.com


0091 484 2608620

0091 484 6455943


Message of Pope on World Day of the Sick 2013

Message of Pope on World Day of the Sick 2013

ബെനഡിക്റ്റ് പതിനാറാമന്‍ പാപ്പായുടെ ലോക രോഗീദിന സന്ദേശം

(11 ഫെബ്രുവര 2013)

Here is the Malayalam translation of the Message of Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI on 21 World Day of the Sick. Universal Church celebrates the World Day of the Sick on 2013 February 11th, the liturgical memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes. I would be wonderful if we could instruct our faithful to pray for the health workers as well as the health ministry of the Church.

Holy Childhood Circular form KCBC / Thirubalasakhyam

KCBC Circular – Thirubalasakyam 2013

This is the Circular from KCBC on Holy Childhood Sunday 2013 by the KCBC Vocation Commission Chairman, His Grace Archbishop Mar Joseph Perumthottam. This year Church celebrates the Holy Childhood Sunday on 10 February 2013. Holy Childhood association with the motto “children helping children”, promotes them to pray and to offer financial help, so that children in the missions today may know Christ and experience His love and care.

Theology of Liturgy

I. What is Liturgy?

1. Etymological Meaning

The English word liturgy comes from the Latin word Liturgia which in turn has its origin from the Greek word leitourgia (from the Greek verb leitourgein).  For the Greek people leitourgia meant “public work” or “a service in the name of or on behalf of the people”.  In the Greek Churches this term was used to designate the public worship, especially the divine liturgy.  Once the term is applied to the Christian worship its original meaning as service is retained to certain extent.  This term was popularized in the nineteenth century.  Before the 20th century this term hardly occurs in the official Church documents. (The other terms in vogue in the Middle Ages: Divine Office or Ecclesiastical Office; From 16th century terms like Ecclesiastical rites or Sacred Rites were preferred.)

            In the NT the word liturgy is used to mean the celebration of Divine worship and also the proclamation of the Gospel and active charity. (Cf. Lk 1.23;  Acts 13.2; Rom15.16,27; 2 Cor 9.12; Phil 2.25,30.)  At all these occasions liturgy is a question of the service of God and neighbour.  CCC 1070.

Therefore what is the Christian liturgy?

Liturgy is not mere prayer.  It is not some devotion.  It is not something of the individual. It is a service of the public.  It is indeed the love. Liturgy =Service =Love

The Malayalam word ārādhanakramam does not convey properly the reality of liturgy.  The word kramam refers to the order to be kept in the celebration and in that sense it suits more for the text of the liturgy.  The expression Divine Worship is a substitute for liturgy.  However, the notion of service and love lacks here.  If the words worship or adoration are taken to mean also service and love, then only they can mean the true reality of liturgy. (If it is adoration that which takes place in liturgy, then it is God who adores men and men adore God only as a response.)

2. Liturgy according to Mediator Dei; Sacrosanctum Concilium, CCC

a.)  “The Sacred Liturgy is the public worship which our Redeemer as the head of the Church renders to the Father, as well as the worship which the community of the faithful renders to its founder and through him to the heavenly Father.  In short, it is the public worship rendered by the mystical body of Christ in entirety of its head and members.” (Mediator Dei, Para 20, Encyclical of Pope Pius XII, Nov. 20, 1947).

b.)  “The liturgy is rightly seen as an exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ.  It involves the presentation of man’s sanctification under the guise of signs perceptible by the senses and its accomplishment in ways appropriate to each of these signs.  In it full public worship is performed by the mystical Body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the Head and his members.” (Sacrosanctum Concilium -7, Para 3: in Vatican II Documents)

            Through the liturgy Christ, our Redeemer and High Priest continues the work of redemption in, with and through his Church.

Liturgy is for the experience of salvation.  In liturgy the Church celebrates above all the paschal mystery by which Christ accomplished the work of salvation.  CCC 1067.

“For it is the liturgy through which, especially in the divine sacrifice of the Eucharist, “the work of our redemption is accomplished”, and it is through the liturgy especially, that the faithful are enabled to express in their lives and manifest to others the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the Church. SC 2.

“Nevertheless the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; it is also the fount from which all her power flows.” SC 10

“In the earthly liturgy we take part in a foretaste of the heavenly liturgy which is celebrated in the Holy City of Jerusalem toward which we journey as pilgrims, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, Minister of the holies and of the true tabernacle. (Rev 21.2; Col 3.1; Heb 8.2) SC 8.

In Christian tradition liturgy means the “participation of the people of God in the Work of God” (Jn 17.4) CCC 1069.

·         Explain the concepts of Sanctification and Šawtaputha. (See class notes.)

3. Contents of Liturgy

a. Sacraments: Liturgy consists essentially of sacraments among which Eucharistic celebration is the most important one.  Eucharist is the sacrament of sacraments.

b. Liturgy of Hours:  It is devised to make the whole course of the day and night holy by the praise of God.  It is truly the voice of the Bride (Church) addressed to her Bridegroom (Christ).  It is the very prayer which Christ himself together with his Body addresses to his Father. In the liturgy of Hours Christ continues his priestly work through his Church.  CCC 1174,1175.

c. Sacramentals: Blessing of persons (eg. blessing of the abbot or abbess of a monastery, the consecration of virgins, the rite of the religious profession, and blessing of certain ministries of the Church -minor orders-); of meals, objects and places (dedication or blessing of the church or an altar, the blessing of holy oils, vessels and vestments, bells etc.)

4. Popular Piety (Devotions)

Expressions of popular piety like adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, veneration of relics, visit to sanctuaries, pilgrimages, processions, the stations of the cross, religious dances, the rosary, medals etc. extend the liturgical life of the Church.  They do not replace liturgy.  Expressions of piety should harmonize with the liturgical seasons, accord with the sacred liturgy and in some way derived from it and lead the people to it.  Liturgy by its very nature is far superior to any of them. SC 13, 3.  CCC 1674, 1675

  • What is the real difference between liturgy and devotions? (See class notes.)

II. Liturgy as Leitourgia of God and Man

1. Leitourgia  of the Holy Trinity (CCC 1077-1109)

a. Work of the Father

Father is the source and goal of liturgy.  He takes the initiative for the liturgy.  From the part of the believers liturgy is only a response of participation in the blessings offered by the Father.  Liturgy may be seen as the exchange of blessings between the Father and the believers.  Father bestows his blessings upon us.  From the beginning until the end of time the whole of God’s work is a blessing.  His blessings include the creation, the Word and the Gift.  Thus creation, redemption and ongoing sanctification is the blessing of the Father. Concretely the redemption and sanctification are the main work of God towards the humankind.  From the part of man liturgy means acknowledging the work of creation, redemption and sanctification.  The Father is acknowledged and adored as the source and end of all the blessings of creation and salvation.

In the Eucharistic liturgy we can find this exchange of the blessings.  Father sends His Son and Holy Spirit to the believers.  In His Word who became incarnate, died, and rose for us, he fills us with his blessings.  Through his Word, he pours into our hearts the Gift that contains all gifts.  The believers praise and thank the Father through the prayers (mainly the g’hanta prayers) of the Quddaša.  The historical Qurbana that the Father offered to us in Jesus Christ is sacramentally enacted in the Eucharist.

  • How does the Eucharistic celebration in the Syro-Malabar tradition become the celebration of God’s creation, mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit? (See class notes.)

b. Work of Christ

Jesus is re-enacting the work of salvation in the liturgy.  Christ makes present his paschal mystery.   His paschal mystery transcends the time and participates in the divine eternity.  In liturgy Christ makes present this eternal reality of the salvific event.

  • Liturgy is the commemoration of the raza of Christ. What are the different levels of commemoration in liturgy? Explain. (See class notes.)
  • Explain the katabatic and anabatic dimensions of Qurbana. (See class notes.)

In liturgy Christ plays a double role.  On the one hand he represents the Father and offers the salvation and sanctification in the Spirit.  On the other, he remains the head of the Church and hence turns to the Father along with the community of the faithful.  Christ offers himself to the Father.  He offers us also along with him.  He renders eucharistia to the Father on behalf of the Church.  In the commemoration of the Paschal mystery Christ is the protagonist.

c. Work of the Holy Spirit

Holy Spirit prepares the Church to encounter her Lord.  He recalls and makes Christ manifest to the faith of the assembly (CCC 1092).  The grace of the Holy Spirit seeks to awaken faith, conversion of heart and adherence to the will of the Father. (CCC 1098) He awakens the memory of the Church and inspires her to thanksgiving and praise.  Thus the Holy Spirit is the living memory of the Church.  In every liturgical action the Holy Spirit is sent in order to bring us into communion with Christ and so to form his body.  The Holy Spirit effects two kinds of sanctification in the liturgy: the sanctification of the mysteries and the sanctification of the assembly.  It is through the communion of the mysteries that the Holy Spirit effects sanctification of the assembly.  Communion with the Holy Trinity and fraternal communion are inseparably the fruit of the Spirit in the liturgy.


  • How is the work of sanctification by the Holy Spirit envisaged in the epiclesis of the Anaphora of Addai and Mari. (See the taksa of Syro-Malabar Qurbana).
  • How far is this function of the Spirit revealed in the Syriac name Ruha d’ Qudša?


2. Leitourgia of Man


a. Liturgy as the Work of the Church

As the work of Christ liturgy is also an action of his Church. Liturgy makes the Church present and manifests her as the visible sign of the communion in Christ between God and men.  Church is made present in the liturgical assembly and especially in the eucharistic assembly.  Therefore, it is said: Eucharist makes the Church.  It is through celebrating the communion (both vertical and horizontal) that the liturgical assembly is constituting the Church.

Church makes the Eucharist. Liturgy is not a private affair. It is the work of the entire mystical body.

·         Can liturgy be privatized? (See class notes.)

Leitourgia of the assembly (Vertical dimension): The eucharistia (Qudasha) and Qurbana offered to God from the part of the assembly.

Leitourgia of the assembly (Horizontal dimension): Horizontal reconciliation; Qurbana (of oneself) offered to the fellow beings; See also the explanation of the title Mass (See class notes).

III. Liturgical Space-time

1. Sacred and Profane

            In the history of religions there has always been a distinction between sacred and profane.  Man, especially the primitive man, had a feeling of terror before the sacred, before the awe-inspiring mystery (mysterium tremendum), the majesty that emanates an overwhelming superiority of power.  It is religious fear before the fascinating mystery.  R. Otto characterizes all these experiences as numinous (in Latin numen -God).  The numinous presents itself as the “wholly other”, something basically and totally different.  It is like nothing human or cosmic.  Confronted with it, man realizes his profound nothingness, feels that he is only a creature, or as Abraham said to the Lord, is “ but dust and ashes” (Gen 18.27).  The recognition of the distinction between the sacred and the profane constitutes the basis of religion.

            Man becomes aware of the sacred because it manifests itself, shows itself, as something wholly different from the profane.  M. Eliade calls this act of manifestation of the sacred as ‘hierophany’.  History of religion consists of a great number of theophanies, by manifestations of sacred realities.

2. Sacred Space-time

            To the religious man space is not homogeneous.  There are certain breaks in the continuity of space, distinguishing the sacred from the profane. He experiences interruptions and breaks in it.  A church or temple constitutes a break in the profane space of a city. Some parts of the space are qualitatively different from others. Ex 3.5: “Do not come near; put off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” Thus there is the holy or sacred space.  It is strong and significant.  The religious man finds it as the only real and really existing space.  All other space is “not sacred” or “profane”.  According to Mircea Eliade, ordinary or profane space is without structure or consistency, and is, therefore, amorphous. Eliade makes another distinction in the conception of space: cosmos and chaos.  Cosmos is an inhabited territory, the work of the gods.  It is ordered space.  But on the other hand the outside territory is chaos, having no order or limits.

            For the religious man, time, too, is neither homogeneous nor continuous.  There are intervals of sacred time. Just as a church or temple constitutes a break in the profane space of a city, the service celebrated inside it marks a break in the profane duration of time.

            The believing man experiences two types of sacred space-time: one is sacred in its origin itself, the other is his own creation.  He sees the cosmic phenomena such as stars, planets, solar and lunar eclipses, sunrise, air, fire, water, mountains, stones, trees, etc. as sacred. Sometimes he creates sacred space-time by consecrating ordinary space and time.  Sanctuaries, and the time of offerings, feasts, etc. are examples of such consecrated space and time.  The enclosure, wall, or circle of stones surrounding a sacred place constitute the most ancient known forms of man-made sanctuaries.  The most primitive sacred places, a landscape of stones, water and trees, constituted a microcosm.  Sacred place in its primitive form is a microcosm, because it reproduces the natural landscape; because it is a reflection of the whole.  The altar and the temple, later developments of the sacred place, are microcosms because they are the centres of the world, because they stand at the very heart of the universe and constitute an imago mundi.


3. The Function of Sacred Space-time: Divine-Human Communication

            Why is there sacred space-time?  As regards the sanctuaries, we get an answer from Chaldean cosmogony, which holds that the very creation of humanity was for constructing an abode for the gods. The history of religion tells us that man has always had the desire for an ordered space where communication with the divine is possible.  Consecration is cosmicization or creation of a cosmic region which is always in communication with the world of the gods.  The sacred establishes order, fixes the limits, and founds the world.  With the creation of sacred space-time, this communication with the world of gods is ensured. The most ancient sanctuaries were hypaethral or built with an aperture in the roof – the `eye of the dome’ – symbolizing the breakthrough from plane to plane, communication with the transcendent. Sacred space-time thus constitutes the entrance to non-space-time.

4. Sacred Space and Time according to the Israelites

            The Israelites accepted much of the religious symbolism of the peoples they encountered in the course of history, including Mesopotamian and Canaanite influence. The Canaanites exerted special influence on the religious views of the Israelites. Therefore, in our attempt to understand the meaning of sacred space and time according to the Israelites, we shall make occasional comparisons with the Canaanite religion.

4.1. Sacred and Profane

            The Israelites were well aware of the separation between the sacred and the profane. A clear distinction is made between profane and sacred space when Moses approached the sacred space on Horeb, the ‘mountain of God’: “Do not come near; put off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground” (Ex 3.5).  The sacred is always dangerous to anyone who comes into contact with it without having gone through the preparatory ‘gestures of approach’ that every religious act demands.

            According to the Jewish understanding, sacredness or holiness was primarily an attribute of God, marking his transcendent separation from all creatures.  Secondarily, it was an attribute of those persons and things set apart for intimate contact with God (Lev 21.6-8). Thus the sacredness of space-time is a participation in God’s holiness.

            The vision of the new temple in the book of Ezekiel (Ezek 40-44) conveys the theological importance Israel attached to sacred space-time.  For the Israelites, the proper distinction between sacred and profane space-time was something essential to the ethos of the people of God.  The violation of this distinction resulted in the disappearance of God’s presence from among them, and consequently their destruction.  Throughout the book of Ezekiel the emphasis is on Israel’s cultic pollution and profanation as the cause of its destruction and exile. Ezekiel was convinced that the sins of Yahweh’s people had driven his presence (‘glory’) away from the temple (Ezek 8.6; 9.3; 10.18-19; 11.22-23).

            There are restrictions on the communication between the sacred and the profane (Ezek 42.14; 44.19; 46.20). The description of the two separate cooking areas (Ezek 46.19-24) where the sacrifices eaten by the priests and laity were prepared, makes clear how the distinction between the sacred and profane is maintained.

            There is a detailed architectural description of the temple in Ezekiel’s vision of the temple.  The reason for the careful measurement of the entire temple complex (Ezek 42.15-20) is precisely the separation of the sacred from the profane. The vision of the new temple emphasizes the reestablishment of a proper cultic sanctity of land and people.  Ezekiel sees a new temple where the distinction between the sacred and the profane is perfectly maintained.

            The walls around the temple complex, six cubits high and six cubits thick (Ezek 40.5), form a separation between the holy and the common (Ezek 42.20).  Further protection of the sanctity of the temple complex is provided by an area stretching fifty cubits beyond the walls on all sides, which is to be left open (Ezek 45.2). It is stated in Ezek 43.10 that such a description of the temple area is intended for the conversion of the people of Israel. This conversion is understood as the decision to respect the difference between sacred and profane space-time.

4.2. Sacred Mountains

            The Canaanite tradition of associating the divine abode with the mountains influenced the Israelites.  Most of the Canaanite sanctuaries were linked to mountains. The surroundings of Mount Hermon had so many temples that the whole mountain was considered a holy place.

            The OT speaks of Mount Zion as the mountain of Yahweh. “Remember Mount Zion, where thou hast dwelt” (Ps 74.2). It serves as the great mountain of divine communication.  Ezekiel’s vision of the temple (Ezek 40.2) states that the temple is upon a very high mountain, Zion, the place of the temple just above the city. The expression ‘very high mountain’ is a commonplace in the symbolism of sacred space.

4.3. Sacred Stones

            Sacred stones called ansab were used to mark sacred places.  The nomads saw certain rocks as abodes of the angels. They came to such rocks for prayer and sacrifice. The Syrians used to adore the god Adadu in the form of the stones noted for their resemblance to parts of the human body like the eyes, fingers and kidneys. The primitive altar was nothing other than a large stone on which blood was shed.  Therefore, sacred stones represent altars. The sacred stone is a habitation of the god, roughly akin to the temple and the statue. It may also be considered a type of the altar and throne.

            Jacob called the place where he had the dream of a ladder between heaven and earth ‘Bethel’, meaning house of God (Gen 28.10-22).  “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” Gen 28.17.  Jacob set up for a pillar the stone which he had put under his head, and poured oil on top of it (Gen 28.18).  “…this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house…” (Gen 28.22).  Is 19.19 prophesies the installation of a pillar to the Lord at the border of Egypt. In Solomon’s temple there were two free standing pillars, called Jachin and Boaz.

4.4. Consecrated Space

            In the history of Israel’s sanctuaries we can distinguish the period of the patriarchs, the tabernacle, the sanctuaries after the conquest of Canaan, and the temple.

a. Patriarchal Sanctuaries

            In the period of the patriarchs, there were special spaces consecrated to God.  Abraham built an altar at Shechem (Gen 12.6-7).  Jacob built an altar at Bethel (Gen 35.1-9,14-15; 28.18-19),  taking over an already existing Canaanite shrine and dedicating it to the one true God.  As a memorial of God’s revelation at Beer-Sheba, Isaac built there an altar (Gen 26.23-25). However, according to Gen 21.33, Abraham established this shrine, planting a tamarisk tree there, and calling on the name of the Lord, the everlasting God.

b. Tabernacle

            The tabernacle or tent was probably a portable sanctuary during the exodus. It indicates the presence of Yahweh among a group of nomadic people. Moses relied on it in order to consult Yahweh and learn his will (Ex 33.7,11; Num 12.8).  In the later tradition a new word miškan is preferred to the ordinary word for tent, ‘Ohel. This new term emphasizes the abiding presence of Yahweh among his people.

            Ex 26; 36.8-38 deals with the important architectural features of the tabernacle.  It was a rectangular wooden framework (45ft x 15ft x 15ft). One curtain closed off the eastern entry, another of more precious material was placed 15 ft from the western end. Thus the holy place was separated from the ‘holy of holies’.  Here the Ark of the Covenant was kept.  In the holy place were the seven-branched candlestick and the table for the Loaves of Presence.  Outside the entrance were the altar and the laver used for the ritual purification.  The tent was surrounded by a large courtyard, 150 ft x 75 ft marked off by a system of bronze posts to which were affixed silver rods, and from which hung linen drapes.

            The Ark was the locus of God’s presence in Israel (1 Sam 4.7, 22).  It is God’s footstool (1 Sam 4.4) and throne (1 Chron 28.2; Ps 99.5; 132.7; Lam 2.1; Is 66.1).  The Ark was also the depository for the tablets of the decalogue (Deut 10.1-5).  When the Ark was destroyed during the Babylonian exile, no new Ark was built because the New Jerusalem in its entirety would be Yahweh’s throne (Jer 3.16-17).  A kapporet (mercy seat) (Ex 25.17-22; 37.6-9) was installed in the Second Temple, perhaps as a substitute for the Ark when the latter was no longer in existence. In the post exilic period God’s mysterious presence was focused on the kapporet.

c. The Temple

            For the Israelites, the temple was the sacred space par excellence.  While referring to the temple area Ezek 43.12 says: “…the whole territory round about upon the top of the mountain shall be most holy.” “…Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the people of Israel for ever” (Ezek 43.7). There are explicit references to the temple as the abode of Yahweh, which he himself consecrated: “…I have consecrated this house which you have built, and put my name there for ever; my eyes and my heart will be there for all time” (1 Kings 9.3).

            The temple had three parts: a porch or vestibule (‘ulam); the sanctuary (hêkal) with lampstands, the table of showbread, and the altar of incense; and the ‘holy of holies’ (dbîr) that held the ark of the covenant. The general structure of Solomon’s temple (1 Kings 6) was similar to Phoenician and Canaanite models: a tripartite building facing east, comprising an outer porch (‘ulam), a sanctuary or holy place (hêkal) and an innermost holy place or ‘holy of holies’ (dbîr). The Canaanite temple of Hazor at Galilea provides a close parallel to the ground plan of Solomon’s temple.

            The Jews built their temple with due respect for cosmic symbolism.  The court of the temple represented the sea (that is, the lower regions), the holy place represented earth, and the Holy of Holies, heaven. The Temple of Jerusalem had a temporal symbolism also.  The twelve loaves of bread on the table signified the twelve months of the year and the candelabrum with seventy branches represented the decans (the zodiacal division of the seven planets into tens).

d. Altars

            Israel shared with other peoples the religious practice of sacrifice, and therefore had an altar similar to that of the neighbouring peoples. There were certain outdoor altars called bamâ, literally ‘high place’.  These were open air places of worship, not a temple or sanctuary.  They served as altars where sacrificial offerings could be made without the intervention of a priest. The architectural features of the altar of Ezekiel’s vision resemble that of a Babylonian temple-tower or Ziggurat, on a miniature scale. The altar, like the Ziggurat, is the place of visitation where God’s presence comes. The altar was a sign of divine presence.

            The altar is the most holy object, and therefore, whatever touches the altar becomes holy (Ex 29.37).  The altar of holocausts (Ex 29.37; 40.10) and the altar of incense (Ex 30.10) were particularly holy and could be served only by the priests (Lev 21.6; 1 Chron 23.13).  The altar of holocausts had to be consecrated before it could be used (Ex 29.36-37; Lev 8.15). The altar is also called the ‘Lord’s table’ (Mal 1.12; Ezek 44.16).

 4.5. Liturgical Time

            The symbolism of time had a decisive impact on the religious life of a Hebrew.  For him the matter of supreme importance was not time in its mathematical measurement but time in its actual content and moral quality. History, to the Hebrews, was first and foremost a pattern of covenant-times.  They celebrated those times with thankfulness and rejoicing and looked forward to the time of the new and determinative covenant when past and present would find their fulfilment in the final day of God.  Hebrews believed that God chose special times to fulfil his special purposes. They insisted on celebrating two symbolic times in their life: the annual Passover festival and the weekly Sabbath.  While these festivals were being celebrated the past became a reality of present experience in faith.  The ritual celebration leads this reality into future, providing the hope that what God had done in the past he would do again on an even wider and grander scale.

5. Space-time of Christian Liturgy: Signs and Symbols of Liturgy

Sacred space, sacred time, sacred persons, sacred objects, sacred words and music, sacred gestures and actions are all symbols which realize the celebration of the paschal mystery and the salvific encounter with Christ.  It is through these signs and symbols that Christ accomplishes the work of our redemption

The sacramental celebration is the mystery of Christ celebrated in space and time.  A sacramental celebration is woven from signs and symbols.  Their meaning is rooted in the work of creation and human culture, specified by the events of Old Testament and fully revealed in the person and work of Christ (CCC 1145).  As a social being man needs signs and symbols to communicate with others, through language, gestures, and actions.  The same holds true for his relationship with God. (Signs and symbols of creation: candles, water, fire; signs and symbols of human life: washing, anointing, breaking bread; and signs and symbols of the history of salvation (rites of Passover).

The sacraments of the Church do not abolish but purify and integrate all the richness of the signs and symbols of the cosmos and of social life.  Further, they fulfil the types and figures of the Old Covenant, they signify and make present the salvation wrought by Christ, and prefigure and anticipate the glory of heaven.  In sacramental symbolism the signs effect what they signify.  The word sign is the word used in classical theology.  Modern anthropologists prefer the term symbol.

  • Christian liturgical space-time a symbolic whole

The entire liturgy is made up of the signs and symbols of space-time.  Therefore, liturgy may be considered as a symbolic whole.  The unity of symbols is much emphasized for a proper liturgical celebration.  It is more appropriate to consider the liturgical space-time as a symbolic whole rather than speaking of different symbols in the liturgy.

Liturgy is celebration or commemoration of the paschal mystery of Christ.  Participation in it would enable the participant attain salvation.  The symbols serve like windows or doors to the saving reality of the salvific event.  They make one experience the eternal reality of salvation, here and now.  Without properly recognizing the worth of the symbols one cannot practise properly the religion.

  • Liturgical space-time is the paschal mystery of Christ in space-time; Its purpose is sanctification of God and sanctification of man through space-time.

a. Liturgical Space

            Christian sacred space-time is the convergence of heavenly space and earthly space, heavenly time and earthly time, heavenly persons and earthly persons. There is the real encounter between heaven and earth.

            According to the author of Revelation, the Christian sacred space is Christ himself (Rev 21.22). He is the true altar (madbaha qusta). (HAzy 4.26) Being the space of Christ, the church building is the meeting place of heaven and earth.  The symbolism of the liturgical architecture reveals this. The haikla represents the place of the people of God who are still in the earthly Church.  The bema represents earthly Jerusalem and as such the place of the accomplishment of the salvific mystery of Jesus.  The sanctuary is the symbol of heaven, the ‘space’ of the glorified Lord.  The qesroma serves as the intermediary space between heaven and earth.  The šqaqona represents the pathway between heaven and earth.  However, the symbolic distinction is not very sharp.  The sanctuary and the altar within it have a dynamic symbolism.  They represent heavenly and earthly realities, and therefore symbolize the evident convergence of heavenly and earthly space.  The altar is Lord’s tomb, the throne of God, and the table of the Kingdom (pathura malkutha).

  • Liturgical Space of Syro-Malabar tradition (with diagram): (See class notes.)
  • What is the theological significance of central bema? How does it agree with the theology of the Liturgy of Word in the East Syrian tradition? (See class notes.)

            Liturgical space symbolizes heaven and earth, but not alone or exclusively.  It is the presence of Christ symbolized through persons, and the prayers and actions of Christ symbolized through the prayers and actions of the persons, which give to the liturgical space the power of representing heaven and earth.  The convergence of these symbolic elements in the sacred time of liturgy makes possible: not only between heavenly and earthly space, but between the heavenly and earthly space-time. Commenting on the Sanctus  of the East Syrian Qurbana, the Anonymous Author (10th/11th century ) says: “…This means, heaven and earth have been already made one Church; neither heaven is heaven nor earth is earth because the time and space composite have been dissolved; for heaven is the heaven of earth and earth is the earth of heaven.”

            For the Church, the space-time of Christ in the liturgy is the space-time of salvation.  It is the new space and time of salvation.  The Lord comes to the earthly Jerusalem, we hear his words, we experience his healing touch, our sins are forgiven, we participate in his passion, we enter with him and the Good Thief into the Paradise.

            Liturgical space-time parallels the ladder of Jacob (Gen 28.12). Indeed it is more than Jacob’s ladder, which was only a passage between heaven and earth along which only angels went up and down.  In liturgical space-time God himself comes down to humans, preaches to them, makes them worthy to enter heaven.  Finally he comes down with the heavenly food, his own body and blood.  On the one hand, God is entering our space-time; on the other, we are entering God’s space-time. The veil of the OT was rather a barrier preventing the access to the sacred. According to Heb 10.19, it is Christ who has broken this barrier.  Thus we are enabled to enter the sanctuary of God.  We are given the right of access to the space-time of God. In the vision of the author of Hebrews, Christ himself is the sacred space.  He himself is the veil that marks the boundary of sacred and profane space-time.  Being the sacred space-time itself, he is also the door to the sacred space-time.  The veil is symbol of the separation between ordinary and sacred space-time. Even though this veil appears to be a barrier, for Christians it is no longer a barrier to the space-time of God but rather the door to it.

Liturgy is celebrated in the sacred space, namely church, dedicated for that purpose.  Church building is the House of God.  It is the meeting place of heaven and earth.  “To enter into the House of God, we must cross a threshold, which symbolizes passing from the world wounded by sin to the world of the new Life to which all men are called.  The visible church is a symbol of the Father’s House toward which the People of God is journeying and where the Father ‘will wipe every tear from their tears’.” CCC 1186.

            Church building is not a mere gathering place, but it makes visible the Church living in that place, the dwelling of God with men reconciled and united with Christ. CCC 1180.  Syro-Malabar church (building) is divided into three sections.: Madbaha (therein we have the altar and the beth gazzas.), qestroma (the place of choir and ministers), haikla (the place of the faithful).  In the middle of haikla there is bema, the space for the celebration of the liturgy of Word.  Madbaha is separated from the haikla by a veil. (Madbaha represents heaven, haikla-earth; bema-earthly Jerusalem.

  • Eschatological dimension of Christian liturgical space-time

Explain the theological significance of facing East in prayer. (See class notes.)


b. Liturgical Time

In liturgy time is symbolic.  According to the Christian understanding, liturgical time is the time of salvation, which is symbolically experienced in liturgy.  Liturgical time is the symbol of heavenly time.  According to Narsai of Nisibis (399-502) it is a life-giving time for those who believe and receive the gift of the hour.  In liturgy, especially in the eucharistic liturgy one transcends the limits of ordinary time.  In liturgy we are participating in the eternal saving act, not that of the past.  Liturgical celebration is not a celebration or repetition of a past event.  It is the eternal liturgy that unfolds in the symbols of the new space and time.

 Sunday or the Lord’s Day is the pre-eminent day for the liturgical celebration.  Sunday is the day of Lord’s resurrection; it is the day of creation; it symbolizes the eschatological day (of heavenly life.)  The liturgical seasons enable the celebration of the entire mystery of Christ in the course of one year (liturgical year).  In the course of the year, Church unfolds the whole mystery of Christ from the incarnation and nativity to the ascension, to Pentecost and the expectation of the blessed hope of the coming of the Lord. (SC 102)  The whole year is divided into different liturgical seasons based on the main feasts of the mystery of salvation.  Each concentrates on a particular aspect of the mystery, without however, neglecting the totality of the mystery.

Liturgy is celebrated in sacred time, which is not limited by past, present and future.  Liturgical time is the time of God; it is the time of salvation.

Liturgical Year

The liturgical year of the Christian East is a rather detailed and intense plan of sanctifying the whole year, rendering the various moments of the history of salvation present.  The liturgical year permeates the entire spiritual life of the faithful. (Instruction 36)  The Eastern faithful prepare for the important feast days through fast and abstinence established by the their respective ecclesial tradition. The feasts of the saints are celebrated in intimate connection with the celebration of the mystery of the salvation.  Thus the calendar of the Eastern Christians differ from that of the Christian West especially in the case of the sanctoral.


Origin and Development of the Liturgical Calendar

0. Introduction

            The present shape of the Christian liturgical calendar is the result of the liturgical and theological evolution through many centuries.  We may find at the origin of the liturgical calendar the concern of the Church to commemorate the paschal mystery of Christ in the course of one year.  The weekly celebration of the salvific mystery on Sunday paved the way for the origin of the celebration of the various aspects of the paschal mystery in the span of an year.  The feasts like Easter, Pentecost, Christmas and Epiphany had a decisive role in the formation of the liturgical year. In the course of the year the Church unfolds the whole mystery of Christ from the incarnation and nativity to the ascension, to pentecost and the expectation of the blessed hope of the coming of the Lord (SC 102).

            The primitive liturgical cycle was of extreme simplicity reflecting the primitive eschatological understanding of liturgy.[1] For the most ancient calendar of the Church the historical commemoration was of little significance. The primitive liturgical calendar consisted originally everywhere of two elements, the observance of two annual feasts, namely Pascha and Pentecost, and of the Lord’s Day on Sunday. At the time of Hippolytus of Rome and Tertullian in Africa, around A.D. 215 and Origen in Egypt around the year A.D. 235, these feasts of the paschal mystery served as the main content of the liturgical calendar.[2]  The Nativity-Epiphany cycle of feasts also had a place in the liturgical calendar of various Churches as early as the second century.

The present paper is an attempt to inquire into the origin and development of the liturgical calendar, analysing the liturgical and theological reasons for the evolution of the calendar.  We may begin our inquiry with the study of Sunday and then study the most important feasts of the liturgical year, namely the feasts of the Easter cycle and the feasts of the Christmas cycle.  We may also examine the development of the cult of saints and its impact on the liturgical calendar of the Church.

1. Sunday

Sunday is the foundation and kernel of the Christian liturgical year (SC 106). Sunday is the innovation of Christians; it was not inherited from the Hebrew cult.  The Christian shaping of the week, giving primary place to Sunday as Lord’s Day, was adopted in all parts of the Church by the end of the first century.[3]  In spite of the absence of any completely indisputable evidence for the Christian observance of Sunday prior to the middle of second century, most scholars believe that it was adopted as early as the first generation of believers.[4] The earliest reason given for celebrating Sunday is that it is the day of the resurrection (Ep.of Barnabas 15.9)[5] The early Christians paid special attention to Sunday mainly because it was the day of the resurrection of the Lord.  (Acts 20.1; 1 Cor 16.2).  It was the day for specially commemorating the Lord and his paschal mystery.  On that day they came together to celebrate the ‘breaking of bread’. To say that Sunday is a weekly celebration of the resurrection is inadequate.  Sunday is the celebration of the entire Pascha.[6]According to Egeria, of the fourth century on every Sunday both the passion and resurrection accounts were read.  The idea of a weekly celebration of the resurrection developed after the fourth century.

Mk 16.2 and parallels assert that it was on the first day of the week, according to the Jewish Calendar, that our Lord rose from the dead. 1 Cor 16.2, and Acts 20.7 speak of Sunday as the first day of the week, and state that there was the gathering of believers on that day. It was the usual expression for Sunday in Syriac-speaking circles.[7] The New Testament texts speak of Sunday as the day of resurrection (Mt 28.1; Mk 16.2; Lk 24.1; Jn 20.1) All these texts refer to Sunday as the first day of the week. Almost all post resurrection appearances fall on Sunday (Mt 28.6-10; Mk 16.9-14; Lk 24:13-15; Jn 20.11-18; Jn 20.19; Jn 20.26-29). Only Jn 21.1ff does not specify that it was on a Sunday. The Greek-speaking communities preferred the term Lord’s Day.[8]  Latin West had its equivalent term Dominica.[9] As early as Tertullian and Cyprian Dominica is the ordinary name for Sunday.[10]  Justin the Martyr speaks of this day as the ‘day of the sun’.[11] While making the Christian day of worship a civil day of rest, Emperor Constantine referred to it as ‘Dies solis’.[12]

There were other reasons for celebrating Sunday.  The gentile Christians took up the Jewish understanding of the first day of the week as the day of creation. “We assemble on the day of the sun because it is the first day, that on which God transformed the darkness and matter to create the world, and also because Jesus Christ our Saviour rose from the dead on the same day.”[13]  From ancient times onwards Sunday is considered as the eighth day, being the image of the eschatological day.[14] It is the day on which God inaugurated a new World.[15] It is the image of the age to come.[16]  Later writers speak about more historical events commemorated on Sunday.  Theodulf in his capitular to the clergy about 800 writes: “On it God established light; on it he rained manna in the wilderness; on it the Redeemer of the human race voluntarily rose from the dead for our salvation; on it he poured out the Holy Spirit upon his disciples…”.[17] Sunday being the day of the descent of the Holy Spirit, it is also called the day of the Spirit.

            It seems likely that Sunday was from its first beginnings a Christian observance independent of the sabbath,[18] though its weekly observance was probably suggested by the existence of sabbath. We find the Church continuing the Jewish prohibition of fasting on Sabbath, which suggests a sense of the continuity with Sabbath rather than a repudiation of it.[19] It is probable that the Jewish Christian Churches insisted on the additional observance of the Jewish sabbath as well as the Christian Sunday.[20] Some Christians of Jewish background continued a measure of Sabbath observance as well.[21] Many modern scholars believe that the first Christians chose Sunday as their Sabbath day in order to differentiate themselves from other Jews, and furthermore that during the first century the Christian eucharist was usually celebrated on Saturday[22] evening, after the sabbath was over and as Sunday began according to the Jewish reckoning of the day.[23] The Epistle of Barnabas presents God rebuking the Jewish observance of sabbath. “It is not your present sabbaths that are acceptable unto Me, but the sabbath which I have made, in which when I have set all things at rest, I will make the beginning with the eighth day, which is the beginning  of another world. Wherefore we (Christians) also keep the eighth day for rejoicing, in which also Jesus rose from the dead, and having been manifested ascended into the heavens”.[24] According to S. Bacchiochi, Sunday originates as a result of an anti-Hebrew polemics, an effort to get away from  Sabbath and its tradition.[25] According to Willy Rordorf, a Swiss protestant, Sunday from the beginning has been associated with the Eucharist. Sunday brings together the resurrection, the post-resurrection appearances, the messianic meal and hence the arrival of the Kingdom.[26]  In 1962 Rordorf suggested that the Christian celebration of Sunday probably arose out of the post resurrection meal appearances of Jesus, many of which seem to have taken place on the first day of the week.  He also argued that the weekly eucharistic assemblies were held at first on Sunday evening rather than Saturday evening, and only later transferred to Sunday morning.[27] Rordorf’s explanation was not accorded a general approbation.  However, later in 1982 a collection of essays by a group of conservative scholars agreed that Christians first began to observe Sunday not as a substitute for the Sabbath but as their day for the corporate worship.[28] In New Testament there is a reinterpretation of the Sabbath. It is reinterpreted in terms of Jesus Christ and our life.  The first Christians were interested in the Sabbath’s symbolic meaning and not in its strict observance.[29]According to the New Testament the only Christian day of celebration is Sunday. Sunday was in the primitive Christian view only the prescribed day for corporate worship.  The early Christians celebrated Sunday not as a day of rest, but as a festival.  It is eschatological in its significance, as representing the inauguration of the ‘world to come’.  It is only secondarily a memorial of the historical fact of the resurrection of Jesus.[30] Later Sunday was considered a day of rest, abstaining from worldly affairs for the sake of prayer. It became a day of rest after 321 when Constantine closed the law-courts and stopped the crafts working on it.[31] The Fathers developed the idea of Sunday rest into a prohibition of all work on Sunday. But this is essentially a Jewish idea.[32]

Sunday was the day of the gathering and breaking of bread. Acts 20.7-12; 1 Cor 16.1-2. In Didache Sunday is the normal day of the Christian assembly.  From as early as Rev 1.10, the Christian day for the eucharistic assembly was known as “the day of Lord” (kyriakê hêmera).[33]

There are three central themes regarding Sunday found from the beginning: resurrection, meals, First Day, and Eighth Day.  Justin the Martyr expresses three themes of resurrection, meals and First Day. He speaks of Sunday as the day of sun.[34]

Attendance at the weekly assembly was regarded as obligatory even in times of persecution.  “We have to celebrate the Lord’s Day, it is our rule.”[35]  “We could not live without celebrating the Lord’s Day. It is our rule. This is the witness of the martyrs of Abitinia.[36]   According to John Chrysostom, “to abstain from this meal is to separate oneself from the Lord.  The Sunday meal is that which we take in common with the Lord and the brethren.[37] The Church was very much conscious of the necessity of the Sunday celebration.  The Syrian Didascalia of the Apostles (Middle of third century) presents Sunday as something essential to the Christian existence. “ …on the Lord’s Day leave every thing and run eagerly to your Church; for she is your glory. Otherwise what excuse have they before God who do not assemble on the Lord’s day to hear the word of life and be nourished by the divine food which abides for ever.”[38]

Because of Sunday’s unique importance, there developed a vigil office (Cf. Acts 20.7-10). This is attested in the East by Egeria in the fourth century (24.8-11) and in the West by various Frankish Councils from 6th cent. It became a day of baptism (other than the Easter vigil and Pentecost vigil).[39] No one was allowed to fast on Sunday or to kneel.[40]

From ninth century the saints’ days were allowed to take precedence over Sunday in the West. The East has maintained the privileged position of Sunday more consistently: only a few feasts, and those connected with the mysteries of Christ, are celebrated on a Sunday.[41]

Sunday was seen as the day for the manifestation or epiphany, of the Church.  During the rest of the week the Church was dispersed and hidden, as its individual members went about their life and work in different places.  But on Sunday the Church came together and revealed itself in the celebration of the eucharist.[42]

2. Pascha

Pascha[43] is the centre of liturgical year. For the first three centuries all celebrations in the Church were based on the Pascha.  The Church celebrates the memory of the Lord’s resurrection once every year, together with his blessed passion, at Easter, the most solemn of all feasts.[44] The entire mystery of Christ, namely his incarnation, passion, death, Resurrection, glorification and the outpouring of the Spirit on the Church, is celebrated during the Pascha.[45]

The Pascha was celebrated once every week as Sunday, and once every year as Easter.[46] Easter is the only feast of Christian year that can plausibly claim to go back to apostolic times. There are two reasons for such an assumption: It must derive from a time when Jewish influence was effective, i.e., during the first century AD, because it depends on the lunar calendar (every other feast depends on the solar calendar); the second reason: for three centuries the Church tolerated its celebration on different days in Asia on 14 Nisan, elsewhere on the Sunday after 14 Nisan because it was acknowledged that there was apostolic authority for both.[47]

In the second century the Pascha was celebrated as a distinct Christian feast.  It was preceded by lent.[48]  The earliest textual evidence to the Christian observance of Pascha comes from the second century document, Epistula Apostolorum, a text written most probably somewhere in Asia Minor, in the second half of the second century.[49] It combined the commemoration of both the death and resurrection of Christ and the celebration of both baptism and the eucharist.[50] Pascha and Pentecost seem to have come down from the Apostolic times like the observance of Sunday. “They are both obviously derived from Jewish feasts, Passover and Pentecost, to which they are related rather more closely in meaning than Sunday is to the sabbath.”[51] Passover refers to the whole complex of spring festival, both the Passover and the feast of Unleavened Bread.  Passover was a spring sacrifice by nomadic shepherds, and Unleavened Bread was a Canaanite agricultural festival adopted by the Hebrews only after their settlement in the land.[52] The feast of Unleavened Bread was a public cultic phenomenon celebrated by the Hebrews with the feast of Weeks and that of the Tabernacles.  However, the feast of Passover seems to have had rather a domestic character. It was a domestic meal, although still of some sacrificial character.[53] Josiah (7th cent. B.C.) united Passover and the feast of Unleavened Bread into a single festival kept at the full on in spring.[54]

The primitive Church celebrated Pascha in the form of a nocturnal festival.  A vigil was held from the evening of Saturday to dawn on Sunday.  In second century it is a unitive commemoration of the death and resurrection of our Lord, a nocturnal celebration of a single night, constituting the Christian Passover.[55] There were the rites like the blessing of the lamp or lamps by the deacon; a series of lections interspersed with chants; sermon by the bishop; solemn baptism and confirmation of the neophytes.[56]

The precise relationship between the Christian Pascha and the Passover of the Law is riddled with questions. In the New Testament itself it is uncertain whether the last supper was a Passover meal.[57] The preparation for the festival in the Synoptics (Mk 14.14; Mt 26.18; Lk 22.8) is surely 14 Nisan and the supper eaten in the night is the Passover feast.  According to this chronology Jesus is crucified on 15 Nisan. The fourth Gospel suggests (Jn 19.32-36) that the Crucifixion took place on 14 Nisan, at the time of the slaying of the lambs for the feast.[58]  This could be more a theologically motivated chronology.  The identification of Jesus as the Passover lamb of the New Covenant is reflected already in 1 Cor 5.7.[59] According to John the crucifixion is at the time of the slaying of lambs for the feast.  According to Paul “ Christ our Passover lamb has been sacrificed for us ( I Cor 5:7).  A.D. 29 was considered to be the year of Jesus’ death. 14 Nisan of that year was March 25. March 25 is found as the fixed date for the paschal observance.  April 6 was also considered the date of Jesus’ death.[60]

According to Gregory Dix, the primitive Pascha has the character of a liturgy of ‘Redemption’ rather than a commemoration of the historical fact of the resurrection of Jesus, such as Easter has with us. Like the Jewish Passover it commemorated a deliverance from bondage, in the case of Christians not from Egypt but from the bondage of sin and time and mortality into ‘the glorious liberty of the children of God (Rom 8.21) and the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ. (2 Pet 1. 11).[61] Pascha being the feast of the redemption was considered the most suitable occasion for the conferring of the sacraments by which redemption is appropriated to the individual -baptism into Christ’s death and resurrection, and confirmation by which the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead is imparted to dwell in the members of His Body.[62]

Pascha is not a historical event.  The feast we celebrate is the result of resurrection.  We are celebrating not an event, not a past/present/future but a person who is present.  Sunday and Pascha is celebration of ‘God with us’ permanently.[63]

2.1. Paschal Controversy

The date of the annual celebration of the Pascha was a point of controversy in the second century.  At the time of the Apostles there was the tradition of celebrating the Pascha on the Sunday following 14 Nisan.  The Sunday Pascha was established in Palestine and at Alexandria well before the paschal controversy.  However, the Church in Ephesus insisted on the celebration of Pascha on 14 Nisan itself.  Pascha was observed in Asia with a fast and vigil on 14 Nisan, and was concluded with the celebration of the Eucharist at cockcrow on the fifteenth.[64] Polycarp the bishop of Smyrna and Anicetus the bishop of Rome had disputes over this issue.  They could not convince each other of the validity of their different practices.  Eusebius (+339) gives us a testimony of Polycrates (second century), the bishop of Ephesus, defending the quartodeciman practice. In his letter to Victor, bishop of Rome, Polycrates cites the examples of the Apostles Philip, John, Polycarp of Smyrana and others who stood for the quartodeciman practice.[65]  According to T.J. Talley, there is no such detailed pedigree for the apostolicity that, since the fourth century, has been claimed for the Sunday Pascha.[66]

2.2. Paschal Fast

            The Paschal fast has its inspiration from the Mishnah precept to fast from all food from the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice that preceded the sacrifice of lambs for the Passover.  This fast was not broken until nightfall, and then only with the eating of the Passover.[67]  The Christians observed a similar fast before the Pascha, but it was a fast which was extended through the hours of the rejoicing accompanying the Passover.  Epistula Apostolorum and other texts show that the vigil and presumably the fast, was extended to cockcrow.  For the quartodecimans the fast was extended through the day of 14 Nisan to cockcrow of 15 Nisan.[68]  At the time Irenaeus (+202) there was the paschal fast during the last days of the Holy Week  At the time of Tertullian and Hippolytus the Latin West fasted on Good Friday and Holy Saturday as the fast of the wedding guests when the bridegroom is taken away (Mk 2.19-20).  However, the Apostolic Tradition  makes provision for the infirm (any one who is pregnant or ill) to observe only one day, that is on Saturday.[69] According to Didascalia Apostolorum and the Alexandrian festal letters of Dionysius, the paschal fast was extended to six days of the Holy Week, in the third century. The six week fast might be considered an extension of the paschal fast of six days. But Apostolic Constitutions V.13 calls for a complete separation of the Lenten fast of forty days from the paschal fast by an interval two festal days, Saturday and Sunday.[70]  The six days fast might have originated in imitation of the Jewish practice of eating unleavened bread for seven days in view of celebrating the paschal feast. Christians fasted six days except Sunday.  Towards the end of 4th century Sozomen testifies to 3,6, or 7 weeks fast depending on the place.  Athanasius of Alexandria, Cyril of Jerusalem, and John Chrysostom speak of 6 week fast.  These weeks are called “Quadragesima”, that is forty consecutive days preceding the paschal Triduum (6×7-2=40) imitating the 40 days fast of Jesus.[71] Basil speaks of a seven week lent in Cappadocia and Egeria speaks of eight week lent in Jerusalem.

After the Council of Nicea fast of forty days before paschal baptism became common. At Rome these forty days ran from the sixth Sunday before Easter (Quadragesima) to Thursday before Easter (on which day the penitents were reconciled), and the two day paschal fast of Friday and Saturday followed. At Antioch and Constantinople the forty days were reckoned from Monday of the seventh week before Easter to Friday of the week preceding Great Week. At Constantinople, as in early Alexandrian tradition, the Sunday following the close of the forty days was the feast of Palms. In 7th century there was a general tendency to extend the paschal fast so that the total number of fast days would total forty. In Rome the Sundays were not fast days.  Hence of six weeks there were only 36 actual fast days.  Four more days were added from the preceding week.[72]

In fact, the theme of Jesus’ fast as the motivating factor for the paschal fast was only a later introduction. According to Gregory Dix, the association with our Lord’s fast in the wilderness was an idea attached to the season of Lent only after it had come into existence in connection with the preparation of candidates for baptism. “The catechumens who were to receive baptism at the Pascha had to undergo preparatory fasts and daily exorcisms for a fortnight or more before the feast, to purify them for their initiation. As the culminating point in the Christian year, the Pascha was recognized to require some personal preparation from all, but there was as yet nothing corresponding to Lent and Holy Week.  At the end of the second century all Christians fasted before the Pascha, some for a day, some for forty hours continuously, some for a week, according to their devotion.”[73]

The Eastern Churches begin the Lent on the Monday before the Ash Wednesday of the Western tradition.  For the Easterners the Lent consists of 40 days, excluding the Sunday of the first week, Lazarus Saturday, and the Holy Week.[74] In the Latin tradition on Wednesday there was the enrolment of penitents.  In Gaul and Germany there was the ceremony of sprinkling the penitents with ashes.

The advancing of the Lenten fast was found in Rome, in the East and in various regions of the West. Thus we have the septuagesima season with the quinquagesima, sexageisma and septuagesima Sundays making their appearance in succession. [75]

3. Days of Fast

Days of fast have been significant in the formation of the Christian Calendar. The preparation for feasts like Christmas and Easter included fast. From the first century onwards the Church had the proper discipline of fast. Didache 8.1 directed Christians not to fast on Mondays and Thursdays (the regular Jewish fast days) but on Wednesdays and Fridays, and this custom continued to be widely observed in the later centuries, with regular services of the Word also taking place at the ninth hour (about 3 p.m.) on these days.[76]  “The substitution of the ninth hour instead of the morning for the service of the word, as on the Jewish fast-days, appears to have been made in order to commemorate the death of Jesus at that hour (Mt 27.46-50; Mk 15.34-7; Lk 23.44-6).[77]

In the second century there arose the custom in the East of keeping all Wednesdays and Fridays outside the ‘great fifty days’ as fasts.[78] According to Schmemann, they were days commemorating the days of Christ’s betrayal and his death.[79] The West was reluctant to adopt these eastern fasts.  Later these fasts were known in the West as stations. However, the Roman Church introduced its own system of corporate fasts.  These were the seasonal fasts of the Ember Days[80], on the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday of the weeks which marked the chief agricultural operations of the year in Italy. These seasonal fasts were assigned to the first, fourth, seventh and tenth months.  The observance consisted in a solemnization of the regular weekly fasts on Wednesday and Friday, an extension of the Friday fast through Saturday, and a vigil through the night from Saturday to Sunday, concluding with the eucharist early Sunday morning.[81]   Though the Eastern station days were at one time widely adopted in the West, the Western fasts were never adopted at all in the East.[82] According to Schmemann, fasting was the ‘station’ of the Church herself, the people of God standing in readiness, awaiting the parousia of the Lord.[83] When there was eucharist on such days in the evening, the communion would terminate fast or vigil”.[84]

Besides the forty days fast before the Easter there were other fasts of forty days, e.g. before Christmas beginning on November 11, referred to as St. Michael’s Lent.[85].


4. Origin of New Feasts

For the first three centuries there was no particular Christian calendar.  Pascha was the only feast, that is Sundays and once per year an anniversary of Christ’s crucifixion. The early Christians had no interest in the events like nativity. It never occurred to any one to celebrate Christ’s nativity or his crucifixion, etc  per se.[86]

The multiplication of feasts went hand in hand with the great theological controversies and was in a way a reflection of the results attained in these controversies.[87]

Feasts like Nativity and Epiphany were introduced to conserve the actuality of the paschal mystery against the threats of various heresies. Every feast is a manifestation of Christ and salvation in him, not a commemoration of a particular event.  Thus Nativity or Epiphany is the feast of divine manifestation, not the birth of Jesus, per se. Christmas is simultaneously the feast of the triumph over the darkness of paganism (the manifestation of the ‘sun of truth’) and of the triumph of Nicaea over Arianism (the affirmation of the divine nature of Christ).[88]

The first Christians had no interest in the individual events of the history of salvation.  The emphasis was not in places and things, candles and incense, but worshiping the Father in Spirit and truth.[89]

4.1. Feasts of Ideas

            Between 700-1200 AD we find the origin and development of many feasts of ideas.  The feasts of ideas developed since the middle ages.  These feasts do not focus on the particular events of salvation but have as their object truths of faith, special aspects of Christian teaching and piety, or various titles of the Lord, his mother or a saint.   The idea-feasts are also called “devotion feasts” or dogmatic, thematic, and static feasts.[90] Feast of Trinity, Corpus Christi, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Christ the King, the Precious Blood, the Holy name, the Holy Family, and many feasts of Mary are examples for the idea feasts. They are rooted in concepts more than in a specific event.[91]

The multiplication of festivals, a characteristic feature of fourth century was due to Church’s need to replace the pagan festivals.[92]  Holidays were set apart not only as commemorations of individual events in Christ’s life but also as the expression and affirmation of separate elements in Church’s doctrine. Schmemann observes: “The real and in a way paradoxical result of this development of Feast Days was the gradual weakening of the idea of the Church year as a liturgical whole.” “It would not be hard to show that our present Church year has no real, organic wholeness.  It is divided into a series of festal cycles frequently interwoven with one another, yet inwardly dis-unified and out of harmony.”[93] According to Adolf Adam,many of these feasts are unnecessary duplications[94].

5. Pentecost

            The Old Testament Pentecost was an agricultural festival at the close of the grain harvest which began at Passover, but in the later Jewish idea Pentecost commemorated the giving of Law at Sinai and the constitution of the mixed multitude of Egyptian refugees into the People of God.  The Church taking up the Pentecost commemorated the events recorded in Acts 2 and also her own character as the People of the New Covenant, and the fact that ‘the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made her members free from the ‘law of sin and death (Rom 8.2)’. Pentecost was considered another ordinary occasion for the celebration of baptism and confirmation.[95]

Pascha was celebrated, as was Passover, for a total of eight days.  In England this final Sunday of the Paschal season was called Whitsunday (deriving from the Frenc huit or  huitiême Dimanche) the eighth Sunday of Easter. The paschal season from the six days of the paschal fast to the final day of Pentecost, can be understood to be in more or less direct continuity with the Old Testament festivals of Passover-Unleavened Bread, and Shabbuoth (weeks).[96] The feast of weeks celebrated on a single day, seems to conclude an extension of the week of unleavened bread to a week of weeks.[97]The festival was on the 50th day called Pentecost (fiftieth) in the Septuagint and the NT.

Feast of Weeks (Pentecost):  It was a feast of thanksgiving after the heavy labour of the harvest. It was a joyous feast, celebrated with various sacrifices in the temple (Lev 23.15-21).  Later it was associated with the recall of the covenant at Sinai and giving of the ten commandments; thus the feast commemorating the history of Israel’s salvation.[98]

In the first century it was not just the fiftieth day that was considered sacred, but the very period between that fiftieth day and the day from which it was counted, a day related in one way or another to the Passover. However, in the first century itself there are clear signs that the fiftieth day was being regarded as a festival with its own proper content, not just the conclusion of a festal season.[99]

Already in the 2nd century the celebration of the resurrection was continued for fifty days.  This period was one of unbroken rejoicing.[100]  In the course of the fourth century the Christian Pentecost celebrated Christ’s ascension and the sending of the Holy Spirit on the Church.  In the last two decades of the 4th century we find the separation of the dual theme, and the celebration of the ascension on the fortieth day. In the last decade of 4th century in Northern Italy the tradition of unbroken rejoicing had been dismantled by a fast before the feast of ascension. In the 5th century the three days before Ascension were marked in Gaul by rogations (with processional litanies) (supplication for the state of crops).  These days are known as Rogation days.  These fast days had great popularity in the middle ages.  They were adopted in Rome, and were known as “lesser litanies” (by contrast to the major litany, a seventh century Christian adaptation of the pre-Christian Robigalia on the day (April 25) that would later become as well the feast of St. Mark.[101]

Ascension was not a separate feast, it was included in the celebration of the Pascha. For the Jews, the fifty days of harvest between the Passover and Pentecost symbolised the joyful act of their possession of the Promised Land. For the Christian these fifty days symbolised the fact that ‘in Christ’ he had already entered into the Kingdom of God.  The fifty days manifested the world to come.[102]

6. Holy Week

From Egeria we have the first account of Holy Week celebration.  Egeria’s account of the celebration of the Holy Week at Jerusalem may be summarised as follows. The first four days of the Great Week, while exhibiting their own peculiarities, are nonetheless very much like other days in Lent at least up to noon. The specific celebration of the day was in the afternoon, usually at the ninth hour, with a service of readings that extends to and most often connects with the evening office, Lucernare, which was not celebrated until around seven in the evening.[103]

Originally the Pascha was a unitive celebration.  But the Holy Week celebration made the Pascha the feast of resurrection.  The unitive Pascha has come, as late as the fifth century, to give way to reduction of the content of the feast to the resurrection alone. First testimony of Good Friday comes from Jerusalem at the end of the 4th century. The last of the first four days of the Great Week, is distinct from the previous days. The afternoon synaxix included eucharist.  The service began an hour earlier.  There was a second celebration of the eucharist in the Church of Golgotha, that is the chapel behind the Cross.  Thereafter there was a third eucharist celebrated in the ‘Upper Room’.  This celebration forged a connection between the afternoon service and a vigil stretching through the entire night.  In the morning of Good Friday, there was the veneration of the wood of the Cross, from eight in the morning until noon. This veneration follows the prayers that conclude the Word Liturgy, preceding the distribution of the communion.  From noon until three in the afternoon there were readings (Psalms, epistles, and each of the four passion narratives) in the courtyard before the Cross. A vigil through the night from Friday to Saturday was kept at the tomb by the clergy, and those who could do so took part in all or some of that vigil.

The earliest witnesses to the liturgy of Good Friday at Rome are the Gregorian Sacramentary and evangeliary from the middle of seventh century.[104] In the Ordo of 1970 Good Friday received back its ancient title “In Passioni Domini” (celebration of the Lord’s passion).[105] Two most striking features of the Good Friday liturgy in the West are the veneration of cross and communion from the reserved sacrament, the so called Mass of the Presanctified.[106]

            Holy Saturday is called the great Saturday in the East.  It commemorates the repose of Jesus in the tomb, also his descent into sheol and his mysterious encounter there with all those who were waiting for him to open the gate of heaven (1 Pet 3: 19-20;4.6).[107]  On the Saturday of Great Week there were the normal services at the third and the sixth hours. However, there was no usual ninth hour celebration, because it was already time for the preparation of the vigil.  The vigil began with the evening office, with the Lucernare, lighting of the lamp. By the tenth century the Lucernare acquired a much greater importance.  In the fourth and fifth centuries the bishop lighted a taper from the lamp that burned constantly in the tomb in the Anastasis, and proceeded to the Martyrium, where he lighted one or more lamps.  The clergy then began the vigil of readings. The scheme of the vigil is: Psalm 117 (118); eleven prophetic readings, each followed by a prayer; and the final reading, leading into the Song of the Three Children. During this canticle, the bishop leads the newly baptized into the church.  Upon the conclusion of the canticle, that is at midnight according to the rubrics, the prokeimenon of the eucharistic liturgy began at once. [108] The most primitive feature of Holy Saturday is the total fast kept on that day.  It was completely aliturgical day.  The eucharist was never celebrated in either East or West.[109]

There was the custom of prolonging the celebration of the Pascha for one week. The custom of observing Pascha for a week may have its ultimate roots in the Passover and the seven days of the Unleavened Bread. For Christians the testimony of the fourth gospel with its accounts of the appearances of Jesus to his disciples in the evening of the day of the resurrection and again eight days later, surely played a large role in the extension of the festival throughout the week, from Sunday through Sunday.  In the fourth century the central feature of the liturgical arrangement of this week was the explanation of the mysteries to the newly baptized.[110]

7.Nativity and Epiphany

The Jewish Passover and Pentecost had great influence on the Christian feasts like Easter and Pentecost.  Was the celebration of Nativity and Epiphany influenced by some Jewish feast? As Schmemann observes, the early Judeo-Christian Church could have been influenced by the third great messianic and eschatological feast of Judaism- the feast of the Tabernacles.[111] Talley is of the view that there is a possible, but highly hypothetical connection between the feast of Tabernacles and Epiphany.[112] Schmemann says: “Thus it may be supposed, and Danielou defends this thesis, that the earliest Judeo-Christian tradition did include a Christian ‘transposition’ of the third great messianic festival.  On the one hand the final feast day of the saviour’s earthly ministry-his entrance into Jerusalem (the end of the year) and on the other hand the theme of epiphany or baptism (the beginning of the year) were, in this theory, the main themes of this transposition.”[113]

Epiphany was the oriental festival of nativity, parallel to December 25. Both festivals celebrated the nativity of Christ. But Epiphany celebrated also the baptism of Jesus, the miracle at Cana wedding feast, the visit of the Magi, and even (in one source) the Transfiguration.[114] Later Egyptian sources supported by texts as early as the third century report the primitive celebration of Christ’s baptism there on epiphany.[115]  January 6 was known already to Clement of Alexandria at the end of the 2nd century, as the date of nativity and baptism of the Lord. In later 4th century, the Western Nativity festival spread to Constantinople, Cappadocia and Antioch.  It became popular in Alexandria in the fifth century.  Baptism of Jesus became the sole content of Epiphany. The feast of Nativity was introduced in Jerusalem only in the 6th century.  (There was monophysite resistance.) Armenians continue the resistance even now.  They celebrate both the Nativity and baptism on Epiphany.  In Gaul we find a similar content for epiphany. In 361 at the time of Emperor Julian Epiphany had the sole celebration of the Nativity. In Northern Italy after sometime epiphany celebrates the baptism of Jesus or sometimes the first miracle at Cana. In Gaul after the adoption of Christmas, epiphany celebrated the tria miracula the visit of the Magi, the baptism in Jordan and the first miracle at Cana.[116]

The development of the nativity cycle was connected on the one hand with the necessity to Christianize and “church” the dates of the great pagan feasts of December 25 (natale invicti solis) and January 6 (the birth of Ion or Dionysus), and on the other hand with the fight for Nicene orthodoxy, for the term omoousion.”[117]

The earliest evidence for the existence of a feast of the Nativity of Jesus on 25 December is its inclusion in what is known as the Roman Chronograph of 354, which gives a list of significant days in the year for the city of Rome probably drawn up nearly twenty years earlier, in 336.[118] As regards the origin of the feast there are two principal schools of thought. The first one is based on the attempt to calculate the exact date of Jesus’ birth.  Since some thought 25 March as the date of Jesus’ death and the very date of his conception, his birth is considered exactly nine months later, 25 December. The second one is the ‘history of religions’ hypothesis.  According to this hypothesis this date had been chosen  because it was the occasion of the winter solstice in the Julian calendar and also of a very popular pagan feast at Rome, established by the emperor Aurelian in 274 to celebrate the dies natalis solis invicti, the birthday of the invincible sun.  This feast was substituted with the birthday celebration of Christ, the true Sun of Righteousness.[119]

Whatever reasons for the selection of 25 December, it is important to note that the day was thought of as more than just a commemoration of the birthday of Jesus. What was being celebrated was not just the historical event of the nativity, but belief in the reality of the incarnation of the Son of God: hence there was a strong doctrinal or apologetic purpose shaping the festival and not merely a popular piety. [120] We may find a similar logic in the choice of 6 January.  6 April had been observed by early Christians in Asia Minor as the annual celebration of the death of Christ, and by the same method of calculation outlined in the case of 25 December, the date 6 January was chosen.[121]  Clement of Alexandria knew the tradition at the end of second century that 6 January had been the date of the birth of Christ. But everywhere this feast did not commemorate the mystery of nativity.  “While the nativity (including the visit of Magi, Mt 2.1-12) certainly seems to have been its theme in the church of Jerusalem, this was not the case for Christians in Egypt, where 6 January celebrated instead the baptism of Jesus.  Elsewhere, there are some indications that the miracle at Cana in Galilee (Jn 2.1-11) may have been the primary focus.[122]

Epiphany was already a major feast in Gaul by 361.  Epiphany must have been almost contemporary in origin with the Roman Christmas. “If epiphany is to be regarded as earlier than Christmas, it cannot in any case have originated much before the council of Nicea.[123]

In all major traditions the feast of Nativity is preceded by a more or less extended season of fasting.  Filastrius, ca. 385, reported a fast before Christmas, but none preceding the Epiphany.[124] In the fifth century, bishop Perpetuus of Tours (+490) gives regulations regarding the preparation for Christmas.  There has to be a season of fasting from the feast of St. Martin (Nov.11) to Christmas. Of the 56 days Saturdays and Sundays were not actual fast days and hence a total of 40 actual fast days. Adolf Adam observes: “The real motive behind such a lent was the fact that Epiphany was a day for baptism, and there was a desire to show no less respect for this occasion by way of preparation for it than was shown  for Easter as a day of baptism.” [125]

The season of Advent makes its appearance at Rome only in the second half of the sixth century in the sacramentaries and lectionaries. Adventus was understood in the biblical and eschatological sense of parousia. “It (Advent) fostered a joyful expectation of the feast of the Nativity but with a view to diverting the thoughts of Christians above all to the glorious return of the Lord at the end of time.”[126] In the Syrian rites the weeks before Christmas are weeks of annunciation.  In West Syrian there are five and in the East Syrian there are four annunciations.

8. Other Feasts of our Lord

In 6th century Justinian promulgated the feast of Annunciation on March 25.

The presentation of the Lord (February 2) and the Annunciation of the Lord (March 25) are the two Christmas feasts outside the Christmas cycle.[127]

Transfiguration: It commemorates the dedication of the basilicas on Mount Tabor. This feast was received by the East Syrian Church at the end of the 5th century or the beginning of the 6th century and by the West Syrian Church in the 7th century.[128]

Triumph of the Cross: In the 6th century in Rome May 3 was the feast of the discovery of the cross.  Only in the middle of the 7th century the feast of the cross was celebrated on 14 September.  The wood of the cross was given public veneration in the Vatican basilica.[129]

Holy Trinity: The Apostolic See (Pope Alexander II +1073; Pope Alexander III + 1181) was not in favour of setting apart a particular feast for Trinity saying that it is honoured daily in the Psalmody by the saying of “Glory be to the Father..” Still this feast gained ground especially in the monasteries.  It was celebrated at Cluny in 1030 and Citeaux in 1271.  Some Churches celebrated it on the octave of Pentecost, others on the Sunday before Advent.  Pope John XXII made the celebration obligatory for the entire West and assigned it to the Sunday after Pentecost.  Eastern Churches do not have a feast of the Holy Trinity.[130]

The feast of Sacred Heart was first kept on August 30 as very local celebration by John Eudes in the 17th century.  Later it became very popular due to the visionary experience of Margaret Mary Alacoque.  In 1856 Pius IX made it universal for the Latin rite, and set it on the Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi.

In 1925 Pius established the feast of Christ the King.[131]

9. Cult of Saints

            The Church has included in the annual cycle memorial days of the martyrs and other saints (SC 104). By celebrating their anniversaries the Church proclaims achievement of the paschal mystery in the saints who have suffered and have been glorified with Christ (SC 104).

The cult of saints is much more ancient than the feast of Nativity, for example.  The witnessing of martyrs is a sign of continued reality of Christ’s Pascha.  This is why churches were built over the tombs of martyrs.[132] The veneration of martyrs is at least as old as the middle of the second century.  Our earliest reference to this custom comes from a contemporary account of the martyrdom of Polycarp of Smyrna at this period.[133] It is important to notice that this early practice was intensely local.  The celebration was not held in the house or other building where the local church normally met, but in the very place where the remains of the martyr were interred.[134] It was only later, in the second half of the fourth century, that the practice began of often moving the mortal remains of martyrs from the original place of burial to a more suitable location in existing church, especially when the tomb had been a considerable distance away from the city itself.[135]

Each Church has a calendar which tells which saints are to be honoured in it and on what day.  It is a series of festivals of fixed dates on which are commemorated the lives of martyrs and other saints. The commemoration of saints is assigned most commonly to the date of their death, and this is spoken of as their dies natalis, their birth day into the Kingdom of heaven.[136] There are two such calendars from the fourth century which serve in fact as the basis for the Roman sanctoral or calendar of saints’ feasts. They are seen in the manuscript Almanac of 354.

  1. Depositiones episcoporum: burial of bishops: It is a list of non-martyr popes, from Lucius 9+254) to Sylvetser (+335).
  2. Depositiones martyrum: It gives the first the natale (anniversary of birth) of Christ on December 25, and then a list of the martyrs celebrated at Rome, each with a date and place of burial. [137]

(Important feasts according to this list: Sebastian Jan.20; Agnes Feb.21; Peter and Paul June 29).

Another calendar compiled ca 363 is the Calendar of Nicomedia.  It gives the names of our lords the martyrs and victors, together with the days on which they received their crowns.  We have only a Syriac abridgement dating 411, of the Greek text.  To the names of the Western martyrs, that is, those belonging to the Mediterranean basin, it joins those of the Eastern martyrs from Armenia and Mesopotamia.[138]

(Important feasts: Stephen Dec, 26; John and James Dec. 27; Peter and Paul Dec.28; Epiphany Jan 6; Polycarp Feb.23; Commemoration of all Confessors (Friday after Easter).

The Almanac of 354 was specifically a Roman calendar, but the Calendar of Nicomedia was already an embryonic martyrology, since its purpose was to provide a first complte listing of the martyrs of the East and West.[139]

There was the commemoration of all the martyrs at Nisibis on the Friday after Easter. According to a tradition from John Chrysostom in Antioch all martyrs are commemorated on the Sunday after Pentecost. On May 13, 609 Boniface IV dedicated the old Pantheon to Blessed Virgin Mary and all the martyrs.  It remained the feast of all martyrs, till Gregory IV introduced in 835 A.D. the feast of all saints on November 1. A Carthaginian list of the 6th century gives the nativity of John Baptist on June 24. The Jerusalem lectionaries of the 5th century reveal a feast of Theotokos on August 15.  It is the oldest feast of Blessed Virgin known to us.[140] After council of Ephesus (431) Marian feasts like Presentation, Annunciation, Dormition/Assumption, Nativity were introduced.  Most of these fests had their origin in the East.[141]

After the Peace of Constantine the cult of the martyrs gained in external solemnity.  Basilicas were built near or above earlier simple tombs, splendid processions were held. SL 477.  By the end of the fourth century, virtually all the types of feast that are now found in the sanctoral had become established.[142]The number of saints’ days in the 1570 Missal of Pius V was reduced to about 130.  Within three centuries it had more than doubled.[143]

10.Marian Feasts

Liturgical cult of Mary originated in Jerusalem with the feast of August 15 as its foundation. The feast of Mary Theotokos later became the feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God. At the end of the sixth century, emperor Maurice ruled that this feast was to be celebrated throughout the empire. In the sixth century the commemoration of Mary’s birth was linked to the church built near the Sheep gate, north of the temple, over some ponds identified as the Bethzatha where Jesus had cured a sick man (Jn 5:1-19).  This was perhaps the origin of the feast of the Nativity of Mary on September 8. In the sixth century itself the feast of the presentation of Mary in the Temple (November 21) developed.  All Churches of the East welcomed the feast of the Dormition of Mary.  In Ethiopia the death of the Mother of God was commemorated on January 16, and the Assumption on August 15.  All the Churches except the Syro-Nestorian Church, celebrated the Nativity of Mary and her Entrance in the Temple. East Syrians celebrate the Feast of the Congratulations of the Mother of God on December 26. The Annunciation on March 25 and the Meeting of the Lord with aged Simeon on February 2. Ethiopia has over 30 feasts of Mary.[144]

Western Marian Feasts

Anniversary of St. Mary (Natale S. Mariae) January 1 at Rome. Later overshadowed by other feasts. ; Annunciation, Dormition, Nativity, meeting of the Lord; Feast of Mary in Gaul: Depositio sanctae Mariae on January 18. Church of Alexandria celebrated Dormition of Mary on January 16.[145]

Feasts of Mary in Spain and at Milan

There was a feast in the mid December to honour Mary.  The council of Toledo (646) assigned the feast to December 18 for all the Churches of Spain.  The mystery of Annunciation was celebrated .  The Church of Milan celebrated it on the last Sunday of Advent.

Visitation of Mary (Mary’s visit to Elizabeth). Byzantine: July 2 (In the Ambrosian Rite the visitation is celebrated as a feast of the Lord).

Conception of Mary: Ever since the 8th century the Byzantine Church has celebrated a feast of the conception of St. Anne.

Our Lady of Snow: (August 5) The local feast of the dedication of St. Mary Major.  In 1568 St. Pius VI placed it in the universal calendar.

Sorrows of Mary: Devotion to the sorrows of Mary begins from the 12th century.  A provincial council of Mainz in 1423 established a feast of the sorrows of Mary.  Benedict XIII included it in the Roman calendar in 1727 and assigned it to the Friday before Palm Sunday.[146]

Modern Feasts

17th century: Holy name of Mary: (Sunday after Nativity of Mary)

                        Our Lady of Mercy (Sept.24)

18th century: Rosary of Virgin Mary (First Sunday of October)

                        Our Lady of Mount Carmel (July 16)

19th century: Seven Sorrows of Blessed Virgin (Third Sunday of September)

20th century: Apparition of Immaculate Virgin Mary at Lourdes Feb 11

Motherhood of Mary Oct.11

Immaculate Heart of Mary: Aug. 22

Queenship of Mary May 31

Votive masses: masses for particular occasions (missae votivae), e.g., at the time of famine.  Their celebration is variously regulated by the liturgical calendar.  In the Gelasian sacramentary (Liber sacramentorum Romanae Aecclesiae Ordinis Anni Circuli) Liber I is devoted to seasonal cycle, Liber II to sanctoral cycle and Liber III to votive masses.

The Byzantine typicon divides liturgical observances distinguishing only between festivals of fixed dates and those of moveable dates.[147]

The system of votive masses that remained in effect from 1570 Missal of Pius V to the 1970 Missal of Paul VI:

Monday: Trinity; Tuesday: Angels (including guardian angels); Wednesday: Apostles; from 1920 on, also St. Joseph and Saints Peter and Paul; Thursday: Holy Spirit; from 1604 on, also the Eucharist; from 1935 on, also the high priesthood of Christ; Friday: Cross; from 1604 on, also the passion of Christ; Saturday: Mary.[148]

11.Different Calendars in the Church

11.1. Latin Calendar: The proprium de tempore now moves from the first Sunday of Advent to the Feast of Christ the King on the final Sunday after Pentecost.[149]

            The liturgical year today consists of the seasonal cycle (Proprium de tempore) and the sanctoral cycle (Proprium de sanctis).  The cycle of feasts and seasons is predicated upon the life of Christ and organized about two major poles: The first major pole is the Feast of Nativity of Christ observed on 25 December and the other major pole is Easter, the feast of the resurrection of Christ.  We may study the origin and development of the liturgical calendar, examining the various factors that contributed to the development of the seasonal cycle and the sanctoral cycle.

In the Latin tradition the thirty-three or thirty-four weeks between them, during which the “mystery of Christ in all its fullness is celebrated” are called “ordinary time”.  The two cycles of feasts, ordinary time and the other solemnities and feasts celebrating the mystery of redemption, are known as the “temporal cycle” or “Proper of the Time”. The calendar of saints’ feasts is called the “sanctoral”. [150]

From the tenth/eleventh century on the texts for the first Sunday of Advent were placed at the beginning of the sacramentaries and thus developed the idea that the liturgical year begins with the first Sunday of Advent.

The Easter cycle begins on Ash Wednesday and ends, thirteen and a half weeks later, on Pentecost.  The annual commemoration Christ’s birth begins with the first Sunday of advent and ends on the Sunday after epiphany, which is the feast of Christ’s baptism.[151]

11.2. East Syrian Liturgical Year

11.3. West Syrian Liturgical Year

11.4. Coptic Liturgical Year

11.5.Byzantine Liturgical Year

In a pastoral letter issued at the close of the Second Vatican Council (1965), Major Archbishop Cardinal Joseph Slipyj, defined the Liturgical Year as: “A liturgical cycle of the Universal or some particular Church, that consists of Sundays, weekdays, the feasts of our Lord, the Mother of God, the saints and the periods of fasting and forbidden times.”

In the Byzantine Church the Church Year differs from the civil calendar in that it does not begin the New Year with the first of January as does the civil year, but begins it with the first day of September, which is called the Beginning of the Indiction. This means that the whole cycle of our Church Year begins with the first of September and ends with the thirty first of the following August.

The Byzantine Church year did not coincide with the astronomical year which, since the reform of Julius Caesar in the year 46 to the coming of Christ, began with the first day of January. The first day of the indiction was originally the twenty-third of September because that was the day on which Caesar Augustus was born, but under Constantine the Great (306-337) it was the first day of September.

The Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council in Nicea in the year 325 adopted the first of September as the opening of the New Church Year and this day has been observed in the Eastern Church to the present time. The Latin Church opens its Liturgical Year on the first day of Advent, i.e., the beginning of the preparation for Christmas.

The indiction of which we are speaking – for there were other indictions – is called the Byzantine (or Constantinopolitan or also the Constantinian) indiction which, except for Egypt, became mandatory throughout the Roman Empire. Justinian I (527-565) made dating by indiction compulsory for all legal documents. The Roman Church during the reign of Pope Pelagius II (579-590) adopted the indiction for establishing the dates of documents, and this practice was not abandoned until the year 1097.

Later, when the first day of September was designated as the beginning of the Church Year, or as it was called in the Church Calendar, the beginning of the “New Year”, it assumed a religious character and became a feast of the Church, i.e., a day which had its own special liturgical service. On this day our Church commemorates the day on which Christ entered the synagogue in Nazareth and read from the scrolls the words of the prophet Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord has been given me, for He anointed me…to proclaim the Lord’s year of favor.” (Luke 4, 18-19) No reliable evidence exists to indicate when the beginning of the Indiction became a feast of the Church; we do know, however that it already existed in the eight century.[152]

Speaking of the meaning of Sunday in the Liturgical Year, the Second Vatican Council in the decree on the “Constitution on the Liturgy” says: “Hence the Lord’s Day is the original feast day, and it should be proposed to the piety of the faithful and taught to them so that it may become in fact a day of joy and of freedom from work. Other celebrations, unless they be truly of greatest importance, shall not have precedence over the Sunday which is the foundation and kernel of the whole Liturgical Year.” (106)

The apostles and the first Christians at first observed the Jewish feasts. But gradually these were supplanted by the feasts of the New Testament, the first of which, besides Sunday, was the glorious festival of the Pasch (or the Resurrection or Easter). This feast, the first in the cycle of the Liturgical Year, became the core of all the feasts and Sundays connected with the paschal season. The Feast of the Pentecost or the descent of the Holy Spirit is closely linked with the feast of the Pasch. In the third century, the feast of the Theophany became a universal celebration. Later on other feasts of the Lord came into being – the Nativity, Circumcision and Presentation (4c), Ascension (5c), Transfiguration (6c), and the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (7c). In the eleventh century, the sum of our Lord’s feasts reached the symbolic number of twelve. It is interesting to note that at first the feasts of the Mother of God were not included among the twelve great feasts.

Truly noteworthy is the fact that the principal ancient Marian feasts originated in the eastern Church. The very first Marian feasts which appeared after the Council of Ephesus were the feasts of the Dormition or Assumption and the Annunciation. In the centuries immediately following, appeared the feasts of the Nativity of the Mother of God, the Conception of Anna, the Presentation of Mary in the Temple, the Patronage, and other minor feasts.

The other important element crowning the tree of the Liturgical Year is the cult of the saints. The veneration of saints began in the first centuries with the veneration of the tombs and relics of the holy martyrs. Their names began more and more to fill the days of the Church Calendar. Along with the cult of the Martyrs, the cult of the Apostles developed, and later still the cult of the Bishops, Patriarchs, Old Testament Saints, Ascetics, that is, holy Monks and Nuns, and the Angels. Between the fourth and fifth centuries, the veneration of the Saints became a general practice in the Church. Between the sixth and eighth centuries our Ecclesiastical Year assumed its present form. Since then all that was left to do was to add other new saints to the Church Calendar.[153]

Pre-eminent among all feasts is Easter, the feast of feasts, which stands in a class by itself. Next in importance come the Twelve Great Feasts.

The Nativity of the Mother of God (8 Sept)

The Exaltation (Raising up) of  the honoured and lifegiving Cross (14 Sept)

The entry of the Mother of God into the Temple (21 November)

The Nativity of Christ (25 Dec)

The Baptism of Christ in Jordan (Theophany or Epiphany: 6 Jan)

The Meeting of our Lord (The presentation of Christ in the Temple: 2 Feb)

The Annunciation of the Mother of God (25 March)

The Entry of our Lord into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday: One Week before Easter)

The Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ (40 days after Easter)

Pentecost (Known in the East as Trinity Sunday) (50 days after easter)

The transfiguration of Christ (6 Aug)

The Falling asleep of the Mother of God. (Dormition) (15 Aug)

Timothy Ware 298-299.

Four main periods of Fasting

  1. The great fast: Begins seven weeks before Easter
  2. The fast of the Apostles: Starts on the Monday eight days after Pentecost, and ends on 28 June, the eve of the feast of Saints Peter and Paul.  In length varies between one and six weeks.
  3. The dormition Fast: Lasts two weeks, fro 1 to 14 August.
  4. The Christmas Fast: Lasts forty days, from 15 November to 24 december.

Timothy Ware 300.

11.6. The Armenian Liturgical Year

The Armenian Church divides the year into seasons based upon the great or tabernacle feasts. The five seasons of the liturgical year are:

Advent(50 days starting on the Sunday nearest the 25th of November through the Saturday following January 6)

Eastertide (9 weeks before Easter Day and 15 weeks after Easter)

Transfigurationtide (between Eastertide and Assumptiontide)

Assumptiontide from the Assumption of the Virgin Mary through the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (Khachverats) (4 weeks)

Exaltationtide (from the Exaltation of the Cross through beginning of Advent)


11.7. Maronite Liturgical Year

The season of epiphany commences on the 6th of January – the Feast of the Epiphany, which is a celebration of the Baptism of the Lord and reveals the identity and mission of Jesus from which we gain our own identity and mission. His Sonship to the Father and the presence of the Holy Spirit within Him is revealed. The Season focuses on Jesus as “the Light of the World”. It is through the gift of Baptism that we receive Christ’s Spirit and it is this Spirit which empowers us to bring the Light of Christ’s love and healing to others. The season ends with the Sunday of the Dead, which is the last Sunday before the beginning of Lent. The color Blue symbolises the epiphany Season.

 The season of lent: This season commences on Ash Monday and extends to the beginning of Holy Week when we contemplate Christ’s unending love for us. The observance of Lent is not an end in itself, but should be seen as a time of preparation that will climax in the Resurrection of Jesus our Saviour at the great feast of Easter. Lent is a time when we should become more aware of our sinfulness and our need for reconciliation. We look for a change of heart; we seek God’s mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation, and seek forgiveness and reconciliation with our fellow brothers and sisters. The violet colour symbolises the lent season in the Maronite Catholic Church.

 The season of Easter: This season extends from Easter Sunday to the day before Pentecost Sunday. The season focuses on the cornerstone of our Christian faith – the Resurrection of Jesus. Through Christ’s death and resurrection, we have two faces; one crucified here, and one glorious beyond. The presence of the Resurrection also means the presence of the cross; for we cannot rise with Christ unless we also die with Him. We need to view everything in our lives – our illnesses, our sinfulness, our hardships and difficulties, our sorrow and grief, as a sharing in the death and resurrection of Jesus. The Resurrection of Christ is the guarantee of our final resurrection, the source of all our hope.

 The season of Pentecost: Commencing on Pentecost Sunday and extending to the day before the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross, the Season of Pentecost focuses our attention on the role and the power of the Spirit in our lives and in the life of the Church as a whole. The Spirit guides us, makes us holy and transforms our lives. The Spirit works through us to bring Christ’s love to others. At Baptism, we are anointed and gifted by the Spirit and through the Sacrament of Confirmation, the Spirit strengthens us. The Spirit of the Lord heals division and brings light to all hearts. The power of the Spirit helps us as individuals and the Church community to reveal the mystery of Christ to the world.

 The season of Cross: Commencing with the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross-on the 14th of September, this is the final season of the Church’s Liturgical Calendar. It reminds us that our life on this earth is a journey to God’s Heavenly Kingdom. As we journey together, each of us has an obligation to assist and support one another especially during times of disappointment and failure. Our mission is to lead a life of love and service of others. Jesus showed us the way when He gave His life on the cross in order to gain our salvation. Furthermore, we are reminded that we must embrace the crosses in our lives, as the cross is the sure sign of risen glory. The only way we can do this is by placing our faith, trust and hope in God. We are urged to be faithful to our mission as Christians, a mission of proclaiming the Good News of Jesus to others. If we do this we will be ready to receive God’s Kingdom which may come at a time when we least expect it.

The season of Christmas:  the first in the Church’s Liturgical Calendar, follows after the Sundays of the Church and extends to the day before the Feast of the Epiphany. It is a time to pause, remember and reflect on the ongoing promise of God coming to fulfillment in our lives. The season commences with a time of preparation and comes to a climax with the celebration of the birth of Jesus. During this season, we reassess our response to Christ, the Redeemer and His message. It is a time for renewing our personal commitment. As we prepare for the celebration of the birth of Jesus, we recall the qualities of life required from us, in expectation of the second and final coming of Jesus.


            The present liturgical calendars observed by various Churches are the result of a long evolution.  Historical and theological reasons have contributed to the formation of these calendars.  From the primitive shape of Sundays and the Pascha celebration, the liturgical calendar has grown much.  Today we find the paschal mystery of Christ commemorated in its various aspects at various feasts and seasons.  The believer is provided with all sorts of possibilities to enter into the manifold aspects of the mystery of salvation.  The liturgical year through different occasions prepares the believer to experience the mystery of Christ in a profound way.  Mediator Dei, the encyclical of Pope Pius XII in 1947, accentuates the theological significance of the liturgical year:

Liturgical year devotedly fostered and accompanied by the Church is not a cold and lifeless representation of the events of the past, or a simple and bare record of a former age.  It is rather Christ himself who is ever living in his Church.  Here he continues that journey of immense mercy which he lovingly began in his mortal life, going about doing good, with the design of bringing men to know His mysteries and in a way lived by them.[154]

As we have seen, the history witnessed the drastic changes occurred to the Church year.  Not all changes were theologically justified. Whenever the feasts and the seasons deviated from the original spirit of the calendar, it resulted in the theological change and an aberration from the real purpose of the liturgical year.

The Easter cycle and nativity cycle of feasts being the supporting pillars of the liturgical year, these feasts and the seasons are to be given due importance. Passion and resurrection constitute the heart of the liturgical year.[155]  However, greater concentration of the sanctoral commemoration in the western tradition, resulted in an aberration from the true mystery of the liturgical year.[156]

Celebration of the paschal mystery on different occasions help to concentrate on the particular aspects of the paschal mystery.  However, it causes damage to the vision of the integral celebration of the mystery of salvation.  Vatican Council II has admonished to go back to the ancient custom of giving more importance to the proper of the time.  The proper of seasons is to be given preference over feasts of saints (SC 108). Sacrosanctum Concilium no.111 says that the feasts of saints should not take precedence over the feasts which commemorate the mysteries of salvation.

One of the most unfortunate developments in the liturgical calendar is the diminishing of the reverence rendered to Sunday.   Now the relevance and uniqueness of Sunday are questioned.  Any other day is considered equally good.  The teaching of the Council is this: “Other celebrations, unless they be truly of the greatest importance, shall not have precedence over Sunday, which is the foundation and kernel of the whole liturgical year.” (SC 106).

The central concerns of the Christian liturgical calendar were vitiated in the course of history.  For example, the preparatory fast before ascension goes against the paschal rejoicing during the Pentecostal season.  The privatization of the liturgical celebration had its bad effect on the liturgical calendar. Council teaches that the penitential observance of Lent should be not just individual, but social and external. (SC 110.).

There are conflicts between the observances competing for available time in Calendar.  It required a system of rankings and rules of precedence.  Since many of the feasts of the saints have very little to do with the commemoration of the paschal mystery of Christ, such festal celebrations need not be fostered .

 There has been substantial change with regard to the understanding of the feast of a martyr. The second century word for a martyr’s feast was always, as in the martyrdom of Polycarp, his birthday.  But by the fourth century we find a change: Gregory Dix observes: “In the Roman calendar of A.D. 354 the entries of the martyrs’ feasts are no longer designated their ‘birthdays’ but their burials (depositiones).  The earthly, not the heavenly, event is now the object of the liturgical celebration, time and earthly history, not eternity, have become the primary interest of the calendar.”[157]

            Another major issue is a universal date for the Easter.  The Christian have to reach an agreement with regard to the date of Pascha.  In 1969 the Ecumenical Patriarch proposed a universal determination of the date of Easter.  He proposed the second Sunday of April.  This suggestion was welcomed.[158] If all Churches agree on the date of Easter it would be a decisive step in the ecumenical endeavour.

East Syrian Liturgical Year

Nine seasons (each ideally of 7 weeks).

1. Annunciation-Nativity (Subara): 6 weeks

2. Epiphany (Denha): 7 weeks: Commemoration of saints on Fridays.

3. Great Lent (Sauma ramba): 50 days before Easter

4. Resurrection (Qyamta): 7 weeks

5. Apostles (Sliha): 7 weeks

6. Summer (Qayta): 7 weeks

7. Elija-Cross (Elia-Sliwa): 5 to 7 weeks

8. Moses (Moshe): 2 to 7 weeks

9. Dedication of Church (Quddash-etta): 4 weeks

West Syrian Liturgical Year

Starts with the Sunday of Qudosh etto (Dedication of the Church) (Oct. 30 or 31 if a Sunday. Otherwise the first Sunday of November)

There are 7 seasons

1. Annunciation (Suboro)

2. Nativity-Epiphany (Yaldo-Denho)

3. Lent: 50 days

4. Resurrection (Qyamto)

5. Pentecost (Shliha)

6. Transfiguration: Aug. 6-Sept.13

7. Cross (Sliba): Sept.14-Qudosh-etto

c. Liturgical Persons

It is the whole liturgical community, the Body of Christ united with its Head, that celebrates liturgy (CCC 1140).   Thus liturgy is an action of the Whole Christ (Christus totus) CCC 1136.

There are specific roles for the members of the liturgical assembly which cannot be replaced or substituted.  “In liturgical celebrations each person, minister or layman, who has an office to perform, should carry out all and only those parts which pertain to his office by the nature of the rite and the norms of the liturgy. (SC 28, CCC 1144).

  • Perfection of Liturgical space-time: Is it leading to rubricism? (See class notes.)
  • Repetition of prayers, gestures and actions: hallmark of liturgical space-time. (See class notes.)

IV.  Liturgy: Source of Theology and Spirituality

  1. 1.      Theology of Liturgy and Liturgical Theology

            What is theology of liturgy?  Is it a scientific understanding of liturgy, dealing with the theological principles governing liturgy? Does it aim at providing liturgy with a theological basis?  There has been the tendency to consider liturgy as devoid of theological content, and hence a theology of liturgy would be striving to discover some theological basis for liturgy. Is it the theology which emerges from liturgy, like a babe detaching itself from the womb? Theology of liturgy is neither that which serves as a theological treatment of liturgy nor that which is born from liturgy.  It is the theology that is found in the very action of liturgy.  Therefore, it is liturgical theology or worshipping theology.

            Liturgical theology does not come from liturgy:  It arises in and as liturgy. Theology which is liturgical arises in the liturgical structures and does not detach from liturgical rite. Liturgy is theology in action, it is not merely a rubrical resource for the allegedly real theologians to rummage through.  (Fagerberg pp.14-15). Liturgical action is theological act.  It is in this sense that Aidan Kavanagh calls liturgical theology as theologia prima and theological reflections on liturgy as theologia secunda. (Kavanagh 74-75).

The liturgical rite is the ontological condition for what is itself a genuine theology. (Fagerberg p.14).  Encounter with God precedes reflection upon that encounter. Liturgical theology originates and resides in the communal rite.  This theology, the one that is liturgical, does not originate and reside in individual minds but is by definition found in the structure of the rite.  The only starting point for uncovering liturgical theology is to investigate concrete liturgical rites.

  • Lex orandi, lex credendi

            This axiom Lex orandi, lex credendi means that law of prayer is law of belief. The law of prayer (lex orandi) establishes the law of belief (lex credendi). Liturgy is the source of the faith.  Liturgy is the celebration of the faith.  The faith is formally declared and celebrated in liturgy. The Eastern Churches especially look to the liturgy for the proper formulation of faith.  Changes of the formulae in liturgy can change the faith itself.

  • Christian spirituality is liturgical spirituality.

            Spirituality is living the faith which is celebrated in liturgy.  It is a life according to the celebration. It is living the experience of vertical communion in life.  Life becomes a ‘new liturgical space-time’ in which quddaša of God (eucharistia) and quddaša of man (communion with God and fellow beings) are celebrated through the signs and symbols of life.  Life becomes the new altar on which the anabatic and katabatic Qurbana are celebrated. Spirituality is a life of horizontal leitourgia.  It is one of continuous horizontal ‘eucharistia’, quddaša and Qurbana.  In fact the spirituality of the Christian is centered on the Eucharist. (SC10; LG 11).  Hence it may be called a eucharistic spirituality.

V. Liturgical Diversity

1. The Origin and Development of Different Liturgical Traditions

One and the same Paschal mystery is celebrated in diverse forms in different Churches. However, the emphasis on a particular aspect of the mystery differs in different liturgical traditions.  For example, even though the eucharistic liturgy is commemoration of the entire Paschal mystery of Christ, that is, the passion, death and resurrection, the East Syrian anaphoras seem to emphasise the resurrection whereas the Roman anaphoras emphasise the passion and death. The plurality of liturgy is a characteristic feature of the Christian Orient.  However, the Christian West was well acquainted with the liturgical diversity. Besides the Roman liturgy there were the Ambrosian, Gallican, Celtic, Mozarabic and African liturgies.  We may still hear of the Bragan (of the diocese Braga in Portugal) and Lyonsian (of the diocese of Lyons) liturgies.  Of these only the Ambrosian (in Milan) and the Mozarabic (Toledo Cathedral) survive today.

            In order to understand the significance of the liturgical diversity, we have to examine the historical development of the Christian liturgy.  The first two centuries constituted a period of the basic formulation of Christian liturgy.  In this period we do not find any systematic tradition specific to any Church either in the East or in the West.  The basic Christian liturgy was uniform everywhere.  But gradually there developed certain specific elements in different Churches.  The liturgical expressions used in an important Church or by a well-known bishop were borrowed by others.  Thus the Patriarchal Churches developed certain stereotyped liturgies, which their daughter Churches adopted.  The third and fourth centuries witnessed tendencies of growth in considerable variety in both structure and content of the un co-ordinated local traditions of prayer. Fourth century was important for the mutual borrowing and adaptation in all Rites of the great Sees.  The mutual borrowings between the great liturgical traditions contributed to the process of ritual unification.

            The ultimate ground for the liturgical diversity is Church’s mission itself.  The Apostolic preaching was characterised by the Christ-experience that each of the Apostles had.  This different Christ-experience was proclaimed in different cultures.  Thus the diversity of the Christ-experience of the preaching and the cultural background of the people who took the Gospel message accounted for different Churches and different modes of the celebration of faith.  Churches of the same geographical and cultural area came to celebrate the mystery of Christ through particular expressions characterised by the culture. (CCC 1202). According to Anton Baumstark, the proponent of the study of comparative liturgy, differences of race and language and the peculiar genius of each people (all of them things created and willed by God) are, for the liturgical forms, the factors which necessarily govern their variations. (Baumstark, Comparative Liturgy, 1) To account for the differences it is necessary to consider the ethnic, cultural and linguistic character of the regions where the liturgy developed.

It took centuries before each liturgy acquired its own individuality or genuine characteristic shape.  The end of the Patristic age may be regarded as the final stage in this development.  In determining the final shape of the different liturgies, the Fathers of the Church played a decisive role.  Each liturgy may be seen as a Patristic synthesis on the basis of the Sacred Scriptures and Tradition.


2. Rite and Liturgy

            The word ‘rite’ in common parlance means a ceremony.  It is the mode of performing something. In this sense the mode of performing a liturgical act is called liturgical rite of that function.  (e.g. rite of fraction and consignation, rite of Communion.).  The complex of the modes of performing all the liturgical items or functions is often called rite.  In this sense liturgy and Rite may be seen as synonymous.  Sometimes, a liturgical tradition as a whole is called a Rite.  In the canonical sense ‘Rite’, sometimes, denotes a particular Church.  In Orientalium Ecclesiarum 2 we find the expression Particular Church or Rite. Here the word Rite includes the liturgy, ecclesiastical discipline and spiritual patrimony of particular Churches.  According to Code of Canons for the Oriental Churches (CCEO) “Rite is the liturgical, theological, spiritual and disciplinary patrimony, culture and circumstances of history of a distinct people, by which its own manner of living the faith is manifested in each Church sui juris.” (can. 28 § 1).


3. Families of Eastern Liturgies


I. Antiochene

  1. a.      West Syrian: Used by the Catholic Syrians and Jacobites in the Middle East and elsewhere. Language: West Syriac and Arabic.
  2. b.     Malankara: Used by the Malankara Catholic Church, Orthodox Syrian and Syrian Orthodox Churches in India and elsewhere. Language: West Syriac and Malayalam.
  3. c.      Maronite: Used by the Maronites in Lebanon and elsewhere. Language: West Syriac and Arabic.

II. East Syrian (Mesopotamian or Persian)

  1. a.      Assyrian: Used by the Assyrian Church of the East (non-Catholic) in the Middle East, India (Trichur) and elsewhere. Language: East Syriac, Surath (dialect of Syriac), and Arabic.
  2. b.     Chaldean: Used by the Chaldean Church (Catholic) in the Middle East and elsewhere. Language: East Syriac, Surath (dialect of Syriac), and Arabic.
  3. c.      Syro-Malabar: Used by the Syro-Malabar Church in India and elsewhere. Language: Malayalam.

III. Alexandrian Liturgies

  1. a.      Coptic: Used by the Catholic and non-Catholic Copts in Egypt and elsewhere. Language: Old Coptic and Arabic.
  2. b.     Ethiopian:  Used by Catholic and non-Catholic Ethiopians in Ethiopia, Asmara, and elsewhere. Language: Ge’ez.

IV. Byzantine (Constantinopolitan)

                        The places where the different liturgies of Byzantine tradition are used, and the languages in which they are used, are evident from the very names of the liturgies.

  1. a.      Albanian
  2. b.     Bulgarian
  3. c.      Greek Orthodox
  4. d.     Hungarian
  5. e.      Italo-Albanian
  6. f.      Melkite (Used in the Middle East and elsewhere)
  7. g.     Romanian
  8. h.     Russian
  9. i.       Ruthenian
  10. j.       Slovak
  11. k.     Ukrainian
  12. l.       Yugosalvian
  13. m.   Byelorussian

V. Armenian

                        Used by the Catholic and non-Catholic Armenians in Armenia, Lebanon and elsewhere.

4. Necessity of Fostering the Liturgical Identity: Postmodern Theological Perspective

            All the liturgical rites are of equal right and dignity.  The Church wishes to preserve them in the future and to foster them in every way. (SC 4).

            The rich diversity in the lex orandi contributes to a better and comprehensive understanding of the lex credendi.   Liturgy is celebration of the mystery of faith, however, various liturgical traditions are different forms of celebrating one and the same mystery of faith.  Thus the various and rich aspects of the mystery of Christ find expression in the liturgies of various Churches. A single and uniform celebration would not be able to bring out all the important aspects of the mystery of faith.  From the postmodern theological perspective which emphasises the significance of a variety of theological explanations of the one and the same mystery of faith the diversity of liturgical celebration is necessary and contributes to a better liturgical theology.   Only through the diverse celebrations of the different liturgical traditions that the mystery of faith may be perfectly presented in the Church.  Therefore, the preservation and promotion of the different liturgical traditions is a grave requirement for the preservation and promotion of  true Christian faith.

[1] G. Dix, The Shape of the Liturgy, London 1986, 335.

[2]Dix, Shape of Liturgy, 335.

[3] T.J. Talley, “Liturgical Calendar”, in P.E. Funk, ed., New Dictionary of Sacramental Worship, 154.

[4]P. Bradshaw, Early Christian Worship: A Basic Introduction to Ideas and Practice, London 1996, 75.

[5]C. Jones et al., ed., The Study of Liturgy, London-New York 1993,457.

[6]R. Taft, Lecture Notes, PIO, Rome, 1993, 21.

[7] C. Jones et al., ed., The Study of Liturgy, 456.

[8] Rev 1.10; Ignatius, ad Magnes, 9.I; Did, 14.I.

[9] Tertullian, De Cor 3.4.

[10] J.A. Jungmann, Early Liturgy, 21.

[11] I Apology 67.

[12] Eusebius, Vita Const. 4.18. C. Jones et al., ed., The Study of Liturgy, 456-457.

[13] I Apology 67.

[14] P. Jounel, “The Year”, in A.G. Martimort et al., ed., The Church at Prayer, Vol. IV: The Liturgy and Time, trans., M. J. O’Connell, Collegeville, Minnesota 1985, p.18; Jungmann, Early Liturgy, 21.

[15] Ep. of Barnabas, 15.8.

[16] Basil, De spirit sanct. 27.

[17] Capit. 24; PL 105.198. The Study of Liturgy,  457

[18] The Sabbath plays a very important role in the Jewish festal year.  It is the end and crown of the seven-day week and may be called the primordial feast day of the Jewish people. The Jewish Sabbath was not only a day of rest from work, on which the people sought to imitate “the repose of God”, but also a day for “holy convocation” and an “appointed feast of the Lord.” (Lev 23.3 and 2). A. Adam, The Liturgical Year: Its History and its Meaning after the Reform of the Liturgy, New York 1981, pp.7-8.

[19] Talley, “Liturgical Calendar”, 153.

[20] Dix, Shape of Liturgy, 337.

[21] Talley, “Liturgical Calendar”, 154.

[22] In the East, at the end of the third century, the eucharist was celebrated not only on the day of resurrection but also on Saturday. Schmemann, Intr. Lit Th., pp.154-155.  Probably the development of Saturday simply continued the Judeo-Christian tradition in the Eastern Churches. Schmemann, Intr155.“It can hardly be doubted that the Judeo-Christian communities continuedto clebrate Saturday as a holiday above all as a commemoration of the creation.”Schmemann, Intr 155.

[23] P.F. Bradshaw, The Search for the Origin of Christian Worship, Oxford University Press 1992,  192.

[24] Ep.Barna., XV.9. Dix, Shape of Liturgy,336.

[25] Taft, Lecture Notes, 18.

[26] Taft, Lecture Notes, 18.

[27] Bradshaw, The Search for the Origin of Christian Worship, 193.

[28] D.A. Carson, ed., from Sabbath to Lord’s Day, Grand Rapids 1982; Bradshaw, The Search for the Origin of Christian Worship, 193.

[29] Taft, Lecture Notes, 18.

[30] Dix, Shape of Liturgy, 336-337.

[31] The Study of Liturgy,  457.

[32] Taft, Lecture Notes, 21.

[33] Talley, “Liturgical Calendar”, 153.

[34] Apology I, 65,67.

[35] The Study of Liturgy,  457.

[36] Bibliographica hagiographica latina, n.7492. The Study of Liturgy,  457.

[37] In Epist. I Ad Cor. Hom 27; PG 61.227. The Study of Liturgy,  457.

[38] R.H. Connolly, trans., The Syrian Didascalia, Oxford 1929, p.124.

[39] The Study of Liturgy,  457.

[40] Tertullian, de Cor. 3; Cassian, Institutes 2.18; Tertullian, de Orat. 23; Canon 20 of the Council of Nicaea.

[41] The Study of Liturgy,  458.

[42] Bradshaw, Early Christian Worship, 78.

[43] The word pascha is the Greek form of the Hebrew Pesach = Passover.

[44] SC 102.

[45] Talley, “Liturgical Calendar”, 154.

[46] According to Venerable Bede (+735), the name Easter is from the name of the Anglo-Saxon Spring goddess, Eostre. Another view is that it is from the middle high German word Urständ (resurrection). Still another view is that it is a derivation from East. Honorius of Autun says: “Just as the sun, sfter setting in the West, rises again in the East, so did Christ, the sun of justice, rise again in the East after his descent into death”.  The modern scholars propose the view that it is from the Christian phrase hebdomada in albis (week in the white vestments).  The people misunderstood the in albis as a plural of alba (dawn), and translated it as eostarun (Old High German).  In this explanation too, the idea of Christ as the sun that rises in the East is in the background. Adam, Liturgical Year,  63.

[47] Cf. The Study of Liturgy,   459-460.

[48] Taft, Lecture Notes,21.

[49] T.J. Talley, The Origins of the Liturgical Year, Collegeville, Minnesota 1991,p5.

[50] The Study of Liturgy,  459.

[51] Dix, Shape of Liturgy, 337.

[52] Talley, The Origins of the Liturgical Year, 1.

[53] Talley, The Origins of the Liturgical Year, 1.

[54] Talley, “Liturgical Calendar”, 154.

[55] The Study of Liturgy,  459.

[56] Dix, Shape of Liturgy, 338.

[57] Talley, The Origins of the Liturgical Year,1.

[58] It is the Johannine tradition of Christ’s death on 14 Nisan that has been most significant in shaping the liturgical year.

[59] Talley, The Origins of the Liturgical Year,3.

[60] Talley, “Liturgical Calendar”, 154.

[61] Dix, Shape of Liturgy, 338.

[62] Dix, Shape of Liturgy, 339.

[63] Taft, Lecture Notes, 18.

[64] Talley, The Origins of the Liturgical Year, 232.

[65] Eusebius, HE V. 24.1-7. (NPNF II.I, p.242.

[66] Talley, The Origins of the Liturgical Year, 19.

[67] Talley, The Origins of the Liturgical Year, 27.

[68] Talley, The Origins of the Liturgical Year, 27.

[69] Talley, The Origins of the Liturgical Year,  30.

[70] Talley, The Origins of the Liturgical Year, 31.

[71] Later Egyptian sources testify that epiphany was followed at once by a fast of forty days, commemorating the temptation of Christ in the wilderness.  This was concluded in the sixth and final week with the conferral of baptism prior to Palm Sunday.

[72] Talley, Liturgical Calendar”, 158.

[73] Dix, Shape of Liturgy, 340.

[74] For the Thomas Christians and Chaldeans Sundays and Saturdays, except Holy Saturday, are not considered fasting days.  Hence they add four days (Monday through Thursday) from the Holy Week to make 40 days of Lent. (7×5+1=36;  36+4=40).

[75] P. Jounel, “The Year”, 69.

[76] Bradshaw, Early Christian Worship, 78-79.

[77] Bradshaw, Early Christian Worship, 79.

[78] Cf. Didache 8; Didascalia Apostolrum 5.

[79] A. Schmemann, Introduction to Liturgical Theology, New York 1996, 157.

[80] The phrase ember days comes from the German contraction of the Latin “quattuor tempora” to quatember. Talley, “Liturgical Calendar”,151. Cf. Jounel, “The Year”, 29.

[81] From the time of Gelasius I at the end of the 5th century, they were among the days designated as especially appropriate for the ordination of deacons and presbyters. In the time of Leo I (440-461) the seasonal fasts fell in the first week of Lent, the week following Pentecost, in September and in December. Gregory VII assigned precise times for them: Wednesday, Friday and Saturday of the first week of lent, of the octave of Pentecost, and following September 14 and December 13. Talley, “Liturgical Calendar”, 151.

[82] Dix, Shape of Liturgy, 342-343.

[83] Schmemann, Introduction to Liturgical Theology, 157.

[84] Schmemann, Introduction to Liturgical Theology, 158.

[85] Talley, “Liturgical Calendar”, 158.

[86] Taft, Lecture Notes.

[87] Schmemann, Introduction to Liturgical Theology, 176.

[88] Schmemann, Introduction to Liturgical Theology, 176.

[89] Taft, Lecture Notes.

[90] Adam, Liturgical Year, 25.

[91] Taft, Lecture Notes.

[92] Schmemann, Introduction to Liturgical Theology, 174.

[93] Schmemann, Introduction to Liturgical Theology, 177.

[94] Adam, Liturgical Year, 25.

[95] Dix, Shape of Liturgy, 341.

[96] Talley, “Liturgical calendar”, 155.

[97] Talley, The Origins of the Liturgical Year,  154.

[98] Adam, Liturgical Year, 11.

[99] Talley, The Origins of the Liturgical Year,  59.

[100] P.Jounel, “The Year”, 17.

[101] Talley, “Liturgical Calendar”, 155.

[102] Dix, Shape of Liturgy, 340.

[103] Talley, The Origins of the Liturgical Year,  42-43.

[104] P.Jounel, “The Year”, 49.

[105] Talley, “Liturgical Calendar”, 55.

[106] Study of Liturgy, 461.

[107] Jounel, “The Year”, pp.50-51.

[108] Talley, The Origins of the Liturgical Year, 44-48.

[109] Study of Liturgy, 462.

[110] Talley, The Origins of the Liturgical Year, 54-55.

[111] Schmemann, Introduction to Liturgical Theology, 159.

[112] Talley, “Liturgical Calendar”, 155-156.

[113] Schmemann, Introduction to Liturgical Theology, 160-161.

[114] Talley, “Liturgical Calendar”, 156.

[115] Talley, “Liturgical Year”, 158.

[116] Talley, “Liturgical Calendar”, 157.

[117] Schmemann, Introduction to Liturgical Theology, 176.

[118] Bradshaw, Early Christian Worship, 86. This manuscript known as the Almanac of 354 was compiled by the Greek artist Furius Dionysius Filocalus for the use of a rich Christian.  It contains two lists of anniversaries. Jounel, “The Year”, 78.

[119] Bradshaw, Early Christian Worship, 86. Cf. Talley, “Liturgical Calendar”, 156.

[120] Bradshaw, Early Christian Worship, 87.

[121] This calculation is based on the computation hypothesis of Mgr. Louis Duchesne at the end of the 19th century. Talley, “Liturgical Year”, 156.

[122] Bradshaw, Early Christian Worship, 88.

[123] Jounel, “The Year”, 79.

[124] Talley, The Origins of the Liturgical Year, 147.

[125] Adam, Liturgical Year, 130.

[126] Jounel, “The Year”, 93.  Cf. Study of Liturgy, 468.

[127] Adam, Liturgical Year, 149-154.

[128] Jounel, “The Year”, 97.

[129] Jounel, “The Year”, 99.

[130] Jounel, “The Year”, 102-103.

[131] Talley, “Liturgical Calendar”, 160.

[132] Taft, Lecture Notes.

[133] Bradshaw, Early Christian Worship, 91.

[134] Bradshaw, Early Christian Worship, 91.

[135] Bradshaw, Early Christian Worship, 92.

[136] T.J. Talley, “Liturgical Calendar”, 152.

[137] Jounel, “The Year”, 119.

[138] Jounel, “The Year”, 120.

[139] Jounel, “The Year”, 121.

[140] Talley, “Liturgical Calendar”, 159-160.

[141] Taft, Lecture Notes.

[142] Study of Liturgy, 469.

[143] Study of Liturgy, 482.

[144] Jounel, “The Year”, 131-132.

[145] Jounel, “The Year”, 133-137.

[146] Jounel, “The Year”, 137-141.

[147] Talley, “Liturgical Calendar”, 152.

[148] Adam, Liturgical Year, 53.

[149] Talley, “Liturgical Calendar”, 159.

[150] Adam, Liturgical Year, 19

[151] Adam, Liturgical Year, 20-21.

[152] Katrij, OSBM, Julian, A Byzantine Rite Liturgical Year, Basilian Press: Toronto, 1992, pp 11-16.

[153] Katrij, OSBM, Julian, A Byzantine Rite Liturgical Year pp 24-30.

[154] J.A. Jungmann, The Early Liturgy, University of Notre Dame, 1980, p. 161.

[155] A. Adam, Liturgical Year, 19.

[156] T.J. Talley, “Liturgical Calendar”, 162.

[157] G. Dix, Shape of the Liturgy, 369.

[158] Talley, “Liturgical Calendar”, 163.


  1. 1.     Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Concilium.
  2. 2.     Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1994, §§ 1066-1690.
  3. 3.     Instruction for Applying the Liturgical Prescriptions of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, 1996.
  4. 4.     G. Dix, The Shape of the Liturgy, London 1986.
  5. 5.     A. G. Martimort, ed., The Church at Prayer, Vol. I.: Principles of the Liturgy, Collegeville, Minnesota 1987.
  6. 6.     A.J. Chupungco, ed., Handbook for Liturgical Studies, Vol.I: Introduction to the Liturgy, Collegeville, Minnesota 1997.
  7. 7.     E. J. Kilmartin, Christian Liturgy.I. Theology, Kansas City 1988.
  8. 8.     J. Corbon, The Wellspring of Worship, New York 1988 (Indian edition: Bombay 1996).
  9. 9.     A. Schmemann, Introduction to Liturgical Theology, New York 1986.

10. A. Kavanagh, On Liturgical Theology: The Hale Memorial Lectures of Seabury Western Theological Seminary, 1981, Collegeville, Minnesota 1992.

  1. 11.   D.W. Fagerberg, What is Liturgical Theology: A Study in Methodology, Collegeville Minnesota 1992.
  2. 12.   G.M. Braso, Liturgy and Spirituality, Collegeville, Minnesota 1971.
  3. 13.   C. Vagaggini, Theological Dimensions of the Liturgy, Collegeville, Minnesota 1976.
  4. 14.   A. Verheul, Introduction to the Liturgy: Towards a Theology of Worship, Collegeville, Minnesota 1968.
  5. 15.   H. Wegman, Christian Worship in East and West: A Study Guide to Liturgical History, Collegeville, Minnesota 1990.
  6. 16.   R. Taft, Beyond East and West:Problems in Liturgical Understanding, Washington D.C. 1984.
  7. 17.   C. Jones & Others, ed., The Study of Liturgy, New York 1992.
  8. 18.   P. Maniyattu, Heaven on Earth: The Theology of Liturgical Space-time in the East Syrian Qurbana,  Rome 1995.
  9. 19.   P. Maniyattu, ed., East Syriac Theology: An Introduction, Satna 2007.
  10.      19.  M. Eliade, Sacred and Profane: The Nature of Religion, New York 1961.

Pauly Maniyattu


July 2009

Conference of Religious India (CRI)

CRI (Conference of Religious India)

Origin and Development of CRI

 “Major Superiors can usefully meet together in conferences and councils, so that by combined effort they may work to achieve more fully the purpose of each institute, while respecting the autonomy, nature and spirit of each. They can also deal with affairs which are common to all, and work to establish suitable coordination and cooperation with Episcopal conferences and individual Bishops”. (Canon 708)

With the coming into existence of an independent nation, the Church in India had to rely on its own sons and daughters for her vitality and mission. God blessed us with numerous vocations to Religious Life. Drawing inspiration from Pope Pius XII, the Major Superiors of Religious Institutes in India met in conference, separately at first as men and women in 1960-61, and then jointly in 1962. In 1963 the Holy See formally erected CRI by approving the Statutes. The same year it became a registered society under the Societies Registration Act of 1860.

Growing along with the “aggiornamento” of Vatican II, CRI Became an effective means of renewal during the 1960’s, as indicated by the themes of the National Conferences :

Chastity in the modern world (1961); Sanctifying Grace (1962); Religious Poverty, Training of Religious (1963); Religious Life and Liturgy (1965); Religious Obedience (1966); Renewal and Adaptation (1967)

The 1970’s and 1980’s saw an effort and effective contribution towards the re-orientation of Apostolate. This was indirectly influenced by the “Church in India Today” Seminar (1969) and the Synod of Bishops on “Justice in the World”. (1972). Based on the experience gained, and the reading of the signs of the time, the Statutes went in for a revision and a new Statute was approved in 1980. With it, structural modifications began. The Brothers became a distinct section. The permanent Secretary system changed to a National Secretary, with a specific term of office, and responsibilities. An independent Secretariat came into existence with additional Religious staff other than the National Secretary. Financial restructuring facilitated more effective functioning of CRI. The theme of the National Assemblies during the 1980’s, and their statements, indicate the prophetic role of religious leadership in the country:

The 1992 National Assembly in Calcutta called for a breakthrough from prophetic animation to prophetic action that can bring people-centred and issue-based dynamics into the organisation. Consequently, the Assembly called for the revitalisation of CRI at all levels. The rationale of the revitalisation was the situation of the poor in our country, and the prophetic voice that speaks within us as Religious. The five-fold thrust of revitalisation was

(1) the cry of My people; (2) proclamation in deed; (3) prophetic – activist leadership; (4) liberation movement thrust; (5) solidarity in networking

The Regional and Local levels were strengthened, with structures and specific objectives, aimed at making the CRI an instrument capable of responding more precisely to the needs of the Religious, of the Christian community and of society as a whole.

Though the CRI is a conference of Major Superiors, it is perceived as a body of 1,15,000 religious leaders spread all over the country, and involved in the lives of every group of people.

Mission & Vision

“Major Superiors can usefully meet together in conferences and council, so that by combined effort they may work to achieve more fully the purose of each institute, while respecting the autonomy, nature and spirit of each. They can also deal with affrairs which are common to all, and work to establish sutable coordination and cooperation with Episcopal conferences and individual Bishops”. (Canon 709)

Goals of CRI

1.To bring together the major superiors of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, So that they share the experiences, challenges and concerns of their religious commitment and get mutually enriched.

2. To make combined effort to achieve more fully the purpose of each Institute, while respecting the autonomy, nature and spirit of each (CIC c. 708).    

3. To deal with matters common to all Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, especially those affecting consecrated life in India, and to work to establish suitable co-ordination and co-operation with various Episcopal bodies and with individual bishops (CIC c. 708)

4. To promote fellowship at all levels of the Christian community in a spirit of humble service and in collaboration with all sections of the people of God and all people of good will.

Functions of CRI   

The goals of CRI are to be achieved more specifically through the following objectives and corresponding functions.

1. To focus the attention of the religious constantly on their common mission within the Church, according to their own charism and context of the complex Indian reality:          

a. By helping its members bear witness to the unique role of the contemplation of the Father in the mission of Christ; and by supporting the emergence of new forms of religious life in harmony with the Indian spiritual reality;

b. By fostering in the religious, both a sense of belonging to the local Church and a genuine concern for and openness to the needs of the universal Church;         

c. By developing among the religious, both a sense of belonging to the local Church and a genuine concern for and openness to the needs of the universal Church;

d. Urging them to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ, leading people to an explicit acceptance of Christ in the Church if the Spirit so calls them;

e. Bearing witness to Christ’s preferential love for the poor and the marginalized in the choice of their apostolic work and target groups;

f. Calling for a sense of urgency to share their Christ experience with those of other faiths, in a spirit of mutual dialogue, and with non-believers, in a search for common basic values;              

g. Involving the process of inculturation in all aspects of life and work: liturgy, spirituality, theology, value systems, lifestyle, etc.

h. Demanding that the religious keep abreast of the Indian situation and assume their duties as citizens of a country beset with many problems, among which stands out the need for national integration; and

i. Furthering research into those spiritual and cultural values, a deeper understanding and assimilation of which is imperative for religious to be more authentic and relevant Christian witnesses in the local context.         

2. To pool resources and coordinate efforts:      

a. By Enabling its members through regular meetings and timely communications to share common concerns and to set and review goals;

b. By encouraging inter-institutional collaboration in those aspects of the Church’s activities, which call for coordinated efforts.                

3. To provide opportunities for consultation and dialogue:           

a. With the laity in a spirit of openness and trust, so that common problems can be resolved in a sense of mutual interdependence;            

b. With its own members and other groups, including government authorities when needed.   

4. To offer service:         

a. By Helping the religious to grow in all aspects of religious life and particularly in the convictions that their commitment requires of them: a deep life of prayer and the spirit of contemplation;

b. By assisting its members in their task of formation and in the renewal of religious life;

c. By providing opportunities for major superiors to develop their role as animators and leaders;

d. By fostering the study of those trends and developments within the Church which affect the role of religious and by encouraging the formulation of guidelines for action related to them.   

5. To Promote relationship:                        

a. CRI does not interfere with the legitimate autonomy of each Institute and the responsibility of the respective superiors; however, being a forum for communion among the religious, it can have an inspirational role and be a dynamic element for religious life in India.

b. Relations with bishops: CRI acknowledges the authority of individual bishops as per the provisions of Canon Law and of the various episcopal bodies of India and other episcopal bodies, and works in collaboration with them in matters of common concern for the Church in India.

c. At the level of the universal Church, CRI loyally accepts the unique role of the successor of Peter and readily follows the directives of the Apostolic See.

Conference of Religious India (CRI)
Address : Masihgarh, New Friends Colony P.O.
Okhla, New Delhi – 110 025
Phone : +91 11 2692.3911, 2691.9550
Fax : +91 11 2691.8932
E-mail : cridelhi@gmail.com
The nearest Railway Station is Nizamuddin (NZM).
The landmarks are Holy Family & Escort Hospitals



Dr Thomas Pallippurathukunnel
Dr Thomas Pallippurathukunnel

Fr Thomas Pallippurathukunnel

              The contemporary period begins with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. Peace of Westphalia was a treaty that ended the thirty years war (1618-1648) between the Catholics and the Protestants. The war started with the election of the catholic Jesuit educated Ferdinand II as the emperor and king of Bohemia. The Protestants appealed to the emperor for protection and a guarantee of their religious liberties. Receiving no satisfaction they revolted against the king. In 1618 they (Bohemian rebels) declared Ferdinand deposed and elected a Protestant Frederick as their king. This caused a conflict between the Catholics and the Protestants all over Germany.  Later the Protestants in Denmark and Sweden also became involved in this war.

            In the beginning the Catholics were successful, later the Protestants with the support of France won. After thirty years of war peace was settled on 24 October 1648. As a result of this treaty a principle “cujus regio ejus religio” was adapted. The treaty also ratified the confiscation of ecclesiastical property. It provided certain absurd religious arrangements, whereby some dioceses were to be held alternately by Catholics and Protestants.  Pope Innocent X (1649 55) protested vehemently against this treaty.

            Peace of Westphalia marked the end of a period of history and the beginning of a new, whereby the Catholic Church became one of the several Christian Churches. Internal politics were now carried on without reference to Rome. Religion had become a private affair and was driven out of political and social life. It led to the process of secularization, the characteristic of modern history.

In the years following the treaty of Westphalia, the position of papacy was an extremely difficult one.  The popes of this period witnessed a definite decline in the political prestige and ecclesiastical authority of the Roman Curia.  The catholic rulers of Europe exerted powerful influence in the election of popes. They often humiliated the popes by exerting their superior political power.  State absolutism opposed the freedom and privileges of the church.

1. Decline of the Church and the Absolute State.

            The decline of the Church and the growth of the absolute state power are the two characteristics of the 17th and 18th centuries. The rulers in the catholic countries looked upon religion as a political concern. They felt that it was their right to control the church through the power of appointing members of the hierarchy and binding them closely to themselves. The interference of the popes in the domestic affairs of the state was considered as an illegitimate foreign intrusion. The popes of this period were generally good, but they granted concessions to make peace between Rome and the catholic kings.

Gallicanism was a typical example of the absolute power of the state. It means that the king has absolute power in his state to control the church. It came to a most complete expression in France in the 17th century but it was also realized in one way or another in almost every catholic country

            Gallicanism as a programme adopted whatever measures increased the independence of the national church and lessened the papal authority in the country.  These measures could be to increase the authority of bishops -Episcopal Gallicanism –which found its justification in the council of Constance (1414- 17) and Basel (1431) or to increase the royal power over the national church –Royal Gallicanism. As an attitude Gallicanism was the religious manifestation of nationalism. It was a tendency to ignore Rome and to develop a peculiarly “national church”. As a doctrine Gallicanism held that the pope was subject to a general council and his authority over the church in foreign countries is limited.

History of Gallicanism

In the beginning of the seventeenth century several French theologians and canonists began to decrease the importance of the pope. They refused to consider the pope a universal bishop and demanded superiority of the general council over the pope and maintained that the council could be convened even without the pope. They concluded that the pope was in no way omnipotent and that natural law and even the civil law of Christian nations placed limits upon his authority. Yet the French theologians unanimously acknowledged the true primacy of the pope, his universal authority and his position as the center of the unity of Christians.

The claims of political gallicanism had been formulated in 1594 by Pierre Pithou, a lawyer of the French parliament. According to him the king had the right to rule over his clergy and to convoke national councils. The pope could not interfere in the affairs of the church without the permission of the king. He could not excommunicate the king or his official nor could he absolve the subjects from obedience to the king. Another author Pierre de Marca limited papal infallibility to those matters which received the consent of the church. He defended the right of the king to censure ecclesiastics in his country

Cardinal Richelieu, the chief minister of France (1624) advanced this theory. He wanted to suppress episcopal gallicanism and to strengthen royal gallicanism. He promised the king that he would make him an absolute ruler. His aim was to make French church into a patriarchate with himself as its head. But he died before it was taken place (1642).

Gallicanism under Louis XIV (1643-1715 ruler 1660 1715)

A revival of gallican ideas can be perceived from the beginning of rule of Louis XIV.  He believed that he was a divinely instituted ruler over the church and the state. Hence he admitted no limitations on his power. In 1661 the Flemish Jesuit Coret challenged his authority and defended divinely instituted infallibility of the pope. Louis branded this theory as the new heresy of the Jesuits.

            In the following years there occurred certain events that favoured gallicanism and created an antipapal feeling in France.

1. The violent confrontation between the Corsican guards and the French soldiers. The confrontation took place on 20 August 1662 near the French embassy in Rome. Louis  then  expelled the papal nuncio and declared Avignon and Venesian County annexed to France. He even threatened to attack Italy. Pope Alexander VII (1655 1667) apologized and punished the guards and erected a monument to commemorate the event. This event though apparently had no doctrinal significance had been made use of by Louis to create antipapal feeling in France.

2. The right of regalia. It was the right the French king enjoyed during the vacancy of a diocese to receive its revenues (temporal) and to appoint benefices (candidates). In France this had been limited to a few dioceses and Lyons 11 (1274) had forbidden further extension. On 10 February 1673 Louis declared that it was an inherent and inalienable right of the king and he extended it over all dioceses of France. 118/120 bishops supported the king. Pope Innocent XI (1676-89) condemned it.

In 1682 a general assembly of the clergy was convoked to settle the question. It recognized the right of the king to extend the right of regalia to all dioceses and suggested that the candidates presented by the king should be canonically installed. This assembly approved the four Gallican Articles formulated by Bossuet, bishop of Meaux:

1) The church and the pope have no power over the temporal rulers. They cannot depose the king nor release the subjects from obedience to the king.

2) The exercise of papal power is limited by the customs and privileges of the gallican church.

3) The papal power is limited by a general council.

4) The pope has the chief voice in deciding the questions of faith but he needs the consent of the whole church.

The king ordered that these articles be taught in all seminaries and formally subscribed to by everyone taking a degree in theology. Pope Innocent XI condemned the assembly and the articles. He refused to confirm the appointment as bishop anyone who attended the assembly. Louis insisted on nominating only those who participated the assembly. Therefore by 1687 there were some thirty sees vacant.

3. The Embassy dispute. The embassies in Rome claimed the right of asylum not only to the embassies themselves but also for a large district surrounding the buildings. This created difficulties for the police authorities. Pope Innocent XI limited this right to the embassy and its gardens. All European countries except France conformed. The pope excommunicated those who acted contrary to the decree. In spite of having been excommunicated, the new French Ambassador Marquis de Lavardin entered Rome and had the sacraments administered to himself at the church of San Luigi dei Francesi on 24 December 1687. As a result the church was interdicted. At the beginning of January 1688 Innocent XI secretly informed Louis that he and his ministers had been excommunicated. The king immediately took several countermeasures. He occupied Avignon and Venesian County and appealed to a general council. He jailed the papal nuncio and forbade the bishops any and all correspondence with Rome. During the next pontificate (Alexander VIII (1689-91) Louis returned the papal territories and consented to the restriction of the right of asylum due to the popular demand.

In 1693 a Louis withdrew his edict compelling the acceptance of the four gallican articles. In return pope Innocent X11 (1691-1700) confirmed the king’s nominees. All bishops chosen after 1682 signed a retraction: “we profess and declare that we are extremely grieved at what happened in the assembly of 1682 which is so displeasing to your Holiness and your predecessors. Hence we hold and affirm that all declarations issued by the assembly against the power of the church and the authority of the pope are herewith rescinded.” The conflict thus ended and the danger of a French schism vanished. But Gallicanism continued until the 19th century and it was adopted by other countries especially Holland, Germany, Austria and Tuscany. It not only weakened the papacy but led to a too great dependence of the church on the absolute state.

Heretical Movements.

In the following years after the Peace of Westphalia it was France that was the principal cause of Church’s anxiety. After the condemnation of Lutherinism in 1520, small groups of Protestants began to form in various towns.  During the time of Henry 11 (1547-59) Calvinism began to establish in France. Henry II was killed and in the struggle of the different factions to control the regency the religious division received a new importance. For forty years there was the conflict between the Catholics and the Calvinists. It is called wars of religion (1562-1598). During this period many Catholics were massacred. Catholic churches were sacked and destroyed (about 20.000). The Catholics rose against this. Henry 111 (1574-1589) was stabbed by a mad Dominican. His successor Henry IV (1589-1610) submitted to the church. There now began in France a revival of catholic life in all its forms.

St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622) founded a new Congregation of the Visitation. He wrote the famous book “Introduction to the devout life” and “treatise on the love of god”, one of the masterpieces of mystical theology.  These books served for the general revival of the life of prayer. The Order of Visitation (cofounder was Jane Francis de Chantal) was originally conceived as a partially active congregation without complete claustration, but in 1618, impelled by the archbishop of Lyon, it had to change into a contemplative order with ceremonious public vows. They then took over educational tasks.

            During this period there were attempts to reform the life of the clergy. Cardinal de Berulle founded the French Oratory. Two other orders  -Eudists, founded by  St. John Eudes (1611-80), the company of St. Sulpice, founded by Jean Jacques Olier- were also founded to supply well instructed and well informed parochial clergy.

            One of the greatest organizers of works of charity, who ever lived, was St. Vincent de Paul (1581-1660). He with St. Louise de Marillac founded sisters of Charity and the order of Lazarists

In those years another benevolent society -Company of the Blessed Sacrament -was founded.  Though it included priests and bishops among its members, it was under lay direction. It was the generosity of the member of this league that made possible many of the ventures of St. Vincent and the formation of Foreign Missions in 1663.

The spiritual revival of France was checked by certain heretical movements. The first among them was Jansenism.

1 Jansenism

Jansenism was a pernicious movement that disturbed the religio-ecclesiastical life of France in the 17th century. It tried to infiltrate Calvinistic thought into catholic theology and piety. It held the doctrine of predestination. It killed the prayer to the saints, practice of frequent communion etc.

Its cause was Cornelius Jansen, professor of theology at the university of Louvain and later bishop of Ypres. His book “Augustinus” seu doctrina  Augustini de humanae naturae sanitate aegretudine, medicina adversus Pelagianos et Massilienses” repeated the opinions of Michael Baius (+1589). Baius asserted that the preternatural and supernatural gifts with which Adam was endowed at creation were natural to him and therefore that original sin was more than a deprivation, it was a disorderly act which corrupted the human nature and renders it incapable of doing good.  For him free will is nothing but concupiscence (desire for worldly things). In his fallen state man can do nothing but sin. Pope Pius V (1566-1572) condemned these opinions by “Ex omnibus affectionibus” on 1 October 1567.

The book Augustinus was widely spread in Holland and France. In summer 1621 Jansen met Jean Ambrose Duvergier de Hauranne, a Frenchman, at the college of Saint Pulcherie in Louvain. Hauranne became the abbot of St. Cyran and wanted to reform caitholic life in the sense of “Augustinus”. Other leaders who supported Jansen was Antoine Arnauld (+1649), priest and theologian, the Cistercian nuns of Port-Royal of Paris where Antoine was confessor and his sister Angelique was abbess. Port-Royal was founded in 1204 by the wife of a soldier of the fourth crusade to obtain from heaven the safe return of her husband in the valley of Chevreuse. It was not enclosed, the members were free to come and go out. Mother Angelique was a daughter of a rich man who had eight daughters. Angelique (former name -Jacquiline) became coadjutrix of Port-Royal at the age of eight and her sister at the age of six. The phrase applied to these nuns is: “angelic in appearance but moved with pride of Lucifer”.

            The principal opponents of Jansenism were the Jesuits. Antoine Arnauld wrote a book De la frequente communion (1643) in which he severely criticized the practice of frequent communion as recommended by the Jesuits. He laid down very strict conditions for absolution and reception of communion. Sacrament of Penance is valid only with perfect contrition. Absolution must be withheld until the penance is performed. Holy Communion should be received only a few times a lifetime. No one is worthy to receive it. Respectful abstention from communion honours Christ more than frequent reception. The abbot of St. Cyran wrote to a nun who was saddened by not receiving communion during her illness: “You will soon understand that you do more for yourself by not going to Holy Communion than by going”.

Eighty-eight bishops urged by St. Vincent de Paul requested the pope to examine the book Augustinus. On 31 May 1653 Innocent X by his bull “cum occasione” condemned five propositions as heretical.

1. Some of the commandments of God cannot be observed by the just because they do not have the necessary grace to do so.

2. In the present state of corrupted nature man cannot resist the action of interior grace

3. Merit or demerit presupposes freedom from physical constraint not freedom from interior necessity.

4. The semipelagians erred when they taught that human will can resist or respond to grace.

5. It is semipelagian error to say that Christ died for all men.

As authentic Christians the Jansenists could not openly oppose the condemnation. They denied that the propositions were the teaching of Jansen. They distinguished between “questio juris and questio facti”. The church is infallible when she decides a matter of faith (whether a doctrine is heretical or not), but she is not infallible when she pronounces on a mere fact that has not been revealed (whether an author ever held this opinion or not or whether it is certain that a theologian taught this or that doctrine). In the latter case she cannot demand interior consent, but only a reverential or respectful silence.

Pope Alexander VII declared in 1656 that the five propositions had been taken from Jansen’s work and had been condemned in the sense in which the author had used them. Then the French bishops drew up a formula of faith to be signed by those who had refused to submit. Then the Jansenists claimed that only the pope had the right to exact such subscription. Therefore the pope issued a new constitution in 1664 with a similar formula. Louis XIV for political reasons supported the pope and opposed the Jansenists. But in spite of these measures many refused to sign it. The nuns of Port-Royal were debarred from receiving sacraments and in 1664 the archbishop of Paris placed their convent under interdict.

The four bishops of Alet, Angers, Beauvais and Pamiers first refused to sign the papal formula on the grounds that the pope is not infallible in the matters of fact. They signed a much moderated formula. When the king and the pope decided to take action against them nineteen more declared publicly that they agreed with the four bishops. The crisis was solved by a compromise known as the Clementine Peace in 1670. The Jansenist bishops agreed to sign the formula.

The Clementine peace lasted thirty years (1670-1700). During this period Jansenism spread among the diocesan clergy and it can be considered an underground movement in the French Church. Many held Jansen’s teaching to be true. Once again Port-Royal became fashionable. Many were influenced by the men and women of Port-Royal who were described as the angels on earth, saints descended from heaven.

In the beginning of the 18th century the Jansenist controversy was revived and again disturbed the French church for almost thirty years. In 1701 a new pamphlet -case of conscience -appeared. The question was whether absolution could be given to a penitent who maintained a respectful silence on the matter of Jansen’s teaching and signed the Papal formulary with the mental reservation that the five propositions were not to be found in Jansen. This became the subject of discussion among the professors of Sorbonne. Pope Clement XI (1700-1721) condemned it in 1703. At the request of Louis XIV he formally condemned the attitude of respectful silence by the bull Vineam Domini of 15 July 1705. In it he declared that a respectful silence was not enough but that the five sentences of Jansen had to be abjured with mouth and heart. However the bull did not have the desired effect. The clergy in their general assembly in 1705 declared that the constitutions of popes oblige the universal church only when the bishops give their assent. The pope’s disapproval of this declaration passed unnoticed. Since the nuns of Port-Royal refused to accept the bull  the convent was again placed under interdict in 1707. In 1709 the government suppressed the community and the building was demolished (1710-12).

            Perhaps the papal decree might have ended the jansenist trouble. But meanwhile a learned Oratorian Paschasius Quesnel (1719) published a book “reflexiones morales sur le Nouveau Testament”- moral reflections on the NT in revised edition in 1693. It met with an enthusiastic reception, but was condemned by pope Clement X1 in 1708. It insinuated Jansenism into a set of pious reflections made on each verse of the NT. Cardinal Louis Antoine de Noailles, archbishop of Paris, who as bishop of Chalons-sur Marne, had approved and recommended the book in 1695, now had to withdraw the approval

At the request of the king, pope Clement XI examined the book and issued the bull Unigenitus on 8 September 1713, in which he condemned 101 propositions taken from the Reflexiones. Four French bishops refused to accept the bull. Noailles appealed to a future pope better informed and to a general council. The universities of Paris, Nantes and Reims joined him. France was divided into two camps -the acceptants and the appellants. By the bull Pastoralis officii of 28 August 1718 the pope excommunicated the appellants. But the appellants appealed against the new bull and declared the ex­communication null and void. Finally cardinal Noailles in October 1728 declared his unconditional acceptance of the bull. Many followed his example. With this submission Jansenism as an organized movement came to an end. But Jansenism lived on in individuals and it harassed the church throughout the 18th century. It was one of the factors that led to the suppression of the Society of Jesus.

At this point the brilliant highly talented mathematician, philosopher and apologist, Blaise Pascal (+1662) – his sister was a nun in Port-Royal- wrote the letters provinciales (1656-57) against the Jesuits. It was placed on the index in 1657 and was forbidden in France by a royal decree of 1660, but the effect of the work was damaging and lasting. The Jesuits were discredited in France and in all Europe.

The magistrates of the parliament or courts interfered in the affairs of the church. In 1733 for example when certain priests in the diocese of Orleans tried to make the parishioners subscribe to the bull Unigenitus, the parliament called their conduct abusive and requested their bishop to restrain them. The most important quarrel was over the giving of last sacrament to those who refused to accept Unigenitus. Some priests refused to do so, and the parliament took legal action against them. Archbishop Christopher de Beaumont was ordered to appear before the parliament of Paris because he refused to revoke the regulation requiring subscription to unigenitus for receiving the last sacraments. The archbishop’s temporal possessions were confiscated, he was exiled from Paris and priests were forbidden to refuse the last sacraments to recalcitrant. A compromise was reached in 1756 when Pope Benedict XIV required obedience to Unigenitus but stated that the last sacraments need not be denied to any but notorious public sinners.

A small group of jansenists broke away from the church and set up a schismatic group still in existence, the Old Catholics of Holland. In 18th century it did much harm to the Church in France. It introduced into catholic circles a strong puritan note which robbed Catholicism of its richness and its full development.

            Jansenism was based on a certain doctrine of justification that proposed rigorous views of human nature and the role of grace in man’s salvation. Jansenists were austere in their morality and they considered any one opposed to them as corrupted enemies of God. Their aim was to purify the Church of all accretions since the time of the primitive Fathers.


Quietism was another heretical movement within the church in France in the 17th century. It also exaggerated and distorted the doctrine of St. Augustine. Jansenism bowed man to the ground before a dreadful God who according to His whim, called some and rejected others. Jansenist morality clouded over and dried up the heart, Quietism reached conclusions much less pessimistic; as they deviated in favour of softness as opposed to the harshness of Port­-Royal. It was a natural but extreme reaction to the stress laid on the activity and the role of the will by the Jesuits and the Vincentians.

This movement began in Rome where a Spanish priest Michael Molinos (1628-1696) had for sometime been spiritual director of a group. Molinos was in Rome as the procurator in the beatification cause of Jeronimo Simon. He was highly regarded there. Even pope Innocent XI thought well of him. In 1675 he published a book called “A spiritual guide” in Spanish and Italian. It was also translated into Latin, French and German. In 1685 he was arrested by the Inquisition and two years later Innocent XI condemned 68 propositions from his book.

The spirituality of Quietism culminated in two fundamental themes: absolute passivity and contemplation in complete spiritual tranquility. The soul must aim at mystic death, annihilation in God; allowing God to substitute Himself for the Ego and to dominate the whole being. The soul should have no desire, should make no act of love. In fact every act is displeasing to God because it interrupts the state of passive resignation. Devotion itself is harmful if it is addressed to the visible e.g. the humanity of the Man-­Christ, the Blessed Virgin or the saints. Thus one way only was offered to the mystical soul: the inward way. The purgative way was no longer necessary: away with asceticism.

Molinos taught that man must annihilate his will and all his powers so that God is perfectly free to act in the soul. The aim of spiritual life consists in such passivity of the soul that it no longer desires salvation, virtue of perfection, but rests in God without any activity or volition of its own. The perfect state of soul is one of complete passivity. For him it is wrong to resist temptation for this is a positive act of will. In the state of annihilation the soul no longer sins. Vocal prayers, mortification and struggle against temptation are not necessary for a soul that has achieved such passivity.

            After a long trial Molinos was sentenced to imprisonment for life. He accepted it humbly and silently. He passed the last nine years of life, until 1696, in prison. At this time a widow Madame Guyon (1648-1717) and her spiritual director Fr. Lacombe (1643-1712) made quietism an important movement in France. Guyon was somewhat unbalanced and claimed to have visions like St. Therese of Avila, when she was five years old and aspired to martyrdom. She said that ‘with a large needle’ she had sewn on her flesh a piece of paper bearing the name of Jesus!  She was physically and psychologically abnormal. She married a man 22 years senior to her. On the day after the wedding she declared amidst tears that marriage was to her a hateful sacrifice and that she would rather have been a nun. She lived in a mystical delight which made her forget her real life. She claimed that the Child Jesus had placed on her finger the visible ring of mystical marriage. She together with Lacombe moved from place to place and spread the quietist ideas and attracted considerable attention. She wrote a treatise called Moyen court et tres facile de faire oraison -easy and short ways for prayer. Bishops asked her to leave their dioceses. Finally the archbishop of Paris had her arrested in 1686. Lacombe was also imprisoned for alleged immorality and errors. He died insane.

Charges against Guyon’s moral conduct were never proved. She said that she would abandon her ideas as soon as they were declared false. So there seemed no reason to fear her orthodoxy. After her release, she met Fenelon, the future archbishop of Cambrai who regarded her as a holy woman. When the old rumours about her character and doctrine circulated again, the bishops decided to examine the case more thoroughly. She was arrested. Bossuet, bishop of Noailles studied the case, and drew up 34 articles in which her errors were condemned. Fenelon also signed it.

Quietism did not end when Guyon accepted the condemnation of 1690 because Fenelon and Bossuet continued the dispute. In 1699 pope Innocent XII ended the dispute by condemning 23 propositions taken from Fenelon’s writings. Fenelon submitted with his famous statement: “Please God, it may even be said of us that a pastor ought to bear in mind that he must be more docile than the least of his sheep”. Fenelon read his own condemnation from the pulpit. This put an end to quietism in France, but it damaged the contemplative life.

Decline of the Church and Secularism

In 17th and 18th.centuries the Church lost the initiative in cultural and intellectual life. And it was taken by people who styled themselves as scientists, artists or economists rather than as christians. As a result of this, the western culture was controlled by those who were not directly influential by the church. This phenomenon is labeled secularism. By this, various functions formerly performed by the church were turned over to worldly institutions.

During this period, though there were good popes, they were not able to give the church a forceful leadership. The most capable men of the age were civilians. Their aim was to make the church impotent in everything except the matter of private devotion. As a result of this, religion was pushed more and more out of man’s life, out of his social and political life, out of cultural affairs, out of art and literature and finally out of man’s very consciousness except for stated hours of worship each week. Now we shall study some of these secularizing movements. France was the centre of all these movements. From there it spread to other countries.

The Enlightenment

Different terminology: Lumieres (French)

Illuminarismo (Italian)

Aufklarung (German)

The Enlightenment is a way of thinking and acting that ignores and even denies the existence of the supernatural order, revolts against all kinds of dogma, and basing itself exclusively on experience and reason, elaborates a naturalistic and rationalistic conception of the world and life (Villoslada).

Here reason was given absolute sovereignty. Nature takes the place of God and physical laws replace providence. Faith was subverted in the revealed religion. But it had also some positive and beneficial results. It opposed the superstitions and unreasonable incredulity. It exerted great influence on education. It also induced the governments to exercise tolerance towards various religions. It fostered a new spirit of enquiry and criticism which brought wonders in various positive sciences. It created humanitarian interests which resulted in greater material wellbeing.

This movement originated in England in the 17th century. Then it passed to France and Germany. The English philosopher Francis Bacon (+1626) was the one who prepared the way for this movement. He completely divorced reason from revelation, faith from knowledge. He opposed scholasticism. For him the kingdom of man (earthly happiness) has no bond with a supreme being.

The other English men of Enlightenment were:

            Lord Herbert of Cherbury (+1648)

            John Locke (1630-1704)

            Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679)

            David Hume (+1776)

            In France the enlightenment did greater harm. Ferdinand Brunetiere says “the 18th century became the most unchristian and the least French of any century in France’s history. In France the most powerful writer was Pierre Bayle (1647-1706). For him not only revealed religion but even natural religion is incompatible with reason. He wrote a book: the historical and critical Dictionary (1695-97).

The chief representative of this movement in France was Voltaire (1694-1778). As a gifted writer and superficial thinker he ridiculed all that is noble and sublime. He wanted to destroy all positive religions especially catholic church. His bitterness towards the church was expressed in his words: “crush the infamous”.

Rousseau (1712-1778) was less hostile towards religion. He became catholic in 1728 and remained so until 1754. According to him true religion consists in the love of good and beautiful and contains only three dogmas: l. existence of God, 2. liberty, 3. immortality. In his book on Social contract he advocated the idea of democracy and sovereignty of the people.

In France the representatives of Enlightenment were called Encyclopedists. Between 1751 to 1780 an encyclopedia was published in France in 28 volumes plus 7 supplementary volumes. Most of the contributors were the representatives of enlightenment.

The Germans were attracted by the enlightenment towards the end of the 17th century. Their leader was Baron Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz (1646-1716). Other leaders in Germany were Christian Wolf (1679-1754), Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) etc. The German enlightenment reached its zenith during the reign of Frederick II. They published a book Allgemeine Deutsche Bibliothek (1765-1805) in 106 volumes. It was followed by many pernicious books. Some of the authors denied trinity and divinity of Christ eg. Edemann(+1767) Reimarus (+1788)  presented Moses and Christ as a pair of imposters.

The leading writers of the classical period of German national literature were Lessing (+1781), Herden (+1803), Weiland (+1813), Schiller (+1805) and Goethe (+1832). These people professed a monistic idealistic philosophy, a religion of humanity, which rejected Christianity as revelation and esteemed it only for its esthetic value.

The effects of the enlightenment

1. The new spirit of enquiry and criticism which brought wonders in the various positive sciences and gave a new impetus to the spread and renewal of education at all levels.

2. Its humanitarian interests resulted in greater material wellbeing: great improvement in such matters as roads, new buildings, commerce etc.

3. Some of the pioneers were men of sincere faith, Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), Descartes, La Place (all catholics), Newton and Leibniz (Protestants). Newton believed that his scientific discoveries were communicated to him by the Holy Spirit.

It seems that the Church was not aware of the danger of this movement. The clergy neglected their pastoral duty. There were atheists and deists among the French clergy. The irreligious writings mounted and had penetrated every level of society.

The enlightenment differed slightly from country to country, but essentially it was the same everywhere. It was antireligious; it secularized morality by separating it from a personal God and from any religion. The church had no clever men to defend the religion. Therefore by the end of the 18th century there was a tendency to identify the church with ignorant peasants and the clerical class used to exploit them and to keep them subservient to an absolute monarch. Then the thinking people rebelled against established authority in the Church.


The philosophers, though followed different paths, formed a kind of friendly society within which they maintained constant intercourse, exchanging visits and carrying on a vast correspondence. There was thus a plentiful and fruitful encounter of ideas. Europe was the home of great minds determined to be “free”

As to the origin of freemasonry it derives from the journeymen builders who in the eleventh and twelfth centuries traveled from city to city, from site to site, in return for which popes and princes granted them certain privileges.  At that period and until the sixteenth century it was a religious corporation whose members bound themselves to be faithful to God and the church.  Virtually inactive everywhere, it took a new lease of life in England after the Great Fire of London in 1666, when the city had to be rebuilt. In London in 1717 a society was organized by stone masons who had been employed in the construction of St. Paul’s and other buildings. They accepted as members others who were not stone masons by trade. James Anderson, and Anglican clergyman drew up the constitution of the society in 1723, in which it was stated that the purpose was to foster humanity and brotherhood. It spread rapidly and was soon established in many cities -Madrid 1728, Paris 1732, Florence 1733, Lisbon, Hague, Rome 1735, Hamburg 1737, Berlin 1740, Vienna 1742. Their houses were known as lodges.

            The success of this movement was remarkable. Its members were recruited from the rich, the ruling classes and the enlightened circles. It was veiled in secrecy and rituals. Absolute secrecy was imposed on the members and various oaths were required of them. It has also a lure of a certain philosophical ideal, a certain spiritual aspiration and even a degree of mysticism.

            The question ‘whether freemasonry was antichristian’ is disputed. One thing is true that a large number of ecclesiastics were the members of it and they enjoyed the privilege of admission without inquiry as to their respectability, since their profession guaranteed their character. Priests, bishops and monks were its members. Towards the year 1789 a quarter of French freemasons were churchmen; and there is no reason to think that all of them were bad catholics. Great many of them saw no incompatibility between their faith and their Masonic membership. They even regarded freemasonry as a weapon to be employed in the service of religion.

The Jesuits were the first to feel uneasy about the Freemasonry Prompted by them the secular authority itself was hostile from time to time. Some bishops gave public approval to the action of parish priests who refused the sacrament or burial in consecrated ground to notorious freemasons. In 1738 Clement XII condemned freemasonry by his ball In eminenti, and thirteen years later Benedict XIV (1751) renewed it by his bull Providas Romanorum. This condemnation proved almost ineffective, the publication of the bull was prevented in France, no priest resigned from the society. Even in Rome the masons met almost without concealment.

Was freemasonry inimical to christianity? Strictly speaking no – at any rate not to any great extent.  there was no violent attack upon the dogmas of the church. They had pious declarations which reveal a strong attachment to the Mass as well as to Our Lady and the saints. A closer look at Masonic religion shows that it had nothing whatever to do with dogma or with an ecclesiastical established order. The rules drawn up by Anderson in the early days are quite explicit on this point: “Each Person may retain his personal beliefs, provided always he observes the precepts of the religion upon which all men are agreed and which enjoin him to be good, sincere, modest and honourable, no matter to what religious denomination he may belong”. So Masonic religion is clearly natural religion, purged of the dogmas, rites and symbols of christianity. Based on a form of Deism which recognizes the existence of a Great Architect, it allows Him no right of intervention in the spiritual and moral life and identifies His activity with that of reason. It is therefore fundamentally the doctrine of the philosophers. Consequently the church condemned it rightfully and dutifully.


            Febronianism is a movement in Germany which sponsored episcopalism, which is the theory that in the government of the church the supreme authority resides in the body of bishops. After the council of Trent the authority in the church was more centralized Ad Limina visits were made obligatory every five years, faculties reserved by bishops to dispense in cases reserved to the pope, had to be renewed every five years. The German bishops were not pleased with such arrangements. Febronianism resulted from the exploitation of these grievances.

Justinus Febronius was the pseudonym of John Nicholas von Hontheim (1701-1790), a brilliant prelate who had studied under Van Espen at the University of Louvain, then at the German college in Rome, and had finally been appointed coadjutor bishop of Trier. In 1763 he published a book de statu ecclesiae et legitima. potestate Romani pontificis  under the pseudonym Justinus Febronius. It was Rousseau’s Social Contract  applied to the church. According to Febronius, authority within the church belongs primarily to the community of the faithful (ecclesia) which possessed the power of the keys conferred by Christ. The pope has no right of jurisdiction, but only a primacy of honour.The bishops are the delegates of the community. The pope was simply the first among the equals and had no primacy. If the church wished it could designate this position to any other bishop, for Roman primacy was simply an administrative office conferred by the church on the pope. He denied papal infallibility. Primacy in the church rests with a general council and the pope is its administrative agent whose powers are limited by its decrees. The abuse of papal powers should be checked by a general council, by national synods and by the secular princes in each country. Febronius considered that the termination of papal abuses would restore Christianity to its original purity and enable dissenters to return to the bosom of the church. His book was translated into French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese.

In 1764 pope Clement XIII condemned the book and placed it on the Index, but many bishops refused to publish the prohibition. At the earnest request of Pius VI and the insistence of his archbishop, Febronius agreed to publish a retraction of his theories, perhaps more formal than sincere; and he ended his long life at peace with the church.

Punctuation of Ems

In spite of the condemnation, Febronius’ ideas continued to prosper. The bishops of Cologne, Mainz and Trier adopted them and tried to put them into effect. They took a stand publicly against usurpations on their jurisdiction by the Roman curia. In 1786 they issued twenty three decrees known as the punctuation of Ems in which they made strong demands for Episcopal ‘rights’ against Rome.

1. All exemptions from Episcopal authority enjoyed by convents and monasteries be suppressed.

2. Faculties granted to the bishops every five years be granted in perpetuum.

3. The Episcopal permission be required before papal acts were published in a diocese.

4. The Episcopal oath of office be replaced by a new one.

5. Papal primacy was based on the False Decretals. It was a forgery produced in the diocese of Rheims between 845 and 853 to provide law which could protect the rights of the bishops. In order to strengthen the argument, the authors invoked the principle of supremacy of the pope. Their intention was not to aid the papacy, but in fact it was the papacy which ultimately benefited most. The first pope who made use of it was Nicholas 1 (858-869).

6. They should no longer apply to the Holy See without the royal placet.

7. The pallium and annate taxes (first year’s revenue of See paid to the pope) would no longer be paid to the Curia. The pope and the nuncio Pacca stood firm. The outbreak of French Revolution and the invasion of Germany relegated everything else into the background.


In the second half of the 18th century there occurred a religious revolution, a systematic overthrow of all that the church believed inviolable. The reason was that the church was in a deteriorated situation which forced the state to intervene. In this period we find a tendency “enlightened despotism” that means the sovereigns would reform the church without reference to the pope. Josephism was a typical example of it.

              Maria Theresa (1740- 1780) was the mother of Joseph II. She was a prudent and pious woman and devotedly attached to the church. She began a series of reforms to improve the administration of her domains and promote the good of souls. These reforms were in harmony with the antireligious spirit of the age. She had forbidden the founding of new congregations, monasteries and convents or increasing of church property. Religious profession could not be made before the 24th year. The clergy were no longer to enjoy immunity from taxation. Papal enactments could not be published without the placet of the government. The number of holidays was reduced to 24 and the government assumed the censorship of the books, Higher studies were removed from the control of the clergy (Jesuits) and the universities were reorganized (1752) under the direction of the imperial physician Gerhard Van Swieten, a Dutch Jansenist. Since she was greatly loved by her people, her innovations were put into effect without much difficulty.

Joseph 11 (1780 1790)

Joseph dreamt of a unified strong Austrian state. He regarded the church as a mere cog in the state machine. He wanted to emancipate it from Rome and subject it to him. Thus he wanted to create a national church. He interfered in the church affairs fanatically. After 1781 he issued decrees in rapid succession. He fixed the umber of the candles at High Mass, regulated the use of incense, abolished a number of holidays, rearranged the parishes and dioceses in geometric fashion, closed hundreds of convents and monasteries (600) he  considered useless. He said: ‘being useless to the world they cannot please to God’.  One mass could be said daily in each church; the breviary was censored, the rosary was forbidden, and he amalgamated the confraternities.  He set up a commission which reorganized the seminaries (5 general seminaries) and ordered Mass to be said in German. Because of his interference in liturgical matters, Frederick of Prussia called him “the archsacristan of the holy Roman Empire”.

            Though Joseph made all these reforms he was not anti-catholic. The only thing he wanted to do was to remove certain things out of the domain of religion which never belonged to it. On certain occasions Joseph behaved as a good servant of the church. For example on one occasion he appointed 1500 carefully chosen priests to found parishes where there were none. He also struggled against superstitious practices and the sale of indulgences. He forbade the use of coffins which were to be replaced by funeral bags!

Cardinal of Vienna, Primate of Hungry etc. protested against these reforms vigourously. Pius VI went in person to Vienna in 1782 to check Joseph’s zeal for reform. But it was in vain. Joseph’s return visit in the following year was just as barren of results. It was only to obtain more concessions from the pope in the matter of episcopal appointment. Vigourous protests came also from the Belgian episcopacy. At the end of his life (20 Feb 1790) Joseph was forced to see the total failure of all his reform plans. He composed a melancholy epitaph for his tomb: “here lies a prince whose intentions were pure, but who had the misfortune to see all his projects fail”.

            Josephism was copied by some other rulers especially Leopold II of Tuscany, Joseph’s brother. Bishop Scipio Ricci of Pistoia cooperated with him. He convoked a synod at Pistoia in September 1786 and adopted a number of reform measures; four gallican articles were adopted, Quesnel’s moral reflexions were recommended. Devotion to Sacred Heart,  mass stipend etc were renounced. It was decided to banish all religious orders except one to be established after the model of Port- Royal.

            All other bishops except Ricci rejected the reform measures. They held a synod at Florence in April-May 1787. Leopold dissolved it. People were against the reforms, they attacked bishop Ricci, who resigned in 1791. Pope Pius VI condemned 85 propositions of Synod of Pistoia by the bull Auctorem fidei on 28 August 1794. After some years of refusal Ricci finally submitted in 1805. He retired and lived as a private person till his death in 1810.

The Suppression of the Society of Jesus (1773-1814)

            The suppression of the Society of Jesus shows how feeble the papacy had become under the pressure of the state power. The Jesuits had been rendering most valuable services to the Church in all fields since its origin in 1540. By the middle of the eighteenth century they had about 23,000 members, 800 houses, 700 colleges and 300 missions. It had become the most important and influential religious order in the church. They had also many enemies. The Gallicans and the Jansenists considered them as their chief enemy. Many of other religious orders were jealous of their greater power and influence in varlious fields. Many bishops especially in Spain and Portugal disliked them. Some of the enlightened thinkers like Voltaire considered the suppression of the Society the necessary first step toward destroying the effectiveness of the Church. Unfortunately the papacy was occupied by weak men at this time and eventually they agreed to suppress the society “for the sake of peace within church”.

The first blow against the Jesuits fell in Portugal.  The weak and immoral king Joseph Emmanuel (1750-1773) was completely under the influence of the ambitious and irreligious prime minister Marquis de Pombal. Pombal considered the Jesuits the cause of all ills in Portugal. An incident in the South American Jesuit states gave him an opportunity to act against them. As a result of a border treaty between Spain and Portugal 30,000 christian Indiana were forced to migrate in Paraguay, which Portugal obtained from Spain in 1750. The Indians were first resisted and were defeated and forced to submit (1756). Pombal blamed the Jesuits, their spiritual leader, for the natives’ resistance and began a systematic compaign of calumny against them. At the request of the Portuguese government pope Benedict XIV appointed Cardinal Saldanha, a relative of Pombal as a canonical visitor to the Society. Saldauha induced the Patriarch of Lisbon to suspend all Jesuits from preaching and hearing confession.

The Jesuits appealed to Rome. Then the Pombal forged a letter from the pope confirming Saldanha’s decision. The forgery was denounced at Rome. Then the Jesuits were accused of preaching regicide.  On 12 January 1759 all the Jesuits in Portugal were arrested. 221 superiors and other high-placed members had to spend the next 18 years -till Pombal’s death -in jail. Theothers were transported to the papal port of Civitavecchia, where they were unloaded “as a present to the pope”. Their houses, colleges and properties were confiscated. When the papal nuncio protested he was expelled and diplomatic relations with Rome was severed.

A similar fate befell on the Jesuits in France. The week king Louis XV was under the influence of Madame Pompadour, his mistress who hated the Jesuits because they refused to sanction her adulterous relationship with the king. She and others were waiting for an opportunity to discredit the Jesuits. It came in a curious way. The Jesuit mission at Martinique failed financially when its cargoes were captured by the English pirates early in the Seven Years’ War (1756). The principal creditor was Fr. La Vallette S.J. who undertook the sale of colonial products in Europe. The importing company in France (Lioney   Gauffre) sued the society as collectively responsible. La Valette left a big deficit and applied for money to the Jesuit Procurator General of the Missions. The Society refused to pay the debt. Then the Jesuits appealed to the parliament of Paris. The parliament decided that the society as a body was liable. The society also accused of participation in an assignation attempt on Louis XV in 1757. In August 1762 the parliament passed an act dissolving the Society in France. The king subscribed to it on 1 Dec. 1764. Their property was confiscated.

            The next blow was in Spain the stronghold of the Jesuits. When serious riots occurred in 1766, the minister Aranda convinced king Charles 111 (1759-1788) that the Jesuits were to blame for that. An enquiry was conducted in secrecy; no Jesuit was heard. All records of the proceedings were destroyed and decision reached was rendered without any reasons given. Sealed orders were dispatched throughout the kingdom with instructions to open them on the night of April 2, 1767. On the next morning every Jesuit in the country and the empire were arrested and transported to the Papal States.

The king of Naples (son of Charles III) suppressed the society in November 1767; also the Duke of Parma. All these rulers together demanded the pope to suppress the Society. Clement XIII refused. Then they began to confiscate the Papal States and threatened to depose the pope. Clement died while they planned to blockade Rome.

            The conclave lasted three months; 23 candidates were excluded on the grounds that they were favourable to the Jesuits. Finally Clement XIV (1769-1774) was elected.  He tried to delay the suppression but he yielded to the demands of the rulers and on 21 1 July 1773 he published a Brief “Dominus ac Redemptor” by which he suppressed the Society of Jesus. In this the Pope made no charges against the Jesuits and said that the “Church cannot enjoy true and lasting peace as long as the society remains inexistence”.

The Society continued to subsist in Prussia and Russia. In 1778 Pius VI sanctioned it. In 1801 Pius VII declared the society reestablished for the whole of Russia. They were allowed to accept novices and to live according to their rules. They were also allowed to enter other orders. In 1814 Pius VII (1800-1823) reestablished the society on a universal basis.

Trench Revolution

The 18th century was an exceedingly difficult period for the church in Europe. The church displayed the appearance of more decadence than of renewal. She possessed enormous wealth, countless and state support, but its authority was shaken. There was the disparity between the world and the church. The world was in the process of full economic, social and cultural development. The church authority was simply incapable of differentiating between the real requirements of faith and the non-essential accessories.

Gallicanism and Febronianism were the doctrinal expression of a sentiment hostile to Rome. Even many members of the clergy accepted the notion that the spiritual supremacy of the pope was nothing more than an honorary privilege. While the enlightened rulers improved the economic, social and education condition of their states, the Papal States were in a vulnerable state in these fields. In fact the popes of the 18th century with the exception of Benedict XIV could not rise above party factions and exercise his authority. Prof. Rogier makes an assessment of the papacy of the 18th century: “in general the actual influence of Rome on international happiness was extremely small; its contributions to the development of thought exhausted themselves in stereotype and sterile protest. Surveying the cultural history of the 18th century, one repeatedly misses the participation of the church and its supreme leadership in the discussions of the burning issues of the period.  If Rome contributed at all, it did so only negatively, with an admonition, an anathama, or an exhortation to silence.  Regrettably Rome not only failed to join in dialogue with a generation as strongly affected by the currents of the age as that of the eighteenth century, it systematically avoided it”. On the eve of the upheavals of 1789, the 1740 formulation of President Charles de Brosses was still valid: “‘if in Europe the credit of the Holy See is shrinking daily, this loss stems from unawareness by papacy of its antiquated modes of expressions”. The people continued to perform their religious duties without conviction. The nobility and the educated adopted an increasingly emancipated stance.

The church lacked the acuity necessary to develop a new religious anthropology to respond to the message of Revolution as well as the spiritual reorientation of the age.  She failed to abolish the system of benefices which was one of the chief sources of dissatisfaction. There were noteworthy problems within the monastic system of the period. The religious atmosphere within the walls was in general rather mediocre. People regarded monasticism as an easy life which provided good incomes to the monks who administered extensive pieces of real estates and undertook expensive construction projects. Many monasteries were half empty and some suffered from a crisis of belief and discipline. The opponents of monastic life felt that some orders are totally useless to society. In their eyes only those orders were acceptable which devoted themselves exclusively to education and care of the sick. Consequently in some countries the governments began to secularize a part of monasteries. In the republic of Venice 127 monasteries were closed between 1748 and 1797. Similar measures were taken in Tuscany, Parma, Lomabardy, Spain etc. In France such an action bad been suggested and organized by the clergy itself despite the protest of the pope. In 1768 a number of steps for the reform of orders were suggested to the king. Consequently 426 monasteries were dissolved; their lands were turned over to the dioceses.

There was also a crisis among the clergy (secular). In some countries their state was very lamentable. A very large number of priests lived from the income of benefices or other sources without performing any pastoral work. The attempt to upgrade the intellectual and spiritual education of the lower clergy by the end of the 18th century could not put an end to the abuses among them. A large number of the clergy in France were interested in Gallicaniam whose goal was to reduce the authority of the pope and the bishops.

In 1775 Pius VI was elected pope (Cad. Gianangelo Braschi, Cesena 1717).  He was rather world1y, spent large amount of money for the beatification of Rome. He also revived nepotism, built a splendid palace for his nephew. He introduced reforms in the Papal States, improved roads. He found difficulty to maintain the traditional position of papacy. On the eve of French revolution Pius VI failed to supply a much needed decisive stance. Godechot stated: He displayed more courageous abstinence than real sensitivity”.

In the 18th century France was the country with the largest catholic population. The monastic orders had the largest number of houses. Their theological and spiritual influence was comparatively strong. The Catholic Church in France linked to the state and enjoyed significant political, juridical and financial privileges. Catholic Church was the established religion in France and was supported by the secular powers. Other denominations and religions were not tolerated. The relationship between the church in France and the Holy See based on the concordat of 1516. It conceded certain rights to the king, eg. the right to distribute benefices etc.

The clergy enjoyed a predominant position in every respect. In parliament they constituted an estate general. These delegates met every five years in general convention. There were 135 dioceses 50,000 Priests working in the parishes and between 15,000 and 18,000 canons who served virtually no function. There were also 20,000 to 25,000 monks and 30,000 to 40,000 nuns. The French clergy comprised approximately 120,000 persons. Besides there were a large number of sacristans and chorists, as well as businessmen and staff who took care of worldly concerns. This secular and regular clergy possessed impressive economic power. It owned numerous urban buildings, property etc. They were exempted from tax. Tax privilege was compensated for by heavy expenditures especially costs of education and welfare.

The Revolution, in fact, began as a liberating force completely compatible with the teaching of gospel. Facing bankruptcy, Louis XVI decreed that the Roman Catholic Church and the nobility less than 2 percent of the population, owning a third of France would pay land taxes. Challenging his Authority the nobility forced Louis to convene the estates general, a body of the clergy, nobles and commoners that had not met since 1614. The Estates General met at Versailles on 5 may 1789 after a full catholic ceremony.  On the 4th May there was a grand procession and Holy Mass. During the mass they begged God to enlighten the deliberations of Estates General. No one foresaw so dark a future in that hour of glory. The representatives of third estate declared themselves the National Assembly and urged the clergy and the nobility to join them. On 20 June they gathered in an indoor tennis court and took an oath “never to separate until the constitution of kingdom shall be laid and established”. Louis reluctantly accepted the Assembly.

On 11 August 1789: The national Constituent Assembly abolished feudal rights and ecclesiastical Privileges. On 26 August it made Declaration the rights of man and the citizen which included the freedom of belief and worship.

            The revolution, then, betrayed its original ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity and began to persecute the believers. In November 1789 the National Assembly nationalized the church property and on 13 February 1790 it suppressed the contemplative orders and banned the solemn vows. On 12 July 1790 it passed the Civil Constitution of the Clergy which contained the old Gallican ideas.

Its contents:

            It reduced the number of dioceses to 85 from 135 and they were divided conterminous with the geographic division of the country. There was to be one parish for every 6000 inhabitants

            The bishops and priests were to be elected by the electoral colleges on the level of department and districts – all citizens, Protestants, Jews form the electoral college.

            Bishops, priests and vicars were to be paid salaries by the state with the condition of performing all religious services free of charge.

            Bishops were entitled to inform the pope of their election, the canonical investment of the bishops were to be done by the metropolitans without prior confirmation by the pope. The title ‘archbishop’ was abolished and ten bishops were called metropolitans.

            A council of priests was formed to participate in the administration of the dioceses.

            All benefices without the care of souls were abolished.

The aim of the Constitution was to make the French church a purely national one and to remove the clergy as far as possible from all contact with Rome. The constitution obliged all the clergy to take an oath of loyalty to the constitution (27 Nov 1790). The weak king Louis sanctioned the constitution on 26 Ajec.1790 excusing himself on the grounds that a refusal would endanger his life and that of his family.

The French church was divided into two camps because of this constitution: 1. the church of constituent clergy 2. the church of non-constituent clergy (they were majority). On 10 March 1791 the pope Pius VI (1775-99) condemned the constitution by “quot aliquantum”. Again on 13 April pope condemned it by his bull Caritas because it based on heretical principles and declared the constituent clergy suspended. He declared that the ordination of the new bishops sacrilegious and prohibited them from performing their offices a d threatened with suspension all priests who refused to recant their oaths. He also condemned the declaration of the rights of man and citizen as contradictory to catholic doctrines regarding the origin of the authority of the state, freedom of religion and social inequality. In 1791 the national Assembly, in reprisal, declared Avignon and Venesian country to be the property of France.

2. Legislative Assembly (1 October 1791 -September 22, 1792)

It composed of people who were farther to the left both politically and religiously. It began to persecute believers. On 29 November 1791 it ordered that clergymen, regardless of their ministry, who did hot take the oath within eight days, would be regarded as rebelling against the law and as having evil intentions against the country. They would lose their pensions, were removed from their residences. On 1 August 1792 all congregations were dissolved, monasteries were closed, property of the church was sold, and clerical dress was prohibited. On 26 August it ordered to depose all priests loyal to Rome. About 20,000 priests were rendered homeless and they found refuge in other European countries. On 2 September 1792 there occurred the September Massacre in the prisons of Paris in which at least 1400 victims including 300 clergymen, 3 bishops, were executed. It was very cruel. Many were cat into pieces by hatchets. Women were brutally violated before being torn to pieces by those tigers; the intestines were cut out and worn as turbans. The victims seemed happy because ‘they went to death as to a wedding’. In the following years about 30000 clergymen fled from the country.

The decapitation machine “Guillotine” was first used on 25 April 1792. It was adopted as humane capital punishment – I a cool breath on the back of the neck”. Its proponent was Dr. Joseph Ignace Guillotin.

3. National Convention: 22 September 1792 -October 1795.

National Convention completed the work of demolition. It abolished the monarch rand declared France a republic. Louis was beheaded as a traitor to the state and nation on 21 January 1793. His wife also met the same fate on 16 October 1793. Both were guillotines. -On 21 June 1791 in servants disguise Louis and his wife attempted to flee France, after midnight for 200 miles dash to Austrian territory ruled by queen’s brother. But on route a postmaster identified Louis. Then 40 miles from the border his royal carriage was halted and they were arrested and brought to France. There was a posted warning: “any one who applauds the king will be beaten, any one who insults him will be hanged”.

During this period many were shot. Divorce was allowed and civil marriage was made obligatory. It passed laws on the marriage of priests and for their protection and support.  12 bishops and 2000 priests got married.  The christian calendar was replaced by the Republican calendar, the first year of which was to begin on 22 September 1792, the day of the proclamation of the Republic. Sunday was deleted from the new calendar and the day of rest was every ten days. Civil holiday were substituted for traditional christian feast days. Finally in November 1793 the Convention instituted the cult of Reason and Nature, i.e., atheism. The cathedral of Notre -Dame was desecrated by scandalous rites in honour of the goddess of reason. Some 2400 churches suffered a like-fate. Many of them were used as store-houses and stables.

            There were people who were against the extreme reforms. At the suggestion of Robespierre in 1794 the convention agreed to recognize a Supreme Being and immortality of soul. But persecution continued and the members of convention executed him on 28 July


4. The Directory Oct. 1795-1799

The directory was a governing body of five members. During this period there was an outbreak of violent persecution. All the laws against the non-juring priests were reactivated and under the orders of directory, the priests were hunted down all over France. Those captured were deported to French Guiana where they died. A new deistic religion called Theophilanthropism appeared. (deism= belief in the existence of God without accepting revelation, one who professes to unite love to God with love to man). The directory tried to enforce the observance of the republican calendar and decadi. Nevertheless by 1798 divine services had been resumed in about 40,000 parishes.

The faithful became aware of their responsibility to the church. In the absence of the priests, they organized prayer meetings, gave children religious instruction. Former nuns (without habit) encouraged pious girls to devote themselves to religious instructions and charitable work. In 1791 the Daughters of Heart of Mary was founded adjusting to the new conditions. By 1799 there were 267 members in 10 dioceses. They were no external sign, retained their occupations and continued to live with their families.

In 1796 General Napoleon Bonaparte occupied Milan and then the northern portion of Papal States. The directory demanded from the pope the renunciation of the condemnations of the constituent church. Pius VI refused. Negotiations between pope and the French government produced no results. Meanwhile Bonaparte began preparations to march on Rome, and forced the pope on 16 February 1797 to accept the treaty of Tolentino to abandon his rights to Ronagna and to pay 15 million Franca.

On 27 December 1797 the Directory ordered immediate occupation of Papal States. On 15 February 1798 Rome was occupied and was declared republic. Pius VI, 81, pleaded to be allowed to die in peace in Rome. Instead he was forced to flee to the still independent duchy of Tuscany. The pope was declared deposed, carried off first to Sienna then to Florence. In May he was brought to France. He died on 29 August 1799 at Valence.

The next conclave was convoked on 1 December 1799. Of 46 cardinals 35 participated (30 Italians). On 4 March 1800, Cardinal Barnaba Chiaramonti was elected pope Pius VII. He was a man of doctrine and a shepherd of souls, always gave pronounced preference to the religious goals. He had the courage of his convictions, but had great tolerance for opinions which differed from his own. At 14 he joined the Benedictines, studied in Padua, Rome, professor of theology from 1766-75 in Parma, and also at St. Anslem, Rome. He became bishop of Tivoli in 1783, bishop of Imola and Cardinal in 1785. As a diplomatic mediator he had an outstanding ability to hold without braking and to reconcile without bending. At Christmas he declared that the democratic form of the government was not in opposition to the gospel and religions was even more important in a democracy than in any other form of government. He appointed cardinal Consalvi, a conservative reformer as his secretary of State. Due to his diplomatic skill Papal States were restituted.

Napoleon Bonaparte

On 9 November 1799 the general Napoleon by a coup d’etat, overthrew the directory and became the first consul for ten years. His foreign minister was Talleybrand. Napoleon was deist and a stranger to religious practices. He looked upon religion as having only a practical value. It was evident to him that only Christianity was the ethical foundation of European civilization. Therefore, he felt the need of it.

The concordat of Napoleon 15 July 1801

            On 5 June 1800 Napoleon stated that it was his firm conviction that religion was an indispensable adjunct to the state and that it was his wish that France be reconciled to the Holy See. Soon thereafter negotiations were begun, but immediately encountered serious obstacles, mainly unreasonable demands of Napoleon himself. Finally a concordat was drawn up on 15 July 1801 by cardinal Consalvi and Napoleon’s foreign minister Talleygrand. It gave the French church legal status, but a status far removed from that she had once enjoyed. Catholic religion was recognized as the religion of “the great majority of French people” and it could be exercised freely and publicly while conforming to police regulations. The dioceses were redistricted into 60 of which 10 would be metropolitans. All bishops must resign and the new bishops were to be named by the First Consul but the pope was to give them canonical institution. All clergy were to take an oath of loyalty to the state. They waived all claim to church property confiscated during the revolution, in view of which the government promised the bishops and parish priests a fitting maintenance. Bishops could redistrict their parishes with the consent of the proper state officials and appoint as pastors only persons acceptable to the government.

The concordat was not appreciated by all. Some bishops refused to abdicate and they considered it as anti-catholic. There was anti-Catholic in the government, who were not content with the concordat on the grounds that it was not sufficiently anti-Catholic. Therefore Napoleon added several further clauses -seventy seven organic articles- to the concordat, which he published at Easter 1802. Most of them were contrary to the terms of the original agreement and to the principles of canon law. The pope protested and pointed out 21 of them which could not be accepted under any conditions, but Napoleon paid no heed to this protest.

The new articles are:

i. All decrees of the pope and the synods outside France require the placet of the government.

ii. Professors of the seminaries are obliged to teach Gallican articles of 1682.

iii. Number of new priests is to be fixed yearly by government

iv. Catechism approved by the government is to be taught.

v. Diocesan or national synods need government authorization.

vi. No representative of the pope enter France without permission

vii. Clerics may appeal to the civil court.

viii. Distinction was made between rural pastors and others.

ix. No feast days other than Sundays.

In the meantime Napoleon restored Sunday in 1802 and abrogated the republican calendar in 1805.

Napoleon as Emperor

In May 1804 Napoleon was elected emperor. He invited pope Pius VII for anointing and coronation. Pius VII yielded to the pressure and anointed Napoleon in Notre Dame Cathedral on 2 December 1804. The coronation was preceded by a religious ceremony Pope was allowed to anoint, but Napoleon insisted on crowing himself. At the coronation ceremony Napoleon seized the crown from the hands of the pope and put it on his head.   The pope hoped, in return, two important concessions: 1) the revocation or modification of the organic articles; 2) the removal of divorce from the new code of civil law. But his hopes were blasted. Napoleon and his associates had interpreted the pope’s visit as a sign of weakness which they tried to exploit to the full. The pope returned to Rome humiliated and without obtaining any concession from the emperor.

The pope was requested to declare dissolved the marriage of Napoleon’s brother Jerome Bonaparte to Eize Patterson, an American protestant. A little later the pope refused to annul, Napoleon’s marriage to Josephine Beauharnais. Despite the pope’s refusal members of the French hierarchy gave the emperor the desired annulments. Napoleon had insisted St. Napoleon’s day be observed throughout the empire on 16 August.

Napoleon resumed war for the domination of Europe. And this war brought a rupture in his relations with the pope. The pope refused to approve of Napoleon’s annexation of Naples (Napoleon named his brother Joseph king of Naples).In 1809 Napoleon officially annexed the papal states to his empire and on 17 May 1809 he revoked the donations of Pepin and charlesmagne. The pope answered by excommunicating Napoleon and his associates: “against the robbers of the patrimony of Peter, their advisers, abettors and agents”.  During the night between 5 and 6 July 1809, 400 French soldiers entered Rome and arrested Pius VII and carried him off to Savona. The cardinals were taken to Paris.

Meanwhile Napoleon divorced Josephine and married Narie Louise the daughter of Austrian emperor. The decree of divorce was published on 16 December 1809. On 9 January 1810 the diocesan court pronounced the marriage null and void. On 2 April 1810 Napoleon married Marie Louise. Thirteen of 27 cardinals then in Paris refused to attend the wedding. Napoleon “decardinalized” them who were known “black cardinals” and those attended the wedding were known “red cardinals”.

Pius VII suffered much. He was treated most harshly and shame fully; books, pen, ink, ring were taken from him. The longer the conflict the greater become the vacant sees.  Napoleon wanted to full them without the approval of the pope. He convoked a national council of the bishops at Paris in June 1811 under the presidency of Napoleon’s uncle cardinal Fesch. There it was decided that metropolitans had the right to confer canonical institutions in case the pope did not do so within six months of a candidate’s presentation.

On 9 June 1812 the pope was moved to Fontainebleau palace near Paris. When Napoleon returned from Russia, defeated and desperate, he met the pope. On 25 January 1813 Pope was forced to sign an agreement known as concordat of Fontainebleau. In this the pope renounced the Papal States and conceded that canonical institution of bishops could be made by the metropolitan if the pope did not act within six months. However, the pope revoked this concession within 24 hours. Napoleon suppressed the revocation kept the pope isolated and published the concordat as valid reconciliation of the church and the state in France.

Napoleon’s power was almost at an end. He was defeated by the allies and was forced to sign his abdication at Fontainebleau on 16 April 1814. He was then sent to the island Elba. He reached there on 4 May. He was given allowance 2,000,000 francs yearly. He had 400 volunteers and the title of emperor. Before he had been sent to Elba, he tried to poison himself. On 20 March 1815 he returned to Paris, and resumed war. But he was defeated at Waterloo on 18 June 1815. On 22 June he abdicated in favour of his son. He wanted to escape to U.S.A., but was prevented and exiled to St. Helena.

            On 15 October 1815.Navoleon arrived at St. Helena in southern Atlantic. His life there was hard; breakfast at 10.00 dinner 7-8 p.m. He used to play cards, reading, and writing, study English, and went to bed by midnight. He had difficulty with the governor of the island. His wife did not visit him. She had a son from him, and a lover too. In 1817 he showed the sign of illness -ulcer or cancer of the stomach. In March 1821 he confined to bed. In April he dictated his last will: “I wish my ashes to rest on the banks of the Seine, in the midst of that French people which I have loved so much … I die before my time, killed by the English Oligarchy and its hired assassins”. On 5 May 1821 Napoleon died at the age of 52. He spoke: “my God… the French nation, my son, the head of the army. He died at 5.49 p.m. The stone covering the tomb bore no name but only two words: “cig it”-here lies.

The pope Pius VII was released in March 1814 and on 24 May 1814 he entered Rome amid jubilation of the people. When the pope returned to Rome he said to the people: “let us forget the past”. When napoleon was in exile at St. Helena pope wrote to cardinal Consalvi: “The emperor’s family has informed us through cardinal Fesch that the rocky lsland of St. Helena is fatal to health and the poor exile is dying by inches. We are deeply distressed to hear this and you will certainly share our grief; for we must both remember that to Napoleon more than anyone after God, is due the restoration of our religion in the great kingdom of France. The pious and courageous initiative of 1801 has long ago effaced the memory of later wrongs. Savona and Fontainebleau were only mistakes due to temper, or the errors of an ambitious man; the concordat was the saving act of a christian and a here”. This is perhaps the most charitable estimate ever made of Napoleon’s role in the history of the church. Pope gave refuge to Napoleon’s mother, cardinal Fesch and his two brothers in Rome.

Pius VII lived another eight years after Napoleon’s downfall. In the congress of Vienna (1815) the Papal States were returned to the pope. Concordats and conventions were made with various countries and the prestige of papacy was restored.


The French revolution produced mixed results:

1. The prince-bishop disappeared into the pages of history, when Napoleon secularized the holdings of the church.

2. The monastic orders were reduced to near impotency. This weakened the liturgical life of the church.

3. Church’s influence on cultural and intellectual life was lost when the universities in which ecclesiastical and intellectual life had flourished, had been closed down or were taken by the state.

4. French revolution had put an end to the absolute king and thus the church was free to work out a new set of relationship with the state.

5. Concordats were made for regulating relations between church and the state.

6. French revolution was a political and social solvent. It melted down old institutions, good and bad and enabled the church to begin afresh.

7. It loosed forces hostile to the church: liberalism, nationalism, secularism etc.

The Church after 1815

Napoleon’s system was an artificial one and it collapsed because it rested on the genius and determination of one man. It ruined Europe, displaced frontiers, and subverted the social order. The church suffered materially, lost more than half of her property, which had supported her seminaries and charitable institutions and schools. It affected the parochial life and ecclesiastical administration. Many archives had been dispersed, many universities disappeared. Though the church lost her social influence together with her privileged position, morally she was not impoverished.  The martyrs during the popular regimes and the black cardinals are the examples of this.

During this period there were signs of spiritual reawakening. France witnessed a large growth in the number of vocations and a remarkable flowering of regular orders. Between 1820 and 1828 the surplus of ordinations was 2,289. The average annual number of ordinations rose to 3000. Religious congregations were revived. In 1816 the Society of French Missions was founded. There grew a new attachment to the papacy and a new appreciation of the value of a religion independent of the state. There were also a host of new religious orders of women particularly devoted to teaching. The declaration of Catholicism, as the state religion by Louis XVIII on 4 June 1814, the restoration of Society of Jesus in 1814 were good signs.

There was also a sad picture. Faith was not deep rooted. There was hypocrisy and rebellion. Lacordaire asserts that at one state secondary school in France where daily mass was obligatory, thirty youngsters went together to communion in order to obtain consecrated wafers with which to seal their letters.

Pact of Holy Alliance – 1815

On 20 September 1815 , emperor Francis I of Austria, Frederick William III of  Prussia, Czar Alexander declared that they wished to base their mutual relations on the sublime truths taught by Christ and firmly resolved to take as their sole rule of conduct the doctrine of the church. They decided to consider themselves as brothers and as fathers towards their subjects. They would be three members of a single family and confessed Christ as their, sovereign to whom all powers properly belong. They also invited others princes to join the pact of holy alliance. This was not approved by the church.

During the thirty years after 1815 the absolute king sought to regain lost ground and the liberals to overturn the settlement of 1815. The first liberal risings in Spain and Italy were easily suppressed. But from 1848 to 1870 liberalism touched its apogee and in Italy it achieved the most spectacular and systematic triumph of all.

The popes as temporal sovereigns were absolutish. They were affected by the political duel between liberalism and absolutism. Liberalism opposed Catholicism. It was really interested in the material betterment of mankind and correction of social abuses. Some of its fundamental postulates were irreconcilable with the catholic teaching.

In 1870 the temporal power of papacy came to an end. The same year witnessed the triumph within the church itself of the old Roman, conception of the papal office. Thus there began a new type of pope. The popes of the nineteenth century restoration (1800-1878) are all of them good men and several are men of real ability. But they are all meant of the eighteenth century or rather of the absolute age of which that century was popularly the symbol.

Pius V11 (1800-1823), Leo XII (1823-29), Pius VIII (1829-30), Gregory XVI (1831-1846), Pius IX (1846-1878), Leo XIII (1878-1903).

None of these really understood the new world which the revolution had produced, understood either how to fight it or how to convert it. Leo XIII was a pope supremely gifted in political understanding and in the diplomatic gifts. He was the greatest papal ruler since Pius 111 (1534-1549). He was a traditionalist and conservative who thought in modern terms and spoke in the modern idioms. His reign was the beginning of a new age of catholic history. During the reign of Pius IX, France was the scene of the heroic life of St. John Mary Vianny (1786-1859), many apparitions of Our Lady -1830, 1846, 1858, 1871, esp. 1858 in Lourdes. Italy had St. John Bosco, Joseph Cottelengo, and Gabriel of Sorrows.

The Popes of the Nineteenth Century

Pius VII (1806 1822)

The settlement after Waterloo restored to the pope the Papal States. But it posed a problem: could they survive? The demand for Italian unity was to grow. How would papacy meet it? Cardinal Consalvi who was dismissed to appease Napoleon, was reappointed as secretary of State on Napoleon’s fall. He was the chief negotiator for the pope of the diplomatic settlements. He introduced several changes which were opposed even by a few cardinals.

The authority of the pope was enhanced by concordats or agreements with several States. Rome was made the centre of European culture, works of art, books and manuscripts were restored. In 1814 Congregation of Extraordinary ecclesiastical Affairs was instituted, renewal of monasteries, religious orders and congregations. Pius VII died on 20 August 1823 at the age of 81.

Leo XII (1823 1829)

            Cardinal Consalvi was labeled as too liberal; to some he had seemed dictatorial. So the choice of Consalvi as successor to Pius was opposed. He died on 24 January 1824. His final words: Io sono tranquillo -I am at peace.

            Annibale Francesco Clement Melchior Girolomo della Genga, (1760 b.) was elected as Leo XII. He spent large part of his life as nuncio. When Napoleon mistreated Pius VII, he retired to the monastery. After Pius returned to Rome, he called Genga again into his service and was sent to congratulate Louis XVIII on the latter’s restoration. When there was a sharp clash between Consalvi and Genga the latter returned to his monastery. In 1820 he was summoned to Rome. At the time of election he was sick. When he was asked after the vote whether he would accept it, he protested saying that the cardinals were electing a corpse. He surprised his physicians. He guided the church for six years which witnessed several achievements. He brought papal finance into order reduced taxation, urged the bishops to be examples of sound morals and doctrine, to be diligent in pastoral visitation, to pay attention to the seminaries. He fought against Gallicanism and Josephism. In 1825 be proclaimed Jubilee year, the first since 1775.

Leo launched a world wide appeal for the rebuilding of St. Paul Outside the Walls, which had been destroyed by fire in 1823. He left the Quirinal and took residence in the Vatican. He tried to improve the morals of the people and of the clergy. His opposition to nepotism made him unpopular with many among both the officials and others. He put the Church of Rome in a better physical condition and revived the spiritual life of the city. He ordered to cloth the naked statues in Rome. In France he had to face the trends of Gallicanism. In Austria he still faced the traditional Josephism. In Spain and Portugal he was confronted by anticlericalism of the liberals. The pope died on 10 February 1829 at the age of 69. pasquin insulted him with these verses: “Holy Father thrice you have mocked us,  by agreeing to become pope, by living long and by dying on Carnival day”. His pontificate was not brilliant, but it revealed the difficult situation with which the church was then confronted. Only a strong, daring and far-sighted genius could have escaped from the dilemma, and it was not the fault of Leo XII that he was no such man.

Pius VIII (1829-1830)

Cardinal Francesco Saverio Castiglioni was elected pope who took the name Pius VIII. He was learned in canon law, Biblical Literature and numismatics. He had had administrative experience in several posts including bishoprics and posts in Rome. He had suffered imprisonment because of his opposition to Napoleon. After his release Pius VII had rewarded him with the cardinal’s hat, and is said to have wished him for his successor. Out of gratitude he took the title Pius. He was mild in temper and not likely to go to extremes or to have particularly vigorous pontificate. He was 67 at the time of election and was not well.

The situation was everywhere disturbing; there was perhaps no catholic country where grave problems did not confront the church. In France she had to face Gallicanism and liberals. In Spain anticlericalism, in Italy hostility towards the church. For the pope the solution was silence and temporization. In the midst of these problems, the pope tried to check the menace of secret societies and advance of indifference. His choice of cardinals also seemed to indicate a desire to rejuvenate the Sacred College. A rescript of November 1829, recommending to catholics, throughout the world the fund for the propagation of the Faith, proved that he had a sense of the chinch’s universality and of her obligation to share in the great movement of western expansion that was then taking place. Pius died on 30 November 1830. Pasquinades greeted his passing: “nacque, pianse, mori, declared the Romans; but no, Pius VIII had done more than be born, weep and die.  His death marked the end of an epoch. The attempt made since 1815 to annul the Revolution and return to the past had evidently failed. It was now essential to take account of that new life which awaited the world and the church. Perhaps that failure was foreseen by Joseph de Maistre when he wrote these prophetic words: “a counter revolution must be not a revolution in the contrary direction, but the contrary of a revolution”.

Gregory XVI (1831-1846)

            The conclave dragged on for fifty days due to the opposition of two candidates -Pacca and Giustiniani. Then Mauro Cappellari, a Camaldolese monk, austere and pious was elected pope. He took the name Gregory XVI. He was the secretary of Propaganda.  He was a stranger of politiacs and the ways of the world and unable to cope with the complicated problems of his time. There were serious revolts in the papal states. In Italy   a movement for national unity was growing. The radical party called “Young Italy” founded by Giuseppe Mazzini (+1872) was basically revolutionary and anti religious. They had secret plans to overthrow papal rule. Even some of the clergy were infected with revolutionary ideas. The moderate patriots like Alessandro Manzoni (1873) tried to reconcile the papacy with political liberalism and dreamed of an Italian confederacy of states, with the pope at the head. The consciousness of unity however, continued to grow stronger. Gregory on his part defended the liberty of the church.

La Mannais and papacy

Felicite de La Mennais said: “catholics break for ever with the men whose incorrigible blindness imperils this holy religion. Rejected by the state the church should withdraw from political society and concentrate upon herself, with a view to recovering, along with her essential independence and the fulfillment of her destiny, her pristine and divine strength”. In order to promote his ideas La Mennais founded a jounmal “L’Avenir” whose motto was “God and Liberty”. He had a youthful team- Abbe Gerbet, Harel du Tancrel, Henri Lacordaire (1802-61), Vicomte Charles de Montalembert (1810-70). The first number of L’Avenir appeared on 16 Oct. 1830.

Pius IX (1846-1878)

When Gregory XVI died on 1 June 1846 the political condition of the papal state was tense. The Italian patriots desired to free Italy. The conclave was opened immediately without waiting for the arrival of the foreign cardinals. On the second day of the conclave Cardinal Mastai Ferretti was elected pope who took the name Pius IX in memory of his benefactor Pius VII. Giovanni Maria Mastei-Ferretti was born on 13 May 1792 in Senigallia. He was ordained priest in 1819, bishop of Spoleto in 1827-32, of Imola in 1832-46, cardinal in 1840. He made a journey to South America in 1823-25 which provided him with an insight into the new dimensions of missionary problems and into the difficulties which liberal governments could cause for the church. As archbishop he was known very liberal. One biographer describes him as “the creator of modern papacy”.

            Some considered Pius IX as a messenger of God sent to complete the great work of the 19th century the alliance between religion and liberty. Others considered him as a man with the fire of heart but weak in planning and without any real ability to lead.

Pius IX began his pontificate with the intention of meeting the just demands of the people for greater liberty and of establishing new political reforms in the papal states. On 17 July 1846 he granted a general amnesty to more than thousand prisoners and mitigated the censors then in force. This was hailed in Rome and throughout the world as the act of an enlightened ruler. The municipal government of Rome was reorganized and laymen were made eligible for many of the ministerial posts. A number of progressive measures were quickly undertaken, construction of roads, lightening the streets, improvements of prisons etc. Finally on 14 March 1848 a new constitution was proclaimed providing for two chambers, one to be named by the pope, the other to be elected by the people, the college of the cardinals to act as a Senate over both houses. These reforms were hailed with enthusiasm. But the people demanded more radical changes, even unreasonable demands. They also insisted that the pope drive the Austrians out of Italy and create a national state Pope’s prime minister Pellegrino Rossi was murdered on 15 November 1848 as he was ascending the steps of cancellweia to open the parliament.  When Pius 1X resisted these demands, a so called constitutional assembly Proclaimes Rome a republic under a triumvirate consisting of Mazzini Saffi and Amellini on 9 February  1849. On the next day Pius himself was besuieged in the Quirinal and threatened. He escaped in disguise and fled to Gaeta in the kingdom of Naples. Pope sought for French help. The French took Rome and restored the papal rule. In April 1850 Pius returned to Rome. Thereupon he left his liberalism.

            In 1850 the Roman clergy were ordered to wear the long soutane instead of breeches and frock coat, so as to indicate more clearly the difference between churchmen and men of the age. The bishops were requested to visit the pope at regular intervals. In 1850 an extraordinary jubilee was declared.

Definition of the immaculate caption of BL. Virgin Mary

On 2 February 1849 Pius IX asked the opinion of all the bishops about the definition of Immaculate Conception. Out of 603 bishops 546 urged the doctrinal definition. Then on 8 December 1854 he defined the doctrine of Immaculate Conception by the papal bull “Ineffabilis Deus”. He defined as the infallible teacher in the church in the presence of 54 cardinals and 200 bishops. The pope placed a golden crown on the head of Our Lady’s statue. The city was illumined.

Liberalism and the syllabus of errors: On .8 December 1864 Pius IX issued the encyclical “Quanta cura” with an appended “Syllabus of errors” (catalogue of doctrines). It contained some 80 of the principal errors of the time. The liberals protested it strongly. One of the theses condemned was the statement that “the pope can and should reconcile himself with progress, liberalism and modern civilization”. Here by modern civilization pope meant the attacks on the church, denial of religion, imprisonment of the clergy and closing of catholic schools.

The syllabus of errors contained eighty unacceptable propositions. In it the pope condemned pantheism and rationalism; indifferentism, which regards all religions as equal in value; socialism, which denies the right to private property and subordinates the family to the state; the erroneous concept regarding Christian marriage; Freemasonry, the rejection of temporal power of the pope; Gallicanism, which wanted to make the exercise of the ecclesiastical authority dependent on the authorization by the civil power; statism which insists on the monopoly of education and dissolves religious orders; and naturalism which regards, the fact that human societies no longer have respect for religion as progress and which demands laicization of institutions, separation of church and state, and absolute freedom of relegation and the press.

Dom Butler evaluated the syllabus “as a most inopportune document”. Actually the excitement was not very strong everywhere. The public remained calm, some because long ago they had stopped paying attention to the strictures of the Vatican in political questions, others because they realized that an exact interpretation of the Roman document required careful exegesis. In England the non Catholic public was virtually unanimous in finding the pope’s campaign against modern society totally ridiculous, primarily because he had condemned virtually everything. English Catholics, on the other hand, attempted, not very successfully, to argue that Pius IX had condemned the doctrinal errors and excesses of liberalism, and not the liberal institutions as England knew them. In the Netherlands the document contributed to increasing Protestant hostility to the papacy and to the hastening of the break between Catholics and liberals in parliament.

            The Austrian government feared that, encouraged by the encyclical the clergy would demand an even more favourable application of the concordat. Dollinger and friends deplored the syllabus; but the Mainz faction noted the condemnation of atheistic philosophers and of bold theologians with satisfaction. In France agitation lasted for several weeks. Many bishops wrote to Rome, pointing to the dangers of ambiguity, and demanded a clarification. Some of the others persuaded the government to forbid the official publication of the encyclical under the pretext that its condemnations were directed against the constitution of the empire. Dupanloup wrote a mitigating commentary on encyclical and the syllabus in the form of a defense of the pope.

Pius IX was no longer able to see the radical difference between catholic liberalism and liberalism as such. While regular liberalism, even its adherents practiced their religion, was naturalistic and wanted to separate man as much as possible from his religious ties, liberal catholics both intellectually and practically were guided by the demands of their faith and accepted, sometimes somewhat unwillingly, their subjection to the decisions of the church. Pius IX admitted the difference but unwillingly. In 1874 he declared: Catholic liberalism has one foot in the truth and one foot in error one foot in the church and one foot  in the spirit of the century, one foot on my side and one foot on the side o my enemies”.

Pius IX and I Vatican Council

A council was suggested to Pius IX as early as 1849 and it matured slowly. At the end of 1864 the pope consulted a number of cardinals about the advisability of the matter. Since their opinion was positive he decided to pursue the issue carefully. He consulted the bishops and other officers in the curia and asked them to submit suggestions for an agenda. Gradually he then formed four commissions to make detailed programme. Since the majority in the curia was not very enthusiastic about the council, the pope hesitated for more than two years. Finally on 26 June 1867 he publicly made known his intention, and invited to Rome on 8 December 1869 all the catholic bishops and those who had the right to participate in a council.

It was suggested to invite the representatives from the non-catholic churches. A letter was directed to all the Orthodox bishops in September 1868, in which they were asked to return to catholic church unity in order to be able to Participate in’ the council; a few days later a global letter was sent to Protestants and   Anglicans. From an ecumenical point o f view this was one of the saddest cases of missed opportunities.

In the catholic world the announcement of the council intensified the opposition between Gallicans and liberal Catholics on one side, ultramontane and opponents of the modern freedoms on the other. (Before the council it was reported that the council was going to define the papal infallibility. In Germany Ignaz Dollinger under the Pseudonym of Janus published a critical and partisan book attacking the primacy of the pope and the Roman centralization. In France a heated discussion was done on the question, of infallibility. Bishop Dupanloup insisted that it was inopportune to define the doctrine because of the difficulties it could create.) But several bishops like Deshamps, Manning demanded immediately that the council be utilized solemnly to define the truth of this publicly contested point. The majority of the German bishops at their annual conference at Fulda in September 1869 expressed reservations about the future definition of the personal infallibility the pope.

The council opened on 8 December 1869 in the presence of 700 bishops, 60 from Eastern rites, 200 from outside of Europe (121 from America, 49 US, 41 from India and the Far East, 18 from Oceania, 9 from Africa). The Italians constituted one-third of the assembly, they also provided two-thirds of the consultants and experts, all of the secretaries, and all five presidents, only one important position, that of secretary general, was entrusted to a foreigner, to the Austrian Fessler.

Before the council it was reported that the council was going to define papal infallibility. Then in Germany Prof. Ignaz Dollinger of Munich attacked infallibility on historical grounds. In France a heated discussion was done on the question of infallibility. Bishop Duponloup insisted that it was inopportune to define the doctrine because of the difficulties it could create. Cardinal Newmann supported him.

The council fathers assembled in an atmosphere of tranquility and security. The public sessions were presided over by the pope in person. On 24 April the third session of the council unanimously adopted and published the dogmatic constitution De Fide catholica concerning the fundamental doctrine of christianity and condemning the errors of Rationalism, aetheism, pantheism, traditionalism etc.

The question of infallibility of the pope had called forth much excitement within and outside of the council. It was included in the schema De ecclesia Christi. It became the matter of a heated discussion and it divided the Fathers into two camps:

1. The great majority held that a definition was proper and necessary. The leaders of infallibilists were Deschamps of Belgium and Manning of England. (451).

2. A minority, one fourth, opposed the definition. This group broke down into two groups:

a) Those who thought the doctrine was wrong. (88)

b) Those who believed in papal infallibility but thought its definition was inopportune. (62)

The chapters on the primacy of the pope and his infallibility were brought to a vote on 18 July 1870. 533 Fathers voted placet and two bishops non placet. Sixty bishops were absent for the final vote. After the definition the bishops throughout the world accepted the decision of the council as true and inspired. Do1linger’s supporters in Germany refused to accept the doctrine and they formed a small schismatic group called the Old Catholics.

On 19 July 1870 the Frank-Russian war broke out and many bishops obliged to leave Rome. Then on 20 September the Piedmontese took Rome and made it absolutely impossible to continue the council. Therefore on 20 October 1870 the pope prorogued the council indefinitely to a more Peaceful and favourable time.

The Papacy and Italian Unification

In the 19th century the drive toward national unification in Europe was strong. Attempts were made also in Italy like in other European countries to create a united Italy. When the dream of an Italian confederacy at under pope had proved impractical, the Italian patriots began to direct their gaze toward the ambitious king of Piedmont Sardinia, Victor Emmanuel 11 (1849-1878). They backed the plan of incorporating the various Italian states into Piedmont Sardinia. It was the plan of Camillo Cavour (1852-1861), the Piedmontese prime minister. His slogan was “a free church in a free state”. He made use of the help of the secret societies and revolutionaries to attain his ends.

            In 1859 Cavour declared war against Austria and sought of France. The Austrians were easily defeated and Parma, Modena, Tuscany and part of papal states were incorporated into Piedmont. The pope pronounced excommunication in vain. In the newly acquired provinces the church property was confiscated and state schools were established in which the teaching of religion was forbidden. In 1860 Giuseppe Garibaldi conquered Sicily and Naples. Other provinces Umbria and Marches were also conquered. In March 1861 Victor Emmanuel was proclaimed king of Italy.

            Only Rome and surrounding territory remained under the pope. The Italian nationalists wanted to make Rome the capital of Italy. Victor Emmanuel sent his envoy to speak with the pope, but pope denied even the possibility of negotiation. He received the royal emissary, read the letter, burst into violent reproaches against the vipers, the whited sepulchers of Florence and replied “non possumus”. On 2 September 1870 Rome and Vatican were seized. The protest and excommunication of the pope had no effect. In June 1871 Rome was proclaimed the capital of the united Italy and Quirinale became the residence of the king.

            The pope withdrew to the Vatican as a voluntary prisoner. On 13 May 1871 the Italian government issued the law of Guarantee to settle the affairs of the Holy See. This law invested the pope with personal attributes of sovereign, immunity from arrest, inviolability of his person. He could have a personal military guard, his communications with the bishops and foreign governments would be absolutely free. He should have his own postal and telgrrapgh services. He was given exclusive use of Vatican and Lateran basilicas and palaves, and palaves, and villa of Castel Gondolfo.  He was also granted a tax free pension of three and a quarter million lire a year.  Pius IX denounced the law of gurantee because it was a unilateral

Old Catholics

The opposition to infallibility culminated in the establishment of a new church, Old Catholics. Prof. Dollinger was its leader. Many professors in Germany joined him. They regarded themselves as conservatives adhering to the old catholic faith in the face of erroneous innovations.

In Germany it remained as an elite movement and in the 1870s it reached its peak with about six thousand members. In August 1670, 1300 Rhenish catholics protested against the council. In Nurenburg 32 professors appealed to an ecumenical council, true and free, to be held on this side of the Alps.

In September 1870 the first congress of old catholics was held in Munich with 300 delegates from Germany, Switzerland and Austria, guest participants from Orthodox and Anglican churches. Dollinger was against division, claimed the right to continued equal membership in the catholic church. He never formally joined old catholics, but others called for the establishment of an emergency community, the majority of the congress participants agreed with them.

The second congress was held in 1872 in Cologne. It officially adopted the name “Old Catholics”, decided to establish regular care and appointed a commission for the preparation of the election of a bishop. On 14 June 1871 Pro. Joseph Hubert Reinkens was chosen. He was consecrated by a bishop of Utrecht Church and thus entered into the apostolic succession. He was placed under interdict by Pius IX. Bishop Reinkens established an Episcopal administration in Bonn. He was acknowledged as a catholic bishop by Prussia, Baden etc.

The constitution of the Old Catholics was drafted by Schutte and it granted legislative powers and right to elect bishops to the synods formed of the representatives of clergy and laymen. It was approved by the Third Congress in 1873 in Constance. It was ratified by the first Synod in 1874 in Bonn. After 1880 German was employed in the liturgy of the Mass. In 1879 they abolished celibacy.

In Switzerland in 1875 a new church, Christ Catholic church of Switzerland Was established. In doctrine it followed the German model and its constitution it is more democratic. In 1876 Edward Herzog was elected bishop. They established a church oriented to Bible and Eucharist. In 1874 a university was established in Berne by government with the assistance of Herzog.  It became a theological center.

In Austria after 1872 there existed four Old Catholic communities. In 1879 its first synod was held and it adopted the German pattern.

The Old Catholic bishoprics and the Utrecht church, which prior to 1870 had been totally isolated, formed the union of Utrecht in 1889. It is an autonomous union of national churches free from Rome, whose honourary primate is the archbishop of Utrecht. A joint declaration again accepted the faith of the first millennium, and a kind of Roman primacy which then prevailed. It protested against the dogmas of 1854 and 1870. Dollinger’s internationally recognized scholarship and his ecumenical efforts in 1874-75 resulted in the Bonn conference of union, consisting of old Catholics, Russian Orthodox and Anglican theologians. In the 19th century they made a bold attempt at the international theological discussions and thus precursor to ecumenism.

Leo XIII (1878 1903)

The conclave began on 18 February 1878. 60/64 cardinals entered in the conclave. 25 cardinals were non Italians. A strong group of cardinals wanted the election conducted outside of Italy. Finally it was decided to have it in Rome, On 20 Feb. cardinal Gioachino Vincenzo Raffaele Luigi Pecci was elected pope with 44 votes. The new pope chose his name Leo XIII in gratitude to pope Leo XII for furthering his studies at the Roman seminary.

Leo did not deliver the benediction Urbi et Orbi from the outer loggia towards the St. Peters square, but toward the basilica. His coronation was held in Sistine chapel and not in St. Peter’s because there was no guarantee for security from the government. Pope’s choice of a name inspired the mockery: “Non e Pio, non e Clemente, ma Leone senza dente’. He sent individual inaugural letters to catholic as well as non catholic as well as non-catholic heads of the states, in which he indicated his desire to settle disputes. The Italian government was ignored and in turn the government did not recognize the new pope officially.

Pope Leo was born on 2 March 1810 in Carpineto, central Italy. His brother was a Jesuit. Leo was ordained priest in 1837, had doctorate in Theology. He was papal nuncio in Belgium from 1843-46. He was appointed bishop Of Perugia in 1846, cardinal in 1853, Camerlengo in 1877.

All agree that Leo XIII was a great pope. He was a humanist in the best sense of the word. He possessed a keen intelligence and political ability and experience.  He was prudent in his dealings with governments and was able to adjust differences amicably without sacricing the principles.

1. Leo XIII and the Italian problem

Leo seemed intractable in his dealings with Italy. He did not yield to the insulting attitude of the Italian government. His stand on the Roman question was the same as his predecessor’s. He refused to accept the Law of guarantee. He condemned the injustice of the government and exhorted the catholics not to participate in the national elections.

The Italian attack on the Church can be summed up under three classes of measures:

(1) Those intended to annoy and insult the pope and make a mockery’ of the catholic faith. The government officials were forbidden to attend thanksgiving services for the election of Leo, wanton attack of government supported hoodlums (street rowdy) on the funeral cortege (funeral procession) of Pius IX, when his body was removed in 1881 from St. Peter’s to the cemetry of San Lorenzo; permitting the newspapers and magazines to carry outrageous anti-catholic blasphemies etc. All these caused Leo to think of leaving Rome and he even entered into preliminary negotiations to take up residence in Austria.

(2) Those measures against church property. The government confiscated the wealth of the suppressed religious orders. In 1881 it took over control of the property of Propaganda Congregation.  It also took over the administration of the properties of the charitable associations.

(3) The anticlerical measures designed to hamstring (cripple) the Church and prevent her from carrying out her religious work. The Clergy were drafted into the army as soldiers, religious teaching was banned from the schools nomination of the bishops was hindered. The regulation of public worship was put under government control and police surveillance. Leo XIII found it impossible to do anything effective toward solving the Roman question. He bore them patiently and was very careful not to do anything that might appear to condone (overlook) these outrages against the Church.

2. Leo XIII and German Kulturkampf

Kulturkampf means battle for culture. It is a title used to describe a series of laws passed in Germany to weaken the ties between the church in Germany and the papacy and to bring the German church under the control of the absolute state. It began in 1871 with Bismark. Two series of events inaugurated the Kulturkampf. (i) The growing strength of the catholic centre party which the pope refused to condemn at the request of the German government. (ii) The protest made by the bishops and in the universities and colleges.

            In 1871 the Catholic Church was put under the control of the government. The government issued the “pulpit laws” which forbade any criticism of the government or the constitution under penalty of heavy fine and a year’s imprisonment. In 1873 a series of laws known as May Laws was passed to put the clergy under the government control. Candidates for priesthood had to spend three years in a state university and Pass a state examination in various non-theological subjects. Seminaries were put under the control of the state inspectors and government asserted its right to appoint and dismiss parish priests. Bishops and priests who disobeyed these laws were deposed.

            In 1875 religious orders except those engaged in hospital work were expelled. Hundreds of priests were fined or imprisoned; several bishops were deposed, exiled or imprisoned. Bismark operated these laws with brutal and mechanical efficiency. The strength of centre party grew and endangered the legislative plans of Bismark. And there was a feeling by 1878 that Kulturkampf was a rather shameful thing and there was no real justification for it.

When Bismark needed the support of the central party against the socialists, he entered into diplomatic relations with the pope. Finally in 1887 Bismark revoked the Kulturkampf and spoke eloquently of the pope as an agent of peace. The central party loyally attached to the Church. Its basic idea was that modern constitutions guarantee all citizens freedom of religion. This attitude of the centre party made the Kulturkampf a failure and an active and strong body of catholics grew at the end of 19th century in Germany.

3. Leo XIII and the Secular laws (Lois Laigues) of France

            Leo faced a different situation in France. The Lois Laiques the counterpart of Kultutkampf were more thourough, more vicious and more successful.

The French Revolution divided France into two nations: (i) Liberals (Republicans), (ii) Catholies (monarchists). The events of the 19th century made the difference between these two nations deeper and more bitter and the attempts of the liberal catholics like Ozanam and Duponloup failed to bring the two parties together. In 1877 the Republicans won the election. They formed the Third Republic. Gambetta became the prime minister. His slogan was “clericalism the enemy”.

The catholics were not sincere supporters of the church. There were professed atheists among them. They supported the church as an instrument to further their political views. They were divided into different groups bitterly opposing each other. On the other hand the republicans were disciplined +united.

The third republic declared war against the church. The clergy were expelled from all charitable institutions which were entrusted to laymen. Schools were laicized; military service was imposed on seminarians. Sunday labour was authorized and divorce courts were established. These laws were known as Ferry laws.

            The laicization of education was accomplished step by step. In 1880 the Jesiuts were expelled and their schools and colleges (28) were closed. All “non-authorized” congregations must apply within three months for authorization, submitting their statutes, rules and number of the members. Only those authorized by the government were to continue teaching. In 1882 all religious was excluded from the primary schools. In 1884 February Leo published an encyclical “nobilissima Gallorum Gens” in which he regretted that the eldest daughter of the Church had departed from its tradition. But the government continued its anti-Catholic activities. In 1886 all nuns were excluded from the government supported schools.

            Gradually the government had to stop their process of laicization because of two reasons: (i) the attempt to drive the church out of French life did not meet with widespread support. Less than 3% of the children were enrolled in the laicized state supported schools. (ii) The mild attitude of Leo. On 16 February 1892 the pope released his encyclical “au milieu des solicitudes” to the French bishops and their flocks. It was to end the dissensions among the French Catholics and to remove all pretexts of anticlericalism among the enemies of the church. In his Brief on 10 January 1890 “Saplunltiae christianae” the pope exhorted the French Catholics to be loyal to any form of the government and that they had an obligation to accept the Third Republic as duly established government and to work within it to protect the church’s interests and the common welfare. He said that the church was not opposed to any form of the government so long as religion and moral discipline were untouched and the church would not side with any party.

Again between 1901 and 1905 the French government enacted a series of anticlerical laws known as the “lois laiques”-secular laws – to drive the church out of French political, social and intellectual life. An Association Act of 1901 provided that any religious order wishing to continue work in France must obtain specific authorization from the government and submit to periodical inspection. A law of 1904 provided that within ten years no member of a religious congregation could teach in any French school, public or private. The separation Act of 1905 abrogated unilaterally the concordet of 1801. So the church was deprived of government support. The administration of church properties was entrusted to lay associations. Leo’s efforts in France had ‘failed but he had from time to time moderated the storm against the church and contributed to lessening the divisions among the faithful.

4. Leo XIII as the teacher of the Church

In the midst of tribulations and problems pope Leo performed successfully his function as the head of the Church. He issued a series of masterful encyclicals. The Kulturkampf, Lois Laiques and the Italian measures have all been rescinded and have melted into history. But the encyclicals of Leo are still read, studied and quoted’. He wrote on such current topics as marriage, errors of the day, the temporal power and the church and civilization. The great encyclicals are his most enduring memorial.

Inscrutabili Dei (878) on the evils affecting modern society, their causes and remedies.

Quod apostolici muneris (1878) defended the right of private property, sanctioned by the law of nature. He focused his attention on socialists, communists etc.

Humanum Genus (1884) against Freemasonry and secret societies.

Aeterni Patris (1879) on scholastic philosophy.

Rerum Novarum (15 May 1891) on labour problem.

Immortale Dei (1885) on basic political problems, the church and the state are two perfect societies.

Libertas praestantissimum on liberty as gift of God.

Providentissimus Deu’s (1893) on study of S.Scripture.

Diuturnum Illud (1881) people have the right to choose their form of the government.

Sapintiae Christianaeon, the chief duties of christians as citizens.

Divinum Illud, on devotion to the Holy Spirit.

Mirae Caritatis, on Eucharist.

Other activities

1881 – He opened Vatican archives to all scholars. 1886 – He instituted the Latin hierarchy in India (Kerala). 1887 – Ritual separation the Syrians and Latins in Kerala. Two vicariates for Syrians.

Pius X (1903-1914)

On 4 August 1903 Joseph Melchior Sarto, the Cardinal and Patriarch of Venice was elected pope. He took the name Pius X. He was a man of deep piety with a purely pastoral background. “Instaurare omnia in Christo” was his motto.

Joseph Sarto was born in 1835 as a son of a postmaster of Riese on Venetian plains. He was ordained priest at 23. He had experience as a pastor, chancellor and spiritual director of the seminary. He was ordained bishop of Mantua in 1884 and became patriarch of Venice and cardinal in 1893. The government delayed his elevation for sixteen months. He took a round trip ticket when he went for the conclave. He was elected pope on the fourth voting. It was complained that he was a bishop rather than a statesman because of his simplicity. His secretary of the State was Raphael Merry de Val.

Pius X and Modernism

            Modernism is difficult to define because they did not agree among themselves on what they believed. For them believing was unimportant whereas religious experience and pious living were the essence of the religion. Pius X summed up the teachings of modernism under 65 condemned propositions. He called Modernism “the synthesis of all heresies”.

The errors of Modernism are summed up under three headings: 1. Agnosticism: supernatural truths cannot be known with certainty by human reason. Holy Scripture could be interpreted subjectively. 2. Immanentism: S Scripture and tradition do not contain revelations of God, but expression of feelings and inner experience of extremely religious persons. For them religion is a purely inner experience. 3. Evolutionism: The church is a result of gradual evolution as it evolves it should adopt itself to changing times.

            By his decree “Lamentabili” (1907) Pius X condemned modernism. He renewed it in “Pascendi Domini Gregis”. He suggested appropriate remedies: sound training in the seminaries, careful scrutiny of professors in seminaries and universities, careful control of the bishopsover the catholic journals and news papers, creation of the diocesan board of censures, diocesan committee to safeguard teaching of religion in schools. In 1910 he published a motu proprio which obliged all priests to take an explicit anti-modernistic oath. The condemnation of modernism, though salutary, put a temporary check on the study of scripture.

Pius X and the codification of Canon Law

At Vatican I several bishops requested to revise the canon law. Pius IX and Leo XIII had made attempts in this respect. The canonists also suggested the church, legislation be revised and codified. On 19 March 1904 Pius X appointed a commission of cardinals, canonists and theologians to prepare a new code with the suggestions from all bishops. Cardinal Gasperi was appointed the secretary of the commission. To speed up the work, the commission was divided into two; one led by Gasperi another by cardinal De Lai. Books were published on:

Books I, II      –           20 March 1912

            III        –           01 April 1913

            IV        –           15 Nov. 1914

            V         –           01 July 1913

At the time of Pius’ death the major work had already been accomplished. The final conclusive version was published by Benedict XV in 1917.

Spiritual reforms of Pius X

1. Frequent and daily communion. In the beginning of 20th century there was a dispute between the advocates of frequent communion and its opponents. Leo XIII encouraged frequent communion Pius X also defended it and several decrees and letters in favour of it were published. In June 1905 he approved a prayer “for the propagation of the pious custom of daily communion, bringing to mind that Jesus meant to be the daily remedy and the daily food for our daily shortcomings. On 20 December 1905 the congregation for the council specified two conditions for receiving Holy Communion.  1. The state of grace, 2. Proper intention. He asked all faithful to communicate frequently and daily. On 8 October 1910 he issued the decree “Quam Singulari” declaring that it is sufficient for children to have the age of reason to receive the First Holy Communion. In April 1905 he founded the teague of Priests to enforce the application of the decree about the frequent communion.

            2. International Eucharistic Congress. The first Eucharistic congress was convoked in 1881. It was organized by Miss Tamisier, a French Lady, and a disciple of St. Peter Julian Eymard. The name Eucharistic congress was suggested by Msgr. Mermier. Msgr. Seigur was also associated with it.

Originally international congresses were meant to be public manifestations to inspire the devotion to Bl. Sacrament and to have a public witness to Christ’s kingdom. Pius X wanted these congresses be an occasion to encourage faithful to receive Holy Communion frequently even daily. This was especially pertinent at the Congress of Metz in 1907. In 1914 at Lourdes Eucharistic children’s crusade was founded. By then the Eucharistic congress became more international in character, besides, national congresses were also conducted.

3. Liturgical renewal. a) Church music. No significant renewal was done after the council of Trent. On 22 Nov. 1903 by “tra se sollicitudine” Pius X wrote on church music. It was qualified as the ‘charter of the liturgical movement’. He opposed the orchestral opera music. Gregorian chant was presented as perfect model of church music. He wanted music provide a prayer with a beautiful background. b) Revision of breviary (1911) C) yearly liturgical conventions

4. Concern for pastoral improvements. Pius X tried his best to improve the spiritual and moral level of the clergy and to inspire their pastoral enthusiasm. Under the direction of Consistorial Congregation a questionnaire was prepared in 1909 focusing on clergy’s observance of their duties and situation in the seminaries. He constantly reminded the bishops to use stricter standards when recruiting the priests. He prevented priests from participating in activities of an economic or political nature.

In order to improve the quality of the clergy, Pius X turned his attention to the seminaries including the minor seminaries. In 1907 a programme of studies was published. In 1908 norms for the organization of the seminaries in regard to education and discipline. It paid attention to minute details. It had many shortcomings – a life without much contact with outside world. The Roman regulations could not be executed due to lack of suitable men, finance etc.

Pius X was very careful in the selection of bishops.  St. Anselm was represented as the ideal bishop. He revised the methods of studied each one personally before the final decision. He issued regulations on their adlimina visits – a detailed report of the diocese every five years.

Reforms of Pius X

The London Times wrote after the death of Pius X: “It is not an exaggeration to say that Joseph Sarto instituted more changes in the administration of the Catholic Church than any of his predecessors since the council of Trent”.

Reorganization of the Roman Curia

The organization of the Roman Curia was instituted by pope Sixtus V on 21 January 1588 by his bull Immensa aeterni. There were 15 congregations. In the course of 300 years it turned into a heterogeneous assemblage of thirty seven agencies whose rights and responsibilities were often totally undefined and who were constantly in conflict with each other. Moreover the elimination of temporal authority rendered some of these agencies totally superfluous. Furthermore the administrative methods were completely obsolete, inflexible, out of date, costly etc. Many in the curia consider their work as a carrier to have the cardinal’s hat. The reform in the curia was very urgent. In 1903 Pius X suspended Congregation De eligendis episcopis and entrusted the appointment of the bishops to the Holy Office. In 1906 he suspended Congregation Super disciplina regulari and De Statu Regularum and entrusted everything concerned Religious Orders to Congregation of Bishops and Regulars.

On 29 June 1906 Pius X reorganized the Roman Curia by the Constitution “Sapiente consilio”. The new curia consisted of 11 congregations, three tribunals and five offices. I.Conareagtions

i. Cong. for Doctrine of Faith

ii. cong. of Consistory: in charge of bishops, seminaries

iii. cong. of the Sacraments

iv. cong. of the Council – general discipline of clergy and faithful

v. cong. of the Religious

vi. cong. of the Propagation of Faith

vii. cong. of Rite

viii. cong. of Ceremonies

ix. cong. for Extraordinary Affairs

x. congregation for Seminaries and Universities

xi. cong. of the Index (abolished in 1917)

2. Tribunals

i. Romana Rota -highest court of appeal.

ii. Apostolica Signatura – highest court of administrative and reversal of judgment.

iii. Sacred Penitentiary – the curial court of grace for the internal forum. Since it predominantly grants pardon, it should be considered rather as an administrative office than as a court.

3. Offices

i. Apostolic Chancery – responsible for the preparation and dispatching of bulls.

ii. Apostolic Datary -competent for the conferring of lesser ecclesiastical benefices (c.261).

iii. The Apostolic Camera (Chamber) – for the administration of temporal property and rights of the Holy See (c.262).

iv. The Secretariat of the State responsible for the direction of the policy of the Holy See.

v. The Secretariat of Briefs.

It is remarked that the basic structure of Sixtus V’s organization was not essentially (decisively) changed.

Papal Conclave

Pius I reorganized the papal conclave so as to insure absolute freedom in the election of the pope. He abolished the system of veto in 1904 (5 Dec.) and imposed absolute secrecy on the conclave’s deliberations under penalty of excommunication. On 19 May 1914 he created 13 new cardinals to give the College of Cardinals an even balance of Italians and non Italians.

Pius X ordered to teach catechism on Sundays and Holy days and to establish confraternity of Christian doctrine in every parish. He also pointed out the necessity of lay action in the Church (Il fermo proposito – 11 June 1905). He promoted the study of Bible. In 1909 he established the Biblical Institute in Rome.

St. Pius X did not possess the diplomatic ability and versatility of his predecessors. He permitted the Catholics to take part in the parliamentary elections provided the diocesan bishops approved. Pius X lived to see the outbreak of World War I, of which he spoke forebodingly. The war broke out late in the summer of 1914 and within three weeks the pope died on 20 August 1914. His kindness, simplicity and genuine piety had won for him the love off Catholics and the esteem of the non-Catholics.

Benedict XV (1914-1922)

Giacomo Paulo Battista Della Chiesa, the archbishop of Bolonga, was elected pope on 3 September 1914. He took the name Benedict XV in memory of his predecessor Benedict XIV (Lambertini). His coronation was on a September at Sixtine chapel.

Benedict XV was born on 21 November 1854 at Genoa. He had two brothers and a sister. He was ordained priest on 21 December 1878. In 1882 he was appointed to the cong. for extraordinary affairs, then as secretary to Card. Rampola. In 1887 he was appointed minutante of Secretariat of State. In 1901 he became the Sostituto, in 1907 archbishop of Bolonga. He was ordained bishop by Pius X at the Sixtine chapel. In 1914 he was made cardinal. When his mother complained about not promoting him to cardinalate, Pius X said to her: “your son takes few but long steps”.

Benedict was the ideal choice. He had experience in Roman curia as well as in pastoral work. He continued the reform works of Pius X. In 1914 he created a commission on the correction of the Vulgate and in 1915 he issued an encyclical on preaching. In 1915 he created a congregation for seminaries and in 1917 the congregation for the Oriental Churches and the Pontifical Oriental Institute.

Benedict XV and the World War I

The First World War (1914-1918) broke out in the summer of 1914. It is called a world war for nearly every nation of the world became involved in it. Since Italy was neutral the conclave could be done in tranquility.

            The war caused the pope great pain. He followed a fourfold policy: perfect neutrality, protest violations of the moral law, perform works of charity for suffering humanity, attempt to end the conflict and to bring peace. He perused this with diplomatic skill and with a heart full of charity.

Benedict XV issued several documents appealing all to peace. In his encyclical Ad Beatissimi (I Nov.1914) the pope speaks of four causes of unrest that produced the war: 1. a general contempt has developed for authority, 2. mutual love no longer governs human relations, 3. class relations are dominated by injustice, 4. people are possessed of a universal fever to amass riches. The pope’s appeal to peace went unheard. Again on 28 July 1915 he exhorted all to end the conflict and to make peace.

Unable toymaker peace, the pope concentrated on charity work. He converted the church’s organization to the relief of suffering and the minimizing of the hardships attendant upon the war. He sent alms to help those areas devastated by the war. In December 1914 the pope set up a Prisoners of War bureau in the Vatican. This office obtained the lists of the missing soldiers and informed the missing men’s families. Arrangements were made through the bureau for communication between prisoners and their families.

Benedict XV also offered to mediate peace between the belligerents. On 1 August 1917 he invited all to agree upon his seven peace points:

1. The moral force of right should replace the material force of arms.

2. Simultaneous and reciprocal disarmament.

3. Acceptance of arbitration with proper sanctions to punish nations that did not abide by the decisions.

4. Freedom of the seas.

5. A general and reciprocal condonation as regards damages and cost of the war.

6. The reciprocal restitution of territory.

7. The promise to examine territorial disputes in a conciliatory spirit and taking into account the aspirations of the people concerned.

The pope’s note was not even answered. The war continued more than a year later. Then the peace was signed at Versailles, but Papacy was excluded from the negotiations.  It was at the request of Italian government which, afraid that Vatican would bring up the Roman question and place it on the agenda for discussion.

After the peace of Versailles, Pope Benedict wrote his encyclical Pacem Dei Munus expressing his joy and pointing out that there can be no lasting peace unless there be a return of mutual charity to appease hate and banish enemity. He stated explicitly that Christian peace alone can work a reconciliation that will be just and lasting. He promised Church’s full support to the Leagge of Nations.

The neutral policy of Benedict was appreciated by all. It resulted in a number of steps in various countries toward reconciling the church and the government. Meanwhile Holy See’s diplomatic prestige had increased. England appointed an ambassador to Vatican in 1914, Holland in 1916, and France in 1920. Political persons visited the pope. A statue of pope was erected in Constantinople. Its inscription reads: “To the great pope of world tragedy, Benedict XV, a benefactor of peoples without distinction of nationality or religion, the East, in token of gratitude 1914-1919. He died on 22 January 1922 at the age of 68.

Pius XI (1922-1939)

            On 6 February 1922 the cardinal archbishop Of Milan Ambrose Damian Achille Ratti, was elected pope. He took the name Pius XI. Achille Ratti was born in Desio near Monza on 31 May 1857. He was ordained priest on 20 December 1879. From 1882 to 1886 he was professor in Milan Seminary, prefect of Ambrosian Library from 1888 to 1907, then prefect of Vatican library. In 1918 he was appointed apostolic visitor and nucio to Poland and in 1921 he was named archbishop of Milan and cardinal. He had doctorate in Canon Law and Philosophy. He was a strong man with keen intelligence and universal interest. He had vast encyclopedic knowledge of the modern world.

            Pius XI was a compromising candidate. Cardinals Lafontaine of Venice and Gasparri were the candidates. In the 14th ballot Ratti obtained 42 votes out of 53. He took the motto “Pax Christi in Regno Christi”. He was the scholarly pope since Benedict XIV (1740-58). He had considerable knowledge of languages and acquaintance with modern scientific investigation. Re was pious and active in pastoral care. As nuncio he acquired experience of ecclesiastical politics. He had excellent health, had a regular walk in Vatican garden.

“Life in action” was one of his maxims. Another one was: “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can today”. It seems that he was born to command. He had a strong consciousness of authority. His model was St. Ambrose. He used to say “Laws are to be observed, not to be dispensed with”. He was strongly against nepotism. He received his relatives in the official reception hall. The first blessing of the pope from the external loggia shows a move toward a solution of the Roman question.

Pius XI and the Room question

The Roman question was settled in 1929. It was largely the, personal work of Pius XI. It ended the 59 years of anomalous existence the church had endured since 1870.

In October 1922 Fascism under the leadership of Benito Mussolini seized the power in Italy and soon eliminated all other parties. Fascism- from the word fasci or clubs – was organised by Mussolini in the industrial centers. Its members wore black shirts and had as their symbol the fasces or bundles of rods enclosing a battle axe and saluted Mussolini as il duce with outstretched hand in Roman manner – took a friendly attitude toward the church which it considered primarily of course as an element Of natural culture. Religion instruction again became obligatory in the elementary schools; clerics were granted exemption from military service, military chaplains were appointed; the crucifix was returned to a place of honour in the schools, hospitals and law courts; churches and cloisters, that had been seized were given back, catholic holidays were acknowledged by law. Mussolini fully recognized the immense importance of a settlement of the differences with papacy. So he was very anxious to settle the Roman question. He wanted the full support of all Italians and he knew that this was impossible until the church officially accepted the loss of Rome and Italy recognized the papacy as a sovereign state. He believed that he could identify Catholicism and Italian nationalism to enhance his own power and prestige. Since Italian people is almost totally catholic, he explained, and Catholicism is the ancient glory and tradition of Italy, the state which is the judicial organization of the Italian nation, the representative of its spirit and the heir of its traditions, is not and can not be aught but catholic”.

Pius XI on his part intimated at the beginning of his pontificate that the church would accept much lose than the city of Rome and she recognized the unification of Italy as an accomplished fact. He explained that he needed only a little corner of the earth. In his first blessing he expressed his desire to negotiate with Italy. Then in his first encyclical he invited the Italian government to settle the question.

            Informal negotiations were begun in August 1926. Francesco Paccelli, brother of Pius Pius XII, represented the Holy See, Dominico Barone, the Italian government. Both had 110 conversations. And they prepared a draft treaty in April 1927. Then the last stages of negotiations were carried on by Mussolini and Cardinal Gasparri. Finally after two and half years of negotiations on 11 February 1929 was concluded the Lateran Treaty.

This treaty has three parts: 1. The treaty proper, 2. A financial settlement, 3. A concordat.

1. The Treaty proper. It is a bilateral settlement. Pope’s sovereignty was recognized by Italy. It created Vatican City, a sovereign state governed by pope. It has 108 acres. It declared the person of the pope sacred and inviolable and acknowledged his right to send and receive diplomatic embassies. The pope, on his side, recognized the kingdom of Italy with Rome as its capital. The treaty also provided for the extra territoriality and immunity of many buildings outside Vatican City including the major Roman basilicas (Lateran, St. Mary Major, and St. Paul) the palaces of various Roman congregations and papal summer residence at Castel Gondolfo. It also recognized the cardinals as princes of the Church.

2. The financial settlement. The treaty also made a financial settlement. The state had seized tremendous amount of church property since 1870. Italy promised to pay the pope 1750 million Lire for the loss.

3. A concordat. The treaty included a concordat between the Holy See and the Italian government. It established the catholic religion as the state religion of Italy. It granted to the bishops full freedom in the exercise of their pastoral office, it placed Christian marriage, Christian schools and religious societies under the protection of the state. The state promised to recognize the holydays established by the church. The church, on her part, promised to recite liturgical prayers for the king of Italy and the Italian nation.

The Lateran treaty was a great achievement of pope Pius XI. It brought to the foreground the religious and pastoral functions of the papacy and pushed into background its worldly and political interests.

Pius XI and the Concordats

Pius XI believed that the church could effect a contribution to the consolidation of the new political situations and to the peaceful and cultural development of Europe. Therefore he entered into general concordats with various European powers. In this work he was supported by his Secretary of the State Cardinal Gasparri (+1934) and his successor Eugenio Paccelli. Pius XI concluded concordats with Latvia (1922.), Bavaria (1924), Poland (1925), Lithuania (1927), Romania (1927) Prussia (1929) Italy (1929). Baden (1932), Austria (1933), Germany (1933), Yugoslavia (1935- not ratified). So his pontificate can be called a new era of concordats.

The results of the concordats

1. The church obtained legal autonomy and freedom from secular rulers.

2. Provision is made for the nomination of bishops. Pope is free to nominate anyone he wishes and submits his name to government to make sure he is not politically a persona non-grata.

3. Freedom to exercise public worship, recognition of right of the church to promulgate laws binding on all Catholics.

4. Full freedom for communication between Holy See and bishops in the country, between bishops and their faithful.

5. Ecclesiastical organizations obtained official recognition and legal right to acquire and manage property. These organizations are recognized as corporate persons.

6. Freedom for religious orders to operate as cooperate entities within the country.

7. Special status of ecclesiastics according to the canon law was accepted: clerics are free from military service and from duties and public offices that are unbecoming to clerical status.

8. Some measure of the state support for the church in return for property confiscated in days gone by.

9. Various arrangements are made for matters that are a concern to both church and state eg. Education, marriage etc.

10. The concordat guaranteed the church the right to follow its divinely appointed mission freely in return the church recognized the legitimacy of certain political and social interests of the state as education.

Pius XI and fascism

Fascism was a source of trouble to Pius XI almost from the beginning. Certain accomplishments of the fascist government for eg, suppression of secret societies, its protest against materialism etc. deserved to be applauded, but fascist violence could never be condoned. Its doctrine of the state was a modern form of idolatry. Against this Pius XI said; “It is not the function of the state to absorb, to swallow up, to annihilate the individual and the family. This would be absurd, contrary to the nature of things, for the family existed before the state, as it existed before the society”.

            In 1930 and 1931 Mussolini conducted an insulting campaign against papacy and catholic action groups. Therefore on 5 July It 1931, the pope wrote the indignant and strong encyclical “Non abbiamo bisggno”. In it the pope described fascism as an ideology which openly resolves itself into a true, real pagan worship of the state. Then Mussolini withdrew the decrees against the catholic action and never dared to declare open war against Vatican and the church.

Pius II and Nazism

            In Germany the church was persecuted by Nazism under Hitler. Pius XI condemned the doctrine of Nazism and its terrorist activities. In France there was an ultranationalist movement called L’action Francaise which aimed at the restoration of monarchy.  Its activities were anticlerical.  Pius XI condemned it in 1927. In Spain the Revolution of 1931 overthrew the royal rule and passed several antireligious and anticlerical laws. The church’s legal rights were abolished, the ecclesiastical property was put under the state control, the religious instruction was excluded from education and provision was made for the suppression of religious orders. Churches were burned, priests murdered, nuns outraged and slain by the radicals. The government watched passively. On 3 June 1933 the pope condemned this anticlerical legislation. Pius XI and Catholic Action

Pius XI realized that the priests cannot by themselves adequately perform their apostolate in the modern world and that they need the help of laity. He defined catholic action as the participation of the laity in the work of hierarchy.  He reminded the laymen of their obligation and duty to preach the gospel to all people. Catholic action groups are formed to spread gospel. Its aim was to create a sacred militia that would bring true, spiritual and moral principles to bear on the problems of the time. Catholic action stands above and beyond all party politics for it aims at the common good of the souls rather that at the welfare of particular bodies. The members of catholic action are always to remain under the bishops’ authority and subject to their jurisdiction. Pope obtained legal recognition of catholic action groups in many countries. Thus different youth groups developed in Europe.

Other activities of Pius X1

Pius XI was able to take the lead in every field of ecclesiastical and religious life and to reveal to all the world the eminent mission of the apostolic see. In line with his motto in 1925 he introduced the feast of Christ the King together with the consecration of the human race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He presided over many canonizations: St. Therese of Lisieux, St. John Mary Vianney, St. Robert Bellarmine, St. John Bosco, St. John Fisher, St. Thomas More etc. In impressive encyclicals he gave clear instructions for the defense of human dignity and Christian personality. Thus in the encyclicals “Divini illius magistri (1929) and Casti connubi (1930) he demanded support for christian education and christian marriage against the modern errors and abuses. On the 40th anniversary of the encyclical of Leo XIII Rerum Novarum, he issued a new and most important encyclical Quadragessimo anno (1931). It gives an outline of a reasonable social order. It reiterates the basic principles of rerum novarum and brings their application up to date. Within a few years Q.A. was known throughout the world, and many of its principles became commonplace among the sociologists and economists.

Main points of Quadragessimo anno.

-the church had the right and duty of exerting its authority in social and economic matters.

-pope points out the errors of socialism and communism on the one hand and rugged individualism on the other.

-pope established the right of private property which has a social character and cannot be employed against the common welfare.

-pope insists that ownership of property entails obligations as well as rights. He lists e rights and unjust claims of capital and labour.

-he dwells on the reconstruction of the social order on the basis of vocational groups and respects for the principles of subsidiarity.

The other encyclicals of Pius XI are:

            Ron abbiamo bisogno– a powerful protest against fascism. In this the pope accused Italian government of attempting to monopolize all the young from the tenderest years up to manhood and womanhood.

            Mit brennender sorge- a more incisive indictment of Nazism. Pope denounced the neopagan exaltation of race and blood.

            Divini Redemptoris– a denunciation of atheistic communism.

            Divini illius magistri- a classic statement of the catholic theory of education. Pope says: “there can be no ideally perfect education that is not a christian education for sound education must take into consideration man’s final goal in life. It must deal with the whole man.

            Casti connubi- the pope states the traditional catholic doctrine on marriage.

1922- Celebrated tercentenary of Propaganda

1922- Authorized the transfer of the headquarters of Propaganda from France to Rome, and placed it more directly under papal supervision.

1923- Institution of Syro-Malabar hierarchy.

1923- First indigenous bishop in India for Latin rite, Tuticorir

1924- Cardinals -New York and Chicago.

1925- Jubilee year, instituted the solemnity of Christ king missionary exposition and founding of a missionary and theological museum in Lateran.

1926- Officiated at the consecration of six Chinese bishops in St. Peter’s.

1929- Extraordinary Jubilee on the occasion of the golden Jubilee of the pope.

1930- Cardinal -Rio do Janeiro.

20 Sept. reunion of Jacobites in Kerala.

1931- Jubilee of council of Ephesus.

1932- 11 June institution of Syro-Malankara hierarchy.

1933-34- Jubilee of Incarnation and redemption of Christ.

1935- Cardinals Buenos Aires, pat. of Antioch.

1936- Foundation of the academy of science.

The pontificate of Pius XI was a fruitful period. The missions were solidly organized and the church began to spread outside Europe. Internally also the church grew greater and stronger. Pius XI also did all he could to facilitate the reunion of the Eastern Churches. The Oriental Institute in Rome was given strong papal support. The pope ordered that all seminaries institute course dealing with the Eastern Church to help to do away with the mutual ignorance and scorn, which have perpetuated the schism. He published his encyclical “Rerun Orientalium” of 1928 on this question.

Pope Pius XI died on 10 February 1939 after 11 years in papacy. At his death the New York Times wrote: “He was a man of ample and various gifts, a humanist, a quiet scholar… a singularly able administrator, a lover of antiquity, his settlement of the Roman question will always be memorable…”

Pius XI made his little domain – larger he would not have -a centre of freedom and of the defense of religion against the new cult of worship of the state. In this defense he was as brave as he was wise. The free men and women whose battle he fought will not forget him”. Pius XI wanted all to bring all into the kingdom of God. The institution of Archaeological Institute in Rome and instruction to the bishops to preserve existing archives show his love for antiquity. He instituted a historical section for completing of the process of beatification and canonization as a part of the congregation for the Rites.

Pope Plus III (1939 1258)

On 2 March 1939 Cardinal Eugenio Paccelli was elected pope. The conclave lasted but one day. He took the name Pius XII

Eugenio Pacelli was a Roman by birth. He was born on 2 March 1876, He attended the state secondary school Visconti and, after finishing these, he pursued philosophy at the Gregoriana from 1804 to 1899, while he was a member of Collegio Capranica. He studied theology at Sant Appollinare as an extern, but at the same time for an entire year he heard lectures at the state university of Sapienza. He was ordained to the priesthood on 2 April 1899 by the cardinal vicar of Rome in the latter’s private chapel.

After the completion of legal studies at Sant’Appollinare (1899-1902), Pacelli entered the congregation for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs as a minutante in 1904. Pacelli became its undersecretary in 1911 and secretary of the congregation in 1914. From 1909 to 1914 he was also teaching at The Academia dei Nobili and performing pastoral work as confessor, preacher and lecturer.

In 20 April 1917 Pacelli was appointed nuncio in Germany. Benedict XV himself ordained him as archbishop of Sardes on 13 May 1917 in the Sistine chapel. After the overthrow of the monarchy, Pacelli was on 22 June 1920 made the first nuncio to the German Republic. In 1925 he moved to Berlin. He was qualified as the most skilful diplomat of the Curia.

            He was recalled to Rome and on 16 December he was created Cardinal. On 7 February he became Gasparri’s successor as secretary of state. He became known to the universal church through legations to Buenos Eires in 1934, Lourdes and Lisieux in 1935 and 1937 respectively, and Budapest in 1938. In 1936 he visited the United States in a private capacity.

            Pacelli spoke a variety of languages. Though he had no experience as the administrator of a diocese, he had a long experience in dealing with men. He had a high intelligence, a combination of charm and dignity in public and private address. He was ascetic and religious and had great devotion to Blessed Virgin Mary. He consecrated human race to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1946 and defined the Assumption of Mary in 1950. When he was in the curia he used to hear confession in a parish and teach catechism. He had a sense of duty and sought to make the church more Catholic.

Pius XII was the man of the hour He possessed the diplomatic skill and experience of Leo XIII and Benedict XV. He was deeply religious like Pius X. He was a teacher on the model of Pius XI. He added sensitivity to changing social and economic conditions.

The beginning of the Pontificate of Pius XII was overshadowed by the impending outbreak of the World War II. Pius XII worked and prayed incessantly to avert the outbreak of the conflict.

The three main concerns of Pius XII were:

1. Peace

2. Protection of Church’s rights throughout the world

3. Adaptation to changing conditions in the world

1. Peace efforts of Pius XII

Peace was a great concern for Pius XII. He worked a programme for a true, just and lasting peace. In the first months of his pontificate he tried desperately to prevent war. He prayed and pleaded for peace. He also employed church’s world wide organization to relieve suffering caused by the war.

            Before the war the pope launched a crusade of prayer to Bl. Virgin Mary and to Sacred Heart of Jesus to prevent the war. He also made a direct appeal to the leaders of the nations, for eg. the radio message of August 24 said: “nothing is lost with peace, all may be lost with war”. In spite of his appeals and peace efforts, the pope hurried I. diplomatic efforts to reconcile the great powers. He proposed to hold an international conference to settle the German -Polish and French-Italian disputes, but it was turned down. (The Germans invaded Poland on l Sept.1939).

At the outbreak of war Pius XII published his first encyclical “Summi Pontificatue” on 27 Oct 1939 –analyzing the dangers that confront the church and the pressing problems of modern time. He asked: “what age has been for all its technical and purely civic progress, more tormented than ours by spiritual emptiness and deep-felt interior poverty”.

            The pope points out two principal errors that lie at the source of all troubles: 1. the denial or forgetfulness of the unity of the human race, 2. the divorce of civil auth it from dependence on God. From these derive nationalism and totalitarian state which denies human, family and even divine rights. The pope stressed the role of the church and her obligation to build up a new world order based on the truth. In the hour of darkness of war he was optimistic saying: “God can do all things. He, therefore, exhorted the Catholics to pray for a lasting Peace based on charity and justice.

Pius XII can truly be called a pope of peace. The problem of peace was always nearest his heart. His Christmas eve address on peace constitute the most complete analysis of the nature of peace. Peace is fundamentally a spiritual and moral condition -”a tranquil living together in order” (St. Augustine). Peace is a threefold thing: 1. it is an interior state of soul and condition of mind within each individual, 2. it is a domestic matter within each nation, social peace among the classes within the country, 3. it is a tranquil living together in order by all the various nations of the world.

In his Christmas message of 1939 Pius XII laid down the essential points of international peace:

i. the right to life and independence of all nations

ii. Deliverance from the economic and psychological slavery.

iii. Creation of some international institution to guarantee agreements entered into by the nations of the world.

iv. Satisfying the real needs and just demands of all nations and all minorities.

v. striving by all people and governments to attain justice rather than promoting selfish interests.

Pope said that the mutual distrust and suspicion are the grounds in which the seeds of war are fruitfully cultivated.

According to Pius XII there are certain victories which are preliminary to any lasting peace:

i. victory over the hatred which divides the nation in our day.

ii. Victory over distrust which makes honest understanding among nations impossible.

iii. Victory over the “dismal principle that utility is the foundation and aim of law, that might can create right”.

iv. Victory over conflicts arising from an unbalanced world economy.

v. Victory over nationalistic selfishness.

Pope stressed that lasting peace must be based on justice among the nations and among the classes within nations and that its foremost foundation lays in the principles given to mankind by Christ.

In the Christmas eve message of 1942 pope laid emphasis on the development and perfection of the human person, on the rights of the family, the dignity and prerogatives of labour and the christian concept of the state. In the Christmas eve message of 1944 pope showed that the same democracies, accepting right political principles can solve international problems and promote peace in the world.

The Church and the War

The war interrupted the normal communications within the church. Many priests were forced into armed services; thousands more left their dioceses to serve as chaplains. Several priests were killed. Millions of faithful suffered and millions were found themselves behind the iron curtain.

Pius XII followed two lines of action in regard to the war. He mobilized the church’s resources for relief work and he used his moral prestige and diplomatic service to shorten the war and advocate terms on which a sound peace could be reached.

1. A Pontifical Relief Commission was set up to help the devastated areas of Poland. Then new relief stations were set up as the war spread into other countries. Food, medicine and clothing were passed out by Vatican relief workers to people of all creeds and nationalities.

2. Protection of refugees: After 1943 when the allies began the invasion of Italy the pope found Rome a particularly pressing problem. There were half a million refugees in Rome and Vatican served them meals at the cost of about $7000 a day. The relief centers helped thousands to find a permanent settlement.

3. Looking after the prisoners of war. Vatican looked after the prisoners of war in many countries. Vatican representatives were given free access to the camps of the prisoners everywhere except in the Russian territory. They contacted the prisoners personally and provided them with all possible helps.

4. Information service. Vatican also set up an information service whose aim was to supply information about the missing persons to their relatives. It started with two volunteers and by 1945 it had a staff of 600 full-time volunteers.

5. Appeal for peace. Throughout the war the pope used his office to mitigate the harshness of the war. In 1940 he appealed for a Christmas truce. 24 November 1940 was declared a day of penance and prayer: for those who died, for those who mourned, and that “true peace may unite as brothers all peoples of the holy family’. May of 1941 was made a crusade for peace month; a special prayer was composed by the pope.

Pius XII negotiated with both sides to have Rome declared an open city. But it was not done; Rome was subjected to several severe bombings until it was taken by the American troops.

The loss of the Church

The church suffered serious losses in personnel and property during the war. Three bishops and at least 2000 priests had died or been killed in Poland and 1597 German priests had been killed and similar numbers of religious had lost their lives in the other countries of Europe. Japan had killed many missionaries in China. War damages to the church alone estimated at more than six billion.

The reconstruction of the church

Pius XII began to rebuild the church on a world-wide basis. He increased the number of the cardinals and gave to the College of Cardinals a universal character. The Italians lost the majority. (23/70). On 18 February 1946 he created 33 cardinals.

Russia thwarted the reconstruction works of the church. The church behind the iron curtain was cut off from Rome. 53 millions of the 425 million Catholics in the world are in this church of silence. The Holy See was powerless to offer more than prayers and encouragement to them. The influence and guidance of the pope checked the communist advance in Italy in the years after the war.

Pius XII and adaptation to a changing world

Pius XII was deeply concerned with keeping the church abreast (up-to-date) of the times. As bishop of Rome he took possession of the basilica of St. John of Lateran, the first pope since 1846. In 1939 he visited the king of Italy in Quirinale.

            Pius XII also effected changes in certain aspects of ecclesiastical life. He encouraged the religious congregations to modernize their dress and suggested some reforms to effectively fulfill their duties. In 1952 the superiors of 200 Congregations met in Rome.

Pius XII insisted that the renewal of religious life should be marked by fidelity to the traditional heritage as well as by courage for wise adaptation. He strongly emphasized the obligation not to attack the essentials of religious life and of the particular institute, and not to be unduly influenced by the current views and opinions.

The Roman congregation of the Religious took up the aim of renewal of religious life in accord with the time. In the Holy Year 1950 it convened at Rome an International Congress for male religious. This general Congress discussed the life and cloistral discipline of religious, their formation and apostolic work. Two years later a congress of superioresses General took place at Rome which also treated the question of reform of the institutes. In 1957 the Congregation summoned the second general congress and discussed the theme “the timely renewal of the state of perfection”.

National and international conferences were instituted in various countries to reform the religious life;

1. Union of superiors general for male -1957

2. International union of the superioresses general for female religious -1965

3. Confederation of Latin-American religious 1959, Bogota. On 21 November 1950 the pope published the apostolic constitution Sponsa Christi on nuns. It was followed two days later by the directives for its implementation from the Congregation of Religious. These documents first underscored the inalterability of the contemplative life, the propriety of solemn vows, and the unrenounsable papal enclosure for all nuns. In adaptation to new requirements the rules on the enclosure were modified, namely, by the creation of the so-called little papal enclosure, which permitted a meeting of nuns and outsiders in an area of the enclosure that was intended for work directed to the outside. A high apostolic value was acknowledged in the very life of the nuns and definite works of apostolate were approved in so far as the constitutions provided. These documents also recommended the uniting of autonomous monasteries of nuns into federations so that they could give effective help to one another in this work of renewal.

Pius XII was very much concerned for a good formation of religious, especially of the Priests. On 31 May 1956 he published the apostolic constitution Sedes Saplentiae and it was followed on 7 July by general statutes of the congregation of Religious in the form of directives for its implementation. These documents treated not only the formation of the candidates, but attributed great importance to their education in pastoral theology as good shepherds of souls. One additional year devoted to pastoral introduction and practice and a sort of second novitiate were prescribed. In order to equip the orders of women the Congregation of Religious on 31 May 1955 erected the papal institute Regina Mundi at Rome with a three year course for sisters.

Liturgical reforms

            On the liturgy in 1947 Pius XII published an encyclical Mediator Dei. In this the pope explains the nature and purpose of liturgical services and encourages active participation in them by the faithful. He introduced some significant reforms, including the approval of numerous rituals with vernacular texts and songs, the introduction of a new translation of the psalms, but especially the renewal of the Holy Week and Easter Vigil liturgies. In Mediator Dei the pope made use of the keyword of “active and personal participation”. The liturgy is “the public worship which our redeemer, the Head of the church, gives to the heavenly Father and which the community of believers offers to its Founder and through him to the eternal Father… It displays the total public worship of the Mystical body of Jesus Christ, namely, the Head and his members”. The precept of the Eucharistic fast was greatly mitigated in 1953 and 1957 and thereby the way for the general permission for evening mass was opened. He permitted to use native languages for certain sacraments. The faithful were allowed to receive Holy Communion on Good Friday. Reading of epistle and gospel in the vernacular was permitted.

In 1928 pope Pius XI instituted the feast of Sacred Heart of Jesus by his encyclical Miserentissimus Redemptor. He also recommended the devotion to Sacred Heart of Jesus as a means of salvation in the encyclical Caritate Christi compulsi of 3 May 1932. Under Pius XII the devotion to Sacred Heart of Jesus reached a climax especially in regard to teleology. On 15 May 1956 he published encyclical Haurietis aquas which made clear that the devotion to the Sacred Heart “can look back to an advanced age in the church and has in the Gospels themselves a solid foundation, so that tradition and liturgy clearly favour it”. The reason for this cult which is distinguished as the most effective school of the love of God”, is twofold: the first consists in this, that Christ’s heart, “the noblest part of human nature, is hypostatically united with the person of the divine Word; hence to it must be paid the same worship of adoration by which the church honours the  person of the incarnate Son of God … The second reason results from this that his heart more than all other members of his body, is a natural indication or symbol of his unending love for the human race”.

Marian devotion: Pius XI and Pius XII promoted the Marian devotion. Appearances of Mary at Fatima in 1917, in the Belgian localities of Beauraing in 1932-33, and Banneux in 1933 obtained ecclesiastical approbation. At Fatima Mary demanded especially the praying of the rosary for the peace of the world, the consecration of Russia to her immaculate heart, and communion of reparation on the first Saturday of each month. Pius XII (ordained on 13 May 1917) regarded himself throughout his life as bound to the aims at Fatima in a special way. On 8 December 1942 he consecrated the entire human race to the immaculate Heart of Mary. On 7 July 1952 he dedicated all people of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. To spread the aims of Fatima there was established, at the urging of the Canadian bishop Dignan, a “Rosary Crusade”. In 1947 there arose in Vienna, under the Franciscans the Rosary Atonement Crusade.

The Legion of Mary founded by Frank Duff in Dublin in 1921 spread rapidly on all the continents. Then there appeared also the Militia of the Immaculate Conception founded in 1917 by Fr. Maximillian Kolbe (1894-1941), the Blue Army of Mar founded in 1947 by Harold von Colgan. Pius XII by his apostolic constitution Bis seculari of 1948 encouraged the lay apostolate of Marian congregations. In 1953 was founded the World Association of Marian Congregations. The Pallotines, the Schonetatt Movement by Joseph Kentenich (1885-1968), Marian sisters, Marian brothers, Schonstatt priests are the agents of the work

In 1931 Pius XI in the encyclical Ingravescentibus malis recommended rosary, with clear allusion to Fascism and communism, in view of the threatening world situation. A series of Marian feasts was introduced:

i. 1931 -feast of the maternity of the Bl. Virgin Mary on 11 October.

ii. 1944 -feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary on 22 Aug.

iii. 1954 -feast of Mary our Queen on 31 May.

The climax of the papal initiatives came with the proclamation of the dogma of the bodily Assumption of Mary into heaven on 1 November 1950. In the dogmatic bull Pius XII stated that Mary who was already a share in the full redemption, is a sign for the mankind, threatened in a secularistic world of materialism; mankind should recognize in Mary that human fulfillment is to be found only in God; it is to be hoped, said the pope, that through the contemplation of the glorious example of Mary there may grow ever stronger the insight into what high value human life has, when it is used to carry out the will of the heavenly Father and to act for the welfare of the fellow man. And it can also be … expected that the truth of Mary’s Assumption may show to all clearly to what noble end we are destined in body and soul. Finally faith in the bodily Assumption of Mary into heaven will strengthen faith also in our resurrection and lead to energetic activity” (Munificentissimus Deus).

There was a powerful increase of Marian literature and it reached its climax in the 1950s. Thus between 1948 and 1957 about one thousand titles per year appeared. The theologians treated Mary in the framework of the divine economy of salvation. Thus Mariology was seen in its relations to Christology, ecclesiology and eschatology.

Marian congresses were organized on regional, national and international levels. Further there were formed societies for Marian studies and in 1950 an international Marian Academy was founded. In France the Institut Catholique at Paris received a special chair for Mariology; at Rome Mariological Academy was made a papal academy by John XXIII on 8 December 1959. Pius XII declared Marian Years 1950, 1954, 1958 (centenary of Mary’s appearance at Lourdes).

Pius XII on 18 February 1946 named thirty two cardinals from all parts of the world. Then on 19 January 1953 he internationalized the College of Cardinals by promoting twenty-four cardinals. He canonized thirty-three saints including St. Pius X in 1954.

The encyclicals of Pius XII

Mystici Corporis Christi, 29 June 1943

Divino afflante Spiritu on Holy Scripture, 30 Sept.1943

Sacramentum Ordinis, on 30 November 1947, defined as the essence of the sacrament of orders the invocation of the Holy Spirit through the imposition of hands; the symbolic presentation of chalice and patent do not pertain to it.

Muniticentissimus Deus, on 1 Nov 1950, defined dogma of Assumption of Mary.

Sempiternus Rex, Sept. 1951

Haurietis aquas, 15 May 1956 on devotion to Sacred Heart.

Humani generis, 12 August 1950, accepted theological progress, but warned against the relativization of dogmas and the all too close accommodation to the trends of day

Sedes Sapientiae, 31 May 1956, extended the circle of theological departments of study in accord with the demands of modern pastoral work.

Numerous are the carefully prepared addresses of Pius XII. He spoke on human dignity, formation of conscience, marriage family, mass media, sacraments, ecumenical movement etc.

Mediator Dei, 20 Nov 1947, on liturgy

Christus Dominus, 6 Jan. 1953 on Eucharist.

Provida Mater Ecclesia, 2 Feb.1947, rules for secular institutes.

September 1956 -the first liturgical World congress at Assisi. The pope also issued new decrees on he conclave and the papal election: photographic and radio apparatus could not be brought in, and television speakers and writers could not be employed; one vote over the two thirds majority was needed to elect the pope ( Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis on 8 December 1945). In the constitution Episcopalis consecration is of 30 November 1944 he clarified the role of the two consecrators in Episcopal ordination; in the constitution Spiritus Sancti munera of 14 Aept.1, 1946 the priests were given authorization to administer the sacrament of confirmation in the territory of their parish, to the faithful who as a result of a serious illness are in danger of death. The motu proprio Sacram communionem of 19 March 1957 brought further mitigations of the Eucharistic fast and the extension of the faculty to permit evening mass. The premarital investigations were minutely regulated in 1941. The constitution Exsul Familia of 2 Aug 1952 introduced and exhaustive ordering of the pastoral care of refugees, exiles and emigrants.

Under Pius XII the codification of the canon law of the eastern churches reached its maturity. The following parts were promulgated; on 22 January 1949 the law of marriage; on 6 Jan. 1950 the law of trials, on 9 Feb.1952 the law of religious institutes and of property as well as the stipulating of specified concepts; on 2 June 1957 the constitutional law.

Neutrality of papacy in the world war

Reasons:-neutrality of Benedict XV

– The characteristic of Pius XII. He was a diplomat and an outspoken man of peace.

– The international law. In the Lateran treaty the Holy See had assumed the obligation of holding itself aloof from the properly political problems of international politics.

Pius XII preferred the term “impartiality”. He declared to the cardinal of Munich: “Neutrality could be understood in the sense of a passive indifference, which in a period of war such as this was unbecoming to the head of the church. Impartiality means for us judgment of things in accord with truth and Justice”. He declared that the church “does not have the function of intervening and taking sides in purely earthly affairs. She is a mother. Do not ask a mother to favour or to oppose the part of one or other of her children”.

Pius XII observed the policy of impartiality almost rigoristically. During the war he refrained with difficulty from any explicit condemnation of many aggression of the part of Germany, Italy, Soviet Union and other Allies. He was likewise careful to see that Vatican did not become entangled in any crusade propaganda of one of the warring sides. Even the term “communism” disappeared from the vocabulary of the Holy See.

The war made impossible the communication with the rest of the world. Mussolini withdrew the extraterritoriality of the papal buildings contrary to the Lateran Treaty. The curia continued to function in the Vatican itself. Though there were restrictions and limitations the central authority of the universal church could continue to operate essentially intact and keep contact with its nuncios and the bishops. During the German occupation of Rome in 1943 the pope managed to hidden the papal documents in his palace and microfilm photographs of others sent to Washington in order to save them.

Pius XII was without doubt was the most brilliant Pope. He appeared as the perfect Pontifex. In the most difficult days of war he stayed with his people and had been their single protector. Although he had three Germans in his immediate entourage -the Jesuits Robert Leiber and Augustine Bea, and Ludwig Kaas, the former leader of central party, and his housekeeper Sr. Pasqualina, he was far from favouring Germany or even of pursuing a pro-German policy. After the death of his secretary of state, Maglione, on 22 August 1944, he appointed no successor and governed in direct contact with the heads of the two departments of the secretariat of state, Montine and Tardini.

The pontificate of Pius XII was remarkable. The international prestige of papacy reached a new height under him. The administration of the church was vastly improved; its spiritual Life had grown richer. The homage paid to him on his 80th birthday (2 March 1956), and the deep and universal mourning at his passing proved his greatness. Pius X11 died at Castel Gondolfo on 9 October 1958.

Pope John XXIII (1956-1963)

Angelo Giuseppe Cardinal Roncalli, patriarch of Venice was elected pope on 26 October 1958 after a brief conclave (25-28 Oct). Roncalli was born in Sotto il Montel province of Bergamo) on 25 November 1861, the fourth of fourteen children of the farmer Battista (d.1935) and his wife Marianna Mazzola (d.1939). After attending the minor and major seminaries at Bergamo from 1892 to 1900, he continued his theological studies at the Roman Seminary of Sant’Apollinare from 1901 to 1905, interrupted by one year of military service at Bergamo,”un vero purgatorio” as he wrote to the rector of the seminary. From his professor of church history Benigni, he received the advice “Read little but well”. He took a doctorate in theology on 13 July 1904 and was ordained priest on 10 August 1904. In 1905 he was appointed secretary to the bishop of Bergamo and from October 1906 he also lectured on church history in the seminary and later on petrology and apologetics and edited the ecclesiastical journal La vita diocesana. He also began editing the visitation documents of St. Charles Borromeo. After the death of his bishop Radini Tedeschi, he wrote his biography (1914). During the world war he served as a military chaplain (1915-18). Then he served as the spiritual director of the seminary (1918 20). Then he went to Rome for four years as president of the Italian work of the Propagation of the Faith. On 3 March 1925 he became apostolic visitor in Bulgaria and on 19 March was ordained as titular archbishop of Areopolis and as his motto he selected “obedientia dt pax”, Baronius’s motto.

Roncalli’s stay at Sofia was not so easy. It was a period of “acute, intime sofferense”. After ten years he was, on 24 Nov. 1934, named apostolic delegate in Turkey and Greece and at the same time administrator of the vicariate apostolic of Istanbul. This activity satisfied him: “I feel young in body and mind” he wrote in 1939 in his spiritual diary. On 27 May 1939 he visited the ecumenical patriarch.

On 22 December 1944 Roncalli was made nuncio to France. He was made cardinal on 12 January 1953 and three days later named patriarch of Venice. When he was elected pope at 78, the people thought that he would be a papa il passagio. In fact, he became a pope of aggionrnamento.

Personality of John XXIII

John XXIII had a different temperament and experience of life unlike his predecessor. His temperament was to rejoice in the good and to be slow to rebuke. His experience of life-Sotto il Monte, Bulgaria, Istanbul, Paris -had led him to accept the world as it is and to recognize and try to build upon the good in all men both inside and outside the church. It was his experience among the non-Catholics that nurtured within him the seeds of a new ecumenical attitude which ultimately found expression in the decrees of Vatican Il.

Pope John’s motto was obedientia et pax. He believed in the strict observance of law and his temperament was conservative. This is seen in his life especially in liturgical discipline etc. But he wanted certainly a renewal of the life of the church and especially a new approach on the part of the church to the world outside. But he did not look to any relaxation of the inner discipline of the catholic life.

There is a great intellectual difference between John XXIII and his predecessors. John did not attach much importance to differences of philosophy. When his predecessors had seen implacable the liberals and the communists, whose philosophy, if tolerated, must subvert the church, John XXIII was more inclined to see men and women, of greater or less good will, in error, certainly, but an error which contact might help to correct, or at, least would not tend to harden, as would ostracism and estrangement.

            John’s spirituality was thoroughly traditionally catholic. He frequently read The Imitation of Christ and regularly made the Ignatian exercises. He recited rosary daily, breviary, mass, a half hour’s meditation, weekly confession. His spiritual models were Francis de Sales and Philip Neri and as a pastor, Charles Borromeo. He lived a simple life. I am one of you, he said to the faithful of a Roman suburban community. He himself wanted “to be born poor and to die poor”.

Though John served the Roman curia for a long time, he was no “curialist” but constantly desired to be only a “good shepherd”. On I August 1959 he published an encyclical on the Cur d’Ars, imago sacerdotis.

John XXIII, Pope of “aggiornomento

Aggiornomento means bringing up-to-date. It was an attempt to ensure that the church was fully and sympathetically aware of the changing character of the contemporary world. Pope John disagreed with the attitude of the curia that the world was going further and further astray. In his encyclical Mater et Magistra he made it clear. The world, he insisted, gave great cause of encouragement and hope. The movements among the emergent people of Africa and Asia, for example, for natural independence, were to be welcomed. The wind of change was a wind that brought life. It was colonization that was wrong. It was the duty of the wealthiest nations to assist the poorer, helping them to win their political and economic independence, and moreover, to do so without imposing their own cultural ideas or setting up a new economic control over them. Once the church allowed herself to become identified with the ruling political power, when the ruling power was overthrown, she had to suffer the same fate.

In his programme of aggiornamento pope John was not departing from the teaching of his predecessors, but rather he was building upon the foundation they had laid, bringing their teaching up-to-date in the light of modern developments.

Pope John was more revolutionary that he cared to admit it. This is evident in matters social and political and in his determination to enter into fruitful dialogue with other christians. For him it was high time to recognize the Orthodox and the Protestants not as schismatics or heretics but as fellow workers in the vineyard of the Lord, He was very font of repeating the prayer of the Lord “ut unum sint”. This now attitude or approach was a part of the teaching of the church. It was a turning of the attention of the Catholics towards something that had been neglected. There had been a tendency to warn and censure, but” Pope John’s tendency was to encourage and pursue it dwelling on the positive side.

From his experience pope John understood that the work of renewal must be   begun within the church. He knows that the development of the church was being impeded by over-centralized and ultra-cautious control from the Roman curia. The solution for this -to enable the church to find her own voice- was a general council according to Pope John. “He was a man sent from God whose name was John” (Pat. Athanagoras of Constantinople about Pope John).

Pope John XXIII and Vatican II

The convoking of the II Vatican council was the action of Pope John XXIII. In the presence of the cardinals on 25 January 1959 he announced a Roman diocesan synod and an ecumenical council. He understood the council as the challenge of God, divinum incitamentum, but not in no way was it the implementation of a long prepared plan. There is no evidence that he resumed the project of a general council pondered by Pius XII. He wanted to carray out the will of God to follow the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Pope John intended to convoke a general council of the Catholic Church, but from the start he expressed his desire for the particlization of the Christians separated from Rome as a first step toward church unity. On the basis of the suggestions collected from the whole catholic world, the pope by his motu proprio Superno Dei nutu of 5 June 1960 introduced the proximate preparation of the council. It determined for the first time the name of the future council: The Second Vatican Council. Then ten preparatory commissions were formed to work out the draft of decrees to be laid before the council.

1. Theological commission -Holy Office

2. The commission for bishops and the governments of dioceses -consistorial congregation

3. The commission for the discipline of clergy and the Christian people -congregation of the council

4. The commission for the discipline of the sacraments

5. The commission for ecclesiastical studies and seminaries

6. The commission for sacred liturgy

7. The commission for the Eastern churches

6. The commission for the Missions

9. The commission for the Apostolate of the laity

After the preparatory work the council was opened on 11 October 1962. 2540 council fathers with the right to vote took part in it. The opening ceremony was very solemn. In his opening talk the pope repeated the conviction that the summoning of the council followed an inspiration from above and to bring to mankind the sacred wealth of tradition in the most effective way, with regard for changed conditions of life and social structures, not to condemn errors but fully to declare the strength of church’s life. This two main aims of the council were: an aggiornamento of the church and the unity of the Christians.

            The events of the first session of the council made it clear that there existed a conservative group of bishops and a progressive majority of bishops.  The first session was also significant. 1. It was the first time that so vast an assembly of bishops from all over the world gathered together (they numbered 2540, Africa- 296, Latin America -600, Far East -100t U.S.A.- 217 etc. 2. The meeting together of these bishops was an event of unique significance. They have faith in common, but had enormous differences of experiences and ideas. What they decide, is going to affect the direction of each policy everywhere. The fathers of the council could acquire a different perspective about Church’s attitude towards the schematics, Protestants and the Communists. The so-called schematics and the Protestants were seen occupying the best seats in St. Peter’s and were provided with the council’s agenda papers. They were received with every mark of respect and affection by Pope John at Vatican. They were pope’s friends.

Many council fathers encountered a twofold challenge. The first one was a challenge to their traditional habit of difference towards the curia, the second a challenge to their traditional attitude towards the enemies of the church. They were invited to think afresh about their own responsibilities which given to them by God, and not by the Vatican. Schemas on liturgy, sources of revelation, communication, christian unity, nature of the church were discussed, but no conclusion was taken on them. In these circumstances the first session was closed on 8 December 1962. Pope exhorted the Fathers to work hard during the interval.

Pope John could not see his brother bishops again when they assembled. The six months after the first session he was fully preoccupied with the urgency of seeking after peace. The dangerous confrontation between America and Russia over Cuba disturbed the peace of the world. Pope John’s passionate appeals for peace had impressed the world. In March 1963 the Balzan peace prize was awarded to him. Soviet representatives were present there. Some of the bishops behind the iron curtain were released. In April 1963 John issued his most famous encyclical Pacem in terris – in which he extended his appeal for peace on earth to all men of good will. It insisted in clear tones, upon the right to religious freedom of all men of upright conscience, It encouraged Catholics to work together with all men of good will for the good of the mankind.

Pope John died on 3 June 1963 offering up his severe final sufferings to obtain abundant blessing for the ecumenical council, for the holy church and for the mankind as whole which yearns for peace.  The whole world loved his transparent goodness.

Paul VI (1963-1978)

The cardinals assembled on 19 June 1963 to elect Pope John’s successor. On the 6th ballot they elected Cardinal Giovanni Battista Montini, archbishop of Milan who assumed the name Paul VI. The Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano observed that Paul VI is “a symbol of ecumenical unity”.

Montini was born on 26 September 1897 at Brescia, Italy. He was ordained priest on 29 May 1920. He was created cardinal on 5 December 1958. He had spent most of his time in Rome. He was in the secretariat of State from 1924-1954. In 1954 he was appointed archbishop of Milan. In that large industrial centre Montini had his first experience of diocesan work. He vigourously undertook a renewal of his archdiocese. He was known for his patient intelligent and a sympathetic work at the Vatican. He was also a strong supporter of Pope John’s intention to summon a general council.

            Pope Paul VI opened the second session of the council on 29 September 1963. He showed a keen interest in the work of the council. The constitution on sacred liturgy was promulgated (4 Dec.63) in this session. It led to the adoption of the vernacular in the Mass, its deeper purpose was no less than to remodel the prayer of the church. The constitution had chapters on:

1. General principles for the restoration and promotion of S.L.

2. The most sacred mystery of the Eucharist.

3. The other sacraments and sacramentals.

4. The divine office.

5. The liturgical year.

6. Sacred music.

7. Sacred art.

            In an essay in response to the Const. on Sacred Liturgy, Prof. Jaroslav J. Pelican of York University says: If the constitution can be translated into action creatively and imaginatively- and that still remains to be seen- it will indeed, as the council Fathers hope, “contribute to the unity of all who believe Christ”. The second session ended on 8 December 1963.

The third session started on 14 September 1964. It passed and promulgated the important document of Vatican II: the constitution on the Church, the decrees on Ecumenism and the Eastern Catholic Churches. It also discussed the documents on religious freedom, the Jews, lay apostolate and the Church in the modern world. The constitution on the Church is considered the most important work of Vatican II. Its purpose is “to unfold more fully to the faithful of the church and to the whole world its own inner nature and universal mission”. It has eight chapters:

1. The mystery of the Church.

2. The people of God.

3. The hierarchical structure of the church with special reference to the episcopate- collegiality.

4. The laity.

5. The call of the whole church to holiness.

6. The religious.

7. The eschatological nature of the pilgrim church and her union with the heavenly church.

8. The role of the Bl. Virgin Mary, Mother of God, in the mystery of Christ and the church.

The principle of Episcopal collegiality has not in any way diminished the authority of the pope. This college of bishops exists only when the pope is present as its head. This principle has already led to the setting up of national Episcopal conferences. Pope promised to convoke an Episcopal synod to meet at R me and to advise him on policy. Accordingly given bishops’ synods were convoked by Paul VI.

1. 1967 -on the present danger of faith, Canon Law, Seminary, mixed marriage, liturgy.

2.1969 -on Holy See and Episcopal conferences.

3.1971 -on ministerial priesthood, justice in the modern world

4.1974 -on Evangelization.

5.1977 -on Catechism.

The fourth session of the council started on 14 September 1965. The constitution on the Church in the modern world emerged during this session. It reflected the mind of John XXIII. It looked however tentatively, to a new and more positive relationship between the church and the contemporary society and it promised the establishment of an organization to promote the study by Catholics of the special problems of the underdeveloped countries. The matter of birth control was not touched and it was decided to entrust it to a special committee.

The pope and most of the bishops wanted to conclude the council with the fourth session. So the procedures were accelerated and on 8 December 1965 the council was dispersed.

Pope Paul VI had two things to say about the council after its close: 1. He disapproved the attitude of those who wanted to go back to their old ways of doing the religious and moral habits. He also disapproved the attitude of those who wanted to continue to bring into perpetual discussions truths and laws already clarified and established. He says: the true task is to study, understand and apply the councils work. 2. The conciliar renewal was to be measured not so much by the changes in outward usages and rules as but by a shaking off of habits of inertia and an opening of the heart to the truly Christian spirit. The conversion of the heart was what counted.

The pontificate of Pope Paul and the period of Vatican II witnessed a revolution in the life of the church. During these years the whole approach of the Catholics to the vital questions affecting the church changed. A new ecumenical attitude was formed. A new secretariat for Christian unity was set up for this end in view. Pope John was concerned to encourage rather than to condemn. Pope Paul followed the same policy.

The Church after Vatican II

The results of Vatican II are:

1. Great increase of open-mindedness

2. Some sober self-criticism.

3. A new enthusiasm for discussion

4. An enthusiasm for joint action with its own members and other people

5. A new sense of political responsibility-a tolerance and sympathy for political option.

The post conciliar Church has undergone a crisis of authority. The renewal has worked tension and impatience as well as enthusiasm. There is a division between the traditionalist and reformist elements. This is confirmed by Pope Paul’s teaching on birth control, celibacy, his approach to ecumenical movement. Catholic Church is still not a member of the World Council of Churches.

In 1969 a group of leading theologians published in Concilium a declaration that “the freedom of theologians and theology in the service the church regained by Vatican II” must not be lost again”. In the same year cardinal Suenens called for a reappraisal of authority at All levels (in co-responsibility in the church). Paul responded that the attacks on the curia were tantamount to attacks on himself. There are important contributions to the catholic theology on the nature and structure of the church: The Church (1967), Infallible? An enquiry (1971), Fallible? A balance sheet (1972) – Hans Kung, Structural change in the Church (1972) -Karl Rahner.

The papal rulings on birth control and celibacy were issues of major importance. The Humanae Vitae in 1968 provoked a major crisis. The encyclical condemned all forms of contraception except the rythm method on the ground that they were contrary to natural law. The reaction ranged from protest to disappointment.  “It might provoke scandal or even revolt or laughter” (French Jesuit). The pope has won the applause of the future (Spain). There were demonstrations in USA. In Western Europe many priests advised the faithful to practice contraception where in conscience they felt it was right.

The celibacy encyclical sacerdotaliscaelibatus (1967) caused considerable tension within the church. In France and Holland priests left the ministry and many clergy openly disagreed with the ruling. A survey of priests in the USA suggested that the majority were against compulsory celibacy and expected a change in the law. In Italy 40 percent hoped for relaxation of the rule and 15 per cent might marry if allowed to. In 1970 the Dutch pastoral council voted for abolition of the rule. In 1971 the National Federation of priests’ council in the USA voted in favour of abolition. The Congolese bishops and a meeting of European priests in Geneva supported the ordination of married men. The Latin American Bishops’ council called for an abolition of the rule. But pope criticized his opponents for “the moral mediocrity by which they pretend it is natural and logical to break a long premeditated promise”.

Peace efforts of Paul VI

Paul VI made repeated pleas for an ending of the American bombing in Vietnam. He conferred with the leaders of USA, Vietnam, Russia and China. He offered prayers for the peaceful settlements in Northern Ireland and Middle East.

According to Paul VI peace can be achieved only through justice. The elimination of hunger and misery must be the first step towards bringing Christian values and social justice to the developing world. In 1966 he set up a Vatican agency to fight world poverty and 1967 he devoted a major encyclical Populorum Progressio to the welfare of the developing nations. He visited Latin America Africa, Far East and Australia.

In some of countries the church’s work of justice has been handicapped by ultra conservative factions in the hierarchies. In Brasil in 1970 the government accused the bishop of Volta Radonda of subversion activities. When Rome protested the government retaliated by threatening to take actions against archbishop Holder Camera who had recently returned from Europe on ground that he had defamed Brazil. As a result cardinal Rossi stated that “one can not attribute to the government responsibility for isolated acts of torture”. In 1971 he was removed from his post and given a Roman curial appointment. It was a sign that Paul VI disapproved his action -support to the government. In 1969 the hierarchies of Brazil, Peru and Argentina denounced their governments. Fr. Camillo Torres, a revolutionary guerrilla priest said “the only true christian is a revolutionary”. He became a secular martyr. In South Africa the church kept silence about the oppression of the black community.

            Latin America has also originated the major new theology of the decade -the theology of liberation founded by Gustavo Gutierriez. The theology of liberation attempts to reflect on the experience and meaning of the faith based on the commitment to abolish injustice and to build a new society; this theology must be verified by the practice of that commitment, by active effective participation in the struggle which the exploited social classes have undertaken against their oppressors.

            In Spain , too, there are signs that the church is aligning itself with the oppressed. In 1966 a group of Spanish priests accused the hierarchy of compromising with the regime and demanded the implementation of the council’s decrees on religious and political liberty. In 1968 Basque priests were goaled for taking part in May Day demonstrations and in 1970 the bishops called for freedom of assembly and for representative trade unions.

In Rhodesia the bishops’ pastoral “Crisis in conscience” (1970) openly defied the government. They said: “we can not in consideration and will not in practice accept any limitation on our freedom to deal with all people irrespective of race, as members of the one human family”. In South Africa individual Catholics condemned the situation, but the hierarchy kept silence. In USA the priests were gaoled for their opposition to Vietnam War in 1970. In 1972-73 the missionaries revealed to the world the massacre techniques of Portuguese colonialism in Africa.

The catholic approach to ecumenical movement has been cautious. In 1969 Paul VI attended the world council of churches in Geneva. He spoke of it “as a truly blessed encounter, a prophetic movement, dawn of a day to come and yet waited for centuries. In 1967 Paul VI met patriarch Athanagoras, in 1968 archbishop Makarios. Catholic observers attended the World council of Churches in Uppsala. The Christian churches agreed to a mutual recognition of baptism and the catholic ruling on mixed marriages has been relaxed.

The publications of common Bible (1973), first Protestant Catholic Catechism (1975) are important steps in the ecumenical movement. A major contribution to it has been the reform of the liturgy. Simplified vernacular rites have been introduced with a new emphasis on participation and understanding. In the celebration of the Eucharist importance is given to a sense of community and fellowship.

Adult catechism has been given importance and there has been a movement for concretization of the underprivileged masses in Latin America which owes much to the new catholic social awareness. The number of the vocations to the priesthood and to the religious life has fallen, but catholics are expected to be more conscious of the social implications of their faith, and to practice their responsibility. One of the major secular watchwords of the age, ­“truth is concrete”- has been seen in its religious reference too. What looks like a serious crisis may “mark the moment of a new life … for identity consists only on its variability, its continuity only in changing circumstances its permanence in varying outward appearances” (Hans Kung).

Ancient Church History

Ancient Church History

Fr Thomas Pallippurathukunnel

i. Definition of history

Aristotle: it is an account of the unchanging past.

Thomas Carlyle It is nothing but the biography of great man.

Voltaire:a picture of crimes and misfortunes,

Beccario:(18th c.) That nation is happiest which is without history.

These definitions either represent a complex picture or a distorted picture.  But a simple definition is that that history is the study of a past. It is the story of mankind depicting what had, happened, why they had happened and the principles, which governed these happenings.  It is the study of events in men’s struggle for progress. 

ii. The characteristics of history

1. History is humanistic. It is fundamentally concerned with human actions.

2. What is important in history is event. Historian has nothing to do with assumption (something, which did not happen).

3. History is concerned with change.  Historians are concerned with change, when, how and why changes take place. 

4. History is time and Place oriented.  Events are noted with reference to date and place.

5. History is scientific.  History is based not only, upon enquiry into evidences of events but also upon a rational analysis of data.

6. History is an independent branch of study.  It; is self-explanatory, for it exists of its own, reflecting upon the human experiences in the past and prompting a better understanding of the present.

iii. The scope and. purpose of history

                 The scope and purpose of history have been looked upon differently from historian to historian and from age to age.  The most satisfactory definition of the purpose of the history is that of Arnold Tonnbee’s.   It is, a search for “light on the nature and destiny of man.  History is any, integrated narrative, description or’ analysis of past events or facts written in a spirit of critical inquiry for, the whole truth).

  1. During the Age of the classical civilization of Greece and Rome, a scientific purpose was imparted to history. It was looked upon as a branch of study m based upon enquiry and analysis.
  2. The medieval Church restricted the purpose of history to the explanation of how the divine will expressed itself in the human actions
  3. In the modern times it was treated as a study of all changes that had taken place in the universe.

Individual historians have given importance to one particular aspect or other of history.

1. Herodotus and Thucydides gave importance to truth and their connection between causes and consequences.

2. Freeman laid emphasis upon the political aspect of history.

3. Karl Marx laid emphasis upon economic factors.

4. Traumas Carlyle: upon the role, of great men.

            All these are interlinked.  So in a limited sense it is a political history, military history and the like. In a broad sense, it is history of the universe, comprising the diverse facets and trends.

iv. History is a Science and an Art

History is a science.  Like science it began to recognize the importance of truth and systematized knowledge.  It is an art for it attempts a realistic interpretation of events and imparts knowledge of intellectual utility.

Certain attributes of history are scientific in character.

i. Like science it deals with nature, for man, the subject of all historical studies, is the greatest work of nature.

ii. History employs scientific method of investigation and aims at the attainment of truth.

iii. History is a social science discussing social relations.  It deals with the conditions of mankind living in social state; it seeks to discover general laws, which governs these conditions and which bring about such developments like progress or decay of civilization or fall of states.

History is not experimental, but science is experimental. History deals with the events that had happened and cannot be repeated.  It is not subject to experimentation.  Science deals with visible objects like leaf, rock light etc.  In science the importance is the observation of laws of regularities. Scientists can forecast and eclipse, but the historian cannot predict famine and war.

Method of science is inductive of history is deductive. In science general propositions are derived from practical cases eg. When heat is applied iron expands. In historical process many developments are analyzed and particular conclusions are arrived at.  Eg. Inefficiency of administration an empire had declined. 

History is an art. Like art it is concerned with hum values. The task of historian is reconstruction of the past.  He comes across distorted versions, incomplete balance, and sympathy of an artist so that he can do justice to his theme of study.

History is of intellectual utility. For an understanding of the problems of present day, politicians administrators and diplomats seek explanation from pages of history. Though history cannot predict the future the conclusions it furnishes are used for ‘Practical guidance.

History is an art as well as a science. It is an art in regard to the subject of treatment, method of composition and. intellectual utility.  It is a scientific method of enquiry and, seeks to find out the truths.

V. The uses of history

The uses of history are almost endless. It may be read for hundred reasons, eg. for amusement, etc. To understand its more important values, we must approach it on an elevated level, and measure it not in relation to individuals but to societies and nation. It is actually a bridge connecting the past with present and pointing the road to the future.  It more than a guide for men in their daily life; it is a creator of future. The conception which men have of their record in generations past shape their dreams and ambition for the generation to come.  eg. The new. Italy, of which Mussolini dreamed, was partly a reincarnation of Rome of Caesars.

History is a maker of nations.  To give a people a full sense of their future we need first the historians who give them a full sense of their past, eg. Cooper’s historica1 romance “The Spy” helped immeasurably in making America a nation.

History is ‘a continuing inspirits.  It tends to make each individual a sharer in the great deeds, ideas and movements of his ancestors or forerunners.

To sum up it reflects the thought over centuries which had forgotten. It helps to understand the human behaviour and serves as guide for the study of human conduct. It enables to understand the present in order to prepare himself to face the problems of future.

           George Santayana: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.   The beauty of the cities ‘and the magnificence of the monuments are better appreciated when the stones behind them are known. 

Lord Acton: “the prize of all a history is the understanding of modern times, for history explains the present in the light of the past by indicating the ideals and forces which are at work around us.”

                    John Seeley: “when we learn history, we do not learn the past, but the future.”

VI. The limitations of history

  1. The history of mankind is not complete
  2. All history is not really authentic (based accounts)
  3. Those who are interested in the study of history are limited.  So no wide popularity as some other sciences
  4. People are not habituated to drawing lessons from history.  Hegel says: the one thing one learns from history is that nobody ever learns anything from history.
  5. History does not repeat  No two events are alike

VII. Intellectual and educative value of History

1. 1t teaches us by examples of times and men,   the wisdom that had been acquired through the ages

2. It furnishes examples of great men who faced challenges and attained –success ultimately, eg Europeans to discover the remote lands. 

3. It serves as introduction to other branches of study.  Eg. To biography, politics, etc. 

VIII. Kinds of history

            The history can be divided:

1. Chronologically, prehistoric, historic.  And historic can be ancient, medieval and modern.  

2. Based on the events political, cultural, etc.

IX. History and allied subjects

            Geography, politics, economics, sociology, biography, etc.



                                                        CHURCH HISTORY



About 2000 years ago Jesus Christ was put to death on a cross in a small and obscure Roman province of Judea.  Today in the twentieth century faith in the risen Christ has grown to   become the faith of nearly a thousand million people

How does this belief in Jesus Christ become a worldwide faith? How has it outlived the mighty Roman Empire? And also the other European emperors? How did the Christian churches, denominations, movements, doctrines and beliefs we know today come into being? How has the faith in Jesus been passed on from generation to generation and from country to country? These are the questions which are answered in the Church History.

            Church History treats of the growth in time and space of the church founded by Jesus Christ. Vincent of Lerins compared the growth of the Church with that of the human body and of the seed which is sown. Here the growth involves no injury to its peculiar qualities nor alteration of its being.  As the grain of wheat germinates, sprouts and produces  corn, yet remains wheat,  so the church manifests herself  in changing forms during the course  of history,  but remains  always true to herself  The noticeable features of this growth are the following:

1  The ability of the christian faith periodically to reform and renew itself  Christianity has an inexhaustible capacity to revive after periods of stagnation or decay

2.  A tremendous impulse to evangelize – to share with others the good news of forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ, eg.  Monastic enterprises, sermons, missionary societies, social services etc.

3.  An ability of faith to respond to different pressures and to various threats to its existence – Christianity has been able to adjust to changing historical and cultural situation without altering the essentials of its message, eg. Fierce persecution has led to the purifying of the faithful.  Heresy and aberrations have led to the clarifications of beliefs


 Church History is a theological discipline because its subject matter is derived from and rooted in faith  And in this respect it differs from  a history of Christianity. Its  theological point of departure refers to::

1. The Church’s divine origin through Jesus Christ

2. The hierarchical and sacramental order founded by Christ

3. The promised assistance of the Holy Spirit

4. The eschatological consummation at the end of the world. 

These are the essential elements in which the essential identity of the church consists, i.e., her continuity in spite of changing outward forms.

The historical character of the Church rests ultimately on the Incarnation of the Word and its entry into the human history.  It rests above all on the fact that Christ willed His Church to be a society of human beings- people of God- under the leadership of men- Apostles (papacy and episcopate)  Thus the Church depends on human actions and weakness.  But the Holy Spirit preserves her from error and maintains holiness within her.  It is testified by the miracles.  And it is in the cooperation of these divine and human factors in time and space that Church History has its origin.

The beginning and end of Church History rest on a theological basis.  It begins with the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and ends with the second coming of Christ.  Therefore, Church History is the manifestations of the Church within this period.  These manifestations can be:

1. external- spread of the Church  and her relations with various states, non-christians etc

2. internal – developments and establishing of dogmas in the struggles against heresy,  the proclamation of faith by preaching of the Word,  fulfilling of her sacramental nature by the celebration of liturgy and administration of sacraments etc.

The relevance of Church History.  Church History is the understanding of the Church and therefore an integral part of Ecclesiology.  One who studies the growth of the Church in the light of faith enters into her divine and human nature and understands her as she is not as she might be.  He learns to know the laws by which she lives and gains a clear view of her from within.  He feels with the Church.  Then he will stand fast in every crisis.  For this a strictly scientific investigation and impartial presentation of facts are required.  From this the church historian can and must draw conclusions  which will be important for the understanding of the present day and modern problems.  For eg. the history of the councils throws light upon the present councils. Church History also makes clear the original meaning of ecclesiastical institutions and opens the eyes to the need for reform in the Church.  J. A. Mohler says: “We can not understand the Church at the present day if we have not first understood the whole of the Christian  past”.

Ecclesiastical historian must have a love of history.  He must bring to his task a christian feeling and christian faith and spirit.  He must have the faith to explain it.  Thus he becomes the interpreter of the working of the Holy Spirit upon earth.  In his search for truth he has to judge impartially men and events

            The division of Church History cannot be based on the divine plan of salvation, because its details are not known to us, though we have the outlines of Revelation.  It cannot be based on the relationship between the Church and her milieu, for the Church is not identified with any civilization.  Therefore, any division into periods must take into consideration this truth – the inward and outward growth of the Church, brought about by the Holy Spirit in cooperation with human free will,  is achieved by her constantly coming to terms with civilization.  In her spreading, in her penetration of mankind and civilization, people and societies, the Church makes use of the historical circumstances and adapts herself  to them.  Therefore, Church History is something midway between universal history and history of salvation

A universally accepted division was not yet found.  The usual three fold division is this: 1. Ancient – Pentecost -692 (Trullo); 2. The Middle Ages 692 – 1517 (Lateran V); 3. Modern/Contemporary 1517 – present day.

The method of Church History

The Church History makes use of historical method.  Sometimes the tension between faith and historical fact may confront the ecclesiastical historian with difficult decisions.  Here he should be honest (scientific honesty) because church history is both theology and historical science.  The application of the historical method is to be carried in different stages.

First church history is bound by its sources.  Therefore one has to search out the sources, test for genuiness, and establish the dates and facts which form the framework of all history.

Secondly church history must be presented not as a series of unconnected events but as a process.  Events must be seen in their causes and consequences. Here the facts are grouped together based on the judgment of values, eg.  Golden Age, Reform.

In the third stage Church History as a whole can be understood only as the history of salvation.  Its ultimate meaning can be understood only by the eye of faith.  It is the abiding presence of Logos in the world and the fulfillment, in the people of God, of Christ’s community in which ministry and grace work together.  It is the Growth of the body of Christ.

Church History is also called the theology of Cross, because the growth of the church is sometimes hindered by internal or external causes, i. e., she suffers sickness, failures of men, persecution, etc.  The church is in constant renewal, simper reformanda.  She has only a provisional character and awaits perfection at Paruosia

The Evolution of Church History: The writings of Church History

The historian Altaner says: “the sense of history, which was comparatively active when the gospels and Acts of the Apostles described the work of Christ and His Apostles, remained almost without expression in the period when the church was developing out Christ’s revelation and was acquiring its historical character in the midst of struggles and persecutions”.

            In the early Apostolic period we have the genuine and ancient Acts of Martyrs: eg. Martyrium Polycarpi, The Acts of Justine the martyr, The Acts of Scillitani etc

            Then we have the Apology of Hegesippus and Ireneus.  Later we have the World Chronicle of Sexus Julius Africanus (+240), Hippolitus of Rome (+235).  In 303 Eusebius of Caesarea published the World Chronicle which set the pattern of the type of Christian historiography for more than a thousand years.

            Eusebius of’ Caesarea (260 339) is the Eather of Church History.  In 324 he published his Ecclesiastical History (Gk) in ten volumes.  It is a precious document of the ancient church.  In this he describes in chronological order:

I – III Books: the activities of Christ,   the Apostles and of the post apostolic Period.

IV – VII contain lists of bishops of the apostolic churches of Rome Antioch and Jerusalem, an account of the heresies, of great ecclesiastical writers, and of persecutions by Jews and the pagans.

VIII – IX are devoted to the “Persecutions of our days”.

X – is devoted to the victory of Christianity under Constantine.  It has also a supplementary account of the martyrs of Palestine and the laudatory life of Constantine by the same author.

            Eusebius’ work is the important historical source for the first three centuries.  He was followed by three or four historians who all treat more or less of a common period.

1. Socrates (+439). He was a lawyer of Constantinople and he grouped the ecclesiastical events of the years from 305 to 439.  He is more impartial, less involved in theological conflicts.

2. Sozomen (+425)  also a lawyer.  He was superior in literary skill.  He presented the events in the period from 324 to 425.

3. Theodore of Cyrus was a versatile writer. He described events perceptively and vividly of the years 323 -428. He included many synodal decisions and letters and other documents. He is sometimes inexact in his chronology.

4. Evagrius Scholasticus (+600). He published ecclesiastical History. In it he re1ated the Christological disputes of the period 432 544.

In the Western Church Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius was translated in 400 by Rufinus of Aquilea, who added two move books. Historia Tripqrtia was the translation of the three successors of Busebius. In 392 Jerome published the first catalogue of christian writers, comprising 135 names. In the fourth century Epiphanius made also a list of bishops.

De Civitate Dei of St. Augustine is a kind of philosophy of history. His conception of history as a struggle between the kingdom of God and that of the world strongly influenced the political ideology of the Middle Ages.

            In the middle ages we do not find any history worthwhile. Yet a few names could be mentioned.

Anastasius +879

Vincent of Beauvais + 1264 – Speculum Historiae, a part of his great medieval encyclopedia ‘Speculum Triplex’.

St. Antonine +1459 Summa Historialis

            In the second part of 15th century onwards there arose a critical sense and return to the sources of things. The invention of printing press gave historical studies a new impulse.

During the Protestant Revolution Church History became an important battlefield of apologetics. There were abuses on both sides.

The Lutherans at Magdeburg published Ecclesiastica Historia (1559 1574) in 13 volumes, one for each of the first thirteen centuries. This work is commonly known as Magdeburg Centuries. Though it abounds in documents, it is strongly anti-Catholic and antipapal. In reaction to this, Cardinal Caesar Baronius (1588 1607) wrote “Annales Ecelesiastici” in 12 volumes up to 12th century Innocent III annals = narration of events year by year.

In 17th century we see a critical sense in the study of sources. The Benedictines of St. Maur edited the Patristic work. The Jesuits on their part began to publish Acta Sanctorum of the Bollandists in 1643. During this period Valuable works were published in Italy and France. For example, “Memories pour server a 1 Histoire Ecclesiastique” (16 vols. 1693­1712, Paris), “Histoire des Empereurs”, (6 vols,1690­1738, Paria).

In 19th century valuable historical works were produced in Germany:

Protestants: Neander, Baur, Herzog, Adolf von Harnack (+1930) Heussi – Kompendium der Kirchengeschichte. Schaff Philip – History of the Christian Churches, 7 vols, N.Y. 1889 -1892.

Catholics: F.L. Von Stolberg – 15 vols. upto 433

                                       Von Kera added 30 vols. upto 12th c.

                                       Brischer added 8 vols. 50 years

                                       Mohler, Hefle of Tubingen

                                       Von Pastor History of the popes 40 vols, 1906 – 53.

Jesus Christ and the world at His birth

By the birth of Jesus Christ human history received an entirely new orientation. The whole history is divided into before Christ (B.C.) and after Christ (A.D.). When we consider the events after the birth of Christ we are tempted to ask certain questions:

1. Why did Christ select this particular moment to come incarnate into this world?

2. What was the world like at the time of His birth?

3. What was the relationship between His life and message and the religious experiences of His contemporaries?

When St. Paul wrote: “the Saviour came in the fullness of time” (Gal 4, 4.) he answered to some of these questions. By this he means that all history prior to the Incarnation was merely God’s plan of preparation for the birth of His Son. It also means that there were certain positive and negative elements which were propitious for the foundation and spread of Christianity.

There were three worlds or cultures at the time of Christ’s birth:

1. The Roman world which represented the political factor.

2. The Greek world represented the intellectual factor.

3. The Jewish world represented the religious factor.

1. The Roman world.

            The Roman Empire extended from Syria to Atlantics, from English Channel and Danube to the sands of Sahara. It had a political supremacy and was well organized under Augustus Octavian. Octavian ended the civil war with his victory at Actium in 31 B.C. He inaugurated the “Pax Romana” from 31 BC to 180 AD. During this period Roman Empire enjoyed its longest period of domestic peace and high level of prosperity. But there were drawbacks: misery slavery brutality etc. no charity, no sense of social obligation.

2. The Greek world

Greece dominated in the intellectual sphere. As a result of the conquest of Alexander the great, Greek culture influenced other cultures of Egypt, Palestine, Syria and Asia Minor. Greek became the language of the educated and Greek ideas and ideals found general acceptance. So the lower class resisted Hellenism. Rome also recognized the cultural superiority of Greece and began to reshape their society long Greek lines. They looted Greek arts and adorned their houses. Greek slaves were appointed as tutors of the Romans. Cicero went to Rhodes and Athens for education. Virgil and Horace imitated Homer.

3. The Jewish world.

            We have to make distinction between the Jews in Palestine and Jews in Diaspora. Both had a longing for the promised Messiah but it was more rooted in the political distress of the people than in religious motives. For more than a half century they had lived under the Roman domination (from 67 BC onwards). This was considered as a divine punishment. Herod the Great was the ruler and he was hated by the Jews because of his pledge to protect the Roman interests. He was also a foreigner (Idermaean). He took Jerusalem by Roman assistance in 37 BC. He could not win the hearts of the people. After the death of Herod the Great (40 4 BC) the empire was divided between his three sons Archalaus, Herod Antipas and Philip Then the Jews appealed to Rome to free them from Herodian dynasty. Thus Augustus sent procurators to govern Judea (eg. Pontius Pilot 26 36 AD). But this arrangement failed to bring civil peace. The Jews hated the Romans because the latter levied taxes and their soldiers settled in Jerusalem. In 60 AD there was a great rebellion of Jews but it failed. In.70 AD Jerusalem fell to Titus. Between 67 BC and 39 AD around 200,000 Jews were perished by violence.

The religious situation of the Jews

              It was characterized by the peculiarity of their religious convictions they hold fast to faith and religion even at the cost of heavy sacrifices and isolation from other people. The belief in one God, Jewish, was the central point. They believed in the immediate intervention of God through prophets. They also believed that they were the chosen people of God, God had made a covenant with them and the salvation for others was from them. They had a hope of a Saviour and redeemer who would establish in Israel the kingdom of God. The expectation of Messiah was the chief source of strength in the times of peril. They saw in the messiah a liberator from the Romans. Yet there were some who believed in the religious mission of the Messiah.

Importance of law

              For a Jew the law was of decisive importance and the task of daily life. Observance of the law was the daily task and its transgression was punished and its fidelity was rewarded. The law was given through Scriptures and they are interpreted by the Scribes.

The Eastern Mystery Religions

            They began to penetrate westwards. They claim to be able to give the individual a liberating answer to his questions about his fate in the next world. They claimed that by ordering his way of life in this world, he could find eternal salvation.

The common characteristics of mystery religions:

1. Belief in a blessed immortality

2. A symbolic initiation ceremony

3. A sacrifice

4. A dramatic scene

5. A sacred meal.

1. Mystery cult of Mithras

It originated in Iran, developed in Cappadocia and then spread to West. It was essentially a masculine cult and most of its devotees were Roman soldiers. Its main figure was the Persian god Mithras, who stole a bull belonging to the moon and slew it on the orders of Apollo. The representation of this event is the central motif of the image which set up in all Mithraic temples. The blood of a bull was sprinkled over the believers, who were thus initiated and became entitled to expect salvation. The candidate for initiation prepared himself by undergoing various tests of courage and ritual washings; after his reception he proceeded through seven grades to that of a full disciple of Mithras. As Mithras was taken up by the sun-god Helios in the chariot of the sun, so did the disciple hope to be raised up in glory in the next world. The members of the cult were also united in a sacred meal, which prefigured, to those who partook of it, a happy life together in the hereafter.

2. The cult of Isis and Osiris in Egypt

In Egypt goddess Isis was honoured every year by a solemn procession. She was believed to have brought morality and civilization to mankind. She was regarded as the inventor of agriculture and writing, as foundress of law and civil order, a protectress of the persecuted and liberator from every kind of distress. Osiris is figured as her husband. He was the ancient Egyptian god of vegetarian who died and rose again, as the annual sowing and growth of the crops-symbolically signify. His death was mourned by his worshippers, his resurrection celebrated with joy. In his dying, man saw his own death expressed, but like Osiris he would rise again to a new life after death.

3. The cult of great mother in Asia Minor

She is the fertility goddess Cybele. She was connected with a male divinity, the Nature hero Attis, her lover. According to the myth Attis was unfaithful to her, wherefore he was cast into a frenzy, from which he died. He was awakened to new life and reunited with the Great Mother. This myth became the basis of this cult. Their priests are called Galli. These, by ecstatic dancing and flagellation, brought on their own “mystical” frenzy, in which there were driven even to self castration. In the rite of initiation, the candidate (mysta) symbolically relived the fate of his god in death and resurrection; he was sprinkled with the blood of a bull and then entered the “bridal chamber”, which he left as one reborn. At a sacred meal he made his profession as a ‘mysta’ of Attis, and a priest proclaimed to the initiated the joyful tidings: “be comforted, ye mystae! Salvation came to the god. So also shall we be partakers of salvation after tribulation”. Here, too, the promise of salvation was the deciding motive for joining the cult.

The positive features in the Hellenistic religion which helped the preaching of the now faith in Jesus:

1. The feeling of emptiness on account of the failure of ancient religions

2. A deep desire of redemption – eternal salvation was promised by the Saviour.

3. The strong tendency to monotheism – this was apparent in the Hellenistic religion.

The positive elements in Jewish religion:

1. Monotheism

2. The expectation of Messiah

3. The Jews in Diaspora prepared the Septuagint.

4. They preached monotheism and the Ten Commandments and the foundation of Christian morals.

5. The synagogues, where christian missionaries found         God fearing people, were ready to receive their message.

Jesus Christ and the Church

The history of the church has its roots in Jesus Christ. Therefore His life and work, by which the Church was founded, are a necessary preliminary to the history of the church.

The sources of Christ’s life: the writings of N.T the first three gospels, Acts of the Apostles and some letters of St. Paul They are not intended to be a historical biography of Christ. The gospels are the outcome of the apostolic preaching. The evangelists presented Jesus as vivid in their hearts. The N.T tat writings bear witness to the life and work of Christ and prove that earthly Christ was the same Christ who is the Saviour of the world. So they are a kind of outline of the life of Jesus.

The historical data from the gospels

– Birth of Christ tour or five years before the beginning of christian era.

– thirty years of secret life

-three years of active life, baptism


-supreme law of Jesus’ religion: unconditional love of God and neighbour.

-other doctrines: purity of mind and intention against outward observance of law; inward union with the Father; silent conversation with the Father; joy over the repentance of the sinners; blessedness of the poor; ‘consolation to the lowly, depressed , blind, lame, etc.; and finally the call to all to follow him and his discipleship requires self denial.

-those followed are called to form a new community and His message bound them together. They are brothers in a religious family. They prayed together. This community is the Church. Ecclesia= those who are called

Church = the lord’s house

From the disciples he dejected twelve. They were the object of his special attention end had special position.  They were to continue his mission. The content of his mission wan the proclamation of the kingdom of God. He gave them Power to fulfill it. He chose Peter for a special task. He was rock foundation on which his church should stand. Thus the foundation was prepared.  It would now grow in space and time.

The primitive Church at Jerusalem

The important source of the primitive church is the acts of Apostles (7 chapters). It is not a complete picture of events because the author chose for his subjects only what served his purpose. Only about fifteen years of the origin and growth of the community arc described there.

Actually it was resurrection of Christ that brought together the scattered disciples and united them in a community sharing the same belief and profession of faith.

The events narrated in the Acts are the following:

I. Ascension

2. Election of Mathias

3. Pentecost

4. Opposition from the Jews 5: 29

5. Election of deacons

6. Martyrdom of Stephen

7. Journey of the apostles

8. Conversion of  Paul

9. Persecution by Herod

10. James the Younger bishop of Jerusalem

11.Gospel to the gentiles- conversion of the chamberlain of queen of Ethiopea by Philip and that of Cornelius by Peter.

12. The name Christians Act 11, 26.

13. Jerusalem council (49) whether circumcision is necessary for salvation was discussed and decided:

“We shall be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus” 15, 11.

The Church: Organization, Belief and Piety

            The Disciples of Christ had formed themselves into a special community which had the name Congregation, Assembly, Ecclesia (Acts 5, 11, 8.1.). This community was convinced that Christ was the true Messiah and led their own individual religious life and this conviction brought them together and they  organized a religious community. This community had from the beginning a hierarchical order in which not all were of equal rank.

The hierarchical order:

1. College of Apostles. The Apostles are distinguished in a unique way to carry out the special task entrusted to them by Christ. Their number was twelve which was considered sacred and Mathias was elected in the place of Judas. The characteristics of the election of Mathias are the following: prayer and God’s decision was sought by means of lot. This shows that the call to the office of an Apostle is by the supreme authority of God.

The tasks of the Apostle are the following

– To bear witness to the life, death and resurrection of Christ.

– To lead the community in the liturgy solemnities of cult

– To administer baptism

– To preside at the religious meal

– To lay hands on those who were consecrated for special tasks.

– To be mediators between Christ and the Church through the exercise of priestly functions.

Peter was the head of the Apostles: Peter occupied a leading place among the twelve. It was given by Christ. We see Peter exercising this in the primitive Church:

– conducts the election to the college of Apostles

– Spokesman of the disciples at Pentecost Acts 2.15.

– preaches after healing of the lame. 3.1.

– Spokesman before the scribes and elders. 4.8

– Spokesman before the Sanhedrin. 5, 20

– appears with judicial authority in the episode of Ananias and Sapphire 5.3.

– His decision to admit Cornelius to baptism. It has a great significance – gospel is also to Gentiles.

– In Jerusalem council Peter’s attitude was the deciding factor in the dispute as to whether the gentile christians were subject to Mosaic law or not.

2. The Elders. They are not so clearly defined in the Acts (11 39). It was not a new name for there were elders in the Sanhedrin at Jerusalem. In the primitive church the elders are always found in the company of Apostles as leaders of ‘ the congregation. They also took part in the decisions of Jerusalem council (15 2ff). So they were assistants to the apostles in the administration.

3. The Deacons: Their appointment was not by election, but was done by prayer and imposition of hands. No name was given to this group in the Acts of the Apostles, but their work is described by the verb “to serve” (6 2). They were appointed to assist the apostles in their work, to take over the services of the tables among the poor of the community.

The existence of apostles elders and deacons shows that there was already in the primitive church a division among the members into different groups consecrated by a religious ceremony for special tasks apart from the main body of the faithful. This division between laity and clergy was not felt a separating gulf because the Jews also had priesthood whom they respected.

Faith of the early Christians

The resurrection of Christ was the pivot upon which the apostolic message hinged. So all those who wished to follow the gospel had to accept it. The fact of resurrection both as a historical event and as part of the faith was confirmed by the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (2.1ff). The Pentecost gave its final clarity and direction to apostolic message. Then on the apostles began to preach that the Risen Lord was Jesus of Nazareth.

Jesus, the Saviour. The early christians believed that Jesus was the Saviour called by God for the salvation of men (5.31).They also believed that only grace of the Lord (15 1­11) could save them not the circumcision.

Forgiveness of sins. It was the first step to salvation through Jesus Christ. Prayer and inner conversion were necessary for removal of sins.

The reception of the Holy Spirit. It was a proof and confirmation that salvation had already begun for its members. After the Pentecost the descent of the Holy Spirit repeated continually. Eg. In Samaria 8 1ff. Cornelius 10 44; 4 31. It was the Holy Spirit who gives the inner and supernatural strength.  It was also the cause of missionary zeal – Stephen, Philip.

Thy Rites of early christians

I. Baptism was the basis of the membership in the community. It was followed by the reception of the Holy Spirit, by laying on of hands.

2. Breaking of the Bread: This refers to the liturgical celebration of the last supper of the Lord. It took place in the houses of the faithful (I Cor.10 16). The faithful met on the first day of the week to break the bread (Acts 20, 7). Here we note a liturgical development among the first christians. They gathered on Sundays because it was the day of Lord’s resurrection and they hoped that He would come on the same day of the week.

3. Fast day: They fasted on Wednesdays and Fridays. The passion of the Lord began on Wednesday and the Lord died on the cross on Friday.

4. The anointing of the sick:  ref. James 5, 14ff.

5. Works of Charity: The early christians manifested their love and enthusiasm in the works of charity. They were of one heart and one soul and they shared everything in common (Acts 4, 32). This christian enthusiasm was nourished by the expectation of the parousia. They were indifferent to the goods of this world and it made them free and unselfish.

St. Peter, his missionary activity and death in Rome

According to Mk. 1, 16-18 Simon and Andrew were the first men called by Christ. According to John 1.44 they lived in Bethsaida. Peter was married (M.1, 30-31, 1Cor 9,5). It was Andrew who brought Simon to Jesus (Jn.1, 40). Peter was the head of the Apostolic College. After the ascension of the Lord he took the leadership of the community in his hand. He was the spokesman, performed miracles and opened the door of the church to the gentiles.

               Peter was imprisoned by Agrippa II and was to be executed. But he was set free by an angel and went to another city (Acts 12). The Acts concludes the account of Peter’s activity in Jerusalem with these mysterious words: “He went to another place”Actsl2, 17. His route to Rome, the time of his arrival there and the length of his stay are not known from the Acts. 1n 49 he was in Jerusalem then he went to Antioch Acts 15, 17.

The basis of the Roman tradition concerning St. Peter

1. The letter of Clemet: It is the first letter of pope Clemet, the third successor (88-97) of Peter. While speaking of the martyrdom of female christians under Nero, Clement writes: “Peter, who because of unjust envy suffered tribulations not once or twice but many times, and thus became a witness and passed on to the place of glory which was his due” (I Cor. 5,l 4; 6,1 2). So according to this, St. Peter might have got martyrdom under Nero in the mid­sixties. Clement did not give details of the martyrdom because he presupposed that his readers had known about it.

2. The letter of Ignatius of Antioch: St. Ignatius, the bishop of Antioch (98 – 110) became martyr under Trojan. In his letter to the Ramans he wrote: “I do not command you as Peter and Paul do”. This means that Peter stayed in Rome for a lengthy period and he had a special relationship with the Roman congregation.

3. A combined text of Ascensio Isaiae (4, 2 – 3) and a fragment of the Apocalypse of Peter. Ascensio Isaiae (100) written in prophetic style says: “one of the twelve will be delivered into his hands; the community founded by the twelve will be persecuted by Nero”. The Apocalypse of Peter (125 – 150 discovered in 1886) says: ” see Peter, to thee have I revealed and explained all things.  Go then into the city of fornication and drink the chalice that I have foretold to thee”.

4. The Gospel according to St. john: Jn. 21, 18-19 says about martyrdom of Peter but there is no mention of the place.

5. The first Epistle of St. Peter: I Pet.5, 13 Peter indicates lose as his abode (Babilon = Rome).

The Tomb of St. Peter

There is a difference of opinion concerning the location of the tomb of St. Peter.

1. Vatican Hill

i) Tacitus’ account of Nero’s persecution, Annales 15, 44, 5.

ii) The first epistle of Clement.

iii) The account of Gaius.  Gaius was an educated and active member of the Roman congregation. He says: “I can show you the tropaia (a victory monument) of the Apostles for if you will go to the Vatican hill or as the r ead to Ostiav that you will find the triumphal tombs of those who founded this congregation”.    Gaius lived during the time of pope Zephyrinus (199 – 217). So about 200 the conviction at Rome was that St. Peter’s tomb was on the Vatican Hill.

               As opposed to this, an entry in the roman liturgical calendar of 354, supplemented by the so called Martyrolegium Hieronymianum (after 431), states that in 258, on 29 June, the memory of peter was celebrated at the Vatican, that of Paul on the road to Ostia, and of both in catcombas

2. On the via Appia under the Basilica of St. Sebastian:

An epitaph composed by pope Damasus (366 – 304) says that the two apostles had once “dwelt” there, which probably means that their bodies had once been buried there. There was about the year 260 a shrine of the two apostles on the Via Appia under the basilica later known as St. Sebastian’s, which in the fourth century was still called ecclesia apostelerum. Excavations in 1917 proved the existence of suck a shrine about the year 260, in which both apostles were honoured refrigeria (memorial service). Though no grave was found out, other signs force us to the convulsion that the visitors were convened that it was the burial place of the apostles.

Different hypotheses

1. Same hold that the actual burial – place of both apostles was on via Appia, their bodies having been translated to Constantine’s basilicas only after these were built.

2. Others held that the burial place was Vatican Hill and the relics had been brought to St. Sebastian’s for safety during Valerian’s (253-260) persecution and had remained there until their translation to the now basilicas.

3. Yet others deny the possibility of translation to the Appian Way, because the Roman law strictly forbids opening of graves. Perhaps a substute shrine may have been built here when the persecution of Valerian made the visitors to the real tombs impossible.

4. Still a fourth opinion was that there may have been on Via Appia a centre of veneration of the apostles belonging to some schismatic group, perhaps the Novatians, who living in Rome itself, could not deist from such veneration.

Therefore in the third century there was no certain knowledge about the burial place of St. Peter.

Excavations of 1940-49 under Petrine Basilica.

There discovered a vast necropolis (cemetery) reached by street of tombs ascending to the west from which one arrived at numerous mausolea (magnificent tomb). Many of them are richly adorned. One among then is purely christian, with ancient mosaics, and a representation of Christ-Holiest a very valuable piece of early christian iconography. The mausolea was built in 130-200. This is below and in front of the “confessio of St. Peter.

Tradition puts his martyrdom in 67 and gives June 29 as the exact date. This date had a symbolic character. It was the day on which the Romans celebrated the founding of their city by Romus and Romulus. The early Christians transferred it to the feast of St. Peter and Paul, the founders of the new christian Rome.

ST Paul

Only through a series of striking events could the Jewish christians arrive at a knowledge that they had an obligation to carry the gospel of good news of Jesus to the gentile world. The shocking events were:

1. Baptism of Bthiopean chamberlain by Philip. 8, 26­39.

2. Baptism of Cornelius 10, 1-11,18.

         Then on christian communities were formed outside Jerusalem, in Antioch and Damascus. It was at Antioch that the followers of Christ received the name christians (11 – 26). It was to arrest the christians at Damascus that Paul came to Damascus.

Paul was born of a Jewish family at Tarsus in Cilicia. His ancestors came from Galilee. His father possessed a Roman citizenship. He knew the Greek ‘koine’, the common language of the Mediterranean region. He had his training as a teacher of law in the school of the Pharisee Gamaliel (22,3). He Persecuted the christians and took part in the martyrdom of Stephen (36), which he confirmed in his letters (Gal.1, 13ff; I Cor. 15, 9).

            Paul might have converted in 38 AD cf. Acts 9, 3 18; 22, 3-16; 26, 12-30. Paul calls this apparition of the Lord as a supernatural call to grace. From that moment on wards he became an ardent follower of Christ and dedicated himself fully to the service of the Lord.

Mission of St. Paul

St. Paul began to proclaim the message of Christ in the synagogues of Damascus and then in Jerusalem (9, 20; 22, 26­29). At both places he not with strong opposition. So he withdrew to Tarsus. Then after some years’ of silence he preached in Antioch. He was convinced that he was called to preach good news to the gentiles. And he selected the Roman expire as his mission field. He made three missionary journeys.

1. The first missionary Journey (45-48)

His companions were Barnabas and Mark. They first went to Cyprus and worked in the city of Salamis. Then they went to Asia Minor, Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe.  Everywhere they had opposition and sometimes physical violence. But some accepted the gospel and thus christian congregations were formed there and suitable leaders were appointed for them.

             Paul did not impose circumcision and Jewish ritual prescriptions upon the gentile christians. But the Jewish christians demanded circumcision as an essential condition for salvation (15, 1-5). This dispute sometimes hindered Paul’s missionary work.  It was settled in council of Jerusalem (49). There the Pauline thesis “the Mosaic Law has no binding force for the gentile christians” was accepted. Paul also collected money from the new congregations for those poor of Jerusalem community. It testified the mutual bond between the gentile and Jewish christians. The first missionary journey ended in 48. They returned to Antioch.

2. The second missionary journey 50-53

            Paul’s companions were Silas and Timothy. The visited places where Paul preached gospel and founded congregations during his first missionary journey. Then he went to the coast in northern Troas. After that in a dream he was called to Macedonia. Here Luke joined the group. They sailed to Philippi. There they had opposition from the Jews. They went to Thessalonica and stayed there one month. They also preached in the synagogues. After visiting Athens they went to Corinth where a few Jews and many pagans accepted gospel. Paul stayed there eighteen months. The Jewish couple Aquilla and Priscilla had greatly promoted his work  thus Corinth became one of the main centers of Paul.  Then Paul went to Ephesus and after a short stay there he returned to Palestine by sea.

3. The third missionary Journey 53-58

Ephesus became the center of Paul’s missionary activity.  He worked there two years. He had success as well as difficulties. A new congregation separated from the synagogue was formed. From Ephesus Paul wrote letters to the faithful in Corinth and Galatia. In 57 he left for Macedonia and Greece. After a short stay in Troas he visited Corinth from where he wrote to the Romans. In this letter he mentioned his intention to visit Rome (Rom.15, 24-29). After visiting the various congregations founded by his and after a sorrowful farewell to the elders of Ephesus he returned to Jerusalem about the time of Pentecost in 58.

In Jerusalem Paul was arrested and as he had appealed to the emperor he was taken to Rome. In Rome he resumed his missionary work in the possible way. Some believed him (Acts28 23). Luke concludes the activity of Paul in Rome with this statement:  “this salvation of God has been sent to the gentiles, they will listen” (Acts 28, 28).

Acts is silent about the subsequent activities of Paul. In Rome his trial ended with an acquittal. Then he went to Spain and visited the Hellenistic East. During this period he gave directions for organizations of his congregations and warned them against false doctrines. During the reign of Nero, Paul was again imprisoned and was beheaded probably in 67 AD. The place of his martyrdom is known “Tre fontane” (Three fountains) as his beheaded head touched three places water spring spouted from there.

The characteristics of the Pauline congregation

1. Paul occupied a unique place, he was the highest authority, the chief judge and law -giver.

2. The congregation had a hierarchical order. Paul assigned duties such as care for the poor and conducting of religious worship to certain persons by imposition of hands and prayer on them. They were called presbyters or e1ders (Acts 14, 23). The elders of Ephesus were referred to overseers (Episcopoi). Paul also speaks of deacons having special duties in the congregation as a distinct office from that of episcopoi and presbyters. These office bearers (episcopoi, prebyters, and deacons) were local leaders and remained with the community.

3. Charismatically gifted persons: They had gift of tongue and prophecy. They appeared in the assembly for the worship. Sometimes it became dangerous because of the overestimate of gifts.

4. Unity with other communities: Pauline congregations were not independent. They were closely linked with their founder and the Jerusalem community.

5. Charitable works: Pauline congregations had the consciousness of being one church. They assisted the poor of Jerusalem.

The religious life of Pauline Congregation

i. Its centered on the belief in the risen Lord.

ii. The admission to the community was by baptism.

iii. On the first day of the week they regularly met together for worship.  Songs of praise, hymns and psalms.

iv. Eucharistic celebration (Lord’s Supper) was the central point and climax of the service. Details were not mentioned. The breaking of the broad was the participation in the body and blood of Christ. It nourished and constantly reaffirmed the inner unity of Pauline congregations.

v. Proclamation of gospel. In the assemblies gospel was preached. Pauline congregations had also difficulties. The difference between pagan and christian morality was evident. The latter demanded greater effort. There were signs of disunity. Against all these Paul warned the faithful and asked them to keep unity, peace and brotherly love.

The development of the hierarchy

The apostles appointed a group of elders to watch over the community. They were referred to in the NT as presbyters (elders) or episcopoi (overseers). Authors generally agree that these two words are synonymous. Whether there were bishops or priests opinions are divided. The prevailing opinion is that they were priests.


            This word was first used in the church in 58 AD cf. Act 20, 28: “take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you guardians to feed the church of the Lord which he obtained with his own blood”.

St. Paul speaks of the qualities of episcopoi:

I Thim. 3, 2-7: “a bishop must above reproach, husband of one wife, temporate, sensible, dignified, and hospitable an apt teacher, no drunkard, not violent, but gentle not quarrelsome and no lover of money”.

Tit. 1, 7-9: “a bishop as God’s steward must be blameless must not be arrogant or quick-tempered, or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain but hospitable, a lover of goodness, master of himself, upright, holy and self-controlled.

In the second century episcopoi’s position became clearer.  They were the heads of the community of faithful. They became the centre of the community. Hippolitus (235) says: “the faithful should elect the bishop”.

Didaschalia apostolorum (3 c.) catholic teaching of the twelve apostles and holy disciples of our Lord Saviour (full title) published by a bishop in Syria speaks of the qualities of the bishop: “bishops were allowed to marry. Elders were elected by the bishops to help the latter. Baptism was reserved to the bishop. But elders and deacons administered baptism with the permission of the bishop”.

Later in the light of the decisions of Nicea I and Chalcedon certain changes were introduced with regard to the election of the bishops. The right of the electing a bishop was reserved to the bishops of the neighbouring dioceses. Then the opinion of the faithful was sought out.  Polycarp was elected bishop after having enquired about him by sending the deacons.

The synod of Ancira (314) decreed that when a bishop was not acceptable to the community he had to retire to the priesthood. The synod of Arles (314) decreed that there should be seven bishops to consecrate a new bishop. It also decreed that there should be at least three if not seven, but the absentees should inform about their consent with the signature of the archbishop.

Once a bishop was appointed to a see, he should not go from there. There were strict rules regarding the transfer of the bishops.

Bishops were simple pastors and were not distinguished by any of the external trappings (mitre, cozier, etc.). During the persecution bishop stood out as the leader, teacher of the community, director of the divine worship and administrator of the sacraments.


            The head of the Jewish community was called presbyter. In the Qumran community too we found presbyters. The presbyters were in charge of the synagogue.

In the church in the beginning there was no distinction between episcopoi and presbyteroi. But St. Ignatius says: “The Eucharistic celebration should be under the leadership of the episcopoi. This shows that episcopoi were the successors of the apostles.

In the third century we find a distinction between episcopoi and presbyteroi. In the absence of the bishop, presbyter could give blessing in the agape. Eusebius speaks of 46 presbyters, seven deacons and seven sub-deacons in Rome besides the bishop.

Other orders

Deaconate originated with the election of those seven men mentioned in the Acts 6, 1-6. Though originally intended for the care of the poor many other activities fell to their lot as time went on. Deacon became the bishop’s right hand man, assisting in the celebration if the Eucharist in the administration of baptism and in the temporal administration of the diocese. Didaschalia speaks of them: “the bishop’s ears, mouth, heart and soul”.

Subdioconate: Subdioconate came into existence to assist the deacons. It originated in the apostolic time. The number of deacons was seven. When the community became large, deacons took assistants (subdeacons).

In the Western church in the third century other lesser orders came into existence:

Lector (reader) educate members of the community who would read the scriptures at the divine services. 

Acolytes assisted the sub-deacons.

Exorcists to take care of those who were supposed to be possessed.

Porter to keep the door. 

Besides these there was deaconess also to help in the baptism of women.

Formation and maintenance of the Clergy

We do not find a formation as we have today. Yet the apostles trained their co-workers in the ministry of the word and administration of the sacraments. At first more stress was laid on the virtue of the candidate. The will of the people was sought out when one is appointed. It was people who determined their bishop. This election would be ratified by other bishops.

            Promotion to the priesthood was done considering the satisfactory account of oneself in the lower orders, fifty age for bishop, thirty for the priests.  Self castrated eunuchs, neophytes, slaves were excluded from clerical state.

Celibacy was not obligatory in the first three centuries. A married person (once) could become deacon, priest and bishop.  But they were not allowed to marry after the ordination. Second marriage was tolerated for the laity but considered unworthy of the clergy. There were people who had attraction to virginity and this liking for celibacy grew gradually more common. In 305 synod of Elvira (Spain) made celibacy obligatory for bishop, priests and deacons.

Maintenance of the clergy: The words of the Lord “the labourers have the right to their maintenance” was the principle. Since there was a strong community spirit, there was no problem. There were generous contribution, offerings at Mass, monthly collections, etc. (Tertullian)

Developments of parish, diocese, archdiocese, Patriarchate

The word parish comes from the Greek word Paroikia = community of pilgrims, those near the house of God. When the number increased christian centers also increased. In the beginning private houses were used for Eucharistic celebration. In the second century onwards these communities were known as parish. Each parish was given the name of a martyr. In 300 there were twenty parishes in Rome. Communities were again formed outside the cities and the church in the city became its centre. Bishop appointed Priests to the parishes. Thus there were many parishes under a bishop.

The parish system spread rapidly throughout the East. In the West we see a gradual development. In Rome bishop was the leader of the Eucharistic service. He was consecrating bread and wine even if there were other churches in the city. Consecrated bread was sent to other churches. Priests had obtained permission from the bishop to consecrate bread and wine. In the fifth century laity began to own parishes and they used to pay the priests and gained the income of the parish.

Diocese or provinces: Different parishes are formed into a diocese.  The word comes from the Greek Diokein = to govern. Diocese is a place which is governed. The sixth canon of Nicea I speak about the division. Diocese is known by the name of the place where bishop resides. The bishop of the capital had some authority over the others and from fourth century onwards was referred to as metropolitan (metropolis = capital).

Patriarchate:  Different metropolitan churches were grouped into a new system called Patriarchate. Patriarch means head of a family or race. In the OT Abraham and Jacob were called patriarchs. The early christian centers Rome, Alexandria and Antioch were known as patriarchates. The sixth canon of Nicea I refer to this. When Constantinople became the capital of the Roman Empire it demanded the second place among the patriarchates. Later Jerusalem (451) also was given the patriarchal title. Thus there were five ancient patriarchates and were known as Pentarchy of the church. Rome had the first place.

1. Rome:  As the see of St. Peter Rome had preeminence among the patriarchates. The councils also approved it. The one who is in communion with the Roman see was considered to be in communion with the rest. Roman primacy is clear from the attitude of the authority which the popes displayed in their dealings with the other churches. Pope Clement (86-97) in 96 interferes in a split in the church at Corinth. Pope Victor (189-199) showed himself superior of the whole church on the occasion of the dispute about the date of Easter. Pope Stephen (254-257) in 256 forbade the bishops of Africa to rebaptize heretics. Dionisius (257-68) in 260 corrected the bishop of Alexandria for errors concerning the Trinity. These are indirect evidences. There are direct evidences:

Ignatius of Antioch (110), says: Roman church as presiding in love, presides in the chief place of the Roman territory.

Ireneus (185), while speaking against the innovations of the Gnostics, ascribeds to roman church potentior principalities on account of its being founded by St. Peter and Paul. St. Cyprian says: Petri cathedra atque ecclesia princioalis unde unitas sacerdotalis exorta est.

2. Constantinople: In the fourth century Constantinople was a suffrogan to Heraclea. In 324 when Constantine mad it the new capital it became known as new Rome. Constantinople 1 381 assigned to it the second place. The 28th canon of Chalcedon 451 approved it. The 21 st canon of IV Constantinople (869­870) officially confirmed it. Again it was confirmed in the council of Florence in 1439. Pope Leo 1 (440-461) was against it. Chalcedon decreed that Constantinople had the right to take decisions on the Byzentine church. From 6th century onwards. Constantinople’s patriarch was called ecumenical patriarch. Pope Gregory the great (590-604) opposed it but the title was used by the patriarch with the consent of the emperor. Constantinople had authority over the whole Asia Minor.

3. Antioch: Canon 6 of Nicea I speaks in a vague way about the privileges of Antioch  Canon 6 of Constantinople I determined the rights of Antioch.

4. Alexandria:  Most ancient patriarchate. Nicea I, c.6 speaks of the ancient custom according to which the Alexandrian patriarch had power over Egypt, Libya and Pentapolis. Canon 2 of Constantinople I determined the rights and jurisdiction of Alexandria.

5. Jerusalem: had great importance. It was first a suffrogan to Caesarea. Nicea had given certain privileges to it and Chalcedon 451 conferred on it the patriarchal title at the request of their bishops. Three provinces of Palestine were given to it.

Different factors in the formation of patriarchate.

1. Apostolic origin

Rome -St. Peter

Constantinople -St. Andrew

Antioch -St. Peter

Alexandria St. Mark

Jerusalem St. James

2. Ecclesiastical importance

            Rome- see of Peter

            Constantinople- Basilica of the Great Wisdom

            Antioch -centre of Theological School

            Alexandria ft

            Jerusalem centre and pilgrimage

3. Political importance

Rome- capital of Roman Empire

Constantinople -new capital

Antioch -capital of Orient

Alexandria- capital of Illyricum

Jerusalem- residence of roman governor

Intellectual Opposition Heresy and Schism

As the christians were known to the world, there arose an intellectual opposition in the second half of the second century. Though the opposition was a danger to the individual christians, it contributed to the development of christian doctrines in so far as it has forced the Church to reexamine her intellectual resources and to define with greater clarity and distinction.

i. Opposition of the Pagans.

The two famous pagan opponents of christianity were Lucian and Celsius. Lucian used to ridicule the christians and spread calumnies against them. Celsius in his book “The True God” written in 178 attacked the Church most viciously. The work was burned in 488 by the order of emperor Theodosius. Origen quoted the text in refuting Celsius. The following are the arguments of Celsius: (i) The official Roman religion is essential (ii) the Christians are the enemies of the empire (iii) ridiculing the christians he hindered the pagans from becoming christians (iv) he put forward refutations of the christian doctrine especially against Incarnation and redemption. Celsius presented Christ and the Apostles and the christians as vagrants who pride themselves on their own importance.  He considered christian doctrines as mere ill-digested borrowings from traditional wisdom and insidiously points out that their attitude presents a danger to the City.

2. The Challenge of Religious Philosophy.

The third century is noted for its philosophical revival.  The pagan philosophers tried to make their philosophy more attractive and to show that it is superior to christianity.

Intellectual movements

(i) Neoplatonism

It appeared in Alexandria in the first half of the third century. It was founded by Ammonius Saccas (174- 242), an apostate. But the chief exponent of this movement was Plotinus (+270), a disciple of Saccas. He lectured in Rome and preached a kind of Trinity.

a) One: It is not intelligible, formless, no attributes contained all beings.

b) Nous: It is the emanation of One and the exemplar of all things. It received the Being contained in the One in the form of

c) World-Soul: It is the emanation of Nous, and created the universe.

Man is a union of body and soul and this union is accidental. Body is the instrument of the soul. The sou1 existed in the World­Soul before its union to the body. Plotinus is not clear about whether the soul is distinct from World-soul and souls or not. In the body there is a danger of domination of matter. Therefore one has to fight to preserve its union with the world soul. If it keeps itself free of matter it will be able to rise to the contemplation of Intelligence (Nous) and ultimately to the ecstasy of a facial vision of One. This vision is only in the next life where soul will enjoy immortality on being freed from matter by death.

(ii) Eclectism

It was an attempt to fuse Greek philosophical ideas with the elements of various oriental religions: Persians, Babylonian and Indian. The empress Julia Donna, wife of Spetimus Severus (193-211) asked a certain Philostratus to present the ideal fusion of all religions personified in some great figure. Thus Philostratus wrote the biography of a certain Appollonius of Tyna, lived in the first century. He presented the latter as a perfect philosopher who traveled from Spain to India and asserted that all religions were same. During the persecution of Domitian (81-96) he was tried, but disappeared from the tribunal and appeared to two of his disciples who thought that he had risen from the dead. He was presumed to be disappeared from the temple while the virgins sang: “Leave earth and come to heaven”. This was an effort to provide the pagans with a counter attraction to Christ.

(iii) Gnosticism

It is a collection of systems – a fusion of hellenistic ideas with Jewish religious ideas and certain elements of christian revelation. It started in the first decades of the second century. The basic question of Gnosticism was how can man find the true knowledge, which will explain the riddle of the world and the evil there in as well as the riddle of the human existence. Gnosticism claimed to bring to religious minded people a valid interpretation of the world and of themselves. They had a liturgy and its forms were borrowed from Eastern Mystery cults and christianity. They made use of its symbolic content skillfully. They organized their adherents to a close-knit community and propagated their doctrines by sacred hymns and fascinating novels. Gnostic cells were formed inside the Church to conquer the Church from within. 

Gnosticism taught a dualism. This dualistic conception of being is expressed as the opposition between god and Matter, between Light and Darkness. There are intermediate beings called Eons which are pure spirits and pure lights. Eons together with god of Light formed the kingdom of light. One of the Eons, Demiurge, tried to raise himself above his status and was expelled from the kingdom of light. He then created universe and man. He rebelled against God. Demiurge is the God of OT. The souls of men belong to the world of light, but are imprisoned in matter. So man has to fight to free the soul. Gnosis is the secret knowledge that will enable them to do that.

Result of gnostic teaching

(i)  Denial of original sin

(ii) Destruction of the doctrines of incarnation & Redemption.

(iii) Christ is only an Eon.

(iv) They divide the people into three classes:

a) Spirituals -who have the secret knowledge (gnosis).

b) Uneducated christians -who were forced to live a asceticism.

c) Pagans who had no hope of salvation.

Different groups of Gnosticism

1. Syrian group: The centre was Antioch. Their leaders were Menander and Satornil. Menander proclaimed himself the redeemer.

2. Basilidian School: Its centre was Alexandria and its leader was Basilides who claimed to have secret doctrines which the redeemer had entrusted to Mathias after the ascension.

3.Valentinians: Its centers were Egypt, Alexandria and Rome. Its leader was Valentinus. This sect was most dangerous to christianity.

Works of Gnosticism

By the victory of christianity, the Gnostic literature were destroyed but some of them are preserved being quoted in the antignostic writings of Ireneus, Tertullian, Hippoliyus, clement of Alexandria, Origen and Epiphanius.

i) Pistis Sophia

iii) Books of Jeu-alleged revelations of Christ his disciples.

Discovery of Gnostic remains

The excavation of 1945-46 discovered an extensive library of a gnostic community near upper Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi, in the vicinity of the former Pachomean monastery of Chenoboskian . It contained in 13 papyrus manuscripts more than 40 unknown works in the Coptic language mostly direct translations from Greek. The translation was done either at the end of the fourth century or in the beginning of the fifth century. The Greek originals were written in the second century. Their titles seem to be christian apocrypha, but the contents are quite new, eg. Apocryphal gospels of Thomas Philip gospel of Egyptians, of Truth, Acts of the Apostles, Peter, Mathias, etc.

iv) Marcianism

            Marcian was a son of the bishop of Synope, south coast of Black Sea. He came to Rome in 140 and joined the christians who supported him with money. In 144 he left Rome since his peculiar ideas were not accepted there. He wanted to purify the Church from Judaism. Therefore he founded a new church with bishops, priests and laity and liturgy. This church lasted till fifth century. He made a distinction and opposition between God of OT and God of NT. Christ is God of love and mercy. Consequently he denied all OT books and those books which looked favourably on OT. He accepted only gospel of Luke minus his infancy narrative. He also accepted moat of the Pauline epistles. In the East he won many followers. His church was well organized with strict morals and fu11 pledged members. They abstained from matrimony meat and wine. But Marcianism was regarded as a most dangerous enemy of the Church. St. Polycarp of Smyrna called Marcian “primogenitus Satanae“.

(v) Montanism

This sect appeared in Phrygia, Asia Minor about 172. Montanus a Phrygian and two of his female disciples, Maximilla and Priscilla claimed to have received the charisma of prophecy. The monatanists gave more importance to visions and revelations. According to him the time of the paraclete had begin with the coming of Montanus the new Jerusalem was going to be inaugurated and last for a thousand years. For it all must live in continence. They showed excessive respect for virginity. They deny the possibility of forgiveness of sine after baptism especially sins of fornication, murder and idolatry. Therefore they had postponed baptism. No statues, no paintings were allowed. Pope Zephyrinus (199-217) excommunicated them. This movement spread very quickly. In Rome Tertullian joined into it and left the Church in 207. It ended by the fifth century. Maximilla said: “after me there will be no prophecy but the end”.

(vi) Manichaeism

Trinitarian Heresies

In the first century there was no dispute about the doctrine of Trinity. But when it was explained some went astray in the second century.

1. Dynamic Monarchianism or Adoptionism

Monarchianism appeared as a continuation of Jewish monotheism treating the Father Son and the Holy Spirit merely as powers of one god in the Judaic sense of the word. So it is the unique divine person who was manifested in Jesus Christ. Mons=alone arkho=rule.

According to Adoptionism Christ is a mere man, but God’s power operative in him in a special way at baptism. Therefore it denied the divinity of Christ. The first exponent of this doctrine was an educated leather merchant Theodotus of Byzantium who came to Rome about the year 190. According to him Christ was a mere man but had been filled with the power of god at baptism. Thus Christ was divine only in a wide sense. He tried to prove from Scripture t that Jesus until his baptism led a life of simple but very upright man on whom the Spirit of Christ then descended. Pope Victor (189-99) excommunicated him.

            Theodotus the Younger, a disciple of Theodotus of Byzantium taught that Melchizedech Was superior to Christ and the actual mediator between god and man.

            Paul of Samosata, the bishop of Antioch was its exponent in the East. According to him god is one in nature and in person. Christ is a mere man in whom the impersonal word (wisdom of god) dwelt as in a temple. Christ might therefore be looked upon as an adopted son of god. Hence it has got the name Adoptionism. In 269 Paul was condemned. His followers were also called Paulicians.

2. Modalist Monarchianism or Sabellianism

It denied the real distinction between the three divine persons. One god revealed in different ways or modi as Father Son and the Holy Spirit. Father suffered on the cross. For them Christ was really Father Himself appearing in a different way. From the identification of the father with the suffering Christ they are called Patripassionists or Modalists.

The first representative of this doctrine was Noetus from Smyrna in Asia Minor. According to him there is only one god who became man and suffered on the cross. He was condemned in 190.

Sabellius, another representative of this doctrine gave it a systematic character. He attributed to one godhead three modes of operation. Father expressed himself as Son and Spirit. As Father God was creator and law giver, as Son he was operative in Redemption as Spirit he conferred grace and sanctification. In Rome he had opposition from Hippolitus who criticised the pope Callistus of his laxity towards Sebellianism and declared himself antipope.

The Date of Easter

The Asiatic church celebrated Easter on 14 Nisan following the Johannean tradition But the Churches outside Asia especially Rome celebrated Easter on Sunday following the 14 Nisan. Pope Anacletus (155-166) asked the asiatics to conform to Roman usage. Bishop Polycarp of Smyrna journeyed to Rome and persuaded the pope to drop his demand. But he did not agree. Pope Victor (189-199) renewed the request of Anicetus and he ordered to hold synods to settle the question. All churches except Asia led by bishop Polycratus of Ephesus sided Rome. Pope then excommunicated Asian church. It was a severe measure. Eventually the Asians also accepted the Roman custom. In 325 – council Nicea I – it was decided that Naster was to be celebrated on the first Sunday after the full moon after the Spring Equinox (March 21). The difference in the date showed a difference in the concept of Easter. Those who celebrated it on Sunday were commemorating the Resurrection, the others regarded Easter as a commemoration of redemption (Death and Resurrection).

The Schism of Novatus and Novatian

After the persecution the apostates and the compromised created a serious problem. There was a dispute with regard to the readmission of the apostates. In Africa bishop Cyprian had to face the laxity of certain clergy Novatus was its leader. Cyprian wrote a strong exhortation De Unitate on the authority responsibility and solidarity of the bishops. In Rome the church faced a rigoristic movement under the learned priest Novatian (once strong supporter of Cyprian) who declared himself antipope to Cornelius (251-253). He rejected the readmission of the lapsed. A Roman synod excommunicated Novatian. Novatian formed a new church which demanded rebaptism from those who obeyed the pope. The Novatians built up a network of small congregations calling themselves cathari (pure ones) to distinguish themselves from other churches. Novatian made great propaganda by sending his followers to different parts of the world and he consecrated bishops. In Africa Cyprian opposed him. Novatus the leader of lax party joined Novatian. They had only one thing in common, i.e., the opposition to lawful authority. This schism lasted for two centuries more Novatian died in the persecution of Valerian about 258.

Rebaptism of Heretics

Here is the question is about the Christians who had been baptized in some heretical or schismatical sects. According to Tertullian a heretic could not validly baptize. Three garthagian synods (220 255 256) and two Asia Ninor synods (230) followed his opinion. Cyprian also shared this opinion.

Pope Stephen (254 257) considered Cyprian’s view an innovation and asserted that according to tradition heretics who are converted have only to be reconciled by laying on of hands but do not have to receive baptism. So baptism by heretic was valid. Dionisius of Alexandria shared Rome’s view. The Africans bishops supported Cyprian. Steaphen threatened them with excommunication. But disputes were forgotten in the presence of the persecution of Valerian under whom Stephen was martyred. Cyprian was martyred in 258.


Manichaeism claimed to be the most universal of all religions and promised true redemption to all nations. Its founder is Mani or Manes a Persian. Until recent discoveries our information about it was from its opponents (Cyril of Jerusalem, Augustine, etc.). Writings on Manichaeism were discovered in 1900 and 1930. In 1900 some texts of Manichaeism were discovered from the caves of Turfan in the Chinese province of Turkestan. They were written in Parthian or Persian and contain fragments from Mani’s book of Giants liturgical documents certain confession formularies a type of catechism and dogmatic texts. In 1930 there discovered a Manichaean library in Medinet Madi in Upper Egypt which contain letters and sermons of Mani (Homilies) fragments of a text book of Manichaeism (Kephalia) and an important large volume of Psalms. These texts are translated from Syriac into Coptic about 400.

Details of Manichaeism from the new findings

The founder Mani was born on 14 April 216 in Selucia Ctesiphon from a family related to the princely family of Arsacids. During his life in Babylonia he came in touch with all shades of religion practised there (Mandasans, Mazdaism, etc.).

In 240 Mani received the revelation that he was destined to be the missionary and herald of a new religion. He believed that his mission was the continuation of that of Zoroaster, Budha and Jesus and he was the supreme revealer in whom the total truth was made manifest.

Mani came to India and preached in the province of Beluchistan. Then he returned to Persia and won the favour of the king Shapur (241 273) who allowed him to spread his doctrines throughout the kingdom of Sassanid. During the reign of the king Bahram I he met opposition from the magi and was put to death in 277. His followers described the manner of his death as crucifixion but the term was meant only his martyr’s death for his beiief (Handbook of CH. HIS, p.262). Following this event his followers fled to west India, China and persisted till 14th century.

Writings of Manichaeism

1. The Great Gospel from Alpha to Tau. It is an album of pictures.

2. Treasure of life.

3. The book of mysteries (24 Chapters).

4. His letters.


Mani preached a radical dualism concerning God. There are two highest Beings or Principles of equal rank: one of Light and the other of Darkness. Both are unbegotten, eternal, had equal power, irreconcilable. The reign of Light or Good lies in the north and of the Darkness or Evil in the south. The realm of light is ruled by a king called Father of Greatness, of evil by the Prince of Darkness who commands numerous demons. There arose a conflict between the two. The Father of greatness created the first man with his five sons who went out to battle with the reign of Darkness but was conquered by evil. The first man then begged the Father of Greatness for help. The Father emitted from himself after a series of intermediately emanations, the living spirit who freed the first man from evil and redeemed him.

Man is a mixture of light and darkness. As soon as he is aware of it his redemption begins. The Father of Light helps him for it. For, he sent heralds of true religion to earth, who taught correct knowledge. They are Buddha in India, Zoroaster in Persia, Jesus in Judea and Mani is the last one. The first three did not establish their message in writing consequently their religion especially christianity quickly fell into pieces or were falsified. Mani preached the highest and perfect gnosis. The rejection of it is the refusal of salvation. His religion is universal and it comprises all earlier religions but is beyond them.

Manichaean Ethics

Manichaeans abstained from everything which links men to matter. The perfect manichaean renounces this world. He binds himself by the triple seal of the mouth hands and womb. Man would find salvation through the doctrine of these three seals.

1. Seal of mouth- signaculum oris- one refrains from impure words and pleasure.

2. Seal of hands- signaculum manuum- One rejects the menial works.

3. Seal of womb- signaculum. Sinus- One rejects marriage and practices absolute sexual continence.

On account of the strict ethics there was a division among them:

1. Electi- those who bind themselves by the triple seal

2. Hearers- Audientes- Catechumens- They serve the elect and give them food and clothing. They hope to be born sometime in the body of an elect and attain salvation.

Hearers were obliged to Mani’s Ten Commandments:

1. To avoid idolatry

2. To avoid lying

3. To avoid greed

4. To avoid murder

5. To avoid adultery

6. To avoid theft

7. To avoid bad teachings

8. To avoid witchcraft

9. To avoid religious doubt

10. To avoid laziness.

They would ultimately join the elect in heaven after a series of purifying incarnations in the next life. Unbelievers would wander about till the end of time and would then be cast into hell.

The structure of the Manichaean church

Their hierarchy is consisted of:

1. Supreme head- He is the head of the apostles or king of the religion. His residence is in Babylon. Mani is the first head.

2. Twelve apostles

3. 72 bishops (teachers of truth)

4. 360 priests

5. Deacons (electi). They are men and women.

6. Hearers- lowest grade.

They had rites resembling baptism and Eucharist. Their only feast was that of Mani’s execution and entry into heaven. They had given a high rank to Jesus but did not recognize God of OT as God of light. Manichaeans could not be members of other religions. St. Augustine was a Manichaean once. A crusade was proclaimed against Manichaeism by pope Innocent III in 1208. By the 14th century the last heirs of Manichaeism had been finally suppressed by the inquisitions.

2. Persecution

During the first decades history of the Church there was no hostility towards the christians from the part of the Roman empire. The emperors intervened in the conflicts between the Jews and the christians and protected the latter whom they viewed as politically harmless. But there was hostility from the part of the Jews and the pagans.

The Jews hated the christians, because the Jewish christians were considered apostates. Secondly, the Jews accused the christians of sexual immorality in their nocturnal meetings, of revolting practices in their religious worship.

            The pagans hated the christians on account of the aversion of the christians from everything connected with pagan worship. Secondly, the christians considered their God as the only true God and redeemer of the world. Thirdly, the christians out themselves off absolutely from their pagan surroundings and they were considered enemies of the classical culture.

            Besides, the christians had to face the opposition of the intellectuals.  The Jewish historian Flavius Joseph did not give a prominent position to Christ. In the middle of 2 C. some even wrote against christianity, Celsus wrote the Mary was a prostitute, and the repudiation of Christ was a myth. The epicurean philosopher Lucian ridiculed christianity causes of Persecution

1. We should not look upon every roman emperor or governor, under whose rule the christians were put to deathm as a man who persecuted them in blind rage solely because of faith.

2. the initiative for reprisals against the christians did not come primarily from th e state authorities.  It was contrary to the principles of roman religious policy to proceed with the power of the state against the adherents of a religious movement solely because of their belief.

It is true that the emperor cult slowly became an essential component of the state religion. But the conscious rejection of emperor worship on the part of the christians was seldom the motive for proceedings against them by the state in the 1C. The pagan state power took notice of the special character of the christianity only because of the disturbances that occurred between the christians and Jews or pagans. Then it stepped to control it. Only then the authorities become convinced that the religious peace was being disturbed by the christians who constituted a treat to the religious policy of the empire. Therefore, the primary cause of persecution was rather the claim to absoluteness made by the christians religion itself. The second cause was the hostile attitude of the pagan population

The source for the history of the persecutions is the account of the christians. A detailed history of persecution from the pagan point of view does not exist. The number of the persecutions was said to have been ten which prefigured in the ten plagues of Egypt.

            In 59 A D. Paul was brought before the Roman procurator Porcius Festus. This was the first occasion when a Roman state power was concerned with a Christian. He was brought before the Roman authority because of his claim to be Roman citizen. Proceedings ended with an acquittal. Here Paul’s religion was not regarded as offending against the existing laws or public orders.

The antichristian attitude may be dated to the beginning of Claudius’ reign (41-54). Actually it was not directly against the christians, but against the Jews. The emperor’s order affected the christians who were converted from Judaism. Eg.1. Order forbidding the Jews in Alexandria to invite thither fellow countrymen from Syria or Egypt. 2. Expulsion of Jews from Rome because of conflict among themselves.

I. Nero (54-68)

            The earliest example of the persecution of the christians by the Roman authority was the persecution after the burning of the City under Nero in 64, Tacitus in his ‘Annales’ reports that there was persistent rumour circulating among the people that Nero himself was responsible for the conflagration on 16 July 64, which destroyed several districts of the City completely and others in part. To get rid of this suspicion, the emperor diverted it onto the Christians, “who on account of their misdeeds were hated”. Some men, who had been arrested and charged, were bribed to denounce the Christians as the actual culprits. Therefore the christians were arrested in large numbers and executed. Some christians were sewn into the skins of animals and thrown to wild dogs, others were clothed in inflammable materials and used as living torches after dark in Nero’s gardens which he threw open to the public for spectacle. Tacitus though against the christians and believed that they deserved punishments on account of their crimes, reported that they were unjustly accused of arson. His report shows that at Rome in the seventh decade of first century there had been a considerable number of the christians. (ingene multitudo). It is clear that the motive of the precaution by Nero was not his belief that the  christians constituted a threat to the state. In carrying out his plan he made use of the hostile attitude of the population towards the christianity, but he was not aiming at the christian faith as such. Later christian apologists generally regarded him as the first Roman emperor who persecuted christians from religious motives. Lactantius says that Nero’s objective was the complete extirpation of christianity.

The christian writer who mentioned the events under Nero was Clement of Rome. Without naming Nero directly he says that not only did Peter and Paul suffer a violent death, but also a great number of the elect among them women, had died after cruel tortures.

            Lactantius is the only writer who says that the persecution under Nero included the whole Roman empire. This is improbable, for other sources are silent on this matter. Some assumed that a general edict of persecution was issued by Nero. No source speaks of a persecution in the East. Besides in the beginning of sixties christianity was not an important religion that the state should take legal measures against them. No later Roman authorities did base their attitude. Nero’s action had no legal foundation, but sprang from the arbitrary will of the ruler who thereby hoped to cleanse himself from the suspicion of arson. Nevertheless Nero’s persecution influenced the public to have a feeling against the christians. From that time on, to be a christian was to be an outlaw in the eyes of the people. In the future the state could find support from the public opinion to face the question whether the state should take action against the christians or tolerate them. Slowly this view if christianity acquire force of a principle of law by which the legal position q f the christians in the empire was largely determined.

2 Domitian (81-96)

            Melito Sardes in his apologia for the emperor Marcus Aurelius mentions Domitian as an opponent of christianity In his letter to the Corinthians Pope Clement refers to the persecutions that had prevented him from writing them sooner. Epictetus a non christian says that the christians went foolishly and thoughtlessly to their death. Dio Cassius reports that the consul Flavius Clemens and his wife Domittilla had been accused and condemned on account of godlessness and with them many others who favoured Jewish practices. The accusation of godlessness makes intelligible  the motive behind Domitian’s action. It was the emperor’s claim to absoluteness for his own person expressed in the emperor cult.

The extent of persecution and the number of its victims: The words of Dio Cassius “many others” refer to good number of Christians. As to the extent of persecution we do not have any source. It is said that Domitian persecuted the christians towards the end of his reign, because the christians refused to pay temple tax and pay homage to him.

3 Trojan (98-117)

The correspondence between the emperor and his governor of Bithynia, Pliny the younger, helps us to understand the attitude of the Roman authority towards christianity at the beginning of the second century. The governor asks the emperor officially what principle he should follow in certain border line cases when dealing with the christians. This shows clearly that in the Asiatic province, numerous christians were denounced to the authorities as christians, tried and examined, and if they remained true to faith executed. The emperor answered the governor in the form of a rescript it is called the rescript of Trajan.

            Pliny informs the emperor about the situation of the Christian religion in his province. He was concerned with the christians because many of them did not obey the imperial decree banning the hectairies, associations unrecognized by the state. These Christinas were denounced to the governor sometimes even anonymously. He examined them and then ordered then with threats of death penalty to give up their religion. Only when they obstinately persisted in it did he have them put to death with the exception of those who were Roman citizens who were transported to Rome.

The letter of Pliny shows that he was unaware of any law or decree of the state as a norm in the proceedings against the christians. So he asks: Does the mere name of christian suffice as grounds for persecution or must other crimes be proved? Trajan’s answer confirms that there was no general law regulating proceedings against the christians. He did not establish a universally valid norm but gave certain directions:


1. Christians were not to be sought out.

2. Anonymous accusations were to be ignored

3. Denounce christian should be examined

4. If denied christianity, he was not punished

5. If on examination one confessed christianity and persisted in it, he was to be punished.

No christian lost life in Bithynia, but two bishops Simon of Jerusalem (crucified at the age of 120) and Ignatius of Antioch (thrown to the wild beasts in 110) were put to death.

4. Hadrian (117-138)

In answer to a letter of the proconsul of Asia Proconsularis asking the directions in the dealings with the christians, Hadrian gave certain directions. He reaffirmed the norms of Tvajan. He condemned anonymous denunciations of christians. Only when someone vouched with his name for the accusations was a christian to be brought to trial, and only when it could be proved that the accused “had offended against the laws” was the governor to pronounce sentence according to the gravity of the offence. So christians could be punished only if they could be proved to have committed crimes against the existing laws of the state. Hadrian does not indeed exclude the possibility of prosecution for merely being a christian, but he appears to have demanded proof that the accused had offended against Roman law So the rescript of Hadrian was only a guidance. But Nomen Christianum itself was worthy of punishment. No martyrdom was mentioned under Hadrian.

5. Antonius Pius (138-161)

            Under Antonius Pius there was a change in the relation between christianity and the Greco-Roman world.  Formerly christianity was linked with Judaism and christians were persecuted in connection with the conflict between Judaism and the empire. Then christianity was considered a Jewish heresy. Gradually christians began to appear to pagans as a different group, as curious be a who disturbed peace by their magical powers etc.

Martyrdoms: three christians at Rome (ref. Justin the martyr Bishop Polycarp of Smyrna was condemned to death at the stake and burnt in the theatre.

A survey of the Persecution from Nero to Antoniua Pius

1. There was no general law that governed the attitude of the state towards the christians.

2. Out of the hostile attitude of pagans, there developed an opinion: “beingchriatgian is incompatible with the Roman way life”.

3. This formed a maxim: adherence to christianty is a crime, and can be punished.

4. Persecutions during this period were local and sporadical.

5. The number of victims was relatively small.

6. Marcus Aurelius (161-180)

            Some writers ascribed to Aurelius an edict favourable to the christians. But this is not true. He despised the christians in his heart. In 176-177 he issued an edict which could be indirectly employed against the christians (introduction of an unknown cult). Melito Sardes, Athanagoras, etc. say: the christians were hunted, robbed and persecuted. Their report was confirmed by a series of individual martyrdoms in the empire. In Rome the philosopher Justin and a group of the christians were put to death between 163 and 167 after a trial. Eusebius speaks of the martyrdom of three bishops in the East between 160 and 170. Bishop Dionisius of Corinth speaks of the martyrdom of the bishop of Athens Publios (161-170) in his letter to the church of Athens. Bishop Sergius of Laodicea was executed about the year 164, also bishop Thraseus of Eumenia, and a group of christians from Pergamum.

In the summer of 177 when the representatives of all Gaul were assembled in Lyons for the festival of the imperial cult the popular rage suddenly vented itself on the christians who were accused of atheism and immorality. The mob drove a group of christians into the market place. There were examined and sent to prison. During the trial ten christians abjured their faith, the rest were condemned to death. Before execution they were cruelly tortured. Bishop Potheimos of Lyons died in gaol after brutal ill-treatment, the others were thrown to wild beasts. The bodies of the executed were not handed over to the families for burial, but were burnt and the ashes scattered in the Rhone. The number of victims was about fifty. Sometimes the christians were sentenced to forced labour in the mines instead of death.


1. Public opinion against the Christians, eg. Lyons.

2. General discontent of the population. The endless compaigns of emperor laid many burdens on the people the constant threat of hostile invasion irritated the people at frontier. People were aggravated by natural disasters such as overflowing of the Tiber and the outbreak of plague. Its result was organized massacre (pogroms). The absence of the christians at the ceremonies of propitiation to avert the pestilence caused popular anger.

3. The opposition of the church to the pagan culture and the Roman state became a parent in the background of the disputes with the Gnostics.

4. The montanist movement. Their exalted desire for martyrdom and fanatical refusal of everything pagan.

Commodus, son of Aurelius, (180-192) was tolerant towards christians. Christians held influenced offices at his court. It was due to the influence of his wife Marcia though not baptized had friendly relations with the christians of Rome.

A survey of the persecution under Aurelius shows that the attitude developed under Trajan still continued. Christians were condemned only when they were denounced to the authorities. And the profession of christian faith sufficed for their condemnation.

7. Septimus Severus (193-211)

He was the founder of the Syrian dynasty. Tertullian says: the emperor publicly demonstrated his good will towards individual christians. Christians held influenced positions at court. The first ten years of his reign were peaceful the bishops could even freely meet in synods to discuss the question on Easter date about the year 196.

In 202 he changed his attitude to christianity. He issued an imperial edict forbidding conversion to Judaism to christianity under pain of heavy penalties The activities of the church was supervised by police. This edict hindered the missionary work.

The reason to publish this edict: Severus realized that christians would become a universal organized religion and would be a threat to the state. So he wanted to hinder further growth of the church. The refusal of some christians to do military service strengthened him in his conviction that the christians were dangerous to the maintenance of the order of the state.

In Alexandria and Carthage where there were large christian communities the persecution affected catechumens and newly baptized persons, for they particularly transgressed the new edict.  The teachers of christian school of Alexandria were compelled to leave the town in 202. Six pupils of Origen who were working there were executed (two of them catechumens). In 203 a group of catechumens were arrested and were heriocly suffered martyrdom. eg. Perpetua, her slave Felicitas, etc.

Christians as individuals were persecuted. Three christians of Carthage were condemned to death at the stake another died in prison. Augustine refers to the martyrdom of Gudentius in 203. Tertullian wrote a work: “To the martyrs” addressed to the christians in prison (197). He refers to the flight of the christians including clergy to escape arrest some obtained safety by bribing the police.

Christians were brought from other places to Alexandria and were executed. Among them were Leonidas, father of Origen, the virgin Potamiaina, her mother Marcella, soldier Basilides, etc. Some find the coming approach of antichrist in the persecution of Severus. In Cappadocia the governor persecuted the christians because of the conversion of his wife to the new faith.

From 211 to 249 was a period of religious toleration. It was inaugurated by Garacalla (211-217). In 212 he granted Roman citizenship to all free men in the empire. His successors Heliogabelus (218-222) and Severus Alexander (222-235) followed the same method Maximus (235-238) changed the policy since his reign was short, nothing happened. Philippus Arabo (244-248) was sympathetic towards the christians.

            A survey of persecution in the first half of the third century shows that there were phases of really a peaceful coexistence and sometimes of positive toleration. Only twice (Septimus Severus and Maximus) a systematic policy against christianity was observed.

8. Decius (249-251)

One of the cruel Persecutions of christianity. In Dec 249 itself he ordered to arrest christians. In 250 Jan. bishop Fabian of Rome was put to death. In 250 he issued a general edict summoning all on the empire to take part in a general sacrifice to the gods- a supplicatio. This was to invoke the protection of gods for the well-being of the empire. Commissions were set up to see the sacrifice was performed and to issue everyone a certificate or libellus. Before a certain date the libellus was to be exhibited to the authorities. Anyone refusing to sacrifice was thrown into prison and was tortured. This was a serious attack on the church.

What was the motive of such a decree? The opportunity to determine the exact number of the christians or the expectation of a mass return to the old state religion? The latter may be the motive. In Egypt and North Africa those who obeyed the edict far exceeded those who refuse it. Ref. Bishop Dionisius of Alexandria, Cyprian of Carthage. Origen who refers to the laxity says: the heroic days and former spirits have gone. In Alexandria some christians performed sacrifice some denied that they had even been christians still others fled. Many offered sacrifice on the point of arrest others endured a few days in prison refusing to sacrifice until they were due to appear in court some submitted only after torture. In North Africa some secured the certificate through bribery or other means. They were called libellatici. There were others called thurificati who offered incense. Those who offered a full sacrifice before the image of gods were called sacrificati. The number of lapsi was large. St. Gyprian speaks of two bishops in North Africa and many others who fell away. One of these bishops even persuaded the majority of his flock to offer sacrifice. He also speaks of two Spanish bishops who were libellatici.

In contrast to these there were christians in every province who were ready to die for their belief. Cyprian gives an account of it. He speaks of the christians in prison including many women and children who were ready to die for the faith. There were exemplary women among his clergy. Cyprian does not mention the name of all martyrs but only two, Lucianus and Gelarinus.

In Egypt bishop Dionisius speaks of fourteen martyrs, ten of them died at the stake and four by the sword. He mentions that many christians died of hunger and cold.

Bishop Alexander of Palestine, bishop Babylas of Antioch were put to death.  Origen died a martyr’s death after a cruel torture. In Asia Proconsularis five christians were put to death. Gregory of Nyssa speaks of the persecution in Pontus.

            The Decian persecution ceased rapidly. It was because of the departure of emperor for the Danubian provinces to fight against the Goths and his death on the battle field prevented its rapid resumption.

The Roman government gained no tangible and lasting success by this calculated and systematic attack on the church. Many of those who left faith, were received into the church, many libellatici were atoned for their fault by a new confession of faith.

Trebonius Gallus (251-253) arrested Cornelius, the head of the christian community in Rome and was exiled to Civita Vecchia where he died in 253.

9. Valerian (253-260)

In the first years of his reign he was well disposed towards the christians. His household was one of God’s communities. In the fourth year he changed his attitude and introduced a short but extremely harsh and violent persecution.

Dionisius of Alexandria blames Macrianus, emperor’s minister who may have suggested the idea of remedying the precarious financial state of the empire by confiscating the property of the wealthy christians. Valerian was probably also impelled by the threatening situation of the empire in general.

In 257 he issued a public edict ordering all bishops, priests and deacons to offer sacrifice to the gods. Any of them celebrating divine worship or holding assemblies in the cemeteries were to be punished with death. Bishops Cyprian and Dionisius were arrested and many christians in African provinces were condemned to forced labour in mines.

In 258 he issued another edict: It took further decisive step. Clerics who refused the sacrifice were to be immediately put to death. The leading laity was also included in this. Senators and members of the order of knights were to lose their rank and possessions. If they refused to offer sacrifice, they were executed and their wives were banished. The aim of this policy was to eliminate the clergy and the prominent members of the christian communities. Thus deprived of leaders christians were condemned to insignificance.

            Result: The victims were numerous especially among the clergy. Bishop Cyprian was beheaded. Pope Sixtus was put to death together with his deacons.  Bishop Dionisius of Alexandria was condemned to exile. Deacon Lawrence also was put to death also many others. Socrates says: Novatian also died during the reign of Valerian for his christian convictions. In Egypt and North Africa the number of victims was high.

            The persecution ceased with the tragic end of the emperor who was taken prisoner by the Persians in 259 and soon died.

A survey of the persecution of Valerian shows that the christians stood firm in faith. They met this trial with far more calm determination than they had displayed in the time of Decius.

Gallienus (260-268) issued an edict in favour of the christians. With this there began a period of glory and freedom (Eusebius). Places of worship were restored. Preaching and building new churches were allowed. It lasted fourty years.

10. Diocletian (284-305)

            During the period of peace (260-300) the christians enjoyed freedom of belief, worship and preaching (Eusebius). But it was not a guarantee for a permanent tolerance (freedom) because no law defended the christians. Even during this period a christian could be denounced and suffer persecution. Even Eurelian (270­75) prepared an edict of persecution and its application was prevented by his sudden death.

In the first years of his reign Diovletian was tolerant towards the christians. He had christians as high officials. His wife and daughter had inclination towards christianity. For 18 years Diocletian was busy with the reforms and the defence of the empire. He did not want to molest the christians because he had unity and security of the empire at his heart.

In 297 Diocletian divided the empire into two, keeping the last where he lived for himself. He put his colleague Maximian in charge of the West with its headquarters in Milan. He further divided the empire into four prefectures, thirteen dioceses and 101 provinces. Each emperor had an assistant with the title of Caesar. The emperors would rule for twenty years and then they would be succeeded by their respective caesars. Diocletian received Galerius, Maximian took Constantius. Each had separate court and was responsible for each one section. But there remained only one empire and all decrees had to be signed by four rulers.

                                                            Illyricum                                  -Diocletian-emp.

East Nicomedia C.      Asia Minor Orient                   -Galerius-Caes.

Roman Empire 297                             Italia                                        -Maximian-emp.

West Milan C.             Gallia                                       -Constantius-Caes.

            After having finished the reform in the empire, Diocletian turned towards the christians and violently persecuted them. The causes: Lactantius in one place says that Galerius persuaded Diocletian, in another place he names Hierocles as originator and adviser of Diocletian. But most probably Diocletian persecuted the christians with his full freedom and personal responsibility. He was convinced that christianity was against his work of reconstruction of the empire.  Perhaps Galerius and Hiercles might have confirmed him in the line. The hostility of the people and the educated to christianity also recommended this.

In 300 Diocletian published a decree ordering all soldiers to offer sacrifice to the gods or to leave the army. Then in 303 February he published an edict (I Edict) in the name of four rulers:

1. To destroy all christian places of worship

2. To surrender and burn all the sacred books

3. To forbid all the assemblies for divine worship

4. To degrade the christians.

As a result of this christians were enslaved and they lost their privileges and ranks. In the meantime a fire broke out in the imperial palace in Nicomedia. Galerius blamed the christians. It followed a persecution. A church was demolished, a certain christian (Euethios) who tore the edict was soon executed. Then distinguished christians were forced to offer sacrifice to gods. Even his wife and daughter had to do it. Many clerics were also persecuted. Bishop Anthimus was executed. There were also people who left the faith.

In 303 itself Diocletian published the second edict ordering to rob the christian communities. Eusebius speaks of the situation. The prisons were filled with bishops, priests, deacons etc.

In the same year (303) another edict was published which contained the detailed proceedings against the clergy. Any one who offered sacrifice could be free and those who refused it would suffer torture and death.

The fourth edict was published in 304 which inaugurated one of the cruelest persecutions. It imposed sacrifice to gods an all without exception. Its refusal would bring cruel persecution. Six or seven million christians suffered. The list of martyrs is endless: St. Sebastian, Pancratius, Agnes, pope Marcelline, etc.

In 305 Diocletian and Maximian, the two emperors abdicated according to the norm of Diocletian, i.e., 20 years of reign. In the West Constantius Chlorus became the emperor and his Caesar was Severus. In the East Galerius became emperor and his caesar was Maximinus Daia. In 306 Constantins died and his son Constantine became the emperor. In 307 Maximian, the former emperor of the West declared himself and his son Maxentius, co rulers of the I Italian prefecture having deposed Severus. In 310 Maxentius deposed his father.  But in 312 Constantine degeated Maxentius.   It is known as the Milvian Bridge Battle on 28 October 312.

On 30 April 311 Galerius published the edict of toleration in the name of four rulers ordering the cessation of persecution. It is stated that the earlier measures were for the good of the state and to restore the old Roman laws and manner of life. By this Christians were permitted to exist and to hold their religious assemblies provided that they do nothing disturbing the public order. They were asked to pray to their God for the welfare of the empire, the emperor and themselves. This tolerance opened to the christians the gate to a brighter future.

Galerius was succeeded by Licinius who followed the method of toleration, but his caesar Maximinus Daia renewed persecution. He made use of the following methods:

1. False propaganda against the christians

2. Petitions of pagans to emperor and his rescripts were published in towns

3. Arrested many christian and imposed death punishment.

But towards the end of 312 Maximinus Daia also changed his hostile attitude, but the christians did not believe him.

Emperor Constantine and the liberation of the Church

Constantine was born in 285. He was the son of Constantius and Helena.  A few years after his birth, his father left Helena and married Theodora, step daughter of Maximian. His family had positive relations with the christian circles. It is clear from the christian names in their family.

In 306 Constantine became emperor following the death of his father. On 28 October 312 he defeated Maxentius in the battle of Milvian Bridge. This event marked the turning point in Constantine’s attitude towards christianity. It is said that some time before the battle Constantine saw in bright day light a cross in the sky with the Greek words, “In this sign thou shalt conquer“. And the following night Christ appeared to him with the cross and told him to have it copied and to carry it as protection in war. This is the version of Eusebius. But Lactsntius says that Constantine had a dream exhorting to put God’s heavenly sign on the shields of the soldiers and give the battle.

In 313 Constantine and Licinius discussed the new political situation when they met at Milan to celebrate the marriage between Licinius and Constantia, his sister. On that occasion Constantine published the edict of Milan (313) which a new era for the christians began. The clergy were exempted from military service. Bishops were given civil jurisdiction. Permission was given to build churches.  However Licinius did not shoe much favour towards the christians. By 320 he exerted pressures on the christians, put restrictions on freedom of worship and preaching. He closed the places of worship, arrested bishops and priests and condemned them to death.

Constantine accomplished his new religious policy in three stages:

1. 312-320. During this period he hardly touched paganism, but exalted the church with increasing energy.

2. 320-330. In this stage he brought the church into public life and attacked polytheism. In 321, July 2, he declared Sunday as national holiday. In 324 he defeated Licinius, but spared his life at the request of Constantia and assigned Thessalonica as his place of detention. Later Licinius was executed for treasonable plot. Sunday was dedicated to god sun.  Constantine raised that day to the rank of a festival. Christians were appointed to the higher administrative posts of the empire. Constantine presented to Militiades, bishop of Rome, the palace of the family of the Laterani, the property of his wife. He arranged for the building of the Lateran basilica. In 325 he convoked the first ecumenical council at Nicea. On that occasion he celebrated the 20th anniversary of his reign. On 18 September 324 he began to rebuild the old Byzantium. On 17 May 330 he inaugurated the capital in Constantinople and celebrated the 25th year of his rule.

3. 330 338. The final stage. He broke all relations with the old religion. On 15 July 335 he celebrated the 30th year of his rule. He died in 338. He received baptism at his death bed from an Arian bishop.

The forces that drove Constantine to do these things:

1. His revolutionary character. Julian speaks of Constantine: “a wicked innovator and tamperer with the time hallowed laws and the sacred ethical traditions of our fathers”. He aimed at unification and promoted uniformity in the church.

2. His christian conviction. This conviction was not mild and gentle as in the spirit of the gospels. He conceived of God as being as quick to wrath as he himself was.

3. His fear of God

4. A true consciousness of his mission. The emperor and kings of the ancient world believed that they had a divine mission and they are elected and protected by the gods. Constantine chose his god for himself and his choice was sealed by a vision.  He was convinced that he was called to become a prophet.

5. Iron will to rule. In the service of faith it was an irresistible force. In 314 in his address to the synod of Arles he called himeelf famulus Dei.

Constantine was extoled as new Moses and the apostle of of God. Paintings and statues showed him the protector of the christian religion. He felt himself to be bishop of all mankind, a God -appointed pope (cf. Eusebius). He felt himself that he stood on the same rank as the apostle of the Lord. At his express wish he was buried in the new capital as the thirteenth apostle with cenotaphs of the Disciples of Christ (Sepulchral monument to persons buried elsewhere) six and six, to right and left of his grave (Eusebius). Constantine died in 338.

From the liberation of the Church to the synod of Trullo (692)

After the liberation of the church in 313, the emperors considered themselves heraids of the new religion. Emperor Gratian (374-383 West) renounced the title and trappinas of Pontifex Maximus and removed the alter to the goddess Victory from the senate. Emperor Theodosius the Great (379-395 East) imposed Nicean creed as the official belief of his subjects in 380. He issued a series of decrees in favour of the christians and declared pagan sacrifice high treason. His successors Arcadius (395-408), Theodosius II (408-450) continued the work of complete eradication of paganism. St. Pulcheria, sister of Theodosius Il had infiuenced the latter for it. By the middle of 5th c. the number of pagans had been very much reduced. Marcian 450 -457, Leo 1 457-474, Zeno 474-518, Justine 518-527 Justinian 1 527- 565.

The eastern part of the Roman empire reached the height of its splendour under Justinian. He with his wife Theodora wanted to restore the old empire in its fulness. But he did not succeed completely. He is known for his codification of Roman canon law. It was a masterpiece that surpassed all previous efforts in comprehensiveness, clority and order. Most of the European countries even today had the influence of Justinian Code. Justinian commonded all pagans to be baptized under pain of confiscation of all their goods and the privation of civil rights. The result of it was 70000 conversions in Asia Minor.

Justinian code   529, Justin II 565- 578, Tiberius 11 578 -582, Maurice 582 -602, Phocas 602 -610, Heraclius 610 -641

Decline of Byientine Empire

After Justinian the empire began to decline. The Lombards took most parts of Italy. The Avars also threatened the empire from north, the Persions attacked from the East in 570 and came up to Chalcedon. Chosroes 11 (589-628) took Asin Minor, Syria, Palestine and most of Egyrt and sent an ultimatum to Emperor Heraclius in 610 demanding the surrender of Conotantinople. In 610, after having commeded himself to God he declared a crusade against the Persians. After nine years fighting he achieved the purpose, but both parties were weakened and by the 7th c. most of their disputed territories were taken by the Mohemedans.  The Perdisn Empire disappeared and Constantinople was diminished.


Arius under whose name this heresy has come tuto the Church history, was a priest in the church of Alexandria. He had his theological formation.probably at the school of Antioch and was a pupil of the Antiochene priest Lucian. He was ordained in 310 and was pastor in Baucalis in Alexandria.

From 318 through 319 Arius expounded in his sermons and teaching an idea of the Logos and his relation to the Father, for which he found a considerable following within his congregation, in a part of the clergy, and especially among the consecrated virgins; whereas others decisively rejected it. His bishop Alexander decided to examine it in a theological discussion in which both sides could express and justify their ideas. Arius stated that “the Son of God was created out of nothing (nonbeing), that there was a time when he did not exist, that, according to his will, he was capable of evil as well as of virtue, and that he is a creature and created”. His opponents insisted on the consubstantiality and eternity of the Son with the Father. Alexander finally accepted the second view and ordered Arius never to propound his opinion again.

Since Arius resolutely refused to comply, Alexander excommunicated him and his clerical adherents. Arius did not intend to recognize the excommunication and leave the church; instead, he wanted to bring his ideas to victory within the Church. He knew that outside Egypt also there was no unanimous opinion in this theological question, and a considerable part of the episcopate sympathized with his theses. He found protection of Bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia and Eusebius of Caesarea (for a short time). Bishop Alexander summoned, probably in 319, a synod of all Egypt­apparently 100 bishops. He made known the result of their deliberations in an encyclical to all the bishopd of the Catholic Church: Arius and his supporters in the Egyptian and Libyan clergy were excluded from the church, because of their “errors which dishonoured Christ”.

Bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia consoled Arius “You think correctly, but pray that all may think in the same way”. Arius had meanwhile left Egypt and finally-after a brief stay with Eusebius of Caesarea -arrived in Nicomedia which now became a center of Arian propaganda. In 320 Eusebius convoked a synod at Bithynia and sent a circular to all bishops which called for the restoration of ecclesiastical communion with those who had been condemned, since they were orthodox; piessure should be put on Alexander to receive them back. Arius drew up a profession of faith according to which only the Father is eteraal, he alone is without beginning, but the Son is God’s perfect creature, he does not possess his being together with the Father, since the Father existed before the Son. He wrote a book entitled Thalia or Banquet, a mixture of prose and verse, in which he recruited for his ideas in popular form.

Bishop Alexander sent circulars and letters to all bishops about the heresy of Arius. Pope Silvester was also informed of the events in Alexandria and of the excommunication glexandrians clerics. (Ephiphanius was acquainted with a collection of some seventy letters of Alexander relating to is matter). It was also known to emperor Constantine, probably through the bishops of the East, and it seems that he was not informed about the entire seriousness or about the theological significance of the quarrel.

Bishop Hosius of Cordoba, the episcopal adviser of Constantine, came to Alexandria to reconcile Arius with his bishop and to stop all public discussion of the controverted point. But it was not at all practicable. He went back to Nicomedia to report to the emperor on the failure of his mission. Soon both understood that there was only one possible way of restoring peace to the church: to summon the entire episcopate of the church to a great synod. The early sources all attribute to Constantine the initiative for this solution. The synod took place at his command.

The invitations to the bishops specified Nicaea in Bithynia as the place of meeting and May 325 as the date for beginning the deliberations. The number of the participants in the council is not clearly established. Busebius says there were more than 250; Athanasius, also an eyewitness, on one occasion gives the round figure of 300, but elsewhere he gives 318. Later historians uphold this laft number, especially since it had a biblical mystical prototype: Abraham’s troop of retainers amounted to 318 (Gen.14,14). Only five bishops and two priests, Vitus and Vincent, representative of the pope, represented the West. There were theological experts -periti -like deacon Athanasius of Alexandria. The solemn opening took place on 20 May. 325.

The emperor addressed the assembly emphasizing peace and harmony within the Church. Then the doctrine of Arius was discussed and the Fathers condemned it. The council approved a creed (nicean Creed) which declared the Son to be consubstantialto the Father, true God and true man. After the adoption of the Creed, the Fathers took up the other points of the.  In the matter of the date of Easter they agreed on the practice of the greater part of the church, which celebrated the solemnity of the resurrection on the Sunday after 14 Nisan.

The council had a solemn and impressive closing. The emperor gave a splendid banquet for the council Fathers in his palace at Nicomedia. He gave them also presents and admonished them to maintain peace among themselves and recommended himself to their, prayers. Soon afterwards, he sent a comprehensive report on the Council “to the churches” not represented at Nicaea.

Nicaea I was the first council in history which possessed an ecumenical character since to it were invited bishops from all the geographical areas of christianity. The emperor convoked it and the bishop of Rome consented to him by sending his own representatives.

After the council two bishops, Eusebius of Nicomedia and Thegnis of Nicaea informed the emperor that they withdrew their assent to the creed of 325. The emperor sent these bishops into exile in Gaul and gave their former sees to prelates loyal to Nlcaea. But from the beginning of 328 a reversal in the emperor’s attitude began to appear concerning individual representatives of the pro-arian faction. In that year the exiled bishops Eusebius and Theognis were permitted to return from banishment and again occupy their former sees. Eusebius even gained emperor’s ear and favour and finally occupied the position of theological adviser of the emperor. It was due to the influence of Constantine’s stepsister, Constantia.

Soon after his return from exile, Eusebius energetically and methodically assumed the leadership of the Arian faction.  Instead of attacking the Creed, he wanted to eliminate the leading personalities of the opposition. Bishop Eustathius of Antioch was accused of immoral character and disturbor of religious.peace. At the synod of Antioch in 331 the friends of Arius deposed Eustathius whom the emperor exiled to Thrade. Eight bishops more were exiled. Then Arian party turned against Athanasius who had been elected to the see of Alexandria in 328.

Division in the Church

In the universal church there are two kinds of divisions: first one is according to the liturgicval rites.  Second one is according to the doctrinal differences.   The churches founded by the apostles professed the same faith, but developed adapting customs and traditions of the place.  Hernce diversity could be seen in explaining the faith and in their worship.  Thus different particular churches were formed with their own liturgical traditions.  The main liturgical rites are the following: Roma, Antiochean, Alexandrian, Byzentine, Chaldean, Armenian. 

These liturgical rites were developed centered on the early christian centers: Roman, Antioch, Alexandrian, Constantinople, Jerusalem, Persia, Armenia.  Out of these seven centers the first five were in the Roman Empire.

In 297 Emperor Diocletian (284-305) divided the empire into East and West for administrative purpose.  During the time of Constantine the empire came under one emperor, but again it was divided after the death of emperor Theodotius 1 (+395).  Thereafter the churches in the Eastern Empire were known as Eastern or Oriental churches –Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem and Constantinople. The churches outside the Rome empire-Persia, Armenia and India-also belonged to this group.  The Roman Church was the only Christian centre in the western empire and it was known as western church.  It is called Latin Church its liturgy being Latin. 

Division according to the doctrinal differences

In her very beginning there had been in the church of God certain rifts (1cor 11: 18; Gal 1:6). Such quarrels were condemned by St. Paul. They however, did not divide the church. In subsequent centuries More widespread disagreements appeared in the church and large communities became separated: from the full communion with the church. Such separations took place in 431, 451, 1054, 1517 and 1533.

1. Nestorian church

Nestorianism was born in the patriarchate Constantinople but grew in the soil of Persia.  Nestorius, an Antiochean monk, became patriarch of Constantinople in 428.  He taught that it was incorrect to refer to Bl. Vergin as mother of God (Theotokos), for she was mother only of the human element in Christ, not of his divine personality.  Hence he was accused of holding two persons in Christ. Reports about his teaching spread throughtout the empire. In his Easter circular and in a special pastoral letter, Cyril of Alexandria reacted to it. Both appealed to Rome. In 430 Pope Celestine in a Roman synod condemned Nestorian teaching. He wrote four letters: 1. to Nestorius to retract his teachings within ten days, 2. to the church of Constantinople, 3. to Bishop John of Antioch, 4. to Cyril of Alexandria appointing him papal legate to receive retraction of Nestorius.

Cyril drew up twelve propositions (anathamas) which Nestorius had to retract within ten days under pain of deposition. The phrase of Cyril in this like “one is the nature of the incarnate Word is heretic (monophysitism). Nestorius reacted by sending Cyril a set of twelve counter-anathamas.

Council of Ephesus 431. Emperor Theodosius II, in agreement with Pope Celestine (422- 432) convoked a general council at Ephesus on 22 June 431. 159 bishops attended the council. Nestorius was condemned and deposed. Shortly after the first session of the council the papal legates arrived and confirmed the decree against Nestorius. John of Antioch with 42 bishops came even later, distrustful of Cyril and Alexandrian theology, organized a pseudo-council and excommunicated Cyril as heretic and appealed to the emperor. Cyril on his part excommunicated John and his followers.

The emperor approved the decisions of both parties. Both Nestorius and Cyril were deposed. But later Cyril won the favour of emperor through the influence of his (emperor’s) sister Pulcheria and generous gifts. Nestorius was deposed and exiled to the Egyptian deserts where he died in 450. After two years of negotiations in 433 Cyril and John were reconciled.

The recent study on Nestorius shows that Nestorius was not a Nestorian and was unjustly condemned in the council of Ephesus. When we study Nestorianism we have to make distinction between the personal teaching of Nestorius, Nestorianism as historical teaching, and theoretical nestorianism.

1. The personal teaching of Nestorius.

Nestrius was accused of the following:

1. He proposed the   title Christotokos to Mary instead of theotokos. When Nestorius became patriarch of Constantinople therl.was a controversy about the title Theotokos. Some preferred to call Mary Anthropotokos. Then Nestorius proposed as a compromise the title Christotokos -mother of Christ. His criticism of Theotokos was well-intentional.  He was trying to conteract the abuse of the title by the Arians -who denied the divinity of Christ -for Arius (+335) taught that the Word is not eternal, but first and noblest of creatures -and Appollinarista (Acco. to Appollinaria of Laodicea 310-390, Christ was one person and had only on nature. The word was made fleah means that Christ took a body, not the word was made man. The Word which is consubstantial with God, is united to an incomplete humanity. In the composite being of Christ the Word plays either the role of soul in the body or that of the spirit in the body). But Nestorius disregarded the fact that the title Theotokos had a history of 200 years of orthodoxy. It was an expression of faith in the true divine sonship of Christ and was based on the Communicatio idiomatum = communication of properties. It is the attribution of properties of both natures of Christ, together or separately, to the same person in Christ. It is the first important consequence of the hypostatic union. The subject of attribution in Christ is the second person of the Holy Trinity, to whom both divine and human natures are belonging. As the natures so their properties too may be rightly attributed to the very same person.

2. Nestorius seems to speak of union in Christ as union of wills = moral union. He wanted to affirm the gratuity of order of salvation and that the union was according to the good pleasure of God. The term used was conjunction. He also wanted to say that the Incarnation was not out of necessity of nature (appollinaristic conception of Incarnation.

3. Nestorius was accused of holding doctrine of two persons in Christ. The terms used in the christology of Nestorius were the following:

1. Physis= nature in general

2. Ousia=nature in general

3. Hypostasis=person, nature

4. Prosophon=person.

The controversiat term is hypostasis which means person and an individual Perfect nature = the particular nature preserving the property. Nestorius used the term hypostasis in the meaning of individual perfect nature. So when he says that Christ has two hypostasis, he means that Christ has two natures preserving the nature of Godhead and that of manhood. If Christ had only one hypostasis, he is neither God nor perfect man. He has complete hypostasis like the Father and complete hypostasis like Abraham.

2. Nestorianisma as a historical reality Is the position of the bishops who rejected the union agreed upon by John of Antioch and Cyril of Alexandria in 433.  Here Nestorianism accepted two natures and two hypostases. It rejected Ephesus and communicatio idiomatum and the title Theotokos.

3. Theoretical Nestorianis is contrasted with Monophysitism which is equally theoreticl. It means that in Christ there are two persons and two natures.

Through nestorianism was born in Constantinople, it grew in Persia. The Persian Church had its origin in the first century itself. It was through the Jews that gospel reached there. There were Persians at Pentecost among those who had listened to St. Peter. They returned to Persia and spread the good news.

St. Thomas also preached gospel in some of the places of the Persian Roman Empire. Grigen speaks about the apostolate of St. Thomas in Persia. Now it is believed that St. Thomas preached in Mesopotamia (Persia proper), and his disciple Addai in Edessa and his disciple Mari in Seleucia Ctesiphon (cities on the either side of river Tigris). In all these places the medium of communication was Syriac because it was the commercial language of the Middle East.

2. Monophysite Church

Monophysitism is simply the extreme opposition of Nesorianism. Nestorianism is called after a man, but monophysitism is a definition of a heretical idea.  As soon as Nestorius began to divide Christ into two persons, his opponents began to insist on the unity of our Lord to such a degree that they confused his humanity with his divinity as one thing. They declared Christ one person with one nature. In Christ the humanity was absorbed in the divinity as a drop of wine would be in an ocean of water.

The first home of Monophysitism was Egypt. The phrase of Cyril “one nature incarnate of the Word of God” became their watchword. When Cyril reconciled with John of Antioch, some of his followers accused him of compromising with Nestorianism. They are the first monophysites. Cyril died in 444 and Dioscorus, his archdeacon succeded him.

The trouble began with Eutychus, superior of a monastery with 300 monks.He had influence at the royal court. He began to teach that Christ is not consubstantial with other men and had not the same nature as we have. At incarnation the two natures were fused into one. As soon as Eutychus began to propagate this new doctrine, the Eastern theologians opposed him. (Theodoret of Cyrus, Flavian, etc.).

In 446 in a synod at Constantinople, Eutychus was found guilty and was deposed and excommunicated. Eutychus then, wrote letters justifying his ideas, to the Pope, Dioscorus, etc. The emperor Theodosius decided to convoke a synod at Ephesus to revise the judgent of the synod of Constantinople. Pope Leo 1 (440-461) sent his legates with a dogmatic letter -Tome -which contained the catholic doctrine=our Lord is one person having two natures of God and of man; each nature is real, complete + perfect.

            The proposed council met on 8 August 449 at Ephesus.  The majority of the bishops present (350) were followers of Dioscorus. Dioscorus presided over the meeting and made the synod do all he wished. iutychus was declared innocent. Bishop Flavian and others were maltreated. Flavian died a few days afterwards. The papal legates were threatened and they signed the acts. Emperor approved the council. But Pope Leo in a local synod in Rome protested against the synod and declared it invalid. This synod is known as Robber Synod.

At pope’s wish Marcian, the successor of Theodosius convoked a council on 8 Oct. 451 at Chalcedon to settle the question of Our Lord’s nature. 630 bishops attended it. The papal legates presided. Dioscorus was condemned; the dogmatic letter of Leo was approved with the acclamation “Peter has spoken by Leo”. The doctrin of two natures and one person is defined. Those who did not accept Chalcedon are called Monophysites.

Was monophysitism – the heresy – the real motive of the monophysite quarrels? Many historians see in them a political motive, working under guise of a theological dispute. The christians of Egypt and Syria refused to accept thedecrees of Chalcedon and they sympathised with Dioscorus and saw in his deposition an attack on St. cyril and Ephesu. Egypt and Syria were the two provinces in the East. They were not really loyal to the empire. Both kept their own languages had ancient civilizations of their own. The emperor and his soldiers were foreigners to them. This feeling of patriotism and anti­imperialism made them to refuse a council which was convoked by the emperor and in which their patriarch was condemned and deposed.

Besides it was a matter of national honour to the Egyptians. Ephesus and Robber synod were a great triumph for them, where their patriarch had deposed the patriarch of Constantinople. But Chalcedon reversed the process. Pat.of Const. deposed their pat. So Egypt rose to defend its patriarch and persuaded Syria and Palastine to join them in the common cause against the emperor.

Chalcedon could not put an end to the problem raised by Eutychus. It started a long crisis in the Church. As its consequence a considerable number of Eastern churches remain separated from the universal Church. The Alexandriam church supported almost unanimously despite his condemnation. In Jerusalem the pro-chalcedonian bishop was deposed and amonophysite bishop was elected. In Antioch also a Peter the Fuller, a monophysite became the patriarch. He added to Trisagion “who was crucified for us”.

Attempts to reconcile the Monophysites

1. Acacian schism (484-519)

In 482 emperor Zeno published Henoticon, a document drawn up by patriarch Acacius of Const. to reconcile the monophysites by showing that to be antichalcidon and monophysite were not the same thing. The Henoticon contained orthodox faith and declared as symbols of faith the creed of Nicea-Const, 12 anathamas of Cyri 1decrees of Ephesus, condemnation of Nestorius and Eutychus.  But it rejected Chalcedon in order to please the monophysites.

The publication of Henoticon satisfied most of the east except the fanatic monophysites.But the Pope and the West rejected it for its repudiation of Chalcedon. Pope Felix ll (483-492) sent legates to Const. to settle the question, but Zeno treated them harshly. Pope, then, held a synod in Rome and excommunicated Acacius. Acacius removed the Pope’s name from diptychs. It is known Acacian schism and lasted thirty years. It ended in 519 when emperor Justin l and people of Const. forced patriarch John 11 (518- 520) to subscribe Chalcedon. Patriarch emperor and bishops signed the formula of Pope Hormisdas (514-523) condemning Nestorius, Eutychus, Acacius and Dioscorus.

2. Three Chapters (544 -554)

Theodore of Askidas, bishop of Caesarea made an attempt to reconcile the monophysites. He wanted to make it clear that to accept Chalcedon does not mean becoming a Nestorian. The monophysites hated Theodore of Mopsuetia, Diodore of Tarsus. Therefore Askidas persuaded emperor Justinian to publish an edict condemning three documents 1. The person and writings of Theodore of Mopsuetia. 2. Writings of Theodoret of Cyrus, 3. Letter of lbas to Bishop Maris. This is called the Three Chapters. The emperor published the edict in 544.

The West refused to accept the condemnation. Pope Vigilius was brought to Constantinople in 547 and condemned the Three Chapters by force in 548. When the western bishops protested, the pope withdrew the condemnation (judicatum). In spite of the disapproval of the pope, and excommunication, Justinian convoked a general council on 5 May 553 at Constantinople.165 bishops attended it. Pope attempted a compromise sending a document condemning 60 propositions from the works of Theodore and forbidding further condemnation. The council rejected it. The pope, then, worn out with the long strife, gave in, confirmed the acts of the council and condemned the Three Chaptersin 554. The sick pope died on his return journey at Syracuse in June 555.

The monophysite Churches

Egypt, Syria and Jerusalem continued to be monophysites. In the 6th cent. national monophysite churches were formed in Armenia, Syria etc. At present there are five monophysite churches.


After the council of Chalcedon there had been several attempts to make a balance between the Nestorians and the Monophysites. In spite of the difficulties that emperor Heraclius (610- 641) faced during the attack of Persians and the Mohemedans made efforts to reconcile the Monophysites of Syria and Egypt. He accepted Monothelitism as good means.

Chalcedon decreed that in Christ there are two natures. In 616 patriarch Sergius of Constantinople (610-638) began to preach that there is only one principle of operation and one will in Christ. This will and principle are both human and divine-theandric. Th monophysitex patriarchs of Alexandria and Antioch agreed with Sergius by 633. After five years Heraclius published a decree – Ecthesis -drawn up by Sergius professing belief in one will, summoning all christians to do likewise and forbidding further discussion.

St. Sophronius, patriarch of Jerusalem and St. Maximos the confessor opposed the Ecthesis. Sergius wrote to Pope Honorius I (625-638) who misunderstood the issue. Honorius reply upheld Sergius opinion and commended him for trying to silence those who spoke of two principles of operation in Christ.

In 638 Herallius published a formula prepared by Sergius, where no mention of one operation is made. It was accepted by most of the Oriental bishops. But the Western bishops and pope Severinue (640) strongly objected  it. In 648 emperor Constans II (641- 655) withdrew the formula and issued a religious edict, the Typos, forbidding all criticisms of Monothelitism. Pope Martin 1 (649-655) condemned the Ecthesis, Typos and monothelitism after careful investigation by a Lateran synod. Constans had the pope arrested and brought to Constantinople. There he was tried for high treason, ill-treated and banished to Cherson (654) and in southern Russia where he died in 655.

Council of Constantinople 111 (680-681)

At the suggestion of Emperor Constantine IV a council was convoked in Constantinople to settle the problem of Monotheitism. Pope Agatho (678-661) approved it and sent legates explaining clearly the doctrine of two operations in Christ. The conucil sat from November 680 to September 681. On the basis of Agatho’s epistle and passages the council recognized the doctrine of two operations and two wills in Christ as the teaching of the church.  The council condemned Sergius, three other bishops of Constantinople and pope Swegius. 

The Maronites of Lebanon preserved Monothelitism and they were eventually reunited to the Catholic Church in 12th c and 15th century.

Pope Honorius and Infallibility

The case of Honorius was one of the main arguments against the papal infallibility in Vat I. In his two letters to Sergius pope is supposed to have admitted Monothelitism, because he speaks of one will in Christ. He admits one will in so far as the human will never contradicts the divine. He says that there is only one operator of the divine and human in Christ, but whether he works by one operation or two is none of our business. He was afraid to make a decision, lest he should be accused of Nestorianism or Monophysistism.

            In his second letter the pope emphasized the unity of two natures and asked to avoid subtleties about one or two operations. Therefore what Honorius affirmed was correct. He was not a theologian and could be blamed for his negligence and ignorance to safeguard the pure doctrine.

Council of TruIlo (692)

            The V and VI ecumenical councils enacted no disciplinary canons. Therefore the emperor Justinian II convoked a council called Trullan from the domed hall (gk.Trullos) which is also called Quinisext from its purpose of completing the other two councils (Quini sext = Latin for fifth-sixth and refers to a synod called the sacred Trullan synod, held in 692 which covered the disciplinary problems that had been passed over during the fifth and sixth councils). It was not approved as ecumenical by the popes because its canons were according to the practices of the Greek Church. Justinian ordered to arrest the pope Sergius (687­701) but failed. He, a decade later, invited Pope Constantine (708-715) to visit Constantinople. Pope came and was received with enthusiasm and devotion. He was the last pope to visit Constantinople.


Donation was a heresy which holds that the efficacy of a sacrament depends on the worthiness of the minister. The starting point was the election of Cocilian to the see of Carthage in 312. A section of the community under the leadership of a widow, Lucilla contested the validity of Cecilian’s consecration on the grounds that one of the consecrating bishops, Felix Apthungi, was guilty of traditor. They elected Majorinus as bishop, who was soon succeeded by Donatus. Donatus was an energetic and efficient man and became the organizer of this schismatic group to which history has given his name.

On 15 April 313 the Donatists appealed to Constantine. Their case was brought before Rome and three successive synods,, Rome -15 Feb. 314, Arles -1 July 314, Milan 10 Nov. 316, declared that their claims were groundless. Cecilian was reinstated and Donatus was excommunicated.

            In 317 the emperor promulgated a very severe law against the Donatint who had to hand over their churches. It followed a violent persecution. Finally their obstinency forced the authorities to tolerate them by an ediet (5 May 321). (Again on 15 August 347 the emperor published an edict ordering union of catholics and Donatists). In spite of the persecutions the Donatists spread in Africa. They claimed to be the pure wheat in the field. Donatus felt himself to be the Primate of Africa. In 336 they could convoke a synod of 270 bishops. Donatus died in exile in 355. He was succeeded by Parmenian (355 391).

In 361 Emperor Julian ordered the restoration of Donatist church as it had been before 347, at the request of the Donatists. It followed the expulsion of the catholics from their churches, ill-treatment of the clergy, desecration of catholic churches, and dishonorable treatment of Donatists who had gone to the Catholic Church.

            During the period of Parmenian there flourished Donatist theological literature. He wrote two books “New Psalms” which make the basic doctrine of their confession, and “adversue occlesiam traditorum, which in five books presented a comprehensive and also original ecclesiology of the Donatists. According to Parmenian the true church can be recognized by this, that, as the bride of Christ, it possesses a fivefold dowry:

1. The cathedra-the power of the keys entrusted to the Bishops

2. The angel -who stirs the water at baptism

3. The Holy Spirit

4. The baptismal font 

5. The baptismal creed without which the baptismal font cannot be opened.

Since these five gifts altogether can be found only in the Donatic community, the catholics are branches torn from the tree of the Church. Catholics through their recourse to the power of the state against the donatists, automatically betrayed the true church, so they have to be rebaptized after due penance.

In 373 the donatist baptism was prohibited and their worship was forbidden in cities and villages. In 377 an imperial edict was published against them. In the last decade of 4th century situations advantageous to Donatism was changed because of two factors:

i) personal- the election of Primian as successor to Parmenian was a poor choice. There formed an opposite group under Maximian.

ii) Political- their bishop had political alliance with Gildo against Rome.

St. Augustine and Donatiste- St. Augustine was born in Numidia (Africa) in 354 Nov 13. His father Patricius was a pagan and mother Monica was a christian. After his education in his country he went to Italy where he met Ambrose. In 387 he received baptism from St. Ambrose. In 391 he was ordained priest and in 396 he was consecrated bishop of Hippo. He died on 28 August 430.

St. Augustine made great efforts to restore unity in the church for which he made contacts with the Donatists. He addresseed them brothers, since to a great extent they agree with the Catholic Church in doctrine and liturgy. It was also agreed to receive the bishops and priests to the catholic church with the rank they then held.This was for those who had not Performed rebaptism. The synod of Carthage in 401 decided: It left to the individual bishop the decision on the reception of Donatist clerics, but provided a   new criterion for this: “when it seems useful for pax chriatiana”. In 402 three Donatiet bishops became heads of catholic congregations. The synod of Carthage in 403 determined to try a dialogue on the highest plane. The donatist bishops were invited. It was not realized. Bishop Primian declined saying: “it is contrary to the dignity of the son of martyrs to meet with the descendents of traditores”.


The protagonist of this heresy was a British monk, Pelagius. He was a resident at Rome between 390 and 400. There he acquired a reputation and even fame among the christian nobility and in Christian circles by his exemplary life and many came to him for spiritual direction. According to him every man is capable of attaining perfection by his own efforts. For this grace is a help, but, not necessary.

In 410 Pelagius and his companion Coelestius went to Africa. After a short stay there, Pelagius went to Palestine and Coelestius preached the new doctrines openly in Africas Pope Zosimus (417-18) received a letter from Pelagius justifying his teaching. Bishop of Jerusalem also sent another letter justifying Pelagius. Coelestus presented the pope a libellus containing his doctrine. Pope demanded a review of the African judgment against Pelagius since their doctrines caused disturbances in Rome.  Emperor Honorius banished Coelestius and Pelagius from Rome in 418 and forbade the further spread of their teachings. The pope Zosimus in his “epistola tractoria” condemned Pelagianism. Pelagius ended his days in an Egyptian monastery and Coelestius continued his teaching.

A groap of Italian bishops declined to sign the Tractoria. Bishop Julian of Aeclanum was its leader. He questioned Jerome and Augustine and attacked Augustine personally. Augustine refuted the false doctrine of Julian. Julian accused Augustine of Manichaeism.

Pelagianism collapsed between 420 and 430. a group of deposed bishops signed Tractoria  In 430 Coelestius and Julian sought readmission to the church. In 431 council of Ephesus condemned Pelagianism. Julian led a wandering life. In 439 he tried to restore his see of Aeclanum. Pope Leo 1 (440-61) again condemned him. He died in Sicily in 450.

The doctrine of Pelagianism

1. Adam was created mortal, and would have died even if he had not sinned.

2. The sin of Adam affected him alone.

3. At birth we are in the state of Adam before his sin.

4. The human race does not die by the sin of Adam, nor does it rise again as a result of Christ’s redemption.

5. Man can live without sin and observe all the commandments.’

6. Original sin is a bad example of first parents.

7. There is no original sin in children.

8. Grace is not necessary to do good.

St. Augustine refuted the doctrine of Pelagius. In 415 he wrote a book De natura et gratia against it. In the beginning both Pelagius and Coelestius escaped condemnation deceiving pope. They satisfied pope that they were orthodox by avoiding any reference to original sin. In 418 at Carthage a synod of 218 bishops condemned them. Augustine wrote another work De gratia Christi et de peccato originali. pope Sosimus by his epistle Tractoria appealed to all bishops to recognize the error of Pelagianism. Finally the council of Ephesus condemned Pelagianism in c.l and 4.


It is not a heresy, but a name given to certain erroneous attempts to modify some exaggerations into which St. Augustine fell in his polemical (controversial) writings with Pelagianism.

According to St. Augustine grace is something irresistible and invincible. If God wanted to save everybody, they would all be infallibly saved. If some are not saved this must be due to their not hazing received the necessary grace from God. God’s salvific will is not universal, but particular. He predestines some to heaven, gives them a special gift of perseverance and they are saved. The rest are infallibly lost. Nobody has a right to grace because of the original sin.

            Augustine’s view on grace was the opposite extreme to Pelagiu. On his attempt he minimised the role of the man’s own efforts.The monks of the African monastery of Adrumentum challenged him. They asked: if everything was to be attributed to grace, where as the responsibility for sin? Why strive for perfection? Augutine seemed to lead them to a kind of fatalism which would destroy the ascetical endeavour that was at the heart of monasticim. Augustine wrote two books: De gratia et libero arbitrio and de Correptione et gratia (426-427). Here he insisted on the necessity of cooperating with grace.

In southern France abbot John Cassian (+435) spoke against Augustine. For him God’s salvific will is universal. Predestination was not absolute, i.e., solely an act of predilection, but in accordance with God’s knowledge of merits and sins of each. Grace is necessary for salvation but once in the state of grace, there is no need of a special grace of preseyerance; there is only one kind of grace for all. Cassian went wrong in holding that we could merit the grace of conversion by our prayers and good works.

The synod of Orange (529)

Aransicanum II a town on the Rome.

The controversy on the doctrine of Augustine was put to an end by the synod of Orange in 529. It approved a colleition of Augustinian texts and defended thegratuitous nature of grace.  Its doctrine can be summed up thus: “man does nothing good which God does hot enable him to do” c. 20.


Priscillian a Spanish priest, began about 370-75 to spread an extreme form asceticism. His programme resembled encratism (an early christian heretical sect abstaining from meat, wine and marriage) and smacked (taste of Gnosticism. It derogated everything concerning the human body and exalted the spirit. He forbade marriage. He was condemned at the council of Saragosa in 380 and was banned by the edict of Gratian. Thereafter he went to Rome and thence to Milan, but both pope Damasus and St. Ambrose repulsed him.

Priscillain then turned for help to civil authorities. He appealed to the usurper Maximus who appeared in Gaul, but his opponents, bishop Itacius and Hydacius persuaded Maximus to have Priscillian tried. Priscillian and six of his companions were condemned to death.

            The Priscillians had gatherings of men and women. The fast on Sundays and stay away from the church during Lent for super stitious reasons. They had the custom of taking Eucharist to home. They shun church during twenty-one days precedine Epiphany and stay at home or in the mountains and go about with bare foot. They claimed to be electi Dei.

Early Monasticism

Monasticism is one of the signs of church’s vitality. It should not be identified with virginity. During the persecution martyrdom was valued as the supreme example of devotion to God and was held to be the final stage in the spiritual ascent of a christian soul called to perfection.

The late third and early fourth centuries saw the beginnings of monastic asceticism in christianity. As a result of general toleration of christianity in the Roman empire, martyrdom became less and less frequent. There was a relaxation in the spiritual life of the church. In this new situation the flight from the world appeared to be the most favourable condition for attaining perfection. Thus in the 6th century there arose curious distinction among the Irish monks between red martyrdom and white or green martyrdom (life of renunciation and mortification).

There is considerable debate as to where monasticism began. The first monks were individuals who retreated to the desert in Egypt and Syria. Sometimes these retreats were only temporary, and then became permanent.

St. Antony of Egypt 251 356

St. Antony, a Coptic peasant from Egypt is usually called the first monk or the father of monks. Antony was converted to a life of perfection at 18 or 20 on the day when he entered a church and heard a  reading of the passage where the Lord says to the rich young man “if you want to be perfect, go and sell all you possess, give to the poor and come and follow

Antony gave himself up to a solitary life. His long carrier can be divided into three stages:

1. First he established himself in the immediate neighbourhood of his village. There he profited from the advice of an old and experienced man.

2. Then he lived in a small abandoned Roman fort for nearly 20 years.

3. Finally he settled even deeper in the desert. In the desert Antony spent his life, writing, keeping vigil and praying. Twice he left the desert and went to Alexandria, one during the persecution of Diocletian to give courage to the christians, second to defend orthodoxy at the time of Arianism. Many visited him in the desert to ask for the help of his prayers, the curing of diseases, for advice etc.  Antony composed no rule he was simply supervising the activities of his disciples.  He died at the age of 105 in 356.

Anchorite Monasticism

Anchorite means hermit or person who lived in solitude. This is the oldest and most rudimentary form of monastic organization. Hermits lived in separate cells but close to each other, meeting regularly for prayer or mutual support, yet retaining their essential autonomy. Some preferred no contact at all with others.

Anchorite monasticism sometimes led to eccentricities, because each monk set his own standards. Sometimes a spirit of rivalry replaced genuine asceticism. Some had severe penances and self-inflicted bodily punishment. In the 5th century in Syria some hermits ate nothing but grass, others hobbled their legs with iron chains, still others took to living atop pillars reaching up to fifty feet in height, whence their name “pillar saints or stylites. St. Simon the Stylite (395-461) achieved the record of 36 years on his tiny platform.

Cenobetic monasticism or Pachomean cenobetism

Communal monasticism was begun about 320 by Pachomeue (290-345). It put accent on life in common and known as cenobetism( koinos bios). He was a converted soldier. He founded his first community at Tab- ennisi in Upper Egypt.

Pachomeus was against extremism. He insisted on regular meals and worship and aimed to make his communities self-supporting through such industries as the weaving of palm-mats or growing fruits and vegetables for sale. Entrants to his community had to hand over their personal wealth to a common fund, and were only admitted as full members after a period of probation. To prove their initial earnestness they were required to stand outside the monastery door for several days. Part of qualification for full membership was to memorize parts of the Bible. The illiterate were taught to read and write.

The Pachomean monastic rule contained 194 articles defining precisely the rhythm of the monks’ daily life, work, and prayer in common and discipline. Surrounded by an enclosure, the Pachomian monastery comprised a chapel and outbuildings and a series of houses grouping a score of monks (20) under the authority of provost (head of a religious community) assisted by a deputy. Three or four houses made up a tribe, the whole owing obedience to the superior, who, with his assistant, looked after the spiritual direction of the community and the smooth working of the general services. These included a bakery, kitchen, infirmary etc.  The different houses delegated every week the requisite number of monks to staff them.

Pachomeus established a second monastery at Pboou and at his death there were nine convents for men and two for women. The first women’s convent was established about 340 near Tabennisi by his sister Mary. These convents were formed a congregation under the authority of a superior general installed at Tabennisi and later at Pboou. It was Pachomeus who appointed the heads of each monastery. They gathered round him at a chapter general twice a year, at Easter and on 13 August. There was a chief bursar who helped the superior in the handling of business affecting the congregation as a whole.

The Basilian Community (330-379)

Basil, one of the Cappadocian fathers was born in 330. His father was the son of St. Macrina, and his mother was the daughter of of a martyr. Out of 10 children three sons were bishops: Basil, Gregory of Nyssa and Peter of Sebaste. One daughter, Macrina, was the model of ascetical life. He fought against Arianism. He could be called the founder of Eastern monasticism and one of the pillars of the Oriental Church (St. John Chrysostom).

            From Egypt monasticism spread quickly over the Near East. It appeared in Palestine with St. Hilarion of Gaza in 307. About 335 St.Epiphanius founded a monastery. In Asia Minor the pioneer of monasticism was Eustathius who became bishop of Sebaste in 356. In Asia Minor the most important Greek promoter was St. Basil. About 357, soon after his baptism Basil embraced monasticism. His attention was turned to monasticism by his sister Macrina who fostered the monastic life on family estates at Annesi in Pontus. Basil visited the disciples of Eustathius and then journeyed to Egypt, Syria and Mesapotamia to observe the monks there. Returning home he formed a community for which he composed his longer rules and shorter rules, consisting of ascetical and moral precepts on various aspects of monastic life. Basilian rule stressed the community element: meals, work and prayer in common within the same house. The number of the monks in a house was reduced. Obedience was considered as a cardinal virtue alongside poverty and chastity. He emphasized charitable service to others as part of the monk’s routine. For this he introduced the practice of monks labouring in hospitals. A system of regular prayer seven times daily was prescribed.  Basil became bishop of Caesarea in 365.  He died in 379.

Monasticism in the West

Monasticism first appeared in the East. It was brought to the West by St.Athanasius. While he was in exile in the West between 340 and 346 he was accompanied by two Egyptian monks. During his exile he wrote the life of St. Antony. This helped to spread the ideals of monasticism. It was translated into Latin which influenced St. Augustine. In the West monasticism had the support of great church leaders such as St. Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome, etc.

The name of St. Jerome (347-419) deserves special mention. After three years training in the desert of Chalcis near Antioch (375-377) he came to Rome. His propaganda for asceticism met with great success. But due to opposition and criticism he had to leave Rome in 385 with his disciples. He settled at Bethlehem and a monastery for women was founded by St. Paula. Another one was founded at Jerusalem by St. Melania.

In the West monasticism was stimulated by St. Martin of Tours, who died in 379. Martin took up the hermit’s life after military service and lived in a solitary cell near Liguge, in France. Many others joined him and he set up a community. In 372 he became the bishop of Tours against his will. The distraction of his visitors compelled him to retreat to a monastery which was also a nursery for bishops. Sulpicius Severus wrote the biography of Martin. After the death of Martin many churches were dedicated to him. Probably he is the first non martyr to be venerated as a saint.

Episcopal Monasticism

            St. Augustine introduced a. new aspect of monasticism; the arrangement whereby a group of celibate clergy lived together and served the local church. In 388 he gathered a group of his friends to live together in an ascetic community devoting themselves mainly to study. They continued after Augustine was made bishop of Hippo in 395. It has the root of the cathedral chapters..

Many bishops like Augustine turned their episcopal residence into monastery imposing on all his clergy monastic renunciation and the vow of poverty. Eg. St. Eusebius of Vercelli, St. Martin of Tours (patron saint of Gallican monasticism), St. Ambrose, etc.

            Monastic communities took part in the warfare. Organized and armed crowds of monks took sides in theological disputes and overawed the councils by their presence eg. Ephesus (449). Monks also destroyed pagan temples and harassed and murdered pagans and the heretics.

St. Patrick (389-461) and Celtic Monasticism

Patrick, the great missionary of Ireland, was born in Roman Brittan, as a son of a deacon and magistrate, Calparnius. The details of his life are disputed and overlaid with many pious legends. His writings, The Confession and A letter to the soldiers of Coroticus give a few information about him. At the age of 16 he was sold by raiders as a slave in Ireland. After six years of service as a shepherd he escaped and eventually reached home again. During his captivity, he was deeply convinced of his faith and decided to evangelize Ireland. Once in dream he heard the voice of Irish calling: “we beseech you to come and walk among us once more”.

Patrick returned to Ireland as bishop in 432 and spent the next 30 years ministering there. He encouraged learning and began to emphasize ascetic life and monasticism. As a result, the basic unit of the church became the monastery led by the abbot rather than the bishop’s diocese. Priority was given to the Celtic mission which produced great numbers of monks who evangelized Western Europe during the 6th and 7th centuries.

St. Benedict of Nursia (+547)

            Very little is known of the life of Benedict apart from the information provided in a biography by Gregory the Great. This book made Benedict’s rule widely known and followed. Benedict was born at Nursia, in Umbria (North-central Italy) and studied at Rome before withdrawing to live as a hermit. He founded several small monasteries, but had little success until he moved to the monastery at Monte Cassino. He died at Monte Cassino about 547. When the Lombards destroyed the monastery, the monks fled to Rome and brought his rule to Pope Gregory.

The rule of Benedict is based on two activities: prayer and work. He insisted that the monk should remain in the same monastery where he had taken his vows. The abbot was the spiritual head of the monastery and exercised all the normal discipline. These monasteries were centers of spirituality and learning. The same rule with enlargement is still used today. It is said that Benedict’s rule owes a great deal to another monastic rule of similar date, known as the ‘Regula Magistri’- Rule of the Master.

Pope Gregory the Great (590-604)

Gregory may be the most influential pope in the period between Constantine and the Reformation. He comes from a Roman aristocratic family and began his carrier in public administration. Then he turned away from public life and became a monk. He was the first Pope who had been a monk.

As pope he claimed the universal jurisdiction over Christendom.  He criticized the patriarch of Constantinople for using the term “Ecumenical Patriarch“, asserting that such a title belonged to the bishop of Rome. When the patriarch refused to agree, Gregory dropped the dispute and began to call himself “servant of the servants of God”.

Gregory sought to develop ties with the pagan and Arian and christian Germanic kingdoms. He sent a team of monks to the kingdom of Kent in Brittan. The christianization of the Anglo-Saxons and. the victory of Roman church over the Celtic church were the long term result of Gregory’s missionary policy.

The pope had come to enjoy great power in Rome and Italy as result of the decline and eventual disappearance of the Western Roman Empire and through extensive landholdings in and around Rome. The origin of the papal state goes back to this period, though legally it was established in the 8th century.

Gregory also was the pioneer to look West and not East for protection. During the Lombards’ invasion the governor at Ravenna was unable to help the pope, Gregory found protector in the Lombard queen Theodelinda, who was a catholic christian. Eventually the Lombards became catholics. He also had influence among the Visigoths in Spain, who had accepted Catholicism.

The Franks were not christians. About 500, Clovis, the first ruler of the Franks decided to accept catholic baptism, following his marriage to a catholic princess. Clovis agreed to accept Christ if the christian God gave him victory over another tribe with whom he was at war. Clovis won the battle against Alemanni, and then with 3000 warriors, he was baptized. This points up the general pattern of early mediaeval conversions. The change  to Christianity was essentially a matter of royal policy. The ruler’s conversion decided the religion of his subjects. Catholic queens and princesses did much for the conversion of their husbands and their kingdoms. Clove’s conversion laid foundation for an important alliance between the papacy and the Franks.

Gregory wanted to reform the church, but the Merovingian rulers of Gaul thwarted him by appointing laymen as bishops and selling church appointments. They assumed that the church was freely at their disposal.

The conversion of the Anglo-Saxons was a great achievement of Pope Gregory. There is a story about it. Gregory while a monk in Rome, one day saw some attractive young children in the slave market. On inquiring who they were, Gregory learned that they were Angli from England, and they were pagans. He replied that these young lads were not Angles, but “angels”. In 595 he ordered to purchase Anglo-Saxon slaves to be brought to Rome for training as clerics. In 596 he sent a team of 40 monks to England who arrived there before Easter 597. The Jutish king Ethelbert, whose wife was a catholic, accepted catholicism. His own kingdom Kent and other two of Essex and East Anglia – belonged to him – became christian. In 597, pope appointed Augustine, leader of the team, as archbishop of the church of England. Ethelbert gave the archbishop his own palace in Cantebury, which became the first episcopal centre in England.

Archbishop Augustine tried to unite the Celtic church with Rome, but failed on three basic issues: i. his requirement that the Celtic church adopt Roman method of arriving at the date of Easter. ii. Adopt the Roman tradition of baptism, iii. and joins his mission to convert the Anglo-Saxons. There were reasons for the tension between them. The celtic bishops took offence when Archbishop Augustine refused to stand to greet them. They refused to accept him as their archbishop. Even before the arrival of Augustine, the celts were christians, their bishops attended the council of Arles in 314. Because of the foreign invasion the celtic christian population retreated to the South West. The long period of isolation and the hatred of the foreign invaders were the major barriers to unity between Augustine and the British church. The British church finally fused with Roman christianity during the course of the following century

Preaching and piety in the early church

            It is not very clear how the clergy carried out the pastoral duty in the early church. There were 3000 sermons and catechesis between Nicea and Chalcedon; they come from 30 authors and aore than half of them belong to John Chrysostom and Augustine.

            There was no catechism for children before the end of 6th c., although the practice of infant baptism was steadily growing. In families there was domestic catechesis by the parents on which Chrysostom and Augustine much insisted. Later it was considered an episcopal task. The official catecheis was more and more reserved to the clergy; only in the East are isolated lay catechists mentioned, and special aptitude was demanded in them. At Antioch it was mostly imparted by priests; At Carthage a deacon was entrusted with the introductory catechesis at the admission into the catechumeanate; priests probably likewise shared in the baptismal catechesis for the competences in North Africa, since they had the right to preach. In the majority of other localities in East and West the bishop was regarded as the teacher of the catechumens.

In De catechizandis rudibus, St. Augustine gives a systematic guidance to the catechists. The kernel of all catechesis had to be the history of salvation. It must be made known to the hearer in its most striking events, in the creation of Adam, the deluge, the covenant of God with Abraham, the priestly kingship of David, the deliverance from the Babylonian captivity, and the all decisive Christ event. This should show not only the inner connection of OT and NT, but impart a universal view of all history, as it was framed in God’s plan of salvation. The catechesist must represent the love of God for mankind. It should lead to the Christ event = which especially was to be made known with such warmth and forcefulness that the catechumen came to the faith by hearing, achieved hope by infound love by hoping. The hearer should be admonished to guard faith, hope and love. The Augustinian catechism was entirely oriented to the positive expositions of salvation history and renounced polemic and rhetorical ornament. There exist also explanations of the baptismal creed and the Lord’s Prayer.

            Logos catechetikos of Gregory of Nyssa- deals with methodical questions, such as the adaptation to the individual situation of the hearers, but he preferred philosophical justification of the truths of faith.

            Cyril of Jerusalem – to make salvation history the center of the instructions in the preparation of the candidates for baptism. The dogmatic exposition was carefully joined to the moral catechesis.  The simple language, informative, etc.

Johh Chrysostom preferred moral catechesis

Theodore of Mopsuetia -preferred sacramental catechesis. He emphasized on the eschatological character of baptism and Eucharist: with baptism the new life begins, and the Eucharist nourishes it.

            Ambrose of Milan -mystagogic. He placed great importance on the understanding of the symbolic content of the sacramental rites, which he tried to explain by means of the typological interpretation of the OT events, figures, and individual books, especially Song of Songs and Psalms.

Slowly the catechumanate was restricted to the lent and there needed a follow up afterwards. The Trinitarian and Christological controversies also occasioned the need of dogmatic sermons. Then there were also sermons on occasions of ordination funerals, church dedications, etc.

From the 4th c. the right to preach was more and more attached to the office of priest or bishop. Asterius (+341) may be the last ‘lay preacher’.

Basil preached on Scripture in a lively language, explained the account of creation.

Gregory Nazianzon- model of christian eloquence

Gregory of Nyssa.

Jerome – his homilies on Scripture.

Christocentric piety

Devotion of Christ was the center of all piety. Christocentric baptismal piety- Eucharistic piety- devotion to the passion of Christ- veneration of cross-popular pilgrimage to Jerusalem. the visit to the Holy Sepulcher and Mount Calvary became a part of the religious celebration of the Holy Week in Jerusalem in the 4th c. -later way of the cross. The christocentric piety was also manifested in prayer to Christ

Forms of Asceticism

Universal call to holiness was the theme of the preaching of the pastors. Both monks and lay persons are called upon to strive for the same perfection since there is only a single ideal of perfection for all christians, which must be realized everywhere. Hence aloofness from the world is for all christians the basic ascetical disposition. Fasting was especially recommended as one possibility of its realization. Almsgiving was another one which was presented as the way to interior freedom vis- a -vis wealth and property. Some people renounced totally the wealth and life of luxury and led a specific ascetical life remaining in their family. Then they joined an ascetic group or a community of nuns or monks or were admitted into the clergy. The Fathers of the church praised this kind of life and virginity.

Cult of Martyrs and saints

After the liberation of the church the cult of martyrs became very significant. The martyrs were regarded as the perfect imitators of Christ, who had given witness to the Lord by their blood and now crowned. Their dignity and nearness to the Lord made them the advocates of the faithful on earth and the protectors of the individual as well as of the community, which chose them as patrons. Out of this esteem grew the strong interest in the grave (tomb) and relies of the martyrs. Their graves were distinguished from other graves by a special cult building, erected as martyrion or memoria respectively or as a basilica over the grave, which were different from the churches within the walls. The community assembled in these cemetery churches on dies natalis martyris to celebrate the Eucharist. Along this there were efforts to rediscover the tombs of those martyrs who had fallen into oblivion in the shadow of an especially vivid martyr-figure, or concerning whose martyrdom tradition often supplied only a summary account. The invention of such tombs was often due to a vision or information provided in a dream.

A new phase of the cult of martyrs began with the translation of the remains of martyrs to the churches within the city walls. The Roman law prohibited the burial in the city. The first transfer of a martyr’s body was that of, St. Babylas to Antioch in 354. In Milan Ambrose did it without dispensation, but other bishops had to ask a dispensation. In home greatest care on the martyr’s tombs and the buildings belonging to them was given.  The place of the new burial in the city church was close to the altar because the most faithful followers of Christ, who had offered their life in a total sacrifice, should be in closest touch with the spot on which the memorial of Christ’s sacrificial death was celebrated. Hence altar and martyr’s tomb were at the time brought together, both in theory and practice, into that intimate connection which would later be the rule everywhere according to liturgical law where there was a christian altar.

But this aim could be realized only if relics of martyrs were supplied to those churches which did not have it. So it was necessary to multiply the relics by division into small and minute parts. The transfer, the placing of the relics in the altar was celebrated solemnly. Since there numerous demands, a substitute was established in the so-called “second class relics”- things which were brought into contact with the martyr’s tomb or the place where the relics were disposed. There were parallel collections of relics in private circles which often led to the doubtful abuse and church could not eliminate it completely.

The conviction of the intercessory power of the martyrs led many christians to want to be themselves buried as close as possible to a martyr’s grave. From this burial ad sanctos people expected aid for themselves at the hour of resurrection. Augustine’s statement that the place of burial of itself guaranteed no help for a dead person, but only the prayer of the living who commended him to the intercession of the martyrs, did not satisfy the people. So the church had to regulate by law burial inside the church and reserve it for a small circle of persons -bishops, priests, and a few lay persons of high rank.

The cult of martyrs as an early christian form of piety was not promoted by laity or monastic circles but by the church and its theologians.  There are numerous sermons in honour of martyrs, which extol their dignity, power of intercession, the example of their love of Christ and miracle working efficacy of their relics. The church not only allowed the interment of their body inside the church, their memorial days were listed in the liturgical calendar and admitted their names into the text of the Eucharistic prayer.

The cult of saints began in the first half of the fourth century and reached full development in its last two decades. It was an extension of the cult of martyrs to a group of dead whose life and actions enabled them to be compared to the martyrs in some degree, because it likewise represented an outstanding profession and witness for Christ. They included first of all, those who in time of persecution had suffered for the faith in prison, under torture, or in exile, but the desired confirmation by a bodily death was denied them.   With such confessors were soon associated individual ascetics and monks, whose life was willingly ranked as unbloody martyrium, and finally also those who especially proved themselves in the Arian troubles or in the missions as courageous adherents and zealous preachers of the orthodox faith. Martyrium sine cruore was granted to them. Their feasts were admitted into the calendar and liturgical celebration of the day of their death was accorded to them. Eg. Ambrose, Basil, Antony, Athanasius, the Stylites, etc. Memorial chapels and churches were built over their graves even by individuals; their relics were at times fought over. Their life and activities were spread out with colourful details and appealing popular fantasies. Some lives of saints are mere collections of miracles.

In the christian cult of saints were also included some outstanding persons of the OT, Moses, Abraham, David, etc. Here there are two difficulties; first there is recognition of Judaism, second in their lives the inner relationship to witnessing for Christ seemed to be lacking. Christian preaching theoretically countered this difficulty with the argument that they were christians before the appearance of Christ, because their life served the ultimate goal of his coming and thus the violent death of some of the prophets could be understood as anticipated martyrdom and hence a christian celebration in their memory was justified.

The cult of Mary had spread long before theology had clarified the questions regarding her sanctity and virginity. People besought the protection of the Theotokos at least at the beginning of the fourth century. Bishop Severian of Gabala says that Mary should be invoked, before the Apostles and the martyrs.  In the West her cult was theologically clarified and justified especially by Ambrose and Augustine. The oldest Marian feast was celebrated in Constantinople even before the council of Ephesus on 26 December. Churches were dedicated to her from this time onwards. Ephesus opened the way for the complete development of the cult of Mary.

Early christian pilgrimage

Another field of christian popular devotion is found in the pilgrimage system- 1 pilgrimage to holy places specially in the Holy Land and to the tombs and relies of saints. In the pre­Constantine period individual christians undertook pilgrimage, motivated by theological and exegetical interests or by the desire to pray at the holy shrines. During the time of Constantine and Helena the visit to the Holy places was encouraged. The sites of the pilgrimage were the placed related to the events from Christ’s life. The cult of christian saints began only with the discovery of Stephen’s grave in 415, and the cult of Mary was discernible in Jerusalem still later. The real pilgrimage guide was the Bible. The pilgrim reports, the liturgical observances of the Holy Week and the finding of the Cross etc produced tasting effects on the devotion of the pilgrims.

The second type of pilgrimage was the visit to the grave and relics of the saints. In the fourth century in the East there developed great pilgrim centers: shrine of Babylas in Antioch,, shrine of Simon the Stylite, grave of Thecla in Seleucia, of St. John at Ephesus. In West there were a number of places -the tombs of the martyrs, two apostles Peter and Paul etc.

The basic attitude for the pilgrimage should be a disposition to follow Christ and imitate the saints. The desire to have healing or a favour can not be excluded.

Pagan customs in christian popular piety

It was difficult to supplant deep rooted pagan practice in the newly converted. At times they were mixed with christian practices and compromised the purity of devotion. People were much attracted to the pagan magics and superstitions. The church warned against such practices. In rural districts there were cults of trees, springs, rocks etc. Again and again the synods attacked such practices often without success. The attractions of the pagan feasts could not be dispelled.  Christians participated in feasts in the pagan temples.

Refrigerium was a pagan cult of the dead. It was a meal to which came the relatives of a deceased person on the third. seventh, and ninth days after the burial, on the anniversary of the death, and on the great memorial of the dead, the Parentalia in February.  The christians retained this meal of the dead in a simple form without opposition from the church and added to it, a christian feature when they had a part of the foods brought turned over to the poor. But in the fourth century this meal at the graves often assumed again, even among the christians, the noisy and unbridled form of pagan celebrations for the deceased. Chrysostom not only blamed the loud lamentation of the relatives and wailers at a christian funeral as pagan behaviour, which contradicted the belief in the resurrection. He also disapproved the pomp which some christians displayed there. The meals were finally transferred into churches on the memorials of the martyrs and in some places, especially in Italy and North Africa, degenerated into great revels with dancing and song. At Milan St. Ambrose abolished them. Other bishops of North Italy followed him, whereas they continued at Rome, even in St. Peter’s. In Africa at the synod of 393 in Hippo forbade the custom. Augustine enforced the synodal decrees and recommended that the foods hitherto destined for the memorial meal in the church be used fir an agape at the graves of the dead in the cemetery and that gifts be given to the poor and the needy at the same time, for that was the christian way, in addition to the liturgical celebration for the dead, to recall the deceased.

Despite the directions and exhortations of the bishops the traditional feeling of paganism was carried like a subtle poison in the blood of the christians: the desires of the world, the pride in one’s own virtues, the instinctive shrinking back from a crucified God, the strong protest against the basic attitude of humilitas. Adherence to these made many christians remain semichritians for years.  Augustine often spoke of this basic danger to the christian.

The laity in the church

The divisions of the christians into laity, clergy and monks existed at the turn of the fourth century. It became more precise in the course of the century and gradually became a law. In this process a clear change in the previous importance and position of the laity within the church became perceptible. After the persecution the glory of martyrdom passed ever more to asceticism and monasticism and this unintentionally created a clear distance between itself and the mass of the believers. Further, because of the differentiation of functions and expansion of its tasks and authority in the care of souls and administration, the clergy gained such power in authority and public respect.  And monasticism promoted the idea that effort to work out its salvation directly in this world was doubtful in principle. Finally the lifestyle of some lay persons in the fourth and fifth centuries caused a rather skeptical evaluation of the lay element. The change was not same everywhere, but there was a shifting within its previous spheres of duty. In the basilica the place of the people was now clearly distinct from the place of the clergy. In procession there developed a certain order of precedence, whereby the clergy, the monks, the virgins, and widows went ahead of the people. In the pastoral spheres, lay persons still took part in the preparation of the catechumens for baptism, especially widows in the instruction of the women. In the case of necessity lay persons could baptize, but women should not administer baptism, any more than they might instruct men.

            The right of the laity in choosing of their clergy continued in principle and was still, especially exercised in the election of the bishop. The form of their collaboration was not precisely fixed. For the most part it consisted of an acclamation of the candidate proposed. The people were supposed to be consulted in the transfer and deposition of a bishop. Sometimes the emperors intervened in the election of bishops without regard for this right of the laity.

Gradually the right to teach was reserved to the clergy. Thus the lay preaching virtually ceased. Pope Leo I expressly forbade it and extended the prohibition to monks also. Parallel to this limitation of an official teaching activity of the laity there developed, however, a growing share of the laity in the theological literary work of the time. Eg. Lactantius, Arnobius, etc. Well to do and influenced lay persons played considerable role in ecclesiastical life. They promoted ecclesiastical construction and founded charitable institutions and supported the church’s care of the poor. In certain churches lay persons were called upon for the administration of church property. In North Africa seniors laici were elected by the community as a sort of ecclesiastical council

Lay apostolate was justified in the always recognized general priesthood of the laity. Augustine and Chrysostom speak of the field of duties of it- the exemplary day-to-day christian life, help for the fellow christian religious and moral danger, missionary work among the pagans or heretics of his circles of acquaintances. The lay apostolate should be exercised in close collaboration with the clergy-payer, advice, and criticism of the laity- says Chrysostom.

The fell of the Western Roman Empire 476  It was a great change.

The factors and events that contributed to it are the following:

1. Internal factors

i. depopulation. In the middle of 2nd c. its population was 80 mi1lion and by the 7th c. it was down to about 10 million. Its causes are: a. plague. In 166 there was dreadful plague and it wiped out almost half of the population. This plague returned from time to time. b) Slavery. The neighbouring tribes beyond the Rhine-Dhanube frontier, carried off thousands of people to use them as slaves. c) The deplorable low standard of morals. Divorce was so common and people no longer bothered of marriage. Children were unwanted. Abortion and abandoning of new born were widely practiced. Slaves who were majority were not allowed to marry or to have family.

ii. Financial situation. The financial situation was not better. The gold and silver were coined. Since there was a shortage of these metals, baser metals had to be mixed with it and this led to a devaluation of money. The increase of bureaucracy and the defense of empire demanded heavy taxes from ever-decreasing number of the tax payers. The rich got exemption and the poor suffered a lot on account of heavy taxes. The magistrates had to collect the taxes. If they could not collect the required amount they had to pay themselves. Therefore all shunned the honourable and responsible positions in the society. No public work had been done.

I. External forces: the migration of Nations

Beyond the Rhine-Danube frontiers in the North there were tribes of the Germanic or Teutonic race. The Romans called them barbarians because of their primitiveness. These people were strong and warlike. They fought among themselves and. against the Romans. They frequently changed their abode. The chief tribes were: the Goths, the Vandals, the Burgundians, the Germans, the Lombards, the Franks, and the Huns.  By migration we mean that these tribes left their own places completely and transferred themselves and all they had t their new territory.

The Goths.  There are two groups of Goths: the Visigoths (West) and Ostrogoths (East).  The Visigoths lived on the north side of Black sea.  In 375 the Huns attacked them.  The Visigoths wanted to settle in the empire north of the capital.  Since they were not allowed they wanted to settle by force.  Theodosius permitted them to settle in Thrace and enrolled 40,000 of them in the imperial army.  Emperor Arcadius was against them.  But they fought and founded a visigothic kingdom that covered Liberian peninsula and half of France.  On their way they plundered Rome for three days.

The post apostolic age

The development of the church’s organization

In the post-apostolic period there was progress in ecclesiastical organization and it was observable everywhere. Individual congregation is clearly defined as regards its significance and function as part of the Church’s organism. The christians of a city were now everywhere joined together in separate congregations or leval churches. Among them Rome stood first.

            All christians belonged to the local congregations. They joined with all his brethren in the Eucharistic celebration, at which the unity of christians in meet clearly apparent. Ignatius of Antioch explains of this unity by various images and comparisons: the congregation is like a choir whose singers praise the Lord with one voice, or like a company of travelers following the directions of its Lord. In the first letter of Clement the unity of the congregation is symbolized by the harmony of universe or by time arrangement of the human body, in which each member has its appropriate function.  Hermas sees it in the image of a tower built upon the cornerstone that is Christ.

There was constant warning to safeguard the unity since there were tendencies to dispute and petty jealousy which sometimes led to divisions in the community. Schism and heresy were therefore considered as the great enemies of unity in the early church.

Leaders of the Congregation

According to the letter of Clement to Corinth, the leaders of the Congregation were divided into two groups: one bore the double designation of elders (presbyters) and overseers (episcopi) the other was represented by the deacons.

In the Shepherd of Hermas there found the two names overseers or elders for the holders of leading offices in the Church, deacons and teachers being mentioned as well.

The Didache names only overseers and deacons

Polycarp names only elders and deacons.

The letters of’ Ignatius distinguishes clearly between the three offices of overseers, elders and deacons. Every congregation had only one overseer or bishop, to whom the college of elders (priests) and deacons was subordinated. This shows that in Antioch and in a number of congregations in Asia Minor there existed in the second decade of the second century a monarchical episcopate: the government of the church was assigned to one bishop, but this was not the case everywhere.   The one office, which in apostolic times bore the double designation of episcope or presbyter, was divided into two and the term overseer or bishop reserved exclusively for the holder of the highest office, in the congregation.

The Apostolic Fathers partly worked out the theology of ecclesiastical offices of the authority of which is ultimately derived from God. He sent Christ who gave the apostles the commission to proclaim gospel. The apostles in their turn appointed overseers and deacons whose places were to be taken at their death by other approved men who would continue their work among the faithful. Thus Clement of Rome regarded the authority of heads of congregations as based upon Christ’s commission to the apostles, from whom all power of government in christian communities must be derived by uninterrupted succession.

Theology of episcopate according to St. Ignatius. He speaks about the complete and unconditional bond between the bishop and congregation. The latter was one with its bishop in thought and prayer; only with his did it celebrate agape and Eucharist. All should obey his as Christ did to his father. Nothing should take place in the congregation without the bishop. Even baptism and marriage were reserved to him. The presbyters and the deacons had a share in his authority. The bishop represented Christ.

Two factors worked together in order in that the bishops and his assistants might fulfill their official duty: i. apostolic – God given origin of their authority, ii. Guidance through the divine Spirit.

The working of the Holy Spirit was not limited to the leaders only, it could be felt everywhere among the faithful. There were tensions between these of laity who were favoured by the Spirit and the leaders of Congregation.

The individual congregations did not exist in isolation and self sufficiency. They formed a new people and were united under the banner of Christ, as one body -the Church of Christ. Ignatius of Antioch was the first to call this international community of tie faithful “Catholic Church”, whose visible bishop was Christ


            The first christian community was formed in Jerusalem. Christ was the centre of this community. It was Christ and His events that united the early christians together. Though they accepted christianity, they did not completely left their old Jewish traditions and customs. So too the other christians. The early christians formed their own communities cular customs of the place. Thus there formed communities with special features of the place. Those are called particular churches. Each particular church had its own liturgy, disciplinary laws, etc. We find a development in the worship, sacraments and spiritual life of these communities.

1. Holy Eucharist

Christ instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper (Mt.26, 26­29; Nk.14, 22-25; Lk.22, 15-20; I Cor.11, 23-26). It was on the Passover of the Jews.

The present mass has developed from two originally separate services, one Jewish, the other christian. The first part- the liturgy of the catechumens- is based on the procedure used in the synagogues. The second part – the mass of the faithful-comes from specifically christian community as ceremony of the Breaking of the Bread. The Jewish christians first attended the prayer in the synagogues and then they participated in the Breaking of the bread, which was usually conducted in the private houses. As the christians separated from the Jews, the two services came to form one. St. Paul did so in Troas (Acts. 20.7-11).

Description of St. Justine the Martyr

Justine was born around 100/110 in Nablus (Palestine) and was beheaded with six companions in 163/167 (165). He gives a detailed description of the Eucharist about the year 150. The christians gathered on Sunday (on the day named after the sun”). Then the “memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read aloud”. The reading in followed by the homily of the president and then come the prayers in common “for ourselves, for the newly baptized and for all others wherever they may be”. After this the catechumens left. The service of prayers and readings was terminated by the kiss of peace. The second part of the ceremony began with the bringing in of the sacrificial gifts though it is not clear who brought the broad and chalice with wine and water to the president. The essential element of this part is the prayer the president, which is called Eucharistia and in which he sends up praise and honour to the Father through the name of the Son and the Holy Spirit and gives thanks that the faithful had been given those gifts. The whole congregation confirmed and ratified the “Eucharistia” of the president with the Hebrew word “Amen”. The consecrated Eucharistic gifts were given by the deacons to all present, to be consumed, and portions were also taken to those who were absent. Justin emphasizes that only the baptized could receive this food, which was itself called Eucharist.

Two features stand out in an especially clear manner in this Eucharistic liturgy: i. the social character, it draws all the participants into the actual liturgical action and they ratify expressly the thanksgiving uttered by the leader and also share as a whole in the Eucharistic meal. Moreover, the Eucharistic prayer is primarily one of thanksgiving. Hence the word eucharietia became a technical term for the christian celebration of Mass. ii. The idea of sacrifice. Though there is no explicit mention of this idea in Justin’s Apology, it was by no means unknown to him and Eucharistia could certainly include for him the idea of sacrifice. Ireneus speaks more clearly on this point, emphasizing especially that the gifts of bread and wine, which by God’s word have become Christ’s flesh and blood, represent the pure sacrifice of the Now Covenant.

Hippolitus of Rome, the first anti-pope, accused pope Calistus (217-222) declared himself pope in 217 and remained so till his death in 235. (Urban 222-230). Pontianus (230-235). He met pope Pontianus in the prison and got martyrdom together with him in.235.

            Hippolitus in his Church Order, gives a double description of the celebration of Mass, explaining firstly how it is carried out in connection with the consecration of a bishop and secondly how the christian community celebrates Mass with its new1y baptized members. He gives a text of the Eucharistic prayer in full. In it only the beginning, end and the words of consecration are fixed, the rest depends on the inspiration and favour of the celebrant.

Hippolitus’s liturgy was intended as a guide and model formulary, the structure and fundamental ideas of which could be retained, but which might be varied and developed in detail. The bishop could therefore still on occasion freely create and shape the text, so that various types of Eucharistic prayers of thanksgiving were possible for the celebration of Mass in the 3rd c. Hippolitus does not mention Trishagion. But the form of Mass presented by Hippolitus can be regarded as a basic outline of the Eucharistic liturgy as it was generally celebrated in the Church in those days.

Tertullian (153-220) says that the faithful provided bread and wine for the sacrifice. The Eucharistic great prayer was addressed to the Father “Per Christum Jesum“‘. He explicitly stresses that Christ, with the words “hoc est corpus meum” makes the broad his body; but he does not clarify the position of Our Father and the place of kiss of peace in the Mass. The Eucharist was received under both kinds. The faithful could take consecrated, bread to home in order to receive it privately when they were prevented from attending divine worship. He does not name Sunday as the day preferred for celebrating the Eucharist, but he does mention Wednesday and Friday as days of the Stations, together with Mass. The Mass was also celebrated at the funeral and on the anniversary of the death. Since the second century the time for Mass had been in the early morning before sunrise. St. Cyprian celebrated Mass daily. If there were several churches in a town Eucharistic celebration was conducted only in the bishop’s church and sacred bread was taken to other churches by the deacons.

In the early church Eucharistic celebration was in the Private houses. Towards the end of the second century were constructed for the purpose. Music, incense, vestments, candles, bells etc were unknown in the first three centuries.

2. The discipline of the secret (disciplina arcane)

            This is a modern term for the early christian custom of keeping secret from the urinated (catechumens) the most important actions and texts of liturgical worship, especially baptism, the Eucharist, the Our Father, and the creed, or referring to them in the presence of unauthorized persons in veiled terms only. It began probably in the second century. Justin, Tertullian and Hippolitue speak about it. After the fifth century this practice died with that of the catechumanate.

3. Agape

Agape was one of the earliest forms of charitable activity. It was a meal in the Christian community intended to strengthen community spirit among their members of different social rank. It also provided material help to the poor and the needy within the community. They were held either in the private house of a well to do member of the congregation or in promises belonging to the church with the bishop presiding. The bishop could be represented by a priest or s deacon. The president inaugurates the meal with a payer said over the gifts that had been brought. The absent, sick and the widows were given their share of gifts. Abuse crept into it and it was forbidden. Finally the council of Trullo (692) forbade it conducting in the church.

4. Baptism

The baptism instituted by Christ was entirely different from those Jews and John the Baptist. It is a new birth (Jh.3, 5) and it demanded a metanoia. Christ entrusted his apostles the administering of baptism (Mt.28, 19). In the time of apostles baptism was conferred in a simple manner. It was enough to represent of ones own sins and to profess the christian faith. Baptism was preceded by the exhortation on the redemptive work of Christ and was followed by the imposition of hand with a prayer to receive the Holy Spirit.

Didache (2 c.) gives a detailed description of baptism. Immersion in living (flowing) water is desirable, but in exceptional cases it suffices to pour water thrice over the head of the person to be baptized. The Trinitarian formula is essential.

            In the early church a preparatory fast was prescribed to the baptized and the minister and also to the congregation, since a new member is incorporated into the community. Ignatius of Antioch qualifies baptism as a suit of armour. For him the healing power of the baptismal water is founded upon the sufferings of Christ. The epistle of Barnabas connects Cross and Baptism. According to Shepherd of Herman (140) baptism in the foundation of the christian’s life.

            In the second century there was a period preparation for baptism. Tertullian called it catechumanate. In the third century this period became long and strict. It could last two years.

            Hippolitus of Rome in his Apostolic Tradition speaks about the practice of baptism in the third century. The catechumanate was for three years. During this period they should prove themselves worthy of receiving baptism. Baptism was given by immersion of the head three times in the water. Confirmation was followed. Usually baptism was administered twice a year, at Easter and Pentecost. The baptized received while garment and they wore it   for a week. Later a lighter candle was given to the baptized to show Christ is exemplar.

Godparents can be seen from the time of Tertullian (2 c.). Symbolic acts like blessings, renunciation of Satan, exorcistic anointing, receiving of baptismal name are of later origin, probably in the third century. During the persecution the children of christian parents received baptism. Later baptism was postponed because the sinners were given severe punishments and baptism required only simple penance. There is evidence about infant baptism in the second century. Justin the martyr and Hippolitus speak about it.

5. The Penitential discipline of the early church

Christ instituted the sacrament of penance by giving the power to forgive sins to the apostles (Jo.20,22-23). The Fathers of the Church qualified the penance as the second baptism

In the apostolic period the view prevailed was that every sinner can obtain forgiveness again if he does penance. This conviction of the possibility of penance and reconciliation of the sinner with God and with the community also persisted in the sub-apostolic period. The conversion of the sinner is expressed in prayer of repentance,, fasting and almsgiving and an integral part of it consisted in confession of sinfulness before God and the community of the brethren. In the sub-apostolic period, too, penance was always something that concerned the community. The authorities attended to ecclesiastical discipline and excommunicated the obstinate sinner, that is, they excluded him from participation in religious life and broke off all association with him until he did penance. During the sinner’s time of excommunication the community tried to help him by its impetrative prayers.

Shepherd of Hermas (140) describes penance as the last chance to receive God’s mercy. It blots out post-baptismal sins. Among the penitential practices for the sinner, Hermas reckons confession of sins, payer, fasting, almsgiving and the humility with which he takes all these exercises upon himself. Hermas says that penance is not only a matter at between God and the sinner, but involves the church. The sinner is excluded from the church.

According to Ireneus of Lyons and Clement of Alexandria Penance is the second means to obtain salvation. Ireneus (140/160-200). Clement of Alexandria (150-215), Tertullian says that one can reconcile with God even at the death bed.

Sacraments of penance was administered differently in different places. In the African church a severe discipline was prevalent (St. Cyprian). Rome followed a mild form and Hippolitus accused pope Calixtus of his laxity. (St. Cyprian 200/10-258)

In the fourth century there arose the problem of lapsi. Synods in Rome and Carthage had decreed that lapsi could be reconciled after a long period of penance. Novatian was against it.

Those who committed capital sins (heresy, adultery, murder) had to undergo a long period of penance. They had to wear rough clothes and fast. They had to confess publicly before the bishop. The bishop or the priest forgives sins by imposing hands on the penitent.

In the third and fourth centuries in the Eastern Churches penitents were divided into groups, St. Basil (330-379) speaks about it:

1. Flentes (those who weep) they had to stand at the entrance of the church for four years begging the prayers of those who enter the church.

2. Audientes (those who hear) for five years, they could participate the first part of the Mass and then they had to leave.

3. Prostrati (those who kneel) for seven years. It is not clear whether this group remained in the church for the whole Mass or went out before the communion.

4. Consistentes (those who stand) for four years. They stood with the faithful for the whole time, but did not receive Holy Communion. cf. Gregory Thaumaturgus.

Thus a murderer was excluded from receiving sacraments for twenty years. And only after this period of penance he was admitted to the church and to receive Holy Communion.

            In the West there was no such division, but the penitents were given separate place in the church. The Ash Wednesday is a remnant of the penitential discipline of the Western church.  In the beginning the bishop used to give penance, but when the number increased he appointed one priest each in each diocese to give penance. He could hear confession and give penance.

In the Greek Church in the fourth and fifth centuries monks were giving absolution. The newly converted Anglo-Saxons were against the public confession and public penance. The Irish monks who did missionary work among these people had the practice of private confession and private penance. It could be repeated.

There is no much evidence to prove the practice of private penance in the first centuries. St. Augustine favoured it and he proposed private penance for private sine. Pope Gregory (590-604) followed St. Augustine.

Public penitents had to wear rough clothes and they had to leave their job. If he is a bachelor, he is not allowed to marry; if married, is not allowed to live with his wife. So the consent of the other party was required. In the Roman church the penitents were received to the church on Maundy Thursday. In the East it could be in any three days after Thursday.

In the first centuries the priests who did capital sine were asked to do public penance. In the fourth century they were sent out of their office, but not from the church, and they were not included among the penitents. They could receive Holy Communion as laymen.

The reason for the strict discipline in the early church was the moral laxity prevalent in the Roman Empire. There was the possibility that the faithful of going back to their old ways of life in the face of persecution. It was necessary to have a strict discipline to persist in true faith.

6. The religious and moral life

The early christians had a high moral standard which was praised by all. Their religious and moral life was quite different from others. St. Justin says that the christians led a life of truthfulness and chastity, they loved their enemies and went courageously to death for their beliefs. Bishop Theophilus of Antioch says: “among the christians is to be found prudence, self-control, sobriety is practiced, monogamy observed, chastity preserved, injustice abolished, sin with its root destroyed, justice is practiced, the law is kept and piety is in evidence all the day long. God is recognized and truth is considered the greatest good”. The letter to Diognetus has a hymnic chapter on the Christian’s daily life: “every foreign place is their home, and their home is a foreign place to them;… they dwell on earth, but their conversation is in heaven; they love all men and are persecuted by all; they are poor and enrich many. They are despised and are thereby glorified. They are insulted and they bless; they are mocked and show honour to those that mock them; punished with death, they rejoice as if they were awakened unto life. In brief, what the soul is to the body, the christians are to the world (ch.5.6).


Convocation address by His Beatitude Mar George Alenchery at Sanathana

Divyakarunya Vidyapeetham, Thamarassery

Monday 28th November 2011 – The Convocation Day

Convocation address by His Beatitude Mar George Alenchery,

The Major Arch-Bishop of Syro-Malabar Church


Dear and Very Rev Fr George Kizhakkemury, the Superior General of the congregation and the Chancellor of the Divyakarunya Vidhyapeetham, Very Rev Fr Provincials, Rev Fr Rector, Rev Fr President of the  Vidhyapeetham and Rev Fr dean of Studies,  My dear Rev Fathers and Dear Brothers,

I just start todays talk to you recalling as Fr General said, my friendship with the MCBS – Missionary Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament.  You know it was a natural affection that came into my person that I continued from the seminary days until today; and hope also in future. This is not simply a human friendship but also a Spiritual affinity; because the Charism that your congregation has in the holy bible and the Holy Eucharist and that goes to the heart of the Church and that’s only I think everybody in the Church will have – an appreciation and a gratitude to the MCBS. Secondly I congratulate all the candidates who have received the decrees in theology and also diplomas in theology. You have received the fruits of your toil and voile in this Vidhyapeetham and also your formation in the seminary. So my hearty congratulations, best wishes and Prayers for your academic work in the Church. Thirdly I would like to recall to you and to me the memory of my dear young friend Fr Roy Mulakupadom. Right from the choice of his vocation I was and as you were sad in his demise I also was very much taken up by pain because of his sudden departure from this world. We do not know the God’s design for each one of us. We have to accept it when God reveals it to us. So present his soul for God’s mercy and eternal repose

Let me begin today my reflections with you recalling the mission command of the Lord. The Lord says, “go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to observe that all that I have taught you” this is the fundamental Mission command that we receive from the gospel of St Mathew. I start this reflection today with this verse from the gospel because you are a missionary congregation; secondly we are in the Mission Year. For this double reason I thought the convocation address today is well suited to be started with these verse of the Gospel. We know that this is a triple command. The first command is to make disciples of all nations. It is a very sharp command and also very extensive. Sharp in the sense to make a human being a disciple of Christ is not an easy job; it is a mission that goes to the heart of a person who is evangelizing, who is missionary, and also to the heart of one who seeks the message of the gospel. So it is a heart to heart exchange of faith that happens in individuals; a heart to heart exchange or participation in faith. I don’t know whether we have understood the depth of the mission command of the Lord when he says, “make disciples of all nations.” Because in mark it is “to preach the gospel to all the creatures”; that may be a general command; and we all are taken up by that general command. Preaching the gospel of Christ directly and indirectly and also by the apostolic words of peace. This is the common way of wishing in the Church and also in Syro-Malabar Church. And now this is the time that we have to focus more and more of making disciples. Before making disciples we have to be disciples of the Lord. So becoming disciple is the first step of making disciples. And in the seminary and by the academic formation what we gain in the institute like this is nothing but discipleship both in life and action.     The Lord Jesus prayed for his 12 men for this discipleship and there were also a group of 72 men who were also prayed by the Lord for this discipleship.  So Discipleship is a fundamental condition to become really a good missionary. And I don’t know whether all those who are in the formation houses and all in our faculties are really taken up by this bound duty of becoming real Disciples of Christ. We learn many things in the seminary regarding discipleship and the cost of discipleship and so on; but I do not know whether we become really like the master. The Lord has said that we have to become like the master. A disciple is to become like the master. It is said of St Francis of Assisi, that he was called at his time as another Christ – altar Christus. Sometimes it is translated in Malayalam as randam christhu, which is wrong translation. There is no second, third, fourth Christ like that. Altar Christus! Another Christ! Who lived like Christ. Who really gave Christ to others, whose appearance and action gave the presence and action of Jesus Christ in the world. So it is up to every priest whether he is religious or not to become altar Christus in life and action and become really a disciple like and through the master.  This must be really the actual job of every seminarian or the religious candidate one who wants to become a consecrated person. Consecrated set apart sanctified for the Lord to do his mission in this world. And such a kind of discipleship is the real challenge for every seminarian, for every candidate of the religious priesthood of today.

The world has changed much and much of the world has come into the Church. And the Church has to really sanctifying all those elements that have come into the Church. It is good that there is an exchange of the Church with the world because there is no real dichotomy between the secular and the Spirit. The Spiritual embraces the secular, the secular enters in to the Spiritual; and this is what we have to aim at. And such a kind of exchange and assimilation of the secular in to the Spiritual and the Spiritual embracing the secular every   seminarian or religious candidate has to become really conscious of it and really transformed by it and really becoming Christ’s mission in this world. Christ’s mission in this world.

One year back the Holy Father ordained four candidates to Episcopacy.  These were people who were working in the Castries of Rome. And after ordaining them, the Holy Father addressed them and said, dear brother bishops “you are your mission” and secondly he said, “we are our mission”. We the bishops are our mission that means there is no real distinction between the person and the mission. The person becomes the mission. Jesus was like that. He was God in man and as God-man he really gave to the world God and that is why the Spiritual in him entered into the secular and the secular was really sanctified and it is said of Jesus in this prayer. “O Lord, so that they may be in us I sanctify myself”. Whatever there was to be sanctified simply filling the world, filling the world in him with the Spirit of God. That is sanctification. So he did that the whole world become Spirit filled by the action of Christ; and such a work has to be continued in the world we have been so much Spiritually filled embraced by the Spirit of Christ so that we may give Spirit in to the world. This kind of sanctification has to continue. So making disciples is the deep sense of Christ and of the Church – this deep conviction of Christ and the Church in ours. Secondly we know that baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son… the whole sacramental mystery is involved there. Church is the sacrament of Christ in the world and this sacrament is realized through the persons in the Church. The sacraments are really fulfilled in the recipients. The recipients become the reality of the sacraments. The Baptized becomes the really immersed person in Jesus Christ. The anointed person becomes really the person who is filled with the gifts and charisms of the Holy Spirit, like in a sacrament. So it is the sacrament of reality means to be imbibed by the whole reality of our Lord Jesus Christ. Then there is a third command of Lord “teaching them all that I have taught.” The real catechesis that pervades the whole realm of activity of the Church; that is pervading the whole realm catechesis is not only simply for the children.  Even we are all catechized. Even theology is giving meaning to the doctrinal truths in the life situations of the world. Explaining the mystery of Christ and the mystery of the Church and the mystery of the whole world. The mystery of Christ and the Church enters in to the cosmic mystery of God’s creation. The whole creation is really sanctified by the theologizing. In the past, in the 60’s and even before many of the theologians taught that theology is a science it is enough that i teach it, is not up to me whether they live it or not. I am a professor of theology.  Look here in the west countries people taught like that and I have heard professors teaching or telling me like that. I explain to you what the doctrines of the Church are basing on the word of God, it is not up to you to look up to my life; I am a professor. Really a contradictory term! If you become a theologian first of all you have to become a disciple of Christ; we are all mission; we have to be converted. Theology is not like any other science – theology is the science of the mystery of Christ. The mystery of Christ is realized in each one of us. So a theologian has to become really a person who follows Christ and who practices the values of the gospel according to the teachings of the Church. Third, as I said earlier, the first responsibility the disciple and the candidates of priesthood and to the consecrated life to be fully filled with the reality of Christ and the reality of the Church there is no difference actually between the reality of Christ and the reality of the Church of course one is the incarnated reality that continues in the world and other reality of Christ is incarnated reality also in this world in its glorified form today. So Jesus is a being priest and being administered and being also lived as the life of love in the Church. He is present in each one of us with the charisms and gifts that he has given to each one of us in this ways. So that kind of mystery of the reality of Christ being realized in the lives of each one of us is an important reflection for the people in the Church. You know that, in the recent times, from 1970’s onwards even today that continues, and there is trend in the Church that has becomes earlier challenge for the followers of Christ. And the western countries are really struggling to come out of it, struggling to come out of that challenge. After the council Vatican II many people thought that the Church was really estranged from the world. It was to some extent true and in order to get the world in to the reality of the Church; I think many went too far, they went too far that means they tried the Spirit of the world much more than giving the Spirit of Christ in the world. Thus the contrary happened, both in theology and also in moral. And we know the level of the morals in the present world and especially in the west, of course we may think that the West is going bad and we are really in the high time. I give you matter to reflect more to make such a judgment. The world reality is now moving onward as a whole as one whole it is moving before because of the globalization. So it is up to us Christians especially theologians and philosophers in the Church to really evaluate the situation and give a correct orientation in to the student in the campuses and theologates of our Church. Recently, I mean in the coming days, we will have a meeting in the Curia at Kakkanad, of all the rectors and presidents of all of the seminary the first time that we think of calling all the responsible person in the formation institutes to come and reflect together. Formerly we were doing under the offices of Church to appoint commissions of bishops to address the administration of each major seminary conducted directly by the Synod.  But we cannot close up like that; the Synod of Bishops thought that we should cross up to the Church as a whole whether in case the seminarians directly under the synod or by the dioceses or by the Religious congregations, we are all working for the Church and the world. So let us have to address these problems on one level that is the intention of coming together of the responsible persons of the   Seminaries and institutes. So what I am trying to say is that much of the philosophies and much of the ideologies of the world has coming to the Church is good, If it is really taken up according to the personal values and according to the doctrines of the Church.  The gospel values and the traditions that have developed in the Church is the criteria for us get in to the world and also to take the world in to us. We have to do it. The dialogue of the Church and the world is a must. And this dialogue has to be both in word and deed, according to the mind of Christ and according to the Spirit of the doctrines of the Church. This is the great challenge both for you students and also for the professors and the responsible persons in the formation.  The Bishops can only supervise this realities. You are really in the mission. So what the Lord wanted of making disciples has to go to all the institutes and seminaries of formation so that we become really imbibed by the Spirit of Christ as persons and one reality in the Church. And as far as we are an individual oriental Church and that traces its origin to the apostolic times, it is not a matter to be taken as a point of glory for us. Very often we may think like that, our forefathers were preached by St. Thomas, the apostle. I would be very happy if I were baptized only yesterday, because the one who is baptized yesterday has the same dignity before the Lord, by the persons who are coming in the great tradition; or you should imbibe the values of the tradition and give your dignity in the best way possible for the generation for there is something like that in the Church. We had really taken the Spirit of St. Thomas, the apostle and the apostolic times and there is a faith traditions and the moral life pattern in the Syro Malabar Church; let us be thankful to the Lord for that. But instead of simply glorifying ourselves on that level we have to be really taking the responsibility of becoming more and more that Spirit and then give that Spirit to others.

Our mission is an apostolic mission. Apostolic mission means, which comes from the responsibility of an apostle. An apostle is a disciple who is sent to preach and to act. Sent to preach and to act, there is a difference. Any disciple can be in the Church but he need not to be sent. But the priest is sent and the Bishop is sent. He cannot be remaining restless, remaining in an inactive mood. He has to be restless. He has to be really taken up by the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of mission and he has to prove he is worth. He is a person like Jesus who said that we have a baptism to be baptized with and also a chalice to drink, and Jesus was always preoccupied with this mission which he has to fulfill, the mystery of Christ. This is the mystery of Christ, both in word and in deed. Work by preaching and by action and the action that culminated in the death on the cross and was glorified in the resurrection. This total reality of the mystery of Christ is that really calls you in your charism. It is great mystery that you celebrate in your Holy Qurbana. You have taken on the charism of the whole Church, the charism of your particular Church; and you are thus becoming an ecclesial reality, your religious congregation. You are thus becoming an ecclesial mission for the Syro Malabar Church and for the Universal Church. So what a noble charism that your fathers have been working! Taking the very same reality of the Church into your persons in your reality as a congregation and implanting it wherever you go and share it with others and thus becoming the mystery of Christ spread all over the world. You make disciples, you administer sacraments, you also preach the people to observe what the Lord has taught. Such a kind of central charism has gone up into your own religious vocation or vocation to the consecrated life. I just mentioned that there are philosophies and ideologies that come into the Church. And each philosophies and ideologies are very much attracting the youth of today; the younger generation of the people who are called to the ministry in the Church. It is a natural process of globalization.

Many things come to us as ideologies through all the media – print media, electronic media, internet media – then you become really absorbed in them. When we were studying as seminarians before 1960s this was not at all a temptation. You see it was our time that this transistors and radios came and then people were controlled as you are controlled now in your internet machine or internet use, we were controlled in the use of the radio. Now nobody wants radio. But that was a big attraction. There were seminarians who used to hide these transistors and radios, small radios under their bed and hear it; and they were caught and punished. As you are now doing some mischiefs     regarding the internet and you are punished sometimes I don’t know. This was the situation. But after the print media, this radio, television… I was sent for studies in 1981, then there was no television in Kerala or in India.

When I came back in 1986 all most all the home had a television; I was taken up by that. Even in France where I studied people were not so much taken up by this new mode of media.  But we, in India were all taken up by that everybody wants to see the television was then the model. Now people don’t like even television; all have gone to internet, mobile phones, chatting; all those things you know. So this is how the world changes. So the world is coming every ideology is coming into our mind and I tell you that, this is one of the temptations of us today or attractions of men today or seminarians today. We have to take the ideas of the world and then to propagate them with the use of the gospel and the doctrines of the Church. Making just the contrary is our mission. We are the people who have to preach the gospel values and the mission of the Church by the help of the internet or the other media. We just take the other way, and each one of us try to take really an image of ourselves rather than the image of Christ.

You know about the ‘men Gods’, I don’t know if they are Gods; they are not God men, men Gods – Aal Deivangal.   Aal deivangal in other religions! And in a way we do have also the attraction to become aal deivangal  instead of becoming confirmed to Christ  we are making Christ to confirm to ourselves.  It is a very dangerous trend that comes in to the world. This is what the Holy Father called the tyranny of relativism. The objective reality of Christ and the Church is forgone and instead of that our reality is projected with the help of Christian doctrines and also gospel values. We do not do it consciously; unconsciously this trend is coming to us. So my dear friends, I call you like that, because you have to be closely related to the interests of the Church and then take this reflection seriously; and really following Christ and his mystery which is your charism and also the mystery of the Church as the mystery of the cosmos and relate ourselves in that Spirit of Christ to  the world. Whether it be regarding the doctrines or in the morals. How much the morals have come down even in the lives of the religious and the priests and the bishops, I would say. How it happened? Relativism of truth! Relativism of Morals! For everything I or you become the criterion rather than Christ and his gospel and the Church. This is the danger. Let us reflect on it. In all the faculties you have to reflect on it. And I tell you if you do not have a philosophy to live with, we will philosophize what we do. And I repeat, if you do not have a philosophy to live with, we will philosophize what we do. When something goes wrong in the Church, the person who is responsible is called and taken for a dialogue, and the person will philosophize whatever he does. He will find a reason for everything as if it is good. Even if it is a moral failure, he will say it happened because it is like that and so on. He will find a way. Actually he will have to find the way of the Lord. “I am the way, the truth and the life”. And it is in Jesus who is the way that we find the truth and we attain the life. Instead of that we break Christ into our own way, into our own life pattern and then we explain everything; it is the very dangerous, danger in our present day times. I only present this thought for your reflection for this convocation address and let us have a real reflection in these days of your studies and many of you have completed your studies; but study never completes. Because you will learn even at the death bed.

There was a father when I was studying in Paris who had always this imitation of Christ at his side. He was 93 years old.  And he used to read every day. And once I asked the father. The name of the father was Oben, Father Oben why should you read even now this Imitation of Christ? You are already a Christ imitator. To make him happy also I said like that because he was Holy man.   And then he said, “My dear brother George, my dear George, Is this the theology that you studied? Then I am very unhappy about it”.  And he corrected me telling that every day you have to be confirmed it to Jesus Christ. How much difficult the world is my dear brother. I took it as a lesson. I will tell you another small incident in my seminary days, minor seminary days. I had a minor seminary professor, Vice Rector. One day he took me for an outing. Outing means not walking; He took me for outing by bus. So we were waiting for bus.  The bus is not coming. It is in 1960s. The buses were very few and we were waiting. And I was becoming restless and I was going just ahead and looking whether the bus is coming. I was doing it every 5 mnts and like that. And then the father called me, and he used to call me by house name. “Alanchery what are we doing?” then I said, “We are wasting time, father.”  Then he said, No, we are practicing patience. We are practicing patience.  That struck in to my heart.  So there are many things every day that we have to learn every day according to the mind of Christ and of the Church. 

The Holy Father is struggling to explain the mystery of Christ to the world that is secularized. We have no struggle at all. We are not at all worried about that. We are happy with the Lord that is given to us and we don’t work and we never struggle at all. My dear brothers our work is very serious, our mission is the mission of Jesus, our mission is the mission of the Church. The more you are imbibed by the Spirit of Christ, the more you are imbibed by the Church, the more or the better will be your service. Let us become really meaningful servants in the Church, of his gospel and also his life of love.

I conclude; may God bless you. And all your activities be for the glory of the Church universal, and in particular the Church Syro- Malabar

Thank you

Ecclesiastical and Religious Vocation

Ecclesiastical and Religious Vocation

An ecclesiastical or religious vocation is the special gift of those who, in the Church of God, follow with a pure intention the ecclesiastical profession of the evangelical counsels. The elements of this vocation are all the interior and exterior helps, the efficacious graces which have led to the taking of the resolution, and all the graces which produce meritorious perseverance.

Ordinarily this vocation is revealed as the result of deliberation according to the principles of reason and faith ; in extraordinary cases, by supernatural light so abundantly shed upon the soul as to render deliberation unnecessary. There are two signs of vocation: the one negative, the absence of impediment ; the other positive, a firm resolution by the help of God to serve Him in the ecclesiastical or religious state.

If God leaves a free choice to the person called, he leaves none to those whose duty it is to advise; those spiritual directors or confessors who treat lightly a matter of such importance, or do not answer according to the spirit of Christ and the Church, incur a grave responsibility. It is their duty also to discover the germ of a vocation, and develop it by forming the character and encouraging the generosity of the will.

These rules are sufficient for a decision to follow the evangelical counsels, as they may be practised even in the world. But the nature of the ecclesiastical state and the positive constitution of the religious state require some further remarks. Unlike the observance of the evangelical counsels, the ecclesiastical state exists primarily for the good of religious society ; and the Church has given the religious state a corporate organization. Those who belong to a religious order not only follow the evangelical counsels for themselves, but are accepted by the Church, more or less officially, to represent in religious society the practice of the rules of perfection; and to offer it to God as a part of public worship. (See RELIGIOUS LIFE; VOWS.) From this it follows that the ecclesiastical profession is not as accessible to all as the religious state; that in order to enter the religious state at the present day, conditions of health, of character, and sometimes of education are required which are not demanded by the evangelical counsels taken in themselves; and that, both for the religious and for the ecclesiastical state, admission by lawful authority is necessary.

At the present day, it is necessary that two wills should concur before a person can enter the religious state; it has always been necessary that two wills should concur before one can enter the ranks of the clergy. The Council of Trent pronounces an anathema on a person who represents as lawful ministers of the Gospel and the sacraments any who have not been regularly ordained and commissioned by ecclesiastical and canonical authority (Sess. XXIII, iii, iv, vii). A vocation which is by many persons called exterior thus comes to be added to the interior vocation; and this exterior vocation is defined as the admission of a candidate in due form by competent authority.

The question of vocation itself so far as the candidate is concerned may be put in these terms: Are you doing a thing which is pleasing to God in offering yourself to the seminary or the novitiate ? And the answer depends on the preceding data: yes, if your intention is honest, and if your