WORSHIP (FROM THE GROUND UP): BIBLICAL AND HISTORICAL LESSONS
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He refers to Cain and Abel as the earliest examples of the two types of man. The Roman Empire was an example of the city of man which had just been sacked by Alaric in and was the occasion of the book. Augustine was a living example of God's grace that transformed nature. He died August 28, , during the sack of Hippo by the Vandals.
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August 28 is celebrated as his Feast Day in the liturgical calendar. Pope Leo entered the Papacy at a difficult time. Alaric had sacked Rome in , and the Huns and the Visigoths were gaining strength. However the Pope proved to be a master statesman and history has deservedly accorded him the title of Pope Leo the Great.
One of his first actions in was to bless the missionary efforts of St. Patrick and to ordain him as Bishop of Ireland. A tension in Church authority between papal leadership and collegiality of the bishops was developing over theological questions. Rome was the place of martyrdom for Saints Peter and Paul.
Rome's position as the capital of the Roman Empire was also supportive of a leadership role for the Bishop of Rome. The Bishop of Rome as successor to St. Peter was the Pastor and Shepherd of the whole Church, as seen with St. The independent Church of the East in Persia believed in two distinct natures dyophysite in Christ and did not accept the wording. Pope Leo synthesized the thought of the differing Schools of Antioch and Alexandria in a letter known as the Tome.
The Council of Chalcedon in was the Fourth Ecumenical Council, which supported Leo's stance that Christ had two natures, Divine and human in perfect harmony, in one Person or hypostasis. This set the theology for Roman and Byzantine theology and was important for European unity. Just one year later , Attila and the Huns were threatening outside the walls of Rome.
Pope Leo met Attila, who decided to call off the invasion! The Monastic Orders have been a premium influence on the formation of Christian culture. For not only have they been islands of asceticism and holiness that have served as ideals to a secular world, but also they have provided many if not most of the religious leaders within each historic age, especially during times of renewal and reform. The word monos is the Greek word for one or alone. Monasticism began in the East and spread throughout Europe and saved European civilization.
The practice of leaving the ambitions of daily life and retreating to the solitude of the desert was seen throughout Palestine, Syria, and Egypt, St. John the Baptist Mark an early example.
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The father of Christian monasticism was St. Antony of the Desert , the first of the Desert Fathers. Antony of Egypt took to heart the words of Christ to the rich young man, " Go sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven" Matthew He headed across the Nile to a mountain near Pispir to live a life of solitude, prayer, and poverty. Soon many gathered around him to imitate his life, living as hermits in nearby caves in the mountain, and in he emerged from solitude to teach his followers the way of the ascetic.
He then moved further into the desert by Mount Kolzim near the Red Sea, where a second group of hermits gathered and later formed a monastery. He lived there for 45 years until his death in Maron , a contemporary of St. John Chrysostom, was a monk in the fourth century who left Antioch for the Orontes River to lead a life of holiness and prayer. As he was given the gift of healing, his life of solitude was short-lived, and soon he had many followers that adopted his monastic way.
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Following the death of St. Maron in , his disciples built a monastery in his memory, which would form the nucleus of the Eastern Catholic Maronite Church of Lebanon. The fall of the Roman Empire to the barbarian invasions left European civilization in disarray, for the social structure under one ruler in Rome was destroyed.
The preservation of culture and the conversion of the barbarians to Christianity was left to an unlikely group: the monastics of Europe. Their missionary efforts converted one tribe after another, so that eventually all of Europe was united in the worship of the one Christian God. Patrick as Apostle to Ireland founded the monastery of Armagh in and other monasteries throughout Ireland.
As the social unit in Ireland and much of Europe at the time was the tribe in the countryside, the monastery was the center of Church life and learning. The Irish monks that followed him converted much of northern Europe. The lasting legacy of the Irish monks has been the present-day form of confession. In early times, penance was in public and severe, often lasting for years, such that Baptism was generally postponed until one's deathbed.
The Irish monks began private confession and allowed one to repeat confession as necessary. The monk St. Benedict was born in Nursia of nobility but chose a life of solitude in Subiaco outside of Rome. Soon he moved nearby to build a monastery at Monte Cassino in and there wrote the Rule of Benedict.
Monte Cassino placed all of the monks in one monastery under an abbot. The guiding principle for the monastery was ora et labora , or pray and work. The monastery provided adequate food and a place to sleep and served as a center of conversion and learning. Known for its moderation, Monte Cassino and Benedict's rule became the standard for monasteries throughout Europe and the pattern for Western civilization. The first monk to become Pope was St.
Gregory the Great Born to Roman nobility, Gregory at first pursued a political career and became Prefect of Rome. However he gave up position and wealth and retreated to his home to lead a monastic life. He was recalled to Rome and soon was elected Pope in and served until his death in A man of great energy, he is known for four historic achievements.
His theological and spiritual writings shaped the thought of the Middle Ages ; he made the Pope the de facto ruler of central Italy; his charisma strengthened the Papacy in the West; and he was dedicated to the conversion of England to Christianity. Gregory sent the monk Augustine to England in The conversion of King Aethelbert of Kent led St. Augustine to be named the first Archbishop of Canterbury.
Soon English Benedictine monks were being sent to convert the rest of Europe, such as the English monk Winfrid, better known as St. Boniface , who served from as the Apostle to Germany. Boniface in his conversion of Germany. His son Pepin and the Papacy formed an historic alliance. Pepin needed the blessing of the Pope in his seizure of leadership of Gaul from the Merovingians. Pepin died in and divided his realm between his two sons, Carloman and Charles. Charles, known as Charlemagne , took over all of Gaul upon the death of his brother in , and soon conquered most of mainland Europe.
He was a vigorous leader and ruled until Charlemagne was a strong supporter of Christianity. During his reign, Christianity became the guiding principle of the Carolingian Empire, as the Church established a powerful presence throughout Europe. He instituted a school of learning in his palace at Aachen. In the Middle Ages there was in theory a division between temporal power and spiritual authority, but in practice one saw a strong Emperor take control of some spiritual affairs and a strong Pope take control of some affairs of state.
Charlemagne, as Constantine, considered himself the leader of Christendom as political head of state and protector of the Church. The historian Christopher Dawson called this the beginning of medieval Christendom. The Byzantine Empire of the East, with its capital in Constantinople, flourished for a thousand years.
The Empire reached its zenith under Emperor Justinian, the author of the Justinian Code of Law, who ruled from to Justinian built the beautiful Church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople in , which became a center of religious thought. The Byzantine or Greek liturgy is based on the tradition of St. Basil and the subsequent reform of St. John Chrysostom. The Byzantine missionaries Saints Cyril and Methodius brought Orthodox Christianity to Moravia, and Cyril created the Cyrillic alphabet for their liturgy, which became the basis of the Slavic languages, including Russian.
Kiev was once the capital of the country of Kievan Rus, which comprised the modern nations of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. In the sixteenth century, a Russian mystic Philotheus of Pskof noted that Rome and Constantinople, the second Rome, had fallen, but "Moscow, the third Rome," stands.
The Russian Orthodox Church today is the largest Eastern Orthodox faith with over million members. One of the most tragic events in Church history has been the Schism of between what is now the Catholic Church in Rome and the Byzantine or Eastern Orthodox Church in Constantinople. The actual event occurred on July 16, The abrasive Cardinal Humbert laid a papal bull of excommunication after Pope Leo had died on the altar right during the Liturgy at the Church of Hagia Sophia, which led the Eastern Church to excommunicate the envoy.
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While the event did not end the relationship between the Eastern and Western Churches, it became symbolic for the distrust and strain between the East and the West that developed through the centuries. The break was sealed in with the sacking of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade. Rome and Constantinople had been able to agree through three more Councils.