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Explanation of the Traditional Latin Mass | History Corner

November 10, 2019, Bulletin... The History Corner - The Iconoclastic Controversies

It's important to explain how the Eastern and Western Churches began to grow apart. The city of Byzantium was renamed Constantinople by Constantine in 330AD. Byzantines were Roman in their laws, Greek in their culture, and oriental in their habits. As a result, Byzantine Christianity developed differently than the west. In the west, lack of political structure gave rise to missionaries and the concept of universality. In the east, any missionary activity tended to result in national churches and ultimately many schisms.

An icon is a flat, two-dimensional picture of Christ, Mary, or one of the saints. They are aids for Christian piety with highly ritualized prayer before them. They are seen as an invitation to prayer, not something to be worshiped. The word "iconoclast" literally means "image breaker". It was a title given to those who opposed icons but today usually refers to someone who is generally against religious art/imagery. By the 8th century, abuses of icons had sprung up among the faithful. They believed that icons held special powers which led to more superstition. The first commandment also states that you shall not make for yourself a graven image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above. However, this is referring to that which would then be worshiped itself.

The First Iconoclasm: Emperor Leo III ruled from 717-741AD. His first goal was unity. He wanted Muslims and Jews to convert to Christianity, but both groups opposed icons. In 726AD, he issues an edict declaring that all icons were occasions for idolatry and ordered their destruction. Pope St. Gregory II officially condemned Leo's edict, and when many Eastern monks refused to give up their icons, Leo III had them killed and their icons destroyed. Pope St. Gregory III (not the II) convened two councils in Rome that condemned Leo and excommunicated him. Leo III continued his policies, however, and because of this the Eastern and Western Churches were not in communion on this matter. Constantine V succeeds Leo III and continued the policy of iconoclasm. He convened the non-ecumenical council of Hiereia in 754AD which was carefully orchestrated to give him the results that he wanted.

In 780, Empress Irene, the mother to the child-heir of the empire, convinced Pope Adrian I to convene a council. The patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem were not allowed to attend, however, by their Muslim ruler. The council, Nicea II (the 7th ecumenical council in 787), declared the acceptance of the veneration, not worship, of icons. It also officially denounced iconoclasm as a heresy. Icons may be venerated through acts of respect and honor, such as bowing, lighting candles, and burning incense. These acts are honoring the person the icon represents, not the image itself. Only God is worthy of absolute adoration.

The Second Iconoclasm: The second iconoclasm lasted from about 815-843AD. It was begun by Emperor Leo V to strengthen the influence and power of the military. Iconoclasm was still popular in the military and upper tiers of society and Leo hoped to solidify his base. In 843, Empress Theodora deposed the Patriarch of Constantinople who was an iconoclast. Under the new Patriarch, iconoclasm was finally suppressed. As a side note, Patriarch is a title given to an Archbishop who rules a specific city/archdiocese of historical note/importance. There were five major Patriarchs: Rome (the pope), Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Alexandria.

Scripture Readings 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14, 2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5; Luke 20:27-38


November 3, 2019, Bulletin... The History Corner - St. Benedict, the Rise of Islam, and the Conversion of the Barbarians

St. Benedict is considered the father of western monasticism. He lived from 480-547AD. He was educated in Rome, but the moral decay of the city caused him to leave the city and live as a hermit. Others began to join him as his reputation of sanctity increased. Eventually, he would found twelve monasteries around Italy. The 13th monastery, Monte Cassino, was where he would spend the later years of his life. Monte Cassino was tragically destroyed during World War II by Allied bombers, but the tombs of Benedict and Scholastica were unharmed, and the monastery was rebuilt to its original specifications.

At Monte Cassino, St. Benedict composed his famous Rule. The Rule of St. Benedict would be adopted by almost all monastic communities in medieval Europe. He divides life into four parts, each comprising a totaled amount of time during the day. Chanting the psalms and reciting prayers in community was to comprise four hours. Private prayer and scripture reading was to comprise four hours. Physical labor was to comprise six hours, and meals and sleep were to comprise ten hours. Monastic life is lived in common, and no one is to own private property. Benedict intended the monastery to be a family and a self-sustaining community.

Muhammad died in 632AD, and within 80 years of his death, Islam spread from the Indus River, through north Africa, and into southern Spain. In 711AD, all of Spain fell. In 732, Muslims crossed the Pyrenees into France where they were met by Charles "the Hammer" Martel. After Martel defeated the Muslims at the Battle of Tours, they never crossed into France again. They attempted to take Constantinople twice but were defeated by Emperor Leo III.

Unlike most of the Germanic tribes who were practicing the Arian heresy, the Franks were not even Christian. Then the Frankish chief, Clovis, was introduced to a beautiful Christian princess, St. Clotilda. She worked to convert her husband, but the early death of their first child convinced Clovis that the Christian god was ineffective. While fighting another tribe, Clovis promised that if he was victorious, he would convert. After his victory, he was baptized along with 3000 of his troops. Clovis then conquered and annexed the rest of Gaul, uniting it under the Christian banner.

Spain was Christian while under the Roman Empire, claiming to have been evangelized by St. James. The Visigoths, who were Arian, conquered Spain and orthodox Catholicism lagged. With the Muslim conquest, it all but disappeared except in the north. It was until 1492 that Spain would be fully Christian again.

As a priest, St. Patrick was commissioned by the pope to aid the bishop of Ireland. On the way to Ireland, he was informed of the bishop's death, and Patrick was consecrated the new bishop upon his arrival. Within a generation of St. Patrick's work, all of Ireland had converted. St. Patrick promoted the founding of many monasteries in Ireland which gave rise to Irish monasticism.

Irish monasticism didn't follow the Rule of St. Benedict but rather the more austere Eastern monasticism. Anything that could be done to deny the body comfort was done to bring the soul closer to God. By the early 6th century, Irish monasteries were the most important centers of learning in all of Europe. There weren't even any diocesan priests in Ireland, just the monks. By the 800's, their influence began to decline as tensions rose with the mainland and Viking invasions plagued the island.

Scripture Readings 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time - Wisdom 11:22-12:2; 2 Thessalonians 1:11-2:2; Luke 19:1-10


October 27, 2019, Bulletin... The History Corner - Later Heresies and the Rise of Monasticism

There are a few more heresies I'd like to mention that occurred around and after the Council of Nicea and Arianism, mostly because in many ways these heresies still exist today, just under different names.

Donatism was around from about 311-411AD. It rejected the validity of sacraments that were celebrated by priests and bishops who had formerly betrayed their faith during the persecutions. They even re-baptized people who joined their movement because they only considered the sacrament valid if they did it. St Augustine was their biggest opponent. He taught that Christ is the true minister of every sacrament. The worthiness of the person celebrating it is separate from the validity and efficacy of the sacrament. In today's world, with sin abounding amongst clergy as much as anyone, it's important to remember who the true minister of the sacrament is.

Pelagianism was around from the late 300's-431AD. The basic premise is that man can be redeemed and sanctified without grace. Salvation can be achieved solely through human endeavor. That's like saying that I'm going to build a rocket and fly to heaven. It's trying to achieve the supernatural through natural means. We do this today, where people claim that as long as they're good people, they'll go to heaven, ignoring the fact that we require the grace we receive from the sacraments in order to do this.

The traditional fall of Rome and the Western Roman Empire is dated in 476AD. The fall of Rome brought about the collapse of intellectual activity in the west. The loss of literacy meant that people could no longer read the scriptures. Academic training was limited to priests and religious. Roads became unsafe, crime increased, and cities and towns shrank. The Church shifted then to evangelize the "barbarians" now living in the former Roman Empire. This meant less philosophy and theology.

Monasticism is a way of life characterized by prayer and self-denial lived in seclusion from the world and under a fixed rule with professed vows. Those who enter seek to model themselves on Christ by dedicating their lives to prayer and penance. There are two types of monasticism: eremitical and cenobitical. Eremitical is individuals living the ascetic life, also sometimes called a hermit. Cenobitical is monastic life lived in community. Monasticism started with the eremitical life with St. Paul of Thebes and St. Anthony of the Desert. The cenobitical life was started by St. Pachomius in Egypt.

Monasteries served three purposes for the Church: they were a source of great spiritual strength, they served as seminaries for priests and bishops, and they functioned as centers of evangelization of the barbarian tribes through various forms of education. Monasteries also had three major effects on Europe: first they helped recover and evangelize rural society. As cities emptied out, communities became scattered and isolated. Monasteries were founded around them to educate and evangelize the population. They had an intellectual effect as they were the chief centers of learning until universities. The monks would study and copy the literary works of Greco-Roman civilization to preserve the texts and the knowledge. Monasteries also had a civilizing effect on Europe. The Germanic peoples were not very "civilized", and monasteries helped to change that. The tribes were attracted to the holiness and goodness of the monks/nuns. They in turn taught the tribes carpentry, masonry, ironwork, and how to farm.

Scripture Readings 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18; 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18; Luke 18:9-14


October 20, 2019, Bulletin... The History Corner - Arianism and the Council of Nicea

The ancient cities of Antioch and Alexandria became prominent sites of both theological study and debate. Each school of theology emphasized a different aspect of Christ's nature. The Alexandrian school gave special status to Christ's divinity and the unity of His person. Unfortunately, this special status would lead to some denying His humanity. The Antiochene school emphasized more of the humanity of Christ and tended to isolate Christ's human and divine natures.

Arius lived from 250-336AD. He was a priest in Alexandria, but he studied in Antioch. He was very charismatic as well. He studied Neo-Platonism and was very familiar with Gnosticism. So you can see that he was basically the perfect storm to become a heretic! Arius claimed that Jesus is neither God nor equal to the Father. This would stem from his studies at Antioch accompanied by Neo-Platonic thought. He uses passages from Scripture to defend his point, namely that the Son was sent by the Father to do the Father's will. He claimed Christ was an exceptional creature and was raised to the title of Son of God because of His fidelity to God's will. Neo-Platonism held that God was absolutely one and could not conceive of anything coming from it that would be equal to it. However, the rejection of Christ's divinity would then lead to obvious questions about both the Trinity and redemption.

Over 100 North African bishops asked for a detailed explanation of Arius' thoughts on Christ's divinity. After receiving it, they condemned Arianism in 320 but Arius refused to recant.

The issue of Arianism began to divide the entire empire. Constantine pushed for a council to be called that would settle the issue. In 325, the bishops gathered in Nicea. The council was conducted entirely in Greek. The pope was not present but was represented by a papal legate that has the authority of the pope to represent him. According to legend, it was at the Council of Nicea that St. Nicholas rose up while Arius was speaking and punched him in his face. Many dispute that claim, but I personally love the image of Santa Claus decking a heretic.

St. Athanasius proposed a statement of Catholic belief regarding the divinity of Christ that included the Greek term "homoousios" ("of the same essence/substance"). The Latin translation would be "consubstantialis", or in English, "consubstantial". The Church used Greek philosophy to explain the mystery of Christ. The words chosen were "hypostasis" ("person") and "ousia" ("substance"). The person is the who, the substance is the what. So Christ is one person with two natures. Christ is one hypostasis and two ousia. This is why we refer to it as the Hypostatic Union. The Greek language was very precise, so by using Greek, the Council avoided the vagueness that was causing much of the confusion. So the statement of belief that came from the Council became known as the Nicene Creed.

However, the creed that we say every Sunday mass is not the same creed that came from the Council of Nicea. The creed we say today is longer and came from the Council of Constantinople in 381. The sections about the Son, the Holy Spirit, the Church, baptism, the forgiveness of sins, and the Resurrection are all longer than what came out of Nicea. So, technically, while we call the creed the Nicene Creed, the technical name is the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed. But that's a bit of a mouthful...

Scripture Readings 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Exodus 17:8-13; 2 Timothy 3:14-4:2; Luke 18:1-8


October 13, 2019, Bulletin... The History Corner - Councils and Church Fathers

Various heresies will cause the Church to call councils in order to formally combat them. The first truly ecumenical council was the Council of Nicea in 325 (the Council of Jerusalem is not always counted in the official count). There have been 21 total ecumenical councils, the most recent being Vatican II from 1962-65. The first six councils addressed Christological heresies (heresies dealing with Christ). Current Canon Law grants the power to convene a council only to the papacy. The pope governs the council, and only he has the power to accept or reject the decrees of it. If a pope dies during a council, then the council is halted until a new pope is elected, and he then decides whether or not to continue it. The most recent example of that is Vatican II, when John XXIII died and Paul VI decided to continue.

Ecumenical councils are not the only kind of councils. There's a diocesan council, which is made up of the bishop and representatives from the local clergy, religious, and laity, and they discuss diocesan Church discipline/procedure. Provincial councils are the assembly of the metropolitan archbishop with his other bishops. In our case, it would be the four dioceses in the state of Missouri. A plenary council is comprised of all bishops of a nation. An ecumenical council summons all of the bishops in the world. It has the highest authority, and its definitions regarding faith and morals are infallible.

Church Fathers share the following characteristics: orthodox doctrine, holiness, notoriety, and antiquity. The title is not conferred by the Church (such as Doctor of the Church would be), but rather it's just a traditionally held title. They are divided into the Latin Fathers (West) and the Greek Fathers (East). The golden age of the Church Fathers was between the years 320-461AD. The last recognized Church Fathers died in 636AD for the West and 750AD for the East. The study of their writings is referred to as Patristics.

St. Ambrose of Milan lived from 339-397AD. When the people of Milan demanded that Ambrose become their bishop, he wasn't even Christian. He was still a catechumen. He was baptized, ordained, and installed as bishop on the same day. He was a defender of the Church's independence from the state. He excommunicated the Roman Emperor Theodosius (who had made Christianity the official religion of the empire) because he had slaughtered 700 villagers in Greece. The emperor was forced to do public penance for 8 months before being returned to a state of grace in the Church.

St. Jerome lived from 345-420AD. His two passions were the ascetical life and scholarship. He spent 4-5 years in the desert as an ascetic learning Hebrew. He translated the Bible from its original languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek) into Latin, which became known as the Vulgate, since Latin was the common, or vulgar, tongue. The Vulgate is still used as the base text for the Church today.

St. John Chrysostom lived from 347-407AD. He was a preacher and commentator on the Bible and became such a good preacher that earned the name "Chrysostom" which means "golden-mouthed". He was named Patriarch of Constantinople by the emperor but preached against moral depravity, including that of the royal family. It's never wise to antagonize a royal family, although we must admire his courage and conviction. The empress had him removed and banished not once, but twice. He would eventually die on a death march.

Scripture Readings 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time - 2 Kings 5:14-17; 2 Timothy 2:8-13; Luke 17:11-19


October 6, 2019, Bulletin - The History Corner - Early Heresies in the Church

St. Thomas Aquinas defines a heresy as "a species of unbelief, belonging to those who profess the Christian faith, but corrupt its dogmas". This is not the same as unbelief, meaning different religions like Islam, Judaism, etc. Orthodox ("right belief") Christianity derives from what we call the Deposit of Faith. The Deposit of Faith is the sum of all truths revealed in Scripture and through Tradition and entrusted to the care of the Church. Heresy derives from this same source, this same Deposit of Faith, but then denies or alters some part(s) of it.

There are two ways one can enter heresy. Material heresy is not willed by the person. It's the ignorance of truth, misunderstanding, non-comprehension, erroneous judgment, etc. It's a mistake but a mistake that needs correction. Formal heresy is when one freely chooses to hold doctrines that are clearly contradictory to those of the Church or doctrines that have been condemned by the Church as false.

The first heresies were all about Christ since Christ is the center of the Church. To understand where these heresies were coming from, we need to understand the different philosophical thoughts that were prevalent. Neo-Platonic thought reasoned to what it called a "Supreme Being". This Supreme Being creates through an emanation of lesser beings. One of these lesser divine beings was called the "logos". The problem is that John uses the word "logos" in his gospel to refer to Jesus, the second person in the Trinity (logos is a very ambiguous word in Greek). Neo-Platonic thought saw their "logos" as elevated, but less than the Supreme Being. Therefore, many heresies connected the Neo-Platonic "logos" to John's "logos" and denied the divinity of Christ or at least divinity that is equal to the Father.

One of the most widespread of the early heresies was called Gnosticism (silent "G"), which comes from the Greek meaning "knowledge". Basically, salvation could be achieved through knowledge. According to Gnosticism, a secret knowledge regarding God and the origin/destiny of man had been given to a select few. Its cosmology pits the Demiurge (creator god of the material/visible world) against the Divine Being, from which the Demiurge had originated. The Demiurge was the author/ruler of the material world, and since material is imperfect, it would naturally be antagonistic to the perfect divine world. The Divine Being is the agent of goodness while the Demiurge propagates evil. A divine spark, belonging to the Divine Being, could be found in some people. A redeemer came in order to release the sparks so that they could return to the Divine Being, but this was only possible if the individual understood the secret knowledge of the redeemer's teaching and practiced the appropriate rituals.

Now, how could Christians possibly fall into this heresy? Simple: just replace the following words and read the description again. Divine Being = God. Demiurge = Satan. Divine Spark = soul. Redeemer = Jesus. Secret knowledge of redeemer's teaching = Jesus' teachings. Appropriate rituals = sacraments. If you replace those words, then it starts to sound like basic Christianity - to a degree. That's what makes heresy so dangerous and insidious.

Scripture Readings 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Habakkuk 1:2-3, 2:2-4; 2 Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14; Luke 17:5-10


September 29, 2019 Bulletin - Last weekend, we had two major fundraising events at the parish: the Fall Festival and the Quinn 5K. Both events, in order to be successful, needed good weather on a weekend with nothing but rain forecasted. When I was in seminary, I was told that the best thing to do to ward off unwanted rain was to pray the Memorare prayer to Mary as much as you can. When I looked at the forecast, I lit a candle on the Marian altar and said the first Memorare. Every time I thought about the weekend (which was often) or spoke with someone about it, I would pray one and encourage them to do the same. As the weekend approached, the forecast became more and more certain that rain would persist all weekend.

On Saturday, the rain tapered off around 7-7:30am, just before the run began. It started again after the race. On Sunday morning, as our amazing volunteers struggled with tents in the pouring rain, it appeared as if the whole event would be forced inside. However, when I walked over from the rectory at 11:45 with an umbrella, by the time I reached the gym doors, I no longer needed it. The sun came out, tables and chairs were set up for people to eat and watch the Chiefs game outside, and the rain held off even for the cleanup.

Mary is a powerful intercessor. Anyone who thinks that God's hand wasn't present that weekend as He watched over our parish and its events would be mistaken. Through Our Lady's intercession and the mercy of God, our fundraisers were both successful. Never doubt the power of prayer. Never doubt the power of Mary's intercession. Never doubt that our parish's devotion and love for God aren't rewarded. I am so grateful to Our Lord and our tremendous volunteers for a successful weekend, and it excites me to think what we'll be able to accomplish, with God's help, in the future. For if God is for us, who can be against us?


June 9, 2019 - I would like to use this week's column to introduce myself to all of you. This will allow me to preach about Pentecost this weekend as opposed to preaching about myself. I was born and raised in the northland of Kansas City, about 15 minutes from the airport. I attended Rockhurst High School and graduated in 2007 before heading to the University of Dallas to study history. My dream was to become a high school history teacher. However, after two years, I discerned that God was calling me to the seminary instead. I graduated from Conception Seminary College in 2011 and attended the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, OH. I was ordained on May 23, 2015; and my first assignment was to teach full time at Bishop LeBlond High School (don't worry, all of my shirts are going into storage). I taught there for three years and also coached the boys and girls soccer teams as well. So I have been to Chillicothe several times but only to the high school and only on the visitor's sideline. After three years, I was assigned to St. Therese Parish in Parkville, MO, the largest parish in our Diocese, as the associate. While there, I also helped a bit at St. Pius X High School, helping to coach their soccer teams as well (and those shirts are going into storage as well). While there, I coached against my former teams at LeBlond; and I mention this, not because I'm a turncoat, but because I'm fiercely loyal. And while it might be awhile before I'm wearing the red and black of the Hornets, know that I am very happy to be here and look forward to the many ways in which I can serve the great community that we have here. One final note: there will undoubtedly be some things that will change from what Fr. Kneib did and while some change is always expected, I do not intend any of it to be disruptive. There is always a reason for why I do what I do, which means if you ever have a question about it, you will get an answer. I pray that my tenure here is long and fruitful, and know of my prayers for all of you as we start this new journey together.

A Duty Sanctioned - Parishioner Brenda O'Halloran has written a book based on the story of us. The book is entitled A Duty Sanctioned. You may read an excerpt by clicking on the book image here. We hope you will purchase your very own copy of the book to read in its entirety and to also help with this very worthwhile fundraising endeavor! TO ORDER: Contact Kim at the church office (email subject: Book Order). We prefer that you pick your order up at the church office, but mailing options are available (applicable shipping costs apply).

GUIDE TO OUR STATUES: A guide is available on this website to help you learn about the statues in the church. Mouse over the General Information tab at the top of any page to see a dropdown menu with a link to the guide or click here...

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Flocknotes - an email service which sends a passage of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, gospels, or the diary of St. Faustina to you daily.

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Phone: 660-646-0190

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