Month: January 2015

73-A Glimmer of Reform file | Play in new windowThe title of this episode of Communio Santorum is A Glimmer of Reform. I assume nearly everyone listening to this is a student of history, or—why would you be listening? Some like history in general. Others find a fascination with certain eras or moments of the past. Whatever your interest in history, every student recognizes as time passes, things change. Sometimes that change is merely incidental to the thing changed, a cosmetic difference that does little to the substance. Other change is deep, fundamentally altering the thing changed; and in some cases, doing away with it altogether. Institutions and beliefs held for long periods can be swept away in a matter of days, while others abide for centuries without being touched. Jesus challenged the Guardians of Tradition of His day with the parable of the wine-skins. The point of His words was that while truth doesn’t change, the container it’s put in and dispensed from will change, it MUST change. The rabbinic & Pharisaical Judaism of Jesus’ day had become an inflexible complex of traditions that obscured the Spirit behind the Law. The Rabbis & Pharisees had played an important role after the Babylonian Captivity in moving the Jews away from their age old tendency to idolatry. But their exaltation of tradition had become so rigid it ended up missing what the Law...

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72-Meanwhile, Back in the East file | Play in new windowThis episode of CS is titled “Meanwhile, Back in the East” because before we dive into the next phase of church history in Europe, we need to catch up on what’s happening to the East. The Mongol Empire of the 13th & 14th Cs occupied the largest contiguous land empire in history. Rising originally from the steppes of Central Asia and eventually stretching from Eastern Europe to the Sea of Japan; from Siberia in the N to Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, & the Iranian plateau, & the Middle East. At its greatest extent it spanned 6000 miles and covered about 16% of the planet’s total land area. Genghis Khan was himself a shamanist, but recognizing the need to unite the Mongol clans. He adopted a policy of religious toleration that remained the official policy during his reign and that of his son Ogedai. Several of the tribes that formed the core of the Mongol horde were Christians in at least a cultural sense. The Keriats, Onguds & Uighurs owed the Christianization of their culture to the Eastern expansion of Christianity we’ve looked at in some earlier episodes. It’s important I insert a short parenthetical comment here. Knowing what devastation the Mongols wrought during the 13th  & 14th Cs and the literal wagon-loads of blood they spilled, we have to be careful when...

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71-The Mystics file | Play in new windowThis episode is titled The Mystics & looks at the Mysticism of the Western Church during the Late Middle Ages. Alongside the Scholastics whom we spent a couple episodes on, was another movement within Medieval Christianity in Europe led by a group of people known as “The Mystics.” Don’t let that title mislead you. They weren’t wizards with black, long-sleeved robes & tall pointed hats embellished with moons and stars. Don’t picture Gandalf or some old man bent over a dusty tome reciting an incantation. The Mystics weren’t magicians. They were simply Christians who thought a vital part of the Faith was been left behind by the academic pursuits of the Scholastics. They wanted to reclaim it. Think of the Medieval Christian mystics this way; if the Scholastics sought to synthesize faith & reason, to give a rational base for the Christian faith, the Mystics wanted such reason to be fervent. If the Scholastics emphasized the head, the Mystics emphasized the heart. They wanted there to be some heat added to the light the Scholastics were shining on the Faith. They added adoration to analysis. The primary message of the Mystics was the call for Christians to maintain a deeply personal and intimate connection to God. For some of them, that still meant going through the sacraments we loo0ked at in our last...

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70-Sacramentalism file | Play in new windowIn this, the 70th Episode of CS ver. 2, we take a look at Sacramentalism; a mindset that dominated the religious landscape of late Medieval Christianity. The question that consumed Europeans of the Middle Ages was, “How can I be saved? What must I believe and do that will preserve my soul from the torment of hell?” Rome answered that with what’s called Sacramentalism. Now, let me be clear; the basic answer was, “Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.” But the Church went on to define what that trust looked like with a set of rules & required practices. Yes, people are saved by grace through faith, but that grace is received by special acts only authorized clergy can conduct. These acts were called “sacraments” from the word “sacred” meaning holy. But there was a specific  flavor to the word sacrament that carried the idea of mystery. Precisely HOW the sacraments communicated grace was unknown, but that they did was a certainty. So while salvation was by grace, one had to go to the Church to get that grace. The sacraments were channels of grace and the necessary food of the soul. They accompanied human life from the cradle to the grave. An infant was ushered into the world by the sacrament of Baptism while the elderly were sent on their way out...

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