Category Archives: History
Brother Francis has a tremendous appreciation for the history of the Church. He likes to call Church history “the laboratory of wisdom.” Why? Because the history of the Church is the history of human salvation, and choosing the best means to save one’s soul is the highest prudence. And prudence, says St. Thomas Aquinas, is wisdom in action.
History is the laboratory of wisdom, but the application today of the lessons learned from history is prudence.
How, for example, are we to understand what St. Pius X meant when he said that “modernism is the synthesis of all heresies,” if we are ignorant of the history of the Church’s battles against heresy? How are we to evaluate the causes of what Pope Benedict referred to a “crisis of Faith,” if we unfamiliar with any of the twenty ecumenical councils that preceded Vatican II?
There are twenty-two books of the Bible that are history books: the first nineteen of the Old Testament, the two books of Machabees, which end the Old Testament, and the Acts of the Apostles in the New.
A knowledge of Church History is a knowledge of the life of the Body of Christ extended in time throughout the past twenty centuries. It is a glorious history, with its martyrs, confessors, saints of the desert, great doctors and popes, apostles of nations, proliferation of contemplative orders, active orders, teaching orders, advances in science, medicine, the arts, missionary life, and victories over the enemies of true religion, who engaged her by pen and sword.
Without a knowledge of history, of its facts, dates, and events, a Catholic is ill-prepared to defend the Church against those who would gainsay her by misrepresentation, misinformation, or deliberate disinformation. Nor can we forget that we all have an obligation to instruct the ignorant who have been misled by error and who, in their hearts, nurture an affinity for the truth.
Stephen Beale, Catholic Exchange: After Constantine the Great, there were emperors who were heretics and emperors who adhered to Christian orthodoxy. Then there was Julian the Apostate. From the time of Constantine to the French Revolution, he is the only Christian monarch ever to openly reject the faith, according to Catholic historian Warren Carroll. For reasons both personal and intellectual, Julian launched the last great … More →
(Rorate Caeli) Exactly 75 years ago, the arms silenced in Spain at the end of almost three years of war, and almost a decade of intermittent grave persecution of the Church which reached its zenith in 1936. The greatest persecution of Catholics since late Antiquity, Spaniards condemned as reactionaries by their fellow citizens, had taken place in the territory retained by the Communist-inspired forces, and … More →
This information, incredible as it seems, was revealed this past week by Father Andriy Chirovsky, pastor of St. Michael Ukrainian Catholic Church in Tucson and founder of the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies at St. Paul University in Ottawa, Ontario. Here is a clip from Catholic News Service: After Blessed John Paul II met with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev Dec. 1, 1989, … More →
The question posed by the title of this article was asked several of us by our august editor. Its immediacy is reinforced by the season of Christmas – which, despite being under sporadic attack by “holiday” partisans, centers on the one Holy Day still observed by the majority of the world. Despite the anti-Christian moral tone of many of “her” governments around the world, the … More →
While recently reading some of G.K. Chesterton’s written reflections in 19271 shortly after his return from his invited April-May visit to Poland, and then also some of his more abiding insights about the plight and character of Poland almost a decade later, in his posthumously published autobiography in 1936, I thought to bring to the further appreciation of a modern audience, by way of sobering … More →
Especially after witnessing my German wife’s unlooked-for response very late the other night while (and moreso after) I read aloud to her for the first time G.K. Chesterton’s short essay, “Two Words from Poland,”1 I am now even more confident in my judgment to recommend these seven pages to the close attentiveness of the reader. For, interwoven in these variegated pages is so much of … More →
AsiaNews; The 20th century saw three great political myths. The myths of Hitler and Stalin have been annihilated, but the myth of Mao Zedong still haunts China today. It won’t be hard to give a comprehensive evaluation of Mao Zedong, so we can get a clear picture of what he actually achieved. The history textbooks tell us that the Chinese people achieved a democratic revolution under the … More →
G.K. Chesterton’s concluding words in his earnest 1936 essay “About Voltaire” were forcefully compact and sudden and yet, at first, a little too compressed for my immediate understanding, even though I had read those words more than once before: namely, “nothing is so anarchical as discipline divorced from authority; that is, from right.”1 Almost twenty years earlier, soon after World War I in 1919, G..K. … More →
Virtually the instant I saw that Spain’s Queen Isabella the Catholic was the subject of an excellent article by Eleonore Villarrubia recently posted on the SBC website, I thought of Christopher Columbus. This was natural. Though history is largely unknown to most persons today, most still know that Columbus “discovered” America and Isabella financed his venture. The two are indissolubly linked in our minds. On … More →
Vatican: The official guide to the catacombs of Saint Priscilla thinks he sees women priests in the recently restored frescoes. UCANews: The Vatican on Tuesday unveiled newly restored frescoes in the Catacombs of Priscilla, known for housing the earliest known image of the Madonna with Child — and frescoes said by some to show women priests in the early Christian church. Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, the … More →
Isabel, or Ysabel, as was the proper spelling during her own time, was an amazing woman. She has been called by many titles: First Lady of the Renaissance, The Godmother of the Americas, The Last Crusader, The Catholic Queen (an official title given to her by the reigning Pope, along with her husband, Fernando, as the “Catholic King”). Dr. Warren H. Carroll, a recent biographer … More →
In the 1970 calendar, the feast of Immaculate Heart of Mary was moved from August 22 to June in order to show its alignment with the Sacred Heart of Jesus; the feast of the Queenship of Mary was transferred from May 31 to that date. Whether or not this was a good idea,1 it does give us another reason to meditate on Our Lady’s role … More →
[This is a re-post.] In 1683, the forces of the Holy League, under Poland’s King Jan Sobieski, roundly defeated the Mohammedan invaders at the Battle of Vienna. Here is a brief telling of that triumphant occasion by Gary Potter (in “Saint Mary of Victory – The Historical Role of Our Lady in the Armed Defense of the Faith”): Fortuitously, the pope of the day, Innocent … More →
Review of Solzhenitzyn, A Soul in Exile, by Joseph Pearce. Ignatius Press, 2012. Having recently been in a Russian kind of mood after my review of Dr. Warren Carroll’s 1917, Red Banners, White Mantle, when I saw this book in my favorite bookstore (at Saint Benedict Center, naturally), I eagerly picked it up and quickly became absorbed in it. Considering the fact that in between … More →