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.
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 →
As a public service, the Internet Archive, the “Digital Library of Free Books, Movies, Music & Wayback Machine,” has posted, as part of their “Old Time Radio” category, the radio programs of the Canadian Born “Radio Priest,” Father Charles Edward Coughlin (1891–1979).
AsiaNews: The Japanese Church has finished preparing the application for the beatification of Takayama Ukon, a feudal lord or daimyo who, after his conversion, played a pioneering role in the spread of Christianity in Japan in the 16th century. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan presented a 400-page application to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, with all the relevant information about the case. The bishops … More →
Army? Why, one may ask, do we use military terms for anything associated with our gentle Queen, like army and legion? Military terms are not new in the Church. Indeed, as children in Catholic school, did we not learn to call the Church on earth “The Church Militant” to distinguish living Catholics still struggling to earn salvation from the “Church Suffering” in Purgatory and the … More →
CNA: The story of the persecution of Mexican Catholics in the 1920s is being told anew, in an English translation of a book by a scholar of Mexican culture and history. Read more here.
Given the medals by his Catholic fiancee, Katherine May Hewitt, the General and Miss Hewitt made a pact. If the General died in the war, Miss Hewitt would enter a convent. The General did die, holding the hill at Gettysburg; he was one of the battle’s first casualties. And Miss Hewitt? She kept her promise and went to Emmitsburg where she joined the Daughters of … More →
In teaching the history of the Church, Brother Francis had a simple system. Along with the many historical books from well-known Catholic authors that he required his students to read, he provided an expanding list of memory items that began with the twelve apostles (their countries of mission and date of martyrdoms), dates for the conversion of certain nations and kingdoms and the names of … More →
(NOTE: At a public dinner in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1816, Stephen Decatur, naval hero of the War of 1812, famously declared: “Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be right; but our country right or wrong.” When the U.S. invaded Mexico in 1846, U.S. Senator John J. Crittenden of Kentucky expressed the same idea: “I hope to find my country in … More →
After considering several varied, but representative, insights from Maurice Baring’s 1905 book, With the Russians in Manchuria, we shall be even more grateful to reflect upon the admonitory conclusions he draws from his trenchant depiction of modern war, which he so diversely experienced in several foreign cultures before the outbreak of World War I in 1914. Moreover, his piercing and humane warning about the nature … More →