Spirit Of Prayer

This schedule brought to the whole day a spirit of prayer, so that even work and study were done within a prayerful atmosphere. Benedict's Rule was sturdy enough on its own, and without any common government it was able to keep order within the many independent monasteries as they multiplied. At times these monasteries became too strongly supported by the wealthy and politically powerful. Often the result was a relaxation of monastic discipline. When this happened reforms often took place, as...

LAY MOvEMENTS

The Second Vatican Council (1962-65) reemphasized the role of laypeople in the Catholic Church to overcome the misconception that members of the clergy are the only important element in the church. The laity, or laypeople, are all those baptized Christians who have not been ordained into the threefold orders of the clergy. These orders are those of bishop, priest, and deacon. The role of the clergy is to administer the sacraments of the church. The role of the laity is to transform the world...

European passion plays

During the late Middle Ages European townspeople and villagers often staged passion plays. These were performances that depicted the suffering, crucifixion, and death of Jesus Christ. By taking part in a passion play, townspeople also participated in the drama of Christ's last days on earth. The passion play tradition continues to the present in towns in southern Germany, western Austria, and Switzerland. The most famous one is held every 10 years in the Bavarian town of Oberammergau.

Orthodox Christianity in the middle ages

Orthodox Christianity maintained and developed its own distinctive approach to Christian life. An important development of Orthodox Christianity in the Middle Ages was the movement of quietness. This practice began with Orthodox monks who engaged in continual efforts at placing themselves in the presence of Jesus. Often they would do this by praying the Jesus prayer Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Many of these monks claimed that they had attained a certain...

Art And Architecture

Although the Christian church did not continue many of the ritual laws of the Jewish people, it did hold to the Ten Commandments. The first commandment prohibits the making of images of anything in heaven or on earth that could serve as an idol. This prohibition made the early Christians hesitant to create any images at all. The earliest works of Christian art began appearing in the third century in the form of mural paintings in burial chambers such as the Roman catacombs. The subjects of...

Lent And Easter

Not long after the celebration of Christmas the time of Lent begins, a time of preparation for the celebration of the death and resurrection of Christ during Holy Week. Lent, beginning with Ash Wednesday and extending for a period of 40 days, is considered to be a time of purification and sacrifice. Ash Wednesday is given this name because believers mark their faces with ash to show their sorrow for their sins at the start of this period of reflection and repentance. During Lent, it is...

The church calendar

In both the Orthodox and Catholic traditions liturgical prayer and piety are organized with a view to the seasons of the liturgical year. Throughout history Christianity saw a progression in the development of liturgical observances. In the early years of Christianity many Chris- A portable home icon showing Mary the Mother of God, God the Father, and Jesus the Son of God. The icons are in a small case that can be easily carried and opened for prayer. A portable home icon showing Mary the...

Voices Of Social Concern

The Second Vatican Council, heeding the voice of social concern sounded in the encyclical letters of Pope Leo XIII, called on Orthodox monasteries built on the slopes of Mount Athos. One distinctive feature in Orthodoxy has been the revival of monasticism. In the 1960s places such as Mount Athos, the peninsula in the north of Greece that is entirely run by monks, was in danger of having to close because so few monks attended the 20 monasteries. Today there is a waiting list for people to join a...

Welcoming New Arrivals

In the name of Christ, Catholics and Orthodox Christians in these ordinary situations made their fellow countrymen feel at home. Many of these welcoming practices survive today and have been extended to new arrivals from the Spanish-speaking countries of Central and South America, to Catholic immigrants from Southeast Asia, and to the Catholics and Orthodox from eastern Europe and the Near East. When Jesus told his followers to go and make disciples of all nations, he added the words and...

Apostles Of The Slavs

The center of Eastern Christianity increasingly shifted northward to the Slavic countries. The conversion of the Slavs to Eastern Christianity began in the ninth century through the missionary work of two Greek brothers, Cyril (ca. 827-69) and Methodius (ca. 825-85). As a result of their efforts Eastern Christianity An iconostasis decorated with figures of Christ, the mother of God, and saints in the Russian Orthodox monastery of Valaam in Karelia, northern Russia. In an Orthodox church the...

Icons in orthodox churches

In the Orthodox tradition great value is placed on the role of icons, representations in paint or enamel of sacred personages such as Christ or the saints. The icons themselves are venerated and considered sacred. The Orthodox Christian doctrine of icons grows out of the belief that the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ has made it possible for all material reality to be an instrument for the revelation of God's glory. Icons are not considered to be just paintings but are viewed as...

NOURiSHiNg And StrengtheniNg Faith

The early Christian writers of the East and West realized the importance of education. Saints Basil and Gregory of Nyssa from the East and Saints Jerome and Augustine from the West argued that Christians could defend themselves against opponents only if they were good at rhetoric, and that they could explain their faith coherently and intelligently only if they were adept at logic. Saint Augustine in the fifth century particularly urged Christians to pursue any studies by which our most...

Sexuality and abortion

The Catholic and Orthodox churches view sex as something naturally good. The primary purpose of sex is to produce children, if God grants this benefit, and to foster mutual love. The official attitude is that in the fostering of mutual love, sexual partners cannot by artificial means deliberately impede the natural goal of sexual union the production of children. The Catholic prohibition against the use of condoms to prevent conception has come under even more intense criticism with the...

Challenges facing pope benedict xvi

Pope John Paul II, after reigning for 26 years as pope, died on April 2, 2005. For younger Catholics he was the only pope they had ever known. He had been a charismatic leader who traveled to all parts of the world, urging his flock to follow the Gospel teachings. In a special way, he had an apostolate to young believers, frequently attending their congresses throughout the world. In an attempt to preserve the unity of his flock he had established a strong centralized authority and proclaimed...

Orthodox scholarship

In the Orthodox Christian tradition scholarship was central, as the Orthodox churches were heirs to the philosophical wisdom and insights of the greatest thinkers of antiquity. Indeed, in some Orthodox churches paintings will be found of philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle, who are seen as forebears of Christian wisdom. Eastern theologians such as Saints Basil the Great (ca. 32979), Gregory of Nyssa (ca. 330-ca. 395), and Gregory Nazianzen (ca. 329-90) were highly versed in the...

Ecumenical Patriarch Of Constantinople

One of the most important figures in the contemporary Orthodox world is the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew. Elected to the post in 1991, he has sought to unite the Orthodox world after the collapse of Communism and in 1993 was able, as the First Among Equals, to call a meeting of all the heads of all the Orthodox churches. At these meetings theological and social issues were fully explored and among these was the environment. Over the last few decades the ecumenical...

The PriesTHOOD

Although the number of priests in some regions of the world has been increasing, it has dropped significantly among Catholic communities in the United States, Canada, western Europe, Australia, and elsewhere during the past 40 years. This has caused a serious shortage of pastors for Catholics in these lands. Many The Community of Sant' Egidio began in Italy. Sant' Egidio is a parish church in Rome, where, in 1968, a group of high-school students wanted to take the Gospel more seriously. They...

Catholic DivERsiTY AND uNITY

Catholic Diversity

The Catholic Church in America is a melting pot like America itself. Its members are not all descendants of western European countries. They also come from Africa, Asia, Australia, and South and Central America. Others for example, Eastern Rite Catho- lics , in smaller numbers, come from eastern Europe. They bring all their own varied traditions. Yet the hierarchical structure of the Catholic Church, while allowing room for diversity, tends to produce a strong unity of belief and practice....

Monastery Records And Libraries

After the fall of Rome many European monasteries were founded that preserved Christianity and classical learning. Monastery libraries contained not only Bibles, biblical commentaries, and liturgical books, but also the classics of ancient Greece and Rome that otherwise would have been lost forever. Monasteries also fostered the emergence of literature in the vernacular, as opposed to Latin. These libraries with their faithful copies of texts provided the raw materials that later would form the...

The Last Supper

Passover Meal Judas

For Passover, a major feast celebrating the release of the Jews from Egyptian slavery, Jesus and his 12 disciples gathered in the house of one of his followers to have supper together. During this Passover meal Jesus spoke the words that are the foundation for the Catholic and Orthodox sacrament of the According to the account in Matthew's Gospel, Moses had received the Old Law from God but Jesus proclaims the New Law as God. In Matthew's Gospel Jesus speaks as a lawgiver, not as a receiver of...

The Medieval Inquisition

Medieval Painting Crusaders

Inquisitions were instituted by the popes. Pope Gregory IX 1227-41 established the Medieval Inquisition in 1229 to try A portion of a painting of the siege and capture of Antioch by the Crusaders from the Muslim Seljuks who had been in control of the city for two years. The Siege of Antioch took place during the First Crusade with the capture of the city by the Crusaders after a campaign that lasted from October 21, 1097 until June 2, 1098. A second siege then followed that same June as the...