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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  May 2004

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION May 2004

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Subject:

Re: "Roman" in the Mass

From:

Thomas Izbicki <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 26 May 2004 10:00:33 -0400

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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

One minor comment:  there are limited local survivals of the Ambrosian
Rite (Milan) & the Mozarabic Rite (Spain).  I attended a Mozarabic mass
in Salamanca in 1976.
Tom Izbicki

Thomas Izbicki
Collection Development Coordinator
Eisenhower Library
Johns Hopkins
Baltimore, MD 21218
(410)516-7173
fax (410)516-8399

>>> [log in to unmask] 5/26/2004 9:32:13 AM >>>
medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and
culture

The clause "one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic" comes from the ancient
reeds, common to both the "Apostles' Creed" (presumed to be close to
an
ancient creed used at Rome) and to the Nicene Creed, thus indicating
that it was widely shared.

"Roman" in "Roman Catholic" refers to those Catholics who follow the
Roman rite, liturgically.  "Catholic," for those who are not
Protestant
or Orthodox, refers to Christians in communion with bishops who are in
communion with the bishop of Rome, but not all such Christians follow
the Roman rite.  Twenty-one other rites are followed by bishops/people
in communion with the bishop of Rome.  In most of the major families
of
liturgical rites (Coptic/Alexandrian; Armenian, Antiochene, which
includes the Mesopotamian area--Assyrian/Chaldean and as far east as
the
Syro-Malabar rite in India; Greek/Constantinople which extends, of
course into the Balkans and the Ukraine, Slovakia etc.--I"m sure I've
left something out here) some groups under some bishops are in
fellowship with the bishop of Rome and some are not (some of these
latter are Orthodox Churches who accepted Chalcedon and some are
non-Chalcedonian eastern groups--but Orthodox, non-Chalcedonian, and
Eastern Catholic--that is, Rome-connected--all follow non-Roman
liturgical rites of the various familes listed above).  To some degree
the Chalcedonian/non-Chalcedonian schism has been overcome in recent
decades.

These major families of rites (Antiochene/Syrian, Armenian,
Alexandrian/Coptic, Constantinopolitan/Greek/Byzantine, Roman) reflect
the major patriarchates of the ancient church (Alexandria, Antioch,
Rome, Constantinople, Jerusalem.  The last one is missing, reflecting
the events in Palestine after the Muslim conquest (those who know
liturgy better than I, please correct me--but today liturgy in
Palestine
and Jerusalem follows the various non-Jerusalem rites--Palestinian
Christians have basically been absorbed into the Aramaic-derived
cousin-liturgy of Antioch, plus the various imports reflecting the
interest of all the major rites in the holy places?)  And one major
liturgical family, the Armenian, does not reflect one of the big five
ancient patriarchates but does go back to the first fully
Christianized
kingdom, very early in Christian history.

Now, please note that four of the five ancient patriarchates are in
the
eastern Mediterranean and only one in the western Mediterranean.  This
has tremendous consequences for today's confusion over Roman
Catholic/Catholic.  For reasons too complicated to explain here,
Christianity in Western and Northern Europe ended up following the
Roman
rite--there was no other patriarchate.  There were other rites (MIlan,
Spain, Gaul, Britain) but no second patriarchate.  The other rites
were
suppressed (some people think this was a terrible travesty of Roman
imperialism, others, myself included, see this as one aspect of the
struggle to maintain unity in the western Church in the face of
nationalism that took a different form than in the east: in the east,
most of the Orthodox churches and including the center, Byzantium,
ended
up under foreign dominance at precisely the time that the western
nationalities were becoming pwerful nation states (late Middle Ages,
early modern era).  The commonly shared liturgy emanating from
Constantinople served to unite, despite national/ethnic differences,
in
the face of foreign rule.  In the west,   The same purpose lay behind
the increasing insistence on liturgical uniformity in the West, but
because the nation-states did break break of the political empires and
tried, sometimes succeeding, to establish national churches not in
fellowship with the bishop of Rome, modifying the liturgy to create a
Roman-rite derived but theologically distinct (schismatic, if not
heretical, from the Catholic standpoint) liturgies.  To counter this,
the Roman rite became highly standardized to the point that even the
gestures were the same whereever the Roman rite was celebrated--in the
reforms instituted after the Council of Trent.

Because the Western European Christians rather than Eastern or
Near-Eastern Christians (who had their hands full surviving under
Ottoman rule) spread Christianity together with their colonial empires
in the early modern and modern eras to the Americas and south and east
Asia, the Roman rite, not the Armenian or Antiochene or Alexandrian
rite
spread around the world.  (There are a few exceptions---Alaska, the
Syrian rite spreading to India and to central Asia, but for the most
part this either took place very early [Syro-Malabar] or did not
survive
to any great degreei nto the modern era (Central Asia, Chinese
so-called
"Nestorians", but exceptions that, I think, prove my very generalized
"rule.")

THis is a very long way of getting to my main point: today, 90 or 95 %
of the bishops and their people who are in fellowship with the bishop
of
Rome, hence, 90-95% of the Catholics, are also _Roman_ Catholic, that
is, bishop-of-Rome Christians who follow the Roman rite, now
vernacularized and to some degree turned into a distinct
American/Canadian/English or a distinct Italian or German rite because
of all the options and modifications authorized by national
conferences
of bishops in various Roman-rite countries.  But five or ten percent
of
all the Catholics in the world are non-Roman rite bishop-of-Rome
Christians.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church does not refer to
the
whole bundle of them as "Roman Catholics"--it's not the Catechism of
the
Roman Catholic Church but of "the Catholic Church" even though what
demarcates the Catholic Church in this usage (and in the Vatican II
documents) is communion with the bishop of Rome.

Those Christians who believe that the bishop of Rome in one way or
another has gone off the reservation and hence are not in fellowship
with him (Protestants, whose worship to some degree derives from the
Roman rite, though apart from Lutherans, Anglicans, Methodists and
some
Presbyterians one the derivation is not very visible anymore;
"Eastern"
Orthodox, the non-bishop-of-Rome Christians in the Near East etc.)
find
the claiming of "Catholic" for bishop-of-Rome Christians alone to be a
bit presumptious and wrong-headed.  But that's another way of saying,
Christians are divided into three main groups for the last 1000 years
and do not agree about exactly what holds them together, what makes
for
universality/Catholicness.

But from the very early centuries, multiple rites existed without
destroying catholicty and presumably Christians could overcome the
schisms, lack of full communion, without adopting one of the five or
so
ancient rites as the sole liturgical rite.

I realize that much of the above pertains to contemporary matters, but
I
think it could be immensely helpful to medievalists to have a general
overview of the ancient patriarchates and their rites (with
subfamilies--e.g., the Ambrosian, Gallican, Mozarabic within the West)
and some sense of how these did or did not spread.  For instance, to
understand the Carolingian situation vis-a-vis the spread of the
Byzantine rite under Cyril and Methodius in the 9thc and the
middle-role
played by the bishop of Rome, caught between the pressure of the
Carolingians and their client princes on the eastern frontier of the
"empire" on the one hand and the patriarch in Constantinople on the
other hand, could be helpful.  The growth of nationalism and
vernacular
culture in Western Europe from the 12thc onward, the struggle between
popes and emperors and then between kings and popes (France, England),
leading eventually to the national/city-state Protestant churches in
England, Scandinavia, parts of Germany etc. by the 17thc --all this
can
be better understood against the backdrop of the major families of
liturgical rites and the "accident" of history that all of the Latin
West (Italy, Gaul, Spain, Britain) had only one patriarchal see from
the
beginnings of Christianity in the West (what if Carthage had developed
into a second patrarchate???? how might history have been different?
partly this reflects the difference in the way the Roman empire grew
in
the East and in the west, the survival of distinct ethnicities and
nationalities in the East, with a Roman overlay, compared to the more
thorough Romanization of Italy, Gaul, Spain--s. Italy being an
exception), that Christianization to the north and east of the old
boundaries of the Roman Empire--Netherlands, Germany, Poland,
Scandinavia proceeeded either directly from Rome or via
missionary-monks
who came from Britain in the 700s after the Roman-Celtic rite matters
had been resolved in the 600s.  Of course, Poland,. later Lithuania,
and
Scandinavia were then evangelized by missionary monks either from
England or from the England-converted German areas; the same pattern
then repeats itself with the Christianization of the Americas etc.

But now I have exhausted everyone's patience.  Corrections are
invited.

Dennis Martin

>>> [log in to unmask] 05/25/04 11:12 PM >>>
medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and
culture

"We believe in one holy, Catholic and apostolic Church..." No "Roman"
in
sight. Since I don't use a missal, I'm not even sure if "Catholic" is
capitalized. In fact, the word "Catholic" itself has been increasingly
supplanted by "Christian," or so it seems at times. And "Mass" has
been
replaced by "Eucharist," except among Catholics of a certain age.
MG





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