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The dome of St. Peter's Basilica.

Catholicism is the entirety of the beliefs and practices of the Western and Eastern Churches that are in full communion with the pope as the Bishop of Rome and successor of Saint Peter the Apostle, united as the Catholic Church.

The first known written use of "Catholic Church" appears in a letter by Ignatius of Antioch about A.D. 107 to the church of Smyrna, whose bishop, Polycarp, visited Ignatius during his journey to Rome as a prisoner: in his letter to Smyrna, Ignatius wrote, "Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church." (Letter to the Smyrnaeans, 8) His use of "Catholic Church" suggests that it was already in current use, for he sees no need to explain himself and uses the expression as one already known to his readers. It gives expression to St. Paul's teaching that all baptized in Christ are one body in Christ (Gal.3:28; Eph.4:3-6, 12-16). Dissenting groups breaking away from this universal unity were already known to the Apostles: in his letters Paul refers to the "Judaizers" (those requiring observance of the Jewish Law), and in his Book of Revelation St. John calls them "Nicolaitans". They believe that it is a small step for those faithful to the teaching of the Apostles to identify themselves as the Catholic Church ("the one Church everywhere"), and not to include those dissenting and breaking away from unity with her.

The term Catholic Christianity entered into Roman law by force of edict under the Roman Emperor Theodosius on February 27 AD 380 in the Theodosian Code XVI.i.2: "It is our desire that all the various nations which are subject to our clemency and moderation, should continue the profession of that religion which was delivered to the Romans by the divine Apostle Peter, as it has been preserved by faithful tradition and which is now professed by the Pontiff Damasus and by Peter, Bishop of Alexandria, a man of apostolic holiness. According to the apostolic teaching and the doctrine of the Gospel, let us believe in the one Deity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, in equal majesty and in a holy Trinity. We authorize the followers of this law to assume the title Catholic Christians; but as for the others, since in our judgment they are foolish madmen, we decree that they shall be branded with the ignominious name of heretics, and shall not presume to give their conventicles the name of churches. They will suffer in the first place the chastisement of divine condemnation and the second the punishment of [as] our authority, in accordance with the will of heaven, shall decide to inflict."

[Extract of English translation from Henry Bettenson, ed., Documents of the Christian Church (London: Oxford University Press, 1943), p. 31, cited at Medieval Sourcebook: Theodosian Code XVI by Paul Halsall, Fordham University. Retrieved Jan 5, 2007. The full Latin text of the code is at IMPERATORIS THEODOSIANI CODEX Liber Decimus Sextus (170KB download), archived from George Mason University. Retrieved Jan 5, 2007.]

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Feast Day of November 18


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Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne (August 29, 1769 - November 18, 1852), was a Catholic nun and French saint, she was born in Grenoble, France and died in St. Charles, Missouri. She, along with Madeleine Sophie Barat founded the Society of the Sacred Heart.

Founder in America of the first houses of the Society of the Sacred Heart, she was the daughter of Pierre-Francois Duchesne, an eminent lawyer. Her mother was a Perier, ancestor of Casimir-Perier, President of France in 1894 . She was educated by the Visitation Nuns, entered that order, saw its dispersion during the Reign of Terror, vainly attempted the re-establishment of the convent of Ste-Marie-d'en-Haut, near Grenoble, and finally, in 1804 , accepted the offer of Mother Barat to receive her community into the Society of the Sacred Heart.

From early childhood, the dream of Philippine had been the apostolate of souls: heathen in distant lands, the neglected and poor at home. Nature and grace combined to fit her for this high vocation; education, suffering, above all, the guidance of Mother Barat trained her to become the pioneer of her order in the New world. In 1818 Mother Duchesne set out with four companions for the missions of America. Bishop Dubourg welcomed her to New Orleans, when she sailed up the Mississippi to St. Louis, finally settling her little colony at St. Charles.

"Poverty and Christian heroism are here", she wrote, "and trials are the riches of priests in this land." Cold, hunger, and illness; opposition, ingratitude, and calumny, all that came to try the courage of this missioner, served only to fire her lofty and indomitable spirit with new zeal for the spread of truth. Other foundations followed, at Florissant, Grand Côteau, New Orleans, St. Louis, St. Michael; and the approbation of the society in 1826 by Leo XII recognized the good being done in these parts. She yearned to teach the poor Indians, and old and broken as she was, she went to labour among the Pottowatomies at Sugar Creek, thus realizing the desire of her life. Stirred by the recitals of Father De Smet, S.J., she turned her eyes towards the Rocky Mountain missions; but Providence led her back to St. Charles, where she died.

34 years of mission toil, disappointment, endurance, and self-annihilation sufficed, indeed, to prove the worth of this valiant daughter of Mother Barat. She had opened the road so that others might walk in it; and the success hidden from her eyes was well seen later by the many who rejoiced in the rapid spread of her order over North and South America. Sincere, intense, generous, austere yet affectionate, endowed with large capacity for suffering and work, Mother Duchesne's was a stern character that needed and took the moulding of Mother Barat. She was canonized on July 3, 1988, by Pope John Paul II.


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Pope John XXIII

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