48-Charlemagne Part 1

The title of this 48th episode of CS is “Charlemagne – Part 1.”

The political landscape of our time is dominated by the idea that nation-states are autonomous & sovereign societies in which religion at best plays a minor role. Religion may be an influence in shaping some aspects of culture, but affiliation with a religious group is voluntary and distinct from the rest of society.

What we need to understand if we’re going to be objective in our study of history is that, that idea simply did not exist in Europe during the Middle Ages.

In the 9th C, the Frank king Charles the Great, better known as Charlemagne, sought to makes Augustine’s vision of society in the City of God, a reality. He merged Church & State, fusing a new political-religious alliance. His was a conscious effort to merge the Roman Catholic Church with what was left of the old Roman political house, creating a hybrid Holy Roman Empire.  The product became what’s called Medieval European Christendom.
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This week’s episode is titled – “Challenge.”

We’ve tracked the development & growth of the Church in the East over a few episodes. To be clear, we’re talking about the Church which made its headquarters in the city of Seleucia. Twin city to the Persian capital of Ctesiphon, in the region known as Mesopotamia. What today historians refer to as The Church in the East called itself the Assyrian Church. But it was known by the Catholic Church in the West with its twin centers at Rome & Constantinople, by the disparaging title of the Nestorian Church because it continued on in the theological tradition of Bishop Nestorius, declared heretical by the Councils of Ephesus in 431 & Chalcedon in 451. As we’ve seen, it’s doubtful what Nestorius taught about the nature of Christ was truly errant. But Cyril, bishop of Alexandria, more for political reasons than from a concern for theological purity, convinced his peers that Nestorius was a heretic & had him & his followers banished. They moved East and formed the core of the Church in the East.
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This episode of Communio Sanctorum is titled, “Liturgy.”

And that’s where I want to begin: What comes to mind when you hear that word – “Liturgy.”

Most likely—it brings up all kinds of various associations for different people. Some find great comfort in what the word connotes because it recalls a time in their life of close connection to God. Others find it distasteful as it seems to represent empty rituals that obscure, rather than bring closer a sense of the sacred.

The following is by no means meant as a comprehensive study of Christian liturgy. Far from it. That would take hours. This is just a thumbnail sketch of the genesis of some of the liturgical traditions of the Church.
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