73-A Glimmer of Reform

The title of this episode of Communio Santorum is A Glimmer of Reform.

I assume nearly everyone listening to this is a student of history, or—why would you be listening? Some like history in general. Others find a fascination with certain eras or moments of the past. Whatever your interest in history, every student recognizes as time passes, things change. Sometimes that change is merely incidental to the thing changed, a cosmetic difference that does little to the substance. Other change is deep, fundamentally altering the thing changed; and in some cases, doing away with it altogether.

Institutions and beliefs held for long periods can be swept away in a matter of days, while others abide for centuries without being touched.
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72-Meanwhile, Back in the East

This episode of CS is titled “Meanwhile, Back in the East” because before we dive into the next phase of church history in Europe, we need to catch up on what’s happening to the East.

The Mongol Empire of the 13th & 14th Cs occupied the largest contiguous land empire in history. Rising originally from the steppes of Central Asia and eventually stretching from Eastern Europe to the Sea of Japan; from Siberia in the N to Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, & the Iranian plateau, & the Middle East. At its greatest extent it spanned 6000 miles and covered about 16% of the planet’s total land area.

Genghis Khan was himself a shamanist, but recognizing the need to unite the Mongol clans. He adopted a policy of religious toleration that remained the official policy during his reign and that of his son Ogedai. Several of the tribes that formed the core of the Mongol horde were Christians in at least a cultural sense. The Keriats, Onguds & Uighurs owed the Christianization of their culture to the Eastern expansion of Christianity we’ve looked at in some earlier episodes.
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71-The Mystics

This episode is titled The Mystics & looks at the Mysticism of the Western Church during the Late Middle Ages.

Alongside the Scholastics whom we spent a couple episodes on, was another movement within Medieval Christianity in Europe led by a group of people known as “The Mystics.”

Don’t let that title mislead you. They weren’t wizards with black, long-sleeved robes & tall pointed hats embellished with moons and stars. Don’t picture Gandalf or some old man bent over a dusty tome reciting an incantation. The Mystics weren’t magicians. They were simply Christians who thought a vital part of the Faith was been left behind by the academic pursuits of the Scholastics. They wanted to reclaim it.
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In this, the 70th Episode of CS ver. 2, we take a look at Sacramentalism; a mindset that dominated the religious landscape of late Medieval Christianity.

The question that consumed Europeans of the Middle Ages was, “How can I be saved? What must I believe and do that will preserve my soul from the torment of hell?”

Rome answered that with what’s called Sacramentalism.

Now, let me be clear; the basic answer was, “Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.” But the Church went on to define what that trust looked like with a set of rules & required practices. Yes, people are saved by grace through faith, but that grace is received by special acts only authorized clergy can conduct. These acts were called “sacraments” from the word “sacred” meaning holy. But there was a specific  flavor to the word sacrament that carried the idea of mystery. Precisely HOW the sacraments communicated grace was unknown, but that they did was a certainty. So while salvation was by grace, one had to go to the Church to get that grace. The sacraments were channels of grace and the necessary food of the soul. They accompanied human life from the cradle to the grave. An infant was ushered into the world by the sacrament of Baptism while the elderly were sent on their way out by the sacrament of Extreme Unction.
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