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"How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization" ( Book Review )
Catholic Education .Org ^ | 2005 | Thomas E. Woods

Posted on 12/21/2008 6:19:03 AM PST by GonzoII


How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization

THOMAS E. WOODS, JR.

From the role of the monks to art and architecture, from the university to Western law, from science to charitable work, from international law to economics, How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization delves into just how indebted we are as a civilization to the Catholic Church, whether we realize it or not.

By far the book’s longest chapter is "The Church and Science." We have all heard a great deal about the Church’s alleged hostility toward science. What most people fail to realize is that historians of science have spent the past half-century drastically revising this conventional wisdom, arguing that the Church’s role in the development of Western science was far more salutary than previously thought. I am speaking not about Catholic apologists but about serious and important scholars of the history of science such as J.L. Heilbron, A.C. Crombie, David Lindberg, Edward Grant, and Thomas Goldstein.

It is all very well to point out that important scientists, like Louis Pasteur, have been Catholic. More revealing is how many priests have distinguished themselves in the sciences. It turns out, for instance, that the first person to measure the rate of acceleration of a freely falling body was Fr. Giambattista Riccioli. The man who has been called the father of Egyptology was Fr. Athanasius Kircher (also called "master of a hundred arts" for the breadth of his knowledge). Fr. Roger Boscovich, who has been described as "the greatest genius that Yugoslavia ever produced," has often been called the father of modern atomic theory.

In the sciences it was the Jesuits in particular who distinguished themselves; some 35 craters on the moon, in fact, are named after Jesuit scientists and mathematicians.

By the eighteenth century, the Jesuits

had contributed to the development of pendulum clocks, pantographs, barometers, reflecting telescopes and microscopes, to scientific fields as various as magnetism, optics and electricity. They observed, in some cases before anyone else, the colored bands on Jupiter’s surface, the Andromeda nebula and Saturn’s rings. They theorized about the circulation of the blood (independently of Harvey), the theoretical possibility of flight, the way the moon effected the tides, and the wave-like nature of light. Star maps of the southern hemisphere, symbolic logic, flood-control measures on the Po and Adige rivers, introducing plus and minus signs into Italian mathematics — all were typical Jesuit achievements, and scientists as influential as Fermat, Huygens, Leibniz and Newton were not alone in counting Jesuits among their most prized correspondents [Jonathan Wright, The Jesuits, 2004, p. 189].

Seismology, the study of earthquakes, has been so dominated by Jesuits that it has become known as "the Jesuit science." It was a Jesuit, Fr. J.B. Macelwane, who wrote Introduction to Theoretical Seismology, the first seismology textbook in America, in 1936. To this day, the American Geophysical Union, which Fr. Macelwane once headed, gives an annual medal named after this brilliant priest to a promising young geophysicist.

  

How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization

Contents

The Indispensable Church
A Light in the Darkness
How the Monks Saved Civilization
The Church and the University
The Church and Science
The Origins of International Law
The Church and Economics
How Catholic Charity Changed the World
The Church and Western Law
The Church and Western Morality

The Jesuits were also the first to introduce Western science into such far-off places as China and India. In seventeenth-century China in particular, Jesuits introduced a substantial body of scientific knowledge and a vast array of mental tools for understanding the physical universe, including the Euclidean geometry that made planetary motion comprehensible. Jesuits made important contributions to the scientific knowledge and infrastructure of other less developed nations not only in Asia but also in Africa and Central and South America. Beginning in the nineteenth century, these continents saw the opening of Jesuit observatories that studied such fields as astronomy, geomagnetism, meteorology, seismology, and solar physics. Such observatories provided these places with accurate time keeping, weather forecasts (particularly important in the cases of hurricanes and typhoons), earthquake risk assessments, and cartography. In Central and South America the Jesuits worked primarily in meteorology and seismology, essentially laying the foundations of those disciplines there. The scientific development of these countries, ranging from Ecuador to Lebanon to the Philippines, is indebted to Jesuit efforts.

The Galileo case is often cited as evidence of Catholic hostility toward science, and How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization accordingly takes a closer look at the Galileo matter. For now, just one little-known fact: Catholic cathedrals in Bologna, Florence, Paris, and Rome were constructed to function as solar observatories. No more precise instruments for observing the sun’s apparent motion could be found anywhere in the world. When Johannes Kepler posited that planetary orbits were elliptical rather than circular, Catholic astronomer Giovanni Cassini verified Kepler’s position through observations he made in the Basilica of San Petronio in the heart of the Papal States. Cassini, incidentally, was a student of Fr. Riccioli and Fr. Francesco Grimaldi, the great astronomer who also discovered the diffraction of light, and even gave the phenomenon its name.

I’ve tried to fill the book with little-known facts like these.

To say that the Church played a positive role in the development of science has now become absolutely mainstream, even if this new consensus has not yet managed to trickle down to the general public. In fact, Stanley Jaki, over the course of an extraordinary scholarly career, has developed a compelling argument that in fact it was important aspects of the Christian worldview that accounted for why it was in the West that science enjoyed the success it did as a self-sustaining enterprise. Non-Christian cultures did not possess the same philosophical tools, and in fact were burdened by conceptual frameworks that hindered the development of science. Jaki extends this thesis to seven great cultures: Arabic, Babylonian, Chinese, Egyptian, Greek, Hindu, and Maya. In these cultures, Jaki explains, science suffered a "stillbirth." My book gives ample attention to Jaki’s work.

  

Economic thought is another area in which more and more scholars have begun to acknowledge the previously overlooked role of Catholic thinkers. Joseph Schumpeter, one of the great economists of the twentieth century, paid tribute to the overlooked contributions of the late Scholastics — mainly sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Spanish theologians — in his magisterial History of Economic Analysis (1954). "[I]t is they," he wrote, "who come nearer than does any other group to having been the ‘founders’ of scientific economics." In devoting scholarly attention to this unfortunately neglected chapter in the history of economic thought, Schumpeter would be joined by other accomplished scholars over the course of the twentieth century, including Professors Raymond de Roover, Marjorie Grice-Hutchinson, and Alejandro Chafuen.


...it is no surprise that the Church should have done so much to foster the nascent university system, since the Church, according to historian Lowrie Daly, "was the only institution in Europe that showed consistent interest in the preservation and cultivation of knowledge."


The Church also played an indispensable role in another essential development in Western civilization: the creation of the university. The university was an utterly new phenomenon in European history. Nothing like it had existed in ancient Greece or Rome. The institution that we recognize today, with its faculties, courses of study, examinations, and degrees, as well as the familiar distinction between undergraduate and graduate study, come to us directly from the medieval world. And it is no surprise that the Church should have done so much to foster the nascent university system, since the Church, according to historian Lowrie Daly, "was the only institution in Europe that showed consistent interest in the preservation and cultivation of knowledge."

The popes and other churchmen ranked the universities among the great jewels of Christian civilization. It was typical to hear the University of Paris described as the "new Athens" — a designation that calls to mind the ambitions of the great Alcuin from the Carolingian period of several centuries earlier, who sought through his own educational efforts to establish a new Athens in the kingdom of the Franks. Pope Innocent IV (1243–54) described the universities as "rivers of science which water and make fertile the soil of the universal Church," and Pope Alexander IV (1254–61) called them "lanterns shining in the house of God." And the popes deserved no small share of the credit for the growth and success of the university system. "Thanks to the repeated intervention of the papacy," writes historian Henri Daniel-Rops, "higher education was enabled to extend its boundaries; the Church, in fact, was the matrix that produced the university, the nest whence it took flight."

As a matter of fact, among the most important medieval contributions to modern science was the essentially free inquiry of the university system, where scholars could debate and discuss propositions, and in which the utility of human reason was taken for granted. Contrary to the grossly inaccurate picture of the Middle Ages that passes for common knowledge today, medieval intellectual life made indispensable contributions to Western civilization. In The Beginnings of Western Science (1992), David Lindberg writes:

[I]t must be emphatically stated that within this educational system the medieval master had a great deal of freedom. The stereotype of the Middle Ages pictures the professor as spineless and subservient, a slavish follower of Aristotle and the Church fathers (exactly how one could be a slavish follower of both, the stereotype does not explain), fearful of departing one iota from the demands of authority. There were broad theological limits, of course, but within those limits the medieval master had remarkable freedom of thought and expression; there was almost no doctrine, philosophical or theological, that was not submitted to minute scrutiny and criticism by scholars in the medieval university.

"[S]cholars of the later Middle Ages," concludes Lindberg, "created a broad intellectual tradition, in the absence of which subsequent progress in natural philosophy would have been inconceivable."

Historian of science Edward Grant concurs with this judgment:

What made it possible for Western civilization to develop science and the social sciences in a way that no other civilization had ever done before? The answer, I am convinced, lies in a pervasive and deep-seated spirit of inquiry that was a natural consequence of the emphasis on reason that began in the Middle Ages. With the exception of revealed truths, reason was enthroned in medieval universities as the ultimate arbiter for most intellectual arguments and controversies. It was quite natural for scholars immersed in a university environment to employ reason to probe into subject areas that had not been explored before, as well as to discuss possibilities that had not previously been seriously entertained.

The creation of the university, the commitment to reason and rational argument, and the overall spirit of inquiry that characterized medieval intellectual life amounted to "a gift from the Latin Middle Ages to the modern world…though it is a gift that may never be acknowledged. Perhaps it will always retain the status it has had for the past four centuries as the best-kept secret of Western civilization."

Here, then, are just a few of the topics to be found in How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization. I’ve been asked quite a few times in recent weeks what my next project will be. For now, it’ll be getting some rest.

"How the Monks Saved Civilization", chapter three from
How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization,
is available online here.

  

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Thomas E. Woods, Jr. "How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization." LewRockwell.com (May 2, 2005).

Reprinted by permission of Thomas E. Woods, Jr.

THE AUTHOR

Thomas E. Woods, Jr. holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Harvard and his Ph.D. from Columbia. His books include the New York Times (and LRC) bestseller The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History, The Church and the Market: A Catholic Defense of the Free Economy, The Church Confronts Modernity: Catholic Intellectuals and the Progressive Era, and the just-released How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization.

Copyright © 2005 LewRockwell.com


TOPICS: Catholic; History; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS: bookreview; books; catholic; catholicchurch; catholichistory; europe; history; literature; science; thomasewoods; westerncivilization
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To: stripes1776; All

No the point was that I was making the Church was anti science during that period..


51 posted on 12/21/2008 2:33:42 PM PST by KevinDavis (Thomas Jefferson: A little rebellion now and then is a good thing)
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To: KevinDavis; All
No the point was that I was making the Church was anti science during that period..

During what period?

52 posted on 12/21/2008 2:35:33 PM PST by stripes1776 ("That if gold rust, what shall iron do?" --Chaucer)
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To: Iscool

>>Well, I think I would put it like this; as the saying goes, first things first, the Catholic Church is historically the first Christian religion
Only in Catholic history books...<<

No, in all history books. The only books that claim otherwise are propaganda(such as Trail of Blood), and have been discredited by most historians(even those unsympathetic to the Roman Catholic Church).


53 posted on 12/21/2008 3:04:49 PM PST by Palin4ever
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To: GonzoII
The doctrine of apostolic succession, that is, the continuous transmission of ministry from the time of Jesus until today.

Sounds good, doesn't it...However, your apostolic line has been broken numerous times, even from the get-go from Peter...Names were later inserted into the line to make it look like an unbroken line...

The doctrine is found as early as the Epistle to the Corinthians (c. 96), traditionally attributed to Pope Clement I...

There you go again...You don't have the letter...It's your church's 'tradition' that such a letter ever existed...

It is expressly affirmed in Roman Catholicism. It is identified with the succession of bishops in office and interpreted as the source of the bishops’ authority and leadership role. The most specific instance of these claims is that the pope is the successor of St. Peter, who was chosen by Jesus as head of his church (see Matt. 16:16–18).

I can just imagine the look on a Catholic's face when he for the first time read the scriptures in his own language...No doubt he said about his church, 'this is not the church of the scriptures'...

The Reformers are the true catholics...

54 posted on 12/21/2008 3:24:05 PM PST by Iscool (I don't understand all that I know...)
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To: Palin4ever
No, in all history books. The only books that claim otherwise are propaganda(such as Trail of Blood), and have been discredited by most historians(even those unsympathetic to the Roman Catholic Church).

Ha...All books that have been anti-Catholic have been 'dis-credited'...So what else is new???

55 posted on 12/21/2008 3:26:32 PM PST by Iscool (I don't understand all that I know...)
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To: ChetNavVet
Time for you to do some much needed reading, gomer.

Twisting the Knife
How Galileo Brought His Troubles with the Church on Himself

56 posted on 12/21/2008 4:14:08 PM PST by A.A. Cunningham
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To: Iscool

Thanks for confirming yet again that you are an idiot.


57 posted on 12/21/2008 4:19:06 PM PST by A.A. Cunningham
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To: KevinDavis
Galileo would have disagreed with you..

Read the following and learn something rather than regurgitate the pap you've so willingly swallowed.

Twisting the Knife
How Galileo Brought His Troubles with the Church on Himself

58 posted on 12/21/2008 4:25:12 PM PST by A.A. Cunningham
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To: A.A. Cunningham
Thanks for confirming yet again that you are an idiot.

You feel better now???

Must be the weekend moderator is a Catholic...

59 posted on 12/21/2008 5:52:47 PM PST by Iscool (I don't understand all that I know...)
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To: Iscool

>>...All books that have been anti-Catholic have been ‘dis-credited’...So what else is new??? <<

One thing that isn’t new is anti-Catholic bigotry. It’s too bad. On the cultural issues of our time, Catholics, Evangelicals and other people of faith have so much in common. As Christopher Dawson said, “The final battle of our age will not be between Catholics and Protestants, but between those who believe in God and those who do not”. We should work together, not tear each other down.


60 posted on 12/22/2008 7:34:43 AM PST by Palin4ever
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To: GonzoII; All

Recent & local...

http://www.catholiccitizens.org/platform/platformview.asp?c=40974

Interesting thread GonzoII. Thanks for posting.


61 posted on 12/22/2008 7:55:16 AM PST by PGalt
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To: PGalt

You’re welcome.


62 posted on 12/22/2008 8:08:09 AM PST by GonzoII ("That they may be one...Father")
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To: equaviator
"The catholic church did not build the USA. That’s more important, I think. Not to single out the catholic church by any means."

Actually the USA is part of Western Civilization, of which our Founding Fathers were beneficiaries.

Where would our great country be today without the Bible, which some monks sacrificed their vision to transcribe, and not to mention the copies of the ancient writers wich the Church preserved and Jefferson read; I have no intent to degrade Protestants here, but only to state some facts.

Also, by the way, three of our Founding Fathers were Catholics:


Daniel Carroll a Signer of the Articles of the Confederation/ U.S. Constitution and U.S. Representative in the First Federal Congress (1789-179)


Charles Carroll a Signer of the Declaration of Independence and a Senator in the First U.S. Federal Congress (1789-1791)


Thomas Fitzsimons a Signer of the U.S. Constitution and U.S. Representative in the First Federal Congress (1789-1791)

63 posted on 12/22/2008 8:51:35 AM PST by GonzoII ("That they may be one...Father")
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To: Iscool

Maybe you should publish your own Encyclopedia.

I don’t think it would sell good though.

Merry Christmas.


64 posted on 12/22/2008 9:03:30 AM PST by GonzoII ("That they may be one...Father")
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To: Truth Defender
The Catholic Church, as well as her historical part the East Orthodox Church are not denominations among many, they are the historical continuing churches that Christ founded. They would not be able to build the civilization we have otherwise.

what I said about the "ekklesia" (Greek spelling) is what is taught in the Scriptures you say you believe in

I gave the relevant scripture in my 35:

The gospels record the Church as a single body united by Eucharistic Christ (Rm 12, 1 Cor. 10) and organized around her bishops (Acts 20:28) who meet in councils, teach and legislate (Acts 15). Re-read the catholic epistles, and Acts.

There is, of course, much more scripture supporting the Catholic ecclesiology. What scripture are you talking about?

65 posted on 12/22/2008 9:05:54 AM PST by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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To: briarbey b
what are you being taught about end-times?

That we should be ready any time. Regardless when Christ comes for all, our encounter with Him is mere decades away at most, and may be just minutes away. It is important to grow in holiness at all times. It is unimportant and even harmful to speculate about the day and the hour. That is about it.

66 posted on 12/22/2008 9:09:09 AM PST by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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To: annalex

Good answer and true, but what were the signs he told us to watch for...and why did he expect us to identify the players? Or what would be coming. He said his people would not be caught unaware, although we do not know the day or the hour we can see the signs and know we are close. Hard to fight and beware of an enemy you are not aware of.

No it isn’t decades away...the birth pangs are coming stronger and closer to a time of trouble like never seen on the face of the earth. History repeated with alot of it but ALL the signs will converge intensely and quickly as with the labor and the birth of a child. As a woman you should understand this concept..even the times of false labor.


67 posted on 12/22/2008 9:45:33 AM PST by briarbey b
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To: briarbey b
I was talking of our own death and particular judgement being at most decades away, as I don't plan to live another 100 years. I think that the Second Coming of Christ is indeed not far.

An Orthodox friend of mine, Victor, a great iconographer, wrote something on the subject: Why Is the End of the World Inevitable?.

68 posted on 12/22/2008 11:27:24 AM PST by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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To: annalex
The Catholic Church, as well as her historical part the East Orthodox Church are not denominations among many, they are the historical continuing churches that Christ founded. They would not be able to build the civilization we have otherwise.

Even before the RCC came into existence, many nations had already created civilization. Civilizations are created by men, not "churches" - and Jesus never said that His "body" was to create civilizations of the world. Christ's Kingdom is not of this world, it is within the hearts of those who believe in the Gospel.

I do give various churches credit for their part in creating a better civilization - but no particular one is responsible for what we now have.

I'll be absent from FR for the next 10 days or so - going out of state and leaving my computer idle at home. No way am I going to take it with me on vacation - have to have a rest of one sort or other :-)

69 posted on 12/22/2008 2:42:57 PM PST by Truth Defender (Christ did NOT come to save an immortal sinner, but to give a mortal sinner the offer of immortality)
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To: annalex
"what are you being taught about end-times?"

That we should be ready any time. Regardless when Christ comes for all, our encounter with Him is mere decades away at most, and may be just minutes away. It is important to grow in holiness at all times. It is unimportant and even harmful to speculate about the day and the hour. That is about it.

Annalex, terrific answer! Congratulation!

70 posted on 12/22/2008 2:45:41 PM PST by Truth Defender (Christ did NOT come to save an immortal sinner, but to give a mortal sinner the offer of immortality)
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To: annalex
Interesting article...I found this in the posts.

About Katrina

(As you must know, the Storm inspired a great many conversations about the problem of evil and God's purpose in permitting great disorders of nature in this fallen world. The knee-kerk evangelical response is that Katrina was God's judgment on a sinful world — as opposed to them, of course.)

My experience with this was watching Gaza handed to the Terrorists and the Israeli being dragged out of their homes...I was in tears...and on my face...knowing that the US political agenda should not be forcing Israel to give up land not only given them by God but won by them in battle.
The price would be a high one for the US.
(if we play by the same rules...and not be hypocrites.. California needs to go back to Mexico and this whole country needs to be given back to the Indians.)

I was in New Orleans traveling a month before Katrina...I stood on Bourbon Street with friends and said...God is going to give this place a good scrubbing. They laughed but He did!! And made homeless just about as many people as we did with Gaza and our political agendas.

The next thing I fear is..when a Cat. 5 hits land like that, it moves things and sets the stage for further events. IF we make Israel give 1/2 of Jerusalem to terrorists....watch the Madrid Fault. God help us!!

People do have a tendency to scoff at God's judgments but yet blessings are also a judgment, he does do both. We should not be so puffed up that we risk his anger, just like our earthly dads.

I must say that I do HATE religion...ALL of them. Because it is not about religion it is about a relationship with the God that made us and all we have or see. It is about us personally knowing HIS nature, HIS ways and he said our ways are not his ways.

Mankind is making God in its imagine not the other way around, and it is being done through religions. I should not be able to identify your Christianity by any other title than a believer...pure and simple. God will not identify us by our denominations or organizations...we will stand as we are. Our names written in the Lambs Book of Life or NOT. I fear for people making their Christianity an Idol...more than Christ who paid the ultimate price to give us what we have.

71 posted on 12/22/2008 2:47:43 PM PST by briarbey b
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To: Truth Defender

Yes. Neither is the Western civilization the only one, nor is the Catholic Church the only one who built it.

No one seriously denies that, firstly, the early Church, both Catholic and Orthodox, — and not only the Latin Western Church were the architects of the Western Civilization. Further, the Orthodox Church even after its separation was a major factor in building this civilization, as well as other separated communities of faith. Secondly, a major component was the absorption of all that was good in the pagan civilizations that preceded the Church, especially the Greco-Roman civilization in its pre-Christian form.

Finally, major contributions came from Islam and from diverse non-Christian world.

The claim is that among all this contributions, and from a Eurocentric viewpoint, the primary builder is the Catohlic Church. She synthesized the pagan wisdom with the light of the Gospel, she created the infrastructure of learning, including the secular institutions of science, and from her other communities of faith, now contributing on their own, sprang.


72 posted on 12/22/2008 3:09:40 PM PST by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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To: briarbey b
Mankind is making God in its imagine not the other way around, and it is being done through religions.

Christianity is about having seen the face of God. No one made the image, but God.



Savior Not Made By Hand
Novgorod School, 12th Century

73 posted on 12/22/2008 3:13:55 PM PST by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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To: annalex

I think this says it all about your images.

2nd Commandment: ‘You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.’

Also..if you read Revelations it will give you a description of Christ and it is definately NOT what man has made it to be.


74 posted on 12/22/2008 5:56:35 PM PST by briarbey b
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To: briarbey b
The iconoclasm heresy was defeated by the Church over a thousand years ago.

The Holy Tradition says that St. Veronica wiped the face of Jesus on His way to Golgotha and the image remained on the cloth. The Turin Shroud is the actual image; the icon above is the traditional iconographic reference to the same. This is why it is called Not Made By Hands. The match with the iconography is remarkable, given that one represents a dead man and the other -- the living God.

The larger point is that the Incarnation is a historical fact, and we, Catholics have a historical religion. It is not a speculation what God might look like -- we know what He looks like.

75 posted on 12/22/2008 10:17:40 PM PST by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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To: annalex

“This forum is a good place to find out about Catholicism.”

#####

Indeed it is!


76 posted on 12/22/2008 10:25:49 PM PST by EyeGuy
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To: annalex

uh huh....and Mary sells on grilled cheese sandwiches, and crowds gather around and come from miles to worship mold on a wall.
Anything and everything that can be done to eliminate the 10 commandments has been being done for hundreds of years.

Still doesn’t look like what scripture says he looks like.
I will believe scripture over the rumors and vain imaginations of men.


77 posted on 12/23/2008 7:41:17 AM PST by briarbey b
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To: briarbey b
Thanks for reminding: we also know what virgin Mary looked like. Evangelist St. Luke wrote the first icon of Mary.



Our Lady of the Sign
Russia

Remember, iconography has no room for artistic imagination: facial features must be canonical.

The commandment not to make images was given the Jews. It makes no sense after the Incarnation when God chose to give us His image (2 Cor. 4:4, Col. 1:15).

It is another example how the Church, in defeating iconoclasm, stood on the side of civilization and against the heretical vandals. If you enjoy art, thank the Church.

78 posted on 12/23/2008 11:47:44 AM PST by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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To: annalex
"Remember, iconography has no room for artistic imagination: facial features must be canonical."

Annalex, can you recommend a book that helps one understand icons; one more spiritual than technical.

79 posted on 12/23/2008 1:02:10 PM PST by GonzoII ("That they may be one...Father")
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To: GonzoII
This website is, I believe, an entry level university course, and a good place to start: Alexander Boguslawski

Guide to Byzantine Iconography (Paperback) by Constantine Cavarnos (Author) is a terrific book that also points out how the spiritual is intertwined with the technical. Cavarnos would describe the canon for a particular icon, then explain the scriptural and theological basis for it, and relate it to Orthodox hymnody.

I would start by reading about it on the internet, there is plenty in English that has lately become available.

I know more than the average bear about icons, feel free to ask. I enjoy explaining them.

80 posted on 12/23/2008 1:31:23 PM PST by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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To: annalex

Thanks.

And Merry Christmas!


81 posted on 12/23/2008 1:39:36 PM PST by GonzoII ("That they may be one...Father")
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To: GonzoII


Nativity of Our Lord
St. Katherine's monastery, Mt. Sinai

I behold a new and wondrous mystery! My ears resound to the Shepherd's song, piping no soft melody, but chanting full forth a heavenly hymn.

The Angels sing!
The Archangels blend their voices in harmony!
The Cherubim hymn their joyful praise!
The Seraphim exalt His glory!

All join to praise this holy feast, beholding the Godhead here on earth, and man in heaven. He who is above, now for our redemption dwells here below; and he that was lowly is by divine mercy raised.

Bethlehem this day resembles heaven; hearing from the stars the singing of angelic voices; and in place of the sun, enfolds within itself on every side the Sun of Justice.

And ask not how: for where God wills, the order of nature yields. For He willed, he had the power, He descended, He redeemed; all things move in obedience to God.

This day He Who Is, is Born; and He Who Is becomes what He was not. For when He was God, He became man; yet not departing from the Godhead that is His. Nor yet by any loss of divinity became He man, nor through increase became he God from man; but being the Word He became flesh, His nature, because of impassibility, remaining unchanged.

And so the kings have come, and they have seen the heavenly King that has come upon the earth, not bringing with Him Angels, nor Archangels, nor Thrones, nor Dominations, nor Powers, nor Principalities, but, treading a new and solitary path, He has come forth from a spotless womb.

Yet He has not forsaken His angels, nor left them deprived of His care, nor because of His Incarnation has he departed from the Godhead.

And behold,
Kings have come, that they might adore the heavenly King of glory;
Soldiers, that they might serve the Leader of the Hosts of Heaven;
Women, that they might adore Him Who was born of a woman so that He might change the pains of child-birth into joy;
Virgins, to the Son of the Virgin, beholding with joy, that He Who is the Giver of milk, Who has decreed that the fountains of the breast pour forth in ready streams, receives from a Virgin Mother the food of infancy;
Infants, that they may adore Him Who became a little child, so that out of the mouth of infants and sucklings, He might perfect praise;
Children, to the Child Who raised up martyrs through the rage of Herod;
Men, to Him Who became man, that He might heal the miseries of His servants;
Shepherds, to the Good Shepherd Who has laid down His life for His sheep;
Priests, to Him Who has become a High Priest according to the order of Melchisedech;
Servants, to Him Who took upon Himself the form of a servant that He might bless our servitude with the reward of freedom;
Fishermen, to Him Who from amongst fishermen chose catchers of men;
Publicans, to Him Who from amongst them named a chosen Evangelist;
Sinful women, to Him Who exposed His feet to the tears of the repentant;

And that I may embrace them all together, all sinners have come, that they may look upon the Lamb of God Who taketh away the sins of the world.

Since therefore all rejoice, I too desire to rejoice. I too wish to share the choral dance, to celebrate the festival. But I take my part, not plucking the harp, not shaking the Thyrsian staff, not with the music of pipes, nor holding a torch, but holding in my arms the cradle of Christ. For this is all my hope, this my life, this my salvation, this my pipe, my harp. And bearing it I come, and having from its power received the gift of speech, I too, with the angels, sing: Glory to God in the Highest;
and with the shepherds: and on earth peace to men of good will.

(Homily on the Nativity of the Lord by St John Chrysostom)

Merry Christmas!

82 posted on 12/23/2008 1:53:37 PM PST by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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To: GonzoII

Well, an interesting thread...albeit it continues to deteriorate into the Catholic vs protestant diatribes.


83 posted on 12/23/2008 1:56:55 PM PST by Recovering Ex-hippie (FREE BLAGO !!! LET HIM SPEAK TRUTH TO POWER !!!)
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