Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night (Volume I)


Opening Passage:

In the name of Allah, the Compassionating, the Compassionate! Praise be to Allah, The Beneficent King, The Creator of the Universe, Lord of the Three Worlds, Who set up The Firmament without Pillars in its Stead and Who stretched out the Earth even as a Bed; and Grace, and Prayer-Blessing be upon Our Lord Mohammed, Lord of Apostolic Men, and upon His Family and Companion-Train; Prayer and Blessings Enduring and Grace Which unto The Day of Doom shall Remain. Amen! O Thou of The Three Worlds Sovereign!

And afterwards. Verily the works and words of those gone before us have become instances and examples to men of our modern day, that folk may view what admonishing chances befel other folk and may therefrom take warning; and that they may peruse the annals of antique peoples and all that hath betided them, and be thereby ruled and restrained:--Praise, therefore be to Him who hath made the histories of the Past an admonition unto the Present! Now of such instances are the tales called "A Thousand Nights and a Night," together with their far-famed legends and wonders.

Summary: The Arabian Nights is a very, very complicated story about sex. The frame narrative is precisely about this. King Shahryar and his brother Shah Zaman, though extraordinarily powerful men, both discover that their wives are cheating on them, and in the most shameful sort of way. Devastated, they set out to discover if anyone else has been so cuckolded. They soon discover a woman married to a Jinni (genie), who uses the threat of her dangerous husband to force men to have sex with her. Astounded at the discovery that you can have all the power of a Jinni and still be betrayed by a woman, King Shahryar returns to his seraglio to kill all the concubines and their slaves, and makes a very fateful decision: Since there are no chaste and faithful women anywhere, he will marry a virgin each night and have her head cut off in the morning, thus eliminating forever any danger that he will ever be cheated on. This goes on for three years, and, needless to say, makes the king considerably less than popular with the people, and the Wazir is no longer able to find any maidens because anyone with a virgin daughter has fled the country. Well, almost everybody. The Wazir has two daughters, Shahrazad and Dunyazad, and while the King out of affection for the Wazir has exempted them from the search, Shahrazad has had about enough of this endless slaughter of virgins, and insists that she will stop it or die.

The psychological insight in Shahrazad's plan is quite impressive. It's not just the stories, although they are quite important. The basic format for each night is that the King and Shahrazad have sex, and then they will sleep; when they awake (it is very nearly universal in societies not ruled by electric lights to wake in the middle of the night), Dunyazad asks Sahrazad to tell a story, which she will do until she has to leave off. The king decides he wants to hear the rest of the story, or sometimes the story she briefly mentions as being even more interesting than the story she just told, and they start the cycle again. A thousand and one nights of sex and entertainment is enough to make any man merciful, no matter how paranoid he might be about women.

This first volume takes us to the 272nd night, so it's almost a year's worth of storytelling; the sections are not all equal because, for obvious reasons, Shahrazad cannot control how much time she has to tell the tale. The stories themselves are of varying length. Some of them are scarcely more than anecdotes. This volume has the longest of all the tales of the Arabian Nights, The Tale of King Omar bin al-Nu'uman and His Sons Sharrkan and Zau al-Makan, which is practically a book in itself, extending from the 45th night to the 145th night, and making up more than four hundred pages in my edition. It's an interesting experience reading it, since it is a chivalrous romance that is Muslim, not Christian.

Everyone bogs down sometimes in the Nights. Judging from the comments in his notes, Burton seems to have found the tale of the brother and sister in the Tale of King Omar very tedious. I didn't have a problem with it, although I thought it less interesting than the tale of Princess Abrizah that makes up a considerable portion of the beginning of the Tale of King Omar. But I bogged down myself in the Tale of Aziz and Azizah, which is also a sub-story in the Tale of King Omar. My favorite stories in this volume were the beast-fables (from the 146th night to the 152nd night), an assessment with which King Shahryar apparently agrees, since they are his first request, and the first tales to which he responds not just with curiosity but with enthusiasm. I also liked the Aladdin tale, The Tale of Ala al-Din Abu al-Shamat. That tale and the Tale of the Fisherman and the Jinni were the most familiar of the tales; I remember very simplified and cleaned-up versions of Aladdin and the talisman from when I was child, and the Fisherman and the Jinni will ring familiarly to anyone who has read Tim Powers's Declare.

The stories are very cynical. Men and women alike will betray you. Whatever Allah has written on your forehead will come to pass, no matter how much you attempt to evade it. No one can avoid their Lot, no matter their forethought. People die, are enslaved, are tortured, are imprisoned, are forced to flee. If you come across anyone showing visible religious devotion, you can be sure that they are out to destroy you. (This played to very interesting effect in the Tale of King Omar, in which the Christian witch Zat al-Dawahi is able over and over and over again to destroy even entire Muslim armies simply by turning their own religion against them, and gulling them all by an elaborate pretense of devotion.) This cynicism is perhaps one reason why Burton's edition has become the gold standard of all editions; the Nights need an editor and commentator as cynical as they are.

But we are not through it all yet, by any means, and we know that the frame narrative will end happily enough.

Favorite Passage:

Now when the Fisherman saw the Ifrit his side muscles quivered, his teeth chattered, his spittle dried up and he became blind about what to do. Upon this the Ifrit looked at him and cried, "There is no god but the God, and Sulayman is the prophet of God"; presently adding, "O Apostle of Allah, slay me not; never again will I gainsay thee in word nor sin against thee in deed." Quoth the Fisherman, "O Mérid, diddest thou say, Sulayman the Apostle of Allah; and Sulauman is dead some thousand and eight hundred years ago, and we are now in the last days of the world!..."

There is something just perfect about this detail in the story of the Fisherman and the Jinni, in which a Fisherman pulls a jar with a genie out of the sea and the genie, having been stuck at the bottom of the sea for hundreds of years, is so out of date that his affirmation of Islam is, "There is no God but God, and Solomon is His Prophet!" It tickles me. And it's made even better by the fisherman's "Wait, what?" reaction.

Because this is just the first volume of a three-volume edition that I will (eventually!) be completing, I will only do the usual 'Recommendation' section at the end for all three volumes.

Robert Hugh Benson's Fiction

Catholic World Report has a good article on the fiction of Robert Hugh Benson. I haven't read all of it, by any means, but I have read Lord of the World, The Dawn of All, The Necromancers, By What Authority?, and Come Rack! Come Rope! In overall terms, Lord of the World and Come Rack! Come Rope! are the best of those, although I think I liked the characterization in By What Authority? better than in Come Rack! Come Rope! (Mary Corbet, the flippant and gaudy lady-in-waiting who turns out to have more sense in her head, and more goodness in her heart, than almost everyone else around her, was especially good).

The description given in the article of The Dawn of All is somewhat misleading, since it doesn't at all convey the essential point of the story, which is that victory in the world does not really change anything about the task of the Christian. Be the victory ever so great -- and in The Dawn of All it is taken to the very farthest limit -- the Christian faith is still the faith of martyrs, and if your faith does not involve a willingness to die for Christ, it is not the faith. That the Christian faith is the faith of martyrs seems actually to be a common theme throughout Benson's work.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Half Loving-Kindliness and Half Disdain

To My Cat
by Rosamund Marriott Watson

Half loving-kindliness and half disdain,
Thou contest to my call serenely suave,
With humming speech and gracious gestures grave,
In salutation courtly and urbane;
Yet must I humble me thy grace to gain,
For wiles may win thee though no arts enslave,
And nowhere gladly thou abidest save
Where naught disturbs the concord of thy reign.

Sphinx of my quiet hearth! who deign’st to dwell
Friend of my toil, companion of mine ease,
Thine is the lore of Ra and Rameses;
That men forget dost thou remember well,
Beholden still in blinking reveries
With sombre, sea-green gaze inscrutable.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Thursday Virtue: Patience

Cicero in passing in the De Inventione Book II tells us that there are four "parts" of fortitude: magnificence, magnanimity, patience, and perseverance. Patience, he tells us, is "voluntary and sustained endurance, for the sake of what is honourable or advantageous, of difficult and painful labors".

Beyond that passing reference, which will end up being extraordinarily influential, there are few serious discussions of patience over the centuries. One of the important exceptions is De Patientia a treatise attributed to Augustine on the subject. Augustine, if it really is him (scholars have wavered back and forth on the subject), notes that 'patience' is related to the word for suffering, and defines it as "that by which we tolerate evil things with an even mind, that we may not with a mind uneven desert good things, through which we may arrive at better." The patient sufferer finds his suffering lighter than the impatient one, while patience itself contributes to additional goods that would never arise for the impatient. It is undertaken for the sake of good, and thus is not merely suffering in order to suffer. Because patience by its nature is concerned with the mental life, the suffering it deals with need not be physical, but could be anything unpleasant that would goad to wrongdoing. He then goes on to say that it depends on charity and thus cannot be attained by human will alone.

When Thomas Aquinas discusses the virtue of fortitude, he draws on Cicero, as he often does for the others, in order to determine its potential parts -- a potential part being a secondary virtue associated with it, a sort of satellite virtue. Thus the potential parts of fortitude are directly from Cicero's list: magnanimity, magnificence, patience, and perseverance. He develops this idea with respect to patience by combining Cicero's basic idea with much of the argument from the Augustinian De Patientia (2-2.136). Accepting the Augustinian definition of patience, he argues that it is necessarily a lesser virtue than a number of other virtues, including fortitude and temperance, because these virtues deal with greater obstacles to virtue than even hardship and suffering -- death and danger of death in the case of fortitude and pleasures of touch in the case of temperance.

Because the Augustinian treatise discussed whether it is possible to have patience in the proper sense without divine help, Aquinas also considers the question. And he concludes unequivocally that Augustine is right: patience does what it does out of love for good, and the love for good that is sufficient for the kinds of suffering patience must bear must be for a good so great any such suffering is worth it. But suffering is itself a deprivation of good, so the good loved in patience must be a good so great that any ordinary good is inferior to it. Patience, then, does indeed seem to derive from charity, and thus is impossible without grace. It is true that the inclination of reason to good could in principle be great enough, but Aquinas argues that as we actually find it it is always intermixed with the false craving of concupiscence. True patience requires a purity of love that reason alone cannot guarantee. This is not to deny, of course, that someone might endure great suffering for a defective good that he craves; but this kind of endurance of hardship necessarily inherits the defectiveness of the good craved, and thus in any such case would fall short of patience itself.

While Aquinas, following Cicero, places patience as a potential part of fortitude, he does explicitly argue that it has some similarity with temperance. Patience is very much concerned with desires in a way that fortitude is not, for instance, which links it to temperance. In addition, if we understood 'patience' in a very specific sense as concerned with the dangers of death, we could consider it an integral part of fortitude, i.e., an essential condition required for fortitude, rather than a potential part -- the potential part is the kind of patience is more generic, in that it is just concerned with hardship in general rather than with ultimate hardship in particular. He also distinguishes it from the virtue of longanimity; like patience, longanimity is a virtue of endurance, but it is an endurance directed to reaching a good that takes work to reach, and thus it is not particularly concerned with evils or hardships themselves, although the two can be linked insofar as the difficulty of attaining the good could cause grief, and thus suffering. In this sense, one could say that patience involves a sort of constancy combined with longanimity.

Aquinas's synthesis would be quite influential; it is found summarized without attribution, for instance, in Henry More's An Account of Virtue (1701), although parts of More's account of patience, which he regards as a more basic virtue than fortitude, are his own. While the details are not always preserved, 'patience' taken in such a way as at least to suggest a very high standard seems to last until quite late, being easily found even in the early twentieth century. It does not seem to be extant at all anymore -- when we talk about 'patience' it is often more a matter of a particular kind of social etiquette than the sort of everything-for-good devotion that the word once meant. I'm not sure why there is this gap, but my rough sense is that discussion of patience as a virtue in its own right fades a bit through the twentieth century, leaving the moral understanding of the term entirely in the hands of everyday, colloquial conversation.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Sui Juris Churches Index

The full index for all the posts on sui juris churches follows. The primary ordering principles were just time and ignorance, so nothing much should be made of the order. I knew some of them -- Armenian, Chaldean, Bulgarian, and Latin -- would have to be put off to a point when I had a bit more time than I had in Spring term, due to the complexity of their history and the subsequent difficulty of condensing it to a brief summary. Some of them I already knew quite a bit about, like the Maronite, some I knew a little, but only a little about, and others, like the Slovak, Albanian, and Croatian, I knew nothing whatsoever about before starting the project, thus requiring more research. I suppose I also tried to spread out the Byzantine Rite churches a bit; since they are more than half of the particular churches, I broke them up.

Going through them all was an interesting experience, and I learned quite a bit from it. It made very clear just how awful a thing twentieth-century Communism was; when you look at the history of the Eastern churches, you run into just terrible things, over and over again, that came about due to the Soviets or their satellite governments. Prior to the Soviet Union, the worst persecutors of Eastern Catholics were the Russian Empire and the Ottoman Empire, especially the latter, but they had nothing on the Communists. And the Communists were not only terrible; they were very effective. It was particularly difficult to read up on what Communists did to Eastern Catholics in Belarus and Albania.

It was also interesting seeing the variation in how visible the churches are online; some of them are very active and visible on the internet, while others are not. Interestingly, the most popular post in the entire series, by far, was that for the Russian Catholic Church; small though the church is, it seems to have a very active social media and internet presence!

Introduction: Sui Juris Churches

I. The Italo-Albanian Catholic Church
II. The Syriac Maronite Church of Antioch
III. The Melkite Catholic Church
IV. The Romanian Church United with Rome, Greek-Catholic
V. The Russian Greek Catholic Church
VI. The Coptic Catholic Church
VII. The Ruthenian Catholic Church
VIII. The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church
IX. The Belarusian Greek Catholic Church
X. The Church of Malabar Syrians
XI. The Syro-Malankara Catholic Church
XII. The Greek Catholic Church in Slovakia
XIII. The Albanian Byzantine Catholic Church
XIV. The Ethiopian Catholic Church
XV. The Eritrean Catholic Church
XVI. The Hungarian Greek Catholic Church
XVII. The Armenian Catholic Church
XVIII. The Greek Byzantine Catholic Church
XIX. The Syriac Catholic Church
XX. The Chaldean Catholic Church
XXI. The Bulgarian Greek Catholic Church
XXII. The Byzantine Church of Croatia, Serbia, and Montenegro
XXIII. The Macedonian Greek Catholic Church
XXIV. The Latin Church


I. Ordinariates for the Faithful of the Eastern Rite
II. Patriarchal and Major Archiepiscopal Cathedrals of the Catholic Church

Sui Juris Churches, Appendix II: Patriarchal and Major Archiepiscopal Cathedrals of the Catholic Church

Armenian Catholic: The Cathedral of St. Elie and St. Gregory the Illuminator in Beirut, Lebanon. The order of the saints' names is not fixed, so one will occasionally find it referred to as the Cathedral of St. Gregory the Illuminator and St. Elie. Pope Pius XI paid for it to be built in 1928.

Chaldean Catholic: The Church of Mary, Mother of Sorrows in Baghdad, Iraq. It was constructed in 1898.

Coptic Catholic: The Cathedral of Our Lady of Egypt in Cairo, Egypt.

Latin Catholic: The Papal Archbasilica of the Most Holy Savior and Saints John the Baptist and the Evangelist in the Lateran, in Rome, Italy. A palace that came into possession of the popes in the fourth century, it had to be rebuilt in the ninth century and again in the fourteenth century, and it underwent a major reconstruction in the sixteenth century. The Feast of the Dedication of St. John Lateran is celebrated on November 9 in the Roman Calendar.

Maronite Catholic: The Cathedral of the Maronite Patriarchate, in Bkerké, Lebanon.

Melkite Greek Catholic: The Patriarchal Cathedral of Our Lady of the Dormition in Damascus, Syria.

Romanian Greek Catholic: The Greek-Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Blaj, Romania. It was constructed around 1756.

Syriac Catholic: The Cathedral of Our Lady of Annunciation in Beirut, Lebanon.

Syro-Malabar Catholic: St. Mary's Cathedral Basilica, in Kochi, Kerala, India.

Syro-Malankara Catholic: St. Mary's Syro-Malankara Cathedral in Trevandra, Kerala, India. It was constructed in 1965.

Ukrainian Greek Catholic: The Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ in Kiev, Ukraine. Construction on it was finished in 2011; before that time, the cathedral was in Lviv.

Online Sources and Resources:

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Music on My Mind

Il Volo, "Grande Amore". You can blame Enbrethiliel for it.

Sui Juris Churches, Appendix I: Ordinariates for the Faithful of Eastern Rite

An ordinariate is a form of ecclesial jurisdiction between a vicariate and a diocese or eparchy. Vicariates and ordinariates are used under circumstances in which the ordinary diocesan form of jurisdiction is not suitable. In a vicariate, which is most commonly used where there is no diocese at all, the whole is supervised by a vicar (whether apostolic or patriarchal), who is a bishop who is simply delegated the care of the faithful in question on top of any other duties he might have; the vicar is not an ordinary, and thus is simply administering matters until they develop enough to be given a more formal organization. (There are even less developed structures, prefectures, that are headed by people who do not have episcopal functions at all.) Ordinariates differ from vicariates in that they are supervised by an ordinary, someone whose primary authority and responsibility is the care of the faithful who are part of the ordinariate. The most common ordinariates with which anyone deals are military ordinariates. Unlike a vicariate, an ordinariate functions very much like a diocese in its own right; the ordinary is not necessarily a bishop, and can be just a priest, but in terms of his authority and jurisdiction, he is not fundamentally different from a bishop.

There are a number of areas of the world in which there are many Eastern Catholics, but they may be scattered in such ways, or in such circumstances, that it is difficult to organize an actual eparchy for them. Thus there have come to be what are known as Ordinariates for the Faithful of Eastern Rite. Three of them are part of the Armenian Catholic Church; two of these are the oldest such ordinariates in existence (dating from 1925 and 1930), and they arose because of the peculiar circumstances involved in the origin of the Armenian Catholic Church, which was consolidated out of a number of different Armenian groups that came into union with Rome. Some pockets were not in situations in which an eparchy could be easily developed, and it eventually was decided that they were more adequately taken care of under their own structures rather than under Latin bishops exercising their ordinary diocesan functions.

The rest of the ordinariates for the faithful of Eastern rite, however, are not distinctive to a particular church. One of them is for Byzantine Rite Catholics in Austria. The other four, in Argentina, Brazil, France, and Poland, are for Eastern Catholics in general. In none of these last four cases, however, are all Eastern Catholics included: the ordinariates exist for situations in which there is no proper eparchial structure. In the one for Brazil, for instance, the Ukrainians, Maronites, and Melkites are all able to maintain their own eparchies for their particular faithful, and thus they are cared for by those eparchies rather than the ordinariates. In each case, the most important Latin Archbishop in the territory is the ordinary for the ordinariate, and thus in practice they serve as means whereby the Latin Church may help to serve the spiritual needs of Eastern churches, where it is in a better position to help them than the relevant Eastern church.

Monday, July 06, 2015

The Analects, Books XIX-XX

Book XIX

While Confucius is mentioned and quoted in passing in this book, this book consists entirely of comments by, and anecdotes about, some of his students, and in fact divides very clearly into a section for each student. The students we get are:

Zhuansun Shi (Zizhang): He notes that a public official should focus on the task at hand (19.1) and insists that virtue requires constancy (19.2). He takes a more moderate view than Zixia on how the noble should relate to others, arguing that the noble person should not reject the masses but tolerate them (19.3).

Bu Shang (Zixia): He holds that all arts have something of value in them, but they are not all equally valuable to the noble, who will avoid getting bogged down in the lesser ones (19.4), and suggests that fondness for learning is associated with recognizing one's limitations but remembering one's potential (19.5). When criticized by Ziyou for his students' attention to external details, he responds that only the truly wise can grasp things all at once; everyone else must start with elementary matters (19.12).

Yan Yan (Ziyou): He has two cryptic comments, one on the nature of mourning (19.14), and one on the nature of Zizhang (19.15).

Master Zeng: We have met Master Zeng before. He also comments on Zizhang (19.16) and gives the two quotations from Confucius that are found in Book XIX (19.17, 19.18), both on filial piety.

Duanmu Ci (Zigong): Most of his comments are defenses of Confucius. When asked who was Confucius's teacher, he replies that the Way (Tao) of the great kings, Wen and Wu, is still present and within us; thus Master Kong learns from everyone, without having to have a regular teacher (19.22). When someone says that he is even better than Confucius, he compares this to a wall around a house: his wall is short enough that ordinary people can see over it to admire the house, but Confucius's wall is so tall that only those who can find the gate can see how splendid his palace is (19.23). Master Kong is as far beyond others as sun and moon (19.24) or Heaven itself (19.25).

All of these students were known in later times as founders of important earlier Confucian schools, so one suspects that part of the point of this chapter is precisely to display Confucian thought as diversified, yet unified, in the different schools that arose from Master Kong's teaching.

Book XX

The final book of the Lun yu appears to consist just of fragments, perhaps as a sort of appendix. We have what seem to be excerpts from a lost document (20.1), and then a long discussion between Zizhang and Master Kong about the five excellences and four abominations in governing (20.2). All of the excellences are forms of moderation, and the four abominations are to put people to death without first educating them, excepting tasks to be done without giving forewarning, insisting that others meet one's own time frames while not caring about theirs, and being stingy rather than generous. And the last analect (20.3) serves nicely as a summary of the key ideas of the entire book, so I quote it in full:

The Master said: 'If one does not understand fate, one has no means of becoming a gentleman; if one does not understand the rites, one has no means of taking one's stand; if one does not understand words, one has no means of understanding people.'

Quotations are from Confucius, The Analects, Raymond Dawson, tr., Oxford University Press (New York: 2008).

Shall Spring the Crocus and the Violet

At the Ferry
by Rosamund Marriott Watson

Here by the stream I sit,
Where the dull water floweth evermore,—
The listless water lapping on the shore—
This long low strand by sun and stars unlit.

Knee-deep in river musk
I hear the black-leaved poplars sigh and sway,
The plash of cars upon the water-way
As Charon’s boat swings huge upon the dusk.

I watch the phantoms land,
And some step shoreward faint and shuddering,
With brows rose-garlanded for life’s fair Spring;
And others mute and sore-bewildered stand,

With eyes bedimmed and dazed
In the new twilight-gloom ;—yet some there be,
That seek the smooth still haven longingly
And through the gleaming wander unamazed.

But when she cometh—fair
And passing sweet this murky land shall be,
Soul of my soul—unmet by shore or sea—
Whom knew I never in the upper air,

Then sudden day shall dawn,
And wheresoe’er her lovely feet be set
Shall spring the crocus and the violet,
And lilies white as ivory new-sawn.

Where never daylight shone,
Before her face a tremulous gold ray
Shall turn to golden mist this twilight grey,
And roses blossom here in Acheron.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Sui Juris Churches XXIV: The Latin Church

(on sui juris churches in general)

Liturgical Family: Latin

Primary Liturgical Language: Latin

Juridical Status: Patriarchal

Approximate Population (to Nearest 100 Million): 1.2 billion

Brief History: The Latin Church is one of the largest religious institutions, if not the largest, in the history of the world. It is often noted that it is many times larger than all of the Eastern Catholic churches put together, but this is still somewhat misleading. If all Eastern churches of Apostolic provenance were put together -- if, in addition to the Eastern Catholic churches, all of the Eastern Orthodox, and all of the Oriental Orthodox, and all of the Assyrian Church of the East were to enter the Catholic Communion -- the Latin Church would still be more than three times larger than all of the Eastern churches put together. It is immense, truly and unquestionably global, and it has all the advantages, and all the disadvantages, of immensity.

The proper name for the church is the Latin Church. Colloquially it is often called the Roman Catholic Church or (much more rarely) the Western Catholic Church. But 'Western Catholic' has never caught on, and 'Roman Catholic' in all official documents of the Holy See itself always refers to the entire Catholic communion, never to the Latin Church alone. And 'Latin Church' fits: it is the Latin Church, no further clarification required.

The Christian community in Rome arose very, very early; the earliest mentions of it that we know of, in the New Testament itself, already indicate that it was reasonably well established. The Roman Empire was a realm in which movement was relatively easy, and obviously there was a lot of constant circulation into and out of Rome, the foremost city in the Empire. Thus Roman Christianity was beginning to be established even before the arrival of the Apostolic evangelists. The two that became most closely associated with Rome, of course, were St. Paul and St. Peter. The book of Acts, in fact, ends with Paul in Rome, and the book of I Peter 5:13 represents Peter as being in 'Babylon', which was often a codeword for Rome in the early Christian community.

Having such an early-rooted Christian community and being the heart of the beast, it was inevitable that it would be especially hard-hit in the occasional Imperial persecutions of Christianity arose. Early and widespread legends represents both St. Paul and St. Peter as having been martyred in Rome. This is quite significant for the role of Rome in the later history of the Church, because the association with so many holy martyrs, and especially with St. Peter and St. Paul, meant that Rome had an immense amount of pull that has never abated; other Christian communities have always naturally tended to be drawn into its influence, to the extent that there was active communication between Rome and these other communities. In the early days this was especially true of Western Europe and North Africa. That Rome is the last resting place of both Peter and Paul has also always been the overarching principle governing how the bishop of Rome has been seen in the Latin Church: as the Successor of St. Peter, keeper of the keys and foundational rock of the Church, and as carrying on the task of St. Paul in carrying the message of the gospel to the nations.

Rome was not the only great see to exert a significant 'gravitational attraction' on other sees. Alexandria and Antioch, and a little later Constantinople, also did so. But the Eastern Roman Empire was more crowded in the West, and thus the East saw an intense tug-of-war of influence between the major Eastern sees, with other sees in a constant shift from being dominated by one to being dominated by another. And Rome was not directly involved in most of it; it was out of the way, and active routes of communication between West and East, while still existent, were becoming less reliable. The always important trade routes between Rome and Egypt, however, remained relatively good. Thus began to coalesce the Rome-Alexandria alliance, which was part of the reason for Alexandria's immense importance in the early patristic period. Most of Rome's knowledge of events in the East came through Alexandria, and Alexandria to at least a limited extent operated not only in its own right but also as Rome's agent in the East, giving it more than enough influence to counterbalance the other Sees. This alliance would reach its high point with St. Cyril of Alexandria's victory at the Council of Ephesus, but it had already started breaking apart by that point, as Rome had become increasingly wary of what it saw as Alexandria's over-reach. The alliance would be broken entirely in and after the Council of Chalcedon.

The result of the slow collapse of the Empire in the West and of the fading of regular communications between East and West would inevitably isolate the Latin Church from the Eastern sees, which were engaged in a constant struggle with each other, and also to expand the extent to which the See of Rome had to step in to serve the civilizational function that had once belonged to the once Imperial city. The See of Rome thus became entangled with the complicated politics that developed in the rise and fall of empires and kingdoms in the West, whether that of Charlemagne or Otto of Saxony. Contact with the East also was not always easy, because the West and the East had diverged in a number of customs, which led each to look with some suspicion on the orthodoxy of the other. In addition, the Eastern and Western sees were fighting very different theological battles; one of the things that would later become a major contention between East and West, the addition of the Filioque to the Creed, initially arose out of the struggle of Iberian sees with a mutant variety of Arianism that was not found in the East.

The occasion for the actual cracking of relations between Rome and the Eastern Orthodox sees, and thus the Latin Church and its Eastern counterparts, was when Rome stepped in to adjudicate a canonical dispute in the See of Constantinople in the late ninth century. The Patriarch, Ignatios, was deposed by the Emperor because of his extensive criticisms of Imperial politics, and the Emperor, Michael III, had a layman, Photios, ordained and put in his stead. The supporters of Ignatios appealed to Rome, and Pope Nicholas I agreed that Ignatios had been deposed uncanonically and recognized him as the rightful Patriarch. Photios would later respond by excommunicating the Pope. Michael III, however, was assassinated by Basil the Macedonian, who took the throne and wanted to strengthen ties with the West, so he banished Photios and reinstated Ignatios, and what Catholics call the Fourth Council of Constantinople in 869 condemned Photios. Basil had nothing personally against Photios, however, and eventually recalled him; Photios and Ignatios reconciled, and at the death of the latter, Photios became Patriarch. Photios then called another council, what many Eastern Orthodox call the Fourth Council of Constantinople, and a somewhat half-hearted attempt was made by both sides to heal a number of the disputes that had arisen over the previous decades and years. It did not succeed very well. Photios was recognized as the Patriarch, but we can see the cracks very clearly. It's notable that while both Catholic and Orthodox calendars recognize Ignatios as a saint, only Orthodox calendars recognize Photios and only Catholic calendars recognize Nicholas as saints.

But cracks are not breaks, and the tearing of the Orthodox Catholic Church was slow. Everybody knows the mutual excommunication of Cerularius and Humbert in 1054, but this seems more of a symptom of worsening conditions than a significant cause of anything. It seems to me that if you want to locate a definite break, it makes more sense to put it at some point between 1182, when Latin Christians in Constantinople were massacred, touching off a series of mutual retaliations, and the Sack of Constantinople in 1204, when the Fourth Crusade was basically highjacked by the Venetians (who had suffered the worst in the Latin Massacre) and used to conquer Constantinople itself. Pope Innocent III strongly condemned the action, but as it was a fait accompli, the question was what to do in its wake. One of the things that the clergy accompanying the Crusade did was appoint a Latin Patriarch of Constantinople. Such Latin Patriarchates were recognized by the Fourth Lateran Council. (Latin Patriarchates were eventually set up for all of the Eastern sees; the only one that currently still exists is the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.)

But the Crusades did not only see the tearing of relations between the Greeks and the Latins, with much bad blood; they also led to the establishing of permanent relations with the Maronites and temporary relations with the Armenians of Lesser Cilicia, and the interaction of Latin Christians with some of the other Christian groups around the Holy Land both enriched the doctrine and devotion of the Latin Church and would later set up possibilities of reunion that might not otherwise have existed.

The Latin Empire of Constantinople lasted only until 1261, at which point Michael VIII Palaiologos managed to recapture Constantinople. Now things were in a very bad state between the sees of Rome and Constantinople. But the Byzantine Empire was also collapsing. It had been slowly declining, off and on, for centuries by this time, but the Sack of Constantinople had thrown things completely off-kilter. The Byzantine Empire needed Western help more than ever before; and the religious divide between East and West was now worse than ever before. Thus began the Imperial policy of courting reunion with the West while not pressing for it too hard at home. The Second Council of Lyons was convoked in 1272, which served as a sort of council of nations: while it was an ecclesiastical council, there were representatives of the major political groups of the day, including ambassadors from the Byzantine Empire, the Ilkhanate, England, France, and parts of Spain, Germany, and Italy. Much of its business was concerned with secular Christendom: conquest of the Holy Land, protection of pilgrimage routes, the recognition of the Holy Roman Emperor, an official declaration of peace among Christian nations. In addition, the Latins and Greeks at the council came to an agreement about the major doctrinal issues separating them. It was ambitious. It failed. Emperor Michael did officially promulgate the reunion, but this purely official recognition only lasted for the few years he had left to live, and was in fact strongly resisted in the East.

The fourteenth century was a period of crisis for the Latin Church. In 1304, following the death of Pope Benedict XI, the College of Cardinals deadlocked between the Italians and the French. After nearly a year of negotiations, the College chose someone who was not one of the cardinals: Raymond Bertrand de Got, the Archbishop of Bourdeaux. He was French, but he had solid Italian ties, and not being a member of either of the two parties of cardinals, he was almost certainly seen as a compromise candidate. As compromise candidates sometimes are, he was a massive disaster. Ascending to the papal throne as Clement V, he refused to go to Rome -- even for his coronation -- and immediately showed himself to be an active partisan in favor of French power. In 1309, he moved the Papal Curia to Avignon, France, nominally for reasons of security. The Avignon Papacy, often referred to as the Babylonian Captivity, would last until it was ended by Gregory XI's return to Rome in 1377. The move to Avignon put the papacy squarely under French control; it also led to a massive expansion of power on the part of the papal curia, as the papacy itself began to imitate the intensive centralization and revenue-focused organization that had come to be associated with France, the first of the major nations to begin forging the modern nation-state. Most of the corruptions and abuses associated with the Renaissance papacy and that were specifically targeted by later Protestant reformers can be argued to have their root in the Avignon Papacy.

The return of Gregory XI to Rome was not, alas, a return to normality. When Gregory XI died shortly after the return, Urban VI was elected. He was an Italian, and probably only elected due to a failure of the French cardinals to unite behind a common candidate. Urban VI was a gung-ho reformer, a vehement critic of all of the faults of the papal curia, and like most such reformers turned out to be a domineering leader who demanded that everyone fall in line and that there be no dissent. Since cardinals always have the solidarity of a herd of cats, and like cats tend to resist going in any direction that they can't be fooled into thinking it was already their idea to go, this inevitably created an immense amount of resentment and dissent. The French Cardinals revolted, forming a list of grievances and declaring in council that his election was invalid and the see of Rome unoccupied; the sedevacantist cardinals elected another to be pope, Clement VII, who returned to Avignon. And thus the Western Schism began, splitting the Latin Church and sowing confusion everywhere. It would last until 1417, and by the end of it there would be three claimants for the papacy, at Avignon, Rome, and Pisa.

Faced with such a situation, an idea caught fire: if the papacy itself is in doubt, who could be higher than the Pope, if not a general council? Thus the battle between conciliarists and papalists began, and the conciliarists from the beginning had the upper hand. After all, what else could solve the problem except a general council? When they attempted to do so at Pisa, the result was just the Pisan line of popes; but, again, what else was there? And a big boost came to conciliarism when a general council did indeed solve the problem. One of the Pisan popes, John XXIII, called a council at Constance, and the Roman pope, Gregory XII, decided to recognize it as an authoritative council. The Council of Constance's (1414-1418) solution was to have all three claimants to the papacy resign -- they did not have to concede that their claim was illegitimate, they just had to agree to give it up for the good of the church -- and elect one pope from scratch, while confirming as cardinals all the cardinals that had been created by each of the claimants. Both the Pisan and the Roman popes accepted the agreement, and the Council (eventually -- it deliberately delayed to prevent a new pope from interfering with its work) elected Martin V as pope. The Avignon pope refused to resign -- but immediately began to lose influence even among previously strong supporters because of it. Constance did not just deal with the problem, however; it furthered a number of pet projects of conciliarists, designed to establish clearly the superiority of general councils over the pope.

One of the requirements imposed by Constance was that ecumenical councils should be held at regular intervals. The Council of Siena (originally Pavia) was initially called to be such, but faced a significant number of problems getting up and running properly. It did, however, establish that the next council should be at Basel; and Martin V did indeed summon a council to Basel in 1431, although he died before it actually opened. His successor, Eugenius IV, had his legate open the council, but as the council immediately began making demands on the papacy, he quickly issued a bull dissolving it, with another council to open at Bologna a year and a half later. The bishops at Basel refused, reiterating the claims of Constance, and demanded that the Pope appear in person to answer for his impudence. Eugene was facing a number of problems at the time, including an invasion of the Papal States, and so could not easily afford to be involved in a power struggle with the bishops. A compromise was worked out by pressure from the Holy Roman Emperor; Eugene withdrew his bull and, reserving the rights of the Holy See, recognized the council as ecumenical, but refused to include within that the anti-papal provisions that had previously been resolved. Shortly afterward, Eugene had to flee Rome and was exiled for some years in Florence. In 1438, Eugene, now in a slightly stronger position, attempted to dissolve the council at Basel again, moving it to Ferrara. Due to European politics (the council at Basel was widely thought to be very pro-French), the bishops of the council split, with some staying at Basel and claiming to be the real ecumenical council, and some accepting the change. Those who stayed at Basel issued a decree deposing Eugene as a heretic and electing an antipope.

And it's at this point that the Eastern sees enter the picture. None of the Eastern sees had any interest in furthering the doctrine of papal supremacy; but, ironically, they were one of the factors that tipped the power away from the conciliarists to the papalists. For the Eastern sees, reunion of East and West meant one thing: the reunion of the See of Rome with its Eastern counterparts. They had no particular interest in this whole issue with the Council of Basel; the leader of the Church in the West was, in their eyes, very obviously the bishop of Rome, and, not having had any part at all in the affairs of Basel, they had no reason to regard it as having any kind of ecumenical authority. Thus when negotiations between the East and the West at Ferrara, and continued at Florence, the entire weight of the Eastern churches was placed on the papalist side of the scale. Thus it was that the Florence was a victory for Rome. Yes, the unions with the major Eastern sees began to fall apart as soon as the delegates returned home. Yes, the unions with the Armenians and the Copts were entirely on paper and with delegates who had no authority to speak for their churches. But the pope had broken the seemingly unstoppable momentum of conciliarism.

Conciliarism did not die; and even after it was officially condemned at the Fifth Lateran Council, and struggles for variant forms of it, like Gallicanism, continued to plague the West for the next several hundred years. It was in the course of these struggles that a significant number of the unions with Eastern churches would come about, and a great deal of the Latin Church's interaction with the East, and many papal impositions on the Eastern churches who united with Rome, can be explained by this ongoing struggle of authority. The next several centuries would begin to see a massive expansion of the Latin Church, due to Portuguese discoveries of trade routes to east Asia and Spanish discoveries in the New World. It would also see the rise of the Protestant Reformation and the Catholic Counter-Reformation -- another authority-struggle contributing to Latin interaction with the East. This is all quite visible in the work of one of the popes who did the most work with establishing and consolidating the reunions of various Eastern churches with Rome, Benedict XIV; much of the time when he actively affirms specific rites distinctive to the East, one can see that these rites express principles that were inconsistent with common Protestant claims, and thus served as independent witnesses in that particular struggle.

(This would also be part of the latinizing of rites pressed on Eastern churches by Latin bishops. But this was not the only cause working, by any means. Not all latinization was imposed by Rome. Some of it was voluntary, as can be seen in the fact that Eastern churches not in communion with Rome also went through a process of latinization, in part because of the near-ubiquity of the Latin Church by this time, and in part because Latin customs were sometimes easier and often simpler.)

The slowly increasing significance of the Eastern churches in the life of the Latin Church, and the complications caused by its struggles over authority, can be seen in the case of the First Vatican Council. The Melkite Patriarch, Gregory II Youssef, was one of the major voices opposing the definition of papal infallibility, arguing that actual definition would interfere with relations with the Eastern Orthodox, and that the terms in which some of the Council fathers wanted to define it failed to take into account the good example of Florence in explicitly recognizing that traditional rights and privileges of all the patriarchal sees. After the Council, it was very important for Pius IX to get the explicit affirmation of all of the Eastern patriarchs; the Armenians, Melkites, and Chaldeans were particularly reluctant. When Patriarch Gregory signed, he did so explicitly with the qualification from Florence; and Patriarch Joseph IV Audo of the Chaldeans was the last Eastern patriarch to sign it, and did so only with great reluctance. But they all did, and it had become important for Rome that they do so. And the importance of the Eastern churches to the Latin Church have continued to expand; they were particularly cultivated by Leo XIII, with whom Rome's relations with Eastern churches began to loosen considerably, and this tendency was amplified by the Second Vatican Council.

Notable Monuments: The preeminent church of the Latin Church is the Papal Archbasilica of St. John in the Lateran, which is the cathedral of the diocese of Rome and thus the immediate church of the pope; there are, in addition, several other well known papal major archbasilicas in Rome: the most famous is St. Peter's in the Vatican, but there are also St. Paul's Outside the Walls and St. Mary Major.

Notable Saints: Agnes (January 21); Thomas Aquinas (January 28); Peter and Paul (June 29); Protomartyrs of Rome (June 30); Lawrence (August 10); Augustine (August 28); Gregory I (September 3); Leo I (November 10); Lucy (December 13).

Notable Religious Institutes: Benedictines; the Order of Friars Minor (Franciscans); the Order of Preachers (Dominicans); the Society of Jesus (Jesuits); among many others.

Extent of Official Jurisdiction: Barring a few small areas of the world, like Eritrea, that are entirely under the authority of Eastern Catholic bishops, global.

Online Sources and Resources: