The Catholic Church Through the Ages

In 15 Audio on 2015/08/28 at 12:00 AM

Host – Fr. Charles Connor

Fr. Charles P. Connor, Ph.D., offers an historical overview of the significant events and personages contained within the first 15 centuries of the Catholic Church’s existence. Events include the Church’s founding by Christ in the first century through the Reformation and Counter Reformation in the 16th century.

The Catholic Church through the Ages

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The World in Which the Church Was Born 

Host – Fr. Charles Connor


Fr. Connor discusses the influence of the Roman Empire on the civilization of first century Europe and the Mediterranean Basin at the time of Christ and Early Church.


The Spread of Christianity 

Host – Fr. Charles Connor


Fr. Connor discusses the spread of Christianity from the Holy Land to Rome, Greece and parts of Asia Minor largely due to the missionary journeys of St. Paul. Rome becomes the center of the Christian religion not because it was the center of the Roman Empire, but because Ss. Peter and Paul died there.


The Church in Rome and Beyond 

Host – Fr. Charles Connor


Fr. Connor discusses the teaching and Christian witness of the lives of the Fathers of the Church, Ss. Justin Martyr and Ignatius of Antioch. The role of the Roman Catacombs in the life of the Early Church is explored.


The Growth of Apostolic Authority, Part One 

Host – Fr. Charles Connor


Fr. Connor discusses the selection of the 12 Apostles by Our Lord and informs as to the contributions of the Fathers of the Church, Ss. Clement of Rome, Cyprian of Carthage, and Irenaeus of Lyons. The role of Deacons in the life and ministry of the Church is explored.


The Growth of Apostolic Authority, Part Two 

Host – Fr. Charles Connor


Fr. Connor discusses the role of Synods or gatherings of bishops in Jerusalem, Alexandria and Antioch. He examines the place given to significant churches, such as St. Peter’s, and the Cathedral of Rome, St. John Lateran. The contributions of Emperor Constantine are noted as well as his capital of Constantinople. Finally, the works of Ss. Leo the Great, Cyprian, Irenaeus and Gregory the Great are mentioned.


Heresies and Councils 

Host – Fr. Charles Connor


Fr. Connor discusses the contributions of the Fathers of the Church, Ss. Athanasius, Jerome, Ambrose, Augustine, and Cyril of Alexandria. The theological terms homoousious, hypostatic union and Theotokos explain the relation of the divine and human natures of Christ, as well as the related doctrine of Mary as truly the Mother of God.


Augustine and Monasticism 

Host – Fr. Charles Connor


Fr. Connor discusses the influence of the monastic life on the spirituality of the Church in general, led by Ss. Augustine, Anthony of Egypt, Basil, Martin of Tours, Benedict and Columba.


Introduction to the Middle Ages and English Monasticism 

Host – Fr. Charles Connor


Fr. Connor discusses the life of the Church in the Middle Ages, with particular attention given to the influences of Frankish ruler Charles Martel and King Oswald of Northumbria, as well as the contributions of Ss. Gregory the Great, Augustine of Canterbury, Ethelbert, Bede, Cuthbert, Aidan, Columba and Hilda of Whitby.


The Political Middle Ages, East-West Split, Gregorian Reforms 

Host – Fr. Charles Connor


Beginning with the capture of Rome by Visigoth King Alaric I in 410 AD, Fr. Connor discusses the significant events during the reign of Clovis I, King of the Franks (481–511) who unified Gaul as a single kingdom and established his capital at Paris. His name, Gallicized as “Louis,” was given to 18 later French monarchs. In 910, the monastery of Cluny was founded and began to initiate reforms. In 1054, Pope Leo IX and Eastern Patriarch Michael Cerularius excommunicated each other, and Roman Catholicism and the Orthodox Church have been formally divided since. In modern times, Pope Paul VI and John Paul II have reached out to the Orthodox, bringing about closer ties.


The Later Middle Ages 

Host – Fr. Charles Connor


Fr. Connor discusses the Crusades as eight expeditions undertaken, in fulfillment of a solemn vow, to deliver the Holy Places from Islamic control: the first, 1095-1101; the second, headed by Louis VII, 1145-47; the third, conducted by Philip Augustus and Richard Coeur-de-Lion, 1188-92; the fourth, during which Constantinople was taken, 1204; the fifth, which included the conquest of Damietta, 1217; the sixth, in which Frederick II took part (1228-29); also Thibaud de Champagne and Richard of Cornwall (1239); the seventh, led by St. Louis, 1249-52; the eighth, also under St. Louis, 1270. Next Connor describes the significant monastic influence, teaching and preaching of Ss. Norbert, Bruno, Bernard of Clairvaux, Francis of Assisi, Dominic Guzman, and Albert the Great.


The Thirteenth Century Continues 

Host – Fr. Charles Connor


Fr. Connor discusses the theological influence of St. Thomas Aquinas, as well as the spirituality of Juliana of Norwich. The Avignon Papacy, 1309-1378 was the period during which the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, lived in Avignon, now a part of France. The removal of the Papacy to Avignon was justified at the time as owing to the factious tumults at Rome, where the dissensions of the Roman aristocrats and their armed gangs reached a nadir, and the Basilica of St. John Lateran was destroyed in a fire. The ‘Babylonian captivity’, in Petrarch’s phrase, marks the point from which the decay of the strictly Catholic conception of the Pope as universal bishop is to be dated, because the Avignon popes seemed largely concerned with France only. Seven popes, all French, resided in Avignon during this period: Pope Clement V, John XXII, Benedict XII,Clement VI, Innocent VI, Urban V and Gregory XI. In 1378, with the encouragement of St. Catherine of Siena, Gregory XI moved the papal residence back to Rome and died there.


The Renaissance 

Host – Fr. Charles Connor


Fr. Connor discusses the period of the Renaissance, occurring within in the 15th and 16th centuries. The “rebirth” of art in Italy was connected with the rediscovery of ancient philosophy, literature, and science and the evolution of empirical methods of study in these fields. Increased awareness of classical knowledge created a new resolve to learn by direct observation and study of the natural world. Consequently, secular themes became increasingly important to artists, and with the revived interest in antiquity came a new repertoire of subjects drawn from Greek and Roman history and mythology. The models provided by ancient buildings and works of art also inspired the development of new artistic techniques and the desire to re-create the forms and styles of classical art. Of special interest are the Vatican Library, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica


The Reformation 

Host – Fr. Charles Connor


Fr. Connor discusses the Reformation, the usual term for the religious movement which made its appearance in Western Europe in the sixteenth century, and which, while ostensibly aiming at an internal renewal of the Church, really led to a great revolt against it, and an abandonment of the principal Christian beliefs. The Reformation was inaugurated in Germany when Luther affixed his celebrated theses to the doors of the church at Wittenberg, 31 October, 1517.


The English Reformation 

Host – Fr. Charles Connor



Following the Counter-Reformation 

Host – Fr. Charles Connor


In the period following the Counter-Reformation, Fr. Connor studies the documents of the Council of Trent, as well as the heroic example of the lives of the saints: Ignatius, Francis Xavier, Philip Neri, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Francis de sales, Jane de Chantal, Therese of Lisieux, Vincent de Paul, and Blaise Pascal.


The Internal Life of the 17th Century Church 

Host – Fr. Charles Connor


Here Fr. Connor describes the Sacred Heart devotion, including the 12 promises given by Jesus in a vision to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. Contributions to this devotion are also noted by her spiritual director Claude de la Colombiere and a connection is made to the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, as mentioned by Pope John Paul II.


17th Century Catholic Spirituality 

Host – Fr. Charles Connor


Fr Connor contrasts the life and thought of Voltaire, with that of John Carroll, Benedict Joseph Labre, Paul of the Cross, and Alphonsus Liguori, whose order promoted the devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help.


Church and State in Europe: 17th-18th Century 

Host – Fr. Charles Connor


Fr. Connor discusses the lives of King James I, Charles I, Oliver Cromwell, Charles II, James II, William of Orange, William and Mary, Louis XIV, Napoleon, Louis XVI and Pope Pius VII.


The Napoleonic Era 

Host – Fr. Charles Connor


Fr. Connor discusses the lives of Napoleon, Pius VII and Fr. Felicite de Lamennais, and also notes for Europe the consequences of the Congress of Vienna.


The Church in the 1830s 

Host – Fr. Charles Connor


Here Fr Connor contrasts the life works of John Vianney, King Ludwig I of Bavaria, Anne Catherine Emmerich, Catherine Laboure, King George IV, Daniel O’Connell, Cardinal Newman, Cardinal Manning, and Fr. Faber.


The Era of Political Revolution 

Host – Fr. Charles Connor


Fr Connor describes the historical actions of William I of Belgium, Felicite de Lamennais, Lacordaire, Gregory XIV, Mazzini, Rossi, Cardinal Antonelli, Napoleon and Victor Emmanuel.


The First Vatican Council 

Host – Fr. Charles Connor


Fr Connor discusses the historical contributions of Felicite De Lamennais, Veuillot, Mantalembert, and Pius IX.


The Church in the Late 19th Century 

Host – Fr. Charles Connor


Fr. Connor discusses the historical figures of Bismarck, Leo XIII, Leon Gambetta, Gueranger, Bernadette Soubirous, Dr. Alexis Carrel, Franz Werfel, and Margaret Mary Alacoque.


The Church Faces Industrialization 

Host – Fr. Charles Connor


Fr Connor describes the historical phenomena of industrialization, World War I, the October Revolution and World War II, as well as distinguishing between the personalities of Hegel, Pius XI, Hitler, Pius XII, Leo XIII and Cardinal Gibbons.


The Church Enters the 20th Century 

Host – Fr. Charles Connor


Fr. Connor relates the contributions of Gueranger, Marmion, Romano Guardini, Pius X, Pius XII, Emperor Franz Joseph, Thomas Aquinas, Leo XIII, Cardinal Mercier, as well as the philosphical thought of Descartes, Kant, and John Locke.


The Second Vatican Council and its Aftermath 

Host – Fr. Charles Connor


Fr. Connor discusses the contributions of John XXIII, as well as that of the Vatican II documents, Lumen Gentium, Dei Verbum, Orientalium Ecclesiarum, Sacrosanctum Concilium, Gravissimum Educationis, Unitatis Redintegratio, Gaudium et Spes, Ad Gentes, and Inter Mirifica.


The Legacy of John Paul II 

Host – Fr. Charles Connor


Fr. Connor discusses the personalities of Karl Barth and Pope John Paul II, as well as the influence attributed to the documents, Gaudium et Spes, Redemptor Hominis, Tertio Millennio Adveniente, Evangelium Vitae, Veritatis Splendor, Dominus Iesus, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, and Presbyterorum Ordinis.

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