Christianity in the High Middle Ages - Album

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Part 01- The Early Medieval Vision of Christian Order and Its Difficulties

The Papal-Carolingian alliance evoked arguments from Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite to speak of life as a hierarchically-organized Pilgrimage to God led by Emperor and Bishops. Dr. John Rao discusses the character and tensions of this early medieval vision of order.

Part 02- Ecclesiastical Disorder in the West

Popes, bishops, monks, and secular clergy all fell prey to simony and barbarism by the late 800's, to a large degree due to the failure of the attempt to restore the Empire through the Carolingians. Dr. John Rao talks here of the tragic--though temporary--collapse of the dream of Christianizing and Romanizing the Germans.  

Part 03- Rebuilding Order in the West

Dr. John Rao discusses the recognition of the need to rebuild political, religious, and social order out of the feudal chaos of the late 800's and 900's. This rebuilding would require taming the Vikings, Saracens, and Magyars; calming the wild soldiery inside Christendom; restoring order in Germany, France, and Italy; and reforming the Church. 

Part 04- The Various Approaches Towards Rebuilding Medieval Order

Differing visions of how to reorder the "pilgrimage to God" competed in the 900's and 1000's. Dr. John Rao discusses three of these: one that saw the problem as that of rebuilding the Empire through the German and French Kings; another involving bishops who roused their dioceses to war versus unruly counts and castlekeepers; and a third, most symbolized by the monks of Cluny, which said that what needed to be done was to transform everyone spiritually in Christ. 

Part 05- The Gregorian Reform

 The monks of Cluny and others like them saw two groups that had to be "transformed" before all others: the soldiers and the clergy. In order to do this work properly, they needed a reformed Papacy on their side. Dr. John Rao shows how the Papacy, by the time of Pope Gregory VII, had been so transformed that it actually took charge of the whole movement of sanctifying society at large. 

Part 06- Complications for Reform - Barbarians, Islam, and the Christian East

Dr. John Rao outlines the Gregorian Reform and the many obstacles in its path. Continued Germanic and other barbarian customs still stood in the way of Christianization and Romanization. The Moslems were again on the advance through the work of the Seljuk Turks. Moreover, Eastern Christianity still found it hard to accept the idea of Papal Supremacy.

Part 07- The Pilgrimage to God and the Crusades

The ravages of feudal soldiers in the West made the task of Christianizing and Romanizing the military a primary one. This was tackled by offering them the defensive role of guarding pilgrims to Compostella in Spain and teaching them how they could "take up their Cross" and "Crusade" for the protection of Christians against Moslems. Dr. John Rao describes the idealism and practical difficulties of the venture.  

Part 08- The Pilgrimage to God and Spiritual Renewal

A population that needed to go on pilgrimage to God had to have a dedicated and purified clergy guiding it. Dr. John Rao speaks of how this involved a fight for celibacy and against simony and the all too frequent barbarization of the behavior of popes, bishops, and priests. 

 Part 09- The Pilgrimage to God and the Intellect

Christianization and Romanization required a deeper learning in the High Middle Ages. Dr. John Rao shows that this involved studies in theology, philosophy, and law in the period from 1000-1300 and the development, under Church care, of the first universities.    

Part 10 - Political and Social Obstacles to Reform

Political squabbles pitting popes against emperors, kings, princes and their supporters in the episcopacy troubled the Gregorian reform program. So did the economic ambitions of the growing cities and bourgeoisie in Europe. Dr. John Rao outlines the complexity and interaction of these troubling elements. 

Part 11 - The Heretical Attack on the Meaning of the Incarnation

Dr. John Rao speaks of the way in which the Gregorian pilgrimage to God involved a deeper understanding of how the Incarnation required the transformation of all things in Christ. It is understandable that heresies which detested the idea of the Incarnation and its meaning for the world would resist. Manichean beliefs in the evil of Creation reared their head by the 1100's and 1200's. 

These talks are taken from: Christianity in the High Middle Ages - 1995 VonHildebrand Institute

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