FOUNDED UPON A ROCK: PART VI: INTERNAL REFOM AND MISSIONS ABROAD
THE CATHOLIC REFORMATION, THE AGE OF EXPLORATION AND THE DEFENSE OF CHRISTIAN EUROPE
I. In response both to internal calls for reform and the challenge of the Protestant groups, the Catholic Church launched an internal reform.
A. Even before Martin Luther, there were efforts at reform.
1. In 1511, Pope Julius II called what became the Fifth Lateran Council. There was an attempt at reforming practices with reference to church discipline. However, due to fights between the nationalities, the Council could accomplish little except express a desire for the freedom of the Church and defense of Christian Europe.
2. The likes of Desiderius Erasmus, St. Thomas More, and the Girolomo Savonarolla, the prior of the Dominican monastery of San Marco in Florence were calling for a simpler, more devout, and more education church, both in the clergy and the laity.
B. In the sixteenth century, new religious orders arose, and older ones experienced revivals.
1. St. Ignatius of Loyola established the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) to be soldiers for the Pope, who would both uphold the faith in historic lands and bring the faith to new ones.
a. St. Ignatius was from a family of warriors and trained from a young age for military service. He was injured after a heroic performance defending a castle at Pamplona in 1521 for the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. While recovering at a religious hospital, he read The Life of Christ and The Lives of the Saints. With those texts and much prayer, he experienced a profound conversion that led him to desire to be a knight of Christ. He realized that the saints showed all of the courage, dedication, loyalty, and generosity of knights. The difference is that they served, not an earthly king, but instead the King of Glory.
b. After a time of discernment, he began studies for the priesthood in 1524. After 13 years of studies at Barcelona, Alcala and Paris, he was ordained a priest. Meanwhile, he had gathered a group of brothers who eventually went to the reformist Pope Paul III and asked for his approval for them to become a religious order. After working for the poor of Rome for a time, this order, the Society of Jesus (commonly known as the Jesuits), eventually went out to catechize and convert Europeans in the ways of the faith. Soon the order would become central to the Church’s missionary activities in the Far East and the New World.
c. The Jesuits were formed along a military style, with a strong notion of obedience to the superiors, discerning the will of God, and a willingness to fight for the faith wherever needed. They did not focus on prayers in choir as much as on training of the intellect, emotions and even imagination to be able to perform all actions guided by God.
2. St. Cajetan of Teitine, Cardinal Pietro Carafa (the future Pope Paul IV), and three other religious brothers formed the Cleric Regular of Divine Providence (the Theitine Order) in 1524.
a. As with many other reform efforts, there was a desire to live religious life with more of the poverty, simplicity, prayer and community life of the early Church. They would typically live in oratories and minister in local parishes and hospitals. There was thus a combination of the community life of religious brothers with parish like ministry.
b. The Theatines also strongly promoted a more devout life and deeper learning among the laity.
c. The order achieved a deep respect and members began to have prominent positions in France, Spain and Germany.
3. St. Angela Merici (1474 – 1540) founded the Order of St. Ursula (the Ursulines), which combined women’s religious life with service in the community.
a. Up to this point, women religious were typically cloistered, unless they were, like St. Catherine of Siena, Third Order members and thus living in the world.
b. St. Angela was a Third Order Franciscan, but wished to establish a religious house that would also be involved in the education of girls and assistance and moral reform for the poor. And so, in 1535, she and 28 other women formed the order in Brescia, Italy. In 1546 Pope Paul III approved of the order, and it spread rapidly, although the sisters began to be more enclosed in the convents in the 16th century.
4. With the help of St. Francis de Sales, St. Jane de Chantal, founded the Visitation Order in 1610.
a. She was a widow whose husband had been killed in a hunting accident. After his death, she he grew steadily in prayer and took St. Francis de Sales as her spiritual director.
b. She based the new order upon the model of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth. Inspired by this example, the order focused on humility, piety and charity. This order was among the first attempts to combine cloistered life with a vocation in the world, in particular in teaching.
5. St. Theresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross led a reform of the Carmelite Order in the sixteenth century.
a. The order had been founded at Mount Carmel in the Holy Land in the twelfth century. Part of its inspiration was to bring the prophetic spirit into the current world. The order migrated to Europe as the Ottoman Empire retook the Holy Land. With the help of mystics such as St. Simon Stock, the order spread throughout Western Europe in the thirteenth century.
b. By the sixteenth century, the order had become fairly well off, and many houses were places for the children of aristocracy.
c. St. John of the Cross was ordained at the age of 25 and offered a position as a university professor. But he felt called to a contemplative life and so joined the Carmelites. Along with St. Theresa of Avila, he tried to promote a more strict observance of the Carmelite rule. For a while, he enjoyed the support of the papal nuncio (ambassador) of Spain. But when the nuncio died, some of his opponents within the order condemned him for alleged insubordination and imprisoned him for two years. In 1580 he escaped and received the support of Pope Gregory XIII as he became abbot of one of the more prominent monasteries. But he continued to face opposition for the remaining 11 years of his life. His most famous works are The Dark Night of the Soul, The Living Flame of Love, The Ascent of Mount Carmel, and The Spiritual Canticle of the Soul.
d. St. Theresa of Avila entered religious life at age 20. As a Carmelite nun, she was very sociable and popular, but not particularly prayerful. She was allowed a relaxation of the rule to see guests because she was well liked and enhanced convent’ s reputation and fundraising ability. But at age of 39, she realized the mediocrity of her spiritual life and started living her calling more deeply. The result was that she received more criticism because she stove for perfection but had not attained it. She eventually formed a new convent that was more strict in its observance and promoted reform throughout the order. There was great opposition, but her efforts, along with those of St. John of the Cross, led to a renewal of the Carmelite life, first in Spain and then throughout the world. Her most famous works are The Way of Perfection, The Interior Castle, and The Story of Her Soul.
6. Within the Franciscan Order, there was also a revival effort, with the establishment of the Capuchins and the later reform efforts of St. Lawrence of Brindisi.
a. Matteo da Brascio was an Italian Franciscan of the early sixteenth century, who tried to promote a stricter way of life, in imitation of the early Franciscans In 1528, Pope Clement VII gave him permission to form a more hermetical province of the Conventual Franciscans. In 1538, Maria Longo, the prioress of a Franciscan convent in Naples, likewise asked Pope Clement for permission to form the women’s side of the order. The new brand of the order spread rapidly over the next century. Despite several early defections, and became its own branch of Franciscans by 1619 and became known as the Capuchins.
b. St. Lawrence of Brindisi (1559-1619) joined the Capuchin order at the age of 16. Ordained a priest at the age of 23, he rapidly gained fame as a preacher throughout Italy. He then became a provincial by the age of 30 and Vicar General of the Capuchins by the age of 43. In both Italy and Germany he worked extensively to bring about a stricter observance of the Franciscan rule and a moral reform in the life of the faithful in general.
C. Pope Paul III (1534-49) launched the Council of Trent, which would both clarify Catholic doctrine and institute reform from within.
1. Alexander Farnese had led a rather lax life and a layman and then a priest until he was selected the Bishop of Parma. He then underwent a dramatic conversion, and started promoting moral reform in his diocese. This reformist instinct then led to his election as Pope Paul III in 1534.
2. By 1537, he asked leading cardinals, including the English exile Reginald Pole and the future Pope Giovanni Carafa to give him a report on the needed reforms in the church. They recommended a universal council, an idea that the Catholic monarchs did not give much support to.
3. But by 1545, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V was more supportive and the Council began in Trent in Northern Italy. Due to wars between the Catholic monarchs and other disputes, the Council was interrupted twice, but never lost support. And so there were three general groups of meetings: from 1545 – 47, from 1551-52, and from 1562-63. The result was decrees and canons on the sacraments, on Scripture and Church teachings, on justification, on liturgy and on Church discipline.
4. With reference to the sacraments and indulgences, the Council clarified the teachings on the seven sacraments, and tried to rein in some abuses, such as the belief that the sacrament of Reconciliation could be effective without contrition, the sale of indulgences, and excesses with regard to Mass stipends.
5. The Council defined clearly that the 73 books that had historically been accepted as the Bible were in fact all part of the Bible, and that there are no more inspired books. This teaching was required in response to the Protestant rejection of seven books from the Old Testament. The Council also declared that the venerable Vulgate was reliable as a translation. And it reemphasized the divine inspiration of Scriptures and the need for Church Tradition and the Magisterium.
6. Regarding justification, the Council clarified the need for divine grace as primary, but also emphasized the need for active cooperation.
7. With regard to liturgy, the Council made the Roman rite the standard for diocesan parishes. Religious orders could still use their own rites. The Council also curbed excesses in such things as art and music that had become in many places more of a distraction to prayer and reverence than a help.
8. With regard to Church discipline, the Council instituted such reforms as mandating seminaries for the training of priests, requiring bishops and pastors to have only one diocese or parish, and to live in that place, and iinsisting on the conduct of a holy life by cleric.
9. There was also an attempt to invite Protestant theologians to discuss the divisions in Christianity and hopefully overcome them. That effort was unsuccessful, but the Council did respond to many of the Protestant objections.
D. As the Council was implemented, the situation within the Church improved dramatically.
1. Gradually seminaries were training priests better than anyone had before. St. Charles Borromeo (1538-84), whose uncle Pius III named him a cardinal at the age of 21, became the archbishop of Milan by the age of 26 and also served as a papal diplomat. After attending the final sessions of the Council of Trent, he established the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine for the teaching of the laity and the first seminaries in his diocese, and well as more organized efforts to conduct charitable services.
2. Pope St. Pius V (1566-72) implemented the reforms of the Council of Trent, and spearheaded the effort to summarize the teachings of the Church in what would become known as the Roman Catechism, or the Catechism of Trent.
3. In the German speaking lands, the Jesuit St. Peter Canisius (1521-97) was also known for his ability to explain the faith. His German Catechism became the standard for national catechisms.
4. St. Robert Bellarmine (1542 – 1621) was another Jesuit from a pious family of the lower nobility in central Italy. His defense of the faith, most famously summarized in The Controversies, was so successful in bringing people around to the Catholic faith that the mere possession of the book was labelled a crime in Elizabethian England.
5. St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622) strongly promoted a life of devotion among the laity and brought about many conversions.
a. The eldest of 13 children of a noble family in Savoy, France, he was a brilliant student and went to study law at University of Padua. But, under the influence of his Jesuit spiritual director, he was gradually drawn more to theology and living a consecrated life. He gradually overcame the opposition of his family, who did not want him to give up his worldly prospects, and was ordained a priest at the age of 26.
b. At about that time, Duke Charles Emmanuel of Savoy recaptured Chablais, one of its states that had been controlled by Protestants who forbade Catholicism. To restart the Church there, he asked for some priests to help with catechesis and preaching; and one of whom was Francis de Sales. To persuade people to return to the faith, Francis started printing leaflets that described the faith. This writing, the holiness of his life and his ability to explain the faith in preaching and debates won over more than 72,000 in four years.
c. In 1602, after many consultations with the Duke, he became Bishop of Geneva. As such, he worked very personally on training of seminarians, catechetics, visitations of all of the parishes, and formations of religious societies.
d. His classic book Introduction to the Devout Life soon became a central text in living out a holy life in the midst of the world.
II. Meanwhile, the Age of Exploration was opening up new lands for missionary activities, although the missionaries often had to fight colonial lords to promote the faith.
A. The Age of Exploration actually began with Portugal as Prince Henry the Navigator (d. 1460) launched expeditions to find a way around Africa to the Far East.
1. The trade routes by land had become more expensive and dangerous, and so a sea route was a very exciting prospect.
2. In 1487-88, the Portuguese explorer Bartolomeo Diaz sailed around the Cape of Good Hope at the southern edge of Africa and thus paved the way for a route by sea to India and the Far East. Within a few years, trade with India and then China began by these sea routes.
3. It took awhile for missionaries to make the journey. However, the Jesuit St. Francis Xavier travelled to India by 1542 and Japan by 1549, establishing Christian missions in southern India and Japan. He attempted to plant the faith in China, but the government there was more hostile to foreign influences. By the late 1500s, the Japanese government had also turned against Christianity and all influences it considered to be foreign.
4. In Vietnam, the Jesuit priest Alexandre De Rhodes (1591 – 1660) had some success in bringing the faith to the people. And even in China, despite the government’s opposition the Jesuit Matteo Ricci helped promote the faith, especially by arguing that their beliefs in ancestor worship could be amended to become the Catholic belief in the Communion of the Saints. However, the attempt to adapt local customs did come under suspicion by many authorities in Rome.
5. In 1512, Portuguese traders made contact with what is now called Indonesia. They established extensive trading centers, which would later be taken over by the Netherlands and come under the auspices of the Dutch East India Company. The wars over trade, both with the local peoples (largely Muslim) and with the Dutch prevented a large amount of missionary work, especially after the Portuguese influenced declined in the seventeenth century.
B. When the Spanish King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella had succeeded in gaining full control over Spain in 1492, they then funded Christopher Columbus’ voyage west to discover a trading route in that direction.
1. All educated people of the day knew the earth was round. The problem was that, with the earth being an estimated 26,000 miles, it was thought (accurately) that no ship of the day could make the voyage from Europe west to Japan and China. Columbus (1450-1504) used different measurements and thought he could make the journey.
2. His first voyage came across San Salvador in what is now the Bahamas. To his death, he firmly believed that he had discovered an island off of Asia. However, it soon became apparent to most people that he had discovered an entirely new land.
3. In 1493, Pope Alexander VI partitioned off what lands would be available to the Spanish, and what lands to the Portuguese. That agreement, with some modifications, held. And so most of what is now called Latin America and the Philippines was available to the Spanish and Brazil, Africa, India and most of Asia to the Portuguese, at least to the degree that they could control it.
4. In 1519 – 1521, the Spanish under Cortez had conquered Mexico (with a great deal of help from local tribes opposed to the then ruling Aztecs.) In 1531-36, Pizarro conquered the lands of the Incas in South America. The result of these and similar conquests was that all of what is now Latin America, except Brazil, was open to the Spanish.
C. The exploration opened up vast new lands for the Christian faith, leading to the Church making up in the new world the losses she had suffered in the old
1. Our Lady appeared to St. Juan Diego at Guadalupe in 1531 and instructed him to call for the local bishop of Mexico to build a Marian shrine there. To overcome the bishop’s skepticism, she created for St. Juan Diego on his tilma (cloak) a spectacular image of her that is preserved to this day. From that time, conversions to Christianity began rapidly expanding.
2. Many of the colonial lords wished to run the colonies for profit, and largely suppressed the local natives. The missionaries wanted to bring the Gospel to the local areas, with more respect for the local customs that were not contrary to the faith.
- Thus, for example, the Dominican Bartolomeo Las Casas (1474-1566) argued that the local natives were as rational as the Europeans, and that the Spanish should see the new lands as an opportunity to bring the Gospel there as the missionaries had done for Europe 1000 years earlier. The king of Spain Charles V did enact some reforms such as getting rid of the encomieda, a place to place native in isolated locations, but did not abolish slavery.
3. Franciscan missionaries began to enter what is now the United States about 1600, establishing the central mission of the Holy Faith (Santa Fe) in 1609. By 1700, missions were growing rapidly in what is now New Mexico and Texas with the missions of St. Anthony (San Antonio), including the Alamo established in the early eighteenth century. Blessed (soon to be Saint) Junipero Serraa (1713-1784) spearheaded the establishment of Franciscan missions in California. These missions would late close, but the areas that they developed would become such places as Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Bernadino, San Diego, and Santa Rosa.
4. Ferdinand Magellan began his famous journey that would go around the world in 1519. By 1521, he reached the Philippines, where he brought Christian missions. Later Miguel Lopez de Legazpi came from New Spain (Mexico) and established a more permanent settlement in 1565. From there, the faith would spread rapidly through those islands, although there was also a great deal of Muslim and nativist influence.
5. The Spanish were very willing to intermarry with the local natives in their colonies. That willingness allowed a new group of people to arise, which would be heavily Catholic.
D. The French also sent missionaries to the New World, although there influence was less due to the fact that fewer French colonists came to the New World.
1. The French Empire gained control of what is now Canada and much of the eastern Midwest of the United States. The interest was more in trade with the natives than in large scale settlements. However, French missionaries, and particularly the Jesuits, brought the faith to the Indian population.
2. Under Jacques Cartier, the French colonization began in the New World in 1541. However, the wars with Spain prevented many settlements from being established until about 1600.
3. About the year 1600, French Jesuits established missions in Nova Scotia, but the British destroyed the effort. In 1608, Samuel de Champlain established the first permanent French colony in Quebec.
4. By 1615, Franciscan friars were establishing missions among the Indian people in Quebec. But it was the Jesuits, with their more flexible style, who would spearhead the missionary work.
5. A Jesuit priest Jacques Marquette (1636-75) began establishing missions around the Great Lakes in 1668. He travelled with the great French explorer Louis Jolliet down the Mississippi River in 1673; and upon his return, Fr. Marquette continued brining missions into what is now called Illinois.
6. Jesuits also brought missions to what is now called Ontario and upstate New York. Led by St. John de Brebeuf, Jesuits came to the area in 1625 and were initially rather successful. There was a setback in 1629 as the English gained control of the region. But, the Jesuits came back in 1632 with more assistants, including the priest St. Isaac Jogues. However, in 1639, diseases and warfare again began devastating the local Huron tribes, and they started turning against the Jesuits. Between 1642 and 1648, most of the Jesuits were martyred for the faith. However, their great courage impressed many natives and set the stage for future conversions.
E. In the British colonies, there were few Catholics, except in Maryland and Pennsylvania.
1. In 1624, a prominent Englishman named George Calvert became Catholic and resigned his post in government, as well as his seat in Parliament. However, King James I favored him and granted him a new colony named Maryland after the future Charles I’s wife Maria Henrietta.
2. His son Cecil, now called Lord Baltimore, brought Catholic colonists to Maryland with the two ships named the Ark and the Dove. He established a colony that would respect religious liberty.
3. When Oliver Cromwell took power in England in 1642, the Catholics were briefly forced into Virginia. But Lord Baltimore fought his way back into Maryland and a fight for control began. The struggle ended when Oliver Cromwell died in 1658 and Catholics again achieved freedom in Maryland.
4. Unfortunately, in the wake of the so-called Glorious Revolution of 1688, the situation changed in Maryland, and Catholics were again under legal disabilities.
5. In 1681, King Charles II granted William Penn, a charter for the land that would become known as Pennsylvania in part to pay off a debt. William Penn was a Quaker, which was a tradition that descended from the Baptists. Being under civil disabilities in England, the Quakers believed very strongly in religious liberties. And so William Penn established religious liberty in Pennsylvania. As a result, it became the best homeland in the British colonies for Catholics.
III. Meanwhile, the Catholic nations of Europe had to fight off continual attacks from the Ottoman Empire.
A. When Constantinople fell in 1453, the way was open to further conquests into Europe. The Muslims had already sent forces east to India and what is now called Indonesia, establishing local Muslim kingdoms.
B. The Ottoman Empire gradually conquered Serbia between 1371 and 1521.
- The city of Belgrade did survive an attack in 1456, due largely to the leadership of St. John of Capistrano and the general John Hunyadi. That victory helped stave off a further invasion of Europe for the time. But Serbia could not hold out and Belgrade fell in 1521. The Austrian Empire would reconquer it again in 1717.
B. In 1463, the Ottoman Empire conquered most of Bosnia, a conquest that was finalized in 1482. It then invaded Croatia, beginning a war that lasted over 100 years before the Croatians expelled then in 1592.
C. The Ottoman Empire had first attached the Hungarian Empire in the mid-fourteenth century. By 1526, the Hungarian Empire largely collapsed and the Ottoman Empire gained vast holdings in what had been its territory. They would keep that land until 1721.
D. The Ottoman Empire then struck into the heart of the Holy Roman Empire, besieging Vienna itself in 1529. With the Emperor Charles V finally sending sufficient reinforcements, that siege failed and the Empire was safe for the time being.
E. There were a series of wars between the Ottoman Empire and the powerful Republic of Venice over the course of 1463 and 1538, when that Empire established dominance over the eastern Mediterranean Sea.
G. In the Mediterranean Sea, the Ottoman Empire seized the central island of Rhodes in 1522, forcing the Knights of Rhodes to Malta. In 1570, it laid siege to Cyprus just off the Italian Coast. The defending forces finally capitulated with promises of leniency. However, the prisoners were brutalized, with their captain Bragadino scourged to death.
H. The threat to Cyprus and from there to Italy and western Europe led Pope St. Pius V to forge an alliance called The Holy League, which joined the forces of Spain, Venice, Genoa, Austria, and the Papal States.
1. The joint navy was placed under the command of Don Juan of Austria, the half- brother of Philip II of Spain.
2. Seeing the great navies of the Christian Mediterranean countries joined together, the Muslim navy also joined together to meet them for an epic battle.
3. They met on October 7, 1571 at a port called Lepanto in the Aegean penninsula. The Muslim navy was slightly larger (251 ships and about 31,000 armed forces versus 212 ships and about 28.500 armed forces.) But the Christian navy had mastered much better the use of gunpowder at sea.
4. With the use of gunpowder, the dramatic escape of many Christian slaves in the Muslim fleet, and weather suddenly changing in their favor, the Christian navy won a decisive victory, destroying about three quarters of the Muslim ships and officers in the battle.
5. By the time the Ottoman Empire’s navy recovered, the Christian nations of Europe had built up their navy’s to counter the threat.
I. The attempted invasions by land would continue, however, until the mid-seventeenth century.
1. The Ottoman Empire launched at attack that brought it to the walls of Vienna in 1529, but it was repulsed.
2. Tensions continued throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries as the Holy Roman Empire and the Ottoman Empire fought for lands in southeastern Europe.
3. During the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) the Holy Roman Empire was weakened, as even Catholic France turned against it. The Treaty of Westphalia broke off numerous lands from the Empire.
4. However, the Kingdom of Poland was growing stronger, and was able to help the Holy Roman Empire secure its borders. Poland, Lithuania and the Republic of Venice formed the Holy League to fight Ottoman incursions
5. In the 1680 the Ottoman Empire sensed weakness in the Holy Roman Empire and prepared for another attack.
6. The Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I formed an alliance with Pope Innocent XI, the kingdom of Poland, the allies of Lithuania and what was left of the Hapsburg kingdom in Hungary. The combined army was led King John III Sobieski of Poland.
7. On September 12, 1683 the armies met outside of Vienna. With all of the reinforcements arriving in time, and the Ottoman Empire staging several very unsuccessful attempts at attacking the city, the Christian forces won a dramatic victory.
8 After that battle, Ottoman Empire could no longer muster the strength to invade more of Europe. And in fact, the Holy Roman Empire began a re-conquest of Hungary. The European nations were now becoming the dominant powers.