35. Religious Reform;    36. Theological Revival;   37. Liturgical Renaissance




 St. Philip Neri (Oratorians)

St. Angela Merici (Ursulines)



A. Résumé of Religious Communities








The history of the religious life in the Church is not necessarily an evolution from an imperfect to a more perfect state. Rather it reveals successive adaptations of Christ’s evangelical counsels to changing circumstances, earlier forms continuing to flourish along with the later.

The first stage was that of apostolic communism, practiced by the primitive group at Jerusalem, which held both its spiritual exercises and worldly goods in common. Never general even in the apostolic age, this type soon disappeared as the Church expanded throughout the Graeco-Roman world.

Pious individuals replaced it by a domestic asceticism, wherein men or women lived a retired life amid their families, from which they would emerge only to attend the liturgical services or to perform works of charity.

 Among these were the virgins and widows with private vows of chastity. This mode has been continuous in the Church, reappearing in the twentieth-century secular institutes.

During the third century arose the eremitical life when some Christians sought solitude in flight from persecution and paganism.

It was soon followed by the cenobitical existence: hermits living in silent companionship under personal rules, though meeting for spiritual exercises. Personal monastic life appeared when cenobites subjected themselves to a common [p. 229] superior. Regular monasticism differed from this merely in that the superior governed, not according to his own judgment, but by rule: that of St. Basil in the East, and that of St. Benedict in the West.

The tenth-century Cluniac movement placed the hitherto autonomous monasteries under an abbot-general;

this first of religious orders properly so called, was imitated by other medieval institutes, such as the Cistercians.

The mendicant orders, finally, had combined monastic asceticism with a missionary apostolate.


    I Pierre Janelle, The Catholic Reformation (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Co., 1949), p. 274.





Combination of prayer and apostolate, already attempted by the medieval Premonstratensians, became a special objective of modern religious communities in a less tranquil age.

The Jesuits sacrificed choir for study and preaching, though retaining solemn vows. Religious communities of simple vows followed in which private property was regulated in its use rather than renounced. Specialization of apostolate, already manifest in the mendicants, now became more pronounced.

Another variation appeared in secular communities without vows.

St. Philip Neri founded his Oratory in this fashion, and its way of life was imitated by the Sulpicians and many others down to the Maryknollers of the twentieth century.

Such groups remained voluntary associations of secular priests, with or without promises or oaths of stability.

St. Vincent de Paul presented a compromise: a community whose members take the usual perpetual vows, yet remain technically seculars since these are not publicly accepted in the name of the Church.

These variations of status have occasionally in modern times preserved various communities from the scope of anticlerical legislation, while they have afforded opportunities for utilization of many characters and talents in Christ’s service.




B. Pre-Tridentine Foundations





(1) THEATINES (1516)



St. Cajetan of Tiene (1480-1547) inspired the first of the newer religious communities, though its organization was largely done by the cofounder, Pietro Caraffa (1476-1559), bishop of Chieti, whose see Theate in Latin—gave name to the group. Clement VII confirmed the institute on June 24, 1524. Members distributed all but essential funds to relatives and the poor, and maintained rigid, if not abject poverty.

Their special work was liturgical reform, but they also gave missions and retreats.

By avoiding all solicitation of funds, the Theatines acquired a reputation of being disinterested reformers in Italy, Spain, Germany, and Poland where they labored. Famous for his vow of daily progress was the Theatine, St. Andrea Avellini (1521-1608) . [p. 230]


(2) BARNABITES (1530)



St. Anthony Zaccaria (1502-39) founded the Clerks Regular of St. Paul, usually known as Barnabites from their connection with the Church of St. Barnabas in Milan. Specializing in preaching and teaching in university cities, they, catechized throughout Italy, France, Savoy, Bohemia, and Austria. From 1527 they promoted vigorously the evolving Forty Hours’ Devotion. Clement VII approved them in 1533, and they began to take solemn vows in 1535.


(3) THE SOMASCHI (1532)



St. Jerome Aemiliani (1481-1537), after a career devoted to the sick poor, especially orphans, founded a religious community to carry on this work near Somasche, Lombardy. Paul III approved them in 1540, and Pius V in 1568 transformed them into a religious order with solemn vows.


(4) THE URSULINES (1535)



St. Angela Merici (1474-1540) developed a successful method of instructing girls, although she did not gather a company of twelve young teachers at Brescia until 1535. The foundress’s primitive rule was adapted by Paul III in confirming the community in 1544. Such was the looseness of organization and popularity and utility of their work that many groups called Ursulines arose, adhering to St. Angela’s general aims. Leo XIII federated a hundred of these in 1900.





St. John of God (1495-1550), a poor Portuguese peasant of profound piety, spent much of his life trying to learn his vocation: he was shepherd, crusader, peddler of religious goods, and pilgrim penitent. About 1540, advised by the missionary Blessed John of Avila, he began to serve the sick and the poor. Two scoffers, who had scandalized Granada, became his chief assistants. The Brothers Hospitalers were still only informally organized at St. John’s death, but were subsequently approved as religious by Pope Pius V in 1572.


(6) THE JESUITS (1540)




St. Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556), a wounded soldier, was attracted to Christ’s service by Ludolf the Carthusian’s Life of Christ read during convalescence. His convictions were strengthened by a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Montserrat, and a year’s retreat at Manresa. The fruit of his meditations was the first outline of his Spiritual Exercises, a religious manual of arms. For some years St. Ignatius remained a pilgrim penitent. Denied permanent abode at Jerusalem, he returned to Spain. The [p. 231] better to be of service to souls, he plodded through the equivalent of the primary, secondary, and advanced grades of education, until he won a master’s degree at the University of Paris.

Companions of his charitable life at Paris proved lasting; these included his fellow Basque, St. Francis Xavier, future apostle to the Orient; Jaime Lainez and Nicolas Salmeron, the Tridentine theologians, and Blessed Pierre Favre. On the feast of the Assumption, 1534, the first seven companions bound themselves by private vows in a Montmartre chapel to corporate service of the Church. When their original design of going to Jerusalem was blocked by a Venetian-Turkish war, the ever-growing company placed themselves at the disposal of Pope Paul III. Papal approval was delayed by Cardinal Ghinucci’s opposition, but numerous Jesuit Masses changed his mind so that on September 27, 1540, Pope Paul III erected the “Inigists” into the Society of Jesus by the aptly and presciently entitled bull, Regimini Militantis Ecclesiae.

Jesuit membership was achieved by profession, preceded by two years of novitiate—an innovation over the usual single year. After rigorous spiritual training, the candidate took the usual religious vows which, though simple, enjoyed special privileges of stability. Then followed long years in the study and teaching of the classics, and from four to six years of theology. Priestly ordination, thus usually delayed beyond the age of thirty, was followed when possible by tertianship, an advanced novitiate which added sacerdotal ministrations to the usual spiritual exercises. Then followed the classification, according to the judgment of superiors, into professed of solemn vows or spiritual coadjutors. The former constituted an aristocratic minority from whom alone officials were selected; the latter performed more routine clerical duties, assisted in turn by temporal coadjutors or lay brothers. This aristocracy reflected the grandeza of its Spanish founders,

Jesuit government centered in a general elected for life by the votes of the provincials and two professed members from each province. Once in office, the Jesuit general had supreme power to appoint all the superiors of the community and to supervise their work. Eventually he was given four assistants, who might constitute his council and, if need be, summon a general assembly to depose him. Jesuit traditions were fixed by remarkable early generals: St. Ignatius himself (1541-56), Jaime Lainez (1558-65) , and St. Francis Borgia (1565-72) . To counteract a tendency of Spain to monopolize the government, Pope Gregory XIII suggested the Belgian, Everard Mercurian, as next general (1573-80). Against him began the grumbling of a group of Iberian “Malcontents.” Disaffection continued into the administration of the able Italian general, Claudio Aquaviva (1580-1615), until Paul V intervened to put an end to the Malcontents’ claims to special privileges suggested by King [p. 232] Philip II. Thereafter the Society was truly international. Jesuits consider Jerome Nadal (d. 1580), St. Ignatius’s deputy, as a second founder by reason of his defense of the founder’s ideas. Jesuit history will henceforth be prominently interwoven with that of the “Church Militant,” and Jesuits would suffer much in the regalistic era from their devotion to the Holy See. Though the Society was suppressed in 1773, it was restored in 1814.




C. Post-Tridentine Foundations





(1) ORATORIANS (1564)



St. Philip Neri (1515-95) arrived in Rome about 1534. Even as a layman he was active in catechetical instruction and the organization of converts into sodalities. Not until 1551 was his diffidence overcome to receive ordination. Thereafter he became the most renowned confessor in Rome. Disciples gathered and received some organization in 1564 when he became pastor of the Church of the Florentines in Rome. In 1575 his new institute was approved by Gregory XIII as the Congregation of the Oratory, owing its name to the conference room of its first members.

The Oratorian way of life, though not formally codified until 1607, was gradually fashioned. It contemplated an association of secular priests “founded on charity and the spirit of the first Christians.” Its government was the antithesis of Jesuit monarchy. Members lived without vows, retaining all their own property and providing for all needs except lodging. All, including the superior, took their turns at preaching and household chores alike. Indeed the superior was more of a chairman since no public act could be decided without approbation of a majority of the community. Each house remained independent, although, of course, St. Philip’s influence was unique.

The French Oratory was therefore a distinct society. It was established by Pierre de Berulle (1575-1629) in Paris in 1611. He followed St. Philip’s ascetical principles, but the French Oratorians were federated. The French Oratory promoted the Tridentine reforms and influenced many religious leaders.


(2) OBLATES (1578)



St. Charles Borromeo (1538-84) organized the Oblates of St. Ambrose at Milan in 1578 on the Oratorian model. Members were of the diocesan clergy who placed themselves especially at the bishop’s disposal for giving retreats, preaching missions, and teaching in schools. Gregory XIII sanctioned their rule in 1579. By their very nature as local auxiliaries they were imitated in other dioceses. [p. 233]


(3) CAMILLANS (1584)



St. Camillus de Lellis (1550-1614), ex-soldier and inveterate gambler, turned, about 1570, to divine service. In 1584 he had organized the “Fathers of a Good Death” who received papal approbation in 1586. The members took a special vow to devote themselves to the sick, including the plague-stricken. St. Camillus gave them an example of tireless self-sacrifice, and his followers included many martyrs of charity.





Cesare de Bus (1544-1607), another ex-soldier and a penitent cleric, devoted himself to preaching and catechizing. In 1592 he founded the Secular Priests of Christian Doctrine near Avignon. This group received papal sanction in 1597 and expanded into Italy.


(5) PIARISTS (1597)



St. Joseph Calasanctius (1556-1648), for a time an associate of St. Camillus, was later inspired to establish the Congregation of Pious Schools. His was a group of priests devoting themselves to providing a good Christian education for the poor. Though St. Joseph was victimized by factions and died in apparent disgrace, his prediction of his Society’s expansion was fulfilled.





St. Jane de Chantal (1572-1641) under the guidance of St. Francis de Sales established the Congregation of the Visitation at Annecy. Their original purpose was to visit and help the poor and sick, but this innovation of nuns outside the cloister provoked such criticism that St. Francis deemed it prudent to reconstitute the community in 1618 as a cloistered order. Thereafter the nuns concerned themselves with contemplative prayer and the teaching of girls, ever subject to the local ordinary.





St. Louise de Marillac (1591-1660) , under the direction of St. Vincent de Paul, found it possible to realize St. Jane’s original intention. Peasant girls were banded together to assist the Ladies of Charity in the service of the poor, and developed into a community of religious women known as the Daughters of Charity (1633) . They continue under the direction of St. Vincent’s successor, and constitute with the Congregation of the Mission (1617), the Double Family of St. Vincent. [p. 234]


(8) SULPICIANS (1642)



Jean Jacques Olier (1608-57) graduated from the French Oratory to become pastor of the Church of St. Sulpice in Paris. This declining parish he transformed into one of the most active and fervent. To staff his works he established a seminary, and to conduct the latter founded in 1642 the Society which has taken its name from the parish. Sulpicians were organized into a community of secular priests without vows, who eventually specialized in seminary work. Special emphasis was laid on a method of prayer advocated by Father Olier, and completed by Father Tronson. Both before and after the French Revolution the Sulpicians have been leading educators of the clergy.


(9) EUDISTS (1643)



St. John Eudes (1601-80), another alumnus of the Oratory, became a rural missionary, founder of a seminary, and finally in 1643 organizer of the Society of Jesus and Mary, which devoted itself to missions and seminaries.




D. Reform of Existing Orders








The Dominicans, revived by the work of Blessed Raymond of Capua (d. 1399), director of St. Catherine of Siena, were less in need of moral reform than intellectual. Cardinal Cajetan (d. 1534), as will be seen in the following topic, inaugurated a new era of Scholasticism with special stress on the teaching of St. Thomas.

The Franciscans witnessed many trends toward a more strict discipline. Observantine renewal was effected in Spain by St. Pedro de Alcantara (1499-1562), and in Italy by Fra Matteo da Bascio (14951552) . His movement, however, evolved into the distinct Capuchin community which survived the apostasy of a superior-general, Bernardino Ochino (1542), to become an active and popular force. Distinguished members were St. Felix (1515-87) and St. Lawrence of Brindisi (1559-1619).

The Augustinians, weakened by the defection of Martin Luther, were revived by the reforming generals, Giles of Viterbo (d. 1532) and Giralamo Seripando (1539-51), later cardinal and papal legate. In Spain the reform was led by St. Thomas of Villanova (1488-1555), provincial and bishop of Valencia.

The Carmelites were favored by the reforms of two remarkable personalities, St. John of the Cross (1542-91), doctor of the Church, and St. Theresa of Avila (1515-82), “Doctress of Prayer.” Though they [p. 235] suffered grievously from political and factional opposition, their Discalced reform was granted separate papal recognition in 1580.





The Benedictines experienced some revival from Didier, prior of St. Vanne Abbey in Lorraine. A reformed congregation received papal approval in 1604. An offshoot of this group were the Maurists who played an influential role in French ecclesiastical science down to the French Revolution. Though they did not survive the French Revolution, Dom Gueranger’s Solesme Congregation is in a sense their heir.

Camaldolese from 1520 benefited by the reforming efforts of Paolo Giustiniani (1476-1528) .

Cistercians in France formed a reformed group, the Feuillants, under the leadership of Jean de la Barriere (1544-1600).

Canons Regular were given a pattern for reform in the work of St. Peter Fourier (1565-1640) in Lorraine. Premonstratensians and Trinitarians also experienced reforms.








 St. Robert Bellarmine

St. Francis de Sales  

A. Scholastic Schools


Cardinal Cajetan (1469-1534) . Tommaso de Vio Gaetani was born at Gaeta, entered the Dominican Order in 1485, and became its general in 1508. In 1517 he was named cardinal. Throughout his life he was often employed by the Holy See as nuncio and theologian to treat with the emperors, Christian of Denmark and Lewis of Hungary, and Martin Luther. But he is chiefly remembered today as a pioneer in a return to the unexpurgated doctrine of St. Thomas Aquinas. Between 1507 and 1522 he composed a commentary on the Sumnia Theologica, initiating a trend toward substitution of St. Thomas’s masterpiece for the Lombard’s Sentences as the basic theological text. Cajetan’s defense of the distinctions between essence and existence, and between subsistence and existence laid the foundations for a rigid Thomism. Besides stimulating his brethren in this Thomistic revival, Cajetan departed from the lethargy of decadent Scholasticism by boldly treating new questions.

Francisco de Vittoria (1488-1546) was a second founder of the revival in Spain. After entering the Dominican Order, Vittoria was educated at the University of Paris. Returning to his native Spain, he was put at the head of the theological faculty at the University of Salamanca in 1524. There he utilized the Summa as the basis of his lectures, and through his influence his disciples, the Salamantacenses, rendered this method common. Occasionally led into trouble by Parisian Humanism, [p. 236] Vittoria remained orthodox. He pioneered in the field of international law and politics, not fearing to criticize the Spanish conquistadores.

Melchior Cano (1509-60), also a Dominican, was Vittoria’s immediate successor at Salamanca from 1546 to 1552. Named bishop of the Canaries, he resigned only to be involved in disputes which gained him the king’s disfavor. His classic De Locis Theologicis, however, directed the scholastic revival toward a wholesome respect for tradition.

Dominique Soto (1494-1560), a disciple of Vittoria at Paris, did not join the Dominicans until 1525. In 1532 he became professor and in 1552 dean of the theological faculty at Salamanca. He was also a Tridentine consultant and confessor of Emperor Charles V. He resolutely upheld Thomistic teaching at Trent with his De Natura et Gratia. His Summulae made a distinct advance in the clear presentation of logic, and other commentaries improved the philosophical approach to theology.

Bartolomé de Medina (1527-81), another Dominican luminary at Salamanca, also wrote commentaries on St. Thomas’s works. He will be referred to again as reputed formulator of Probabilism.

Domingo Bannez (1528-1604), Dominican dean of theology at Salamanca, as spiritual director of St. Theresa of Avila, brought the Carmelites into the Thomistic theological school. Bannez is chiefly known for his defense of Thomistic doctrine on grace and free will against Molina. Molinists accused him of founding a Neo-Thomistic “Bannezian” school, but Bannez stoutly asserted: “By not so much as a fingernail’s breadth have I ever departed from St. Thomas’s teaching.”


The Tridentine theologians, Jaime Lainez (1512-65) and Nicolas Salmeron (1515-85), were pre-Molinist Jesuits who should be classed with the Thomistic school for their successful exposition of St. Thomas’s doctrines at the Council of Trent. Other Jesuits, however, tended to constitute a new theological attitude.

Cardinal Francisco Toletano (1532-96), precursor of a continuous Jesuit theological school, was a noted theologian and diplomat. Though educated at Salamanca under Soto, Toletano professed to see in St. Augustine justification for predestination post praevisa merita, thus initiating a trend from rigid Thomism.

Pedro de Fonseca (1528-99) in pondering the questions raised by Toletano, proposed a scientia media as a solution, though his views were further developed by his disciple Molina.

Luis de Molina (1535-1601) founded a new approach with his Concordia Liberi Arbitrii cum Gratiae Donis (1588) . He taught that sufficient grace became efficacious only through the consent of the human [p. 237] free will. Grace, then, would be an endowment which man educes from potency to act by his native power; it would be extrinsically efficacious through a divine scientia media which arranged the co-operation of human liberty. Though Molina thus sought to defend human freedom against Luther and Calvin, his teaching skirted the borders of semi-Pelagianism. His view was deemed rash by General Aquaviva and ordered replaced by Congruism which held that grace was also in some way intrinsically efficacious.

Gabriel Vasquez (1549-1604) inaugurated a series of congruist variations which sought to escape the consequences of pure Molinism without essentially altering its explanation. Vasquez would have God know free futures in their “eternal verity” as a movie preview.

Francisco Suarez (1548-1617) proposed prevision in a “logical medium” or disjunctive proposition. Though the Suarezian solution was sanctioned in 1613 by Father Aquaviva, later Jesuit theologians resorted to new devices. Suarez also rejected Arisotelian real potency and consequently repudiated the distinction between essence and existence. In law and political theory Suarez developed many of Vittoria’s ideas.

St. Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621) was a moderate, not fully appreciated by contemporary extremists. This doctor of the Church, while adopting some Molinist views, was well ahead of his school in the severe criticism that he leveled against strict Molinism and in his approach to Thomism in trying to mitigate differences. In the field of law and politics, he abandoned the theory of direct papal temporal power to return to the patristic notion of indirect power. He also opposed scholastic democratic theory to the divine right theory of monarchy defended by James Stuart and others. In vain did he warn against the rash condemnation of Galileo’s solar theory by the Roman curia.

Leonard Lessius (1554-1623), however, carried most Jesuits along with him in strict adherence to the congruist evolution of Molinism. Lessius’s specialty, however, was the field of moral theology.


St. Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556), although not primarily a writer, must be mentioned here for his lasting influence through his Spiritual Exercises, begun in 1521 and published in 1548. These have been specially commended for retreats.

Louis of Granada (1504-88) , in his Sinner’s Guide and other works, provided Dominican ascetical treatises of enduring popularity. His homely style found echoes in the Practice of Christian Perfection, a primer for novitiates written by the Jesuit Alfonso Rodriguez.

St. Peter Canisius (1521-97) revived the science of catechetics. His Catechism eventually came out in editions adapted to every age and [p. 238] mentality, and was not outmoded by the Tridentine opus. Doctor of the Church, St. Peter yet sought simple, earnest exposition which avoided controversy as much as possible.

Cardinal Cesare Baronio (1538-1607) deserves a unique place among scholastic revivalists as the second father, after Eusebius of Caesarea, of ecclesiastical history. Born at Sora in the Two Sicilies, Baronio came to Rome where he joined the disciples of St. Philip Neri. Disinherited for entering the Oratory, Baronio worked in poverty among the Roman poor both before and after his ordination to the priesthood in 1564. When the Protestants began to falsify history with their Centuries of Magdeburg (1559), Father Baronio, at St. Philip’s insistence, began the composition of his monumental Annales Ecclesiastici in refutation. Distracted by a thousand cares and inconveniences, occupied with active priestly ministry as well as cooking in the kitchen, Baronio devoted all his remaining moments beyond four hours of sleep to research and writing. From 1569 to his death he labored, writing, revising, proofreading every page by his own hand, as well as personally seeing the manuscript through primitive presses. Late in life came recognition: he was made cardinal in 1595 and prefect of the Vatican Library in 1597; only his strenuous efforts averted his election to the papacy in 1605. He had brought his Annales to the year 1198 when he died in 1607; the work was continued by Rainaldus. This early example of modern scientific ecclesiastical history is not faultless, but it routed contemporary foes by its superior objectivity and greater attention to original sources. It traced the path for better revisions. Cardinal Baronio was declared Venerable in 1745.

St. John of the Cross (1542-91), doctor of the Church, and distinguished collaborator of St. Theresa of Avila in Carmelite reform, provided a whole course in sound mystical theology in his works, Ascent of Carmel, Dark Night, Living Flame, Spiritual Canticle, etc. With St. Theresa of Avila, he provided an antidote for Lutheran Quietism and the aberrations of the seventeenth century, Jansenism and Quietism.

St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622), another doctor of the Church, had special talent in making asceticism attractive for the laity. His Introduction to the Devout Life and other popular works set a tradition for discovering many ways of adapting the ancient teachings to contemporary needs.

B. Theological Controversies


Michel de Bay, or Baius (1513-89), was born at Melun in the Belgian Netherlands and educated at Louvain University. After his ordination and reception of a doctorate in theology, he taught philosophy and [p. 239] theology at his alma mater—later, he gained some distinction as one of the university’s theologians assigned to attend the Council of Trent. But about 1555 he began to publish Opuscula that raised questions concerning his orthodoxy.

Teaching. Baius believed that the best cure for Scholastic decadence lay in a return to the Bible and the Fathers. But, like so many before him, he concentrated upon and misinterpreted St. Augustine. Thus, he came up with the rash assertion that man had been created in the supernatural order so that grace became practically an essential part of human nature. Man’s fall, then, positively and radically vitiated his essential constitution. Grace, for Baius, did not restore man to his supernatural state, but merely conferred on him a relatively superior assistance in order to restrain concupiscence. Concupiscence, which Baius, like Luther, identified with original sin, remained to dominate and nearly destroy human freedom: “All the works of infidels are sins; all the virtues of philosophers are vices.” Baius stressed the need of actual grace to triumph over concupiscence; whether he deemed habitual grace necessary is uncertain.

Condemnation. As early as 1552, Ruard Tapper, Chancellor of Louvain University, had begun to suspect De Bay’s teaching. Before his death in 1559, Tapper ordered De Bay to desist, and the Franciscans denounced fourteen of the latter’s propositions to the Sorbonne. But Cardinal Graneville, governor of the Netherlands, imposed silence on both sides. Despite a warning from Pope Pius IV in 1561 to beware of doctrinal innovations, De Bay confidently attended Trent with Graneville’s backing. Though his views met with disfavor during the conciliar discussions, no disciplinary action was taken. But when De Bay began to write and teach once more in favor of his opinions at Louvain, the new Chancellor Ravenstein denounced him to the Holy See (1564) . St. Pius V at length on October 1, 1567, in Ex Omnibus Afflictionibus censured seventy-nine Baianist propositions without indicating their author by name. Though professing submission, Baius and his friends questioned the interpretation of his writings found in the papal document. When the pope demanded unquestioning submission in 1569, Baius did make a generic oral recantation. Apparently again in good standing, he was chosen to succeed Ravenstein as rector. But by 1579 new suspicions of his orthodoxy had been raised. Pope Gregory XIII now confirmed the previous papal condemnation, and exacted of Baius a detailed profession of faith. Once again Baius submitted to pontifical authority, and as far as is known, died in communion with the Catholic Church. Nevertheless, seeds of his teaching remained at Louvain among Baianist disciples on the faculty, and would reappear in Jansenism. [p. 240]


Origins. The first rumblings of storm are seen in 1581 when Bannez objected to certain theses on grace proposed by the Jesuit theologian, Prudencio de Montemayor. In 1587 the Baianist clique, apparently in revenge, condemned certain propositions drawn from Jesuit theologians who had opposed their own opinions. These accusations were answered by Lessius until the papal nuncio commanded silence in 1588. But in the same year Molina’s Concordia was published at Coimbra University. Bannez prevailed on the Spanish viceroy, Archduke Albert, to ban the sale of the book but Molina obtained sanction from the Portuguese Inquisition to republish the work in 1589. “It denies efficacious grace,” objected Thomists. “It does not; you preach determinism,” retorted Molinists. Charges and countercharges mounted to a crescendo of anathemas against “Pelagianism” and “Calvinism” respectively. In 1594 the peace was so disturbed by public debates, that the papal nuncio at Madrid referred the affair to Rome.

Papal nondecision. Papal commissions were named to investigate the dispute, but their findings were challenged. Pope Clement VIII formed a new Congregatio de Auxiliis which occupied itself with the case from 1598 to 1607. After two months of inquiry, however, the congregation, under the lead of Cardinals Madrucci and Arrigone, recommended condemnation of the Concordia. But the pope ordered more leisurely consideration. When a similar recommendation was submitted six months later, the pope summoned the Dominican and Jesuit generals to name defenders. The debate resumed with the Jesuit theologians Gregorio de Valencia, Pedro de Arrubal, Fernando de Bastida, and Juan de Sales sustaining the prosecution by the Dominicans, Diego Alvarez and Tomas de Lemos. By 1601 the majority vote of the congregation once again pronounced in favor of condemnation of Molinism, but Clement VIII denied his approbation. Debate recommenced, reaching its climax on November 30, 1602, when Valencia collapsed in the course of argument. Still refusing to accept a technical knockout, the pope began to referee the debates personally. These went on for three more years until the patient pontiff died. Pope Paul V also heard seventeen more debates within two years, and then decided that not even Spanish theologians could have anything more to say. On August 28, 1607, he suspended the congregation sine die, and announced that a decision would be rendered at the proper time. To date the “proper time” has not arrived, though, shorn of its animosity, the debate occasionally rumbles on in the lecture halls. For a time, however, the decree of silence (1611) imposed on disputes about grace complicated the detection of the next heresy regarding the supernatural principles, Jansenism.  [p. 241]








A. Liturgical Changes






Great diversity of usage had developed during the Middle Ages when individual dioceses and religious orders followed their peculiar modifications of the basic Latin Rite. The Council of Trent “clearly distinguished between truth and error and declared the objective character of the Mass. . . . A special commission . . . took another course by establishing the wished-for uniform missal. . . . The new missal had, in round numbers, 150 days free of feasts, not counting octaves. This was achieved by retaining only those feasts which were kept in Rome itself up to the eleventh century. Of the countless feasts later introduced, especially under the influence of the Franciscans, only a small number were preserved, and a few of these of saints outside Italy.... Besides the memorial days of the four Latin Fathers who were alone acknowledged in the Middle Ages, those of the Greeks were also included.. . . This book was to be from then on the standard in every church and . . . no changes were to be made therein. Only churches which could demonstrate a two-hundred years’ custom for their own usage, were permitted to retain that usage.” 2

2 Josef Jungmann and Francis Brunner, Missarum Solemnia (New York: Benziger Bros., 1950), I, 34-35.

Pope St. Pius V, in sanctioning a revised Missale Romanum by a bull of July 14, 1570, prescribed its use wherever the aforementioned custom had not been proved to the contrary. Dominicans conserved their Missal, while the Franciscans renounced their peculiar usages. With few exceptions, the new Missal was adopted by the majority of the regular and secular clergy. It made obligatory recitation of the Introibo and Confiteor at the beginning of Mass, and of the Placeat and St. John’s Gospel at the end, thus completing the evolution of the Mass to the twentieth century, although minor rubrical revisions have since been introduced. Pope Sixtus V by a decree of January, 1588, set up the Congregation of Rites to supervise the new changes, but in the view of some liturgists a period of liturgical rigidity ensued. Clement XIII (1758-69) prescribed the Preface of the Trinity for Sundays, and Leo XIII (18781903) ordered prayers to be said after Low Mass. From 1661 to 1897 there was a prohibition by the Index of translations of the Canon of the Mass into the vernacular, and in place of the Missal the “prayer-book” took its place in the hands of most of the literate laity, until the twentieth century. [p. 242]


(2) THE BREVIARY  [Liturgy of the Hours for Diocesan Clergy]


Reform of the Breviary had been stimulated by an untraditional “Humanist Office” allowed by Leo X, and the “Simplified Breviary” proposed to Paul III, which streamlined everything to psalms and lessons. Both were bitterly attacked at the Council of Trent. “The Council of Trent began reform which Pius V brought to a close with the publication of the revised Breviary, Breviarium Pianum. The spade work for this revision was done, behind the scenes, by the cofounders of the Theatines... .

The number of feasts was reduced,

the devotional Offices—Office of the Dead, the Little Office, and the Gradual psalms—which were slowly becoming obligatory, were suppressed or abrogated.

The yearly reading of the entire Scriptures and

the weekly recitation of the Psalter were restored.

The apocryphal lives of the saints were either expunged or amended,

 and finally a general list of rubrics was appended.” s

Thus, the Sunday and ferial offices were restored to a more prominent position.

“In the next few centuries, various improvements were made on the Breviary of Pius V but they were only of secondary importance. Clement VIII amended the lives of the saints, altered the rank of many feasts, and revised the Vulgate text of the Bible. Of great consequence, however, was the attempt of Urban VIII to revise the hymns. In an effort to lend a classic polish of meter and prosody to the hymns, he tried to improve the hymns of Prudentius, Fortunatus, and St. Ambrose. Altogether 952 ‘mistakes’ were ‘corrected.’ . . . Meanwhile, since the time of Pius V, nearly a hundred feasts had crept into the calendar.” Aside from these modifications, the Breviary remained substantially unchanged until the general revision begun and partially completed by Pope St. Pius X.




The Council of Trent had ordered a new edition of the Vulgate prepared which would remove readings at variance with the version of St. Jerome’s original. The execution of this decree proved exceedingly difficult. A first commission was named by Pius IV in 1561, and a second by Pius V in 1569. But in the absence of any determined critical principles, neither could accomplish much. A third commission, appointed by Sixtus V in 1586, did complete a revision within two years, but its work was rejected by the pope. Sixtus V now published a hasty version of his own, but this was almost immediately withdrawn after his death. The fourth commission, named by Gregory XIV, was permitted to issue [p. 243] a version in 1592, but new emendations followed. As finally completed in 1604, the Sixtine-Clementine edition proved to be a compromise between a critical and a popular text. It is still in use, pending a general revision Other revised ecclesiastical books that appeared were those of the Pontifical (1596) and the Episcopal Ceremonial (1600) . The Tridentine Catechism, printed by Paolo Manucci in Latin, was translated into Italian, French, and German.committed to the Benedictines by Pius X.

 “Pius Parsch, The Breviary Explained (St. Louis: B. Herder Book Co., 1952), P. 11.

Ibid., p. 28.


B. Administrative Reform


The Roman congregations were first divided into separate departments by Pope Sixtus V in his constitution, Immensa, of January 22, 1588. This provided for fifteen divisions: (1) the Inquisition or Holy Office; (2) the Signature of Grace; (3) the Congregation for Erection of Churches and Consistorial Provisions; (4) the Congregation for Temporal Administration; (5) Congregation of Rites and Ceremonies; (6) Department of Army and Navy for the Pontifical State; (7) Index of Forbidden Books; (8) Interpretation and Execution of Tridentine Decrees; (9) Relief of Ills of the Papal States; (10) University of Roman Study; (11) Congregation for Religious Orders; (12) Congregation for Regulation of Prelates; (13) Bureau of Roads, Bridges, and Waters; (14) the Vatican Printing Press; and (15) the Department for Regulation of Temporal Affairs. Though alterations were inevitably made during the course of the following centuries, the Sixtine system endured without radical change until the general reorganization by St. Pius X in 1908.


Principles. “At Trent, three principles denied by Protestantism were reaffirmed: (a) the intermediation of the Church in the relations of man with God, a doctrinal and sacramental mediation, which not only does not destroy, but perfects our direct contacts with God; (b) the affirmation of free will and the necessity of good works as the practical outcome of faith, as an inward conformity to the divine precepts, and as a means of acquiring merits for the reward; (c) the value of tradition, equal to that of Holy Scripture and interpreting Holy Scripture itself, both being authoritatively taught and defined by the magistracy of the teaching Church. The consequences of these principles . . . extended to social life and the relations between the power of the Church and that of the state.” [p. 244]

Don Luigi Sturzo, Church and State, trans. Barbara Carter (New York: Long-mans, Green and Co., 1939), p. 228.

C. Artistic Reform


The seventeenth century was the age of the baroque. Originally that term was confined to art and architecture, but in our own day it has come to be used increasingly as a period term, like Gothic or Renaissance, to describe the culture of the church and the princely courts from the mid-sixteenth to the eighteenth century. . . . Early baroque . . . was in its beginnings the artistic counterpart of the Catholic Reformation. Spanish gold and energy, Italian genius, and the lofty idealism of the Roman Catholic Church, purified and rejuvenated by reforming popes, prelates, and princes, produced the first fruits of the baroque style. It was associated with the papacy in Rome, with the Jesuits, with the court at Madrid, with the upsurge of energy that reconquered so much of Europe for the Roman Church.” 6 Admittedly, the baroque age and art were secularized in time by expansion to Germany and the France of Versailles.

6 John Wolf, Emergence of the Great Powers (New York: Harper and Bros., 1951), p. 244.


Renaissance painting, whatever its excellences, had become too much influenced by pagan models. Under the prodding of the Tridentine Reform, art in the service of the Church gradually returned to Christian traditions. In 1573 Paolo Veronese was cited before the Holy Office for failure to do so in his “Last Supper.” Better success was had by the Bologna School, founded by the Carracci, which produced Ludovico Carracci’s “Ecce Homo,” Domenichino’s “Communion of St. Jerome,” Guido’s Madonnas, and the Bargieri religious paintings.

Architecture experienced an evolution of disputed merit. Vignola’s Church of the Gesu, begun for the Roman Jesuits in 1568, initiated a vogue of baroque style imitated in many other Jesuit and parochial churches. Baroque is probably derived from baroco: “complicated”; it concentrated on a richly decorated façade.

Music, even in ecclesiastical services, had been invaded by the worldly and theatrical. Gregorian Chant had been first abridged and then largely abandoned. These developments evoked protests in the Council of Trent, but so great seemed the task of reform that for a time Pius IV meditated the discontinuance of church music. From this alternative the curia was rescued by Pietro Luigi Palestrina (1526-94), onetime choirmaster for the papal choir. His “Mass of Pope Marcellus” proved a convincing sample of his genius, and he was commissioned to undertake a reform of ecclesiastical music. Something of Gregorian inspiration survived in Palestrina, while St. Philip’s Oratory developed a lyric recitative type of music. [p. 245]



Catholic works, destined to have great influence, were Tasso’s Jerusalem Delivered, an epic of the Crusades on the model of the Iliad, Camoèn’s Lusiads, and the dramas of Lope de Vega. Though written in humanistic style, their spirit was Catholic insofar as they praised the chivalry of the crusaders of the Old World and the New, and exalted a Christian code of honor. The Jesuit colleges sponsored religious and moral dramas which had influence during the subsequent Golden Age of French literature with Corneille and Molière.

The French Jesuit, Blessed Claude La Colombière, indicates some of his canons of good style in a lecture at Lyons in 1672: “We have understood—and because our neighbors have not, they waste their talent and their efforts in the accumulation of voluminous works—we have understood what propriety, reason, and a sense of moderation demand of each of us. We know what distinguishes the sweet from the insipid, the vulgar from the simple and unadorned; what difference there is between the naïve and the affected, the noble and the pompous, the graceful and the beautiful, the brilliant and the conceited, the humorous and the clownish, in a word, that which separates the spirit of nicety from ingenious subtlety. Such henceforth is the excellence of the French tongue, that for sweetness, rhythm, brilliance, majesty, and richness it leaves nothing to be desired. The French name itself seems to have become everywhere abroad a synonym for politeness, purity, polish.” 7k

Secular works were those of Erasmus, Rabelais, and Montaigne, but despite their authors’ Catholicity, these were impregnated with renaissance scepticism. Far more Catholic in substance were the plays of William Shakespeare, who though scarcely a practicing Catholic, was surely one by baptism and secret affection, so that “he died a papist.”

I Georges Guitton, Perfect Friend, trans. William J. Young (St. Louis: B. Herder Book Co., 1956), p. 64.







Newman C. Eberhardt, C.M.

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