Tuesday, November 04, 2014

St Charles Borromeo's Century

My sense of history is based on wigs, it moves from codpieces to doublets to full bottomed wigs, shorter wigs to no wigs. I fit people into the timeline by what they wear in their portraits, it helps to associate one group of people with another. It is a bit more difficult with the Church where there is a marked absence of codpieces, doublets or wigs.

To help others who are similarly historically illiterate, I have put a wiki timeline of the Church in the 16th century, it is far from complete but it is helpful to see people like St Charles Borromeo, whose feast day it is today, not as a lone Saint but in his time 1538–1584, as part of an historical movement.

The sixteenth began and the Church was in turmoil, it reflected the state of Europe at the time. Wicked Alexander VI is followed after the brief reign of the poisoned (?) Pius III by Papa Terribilis, the bellicous Julius II, the Papacy was more concerned with secular power politics than religion.

In Germany Luther was preaching against Papal vices and much of Northern Europe would be lost to the Church. In Florence Savonorola 1452–1498 had condemned the vices and licentiousness of the Renaissance; with Greek learning came the Greek vices. Sodomy was one of the main vices he had in his cross-hairs. The gay lobby were not entirely guiltless of his burning.

Savonorola's reform movement was something that was carried to Rome, despite his own Greek vices, Michaelangelo had a great devotion to him, as did Philip Neri 1515 – 1595, often called the Second Apostle to Rome. Savonorola the preacher failed, whereas Philip retreated to the catacombs to pray, emerging to gather around him a youth movement, of young aristocrats, seeking holiness. At the same time Camillus de Lellis 1452–1498 was founding his hospital and order of praying nursing brothers.

There was a new spirit in decadent Rome, St Ignatius and Francis Xavier and the early Jesuits had arrived and were given churches, Young Catholic intellectuals were coming from all over Europe. Like St Edmund Campion 1540 -1581, they were praying and studying in Rome. Campion was amongst that great procession of young men who trudged from Rome through Milan to meet St Charles Borromeo, then often going through Geneva to be encouraged by Francis de Sales 1567 – 1622, they were going to their death in England and Northern Europe.

At no time had there been such a flowering of holy men in the city that was until recently known for its sin and corruption. In the young the Communion of Saints was made visible on the very streets and in the Churches of the Eternal City and through them in the rest of Italy and Europe.

What I am trying to say is that from the traincrash of all that led up to the Reformation of the 16th century, of the misery that faithful Catholics endured at the hands of sinful and wicked Popes and Prelates God brought about the sublime holiness of the Glorious Counter-Reformation.


Josemaria Paulo Jeromino Martin Carvalho-Von Verster said...

But with the Counter-Reformation,there are some things to be Lamented to this day(Jesuitical seperation of Piety and Liturgy,Abolition of the Reredos etc...)

Jacobi said...

Father your history crib is excellent. The Catholic Church is truly in turmoil today, wasting away and disintegrating by whatever means of measurement is used, and we will need that crib if we are to make any sense of what is happening.

You quoted in your “S” word comment,

“The real problem is a internal schism, or as said above submerged schism”

Well the Protestant Reformation was seen as an internal schism but one that would be resolved. It took over a hundred years to realise it wasn’t going to be.

History does not repeat itself exactly, but the similarities with the present are remarkable. A failed Council, (5th Lateran), a great ferment of ideas in the world, Popes swinging between concession and Continuity, some resented for reform (Hadrian VI). Paul II not terribly competent but at least he had the sense to all the Council of Trent. It still needed St Pius V however, to sort out the mess.

All so similar to what is happening today. Yes, we will need another Council and another St Pius V to sort out the current mess and shambles, but that is probably 2/3 Popes away.

That a Reformation is at work in the Church at present is pretty clear. Ralph Wiltgen virtually said so in 1966. Malcolm Muggeridge complained in 1980+/- that his conversion was delayed because of it. Michael Davies for decades effectively said so. Pope Benedict in March 2010, complained of “a completely different Church”, emerging and others such as Mosebach in September 2012. In the past six years in particular it has been openly discussed.

Yes it would seem that there is a Reformation under way, I would call it a Relativist Reformation, but it is there - and as real as the proverbial sack of potatoes.

The question now is where and what form will the Counter Reformation take. Well I have my suspicions, but one thing is absolutely certain, the armoury of this Counter Reformation will include a restored traditional liturgy of the Mass and of traditional Catholic devotions.

William Russ said...

Father, I graduated with a degree in History (Medieval from Jesuit Xavier here in Cincinnati). Some how the history of the Papacy was a "once over lightly".
Do you have a recommendation for a good read to fill in my loss?


Pelerin said...

Ah - now I can read it!

Fra Giovanni. said...

As a latter day son of St Camillus, nursing the sick and dying as a religious brother I am delighted to see our holy and wig-less founder mentioned in Fr Ray's history of the 16th Century. Thank God that the inspiration of so many courageous men and women from that troubled century lives on, bringing people closer to God in today's troubled world.