The History of Catholicism an How Its Depicted

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The History of Catholicism an How Its Depicted The series of events which form the history of Catholicism in the mid sixteenth century are most often depicted as follows. A violent shock causes the very foundations of Christendom to tremble, and whole sections of the Church's ancient edifice are swallowed up in heresy. Her rulers then drag themselves from their lethal indifference; they determine to oppose the Protestant menace, and at last take steps that should have been taken long ago. Such is the pattern implied by the word `counter-reformation.' The term, however, though common, is misleading: it cannot rightly be applied, logically or chronologically, to that sudden awakening as of a startled giant, that wonderful effort of rejuvenation and reorganization, which in a space of thirty years gave to the Church an altogether new appearance. What happened was a true renascence in the fullest etymological sense, more impressive from a Christian point of view than the Renaissance of art and letters upon which contemporary Europe was priding itself. The so-called `counter-reformation' did not begin with the Council of Trent, long after Luther; its origins and initial achievements were much anterior to the fame of Wittenberg. It was undertaken, not by way of answering the `reformers,' but in obedience to demands and principles that are part of the unalterable tradition of the Church and proceed from her most fundamental loyalties... Protestantism played a part, dialectically, in the Catholic renascence. "Oportet haereses esse," as St. Paul says; and heresy obliged the Church to devise an exact statement of her doctrine upon certain points, to establish her position more securely than ... ... middle of paper ... ...roque' has only partial application here and does not cover enough ground to serve as a complete expression of the new correlation between Catholicism and the post-medieval world. On the other hand, there has been an insufficient liaison between the historians of the Chruch and the historians of religion -- between the ecclesiastical historians proper and all those authors who in the last fifty years or so have done so much to explore, map nd illuminate something that for a Christian believer, is basic to the inner life of the Church, and should surely therefore be basic to Church history, namely the history of spirituality -- devotion, prayer, mysticism. In this there may lie the way to a new and perhaps more fruitful mode of ecclesiastical history -- the two aspects representing a kind of mysterious body-soul relationship within the Church.
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