- Amazon Student members get an extra 10% off this product Here's how (terms and conditions apply)
The Refashioning of Catholicism, 1450-1700: A Reassessment of the Counter-Reformation (European History in Perspective) Paperback – 11 Jun 1999
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Special offers and product promotions
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Would you like to tell us about a lower price?
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
'In summary, this book transcends linguistic and cultural boundaries to synthesise extremely well the best of recent writing on the history of modern Catholicism (the bibliography provides the proof of this).' - Marc Venard, Revue d'Histoire de l'Eglise de France
'The emphasis throughout on the centrality of the lay piety is an excellent corrective to versions of confessionalization theory which remain too institutionally concerned with the state's direction of its subjects. Instead both casuistry and Jansenism are admirably apporached with a proper Jesuit sensitivity.' - A.D. Wright, Catholic Historical Review --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
In summary, this book transcends linguistic and cultural boundaries to synthesise extremely well the best of recent writing on the history of modern Catholicism (the bibliography provides the proof of this).' - Marc Venard, Revue d'Histoire de l'Eglise de France
'The emphasis throughout on the centrality of the lay piety is an excellent corrective to versions of confessionalization theory which remain too institutionally concerned with the state's direction of its subjects. Instead both casuistry and Jansenism are admirably apporached with a proper Jesuit sensitivity.' - A.D. Wright, Catholic Historical Review
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Why 1450? One reason was geographic exploration. The exploits of DeGama and Columbus reflected a growing sense of the cosmos, later amplified by Galileo and others; a new economic world order, so to speak; and the increasing sense of nationalism and centralization of governments, later abetted by formalized "confessions" of religious doctrine and worship after Luther. Another reason for this new delineation of Catholic epochs was the Renaissance and the humanistic philosophy it nurtured, which the author maintains had significant impact upon many major Catholic leaders of the time, including Ignatius Loyola and Francis de Sales. At the other end of the chronological spectrum, Bireley designates 1700 as a marker because of the impact of Cartesian rationalism upon official Catholic thought in the bigger context of the Enlightenment itself.
Without ignoring the contemporary problems of the "Catholic confession"-papal excesses, poor training of priests, etc.-Bireley is remarkably upbeat about the condition of the Catholic Church at the time of the Reformation and the Council of Trent in the sense that the need for reform was widely recognized and in many places being addressed already. Popular piety throughout Europe was strong in pockets, and the printing press, so often termed a tool of Protestant reformers, was cranking out thousands of copies of "The Imitation of Christ." The author notes that in the late fifteenth century the existing religious orders, or at least many of them, were distinguishing themselves by excellent preaching, pastoral practice, and adaptation.
After 1500, however, the combined challenges of Protestant confessions, humanist demands of higher education, and missionary work, not to mention ecclesiastical reform itself, led to a veritable explosion of new religious orders. Not surprisingly, the Jesuit phenomenon is extensively chronicled. But to his credit, Bireley gives significant attention to Francis de Sales and the Salesian efforts to address the spiritual needs of the new humanized Catholic. Joined with the efforts of the new Capuchins, Ursulines, Oratorians, Hospitalers, Theatines, Oratorians, Visitandines, Piarists, Barnabites, Sulpicians, and the Christian Brothers, to cite several, these movements addressed the above cited needs in ways that have sculpted the Catholic experience to the present day.
It is probably obvious that none of the above named orders is, strictly speaking, contemplative. Bireley contends that the paradigmatic shift in Catholic thinking in this era was toward the world, not away from it. Educators, confessors, and spiritual directors and writers consciously or subconsciously picked up the gauntlet set down by Machiavelli, whose thesis broadly read argues that the marketplace is the arena of practicality, not faith. It is no accident that the curriculum of Catholic schools at every level broadened to include the best of classical thought, that Aquinas and the idea of synthesis came back into style, and the Jesuits added drama and the fine arts to their standard cursus studiorum. Theologically speaking, it was an age of "doing." Loyola himself did not impose choir upon his men to free them for mission. The case study or manualist method of moral theology was born.
Certainly no collective group was doing more than the missionaries. The work of the Church in the new worlds is complex and not without controversy on many levels. Bireley is somewhat limited by this complexity in his attempt to give an overview of the missionary situation, but in general no one can deny that it was not large scale and heroic. The argument is often made that Catholic missionary efforts were part of a larger colonization effort. Bireley implies in his overview that this accusation is probably more appropriate to those missionaries whose monarchs exercised state control of the Church in their kingdoms, such as Spain and Portugal. By contrast, missionaries working more directly with the papacy and the newly formed Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, such as the Jesuits in the East, worked with remarkably less baggage, the Malabar Rites Controversy notwithstanding.
Although only two hundred pages, this is a thought provoking work that on the whole depicts a Roman Catholicism of considerably more vigor and spirituality than is generally attributed to the Reformation era. Certainly the author's thoughts on the importance of the new religious orders, humanism, and ecclesiastical globalization call for further reading and reflection. Curiously, this work, published by The Catholic University of America, was printed in China. One way or another, Francis Xavier was going to get there. It was only a matter of time.
Birely's book focuses on the Council of Trent, which occurred from 1545-1563,with many inactive years in between. Certainly the main object of the Council was to theologically distinguish traditional Catholic Christian teaching and practice compared to the Reformation. But on many issues, the Council fathers conceded that the Reformers'critique was completely on target, that the some of the Church, especially in the hierarchy of Rome, were engaging in decadent practices, such as clerical unchastity, warrior-popes, and the selling of indulgences, which are sacramentals, rather than the 7 sacraments, but all forbidden to be sold(simony) but donations would be accepted. However, more of the Council reasserted traditional teaching and practice, explicitly defending the content ofimmemorial doctrine, but this time with better, more up to date argumentation. Perhaps the most far-reaching concrete (in both senses of the term) result of the Counter Reformation was the seminary, the sequestered institution where would-be priests were, again in both senses of the term, indoctrinated, to more effectively teach the Faith, as opposed to the slip-shod previous regime of apprenticeship. Many of the practices and teachings of the Reformation were returned to Catholicism during the Vatican II council in the 1960's, especially those based directly on the Scriptures' description of the earliest years of the Church. Thus, the Catholic Church conceded many points raised by the Reformers, while lamenting that they had frozen into separate denominations, rather than an intra-family scrum.
On p. 68 Birely notes that the Roman Inquisition executed approx. 100 people in 200 years, and that is 100 too many, but negligible compared to the millions killed by atheist regimes in the 20th century. The Catholic heretical movement called Jansenism tried to out-purify Calvinism, but in stead called forth the so-called enlightenment, which is the foundation for today's secularism, which all Christian denominations have to struggle against.
Overall, I heartily recommend "The Refashioning of Catholicism, 1450-1700."