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Spiritualities In The Age Of Reformations: 1450–1700

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Sixteenth century was associate degree Age of Reformation. within the initial place, this implies that the century that witness the religious movement, that revolt from the Roman church led by Luther. In the late fourteenth century, Devotio Moderna, or the Modern Devotion, was a movement for spiritual reform, career for apostolic renewal through the find of real pious practices corresponding to humility, obedience, and ease of life. It began within the late fourteenth-century, mostly through the work of Gerard Groote, and flourished within the Low Countries and European nation in the fifteenth century, It is most familiar these days through its influence on Thomas à Kempis, the author of The Imitation of Christ, a book that established extremely powerful for hundreds of years. He shared with Christian humanists a high view of education to encourage a virtuous life; he also emphasized scripture because the basis of egoistic academic technique, the importance of individual ethical formation, and also the inculcation of a strong sense of community.

However, at the heart of Lutheran spirituality were common texts that embodied its values, such as the Augsburg Confession of 1530, Luther’s 1529 Small Catechism and after Luther’s death, at a time of greater doctrinal emphasis, The Book of Concord of 1580. The keys to authentic spirituality were, first, being clear about human sinfulness yet also about God’s generous forgiveness and, second, having regular access to the means of God’s grace – that is the scriptures and the sacraments. Although Luther had an interest in medieval mystical teachings, and taught a kind of mystical participation in Christ by faith, he rejected Neoplatonic mysticism with its emphasis on ‘‘ascent’’ away from material existence.

Martin Luther was influenced as a youth by the Brothers of the Common Life and entered the reformed Augustinian friars, becoming a professor of New Testament at Wittenberg. Apart from objecting to the sale of ‘‘spiritual goods,’’ Luther critiqued the notion that God’s forgiveness was influenced by human actions. Luther rejected a two-tier view of holiness (where special lifestyles were ‘‘superior’’) in favor of the holiness of the everyday life of work, family, and citizenship. Luther first provoked debate about reform when he reputedly posted ninety-five theses on the door of Wittenberg Castle Church in 1517.

John Calvin, unlike Luther, believed that the law of God was more than a matter of keeping human depravity under control. The moral teaching of the Bible also had a positive function in that there was a genuine process of spiritual growth or ‘‘sanctification’’ where the believer is drawn into Christ by the Holy Spirit. Calvin’s spirituality has three principle characteristics – it is in some sense mystical, it is corporate, and it is social. First, Calvin had a sense of a mystical union between the believer and Christ. On the one hand Calvin was an austere man both personally and in his preference for simple worship and dislike of complex hierarchies. At the same time, he had a positive view of human emotions and taught a heart-felt religiosity.

In some ways he shared with apophatic medieval mysticism a degree of scepticism about the capacity of the intellect to grasp the transcendence of God. As the Institutes suggest, true know ledge of God consists in a union of love. God is not merely judge but also gently attracts the believer. Second, Calvin’s spirituality is corporate. He had a high view of the Church. To be converted is to be received into the common life of the community. In one sense Calvin continued the work of the earlier Swiss reformer, Ulrich Zwingli (1484– 1531), but he was less individualistic and interiorized in his religiosity. He also differed from Zwingli in his theology of the Eucharist. Calvin inherited a pattern of quarterly celebrations of the Lord’s Supper but struggled unsuccessfully to have weekly celebrations in Geneva. While rejecting what he took to be the excessively material language of both Catholic and Lutheran positions, Calvin taught the notion of a ‘‘virtual presence’’ by which the power of Christ was united to the communicant by the work of the Spirit. Third, Calvin’s spirituality engaged strongly with society. Particularly in Geneva, spirituality became a public matter. Geneva was intended to be a Christian state in which citizen ship and spirituality infused each other.The role of magistrates and elders was to administer faithfully the covenant between God and Christian citizens. A moral and spiritual life touched all elements of existence – public and personal. Behind this lay a sense that the Spirit of God was at work in the world and in all human activities.

Second, the inner process of spiritual transformation led not to a purely interior spirituality but to an outward change of life based on a radical interpretation of New Testament teachings. First, adult faith rather than infant reception into the Church implied a voluntary process based on conversion with a related sense that God turned away no one who sincerely repented. Mainly because of their radical simplicity and refusal to support secular authority, the Anabaptists were severely persecuted by mainstream Protestants as well as by Catholics. However from around 1525 (the first recorded adult baptism) groups spread up and down the Rhine from Switzerland to the Netherlands with other pockets in Austria and Moravia.

In England, Puritanism enjoyed a brief period of ascendancy during the Commonwealth. After the restoration of the monarchy and the re-establishment of the Church of England, more Puritans left England for either the continent or North America and those that were left became a small minority in a variety of religious traditions that we now know as Congregationalist, Presbyterian, and Baptist. An important medium for communicating the spiritual life was preaching – often spiritually evocative as much as expository – but there was also a strong emphasis on regular personal prayer, bible study, and other spiritual reading, meditation, examination of conscience, and fasting. The great spiritual classic of Puritan literature, known to Catholics and Protestants alike, is John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress which portrays the Christian life as a journey or pilgrimage through trials, temptation, and tribulation towards union with Christ.

This belief in an Inner Light led to a number of characteristic Quaker spiritual emphases – each person’s direct experience of God, demanding personal holiness but obviating the need for sacraments, an emphasis on silent common worship (waiting on God), and a certain spiritual democracy.

The process was only established by the end of the seventeenth century. Although it may be argued that the key event in the Catholic Reformation was the Council of Trent in 1545–1563, this was dominated by doctrinal and dis ciplinary issues which makes it difficult to derive a clear sense from the Council of the spiritual agenda of Catholic reform.

Several new religious orders were founded with an emphasis on intellectual formation, an appreciation of humanist values, and a greater ability than the older orders to lead active lives spreading the Christian faith. A new style of clerical religious community emerged called Clerks Regular. The first groups included the Theatines and the Barnabites who continued to give priority to personal asceticism and prayer. However, the most radical of the new orders and the one most associated with the spirituality of the Catholic Reformation was the Society of Jesus, founded by Ignatius Loyola in 1540.

There is a substantial body of writing associated with Ignatius: The Constitutions of the Society of Jesus, elements of his Spiritual Diary which includes records of some of his mystical illuminations, his so-called Autobiography – a dictated (and probably carefully moderated) work that runs only up to 1538, and thousands of extant letters, many of them letters of spiritual guidance to a wide range of people and a rich source of insight into his spiritual wisdom.

He subsequently lived as a hermit at Manresa near Barcelona (1522–1523) where he experienced mystical insights, received spiritual guidance at the monastery of Montserrat, and learned the lessons of discernment as he slowly outgrew a tendency to excessive asceticism.The framework for his influential Spiritual Exercises was probably recorded at this time and further refined by subsequently guiding others.

Second, the inner process of spiritual transformation led not to a purely interior spirituality but to an outward change of life based on a radical interpretation of New Testament teachings. First, adult faith rather than infant reception into the Church implied a voluntary process based on conversion with a related sense that God turned away no one who sincerely repented.

However from around 1525 groups spread up and down the Rhine from Switzerland to the Netherlands with other pockets in Austria and Moravia. Mainly because of their radical simplicity and refusal to support secular authority, the Anabaptists were severely persecuted by mainstream Protestants as well as by Catholics. It was particularly influenced by John Tauler from whom Anabaptists drew and adapted teachings about the patient and trustful abandonment to God known as Gelassenheit. Fourth, belief that secular authority was corrupt, combined with a non-violent philosophy, led to a refusal to participate in public or military structures. The Lord’s Supper was viewed as a form of covenant renewal with each other and with Christ, celebrated in homes or in common buildings rather than in formal churches.

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The authority of the Bible was central but was set alongside the authority of Church tradition and reason, for example in the seminal writings of Richard Hooker during Elizabeth’s reign, On the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity. John’s writings are denser than Teresa’s and include mystical poetry of the highest order and systematic commentaries on the spiritual journey such as the Ascent of Mount Carmel, The Dark Night, The Spiritual Canticle, and the Living Flame of Love.

The spirituality of the Church of England that developed during the seventeenth century was undoubtedly shaped by the principles of the Continental reformers but also retained pre-Reformation elements and was prepared to use aspects of Catholic Reformation spirituality. An emphasis on the Cross of Christ at times suggested that God’s righteous judgment was held at bay by Christ taking upon himself the sins of the world but at other times the dominant image was God’s love revealed in Christ’s suffering.

Apart from Ignatian spirituality, the most striking spiritual movement of the Catholic Reformation was the reform of the Carmelite Order in Spain and its mystical teachings. The writings of Teresa of Avila (1515–1582) and John of the Cross (1542– 1591) are among the greatest classics of Western mystical literature. Both were strongly influenced by the Song of Songs and the tradition of spiritual marriage. Teresa of Avila was the initiator of the Spanish Carmelite reform movement in which John of the Cross came to share and which sought to return the order to its contemplative and semi-eremitical origins.

This new spiritual climate was disseminated through confraternities, sodalities, and the promotion of new devotions.15 One form was the Sodalities of Our Lady guided by the Jesuits and based on elements of Ignatian spirituality such as combining prayer and action and a daily examination of conscience. Sodalities were not narrowly devotional but were intended to inculcate a broad lay spirituality that combined personal spiritual development, collective support through meetings, and a significant amount of charitable action.

The absence of effective preachers was identified by Church authorities as a key reason for the success of Protestantism and so a major emphasis on preaching, both instructional and inviting personal conversion, became part of Catholic reform. Networks of sodalities spread across most European towns in Catholic countries and alongside these developed a tradition of personal spiritual guidance aimed at lay people. Apart from books of meditation and prayers, catechisms were created to match Protestant ones, for example the 1560 German catechism of the Jesuit Peter Canisius which went through two hundred editions during the sixteenth century.Their aim was the renewal of Catholic practice (for example by exhorting people to frequent communion) and a more general communication of key themes of belief and devotion.

In 1611 Be´rulle founded the French Oratory inspired by the Italian Oratory of Philip Neri – communities of priests without vows, engaged in a ministry of preaching, education, and the improvement of clergy standards. The two most theoretically developed traditions were associated with Pierre de Be´rulle 1575–1629, and with Francis de Sales 1567–1622 and Jeanne de Chantal 1572–1641. Seventeenth-century France saw a second outstanding wave of Catholic reform, influenced in part by elements of Ignatian spirituality and Carmelite mysticism but with flavors of its own. Be´rulle and his Oratory concentrated on the reform of the diocesan priesthood and also developed a school system that paralleled the Jesuits by whom he had been educated. He encouraged Catholic reform by means of popular preaching, by reforming the clergy and by developing an effective lay spirituality. Francis developed a deep friendship with Jeanne (or Jane) de Chantal, a widowed Baroness, who went on to found the Order of the Visitation.

While Jansenism and Quietism were both condemned, it seems fair to say that in some ways a moderate form of Jansenist moralism and penitential asceticism continued to influence much Roman Catholic spirituality into the twentieth century. Equally, Bossuet’s sympathy for moderate Jansenist viewpoints ensured that it was a moral, ascetical, and intellectual approach to spirituality that triumphed over the mystical. However, he was a close confidante of de Rance´ whose extremely penitential rather than mystical interpretation of the Cistercian tradition informed his reform of the Abbey of La Trappe.

We, I assume that we heard, watched and read about Martin Luther story who touched off the Protestant Reformation in 1517 on the grounds that the Church was in a condition of serious good and institutional rot and there was no expectation of genuine change. The Reformation time frame had carried the Catholic confidence to perhaps the most obscure second, a period of uncertainty and shadows, from which it developed fortified and restored.

I enjoy reading and studying the history of the Reformation. Such reading is rich in so many ways: encouraging, convicting, informing, and inspiring me. When finding out about the Reformation it is striking that its chiefs weren’t really hoping to make something new however to change something old. They cherished the congregation, and they needed to change it.Church individuals talk about what sorts of new things a congregation can do to be pertinent. The Reformers were thinking back to something old as opposed to something new, even in the midst of the cinders and doctrinal depravity of sixteenth century Roman Catholicism.

Christian present reality, we are considering Christianity to be it was shaped by the occasions and thoughts of the sixteenth seventeenth hundreds of years. Clearly things have changed some from that point forward, yet the thoughts of the Reformation time are still as alive and imperative as they were 500 years back. Our life, spirituality as a person and as a Church is reformed and developed by the events of this era, development or transformation is relevant to the Spirituality of the Church.

It is highly unlikely to comprehend the Reformation without understanding the thinking about the individuals who were there. The people or groups has always a place to remember that contributed a big part of the Church History. We live in a universe of sight and sound where we associate through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tiktok, Google and YouTube. Our every day lives are controlled by applications on tablets, cell phones, smart watches and practice gadgets— the limits among human and machine unknown as time passes.

As 21st century person, we live in a post-present day world — a dull world not with standing all the mechanical advances — a universe of relativism and Skepticism, where the old dependable standards are being raised doubt about and the old establishments are dissolving. Quite a bit of this is a response to the good faith of advancement which expressed that by utilizing our explanation and our faculties we can accomplish undeniable, target truth by getting behind the account and the story.

There is not, at this point a solitary edge of reference to assist us with getting ourselves and the world, rather we live in an organization of accounts and stories, each rivaling each other to characterize us and clarify our reality. In pretty much varying social statuses, regardless of whether legislative issues, reasoning, philosophy or morals, there is a reestablished valuation for account and story.

As anyone might expect, this returns us to Luther, who found the intensity of the story of God and His kin that supplanted the bogus protections and disintegrating establishments of his day. In our post-current world with its relativism and doubt, Luther’s attention on Scripture as personality molding story features the importance of the Reformation.

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