Saturday, November 04, 2017

Borromeo: Epitomy of Trent

Ironic some celebrated the Protestant Reformation at the beginning of the week, today Holy Church celebrates Saint Charles Borromeo (1538-1584).

After the terrible period of depraved Popes and decadent churchmen there arose men like Borromeo. It must have appeared that Christ and his saints slept, I am sure many good Christians were brought near despair, then as if from the tomb Christ awoke.
"What good thing came out of the Protestant Reformation: why - the Glorious Counter-Reformation", as one Oxford preacher said a decade or two ago.

This is no idle Catholic boast, it is not just about art an architecture, it is about 'holiness'. I can't help thinking about the young Seminary Priests, leaving Rome where they might well have met St Philip Neri, St Ignatius of Loyola, St Francis Xavier perhaps, St Paul of the Cross, many travelled up through Italy to call in to see Borromeo, many would made a detour to Geneva to receive the blessing of St Francis De Salles, before coming to England or other parts of Europe to suffer death and reveal their own heroic sanctity.

In there northward journey one suspects like sought like and they would have sought out and been sought by other holy men. St Charles however seemed to hold a special place, he seemed even for his contemporaries to epitomise the Council of Trent held between 1545 and 1563, he was the model of a reforming post-Trent bishop.

There is much that Trent did but like other Councils it was expected to produce fruit, not just peace to a troubled, disunited and confused Church but also to produce a new flourishing in the Church's mission and her structures, ultimately holy men and women.

I am not sure that Vatican II, or even the foreshortened Vatican I, has produced the same fruit as Trent, there appear to be less flourishing, less saintly men and women, less zealous priests and bishops and less clear thinking members of the Papal Court than there were once.

Perhaps it is too early to tell.

3 comments:

David O'Neill said...

Well, Father, it certainly appears that Vatican 2 produced changes but we are sorely in need of a new Pst Vatican 2 renewal just to keep the Church together.

Kirt Higdon said...

The post Vatican I era produced a lot of saints, some of them recognized only relatively recently. These include martyrs of the Spanish and the Mexican revolutions and martyrs of the Chinese Boxer rebellion, as well as non-martyrs. Even the post-Vatican II era has produced some canonized saints and I am certain that many more from both periods will be recognized in the future. I think saints are almost bound to be controversial in one respect or another, but it is unfortunate that many Catholics seem to take the position that any recently canonized saint didn't really deserve it.

Physiocrat said...

There is another narrative which could help us to understand the current problem - that of "Constantinople".

Our own understanding of the papacy, as an ecclesiastical monarchy, sits on our interpretation of Matthew 16:18, backed up by contested accounts of history. The Orthodox can produce a strong argument for a different view. Whatever the divisions within Orthodoxy, it has preserved, wholly intact, a worthy liturgy, and as it is said, Lex orandi, lex credendi.

It has also produced a rich harvest of saints and martyrs under a succession of persecutions from Islam and Communism, continuing up to the present time.

We owe it to ourselves at least to hear that alternative.