Sunday, July 19, 2009

John Dee & Edward Kelley & the Spirit World: Pt 4-Background

When the crisis between the Protestant and Catholic viewpoints had begun there were calls for and ecumenical council. In 1518 Martin Luther had called for a council "against an ill-informed Pope." Catholic humanists, including Erasmus, Luis Vives and Pope Adrian VI, had also called for a council, mentioning the fact it was in line with the traditions of the Catholic Church. In 1524 Charles V made the same proposal. However, successive Popes, afraid of the diminishing of their authenticity tried to use tactics to delay this. Paul III tried to reform the church by setting up a "Council of Cardinals on Church Reform." In 1542 Cardinal Carafa reorganized the Roman Inquisition, whose horrific methods were to suppress 'heresy.' In the end all of these measures failed. There was a necessity of reforming the church. Pope Paul III finally held a Council at Trent (Trento), a strategic location since it was an imperial city on Italian territory. This turned into a series of three different councils at different times between 1545 and 1563. The councils discussions were surprisingly open and free, although the Protestants shunned them. The conclusions of the Council of Trent defined modern Catholicism.

They reaffirmed Catholic dogma, in particular on points rejected by the Protestants: tradition, as well as Holy Scripture, was a source of revelation and a criterion of faith. The Council condemned predestination and justification by faith. It also reconfirmed the necessity of all seven sacraments and declared that Christ was really present in the Eucharist; it declared that the Latin Vulgate was the official version of the Bible. It reaffirmed the Church's hierarchy and the authority of the Pope; it maintained the celibacy of the priesthood and forbade the accumulation of wealth. All forms of religious instruction must be carried out under the strict authority of the bishops. Bishops and priests must reside in their individual dioceses and parishes, now reorganized; and the members of the clergy must be trained in diocesan seminaries. To fight Protestanism, new religious orders were established as part of the restoration of Catholicism as conceived by the Pope. Spain witnessed a growth of mysticism, largely due to the influence of St. Teresa of Avila. This spiritual revival also helped launch the Society of Jesus, an order founded in Paris by the Spaniard Ignatius de Loyola. Loyola (1491-1556) had been born into a noble family. He saw combat and was seriously wounded by the French at the siege of Pamplona in 1521.

He withdrew to the monasteries of Monserrat and Manresa, where he began writing his spiritual Excercises, then left on a pilgrimage to Rome and the Holy Land. Loyola decided to devote his life to God, and studied at Salamenca and settled at the College of Montaigu in Paris. The Society of Jesus was born on 15 August 1534 in the little Montmartre Church in Paris where Ignatius Loyola and six of his fellow students met to take their vows. The group went to Rome, where in 1540 Pope Paul III recognized the new order as the armed champion of faith. The order added the vow of absolute obedience to the Pope in addition to the three traditional vows of chastity, poverty and obedience to the abbot. The studies to obtain admission into the order were difficult with their strict discipline and intellectual training, the Jesuits became the essential corps of the Catholic Counter-Reformation. The resurgence of the faith was continued by three great reforming Popes. Pius V put the Council's decisions into practice, Gregory XIII promoted religious education, and Sixtus V reorganized the central administration of the Church. These reforms enabled Catholicism to check the growth of Protestanism and recover much of the ground that it had lost.

The Company of Jesus had great success in Poland. Another Jesuit, Peter Carnisius had great influence on the restoration of Catholicism in Germany, France, Hungary and Bohemia. Lutheranism for now was limited to northern Germany and Scandinavia. Calvinism took hold in Switzerland, Holland, Scotland, England and western Germany. One post down and hopefully I can get two more done. I am trying to provide more background information to this era that John Dee lived in. Some of it may be very relevant to his story, like the sinking of the Spanish Armada, and some only tangential to the main topic. I just wanted to portray as complete a picture of the politics and religious differences of the time as I could-for these matters did end up having a great effect on Dee's life. Peace and be well! The image is a painting of the Council of Trent at the Santa Maria Maggiore Church.


Autumnforest said...

Wait a minute--the Catholic church forbade the accummulation of wealth--then where did they get those fancy churchs, golden goblets, ridiculous ornamentation? Hmm... p.s. Great series!

Devin said...

Hahaha -so glad you caught that one! I believe and this is by no means an anti Catholic people remark -as I believe all religions and practices of spirituality should be able to be freely practiced here in the US and JFK is one of my all time heroes-but the Catholic Church itself has one heckuva fancy set-up!!