Profile for Thomas J. Burns > Reviews

Browse

Thomas J. Burns' Profile

Customer Reviews: 154
Top Reviewer Ranking: 22,458
Helpful Votes: 2327




Community Features
Review Discussion Boards
Top Reviewers

Guidelines: Learn more about the ins and outs of Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Thomas J. Burns RSS Feed (Apopka, Florida USA)
(VINE VOICE)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-16
pixel
The Edge of Sadness (Loyola Classics)
The Edge of Sadness (Loyola Classics)
Price: $9.68

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Splendid Novel; A Sobering Timepiece, November 8, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
“The Edge of Sadness” by Edwin O’Connor is a 1961 fictional tale of Father Hugh Kennedy, a middle-aged pastor navigating his way in a parish strikingly similar to the cinematic St. Dominic’s of “Going My Way.” Father Kennedy, alas, does not have a Bing Crosby colleague in his rectory, but a newly ordained Polish curate who “drank the Kool-aid” in his 1950’s seminary and burst forward, bubbling with dedication and ambition but without a trace of Augustinian pessimism or realism about human nature. One might ask why a man of Father Kennedy ‘s seniority is exiled to the decaying St. Paul’s while his classmate and closest facsimile to a friend, Father John Carmody, enjoys the prestige of the high visibility of the city’s flagship St. Raymond.

The author has set us “in medias res” and it is only gradually that we learn Father Kennedy has returned from four years of alcoholic rehabilitation. In the book’s first person narrative Father Kennedy connects his surge of midlife consumption to the death of his own father, but a perceptive reader will probably pick up on earlier cues of exhaustion, spiritual difficulties, and probably mild depression or dysthymia. It is also fairly evident that Father Kennedy’s rehabilitation is not complete, psychologically or ecclesiastically. His enigmatic bishop has placed him at St. Paul’s to ease him back from his “disgrace” into the diocesan machinery. As far back as 1960 protecting the corporate image was never far from a bishop’s mind. St. Paul’s might be less work but its encroaching death as a viable parish can hardly be considered tonic for a wounded priest’s soul.

Any recovering alcoholic who has “worked the twelve steps” in the jargon of AA is intensely schooled in what the founders called “rigorous honesty.” Much of the cathartic drama of this work is Father Kennedy’s involvement with the Carmody clan, a family he has known from childhood and which produced his priestly classmate, the aforementioned Father John. Father Kennedy’s first halting steps back into diocesan social life are induced by the family’s warm welcome, but there is an agenda: the Carmody clan would today be labeled as dysfunctional, in that unique way that one word of truth from an outsider would bring it tumbling into utter chaos. Father Kennedy’s inability to speak the truth to this extended presence of a family in his life is his prolonged roadblock to spiritual and psychological wholeness.

The head of the Carmody clan is Charlie Carmody, the very working model of narcissism, self-absorption and cruel indifference to others. I often wish that seminaries today offered courses on dealing with S.O.B.’s. Every parish has them, and sacramental protocol over the years has kept priests and other parish ministers from protecting themselves from the personality disordered Catholic. Charlie Carmody has sucked the blood out of his entire family, and as we eventually learn, particularly from his priestly son. Father Kennedy is surprised at Charlie’s interest in his life and through much of the work the priest is left hanging, waiting for the other shoe. The naïve but sympathetic curate believes the crumbling parish is about to get a windfall for restoration, but the pastor, like a hardened detective, knows there is more to this story.

Not surprisingly it is multiple crises in the clan that leave an impact upon Father Kennedy. Having witnessed two Carmody denouements in rapid fire, he gradually rediscovers the better tenets of his rehabilitation. I would not say that he becomes a happier man, but his duties are less odious, his energies more observable, and he is able to talk to his bishop about his future with less of the defensiveness and caginess that so often marks chancery communications.

I must say that I fully agree with Ron Hansen’s 2005 introduction regarding the hero’s priestly life style. Virtually nowhere is there an extended episode of Father Kennedy exercising priestly ministry. Not a sermon, not a CYO dance, no mention of the content of meditation. (At the risk of sounding irreverent, Hugh Kennedy is the antithesis of the Andrew Greeley fictional priests of a later generation.) Hansen refers to this work as an American variation on the “Dark Night of the Soul” of St. John of the Cross, and he may be right.

It is certainly true that novelist Edwin O’Connor has knowingly or unknowingly hit the nail on the head regarding at least two facets of priestly life that remain true today. O’Connor was not a priest (nor did he drink) but his description of rectory life in 1960 is spot on, and is probably accurate today. Rectories are not “homes.” Big or small, they are institutions and extensions of the parish business, built for the convenience of the parish public. Rare is the priest who “stays home” on his day off.

The physical situation and lifestyle of the rectory opens the door to a second, and probably more critical, question, one that both Fathers Hugh Kennedy and John Carmody wrestle with throughout the book. Exactly who are they supposed to be? Kennedy, from every indication, undertook his early days of priesthood with serious dedication to the pastoral (and at times pathological) needs of his charges. Only too late did he discover the trap door of his lifestyle, that “parish needs” deplete the spirit while stealing the priest‘s necessary and restorative interior life. In short, a parish priest lives a lifestyle where his monastic side suffers from the demands of the marketplace.

It is worth noting that Vatican II opened just a few years after the publishing of this work. It would be satisfying to say that the contradictions underscored by O’Connor are a thing of the past. Recent research within the past five years finds that priests are happy—but, they distrust bishops, report significant difficulties with the laity, and prefer to live alone. Aside from its literary excellence, this work is a valuable timepiece that in many respects can be superimposed on our own times.


To Teach as Jesus Did
To Teach as Jesus Did
Price: $3.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Map the Terrain, Gather Intelligence before Issuing the Battle Command, October 28, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
“To Teach as Jesus Did” was released by the NCCB (now USCCB) in November, 1972; The document was the first effort of the American hierarchy to bring the attitudinal and pastoral dimensions of Vatican II into the United States Catholic educational schema. There are good intentions here, some strong endorsements, encouragement of creative ventures, occasional analyses of structural problems, recognition of changing times and escalating troubles. But as in most projects the devil is in the details, of which there are precious few in those particular areas of concern then and today: the increasing marginalization of religious belief and values from contemporary America.

I just happened to read “Young Catholic America: Emerging Adults In, Out of, and Gone from the Catholic Church” (2014) prior to reviewing this document. “Young Catholic America” is a magnificent research venture into the present day faith life of Catholic young adults (18-23); it is also one of most depressing glimpses of the failure of the Catholic formational effort, so much so that I got to wondering: could the bishops in 1972 have written (and more importantly, acted) in ways that might have averted or mitigated the estrangement of Catholic truth among the young, and their parents for that matter, who are also the product of the post-1972 era. In many, though not all instances, the answer is a qualified yes.

The opening of TTAJD expresses hope that all Catholic education will be judged on its success in bringing men (sic-sorry) to holiness. Its most famous paragraph is arguably 14, which establishes the three-legged stool of formation: (1) presentation of Christian truth (2) in a vibrant communal setting (3) toward an energetic life of service to the world. This formula survives to the present day as an organizational principle in Catholic education. The authors seem to understand the importance of parents in the formation of their children, and they discuss it at length. Remember that community and family based programming was still on the formative drafting table: old timers will remember the seminal catechetical work of Christiane Brusselmans, for example. It is interesting that the bishops cite the initiation sacraments and Penance as important moments of parental contact with the process (para. 25) and return to adult education in paras. 45-50.

Once entering pastoral waters, the bishops cannot avoid addressing parochial division regarding what we called then “the new theology.” (paras. 53-59) Think Common Core for a parallel. Those “vibrant communities” of para. 14 were presently agonizing over monumental liturgical and theological change. Figurative hand to hand combat, even in rectories, was not uncommon. A historical argument could be made that the greatest educational project of the twentieth century Church, the implementation of Vatican II, was a challenge for which few in the hierarchy or anywhere else were equipped to negotiate smoothly. A unity of parish faith and practice could no longer be assumed.

The bishops turned to the call and challenges facing Catholics in colleges (Catholic, private, state, commuter, etc.) at several juncture. Regarding younger students, the bishops make it clear that Catholic elementary and secondary schools are the preferred formative experience (para. 84). But by 1972 the crest of the Catholic school explosion was well along the way of subsiding. And here, I believe, is the most critical strategic shortcoming of the document, an absence of critical analysis of the sociology and business of institutional education. Based upon this document, one can only assume that the hierarchy had made up its mind to accept the exodus from Catholic schools as inevitable, impossible to stem or reverse. Lest we forget, this is a major paradigm shift from the 1880’s Plenary Council of bishops in Baltimore

This abdication put the bishops in the unenviable position of trumpeting the glories of CCD, which is one of the true “emperor’s new clothes” vignettes of contemporary American Catholic life. The bishops would logically have to argue that the formational professionalism of Catholic schools is matched successfully by after-school, weekend, or “released time” programs to justify their decision. (Even today the number of professionals who maintain this incredulous proposition continues to surprise me.) Thus the reader is treated to the supposition in para. 88 that one of the untapped advantages of CCD programs is their voluntary nature. As any unpaid religious education will tell you today, the only things voluntary are the instructor’s time and labor, and the poor attendance pattern of students. In 1972 the bishops called for a number of reforms yet to be acknowledged: Connectedness of CCD to Catholic schools (para. 93) including a call for “common funding;” development of parish educational centers (para. 94); funding for in-service training of religious education personnel and appropriate salaries for administrative positions (para. 97). In many instances, this would amount to a “dual system,” so to speak, of staff and buildings, which might lead a BDO consultant to ask in 1972, why not reinforce your system already in place rather than embark upon a costly bifurcation that stood little chance of success in the first place? In any event, the monies for both tracks were frequently woefully short of this call as forty years would show.

TTAJD is a testament to the influence of the unbridled hopes and creative enthusiasm of Catholic intellectuals of the left, some of whom were chronically disenchanted by the hegemony of the Catholic school systems. To a degree this includes religious teaching communities, and para. 146 questions why religious were leaving the teaching profession, specifically women religious! The document reports (concedes?) that most Catholic school education in the future would be conducted by the laity, and equally of note, that lay persons would eventually assume administrative positions (para. 147).

“To Teach as Jesus Did” and its multiple successors stand as an indispensible lesson for all pastoral documents: map the terrain and gather intelligence before announcing a battle plan. Piety, enthusiasm and hope are indispensible to the Church, but they are no excuse for the losses in “The Charge of the Light Brigade.”


Francis of Assisi: A New Biography
Francis of Assisi: A New Biography
by Augustine Thompson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.86
80 used & new from $15.57

5.0 out of 5 stars Right From The Beginning, October 22, 2014
It is not a stretch to say that Francis of Assisi was his own first interpreter- biographer. The Testament of a dying Francis, for example, is in actuality his own assessment of his life’s work for friars facing new challenges. (133ff.) Francis was the first of countless subsequent companions, friars, ecclesiastics, polemicists and hagiographers whose own needs and convictions have driven them to present the saint in a light sympathetic to their causes. The trend continues to this day: the hippie Francis, the eco-Francis, the Marxist Francis.

As interpretations mount up, the desire to recover the “kernel of truth” becomes keen; the twentieth century has been a fertile period of such reassessments. Recent times have seen “The Quest for the Historical Jesus,” no less. In most cases the human sketch that finally emerges from such enterprises is usually terse, unromantic, and even contradictory to long-held belief and devotional practice. The product rarely makes anyone happy. In our work at hand Augustine Thompson, O.P., does not make us euphoric over Francis of Assisi, but he stops the torrent of conflicting political and/or hagiographical information and gives a reader a fair shot at assessing what can be safely known of Francis of Assisi.

Thompson knows the Franciscan landscape very well. He himself is a Dominican friar; his order and his founder have taken some hits from Francis’s more enthusiastic chroniclers. With a few exceptions Thompson refrains from puncturing Franciscan balloons too enthusiastically. What he produces is a two part work. Section One is a 145-page biography of Francis drawn from what he considers to be the most reliable historical sources, those without gloss or contamination, to the degree that this is possible. Section Two is a 130-page focus on the sources and their contemporary assessments, from Paul Sabatier (1894) through Andre Vauchez (2009). In this section Thompson walks the reader back through the major segments of his biography, with editorial comments explaining omissions or conflicts.

Assuming here that the reader has some idea of the highlights of Francis’s life, Thompson tends to modify some of the characters and events of Francis’s early days and puts more of the drama, so to speak, with Francis. In one of his bolder forays (with which I have some discomfort) Thompson suggests that Francis was severely traumatized by his experience in the Perugia campaign and labored the rest of his life with what would appear to be PTSD, with symptoms of high stress and delusional thinking. In this reading, Pietro Bernardone, for example, is no longer a crass businessman but a father naturally worried about his son’s safety to the degree that he physically contains him in his own home.

As his biography continues, Francis appears to be suffering from ADHD as well: he is surprisingly unfocused, or at the least, very spontaneous. It would seem that his ambitions went no further than doing penance for his sins, hermit-like, in the regions of San Damiano, in a solitary ministry to lepers. But then, “the Lord gave me brothers.” The fact that anyone would wish to share his life came as quite a surprise, almost as a nuisance. Thompson is frank about Francis’s administrative abilities—he had none to speak of. All the same, Francis was no fool, either. From the vantage points of both spirituality and survival, he understood the wisdom of doing nothing without ecclesiastical approval, which he sought repeatedly. Thompson observes that Francis’s love of the breviary, care of churches, and particularly his love of priests and his deep devotion for the Eucharistic species have been disconcerting to contemporary Franciscans of a more progressive persuasion.

The “brothers” continued to grow in number but it is not particularly clear why. Thompson contends that most friars probably had very limited contact with Francis, if at all, given the latter’s extensive travel and other absences. The lack of supervision, very loose admission standards, and the absence of a formation program—matters of disciplinary concern in Rome—give evidence of a loosely governed fraternity. Thompson’s best guess is that the penitential life was the main attraction to Francis’s group. Penance for sin was a major parcel of medieval spirituality. Communities of penance were not uncommon.

Thompson believes that the most trustworthy of early sources do not emphasize Franciscan poverty quite to the degree we would expect. Francis himself, it seems, was more outraged by the avarice, clerical social-climbing, and seeking of papal privilege by the friars than he was about offenses regarding goods per se. If Thompson is correct, then the later “Spiritual Franciscans” with their interpretation of Francis’s evangelical poverty as the order’s cornerstone were indeed off the reservation. Thompson himself is successful overall in keeping his focus upon the historical Francis and not the controversies that began swirl before his death.

And yet, I do not believe that Thompson holds these controversies surrounding Francis, the Rule, and the subsequent direction of the Order as unrelated or inconsequential to the historical Francis. In rediscovering the original Francis (and every reader will have to judge the degree of success of this literary venture) the author has delineated Francis in his earthly sojourn from the great living organism that emerged around him and succeeding him.

Francis—what we know of him—was a catalyst, of this there is no denying. The author has no quarrel that I can see with developments in Franciscan self-understanding that have unfolded over eight centuries. Rather, his concern is that we attribute to Francis as accurately as we can what his lived values actually were, and from this point critique the direction of his successors, even today. Francis’s relationship with the Church is a good case in point—his respect for priests, his almost monastic fervor regarding the breviary, and his zeal for the Eucharist would tend to reinforce Bonaventure’s evaluation of the friars’ place in the ecclesiastical landscape.

Given Vatican II’s challenge to religious orders to “return to the founders” Thompson has provided devotees of Francis not “Little Flowers” but lasting cornerstones.


The Inner Life of Priests
The Inner Life of Priests
by Gerard J. McGlone
Edition: Paperback
Price: $17.50
41 used & new from $6.30

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If You Read One Book This Year On Church Reform...., October 3, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
At first glance reflections upon the current state of seminary screening and formation would seem directed to a rather specialized cohort—bishops, major superiors, seminary rectors and faculty, perhaps. But “The Inner Life of Priests” is a work of significant insight into a multitude of critical issues affecting the daily lives of dioceses and parishes as well as seminaries, probably more so. Gerald J. McClone, Ph.D. of St. John Vianney Treatment Center of Downingtown, Pennsylvania; and Len Sperry, M.D., of Florida Atlantic University, have collaborated on the state of psychology in priestly life from the first stirrings of a vocational call. They integrate Magisterial statements, history, Canon Law, current research on priestly life, notably the CARA study of American priests (2012) and the John Jay study on the sexual abuse of minors (2010). Their inclusion of actual case studies is intriguing. As the coup de grace the authors also lay out a psychological/theological framework uniting systematic and pastoral theological concerns in priestly formation, one of the most surprising successes of the work.

The authors begin with a brief but useful history of the complex relationship between psychology and the Catholic Church. The secular turn of the psychological discipline away from philosophy and toward the theories of personality developed by Freud and his disciples soured what had been a generally fruitful relationship. That said, Catholic priests, like the general public, manifested psychological disorders of mood, personality and substance use. In the 1930’s the Benedictine Thomas Vernor Moore began the first serious research into correlations between priesthood and particular illnesses, which in turn led to the implementation of psychological screening of seminary applicants—the specific history of methods and clinical results would in itself provide the meat of an entirely new work.

That the psychological screening of seminarians was unevenly practiced or insufficiently influential in priestly formation can be clearly seen in the 2010 John Jay Study, which the authors cite extensively. Commissioned in 2002 by the United States Conference of Bishops to assess the causes of clerical child abuse, the study notes that almost 10% of all American priests ordained in 1970, to cite one year, carried at least one credible allegation of abuse (p. 164). McClone and Sperry give substantial attention to recent Magisterial input into the overarching issue of the health of seminarians and ordained priests: in particular, John Paul II’s “I Will Give You Shepherds” (1992) and a less poetic but forceful statement from the Congregation of Catholic Education, “Guidelines for the Use of Psychology in the Admission and Formation of Candidates for the Priesthood.” (2008) One cannot read the latter without sensing the profound respect for the medical/psychological profession and its indispensible input into seminary training and beyond.

One of the great strengths of this work is its understanding of the link between seminary formation and the quality of priestly life. The authors are concerned about the health of priests in the field. The CARA study of American priests (published as “Same Call, Different Men” in 2012) indicates a preference among priests to live alone, significant distrust of bishops, and a variety of struggles with laity. McClone’s earlier studies noted that about 68% of clergy maintain genital abstinence in the present moment, eschewing consensual adult sexual involvement. (The 32% in sexual relationships divide evenly between heterosexual and homosexual.) The typical seminary applicant, most likely in his late 20’s, has learned his sexual template very much as his secular peers, from locker room talk to fumbling experimentation, which a fair number continue through seminary and priesthood. The obstinacy of seminarians and priests to hide difficulties and concerns from “authorities” or worse, from even the closest of friends, is a pattern of long standing.

Issues of celibacy are symptomatic of a deeper problem: the products of many seminaries, simply put, have not been able to effectively and humanely interact with people in any forum: from fellow priests to ecclesiastical authorities to parish staffs and boards, pulpit communication, and most troubling, personal pastoral interactions in confessional or counseling settings. An “affectation” of orthodoxy or traditional rites and devotions, for example, may be employed by such a seminary graduate to manipulate his way through a life that in truth frightens him to death.

Possibly the most imaginative and far reaching concept put forward by McClone and Sperry is the rethinking of “Christian Anthropology,” one of the first courses in graduate level seminary education. Put simply, a personal “anthropology” is the assessment we all make about the nature of humanity. Christian Anthropology introduces the reality of Revelation; thus a balanced Christian will carry with him mentally, to varying degree, a sense that all are created in the divine image. A healthy anthropology is capable of hope, life-giving interaction, guided fraternal correction, and the like. The authors are hopeful that psychological screening may take a more positive turn in determining which candidates are already carrying within themselves an evolving Christian Anthropology and the means to develop it. As the 2008 Vatican guideline notes, the search in seminaries (and in the Church at large) is for a man who will become “a bridge, not an obstacle…in meeting Jesus Christ.” {para. 2)

Everything written in this work applies to the growing body of lay ministers and professionals: the necessarily high standards of screening and formation; physical and emotional health; self control, healthy interpersonal socialization, transparency and openness between minister and all the baptized; academic excellence and curiosity, and an overarching optimism resting upon God’s power and the divine image in all people. Good intentions alone are not sufficient grounding for ministerial service. As an aside, perhaps McClone and Sperry done a service in this book to Catholics who have been wounded by administrative missteps of bishops and pastors, or maybe worst of all, by parish priests functioning in the internal forum of the Church (confessional or parlor) where the cleric’s poorly developed Christian Anthropology has impeded the salvific work of the Great High Priest. Not an excuse, certainly, but seeds of understanding.


The Early Church (The Penguin History of the Church) (v. 1)
The Early Church (The Penguin History of the Church) (v. 1)
by Henry Chadwick
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.24
169 used & new from $0.45

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Creed and a Church Take Shape., August 8, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Henry Chadwick’s “the Early Church” is the first of a remarkable seven volume series of the story of Christianity published by Penguin (originally Pelican) Press in England. This volume, first published in 1967 and revised in 1993, maintains present day relevance. Because of its broad sweep, the text is not drastically altered by recent discoveries or interpretations. Constantine’s “Donation” remain the fraud we studied generations ago. And, because the author has focused heavily upon the developing theology and creedal development of Christian identity, and drawn extensively on Christian Fathers and congenial classical authors and philosophers, there is an element of timelessness to the text.

Indeed, it is probably fair to say that Chadwick’s work could rightfully be called the history of the Christian ideal, because hard data of the early Christian era is hard to come by and is itself eclectic. We know, for example, that Christians worshipped next door to the Roman Emperor Diocletian, at least for a time, but we have no idea of Mary’s final residence or tomb. The author does not fill in the blanks but is comfortable working with what he has; his goal is the sketching the endurance of the Apostolic Tradition of belief, to the point where this unity is seriously and permanently breeched by the separation of Eastern and Western Churches, a somewhat vague era in post-Justinian times.

Chadwick begins with a survey of first century Christian relations with brother Jews, Gentiles, and the Roman Empire. But once the remarkably energetic Christian mission has settled into its own subsistence in the post apostolic era and established a basic order under strong bishops such as Ignatius of Antioch, Christianity became the object of both frontal assaults and interior dissentions. Romans, for example, beheld the Church as separatist and arrogant (and in tough times, unpatriotic.) Moreover, the monotheism of Christianity offended the sensitivities of religious Roman conservatives; this would remain a problem well past the time of Constantine. Internally the Church was beset by a multitude of variations on a theme: the difficulty in accepting a human Jesus in full divine communion with the Father. Gnostics and the followers of Marcion would attack Christian belief from remarkably different vantage points, but the concern remained the same.

The Christian apologist St. Justin, or Justin Martyr (c. 160) established a template of for both Christian apologetics and the development of doctrine. He and subsequent authors would emphasize the continuity of the Jewish Scripture with the identity and mission of Christ. But Justin and others were not uncomfortable using the same methodology of incorporating the enduring wisdom of classical pagan authors. Quite the opposite. Justin and many of the Church’s greatest subsequent thinkers, on through Jerome and Augustine centuries later, were products of classical education and saw in Plato, Socrates, Aristotle and others a natural wisdom, a searching or predisposition to the ultimate truth of the Christian God revealed in Jesus Christ.

The key problem, which Chadwick gradually articulates, is the reality of classical thought itself. There were significant conceptual and linguistic differences between the Platonic (idealistic) East and the Aristotelian (realist) west. Misunderstanding and clumsy translation was rife. A strong and unified Roman Empire might have prevented wholesale rending, and Constantine seemed to appreciate an emperor’s potential contribution to Christian unity in the face of the Arian heresy of the fourth century. All the same, Constantine divided the empire geographically, a move that would make a serious problem worse. Chadwick neither lionizes nor demonizes Constantine on the whole, but he contends that later emperors, beginning with Theodosius, were more problematic in Church life. Generally illiterate in complex theological matters, emperors were prey for opportunistic or outright heretical bishops, with the result that the voices of orthodox giants such as St. John Chrysostom could and would be silenced.

The division of the empire between Rome and the new Constantinople had one more significant impact upon the life of the Church which Chadwick examines in considerable detail, the rise of the monarchical papacy. With the weight of executive and military power shifted east, the Roman West would become a shadow of its old self. The sack of Rome by Alaric in 410 was such a profound religious and psychological event that St. Augustine was compelled to elaborate his “City of God” concept. And yet Rome possessed two irrefutable advantages: its long-held position in history as the mother church established by Peter himself under the aegis of Jesus’ own words (Matthew 16:18ff), and the very bones of the great Peter and Paul. (The importance of these relics is discussed in great length in volume two of this series.)

Thus Chadwick discusses in considerable length the two “Greats” of the papal succession, Leo and Gregory. Leo is perhaps best remembered for his dealings with Attila the Hun, an indication in itself of the power vacuum in the Roman west of the fifth century. But it is his historical intervention in the Council of Chalcedon (451 A.D.) which Chadwick finds as remarkable for its assumption of supreme teaching authority as its theological content. Leo asserts, almost casually, an authority over East and West, whether it be honored in the breech or not. A century later Gregory would exercise this authority in action, overseeing an ambitious missionary program to the north and west among newly arriving ethnic peoples and insuring a lasting Western Roman Church.

Chadwick does take note of some features of Christian art, sacramental worship, and the occasional anecdotal inclusion However, as noted above, this work is more of a study of the development of orthodox belief than a microscopic examination of day-to-day church life. There is inclusion of many names, places and philosophies that may be challenging, people and concepts critical for a time but now generally lost from our general historical consciousness. But all the same, the wonderment of the formulation and survival of the tenets of Christian faith is not obscured and the quest is certainly worth the effort.


Same Call, Different Men: The Evolution of the Priesthood since Vatican II
Same Call, Different Men: The Evolution of the Priesthood since Vatican II
by Mary Gautier
Edition: Paperback
Price: $19.68
52 used & new from $1.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Happy Men....But How Many and For How Long?, May 10, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
"Same Call, Different Men" is the summary of a national study of Catholic priests in the United States; it is the fifth in a series of such studies, but the first since the Abuse Crisis in 2002. The first study was commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in the late 1960's and undertaken by Father Andrew Greeley and the National Opinion Research Center (NORC), its findings released as "The American Catholic Priesthood Study" in 1970. Greeley's original work, conducted during the immediate unrest following Vatican II, surprised the US Church with its findings that, turmoil or not, priests on the whole were very happy men.

The original study did cause some discomfiture in other areas, and the USCCB was more than eager to pass the tradition to the National Federation of Priest Councils, who commissioned the eminent ecclesiologist Dean Hoge to undertake essentially the same questionnaire survey in 1985, 1993 and 2001. With Father Hoge's passing, the 2009 research was again undertaken by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), the preeminent Catholic research center for the past half century, with Mary Gautier, Paul Perl and Stephen J. Fichter authoring the summary at hand.

It is a tribute to Greeley and NORC that the base instrument has required very little retooling over the years despite considerable changes in the American ecclesial landscape. Given that this research series is now an almost half-century project, the present day researchers have identified four distinct generations of priests for the 2012 publication: (1) those ordained before Vatican II, generally now 80 or older; (2) Vatican II priests, roughly 48-75; (3) post-Vatican II priests, under 48, and (4) the so-called Millennials, ordained in this century. These cohorts are used throughout the commentary both statistically and in analyses.

The study surveyed about a thousand priests, with follow up interviews and forums involving select representative groupings. It identifies nine major areas of concern, beginning with aging. In the 1970 study, the median age of actively ministering or pre-retirement priests was 45; in this study the age is 59. Aging and shortages are on everyone's mind: a major concern from priests is the absence of time to learn the ropes; a 30 year-old pastor is no longer an anomaly.

The second section, satisfaction, replicates Greeley's findings of 1970, and in fact exceeds them. Satisfaction with the presbyteral life is quite remarkable. However, the enthusiasm for recruiting new vocations does lag behind statistically, as it has since 1970, as if to suggest that the life is not easy or that the future is uncertain for candidates who follow.

It is in sections three and six that "Same Call" reveals significantly troublesome news. Section three, on challenges to ministry, is indeed rather startling. A robust 68% report little confidence in their local diocesan bishops, and 60% express various levels of concern over the exercise of local church authority. The study puts a finer edge to these numbers in section six and seven, which both address the abuse problem and its effects. My sense is that the researchers went the extra mile to determine how the US presbyterate has weathered the last decade by the inclusion of extensive firsthand accounts from respondents into the text.

Regarding the scandal, there are two levels to consider, the individual and the corporate. Individual priests report everything from horror stories of false accusations to impeded ministry to rather intrusive new diocesan regulations. But the more pervasive unhappiness is the corporate sense that local priests are cleaning up their superiors' messes. Zero tolerance (as procedurally defined) and the Dallas Charter meet with considerable reservation, as priests questioned a "one size fits all" disciplinary and rehabilitation model. The researchers discovered considerable reluctance among respondents to voice concerns over jurisprudence at the risk of sounding insensitive toward victims' needs, which indeed they are not; all the same, the ongoing legal bunkering down of many bishops and diocesan corporations leave many priests feeling vulnerable and isolated.

Section five, on the unity of priests, explores among other things the issue of cultural diversity. I did a double take at the demographics: 51% of Millennials were born outside the United States, Canada, and Europe. The researchers set me straight that dependence upon foreign clergy is, well, as American as apple pie. Only between 1940 and 1960 did United States Catholicism produce enough homegrown priests to maintain itself. Again, there are many facets to this data; the varying degrees of difficulty experienced by missionary priests (and, candidly, many of their American congregations) are explored at some length. There is general agreement that programs of orientation to American life and worship are very uneven, nonexistent by some reports.

It is interesting to look for trends just below the radar in the cross section of responses. For example, the assumption of priestly-lay collaboration is de rigueur in modern parochial life. And yet the study reports that among major challenges to clergy, 53% report "unrealistic demands of laity" ahead of excessive workload at 50% and loneliness at 40%. Fully one-third report consistent conflicts with laity, Millennials score lowest in valuing lay collaboration, at 75%, and with work collaboration with women. Two things of note: despite uniform reports of overwork, there does not seem to be overwhelming evidence here that lay collaboration is universally hailed as a major mitigating factor in a priest's workload. It is possible that regarding lay ministry, "many are called but few are trained" and priests are frustrated with a disturbingly thin pool of competent collaborators. Secondly, there has been little research on the influx of women into administrative positions in chanceries, as chancellors or CEO's, department heads, Tribunal administrators, etc., and how they are perceived and evaluated by the clergy who must deal with them regularly. Are Millennials the less inhibited outliers in reporting this dynamic?

I bring special attention to a concluding essay by Monsignor Jeremiah McCarthy, "Reflections from a Former Seminary Rector," who brings extraordinary common sense, hope, and wisdom to this intriguing body of work.


Resurrection of the Messiah, The: A Narrative Commentary on the Resurrection Accounts in the Four Gospels
Resurrection of the Messiah, The: A Narrative Commentary on the Resurrection Accounts in the Four Gospels
by Francis J. Moloney
Edition: Paperback
Price: $17.18
25 used & new from $13.16

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Taking the Plunge into Resurrection Faith, April 22, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
As a graduate theology student in 1972 I took an elective called "The Resurrection" at the feet of a particularly demanding task master. During my oral exam I had to change my shirt three times, and a "Gentleman's C" seemed as attainable as a successful moon landing. That notwithstanding, the matter of this course not only destroyed the last vestige of my youthful religious constructs but opened to me a new paradigm for processing Scripture, faith experience, and history. That semester I entered into Resurrection wonder.

Thus I was more than pleased to discover Francis J. Moloney's 2013 work on the Resurrection, a work which has the benefit of four more decades of Scriptural research and reflection. The Resurrection texts of the four Evangelists are among the most creative and remarkable writings in the New Testament, and we do great injustice when we forget that there are four separate sequences; as with the Gospels in general, there is a catechetical trend toward harmonization which squeezes the richness out of each tradition.

In truth there is no "Resurrection account" in the New Testament or anywhere else. As my 1972 professor explained, there are two types of Easter narratives in the Gospels: the "empty tomb" tradition and the "appearances" tradition. No evangelist describes the moment Jesus came back to life. In his present day work Moloney devotes minimal attention to the empty tomb tradition on the grounds that it proves nothing; the absence of Jesus' body could have been mere theft, as the Jewish leaders and Pilate actually discuss in Matthew's text.

Moloney focuses on the theology of the various appearance stories, but only after he has laid basic groundwork for each Gospel, specifically the author's interpretation of the mind and acts of Jesus. The author’s method outlines the connection of each Passion narrative to the Resurrection account that follows. Not surprisingly he begins with the earliest Gospel, that of St. Mark, written around 70 CE and the template for those that would follow. Moloney is the author of a 2002 major commentary on Mark's Gospel, "a Passion narrative with a long introduction" as many scholars have called it, only partially in jest. Moloney understands this Gospel as a tale of human weakness addressed by Jesus' saving deeds.

Mark’s original Gospel contains a Resurrection text of a mere eight lines (16:1-8), and an empty tomb type at that; it is created whole cloth by the Evangelist to convey the continuing doubt and frailty of the followers Jesus had come to reconcile. Mark ends in confusion and disarray as the women at the tomb do the exact opposite of what they are instructed by the young man in a white robe: they run away and say nothing to anyone! This ending was so disconcerting that today's Bibles include two (possibly three) alternate endings by later inspired editors of the text

Matthew draws from Mark but expands the Resurrection accounts considerably. Matthew's overarching theme is that of Jesus as the New Moses, bringing the Hebrew Scripture to fulfillment. Matthew's text is apocalyptic, drawing from the later prophetic tradition of the raising of dead bones to new life. Again, taking considerable literary liberties, Matthew paints a stunning Good Friday motif, including an amazing report that immediately after Jesus' own death the graves opened and the dead of Jerusalem awoke, appearing to many after Jesus' Resurrection.

Luke (and eventually later John) gives the Christian reader an almost psychological taste of the struggle for Jesus' followers to believe he was raised in glory. For Luke, the cornerstone of his Resurrection narrative is the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Moloney underscores an obvious but often overlooked clue in the story: the disciples are walking away from Jerusalem, in the wrong direction. The narrative explains why: a failure to see the crucifixion as preordained by God in the great Hebrew books. Jesus, unrecognized, provides the theological key, but their eyes were opened only when Jesus broke bread with them. Clearly Luke is developing here a foundation for Christian life, the meeting of the risen Lord in sacramental action, as well as the role of the Holy Spirit

John's Gospel, written nearly a century after events, is renowned today for its emphasis upon the divine nature of Jesus. Moloney contrasts the death of Jesus to that of Lazarus. The Christian reader will recall that Lazarus, when called from the tomb, was bound and hooded. By contrast, when Peter and John enter Jesus' tomb, the burial cloths were "neatly folded." Lazarus had been resuscitated; Jesus passed or returned to his original glory. John's Resurrection sequence is busy: in one day Jesus ascends to glory and bequeaths the Spirit to the disciples sans Thomas.

The author of John's Gospel also dealt with the issue of faith, or lack thereof. Doubting Thomas was not the only guilty party. It is stunning that after the dramatic appearances in the upper room, Peter announces "I'm going fishing." (That is, I’m returning to my old life.) It is Emmaus repeated, with Peter this time heading in the wrong direction. John establishes the "beloved disciple" as the template for post-Resurrection faith while establishing Peter as the Shepherd of such believers.

What do the appearances of the Easter Jesus have in common? The author comments that all appearances inspired fear and awe, even among those who rejoiced at seeing him alive. All appearance stories note that Jesus was “changed,” a metamorphosis, to the point that he was unrecognizable to those of weak or little faith. There are indications that the faith among his followers was at least variable. But equally true is the effort of most evangelists to establish corporeal continuity between Jesus of Nazareth and the Risen Christ, through common meals and, in John's Gospel, the revealing of wounds.

In explaining what we do not know about the physical act of resurrection, Moloney has freed us to embrace the life of “those who have not seen and yet have believed.”


Western Society and the Church in the Middle Ages (The Penguin History of the Church) (v. 2)
Western Society and the Church in the Middle Ages (The Penguin History of the Church) (v. 2)
by R. W. Southern
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.89
126 used & new from $1.90

5.0 out of 5 stars From the Bones of Peter, March 9, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
A brief forward to this work is in order. R.W. Southern stands among England's finest historical scholars of the twentieth century and was knighted by the Queen in 1975. The publisher, Penguin, has worked to bring the best of the humanities to an inquisitive public for almost a century. Southern's medieval survey is thus an eminently readable text buttressed by a profound grasp of both trends and minutiae. Our work at hand is one of seven independent works in Penguin's history of the Church series. Southern's contribution was first published in 1970 and updated in 1990.

Historians are bringing more interdisciplinary tools to the study of medieval history, from climate to demographics to agriculture. Southern is the product of an earlier and more basic methodology, where the nexus of Church and Society stood as the interpretive key to an understanding of the times. I first read "Western Society and the Church" shortly after its original release in 1970. Reading it again in 2014 impressed upon me how compatible Southern's comprehensive overview stands with what we now know in greater detail about mystical movements, cold winters, trade, exploration, and plague, among other factors. Despite the wide sweep of his narrative, Southern's conclusions are drawn from meticulous examination of records, with useful numerical charts interspersed from time to time.

Southern treats of the years 800-1500 CE and the provenance of the Roman Catholic Church in that era. The title's phrasing of "Western Society and the Church" is a pregnant one. The organism of the Church and western society as a whole shared a common cosmology or world vision. Medieval man did indeed understand himself to be living in a "Middle Age" between the time of Christ's first and second coming. However, Southern's overview provides many instances where the major organs of the Church and western society were hardly of one mind, either.

Not surprisingly Southern devotes considerable attention to the changing Petrine ministry, which in 800 was not enjoying its finest hour. Besieged by Islam and other foreign peoples, belittled by Eastern Christianity from Constantinople, and its own house in disarray, Rome somehow maintained a religious and psychological hold in the popular mind. As reliquary of the bones of Peter, Rome and its successive bishops never entirely lost hold of mystery and supremacy in the early dark medieval era. In popular thought at the time, the pope was a living vicar of Peter. "Though men came to Rome in the first place to visit the (bones of the) Apostle, they prostrated themselves before the pope." (95)

What would maintain Church order through dark times, Southern implies, was an inner sense among men of the times that God's order (and wrath) was mediated by the Church. Fractiousness between clergy and laity was common, but fear of damnation trumped all. Only the most cynical of men would knowingly dismiss hell fire

And thus the Vicar of Peter became the Vicar of Christ. It did not hurt the cause that shrewd popes buttressed their positions with questionable emphases upon more ancient secular entitlements dating to the times of the Constantinian/Christian empire of the West. The heritage of Charlemagne and the forgery of the "Donation of Constantine" played their parts, but the permanent breech with the East may have been a deciding factor as well. Pontiffs such as Gregory VII came to understand their office as specific, detailed, and immediate. To speak anachronistically, popes became managers of a far flung bureaucracy of order and sanctification in what was now a Western European Roman Catholic venture.

By 1100 there was plenty for popes to do. The relationship between pastoral appointments (bishops and abbots, for example) and the attendant financial compensation became quite complex. The papal office became official arbiter over disputes between various parties, to the degree that the majority of high medieval popes were drawn from the legal profession. Southern describes a medieval Church of prelates, scribes and lawyers crisscrossing Western Europe in the name of the Pope with portfolios of litigation and judgment. It does not miss the author’s attention that the papacy was also the greatest broker of spiritual reward and punishment, specifically its powers of excommunication and redemption, the latter becoming a major target of reformers at the end of the era.

Southern contends that religious orders extended major spiritual and practical influence throughout the Middle Ages. In 800 the Benedictine Order, whose legacy would include spiritual efficacy, scholarship, good order, and physical enhancement of the environment, was at its apex. Southern proceeds to outline in some detail how the inevitable decline of fervor in a predominant order of the day would inspire the development of a new order to address developing contemporary concerns. As successors of the Benedictines, Southern identifies the Augustinians, the first medieval religious movement to embrace a generic rule derived directly from the Gospels as well as rigorous and moderate variants of daily life style. The next was the Cistercians, who sought to return to the letter and spirit of St. Benedict's rule. Their quest for purity and escape from the world led them to flee to the outer edges of Western Europe and consequently to develop these lands, a major social contribution. Southern sees the Franciscan and Dominican moments of the thirteenth century respectively as the Cistercian and Augustinian reforms for this later era of European society.

Southern's penultimate chapters is devoted to what he called he called the fringe orders; today we would think of these in part as the Beguines and the multitude of spontaneous mystical and devotional movements associated with the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. His final chapter, "A Confusion of Tongues," continues his account of spiritual diversification leading to early Protestant thought and practice.

The tenor of this book is what one would expect of the relaxed scholar/gentleman unfolding his description of this age with a profound but understandable style. He shares a lifetime of scholarship in an inviting way to those entering the Middle Ages for the first time.


Confirmation: How a Sacrament of God's Grace Became All about Us
Confirmation: How a Sacrament of God's Grace Became All about Us
by Timothy R. Gabrielli
Edition: Paperback
Price: $17.41
22 used & new from $11.65

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pelagius, Have You Risen From the Dead?, January 5, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
As an instructor of catechists in my home diocese, I am always on the lookout for new insights into sacraments and contemporary parochial life. The title of this work intrigued me and--call it an impulse buy--I dashed off my order with great hopes. Granted, there was a snarky edge in the subtitle that grated a bit, but the heart wants what the heart wants.

The heart's desires turned into mild heartburn. This proved to be a very lean book--83 pages of narrative text—and my first impression was akin to the late Father Andrew Greeley's observation years ago that too many Catholic books are less than one hundred pages long, including the pictures. (I always felt that was directed particularly at Henri Nouwen, but I digress.) Small books have their place, and their proper price, but Timothy Gabrielli addresses between these covers a multitude of critical questions that deserve much more attention than they got: the nature of the Holy Spirit in Church and human experience, the issue of sacramental formation and personal preparedness, and the entire question of Church initiation, period. Editorially speaking, his bibliography is quite good; alas, if only more of his sources had worked themselves into the narrative itself.

I give the author credit for his passion for his subject (or subjects), and I can sympathize with his contention that there are significant theological and practical confusions about the initiation sacraments, and further, that the ongoing faith formation of the young presents a rather bleak landscape in the U.S. (For example, no standard job description for "youth ministers" has ever been proposed by any Church authority of my acquaintance.) I would agree, too, that the use of developmental psychology in sacramental theorizing has often been superficial or even outright wrong; researchers today place the age of psychological maturity as late as 26, far outside the current Confirmational timelines, for example.

Gabrielli states that his literary intent here is to stoke conversation about the need for ecclesial and pneumatic priority in the celebration of Confirmation. (73) A constant feature of his critique of the "age of individual maturity" approach is a fear of Pelagius rising from the dead, so to speak, whereby the youthful candidate for Confirmation makes a self-generated utterance of personal control of his life, in isolation from the ecclesial assembly. It was not clear to me how this “Jean Paul Sartre model” squares with the "Confirmation as graduation from CCD" model, which is what most educators report to me. The author never quite addresses this polarity, either.

Much of this work resembles a historical essay in style. Gabrielli begins with a twentieth century survey of Confirmation and the initiation sequence. Specifically he begins with Pius X's "Quam Singulari" of 1910 as something of a game changer, for better or worse. "Quam Singulari" lowered the age of First Eucharist to about the age of seven, upsetting the practice of celebrating Confirmation at seven and First Communion at about 15. Pius thus opened the door to a necessary rethinking of the theology of Confirmation, which by 1960, the year of my own sixth grade Confirmation, was becoming an adolescent rite of passage. Gabrielli recalls the “Soldier of Christ" theology in which I was submersed, but also the lesser known identification of Confirmation with Catholic Action in the 1950's and later the Charismatic Movement of the 1960's.

Gabrielli's historical sweep is interesting but disturbing on two points. First, there is an enormous jump from 1910 to Vatican II. "Quam Singulari" was a stunning papal directive in its day, highly disturbing to even the Curia. There is nothing in this text to describe how the American Church coped with this new order post-1910, particularly how this change was received by the faithful in individual dioceses and parishes. Since the pressing pastoral need of the 2000's seems to be the need for a generally uniform theology and pastoral practice regarding the initiation into the Church of minors, at some point--well off in the future, I fear--a decision will need to be made regarding Confirmation and someone or some body will need to make the determination. To provide nebulous guides, as the current U.S. age range of 7-18, is simply kicking the can down the road.

A second concern is the author's apparent discomfort with the recent history of psychology as applied to pastoral discernment, specifically here the capacity of teenaged Confirmation candidates to make long term determinations. One does not need to fall back on Aquinas's nature/grace corrective. In present day Church discipline regarding the Sacrament of Marriage, for example, Tribunals routinely utilize psychological data to determine if the sacrament even exists in a given case. Even more to the point, our current practice in the Sacrament of Orders is to accept the self-judgment of a prospective candidate that God has called him to Orders. There is no true ecclesial “calling forth.”Here again in recent decades the Church depends heavily (or should!) upon psychological assessment of health and fitness of the candidate. Failure to do so has destroyed the childhoods of thousands of innocent Catholic minors as well as credibility and fiscal stability.

Gabrielli's final chapters review the programs of several American dioceses which have introduced the early childhood sequence of the three initiation sacraments (but without comment on reception of the faithful to such innovation.) He himself seems to opt for such a model, and he notes Benedict XVI's privately favorable comments to one American bishop who has implemented such a program. (This work was completed before the papacy of Francis, whose public emphases have not been directly liturgical.)

Given my reservations noted above, I do commend the author for his passion and candor, and I believe he met his goals of rolling a good sized log into the fires of Confirmation controversy. He actually has the making of three or four books from this relatively small text, and I hope he gets the opportunity to write them.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 14, 2015 8:42 AM PST


Trent: What Happened at the Council
Trent: What Happened at the Council
Price: $15.37

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Keeping the Bark Afloat, December 23, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
For the generations of us who experienced and implemented the teachings of the Council Vatican II (1962-1965), the "great before" was (and may still be) frequently defined as the Council of Trent (1547-1563). Much of what was seen as problematic in the 1960’s and beyond seemed traceable to the mandates of Trent, a Council convoked in a modest city in northern Italy. The term "Tridentine" became an enormous adjective umbrella covering all disputed issues of contemporary Church life, from justification by faith and confessional division to the communion cup and Mass in the vernacular.

Given this Tridentine baggage, so to speak, it is remarkable that until John O'Malley produced his remarkable one volume history of the Council of Trent, only one other history had been attempted, Hubert Jedin's four volume work of the mid twentieth century; of Jedin's labors, only the first two volumes were even translated into English. O'Malley's is thus the first full treatment of Trent available to English readers; all the better that it is a first rate, masterful synthesis of an event, an era actually, remarkable for both its fractiousness and it's unity of purpose.

Trent is remembered in today's catechetic as the Catholic response to the Reformation, but in truth several reform councils had preceded it, and at least one, Constance [1414-1418], had made matters more complicated by its assertion of Conciliar (bishops’ collective) authority in ending the Great Schism. Thus there was no enthusiasm for more councils among sixteenth century popes. The forces that prompted the Council of Trent included the Emperor Charles V, hopeful to stabilize his energetic and disruptive minority of German Lutheran subjects, fervent Catholic Spanish reformers, concern over a French nation drifting dangerously close to an independent Gallican Catholicism, and a widespread sense among Catholics in many sectors that Luther and his adherents were right about one indisputable fact: Catholic reform was needed at its head, specifically its bishops and particularly the papacy itself.

The decision to meet at Trent, a city poorly equipped to host a council, was a political one: Trent straddled the boundaries of the Papal States and the German Empire, then at odds. The almost insurmountable difficulties in opening the Council are chronicled in detail, but for all of that, the first session was remarkably fruitful, and its spadework was probably a primary reason that the Council lingered on through dangerously bleak future sessions. O'Malley describes the stage management of Trent as two-tiered; one track pursued the doctrinal issues of Protestant theology while the second examined Catholic Church discipline and order, particularly the issue of bishops residing within their own dioceses--a costly monetary reform for many of the Council's very participants. It is often forgotten than the first session debated, among other things, the terms by which Protestant leaders might participate in the Council's deliberations.

The Council had two major breaks--a second session in Bologna, a concession to creature comforts and accessibility of the city's university libraries, and the Pontificate of Paul IV (1555-1559). Paul suspended the Council, determined to prove that a pontiff was indeed capable of effecting reform without the dangers of Conciliarism. However, his reign proved to be excessive medicine. Paul's radical discipline led no less a loyal son of the Church, St. Peter Canisius himself, to decry the expansion of the Index of Forbidden Books.

O'Malley's discussion of the evolution of the Council from its 1547 opening to its 1562 third session is particularly enlightening. He observes that by 1562 it was no longer possible for a council to address Christian unity in terms of Luther and his issues. By the 1560’s Protestantism had many branches and many faces; a Protestant theological methodology was well developed along different lines from traditional Catholic scholasticism. Regrettable as this might be for the Council Fathers, the expansive challenge of critical doctrinal discussion was now far beyond their purview or even their endurance. Thus, the third session, masterfully directed by Cardinal Morone, moved exclusively to its second track, internal reform and strengthening of the Roman Church.

The Council's thinking and deliberation now focused upon the health of dioceses and parishes, particularly the above-mentioned matter of bishops attending to the pastoral care of their own sees. Not surprisingly, improved formulation of traditional Church teaching was generally endorsed but with greater emphasis upon priestly formation, preaching, elimination of superstition, and catechetical method. Emphasis upon greater lay reception of the sacraments, notably the Eucharist and Confession, was well received by the Fathers. In a number of matters, as in the questions regarding the vernacular, priestly celibacy and the communion cup, the Council specifically directed these matters to the Holy See for final deliberation.

O'Malley discusses the implementation of the Council after 1563, commenting that most of the implementation was indeed managed by successive popes, such as Pius V, who reformed the Missal still in use through the 1960’s. Much of what is today attributed to the Council of Trent is actually the Church's subsequent work in the spirit of that Council, a point of consideration for those who currently use the term "Spirit of Vatican II" in a pejorative way to critique recent generations of experimentation. In the author's view, the greatest legacy of Trent was the gradual awareness of the need for healthy parochial life, under the ministry, discipline, and example of residential bishops assisted by competent pastors. O'Malley's prime model here is St. Charles Borromeo, a conciliar participant who would become the embodiment of the Tridentine bishop.

The Council of Trent prefigured Vatican II in one sense—it concluded without hard and fast resolution of key issues; in the case of Vatican II, for example, the issues of artificial birth control and priestly celibacy come to mind. Trent did not meet the initial expectations of its proponents, but it did strengthen the structure of the Church to the degree that Catholicism was able to retain its integrity and structure until a new wave of reform was at hand.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-16