Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Counter-Reformation (also Catholic Reformation) denotes the period of Catholic revival from the pontificate of Pope Pius IV in 1560 to the close of the Thirty Years' War, 1648.
The Catholic Reformation was a comprehensive effort, comprised of five major elements:

  1. Doctrine

  2. Ecclesiastical or Structural Reconfiguration

  3. Religious Orders

  4. Spiritual Movements

  5. Political Dimensions

Such reforms included the foundation of seminaries for the proper training of priests in the spiritual life and the theological traditions of the Church, the reform of religious life by returning orders to their spiritual foundations, and new spiritual movements focusing on the devotional life and a personal relationship with Christ, including the Spanish mystics and the French school of spirituality.

Ecclesiastical or Structural Reconfiguration
Religious Orders
Spiritual Movements
Political Dimensions Counter-Reformation "Counter-Reformation" or "Catholic Reformation"

Main article: Council of Trent Reform
New religious orders were a fundamental part of this trend. Orders such as the Capuchins, Ursulines, Theatines, the Barnabites, and especially the Jesuits strengthened rural parishes, improved popular piety, helped to curb corruption within the church, and set examples that would be a strong impetus for Catholic renewal. The Theatines were an order of devoted priests who undertook to check the spread of heresy and contribute to a regeneration of the clergy. The Capuchins, an offshoot of the Franciscan order notable for their preaching and for their care for the poor and the sick, grew rapidly in both size and popularity. The Capuchin fathers were an order based on the imitation of Jesus' life as described by the Gospels. Capuchin-founded confraternities thus took special interest in the poor and lived austere lifestyles. These differing approaches were often complementary, as with the missions to rural areas poorly served by the existing parish structure. Members of orders active in overseas missionary expansionism expressed the view that the rural parishes, whose poor state of affairs contributed to the growth of Protestantism, often needed Christianizing as much as heathens of Asia and the Americas. The Ursulines focused on the special task of educating girls. Their devotion to the traditional works of mercy exemplifies the Catholic Reformations reaffirmation of salvation through faith and works, and firmly repudiated the sola scriptura of the Protestants emphasized by Lutherans and other Protestant sects. Not only did they make the Church more effective, they reaffirmed fundamental premises of the Medieval Church.
However, the Jesuits, founded by the Spanish nobleman and ex-soldier Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556), were the most effective of the new Catholic orders. His Societas de Jesus was founded in 1534 and received papal authorization in 1540 under Paul III. An heir to the devotional, observantine, and legalist traditions, the Jesuits organized their order along military lines, they strongly reflected the autocratic zeal of the period. Characterized by careful selection, rigorous training, and iron discipline, the worldliness of the Renaissance Church had no part in the new order. Loyola's masterwork Spiritual Exercises reflected the emphasis of handbooks characteristic of the earlier generation of Catholic reformers before the Reformation. The great psychological penetration that it conveyed was strongly reminiscent of devotionalism. However, the Jesuits are really the heirs to the observantine reform tradition, taking strong monastic vows of chastity, obedience, and poverty and setting an example that improved the effectiveness of the entire Church. They became preachers, confessors to monarchs and princes, and educators reminiscent of the humanist reformers, and their efforts are largely credited with stemming Protestantism in Poland, Bohemia, Hungary, southern Germany, France, and the Spanish Netherlands. They also strongly participated in the expansion of the Church in the Americas and Asia, conducting efforts in missionary activity that far outpaced even the aggressive Protestantism of the Calvinists. Even Loyola's biography contributed to the new emphasis on popular piety that had been waning under the eras of politically oriented popes such as Alexander VI and Leo X. After recovering from a severe battle wound, he took a vow to "serve only God and the Roman pontiff, His vicar on earth." Once again, the emphasis on the Pope is a key reaffirmation of the Medieval Church as the Council of Trent firmly defeated all attempts of Conciliarism, the belief that general councils of the church collectively were God's representative on earth, rather than the Pope. Firmly legitimizing the new role of the Pope as an absolute ruler strongly characteristic of the new age of absolutism ushered in by the sixteenth century, the Jesuits strongly contributed to the reinvigoration of the Counter-Reformation Church.

The orders
In addition, between 1512 and the 1560s a movement of evangelical Catholics of high-ranking member of the curia, called Spirituali, actively tried to reform the Church through reform of the individual. This movement was strong and significant era in the Church.

Spiritual Movements
The demand by the Council of Trent for simplicity in music in order that the words might be heard clearly placed a serious stumbling block in the path of the development of polyphony in the mid-16th Century.
The Council, in their Canon on Music to be used for the Mass, stated: All things should indeed be so ordered that the masses, whether they be celebrated with or without singing, may reach tranquilly into the ears and hearts of those who hear them, when everything is executed clearly and at the correct speed. In the case of those masses which are celebrated with singing and with organ, let nothing profane be intermingled, but only hymns and divine praises. The whole plan of singing should be constituted not to give empty pleasure to the ear, but in such a way that the words be clearly understood by all. And thus the hearts of listeners be drawn to desire of heavenly harmonies in the contemplation of the joys of the Blessed. They shall also banish from church all music that contains whether in the singing or in the organ playing things that are lascivious or impure.
While this was worded fairly vaguely, the intent was clear. Complex polyphony was no longer deemed acceptable by the Council.
Palestrina's musical mastery and his skill at word setting greatly affected the outcome of this difficult situation. By composing a six-part polyphonic mass, called the Missa Papae Marcelli (Pope Marcellus Mass), of 1555, Palestrina demonstrated that polyphony was compatible with the mandates of the Counter-Reformation. Using an economy of notes, the mass setting conveys its words with surprising clarity. This represented a marked shift from the composer's earlier compositions, which often paired a single syllable with long strings of notes, called melismas, which obscured the text. The new, tighter style (which did occasionally resort to homophony) was both shorter and more comprehensible to the worshipper. The Pope Marcellus Mass was believed since the late 16th century to have been instrumental in preventing the abolition of polyphony. Recent scholarship, however, shows that this mass was composed before the cardinals convened to discuss the ban (possibly as much as ten years before). The mass was not, therefore, solely responsible for "saving" Catholic church music, as is sometimes claimed. Still, Palestrina's music would become the model for future generations of Catholic composers, and it continues to be held as an exemplar for polyphonic clarity.
Like Palestrina, the Netherlandish composer Jacob de Kerle (1531/32-1591) also demonstrated to Council delegates that polyphony was capable of projecting the words in a coherent manner. It is quite possible that Kerle, not Palestrina, should be credited as the first "savior" of polyphony. Another composer, Vincenzo Ruffo (c. 1508-1587), also complied with the reforms of the Council of Trent. Ruffo devoted himself entirely to sacred music in the spirit of the Counter-Reformation. Ruffo, however, took a different approach by dispensing with polyphony in favor of composing chordal, or homophonic, mass settings. Later in life, he apparently grew dissatisfied with homophony and returned to polyphony.
After all of the debate during the third meeting of the Council of Trent, the council's solutions gave composers very little room for artistic expression. Composers such as Palestrina and Lasso would find other ways of expressing their sacred themes during the Counter-Reformation.
The Council of Trent brought about other changes in music: most notably developing the Missa Brevis, Lauda and "Spiritual Madrigal" (Madrigali Spirituali).

The inadvertent start of the scientific revolution

Pius II (1503)
Paul III (1534-1549)
Julius III (1550-55)
Paul IV (1555-59)
Pius IV (1559-65)
St. Pius V (1566-72)
Gregory XIII (1572-85)
Sixtus V (1585-90)
St. Ignatius of Loyola
St. Teresa of Avila
St. John of the Cross
St. Francis de Sales

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