Page 6, 28th February 1964

28th February 1964
Page 6
Page 6, 28th February 1964 — The Reformation in Retrospect

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The Reformation in Retrospect

IN The Reformation, Professor

Owen ( hadwick gives a clear and most interesting account of the great religious revolt in the sixteenth century, assessing with scrupulous fairness the religious causes and political movements that led up to it.

The Catholic reader may not go all the way with him. but he can go very far indeed. His judgment of the early reformers, particularly of Luther and Calvin, are sympathetic but not unduly so, and he does not hesitate to blame when necessary.

Particularly generous is his treatment of the Catholic Counter Reformation, which was chiefly the result of the efforts of the Council of Trent.

His account of the Reformation in England is equally unbiassed. In Saxony. where the Reformation began. it was at first a religious movement and then political, whereas in England as in ScandinaN is it was a political revolution with religious consequences. including the dissolution of the monasteries.

The grievances caused by this would not have been so great "if it could be shown that the endowments were diverted to truly national ends. Some were so diverted. In many more cases, the effect of the dissolutions was to put money and lands into the hands of the lay lords."

On page 14 we are told that "a cleric known to he guilty of homicide was seen to escape with a modest imprisonment on bread and water". This however must have been an extraordinary case outside the laws governing Benefit of the Clergy, although the author does not say so.

Criminal clerks undoubtedly were immured in the episcopal prisons or the monastic gaols. That these prisons were harsh places is certain. In 1314 a small band of wandering friars headed by a Dominican nailed up on the doors of St. Paul's a list of charges including the alleged enormities practised in the Dominican prisons, which were described as places fatal to human life owing to their THE REFORMATION (Pelican History of the Church, vol. 3) by Owen Chadwick (Penguin, 7s. 6d.) ROMAN CATHOLICISM AND THE BIBLE by Oliver Beguin (Lutterworth Press, 5s.) A PREACHER'S CONCORDANCE by P. Glasheen, O.M.I. (Thomas More Books, 30s.) LENT WITH EVELYN UNDERHILL ed. by G. P. Mellick Belshaw (Mowbrays, 6s.)

THE LIFE OF ST. BERNARD by Ailbe Luddy 0.-Cist. (Browne and Nolan. 10s.)

THE ECUMENICAL MOVEMENT by Norman Goodall (Oxford University Pfess, 21s.) insanitary conditions. and where the friars were persecuted until they became mad or committed suicide (see Bede Jarrett, The English Dominicans, p.134).

Throughout its 445 pages the book maintains its interest, making it difficult to lay it aside. On the last page "the word Reformation." the author tells us. "had in the England of 1660 acquired an ill-odour. For two centuries and more it had been a glorious or wistful word, a word of hope and idealism.

"Now at last it had 'lost its halo

. . Christendom was entering a new age. with other interests and inspirations from those of the six

teenth century." W.G

Roman Catholicism and the Bible originated as a document prepared in 1962 for the information of Bible Society Secretaries. It has been fairly fully supplemented with notes relating to the Second Vatican Council which. as everyone realises, is very important in this connection

The book is objective, and largely factual, and irenical all through: there is not a hint of an unkind thought anywhere, Perhaps more could have been said about the growth of Catholic biblical studies in France and Germany.

The author seems to focus primarily on the diffusion of biblical knowledge among the mass of the people, and no one would say that he was wrong in this. One noticeably Protestant trait comes out in the conviction that the kingdom of God is somehow realised by further and further distributions of Bibles, Despite this. the whole is a good study of the biblical renewal in the Church, as seen "from outside." One conclusion is clear: the biblical renewal has come to stay.

A second is that many regions, all the world over, know little or nothing at all about renewal or the Scriptures. Such ignorance is as saddening for Catholics as for the writer of this work.

The dust cover informs us that A Preacher's Concordance is the first Catholic concordance to appear for many years. Inevitably our minds go back to that of Kenelm Vaughan; and we prefer the old which is so much richer. so much fuller in texts, and so much better ordered as a book.

An unfortunate aspect of the present concordance is that it is intended to help priests who could and should help themselves by making their own text-collections from existing biblical concordances.

This is one more of the too many books calculated to make things easier for priests, rather than inducing them to work har der and go deeper. R.P.

Lent with Evelyn Underhill bears, naturally, no Catholic imprimatur but there is not a word in it that would not qualify for such approval. If there are any for whom Lent has not yet begun they could do much worse than take these well-chosen

extracts, one for each day of Lent, as short readings for meditation.

She had a gift for putting the deepest things in the simplest way.

With a constant insistence on the incarnational and sacramental dimensions of Christian mysticism, and on the place of the liturgy, she dwells throughout upon the immanence of God in the world and in us. "Human things can be very holy. full of God ... all life is engulfed in Him."

But she is always practical and warns constantly against "the folly of heroics."

No one, least of all a Cistercian. could write of St. Bernard without something of his tremendous• character coming through. And come through it does in The Life of SI. Bernard, a popular life of the saint by Fr. Luddy.

It will surely make people want to read the saint's own writings. But it is a pity that it is written in the style of by-gone hagiography; St. Bernard was a tempestuous character, with the faults of such a temperament. but for the author everything he does is perfectly right, and everyone who opposed him perfectly wrong.

In particular, less than justice is done to Abelard and Gilbert de le Porree. or indeed to modern research. and the story is told in rhetorical language which makes the whole life strangely implausible.

The Oxford University Press give us a second edition of Norman Goodall's useful The Ecumenical Movement, first published in 1961.

Written from the point of view of a member of the International Missionary Council it gives an account (with much useful information) that may redress the Catholic tendency to see the ecumenical movement too exclusively in terms of the more Catholic strand in it of Faith and Order.


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