THE CHURCH CHRIST FOUNDED (10) – Christianity from 1500 to 1750 AD – The Catholic Reformation

One of the beautiful things about the Catholic Reformation was the rich variety of spiritualities that emerged and the rise of the different types of prayer and devotion.  Many of these came from the work of particular people who were later canonized as saints.

The Jesuits and Ignatian spirituality that came from St Ignatius of Loyola was a successful and powerful tool in the work of spiritual renewal. The Society of Jesus excelled in the field of education and the became the vanguard of the Church’s worldwide mission.  Another notable Jesuit saint was the patron of missions, Saint Francis Xavier.  By the time St Ignatius of Loyola died in 1556, the Jesuits had evangelized nearly every European nation and also spread their evangelical effort to Japan, Brazil, Ethiopia and Central America.  St Francis Xavier further expanded to India, Malaysia, Vietnam. He died at Shang Chuan Island in the south of China, while trying to bring the Gospel into the country. 

The Spanish Mystic St Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church, gave an impetus to the mystical tradition of Carmelite spirituality and was responsible for the reformation of the common life order in Spain.  St Teresa of Avila’s spirituality talks about spiritual marriage, mystical communion with Christ, and how this is possible for everyone. 

St Phillip Neri was known as the “Second Apostle of Rome” and the founder of the Oratory movement.  The movement was not merely a clerical order; it was a less formal structured type of religious life or community Christian life that seeks holiness. Mixing laypeople and clergy, they would meet together, pray together, study the Scriptures together and do particular ministry together, for the deepening of their Christian calling. 

The Catholic Reformation witnessed an explosion in personal holiness, religious life and the foundation of new orders and spirituality.  As the principle Ecclesia semper reformanda (the Church is always reforming or renewing herself by the power of the Spirit).  With the grace of God, these four great saints of the Catholic Reformation were canonized on 12th March 1622. They are proof that the Catholic Church is constantly being renewed and reformed.