Short Catechism of Church History - J. Oechtering

The Council of Trent 1545–1563

And Its Results

159. Q. What did the Church do to counteract the spread of Protestantism?

R. Pope Paul III. convened a general council at Trent, in Tyrol, in order to condemn these false doctrines and to establish practicable rules for the promotion of faith and morals.

160. Q. Did the council have good results?

R. Yes, the Council of Trent was so blessed in its work that since then a new life of sanctity, learning, and zeal has pervaded the Church. Great Popes and bishops like St. Pius V. and St. Charles Borromeo arose, and many new religious orders were established to promote Christian education and charity.

161. Q. Name some of these newly established orders.

R. 1) The Society of Jesus, which was founded in the year 1540 by St. Ignatius, formerly a Spanish knight. It gave to the Church a large number of men, illustrious for their sanctity and profound learning. It stemmed the flood of Protestant heresy in Europe, founded an admirable system of higher education, and sent out numerous missionaries to pagan countries.

The three greatest theologians of this age Bellarmine, Petavius and Suarez belonged to the Society of Jesus; so also St. Peter Canisius, the apostle of Germany, who saved the southern and western countries of the empire from Protestantism.

2) The Order of Capuchins  ( A.D. 1528), which had for its aim the practice of severe penance and poverty and missionary labors for the salvation of souls.

3) The Congregation of the Oratorians, which was founded by St. Philip Neri, the apostle of Rome.

4. The Congregation of St. Maurus, a branch of the Benedictine Order, which devoted itself to ecclesiastical studies, and produced great authors, like Mabillon, Montfaucon, Ruinart, and others.

5. The Order of the Discalced (bare-footed) Carmelites, established by the two seraphic saints of Spain, St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross.

6. The Congregation of the Passionists, founded by St. Paul of the Cross, devoted to the practice of penance, and to missionary work.

7. The Congregation of the Lazarists, or Priests of the Mission, and that of the Sisters of Charity. Both were founded by St. Vincent de Paul, the immortal hero of charity, who exhausted his life in continual works of spiritual and corporal mercy.

8. The Congregation of the Redemptorists, which was founded by St. Alphonsus Liguori, and became a great missionary order.

9. The following religious orders were founded to further the cause of Christian education: The Christian Brothers of Christian Schools, by St. John Baptiste de La Salle, who renounced wealth and earthly honors and bound himself by a solemn vow to rather beg his daily bread than give up the Christian training of youth; the Piarists, by St. Joseph Calasanctius; the Sisters of the Visitation, by St. Francis de Sales, bishop of Geneva, and St. Frances Chantal; the Ursuline Sisters, by St. Angela de Merici; the Sisters of Notre Dame, by St. Peter Fourier; the Sisters of Providence; the Sisters of St. Joseph  and many others.

162. Q. What other great consolation did God give to His Church during these times?

R. A wonderful and numerous array of Saints appeared during these times and consoled with the lustre of their holy lives the Church, the Spouse of Christ, who had been robbed of so many children and despoiled of her possessions by the apostasy in the sixteenth century.

163. Q. Name some of the prominent Saints.

R. St. Ignatius of Loyola, whose motto was: "All for the greater honor and glory of God;"

St. Francis Borgia, formerly grandee of Spain, who left the world and its vanity, to enter the Society of Jesus;

St. Francis Xavier, the great wonder-worker, who, brought thousands of heathens in India and Japan to Christ and died after a life of incessant apostolic labors a solitary death on the Island Sancian, looking toward China, which he had longed to convert;

St. Aloysius, St. Stanislaus and St. John Berchmans of the Society of Jesus, youths of angelic chastity;

St. Charles Borromeo, archbishop of Milan, a hero of charity, who gave his large inheritance to the poor, lived in voluntary poverty, and, during the great pestilence, became the father of the afflicted and the dying;

St. Philip Neri, burning with the love of God and with charity for suffering mankind;

St. Francis de Sales, bishop of Geneva, the saint of meekness, who converted 72,000 Calvinists and wrote Philothea, a famous book on Christian perfection;

St. Vincent de Paul, the apostle of mercy, who sold himself into slavery for the deliverance of others;

St. Teresa, a virgin of seraphic sanctity and wisdom, whose writings the Church has designated as heavenly; the mystery of the Cross had so imbued her great soul, that she prayed daily: "O Lord, either suffer or die;"

St. John of the Cross and St. Peter Alcantara, her countrymen and advisers;

St. John of God, who spent his life in works of heroic charity and died on his knees embracing the cross;

St. Alphonsus Liguori, the saint of the confessional.

On our own hemisphere, many martyrs in the Indian missions of North America; St. Rosa of Lima, in Peru; St. Francis Solanus, called the apostle of Peru; St. Louis Bertrand, who converted 150,000 Indians in New Granada; St. Peter Claver, apostle of the negroes; St. Thuribio, archbishop of Lima.

164. Q. How did God replace the losses which the Church suffered through the apostasy in the sixteenth century?

R. God raised up zealous missionaries who went to heathen lands and converted millions to the faith.

165. Q. Name some of these missionaries.

R. St. Francis Xavier, of the Society of Jesus, went to India and Japan, converted nations and kingdoms, and wrought many miracles. This work was successfully continued by other Jesuits, and the faith of the converts was so sincere and firm, that in the persecution of Japan more than a million suffered martyrdom with heroic fortitude.

In China the Jesuits Ricci, Schall, and their associates, obtained by their holiness and learning official recognition of the Catholic religion from the emperor, and erected a large number of churches.

In Mexico, where 20,000 human victims were yearly sacrificed on the altars of the false gods, Franciscan Fathers from Spain established the faith and brought peace and civilization to the poor Indians.

Franciscan Fathers became the pioneers of the cross also in New Mexico and California (Father Junipero). In North America Jesuits (Breboeuf, Jogues, Marquette, and others) labored among the savage Indian tribes, and many of them won the crown of martyrdom.

In South America the Jesuits converted the barbarian population of Paraguay and changed the wilderness into a prosperous country.

All over South America, Central America, and in the newly discovered regions of Africa, Franciscan, Dominican, and Jesuits missionaries evangelized the heathen inhabitants.

NOTE.—The apostasy in the sixteenth century, with the ensuing revolutions and wars, caused such a decline of religion and morality in the countries afflicted by it, that even Luther had to confess: "Under the Pope's rule, the people were mild and generous; but, under the new gospel, nobody will give, but the one cheats the other; and, the longer the gospel is preached, the more the people are sinking into avarice, pride, and luxury. Verily, the devil has got twice into them." Meanwhile, the Church of God, which the blasphemous apostate monk had pretended to reform, arose from the fire of affliction with renewed vigor, and stood forth as the immaculate Spouse of Christ, exalted by the sanctity, learning, and zeal of her children.