Essay on The History of Catholicism an How Its Depicted

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The History of Catholicism an How Its Depicted The series of events which form the history of Catholicism in the mid sixteenth century are most often depicted as follows. A violent shock causes the very foundations of Christendom to tremble, and whole sections of the Church's ancient edifice are swallowed up in heresy. Her rulers then drag themselves from their lethal indifference; they determine to oppose the Protestant menace, and at last take steps that should have been taken long ago.

Such is the pattern implied by the word `counter-reformation.' The term, however, though common, is misleading: it cannot rightly be applied, logically or chronologically, to that sudden awakening as of a startled giant, that
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But the impetus which enabled herto join battle with her enemies was generated long before the Lutheran assault, and can in no way be considered a result of the upheaval caused by that event.

A general view of the history of the Church makes it clear that the sixteenth-century Catholic reform is not essentially different from other reforms, which have applied an irresistible law and thus serve as mile-stones on the road of time. The work of Cluny in the eleventh century, the achievements of St. Norbert, St. Bernard and others in the twelfth, the heroic undertakings of St. Francis and St. Dominic in the thirteenth -- all these monumental and unending labours are of the same spirit and the same significance as those accomplished by the Popes and the Fathers of Trent, and by the religious founders of that period. Here indeed we have one of the most permanent features of Christianity, one of the most certain evidences of its divine origin and of the reality of those promises which it claims to have received. For ever dragged downward by the weight of original sin, the baptized soul repeatedly falls back into darkness. Nevertheless, with equal regularity, there springs from her very depths, where primeval defilement cannot altogether mask, much less destroy, the supernatural resemblance, a force that impels her once more upward to light and life: a force whose name is Grace...

Whereas Protestantism marks a complete break in
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