This is the essay for the 3rd week of the Tom Woods Homeschool Western Civilization 2 course. In this blog post, I will be discussing four things:
1. How was the English Reformation different from the German Reformation?
2. What was St. Francis Xavier’s missionary work?
3. What kind of impression do the Spiritual Exercises leave?
4. Why is Ignatius concerned about careless discussion of faith and good works?
The first and most immediate difference between the English Reformation and the German Reformation is the person who started it. The English Reformation was started by King Henry VIII because he wanted a new wife. Henry didn’t want to spread Lutheranism into England, in fact, he was a Catholic his entire life. In 1522 he wrote a book called “In Defense of the Seven Sacraments” for which the Church gave him the title defender of the faith. Martin Luther on the other hand willingly spread Lutheranism and believed in it.
Henry’s then-current wife Catherine of Aragon had not given him any male heirs, only one female. Henry couldn’t divorce Catherine because the Church believes that any marriage has been joined by God and can’t be removed. Henry’s only solution was to get an annulment from the Church on the marriage. An annulment of a marriage is saying that the marriage was never a marriage, to begin with, because one of the requirements for the marriage was not met. Henry’s reason for receiving an annulment is because he married his brother’s widow, which is illegitimate. The exception to this rule is that the marriage is legitimate if the widow didn’t bear any children, which Catherine didn’t.
Henry was skeptical at his chances of receiving an annulment from the Catholic Church. The archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer advises Henry to only ask the annulment from the English church courts and bypass the Pope completely. Henry’s annulment works after which he starts to take more drastic measures. He has the parliament approve an act that cuts off all appeals from English courts to Rome, essentially abolishing the Pope’s authority in England. Henry used praemunire to get almost all of the English clergy on his side. Praemunire was a centuries-old law that was used when someone went to solve a dispute with a judge that wasn’t English. Henry said that the clergy was trying to solve the dispute using the Pope as the judge. In 1534 Henry was made the supreme head of the Church of England and a law was passed that says anyone who denies that the king is the supreme head of the Church of England will be killed.
Thomas Cromwell was a statesman who worked for Henry VIII and in 1536 he ordered that all monasteries should be suppressed and that all of their belongings would be confiscated. King Henry and Martin Luther both wanted monasteries to be suppressed and abolished. However, the difference between the two was why. Henry wanted to do it, so he could sell their possessions to allies he wanted to keep with him. Luther wanted to do it because he believed that monasteries were sinful. The reason that Henry VIII is the person who started the English reformation is that he removed Papal authority in England, which made it easier for Protestants to spread their ideas throughout England.
St. Francis Xavier was a missionary who was one of the founding members of the Society of Jesus, more commonly known as a Jesuit. The Jesuits are a Catholic religious order that accepts all the tasks that they are given by the Pope. King John III of Portugal asks Pope Paul III if he can send a few people to spread Christianity in Portugal’s overseas territories. Xavier is assigned this task and subsequently travels to India where he does most of his work. In India would get interpreters so he could talk to the locals of a village. He would teach them the basics of Christianity, such as the creed, the commandments, and what makes a good Christian and bad Christian. He also teaches the Indians what heaven and hell are and how you end up there. While staying at a village, he baptizes infants, prays for the sick, and translates the basics of Christianity into the village’s native language. When Xavier is about to leave a village he teaches the children how to teach the basics of Christianity to the other townsfolk. Xavier teaches the children because they have a stronger belief in Christianity than the adults.
The Spiritual Exercises was a book written by Ignatius of Loyola. It was a collection of rules that the Jesuit order had to follow. It details that the Jesuits must follow the orders of the Pope but also that they must praise a lot. The last few rules are about what the Jesuits should avoid doing, such as talking about predestination. This gives you the impression that the Jesuits must be loyal and knowledgeable, but also careful and precise about what they say. Why should the Jesuits have to be so careful about what they’re saying? It is so they don’t misinform the general public. Ignatius is especially cautious about faith and good works. For faith, Ignatius worries that if too much emphasis is put on faith, people will start to believe that faith comes no matter what. This is what the Protestants believe and Ignatius thinks that this will cause these people to write lazy and bad works.