How Money Corrupted the Church
It is said that nature abhors a vacuum, and that was certainly the case in France in the sixteenth century. A long civil war led to a chaotic society. The emptiness of the age led both the king and the Church to seek to fill this emptiness with money and power.
Moreover, there was a need for both the state and the Church to protect themselves from this chaos, which they did in the form of mutually beneficial agreements. Church positions during this time were controlled by the king, whereas the Church enjoyed certain benefits as well.
People were not active in their faith, and when ordination could occur merely for asking for it, two distinct reactions came out of this period. The first was a lack of practice of faith among the people. Why would people practice their faith if they were not going to receive and spiritual support in their life.
The second reaction was one were authentic spiritualities arose in France too. Reformers among the clergy and the religious life, in the form of religious women and men developed a sincere quest for spirituality that became attractive to some.
While it took some time for its efforts to take effect, the Council of Trent, one of the most influential councils of the Church attempted to address these abuses. There was a recognition that practices like the ones in France were a problem. And both the Council of Trent, and those holy men and women who sought reform made a big difference.
While he may not have seen himself as a reformer, the writing and spirituality of Saint John Baptist de la Salle arises out of this need for reform. And it would be right to describe De La Salle as one of the architects of French Spirituality.
Questions to Ponder
What events of your life and in the world during the time you have been alive shaped how you see the world?
In what ways do the events of the world impact the students we serve?
What do you think Saint John Baptist de la Salle would address in the Church today?