Session 9: Tensions Within the Church

Session 9 Tensions Within the Church
Eastern and Western Christianity divided in 1054. The East continued to develop in its distinct way after the schism.

We will do an overview of the development of monasticism and popular religious devotion between 1000 and 1300.


At the end of this lesson, participants should
• describe the growing estrangement between East and West and list reasons for the schism

• know and understand the events that shaped the development and reforms in monasticism • understand the people involved—such as Bernard, Francis, Clare, Dominic—and identify their various contributions

• know the difference between the various types of mendicant orders and other new orders in the time period

• contrast monks and their work to the pastoral ministry of the regular canons • compare the Franciscans to their own denomination’s goals and methods

A. Read: Shelley, Church History in Plain Language, chapters 21
            Write a Big Idea paragraph from your reading.

B. Read the following articles and give a one paragraph answer to the question asked.
            1. The Schism:East and West Go Their Separate Ways
                        What do you see as the biggest obstacle the church faced to remain united?
2. Monasticism and Spirituality
                        “What does this mean for me and for others as we attempt to live out the Christian
                        life together?”
            3.Monks and Clergy
                        How would a Franciscan describe holiness?

C. Write in your journal. Reflect on and respond to the following:  

The Schism: East and West Go Their Separate Ways

The factors that led to the division between the Roman and Eastern churches had been centuries in the making. The issues were ones not only of church practice and theology but also of culture and politics. The Muslim invasions in the 600s and 700s weakened the Eastern churches. The Muslims also brought particular theological issues regarding idolatry and the Trinity to the forefront.

Factors Leading to and Sealing the Schism—1054

Refer to Resource 9-1 in the Student Guide.

In retrospect, the schism between the Eastern and Western churches was likely from the time that Constantine moved the capital of the empire from Rome to the East in 330. The Roman Empire was divided in 395. Various other issues over the next seven centuries heightened tensions leading to schism.

By 190, Latin rather than Greek was used in the Roman Church. By 450 few in the West spoke Greek, and by 600 few in the East spoke Latin.

Generally, the East was more Johannine, the West more Pauline; the East more mystical, the West more practical and legalistic. The East talked of union with God and the “deification” of humanity; the West talked of communion and redemption.

The bishop in Rome claimed primacy from the time of Pope Damasus (366-384) and Pope Leo I (440-461). But this was never accepted among the other principal sees of Christendom, including the important Eastern ones of Antioch and Alexandria. The East espoused a “pentarchy” made up of five patriarchs, rather than a papacy.

In the East, the patriarch was subservient to the emperor—called Caesaropapism. In the West, the pope gained more and more authority over secular rulers.

The requirement that priests be celibate was common—though not universal—in the West from about 385, but not in the East. The Eastern Church required only that bishops be celibate, not priests. At the same time, priests in the East wore beards, and those in the West typically did not.

Another differing practice was that unleavened bread was used in the West during the Lord’s Supper, but the East used leavened bread.

In the East the Monophysite tendencies to deny the full incarnation or humanity of Christ had led to the schism of 484, when Pope Felix excommunicated the patriarch of Constantinople. This lasted until 518, when the East reaccepted the common creeds of the church.

However, the filioque phrase in the Nicene Creed, that the Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son, remained a point of contention. The West used the phrase only when it began to recite routinely the Nicene Creed in the liturgy of the Lord’s Supper from about 590. The phrase was not used at all in the Eastern Church.

One debate that concerned the Eastern Church was the monothelite controversy, or “monergism.” In an attempt to win over the many Monophysites remaining in the East, Patriarch Sergius (d. 638) used the term “activity” or “energy” to speak of the single nature or person of Christ. Finding opposition to this teaching, Sergius, in consultation with Pope Honorius I—who served from 625 to 638—dropped the phrase and substituted it with “monothelite,” that Christ possessed one single will. But by now the Monophysite churches in the East were under Muslims, and the issue became less crucial.

Nonetheless, the Sixth Ecumenical Council (Constantinople, 680–681) condemned monothelitism and its supporters. It favored the understanding of two wills in Christ, still bound in a single “hypostasis.” The Sixth Council thus condemned the views of Pope Honorius. Later this became an argument against the doctrine of papal infallibility.

From the 600s and 700s, relations between the East and the West were complicated by Islam, which slowed direct communication. Bearing in mind their Islamic neighbors’ views against images of God, there were many in the Eastern Church who opposed icons. The physical representation of Christ became problematic. In 756 Emperor Leo III ordered the destruction of an image of Christ.

The Seventh Ecumenical Council, which met in Nicea in 787, dealt with the practice of venerating icons. The West, which used statues and images of the saints, opposed iconoclasm. Those who supported the use of icons noted that they were not worshiping the object, only venerating it. 

The Incarnation, supporters affirmed, implied that God revealed himself through matter. The church must beware of Gnostic and Manichaean dualism, the view that matter is evil. The purpose of icons was to teach and remind the faithful of the great events of salvation, supporters of icons believed. The council condemned iconoclasm, thus upholding the use of icons. Yet, in spite of this, many in the Eastern Church opposed icons. 

In 858 Emperor Michael deposed Ignatius as patriarch of Constantinople and installed Photius (810-895). However Ignatius refused to abdicate. Michael and Photius called upon the pope to convene a council in Constantinople to decide between the two patriarchs and to further debate the issue of icons. 

The pope’s representatives to the Constantinople Council in 861 agreed to the installation of Photius as patriarch. At a synod at Rome in 863, however, the pope annulled the decisions of the 861 Council, declared Ignatius still the patriarch, and deposed all priests supporting Photius. 

Meanwhile, Photius denounced the presence of Latin missionaries in the East, particularly in Bulgaria, the filioque clause of the Latin creed, and the primacy of Rome. In 867 a council called by the Eastern church excommunicated the pope himself. However, Michael assassinated the new Emperor, Basil, who favored Ignatius. 

This effected reconciliation with the West. Photius became patriarch when Ignatius died in 877. His accession was approved by the pope. A new emperor, however, in 892, deposed Photius, again revealing the power of the state over the church in the East and igniting tensions with the West. 

The final schism came in 1054 when the pope’s delegate to the East, Cardinal Humbert, placed a sentence of excommunication upon the patriarch on the high altar of the Saint Sophia Cathedral in Constantinople.

Further Developments in the East

Refer to Resource 9-2 in the Student Guide.

From earliest times, monasticism was deeply imbedded in the East. Monasticism was a reaction, a response to state acceptance of Christianity. It maintained a sense that self-denial, seclusion, and martyrdom accompanied what it meant to be a Christian.

Eastern monks were responsible for evangelizing the Slavs. In their attempts to convert the Slavs, Brothers Methodius (815-885) and Cyril (826-869) developed an alphabet. They emphasized the vernacular, the translatability of the gospel. The “civilizing” of the Slavs inseparably accompanied their Christianization. The Bulgarian Czar, Boris, was baptized in 864. Almost immediately, the church in Bulgaria faced a heretical sect, called Bobomilism, which mingled Christian teachings with Manichaeanism.

The Eastern Church favorably impressed Emperor Vladimir of Russia, who was looking for a religion to unify his realm, and sent emissaries to look over the various religions. In 988 Vladimir was baptized. He established Christianity as the official religion of Russia and brought priests from the Byzantine or Eastern Empire, who took with them their liturgy and practices. At first the liturgy of the Russian church was in Slavic.

Early Russian theology interpreted the Bible as a vast allegory. Two centuries later, the Mongol conquest left the Russian Church in chaos and ended much theological discourse. But gradually Moscow gained ascendancy. Eastern Orthodoxy became the symbol of Russian unity and nationalism. Russia saw itself as the heir of Constantinople, and hence, Rome. Monasticism flourished. But there were no new theological movements, only legends about the saints. In some places there were reversions to pre-Christian practices of confessing sins to the earth. 

When the Eastern and Western churches finally separated in 1054, the church in Russia became the center of Eastern Orthodoxy. Though Russia maintained traditions and hagiographic legends, the Bible itself only barely survived, and it was mixed with apocryphal and pagan literature. 

As these churches developed, the Eastern system of having ecclesiologically “autocephalous” or national churches took form. Each national church had its own leaders and hierarchy, and each was responsible to secular rulers.      

In 1204 the Fourth Crusade of the West, which was supposed to fight the Muslims, instead turned against the Eastern Church. Western rulers set up a Latin kingdom. Only in 1261 did Emperor Michael VIII, who reigned from 1259 to 1282, recover Constantinople from the Western powers. 

Yet the Eastern Church continued to face the peril of Muslim Turks, and Michael sought the support and protection of the Papacy. In this context, the Council of Lyons was called in 1274 to attempt reunion. The Eastern Church, under pressure, recognized papal claims and agreed to recite the Nicene Creed using the filioque clause. However, the Eastern laity and priests never accepted the council’s decisions, and Michael was condemned as a heretic and apostate, and refused a Christian burial. 

While the West continued to develop theologically, the East drew upon the ancient Greek Fathers. Eastern theology placed emphasis on the mystical life to be found in Christ and the sacraments. The East stressed two ways of seeking to know God: the Way of Negation and the Way of Union. The Way of Negation spoke of God in negative terms. God cannot really be apprehended by human thought. God was incomprehensible. This way emphasized God’s transcendence.

The Way of Union was the means of quietness—Greek hesychia. It offered immediate knowledge of God in personal union. This way could be entered through prayer, which was an act of the whole person—body as well as soul and spirit. A “prayer of the heart” filled one’s entire consciousness. The “Jesus Prayer,” which was simply, “Lord Jesus Christ Son of God, have mercy on me,” was linked to bodily postures and breathing techniques. Those praying were to fix their eyes on their hearts. This was thought to help concentration. The culmination of the prayer was a vision of heavenly light.

Behind this practice was a hesychast theology that emerged from the monastic movement in the East, especially those situated at Mount Athos. Hesychasm emphasized that men and women were single, united wholes. The body was not an enemy, but a partner and collaborator with the soul, just as Christ took human flesh and saved the whole person, body as well as spirit. So all who pray to Him may experience his “energy.”

God himself enters into immediate relation with humankind. It is the grace of God imparted, a direct manifestation of the living God. “Saints” are as all Christians may be, “deified” by their experience with God. God remained “wholly other,” while at the same time, immanent.

Hesychasm was attacked from the West by Barlaam, a monk from Calabria, who said that God cannot be known immediately, but only mediately. Barlaam accused the East of holding to a materialistic view of prayer.

Gregory Palamas (1296-1359), archbishop of Thessalonica—after 1347—defended Hesychasm. He agreed that in prayer persons cannot experience the essence (ousia) of God, but they may experience the “energy” of God. Gregory’s position was ratified by Eastern councils of 1341 and 1351—both held at Constantinople. The Eastern Church considers these the Eighth and Ninth Ecumenical Councils.

Last Attempts to Restore Unity

The Council of Florence, which met 1438 to 1439 to attempt reunion, also met under the Eastern Church’s pressure from the Muslims. The council reaffirmed the West’s commitment to both the objectionable filioque clause and the supremacy of the Papacy.

The council was attended by both the Eastern emperor and patriarch. The East accepted papal claims—though left ambiguous whatever powers were attached to this—and the filioque clause of the Nicene Creed.

The Western Church allowed the East to continue some of its customs, including the use of leavened bread at the Lord’s Supper. However, like the Lyons Council’s decisions, the acts of the Council of Florence could not be imposed upon the people in the East. One Eastern Grand Duke stated, “I would rather see the Muslim turban in the midst of the city than the Latin mitre.” 

That is essentially what happened. The East received little help from the West when the Muslims attacked in 1453. Constantinople fell. On May 29, 1453, the last Christian service was held in Saint Sophia, this great center of the church, and the cathedral became a Muslim mosque.

Monasticism and Spirituality

The Monastic Ideal

Refer to Resource 9-3 in the Student Guide.

Monasticism expressed corporate religious ideals. For the laity the monasteries represented the highest form of Christian life, devotion, and holiness. The world was evil, and the monasteries were the only repositories of good. Many relied on the prayers of monks for themselves and their loved ones. Monarchs often used monks in matters of state, since they were often more highly educated. Wealthy families sent some of their children to monasteries. Meanwhile, the rules that governed individual monasteries became more and more minute. 

Until this time, monasteries were intensely local in interests and ministries, and there was no connection between monasteries and a broader religious order. The greater organization of monasticism began in the tenth century. The Cluny monastery in Burgundy was established under the auspices of Duke William of Acquitaine and under the leadership of Abbot Berno in 909, in an attempt to reestablish strict obedience to the Rule of Benedict. William gave the monks complete freedom to select their leader and placed the monastery under the pope himself. 

Cluny became highly developed under Odilo, abbot of the monastery from 994 to 1049, and Hugh, abbot from 1049 to 1109. Kings and princes sought its prayers and made pilgrimages to it. Cluny exemplified the high order of communal life.

By the eleventh century the Cluny monastery in Burgundy represented an ideal form of monasticism. Built with the donations of wealthy patrons, its buildings at Cluny were grand in architectural style, including a huge basilica with 15 towers and 5 chapels. marble and lined with sculptures, rich tapestries, paintings, manuscripts, and books. Cluny represented monasticism at its highest, in medieval eyes. It established daughter monasteries throughout Europe, each grandly designed and loyal to the abbot of the mother house at Cluny. Its halls and rooms were decorated with imported

The Cistercians

Cluny, with its grand pretensions, did not please everyone. Robert of Molesme (1027-1111), an abbot, sought to return to a simpler and stricter form of monastic life. He and his followers founded a monastery at Burgundy, Citeaux, in 1098 in order to return to the Benedictine Rule and a more austere monastic life.

Citeaux represented the uneasy conscience of the church regarding its growing wealth and power. It had strict rules on diet and required both silence and manual labor. In fact, it pioneered some farming techniques. Cistercians were not to be involved in the affairs of the world. They emphasized meditation and spiritual friendship. It was a call away from worldliness.

 Cistercian abbots advised monks, “be mothers” in their care for each other and for those who came seeking their ministry. Both God’s grace and free will were to bestow a love that produced good fruit. The Cistercians won approval from the pope in 1119. 

As in other orders, lay brothers were admitted to the Cistercian houses. These brothers, who outnumbered the regular monks, could not read or take part in many aspects of communal worship. The monks did not see it as their calling to educate these or others, but rather to pray and “lament.” The lay brothers were given more menial tasks within the monastery. Times of famine saw the monasteries admitting more and more of these “converts.”

Bernard (1090-1153), a Cistercian, became the leading religious figure of his time. In 1112, with 30 other young noblemen of Burgundy, including his own brothers, Bernard entered the monastery of Citeaux, the mother house of the Cistercian order. Instructed by the abbot of Citeaux to found a new monastery, Bernard established one at Clairvaux.

This monastery became one of the centers of the Cistercian order. Personally, Bernard became known for his austerity, self-discipline, and saintliness. He was immersed in the Bible. In his own time, his prestige in the Christian Church was immense. He obtained recognition for the Rules of the new order Knights Templar in 1128. In a dispute over the Papacy in 1130, Bernard supported the one who won, Innocent II. The Cistercian order became favored by the pope and the Cistercian order grew rapidly. Bernard was a champion of orthodoxy. Bernard succeeded in having Abelard condemned at the Council of Sens in 1140. A Cistercian and former pupil became Pope Eugenius III in 1145—increasing Bernard’s influence. Bernard roused support for the Second Crusade of 1147 and founded the military order of Knights Templar.

Bernard conceived of theology as serving devotional purposes, as within a monastic cloister. He developed a practical, not a systematic, theology that expressed the relation of the believer to God in terms of marriage. The greatest of all “love affairs” was the one initiated by God and moved along by grace, which kindled desire for God within human beings. “The reason we love God is God.” He “gives power to love. He draws yearning to its consummation.” 

God is the initiator, sustainer, and goal of Christian love. Bernard united love and perfection. Through this action of divine love, human love can be perfected in this life, Bernard taught. The essence of both sanctification and perfection, for Bernard, is love. 

Bernard emphasized the love and the grace of God. He understood Christian love to be both intellectual and sensual, trying to move away from the strictly legal and abstract concept the Latin word for love, caritas, had taken on. For Bernard, love was without selfinterest. It moved the person from a “mundane” loving with all the heart, to a “rational” loving with all the soul.

Bernard possessed optimism in both God’s grace and human response. He remarked: “Remove free will and there is nothing to be saved; remove grace, and there is left no means of saving. The work of salvation cannot be accomplished without the co-operation of the two.” The hindrance to the highest love is not humanity as such. The body or flesh of humanity may be made fully subject to the Spirit if God is loved supremely. “And thus,” Bernard wrote, “we must set our love on him, little by little conforming our will to his.”

This grace perfecting love began at baptism, in  to dwell, and this coming in of the Spirit opened up spiritual possibilities and privileges in the believer. The agent of perfection is the Spirit; the standard of perfection is Christlikeness. Though ultimate perfection lies beyond this life, there is more than simply imputed righteousness to be known here, Bernard affirmed. Bernard’s view. Then at confirmation, the Spirit came

The devotion and Christ-centeredness of Bernard, and the monks of Clairvaux in general, is evident in songs written by Bernard. Among them:

Refer to Resource 9-4 in the Student Guide.


Jesus, the very thought of Thee
with sweetness fills my breast;
But sweeter far Thy face to see,
and in Thy presence rest.

No voice can sing, no heart can frame,
nor can the mem’ry find
A sweeter sound than Thy blest name,
O Savior of mankind!

O Hope of every contrite heart,
O Joy of all the meek,
To those who fall, how kind Thou art!
How good to those who seek!

But what to those who find? Ah, this
Nor tongue nor pen can show:
The love of Jesus, what it is
None but His loved ones know.

Jesus, our only joy be Thou,
as Thou our prize wilt be;
Jesus, be Thou our glory now,
and through eternity.


O sacred Head, now wounded,
with grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded,
with thorns Thine only crown;

O sacred Head, what glory,
what bliss till now was Thine!
Yet, tho’ despised and gory,
I joy to call Thee mine.

What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered,
was all for sinners’ gain.
Mine, mine was the transgression,
but Thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior!
’Tis I deserve Thy place.
Look on me with Thy favor,
and grant to me Thy grace.

What language shall I borrow,
to thank Thee, dearest Friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow,
Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever;
And, should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never
outlive my love for Thee.

The Franciscans

Refer to Resource 9-5 in the Student Guide.
Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) was another example of self-abnegation and humiliation. Francis was the son of a wealthy cloth merchant, who educated him well. He became dissatisfied with a life of ease and devoted himself to prayer. After a pilgrimage to Rome, Francis began ministering to lepers and helping to repair the local church. 

Around 1208, upon hearing Jesus’ words to the rich young man, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me,” Francis took the commandment literally. To his father’s ire, he took off his fine clothing and set out to obey Christ. 

By 1209, a band of followers gathered behind him. In 1210 Francis received approval for a monastic order from Pope Innocent III. Clare, a follower of Francis, founded a Second Order of St. Francis, or the Order of Poor Ladies, upon Francis’s ideals in 1212.   

Francis won men and women more by deeds than words. His views toward monasticism were radical. He wished his followers to become “voluntary beggars.” His Rule stated, “The brothers shall not acquire anything as their own, neither a horse nor a place nor anything else. Instead, as pilgrims and strangers in this world who serve the Lord in poverty and humility, let them go begging for alms with full trust.” 

At the same time, Francis loathed idleness or sloth and rejected all social barriers. He championed the poor. His order was called “Fratas Minores,” after the “little people.” He induced the rich to contribute to the poor. Francis was distrustful of learning because it took him away from action. He believed Christ was to be followed literally.

In an age that saw otherwise, Francis rejected the idea of Crusades against the Muslims. He admonished Franciscans not even to engage in arguments or disputes with Muslims. In 1219 Francis himself, along with eleven companions, visited Eastern Europe and Egypt. Francis realized he lacked the skills for administering the growing order, and upon his return from his trip abroad, leadership of the order passed to others. The Rule of Francis was approved by Pope Honorius in 1223.

Francis’s devotion to both the good of people and to nature is summarized in two well-known verses:
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pard’ning that we are pardoned;
it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Francis’s sense of oneness with nature is characterized in this verse, still sung today:

All creatures of our God and King,
Lift up your voice and with us sing:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thou burning sun with golden beam,
Thou silver moon with softer gleam,
O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou rushing wind that art so strong,
Ye clouds that sail in heaven along,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou rising morn, in praise rejoice,
Ye lights of evening, find a voice!
O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou flowing water, pure and clear,
Make music for thy Lord to hear.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thou fire so masterful and bright,
Thou givest man both warmth and light!
O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

And all ye men of tender heart,
Forgiving others, take your part.
O sing ye! Alleluia!
Ye who long pain and sorrow bear,
Praise God and on Him cast your care!
O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Let all things their Creator bless,
And worship Him in humbleness.
O praise Him! Allelulia!
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son,
And praise the Spirit, Three in One!
O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Francis and his followers possessed missionary zeal. By preaching and showing repentance and brotherly love they intended to sow peace. The Franciscans’ “cloister” was the whole world. The Franciscans won the hearts and loyalty of the people, but did not inspire the friendship of bishops.

After 1227, the Franciscans were granted the right to hear confession. This led, soon, to their clericalization. Among Franciscans, Christ is the Liberator and the Transformer of culture. The emphasis is on praxis rather than right theology. Praxis precedes theoria. Holiness is right action. “Go ye into” is the call. There is concern about social righteousness in anticipation of the Kingdom.

Franciscans emphasized the humanity of Christ and attempted to be like Him in good deeds, not words. They see Jesus as a great model and example. Their vision of Christ was of Him crucified, and this led them toward asceticism, but it was an active or teleological asceticism. They took vows of poverty, as Gannon and Traub write, in order “to remove the obstacles that might prevent the full flowering of love.”

Like the Franciscans, holiness people of the Wesleyan tradition tried to correct the worldliness creeping into the church. Like Franciscans, ministers in the holiness tradition, in a certain way, take vows of poverty. Even though sometimes material blessings might come our way, we do not seek them and do not cling to them.

Unlike Dominicans and later Jesuits, Franciscans were not known for their theological acumen. Rather, they were known for their deeds. The fine points of Christian doctrine and dogma for them and for holiness ministers must finally get around to the question, “What does this mean for me and for others as we attempt to live out the Christian life together?”

There is a practical bent to this thought. Holiness people are like the Franciscans in trying to be examples of holiness in an unholy world, and to be such by works of mercy, forgiveness, and compassion to others, which emanate out of pure love. We were raised up like the Franciscans to “preach” the good news to the poor by deeds more than by wisdom. Radical “Franciscans” do not appease the world; but they are willing to take the lowliest positions in the church. Trained ministers communicate and apply their knowledge to the simplest men and women

Bonaventure (1217-74) led the order from 1257 to 1274. Highly educated, Bonaventure taught in Paris from 1247 until assuming the leadership of the order. He attempted to reconcile radicals in the order, called “spirituals,” who wished to keep strictly to Francis’s ideals of poverty, and others who saw the necessity of establishing houses like other orders.

Bonaventure saw in Francis the force for renewal in the church alluded to in the work of Joachim. As a theologian, Bonaventure rejected the popular notion of the immaculate conception of Mary. Bonaventure took an active role in church politics and became a cardinal the year before he died.

About 1330, 100 years after Francis’s death, Brother Ugolino di Monte Santa Maria recorded stories about Francis from some of his followers and published The Little Flowers of Saint Francis. It described apparitions and miracles, some of them amusing, which surrounded the life of Francis. The book emphasized the miracles more than the ideals and values of poverty, service, and obedience that characterized Francis and the movement he created. It included description of the stigmata, or five wounds of Christ crucified, that were imprinted in Francis’s body in 1224 while he was contemplating the Cross. The Little Flowers became a classic in the history of Christian spirituality.

Spirituality Among the Regular Canons

Beginning in the eleventh century, a foundational change took place in people’s thinking regarding the conception of the Christian life. There was a new emphasis on obligation to one’s neighbor, and a new sense that Christ wished followers to care for others. While new religious orders were being developed, the regular clergy of the church also were experiencing renewal and changes in their approach to ministry. Like the orders, the priests evidenced pastoral concern, preached, evangelized, and contemplated God. The regular clergy argued that their office was prefigured by Aaron and the Levites. The church still was not entirely clear, even at this late date, on what constituted “clerical” status, but there was a distinction on a number of issues that separated the monks from the priests.

For monks, the focus was on personal virtue. They were not so concerned about the affect of their lives or words upon others. Their only concern was for God and personal union with Him. Regular clergy’s lives, on the other hand, were devoted to others, as a pattern, forma, and exemplum. Regulars were to be both teachers and learners, both verbo et examplo. They attempted to edify by both word and example, to demonstrate the gospel by their lives to others, and to be edified for the sake of others. While the monks were learners only, their lives lived solely to God, the priests were teachers.

For the monks, conversation was not considered educational and silence was an end in itself, drawing them closer to God. Reasons they gave for silence— given by Peter of Celle in the late twelfth century— included tranquillity, profession, keeping the peace, quieting the heart, withdrawal from secular things, scrutiny of the law of God, and contemplation. For regular clergy, conversely, silence was preparation for speech.

To govern their lives, monks relied on sources such as the Rule of Benedict, which suggested that outward behavior was entirely an aspect of personal virtue. Preaching was not intrinsically “monastic.” Sharing the wisdom of Christ with others, in monks’ eyes, was a sign of conceit.

The regular clergy, on the other hand, saw behavior as a means of edifying others. The priests’ spirituality emphasized that behavior was a support to effective verbal teaching and an agent in moral education. They were to exemplify Christ by both life and doctrine: vita et doctrina. They espoused a new conception of individuals having responsibility for others. Their commitment to pastoral care was educational in a way not limited to preaching. Likewise, their commitment to evangelization was not limited to preaching. They sought to evangelize by example as well as by speech.

Write in your journal. Reflect on and respond to the following:


The conversion to Neoplatonism. Augustine traces his growing disenchantment with the Manichaean conceptions of God and evil and from this, he comes finally to the diligent study of the Bible, especially the writings of the apostle Paul. His pilgrimage is drawing toward its goal, as he begins to know Jesus Christ and to be drawn to Him in hesitant faith.

27. With great eagerness, then, I fastened upon the venerable writings of your Spirit and principally upon the apostle Paul. I had thought that he sometimes contradicted himself and that the text of his teaching did not agree with the testimonies of the Law and the Prophets; but now all these doubts vanished away. And I saw that those pure words had but one face, and I learned to rejoice with trembling. So I began, and I found that whatever truth I had read [in the Platonists] was here combined with the exaltation of your grace . . . For although a man may “delight in the law of God after the inward man,” what shall he do with that other “law in his members which wars against the law of his mind, and brings him into captivity under the law of sin, which is in his members”? You are righteous, O Lord; but we have sinned and committed iniquities, and have done wickedly. Your hand has grown heavy upon us, and we are justly delivered over to that ancient sinner, the lord of death. For he persuaded our wills to become like his will, by which he remained not in your truth. What shall “wretched man” do? “Who shall deliver him from the body of this death,” except your grace through Jesus Christ our Lord; whom you have begotten, coeternal with yourself, and didst create in the beginning of your ways—in whom the prince of this world found nothing worthy of death, yet he killed him—and so the handwriting which was all against us was blotted out? The books of the Platonists tell nothing of this. Their pages do not contain the expression of this kind of godliness—the tears of confession, your sacrifice, a troubled spirit, a broken and a contrite heart, the salvation of your people, the espoused City, the earnest of the Holy Spirit, the cup of our redemption. In them, no man sings: “Shall not my soul be subject unto God, for from him comes my salvation? He is my God and my salvation, my defender; I shall no more be moved.” In them, no one hears him calling, “Come unto me all you who labor.” . . . These thoughts sank wondrously into my heart, when I read that “least of your apostles” and when I had considered all your works and trembled.

Preparation for Session 10
Email your response paragraphs to by the Sunday before the class session.

A. Read: Shelley, Church History in Plain Language, chapters 20
            Write a Big Idea paragraph from your reading.

B. Read the following articles and give a one paragraph answer to the question asked.
            1. The Dominicans and Thomas Aquinas
                        What was the purpose of the Dominican order?
2. Rise of the Universities
                        Why is academic freedom important?
            3.Biblical Interpretation
                        How did Thomas Aquinas change biblical interpretation?

C. Write in your journal. Reflect on and respond to the following:  


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