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Romantic Piety & Medieval Churches

Holy Pride
People Commenting
Dear TIA,

Thank you for defending the Truth, which is bitter to human pride.

I am a woman very fond of the letters of the Church Fathers. They seem to belong to a religion other than what we have today.

My question is about St. Jerome, who is hated both by the world and by Catholics. His way seems to be different from the path of "childlike and cheerful devotion" in which many people believe, including some canonized saints.

He believes in holy melancholy, seriousness and gravity. He commands Eustochium (the nun) to consider herself a spouse of a king, feel a holy pride, and know that she is better (than matrons), therefore, not to seek the company of married ladies. He tells her to be dead to what she left for God, even not to hear what a man says to his wife.

My question is: Does Church tradition approve of these ideas? If this "holy pride," "knowing you are better", and "holy melancholy" are accepted by God, why did so many saints speak against them, warning everybody (even nuns) not to feel superior?

     Thank you.


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TIA responds:

Dear F.S.N.,

Like you we are admirers of St. Jerome. He belongs to a kind of Elias class of Saints in the Church whose vocations are turned quasi-exclusively to the glory of God, without any other concern. Elias used to say: 'Zelo zelatus sum pro Domino Deo exercituum" (With zeal have I been zealous for the Lord God of hosts - 1 Kings 19:14).

Some Saints, such as St. Jerome, St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Louis Grignion de Montfort, follow this same path. They are like Seraphins of the Church that see everything in God. They have a message of majesty, grandeur, severity and heroism that flows naturally from their contemplation of God. They are not only welcome in the Church, but they are the light of the Church, the ones who remind us of the grand lines of our duty on earth.

Corresponding to each one of the Choirs of Angels are groups of Saints in the Church who fulfill the missions of the fallen angels. Now, since the Angels form a hierarchy, like a pyramid, the higher vocations are rarer, and the lower, more common.

So also it is more common to find Saints preaching the more common virtues necessary for personal sanctification, a good family life, charitable treatment of our neighbor and a harmonic social life than to find those grandiose Saints, like St. Jerome, who seem to forget all these common virtues to invite us to be like them, concerned only with the glory of the Church, the service of Our Lady and the victory of Our Lord over the Devil and his cohorts.

There is no contradiction in the ensemble of different vocations in the Church. It is up to us to know how to distinguish them. Also, there is no contradiction in the virtues they have instructed us to practice. They all have their place in the Church, just as they will have their recompense in Heaven. As Our Lord told us, 'In My Father's house there are many mansions' (Jn 14:2).

Up to this point, we have pointed out what is Catholic and praiseworthy.

Today, however, something else has entered into the piety even of good and traditionalist Catholics.

Since the end of the 18th century, the Revolution infiltrated the Church with Romanticism. It changed this harmonic conviviance of the many different vocations and spiritual pathways in the Church to impose just one sentimental model. This Romanticism influenced piety, hagiography - the presentation of the lives of the Saints - art, and even moral and dogmatic doctrine.

According to this new dominating fashion, everything that did not correspond to its sweet, positive, merciful and soft spirit was set aside, 'forgotten' or condemned. These criteria entered the seminaries, clergy, and manuals of piety, forming several generations of Catholics who were unaware of the previous richness of the Church. Thus they were raised in an environment of antipathy to militancy and turned only to this romantic religiosity.

Those great Saints, such as St. Jerome, with his counsels to Eustochium to be proud of her virginity and to be convinced that she is more than married ladies, were also 'forgotten' or even hated, as you say, accused of being against humility. It is a product of this false piety.

Just as Romanticism was the cultural movement that prepared society for the French Revolution, so this romantic piety prepared the way for Progressivism in the Church and for Vatican II with its ecumenism, pacifism and horror of Catholic militancy. This "sweet" religiosity is much more akin to Progressivism than to the Catholic Church as she always was. This explains why you feel as if it were a different religion.

This is only a brief explanation of a profound phenomenon. You will find a more encompassing view of the Revolution in the work of Prof Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira Revolution and Counter-Revolution (available online here).

We hope this will help you to be proud of your Faith and virtues and to follow the counsels of St. Jerome without any problem of conscience.


     TIA correspondence desk

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Medieval Churches
People Commenting
Dear TIA,

Regarding the article 'Reading Medieval Architecture.' I was in Europe a number of times, once spending three years there. I can attest to the beauty and to the inspiration these buildings produce by their grand architecture. Great article!!

May Our Blessed Lady cradle you in Her loving arms,

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Are You SSPX?
People Commenting
To Tradition in Action,

I have a question. Are you SSPX? I just wanted to know it.

I found your web very interesting after a few readings. And some contents are not known by majority of faithful in my country.

     L.M., Japan

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TIA responds:


Thank you for your inquiry.

No, we are not SSPX. We agree in some points, such as the Tridentine Mass, and disagree in others, such us its promotion of Distributism.


     TIA correspondence desk

Blason de Charlemagne
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Posted July 29, 2010

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The opinions expressed in this section - What People Are Commenting -
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