CHAPTER IV
A PURITAN DEVOTION TO THE SACRED HEART

NEVER was the hostility between Catholics and Protestants more bitter than in the seventeenth century. But the first half of that century was everywhere a period of religious revival, a revival which extended and strengthened the reaction already begun from the naturalism which, though not the sole, had been the predominant movement of the preceding century, to the supernatural sphere and object of religion.

This religious revival made itself felt without distinction of ecclesiastical frontiers. In Catholic France it took the form of a widespread movement towards a more interior spirituality, that "Invasion of the Mystics," to use the description of Abbé Bremond, whose triumph he depicts in successive volumes of his Histoire Littéraire du Sentiment Religieux en France. Externally the revival embodied itself in a reform of the established religious Orders, for example the Benedictine convents, and the Cistercian reform of La Trappe; in the introduction of new Orders, such as the Discalced Carmelites, who brought with them the mystical tradition of St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross; in the Sulpician training of the secular clergy; and in the religious and charitable activities of laymen such as M. De Berniers and M. De Renty and his fellow members of the Company of the Blessed Sacrament, which attempted to mould even political life in the interest of the new devotion.

In the Protestant countries the religious reaction gave birth to a series of movements whose common aim was a more intense and a more spiritual religion, a religious regulation of life: the pietist movements in the Calvinist and Lutheran Churches,1 the Puritan movement in England. Lacking the fullness of Christian truth contained in the teaching of the Catholic Church, and dispossessed of a public religious authority divinely instituted, these movements were unable to restrain excesses of individual

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1
The term "pietism" is used in a wide sense. The Lutheran movement strictly so called initiated by Spener was a later development.

-56-

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