The Idea of Reform: Its Impact on Christian Thought and Action in the Age of the Fathers

The Idea of Reform: Its Impact on Christian Thought and Action in the Age of the Fathers

The Idea of Reform: Its Impact on Christian Thought and Action in the Age of the Fathers

The Idea of Reform: Its Impact on Christian Thought and Action in the Age of the Fathers

Excerpt

In the past ten years, since the subject of this book was first outlined, the importance of the idea of reform -- of what it is and of what it can achieve -- has certainly not become smaller. Perhaps the origin and early history of this idea can act as a reminder of what is expected of human beings; because reform originally was so closely related to man's image-likeness to God, it was less violent than revolution and less haphazard than revivals and "responses" of various kinds. Even today one can be sufficiently optimistic to believe that the reform of man remains the hope of man.

While the present volume deals with the idea of reform in the age of the Fathers and its influence on the earliest manifestations of Christian monasticism, successive volumes could profitably describe the continuing life of the idea in the earlier and later Middle Ages, when renovation of Empire, Church reform, and perfection of the whole Christianitas were among the dominant aspects of reform ideology.

My debt of gratitude to persons and institutions who have helped me in divers ways during the period of the preparation and writing of this book is very great. The major part of the work was carried out while I was a Member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton(1949-1951) and a Guggenheim Fellow (1950-1951). To the Director of the Institute for Advanced Study, Dr. Robert Oppenheimer, and to its Faculty, especially to Professor Erwin Panofsky and Professor Homer Thompson, as well as to the Secretary General of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, Mr. Henry Allen Moe, go my warmest thanks, likewise to the University of Notre Dame, who gave me leave of absence in the years 1949 to 1951, and in particular to the Rev. Fathers Philip S. Moore, C.S.C., Academic Vice-President, and Thomas T. McAvoy, C.S.C., Chairman of the Department of History.

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