Place Published: Philadelphia
Publisher: Saint Joseph's University Press
Date Published: 2002
Book ID: 15
191 pages + foreword and index | 8.25 x 5.5 inches | 11 color and b/w images
Preaching held an important place in the life of colonial Anglo-America, and yet so far little has been written on the subject of 18th-century Catholic homiletics. It has widely been assumed that, in comparison to Protestant sermons, little relevant material survived from the labors of the Catholic missioners of the colonial era. An examination of the manuscripts preserved in the American Catholic Sermon Collection at Georgetown University, however, provides an opportunity to test this theory. Consisting of over 450 texts preached in Maryland and Pennsylvania from 1700 to 1801, the collection represents just a small part of the homiletic labors of over forty missionaries (mostly members of the Society of Jesus). This study is the fruit of an analysis of the sermon collection, and offers many insights into their originality, the sources used in their composition, their presentation of Catholic doctrine and practice, and their attitudes toward contemporary society. The sermons (and various sources on which they were based) are surprisingly uniform throughout the century, and highlight the enduring concern of the Jesuit homilists for the well-being of their flocks, who were seeking to live out their faith on the "frontier" of the New World, both geographically and religiously. They sought both to instruct their hearers in Catholic teaching, as well as influence them to live out this faith in an oft-times challenging cultural context. The homilists placed a strong emphasis on the communal dimension of the faith, and commented on domestic life, slavery, devotional practice, social mores, and relations with other denominations and civil authorities. This study, then, through an examination of the sermons, opens a window onto the religious life and practice of these little-known pioneers, whose quiet existence has previously offered precious little access.
Joseph C. Linck earned his Ph.D. in Church History from The Catholic University of America in 1995. He has published articles on the spirituality of Colonial Catholicism and the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania, and was editor of Building the Church in America (1999), issued in honor of the seventieth birthday of Msgr. Robert Trisco. Father Linck has served as a Lecturer in Church History at St. Vincent Seminary, in Latrobe, PA, as an Instructor at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, and as a Newman Chaplain at Carnegie-Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh. He is currently serving in parochial ministry in the Diocese of Bridgeport, CT.
Robert Emmett Curran is professor of history at Georgetown University. He is the author of numerous publications, including American Jesuit Spirituality: The Maryland Tradition, 1634-1900 (Paulist Press, 1988).
"Joseph C. Linck's interesting and well-written study […] illuminates what has been an obscure area of American religious history: the work and ministry of a small group of Roman Catholic priests in Maryland and southeastern Pennsylvania during the colonial era. […] These sermons provide insight into Catholic teaching in early America, a subject that most historians of American intellectual life have glossed over in their works."
Jennifer Bryan, Archivum Historicum Societatis Iesu
"This study examines 18th-century Catholic homiletics in order to capture the religious life of early American Catholics in Maryland and Pennsylvania. [...] The book offers detailed research of not only the homiletics of the 18th century, but also the social world of Catholics in early America."
American Catholic Studies Newsletter
"This is a fascinating and suggestive […] treatment of an important subject. One can only hope that it will spur further inquiry in the future. Recommended for graduate students and scholars of American religion."
Dale D. Light, American Catholic Studies
"This is an excellent, and welcome, addition not only to American Catholic historiography, but also to American religious history. Fr. Linck has made imaginative and informative use of the 462 (pre-1801) homilies by American missioners, working mostly in Maryland and Pennsylvania, which are located in the American Catholic Sermon Collection at Georgetown University. […] To be sure […] this is a very valuable work and a real contribution to the study of the lesser known world of colonial American Catholicism."
Thomas W. Jodziewicz, Catholic Southwest: A Journal of History and Culture
"Linck worked with a marvelous collection of almost two hundred and fifty manuscript sermons, mostly by Maryland Jesuits, housed at Georgetown University. Joseph Chinnici and Robert Emmet Curran already have used some of these sermons in their general studies of early American Catholic spirituality. Linck's advance rests on his detailed knowledge of the sermons, his thematic exposition of the texts, and his analysis of their European background and colonial American contexts. […] St. Joseph's University has furnished Linck's nicely drawn and obviously deeply researched book with a clear text and lovely illustrations."
Jon Butler, Eighteenth-Century Thought