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Alois Koch SJ {*}

Johann Adam Schall von Bell (1592-1666)

Mathematician, Astronomer and Missionary in China

 

I. Preliminary Remark

The modern times are not only characterized by the discovery of the new world, but perhaps in a still deeper way by the discovery of the Far East and by the meeting with the advanced Asian cultures and religions in India, but above all in Japan and China. The first European who experienced the necessity for a thorough argument of Christianity with Asian thinking for himself was probably St Francis Xavier. For the first time in his mission activity he met during his two-year stay in Japan (1549-1551) a highly educated people; the reciting of catechism and mass baptism were obviously no longer sufficient to convert it to Christianity. And he realized that the key to Japan's conversion was to be found in China. But China was a closed country. In his attempt to reach China Francis died all alone in 1552 on the island Sancian before Canton. Only Matteo Ricci should fifty years later succeed in settling in Peking. It was also Ricci who laid the foundations for the China mission. He was above all the man of the options, i.e. he set the course for the future. These options of Ricci are fundamental to understand the man whose 400th birthday is celebrated this year: Johann Adam Schall of Bell, born to Cologne on 1 May 1592, trained in his hometown and in Rome. In his person the problems of the mission work in China connected with these options become clear, but also the internal fights and arguments which we know under the keyword "Rites Controversy". Thus the course of my considerations is given.

 

II. The Missionary Options of the Jesuits in the China Mission

Ricci's first option, which should also apply to Adam Schall's work, was the option "not bonze but scholar". As soon as Ricci noticed the mental and religious gulf between the ordinary people and the dominant class of the mandarins, it was clear for him that he could not take over the role of a not-respected bonze, but only that of a scholar. As the Chinese expected religious and magic practices of a bonze, so they looked for intellectual enriching by a scholar and writer.

Schall's working and influence in China is to be seen on the background of this option. His training as mathematicians and an astronomer enabled him to get the European astronomy and mathematics generally accepted in China. But the way to Peking opened to him first not as mathematician and an astronomer, but - it sounds like a joke - as a "military expert". The reason might be that Schall was an extremely skilful craftsman, who understood a lot of making instruments and also of casting cannons; on the other hand in 1622 Schall actively helped to defend Macau against the Dutchmen; he possibly worked as gunner there. It is also said that he - with a sabre in his hand - had taken a Dutch officer prisoner. Toward the end of the Ming dynasty Schall will cast cannons for the defence of Peking; but also the new rulers, the Mandschu, use time and again the knowledge and talents of the man from the west.

But the reform of the Chinese calendar, which becomes his life's work, is of much greater importance. In imperial China the publication of the calendar was regarded as the most important government action of the year. According to Chinese view the state and civil life had to happen in conformity with the events in nature, i.e. with the occurrences in the sky and on earth, with the movement of sun, moon, planets etc. Only a faultless calendar served this purpose. Such a perfect calendar was the Confucian ideal: it was the condition for peace and order in the country.

Schall created first - together with his fellow-Jesuit Rho - the preconditions for the calendar reform by introducing the mathematical-astronomical science of Europe. It had first to be translated and communicated, for instance the knowledge and use of log tables in imperial China. Schall and Rho needed seven years for this work, until they could present the emperor 150 small volumes of the mathematical-astronomical encyclopaedia. But only after the overthrow of the Ming dynasty the actual calendar reform could be accomplished. The new rulers, who were not slaves of the tradition, gave Schall a position that would have been inconceivable under the earlier dynasty. Because of the accuracy in fixing the solar eclipse on 1 September 1644 the emperor appointed Schall director of the Astronomical Office. Against large doubts Schall had to take over his office, also at his Superior's behest. Schall held this office up to the trail in the year 1665.

But the activity as mathematician and an astronomer was no end in itself for Schall. He clearly put it into service of the mission, i.e. the preaching of the Christian faith - not only by the Jesuits in Peking but also by all missionaries in China: "Everything that we do in this kingdom was enabled by his work and the eagerness with which he represents our affairs in Peking", his then Superior Furtado jugdes. And in a letter of Father Brancate to the General Superior of the Order we read: "Next to the divine assistance it is the goodwill shown to Father Adam in which we all participate."

One can mark the second option of Ricci and his successor by the sentence: "For Confucius against the popular religion". The Chinese popular religion was a mixture of Buddhism and Taoism, of belief in gods and spirits, of sorcery and magic. The "enlightened" world view of the scholars was officially oriented towards the Chinese classical authors, particularly towards Confucius. It was however rather philosophy and ethics than religion. At any rate, Ricci and his successors deliberately took the Confucius of the scholars up, particularly since the bonzes were regarded as uneducated persons and had no high social standing. One was convinced that China's classical writings contained the faith in the one God, whereas Buddhism and Taoism were fought as superstition and idolatry. This option is still disputed. Would it not have been better to take these religious forces in the people up, particularly since far more longing for salvation was there than in the élitist moralistic philosophy of Confucius, which did not at all know the need of salvation - let alone in a Christian sense - but rejected it far from itself pointed?

In Ricci's writing "The True Theory about God", which found its place in the classical Chinese literature, there is no talk of the actual Christian mysteries. Certainly, it does not want to be a manual of Christian teaching but "Christian philosophy" in the argument with Chinese thinking. That's why the "New Theory" is represented as the true fulfilment of China's best traditions; yes, Christianity is the re-establishment of the genuine Confucianism. The religion of the "Lord of Heaven" should be harmoniously reconcilable with Chinese thinking.

But to base the Christian revelation more or less without break upon old China's wisdom, this attempt underestimated the depth of the gulf between Christian and Confucian thinking. The majority of the Jesuit missionaries found the faith in a personal God expressed in Confucius's writings. But in reality Confucius's "heaven" has nothing to do with a personal God and the "reverence for heaven" not anything with adoration of and service for a personal God. The fundamental ideas of Confucianism can hardly be integrated in a truly Christian way. The central principle is not the person(ality) as in Christianity, but to adapt oneself to and become one with the cosmos. Not the personal relationship with a personal, world-transcendental God is the centre, but man's adaptation to the whole cosmos - heaven and earth - by fulfilling the immediate worldly duties. - Today this is clear for us. But the men who at that time took on the venture of understanding and converting China had not the possibilities of knowledge like we today. Our knowledge and judgements are based however to a good part on the experiences, yes, on the failure of those men.

Ricci's third option, which is particularly expressed in Adam Schall's work, is characterized by the sentence: "Mission from top to bottom". The change "from the bonze to the scholar" and the decision to take the Chinese philosophy up and not the popular religion are closely connected with Ricci's, élitist conception of mission, but also of his successors in Peking. One wanted to win the people for Christ over and by the professional group of literary men and by the civil servants respectively mandarins taken from them. That meant first to do without short-lived successes and mass conversions, in order to win instead the confidence of the mandarins, yes, of the emperor.

For Schall too the method of the missionary work "from top to bottom" was a matter of course. Actually the Christians from the circles of civil servants and literary men were excellent assistants of the missionaries. What is more, one cherished the hope to convert the emperor or to make him at least favourably, in order to open a wide door for the Christian faith in China. In the years before the coup of 1644 however influence on the emperor was only indirectly possible: by intermediaries and by the printed word. One pinned one's hopes above all on women who had become Christians and lived close to the emperor. But they too were only accessible over the palace eunuchs who had become Christians. Nevertheless the number of Christian women in the emperor's palace rose in 1640 to approximately 50. For the sake of curiosity: in the year mentioned the Vice-provincial Furtado appointed one of the palace ladies head of the pious community - i.e. already 350 years ago a woman is leading a parish!

Schall's hopes to achieve the missionary break-through were above all based on the young Mandschu emperor Shun chi, who in 1651 took over government duties, hardly thirteen-year-old. It was Schall who had saved him - by his courageous standing up for him against Regent Amawang - the throne, if not even his life. With the young emperor's coming to power the most important section in Adam Schall's life begins. He was in the in 59th year of his life and at the height of his creative power.

The boy on the imperial throne was the absolute ruler of the largest empire of the earth. The friendly relations between Schall and the emperor are singular in the Chinese history. Schall alone had the courage and the authority to point to the emperor the way which he had to go. At any time he had admission to the imperial palace and could present petitions. As paternal admonisher, adviser and friend he reciprocated the confidence of the young emperor. "Ma-fa = venerable Father" he was called by the emperor. The Mandschu word includes the meaning of love and confidence of a son to/in his father, of a pupil to its master.

Without question Schall thought of the emperor's conversion to Christianity. On that occasion he endeavours to base Christianity upon natural religion and morality. It admits later to his critics: "I was never ashamed of the gospel, neither before the emperor nor before anybody else. I used each opportunity." The desired success however was denied to him. But Schall's influence on the emperor was of inestimable benefit for the Christian mission. How highly he was esteemed, we see from the honours awarded to him. The most important was the award of the title "High Dignitary of the Imperial Banquets". With this title Schall was put at the same level with the highest dignitaries and the imperial princes and was mandarin of the first class. As badge he wore a red jewel as button of his mandarin hat and a breast plate with the picture of a crane with open wings. The honours corresponded to Schall's influential position at the imperial court. There is no other example in China's history that a foreigner was even just approximately of such crucial importance (with the exception of Karl Marx - author's verbal insertion in his lecture in Leipzig).

Schall loved his careless, passionate young emperor and tried to make him a good human being and then a Christian. He did not succeed in doing both and was deeply sad about it. That he was deeply grieved by the inglorious end of the young emperor can still be told from his memoirs. But he rendered a last great service to his "son" and the Chinese kingdom. Shortly before his death Shan chih, moved particularly by Schall's advice, appointed the not yet seven-year-old son of a concubine his successor. Under the government name Kang hsi the chosen one should become the greatest ruler of China.

 

III. About Schall's Honour and Office - Order-internal Squabbles

The last years of Schall's life are characterized not only by his high position at the imperial court, which benefited the mission in whole China, but also by arguments about his person and his good name. The suspicions and attacks came however first not from the outside, but from his fellow-Jesuits. How far the proverbial "invidia clericalis" was the cause of the controversy remains to be seen. The accusations were surely fed by Schall's choleric temper, by his biting irony and his sarcasm with which he could meet his fellow-Jesuits. Open and honest (in such a way he interpreted his indication of origin "Germanus"!) he kept his opinion never to himself, even if one did not want to hear it. Yes, he was probably not completely innocent of the deportation of two Jesuits from Peking by the Chinese authorities. No wonder that his independence, yes, a certain high-handedness was interpreted as "disobedience". When uttered the ironical remark, 'I have no Superiors except God and the holy Ignatius', then one can understand the irritations, but also the wrong conclusions Schall recognized neither the Pope nor his present Superiors as Superiors. Eleven misdemeanours are stated and the demand is raised to dismiss Schall as incorrigible and unruly from the Order. Some years later a Father Diestel even had the presumption to make the assertion, Schall deserved to be burned for 24 reasons.

The most serious charge was that Schall was made responsible for contents of the calendar. Here it was not about the scientific, i.e. about the mathematical-astronomical data in this calendar, but about dubious contents, for instance the enumerating of good and bad spirits, which made the individual days suitable and not-suitable days - e.g. for tasks such as journeys, building, sowing, marrying and others. Also fortune-telling was connected with this popular calendar. Now Schall had already stated on his assuming office, what he now repeated on the present opportunity that he was only concerned with the scientific part of the calendar and had no dealings with the favourable and unfavourable days. By him as the director of the astronomical office was only authenticated that the data customary from time immemorial were accurately quoted. He was not responsible for the content of the accessories. That applied also to the sacrifices: for those who wanted to sacrifice, still those days were marked that from time immemorial were regarded as "suitable".

The arguments, which were carried even into Peking's Christian parish, are done by letters, expert's reports and statements of defence first only in China. But the controversy expanded to Europe respectively Rome, since one asked Father General to make a decision. After the Superiors in China had rejected the reproaches several times as groundless and unjustified, in 1664 the final decision took place and thus Schall's rehabilitation. The expert's report of four professors of the Roman College for Father General Oliva comes to the view that the "superstitiously seeming accessories" of the calendar do not fall in Schall's responsibility. The result that is drawn reads: "There is no difficulty that the Father continues working as before and administers the office that is of so great importance for the reputation, protection and propagation of the Christian religion in that empire." The Pope, who was as a precaution brought into this process, gave then the definite decision: the acceptance of the office is permitted; and since from it large advantages rise for the spreading of faith among the pagans, he gave the possible necessary dispensations and ordered to accept the high office.

 

IV. Condemned to Death

While in Rome the wretched controversy ended with Schall's rehabilitation, in Peking at the same time another fight took place in which it was only superficially about the calendar, yes, even no longer about Schall but about the existence of the China mission in general. The argument announced itself already in last years of Shun chih's reign, in which he freed himself more and more from Schall's influence; under the regency for the minor successor in the provinces already here and there violence broke out then against the Christians. The moving spirit is Yang Kuang hsien. He published an indictment "Refutation of the Detrimental Doctrine". Christianity was ill-disposed towards the Chinese custom; it refused the owed respect to the emperor and parents; it ignored ancestor veneration, marriage and friendship; it disturbed the five relations among human beings and the harmony in the universe. Finally the missionaries, above all Schall, depraved the civil servants and encouraged them to revolt.

The fight broke out publicly when a refutation took place by a written defence ("Origin and Spread of the Divine Law"), which was published in 1664 and the authors of which were mainly the Fathres Buglio and Magalhaes, particularly since this writing contained daring sentences that gravely hurt the Chinese pride: Christianity was the oldest and most perfect religion; it was written into man's heart, announced to the first men and later written on the Two Tables; China too was originally Christian, as can be proven from the oldest books; Christian missionaries came to China, a witness for it was the inscription of Singanfu; China's wisdom was only a weak light compared with the bright gloss of the Christian doctrine.

In the trial that now follows the charge is mainly justified by quotations from this writing; and all people who took part in writing and spreading this refutation are taken to court. Schall belonged to them although he had on 20 April 1664 suffered a stroke so that he was no longer able to talk and to use his right hand. The charge was high treason, preaching a reprehensible religion and spreading wrong astronomical theories. The paralytic Schall was the centre of attention. First the accused were still free, but soon they were imprisoned and become prisoners. At the end of December the Secretary of Cultural Affairs announced the result of the judicial investigations. Schall is among other things found guilty of the following crimes: He teaches Christ, a crucified criminal, was Lord of heaven and earth; he annually baptized 200 to 300 Chinese and gave them holy articles and the Christian feast calendar; when Emperor Shun chih condemned the wrong sects, he had not made an exception of Christianity, as Schall states impertinently; he taught that heaven was not God but only God's throne; contrary to the old custom he forbade to honour the ancestors by burning paper and gifts of wine and meat. Because of that Schall is to lose all his titles and honours and to be handed over to the Ministry of Justice for punishment.

Before the final pronouncement of the death sentence against Schall still a third case was tried: spread of wrong astronomical teachings. The surest proof of Schall's guilt could be produced with the solar eclipse on 16 January 1665: heaven was to decide. We know the course of events from the description of Verbiest, who carried out the calculations and observations. These calculations alone proved to be correct. One has of course the strong impression that such procedures get in the neighbourhood of a trial by ordeal.

The death sentence still needed the agreement of the regents. This agreement was not given. The reasons for it were probably these: How could one condemn the Christian religion as dangerous for the public, when it had been honoured by Emperor Shun chih's praise? Could one condemn Schall as traitor, who had accepted his office only on imperial order, and had asked the Emperor's permission in all important decisions in cases of religion? Finally: The designate emperor Kang hsi may possibly call them to account some day? The boy was under his grandmother's influence, and she had chosen once Schall to her "Father"; and she was still favourably inclined towards Schall, as everyone knew.

Thus the trial in the ministry for education and cultural affairs began again, but only because of the spread of wrong astronomical theories. To be on the safe side the regents wanted to let the crown council decide the question of the European astronomy. That is the elite of the Chinese-Mandschu people sat in judgement on the European science and its representative Schall and condemned the European astronomy almost unanimously as inferior. The regents immediately confirmed the judgement, which then was announced once and for all in the middle of April. Instead of strangling Schall is sentenced to beheading with the sword. The regents make the sentence more severe: Schall is to be cut into pieces alive.

Now a dramatic turn followed. Already on 13 April a comet had appeared in the sky. On 16 April heaven spoke bluntly: At eleven o'clock in the morning, in the hour one presented the emperor and his grandmother the death sentence against Schall, an earthquake shook the imperial palace and the capital. At the same time a devastating storm raged through the city. On the same day still three further quakes followed, likewise on the three following days. According to everybody's conviction it was a punishment of heaven. All involved knew why heaven was sullen and punished. The world order - disturbed by the unjustified death sentences - had to be restored. When then still some days later a fire broke out in the imperial palace, this was the final signal first to mitigate the death penalty, then to pardon Schall; even when in Peking the hate of the opponents was worked off on church devastations. The 21 July 1665 is still worth mentioning. On this day Schall confessed before his Fellow-Jesuits in moving way his faults and asked for forgiveness. A confession dictated by him and signed with paralitic hand gives evidence of it. One year later, on 15 August 1666, Schall died in the circle of his Fellow-Jesuits.

It is still to be added that one year later the young emperor Kang hsi takes over the government duties and replaces the regents. One of the first important decisions is the change in the astronomical office. Verbiest is appointed new director. On 8 December 1669 at last the by the emperor arranged memorial service takes place for Father Tang-Jo-Wang, who had been rehabilitated in his honours and titles. The "Expression" written by the emperor ends with the words: "Take this small reward for the everlasting loyalty with which you completely unselfishly devoted yourself to the public welfare." More than 20 years later the same emperor - not least in consideration of the friend and teacher of his father - enacted the edict on freedom of 22 March 1692, which gave Christianity in China the status of a state-recognized religion and the same rights as Buddhists and Taoists.

 

V. The Controversy on the Chinese Rites

Already with Ricci's second option for the mission work in China ("For Confucius against the popular religion") we met a problem that got more and more importance also with the arguments about Schall. It concerns the assessment of the so-called Chinese rites. I think that it is now time to talk about what is known under the term "Rites Controversy". This argument became fateful for the whole China mission. It begins however already during Ricci's lifetimes.

Each Chinese family had its "ancestor tables" with the names of the deceased relatives. They were venerated in ways that were common in Europe only in the actually religious cult: proskynesis, candles, incense, and sacrifices of food. No Chinese could withdraw from these forms of veneration, if he did not want to part from his family. In such celebrations the identity of the extended family and the solidarity with the ancestors were expressed. What on family level was the ancestor veneration was on state lever the veneration of Confucius. Before Confucius' picture similar ceremonies took place. They concerned however above all the class of scholars and the candidates of the "examinations". The hierarchical order of old China up to the abolishment of this examination system in the year 1905 was based on a gradual system of literature exams, by which one gained the qualifications needed for the respective higher offices. The ceremonies of Confucius' veneration absolutely belonged to the examination ritual.

Now the actual disputed question was this: Were these rites a religious cult, i.e. idolatry and superstition? Or were they only civil expressions of respect and honour although in forms against which Europeans' hair stand on end? Were the ancestors and Confucius venerated as heavenly beings, or was it only a civilian act of reverence for a grand man of history? From the outer forms of veneration alone no certainty could be won. Just the Jesuits tended to the conviction that outer signs have only that meaning that they got by social conventions. But it was unfortunate respectively fatal that one relied in the assessment of the rites on the opinion of some literary figures, who furthermore had become Christians.

But how did the Chinese understand these rites? The controversy would probably have soon found its end, if there had been a clear answer to that question. Of course, also the Jesuits did not deny that most of ordinary people understood particularly the ceremonies of the ancestor veneration to a large extent in such a way, as if the spirits of the ancestors were present in the ancestor tables, received the sacrifices and proved their favour to the living. On the other hand one could just as little deny that long since an "enlightened", respectively "demythologized" interpretation of the rites had found acceptance among the scholars. They interpreted those rites as pure commemoration ceremonies and as expression of a childlike respect or - in the case of Confucius' veneration - as expression of thanks of the Chinese people for Confucius's theory. By the way, just the clear distinction between "religious" and "merely civil" acts of respect is a typical Occidental one; it has its origin in the faith in a transcendental God and was therefore foreign to Chinese thinking, for which religion was man's fitting into the cosmic whole.

According to their option to win first the elite of the country, the decision of the Jesuits lead to keep to its interpretation and to tolerate (with certain restrictions) the rites of the veneration of the ancestors and of Confucius, although already Ricci regarded this tolerating only as provisionally. On the other hand a 'NO' to the rites would have from the outset pushed Christianity out into the cold in China; it would have destroyed above all the hope to win the people with the help of the leading classes. Could one expect Christians to make a sacrifice that made them strangers in their families and in the state, if the forbidden thing was not surely and unambiguously idolatry and superstition? After intensive discussions the tolerant attitude became generally accepted among the Jesuit missionaries. It may be mentioned in this connection that a writing of Langobardo was burned on instruction of the Vice-Provincial Furtado. In this writing Langobardo tried to disprove the thesis according to which the Chinese knew something, "that had to do with (the terms) God, angel and rational soul".

The situation changed with the arrival of other missionaries, particularly from the Dominican and Franciscan Order. Now the problem or controversy was no longer limited to the Society of Jesus. The Jesuits, who were already 50 years in the country, usually regarded the mendicant friar only as ignoramus, who was unable to recognize the problem and would create confusion, and would - even with the best will of the world - smash first a great deal Chinese porcelain, whereas these regarded the Jesuits' procedure as slamming the doors shut from inside.

But in the background of the argument there was the question: Is the acceptance of the Christian faith primarily to stand under the sign of a radical break with the pagan past (so the members of the mendicant orders), or rather positively under the sign of completing the former values? The mendicants stressed the scandal of the cross, "for Jew an annoyance, for heathens a foolishness" (1 Cor 1.23), whereas the Jesuits followed St Paul's Areopagus sermon, which preached the Athenian people the unknown God, who was already venerated by them without knowing him (Acts 17).

The opposite attitudes became particularly clear in two questions: first the position of Christ's cross in the missionary preaching; secondly the impressing of the commandments of the Church. As far as this last point is concerned, the Jesuits impressed the obligation to the Sunday mass and the other commandments of the Church usually not as grave obligations. The reason for it was simply that in China Sunday was unknown. On the other hand one had in special way to take into consideration in the pastoral care for women the found social structure.

It is here not possible to follow the whole back and forth of negotiations, Roman decisions and counter decisions, the combination of very different conflicts (for instance the question of the mission patronage on the part of the different European powers). Moreover the opponents worked themselves up in their emotions and so also the irreconcilability of the parties grew more and more. Finally Pope Clemens XI decided in 1704 against the Jesuits and forbade the rites. This quite justifiable decision of the Pope was connected with the unfortunate dispatch of a papal legate to China, who was totally missing in any consideration for Chinese feeling. The papal legation became a disaster, since it was inevitable that Emperor Kang hsi felt insulted. He was embittered that a foreign authority interfered into an affair that could appropriately be judged only by Chinese; but above all Kang hsi was annoyed that his own explanation of the rites had not been taken seriously in Rome. Besides, one had sent to him an incompetent ignoramus as envoy who leaned on alleged "experts" who could interpret just one of four Chinese characters, which were shown to them.

The Rites Controversy came only to its end when Benedict XIV in 1742 shattered any hope the Jesuits for a revision of the Roman judgement and demanded for all future of all China missionaries an oath to keep to the ban on rites. Only in this century (1936 - 39) these ban was revoked. The reasons given by the Papal Congregation "de Propaganda Fide" were: the Christian mission was in no way allowed to try to bring the peoples to change "their rites, customs and traditions if these were not quite clearly and unambiguously against faith and moral" - ironically enough a quotation from the instruction of the "Propaganda" from 1659! At that time however the Propaganda missionaries stood in the question of rites on the opposing side.

I already pointed out that the severe alternative "religious veneration" or "demonstration of civil-family respect" is typically Occidental and was completely foreign to Chinese thinking. Both for ordinary people and intellectuals the ancestor veneration was "religious" and "profane" at the same time. It was expression of a world view in which not the relation to a transcendental God but the fitting into the cosmic whole was crucial, that is it was not about world-transcendence but world-immanence there. The crucial difference in thinking lies here.

With it however it becomes clear: The attempt of the Jesuits (begun by Ricci up to Schall and his successors), to graft Christianity more or less without break on to the Chinese culture, primarily failed for internal reasons already before the Roman prohibition of those rites. Within the intellectual circles of China the refusal of Christianity as religion "foreign" to one's own thinking was already in Schall's time clearly pronounced, independently of the rite question. Just the intellectuals were not ready to take over from the Jesuits anything else than astronomy and technical skills. Schall's figure and his fate is a confirmation of this view.

The attempt of the Jesuits to introduce Christianity in China is commendable, yes, worthy of admiration. But there was not yet any possibility to recognize and overcome the contrasts in thinking, mentality, and world view. The "key" to conversion that Francis Xavier hoped to find in China could not be found yet, although the Jesuits endeavoured to obtain it applying all their energies. That differentiated them from the mendicants, who were under the delusion to be in possession of the right key. The merit is due to the Jesuits for not being content with the brought along key.

 

VI. The "Internal Law of Love" as Motivation for Schall and His Working

After this excursion on the Rites Controversy I would like to return to Adam Schall. If one considers the heights and depths of his working, one automatically asks for an explanation, the driving force, the motivation of his acting. This is by the way not a question only asked by us today. Already about 1600, in the meeting with Ricci, a Chinese literary figure writes: "I do not understand to what purpose he actually came here. I met him already three times and I do not know yet what he wants to make here. I think, if he wanted to replace the theories of Laotse and Confucius with his own teachings, this would be the height of stupidity. That is impossible!"

What is Schall's last motivation? In my opinions it is not a personal or collective thirst for power, as one time and again insinuates and as it is also stated in the charge against Schall. That is an explanation pattern that does in no way apply to Schall and his fellow-Jesuits. They were not interested in building a "Jesuit world domination". On the contrary, we find with Schall a clearly religious motivation. This is closely connected with the figure of Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Order and with the spirituality of the Spiritual Exercises. For Ignatius it is there about the Christian's availability for Christ's call. This availability has the consequence "to help the souls" always and wherever God's greater honour does demand it. Expression for this inner attitude is an apparently paradox word: "contemplativus in actione" - to live united with Got in the middle of any kind of activity and work. This is put into concrete terms by making oneself available for Christ's affairs, by using all available means, by considering all natural abilities of man. At the beginning of the statutes of the Society of Jesus Ignatius talks about the "internal law of love that the Holy Spirit tends to write and impress into the hearts". This "law of love" for the Lord and for human beings is to inspire the individual members of the community in their respective service in the church; this law makes inventive. I am sure: Johann Adam Schall of Bell was inspired by this internal law of love. So he proved to be a worthy son of Ignatius.

 

    {*} Lecture in Leipzig on 16 November 1992

 

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