In following Luther, Protestant attacks on Catholic penance took two seemingly contradictory tacks. On the one hand, the sacrament was impossibly rigourous and tyrannical, and on the other hand, it was so lax as to encourage sin. Humanists among the reformers soon added an historical critique by using patristic texts to show that Catholic claims to ancient tradition had feet of clay. Martin Grabmann and K. Hofmann Paderborn, , pp. B, A2, saw both theological and historical attacks. Protestant authors laid the foundations for an historical understanding of the sacrament.
Their interest was doctrinal and institutional, and their sources were the legal and theological texts that scholasticism had churned out. The scholastic pro et contra provided critics with ample ammunition. The 12th and 13th centuries were the crux. As the Protestants discovered, early scholastic speculation promulgated the doctrine of the seven sacraments. Protestant writers discovered that mandatory, detailed confession of sins along with their attendant circumstances derived from the scholastics and Innocent III.
The Protestant historians had shown, however, that the sacrament had changed considerably over time and that the 16th-century form of confession was a relatively new product of papal authority and scholastic speculation. While this shift drove continued research, it also constrained the questions and answers that research could provide. Matthias Flacius Illyricus et al.
What was earliest was best and truest. F2, charged that Baronius see n. D5; and Casaubon, De rebus sacris, p. A particularly explicit case of meeting historical evidence with authoritative dicta is found in Martin Becanus, Theologiae scholasticae pars tertia. Tractatus secundus de sacramentis ecclesiae Mainz, , pp. The Protestants had the advantage in being the challengers of the status quo. Their ability to historicize the Catholic sacrament in itself transferred it from the realm of eternal biblical truth.
The Age of Engaged Scholarship: However, the 17th century saw a decisive shift from historical theology to history itself. To be sure, that history still served the needs of theology, but at least in some cases it began to shape the theological vision rather than merely provide historical ammunition for theological polemic.
In fact, the Protestants contributed little. Religious orders provided the perfect workers for the scholarly study of the sources. Although the initial impetus for the new scholarship was the confrontation with Protestantism, the theological polemics that this research often served were intra-Catholic. This reflects a new Catholic self-confidence that had written off Protestantism as just another regional heresy that was no longer a threat to the life of the Church as a whole.
But it also reveals a new insularity that. Baronium, Odoricum Raynaldum, ac Iacobum Laderchium. Ad nostra usque tempora continuat, 3 vols Rome, , 1: Casaubon, De rebis sacris, p. Note three late medieval papal decisions, On the condemnation of Peter of Osma in and his relationship to Protestant views of the sacrament, see Raynaldus, On Erasmus, see Raynaldus, Raynaldus does not attack the philological method as such, as the theologians did.
For an example of the latter, see note 68 below. The difference from even Rinaldi is remarkable. Morin shifted the focus from the doctrine of penance to the prescribed practice of the sacrament. For Morin, the story is of a rapid decline of the centuries-old rigourous penitential system accompanied by its theological redefinition; the villains are popes and scholastics; the weapons are indulgences and Aristotelian dialectic.
From around until around , most scholastics teach that absolution applied to the penalty [ poenam] and not the guilt [culpam] incurred by sin, because only. See also Tournely, pp. Public penance was still practised in rural areas; see Morin, p. God can forgive sin. The indicative formula becomes the most common usage by the end of the 13th century. Under the influence of Aristotelian ethical theory, scholastics such as Thomas Aquinas credited the sacrament with more than the simple forgiveness that earlier theologians had acknowledged.
Sacramental penance re-infused the baptismal supernatural habit of grace that in large measure repaired the disorder in the soul and elevated it into a supernatural state of grace worthy of eternal beatitude. The early scholastics envisioned human goodness contrition eliciting forgiveness from a merciful God. While accepting some preliminary human goodness, the habitus theory credited the sacrament with infusing the divine goodness that made the sinner acceptable to God.
Although he often disagreed with Morin, the Jesuit theologian Nicolaus Schmittlein, Dissertatio historico-dogmatico-theologica, de sacramento poenitentiae Bamberg, , p. In other words, the forma makes a thing to be what it is. Attacks on the Jesuits usually targeted their acceptance of attrition, understood as sorrow for sin based not on love of God but solely on fear of hell, as sufficient for forgiveness as well as their assignment of inappropriately light penances.
The other assault on the Jesuits concerned the mendicant-secular controversies over the sacerdos proprius in omnis utrisque sexus. For Aquinas, sacerdotal absolution is the forma, whereas contrition, confession, and satisfaction are the materia. Gallicanism was a movement among French clerics that elevated the role of the bishops and French king in the Church while restraining, to some extent, papal authority. But the establishment of history as a discipline separate from theology was the most significant development of the era.
Morin patiently explained that just because he described the teaching of a theologian did not mean that he agreed with that theologian. Had the teaching of the Church changed or grown with time? On Quietism, see Tournely, p. Jansenism was theologically Augustinian, with an emphasis on human sinfulness, the need for grace, and a demand for more rigourous standards of behaviour.
On Jansenism, see Tournely, p. For an example of the problem, see Schmittlein, Dissertatio, p. In the wake of the Enlightenment and French Revolution, the Catholic Church faced a new interpretation of the history of penance. Building upon the scepticism of the philosophes concerning traditional religion and upon the support of the principle of the secular state embodied in both the American and French revolutions, liberals shifted the focus of scholarship to a new series of issues.
Pursuing these facets, historians attended to new sources, including records of the Inquisition, or to sources that had previously played a marginal role. Finally, informing the entire enterprise was the implicit assumption of a modern, non-confessional, simple, and socially palatable form of Christianity that owed less perhaps to the Gospels than to the shared ethos of the progressive upper and middle classes.
London, , pp. Charles Cocks, 2 vols London, placed special reliance on chronicles [hereafter cited as de Lasteyrie]. Then, the religious orders forwarded reports to their superiors in Rome p. Liberal historians, by contrast, described sacramental penance as a threat to morality or, at the very least, an ineffective bar to immorality. For a general indictment of the confessional as a source of civil unrest, see de Lasteyrie, 1: Boyd, preface, seeks to protect the Church of England from foreign encroachments. In this, the ancient Church, for all its rigour, was no better p.
All this cannot be without inducing a morbid, unmanly condition, opposed certainly to the peace and probably to the vigour of religion. The threat posed to female virtue by the authority of the confessor and the seclusion of the confessional fascinated the critics of the sacrament in a way not seen before. Anti-clerical sentiments gave renewed interest to the history of confessions made to the laity. All told, de Lasterie devotes 26 pages in vol. Much of the best evidence for solicitation came from that source.
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The heightened concern for the financial abuses of both the indulgences and the confessional may well reflect the unease occasioned by the new power and importance of money in early 19th-century capitalism. Theological dogma manifestly determined historical truth, while the defence of the Church provided the justification for studying the history of sacramental penance. He also saw his work as correcting the damage done by contemporary Catholic histories that aided the enemy 5: He concentrated on the upper hierarchy and regular clergy but avoided doctrine.
Instead, much that had been accomplished was passed over in silence or blandly denied. Obviously such skills were not considered a prerequisite. He also also argues 1: Such terms are a strange way for an orthodox Catholic to refer to the theology of St Thomas Aquinas, among others. Louis de Goesbriand, 2nd ed. New York, , p. This work also appeared in at least three French and two Italian editions.
Gustav Flaubert could cite it in court as representing Catholic teaching. Alexandria was represented by the Orthodox patriarch, although the practice in Egypt did not resemble that of the West. It was reduced to a cloud of witnesses. This was hardly a recipe for great history. Despite the twin threats of Protestantism and modern rationalism, sacramental penance actually enjoyed a resurgence in the middle of the 19th century.
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Lutheran Germany joined Anglican England and secular France as a site of contention. In general, Guillois provides extensive quotation from the sources with little commentary. They are to speak for themselves. In this he followed, probably unknowingly, the 16th-century instructions to the first Catholics commissioned to confute the Magdeburg Centuries: Despite its clear theoretical differentiation, the laity saw little or no difference between Lutheran confession and its Catholic predecessor; see E.
Fischer, Zur Geschichte der evangelischen Beichte, vol. On the other, he argued against its reinstitution on the basis of those same Protestant principles. Since private confession had been a confessional, i. Church orders that Steitz chose not to cite show that Lutheran confession became more important in the later 16th century and that it was adopted in new jurisdictions well into the 18th century.
A process that recent historians have labelled confessional i. Jahrhunderts Frankfurt, , p. Zugleich ein Beitrag zur Culturgeschichte Breslau, , pp. Although Steitz, Privatbeichte, pp. Pfisterer, Luthers Lehre von der Beichte Stuttgart, Confessional in this use of the word stems from formal and legally binding confessions of faith such as the Augsburg Confession Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries A combination of factors in s Germany launched the modern age of scholarship on penance.
The Kulturkampf —91 pitting the Protestant Imperial regime against the Catholic Church produced another battle to seize the high ground of history. The Rankean revolution in historical studies forged new weapons and professional standards, while German Romanticism pointed the way to popular sources, often in the vernacular, little exploited by earlier scholarship.
In spirit, the new Catholic scholarship reached back to the scholars of the 17th and 18th centuries upon whose works it often drew. It was seen as a way to combat the vice that had followed the abolition of Catholic penance. Although a Protestant, Geffchen was impressed by efforts of the old Church to instruct its flocks, even if he rejected the teaching itself. Studien zur Konzilien- und Reformationsgeschichte. Liberal Protestant historians blended the secular and Protestant traditions in an updated critique of medieval and early modern penance. Their own preference for a doctrinally broad and morally centred interpretation of Christianity led them to harp upon the laxity of the late medieval penitential regime.
Fearing the politically potent confessional in a democratic state, Henry Charles Lea — skilfully drew upon intra-Catholic arguments to attack the doctrine of attrition, the deleterious affects of indulgences, the granting of indulgences for the dead, and solicitation in the confessional. German Protestants also cited scholastic speculations on attrition to claim that Catholic teaching required neither faith nor love of God to receive forgiveness.
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Geburtstag gewidmet, 2 vols. Eine kritische Untersuchung Freiburg, For a considerably less even-handed Catholic treatment of the period, see Vincenz Hasak, Dr. Hasak credits Luther with all of the ills of modern society: Dieckhoff, Der Ablassstreit Gotha, , pp. Register Freiburg, , pp. A rigourous but external system of discipline through which the Church forgave sinners gave way to an emphasis on contrition that put in question the need for confession and absolution by a priest.
The liberal Protestant charge that scholastic attrition undermined the ethical rigour and religious justification for penance therefore attacked the fundamental sacramental doctrine of the Church and the role of the priest in forgiving sin. The Catholic response came in two forms: The conservative theological response continued to reject the idea of change, especially at the hands of the heretical Abelard. Carl von Weizsaecker zu seinen siebzigsten Geburtstage Freiburg, , pp. The conservative sacramental position was defended by Hugh of St Victor; see pp.
As he remarks, Luther fell further short of that standard than the Catholics. He also questioned p. It was much noise and fury signifying nothing. In essence, history remained a problem for the conservatives, and they limited its usefulness to apologetics. Catholic scholars finally overcame the impasse by reviving the 17thcentury distinction between essential doctrine and mutable practice or by following Cardinal Newman, and Darwin, in allowing for an evolution of unfolding truth.
Kurtscheid also conceded p. Umberg in Stimmen aus Maria-Laach 83 , , that had also noticed this significant claim. He criticizes Guillois p. An interest in late medieval penitential theology also began to manifest itself. In a series of important articles, Nikolaus Paulus cited dozens of pastoralia, works of edification, and artes moriendi to prove that whatever scholastics may have said, the faithful were taught on the ground that only sorrow occasioned by love of God was sufficient to receive forgiveness in confession. Luther did so to achieve a decided advantage in the appeal to the larger population.
Georg Schreiber Freiburg, , p. Lamprechts Rome, , p. The larger goal was to dissolve the exclusive linkage of printing with the Protestant Reformation that had bolstered the identification of Protestantism with the progress so valued by the 19th century. Already by the end of the 12th century, the borders between theology and canon law had been erased p. Dietterle urged Protestants to make use of these sources p. See also Joseph Greving, ed. Quellen zur Geschichte einer Pfarrkirche Stuttgart, , p. The bina confessio required confession at the beginning and end of Lent.
There was a separate schedule for the second confession, and Florentius Diel was concerned that the laity perform the second confession with the same priest; see Falk, Pfarramtlichen Aufzeichnungen, pp.
The Catholic campaign to uncover sources documenting the reality of late medieval Catholicism thus had an ambivalent outcome. On the other hand, they had also uncovered evidence of the perfunctory nature of confession for the mass of the population. While Falk was explicitly concerned to meet Protestant criticisms, younger scholars were more likely to pursue the less partisan goal of describing late medieval religion as an end in itself or as a reflection of local pride.
The Turn Inward The interwar years saw a number of crucial changes in approach, in topics, and in sources. Catholic authors further abandoned long-held apologetic positions at the same time as they turned inward to investigate their own tradition. Research was no longer driven primarily to argue against the Protestants. Instead, the intramural scholastic battle revived. Not unrelated was the French challenge to the German.
Wilhelm Eberhard Schwarz, ed. L, CIV, shows that confession was not even on the agenda for this visitation. Nonetheless, the visitors uncovered a number of priests who did not know the formula of absolution p. Greving, Ecks Pfarrbuch, p. In what was perhaps the most startling change, the Luther Renaissance produced a new Protestant understanding of Luther that shifted the focus from indulgences to sacramental penance, from charges of Catholic laxity to complaints of Catholic oppressiveness.
Canon law also began to contend with theology as a way of understanding the medieval penitential system. Finally, the rosy picture of medieval piety suffered painful contradiction that presaged a decisive development in the scholarly understanding of penance and of medieval religion as a whole. Much of the movement resulted from a changing of the guard, as a new generation replaced the pre-war cohort. Nikolas Paulus was an exception, but even his work showed important shifts. His history of indulgences reminds one of the French general staff—always fighting the last war. Building on the work of the preceding generation, Protestants and Catholics agreed that medieval penance had undergone extensive changes that resulted in three quite distinct periods in its history: Jahrhunderts, 3 vols Paderborn, — This chapter was published separately and found an English translation in the United States: Indulgences as a Social Factor in the Middle Ages, trans.
Elliot Ross New York, But confession to a layperson could evoke and express heartfelt sorrow just as well as confession to a priest. In fact, the Church orders the faithful to confess to a layperson in cases of dire necessity. For a resume of the entire historical development, see pp. On its influence, see pp. He credits another Franciscan, Duns Scotus, with completing the development of a purely sacerdotal confession; see pp.
Teetaert was willing to consider dangerous topics, perhaps, because his audience was Catholic and his book was part of an internal Catholic conversation. He never mentions Protestant scholars or Protestant objections. The discussion of contrition experienced a similar inward turn. Reviving the contritionist controversies of the 17th century, the Franciscan Valens Heynck sought to retrieve and rehabilitate the Scotist theology of penance.
Although Heynck was aware of Protestant interest in the topic, his real targets were the Thomists. For both, contrition was the product of justifying grace [ gratia gratum faciens], whereas. The tradition of canon law was quite open about this. On Sicard of Cremona, see p. On Huguccio, see p. On the Glossa Ordinaria of Johannes Teutonicus, see p. Duns Skotus Freiburg, Scotus conceded that true contrition attained forgiveness by itself outside of the sacrament of penance.
In confession, however, absolution effected forgiveness, and attrition sufficed. But both routes to forgiveness were based on acceptatio, i. According to Heynck, later Scotists, who nonetheless remained faithful in spirit to the master, as well as the otherwise Thomistic Jesuits began the successful, and beneficial, spread of attritionism throughout the modern Church. Most Catholic scholarship continued to be apologetic, even if it was now intramural. To do that required exhaustive research of all the surviving texts, especially those written by less well-known or accomplished thinkers.
Research should not be limited to theological or canon law texts devoted specifically to penance but should also include, for example, biblical commentaries. Great care must be taken not to assume that medieval terminology was the same as modern usage. Nowhere does Landgraf give an explanation of why one should devote such time and effort to the study of a rite that had only tenuous ties to the present. The list of issues he presented is based. But then, with no fanfare or indication that he is entering into a confessional minefield, he asks why justification was always ascribed to faith.
Why was preparation for justification exclusively assigned to acts of faith? It is particularly telling that in his discussion of faith and justification Landgraf nowhere mentions Luther.
Landgraf undoubtedly had his own religious commitments, but one would be hard-pressed to find them here. While Catholics turned away from Protestant critiques, the Luther Renaissance, led by Karl Holl, replaced the liberal Luther with an orthodox one. The Church was well aware of the problem of scrupulosity among monks and those whom they influenced. In that same article, he denies that early scholasticism ascribed an independent causality to the sacraments but, instead, saw direct divine causality.
Appel makes clear his debt to the new understanding of Luther pp. For a brief summary of that understanding, see The Catholic turn inward was reinforced by the growing influence of canon law studies. The revised Code effected a fundamental updating of canon law that was also more systematic and uniform. Much of the medieval and early modern tradition was retained, but it was clear to the redactors that this material came from a time very different than their own.
Seuse gave it much more weight; see Appel, Anfechtung und Trost, pp. An historical synopsis and commentary diss. Problemata ex doctrina poenali decretistarum et decretalistarum a Gratiano usque ad Gregorium PP. Romae 12—17 Novembris Pontificium Institutum Utriusque Juris, 5 vols. Rome, , , 3: The canonists also extended the notion of jurisdiction to sacramental penance by identifying it with the keys. As a result, they claimed that forgiveness of sins required an exercise of both sacramental and jurisdictional powers.
A Historical Synopsis and a Commentary diss. Scholastic theologians such as Albertus. Non-legal scholarship would take up the same themes in later decades. The most important interwar rethinking of the history of penance, however, was provided by Peter Browe in a series of studies on the frequency of both penance and communion. He also argued that the hierarchy, far from urging frequency, had often opposed it. Clearly, one conclusion that could be drawn is that neither reception of the Eucharist nor confession had the centrality accorded them since the Counter Reformation.
Magnus and Thomas Aquinas, though they drew upon canon law, were very critical of it and its use in theology, especially in sacramental theology. Dalgairns, The Holy Communion: Its Philosophy, Theology, and Practice, 3rd ed. Dublin, , p. According to Dalgairns, infrequent communion was only common in the 4th century and again in the 10th—13th centuries. The Hussites eventually took it up. Generally, a Christian had to ask special permission to receive the Eucharist beyond the three high feasts of Easter, Christmas, and Pentecost p.
But that realization made possible treatments of medieval and early modern penance with no precedent in the tradition. The supernatural receded as the natural became normative. Sociology and psychology contended with theology for dominance. Interest shifted from clerical doctrine to the place of penance in the larger society, as well as to the impact of penance upon the individual and groups. The immediate post-war decades saw a concern for moral theology, the history of piety, and the institutional significance of the sacrament. The predominant approach may be described as legal-sociological.
And the sources of choice were very often the pastoralia, whose study the earlier Catholic scholarship had begun but whose range was extended and whose content more closely analysed to uncover their personal and social impact. Pastoral care or the cura animarum took centre stage. The works of Gabriel Le Bras are veritable manifestoes: Meier, Das peccatum mortale ex toto genere suo Regensburg, Also new was the growing role of British scholars and studies of late medieval England. For the early scholastics, confession is simply an ecclesiastical ordinance based on the Epistle of James. Although Anciaux humbly claims only to have collected the texts necessary for a synthesis, he actually provides one.
The canonists generally and some theologians considered only solemn penance as sacramental; see pp. The weakness of the sacramentality of priestly absolution may have led thinkers to rely more on canonistic ideas of jurisdiction; see pp. In general, Anciaux distinguishes himself from both Protestants and conservative Catholics; see p. While, of course, not questioning the basic sacramental understanding of penance developed by the scholastics and ratified by Trent, he clearly was interested in moving on. His review of Tridentine and post-Tridentine attrition controversies discussed most of the writers already mentioned in this essay and brought the argument up to his own time.
And despite the best efforts of scholars such as Morin who pointed out its incompatibility with the tradition, attritionism became and remained the dominant teaching of modern theologians. See also Gordon J. Gembloux, , pp. Bernhard Poschmann, Der Ablass im Lichte der Bussgeschichte Bonn, , is even more daring since he argues that, in line with patristic thought, all indulgences not just those for the dead are simply supplications by the Church, which is morally not juridically sure of a divine response.
Trent is clearly not a source. Poschmann only mentions it on the last page to assert that his argument does not run afoul of its decrees. The catechism also offers an attritionist position; see Catechism of the Catholic Church Liguori, Mo. Accepting the findings of the previous century, Vorgrimler viewed Vatican II as the beginning of a new era for which the medieval tradition had limited value.
Research into the immediate context, problems and concerns of the Council Fathers, usually based on preliminary discussions and early drafts of conciliar decrees, served to deconstruct the conciliar doctrine. Vorgrimler was a follower of Karl Rahner on the sacrament. Josef Kisser et al. Vienna, , pp. Braeckmans claimed for the modern Church the same right to innovate as the scholastics exercised. Umkehr, Busse und Beichte: See for example, see Josef A.
Jungmann, Die lateinischen Bussriten in ihrer geschichtlichen Entwicklung Innsbruck, , p. Meanwhile, Lutheran treatments of penance experienced a pastoral turn that resulted in a more positive reassessment. Pierre MichaudQuantin and Leonard Boyle mined the summae confessorum for access to the workings of that nexus. Gabriel Biel and late medieval nominalism Cambridge, Mass. A comparative study of the anthropology of Johannes Tauler, Jean Gerson and Martin Luther —16 in the context of their theological thought Leiden, Although Calvin repeated the standard Protestant criticism of the terrors of confession, in general he agreed with the Catholics that oppressed consciences were not the major challenge facing the Church.
For Calvin, Christians who turned a blind eye to their own failings and those who actually gloried in their supposed virtue were the greater problem. New editions of the foundational summae also appeared, e. Michaud-Quantin also challenged the modern belief that the manuals fixated upon sexual sins. Usury and economic crimes received at least as much attention. Leonard Boyle had a more sanguine view of the manuals. As with much British scholarship on the late medieval Church, Boyle generally credits the clergy with good intentions, some learning, and much effort.
That process began with the 11th-century pseudo-Augustinian De vera et falsa. Michaud-Quantin, Sommes de casuistique, pp.
Stephen Kuttner and J. Joseph Ryan Vatican City, , pp. Maurer, 2 vols Toronto, , 1: Heffernan Knoxville, , pp. This last piece has an interesting chart of types of pastoralia p. Essays in Memory of Beryl Smalley, ed. Katherine Walsh and Diana Wood Oxford, , pp. Literary historians showed new interest in the vernacular versions of the pastoralia: Closely related was interest in the seven deadly sins: Often written by university-trained parish priests, these manuals were intensely practical. However, neither Michaud-Quantin nor Boyle dealt with the extent of their impact upon either the clergy or the laity.
Alois Lamott noted that the sacrament of penance was often lacking in printed Speyer liturgies, or was only represented by a simple formula of absolution. Not surprisingly, visitations in that region revealed a widespread ignorance of the proper conduct of confession and of the formula of absolution.
Even so, abstention was not rare. The s and Beyond The history of penance experienced a quiet revolution beginning in the early s. Although questions from the Catholic and Protestant scholarly traditions remained significant, the secular tradition threatened their predominance. Theological history was mainly left to Protestant historians, while social theory presided elsewhere. The United States and Italy became very important centres of research. Lay scholars swelled in both numbers and influence as the universities, especially in the United States, grew at a remarkable rate.
Early modern historians shifted their attention to the later Reformation and the Counter-Reformation. Students of both the medieval and early modern sacrament became increasingly interested in its implementation, its impact, and its role in the structuring of church and society. Lacking the apologetic impulse that had driven scholarship since the Reformation, Catholics made few contributions to the history of theology. Drawing upon both late medieval manuals and early Reformation pamphlets, he argued that the same combination of oppression, often tied to confession, and liberation drove the early Reformation.
Also, in contrast to more recent works, it presents an optimistic picture of increasing frequency and sophistication of confession. However, interest in the individual appropriation of the sacrament continued. But the significance of the indulgence controversy was also reaffirmed. Essays in Honour of Steven Ozment, ed. Forster and Benjamin J.
Mansfield combined a sceptical reading of the early scholastic theologians, a careful consideration of the liturgical manuscripts, and anecdotal evidence to subvert the traditional narrative of penance in the 12th and 13th centuries. In general, the Protestant tradition presented Catholic penance as a powerful mix of discipline—both individual and social—with a clerically monopolized sacramental consolation. Ronald Rittgers has shown that, by contrast, Lutheran private confession privileged consolation and guarded the autonomy and privacy of the individual conscience.
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The confessionalization thesis see below posits that the early modern German states created obedient Mary C. Mansfield, The Humiliation of Sinners. Lacking both Catholic confessional and Reformed discipline, how did Lutheran states impose social discipline on their no less refractory subjects? A further question concerns the association of confessionalism and modernization. Traditionally, Reformation Lutheranism has enjoyed the reputation of progressiveness, in large measure because of the freedom of conscience that it fostered. One, based on Norbert Elias and Max Weber, emphasizes the role of social control in the creation of the self-disciplined subject necessary to the modern state and capitalism.
The other appeals to individual liberty as the catalyst for the morally autonomous citizen. A measure of the changes in the study of sacramental penance is that Rittgers chose to address criticism more from the secular tradition than from the Catholic. Turning to the Catholic interpretive tradition, it is surprising how small a role confession had traditionally played in discussions of Catholic confessionalism and the Counter-Reformation. John Bossy Cambridge, ; A. A Guide to Research, ed.
A Guide to Research II, ed. Maltby St Louis, ; R. Even when dealing with the Jesuits, the topics of preaching, schools, and the Spiritual Exercises—not frequent confession—were central. He maintained that early modern Roman Catholicism, for all of its continuity with medieval religion, constituted a new form of religiosity with no precedent in the tradition. Whereas Delumeau credited the advances of early modern society, particularly education, for the success of the Church, Bossy suggested that religious change helped drive and direct the larger societal evolution toward modernity.
Von der Antike bis zum Ehalt Vienna and Cologne, Soergel, Wondrous in His Saints. Foster, Catholic Revival in the Age of the Baroque. Religious Identity in Southwest Germany, — Cambridge, The new model of penance promoted by the Jesuits is, by contrast, frequent, individual, secret, and thorough. Although requiring an intense introspection, behaviour modification, not spiritual exaltation, is the goal of Jesuit confession.
The rising frequency of confession indicates that the Jesuits enjoy some success. Of course, the inward appropriation of societal norms effected by frequent confession was a most effective instrument of social control. The secular critique of confession as a tool of absolutism, an unwarranted invasion of individual privacy, and a spur to immorality has experienced a remarkable resurgence.
The confessionalization thesis refurbishes the repressive interpretation. As elaborated by Wolfgang Reinhard and Heinz Schilling, often enriched by the theories of Norbert Elias and Michel Foucault, and especially when combined with Delumeau and Bossy, confessionalization offered a secular nexus between theology and practice, individual and social, psychology and sociology, as well as spirituality and discipline, all as part of a grand. Myers calculated that a priest in Freising would have had to allow only 2.
Die Entwicklung des Beichtstuhls in der katholischen Kirche: Italian scholars have been particularly taken with its applicability to the role that Tridentine Catholicism played in moulding the Italian character. Scott Dixon, The German Reformation: The Essential Readings Oxford, , pp. Heinz Schilling Berlin, Central Europe, — New York, Inquisitori, confessori, missionari Turin, , pp.
Even works devoted to confession itself reflect this approach, e. Compare, however, Di Simplicio, Peccato penitenza perdono. He criticizes the unhealthy combination of secret confession and clerical celibacy in a more sophisticated and Freudian way than his 19th-century predecessors. Medieval penance did not experience a surge of interest equal to the early modern sacrament. But confession remained an important topic for medievalists of every period.
A Sacrament Profaned Oxford, Essays in Honor of Natalie Zemon Davis, ed. Vatican II Church undercut continued interest in the subject, however. Editions and studies of summae and manuals continued to appear and helped integrate those sources into the larger picture of the medieval Church and its mission. Because preachers often sought to educate and motivate Christians to confess their sins, the relationship of preaching and confession was very close.
Robert Grosseteste, Templum Dei, ed. Joseph Goering and F. France, Italie, Suisse Geneva, , pp. Pierre-Marie Gy Paris, , pp. Rome, 22—23 juin Rome, , pp. In both preaching and penance, however, the mendicant orders produced many of the manuals, provided often unwanted assistance, and entered into competition with the parish clergy for the offerings. Conclusion For most of the nine centuries discussed here, the historiography of penance has been part of the process that it studied.
The recent secularization of the field, however, breaks that cycle with unforeseeable consequences. Which is as it should be. Complete objectivity presupposes irrelevancy and produces mere antiquarianism. Nonetheless, the lowering of inter-confessional antipathies may allow scholars to escape a tunnel vision that has limited the scope and depth of both historical and theological considerations of sacramental penance.
Students of the late medieval sacrament face the critical question: It is clear that the Church invested a great deal in the effort to bring penance to the parish. The proliferation of manuals, both in manuscript and print, attests to both concerned authors and interested readers.
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However, what was the. When one adds up all of the surviving manuscripts, for example, just how many clerics could have benefited from them? To be sure, what survives is not what once existed. But still, would it be possible to compare what was produced to what would have been needed for the task at hand? Were there ways in which more learned and more experienced priests could instruct and advise with some regularity the less well-prepared? But of course, the manuals and their contents could only have an impact when Christians went to confession. Are the indications that we have from the later Middle Ages accurate?
Was it the case that for most of the laity, one annual confession sufficed? How many confessed two or three times a year? And how many made a regular practice of confessing their sins to a priest? If it is true that the mass of the population underwent confession once a year, but that a minority, and perhaps a substantial minority, visited the priest more frequently, does that perhaps suggest a growing cleavage among the faithful concerning the basic character of their religiosity?
What did it mean to be Christian in the later Middle Ages? What would be the profile of the religious experience of the average churchgoer? Especially, when one considers that most Christians may only have received the Eucharist once a year as well. Most would have been present at the weekly Mass in which the sacrament of the altar was confected, but that is a far different experience than the actual reception of the element s. Questions concerning the nature and extent of late medieval penance reinforce other concerns about the sacrament in the 11th and 12th centuries.
If one does not assume the modern, that is post-Reformation, form of the sacrament as the implicit norm, the development of the sacrament beginning in the late 11th century really needs explaining. It is by no means clear that the early medieval form of the sacrament would necessarily evolve into the high medieval scholastic enterprise.
Given the seeming resistance or indifference of most Christians in later centuries, the new penance of 12th and 13th centuries did not seem to respond to demand on the part of the populus dei. The parish clergy also evinced no great interest or desire for the innovation. It was hard work, and may have been completely alien to their traditional religious frame of reference. Were there developments outside of the schools to which the Masters responded?
Or is it possible that theologically the new penance was simply the product of systematic speculation by contending scholastics? That the more practically minded canon lawyers. We just know too little about the actual practice of the sacrament during the years in which Abelard and the Lombard were active. Looking further afield, are there comparable institutions or practices in other cultures involving confession and penance in a religious context?
Or was the Catholic sacrament of penance sui generis? The role of medieval penance in bringing about the Reformation remains unresolved, although if infrequent and superficial confession was typical of the later Middle Ages, consciences oppressed by the confessional would seem to be relatively rare. If we are to take Martin Luther as a model, however, we should look closely at the more consolatory form of penance and at the willing confessant rather than the reluctant. The relationship of penance to confessionalization can only be addressed through further local studies. But already research has uncovered three distinct types of sacramental penance during the Counter Reformation.
Borromeo in Milan was a model for those Catholic reformers who favoured a rigourous, contrition-based, penal form of the sacrament. The Jesuits of Bavaria, in contrast, promoted a kinder, gentler form of penance that was attrition-based, and they sought to form souls more than pay debts, either to God or to the community. But Marc Forster has discovered that peasant communities in southwest Germany who were concerned to maintain their Catholic identity successfully resisted innovation and maintained the traditional annual confession.
Future research might profitably investigate where these three forms appear. Parallel to such research should be a detailed examination of the pastoralia, particularly manuals for confessors, in the 17th and 18th centuries, much as already been done for the later Middle Ages. Besides expanding the chronological scope, more attention should be given to other parts of Europe besides Germany and Italy, for example France, Spain, and Eastern Europe, but also Holland and England. The adaptation of sacramental penance in officially Protestant nations should shed light on what at least some Catholics thought was fundamental to the sacrament.
Beyond the confines of Christian Europe, the efforts of Catholic missionaries around the globe should be examined to see how successfully they implanted the sacrament of penance. Taking a cue from subaltern studies, it would be interesting to know whether. Although much of the motivation for studying penance has faded, the prospects for the study of the sacrament are in fact quite exciting.
In this essay I take as my point of departure the persistent medieval idea of the existence of a Roman penitential; I take this up to the beginning of the 20th century, when this myth was finally laid to rest. The method to demonstrate that this penitential was mythical in character was developed in 19th-century forms of textual criticism, which flourished mainly in Germany.
This German tradition has proved to be a recurring feature of research into penitential texts to the present day. Many textual studies and important new editions bear the mark of this German tradition of scholarship. The most influential historical framework within which these texts have been interpreted was designed by Bernhard Poschmann in the period between the two World Wars, a framework that has only recently come under critical scrutiny.
The secular ritual of submission known as deditio borrowed so many features from the ecclesiastical rites of penance that they are sometimes hard to tell apart. The famous humiliation of the emperor Henry IV before Pope Gregory VII at Canossa, for example, traditionally described as a ritual of public penance, has lately been regarded as such a ritual. The rising interest in the history of mentalities and in cultural history since the s has resulted in a growing interest in the role of confession and penance in early medieval culture.
Also, the actual forms the process of confession and penance took are regarded by some scholars as indicators of the nature of early medieval religiosity and culture. The stress on exteriority, exemplified by the emphasis on forms of sinful behaviour without looking so much at their motivations and on the acts of penance instead of on feelings of remorse, has been regarded as an indicator of an archaic or archaizing civilization. As will become clear, however, the significance of penance and confession for early medieval culture and society is still a subject for debate.
The Myth of the Roman Penitential Since the beginning of the 20th century, it has been well established that the practice of secret penance, with its concomitant handbooks for confessors, known as libri paenitentiales or penitentials, originated in the regions of Ireland, Wales, and Cornwall. Penitential handbooks are generally regarded as an indicator for the existence of the practice of secret penance, since this genre was created to assist confessors when hearing confession.
Only very rarely do we find references to penitential practice in other sources, and for this reason penitential handbooks still provide the basic framework for a history of penance in the early Middle Ages. Hermann Joseph Schmitz, suffragan bishop of Cologne in the years —99, was the last one who defended the thesis of the Roman origin of the practice of private confession, and he therefore advocated the existence of an original Roman penitential as the fountainhead from which all later works of this genre sprang.
Actually, penitentials reached Rome as late as the 10th century, and the one text that might properly be called a Roman penitential, the so-called For discussion about the interpretation of this event, see W. Thumser Stuttgart, , pp. Althoff, Die Macht der Rituale. Symbolik und Herrschaft im Mittelalter Darmstadt, , p. Paenitentiale Vaticanum, dates from the 10th century. If that were the case, one would expect more attributions to a Roman penitential in this text. Possibly, the allusion to Rome has more to do with the Roman background of the Greek monk Theodore, who spent perhaps as many as 20 years in Rome before being sent to Canterbury by Pope Vitalian in Vorlesungen im Rahmen eines Seminars, Sprache: Es handelt sich um einen Reader zu meinen Vorlesungen zur Sakramentenlehre.
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