Reconciliation
Part 2 History

Chapter r24 The Medieval Period [1200-1299]

Preliminary Questions

Bibliography

History Grid

 

Reconciliation During the Early Middle Ages

The Scholastics and Reconciliation

 

Res, Sacramentum, Res et Sacramentum

Notes on the Schema for the Scholastic Period

To Think About

Preliminary Questions

How is scholastic confession different from Celtic Penance?  How is scholastic confession different from the Sacrament of Reconciliation? 

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Bibliography

Dallen, Chapter 4: Pastoral Adaptation in the Middle Ages, pp 100-138.

Dallen, Chapter 5: The Origins of Modern Confession, pp 139-167.

Dallen, Chapter 6: Modern Penance and the Counter-Reformation, pp 168-204.

Martos pp 291-305.

Osborne, "The Sacrament of Penance and the Theologies of Justification from the Twelfth Century to the Reformation," pp 102-136.

Read a section of St. Thomas or another scholastic on the Sacrament of Penance.

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History Grid

History of the Sacrament of Reconciliation

Name(Jesus and Sub-apostolic Church)Canonical Penance (Order of Penitents)Celtic Penance (Tariff Penance)Scholastic ConfessionReconciliation
Dates30-300300-600600-900900-19741974-present
Paradigm (Think...)Jesus in the GospelsBaptismDoctor visitJuridical trial 
Process (Stages)Former life
conversion
catechumen
elect
faithful
Sin
contrition
penance
eucharist
(=absolution)
reconciliation
Sin
telling
penance
Sin
conscience
confession
absolution
penance
 
LiturgyBaptism-confirmation-eucharistOrder of Penitents:
weepers
kneelers
hearers
None[None]
words of
absolution
 
MinistriesCommunity and its ministers and its overseerCommunity and its ministers and its overseerHoly person (who can read a tariff from the book)An ordained priest with proper jurisdiction 
Positive AspectsPart of the ongoing journey of the holy ChurchA liturgical process involving the whole communityHealing; quicker; repeatableRepeatable; eradicate sins, sin by sin 
Negative AspectsNo provision for exceptional tragic situationsOnce only; long and very hard; punishmentPrivate; no liturgy; (danger of money abuses)Sin is private; not liturgical but devotional; routine 

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Reconciliation During the Early Middle Ages

1. Peter Abelard

2. Peter Lombard

3. Peter of Poitiers

1215  The Fourth Lateran Council  -- Canon 21, commanded everyone -- men and women "Omnis utriusque sexus" -- who had reached "the years of discretion" had to confess all their sins at least once a year to their own parish priest.  And everyone had to receive Communion at EasterThese are the first "laws" obliging  confession and Eucharist.  Anyone who did not "make their Easter Duty" was barred from entering a church building for the rest of their life and were denied Christian burial after their death!

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The Scholastics and Reconciliation

1. St. Thomas Aquinas

Summa Theologiae, 3a. 84-90
    Prima Pars - Theology, God, the World, etc.
        Prima Secundae - Morality, etc. Secunda Secundae - Virtues, etc.
            Tertia Pars - Christ, Redemption, and the Sacraments
                Sacraments 60-65
                    Baptism and Confirmation 66-72
                    The Eucharistic Presence 73-78
                    The Eucharist 79-83
                    Penance 84-90

Question 84. The Sacrament of Penance

Introduction to Question 84:  "We now have to consider the sacrament of Penance; and under the following headings:  first, Penance itself (84-85); second, its effect (86-89); third, its parts (90); fourth, the recipients of this sacrament; (Thomas stopped writing after Question 90.) fifth, the power of the ministers belonging to the keys; sixth, the solemn rite of this sacrament.  Under the first heading there are two studies:  first, the sacrament of Penance; then, the virtue of penance."

Article 1. Is Penance a sacrament?
Article 2. Are sins the proper matter of this sacrament?
Article 3. Is the form of this sacrament "I absolve you"?
Article 4. Is the laying on of the priest's hands required for this sacrament?
Article 5. Is this sacrament necessary for salvation?
Article 6. Is Penance a "second plank after shipwreck"
Article 7. Was it well for this sacrament to have been instituted in the New Law?
Article 8. Ought Penance to last until the end of life?
Article 9. Is it possible for penance to be continuous?
Article 10. Should the sacrament of Penance be repeated?

Question 85. The Virtue of Penitence
Question 86. The Effect of Penance
Question 87. Pardon for Venial Sins
Question 88. The Return of Sins Once Forgiven
Question 89. Virtue Regained through Penance
Question 90. The Parts of Penance in General

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Bonaventure

John Duns Scotus

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Res, Sacramentum, Res et Sacramentum

See the explanation of these terms in the glossary

Sacramentum = the rite
Res et Sacramentum = reconciliation with the Church
Res = divine forgiveness.

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Notes on the Schema for the Scholastic Period

Name:  Church called it "Penance"; people called it "Confession."

Dates:  900 to 1974 when the Rite of Reconciliation was published

Paradigm: Juridical trial, Law court.  [Going before the judge; judge must have proper jurisdiction; judge must hear the case clearly and accurately in order to impose the sentence and punishment.]

Process (Stages):  sin, contrition, repentance, examination of conscience, confession, ABSOLUTION, penance, [reconciliation?]  Note:  Absolution is given before the penance is done!

Liturgy:  None.  The Roman Ritual spoke of confession in "Chapter III:  Common Form of Absolution."   Very few (none?) liturgical elements:  the priest sometimes wore a stole (often what was referred to as an "accordion stole") but no one saw whether he had it on or not.

Ministries:  The minister of the Sacrament is the ordained priest with power of orders and the power of jurisdiction (faculties). [The rite is reduced to absolution.   Questions of power and jurisdiction:  "When can I give absolution and when do I deny absolution?"

Positive Aspects:  [i.e. values which are emphasized in this form of the sacrament]

It was repeatable
Somewhat more liturgical than the tariff penance
Can get to Communion quicker
Penance less severe
The "Passio" prayer applied the super-abundant merits of Jesus, Mary and the other Saints to the sinner
The "humility" required on the part of the penitent to tell his or her sins to the priest was itself seen as a penance
Saint Thomas warns the confessor not to heap to many logs on the fire when it is only beginning to be enkindled
Ordinary penance becomes 6 Our Father's for big sins and 3 Hail Mary's for little sins

Negative Aspects:  [i.e. values which are not emphasized or not emphasized sufficiently in this form of the sacrament]

Not very liturgical (absolution only)
Not ecclesial except in that you need an ordained priest with jurisdiction.
Focus is on forgiving the sin and not on the reconciliation
Absolution placed before doing the penance
Emphasis on the absolution
Open to the suspicion of magic
Open to abuses of money, stipend payments, misuse of indulgences and power.

Scholastic Confession was an attempt to integrate the best parts of Canonical and Tariff Penance:

Contrition

Contrition / Attrition

Perfect and Imperfect

What removes sin? Contrition or Absolution

Scholastic question now in different perspective

Sacrament celebration of gift given

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To Think About

Be able to take Scholastic Penance through the History Grid from memory. 

Go to the previous period of this history Go to the next period of this history

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Copyright: Tom Richstatter.  All Rights Reserved.  This page was created by Fr. Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M.  Every effort has been, and is being made to acknowledge sources when the ideas are not my own.  Any failure to comply with the United States Copyright Act (Title 17, United States Code) will be corrected immediately should I become aware of it.  This site was updated on 02/12/14 .  Your comments on this site are welcome at trichstatter@franciscan.org