DPPL 31: Medieval Developments

STA altar at night smallIf DPPL 30 catalogued the liturgy-piety split, this section looks at some positive developments:

31. The Middle Ages saw the emergence and development of many spiritual movements and associations of different ecclesiastical and juridical form. Their life and activities had notable consequences for the relationship between Liturgy and popular piety.

+1 for the Dominicans and especially the Franciscans, it would seem:

The new religious orders of evangelical and apostolic life, devoted their efforts to preaching and adopted simpler liturgical forms in comparison to those found in the monasteries. These liturgical forms were often close to the people and to their expressive forms. On the other hand, they also developed and promoted pious exercises that encapsulated their charism, and diffused them among the people.

Lay people continued to live discipleship, even if the liturgy was more and more shut off from them:

The emergence of the Confraternities, with their religious and charitable objectives, and of the lay corporations with their professional interests, gave rise to a certain popular liturgical activity. These often erected chapels for their religious needs, chose Patrons and celebrated their feast days. Not infrequently, they compiled the officia parva and other prayers for the use of their members. These frequently reflected the influence of the Liturgy as well as containing elements drawn from popular piety.

The various schools of spirituality that had arisen during the middle ages became an important reference point for ecclesial life. They inspired existential attitudes and a multiplicity of ways of interpreting life in Christ and in the Holy Spirit. Such interpretations exercised considerable influence on the choice of celebration (e.g. episodes from the Passion of Christ) and were the basis of many pious exercises.

Passion plays feature in our memory of medieval dramas.

Civil society, constituted ideally as a societas Christiana, modeled many of its structures on ecclesiastical usage and measured itself according to the rhythms of liturgical life. An example of this is to be found in the ringing of bells in the evening which called the peasants from the fields and simultaneously signaled the Angelus.

Intentionality or happy accident?

The full document, the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, is online at the Vatican site.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, post-conciliar liturgy documents. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to DPPL 31: Medieval Developments

  1. Liam says:

    In the long era before artificial light, work days followed the length of the solar day (with summer months even longer in northern latitudes due to the prolonged twilight), except for privileged classes that could afford to fuel oil lamps or precious wax candles (tallow candles, made from left over beef and lamb suet, were very sooty and burned faster). And the harvest was at its height in July (wheat harvest; barley harvest occurred earlier, and rye and oats later; tree fruits and grapes and olives later still). One can find illustrations of the months of the years showing the intense labor of the long days of July; simultaneously dreaded and long anticipated.

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