What Were Children Instructed Before the Council of Trent?


#1

Hello. :) Before the Council of Trent, and the promulgation of the Roman Catechism, what were children instructed before receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation? Were they taught everything that was in the Catechism?

I don't mean just right before the Council. I mean from the early Middle Ages, up until right before the Council.

God bless you for answering my question. :blessyou:


#2

Which children?

If poor they were working all the hours of daylight, lived poor and died poor and illiterate.
They were too busy surviving disease, hunger, winter and the petty wars of their feudal lords to have much time for anything else.

If rich they were taught to be good little lords and ladies. The runt of the litter would be sent to a monastery or convent.


#3

Well in the Middle Ages, several options could have occurred

(Please note that while I have studied this area, I may not have everything perfectly correct)

Prior to what are known as cathedral/parish schools, I presume that children were taught along the same lines as we are today. Remember that in the catechism, it says that the parents are the primary catechist of the Church, responsible for teaching the faith to their children. Therefore, from what I have read, the faith was taught by the parents to the children. Remember that although there was no catechism, they did have the writing of the the Church Fathers and Apologists that stated Church teaching. I believe most of the teaching was done by preaching of monastic orders.

Which brings me to my next point is that many towns had a monastery close by where at least one child from each family was sent. They would not only learn trades here, but also the teachings of the Church that they could pass on to the rest of the community if the chose not to stay in the monastery when they became adults.

In the time of Charlemagne I believe is when all parishes were required to have schools to teach grammar and such and the children would be taught there.

I know that may have been more of a tangent but to answer your question specifically, the children would have been taught the same thing they are taught today. Probably in a lot less flushed out detail, but the teachings of the Church have remained the same, even though only recently have they all been put in one book.


#4

I would imagine that children in the middle ages were deeply immersed in the sacramental life of the church and learned the faith from their parents and their parish priest. Confirmation in the Latin Rite took place at a much younger age than it typically does today, (around the age of reason) so less knowledge and understanding of the faith was necessary. I don't think the faith of the average person in the middle ages was particularly sophisticated, as far as theological knowledge goes, but the people were generally pious. What do we ask of the typical 6 or 7-year old child today? Knowledge of the Church, understanding of sin and repentance, understanding that Jesus came into the world to save us from our sins and that he does so through the Sacraments of the Church, knowledge of the prayers of the faith. All of those things are learned quite naturally in a family that is practicing the faith, within a society that supports the faith. Special classes really aren't necessary in those circumstances. The people would have knowledge of the basic stories of the bible though the art in their churches. Sermons were also quite a bit longer then and had significant content on the teachings of the church. While the people were not sophisticated, they were not ignorant of the teachings of the church.


#5

Here's an account of the life of peasants in England.

historylearningsite.co.uk/medieval_peasants.htm


#6

[quote="triumphguy, post:5, topic:342615"]
Here's an account of the life of peasants in England.

historylearningsite.co.uk/medieval_peasants.htm

[/quote]

I'm not denying that life was rough during the Middle Ages, especially for peasants, but this article does not mention that the Church was central to the life of the peasant. The middle ages is often called the "Age of Faith". And why not, given the misery of their lives? Such misery has turned many hearts toward God. While not everyone was pious, everyone was instructed in the teachings of the church.


#7

The Catholic Christian faith has largely been the same since apostolic times. Doctrine and dogma have been further defined as needed but the Church Councils do not represent anything new as much as further definition. Trent was necessary because of the various Protestant ideas being circulated. As a practical matter, most teaching was oral before the nineteenth century because most people could not read.


#8

[quote="triumphguy, post:5, topic:342615"]
Here's an account of the life of peasants in England.

historylearningsite.co.uk/medieval_peasants.htm

[/quote]

The Medieval period covers a lot of ground, over 1000 years.

Certainly the early middle ages were a dark time but the late middle ages, from the tenth century onward were times or great change and advancement in the Church and in society.

The 1100's saw the rise of the great universities in Europe. Aristotlean philosophy was introduced into society and into the faith during this time. The Cistercians and many others led reforms of monastic life. St. Francis and St. Dominic introduced active religious life into the Church and many thousands of friars spread throughout Europe very quickly. There was a thriving middle class in many places.

So I don't think it possible to throw a single blanket over a 1000 year period and declare what life was like for everyone.

-Tim-


#9

[quote="PaulfromIowa, post:7, topic:342615"]
The Catholic Christian faith has largely been the same since apostolic times. Doctrine and dogma have been further defined as needed but the Church Councils do not represent anything new as much as further definition. Trent was necessary because of the various Protestant ideas being circulated. As a practical matter, most teaching was oral before the nineteenth century because most people could not read.

[/quote]

People would read more after the typeset print became more standard and books were more available. The big game changer was, of course, Gutenberg.


#10

[quote="TimothyH, post:8, topic:342615"]
The Medieval period covers a lot of ground, over 1000 years.

Certainly the early middle ages were a dark time but the late middle ages, from the tenth century onward were times or great change and advancement in the Church and in society.

The 1100's saw the rise of the great universities in Europe. Aristotlean philosophy was introduced into society and into the faith during this time. The Cistercians and many others led reforms of monastic life. St. Francis and St. Dominic introduced active religious life into the Church and many thousands of friars spread throughout Europe very quickly. There was a thriving middle class in many places.

So I don't think it possible to throw a single blanket over a 1000 year period and declare what life was like for everyone.

-Tim-

[/quote]

I agree - but I think until the feudal system withered away the life of most peasant families was one of survival first.


#11

[quote="bben15, post:1, topic:342615"]
Hello. :) Before the Council of Trent, and the promulgation of the Roman Catechism, what were children instructed before receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation? Were they taught everything that was in the Catechism?

I don't mean just right before the Council. I mean from the early Middle Ages, up until right before the Council.

God bless you for answering my question. :blessyou:

[/quote]

I believe that a lot of catechesis was done by parents, particularly mothers. A devout mother would teach her children to say the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and the Ave Maria (only the first half--the second half was added after the Reformation). Parish schools existed, often taught by the local priest (who might not be very well-educated, so you might not actually learn much). Other than that, there wasn't much of a concerted effort to teach children in particular that I know of. I don't think confirmation was seen as linked to education about the faith (as far as I know, this was a Protestant idea which was picked up by the Catholic Reformers).

There was a lot of catechesis, much of it done by the mendicant orders, but most of it wasn't aimed specifically at children as far as I know. Preaching was a form of popular entertainment, and there was a flood of vernacular literature, besides the mystery, morality, and miracle plays, religious songs, and ever-present visual images. One can imagine that for a child, going to a mystery or morality play and seeing hell-mouth open and demons run around through the audience would be quite a vivid form of catechesis!

Edwin


#12

[quote="triumphguy, post:10, topic:342615"]
I agree - but I think until the feudal system withered away the life of most peasant families was one of survival first.

[/quote]

There were certainly many times of starvation and misery, but many people have an unfair stereotype of what peasant life was like. There were something like a hundred Church holidays in the year. It's been calculated that medieval peasants had a lot more leisure than most working people do today.

I am not convinced that the feudal system was that much worse than any other system--definitely better than some (like chattel slavery or laissez-faire Industrial-Revolution-era capitalism).

Actually, the view among medieval historians today seems to be that there really wasn't a feudal system anyway. . . .

Edwin


#13

[quote="triumphguy, post:5, topic:342615"]
Here's an account of the life of peasants in England.

historylearningsite.co.uk/medieval_peasants.htm

[/quote]

Informative but a bit biased--typical of contemporary secular Britain.

Edwin


#14

[quote="triumphguy, post:2, topic:342615"]
Which children?

If poor they were working all the hours of daylight, lived poor and died poor and illiterate.
They were too busy surviving disease, hunger, winter and the petty wars of their feudal lords to have much time for anything else.

If rich they were taught to be good little lords and ladies. The runt of the litter would be sent to a monastery or convent.

[/quote]

It's true that their lives were difficult and short - but the Church was the centre of education and social life back then, so the children would have gathered in the church to hear stories, and they would have participated in choir and in pageants, where they would have learned a great deal about their faith.

For example in Spain, in the province surrounding Toledo, every village has a Triduum "pageant" that takes over the whole village and lasts from Thursday to Sunday, with giant wooden figures (the precursors to our modern-day theatre puppets) parading through the streets re-enacting the Passion.

These have been going on since before recorded history in that particular area, (although I assume they took a hiatus during the Muslim occupation).

These kinds of events would be how people learned their Catechism.


#15

[quote="triumphguy, post:10, topic:342615"]
I agree - but I think until the feudal system withered away the life of most peasant families was one of survival first.

[/quote]

And how is that any different than what we have now? Unless you are a CEO or in a union job, that's how many people's lives today are - endless hours of work as they try to get ahead of the boom-bust cycle, and continual uncertainty about the future.


#16

[quote="Contarini, post:12, topic:342615"]
There were something like a hundred Church holidays in the year. It's been calculated that medieval peasants had a lot more leisure than most working people do today.

[/quote]

You don't honestly think that village peasants were "off" for every red-letter day on the calender, do you? A peasants life was work, either for the village or the local lord, from sun-up to sun-down. When one lord went to war against the other, it wasn't the castle he attacked, it was his rival lord's villages because they provided the sustenance and manpower to keep everything going. Everything was laid on the back of the peasants; it was not a life of leisure.

[quote="Contarini, post:12, topic:342615"]
Actually, the view among medieval historians today seems to be that there really wasn't a feudal system anyway. . . .

[/quote]

Then they need to check again. Vassalage was well established by the time of Charlemagne and existed for many centuries afterward.


#17

[quote="jmcrae, post:15, topic:342615"]
And how is that any different than what we have now? Unless you are a CEO or in a union job, that's how many people's lives today are - endless hours of work as they try to get ahead of the boom-bust cycle, and continual uncertainty about the future.

[/quote]

True (except for the backbreaking labour, illiteracy, 60% infant mortality, and life expectancy of about 30) - and how many make it to church on Sunday?


#18

[quote="triumphguy, post:10, topic:342615"]
I agree - but I think until the feudal system withered away the life of most peasant families was one of survival first.

[/quote]

Many were filled with faith, I'm sure. The Church would have been a source of hope, the only secure and unchangeable thing in their lives, and would have given meaning to their suffering.

I think, rather, it is the rich who feel they need faith and religion least. The camel through the eye of the needle and all that.

-Tim-


#19

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