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The Eucharist And The Clergy: Fostering Charity Incarnate

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Chapter Summary

By the late Middle Ages, a vast array of liturgical and quasi-liturgical rituals were centered around the host as the most significant sign of God's power and presence on earth. For the majority of parishioners who hastened to mass each Sunday, or for some each day, reception of the Eucharist was the most important aspect of late medieval spirituality and the pinnacle of their journey through the liturgical year to Easter Sunday. Parishioners who failed to fear God were entirely unworthy to receive communion because their lack of fear was a sign of their lack of love or, as one sermon noted, "Love also maketh a man dredefull and aferde to mysplese God". Prayers and tears may have seemed nonsensical and womanly, but, for religious leaders, there were many things about the heavens which humans failed to grasp or mislabeled.

Keywords: charity; Easter sunday; Eucharist; late medieval spirituality; parishioners



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