October 7, 2005

Thoughts on the Cycle

Anonymous, York Corpus Christi Plays -- Drama as Literature (EL 250)

A Christ Taken Prisoner
"Thereupon the Judge proclaimed: sententia, Firstly, Judas to be given the birch for a scoffer of God. Secondly, the Alguazil to have himself physicked [5] at his own cost. Thirdly, St. Peter to be set free, as a pious and faithful apostle, and the Lord likewise. The merchant to forfeit that which the Lord owes unto him and to make no further claims upon him for all eternity".

It would be interesting to see how this scene played. After reading The Intro and learning about the changing structure of the church, I began to realize why the people were separated from the altar. This was something I never realized before reading this: “To begin to understand the popularity and significance of the Corpus Christi plays, we must first recognize the significance of the feast being celebrated. During the early middle ages, as church architecture and artistry moved away from the conservatism necessitated by its beginnings as a renegade faith in a Pagan world, and as the rituals surrounding Christian worship grew more intricate, the interior design of churches evolved. As the churches grew in size, the altar grew more elaborate, and the people moved proportionately farther away from it; communion rails developed because it was inconvenient to have crowds rushing the ornate altars to receive the Host. These rails eventually developed into a screen of bars or wooden slats, behind which the priest would say the mass. In addition, the priest and the congregation both faced the tabernacle on the back wall, the end result being that the priest blocked the people's view of most of the mass. Over generations, the faithful began to associate the unseen elements of the service with an air of mystery.”

On Affective Piety:

“Every Easter in the Philippines, pious volunteers carry crosses through the streets and actually allow themselves to be temporarily crucified (with stainless steel nails sterilized in alcohol) in order to fully understand the grief and pain which Jesus underwent on the cross. Religious devotion which encourages the faithful to meditate deeply upon the physical and emotional sufferings of holy figures is called "affective piety." The Philippines example may be extreme; however, affective piety was an important part of medieval religious instruction, designed to stir the personal devotion of people living in a society that took religion for granted. In their private chambers, using a picture, a statue, or spoken prayers to feed their spiritual imagination, the devout entered into the suffering of Christ, a martyr or some other holy figure with a psychological totality that we today would probably describe as a very extreme form of method acting.”I see the point of calling forth the emotions, but I also believe Christ took Himself to the cross, so we would never have to. What does everyone else think?

Posted by KatieAikins at October 7, 2005 12:22 AM

Sorry this is so late Katie, but I agree. The idea that they try to feel the pain that Jesus felt seems rather besides the point. I do think that Christ did it so we wouldn't have to. Feeling self-inflicted pain is not what Jesus wanted. He wanted us to strive to live like He did and love the way He did.

Posted by: LorinSchumacher at October 7, 2005 8:20 AM

The two of you have definitely hit upon one of the key differences between Catholic and Protestant understandings of the suffering of Christ. The Catholic understanding is that the suffering is eternal and happening even now, and that we should be grateful to God for undergoing that suffering for us.

The Protestant understanding is that it happened in the past and that we should celebrate the benefits we can receive by accepting salvation.

That's why we talk about "Catholic guilt" and the Protestant intersted in the assurance of knowing that one is "saved".

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at October 7, 2005 1:05 PM

Kevin - Interesting poster. What is the site?

Kayla - You are right to compare the works. Very similar.

Posted by: Katie Aikins at October 9, 2005 10:43 PM