The people in medieval times in Europe were very
religious. Most believed knew best how they should behave and what they
The Catholic Church firmly believed in labor and in
prayer. People were taught that "to labor is to pray".
The church also made it very clear that if you wanted to get to heaven,
you had to participate in the sacraments. But what were the sacraments?
The sacraments were a simple set of steps that, if
followed, would open the doors to heaven.
This was very comforting to people in medieval
times. They did not understand a word of the mass, because the mass was
in Latin, a language they did not understand. Most people could not read
or write. But they did understand that if they followed the sacraments,
they would get to heaven. The life of most people in medieval times was
a harsh one. The thought of escaping to heaven was most attractive.
The Catholic Church charged people money for some
of the sacraments and accepted (required) donations to feed the poor and
to build new churches.
Penance. You had to confess your sins to a
priest, and you paid money to do this. Penance also
included acts of "good" behavior. For example, you might
ask a visiting monk to dine with you. You might enjoy his company,
but the invitation was an act of penance, an act of kindness.
Communion. This was the most important
sacrament. Each mass, those who had confessed all their sins and had
not yet committed new ones could participate in communion. During
mass, people taking communion would receive a blessed wheat wafer
and a sip from a specially blessed cup of wine. If you had not
done ample penance in the eyes of the church, you could not
participate in communion. If you did not participate in communion
frequently, you could not go to heaven.
Taking Care of the Sick
Holy Orders. You could take holy orders at any
time. A woman might have been married several times, yet she could
still become a nun, provided she could find a convent to accept her.
Once accepted into a monastery (monks) or a convent (nuns), you
could not return to your former life. Not
everyone took holy orders. But that was allowed as long as you
balanced this by acts of penance.
The sacraments controlled daily life.
Some like baptism were done once, others - like penance - were done many
times. Since there was a charge for each sacrament, the sacraments
generated enormous wealth for the church.
The local priest and other church
officials worked very hard. It's not that the church did not earn their
success, but wealth flowed into the church because Christianity was at
the core of medieval life. Everything revolved around religion.
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Online Games for the Middle Ages
Middle Ages Clipart for Kids & Teachers
Ages for Teachers
to The Middle Ages for Kids