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Selected Latin works in translation

John Wyclif (d. 1384) was among the leading schoolmen of fourteenth-century Europe. He was an outspoken controversialist and critic of the church, and, in his last days at Oxford, the author of the greatest heresy that England had known. This volume offers translations of a representative selection of his Latin writings on theology, the church and the Christian life. It offers a comprehensive view of the life of this charismatic but irascible medieval theologian, and of the development of the most prominent dissenting mind in pre-Reformation England. This collection will be of interest to undergraduate and graduate students of medieval history, historical theology and religious heresy, as well as scholars in the field.

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Wyclif’s views on sacramental theology are difficult to summarise collectively, but much of what he said on the topic was generally concerned with removing a particular sacrament from its ceremonial or accidental trappings, rather than questioning its necessity. The only sacrament about which he expressed some doubt is confirmation, but, even here, it would seem to be its administration at the hands of bishops that is the true target of the doubts he expresses. His beliefs about the process of sacramental change in the eucharist represent a more radical and controversial departure from orthodox teaching, but, once again, the need of this sacrament is never questioned. Because of the complexity of Wyclif’s ideas about the eucharist, and of the metaphysical principles that inform it, as well as the volume of writing dedicated to this topic, it will be covered separately in Chapter 4.

in John Wyclif
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insisted that the sacrament was indeed an accident without a substance, and that this position was fully consistent with orthodox ecclesiastical teaching. 5 It could be no coincidence, he must have thought, that the second of his conclusions condemned as heresy there was precisely that an accident could not remain without a substance in the consecrated host ( 46 ). This text also provides one of the clearest articulations of Wyclif’s own position in respect of the Eucharist. Both the bread and the body of Christ are present in the host, he argues here, but the former is

in John Wyclif

Wyclif’s views on sacramental theology are difficult to summarise collectively, but much of what he said on the topic was generally concerned with removing a particular sacrament from its ceremonial or accidental trappings, rather than questioning its necessity. The only sacrament about which he expressed some doubt is confirmation, but, even here, it would seem to be its administration at the hands of bishops that is the true target of the doubts he expresses. His beliefs about the process of sacramental change in the eucharist

in John Wyclif
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-evangelised Catholics.28 Missions encouraged a variety of pious activities including receiving communion, frequent confession, reciting the rosary, following the stations of the cross and attending pilgrimages and processions. Prayer and devotion were encouraged through novenas, benedictions, expositions of the Blessed Sacrament, the Quaran’ Ore and special devotions to the Holy Family or the Sacred Heart. Devotional aids such as scapulars, medals and rosaries were also advocated.29 Missions lasted for days or weeks, and their achievements were heralded by the Catholic faithful. In

in Contested identities
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Condemnation of Wyclif’s teaching

, proclaiming, among other things, two of their deadly doctrines: The first is that in the sacrament of the altar the substance of the material bread and wine, which were present prior to consecration, really remains in place after consecration. The second, which is more execrable to hear, is that in that venerable sacrament, the body and the blood of Christ are not present either essentially or substantially, or even corporally, but only figuratively or tropically; therefore, Christ is not truly present in his own, physical person

in John Wyclif
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theory of lordship by grace (and attendant views on the respective roles of secular monarch and pope), scriptural truth and (most importantly) the nature, administration and function of the sacraments. These were to be challenging times for Wyclif, both academically and politically. His entry into the service of the Crown probably began shortly after his teaching about lordship became known. The publication of On Divine Lordship in 1373 or early in 1374 was followed by the gift of Lutterworth priory, Leicestershire, from the king in April of that year (in exchange

in John Wyclif

descends from his father but does not have that person in his nature, so woman descends from man and does not have him in her nature. Now, in such a figure there is diversity, given that a woman is made from a singular, distinct nature by a superior nature. The divine Word is nevertheless begotten and not made from its source, which is entirely the same nature and cannot be a superior nature. The apostle therefore introduced a rule into the Christian religion on account of this sacrament, saying that a man should not cover his head because it is the image and the glory

in John Wyclif
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founder Cornelia Connelly to discuss the ‘call to religious life’, ‘the immense love of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament’ and ‘the grace of perseverance’.16 This period of prayer and study was important to understanding the spirit and objectives of the congregation. Perseverance was a particularly relevant issue. In one sample of postulants from the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul, half of the postulants left during this initial testing period.17 This high percentage was indicative of the difficulties that this form of communal life held for many women

in Contested identities

also was hampered by some priests’ failure to execute even rudimentary duties, such as preaching sermons, catechising children, and ensuring that their parishioners attended the sacraments regularly. Beginning in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, several bishops demanded that their priests reform their behaviour and instruct their parishioners regularly, limit their fees, and attend retreats and conferences. Over several years, different bishops forbade their priests from attending ribald community events, attempted to curtail priests’ drinking, and

in Irish women and the creation of modern Catholicism, 1850–1950