The anxiety of guilt was taken into the courage to be as a part of the sacramental community. The anxiety of doubt was taken into the courage to be as a part of the community in which revelation and reason are united. In this way the medieval courage to be was, in spite of its difference from primitive collectivism, the courage to be as a part. The tension created by this situation is theoretically expressed in the attack of nominalism on medieval realism and the permanent conflict between them. Nominalism attributes ultimate reality to the individual and would have led much earlier than it actually did to a dissolution of the medieval system of participation if the immensely strengthened authority of the Church had not delayed it. In religious practice the same tension was expressed in the duality of the sacraments of the mass and of penance. The former mediated the objective power of salvation in which everybody was supposed to participate, if possible by being present at its daily performance. In consequence of this universal participation guilt and grace were felt not only as personal but also as communal. The punishment of the sinner had representative character in such a way that the whole community suffered with him. And the liberation of the sinner from punishment on earth and in purgatory was partly dependent on the representative holiness of the saints and the love of those who made sacrifices for his liberation.
Nothing is more characteristic of the medieval system of participation than this mutual representation. The courage to be as a part and to take upon oneself the anxieties of nonbeing is embodied in medieval institutions as it was in primitive forms of life. But medieval semicollectivism came to an end when the anticollectivist pole, represented by the sacrament of penance, came to the fore. The principle that only “contrition,” the personal and total acceptance of judgment and grace, can make the objective sacraments effective was impelling toward reduction and even exclusion of the objective element, of representation and participation. In the act of contrition everybody stands alone before God; and it was hard for the Church to mediate this element with the objective one. Finally it proved impossible and the system disintegrated. At the same time the nominalistic tradition became powerful and liberated itself from the heteronomy of the Church. In Reformation and Renaissance the medieval courage to be as a part, its semicollectivist system, came to an end, and developments started which brought the question of the courage to be as oneself to the fore.