Now all this makes the people in the Church completely independent of the quality of the priest. Nobody knows this quality exactly, anyhow – of course, there are mortal sins which are publicly visible, and then the priest will be excommunicated and forbidden to exercise his activities, but this is quite different – what he does is valid anyway – in this way the institution is effective by itself and has become completely independent f the status of the clergy. What we have here is the hierarchical institute of salvation, which as an institute is I dependent of the character of those who perform it; and also there is the spiritual community of the faithful. According to Catholic doctrine, the first is he condition of the second; according to sectarian ideas, the second is the condition of the first, if it comes to the first at all. These two concepts of the Church were fighting with each other in all the history of the Church. This ends our discussion of Augustine. We come now to the development of that Church which is more dependent on him than on anybody else: the Medieval Church.
The Medieval Church We can deal with this topic for two semesters, four hours a week, starting only with the year 1000 and ending with 1450. But here we can do it only in a few weeks.
Therefore I will do something which some of you may criticize. Others in former years have appreciated it so much that, following Professor Handy’s advice, I will repeat it at this time, namely to give you, in one lecture hour or so, a survey of the main ideas and trends of the Middle Ages, from the beginning to the end, and only after this will I go into a few great figures and their special discussions. This is an emergency method, because this survey should follow the at least four hour semester course necessary for dealing with the Middle Ages. But it cannot. So you must follow me in what is usually called a sweeping statement. Now I hope it is not sweeping as a statement, but sweeping insofar as it sweeps through the centuries! Now first the basic problem of the Middle Ages, which we find in all its periods: namely, a transcendent reality manifest and embodied in a special institution, in a special sacred society, leading the culture and interpreting the nature. This is medieval though t– a transcendent reality embodied in an institution in time and space, leading all cultural activities and interpreting the relation of man to nature.