examples of sacraments that diverged
Baptism remained one of the two sacraments that occurred for both Protestant and Catholics throughout the Protestant Reformation.
Protestants emphasized the priesthood of all believers as contingent upon baptism. This description by Luther was crucial to the preservation of baptism as a sacrament for the Protestants.
martin luther, “address to the christian nobility of the german nation,” hanover historical text project, accessed november 16, 2018, https://history.hanover.edu/texts/luthad.html.
Catholics believed it to be crucial for admittance to heaven, as proven by their definition of their sacraments.
However, both Protestant and Catholic worshippers believed that original sin persisted among all those who were not baptized. Original sin occurred with Adam and Eve’s betrayal in the garden, and baptism was able to wash that away, hence the emphasis on water. Layers persisted in Catholic sacraments because certain sacraments (such as confession, confirmation, and matrimony) could occur only for baptized people.
The Council of Trent (1545-1563) helped formalize the idea of original sin by indicating that it was transferred between generations through sexual intercourse.
“The Council of Trent: The Fifth Session: The canons and decrees of the sacred and oecumenical Council of Trent,” hanover history project, https://history.hanover.edu/texts/trent/ct05os.html, (november 16, 2018.)
Martin Luther wrote in Article II of his Augusburg Confession that,
1) Also they teach that since the fall of Adam all men begotten in the natural way are born with sin, that is, without the fear of God, without trust in God, and with 2) concupiscence; and that this disease, or vice of origin, is truly sin, even now condemning and bringing eternal death upon those not born again through Baptism and the Holy Ghost.
martin luther, "The Augsburg Confession." Augsburg Confession - Book of Concord, Accessed November 17, 2018, http://bookofconcord.org/augsburgconfession.php.
Neither mainstream faction believed in adult baptism. The exception were the radical Anabaptists, who were staunchly against baptism until the recipient of the sacrament could confess his or her faith. During periods of the Reformation, many mainstream Protestants worried that the Anabaptists would make Protestantism seem too radical.
alec ryrie, The Age of Reformation: The Tudor and Stewart Realms 1485-1603 (Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2017), 86.
Although Pope Francis offers a contemporary account of baptism, his description of baptism as being a practice that “transmits” faith, as being an action that promotes salvation rather than a display of inward piety, is consistent with those beliefs of the Catholic Church retained during the Protestant Reformation.
the EUCHARIST/lord’s supper
The Eucharist diverged for Protestants and Catholics based on symbolism and practicality. Because Catholics believed in the direct presence of God and church as a funnel of spiritual grace for the purpose of salvation, their Eucharist was based on the Body and the Blood of Christ being literally present in the bread and the wine.
Therefore, consuming the Body and the Blood of Christ would physically help with salvation because of their consumption of God’s grace.
Because of their rite being relevant to salvation, they also believed they must be purified before participating in the rite. Children were not allowed to participate in the Eucharist until baptised and confirmed.
The Eucharist and the Lord’s supper was additionally important to the construction of aesthetics that distinguished Catholic and Protestant practice.
The Catholic sacrament was deemed the “sacrament of the altar” and thus placed extreme importance on the objects used within the rite. The altar was considered the “heart of the church,” and relevant in its context of sacrifice.
alec ryrie, THE AGE OF REFORMATION: THE TUDOR AND STEWART REALMS 1485-1603 (ABINGDON, UK: ROUTLEDGE, 2017), 15.
Protestant Eucharist — rebranded the “Lord’s Supper” during the Elizabethan reign — served as a remembrance of Jesus’s death, but provided no salvation. The body and the blood were symbolically relevant, rather than physically consumed, and therefore did not physically affect its participants.
alec ryrie, THE AGE OF REFORMATION: THE TUDOR AND STEWART REALMS 1485-1603 (ABINGDON, UK: ROUTLEDGE, 2017), 239.
The Protestant aesthetic preferred wafers and a minimal table as opposed to an altar as dictated in the Book of Common Prayer.
As Christine Peters argues, because marriage could be both religious and social, unlike other sacraments, it allows historians to get an idea of how rituals changed over the course of the Reformation. For Protestants, marriage partners are companionate; for Catholics, marriage symbolizes an ongoing spiritual performance of being an “ideal” partner and fulfilling God’s mandates.
Catholics attempted to use visual depictions of marriage to emphasize the necessity of a clergyman for its performance. Protestant marriage became a tipping point for clerical authority in that it allowed performance of a holy work without a clergyman. It was the only sacrament with the possibility of occurring exclusively within a lay sphere.
There was also a distinct argument between Aquinas and Scotus, two prominent philosophers, about the role of marriage. Aquinas maintained that all valid marriages were sacraments, regardless of religious content or not; Scotus argued for a distinction between valid marriages and sacramental marriages.
Protestant marriages operated as a source for mutual spiritual support, and did not require the presence of a clergyman, which displays a shift away from the Catholic emphasis on clerical ability to perform sacraments. Embodying the Protestant view of rituals, marriage operated as a symbol of the devotion of a man and woman to each other, and imposed the same Biblical duties of faith and procreation upon the couple.
christine peters, "Gender, Sacrament and Ritual: The Making and Meaning of Marriage in Late Medieval and Early Modern England," Past & Present, no. 169 (2000): 63-96. http://www.jstor.org/stable/651264.
A note on confirmation: while confirmation did shift from being relevant to salvation under the Catholic tradition to being symbolic under a Protestant denomination, it did not experience the vastness of change that other sacraments had. It can still be viewed as a rite of passage to full membership of the church. Certain denominations of Protestantism — such as Baptists, which preach believer’s baptism — do not participate in confirmation.
STRICTLY CATHOLIC RITES
anointing of the sick
Also called last rites — falls out of practice with Protestants because of lack of necessity for entrance to Heaven, as well as a stubborn resistance to clerical, or papish, authority.
Because of the “priesthood of all believers” espoused by Martin Luther, ordination wasn’t a sacrament because, simply, it wasn’t required to be a believer. Although Protestants had clergymen, they weren’t necessary in the same way as the Catholics.
Confession was a crucial part of Catholic belief, also because the clergy could access the forgiving power of God’s grace in their use of the sacraments. Confession helped to diminish the stain of original sin. Confession was also imperative before a person could partake in the Eucharist, to be as pure as possible. Because Protestant Eucharist was symbolic and not literally consuming the body and the blood, they did not require confession, as well as because of their subscription to the priesthood of all believers.