QUESTION: It seems like Catholicism is a very intellectual religion. If you want to learn about the Catholic Church you study something very intellectual. And the Church are famous for the intellectual Jesuits and so on.
Attending Mass is also intellectual. Transubstantiation (which happens during Mass) is intellectual. How do the non-intellectual medieval peasant (or any modern peasant/country boy) fit into this?
Does the Church have some kind of love for the intellectual stuff?
ANSWER: The Catholic Church is meant for everyone. It is not expected that everyone would understand everything about it, as indeed not even the most intelligent human could ever come close to knowing and understanding all that God knows and understands. Everyone must work with whatever intellectual gifts they have from God, be they (relatively) great or small in comparison to the "average" of such gifts as given to human beings in general. Even the simplest person can understand looking to God for the answers to life, and to trusting in his priests to monitor his spiritual condition and formation, sometimes even to the point that many may equate piety with simplicity, or with being simple or even ignorant. Even St. Thomas Aquinas the Church Doctor possessed such a simplicity of soul, despite his evident and (probably incomparable) knowledge and learning and understanding and wisdom.
But while probably any religion of any sort could have some appeal of one sort or another to a person of limited learning or intellectual capacity, the Catholic religion (alone) can accommodate everyone from the most simple and ignorant to even the very most intelligent and learned and wise and understanding, as it alone comes from a Source possessing vastly more of these things than any human being is capable of. If this were not so then Catholicism would be a religion only for the ignorant since anyone beyond some limited modicum of intelligence would be able to grasp the whole thing and from there see the limitations to it, as if it were invented not by the infinite and unlimited mind of God but rather by some finite and very limited mind of some human person.
Such a divine mystery as transubstantiation remains as mysterious to the greatest intellect as it does to the "non-intellectual medieval peasant (or any modern peasant/country boy)," even if some aspects of it can be explored in somewhat more depth. What is important (or required of any soul) is not that the soul understands everything the Church has ever known about such a thing as transubstantiation (let alone what God knows of it), but that the person accepts that this priestly-consecrated host is the Body of Christ to be received with all due reverence.
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I am a non-Catholic but I sometimes attend Mass. How do Catholic believers think of and see the Eucharist when attending Mass? It must be some sort of meditation 'cause the intellectual part is more for studying. Let's take an example; I am a musician. I can analyse the music (people have their own way of doing this) in order for me to understand what to play but when I sit at the piano I do not analyse at all. So if I'm correct Catholic believers analyse (maybe through simple cathechism or reading Aquinas) what happens at Mass in order to be more aware of what happens at Mass. The Mass is the real thing as playing the piano is for a pianist (this is just a comparison and Mass is way more important than piano playing). What do you think about all of this?
btw, are there any simple catholic medieval peasants who were beatified/canonized?
Music does not have to be analyzed to be appreciated. And that goes as much for the one composing it as for the one merely listening and enjoying. There is a kind of "analysis" being done on the part of any composer, but this analysis is done and thought purely "in music" for which "analysis" is but a crude attempt to put into conventional words. But even tone deaf can still enjoy it, even though perhaps on a less sophisticated level.
A real Catholic Mass is full of reverent silences, whispers, and surprisingly little to see, and yet infinite beauty nonetheless; even those who don't know Latin nor have on hand a Missal to provide translation can see its beauty. I know that I saw that beauty before I truly understood transubstantiation, and the knowledge, once gained, merely enhanced my appreciation of what I had already seen as well as what I continue to see in the Mass.
What I find interesting is the ability of the underlying beauty to override the superficial ugliness, like a woman's face I know of which manages to be quite beautiful despite serious color blotches all over it. Doubtless she would be much prettier without the color blotches, but even with them her underlying beauty still shines through. Likewise, I am a piano player, but seriously out of practice. And yet even with all of my "bum" and "sour" notes I strike by accident, the underlying beauty of what I am trying to play still shines through, such that people actually still want to hear it despite my poor performance of it. There is a stark and profound beauty to the Mass, some of which can even show through when performed quite badly, even invalidly or injured with sectarian corruptions. (You do know, don't you, that a true and authentic Catholic Mass is actually quite rare these days, as the service that passes for a "Mass" at 99.9% of all buildings that have "Catholic" on their placard has far more in common with a Lutheran or Episcopalian or Methodist or Presbyterian service than with an authentic Catholic Mass as most commonly said down through all the ages.)
But from what I recall from studying music theory, much of what they know is based on a detailed study of Johann Sebastian Bach, and especially his numerous cantatas. When attempting to compose a piece of music within such strictures it was very difficult to make it worth listening to (but possible, so it was an interesting and rewarding challenge, but musically speaking I really don't think much like Bach did). Even the original Baroque composers had to break out of the usual formulae once in a while to make things interesting. The Mass only most incredibly rarely ever benefited from any such "custom" breaking out from the standard formulae, however.
As far as saints go, the Church has recognized saints from all walks of life, from all economic levels, all educational levels, as well as all races and nationalities and both (natural) genders. Off the top of my head however, no names from any class high or low come to mind; not that I can't think of any saints, but rather that I am not familiar with knowing which ones came from which classes of society, or enjoyed what level of education (other than in holiness which is the one education that every true saint must have, but this is dependent neither upon brains nor brawn but only that inner goodness of soul that God wishes to impart to all of us).