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DESCRIPTIONStudying Sacraments. Discovering a Method. Ita missa est. Once we have a method for studying the sacraments, it becomes much easier to understand each one. So remember, Every Sacrament: 1. was instituted by Christ 2. Has an essential rite: Form and matter determined for the sacrament - PowerPoint PPT Presentation
Studying SacramentsDiscovering a MethodIta missa estOnce we have a method for studying the sacraments, it becomes much easier to understand each one. So remember, Every Sacrament:1. was instituted by Christ2. Has an essential rite: Form and matter determined for the sacrament3. has proper effects, ex opere operato4. has proper ministers (who can celebrate?)5. has conditions for reception (who can receive?)The Five Elements of SacramentsWe are going to study Sacraments in terms of 5 different elements: The institution The essential rite The effects Who can celebrate? Who can receive?
3The InstitutionWe know that sacraments are signs instituted by Christ to give gracebut wheres the proof? Did Christ really establish the sacraments?Why yes, he did, and there are bible passages to prove itevery time.So for each sacrament we study, well be looking at new testament passages that give institution narratives.
The essential riteEach Sacrament is made up of matter and form. Every single Sacrament has some sort of physical matter that composes the sensible sign part of the Sacrament. Each Sacrament also has a form, or a set ritual of words and/or gestures, that makes the sign efficacious.
Its kind of like body and soul. God reaches us in this Sacramental way, with matter and form, precisely because we are body and soul. Its back to Incarnational thinking.
5The effectsSacraments are signs which effect a reality, or, which effect what they signify. So, each Sacrament is a sign of a spiritual reality, and each Sacrament effects or makes that reality happen in some way. if we want to learn about what a particular Sacrament is, we need to learn about what it signifies and what it does. Sacraments impart lasting effects on us when we receive them.
WHAT?!!??!Um, no really, you werewe should probably talk about ex opere operato nowEx opere operato thats a fancy way of saying that sacraments really dodo stuff.CCC 1127 Celebrated worthily in faith, the sacraments confer the grace that they signify.48 they are efficacious because in them Christ himself is at work: it is he who baptizes, he who acts in his sacraments in order to communicate the grace that each sacrament signifies. The father always hears the prayer of his son's church which, in the epiclesis of each sacrament, expresses her faith in the power of the spirit. As fire transforms into itself everything it touches, so the holy spirit transforms into the divine life whatever is subjected to his power. CCC 1128 this is the meaning of the church's affirmation49 that the sacraments act ex opere operato (literally: "by the very fact of the action's being performed"), i.e., By virtue of the saving work of Christ, accomplished once for all. It follows that "the sacrament is not wrought by the righteousness of either the celebrant or the recipient, but by the power of god."50 From the moment that a sacrament is celebrated in accordance with the intention of the church, the power of Christ and his spirit acts in and through it, independently of the personal holiness of the minister. Nevertheless, the fruits of the sacraments also depend on the disposition of the one who receives them.
Going deeperWhat does ex opere operato mean for us?It means that the sacraments work/confer grace, 100%, every time they are validly carried out.The proper matter and the proper form must be present for this to be true.It means that even if the minister is unworthy (e.G., an apostate priest consecrating the Eucharist), the full graces and effects of the sacrament are still available.However, it depends upon our disposition as to whether or not we receive that grace. Disposition refers to an openness to the available grace; it doesnt necessarily refer to ones attentiveness.
The ministers of the Church do not by their own power cleanse from sin those who approach the sacraments, nor do they confer grace on them: it is Christ Who does this by His own power while He employs them as instruments. Summa III.64.5
As stated above (Article 5), since the minister works instrumentally in the sacraments, he acts not by his own but by Christ's power. Now just as charity belongs to a man's own power so also does faith. Wherefore, just as the validity of a sacrament does not require that the minister should have charity, and even sinners can confer sacraments, as stated above (Article 5); so neither is it necessary that he should have faith, and even an unbeliever can confer a true sacrament, provided that the other essentials be there. Summa III.64.910
And, going back to what we were originally talking about before that cat so rudely interrupted usWho can celebrate?The Church lays out specific guidelines for who can celebrate each Sacrament.There is actually a really good reason behind the Churchs decision in each. Its actually more correct to think in terms not of what the Church has decided,but rather, what has been revealed to the Church in the glory of truth. Invariably, what has been revealed about who can celebrate the Sacraments just makes sense.
This is not levitical or juridical or any of those ugly words, as it may seem on the surface.For instance, in marriage in the Latin rite, it is actually the couple who celebrates the Sacrament: CCC 1623 According to Latin tradition, the spouses as ministers of Christ's grace mutually confer upon each other the sacrament of Matrimony by expressing their consent before the Church. In the tradition of the Eastern Churches, the priests (bishops or presbyters) are witnesses to the mutual consent given by the spouses, but for the validity of the sacrament their blessing is also necessary. 13Who can receive?This element is important because of the nature of Sacraments. Sacraments really effect graces, and really make things happen in our soul, but only under proper conditions. For instance, the Eucharist gives us communion with Christ, but only if our soul is in the state of grace. If we are in a state of mortal sin and receive the Eucharist, the Sacrament does not give us grace but further condemns us, because it is a grave offense against the person of Christ to bring him into a sullied temple. Knowing who can receive the Sacraments helps us to further understand their mode of operation.