Jan 24, 2015

January 20th - Adult Ed Series (1 of 4) - The Sacraments in General

This is a lecture given at Corpus Christ, Great Falls, MT, on the sacraments of the Church. This is part 1 of 4, on the Sacraments in General.

Audio of presentation and rough outline of lecture notes follows below.

Listen online [here]!



Sacramentum – a sacred or holy thing
Creed, “communion of saints” – the communion caused by sharing in the holy things

Mysterion (gr.) – something hidden, secret; sign, symbol.

Christ, the sacrament of God.
The Church, the universal sacrament of salvation.
The seven sacraments.

Sacraments are not merely a sign, but a cause of grace.
A sacrament is: “a thing perceptible to the senses, which on the ground of Divine institution possesses the power both of effecting and signifying sanctity and righteousness”
          1) the external, a sensibly perceptible sign of sanctifying grace
                   - the sacraments give the grace they signify
          2) The conferring of sanctifying grace
          3) The institution by God, by Christ Jesus

{as opposed to the Protestant reformers, who see the sacraments as pledges of the Divine promise of forgiveness and grace. Thus, the sacraments are not causes of grace, but occasions whereby faith is stirred and grace is given by God.}

Parts of the sacrament:
1) Sacramentum - sign
2) Res tantum – grace
3) Res et sacramentum

The power of the Sacraments:
1) The Sacraments of the New Covenant contain the grace they signify and bestow it on those who do not hinder it.
2) The sacraments work ex opere operato – by the working of the work (by the power of the sacramental rite). The proper matter, form and intention.
3) Every sacrament bestows sanctifying grace, and also graces more specific to that sacrament. Some sacraments bestow also a sacramental character.

Sacraments of the New Law, compared to those of the Old Law, and to sacramentals
The Old Law contained sacraments, but these did not cause grace directly – more like sacramentals which are occasions of grace.
HOWEVER, it is generally held that circumcision conferred grace quasi ex opere operato

Sacramentals are occasions of grace and work, ex opere operantis (by the power of the one performing the rite, i.e. of the Church). Sacramentals were not generally instituted by Christ, but by the Church.
Examples of sacramentals: a) Ceremonies related to the sacraments, b) other religious actions, exorcisms, blessings, consecrations, c) the religious uses of blessed objects, d) the blessed objects themselves.

All the sacraments were instituted by Christ,
Jesus himself gave us the seven sacraments, indicating also the matter and form.
But this is not taken too strictly – confirmation at Pentecost.

Thus, the Church cannot alter or change the sacraments in their essential nature.

The seven sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Anointing, Holy Order, Matrimony

The sacraments are necessary to salvation.
The life of the body and the life of the soul: Baptism – birth, Confirmation – growth, Eucharist - nourishment, Penance – healing, Anointing – exercise or strengthening.
The most necessary, baptism. The most perfect(ing), holy order. The most excellent, Eucharist.

Every sacrament has:
1) Matter and form
2) Minister
3) Recipient
4) Specific grace