Category Archives: Sacraments

The Sacramental Economy

Part Two

The Celebration of the Christian Mystery

Section One
The Sacramental Economy

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224. What are the sacraments and which are they?

The sacraments, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, are efficacious signs of grace perceptible to the senses . Through them divine life is bestowed upon us. There are seven sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony.

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225. What is the relationship of the sacraments to Christ?

The mysteries of Christ’s life are the foundations of what he would henceforth dispense in the sacraments, through the ministers of his Church.

“What was visible in our Savior has passed over into his mysteries.” (Saint Leo the Great)

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226. What is the link between the sacraments and the Church?

Christ has entrusted the sacraments to his Church. They are the sacraments “of the Church” in a twofold sense: they are “from her” insofar as they are actions of the Church which is the sacrament of Christ’s action; and they are “for her” in as much as they build up the Church.

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227. What is the sacramental character?

It is a spiritual “seal” bestowed by the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders. It is a promise and guarantee of divine protection. By virtue of this seal the Christian is configured to Christ, participates in a variety of ways in his priesthood and takes his part in the Church according to different states and functions. He is, therefore, set apart for divine worship and the service of the Church. Because this character is indelible the sacraments that impress it on the soul are received only once in life.

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228. What is the relationship between the sacraments and faith?

The sacraments not only presuppose faith but with words and ritual elements they nourish, strengthen, and express it. By celebrating the sacraments, the Church professes the faith that comes from the apostles. This explains the origin of the ancient saying, “lex orandi, lex credendi, that is, the Church believes as she prays.

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229. Why are the sacraments efficacious?

The sacraments are efficacious ex opere operato (“by the very fact that the sacramental action is performed”) because it is Christ who acts in the sacraments and communicates the grace they signify. The efficacy of the sacraments does not depend upon the personal holiness of the minister. However, the fruits of the sacraments do depend on the dispositions of the one who receives them.

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