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Reflections: Sacraments Section (Sacraments/Basics)

The Last Supper

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Sacraments (Basics / Misc.)

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Sacraments (Basics / Misc.)

 

Category
Quotation

Sacraments (Basics / Misc.)

Also See: Sacraments (Topic Page)

"Wisdom has built her house, she has set up her seven columns" (Prov. 9:1)

"The sacraments are like the water from Christ's side which water us and give us life."

"Remember that the purpose of the sacraments is to help us on our way to our last end." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"[A] sacrament is a sign of the effect it produces." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"The sacraments of the New Law cause what they signify." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"The Sacraments of the New Testament give salvation, the Sacrament of the Old Testament promise a Savior." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church, c. 5th century A.D.)

"[T]he sacraments...are the means ordained by God for obtaining forgiveness of sin and for leading a holy life." (Pope Leo XIII, "Rerum Novarum", 1891 A.D.)

"[E]very sacrament of the New Law consists in things and words." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"[T]he sacraments are instrumental causes of spiritual effects." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"A character is imprinted in every sacrament that is not repeated." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

Error CONDEMNED by Pope St. Pius X in "Lamentabili": "The sacraments have this one end, to call to man's mind the ever beneficent presence of the Creator." (Pope St. Pius X, This proposition was condemned in "Lamentabili", 1907 A.D.)

"The form of a sacrament must needs be one that is observed everywhere." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"If any one saith that all Christians have power to administer the word and all the sacraments; let him be anathema." (Council of Trent)

"Can. 1379 A person who, apart from the cases mentioned in Can. 1378, pretends to administer a sacrament, is to be punished with a just penalty." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"If any one saith, that these sacraments were instituted for the sake of nourishing faith alone; let him be anathema." (Council of Trent)

"Remember that the evil lives of wicked men are not prejudicial to God's sacraments, by rendering them either invalid or less holy." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"The spiritual virtue of a sacrament is like light: although it passes among the impure, it is not polluted." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church, 5th century A.D.)

"Can. 1380 A person who celebrates or receives a sacrament through simony is to be punished with an interdict or suspension." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"[M]en do not reap the full fruit of the Sacraments which they receive after acquiring the use of reason unless they cooperate with grace" (Pope Pius XI, "Casti Connubii", 1930 A.D.)

"[A]ll true justice either begins, or being begun is increased, or being lost is repaired [through the most holy Sacraments of the Church]." (Council of Trent, 1548 A.D.)

"[O]nly those are called sacraments which signify the perfection of holiness in man." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"[W]herever there is the due matter and the due form of a sacrament [along with the proper minister and intent] there is the sacrament." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"[A] sacrament is nothing else than a sanctification conferred on man with some outward sign." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"If any one saith, that these seven sacraments are in such wise equal to each other, as that one is not in any way more worthy than another; let him be anathema." (Council of Trent)

"The purpose of the sacraments is to sanctify men, to build up the Body of Christ, and, finally, to give worship to God. Because they are signs they also instruct." (Second Vatican Council)

"If any one saith that in ministers, when they effect and confer the sacraments, there is not required the intention at least of doing what the Church does; let him be anathema." (Council of Trent)

"If anything necessary for a sacrament be omitted in that sacrament, the sacrament must be repeated." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"There is no Sacrament if any of these is missing: the proper matter, the form, including the intention, and the priestly ordination of the celebrant." (Pope St. Pius V, "De Defectibus", 16th Century A.D.)

"Every sacrament in which a character is not imprinted can be repeated... Further, a character is a distinctive sign." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"[A]ll the Sacraments, while they are injurious to those who administer them unworthily, are beneficial to those who receive them worthily, which is the case, too, with the word of God." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church, c. 400 A.D.)

"Of all the means employed to teach the proper use of the Sacraments, there is none more effectual than a careful exposition of the reasons for their institution" (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"The evil life of a bishop or a priest does not invalidate either the baptism of an infant, or the consecration of the Eucharist, or other ecclesiastical duties performed for the faithful." (Pope Innocent III)

"[T]he minister of a sacrament acts in the person of the Church by whose faith any defect in the minister's faith is made good." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"[The sacraments of the Old Law] were abolished because they were fulfilled; and others were instituted, fewer in number, but more efficacious, more profitable, and of easier accomplishment." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

"If any one saith that by the said sacraments of the new law grace is not conferred through the act performed, but that faith alone in the divine promise suffices for the obtaining of grace; let him be anathema." (Council of Trent)

"If any one saith, that these said sacraments of the New Law do not differ from the sacraments of the Old Law, save that the ceremonies are different, and different the outward rites; let him be anathema." (Council of Trent)

Error CONDEMNED by Pope St. Pius X in "Lamentabili": "The sacraments had their origin in this, that the apostles and their successors, swayed and moved by circumstances and events, interpreted some idea and intention of Christ." (Pope St. Pius X, This proposition was condemned in "Lamentabili", 1907 A.D.)

"If any one saith, that a minister, being in mortal sin - if so be that he observe all the essentials which belong to the effecting, or conferring of, the sacrament - neither effects, nor confers the sacrament; let him be anathema." (Council of Trent)

"Can. 842 §2 The sacraments of baptism, confirmation, and the Most Holy Eucharist are interrelated in such a way that all three are required for full Christian initiation." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"[A]ll the sacraments are in some way necessary for salvation: but some, so that there is no salvation without them; some as conducing to the perfection of salvation" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Can. 731 § 2 It is forbidden that the Sacraments of the Church be ministered to heretics and schismatics, even if they ask for them and are in good faith, unless beforehand, rejecting their errors, they are reconciled with the Church." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"If any one saith, that grace, as far as God's part is concerned, is not given through the said sacraments, always, and to all men, even though they receive them rightly, but (only) sometimes, and to some persons; let him be anathema." (Council of Trent)

"There is no religion, true or false, in whose name men can gather, except they be united under a bond of signs or visible Sacraments. The force of these Sacraments can scarcely be told, and to hold them in contempt is sacrilegious." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church, c. 400 A.D.)

"Those proponents of new ideas who are eager to foster true piety in the people should consider that, with the frequency of the sacraments diminished or entirely eliminated, religion slowly languishes and finally perishes." (Pope Gregory XVI, "Quo Graviora", 1833 A.D.)

"Can. 848 The minister is to seek nothing for the administration of the sacraments beyond the offerings defined by competent authority, always taking care that the needy are not deprived of the assistance of the sacraments because of poverty." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Gregory says (Isidore, Etymologiarum vi,19), 'a sacrament consists in a solemn act, whereby something is so done that we understand it to signify the holiness which it confers.'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"In the Sacraments, it is God himself who comes to annihilate our enemy. The devil, seeing him in our heart, throws himself despairingly into the bottomless pit; which explains why he does all he can to draw us away from them, or to make us receive them badly." (St. John Vianney)

"God's grace is a sufficient cause of man's salvation. But God gives grace to man in a way which is suitable to him. Hence it is that man needs the sacraments that he may obtain grace." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Adam sleeps that Eve may be formed; Christ dies that the Church may be formed. Eve is formed from the side of the sleeping Adam; the side of the dead Christ is pierced by the lance, so that the Sacraments may flow out, of which the Church is formed." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church, c. 417 A.D.)

"Can. 731 § 1 As all the Sacraments of the New Law, instituted by Christ our Lord, are the principal means of sanctification and salvation, the greatest diligence and reverence is to be observed in opportunely and correctly administering them and receiving them." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"The institutor of anything is he who gives it strength and power: as in the case of those who institute laws. But the power of a sacrament is from God alone... Therefore God alone can institute a sacrament." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"[L]aymen are officially incompetent to dispense any sacrament: and that they can baptize in cases of necessity, is due to the Divine dispensation, in order that no one may be deprived of spiritual regeneration." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"[I]n man, nothing is more internal than heavenly grace which begets sanctity, but the ordinary and chief means of obtaining grace are external: that is to say, the sacraments which are administered by men specially chosen for that purpose, by means of certain ordinances." (Pope Leo XIII, "Satis Cognitum", 1896 A.D.)

Error CONDEMNED by Pope St. Pius X in "Lamentabili": "The opinions about the origin of the sacraments with which the Fathers of Trent were imbued, and which certainly had an influence on their dogmatic canons, are far different from those which now rightly obtain among historical investigators of Christianity." (Pope St. Pius X, This proposition was condemned in "Lamentabili", 1907 A.D.)

"The sacraments of the New Law are more excellent than those of the Old Law. But all the sacraments of the Old Law were instituted by God. Therefore much more do all the sacraments of the New Law owe their institution to Christ Himself." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"If any one saith, that the received and approved rites of the Catholic Church, wont to be used in the solemn administration of the sacraments, may be contemned, or without sin be omitted at pleasure by the ministers, or be changed, by every pastor of the churches, into other new ones; let him be anathema." (Council of Trent)

"If any one saith that the sacraments of the new law are not necessary unto salvation, but superfluous; and that without them or without the desire thereof, men obtain of God through faith alone the grace of justification, though all [seven sacraments] are not indeed necessary for every individual; let him be anathema." (Council of Trent)

"[T]he sacraments of the Church were instituted for a twofold purpose: namely, in order to perfect man in things pertaining to the worship of God according to the religion of Christian life, and to be a remedy against the defects caused by sin." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"The same principal agent uses various instruments unto various effects, in accordance with the thing to be done. In the same way the Divine power and the Passion of Christ work in us through the various sacraments as through various instruments." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"We are bound to profess that the sacraments of the new law in some manner confer grace, and not merely because they are liturgically instructive... Neither the sacraments nor any other creature can be the principal causes of grace, which is produced solely by divine power, but...they are instrumental causes." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"For the unworthiness of the minister does not make void the Sacraments he administers; since the Sacraments derive their efficacy from the Blood of Christ, independently of the sanctity of the instrument, or, as scholastic language expresses it, the Sacraments work their effect ex opere operato." (Pope Pius XI, "Ad Catholici Sacerdotii", 1935 A.D.)

"[T]he sacraments... obtain their effect through the power of Christ's Passion; and Christ's Passion is, so to say, applied to man through the sacraments according to the Apostle (Romans 6:3): 'All we who are baptized in Christ Jesus, are baptized in His death." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Each sacrament was instituted for the purpose of one principal effect, though it may, in consequence, produce other effects besides. And since a sacrament causes what it signifies, the principal effect of a sacrament must be gathered from its signification." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Whence also, whether they are dispensed in the Church of God by good or by bad ministers, because the Holy Spirit mysteriously works in them, although He once appeared in apostolic times in visible works, these gifts have nothing added to them by the qualities of good ministrants, nor anything taken from them by bad ministrants." (St. Isidore, Doctor of the Church, 7th century A.D.)

"[C]ertain things are essential to the sacrament, and if they are omitted there is no sacrament, while certain things belong to the solemnization of the sacrament, and if these be omitted the sacrament is nevertheless validly performed, although it is a sin to omit them" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"If any one saith, that the sacraments of the New Law were not all instituted by Jesus Christ, our Lord; or, that they are more, or less, than seven, to wit, Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, Order, and Matrimony; or even that any one of these seven is not truly and properly a sacrament; let him be anathema." (Council of Trent)

"In the first place I want you to hold as basic to this discussion that our Lord Jesus Christ, as He Himself said in the Gospel, subjected us to His yoke and to His burden, which are light. He has, therefore, obliged the society of His new people to the Sacraments, very few in number, very easy of observance, and most sublime in meaning." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church, c. 400 A.D.)

"Nor is it unimportant that the faithful should know that the Sacraments are signs. This knowledge will lead them more readily to believe that what the Sacraments signify, contain and effect is holy and august; and recognizing their sanctity they will be more disposed to venerate and adore the beneficence of God displayed towards us." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"In the Church there has always existed this power, that in the administration of the sacraments, provided that their substance remains unaltered, she can lay down or modify what she considers more fitting either for the benefit of those who receive them or for respect towards those same sacraments, according to varying circumstances, times or places." (Council of Trent)

"A thing is required in a sacrament in two ways. First, as being essential to it: and if this be wanting, the sacrament is invalid; for instance, if the due form or matter be wanting. Secondly, a thing is required for a sacrament, by reason of a certain fitness. And in this way good ministers are required for a sacrament." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"If any one saith that the sacraments of the new law do not contain the grace which they signify; or that they do not confer that grace on those who do not place an obstacle thereto; as though they were merely outward signs of grace or justice received through faith, and certain marks of Christian profession whereby believers are distinguished amongst men from unbelievers; let him be anathema." (Council of Trent)

"Christ's death is the world-wide cause of salvation. All the same, any universal cause needs to be applied to produce particular effects; consequently determinate remedies need to be applied to men if they are to be brought into the blessings flowing from Christ's death. These remedies, which are the sacraments of the Church, come to us in portions and are bound up with what we can experience." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Certain medicines require a robust constitution, else it is mortally dangerous to take them; others can be given to the weakly. So too in spiritual things certain sacraments are ordained as remedies for sin, and the like are to be given to sinners, as Baptism and Penance, while others, which confer the perfection of grace, require a man made strong by grace." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"What is there awkward about visible bodily things ministering to spiritual health? Are they not the instruments of God, who was made flesh for us and suffered in this world? An instrument's virtue is not its own, but is imparted by the principal cause which sets it to work. Hence, the sacraments do not act from the properties of their natural elements, but because they have been adopted by Christ to communicate His strength." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"[N]ot only should we cherish exceedingly the Sacraments with which holy Mother Church sustains our life, the solemn ceremonies which she celebrates for our solace and our joy, the sacred chant and the liturgical rites by which she lifts our minds up to heaven, but also the sacramentals and all those exercises of piety by which she consoles the hearts of the faithful and sweetly imbues them with the Spirit of Christ." (Pope Pius XII, "Mystici Corporis Christi", 1943 A.D.)

"Can. 841 Since the sacraments are the same throughout the universal Church, and belong to the divine deposit of faith, only the supreme authority in the Church can approve or define what is needed for their validity. It belongs to the same authority, or to another competent authority in accordance with can. 838 §§3 and 4, to determine what is required for their licit celebration, administration and reception and for the order to be observed in their celebration." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"The apostles and their successors are God's vicars in governing the Church which is built on faith and the sacraments of faith. Wherefore, just as they may not institute another Church, so neither may they deliver another faith, nor institute other sacraments: on the contrary, the Church is said to be built up with the sacraments 'which flowed from the side of Christ while hanging on the Cross.'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"[A]lthough the whole edifice of Christian piety rests on the most firm foundation of the cornerstone; yet, unless it be supported on every side by the preaching of the divine Word and by the use of the Sacraments, it is greatly to be feared that it may to a great extent totter and fall to the ground. For as we are ushered into the spiritual life by means of the Sacraments, so by the same means we are nourished and preserved, and grow to spiritual increase." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"[G]lancing at the admirable actions of Christ our Lord, they may show that if those who received Him beneath their roof during His mortal life, or were restored to health by touching His vesture or the hem of His garment, were justly and deservedly deemed most blessed, how much more fortunate and happy we, into whose soul, resplendent as He is with unfading glory, He disdains not to enter, to heal all its wounds to adorn it with His choicest gifts, and unite it to Himself." (Catechism of the Council of Trent) 

"Can. 843 §1 Sacred ministers cannot deny the sacraments to those who seek them at appropriate times, are properly disposed, and are not prohibited by law from receiving them. §2 According to their respective offices in the Church, both pastors of souls and all other members of Christ's faithful have the duty to take care that those who seek the sacraments are prepared to receive them by proper evangelization and catechetical instruction, in accordance with the norms issued by competent authority." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"This sacramental ministry, every time it is accomplished, brings with it the mystery of the 'departure' of Christ through the Cross and the Resurrection, by virtue of which the Holy Spirit comes. He comes and works: 'He gives life.' For the sacraments signify grace and confer grace: they signify life and give life. The Church is the visible dispenser of the sacred signs, while the Holy Spirit acts in them as the invisible dispenser of the life which they signify. Together with the Spirit, Christ Jesus is present and acting." (Pope John Paul II)

"Consequently, since the Church deprives heretics, schismatics and the like, by withdrawing their subjects from them either altogether or in some respect, in so far as they are thus deprived, they cannot have the use of the keys... Wherefore, just as, were a heretic to be without wheaten bread, he could not consecrate, so neither can a prelate absolve if he be deprived of his authority, yet he can baptize and consecrate, albeit to his own damnation." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"For both the juridical mission of the Church, and the power to teach, govern and administer the Sacraments, derive their supernatural efficacy and force for the building up of the Body of Christ from the fact that Jesus Christ, hanging on the Cross, opened up to His Church the fountain of those divine gifts, which prevent her from ever teaching false doctrine and enable her to rule them for the salvation of their souls through divinely enlightened pastors and to bestow on them an abundance of heavenly graces." (Pope Pius XII, "Mystici Corporis Christi", 1943 A.D.)

"All who, regarding the sacrament of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, or regarding baptism or the confession of sins, matrimony or the other ecclesiastical sacraments, do not fear to think or to teach otherwise than the most holy Roman Church teaches and observes; and in general, whomsoever the same Roman Church or individual bishops through their dioceses with the advice of the clergy or the clergy themselves, if the episcopal see is vacant, with the advice if it is necessary of neighboring bishops, shall judge as heretics, we bind with a like bond of perpetual anathema." (Council of Verona, 1184 A.D.)

"Can. 840 The sacraments of the New Testament were instituted by Christ the Lord and entrusted to the Church. As actions of Christ and of the Church, they are signs and means by which faith is expressed and strengthened, worship is offered to God and our sanctification is brought about. Thus they contribute in the most effective manner to establishing, strengthening and manifesting ecclesiastical communion. Accordingly, in the celebration of the sacraments both the sacred ministers and all the other members of Christ's faithful must show great reverence and due care." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"It is the grace of God, We say. For as He created us, so is He able, through the treasures of His wisdom and power, to set aflame and fill our hearts wholly with His love. Hence the Church, which from the fountains of the Sacraments turns the stream of grace into our souls, is rightly entitled holy. For by her tireless, ceaseless influence she unites countless souls with God in the close bond of a friendship, in which they abide. What is more, many of these souls she guides and leads to an invincible fortitude, to perfect sanctity of life, to deeds of heroism." (Pope Pius XI, "Ad Salutem", 1930 A.D.)

"The power of administering the sacraments belongs to the spiritual character which is indelible, as explained above (Q63,A3). Consequently, if a man be suspended by the Church, or excommunicated or degraded, he does not lose the power of conferring sacraments, but the permission to use this power. Wherefore he does indeed confer the sacrament, but he sins in so doing. He also sins that receives a sacrament from such a man: so that he does not receive the reality of the sacrament, unless ignorance excuses him." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Holy Writ is proposed to all alike: and so, the form of Baptism, which can be conferred by all, should be expressed in Holy Writ, as also the form of the Eucharist, which in regard to that sacrament, expresses faith which is necessary for salvation. Now the forms of the other sacraments are not contained in Holy Writ, but were handed down to the Church by the apostles, who received them from our Lord, as the Apostle declares (1 Corinthians 11:23): 'For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered to you,' etc." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"It is not enough that we believe; we must, moreover, be made just - that is, we must bear upon us the likeness of God's holiness; we must receive, we must have incorporated within us that great fruit of the redemption which is called grace; that thus being made living members of our divine Head, we may be made joint heirs with him of the kingdom of heaven. Now it is by means of the sacraments that Jesus is to produce in us this wondrous work of our justification; he applies to us the merits of his Incarnation and Sacrifice, but he applies them by certain means, which he himself, in his power and wisdom, has instituted." (Gueranger)

"The Church's seven sacraments have common and proper features. Common to all is the giving of grace, common to all their being made up of words and things. Christ is their author; He is the Word made flesh, and as His flesh was sanctified and given sanctifying virtue because of the words uttered in them... Hence these sanctifying words are called the form of the sacraments, and the sanctified elements the matter... Every sacrament, too, requires a minister who confers it with the intention of bestowing and doing what the Church bestows and does. If any of these three be defective...then no sacrament is celebrated." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Christ's members are united to their Head by charity, so that they may receive life from Him; for as it is written (1 John 3:14): 'He that loveth not abideth in death.' Now it is possible for a man to work with a lifeless instrument, and separated from him as to bodily union, provided it be united to him by some sort of motion: for a workman works in one way with his hand, in another with his axe. Consequently, it is thus that Christ works in the sacraments, both by wicked men as lifeless instruments, and by good men as living instruments." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"He who approaches a sacrament, receives it from a minister of the Church, not because he is such and such a man, but because he is a minister of the Church. Consequently, as long as the latter is tolerated in the ministry, he that receives a sacrament from him, does not communicate in his sin, but communicates with the Church from whom he has his ministry. But if the Church, by degrading, excommunicating, or suspending him, does not tolerate him in the ministry, he that receives a sacrament from him sins, because he communicates in his sin." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Human institutions observed in the sacraments are not essential to the sacrament; but belong to the solemnity which is added to the sacraments in order to arouse devotion and reverence in the recipients. But those things that are essential to the sacrament, are instituted by Christ Himself, Who is God and man. And though they are not all handed down by the Scriptures, yet the Church holds them from the intimate tradition of the apostles, according to the saying of the Apostle (1 Corinthians 11:34): 'The rest I will set in order when I come.'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"[O]f the many definitions, each of them sufficiently appropriate, which may serve to explain the nature of a Sacrament, there is no more comprehensive, no more perspicuous, than the definition given by St. Augustine and adopted by all scholastic writers. A Sacrament, he says, is a sign of a sacred thing; or, as it has been expressed in other words of the same import: A Sacrament is a visible sign of an invisible grace, instituted for our justification... They are signs instituted not by man but by God, which we firmly believe have in themselves the power of producing the sacred effects of which they are the signs." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"In explaining [the Sacraments], pastors should keep in view principally two things, which they should zealously strive to accomplish. The first is that the faithful understand the high honor, respect and veneration due to these divine and celestial gifts. The second is that, since the Sacraments have been established by the God of infinite mercy for the common salvation of all, the people should make pious and religious use of them, and be so inflamed with the desire of Christian perfection as to deem it a very great loss to be for any time deprived of the salutary use, particularly of Penance and the Holy Eucharist." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"Among the visible operations of the Church, some are sacraments, as Baptism, some are sacramentals, as Exorcism. The difference between these is that a sacrament is an action of the Church that reaches to the principal effect intended in the administration of the sacraments, whereas a sacramental is an action which, though it does not reach to that effect, is nevertheless directed towards that principal action. Now the effect intended in the administration of the sacraments is the healing of the disease of sin: wherefore it is written (Isaiah 27:9): 'This is all the fruit, that the sin ... should be taken away.'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"The Church's sacraments are ordained for helping man in the spiritual life. But the spiritual life is analogous to the corporeal, since corporeal things bear a resemblance to spiritual. Now it is clear that just as generation is required for corporeal life, since thereby man receives life; and growth, whereby man is brought to maturity: so likewise food is required for the preservation of life. Consequently, just as for the spiritual life there had to be Baptism, which is spiritual generation; and Confirmation, which is spiritual growth: so there needed to be the sacrament of the Eucharist, which is spiritual food." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"The preparation of the recipients of a sacrament is twofold. One is remote and is effected by the ministers: another is proximate, whereby they are rendered apt at once for receiving the sacraments. This latter belongs to priests, since even in natural things matter receives from one and the same agent both the ultimate disposition to the form, and the form itself. And since a person acquires the proximate disposition to the Eucharist by being cleansed from sin, it follows that the priest is the proper minister of all those sacraments which are chiefly instituted for the cleansing of sins, namely Baptism, Penance, and Extreme Unction." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"[T]he ministers of the Church work instrumentally in the sacraments, because, in a way, a minister is of the nature of an instrument. But, as stated above (Q62,AA1,4), an instrument acts not by reason of its own form, but by the power of the one who moves it. Consequently, whatever form or power an instrument has in addition to that which it has as an instrument, is accidental to it: for instance, that a physician's body, which is the instrument of his soul, wherein is his medical art, be healthy or sickly; or that a pipe, through which water passes, be of silver or lead. Therefore the ministers of the Church can confer the sacraments, though they be wicked." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"The fruit of all the Sacraments is common to all the faithful, and these Sacraments, particularly Baptism, the door, as it were, by which we are admitted into the Church, are so many sacred bonds which bind and unite them to Christ. That this communion of Saints implies a communion of Sacraments, the Fathers declare in these words of the Creed: I confess one Baptism. After Baptism, the Eucharist holds the first place in reference to this communion, and after that the other Sacraments; for although this name (Communion) is applicable to all the Sacraments, inasmuch as they unite us to God, and render us partakers of Him whose grace we receive, yet it belongs in a peculiar manner to the Eucharist which actually produces this communion." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"[A] sacrament properly speaking is that which is ordained to signify our sanctification. In which three things may be considered; viz. the very cause of our sanctification, which is Christ's passion; the form of our sanctification, which is grace and the virtues; and the ultimate end of our sanctification, which is eternal life. And all these are signified by the sacraments. Consequently a sacrament is a sign that is both a reminder of the past, i.e. the passion of Christ; and an indication of that which is effected in us by Christ's passion, i.e. grace; and a prognostic, that is, a foretelling of future glory... Since a sacrament signifies that which sanctifies, it must needs signify the effect, which is implied in the sanctifying cause as such." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"The Sacraments of the Catholic Church are seven in number, as is proved from Scripture, from the tradition handed down to us from the Fathers, and from the authority of Councils. Why they are neither more nor less in number may be shown, at least with some probability, from the analogy that exists between the natural and the spiritual life. In order to exist, to preserve existence, and to contribute to his own and to the public good, seven things seem necessary to man: to be born, to grow, to be nurtured, to be cured when sick, when weak to be strengthened; as far as regards the public welfare, to have magistrates invested with authority to govern, and to perpetuate himself and his species by legitimate offspring. Now, since it is quite clear that all these things are sufficiently analogous to that life by which the soul lives to God, we discover in them a reason to account for the number of the Sacraments." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"The minister of a sacrament produces the effect, not by his own power, as though he were the principal agent, but by the efficacy of the sacrament which he dispenses. This efficacy comes, in the first place, from Christ, and from Him flows down to others in due order, viz. to the people through the medium of the ministers who dispense the sacraments, and to the lower ministers through the medium of the higher ministers who sanctify the matter. Wherefore, in all the sacraments which require a sanctified matter, the first consecration of the matter is performed by a bishop, and the application thereof sometimes by a priest, in order to show that the priest's power is derived from the bishop's, according to Psalm 133:2: 'Like the precious ointment on the head,' i.e. Christ, 'that ran down upon the beard of Aaron' first, and then 'to the skirt of his garment.'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"From what has been said of sanctifying grace, the first effect of the Sacraments, it clearly follows that there resides in the Sacraments of the New Law, a virtue more exalted and efficacious than that of the sacraments of the Old Law. Those ancient sacraments, being week and needy elements, sanctified such as were defiled to the cleansing of the flesh, but not of the spirit. They were, therefore, instituted only as signs of those things, which were to be accomplished by our mysteries. The Sacraments of the New Law, on the contrary, flowing from the side of Christ, who, by the Holy Ghost offered himself unspotted unto God, cleanse our consciences from dead works, to serve the living God, and this work in us, through the Blood of Christ, the grace which they signify. Comparing our Sacraments, therefore, wit those of the Old Law we find that they are not only more efficacious, but also more fruitful in spiritual advantage, and more august in holiness." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"Some heretics in conferring sacraments do not observe the form prescribed by the Church: and these confer neither the sacrament nor the reality of the sacrament. But some do observe the form prescribed by the Church: and these confer indeed the sacrament but not the reality. I say this in the supposition that they are outwardly cut off from the Church; because from the very fact that anyone receives the sacraments from them, he sins; and consequently is hindered from receiving the effect of the sacrament. Wherefore Augustine (Fulgentius, De Fide ad Petrum) says: 'Be well assured and have no doubt whatever that those who are baptized outside the Church, unless they come back to the Church, will reap disaster from their Baptism.' In this sense Pope Leo says that 'the light of the sacraments was extinguished in the Church of Alexandria'; viz. in regard to the reality of the sacrament, not as to the sacrament itself." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Those who hold that the sacraments do not cause grace save by a certain coincidence, deny the sacraments any power that is itself productive of the sacramental effect, and hold that the Divine power assists the sacraments and produces their effect. But if we hold that a sacrament is an instrumental cause of grace, we must needs allow that there is in the sacraments a certain instrumental power of bringing about the sacramental effects. Now such power is proportionate to the instrument: and consequently it stands in comparison to the complete and perfect power of anything, as the instrument to the principal agent. For an instrument...does not work save as moved by the principal agent, which works of itself. And therefore the power of the principal agent exists in nature completely and perfectly: whereas the instrumental power has a being that passes from one thing into another, and is incomplete; just as motion is an imperfect act passing from agent to patient." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Now it has been said (A5,r 3) that it is fitting for the ministers of sacraments to be righteous; because ministers should be like unto their Lord, according to Leviticus 19:2: 'Be ye holy, because I ... am holy'; and Ecclesiasticus 10:2: 'As the judge of the people is himself, so also are his ministers.' Consequently, there can be no doubt that the wicked sin by exercising the ministry of God and the Church, by conferring the sacraments. And since this sin pertains to irreverence towards God and the contamination of holy things, as far as the man who sins is concerned, although holy things in themselves cannot be contaminated; it follows that such a sin is mortal in its genus... [T]he sacraments are holy in themselves owing to their mystical consecration. Wherefore the holiness of righteousness is required in the minister, that he may be suitable for his ministry: for which reason he acts unbecomingly and sins, if while in a state of sin he attempts to fulfil that ministry." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"The same holy Roman Church also holds and teaches that the ecclesiastical sacraments are seven: namely, one is baptism, concerning which we have spoken above; another is the sacrament of confirmation which the bishops confer through the imposition of hands when anointing the reborn; another is penance; another the Eucharist; another the sacrament of orders; another is matrimony; another extreme unction, which according to the doctrine of St. James is given to the sick. The same Roman Church prepares the sacrament of the Eucharist from unleavened bread, holding and teaching that in the same sacrament the bread is changed into the Body, and the wine into the Blood of Jesus Christ. But concerning matrimony it holds that neither one man is permitted to have many wives nor one woman many husbands at the same time. But she (the Church) says that second and third marriages successively are permissible for one freed from a legitimate marriage through the death of the other party, if another canonical impediment for some reason is not an obstacle." (Council of Lyons II, 1274 A.D.)

"[T]he sacraments, being visible, signs, are an additional bond of union between the members of the Church: we say additional, because these members have the two other strong links of union - submission to Peter and to the pastors sent by him and profession of the same faith. The Holy Ghost tells us, in the sacred Volume, that a threefold cord is not easily broken (Eccles. iv 12). Now we have such a one; and it keeps us in the glorious unity of the Church: hierarchy, dogmas, and sacraments, all contribute to make us one Body. Everywhere, from north to south, and from east to west, the sacraments testify to the fraternity that exists amongst us; by them we know each other, no matter in what part of the globe we may be, and by the same we are known by the heretics and infidels. These divine sacraments are the same in every country, how much soever the liturgical formulae of their administration may differ; they are the same in the graces they produce, they are the same in the signs whereby the grace is produced - in a word, they are the same in all the essentials." (Gueranger)

"In material things a key is an instrument for opening a door. Now the door of the kingdom is closed to us through sin, both as to the stain and as to the debt of punishment. Wherefore the power of removing this obstacle is called a key. Now this power is in the Divine Trinity by authority; hence some say that God has the key of authority. But Christ Man had the power to remove the above obstacle, through the merit of His Passion, which also is said to open the door; hence some say that He has the keys of excellence. And since 'the sacraments of which the Church is built, flowed from the side of Christ while He lay asleep on the cross' (Augustine, Enarrationes in Psalmos 138), the efficacy of the Passion abides in the sacraments of the Church. Wherefore a certain power for the removal of the aforesaid obstacle is bestowed on the ministers of the Church, who are the dispensers of the sacraments, not by their own, but by a Divine power and by the Passion of Christ. This power is called metaphorically the Church's key, and is the key of ministry." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"It now remains to inquire from whom we have received these sacred and divine mysteries [the Sacraments]. Any gift, however excellent in itself, undoubtedly receives an increase value from the dignity and excellence of him by whom it is bestowed. The present question, however, is not hard to answer. For since human justification comes from God, and since the Sacraments are the wonderful instruments of justification, it is evident that one and the same God in Christ, must be acknowledged to be the author of justification and of the Sacraments. Furthermore, the Sacraments contain a power and efficacy which reach the inmost soul; and as God alone has the power to enter into the hearts and minds of men, He alone, through Christ is manifestly the author of the Sacraments. That they are also interiorly dispensed by him we must hold with a firm and certain faith, according to these words of St. John, in which he declares that he learned this truth concerning Christ: He who sent me to baptize with water, said to me: He, upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining upon him, he it is that baptizeth with the Holy Ghost." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"None but the sick need remedies, according to Matthew 9:12: 'They that are in health need not a physician.' Now the sacraments are spiritual remedies for the healing of wounds inflicted by sin. Therefore they were not necessary before sin... Sacraments were not necessary in the state of innocence. This can be proved from the rectitude of that state, in which the higher (parts of man) ruled the lower, and nowise depended on them: for just as the mind was subject to God, so were the lower powers of the soul subject to the mind, and the body to the soul. And it would be contrary to this order if the soul were perfected either in knowledge or in grace, by anything corporeal; which happens in the sacraments. Therefore in the state of innocence man needed no sacraments, whether as remedies against sin or as means of perfecting the soul... Man's nature is the same before and after sin, but the state of his nature is not the same. Because after sin, the soul, even in its higher part, needs to receive something from corporeal things in order that it may be perfected: whereas man had no need of this in that state." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"[T]he sacraments of the New Law are ordained for a twofold purpose; namely, for a remedy against sins; and for the perfecting of the soul in things pertaining to the Divine worship according to the rite of the Christian life. Now whenever anyone is deputed to some definite purpose he is wont to receive some outward sign thereof; thus in olden times soldiers who enlisted in the ranks used to be marked with certain characters on the body, through being deputed to a bodily service. Since, therefore, by the sacraments men are deputed to a spiritual service pertaining to the worship of God, it follows that by their means the faithful receive a certain spiritual character. Wherefore Augustine says (Contra epistolam Parmeniani ii): 'If a deserter from the battle, through dread of the mark of enlistment on his body, throws himself on the emperor's clemency, and having besought and received mercy, return to the fight; is that character renewed, when the man has been set free and reprimanded? is it not rather acknowledged and approved? Are the Christian sacraments, by any chance, of a nature less lasting than this bodily mark?'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"A sacrament is so termed because it contains something sacred. Now a thing can be styled sacred from two causes; either absolutely, or in relation to something else. The difference between the Eucharist and other sacraments having sensible matter is that whereas the Eucharist contains something which is sacred absolutely, namely, Christ's own body; the baptismal water contains something which is sacred in relation to something else, namely, the sanctifying power: and the same holds good of chrism and such like. Consequently, the sacrament of the Eucharist is completed in the very consecration of the matter, whereas the other sacraments are completed in the application of the matter for the sanctifying of the individual. And from this follows another difference. For, in the sacrament of the Eucharist, what is both reality and sacrament is in the matter itself; but what is reality only, namely, the grace bestowed, is in the recipient; whereas in Baptism both are in the recipient, namely, the character, which is both reality and sacrament, and the grace of pardon of sins, which is reality only. And the same holds good of the other sacraments." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"We, therefore, who are resolved to make sure our election; who desire to possess the grace of our Risen Jesus in this life, and to enjoy his vision in the next; oh! Let us reverence and love this merciful seven, these admirable sacraments! Under this sacred number he has included all the varied riches of his grace. There is not a want or necessity either of souls individually, or of society at large, for which our Redeemer has not provided by these seven sources of regeneration and life. He calls us from death to life by Baptism and Penance; he strengthens us in that supernatural life by Confirmation, the Eucharist, and Extreme Unction; he secures to his Church both ministry and increase by Holy Orders and Matrimony. The seven sacraments supply everything needed; take one away, and you destroy the harmony... [W]hen Protestantism broke the sacred number, it showed in this as in all its other pretended reformations, that it was estranging itself from the spirit of the Christian religion. No: the doctrine of the sacraments is one that cannot be denied without denying the true faith. If we would be members of God's Church, we must receive this doctrine as coming from him who has a right to insist on our humble submission to his every word." (Gueranger)

"Our Risen Jesus would have the sacraments be seven. As at the beginning he stamped the creation of the visible world with this sacred number, giving six days to work and one to rest, so, too, would he mark the great spiritual creation. He tells us, in the Old Testament that Wisdom (that is, himself, for he is the Eternal Wisdom of the Father) will build to himself a house, which is the Church; and he adds that he will make it rest on seven pillars (Prov. ix I). He gives us a type of this same Church in the tabernacle built by Moses, and he orders a superb candlestick to be provided for giving light, by day and night, to the holy place; but there were to be seven branches to the candlestick, and on each branch were to be graven flowers and fruits (Exod. xxv 37). When he raises his beloved disciple to heaven, he shows himself to him surrounded by seven candlesticks, and holding seven stars in his right hand (Apoc. i 12,16). He appears to him as a Lamb, bearing seven horns, which are the symbol of strength, and having seven eyes, which signify his infinite wisdom (Apoc. v 6). Near him lies a Book, in which is written the future of the world; the Book is sealed with seven seals and none but the Lamb is able to loose them (Apoc. v 1, 5). The disciple sees seven spirits, burning like lamps, before the throne of God (Apoc. iv 5), ready to do his biddings, and carry his word to the extremities of the earth." (Gueranger)

"The principal effects of the Sacraments are two. The first place is rightly held by that grace which we, following the usage of the holy Doctors, call sanctifying. For so the Apostle most clearly taught when he said: Christ loved the church, and delivered himself up for it; that he might sanctify it, cleansing it by the laver of water in the world of life. But how so great and so admirable an effect is produced by the Sacrament that, to use the well-known saying of St. Augustine, water cleanses the body and reaches the heart - this indeed cannot be comprehended by human intelligence. It may be taken for granted that no sensible thing is of it's own nature able to reach the soul; but we know by the light of faith that in the Sacraments there exists the power of almighty God by which they affect that which the natural elements cannot of themselves accomplish... The second effect of the Sacraments - which however, is not common to all, but peculiar to three, Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders - is the character which they impress on the soul. When the Apostle says: God hath anointed us, who also hath sealed us, and given the pelage of the Spirit in our hearts, he not obscurely describes by the word sealed a character, the property of which is to impress a seal and mark. This character is, as it were, a distinctive impression stamped on the soul which perpetually inheres and cannot be blotted out." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"Without me, He says, 'you can do nothing.' If we grieve and do penance for our sins if, with filial fear and hope, we turn again to God, it is because He is leading us. Grace and glory flow from His inexhaustible fullness. Our Savior is continually pouring out His gifts of counsel, fortitude, fear and piety, especially on the leading members of His Body, so that the whole Body may grow ever more and more in holiness and integrity of life. When the Sacraments of the Church are administered by external rite, it is He who produces their effect in souls. He nourishes the redeemed with His own Flesh and Blood and thus calms the turbulent passions of the soul; He gives increase of grace and prepares future glory for souls and bodies. All these treasures of His divine goodness He is said to bestow on the members of His Mystical Body, not merely because He, as the Eucharistic Victim on earth and the glorified Victim in heaven, through His wounds and His prayers pleads our cause before the Eternal Father, but because He selects, He determines, He distributes every single grace to every single person 'according to the measure of the giving of Christ.' Hence it follows that from our Divine Redeemer as from a fountainhead 'the whole body, being compacted and fitly joined together, by what every joint supplieth according to the operation in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body, unto the edifying of itself in charity.'" (Pope Pius XII, "Mystici Corporis Christi", 1943 A.D.)

"Like her divine Head, the Church is forever present in the midst of her children. She aids and exhorts them to holiness, so that they may one day return to the Father in heaven clothed in that beauteous raiment of the supernatural. To all who are born to life on earth she gives a second, supernatural kind of birth. She arms them with the Holy Spirit for the struggle against the implacable enemy. She gathers all Christians about her altars, inviting and urging them repeatedly to take part in the celebration of the Mass, feeding them with the Bread of Angels to make them ever stronger. She purifies and consoles the hearts that sin has wounded and soiled. Solemnly she consecrates those whom God has called to the priestly ministry. She fortifies with new gifts of grace the chaste nupitals of those who are destined to found and bring up a Christian family. When at last she has soothed and refreshed the closing hours of this earthly life by holy Viaticum and extreme unction, with the utmost affection she accompanies the mortal remains of her children to the grave, lays them reverently to rest, and confides them to the protection of the cross, against the day when they will triumph over death and rise again. She has a further solemn blessing and invocation for those of her children who dedicate themselves to the service of God in the life of religious perfection. Finally, she extends to the souls in purgatory, who implore her intercession and her prayers, the helping hand which may lead them happily at last to eternal blessedness in heaven." (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei", 1947 A.D.)

"There are seven sacraments of the new Law: namely, baptism, confirmation, Eucharist, penance, extreme unction, orders, and matrimony, which differ a great deal from the sacraments of the Old Law. For those of the Old Law did not effect grace, but only pronounced that it should be given through the passion of Christ; these sacraments of ours contain grace, and confer it upon those who receive them worthily. Of these the five first ones are ordained for the spiritual perfection of each and every one in himself, the last two for the government and increase of the entire Church. For, through baptism we are spiritually reborn; through confirmation we increase in grace, and are made strong in faith; reborn, however, we are strengthened and nourished by the divine sustenance of the Eucharist. But if through sin we incur the disease of the soul, through penance we are spiritually healed; spiritually and corporally, according as is expedient to the soul, through extreme unction; through orders the Church is truly governed and spiritually propagated; through matrimony corporally increased. All these sacraments are dispensed in three ways, namely, by things as the matter, by words as the form, and by the person of the minister conferring the sacrament with the intention of doing as the Church does; if any of these is lacking the sacrament is not fulfilled. Among these sacraments there are three, baptism, confirmation, and orders, which imprint an indelible sign on the soul, that is, a certain character distinctive from the others. Hence they should not be repeated in the same person. The remaining four do not imprint a sign and admit of repetition." (Pope Eugenius IV, "Exultate Deo", 1439 A.D.)

"If he who corrupts the pronunciation of the sacramental words - does so on purpose, he does not seem to intend to do what the Church intends: and thus the sacrament seems to be defective. But if he do this through error or a slip of the tongue, and if he so far mispronounce the words as to deprive them of sense, the sacrament seems to be defective. This would be the case especially if the mispronunciation be in the beginning of a word, for instance, if one were to say 'in nomine matris' instead of 'in nomine Patris'. If, however, the sense of the words be not entirely lost by this mispronunciation, the sacrament is complete. This would be the case principally if the end of a word be mispronounced; for instance, if one were to say patris et filias. For although the words thus mispronounced have no appointed meaning, yet we allow them an accommodated meaning corresponding to the usual forms of speech. And so, although the sensible sound is changed, yet the sense remains the same. What has been said about the various mispronunciations of words, either at the beginning or at the end, holds forasmuch as with us a change at the beginning of a word changes the meaning, whereas a change at the end generally speaking does not effect such a change: whereas with the Greeks the sense is changed also in the beginning of words in the conjugation of verbs. Nevertheless the principle point to observe is the extent of the corruption entailed by mispronunciation: for in either case it may be so little that it does not alter the sense of the words; or so great that it destroys it. But it is easier for the one to happen on the part of the beginning of the words, and the other at the end." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Sacraments are necessary unto man's salvation for three reasons. The first is taken from the condition of human nature which is such that it has to be led by things corporeal and sensible to things spiritual and intelligible. Now it belongs to Divine providence to provide for each one according as its condition requires. Divine wisdom, therefore, fittingly provides man with means of salvation, in the shape of corporeal and sensible signs that are called sacraments. The second reason is taken from the state of man who in sinning subjected himself by his affections to corporeal things. Now the healing remedy should be given to a man so as to reach the part affected by disease. Consequently it was fitting that God should provide man with a spiritual medicine by means of certain corporeal signs; for if man were offered spiritual things without a veil, his mind being taken up with the material world would be unable to apply itself to them. The third reason is taken from the fact that man is prone to direct his activity chiefly towards material things. Lest, therefore, it should be too hard for man to be drawn away entirely from bodily actions, bodily exercise was offered to him in the sacraments, by which he might be trained to avoid superstitious practices, consisting in the worship of demons, and all manner of harmful action, consisting in sinful deeds. It follows, therefore, that through the institution of the sacraments man, consistently with his nature, is instructed through sensible things; he is humbled, through confessing that he is subject to corporeal things, seeing that he receives assistance through them: and he is even preserved from bodily hurt, by the healthy exercise of the sacraments." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"The Christian, at almost every important stage of his mortal career, finds at his side the priest with power received from God, in the act of communicating or increasing that grace which is the supernatural life of his soul. Scarcely is he born before the priest baptizing him, brings him by a new birth to a more noble and precious life, a supernatural life, and makes him a son of God and of the Church of Jesus Christ. To strengthen him to fight bravely in spiritual combats, a priest invested with special dignity makes him a soldier of Christ by holy chrism. Then, as soon as he is able to recognize and value the Bread of Angels, the priest gives It to him, the living and life-giving Food come down from Heaven. If he fall, the priest raises him up again in the name of God, and reconciles him to God with the Sacrament of Penance. Again, if he is called by God to found a family and to collaborate with Him in the transmission of human life throughout the world, thus increasing the number of the faithful on earth and, thereafter, the ranks of the elect in Heaven, the priest is there to bless his espousals and unblemished love; and when, finally, arrived at the portals of eternity, the Christian feels the need of strength and courage before presenting himself at the tribunal of the Divine Judge, the priest with the holy oils anoints the failing members of the sick or dying Christian, and reconsecrates and comforts him. Thus the priest accompanies the Christian throughout the pilgrimage of this life to the gates of Heaven. He accompanies the body to its resting place in the grave with rites and prayers of immortal hope. And even beyond the threshold of eternity he follows the soul to aid it with Christian suffrages, if need there be of further purification and alleviation. Thus, from the cradle to the grave the priest is ever beside the faithful, a guide, a solace, a minister of salvation and dispenser of grace and blessing." (Pope Pius XI, "Ad Catholici Sacerdotii", 1935 A.D.)

"Sacraments are necessary for man's salvation, in so far as they are sensible signs of invisible things whereby man is made holy. Now after sin no man can be made holy save through Christ, 'Whom God hath proposed to be e propitiation, through faith in His blood, to the showing of His justice ... that He Himself may be just, and the justifier of him who is of the faith of Jesus Christ' (Romans 3:25,26). Therefore before Christ's coming there was need for some visible signs whereby man might testify to his faith in the future coming of a Savior. And these signs are called sacraments... Christ's Passion is the final cause of the old sacraments: for they were instituted in order to foreshadow it... The state of the human race after sin and before Christ can be considered from two points of view. First, from that of faith: and thus it was always one and the same: since men were made righteous, through faith in the future coming of Christ. Secondly, according as sin was more or less intense, and knowledge concerning Christ more or less explicit. For as time went on sin gained a greater hold on man, so much so that it clouded man's reason, the consequence being that the precepts of the natural law were insufficient to make man live aright, and it became necessary to have a written code of fixed laws, and together with these certain sacraments of faith. For it was necessary, as time went on, that the knowledge of faith should be more and more unfolded, since, as Gregory says (Hom. 6 in Ezech.): 'With the advance of time there was an advance in the knowledge of Divine things.' Consequently in the Old Law there was also a need for certain fixed sacraments significative of man's faith in the future coming of Christ: which sacraments are compared to those that preceded the Law, as something determinate to that which is indeterminate: inasmuch as before the Law it was not laid down precisely of what sacraments men were to make use: whereas this was prescribed by the Law; and this was necessary both on account of the overclouding of the natural law, and for the clearer signification of faith." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Now we see that the human body is given the proper means to provide for its own life, health and growth, and for that of all its members. Similarly, the Savior of mankind out of His infinite goodness has provided in a wonderful way for His Mystical Body, endowing it with the Sacraments, so that, as though by an uninterrupted series of graces, its members should be sustained from birth to death, and that generous provision might be made for the social needs of the Church. Through the waters of Baptism those who are born into this world dead in sin are not only born again and made members of the Church, but being stamped with a spiritual seal they become able and fit to receive the other Sacraments. By the chrism of Confirmation, the faithful are given added strength to protect and defend the Church, their Mother, and the faith she has given them. In the Sacrament of Penance a saving medicine is offered for the members of the Church who have fallen into sin, not only to provide for their own health, but to remove from other members of the Mystical Body all danger of contagion, or rather to afford them an incentive to virtue, and the example of a virtuous act. Nor is that all; for in the Holy Eucharist the faithful are nourished and strengthened at the same banquet and by a divine, ineffable bond are united with each other and with the Divine Head of the whole Body. Finally, like a devoted mother, the Church is at the bedside of those who are sick unto death; and if it be not always God's will that by the holy anointing she restore health to the mortal body, nevertheless she administers spiritual medicine to the wounded soul and sends new citizens to heaven - to be her new advocates - who will enjoy forever the happiness of God. For the social needs of the Church Christ has provided in a particular way by the institution of two other Sacraments. Through Matrimony, in which the contracting parties are ministers of grace to each other, provision is made for the external and duly regulated increase of Christian society, and, what is of greater importance, for the correct religious education of the children, without which this Mystical Body would be in grave danger. Through Holy Orders men are set aside and consecrated to God, to offer the Sacrifice of the Eucharistic Victim, to nourish the flock of the faithful with the Bread of Angels and the food of doctrine, to guide them in the way of God's commandments and counsels and to strengthen them with all other supernatural helps." (Pope Pius XII, "Mystici Corporis Christi", 1943 A.D.)

"We must needs say that in some way the sacraments of the New Law cause grace. For it is evident that through the sacraments of the New Law man is incorporated with Christ: thus the Apostle says of Baptism (Galatians 3:27): 'As many of you as have been baptized in Christ have put on Christ.' And man is made a member of Christ through grace alone. Some, however, say that they are the cause of grace not by their own operation, but in so far as God causes grace in the soul when the sacraments are employed. And they give as an example a man who on presenting a leaden coin, receives, by the king's command, a hundred pounds: not as though the leaden coin, by any operation of its own, caused him to be given that sum of money; this being the effect of the mere will of the king. Hence Bernard says in a sermon on the Lord's Supper: 'Just as a canon is invested by means of a book, an abbot by means of a crozier, a bishop by means of a ring, so by the various sacraments various kinds of grace are conferred.' But if we examine the question properly, we shall see that according to the above mode the sacraments are mere signs. For the leaden coin is nothing but a sign of the king's command that this man should receive money. In like manner the book is a sign of the conferring of a canonry. Hence, according to this opinion the sacraments of the New Law would be mere signs of grace; whereas we have it on the authority of many saints that the sacraments of the New Law not only signify, but also cause grace. We must therefore say otherwise, that an efficient cause is twofold, principal and instrumental. The principal cause works by the power of its form, to which form the effect is likened; just as fire by its own heat makes something hot. In this way none but God can cause grace: since grace is nothing else than a participated likeness of the Divine Nature, according to 2 Peter 1:4: 'He hath given us most great and precious promises; that you may be made partakers of the Divine Nature.' But the instrumental cause works not by the power of its form, but only by the motion whereby it is moved by the principal agent: so that the effect is not likened to the instrument but to the principal agent: for instance, the couch is not like the axe, but like the art which is in the craftsman's mind. And it is thus that the sacraments of the New Law cause grace: for they are instituted by God to be employed for the purpose of conferring grace. Hence Augustine says (Contra Faustum Manichaeum xix): 'All these things,' viz. pertaining to the sacraments, 'are done and pass away, but the power,' viz. of God, 'which works by them, remains ever.' Now that is, properly speaking, an instrument by which someone works: wherefore it is written (Titus 3:5): 'He saved us by the laver of regeneration.'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"With regard to all the variations that may occur in the sacramental forms, two points seem to call for our attention. One is on the part of the person who says the words, and whose intention is essential to the sacrament... Wherefore if he intends by such addition or suppression to perform a rite other from that which is recognized by the Church, it seems that the sacrament is invalid: because he seems not to intend to do what the Church does. The other point to be considered is the meaning of the words. For since in the sacraments, the words produce an effect according to the sense which they convey... we must see whether the change of words destroys the essential sense of the words: because then the sacrament is clearly rendered invalid. Now it is clear, if any substantial part of the sacramental form be suppressed, that the essential sense of the words is destroyed; and consequently the sacrament is invalid. Wherefore Didymus says (De Spiritu Sancto ii): 'If anyone attempt to baptize in such a way as to omit one of the aforesaid names,' i.e. of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, 'his baptism will be invalid.' But if that which is omitted be not a substantial part of the form, such an omission does not destroy the essential sense of the words, nor consequently the validity of the sacrament. Thus in the form of the Eucharist - 'For this is My Body,' the omission of the word 'for' does not destroy the essential sense of the words, nor consequently cause the sacrament to be invalid; although perhaps he who makes the omission may sin from negligence or contempt. Again, it is possible to add something that destroys the essential sense of the words: for instance, if one were to say: 'I baptize thee in the name of the Father Who is greater, and of the Son Who is less,' with which form the Arians baptized: and consequently such an addition makes the sacrament invalid. But if the addition be such as not to destroy the essential sense, the sacrament is not rendered invalid. Nor does it matter whether this addition be made at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end: For instance, if one were to say, 'I baptize thee in the name of the Father Almighty, and of the only Begotten Son, and of the Holy Ghost, the Paraclete,' the baptism would be valid; and in like manner if one were to say, 'I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost'; and may the Blessed Virgin succor thee, the baptism would be valid. Perhaps, however, if one were to say, 'I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, and of the Blessed Virgin Mary,' the baptism would be void; because it is written (1 Corinthians 1:13): 'Was Paul crucified for you or were you baptized in the name of Paul?' But this is true if the intention be to baptize in the name of the Blessed Virgin as in the name of the Trinity, by which baptism is consecrated: for such a sense would be contrary to faith, and would therefore render the sacrament invalid: whereas if the addition, 'and in the name of the Blessed Virgin' be understood, not as if the name of the Blessed Virgin effected anything in baptism, but as intimating that her intercession may help the person baptized to preserve the baptismal grace, then the sacrament is not rendered void." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Absolutely speaking, the sacrament of the Eucharist is the greatest of all the sacraments: and this may be shown in three ways. First of all because it contains Christ Himself substantially: whereas the other sacraments contain a certain instrumental power which is a share of Christ's power... Now that which is essentially such is always of more account than that which is such by participation. Secondly, this is made clear by considering the relation of the sacraments to one another. For all the other sacraments seem to be ordained to this one as to their end. For it is manifest that the sacrament of Order is ordained to the consecration of the Eucharist: and the sacrament of Baptism to the reception of the Eucharist: while a man is perfected by Confirmation, so as not to fear to abstain from this sacrament. By Penance and Extreme Unction man is prepared to receive the Body of Christ worthily. And Matrimony at least in its signification, touches this sacrament; in so far as it signifies the union of Christ with the Church, of which union the Eucharist is a figure: hence the Apostle says (Ephesians 5:32): 'This is a great sacrament: but I speak in Christ and in the Church.' Thirdly, this is made clear by considering the rites of the sacraments. For nearly all the sacraments terminate in the Eucharist, as Dionysius says (De Ecclesiastica Hierarchia iii): thus those who have been ordained receive Holy Communion, as also do those who have been baptized, if they be adults. The remaining sacraments may be compared to one another in several ways. For on the ground of necessity, Baptism is the greatest of the sacraments; while from the point of view of perfection, Order comes first; while Confirmation holds a middle place. The sacraments of Penance and Extreme Unction are on a degree inferior to those mentioned above; because... they are ordained to the Christian life, not directly, but accidentally, as it were, that is to say, as remedies against supervening defects. And among these, Extreme Unction is compared to Penance, as Confirmation to Baptism; in such a way, that Penance is more necessary, whereas Extreme Unction is more perfect... This argument [that Baptism is the greatest sacrament] proceeds on the ground of necessity. For thus Baptism, being of the greatest necessity, is the greatest of the sacraments, just as order and Confirmation have a certain excellence considered in their administration; and Matrimony by reason of its signification. For there is no reason why a thing should not be greater from a certain point of view which is not greater absolutely speaking." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Now the life of the body is perfected directly, in three ways. First, by generation whereby a man begins to be and to live: and corresponding to this in the spiritual life there is Baptism, which is a spiritual regeneration, according to Titus 3:5: 'By the laver of regeneration,' etc. Secondly, by growth whereby a man is brought to perfect size and strength: and corresponding to this in the spiritual life there is Confirmation, in which the Holy Ghost is given to strengthen us. Wherefore the disciples who were already baptized were bidden thus: 'Stay you in the city till you be endued with power from on high' (Luke 24:49). Thirdly, by nourishment whereby life and strength are preserved to man; and corresponding to this in the spiritual life there is the Eucharist. Wherefore it is said (John 6:54): 'Except you eat of the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you.' And this would be enough for man if he had an impassible life, both corporally and spiritually; but since man is liable at times to both corporal and spiritual infirmity, i.e. sin, hence man needs a cure from his infirmity; which cure is twofold. One is the healing, that restores health: and corresponding to this in the spiritual life there is Penance, according to Psalm 41:4: 'Heal my soul, for I have sinned against Thee.' The other is the restoration of former vigor by means of suitable diet and exercise: and corresponding to this in the spiritual life there is Extreme Unction, which removes the remainder of sin, and prepares man for final glory. Wherefore it is written (James 5:15): 'And if he be in sins they shall be forgiven him.' In regard to the whole community, man is perfected in two ways. First, by receiving power to rule the community and to exercise public acts: and corresponding to this in the spiritual life there is the sacrament of order, according to the saying of Hebrews 7:27, that priests offer sacrifices not for themselves only, but also for the people. Secondly in regard to natural propagation. This is accomplished by Matrimony both in the corporal and in the spiritual life: since it is not only a sacrament but also a function of nature. We may likewise gather the number of the sacraments from their being instituted as a remedy against the defect caused by sin. For Baptism is intended as a remedy against the absence of spiritual life; Confirmation, against the infirmity of soul found in those of recent birth; the Eucharist, against the soul's proneness to sin; Penance, against actual sin committed after baptism; Extreme Unction, against the remainders of sins - of those sins, namely, which are not sufficiently removed by Penance, whether through negligence or through ignorance; Order, against divisions in the community; Matrimony, as a remedy against concupiscence in the individual, and against the decrease in numbers that results from death." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

Also See: Sacraments (Gen'l. Info.) | The Sacraments (Catechism of the Council of Trent) | Sacraments (Topical Scripture) | Priests & The Sacraments (Priests & Vocations Reflections) | Catholic Basics Section

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