« Ch. XXVI. Q. 141. What does the term Sacrament signify in theological use? | Main | Chapter XXVII. Baptism and Confirmation »

September 19, 2005

Ch. XXVI. Q. 142. What are the chief terms employed in connections with the Sacraments?

THE CHIEF terms employed in connection with the Sacraments are sacramentum, matter, form, res sacramenti, virtus sacramenti, and beneficium sacramenti.1

2. The sacramentum, as has been shown, is the outward sign by means of which the inward grace is conveyed; and it consists of the matter and the form. The matter consists of the visible actions and natural substances which are required. The form consists of the words which are prescribed, and which express the significance of the matter. No Sacrament is valid unless the proper matter and form have been employed by a competent Minister.2

3. The res sacramenti is the invisible thing or substance which is imparted by means of the sacramentum, and in which the internal grace is contained. The Holy Eucharist alone possesses a res sacramenti. The grace of other Sacraments is conveyed by means of the visible rites simply.3

4. The virtus sacramenti is the supernatural efficacy which a sacrament possesses ex opere operato, when validly performed by reason of Christ's ordinance and independently of the faith, secret intention or worthiness of the minister and recipients.4 The intention of a Sacrament is always the intention of Christ and His Church, unless the matter and form are so employed as visibly to exclude such intention, in which case the Sacrament is altogether invalid.5 Unworthy reception of a Sacrament destroys its benefit, but cannot affect its validity or the virtus sacramenti.6

5. The benefit of a Sacrament is its effect upon one who receives it worthily — i.e., with faith and penitence; or at least, as in the case of infants, without unbelief or impenitence, which would nullify the benefits flowing from the operation of grace in the soul. Those Sacraments which produce character produce it in any case; so that an unworthy reception of such Sacraments can be remedied by subsequent faith and repentance; and their suspended benefits can then be enjoyed. But such reception is sacrilegious and dangerous, hardening the soul so as to make repentance more difficult than before.7

1 Schouppe, X. 55-67, 87-116.

2 Grueber's Seven Sacraments, 4-7, 29-37, 44: S. Thos. Sum. Th., III. 60: Schouppe, X. 58-67: Cat. of Nic. Bulgaris, 16, 21, 22, 25: Elmendorf, Elem. Moral Theol., 558, 559.

3 Wilberforce, Holy Euch., pp. 84, 123-125, 206, 207: Dix's Sacramental System, pp. 150-157.

4 Forbes 39 Arts., 444-446: XXVI: Grueber's Seven Sacraments, 45-49: Kingdon's God Inc., 138, 139: S. Thos. Sum. Th., III. 64. 5, 6: Percival's Digest, Ill: Moehler's Symbolism, § 29: Schouppe, X. 126-139, 145: Elmendorf, 560-563.

5 Grueber, 49-55: Hooker's Ec. Pol., V. 57: S. Thos. Sum. Th., III. 64. 8, 10: Haddan's Apost. Suc., 265-269: Pusey's Second Letter to Newman, 48-57: Percival's Digest, 115-120: Schouppe, X. 104-116: Elmendorf, 563, 564.

6 Wilberforce, 84, 206, 207.

7 Schouppe, X. 191-199.

Posted by Trevor at September 19, 2005 10:57 AM