Presupposing faith


In the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Paragraph 228 states:

The sacraments not only presuppose faith but with words and ritual elements they nourish, strengthen, and express it.

How do the sacraments presuppose faith?


If people show up to receive a Sacrament or priests set up to administer one, we assume they have faith. We don’t assume that they don’t have faith.

Similarly, people who don’t believe in a Sacrament usually know they’re not supposed to partake. If you don’t already have faith, a sacrament isn’t going to mean much to you, unless God miraculously teaches you and lets you feel it or understand it.


One who has no faith would see the sacraments as simply rituals with no real meaning, other than what one might care to assign to it. And with no faith, words like grace would have no content.

Lack of faith might mean that the individual has no belief if God, or that they have only some vague, fuzzy notion of a God with no real content to that belief. There is nothing particularly personal; no personal relationship with God, no understanding of Christ as the Son of God, or understanding of Trinity, nor necessarily any afterlife. The sacraments would have no more meaning, and perhaps not even as much, as a prayer wheel to a Hindu.


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