I'm hoping to understand something Catholic more fully. My pastor (Reformed) has said, regarding the Eucharist:
“Grace is always conferred in the sacrament regardless of the faith of the recipient.”
What he’s meaining to do is show that Catholics believe that you receive grace (ie. salvation, or justification) just because you’re baptised, or that you receive benefits from the Eucharist just because you partake of it. Even if you are in sin or have no faith in God.
In fact, I quizzed him up on this, and gave him 2 written choices, and this is the one he picked to represent what he meant:
“Grace is always conferred to the fullest extent possible regardless of the faith of the recepient.”
The 2 choices were the 2 statements above in “…”
Now, he and I have got in 2 discussions about this. I’ve read some Aquinas on disctinctions of grace, but my pastor doesn’t care about the differences between habitual grace, sacramental grace, and actual grace, and all that. So, that’s out the door. He actually claims to have “official documents” relating to “ex opere operato” I suppose, and the Council of Trent showing that what he says is what the Catholic church teaches.
Here’s what I’ve got for sources so far:
Modern CCC Catechism of the Council of Trent (great work!!) Documents of the Council of Trent (canons and all that) Pope Pius XII's "Mediator Dei"
I have been told that St. Augustine’s “Against the Donatists” is a major work where the nature of the Sacraments and Grace was developed quite a bit.
So, what do you have to say? Am I right in thinking my pastor is mistaken. p. 245-248 in my Cat. of. Council of Trent, and Trent Session 13 lead me to believe that he’s mistaken. But I realize that there’s some intricate issues involved there, and perhaps it’s not good to make a “blanket description” of this topic.