Sacramental desire and graces

My understanding is that the ancient Donatists, and the Jansenists (I believe) revival of this heresy in the Reformation era, asserted the Sacraments were by ex opere operantis (dependent upon the agent), not ex opere operato. The Trent anathema was direct against this assertion.

Rob,

This is a tricky question, and it’s one that the Reformed tend to press very hard. Clearly they think the difference goes beyond the question whether Christ is still received in the Eucharist if the recipient doesn’t have faith. I think the difference is partly misunderstanding, and partly a different way of putting it, which is perhaps more than just semantics. The Catholic understanding is that grace is received if no obstacle is presented. Lack of faith would obviously be an obstacle, as would mortal sin (unbelief is, of course, a mortal sin anyway). The Reformed, on the other hand, think of faith as the means by which grace (indeed by which the Body of Christ itself) is received. So I think the fair way of putting your pastor’s criticism would be to say that the Catholic understanding of what it means to be in a state of grace is too passive. Faith, as Luther put it, is a “living, active, mighty thing.” I think this really is a difference of emphasis, but it does have some practical consequence. The irony, of course, is that the Reformed come across looking like the ones who require a “work” in order to receive grace, while Catholics believe that Christians are (with regard to the sacraments) passive recipients. However, given how many Catholics do seem to think that receiving grace from the sacraments is fairly automatic, I wouldn’t completely discount the Reformed objection. I don’t really think the two positions are incompatible or that one of them is necessarily better than the other. Which is stressed should be a pastoral matter, I think.

In Christ,

Edwin

Thanks again for all those replies.

I have finished Mediator Dei by Pope Pius XII, and am starting to read St. Augustine’s 1st book against the Donatists. I’m expecting it to be very revealing, and convincing.

Truly, I appreciate the responses. I feel better equipped to present the Catholic understanding better. Of course, he’s not going to like that, but he is the one that pushed it. I thought this issue was dropped a couple months ago, in favor of more basic things like Sola Scriptura.

Here we go, another common example like those in “Surprised by the Truth!”

Since this thread regarded sacramental desires also, I have to say that the proper disposition and desire for baptism or confession counting as good in God’s eyes is not totally unBiblical. So it’s not hard for me to believe what the Church teaches on this in light of Scripture:

II Chronicles 30:17-20
For there were many in the assembly who had not consecrated themselves; therefore, the Levites were over the slaughter of the Passover lambs for everyone who was unclean, in order to consecrate them to the Lord. For a multitude of the people, even many from Ephraim and Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun, had not purified themselves, yet they ate the Passover otherwise than prescribed. For Hezekiah prayed for them, saying “May the good Lord pardon everyone who prepares his heart to seek God, the Lord God of his fathers, though not according to the purification rules of the sanctuary.” So the Lord heard Hezekiah and healed the people.

[quote=Reformed Rob]Ok, Secondly, and briefly:

When the Council of Trent speaks of the "three-fold manner of communicating" (receiving the Eucharist) namely:
  1. Sacramentally
  2. Spiritually
  3. Both Sacramentally and Spiritually

What exactly is meant by “Spiritually receiving the Eucharist”?

It looks like it means, “I would be able to receive the Eucharist, because I don’t have any unconfessed mortal sin, and I am in communion with my Bishop and in good standing with the Catholic Church, I don’t believe heresy, and I really want to receive Christ in the sacrament to the benefit of my soul, but I can’t right now because I’m not at church, and because I’m 20,000 leagues under the sea on a nuclear submarine and there’s no Catholic priest around.”

Am I right, or am I way off?

[/quote]

This is a bit off topic but your example caught my eye. Did you know that Buzz Aldrin (the 2nd man to walk on the moon) brought consecrated bread and wine to the surface of the moon on Apollo 11. (At least that is what Tom Hank’s docudrama “From the Earth to the Moon” showed)

Shows just how far someone will go to recieve the Eucharist.

peace
-Jim

[quote=trogiah]This is a bit off topic but your example caught my eye. Did you know that Buzz Aldrin (the 2nd man to walk on the moon) brought consecrated bread and wine to the surface of the moon on Apollo 11. (At least that is what Tom Hank’s docudrama “From the Earth to the Moon” showed)

Shows just how far someone will go to recieve the Eucharist.

peace
-Jim
[/quote]

Jim,

No, I didn’t know about that. Thanks for passing that on!

Actually, I’m not surprised to hear that. After all, I’ve read of priests travelling through some rough country to hear confession back in the day.

Rob

[quote=trogiah]This is a bit off topic but your example caught my eye. Did you know that Buzz Aldrin (the 2nd man to walk on the moon) brought consecrated bread and wine to the surface of the moon on Apollo 11. (At least that is what Tom Hank’s docudrama “From the Earth to the Moon” showed)

Shows just how far someone will go to recieve the Eucharist.

peace
-Jim
[/quote]

Jim,

No, I didn’t know about that. Thanks for passing that on!

Actually, I’m not surprised to hear that. After all, I’ve read of priests travelling through some rough country to hear confession back in the day.

Rob

I answer that, In this sacrament, as in the others, that which is a sacrament is a sign of the reality of the sacrament. Now there is a twofold reality of this sacrament, as stated above (73, 6): one which is signified and contained, namely, Christ Himself; while the other is signified but not contained, namely, Christ’s mystical body, which is the fellowship of the saints. Therefore, whoever receives this sacrament, expresses thereby that he is made one with Christ, and incorporated in His members; and this is done by living faith, which no one has who is in mortal sin. And therefore it is manifest that whoever receives this sacrament while in mortal sin, is guilty of lying to this sacrament, and consequently of sacrilege, because he profanes the sacrament: and therefore he sins mortally.

Jay

Thanks for that, in true Thomistic fashion I might add!
I found it after some searching, it is Q. 80 Art. 4

This was helpful as well: Q. 81 Art. 2 Did Christ gave His Body to Judas at it’s institution?
Objection 3. Further, it is distinctly related (John 13:26) that Christ gave dipped bread to Judas. Consequently, if He gave His body to him, it appears that He gave it him in the morsel, especially since we read (John 13:26) that “after the morsel, Satan entered into him.” And on this passage Augustine says (Tract. lxii in Joan.): “From this we learn how we should beware of receiving a good thing in an evil way . . . For if he be ‘chastised’ who does ‘not discern,’ i.e. distinguish, the body of the Lord from other meats, how must he be ‘condemned’ who, feigning himself a friend, comes to His table a foe?” But (Judas) did not receive our Lord’s body with the dipped morsel; thus Augustine commenting on John 13:26, “When He had dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas, the son of Simon the Iscariot [Vulg.: 'to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon,” says (Tract. lxii in Joan.): “Judas did not receive Christ’s body then, as some think who read carelessly.” Therefore it seems that Judas did not receive the body of Christ.

**On the contrary, Chrysostom says (Hom. lxxxii in Matth.): “Judas was not converted while partaking of the sacred mysteries: hence on both sides his crime becomes the more heinous, both because imbued with such a purpose he approached the mysteries, and because he became none the better for approaching, neither from fear, nor from the benefit received, nor from the honor conferred on him.”

Reply to Objection 3. Without any doubt Judas did not receive Christ’s body in the dipped bread; he received mere bread. Yet as Augustine observes (Tract. lxii in Joan.), “perchance the feigning of Judas is denoted by the dipping of the bread; just as some things are dipped to be dyed. If, however, the dipping signifies here anything good” (for instance, the sweetness of the Divine goodness, since bread is rendered more savory by being dipped), “then, not undeservedly, did condemnation follow his ingratitude for that same good.” And owing to that ingratitude, “what is good became evil to him, as happens to them who receive Christ’s body unworthily.”

Also, Q. 80 Art. 1 - Are there 2 ways to be distinguished of eating Christ’s Body (Sacramentally and Spiritually)?

I answer that, There are two things to be considered in the receiving of this sacrament, namely, the sacrament itself, and its fruits, and we have already spoken of both (Q73,79). The perfect way, then, of receiving this sacrament is when one takes it so as to partake of its effect. Now, as was stated above (79, 3,8), it sometimes happens that a man is hindered from receiving the effect of this sacrament; and such receiving of this sacrament is an imperfect one. Therefore, as the perfect is divided against the imperfect, so sacramental eating, whereby the sacrament only is received without its effect, is divided against spiritual eating, by which one receives the effect of this sacrament, whereby a man is spiritually united with Christ through faith and charity.

This thread has been and continues to be very helpful. Thanks everyone!!

Reformed?Rob

From the Pope Pius X Catechism…

**The Dispositions necessary to Receive Holy Communion worthily **

**32 Q: Does the sacrament of the Eucharist always produce its marvelous effects in us? **

A: The sacrament of the Eucharist produces its marvelous effects in us when it is received with the requisite dispositions

33 Q: What conditions are necessary to make a good Communion?

A: To make a good communion three conditions are necessary: (1) To be in the grace of God (2) To be fasting from midnight until the moment of Holy Communion; (3) To know what we are about to receive, and to approach Holy Communion devoutly.

**37 Q: Does he who goes to Communion in mortal sin receive Jesus Christ? **

A: He who goes to Communion in mortal sin receives Jesus Christ but not His grace; moreover, he commits a sacrilege and renders himself deserving of sentence of damnation.

[quote=ThomasAugustine]To be fasting from midnight until the moment of Holy Communion;
[/quote]

This is a doctrine and not a dogma.

From the Code of Canon Law :

Can. 919 §1. A person who is to receive the Most Holy Eucharist is to abstain for at least one hour before holy communion from any food and drink, except for only water and medicine.

[quote=Sarah Jane]This is a doctrine and not a dogma.

I am aware, and I think Rob is too, that the fast is an ecclessiastical precept subject to change. It just happened to be in the section I was cutting and pasting. Thanks for your clarification, though.

Jay Dyer
[/quote]

Yes, that bit about fasting threw me for a moment. But then I remembered that that aspect was probably what was normative at that time. But because that’s a whole other can of worms to open, I better not include that particular question if I present that catechism to my pastor. The others were great.

I definantly feel prepared, but if I were to want clarification on one more thing, it would be this:

Trent Session 7 Canon 6:
If any one saith, that the sacraments of the New Law do not contain the grace they signify; or,** that they do not confer that grace on those who do not place an obstacle thereunto**; as though they were merely outward signs of grace or justice received through faith… let him be anathema

Canon 7
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.

I think what is important here is what is not said - it is not said that (in canon 7) grace is given “even though they do not receive them rightly”. That’s pretty big!!

I think that here, and in Canon 8 “If anyone 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 - anathema.” One proposition being guarded against is the one given in the
WMCOF
LCQ 170 - How do they that worthily comminicate in the Lords supper feed upon the body and blood of Christ therein?
A. As the body and blood of Christ are not corporally or carnally present in, with, or under the bread and wine in the Lord’s supper (Acts 3:21), and yet are spiritually present to the faith of the receiver, …, they that worthily communicate … do therein feed upon the body and blood of Christ, not after a corporal and carnal, but in a spiritual manner.

So the Sacrament is what it is (ex opere operato), regardless of the righteousness or faith of the minister or the recepient, and the unworthy recipient does receive the sacrament, but only to his detrimental judgement, he should not have taken it, but it did not “un-transubstantiate” itself just for him.

Any help on those canons?

Rob

Canon 7, as I understand it, is anathematizing the Calvinistic view that only the elect recieve grace. The Catholic view makes a distinction between those predestined to grace and those predestined to glory. The non-elect can for any possible ammount of time be in a state of grace and recieve graces. However, they ultimately end up dying in a state of sin, and not having the gift of perseverance, they are damned (anyone who dies in a state of grace has the gift of perseverance). So, the canon seems to anathematize the reformed view that grace is only recieved by the elect in the sacraments, which is evidently false from Heb. 10:29, 2 Peter 1:9, etc.

 Thats why I really like St. Augustine's analogies for ex opere operato: like the Ark, the Philistines carried it away.  They *really *had the true Ark, but it worked condemnation in them.  In the same way, heretics really have the Scriptures, and its the true Scriptures, but they mangle them to their destruction as Tertullian says.  So, the wicked recieve valid sacraments, and grace is powertfully present, but its does not produce fruit in them.  Consequently, *ultimately *non-elect persons can be in a state of grace and fruitfully recieve the sacrament.  Saul was to all appearances faithful and elect for the first half of his life: God even changed his heart.  However, he totally apostatized and killed himself.  

Jay

I think thats why its says “as far as God’s part:” it’s referring to God’s action in the sacrament, and is anathematizing the idea that God does not always truly make the grace a reality in the sacraments (ie, ex opere operato).

Jay

For any of you that would care to know, especially you who contributed to this thread (thanks so much), I have followed this matter out, and it’s pretty settled in my mind.

So, like I told my pastor that I was ready to talk about it, and time went on and on, so I wrote him a compendium (is that right? you know what I mean) 8 pages of Catholic teaching, mainly from Trent and the Catechism of Trent, with some of Mediator Dei, and other various sources. I mailed it to him, and I think it was enough for him. I haven’t heard anything back from him about it, but thank you very much for aiding me in feeling confident about what you actually believe, what I am to believe if “?” I convert, and how to present it convincingly to a doubter.

Sincerely, Robert

[quote=Reformed Rob]For any of you that would care to know, especially you who contributed to this thread (thanks so much), I have followed this matter out, and it’s pretty settled in my mind.

So, like I told my pastor that I was ready to talk about it, and time went on and on, so I wrote him a compendium (is that right? you know what I mean) 8 pages of Catholic teaching, mainly from Trent and the Catechism of Trent, with some of Mediator Dei, and other various sources. I mailed it to him, and I think it was enough for him. I haven’t heard anything back from him about it, but thank you very much for aiding me in feeling confident about what you actually believe, what I am to believe if “?” I convert, and how to present it convincingly to a doubter.

Sincerely, Robert
[/quote]

Rob, God love ya! It has been a privilege to share your search to this point. The search never ends. Going back over this thread, I see some places where answers might have slightly misunderstood your questions, but not fatally. Stay tuned. Thank you for the update. Prayer ascending.

[quote=Reformed Rob]Yes, that bit about fasting threw me for a moment. But then I remembered that that aspect was probably what was normative at that time. But because that’s a whole other can of worms to open, I better not include that particular question if I present that catechism to my pastor. The others were great.

I definantly feel prepared, but if I were to want clarification on one more thing, it would be this:

Trent Session 7 Canon 6:
If any one saith, that the sacraments of the New Law do not contain the grace they signify; or,** that they do not confer that grace on those who do not place an obstacle thereunto**; as though they were merely outward signs of grace or justice received through faith… let him be anathema

Canon 7
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.

I think what is important here is what is not said - it is not said that (in canon 7) grace is given “even though they do not receive them rightly”. That’s pretty big!!

Any help on those canons?

Rob
[/quote]

OK, I’ll give it a try, but you guys seem to have things in control.
Regarding Canon 6:
Let’s restate it in plain english:

"If anyone says that the sacraments do not confer grace on a recipient who has not placed an obstacle to that grace, then they are wrong."
So to state it in the positive: sacraments DO confer grace on a recipient who has not placed an obstacle to the reception of that grace. Seems pretty straightforward and in alignment with comments already accepted by you in other posts. As an aside, it seems that this proclamation is aimed at denouncing the concept that you receive the sacraments simply as an “outward sign” of a SEPARATE grace ALREADY RECIEVED. A modern representation of this latter theology would be the Protestant concept of being “baptised” with water only as a “public demonstration”(not in order to recieve additional/separate grace) of having come to Christ.

OK, on to 7:

Again, in plain english:

“If anyone says that grace is not given by God through the sacraments always and to all who recieve them rightly, then they are wrong.”

Again, seems simply to be saying that when sacraments are properly observed, Grace is ALWAYS received. This is consistent with the concept of God being bound TO the sacraments ( but not necessarily bound BY them).The wording of the original canon seems somewhat ambiguous in how “even if they recieve them rightly” is added. I can imagine some today interpreting that improperly. However I think what is meant is: If anyone recieves the sacraments rightly, then God’s grace is ALWAYS recieved by that person. Again, God is bound to this by his own word. This does not, however, exclude him from giving the same grace to another person outside of the sacraments…

Hope this is helpful,

Phil

Hey, thanks Mercygate and Phil

Yep, I enjoy confronting these issues head on and gathering up things that I can keep in an organized form. No need to reinvent the wheel, but there’s a wheel, so roll with it, know what I mean?

Anyways, my Protestant hit points are nearing zero.

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