The sacraments will always be holy irrespective of the lives of the priest?

Can someone explain this to me and what passages are used in support or official teaching from the church… Thanks!

You ask for a scholarly answer, with citations. And that’s OK - this is a scholarly forum. Perhaps others will provide the citations you ask for.

But this is also a philosophical forum (and philosophy is the only means that we have to arrive at truth. Math is, in fact, philosophy).

So, if you will permit, I will offer a philosophical answer. How many priests are sinless? Only one, and his name is Jesus.

EVERY priest is a sinner. My own brother is a priest (Fr. Eric Filmer, of the Ask an Apologist forum), and I am quite sure he would agree.

So, what you are really asking is: Is ANY Sacrament valid? Because EVERY Sacrament is celebrated by a sinner (a priest who, like all of us, is a sinner).

If a sinner cannot celebrate a Sacrament, than NOBODY on earth can celebrate a Sacrament, because sinners are all that we’ve got.

So, how can a sinner offer (for example) Eucharist, a pure Sacrifice? Nobody could, unless he somehow acted (for a brief time) in the person of Jesus Christ (the only sinless priest who has ever lived).

The Catholic Church teaches that the Eucharist is a “re-presentation” of the Sacrifice of Calvary (not something new, but a continuation of something already offered). Such a “re-presentation” needs a priest - a person acting in the role (person) of the great High Priest, Jesus Christ.

Who is “worthy” to act in that role? Nobody! But who is “worthy” to receive the Eucharist? Nobody!

It’s not about worthiness. It’s about Jesus offering Himself to the world through all time, regardless of the worthiness of the minister.

It means that the Sacraments will always be the means of communicating grace even if the priest administering the Sacrament is living in sin.

Eg. If a priest living a sinful life administers the sacrament of Baptism, the one baptized is still cleansed of original and personal sin, and filled with sanctifying grace.
(Likewise for all the other sacraments that require a priest.)

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church
vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/_P4T.HTM#SK
1550 This presence of Christ in the minister is not to be understood as if the latter were preserved from all human weaknesses, the spirit of domination, error, even sin. the power of the Holy Spirit does not guarantee all acts of ministers in the same way. While this guarantee extends to the sacraments, so that even the minister’s sin cannot impede the fruit of grace, in many other acts the minister leaves human traces that are not always signs of fidelity to the Gospel and consequently can harm the apostolic fruitfulness of the Church.

vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/_P4Y.HTM#55
1584 Since it is ultimately Christ who acts and effects salvation through the ordained minister, the unworthiness of the latter does not prevent Christ from acting.76 St. Augustine states this forcefully:

[INDENT]As for the proud minister, he is to be ranked with the devil. Christ’s gift is not thereby profaned: what flows through him keeps its purity, and what passes through him remains dear and reaches the fertile earth… the spiritual power of the sacrament is indeed comparable to light: those to be enlightened receive it in its purity, and if it should pass through defiled beings, it is not itself defiled.77
[/INDENT]

From the Catechism:
**1584 Since it is ultimately Christ who acts and effects salvation through the ordained minister, the unworthiness of the latter does not prevent Christ from acting.76 St. Augustine states this forcefully:

As for the proud minister, he is to be ranked with the devil. Christ’s gift is not thereby profaned: what flows through him keeps its purity, and what passes through him remains dear and reaches the fertile earth. . . . The spiritual power of the sacrament is indeed comparable to light: those to be enlightened receive it in its purity, and if it should pass through defiled beings, it is not itself defiled.77
**
From Aquinas: Summa, III, 64:5 & 64:
newadvent.org/summa/4064.htm#article5

So even if one were receiving the sacraments from Pope Alexander VI (:eek:) they’d still be holy?:confused:

Amen and well said
Mary.

Teresa of Avila went to confession to a priest who had a mistress. Through the example of her holiness and guidance, he turned away from his sin.

God is good…for the sake of his flock He keeps his promises.

Of course, the holiness of the sacrament comes from God, not the minister.

One would think, however, they’d be just a bit tainted if received from a minister who was not exactly a paragon of virtue?:shrug: It is really difficult to wrap one’s head around some of this stuff:confused::shrug:

I’m sorry David, but no, philosophy is not the only means we have to arrive at the truth. Philosophy was only introduced into the Church in the tenth century.

When I open my eyes and see the sun, I don’t need philosophy to tell me the truth of the sun. God did not use philosophy when he gave me absolute certainty that he exists and is everything people claim about him.

I can introduce you to some monks who would look at you as if you had three heads if you told them that philosophy was the only way to arrive at the truth.

-Tim-

The idea that the Sacraments must be administered by a holy priest is a heresy called Donatism, which was fought against by St. Augustine and was condemned by the Church at the Council of Rome (AD 313) and the Council of Arles (AD 314) and was finally put to rest after the Council of Carthage (AD 419). Finally, the Council of Trent condemned the following proposition: “That grace is not conferred 'ex opere operato’ by the sacraments of the New Law.”

And I can introduce you to some historians who would look at you as if you had three heads for asserting that philosophy was introduced into the Church in the tenth century. Apparently, you’ve never heard of St. Augustine.

There is not a single minister of the sacraments who has ever been impeccable, i.e. without sin. God chose to use weak human vessels through which to proclaim His Word, minister His grace, and work out His plan of salvation for man.

In human terms, yes. If you knew a famous baker and hired him to bake you a cake, but he was roaring drunk when he baked it, you’d expect that it wouldn’t quite be his best work. Similarly, if you contracted out a remodeling job for your house, and the sub-contractor wasn’t up to the task, then the results would be sub-par.

Yet, God isn’t ‘sub-contracting’ the sacraments out to priests, nor are priests the ones who originate the sacraments. (Even in the Eucharist, the priest is calling down the Holy Spirit upon the species of bread and wine.) The sacraments – and the grace that proceeds from them – are gifts of God. No one can ‘taint’ God’s grace… :wink:

We can argue about whether Augustine was a theologian or not, but the point remains that philosophy is not the only way to come to knowledge of the the truth.

One does not need philosophy to know the objective efficacy of the sacraments apart from the holiness of the minister of those sacraments. One has only to open the Bible and accept it as revealed truth.

***Then said Jesus to the crowds and to his disciples, "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice. *(Matthew 23:1-3)

Jesus spoke about those who sit on the Chair of Moses exercising legitimate authority apart from their personal behavior. One does not need philosophy to know that their ministry is valid apart from their morality. Jesus had to rebuke Peter and even called him Satan, yet Peter exercised a legitimate ministry all through Acts of the Aplostles. One can simply read it and accept it.

It is very tiring to continue to be told that philosophy is the only way to understand our faith, or that philosophy is the entire basis for our faith, as I have heard several people claim. This simply isn’t the case. Monastic theology has nothing to do with philosophy; it is theology which predates the scholastic theology based on Aristotlean philosophy of Peter Abelard and St. Thomas Aquinas by 900 years. Monastic theology is what gave us our beautiful doctrines on Mary.

St. Augustine is my confirmation saint. I know about Augustine. His final moment of conversion came when he heard some girls singing a song about the Scriptures. He heard the little girls singing “take and read, take and read” and that was the final moment of his conversion. Philosophy isn’t needed. All one has to do is “take and read” and they can see that the sacraments are valid apart from the holiness of the minister.

-Tim-

I guess if someone wanted to get their mind mixed up, philosophy might be a great way to do it. :shrug::whacky:

Agreed.

One does not need philosophy to know the objective efficacy of the sacraments apart from the holiness of the minister of those sacraments.

Agreed – one needs theology! (And, of course, philosophy is the handmaiden of theology…! ;))

One has only to open the Bible and accept it as revealed truth.

Umm… ahh… no. At least, not in a Catholic construct. There are Protestant denominations out there that claim that the Scriptures interpret themselves, or that the Bible speaks plainly without the need of interpretation, but the Church has always asserted that the authoritative interpretation of the magisterium is necessary for an accurate understanding of God’s Word.

***Then said Jesus to the crowds and to his disciples, "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice. ***(Matthew 23:1-3)

Jesus spoke about those who sit on the Chair of Moses exercising legitimate authority apart from their personal behavior. One does not need philosophy to know that their ministry is valid apart from their morality.

And yet, you felt the need to interpret this Scripture passage for us. After all, Jesus’ words here aren’t directly a description of sacramental theology. The theological interpretation that you’ve provided is exactly that – not a simple exposition of ‘revealed truth’, but a theological interpretation of how that revealed truth might be applied to the sacraments. For such an interpretation, one needs a proper theological background… which includes an understanding of philosophy (at least, for the person making the claim, if not also for the person who merely repeats it)…!

Monastic theology has nothing to do with philosophy; it is theology which predates the scholastic theology based on Aristotlean philosophy of Peter Abelard and St. Thomas Aquinas by 900 years. Monastic theology is what gave us our beautiful doctrines on Mary.

“What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?”, indeed! :rolleyes:

And yet, Tertullian made this attempt to discredit the philosophical/theological basis of our understanding of God’s Word in the same timeframe as the monastic tradition was still nascent! What are the declarations and creeds of the Ecumenical Councils of the early Church if not theological expressions of our understanding of the faith? You’re pushing your point too far, I’m afraid. Is philosophy the only thing we need to understand the faith? Of course not. Yet, it is just as erroneous to suggest that “philosophy isn’t needed”… :wink:

Aristotle would be astonished to read you post.

Philosophy is a lot older than Christianity.

Well, actually, the Son of God existed from all Eternity!:wink:

I think you’re confusing yourself. No sinner can taint God. The sacrament is God’s grace. So no matter how vile a sinner the minister of the sacrament is, that minister has no power over God. Therefore, the sacrament is untainted (assuming it’s valid, of course).

What you’re implying is that somehow the minister’s sins are more powerful than God’s grace! :eek:

Give it some thought, and maybe some research! Best of luck! :thumbsup:

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