Two questions regarding institutionalized sacraments

A couple questions for clarification purposes:

1.) How can it be said Christ instituted Holy Matrimony as a sacrament when the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception pertains to Mary’s being conceived without sin under a holy union prior to the coming of Jesus into the world? It would seem that this union without sin was sacramental, especially if it resulted in a non-stained sinless person, namely Miriam, through the action (or actions ;)) of a pious couple (and God’s will of course).

2.) How can it be said Christ instituted Holy Orders when, as is stated in scripture, His priesthood is in the order of Melchizedek who is but vaguely mentioned in Genesis and referred to in the NT, and priests are in persona Christi, meaning they ought to be of this same order, unless there’s a misunderstanding here?

Thanks, and as usual,
Ciao for now.

“Natural marriage” has existed from the beginning. It is generally said that Jesus “raised it to the dignity of a sacrament.”

The Immaculate Conception was a special grace granted to Mary at her conception and has no relation to her parents’ holiness or the precise nature of their marriage (though we believe they were very holy indeed).

Likewise, priesthood in some form obviously existed in and before Jesus’ time, but Jesus created the new priesthood of His Church. It was “after the order of Melchizedek” (as opposed to being after the order of Aaron) because it did not require membership in a specific genealogical line.

Another thing to remember is that Jesus is God.

Which has an attribute of ‘is’ regardless of His creation of time or being in time.

Even with the above consideration, the Holy Orders institution can be pointed at through the instruction by Jesus on Earth.

The Matrimony point is as mentioned, the one Sacrament that was prior to Jesus on Earth.

If you want to think of it as stated above as ‘risen to the level of’, that’s ok.

But I’ve heard it explained as the one sacrament that wasn’t instituted by Christ on Earth because it has been from the beginning.

The Key is to remember Christ is outside of time as a person in the Trinity.

So Christ, as God outside of time, would be the source of the sacraments regardless of timing.

Exactly !
We have to remember the nature of the Trinity.
God has existed always, outside of time and space.
All His actions are eternal, everywhere. There is no ‘then and now’, no ‘here and there’.
That really opens up some incredible wonders for us… think about it next time you are at Holy Mass, at the Consecration we all become present at Calvary, at the moment of Jesus’ crucifixion, as He pours out His love for us. We should be on our faces !

Those are very good answers, but let me add the following to the explanation about the priesthood.

Many hold that Melchizedek was actually the eldest son of Noah, Shem. As such he would have the inheritance of his Father and would have passed the blessing of God on to Abram (later known as Abraham). If you read Hebrews and Genesis 14 you can get an understanding that Melchizedek is an eternal priest and the king of Salem (i.e. the King of Peace). Prior to the Exodus the father was the High Priest and would pass on his blessing (generally to the first born son) as a priest. It is speculated that Shem/Melchizedek received the blessing from his father Noah and imparted it on Abram as part of his oath and covenant with God. He also offers Abram bread and wine which prefigures Christ at the Last Supper.

So why does this matter? The Levitical priesthood had to make sacrifice; to kill thousands upon thousands of animals for atonement. Some point out that this goes back to the Golden Calf when the descendants of Levi killed those who worshiped the Golden Calf in atonement for the people sins. The new priesthood “after the order of Melchizedek” follows the pre-Egyptian model where the priesthood is passed from father to son and does not require continual blood sacrifice.

Christ is the High Priest from His Father and he conferred His blessing to the Apostles. Like Melchizedek he sealed the covenant with the signs of bread and wine. This new priesthood of the Apostles would not be required to offer continual blood sacrifices as Christ had offered the eternal sacrifice and sealed the covenant with his own blood.

All and all this points to a very different type of priesthood. It was not simple a matter of the law, but in how the priesthood functions.

Correct. This seems to show a certain absurdity with regards to Deuteronomy 23:2 since it is an act of God who makes one holy and not of the outward circumstances given through man.

Also, if we are to reference Christ as the second person of the Trinity and therefore have a referential superseding time, why not take it to the next level? If it was the Spirit who hovered over the waters, is it not all, all a sort of sacramental so long as it is not fallen in its use? This is off topic from the original question, but it seems that even man as man and a living image of God is appropriately deemed a walking sacrament, although this is probably heretical language since there are only seven acknowledged. If the body is the temple of the Lord as it is written in 1 Corinthians 3:16 - ** ***Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?*, doesn’t that sound like an inward grace with man’s given instrumental body as an outward sign?

Just a note:

The Church uses Psalm 110 in her ordination liturgy and uses the part of verse 4 which states, “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek," as a response.

(I don’t have the exact translation used.)

I don’t know that the translation is set in stone, but the one a have in the Roman Pontifical during investiture and anointing of the hands is:
Christ the Lord, a priest for ever,
according to the order of Melchizedek,
offered bread and wine.
I seem to remember that there is slightly different wording for the ICEL translation, but it was essentially the same.

If Holy Matrimony and Holy Orders are not sacraments, then why do all the ancient churches teach that they are?

Maybe you misunderstood the topic.

The question is not of whether these actions are sacraments, rather the inquiry is whether God did not ordain them to be elevated holy actions prior to incarnation, and if so, what moment in history. As has been noted by another poster, it is said that Christ as the Eternal Son is timeless and institution could be seen in this way, yet it has usually been posited that these institutions were historically implemented at the time of the incarnated Christ.

For instance, if Adam and Eve had preternatural gifts and the two were made one flesh, it seems they were blessed with what is called in this era a sacrament. For the one inquiring, it seems unbecoming that this elevated act into a sacrament ends in failure (divorce) at almost a 30% rate in the U.S.A according to ( or more so for the non-Universal Christians not in communion with the Holy See.

Re: sacraments:

Re: Melchisedech:

Beat ya to it.

Aside: for some of a particular disposition, it seems that the participation in the reception of sacraments, especially Eucharistic reception, is a good work.

did they answer your questions?

The language in the first article separates sacraments of the law of nature from that of the mosaic to the new age in Christ, so in that sense there is a lingual application of differentiation. The question is one of qualitative differentiation. It also states that some theologians (but no absolute authoritative definition) have said there were no sacraments prior to the fall, bringing into question the nature of the marriage of the first man and woman, or as mentioned earlier, it seems the very state of having those preternatural gifts, whatever grace that was involved, was superior to any sacrament by being in communion with God sans material signs.
Yet they still sinned. Hrm.

P.S. Thanks for the links though, as it reminds that there is an alternative to the usual encyclopedia page.

main point being, within the definition of sacrament

***a sacrament is an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace.

Just as the law had a beginning, so did the sacraments

Again, Jesus being the author of the sacraments, He is giving us through them, grace that we need. Without them, we are missing what He intended us to have. Example: If no priests were in an area for example. Those folks would not have access to the sacraments.

If we were swimming in grace, by God’s own design and benevolence, then there would be no need for Him to create the sacraments. God doesn’t do needless things.

He gave us sacraments because we need them.

The link I gave explains the why

:tiphat: my pleasure.

Maybe you are being confused by the 7 official Church Sacraments, and Sacramentality in general. :confused:

You are correct in observing that there are Sacramental graces/events/signs throughout the OT.

The only difficulty may be with Adam and Eve prior to the fall. However, with the OT in general, after the fall, we can see God’s work as Sacramental in nature everywhere. :slight_smile:

As far as the divorce rate is concerned; that has no bearing on the Sacramentality of Holy Matrimony any more than the traitor Judas has any bearing on the Divinity of Jesus.

A Church sacrament has been defined as an outward sign of an inward grace with the specificity of “instituted by Christ”. To say that the seven official Church sacraments were instituted by Christ begs the question when they were instituted, and if the Church is correct in its discernment of the limitations post-resurrection regarding outward signs of inward graces, she ought to be able to explain their moments of instantiation as well as moments of recognition and utilization by the Church in a concise manner. Not only this, but she should be able to explain whether there is a potential recognition of more, and if not, why the recognition is finalized and absolute.

If the divorce rate has no bearing on the sacrament, the question comes up about annulments. As it has been presented, they have been defined as the authoritative declaring upon a previous union as having not truly received – the ineffect of, if you will – the sacrament of marriage, i.e. the sacrament actually didn’t take place. This raises a serious question regarding the sacraments and man’s disposition (and reception), but of course you’re right: just because someone doesn’t have the proper disposition does not negate the actuality of the “institution” of a sacrament.

Thanks for the participation.

This was already answered in steve b’s links

If the divorce rate has no bearing on the sacrament, the question comes up about annulments. As it has been presented, they have been defined as the authoritative declaring upon a previous union as having not truly received – the ineffect of, if you will – the sacrament of marriage, i.e. the sacrament actually didn’t take place. This raises a serious question regarding the sacraments and man’s disposition (and reception), but of course you’re right: just because someone doesn’t have the proper disposition does not negate the actuality of the “institution” of a sacrament.

Thanks for the participation.

The divorce rate does not raise the question of annulments. That is just a difficulty of your own, which you answered for yourself! :wink:

To be holistic to the thread, I’ll quote rather than require spaghetti-perception

  • According to some writers Otto of Bamberg (1139), the Apostle of Pomerania, was the first who clearly adopted the number seven (see Tanquerey, “De sacr.”).

  • The Council of Trent solemnly defined that there are seven sacraments of the New Law (1545-1563)

  • :The mysteries received in this same Catholic Church of orthodox Christians, and the sacred ceremonies, are seven in number—just seven and* no more*" is quoted around 1576. This still doesn’t explain how this was ascertained authoritatively.

  • Also, it is postulated that some of the form/matter wasn’t instituted but was open to the Apostles to enact: Granting that Christ immediately instituted all the sacraments, it does not necessarily follow that personally He determined all the details of the sacred ceremony, prescribing minutely every iota relating to the matter and the form to be used, so it’s safe to say that the forms can be changed through time (for example an other oil besides olive can be used as per canon law, but one wonders then to what degree can the forms transform? That could be interesting as related to, e.g. the the non-contact forces of physics. That might sound a little strange, but one could envision the Church to be hyper-functional and overcoming particular material limitations but still activating the substantial seven sacraments in a mysterious manner accompanied by outward signs. :cool:

Unless I missed something, the article still doesn’t fully explain how the recognition of them was finalized, but that last point of the form of holy orders and anointing as being mutable does raise an interesting question regarding how many allowable “transmutations” of the form/matter or the outward signs can be used. In a sense, it would seem the Church has the right to say that this is indefinite and under the discretion of the Church as it sees fit with the time and age.

Sometimes what is solemnly defined at an ecumenical council, is NOT necessarily defining something new, but to stop arguing or speculating over a matter or matters that have been in place from the beginning… Trent was called because of all the errors that came from the Protestant revolt. Protestants argued over everything they could argue over in order to justify their revolt.


*]They argued over the sacraments and their number.
*]which called into question for them, validity of the sacraments also

*]they argued over the number of books of scripture
*]they argued over authority of the pope
*]they argued over theology

Their errors were legion.

This has already been posted

*]3.1 (1) Power of God
*]3.2 (2) Power of Christ
*]3.3 (3) Immediate or Mediate Institution
*]3.4 (4) What does Immediate Institution Imply? Power of the Church
*]3.5 (5) May we then say that Christ instituted some sacraments in an implicit state?

*]4.1 (1) Catholic Doctrine: Eastern and Western Churches
*]4.2 (2) Protestant Errors
*]4.3 (3) Division and Comparison of the Sacraments

Also refer to the following Q’s

Here are 2 questions for you in return.

*]What is the pillar and foundation of truth according to scripture?
*]After all avenues to solve a problem have been taken, where does scripture say to take your problem as the last option?

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