Sacramentum Caritatis 16: Sacramentality

With this section, we begin an extended look at The Eucharist and the Sacraments. Pope Benedict devoted fourteen numbered sections to the Eucharist and the other six sacraments: how they relate and connect and support the life of faith in concert.

Earlier, we discussed the notion that the Eucharist makes the Church. Pope Benedict suggests the life-giving grace of Christ sustains our sacramental celebrations and observances.

The sacramentality of the Church

16. The Second Vatican Council recalled that “all the sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are directed towards it. For in the most blessed Eucharist is contained the entire spiritual wealth of the Church, namely Christ himself our Pasch and our living bread, who gives life to humanity through his flesh – that flesh which is given life and gives life by the Holy Spirit. Thus men and women are invited and led to offer themselves, their works and all creation in union with Christ.” (Presbyterorum Ordinis 5)

Two years after Sacrosanctum Concilium, a good quote for all of us to recall–not just priests who were the topic of this decree. Note that the baptized role as priest is recalled here: all Christians are urged to offer their entire lives to God, recognizing out unity with Christ and with one another.

The Church is a sacrament, we move from there:

This close relationship of the Eucharist with the other sacraments and the Christian life can be most fully understood when we contemplate the mystery of the Church herself as a sacrament. (Cf. Propositio 14) The Council in this regard stated that “the Church, in Christ, is a sacrament – a sign and instrument – of communion with God and of the unity of the entire human race.” (Lumen Gentium 1) To quote Saint Cyprian, as “a people made one by the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,” (De Orat. Dom., 23: PL 4, 553) she is the sacrament of trinitarian communion.

Again, Pope Benedict surfaces the Trinity. This is an important and constant theme we really do need to attend more carefully in the modern Church.

The fact that the Church is the “universal sacrament of salvation” (Lumen Gentium 48, cf. ibid. 9) shows how the sacramental economy ultimately determines the way that Christ, the one Savior, through the Spirit, reaches our lives in all their particularity. The Church receives and at the same time expresses what she herself is in the seven sacraments, thanks to which God’s grace concretely influences the lives of the faithful, so that their whole existence, redeemed by Christ, can become an act of worship pleasing to God.

Remember, this is a post-synod document, so Pope Benedict will offer some initiatives of thought from the attending bishops:

From this perspective, I would like here to draw attention to some elements brought up by the Synod Fathers which may help us to grasp the relationship of each of the sacraments to the eucharistic mystery.

This document is copyright © 2007 Dicastero per la Comunicazione – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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