Lawrence Feingold: Why Do We Need Sacraments?Sep 26th, 2012 | By Bryan Cross | Category: Blog Posts
Last week the Association of Hebrew Catholics resumed its regular lecture series. The title of this Fall’s series of lecture is “Sacraments: From the Old Covenant to the New.” On September 19, Dr. Lawrence Feingold, Associate Professor of Philosophy & Theology at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri, and author of The Natural Desire to See God According to St. Thomas and his Interpreters and the three volume series The Mystery of Israel and the Church gave a lecture titled “Why Do We Need the Sacraments.” There was a handout provided at the lecture, and this handout is available as a pdf file here. The audio recordings of the lecture and of the following Q&A session, along with an outline of the lecture and a list of the questions asked during the Q&A are available below. The mp3s can be downloaded here.
Lecture: Why Do We Need the Sacraments?
What is the Liturgy? Public Worship of the Body of Christ, Head and Members (1′)
The difference between private prayer, collective prayer, and public prayer (3′)
The prayer of the Church is the prayer of the whole mystical Body, Head and members. (4′)
Pope Pius XII’s encyclical on liturgy: Mediator Dei: (5′)
The divine Redeemer has so willed it that the priestly life begun with the supplication and sacrifice of His mortal body should continue without intermission down the ages in His Mystical Body which is the Church. That is why He established a visible priesthood to offer everywhere the clean oblation which would enable men from East to West, freed from the shackles of sin, to offer God that unconstrained and voluntary homage which their conscience dictates. In obedience, therefore, to her Founder’s behest, the Church prolongs the priestly mission of Jesus Christ mainly by means of the sacred liturgy. (2-3)
Second Vatican Council makes this same teaching in Sacrosanctum concilium 7-8. (6′)
Rightly, then, the liturgy is considered as an exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ. In the liturgy the sanctification of the man is signified by signs perceptible to the senses, and is effected in a way which corresponds with each of these signs; in the liturgy the whole public worship is performed by the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the Head and His members.
From this it follows that every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the priest and of His Body which is the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others; no other action of the Church can equal its efficacy by the same title and to the same degree.
In the earthly liturgy we take part in a foretaste of that heavenly liturgy which is celebrated in the holy city of Jerusalem toward which we journey as pilgrims, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, a minister of the holies and of the true tabernacle; we sing a hymn to the Lord’s glory with all the warriors of the heavenly army.
In his General Audience on Wednesday, September 26, 2012, Pope Benedict spoke on this very subject of the nature of liturgy:
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Having focused for several weeks now on prayer as taught to us in the sacred Scriptures, we turn to another precious source of prayer, namely the liturgy. The word “liturgy” in Greek means “work done by the people and for the people”. Here, this “people” is the new People of God, brought into being by Christ, a people which does not exist by itself and which is not bound by blood, territory or country, but is brought into being through the Paschal Mystery.
The liturgy is also the “work of God”. As the Second Vatican Council teaches, it is by means of the liturgy that Christ our Redeemer and High Priest continues the work of our redemption in, with, and through his Church. This is the great marvel of the liturgy: God acts, while we are caught up in his action.
The Council began its work by discussing the liturgy, and rightly so, for the liturgy reminds us of the primacy of God. The fundamental criterion for it is its orientation towards the Father, whose saving love culminates in the death and resurrection of his Son. It is in the liturgy that we “lift up our hearts”, opening ourselves to the word of God as we gather with our brethren in a prayer which rises within us, and which is directed to the Father, through the Son, in the Spirit. (source)
Liturgy is not only the sacraments; it includes the Divine Office (9′)
Definition of Sacrament (9′)
Sacred signs (10′)
Represents grace, by which we’re given a share in God’s own Life (11′)
Instituted by Christ (11′)
They don’t just represent grace; they communicate what they represent (12′)
Sacraments of the Old Covenant (13′)
How they differ from sacraments of the New Covenant (15′)
John Calvin’s definition of the sacraments (17′)
Catholic Catechism’s description of the sacraments (19′)
“masterworks of God” — both heal and elevate
The sacraments correspond to our human nature as spirit and matter (21′)
Twofold movement (dual direction) of the sacraments (22′)
Three Temporal Aspects of the Sacraments and the Liturgy (24′)
The relation of the sacraments to time and eternity.
Christ Instituted the Sacraments (27′)
How Christ instituted each of the seven sacraments.
Why is it important that Christ instituted the sacraments? Why couldn’t the Church institute any of the sacraments? (30′)
Four reasons. (see the handout)
(a) the sacraments extend Christ’s humanity
(b) the sacraments are give the divine life (33′)
(c) the sacraments give the Holy Spirit in different ways (37′)
(d) the sacraments give rise to the Church (38′)
Why Did Christ Institute a Sacramental Economy Using Sensible Signs? (38′)
Why not just give us all grace invisibly, directly, and not through sacraments?
The errors of materialism and angelism (40′-41′)
Israel was sanctified by visible signs (41′-42′)
The sacraments mirror Christ’s two natures (42′-43′)
The sacraments make the Church visible (44′)
The sacraments provide the remedy where the wound is (45′)
Humbling: Example of Naaman (46′)
Fittingness of the Seven Sacraments and Their Harmony (47′)
Why seven? Why not just two?
Explains the purpose of each of the seven sacraments (47′ – 52′)
Council of Florence (52′)
The relation of the seven sacraments and the seven fundamental virtues (52′)
The Seven Sacraments and the Holiness of the Church (55′)
How the Church is made holy through each of the seven sacraments. (55′ – 58′)
Why Can Some Sacraments Be Repeated and Others Not? (58′)
Hierarchy of the Sacramental Economy (59′)
The hierarchy of the seven sacraments.
1. If we touch or receive the sacred humanity of Christ in the sacraments, then does the power of the Holy Spirit add to the graces that come from the humanity of Christ? (1′)
2. Do you think that the Protestant understanding of grace by imputation causes them to see no need or place for confirmation, penance, etc. the other five sacraments that they do not recognize. (4′)
3. If grace was given in the Old Testament sacraments, how was forgiveness given in the Old Testament sacraments? (8′)
4. How is the grace given in the Old Testament sacraments different from the inner sanctification communicating the actual life of Christ in the New Testament sacraments? Is the grace of the Old and New Testament sacraments simply the strength to persevere in holiness? (10′)
5. Was grace given only to the people who believed in the God of Israel? (14′)
6. What do we mean when we say that Christ descended into hell? (18′) (See The Harrowing of Hell.”)
7. Should a serious Catholic perform a conditional baptism on all persons who are dying, for example, in a hospital situation or at the scene of an accident, when the dying person’s religious history is unknown? (23′)