Lawrence Feingold: The Grace and Power of the Sacraments

Nov 14th, 2012 | By | Category: Blog Posts

On September 26 of this year, 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 the second lecture at the Association of Hebrew Catholics‘ Fall lecture series “Sacraments: From Old Covenant to the New.” His lecture was titled “The Grace and Power of the Sacraments.” A handout provided at the lecture 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. The previous lecture, titled “Why Do We Need Sacraments?” is available here

Eucharist (1911)
Viktor Vasnetsov

Lecture: The Grace and Power of the Sacraments

Sacraments as Instruments of Christ’s Humanity
The sacraments are signs that cause what they represent (1′)

What is an instrumental cause? (2′)
In what way are the sacraments instrumental causes? (2′)
How are the sacraments extensions of Christ’s humanity? (3′)
The difference between conjoined instruments and separated instruments (5′)

Why does the power of the sacraments not depend on the holiness of the minister? (7′)

John the Baptist shows this (10′)
The efficacy of Judas’ baptism (10′)

Sacraments Work ex Opere Operato

This is the basis for Ex Opere Operato (11′)
The fundamental elements of a sacrament: the essential words, the essential matter, the right minister, and the right subject (11′)
Explanation by St. Ambrose in his Sermons on the Sacraments (13′)

Do we always receive the same grace from each reception of the sacraments?(16′)

Everything is received according to the mode of the receiver. (17′)
On the resistibility of grace (18′)
Why the holiness of the minister is helpful. (21′)

Lawrence Feingold

The Sacraments of the Old Covenant Did Not Function ex Opere Operato

Why is the efficacy of the sacraments unique to the New Covenant? (23′)
Romans 4 and circumcision as a sign of his faith (25′)
Why the sacraments of the Old Covenant were not therefore useless. (28′)
How did the just pagans, e.g. Job, receive grace? (31′)

Protestant Rejection of the Doctrine that Sacraments Operate ex Opere Operato (32′)

Position of Calvin (34′)
Why does Calvin go wrong here? (35′)

The Three Levels of the Sacraments (36′)

The Sacramental Sign: Matter and Form of the Sacraments (42′)
Sacramental Character (46′)
Sacramental Grace (56′)


1. Can growth in the spiritual life be occurring despite feelings to the contrary? (1′)

2. Does the marriage of two unbaptized people produce a bond? (4′)

3. Are sacramental grace and actual grace interchangeable phrases? (6′)

4. If Jews are children of God and receive sanctifying grace on the occasion of their sacramental rites, how would you describe the difference with Catholic reception of sanctifying grace? (8′)

5. The Christian faith in the documents of the Catholic Church states that the Kingdom of Heaven was closed until the sacrifice or death of Christ. My question is where were Moses and Elijah for God to send them at the Transfiguration? (19′)

6. The rituals of the Torah are eternal, the Sabbath, the circumcision, the festivals, in this sense that the Old Testament says that this will be an eternal rite. How shall we understand that? (21′)

7. Is the difference between the Old Testament sacraments and the New Testament Sacraments the difference between hope longed for and hope realized? (23′)

8. Can a lay person act in the person of Christ administering sacraments such as matrimony or baptism? (26′)

9. Did the Jews of Jesus’ day experience that variation of disposition of grace, and thus that recognized Jesus as the Messiah and some who didn’t? (27′)

10. Are there any modern Padre Pios or Cur√©s of Ars types of people in America? (28′)

11. [How does the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost relate to the sacraments?] (29′)


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  1. […] divine life,¬†ordinarily flows into our lives though the seven sacraments of the Body of Christ. A sacrament is a visible sign instituted by God to give grace. The Church itself can be thought of as the […]

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