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CHICAGO STUDIES

not come from books about the sacraments, whether the Bible, the writings of the Fathers, the treatises of classical theology, or even conciliar and papal documents. No, the liturgy itself is the primary source in which Christian faith expresses its understanding of the sacraments and- from which theology must draw. The other sources must be used to help us discern what the sacramental liturgy itself tells us about the sacraments.

A

MOMENT IN SALVATION HISTORY

When we turn from the written word about sacraments to the actual celebration of the sacraments in the liturgy, we discover that we are dealing with a moment in the life of man, specifically in the life of God's People, a people with a history like any other people. But the history of this people is unique, for it is the result of God's intervention in history to lead men to salvation and eternal life. The celebration of this sacrament today, baptism or the Eucharist for instance, is the latest moment in this divine intervention in history. God's intervention in history has a peculiar character. God not only intervenes in history to save man, but history itself, human experience interpreted in the light of certain funda¡ mental convictions and values, becomes the means God uses to lead men to eternal life. God speaks to men, calls them, directs them through the events which befall them as these events are interpreted by God's prophets and understood by faith. God's saving revelation folds itself gradually through the events and prophetic words which stretch through the cen¡ turies and reach their climax in Jesus, in whom revealing event and word coincide in one person, God's Son incarnate. God's revelation in Jesus Christ continues to be proclaimed and announced in the life of the Christian community, the Church, especially in the preaching of the Gospel and the celebration of the sacraments. The meaning of the sacramental symbols, then, is really an accumulation of meanings. The flowing of baptism, for example, is not simply a reasonable symbol for the sacrament of baptism because water washes away dirt even as baptism "washes away" original sin. This sort of symbolism is ap-

Profile for Chicago Studies

Spring 1968  

Volume 7:1

Spring 1968  

Volume 7:1

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