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CHICAGO STUDIES

also manifests the redemptive work of God in Jesus Christ as it is brought to men down through the centuries. The Church, too, has the characteristics of sacrament: it is the "fundamental sacrament." The familiar seven sacraments are symbolic actions of the Church in union with Christ. In these symbolic actions God's saving grace becomes visible and effective here and now for this particular community of men or this particular indivi路 dual. Christ, the primal sacrament, and the Church, the funda路 mental sacrament, brings God's saving grace in visible form to this community or individual in the celebration of the seven sacraments. HUMAN, PERSONAL, SOCIAL DIMENSIONS

In these developments we see an extension of meaning for the word "sacrament" to embrace, analogorusly, Christ and the Church as well as the seven rites with which we have custo路 marily associated the word. We see also the sacraments placed in the context of persons and community. The sacraments are actions of the risen Jesus, of the People of God as a society, and of particular Christians. Sacraments are signs or symbols not in the sense of things, hut rather in the sense of actions which may employ things. Even as actions, they are seen abstracted from the persons who perform them. They are symbolic actions of Jesus, of his Church, of particular men and women in this place at this time. Through these symbolic actions, Christ and the com路 munion of the faithful pray for God's redemptive grace for particular men and women, and they serve God in the bestowal of his grace in visible form; through these symbolic actions, men and women express their living faith and worship in response to God's bestowal of life in Christ. Human, personal, and social dimensions have been added to the sacraments which already have been situated in the dimensions of their entire liturgical rites, salvation history, and biblical meaning. We have come a long way from moral and canonical considerations of objective actions to be correctly performed, and a long way from metaphysical mechanics of how sacraments work!

Profile for Chicago Studies

Spring 1968  

Volume 7:1

Spring 1968  

Volume 7:1

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