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CEREMONY

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not noticeably active in granting fellow human beings their civil rights, food to stave off starvation, or forgiveness for their failures and misdemeanors. Personal communication with Christ in reception of the sacraments implies some change for the better in men's lives. It may not call for a change in one's station in life (businessman, missionary, husband or wife, and so on), though this can happen. It certainly does call for recovery from neglect of one's Christian obligations or for the fulfillment of those duties in a purer spirit or unselfish, Christlike love and compassion. Continuing participation in the sacraments without some improvement in Christian living must lead to questioning the efficacy of the sacraments, not in themselves, but for these recipients who show no change in their lives. Schillebeeckx and Rahner point out that ex opere operata refers to the sacramental symbolic action as an objective, outward sign of Christ's saving will, or of God's promised eschatological grace, extended to particular men. The coming into being of this visible embodiment of grace for this particular community or individual is independent of the minister's moral dispositions and his intentions, other than his intention to do what the Church wills to be done. This visible embodiment of grace is also independent of the recipient's dispositions. If the minister does what the Church wishes, God's saving grace in Christ is visibly present in the sacramental action for the benefit of the recipient. But the actual effectiveness for the individual or community of this grace visibly present in the opus operatum, the actual bestowal and reception of this grace, does depend upon the individual's or community's faith and devotion. The grace does not come from the recipient's faith or devotion, but from the sacrament, the opus operatum, for the sacrament is God's grace present in visible form; yet the grace is received according to the measure of the recipient's faith and devotion. Nor do these dispositions of the recipient arise from his native powers without God's grace; that would be a semipelagian view. The recipient's faith and devotion arise freely from his

Profile for Chicago Studies

Spring 1968  

Volume 7:1

Spring 1968  

Volume 7:1

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