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CEREMONY

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to carry out certain functions in the Christian community. The baptized person's action is receiving compared to the priest's action of giving, but the baptized person's action is still action. Baptism itself is not only an act of the Church, ultimately of Christ and of God, incorporating a man into Christ and gracing him with the life of Christ; it is, for an adult, a man's personal profession of faith, a personal act visibly commiting himself to Christ. Holy Communion is not only a means of receiving God's grace. It is a public declaration of one's will to be united to Christ as victim, that is, totally dedicated to carrying out the Father's will. The sacraments are symbolic actions, not only of God's and Christ's grace-giving love for men, but of men's response of faith and love toward God. The sacramental symbolic action is a common action in which God-in-Christ meets man. The sacraments are personal encounters between God and man. To receive a sacrament in the state of serious sin, or without sorrow for sin in sacraments of penance and baptism, is a sacrilege, not because an unholy person handles a holy thing, but because one who is rejecting Christ and God in his heart goes through actions which express acceptance and welcome. Reception of a sacrament without proper dispositions is hypocrisy; it is the kiss of Judas. THE Woao OF Goo In personal exchange, bodily action is, of course, an es¡ sential element: we communicate with each other, more than we are normally aware, by the expression on our faces, the gestures we make, the disposition of our bodies. But the decisive factor in human communication is speech, the word. God has intervened in history for man's salvation not only in actions but especially with words, prophetic words which accompany and explain his actions. His supreme intervention is in Jesus Christ, wherein God's actions and words meet in the unity of one and the same person, his Son incarnate. Jesus. is the Sacrament¡of God and the Word of God. Sacrament and word are inseparable. Indeed, there is no sacrament without the word.

Profile for Chicago Studies

Spring 1968  

Volume 7:1

Spring 1968  

Volume 7:1

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