The Bible and the Liturgy

The Bible and the Liturgy

The Bible and the Liturgy

The Bible and the Liturgy

Excerpt

Theology defines the sacraments as "efficacious signs,"--this being the sense of the scholastic saying (significando causant). But, as things are today, our modern textbooks insist almost exclusively on the first term of this definition. We study the efficacious causality of the sacraments, but we pay very little attention to their nature as signs. It is, therefore, to this aspect of the sacraments in particular that the chapters of this book will be devoted. We shall study the significance of the sacramental rites, and, more generally, that of Christian worship. But the purpose of this study is not simply to satisfy our curiosity. This question of the sacraments as signs is of fundamental importance for pastoral liturgy. Because they are not understood, the rites of the sacraments often seem to the faithful to be artificial and sometimes even shocking. It is only by discovering their meaning that the value of these rites will once more be appreciated.

There was no such problem in the early Church, for the explanation of the sacramental rites held an important place in the very formation of the faithful. During Easter week, for example, explanations of the sacraments were given to the newly-baptized who had received their first Communion after their baptism during the Easter vigil. Etheria, who, at the end of the fourth century, attended the Easter celebrations at Jersusalem, describes the bishop as saying in his last Lenten sermon to the catechumens: "So that you may not think that anything that is done is without . . .

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