Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Lent XIII

In hierarchical actions we must consider the agents, the recipients and the actions. The agents are the ministers of the Church; and to these the sacrament of order belongs. The recipients are those who approach the sacraments: and these are brought into being by Matrimony. The actions are "cleansing," "enlightening," and "perfecting." Mere cleansing, however, cannot be a sacrament of the New Law, which confers grace: yet it belongs to certain sacramentals, i.e. catechism and exorcism. But cleansing coupled with enlightening, according to Dionysius, belongs to Baptism; and, for him who falls back into sin, they belong secondarily to Penance and Extreme Unction. And perfecting, as regards power, which is, as it were, a formal perfection, belongs to Confirmation: while, as regards the attainment of the end, it belongs to the Eucharist.

[St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae III.65.1 ad 3. The references are to the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. Illumination (Enlightening) is, of course, the Eastern name for Baptism. The Dionysian doesn't consider the list of seven, but this is a clever way to fit all seven into what he does say about the sacraments.]

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