Sacramental Theology: Means of Grace, Ways of Life

Sacramental Theology: Means of Grace, Ways of Life


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780829417210
Publisher: Loyola Press
Publication date: 07/01/2001
Series: Catholic Basics: A Pastoral Ministry Series
Edition description: REV
Pages: 176
Sales rank: 597,451
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Rev. Kurt Stasiak, O.S.B., is a monk and priest of Saint Meinrad Archabbey, St. Meinrad, Indiana.  He is associate professor sacramental-liturgical theology at Saint Meinrad School of Theology and serves as the seminary's director of spiritual formation.  Fr. Kurt received his S. T. D. from the Pontifical University of Saint Anselm, Rome, in 1993.  In addition to his work in priesly formation and education, he is interested in the theological education of permanent deacons.  His publications include two books: Return to Grace--A Theology for Infant Baptism, published by Liturgical Press, and A Confessor's Handbook, published by Paulist Press.  

Read an Excerpt

Sacramental Theology

Means of Grace, Way of Life
By Kurt Stasiak

Loyola Press

Copyright © 2001 Kurt Stasiak
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780829417210

About the Series

Catholic Basics: A Pastoral Ministry Series offers an in-depth yet accessible understanding of the fundamentals of the Catholic faith for adults, both those preparing for lay ministry and those interested in the topics for their own personal growth. The series helps readers explore the Catholic tradition and apply what they have learned to their lives and ministry situations. Each title offers a reliable introduction to a specific topic and provides a foundational understanding of the concepts.
Each book in the series presents a Catholic understanding of its topic as found in Scripture and the teachings of the Church. Each of the authors has paid special attention to the documents of the Second Vatican Council and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, so that further learning can be guided by these core resources.
Chapters conclude with study questions that may be used for small group review or for individual reflection. Additionally, suggestions for further reading offer dependable guides for extra study.
The initiative of the National Conference of Catechetical Leadership led to the development of an earlier version of this series. The indispensable contribution of the series editor, Dr. Thomas Walters, helped ensure that the concepts and ideas presented here are easily accessible to a wide audience.
Certification Standards: National Resources for Church Ministry

Each book in this theology series relates to standards for theological competency identified in the resources listed below. Three national church ministry organizations provide standards for certification programs that serve their respective ministries. The standards were developed in collaboration with the United States Catholic Conference Commission on Certification and Accreditation. The fourth resource is the latest document, developed to identify common goals of the three sets of standards.
Competency Based Certification Standards for Pastoral Ministers, Pastoral Associates and Parish Life Coordinators. Chicago: National Association for Lay Ministry, Inc. (NALM), 1994.
These standards address three roles found in pastoral ministry settings in the United States. They were the earliest to receive approval from the United States Catholic Conference Commission on Certification and Accreditation. Copies are available from the National Association for Lay Ministry, 5420 S. Cornell, Chicago, IL 60615-5604.
National Certification Standards for Professional Parish Directors of Religious Education. Washington, DC: National Conference for Catechetical Leadership, 1998.
NCCL developed standards to foster appropriate initial education and formation, as well as continuing personal and professional development, of those who serve as directors of religious education (DREs). The standards address various areas of knowledge and abilities needed in the personal, theological, and professional aspects of the ministry. Also included is a code of ethics for professional catechetical leaders. Available from the National Conference of Catechetical Leadership, 3021 Fourth Street NE, Washington, DC 20017-1102.
NFCYM Competency-Based Standards for the Coordinator of Youth Ministry. Washington, DC: National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry, 1996.
This document lays out the wide range of knowledge and skills that support ministry with young people, as well as the successful leadership and organization of youth ministry wherever it may be situated. The standards are available from the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry, 415 Michigan Avenue NE, Suite 40, Washington, DC  20017-1518.
Merkt, Joseph T., ed. Common Formation Goals for Ministry. A joint publication of NALM, NFCYM, and NCCL, 2000.
Rev. Joseph Merkt compared the documentation of standards cited by three national organizations serving pastoral, youth, and catechetical ministries. The resulting statement of common goals identifies common ground for those who prepare persons for ministry, as well as for the many who wear multiple hats. Copies are available from NALM, NCCL, or NFCYM.

“Actions speak louder than words.” This timeworn cliché may seem a strange way to introduce a study on liturgy and the sacraments. Tired as the saying may seem, however, its message is true—and is most apt to the subject of this book.
Actions speak louder than words. The sacraments are among the most important ways Catholic Christians practice—among the most important ways we act out—what it is we believe. The Catholic faith is a discipline of doctrines and dogmas, a religion of teachings and precepts. Most of all, however, our Catholic faith is a way of life that constantly calls us to put into practice what it is we profess in our creed. What we as Catholics believe in our minds is supposed to guide how we act in the world.
Actions speak louder than words. The late German theologian, Hans Urs von Balthasar, once offered the religious equivalent of this cliché. He suggested that it is not so important that the value of Christianity be seen in itself, but that it is absolutely crucial that Christianity’s value be seen in us. In other words, if the world wants to know what we believe as Christians, it should be able to learn that simply by observing us as we go about the ordinary business of our lives. Ultimately, the most effective homilies on the Gospels are given not by the priest in church, but by those Christians who preach day in and day out by living in the world what they, in church, say they believe.
Actions speak louder than words. For Catholics, the liturgy and the sacraments are actions that speak particularly loud and clear. The sacraments are visible words, as Saint Augustine wrote in the fifth century: they are words we can see and touch, words we can act out—words we must act upon. The sacraments are not rituals we perform when we go to church. Rather, they are sacred actions that we do because we are Church. And what we do in a church building misses the mark
if it does not influence—orient, guide, challenge, and support—what we do with our lives in the world.
The Goal and Focus of This Book
This book is an introduction to the history, theology, and pastoral practice of the Church’s liturgy and her sacraments. It is intended particularly for those who have not had the opportunity to engage in a formal, systematic program of theological study and reflection. This book provides many facts about the Church’s ritual celebrations. More important than presenting facts, however, this book tries to help readers better understand how the Church thinks about her sacraments—and why.
The Council of Trent declared that there were seven sacraments, but conceded that not all were of equal value in the work of our salvation. This book reflects these “inequalities.” The primary emphasis is on the liturgy and the sacraments in general: on those thoughts and principles that apply to the Church’s
whole sacramental economy. Baptism and Eucharist, the two pre-eminent sacramental actions of our Church, each merit a separate chapter. The remaining five sacraments are dealt with according to the professional involvement pastoral ministers ordinarily have or can expect to have with them.
The Structure of This Book
Chapter 1 covers two fundamental principles of the liturgy and the sacraments: that the liturgy is understood as the work of the Church and the work of God. The next three chapters delve into some of the more important Church teachings on the sacraments, using the traditional definition of the sacraments as “visible signs instituted by Christ to give grace” as a guide.
Chapter 2 examines the sacraments as visible signs, and chapter 3 explores what the Church teaches about the sacraments conferring the gift of grace. Chapter 4 discusses the institution of the sacraments by Christ, offers a brief history of the early development of each of the seven sacraments, and provides an overview of how the Church has thought about and approached the sacraments throughout her history.
Chapter 5 deals with Baptism, the first sacrament Christians celebrate—indeed, the sacramental action of the Church that makes us Christian and Catholic. Both adult and infant Baptism are discussed: these two expressions of the one sacrament are unique enough that they deserve a separate, though certainly related, consideration. Since Baptism is our “first sacrament,” a better understanding of it can only enhance our understanding and appreciation of the sacraments we subsequently receive.
Chapter 6 outlines the history and theology of the Eucharist, what Lumen Gentium (LG), the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, has described as “the source and summit of the Christian life” (#11). Chapter 7 offers a brief discussion of the remaining five sacraments of our Church, with special emphasis—theological and pastoral—on the sacraments of Reconciliation and Confirmation.
How to Use This Book
This book does not stand by itself, and should not be thought of as an exhaustive study of either the history or theology of the liturgy and the sacraments. It is an introduction to the study of the sacraments—a first book, a primer—for those committed to further study and reflection. Therefore, appropriate and necessary companions to this book include resources such as the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) and the documents of the Second Vatican Council. The reader is encouraged to delve into other works that address the history and theology of the sacraments in greater depth. (One example is Joseph Martos’s Doors to the Sacred: A Historical Introduction to Sacraments in the Catholic Church, referred to in this text and cited in the bibliography.)
I have incorporated several features into this book in an effort to make it as helpful and reader-friendly as possible. Each chapter, for example, begins with the listing of several “Key Questions” designed to provide a preview of what lies ahead, and to help readers focus their attention on the more important points that will be discussed. Following these opening questions are several points under the heading “As We Begin.” These are short statements of fact—often historical notes—that quickly give readers background information pertaining to the discussion that follows. A “Summary” and questions “For Reflection” conclude each chapter, assisting readers in mastering and, more importantly, applying the sacramental concepts and principles that have been discussed.
Appendix I provides a wealth of useful information in the form of three charts. Appendix II supplements our discussion of the sacrament of Baptism in chapter 4, by offering a short essay on a particular theological model for understanding the significance of that sacrament.
Finally, while we need know neither technical language nor Latin to celebrate the sacraments worthily, as is the case with any field, sacramental theology has its own expressions, definitions, and heroes. A glossary offers additional information about the more important concepts and people.
Actions speak louder than words. The value of Christianity, ultimately, must be seen in us. The sacraments are visible words that lead us to the treasures of our life in Christ. That these treasures are sometimes subtle, sometimes ordinary—even sometimes hidden—does not belie their importance to our lives as individual Christians and to the life of our Church. The ultimate aim of this book is to suggest the value of these treasures, and to provide some tools to locate and unearth them.
I dedicate this book to my parents, Joe and Suzanne. They were my first teachers in the faith, my first “directors of religious education.” And, because actions do speak louder than words, they were often the best.


Excerpted from Sacramental Theology by Kurt Stasiak Copyright © 2001 by Kurt Stasiak. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

About the Series viii
Certification Standards:
National Resources for Church Ministry ix
Introduction xi

Chapter 1: Liturgy
: Some First Thoughts 1
Liturgy Is the Work of the People 3
Liturgy Is the Work of All the Faithful 5
Liturgy Is the Work of the Trinity 7
Liturgy Is an Encounter with God and with the Church 11
Summary 12
For Reflection 12

Chapter 2: The Sacraments: The Church’s “Visible Words”
What Are the Sacraments? 16
The Sacraments Are of and for the Church—
Not Only in the Church 17
The Power of Sacramental Words and Symbols 26
Summary 27
For Reflection 28

Chapter 3: The Sacraments and Grace: Discovering Hidden Treasures
What Is Grace? 31
The Sacraments Confer Grace 33
The Sacraments Confer Ex Opere Operato. Ex Opere Operato? 38
A Sacrament Is an Encounter with
Christ—and with Christ’s Church 41
Summary 43
For Reflection 45

Chapter 4:    The Sacraments and Their History:The Changing Ways and Means of Expressing Eternal Truth
s    46
How Many Sacraments Are There? 48
A Brief History of the Sacraments 50
From Recognition to Ratification:
And Then There Were Seven 61
An Overview of the “Attitude” of Sacramental Theology 64
Summary 70
For Reflection 71

Chapter 5: The Sacrament of Baptism: The Gateway to Life in the Spirit 72
Baptism Is the Door to Life in the Spirit 74
The Baptism of Adults in the Postconciliar Church 78
The Baptism of Infants in the Postconciliar Church 82
Adult Baptism and Infant Baptism 86
Summary 89
For Reflection 89

Chapter 6: The Eucharist: Source and Summit of Ecclesial Life
The Eucharist: Sacrament of “Perfection” 93
The Eucharist in Practice: Cult and Controversy 96
Eucharistic Adoration and Devotion 101
Summary 104
For Reflection 105

Chapter 7: Exploring More Hidden Treasures
The Sacrament of Reconciliation 108
The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick 115
The Sacrament of Matrimony 119
The Sacrament of Holy Orders 121
The Sacrament of Confirmation 123
Summary 128
For Reflection 130

Conclusion 131
Appendix I 134
Appendix II 140
Glossary and Biographical References 144
Abbreviations 149
Bibliography 150
Acknowledgments 153
About the Author 154

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