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60. Meaning of a Sacrament

1. The word sacrament, in itself, means something holy orsacred, or something which is related to what is holy or sacred.But in the sense in which we are now to use the word sacrament, itmeans, first of all, a sign which expresses in a sensible manner,some sacred thing which is outside the grasp and reach of thesenses.

2. A sacrament is a sign of some holy thing pertaining toman; that is, it is a sign of a thing in so far as this thingmakes men holy.

3. A sacrament is a sign that takes in past, present, andfuture in its signification, for: (a) it includes reference toman's sanctification in its cause, which is the Passion ofChrist; (b) it aids man's present holiness by giving grace andpromoting virtue; (c) it bears in itself the promise of eternallife to come.

4. Man acquires intellectual knowledge fromsense-knowledge. Therefore, sensible signs are aptly used tosignify spiritual things. A sacrament is a sign that the senses cangrasp; then the mind can read the intellectual and spiritualmeaning which the sign is meant to convey. A sacrament is always anouter or sensible sign.

5. The signs that are sacraments are not of man'schoosing. Since sacraments are for man's sanctification, theyare signs instituted and chosen by the Sanctifier of men, that is,our divine Lord.

6. A sign is not made a sacrament by any natural fitnessor power of its own. It is made a sacrament by authentic wordswhich give it spiritual meaning and power. Hence, wordsare necessary for constituting a sacrament.

7. Not any words that a man may choose, however apt andsuitable they may be, can constitute a sign as a sacrament. As thesigns themselves are divinely determined, so are the authenticwords which make these signs into sacraments.

8. Any words added or omitted so as to change theessential meaning of the determinate formula of words used for asacrament, would invalidate the sacrament itself.

"Shun too great a desire for knowledge, for in it there is much fretting and delusion. Intellectuals like to appear learned and to be called wise. Yet there are many things the knowledge of which does little or no good to the soul, and he who concerns himself about other things than those which lead to salvation is very unwise. "
Thomas á Kempis

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"To do God's will -- this was the goal upon which the saints constantly fixed their gaze. They were fully persuaded that in this consists the entire perfection of the soul. "
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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"God has no need of men."
St Philip Neri

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