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Friday, December 1, 2006

Christ's Wounded Side and the Sacraments

I came across a picture on-line of Christ on the cross which featured prominently His wounded side. I am always moved by such pictures because it is from His wounded side that we receive the sacraments, and in effect, salvation. Often times there are pictured angels holding chalices to collect the Precious Blood so that it may be given to men for their salvation. (Of the two pictures below, the first one is the one that spawned this blog, the second demonstrates the angels collecting Christ's sacred blood. How beautiful and formational was true Catholic art!)

In thinking about this, I thought I would post from St. Thomas Aquinas, theologian and doctor without equal, in his Summa Theologica entry on this topic. A good portion might be difficult to read, but I will "bold" the 'heart' of the article (pun intended). However, read the whole thing, for it is not incomprehensible if one reads it slowly, and perhaps even reads it as a meditation. For the sake of brevity, I have also excluded the objections and replies. This is, however, something that all Catholics should have the most basic, rudimentary understanding of. The sacraments are key to our salvation, and this is where the sacraments come from!

Questions and comments are indeed welcome and encouraged.

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Whether the sacraments of the New Law derive their power from Christ's Passion?Q.62, Art. 5

On the contrary, on Rm. 5:14: "After the similitude of the transgression of Adam," etc., the gloss says: "From the side of Christ asleep on the Cross flowed the sacraments which brought salvation to the Church." Consequently, it seems that the sacraments derive their power from Christ's Passion.

I answer that, As stated above (1) a sacrament in causing grace works after the manner of an instrument. Now an instrument is twofold. the one, separate, as a stick, for instance; the other, united, as a hand. Moreover, the separate instrument is moved by means of the united instrument, as a stick by the hand. Now the principal efficient cause of grace is God Himself, in comparison with Whom Christ's humanity is as a united instrument, whereas the sacrament is as a separate instrument. Consequently, the saving power must needs be derived by the sacraments from Christ's Godhead through His humanity.

Now sacramental grace seems to be ordained principally to two things: namely, to take away the defects consequent on past sins, in so far as they are transitory in act, but endure in guilt; and, further, to perfect the soul in things pertaining to Divine Worship in regard to the Christian Religion. But it is manifest from what has been stated above (48, 1,2,6; 49, 1,3) that Christ delivered us from our sins principally through His Passion, not only by way of efficiency and merit, but also by way of satisfaction. Likewise by His Passion He inaugurated the Rites of the Christian Religion by offering "Himself--an oblation and a sacrifice to God" (Ephesians 5:2). Wherefore it is manifest that the sacraments of the Church derive their power specially from Christ's Passion, the virtue of which is in a manner united to us by our receiving the sacraments. It was in sign of this that from the side of Christ hanging on the Cross there flowed water and blood, the former of which belongs to Baptism, the latter to the Eucharist, which are the principal sacraments.


But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
Isaiah 53:5

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.
1 Peter 1:18-20, 2:24

1 comment:

bethski said...

*tear* its so wonderful to see you spread your ministry!