Follow by Email

Monday, April 21, 2014

From the Summa

Thomas Aquinas makes more sense when I'm sick ... go figure!  I pulled out this little gem from the third section, question 82:

Article 3. Whether dispensing of this sacrament belongs to a priest alone?

Objection 1. It seems that the dispensing of this sacrament does not belong to apriest alone. For Christ's blood belongs to this sacrament no less than His body. But Christ's blood is dispensed by deacons: hence the blessed Lawrence said to the blessed Sixtus (Office of St. Lawrence, Resp. at Matins): "Try whether you have chosen a fit minister, to whom you have entrusted the dispensing of the Lord's blood." Therefore, with equal reason the dispensing of Christ's body does not belong to priests only.
Objection 2. Further, priests are the appointed ministers of the sacraments. But this sacrament is completed in the consecration of the matter, and not in the use, to which the dispensing belongs. Therefore it seems that it does not belong to apriest to dispense the Lord's body.
Objection 3. Further, Dionysius says (Eccl. Hier. iii, iv) that this sacrament, likechrism, has the power of perfecting. But it belongs, not to priests, but to bishops, to sign with the chrism. Therefore likewise, to dispense this sacrament belongs to the bishop and not to the priest.
On the contrary, It is written (De Consecr., dist. 12): "It has come to ourknowledge that some priests deliver the Lord's body to a layman or to a womanto carry it to the sick: The synod therefore forbids such presumption to continue; and let the priest himself communicate the sick."
I answer that, The dispensing of Christ's body belongs to the priest for three reasons. First, because, as was said above (Article 1), he consecrates as in theperson of Christ. But as Christ consecrated His body at the supper, so also He gave it to others to be partaken of by them. Accordingly, as the consecration ofChrist's body belongs to the priest, so likewise does the dispensing belong to him. Secondly, because the priest is the appointed intermediary between God and the people; hence as it belongs to him to offer the people's gifts to God, so it belongs to him to deliver consecrated gifts to the people. Thirdly, because out of reverence towards this sacrament, nothing touches it, but what is consecrated; hence the corporal and the chalice are consecrated, and likewise the priest'shands, for touching this sacrament. Hence it is not lawful for anyone else to touch it except from necessity, for instance, if it were to fall upon the ground, or else in some other case of urgency.
Reply to Objection 1. The deacon, as being nigh to the priestly order, has acertain share in the latter's duties, so that he may dispense the blood; but not the body, except in case of necessity, at the bidding of a bishop or of a priest. First of all, because Christ's blood is contained in a vessel, hence there is no need for it to be touched by the dispenser, as Christ's body is touched. Secondly, because the blood denotes the redemption derived by the people from Christ; hence it is that water is mixed with the blood, which water denotes the people. And becausedeacons are between priest and people, the dispensing of the blood is in the competency of deacons, rather than the dispensing of the body.
Reply to Objection 2. For the reason given above, it belongs to the same personto dispense and to consecrate this sacrament.
Reply to Objection 3. As the deacon, in a measure, shares in the priest's "power of enlightening" (Eccl. Hier. v), inasmuch as he dispenses the blood. so the priestshares in the "perfective dispensing" (Eccl. Hier. v) of the bishop, inasmuch as he dispenses this sacrament whereby man is perfected in himself by union withChrist. But other perfections whereby a man is perfected in relation to others, arereserved to the bishop.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Adult Faith Formation, Last Night

We just spent the last two months reading through, studying, and discussing Sacrosanctum Concilium; it seemed appropriate to spend some time away from the more scholarly pursuits. 

So I picked up a copy of Dominican Romanus Cessario's The Seven Last Words of Jesus.  I had planned to move through 2 or 3 last night, and finish up next week in anticipation of Good Friday.  Well, we only got halfway through the first word: "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do." 

We spent much time on forgiveness, sin, confession. I brought in imagery and themes from Sunday's Gospel (the raising of Lazarus) and Monday's Gospel (the forgiveness of the adulteress woman).   Forgiveness seems to be a topic that always brings up a lot of questions.  It is a topic people really desire to understand and know more about.  Luckily, I have much experience with forgiveness, and am finally at a point in my life where I am not constrained in talking about it.  My experiences with forgiving the man who sexually abused me and my struggle with forgiving myself seem to help people understand that forgiveness is possible.

But what has been most amazing is watching this group, and how they have grown and changed and slowly started on a steady path toward holiness.  It is beautiful.  The wisdom that comes from their mouths never ceases to amaze me.  They ask the most wonderful questions! 

May the Holy Spirit continue to work in their lives, as they grow in their faith.  And may I continue to be open to His promptings as I guide them - remembering always that it is not me, but God working through me.

(Oh, and the book is quite excellent as a meditation starter - or discussion starter!)