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Rev. Fr. Itaman conducting Mass

Theologically, the Church affirms that the sacraments act ex opere operato (literally it means “by the very fact of the action’s being performed”), i.e., by virtue of the saving work of Christ, accomplished once for all. It follows that “the sacrament is not wrought by the righteousness of either the celebrant or the recipient, but by the power of God.” (CC1128)

Man’s role:

However, like almost all of the gifts from Christ, they do depend on our reaction to them. Our reaction to them can determine their effects on us, at least to some degree. Nevertheless, the fruits of the sacraments also depend on the disposition of the one who receives them. Nonetheless, our “disposition,” which implies our state of grace and openness to grace, can affect the efficacy of the sacraments in us. This is not to say, though, that the sacraments are in any way made inherently less efficacious (CC1129). A recipient’s own lack of proper disposition to receive the grace conveyed can block the effectiveness of the sacrament in that person.

The right dispositions for Penance are:

  • To confess all our mortal sins as we know them.
  • To be sorry for them, and
  • To have the determination never to commit them or others again.

The right dispositions for the Holy Eucharist are:

  • To know what the Holy Eucharist is,
  •  To be in a state of grace,
  •  Except in special cases of sickness — to fast from midnight.
  • Faith: The sacraments presuppose faith and, through their words and ritual elements, are meant to nourish, strengthen, and give expression to faith.
  • Must have the right intention: By the right intention for the administration of the Sacraments, we mean that whoever administers a Sacrament must have the intention of doing what Christ intended when He instituted the Sacrament and what the Church intends when it administers the Sacrament.
  • Must use the right or proper matter and form: By the “matter” of the Sacraments, we mean the visible things, such as water, oil, bread, wine, etc., used for the Sacraments. By the “form,” we mean the words, such as “I baptize you,” “I confirm thee,” etc., used in giving or administering the Sacraments.
  • A validly ordained minister must carry out the actions in most of the sacraments.

Finally, we must be conscious of the fact that they are sacraments of faith. We need faith to receive the sacraments worthily and to live them out in the world.

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