The Essential Catholic Handbook of the Sacraments

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Title: The Essential Catholic Handbook of the Sacraments

Author: Santa, Thomas., M
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A helpful guide and practical tool for understanding the Catholic sacramental tradition. Includes a dictionary of words, expressions, and key concepts that are useful in the study of sacramental theology, along with a selection of traditional and contemporary prayers.

Easy-to-use and referenced to the Rites of the Church, the Catechism, and the Roman Missal, this book is an indispensable resource for those who want a sound Catholic guide and reference resource for the sacraments of the Church.


Part One - Discovering the Sacraments

  • 1. Christ is Sacrament
    • The Catholic understanding of sacraments is rooted in the personal experiences and encounnters of the faithful with the person of Jesus. These encounters are experiences of normal, everyday people who witnessed the preaching of Jesus who interpreted this encounter as an "experience of God".
    • We celebrate the presence of Jesus in our observance of the sacred liturgies and rituals... However the primary experience experience of God is found in our encounter with Jesus through the sacramental life of the Church.
  • 2. Church as Sacrament
    • Just as people came to understand and appreciate that Jesus was a sign of the presence of God in the world, people also came to understand that the community of believers, the Church, was also a sign of God in the world.
  • 3. Seven Sacraments of the Church
    • Each sacrament, each sign of God's presence in our lives, has been traditionally understood as a ritualistic celebration of God's saving activity and encounter with the people of God.
  • 4. Sacraments are Necessary for Salvation
    • It is only through the sacraments that a person is united "in a living union with the only Son, the Savior (CCC 1129) and experiences "life for God in Christ Jesus (CCC 1134)
  • 5. A process Revelation and Discernment
    • Holy Scripture
    • Apostolic Traditions - Acts of the Apostles
    • Consensus of the Fathers
      • Tertullian (160-230 AD) introduced the term sacramentum to describe the rituals and practices
      • Cyprian, Theodore, John of Chrysostom and Augustion (354-430)
      • Second Council of Lyons in 1274 who declared that there are seven sacraments.
  • 6. The Sacraments as a Sign and Symbol
    • Signs of the old testament Covenant (CCC 1150) circumcision, anointing and consecration, laying on of hands, sacrafices
    • Signs used by Christ bread, wine
    • Signs of the Sacraments.
  • 7. Sacraments Celebrate a Lived Reality
    • In each of the sacramental encounters... is the desire, the openness, and the willingness of the people of God to encounter and enter into relationship with Jesus.
    • During the 12th and 13th centuries the theology developed to an understanding that the seven sacraments were not only sand experience of the grace of God, but in a very real sense, they "caused" God's grace to be given.
  • 8. Ex Opere Operato
    • ...the belief that all that was necessary for the sacraments to "cause the grace" to be transmitted was that they be performed correctly. That is the proper "matter" of the sacrament was present and the proper "form" of the sacrament was celebrated, the sacrament automatically and, in some unfortunate sense, "magically" accomplished what was needed for salvation.
    • This simple understanding of how the sacraments worked was never sanctioned or promoted by the "official" church.
    • This "automatic" concept spilled over into other areas of Church practice and devotion. e.g. indulgences.
  • 9. The Council of Trent 1545-1563
    • ...was the Catholic answer to Martin Luther and other reformers who had posted a seres of questions and concerns beginning on October 31 1517
    • addressed the churches understanding of the sacraments in general but it also addressed particular issues regarding each of the seven sacraments.
    • Standardized training, Sacramentaries, specific rubrics, and directions for the celebration.
  • 10. The Second Vatican Council
    • 1962-1965
    • Liturgical renewal
    • Biblical renewal
  • 11. Contemporary Sacramental Theology
    • Contemporary sacramental theology emphasizes four essential components which are necessary to a proper understanding and appreciation of the sacramental life of the Church.
    • Efficacious Signs of Grace (CCC 1131) The sacraments, instituted by Christ, are efficacious because it is in the sacrament that Christ is at work.
    • Celebrated by a Priestly Community (CCC 1132)
    • Formed by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God (CCC 1133)
  • 12. Sacraments as Experiences of Grace
    • Grace (charis) means the graciousness of God in turning the divine countenance to us. It is a sign of God's nearness, a word of love, which arouses in us an answering of love.
    • On our part, it is received with the awareness that it is and undeserved gift of God, and this awareness energizes us, teaches us, disciplines us, and gives orientation to our whole lives.
    • The sacraments are divine signs that provoke human initiatives of authentic love, true mercy and of new dimensions in personal relationships.

Part Two The Sacraments of Initiation


  • 8. The Rite of Christian Initiation
  • 9. The Rights and Obligations of the Baptized
  • The baptized are gifted with both the right and the obligation to offer the sacrifice that Christ offered: prayers, works, their very lives.
  • Baptism calls the baptized to a life that is rooted in grace and which is marked by the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity.

Other facts

  • Used for: RCIA Class
  • Purchased: March 2013

Bibliographic info

LC control no.: 2001029367
LCCN permalink:
Type of material: Book (Print, Microform, Electronic, etc.)
Personal name: Santa, Thomas M., 1952-
Main title: The essential Catholic handbook of the Sacraments : a summary of beliefs, rites, and prayers : [with a glossary of key terms] / [written and edited by Thomas M. Santa].
Edition: 1st ed.
Published/Created: Liguori, Mo. : Liguori, c2001.
Description: xvi, 284 p. ; 19 cm.
ISBN 0764807811 (pbk.)
Subjects: Catholic Church --Doctrines. Sacraments --Catholic Church.
Notes: Includes bibliographical references (p. 281-284).
Series: A Redemptorist pastoral publication
LC classification: BX2200 .S29 2001
Dewey class no.: 234/.16/08822