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Document Details :
Title: Sacraments and the Ecclesial Meditation of Grace
Author(s): KELLEHER, Margaret Mary
Journal: Louvain Studies
Volume: 23 Issue: 2 Date: summer 1998
It is a Saturday night in April and members of St. Catherine’s parish have gathered for the Easter Vigil during which the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and eucharist will be celebrated. Vatican Council II presented sacraments as liturgical events and, in doing so, restored their ecclesial character. According to Sacrosanctum conciliumthe real nature of the church is manifested in the liturgy (2) and every liturgical celebration is an action of Christ and his Body, the church (7). These and similar statements led Yves Congar to suggest that the Council had retrieved the ancient tradition that the ecclesiais the subject of liturgical action. The purpose of the sacraments, as articulated by the Council is to sanctify persons, build up the Body of Christ, and give worship to God. They are presented as sacraments of faith which confer grace and effectively dispose the faithful to receive this grace. When one puts together the principle that the ecclesia, or assembly, is the acting subject of the liturgy and the principle that sacraments are liturgical actions which intend to confer grace, questions arise. How can one understand the assembly as acting subject in the sacraments? How is the assembly of St. Catherine’s engaged in the mediation of grace when the sacraments are celebrated this Easter night? This article will offer a response to these questions by exploring sacraments as the ecclesial ritual performance of collective subjects engaged in a process of mutual self mediation.