Likewise, since the sacraments express and develop the com-
munion of faith in the Church, the
is one of the essential
criteria of the dialogue that seeks to restore the unity of Christians.
Celebrated worthily in faith, the sacraments confer the
grace that they signify.
because in themChrist
himself is at work: it is he who baptizes, he who acts in his
sacraments in order to communicate the grace that each sacrament
signifies. The Father always hears the prayer of his Son’s Church
which, in the epiclesis of each sacrament, expresses her faith in the
power of the Spirit. As fire transforms into itself everything it
touches, so the Holy Spirit transforms into the divine life whatever
is subjected to his power.
This is the meaning of the Church’s affirmation
ex opere operato
(literally: “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.”
From the moment that a
sacrament is celebrated in accordance with the intention of the
Church, the power of Christ and his Spirit acts in and through it,
independently of the personal holiness of the minister. Neverthe-
less, the fruits of the sacraments also depend on the disposition of
the one who receives them.
The Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the
necessary for salvation.
“Sacramental grace” is the
graceof theHolySpirit, givenbyChrist andproper toeach sacrament.
The Spirit heals and transforms thosewho receive himby conforming
them to the Son of God. The fruit of the sacramental life is that the
Spirit of adoption makes the faithful partakers in the divine nature
by uniting them in a living union with the only Son, the Savior.
The Church celebrates the mystery of her Lord “until he
comes,” when God will be “everything to everyone.”
48 Cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1605; DS 1606.
49 Cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1608.
50 St. Thomas Aquinas,
III, 68, 8.
51 Cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1604.