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292

Part Two

1126

Likewise, since the sacraments express and develop the com-

munion of faith in the Church, the

lex orandi

is one of the essential

criteria of the dialogue that seeks to restore the unity of Christians.

47

IV.

T

he

S

acraments of

S

alvation

1127

Celebrated worthily in faith, the sacraments confer the

grace that they signify.

48

They are

efficacious

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.

1128

This is the meaning of the Church’s affirmation

49

that the

sacraments act

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.”

50

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.

1129

The Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the

NewCovenant are

necessary for salvation.

51

“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

52

by uniting them in a living union with the only Son, the Savior.

V.

T

he

S

acraments of

E

ternal

L

ife

1130

The Church celebrates the mystery of her Lord “until he

comes,” when God will be “everything to everyone.”

53

Since the

47 Cf.

UR

2; 15.

48 Cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1605; DS 1606.

49 Cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1608.

50 St. Thomas Aquinas,

STh

III, 68, 8.

51 Cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1604.

52 Cf.

2 Pet

1:4.

53

1 Cor

11:26; 15:28.

815

1084

1105

696

1584

1257

2003

460