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Sacrament: Christian Sacraments

SACRAMENT: CHRISTIAN SACRAMENTS

In the Christian community sacraments are acts of worship that are understood by the worshipers to give access to an intimate union with the divine and to be efficacious for salvation. The term sacraments is sometimes used in a very broad sense for places, persons, things, ceremonies, and events that mediate, or are intended to mediate, the presence and power of the divine. In this broad sense, Christians acknowledge sacraments in other religious traditions and also in the particular circumstances of the lives of individuals and groups. A simple illustrative story in the Hebrew scriptures (the Old Testament of Christians) is that of Jacob setting up a stone in the desert and calling the place Bethel, house of God (Gn. 28:1022).

More usually the term sacraments refers to a limited number of ancient rituals understood to be the acts of Jesus Christ carried out through the continuing ministry of the church. The Eastern Christian and Roman Catholic churches enumerate these rituals as seven: baptism, confirmation (or chrismation), eucharist, penance (sacrament of reconciliation), matrimony, ordination (or holy orders), and the anointing of the sick (extreme unction). Protestant churches usually enumerate the sacraments (in the narrower sense of the term) as only two, namely, baptism and eucharist, because these two are clearly identified in the New Testament.

The word sacrament derives from Latin sacramentum, meaning "oath," "pledge," or "bond." As a Christian term applied to rituals of worship, it is found no earlier than the third century, when it came into use in Western churches as a translation of the Greek term mustērion, which had the religious connotation of effecting union with the divine, even before Christians used the term in that sense. When the word sacrament is used in the singular without contextual specification, it may be assumed to mean the Eucharist.

Jewish Roots

At the time of Jesus of Nazareth the people of Israel, the Jewish community, enjoyed a rich accumulation of symbolism and ritual. Jesus and his early followers participated in that heritage and followed the observances. Characteristically, Christian rituals were shaped not only out of the immediate experience of the early Christian community but also out of the stories, imagery, and ritual observances of their Jewish tradition. This influence can be seen in Christian perceptions of sacred space and sacred time, and it also appears in the configuration of sacred actions.

The core of the Christian sacramental system is the Eucharist, also known as the Divine Liturgy, the Lord's Supper, the Communion service, and the Mass. The ritual is based directly on the table grace of Jewish observance as solemnized in the Passover Seder. There are several common elements: the community is gathered to respond to God's call and to fulfill a commandment; the gathering is at a ritual meal at which prescribed foods are blessed, shared, and consumed; the accompanying prayers and ceremonies ritually reenact a past saving event so that the present worshipers become part of that past event and it becomes present in their experience; the doing of this anticipates a fulfillment that still lies in the future; the ritual (though not it alone) constitutes the participants as God's holy people. In the Jewish understanding and also in the Christian, the ritual is not effective in isolation from the community's daily life; on the contrary, it is effective precisely in its reshaping of the imagination and sense of identity of the worshipers, bringing about a transformation of individual and social life.

Other sacramental rites that have clear antecedents in Jewish observances are baptism in water as a ritual of spiritual regeneration, the imposition of hands in blessing, and the action of anointing to confer an office or mission. Beyond the direct influence of ritual actions of Jewish life, there is the much more extensive and pervasive indirect influence of stories, prayers, and symbols from the Hebrew scriptures. Thus, baptism is not easily understood without knowledge of the Hebrew stories of creation and sin, of the Deluge, and of the passing through the waters of the Red Sea at the Exodus and through the waters of the Jordan River as Israel took possession of the Promised Land. Similarly, confirmation (chrismation) is not readily understood without reference to the theme of the breath of God, which runs through the Hebrew scriptures.

Early History

Although there are references to sacramental activity in the New Testament, and these are accompanied by a sacramental theology (e.g., 1 Cor. ), little is known about the form of early Christian ritual except through late second-century sources. By the fourth century most of the rituals were elaborate and well established in the patterns that were to endure, though they were not numbered explicitly as seven until the twelfth century in the West and the seventeenth century in the East.

Early Christian rites

The central sacrament has always been the Eucharist. From early times it has consisted of a ritual meal of small amounts of bread and wine, commemorating the farewell supper of Jesus before his death and extending the presence and friendship of Jesus to his followers through the ages. The celebration begins with readings from the Bible, prayers, usually a sermon on the biblical texts read, and sometimes, hymns. Then follows a great prayer of praise and thanksgiving, recited by the one who presides over the ritual; in this context the story of the farewell supper is recited and reenacted. The bread and wine are consecrated, the bread is broken and distributed to the worshipers, who consume it immediately, and the wine is likewise consumed. This eating and drinking is known as "communion."

Admission to the community formed around the Eucharist is by baptism and confirmation. In the early centuries baptism was by total immersion of the candidate, preferably in running water, accompanied by a formula of profession of faith. This going through the water symbolizes a death and a spiritual rebirth. Baptism was surrounded by lesser ritual elements: a divesting of old clothes and donning of a new white robe (which was worn for about one week), an anointing, and the receiving of a lighted candle. The ritual was generally preceded by a fast of some days and an all-night vigil. A further step of the initiation into the community was a confirmation of the baptism by the bishop (the leader of the local church) with a laying on of hands, a further anointing, and a prayer that the Holy Spirit (the breath of God that was in Jesus) might descend upon the candidate.

In the early centuries, there were also many reconciliation (penance, repentance) rituals: the recitation of the Lord's Prayer was one. However, there was also a more formal ritual of reconciliation, later modified radically, that applied to those excommunicated from the Eucharist and the company of the faithful for some grave offense. A period of exclusion, accompanied by the wearing of a special garb and the performance of prescribed works of repentance that were supported by the prayers of the community, was concluded by a ceremony in which the bishop led the penitents back into the worship assembly to readmit them to the Eucharist.

The custom was established in the early centuries of the laying on of hands not only in confirmation but also in the designation of persons to certain ministries or offices in the life and worship of the community. Such laying on of hands symbolized the passing on of authorization understood to come in a continuous line from Jesus and his earliest followers. It was performed in the context of a worship assembly and was accompanied by prayers and solemnity.

From the fourth century onward there is evidence of the blessing of marriages, at least in certain cases, by bishops, although the ritual of marriage was otherwise performed according to local civil custom. Of the anointing of the sick there is, despite the injunction found in the New Testament (Jas. 5:14), no clear evidence from the early centuries of the church.

Theology of the rites

Christian sacraments are based on the understanding that human existence in the world as human beings experience it is not as it is intended by God, its creator; hence they stand in need of salvation (redemption, rescue, healing). If all were in the harmony of God's creation, all things would speak to humanity of God and would serve its communion with God. However, because of a complex legacy of the misuse of human freedom (a legacy known as original sin), the things of creation and the structures of human society tend to betray humans, turning them away from their own true good. Jesus Christ is seen as the savior (redeemer and healer) in his life, actions, teachings, death, and resurrection. The sacraments are understood as continuing his presence and redeeming power.

In the New Testament and the other writings extant from the earliest period of Christian history, known as the patristic period, the community dimension of the sacraments is inseparable from the communion with God that they offer. Sacraments are redemptive because they draw people into the fellowship in which salvation is found. Baptism is the outreach of God through Jesus in his community whereby it is possible for a person to turn (convert) from the ways and society of a world gone astray to the ways and society of the community of the faithful. That this is the meaning of baptism is evident in the New Testament in the early chapters of the Acts of the Apostles and in the instructions given in the early community, for instance, in the Didache. Similarly, the Eucharist is seen as fashioning worshipers into "one body" with Jesus Christ, which has far-reaching consequences for their lives and their relationships (as the apostle Paul explains in 1 Corinthians, chapters 1113).

In the patristic period, the theology of the sacraments was more inclusive and less specific than it later became, because the terms musterion, among Greek writers, and sacramentum, among Latin writers, were being used rather generally for all Christian rituals, symbols, and elements of worship. But the emphasis is clearly on the Eucharist and the initiation into the fellowship of the Eucharist, with the understanding that it constitutes a dynamic in history. Not only does it commemorate the past event of the death and resurrection of Jesus, and put the worshiper in intimate communion with that event, but it anticipates a glorious fulfillment of all the biblical promises and hopes in the future, and puts the worshiper into intimate communion with that future, thereby transforming the quality of life and action within the historical present.

Sacraments in the Orthodox Christian Tradition

The sacramental practice and theology of the Orthodox churches is in direct continuity with the Greek patristic writings, emphasizing wonder and reverence in the presence of the holy.

Orthodox rites

Besides the seven sacraments enumerated above, Eastern Christianity recognizes a wide range of ritual considered sacramental in a broader sense: the anointing of a king; the rite of monastic profession; burial rites; blessing of water on the feast of the Epiphany; and blessings of homes, fields, harvested crops, and artifacts. These are not, however, all of equal importance.

Although, since the seventeenth century, the Orthodox churches have accepted the Western enumeration of seven rites, the manner of celebration of Orthodox sacraments does not correspond closely to the Western celebrations. The first sacramental participation of an Orthodox Christian is that of initiation, usually in infancy. The children are baptized by total triple immersion with an accompanying formula invoking the triune God. This is followed immediately by the chrismation (anointing) of forehead, eyes, nostrils, mouth, ears, breast, hands, and feet, with words proclaiming the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit. As soon as possible thereafter, the infant is given Communion (either a small taste of the wine, or both bread and wine). This initiation is performed by a bishop or a priest.

The Eucharist, also known as the Divine Liturgy, is ordinarily celebrated daily, though the community as a whole is more likely to participate on Sundays, special feasts, and weekdays of Lent. It is performed in a highly elaborated way with processions, candles and incense, congregational singing, and the wearing of special vestments by the celebrating clergy.

The ordinary ritual of repentance and reconciliation is not a public ceremony as in the early church but a private conversation between a Christian and a priest who acts in the name of the church. The penitent, the person seeking forgiveness and reconciliation through the ministry of the church, ordinarily stands or sits before a cross, an icon (sacred image) of Jesus Christ, or the book of the Gospels. The priest, who stands to one side, admonishes the penitent to confess his or her sins to Christ, because he, the priest, is only a witness. Having heard the confession, and having perhaps given advice, the priest lays his stole (a type of scarf used as a ritual vestment) on the head of the penitent, lays his hand on it and pronounces a prayer of forgiveness. Besides this ritual of repentance, which can be repeated many times by the same person, the anointing of the sick is available to all who are ill, whether or not they are in danger of death. Anointing of the sick has the double purpose of prayer for healing from illness and forgiveness of sin.

The Orthodox churches ordain men only to their ministries, as bishops, priests, deacons, subdeacons, and readers. Ordinations are performed by a bishop during the Liturgy, and the consecration of a bishop is normally performed by three bishops. Essentially the rite is that of imposition of hands, but this is preceded by an acclamation of the congregation in which the faithful approve the candidate and consent to his ordination. The candidate is then brought to the altar to kiss its four corners and the hands of the bishop. The bishop lays hands on the candidate with a prayer invoking God's blessing.

The Orthodox marriage ceremony, celebrated by a priest, has two parts, the Office of Betrothal and the Office of Crowning, and includes the blessing and exchange of rings, the crowning of the bride and groom, and the sharing of a cup of wine by the couple.

Theology of the rites

Orthodox liturgy is concerned with making the beauty of the spiritual an element of experience, even a haunting element of experience. Liturgy is "heaven on earth," an anticipation of the glorious future. The fundamental sacramental principle is that in Jesus Christ a process of divinization has begun that continues in the sacramental mysteries and draws the worshipers in. Christ himself is the first sacramental mystery, continuing to live in the church, whose sacred actions reach forward to a glorious fulfillment in the future. The sacramental actions are the realization or becoming of the church as heavenly and earthly community. Therefore, they establish communion with the redemptive events of the past, communion among persons, and communion with the heavenly realm.

In the theology of the Orthodox church there is a strong sense of the organic wholeness, continuity, and pervasive presence of the redemption in the world, and therefore an unwillingness to draw some of the sharp distinctions that the West has been willing to draw concerning the sacramental mysteries.

Western Developments up to the Sixteenth Century

In the West, the sacraments underwent more change than in the East. This was caused by many factors, such as the large-scale conversions of European peoples, the cultural discontinuity resulting from the dissolution of the Roman empire, the problem of the difference in languages, a poorly educated clergy in the medieval period, and some other characteristics of Western traditions in church organization and theology.

Western rites

In the practice of the sacraments as received from the early church, there were some modifications. In the initiation, which was almost always conferred on children in the medieval period, baptism, confirmation, and first participation in the Eucharist were separated. The custom grew up of baptizing not by immersion but by pouring water over the forehead of the child. Confirmation, being the prerogative of the bishop, might be considerably delayed, and Communion was delayed out of a sense that infants might "desecrate" the holy.

The Eucharist became something that the priest did; the people had little part in it and little understanding of it. Its symbolism had become rather obscure and overlaid with additions and the Latin language, which had been adopted because it was the vernacular in the West in earlier centuries, was retained long after ordinary people no longer understood it. Communion by the laity became rare at this time, and even then it was restricted to the bread alone, the priest being the only one who received from the cup. Many ordinary Christians sought their real inspiration and forms of worship outside the liturgy of the Eucharist and the sacraments, and thus a great variety of other devotional practices arose.

As in the East, the old solemn and public form of reconciliation gave way to a far more private one embodied in a conversation between penitent and priest. This had originated in a tradition of voluntary individual spiritual guidance given by a wise and spiritual person who was not necessarily a priest. However, by the thirteenth century it had become obligatory for all people to confess, at least once a year, "all their grave sins" to their own parish priest, and the ceremony was constructed rather like a judicial procedure. By a subtle shift of usage in the twelfth century, the prayer that God might forgive had become a declaration that the priest forgave by the power the church had vested in him. There were also some changes in the other sacraments. The anointing of the sick became, in effect, the sacrament of the dying. Ordination was restricted not only to men, but to celibate men, and the consent of the faithful was not sought, even as a ritual formality. Effectively, the ranks of the clergy were reduced to two: bishop and priest. Men were ordained to the other ranks (deacon, subdeacon, minor orders) only as an intermediate step to the priesthood.

There seems to have been no obligatory religious ritual for a marriage until the eleventh century, although there was a custom of celebrating a Eucharist at which a canopy was placed over the bride and groom and a special blessing was pronounced. After the eleventh century, weddings were performed at the church door with the priest as witness and were followed by a Eucharist at which the marriage was blessed. Essential to the ceremony was the exchange of consent by the couple. A ring was blessed and given to the bride.

Theology of the sacraments

The Western theology of the sacraments is heavily indebted to Augustine, bishop of Hippo (d. 430), though the Scholastic theology of the West in the Middle Ages elaborated Augustine's teachings much more. Key ideas in Scholastic teaching are concerned with the validity, the necessity, and the efficacy or causality of the sacraments.

Validity is a legal concept, and this gave a different direction to Western sacramental theology from that of the East. Sacraments are valid if the rite is duly performed by a duly authorized minister, quite independently of the spiritual goodness or worthiness of that minister, because essentially they are the acts of Christ performed through the mediation of his church. Therefore a Eucharist correctly celebrated by someone who has gone into schism from the church or who is wicked would nevertheless be a true Eucharist.

According to the Scholastics, the necessity of baptism, and of sacraments in general, for salvation is grounded in the universal involvement of the human race in the heritage of sinfulness and disorientation. This led to much speculation in medieval times concerning the fate of people who were not baptized because the opportunity had not been presented to them. The Scholastics found an acceptable compromise in postulating, besides the "baptism of blood" of martyred converts who had not yet been initiated, a "baptism of desire" granted to those who lived in good faith by the light that God had given them.

There was strong emphasis in this theology on the efficacy of the sacraments because they were the acts of Christ. Their efficacy is to bestow grace, that is, an elevation of human existence to a privileged intimacy with God leading to salvation. Augustine's teaching tended to emphasize the gratuity of God's gifts so strongly that it gave the impression to some that the human response of faith and surrender was not a constituent of the sacramental encounter. Augustine and the medieval theologians taught that the salvific effect of (or the grace bestowed by) a sacrament was not dependent on the virtue of the one who administered the sacrament. Unfortunately, this was sometimes popularly understood as meaning that sacraments are also not dependent for their efficacy on finding faith in the recipient.

Sacraments in Post-Reformation Roman Catholic Tradition

The Council of Trent (15451563), while correcting many abuses, substantially reaffirmed both the practice and the theology of the sacraments as they had been received from the medieval period. It was not until the twentieth century, and particularly until the Second Vatican Council (19621965), that substantive developments occurred.

Roman Catholic rites

The most significant and pervasive changes in the sacramental rites following Vatican II were the restoration of a more extensive and careful use of scripture and of preaching on the biblical readings; a reconstruction of rites to emphasize the communal character of the sacraments and the full and active participation of the laity; and a simplification and clarification of the symbolism of the rites, effected by stripping away accretions and rediscovering the classic forms from the heritage of the early church, and also by introducing some cautious and modest contemporary adaptations.

In the case of adults, initiation has been restored to its ancient form with some adaptations. As in the primitive church, the culminating ceremonies are placed at the conclusion of a leisurely time of preparation known as catechumenate. In the case of infants, baptism has been simplified and made more clearly a community action and commitment.

The Eucharist, like the other sacraments, is now celebrated in the vernacular. Even in large congregations, the presiding priest now faces the community across the altar rather than facing away from the people. More people now have active roles in the ceremony. It is usual, not exceptional, for all to communicate, that is, to partake of the bread, and, on special occasions, also of the wine. The whole community at every Eucharist, not only the clergy on certain solemn occasions, exchanges a ritual "kiss of peace" (which is actually more usually a handshake).

The anointing has been reinstated as a sacrament of the sick rather than the dying. But perhaps the greatest changes have occurred in the structures for the sacrament of reconciliation, which now has not only an individual rite, but also a communal one and a mixed one. The individual form remains much as before but is enriched by scripture readings, while the focus of the rite has shifted from the judicial function to spiritual guidance in a progressive Christian conversion. The communal form consists of an assembly in which scripture is read; a sermon is preached; there are hymns and prayers including a common, generic confession of sin and repentance; and a general absolution, given in the name of the church. In the mixed form a similar service is held, but a pause is made during which individuals can go aside to make a personal and specific confession of sins to a priest out of earshot of the congregation, and an individual absolution is given.

The significant change in holy orders is not in the ceremony but in the fact that the Catholic church once again ordains permanent deacons (thereby restoring a third rank of clergy), who, moreover, may be married men. Marriages are more usually celebrated with an exchange of rings, rather than a ring for the bride only, and both partners receive the nuptial blessing. It is still understood that the partners themselves confer the sacrament on each other; the priest serves as witness.

Theology of the sacraments

The Catholic theology of the sacraments after Vatican II has returned to closer affinity with the patristic and Eastern understanding. The fundamental sacrament is Jesus Christ, who is made present in the sacrament of the church, which in turn is realized as a sacrament in its own sacramental actions and assemblies. But sacramentality is pervasive in Christian experience and not restricted to the seven special moments. The liturgy (especially that of the Eucharist) is the peak or summit of Christian life in that everything should lead to it and everything should flow from it. That is to say, life for the Christian community should be progressively transformed in the grace of Christ, in lifestyle, in relationships, and in community structures and values by the repeated immersion of the community in the eucharistic moment.

A distinct but related aspect of the renewed theology of the sacraments after Vatican II is the rediscovery of the link that was seen so clearly in the early church between Christian sacraments and social justice. The very ceremonies and symbols of the sacraments are seen as presenting a radical challenge to many of the existing structures of the world. Under the influence of biblical renewal and patristic scholarship, there is a consistent effort in contemporary Catholic sacramental theology to correct a former bias by constant remembrance that the sacraments are not simply acts of Christ but also of the community, are not only channels of grace but also acts of faith and worship.

Sacraments in the Protestant Tradition

Although Protestant churches cannot simply be taken as a unity when discussing the sacraments, they do have one factor in common: They define themselves by their discontinuity with the medieval church tradition. Positively they also define themselves by a special emphasis on scripture and on personal faith.

Protestant rites

In general, the Protestant churches acknowledge as sacraments, in the strict sense of the term, only baptism and the Lord's Supper. Although other rites are celebrated, they are ordinarily not called sacraments because Protestants generally find no evidence of their institution by Jesus Christ. Some Christian groups of the Western church that are traditionally grouped with Protestants do not acknowledge sacraments at all; examples are the Society of Friends (Quakers), Unitarians, and Christian Scientists.

Among those Protestant churches that practice baptism, some insist on the "believer's baptism" and therefore will not baptize infants because they are not capable of a response of faith. Such, for instance, are the Baptists, the Disciples of Christ, and the Mennonites. These groups practice baptism by immersion. Most Protestant groups, however, do baptize infants and consider the pouring (sometimes the sprinkling) of water over the head as sufficient, accompanied by the recital of a formula usually invoking the triune God.

Protestant churches in general do not celebrate the Eucharist (Lord's Supper) as frequently as do the Catholic and Orthodox churches. Even a weekly celebration is not customary in most cases, though a monthly Communion service is quite usual. Although there is a variety of rites in the various churches, the central elements remain: the blessing and breaking of bread and its distribution to the worshipers to eat, accompanied by the biblical words of and about Jesus at his farewell supper; the blessing and distribution of the cup of wine (in some cases nonalcoholic grape juice) to be drunk by the worshipers, also accompanied by the appropriate biblical formula; biblical readings and meditation; and some expression of fellowship in the community. In general the Eucharist as celebrated by the Protestant churches is marked by a certain austerity of ritual expression and elaboration when compared with the celebrations of the Catholic and Orthodox churches.

Most Protestant churches celebrate some or all of the other rites that the Catholic and Orthodox churches enumerate as sacraments, although Protestants do not accord the rites that designation. There is a variety of rites of reconciliation, ranging from private confession of specific sins to an ordained minister, through such other forms as mutual confession between laypersons or stylized, generic formulas in which the whole congregation acknowledges sinfulness and need of forgiveness, to the characteristic Mennonite rite of foot washing (commemorating the action of Jesus related in the Gospel of John 13:210).

Anointing of the sick and other anointings have traditionally been practiced in some churches and have become far more common under the influence of the charismatic and Pentecostal movements. Marriages are commonly celebrated with some religious ceremony that includes bestowal of a ring or exchange of rings, exchange of marriage vows, and an exhortation in the context of community worship. Although most Protestant churches have some type of ordination of ministers, the ceremonies for such conferral reflect the different ways in which ministry and the role and status of the minister are understood.

Theology of the rites

Common to the Protestant churches is the insistence on the primacy of the Bible and on faith in salvation. Generally the efficacy of sacraments is not emphasized, while the role of the faith of the individual participant is stressed. This emphasis, combined with a strong sense of the priesthood of all believers, means that there is less concern over the "validity" of sacraments, and especially over the "validity of orders" of presiding ministers than in the Catholic and Orthodox traditions.

A major concern in celebrating the two great sacraments is obedience to the command of Jesus to do so, as that command is read in the New Testament. However, a significant difference exists between the Lutheran and the Calvinist understanding. In the former an act of God in the sacrament is effective when it encounters faith in the participant. In the latter a sacrament is a sign of God's grace but does not confer that grace.

Ecumenical Issues

The sacraments raise some ecumenical questions among Christians of different churches. One of these is the question of "intercommunion," that is, whether Christians of one church may receive communion at the Eucharist of another. Most churches allow this practice, at least in some circumstances. Another question is whether Christians transferring from one church tradition to another should be baptized again. With some exceptions, the churches do not confer baptism a second time, because they consider the first baptism valid. The question of accepting the ordination to ministry of other churches has proved far more controversial.

See Also

Ablutions; Atonement; Baptism; Confession of Sins; Eucharist; Grace; Hands; Initiation; Justification; Marriage; Ministry; Ordination; Passover; Priesthood, article on Christian Priesthood; Repentance; Rites of Passage, article on Jewish Rites; Water; Worship and Devotional Life, article on Jewish Worship.

Bibliography

The most inclusive single-volume introduction to sacraments in the Western tradition is Joseph Martos's Doors to the Sacred (New York, 1981). The biblical themes that underlie the symbolism of the sacraments are discussed briefly in my book The Meaning of the Sacraments (Dayton, Ohio, 1972). A detailed account of the historical development of the symbolism is given in Jean Daniélou's The Bible and the Liturgy (Notre Dame, Ind., 1966). What is known of the origins of the Christian rites in apostolic times is summarized in Ferdinand Hahn's The Worship of the Early Church (Philadelphia, 1973). The development of the rites through the patristic period is described in Josef A. Jungmann's The Early Liturgy to the Time of Gregory the Great (Notre Dame, Ind., 1959). The rites of the Orthodox tradition and their theological explanations are described in part 2 of Timothy Ware's The Orthodox Church (Baltimore, 1963). A further presentation of contemporary Orthodox sacramental theology is available in Alexander Schmemann's Sacraments and Orthodoxy (New York, 1965). A Protestant discussion of the rites and their theology, written from a Reform perspective but discussing the Lutheran tradition also, is G. C. Berkouwer's The Sacraments, translated from the Dutch by Hugo Bekker (Grand Rapids, Mich., 1969). Another Protestant account, written from the perspective of the Disciples of Christ, is J. Daniel Joyce's The Place of the Sacraments in Worship (Saint Louis, 1967). A detailed history of the rites from the point of view of the Episcopal church is Marion J. Hatchett's Sanctifying Life, Time and Space: An Introduction to Liturgical Study (New York, 1976). The Catholic theological understanding of the sacraments prior to Vatican II is succinctly presented in Bernard Piault's What Is a Sacrament? (New York, 1963). The Catholic understanding of the sacraments in the light of Vatican II is very clearly presented in Bernard Cooke's Sacraments and Sacramentality (Mystic, Conn., 1983). Karl Rahner's The Church and the Sacraments (London, 1963) is a short but highly technical reformulation of the older Roman Catholic sacramental theology in the light of a renewed ecclesiology. Edward Schillebeeckx's Christ: The Sacrament of the Encounter with God (Mission, Kans., 1963), an epoch-making book in its time, is a similar reformulation linking traditional sacramental theology to a renewed Christology. Bernard Cooke's Ministry to Word and Sacraments: History and Theology (Philadelphia, 1976) is a lengthy study showing the historical development of the sacraments in relation to changing perceptions of priesthood. A series of essays on the ecumenical questions relating to the sacraments is collected in The Sacraments: An Ecumenical Dilemma, edited by Hans Küng (New York, 1967), and The Sacraments in General: A New Perspective, edited by Edward Schillebeeckx and Boniface Willems (New York, 1968). Technical and detailed bibliographies are given in each of these volumes.

New Sources

Boswell, John. Same-Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe. New York, 1994.

Fahey, Michael. A., ed. Catholic Perspective on Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry. Lanham, Md., 1986.

Gorringe, Timothy J. The Sign of Love: Reflections on the Eucharist. London, 1997.

Guernsey, Daniel P., ed. Eucharistic Texts and Prayers throughout Church History. San Francisco, 1999.

Limouris, Gennadios, and N. M. Vaporis, eds. Orthodox Perspectives on Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry. Brookline, Mass., 1985.

Mitchell, Nathan. Eucharist as Sacrament of Initiation. Chicago, 1994.

O'Malley, William J. Sacraments: Rites of Passage. Allen, Tex., 1995.

Primavesi, Anne. Our God Has No Favorites: A Liberation Theology of the Eucharist. Tunbridge Wells, U.K., and San Jose, Calif., 1989.

Reumann, John Henry Paul. The Supper of the Lord: The New Testament, Ecumenical Dialogues, and Faith and Order on Eucharist. Philadelphia, 1985.

Shurden, Walter B. Baptism and the Lord's Supper. Macon, Ga., 1999.

White, James F. The Sacraments in Protestant Practice and Faith. Nashville, Tenn., 1999.

Monika K. Hellwig (1987)

Revised Bibliography

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  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.