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Sacraments, Conditional Administration of


The minister of the Sacraments may be obligated at times, especially with regard to Baptism, Penance, and the Anointing of the Sick, to administer a Sacrament conditionally. Were he to do otherwise, he might be guilty either of irreverence for these sacred symbols, because the recipient lacks the requisites to receive them, or of depriving unjustly someone who needs them. He should not, for example, give the Anointing of the Sick absolutely to someone who is declared dead, lest the sacramental rite be administered disrespectfully and without effect, and yet he should not deprive the person, who may be only in deep coma, of the Sacrament. By giving the Anointing of the Sick under the condition, "If you are capable" (of receiving it), he provides for the reception of the Sacrament, which will cause grace either then and there, if the recipient is properly disposed, or at reviviscence, if the recipient later disposes himself for the reception of grace. The intention of the minister must be to do as the Church does, namely, as Christ intended when He instituted the Sacraments as means of grace for those capable of being sanctified by them. The minister as a person has no power to administer Sacraments except so far as he conforms his intention to that of the Church. The Sacraments are Sacraments of the Church, of Christ and His Mystical Body (see sacraments, theology of).

Bibliography: h. davis, Moral and Pastoral Theology, 4 v. (rev. ed. New York l958) v.3.

[p. l. hanley]

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