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The Liturgy Within the Sacramental Economy

By Solomon Alexander Hart (1806 Plymouth - 1881 London) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Submitted November 09, 2017; How the Liturgy fits into the Sacramental Economy.

The sacramental economy refers to that part of the sacramental life of the Church in which “Christ now lives and acts in and with his Church,”[1] and how he “acts through the sacraments”[2] in order to communicate “the fruits of [his] Paschal mystery in the celebration of the Church’s sacramental liturgy.”[3] This economy is part of an even greater economy, the economy of salvation, which broadly deals with the “mystery of Christ” as it is “revealed and fulfilled in history according to the wisely ordered plan”[4] of God. As such, the sacramental economy operates within God’s divine plan, offering to every man the graces which proceed from the sacraments. Lending to the whole of God’s saving plan for all mankind, Christ has established the Church (Mt. 16:18-19) which, being “the universal sacrament of salvation,”[5] “shows how the sacramental economy ultimately determines the way that Christ…reaches our lives in all their particularity.”[6] Liturgically, the sacramental economy is expressed and more thoroughly revealed by Christ’s transformative work both in the person of the celebrant and in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.[7] The sacraments are offered to man as an outward sign of an inward dispensation of grace; they make manifest the works of Jesus Christ for the Church in every age. In the words of Scott Hahn, “[t]he Word in the sacramental liturgy continues the work of the Word in Scripture.”[8] Similarly, the Church acknowledges that in the liturgy, Christ “signifies and makes present” his Paschal mystery.[9] Because the liturgy expresses the life of the Church, and because the Blessed Sacrament is “the source and summit of the Christian life,”[10] it is fitting to suppose that the liturgy does not simply fit into the sacramental economy, but rather it sustains it, illuminating the riches—the gifts—of Christ’s work, even as it reveals itself today. This is perhaps why the Church insists that “[the] catechesis of the liturgy entails first of all an understanding of the sacramental economy,”[11] bearing in mind that this economy flourishes when it is properly expressed in the liturgy, which brings the Paschal mystery to the forefront of our minds at Mass. [1] CCC 1076 [2] CCC 1076 [3] CCC 1076, internal quotations omitted. [4] CCC 1066 [5] Lumen Gentuim, 48, as quoted in: Benedict XVI. Sacramentum Caritatis. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2007, 16. [6] Benedict XVI. Sacramentum Caritatis. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2007, 16. [7] See CCC 1088 [8] Hahn, Scott. Spirit & Life: Essays on Interpreting the Bible in Ordinary Time. Steubenville, OH: Emmaus Road Publishing, 2009, 96. [9] CCC 1085 [10] Lumen Gentium as quoted in: CCC 1324. [11] CCC 1135

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