The principal reason for a sacramental system is found in man. Thomas (III:61:1), to be led by things corporeal and sense-perceptible to things spiritual and intelligible; now Divine Providence provides for everything in accordance with its nature (); therefore it is fitting that Divine Wisdom should provide means of salvation for men in the form of certain corporeal and sensible signs which are called sacraments. For this reason the majority of theologians hold that no sacraments would have been instituted even if that state had lasted for a long time. Apart from what was or might have been in that extraordinary state, the use of sacred symbols is universal. Augustine says that every religion, true or false, has its visible signs or sacraments."In nullum nomen religionis, seu verum seu falsum, coadunari homines possunt, nisi aliquo signaculorum seu sacramentorum visibilium consortio colligantur" ( XIX.11).The Council of Trent condemns those who say that there is no difference except in the outward rite between the sacraments of the Old Law and those of the New Law (Sess. This means that they did not give grace themselves (i.e.
Org christian dating service
It is not really a necessity, but the most appropriate manner of dealing with creatures that are at the same time spiritual and corporeal.
In this assertion all Christians are united: it is only when we come to consider the nature of the sacramental signs that Protestants (except some Anglicans) differ from Catholics.
But when the fullness of time was come, God sent his Son, made of a woman" (Galatians 4:3-4). Man's dignity was so great that he was raised above the natural condition of human nature.
The Incarnation took place because God dealt with men in the manner that was best suited to their nature. His mind was subject to God; his lower faculties were subject to the higher part of his mind; his body was subject to his soul; it would have been against the dignity of that state had he been dependent, for the acquisition of knowledge or of Divine grace, on anything beneath him, i.e., corporeal things.
Thomas (III:61:3, ad 3; III:65:1, ad 7) as external observances which may be considered as the sacred signs of that time, prefiguring future sacred institutions: hence, he adds, they may be called sacraments of the law of nature. As the time for Christ's coming drew nearer, in order that the Israelites might be better instructed God spoke to Moses, revealing to him in detail the sacred signs and ceremonies by which they were to manifest more explicitly their faith in the future Redeemer.
Those signs and ceremonies were the sacraments of the Mosaic Law, "which are compared to the sacraments which were before the law as something determined to something undetermined, because before the law it had not been determined what signs men should use" (The ceremonies by which men were made and signed as worshippers or ministers of God.
This truth theologians express by saying that the sacraments are necessary, not absolutely but only hypothetically, i.e., in the supposition that if we wish to obtain a certain supernatural end we must use the supernatural means appointed for obtaining that end. It is the teaching of the Catholic Church and of Christians in general that, whilst God was nowise bound to make use of external ceremonies as symbols of things spiritual and sacred, it has pleased Him to do so, and this is the ordinary and most suitable manner of dealing with men.
Writers on the sacraments refer to this as the , the necessity of suitableness.
What those signs should be God did not determine, leaving this for the people, most probably to the leaders or heads of families, who were guided in their choice by an interior inspiration of the Holy Ghost. Thomas, who says that, as under the law of nature (when there was no written law), men were guided by interior inspiration in worshiping God, so also they determined what signs should be used in the external acts of worship (III:60:5, ad 3).
Afterwards, however, as it was necessary to give a written law: (a) because the law of nature had been obscured by sin, and (b) because it was time to give a more explicit knowledge of the grace of Christ, then also it became necessary to determine what external signs should be used as sacraments (III:60:5, ad 3; III:61:3, ad 2) This was not necessary immediately after the Fall, by reason of the fullness of faith and knowledge imparted to Adam.
But about the time of Abraham, when faith had been weakened, many had fallen into idolatry, and the light of reason had been obscured by indulgence of the passions, even unto the commission of sins against nature, God intervened and appointed as a sign of faith the rite of circumcision (Genesis 17; III:70:2, ad 1; see CIRCUMCISION).