02 Jun Issue 4: Fall/Winter 2020
- Burkus, D. (2018). You’re NOT The Average Of The Five People You Surround Yourself With.
Retrieved from HERE
- Cloud, Henry, and John S. Townsend. Boundaries: When to Say Yes, When to Say No to Take Control of Your Life., 1992. Print.
Why the Word Sacrament?
Growing up, we took Communion once a month in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, however in Catholic school Communion was taken daily during Mass. Later during my undergraduate studies at Oral Roberts University, I learned the significance. Roman and Orthodox churches see Communion as the pinnacle of their liturgy (or worship service.) They take the words of Christ serious as spoken in Luke 22:19 (NKJ), “And He took bread, and gave thanks, and broke it, and gave unto them, saying, this is My body which is given for you; This do in remembrance of Me.” It was during my elementary and high school tenure that I questioned why if a sacrament is so serious is it not celebrated more often in many protestant denominations?
Catholic education included religion as a subject within their core curriculum. As the student matriculated from grade to grade so did the topics that the Religion Subject covered. I was between first and third grade when the Sacraments of the church were introduced and explained. Growing up in a Protestant Denomination the word Sacrament was not a word I was familiar with. Though I had once heard the word used in passing, I still didn’t fully understand the fullness of the terminology. As I continued to fellowship in protestant circles I realized the need to review Church History to discover the (WHY) behind Christian Tradition.
The History of the Word Sacrament
The word Sacrament is a combination of both the Greek and Latin Language. The original Latin language had evolved by the 3rd century to what is known as Ecclesiastical Latin or Church Latin. The Latin word sacer which means (Holy) was used in conjuction with the Greek term mysterion which means (secret rite). Thus in the English the word is now “Sacrament.” In Ancient Rome the term meant a soldier’s oath of Allegiance. Sacraments are the sacred rites of the believer. When a believer participates in a Sacrament they are making a holy pledge to Christ, affirming the power of the scriptures and are agreeing with the traditions of the early church. St. Augustine said, “the signs of divine things are, it is true, things visible, but … invisible things themselves are also honored in them.” ( De Cat. Rud. 26.50). The Council of Trent interpreted St. Augustine’s writings to read, “A Sacrament is a visible sign of an invisible grace.” Richard Foster states in his book, ‘Streams of Living Water.’ “The Sacraments of the Church most completely demonstrate God’s use of matter to make present and visible the invisible realm of the Spirit. Sacraments are concrete actions by which we are marked and fed in such a way that the reality of God becomes embedded in our body, our mind, our spirit.”
Church History and the Sacraments
After the early church was centered in Rome under Constantine, the church begin to evolve quickly. The early Church Fathers documented their experiences in writings which were studied by the next generation of Christina leaders. Later theses doctrinal views and commentary on scripture were compiled in a book called, The Catechism. All Christian Denominations have their own version of a Catechism, a book defining their doctrinal and theological views.
The Church Councils
The early church Fathers and leaders much like today were led by the Holy Spirit to discuss pertinent issues that concerned the church. These large meetings held by church leaders became known as Councils, today referred to as, ‘Church Councils.’ In 1274 at the Council of Lyon the seven sacraments had already been presented. It was the Council of Florence that declared the seven sacraments to be accepted by the Roman church (Christianity through the Centuries, Cairns pg. 250). Finally, in the Council of Trent the seven sacraments were reaffirmed as the official seven sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church. The purpose of the Council of Trent was to address the changes that took place during the protestant reformation from Martin Luther’s Ninety – Five Thesis in 1517.
- Aquilina, M. The Mass of the Early Christians, 2nd Edition., 2001. Print.
- Foster, R.J. Streams of Living Water: Celebrating the Great Traditions of the Christian Faith., 1998. Print.
- Cairns, E. Christianity Through The Centuries: A History of the Christian Church 3rd Edition., 1996. Print.
- deSilva, D. Sacramental Life: Spiritual Formation Through the Book of Common Prayer., 2008. Print.
- Salza, J. The Biblical Basis for the Eucharist., 2008. Print.
- Empereur, S.J. and Christopher G. Kiesling, O.P. The Liturgy That Does Justice, Theology and Life Series 33., 1990. Print.