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A Classic Work on the Sacraments: A Must for Anyone in Sacramental Work, Especially the Rite of Christian Initiation

Book: The Bible and the Liturgy
Author: Jean Danielou, S.J.
University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame, IN. pp.372


Excerpt from Introduction:

Theology defines the sacraments as "efficacious signs," this being the sense of the scholastic saying (significando causant). But, as things are today, our modern textbooks insist almost exclusively on the first term of this definition. We study the efficacious causality of the sacraments, but we pay very little attention to their nature as signs. It is, therefore, to this aspect of the sacraments in particular that the chapters of this book will be devoted. We shall study the significance of the sacramental rites, and, more generally, that of Christian worship. But the purpose of this study is not to simply satisfy our curiosity. This question of the sacraments as signs is of fundamental importance for pastoral liturgy. Because they are not understood, the rites of the sacraments often seem to the faithful to be artificial and sometimes even shocking. It is only by discovering their meaning that the value of these rites will once more be appreciated.

Excerpt from Book:

(Regarding the Rite of the White Garment at the end of Baptism)

We can now see that these different aspects of the symbolism of the white garments are not incoherent, but are ordered in an organic whole. They refer, first of all, to Adam, signifying his state in Paradise before the Fall.

Then they are related to Christ, who came to restore the grace lost by Adam. In Baptism, they express configuration to the grace of Christ.

And, finally, they are a prefiguring of future glory, anticipated in this present life.

A whole theology is thus expressed in this symbolism, the theology of the New Adam. And this is also true of several of the other rites which we have been studying. A primary aspect of the biblical theology of the sacraments thus appears, one that we might call the theology of Adam . . .