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Saint Thomas Aquinas - Summa Theologica

    [For the sake of brevity we omit all but Saint Thomas' salient points, germane to our discussion.  Those acquainted with the Summa will notice that we have generally excluded the objections to Saint Thomas' point of view and the replies to those objections.  Those understanding the difference between salvation and redemption may wish to proceed directly to S.T. III, Q.49 a.3.  The reader is invited to examine the entire text either in print or on line (URLs below).]  

S.T. III, Q.46 a.1:
Whether it was necessary for Christ to suffer for the deliverance of the human race?

I answer that, As the Philosopher teaches (Metaph. v), there are several acceptations of the word "necessary." In one way it means anything which of its nature cannot be otherwise; and in this way it is evident that it was not necessary either on the part of God or on the part of man for Christ to suffer. In another sense a thing may be necessary from some cause quite apart from itself; and should this be either an efficient or a moving cause then it brings about the necessity of compulsion; as, for instance, when a man cannot get away owing to the violence of someone else holding him. But if the external factor which induces necessity be an end, then it will be said to be necessary from presupposing such end---namely, when some particular end cannot exist at all, or not conveniently, except such end be presupposed. It was not necessary, then, for Christ to suffer from necessity of compulsion, either on God's part, who ruled that Christ should suffer, or on Christ's own part, who suffered voluntarily. Yet it was necessary from necessity of the end proposed; and this can be accepted in three ways. First of all, on our part, who have been delivered by His Passion, according to John (3:14): "The Son of man must be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in Him may not perish, but may have life everlasting." Secondly, on Christ's part, who merited the glory of being exalted, through the lowliness of His Passion: and to this must be referred Lk. 24:26: "Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and so to enter into His glory?" Thirdly, on God's part, whose determination regarding the Passion of Christ, foretold in the Scriptures and prefigured in the observances of the Old Testament, had to be fulfilled. And this is what St. Luke says (22:22): "The Son of man indeed goeth, according to that which is determined"; and (Lk. 24:44,46): "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was yet with you, that all things must needs be fulfilled which are written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms concerning Me: for it is thus written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise again from the dead."

      [It should be clear from the preceding and following paragraph that in Question 60 Saint Thomas speaks of  "Redemption" even though he occasionally refers to "Salvation" -- "The Son of man must be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in Him may not perish, but may have life everlasting" (above).   "He set us an example of obedience, humility, constancy, justice, and the other virtues displayed in the Passion, which are requisite for man's salvation".... "by this man is all the more bound to refrain from sin" (below). ]

S.T. III, Q.46 a.3:
Whether there was any more suitable way of delivering the human race than by Christ's Passion?

  I answer that, Among means to an end that one is the more suitable whereby the various concurring means employed are themselves helpful to such end. But in this that man was delivered by Christ's Passion, many other things besides deliverance from sin concurred for man's salvation. In the first place, man knows thereby how much God loves him, and is thereby stirred to love Him in return, and herein lies the perfection of human salvation; hence the Apostle says (Rm. 5:8): "God commendeth His charity towards us; for when as yet we were sinners . . . Christ died for us." Secondly, because thereby He set us an example of obedience, humility, constancy, justice, and the other virtues displayed in the Passion, which are requisite for man's salvation. Hence it is written (1 Pt. 2:21): "Christ also suffered for us, leaving you an example that you should follow in His steps." Thirdly, because Christ by His Passion not only delivered man from sin, but also merited justifying grace for him and the glory of bliss, as shall be shown later (Question [48], Article [1]; Question [49], Articles [1], 5). Fourthly, because by this man is all the more bound to refrain from sin, according to 1 Cor. 6:20: "You are bought with a great price: glorify and bear God in your body." Fifthly, because it redounded to man's greater dignity, that as man was overcome and deceived by the devil, so also it should be a man that should overthrow the devil; and as man deserved death, so a man by dying should vanquish death. Hence it is written (1 Cor. 15:57): "Thanks be to God who hath given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." It was accordingly more fitting that we should be delivered by Christ's Passion than simply by God's good-will.

S.T. III, Q.48 a.1:
Whether Christ's Passion brought about our salvation by way of merit?

  On the contrary, on the words of Phil. 2:9, "Therefore God exalted Him," etc., Augustine says (Tract. civ in Joan.): "The lowliness" of the Passion "merited glory; glory was the reward of lowliness." But He was glorified, not merely in Himself, but likewise in His faithful ones, as He says Himself (Jn. 17:10). Therefore it appears that He merited the salvation of the faithful.

  I answer that, As stated above (Question [7], Articles [1],9; Question [8], Articles [1],5), grace was bestowed upon Christ, not only as an individual, but inasmuch as He is the Head of the Church, so that it might overflow into His members; and therefore Christ's works are referred to Himself and to His members in the same way as the works of any other man in a state of grace are referred to himself. But it is evident that whosoever suffers for justice's sake, provided that he be in a state of grace, merits his salvation thereby, according to Mt. 5:10: "Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice's sake." Consequently Christ by His Passion merited salvation, not only for Himself, but likewise for all His members.

    ["He merited the salvation of the faithful." -- "Christ by His Passion merited salvation, not only for Himself, but likewise for all His members." -- "for the faithful," "for His members," not "for all men."] 

S.T. III, Q.49 a.3:
Whether men are freed from the punishment of sin through Christ's Passion?

 I answer that, Through Christ's Passion we have been delivered from the debt of punishment in two ways. First of all, directly--namely, inasmuch as Christ's Passion was sufficient and superabundant satisfaction for the sins of the whole human race: but when sufficient satisfaction has been paid, then the debt of punishment is abolished. In another way--indirectly, that is to say--in so far as Christ's Passion is the cause of the forgiveness of sin, upon which the debt of punishment rests.

Reply to Objection 1. Christ's Passion works its effect in them to whom it is applied, through faith and charity and the sacraments of faith. And, consequently, the lost in hell cannot avail themselves of its effects, since they are not united to Christ in the aforesaid manner.

Reply to Objection 2. As stated above (1, ad 4,5), in order to secure the effects of Christ's Passion, we must be likened unto Him. Now we are likened unto Him sacramentally in Baptism, according to Rm. 6:4: "For we are buried together with Him by baptism into death." Hence no punishment of satisfaction is imposed upon men at their baptism, since they are fully delivered by Christ's satisfaction. But because, as it is written (1 Peter 3:18), "Christ died" but "once for our sins," therefore a man cannot a second time be likened unto Christ's death by the sacrament of Baptism. Hence it is necessary that those who sin after Baptism be likened unto Christ suffering by some form of punishment or suffering which they endure in their own person; yet, by the co-operation of Christ's satisfaction, much lighter penalty suffices than one that is proportionate to the sin.

S.T. III, Q.60 a.6:
Whether words are required for the signification of the sacraments?

I answer that, The sacraments, as stated above (Articles [2],3), are employed as signs for man's sanctification. Consequently they can be considered in three ways: and in each way it is fitting for words to be added to the sensible signs. For in the first place they can be considered in regard to the cause of sanctification, which is the Word incarnate: to Whom the sacraments have a certain conformity, in that the word is joined to the sensible sign, just as in the mystery of the Incarnation the Word of God is united to sensible flesh.

   Secondly, sacraments may be considered on the part of man who is sanctified, and who is composed of soul and body: to whom the sacramental remedy is adjusted, since it touches the body through the sensible element, and the soul through faith in the words. Hence Augustine says (Tract. lxxx in Joan.) on Jn. 15:3, "Now you are clean by reason of the word," etc.: "Whence hath water this so great virtue, to touch the body and wash the heart, but by the word doing it, not because it is spoken, but because it is believed?"

   Thirdly, a sacrament may be considered on the part of the sacramental signification. Now Augustine says (De Doctr. Christ. ii) that "words are the principal signs used by men"; because words can be formed in various ways for the purpose of signifying various mental concepts, so that we are able to express our thoughts with greater distinctness by means of words. And therefore in order to insure the perfection of sacramental signification it was necessary to determine the signification of the sensible things by means of certain words. For water may signify both a cleansing by reason of its humidity, and refreshment by reason of its being cool: but when we say, "I baptize thee," it is clear that we use water in baptism in order to signify a spiritual cleansing.

    [Saint Thomas' third point is significant in that the form is necessary to distinguish the matter beyond its mere appearance.  As he indicates, water may be used for a great number of purposes, and words are needed to distinguish the fact that it is being used to confer the Sacrament.  In some cases, words are necessary to distinguish between Sacraments.  Confirmation and Episcopal Consecration both involve the laying on of hands and anointing with oil -- the form of words indicates that in the first case the matter is intended to bring about making the recipient firm in the Holy Ghost; in the second case the form indicates that the matter is intended to bring about the fullness of the priesthood in the recipient.  It would clearly be invalid to modify a sacramental form to indicate some effect not intended by Christ -- some other purpose for Confirmation, some other effect of Episcopal Consecration, the universal forgiveness of all sin, or the unity of all men in the Mystical Body of Christ.]

S.T. III, Q.60 a.7:
Whether determinate words are required in the sacraments?

I answer that, As stated above (Article [6], ad 2), in the sacraments the words are as the form, and sensible things are as the matter. Now in all things composed of matter and form, the determining principle is on the part of the form, which is as it were the end and terminus of the matter. Consequently for the being of a thing the need of a determinate form is prior to the need of determinate matter: for determinate matter is needed that it may be adapted to the determinate form. Since, therefore, in the sacraments determinate sensible things are required, which are as the sacramental matter, much more is there need in them of a determinate form of words.

S.T. III, Q.60 a.8:
Whether it is lawful to add anything to the words in which the sacramental form consists?

  On the contrary, Certain words are inserted by some in the sacramental forms, which are not inserted by others: thus the Latins baptize under this form: "I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost"; whereas the Greeks use the following form: "The servant of God, N . . . is baptized in the name of the Father," etc. Yet both confer the sacrament validly. Therefore it is lawful to add something to, or to take something from, the sacramental forms.

    [Saint Thomas here points to the possibility of legitimate variation in the form of a Sacrament, as we see between the Western and various Eastern Rites.  It is significant to examine the forms employed by the various Rites of the Church.  A few are accessible from our index page.  There are some slight variations, but there are no contradictions.]

  I answer that, With regard to all the variations that may occur in the sacramental forms, two points seem to call for our attention. one is on the part of the person who says the words, and whose intention is essential to the sacrament, as will be explained further on (Question [64], Article [8]). Wherefore if he intends by such addition or suppression to perform a rite other from that which is recognized by the Church, it seems that the sacrament is invalid: because he seems not to intend to do what the Church does.

   The other point to be considered is the meaning of the words. For since in the sacraments, the words produce an effect according to the sense which they convey, as stated above (Article [7], ad 1), we must see whether the change of words destroys the essential sense of the words: because then the sacrament is clearly rendered invalid. Now it is clear, if any substantial part of the sacramental form be suppressed, that the essential sense of the words is destroyed; and consequently the sacrament is invalid. Wherefore Didymus says (De Spir. Sanct. ii): "If anyone attempt to baptize in such a way as to omit one of the aforesaid names," i.e. of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, "his baptism will be invalid." But if that which is omitted be not a substantial part of the form, such an omission does not destroy the essential sense of the words, nor consequently the validity of the sacrament. Thus in the form of the Eucharist---"For this is My Body," the omission of the word "for" does not destroy the essential sense of the words, nor consequently cause the sacrament to be invalid; although perhaps he who makes the omission may sin from negligence or contempt.

   Again, it is possible to add something that destroys the essential sense of the words: for instance, if one were to say: "I baptize thee in the name of the Father Who is greater, and of the Son Who is less," with which form the Arians baptized: and consequently such an addition makes the sacrament invalid. But if the addition be such as not to destroy the essential sense, the sacrament is not rendered invalid. Nor does it matter whether this addition be made at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end: For instance, if one were to say, "I baptize thee in the name of the Father Almighty, and of the only Begotten Son, and of the Holy Ghost, the Paraclete," the baptism would be valid; and in like manner if one were to say, "I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost"; and may the Blessed Virgin succour thee, the baptism would be valid.

   Perhaps, however, if one were to say, "I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, and of the Blessed Virgin Mary," the baptism would be void; because it is written (1 Cor. 1:13): "Was Paul crucified for you or were you baptized in the name of Paul?" But this is true if the intention be to baptize in the name of the Blessed Virgin as in the name of the Trinity, by which baptism is consecrated: for such a sense would be contrary to faith, and would therefore render the sacrament invalid: whereas if the addition, "and in the name of the Blessed Virgin" be understood, not as if the name of the Blessed Virgin effected anything in baptism, but as intimating that her intercession may help the person baptized to preserve the baptismal grace, then the sacrament is not rendered void.

    [This last paragraph illustrates the possibility of making a valid form invalid by adding something which distorts the meaning of the Sacrament.  A few writers suggest that the consecration of the wine is effected with just the beginning of the form:  "For this is a chalice of My blood."  Even if this were correct (which is highly doubtful), the addition of a notion contrary or at variance with our Lord's stated purpose of the Sacrament -- that It will be effective in forgiving the sins of all men -- would be invalidating.  Consider the obvious invalidity of something like: "For this is my body if you are foolish enough to believe it."]

S.T. III, Q.64 a.8:
Whether the minister's intention is required for the validity of a sacrament?

    I answer that, When a thing is indifferent to many uses, it must needs be determined to one, if that one has to be effected. Now those things which are done in the sacraments, can be done with various intent; for instance, washing with water, which is done in baptism, may be ordained to bodily cleanliness, to the health of the body, to amusement, and many other similar things. Consequently, it needs to be determined to one purpose, i.e. the sacramental effect, by the intention of him who washes. And this intention is expressed by the words which are pronounced in the sacraments; for instance the words, "I baptize thee in the name of the Father," etc.

  Reply to Objection 1: An inanimate instrument has no intention regarding the effect; but instead of the intention there is the motion whereby it is moved by the principal agent. But an animate instrument, such as a minister, is not only moved, but in a sense moves itself, in so far as by his will he moves his bodily members to act. Consequently, his intention is required, whereby he subjects himself to the principal agent; that is, it is necessary that he intend to do that which Christ and the Church do.

  Reply to Objection 2: On this point there are two opinions. For some hold that the mental intention of the minister is necessary; in the absence of which the sacrament is invalid: and that this defect in the case of children who have not the intention of approaching the sacrament, is made good by Christ, Who baptizes inwardly: whereas in adults, who have that intention, this defect is made good by their faith and devotion.

   This might be true enough of the ultimate effect, i.e. justification from sins; but as to that effect which is both real and sacramental, viz. the character, it does not appear possible for it to be made good by the devotion of the recipient, since a character is never imprinted save by a sacrament.

   Consequently, others with better reason hold that the minister of a sacrament acts in the person of the whole Church, whose minister he is; while in the words uttered by him, the intention of the Church is expressed; and that this suffices for the validity of the sacrament, except the contrary be expressed on the part either of the minister or of the recipient of the sacrament.

    [The form is the outward indicator of the minister's intent;  the use of the prescribed matter and form being adequate proof of a valid minister's valid intention, and consequent validity of the Sacrament. See Pope Leo XIII - Apostolicæ curæ.)  It is inconceivable that Christ might have one intention, while the Church holds something different.  One must then ask whether the mutilation of a sacramental form is the work of Church, or of individuals claiming to legislate for Her.  The mistranslations "for all men," "per tutti," por todos," etcetera, purport to translate "pro multis" in the Rite of Pope Paul VI, which claims to be the new version of the Roman Rite, but was in fact the work of Protestant ministers under the direction of a Freemason (Pope Paul exiled Anibale Bugnini to Iran when confronted with documentation of the latter's Masonic membership).  There is no issue of the infallibility of the Pope or the Church here, for the Novus Ordo was intended for only part of the Universal Church.  There is no issue of indefectability of the Church here either, for priests are still able to follow a valid rite.  And, if anyone ever thought that Popes or bishops were impeccable that notion has certainly been put to rest since Vatican II ! ]

  Reply to Objection 3: Although he who thinks of something else, has no actual intention, yet he has habitual intention, which suffices for the validity of the sacrament; for instance if, when a priest goes to baptize someone, he intends to do to him what the Church does. Wherefore if subsequently during the exercise of the act his mind be distracted by other matters, the sacrament is valid in virtue of his original intention. Nevertheless, the minister of a sacrament should take great care to have actual intention. But this is not entirely in man's power, because when a man wishes to be very intent on something, he begins unintentionally to think of other things, according to Ps. 39:18: "My heart hath forsaken me.

S.T. III, Q.78 a.1:
Whether this is the form of this sacrament: "This is My body," and "This is the chalice of My blood"?

    [Be careful not to misconstrue this article as Saint Thomas' approval of the theory that the consecration of the wine is effected by the first few words of the form.  He develops the necessity for the entire form in S.T. III, Q.78 a.3, which is given below.]

On the contrary, Ambrose says (De Sacram. iv): "The consecration is accomplished by the words and expressions of the Lord Jesus. Because, by all the other words spoken, praise is rendered to God, prayer is put up for the people, for kings, and others; but when the time comes for perfecting the sacrament, the priest uses no longer his own words, but the words of Christ. Therefore, it is Christ's words that perfect this sacrament."

  I answer that, This sacrament differs from the other sacraments in two respects. First of all, in this, that this sacrament is accomplished by the consecration of the matter, while the rest are perfected in the use of the consecrated matter. Secondly, because in the other sacraments the consecration of the matter consists only in a blessing, from which the matter consecrated derives instrumentally a spiritual power, which through the priest who is an animated instrument, can pass on to inanimate instruments. But in this sacrament the consecration of the matter consists in the miraculous change of the substance, which can only be done by God; hence the minister in performing this sacrament has no other act save the pronouncing of the words. And because the form should suit the thing, therefore the form of this sacrament differs from the forms of the other sacraments in two respects. First, because the form of the other sacraments implies the use of the matter, as for instance, baptizing, or signing; but the form of this sacrament implies merely the consecration of the matter, which consists in transubstantiation, as when it is said, "This is My body," or, "This is the chalice of My blood." Secondly, because the forms of the other sacraments are pronounced in the person of the minister, whether by way of exercising an act, as when it is said, "I baptize thee," or "I confirm thee," etc.; or by way of command, as when it is said in the sacrament of order, "Take the power," etc.; or by way of entreaty, as when in the sacrament of Extreme Unction it is said, "By this anointing and our intercession," etc. But the form of this sacrament is pronounced as if Christ were speaking in person, so that it is given to be understood that the minister does nothing in perfecting this sacrament, except to pronounce the words of Christ.

S.T. III, Q.78 a.3:
Whether this is the proper form for the consecration of the wine: "This is the chalice of My blood," etc.?

  Objection 1: It seems that this is not the proper form for the consecration of the wine. "This is the chalice of My blood, of the New and Eternal Testament, the Mystery of Faith, which shall be shed for you and for many unto the forgiveness of sins." For as the bread is changed by the power of consecration into Christ's body, so is the wine changed into Christ's blood, as is clear from what was said above (Question [76], Articles [1],2,3). But in the form of the consecration of the bread, the body of Christ is expressly mentioned, without any addition. Therefore in this form the blood of Christ is improperly expressed in the oblique case, and the chalice in the nominative, when it is said: "This is the chalice of My blood."

  [The first objection is given here, not because it is particularly germane to our concern, but because it states in full the form being discussed by Saint Thomas.] 

 On the contrary, The Church, instructed by the apostles, uses this form.

  I answer that, There is a twofold opinion regarding this form. Some have maintained that the words "This is the chalice of My blood" alone belong to the substance of this form, but not those words which follow. Now this seems incorrect, because the words which follow them are determinations of the predicate, that is, of Christ's blood; consequently they belong to the integrity of the expression.

   And on this account others say more accurately that all the words which follow are of the substance of the form down to the words, "As often as ye shall do this," which belong to the use of this sacrament, and consequently do not belong to the substance of the form. Hence it is that the priest pronounces all these words, under the same rite and manner, namely, holding the chalice in his hands. Moreover, in Lk. 22:20, the words that follow are interposed with the preceding words: "This is the chalice, the new testament in My blood."

   Consequently it must be said that all the aforesaid words belong to the substance of the form; but that by the first words, "This is the chalice of My blood," the change of the wine into blood is denoted, as explained above (Article [2]) in the form for the consecration of the bread; but by the words which come after is shown the power of the blood shed in the Passion, which power works in this sacrament, and is ordained for three purposes. First and principally for securing our eternal heritage, according to Heb. 10:19: "Having confidence in the entering into the holies by the blood of Christ"; and in order to denote this, we say, "of the New and Eternal Testament." Secondly, for justifying by grace, which is by faith according to Rm. 3:25,26: "Whom God hath proposed to be a propitiation, through faith in His blood . . . that He Himself may be just, and the justifier of him who is of the faith of Jesus Christ": and on this account we add, "The Mystery of Faith." Thirdly, for removing sins which are the impediments to both of these things, according to Heb. 9:14: "The blood of Christ . . . shall cleanse our conscience from dead works," that is, from sins; and on this account, we say, "which shall be shed for you and for many unto the forgiveness of sins."

    [N.B. "... for removing sins which are the impediments to both of these things, according to Heb. 9:14: "The blood of Christ . . . shall cleanse our conscience from dead works," that is, from sins; and on this account, we say, "which shall be shed for you and for many unto the forgiveness of sins.""]

S.T. III, Q.78 a.3:
Whether the aforesaid expressions are true?

 On the contrary, These words are pronounced in the person of Christ, Who says of Himself (Jn. 14:6): "I am the truth."

  I answer that, There have been many opinions on this point. Some have said that in this expression, "This is My body," the word "this" implies demonstration as conceived, and not as exercised, because the whole phrase is taken materially, since it is uttered by a way of narration: for the priest relates that Christ said: "This is My body."

   But such a view cannot hold good, because then these words would not be applied to the corporeal matter present, and consequently the sacrament would not be valid: for Augustine says (Tract. lxxx in Joan.): "The word is added to the element, and this becomes a sacrament." Moreover this solution ignores entirely the difficulty which this question presents: for there is still the objection in regard to the first uttering of these words by Christ; since it is evident that then they were employed, not materially, but significatively. And therefore it must be said that even when spoken by the priest they are taken significatively, and not merely materially. Nor does it matter that the priest pronounces them by way of recital, as though they were spoken by Christ, because owing to Christ's infinite power, just as through contact with His flesh the regenerative power entered not only into the waters which came into contact with Christ, but into all waters throughout the whole world and during all future ages, so likewise from Christ's uttering these words they derived their consecrating power, by whatever priest they be uttered, as if Christ present were saying them.

    [N.B. "Some have said that in this expression, "This is My body,"...  is uttered by a way of narration ...But such a view cannot hold good, because then these words would not be applied to the corporeal matter present, and consequently the sacrament would not be valid"  On some level, this goes beyond the debate on the proper words of consecration, for Saint Thomas holds that if the words were uttered as a narration "the sacrament would not be valid."  And this narration is precisely what is prescribed for Novus Ordo priests in the General Instruction on the Roman Missal (#55d) and in the so-called "Catechism of the Catholic Church" (#1353).  That this erroneous direction appears in what purports to be a universal catechism, it must be assumed that this direction to celebrate invalidly is binding of all priests of the Conciliar Church, no matter what rite they might use for Mass!  See Bulletin article for December 1997 ]

Source:   St. Thomas Aquinas, The Summa Theologica  (New York: Benziger Brothers, 1947), trans.Fathers of the English Dominican Province. 


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