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The Matter and Form of Sacraments

Last week I expanded upon the definition of Grace and noted that it is the giving of God’s Grace (the freely given, unearned, and undeserved gift of God’s love active in our life) that makes the Sacraments so important in our life. Today, I want to touch briefly on more aspects of the Sacraments in general before moving into a discussion on each particular Sacrament.

When a bishop, priest or deacon celebrates any of the Sacraments, he must follow the proper matter and form for that Sacrament in order for it to be a valid Sacrament. In the context of the Church, the word proper means required. They cannot be changed by the priest or anyone else.  Each of the seven Sacraments have proper matter. The matter of a Sacrament is what is used as the sign of the Sacrament, either material things or gestures. The form of a Sacrament is the words that are used in the conferring of the Sacrament. I will use the Eucharist as an example. The proper matter of the Sacrament of the Eucharist is unleavened wheat bread and 100% grape wine (color doesn’t matter). The proper form of the Eucharist is the Words of Consecration “take this all of you and eat of it….”

Fr. Kevin