The seven sacraments lie at the centre of Christian life and experience, for here God the Holy Trinity touches human lives and hearts. This book is one of the few at the present time to offer a global synthesis of the main themes in the sacramental mystery in which the human and divine, the material and the spiritual realms are intimately intertwined. Paul Haffner outlines how the sacraments are the chief means in the Church through which God's people are reconciled to the Father, through His Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit. The book illustrates classical issues like the conditions for the validity and the efficacy of the sacraments, as well as the minister, recipient and effects of these sacred mysteries; it deals with particular topics like the necessity of Baptism, the sacrificial character of the Eucharist, and the nature of marriage. As he examines each sacrament in turn, the author also explores how new ecumenical questions affect Christian sacramental understanding. 'I warmly commend this work on the subject of sacramental theology' Archbishop Csaba Ternyak Secretary of the Vatican Congregation of the Clergy Paul Haffner is lecturer in systematic and dogmatic theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University, the Pontifical Lateran University, the Pontifical Athenaeum 'Regina Apostolorum' and the Pontifical Institute 'Regina Mundi' in Rome. His publications include 'The Mystery of Creation', 'The Mystery of Reason' and 'The Mystery of Mary' - all also published by Gracewing.
"The first theologian in modern times to discover to our wonder and joy the fully sacramental character of the Mass was, doubtless, that profound and personal thinker, Abbot Vonier." - Fr. W. Barden, O.P.
In his greatest, and most influential masterpiece, Abbot Vonier gives a spiritually and intellectually enriching explanation of the Eucharist based on a careful study of “the great sacramental doctrine of the Church” found in the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas and the Council of Trent. Vonier writes, “To conceive the sacrifice of Mass as a sacrament is a simple visualization of a great truth which, if it be once grasped by the mind … makes all the difference between light and fantasy.” The great beauty and intellectual clarity of the Church’s theology as explained by Vonier reminds the reader over and over that “In theological matters the spark that illumines always comes from under the hoof of strict reasoning.”
This is a book of wisdom and insight that explains how providential are the trials through which the Catholic Church is now passing. The need of the Papal Primacy to ensure Christian unity; the true meaning of the Priesthood as a sacrament and not a mere ministry; the necessity of the Eucharist as the Sacrifice of the Savior now offering Himself on our altars; the role of the Bishops as successors of the Apostles, united with the successor of St. Peter, the Bishop of Rome; the value of suffering in union with Christ crucified; the indispensable service of the laity in the apostolate - all these themes receive from Cardinal Ratzinger new clarity and depth.