“For the authenticity of the secrets, the formulas and matter cannot be modified.”

“For the authenticity of the secrets, the formulas and matter cannot be modified.”

In the face of continuing liturgical abuses, the Department for the Doctrine of the Faith affirms, in the memorandum “Gestis Verbisque”, that the words and elements stipulated in the essential rite of each sacrament cannot be changed, because in this case there is no sacrament. .

Vatican News

Titled “”Verbal gestures” the Memorandum from the Department of the Doctrine of the Faith Released this Saturday, February 3rd. A text discussed and approved by the member cardinals and bishops at the last plenary session of the Chamber, and thus approved by Pope Francis, through which it was affirmed that the formulas and material elements specified in the basic rite of the sacrament cannot be changed by will in the name of creativity. Thus, in effect, the secret itself is invalid, and thus never existed at all.

Fernandez Show

Introducing the document, Cardinal Victor Fernández, Dean of the Dicastery, explains its genesis, that is, “a multiplicity of situations in which it was necessary to prove the invalidity of the sacraments celebrated” with modifications that “later led to the need to trace the persons involved in repeating the rite of baptism or confirmation.” Many believers correctly expressed their concerns.

We mention, for example, the changes in the baptism formula, for example: “I baptize you in the name of the Creator…” and “In the name of the father and mother… we baptize you.” Circumstances that also worried some priests, who “having been baptized with formulas of this kind, painfully discovered the invalidity of their ordination and of the sacraments which had hitherto been celebrated.”

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The Cardinal explains that “while there is ample room for creativity in other areas of the Church’s pastoral work,” in the context of the celebration of the sacraments “this matter becomes a ‘manipulative will’.”

Priority to God's work

“With events and words closely interconnected – we read in the doctrinal note – God reveals and carries out his plan of salvation for every man and woman.” Unfortunately, “it should be noted that the liturgical celebration, and in particular the celebration of the sacraments, is not always carried out in complete fidelity to the rituals imposed by the Church.” The Church “has the duty to ensure the primacy of the works of God and to preserve the unity of the Body of Christ in those unparalleled works, because they are sanctified “par excellence” and with the effectiveness guaranteed by the priestly work of Christ.” The Church also realizes that administering God’s grace does not mean appropriating it, but rather becoming an instrument For the Spirit in transmitting the Easter gift of Christ, it knows, in particular, that it is… Potestas “Concerning the sacraments before their essence” and that “she must, in the sacramental actions, preserve the saving works entrusted to her by Jesus.”

Material and form

The note therefore explains that “the question of the sacrament consists of the human action through which Christ acts. Sometimes there is a physical element present (water, bread, wine, oil), and other times there is a particularly eloquent gesture (sign of the cross, laying on of hands, immersion, infusion, assent, anointing).”

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As for the form of the secret, it “is composed of the word that gives matter a transcendent meaning, changing the ordinary meaning of the material element and the purely human meaning of the work that is performed. Such a word has always been inspired, in varying degrees, by Scripture, has roots in living ecclesiastical tradition and has been defined with authority by the Magisterium of the Church. Therefore, matter and form “never depended, and cannot depend on the will of one individual or one group.”

Can't change

The document reiterates that “in all the sacraments, in every case, observance of matter and form has always been required for the authenticity of the ceremony, knowing that arbitrary modifications of the one and/or the other – nullifying their gravity and power, are checked from time to time, to the detriment of effective conferment.” For secret grace, with obvious harm to believers. What is read in the liturgical books issued must be faithfully preserved without “adding, removing or changing anything.”

The art of celebration

The liturgy allows for diversity that preserves the Church from “strict uniformity” as stated in the Conciliar Constitution Sacral concilium. But this diversity and creativity, which enhance the clarity of the ritual and the active participation of the faithful, cannot be related to what is essential in the celebration of the sacraments.

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