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Ex Opere Operato

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Definition:   Latin for “by the operation of the work being performed,” the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church are deemed to produce their intended consequence when they are administered. They are much more than a memorial sign or symbol of a Christian truth. The sacraments are not dependent on the holiness of the priest or bishop, but are dependent on the receptiveness of the recipient. Catholicism teaches that her sacraments are necessary for salvation. Baptism imparts the sanctifying grace that begins the process of salvation; Penance provide the second, third, fourth, etc. chance for sinners to recover salvation; Holy Communion is the holy food which helps in growth toward salvation; Confirmation strengthens the Catholic with the Holy Spirit to assist them in works of service so that they can eventually be saved; Anointing of the Sick gives special strength of perseverance to the gravely ill that they might be saved; Holy Matrimony and Holy Orders contribute to salvation through service to others.

Discussion: Catholics attempt to be saved by receiving and cooperating with the sacraments mediated through their Church. From birth to death they are dependent on the Church for entrance into heaven. Assurance of salvation is impossible, since they must persevere to the end before they can be deemed worthy of heaven.  The Bible says that salvation is by faith in Christ apart from “the operation of the work being performed” (Rom. 3:28). It is sad indeed that the Catholic sacraments, while feigning power, are in reality impotent to bring about the finished work of salvation – a salvation that was accomplished by Jesus at the cross and is apprehended by faith (Gal. 3:2).

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