• Title: Liturgy 101: Sacraments and SacramentalsLiturgy101
  • Author: Daniel Van Slyke STL PhD
  • Paperback: 144 pages   ($13.50 to $15)
  • Publisher: Liguori Publications (December 31, 2010)
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764818455

Note: This was one of the books that was used in a class (Introduction to Liturgy and Sacraments) I just finished at Sacred Heart Major Seminary.  The first important question to ask is what do sacraments have to do with prayer? Sacraments are liturgy, and in that liturgy, the minister of the sacrament prays to God, and by the power of the rite itself, grace is given to the recipient. The next important question is “What is a Sacrament?”. From the Catechism:
The sacraments are efficacious signs of grace,
instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church,
by which divine life is dispensed to us.” (CCC 1131)

Final question: What is grace?  “Grace is God’s eternal life”, St. Thomas Aquinas, (Summa III, q.73, a.4.)

Now with all of that as a background…
The book has a chapter for each of the sacraments, and organizes the study of each by following what is called the “Essential Rite”.  The essential rite has four parts: matter, form (the prayer), minister, recipient.  In addition to an explanation of each one of these four parts, each chapter covers where in Sacred Scripture that specific sacrament can be found. Also covered in each chapter are the “effects” of the sacrament, what does the grace of that sacrament specifically do to the recipient of the sacrament.  While the book is too small to include the entire prayer (the form) said by the minister, it does include the main part of each sacrament’s prayer.

This book does a great job of explaining the sacraments and all that surrounds the sacraments.  I read the book along with the sections in the Catechism of the Catholic Church that cover the sacraments.  The two have some overlap, but are also complementary, in that reading both will help someone studying the sacraments to effectively learn.  My advice to someone who does not have money for this book, or who just wants to learn a little, read the Catechism starting at: Section Two. The Seven Sacraments Of The Church (CCC 1212). The “In Brief” sections of the CCC are a great summary.

In his concluding chapter, the author brings up a point that there is a crisis in the Church with regard to the sacraments.  People in the Church today are not understanding the sacraments and are not receiving them as frequently as they should or could.  The reading / studying of a small, but effective book like this would go a long way to helping people understand the beauty, power, responsibility and grace that is in the Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church.

A related post: see my post here for a prayer of renewal of sacramental grace.