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THE ROLE OF THE CHURCH'S FAITH WITHIN THE SACRAMENTAL THEOLOGY OF BONAVENTURE1 During roughly the past two decades of Catholic sacramental theology, and especially in the wake of the Vatican II renewal of the liturgy, theologians have been investigating the diverse roles and functions of faith within the sacraments.2 This research, focusing mostly upon the principal theological sources and prominent theologians , like Thomas Aquinas, has retrieved a rich, old, and largely forgotten Catholic tradition concerning faith's multiple relationships to the sacraments. Hence, recent sacramental theology has experienced 1 The following essay was originally part of an unpublished doctoral dissertation on the role of faith in the sacramental theology of St. Bonaventure (Catholic University of Louvain, 1972); cf. RTL, 3 (1972), 118-20. This section has been appropriately updated and revised. 2 Some more important contributions are the following: E. Schillebeeckx, De sacraméntele heilseconomie: Theologische bezinning op S. Thomas' sacramentenleer in het licht van de traditie en van de hendendaagse sacramentsproblematiek (Antwerp: Nelissen, 1952), pp. 639-63; P. Fransen, Faith and the Sacraments (London: Blackfriars, 1958); idem, "Sacraments: Signs of Faith," Worship, 37 (1962), 31-49; J. Gaillard, "Les sacrements de la foi," Rev Thorn, 59 (1959), 5-31, 270309 ; idem, "Saint Augustin et les sacrements de la foi," ibid., 664-703; L. Villette, Foi et sacrement, 1: Du Nouveau Testament à saint Augustin, 2: De saint Thomas à Karl Barth (Paris: Bloud et Gay, 1959/1964). See also the growing awareness of faith's function manifested by certain recent monographs on the sacraments. For example, see M. Schmaus, Katholische Dogmatik, IV/1: Die Lehre von den Sakramenten (6th ed.; Munich: Hueber, 1964), 85-87, 122-34, 3r6-25; A. Winklhofer, Kirche in den Sakramenten (Frankfurt a.M., 1968), pp. 28-32; J. Ramos-Regidor, Il Sacramento delta Penitenza : Riflessione teológica bíblica—storico—pastorale alla luce del Vaticano II (3rd ed.; Turin-Leumann: Elle Di Ci, 1974), pp. 47-73. For collections of bibliography on various aspects of the faith-sacrament theme see the two volumes of Villette cited above. A concise historical, bibliographical survey has been compiled by A. Laurentin, "Bulletin bibliographique sur le problème 'foi et sacrement,' " Foi et sacrement: La sacramentalisation de non-pratiquants (E. Potel et al.; Bruges: Bíblica, 1964), pp. 51-68. See also R. Blomme, "Foi et sacrement de mariage," Coll Mechl, 50 (1965), 401-403; P. Fransen, "Sacraments as Celebrations," ITQ, 43 (1976), 151-70. Role of Church's Faith within Bonaventure's Sacramental Theology 207 a genuine rejuvenation, has opened up new approaches for productive ecumenical dialogue, and has provided necessary rationale for a sweeping liturgical revision. One of the most significant results to emerge from a study of the role of faith within the sacraments according to Bonaventure is the reality of ecclesial faith, the faith of the Church.3 In his explicit consideration of the virtue of faith in Book Three of his Commentary on the Sentences this notion of ecclesial faith is not treated as a central point. However, it emerges as an important theme in his sacramental theology, particularly in the discussions of the essential sign of baptism, baptism of infants, and the intention of the minister of the sacraments. For Bonaventure this ecclesial faith represents not only certain truths which the Church believes but also that subjective faith, habitual or actual, which abides in the Church as a community of devout believers and comprises there a general principle of salvation . Through faith the Church is joined to her savior and spouse and thereby receives the fullness of the grace merited by him in his Passion . The saving function exercised by this ecclesial faith within the sacramental economy of the New Covenant will now be investigated accordingly: (1) the Church's sacraments as efficacious through faith in the Passion, (2) the faith of the Church as a constitutive principle in the formation of a sacrament, (3) other sacramental functions of the Church's faith. 8 The major source material for this study comes from Bonaventure's systematic works, namely, those composed before his election as Minister General in 1257. Accordingly, certain crucial theological positions (on redemption, grace, the humanity of Christ) underpinning his...


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