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THE COMPOSITION OF THE SACRAMENTS ACCORDING TO THE 'SUMMA DE SACRAMENTIS' AND THE 'COMMENTARIUM IN IV SENTENTIARIUM' OF ST. ALBERT THE GREAT This study on the composition of the sacraments according to St. Albert the Great is divided as follows: after a brief examination of Albert's doctrine on the composition of the sacraments in genere the composition of each sacrament in specie will be explained; this treatment of the sacraments in specie wiU be restricted to those points necessary to an understanding of the terminology and general doctrine of Albert as weU as for an assessment of the place he occupies in the history of the question. The second section will then be devoted to a study of the terminology used by St. Albert. In the last section a comparison will be made between the doctrine ofAlbert and that of his predecessors. The sources used in these pages are the Summa de sacramentis1 and the Commentarium in IV Sententiarum2 of St. Albert. It is quite certain that Albert wrote the Summa de sacramentis before the Commentarium; the Commentarium in IV Sententiarum was committed to writing in 1249s ar>d the Summa between about 1240—1242.4 i. EXPOSITION OF THE DOCTRINE OF ST. ALBERT A. The composition of the sacraments in genere Neither in the Summa de sacramentis nor in the Commentarium in IV Sententiarum does Albert devote much time to the question of the 1 The references to this work are to the manuscripts Biblioteca Nazionale , Conventi Soppressi (S.M.Nov.), Florence, G. 5, 347 f. ira—35 vb (= F), and to Bibliothek der Justus Liebig-Hochschule, Giessen, 720 f. 11ora —223ra (= G). 2 Throughout the article this work will be referred to as the Commentarium . All citations are from theOpera omnia (ed.Borgnet.Paris 1890—1899). 3 Commentarium d. 35 a. 7 ad 3 urn. (30, 354 a). 4 Pending the conclusions of the editors of the new critical edition of the works of St. Albert these dates would seem to be established from the conclusions of O. Lottin, Commentaire des Sentences et Somme théologique d'Albert le Grand, in Recherches de théologie ancienne et médiévale 8 (1936) 117—153; confer also the introduction by B. Geyer to the De bono of St. Albert , (ed. Kühle, Feckes, Geyer, Kübel) Münster 1951. 12 Franciscan Studies, 19561 77 178C. MURRA Y composition of the sacraments in genere; in fact the solution which Albert proposes is found not in a separate article but under the heading, Quid sit sacramentum ? According to Albert the notion of a sacrament of the New Law is best expressed in the definition formulated by Hugh of St. Victor: Sacramentum est corporale vel materiale elementum foris sensibiliter propositum ex similitudine repraesentans, et ex institutione significans, et ex sanctificatione continens aliquam invisibilem et spiritualem gratiam.5 This definition alone enumerates the three things which according to Albert are necessary for every sacrament. These three things are: a certain material element, a property of this element which consists in its signification, and a causality or sanctification: Cum enim in sacramento tria sint, scilicet proprietas significans, et res cuius est illa proprietas, et sanctificatio causans ex forma sanctificati." In the definition of Peter Lombard — "Sacramentum est invisibiHs gratiae visibilis forma, cuius simiUtudinem gerat, et causa existât" — Albert sees only two of the essential elements, namely, the property, and the principle of causaUty. Albert describes the material element as id ex quo sacramentum primo et materiaUter componitur; for example baptism is composed of the element water. The sacramental sign however is constituted not only by this material element but also by its property: "Unde cum tinctio in baptismo non sit primum componens sed post primum, et similiter proprietates rerum in aüis sacramentis non possunt dici elementa sed iUa quorum proprietates quia iUa prima sunt."7 For Albert the proprietates rerum are simply the simiUtudines mentioned in the definition of Hugh of St. Victor. In another text Albert refers to the material element, its signification, and its causality towards grace: Ad aliud quod licet causalitas non extendat se ultra significationem, non tarnen oportet quod ab eodem sint significatio et causalitas, sed sufficit...


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