Sacramental Definitions

What is sacramentum tantum?

sacramentum tantum is a Latin word that describes the sacramental elements. They are the physical matter that is presented to be offered up in the sacrament. In the case of the Eucharist it would be bread and wine. The literal translation in English is “matter alone”. In an of themselves they are only elements and not sanctifying.


What is res et sacramentum?

The Latin term res et sacramentum contains the whole of the sacrament. It is when the physical properties and the grace of God become one. The grace and the physical elements are united, and this is what makes the sacraments effective. It is this terminology that shows that the sacraments are more than just elements. They are physical elements, infused with God’s grace, that are used to bring us into deeper relationship with him.


What is res tantum?

Res tantum is made up of two Latin words that mean “thing alone”.   The “thing” that the phrase speaks of is the grace of God. This is the presence of the Lord God himself. Without this presence the elements of the sacrament remain merely physical. They would have no effect as a sacrament.

What is ex opere operato?

Ex opera operato is a term that refers to the work worked. This term is helpful when understanding how a sacrament is valid even if the one administering it may not be of the highest moral character. If everything is done through the church, and according to the command of Christ then the sacrament is valid. This term was also used in the medieval period to help keep maintain the relationship between the sacraments and faith and reason. The grace flows through the sacrament as long as the criteria mentioned above are met.


What is ex opere operantis?

Ex opera operantis is a term that refers to the work of the worker (Lecture Notes). Though a sacrament may be valid the disposition of the recipient must be in good order. We have a responsibility to cooperate with the grace given to us. We can block the grace of the sacrament by not believing what it truly it. Ex opere operantis and ex opera operato must work together as in any relationship.


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