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Dr. Lawrence Feingold

Touched by Christ: The Sacramental Economy” is an introductory course on how the Church’s sacraments constitute channels of grace, nurture supernatural life, and heal us from our sins. Lawrence Feingold astutely describes the nature of hte sacraments; their purpose, fittingness, and relationship with Christ and the New Covenant; their relationship with the Old Covenant rites that prefigured them; the character and grace that they communicate; and the nature of their causality. Touched by Christ shows that the sacraments of the New Covenant should be understood as intstruments of Christ’s humanity that are used as words of power to communicate the sanctification that they signify, infuse grace, communicate the Holy Spirit, and build up ecclesial communion in those who receive them with the right disposition.”  [From cover]

Touched by Christ is a monumental achievement. Lawrence Feingold provides a comprehensive study of Catholic sacramental theology and practice informed by Scripture, the Fathers, St. Thomas Aquinas, and the Magisterium of hte Catholic Church. This  volume touches on all the major areas of sacramental theology from the institution of the sacraments by Christ to topics such as sacramental causality, grace, matter, form, validity, liceity, and fruitfulness. I know of no other work on the sacraments that is so comprehensive, well-informed, and theologically sound as this one.”  Robert Fastiggi, Bishop Keven M britt Chair of Dogmatic Theology and Christology, Sacred Heart Major Seminary.



  • The Incarnation and the Sacraments
    The Good Samaritan and the Sacraments • The Blood and Water Flowing from the Side of Christ Represent the Sacraments
  • Goal of the Work – Principal Sources
  • Plan of the Work

Part I. Fittingness and Institution of the Sacraments

Chapter 1. Fittingness of the Sacramental Economy

    • The Sacramental Economy
    • Why Did Christ Institute a Sacramental Economy Using Sensible Signs?

Chapter 2. What are Sacraments? Development of the Definition of Sacrament

    • Sacrament and Mystery
    • Patristic and Medieval Definitions of Sacrament
    • Protestant Definition of Sacrament
    • Definition of Sacrament After the Council of Trent

Chapter 3. The Seven Sacraments

    • Fittingness of the Seven Sacraments and Their Harmony
    • The Eucharist Is the Summit of the Sacramental Economy
    • The Church Has the Nature of a Sacrament

Chapter 4. Christ Instituted the Sacraments

    • Scriptural Witness of Jesus’s Institution of the Sacraments
    • In How Specific a Manner Did Christ Institute the Sacraments
    • Reasons of Fittingness for the Insitution of the Sacraments by Christ

Part II. The Outward Sacramental Sign

Chapter 5. Matter and Form of the Sacraments

    • Four Components of the Sacramental Sign: Matter and Form, Minister and Subject
    • “Matter” and “Form” Applied to the Sacraments
    • Symbolism of the Matter of the Sacraments
    • Sacramental Form

Chapter 6. The Subject and the Minister of the Sacraments

    1. Intention of the Sacramental Subject and Minister
    2. Necessary Condition in the Recipient of the Sacraments
    3. Necessary Condition in the Minister of the Sacraments

Conclusion: The Personal Dimension of the Sacramental Sign

Part III. The Effects of the Sacraments

Chapter 7. Sacramental Character

    • Development of the Theology of Sacramental Character
    • How the Three Characters Differ
    • The Grandeur of Sacramental Character

Chapter 8. Res et Sacramentum

    • Res et Sacramentum in the Eucharist
    • Res et Sacramentum Applied to the Sacraments That Give Character
    • Res et Sacramentum in Matrimony
    • Res et Sacramentum in Anointing of the Sick
    • Res et Sacramentum in the Sacrament of Penance
    • Reflections on the Three Levels of the sacraments and the Importance of the Res et Sacramentum

Chapter 9. The Gifts of Grace Communicated by the Sacraments

    • Our Supernatural Endowment
    • Sanctifying Grace and the Habitual Gifts that Flow From It.
    • The Forgiveness of Original and Mortal Sin in the Act of Justification

Chapter 10. Sacramental Graces Proper to Each Sacrament

    1. Common and Proper Effects of the Seven Sacraments
    2. Sacramental Graces of the Seven Sacraments
    3. Conditions for Fruitfulness of the Sacraments

Part IV. The Instrumental Causality of the Sacraments

Chapter 11. Causality of the Sacraments as Instruments of Christ: The Theological Tradition to Aquinas

    • The New Testament on the Efficacy of the Sacraments
    • Sacramental Efficacy According to the Fathers of the Church
    • Medieval Theories of Sacramental Causality to Aquinas

Chapter 12. St. Thomas Aquinas on Sacramental Causality

    • The Sacraments are Not Mere Signs Guaranteeing the Infusion of Grace but Are True Causes
    • St. Thomas’s Solution: The Sacraments are Instrumental Efficient Causes
    • Objection: Can an Instrument Cooperate in the Infusion of Grace?
    • Aquinas’s Mature Theory of Twofold Instrumental Causality
    • Analogy of Human Words with the Words of God
    • Christ’s Human Acts are Privileged Instruments at Work Through the Sacraments
    • Summary of St. Thomas’s Contribution to Sacramental Causality

Chapter 13. Causality of the Sacraments Ex Opere Operato: The Reformation and Post-Tridentine Theories

    • Magisterial Teaching on Sacramental Efficacy Before Trent
    • Protestant Rejection of the Doctrine that Sacraments Operate Ex Opere Operato
    • The Definition of Sacramental Causality
    • Post-Tridentine Debate on sacramental Causality

Part V. Grace Given Through Desire for the Sacraments

Chapter 14. Sanctification Through the Sacramental Rites of the Old Covenant

    1. Sacraments of the Old Covenant Before the Promulgation of the Gospel
    2. The Rites of Israel After the Promulgation of the Gospel

Chapter 15. Sacramental Grace Received Through Desire

    • Three Ways to Gain or Grow in Grace
    • Necessity of the Sacraments
    • Development of Doctrine on Baptism of Desire
    • Spiritual Communion
    • Desire for the Sacrament of Penance
    • Desire for Confirmation
    • Importance of the Doctrine of Sacramental Grace Through Desire

Chapter 16. The Desire of the Church for the Salvation of Infants Who Die Without Baptism

    • The Thomistic Doctrine of Limbo
    • Reasons for Hope for the Salvation Infants Who Die Without Baptism
    • Arguments of Fittingness For and Against the Hope of Salvation for Those Who Die Unbaptized Before the Age of Reason
    • Conclusion • 1. Sacraments and the Development of Doctrine • 2. Fostering a Sacramental Spirituality

Select Bibliography

    • Magisterial Texts
    • Patristic Sources
    • Medieval, Reformation, and Renaissance Sources
    • Secondary Sources

Index of Subjects and Names
Scripture Index

Emmaus Academic, ©2021, Hard cover, 846 pages

Note: A series of 18 video lectures was given in 2020 by Dr. Feingold. Each of the lectures summarize the contents of the corresponding chapter in this book. You may view the lectures at: