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Sacraments Quiz

by William Redic

Below is the quiz I administer to my 9th and 10th grade Catechism students. Even though I am not the world's best teacher, they do pretty well after 10 to 15 weeks of instructions.

The Questions:

1. List the seven sacraments.
2. What is the simple, three-point definition of a sacrament?
3. Which sacrament is the most necessary for salvation?
4. Which three sacraments leave an indelible mark on the soul, and can only be received once?
5. Four of the sacraments utilize anointing oils. List them. Put a star next to the two sacraments in which anointing is part of the essential action of the sacrament (not just part of the solemn ritual).
6. What is the remote matter of Baptism? What is the proximate matter?
7. Who is the ordinary minister of Confirmation? Who can also administer it in special cases?
8. In which two sacraments is the matter "supplied" by the person(s) receiving the sacrament?
9. Which sacrament is called the "Lay Sacrament" and why is it called that?
10. Two of the sacraments are called social sacraments. Which ones are they, and why are they referred to in that way?
11. What are the two "Sacraments of the Dead"? How does that name make sense if, as we discussed, sacraments can only be received by live human beings?
12. What does the Latin phrase "ex opere operato" have to do with the valid administration of the Sacraments? (Bonus: what is the other, very similar phrase, and what does it mean?)
Extra credit: who designed the Miraculous Medal, what does it look like, and what else do you know about it?

The Answers:

1. List the seven sacraments.
Baptism, Confirmation, Penance, Holy Eucharist, Matrimony, Holy Orders, Extreme Unction.

2. What is the simple, three-point definition of a sacrament?
i) An outward sign ii) instituted by Christ iii) to give grace.

3. Which sacrament is the most necessary for salvation?
Baptism

4. Which three sacraments leave an indelible mark on the soul, and can only be received once?
Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders.

5. Four of the sacraments utilize anointing oils. List them. Put a star next to the two sacraments in which anointing is part of the essential action of the sacrament (not just part of the solemn ritual).
Baptism
Confirmation*
Holy Orders
Extreme Unction*

6. What is the remote matter of Baptism? What is the proximate matter?
Remote matter- water
Proximate matter- pouring of (or immersion in) water

7. Who is the ordinary minister of Confirmation? Who can also administer it in special cases?
Ordinary minister: the Bishop
In special cases: a priest

8. In which two sacraments is the matter "supplied" by the person(s) receiving the sacrament?
Penance and Matrimony

9. Which sacrament is called the "Lay Sacrament" and why is it called that?
Matrimony is called the Lay Sacrament because the actual ministers of the sacrament are the two people getting married. (Although any lay person can also administer Baptism in case of dire need, the usual minister of that sacrament is the priest.)

10. Two of the sacraments are called social sacraments. Which ones are they, and why are they referred to in that way?
Matrimony and Holy Orders are called social sacraments, because they are primarily meant for the benefit of society, not for the individuals receiving them.

11. What are the two "Sacraments of the dead?" How does that name make sense if, as we discussed, sacraments can only be received by live human beings?
To quote one of my students: "Baptism and Penance are considered sacraments of the dead, in the sense that our soul is dead to grace. Before Baptism it is dead because it has original sin. In Penance our sins, (mainly mortal) have robbed our soul of sanctifying grace."

12. What does the Latin phrase "ex opere operato" have to do with the valid administration of the Sacraments? (Bonus: what is the other, very similar phrase, and what does it mean?)
The sacraments, if administered by one with proper power and authorization, with the proper intention, and using the prescribed matter and form, operate "Ex opere operato." That means "by the deed done;" that is, by the very fact of the action's being performed. The point is that the validity of a sacrament is not dependent on the personal holiness or faith of the minister, since Christ is the principal minister and it is He who is actually conferring grace, not the human minister.

The other, similar phrase, "ex opere operantis," means "from the doer of the deed," and refers to the disposition of the minister or recipient.

13. Extra credit (picture of a Miraculous Medal shown, which was discussed as a sacramental): What is this medal called, who designed it, and what else do you know about it?
The design of the Miraculous Medal was given to a nun, St. Catherine Laboure, at the convent on the Rue du Bac in Paris in 1830 by the Blessed Virgin. The inscription in English means "O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee." The medal has worked numerous conversions.

I hope you all got 100%!!

About the term "Lay Sacrament": to emphasize, the two lay people involved in a marriage are not only the *normal* ministers of the sacrament, they are the *only possible* ministers of matrimony. The priest is there but to witness and bless the union, and of course to offer the Nuptial Mass.

And a bit more about "ex opere operantis": the disposition of the recipient of a sacrament is important in that it effects the fruitfulness of the sacrament. That is, my disposition controls how much or how little good the grace of a sacrament does for me.

"Ex opere operantis" applies very clearly to sacramentals. Not only to medals, scapulars, etc., where the good they do depends on the disposition of the wearer, but also for the sacramental called Exorcism. That is why only the very holiest priests are given that job - the effectiveness of the ritual of exorcism depends very much on their personal sanctity. Which explains why, for example, exorcists fast and confess their sins before three priests before doing an exorcism.

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