Listers, the following lesson is taken from the Baltimore Catechism. The Baltimore Catechism was the standard catechism of teaching the faith and catechizing children from 1885 to Vatican II. Its basic question-and-answer approach is the most natural learning style for the human mind and simplifies even the most complex theological questions.
SPL and the Sacraments
4 Questions on the Sacraments from Aquinas
Part I: 11 Questions on the Sacraments
Part II: What Grace is Given in the Sacraments and 10 Other Questions
Part III: Sacraments of the Dead – 12 Questions on Sacrilege and Grace
On the Sacraments in General
Part IV: Questions 608-619
Q. 608. Can we receive the Sacraments more than once?
A. We can receive the Sacraments more than once, except Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders.
Q. 609. Why can we not receive Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders more than once?
A. We cannot receive Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders more than once, because they imprint a character in the soul.
Q. 610. What is the character which these Sacraments imprint in the soul?
A. The character which these Sacraments imprint in the soul is a spiritual mark which remains forever.
Q. 611. Does this character remain in the soul even after death?
A. This character remains in the soul even after death; for the honor and glory of those who are saved; for the shame and punishment of those who are lost.
Q. 612. Can the Sacraments be given conditionally?
A. The Sacraments can be given conditionally as often as we doubt whether they were properly given before, or whether they can be validly given now.
Q. 613. What do we mean by giving a Sacrament conditionally?
A. By giving a Sacrament conditionally we mean that the person administering the Sacrament intends to give it only in case it has not been given already or in case the person has the right dispositions for receiving it, though the dispositions cannot be discovered.
Q. 614. Give an example of how a Sacrament is given conditionally.
A. In giving Baptism, for instance, conditionally — or what we call conditional Baptism — the priest, instead of saying absolutely, as he does in ordinary Baptism: “I baptize thee,” etc., says: “If you are not already baptized, or if you are capable of being baptized, I baptize thee,” etc., thus stating the sole condition on which he intends to administer the Sacrament.
Q. 615. Which of the Sacraments are most frequently given conditionally?
A. The Sacraments most frequently given conditionally are Baptism, Penance and Extreme Unction; because in some cases it is difficult to ascertain whether these Sacraments have been given before or whether they have been validly given, or whether the person about to receive them has the right dispositions for them.
Q. 616. Name some of the more common circumstances in which a priest is obliged to administer the Sacraments conditionally.
A. Some of the more common circumstances in which a priest is obliged to administer the Sacraments conditionally are:
When he receives converts into the Church and is not certain of their previous baptism, he must baptize them conditionally.
When he is called — as in cases of accident or sudden illness — and doubts whether the person be alive or dead, or whether he should be given the Sacraments, he must give absolution and administer Extreme Unction conditionally.
Q. 617. What is the use and effect of giving the Sacraments conditionally?
A. The use of giving the Sacraments conditionally is that there may be no irreverence to the Sacraments in giving them to persons incapable or unworthy of receiving them; and yet that no one who is capable or worthy may be deprived of them. The effect is to supply the Sacrament where it is needed or can be given, and to withhold it where it is not needed or cannot be given.
Q. 618. What is the difference between the powers of a bishop and of a priest with regard to the administration of the Sacraments?
A. The difference between the powers of a bishop and of a priest with regard to the administration of the Sacraments is that a bishop can give all the Sacraments, while a priest cannot give Confirmation or Holy Orders.
Q. 619. Can a person receive all the Sacraments?
A. A person cannot, as a rule, receive all the Sacraments; for a woman cannot receive Holy Orders, and a man who receives priesthood is forbidden to receive the Sacrament of Matrimony.
Listers, Part IV concludes the Baltimore Catechism’s treatment of the Sacraments in General.