Sacraments and Man´s Thirst for Transcendence

Worldwide Video-Conference Focuses on a Personal Encounter with God

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 17, 2001 (Zenit.org).- The Church´s answer to modern man´s thirst for transcendence is in the sacraments, a video-conference of theologians concluded.



The video-conference, the fourth such event organized by the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy, involved theologians from around the world Saturday.

"The world needs transcendence, it longs to know and experience that human life is grafted into divine life," the prefect for the Vatican congregation, Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, said when introducing the speakers.

"The sacraments of the New Covenant give man this capacity: to transcend what is limited and contingent, to be integrated in the immensity and eternity of God, and to recover ´the sacred meaning´ of his own existence, by living a ´new life´ of grace," he said.

The topic addressed by the theologians was "Sacramental Theology from Vatican Council II to Our Days."

The Colombian cardinal explained the importance of the sacraments in the Church, quoting the testimony of the martyrs of Abitine, in Roman Africa, punished with death at the time of Diocletian for celebrating Mass.

"We who profess the resurrection of Christ, as the foundation of the whole of the sacramental liturgy, repeat: We cannot live without the Lord´s sacraments!" the martyrs told their executioners.

Bishop Angelo Scola, rector of the Lateran University, also speaking from Rome, said that the sacraments are an authentic encounter of man with Christ "as his contemporary."

The bishop added: "The truth is effectively communicated in the sacraments, as it is a living and personal event that continues to be so in the living reality of the Church, which is made up of concrete persons."

"In fact, Jesus Christ, a living reality, can only communicate himself through another living reality: the Church," he concluded.

Other speakers were professor Aloysius Chang S. from Taiwan, Stuart Bate from South Africa, Alfonso Carrasco Rouco from Spain, Gregory Gaston from the Philippines, Michael Hull from the United States, Silvio Cajiao from Colombia, and Julian Porteous from Australia.

The round of talks returned to Rome with the addresses of professors Antonio Miralles and Giovanni Battista Mondin, and Auxiliary Bishop Rino Fisichella of Rome.

A recorded version of the conference may be followed on Web page http://www.clerus.org. The written texts in their original language may also be downloaded from this page.