faith, Louis-Marie Chauvet, sacrament

Chauvet on Sacramentality and Faith

And for the best quote yet:

Just as empirical writing is the phenomenal manifestation of an arch-writing that constitutes language as the place where the human subject comes into being, so the sacraments can be appreciated as the empirical manifestation of the “arch-sacramentality” that constitutes the language of faith, which is the place where the believing subject comes into being. this arch-sacramentality is a transcendental condition for christian existence. It indicates that there is no faith unless somewhere inscribed, inscribed in a body — a body from a specific culture, a body with a concrete history, a body of desire. Baptism, the first sacrament of the faith, shows this well: the plunge into water, together with this “precipitate” of the Christian Scriptures, which is the mention of the names of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, is a metaphor for being plunged into the body of signifiers — material, institutional, cultural, and traditional — of the Church: assembly, ordained minister, sign of the cross on the forehead, book of the Scriptures, confession of faith, remembrance of Jesu Christ and invocation of the Spirit, paschal candle… All these are symbolic elements that are inscribed on the body of every baptized person, his or her scriptural body on which they are bestowed as a testament. One becomes a christian only by entering an institution and in lettering this institution stamp its “trademark,” its “character,” on one’s body.

The faith thus appears to us as “sacramental” in its constitution, and not simply by derivation. Our existence is Christian insofar as it is always-already structured by sacramentality, better still, as it is always-already inscribed in the order of the sacramental. It is thus impossible to conceive of the faith outside of the body.

Louis-Marie Chauvet, Symbol and Sacrament: A Sacramental Reinterpretation of Christian Existence, Translated by Patrick Madigan, S.J., and Madeleine Beaumont, pg. 154-155.


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