Understanding Divine Mercy Sunday

clearly: “Moreover, not only are all the other sacraments ordered toward the Eucharist, but they produce their proper grace only in virtue of their relationship to the Eucharist. The Eucharist alone has of itself the power to confer grace, while the other sacraments confer grace only in virtue of the desire (votum) which their recipients have of receiving the Eucharist also. St. Thomas elaborates further: “This sacrament [of the Eucharist] has in itself the power to confer grace. No one has grace receiving this sacrament except by a certain desire (votum) to receive it, the person’s own desire in the case of an adult, or the Church’s desire in the case of infants, as has been said above (Summa, III, q.73, art.3). Accordingly it is from the effectiveness of its power that even from the mere desire to receive [this sacrament] a person obtains grace whereby he is spiritually alive. Still it is true that when the sacrament itself is actually received, grace is increased and the spiritual life is perfected. ...It is by this sacrament, however, that grace is increased and the spiritual life is perfected, in order that man may be made perfect in himself through his being conjoined to God” (Summa, III, q.79, art.I ad I. See also parallel passages). Following St. Thomas on this matter, the Church clearly teaches that all the other sacraments are directed towards the Eucharist and draw their power from it. In the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy from the Second Vatican Council, for example, we read “Especially from the Eucharist, grace is poured forth upon us as from a fountain.” And, in the Catechism of the Council of Trent, pastors are urged to “compare the Eucharist to a fountain and the other Sacraments to rivulets. For the Holy Eucharist is truly and necessarily to be called the fountain of all graces, containing, as it does, after an admirable manner, the fountain itself of celestial gifts and graces, and the Author of all the Sacraments, Christ our Lord, from whom, as from its source, is derived whatever of goodness and perfection the other sacraments possess.” The centrality of the Eucharist as the fountain of all sacramental graces has also been clearly taught in the writings of great contemporary theologians. In Theological Dimensions of the Liturgy, for example, the great 20th century scholar Cyprian Vagaggini, OSB, argues persuasively that “the Eucharist, therefore [is the] sacrament and sacrifice, which realizes to the full the common notion and end of all the sacraments.” He writes: All that has been said of the sacraments, that they are ordained to the Eucharistic sacrifice, can be said with even greater reason about all those rites in