On the Intention Required in the Minister of the Sacraments
ON THE INTENTION REQUIRED IN THE MINISTER OF THE SACRAMENTS: A Summary of Dogma and Theology compiled by Christopher V. Mirus
PREFATORY NOTE: The following should not be considered a thoroughly researched presentation of the subject of the intention necessary in a minister of the sacraments. It is simply my own translation, accurate but not always graceful, of the writings of two orthodox, respected Catholic theologians of this century, Msgr. J.M. Hervé and Ludovic Cardinal Billot, on this subject. These two authors accurately present the Catholic doctrine on the intention of the minister of the sacraments, along with widely accepted and conclusively argued theological conclusions based on this teaching and on the nature of the sacraments. As the passage taken from Cardinal Billot is a commentary on the relevant question in St. Thomas Aquinas's Summa Theologica, I have included my translation of this question immediately prior to the remarks of Cardinal Billot. If it seem audacious of me to translate St. Thomas, when so many translations by those more competent than myself are available, it may be attributed to my desire to further polish my Latin skills.
Appended to these translations is a paper by Prof. William Marshner, of the Theological Faculty of Christendom College. Prof. Marshner takes up the argument more or less where the previous authors finish, and elaborates on an important point which Msgr. Hervé and Cardinal Billot mention only in passing. Finally, I have undertaken to point out some passages in Msgr. Hervé and Cardinal Billot which support the conclusion of Prof. Marshner, and have myself included a few remarks on this subject, which take the form of a summary of the doctrine.
MSGR. J.M. HERVÉ, S. Th. Dr.: THEOLOGIA DOGMATICA. VOL. III. Part 4: De Sacramentis in genere Chapter IV: De ministro sacramentorum.
ARTICLE I: Of the qualities requisite in a minister of the sacraments.
470. Intention is required for the valid administration of the sacraments; Faith and uprightness, however, are required, that the sacrament may be worthily performed.
We say nothing of attention or application of mind to the things which are done. No attention is required for the validity of a sacrament, but only that the matter and form be performed according to the proper ritual, along with the due intention. To confect the sacrament licitly, the minister must be free from any voluntary distraction, which nevertheless is probably not a grave fault, unless there is a danger of omitting something essential or otherwise notable.
. H. Schillebeeckx, De sacramentale heilseconomie, p. 455-484.
§ I. -- OF THE INTENTION OF THE MINISTER
471. The idea of intention. Intention is an act of the will tending towards a given end; in this case, it is the deliberate will of confecting the sacrament.
472. Classification of intention.
a) Classified according to its end, an intention is:
1. Jocose, or imitative, if the minister both externally and internally simulates the administration of the sacrament, with open derision.
2. External, if it is restricted merely to the external rite as such, excluding all other consideration. 3. Internal, by which the minister intends the rite as it is performed among Christians, or as it is intended by the Church, i.e., that it be a sacrament.
b) Considered according to its relation to the thing done, an intention is:
1. Actual, i.e., produced by an act, while the sacramental rite is being performed; in confecting the sacrament, the minister wills by an act to administer it: this intention is (actually) present and conscious.
2. Virtual, i.e., it precedes the performing of the sacrament in act, but remains during the performing in its power [virtute], so that the sacramental action is exercised under the influence of the intention, although the intention is not considered during the act. This intention is present but not conscious.
3. Habitual, i.e., it is produced before the act and never retracted, but does not influence the present act, and thus the act cannot be called a human act. This intention is had by one who is drunk or hypnotized.
Sometimes, though less correctly, habitual intention is called an ease of acting produced by the repetition of the act in question, without any previous intention. This may be had by a priest who, with diseased mind, takes advantage of an opportunity to ascend the altar to celebrate the Eucharist.
4. Interpretative, which the minister neither has nor has had, but would have if he were conscious of what he were doing.
c) Classified according to the manner in which the effect is intended, an intention is absolute, if it is not subordinated to any conditions; it is conditional, if it is held only on condition of something else.
d) Classified according to its object:
1. Determinate, i.e., directed towards a certain definite person or matter, v.g. the intention of a priest who wishes to baptizes an infant who is present.
2. Undetermined, if it is directed toward a person or matter insufficiently determined, v.g. the intention of a priest who wishes to consecrate five of the hosts present, but does not determine which five.
473. Errors and Opinions.
a) Errors: According to the Protestants, the sacraments are nothing but signs for arousing or increasing the faith of those who receive them. Consequently, no intention is required for the validity of the sacraments; it suffices that any kind of external rite be performed.
b) Theory of Catharinus: Catharinus teaches that "the material performance of the external rite, when it is performed freely, seriously, and without any jest," suffices for the validity of the sacrament, even if the minister has a contrary interior intention. Some others have welcomed this opinion, particularly some of the Faculty at the University of Paris, although they modify the opinion with the restrictive clause that "an external intention does not suffice unless the external rite, considered along with the circumstances of place, time, and the state of the minister, seems to those watching to be a sacrament."
. _De_necessaria_intentione_in_perficiendis_sacramentis_. Rome: 1552, p. 205ff; Salmeron, Serry, Drouin, and others believe likewise. Cf. Godefroy, _Dict._theol._, art. "Intention," col. 2273ff; art "Politi," p. 2432-33; Rambaldi, _L'oggetto_dell'intenzione_sacramentale_.... Rome:, 1944; Renwart, _N._R. Theol._," 1955, P. 800-821; 1075-1077.
474. Catholic Doctrine:
1. It has been defined, against heretics, that it is necessary for the validity of the sacrament that there be in the minister the intention *of doing what the Church does*.
2. In order to have this intention, moreover, it is commonly taught that a) it is not necessary that the minister will directly and explicitly to confect the sacrament or to perform the rite as instituted by Christ and productive of grace; b) nor does an external intention suffice, in the sense of Catharinus; c) but it is required, and also sufficient, that there be an internal intention, at least implicit, of performing the rite as it is customarily performed in the true Church, with all that this includes, or is thought, even falsely, to include, or of doing what Christians are accustomed to do through such a rite: for by so doing, the minister makes his own the intention of Christians.
3. Finally this intention ought to be at least virtual, equivalent to an absolute intention, and determined to a particular matter and person. Thus we derive the following thesis:
ASSERTION: For the validity of a sacrament it is necessary that the minister have the intention of doing what the Church does; indeed, he must have an internal intention, which must also be at least virtual, and at least equivalent to an absolute intention, and also determined as to the matter and person involved.
475. 1º An intention is necessary... (A dogma of the faith).
This is demonstrated a) From documents of the faith: In the profession of faith prescribed for the Waldensians by Innocent III (1208), there is required for the confection of the Eucharist "the faithful intention of pronouncing"the words of consecration"; likewise Martin V (1418), Eugenius IV (1439) and the Council of Trent (1547) require "in the ministers, while they confect the sacraments, the intention at least of doing what the Church does." And, according to Leo XIII (1897), the ordinations of Anglicans are invalid because the form has been changed, and because of a "defect of intention."
b) From Scripture: I Cor. 4:1: "Thus let man consider us as ministers of Christ and stewards [or dispensers: "dispensatores"] of the mysteries of God." Therefore he who confers the sacraments acts as a steward and minister of Christ, not in an undetermined way, but having been constituted as such by reason and liberty. And no one acts as a minister of Christ, unless he freely intends to do what Christ himself wills. Thus it is necessary that he who confects a sacrament, through his intention, subject himself to Christ, the principal agent of the sacrament. The Church however, as is plainly seen, conforms herself wholly to the will of Christ. And so he alone acts as a minister of Christ, who intends at least to do what the Church does [Cf. Jn. 20:21: "As the Father has sent me, I also send you." -- Mt. 28:19: "Going out therefore, teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." Cf. Lk. 22:19; Act. 2:38.].
c) From Tradition: Pope St. Cornelius, in the year 251, said concerning Novatian: "He, by a certain imperfect and vain imposition of hands, tried to transmit the episcopacy to himself by force." Firmilian of Caesarea, in the year 256, rejected the Baptism conferred by those obsessed. [An obsessed person is one whose body is physically controlled by a demon. It is unclear whether the term is here being used technically, or whether it refers to possession as well.] Nor can one hold up in objection the fact of the little children [or slaves: pueruli] baptized in play by St. Athanasius while he was still a boy, concerning whom Alexander, the bishop of Alexandria, judged after an examination that they should not be rebaptized. For these baptisms were not deemed valid, unless because there appeared the sincere and true intention of baptizing.
After various proposed solutions, by the beginning of the twelfth century, theologians were already speaking clearly of the intention required in the minister of the sacraments; and the formula "intention of doing what the Church does" was first used in _Praepositivus_ (1231).
d) By theological reasoning: "When a certain thing can have many ends, it ought to be determined through something else to one single end, if it that end is to be effected. For in truth those things which are done in the sacraments can be done for many different ends, as the washing with water, which occurs in Baptism, can be ordered to bodily cleanliness, bodily health, to sport, and to many other things of these kinds; and thus ought to be determined to one end, that is, to the sacramental effect, through the intention of washing."
. D. 424, 672, 695, 854. 1966. Cf. D. 752, 902, 919. . Eusebius, _Hist._ _eccl._ 6, 43, 9; Kirch, 254. . "Ep. 75", among ep. "Cypr." . Rufinus, _Hist._eccl._ 10, 15; cf. S. Aug., "De Bapt. 4, 24, 31; 7, 53, 102; J. 1632, 1639. . Cf. Lennerz, n. 116-142. . 3, q. 64, a. 8.
476. 2º An internal intention is required [Common and certain teaching].
A. This is demonstrated from the sense of the Church:
a) For the validity of the sacraments, the councils require, beyond matter and form, an intention in the minister of doing what the Church does. And indeed the minister certainly has this intention, or an internal intention, as they say, when he immediately, and certainly and seriously intends to perform a true sacrament or immediately and absolutely wills that a sacrament be present.
b) Not otherwise teaches the Council of Trent, saying that there is no absolution, if the confessor lacks the "serious resolve [of the will: "animus"] of truly absolving."
c) Alexander VIII, in the year 1690, condemned the following proposition of Farvacques, among the errors of the Jansenists: "A Baptism is valid when conferred by a minister who observes every external rite and form of baptizing, but within, in his heart, resolves to himself: not to intend what the Church does." Concerning this Benedict XIV said, "It cannot be denied that a grave wound [has been inflicted by this condemnation] on the aforementioned opinion (of Catharinus)." (In practice, he says, the safer theory, that which demands an internal intention, must be followed; if this intention is lacking, therefore, the sacrament must be conditionally renewed in case of necessity; otherwise the Holy See is to be consulted about what to do.)
The _Roman_Missal_ implicitly teaches likewise, declaring a consecration ineffectual if the priest, having before himself 11 hosts, intends to consecrate only ten, without determining which ten he intends, "because the intention is required." This intention is certainly secret and internal.
B. It is demonstrated by theological reasoning: The intention is required in the minister in order that he may act as a minister of Christ, and that he might determine the rite, in itself indifferent to many ends, to be sacramental [n. 475]. But a merely external intention does not suffice for this, as is obvious from what has been said; an internal intention, or an intention of truly doing what the Church does or what Christ wills.
. S. 14, cp. 6; D. 902. . D. 1318; cf. Innoc. IV, "3 Decret." t. 42, cp. 1 et "Decr. S. officii," 4 Aug. 1768. . "De Synod.," l. 7, c. 4, n. 8: Catharinus is defended by Bouesse, _L'economie_sacramentaire_, p. 358, and by Schillebeeckx, _op._cit._, p. 470-473; he is refuted by Renwart, _loc._ _cit._. . § 7. concerning the defects which may occur in the celebration of the Mass.
477. It matters little whether the minister also acts seriously in those accompanying acts from which his will to act as a minister of Christ can be inferred. For the circumstances themselves: 1. cannot make a rite in itself merely natural into a rite of the kind which Christ instituted; 2. cannot make a priest really act as a minister of Christ, if internally he does not wish to do so. It remains therefore that an internal intention is required in the minister.
488. Objection 1º: The sacraments produce grace "ex opere operato" (by the deed having been done). Ergo, whenever the external rite is seriously performed, grace necessarily follows, regardless of whether the minister has a contrary internal intention, just as seed sown in the earth yields fruit and as fire burns a rope, regardless of what the farmer or the one setting the fire internally wish.
R. 1. The sacraments are worked "ex opere operato" whenever they are and are performed according to the institution of Christ; but that they may be and may formally be performed according to the institution of Christ, they depend on the internal intention of the minister confecting and administering them. -- 2. Therefore the comparison with the causes cited is not valid, for these causes possess in themselves the power of acting, and immediately produce their effect and are applied, independently of any intention. If this comparison were valid, the external rite, even when accomplished merely to mimic the sacrament, would in fact be a sacrament, which is the heresy of Luther.
. 3, q. 64, a. 8, ad 1. . Cf. Franzelin, th. 17; Billuart, diss. 5, a. 7, prob. 6º.
479. Objection 2º: It is necessary that one can be certain of the validity of the sacraments: for otherwise the salvation of the faithful, and indeed perhaps the ecclesiastical hierarchy itself, are imperiled. But in fact, unless an external intention suffices, this certitude concerning the validity of the sacraments cannot be had, for an internal intention is known only to God. Therefore an internal intention is not required.
R. Concerning the validity of the sacraments one can have moral certitude, which suffices for acting prudently, and for dispelling anxieties of spirit. Thus Leo XIII: "When someone seriously and according to the ritual adheres to the due matter and form for confecting and conferring a sacrament, from this fact [considered according to the common manner in which men act] it may be inferred that he undoubtedly intends (with an internal intention) to do what the Church does." For indeed, if there be any such, they are extremely rarely found, who have such malice that while they perform the sacrament with serious exterior, they internally withhold the intention; and in such a case, the truth of the opinion of Catharinus would profit little, since a minister as perverse as this could most likely secretly falsify the matter and form of the sacrament.
But in fact Christ provided thus far for the hierarchy, promising the perpetual assistance of the Holy Spirit, lest the Church ever fail.
IN PRACTICE: Whatever one thinks in theory about the opinion of Catharinus, it is wholly illicit to follow it, since where the validity of the sacraments is concerned, the safer portion must always be chosen..
. Ep. _Apostolicae_curae_, 13 Sept. 1896; cf. 3, q.64, a.8, ad 2. . D. 1151.
480. 3º An intention at least virtual is required [Theolog. certain].
The intention of the minister is therefore necessary, that the rite may be performed in the person of Christ and so be determined to be sacramental. Furthermore, an intention which so influences the act that it is a "human act" is both required and sufficient.
Hence: 1. An actual intention is not required. For although an actual intention is best, and must be attended to before men on account of reverence for the sacrament, it is not within the power of man, whose mind is often and easily distracted to many things.
2. An interpretative intention does not suffice, since such an intention does not actually exist. Nor is a habitual intention sufficient. [The ancient scholastics sometimes say that a habitual intention suffices, but they call a habitual intention that which we call virtual.] For a habitual intention is not lasting, and thus does not influence the act and make it human.
3. An virtual intention is both required and sufficient, since, made earlier and not retracted, it remains by its power [virtute] and truly influences the act, making it human.
481. 4º An intention at least equivalent to an absolute intention is required [Theolog. certain].
An intention equivalent to an absolute intention is one which by its nature becomes absolute before the sacrament is accomplished.
Such an intention ought to determine the rite, by an act, to be sacramental; but it cannot do this unless it exists and exercises its influence at the moment in which the sacrament is confected [De Smet, n. 129.], in other words, unless it be absolute or equivalent to an absolute intention.
a) Such is an intention accompanied by a past or present condition, v.g. "if you are not baptized," or "if you are alive," I baptize you"; for in this case, if the condition is not met, the intention does not exist, nor can the sacrament be valid.
b) Any condition concerning the future invalidates a sacrament. For a rite conferred under such a condition is not valid when the matter and form are performed, for at that time the intention of the minister is lacking; nor is it valid when the condition is met, for the matter and form are no longer present. -- The sacrament of Matrimony must be excepted from this statement, since, when the condition is fulfilled, it becomes valid: for Matrimony follows the nature of a contract.
482. N. B. a) There is no sacrament even with a condition concerning a necessary future event v.g. "I absolve you, if the sun rises tomorrow," if the minister wishes that his intention depend on such a condition.
b) A condition which is hidden, and known to God alone, probably prevents the validity of a sacrament. For a sacrament ought to be administered in the human way of acting; therefore a condition which does not fall under the human condition can not be attached. In practice therefore such a condition should never be attached to the intention, lest the validity of the sacrament be rendered uncertain.
c) If the minister should hold two contradictory intentions, it must be determined which one of them prevails; v.g. the minister wishes to perform a sacred rite, but does not wish this rite be a sacrament. If the latter prevails in such a manner that it excludes the former, the sacrament is invalid; if both are equal, nothing takes place, for each negates the other; if doubt remains, the sacrament itself is doubtful.
d) Anyone who makes a sacrament invalid, whether by a defect of the due intention or by an attached condition, or who attaches a condition without grave cause, sins gravely [n. 391 ff.].
483. 5º An intention determined to matter and person is required [Theologically certain].
The sacramental action is not conferred on a thing vague and undetermined, but on a thing concrete and particular; likewise, the effect of the sacrament is not applied in general, with a sort of vague conception, nor can it remain undetermined, but it is applied to a certain clearly defined subject or subjects; v.g. man is not baptized in general, but this man, Peter; nor are hosts consecrated in general, nor three of the present hosts, but these three determinate hosts are consecrated, etc. However, only by the intention of the minister can the matter or the person be so determined, so that the sacrament is ordered to them.
In practice, the minister may be assumed to (and in fact ought to) direct his intention to the matter or the person present, whichever they may be, so that an error concerning the number of hosts to be consecrated, or the name, sex, or condition or the person, may not invalidate the sacrament; unless it is established that the minister really has restricted his intention exclusively to a determined person, or to a determined number of hosts.
An exception to this principle is the sacrament of Matrimony, in which the determination of the intention is not towards whichever person happens to be present, whether it be Catherine or Agatha, but towards a certain individual person, v.g. Catherine: in which case a marriage with Agatha would be invalid, unless one actually wished to contract marriage with the person present, whether it be Catherine or whether it be Agatha.
SUMMA THEOLOGICA OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. Tertia Pars, quaest. 64, art. 8
Whether the intention of the minister is required for the accomplishment of a sacrament.
Thus we proceed to the eighth article. 1. It seems that an intention of the minister is not required for the accomplishment of a sacrament. For in performing the sacraments, the minister acts instrumentally. But the action is not accomplished according to the intention of the instrument, but according to the intention of the principle actor. Therefore an intention of the minister is not required for the accomplishment of a sacrament.
2. Furthermore, the intention of another man cannot be known. If therefore the intention of the minister be required for the accomplishment of a sacrament, the one approaching the sacrament cannot know whether he is receiving a sacrament; and thus he cannot have certitude of salvation, chiefly because certain sacraments are necessary for salvation, as was said above (q. 55, a.3-4).
3. Furthermore, the a man's intention cannot be present when he is not paying attention. But sometimes those who administer the sacraments are not paying attention to what they say or do, thinking instead of other things. Therefore if an intention is necessary, the sacrament is not accomplished, because of a defect of intention.
But against this is the fact that those things which do not require intention are causal, which must not be said about the operation of the sacraments. Therefore the sacraments require the intention of the minister.
CONCLUSION: -- Since those things which are done in the sacraments can be done in diverse manners and for diverse ends, in the administration of the sacraments the intention of the minister, or of the Church, is necessary.
I respond by saying that when a certain thing can have many possible ends, it ought to be determined through something else to a one single end, if it that end is to be effected. For in truth those things which are done in the sacraments can be done for many different ends, as the washing with water, which occurs in Baptism, can be ordered to bodily cleanliness, bodily health, to sport, and to many other things of these kinds; and thus ought to be determined to one end, that is, to the sacramental effect, through the intention of washing; and this intention is expressed through the words which are said in the sacraments, when he says for example, "I baptize you in the name of the Father," etc.
To the first objection therefore, it must be said that an inanimate instrument does not have any intention with respect to the effect; but in place of the intention is the motion, with which it is moved by the principal agent. But an animate instrument, like the minister, is not only moved, but also in a certain way moves himself, inasmuch as by his will he moves the members to acting; and thus his intention is required, by which he subjects himself to the principle agent, so that, in other words, he intends to do what Christ and the Church do.
To the second it must be said, that concerning this there are two opinions: for some say that a mental intention is required in the minister, and if this is lacking, the sacrament is not accomplished; but this defect in children, who do not have the intention of approaching the sacrament, is supplied by Christ, who baptizes internally; in adults, however, who intend to receive the sacrament, faith and devotion supply for that defect. But this can be said rightly only for the ultimate effect, which is justification from sins; but as far as the effect which is immediately signified, the sacrament itself, in other words, as far as the character, is does not seem that it can be supplied through the devotion of the one approaching. -- And so others say better, that the minister of the sacrament acts in the person of the whole Church, whose minister he is; and in the words which he pronounces, the intention of the Church is expressed, which suffices for the accomplishment of the sacrament, unless a contrary intention on the part of the minister or of the one receiving the sacrament is expressed externally.
To the third it must be said, that one who is thinking about something else does not have an actual intention, but nevertheless has a habitual intention [Here St. Thomas uses "habitualis," where we would now use "virtualis." This is shown by his use of the word "virtus," noted below.], which suffices for the accomplishment of the sacrament, since the priest, when going up to baptize, intends in baptizing to do what the Church does; thus if afterwards in the exercise of the act itself, his thoughts are carried away to something else, by virtue [virtute] of the first intention the sacrament is accomplished. Let the minister of the sacrament attentively take great care that he may have also an actual intention, but this is not completely placed within the power of man, since although a man wishes very much to intend, he begins to think of others things, according to the saying of Ps. 39, verse three, "My heart has abandoned me."
LUDOVIC CARDINAL BILLOT, S.J. ON THE SACRAMENTS OF THE CHURCH: A COMMENTARY ON THE THIRD PART OF ST. THOMAS, VOL. 1.
THESIS XVIII (q. 64, a. 8)
It is Catholic dogma that for the validity of a sacrament, there must be in the minister the intention of doing what the Church does. Moreover, it is commonly and truly held that an external intention, as they call it, does not suffice, but that an internal intention is required.
The intention of doing what the Church does, whatever that may be in the opinion of him who administers the sacrament, is said to be required. Thus St. Thomas: "Although he who does not believe that baptism is a sacrament, or does not believe that it has any spiritual power, does not intend when he baptizes to confer a sacrament, nevertheless he intends to do what the Church does, even if he counts that as nothing; and because the Church intends to do something, therefore, as a consequence of this, he intends implicitly to do something, though not explicitly." But it is not necessary that the minister think as the Church does, or that he not err concerning her teaching; for it is enough if his intention is towards something which is identically that which the Church intends, or, something which amounts to the same thing, for example, if he intends to do that which Christ instituted, or which is commanded in the Gospel, or which Christians are accustomed to do according to the prescription of their religion. (Thus it is apparent how even a Jew or a pagan can have an intention sufficient for baptizing. Consider for example a catechumen placed in a moment of necessity, who asks a pagan saying, "Do for me, I entreat you, this mercy, that you pour water on me, pronouncing the words, 'I baptize you,' etc., with the intention of doing what I myself intend to receive according to the prescription of the law of Christians.)
Although, however, all Catholics agree in asserting the necessity of the aforesaid intention, in the sixteenth century a certain new opinion was introduced by Catharinus, asserting that a merely external intention suffices. Furthermore it is called external, not because considered in itself it is not internal, but because the whole intention is directed towards external appearance; for according to Catharinus, it consists in the will by which someone wishes to conduct himself externally as a serious minister of the sacrament, although within himself he intends to ridicule or to imitate. Nevertheless, most of the few theologians who agree with Catharinus say that the aforesaid external intention does not suffice unless the minister in question confects the sacrament in the place and sacred vestments according to the customary rite of the Church, for, they say, through these circumstances an exterior rite in itself indifferent is determined to be sacramental.
Furthermore, the opinion of Catharinus is not held in honor by the anathema of Trent. "I deem," says Pallavicini, "that the opinion proscribed by Trent is the same which Leo X condemned in Luther by his Constitution: viz., that the sacrament was instituted by Christ in such a manner, that even if the minister carries it out in manifest derision and mockery, the effect follows... But in truth the Catholic theologians whom we have enumerated, agree in demanding for the efficacy of a sacrament the will, not only of following the external action, considered physically, which the Church prescribes, (which will is likewise present in the man who administers the sacrament in jest), but of exercising his action through the exterior ceremony of a man acting seriously, and through the appearance of a man directing that ceremony where the Church directs it." -- No less to the contrary is the most common teaching of theologians, to which one must completely hold fast. It teaches that an internal intention is required, one which in other words is not directly wholly to the exterior appearance, but is an intention by which the minister not only wishes to refrain from all show of simulation as regards the action which appears outwardly, but also truly resolves within himself, "I wish to do that which the Church does."
. S. Thom., in IV, D.6, q.1, a.3, q.2, ad 1um. . Pallavicini, Hist. of the Conc. of Trent. l.9, c.6. . Trent, Sess. VII, can. 11 on the Sacraments.
1. AN INTENTION IS REQUIRED, as the Council of Trent defined in the place already cited: "If anyone says that there is not required in the ministers, while they confect and confer the sacraments, an intention at least of doing what the Church does, let him be anathema."
The revelation of this truth, moreover, is contained implicitly in those places of Scripture, in which the dispensers of the sacraments are called ministers of Christ and of God, for example, in the oft-praised testimony of the Apostle, I Cor 4:1. For in order that a man be in act a minister of Christ in the confection of a sacrament, he ought to have the intention of doing that which Christ instituted and which the Church does. And the reason is that the minister differs in this way from an inanimate instrument: that he is an agent of his own free will, having the mastery of himself. Moreover, it is necessary that such an instrument move himself, subjecting himself through his intention to the principal agent, whom he ought to assiduously serve. Whence, anyone who in jest or derision merely materially does that which is commanded, can in no way be said to minister to the one commanding, unless by chance the mere materiality of something was committed to his ministry, which can not be said at all of the present case. (Undoubtedly, the general principle is that the minister, insofar as he is a minister, ought to have the will of doing that which he was committed to his ministry, just as and in as much as it was committed. For if anyone for example be sent by his master to a poor man, that he may bestow alms upon him, his ministry is not to almsgiving formally as such, but only to the material act of handing over money. And thus the will of the materiality alone suffices, to which can be joined any other intention whatsoever, even contrary to the intention of the master. But he who is sent as a minister or delegate in order to make an agreement, does not indeed perform the part of a minister by holding only the simulated intention of making an agreement. Further, since the Scriptures say that the dispensers of the sacraments are ministers of Christ and of God, they indubitably teach that they are ministers of the sacraments as sacraments. The sacraments, however, as sacraments, are not just some rites materially received; their whole formality is from the institution of Christ. Hence, the intention of doing that which Christ instituted is necessarily included in what it is to be a minister of Christ in the sacraments.)
A theological reason follows most clearly from what has been said so far, for it is by the institution of Christ alone that the sacramental signs signify sacramentally, that is, by a sacred and practical or efficacious signification. Further, the institution of Christ cannot bring about that the words themselves, "I baptize," "I absolve," etc., should bear some significance beyond what they receive or can receive from the common meaning imposed by men, merely from the fact that they are materially pronounced. Moreover, they certainly cannot by the common meaning imposed by men go beyond the simple order, of empty signs, and constitute a spiritual washing, or an absolution of sins, or other things of this kind. And thus they are not elevated to the transcendent state of the sacraments, which are not empty and simple signs, but are efficacious. Therefore the rites of baptism, of absolution, of consecration, etc., can not signify sacramentally unless there be something through which the force of the institution of Christ is channeled to them, and through which they are invested therewith. The principle, moreover, which determines the exterior rite to stand under the institution of Christ, can be nothing other than the will of a minister who intends not to jest, nor to recite the formula materially, nor to attempt that which is not in his power, or anything else of this kind, but to do that itself which Jesus Christ established in his [Christ's] one religion, and commanded him [the minister] to do in his [Christ's] name. And in this way, according to the decree for the Armenians, the minister intending to do what the Church does, or, speaking abstractly, the due intention of the minister, is the cause by which the sacrament is efficaciously accomplished.
(Note here that by reason of this intention, the action of the minister is most rightly said to be morally or imputatively an action of Christ. Now, however, since the intention of the minister is not one of the things which constitute the sacrament itself, but only plays the part of an efficient cause, that which is truly called an action of Christ is not the sacrament itself, but the confection of the sacrament. This also follows from the fact that the sacrament itself is not the operatio, but the operatum [not the doing of the thing, but the thing done: the result], as is clear also from the formal element alone, which is not the speaking, but the word. It is, I say, the operatum, in that the power [virtus] of institution descends precisely because the confection of the operatum is an act of the institutor working through his minister. And thus all things agree and fit together. Otherwise, nothing will happen, which fact you may certainly observe against the proponents of moral causality.)
2. AN INTERNAL INTENTION IS REQUIRED. -- To this point is addressed the following proposition condemned by Alexander VIII. "A Baptism is valid when conferred by a minister who observes every external rite and form of baptizing, but within, in his heart, resolves to himself not to intend what the Church does" [Enchirid., n. 1185.]. Let the opponents of this belief say whatever they wish about this condemned proposition, for it is obvious that this statement concerns one who seriously, as far as exterior appearance, performs the sacramental rite, as is clear from the opposition between that which he externally carries out and that which he internally resolves; for otherwise, if the minister were shown to be simulating as much outwardly as inwardly, the exterior method of acting would not be opposed to the internal intention of the heart, which is not what this statement says.
Furthermore, related reasons show even better the necessity of an intention which is fixedly internal. For the force of the institution of Christ cannot be channeled into that which is externally carried out merely by the type of intention which Catharinus thought up; and neither can it do so by reason of the circumstances, the vestments, etc. For even then, with all these circumstances, the exterior rite can be the truth of the thing, a mere historical representation, a derisory simulation, or an empty ceremony. -- And this is confirmed, in that he who has an external intention alone, differs not at all from an actor, except that an actor is an open derider, while the other is a secret one. But no derider, whether open or secret, can be called in the act itself of simulating a minister and instrument of Christ, truly intending what the Church does, as Trent requires. -- This is confirmed secondly in that even in human affairs, whenever an intention is required for the validity of an act, it is required that the intention be fixedly internal. Just as is every contract it is proper that there be a will [voluntas] in respect to the object itself of the contract, and not only a will of behaving externally in the manner of one who gives consent. Nor is it relevant that in the human forum, a contract may be held as valid by this alone, that it holds up as regards external consent. For it is held as valid because it is always presupposed that an internal consent was present as well. If however, it could be established that this was lacking, the act would be declared null even in the external forum. The same may be said concerning a judge declaring a sentence, concerning a legislator promulgating a law, etc. And the argument is the same in the case which we are discussing.
FIRST OBJECTION: Insofar as the intention of the minister is necessary, it is necessary in order to determine an exterior rite which otherwise could have many possible ends. But the exterior rite is sufficiently determined through the form. Therefore no intention is required.
I respond: I distinguish the major premise. If the intention is said to be required in order to determine the exterior rite, in the manner of the a form, which is a part intrinsically constitutive of a sacrament, I deny the major. If it is said to act in the manner of a principle joining the sacramental sign with the institution of Christ, and making the force of his institution flow into the sign, I concur with the major. I contradistinguish the minor, and I deny the consequence. -- In other words, the sensible element determining the rite, as a constitutive part of it, is indeed the word, spoken externally, and the word is therefore rightly designated by the name of "form." But it cannot determine an act to sacramental signification, unless it stands subordinate to the positive institution of Christ. The cause, however, through which both the matter and the form receive the investiture of this institution, is none other, nor can be, than the intention by which the minister wills to do that which Jesus Christ commissioned his Church to carry out.
SECOND OBJECTION: The ecclesiastical annals testify that a certain mimic actor, baptized in a theater, suddenly confessed himself to be a Christian, and the validity of the baptism was also confirmed by a miracle and a vision. But the intention was lacking, as much on the part of the minister as on the part of the recipient. There for no intention is required for the validity of the sacraments.
I respond, that the ecclesiastical annals testify that the aforesaid actor was suddenly converted by an extraordinary grace of God, and was furthermore crowned as a martyr not long afterwards, so that now he is honored by the Church as a saint. However, this does not really follow from the miracle and the vision in testimony to the baptism which he had received. However, admitting the truth of the fact, it will be said that the baptizer, as well as the baptized, truly had the intention of giving and receiving that which Christians transmit, though they believed that to be nothing, and worthy of derision in the theater. Furthermore, the end [in this case: reason for acting] of the one performing the rite matters nothing; the only thing that matters is that, for whatever reason, the internal will of doing what the Church does be present.
THIRD OBJECTION: An intention is invisible, but all the things necessary for the validity of the sacraments and the impression of the character ought to be visible. Further, one of the reasons that the necessity of faith or of the state of grace in the minister was excluded, was that otherwise all the sacraments would be full of anxiety and uncertainty. But the same reasoning argues against the necessity of an intention at least internal.
I respond, that an internal intention is certainly in itself invisible, but is made visible through the external action with which is connected, if not with metaphysical or physical necessity, then certainly with moral certitude. This follows from considering the common manner way in which men act. For it is completely natural that a man internally intend that which he does externally; and so, when he celebrates a sacrament of the Church, through this fact itself he shows that he wishes to do what the Church does, especially since there is not reason for a man to be tempted to simulate, since this simulation does not bring any temporal benefit, as is obvious. Distinguish, therefore, moral certitude from that metaphysical certitude which is never required in things pertaining to human relations. For who would say that the validity of a marriage or of any contract, is not sufficiently certain, from the fact, which no one denies, that interior consent on the part of those contracting it is necessary? -- Hence there is a great difference between internal intention, and internal faith of goodness: not only because the intention alone is demanded in the minister by the nature of the matter, but also because in many cases, it can happen that someone is destitute of grace, even if he is apparently good. For this reason, if the state of grace were necessary in the minister, the validity of the sacraments would not be established even with moral and human certitude. But the internal intention of doing what Christ instituted, or certainly that which Christians believe instituted by Christ, is so naturally connected with the action of externally ministering, that unless a man makes a positive effort to intend the opposite of what he does externally, (and this cannot possibly happen as a general rule), such an intention is always sufficiently present. Therefore whenever no sign of simulation appears in the action of the minister, the validity of the sacrament is well enough established, with moral and human certitude.
FOURTH OBJECTION: St. Thomas, in the present question, ad 2um, says: "Some say that a mental intention is required in the minister, and if this is lacking, the sacrament is not accomplished . . . And others say better, that the minister of the sacrament acts in the person of the whole Church, whose minister he is; and in the words which he pronounces, the intention of the Church is expressed, which suffices for the accomplishment of the sacrament, unless a contrary intention on the part of the minister or of the one receiving the sacrament is expressed. But an intention which is opposed to a mental intention, an intention which is always held, as long as the minister does not express anything contrary to the intention of the Church, is nothing other that the external intention asserted by Catharinus. Ergo etc.
I respond that a mental intention is here taken in the same sense as when we speak of mental prayer as opposed to vocal. And by mental prayer is understood that which, since it is not connected with any external act, is accomplished within, in the soul. Prayer which is not mental, or vocal prayer, is not indeed that which carries only the intention of externally acting in the manner of one praying, as hypocrites do; certainly this is not the case. Vocal prayer is that which has the internal act joined with the external, and conforming itself to vocal recitation. And such is the case in the present question. For a mental intention in the sense of St. Thomas, is an intention not ordered though the external celebration of the sacrament, but through the minister's own mind or his personal conviction, by which, in other words, he intends something which he himself considers and believes to be a true sacrament, efficacious of sanctification. And this is rightly excluded as not necessary. But an intention not mental is an intention conforming itself to that which is externally done, and which is always know with sufficient moral certitude when the minister expresses nothing contrary to the intention of the Church, which is contained in the words of the form. Furthermore, at the time of St. Thomas there was not even a faint idea in the schools of the external intention of Catharinus.
IN A FINAL OBJECTION IS CITED Augustine, l.7 de bapt. c.53, where he says among other things, "It matters nothing to the integrity of a sacrament in the Catholic Church, whether those who perform it do so falsely or truly, since they both nevertheless do the same thing."
But it must be said that falsehood, or simulation, is two-fold. First, there is a falsehood by which someone simulates the intention of doing what the Church does, and concerning this Augustine does not write. Then there is a falsehood by which someone, thinking the sacrament to be nothing but an empty ceremony, nevertheless assumes the appearance of a believer by carrying out the sacramental rite. It is this falsehood which Augustine treats of, as is extensively shown by Billuart, de. Sacr. Diss. 5, art. 7. But this is hardly to the point, as our conclusion has been more than sufficiently established by what has been said already.
An internal intention merely habitual is not sufficient in the minister; however, an actual intention is not required; it stands therefore that and intention at least virtual is required and sufficient.
An intention merely habitual does not suffice, when this is understood to be an intention which proceeds the act and has not been retracted, but here and now neither actually nor virtually influences the act. For such an intention can exist even in the insane, the drunk, or the sleeping, whom no one calls a valid minister of the sacrament.
Nevertheless, an actual intention is not required, because this is not held to be within the moral power of man, since it often happens that his thoughts are distracted to other things without his consent. It is certainly impossible that the validity of the sacraments should require that which is not within the moral power of men.
Therefore, a virtual intention is both required and sufficient. Such an intention, since it precedes the act, remaining is its power [in virtute], still influences the act. And it is this intention which St. Thomas, in response ad 3um, calls habitual. "The minister of the sacrament ought to strive to control his thoughts as much as he can, so that in the words of the sacramental form, he most preferably should have an actual intention. But man's thoughts are so prone to wandering, even if an actual intention is not present at the time when the words are pronounced, as long as he has intended earlier, and no contrary intention has intervened, the sacrament is not impeded, for he works through the force of his principal intention. For it is not necessary that, in a work, the intention be always joined with the act, but it suffices that the work proceed from the intention."
. In IV, D.6, q., a.2, ad 4um.
MR. WILLIAM MARSHNER, OF THE THEOLOGICAL FACULTY OF CHRISTENDOM COLLEGE:
THE PROBLEM OF WHAT INTENTION IS REQUIRED IN THE MINISTER OF A VALID SACRAMENT.
The following points are common ground for all theologians.
(1) Everybody accepts the doctrine of the Council of Florence (_Decree _for_the_Armenians) to the effect that one of the things required for the validity of the Sacrament is that the minister intend to do what the Church does.
(2) Everybody agrees that, in order to be intending to do what the Church does, the minister need not have inward faith in the Church, in the efficacy of her mysteries, etc. Hence it is agreed that heretics or even pagans can perform certain Sacraments -- at least baptism -- provided only that they observe the form and intend to do what the Church does or "what Christians do." This point is especially important, because it means that everybody acknowledges the difference between not believing that p and intending that not-p. For instance, not believing that Christ becomes really present at the consecration is very different from intending that He not become present. Granted, an ignorant or heretical priest, who fails to believe that Christ becomes present, *might also*, when celebrating, intend that He not become present; but such an intention would be odd and extraordinarily malicious. The normal thing is that, when a person has no belief that something happens, he has no reason to intend that it not happen.
(3) Everybody also agrees that, in order to be intending to do what the Church does, the minister must seem to be carrying out the prescribed rite correctly and with gravity. Hence it is agreed that rituals carried out in plays, in jest, or with tell-tale omissions and deformations are not valid Sacraments.
(4) Finally, it is agreed by all that when a minister is awake and sane, it is valid to infer from his overt, correct performance of the rite that he "intends" at least to perform the rite correctly. This inferred intention is called "external intention," and, by point (3), it is *necessary* for validity.
These points having been granted, the controversy is over this question:
In order for the minister to be intending to do what the Church does, so as to celebrate validly, is it *sufficient* that he have the merely inferred or external intention of doing so?
Catharinus argues for the affirmative answer as follows. "What the Church does" in celebrating a Sacrament is perform the rite according to the established form. Therefore, "intending to do what the Church does" is intending to perform the rite according to the established form. Now, by agreed point (4), this latter is what may be inferred from correct, overt performance and hence is the "external intention." Therefore having the external intention is intending to do what the Church does and hence is a sufricient condition, together with the matter and form, for validity.
This argument may be strengthened by a natural analogy. Suppose Jones is a member of a football team. He and his teammates are on the playing field with another team. Passes, runs, and tackles are being made. At half time, an especially stupid reporter asks the members of the team what they have been doing. They all say, "Playing football, of course" -- all except Jones. Jones says that all the while he was seeming to play, he had the internal intention of not playing. Surprised and indignant, his teammates press him with questions: "Do you mean that you were playing crookedly? Not giving it your best erfort? Intending to throw the game?" Jones says, "Not at all. I deliberately saw to it that my external perrormance was flawless; in my heart, however, I kept intending not to play." Everyone is mystified, and justly so. For the fact is that Jones's position is incoherent. One's immediate overt performance has the character of a *means* to what one intends to do. So Jones is saying that he played football in order not to play -- indeed, that he intended to play in order not to play, or, at least, that he intended to play while not playing. All he has suceeded in doing is contradicting himself. The fact remains that he played, and he has no coherent way of denying it. Similarly, a minister who did what the Church does has no coherent way of denying that he did, and intended to do, so.
Most theologians reject Catharinus's argument on the following ground.
The Council of Florence defined that three things are necessary for a valid Sacrament: the matter, the form, and the minister intending to do what the Church does. No theology which would make this list vacuous or redundant is tenable. Now since the correct external performance both includes the matter and form and implies the external intention, Catharinus's claim of the sufficiency of the external intention reduces to the claim of the sufficiency of the performance itself and hence to the claim of the sufficiency of the matter and form. So the third thing listed by Florence becomes redundant. Ergo, Catharinus's position is not tenable, and a purely external intention cannot be sufficient.
This argument from authority can be strengthened by four further arguments.
First, against the alleged analogy from football, it must be observed that ball-playing and confecting a Sacrament are not similar events. Ball- playing is an event which consists wholly of natural, physical motions, whereas the Sacramental event includes, besides the minister's motions and speech acts, an invisible, supernatural occurrence. Without incoherence, the minister's intention could be directed against this latter, invisible part but not against his own, visible part. Therefore the analogy fails.
Secondly, external intention is (by definition) that and only that which can be inferred from overt performance. But a person (e.g. a pagan performing what looks exactly like a baptism) might be going through that performance without knowing that what he is doing is something the Church does. Therefore, external intention does not *of itself* include or presuppose knowledge of what the Church does. By contrast, intending to do what the Church does obviously does presuppose knowing that what one intends to do is what the Church does. Therefore having the external intention is not identically intending to do what the Church does, as Catharinus tried to claim. I owe this observation to Mr. Peter Scheetz.
Thirdly, Catharinus's position seems to entail that no *other* intention of the minister can have any impact on the validity of the Sacrament he is performing, so long as his external intention is reflected in correct performance. If this were true, then the proposition of Francis Farvacques would be true (see Pourrat, p. 390; Denz. 318 = Denz.-Sch. 2328). But that proposition was condemned by Pope Alexander VIII (ibid.). Therefore, unless Catharinus's position is taken to have unexpressed restrictions, it has a condemned entailment and so is false.
Fourthly, as already suggested in rejecting the football analogy, it is possible to challenge Catharinus's first premise. "What the Church does" in celebrating a given Sacrament is not simply the liturgically correct performance of the rite but also the conferral of its supernatural effect on the well-disposed. It is appropriate to say, after all, that what the Church does in baptizing is save souls, that what the Church does in eucharist is bring Christ onto the altar and communicate Him to the faithful, etc. Therefore, in order to intend to do what the Church "does," it is not enough to intend simply to perform one of her rites correctly. Perhaps one must also intend to accomplish what she accomplishes, or confer what she confers, through that rite. Alternatively, perhaps one must merely abstain from harboring an intention not to accomplish what she accomplishes. Either way, the purely external intention does not suffice.
(Be it noted that while this last argument coheres especially well with the physical-instrumental theory of Sacramental causality, it does not depend on it. For suppose the theory of moral causality is correct. Suppose, in other words, that the only direct effect of the Sacramental rite is to "cause" God to confer grace in keeping with the (New) Covenant which He made in instituting the Sacrament. Nevertheless, the Church will perform her rite intentionally as an act of the New Covenant. She will act with the intention that God confer the grace promised, just as a man who presents a cheque to a bank-teller acts with the intention that the teller should cash it. So, again, whoever intends to do what the Church does either must intend to act with this intention or, at least, must intend to act without any contrary intention.)
In my opinion these arguments are conclusive. The claim that having the external intention to perform a Sacramental rite is, in all respects and in all cases, a sufficient condition for intending to do what the Church does, is refuted.
What, however, is the contrary thesis? We seem to be left with several alternatives.
First, there is an ambiguity which needs to be cleared up in agreed point (2). It was conceded there that "not believing that p" (which would include having no convictions at all whether p) had no tendency to incline one toward "intending that not-p." remains to be seen whether the positive status of believing (perhaps very strongly) that not-p has a similar lack of impact upon one's internal intention.
Secondly, regarding the internal intention itself, the arguments against Catharinus have left open two widely different alternatives. They are:
(1) that in order to be intending to do what the Church does in a given rite, a minister must have both the external intention to perform it and also the internal intention (actual or virtual) to confer what the Church confers through the rite; or else
(2) that in order to be intending to do what the Church does in a given rite, a minister must have the external intention to perform it and also must not have an internal intention, actual or virtual, which is a contradictory of the intention to confer what the Church confers through the rite.
The first of these alternatives poses two serious difficulties.
First, taking baptism as an example, this alternative requires that the minister of baptism have an internal intention to confer the spiritual character and/or grace. Let q be the proposition that this baptism will confer those spiritual goods; let q' be the corresponding purpose that this baptism shall confer them. Then this alternative requires in the minister an internal intention that q'. Now suppose the minister is an occult heretic or a consumer of dissident theology, who believes that baptism has no ontically supernatural effects or, for that matter, holds any proposition which entails the falsity of q. Then he cannot possibly intend that q'; for one cannot intend to have happen what one believes does not happen. And so it would go for the rest of the Sacraments. Therefore, on this alternative, sacraments conferred by occult heretics as well as other sorts of unbelievers will be invalid. Thus, as the defenders of Catharinus have always warned, an immense uncertainty will spread over baptisms, over ordinations, and thence over the entire sacramental system of the Church, at least in many minds. This is "inconvenient" to say the least.
Secondly, this alternative casts grave doubt on agreed point (2) concerning the non-necessity of internal faith. For suppose, using the same example of baptism, that the minister merely (a) has no conviction at all whether q or (b) has no knowledge even that Christians believe q to be true (though he does know that baptizing is something Christians do). In the latter case, (b), the minister cannot possibly intend that q' (unless he receives a private revelation on the spot). In the former case, (a), it would be at least odd and difficult for the minister to intend that q'. For without a conviction whether q, the minister might hope that q but could not easily intend that q'. Or, he might form a conditional intention; e.g. he might intend that q'-if-God-exists, or q'-if-baptism-works, or q'-if- Christianity-is-true, etc. But none of these conditional purposes is identically q'; it is not clear whether they satisfy the requirements of this first alternative or not. A theologian who defends this alternative will have to decide and then defend his decision.
I call the first alternative the strong thesis on internal intention. None of its difficulties affect the second alternative, which I call the weak thesis. For even an occult heretic who strongly believes that not-q will have no reason or inclination to intend that not-q', where 'not-q' ' stands for any intention contradictory to q'. The normal intentions of occult heretics or theological dissidents are not contradictory to q'. For example, such a person might perform this baptism just to make the parents and godparents happy, or just to welcome the child into the Christian community, or just to keep a job with the diocese, avoid hassles, etc. None of these banal intentions amounts to, or implies, the intention that grace not be conferred by this baptism. In fact, among those who are not good Catholics, no one has less reason to intend the non-efficacity of the Sacrament than someone who positively believes there is no such efficacity. Hence ordinary occult heresy or theological dissidence will pose little danger of hidden invalidity, on this second alternative. What does pose such a danger -- almost the only thing that poses it -- is something vastly rarer and perhaps infinitely more malicious, namely, the conviction that this Sacrament, validly performed, could confer grace, coupled with the determined intention that it not do so. Such a combination would characterize the mind of a demon.
Hence the second alternative, which I call the weak thesis on internal intention, preserves intact all of the agreed points, retains all the pastoral advantages of Catharinus's position, and yet excludes the condemned error of Farvacques. Consistent with all authentic Church teachings on this subject, it is the alternative which the present writer defends -- not only because it is orthodox but also because it is philosophically cogent.
NOTES BY CHRISTOPHER V. MIRUS
I. There are several statements in the writings of Msgr. Hervé and Cardinal Billot which imply or state the "weak thesis" of Professor Marshner. I would like to ennumerate these in order to link these two articles with that of Professor Marshner.
A. Msgr. Hervé
1. 474 c) "It is required, and also sufficient, that there be an internal intention, at least implicit, of performing the rite as it is customarily performed in the true Church, with all that this includes, or is thought, even falsely, to include."
This implies that the minister can intend that which he thinks the Church does, even if he thinks wrongly. It does not address the question of whether this is also the case for formal heretics. I believe that it is not, because a formal heretic who intends what he believes, formally holds an intention which is a contradictory of what the Church does.
2. 477. "The circumstances themselves . . . cannot make a priest really act as a minister of Christ, if internally he does not wish to do so."
This implies that a contradictory intention is necessary to invalidate the sacrament.
3. 479 R. "For indeed, if there be any such, they are extremely rarely found, who have such malice that, while they perform the sacrament with serious exterior, they internally withhold the intention."
This also implies the necessity of a contradictory intention (by simply refusing to intend what the Church intends).
4. 482 c) "If the minister should hold two contradictory intentions, it must be determined which one of them prevails; v.g. the minister wishes to perform a sacred rite, but does not wish this rite to be a sacrament."
This implies that, if there is not contradictory intention, the intention to perform the sacred rite automatically implies the intention to do what the Church does, as explained below, part II.
B. Cardinal Billot
1. "The intention of doing what the Church does, whatever that may be in the opinion of him who administers the sacrament, is said to be required."
See above, I.A.1.
2. Resp. to the 3rd objection "For it is completely natural that a man internally intend that which he does externally. . . . [T]he internal intention of doing what Christ instituted, or certainly that which Christians believe instituted by Christ, is so naturally connected with the action of externally ministering, that unless a man makes a positive effort to intend the opposite of what he does externally . . . such an intention is always sufficiently present."
As Msgr. Hervé and Cardinal Billot point out, the reason that some intention is necessary is that the person performing the sacrament must be acting as a minister of Christ. Now no one acts as a minister of Christ without intending to do so. Thus the minister must intend to perform what Christ instituted: namely, a sacrament, with all that this entails. This statement requires some explanation
First, it is not necessary that the minister explicitly intend to act as a minister of Christ. Ideally, he does intend explicitly to do what Christ instituted. However, this same intention can be made implicitly in one of two ways, as stated by the Council of Trent. 1) The minister can intend to do what the Church does. 2) The minister can intend to do what Christians are accustomed to do. Either of these intentions contains implicitly the intention to do what Christ instituted, and this is why the Church has stated that a minister of the sacraments must have *at least* one of these intentions.
Second, Christ instituted the sacraments to have their effects "ex opere operato." This means that the performing of the sacramental rite with due matter and form is the *cause* of the sacramental effects. Thus normally, if the minister intends to seriously perform the sacramental rite as Christ instituted it, or as the Church performs it, or as Christians are accustomed to perform it, this necessarily carries with it the intent that the sacred rite bring about its effects. In other words, the intention to perform the rite that Christ instituted is sufficient to constitute someone a minister of Christ. When such a person performs this rite, a sacrament takes place.
There is, however, a catch. Since it is the intention of the person that constitutes him a minister of Christ, is it not possible that he could at the same time have a contradictory intention, which as it were destroys the first intention and prevents him from acting as a minister of Christ? In fact, this is possible. If the minister, knowing that Christ instituted the sacrament to have certain effects, real or imagined, deliberately intends that these effects not take place, he has by this intention contradicted his intention to perform the sacred rite as Christ instituted it. He separates himself from the institution of Christ; he is thus not acting as a minister of Christ, and no sacrament can take place. As Professor Marshner noted, such an intention would characterize the mind of a demon.
The same reasoning given in this last paragraph also applies to the intention to do what the Church does, or what Christians are accustomed to do, since these are actually ways of intending to do what Christ instituted.
All of the above boils down to the following statement. For the validity of a sacrament, the minister must have the intention at least of doing what the Church does. This intention must be internal and at least virtual. Such an intention is naturally linked to the performing of the rite prescribed by the Church, and so is always sufficiently present unless it has been destroyed by a contradictory intention.
When the minister has such an intention, and when he uses the proper matter and form, the sacrament is always valid.