Ex opere operato

Ex opere operato is a Latin phrase meaning "from the work done" referring to the efficacy of the Sacraments deriving from the action of the Sacrament as opposed to the merits or holiness of the priest or minister.

According to the teaching of the Catholic Church, to receive the fruits of the sacraments requires that a person be properly disposed. This means reception of grace via the sacraments is not automatic. There must be, at least in the case of an adult, an openness to receive the grace which is available in a sacrament. When the recipient is properly disposed, the grace of the sacrament is effective and is received even if the priest or minister is in a serious state of sin. This principle gives a certainty to the availability of grace through the sacraments.

This principle holds that the effect of the sacrament is a result, not of the holiness of a priest or minister, but rather of Christ Himself who is the Author (directly or indirectly) of each sacrament. The priest or minister acts "in persona Christi" (in the person of Christ) even if in a serious state of sin. Although such a sacrament would be valid, and the grace effective, it is nonetheless sinful for any priest to celebrate a sacrament while himself in a state of sin.

The principle of ex opere operato affirms that while a proper disposition (openness) is necessary to receive grace in the sacraments, it is not the cause of the grace. Catholics believe that what God offers in the sacraments, is a gift, freely bestowed out of God’s own love. A person's disposition, as good as it may be, does not automatically bring God's blessing.

In the Anglican tradition, the principle of "ex opere operato" is made conditional upon worthy reception. Article XXVI of the Thirty-nine Articles (Of the unworthiness of ministers which hinders not the effect of the Sacrament) states that the ministration of the Word (Scripture) and sacraments is not done in the name of the priest or minister and that the effect of Christ's sacraments is not taken away, nor God’s grace diminished by the sinfulness of clergy. This is because sacraments have their effect due to Christ’s promise to His Church.

However, in modern usage, the phrase often refers to the idea that sacraments are efficacious in and of themselves rather than depending on the attitude either of the minister or the recipient. For example, Confirmation might be held to bestow the Holy Spirit regardless of the attitude of both the bishop and the person being confirmed.


The principle regarding sacramentals is that they operate ex opere operantis Ecclesiae (i.e. from the working of the Church) as well as "ex opere operantis" (i.e. from the action of the doer). With regard to sacramentals, it is the teaching of the Catholic Church that their efficacy is derived from the prayer and good deeds of the Church as well as the disposition of the one making use of the sacramental. Sacramentals dispose the soul to receive grace and may remit venial sins when used prayerfully.

See also

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Ex opere operato — (lat.: „durch die vollzogene Handlung“, „das, was durch das Tun an sich geschieht ) heißt: etwas wirkt unabhängig von der Einstellung dessen, der es tut, und unabhängig von der Einstellung dessen, an dem und für den es getan wird. In der… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • ex opere operato — ex ọpere operato   [lateinisch »durch die vollzogene Handlung«], in der katholischen Dogmatik Bezeichnung für die »objektive« Wirkungsweise der Sakramente aufgrund ihres richtigen Vollzugs. * * * ex ọpe|re ope|ra|to [lat. = durch die vollzogene …   Universal-Lexikon

  • ex opere operato — ˈräd.(ˌ)ō Etymology: Medieval Latin, literally, from the work done : in virtue of the action used of a sacrament considered independently of the merits of the minister or the recipient; compare ex opere operantis …   Useful english dictionary

  • ex opere operato — ex ope|re ope|ra|to <lat. ; »durch die vollzogene Handlung«> Ausdruck der kath. Theologie für die Gnadenwirksamkeit der Sakramente, unabhängig von der sittlichen ↑Disposition des spendenden Priesters …   Das große Fremdwörterbuch

  • EX OPERE OPERATO —    a medieval CHRISTIAN theological CONCEPT expressing the idea that the SACRAMENTS are effective regardless of the worth of either the Minister or the recipient. In this way they become at best mechanical, at worst MAGICAL. BAPTISM for example… …   Concise dictionary of Religion

  • Ex opère operato —  (лат еде ланной работой) в католической традиции представление о том, что действенность таинства зависит от правильности его совершения, а не от духовной благости того, кто его совершает. Подчеркивается значение таинства как объективного дара… …   Вестминстерский словарь теологических терминов

  • ex opere operato —    This Latin phrase (meaning from the work performed ) refers to those actions whose grace or validitydepends on the performance of the work, not on the merits of the one performing the action; for example, the validity of thesacraments depends… …   Glossary of theological terms

  • ex opere operantis — ek|sōpərēˌōpəˈräntə̇s Etymology: Medieval Latin, literally, from the work of the worker : in virtue of the agent used of a sacrament considered in relation to the conditions required for its valid administration or for its worthy reception;… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Sacraments — • Presents the necessity, the nature, the origin and cause, the number, the effects, the minister, and the recipient of the Sacraments Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Sacraments     Sacraments …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • ЕВХАРИСТИЯ. ЧАСТЬ II — Е. в православной Церкви II тысячелетия Е. в Византии в XI в. К XI в. визант. богослужение приобрело почти тот вид, какой оно сохраняло в правосл. Церкви все последующее тысячелетие; в его основе лежала древняя к польская традиция, значительно… …   Православная энциклопедия

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