Stasiak, Kurt, OSB. Sacramental Theology: Means of Grace, Way of Life. Loyola Press, 2002.
Fr. Kurt's book on sacramental theology is part of Catholic Basics: A Pastoral Ministry Series. In June 2012, Father used the book as a basic reference in preparation for an Oblate Study Days retreat on the sacraments held at Saint Meinrad Archabbey.
Fr. Kurt is the prior of the archabbey and teaches sacramental theology in the Seminary and School of Theology. His book is an introduction to the history, theology and pastoral practice of the Church's liturgy and the sacraments. The book was developed for the reader who has not had the opportunity to study in a formal and systematic program of sacramental theology.
Chapter 1 includes two fundamental principles of the liturgy and the sacraments: they are the work of the Church and the work of God. The next three chapters focus on some of the important teachings of the Church on the sacraments.
Chapter 3 examines the sacraments as visible signs of what the Church teaches and how they confer grace as a gift to us. Chapter 4 discusses the institution of the sacraments by Christ and presents a history of the early development of each of the seven sacraments. It also discusses what the Church has thought about the sacraments and how it approached the sacraments throughout history.
Chapter 5 deals primarily with the sacrament of Baptism, the first sacrament that Christians encounter. Chapter 6 outlines the history and theology of the Eucharist, that is, the summit of Christian life. The last chapter briefly discusses the last five sacraments of the Church. It places a special emphasis on the theological and pastoral aspects of Reconciliation and Confirmation.
Fr. Kurt believes his book is not an exhaustive study of the sacraments, but rather a primer for those who want to learn more about them. He recommends other sources for further study and reflection.
The most significant part of this book is how it helps the reader understand what the Church thinks about the sacraments and, more importantly, why.
Thomas J. Rillo, oblate