Is it really important that the wine we use for Communion be made only of grapes? Why not anoint the sick with corn oil instead of olive oil? Do the material parts of the Sacraments really make that much difference? Yes, they do!
In this unique and fascinating book, we are shown why the material elements of the sacraments - like bread, wine, water, and oil - are absolutely crucial to our faith. You'll find not only the answers to your questions, but the reasons behind those answers.
And in the end, you'll have learned something important about our relationship with God: that God cares for our material being as well as our spiritual being.
“I highly recommend this book to anyone interested on why the Church so adamantly insists on the importance of particular material substances for the valid use of the God-given means of grace. This book convincingly demonstrates that controversies surrounding such seemingly trivial issues as wheaten vs. non-wheaten bread for the Eucharist evince the great chasm that exists between most of contemporary thought on the one hand and a truly Catholic worldview on the other. A philosophical and Scriptural tour de force!”—online review.
“Dr. Lang holds PhDs in both mathematics AND philosophy and he approaches the subject matter (sic!) through both “secular”, logical thinking AND through faith/scripture arguments. The first four chapters on water, wheat flour, grape wine, and olive oil lead the reader in a very informative and interesting, deep discussion - but it was Chapter 5 and 6 on the human “matter” involved in the sacraments of Holy Orders and Matrimony (i.e., genders) that “blew me away”. Dr. Lang managed to present a case for objective morality paralleling BUT independent of Scripture, that is, accessible and acceptable to any reader, believer or not. His argumentation on human morality (and the natural role of the genders based on and relating to it) is so clear and deep that I would certainly recommend this book (or at least those chapters) to be required reading in our university’s liberal arts/theology core.”—online review
“David Lang’s book explains why the Catholic Church takes the position that she has no power to alter the matter used in the sacraments. The matter or material used in each sacrament, whether water in Baptism or wheat bread and grape wine in the Eucharist, matters because it originates in divine choice. Lang shows how that divine choice fits into the long panorama of salvation history recorded in the Scriptures. Lang also relies on philosophical argument to show how particular matter makes a difference. This reasoning also applies to the issue of priestly ordination of women because the proper matter for the sacrament of holy orders is a male candidate. Lang’s work illustrates the Catholic view that God works through particular forms of matter and so makes the choice of matter significant. Lang’s arguments counteract the New Gnosticism prevalent in modern Western culture that views distinctions between different types of matter as unimportant. It is worth reading because it exposes how the desire of some to arbitrarily change the sacraments contradicts both divine revelation and human reasoning.”—online review