Reading Rites: Sacraments and the Community of Signs

Karmen Mackendrick

in Divine Enticement

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780823242894
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780823242931 | DOI:
Reading Rites: Sacraments and the Community of Signs

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This chapter takes up the Augustinian idea of sacraments as “sacred signs” or “visible words,” by focussing on questions of efficacy and meaning. It discusses the idea of the sacrament as cause, as sign, and as causal sign before turning to the question of meaning-making in community and community-making by reading. Sacraments are made by the communities that they form in turn, and, insofar as they remain enticements to the sacred, they maintain the openness of the boundaries of those communities. This chapter uses semiotic theory from Eco, Baudrillard, and Augustine to argue for what Eco (following Peirce) calls abductive signification, a creative construction of meaning, as a way of reading the sacraments. In this particular seduction of signs is the communal construction of the meaning of the sacred as something more engaging and more open than simple reference.

Keywords: Sacraments; Sacramental theology; Augustine; Umberto Eco; Semiotics; community

Chapter.  11437 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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