Jeffrey Steel on Sacraments and Symbols
Symbol is the means of participation in that reality. That is what symbolon is all about. Rites express the faith and mind of the Church regarding the saving effects of the sacraments. It is not magical powers as Mr. Johnson would so wrongly see it but liturgical actions and gestures rooted in a New Testament worldview embody the new life in the Church, confirm the real presence of Christ and communicate salvation and sanctification to the community of faith. Priests are ordained to conduct these prescribed rites, not as magical powers as I’ve said, but as the rites of the Church which communicate reality and move us into participation in this reality. It is in that sense that Prof. Brown speaks of mediation of a priest at the altar. Until Christ returns, that is simply the means by which God calls us to experience his reality and love and the means by which we participate in his love.