THE POWER OF THE SACRAMENTS
The biblical salvation history teaches that after falling from the standard God has made for us, human beings, through the fall of our first parents, Adam and Eve, God our Father, in his infinite goodness, has chosen to restore us back to our original relationship with him by the gift of and the sinless atoning sacrifice of Jesus his only Begotten Son. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) We owed the dept we could not pay and he (Jesus) paid the debt he did not owe so as to set us free from the bondage of sin and evil. Jesus is, therefore, the revelation of the hidden nature of God’s plan to restore all things to himself (Ephesians 1:9-12). He is the primordial sacrament of God; sacrament being, in simple terms, what we see in order to relate to a greater reality we do not see – what is seen is temporal, what is seen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18)
After his spotless atoning death and resurrection, Jesus gave the Great Commission to his Church to carry on his mission of salvation; to go on that power of his victory over sin and evil to preach the Gospel of salvation to all nations and whoever believes, to baptize them in the name of the Blessed Trinity and he promised his abiding presence with her until the end of time. (Matthew 28:18-20)
It is in this ensuing command that the church gets the mandate to celebrate the sacraments. The sacraments are therefore the outward signs instituted by Christ and entrusted to his church by which divine life is dispensed to us. (Catechism of the Catholic Church – CCC #1131)
In a nutshell, Jesus has left his Church:
Three sacraments of Christian Initiation – Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Communion.
Two sacraments of Healing – Confession and Anointing of the sick.
Two sacraments of Communion – Marriage and Holy Orders (Ordination).
“Baptism is God’s most beautiful and magnificent gift….we call it gift, grace, anointing, enlightenment, garment of immortality, bath of rebirth, seal and most precious gift. It is called gift because it is conferred on those who bring nothing of their own, grace since it is given even to the guilty; Baptism because sin is buried in the water, anointing for it is priestly and royal as are those who are anointed; enlightenment because is radiates light; clothing since it veils our shame; bath because it washes; and seal as it is our guard and the sign of God’s Lordship” (CCC #1216). So Baptism incorporates us into Christ and forms us into God’s people. This first sacrament pardons all our past sins, rescues us from the power of darkness, and brings us to the dignity of adopted children (1John 3:1)
We Catholics have a great devotion and worship of Jesus in Holy Communion (Blessed Sacrament). According to the Scriptures, Jesus, at the last supper before his death, had asked believers to gather and consecrate unleavened bread and wine as a living memory of his saving death on the cross and his resurrection to new life. So at Mass, we receive this pledge of new and eternal life in the Holy Eucharist as the body and blood of Christ, offered for redemption of mankind. If properly spiritually prepared to receive Holy Communion, we approach the minister extending our open palms, or extending our tongue.
The Holy Eucharist is ‘the source and summit of the Christian life.” Coming to the Eucharist, we eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man, so that, according to his promise, we may have eternal life (John 6: 54-55) and show forth the unity of God’s people. By offering ourselves with Christ, we share in the universal sacrifice, i.e. the entire community of the redeemed offered to God by Christ their High Priest, until he comes again in glory. (The Rites, vol. 1, p.3).
Non-Catholics or Catholics who are not prepared to receive Holy Communion are also warmly invited to join the communion procession line, with both arms crossed over the chest in the form of an X and receive a blessing from the minister. Be assured that God’s mercy is available to all who ask for it. Sacramental confession or reconciliation with God is available every Saturday here in the Church of St. Patrick at 4:00pm, or upon request to the priest. God bless you!
Confirmation perfects Baptismal grace; it is the Sacrament which gives the Holy Spirit in order to root us more deeply in the divine filiation (adoption), incorporate us more firmly into Christ, strengthen our bond with the Church, associate us more closely with her mission, and help us bear witness to the Christian faith in words accompanied by deeds (CCC #1316). “He is the power of God, our counselor, the one who gives us consolation and strength to move forward from our comfort.” – Pope Francis
RECONCILIATION / CONFESSION / PENANCE
Those who approach the Sacrament of Penance (Confession) obtain pardon from God’s mercy for the offense committed against him after baptism, and are, at the same time, reconciled with the Church which they have wounded by their sins and; which by charity, by example and by prayer labors for their conversion” (CCC #1422). We all fall short of the Glory of God through sin (Romans 3:23), but because God’s mercy is greater than our sinfulness the Lord constituted the sacrament of Penance for the pardoning of sin committed after Baptism. (John 20:21-23, Matthew 19:20, Matthew 18:19)
ANOINTING OF THE SICK
“By the Sacred Anointing of the Sick and the prayer of the minister the whole Church commends those who are ill to the suffering and glorified Lord, that he may comfort them, raise them up and save them.” (CCC #1499)
Holy Orders is the Sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end time: thus it is the Sacrament of apostolic ministry. (CCC #1536)
This is the Sacrament which unites a man and woman as husband and wife. The matrimonial covenant, by which man and woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole life, is by nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring.
These Sacraments proclaim God’s superabundant and everlasting love. They call every human being to respond to God’s love by living their lives in Jesus Christ, the light of the world, the bread come down from heaven that gives eternal life (John 6:51). They bring reconciliation with God and indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit. They lead to conversion and sanctification. They give divine life, offer grace, fuel Christian living and union with God. They bring about eternal salvation. They are in fact the building blocks of a life focused on “Being a Saint” which everyone is called to. In the Sacraments, Jesus is present and active to heal, to bless, and to transform by his grace.
It is very easy to get caught up with the rat race of life. But Galatians 5:1 teaches that the more we open our hearts to Jesus and his gifts in the Sacraments, yield to him, invite him into our lives, give him permission into our loves, put our trust in him, the more we can experience freedom from all that oppress us – our fears, anxiety, passion, emotions, disappointments, enslavements, etc.
This is what the Good News is. It is God’s call to abundant life and our response to that invitation. Do you need healing and restoration in your heart and life? Are you thirsting for something greater? There’s a reason for the thirst or hunger. It is because the good Lord who created us has put a vacuum in every human heart, (although sometimes we try to fill it with junk) and nothing can truly satisfy that vacuum except him. St. Augustine famously put it well in the following prayer “O Lord, you have made us for yourselves and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Says the Lord Jesus.