My Faith

Topic

The “Liturgy” in its broadest definition refers to every form of liturgical rite offered within the Church. This includes each of the Seven Sacraments, the Liturgy of the Hours, Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, blessings, and various other forms of liturgical rites and celebrations. Among all liturgical worship, the Sacraments take pride of place. Baptism is the gateway to the Sacraments and the Eucharist is the summit of the Sacraments. Each one offers the grace for a particular need. Too often the Sacraments are seen primarily as an external ritual we participate in. They may be inspiring and uplifting, but some people never go beyond the externals. This is sad because the Sacraments are not meant to be only external signs and celebrations, they are also meant to be transforming internal realities in which we personally encounter the Living God! It is this deeply personal aspect that we will highlight here.
A sacrament is an action of Christ and the Church that brings about what it signifies. For example, the water poured at Baptism is both an external sign and a spiritual reality. In this sacrament, the external and visible sign of washing with water actually accomplishes the interior and spiritual reality of cleansing the soul from all sin, making the person a new creation. When this is understood and believed, the Sacraments are able to take full effect in our lives. We must comprehend what is taking place and allow the spiritual reality to touch and change our lives. The proper attitude to have toward the celebration of the Sacraments is an attitude of personal union with God. We must realize that this is a heart to heart encounter in which we can be deeply transformed. If we fail to realize this, the Sacrament is still valid; however, we will not allow God to change us. It would be as if God showed up, spoke to us, invited us to let Him change our life, and we simply ignored Him. Our lack of personal participation does not change the fact that God showed up, but it does eliminate the possibility of receiving Him into our soul. When celebrating any one of the Sacraments we must make it our goal to meet God in the depths of our being. It must be a real and transforming encounter with each person of the Trinity. We must look at the Sacraments with the spiritual eyes of faith: knowing, loving and receiving God Himself. This takes an authentic attitude of prayer.
There is a story of a child who came to realize this reality by watching his mother and father at Mass. This little child would follow them up to Holy Communion, return to the pew, and then watch as they closed their eyes and prayed. They tuned out everything else around them and entered into a deep communion with God. This child had been taught his catechism and understood that Holy Communion was the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ. But it was this personal witness of his parents that truly taught the lesson of the Eucharist. Watching them encounter God in a real and personal way provided the insight necessary for him to want this sacred gift and to believe in the reality of the Eucharist. He understood, from the witness of his parents, that the Eucharist was real and deeply personal.
It would be a very good idea if you spent time reflecting upon the way you celebrate the Sacraments. Do you meet God in a personal way? Do you truly pray the Sacraments? Are you letting God transform you as you participate? If you were to read this book in detail, knew all about the Sacraments and believed in what you study, this would not be enough. You must then live the Sacraments. They must become alive in your life. They must be true encounters with God and deeply personal encounters. Be honest with yourself. Think about your participation. And where your participation is lacking, resolve to make a change. You won’t regret it! And you’ll discover that these precious gifts actually can transform your life giving you all you need to live a fulfilled, holy and happy life!
The Seven Sacraments are categorized as follows: Sacraments of Initiation – Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist Sacraments of Healing – Confession, Anointing of the Sick Sacraments at the Service of Communion – Marriage, Holy Orders The following chapters will look at each of the Sacraments. We will reflect upon them not only from the theological and catechetical point of view (meaning the Church’s teaching about them), but also from this very personal point of view. We have to discover how these sacraments can completely change our lives. We must understand that we meet God in each of them and that this encounter is deeply personal. So be open to looking at the Seven Sacraments in a whole new way!
Three to Get In: Sacraments of Initiation The Sacraments of Christian initiation—Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist—lay the foundations of every Christian life. “The sharing in the divine nature given to men through the grace of Christ bears a certain likeness to the origin, development, and nourishing of natural life. The faithful are born anew by Baptism, strengthened by the Sacrament of Confirmation, and receive in the Eucharist the food of eternal life. By means of these sacraments of Christian initiation, they thus receive in increasing measure the treasures of the divine life and advance toward the perfection of charity” (Paul VI, apostolic constitution, Divinae consortium naturae: AAS 63 (1971) 657; cf. RCIA Introduction 1-2). (CCC #1212) We’re all familiar with initiation rites. For example, there are often rites of initiation for those college students who choose to join a fraternity or sorority. Or, when joining the military you have to go through basic training as a sort of initiation. When joining the Knights of Columbus in the Catholic Church, you must go through initiation ceremonies called degrees to become fully initiated.