Friday, July 20, 2012

The Sacraments of the [Catholic] Church

As a supplement to my formal education in the Anglican tradition, last fall I completed all of the
 education required to be confirmed into the Catholic Church. 

One of the assigned texts -"Handbook for Today's Catholic: Fully Indexed to the Catechism of the Catholic Church"-outlined the church sacraments as transcribed below:

The Sacraments of the Church 

          The seven sacraments touch all the stages and all the important moments of Christian life. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1210

Baptism: New Life and Ways of Living 

          Through symbolic immersion in the waters of baptism, you are "grafted into the paschal mystery of Christ." In a mysterious way, you "die with him, are buried with him, and rise with him" (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, 6) [1086].
          As a baptized Christian, you are an adopted brother or sister of Christ, "hid with Christ in God," but a visible member of his Body [1266].
          Having died to sin (both original sins and personal sins are cleansed away in the waters of baptism) [1263,1264], you have entered the community of the Church "as through a door." Your indelible baptism into Christ was the beginning of a unique lifelong vocation [1214-1216, 1263,1271]. […]
          Through your baptism, you share with others "the sacramental bond of unity among all who through it are reborn" (Decree on Ecumenism, 22). Your baptism can never be repeated because it binds you to God forever. The bond is unbreakable. It is possible for you to lose grace and even faith, but you cannot lose your baptism. You are marked as one of God's own. That same bond links you to all other baptised persons in a sacramental way. You are one of us and we are all "sacrament persons." Together we are called to live until death the baptismal mystery into which we have been plunged [941, 1271, 2791].

Confirmation: Seal of the Spirit, Gift of the Father [1285-1321] 

          Confirmation is the sacrament by which those born anew in baptism receive the seal of the Holy Spirit, the Gift of the Father. Along with baptism and the Eucharist, confirmation is a sacrament of initiation- in this case, initiation into the life of adult Christian witness. The deepened presence of the Spirit, who comes to us in this sacrament, is meant to sustain us in a lifetime of witness to Christ and service to others. […]
          The word Gift, used in confirmation, is spelled with a capital, because the Gift we receive in this sacrament is the Spirit himself.

Eucharist: Sacrifice and Sacrament [1322-1419] 

          "At the last supper, on the night when he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his body and blood. This he did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of this cross throughout the ages until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved spouse, the church, a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, and bond of charity, 'a paschal banquet in which Christ is received, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us'". (Constitution of the Sacred Liturgy, 47).
          This mystery is the very center and culmination of Christian life. It is the "source and the summit of all preaching the Gospel…the center of the assembly of the faithful" (Decree of the Ministry and the Life of Priests, 5).
          In every Mass, Christ is present, both in the person of his priest and especially under the form of bread and wine. In every Mass, his death becomes a present reality, offered as our sacrifice to God in an unbloody and sacramental manner. As often as the sacrifice of the cross is celebrated on an altar, the work of our redemption is carried on. […]

Penance: Reconciliation [1422-1498] 

          Penance is the sacrament by which we receive God's healing forgiveness for sins committed after baptism. The rite is called reconciliation because it reconciles us not only with God but with the church community. Both these aspects of reconciliation are important [1468-1470].
          As members of Christ's body, everything we do affects the whole Body. Sin wounds and weakens the Body of Christ; the healing we receive in penance restores health and strength to the Church, as well as to ourselves. […]
          When you confess your sins sincerely, with true sorrow and resolution not to sin again, God rejoices. […]

(My Copy of "Handbook for Today's Catholic"
Photo by: Donna Welles 07/20/12)

Anointing of the Sick [1499-1532] 

          In serious illness you experience mortality. You realize that at some time you are going to die. If you are not seriously ill, but infirm or aged, you know this same experience.
          Because these circumstances lead you to face God in this light of your own death, there is something especially sacramental about the condition you are in. And so there is a formal sacrament for this sacramental situation: anointing of the sick [1522].
          Anointing does not hasten the act of death. In this sacrament, however, God does invite you to commune with him in this light of your final meeting with him. Through this sacrament, the entire Church asks God to lighten your sufferings, forgive your sins, and bring you to eternal salvation. […]

Holy Orders: Ministerial Priesthood [1536-1600] 

          The Church is the Body of Christ. As such, the whole Church shares in the nature and tasks of Christ, our head. This includes sharing in his priesthood.
          But beyond sharing this "common priesthood of the faithful," there is a special or "ministerial" priesthood that certain members of the Church receive through the sacrament of holy orders.
          Each type of priesthood- common or ministerial- is a sharing in the priesthood of Christ. And both types are related to eachother. But there is a basic difference between them. In this Eucharistic sacrifice, for example, the ordained priest acts "in the person of Christ" and offers the sacrifice to God in the name of all, and the people join with the priest in that offering. The two roles- of priest and people- go together. […]

Matrimony: Sacrament of Life-giving Oneness [1601-1666]

          A couple does not live a life of love because they happen to be compatible. They do it consciously and deliberately because it is their vocation and because matrimony is called "a great mystery…in reference to Christ and the church" (Ephesians 5:32).
          Matrimony is much more than a private arrangement between two people. It is a sacramental vocation in and for the Church. It is a medium through which Christ reveals and deepens the mystery of his oneness with us, his Body. […]

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