For May, Hope and Purpose Ministries is taking a closer look at the sacraments of the Catholic Church. We feel it is important to continually renew our understanding of the sacraments as a way to continue to grow in our faith.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us the following about the sacraments:
The sacraments are efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us. The visible rites by which the sacraments are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper to each sacrament. They bear fruit in those who receive them with the required dispositions. (CCC, 1131)
Christ instituted the sacraments of the new law. There are seven: Baptism, Confirmation (or Chrismation), the Eucharist, Penance, the Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders and Matrimony. The seven sacraments touch all the stages and all the important moments of Christian life: they give birth and increase, healing and mission to the Christian’s life of faith. There is thus a certain resemblance between the stages of natural life and the stages of the spiritual life. (CCC, 1210)
The sacraments are sometimes divided into three groups: The sacraments of Christian initiation, the sacraments of healing, and the sacraments at the service of communion and the mission of the faithful. Over the next few weeks, we will discuss each group of sacraments. As we come to each sacrament, it is important to remember that:
The Holy Spirit prepares the faithful for the sacraments by the Word of God and the faith which welcomes that word in well-disposed hearts. Thus the sacraments strengthen faith and express it. (CCC, 1133)
The Holy Spirit prepares us for each sacrament. Each time we participate in the sacraments, we are strengthened in our faith. The sacraments are not just rituals that we go through because someone else says that we must do them. As Pope Francis has said, “The Sacraments are not mere appearances, they are not rituals; they are the power of Christ; Jesus Christ is present in the Sacraments.”
“The purpose of the sacraments is to sanctify men, to build up the Body of Christ and, finally, to give worship to God. Because they are signs they also instruct. They not only presuppose faith, but by words and objects they also nourish, strengthen, and express it. That is why they are called ‘sacraments of faith.’” (CCC, 1123)
From our baptism into the faith, Jesus gives us power. Our Christian faith is empowered by Christ through the sacrament. It is this power that gives us the strength and fortitude to continue with our journey of faith. The Holy Spirit prepares the faithful for the sacraments and Christ empowers us through the sacraments for the glory and honor of God, the Father. This is power given to carry out our mission within the Church—to participate in the priestly, prophetic, and kingly mission of Christ.
What will you do with the power that you have been given to you?