Tag Archives: sacrament

The sacraments are events

[T]he sacraments constitute the events of a time which is the tension between the Resurrection and the Parousia …. Thus during the delay of the Parousia, the Eucharist prevents humanity, in this foretaste of celestial food …. And the Eucharist is the sacrament of unity which gathers about Christ of glory, present in the community, all nations in order to offer them through His hands to the Father.

Jean Cardinal Daniélou, SJ
Marxist History and Sacred History, 508-9

Christ is present in His Church today

The beautiful sections of Pope Paul VI’s encylical Mysterium Fidei (1965), are the ones dealing with the manner in which Our Lord is present in the Church today. Christmastide is nothing if not about the Presence of Someone who makes a difference in our lives, who redeems us from sin, who gives Himself completely, par excellence, to us in the Eucharist. The Presence is not about the doing of nice things, but offering us concretely eternal life. As Saint Ignatius of Antioch famously said of the Eucharist, the Presence of the Lord in the Eucharist is given to us as the “medicine of immortality.”

The full text of Mysterium Fidei is obligatory reading for those who want to be well-educated in the Faith. Emphasis added.

Detail - Glory of the New Born Christ in prese...

Glory of the New Born Christ Child in presence of God Father and the Holy Spirit (Annakirche, Vienna) Adam and Eve are represented bellow Jesus Christ Ceiling painted by Daniel Gran (1694-1757).

35. All of us realize that there is more than one way
in which Christ is present in His Church. We want to go into this very joyful
subject, which the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy presented briefly, at
somewhat greater length. Christ is present in His Church when she prays, since
He is the one who “prays for us and prays in us and to whom we pray: He
prays for us as our priest, He prays in us as our head, He is prayed to by us
as our God”; and He is the one who has promised, “Where two or three
are gathered together in my name, I am there in the midst of them.” He is
present in the Church as she performs her works of mercy, not just because
whatever good we do to one of His least brethren we do to Christ Himself, but
also because Christ is the one who performs these works through the Church and
who continually helps men with His divine love. He is present in the Church as
she moves along on her pilgrimage with a longing to reach the portals of
eternal life
, for He is the one who dwells in our hearts through faith, and who
instills charity in them through the Holy Spirit whom He gives to us.

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No charge for sacraments

I read a news item by an Italian journalist bringing to light a recent letter of the Most Reverend Socrates Villegas, VP of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines where he sternly criticized the practice of priests charging for the administration of sacraments and sacramentals. Villegas said, in part, 

My dear brother priests, the sacraments are not to be celebrated in exchange for money. The trafficking for money in spiritual things is simony. It is a sin.
News reports are here and here.

simony in MS.jpg

This is not a problem exclusive to the Philippines but North American priests do similarly in cash-poor parish. It is more subtle, but the attitude is the same.
The faithful are rarely taught to understand that you don’t buy a Mass, nor do you pay a priest to  pray for a loved one, living or deceased. All Souls is coming and there is a high concern that priests will try to rake in the cash.

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Confession: a source of New Life

The Sacrament of Confession (aka Reconciliation or Penance) is a source of a new life for the Christian. It sets the soul ablaze in the love of God. It radically re-orients your life anew.

Change is difficult; admitting that one is a sinner is the grace of God in action. It is only by God’s grace do we have the fortitude and courage to face our ugly self. Who wants to admit one is a sinner? Not many people. But when you realize that holiness is recognized in knowing who you are, that you are a loved sinner, and accepting the invitation to speak with Jesus Christ through the ministry of the priesthood, all is different.
The confession of sins helps us to confront our pride and our wrong-doing in a concrete, loving manner. This sacrament is nothing more, nothing less than taking the merciful hand of God.
Throw yourself onto the mercy of the Triune God. A little encouragement is here in this short video on Confession.

Thinking about the sacrament

There is no such thing as pure spirituality because there is no such thing as spirituality without reality. One needs a body to have a healing, water is required for holy water.

As Chesteron reminds us, the sacraments are both certain and incredible, both ideas are true and yet a paradox. The sacraments of the Church are solidly physical and wonderfully spiritual. The sacraments, as known by the Church, are ways of seeing (faith) the invisible. Any of the seven sacraments are philosophically the same as knowing the paradox of God: Spirit becoming flesh. Look at the greatest sacrament, the Eucharist, it is spirit and substance together, it is the Presence of the One who was crucified and risen, it’s healing and food and a pledge. And all these things are true we can never exhaust the meaning of the sacrament because of its divine reality.
Sacraments coming face to face with God, and face to face with ourselves. They reveal God’s face of love and mercy, and they also pull back the veils that cover our face. God comes and finds us through the sacraments.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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