Tag Archives: sacrament

Spouses are to help each other follow a path of sanctity, Pope Benedict teaches

St Bridget of Sweden.JPGOn Wednesday, October 27, Pope Benedict XVI noted that in
the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, the Venerable Servant of God John Paul II
proclaimed Saint Bridget of Sweden (1303-1373), co-patroness of the whole of
Europe. It’s the hope of all of us, as Benedict indicated, that Saint Bridget
“…can intercede effectively before God, to obtain the much-awaited grace of the
full unity of all Christians. We want to pray … for this same intention, which
we consider so important, so that Europe will be able to be nourished from its
own Christian roots, invoking the powerful intercession of St. Bridget of
Sweden, faithful disciple of God, co-patroness of Europe.”

In his address the
Pope noted something that I think is quite interesting, perhaps quite bold to
say, even if it is the teaching of the Church, that married couples are to help
each other get to heaven: “to advance in the Christian life.” Our Catholic
teaching on marriage is that man and woman are to form a “conjugal
” that is “follow a path of sanctity.”
 The two pertinent paragraphs
of a longer address are here:

“Bridget, spiritually guided by a learned
religious who initiated her in the study of the Scriptures, exercised a very
positive influence on her own family that, thanks to her presence, became a
true “domestic church.” Together with her husband, she adopted the
Rule of the Franciscan Tertiaries. She practiced works of charity towards the
indigent with generosity; she also founded a hospital. Together with his wife,
Ulf learned to improve his character and to advance in the Christian life
. On
returning from a long pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, taken in 1341 with
other members of the family, the spouses matured the plan to live in
continence, but shortly after, in the peace of a monastery to which he had
retired, Ulf concluded his earthly life.

Cristina & Renzo Oct 24 2010.jpg

The first period of Bridget’s life
helps us to appreciate what today we could define an authentic “conjugal
spirituality”: Together, Christian spouses can follow a path of sanctity,
supported by the grace of the sacrament of Marriage
. Not infrequently, as
happened in the lives of St. Bridget and Ulf, it is the wife who with her
religious sensibility, with delicacy and gentleness, is able to make the
husband follow a path of faith. I am thinking, with recognition, of so many
women who, day in day out, still today illumine their families with their
testimony of Christian life
. May the Spirit of the Lord fuel the sanctity of
Christian spouses, to show the world the beauty of marriage lived according to
the values of the Gospel: love, tenderness, mutual help, fecundity in
generating and educating children, openness and solidarity to the world,
participation in the life of the Church

When was the last time you heard a priest speak of marriage in such a beautiful way? That husband and wife not only love each other, raise children, and are active members of the Church but also see to it that the other spouse intimately know the person of Jesus Christ. How important it is to realize that we have to help each other see God face-to-face!!! When we learn the lesson that indeed heart to speaks to heart in marriage in Christ, then will the renewal of the Church happen.

Marriage and being in the state of sin

Father Z has a key blog post addressing the fruitfulness of the sacrament of Marriage, if received in a state of mortal sin. How often do we seriously think about the fruitfulness of the sacraments we receive and how that fruitfulness spills over into our everyday lives? Is it old fashion for a priest (anyone else) to insist that the couple entering into marriage make a good confession prior to marriage ceremony? No, I don’t think it’s quaint. Actually, I think it is not only an essential part of the “marriage event” but a sacramental moment in following more closely Christ and building a culture of love among the spouses, plus it contributes to engaging our freedom. Ask yourself, why wouldn’t you want to be in “good graces” with God, self and your spouse-to-be? God’s mercy is open to all and it is a wonderful thing to live in…

The newly baptized, the new lambs: Isti sunt Agni novelli

B16 baptizes Easter 2010.jpgThese are the
lambs, newly-baptized,

who proclaimed the
glad tidings:  Alleluia! recently come to
the waters, and full of God’s
light and splendor. Alleluia! Alleluia!

Lady, Queen, whom
grace from heaven, Has preferred to
all on earth, Now renewed, the
world is brightened, By your holy

Oh, how lovely and
how wondrous, Is the cure that
saved us all: Jesus, in His love,
becomes now, Victim for His people’s

Now renewed through
holy washing, In the font of our
rebirth, Soon the chrism’s
oil and fragrance, Will give strength
to us on earth!

To each Christian
now is given, Christ’s own Flesh
as Bread of Life. Christ’s own Blood
becomes the sweetest, Source of joy in all our strife!

Easter week brings so many joys, graces and consolations. One such joy, grace and consolation that I’ve been thinking and praying about all week during Mass and praying the Divine Office, is the is new life in Christ that those received into the Church at the Easter Vigil and on Easter Sunday. The gift of salvation given to us is has once again been given to other called not by human concern but by the Holy Spirit. The Neophytes –the newly-initiated Christians who were baptized and confirmed and communicated– live differently now that the doors of our God-given destiny has been received. Musically we can think of the chant text given above, “Isti sunt Agni novelli,” taken from the Cistercian collection Laudes Vespertine (Westmalle, Belgium, 1939) which gives a keen insight into this beautiful mystery of faith. May Christ shower His blessing on all of us!

Getting married at the Vatican

Yes, it is possible to be wed at the Basilica of Saint Peter’s –the Vatican– but there’s a lot of paperwork and advanced planning. I am sure it is a beautiful experience. Watch the video clip.


A substantial part of the Pope’s Sunday Angelus address is worth thinking about: the reality of Baptism. Why? Because I think many of us have yet to grasp some of the essential points of what the Catholic Church believes and teaches. What I notice, as you may have, that even the clergy have a faulty understanding of what the sacrament of Baptism is meant to do for the person. It is not a social event for the family. It is not an opportunity to quiet the screams of family members (grandma) regarding “the way it is done in this family”, etc. Baptism is about a life in Christ. Period.

BUT what is the sacrament of Baptism all about? At the time of baptizing children or baptizing adults we are given a supreme gift by God: love. Let me briefly explain what baptism is and what it gives to us. These points don’t exhaust the teaching and the conversation of what happens when one is baptized:

A. there’s a forgiveness of sins –the baptized person “dies to sin” (Romans 6); for the adult person there is repentance and deliberate renunciation of personal sin, AKA, conversion;

B. there’s a configuration to Christ, that is, a person comes to a close union with Jesus: baptism unties the Christian with Christ–it is a union of mind and will; the person is made new; the the baptized person is a sharer in Christ’s own paschal mystery (life, death, resurrection and ascension, Romans 6:1-11); the soul is changed permanently, which we call sacramental character;


C. the baptized person is given the gift of the Holy Spirit–he or she is “re-generated” in the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13); the gift of the Holy Spirit is personally present and dwelling in each person; the Holy Spirit gives eache person the grace of becoming sons and daughters of God the Father, also the Spirit gives each person the power to say, “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6): St Paul is clear, by the Holy Spirit we can utter the holy name, Jesus Christ and call Him “Lord”;

D. as baptized persons we have a new relationship with God the Father as adopted children of God; this new relationship speaks of our destiny–God wants us to be saved–He offers each person salvation through Jesus Christ AND His Church;

E. baptism gives each person membership in the Church, not like a membership at a gym or a country club or Sam’s Club; we are brought into, incorporated in the Church as a communion of faith and a communion of saints; in the Church we receive grace AND we work out our salvation through the worshipping community and together as a community in mission to realize the Gospel.
And now the Pope’s address:

The Baptism of the Lord [the feast celebrated this past Sunday, Jan 10] suggests quite well the general sense of the Christmas festivity in which the theme of “becoming sons of God” thanks to the only-begotten Son’s taking on of our humanity constitutes a dominant element. He became man so that we could become sons of God. God is born so that we could be re-born.

These concepts continually return in the liturgical texts of Christmas and constitute a powerful motive for reflection and hope. We think of what St. Paul writes to the Galatians: “God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption” (Galatians 4:4-5); or again, of St. John in the prologue to his Gospel: “To those who received him he gave the power to become sons of God” (John 1:12). This stupendous mystery that is our “second birth” — the re-birth of a human being from “above,” from God (cf. John 3:1-8) — is realized and summarized in the sacramental sign of baptism.

With this sacrament man really becomes son — son of God. From that point the goal of his life consists in arriving at, in a free and conscious way, that which from the very beginning was his destination as man. “Become what you are” — represents the basic educational principle of the human person redeemed by grace. Such a principle has many analogies with human growth, where the relationship between parents and children passes, through separation and crisis, from total dependence to the awareness of being children, to recognition through the gift of life received and to the maturity and capacity to give one’s life. Born to new life through baptism, the Christian too begins his journey of growth in the faith, which will carry him to consciously invoke God as “Abba — Father,” turning to him with gratitude and living in the joy of being his son.

A model of society is also derived from baptism: that of being brothers. Fraternity cannot be established through an ideology, much less through the decree of just any power that has been set up. We recognize ourselves as brothers through a humble but profound awareness of being sons of the one heavenly Father. As Christians, thanks to the gift of the Holy Spirit received in baptism, we have the gift and task of living as sons of God and brothers, to be like “leaven” in a new humanity, united and rich in peace and hope. We are helped in this by the consciousness of having, besides a Father in heaven, a mother too, the Church, of whom the Virgin Mary is the perennial model. To her we entrust the newly baptized children and their families, and we ask for all the joy to be re-born every dayfrom above,” from the love of God, that makes us his children and brothers among ourselves.

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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